Tag: EU Trade

EU “LABELS” HYPOCRITICAL; ISRAELI LEFT DELUSIONAL— BUT TRUMP STILL HOPEFUL HE CAN SEAL A DEAL

Europe Mislabels Israel: Eugene Kontorovich, New York Times, Nov. 13, 2015: Jerusalem Post, Nov. 12, 2015 — This week the European Commission announced guidelines suggesting that Israeli products from areas that came under its control in 1967 be labeled “Israeli Settlement” products and not “Made in Israel” as they have been until now.

Who is Being Delusional?: Caroline B. Glick, Jerusalem Post, Nov. 19, 2015 — On Tuesday night, Channel 10 broadcast an interview with PLO chief and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in which Abbas admitted publicly for the first time that he rejected the peace plan then prime minister Ehud Olmert offered him in 2008.

Inconvenient Truths About the Middle East Peace Process: Aaron David Miller, Wall Street Journal, Nov. 23, 2015— John Kerry is off to the Middle East again. His itinerary

might surprise you, though.

Trump Plans to Force Peace Talks – a la Obama?: Ari Yashar, Arutz Sheva, Dec. 3, 2015 — Ahead of his trip to Israel this month, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump revealed in an interview…

 

On Topic Links

 

2 State Solution?: Dry Bones Blog, Nov. 18, 2015

German Parliament President: We Reject Settlement Labeling, Understand Israel's Anger: Lahav Harkov, Jerusalem Post, Dec. 2, 2015

European Hypocrisy: Why Single Israel Out?: Ofir Haivry, Ynet, Nov. 11, 2015  

Last Tango in Paris: Amotz Asa-El, Jerusalem Post, Nov. 21, 2015

 

 

EUROPE MISLABELS ISRAEL                      

                      Eugene Kontorovich                              

New York Times, Nov. 13, 2015

 

[Last month] the European Commission announced guidelines suggesting that Israeli products from areas that came under its control in 1967 be labeled “Israeli Settlement” products and not “Made in Israel” as they have been until now. The policy carves out a special legal rule for Israel, not only contradicting the European Union’s own official positions on these issues, but also going against rulings of European national courts, and violating basic tenets of the World Trade Organization.

 

Faced with criticism from both the right and the left in Israel and the United States, the European Union claims its action is merely “technical,” rather than politically motivated or punitive. Yet this is belied by the fact that the measure comes in response to explicitly political demands for labeling by some member states’ foreign ministers, as well as anti-Israel NGOs.

 

In fact, the labeling controversy must be viewed as just one step in a broader, purposeful and gradual escalation of anti-Israel measures by the European Union. Two years ago, the commission promulgated a regulation that barred spending money on Israeli academic, scientific or cultural projects in the West Bank or Golan Heights. Then the union began refusing to allow imports of certain Israeli agricultural products. Last year, 15 European states issued warnings, alerting people to unspecified legal dangers of interacting with Israeli settlements. These steps, while supposedly motivated by what the European Union sees as Israel’s occupation of territory, have been applied only to Israel, and not to other countries regarded as occupiers in international law, such as Morocco or Turkey.

 

Having warned about settlement products, the European Union is now labeling them. Diplomats in Brussels and NGOs have made clear that more coercive measures will follow. In this context, labeling is important not in its immediate economic effects but as a highly visible step in a conscious process of building a legal ghetto around Israel, within which a special set of rules applies.

 

What has largely escaped notice is that the labeling policy violates the European Union’s own express policy on such issues. The commission primarily justifies labeling as a necessary tool to provide consumers with the information that it does not regard the territories “as part of Israel.” However, European Union and national authorities that have addressed the issue have clearly ruled that special labeling is not required in such situations — neither for consumer protection nor to reflect the European Union’s view of the underlying sovereign status of territories.

Continue reading the main story

 

Thus the European Union allows Morocco — which has extensive trade ties with Europe, but has occupied Western Sahara since 1975, and populated it heavily with settlers — to export products from its occupied territory labeled “Made in Morocco.” When challenged, the commission formally declared that labeling such goods as “made in” Morocco is not misleading, and is consistent with European trade agreements.

 

Also, European courts have considered the consumer protection rationale specifically in the context of Israeli products, and rejected it. Just last year, the British Supreme Court ruled, in a case involving Ahava beauty products produced in the West Bank, that “there was no basis for saying that the average consumer would be misled” by a “Made in Israel” label. The court held that such labeling was not deceptive as a matter of both British and European Union law.

 

The problem is not that the European Union fails to live up to its standards in some cases, like that of Morocco. Rather, in these other cases the union explicitly denies the existence of these standards. Such inconsistency is not just hypocrisy. It is a legal violation in its own right. The European Union’s foundational treaties require regulatory “consistency.” And discrimination against trading partners represents a core violation of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade and other treaties of the World Trade Organization, as the law professor Avi Bell and I have shown in detail in a recent paper. The union’s labeling guidelines are manifestly discriminatory, as they apply only to Israel.

 

The World Trade Organization treaties establish the legal framework for international commerce. Under the W.T.O.’s nondiscrimination requirement, it is impermissible to apply trade rules and restrictions to some member countries and not to others. And the W.T.O.’s protections apply not just to a country’s sovereign territory, but also to areas of its “international responsibility,” such as occupied territories. The United States, with international approval, received the benefit of its international trade treaties even in territories it occupied in World War II, as well as in the Panama Canal Zone, where it made no claim of sovereignty. There is nothing novel about a country’s receiving full trade rights for nonsovereign areas under its administration.

 

The United States has a great deal riding on the integrity of the international trading system. But the European Union labeling threatens to establish a precedent that would allow politicization of the system, undermining United States economic interests in broad and unpredictable ways. Thus it is not surprising that earlier this year, the United States passed a law opposing such European Union measures against Israel. Making special rules for Israel has the undesired effect of reducing Israel’s incentives to take international law seriously: If the goal posts can be moved, there is less reason to play the game. As a putative role model for international law, the European Union’s greatest weapon is its probity and consistency. By damaging that, it harms its ability to set the global agenda.       

                               

                                                                       

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WHO IS BEING DELUSIONAL?

           Caroline B. Glick

                                            Jerusalem Post, Nov. 19, 2015

 

On Tuesday night, Channel 10 broadcast an interview with PLO chief and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in which Abbas admitted publicly for the first time that he rejected the peace plan then prime minister Ehud Olmert offered him in 2008. Olmert’s plan called for Israel to withdraw from the entire Old City of Jerusalem, including the Western Wall, and from 93.7 percent of Judea and Samaria. Olmert also offered sovereign Israeli territory to the Palestinians to compensate for the areas Israel would retain in Judea and Samaria. Abbas said his rejection was unequivocal. “I didn’t agree. I rejected it out of hand.”

 

For years, the story of Abbas’s rejection of Olmert’s 2008 offer has been underplayed. Many commentators have insisted Abbas didn’t really reject it, but just failed to respond. But now the truth is clear. Abbas is not interested either in peace or in Palestinian statehood. Abbas’s many apologists in the Israeli Left insist that he didn’t reject the plan on its merits. Rather, they argue, Abbas rejected Olmert’s offer because, by the time Olmert made it, he was involved in criminal investigations that forced him to resign from office eight months later.

 

Hogwash, says former AP reporter Mark Lavie. Following the interview’s broadcast, Lavie countered that if Abbas were truly interested in establishing an independent Palestinian state, he wouldn’t have cared about the political fortunes of the Israeli prime minister. He would have taken the offer and run, knowing that, as Olmert said, the likelihood that he’d get a similar offer in the next 50 years was nonexistent.

 

The most notable reaction to Abbas’s admission was the reaction that never came. The Israeli Left had no reaction to his interview. Abbas is the hero of the Left. He is their partner. He is their moderate. He is their man of peace. Abbas is the Palestinian leader to whom every leftist politician worth his snuff, from opposition leader Yitzhak Herzog to the Meretz Knesset faction make regular pilgrimages to prove their devotion to peace.

 

Their man in Ramallah received the most radical offer ever to see the light of day. And rather than accept it, he rejected it out of hand and refused to meet with Olmert ever again, and he openly admits it. The Left’s non-response is not surprising. Abbas’s decision to end all speculation about whether or not he is a man of peace is merely the latest blow reality has cast on their two-state formula.

 

The Left’s policy of land for peace failed more than 15 years ago when Abbas’s boss, Yasser Arafat, preferred war to peace and initiated the worst campaign of terrorism that Israel had ever experienced. Yet for the last 15 years, the Israeli “peace camp” has never wavered in its view that, despite it all, Israel must rid itself of Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem. Rather it members has grown angrier and angrier at their own people for abandoning them and less and less willing to agree that there is anything – including Israeli statehood itself – that is more important than giving up Jerusalem, Judea, and Samaria.

 

The Left’s reactionary position was on full display last Thursday at the annual “peace conference” hosted by the far left Haaretz newspaper. Last year, the conference’s audience attacked Bayit Yehudi Party leader Naftali Bennett both verbally and physically when he presented his plan to apply Israeli sovereignty over parts of Judea and Samaria. This year it was Tourism Minister Yariv Levin’s turn to be assaulted.

 

Levin was subjected to constant catcalls from the audience, whose members called him “Goebbels” for arguing that the two-state formula has no chance of bringing peace and that the time has come to consider other options.

 

But Levin’s claims were simply common sense. This week the Palestinian Center for Public Opinion published its most recent survey. The results were no surprise. Indeed, they were more or less consistent with historical survey results. According to the PCPO data, 63 percent of Palestinians oppose holding peace talks with Israel. 58 percent think Mahmoud Abbas, whose term of office ended in 2009, should resign. A majority of Palestinians support a new assault or “intifada” against Israel and 42 percent of Palestinians support the use of terrorism against Israel.

 

Also this week, ahead of the Jerusalem Post Diplomatic Conference on Wednesday The Jerusalem Post published a new poll of Israeli public opinion. According to the data, 46 percent of Israelis support a policy of separating from the Palestinians through the establishment of a Palestinian state. 35 percent of Israelis support applying Israeli sovereignty to Judea and Samaria. For Israelis under 45, the numbers are reversed.

Today a majority of Likud Knesset members and all members of the Bayit Yehudi’s Knesset faction oppose Palestinian statehood and support applying Israeli law to all or parts of Judea and Samaria. Rather than deal with the fact that neither the Palestinians nor the Israelis support their two-state model, the Left has decided to ignore both.

 

The Haaretz conference last week hosted a panel discussing whether the two state paradigm remains viable. In his remarks, Prof. Shlomo Ben-Ami, who served as foreign minister in 2000 during the failed Camp David peace summit, explained that given the Israeli and Palestinian publics’ rejection of the two-state formula, (but especially the Israeli rejection of it), the UN Security Council determine Israel’s final borders. In other words, from Ben-Ami’s perspective, withdrawing from Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria is more important than maintaining Israel’s independence and governing in accordance with the will of the people.

When the panel’s moderator expressed concern that the mass expulsion of Israelis from their communities in Judea and Samaria which the two-state formula requires would cause a civil war within Israeli society, Ben-Ami just shrugged his shoulders. “I don’t delude myself. I never deluded myself that this would be a boy scout trip,” he said. “You can’t do this through consensus….Consensus is the great enemy of leadership.” Ben-Ami continued, “War unites, peace divides…A leader who wants to make peace will always have a split nation behind him.”

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

 

                                                                       

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INCONVENIENT TRUTHS ABOUT THE MIDDLE EAST PEACE PROCESS                                      

Aaron David Miller                                                                                                       

Wall Street Journal, Nov. 23, 2015

 

John Kerry is off to the Middle East again. His itinerary might surprise you, though. The secretary isn’t going to the region to coordinate strategy with Vladimir Putin, François Hollande, or meet with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi (his deputy is already in Baghdad); or to deal with the putative political transition in Syria. No, instead the trip will focus on Israelis and Palestinians, in addition to a stop in the UAE where he’ll presumably talk Syria.

 

Having spent most of my professional life chasing after and believing in Arab-Israeli peace–particularly Israeli-Palestinian peace–I can understand the addictive power of the problem for U.S. presidents and secretaries of state. And this secretary of state, more than any of those for whom I worked, really believes not only in the importance of the issue but also in his own capacity to somehow solve it. Touching base with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas might make some sense, particularly consulting with the Israelis on Syria and Russia.

 

But as Mr. Kerry makes yet another foray into the world of the never-ending peace process, here are some inconvenient and politically incorrect truths worth bearing in mind.

 

First, if there is any key to stability in the angry, broken, dysfunctional Middle East, it certainly isn’t a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian issue. Yes, a resolution now would certainly boost U.S. credibility and take an important issue off the table. But given the region-wide melt down – Syria, Iraq, Libya, Yemen in varying forms of chaos and dysfunction; a rising Iran, and  the threat from ISIS — it’s no longer credible to argue that solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a priority or that it’s even possible now.  A two-state solution may well be the least-worst outcome. But with all the other failing states  in the region, it’s worth considering why the U.S. would want to risk a failed or weak Palestinian one.

 

Second, even if that two-state solution were theoretically possible sometime, it isn’t now. Rarely has any peace process been as unready for prime time as this one is at the moment. President Barack Obama has repeatedly acknowledged this. Neither Mr. Netanyahu nor Mr. Abbas is ready to pay the price on any of the big issues like Jerusalem or refugees.

 

Mr. Abbas can’t rein in Hamas and silence all of the guns of Palestine. And he can’t control the Palestinians who are killing Israelis with knives, guns and cars — many of whom are from areas of Jerusalem that Israel has controlled since 1967. And not to put too fine a point on it, Mr. Netanyahu really isn’t interested in helping to deliver Palestinian statehood, let alone becoming its father.

 

Third, much of the interest in dealing with the peace process is coming from Washington. And clearly, it would be a good thing if Mr. Kerry could help tamp down the current wave of violence. Perhaps Mr. Netanyahu could take some interim steps and Mr. Kerry might build on them. That might interest Mr. Abbas, who has used the violence to warn that the status quo isn’t sustainable even as he fears that it could undermine his control and benefit Hamas.

 

The bitter truth here is that the Obama administration cares too much about this issue and the parties themselves too little. What’s missing is the kind of local ownership that would make Israelis and Palestinians invest in a   serious negotiating process and a solution because they want and need it.  John Kerry can’t do that for them.

 

If the Obama administration wants to keep its hand in the issue, tamp down the violence and try to manage the conflict in hopes for keeping a political solution alive, terrific. But it shouldn’t start believing its own talking points. The Middle East is on fire. And there are much more important things to do.                     

 

                                                                       

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TRUMP PLANS TO FORCE PEACE TALKS – A LA OBAMA?                                                                 

Ari Yashar                                                                                                                   

Arutz Sheva, Dec. 3, 2015

 

Ahead of his trip to Israel this month, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump revealed in an interview Thursday that forcing peace talks on Israel will head his priorities if elected – and that the onus for the lack of peace lies on the Jewish state, not the Palestinian Authority (PA). "I have a real question as to whether or not both sides want to make it," Trump told The Associated Press, clarifying that he has more concerns regarding "one side in particular."

 

"A lot will have to do with Israel and whether or not Israel wants to make the deal – whether or not Israel's willing to sacrifice certain things," Trump said. "They may not be, and I understand that, and I'm OK with that. But then you're just not going to have a deal." Trump's focus on Israel may strike some as ironic, given that the state is currently embroiled in an Arab terror wave that PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas has actively encouraged, recently calling the murder of Jews "peaceful."

 

The real estate guru promised: "if I win, I'll let you know six months from the time I take office" whether or not a peace deal is possible. "I think if I get elected, that would be something I'd really like to do," said Trump without specifying how he would achieve an elusive peace deal. "Because so much death, so much turmoil, so much hatred – that would be to me a great achievement. As a single achievement, that would be a really great achievement."

 

Trump's gung ho approach to starting up peace talks may raise concerns, given how they echo US President Barack Obama's insistence on addressing the issue. US Secretary of State John Kerry forced through nine-month-long talks starting in late 2013, that the PA torpedoed in April 2014 when it signed a unity deal with Hamas. The talks were accompanied by an upswing in terror attacks.

 

Trump said he would meet early with top regional leaders, visiting Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu "sometime after Christmas, probably." "You know, I'm going to be probably going over there pretty soon and I want to see him, I want to see other people, I want to get some ideas on it," said Trump, who claimed he was a "big, big fan" of Israel. According to the businessman, the only way to solve the Israel-Palestinian issue is "if you had a real dealmaker, somebody that knew what he or she is doing. I'll be able to tell in one sit-down meeting with the real leaders."

 

While avoiding specifics about whether the PA's demands are legitimate, Trump called Israeli construction in Judea and Samaria a "huge sticking point" in talks. Asked if his goal is a two-state solution, by which Israel would be divided to create a "Palestine," he said, "well, I'm not going to even say that." But he expressed his enthusiasm at the prospect of making a peace deal, saying, "if you can make that deal, you can make any deal. It's probably the toughest deal to make."

 

Regarding the prospect of peace, In late October PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas said all of Israel is "the occupation," showing his intentions to conquer the entire state, and last month he revealed for the first time that he rejected the offer of a Palestinian state back in 2008. Abbas, whose term in office officially ended in January 2009, gave credence in June to calls by Jewish nationalists arguing that a Palestinian state should be set up in Jordan, when he called Jordanian and Palestinian Arabs "one people living in two states."

 

 

 

On Topic

 

2 State Solution?: Dry Bones Blog, Nov. 18, 2015

German Parliament President: We Reject Settlement Labeling, Understand Israel's Anger: Lahav Harkov, Jerusalem Post, Dec. 2, 2015 —Germany opposes the “unwise” European Commission decision to label products from the West Bank, Golan and Jerusalem, Bundestag President Prof. Norbert Lammert said Wednesday.

European Hypocrisy: Why Single Israel Out?: Ofir Haivry, Ynet, Nov. 11, 2015 —The public debate in Israel over the European Union's initiative to label Israeli products manufactured beyond the Green Line usually avoids addressing the most troubling aspect of the initiative: The fact that of all the regions in the world subject to a certain sovereignty conflict, the EU has only chosen to label products originating in the area of conflict related to the Jewish state.

Last Tango in Paris: Amotz Asa-El, Jerusalem Post, Nov. 21, 2015—By the time he arrived for his fifth wedding in 1975, Ugandan dictator Idi Amin had murdered tens of thousands of his citizens, including scores of generals, politicians and judges, besides expelling more than 50,000 Asians and thus leading his economy to ruin.

                   

 

 

 

                  

 

 

 

PUTIN’S “POWER-POLITICS” BEWILDERS EU & MANIPULATES ANTISEMITISM

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 

 

Contents:

 

Putin Leads the Russian Power Play: Andy Langenkamp, RealClearWorld, Dec. 8, 2014— Russian President Vladimir Putin has annexed Crimea, stirred up revolt in eastern Ukraine, and kept the fires of revolt burning bright – all while signing two mega-deals with China on gas supplies and pipelines.

Vladimir Putin’s Gas Crunch: Leonid Bershidsky, National Post, Dec. 9, 2014— Ever since Russia became something of a rogue state in the eyes of its European energy clients, it has tried to demonstrate that it can mostly do without them — if not immediately, then in a few years’ time.

Russian-Ukrainian Spat Over Anti-Semitism Reaches the UN: Sam Sokol, Jerusalem Post, Nov. 25, 2014 — The war of words between Russia and Ukraine over the issue of anti-Semitism heated …

Right-Wing Ukrainian Leader Is (Surprise) Jewish, and (Real Surprise) Proud of It: Vladislav Davidzon, Tablet, Dec. 1, 2014— My meeting with Right Sector’s Borislav Bereza, newly elected member of the Ukrainian Parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, took place on a sunny Friday morning.

 

On Topic Links

 

Nothing Is True and Everything Is Possible in Putin’s Russia: Ann Marlowe, Tablet, Dec. 9, 2014

Russia's Media Autarky Strengthens Its Grip: Christopher Walker & Robert Orttung, RealClearWorld, Nov. 30, 2014

Kremlin Returns to Soviet Practice of Stripping Citizenship: Vladimir Kara-Murza, World Affairs, Nov. 10, 2014

Back in St. Petersburg, Former Refusenik Encourages Jews to Emigrate: Cnaan Liphshiz, JTA, Dec. 1, 2014

                                                                                        

                            

PUTIN LEADS THE RUSSIAN POWER PLAY

Andy Langenkamp                                                                                                       

RealClearWorld, Dec. 8, 2014

 

Russian President Vladimir Putin has annexed Crimea, stirred up revolt in eastern Ukraine, and kept the fires of revolt burning bright – all while signing two mega-deals with China on gas supplies and pipelines. The global attention he has drawn has no contemporary parallel, and it's clear enough that U.S. president Barack Obama and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping are no match on the power politics stage for their colleague from Russia. Forbes named Putin the world's most powerful man this year for good reason: Indeed it is not too much to say that Vladimir Putin has put power politics back onto the European map.

 

Europe cannot afford to remain passive. It has played a weak hand badly so far, and the problem is that Europe is no longer set up to play power games. Europeans are unsure how to handle a man who has donned boxing gloves and has no qualms about using hard power to expand his country's sphere of influence. In Europe, geopolitics has fallen out of favor in recent decades. Normative policy expansion and trade interests have been given such primacy, in fact, that member states seem unable to understand why any country would opt for confrontation, rather than just carry on doing business together. Europe holds an implicit belief that the whole world will shift toward a capitalist, democratic system in which it would be unthinkable to take up weapons against trade partners – or anyone who might become a trade partner.

 

Global developments have clearly shown the error of this approach. Armies may no longer feature in relationships among European countries, but Europe was naive to think that the same would apply outside the union's borders: Europe's demilitarization did not set an example for the rest of the world. Typical of the gulf between Europe and large parts of the wider world is the approach to commodities. Until recently, Europe viewed resources almost exclusively as a trade issue. This basically implies that after some negotiation, a price is set, and everyone is happy. By contrast, elsewhere in the world – including in the United States – commodities are seen in the context of power politics, and supplies are considered essential to national security. European politicians are becoming aware of this discrepancy, but it will be some time before a changed mindset translates into policy.

 

Now that Putin has put power politics back on the European map, it makes sense to analyse what constitutes power in international relations. Roughly speaking, power has three aspects: military, political, and economic. Europe has focused too much on the latter while paying scant attention to the first component. European leaders declared from the start of the Ukraine crisis that military action was out of the question. This was unwise. Meanwhile, Putin deployed a hybrid strategy of military smoke screens, commandos, propaganda, economic pressure, energy policy and diplomacy. The stress tests Europe carries out on its banks provide an apt metaphor to illustrate why Europe will probably waver again. John Gapper wrote: "The authorities can run all kinds of stress tests on … banks, trying to predict how well they would bear losses in a future crisis. The stress test they really need to run is on themselves – whether they will stick to their promise to work nicely with each other or will revert to self-interest." So far, Europe has been unable to take measures decisive enough to counter Russia – and more cracks will likely appear in the ‘united' European front as the stress increases. Undoubtedly, Putin will do his best to increase that pressure and to maintain a degree of control over Ukraine. The pro-European results of the Ukraine elections will have displeased him, and Putin will try to destroy any semblance of unity in Kiev. The rebels lack firm footing in eastern Ukraine, so they continue to rely on Russia. Putin seems to feel that Moscow should have more control – by continuing to send troops and materiel, he can secure the rebels' loyalty. Crimea is a worry for Putin because it is virtually isolated and cannot easily be supplied. Ideally, Putin would like to dominate a continuous area from eastern Ukraine to Crimea via his proxies.

 

Increasingly, power politics and economic policy overlap. Agreements such as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership and the Trans-Pacific Partnership are not just tools to generate growth – they are geopolitical instruments. Such developments can undermine consumer and producer confidence. Russia is hampered by its aggressive foreign policy. Russian growth will slow further. Russian companies struggle to attain financing, and reserves that were supposed to be allocated to infrastructure are now used to purchase corporate bonds as a way to provide businesses with cash. One implication is that the (already poor) Russian infrastructure is thrown back even further. But if Putin doesn't back down, Europe's unity will continue to be tested, and the result could well be disappointing. Politicians may be tempted to look inward rather than outward as they attempt to deal with what could turn out to be the biggest threat to the Eurozone and the European Union: disgruntled voters whose fears for their financial futures will be exacerbated by geopolitical instability. A dissatisfied electorate that is suspicious of the powers that be is one reason economic growth in Europe is bound to continue to be sluggish for a prolonged period. This in turn will undermine Europe's soft and hard power capacities even further.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               Contents                     

                                                                                                                      

VLADIMIR PUTIN’S GAS CRUNCH                                                     

Leonid Bershidsky                                                                                               

National Post, Dec. 9, 2014

 

Ever since Russia became something of a rogue state in the eyes of its European energy clients, it has tried to demonstrate that it can mostly do without them — if not immediately, then in a few years’ time. Two major deals have been announced since the annexation of Crimea, one with China and the other with Turkey. It looks increasingly likely, however, that neither of these is a deal in any conventional sense and that Russia is merely putting on a desperate show. In May, Putin went to Beijing to press for a $400 billion contract to send gas to China through a new pipeline, dubbed Power of Siberia. Alexei Miller, head of Russia’s natural gas monopoly, Gazprom, announced that, after some tense negotiations, a final 30-year deal to supply 38 billion of cubic meters of natural gas annually was signed. This appeared to be a major victory for Putin and a warning both to Europeans, who bought 160 billion cubic meters of natural gas from Gazprom last year (30% of their imports), and to Americans, who would like to supply liquefied natural gas to Asian markets.

 

More than six months on, however, the deal doesn’t appear to be moving forward as Russia had hoped. In May, Miller counted on a Chinese advance to start building the $55 billion infrastructure for the project. In November, he declared the loan would not be forthcoming. His explanation was somewhat baffling: “We were negotiating concerning an advance and the advance was an element of the price negotiations. But as we have reached a final agreement on the price, we are not considering the possibility of receiving an advance as a financial instrument to further lower the price.” That would appear to mean that Russia had negotiated a higher gas price with China than it would have received if it had initially asked for an advance. In May, however, Miller had declared that the final terms, including price, had been agreed. Have they been renegotiated in the past six months, or did Miller get a little ahead of himself that May day in Beijing?

 

It’s impossible to know, because no price has been made public. In any case, since Power of Siberia isn’t expected to be operative until 2019, China would hardly be so careless as to fix the gas price, especially given the current downward trend in oil prices. That makes the project’s future uncertain. There have also been suggestions that the $55 billion price tag for the Power of Siberia infrastructure may have been too low. In July, Sergei Ivanov, Putin’s chief of staff, said it might cost up to $70 billion. And Mikhail Krutikhin, founder of the consultancy East European Gas Analysis, has cited estimates that Gazprom will need $100 billion. Since, under Ukraine-related sanctions, Gazprom is unable to raise the money in Western financial markets, the only possible source of funding is Russia’s state National Welfare Fund. But other state companies, such as Rosneft, are also making major demands on this fund. If the sanctions and low oil prices persist, the $80 billion fund — meant to plug Russia’s pension-system deficit — won’t have enough money to go around.

 

The Turkish deal, meant to replace the South Stream pipeline, which the European Union has blocked, has had less impressive optics from the start. It would keep Gazprom from losing the $5 billion already invested in building the Russian end of South Stream and allow it to honour contracts for laying pipe across the bottom of the Black Sea. But delivering gas to Turkey would make its route to Europe more circuitous, and it would allow Turkey to dictate terms if Russia wants to “reduce Ukraine’s role as a gas transit country to zero,” as Miller promised to do last week. Turkish energy minister Taner Yildiz denies the existence of a firm deal with Russia, according to the commodity-markets information service Platts. Yes, Putin and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan agreed to keep talking about diverting the Black Sea pipeline to Turkey, but that would involve resolving a few contentious issues. Putin’s offer to Turkey of a 6% discount on gas already being supplied is not enough, according to Yildiz, who says his country has made a counter offer. Besides, Turkey wants Gazprom to stop giving its own subsidiary, Bosphorus Gaz, priority over Turkish partners. When these negotiations are done, Russia may end up supplying Turkish intermediaries with gas at a much lower price than it would have received from European consumers at the other end of South Stream.

 

Russia’s purpose in presenting unfinished talks with China and Turkey as done deals is obvious: It needs to convince the West that it need not stop meddling in Ukraine under any circumstances because it can form alternative partnerships. Authoritarian leaders such as China’s Xi Jinping and Turkey’s Erdogan are willing to help Putin put on a brave face — but not if means sacrificing their own countries’ economic benefit. Knowing how limited Putin’s options are as the oil price falls, the harder they will press him on the energy deals.

                                                                       

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RUSSIAN-UKRAINIAN SPAT OVER ANTI-SEMITISM REACHES THE UN     

Sam Sokol

Jerusalem Post, Nov. 25, 2014

 

The war of words between Russia and Ukraine over the issue of anti-Semitism heated … with Moscow condemning the former Soviet republic, as well as the US and Canada, for voting against an annual UN resolution condemning Nazism. The draft, which was approved by a vote of 115 to 3 in the UN’s Third (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) Committee … condemned the “glorification” of Nazism, neo-Nazism and “other practices that contribute to fueling contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.” It was backed by Russia, with support from Pakistan, Cuba and Rwanda, among others. Fifty-five countries abstained from the vote. It is “highly regrettable” that the US, Canada and Ukraine opposed the measure and that members of the European Union withdrew from the vote, the Russian Foreign Ministry said on Saturday. Russia was particularly “depressed and alarmed” over Kiev’s opposition, the ministry said, as Ukrainians “experienced the full brunt of the horrors of Nazism and contributed importantly to our common victory over it.” Russia has consistently asserted that Ukraine’s post-revolutionary government, which took power after popular demonstrations pushed out pro-Moscow President Victor Yanukovich, is composed of fascists and anti-Semites. “It could never occur to anybody that radicals and neo-Nazis could come to dominate Ukrainian politics,” Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told deputies in Russia’s parliament last week.

 

Ukrainian Jews have come out strongly against accusations of state anti-Semitism, with several prominent leaders actively accusing Russian President Vladimir Putin of orchestrating anti-Jewish provocations for propaganda purposes. While several members of extreme right- wing parties became part of the interim government immediately following the revolution, the far Right has since lost significant ground politically and the government has come out publicly against anti-Semitism. In explaining her opposition to the resolution, Terri Robl, US deputy representative to the UN Economic and Social Council, said the Russian government had thrown around terms such as Nazi and fascist for its own political ends. “We believe Russia’s efforts at the General Assembly, via this resolution, are aimed at its opponents, rather than at promoting or protecting human rights,” she said. By seeking to “limit freedom of expression, assembly and opinion,” a representative of the Canadian delegation told The Jerusalem Post, Russia has taken steps that are “counterproductive” to the goal of eradicating Nazism.

 

The Ukrainian delegation attacked Russia over the resolution, accusing Moscow of actively supporting neo-Nazism at home and of supporting “nationalistic, xenophobia and chauvinistic policies” in the Crimean peninsula, which Russia annexed from Ukraine earlier this year. The delegation evoked the memory of the Holodomor, a massive famine brought about by forced collectivization of farms that killed millions of Ukrainians from 1923-33 and which is generally viewed in the country as a genocide planned by Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin. While Ukraine is committed to fighting the glorification of Nazism, “Ukrainians equally condemn Hitler and Stalin as international criminals for what they have done to us. We have always demanded that Russia should stop glorifying Stalinism and neo-Stalinism, because of their misanthropic and xenophobic nature. Until and unless the notions of Stalinism and neo-Stalinism are equally condemned along with Nazism and neo-Nazism and other forms of intolerance, Ukraine will not be able to support the draft presented by Russia,” the delegation explained. Marking Holodomor Remembrance Day last week, the White House deemed the “man-made famine” to be “one of the gravest atrocities of the last century.”

 

The issue of the rehabilitation of historical figures that collaborated with the Nazi regime is a serious one in the former Soviet Union, explained Dr. Efraim Zuroff, a Nazi-hunter who heads the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Jerusalem office. “There is a very strong tendency in post-Communist Europe to try to rewrite the narrative of World War II and the Holocaust and to try and minimize crimes by local Nazi collaborators, to equate Communist crimes and suffering of Communist victims with Nazi crimes during the Shoah and to glorify local heroes who fought against the Communists even though some of them were actively involved in collaboration with the Nazis and mass murder of Jews during the Holocaust,” he said. As a consequence of this, former Soviet countries, especially in the Baltics, have engaged in a systematic campaign to revise history, with Ukraine being “the worst of them,” Zuroff told the Post.

 

Victor Yanukovich’s predecessor, Viktor Yushchenko, engaged in an effort to rehabilitate figures such as Stepan Bandera, a leader of the Ukrainian national movement during the period of the Holocaust who actively collaborated with the Nazis and was involved in pogroms against Jews. Yushchenko’s posthumous award to Bandera of the title of “Hero of Ukraine” in 2010 riled the Jewish community and brought widespread condemnation abroad. “We condemn the revisionism and the myths of the new heroes of all these countries and we are worried about the use of this issue in the political fights of our days,” Rabbi Boruch Gorin, a senior figure in the Federation of Jewish Communities of Russia, told the Post. Politicizing history and anti-Semitism can be “very dangerous,” he added, calling drawing equivalences between Soviet and Nazi crimes a “vulgarization of the Holocaust.”

 

Yaakov Dov Bleich, Ukraine’s chief rabbi, asserted that his government does not consider the Holodomor and Holocaust to be equal. “They are very much trying to promote the Holodomor as a genocide. There were millions killed there by Stalin who orchestrated the crime,” he explained, adding that Ukrainians were pushing back against Russia’s “propaganda machine” and denial of responsibility for the famine. “One can sympathize with the exasperation expressed by the representative of Ukraine on the Russian draft resolution,” said Hebrew University Prof. Robert Wistrich, one of the world’s foremost experts on anti-Semitism. “The Russian resolution reminds me of the notorious propaganda techniques of the Soviet Union in blackening Zionism and Israel with the Nazi label… Jews should try as much as possible to avoid being used as a football in this manipulation of anti-Semitism for political ends whether in Moscow, Kiev or in the Western world,” Wistrich said…

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

                                   

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RIGHT-WING UKRAINIAN LEADER IS (SURPRISE)                                          

JEWISH, AND (REAL SURPRISE) PROUD OF IT                                             

Vladislav Davidzon                    

Tablet, Dec. 1, 2014

 

My meeting with Right Sector’s Borislav Bereza, newly elected member of the Ukrainian Parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, took place on a sunny Friday morning. We met at a table with a magnificent view of the Dnieper River on the third-floor food court of the Sky Mall in Kiev. Despite the prognostications of Russian television, the right wing and ultra-nationalist party that is widely considered to be emblematic of the new iteration of “Ukrainian Fascism” failed to breach the 5 percent threshold required for parliamentary representation. Only two of its deputies were elected from the party to represent specific constituencies, party leader Dmitry Yarosh and party speaker Bereza, who ran a slightly frenzied campaign that focused on his busting up illegal unlicensed bars and underground casinos. That Bereza is a proudly outspoken and synagogue-going Jew is often pointed out by those who do not agree with the mounting equivalence of Right Sector with neo-fascism.

 

We were put in touch by a mutual friend whom we both highly respect, a Kiev-based Orthodox Jewish film producer. Bereza is very tall and has a muscular build. He has the broad shoulders and wide gait of a boxer along with a receding hairline and piercing gray eyes. He wears a diamond earring in his left ear and sports smart blue blazers over polka dot blue shirts with the Ukrainian emblem pinned to his lapel. Loquacious, and bluntly plain spoken, he speaks in a quick flow of short and declarative sentences and often cannot wait for you to finish your sentence before launching into the breathless reply. The day before we met he had told a Ukrainian newspaper that “Putin understands very well that his modern Russia could very well follow in the footsteps of the USSR with a complete collapse.”

 

Undiplomatic and completely intense, Bereza, who spoke with me in Russian, turned out to be one of the most likable politicians I had ever met, a cross between a drinking buddy, an Israeli paratrooper, and the aggressively militant Jewish partisan played by Liev Schreiber in Defiance. I congratulated him with a “Mazel tov” on his being elected a deputy and he responded with an enthusiastic “Baruch Hashem!”

 

You are a Jew…Yes. I am a Jew.

 

So, you are Jewish believer, I am told you go to synagogue, and also that you strongly consider yourself to be a member of the Jewish people…Of course. I am not an Orthodox Jew, I do not wear peyes, or a kippah in public, but I try to go to synagogue as often as I can. I study the Torah, and that is absolutely a harmonically integrated part of my life. I go to Israel every year, since 1993, and I have lived there.

 

But you are also a member of Right Sector?…I am a Jew and also a Cohen. There have never been any questions about this. Right Sector is composed of people of varied nationalities, not just Ukrainians and Jews, but also Poles and Belorussians, Georgians, Chechens, we have people of every [Soviet] ethnicity represented. The question is not one of ethnicity; it is “are you a Ukrainian? Do you support Ukraine? Are you a Ukrainian patriot?” In which case, you are my brother. If you are Ukraine’s enemy, whatever nationality you might be, you and I have nothing to talk about.

 

The reason such questions arise is that, as you know, this country has historically witnessed many problems between its constituent nationalities. There have always been problems between Poles and Ukrainians, Ukrainians and Russians and, yes, Ukrainians and Jews…Yes, that is so. I do not deny that. I have myself experienced casual everyday anti-Semitism. This is something I have experienced continuously since living in the Soviet Union, when my father could not go to the university he wanted to attend because he was a Jew. There were quotas for Jews, he was told. Yes, of course you are right. I know that anti-Semitism still exists on the everyday level in Ukraine, I have felt it myself. But it is a minor problem. There is also Russophobia and Ukrainaphobia here in certain quarters, it certainly exists. But the question of anti-Semitism is not a serious ideological problem or question in this society.

 

All right, I understand and respect your position. However that answer is not entirely satisfying. Many of the emblems and symbols of your movement strike many people as problematic. These are World War II symbols that—…Which symbols? —Well, let’s start with the Red and Black flag of the UPA [or Ukrainian Insurgent Army], under which you march. Under which you fight…Great! Wonderful! You have to understand: It was not merely the representatives of the Red Army that were annihilated under the auspices of the Red and Black flag, but also fascists, as well as all those who were invading Ukrainian lands. The Red and Black flag of the UPA represented the fight for an independent Ukraine…                                       

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

 

 

Contents           

On Topic

 

Nothing Is True and Everything Is Possible in Putin’s Russia: Ann Marlowe, Tablet, Dec. 9, 2014—Peter Pomerantsev arrived in Moscow in 2001 with the idea that everything was possible in “a city living in fast-forward, changing so fast it breaks all sense of reality, where boys become billionaires in the blink of an eye”—a sense of speedy exuberance he conveys in colorful, punchy prose in his new book, Nothing Is True and Everything Is Possible.

Russia's Media Autarky Strengthens Its Grip: Christopher Walker & Robert Orttung, RealClearWorld, Nov. 30, 2014—Vladimir Putin is trying to fundamentally reshape Russia's media system as he forges an illiberal, isolationist "Russian World" doctrine. In so doing, Russia's president is taking his country into uncharted territory.

Kremlin Returns to Soviet Practice of Stripping Citizenship: Vladimir Kara-Murza, World Affairs, Nov. 10, 2014 —One of the ways of punishing political dissenters under the Soviet regime—alongside prisons, labor camps, and “special psychiatric hospitals”—was forced exile accompanied by a loss of citizenship, to ensure that “offenders” would never return to their country (in practice, “never” was curtailed by the collapse of communism in 1991).

Back in St. Petersburg, Former Refusenik Encourages Jews to Emigrate: Cnaan Liphshiz, JTA, Dec. 1, 2014—Through the backseat window of a black KGB car, Yosef Mendelevitch could see university students his age hurrying to take their finals.

 

 

 

 

               

 

 

 

                      

                

                            

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Contents:         

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.
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Rob Coles, 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

POSITIVE ECONOMIC & POLITICAL PROSPECTS FOR ISRAEL, A JEWISH RETURN TO SPAIN?

Download Today's Isranet Daily Briefing.pdf 

 

Contents:                          

 

Israel winning in Europe: Arsen Ostrovsky,Ynet News, Dec. 14, 2012—Before the ink was even dry on the Palestinian vote at the UN last week, headlines already started flooding on how Israel 'lost Europe.' The reality however, could not be further from the truth, as Israel continues to make stunning headway in its trade and bilateral relations with the EU.

 

Israeli Find Barrels Of Shale Oil In 'Game Changer': Sharon Udasin, Jerusalem Post, Dec. 17, 2012—Israel Energy Initiatives (IEI), which has already completed an exploratory pre-pilot drilling phase in Israel’s Adullam region near Beit Shemesh, has claimed that the area – also called the Shfela Basin – contains approximately 250 billion barrels of shale oil, amounts that could be competitive to the amount of crude oil in Saudi Arabia.

 

A Tepid ‘Welcome Back’ for Spanish Jews: Doreen Carvajal, New York Times, Dec. 8, 2012—Top government officials pledged to speed up the existing naturalization process for Sephardic Jews who through the centuries spread in a diaspora — to the Ottoman Empire and the south of Italy; to Spain’s colonies in Central and South America; and to outposts in what are now New Mexico, Texas and Mexico..

 

On Topic Links

 

 

Israeli Cardboard Bike Revolutionizes Transportation: Algemeiner, Oct 18, 2012

Groundbreaking Innovations in Hydroelectricity: Gedaliah Borvick, Times of Israel, Oct. 18, 2012

Massachusetts, Israel Cooperate to Build Water Innovation: Sharon Udasin, Jerusalem Post, Dec. 18, 2012

 

 

ISRAEL WINNING IN EUROPE

Arsen Ostrovsky

Ynet News, Dec. 14, 2012

Before the ink was even dry on the Palestinian vote at the UN last week, headlines already started flooding in on how Israel 'lost Europe.' The reality however, could not be further from the truth, as Israel continues to make stunning headway in its trade and bilateral relations with the EU.

 

Anyone familiar with the mechanisms of the United Nations, where the Palestinians enjoy an automatic anti-Israel majority, never seriously doubted the outcome. Despite the predictable posturing by President of Germany, the Jewish state may have liked a few more 'no' votes in their camp, but given the choice, Israel would take tangible results over symbolic victories at the UN any day.

 

Regrettably, when commentators lament how Israel has 'lost' Europe, they overlook the impressive list of achievements by this government in the past four years. For example, in May 2010 the OECD unanimously voted to invite Israel to join the organization. This was no small achievement, and came despite intensive lobbying by the Palestinians. Even countries like Norway, Spain and Ireland, traditionally the most hostile to Israel in Europe, voted in favor.

 

In September 2011 Israel became the first non-European member of CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, while in July this year the EU and Israel signed a memorandum of understanding to deepen their scientific cooperation in the fields of energy and water desalination, where Israel is a world leader.

 

Moreover, in October the European Parliament ratified the ACAA agreement (Agreement on Conformity Assessment and Acceptance of Industrial Products) with Israel. The agreement is unprecedented in that it recognizes Israel’s industrial standards as equivalent to those in Europe, especially in healthcare, and is a prime example of a 'win-win' situation for both Europe and Israel.

 

According to David Saranga, the head of European Parliament Liaison Department for the Israeli Mission to the EU: "The ACAA protocol will eliminate technical barriers to trade by facilitating the mutual recognition of assessment procedures. This will in turn help lead to facilitating imports of high-quality, low-cost Israeli medicines into the EU, while at the same time increasing medicinal choice for European patients and healthcare professionals."

 

In the last few years, Israel has also held an increasing number of government-to-government meetings at the highest level of Cabinet with various European allies, including the Czechs, Italy, Poland, Bulgaria and Germany….As a result of these meetings, Israel has signed a number of significant bilateral agreements in areas of high-tech, green energy, culture and the sciences.

 

This year alone, Israel has signed multi-billion dollar gas deals with Cyprus and Greece; Israel’s Aerospace Industries has secured two contracts worth nearly $1 billion to provide Italy with air force military equipment; whilst the past year has also been Israel’s “best tourism year ever”, with more than 3.5 million visitors to the Holy Land – most of whom have come from European countries.

 

Importantly, in 2011 the EU was Israel's largest trading partner, with total trade amounting to approximately €29.4 billion for the year – an increase of 45% from 2009; and this came during the midst of an unprecedented financial crisis in Europe….

 

Whilst the United States will always remain Israel's most important ally, the Foreign Ministry, under the present political leadership, has made a concerted effort to reach out to allies in Europe (and elsewhere) that had been neglected in the past. Perhaps the key factor behind Israel’s success in Europe has been its ability to successfully extricate 'the conflict' from their bilateral relations.

 

Previously, there had been a direct correlation between how the conflict was progressing and Israel's trade relations. Today, Israel has created an environment in which its bilateral agreements are increasingly judged on trade merits alone, while membership in international organizations is based on the same criteria as for every other nation – that is, what can Israel contribute by way of skills, experience and expertise. No, Israel has not 'lost' Europe. Rather, Israel is 'winning' in Europe.

 

Arsen Ostrovsky is an International Human Rights Lawyer and freelance journalist.

 

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ISRAELI FIND BARRELS OF SHALE OIL IN 'GAME CHANGER'

Sharon Udasin

Jerusalem Post, Dec. 17, 2012

 

Developing a firmer understanding of shale oil’s chemical complexities is crucial to oil explorers in both Israel and North America, who are drilling in shale rock and sand in the search for alternatives to traditional OPEC crude, an expert told The Jerusalem Post in an interview last week.

 

Israel Energy Initiatives (IEI), which has already completed an exploratory pre-pilot drilling phase in Israel’s Adullam region near Beit Shemesh, has claimed that the area – also called the Shfela Basin – contains approximately 250 billion barrels of shale oil, amounts that could be competitive to the amount of crude oil in Saudi Arabia. The company intends to acquire the oil by drilling a production well and surrounding in situ heating wells approximately 300 meters below the Earth’s surface, in order to melt the hydrocarbon-filled sedimentary rock from within the ground before extraction.

 

While the country’s green groups adamantly protest the drilling process as potentially catastrophic both below and above ground, the company has repeatedly stressed that an impenetrable layer of rock separates the shale layer and the water aquifer, and that there will likewise be little permanent surface impact.

 

Prof. Carol Parish, of the chemistry department at the University of Richmond in Virginia, has called the oil shale finds in Israel a “game changer,” but also said it was crucial to study the relatively new resource on a molecular level, and compare it to traditional crude oil. “In order to fully harness this resource, it is necessary to develop a thorough understanding of the petroleum chemistry and reactivity of the molecular constituents of oil shale,” Parish said.

 

Upon completing a Fulbright fellowship with Prof. Sason Shaik, director of the Lise Meitner Minerva Center for Computational Quantum Chemistry at Hebrew University, Parish spoke last week with The [Jerusalem] Post about the importance of studying shale oil on such a close level. Parish visited Israel under the Fulbright fellows academic exchange program, which works in partnership with the US-Israel Educational Foundation that manages Israeli participation in the program.

 

In her research, Parish is looking at applying quantum mechanics techniques to the characterization of molecules in alternative energy sources, particularly oil sand and oil shale. “There are actually a lot of parallels with the development of petroleum crude,” she said.

 

Yet in typical light, sweet crude oil, about 90 percent of the molecules exist in long, straight chains and about 10% are cyclical, Parish explained. The reverse is true for shale oil molecules in that they are predominantly cyclic. Because crude oil is made up almost entirely of straight chains, this is where the bulk of molecular research has thus far been done on oil. Parish, on the other hand, is looking at the cyclical molecules that dominate shale oil.

 

Often as a result of the cyclical molecules, diradicals – molecules with two dangling electrons – can form. According to Parish, diradicals are very difficult to properly characterize because many are very reactive. Visiting Shaik’s lab in Israel for four months allowed her to learn a specific quantum mechanics technique called the Valence Bond Theory, aiding in the understanding of the bonding that occurs between the diradicals.

 

With this knowledge, scientists will be able to derive a more accurate characterization of the shale molecules, comprehending the combustion and pyrolysis – decomposition of compounds by heat in the absence of oxygen – that are the foundation for petroleum production, she explained.

 

Due to Shaik’s expertise in Valence Bond Theory and the huge oil shale supply in the country’s Shfela Basin, Parish stressed that the “the two things put together caused Israel to be the perfect place to pursue this kind of work.”

 

During her time here, Parish said her work with Shaik amounted to a great success. “We were able to characterize a diradical system which hadn’t been characterized using valent bonds,” Parish said, noting that she now has 90% of the results necessary to publish her research. Because IEI plans to heat the shale in-situ, meaning while it is still underground, rather than pump sludge to a refinery, Parish said she believes that the process will be a much cleaner one than methods that have thus far prevailed.

 

“The advantage to the Israeli method is that they’re going to get it pure, directly out of the ground, and don’t have to ship it to the refinery,” she said. “They are basically going to do the refining right out of the ground.”

 

She noted that another advantage the Israeli shale deposits have over those of the US is that “there is an impenetrable layer of material that separates oil shale deposits from the water table.” In the US, on the contrary, the two layers are often intermixed.

 

Because she is not a geologist and therefore could not officially confirm IEI’s claims that an impassable barrier separates the shale and the aquifer, she stressed that “it would be an outright lie to say what they are saying if it is not true.” Parish suggested that the green groups who doubt IEI’s claims raise funds to bring in third-party geologists to survey the region.

 

Ultimately, focusing on her own research, Parish said she hopes to be laying the groundwork for further research into the characteristics of shale oil, as the world continues to demand more and more long-term, sustainable sources of energy. “The harvesting of oil shale is a very new field and people become more interested in alternative energy like that when the price per barrel of conventional fuel rises,” Parish added.

 

“There has to be an economic motivation in order to harvest alternatives. I believe that we can get a better understanding of the energy content and the reactivity of these alternative sources of fuel,” she said. “That too will motivate the development of more sophisticated techniques to harvest the alternative fuels.”

 

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A TEPID ‘WELCOME BACK’ FOR SPANISH JEWS

Doreen Carvajal

New York Times, Dec. 8, 2012

 

Top government officials pledged to speed up the existing naturalization process for Sephardic Jews who through the centuries spread in a diaspora — to the Ottoman Empire and the south of Italy; to Spain’s colonies in Central and South America; and to outposts in what are now New Mexico, Texas and Mexico.

 

I am conducting a global search for a missing menorah that my great-aunt Luz concealed in a commode in her cramped bedroom in a garden apartment in San José, Costa Rica. She preserved it until she died, in her 80s, in 1998, when she was buried swiftly the next day with a Sabbath-day psalm on her funeral card — cryptic signs of my Catholic family’s clandestine Sephardic Jewish identity because the prayer avoided any reference to the trinity or Jesus.

 

I tallied these and other Carvajal family clues a few days after the Spanish government heralded its new immigration reform last month. Five hundred and twenty years after the start of the Inquisition, Spain opened the door to descendants of Sephardic Jews whose ancestors had fled the Iberian Peninsula, forced, in order to live in Spain or its colonies, to choose between exile or conversion to Christianity. Or worse.

 

Top government officials pledged to speed up the existing naturalization process for Sephardic Jews who through the centuries spread in a diaspora — to the Ottoman Empire and the south of Italy; to Spain’s colonies in Central and South America; and to outposts in what are now New Mexico, Texas and Mexico.

 

Spain’s foreign minister, José Manuel García-Margallo, sought to address his nation’s painful legacy when he revealed the reforms, declaring it was time “to recover Spain’s silenced memory.” But the process is much more complicated than it appears, and some descendants are discounting the offer as useless, or even insulting, as it dawns on them that they are excluded.

 

Some of those converts in Spain’s colonies — still within the reach of the Inquisition — led double lives for generations, as I learned from writing a book about my own family’s concealed identity. They lived discreetly, maintaining Jewish rituals that would have put them in peril if they had been discovered. They risked confiscation of wealth, prison, torture or death. Some relatives knew, some didn’t and others refused to see.

 

For this act of heresy, living life as Jews, a branch of Carvajal converts in the 16th century was decimated in the Spanish colony of Mexico by burning at the stake. They are called anousim — Hebrew for the forced ones — crypto Jews or Marranos, which in Spanish means swine. I prefer a more poetic term that I read in a French book: silent Jews who lived double lives.

 

The Spanish offer was not as simple as it first sounded, and almost immediately evoked a mix of reactions. The Federation of Sephardic Jews in Argentina, for one, was elated. But there were some hard questions from bnei anousim, the descendants of the anousim. They were concerned about criteria that were not widely explained.

 

Genie Milgrom, president of the Jewish Genealogical Association of Greater Miami, researched her family’s unbroken Sephardic Jewish line through 19 generations of grandmothers to Spain. She said she had no interest in Spanish citizenship in “a country that extinguished my heritage.” But for those who want nationality, she said Spain “needs to be abundantly clear on what they are going to do with the anousim.”

 

The proof of Jewish identity among the anousim is often pieced together like a mosaic of broken Spanish tiles. Clues range from last names to cultural customs in the home to intermarriages among families with traditional Sephardic Jewish names.

 

In my case, I have a family tree ornamented with such names, since ancestors had an enduring habit of marrying among trusted distant cousins to protect their secret lives. Is it enough, though, to offer the Spanish government a family tree? Or what about Aunt Luz’s old menorah if I can ever find it? My great-grandfather had a habit of visiting a local rabbi in San José weekly. Was that evidence of interior religious lives?

 

When I asked Isaac Querub, president of the Federation of Jewish Communities of Spain, about the criteria for anousim, I was startled by the response. To be naturalized and become citizens, secular bnei anousim Jewish applicants whose families had maintained double lives as Catholics must seek religious training and undergo formal conversion to Judaism. It is the federation that will screen and certify the Sephardic Jewish backgrounds of applicants who seek the documents that can be submitted to the government to obtain citizenship. Mr. Querub said that what the government meant by Jews is “the Sephardic descendants who are members of the Jewish community.”

 

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Israeli Cardboard Bike to Revolutionize Transportation in Developing Nations: Algemeiner, Oct 18, 2012—An Israel inventor, Izhar Gafni, has created a bicycle made nearly entirely out of cardboard as well as a new model of “green” transportation production that could allow poor nations to get bicycles for free.

 

Groundbreaking Innovations in Hydroelectricity: Gedaliah Borvick, Times of Israel, Oct. 18, 2012—The story of Israel’s burgeoning energy industry is absolutely fascinating as it reinforces the “can do” spirit of the Jewish nation. While its neighboring countries account for four of the top six oil producers in the world, Israel – ranked way down the list at number 98 – is rising to the occasion by discovering creative alternative energy solutions.

 

Massachusetts, Israel Cooperate to Build Water Innovation: Sharon Udasin, Jerusalem Post, Dec. 18, 2012—As Massachusetts eagerly seeks Israeli partners in water innovation, a Herzliya-based firm specializing in rapid microbiological water testing will get the chance to showcase its systems in the New England hi-tech hub.

 

 

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 Editor, 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