Tag: genocide

ISRAEL AS HAVEN FOR PERSECUTED CHRISTIANS IN MIDDLE EAST

Assyrian Bishop Wants Friendship With Israel: Bradley Martin, Algemeiner, June 21, 2016— “Israel has stability, the ear of the world community, and the ability to be a modern state in the Middle East. Israel has withstood the test of time,” says Mar Awa Royel, the first American-born Assyrian bishop in history.

The Assyrians’ plight has been overshadowed by the suffering of the Yazidis. But they are very much in danger: Terry Glavin, National Post, June 9, 2016 — They are the original people of Mesopotamia’s cradle of civilization, the indigenous people of ancient Sumer and Babylon, and they’ve been around for at least 5,000 years. From their heartland on the Nineveh Plains and the Upper Tigris in what is now the transboundary region of Syria, Turkey, Iran and Iraq, their empires waxed and waned down through the centuries from the Caucasus Mountains to Cyprus and Egypt and deep into the Arabian Peninsula.

Autonomous Assyria: The Only Possible Solution to the Arab World’s Terminal Disorder: Paul Merkley, Bayview Review, Apr. 27, 2016— Christianity was born in the Middle East – long before the Middle East became Arab and Muslim. For perhaps a decade or two following the Ascension of Jesus Christ, all of the people who accepted the Christian message were Jews – most of them living in Jerusalem. But then missions, headed originally by surviving apostles, went out beyond Judea and Samaria and sought converts among the many neighboring kingdoms that were, like the Jews of Judea,  subject to Roman rule.

Obama's Refugee Policy: Yes to Potential Terrorists, No to Victims of Genocide: Raymond Ibrahim, Gatestone Institute, June 5, 2016— "Without doubt, Syrians of all confessions are being victimized by this savage war and are facing unimaginable suffering. But only Christians and other religious minorities are the deliberate targets of systematic persecution and genocide." — U.S. Senator Tom Cotton, March 17, 2016.

 

On Topic Links

 

The Orlando Shooting Launches a War on Christianity: David French, National Review, June 15, 2016

Arabs Using Christians to Fight Israel: Shadi Khalloul, Gatestone Institute, May 29, 2016

The Pope Who Gained the World, But Lost His Own Soul: Raymond Ibrahim, Breaking Israel News, June 6, 2016

Christian Zionists Are Among Our Best Supporters: Pini Dunner, Algemeiner, June 17, 2016

 

 

ASSYRIAN BISHOP WANTS FRIENDSHIP WITH ISRAEL

Bradley Martin

Algemeiner, June 21, 2016

 

“Israel has stability, the ear of the world community, and the ability to be a modern state in the Middle East. Israel has withstood the test of time,” says Mar Awa Royel, the first American-born Assyrian bishop in history. Born David Royel in Chicago, Illinois on July 4, 1975, His Grace Mar Awa, Bishop of the Assyrian Church of the East, who presides over the Diocese of California, conveys his desire for friendship between Israel and the Assyrian people.

Noting that “we’ve had a long history,” he cites prophecy in the Book of Isaiah in order to provide a biblical foundation for his desired brotherhood with Israel, and describes several church-organized pilgrimages that he has led to Israel.

 

While there are very few Assyrian Christians in Israel, until 1853 the Assyrian Church of the East shared a part of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Numerous records and Assyrian manuscripts are now in the possession of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate in Israel.

 

Bishop Royel also described the relations and commonalities between Jews and Assyrian Christians in Iraq prior to the establishment of the state of Israel. Even after the Arab Muslim conquest of the Middle East, which installed Arabic as the lingua franca of the region, Assyrians continued to speak Assyrian.

 

The Nash Didan (Aramaic for “our people”) refers to Jews who lived in villages in northern Iraq (modern-day Kurdish Regional Government) and near the borders of Iran, Turkey, and Azerbaijan. Tradition indicates that the community was founded by Jews who fled to that area during the Babylonian Exile, and did not return to their homeland after the declaration issued by Cyrus II of Persia. Assyrian and the Nash Didan dialect are very close. It is currently estimated that about 300,000 of the Nash Didan live in the state of Israel.

 

“We are the most Semitic of the churches,” says Bishop Royel. Jews and Assyrians in the region were bound by more than a common linguistic heritage. Royel describes the Targumim (the Aramaic translations/paraphrases of the Hebrew Bible and accompanying rabbinic teachings) as an influential text in Church doctrine. In fact, the Targumim are the antecedents of the version of the Old (and New) Testament of the Assyrian Church of the East. Queen Helena of Adiabene, an Assyrian who converted to Judaism in about 30 C.E., spent the latter part of her life in Jerusalem, where she gave gifts to the Second Temple of Jerusalem and was meticulous in her observance of the precepts of Judaism.

 

Assyrian churches themselves are a fusion of synagogue and Jerusalem Temple worship. “There are no examples like it in any churches that are found in North America,” says Royel. “Facing east, there is a Holy of Holies, and a bima in the middle of the church building where the Scriptural readings take place.” The Assyrian Church of the East also follows the Jewish practice of not pronouncing the holy name of God when the Bible is read in church. Readings from the Old Testament are also featured more prominently than in other church services.

 

The Assyrian Church at one time had an estimated 80 million adherents. As it now stands, their worldwide numbers have been reduced to a little less than 4 million people collectively. In Iraq, 1.5 million Assyrians lived in the country at the start of the US invasion in 2003. Today, the Assyrian Christians in Iraq number around 150,000. That is a 90 percent reduction of Assyrian Christians in their ancient homeland.

 

“Iraq does not view Assyrians as part of their society,” says Royel. “Maybe, it is time to reconsider Sykes-Picot. There is talk of establishing martial law in Iraq, like in Egypt, but that doesn’t seem practical. Egypt is more homogenous than Iraq.”

 

When asked what a modern state of Assyria would look like, Royel stated that he would like very much to see a free Assyrian homeland for his people to live in peace within its borders. Friendship between Israel and Assyria would be mutually beneficial, with both countries being strong allies. Whereas Israel would serve as a model for a successful Middle Eastern state for Assyria, Israel would gain a strong ally in an increasingly tumultuous region.

 

Bradley Martin is Deputy Editor at CIJR and a Fellow of the Haym Salomon Center for American Jewish Thought

 

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THE ASSYRIANS’ PLIGHT HAS BEEN OVERSHADOWED BY THE SUFFERING OF THE YAZIDIS, BUT THEY ARE VERY MUCH IN DANGER

Terry Glavin

National Post, June 9, 2016

 

They are the original people of Mesopotamia’s cradle of civilization, the indigenous people of ancient Sumer and Babylon, and they’ve been around for at least 5,000 years. From their heartland on the Nineveh Plains and the Upper Tigris in what is now the transboundary region of Syria, Turkey, Iran and Iraq, their empires waxed and waned down through the centuries from the Caucasus Mountains to Cyprus and Egypt and deep into the Arabian Peninsula.

 

The Assyrians were among the world’s first peoples to adopt Christianity, and they still speak varieties of Aramaic, the language of Christ and his apostles. They survived a series of genocidal anti-Christian frenzies during the Ottoman Empire’s final convulsions a century ago, and again in the 1930s. They survived the persecutions and ethnic cleansings waged against them by Iraq’s Saddam Hussein and the Iranian Khomeinists. But their survival now, as a distinct people, looks bleak.

 

There were perhaps 1.5 million Assyrians holding out in the region at the close of the 20th century. Two years ago, Minority Rights Group International reckoned their numbers in Iraq had dwindled to maybe 350,000 There are probably fewer — estimates are wildly conflicting — in Syria.

 

With Syria’s continuing destruction, mainly at the hands of President Bashar Assad and his Russian and Iranian allies, and with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) carrying out its bloody jihad in Iraq from Mosul to Fallujah and the outskirts of Baghdad, the Assyrians are again wandering the roads of the Middle East. They’re huddled in makeshift displaced-persons camps or fleeing as United Nations’ refugees to the four corners of the earth.

 

But they are not without hope. The cause of an Assyrian homeland has gained a great deal of traction lately: not an independent country, but a separate province, in a federated and decentralized Iraq. “An autonomous region. A safe haven. That’s what the people want — a homeland. We want to be able to protect ourselves,” Juliana Taimoorazy, founding president of the Chicago-based Iraqi Christian Relief Council, told me the other day. The idea is not as implausible as it sounds.

 

The Assyrian predicament has been overshadowed by the suffering of the Yazidis, a similarly ancient non-Muslim minority in the region. Targeted for genocide and enslavement by ISIL in the autumn months of 2014, hundreds of thousands of Yazidis were forced to flee an ISIL advance in the Yazidis’ homeland in Iraqi Kurdistan.

 

The encirclement of hundreds of unarmed Yazidis on Mount Sinjar captured the world’s attention and finally shamed the NATO countries into mounting an air-power campaign to curb ISIL’s depredations — a coalition effort that first involved a half-dozen Canadian CF-18s and now includes the Canadian Special Operations Regiment in a “train, advise and assist” mission, mostly with the Iraqi Kurdish peshmerga.

The Western support won by the Kurdish Regional Government in Iraq, and the KRG’s tentative allies among the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) guerrillas of Rojava in northern Syria, has been a mixed blessing for the Assyrians. The secularist KRG goes out of its way to insist that it embraces the Assyrian minority, but Assyrians are wary and mistrustful. Iraqi Kurds have turned on them before, and as recently as 2011 anti-Assyrian riots broke out in the predominantly Kurdish city of Duhok, incited by a Kurdish political party affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood. “At any moment, some mullah can declare a fatwa against us,” Taimooorazy said.

 

With Syria and Iraq having degenerated into hellholes of jihadism, mass murder and unceasing sectarian war, the Assyrians’ allegiances of convenience have sometimes left outsiders perplexed about whose “side” they’re on.

 

The Assyrians sided with the Kurds against Saddam Hussein from the 1980s to the 2003 Anglo-American invasion. “We hoped the Americans would help us regain our land, the way the Zionists did,” Taimoorazy said, “but that didn’t happen.” As a result, a lot of Assyrians cooled to the Americans. At the same time, while Israel is seen as a pariah in much of the Arab world, many Assyrians see Israel as a “model,” Taimoorazy said.

 

In Syria, meanwhile, Assyrian church leaders and their flocks tended to oppose the uprising against Assad for fear of what might follow and doubts about the NATO countries’ willingness to intervene to protect them against jihadists. But other Assyrians have formed militias in alliance with Kurdish and Arab guerillas to fight both ISIL and Assad’s regular troops. Still, the crux of the Assyrian dilemma in the region’s turmoils is fairly straightforward, Taimoorazy said: “We don’t trust the Arabs, and we don’t trust the Kurds.”

 

He insisted that Assyrians are not demanding an independent state. “We don’t want Iraq to fall apart. We want Iraq to stay together.”

An Assyrian province in a more decentralized Iraq would be an uphill battle because it would have to come at least partly at the expense of the KRG, in areas it now controls. But it would also offer a refuge to Yazidis and minority Turkomans and Shabaks. But then again, there are now-powerful Sunni Arabs in Iraq who are also contemplating a constitutional breakout from Baghdad’s control.

 

Owing to the Shiite-dominated government giving every appearance of being hopelessly mired in brutal sectarianism and runaway corruption — and not least because of the growing influence of Iran’s Khomeinists in semi-official militias as vicious as ISIL, as well as in Iraq’s official security apparatus — a move is underway to establish a semi-autonomous Sunni region in Iraq. About a third of Iraqis are Sunni.

 

“But the Assyrians are not just a religious group,” Taimoorazy said. “We are an ethnic minority, and we are losing our language and our culture. The world has to begin to see the Assyrian people not just as Christians, but as a distinct people. And we are being wiped out.”

 

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AUTONOMOUS ASSYRIA: THE ONLY POSSIBLE SOLUTION TO THE ARAB WORLD’S TERMINAL DISORDER

Paul Merkley

Bayview Review, April 27, 2016

 

Christianity was born in the Middle East – long before the Middle East became Arab and Muslim. For perhaps a decade or two following the Ascension of Jesus Christ, all of the people who accepted the Christian message were Jews – most of them living in Jerusalem. But then missions, headed originally by surviving apostles, went out beyond Judea and Samaria and sought converts among the many neighboring kingdoms that were, like the Jews of Judea,  subject to Roman rule. Among the first of these Kingdoms to accept Christian faith as its national faith was Armenia — a prosperous Kingdom in part of what is today Turkey. Shortly thereafter, various Kingdoms in Egypt,  Abyssinia (Ethiopia), North Africa and Arabia also entered the world of Christianity. Nearly six centuries later, Islam came into the world.

 

For perspective, we might note that several further centuries would again go by before the English language came into the world. And yet it is safe to say that most people who imagine themselves well-informed about history nod passively before the politically-correct fiction that Islam is indigenous to the Arab world, and that where there are churches anywhere in that world these were imposed during recent centuries by European missionaries working hand-in-hand with political imperialists.  It is Islam that was and is the imperialist in this story.

 

Within a few decades of the appearance of the Qur’an (630 AD), these Christians were faced with the terrible dilemma of either surrendering to fanatical illiterates everything that they believed — or converting, by simple vocal declaration. Ever since then, those brave souls who stayed with the faith have lived under the stigma of being subversive opponents of Truth, denied the benefit of full participation in the circles of those who govern and subject to punishing taxes from which the faithful are exempt. This is called the dhimmmi system, the system under which non-Muslims are allowed to exist but with restricted liberties, as less than citizens. This state of affairs continued legally until the last of the Muslim empires fell – that is the Ottoman Empire, which was dismantled about the end of the First World War.

 

At the same time, the Islamic warriors who founded their kingdoms beyond Arabia quickly became aware of certain benefits that they could gain by not bearing down too far on their Christian subjects, by not compelling their conversion. Compared to the Muslim warriors who were sweeping in from Arabia, indigenous Christian people throughout the Middle East and beyond had enjoyed high levels of literacy, education, professional accomplishment, economic success and extensive connections abroad. Accordingly, the Arab masters drew the Christians into eminent roles in the public life.

 

The political leaders in the Arab world have always had to tread a fine line as they sought to sustain these valued indigenous, non-Arab, non-Muslim communities, while fending off accusation from the Muslim majority that they are aggrandizing the enemies of Allah. In moments of extraordinary crisis in the public life of the Arab world, these political masters swiftly turned their backs on the Christians and surrendered them to the Muslim mobs.

 

I have space here only to note two major extirpation campaigns of this kind that have taken place since the year 1900.  One of these campaigns resulted in the absolute ejection from the Arab world of one of the most ancient Christian communities – the Armenians. The other, still ongoing, has so far  resulted in the savage reduction of numbers and of political and social significance of the Assyrians, who  existed until recently  in scattered communities in parts of Iraq and Syria, but who are being targeted for annihilation by the Islamist politicians who have come to power during the so-called Arab Spring. While this has happened, Western governments and Western news media have looked the other way.

 

Shortly after World War One began, the new nationalist-secularist leaders of what had been the Ottoman empire, found themselves courted by the masters of both camps in that War. Anticipating (reasonably enough) a great victory for the Central Powers, the Turks threw their lot on the wrong side – against the Allied Powers (including Britain, France and Russia.) Under cover of preventing massive Armenian betrayal of the national interest, the Turks conducted a popularly-supported extermination campaign against the Armenians — remembered as “the Armenian massacre” of 1915…

[To Read The Full Article, Click the Following Link–ED]

 

Paul Merkley is a CIJR Academic Fellow

 

 

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OBAMA’S REFUGEE POLICY: YES TO POTENTIAL TERRORISTS, NO TO VICTIMS OF GENOCIDE

Raymond Ibrahim

Gatestone Institute, June, 5, 2016

 

"Without doubt, Syrians of all confessions are being victimized by this savage war and are facing unimaginable suffering. But only Christians and other religious minorities are the deliberate targets of systematic persecution and genocide." — U.S. Senator Tom Cotton, March 17, 2016.

Christians account for 10% of Syria's total population — yet they account for less than 0.5% of the refugees received into America. Sunni Muslims are 74% of Syria's population — yet 99% of those received into America. In other words, there should be 20 times more Christians and about one-quarter fewer Sunnis granted refugee status than there already have been.

 

ISIS is "taking advantage of the torrent of migrants to insert operatives into that flow." — James Clapper, Director of National Intelligence. Although the U.N. and U.S. know that Sunni refugees are terrorizing Christians in their camps, they abandon the true victims who deserve sanctuary in the West, while "humanitarianly" taking in their persecutors. The Obama administration has been escalating a policy that both abandons Mideast Christians and exposes Americans to the jihad.

 

Late last year it was revealed that 97% of Syrian refugees accepted into the U.S. were Sunni Muslims — the same Islamic sect to which the Islamic State belongs— while fewer than half-a-percent were Christians. This disparity has since gotten worse. From May 1 to May 23, 499 Syrian refugees — a number that exceeds the total number of refugees admitted during the last three years — were received into the United States. Zero Christians were among them; 99 percent were Sunni (the remaining one percent was simply listed as "Muslim"). These numbers are troubling.

 

First, from a strictly humanitarian point of view — and humanitarian reasons are the chief reason being cited in accepting refugees — Christians should receive priority simply because currently they are among the most persecuted groups in the Middle East. Along with the Yazidis, Christians are experiencing genocide at the hands of ISIS, as the State Department recently determined. The Islamic State has repeatedly forced Christians to renounce Christ or die; has enslaved and raped them, and desecrated or destroyed more than 400 of their churches.

Sunni Muslims are not being slaughtered, beheaded, and raped for refusing to renounce their faith; they are not having their mosques burned, nor are they being jailed and killed for apostasy, blasphemy, or proselytization. On the contrary, non-ISIS affiliated Sunnis are responsible for committing dozens of such atrocities against Christian minorities every single month all throughout the Islamic world.

 

Even before ISIS' new "caliphate" was established, Christians were and continue to be targeted by Muslims— Muslim mobs, Muslim individuals, Muslim regimes, and Muslim terrorists, from Muslim countries of all races (Arab, African, Asian, etc.) — and for the same reason: Christians are infidel number one. See Crucified Again: Exposing Islam's New War on Christians for hundreds of anecdotes before the rise of ISIS as well as the Muslim doctrines that create such hatred and contempt for Christians who are especially deserving of refugee status…

[To Read The Full Article, Click the Following Link–ED]

 

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On Topic Links

 

The Orlando Shooting Launches a War on Christianity: David French, National Review, June 15, 2016— We are now fully through the looking glass. A Muslim man walked into a gay nightclub and gunned down 49 men and women, most of them gay or lesbian. He paused in the middle of his massacre to call 911 and a local television station, making clear that he wanted the world to know he had pledged allegiance to ISIS.

Arabs Using Christians to Fight Israel: Shadi Khalloul, Gatestone Institute, May 29, 2016— Christians in Holy Land, Judea and Samaria — what today is called the West Bank or the Palestinian Authority (PA) — are, with the Jews and assorted Arabs, the indigenous people of the land. The region has been inhabited by Jews and then Christians for nearly three thousand years; until the seventh century, Muslims did not even exist.

The Pope Who Gained the World, But Lost His Own Soul: Raymond Ibrahim, Breaking Israel News, June 6, 2016— Last week I appeared on the Glazov Gang discussing Pope Francis’ increasingly strange remarks. This special edition of The Glazov Gang presents The Raymond Ibrahim Moment with Raymond Ibrahim, a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center.

Christian Zionists Are Among Our Best Supporters: Pini Dunner, Algemeiner, June 17, 2016— Shortly after moving to the United States, I was introduced to Evangelical Christian supporters of Israel for the first time. I found them confounding and intriguing.

LESSON OF RWANDA TRAGEDY—PREVENT GENOCIDE, BY FIGHTING INCITEMENT & INDIFFERENCE TO HATE

‘Never Again,’ Again and Again: Irwin Cotler, National Post, Apr. 7, 2016— This week marks an important moment of remembrance and reminder, of bearing witness and public warning.

Putting Anti-Semitism on the Radar at the University of California and Beyond: Tammi Rossman-Benjamin, Jewish Journal, Apr. 1, 2016

Bewildered Britain Still Doesn’t Get It: Melanie Phillips, Jerusalem Post, Mar. 31, 2016— What is that unfamiliar rustling in the British cultural undergrowth? It’s the sound of people suddenly acknowledging a problem with anti-Semitism.

The Nazi's Table: Robert Sussman, Jewish Life, Mar. 1, 2016— Norman Eisen met Barack Obama as law school classmates at Harvard University, where they became friends, remaining in touch even after their school days ended.

 

On Topic Links

 

Hillel Neuer Interview from "Beyond Paranoia: The New Anti-Semitism”: UN Watch, Mar. 25, 2016

The German Bellwether: Michael Sussman, National Post, Mar. 30, 2016

Terror as a Fact of Life: Robert Fulford, National Post, Mar. 26, 2016

Angela Merkel’s Unpopular Goodness: Daniel Kehlmann, New York Times, Apr. 1, 2016

 

 

            ‘NEVER AGAIN,’ AGAIN AND AGAIN

            Irwin Cotler                  

                                                            National Post, Apr. 7, 2016

 

This week marks an important moment of remembrance and reminder, of bearing witness and public warning. For it marks the 22nd anniversary of the Rwandan Genocide – an unspeakable atrocity where one million Rwandans were murdered in a three-month genocidal onslaught that began April 7, 1994. Indeed, what makes the Rwandan Genocide so unspeakable was not only the horror of the genocide itself, but the fact that it was preventable. No one can say that we did not know – we knew, but we did not act.

 

Eight years ago, the Canadian Parliament – by a unanimous motion – designated April 7th as a National Day of Reflection on the Prevention of Genocide. We are invited to remember not only the horrors of genocide, but as the Canadian Parliamentary motion called for, to reflect and act upon its lessons. For while the world vowed “Never Again” after the unprecedented horrors of the Holocaust, “Never Again” has happened again and again, symbolized by the international community as bystander in Rwanda.

 

As former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan, lamented on the 10th anniversary of the Rwandan Genocide, “Such crimes cannot be reversed. Such failures cannot be repaired. The dead cannot be brought back to life. So what can we do?” The answer is that the international community will only prevent the killing fields of the future by heeding the lessons from past tragedies. What, then, are these lessons, and, what is it that we can do?

 

The first lesson of the Rwandan Genocide – not unlike the Holocaust – is that these genocides occurred not simply because of the machinery of death, but also because of state-sanctioned incitement to hate and genocide. Indeed, as the case law of the Rwandan Genocide demonstrates, these acts of genocide were preceded by – and anchored in – an orchestrated dehumanization and demonization of the minority Tutsi population in Rwanda. This included invoking epidemiological metaphors of Tutsis as “inyenzi” – “cockroaches” – as prologue to and justification for their extermination.

 

On this 80th anniversary year of the Nuremberg Race Laws the international community must bear in mind – as the Supreme Court of Canada also affirmed in the Léon Mugesera case – that incitement to genocide is a crime in and of itself. Taking action to prevent it, as the Genocide Convention mandates us to do, is not a policy option; it is an international legal obligation of the highest order. Indeed, this is what the Responsibility to Prevent – the centerpiece of the Responsibility to Protect – is all about.

 

The second lesson, dramatized by the Rwandan Genocide, is the danger of indifference and the consequences of inaction – hence the Responsibility to Act and Protect. Simply put, while the United Nations Security Council and the international community dithered and delayed, Rwandans were dying. Accordingly, as we remember Rwanda, we must recommit ourselves to prevent and protect the victims of mass atrocities in our time. Indeed, while urgent protective action was so needed in Syria, appeals for help these past five years fell on the deaf ears of the international community, a bystander once again. We must break this cycle of indifference and inaction if we are truly to learn the requisite lesson.

 

The third lesson is the danger of a culture of impunity – that repeatedly emboldens those intent on committing mass atrocities – and the corresponding responsibility, therefore, to bring these war criminals to justice. Indeed, if the last century – symbolized by the Holocaust and the genocide in Rwanda – was the age of atrocity, it was also the age of impunity. Few of the perpetrators were brought to justice. Just as there must be no sanctuary for hate, no refuge for bigotry so there must be no base or sanctuary for the perpetrators of the worst crimes against humanity.

 

And that is why as minister of justice, I initiated the first-ever prosecution under the War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity Act of Rwandan War Criminal Désiré Munyaneza, who was convicted of such crimes by Canadian courts. Yet the culture of impunity continues to abound. Consider Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir who continues to evade justice and accountability for his role in the Darfurian genocide; or the impunity of the Syrian leadership for its ongoing war crimes and crimes against humanity in Syria, aided and abetted by its Russian and Chinese enablers who vetoed UN Security Council resolutions to refer Syrian criminality to the International Criminal Court.

 

The fourth lesson is the persistent danger of violence against women during mass atrocities, of rape in particular, as a weapon of war. Indeed, evidence from the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda dramatizes the systematic use of sexual assault during the genocide as a means of continued degradation, humiliation, and torture, while rape in Syria emerged not just as a consequence of atrocity, but as an instrument for pursuing it…

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

 

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PUTTING ANTI-SEMITISM ON THE RADAR AT THE UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA AND BEYOND

                                               Tammi Rossman-Benjamin

                                                    Jewish Journal, Apr. 1, 2016

 

 

Last week, the Regents of the University of California unanimously approved a landmark Statement of Principles Against Intolerance containing the following language: “Anti-Semitism, anti-Semitic anti-Zionism and other forms of discrimination have no place at the University of California.” Although the statement has been widely hailed within the Jewish community for its unprecedented acknowledgement of anti-Zionism as a source of anti-Jewish hostility, many have overlooked an aspect of the statement’s language every bit as significant when it comes to ensuring the safety and well-being of Jewish students: the Regents’ clear call for anti-Semitism, in all of its forms, to be treated like every other kind of discrimination at the University of California – no more, but certainly no less.

 

Why is this so significant?  Because for far too long the problem of anti-Jewish bigotry has not been on the radar at the University of California.  In 2010, when UC launched the Advisory Council on Campus Climate and satellite working groups on each campus with the goal of “enhancing and sustaining a tolerant, inclusive environment…so that every single member of the UC community feels welcome, comfortable and safe,” Jewish student concerns were conspicuously absent from these groups’ agenda. This, despite the fact that Jewish students were already reporting an alarming incidence of anti-Jewish bigotry on several UC campuses.

 

Furthermore, when attempts were made to put anti-Jewish hostility on the UC radar, they were aggressively and successfully suppressed by the very groups most responsible for creating that hostility.  For example in 2012, within days of the publication of a Jewish Student Campus Climate Report commissioned by then UC President Mark Yudof, which found that “Jewish students are confronting significant and difficult climate issues as a result of … anti-Zionism and Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS)”, anti-Zionist student and community groups viciously attacked the report and demanded it be withdrawn.  

 

To this day the 2012 report’s findings and recommendations have been ignored by UC administrators, who have shown themselves unwilling to acknowledge let alone address acts of blatant anti-Semitism. Instead, they engage in a discriminatory double standard, tolerating hateful language or behavior when it is directed towards Jewish students but promptly and vigorously challenging it when directed towards other racial, ethnic or gender minorities. It is precisely this inequity that the Regents Statement Against Intolerance sought to redress. Indeed, it is only against the backdrop of the long-standing and discriminatory treatment of Jewish students that the UC statement and its curious emphasis on anti-Semitism can be understood at all.

 

And the Regents statement is historic, both for California’s Jewish students and for Jewish students nationwide, who have also fallen victim to an alarming growth in campus anti-Semitism and campus administrators who turn a blind eye to it. The University of California is our country’s most prestigious public university system.  Now that its governing board has unanimously acknowledged the serious and growing threat faced by Jewish students and called on its Chancellors to provide appropriate protection, it will surely encourage other university leaders to follow suit…                                                                    

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

 

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                                    BEWILDERED BRITAIN STILL DOESN’T GET IT                                                                             

Melanie Phillips

Jerusalem Post, Mar. 31, 2016

 

What is that unfamiliar rustling in the British cultural undergrowth? It’s the sound of people suddenly acknowledging a problem with anti-Semitism. For years, anti-Semitism in Britain was the prejudice that dared not speak its name. The hostility toward Israel endemic in educated circles was emphatically declared to have nothing whatever to do with hatred of Jews. Anyone who claimed a connection was denounced as “waving the shroud of the Holocaust” to silence legitimate “criticism” of Israel.

 

Jewish students have long run the gauntlet of vicious Israel- and Jew-hatred. “Israel apartheid” weeks, BDS motions and campus conferences declaring Israel is a “settler-colonial state” have morphed into intimidation, stigmatization and discrimination against Jews at university. Virtually no one outside the Jewish community has paid this any attention. Now, though, unease has begun to seep into British national consciousness. The reason is a shift in perspective. Israel is no longer seen as the world’s major flashpoint. The TV news is instead pumping images of Syrian atrocities and floods of displaced migrants into the living rooms of the nation. Security officials repeatedly warn of the likelihood of coordinated Islamist attacks in Britain. The terrorist atrocities last year in Paris and most recently in Brussels have ratcheted up anxiety levels.

 

After the Paris attacks, though, something else changed. Many, from Prime Minister David Cameron downward, expressed their shock when British Jews said they no longer felt safe in Britain, specifically as Jews. How could this be, Britain asked itself in blinkered bewilderment. With the election of the far-left Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the Labor Party, moreover, two further things happened to propel the issue of Jew-hatred to center-stage. First, people became aware that this potential future prime minister had been “honored” to host members of Hamas and Hezbollah, and supported people who had promoted blood libels or 9/11 conspiracy theories against the Jews. At the same time, however, Jew-bashers became bolder as the far-left started to dominate the Labor Party. As a result, the party has become engulfed by more and more revelations of anti-Semitism, which Corbyn has been unable or unwilling to put to rest.

 

Vicki Kirby, a former Labor parliamentary candidate, was suspended for tweeting that Jews had “big noses,” Adolf Hitler was the “Zionist god” and Islamic State should attack Israel. She had her suspension lifted and became vice chairwoman of a local party branch before exposure of these events forced Labor to suspend her again. Another Labor member, Gerry Downing, who has extolled “Hamas heroism” and demanded that the “Jewish question” be solved, was expelled from the party but then readmitted. He was expelled again only after Cameron raised the case in Parliament.

 

Meanwhile, the issue of campus Jew-hatred exploded when Alex Chalmers, the non-Jewish co-chairman of the Labor Party-affiliated Oxford University Labor Club (OULC), resigned with a devastating account of the Jew-bashing in such circles. “Whether it be,” he wrote, “members of the executive throwing around the term ‘Zio’ (a term for Jews usually confined to websites run by the Ku Klux Klan) with casual abandon, senior members of the club expressing their ‘solidarity’ with Hamas and explicitly defending their tactics of indiscriminately murdering civilians, or a former co-chair claiming that ‘most accusations of anti-Semitism are just the Zionists crying wolf,’ a large proportion of both OULC and the student Left in Oxford more generally have some kind of problem with Jews,” he wrote.

 

The Chalmers statement received huge attention from the British media. For the first time, non-Jewish commentators started expressing horrified concern about the swell of anti-Semitism. Many, though, still don’t get it. Where did all this come from, they ask – unable to comprehend that, for the answer, they need to look within themselves. The former archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, now master of Magdalene College, Cambridge, has said he is shocked by a series of anti-Semitic incidents at British universities and criticized the “muted” official response.

 

However at Christmas 2006, while Williams was in charge of the Church of England, he preached that Christians were being driven out of Bethlehem by Israel’s policies and its security barrier. Yet it is Bethlehem’s Muslim administration that the town’s Christians have fled, while Israel is the only country in the Middle East where Christians are safe. In a similar vein, Chris Bryant, Labor’s shadow leader of the House of Commons, has warned against “anti-Semitism by proxy” in his party, and observed: “Questioning the very existence of the State of Israel is a not-too-subtle form of anti-Semitism.” Yet he also wrote: “The Israeli settlements are illegal and must stop. All too often, the Israeli government has made it impossible for the Palestinians to build homes, develop infrastructure or even have access to basic utilities.” Like Williams’ comments about Bethlehem, these charges by Bryant are false, grossly unfair and part of the demonization of Israel that leads directly to Jew-bashing.

 

Anti-semitism is not merely one of many prejudices. It has unique features, the same ones that characterize the demonization of Israel. Both are irrational obsessions consisting entirely of grotesque lies and libels. Both accuse a group of people of a conspiracy of evil of cosmic proportions. Both accuse those people of committing abuses of which they are not only innocent, but are, in fact, the victims…

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

 

 

Contents

    THE NAZI'S TABLE

           Robert Sussman                     

                                                 Jewish Life, Mar. 1, 2016

 

Norman Eisen met Barack Obama as law school classmates at Harvard University, where they became friends, remaining in touch even after their school days ended. When Obama eventually won the US Presidency, he appointed Eisen, in 2009, to serve as his Special Counsel for Ethics and Government Reform. Only a couple of years later, in 2011, the president tapped Eisen to be the US ambassador to the Czechs. It was no coincidence that Obama chose Eisen to be ambassador in Prague of all places: “The president thought it would be a remarkable thing for the son of a Czechoslovak Holocaust survivor to return and represent the US… No one from my immediate family had returned since my mother fled Communism in 1949, and the symbolism of [returning there] was just too unique an opportunity to pass up.”

 

In 1944, Frieda – along with her parents, siblings, and other family members – was sent to Auschwitz. Although she and two siblings miraculously survived, their parents and other relatives weren’t as fortunate. On his first day as ambassador, following all of the formal greetings and arrival ceremonies, Eisen sat alone in the library of his new home reflecting on the events of the day. The head of the ambassador’s household, Miroslav Cernik, came into the room and informed the ambassador that there was something Cernik wanted to show him. Cernik led Eisen to a small, ornate table and asked Eisen to look underneath the table. The ambassador, who thought it a rather unusual request, complied nonetheless, and got down on his hands and knees, crawling under the table.

 

Nothing could have prepared Eisen for what he found there: a sticker with the clearly discernable image of an eagle and a swastika, the formal symbol of the Nazi party, emblazoned upon it, thus marking the table as former Nazi property. Cernik explained that he had not wanted Eisen to make the upsetting discovery for himself by chance. Eisen, who had envisioned carrying out the many responsibilities of his office, was unprepared for such a thing and described seeing the sticker as “a punch in the gut”, hitting him on an emotional, as well as a physical, level. In an ironic twist, Eisen would later use that very table during his tenure as ambassador as the stand for his Chanukah menorah.

 

The Nazis were not the original owners of that table or that house. The US ambassador’s residence in Prague, named Petschek Villa, was originally built by a wealthy Jewish industrialist by the name of Otto Petschek in the late 1920s. Petschek, who made his money from coal mine holdings as well as banking, was one of the wealthiest men in Czechoslovakia, before his untimely death in 1934. With Germany’s designs for Czechoslovakia clear and the threat of an invasion on the horizon, Petschek’s family fled the country in 1938. The property was subsequently seized by the Germans and commandeered for use as the headquarters of the Wehrmacht (German armed forces) commander of Prague, General Toussaint, his staff, and other Nazi officials and aides during their seven-year occupation of Prague. Occupied afterwards briefly by the Russians and then the Czechoslovak General Staff, the US leased the property in 1945 before eventually buying it from the Czechoslovak government in 1948.

 

On his arrival at the Petschek Villa, Eisen had the home returned to its Jewish roots and made suitable for a Torah-observant Jewish family to live in, kashering the kitchens and affixing mezuzos to the doorposts of the residence where he and his family would be staying. The kitchen staff “went into overdrive mastering the Jewish dietary laws”, learning to make traditional Jewish foods like challah and matzah ball soup, and sourcing kosher products, especially a variety of kosher meats, which were unavailable in Prague and had to be ordered from either Berlin or Vienna. Eisen and his family kept Shabbos in their new Czech home each week, sometimes in the company of various dignitaries and dining in a room and at a table that were once in the hands of the Nazis. As Eisen describes it, “It [was] mind-blowing, eating on kosher State Department china where the commander of the Nazi Wehrmacht used to live.”

 

Frieda opted not to return to her homeland, even when her son was there serving as the ambassador. She passed away in 2012, during her son’s tenure in Prague, but not without a “tremendous sense of triumph” at the fact that her son had returned to the country of her birth as the representative of the most powerful nation on earth. Frieda was fond of telling people, “The Nazis deported us in cattle cars and my son flew back on Air Force One,” a reference to a trip that Eisen made to Prague with Obama in 2010 for an international treaty signing ceremony.

 

Joe Lieberman testified regarding Eisen’s appointment in the US Senate: “It is indeed a profound historical justice…that the ambassador's residence in Prague, which was originally built by a Jewish family that was forced to flee Prague by the Nazis, [which], in turn, the Nazis took over…as their headquarters, now 70 years later, is occupied by Norman and his family. And I might, on a point of personal privilege, add that they observe the Sabbath there every Friday night and Saturday. So if you need any evidence that there is a God, I offer that to you.” Eisen ended up serving in Prague for almost four years, one of the longest tenures of any recent US ambassador there.

 

CIJR Wishes All Our Friends & Supporters: Shabbat Shalom!

On Topic

 

Hillel Neuer Interview from "Beyond Paranoia: The New Anti-Semitism”: UN Watch, Mar. 25, 2016—In this new documentary film, UN Watch Executive Director Hillel Neuer tells his personal story and feelings about being at the UN and speaking out. “When I walk into the Human Rights Council, I feel the glares of hatred, of enmity directed at me. I see it in in their eyes, and it's from dictatorships, it's from Arab states, it's from others — sometimes even from some democracies."

The German Bellwether: Michael Sussman, National Post, Mar. 30, 2016—I was recently visiting a friend in Germany as local elections took place in before national elections next year. In her region, not far from sophisticated Frankfurt, the neo-Nazi NPD party won 17 per cent of the vote, taking its place as the third largest party.

Terror as a Fact of Life: Robert Fulford, National Post, Mar. 26, 2016 —Absorbing the grim reality of Islamic terrorism, many of us have found ourselves changing our ideas about the menace our civilization faces. The atrocities in Brussels on Tuesday, coming so soon after the November bombings that killed 130 people in Paris, have heightened the meaning of jihadist violence. We knew the world was in trouble. Now we have an appalling sense of how bad the trouble is.

Angela Merkel’s Unpopular Goodness: Daniel Kehlmann, New York Times, Apr. 1, 2016—When I returned to Berlin recently after a few months away, a friend asked me to try a new Chinese restaurant in Kreuzberg, a hip multiethnic neighborhood in the city. “It’s close to the subway station Kottbusser Tor,” he texted. “But take a cab, otherwise it’s too dangerous.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

                        

 

 

 

                  

 

 

 

AS EGYPT’S ECONOMY TANKS & IRAN TIES WORSEN, SUDAN’S SHADOW FALLS OVER CHRISTIANS’ SITUATION

Download Today's Isranet Daily Briefing.pdf 

 

Contents:                          

 

(Please Note: articles may have been shortened in the interest of space. Please click link for the complete article – Ed.)

 

 

Morsi, Egypt Face Economic Meltdown: Felix Imonti, Al-Monitor, Jan. 8, 2013—Six months of street violence over the preparation of the constitution has led to the neglect of an economy. The budget deficit rose by 38%, or $13.1 billion over six months, the Egyptian pound slipped 6% against the US dollar, unemployment rose from 8.9% to 12.4% and GDP growth fell from 5.0 to 0.5%.

The Enduring Egypt-Iran Divide: Mehdi Khalaji, Washington Institute, Dec. 31, 2012—Initially, the Muslim Brotherhood's ascent to power in the aftermath of the massive popular protests that toppled Morsi's predecessor, Hosni Mubarak, inspired hope of renewed diplomatic ties with Iran. But, despite shared ideological principles, significant political obstacles continue to inhibit bilateral cooperation.

 

A 'Sudanese Genocide' in Egypt?: Raymond Ibrahim, Front Page Magazine, Jan 4, 2013—The current tensions in Egypt between the Muslim Brotherhood-led government and a fragmented populace that includes large segments of people who oppose the Islamization of Egypt—the moderates, secularists, and Christians who recently demonstrated in mass at Tahrir Square and even besieged the presidential palace—is all too familiar. One need only look to Egypt's immediate neighbour, Sudan, and its bloody history, to know where the former may be headed.

 

On Topic Links

 

 

Qatar to Egypt $2.5-Billion Lifeline Props Up Pound: Yasmine Saleh & Patrick Werr, Globe and Mail, Jan. 8, 2013

Cables Show State Department Disregarded Muslim Brotherhood Threat: John Rossomando, Investigative Project on Terrorism, Jan. 8, 2013

Preacher Alarms Many in Egypt with Calls for Islamist Vice Police: Egypt Independent, Jan. 9, 2013

Morsi Manages Egypt’s Economic Decline: Nervana Mahmoud, Al-Monitor, Jan 7, 2013

Diving Currency Adds to Egypt's Woes: Matt Bradley, Wall Street Journal, Dec. 30, 2013

Egyptian Cleric Threatens Egypt's Copts with Genocide: Raymond Ibrahim, Gatestone Institute, Dec. 28, 2012

 

 

 

MORSI, EGYPT FACE ECONOMIC MELTDOWN

Felix Imonti

Al-Monitor, Jan. 8, 2013

 

It took a mere 20% of the electorate to bring into effect the new constitution. Eighty percent of voters either rejected it or did not vote — for whatever reason . The obsession that Morsi had with imposing the constitution has placed him in the middle of a political minefield. Six months of street violence over the preparation of the constitution has led to the neglect of an economy that has come to a near halt. The budget deficit rose by 38%, or $13.1 billion over six months, the Egyptian pound slipped 6% against the US dollar, unemployment rose from 8.9% to 12.4% and GDP growth fell from 5.0 to 0.5%.

 

Added to those problems, foreign reserves were halved with the flight of capital and the transfer of savings abroad. The outflow led to the imposition of currency controls at the end of December, when reserves had diminished to $15 billion, enough to finance only three months of imports. Egypt runs a 50% trade deficit that used to be offset by earnings from tourism and remittances from workers abroad, but the tourists are staying away and economic conditions around the world make it more difficult for Egyptian workers to find employment.

 

Due to the political instability and the worsening financial plight of the government, Standard & Poor's downgraded Egypt's credit standing to B-minus, six levels below credit grade. Before the downgrade, Egypt paid 13.54% for a one-year treasury bond. After the downgrade, the sale of bonds was cancelled to avoid higher interest rates. Credit swops show Egypt ranking among the ten worst credit risks, along with Greece and Pakistan….

 

The certain rise in import prices will increase the inflation rate above the current level of 4.1%. The impact could be offset by expanding subsidies, which would increase the budget deficit beyond the current 10%. Already, subsidies form 30% of the budget; and it is that which the International Monetary Fund (IMF) expects the government to reduce in order to qualify for the $4.8 billion loan. Terms for the loan had been settled after a year of negotiations only to be cancelled by the Morsi government, which feared increased taxes and reduced subsidies would spark more riots before the vote on the referendum. The IMF loan is critical for acquiring the additional $10 billion from the European Union, the African Development Bank and other sources. Without it, Egypt will be frozen out of the international financial markets.

 

As most of the Egyptian government debt is owed to domestic banks, those banks face insolvency. The National Bank of Egypt, Banque Misr SAE and Commerce International Bank have been downgraded in anticipation of a government default. Egypt suffers from a shortage of investment capital due to the lack of savings. Only if there is an influx of foreign direct investment can Egypt expect to see capital available for economic expansion. That, however, is being stifled by the unrest and the effort by groups inside Egypt to reverse the sale of state enterprises made during the Mubarak regime.

 

Starting in 2004, the Mubarak government embarked upon an economic-reform and privatization program. Over the next four years, $9.4 billion in state industries were sold to foreign and domestic buyers. The GDP growth rate rose from 4.1% to 7.2%. Foreign reserves expanded from $16 billion to $34 billion. Even during the global economic crisis of 2010, the economy continued to expand at 5%, but all of that came to an abrupt halt when the mobs flooded into Tahrir Square.

 

Now, some of the sales are being reversed. Foreign investors are viewing them as future risks better avoided. Foreign direct investment is only 16% of what it was in 2007, and much of that is in the petroleum sector.

 

A bad situation is being made worse by spreading worker discontent. Workers are demanding the right to unionize and to strike. Their call for “bread, freedom and justice” was for them the purpose of the revolution. Instead, the Morsi government is breaking up strikes with the police and has jailed union activists just as the Mubarak government had done before. If anything, workers are complaining that Morsi’s administration is worse than what was overthrown.

 

Most businesses are small. Yet, it is they that are providing the bulk of Egyptian employment. Business owners are complaining that the new government is doing nothing to reduce the suffocating regulations and corrupt bureaucracy. If they try to raise capital to invest, they are forced to compete with the government borrowing to finance its growing budget deficit or with the large private and state corporations that are given preference.

 

Whatever the ideology expounded, the Muslim Brotherhood is comprised mainly of professionals, with many involved in businesses. Like the crony capitalists of the Mubarak era, the government has become an instrument to protect their interests.

 

Back in November, Morsi seized power and moved to block the Constitutional Court to save his concept of democracy. There is nothing to say that he will not break the labour unions to save his vision of the economy. He should look very carefully at the mere 20% of the voters who supported his constitutional efforts and realize that he has been given a warning. The people of Egypt are not marching in his parade.

 

Felix Imonti is the retired director of a private equity firm where he was an investment strategist for seven years. 

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THE ENDURING EGYPT-IRAN DIVIDE

Mehdi Khalaji

Washington Institute, Dec. 31, 2012

 

Despite ideological affinities between the Muslim Brotherhood and Tehran, political disagreements make a rapprochement unlikely. Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi may look besieged at home, but by brokering a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas in November, he enhanced his diplomatic stature mightily across the entire Middle East. Indeed, as 2012 comes to a close, Egypt's centrality to regional diplomacy has been restored. The big question for 2013 is whether Morsi will follow his achievement in Gaza by tackling another major diplomatic challenge: rebuilding relations with Iran after more than three decades of animosity.

 

Initially, the Muslim Brotherhood's ascent to power in the aftermath of the massive popular protests that toppled Morsi's predecessor, Hosni Mubarak, inspired hope of renewed diplomatic ties with Iran. But, despite shared ideological principles, significant political obstacles continue to inhibit bilateral cooperation.

 

Relations between the two countries collapsed in 1980, after Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini came to power in Iran's Islamic Revolution and severed ties in response to Egypt's formal recognition of Israel the previous year. Egypt's then-president, Anwar El Sadat, granted the exiled Shah of Iran permission to live in Egypt, and supported Iraq in its eight-year war with the Islamic Republic. The Shah was ultimately buried in a mosque in Cairo….

 

Islamists in Iran and Egypt have a strong ideological connection. They share anti-Israel sentiment, and support Hamas against the secular-nationalist Fatah in the Palestinians' internecine struggle. Committed to governance under Sharia (Islamic law), they both view Western culture as a threat.

 

Iran has made some efforts to establish stronger economic relations with Egypt's Islamist government and, in turn, cement a powerful anti-Israel front in the region. Iran's attempt to strike a deal to sell Egypt crude oil would also help the Iranian government to cope with economic sanctions imposed by the United States and the European Union. But, although Iran's oil minister, Rostam Qassemi, said in October that negotiations were underway, Egypt's minister of petroleum and mineral resources, Osama Kamal, quickly disavowed any such deal.

Beyond economics, Khamenei has an emotional attachment to Egypt. A student of the Egyptian style of Koran recitation, he gathers Koran reciters from Egypt, as well as from other Islamic countries, in his home every Ramadan. More important, his outlook has been heavily influenced by the writings of Sayyid Qutb, the Egyptian theoretician of the Muslim Brotherhood. Prior to the revolution, Khamenei translated three of Qutb's books into Farsi.

 

Despite these ideological affinities, political disagreements make a rapprochement unlikely. The Muslim Brotherhood considers itself the bastion of modern political Islam, and believes that it should assume a leadership role for all Islamist groups and states. For his part, Khamenei describes himself as the "leader of the Islamic world," and calls Iran its "mother city" (Umm al Qora).

 

Moreover, the Sunni-Shia divide could pose a major challenge for Egypt-Iran relations. The Muslim Brotherhood is working to strengthen ties with Sunni allies, such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and even Turkey, rather than with Iran's Shia regime, which threatens Sunni regimes by exporting revolution and pitting Shia minorities against their governments.

 

In fact, since Mubarak's ouster, anti-Shia propaganda has gained traction in the Egyptian public sphere, with books alleging Shia corruption of Islam's true meaning filling the shelves of Cairo's bookstores. But this campaign largely reflects the growing influence of Egypt's Sunni allies — particularly the Gulf monarchies, led by Saudi Arabia — rather than a genuine threat from Egypt's small and quiescent Shia community….

 

These countries then export their anti-Shia discourse to countries, like Egypt, that do not necessarily have a history of Sunni-Shia conflict. Indeed, many of Cairo's cultural landmarks, for example, were built under the Shia Fatimid Caliphate. And, before last year's revolution, Egypt was considered one of the most Shia-friendly Sunni countries in the Arab world. But the Muslim Brotherhood remains financially dependent on the Gulf monarchies, which are using Egypt as a platform for their anti-Shia, anti-Iran agenda.

 

The most urgent dispute between Iran and Egypt, however, relates to Syria. During its years in opposition, the Muslim Brotherhood considered Iran's Islamic Revolution an example of how a transnational Islamist government might assume power. But, in the face of a popular uprising in Syria, Iran has supported the brutal, repressive policies of President Bashar al-Assad's regime. As a result, Islamists in Egypt are beginning to view Iran as a status quo power, not an agent of revolutionary change.

 

Furthermore, the flow of military supplies from Iran, together with battlefield support for Assad's regime from Iran's Lebanese proxy, Hezbollah, reinforce the perception of a Sunni-Shia conflict in Syria. In this context, the collapse of Assad's regime would likely exacerbate tensions between Iran and Egypt — especially given that Syria's Muslim Brotherhood, the leading opposition group, would likely play a strong, even dominant, role in a new Syrian order.

 

For now, Egypt's government is putting national interests ahead of pan-Islamist aspirations. Rather than inciting an escalation in fighting between Israel and Hamas in Gaza, Egypt worked with the US and other regional allies to broker a cease-fire. By contrast, Iran's military leaders boasted about their support for Hamas, offering no indication that they wanted the fighting to end.

 

Less than two years after Egypt's revolution, Morsi's government is struggling to address domestic challenges, including the proliferation of armed radical groups in Sinai. But, as regional tensions continue  to rise, the chances of an Egypt-Iran detente are likely to deteriorate.
 

Mehdi Khalaji, a Qom-trained Shiite theologian, is a senior fellow at The Washington Institute.

 

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A 'SUDANESE GENOCIDE' IN EGYPT?

Raymond Ibrahim

Front Page Magazine, Jan 4, 2013

The current tensions in Egypt between the Muslim Brotherhood-led government and a fragmented populace that includes large segments of people who oppose the Islamization of Egypt—the moderates, secularists, and Christians who recently demonstrated en mass at Tahrir Square and even besieged the presidential palace—is all too familiar. One need only look to Egypt's immediate neighbour, Sudan, and its bloody history, to know where the former may be headed.

 

The civil war in Sudan, which saw the deaths of millions, was fundamentally a by-product of an Islamist regime trying to push Sharia law on large groups of Sudanese—Muslim, Christian, and polytheist—who refused to be governed by Allah's law, who refused to be Islamized. Although paying lip-service to pluralism and equality in the early years, by 1992, the Islamist government of Khartoum declared a formal jihad on the south and the Nuba, citing a fatwa by Sudan's Muslim authorities which declared that "An insurgent who was previously a Muslim is now an apostate; and a non-Muslim is a non-believer standing as a bulwark against the spread of Islam, and Islam has granted the freedom of killing both of them."

 

In other words, Khartoum decreed that: 1) It is simply trying to do Allah's will by instituting Islamic Sharia law; 2) Any Sudanese who objects—including Muslims—is obviously an infidel; 3) All such infidels must be eliminated. Accordingly, countless people were butchered, raped, and enslaved—all things legitimate once an Islamic state declares a jihad. While South Sudan recently ceded, the Nuba Mountains in the north is still continuously being bombarded.

 

Now consider how the above pattern—false promises of religious freedom, followed by a Sharia push and a declaration that all who oppose it, including Muslims, are infidels and apostates to be killed—is precisely what has been going on directly to the north of Sudan, in Egypt.

First, although Muhammad Morsi repeatedly promised that he would be a president who represents "all Egyptians" during presidential elections, mere months after coming to power, he showed that his true loyalty—which should have been obvious from the start, considering that he is a Muslim Brotherhood leader—was to Sharia and Islamization.

Even so, Egyptians did not forget that Morsi, during presidential elections, had said the following in a video interview:

 

The Egyptian people are awake and alert—Muslims and Christians; and they know that, whoever comes [to become Egypt's president], and does not respect the rule of law and the Constitution, the people will go against him. I want the people immediately to go against me, if I ever do not respect the law and Constitution.

 

Accordingly, when Morsi aggrandized himself with unprecedented presidential powers, and then used these powers to sidestep the law and push a Sharia-heavy Constitution on Egypt, large segments of the Egyptian people did rise against him; at one point, he even had to flee the presidential palace. And just as in Sudan, Morsi's Islamist allies—who, like Morsi, during elections spoke glowingly of Egyptian unity—made it a point to portray all those Egyptians opposing Morsi, the majority of whom are Muslims, of opposing Islam, of being apostates and hypocrites, and thus enemies who should be fought and killed.

 

Radical online cleric Wagdi Ghoneim, for instance, incited Muslims to wage jihad on and eliminate anyone protesting against Morsi, adding that any Muslim found protesting is, in fact, an apostate hypocrite, who wants to see Islam wiped out of Egypt. He justified the jihad on such Muslims by quoting Quran 66:9: "O Prophet! Strive hard against the infidels and the hypocrites, and be firm against them." He added that the hypocrites were supported by "Crusader Christians" (a reference to the Copts) and "debauched" liberals and seculars—all of whom must also be fought and even killed.

 

As for those Muslims who were protesting but were still "true" Muslims, Ghoneim portrayed them as being misguided—asking them, "Why are you siding with crusaders and infidels against Sharia?"—and thus also needing to be fought until they come to their senses.

 

He correctly pointed out that Islam forbids true Muslims from fighting each other—despite the fact that history (and current events) are replete with Muslims slaughtering each other—and rationalized his call to fight fellow Muslims by quoting Quran 49:9: "If two factions among the believers fight, then make settlement between the two. But if one of them oppresses the other, then fight against the one that oppresses until it returns to the ordinance of Allah." In this context, the moderate Muslims opposing Sharia are the ones "oppressing the other"—the true Muslims, Morsi and his supporters, who want Sharia, that is, who want to "return to the ordinance of Allah."…

 

Egypt is still not Sudan, but it is going down the same path and following the same pattern, specifically, an Islamist government trying to Islamize society, and characterizing as infidels and apostates all who resist. Undoubtedly Egypt's Islamist government will continue to try to Islamize all walks of Egyptian life; undoubtedly there will be those who reject it. The question is, will their resistance ever be staunch enough to prompt the government to act on the aforementioned fatwas, formally declaring all those Egyptians opposing Sharia as infidels and apostates to be hunted down and eradicated with impunity? Only time will tell.

Raymond Ibrahim is a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center and an Associate Fellow at the Middle East Forum.

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Qatar Throws Egypt $2.5-Billion Lifeline to Prop up Pound: Yasmine Saleh & Patrick Werr, Globe and Mail, Jan. 8, 2013—Qatar threw Egypt an economic lifeline on Tuesday, announcing it had lent Egypt another $2-billion and given it an extra $500-million outright to help control a currency crisis. Political strife has set off a rush to convert Egyptian pounds to dollars over the past several weeks, sending the currency to a record low against the U.S. dollar and draining foreign reserves to a critical level.

 

Cables Show State Department Disregarded Muslim Brotherhood Threat: John Rossomando,

Investigative Project on Terrorism, Jan. 8, 2013—The Obama administration chose to listen to voices suggesting that Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood was moderate rather than those who warned it would resort to violence if it came to power, cables obtained by the Investigative Project on Terrorism show.

 

Preacher Alarms Many in Egypt With Calls for Islamist Vice Police: Egypt Independent, Jan. 9, 2013—Many Egyptian viewers were horrified when preacher Hesham al-Ashry recently popped up on primetime television to say women must cover up for their own protection and advocated the introduction of religious police.

 

Morsi Manages Egypt’s Economic Decline: Nervana Mahmoud, Al-Monitor, Jan 7, 2013—As fear for the economy grows in Egypt, a comparison to the conditions faced in the ’70s and early ’80s becomes more plausible. How far will the economy deteriorate? Can Morsi’s team save it? Every household ponders these questions while watching a devalued Egyptian pound and witnessing the hike in food prices.

 

Diving Currency Adds to Egypt's Woes: Matt Bradley, Wall Street Journal, Dec. 30, 2013—Egypt's currency plumbed new depths on Sunday as policy makers tried to reassure the public and investors that they can prevent a full-scale currency devaluation while still repairing Egypt's budget deficit. The country's worsening economic crisis comes after President Mohammed Morsi isolated his political opponents to push through Egypt's Islamist-leaning constitution, sparking weeks of riots, protests and political uncertainty.

 

Egyptian Cleric Threatens Egypt's Copts with Genocide: Raymond Ibrahim, Gatestone Institute, Dec. 28, 2012—Islamic leaders continue to portray the popular protests against President Morsi and his recently passed Sharia-heavy constitution as products of Egypt's Christians. 

 

 

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