Tag: Iraqi Jews

IN IRAQ—IRAN PLAYS KEY ROLE IN ANTI-I.S. BATTLE; MEANWHILE, IRAQI JEWS COMMEMORATE FARHUD

Trading One Islamic State for Another: Max Boot, Commentary, June 3, 2016— The Iraqi offensive to retake the city of Fallujah stalled this past week after meeting terrific resistance from Islamic State fighters…

The Next US Victory in Iraq May Just Mean Another Crisis: Judith Miller & Charles Duelfer, New York Post, May 15, 2016— President Obama could end his presidency with a crisis in Iraq of his own making.

The Difficult and Important Task of Commemorating the Destruction of Iraqi Jewry: Ben Cohen, JNS, June 3, 2016— Every Iraqi Jew has a tale to tell about the Farhud, the two-day pogrom that befell the Jews of Baghdad 75 years ago in June 1941.

Today is D-Day — You Knew That, Right?: Jerry Amernic, National Post, June 6, 2016— Monday, June 6 is the 72nd anniversary of D-Day. What’s that again?

 

On Topic Links

 

Our Iranian Allies: Lee Smith, Weekly Standard, June, 2016

The Militia Commander Beating Back ISIS in Iraq Makes the U.S. Nervous: Nour Malas, Wall Street Journal, June 2, 2016

Iraq's Uncertain Future: Amatzia Baram, Middle East Forum, May 23, 2016

Painful Lessons from the 75th Anniversary of the Farhud: Edwin Black, Jewish Press, June 1, 2016

 

 

TRADING ONE ISLAMIC STATE FOR ANOTHER                                                                

Max Boot                                                                                

Commentary, June 3, 2016

 

The Iraqi offensive to retake the city of Fallujah stalled this past week after meeting terrific resistance from Islamic State fighters and amid concerns about all the civilians, including 20,000 children, still trapped inside that city. But the push to take Fallujah will resume before long, and in all likelihood it will succeed, albeit at considerable human cost. The question is: Who will benefit? The Obama administration and the American military will tout this as a big victory for the United States, the government of Iraq, and the anti-ISIS cause. In fact, it will be more of a victory for Iran than for anyone else, because of the prominent role played by Iranian militias in this offensive.

 

This is a fact that American officials would prefer to deny or obfuscate. Look, for example, at what the State Department spokesman, retired Admiral John Kirby, said on June 1: “To the degree Iraq’s neighbors are going to play a role with helping Iraq fight Daesh, we want them – all of them – to do it in a way that doesn’t further inflame sectarian tensions or increase those tensions. But that – the inclusive approach that he’s taking, if it can be effective on the battlefield, well, then that’s a good thing and obviously we want to encourage that.” Only in the minds of American officials can the approach of Shiite militias be described as “inclusive.” …

 

ABC News had a telling investigation of what the militias were up to last year: These “dirty brigades” were “often photographed carrying U.S.-made Colt M4 rifles manufactured in Connecticut or driving Humvees made in Indiana while torturing victims or proudly displaying severed heads. The U.S. equipment ended up in their hands presumably courtesy of the Iraqi military.”

 

Today, the Wall Street Journal’s Nour Malas has an eye-opening article about the de facto commander of the Shiite militias, who goes by the nom de guerre Abu Mahdi al-Mohandes. (His real name is said to be Jamal Jaafar Ibrahimi.) Although born in Iraq, he is a longtime Iranian operative closely associated with the Quds Force and its commander, General Qasem Suleimani, who is probably the most powerful man in Iraq today. Mohandes may well be the second or third most powerful. Not only does he control the Popular Mobilization Forces, as the militias are known, but he also exerts tremendous influence over the more mainstream government security forces. “He signs off on things, gets cash, gets the cars,” the Journal quotes Moeen al-Khadhimi, a senior member of the Badr Organization, the largest faction in the PMF, as saying.

 

Before achieving his current position of prominence, Mohandes masterminded an Iranian-backed attack against the U.S. and French embassies in Kuwait in 1983 — a crime for which he has been sentenced to death in absentia by a Kuwaiti court. More recently, he was a prime mover behind the Iranian-backed Special Groups that imported a particularly potent type of explosives known as EFPs (explosively formed penetrators) that could punch through the armor of American vehicles. These EFPs took a heavy toll in American lives and limbs before the U.S. pullout in 2011.

 

Mohandes, the Journal noted, “has since appeared in photos at meetings with the prime minister and defense officials, his beige guerrilla wear contrasting with the others’ dark suits. He has been overseeing militia operations against Islamic State he says aim to eventually retake Mosul, the Sunni-majority militant stronghold. For the past week and a half, he has appeared in the Fallujah command center leading PMF operations around the city.” This, then, is the person that the United States is aiding by carrying out air strikes in Fallujah. The U.S. can comfort itself that Mohandes isn’t actively targeting American personnel — at the moment. But there is little doubt he will gladly do so in the future if it will serve Iranian interests.

 

At the moment, however, Iran and its militias are able to take advantage of the American intervention in Iraq to pursue their own interests. As Mohandes often likes to say:  “The Americans may have the skies, but we own the land.” He could go even further and admit that the American control of the skies is furthering the militias’ control of the land. That is a high, indeed unacceptable, price to pay for rolling back the Islamic State. The U.S. is, in effect, substituting one Islamic State — the one headquartered in Tehran — for another. That’s not a trade-off we should make or have to make.

 

 

Contents                                                                                                                                         

MAY JUST MEAN ANOTHER CRISIS                                                            

Judith Miller & Charles Duelfer                                                                                   

New York Post, May 15, 2016

 

President Obama could end his presidency with a crisis in Iraq of his own making. In April, the president said the conditions for liberating Mosul from the Islamic State should be in place by year’s end. But Sunni Iraqi tribal leaders and Kurds are quietly warning that “doing Mosul” is likely to result not in military victory but a humanitarian and political disaster.

 

First, Iraq’s second-largest city is home to 1 million to 2 million people. ISIS, which hasn’t hesitated to slaughter fellow Arabs and flatten cities, has had ample time to prepare to take hostages and booby-trap buildings. Consider the Iraqi government’s recent “victory” in Ramadi, with a population far smaller than Mosul. ISIS virtually flattened it before being ousted in January. ISIS is even more deeply embedded in Mosul, which it has occupied since June 2014. Its fanatics haven’t hesitated to use chemical weapons in Syria and against Kurdish peshmerga forces.

 

An offensive would spread panic among the city’s beleaguered residents, who would be trapped inside Mosul along with their occupiers. Baghdad’s plans to liberate the city include strangling ISIS by laying siege to Mosul in preparation for a full assault. If Ramadi is any example, liberation could turn Mosul into an uninhabitable ghost town.

 

Second, Mosul’s Sunnis still distrust Baghdad. Many fear Iraq’s semi-independent Shiite militias, some backed by Iran and encouraged by former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, pose a greater long-term threat to them than ISIS. Horrific images of Shiite militia-inflicted atrocities vie on Sunni smartphone screens with ISIS’s beheadings and corporal punishments. Every family has a relative whom the militias have brutalized and killed.

 

Third, even if the US-backed Iraqi forces succeed in expelling ISIS from Mosul, then what? Who will occupy and administer the city? After the US occupation of Baghdad in April 2003, American officials gave Sunnis little stake in the planning for and future of a post-Saddam Hussein era. Why should Mosul’s Sunnis believe that the chaotic central government in Baghdad has their interests at heart? Many Sunnis continue to view the 2007 “surge” as a “bait and switch” by Washington, at their expense.

 

Fourth, Iran seems determined to continue fomenting conflict within Iraq as long as possible. Qasem Soleimani, the head of the Iranian Quds Force who fought against Iraq during the Iran-Iraq war in 1980-1988, has greater control over some militias than the nominal political leadership in Baghdad. Few Sunnis in Mosul believe that Baghdad can protect them. Fifth, chaos in Mosul could trigger even greater chaos in Baghdad. Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi seems to be trying to limit corruption and run a more inclusive regime. But trying to reclaim Mosul before Sunnis derive benefit from his efforts is risky, and American officials have signaled deep concern about the Abadi government’s stability.

 

No strong Sunni voices in Mosul have expressed support for the invasion/liberation of their city by Iraqi forces. They know all too well America won’t be there to protect them. Many continue to see the growing influence of Iran and its surrogate militias as a longer-term threat to their survival than ISIS, particularly given the nuclear deal with Iran, yet another signal of America’s realignment in the Middle East.

 

Obama faces a tough choice, perhaps more consequential than his decision to launch the raid that killed Osama bin Laden. Should he try to encourage Iraqi forces to retake Mosul before leaving office to claim another victory over the radical jihadis he has vowed to “degrade and destroy,” or encourage Baghdad to wait until a more cohesive government is in place? While reclaiming Mosul would enable Obama to claim yet another “legacy” achievement, liberation of the city under current conditions is likely to result in more bloodshed, higher casualties, greater destruction and the creation of thousands more refugees in Iraq — a tragic, but utterly predictable coda to the Obama presidency.

                                                           

Contents                                                                                                                                                                          

THE DIFFICULT AND IMPORTANT TASK                                                            

OF COMMEMORATING THE DESTRUCTION OF IRAQI JEWRY                                                               

Ben Cohen                                                                                                                       

JNS, June 3, 2016

 

Every Iraqi Jew has a tale to tell about the Farhud, the two-day pogrom that befell the Jews of Baghdad 75 years ago in June 1941. In the case of my own family, it was a matter of heeding the advice of a Muslim business colleague of my grandfather, who told him that dark days were looming for the Jews, and that he would be wise to get his family out of the country as quickly as possible—which my grandfather did.

 

But my grandfather was part of a fortunate minority. When the Farhud—which means, in Arabic, “violent dispossession”—erupted, there were around 90,000 Jews still living in the Iraqi capital, the main component of a vibrant community descended from the sages who, 27 centuries earlier, had made the land once known as Babylon the intellectual and spiritual center of Judaism.

 

By the time the violent mob stood down, at the end of the festival of Shavuot, nearly 200 Jews lay dead, with hundreds more wounded, raped, and beaten. Hundreds of homes and businesses were burned to the ground. As the smoke cleared over a scene more familiar in countries like Russia, Poland, and Germany, the Jewish community came to the realization that it had no future in Iraq. Within a decade, almost the entire community had been chased out, joining a total of 850,000 Jews from elsewhere in the Arab world summarily dispossessed from their homes and livelihoods.

 

That the Farhud is even remembered today is in large part down to a handful of scholars and activists who have committed themselves to publicizing this terrible episode. During the week of the Farhud’s 75th anniversary, some of them—like the American writer Edwin Black and Lyn Julius, the British historian of Middle Eastern Jewry—have been organizing memorial ceremonies in the U.S., the U.K., and especially Israel, which absorbed the great majority of Iraqi-Jewish refugees. I myself was honored to address the memorial ceremony at New York City’s Safra Synagogue, where 27 candles—one for each century of the Jewish presence in Iraq—were lit and then promptly snuffed out, to symbolize the sudden extinction of Iraqi Jewry.

 

Commemorating the Farhud, and establishing its rightful place as an example of the persecution of the Jews during the Nazi era, has been a difficult task. For several decades after the Second World War, the importance of the Farhud was subsumed by the widely held notion that the Holocaust was something that consumed only European Jews. The truth was that the Nazis had both a direct presence and significant influence across the Arab world. So when, in 1941, the British had suffered a series of blows in southern Europe and North Africa, the time was right for a coup against the pro-British government in Baghdad. The strategic goal of the Nazis was to seize Iraq’s oil fields, thereby providing them with the fuel needed for the invasion of the Soviet Union.

 

In April, the month my grandfather and his family left Iraq, a local Nazi lackey, Rashid Ali al Ghailani, seized power, believing that an alliance with Hitler would create the conditions for Iraq’s national independence. Rashid Ali’s principal supporter was the pro-Nazi Mufti of Jerusalem, Hajj Amin al-Husseini, who arrived in Baghdad in 1939 having escaped British arrest. Until then, the mufti’s main role had involved inciting genocidal violence against the Jewish community in British Mandatory Palestine, which was especially pronounced during the Arab revolt of 1936-39. Once in Iraq, the mufti solidified his Nazi loyalties, meeting with Hitler in Berlin in November 1941 and later organizing Bosnian and Albanian Muslims into the “Handzar” division of the SS.

 

The Farhud itself should not be seen as a spontaneous outburst. For days before the violence, a steady stream of anti-Jewish propaganda was broadcast on the radio. Members of what Lyn Julius describes as a “proto-Nazi youth movement,” the Futuwwa, began daubing Jewish homes and businesses with red paint in the shape of a palm, in order to make the passage of the rioters easier.

 

Their actions were, in common with all pogromists in all locations, unspeakable. In his memoir of the Farhud, “In the Alleys of Baghdad,” Salim Fattal recalled the “murderers and rapists…who abused their victims to their heart’s content, with no let or hindrance. They slit throats, slashed off limbs, smashed skulls. They made no distinction between women, children, and old people. In that gory scene, blind hatred of Jews and the joy of murder for its own sake reinforced each other.” Babies and young children were thrown into the Tigris river, some of them butchered with swords only moments before.

 

Ironically, the Farhud occurred a few days after Rashid Ali himself fled Iraq, following a failed attack on a Royal Air Force base. As the violence escalated, British troops, who were just eight miles from the city, could have intervened. But as the historian Tony Rocca explained to the BBC, “Sir Kinahan Cornwallis, Britain’s ambassador in Baghdad, for reasons of his own, held our forces at bay in direct insubordination to express orders from Winston Churchill that they should take the city and secure its safety. Instead, Sir Kinahan went back to his residence, had a candlelight dinner, and played a game of bridge.”

 

Thus began the process of making Iraq, like much of Europe, judenrein. It was a process that soon enveloped the rest of the Arab world. Six months after the war’s end, anti-Semitic riots broke out in Libya and Egypt. Those Jews who remained in Iraq, around 140,000 of them, endured a raft of discriminatory legislation reminiscent of the Nuremburg Laws. These led, during the early 1950s, to their complete expropriation.

 

As terrible as it is to say this, part of the reason that the Farhud remains a relatively obscure event is because the expelled Iraqi Jews became victims of their own subsequent success, creating new lives in Israel, the U.S., Canada, and Europe. Unlike the Palestinian Arabs, they were not permanently stamped with the mark of the refugee, meaning that their pleas for justice have always been regarded as a historical question, rather than a pressing geopolitical concern.

 

At the New York ceremony for the Farhud anniversary, many of the speakers invoked the post-Holocaust slogan “Never Again!” As noble as that idea is, when it comes to the Arab world, it is also a simple statement of fact. There will be no more Farhuds in that region, because, outside of the sovereign State of Israel, there are hardly any Jews remaining in the area upon whom to re-inflict the bestialities witnessed in June 1941.

                                                                                                                                                                                   

Contents

 

                                         

TODAY IS D-DAY — YOU KNEW THAT, RIGHT?       

Jerry Amernic                                                                                                                      

National Post, June 6, 2016

 

Monday, June 6 is the 72nd anniversary of D-Day. What’s that again? Well, if you don’t know, it was the invasion by Allied forces of Nazi-occupied Europe on the beaches of Normandy. In France. Canada played a major role that day. Along with forces from the United States and Britain, 14,000 Canadians stormed Juno Beach and when the day was done those Canadians penetrated farther inland than any other Allied forces. But the price was high: 359 Canadians died and 715 were wounded. Another 18,700 Canadians were later killed or wounded in the Normandy campaign.

 

D-Day, in other words, was a turning point of the Second World War. But of course you know that, don’t you? Well, if you are a student in a Canadian high school, or a college or university, maybe not. Many years ago, I did a feature profile on Richard Rohmer, a military man who, back on June 6, 1944, was a young reconnaissance pilot. He witnessed the entire Normandy invasion from the air. I remember him telling me about it. I remember his eyes tearing up when he told me about another pilot who was shot down right in front of him.

 

Another time when I was a newspaper reporter, I did a story on this remarkable reunion that took place at a Toronto hotel. A group of Belgian citizens were holding what would be their last get-together with the Canadian soldiers who had liberated them from Nazi Germany. The love in that room was profound. More than 1,500 Canadian soldiers are buried in Belgium.

So what is it worth? To Canadians, apparently not much. History is now a low priority in our schools. In Ontario, you can take a history course for one semester in the first year of high school and never touch a history book again. I know from years of teaching college courses how aware most students are when it comes to history.

 

When my agent was shopping around my novel, The Last Witness, which is about the last living survivor of the Holocaust in a near-future world that doesn’t know history, one publisher turned it down because they didn’t buy the premise that people would know so little in one generation. So I made a video. We interviewed university students in Toronto and asked them questions about the Second World War. Most had no idea who the Allies were. They couldn’t identify Franklin D. Roosevelt or Winston Churchill. They didn’t know how many were killed in the Holocaust. They told me D-Day happened on Feb. 14. That it took place in London. That it was some battle we lost. Or — the more common response — they had no idea what it was all about.

The video was shot three days before Remembrance Day. What would a Canadian veteran who stormed Juno Beach on June 6, 1944 — he would be about 90 now — think when he hears that university students in this country know next to nothing about D-Day and this country’s monumental efforts on that day and in that war?

 

The problem is not unique to Canada. In the United States, the United Kingdom and other countries, the level of knowledge among the young is also feeble. I can cite all kinds of surveys and polls that would make your hair stand on end. But why not find out for yourself? On Monday venture onto a university or college campus and ask students about D-Day. You might be in for a surprise.                    

 

Contents           

On Topic Links

 

The Militia Commander Beating Back ISIS in Iraq Makes the U.S. Nervous: Nour Malas, Wall Street Journal, June 2, 2016 —Behind the rise of a paramilitary force in Iraq credited with saving the country from Islamic State is an Iran-trained jihadist the U.S. wants far from the battlefield.

Our Iranian Allies: Lee Smith, Weekly Standard, June, 2016—Last week pictures of Qassem Suleimani started to circulate on social media, which is always a pretty sure sign that an Iranian military campaign is about to kick off somewhere in the Middle East.

Iraq's Uncertain Future: Amatzia Baram, Middle East Forum, May 23, 2016—The bloodless storming of Baghdad's parliament by followers of the prominent Shiite cleric Muqtada Sadr on April 30th challenged Prime Minister Haider Abadi's authority and exposed the fragility of his regime.

Painful Lessons from the 75th Anniversary of the Farhud: Edwin Black, Jewish Press, June 1, 2016—June 1-2 is the 75th anniversary of the Farhud, the 1941 pogrom by pro-Nazi Arabs attempting to exterminate the Jews of Baghdad. Hundreds were murdered and raped, and many Jewish homes and business looted and burned during a two-day orgy of hate and violence orchestrated by the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini.

 

 

                  

 

 

 

AMID SEETHING IRAQI SECTARIANISM—KURDS EYE INDEPENDENCE, TRUMP HAS “SADDAM NOSTALGIA”, & EZRA’S TOMB MARKS JEWISH HISTORY

 

 

 

ISIS Attack on Funeral Risks Reigniting Sunni-Shi'ite Bloodbath: Arutz Sheva, Feb. 29, 2016— A suicide bomber struck a Shi'ite funeral northeast of Baghdad Monday, killing at least 24 people, including militia commanders, in an attack claimed by the Islamic State (ISIS) group, officials said.

2016: The Year Kurdistan Finally Breaks from Iraq?: Seth J. Frantzman, National Interest, Feb. 26, 2016— In early February the president of the Kurdistan Regional Government, the autonomous Kurdish region in northern Iraq, called for a referendum on Kurdish independence.

Trump’s Saddam Nostalgia: A.J. Caschetta, Daily Caller, Feb. 29, 2016 — Remember when Sean Penn went to Iraq in December of 2002 in a bizarre attempt to meet with Saddam Hussein and prevent the inevitable U.S.-led invasion?

Jewish Shrine Reminds Iraqis of Religious Coexistence: Adnan Abu Zeed, Al-Monitor, Feb. 14, 2016— Jews reportedly built the tomb of the Prophet Ezra in Iraq in the fifth century, and the site has undergone many changes since.

 

On Topic Links

 

Iraq’s Biggest Dam Could Collapse at Any Time, Killing Thousands: New York Times, Mar. 1, 2016

U.S. Special Operations Forces Capture Islamic State Operative in Iraq: Gordon Lubold, Wall Street Journal, Mar. 2, 2016

Iraqi PM's Plan to Include Shiite Militias in Mosul Offensive Underscores Iranian Influence: John Rossomando, IPT, Feb. 22, 2016

Amid Iraqi Chaos, Moktada al-Sadr, an Old Provocateur, Returns: Tim Arango, New York Times, Feb. 26, 2016

         

 

 

 

        ISIS ATTACK ON FUNERAL RISKS REIGNITING SUNNI-SHI'ITE BLOODBATH

Arutz Sheva, Feb. 29, 2016

 

A suicide bomber struck a Shi'ite funeral northeast of Baghdad Monday, killing at least 24 people, including militia commanders, in an attack claimed by the Islamic State (ISIS) group, officials said. The blast in Muqdadiyah, which also wounded dozens of people, threatens to spark another round of revenge attacks against Sunni Muslims in the area, like those carried out after bombings in January.

 

The latest attack targeted a funeral for a well-known Shi'ite member of the Beni Tamim, one of the main tribes in Diyala province, where Muqdadiyah is located. Sadiq al-Husseini, the head of the Diyala province security committee, said that a commander from Asaib Ahl al-Haq and another from Badr – two powerful Shi'ite militias – were killed in the blast.

 

Officials in the province appealed for calm in the aftermath of the attack. Muqdadiyah residents should "join hands to get out of the current crisis," said Ali al-Tamimi, the head of the Muqdadiyah district council. And Diyala Governor Muthanna al-Tamimi said that: "Muqdadiyah will not fall into the trap of sectarian strife promoted by some politicians."

 

The Islamic State jihadist group claimed the attack in an online statement, saying a suicide bomber who detonated an explosive belt targeted a gathering of militiamen in Muqdadiyah. It listed the names of some who were allegedly killed.

 

Suicide bombings are a tactic almost exclusively employed in Iraq by ISIS, a Sunni extremist group that overran swathes of the country in 2014. The Muqdadiyah attack came a day after bombings in a Shi'ite area of northern Baghdad killed at least 39 people and wounded at least 76, the deadliest attacks in the capital so far this year.

 

ISIS said in an online statement that two of its suicide bombers carried out the Baghdad attacks. ISIS also claimed an attack at a cafe in Muqdadiyah that killed at least 20 people and wounded dozens in January, after which revenge attacks targeted Sunni properties in the area. Human Rights Watch said Shi'ite militiamen abducted and killed civilians in the Muqdadiyah area after the attack, in addition to burning homes and mosques.

 

Amnesty International also said that militiamen destroyed Sunni mosques, shops and homes following the January attack, and that authorities subsequently "turned a blind eye to this shocking rampage." The death of militia leaders in the Monday bombing increases the odds of another round of revenge attacks in the area.

 

Iraq turned to Shi'ite militia forces in 2014 to help counter an ISIS onslaught that overran large areas north and west of Baghdad, and they have played a key role in halting the jihadist advance and later pushing them back. But they have also carried out repeated abuses during the conflict that ultimately feed mistrust of the government and are harmful to Baghdad's efforts to reassert and maintain control in recaptured areas. Diyala province was declared "liberated" from ISIS in late January 2015, but ending their open control of populated areas has not brought an end to attacks by the jihadists.

                                   

 

Contents

2016: THE YEAR KURDISTAN FINALLY BREAKS FROM IRAQ?

Seth J. Frantzman

National Interest, Feb. 26, 2016

 

In early February the president of the Kurdistan Regional Government, the autonomous Kurdish region in northern Iraq, called for a referendum on Kurdish independence. “The time has come and the conditions are now suitable for the people to make a decision through a referendum on their future,” wrote Masoud Barzani. He cautioned people that it did would not entail the “immediate declaration of statehood” but rather judging the will of the “people of Kurdistan” and to create the political landscape to “implement this will at the appropriate time and circumstances.”

 

On February 13, the German foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier took to Twitter to express “serious concern” about plans for a referendum, after reportedly meeting Barzani at the Munich Security Conference. Serious concern would be diplomatic speak for “no.” Critics abroad see the independence referendum as a mix of political strategy and long time policy. Ibrahim al-Marashi, a California-based history professor, wrote at Al Jazeera, “Not only does a call for independence appeal to Kurdish constituents, it serves as a tool to empower the KRG vis-a-vis the central government in Baghdad.” Some have suggested that the referendum is merely cover for the Kurdistan Democratic Party to renew its electoral mandate. Elections scheduled for 2013 and 2015 have been postponed to 2017, an issue that ruffles feathers among the smaller parties in Kurdistan. Currently the KRG is governed by the KDP, the largest party, and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK).

 

If a referendum was merely a cynical ploy, then why is the KRG’s own government being so hesitant about it? Perhaps because this has happened once before. The last time Kurdistan had a referendum for independence was in 2005, when 1.9 million Kurds voted in Iraqi national and KRG regional elections. 98 percent of those casting ballots said yes to independence. In 2014, Barzani told the BBC he wanted to hold a referendum. The Kurdish parliament was supposed to set a date for the decision. Then Kurdistan was attacked by Islamic State on August 3, 2014.

 

The war against ISIS has illustrated Kurdistan’s de facto independence better than any referendum could. Cut off from Baghdad, the region functioned independently. It had to control its own economy and develop its own oil resources. Its budget was cut from Baghdad as well due to the war, and the KRG was plunged into financial crises, having to support two hundred thousand Kurdish peshmerga fighters on the frontline against ISIS. Iraq’s Baghdad government condemns any attempt by the KRG to secede. “Any unilateral position from any party without coordination or approval will be against the constitution and illegal,” Saad al-Hadithi, a spokesman for Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, told the press in late January.

 

The KRG has cited referendums in Catalonia, Quebec and Scotland as precedents. But in each of those cases, the national-level democracy accepted the regional referendum and did not actively oppose it, or try to prevent it by force. Neither did foreign governments express opposition to the concept of Scottish independence, or Quebecois independence, for instance. Perhaps a more interesting precedent would be that of Kosovo. In 1991, more than one million Kosovars voted in a referendum for independence from Yugoslavia. Although Serbs boycotted the vote, 99 percent of voters supported independence. After Kosovo had declared independence in 2008, ten years after a U.S.-backed intervention to push Serbian forces from the province, Kosovo Serbs voted in 2012 against accepting Kosovo administration. Unsurprisingly, more than 99 percent of the twenty-six thousand who voted refused to accept Kosovo.

 

In these instances, the referendums took place against the central government’s wishes. There are many other examples of such referendums, such as the one held in Somaliland in 2001, affirming independence from Somalia. While 112 countries recognize Kosovo, it is notable that many do not, despite the support it has received from the U.S., the EU and the international community. Countries that try to go it alone, such as Somaliland, do not face a bright future. Even countries that have won independence through a referendum, such as South Sudan, have found themselves plagued by internal conflict. The Crimea referendum, in which 96 percent were said to have voted to join Russia, was widely seen as discredited by the fact that the Russian army had occupied the peninsula.

 

This leaves Kurdistan in an unenviable position. Sero Qadir of the Institute for Research and Development in Kurdistan argues that the referendum is a way to show the public’s approval for independence, but he stresses that with or without the referendum, Kurdistan has a right to independence. “In my view the referendum is connected with independence and I believe we could have independence anyway without the referendum,” Qadir explained. “When Barzani speaks about it,” he said, it “is because he wants to bring together the political parties and collect them in one idea. . .” Qadir added that in such an event Barzani would have a stronger hand in dealing with Iraq and the international community. He expects to see independence in 2016: “There are three who support it formally: Israel, Saudi, France. But some smaller countries, we estimate around 40 others, support our independence.”

 

Dr. Kemal Kirkuki, a former speaker of the KRG parliament, member of the KDP politburo and a peshmerga commander near Kirkuk, wrote in a response to a query about independence that the “self-determination is a natural right” of all nations. “Self-determination is a right that the International Law, the UN charters and covenants, and Human right laws all agree on—it is an international legitimate legal right for people.” He asserts that any independence would not violate the Iraqi constitution, an issue raised by Baghdad, because the constitution states the various components of the country have taken it upon themselves to “decide to unite by choice.” They can therefore separate by choice.

 

He also asks why the international community has watched Kurdistan defend the world against ISIS but does not demand that Kurdistan receive its full budget from Baghdad. “The international community should be also willing to recognize our natural and legal right to practice self-determination, and conduct our referendum…”

 

Qadir argues that as time goes on, the KRG’s independence goals will be eroded and undermined by Iran, and by the region’s Sunni-Shia sectarianism. “If we stay in Iraq we lose what we have, we will be a small government in Iraq which has ethnic-sectarian war and we will end up as [a] slave of Iran.” There is a sense that Iran works behind the scenes to encourage other parties in the KRG, such as the Goran (Change) movement, to oppose independence. Publicly, these other parties claim to support independence, but have not spoken out about the need for a referendum with the gusto of the KDP. Contending with pressure from within as well as outside Kurdistan’s borders, Barzani will surely face no end of challenges between today and the referendum.

 

Contents

TRUMP’S SADDAM NOSTALGIA

              A.J. Caschetta                                          

     Daily Caller, Feb. 29, 2016

 

Remember when Sean Penn went to Iraq in December of 2002 in a bizarre attempt to meet with Saddam Hussein and prevent the inevitable U.S.-led invasion?  Upon returning home, the activist/actor told Americans they were being lied to and that Iraq was “a happy place. They had flowery meadows and rainbow skies, and rivers made of chocolate, where the children danced and laughed and played with gumdrop smiles.”

 

Actually that line comes from the parody of Sean Penn in “Team America: World Police” (2004). But Penn’s actual performance in his greatest role as Saddam’s “useful idiot” (the phrase is Lenin’s) may be his most enduring work. The assertion that the world would be better off if Saddam Hussein still ruled Iraq never went away entirely. But it reemerged with new relevance after Donald Trump lit into Jeb Bush in the February 13th Republican primary debate with accusations from the Code Pink playbook: President Bush knew there were no WMDs in Iraq and lied about it.

 

After the debate, Trump offered more to CNN: “Iraq used to be no terrorists. He (Hussein) would kill the terrorists immediately, which is like now it’s the Harvard of terrorism…If you look at Iraq from years ago, I’m not saying he was a nice guy, he was a horrible guy, but it was a lot better than it is right now. Right now, Iraq is a training ground for terrorists.” This selective and nostalgic look back at Saddam’s Iraq is a muddy and sentimental vision, almost a form of amnesia in its failure to recall the threats Saddam posed. And it is entirely dependent on faulty logic.

 

The “hypothesis contrary to fact” fallacy occurs when an argument is made expressing with certainty how a situation would be different were the facts of history different (Trump’s claim that the world would be “100 percent better” with Saddam). This sophistry assumes a priori only the best possible outcomes and ignores all others in a single-minded drive to prove a point.

 

Saddam nostalgia assumes that if 2003 went differently Saddam would have stopped invading his neighbors, trying to assassinate U.S. presidents, cheating on the UN inspections imposed by the surrender terms of 1991, and massacring Shiites and Kurds (America’s one true ally in Iraq). Saddam murdered Kurds with special aplomb, as the 1988 chemical attack on the village of Halabja demonstrates.

 

But it ignores the possibility of a worse regime run by Saddam’s heirs: Qusay, the efficient bureaucrat and Uday, the monster who brought the term “rape room” to the American lexicon. It also ignores Saddam’s funding of Palestinian and international terrorism. One can doubt the Czech Republic’s claim that Mohammad Atta met in Prague with an Iraqi intelligence agent, but no one can refute the existence of Salmon Pak, Saddam’s premier terrorism training center 15 miles south of Baghdad.

 

Those who deny Saddam’s WMD threat often cite the final report of the Iraqi Survey Group (ISG), but James Lacey showed a decade ago that doing so requires focusing selectively on the report’s assertion that no new stockpiles of WMDs were found while ignoring the assertion that Saddam “was preparing to rapidly reconstitute his WMD program the moment he broke out of sanctions.”

 

The ISG report itself shows symptoms of Saddam nostalgia, for its assertion that the various nerve and mustard agents found in Iraq post-2003 did not constitute “a secret cache of weapons of mass destruction” overlooks the fact that Saddam successfully hid these prohibited weapons from UN inspectors throughout the post-Gulf War era. Strangely, the absent-WMD narrative endures even after C.J. Chivers’ detailed October 14, 2014 expose in The New York Times proved what many Iraq War vets know – there were many chemical weapons found in Iraq – the only dispute is over the vintage of those weapons. And what of the 55,000 metric tons of yellowcake uranium (for which there is only one known use) quietly taken out of Iraq in the summer of 2008?

 

Finally, Saddam nostalgia ignores the debate over a massive transfer of something from Iraq to Syria that took place days prior to the 2003 invasion. The head of the National Imagery and Mapping Agency stated in 2003 that “satellite imagery showing a heavy flow of traffic from Iraq into Syria, just before the U.S. invasion in March, led him to believe that illicit weapons material ‘unquestionably’ had been moved out of Iraq.” That official was James Clapper, Obama’s Director of National Intelligence.

 

The Bush administration might be faulted for a number of policies concerning Iraq, but the argument that things would be better if Saddam were still around is preposterous. Saddam nostalgia says that Bush was lying when he said “we’re leaving behind a sovereign, stable and self-reliant Iraq.” Actually that line comes from an Obama speech, just over four years ago.                  

 

 

Contents

          JEWISH SHRINE REMINDS IRAQIS OF RELIGIOUS COEXISTENCE

  Adnan Abu Zeed                   

                                        Al-Monitor, Feb. 14, 2016

 

Jews reportedly built the tomb of the Prophet Ezra in Iraq in the fifth century, and the site has undergone many changes since. Although the tomb of Jewish Prophet Ezra was turned into an Islamic landmark over the years following the Jewish exodus in the 1950s, clerics there say they are preserving the Jewish character of the shrine. The tomb is in the town of Uzair, which is the Arabic version of the name Ezra, and the shrine has taken on many Islamic aspects. The shrine contains Hebrew scriptures and Jewish symbols, and Quranic verses and Islamic inscriptions. It was turned into an Islamic landmark following the mass exodus of the Jews of Iraq to Israel in the 1950s.

 

Iraqi journalist and author Abdulhadi Mhoder found in this area a symbolic harmony between Islam and Judaism. He told Al-Monitor that this harmony “reflects religious tolerance and confessional coexistence in Iraq." He said, “This harmony can also be seen in the tomb of Jewish Prophet Dhul-Kifl [Ezekiel] in Babil, which Muslims still visit.”

 

An Iraqi Jew who lives in the Iraqi Kurdistan Region stirred controversy a year ago when he told Al-Araby al-Jadeed newspaper that “the Shiite endowment’s takeover of the Prophet Ezra’s Tomb and a Jewish shrine beside it is a Muslim persecution of Jews.” Al-Monitor asked cleric Ali al-Mhamadawi, one of the supervisors of Ezra’s tomb, about the issue. He denied the statement of the Jewish man, who had spoken to the newspaper on condition of anonymity.

 

“Muslims are the ones who took care of the place and rebuilt it after it was deserted following the Jewish exodus from the city,” Mhamadawi said. “These accusations are refuted by the fact that Islam considers Ezra a holy prophet, as he was mentioned in the Quran. That is why religious rituals are held in his shrine.” He added, “Jews can visit the shrine; they are always welcome.”

Al-Monitor asked Mhamadawi about stories in the media claiming that the Muslims overseeing the place had deliberately removed all Jewish symbols and replaced them with Islamic verses. Mhamadawi did not answer the question. Instead, he pointed out Jewish symbols and Hebrew writing on the walls of the hall and on a hanging plate. He said, “If we wanted to erase them completely, nobody could have stopped us. But we respect other religions.” He admitted that “some Jewish [symbols], including the Star of David, were removed in the 1980s unintentionally during maintenance operations that the Ministry of Awqaf [Ministry of Endowments and Religious Affairs] conducted during Saddam Hussein’s era.”

 

There was no trace of Ezra’s story in the shrine. Instead, Islamic books, written prayers and photos of Shiite figures filled the place. Ezra lived from about 480 to 440 B.C. Some Muslim Iraqis still have good memories about the Jews who lived in Iraq until the 1950s. The ancient conflict was replaced during that time with peace and cooperation. Ali al-Saadi, a teacher who was born in Uzair and is interested in its history, told Al-Monitor that the senior citizens of the city still remember the names of dozens of their Jewish neighbors. He confirmed that Jews and Muslims lived together in peace and that Jews freely practiced their religious rituals.

 

Jews lived in Iraq more than 2,500 years ago in Babil, Baghdad and Mosul, among other places. But in the 1940s and 1950s, they were the victims of theft and murder, and they left the country for two reasons. First, they thought that the 1941 Iraqi coup d’etat happened in collusion with the Nazis. Second, Iraqi Jews faced a wave of anger in the wake of the global Jewish emigration to Palestine to build a Jewish state. Most of them were displaced between 1949 and 1950 after Israel was established. Saadi said, “Jews owned houses and green fields that surrounded the shrine. These are still officially registered in their names in the real estate departments, although Jews are no longer present in Uzair. These houses have a special architecture characterized by wooden ornamented columns and oriels [bay windows].”

 

The shrine of Ezra has withstood centuries in an area inhabited by a deeply religious Shiite majority, unlike a nearby school that was once a synagogue. "Its landmarks have been completely altered," Saadi said. "It included an underground vault that was demolished in the 1980s during maintenance operations conducted by the Ministry of Awqaf.” At the shrine, there are some eroded Jewish inscriptions exposed to neglect and unfavorable weather conditions. These inscriptions are endangered unless they are given appropriate care. At the top of the main entrance is an ancient corroded silver plate inscribed with Hebrew words.

 

Islamic symbols completely dominate the place. Umm Hassan, who was visiting, did not know about its Jewish history. But she was certain that it is linked to numerous healing miracles, and many Muslims here share this faith. Al-Monitor talked to author and researcher Ali Hasan al-Fawwaz about the shrine. He said, “People visit the place because of their attachment to religious sanctities. Even if Prophet Ezra was a Jew, he is part of the collective conscience of the followers of monotheistic religions such as Islam and Judaism, which honor the savior.”…                   

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

 

On Topic

 

Iraq’s Biggest Dam Could Collapse at Any Time, Killing Thousands: New York Times, Mar. 1, 2016—American officials in Baghdad are warning that a critical dam in northern Iraq may collapse, and that more than a million people could be drowned or left homeless if it gives way.

U.S. Special Operations Forces Capture Islamic State Operative in Iraq: Gordon Lubold, Wall Street Journal, Mar. 2, 2016—The U.S. military has detained an Islamic State operative after a recent raid in Iraq, U.S. officials said, in an instance of the new U.S. emphasis on ground operations meant to capture extremists and obtain intelligence, instead of killing them from the air.

Iraqi PM's Plan to Include Shiite Militias in Mosul Offensive Underscores Iranian Influence: John Rossomando, IPT, Feb. 22, 2016—Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi plans to include the Iranian-backed Al-Hashd Al-Shaabi militias, many of which are trained or controlled by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), in any planned offensive to retake Mosul.

Amid Iraqi Chaos, Moktada al-Sadr, an Old Provocateur, Returns: Tim Arango, New York Times, Feb. 26, 2016—They came from the slums of this city’s underclass, the alleyways and the simple halls of the seminary in the Shiite holy city of Najaf, and the outer reaches of the rural south.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                        

 

 

 

                  

 

 

 

AS WE REMEMBER JEWISH WWII CONTRIBUTION, & BAGHDAD’S JEWS, BIBI LOBBIES U.S. TO PREVENT ANOTHER HOLOCAUST

We welcome your comments to this and any other CIJR publication.

 

Netanyahu Emulates Churchill in Trying to Influence US Policy to Protect His People: Alan M. Dershowitz, Gatestone Institute, Aug. 12, 2015— Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is acting properly in lobbying against the Iran deal.

Germans Are Using Holocaust Street Memorials to Bash Israel: Benjamin Weinthal, Jerusalem Post, Aug. 11, 2015 — There is an increasing tendency among Germans devoted to commemorating the Holocaust to turn Jewish victims into a whipping boy to criticize Israelis and advance the Palestinian cause.

A Look Back at the Brave Stories of Jewish Canadian Second World War Veterans: Breaking Israel News, Aug. 11, 2015 — For soldiers in Canada’s army in the Second World War, Sundays meant church parades.

The Expulsion of Baghdad’s Jews and the Unraveling of the Middle East: Jonathan Spyer, Jerusalem Post, Aug. 2, 2015— A few hours in the Shorja open market in Baghdad can teach you a lot – about the Middle East’s past, its present and its apparent future. What’s to be found there is informative. What is absent – equally so.

 

On Topic Links

 

The Agreement: Dry Bones Blog, July 16, 2015

The Forward's Dispatch From Iran: Michael J. Totten, World Affairs, Aug. 12, 2015

Africa’s Scramble for Europe: Ross Douthat, New York Times, Aug. 8, 2015

From Kaifeng to the Kotel: Chinese Jews in Jerusalem: Michael Freund, Breaking Israel News, Aug. 12, 2015

Humanitarian Tragedy: Iran's Beleaguered Jewish Community: Dr. Majid Rafizadeh, Frontpage, Sept. 2, 2013

                            

                   

NETANYAHU EMULATES CHURCHILL IN TRYING TO                                    

INFLUENCE US POLICY TO PROTECT HIS PEOPLE                                                                              

Alan M. Dershowitz

Gatestone Institute, Aug. 12, 2015

 

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is acting properly in lobbying against the Iran deal. And President Obama is acting improperly in accusing him of interfering in American foreign policy and suggesting that no other foreign leader has ever tried to do so: "I do not recall a similar example."

 

President Obama is as wrong about American history as he is about policy. Many foreign leaders have tried to influence US foreign policy when their national interests are involved. Lafayette tried to get the United States involved in the French Revolution, as the early colonists sought support from France in their own revolution. Winston Churchill appeared in front of Congress and lobbied heavily to have America change its isolationist policy during the run up to the Second World War. Nor can President Obama claim ignorance about recent events, when he himself sent David Cameron, the prime minister of the United Kingdom, to lobby Congress in favor of the Iran deal. Recently, Shinzo Abe, the prime minister of Japan, lobbied us with regard to the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

 

Prime Minister Netanyahu's nation has a far greater stake in the Iran deal than most of the countries that negotiated it. But Israel was excluded from the negotiations. Any leader of Israel would and should try to exercise whatever influence he might have in the ongoing debate over the deal. There can be no question that Israel is the primary intended target of Iran's quest for a nuclear arsenal. Recall that Hashemi Rafsanjani, the former president of Iran, has described Israel as a one-bomb state that could be destroyed instantaneously, and that even if Israel retaliated, it would not destroy Iran or Islam. No similar threats have been made against Great Britain, France, Germany, Russia or China. Although the United States is still regarded by Iran as the "Great Satan", the U.S. has less to fear from an Iranian nuclear arsenal than does Israel.

 

Does President Obama really believe that Israeli leaders are required to remain silent and simply accept the consequences of a deal that puts its population at risk? As Prime Minister Netanyahu has repeatedly said, Israel is not Czechoslovakia. In 1938, Czechoslovakia too was excluded from the negotiations that led to its dismemberment, but it had no ability to influence the policies of the negotiating nations. Nor did it have the ability to defend itself militarily, as Israel does. The United States would surely not accept a deal negotiated by other nations that put its citizens at risk. No American leader would remain silent in the face of such a deal. Israel has every right to express its concern about a deal that has crossed not only its own red lines, but the red lines originally proposed by President Obama.

 

President Obama's attack on Prime Minister Netanyahu, for doing exactly what he would be doing if the shoe were on the other foot, has encouraged Israel-bashers to accuse opponents of the deal of dual loyalty. Nothing could be further from the truth. I and the deal's other opponents are as loyal to our country as is President Obama and the supporters of the deal. I am a liberal Democrat who opposed the invasion of Iraq and who twice supported President Obama when he ran for president. Many of the deal's strongest opponents also cannot be accused of being warmongers, because we believe that the deal actually increases the likelihood of war.

 

The President should stop attacking both the domestic and international critics of the deal and engage us on the merits. That is why I have issued a challenge to the Obama Administration to debate its critics on national television. This is a wonderful occasion for Lincoln-Douglas type debates over this important foreign policy issue. At this point in time, the majority of Americans are against the deal, as are the majority of both Houses of Congress. The President has the burden of changing the public's mind. This is, after all, a democracy. And the President should not be empowered to impose his will on the American public based on one-third plus one of one house of Congress, when a majority of Americans have expressed opposition. So let the name-calling stop and let the debates begin.

 

                                                                       

Contents                                                                                      

   

GERMANS ARE USING HOLOCAUST STREET MEMORIALS TO BASH ISRAEL                                         

Benjamin Weinthal                                                                                                                    

Jerusalem Post, Aug. 11, 2015

 

There is an increasing tendency among Germans devoted to commemorating the Holocaust to turn Jewish victims into a whipping boy to criticize Israelis and advance the Palestinian cause. The ongoing debate in Munich over whether the Bavarian capital should allow “Stolpersteine” (brass plaques which name the Holocaust victims) to be embedded into sidewalks and street is a salient example of this. In late July, the Munich city council voted to ban the so-called “stumbling block” memorials. Charlotte Knobloch, the former president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany and current head of the Munich Jewish community, has long opposed the Stolpersteine and has called it an insult to the victims. Knobloch, a Holocaust survivor, said it is “intolerable” for passers-by to step on the names of Jews that were murdered in the tragedy.

 

There are six “stumbling blocks” outside the residence of this reporter in Berlin. One of them reads: “Hans Simson. Date of birth: 1913. Deported on 28.6. 1943. Murdered in Auschwitz.” The left-wing weekly Jungle World, widely considered to a be a pro-Israel weekly, reported in a commentary by Dora Streibl that a co-founder of the “stumbling blocks” memorial in the city of Kassel, Ulrich Restat, declared at an anti-Semitic demonstration in 2014 that “death is a master today from Israel” and that he wished that there would be “stumbling blocks” for the murdered Palestinians. The commentary also noted the anti-Zionist sentiments of the co-founders of the Munich “Stolpersteine” initiative.

 

Retast’s reference was an allusion to the famous Holocaust poem from the Jewish poet Paul Celan, a German-speaking Holocaust survivor, who wrote about the Hitler movement: “Death is a master from Germany” In her commentary, Streibl criticized Restat and others who use the Stolpersteine as a form of alleviating their pathological guilt about the crimes of the Holocaust by turning modern day Jews into perpetrators. She added that: “the Stolpersteine appear as a comfortable, discreet form of remembrance: One did something.”

 

Others have argued that German Holocaust memorials, including the main memorial in Berlin’s central government district, are not about preserving the memory of Jewish victims, but rather about making Germans feel good. Former German chancellor Gerhard Schröder’s statement in 1998 captures the emptiness of this ritualization process. He said that the Holocaust memorial should be a place “where people like to go.” Like other Holocaust memorials, the Stolpersteine project also functions, one can argue, as a kind of phony resistance to Germany’s Nazi past. The German writer Johannes Gross depicted Germany’s relationship to its Nazi history accurately when he wrote that “The resistance to Hitler and his kind is getting stronger the more the Third Reich recedes into the past.”

 

There are no memorials in Germany for Palestinian, Hezbollah, and Iranian lethal anti-Semitism committed against Jews and Israelis. When an attempt was made years ago to show Israeli victims in train stations there was an uproar and the plan was quashed. The German artist who started the “Stolpersteine” project is Gunter Demnig. According to Reuters, ”there are 45,000 Stolpersteine in Germany and 16 other European countries. Berlin alone has 5,500 of them.” The preoccupation with memorializing dead European Jews in Germany has taken bizarre new directions. A fitting update to the famous sarcastic line from Israeli psychoanalyst Zvi Rex could be that “The Germans will never forgive the Israelis for Auschwitz.”           

                                                                  

Contents                                                                                      

                                          

A LOOK BACK AT THE BRAVE STORIES OF JEWISH                                         

CANADIAN SECOND WORLD WAR VETERANS                                                                   

Breaking Israel News, Aug. 11, 2015

 

For soldiers in Canada’s army in the Second World War, Sundays meant church parades. Catholics assembled on one side, Protestants on the other and everyone else, mainly Jews, stayed in the middle. The Christians went to their respective churches and the Jews were free for a few hours. One Jewish soldier recalls standing alone in the middle with another five of his compatriots. The next week, though, he says, almost everyone decided to be “Jewish.”

 

But being Jewish in the Canadian Armed Forces during the Second World War was nothing at all like standing on the sideline and watching. These proud men and women served with the greatest of honor, determination, and pride. They served on land, in sea, and in the air to protect their nation and their country.

 

On May 9, 2015, 70 years have passed since Europe’s liberation. These veterans, most of whom are no longer alive, are on the verge of being all but forgotten. A rare memorial in a downtown city and a cenotaph that stands tall in a Jewish cemetery will be little cared about when all the veterans have passed on, the memories of the war are forgotten and the lessons of the war are no longer taught. It is up to us to help them make an impression on the history books…

 

Citizens of Canada, with the memories of the Great War fresh in their minds, knew that the principles of democracy and justice demanded their service. Out of a population of more than 11 million Canadians during the war, about 1.1 million Canadians served in the forces. Canadians were in almost every major theater of war, making a huge contribution to the invasion of Italy, and liberating the Netherlands.

 

Jewish Canadians did more than their part to help. Despite clear manifestations of anti-Semitism at the time, the Jewish community rallied to the cause. From a population of just more than 167,000 Jews in Canada, close to 17,000 of them – men and women – served in the armed forces. Another 2,000-3,000 are estimated to have served without listing their religion for fear of capture by the Nazis. In total, 196 soldiers were decorated and 420 were killed during the war, as well as many others who later died from their wounds, both physically and mentally. Canadian Jews served as one of the highest per capita contributions of any ethnic or religious group in Canada in the war.

 

Prior to the Second World War, Canada was not the loving, tolerant country that it is today. Just months after Hitler’s rise to power, Canada experienced a taste of anti-Semitism at the Christie Pits riot. But these Canadian Jews didn’t lie down and accept their beating. They fought back. A virtue that they kept all throughout the decade and into the war, with many even making great contributions in Israel’s War of Independence.

 

Jews in the army quickly became one with the other soldiers in their regiments despite the anti-Semitism in the air. But for others, it usually took one incident to set the record straight. Simon Goldenthal, who served with fellow members of the faith Ben Dunkelman and Barney Danson in the Queen’s Own Rifles reigment, remembered in the beginning of his service being called derogatory names. but that didn’t last too long. “One day I was cleaning my rifle and I put a bullet right next to his head. That put a stop to it.”

 

When soldiers, Jews and Gentiles alike, though, were fighting for their lives, religion never got in the way. Harry Smith, an armorer posted at an RCAF station in Bagotville, Quebec, recalled that his fellow soldiers were like brothers to him even in the safety of Canada. And just like a family, the air force had unwritten rules in addition to its written ones.

 

“There was a rule in the air force: never talk religion or politics because you’d end up having an argument.”

Smith came from small-town Welland, Ontario. He carpooled with non-Jews, went to camp with them and his mother never turned down a hungry soul that needed a little bit to eat even during the Depression. But the reason Smith got along so well with everybody was about more than just his character. These were a determined bunch of soldiers concentrating on just one thing. “The truth was everybody was out to win the war.”

 

While Smith fought from the home front, other Canadian Jews fought in the key battles of the war. These veterans know it is because of their efforts that democracy was saved,but those proud moments weren’t always at the forefront of their war memories. The physical pain, the soldiers said, was easy to bear. The psychological scars were the most painful. Al Rosen, another member of the famed Queen’s Own Rifles, dealt with both. Rosen began his military career in Canada. He had a job to guard the hydro towers at Niagara Falls from German planes. He recalled marching along the Niagara River but said “the only thing we would end up with was a stiff neck.”

 

Overseas in the Netherlands, he and his unit stumbled upon a Dutch farmer near the end of the war. She was so glad to see that these men were not Russians that she gave them fresh milk and eggs, considered a delicacy after all the powdered food the soldiers ate. That same day, just four days before the war ended, however, suddenly turned from great to horrible.

 

Rosen and his buddies were caught in the middle of a shelling. He was lucky enough to escape death that day, although the chunks of shrapnel in his body were painful enough. What hurt Rosen even more was seeing his friend, crouching right next to him, be decapitated. Rosen never forgot that day. It was always his worst nightmare and he was constantly reminded of the small bits of shrapnel inside him every time he went through an x-ray machine at an airport….

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

                                                           

                                                                       

Contents                                                                                      

   

THE EXPULSION OF BAGHDAD’S JEWS                                                    

AND THE UNRAVELING OF THE MIDDLE EAST                                                                                      

Jonathan Spyer                                                                                                                            

Jerusalem Post, Aug. 2, 2015

 

A few hours in the Shorja open market in Baghdad can teach you a lot – about the Middle East’s past, its present and its apparent future. What’s to be found there is informative. What is absent – equally so. My fixer Yusuf hadn’t wanted to take me to Shorja. I was in Baghdad for a reporting project on the Shi’ite militias. Between heading for Anbar with Kata’ib Hezbollah and up to Baiji with the Badr Corps, we had a few hours of down time in Baghdad, so I suggested we make for the market area that had once formed the hub of the city’s Jewish community.

 

I am no expert on the Jews of Iraq. But a friend’s Iraqi father back in Jerusalem, upon hearing that I was heading for Baghdad had mentioned the Taht el Takia neighborhood in the heart of the market where he had grown up, and asked me to take some pictures if I had the chance. “Old Baghdad isn’t really safe anymore. We won’t be able to walk around,” Yusuf told me as we debated the issue. “After the Jews were kicked out in the ’50s, a load of poor Shi’ite moved in and they have been running it ever since.”

 

I tried to ascertain what exactly the danger was. But, like much else in Baghdad, it wasn’t clear – just a general sense of foreboding, and maybe justified paranoia, of a kind that seemed pervasive in the city. Baghdad carried with it a tense and febrile atmosphere. Roadblocks everywhere. Muscular, armed men and light armored vehicles outside the hotels. Logos and pictures of armed Shi’ite irregulars on every street corner. These latter were the forces defending the city against the Sunni fighters of the Islamic State.

 

ISIS was just 60 km away, its black clad fighters waiting behind their positions amid the dust and the summer heat and the collapsed buildings. So I understood Yusuf’s reluctance. His driver, an older man and recent refugee from Anbar, was tired, too, and clearly had no special desire to head out into the 40 degree heat of the afternoon – still less, if the destination was a poverty-stricken Shi’ite section of the city. All the same, I was paying them and didn’t feel like spending the whole afternoon sitting around drinking tea and smoking, so I persisted and finally Yusuf agreed. Taht el Takia? Well, we’ll go there and see what’s there. But if I say it isn’t safe, we don’t even get out of the car.”

 

We set off back into the heat of the afternoon and began the drive to Old Baghdad. After a while, we reached al-Rasheed Street and began the search for the neighborhood. The market and area surrounding it were ramshackle and neglected, looking like they’d last been renovated sometime in the 1970s. Yusuf began to ask passersby about Taht el Takia. Everyone seemed to have heard of it, but no one quite knew where it was. “The problem is,” Yusuf said, “that most of the people here belong to families that came in from the countryside when Baghdad expanded in the 1960s, so they don’t really know all the names of these old neighborhoods.”

 

Finally, from al-Rasheed Street, we reached a warren of small alleyways and Yusuf declared that this, as far as he could ascertain, was Taht el Takia. The market had closed for the day; it was late afternoon and I made to enter the alley. This had once been the vibrant heart of Baghdad’s Jewish community, though not the slightest memory or indication of that was to be found. We wandered the deserted alleyways filled with garbage from the market. After a few minutes, a plump security man wearing a tatty army uniform with a maroon airborne-style beret on the back of his head, appeared and began to shout and gesticulate in guttural Baghdadi Arabic. “No pictures,” Yusuf told me.

 

Having established his authority with this arbitrary order, the guard became friendly and inquisitive. I told him I had come to look at the area for the father of a friend of mine who had left in 1951 and hadn’t seen it since. “Oh, a Jew, yes?” he said. I decided to answer in the affirmative, feeling vaguely that to have denied this would have been a sort of betrayal. “From Israel?” the guard persisted. This was going too far, and I replied vaguely that I had arrived from England.

 

The guard was amused by this, and with a show of magnanimity said we could photograph the adjacent mosque and the outside areas, but that he didn’t recommend going too far into the warren of alleyways, since it was getting dark. “Anyone could see that you’re a foreigner and just produce a weapon and say, ‘come with us,’” he suggested, grinning broadly. “I don’t even go in there myself after dark.” He brought us some bottled water as a goodwill gesture. “By the way,” he said as we parted, “ask your friend’s dad if he can get me asylum in Israel.”

 

There has been a market at Shorja since the Abbasid period in the 8th century. But for some time in the 19th and early 20th centuries, the Jews dominated trade in the area. It was the hub of a flourishing community. In 1951-1952, the long story of Iraqi Jewry came to an end with the Arab nationalist agitation; the commencement of anti-Jewish laws from the mid-1930s; growing violence; the Farhud massacres in 1941; and the subsequent persecution and expulsions. Almost the entire community was airlifted or smuggled out of the country from 1949 to 1951; Operation Ezra and Nehemiah brought around 130,000 Iraqi Jews to Israel from May 1951 and early 1952.

 

Some 60 years on, in Baghdad the Jews are a ghostly memory. The poor Shi’ites who moved into their vacated houses and the mass of the population that came later are neither moved by nor curious about their buried stories. There are, it is said, seven Jews remaining in the city. The old synagogues are long since demolished or boarded up. The mezuzas long prised from the doorways. The Laura Kadoorie Alliance Girls’ School, the Jewish Institute for the Blind, the shops of Yehezkel Abu al-Anba and Fattal are all gone.

 

As it turns out, the expulsion of Baghdad’s Jews was a portent of what was to come. The Jews were the first minority to be ripped from the fabric of Iraqi society. For a long, subsequent period, stagnation followed and dictatorships of unfathomable brutality imposed their will on the country. These ensured the dominance of the Sunni Arab minority, while other communities lived an uneasy, truncated existence, visited by intermittent catastrophe. That period ended in 2003 with the overthrow of Saddam Hussein. Today, in Iraq, similar forces of tribalism and sectarian hatred to those that ended Baghdad Jewry’s long and illustrious history are tearing the whole country to pieces. Nowadays, these forces no longer seek to cloak and disguise themselves in finery borrowed from the West. There are no claims to secularism, socialism or whatever. They come as they are ‒ sectarian, religious and set on revenge…

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

           

Contents                                                                                     

                                                                                       

 

On Topic

                                                                                                        

The Agreement: Dry Bones Blog, July 16, 2015

The Forward's Dispatch From Iran: Michael J. Totten, World Affairs, Aug. 12, 2015The Forward just published the very first dispatch from Iran in a Jewish newspaper that was tolerated by the Iranian government since the revolution in 1979.

Humanitarian Tragedy: Iran's Beleaguered Jewish Community: Dr. Majid Rafizadeh, Frontpage, Sept. 2, 2013 —One of the crucial humanitarian tragedies- that the world and the mainstream media has failed to focus on- is the fate and current living situation of Jewish communities in the Muslim-dominated countries, particularly the Shiite-Islamist country of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

From Kaifeng to the Kotel: Chinese Jews in Jerusalem: Michael Freund, Breaking Israel News, Aug. 12, 2015—What made Li, Fan and Xue’s journey so unique was the history they were making, as they became the first group of Chinese Jews to join Israeli army since the modern rebirth of the Jewish state.

Africa’s Scramble for Europe: Ross Douthat, New York Times, Aug. 8, 2015 —This summer, a striking, often tragic story has been playing itself out on the outskirts of Calais in France, at the entrance to the tunnel that connects the European mainland to Great Britain.

 

                                                                      

 

              

ROBERT WISTRICH Z”L: A GIANT OF JEWISH SCHOLARSHIP; WWII HISTORY: D-DAY, A NAZI-INSPIRED IRAQ POGROM, & JEWS ABANDONED BY U.S.

We welcome your comments to this and any other CIJR publication.

 

Remembering a Giant of Jewish Scholarship: Prof. Frederick Krantz, CIJR, June 10, 2015— As the old adage has it, deaths come in threes, something sadly borne out recently in the world of Jewish historical scholarship and Israel-related political advocacy.

Could World War II Have Ended Sooner Than It Did?: Victor Davis Hanson, National Review, June 11, 2015 — Seventy-one years ago, the British, Canadians, and Americans landed on the Normandy beaches to open a second ground front against Nazi Germany.

When a Piece of Paper Meant Life or Death: Rafael Medoff, Algemeiner, June 4, 2015 — “It is a fantastic commentary on the inhumanity of our times,” journalist Dorothy Thompson wrote at the height of the 1930s European Jewish refugee crisis, “that for thousands and thousands of people a piece of paper with a stamp on it is the difference between life and death.”

Why Don’t Our Children Learn About the ‘Farhud’?: Edy Cohen, Jerusalem Post, June 1, 2015 — The outbreak of mob violence against Baghdad Jewry known as the Farhud, or “violent dispossession,” broke out on June 1, 1941.

 

On Topic Links

 

A Passionate Defender of the Jewish People: Manfred Gerstenfeld, CIJR, May 22, 2015

Giuliani vs. Lew and Caroline Glick vs. Everyone Else: A Quick Look at the Jpost Conference: Jerusalem Post, June 9, 2015

Spain Passes Law of Return for Sephardic Jews: Times of Israel, June 11, 2015

The Miraculous Story of the Jews of Zakynthos: Leora Goldberg, Jerusalem Post, Dec. 13, 2009

 

                  

                  

REMEMBERING A GIANT OF JEWISH SCHOLARSHIP                                                                           

Prof. Frederick Krantz                                                                                                  

CIJR, June 10, 2015

 

As the old adage has it, deaths come in threes, something sadly borne out recently in the world of Jewish historical scholarship and Israel-related political advocacy. First came the passing of the remarkable Israel scholar Barry Rubin, then of the superb Churchill biographer, Holocaust authority, and historian of Israel Martin Gilbert, and now, suddenly, of our time's greatest student of the nature and history of antisemitism, Robert Wistrich.

 

I was away at sea recently and initially unaware that Robert, author of the recent, magisterial The Lethal Obsession: Antisemitism from Antiquity to the Global Jihad (2010), had suddenly been taken from us at the today relatively young age of 70.  He was in Rome, where he was about to address the Italian Senate on the growing dangers of an Israel-centered and Islamist-influenced global antisemitism.

 

Head of the Vidal Sassoon International Center for the Study of Antisemitism at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award of the Journal for the Study of Antisemitism, he was descended from a Polish-Jewish family, born in Kazakhstan in 1945, raised in London and educated at Cambridge and the University of London, where he took his doctorate.

 

He worked initially at the Institute for Contemporary History and the Wiener Library, with Walter Laqueur, and received tenure at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in 1982. A scholarly polymath, Robert published a large number of books and articles on a vast range of subjects, from modern Austrian- and German-Jewish history and politics, Leon Trotsky, and Theodor Herzl, to socialism and the Jews, and key studies on the Nazis and Nazism.

 

His work on antisemitism blossomed into the path-breaking The Longest Hatred (1994), which  tracked antisemitism from its beginnings in pre-Christian Greek and Roman times through early and medieval Christianity, and down into the early modern and modern periods and of course, the Holocaust, with final chapters on the post-1945 and contemporary periods, and the impact of Israel. He was also instrumental in transforming the book into a powerful nine-hour British-American television documentary of the same name, which was shown first on the BBC and then across Europe, including Germany, and North America (PBS), extending the impact of his work to an audience of millions.

 

Robert also played a key role on the International Catholic-Jewish Historical Commission, set up from 1999-2001 by the Vatican to examine documents pertaining to the problem of Pope Pius XII’s relation to the Holocaust, generally and in Italy. And he supported withdrawing from the project when complete access to the existing documentation was not provided by the Church.

 

I knew Robert Wistrich for over a quarter of a century, and was honored by his presence at a number of CIJR conferences, not least the major International Conference on the New Global Antisemitism I organized here in Montreal, held jointly with Federation-CJA in 2004. There Robert─with Natan Sharansky and in the company of superb students of Jewish history and antisemitism like Alvin Rosenfeld, Ruth Wisse, and Bat Ye'or, among others─delivered an incisive portrait of contemporary Israel-centered antisemitism and its new Arab-world Islamic component. His remarks─in the guise of a Keynote address─were also a powerful and eloquent call to arms, to devote all our energies to opposing the new antisemitism.

 

Robert was one of the giants in this crucial area of study, whose remarkable oeuvre justifies placing him in the pantheon of the truly great scholars, from Jules Isaac, Marcel Simon, and Leon Poliakov, to Jacob Katz, Haim Ben-Sasson, and Louis Feldman. He understood that his was a field, and a historical reality, which was still, unfortunately, very much alive, one paradoxically re-energized by the very Zionist success of a miraculously reborn democratic Jewish Israel. And he saw his intellectual and scholarly work, including the strenuous series of talks and lectures he delivered to major  events and audiences around the world, as a key part of the unending effort not only to keep alive the memory of antisemitism's victims, but also to rally all people of good will to defeat a resurgent movement seeking first to delegitimize, and then to destroy, the sovereign Jewish state.

 

 Robert concluded his remarks at the 2004 International Conference in Montreal by citing how traditional themes of antisemitism and Judeophobia today are feeding into an Islamist-inspired apocalyptic contemporary antisemitism, which asserts─ reflecting the revival of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion─ that aggressive and bloodthirsty Jews, now reinforced by the state of Israel, "are at the root of so many of the crises of the world, such that sixty per cent of Europeans say Israel is a great danger to world peace". And, given that "it is unlikely that this situation will improve a great deal on its own", fighting it will "depend on the ability of the Jewish people to mobilize all of its resources, and that includes obviously all of its cultural and intellectual and moral, as well as its political and financial, resources" in order to counter-act the new antisemitic offensive.

 

Citing the Biblical story of Purim, Robert concluded by noting that, "based on our tradition and our heritage, it is possible even in the most adverse circumstances for the Jews to triumph over their enemies, by determined action, by political action, and by the conviction that they have no other choice. Purim is a reminder to us of what we are obligated to do, and of what we are able to do. We can turn the tide". May his memory, and his example, be a blessing to us all.

 

                                                                       

Contents                                                                                                

   

COULD WORLD WAR II HAVE ENDED SOONER THAN IT DID?                                                                       

Victor Davis Hanson    

National Review, June 11, 2015

 

Seventy-one years ago, the British, Canadians, and Americans landed on the Normandy beaches to open a second ground front against Nazi Germany. Operation Overlord — the Allied invasion of Western Europe — proved the largest amphibious operation in military history, dwarfing even Xerxes’s Persian invasion of Greece in 480 B.C. Brilliant planning, overwhelming naval support, air superiority, and high morale ensured the successful landing of 160,000 troops on the first day — at a cost of about 4,000 dead.

 

Three weeks after the June 6 landings, nearly a million Allied soldiers were ashore, heading eastward through France. Hitler’s once-formidable Third Reich seemed on the verge of collapse. On the Eastern Front, the German army was imploding under the weight of 5 million advancing infantrymen of Russia’s Red Army. At the same time, Allied four-engine bombers, with superb long-range fighter escorts, at last were beginning to destroy German transportation and fuel infrastructure.

 

Yet Hitler held off for another eleven bloody months. Why? What followed the D-Day landings was as confused as the initial assault was superbly carried out. Planners had underestimated the impassable terrain of the French boscage — dense thickets planted along huge earthen berms — just miles beyond the American-sector beaches. It would take most of June and early July for the stalled Americans to cut through the nearly impassable, well-defended hedgerows. The stalled Allied armies had given time for the arrival of crack German Panzer reinforcements to bottle up the invaders. Finally, the Allies broke out with the help of massive carpet-bombing of German positions some six weeks after D-Day.

 

Unfortunately, the command structure of the Allied invasion force was topsy-turvy. The swashbuckling U.S. general George S. Patton — in the doghouse for the slapping of ill GIs a year earlier during the Sicily campaign — came to Normandy late. His superb Third Army was relegated to a supporting role and assigned the longest route into Germany. In contrast, the professional (but slow and methodical) General Bernard Montgomery won the pivotal position in the north to break through to the Ruhr on the shortest path into the Third Reich.

 

Meanwhile, U.S. general Dwight D. Eisenhower, the supreme commander of the Allied Forces, and his subordinates, generals Omar Bradley and Courtney Hodges, were reconciled to a slow, incremental slog through France along a broad front. Patton, however, would have none of it. By early August, the Third Army was unleashed and off to the races — in a series of brilliant armored outflanking movements that encircled and bypassed stunned German divisions. Taking great risks, the mercurial Patton outsourced the protection of his flanks to the U.S. Air Force. Patton plowed ahead, seeking to stun, bewilder, and collapse German resistance.

 

It almost worked. The Third Army “rolled” with Patton right through France to near the largely unguarded German border. An exuberant American media dreamed that the war in the West might be over by autumn 1944. Hundreds of thousands of trapped Germans either surrendered or were killed by Allied pincers. British and American fighters blanketed the skies above nearly 2 million Allied soldiers, most of them motorized and protected by thousands of tanks and artillery pieces.

But then the wondrous American August came abruptly to an end. Allied planners had never found a way to recapture intact the key French ports on the Atlantic Coast from besieged German defenders. The farther Patton and other Allied armies advanced from the beaches, almost 400 miles away, the longer their supply lines grew — and the easier it became for the enemy to support its own retreating forces. Shorter late-summer days, inclement weather, mounting casualties, supply shortages, and the need to help liberate occupied France all slowed down the once-rapid American advance.

 

The farther Patton and other Allied armies advanced from the beaches, the longer their supply lines grew — and the easier it became for the enemy to support its own retreating forces. In an unwise move, Eisenhower in early September had diverted gasoline and ammunition from the American sector to Montgomery’s theater. Montgomery, in a risky gambit, planned to leapfrog across the Rhine from Holland into the German Ruhr Valley, hoping to paralyze Germany’s industrial heartland and end the war outright. The result, however, was the disastrous Operation Market Garden, or “A Bridge Too Far, catastrophe.

 

Meanwhile, Patton’s advance sputtered by early September and ran out of gas. The Third Army, like other American forces, prepared for a mostly static war near the German border for the next six months. The American nightmares of fighting in the Hürtgen Forest and the Battle of the Bulge lay ahead, as the war eventually turned into a World War I-style bloodbath until March 1945. The stalled Allies would lose more casualties from autumn 1944 to the end of the war than they had in the rapid advance from Normandy to the German border. But for a brief moment in August 1944, everything seemed possible, as the American military had never experienced a breakthrough quite like George Patton’s roll through German-occupied France 71 years ago this summer.

 

                                                                       

Contents                                                                                      

   

WHEN A PIECE OF PAPER MEANT LIFE OR DEATH                                                                             

Rafael Medoff                         

Algemeiner, June 4, 2015

 

“It is a fantastic commentary on the inhumanity of our times,” journalist Dorothy Thompson wrote at the height of the 1930s European Jewish refugee crisis, “that for thousands and thousands of people a piece of paper with a stamp on it is the difference between life and death.” Seventy-five years ago this month, president Franklin D. Roosevelt’s newly appointed assistant secretary of state sent his colleagues a memo outlining a strategy to “postpone and postpone and postpone” the granting of that “piece of paper” to refugees. Breckinridge Long’s chilling memo, more than any other single document, has come to symbolize the abandonment of the Jews during the Holocaust.

 

Long, a personal friend of Roosevelt’s and a major donor to his first presidential campaign, was rewarded with the post of U.S. ambassador to Italy. Long’s dispatches to Washington from Rome in the early and mid 1930s praised the Mussolini regime for its “well-paved” streets, “dapper” black-shirted stormtroopers, and “punctual trains.” Eleanor Roosevelt once remarked to the president about Long, “Franklin, you know he’s a fascist”—to which an angry FDR replied, “I’ve told you, Eleanor, you must not say that.”

 

In early 1940, Roosevelt promoted Long to the position of assistant secretary of state, putting him in charge of 23 of the State Department’s 42 divisions, including the visa section. Long joined a department that was well-schooled in suppressing immigration. From 1933-38—the first five years the Nazis were in power—the Roosevelt administration had gone out of its way to restrict Jewish immigration from Germany to levels far lower than what the law allowed. By adding extra requirements and layers of bureaucracy, the German quota of 25,957 was only 5 percent filled in 1933, and 14 percent filled in 1934. The only year that Roosevelt permitted the German quota to be filled was 1938-39, and only then because of tremendous international pressure, following the German annexation of Austria and the Kristallnacht pogrom.

 

By the time Long assumed his post at the State Department in early 1940, the old practice of actively suppressing immigration below the quota had returned. In addition to the administration’s general hostility toward immigration—especially Jewish immigration—there was now the added fear of Nazi spies reaching the U.S.

 

The quick collapse of France in the spring of 1940 triggered a wave of alarm in the U.S. about German “fifth columnists” undermining the U.S. from within. The press was filled with wild stories about Hitler planning to send “slave spies” to America. Attorney General Robert Jackson complained to the cabinet about “the hysteria that is sweeping the country against aliens and fifth columnists.” But FDR himself was fanning the flames. In a series of remarks in May and June, he publicly warned about what he called “the treacherous use of the ‘fifth column’ by persons supposed to be peaceful visitors [but] actually a part of an enemy unit of occupation.” The notion that German spies would reach America disguised as refugees was baseless. There was only one instance in which a Nazi successfully posed as a Jewish refugee in order to reach the Western hemisphere—and he was captured in Cuba and executed.

 

On June 26, 1940, assistant secretary Long composed a memo explaining to his colleagues how to keep out the Jews. “We can delay and effectively stop for a temporary period of indefinite length the number of immigrants into the United States,” he wrote. “We could do this by simply advising our consuls to put every obstacle in the way and to require additional evidence and to resort to various administrative devices which would postpone and postpone and postpone the granting of the visas.” Long’s plan was to use the “postpone and postpone” method as a temporary measure, until a way could be devised to make it permanent. And that’s exactly what happened.

 

Three days after Long’s memo, the State Department ordered U.S. consuls abroad to reject applications from anyone about whom they had “any doubt whatsoever.” The new instruction specifically noted that this policy would result in “a drastic reduction in the number of quota and non-quota immigration visas issued.” It worked as intended. In the year to follow, immigration from Germany and Austria was kept to just 47 percent of the quota, and the following year it was held to under 18 percent.

 

Then, in June 1941, the Roosevelt administration adopted a harsh new policy, known as the Close Relatives Edict. It barred the entry of anyone who had close relatives in German-occupied territory, on the grounds that the Nazis might hold those relatives hostage in order to force the immigrant to become a spy for Hitler. No such cases were ever discovered, but in the meantime, countless Jews with relatives in Europe were automatically declared ineligible for immigration to America. Another “piece of paper” helped trap millions of Jews in Hitler’s Europe.

                       

                                                                       

Contents                                                                                      

   

WHY DON’T OUR CHILDREN LEARN ABOUT THE ‘FARHUD’?                                                                     

Edy Cohen

Jerusalem Post, June 1, 2015

 

The outbreak of mob violence against Baghdad Jewry known as the Farhud, or “violent dispossession,” broke out on June 1, 1941. During the two days of violence, rioters killed 180 Jews, wounded 600 others and raped an undetermined number of women. They also looted some 1,500 stores and homes. The Farhud was the beginning of what became a broad Nazi-Arab alliance in the Holocaust. The Farhud was both Nazi-inspired and encouraged by a prominent Arab leader, the grand mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini, who escaped from the British in Palestine and arrived in Iraq in October 1939.

 

While everyone is familiar with the Palestinian Nakba, few in Israel are aware of the tragic history of the Farhud or the fate of the Jews from Arab countries who were chased from their homes, leaving all their property and possessions behind. This, even though these Jews and their descendants constitute over 55 percent of Jewish Israeli citizens today.

 

Approximately 900,000 Jews left their homes in Arab countries between the years 1948-1970. Some of them came to Israel while others immigrated to other countries. Many were forced to leave behind property of great value – property that was sometimes seized by the governments of the countries they fled.

 

Unfortunately nothing is taught by the Education Ministry about the pogroms suffered by the Jews in Arab countries, or of their rich and unique culture. Pupils are not exposed to the Farhud riots. They are not taught about the riots in Egypt and Libya in which hundreds of marauding Muslims desecrated, burned and destroyed synagogues in November 1945. Hundreds of Jews were killed just because they were Jews.

 

The tragedy of these Jews has been downplayed and almost unheard of for many years. No one talks about the suffering of these refugees who were ousted from these Arab countries. No one speaks of the tremendous amount of Jewish property and wealth that was left behind. No one mentions the hundreds of synagogues or holy places, the numerous cemeteries or the communal property that was confiscated by the Arab governments, mainly by the Iraqi and Egyptian governments.

 

There is a need to create a national committee to investigate the following subjects: the value of the property the Jews left behind; a documented list of personal and communal property of Jews in each country; the integration of the rich culture and legends of these Jews in the programs of the Education Ministry; the creation of a Jewish Cultural Center for Jews from the Arab countries; preservation of synagogues that remain in Arab hands; keeping watch over the holy places and shrines of the righteous and rabbis in these countries; and the restoration and prevention of the destruction of cemeteries in these countries.

 

The question remains: why has Israel not demanded compensation for the Jewish properties left behind or stolen in Arab countries? Israel did little to break the silence about the dire circumstances of the Jewish exodus from Arab countries. Last year State Comptroller Joseph Shapira issued a scathing report on the state’s failure to take action toward the restoration of property that was lost when hundreds of thousands of Jews living in Iran and the Arab states came to Israel in the years after Independence in 1948.

 

In his report Shapira wrote: “Israel is dealing with the issue lackadaisically, not paying it sufficient attention. It has not set any policy or budget, nor has it allocated resources toward researching and documenting the assets or collecting information about the rights of the Jews who came from those countries.” Shapira described the situation as “bleak,” a “fiasco” that could be “a perpetual tragedy.”

 

I urge the Knesset and the Israeli government to create a National Restoration Committee for Jews from Arab countries whose property was stolen. I also urge Education Minister Naftali Bennett to introduce more elements of Mizrahi Jewish culture into the education system. Our children must learn the culture of their grandfathers.

 

CIJR Wishes All Our Friends and Supporters: Shabbat Shalom!

 

Contents

                                                                                     

 

On Topic

 

A Passionate Defender of the Jewish People: Manfred Gerstenfeld, CIJR, May 22, 2015 —Professor Robert Wistrich was the leading historian of anti-Semitism, and published important books in other fields of history as well.

Giuliani vs. Lew and Caroline Glick vs. Everyone Else: A Quick Look at the Jpost Conference: Jerusalem Post, June 9, 2015

Spain Passes Law of Return for Sephardic Jews: Times of Israel, June 11, 2015—Spain’s lower house gave final approval to a law offering citizenship to descendants of Sephardic Jews Thursday.

The Miraculous Story of the Jews of Zakynthos: Leora Goldberg, Jerusalem Post, Dec. 13, 2009—I needed a break at the end of a long and exhausting semester. My family was off to the southern end of the Balkan Peninsula, to an unknown island in Greece.

 

              

              

WHITE HOUSE CALLS ANTISEMITIC ATTACK “RANDOM” — BUT JEWS IN SWEDEN, ARGENTINA & IRAQ KNOW BETTER

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:

 

Anti-Semitic Horrors Don‘t Exist in Obama’s World: John Podhoretz, New York Post, Feb. 11, 2015 — At Tuesday’s press briefing, White House mouthpiece Josh Earnest said something disgusting — I don’t know how else to describe it — about the massacre at the Hyper Casher kosher supermarket in Paris one month ago.

Sweden Imports Jew-Hatred: Ingrid Carlqvist & Lars Hedegaard, Gatestone Institute, Feb. 11, 2015 — If anyone had thought that the slaughter of four Jews in a Paris supermarket — for the reason that they were Jews — would have caused the Swedish mainstream press and the government to explain who is behind Europe's growing anti-Semitism and anti-Jewish violence, he would be sadly mistaken.

Cry For Me, Argentina!: Isi leibler, Jerusalem Post, Feb. 10, 2015 — The assassination of Argentine prosecutor Alberto Nisman reflects the endemic corruption of the Kirchner regime and focuses the spotlight on the devil’s pact consummated by President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner in 2013 with Iran…

Remembering Babylon: New Exhibit Explores Roots of Jewish Life in Iraq: Anav Silverman, Jewish Press, Feb. 11, 2015— The only museum in the world, dedicated to the history of the Ancient Near East from a biblical perspective, has a new exhibition examining the Babylonian exile of the Jewish people as never seen before.

 

On Topic Links

 

Calgary’s Pro-Gaza Rioters Push for a Plea Deal (Video): Ezra Levant, Sun News, Feb. 12, 2015

Sephardi Community Remembers Hyper Cacher Victims: Sheri Shefa, Canadian Jewish News, Feb. 11, 2015

Decades of Anti-Israel Hatemongering by Sweden’s Social Democrats: Manfred Gerstenfeld, CIJR, Feb. 6, 2015

European Anti-Semitism Starts from the Top: Evelyn Gordon, Commentary, Feb. 11, 2015

                                                                     

         

ANTI-SEMITIC HORRORS DON‘T EXIST IN OBAMA’S WORLD                                                          

John Podhoretz                                          

New York Post, Feb. 11, 2015

 

At Tuesday’s press briefing, White House mouthpiece Josh Earnest said something disgusting — I don’t know how else to describe it — about the massacre at the Hyper Casher kosher supermarket in Paris one month ago. “The individuals who were killed in that terrible, tragic incident,” Earnest droned, “were killed not because of who they were but because of where they randomly happened to be.” Take it from someone who keeps kosher: Nobody “randomly” happens to be in a kosher supermarket, not even in Manhattan.

 

But you didn’t need to take it from someone who keeps kosher, did you? You already know that the clientele of a kosher supermarket is almost entirely made up of Jews. You know this because you’re not an idiot. Yes, if you want to find Jews, a kosher supermarket is the place to be on a Friday morning, as people are preparing for the Sabbath. Since Earnest is the press secretary of the most important person in the world, I assume he isn’t an illiterate dope. Which means he knows this too. So what he did was speak a vile lie, and a deeply dishonorable one. It’s dishonorable because his remarks suggest these murders were meaningless acts of nihilism, when they in fact were terrifyingly meaningful acts of anti-Semitic murder on European soil 70 years after the Holocaust — acts that are causing many if not most of the 600,000 Jews in France to think seriously about emigrating.

 

Alas, it appears that Earnest’s vile lie can’t be excused away as an expression of his own moral cretinousness. For only a few minutes later, about half a mile away from him in Washington, Earnest’s fellow administration mouthpiece Jen Psaki took to the podium at the State Department’s press briefing and with similar moral cretinousness dismissed the purpose and goal of the Jew-killers at Hyper Casher. “I believe if I remember the victims specifically,” said Psaki, “they were not all victims of one background or one nationality.” Asked point-blank by AP’s Matt Lee whether the Obama administration believes “this was an anti-Jewish or an attack on a Jewish community in Paris,” Psaki responded, “I don’t think we’re going to speak on behalf of French authorities.”

 

After a firestorm of criticism on Twitter, Earnest and Psaki both tried to pretend they hadn’t said what they said. “Terror attack at Paris Kosher market was motivated by anti-Semitism,” tweeted Earnest. For her part, Psaki said, “We have always been clear that the attack on the kosher grocery store was an anti-Semitic attack that took the lives of innocent people.” Well, no, you weren’t always clear, now, were you? What madness was this? What madness is this?  The most comforting explanation is that the administration chose to circle the wagons around President Obama after his flabbergasting remarks on Monday — when he spoke of “violent, vicious zealots who behead people or randomly shoot a bunch of folks in a deli in Paris.” As we’ve established, it wasn’t “a bunch of folks” but four Jews who were shot — and not, by the way, eating corned beef on rye at Katz’s while Sally faked an orgasm but as they shopped for ingredients for their Sabbath meals.

 

Which means it wasn’t done “randomly” but purposefully and in a directed fashion. It didn’t matter who they were individually, true. What mattered was this: JEW. JEW. JEW. JEW. That isn’t random, bub. So this is the exculpatory argument: Obama stepped in it on Monday. He said something stupid and ill-advised. (After all, he had previously said the attack was an act of anti-Semitism.) And rather than walk it back, the administration’s blatherskites on Tuesday foolishly chose to step in it even more deeply by twisting themselves into pretzels on the “randomness” issue. This is what Earnest and the White House want us to believe. In a late-afternoon tweet, Earnest said, “Our view has not changed . . . POTUS didn’t intend to suggest otherwise.” But what if this is disingenuous and false? What if the administration is now so committed to its bizarre assertion that the acts of terror in Paris and the horrifying butcheries of ISIS have not been perpetrated in the name of Islam that it chose to dance around the anti-Semitic agency of Islamist Jew-killers — until it was caught out, that is? If this is so, the moral cretin is the man now resident in the Oval Office.                                                  

 

Contents                                                                                             

                                                            

SWEDEN IMPORTS JEW-HATRED                                                                        

Ingrid Carlqvist & Lars Hedegaard                                                                                       

Gatestone Institute, Feb. 11, 2015

 

If anyone had thought that the slaughter of four Jews in a Paris supermarket — for the reason that they were Jews — would have caused the Swedish mainstream press and the government to explain who is behind Europe's growing anti-Semitism and anti-Jewish violence, he would be sadly mistaken. With the exception of one television program, the connection between anti-Semitism, Islam and Muslim mass immigration remains a mental no-go area in Sweden. Sweden's history when it comes to Jews is not a pretty one. It was not until 1870 that Jews were permitted to settle wherever they wanted in the country. Sweden was behind the proposal to stamp a big "J" in the passports of German Jews, to prevent Jewish refugees from Nazi Germany from entering. And now the Swedish authorities close their eyes to the new Jew-hatred that is imported in the wake Muslim immigration…

 

By the end of the 1930s, there was a growing stream of Jewish refugees from Germany to other European countries. Few countries wanted them, but how might one determine who were Jews and who were not? In 1938, Sweden and Switzerland approached Germany with the proposal to furnish Jews with special passports, and on October 5 that year the Germans complied. All passports belonging to Jews were declared null and void, and Jews who wanted to travel had to get new ones — stamped with a big red "J" on the first page. In 1943, when is became clear that Hitler would lose the war, Sweden hurried to restore some of its reputation. In Nazi-occupied Denmark, about 8,000 Jews had escaped deportation to Nazi concentration camps because they were under the protection of the Danish government, and were never forced to wear the yellow Star of David. But on August 23, 1943, all cooperation between the Danish government and the occupation authorities broke down. The government resigned and the Germans imposed a state of emergency. After that, Danish Jews had no other protection than the Danish resistance, including remnants of the state administration and a largely sympathetic population. As Denmark's former Chief Rabbi Bent Melchior told Danish television some years ago, not a single Jew knocked on the door of his gentile neighbor without getting help.

 

The Danish resistance got wind that the Germans planned to round up all 8,000 Danish Jews in the night between October 1 and 2, 1943, to deport them to German camps. In no time, the resistance, with the aid of a great many civilians, managed to thwart the operation. Fishing boats were mobilized to smuggle more than 7,000 Jews across the Øresund Sound to Sweden. Others were able to hide in Denmark. The 1500 German soldiers that took part in the operation only managed to catch 284 Jews on the night of the round-up. Unfortunately, more were apprehended later; altogether 474 Danish Jews ended up in the German concentration camp Theresienstadt, which was not an extermination camp. Most of them returned to Denmark after the liberation, but 53 died in German captivity, most of them old or sick. The Danish Jews and a number of Danish resistance fighters were housed in Swedish boarding houses, youth hostels, hotels and private homes. (Among the resistance fighters was a gentleman, Leif Larsen, who had taken part in a shoot-out in Copenhagen. He found refuge in the home of one of the authors of this piece, the grandmother of Ingrid Carlqvist, and eventually married her aunt Solveig.)

 

After war's end, most of the Jews in Sweden returned to Denmark, but Sweden's self-image was forever changed. Finally, Sweden had something to be proud of after its highly dubious behavior at the time when it appeared that Hitler was on a winning streak. Unfortunately, the Swedes drew an erroneous conclusion from their rescue of the Jews. Many Swedes are now firmly convinced that everyone seeking shelter in Sweden is in the same desperate predicament as the Jews were in 1943. One reason Swedes are more welcoming to asylum seekers than the inhabitants of most other European countries, is that they are distancing themselves from their despicable treatment of Jews before World War II, until 1943.

 

But this is precisely what has paved the way for a new Jew-hatred in Sweden. Swedes know nothing of the Jew-hatred in the Koran and the hadiths, so they just don't understand why Muslims attack Jews. If they even manage to hear about the attacks (the Swedish media seldom write about them), they will believe it has something to do with the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. Maybe the Arabs have a reason to be angry at Jews? And since the influential Jewish organization SKMA keeps saying that Jew-hatred and "Islamophobia" are birds of a feather, why should ordinary Swedes think anything else? Swedes now tend to view all immigrants as victims of totalitarianism and refuse to acknowledge that not all immigrants think like Swedes. They cannot comprehend that people would flee unless they were hated and threatened.

 

Swedes have a minimal knowledge of the Jew-hatred that is part and parcel of Islam, and the authorities and politicians refuse to acknowledge that Jews are now fleeing the southern city of Malmö due to its steadily growing Muslim population. Quite simply, most Swedes have never realized that one minority group may expose another minority group to violence and intimidation. There are other reasons Malmö's politicians turn a blind eye to Jew-hatred. Malmö is Sweden's third-largest city and probably has the greatest proportion of Muslims. (It is hard to give exact figures because Swedish law forbids registration based on religion.) It is normally assumed that approximately one-third of Malmö's 300,000 inhabitants have a foreign background and that their number is steadily increasing. Currently, most refugees come from Syria and Somalia, and most are Muslims.

 

Malmö has nearly always been governed by Social Democrats — a party that has every reason to keep on the good side of Muslims. In municipal elections, the Social Democrats can normally count on 30% of the general vote, and on 70% of the Muslim vote. This circumstance was undoubtedly the most important reason the city's former Social Democratic Mayor, Ilmar Reepalu, refused to do anything about rampant Jew-hatred. He surely must have been aware that the perpetrators of anti-Semitic excesses were his own voters. For many years, Malmö's Jews have reported a growing number of hate crimes against their synagogue and themselves, but nobody has taken their complaints seriously. Eventually, a journalist by the name of Andreas Lovén from the local newspaper Skånska Dagbladet wrote in a series of articles that Jew-hatred was causing more and more Jews to move to other Swedish cities or to Israel.

 

For the first time, it was openly said who was behind the anti-Semitism — the city's Muslim population. Many Jews told the paper that they dared not let their children grow up in Malmö — the town where, on January 25, 2009, a Muslim mob was allowed to pelt a peaceful Jewish demonstration in support of Israel with bottles, eggs and smoke bombs…Instead of breaking up the anti-Israel demonstration, which took place without a police permission and which seriously threatened the Jews and friends of Israel assembled at Malmö's Great Square (Stortorget), the police chose to revoke the Jews' right to assemble. This decision was harshly criticized by Parliament's judicial ombudsman, who wrote: "To permit counter-demonstrators to more or less systematically prevent their opponents from voicing their opinions at public gatherings is unacceptable in a democracy."…

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

 

                                                                       

Contents                                                                                      

             

CRY FOR ME, ARGENTINA!                                                                                                      

Isi leibler

Jerusalem Post, Feb. 10, 2015

 

The assassination of Argentine prosecutor Alberto Nisman reflects the endemic corruption of the Kirchner regime and focuses the spotlight on the devil’s pact consummated by President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner in 2013 with Iran, whose leaders inflicted the worst-ever act of terrorism in the country’s history on her own citizens. Today there are approximately 250,000 Jews in Argentina. Since the days of Juan Peron the government’s attitude to Jews has been ambivalent. Peron displayed friendship to the Jewish community but enabled Argentina to serve as a haven for the most evil of Nazi war criminals – including Adolf Eichmann.

 

In March 1992, the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires was the target of a terrorist bombing that killed 29 and wounded 242 people. Two years later, in July 1994, a second bombing was directed at the Jewish community center (AMIA), killing 85 and wounding hundreds. There were protracted investigations and eventually two Argentine prosecutors, Alberto Nisman and Marcelo Burgos, formally accused the Iranian government of orchestrating the attacks and utilizing Hezbollah agents to carry out the bombings. In 2007, the Argentine government even issued arrest warrants for six Iranians, including former Iranian defense minister Ahmad Vahidi and former Iranian president Ali Akbar Rafsanjani. They were placed on Interpol’s “Red List” of wanted criminals. None were apprehended and, not surprisingly, Iran adamantly refused to cooperate. Subsequently, prosecutor Nisman exposed a cover- up in which a judge was impeached for bribery.

 

There were also allegations that the Iranian intelligence service had deposited $10 million in a Swiss bank account held by former Argentine president Carlos Menem in return for his hushing up the affair, and in March 2012 he was ordered to stand trial for obstruction of justice. In 2005, President Nestor Kirchner described Argentina’s failure to move forward in this matter as a “national disgrace.” But on January 27, 2013, his widow and successor, President Cristina Kirchner, in a shocking reversal, consummated a pact with the Iranians to create a joint “truth commission” in order to investigate the AMIA terrorist attack by the “judicial authorities of Argentina and Iran … and issue a report with recommendations about how the case should proceed.” Lest there be any doubt as to the outcome, the statement unabashedly stressed that the project would be “based on the laws and regulations of both countries.” In a formal declaration, Kirchner stressed that she would “never allow the AMIA tragedy to be used as a chess piece in a game of faraway geopolitical interests” – clearly conveying Argentina’s opposition to efforts to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear power.

 

That the current Argentine leaders could collaborate with such cynical whitewashing of the murder of their own fellow citizens and create a “truth commission” with a barbaric, Holocaust-denying regime warranted the condemnation of the Argentine government by the civilized world. This pact with the devil was clearly motivated by Argentina’s economic crisis and its escalating debts to the World Bank and other global institutions. This was preceded by media reports alleging that Argentine Foreign Minister Hector Timerman had offered to freeze the AMIA inquiry in return for an upgrade in economic relations with Iran, exchanging Argentine grain for Iranian oil. Timerman was also said to have proposed that Syrian President Bashar Assad act as an intermediary to facilitate such a deal. A leaked cable from Iran’s then-foreign minister Ali Akbar Salehi explicitly stated: “Argentina is no longer interested in solving those two attacks, but in exchange prefers improving its economic relations with Iran.”

 

Israel’s then-deputy foreign minister Danny Ayalon stated that “it was clear to all that the Iranians and their Hezbollah minions were involved in the attack” and that bringing the Iranians into the so-called “truth commission” was equivalent to “inviting the murderer to participate in the murder investigation.” This led to an enraged response by Timmerman, who summoned the Israeli ambassador, Dorit Shavit, and accused her government of providing “ammunition to anti-Semites who accused Jews of dual loyalties.” He added, “Israel has no right to demand explanations. We are a sovereign state and Israel is not entitled to speak on behalf of the Jewish people and does not represent it.”

 

Timmerman was a former Argentine ambassador to the US who promoted himself as both a human rights activist and a committed Jew. It is noteworthy that his father Jacobo, an Argentine Jew and editor of a leftist weekly news magazine, was arrested in 1977 by the right-wing military junta, held in solitary confinement, and tortured. Through the secret intervention of Israeli authorities, he was released in 1979 and came to Israel, where he documented his persecution in Argentina in a book titled Prisoner without a Name, Cell without a Number. But he turned on his benefactors and in 1983 published a second book, brutally attacking Israel’s policies and accusing prime minister Menachem Begin of destroying the moral integrity of the Jewish people, transforming Israelis into “efficient criminals.” He even compared Israel to the fascist government of Argentina that had incarcerated and tortured him. Shortly after publishing his tirade, he returned to Argentina and died in Buenos Aires in 1999.

 

His hatred of Israel – the country that saved his life – was bequeathed to his son Hector, who as foreign minister played a central role in the loathsome effort on behalf of the Argentine regime to sanitize the Iranian murderers of his own people. Prosecutor Nisman resisted and dedicated himself to obtaining justice for the victims of the terrorist bombings and bringing the perpetrators to trial. In recent years, he also displayed determination to expose the government’s attempt to cover up the Iranian involvement…   [To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]                                                                                                                                                  

 

 

Contents                                                                                      

                                                        

REMEMBERING BABYLON:                                                                     

NEW EXHIBIT EXPLORES ROOTS OF JEWISH LIFE IN IRAQ                                                     

Anav Silverman                                                                                                  

Jewish Press, Feb. 11, 2015

 

The only museum in the world, dedicated to the history of the Ancient Near East from a biblical perspective, has a new exhibition examining the Babylonian exile of the Jewish people as never seen before. The Bible Lands Museum in Jerusalem has amassed a collection of over 100 cuneiform tablets, original documents from the Judean community, which are now on display to the public for the first time. “The exhibition shares the unique artifacts that illustrate the devastation and resilience of the exiled Judeans as they built their lives in Babylonia,” exhibition curator Dr. Filip Vukosavović told Tazpit News Agency. “Until now we had been unable to tell the complete story of the Babylon Exile and to understand what actually happened to all the Jewish refugees once they were forced out of Judah,” said Dr. Vukosavović of the new exhibition, By the Rivers of Babylon.

 

The cuneiform clay tablets are known as the Al-Yahudu Tablets because most were written in the Babylonian city of Al-Yahudu (the city of Judah), located near a river. The tablets are small in size and with text in Akkadian, the extinct Semitic language of Mesopotamia, along with occasional text in Aramaic and Paleo-Hebrew. They contain dozens of personal names of Jewish exiles, whose biblical Hebrew names are still in use today. “This outstanding exhibition focuses on one of the most significant periods for the Jewish people; a brief chapter in time that changed the culture, cohesion, and practice of Judaism and the Jewish people,” notes Bible Lands Museum director, Amanda Weiss.

 

Many important elements of Judaism today originated in ancient Babylon including the Hebrew calendar and Babylonian Talmud. “The exhibition was inspired by the loan of the Al-Yahudu Archive from David and Cindy Sofer, who entrusted the museum with the once in a lifetime opportunity to research study, publish and exhibit this important historical evidence,” she told Tazpit. By the Rivers of Babylon, which also features innovative multi-media, original animations and local archeology from the First Temple, traces the family tree of fourth-generation Judean exile, Hagai Ben Ahiqam, all the way back to his great-grandfather, Samak Yama, who was born in Judah. One tablet describes the division of inheritance among Haggai and his brothers in Bablyon – the kind of information that Dr. Vukosavović says that one could find in a lawyer’s file cabinet today. Hagai’s family lived in the Babylonian city known as Al-Yahudu, an important city, among many cities, which were settled by Judean exiles over 2,500 years ago, following Babylonian ruler Nebuchadnezzar’s destruction of Jerusalem and the First Temple in 586 BCE.

 

The earliest document on display from the Al-Yahudu archive, written barely 15 years after the destruction of Jerusalem offers a glimpse into the lives of the Judeans in exile and their relationship with the Babylonian rulers and society. The administrative and legal texts document many facets of life including business transactions, tax payments, and rentals in Babylonia, which show that the status of Judeans was one of state dependents and not of slaves. “In Babylonia, Jews were considered quite unusual; their belief in one invisible God stood in stark contrast to the Babylonians’ belief in multiple gods that could be seen and touched,” said Dr. Irving Finkel, an archaeologist of the British Museum during a recent lecture at the Bible Lands Museum. “Some of the best cuneiform tablets I have ever seen are in this collection,” added Dr. Finkel.

 

While many Jews returned to Jerusalem once the Persian King Cyrus the Great allowed them to do so in 539 BCE, many like Hagai and his family remained in Babylonia. As one of the longest surviving Jewish communities in the world, 2,500 years of Jewish history in Iraq came to an abrupt end when 130,000 Jews were evacuated to Israel during Operation Ezra and Nehemiah from 1949 to 1951. Today, there are five Jews left in Iraq. “For Jews of Iraqi heritage, this exhibit is especially meaningful,” added Weiss. By the Rivers of Babylon exhibit will be on display at the Bible Lands Museum Jerusalem throughout the next year.

 

CIJR Wishes All Our Friends and Supporters: Shabbat Shalom!

 

Contents                                                                                     

 

 

On Topic

 

Calgary’s Pro-Gaza Rioters Push for a Plea Deal (Video): Ezra Levant, Sun News, Feb. 12, 2015— Violent Pro-Gaza rioters who attacked a Jewish family in Calgary last spring attempt to work out a plea deal – will justice prevail?

Sephardi Community Remembers Hyper Cacher Victims: Sheri Shefa, Canadian Jewish News, Feb. 11, 2015— In a religious ceremony to mark the shloshim – the 30th day of mourning – in honour of the four Jewish victims of the Paris terror attack at the kosher supermarket, about 100 people gathered at Sephardic Kehila Centre in Thornhill on Feb. 10 to pay their respects.

Decades of Anti-Israel Hatemongering by Sweden’s Social Democrats: Manfred Gerstenfeld, CIJR, Feb. 6, 2015—Last month the Swedish foreign minister Margot Wahlstrom postponed her visit to Israel after foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman and other Israeli top officials refused to meet her

European Anti-Semitism Starts from the Top: Evelyn Gordon, Commentary, Feb. 11, 2015—The Obama administration’s inexplicable denial that last month’s attack on a kosher supermarket in Paris could possibly be anti-Semitic overshadowed yesterday’s other interesting tidbit from the anti-Semitism front: German Jewish organizations are furious because a blue-ribbon panel set up by the German government to advise it on fighting anti-Semitism doesn’t include a single Jew.

 

 

                                                                    

               

 

 

 

                      

                

                            

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 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.
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.

 

 

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

REMEMBERING SYRIA’S ANCIENT JEWISH COMMUNITY

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:

 

Tales of a Convicted Jew’s Escape From Syria: Michelle Devorah Kahn, National Post, Dec. 1, 2014— All it took to get from one end of the room to the other was a slight step forward.

The Woman Who Saved Syria’s Jews: Emma Beals, Daily Beast, Mar. 17, 2014— In Syria's three-year war, which is becoming more sectarian by the day, much has been made of the fate of the country's minorities.

One Muslim’s Quest to Save a Revered Syrian Synagogue: Adam Entous, Wall Street Journal, Dec. 1, 2014 — Maj. Avichay Adraee, an Israeli army spokesman, was taken aback when he received a message from a mysterious man writing from the heart of Syria’s bloody civil war.

Jewish Heritage Sites in Arab Counties Face Extinction: Ksenia Svetlov, Israel Hayom, Oct. 31, 2014— A large group of tourists gets off the brightly colored bus.

 

On Topic Links

 

A Brief History of the Syrian Jewish Community: Wall Street Journal, Dec. 1, 2014

The President's Plucky Persian Pal: Parody, Weekly Standard, Nov. 24, 2014

Right-Wing Ukrainian Leader Is (Surprise) Jewish, and (Real Surprise) Proud of It: Vladislav Davidzon, Tablet, Dec. 1, 2014

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

                                                  

                   

TALES OF A CONVICTED JEW’S ESCAPE FROM SYRIA                                 

Michelle Devorah Kahn                                                                                                 

National Post, Dec. 1, 2014

 

All it took to get from one end of the room to the other was a slight step forward. Every couple hours, a man would walk by his cell and spit on him. There was no food. There was no water. There was no light. There were no comforting words, only brief moments when hopeful thoughts would fleetingly pop into his head. From 1948 to 1950, my grandfather had one job: He was a prisoner; a convicted Jew. Joseph Avraham Esses was born on Oct. 16, 1919, in Aleppo, Syria. His father was a textile merchant and he was the eighth of 14 children. Although he enjoyed a happy childhood — filled with love, laughter and an abundance of Baklava — living side-by side with his Muslim Arab neighbours, things would take a turn for the worse. This was the point in his life he never spoke about; the point I was most curious about.

 

So in 2007, for a class project, I set up two chairs, directed a camera at my grandfather and interviewed him. My grandfather was a very closed and cautious man at the time, and after much debating and negotiating with him, I began to understand why. He explained to me that as the end of the 1940s approached, everything changed and the attitude towards the Jewish people, who were once the “brothers and sisters” of the Muslim Arabs, shifted greatly. At the time of the establishment of the State of Israel, my grandfather, then a young adult, owned and managed his own shop, selling clothing and incidentals (perfume, cologne, accessories, etc.).

 

One evening, after closing up his shop, he was walking home when three young Muslim men cornered him in the middle of the street and began beating him with their fists and whatever pathetic weapons they had (sticks, rocks, etc.) and shouting, “You want a country? You want a country?! Here is your country!” Along with the entire Jewish community of Aleppo, he witnessed many atrocities. Friends and family members often disappeared, never to be heard from or seen again, or were slaughtered during broad daylight for all to see. One incident involving a Jewish family man who was hiding from the Muslims, lead to his three young daughters being kidnapped from the marketplace and held captive for days, where they were tortured and ultimately killed. A few days later, their cut-up bodies were delivered to the family’s home and left on their doorstep in a sack.

 

Being Jewish became a crime and my grandfather was convicted of it. Men, women and children were often hung for this crime in the town square, as the Arabs cheered. My grandfather was luckier than most. He had established strong, positive relationships with both the Arabs and Jews over the years (professionally and socially), and boasted about having the son of Syria’s chief of police as his best friend. But, at the risk of appearing disloyal, everyone had no choice but to put aside their personal feelings for political ones. So my grandfather was allowed to live, but he was thrown in jail. Many were left in there for days on end, starved, tortured and belittled, and left to stand in dirt and feces. Even luckier for him was that his relationship with the Arabs secured him a nightly release, but each morning he was put back into that same jail cell. Never knowing if things would improve, or if they would continue to worsen, his family had no choice but to leave. Slowly, he began securing the escape of his younger siblings and his dear mother.

 

One night, being the final family member left, Joseph turned on all the house lights, left the radio at full blast, unlocked the front door and left forever. He escaped across the border into Lebanon with a fake passport, which listed his birthplace as Philadelphia. He left behind all his cherished family heirlooms, belongings, money and memories. When he crossed the border safely into Lebanon, he ran out from the vehicle, kissed the ground and began singing a song of freedom. This was not an easy interview for me to sit through. It was the first, and maybe the only, time he had ever spoken about this in his life. Most of my family didn’t know what I did. I knew he was in pain and I knew he was afraid of people knowing the truth. But I also knew I had a duty to my ancestors and my heritage to learn what really happened. I began interviewing other family members and gathering stories and photos. In the end, I had a full-length documentary on my grandfather’s life titled, Wanted: The Joseph Esses Story.

 

Recently, the Israeli Knesset designated Nov. 30 as Jewish Refugee Day — a national day of commemoration for the almost one million Jewish refugees forced to flee Arab lands and Iran. This date was chosen to commemorate the onset of anti-Jewish riots that began in November 1947, following the UN Partition Plan. Earlier this year, Canada formally recognized the plight of the 850,000 Jews who were expelled, or fled, from Arab countries after Israel’s founding. It is thrilling for me to know that my own grandfather is one of the many Jews who will be honoured. I am also grateful that I can share this day with him and remember all those who never made it out. My grandfather and I have become very close. We regularly get together for coffee and I tell him about my films, my friends and the dating scene in Toronto. Sometimes I think that I must sound so immature to him. I am complaining about mediocre things, such as how I hate the cold and wish I didn’t have to take the bus. But he always has this grin on his face; this chuckle waiting in the back pocket of his navy blue suit. I couldn’t put my finger on it before, but maybe it’s because one of those brief fleeting hopeful thoughts he had in his jail cell was that one day he would have the chance to worry about mediocre things, too.

 

                                                                       

Contents      

                                                                                                                            

THE WOMAN WHO SAVED SYRIA’S JEWS                                                         

Emma Beals

Daily Beast, Mar. 17, 2014

 

In Syria's three-year war, which is becoming more sectarian by the day, much has been made of the fate of the country's minorities. Christians, Druze and Kurds in the country have enjoyed more column inches dedicated to their plight over the last three years than ever before. But one Syrian minority is almost never spoken of—the Syrian Jews. “If they were there now, what would have happened? I know what would have happened. It would have been the slaughter of the Syrian Jewish community, that is for sure," says Judy Feld Carr matter-of-factly. Delving into why this slaughter never happened uncovers a story of spy-craft, subterfuge and tightly-kept secrets.

 

In the late 1970's, Feld Carr, a Canadian mother and musicologist, was reading a newspaper when she was struck by an article about 12 Syrian Jewish men who tried to escape into Turkey overland from Qamishli, in the north of the country. They stepped on a land mine and Syrian border guards watched them die. She was so moved by the story that she decided to track down members of Syria's Jewish community. She began cold-calling numbers in Syria until she eventually hit upon a contact. "I sent a telegram to the Rabbi in Damascus asking if he needed religious books and prepaid [for his response]." she explains. "Who would have ever believe, an answer came back with a shopping list! That was the beginning, the first opening since 1948."

 

In the decades following the creation of the state of Israel, Syria's Jewish community had become isolated, says Sarian Roffe, a historian of the Syrian Jewish community. "After Israel's creation that was it. They shut the doors because they didn't want people to go to Israel and fight against them," she says. "So the doors to leave Syria were closed and there was increased persecution."  There was also enforced segregation—Jewish residents of Damascus, Aleppo and Qamishli were forced to live only in certain neighborhoods and initially had to seek permission to travel further than three kilometers from their homes. Feld Carr's relationship with the Damascus Rabbi started to develop into more frequent coded telegrams and secret messages written into religious books. Eventually, she says, some members of the community managed to leave the country and meet with her. To do so, they had to leave family members behind as 'collateral'. "This one older couple came to meet me and told me what was happening in Syria." she explains. "Then somebody went to Aleppo in the north and asked me, 'Is there any way to get my brother out?' And that's how I started. It was crazy. I ransomed him. I started buying people!"

 

Now in her 70's, living in Ontario, Feld Carr tells the story with a delightful sense of astonishment that it ever took place. "Even I when I look back on it, I think the whole thing it was wild. But it worked, it worked!" she says about the mission that consumed 28 years of her life. One person turned into two and eventually she gave up her career to undertake the rescue operation, which saw her smuggling 3,228 people out of Syria before she finished—coincidentally on the day of the World Trade Center attacks. "I finished in 2011. The day of the Trade Center tragedy was my last family. The last ones who wanted to leave," Feld Carr says. For years her mission was a closely guarded secret. Even her close friends didn't know what she was doing. Funding was collected from private donors and people had to find her themselves; she never contacted them directly. They'd track her down through friends and family once they had exhausted every other available option. "I would be getting calls: 'Mrs. Judy, I have a mother, I have a sister, I have a child, can you do something to help? What can you do to get them out?' That's how these people came to me," she says. Even then, she was careful not to raise their expectations: "I never gave a promise that I was going to be able to do it, 'cause quite frankly, how did I know I would be able to do it? It depended about the secret police, it depended about the army, it depended on all kinds of situations inside the country."

 

Once they made contact, individuals left their fate in the hands of a Canadian woman they'd never met. Eventually, if they were lucky, they'd get a call. "They got a message, and my messages were all through an underground: 'Go now. In the next hour'. That's how it worked. They would leave everything they owned behind; their pictures, their clothing, everything. 'Just go now.'" The stress of having strangers' lives in her hands was immense. "You can imagine dealing with somebody's life that you don't know. What if I made a mistake? One mistake and somebody would be caught because of me. This was very difficult to deal with emotionally," she says. Despite the anguish, she was careful to maintain her responsibilities to her own children and ageing parents. She kept meticulous files on each person. An individual rescue could take months and she often had many in progress at once. As such, she needed to keep detailed records of everything she did. Each story was harrowing and she often had to split up families as she went. "I'll give you one example, it's like a Sophie's choice," she says. "I got the mother, father and kid into New York. The kid had cancer behind his eye. There were two little kids left behind. Then she had a baby in New York. She kept calling me and saying she's going back to Syria. She'd call me at least twice a week with a translator sobbing on the phone."…

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

 

                                                                       

Contents      

                                                                                                        

         

ONE MUSLIM’S QUEST TO SAVE A REVERED SYRIAN SYNAGOGUE          

Adam Entous                                                                                             

Wall Street Journal, Dec. 1, 2014 

                            

Maj. Avichay Adraee, an Israeli army spokesman, was taken aback when he received a message from a mysterious man writing from the heart of Syria’s bloody civil war. The man, a Sunni Muslim who created a Facebook page called “Jobar Synagogue,” said he was on a mission to preserve his town’s crown jewel, a centuries-old religious site venerated by the three major religions. Merely contacting the Israelis was an act that could have put his life in danger. “If we do not move fast to protect this historical heritage, it will be lost forever,” he wrote to the Israeli major, via Facebook.

 

The exchange last year was part of a frantic mission to rescue the synagogue, located in the battle-worn Damascus suburb of Jobar. The man behind the Facebook page, who uses the nom de guerre Abbas Abu Suleiman, got the attention of rabbis in Israel and New York, Syrian exiles in Washington and a Manhattan diamond-district salesman who visited the synagogue as a boy. Mr. Suleiman hoped the Jewish community would intervene with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad not only to save the site, but to halt the bombardment of his hometown. Safeguarding a part of Syria’s multicultural religious heritage, he hoped, might help the country rebuild whenever the war was over. Maj. Adraee gets as many as 18,000 Facebook messages each day, many berating him for Israel’s policies toward its neighbors. After receiving Mr. Suleiman’s plea, he didn’t know what to think. Was this man an ally? An opportunist? He replied to the Facebook message with a question mark. Others contacted by Mr. Suleiman had a similar reaction. Jewish leaders on two continents worried about, among other things, whether intervening would endanger the tiny community of aging Jews remaining in Syria.

 

This account of Mr. Suleiman’s quest is based on interviews with him on Skype, transcripts of his Facebook chats and discussions with Muslim and Jewish leaders in the U.S., Syria and Israel. Mr. Suleiman asked The Wall Street Journal not to disclose his real name. The Eliyahu Hanavi Synagogue in Jobar has been part of Jewish life in Syria for centuries. An inscription that for years was part of the synagogue’s wall described it as the shrine of the Prophet Eliyahu Hanavi since 720 B.C. The synagogue has been rebuilt many times over the years, according to the chief rabbi of the Syrian Jews, Avraham Hamra. Of Damascus’s 22 synagogues, the one in Jobar is the most revered because it was built atop a cave where, according to religious teachings, the prophet Eliyahu concealed himself to avoid persecution. Muslims and Christians regard Eliyahu as a prophet, making the site one of the few in Syria revered by all three religions. Before the civil war, Jews, Muslims and Christians would visit the synagogue and take turns descending into the cave to pray. Inside was a stone chair believed to have been used by Eliyahu. Syrians of different faiths believed saying a prayer in the cave would bless a new business venture and safeguard their health, Rabbi Hamra said. In the early 20th century, an estimated 25,000 Jews lived in Syria, split between Damascus and Aleppo, according to Abraham Marcus, a professor of Middle Eastern history at the University of Texas at Austin. The Jews of Syria began to leave in the early 1900s. The exodus accelerated before the founding of Israel in 1948.

 

Today, Rabbi Hamra said, there are 17 Jews left in Damascus and probably none in Aleppo, making it Syria’s smallest known religious minority. Nine are men, one short of a minyan, the quorum of 10 Jewish male adults required for certain religious obligations. All the Jews in Damascus are 60 years old or older.

Syria’s Jews have a complex relationship with the Assad regime. Many see him as a protector, and the opposition, dominated by groups aligned with al Qaeda, as the real threat. Government agents monitor the nation’s Jews, according to rabbis and government defectors, which circumscribes what they can do or say.

When Mr. Suleiman started his quest, Jobar was under the control of opposition forces, as it still is. Groups operating there included the Western-backed Free Syrian Army as well as the Nusra Front, which has ties to al Qaeda. Jobar and other eastern Damascus suburbs are strategically significant as gateways to the capital, and have seen heavy fighting.

 

In the security vacuum, thieves in Jobar looted the synagogue, taking prayer books, scrolls and the ornate interior doors, local activists say. On one occasion, members of the FSA rescued some of the stolen items. Local activists set up a special committee to protect the synagogue. Mr. Suleiman says he volunteered to take the lead. In peaceful times, the synagogue had attracted visitors from Syria and beyond. More than just a religious site, it put Jobar on the map. For the sake of the town, residents believed they needed to save it. Before the war, Mr. Suleiman had worked as a manager at his family’s factory. He had lived in Jobar for his whole life but had never gone inside the synagogue until the summer of 2012, when he decided to help protect it. Local Jobar leaders locked the doors and posted guards outside. On June 10 of last year, Mr. Suleiman posted a message, using his Jobar Synagogue account, on the Arabic-language Facebook page of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. He explained what leaders in Jobar were doing to secure the site and asked whom they could contact about the antiquities. He got no response. He messaged Maj. Adraee, the Israeli Defence Force’s Arabic-language spokesman, later that month. “I tried to connect to many different entities and sources but with no luck,” he said in one message. Next, he contacted Amine Helwani, one of Damascus’s 17 remaining Jews. Mr. Helwani and his brother used to visit the synagogue to make sure everything was in order, according to Rabbi Hamra. Mr. Helwani replied in a series of Facebook messages. He said the war prevented anyone making the drive across town. He asked about an old Torah scroll and about the condition of the rugs. Mr. Suleiman said he couldn’t find the Torah scroll, and that he had rolled up the rugs to protect them…

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

 

                                                                        Contents                                                                         

                      

                       

JEWISH HERITAGE SITES IN ARAB COUNTIES FACE EXTINCTION       

Ksenia Svetlov                                          

Israel Hayom, Oct. 31, 2014

 

A large group of tourists gets off the brightly colored bus. The waters of the nearby Euphrates River flow gently in the shade of the palm trees that adorn both banks. The local children run over to sell souvenirs and water bottles to the tourists. Welcome to Al Kifl, a small town southeast of Baghdad and the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, where tradition says that the grave of the biblical Prophet Ezekiel is located. After a brief visit, the bus takes you to the northern part of the country, to the Assyrian city of Kush, where the grave of the Prophet Nahum is said to be located. Then it will take you to Mosul so you can pray at what is believed to be the final resting place of the Prophet Daniel, according to Jewish, Christian and Muslim tradition.

 

This could have been the picture of Jewish tourism in Iraq, the ancient home to many of the Bible's characters. Until the American invasion of Iraq in 2003, it was still possible to dream of a celebration at the grave of Nahum, or of prayer services at the grave of Ezekiel and a visit to the Jewish quarter in Baghdad.

But those who had dreamed of a better future in Iraq after the fall of Saddam Hussein have had a rude awakening. The new Iraq has treated its own heritage — the Babylonian, Christian, Muslim and, of course, Jewish — with sheer brutality, and far worse than the old Iraq ever did. Terrorism on a daily basis, religious fanaticism and a weak and corrupt government — all these have led to the utter ruin of human life and of important heritage sites all over the country.

 

As the sound of an explosion rips through the air, another golden dome of an ancient Shiite mosque falls into the building. Another museum is looted by Islamic State terrorists; another ancient Jewish home is consumed by flames. The mosques in the important Shiite city of Najaf were demolished countless times by Sunni terrorists; the Baghdad Museum was looted; and the remnants of American tanks now riddle the ancient city of Babylon. This chaos has made the fate of the Jewish sites all too predictable. While several synagogues are still standing in Baghdad, Ezekiel's Tomb has been turned into a mosque. Most of the ancient Jewish inscriptions there have been destroyed or covered with cement. Daniel's Tomb in Mosul was blown up by Islamic State, which opposes worship at tombs in general, whether they are the tombs of Jewish prophets or relatives of the Prophet Muhammad in Mecca and Medina. In other areas, Islamic State and other jihadist groups are destroying sites held sacred by Shiites, including magnificent mosques, as well as Christian churches.

 

The atmosphere destruction has reached Syria as well. Aleppo's historic market suffered severe damage recently, together with the Umayyad mosque in Damascus and many Jewish sites. The Jobar Synagogue in Damascus, also known as the Prophet Elijah Synagogue, was demolished in May 2014. The site is in ruins, and no one will do anything to save what remains of the beautiful building that the Jewish community constructed in the Middle Ages. Almost 20 years ago, the manuscripts known as the Damascus Codices, books of the Hebrew Bible that were written in Tiberias in the 10th century C.E., were removed from the Hosh al-Basha Synagogue in Damascus and taken out of Syria in a daring Mossad operation. They are now in the National Library in Jerusalem, far from those who dream of the destruction of books and people alike.

 

In a time when large areas of Iraq and Syria are controlled by fanatics, at the peak of a bloody civil war, it is hard to get a clear picture of the state of the Jewish heritage sites in those regions. Still, Professor Shmuel Moreh of the Hebrew University, an Israel Prize laureate in Arabic literature, a native of Baghdad, and the author of the book "My Beloved Baghdad," speaks of a group of courageous Iraqis who took on the difficult mission to document the damage done to Jewish holy sites, synagogues and cemeteries, and to the residential neighborhoods of one of the oldest Jewish communities in the Middle East. "Our friends, Shiites and Sunnis, most of them academics employed in universities in Iraq, writers and poets, are documenting what is going on in their country for us," Moreh said. "When news about 'renovations' at Ezekiel's Tomb appeared in the Arabic press, we sent a few friends to Al Kifl, and they brought sketches and photographs of the place. As it turns out, the Shiites destroyed the Hebrew inscriptions under the guise of renovations, and turned the place into a mosque."…

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

 

CIJR Wishes All Our Friends & Supporters: Shabbat Shalom!

 

Contents           

 

On Topic

 

A Brief History of the Syrian Jewish Community: Wall Street Journal, Dec. 1, 2014—Syria used to be home to a vibrant Jewish community.

The President's Plucky Persian Pal: Parody, Weekly Standard, Nov. 24, 2014—Dear Barack: Peace be with you, too!

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.

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

 

 

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

ASA’S ANTI-ISRAEL BOYCOTT BIGOTRY, U.S.’S IRAQI JEWISH ARCHIVES, & PRE-MODERN JEWISH SELF-GOVERNMENT

We welcome your comments to this and any other CIJR publication. Please address your response to:  Rob Coles, Publications Chairman, Canadian Institute for Jewish Research, PO Box 175, Station  H, Montreal QC H3G 2K7 – Tel: (514) 486-5544 – Fax:(514) 486-8284; E-mail: rob@isranet.org

 

 

 Contents:         

 

Boycotting Israeli Universities: A Victory for Bigotry: Alan M. Dershowitz, Ha’aretz, Dec. 17, 2013 — The American Studies Association has just issued its first ever call for an academic boycott.

Boycott Me. Please: Martin Kramer, Foreign Policy, Dec. 20, 2013 — I am now subject to a boycott by the American Studies Association (ASA), an organization of professors that includes roughly 5,000 members.

U.S. Should Not Send Iraqi Jewish Archives to be Destroyed in Iraq: Nabil Al-Haidari, Gatestone Institute, Dec. 18, 2013 —  This fall, two Iraqi experts travelled to the U.S. to study the archival material of Iraq's former Jewish community, in order to prepare measures of conserving it so that they can take care of the archive when it is returned to Iraq.

Jewish Self-Government in Europe Was Not Just a Dream—It Was a Failure: Moshe Rosman, Tablet, Dec. 16, 2013— The Council of Four Lands (Va’ad Arba Aratzot) was the most elaborate and highly developed institutional structure in European Jewish history

 

On Topic Links

 

Some Lessons in Effective Scapegoating: Jeffrey Goldberg, Bloomberg, Dec. 16, 2013

Discovery and Recovery: Preserving Iraqi Jewish Heritage (Online Exhibition): U.S. National Archives, Nov., 2013

Discovery and Recovery: Behind the Scenes Work on the Iraqi Jewish Archive: U.S. National Archives, 2013

 

BOYCOTTING ISRAELI UNIVERSITIES: A VICTORY FOR BIGOTRY                                                                                  

Alan M. Dershowitz          

Ha’aretz, Dec. 17, 2013

                                                           

The American Studies Association has just issued its first ever call for an academic boycott. No, it wasn’t against China, which imprisons dissenting academics. It wasn’t against Iran which executes dissenting academics. It wasn’t against Russia whose universities fire dissenting academics. It wasn’t against Cuba whose universities have no dissenting academics. It wasn’t against Saudi Arabia, whose academic institutions refuse to hire women, gay or Christian academics. Nor was it against the Palestinian Authority, whose colleges refuse to allow open discourse regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. No, it was against only academic institutions in the Jewish State of Israel, whose universities have affirmative action programs for Palestinian students and who boast a higher level of academic freedom than almost any country in the world.

 

When the association was considering this boycott I issued a challenge to its members, many of whom are historians. I asked them to name a single country in the history of the world faced with threats comparable to those Israel faces that has had a better record of human rights, a higher degree of compliance with the rule of law, a more demanding judiciary, more concern for the lives of enemy civilians, or more freedom to criticize the government, than the State of Israel. Not a single member of the association came up with a name of a single country. That is because there are none. Israel is not perfect, but neither is any other country, and Israel is far better than most. If an academic group chooses to engage in the unacademic exercise of boycotting the academic institutions of another country, it should do it in order of the seriousness of the human rights violations and of the inability of those within the country to seek redress against those violations. By these standards, Israeli academic institutions should be among the last to be boycotted…

 

China occupies Tibet, Russia occupies Chechnya and several other countries occupy Kurdish lands. In those cases no offers have been made to end the occupation. Yet no boycotts have been directed against the academic institutions of those occupying countries. When the President of the American Studies Association, Curtis Marez, an associate professor of ethnic studies at The University of California, was advised that many nations, including all of Israel’s neighbors, behave far worse than Israel, he responded, “One has to start somewhere.” This boycott, however, has not only started with Israel. It will end with Israel. Marez’s absurd comment reminds me of the bigoted response made by Harvard’s notorious anti-Semitic president A. Laurence Lowell, when he imposed anti-Jewish quotas near the beginning of the twentieth century. When asked why he singled out Jews for quotas, he replied, “Jews cheat.” When the great Judge Learned Hand reminded him that Christians cheat too, Lowell responded, “You’re changing the subject. We are talking about Jews now.”

 

You would think that historians and others who belong to the American Studies Association would understand that in light of the history of discrimination against Jews, you can’t just pick the Jewish State and Jewish universities as the place to “start” and stop. The American Studies Association claims that it is not boycotting individual Israeli professors, but only the universities at which they teach. That is a nonsensical word game, since no self-respecting Israeli professor would associate with an organization that singled out Israeli colleges and universities for a boycott. Indeed, no self-respecting American professor should in any way support the bigoted actions of this association…

 

Shame on those members of the American Studies Association for singling out the Jew among nations. Shame on them for applying a double standard to Jewish universities. Israeli academic institutions are strong enough to survive this exercise in bigotry. The real question is will this association survive its complicity with the oldest and most enduring prejudice?

Contents
                                       

BOYCOTT ME. PLEASE                                                     

Martin Kramer                                          

Foreign Policy, Dec. 20, 2013

 

I am now subject to a boycott by the American Studies Association (ASA), an organization of professors that includes roughly 5,000 members. The resolution, passed by the organization's rank-and-file on Dec. 15, supposedly doesn't apply to individuals, but it applies to me. The ASA explains: "The American Studies Association understands boycott as limited to a refusal on the part of the ASA in its official capacities to enter into formal collaborations with Israeli academic institutions, or with scholars who are expressly serving as representatives or ambassadors of those institutions (such as deans, rectors, presidents and others) … until Israel ceases to violate human rights and international law." Since I am the president of Shalem College in Jerusalem, an accredited Israeli academic institution, I'm clearly subject to the ASA boycott. And while my fledgling liberal arts college doesn't have any "formal collaborations" with the ASA, it's the thought that counts.

 

So just what was the ASA thinking? I don't follow American studies — my field is the Middle East — and until this episode, I hadn't heard of the organization. What I know about such associations comes from the Middle East Studies Association (MESA), an organization of scholars who study the region. Needless to say, MESA has had plenty of boycott advocates among its leadership and rank-and-file. A few years back, they tried to pull MESA onto the boycott cart, but they failed. Boycott advocates haven't tried since, and for good reason: There are just too many people in MESA who know something about the Middle East. And by those standards, it's not self-evident that Israel should be singled out and boycotted for its supposed transgressions. All you have to do is peruse the "intervention letters" sent by MESA's Committee on Academic Freedom. These letters-in-a-bottle to the likes of Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan protesting dismissals and show trials of scholars and police violence on campuses are a pretty good indicator of where academic freedom in the Middle East is truly imperiled.

 

ASA president Curtis Marez acknowledged that some countries in the region have worse human rights records than Israel. However, he then justified the boycott with the unforgettable claim that "one has to start somewhere." If you know nothing about the Middle East, and have made a studied effort not to know more, you might think that "somewhere" is Israel. That's because Israel and the Palestinians get outsized attention — in America. The crimes of others are ignored: What Syrians do to Syrians, Egyptians do to Egyptians, and Iranians do to Iranians — especially to professors — just isn't compelling news, no matter how horrific. In that sense, the boycott resolution perfectly mirrors the U.S.-centric bias of the ASA: Everything over the horizon, beyond the continental scope of "American studies," is just a vague blur of media caricatures…

 

I'm not exactly sure what I should do to get myself off the ASA's blacklist. The organization posed this very question in an explainer about its decision, and could only conclude: "This is a difficult question to answer. The boycott is designed to put real and symbolic pressure on universities to take an active role in ending the Israeli occupation and in extending equal rights to Palestinians." Although this isn't an answer at all, it suggests that I should abandon what I believe under pressure — acting not out of conviction, but out of fear for the fate of my institution. Instead of speaking truth, I am supposed to distort my truth. The boycott presumes that I am akin to a widget exporter, so focused on my bottom line that I can be turned into a lobby for just about any cause with the sufficient application of "pressure."

 

Here is the fatal flaw in the boycott's design: If I, as a scholar, were to change my tune under "pressure," my credibility would be rightly destroyed, and I would lose my power to convince anyone of anything. Let's say that I'm on a first-name basis with a few Israeli cabinet ministers (I am). According to the boycott's strategy, I should request a meeting with each of them, and tell them it is time to "end the occupation and extend equal rights to Palestinians." "Why?" they would ask. What has changed since the last time we had a conversation? In the past, I spoke out of conviction, in terms of what would best serve the interests of the State of Israel and the Jewish people. So why should they give a whit if, now, I tell them I speak out of fear for the standing of one institution, cherished though it may be? I would not only be unconvincing, I would become contemptible in the eyes of others and, above all, myself.

 

So I regret to inform the ASA that I will not knuckle under. I would sooner resign my presidency than alter, by one iota, my considered view of what is best for Israel. I may not be right (especially by the standards of the ASA resolution, which, if Peter Beinart's assessment is correct, implies that the best thing for Israel would be its total dissolution). But it is my truth, arrived at freely, and the suggestion that I might be pressured into distorting it presumes that I, and my fellow heads of Israeli universities, lack all intellectual integrity. To which my reply is: Boycott me. Please.

 

While we languish under boycott, Shalem College will continue to do our best to bring to Israel the benefits of an American-style education. Ours is the first institution in Israel to find inspiration in the American tradition of the small liberal arts college. Shalem Press, our scholarly imprint, has commissioned and published outstanding Hebrew translations of The Federalist Papers, Thomas Paine's Common Sense, and Alexis de Toqueville's Democracy in America. These works are now assigned in dozens of university courses throughout Israel. We will continue to bring the most important American ideas to Israeli readers in Hebrew. And we will continue to teach our Israeli undergraduates the fundamental ideals behind the world's greatest democracy, and their origins and resonance in the Jewish tradition. Boycott or not.

 

                                            Contents
                                  

U.S. SHOULD NOT SEND IRAQI JEWISH ARCHIVES

TO BE DESTROYED IN

IRAQ                                                                                                                Nabil Al-Haidari

Gatestone Institute, Dec. 18, 2013

 

This fall, two Iraqi experts travelled to the U.S. to study the archival material of Iraq's former Jewish community, in order to prepare measures of conserving it so that they can take care of the archive when it is returned to Iraq. At present, work is progressing rapidly in the branch archives in College Park by a team of experts with high-tech equipment for cleaning and restoration and digitization of records and documents. It is strange that there is much talk today about sending the Jewish archives next year to the Iraqi Department of Antiquities in Baghdad, although it is not clear where it is to be kept or exhibited. The question is: How can the archives be sent back to Iraq without real guarantees for its preservation, maintenance and access, particularly as the government claims it has multiples of that volume in Iraq? If so, why does the government not fully conserve and maintain the already existing volumes and then place them in museums and exhibit them so they can be of use? The other question is: Where are the rights of the Jews of Iraq today? If the Iraqi government acknowledges their great history, it should return to them their citizenship, first and foremost. In the First Interfaith Conference convened in Suleimania last year this author demanded that they be given their parliamentary seats, just like other religions, then have returned to them all property and assets unjustly and wrongfully plundered, and be compensated for the great losses they suffered. How can the archive be returned without its true owners? Such a act is unreasonable and unacceptable.

 

The Iraqi Jewish archive includes a large number of valuables, pictures and documents of the Jews of Iraq. The archive was kept by the previous regime in terrible conditions, partially immersed in water and exposed to damage. It was discovered by U.S. forces accidentally while searching for weapons of mass destruction. The archive was found in a flooded basement cellar and managed to be collected and dispatched to the National Archives in the United States for restoration, maintenance and preservation. The Jews of Iraq, almost all of whom either fled the country or were killed, contend that the archive should not be sent to Baghdad, and are demanding that the U.S. authorities not to hand over the documents to the Iraqi government.  Today there remain in Iraq only seven Jews, according to the New York Times, whereas they once made up a third of the population of Baghdad, according to Mir Basri in his book about the Jews of Iraq, in which wrote about more than 100 individuals who contributed to building modern Iraq.

 

If there are still many Iraqis who regard Jews — and now Christians who are being massacred — as less than human, why should they regard their archives as worth more? The truth is that the Holy Quran considers the Jews as people of the book, and Moses is their prophet to whom God gave the Torah. There are dozens of verses that favor them in the Quran, such as the verse "we gave the people of Israel the book, the wisdom, the prophecy and provided them with sustenance and exalted them among the nations of the world". And the Quran described the Torah as light and guidance from Allah. Many of the shrines of Jewish prophets are still in Iraq, such as that of the Prophet Nahum, in the village of Alqosh near Mosul; the Prophet Heskel [Ezekiel] in the village of Kifl near Hilla; Ezra in Qurna where the two rivers meet; Joshua in Al-Karkh in Baghdad; Daniel in Kirkuk close to the castle; Ezair in Basra in an area called by his name; as well as countless other personalities and scholars. These people should be honored, celebrated and glorified as they live on in the hearts and minds of the honorable and the faithful. History underlines their achievements in letters of gold immortal through the ages.

 

A meeting was convened in London by a large number of Iraqi Jews, there were demands that their archives be kept outside Iraq; they include an important part of their heritage, their history, their life and their personalities. Already, one man has claimed that some of these documents refer to him personally, and as such he is the sole owner and that they have been seized from him unjustly and wrongfully. According to Dr. Harold Rhode, the archives — which are scheduled to be returned to the Iraqi government in June — are stolen property to begin with; sending them to back Iraq would be like sending back to Germany property stolen from the Jews by the Nazis. At the meeting, Edwin Shuker spoke of the archive and its importance, displaying a number of documents transferred from Iraq to America in 2003. They had been found in the underground cellar of the Iraqi Intelligence Center, immersed in water and about to disintegrate save for the last-minute efforts of the U.S. Army.

 

One of the most important items displayed by Shuker was his own school certificate that he said is part of his history, his life, his core relationship and his love for Baghdad, where he recalls his little house in the Batawin area. The archive contains many such personal documents, for example, a photograph of Farah Sheena, aged thirteen, a young girl with dark hair, taken during her studies at the intermediate school in Baghdad, where she was an elite student. According to her brother, Sami Sheena, Farah died of cancer in England in 1968, at the age of 29, leaving behind a husband and two small children. Doris Hamburg, Director of Programs for the Preservation of Archives, said that the record of Farah Sheena was one among nearly 2,700 books and tens of thousands of documents retrieved from the destroyed cellar of the secret police in Baghdad. Also discovered was a 400 year-old Hebrew Bible, a 200-year-old Talmud originally from Vienna; and a small Passover Haggadah, kept by the former Iraqi regime but stored in a despicable state, exposed to damage and flooding. There was also a French prayer book dating back to 1930, and a collection of beautifully printed speeches by a Rabbi in Germany from the year 1692. There are also folders filled with school records of students from 1920 to 1975.

 

Most of the Jews were forced out of Iraq by means of the farhud [seizing of property, pogrom] murder, imprisonment and withdrawal of citizenship, leaving behind traces of a rich history dating back 2,500 years. The archive shows clearly that the Jews were immensely distinguished in various political, social and economic fields. There is no doubt that Iraq owes a lot to the Jews of Iraq in terms of its history, development and prosperity. In contemporary history, to name a few, Sir Sasson Heskel, one of the best 20th century finance ministers of the Middle East, and the first finance minister who served Iraq with distinction. Among other accomplishments, he negotiated with Great Britain for oil revenue payments be made in gold instead of paper currency — a far-sighted request since soon after, the currency depreciated and gold climbed to considerable heights. He was bitterly mourned by many; the poet Ma'rouf Al- Risaffi said: "Do not say he died/ But that fine men lost a star/ We lost in a darkly night /The master of Parliament when he speaks."…

 

A petition was written to the U.S. Administration; it was signed by many attendees, appealing to the Administration not to return the archives to Iraq, as they constituted a natural right of Iraqi Jews after all the tribulations, tragedies, displacement and suffering that they had endured. This intervention represents a call for preserving this history and its glories, as well as striving to restore usurped rights for a community with a brilliant 3000 year history that has exceeded the Muslims and Christians. A great history of three thousand years cannot be erased by fifty years of suffering, distress and displacement, and will remain immortal written in letters of gold — good people of various religions and sects coexisted together and intermarried and lived with affection, integration, harmony and peace. The place of the United States is to save a heritage, not to be complicit in destroying it

 

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Contents

 

JEWISH SELF-GOVERNMENT IN EUROPE WAS NOT JUST A DREAM—

IT WAS A FAILURE

Moshe Rosman

Tablet, Dec. 16, 2013

 

The Council of Four Lands (Va’ad Arba Aratzot) was the most elaborate and highly developed institutional structure in European Jewish history—a national council or parliament that existed from the mid-16th century to the 18th and whose decisions affected the lives of hundreds of thousands of Jews and sought to coordinate the policies and actions of hundreds of communities in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. Born in the last quarter of the 16th century out of congresses of religious leaders and elders during great fairs in civic centers such as Lublin, the central institution emerged to serve local groups as supreme legislative, administrative, and—sometimes—judicial body.

 

In the absence of Jewish sovereignty anywhere in the world, the Council of Four Lands (usually connoting as well the Council of Lithuania with which it often worked in concert) served both as a reminder of Jewish sovereignty in the past and as a harbinger of the promised messianic Jewish state of the future. As the wine merchant and memoirist Ber of Bolechow, an 18th-century Polish Jew, noted: “This [Council] was for the Children of Israel a measure of Redemption and a bit of honor.” Communication between the Va’ad (council) and Jewish communities outside of Poland was not standard or even commonplace, so its decisions and actions became known abroad only serendipitously. The very fact of its existence, however, aroused feelings of admiration. Rabbi Avraham Halevi, who lived in Egypt in the early 18th century asserted: “Poland is a great city of God and every pronouncement made there is spread to all the cities of Ashkenaz.” The Sephardi rabbis of Amsterdam wrote to the Va’ad, in 1671, addressing their letter to those whose “fortress [authority] extends over the entire community of the Exile.”

 

It is noteworthy that these foreign observers spoke as if the Va’ad were a rabbinic body, or at least one led or dominated by rabbis. The sources make it clear, however, that the Va’ad’s members and leaders were mostly laymen and its authority did not derive from rabbinic sanction. For most of its existence, even rabbis who did sit on the Va’ad did so as representatives of their communities and not by virtue of their rabbinic office or training. Recent scholarship may have created an optical illusion that might make it easy for determined secularists, anti-Zionists, and modern-day Haredim alike to anachronistically imagine the Council of the Four Lands as a quasi-democratic body that functioned on European soil without instruments of coercion and without the bothersome trappings of a state—an alternate model for Jewish autonomy, outside the Middle East.

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

 

CIJR wishes all its friends and supporters Shabbat Shalom!

 

                                            Contents

 

Some Lessons in Effective Scapegoating: Jeffrey Goldberg, Bloomberg, Dec. 16, 2013 — In the matter of the American Studies Association's just-ratified boycott of Israeli academic institutions, one must be thankful that the organization’s president, Curtis Marez, is something of a dolt.

Discovery and Recovery: Preserving Iraqi Jewish Heritage (Online Exhibition): U.S. National Archives, Nov., 2013 — On May 6, 2003, the 16 American soldiers from Mobile Exploitation Team Alpha, a group assigned to search for nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons, entered the flooded intelligence headquarters. The basement housed thousands of documents and books that were under four feet of water.

Discovery and Recovery: Behind the Scenes Work on the Iraqi Jewish Archive (Video): U.S. National Archives, 2013

                                                                                           

On Topic

 

 

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.

 

 

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

IRAQ: OIL RELATED INSTABILITY – GROWING TENSIONS: INTRA-SHI’ITE, BETWEEN SHI’ITE AND SUNNI, & BETWEEN ARABS & KURDS

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.)

 

Sadr and Maliki Battle Over Iraqi Oil: Ali Abdel Sadah, Al-Monitor, Jan 3, 2013—At long last, the political rivalry between the Dawa Party — led by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki — and the Shiite leader Muqtada al-Sadr has been renewed.

 

Will Kurdistan’s Energy Wealth Lead to the Next Iraq War?: Jay Newton-Small, Time World, Dec. 18, 2012—Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki was infuriated when Kurdistan began inking its own oil contracts – including some in disputed areas — with Exxon, France’s Total, Russia’s Gazprom and Chervron.

 

Iraq Could Dissolve Parliament in 48 Hours, Sources Say: Paul D. Shinkman, US News, January 4, 2013—In a move that could draw Iraq back into the throws of religious infighting and potential civil war, the fledgling Baghdad government may be on the brink of dissolving parliament within days, a source tell U.S. News.

 

On Topic Links
 

 

Sadr Allies With Sunnis in Challenge to Maliki: Mushreq Abbas, Al-Monitor, Jan 6, 2013

The Redacted Iraqi Jews: Nabil Al-Hadairi, Gatestone Institute, Dec 27, 2012

The Steep Price of American Disengagement: Max Boot, Commentary, Dec. 1, 2012

Both Sides Have Too Much to Lose in Arab-Kurd Rivalry: Ranj Alaaldin, The National, Dec 7, 2012

Iraq Needs Inclusive Governance: Editorial, Gulf News, Dec 28, 2012

Kurdistan’s Vast Reserves Draw Oil Majors: Guy Chazan, Financial Times, Jan 7, 2013

32 Pilgrims Killed by Bombings in Central Iraq: Yasir Ghazi & Christine Hauser, New York Times, Jan 3, 2013

China’s Oil Quest Comes to Iraq: J. Michael Cole, The Diplomat, Dec 2, 2012

 

 

SADR AND MALIKI BATTLE OVER IRAQI OIL

Ali Abdel Sadah

Al-Monitor, Jan 3, 2013

 

At long last, the political rivalry between the Dawa Party — led by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki — and the Shiite leader Muqtada al-Sadr has been renewed. This comes against the backdrop of the prime minister rejecting a proposal made by Sadr’s followers in parliament which called for the insertion of a clause into the 2013 budget that would distribute a portion of the surplus from oil revenues as cash dividends to Iraqi citizens.

 

Baha al-Araji, head of the Sadr-affiliated Ahrar Bloc in parliament, was visibly upset at a news conference in early December 2012, due to the lawsuit Maliki won against the oil surplus dividends clause. That day he said, "Maliki is responsible for starving the Iraqis." He also expressed his support for the proposal of his leader, Muqtada al-Sadr, which included providing $233 to every citizen and around 40,000 jobs for unemployed youth. Immediately following the decision, Sadr’s supporters took to the streets protesting against Maliki in the capital city of Baghdad, as well as in Najaf — Sadr's stronghold — and cities in the central and southern Euphrates regions. The Sadrists chanted angrily condemning Maliki, saying that he is attacking their leader. Those scenes churned up old memories of the long quarrel that had formerly persisted between the two sides.

 

There are marked differences between the Dawa Party and the Sadrist Movement. The majority of Sadr’s followers have considered Maliki an enemy ever since he led the 2008 Charge of the Knights, which was the harshest security crackdown the country had seen against the Mahdi Army — Sadr’s armed wing — and killed hundreds of his followers and imprisoned many more. Ever since the clampdown, which took a heavy toll on the city of Basra, the relationship between the two sides has taken on a vengeful dimension.

 

The fierce competition for leadership of the Shiites brings an additional dimension to their rivalry. For whereas the Dawa Party has successfully remained in power and presents an institutionalized model of leadership, the Sadrist Movement continues to increase in influence due to the widespread support it enjoys among the poor, unemployed youth whose zealous opposition to Maliki grows increasingly radical….

 

The Sadrist public is preoccupied with the religious details concerning Shiite leadership and authority; meanwhile the political elite of the Sadrist Movement are still considering taking a swing at Maliki.

The movement has demands it describes as final and necessary if the dispute with Maliki is to be resolved. It makes note of the dozens of Sadr’s followers in government prisons, in addition to ambitious demands to gain access to sensitive positions in the security apparatus. Sadr still carries the bad memories of 2008 with him and strives to rein in Maliki, sooner or later.

 

Sadr has also been subjected to significant political shake-ups, which are almost to be expected given his broad base of supporters. One especially controversial shake-up occurred after the 2010 elections, when his Sadrist Movement granted Maliki voting powers in parliament in order to receive a comfortable majority with which to form a government….

 

Past volatility ensures that any alliance between Sadr and Maliki will always be shaky, but they have not permanently separated either. Ministers from the Sadrist Movement still work with Maliki. Both sides are motivated to bury the hatchet because of their entrenched historical interest to keep Shiites at the helm. Fears over the collapse of the Shiite alliance, which would benefit the Sunnis, trouble Sadr and Maliki equally. In fact, these fears among the Shiite leaders, as the sect which acquired power after Saddam Hussein, force Maliki and Sadr to — if only temporarily — put aside their differences and maintain unity among the Shiites, lest the Sunnis depose them.

 

But within this coalition there is still hitting below the belt, which has begun to take on a variety of shapes with the approaching provincial elections scheduled for April 2013. The latest manifestation of which was the controversy surrounding the oil surplus dividends. The row over the oil surplus dividends began back in September 2011, when Sadr told Maliki’s government that he would postpone his followers’ mass demonstration against the poor quality of utilities if Maliki promised to distribute 25% of the surplus revenues to Iraqis and to create at least 50,000 jobs for the unemployed.

 

In February 2012, Iraq's parliament approved the budget, worth about $100 billion. Two days before the voting session, on Feb. 23, the Sadrist Movement said it would withdraw its vote unless the clause authorizing the dividends proposal was included. Over the past year, information has been scarce as to the size of the surplus. However, Araji related in his press conference that — according to Finance Minister Rafi al-Issawi — it is estimated to be around $20 million.

 

Meanwhile, statistics concerning benefits for the retired and job opportunities for the youth are beginning to appear that reek of electoral pandering. The latter may be an attempt to prevent bringing real development to the service sectors. Iraqi civil society activists are finding that the rivalry between political forces impedes legislation that would pump money into Iraq’s vital sectors upon which people’s lives depend.

 

Study of the evolution of the story surrounding the dividends proposal leads one to conclude what Haider al-Abadi — a leader in the Dawa Party and head of the Finance Committee in parliament — concluded when he said that the distribution of dividends depends on the consent of the ministries of finance and planning. He made this statement to journalists in May, three months after the Sadrist Movement’s announcement of the legislative approval of the proposal. Abadi had said, “There are those who want to advance special interests at the expense of citizens, manipulate the emotions of the masses, and character assassinate political figures for their own purposes." His message seemed to be directed at the Sadrists. With campaigning bound to start soon, the bitterness and scope of the rivalry within the alliance is plain to see…..

 

Ali Abdel Sadah, a writer and journalist from Baghdad, is a contributing writer for Al-Monitor’s Iraq Pulse. 

Top of Page

 

 

WILL KURDISTAN’S ENERGY WEALTH LEAD TO THE NEXT IRAQ WAR?

Jay Newton-Small

Time World, Dec. 18, 2012

 

Playing tourists in one of the world’s most dangerous cities is not how we imagined we’d end up spending Tuesday[Dec 11], but there we were atop Kirkuk’s ancient citadel admiring – and mourning – the crumbling ruins of the five mosques that once occupied the plateau overlooking the contested city. “See, look,” says Akam Omar Osman, pointing to the north. “You see how in Kurdish areas we pick up the trash, we have services. And then how in the south,” he says, swinging around, “you have nothing.” Osman is the translator provided by the Peshmerga Kurdish forces who brought us here.

 

The north does look to be relatively bustling, while storm clouds gather over the quieter southern areas of the city, filled with banks of trash. This pivotal oil city, home to Iraq‘s main pipeline and numerous refineries, is part of the disputed territories between Iraqi Kurdistan and the Iraqi central government. And Kirkuk is now on the frontlines of a two-week old military stand-off. After a December shootout between Iraqi police and Peshmerga in another disputed city, Tuz Khormato, left one dead and several injured, both the Peshmerga and the Iraqi Army have ringed Kirkuk.

 

But the tensions are far greater than just a single firefight. Baghdad recently created a new command overseeing security forces in the disputed areas, angering the country’s ethnic Kurds. The Kurds were further incensed when Lt. Gen. Abdul-Amir al- Zaidi, who has been linked to Saddam Hussein‘s genocide of hundreds of thousands of Kurds in 1988′s Anfal campaign, was placed in charge of the Iraqi forces at their doorstep.

 

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki was infuriated when Kurdistan began inking its own oil contracts – including some in disputed areas — with Exxon, France’s Total, Russia’s Gazprom and Chervron. Not to mention a deal under way to build a pipeline between Turkey and Kurdistan, allowing the Kurds a route that did not have to cross the rest of Iraq to export the 45 million barrels believed to be beneath Kurdish lands. Maliki argues that the regional government doesn’t have the authority to sign such contracts.

 

On Tuesday morning in Erbil, Kurdistan’s capital, we met with the Minister for Peshmerga Sheikh Jafar Mustafa, before heading down to see what we thought were the front lines. “It is illegal for Baghdad to use the Iraqi Army to settle provincial disputes,” Jafar says. “They make the same words — use the same words — as Saddam.”…

 

If it were to come down to violence, there’s a big question who’d win the fight. The Iraqi Army is better equipped, thanks to the Americans, but the Kurds have passion and knowledge of the treacherous mountains on their side. The ill-equipped Kurds, after all, succeeded in tormenting Saddam’s powerful army for decades. And it’s not clear how many Iraqi Army minority forces — Sunni and Turkmen — would want to fight their allies and friends. (The Iraqi army is predominantly Shi’a.)

 

About half way into the hour’s drive, Osman asks us if we’d like to see Kirkuk. Ivor doesn’t have a visa to enter Iraq – the Kurds grant Americans and Europeans instant 10-day visas upon arrival that are only good for their territory, whereas Iraq requires a lengthy application process accompanied by a certified HIV blood test – but Osman says that’s not a problem because Kirkuk is part of their territory, a point they’re clearly keen to highlight. As to our concerns about danger, he waves them away: “With us, you’re perfectly safe,” he says, pointing at his gun. “And, besides, it’s safe, you’ll see.” We probably wouldn’t have gone in if I hadn’t heard from Western diplomats the night before that they travel to Kirkuk all the time and the areas controlled by the Kurds are, indeed, quite safe.

 

Kurdistan is the safest part of Iraq these days. Travelers do not need to move in secured convoys or with bodyguards. Electricity, still unreliable to the south after more than $20 billion in investment, is stable in Kurdistan. The economy is booming: cranes building 30-floor five-star hotels dot Erbil’s skyline, road and tunnel construction is everywhere and foreign business and tourism are flourishing.

The Kurds have extended much of that stability to northern Kirkuk. The bazaar here is bustling. Every one I interview tells me they want to live in an independent Kurdistan, even the Arabs. “Barazani,” Hadji Subiq, 80, tells me with a toothless grin, referring to Kurdish President Massoud Barzani, “if he’s alive then we’re all alive. If he’s dead then we’re all dead.”

 

At first I think they’re only saying nice things about the Kurds given that I’m flanked by three heavily armed Peshmerga as I approach people. But soon, Osman and I sit down for a tea at a cafe and a crowd of 30 or more surrounds us, all eager to talk about how much they hate Maliki and love the Kurds.

 

By Thursday [Dec 13] the central government and the Kurdish regional authorities had come to an agreement to deescalate the troops, though no timetable for withdrawal was set and the two sides did not solve any of the underlying issues. In the meantime, tens of thousands of troops – by some estimates as many as 60,000 – are facing off in other locations, some as close as 100 meters to each other. “With two armed groups in close proximity, the danger is that accidents do happen and things blow  and you get an inadvertent war,” says Harry Schute, a former U.S. Army colonel who led U.S. forces into Kurdistan in 2003 and has come back in his retirement to advise the Kurds on security.

 

Both sides have an incentive to find a solution. Maliki faces provincial elections in six months and a populace sick of sectarian violence, political saber-rattling and bureaucratic bumbling. And the Kurds place a high premium on stability. “We hope it doesn’t come to war, we know that there’s a lot to be lost with this fight,” says Falah Mustafa Bakir, Kurdish minister of Foreign Relations. “Safety and security is essential to our growth, the growth that we want to continue and expand. Kurdistan is open for business.”

Top of Page

 

 

IRAQ COULD DISSOLVE PARLIAMENT IN 48 HOURS, SOURCES SAY

Paul D. Shinkman

US News, January 4, 2013

 

In a move that could draw Iraq back into the throws of religious infighting and potential civil war, the fledgling Baghdad government may be on the brink of dissolving parliament within days, a source tell U.S. News. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who leads the Shiite majority government, has used strong-arm tactics to marginalize opponents, mostly among minority Sunnis, says an official at private intelligence company Stratfor. These actions, along with some spill-over from the civil war in Syria, have lead to violent protests in Iraq in recent days.

 

The Iraq government may dissolve the parliament in as soon as 48 hours, according to Iraqi sources and media reported by Stratfor. This was first reported by Arabic news service Al Arabiya. "It seems like there is enough momentum built up now where the resolution may be in dissolving parliament and holding fresh elections," says Kamran Bokhari, vice president of Middle Eastern and South Asian Affairs for Stratfor.

 

Regional instability has contributed to the fragility of the Iraqi parliament, leading to deadly demonstrations in recent days. "[Al-Maliki] is seen by the Iranians and the Iraqi Shiite allies as jeopardizing their communal interests," he says. "Given the way things are heating up in Syria and the rise of Sunnis over there, I think the Sunnis in Iraq are being energized by the phenomenon across the border."

 

Dissolving the parliament before the next elections in early 2014 is further complicated by the absence of much of the presidency council, which would participate in the temporary caretaker government. Iraqi President Jalal Talabani is currently in Germany for treatment following a stroke, and one of the two vice presidents, Tariq al-Hashemi, is currently in exile following murder charges.

 

"Right now I doubt the Maliki government is easily accepting the idea there should be a caretaker government to come in in the interim and take over the elections," says Bokhari. "If that's the position of this government, and you return to sectarian fault lines, we could easily see this descending into violence if there is gridlock that continues for a long time."

 

He also points to al Qaida operatives in Syria trying to exploit the chaotic situation there. A new sectarian fight in Iraq might prove another "fertile ground for jihadists," Bokhari says. A State Department spokeswoman declined to comment on the reports. When asked about the protests in Iraq, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said Friday the U.S. ambassador meets weekly and sometimes daily with top Iraqi leaders.

 

"We have had contacts with the Iraq government," she said. "Our ambassador in Iraq has meetings with all the key leaders, encouraging them to work with each other, to settle issues that they have through dialogue, to protect and preserve the basic tenets of the Iraqi constitution."

 

Two Iraqi officials told Bloomberg Businessweek they did not call for dissolving the parliament, but did not deny that it could happen.

 

When asked if the prime minister's State of Law bloc had issued the statement, lawmaker and member of the bloc Khalid al-Asadi told Bloomberg, "It's not true. The State of Law didn't ask to dissolve the parliament," he said. "But when any party asks for dissolving the parliament and dissolve the government and call for early election, we will not stand against it."

 

Maliki senior aide Izzat al-Shahbender told Bloomberg "this was one of options we discussed in the National Iraqi Alliance, which we have raised long ago, but we didn't issue a statement."

 

Top of Page

 

 

 

Sadr Allies With Sunnis in Challenge to Maliki: Mushreq Abbas, Al-Monitor, Jan 6, 2013—No one in Iraq had ever imagined that a popular and political alliance would one day bring together Muqtada al-Sadr and the Sunni Arabs. The two parties participated in an excruciating civil war (2006-2008) that resulted in thousands of casualties on both sides.

 

The Redacted Iraqi Jews: Nabil Al-Hadairi, Gatestone Institute, Dec 27, 2012—The recent Conference of Religions and Sects in Sulaymaniyah, organized under the supervision of Iraq's president, Jalal Talabani, was an important milestone: The first such conference to take place in Iraq that seriously covered the defense of religions and sects after the collapse of the dictatorial regime of Saddam Hussein.

 

The Steep Price of American Disengagement: Max Boot, Commentary, Dec. 1, 2012—It is hardly surprising to read that the flow of Iranian arms continues to reach Syria via Iraqi airspace. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki had promised the Obama administration that he would inspect aircraft overflying his country, but his promise has proved hollow. 

 

Both Sides Have Too Much to Lose in Arab-Kurd Rivalry: Ranj Alaaldin, The National, Dec 7, 2012—The threat of war is hanging over Iraq. In recent months, Arabs and Kurds have gone head to head over long-standing disputes centred on land, oil and power.

 

Iraq needs inclusive governance: Editorial, Gulf News, Dec 28, 2012—The sectarian drift of the Iraqi government, headed by Prime Minister Nouri Al Maliki, needs to be reversed. Al Maliki is a leading Shiite politician, but in his position as the head of a government, he needs to serve the entire Iraqi population and his government must work to be inclusive of all Iraqis.

 

Kurdistan’s Vast Reserves Draw Oil Majors: Guy Chazan, Financial Times, Jan 7, 2013—For decades, the rugged hills of northern Iraq were the sole preserve of sheep herders and the Kurdish militia known as peshmerga. Now they play host to some of the largest oil and gas companies in the world, drawn by its estimated 45bn barrels of oil.

 

32 Pilgrims Are Killed by Bombings in Central Iraq: Yasir Ghazi & Christine Hauser, New York Times, Jan 3, 2013—Attackers killed at least 32 pilgrims in Iraq on Thursday, the police said, in what appeared to be a spate of sectarian-motivated violence as the country continued to struggle with a political crisis in its fractured government.

 

China’s Oil Quest Comes to Iraq: J. Michael Cole, The Diplomat, Dec 2, 2012—A lot of attention has been paid in recent years to energy-hungry China’s billion-dollar bids on oil fields in Canada and the Asian giant’s reliance on oil from countries like Iran and Sudan to fuel its growing economy. 

 

 

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