Tag: Jewish Refugees

SYRIAN WAR: ASSAD-IRAN-RUSSIA AXIS DOMINATES AFTER 500K KILLED & MILLIONS DISPLACED

Syria – the Beginning of the End?: Sarit Zehavi, Jerusalem Post, Feb. 15, 2017— In the past two months, several things happened in Syria that oblige us to examine the question of where this five-year civil war is going.

Pitting Russia Against Iran in Syria? Get Over It: Frederick W. Kagan, Fox News, Feb. 15, 2017— Faced with the Syrian debacle, Trump administration officials, among others, claim that the U.S. can exploit the weakness of the growing strategic coalition between Russia and Iran…

Trump’s Bid to Keep Syrian Refugees Safe — at Home: Benny Avni, New York Post, Feb. 8, 2017— President Trump’s refugee restrictions dominated days’ worth of news cycles, but it’s only half of his approach to Syria.

Syrian Refugees Are the New Jews. So Who Are the Nazis?: Lee Smith, Tablet, Feb. 2, 2017— For the last week, protestors have been filling American airports from JFK to LAX…

 

On Topic Links

 

Iraq Takes the Fight Against ISIS to Syria: Ben Kesling, Wall Street Journal, Feb. 24, 2017

The Fall of Aleppo: Fabrice Balanche, Middle East Forum, Feb. 7, 2017

A Journey Through Assad's Syria: Fritz Schaap, Spiegel, Feb. 20, 2017

Syria and the Failure of the Multicultural American Left: Yoav Fromer, Tablet, Feb. 12, 2017

 

SYRIA – THE BEGINNING OF THE END?

                                                Sarit Zehavi                            

Jerusalem Post, Feb. 15, 2017

 

In the past two months, several things happened in Syria that oblige us to examine the question of where this five-year civil war is going. Namely the fall of Aleppo, followed by the cease-fire declaration and the peace talks in Astana. Seemingly, the talks are just another failed attempt at halting the fighting while the regime and the Russians continue to attack areas and organization that have signed on to the cease-fire. Despite this, why is it that we are now able to point to a changing trend in contrast with the previous cease-fires that were signed?…

 

Much has been written on the numerous deaths that have resulted from Russian and Syrian bombing. Aleppo was the symbol of this carnage. But very little has been written about the implications of the convoys of buses that evacuated the rebels and their families from the city and the resulting demographic and geopolitical ramifications. The fall of Aleppo symbolizes Syrian President Bashar Assad’s victory. This was the largest city in Syria, with some 2.5 million inhabitants prior to the civil war. Aleppo possesses a history and heritage dating back thousands of years; it is in fact one of the world’s most ancient cities.

 

Up until the beginning of the 20th century, it was considered to be the commercial center for the region lying between Mesopotamia in northern Iraq and the Mediterranean. However the city descended from its high position over the past several decades, mainly due to the development of alternative commercial routes as Damascus evolved into the capital of the A-Sham (Levant) region.

 

Aleppo residents were primarily Sunni, while the city also had a Christian quarter. The city’s demographics reflect a process that all of Syria underwent prior to the civil war. The Sunni population has grown significantly over the years. However, this sizable population lived in poverty and oppression. This is in contrast with only a moderate increase in the population of the minorities. Thus, the Sunnis became an absolute majority in the country, and therefore endangered the coalition of minorities headed by the dictatorship of the Alawite Assad family.

 

As in many cases of revolutions in history, the phenomenon of people taking to the streets is linked with socioeconomic conditions among others; often, this serves as fertile ground for the sprouting of ideological, religious and other conflicts. In mostly Sunni Aleppo, with the city’s magnificent history etched in the DNA of its residents, the poor neighborhoods rebelled, while the revolutionary movements were much less successful in the rich neighborhoods.

 

After a sustained siege of the city’s rebel- controlled quarters and virtually indiscriminate killing of citizens, the largest human evacuation of the Syrian war took place in Aleppo. In an interview with Fatma, the mother of Bana, a seven-year-old girl who last year told the entire world of the happenings in Aleppo via Twitter, she said: “I left my soul there, they make us leave our country. I don’t want to be like a refugee in other countries.” From Fatma’s words it appears that she doesn’t envision the possibility of returning to Aleppo in the foreseeable future. The evacuation of Aleppo residents, under UN protection, is not really aimed at saving their lives; rather, it is aimed at vacating the city of its Sunni rebel residents and bringing about a change in its demographic composition.

 

A website identified with the Syrian opposition’s Southern Front (Al-Jabha al-Janoubiya) aptly described it this way: “Control of this historic and important city…has been taken by Iran, the Persian state, together with the Assad regime. This conquest is of a totally clannish hue.” Even if it is not entirely clear how many Sunnis remain in Aleppo, the tour of the city’s streets by Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps commander Qasem Suleimani after the city’s fall only strengthens this perception. This method was also used in other areas of Syria prior to the fall of Aleppo. However, it was particularly effective after the city’s collapse because Aleppo has become a model. That being the case, the war in Syria has not ended with the fall of Aleppo as there are highly active pockets of resistance in the large cities.

 

However, the fall of the city enables the regime to fulfill its goal in a far more methodical and easy manner – to bring about a demographic change in Syria and create a 50-100 km. wide “strip” in western Syria, from north to south. The strip comprises the large cities, which would have a less than 50% Sunni minority facing a coalition of minorities headed by Shi’ites of different varieties. Thus, for example, Shi’ites were settled in villages along the Syria-Lebanon border from which Sunnis were expelled/evacuated in order to create a Shi’ite continuity between the Lebanese Bekaa Valley and Shi’ite villages on the Syrian side of the border. Several Arab sources have coined the term “La Syria Utile” for this policy, taken from the term used by the French Mandate following the First World War.

 

In his speech of July 2015, prior to Russia’s intervention in the fighting, President Assad stated: “The Syrian army must withdraw from certain areas in order to protect other, more important areas.” Then, Assad was ready to temporally forgo Aleppo as part of this policy to ensure his control in western Syria, however Russian intervention two months later allowed him to expand the boundaries of his ethnic cleansing and include Aleppo…

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

 

Contents

 

               

PITTING RUSSIA AGAINST IRAN IN SYRIA? GET OVER IT

Frederick W. Kagan

Fox News, Feb. 15, 2017

 

Faced with the Syrian debacle, Trump administration officials, among others, claim that the U.S. can exploit the weakness of the growing strategic coalition between Russia and Iran, ultimately using Russia to contain Iran in Syria and throughout the Middle East. The Obama administration had this idea too, and it remains wrong. Circumstances could arise that might split the partners, but American outreach to Moscow won’t do it. A bigger question for the U.S. right now is whether we can prevent other nations vital to our interests from shifting toward the new Russian-Iranian orbit.

 

There are reasons why the Russia-vs-Iran fantasy is attractive. Historical tension between Iran and Russia is real, and neither state knows how to be a good ally. Russia sees itself as a superpower and disdains to treat other states as equals. Iran sees itself as the natural hegemon of the Middle East and leader of the vast Shi’a Muslim denomination. Marginalization and persecution of Shi’as over the centuries makes it hard for the Islamic Republic to trust outside powers. Tehran also has had tensions with Russia over Caspian Sea resources and oil.

 

Thinking too much about these historical disagreements, however, obscures the deep commonality of aims shared by Moscow and Tehran–driving the U.S. from the Middle East being the chief of these common goals. Iran’s leaders constantly assert that the Middle East should be free of the influence of outside powers. They never point that argument at Russia or China, but rather at the U.S., Britain, and their allies. Russia’s leaders and doctrines assert that the U.S. must abandon its position as a global power and yield to a multipolar world order in which Russia is its equal.

 

Russia and Iran also share allies and goals around their periphery. Both back Armenia over Azerbaijan in the Caucasus. Russia has kept a military base in Armenia since the end of the Cold War, while Iran fears that Azerbaijan could attempt to stir up separatism within Iran’s large Azeri population. Both seek stability in Afghanistan and prefer to work with local Tajiks, Uzbeks, and Hazaras rather than Pashtuns. Both have, however, worked with, and even supported, Taliban factions when it suited them.

 

Only extreme circumstances will split the Russo-Iranian coalition in Syria—if the Assad regime faces defeat, or the pro-regime coalition succeeds enough that it can move on to consider its next goals. Neither is likely. Vladimir Putin would give up on Bashar al Assad long before Ayatollah Khamenei would, but right now Putin needs an Alawite government like Assad’s to let him keep his new military base on the Mediterranean. Ayatollah Khamenei needs the Assad regime to give the Revolutionary Guards’ Qods Force and its Hezbollah allies a secure rear-area from which to confront Israel. Russia needs Iran in Syria at least as badly as Iran needs Russia.

 

The Assad regime and army are kept alive artificially by tens of thousands of Iranian, Hezbollah, Iraqi Shi’a militia, and Afghan and Pakistani militia troops, all provided, paid for and commanded by Iranians. The Russians neither can, nor would, replace these forces with their own. If the Russians agreed to drive the Iranians from Syria, the Assad regime and Russia’s position would collapse. Russian and Iranian aims in the region diverge significantly on two points. The Islamic Republic is committed to destroying Israel and containing or collapsing Saudi power. Moscow shares neither goal. But Moscow has done nothing to protest or contain Iran’s harassment of Israel using Hezbollah and Hamas.

 

The Russians have also reached out to the Saudis and Gulf states to mitigate damage their support for Iran has done to their position in the region. Moscow would prefer a Sunni power to balance Iran, where Tehran prefers unquestioned hegemony. There is some surprising overlap even in this divergent effort, however. Egypt is drifting away from the Saudi bloc and toward Moscow and even Tehran. President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi voted for Russian initiatives in Syria at the U.N. and even sent a small number of Egyptian troops to Syria on behalf of the Russo-Iranian coalition.

 

The Iranians have no quarrel with Sisi, and have never directed against him the kind of vitriol they reserve for the Saudis and their Gulf Arab allies. Russia and Iran may, in fact, come to see Cairo as a mutually acceptable contender for leadership of the Sunni Arabs in the region at the expense of Riyadh and Abu Dhabi. This would be a formidable new challenge to American strategy and statecraft. American policy-makers must get past facile statements about the supposed limits of Russian and Iranian cooperation and back to the serious business of furthering our own interests in a tumultuous region. The Russo-Iranian coalition will no doubt eventually fracture, as most interest-based coalitions ultimately do. Conditions in the Middle East and the world, however, offer no prospect of such a development any time soon.

 

Contents

 

TRUMP’S BID TO KEEP SYRIAN REFUGEES SAFE — AT HOME

Benny Avni

New York Post, Feb. 8, 2017

 

President Trump’s refugee restrictions dominated days’ worth of news cycles, but it’s only half of his approach to Syria. The other half is designed to keep Syrians from becoming refugees in the first place. The idea of creating “safe zones” in Syria was high on the agenda Wednesday when Trump spoke on the phone with his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Turkish sources tell me the two leaders didn’t get into details, but CIA Director Mike Pompeo will visit Turkey on Thursday to try to flesh it out.

 

Trump vowed back in November to build “a big beautiful safe zone,” where, he said, Syrian refugees will “have whatever it is so people can live, and they’ll be happier.” And in his first week at the White House, he once again promised to “absolutely do safe zones in Syria.” That’s where Erdogan comes in. He’s long advocated carving out an area in Syria where refugees can feel safe under Turkish protection and stem the tide of migrants into neighboring Turkey and on to continental Europe.

 

But President Obama shot the idea down. He was wary of any serious American involvement in the Syrian crisis, and, just as importantly, he had soured on Erdogan by the time the idea was broached. That was a big change from early in his presidency, when Obama consulted Erdogan more than any other regional leader and cited Turkey as proof that democracy can flourish under an Islamist ruler.

 

Erdogan liked to brag about Turkey’s foreign-policy doctrine of “no problems” with its neighbors, but even Obama eventually woke up to the reality that Turkey was in fact at war with each of its neighbors — and that Erdogan methodically suffocated Turkey’s democracy. Erdogan, meanwhile, was angry with Obama for supporting the YPG, a Kurdish faction that became our only fighting ally in Syria. (Turkey considers it a terrorist organization.)

 

For better or worse, Trump’s leadership style prioritizes transactional realism over America’s traditional moralism. As such, he might have more patience with authoritarians like Erdogan. Erdogan is also working with Vladimir Putin on Syria because, with Iran, Russia is the most powerful foreign actor in the conflict. And Putin doesn’t necessarily oppose creating humanitarian safe zones. And why not? Half of Syria’s population is homeless. Its neighbors — Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey — carry most of the burden of handling the refugees.

 

And they’re exhausted. Europe is facing a populist backlash against its permissive refugee resettlement. Same here, though Obama took in just a minuscule number of Syrians to begin with. Hence, despite the obvious challenges in getting under control a bloody civil war that has so far killed a half-million, keeping Syrians in Syria is starting to look like it’s worth the effort. With nearly 2 million Syrians in camps inside Turkey, Erdogan would love to move them back into Turkish-controlled areas inside Syria. Meanwhile, Trump could answer critics of his immigration ban: Safe zones, he’ll argue, will alleviate the humanitarian crisis better than taking in asylum seekers.

 

The catch: Moscow, always fearing an American occupation and US military “mission creep,” won’t bless any of this before seeing the details. Ah, the details. “We have in history different examples of safe zones, and some of them were tragic,” new UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said recently. Specifically, the United Nations is traumatized by Srebrenica, a supposedly “safe” zone in Bosnia, where in one 1995 week, 8,000 Muslims were massacred as UN guards helplessly watched. Would anyone have better luck in similarly bloody Syria? Can any zone, no matter how well guarded, be completely safe? Also, occupying a slice of Syria could turn expensive and bloody. Trump indicated that Gulf states would finance the project. Turkey, which already occupies parts of northern Syria, would shoulder most of the military burden. But America would still need to take a larger military and diplomatic role, which was more than Obama was willing to do.

 

Done right, safe zones could ease one of the biggest challenges the Syrian war presents to the West. Yes, it’s a complex operation, but not necessarily undoable. Question is, can Trump (or more likely Pompeo, Defense Secretary James Mattis and the rest of the team) work out the details? Because, good or bad, no idea will succeed unless it’s well-planned and well-executed. For that to happen, the chaotic early days of the Trump presidency will have to give way to competence and order — and soon.

 

Contents 

    

SYRIAN REFUGEES ARE THE NEW JEWS. SO WHO ARE THE NAZIS

Lee Smith

Tablet, Feb. 2, 2017

 

For the last week, protestors have been filling American airports from JFK to LAX, demonstrating against President Donald Trump’s “Muslim Ban”—the executive order that in fact suspends for 90 days the issuance of visas to seven countries that are either major state sponsors of terror, or failed states without functioning governments where terror groups like ISIS, Al-Qaida, and their various off-shoots are flourishing. But the EO also suspends indefinitely the issuance of visas for Syrian refugees. And the opinion of protesters, as well as much of the press, is that Syrian refugees are like the Jews—fleeing genocide in search of safe shores: How can we have forgotten the past so completely that we deny entry to those whose suffering and want must serve as a reminder of our past failures to protect others, like the Jews that America so coldly turned away in the 1930s and 1940s?

 

In December, my Tablet colleague James Kirchick warned that “invoking the Holocaust for contemporary political debates is an inherently tricky business.” Nonetheless, it’s become the consensus take in the media, as seen with The Washington Post, Politico, Cokie Roberts on “Morning Joe,” and, of course, The New York Times, including a signature Nicholas Kristof column arguing that “Anne Frank Today Is a Syrian Girl.” Former President Barack Obama may have been among the first to make the comparison. In a December 2015 address to newly minted American citizens, Obama said: “In the Syrian seeking refuge today, we should see the Jewish refugee of World War II.” Obama’s conviction that the suffering of Syrian refugees is directly similar to that of Europe’s Jews is perhaps why he appointed his former top lieutenant Ben Rhodes to the Holocaust Memorial Council, responsible for the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington. Maybe Rhodes will ensure that the Museum commemorates the trials of the Syrian people, a people who suffered, as the Jews suffered at the hands of the Nazis, at the hands of…

 

Wait, at whose hands did the Syrian people suffer something like genocide? If they are like European Jews fleeing the Nazis, then who are the Nazis? In the various articles, statements, tweets, Facebook posts making explicit comparisons between Syrian refugees and Jewish refugees, no one, it seems, has bothered to identify the agents responsible for the murder, suffering, and dislocation of so many Syrians. So where are the Nazis? Who are they? It has to be Trump. Well, it is true that the new president has indefinitely suspended issuing visas to Syrian refugees, but the Nazis didn’t simply turn Jews away, they murdered them—and the analogy was popular well before Trump became President. Trump is rather more like FDR in this scenario, the American president who refused to provide sanctuary for victims of a genocidal regime.

 

So who has actually been exterminating Syrians—Syrian men, women, children and the elderly—as if they were insects, as the Nazis exterminated Jews? It is true that ISIS murders Christians and other minorities and has also killed members of its own Sunni sect, but the vast majority of those who have been murdered in Syria are Sunni Arabs. The Sunnis have been the target of a campaign of sectarian cleansing and slaughter since the earliest days of the nearly six-year-long Syrian conflict. The Sunnis therefore also make up the preponderance of those seeking refuge the world over, from Turkey and Lebanon, to Europe and North America.

 

At first, the Sunnis were fleeing Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, but Assad has become a relatively insignificant factor in the war. In this scenario, Assad is rather like Mussolini, a dictator in charge of incompetent and dwindling forces incapable of holding ground. The Alawite sect (around 11 precent of a country with a pre-war population of 22 million) that Assad depended on for his survival was too small to ensure his survival against the country’s Sunni majority, 74 percent of the population, 80 percent of which are Sunni Arab. Hence, Assad needed to mobilize his allies, especially the regime’s chief protector, the Islamic Republic of Iran.

 

Iran sent in its crack troops, the Quds Force, led by Qassem Soleimani, the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps’ expeditionary unit. Also at Iran’s disposal was a large number of regional organizations, ranging from the elite Lebanese militia Hezbollah to less prestigious fighting outfits, like Iranian-backed paramilitary groups from Iraq, or ragtag bands of Shia fighters recruited from Afghanistan and Pakistan and trained by Iran. It was these groups, later joined by Russia, that hunted Sunni Arabs like animals and slaughtered them or sent them running for their lives. These are the Nazis. That’s who sent the Syrians running for their lives like Jews fleeing Hitler.

 

It is terrible that Syrian refugees are suffering. It is wrong that the Trump Administration has cruelly shut America’s doors on children who have known nothing in their short lives except to run from the jaws of a machine of death. But America’s shame is much, much worse than that. For in securing his chief foreign policy initiative, Barack Obama made billions of dollars and American diplomatic and military cover available to Iran, which it has used to wage a genocidal war against Syria’s Sunni Arab population.

 

Not only have we failed so far to protect today’s Jews by stopping today’s Nazis, the 44th president of the United States assisted them in their campaign of mass murder. That’s why when people liken Syrian refugees to Jewish refugees fleeing the Nazis, no one dares to complete the analogy and identify today’s Nazis—it’s Iran. America’s shame is worse than anything that the protesters at airports imagine. Donald Trump is a latecomer who has arrived mid-way through the final act of a tragedy which has been unfolding for the past five years, and in which the US has been something more than an idle or disinterested bystander. The refugees are real, the genocide they are fleeing is real, and the Nazis are also real. What we have done is unspeakable.

 

Contents           

 

On Topic Links

 

Iraq Takes the Fight Against ISIS to Syria: Ben Kesling, Wall Street Journal, Feb. 24, 2017—Iraq’s air force on Friday carried out its first-ever strikes against Islamic State in neighboring Syria, the country’s Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said, marking a dramatic escalation in its effort to roll back the insurgency by pounding a sanctuary across the border.

The Fall of Aleppo: Fabrice Balanche, Middle East Forum, Feb. 7, 2017—The fall of Aleppo was a turning point in the Syrian civil war. In an impressive feat, the Russian-backed Syrian army dealt a crushing blow to the rebel forces, driving many of them to entertain a compromise with the Assad regime.

A Journey Through Assad's Syria: Fritz Schaap, Spiegel, Feb. 20, 2017—On an icy January evening in eastern Aleppo, a grotesque scene of destruction, five men are standing around a fire in a battered oil drum in a butcher's shop.

Syria and the Failure of the Multicultural American Left: Yoav Fromer, Tablet, Feb. 12, 2017—Among the countless heartbreaking images that came out of the earthly inferno of Aleppo, one remains particularly haunting: that of a grief-stricken mother cradling the lifeless body of her child emerging out of the rubble and raising her face to the heavens in a deafening cry of despair. The human tragedy in the war-ravaged Syrian city mercilessly bombarded by Russian jets operating in the service of Bashar Assad was so disturbing because it was so familiar.

 

 

 

YOM KIPPUR 2012/5773: ISRAEL & THE JEWISH PEOPLE DESPITE DANGERS, FACE FUTURE HOPEFULLY

 

 

GMAR CHATIMA TOVA!

 

A Note to our Readers: CIJR Briefings will resume on 

September 27, 2012 after Yom Kippur.

 

Articles:

The Essence of Yom Kippur

The Whispers of Democracy in Ancient Judaism

The Abandonment

Israel Takes Issue of Jewish Refugees to UN

 

On Topic Links
Ehr Kumt (He is Coming)

Confessing our Sins on Yom Kippur

The Last Command

 


THE ESSENCE OF YOM KIPPUR

Reuven Hammer

Jerusalem Post, September 21, 2012

 

One of the misconceptions concerning Yom Kippur is that the most important prayer of the day is Kol Nidre.  In the first place, Kol Nidre is not a prayer at all. It is a quasi-legal formula for nullifying vows. The only prayer in it is the conclusion, which was added in the 13th century, in which we ask to be forgiven for our sins and are assured that God will indeed forgive the people of Israel.

 

Historically speaking, Kol Nidre was a popular formula that sprang from the demands of the people in Babylonia sometime before the eighth century and that was actually opposed by rabbinic authorities such as Amram Gaon, who found it foolish and quite meaningless. Yet, obviously, people did not listen to the rabbis and attributed to it the importance that it has today.

 

There are two possible explanations for this. One is the melody, which is so haunting and moving that one can ignore the words and be uplifted just by the sound. The other is that psychologically, the release from vows frees people from guilt over those promises we have not fulfilled or those things we know we should not have done. By abolishing unfulfilled obligations there is a lifting of a burden that, whether or not we acknowledge it, we carry with us constantly. We enter Yom Kippur released from our imperfections.

 

Nevertheless, Kol Nidre is not the most important prayer of Yom Kippur evening or of the day that follows. The most important one is the Vidui – the confession of our sins. This is the essential prayer without which Yom Kippur has no meaning and no efficacy. We recite this confession in two forms: the short, alphabetical “Ashamnu” followed by the lengthy, more detailed “Al Het.” The essence of both of these is found in one word: “hatati” – “I have sinned.”

 

Originally it was considered sufficient for one to have simply said that word sincerely before the beginning of Yom Kippur in order to enter the sacred day in a state of purity and forgiveness. Tradition has a way of adding to any practice to make certain that it is done properly and taken seriously. The confession has become much more complex and is recited not only before Yom Kippur at minha, but also at each of the day’s services. The principle remains the same: the sincere admission of guilt.

 

It is worth looking into the meaning of the Hebrew word “hatati.” We translate “het” in English as “sin,” but somehow the connotation is different. The word “sin” carries a great deal of weight in English. It implies a measure of wickedness and of intentional wrongdoing. That meaning is sometimes found in the Hebrew as well. God warns Cain that if he does not do right, “sin (hatat) crouches at the door” – but He also tells him that “you can be its master.”

 

Of Sodom and Gomorrah the Lord says, “their sin is very grave.” But note that by adding the words “is very grave,” it is implied that there are some sins that are not very grave. The original literal meaning of the verb “hata” is “to miss the mark,” as in archery. This connotation carries over into the spiritual meaning as well.

 

Sometimes we miss the mark. This can happen because we tried but erred, or it can happen because we deliberately decide not to do what should be done. To sin, therefore, is human. It is part and parcel of our lives. In order to change, it is necessary to admit our errors. This is what we do when we recite the Vidui. It is the most important of our Yom Kippur prayers; a necessary prelude to true repentance. (Top)

 

THE WHISPERS OF DEMOCRACY IN ANCIENT JUDAISM

Eric Rosenberg

Wall Street Journal, September 20, 2012

 

Jews are in the midst of a period known as the Days of Awe, which began on Sunday night with Rosh Hashanah and culminates next Wednesday with Yom Kippur. It seems almost a misnomer to call them "holidays," though the first marks the Jewish New Year. Rather, they are deeply personal events whose aim is self-reflection, self-improvement and repairing what is broken in daily relationships.

 

It's striking how much this most important period on the Jewish calendar shares with that most essential exercise in American democracy. Walt Whitman wrote in the late 1800s that "a well-contested American national election" was "the triumphant result of faith in human kind." This country's unique sense of optimism—the view that the future is unwritten and full of possibility, that anything can be achieved—is also the sensibility underpinning the Days of Awe.

 

On a cosmic level, Rosh Hashanah commemorates the birth of the world. On an individual level, it marks the rebirth of the soul as Jews examine their faults and ask forgiveness from those they have wronged. At heart, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are deeply optimistic events. A major theme in the prayers Jews recite on the High Holidays is the striving to be a better person, with the understanding that we are in control of our future.

 

As moderns, we take for granted how fundamentally revolutionary the Jews were in arriving at this novel concept about time, destiny and personal responsibility. Until their call to monotheism nearly four millennia ago, the worldview in the Levant was very different. Life was an endless cycle devoted to agrarian pursuits and appeasing warring gods in aid of those pursuits.

 

Thomas Cahill, in his riveting book "The Gifts of the Jews," underscores the point: "For the ancients, nothing new ever did happen, except for the occasional monstrosity. Life on Earth followed the course of the stars. And what had been would, in due course, come around again. . . . The future was always to be a replay of the past, as the past was simply an earthly replay of the drama of the heavens."

 

Perhaps the most profound gift of the Jews is that they broke down this fatalistic notion of the world, in which people were trapped on a great spinning wheel, with no future or past. In this way, the ancient Jews invented the concept of history in which the future was not an endless cycle but could be steered by our actions in the present. They inserted the individual, and individual responsibility and justice, into the equation.

 

This ancient Jewish view was a massive shift in how people viewed mankind's relationship to a deity—and it put responsibility squarely on the shoulders of men and women for their own destiny. This was the end of predetermination and the beginning of personal choice, justice and the quest for liberty. These themes, prevalent in the Jewish liturgy, are on display among the candidates competing for the White House, whatever the political party.

 

Democracy, Mr. Cahill says, "grows directly out of the Israelite vision of individuals—subjects of value because they are images of God, each with a unique and personal destiny."

 

Similarly, the University of Chicago historian William F. Irwin lectured in the 1940s that it was the ancient Jewish prophets and their advocacy of freedom that would find an early expression in the Magna Carta and later in the American Bill of Rights. Perhaps that is partly because the ancient Jews had such terrible experiences with monarchs.

 

Before the Jews swapped their political system—one of a collection of judges—for a monarchy, to be like other Near Eastern governments, the prophet Samuel warned of the predilection of kings for tyranny and over-taxation. A people will buckle under a king, Samuel warned to no avail. "He will take your best fields, vineyards, and olive groves, and give them to his servants. He will tithe your crops and grape harvests to give to his officials and his servants. He will take your male and female slaves. . . . As for you, you will become his slaves."

 

One can hear, without too much strain, the distant echoes of Samuel's admonitions in Thomas Jefferson's catalog against King George in the Declaration of Independence.  (Top)

 

THE ABANDONMENT

Charles Krauthammer

Washington Post, September 13, 2012

 

There are two positions one can take regarding the Iranian nuclear program: (a) it doesn’t matter, we can deter them; or (b) it does matter, we must stop them.

 

In my view, the first position — that we can contain Iran as we did the Soviet Union — is totally wrong, a product of wishful thinking and misread history. But at least it’s internally coherent.
Iran’s quest to possess nuclear technology: Iran said it has made advances in nuclear technology, citing new uranium enrichment centrifuges and domestically made reactor fuel.

What is incoherent is President Obama’s position. He declares the Iranian program intolerable — “I do not have a policy of containment; I have a policy to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon” — yet stands by as Iran rapidly approaches nuclearization.

 

A policy so incoherent, so knowingly and obviously contradictory, is a declaration of weakness and passivity. And this, as Anthony Cordesman, James Phillips and others have argued, can increase the chance of war. It creates, writes Cordesman, “the same conditions that helped trigger World War II — years of negotiations and threats, where the threats failed to be taken seriously until war became all too real.”

 

This has precipitated the current U.S.-Israeli crisis, sharpened by the president’s rebuff of the Israeli prime minister’s request for a meeting during his upcoming U.S. visit. Ominous new developments; no Obama response. Alarm bells going off everywhere; Obama plays deaf.

 

The old arguments, old excuses, old pretensions have become ridiculous:

 

(1) Sanctions. The director of national intelligence testified to Congress at the beginning of the year that they had zero effect in slowing the nuclear program. Now the International Atomic Energy Agency reports (Aug. 30) that the Iranian nuclear program, far from slowing, is actually accelerating. Iran has doubled the number of high-speed centrifuges at Fordow, the facility outside Qom built into a mountain to make it impregnable to air attack.

 

This week, the agency reported Iranian advances in calculating the explosive power of an atomic warhead. It noted once again Iran’s refusal to allow inspection of its weapons testing facility at Parchin and cited satellite evidence of Iranian attempts to clean up and hide what’s gone on there.

 

The administration’s ritual response is that it has imposed the toughest sanctions ever. So what? They’re a means, not an end. And they’ve had no effect on the nuclear program.

 

(2) Negotiations. The latest, supposedly last-ditch round of talks in Istanbul, Baghdad, then Moscow has completely collapsed. The West even conceded to Iran the right to enrich — shattering a decade-long consensus and six Security Council resolutions demanding its cessation.

 

Iran’s response? Contemptuous rejection.  Why not? The mullahs have strung Obama along for more than three years and still see no credible threat emanating from the one country that could disarm them.

 

(3) Diplomatic isolation. The administration boasts that Iran is becoming increasingly isolated. Really? Just two weeks ago, 120 nations showed up in Tehran for a meeting of the Non-Aligned Movement — against U.S. entreaties not to attend. Even the U.N. secretary-general attended — after the administration implored him not to.

 

Which shows you what American entreaties are worth today. And the farcical nature of Iran’s alleged isolation.

 

The Obama policy is in shambles. Which is why Cordesman argues that the only way to prevent a nuclear Iran without war is to establish a credible military threat to make Iran recalculate and reconsider. That means U.S. red lines: deadlines beyond which Washington will not allow itself to be strung, as well as benchmark actions that would trigger a response, such as the further hardening of Iran’s nuclear facilities to the point of invulnerability and, therefore, irreversibility.

 

Which made all the more shocking Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s dismissal last Sunday of the very notion of any U.S. red lines. No deadlines. No bright-line action beyond which Iran must not go. The sleeping giant continues to slumber. And to wait — as the administration likes to put it, “for Iran to live up to its international obligations.”

 

This is beyond feckless. The Obama policy is a double game: a rhetorical commitment to stopping Iran, yet real-life actions that everyone understands will allow Iran to go nuclear.

 

Yet at the same time that it does nothing, the administration warns Israel sternly, repeatedly, publicly, even threateningly not to strike the Iranian nuclear program. With zero prospect of his policy succeeding, Obama insists on Israeli inaction, even as Iran races to close the window of opportunity for any successful attack.

 

Not since its birth six decades ago has Israel been so cast adrift by its closest ally. (Top)

 


ISRAEL TAKES ISSUE OF JEWISH REFUGEES TO UN

Gil Shefler

Jerusalem Post, September 21, 2012

 

Israel on Friday called on the international community in a special gathering at the United Nations to recognize the suffering of Jewish refugees from Arab countries and their material claims the same way it acknowledges the plight of displaced Palestinians.

 

Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon, Israel's Ambassador to the UN Ron Prosor and World Jewish Congress President Ron Lauder presented the case of the recently launched diplomatic campaign in front of an audience of Israeli officials, foreign diplomats, activists and journalists at the headquarters of the international organization.

 

"Today's event is about the past but more importantly about the future," said Prosor. "Our purpose is clear and simple: To give justice for one million Jews whose stories have been hidden and left untold."

 

He added: "For 64 years the history has been distorted and white washed in the UN. Arab countries have never taken responsibility for creating more than 800,000 refugees. Yet not a single syllable –and listen to this– can be heard in any of the 1888…UN resolution[s] on the Mideast."

 

Israel was founded on the ethos of being a safe haven for Jews in their historic homeland as a response to the persecution of Jews throughout history and the horrors of the Holocaust in Europe in particular. The story of its citizens who left, fled or were expelled from Arabic-speaking countries while the Israel-Arab conflict flared has been relatively neglected –a fact acknowledged by Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon in his speech.

 

"For some reason this issue was never raised, never discussed, and without too much mea culpa, this was wrong," Ayalon said. "But it's never too late."

 

Critics have said the timing of the campaign ahead of the gathering of the General Assembly of the United Nations next week is not accidental. Palestinian politicians like Hanan Ashrawi have argued Jews from Arab lands are not refugees at all and that, either way, Israel is using their claims as a counter-balance to those of Palestinian refugees against it.

 

"The claim that Jews who migrated to Israel, which is supposed to be their homeland, are ‘refugees’ who were uprooted from their homelands… is a form of deception and delusion," she wrote in a recently published article. "If Israel is their homeland then they are not 'refugees,' they are emigrants who returned either voluntarily or due to a political decision."

 

A chorus of Jewish politicians and activists at the event, however, said the rights of Palestinian and Jewish refugees were were not mutually exclusive. "We should solve both refugee issues now," said World Jewish Congress President Ron Lauder. "The world has long recognized the Palestinian refugee problem and they should recognize those of Jews too."

 

Malcolm Honelein of the Conference of Presidents of Major North Americans took aim at the UN, where the gathering was taking place, saying it passed thousands of resolutions relating to the rights of Palestinian refugees but not one pertaining to those of Jews from the Middle East and North Africa. "It was manipulation by Arab delegates as early as 48 and they took it off the agenda never for it to reappear again," he said. "They say Jews left freely and were not refugees denying reality in an attempt to keep this issue off the agenda."

 

Lawyer and pro-Israel activist Alan Dershowitz was even harsher in his criticism of the international organization. "Think about all the refugees from places like Kongisberg, who were forced to leave when the Soviets came or in India and Bangladesh. They have all built new lives for themselves, only the refugee problem of the Palestinians persists," he said. "Why? UN!"

 

Sylvain Abitbol, a Moroccan Jew who emigrated to Montreal in 1967, the year a wave of anti-Jewish violence and legislation sparked by Israel's victory in the Six Days War spread across the Arab world, sat in the crowd listening to the speeches. He shrugged when asked why it took so long for Israel to launch the current campaign. "We've been working with Israel for many years, but it took Ayalon to raise this," he said.

 

Whatever the reasons for the delay and regardless of the political context, he said standing up for the rights of Jews from Arab countries such as himself was a worthy and just cause. "It was very difficult for Jews in Morocco, that's why I left" he said wistfully. "It was not as bad as other countries, true, but it was bad. Listen, there used to be 200,000 Jews in Morocco and with the exception of about 2,000 who still live there they all left."(Top)

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∙       Front Page Magazine, September 28, 2010
Rabbi Schlomo Lewis, Etz Haim Synagogue, Atlanta GA

∙       Canadian Jewish News, September 13, 2012
Lawrence A. Hoffman

∙        Jewish Press, September 20, 2012
Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks

The Last Command

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FORGOTTEN LEGACIES: MODERNIST AMERICAN HEBREW POETRY, JEWISH REFUGEES FROM MUSLIM LANDS

The resurgence of Hebrew literature in America and the Jewish refugees from Arab lands.

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BREAKING NEWS!
 
Denouncing Tehran as the biggest threat to global security, Canada has closed its embassy in Iran and will expel all remaining Iranian diplomats in Canada within five days Foreign Minister John Baird, cited Iran's nuclear program, its hostility towards Israel and Iranian military assistance to the government of President Bashar Assad Syria…
 
"Canada views the government of Iran as the most significant threat to global peace and security in the world today," said Baird, accusing Iran of showing blatant disregard for the safety of foreign diplomats.  "Under the circumstances, Canada can no longer maintain a diplomatic presence in Iran … Diplomatic relations between Canada and Iran have been suspended," he said.

In response, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu welcomed Canada's decision to expel the Iranian ambassador from Ottawa and to close the Canadian embassy in Tehran,  "I congratulate Canada's PM [Stephen] Harper for showing leadership and making a bold move that sends a clear message to Iran and the world. The determination shown by Canada is of great importance in order for the Iranians to understand that they cannot go on with their race toward nuclear arms. This practical step must set an example of international morality and responsibility to the international community,"

________________________________________________________
Cynthia Ozick
The New Republic,  June 7, 2012
 
On December 17, 2007, on the storied stage of the Poetry Center of the 92nd Street Y in New York, the Hebrew language—its essence, its structure, its metaphysic— entered American discourse in so urgent a manner as to renew, if not to inflame, an ancient argument. The occasion was a public conversation between Marilynne Robinson and Robert Alter: a not uncommon match of novelist with literary scholar. In this instance, though, the scholar is an English Department anomaly: not only a master of the Anglo-American corpus, but a profoundly engaged Hebraist and Bible translator and expositor, whose newly published volume of Englished psalms is the evening’s subject.

The novelist, too, is exceptional among her contemporaries—a writer of religious inclination, open to history and wit, yet not dogged by piety, if piety implies an unthinking mechanics of belief. Robinson may rightly be termed a Protestant novelist, in a way we might hesitate to characterize even the consciously Protestant Updike. Certainly it is impossible to conceive of any other American writer of fiction who could be drawn, as Robinson has been drawn, to an illuminating reconsideration of Calvinism.
 
Protestant and Jew, writer and translator: such a juxtaposition is already an argument. The expectation of one may not be the expectation of the other. The novelist’s intuition for the sacred differs from the translator’s interrogation of the sacred. And beyond this disparity stands the inveterate perplexity, for English speakers, of the seventeenth century biblical sonorities of the King James Version (KJV): can they, should they, be cast out as superannuated? The question is not so much whether the KJV can be surpassed as whether it can be escaped.

From that very platform where Robinson and Alter sit amiably contending, a procession of the great modernists of the twentieth century (among them Eliot and Auden and Marianne Moore and Dylan Thomas) once sent out their indelible voices—voices inexorably reflecting the pulsings and locutions that are the KJV’s venerable legacy to poets. And not only to poets: everyone for whom English is a mother tongue is indebted to the idiom and cadences of the KJV. For Americans, they are the Bible, and the Bible, even now, remains a commanding thread in the American language.
 
It is that thread, or call it a bright ribbon of feeling, that animates Robinson as she confronts Alter’s rendering of Psalm 30, marveling at its “sacred quality of being,” and at the Psalmist’s “I, this amazing universal human singular who integrates experience and interprets it profoundly.” Any translation, she concludes, “is always another testimony.” Here the novelist invokes exaltation in phrases that are themselves exalting, as if dazzled by a vast inner light washing out both the visual and the tactile: hence “testimony,” an ecstatic internal urge. But Alter responds with an illustration that hints at dissent.

The KJV, he points out, has “I will extol thee, O Lord; for thou hast lifted me up,” while for “lifted me up” Alter chooses, instead, “drew me up.” The Hebrew word dolah, he explains, refers to drawing water from a well; the image is of a bottomless crevasse in the earth, fearfully identified in a later verse as “the Pit.” Rather than turning inward, the translator uncovers sacral presence in the concrete meaning of the Hebrew, so that the metaphor of the well instantly seizes on weight and depth and muscle. Which approach is truer, which more authentic?
 
This, then, is the marrow—the unacknowledged pit—of the argument. And it becomes explicit only moments afterward, in Robinson’s beautiful recitation of Alter’s translation of Psalm 8, followed by Alter’s reading of the Hebrew original. The contrast in sound is so arresting that Robinson is asked to comment on it. She hesitates: it is clear that to American ears the Hebrew guttural is as uncongenial as it is unfamiliar. Diffidently, courteously, she concedes, “I have no Hebrew.” “Well, I have,” says Alter.
 
And there it is, the awful cut exposed: the baleful question of birthright. The translator asserts his possession of the language of the Psalms: is this equal to a claim that he alone is their rightful heir? Perhaps yes; but also perhaps not. The novelist, meanwhile, has embraced and passionately internalized those selfsame verses, though in their English dress—then is she too not a genuine heir to their intimacies and majesties? Never mind that Alter, wryly qualifying, goes on to address the issue of vocal disparity: “And if anyone thinks that he is reproducing the sound of Hebrew in English, he is seriously deluded.” A translator’s gesture of humility—the two musical systems cannot be made to meet; it cannot be done. But this comes as an aside and a distraction. What continues to hang in the air is Alter’s emphatic declaration of ownership.
 
Hebrew in America has a bemusing past. The Puritans, out of scriptural piety, once dreamed of establishing Hebrew as the national language. Harvard and Yale in their early years required the study of Hebrew together with Latin and Greek; Yale even now retains its Hebrew motto. Divinity school Hebrew may be diminished, but it endures. And though the Hebrew Bible is embedded in the Old Testament, its native tongue is silenced. “We have no Hebrew,” admits biblically faithful America.

Then can Hebrew, however unheard, be said to be an integral American birthright? Was Alter, on that uneasy evening in New York, enacting a kind of triumphalism, or was he, instead, urging a deeper affinity? Deeper, because the well of Hebrew yields more than the transports of what we have come to call the “spiritual.” Send down a bucket, and up comes a manifold history—the history of a particular people, but also the history of the language itself. An old, old tongue, the enduring vehicle of study and scholarship, public liturgy and private prayer, geographically displaced and dispersed but never abandoned, never fallen into irretrievable disuse, continually renewed, and at the last restored to the utilitarian and the commonplace.

Hebrew as a contemporary language, especially for poetry, is no longer the language of the Bible; but neither is it not the language of the Bible. And despite translation’s heroic bridging, despite its every effort to narrow the idiomatic divide by disclosing the true names of things (the word itself, not merely the halo of the word), we may never see an America steeped in Hebrew melodies.
 
Yet once, for a little time, we did.

THERE WAS A PERIOD, in the first half of the twentieth century, when America—the land, its literature, its varied inhabitants and their histories—was sung in the Hebrew alphabet. Long epic poems on American Indians, the California Gold Rush, the predicament and religious expression of blacks in the American South, the farms and villages and churchgoers of New England, the landscape of Maine—these were the Whitmanesque explorations and celebrations of a rapturous cenacle of Hebrew poets who flourished from before World War I until the aftermath of World War II. But both “cenacle” and “flourished” must be severely qualified.

Strewn as they were among a handful of cities—New York, Cleveland, Boston, Baltimore, Chicago—they rarely met as an established group; and if they flourished, it was in driven pursuit of an elitist art sequestered in nearly hermetic obscurity. They were more a fever and a flowering than a movement: they issued neither pronouncements nor provocations. They had no unified credo. What they had was Hebrew—Hebrew for its own sake, Hebrew as a burning bush in the brain. Apart from those socio-historic narratives on purely American themes, they also wrote in a lyrical vein, or a metaphysical, or a romantic.

Though modernism was accelerating all around them, and had taken root through European influences in the burgeoning Hebrew poetry of Palestine/ Israel, the American Hebraists almost uniformly turned away from the staccato innovations of the modernists. They were, with one or two exceptions, classicists who repudiated make-it-new manifestos as a type of reductive barbarism. Rather than pare the language down, or compress it through imagism and other prosodic maneuvers, they sought to plumb its inexhaustible deeps. And when their hour of conflagration ebbed, it was not only because their readers were destined to be few. Hebrew had returned to its natural home in a Hebrew-speaking sovereign polity: a fulfillment that for the American Hebraists was, unwaveringly, the guiding nerve of their linguistic conviction.

Who, then, were these possessed and unheralded aristocrats, these priestly celebrants unencumbered by a congregation, these monarchs in want of a kingdom? Were they no more than a Diaspora chimera? In a revelatory work of scholarly grandeur that is in itself a hymn to Hebrew, Alan Mintz has revivified both the period and the poets. The capacious volume he calls Sanctuary in the Wilderness is history, biography, translation, criticism, and more—a “more” that is, after all, an evocation of regret. The regret is pervasive and tragic. Think not of some mute inglorious Milton, but of a living and achieving Milton set down in a society unable to decipher so much as a-b-c, and unaware of either the poet’s presence or his significance. Yet Mintz never condescends; with honorable diffidence, he repeatedly refers to this majestic study as merely introductory, an opening for others to come. (Top)
 

[This article has been shortened  in the interests of space.
For the full article please see the On Topic links below.]
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JUSTICE DELAYED IS JUSTICE DENIED
Irwin Cotler
Jerusalem Post, Sept. 6, 2012
 
This November will mark the 65th anniversary of the UN Partition Resolution of November 29, 1947. It is sometimes forgotten – and often not even known – that this was the first-ever blueprint for an Israeli-Palestinian “two states for two peoples” solution. Regrettably, while Jewish leaders accepted the resolution, Arab and Palestinian leaders did not, and by their own acknowledgment, declared war on the nascent Jewish state while also targeting the Jewish nationals living in their respective countries.
 
Indeed, had the UN Partition Resolution been accepted, there would have been no 1948 Arab- Israeli war, no refugees, and none of the pain and suffering of these past 65 years. The annual November 29 UN-organized International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People might well have been a day commemorating a Middle East peace, and the establishment of both the State of Israel and the State of Palestine.
 
Yet the revisionist Middle East narrative – prejudicial to authentic reconciliation and peace between peoples as well as between states – continues to hold that there was only one victim population, Palestinian refugees, and that Israel was responsible for the Palestinian nakba (catastrophe) of 1948.
 
The result is that the pain and plight of 850,000 Jews uprooted and displaced from Arab countries – the forgotten exodus – has been both expunged and eclipsed from both the Middle East peace and justice narratives these past 65 years.
 
Indeed, the upcoming United Nations commemoration of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People – celebrated on the anniversary of the Partition Resolution – will likely ignore, yet again, the plight of Jewish refugees, thereby indulging and encouraging this Middle East revisionism.
 
Moreover, this revisionist narrative has not only eclipsed – and erased – the forgotten exodus from memory and remembrance, but it also denies that it was a forced exodus, and one that resulted from both double rejectionism and double aggression. This is the real nakba – the real double catastrophe.
 
Simply put, the Arab countries not only rejected a proposed Palestinian state and went to war to extinguish the nascent Jewish state, but also targeted the Jewish nationals living in their respective countries, thereby creating two refugee populations – the Palestinian refugee population resulting from the Arab war against Israel, and the Jewish refugees resulting from the Arab war against its own Jewish nationals.
 
Indeed, evidence contained in the report entitled “Jewish Refugees from Arab Countries: The Case for Rights And Redress” documents in detail the pattern of state-sanctioned repression and persecution in Arab countries – including Nuremberg-like laws – that targeted its Jewish populations, resulting in denationalization, forced expulsions, illegal sequestration of property, arbitrary arrest and detention, torture and murder – namely, anti-Jewish pogroms.
 
And while the internal Jewish narrative has often referred to pogroms as European attacks on their Jewish nationals, it has often ignored Arab-Muslim attacks on their Jewish nationals. Moreover, as the report also documents, these massive human rights violations were not only the result of state-sanctioned patterns of oppression in each of the Arab countries, but they were reflective of a collusive blueprint, as embodied in the Draft Law of the Political Committee of the League of Arab States in 1947.
 
This is a story whose voices are only now being heard by many for the first time. It is a story whose painful testimony has been shared too often only among the victims themselves. It is a truth that must now be affirmed, acknowledged, and acted upon in the interests of justice and history.
Regrettably, the United Nations also bears express and continuing responsibility for this distorted Middle East and peace narrative.
 
Since 1948, there have been more than 150 UN resolutions that have specifically dealt with the Palestinian refugee plight. Yet, not one of these resolutions makes any reference to, nor is there any expression of concern for, the plight of the 850,000 Jews displaced from Arab countries. Nor have any of the Arab countries involved – or the Palestinian leadership involved – expressed any acknowledgment, let alone regret, for this pain and suffering, or for their respective responsibility for the pain and suffering.
 
How do we rectify this historical – and ongoing – injustice? What are the rights and remedies available under international human rights and humanitarian law? And what are the corresponding duties and obligations incumbent upon the United Nations, Arab countries, and members of the international community?…
 
It must be appreciated that while justice has long been delayed, it must no longer be denied. The time has come to rectify this historical injustice, and to restore the plight and truth of this forgotten – and forced – exodus of Jews from Arab countries to the Middle East narrative from which they have been expunged and eclipsed these 65 years.
 
…Remedies for victim refugee groups – including rights of remembrance, truth, justice and redress, as mandated under human rights and humanitarian law – must now be invoked for Jews displaced from Arab countries.
 
…In the manner of duties and responsibilities, each of the Arab countries – and the League of Arab States – must acknowledge their role and responsibility in their double aggression of launching an aggressive war against Israel and the perpetration of human rights violations against their respective Jewish nationals. The culture of impunity must end.
 
…The Arab League Peace Plan of 2002 should incorporate the question of Jewish refugees from Arab countries as part of its narrative for an Israeli- Arab peace, just as the Israeli narrative now incorporates the issue of Palestinian refugees in its vision of an Israeli-Arab peace.
 
…On the international level, the UN General Assembly – in the interests of justice and equity – should include reference to Jewish refugees as well as Palestinian refugees in its annual resolutions; the UN Human Rights Council should address, as it has yet to do, the issue of Jewish as well as Palestinian refugees; UN agencies dealing with compensatory efforts for Palestinian refugees should also address Jewish refugees from Arab countries.
 
…The annual November 29 commemoration by the United Nations of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People should be transformed into an International Day of Solidarity for a Two-State – Two-Peoples Solution, as the initial 1947 Partition Resolution intended, including solidarity with all refugees created by the Israeli-Arab conflict.
…Jurisdiction over Palestinian refugees should be transferred from UNRWA to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. There was no justification then – and still less today – for the establishment of a separate body to deal only with Palestinian refugees, particularly when that body has been itself compromised by its incitement to hatred and violence, as well as its revisionist teaching of the Middle East peace and justice narrative.
 
…Any bilateral Israeli-Palestinian negotiations – which one hopes will presage a just and lasting peace – must include Jewish refugees as well as Palestinian refugees in an inclusive joinder of discussion.
 
…During any and all discussions on the Middle East by the Quartet and others, any explicit reference to Palestinian refugees should be paralleled by a reference to Jewish refugees from Arab countries.
 
Some governments have made welcome progress on this question, such as the US Congress in recently adopting legislation recognizing the plight of Jewish refugees and requiring that the issue be raised in any and all talks on Middle East peace. I have a motion before the Canadian Parliament in this regard which I hope will soon be adopted. Legislatures around the world should hold hearings on the issue to ensure public awareness and action, to allow for victims’ testimony, and to right the historical record – an effort in which I trust that Canada will be engaged this fall.
 
In sum, the exclusion and denial of rights and redress to Jewish refugees from Arab countries continues to prejudice authentic negotiations between the parties and a just and lasting peace between them. Let there be no mistake about it – as I have said before and will continue to affirm: Where there is no remembrance, there is no truth; where there is no truth, there will be no justice; where there is no justice, there will be no reconciliation; and where there is no reconciliation, there will be no peace – which we all seek.(Top)
 

 

 

ON TOPIC