Tag: Jonathan Pollard


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


Don’t Parole Pollard: Jerusalem Post, July 30, 2015— Last week, screaming headlines were generated worldwide by breaking news in The Wall Street Journal that the US was preparing to release Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard after 30 years in prison.

Israel’s Choice: Conventional War Now, or Nuclear War Later: Norman Podhoretz, Wall Street Journal, July 28, 2015 — Almost everyone who opposes the deal President Obama has struck with Iran hotly contests his relentless insistence that the only alternative to it is war. No, they claim, there is another alternative, and that is “a better deal.”

It’s Time for the Netherlands to Apologize: Abraham Cooper & Manfred Gerstenfeld, Wall Street Journal, July 29, 2015  — A remarkable event took place recently at the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles.

Syrian Christians and the English Jew: Charles Krauthammer, Washington Post, July 30, 2015 — Christianity, whose presence in the Middle East predates Islam’s by 600 years, is about to be cleansed from the Middle East.


On Topic Links


Satirical Interview About America Lifting the Sanctions on Iran: Youtube, July 21, 2015

Jonathan Pollard’s Release Shouldn’t Placate Iran Deal Critics: Max Boot, Commentary, July 28, 2015

The Troubling Question in the French Jewish Community: Is It Time to Leave?: Marie Brenner, Vanity Fair, August 2015

The Real Feminism Exists in Israel: CIJ News, 2015

Fleeing Nazism, Settling In Ecuador: Film Tells Jewish Families' Story: Kristina Puga, NBC News, June 19, 2015




DON’T PAROLE POLLARD                                                                                              

Jerusalem Post, July 30, 2015


Last week, screaming headlines were generated worldwide by breaking news in The Wall Street Journal that the US was preparing to release Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard after 30 years in prison. This announcement, predictably, unleashed a tidal wave of media coverage. A subsequent announcement a few days later officially confirming imminent parole for Pollard added to the deluge of reports, which continue unabated.


There is something suspect in the timing of these news stories. Jerusalem’s rejection of Pollard’s release as intended to mitigate Israel’s displeasure with the disastrous Iranian nuclear pact was predictable. However, denials by US officials, claiming that Pollard’s release is unrelated to the Iranian deal were less predictable. There were simply too many denials, at too high a level and employing too strident a tone to be credible.


Clearly, the media frenzy about Pollard occurs precisely when the Obama administration needs headlines diverted away from the Iranian deal. The public’s attention instead has become focused on a subject that many love to hate: Israel. No one loves a spy. Everyone hates an Israeli spy. Pollard, who has been viciously bashed in the media for nearly three decades, is hated more than most. News of his impending release on parole has revived the vilification of Pollard to levels which have not been seen since his arrest 30 years ago, and along with him, the vilification of Israel.


This, despite the now-documented record, bolstered by newly declassified materials and testimony by ranking American officials which show that Pollard’s life sentence was “excessive” and “unjust.” Considering the injustice, one has to wonder why Pollard is being paroled after 30 years instead of being set free. Parole is not freedom. It is, by definition, conditional release, which can be revoked at any time, for any number of very complex and often inscrutable reasons, including thinly veiled political motives.


The Jerusalem Post was the first to report that the life sentence that Pollard received after his arrest in 1985 is a 45-year sentence, not 30 years, as a life sentence is defined today. That means that under the terms of his parole, Pollard will have the balance of a 45-year sentence hanging over his head. He can be rearrested and sent back to prison for another 15 years – with all the accompanying screaming headlines, at any time for the next decade and a half.


It would be naïve not to suspect that in a case so politically charged as this one, that the conditions of his parole may be set up to be so restrictive and so complex as to invite or even guarantee failure. Given that the announcements of Pollard’s impending release on parole have generated such a media backlash, replete with Israel-bashing and Pollard-bashing, just imagine what a field day his return to prison would be for the world media. No reason would have to be given for his rearrest. It could be done on any pretext for any number of undeclared and unsubstantiated reasons, at any time that the US decides to exert pressure on Israel. As the US has repeatedly demonstrated, Pollard is an easy means to foment world opinion against Israel.


Pollard is the only person in the history of the US to receive a life sentence for spying for an ally. In a recent interview, former CIA Chief James Woolsey again confirmed the excessiveness of Pollard’s punishment: “Spies from friendly countries, like the Philippines and Greece, normally stay in prison in the US for just a few years. Under 10 years. Keeping Pollard for 30 years was excessive.”


Woolsey said that Pollard should be free to return home to Israel, because he no longer poses any threat to the US. “The reason one would keep a convicted spy in the United States is because [of] the information he had….” Woolsey stated unequivocally that Pollard’s 30-year-old knowledge poses no risk and that Israel is a friend of America.


US Attorney-General Loretta Lynch said it all when she recently confirmed that Pollard has served his time in full. Parole is just too convenient a tactic for continuing to keep Israel off balance while holding Pollard hostage for another 15 years. Pollard does not deserve parole. He deserves to be set free.






ISRAEL’S CHOICE: CONVENTIONAL WAR NOW, OR NUCLEAR WAR LATER                                           

Norman Podhoretz

Wall Street Journal, July 28, 2015


Almost everyone who opposes the deal President Obama has struck with Iran hotly contests his relentless insistence that the only alternative to it is war. No, they claim, there is another alternative, and that is “a better deal.” To which Mr. Obama responds that Iran would never agree to the terms his critics imagine could be imposed. These terms would include the toughening rather than the lifting of sanctions; “anytime, anywhere” nuclear-plant inspections instead of the easily evaded ones to which he has agreed; the elimination rather than the freezing of Iran’s nuclear infrastructure; and the corresponding elimination of the “sunset” clause that leaves Iran free after 10 years to build as many nuclear weapons as it wishes.


Since I too consider Mr. Obama’s deal a calamity, I would be happy to add my voice to the critical chorus. Indeed, I agree wholeheartedly with the critics that, far from “cutting off any pathway Iran could take to develop a nuclear weapon,” as he claims, the deal actually offers Tehran not one but two paths to acquiring the bomb. Iran can either cheat or simply wait for the sunset clause to kick in, while proceeding more or less legally to prepare for that glorious day.


Unfortunately, however, I am unable to escape the conclusion that Mr. Obama is right when he dismisses as a nonstarter the kind of “better deal” his critics propose. Nor, given that the six other parties to the negotiations are eager to do business with Iran, could these stringent conditions be imposed if the U.S. were to walk away without a deal. The upshot is that if the objective remains preventing Iran from getting the bomb, the only way to do so is to bomb Iran. And there’s the rub. Once upon a time the U.S. and just about every other country on earth believed that achieving this objective was absolutely necessary to the safety of the world, and that it could be done through negotiations. Yet as the years wore on, it became increasingly clear to everyone not blinded by wishful delusions that diplomacy would never work.


Simultaneously it also became clear that the U.S. and the six other parties to the negotiations, despite their protestations that force remained “on the table,” would never resort to it (and that Mr. Obama was hellbent on stopping Israel from taking military action on its own). Hence they all set about persuading themselves that their fears of a nuclear Iran had been excessive, and that we could live with a nuclear Iran as we had lived with Russia and China during the Cold War. Out the window went the previously compelling case against that possibility made by authoritative scholars like Bernard Lewis, and with it went the assumption that the purpose of the negotiations was to prevent Iran from getting the bomb.


For our negotiating partners, the new goal was to open the way to lucrative business contracts, but for Mr. Obama it was to remove the biggest obstacle to his long-standing dream of a U.S. détente with Iran. To realize this dream, he was ready to concede just about anything the Iranians wanted—without, of course, admitting that this was tantamount to acquiescence in an Iran armed with nuclear weapons and the rockets to deliver them. To repeat, then, what cannot be stressed too often: If the purpose were still to prevent Iran from getting the bomb, no deal that Iran would conceivably agree to sign could do the trick, leaving war as the only alternative. To that extent, Mr. Obama is also right. But there is an additional wrinkle. For in allowing Iran to get the bomb, he is not averting war. What he is doing is setting the stage for a nuclear war between Iran and Israel.


The reason stems from the fact that, with hardly an exception, all of Israel believes that the Iranians are deadly serious when they proclaim that they are bound and determined to wipe the Jewish state off the map. It follows that once Iran acquires the means to make good on this genocidal commitment, each side will be faced with only two choices: either to rely on the fear of a retaliatory strike to deter the other from striking first, or to launch a pre-emptive strike of its own. Yet when even a famous Iranian “moderate” like the former President Hashemi Rafsanjani has said—as he did in 2001, contemplating a nuclear exchange—that “the use of even one nuclear bomb inside Israel will destroy everything. However, it will only harm the Islamic world. It is not irrational to contemplate such an eventuality,” how can deterrence work?


The brutal truth is that the actual alternatives before us are not Mr. Obama’s deal or war. They are conventional war now or nuclear war later. John Kerry recently declared that Israel would be making a “huge mistake” to take military action against Iran. But Mr. Kerry, as usual, is spectacularly wrong. Israel would not be making a mistake at all, let alone a huge one. On the contrary, it would actually be sparing itself—and the rest of the world—a nuclear conflagration in the not too distant future. 




IT’S TIME FOR THE NETHERLANDS TO APOLOGIZE                                                                   

Abraham Cooper & Manfred Gerstenfeld                          

Wall Street Journal, July 29, 2015


A remarkable event took place recently at the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles. For the first time in history, a Japanese firm publicly apologized to the few surviving former American prisoners of war whom they had used as forced labor during World War II. A senior executive of Mitsubishi Materials Corp. bowed deeply to 94-year-old James Murphy, who, during the war, barely survived his ordeal as a POW. Many of his American, Australian, British and Dutch comrades did not.


Does an apology, seven decades later, make a difference? It certainly did to these victims. It indicates that the successors of the persecutors agree with the persecuted on the historical interpretation of the injustice. It’s a lesson that warrants some reflection in Europe today. And if there’s one country more than any others that needs to emulate the Japanese model, to learn the value of an apology, it’s the Netherlands.


By now, almost all the European countries that were occupied by the Germans during World War II have admitted to their collaboration with the Nazi regime. Most have apologized, including, most recently, Luxembourg. The one major exception is the Netherlands, which has consistently refused to admit the failure of its wartime government, then exiled to London, to express any interest in what was happening to Jewish citizens under the German occupation.


Within Western Europe, the Netherlands was the country with the highest percentage of Jewish citizens murdered during the Holocaust. When the Germans conquered the Netherlands in 1940, there were 140,000 Jews living there; 102,000 of them would be murdered during the war. Those who were deported to the death camps in Poland were arrested by Dutch policemen, transported by the Dutch railways and guarded by the Dutch military police. Most of these Jewish deportees came from families that had lived in the Netherlands for centuries.


The Dutch government only inquired about the fate of these Jews a year and half after the deportations to extermination camps in Poland had begun. This despite both the Dutch and Polish governments in exile being located in the same building in London. In 1943, Henri Dentz, a Dutch employee of the Dutch government, was tasked to write a report on the deportations. He estimated that 90% of those deported had already been murdered. But, as he would later declare before a Dutch postwar Parliamentary commission, no one in the government was even willing to read the report.


Occasionally, the modern Dutch government’s failure to apologize to its Jewish community returns to the spotlight. Prime Minister Mark Rutte has been asked twice by members of Parliament to admit to the Netherlands’ past failures and express the government’s apologies. In February he referred to a speech Queen Beatrix delivered to the Knesset in 1995, in which she said the Dutch people hadn’t been able to prevent the destruction of their Jewish fellow citizens, and in which she didn’t refer to the government in exile at all. Mr. Rutte’s answer makes it clear: The Netherlands just doesn’t want to admit its collaboration or its government’s disinterest in its Jewish citizens during the war.


This isn’t a result of some Dutch cultural resistance to apologies. In 2011, the Netherlands apologized to the Indonesian widows of the village of Rawagede, on the island of Java, where in 1947 during the country’s colonial war all the village’s male inhabitants were shot to death by Dutch soldiers, without any process of law. In 2014 the Dutch Minister of Defense Jeanine Hennis apologized on behalf of the government to the families of three Bosnian Muslims who, after having been expelled from the Dutch military compound in Srebrenica in 1995, were killed by Bosnian Serbs who were occupying the town. These apologies were made public earlier this year after an agreement was reached about a payment to the three families.


The government also has apologized for murders in which it played no direct role at all. Deputy Prime Minister Els Borst was murdered in her home in 2014, and another woman was killed in January of this year. Prosecutors have apologized to the victims’ families for not having better supervised the brother of the second victim, a man allegedly suffering mental illness with violent tendencies who has admitted to killing his sister and will soon stand trial for Borst’s murder, which he denies.


All of which makes the refusal to apologize to Dutch Jews and their families more puzzling. One can only speculate why Mr. Rutte refuses to apologize, especially when other Dutch politicians have said over the years that the government should. Borst herself declared years ago that she would support such apologies. Another former deputy prime minister, Gerrit Zalm, who had been a leader of Mr. Rutte’s liberal party, has said the same. Whatever the reason for the delay, the time has come for the younger generations of Dutch people to demand a full accounting of the darkest period in the history of the Netherlands.                


Manfred Gerstenfeld is a CIJR Academic Fellow, and Author of

The War of a Million Cuts: The Struggle against the Deligitimization of Israel and the Jews,

and the Growth of New Anti-Semitism (2015), Published by RVP Press






SYRIAN CHRISTIANS AND THE ENGLISH JEW                                                                              

Charles Krauthammer                     

Washington Post, July 30, 2015


Christianity, whose presence in the Middle East predates Islam’s by 600 years, is about to be cleansed from the Middle East. Egyptian Copts may have found some respite under President Abdel Fatah al-Sissi, but after their persecution under the previous Muslim Brotherhood government, they know how precarious their existence in 90 percent Muslim Egypt remains. Elsewhere, it’s much worse. Twenty-one Copts were beheaded by the Islamic State affiliate in Libya for the crime of being Christian. In those large swaths of Syria and Iraq where the Islamic State rules, the consequences for Christians are terrible — enslavement, exile, torture, massacre, crucifixion.


Over the decades, many Middle Eastern Christians, seeing the rise of political Islam and the intensification of savage sectarian wars, have simply left. Lebanon’s Christians, once more than half the population, are now estimated at about a third. The number of Christians under Palestinian Authority rule in the West Bank has dwindled — in Bethlehem, for example, dropping by half. (The exception, of course, is Israel, where Christians, Arab and non-Arab, enjoy not just protection but civil rights. Their numbers are increasing. But that’s another story.)


Most endangered are the Christians of Syria. Four years ago they numbered about 1.1 million. By now 700,000 have fled. Many of those remaining in country are caught either under radical Islamist rule or in the crossfire between factions. As the larger Christian world looks on passively, their future, like the future of Middle Eastern Christianity writ large, will be determined by Iran, Hezbollah, the Assad dynasty, the Islamic State, Jabhat al-Nusra, various other local factions and by regional powers seeking advantage.


Meanwhile, on a more limited scale, there are things that can be done. Three weeks ago, for example, 150  Syrian Christians were airlifted to refuge and safety in Poland. That’s the work of the Weidenfeld Safe Havens Fund. It provided the flight and will support the refugees for as long as 18 months as they try to remake their lives.


The person behind all this is Lord George Weidenfeld: life peer, philanthropist, publisher (Weidenfeld & Nicolson, established 1949), Europeanist (founder of the Institute for Strategic Dialogue to promote classically liberal European values), proud public Jew (honorary vice president of the World Jewish Congress), lifelong Zionist (he once served as the chief of cabinet to Israel’s first president, Chaim Weizmann) and, as he will delightedly tell you, the last person to fight a duel at the University of Vienna — with sabers, against a Nazi. (No one died.)


Weidenfeld, now 95, once invoked Torschlusspanik , “a German phrase which roughly translates as the ‘panic before the closing of the doors,’ ” to explain why “I’m a man in a hurry.” Remarkably healthy and stunningly energetic (as distant cousins, we are often in touch), he appears nowhere near any exit doors. But he is aware of and deeply troubled by the doors closing in on a community in Syria largely abandoned by the world.


In context, the scale of the initial rescue is tragically small. The objective is to rescue 2,000 families. Compared to the carnage in Syria wrought by the pitiless combatants — 230,000 dead, half the 22 million population driven from their homes — it’s a paltry sum. But these are real people who will be saved. And for Weidenfeld, that counts.


Yet he has been criticized for rescuing just Christians. In fact, the U.S. government will not participate because the rescue doesn’t extend to Yazidis, Druze or Shiites. This comes under the heading of no good deed going unpunished. It’s a rather odd view that because he cannot do everything, he should be admonished for trying to do something. If Weidenfeld were a man of infinite means, the criticism might be valid. As it is, he says rather sensibly, “I can’t save the world.” The Arab states, particularly the Gulf monarchies, are surely not without resources. With so few doing so little for so many, he’s doing what he can.


And for him, it’s personal. In 1938, still a teenager, he was brought from Vienna to London where the Plymouth Brethren took him in and provided for him. He never forgot. He is trying to return the kindness, he explains, to repay the good that Christians did for him 77 years ago. In doing so, he is not just giving hope and a new life to 150 souls, soon to be thousands. He has struck a blow for something exceedingly rare: simple, willful righteousness.



CIJR Wishes All Our Friends & Supporters: Shabbat Shalom!






On Topic


Satirical Interview About America Lifting the Sanctions on Iran: Youtube, July 21, 2015

Jonathan Pollard’s Release Shouldn’t Placate Iran Deal Critics: Max Boot, Commentary, July 28, 2015—Unlike many Israelis and American Jews, I have never found myself in the Jonathan Pollard rooting section.

The Troubling Question in the French Jewish Community: Is It Time to Leave?: Marie Brenner, Vanity Fair, August 2015 —How can anyone be allowed to paint a swastika on the statue of Marianne, the goddess of French liberty, in the very center of the Place de la République?”

The Real Feminism Exists in Israel: CIJ News, 2015—There was a time when America was at the cutting edge of change for women. Not anymore. Women are planning to vote for Hillary Clinton-not because of her accomplishments or her platform, but because she is a woman.

Fleeing Nazism, Settling In Ecuador: Film Tells Jewish Families' Story: Kristina Puga, NBC News, June 19, 2015— Eva Zelig is an Emmy-award winning producer who loves shedding light on various topics from health to global warming.





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 




Statement by Irwin Cotler on the Jerusalem Synagogue Attack: Nov. 18, 2014— Mr. Speaker, early this morning in Jerusalem, two Palestinian men wielding knives, axes and guns stormed a synagogue, killing four people and injuring eight, including one Canadian.

The Accomplishment of Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, A Soldier of Allah: Paul Merkley, Bayview Review, Nov. 18, 2014— Islam is becoming more dangerous for everybody every day.

Pollard’s Parole Plastering: Gil Hoffman, Jerusalem Post, Nov. 19, 2014 — Today, Israeli agent Jonathan Pollard enters the 30th year of his life sentence for the crime of passing classified information to an ally.

Picking up the Pieces of a Lost Culture: Eitan Arom, Jerusalem Post, Nov. 19, 2014 — I’m traveling across the bleak Ukrainian countryside with half a dozen Israeli journalists, two history professors in animated discussion, an employee of Wikipedia and two native speakers of Ukrainian.


On Topic Links


Rabbi Jonathan Sacks: "To be free, you have to let go of hate." (Video): Stand With Us, Nov. 13, 2014

Domestic Radicalization and the Arab-Israeli Conflict: Max Boot, Commentary, Nov. 18, 2014 

The Essentiality of Anger: David M. Weinberg, Jerusalem Post, Nov. 20, 2014

In This Struggle, Israel Can Prevail: Dr. Mordechai Kedar, Arutz Sheva, Nov. 20, 2014




ON THE JERUSALEM SYNAGOGUE ATTACK                                                    

Nov. 18, 2014


Mr. Speaker, early this morning in Jerusalem, two Palestinian men wielding knives, axes and guns stormed a synagogue, killing four people and injuring eight, including one Canadian. This brutal attack is part of a recent escalation in terrorist violence. Indeed, on the day of the terrorist attack in this House, a terrorist attack killed a three-month-old baby in Jerusalem, and others since. Moreover, this escalation cannot be divorced from the incitement to hate and violence and the glorification of terror propagated by much of the Palestinian media and leadership, where Palestinian authority officials have praised terrorists as “heroic martyrs”, declared that Jerusalem needs blood to purify itself of Jews, while Hamas celebrated the attack and President Abbas' party's Facebook page today announced that candy was being distributed in celebration of it. I join with all hon. members in offering our heartfelt condolences to the victims of today's attack, while we call for an end to incitement, an end to the glorification of terror, an end to the terror itself, and a commitment to peace and non-violence.



CIJR Congratulates Irwin Cotler, MP for Mount Royal, and former Justice Minister, for being honoured with Maclean’s Magazine “Parliamentarian of the Year.” [to Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]





A SOLDIER OF ALLAH                                                                                   

Paul Merkley                                                                                                                  

Bayview Review, Nov. 18, 2014


Islam is becoming more dangerous for everybody every day. In a typical evening broadcast on any of the major global news-networks at least one in three leading items brings to our ears and eyes the horrific effects of the command of Muhammad to “slay the unbeliever.” Typically, there will be stories about this day’s work by suicide-bombers: scores of people who had been going about their daily lives, removed from the earth in the blink of an eye because of the need of dedicated individuals and groups to make theological statements. As I was writing these words the emergency services were cleaning up the human muck left by such incidents in several Arab countries from Mali to Pakistan, in Indonesia and in Muslim parts of Africa as well as in parts of Africa being newly-won for Allah from nominally Christian regimes, such as that in Nigeria. Not always at the top of the news but always going on somewhere are similar events in the Muslim parts of China, Central Asia and the South Pacific – everywhere, in short.


The usual intent of these mass-murderers is to display to the world how utterly right he or they are about a point of theological difference between real Muslims and false Muslims. The Holy Qur’an teaches that such differences cannot be set right by argument, because entering into argument with falsifiers of the truth would have to begin with recognizing the right of falsehood to exist at all. Being the inheritors of a spiritual tradition that has at its heart the conviction that God, the Creator of All, has made us in his image (Genesis 1:26), equipped with free will and intelligence, fully responsible for our choices and thus always liable to error — we cannot grasp this zero-sum thinking, and we inevitably go wrong when we imagine that we can – that is, when we rush into the debate seeking to help things out by separating the “moderates” from the “radicals.”


Within the world of Islam, there have always been elements so fanatical – nowadays, our journalists call them “Islamists” — that the political leaders of the time have had to rally the community against them, using the full force of loyal and equally bloody-minded armies to crush and pulverize them – for the sake of the continuity of life. In the absence of such loyal and bloody-minded armies, the leaders of the regime have no alternative but to flee the land. In this connection, the story of the “Assassins” of the Eleventh to Thirteenth Centuries is instructive.


A few weeks ago there went out from the website of Islamic State to all the faithful everywhere in the world this ukase from Abu Muhammad al Adnan: “If you are not able to find an IED, a bullet, then single out the disbelieving American, Frenchman or any of their allies. Smash his head with a rock, or slaughter him with a knife, or run him over with your car.” Here we find up-to-date and practical advice for carrying out the mandate that Muhammad left to all the faithful: “Fight and slay the Pagans wherever you find them, and seize them, beleaguer them, and lie in wait for them in every stratagem (Sura 9:5.) ISIS’s hot-off-the-press instructions lack nothing to make them immediately applicable to daily life. Paradoxically, as the Islamist organizations have mutated to meet the challenge of commanding millions of souls in the age of the internet and cell-phone, unlimited possibilities for solitary response have also ramified – making use of objects lying as close to hand today as the knife was in the days of the Prophet, items for which the world owes everything to European invention and nothing to Islam.


Now cottage-industry jihad has come to Canada. In recent weeks, Canadian citizens have been murdered by solitary Muslim zealots in broad light of day because their uniforms identified them as Canadian military. Progressive politicians and commentators are exhausting their deposit of credibility as they argue whether such creatures as Michael Zehaf-Bibeau and Martin Rouleau were “solitary agents” or foot-soldiers in the ranks of some Islamist organization, known or yet to be uncovered. The first murdered Nathan Cirillo, a reservist-soldier standing guard at the National Cenotaph and then ran up Parliament Hill and into the Centre Block intent on murdering parliamentarians; the second used his car to murder soldier Patrice Vincent on a street-curb in St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec. Each left unambiguous testimony to his conviction that he was a soldier for Allah.) Neither of these individuals needed to have been a card-carrying member of anything in order to win the prize of eternal martyrdom held out by these internet scholars of Islam. Here is the paradox: by acting utterly alone, seeking the purpose of his life in annihilation of himself and others, each of these men was accomplishing, all by himself, everything for which all the Islamist organizations exist. This is not the sort of individualism that Western political philosophers like to celebrate.


Many commentators (including the Leader of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition in Canada’s Parliament) persist in ringing the changes on the theme that Zehaf-Bibeau’s motives are a mystery. (“Mulcair deems Ottawa shooter Michael Zehaf Bibeau a criminal, but not a terrorist,” National Post, October 29, 2014.) It is politically urgent to such people to keep maximum distance between this mad man’s deed and the Muslim community. But most people acknowledge that Zehaf-Bibeau knew exactly what he was doing, and that we do not need specialized sociological or therapeutic vocabulary to comprehend it. He simply wanted everything that we belong to die. The marvelous fact is that Zehaf-Bibeau accomplished just the opposite of what he intended. He assaulted the Center Bloc and briefly made most of the Members of Parliament his prisoners, cowering in realistic fear for their lives. But when they were let out, they were changed for ever. Only a few hours later, we saw the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Official Opposition and the Leader of the Liberal step out of their places in the House and embrace without embarrassment – something none of us ever expected to live to see!


An even more profound and widespread effect could be seen when Remembrance Day came around a few days later. For several decades now, the Remembrance Day ceremonies at the National Memorial in Ottawa and those held at the thousands of municipal monuments throughout the land have stood alone as occasions in our public life when Christian hymns are sung aloud by children’s choirs and by unembarrassed crowds of civilians and when prayers are addressed out loud to God — and it is all televised without interruption! This years’ Remembrance Day (as noted by the Hamilton Spectator) was marked by “record commemorative crowds, soaring poppy sales, a revived drive for a statutory holiday and media coverage stretching over several days…. Far from fading in significance as once feared, Remembrance Day is resonating with Canadians more now than it has in decades.” (Hamilton Spectator, November 7; “Remembrance Day 2014; Record-Breaking Sales Lead to Poppy shortage,” Huffingtonpost.ca, November 7, 2014.) And this year, as a bonus, there has been a stream of statements from all the Muslim organizations and from the Mosques affirming loyalty to Canada and repudiation of violence. None of this bears any resemblance to what this soldier of Allah intended.


Paul Merkley is a CIJR Academic Fellow






POLLARD’S PAROLE PLASTERING                                                                      

Gil Hoffman

Jerusalem Post, Nov. 19, 2014


Today, Israeli agent Jonathan Pollard enters the 30th year of his life sentence for the crime of passing classified information to an ally. As he does so, he is aware that yet another possible door to his long-awaited freedom has just slammed shut. The first time such a door closed was November 21, 1985, when he was prevented from entering the Israeli Embassy in Washington and arrested outside. Today also marks another significant anniversary: 19 years since the day he became eligible for parole after 10 years in prison. Since then, he has decided repeatedly not even to try and seek parole, because his release would be conditional, and his lawyers had told him that he had no chance in a parole hearing where the legal deck would be overwhelmingly stacked against him.


Many have questioned why Pollard never even tried the parole path and focused instead on seeking clemency – asking presidents of the United States to commute his life sentence to the time he had already served. But after so many years of failure, that strategy was secretly reconsidered and replaced last year, according to documents and information revealed exclusively to The Jerusalem Post. Pollard finally applied for parole in December 2013. The person who persuaded him to take that step was the man in whose hands his fate lies: US President Barack Obama. Obama’s statements when he came to Israel in March 2013 left no doubt about what approach Pollard should take. The president ended hopes that he would announce clemency for Pollard during the visit as part of a so-called charm offensive. But he hinted that if Pollard were to apply for parole, he would be treated like any other prisoner. “I have no plans for releasing Jonathan Pollard immediately, but what I am going to be doing is make sure that he – like every other American who has been sentenced – is accorded the same kinds of review and same examination of the equities that any other individual would be provided,” Obama told Channel 2 anchorwoman Yonit Levi in an interview. Obama said his obligation as president was to uphold his country’s laws and make sure they were applied consistently, “to make sure that every individual is treated fairly and equally.”


Here was the opportunity that Pollard had been waiting for. He felt he had been treated unfairly and unequally for so many years, and now the president was hinting – in his view, even promising the Israeli people on record on the highly rated nightly news – that he would fix that. Pollard’s parole hearing was scheduled for April 1. But then a different opportunity came, the sort Pollard had always made a point of rejecting. Obama was ready to commute Pollard’s sentence as a gesture to Israel for releasing Israeli Arab prisoners as part of an American-brokered diplomatic process with the Palestinians. That process nearly brought Pollard home in time for the Passover Seder, but it ultimately failed. Pollard withdrew his parole application so it would not be connected to a trade for terrorists. Only when the trade talk died down did he reapply for a parole hearing, which was scheduled for July 1. He and the team working for his release then had a limited time to make efforts to ensure the parole hearing would go well. To that end, they enlisted the man who is arguably the most respected Israeli in America – possibly the only Israeli who enjoys a close relationship with Obama: then-president Shimon Peres.


Peres’s role in bringing about Pollard’s release was more than symbolic. He was the prime minister at the time of Pollard’s arrest. At the time, he did not alert the embassy staff about Pollard to ensure he would be let in, and he gave the US documents with Pollard’s fingerprints that incriminated him. Many Israelis saw Pollard’s continued incarceration as a lingering stain on Peres’s decades of public service that neither of the medals he recently received in Washington could remove. The two presidents were due to meet in the US capital during Peres’s final tour in office on June 25, six days before the parole hearing. Peres vowed to the people of Israel to take action for Pollard, and the Israeli agent’s pro-bono lawyers prepared him meticulously. Respected New York attorneys Eliot Lauer and Jacques Semmelman, who have represented Pollard for free for 15 years, met with Peres’s aides extensively to explain how the US parole process worked. Lauer reviewed the information with Peres himself at Washington’s Willard Hotel immediately before he met with Obama.


Peres’s message to Obama was to be the following: You don’t have to grant clemency. In fact, you can distance yourself from the matter completely. Just privately let the US Justice Department know that you don’t oppose paroling Pollard and letting him leave for Israel. Obama would not need to get his hands dirty, just keep the commitment he had made to Israelis 15 months earlier to treat Pollard fairly, like any other prisoner, and let his parole be assessed naturally on the merits of his case. Following the meeting, Peres’s diplomatic adviser Nadav Tamir reported back to the lawyers with good news: The message had indeed been delivered. Peres’s office leaked to the press that Obama had personally referred the matter to his attorney-general and close confidant Eric Holder – the head of the American Justice Department and the chief law-enforcement officer of the US government. “The entire nation is interested in releasing Pollard, and I am the emissary of the nation,” Peres told reporters after the meeting. “I don’t think of myself as Shimon. I am the representative of the State of Israel, and I speak in the name of its people.”…

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





PICKING UP THE PIECES OF A LOST CULTURE                                               

Eitan Arom                                                                                                                        

Jerusalem Post, Nov. 19, 2014


I’m traveling across the bleak Ukrainian countryside with half a dozen Israeli journalists, two history professors in animated discussion, an employee of Wikipedia and two native speakers of Ukrainian. Together, we form the press attaché for Limmud FSU, an organization that travels the former Soviet Union to stoke the heritage and Jewish life of the Jews still there. We pull off the highway into a town called Brody in Western Ukraine and stop at the main square. In the middle of the overgrown grassy plaza, facing two Soviet-looking apartment blocs and a convenience store, is a synagogue. Or more precisely, what used to be a synagogue – its roof has fallen in and the interior is choked with undergrowth.


We all troop out of the bus. I turn up my collar against the damp and chill. The Great Synagogue of Brody is a metaphor for Eastern European Jewry, written in stone. Cut down at the apex of its greatness, once the site of rich culture, legend and scholarship, it is now derelict. It is a faint shadow of what it was, much like the community to which it once played home. And yet, Europe is full of these ruins. Walking around the perimeter of the eerie monument, I ask myself: what am I supposed to feel – other than the cold? Thousands of Jewish cemeteries, schools, mikvaot (ritual baths) and places of worship face a similar fate across Ukraine and the rest of Eastern Europe. Languishing for many long years under the cruel and intentional neglect of the Soviet regime, they now overstretch the resources of the region’s much-diminished Jewish population to protect.


It’s hard to know why these derelict or otherwise reconstituted buildings are so important to the Jewish people. Certainly, history has practical value – there’s that oft-repeated idiom about knowing your past to avoid repeating it – but it doesn’t explain why Jewish historiography can put such a heavy focus on individual people, places, stories. Surely the broader picture of a people destroyed by industrialized, political hatred does the trick, right? Yet the ghost of a culture that lives in Eastern Europe holds an attraction for today’s Jews that I don’t pretend to fully understand. Among those traveling with the Limmud FSU press corps is Fania Oz-Salzberger, a professor of history at Haifa University and the daughter of Israeli novel-ist Amos Oz. Rovne is the childhood home of her grandmother, Oz’s mother, and is memorialized in Oz’s novel A Tale of Love and Darkness, soon to be a motion picture starring Natalie Portman. But the Rovne of Oz’s book – a community with more than 20,000 Jews – is gone. The house where Oz-Salzberger’s mother grew up stands (we attended the installment of a plaque at the site) but the inhabitants share no relation with her other than their goodwill. Even in the absence of the Jewish population they once housed – the same population that in-vented the Hassidic movement – the abandoned or re-purposed structures that mark our Eastern European heritage command our inexplicable attention and respect.


About three hours by car to the southeast of Rovne is Lviv, where Limmud FSU’s annual festival of culture and learning in Ukraine took place this month. The city of pristine Polish architecture is a draw for history-seekers both Jewish and otherwise. Krysztof Willmann is an amateur historian of Lviv, a Warsaw resident who dedicated himself to researching the place his parents fled after his father ran afoul of the Gestapo. After retiring from his career as a PhD economist, Willmann spent two years in Lviv documenting the rich history of the town. He researches people and places, participating, for example, in the annual International Bruno Schulz Festival celebrating the Jewish artist and critic slaughtered in the Holocaust. It’s a vocation that costs rather than earns him money. He describes finding and purchasing with his own funds a letter written by a famous prewar actress from Lviv.


What’s the point of this whole business? Why does Willmann care about an actress from a city he didn’t grow up in? Why do we Jews care about old hulks of buildings that haven’t seen Jewish worship since before the war? Something of an answer to those questions can be found in the achingly tragic and hysterically funny story told in Liev Schreiber’s Everything is Illuminated, based on Jonathan Safran Foer’s novel of the same name. The main character, named Jonathan Safran Foer after the author, is a magpie-like collector of family heirlooms, seeking items for his collection from grandfather’s shtetl in Western Ukraine. When he reaches the site of the shtetl, only one woman remains, a recluse whose sister was his grandfather’s sweetheart. She reveals to Foer that before being killed by the Nazis, her sister left her wedding ring buried under the ground, “in case someone should come searching one day.” “So they would have something to find?” asks Foer’s translator. “No, it does not exist for you,” she answers “You exist for it. You have come because it exists.


Stories don’t exist for us. They exist whether we see them there or not, and they exist for their own sake. Given that they are there, collecting them seems the only human thing to do. Foer, Oz-Salzberger, Willmann – these people are collectors. They collect stories, mo-ments, and objects from the past. The exercise is important for its own sake. As a journalist, this is a fact I should probably have grasped by now. After all, my world is made up of stories. I scurry around looking for plotlines, characters, settings, anecdotes, and disseminate them to as many people as possible. I do it for it’s own sake. I do it because these stories exist. Because, unequivocally and above all else, they are human.




Friends, On the Sabbath, tomorrow, congregations across Canada, will show their solidarity with our brothers and sisters in Israel – see the link below. On Tuesday, the terrorists struck at the core of our identity as Jews – of who we are – they deliberately committed a grotesque and monstrous attack against innocent worshippers, rabbis, praying to God in the sanctity of a synagogue, a house of worship in Har Noff Israel.


The terrorists want us to be afraid – their goal is to promote fear – now is the time to show strong support for Israel and go to Israel and be there just to make the statement “We will not be intimidated”. People living in Western society who value life and believe in the sanctity of life are shocked at the outrageous attacks committed by these sociopaths with no moral conscience – they are murderers.  How can someone be capable of committing such evil? 


In Israel, most restaurants, shops and malls have security at their entrances – in Toronto, many synagogues, schools and community centres have security at their entrances – synagogues in Israel will have to follow suit – pogroms against Jews must stop… Plan on attending a synagogue on Shabbat where we will stand together in solidarity…

[For More Information Click the Following Link—Ed.]


Shirley Anne Haber, The Media Action Group



CIJR Wishes All Our Friends & Supporters: Shabbat Shalom!







On Topic


Rabbi Jonathan Sacks: "To be free, you have to let go of hate." (Video): Stand With Us, Nov. 13, 2014

Domestic Radicalization and the Arab-Israeli Conflict: Max Boot, Commentary, Nov. 18, 2014  —Israel appears to be facing a do-it-yourself terrorist offensive.

The Essentiality of Anger: David M. Weinberg, Jerusalem Post, Nov. 20, 2014 —A grotesque kind of quiet has taken root among Israelis in the Promised Land; a morose passivity that expresses depression and suggests acquiescence.

In This Struggle, Israel Can Prevail: Dr. Mordechai Kedar, Arutz Sheva, Nov. 20, 2014 —During these difficult days of increasing terror, the most urgent question is: What can we do in order to cope optimally with the growing terrorist violence in Israel, knowing that behind the scenes there are several players who are expending intense efforts to bring about an explosion.



















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Fouad Ajami, Great American: Bret Stephens, Wall Street Journal, June 23, 2013— Fouad Ajami would have been amused, but not surprised, to read his own obituary in the New York Times.

Pollard’s Release is a Matter of Justice: Alan Dershowitz & Irwin Cotler, Jerusalem Post, June 26, 2014— US President Barack Obama’s response to President Shimon Peres’s request for executive clemency for Jonathan Pollard was to refer the matter to US Attorney-General Eric Holder.

The Perpetual Assassination of the Jew Leon Klinghoffer: Paul Merkley, Baywater Review, June 24, 2014— On October 7, 1985, four pirates, engaged in the cause of the Palestine Liberation Front (PLF), took control of the Italian luxury liner Achille Lauro as it was sailing from Alexandria to Port Said, Egypt.

Book Review: 'Jabotinsky' by Hillel Halkin: Douglas J. Feith, Wall Street Journal, May 30, 2013— Vladimir Jabotinsky, the intellectual forebear of the secular Israeli right, is the most vilified and mischaracterized figure in Zionist history.

Letters From Our Readers


On Topic Links


Evgeny Kissin Becomes Israeli Citizen (Video): Youtube, June 15, 2014

As Europe Slides Into a Dark Age, Jews Must Review Their Future: Isi Leibler, Candidly Speaking, June 25, 2014

Do Jews Have a Future in Europe?: Simone Rodan-Benzaquen & Daniel Schwammenthal, Wall Street Journal, June 10, 2013

Presbyterians Aim Misguided Boycott at Israel: Martin Schram, Boston Herald, June 27, 2014


FOUAD AJAMI, GREAT AMERICAN                                                            

Bret Stephens                                                                                                        

Wall Street Journal, June 23, 2014


Fouad Ajami would have been amused, but not surprised, to read his own obituary in the New York Times.  "Edward Said, the Palestinian cultural critic who died in 2003, accused [Ajami] of having 'unmistakably racist prescriptions,'" quoted obituarist Douglas Martin. Thus was Said, the most mendacious, self-infatuated and profitably self-pitying of Arab-American intellectuals—a man whose account of his own childhood cannot be trusted—raised from the grave to defame, for one last time, the most honest and honorable and generous of American intellectuals, no hyphenation necessary.


Ajami, who died of prostate cancer Sunday in his summer home in Maine, was often described as among the foremost scholars of the modern Arab and Islamic worlds, and so he was. He was born in 1945 to a family of farmers in a Shiite village in southern Lebanon and was raised in Beirut in the politics of the age. "I was formed by an amorphous Arab nationalist sensibility," he wrote in his 1998 masterpiece, "The Dream Palace of the Arabs." He came to the U.S. for college and graduate school, became a U.S. citizen, and first made his political mark as an advocate for Palestinian nationalism. For those who knew Ajami mainly as a consistent advocate of Saddam Hussein's ouster, it's worth watching a YouTube snippet of his 1978 debate with Benjamin Netanyahu, in which Ajami makes the now-standard case against Israeli iniquity. Today Mr. Netanyahu sounds very much like his 28-year-old self. But Ajami changed. He was, to borrow a phrase, mugged by reality. By the 1980s, he wrote, "Arab society had run through most of its myths, and what remained in the wake of the word, of the many proud statements people had made about themselves and their history, was a new world of cruelty, waste, and confusion."


What Ajami did was to see that world plain, without the usual evasions and obfuscations and shifting of blame to Israel and the U.S. Like Sidney Hook, a great ex-communist of a previous generation, his honesty, courage and intelligence got the better of his ideology; he understood his former beliefs with the hard-won wisdom of the disillusioned. He also understood with empathy and without rancor. Converts tend to be fanatics. But Ajami was too interested in people—in their motives and aspirations, their deceits and self-deceits, their pride, shame and unexpected nobility—to hate anyone except the truly despicable, namely tyrants and their apologists. To read Ajami is to see that his genius lay not only in the breadth of the scholarship or the sharpness of political insight but also in the quality of human understanding. If Joseph Conrad had been reborn as a modern-day academic, he would have been Fouad Ajami.


Consider a typical example, from an op-ed he wrote…in February 2013 on the second anniversary of the fall of Hosni Mubarak's regime: "Throughout [Mubarak's] reign, a toxic brew poisoned the life of Egypt—a mix of anti-modernism, anti-Americanism and anti-Zionism. That trinity ran rampant in the universities and the professional syndicates and the official media. As pillage had become the obsession of the ruling family and its retainers, the underclass was left to the rule of darkness and to a culture of conspiracy."


Or here he is on Barack Obama's fading political appeal, from a piece from last November: "The current troubles of the Obama presidency can be read back into its beginnings. Rule by personal charisma has met its proper fate. The spell has been broken, and the magician stands exposed. We need no pollsters to tell us of the loss of faith in Mr. Obama's policies—and, more significantly, in the man himself. Charisma is like that. Crowds come together and they project their needs onto an imagined redeemer. The redeemer leaves the crowd to its imagination: For as long as the charismatic moment lasts—a year, an era—the redeemer is above and beyond judgment." A publisher ought to collect these pieces. Who else could write so profoundly and so well? Ajami understood the Arab world as only an insider could—intimately, sympathetically, without self-pity. And he loved America as only an immigrant could—with a depth of appreciation and absence of cynicism rarely given to the native-born. If there was ever an error in his judgment, it's that he believed in people—Arabs and Americans alike—perhaps more than they believed in themselves. It was the kind of mistake only a generous spirit could make.


Over the years Ajami mentored many people—the mentorship often turning to friendship—who went on to great things. One of them, Samuel Tadros, a native of Egypt and now a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, wrote me Monday with an apt valediction: "Fouad is remarkable because he became a full American, loved this country as anyone could love it, but that did not lessen his passion for what he left behind. He cared deeply about the region, he was always an optimist. He knew well the region's ills, the pains it gave those who cherished it. God knows it gave him nothing but pain, but he always believed that the peoples of the region deserved better."



POLLARD’S RELEASE IS A MATTER OF JUSTICE                                  

Alan Dershowitz & Irwin Cotler                                                                               

Jerusalem Post, June 26, 2014


US President Barack Obama’s response to President Shimon Peres’s request for executive clemency for Jonathan Pollard was to refer the matter to US Attorney-General Eric Holder. Indeed, as it happens, a group of American constitutional and criminal law scholars and practitioners, including six Harvard law school professors, Obama’s alma mater, have written to the president (full disclosure – we are two of the signatories and organizers of the letter) requesting the commutation of Pollard’s sentence to time served. In our letter we argue that “such commutation is more than warranted if the ends of justice are to be served, the rules of law respected and simple humanity secured.”


Our letter sets forth 10 compelling legal considerations for the exercise of executive clemency by Obama – and which should commend themselves to Attorney-General Holder – including: First, Pollard was charged with, and pleaded guilty to, one count of conveying classified information to a foreign government, in this instance, Israel, an ally of the US. The usual sentence for this offense is no more than six or eight years, with actual jail time before release averaging two to four years. Pollard is now serving his 29th year of an unprecedented life sentence – an excessive, grossly disproportionate, unfair and unjust sentence.


Second, the sentence of life imprisonment was itself a breach of the plea bargain wherein the prosecution agreed not to seek life imprisonment in return for Pollard’s guilty plea, his cooperation with the authorities and his agreement to waive his right to trial by jury. This plea bargain also saved the government much time, money and prospective embarrassment of conducting a trial involving highly sensitive information, and where Pollard might well have been acquitted of the more serious charges. Indeed, Judge Stephen F. Williams of the US Court of Appeals for the First District later referred to the government’s breach of the plea bargain as a “complete and gross miscarriage of justice.”


Third, the life sentence was itself secured as a result of the submission – after the plea bargain and in violation of it – of a prejudicial ex parte affidavit to the sentencing judge by then-secretary of defense Caspar Weinberger, to the effect that Pollard had compromised American national security and was guilty of “treason,” and should never be released. However, in a 2004 interview, Weinberger himself admitted that, in retrospect, the Pollard matter was “comparatively minor,” and it is not even referenced in his memoirs. Fourth, Pollard has not only been excessively and disproportionately punished for the crime he did commit, but has been effectively punished and maligned for the crime he never committed – nor was ever charged with– namely, “treason.” Yet, regrettably, prosecutorial “sources” in the Central Intelligence Agency, and the Defense, State and Justice departments, continued to maintain, long after the plea bargain, that Pollard was guilty of treason.


Fifth, Pollard was also falsely accused over the years of having compromised US security and American lives in Eastern Europe, when it was Aldridge Ames, the head of the CIA’s Soviet/Eastern Europe Division, who had himself been both the architect of those treasonable acts, and the original source of the false allegations against Pollard. Sixth, a largely ignored December 2012 declassification of a 1987 CIA damage assessment concerning Pollard shows Pollard had co-operated fully and in good faith with governmental authorities, while acknowledging Pollard did not divulge the most sensitive US national security programs. Yet CIA officials continued to knowingly and falsely accuse Pollard of actions prejudicial to US national security…

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




Paul Merkley        

The Baywater Review, June 24, 2014


…On October 7, 1985, four pirates, engaged in the cause of the Palestine Liberation Front (PLF), took control of the Italian luxury liner Achille Lauro as it was sailing from Alexandria to Port Said, Egypt. They demanded ransom, including the release of 50 Palestinians then in Israeli prisons, for the crew and passengers. The next day, befuddled by the delay in response to their ransom demand, they were delighted to discover that among the passengers was a real live Jew! Not only that — an American Jew! And best of all – a disabled American Jew! God is great! They quickly ordered two members of the ship’s crew to wheel the wheelchair of their helpless and terrified captive – Leon Klinghoffer, then 69, retired and in the midst of celebrating his thirty-sixth wedding anniversary with his wife Marilyn — to the edge of the ship and drop him overboard…


As the worldwide press speculated over the meaning of all this, PLO Foreign Secretary Farouq Qaddumi, who knew that his boss Yasir Arafat had indeed commissioned the deed, helped them out by speculating that Klinghoffer’s terminally ill wife Marilyn Klinghoffer had killed her husband for insurance money. Initially, the hijackers were granted safe passage to Tunisia by Egypt, but U.S. President Ronald Reagan ordered a U.S. fighter plane to force the get-away plane to land at Naval Air Station Sigonella in Italy. After fussing over the appropriateness of extradition in such a matter, Italian authorities eventually arrested and later tried the Palestinian terrorists. Reagan’s motto was: “What we want is justice done… a message to terrorists everywhere…. ‘You can hide but you can’t; run…” None of this counted for anything, however, when in 1993 the Clinton government recognized Yasir Arafat and his PLO as the appropriate instrument for peace throughout the Palestine Authority. The Nobel Peace Prize followed shortly after that.


There are those who find Ronald Reagan’s judgment simple-minded. Indeed, souls more sensitive than Reagan’s are now proclaiming that the entire “Klinger affair” was misjudged, and blame this misjudgment on the moralistic mentality that even now, is slowly and painfully being overcome by practitioners of the highest culture. John Adams explains that his purpose in writing this opera was “to understand the hijackers and their motivations, and to look for humanity in the terrorists, as well as in their victims.”  Tom Morris, the Director of the new Metropolitan Opera company production believes that “the opera’s most important contribution is in providing an opportunity for the audience to wrestle with the almost unanswerable questions that arise from this seemingly endless conflict.”


To these deep-thinkers, production of this opera presents an opportunity to put before enlightened spirits the cause of the suffering Palestinians. The little incident with Klinghoffer was not an act of savagery, as might first appear to decent folk, but a “statement.” In his review of a concert performance at the Juilliard School in January, 2009, Anthony Tommasini, Chief Music Critic for the New York Times, explained: “[This performance] allowed this searing, mystical and ambitious work to come through without the doctrinaire baggage that has attached to it [the Klinghoffer incident] over the years …. Somehow the performers here, too young to have been aware of the polemics the opera initially incited, brought unjaded involvement and affecting commitment to … this multilayered, complex and elusive score under Mr. Adams’s direction.”


The appropriate moral-levelling effect appears, Tommasini finds, at the beginning, “with a pair of somber, brooding, agitated choruses, giving voice first to exiled Palestinians, then to exiled Jews.” This exchange between choirs, to right and left of the scene, reminds Tommasini of the similarly powerful “St Matthew Passion,” of Johan Sebastian Bach…This thought goes right off the scale of offense that begins with giggles and ends with blasphemy. But then, the New York Times long ago gave up believing in the ontic possibility of blasphemy – about the same time as it gave up on the notion that that there is such a thing as pornography. These are broken people – these aesthetes who imagine that judgments about right and wrong must go under the yoke of supra-moral hermeneutics. Simple-minded people see a helpless, elderly man pushed overboard by an armed, athletic youth, cheered on by co-sadists. But not all the nuance in the world – not all the unjaded and affecting commitment to all that is multilayered and complex – will ever scrub clean this filth; and all effort along that line is simply demonic…

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



BOOK REVIEW: 'JABOTINSKY' BY HILLEL HALKIN                                        

Douglas J. Feith                                                                                                          

Wall Street Journal, May 30, 2014


Vladimir Jabotinsky, the intellectual forebear of the secular Israeli right, is the most vilified and mischaracterized figure in Zionist history. Until his death in 1940, eight years before the state of Israel's birth, Jabotinsky was the principal political rival of David Ben-Gurion, the Labor Zionist leader who became the Jewish State's first prime minister. Ben-Gurion labeled him "Vladimir Hitler" and denounced him and his followers as extremists and militarists who "educate their youth to kill." Invented 80 years ago for intramural Zionist political purposes, these slanders have now become standard insults that anti-Zionists use to denigrate the Jewish state. The right has dominated Israel's democratic politics since 1977, when Likud's Menachem Begin, a disciple of Jabotinsky, became the country's first nonsocialist prime minister. But Jabotinsky's reputation still awaits general rehabilitation. The cloud that his contemporary rivals cast over him and his political party, which evolved into today's Likud, has never fully dissipated. To understand contemporary Israel requires an appreciation of its conservative political thought that is deeper than name-calling. This means taking Jabotinsky seriously, which is a pleasure to do, not least because his many writings were prescient, humane, artful and often humorous.


In his engaging and intelligent biography, Hillel Halkin, himself a brilliant Zionist man of letters—translator, novelist and essayist—illuminates Jabotinsky's multifaceted nature as a littérateur and polemicist, political thinker and activist, family man and frustrated politician. Mr. Halkin's particular interest is the tension between Jabotinsky's lifelong, passionate defense of individual liberty and his staunch Jewish nationalism, exaltation of military discipline and tough line toward the Arabs. Born in 1880 in cosmopolitan Odessa, the only large Russian city in which Jews lived freely, Jabotinsky was secular and sophisticated. Though his father died when he was six and his mother made a meager living running a stationery store, Jabotinsky had a happy childhood in which he played truant and mischief maker, though one with a talent for words. As a teenager, he was already a rising-star journalist, having won a newspaper job by impressing an editor with his translation of Poe's "The Raven" into Russian.


Zionism was offering a new answer to the so-called Jewish question: what to do about the Jews' status as unwelcome guests in other peoples' countries. Jabotinsky grasped that Jews in Eastern Europe lived wretched lives—"always in a state of war," as he put it in his memoirs—surrounded by neighbors who generally hated them and sporadically battered, raped and killed them in pogroms that government officials often tolerated and sometimes encouraged. He concluded that Jewish assimilationism would fail and that the Zionists were right: The Jews needed a state where they could be the majority and govern and secure themselves. And only the Jews' ancient homeland—that is, Zion—could attract enough Jews and inspire the exertions necessary to create this new state. The vulnerability, false hopes and complacency of diaspora Jews enraged Jabotinsky. In a play he wrote in 1907, a Zionist warns: "You're in a lion's den. Have no illusions. Your dreams are nothing but a fool's effusions. At the volcano's edge, you're fireflies." The "cringing" of his fellow Jews in the face of danger, the Zionist says, has distressed him so he "couldn't breathe."


Jabotinsky, Mr. Halkin argues, could have prospered as a playwright, journalist, poet, novelist and public speaker. His language skills were astonishing. Though his mother tongue was Russian, he was eloquent in Yiddish, Hebrew, English and Italian. Mr. Halkin judges his book "The Five" to be "one of the finest twentieth-century Russian novels." When he lectured, Jabotinsky could "mesmerize an audience for three hours," according to the novelist Arthur Koestler. The Russian diplomat K.D. Nabokov (the novelist's uncle) called Jabotinsky Russia's finest orator. But Jabotinsky gave up his burgeoning literary career to devote his life to promoting a Jewish-majority state in the land of Israel, an area under Turkish rule since 1517. Jabotinsky attended Zionist congresses, edited Zionist periodicals and, in 1908, visited the Holy Land for the first time. There he heard Jews predicting that the Arabs would someday accept Zionism. Why? Because Jewish immigration boosted the economy for all. Or, as many left-leaning Zionists believed, because Arab workers would, out of solidarity, support the Jews in building a socialist community. Jabotinsky dismissed this all as unrealistic. "Arab nationalism was still at an early stage, but future conflict with it, he was convinced, was inevitable," Mr. Halkin notes.


The Turks sided with the Germans in the Great War in 1914, and Jabotinsky felt confident that Britain would defeat Turkey and take control of Palestine. He resolved to form a Jewish military unit to aid Britain. His goal, as he wrote to a fellow Zionist in 1915 with impressive prescience, was to ensure the Jewish people a voice "when one day a peace conference is convened, [and] an item on the agenda will be the dismemberment of Turkey." Simply conceiving of the Jewish Legion was an imaginative coup. The world hadn't seen a Jewish military force for nearly 2,000 years. To bring it into being, Jabotinsky had to overcome British reluctance and rude opposition from Zionist movement leaders, who were not military-minded and in any event had resolved on neutrality in the war…

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



“Dear Professor Krantz, Thank you for your kind words: I am certainly a Zionist at heart! And despite not being a "good Jew" I have that typical genetic Jewish trait of hankering for justice and truth and abhorring dishonesty, deception, lies and especially vile propaganda about Israel, Zionism, Jews and the forever hapless Palestinians…I greatly admire your writing and articles. The CIJR does a great service to all those sane enough to see its honesty and fairness in combating bigotry in all it overt and covert forms… 

—Jerome (May 30, 2014)  


“Dear Fred, Olga and I would like to thank you for…the CIJR [Toronto] Gala Luncheon yesterday; it was not only enjoyable but informative. I learned something new about Israel's history, in particular the important role that the Machalniks played in Israel's defense. In bringing such things to public light, it emphasizes the importance of your organization to bettering our understanding of history and to ensuring memories do not fade.”

—Perry (June 12, 2014)


“Dear Fred, I would like to congratulate you, Baruch, and the other wonderful volunteers and staff who organized this year's annual [Montreal] Gala. The event [honouring 1948 Machal volunteers & the Israel Air Force] was very moving, and everything was perfect: the themes, the tributes, the speakers, the arrangements. It was a privilege and a pleasure for Steve and I to join you. Mazel tov and Kol Hakavod!”

—Dorothy (June 18, 2014)


“Last night was well planned, very interesting, enjoyable and an informative evening…my table was overwhelmed, and I am sure the seed for future involvement is well planted…Congratulations again on a job well done.

—Herb (June 11, 2014)




On Topic


Evgeny Kissin Becomes Israeli Citizen (Video): Youtube, June 15, 2014 —I was unaware that Evgeny Kissin became an Israeli citizen on December 7, 2013; here is the simple but touching citizenship ceremony, with an introduction by Natan Sharansky, chairman for the Jewish Agency for Israel, before Kissin himself explains the reason for his decision.

As Europe Slides Into a Dark Age, Jews Must Review Their Future: Isi Leibler, Candidly Speaking, June 25, 2014 —Recent developments signal that the prospect of Europe sliding into a new Dark Age is now a horrifying reality.

Do Jews Have a Future in Europe?: Simone Rodan-Benzaquen & Daniel Schwammenthal, Wall Street Journal, June 10, 2013—Just ahead of last month's European Parliament elections, which saw the rise of far-right and anti-Semitic parties, four people were murdered in the Jewish Museum of Brussels.

Presbyterians Aim Misguided Boycott at Israel: Martin Schram, Boston Herald, June 27, 2014 —All hell was breaking out, yet again, in the Arab world that surrounds Israel — well before the late news that broke in a most unlikely locale last Friday and was mainly missed by most of the world.













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


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


Disastrous Outcome of the 'Peace Negotiations': Isi Leibler, Israel Hayom, Apr. 3, 2014— As anticipated, the Obama administration's efforts to impose a peace settlement have proved to be a disastrous failure.

Israeli Author on the Futility of U.S.-Led Peace Talks and Hope For a Two State Solution: Daniel Gordis, National Post, Apr. 1, 2014 — News that U.S. President Barack Obama may free Jonathan Pollard, an American convicted of spying for Israel in 1987, as a gesture of good faith has injected new hope into the Mideast peace talks.

Why President Obama Must Commute Pollard's Sentence: Alan Dershowitz & Irwin Cotler, Jerusalem Post, Apr. 1, 2014 — Reports are circulating that the Obama Administration is considering releasing Jonathan Pollard, as part of an effort to encourage Israel to release Arab prisoners

The Operational Fiasco at the Heart of the Pollard Affair: Mitch Ginsberg, Times of Israel, Apr. 3, 2014— It’s unclear whether Jonathan Jay Pollard will be released before Passover this April.


On Topic Links


The Peace Process Blame Game: Jonathan S. Tobin, Commentary, Apr. 3, 2014

Kerry’s Folly, Chapter 3: Charles Krauthammer, Washington Post, Apr. 3, 2014

How Abbas Gets Away With It: Moshe Phillips & Benyamin Korn, Jewish Tribune, Mar. 27, 2014

The Israeli Solution by Caroline Glick (Book Review): Spengler, Asia Times, Mar. 31, 2014

90 Reasons Not to Create a Palestinian State: Moshe Phillips & Benyamin Korn, Jerusalem Post, Mar. 23, 2014

American Chorus Against Pollard Release: Michael Wilner, Jerusalem Post, Apr. 3, 2014                               


DISASTROUS OUTCOME OF THE 'PEACE NEGOTIATIONS'                                                               

Isi Leibler                                         

Israel Hayom, Apr. 3, 2014         


As anticipated, the Obama administration's efforts to impose a peace settlement have proved to be a disastrous failure. It is immaterial whether the negotiations formally break down or a face-saving formula is adopted which is nonbinding and incorporates sufficient reservations to make it meaningless. Regrettably, the U.S. intervention has only exacerbated the situation and even undermined the chances of low-profile interim progress and economic cooperation. The peace settlements between Israel and Egypt and Jordan were achieved because both parties sought to come to an accommodation. The U.S. did not then seek to impose solutions. It only became involved as a facilitator and honest broker after both parties had taken the initial steps and invited them.


The flawed initiatives by the Obama administration have resulted in the standing of the U.S. in both Israel and the Arab world plummeting to its lowest level. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has blustered and zigzagged between intimidating and occasionally placating Israel. The pressure was exerted overwhelmingly toward Israel while the Palestinians, who were treated with kid gloves, refused to make a single meaningful compromise. This generated enormous frustration and resentment of the U.S. among Israelis.  


The positive memories of U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Israel and the ongoing defense support and cooperation — now at an all-time high — were overshadowed by Israeli anger against the U.S. for bullying its government into releasing brutal mass murderers who were subsequently glorified as heroes by the Palestinian Authority. The PA demanded this as a prerequisite even to agreeing to negotiate. An uninformed observer would assume that Israel was the supplicant and would be unaware that the territories were acquired only after Israel vanquished an Arab conglomerate that had initiated a war to annihilate it.


American and European leaders still delude themselves that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict relates to two hostile people fighting over real estate. They seem unaware that both Yassir Arafat and Mahmoud Abbas rejected Israeli offers of 95% of territories over the Green Line, without even making counteroffers. By now, they should recognize that the objective of the Palestinian leaders is not the acquisition of land, but the end of Jewish sovereignty in the region. This explains their adamant refusal to recognize Israel as a Jewish state. The U.S. administration ignores the reality that the corrupt and duplicitous PA chairman, Abbas, even if he desired, has no mandate to make any concession and if he deviated, would likely be assassinated. The persistent pressure on Israel to make unilateral concessions without reciprocity has merely empowered the Palestinian extremists who smugly demonstrate that intransigence pays off.


The U.S. policymakers also fail to appreciate that the differences between the PA and openly genocidal Hamas are primarily tactical. The PA believes that their strategy of diplomacy and the dismantling of Israel in stages is a far more effective tactic than terrorism (to which they repeatedly threaten to revert). But both the PA and Hamas share the same goal — the elimination of Israel. It is now time for the Obama administration to accept the reality that the PA has evolved into a criminal society. How else to define a regime which brainwashes kindergarten age children into believing that Israel and the Jews are evil parasites and continuously calls for the elimination of the Jewish state? This demonization of Israel is reinforced daily by the mullahs in the mosques and the PA-controlled media. In addition, terrorists are sanctified, treated as heroes and awarded state pensions. There are obvious similarities between the Nazi brainwashing of the German people and what Arafat and now Abbas have imposed on the Palestinians.


Due to Obama's initial personal intervention, the settlements — a mere 3-4% of territories over the Green Line — have now become a central issue. While Israelis differ over the role of settlements in remote areas, they are frustrated that home constructions in Jewish suburbs of east Jerusalem and within the settlement blocs that will remain in Israel generate infinitely greater global condemnation than the mass slaughter in Syria. Yet despite all the efforts and concessions Israel has made, there are signals that the Obama administration will cast the blame on us for the failure of negotiations, which we realized from the outset were doomed as a hopeless charade. The recent histrionic U.S. attacks against Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon for expressing concerns with aspects of American foreign policy impacting on Israel testify to this.

That Israel is again being pressured over prisoner releases is scandalous. The government was bludgeoned by the U.S. into releasing these mass murderers on the clear understanding that the four phases of release would only be fulfilled if there was progress in the negotiations. Abbas has made it abundantly clear that he will not compromise on anything and yet the Americans persist in exerting pressure. To further muddy the waters, in order to induce Israel to concede to further Palestinian demands including the release of more prisoners and the imposition of a form of construction freeze on settlements, Kerry offered to free Jonathan Pollard. There were outraged protests in the U.S. as well as in Israel condemning this trade-off between freeing Pollard (who by any benchmark should have been released a long time ago) and mass murderers. For the time being it is no longer on the agenda. Should it proceed, it will be scandalous for Israel to have agreed and represents an obscene lapse in morality on the part of the Obama administration…                 

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




PEACE TALKS AND HOPE FOR A TWO STATE SOLUTION                                                                                       

Daniel Gordis     

National Post, Apr. 1, 2014   


News that U.S. President Barack Obama may free Jonathan Pollard, an American convicted of spying for Israel in 1987, as a gesture of good faith has injected new hope into the Mideast peace talks. But hope has risen before, to little effect. As U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry travels to Jerusalem, perhaps the time has come to acknowledge the futility of these negotiations and the current impossibility of a two-state solution. This, at least, is the view of Daniel Gordis, senior vice president and Koret Distinguished Fellow at Shalem College in Jerusalem, Israel’s first liberal arts college and author of the new biography Menachem Begin: The Battle For Israel’s Soul. He spoke with the National Post‘s Joseph Brean.


Q: How is this view not just throwing up your hands in despair?


A: It’s not throwing your hands up as long as you continue to insist that Israel has to constantly be looking for a way to solve this. It’s not to say there’s no deal to be had now so, forget it, everybody go back to their bunker… That’s a mistake. But there’s got to be a middle of the road, where you don’t say that it’s possible now and you don’t say it’s never going to be possible. You say it’s not possible now, I’d like it to become possible, what are the conditions that have to be put in place for there to be progress. My own take is that what the West is doing is pressuring the wrong side… If at a certain point these talks fail and the international community feels that it was Israel that tanked them, then you could have a quick resurgence of the legitimacy of the idea of boycotting. I think the framework is there. I think that what happens on college campuses with [the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement] is more PR than anything. But I’m very worried about Israel’s isolation.


Q: You say Palestinians understand time is on their side, which is a disincentive to make a deal. Why?


A: You have a situation in which last week [Palestinian President Mahmoud] Abbas went to Obama once again and said even if the negotiations go through I’m not going to declare an end to the conflict, and I’m not going to give up on the right of Palestinians to return to Israel, and of course I’m not going to recognize Israel as Jewish state… It’s not peace, it’s just a signed declaration of nothingness. In other words, it just projects the conflict into a different generation. So Israelis are saying if it’s not going to be the end of the conflict, why would we possibly give up the land that serves as a buffer? What’s hard for Israelis to understand is why Kerry and Obama can’t see this for what it is.


Q: Is Mr. Abbas the obstacle, then? On Tuesday, he vowed to push for statehood at the United Nations, causing Mr. Kerry to cancel his Ramallah visit.


A: I think Abbas could be switched tomorrow and the Palestinians would be more or less in the same place. The Arab League just came out last week and said that they’re never going to recognize Israel as a Jewish state. I mean, what do they care? If the conflict is really between the Israelis and the Palestinians, and there’s peace with Egypt, and peace with Jordan, and Syria’s in no position and Lebanon’s not really a country anymore, why does the Arab League come out and say: we also are opposed to calling Israel a Jewish state? … [Mr. Abbas] is reflective of his street. And his street is extremely problematic. I do not think the two state solution is impossible in theory. In fact, that’s what I would hope, and as an Israeli citizen would vote for very significant territorial concessions in order to make a two state solution possible. They just have to say end of conflict, and they have to recognize our being legitimate in the region.


Q: Is America a credible broker?


A: Why would you bet on these guys? These guys, who can’t hold the line in Syria, can’t hold the line in Iran, can’t do anything about Crimea, these are the guys who are saying to Israel, we’ve got your backs, give up all this buffer territory, and if anything goes wrong we’re going to be there for you? I mean Israelis are now laughing.                                                                




COMMUTE POLLARD'S SENTENCE                      

Alan Dershowitz & Irwin Cotler

Jerusalem Post, Apr. 1, 2014


Reports are circulating that the Obama Administration is considering releasing Jonathan Pollard, as part of an effort to encourage Israel to release Arab prisoners.  Justice demands that Pollard be released without regard to what Israel decides to do. A case for Pollard’s release is based on both legal and humanitarian considerations. Although many former government officials who were involved in Pollard’s prosecution now favor commutation, some continue to insist that he should serve his complete life term.  In opposing Pollard’s release now, these former officials are violating the spirit, if not the intent, of the contract our government made with Pollard 28 years ago.


Jonathan Pollard entered into a plea bargain with the United States government after he was found with unauthorized, classified material in his possession.  He could have exercised his right to trial by jury and he might have been acquitted of the most serious charges, because there was little admissible evidence that he was spying for a foreign country.  Instead, he confessed to spying for Israel, a close American ally, and agreed to plead guilty and cooperate in full with the government’s investigation and damage assessment.  In exchange, for giving up his important constitutional rights, Pollard was promised that the US would not seek the maximum sentence of life imprisonment.  In other words, our government agreed that a sentence of years less than life imprisonment was sufficient to satisfy the needs of justice for Pollard, in light of who he spied for, how extensively he cooperated with the investigation, and how much time, money and risk he saved the government by pleading guilty. A sentence of years, less than life imprisonment was sufficient, the government agreed, to deter others from spying for allies. That was the “quid” for Pollard’s “quo” in pleading guilty:  The government’s solemn agreement that a sentence of less than life was enough!


The prosecution then violated the plea bargain by submitting an official affidavit from the then Secretary of Defense, Casper Weinberger, who, according to Lawrence Korb, assistant Secretary of Defense under Weinberger, was motivated by “a lack of sympathy for Israel” – an understatement considering Weinberger’s long history of animosity toward the nation-state of the Jewish people.  In his affidavit, Weinberger erroneously characterized Pollard’s crime as “treason”, exaggerated the harm done, and demanded a sentence of life imprisonment.  By submitting this demand, which was inconsistent with its agreement not to ask for a life sentence, the prosecution violated the spirit if not the letter of their plea bargain.


There is no way any competent lawyer would have advised Pollard to give up his right to a trial, after which, if he were convicted, he could receive at most life imprisonment, in exchange for an agreement that included the submission of an affidavit from the Secretary of Defense demanding the maximum sentence of life imprisonment.  For a lawyer to agree to such a “lose-lose” deal would have constituted ineffective assistance of counsel. The sentencing judge, relying on the impermissible and exaggerated Weinberg affidavit imposed a sentence in excess of what the plea bargain contemplated and what the prosecution agreed would be sufficient: He sentenced Pollard to life imprisonment. The sentence was and remains, the harshest one ever imposed on an American who pleaded guilty to spying for an ally.  The usual sentence for such crimes is in the single digits.


Prosecutors not only broke their plea bargain back at sentencing, but some of those former prosecutors continue to break it now by insisting that Pollard’s sentence not be commuted to a term of years consistent with what they agreed to recommend in 1986.  Nothing has changed for the worse over the 28 years Pollard has been in prison.  Pollard has been a model prisoner; he has apologized for his crime; consequences falsely attributed to his actions by Weinberger and others now have been correctly attributed to Aldrich Ames and others who spied for America’s enemies; Pollard is seriously ill and getting old.


The time has come for the US government to keep its word and reaffirm what it agreed to tell the judge back in 1986: namely, that a sentence of years, 28 plus years, rather than a sentence of life imprisonment is enough to satisfy the demands of justice for Jonathan Pollard.  Even if prosecutors refuse to comply with their plea bargain, the president – who has the exclusive authority to pardon or commute – should do the right thing and commute Pollard’s sentence to the long time he has already served.





HEART OF THE POLLARD AFFAIR                                                    

Mitch Ginsberg                                         

Times of Israel, Apr. 3, 2014 


It’s unclear whether Jonathan Jay Pollard will be released before Passover this April. It’s unclear whether he has been held for so long in such difficult conditions in the United States because of a misunderstanding or disagreement about the nature and ultimate destination of the intelligence he passed on to Israel, or vindictiveness, or, even, as Pollard has claimed, an institutional anti-Semitism within the corridors of the defense community in Washington DC. But it is abundantly clear, and well worth remembering in Israel as the Obama administration ponders a commutation for the former US Navy intelligence analyst, that, operationally speaking, the manner in which Pollard was run was a fiasco. Depending on one’s perspective – and Pollard will surely have his say on the matter when he is released – his handlers were either amateurishly irresponsible or cruelly negligent. The distinction hinges on whether his handlers from Lakam, the Defense Ministry’s Office of Science Liaison, saw him as a combatant – a Jew doing ideological work for the state of Israel – or an asset that could be used and discarded. The evidence, sadly, would seem to suggest the latter.


Pollard, known to his friends and colleagues as Jay, was raised in South Bend, Indiana, where, according to de-classified CIA documents, he lived a childhood “marked by material sufficiency, strong intellectual stimulation within a closely knit family and some bruising experiences as a member of the Jewish-American minority growing up in middle-America.” The Klan, he told Wolf Blitzer in the latter’s enduringly excellent “Territory of Lies,” “was well organized in my city.” A trip to Dachau, followed by a summer in Israel at a science camp at the Weizmann Institute, cemented in his mind a commitment to Israel’s security. The commitment, though, while genuine, was not rooted in entirely solid ground. In college, at Stanford University, he claimed to work for the Mossad. On one occasion, he waved a pistol in the air “and screamed that everyone was out to get him,” according to the CIA papers. The CIA described him as “a capable – if eccentric – scholar,” the son of a world renowned microbiologist whose “personal and employment history is replete with incidents of irresponsible behavior that point to significant emotional instability.” In November 1985, as the noose of suspicion cinched around Pollard’s neck, Lanny McCullah, the Navy’s top counterintelligence official, is depicted in the 1989 “Territory of Lies” as saying of the Israeli agents running him, “Are they really that stupid that they would hire Jay, of all people?”


Some of this should have been evident to Col. (ret) Aviem Sella – as it was to AIPAC employees, who deemed him “strange” and refused to hire him in 1981. But Sella, a brilliant aviator and war hero, a fighter pilot who downed a Soviet-flown Mig-21 in 1970 and participated in the attack against Saddam Hussein’s nuclear reactor 11 years later (as an F-15 pilot on the periphery of the strike), knew nothing about espionage. He was in the US to complete a doctorate at NYU. Occasionally he gave talks at the NYSE, trying to drum up interest in Israel Bonds. When one of those stockbrokers, awed by his presentation, contacted Sella and said he had a family friend who worked as an intelligence analyst in the US Navy and wanted to meet him, Sella, already being considered as a future IAF commander, had a sense of what might be afoot. He sent word back to Tel Aviv.


The Mossad, keenly aware of the standing prohibition against using US nationals as spies within the US – especially if they were Jewish – said “we have no interest in meeting him,” according to Blitzer’s account.Lakam commander Rafi Eitan did not follow suit. In the first interview he ever gave about the Pollard affair, Eitan, a former senior Mossad and Shin Bet officer who commanded the team that nabbed Adolf Eichmann in Argentina in 1960, told Yedioth Ahronoth in 2006 that “in intelligence [work], as in war, you go to battle, and when you go to battle you also make mistakes.”


But what transpired from May 29, 1984, when Pollard and Sella first met at a corner table of a café in the Washington DC Hilton Hotel, until November 21, 1985, when Jonathan and Anne Pollard were thrown out of the Israeli embassy grounds and into the waiting arms of FBI agents, was more than just a few unavoidable mistakes. It was, at best, the product of a series of callous miscalculations…                                

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


CIJR wishes all its friends and supporters Shabbat Shalom!


The Peace Process Blame Game: Jonathan S. Tobin, Commentary, Apr. 3, 2014 —It was to be expected that the Obama administration would seek to cast blame yesterday for the apparent collapse of the Middle East peace process championed by Secretary of State John Kerry on both Israel and the Palestinians.

Kerry’s Folly, Chapter 3: Charles Krauthammer, Washington Post, Apr. 3, 2014 —When has a secretary of state been involved in so many disastrous, self-initiated negotiations?

How Abbas Gets Away With It: Moshe Phillips & Benyamin Korn, Jewish Tribune, Mar. 27, 2014 —Welcoming Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas to the White House on March 17, President Obama declared that "He has been somebody who has consistently renounced violence."

The Israeli Solution by Caroline Glick (Book Review): Spengler, Asia Times, Mar. 31, 2014 —By any standard, the Palestinian problem involves the strangest criteria in modern history.

90 Reasons Not to Create a Palestinian State: Moshe Phillips & Benyamin Korn, Jerusalem Post, Mar. 23, 2014 —Welcoming Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas to the White House on March 17, President Obama declared that "He has been somebody who has consistently renounced violence."

American Chorus Against Pollard Release: Michael Wilner, Jerusalem Post, Apr. 3, 2014— Reaction to the prospect of an early release from prison for Jonathan Pollard, an American convicted of spying for Israel in the 1980s, has been uniform: his freedom should not be conflated with the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians.                                   













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


We welcome your comments to this and any other CIJR publication. Please address your response to:  Ber Lazarus, 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:  ber@isranet.org



 Download an abbreviated version of today's Daily Briefing.


That Sunday— Romania, June 29, 1941- July 6 1941: Baruch Cohen, Aug. 9, 2013—The Yassi pogrom horrors should never be forgotten, no matter how many years have passed since then: June 29, 1941, That Sunday, will forever remain inscribed in the history of Romanian Jewry and of the Holocaust.


United Jewish Declaration: Jews Are Indigenous To The Land Of Israel: Yosef Rabin, GoPetitions, June 24, 2013

The Land of Israel fits all the criteria to be recognized internationally as the land in which Jews are indigenous natives, and the only current requirement is a public declaration from a representative body of the Jewish people.


Prisoner Release Highlights Erosion of Israel’s Will: Morton A. Klein and Dr. Daniel Mandel , The Jewish Press, Aug. 8, 2013—Under pressure to restart talks with Mahmoud Abbas’s Palestinian Authority, Israel has diverged from its refusal to accede to Palestinian preconditions and agreed to free 104 Palestinian terrorists from its jails. It’s a mistake. Israel should withstand the pressure and say no.


What about Pollard, Mr. President?: Ben Caspit, Jerusalem Post, July 23, 2013—The United States is the leader of the free world, the strongest democracy on the face of the earth, the cradle of human rights and freedom. But these bombastic titles are worthless when the US acts cruelly, hypocritically and according to double standards.


An Accidental Odyssey: Jews In The Mediterranean: Ilana Brown, eJewish Philanthropy, June 25, 2013—I had been to Italy and Greece fifteen years before, but in those days I was not interested in finding remnants of Jewish communities and exploring the Jewish past of the area. This summer I had the opportunity to take a whirlwind tour of a few locations in Italy and Greece. Having lived in Israel for the past 11 years, I was now much more curious about Jewish communities.


On Topic Links


Former-American Mks Disappointed Pollard Not Free: Gil Hoffman, Jerusalem Post, July 30, 2013

For Zion's Sake: Not in Our Vital Interest: Daniel Tauber, Jerusalem Post, July 23, 2013

Top 10 Ways Israel Fights Desertification: Karin Kloosterman, Israel21c, July 15, 2012



JUNE 29, 1941- JULY 6 1941

Baruch Cohen

                                                                             In memory of beloved Malca z’l


The Yassi pogrom horrors should never be forgotten, no matter how many years have passed since then: June 29, 1941, That Sunday, will forever remain inscribed in the history of Romanian Jewry and of the Holocaust.


The Sunday that Was became known as the bloodiest day in the history of Romanian Jewry. The Yassi pogrom was the first huge planned massacre, heralding the horrors to come during the years 1940-1943. 14,850 Jews were killed in Yassi. Ultimately, over 200,000 Romanian Jews would be murdered.


“By the number of its victims, by the bestiality of the means used to torture and kill, by the vast scope of killing; the pillaging and destruction, by the participation of the agents of the public authorities to whom the life and property of the citizens were entrusted, the pogrom of Yassi marked at the local level the crowning of an accursed, injurious effort which violated the Romanian conscience for a period of the three quarters of a century, and it opens at the worldwide level the most tragic chapter in history,” writes Matatias Carp in Cartea Neagra—The Black Book. June 29, 1941, That Sunday, remains forever the blackest day in the history of Romanian Jewry.


In his book, Kaput, Italian journalist Curzio Malaparte described the scene with a sharp pen dipped in gall and disgust! In the summer of 1941, black was the predominant color in Yassi, and yellow was the color of the stars sewn onto the clothing of all Jews.






Yosef Rabin

GoPetitions, June 24, 2013


Target: United Nation's, Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon

Petition Background (Preamble):

The United Nations currently recognizes as indigenous any nation that declares itself as such, and according to section 10 of the UN General Assembly’s 2007 Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People, “indigenous peoples shall not be forcibly removed from their lands or territories. No relocation shall take place without the free, prior and informed consent of the indigenous peoples concerned and after agreement on just and fair compensation and, where possible, with the option of return.”


The Land of Israel fits all the criteria to be recognized internationally as the land in which Jews are indigenous natives, and the only current requirement is a public declaration from a representative body of the Jewish people, whether it be from Israel’s Knesset, the WZO or even the Council of Jewish Communities in Judea and Samaria.    Sign the petition






Morton A. Klein and Dr. Daniel Mandel

Jewish Press, Aug. 8, 2013


Under pressure to restart talks with Mahmoud Abbas’s Palestinian Authority, Israel has diverged from its refusal to accede to Palestinian preconditions and agreed to free 104 Palestinian terrorists from its jails. It’s a mistake. Israel should withstand the pressure and say no. Why? Because it makes a mockery of justice – and inflicts unimaginable pain on families of the victims – when multiple murderers walk free.


It also boosts the standing of terrorist groups; encourages the kidnapping of Israelis for the purpose of extorting the release of further terrorists; demoralizes Israeli counter-terrorism personnel who risk life and limb to capture these murderers; erodes Israeli deterrence to vanishing point when the most bloodthirsty murderers know they are likely to be freed early; and, above all, results in the subsequent murder of additional Israelis by terrorists freed under such deals. In short, we’ve been here before and the results have been tragic.


The Almagor Terrorist Victims Association (ATVA) disclosed in April 2007 that 177 Israelis killed in terror attacks in the previous five years had been killed by terrorists who had been previously freed from Israeli jails. An earlier ATVA report showed that 123 Israelis had been murdered by terrorists freed during the period 1993-99. Former Mossad chief Meir Dagan has observed that the terrorists released in the 2004 Elhanan Tenenbaum prisoner exchange deal caused the death of 231 Israelis. In agreeing to this morally unjust, tactically unwise, strategically harmful, militarily hazardous and life-endangering unilateral concession, we see the profound and purposeless erosion of Israeli will. In the past, Israel at least scrupled not to free those with “blood on their hands” and demanded the return of living Israelis, however lopsided the exchange.


In July 2008, however, Israel agreed to release to Hizbullah a gruesome murderer, Samir Kuntar, and four others prisoners in return for merely the corpses of two kidnapped Israelis. In August 2008, Israel freed 198 jailed terrorists, including two with blood on their hands and 149 others guilty of attempted murder, as a “confidence-building measure.” In October 2009, Israel freed 20 Palestinian terrorists – not for a life or a corpse, but for a video of a kidnapped Israeli. And in October 2011, Israel freed 1,027 Palestinian prisoners, including hundreds of convicted terrorists, in exchange for a single kidnapped Israeli serviceman, Gilad Shalit, leading Hamas’s Khaled Meshaal to crow that “This is a national achievement for the Palestinian people…we promise the rest of the Palestinian detainees to liberate them…. Those released will return to armed struggle.”


On this occasion, however, Israelis cannot even take refuge in the consolation that they freed a loved one, retrieved a corpse or even obtained a video. They cannot even say that they exacted any concession from the PA. To the contrary, Mahmoud Abbas just reiterated that he will not permit “the presence of a single Israeli – civilian or soldier – on our lands.” Prime Minister Netanyahu is not unaware of the danger; to the contrary, he once warned against the very thing he now intends to do.


In his 1995 book Fighting Terrorism, Netanyahu observed that refusing to release terrorists was “among the most important policies that must be adopted in the face of terrorism.” With this release, he erodes his credibility by dishonoring his pledge to withstand Palestinian preconditions. U.S. pressure alone explains Netanyahu’s decision, not some valuable quid pro quo. How else to account for a decision opposed by 85 percent of the Israeli public and the Shin Bet head, Yoram Cohen? The Obama administration has not expressed a new determination to see Iran cross no red lines in its march to a nuclear weapon….


The idea that the U.S. needs some Israeli concession to unify its Arab allies against the Iranian nuclear threat is in any case absurd, given the imploring of Arab leaders for Washington to deal with the problem, as revealed by the Wikileaks documents. The Obama administration has made Israel no secret promise of action on Iran, military or otherwise – top Israeli officials have privately told us as much, and it is hard for any country to insist on secret commitments of this type anyway. All of which suggests that Israel will rue this decision. The U.S. would never release Guantanamo detainees because the Taliban demanded it in return for talks. Why should Israel? It is still not too late for Jerusalem to refuse to release the terrorists – and say why.






Ben Caspit

Jerusalem Post, July 23, 2013


The United States is the leader of the free world, the strongest democracy on the face of the earth, the cradle of human rights and freedom. But these bombastic titles are worthless when the US acts cruelly, hypocritically and according to double standards. Yesterday, Udi Segal of Channel 2 TV announced that the US had rejected Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s proposal that Jonathan Pollard also be released when Israel releases dozens of murderers serving life sentences.


The Americans have no problem asking Israel to release savages who’ve slaughtered innocent civilians. This is a no-brainer for them. They urge Israel to make “gestures” toward Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to promote peace, to strengthen the moderates, to help calm things down and to get the Palestinians to return to the negotiating table. But then, when in return we ask for one basic humanitarian gesture – for Pollard to be released – the Americans are horrified.


We should release Pollard? What the heck are you talking about? Where did this come from? Did Pollard kill anyone? No. Was he responsible for someone’s death? Absolutely not (despite the fact that they did try to pin this on him, too). Pollard passed on classified information to Israel. This offense usually comes with a relatively light sentence; many people indicted for such offenses in the US have been sent home after serving for just a few years. Pollard has been sitting in jail for almost 30 years. That’s three decades. Pollard has spent most of his life in prison. He has been deprived of a family life and was not allowed to attend either his mother’s or his father’s funeral.


I understand, my dear Americans, that you need to prove a point, to set a precedent for other American Jews who might also feel a dual loyalty. But I think we passed that point a long time ago, and that now it is time for you to go back to being civilized and to make amends for your vindictiveness and recklessness by releasing Pollard.


It must be said – to Netanyahu’s credit – that of all of Israel’s leaders, he has been the only one to consistently fight for Pollard’s release (not that it’s done us or Pollard any good.) At the Wye Plantation conference, president Bill Clinton promised Netanyahu Pollard would be released, but reneged at the last minute (due to pressure from the CIA.) Netanyahu tried again with George Bush and Barack Obama – and now once again with Obama.


But when it comes to its own prisoners, the US is much less flexible. When it concerns prisoners sitting in Israeli jails who’ve murdered innocent citizens and who still swear every morning to continue to fight until Israel is completely destroyed, they are flexible. Israel is expected to release these prisoners, many of whom will go on to carry out additional terrorist attacks, while the Americans continue with their own style of cruelty by keeping Pollard locked up. This is a morality lesson, American style.


Translated by Hannah Hochner.




Ilana Brown
eJewish Philanthropy, June 25, 2013


I had been to Italy and Greece fifteen years before, but in those days I was not interested in finding remnants of Jewish communities and exploring the Jewish past of the area. This summer I had the opportunity to take a whirlwind tour of a few locations in Italy and Greece. Having lived in Israel for the past 11 years, I was now much more curious about Jewish communities.


The Jewish Cathedral of Florence


My journey began in Florence. My first order of business was to climb to the top of the Duomo and to the top of the campanile. I decided that if I had time, I would also visit the synagogue, which I missed 15 years ago. From both of these high perches, I saw a small, beautiful, green-ish dome in the distance that I knew to be the synagogue. After the 463 steps of the Duomo and the 414 steps of the campanile, I was ready to walk on flat ground to the synagogue and back in order to catch my bus that afternoon.


Arriving at the synagogue, the first sight is the high gates and the protective detail guarding the site, but the green-ish dome beckoned from its hiding place. The security is high – no bags, no photos, metal detectors. And the price seems high as well – €6.50 to enter.


I entered a pleasant, well-kept, clean courtyard and made my way to the synagogue. I noticed that there were groups of Italian (non-Jewish) schoolchildren visiting, which I thought was a good thing for the Jewish community of Florence. Instead of entering the sanctuary first, I went directly to the museum and viewed the beautiful religious and ritual objects of the synagogue. And then I went into the women’s section, the balcony, of the synagogue. I was overwhelmed by emotion. For a moment, I couldn’t breathe. As much as I had admired cathedrals in the many cities in Europe I had visited, they did not speak to me on a deep level. I have also been to several very beautiful mosques, but again they did not speak to me. Here I was in a cathedral, but it was a Jewish cathedral. David Levi, the man who donated the funds to build it in the late 1870s, said that he wanted to build a synagogue worthy of Florence.


Hidden Treasure in Siena


My next stop was a visit to my college professor in Siena. As we entered the Campo, the main square of Siena, I thought to ask my professor if he happened to know where the synagogue of Siena was. He did and we went, but it was already closed. The next day, after a climb up another tower (503 steps), I went directly to the synagogue. The synagogue is a hidden synagogue in that there is little outward evidence of its existence. There are opening hours, but the door is not open. I knocked on the door several times and finally someone opened the door.


The entrance of the synagogue in Siena


“Hello! Where are you from?”

“I live in Israel.”

“Oh! Baruch habah!

And the conversation continued from there in Hebrew. As I was speaking to the enthusiastic woman in Hebrew in the doorway of the synagogue, two more Israelis entered the synagogue. We all went together to tour the museum (€4 or €3 upon showing the ticket from the Florence synagogue) and sat in the sanctuary with our guide who happily chatted in perfectly fluent Hebrew. She has family in Israel and Rome. Sadly, the community in Siena today is approximately 50 people. Yet, the sanctuary has a beautiful marble ahron kodesh in the traditional Italian style and a large bima. The feeling is that there is a rich and deep history, but today it is only an echo of the past. The entrance to the museum contains many pictures of the Jewish community in Siena and our guide would have happily talked through the day about its history. One of the interesting pictures was of a wedding that took place during WWII between a Jewish woman of Siena and a Jew from Britain, who was serving in the Jewish Brigade of the British Army….


An Unexpected Encounter in Corfu


The next day in Corfu a sign saying “Jewish synagogue” caught my eye. From the main street we followed the signs like clues in a scavenger hunt. In each square, we looked for another sign, until the next square and another sign. At one sign, my mother looked into a store and spoke to the owner, but we went on to the synagogue. The synagogue is a large building and at the entrance, we saw a woman sitting and welcoming guests. My mother and I went in (entrance is free).


“Hello! Welcome! Welcome! Where you from?”

“I live in Israel.”

“Yaffe! Baruch habah!”


We could have had the conversation in Hebrew, but we switched to English and my mother and I sat and spoke with this large, friendly woman, who sat with her sunglasses on and unapologetically smoked (on Saturday!) in the community room of the synagogue. Ruti, as we learned her name was, lived in Israel for six years and returned to Corfu to care for her sick father. Eventually, she married and stayed in Corfu. She told us that the Jews of Corfu were taken away in WWII, ten families were hidden. Two thousand Jews left and only about 150 returned. Once there had been three synagogues and now this one was the only one left and was used only during holidays when they brought in a rabbi from Italy, Greece, or Israel. Today there are approximately 50 Jews, eight are children.


Dedicated to the Lost


On our way back to the main street, we passed the store that my mother had stopped into. The owner called out, “Did you find the synagogue?”

“Yes.” How did he know? Did my mother mention it?

“Where are you from?”




At this Hebrew suggestion, I went right in. “I want to show you something.” He pulled out a package from behind his sales counter. “This is the shirt that my father was wearing when he left Auschwitz and came back to Corfu. From his family of 13, only he and his sister returned. From my mother’s family of 12, only my mother and her sister returned. They met here and made our family.”


In shock, I asked his name and if I could take a picture of him with the shirt. Moshe (Zinos in Greek) agreed. During WWII, the island had first been under the control of the Italians and then in late 1943, under the Germans. The story of the Jews of Corfu is that only as late as June 10, 1944 (coincidentally I was there on June 15) the Jews were taken to Auschwitz. Looking around the store, I saw that the back wall had an Israeli flag and Beitar Yerushalayim memorabilia. A quick search on the internet later revealed that Moshe is the President of the Jewish community of Corfu. As we left, we wished each other a Shabbat Shalom.


Final Thoughts


I went to Italy and Greece for a vacation and to revisit places I had been before to see the sights I had missed. When I entered the synagogue in Florence, I understood that I needed to not only revisit the places I had been before, but revisit them with curiosity about the Jewish community that was there – or in many cases, that was once there. That is what I missed 15 years ago. Living in Israel has blinded me somewhat to the situation outside of Israel for Jewish communities. The Jewish communities are small, but proud. The best surprises were those that in the smallest communities, there was Hebrew, there was pride, there was still a connection. I was saddened a bit by the communities in Rome and Venice. It is expensive to enter the synagogue and the “Ghetto” is a tourist attraction, no more. Hebrew is not spoken and the community is Roman, Venetian or Italian first, with Jewishness as a close second.


That is why this was an accidental odyssey. Until I arrived in Italy, I did not know what my quest would be. Now, upon my return, what I went to find was a connection to the Jewish community and to be inspired anew to live in Israel.


Ilana Brown lives and works with the Im Tirtzu Zionist-Advocacy Organization in Jerusalem. She is a donor relations professional, editor, Zionist, and intrepid traveler.


(This article has been shortened in the interests of space. For the full piece I including photographs please click on the link or download a pdf here – Ed.)




Former-American Mks Disappointed Pollard not Free: Gil Hoffman, Jerusalem Post, July 30, 2013—Economy and Trade Minister Naftali Bennett and Yesh Atid MK Dov Lipman, who both renounced their American citizenship to enter the Knesset, expressed frustration on Tuesday with the American decision to keep Israeli agent Jonathan Pollard in prison while Israel releases more than 100 Palestinians terrorists as a gesture at the start of diplomatic talks.


For Zion's Sake: Not in Our Vital Interest: Daniel Tauber, Jerusalem Post, July 23, 2013—In a matter of days, Israel will resume its bad habits: It will begin releasing a large number of convicted terrorists, with reports varying from 82 to up to 350, and it will bar its citizens from building, which for many of them means living, in the communities of their choosing east of the 1949 Armistice Line.

Top 10 Ways Israel Fights Desertification: Karin Kloosterman, Israel21c, July 15, 2012—Israel has gained a worldwide reputation for its ability to turn barren desert into useful and arable land. ISRAEL21c takes a look at the country’s top 10 eco-strategies.


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Daniel Pipes et Cynthia Farahat

The Washington Times, 11 juillet 2012
Adaptation française: Anne-Marie Delcambre de Champvert

Que signifie le fait que Mohamed Morsi soit président de l'Egypte? Parlant au nom de l'opinion américaine largement répandue, Bret Stephens a récemment argumenté dans le Wall Street Journal contre l'attitude consistant à se consoler en pensant que la victoire des Frères musulmans «est purement symbolique, puisque l'armée a toujours les canons.» Il a conclu en disant «l'Egypte est perdue.»

Nous allons prouver le contraire: l'élection n'était pas seulement symbolique, mais illusoire, et l'avenir de l'Egypte reste en jeu.

Morsi n'est pas le politicien le plus puissant d'Egypte ou le commandant en chef. Sans doute n'a-t-il même pas dirigé les Frères musulmans. Son travail n'est pas défini. L'armée pourrait l'écarter. Pour la première fois depuis 1954, le président égyptien est un personnage secondaire, avec comme rôle celui de simple fonctionnaire qui depuis longtemps est celui que l'on associe au rôle de premier ministre.

Mohamed Tantawi est le véritable souverain de l'Egypte. Président du Conseil suprême des Forces armées (SCAF), maréchal et ministre de la Défense, il ne sert pas seulement en tant que commandant en chef, mais aussi en tant que chef effectif des trois branches gouvernementales de l'Égypte. Tantawi est un autocrate avec des pouvoirs quasi-absolus. En tant que représentant en chef de la junte militaire qui a gouverné l'Egypte depuis février 2011, sa mission est d'étendre la règle de la junte indéfiniment dans l'avenir, assurant ainsi aux officiers des avantages et des privilèges.

Le Conseil suprême des Forces armées (SCAF) exploite les Frères musulmans et d'autres mandataires comme ses couvertures civiles, un rôle qu'ils sont heureux de jouer, en permettant aux islamistes d'engranger un énorme pourcentage de vote parlementaire, puis de gagner la présidence. Au cours de la semaine de retard suspecte avant que les votes présidentiels n'aient été annoncés, le Conseil suprême des forces armées (SCAF) a rencontré le véritable leader des Frères musulmans, Khairat El-Shater, et conclu un accord selon lequel Morsi devient président, mais le SCAF gouverne encore.

Pour comprendre le pouvoir du Conseil Suprême des Forces armées (SCAF), notons trois mesures qu'il a prises conjointement avec les élections présidentielles:

Imposition de la loi martiale: Le 13 juin, le ministre de la justice a autorisé les services des renseignements généraux et la police militaire à arrêter des civils comme ils le veulent et à les incarcérer pendant six mois s'ils expriment toute forme d'opposition écrite ou artistique contre le conseil suprême des forces armées (SCAF), la police, ou leurs mandataires islamistes, tandis que protester contre ces mêmes institutions dans la rue peut conduire à la prison à vie.

Dissolution du parlement: Au motif que les élections législatives de novembre 2011-janv. 2012, avaient violé la Constitution (qui interdit aux candidats du parti de se présenter pour des sièges«individuels», la haute Cour administrative a statué sur leur validité en février 2012. Le 14 juin, la cour suprême constitutionnelle -que contrôle le conseil suprême des forces armées (SCAF) [la cour suprême constitutionnelle (CSC), une cour composée de juges nommés par Moubarak, a statué qu'un tiers des sièges au parlement étaient invalides parce que les candidats des partis politiques avaient été élus pour des sièges réservés exclusivement aux indépendants non rattachés à un parti (NDLT)]- a confirmé cette décision et dissout le parlement. Rétrospectivement, il apparaît que le conseil suprême des forces armées (SCAF), qui a supervisé ces élections, intentionnellement a laissé les islamistes violer la loi de manière à avoir une excuse à volonté pour dissoudre le parlement frauduleux de l'Egypte.

Mettre en place le principe de la loi martiale: le conseil suprême des Forces armées (SCAF) a publié une déclaration constitutionnelle le 17 juin qui a officialisé son intention de prolonger un règlement de l'armée datant de 60 ans. L'article 53/2 indique que, face à des troubles internes, «le président peut émettre la décision de diriger les forces armées – avec l'approbation du conseil suprême des forces armées (SCAF) -pour maintenir la sécurité et la défense des biens publics». La base pour une prise en charge militaire complète ne pouvait guère être plus crûment affirmée, le plan de Morsi de reconvoquer le parlement dissous pourrait justifier une telle action.

Si les étrangers ne voient rien en général des jeux de pouvoir du conseil suprême des forces armées (SCAF), les Egyptiens tiennent largement compte de cette réalité. Le mouvement libéral de la jeunesse du 6 avril a appelé ses actions récentes "un coup d'Etat léger." La journaliste Zaynab Abou al-Majd fait remarquer amèrement que "les coups d'état politiques, ces jours-ci, sont effectuées par des élections justes". Ziad Abdel Tawab de l'Institut du Caire pour les études des droits de l'homme appelle la dissolution du parlement un «coup d'Etat militaire flagrant.» Un journal égyptien a appelé Morsi "un président sans pouvoirs", tandis qu'un islamiste l'a comparé à la reine Elizabeth II de Grande-Bretagne.

Le conseil suprême des forces armées (SCAF) se bat pour perpétuer le statu quo, selon lequel le corps des officiers profite de la bonne vie et le reste du pays sert à ses besoins. Faire de Morsi le président apparent de l'Egypte habilement lui refile la responsabilité alors que les problèmes économiques du pays s'aggravent. Mais les stratagèmes du conseil suprême des forces armées (SCAF) font courir de graves dangers et ils pourraient se retourner contre lui, car une population qui en a marre de la tyrannie et de l'arriération se retrouve en pire dans la même situation. La prochaine explosion pourrait rendre le soulèvement de début 2011 fade en comparaison.

Pour tenter d'éviter l'explosion prochaine, les gouvernements occidentaux devraient adopter une politique faisant progressivement pression sur le conseil suprême des forces armées (SCAF) afin de permettre d'accroître la participation politique véritable.


Gil Hoffman

upjf.org, 18 juillet 2012

Il ne fait aucun doute que les carnages qui s’opèrent en Syrie sont atroces. Il ne fait aucun doute que l’armée de Bachar Al Assad est une armée barbare et criminelle. Il ne fait aucun doute, non plus, que les Casques bleus de l’ONU dépêchés sur place sont abominablement inutiles, et ne servent, comme partout où des Casques bleus sont dépêchés, qu’à compter les cadavres.

Campagne de riposte à la secrétaire d’Etat après son refus sans équivoque de la possibilité de libérer Pollard. Le Comité pour ramener Jonathan Pollard à la maison a exprimé son indignation mardi après les commentaires de la secrétaire d’Etat des USA Hillary Clinton rejetant la possibilité que la sentence à perpétuité de l’agent israélien soit commuée. « En ce qui concerne M. Pollard, il a été condamné pour espionnage en 1987, a dit Clinton. Il a été condamné à la prison à vie, il accomplit cette sentence et je ne m’attends en aucune manière à ce que cela change ». Une porte-parole du comité a dit que les remarques de Clinton ont stupéfié ses hôtes israéliens et gâché le chaleureux accueil qu’elle avait reçu du public.

Elle remarqua que Clinton n’avait donné aucune explication sur la raison pour laquelle les USA voulaient garder en prison Pollard, âgé et malade.

« [Clinton a dit que] Pollard a été condamné à la prison à perpétuité, dit la porte-parole. Dans ce que l’on ne peut que considérer que comme une impudence sans mélange, tout en repoussant les requêtes d’Israël pour la libération de Pollard, Mme Clinton a fait pression sur le Premier ministre Benyamin Netanyahou et le président Shimon Peres pour libérer nombre d’assassins et de terroristes condamnés en faveur de l’Autorité Palestinienne, qui dit-elle encore, ont été aussi condamnés à la ‘prison à perpétuité’ et ‘exécutent cette sentence’. « Des officiels qui oeuvrent à la libération de Pollard ont été rassurés du fait que Clinton n’a pas son mot à dire pour commuer la sentence d’un prisonnier.

Ils ont exprimé leur confiance que le président Barack Obama peut toujours répondre favorablement aux requêtes de clémence pour Pollard de la part de Peres et Netanyahou », poursuivit la porte-parole : « Les remarques de Clinton représentent une claque retentissante à la face du président Peres, à celle du Premier ministre Benyamin Netanyahou, et du Peuple d’Israël. Ses remarques sont aussi un affront au Peuple américain, et aux nombreux officiels américains de haut rang et aux représentants élus qui appellent à la libération de Pollard, à la communauté juive américaine et à ses dirigeants et aux honnêtes gens à travers le monde qui sont épris de justice pour Pollard. Cependant, Clinton n’est pas celle qui décide. Cela revient au président ».

En 2000, alors qu’elle faisait sa campagne électorale pour le Sénat, Hillary Clinton déclara qu’elle se souciait « des problèmes du procès concernant la sentence de Jonathan Pollard ».

La femme de Pollard, Esther, qui a refusé de répondre à Clinton, quittera Israël mercredi matin pour rendre visite à son mari dans sa cellule de Caroline du nord. La visite était prévue avant les remarques de Clinton à cause de sa santé chancelante.

Des membres de la Knesset de tout le spectre politique ont exprimé leur consternation après les commentaires de Clinton. La parlementaire MK du Parti Kadima, Ronit Tirosh, qui dirige le groupe de pression en faveur de Pollard à la Knesset, a révélé que les conseillers de Clinton l’ont empêchée de donner à la secrétaire d’Etat une lettre signée de 11 chefs de groupes de la Knesset plaidant pour la libération de Pollard.

« Les déclarations de Clinton ont été les plus sévères, les plus dures et les plus insensibles de la part d’un officiel américain depuis que le vice-président Joe Biden a dit que Pollard ne serait libéré qu’[en passant] sur son cadavre », a dit Tirosh. « Elle aurait pu faire une réponse neutre, mais au lieu de cela, elle n’a laissé aucune place à l’espoir que la vie de Pollard puisse encore être sauvée ».

Le député du Parti Likoud MK Danny Danon a dit que Clinton a nui à Obama auprès des électeurs Juifs américains, déjà peinés qu’il n’ait pas visité Israël comme président.

« Comme chef de la diplomatie américaine, elle aurait pu répondre diplomatiquement, dit Danon. Désormais, ce qu’elle a dit sur Pollard est la seule chose dont on se souviendra de sa visite ».

« Soit le gouvernement Obama ne comprend pas les Israéliens ou bien il s’en moque ».

Le ministre adjoint des affaires étrangères Danny Ayalon (Parti Ysrael Beytenu) a déclaré à la radio de l’armée qu’il espérait que Pollard ne mourrait pas en prison. Il a dit qu’aussi bien les gouvernements Démocrate et Républicain des USA avaient choisi une approche stricte qu’il ne parvenait pas comprendre et qui le décevaient.

« Nous n’abandonnerons pas, dit Ayalon. Nous poursuivrons nos efforts de persuasion ».


Guy Millière

menapress.org, 15 juillet 2012

Une campagne pro-palestinienne, initiée par le «Comité pour la Paix en Israël et en Palestine» va s’afficher, en grand, dans le métro de New York. Une cinquantaine de stations vont être couverts de panneaux publicitaires dévoilant quatre cartes de la « Palestine ». Des cartes apposées les unes auprès des autres et qui exposent, à croire ces panneaux, un rétrécissement graduel de sa superficie s’étalant de l’année 1946 à 2010. Sur le côté est indiqué : « 4,7 millions de Palestiniens sont classés par l'ONU en tant que réfugiés ».

Lorsque des auteurs évoquent les liens entre le mouvement palestinien et le nazisme, il se trouve toujours des bienpensants politiquement corrects pour soutenir qu’il s’agit là d’un amalgame injustifiable. Le nazisme, ajoutent-ils en général, est mort en 1945. Affirmer le contraire, poursuivent-ils, équivaut à remettre en cause la singularité abominable de la Shoah. 

Je suis et n’ai cessé d’être de ceux qui s’élèvent contre toute relativisation de la Shoah, dont je reconnais pleinement la singularité abominable. J’ai beaucoup écrit sur ce sujet. 

Je n’en affirme pas moins que le nazisme n’est pas mort en 1945, et que ses continuateurs les plus dangereux ne sont pas ceux que l’on nomme néo-nazis en Europe – ou ceux que l’on assimile hâtivement aux néo-nazis pour les disqualifier -, mais divers islamistes et adeptes d’un nationalisme arabe, teinté, depuis ses origines, de national-socialisme.

Et j’ajoute que le mouvement palestinien se situe au cœur de cette continuité.

Il est avéré que les divers élans du nationalisme arabe ont d’emblée été imprégnés du national-socialisme allemand. Ils ont, de surplus, entretenu des liens avec le Reich du temps où celui-ci s’évertuait à conquérir l’Europe et à éliminer les Juifs de la surface de la terre.

Les fondateurs du parti Baas, Michel Aflaq et Salah al-Din Bitar, l’ont défini en s’appuyant tout à la fois sur des idées marxistes, fascistes et nationales-socialistes. Et c’est de leur aligotage incertain qu’était issu Rashid Ali al-Kailani, l’organisateur d’un coup d’Etat pronazi contre la monarchie irakienne en 1941. C’est également dans ce courant politique que se sont illustrés Hafez al-Assad et, plus tard, Saddam Hussein.

Leurs idées ont aussi imprégné le mouvement dirigé par Gamal Abdel Nasser, qui s’est emparé du pouvoir en Egypte en 1952. Des chansons à la gloire d’Hitler ont circulé dans le monde arabe bien longtemps après la mort de ce dernier.

Nombre de dignitaires et d’officiers nazis de haut rang ont trouvé refuge et travail en Egypte et en Syrie après la chute du Reich, et y sont resté protégés et actifs jusqu’à leur mort.

Le principal mouvement islamiste en activité à ce jour, les Frères Musulmans, fondé par Hassan el-Banna en 1928, était lui-même imbibé, dès le départ, d’idées fascistes et nationales-socialistes, qui n’ont pas été abandonnées depuis.

Muhammad Amin al-Husseini, père « spirituel » du mouvement palestinien, nationaliste arabe et islamiste, n’a pas uniquement été un fervent compagnon de route du national-socialisme : il a activement collaboré avec l’Allemagne nazie, jusque dans la conception et la mise en œuvre de l’Holocauste, avant de retourner au Proche-Orient pour tenter d’y fomenter une deuxième Shoah.

Jusqu’au milieu des années 1960, le discours des nationalistes arabes et celui des islamistes n’évoquaient pas la libération de la Palestine, mais uniquement la destruction d’Israël et l’élimination des Juifs du Proche-Orient. Ce discours recelait explicitement un caractère antisémite et exterminationniste, le propre des propos tenus par des gens imprégnés de l’idéologie nationale-socialiste.

En ce temps-là, pour les Arabes, le mouvement « palestinien » n’existait pas, le « peuple palestinien » non plus.

Des officiers proches du KGB, des services du colonel Nasser, et de ceux du parti Baas syrien ont alors inventé le mouvement « palestinien », le « peuple palestinien » et une « lutte de libération nationale ». 

Des dirigeants palestiniens ont été sélectionnés et formés, notamment à Moscou, dont certains sont actifs jusqu’à ce jour, tel Mahmoud Abbas. Un manifeste palestinien a été rédigé et publié en 1968, et cela ne relève pas d’un hasard s’il ressemble de très près, comme l’a noté le journaliste italien Giulio Meotti dans un article récent, au manifeste du Parti National-Socialiste des Travailleurs Allemands publié en 1920.

Comme l’écrit Meotti, « le palestinisme n’est pas la construction d’une identité nationale, mais une construction idéologique au service d’un projet criminel totalitaire… C’est une utopie qui n’attend pas de concessions de la part d’Israël, mais cherche une solution finale ».

Nombre d’Israéliens discernent pleinement à qui ils ont affaire et ce qui est en jeu. Ce n’est malheureusement pas le cas de la gauche israélienne, au sein de laquelle l’aveuglement volontaire règne encore. On sait toutefois que l’aveuglement volontaire est une maladie qui touche toutes les gauches de la planète.


Herb Keinon

Jerusalem Post, February 3, 2012

The Hill Times, a Canadian weekly newspaper that covers that country’s politics, recently came out with its annual edition of the country’s 100 most influential people in government and politics. John Baird, Canada’s Conservative 42-year-old foreign minister, was listed as number three.

“If you weren’t in politics, what would you want to be doing,” Baird was asked in the magazine interview. “Likely working on a kibbutz in Israel,” was his reply. Anyone who heard Baird either in private conversation or public appearances this week—he was in Israel for diplomatic meetings and to take part in the Herzliya Conference—would not be surprised by his answer. The man, appointed Canada’s foreign minister in May 2011, likes Israel—a lot.

And Baird is not the only one. Since Stephen Harper became the country’s prime minister in 2006, Canada went from being a middle-of-the-road friend of Israel…to setting the gold standard for support of the Jewish state. There is not a government on the planet today more supportive of Israel than Harper’s Canada. And the love runs both ways. According to…Baird…“The amount of warmth and love for Canada here in Israel is just unbelievable.…”

What follows are excerpts of the [Jerusalem Post’s] interview with Baird.

You said in your speech this week at the Herzliya Conference that Israel has no better friend in the world than Canada. Where is that coming from?… Because it hasn’t always been this way.

First and foremost it is some of the prime minister’s leadership. There is no moral ambiguity; he’s not one who believes in moral relativism. The prime minister’s leadership is very strong on this. There are a number of ministers—I’m one—who feel very passionately about Israel.

I can recall being here once [a number of years ago] and talking to the Canadian ambassador and asking why Canada is so against Israel. “What do you mean,” he said. I said, “all these resolutions at the UN.” When he said they don’t mean anything, my response was, “Well if they don’t mean anything why do we vote for them?” And his reply was, “Oh that just happens every year.…”

But Mr. Harper has said this, and I have said it many times too, that too often in the past Canada’s [foreign policy] is just “go along to get along.” And it is easier to do that. If someone asked in the past about Canada’s foreign policy, the working assumption would be that it is whatever…the international consensus is among our allies. But now we base it on values and principles.

Is this coming from a religious place for the prime minister? Is this religious-based support?

No, I don’t think so. It is very similar to me. After the Holocaust it is tremendously important for there to be a Jewish homeland, a Jewish state that can be a place of refuge. In this region today there is only one liberal democracy, only one place that values and respects democracy, human rights and the rule of law. And that is our ally.

My grandfather went to war in 1942—the big struggle of his generation was fascism and then communism. The great struggle of my generation, of our generation, is terrorism. Too often Israel is on the front line of that struggle, and it is tremendously important that we take a principled stand and support our friend and ally.

How well does that resonate in Canada?

We certainly don’t do it for electoral advantage. It is not an electoral winner.… There are 2,800 Jews in my constituency in Ottawa. I have 11,500 Muslims and Arabs. The Arab and Muslim population is much larger. So I don’t think we do it for electoral reasons. We’ve gotten great support from the Jewish community in Canada, which we value, but it is not done with an electoral calculation in mind.

Has it, or could it, hurt you politically?

When you stand up for your values and you do something that is basically right, you are never hurt.

How about around the world? Is Canada’s stature diminished…because of your support for Israel?

If, as the minister of foreign affairs, my job was to wake up in the morning and ask how to be popular, this probably wouldn’t be the way to do it. But at the same time it is not an albatross by any stretch.… I was in the [Persian] Gulf for five days in late November and one of the Canadian reporters said, “Baird is going to the Gulf and this [Canada’s support for Israel] will be the elephant in the room for the entire five days.” No one brought it up. No one. People may disagree with our position, but they respect that we have differences.…

How about with Europe?

Certainly Prime Minister Harper fought very hard for a balanced statement on the [Israeli-Palestinian] conflict at the G-8 [last may in France, when Canada was instrumental in softening a statement on the Middle East and keeping out any mention of the pre-1967 lines as a precondition for negotiations]. Of course it would just be easier if Canada would just shut up, sit in the corner and not cause any problems.…

But isn’t it harming your stature in the world? Didn’t you lose a 2010 vote to join the Security Council because of it?

There is no doubt that it was unhelpful in the Security Council. I don’t think you could say there was one particular reason [why Canada lost to Portugal for a temporary seat on the Security Council]. But that was certainly one of the reasons.…

You said that Canada is Israel’s greatest friend in the world. Where is the US in this?

I think the US is a good friend, too. I like to think we are better.… A stronger friend.

How does that manifest itself?

Take the G-8 communiqué. It made reference to [US] President [Barack] Obama’s speech.… But if you want to talk about 1967 borders with land swaps, let’s talk about Israel as a Jewish state. If you want to talk about the [‘67 borders] , we can talk about a future Palestinian state being demilitarized.… If you want to be specific, we would want some of those more favorable comments toward Israel included in the communiqué.…

In your speech at Herzliya you quoted Winston Churchill about the dangers of appeasing fascism. Is the west today appeasing terrorism?

I think terrorism is a scourge and it requires leadership to confront it. There is no room for moral ambiguity. It is the great struggle of our generation.

I was down in Sderot earlier today. Terror is not exclusively the death count, or those who are injured. What does a mother say to a child who can’t go to sleep at night because he is so scared? There are teachers teaching games to their students on what to do when they have 15 seconds [to get to a bomb shelter]. There is culture of fear that results from terrorism and the threat of terrorism. It is hard to quantify it. We can say “x number of people were killed in this or that incident” but there is a culture of fear that has gripped far too many people around the world.

Has the West adequately stepped up to the plate to deal with it?

I think Canada has. We have been very clear. We listed Hamas as a terror entity and won’t have any contact with them. I think that is the right thing to do.…

What would Canada’s policy be if [Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas] formed a government with Hamas?

We don’t support terrorism. That is our policy and it is crystal clear.… We just will not work with terrorists.…

Turning to Iran, [what] do we know about what is going on there?

What we know is that this is a regime that is enriching uranium and that has a clear nuclear arms program underway. That is undisputable. We know that Iran’s support of international terrorist organizations in the region—whether it is Hamas, Hezbollah or Palestinian Jihad—is an absolute disgrace and causing more problems. Iran supports a lot of evil and violence.…

We don’t just fear that Iran would like to acquire nuclear weapons and we don’t just fear that this would lead to an arms race by others trying to counterbalance them. I fear that they would use them.… I used to look at Iran through the prism of Israel. But the fear of much of the Arab world on Iran is palpable. It is a threat to Canada. It is a threat to entire international peace and security.…

[What are your views on anti-semitism?]

I think we have seen a new anti-Semitism emerge around the world—delegitimizing the state of Israel. We see it popping up in Canada: Israeli Apartheid Week on universities. It is all to delegitimize Israel.… The most horrifying thing at [the] Yad Vashem [Holocaust memorial] in many respects is not the end of your tour, but the beginning.…

Yesterday at Yad Vashem the rabbi said it was the 79th anniversary of Adolf Hitler becoming chancellor. He wrote Mein Kampf 12 years before that. None of this was a surprise or a secret. So if you have the president of Iran making these outrageous statements and then trying to acquire nuclear weapons—I mean, what more do you need to inspire fear of the potential consequences? It would be easier to just shut up and hope for the best, but that’s not the best way to conduct foreign policy.…

David Breakstone

Jerusalem Magazine, January 20, 2012

When Theodor Herzl began covering the trial of Captain Alfred Dreyfus in 1893 as Paris correspondent of the Neue Freie Presse, he suspected that the French army officer charged with treason was guilty of the crime for which he’d been arrested. A devotee of the promises of Enlightenment and Emancipation, it was difficult for him to accept that the French republic—born of the belief in liberté, égalité and fraternité—was capable of fabricating the web of lies that would result in the public humiliation and imprisonment of a loyal French officer. Ultimately, however, the affair would have a dramatic effect in propelling him toward the conclusion that the Jews could never be at home anywhere in the world until they had a home in a land of their own.

Herzl wasn’t so much shaken by his discovery that the authorities had conspired to frame an innocent Jew, but rather by the response of the masses to Dreyfus’s conviction, culminating in the cry of the mob that continues to reverberate to this very day. “Death to Dreyfus” he might have been able to swallow, but “death to the Jews” was a different matter altogether, giving expression, in Herzl’s words, to “the wish of the overwhelming majority in France to damn a Jew, and in this one Jew, all Jews.”

Enter Rotem Singer. Hustled into a Punta Arenas courtroom last month on charges of igniting the fire that would consume 28,300 hectares (69,900 acres) of pristine Chilean forestland, the Israeli backpacker was accosted by spectators who decried him as a “stinking Jew,” unleashing a pandemic of anti-Semitism in this otherwise civilized society. Local newspapers, blogs and social networks are abuzz with the most outrageous conspiracy theories accusing Jews in general and Israelis in particular of a plot to establish a second Jewish state in southern Chile.…

Making reference to the possibility Herzl raised in his Zionist manifesto, The Jewish State, that the Jewish people might consider establishing their homeland in Argentina, an alarming and baffling number of personalities are now reviving talk of the century-old Andinia Plan, the South American equivalent of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Though no such program ever existed (Herzl himself nixed the idea of Argentina two months after publishing his book), those who swear by it maintain that there is an international Jewish conspiracy to colonize southern Argentina and Chile, in the precise area of Patagonia where the conflagration was burning out of control.

Fanning these flames of anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism, [well-known Chilean journalist] Andres Figueroa Cornejo published a diatribe against Israel in El Ciudadano that is shocking to read, even in an age when we have become accustomed to the virulent lies and vituperative distortions that characterize the campaign to delegitimize the very idea of a Jewish state. In it he accuses Israel of crimes against the Palestinian people that, he notes, are ironically similar to those perpetrated against the Jews by Nazi Germany. What else is new? In this instance, the insinuations included in his tirade that Singer, “a militaristic Israeli” trained in the ways of occupation and domination by one of the strongest armies on the planet, was sent by the imperialist Israeli government to further its strategic geo-military objective of taking over the territory that was ravaged.

I wish we could simply dismiss this absolute hogwash as the inane gibberish of a mentally unbalanced fanatic. Unfortunately, that would be dangerous to do. Figueroa Cornejo’s rantings are based in part on a statement attributed to a member of the Chilean senate and chairman of its Foreign Affairs Committee, Eugenio Tuma of the Party for Democracy. Tuma said that “it is not normal that the Israeli government send a military team to tour Patagonia. The free transit of tourists is completely different from having a state financing and organizing its former soldiers,” who, he suggested, are being sent to the area in order to help them deal with post-traumatic stress disorder developed as a consequence of their role in oppressing the Palestinian people. These remarks were echoed by another Chilean senator, Fuad Chachin, vice president of the Christian Democratic Party, who raised questions as to whether Rotem Singer was really a tourist at all, or perhaps, as he suggested, someone sent by Israel for other reasons “after killing Palestinian children.”

Laudably, the heads of the Christian Democratic Party and the Party for Democracy have condemned these statements and distanced themselves from the anti-Semitism they reflect.… It now remains to be seen how the rest of Chilean society will react to such outrageous outbursts of anti-Semitism and whether this response will echo or rebuff Herzl’s observation of more than a century ago. “We have honestly tried everywhere to merge ourselves into the social life of surrounding communities,” he wrote. “We are not permitted to do so.… In countries where we have lived for centuries we are still cried down as strangers.…”

Hopefully [the local Zionist Federation’s] efforts and those of others in this well-organized Jewish community will mean that the negative impact of the last few weeks will be minimal. But while Singer is certainly no Dreyfus, this disagreeable episode is nevertheless an unpleasant reminder that anti-Semitism did not disappear with the advent of Zionism, as Herzl predicted it would, and that the uncomfortable question as to just how much the Jewish people can ever really be at home outside of a Jewish state remains unanswered.

(David Breakstone is deputy chairman of the World Zionist Organization
and a member of The Jewish Agency Executive.)

Dennis Deconcini

Jerusalem Post, January 24, 2012

It’s been more than 15 years since I first publicly advocated for Jonathan Pollard to be released from prison. I did so less than two years after I had completed my term as chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee. In reiterating that plea today, I find that a number of other high-ranking government officials have come to share my view. The time is long overdue.

In the past 18 months I have been publicly joined in that view by many noteworthy veterans of government service—including the former head of the CIA James Woolsey, the former deputy attorney-general Philip Heymann, and the former White House counsel Bernard Nussbaum—all of whom have reviewed the classified information of the Pollard case.

A good deal of momentum in the push for clemency has come from people who dealt with the case from the highest positions of government, from the time Pollard was arrested on November 21, 1985. Then-secretary of state George Shultz has now publicly called for his release. The head of the Senate Intelligence Committee at the time, Sen. David Durenberger, recently sent a letter to the president that I co-signed with 16 other former senators advocating Pollard’s immediate release. The fact is that the classified information I reviewed nine years after Pollard’s arrest does not justify his continued confinement.

Federal prosecutors in the Pollard case sent the court a victim-impact statement which accurately reflected the extent of his crime. In summary, the statement said that Pollard gave Israel US information on the weaponry of the Arab countries and this information deprived the US of its bargaining leverage with Israel on intelligence sharing and assisted Israel in its balance of power with the Arab countries. The statement concluded that “In short, Mr. Pollard’s activities have adversely affected US relations with both its Middle East Arab allies and the government of Israel.” This statement is also consistent with the fact that Pollard was not charged with intending to harm the US.

I am encouraged by the recent meeting between Vice President Biden and Jewish leaders to discuss Pollard’s plight. This was the highest-level meeting ever held with an administration official concerning Pollard. It is obvious that across the Jewish community there is widespread support for Pollard’s release and this view is shared by major American figures from both sides of the political aisle.…

With a presidential election coming up in less than a year it is interesting to note that the Republican candidate for president three years ago and one of his main Republican rivals for the nomination—Sen. John McCain and Gov. Mike Huckabee—have both publicly called for clemency. But I do not believe this is, or should be, a political decision. Simply put, Pollard broke the law—no matter how you slice it or dice it, he was convicted. Period. However, 27 years is far more than a sufficient sentence for the offense he committed. The president should grant him clemency.

(Dennis Deconcini is a former US senator from Arizona.)

Ron Prosor

Jerusalem Post, January 30, 2012

[The following speech, marking International Holocaust Remembrance Day, was delivered
Friday, January 27, by Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations, Ron Prosor.—

I, Ron Prosor, stand before you today as the child of Uri Prosor, who fled Nazi Germany when a Jewish state was still a dream—and the father of Lior, Tomer and Oren Prosor, for whom that dream is a vivid reality.

I see many from my father’s generation here today, some who survived death camps and death marches; who saw the unimaginable and still had the hope to imagine a brighter future; who endured the unspeakable and still had the courage to speak out for others. I am honored—truly honored—to be in your presence.

I see some from my children’s generation here. Today is about you. It is to you, and your children, that we extend a sacred promise during this week of [Holocaust] commemoration at the United Nations.

Today I hear the voice of a 12-year-old girl named Donia Rosen, who hid in the forests of Poland after the Nazis murdered her entire family. She wrote in her diary on June 23, 1943: “I ask you not to forget the dead. Establish a memorial to us…a statue not of marble and not of stone, but of good deeds.”

Donia’s words echo in these halls of the United Nations, which were built in the wake of the Holocaust. On this day of commemoration, I say to my UN colleagues and to all the distinguished people gathered here: the commitment of “Never Again” must be universal. It extends to each and every one of you. And ladies and gentleman, we have much work to do.

In our world today, state-sponsored anti-Semitism persists, hate fills children’s textbooks, and spiritual and religious leaders incite violence and racism. We live in a world that saw the atrocities of Auschwitz and Birkenau, only to have then witnessed the killing fields of Cambodia, the genocide in Rwanda and the ongoing massacres in Darfur. In this hall of the General Assembly—at the very podium where I stand today—Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad stands every year and shamelessly denies the Holocaust, while his government threatens to carry out another one.

Our duty is clear. It is not enough to be good. We must know what to do when we face evil.…

This week we have heard many powerful stories of children who lived during the Holocaust. One of those children is Petr Ginz—a brilliant writer and an artist. He yearned to explore the universe and discover its truths, drawing a landscape of the moon well before man had laid eyes on it. I have a copy of the picture that he drew in Terezín with me today. Let me hold it up for all of you to see.

Today I ask you to think of all the works of art that were never made, all the ideas that were never known, and all the cures that were never found. The scale of destruction is incomprehensible. Look at one child, and multiply by a million and a half. Look at a member of your own family and multiply by six million. Just try to imagine!

Yet, there is something even greater than that unbearable loss: the Jewish people’s determination to endure and rebuild. We are a nation of survivors. The State of Israel is a living, breathing symbol of survival.

And although Petr’s life was cut short in the gas chambers of Auschwitz, his dreams have never died. A copy of his picture traveled with the first Israeli astronaut, Col. Ilan Ramon, on his journey into space on the Colombia shuttle—a mission that ended in tragedy.

From the depths of Auschwitz, to the outer reaches of space, to the halls of the United Nations, the journey of Petr’s drawing embodies the resilience of our people. It lives on. And on this day of commemoration, as a representative of the Jewish state among the nations of the world, I am so proud to say: Am Yisrael Chai! The People of Israel will live on.


Janice Arnold

Canadian Jewish News, November 17, 2011

When her mother’s hairdresser in Winnipeg started talking about the way the Palestinians are being treated, historian Catherine Chatterley realized that propaganda against Israel is having an impact on the “average non-Jewish Canadian.” Neither Chatterley nor her mother is Jewish, but the former is the founding director since last year of the Canadian Institute for the Study of Antisemitism (CISA) at the University of Manitoba.

The “insidious” campaign accusing Israel of being an apartheid or racist, even Nazi, state is succeeding among ordinary people with no personal stake in the Arab-Israeli conflict and who are not haters, she indicated. “As a non-Jew, I say, with respect, that I do not think the Jewish community is prepared for what’s happening,” Chatterley said at a daylong conference on “Combating the Delegitimation of Israel,” organized by the Canadian Institute for Jewish Research (CIJR), with support from Federation CJA, the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs and the U.S.-based Middle East Forum.

“Much that is being said about Jews on campuses and in the media is libelous, and some of it is by respected people,” she said. When she entered university in 1987, it was extremely difficult to access antisemitic material, like The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. “Today, it is on the Internet and everywhere,” she said.

Chatterley teaches a year-long course on Antisemitism and the Holocaust, but even non-Jewish students interested in the subject “know nothing about Israel or Zionism, little about the Holocaust or Jewish history, but they do know about Hitler and fascism and it fascinates them.” The Jewish community, she thinks, should be concerned with educating non-Jewish youth, as well as their own, because “allies are key” in the fight against the undermining of the Jewish state and antisemitism.

Throughout the day, the 200 conference participants heard from speakers from Canada, the United States and Israel who believe Israel’s ideological enemies are gaining ground. The overall tone was that the Jewish community and Israel itself should more vigorously defend the Jewish state. “We cannot allow any posthumous victories for Hitler,” said CIJR founding director, Concordia University professor Frederick Krantz.

The threat is not only coming from the Arab world or the left wing.

Sally Zerker, York University professor emeritus and a pioneer in Canadian Professors for Peace in the Middle East, deplored the apparently increasing number of Jews who publicly denounce Israel. She accused them of playing into the “old canard of Jews damning other Jews, making themselves ‘good Jews’ in the eyes of the gentile world.” Zerker also thinks the American political action group J Street, that describes itself as pro-Israel, is actually damaging Israel, including by their support of President Barack Obama, who she does not believe is a friend of Israel.

Jewish professors who oppose Israel should be “exposed for who they are and what their true motives are,” she said. Zerker is especially enraged by Israeli professors she calls “fifth columnists” and “traitors,” terms she doesn’t hesitate to use because “Israel is at war, delegitimation is war, which means the Jewish people is at war as well.”

Fellow panelist National Post columnist Barbara Kay concurred, but instead of getting angry she finds Israeli academics and intellectuals who denounce Israel ludicrous. She cited several examples, singling out Tel Aviv University as “the epicentre of the phenomenon. They’ll never see another dollar from me.”

Charles Small sees the political left and radical Islam, especially when they combine forces, as the most cause for worry. The Montreal native was founding director of the Yale Initiative for the Interdisciplinary Study of Antisemitism (YISA), which was shut down by the university this summer after five years. He believes university officials caved in to the “red-green alliance,” liberals and Muslim groups that did not like YISA’s speaking out against the “genocidal” antisemitism of radical Islam, in which Small includes Hamas.

The owners of Boutique Le Marcheur, Yves Archambault and his wife, Ginette Auger, were honoured at the conference lunch for their courage in resisting for more than a year a boycott campaign by Palestinian and Jewish Unity. The store’s stock includes a small percentage of Israeli shoes.

Archambault said his determination not to acquiesce is motivated by principle, not politics. Quebec, he said, is a democracy, and that includes commercial freedom and the right to be free from intimidation. Archambault thanked the Jewish community and other Quebecers for their solidarity and friendship.

The conference concluded with the adoption of a resolution calling on “all Jewish organizations that claim to represent us to do everything in their power” to combat the delegitimation of Israel wherever it occurs.… A videotape of the conference [is now] posted on CIJR’s website.

Esther Pollard

Jerusalem Post, November 17, 2011

Dear President Obama,

It is reported that on or about November 24 you will be pardoning this year’s American National Thanksgiving turkey, thereby sparing its life.

While the pardoning ceremony is light-hearted, the values it demonstrates are solemn and deeply cherished. As the president of the United States, your granting clemency to a lowly barnyard bird demonstrates to the world the great respect that the American people have for the values of justice, compassion and mercy. It is in this light that I write to bring to your attention once again to the plight of my husband, Jonathan Pollard.

On November 21, 2011—a scant three days before Thanksgiving—Jonathan Pollard enters his 27th year of a life sentence with no end in sight. I urge and implore you to include Jonathan in the list of holiday clemencies that are expected to be announced by the White House shortly, enabling those who are set free to get home in time for the holidays.

Mr. President, G-d has seen fit to elevate you to the position of the head of the mightiest nation in the world, the president of United States of America, and to invest in you powers of clemency second only to His own. Clearly these gifts were bestowed upon you as a man worthy and capable of fulfilling the biblical injunction which describes what G-d requires of man, namely: “to do justice and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your G-d.” (Micha 6:8)

Over the past year, since Jonathan submitted his clemency petition to you on October 15, 2010, there has been a burgeoning public awareness of the injustice in his sentence. Many senior American officials as well as high-ranking legal officials and elected representatives have appealed to you, both publicly and privately, to release Jonathan.

In their words, his release is a matter of simple justice because “his sentence is grossly disproportionate.” And it is appropriate on humanitarian grounds because his health is failing after more than a quarter of a century of affliction in American prisons.

Those who know the case best have been very clear in their publicly stated opinions and in their letters to you, indicating that keeping Jonathan in prison any longer is a travesty of justice. These include, among many others: former secretary of state George Shultz, former secretary of state Henry Kissinger, White House legal counsel Bernard Nussbaum, former attorney-general Michael Mukasey, former deputy attorney-general Phillip Heymann, former assistant secretary of defense Lawrence Korb and former CIA director James Woolsey.

As well, in a historic display of bipartisanship, a group of 18 prominent former United States senators recently wrote to you, Mr. President, and asked that you commute Jonathan’s sentence to time served.

A number of the signatories served on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, including senators Dennis DeConcini (D-Arizona), Alan Simpson (R-Wyoming), Arlen Specter (R-Pennsylvania), Birch Bayh (D-Indiana), Connie Mack (R-Florida) and David Durenberger (R-Minnesota). All of these individuals had access to the classified portions of Jonathan’s file, enabling them to know the full scope of the case.…

My husband, Jonathan Pollard, has now served more than six to eight times the usual sentence for the offense he committed. After enduring more than 25 years of the harshest afflictions in prison, including seven years in solitary confinement, it is time to release him, now, while he is still alive—before it is too late.…

Mr. President, if a lowly turkey is deserving of your compassion, how much more so is a man who has more than paid the price for the offense he committed and is now, after 26 years in prison, in danger of losing his life.… Mr. President, I implore you, set my husband free, and send him home to me in the Holy City of Jerusalem for the Holiday of Light—and G-d will surely bless!

Respectfully, Esther Pollard

Andrew Engel
Forward, November 18, 2011

Crossing the Ras Ajdir border into Libya from Tunisia on October 24 and 25 required two attempts and three hours, and culminated with an instructive initiation into a post-revolution reality.

The Libyan side felt like a scene from “Lord of the Flies”: gun-toting, barely uniformed teenagers attempting to enforce a semblance of authority; trucks roaming aimlessly, loaded with anti-aircraft guns; occasional tracers from random gunfire cutting across the sky. Entering at midnight only added to the surrealism.

Then, there was the Libyan guard booth at the crossing.

Among the first visuals to greet visitors, it was prominently graffitied with a large caricature of the ousted dictator Moammar Qaddafi, his wild hair sticking out from under a baseball cap. Emblazoned on the cap where a Yankees logo should have been was a large Star of David.

Later, after traversing the country as a freelance journalist, I would see this introduction to Libya as a supreme irony. Qaddafi, I came to understand, had spent decades conditioning his populace to hate Jews in a bid to build popular support for himself, as so many Arab dictators have done. And in the end, when his tyranny and misrule ultimately undid him, it was the hatred of Jews that he so successfully inculcated which was turned against him.

“Did you know that Qaddafi was a Jew?” the Libyan driver we hired to take us to Tripoli from Tunis smugly asked me somewhere on the road close to the Tunisian Island of Djerba, which still has a small Jewish population. “No,” I responded, though I had heard this claim before. “Yes, his mother was a Jew, and on his father’s side he was Italian,” the driver said matter-of-factly.

During the course of my six days hopscotching over the 1,000-mile-wide country, I had the opportunity to listen to scores of Libyans express themselves freely for the first time in 42 years, whether in person or through other media, such as music and graffiti. What I found, unfortunately, along with freedom of expression, was a virulent and ubiquitous anti-Semitism that looks likely to outlast the ruler who promoted it.

The presence of Jews in Libya dates back to the third century BCE, long predating the Arab conquest of Libya in the seventh century. But most of Libya’s 38,000 Jews fled in the wake of anti-Jewish riots after the creation of the State of Israel, in 1948. The remaining 4,000 to 7,000 Jews fled following the 1967 Six Day War. To ensure that they stayed out, Qaddafi, who came to power in 1969, canceled all debts owed to Jews. He also forbade the departed Jews from returning and confiscated their properties. Jewish cemeteries were bulldozed as if to show that even a dead Jew had no place in Libya.

To be sure, widespread incitement against Libyan Jews pre-dated Qaddafi. But the young dictator successfully channeled prevalent anti-Semitism to effectively make Libya Judenrein, cleansed of Jews, for the first time since Greco-Roman era.…

With a new driver in Tripoli, as I desperately sought a hotel at daybreak, came a new CD titled “Rap of the Libyan Revolution.” The first track, “Khalas ya Qaddafi” (“Finished, oh Qaddafi”), rapped in English: “Thank you Obama, thank you Jazeera, thank you Sarkozy for everything you’ve done to me.” It then moved into Arabic: “I’m sorry for Algeria because their leader is Bouteflika, who supports every Jew with his soldiers and weapons. Leave, oh Qaddafi. Every day people die, every day people suffer, every day mothers become widows, every day children fear their house will be destroyed, their toys will be broken, that they will become orphans in their youth, Go out, you Jew!…”

Many of the Libyans I met reminded me of missionaries committed to spreading the word that Qaddafi was and always would be alien to Libyan soil. It was almost as if the taxi driver, Mohammed and the brigade commander—by invoking two of the Arab world’s greatest evils, Zionism and colonialism (by the hands of the Italians)—had accomplished an amazing feat of disassociation between themselves and the man who ruled them for most of their lives, as if they were saying: “You know, Qaddafi was not one of us. A Libyan could not have done what he did.” It was a refusal to come to terms with Libya’s own past. Even a dictator, after all, requires popular support from some segments of society to rule for more than four decades.…

[In Benghazi] opposite the courthouse, on a building belonging to the February 17 Revolution Coalition, as the alliance that converged against Qaddafi is known, was considerable graffiti related to the ousted dictator, with Stars of David and swastikas abounding. One drawing depicted him stealing the people’s money. Just as Kwaafy was explaining that Libyans had no problem with Jews, only with Zionism, I glanced at a wall that was sprayed with the words “Moammar ibn Yehudia,” “Moammar is the son of Judaism.” Anti-Semitism, widely recognized as politically incorrect and morally untenable, is often replaced with anti-Zionism for cover, but the writing on the wall was clear.

When I raised the unsuccessful return of Libyan Jew David Gerbi, Kwaafy said: “Right, I’ve heard about him. I think he was a crazy Tunisian Jew or something.” In fact, Gerbi’s family fled Libya following the 1967 War. Gerbi, who was 12 at the time, eventually settled in Italy with his family. But he never forgot his native land. When the rebellion broke out, Gerbi, a Jungian psychologist, lobbied on the rebels’ behalf with South Africa, which had a frosty view of the rebellion and a rotating seat on the United Nations Security Council that made its view important. South Africa eventually voted for the resolution passed by the Security Council authorizing NATO to protect citizens in Libya. Later, Gerbi treated rebels suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder in a Benghazi hospital.

In October, Gerbi returned to Tripoli to reopen the historic Dar Bishi Synagogue. In response he was nearly lynched while praying there. Hundreds of Libyans protested his presence in Tripoli and Benghazi on the eve of Yom Kippur, with placards that read, “There is no place for Jews in Libya.” His endeavor ended under threat of death and with a return flight to Rome on an Italian military plane.

“It’s easy to get rid of Qaddafi the person, but much more difficult to get rid of the Qaddafi within,” Gerbi told The Jerusalem Post.…

Libyans today may find it convenient to participate in an act of collective scapegoating and denial, a refusal to admit that one of their own could rise to such power only to demean and dominate his own people. But a country unable to come to terms with its history may find itself incapable of building the successful, inclusive democracy it has promised the world. While Libyan interim government officials have said that Gerbi’s timing was too soon, a simple cross-country trip tells me that, at least in my generation, there never will be an appropriate time for Libyan Jews.

Michael Freund

Jerusalem Post, November 16, 2011

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the passing of an unsung Jewish hero, Captain Arthur Carlos de Barros Basto.

His exploits extended from the battlefields of World War I to the struggle to reclaim crypto-Jewish identity, but this intrepid figure met a cruel and unwarranted end at the hands of Portugal’s dictatorial regime. Despite the passage of so many decades, the injustice committed against him cries out for resolution. The time has come to give this man his due.

Barros Basto came from a family of Bnei Anusim (whom historians refer to by the derogatory term “Marranos”), descendants of Jews whose ancestors had been forced to convert to Catholicism in the 15th century.

Raised a Catholic, he went on to become a decorated soldier who commanded a Portuguese infantry company in World War I, where he fought in the trenches of Flanders and took part in the allied offensive to liberate Belgium.

After the war Barros Basto decided to re-embrace the faith of his forefathers. He studied Judaism intensively, then traveled to Spanish Morocco in December 1920 to undergo a formal return to the Jewish people before a rabbinical court.

Back in Portugal, Barros Basto settled in the northern city of Oporto, where he launched a public campaign to persuade other Bnei Anusim to return to their roots. Donning his military uniform and medals, he traveled among the towns and villages of Portugal’s interior, giving rousing speeches, conducting Jewish services and seeking to inspire others to follow his example. After centuries of hiding, thousands of Bnei Anusim answered his call and tentatively agreed to join his movement.

Barros Basto turned to world Jewry for help, and succeeded in raising the necessary funds to build the magnificent Mekor Haim synagogue, which still stands in Oporto. He opened a yeshiva that operated for nine years, where dozens of young Bnei Anusim learned about Jewish life and lore. He also single-handedly produced a Jewish newspaper, Halapid (the Torch), and was responsible for the publication of numerous books on Jewish history and law in Portuguese.

But his open identification with Judaism, and the thousands of people whom he touched, did not sit well with the government or with Church authorities. They sought to quell his nascent movement by bringing him up on charges connected to the practice of the Jewish religion. On June 12, 1937, the Superior Disciplinary Council of the Portuguese Army concluded that Barros Basto lacked the “moral capacity” to serve in its ranks.

And just what exactly was his “crime”? Incredibly, the military council declared that Barros Basto had “performed the operation of circumcision of several students pursuant to a precept of the Israelite religion he professes” and said that he was excessively affectionate toward his pupils. As a result, they summarily drummed him out of the armed forces, destroyed his career and sullied his name. This brought about an end to his efforts to reawaken Portugal’s Bnei Anusim, many of whom saw the treatment meted out to Barros Basto as a sign that the authorities would not tolerate their return to Judaism.

In 1961, he died, a broken man.… Unlike Dreyfus, Barros Basto has yet to receive the exoneration he deserves. Once Portugal began its transition to democracy in 1975, his family appealed to the authorities to rectify the situation, but their pleas fell on deaf ears. For the past decade, Shavei Israel, the organization I chair, has been involved in the Barros Basto case.

Over the years, we elicited support from American Jewish organizations such as the Conference of Presidents, the Orthodox Union and the Religious Zionists of America, all of whom have written to the Portuguese ambassador to Washington about the matter. Last month, on October 31, there was an important new development.

With the help of an attorney, the captain’s granddaughter, Isabel Maria de Barros Lopes, submitted a formal request to the president of the Portuguese parliament seeking her grandfather’s posthumous reinstatement into the military. Isabel told me that she is determined to see things through. Just like her grandfather, she is not afraid to fight for what is right.

But more pressure must be brought to bear on Portuguese officials. Contact your local Portuguese embassy or sign the petition to the leader of the Portuguese parliament online at: http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/pardon-Capt-Barros-Basto/. We must garner as much international support as possible to bring closure to this painful chapter.…

The stain on this noble man’s name is also a stain on Portugal itself, and it is time for it to be removed, once and for all. Rehabilitate the Portuguese Dreyfus and let justice be done, so that his soul may finally rest in peace.

(Michael Freund is chairman of Shavei Israel, an organization that assists lost tribes
and hidden Jewish communities to return to the Jewish people.



Janice Arnold
Canadian Jewish News, September 28, 2011

When Marian Pinsky, a Bialik High School graduate, entered McGill University, she felt the shock of being in an environment where Israel was frequently the target of criticism and attack. Most disturbing for her was that it generally went unanswered. Despite her passion for Israel, she didn’t feel equipped to respond effectively to Israel’s detractors.

Two years ago, she learned of a well-structured, academic-oriented program for CEGEP and university students like her. The Student Israel Advocacy Program (SIAP) was developed by the Canadian Institute for Jewish Research (CIJR), an independent think-tank headed by Concordia University professor Frederick Krantz.

SIAP, which is being offered again for a fourth year, from October through April, is a series of seminars led mainly by Concordia professors on Jewish and Zionist history and modern-day Israel and the Middle East politics, as well as antisemitism.

“Drawing on both primary and secondary documents, it provided me with a comprehensive overview of both the past and present situation, as well as critical talking points to counter accusations and demand a more balanced perspective of a complex and nuanced situation,” said Pinsky, who is now a master’s student in sociology at Concordia.

Almost as important as the knowledge she acquired, Pinsky says SIAP gave her the confidence to defend and promote Israel. The program includes practical instruction in writing, speaking and organizing skills. The students tested those skills out with an actor who pretended to be an aggressive critic of Israel.

In fact, Pinsky says SIAP transformed her from being merely a concerned supporter of Israel to a campus activist. She recently became editor of Dateline: Middle East, the student-run periodical published by CIJR.

“I think the most critical thing that SIAP provide students with, above and beyond the opportunity to meet with experts in the field, was a support network and community,” Pinsky added. “This is so critical, especially as pro-Israel students can often feel outnumbered and alienated on campus.”

She is among the founders last year of the Zionist Youth Network, a grassroots group of pro-Israel students.

For the first time, students can earn three tutorial credits if they complete SIAP, said Krantz. The credits will be issued by the university for which they write the final paper. “SIAP gives students the knowledge and skills they need to defend Israel and Jews, in the face of deepening antisemitism and delegitimization of Israel,” he said Speaking up for Israel is increasingly being hindered on North American campuses, he said, by “selectively restrictive speech codes” and “the sometimes intimidating abuse of professorial authority.”

This year’s SIAP, on the theme “Taking Back the Campus,” comprises sessions held roughly every three weeks at the CIJR office on downtown Ste. Catherine Street from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. There are also film screenings on Sundays, one day-long public colloquium per semester, and required and optional reading.

Among the faculty are Concordia’s Ira Robinson (Jewish studies), David Pariser (fine arts), Norrin Ripsman (political science), Harold Waller (political science, McGill) and David Bensoussan of the Université du Québec à Montréal, as well as Krantz.

Outside experts include National Post columnist Barbara Kay and Paul Agoston of HonestReporting Canada, a pro-Israel media monitoring group.

Krantz said arrangements are being made to transmit SIAP sessions by Skype to the University of Manitoba, through Prof. Catherine Chatterley, director of the Canadian Institute for the Study of Antisemitism, and possibly to other universities in Toronto and Ottawa.

To apply to SIAP, call Charles Bybelezer, 514-486-5544 or e-mail him at charles@isranet.org. More information is also available on CIJR’s newly revamped website, www.isranet.org.


Isi Leibler
Jerusalem Post, September 27, 2011

Rosh Hashana is the season of Tshuva—of soul searching and reviewing events of the past year in order to improve our conduct and raise our moral standards for the coming one. Unfortunately, reviewing the “annus horribilis” of 5771 is a disconcerting and gloomy exercise.

We are probably more globally isolated than ever before.

The Iranian nuclear threat looms ominously; the Arab Spring, as many of us predicted, has been transformed into a vicious populist Islamic anti- Israeli hate fest; the UN continues beating up on us; we have been all but abandoned by the Europeans; global anti-Semitism is mushrooming; and despite formal expressions to the contrary, our relationship with the Obama administration was far from ideal.

Sounds grim, but without discounting the dangers arising from the deterioration in relations with Erdogan’s Turkey and post-Mubarak Egypt, little has really changed.

The mantras we chanted in the past about peace with our neighbors were always delusionary.

Even during the Oslo accords, while making unilateral concessions in pursuit of the “irreversible peace process,” terrorism and suicide bombings remained the order of the day, and global anti- Israel hostility was merely temporarily suspended. The threat of a nuclear attack on Israel is very real, but probably no greater than that of such an attack against any major Western city. The sad reality is that the entire world has become a daunting place.

On the positive side, we should note that the IDF is today more powerful than it has ever been before. It may have displayed flaws in the conflicts against terrorists in Lebanon and Gaza, but the Arab world is fully aware of the potentially devastating response Israel is capable of should it be confronted by a genuine existential threat.

In relation to the US, we seem to have forgotten that long before Obama, we faced formidable problems with former administrations—Republican no less than Democratic.

Indeed, our current standing with the American people has never been so good, despite having been abandoned by many liberals. This is crucially important, because notwithstanding its global decline under the Obama administration, the US remains the world’s greatest superpower and our principal ally. And Obama’s stunning pro-Israel speech at the UN General Assembly last week demonstrated that Netanyahu’s policies, combined with protests from Jews at a grassroots level and gentile friends of Israel, succeeded in at least temporarily reversing the anti-Israel tide.

We can also take satisfaction in the fact that by and large Netanyahu’s crisis management of foreign affairs, despite continuous media criticism that he was either too tough or too weak, proved to be responsible and above all, highly effective. In spite of ruling over a right-wing coalition he achieved a consensus throughout the country and succeeded in moving the government toward a centrist position.

Another positive factor is that our economy is extraordinarily robust. In stark contrast to the massive global economic upheavals, unemployment and falling ratings, our economy is thriving, unemployment stands at its lowest levels and our international credit ratings were even raised. Our hi-tech industries stand second only to the US.

But during such tumultuous times, there is a desperate need for greater unity. To achieve this, our dream is that the mainstream Zionist political parties set aside their trivial political differences and form a national unity government.… A unity government could…dispassionately and constructively focus on the socioeconomic concerns which have been raised throughout the country in public protests over the past months. It could devise long-term strategic plans rather than band-aid solutions, including long overdue reforms in the educational system, which desperately requires upgrading. The current appalling remuneration of teachers, doctors, nurses and public sector workers could be reviewed to reflect the critical role they contribute towards society.

On the eve of Rosh Hashana 5772, we are indeed isolated on the international scene and facing major challenges. But we must restrain our masochistic inclinations, dismiss the whiners and wailers and not succumb to the prophets of gloom and doom. We certainly share no desire to revisit the 1967 era prior to the Six Day War, when we enjoyed the “sympathy” of most of the world, which believed that we were about to be annihilated.…

Those born after the establishment of the State of Israel are the first generation of empowered Jews in 2,000 years. It is important for us to convey to younger Israelis the atmosphere which prevailed during the Holocaust prior to the existence of a Jewish state, when European Jews were desperately begging countries to open their gates to enable them to escape the Nazi extermination.

In the absence of a Jewish state, we would still be reliant on the goodwill of others.

Let us be grateful that we and our offspring are the most privileged generations of Jews to emerge since the dispersion 2,000 years ago and responsible for our own destiny. We must remind ourselves that this miraculous country with all its weaknesses and faults represents one of the greatest success stories of all time.

For this we should thank the Almighty, pray for unity, strengthen our Jewish heritage and look to the future with determination and pride in the knowledge that Am Yisrael Hai.


Ben Caspit
Jerusalem Post, October 3, 2011

Honorable Vice President of the United States of America, Mr. Joseph Biden:

Shalom and a happy Jewish New Year!

Up until several days ago, you, Mr. Biden, were considered “Israel’s closest and truest friend in the White House.” As such, we here in Israel are wondering what exactly was going through your mind when you declared that Jonathan Pollard would be given clemency over your “dead body.” It’s important to us, here in Israel, to understand. To all of us: to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s supporters and detractors, to the far right and the far left, to the rich and the poor, the Ashkenazi and the Sephardic.

Anyone with eyes in their head and hearts thumping in their chests would like to know what led you to issue that unhinged statement. Are there things that you know that the rest of the world does not? What has changed since 2007, when you declared, in your own voice, that Jonathan Pollard’s bid for clemency was justified? I’ll tell you what has changed: Pollard has spent five more years in prison, in solitary confinement; his health has worsened (I recommend you use your influence to verify to what extent); his chances of starting a family have been decimated; his father died and he was barred from accompanying him on his final journey; and more and more respectable people have stepped forward and declared that the time has come for his release.

That’s what has changed.

Is it possible, Mr. Biden, that you know something that James Woolsey, former director of the CIA, and Dennis DeConcini, former chairman of the US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, do not? Because the two of them are both in favor of releasing him. Do you know something that Henry Kissinger, George Shultz or John McCain does not? All of them, esteemed American patriots, are in favor of clemency. Do you know something that the former US attorney-general Michael Mukasey does not?

Are you holding on to intelligence that Lawrence Korb, assistant defense secretary under Casper Weinberger, was not privy to? Korb was there, in real time, but Korb, an honest and decent man, felt his conscience claw at him, and today he leads the call to free Pollard, who next month will mark his twenty-sixth year in American prison.

On Wednesday, you, Mr. Biden, will host a Rosh Hashana party at your residence for American Jewish leaders. You, as I said, are considered to be our closest friend among President Barack Obama’s inner circle. Now, as the race toward the presidential elections picks up pace, you have taken upon yourself to serve as the president’s ambassador to the Jewish community.

I suggest that during the festive celebration at your residence, you ask Abe Foxman, a man whose integrity cannot be called into question, or Malcolm Hoenlein, one of the most astute watchers of American politics and a man whose finger is always on the pulse of the American Jewish community, why they support Pollard’s urgent release.

Foremost, though, I ask that you examine your own conscience. Ask yourself, Mr. Biden, why Pollard has been in prison for 26 years for a crime that generally receives a two-to-four year sentence in America.

Ask yourself why spies who have committed far graver sins, betrayals that led to the killing of American agents on foreign soil, received far lesser sentences? Ask yourself why it is that the blood libel of attributing those murders to Pollard was circulated so widely. Ask yourself why, once those allegations were proven to be false, his sentence was not commuted.

Ask yourself why the United States of America, a society governed by law and order, did not honor its plea bargain with Pollard. Ask yourself where the limits of human suffering lie. Ask yourself about the nature of compassion.…

In America, Mr. Biden, you are regarded as the world’s preeminent superpower not only on account of your weapons and military might. You are the leaders of the free world also on account of your values: liberty, equality, human rights, justice and compassion. Where have those morals gone, Mr. Biden, when assessing Pollard’s case?…

Until now, Mr. Vice President, you have made a name for yourself as someone with a quick tongue and a short fuse. No responsible parties have charged you with being cruel, evil, or bloodthirsty. Henceforth, Mr. Biden, the notorious slips of your tongue are the least of your problems. The message you conveyed to those rabbis in Florida, that if it were up to you, Pollard would “stay in jail for life,” put you in a whole different league. A league that you don’t want to be playing in and one I don’t believe you belong in.

We Jews, Mr. Vice President, have begun the Ten Days of Repentance leading up to the Day of Atonement. If what was said in Florida was merely a slip of the tongue, this is the time, Mr. Biden, to take it back. We will forgive and we will forget. All of us make mistakes. It can happen to the vice president, too. But if you really stand by the statement that “over my dead body” will he be released, then it’s important to understand that the dead body is likely to be his. Jonathan Pollard’s release, after 26 years, is not a matter of politics, diplomacy or national security. It should not be linked to current events. We Israelis, along with many American Jews and other honorable Americans, believe that Jonathan Pollard’s release, in late 2011, is a matter of morality, justice and compassion. Those values are at the heart of President Obama’s beliefs; they are also the very lifeblood of the great American democracy and of humanity at large. And so, if justice is to be done, Joe Biden, help us make it happen now!


Barbara Kay
National Post, September 28, 2011

Every year a few weeks before Rosh Hashana, the celebration of the Jewish New Year, I have a freewheeling conversation with my longtime rabbi—and friend—about potential themes for his Rosh Hashana sermons. I tell him what’s Jewishly on my mind, he listens politely, then usually ends up sermonizing about something completely different. But it’s a nice 30-year or more tradition we both enjoy.

We are both of the Reconstructionist branch of Judaism—the youngest, smallest and most intellectually liberal of Judaism’s four denominations. Yet my rabbi is (thankfully) a sermonizing traditionalist. He mines the holiday’s designated sacred texts, as well as wide-ranging homilies and parables, for intelligent application to contemporary dilemmas. The content varies, but his hortatory objectives are constant: Encouragement toward personal ethical stock-taking and reinforcement of cultural identity by spiritual and other means. My rabbi always demonstrates true ahavat Yisrael: A love of Israel (though not always uncritical) and devotion to Jewish unity.

I rather like the fact that my rabbi is open to what I have to say, yet feels no qualms about rejecting it. He is his own man when it comes to communicating what he hopes will be his most inspirational words of the year. In this, and his refusal to politicize his pulpit, he seems to be unlike many other liberal rabbis today, for whom political solidarity with the left trumps specifically Jewish concerns. Many of them seem to see nothing wrong in taking High Holiday direction—or pastoral direction in general—from people with a political or ideological agenda that has nothing to do with, or even subverts, Judaism’s fundamental values of ahavat Israel and united peoplehood.

For example, in 2009, President Obama instituted his annual White House “Day for the Religious,” now in its third cycle. On that day, he uses conference calls with massed rabbis to download thematic guidelines for their High Holiday sermons. In 2009, he urged 1,000 rabbis to “tell the stories of health-care dilemmas to illustrate what is at stake.” At political stake for Obama, of course. Not for Jews—or not particularly for Jews. In 2010 and 2011, he pushed his plan for job creation and his prowess in Mideast peacemaking.

(Imagine, if you can, George W. Bush or Stephen Harper telling 1,000 rabbis, “I am going to need your help in accomplishing necessary reforms,” because “We are God’s partners in matters of life and death,” as Obama did. The media would quite rightly have tarred and feathered them for crossing church-state lines.)

It’s troubling that these rabbis don’t find Obama’s interventions inappropriate, or not enough to say so publicly. Surely, the annual opportunity to speak to a full congregation—no other holiday or Shabbat service competes with the crowds that turn up on the High Holiday’s three service days—should be inspiration to provide guidance in becoming better Jews, and therefore better human beings, not better Democrats. Still, while he had no business telling clerics what to say to their flock on a holy day, Obama was not proposing themes actually in conflict with Jewish values, a saving grace in the light of far more problematic partnerships certain liberal rabbis have embraced.

Take the Israel-bashing group, Jewish Voices for Peace (JVP). The Anti-Defamation League rates JVP amongst the top 10 anti-Israel groups in America (Naomi Klein sits on its advisory board, so you can imagine). Membership, according to its website, comprises both Zionists, anti-Zionists and “many non-Jewish Americans.” The intellectually corrupt and terror-laundering version of Mideast history outlined on their website is a tiresome brief for the demonization of Israel we are all too familiar with from the extreme left.

So, as a member of a Reconstructionist synagogue, I am embarrassed to note that of the 11 actually accredited rabbis on JVP’s Rabbinical Council (most of the 27 listed are self-anointed), eight—or 73%—were either trained or were ordained by the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College (RRC). Since Reconstructionist Jews account for only 3% of the American Jewish population, that is disconcerting.

JVP is by no means the only anti-Israel political group in which Jews and some liberal rabbis or rabbinical students are front and centre. One has to wonder what the motivation is for these young people entering the rabbinate. And one has to wonder as well why the leaders of liberal rabbinical colleges are not doing their due diligence in weeding out radically anti-Zionist students, or publicly distancing their institutions from them. For according to the mission statement of the RRC, ahavat Israel is a “core value” of the rabbinical training program. If shilling for JVP falls within the definition of ahavat Israel, I fear to know what hatred of Israel would look like. And if I were a rabbi, I’d sermonize on it.


Jonathan Kay
National Post, September 28, 2011

If you ever want to know what Canada’s foreign-policy consensus was back during the Liberal era, Paul Heinbecker is your man. Heinbecker served as Canada’s UN ambassador under Jean Chrétien. And since then, he’s made a career of telling his successors what they’re doing wrong—primarily in the pages of the Globe & Mail.

Heinbecker’s big message has been that Canada needs to engage with the world, and stop being so picky about who’s on the other side of the negotiating table: “Getting back in the game” (the title of his 2009 book) should be our foreign-policy goal, not supporting Israel or the United States, or advancing other “ideological” (his word) objectives.

In 2006, for instance, when Stephen Harper’s government properly sided with Israel after its soldiers had been attacked and kidnapped by the terrorist group Hezbollah, Heinbecker scolded the Conservatives for “staking out a one-sided position,” ignoring Israel’s “disproportionate response,” and thereby endangering our “reputation” on the world stage.

“Canada has a well-earned reputation precisely for being fair-minded and principled, because we have brought a constructive attitude to international problem-solving,” he argued. “That reputation is why Canadians (and not only Canadians) sew the Maple Leaf on their backpacks.”

The only solution, Heinbecker concluded was for Harper to “criticize intransigence on both sides”—Israel and Hezbollah alike. “Otherwise, [our] government’s decisions will be neither popular nor meritorious, just ideological.”

In 2009, when Canada voted down a UN Human Rights Council resolution singling out Israel, the Globe cited Heinbecker’s views as evidence that Canada had isolated itself “in a small club of key Israel allies, along with the U.S. and a few South Pacific nations.” Separately, Heinbecker also fretted about “the cumulative effect of change in Canadian policies, including Middle East votes, our climate change policy, and the policy of aid concentration, which lessens the connections with Canada of a large number of countries.”

And Heinbecker is not alone: The idea that Canada has somehow lost its global “reputation” was seized on by Michael Ignatieff when Canada’s UN Security Council bid was about to be defeated by a cynical EU seat grab. (“This is a government that for four years has basically ignored the United Nations and now is suddenly showing up saying, ‘Hey, put us on the council,’” the Liberal leader declared in September.) NDP foreign affairs critic Paul Dewar added that the defeat was “devastating for our country’s reputation. We’ve lost our credibility.” (True to form, Heinbecker himself blamed the defeat on our Middle East policies: “We followed policies that are frankly and strongly in support of the government of Israel.… There are 57 votes in the Arab and Islamic community.”)

You see the theme here, right? Canada, once a bastion of the multilaterally virtuous, now has become an international pariah because of a government driven by pro-American, Zionist, unilateralist, anti-UN “ideology.” Our reputation? It’s in the septic tank, out behind the Israeli embassy.

And so I’m kind of curious what Heinbecker et al think of a new global survey, conducted by a New York-based reputation-management firm, of international perceptions of Canada and 49 other countries. Our spot? #1.

“Canada has earned the highest reputation ranking in Reputation Institute’s 2011 Country RepTrakTM,” says the press release. “The study measures the overall Trust, Esteem, Admiration and Good Feelings the public holds towards these countries, as well as their perceptions across 16 different attributes, including a good quality of life, a safe place to live and a strong attention to their environment. Results from over 42,000 respondents worldwide showed that Canada scored well in all of these elements.… Canada was followed by Sweden, Australia, Switzerland and New Zealand, all showing stability in their high scores throughout the three years of this annual study. Their strong reputations are attributed to their steady democracies, high GDP per capita, focus on active lifestyles, well developed political systems and perceived neutrality to international political upheavals.”

Interestingly, Canada ranked only 4th on self-perception (behind New Zealand, Australia and Finland). Apparently, we don’t think of ourselves as being quite as great as others do. Maybe that’s because of politicians and pundits who assure us—wrongly, it turns out—that the principled foreign policy of Stephen Harper’s government is wrecking our international image.





Baruch Cohen


In memory of the beloved Malca, z’’l

We must not forget Jonathan Pollard, nor must we keep silent!

Pollard’s genuine and only concern was the security of Israel, the most faithful and closest ally of the U.S.

U.S. security was not altered by Pollard’s activity. In 1985, the year of Pollard’s arrest, the U.S. defense intelligence establishment was suffering a wave of humiliations, as far more dangerous spies were uncovered in the intelligence community. None of the information given by Pollard jeopardized U.S. interests.

The Pollard case represents a test case for American justice. The Obama administration has an opportunity now to restore pride in America’s tradition of fair and open-minded after 25 years of injustice. Jonathan Pollard has served more than his time and deserves to be released!

Jewry in the U.S., in Israel, and all over the world must not rest until Pollard—who spied for an American ally, after all, not for an American enemy, and has served 25 years for his deeds. Enough is enough!

Justice must be done.

President Obama, and now is the moment to show that America remains capable of doing and can overcome bias and revenge!

We must not keep quiet! Do not be silent!

Free Pollard—Today!

(Baruch Cohen is Research Chairman at the Canadian Institute for Jewish Research.)


Jay Solomon

Wall Street Journal, June 17, 2011


The Obama administration and European governments are stepping up efforts to revive Arab-Israeli peace talks, saying they have little time to head off a Palestinian drive to seek a United Nations vote on statehood.

The White House [last] week dispatched its top Middle East negotiators, Dennis Ross and David Hale, to the region to try to gain Israeli and Palestinian agreement to resume negotiations based on parameters President Barack Obama laid out last month [i.e. utilizing Israel’s borders before the 1967 Six-Day War as the baseline for new talks].…

In recent days, Mr. Obama has sought to build public support for his position on the peace process, which has been strongly criticized by both Republicans and Democrats. On June 10, the White House’s senior director for the Middle East, Steven Simon, told Jewish-American leaders that the international community had roughly a month to convince Mr. Abbas to give up his campaign at the U.N.… Mr. Simon said the Palestinians appeared “forthcoming” in responding to Mr. Obama’s calls for a resumption of negotiations based on the 1967 lines, but that Israel needed more convincing.

Mr. Netanyahu has called Israel’s borders before the Six-Day War “indefensible” and criticized Mr. Obama’s position as a backtracking from previous U.S. commitments.…


Dore Gold

Weekly Standard, June 20, 2011


When President Barak Obama first made his controversial reference to the 1967 lines as the basis for future Israeli-Palestinian negotiations on May 19, 2011, he introduced one main caveat that stuck out: the idea that there would be “mutually agreed swaps” of land between the two sides. He added that both sides were entitled to “secure and recognized borders.” But the inclusion of land swaps also raised many questions.

Several months after Israel captured the West Bank and Gaza in the 1967 Six Day War, the U.N. Security Council defined the territorial terms of a future peace settlement in Resolution 242, which over the decades became the cornerstone for all Arab-Israeli diplomacy. At the time, the Soviets had tried to brand Israel as the aggressor in the war and force on it a full withdrawal, but Resolution 242 made clear that Israel was not expected to withdraw from all the territories that came into its possession, meaning that Israel was not required to withdraw from 100 percent of the West Bank.

Given this background, Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin made clear in his last Knesset address in October 1995 that Israel would never withdraw to the 1967 lines. He stressed that Israel would have to retain control of the Jordan Valley, the great eastern, geographic barrier which provided for its security for decades since the Six Day War. He didn’t say a word about land swaps. For neither Resolution 242 nor any subsequent signed agreements with the Palestinians stipulated that Israel would have to pay for any West Bank land it would retain by handing over its own sovereign land in exchange.

So where did the idea of land swaps come from? During the mid-1990s there were multiple backchannel efforts to see if it was possible to reach a final agreement between Israel and the Palestinians. The Palestinians argued that when Israel signed a peace agreement with Egypt, it agreed to withdraw from 100 percent of the Sinai Peninsula. So they asked how could PLO chairman Yasser Arafat be given less than what Egyptian president Anwar Sadat received.

As a result, Israeli academics involved in these backchannel talks accepted the principle that the Palestinians would obtain 100 percent of the territory, just like the Egyptians, despite the language of Resolution 242, and they proposed giving Israeli land to the Palestinians as compensation for any West Bank land retained by Israel. This idea appeared in the 1995 Beilin-Abu Mazen paper, which was neither signed nor embraced by the Israeli or the Palestinian leaderships. Indeed, Abu Mazen (Mahmoud Abbas) subsequently denied in May 1999 that any agreement of this sort existed.

There is a huge difference between Egypt and the Palestinians. Egypt was the first Arab state to make peace, and in recognition of that fact, Prime Minister Menachem Begin gave Sadat all of Sinai. Moreover, the Israeli-Egyptian border had been a recognized international boundary since the time of the Ottoman Empire. The pre-1967 Israeli boundary with the West Bank was not a real international boundary; it was only an armistice line demarcating where Arab armies had been stopped when they invaded the nascent state of Israel in 1948.

In July 2000 at the Camp David Summit, the Clinton administration raised the land swap idea that had been proposed by Israeli academics, but neither Camp David nor the subsequent negotiating effort at Taba succeeded. Israel’s foreign minister at the time, Shlomo Ben-Ami, admitted in an interview in Haaretz on September 14, 2001: “I’m not sure that the whole idea of a land swap is feasible.” In short, when the idea was actually tested in high-stakes negotiations, the land swap idea proved to be far more difficult to implement as the basis for a final agreement.

After the collapse of the Camp David talks, President Clinton tried to summarize Israeli and Palestinian positions and put forward a U.S. proposal that still featured the land swap. But to his credit, Clinton also stipulated: “These are my ideas. If they are not accepted, they are off the table, they go with me when I leave office.” The Clinton team informed the incoming Bush administration about this point. Notably, land swaps were not part of the 2003 Roadmap for Peace or in the April 14, 2004 letter from President Bush to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.

It was Prime Minister Ehud Olmert who resurrected the land swap idea in 2008 as part of newly proposed Israeli concessions that went even further than Israel’s positions at Camp David and Taba. It came up in these years in other Israeli-Palestinian contacts, as well. But Mahmoud Abbas was only willing to talk about a land swap based on 1.9 percent of the territory, which related to the size of the areas of Jewish settlement, but which did not even touch on Israel’s security needs. So the land swap idea still proved to be unworkable.

Writing in Haaretz on May 29, 2011, Prof. Gideon Biger, from Tel Aviv University’s department of geography, warned that Israel cannot agree to a land swap greater than the equivalent of 2.5 percent of the territories since Israel does not have vast areas of empty land which can be transferred. Any land swap of greater size would involve areas of vital Israeli civilian and military infrastructure.

Furthermore, in the summaries of the past negotiations with Prime Minister Olmert, the Palestinians noted that they would be demanding land swaps of “comparable value”—meaning, they would not accept some remote sand dunes in exchange for high quality land near the center of Israel. In short, given the limitations on the quantity and quality of territory that Israel could conceivably offer, the land swap idea was emerging as impractical.

In Jerusalem, the old pre-1967 armistice line placed the Western Wall, the Mount of Olives, and the Old City as a whole on the Arab side of the border. From 1948 to 1967, Jews were denied access to their holy sites; some 55 synagogues and study halls were systematically destroyed, while the Old City was ethnically cleansed of all its Jewish residents. If land swaps have to be “mutually agreed” does that give the Palestinians a veto over Israeli claims beyond the 1967 line in the Old City, like the Western Wall?

The land swap question points to a deeper dilemma in U.S.-Israel relations. What is the standing of ideas from failed negotiations in the past that appear in the diplomatic record? President Obama told AIPAC on May 22 that the 1967 lines with land swaps “has long been the basis for discussions among the parties, including previous U.S. administrations.” Just because an idea was discussed in the past, does that make it part of the diplomatic agenda in the future, even if the idea was never part of any legally binding, signed agreements?

In October 1986, President Ronald Reagan met with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev in Reykjavik, Iceland, and made a radical proposal that both superpowers eliminate all of their ballistic missiles, in order to focus their energies on developing missile defenses alone. The idea didn’t work, Reagan’s proposal was not accepted, and the arms control negotiations took a totally different direction. But what if today Russian president Dmitry Medvedev asked President Obama to implement Reagan’s proposals? Would the U.S. have any obligation to diplomatic ideas that did not lead to a finalized treaty?

Fortunately, there are other points in President Obama’s recent remarks about Israeli-Palestinian negotiations that can take the parties away from the 1967 lines and assuage the Israeli side. At AIPAC, the president spoke about “the new demographic realities on the ground” which appears to take into account the large settlement blocs that Israel will eventually incorporate. Using the language of Resolution 242, Obama referred to “secure and recognized borders,” and added: “Israel must be able to defend itself—by itself—against any threat.”

However, for Israelis, mentioning the 1967 lines without these qualifications brings back memories of an Israel that was 8 miles wide, and a time when its vulnerability turned it into a repeated target of hegemonial powers of the Middle East, that made its destruction their principle cause. Sure, Israel won the Six Day War from the 1967 lines, but it had to resort to a preemptive strike as four armies converged on its borders. No Israeli would like to live with such a short fuse again. The alternative to the 1967 lines are defensible borders, which must emerge if a viable peace is to be reached.

(Dore Gold, a former Israeli ambassador to the United Nations,
is president of the
Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.)


Stewart Weiss

Jerusalem Magazine, June 17, 2011


To be a Jew is to have a long and accurate memory. While we hold that to forgive is a sacred obligation—a mitzva, even—it can be downright fatal to forget.

When Barack Obama was first running for president, a friend of mine called and urged me to support him, both in person and in print. Now, this friend knew that for some odd reason, I do not have that all-too-common American Jewish malady of automatically voting for every Democrat on the ticket, regardless of his policies or personality. He knew that I tended to side with the Republicans, whom I see as more sympathetic to my views on Israel’s security, the settlements and Jerusalem. But he tried to persuade me to change my vote with a potent argument.

“Do you see how isolated Israel is in the world today?” he argued. “Virtually no one takes our side anymore; not in the United Nations, the European Union, the world media or the universities. The name ‘Israel’ has become a pejorative curse-word across the globe. But Obama can change all of that. He has immense credibility in all the circles where Israel is defamed; he can promote Israel’s cause and change Israel’s negative image with his brilliant powers of persuasion. You can depend on him for that!”

I was almost convinced that Obama could be trusted to safeguard Israel. But today, almost three years later, when the Jewish state—by virtually all accounts—is infinitely more isolated and more maligned than ever before, I remember that conversation and realize just how foolish it would have been to place my faith in Obama. No, I cannot depend on the U.S. president, for he is a failed Messiah—at least as far as Israel is concerned.

Nor can I depend on any country in Europe, that other bastion of “enlightened” civilization. Not Germany, which swears it will safeguard us from another Holocaust, yet is one of Iran’s largest trading partners. And not England, which sold us out in 1948 and which, despite having a large and active Jewish community, is the seat of rabid anti-Israelism on the continent.…

The fact is, there are only two parties on which I can depend. One is God.… And the other is the Palestinians.

Yes, the Palestinians. Though they thoroughly, obsessively hate us—polls consistently show that a solid majority of Palestinians, at every level, want us violently thrown out of the region—they always come through and bail us out. Whenever we start to waver and seriously consider making far-ranging and dangerous concessions, whenever we wonder wistfully whether maybe just this once they really do want to make peace with us, they save us from disaster by showing their true colors. They hit us over the head with such blatant rejectionism that only the most gullible do-gooder would acknowledge them as serious partners.

When then-Prime Minister Ehud Barak was ready to make radical, dangerous concessions at Camp David in 2000, Arafat the intransigent saved us by refusing to take “yes” for an answer, shocking even Bill Clinton, who had hosted the PLO leader during his term of office more than any other foreign leader. And when, in 2008, the other Ehud, prime minister Olmert, unilaterally proposed sending Israel back to pre-’67 borders, it was the PA that got cold feet and backed away at the last moment.

And now, just at the moment when Obama has formulated his grandiose peace plan—based largely on still more Israeli concessions—the Palestinians shoot him down once more: by forging an unholy alliance with Hamas, partnering up with a Nazi-like ideology that makes crystal-clear its unending desire to wipe Israel off the face of the map; by the outrageous op-ed penned by Mahmoud Abbas in the New York Times—the “audacity of lies,” I call it—in which he attempts to rewrite the historical record in a fashion that would make even Paul Bunyan blush; and by utterly, completely rejecting [Binyamin] Netanyahu’s speech in Congress even before the applause had died down.

Is there any pie-in-the-sky, eternal optimist who would still enter into an agreement with liars and libelers such as these? Even Obama must have gnashed his teeth as the Palestinians screamed out loud and clear: No compromise, no conciliation, no concessions. “If only they could just keep their mouths shut and pretend to accept Israel,” he must have thought, “I could get the Israelis to buy into this fiasco.”

But, praise to God, the Palestinians rescued us once again. Like Pharaoh, who just couldn’t let our people go and so had that “sinking feeling” at the Red Sea, and like the Jordanians, who just couldn’t hold back from joining an already defeated Egyptian-Syrian axis in 1967 and so lost the Old City and the West Bank, the Palestinians simply cannot contain their deep-seated conviction that this land just ain’t big enough for the both of us. Thanks to you, Palestinians, for chasing away the illusions and letting us all see the truth.

(Mr. Weiss is director of the Jewish Outreach Center of Ra’anana.)


Seth Mandel

FrontPage, June 17, 2011


A year ago, veteran American Mideast negotiator Aaron David Miller wrote a much-talked about article for Foreign Policy (FP) magazine in which he disavowed any hope for the Arab-Israeli peace process. Called “The False Religion of Mideast Peace: And Why I’m No Longer a Believer,” the piece detailed his disillusionment with what began with the Clinton administration’s Mideast peacemaking, of which he was a participant, in the 1990s. The main casualty of the failure of the administration’s efforts throughout that decade, Miller had written, was hope. “And that has been the story line ever since: more process than peace.”

But that line, buried 3,000 words into the 5,000-word cover story, should have been featured more prominently. It’s the point. Because if there’s one thing that has been proven time and again in the course of Arab-Israeli negotiations, it’s that you cannot have both peace and the process; it’s one or the other.

Just in time for the first anniversary of the FP story, Miller has another one striking similar themes. The main difference this time is that Miller now exhorts President Obama to join him in hopelessness. Called “The Virtues of Folding,” Miller’s message is simple: give up—at least for now.

“Thirty months in, a self-styled transformative president with big ideas and ambitions as a peacemaker finds himself with no negotiations, no peace process, no relationship with an Israeli prime minister, no traction with Palestinians, and no strategy to achieve a breakthrough,” Miller writes.

To be sure, the process of which Miller was a part caused so much damage to the lives of Israeli Arabs and Jews that we should be perfectly content to let him retire without protest. But Miller has still—unbelievably—refused to learn the primary lesson from all his years of failure: the peace process was over before Miller ever got involved.

That doesn’t mean that neither side wants peace. Most Israelis have always wanted peace, and if the polls are accurate many Palestinians want peace as well. It’s the process that has always stood as the principal hindrance to peace. The process allows the Palestinian leadership to soak up foreign money. It allows the United Nations—via its Relief and Works Agency—to keep generations of Palestinian families mired in poverty by assigning them a nonsensical “refugee” status that encourages the Arab leaders of their country of residence—Syria, Lebanon, Jordan—to preserve their identities as second-class citizens. And it forces Israel to make tangible concessions in return for promises.

Contrary to popular mythology, the peace process didn’t begin with the Paris peace conference and the Oslo accords; that’s where it ended. Here is Yitzhak Rabin—the symbol of the peace process for many, especially on the left—speaking to the Knesset in 1992: “From this moment on, the concept of a ‘peace process’ is irrelevant. From now on we shall speak not of a ‘process’ but of making peace.”

This was echoed by Palestinian legislator and terrorist Leila Khaled (who once led a bungled attempt on Rabin’s life): “You know, it’s a process, but it’s not a peace process. It’s a political process where the balance of forces is for Israelis and not for us and they have all the cards to play with and the Palestinians have nothing to depend on, especially (when) the PLO is not united.… We are from the other side, against the whole process.”

Rabin’s quote perfectly encapsulated the Israeli position—we want real peace, not endless blathering, photo ops, and empty promises. And Khaled represented the Palestinian leadership’s preference for a process whose underlying goal was explicitly not peace.

Of course, the Palestinians got their way. Rabin couldn’t convince the rest of the world that the peace process had ended (not that he put in enough effort on that front). That makes the Palestinian threat to call for a vote at September’s UN General Assembly on Palestinian statehood so ironic. The vote is the Palestinian expression that they now believe the entire peace process has concluded—and any European country that votes for Palestinian statehood is expressing that same sentiment.

Every Western leader who has called for Israel to return to the negotiating table has done so using the same formulation: “Negotiations are the only way toward a comprehensive and lasting resolution to the conflict,” in the words of the joint statement from the G-8 countries. You either believe that or you don’t. A vote for Palestinian statehood at the UN is a public pronouncement that you don’t. In which case, I would expect that every country that votes for statehood understands they have forfeited their credibility on pressuring Israel to negotiate. The hectoring ends at Turtle Bay.

Those who support this ridiculous stunt at the UN are also acknowledging another aspect of the peace process: negotiations have always been a scam to pilfer what rightfully belongs to the Israelis. For example, through biblical history, modern history, 20th century history, and Israeli history, there is an unmatched Jewish national attachment and possession of Hebron. The Arabs of pre-state Israel massacred the town’s Jewish residents in 1929, and the world has been rewarding them for it ever since. Shechem is already under Arab control. The Palestinians have been negotiating with the purpose of establishing in the international community’s opinion some right to Jerusalem. They have succeeded in this with the Europeans, and Obama’s suggestion that the two sides start with the 1967 lines is the closest the Palestinians will likely ever get with the United States.

Therefore, the negotiating process has yielded all it can for the Palestinians, and the rest they will attempt to take—as they have indicated consistently throughout the years—by force. This is what is behind the UN statehood gambit. If this is the end of the peace process—again—it may be for real this time.