Tag: Second World War

JEWISH REFUGEES EXPELLED FROM ARAB LANDS HELP MAKE ISRAEL THE SUCCESS IT IS TODAY

The Middle East’s Most Overlooked Refugees: Liat Collins, Jerusalem Post, Nov. 29, 2018— As a teenager growing up in London in the 1970s I was completely swept up in the fight for Soviet Jewry…

Putting Jewish Refugees from Arab Countries on the Global Agenda: Ashley Perry, JNS, Nov. 20, 2018 — Do you know what we commemorate on Nov. 30?

American Jewry’s Hanukkah Hypocrisy?: Jonathan S. Tobin, Jewish Press, Dec. 6, 2018— The New York Times’s coverage of Jewish topics has long been fodder for those who study both media bias and the complicated relationship between the newspaper and the members of the tribe that are among its most loyal readers.

Pearl Harbor: Seventy-Seven Years Later: Frederick Krantz, CIJR, Dec. 7, 2018 — We are remembering today the beginning of World War II for the United States, with the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii on December 7, 1941, “A date which will live in infamy”, as FDR put it…

On Topic Links

‘Ethnic Cleansing’ of Jews in Arab Lands Must be Addressed: Israeli Diplomat: Janice Arnold, CJN, Dec. 3, 2018

Jews from Islamic Countries are Migrants of the Clash of Civilizations: Giulio Meotti, Arutz Sheva, Dec. 3, 2018

Why is the Story of the Jewish Refugees so Little Known?: Lyn Julius, Jerusalem Post, Nov. 24, 2018

10 Awesome Hanukkah Menorahs: Aaron S., Jerusalem Online, Dec. 5, 2018

 

THE MIDDLE EAST’S MOST OVERLOOKED REFUGEES   

Liat Collins                                    

Jerusalem Post, Nov. 29, 2018

As a teenager growing up in London in the 1970s I was completely swept up in the fight for Soviet Jewry, dedicating most Sunday afternoons to demonstrations outside the Soviet embassy and other sites to help promote the message “Let My People Go!” Much of the fight was personal, with campaigns focusing on certain figures who became well known as “refuseniks.” Decades later, seeing Natan Sharansky walking down a Jerusalem street on Shabbat still gives me a feeling of satisfaction.

The movements calling for the release of Soviet Jewry drew together Jews of different ages in different continents and in many ways served those of us in the Diaspora as a rallying point around which our Jewish identity gelled. It’s the sort of solidarity that is sadly lacking today, when Diaspora Jewish youth are as likely to be pitched against each other, in pro-Israel versus pro-Palestinian configurations, with the latter more interested in creating a Palestinian state than protecting the existing Jewish state, however they want to portray themselves.

At some point, I became aware of other distressed Jewish communities. While a broad spectrum of British Jews – like their co-religionists elsewhere – were fighting for Soviet Jews to be able to come out of the cold, few seemed aware that Jews in Damascus, Baghdad and other communities were literally dying to get out. It is sobering to recall that in those days, before the Islamic Revolution in 1979, Iranian Jews were completely free and many Israelis lived and worked in Iran.

Demonstrators for Soviet Jews held all sorts of publicity stunts; I remember a rally with pet dogs; a vigil in silence; and sitting down to block rush-hour traffic in London’s Piccadilly Circus. A few years ago I had the opportunity to show Sharansky some photos of me demonstrating on his behalf which he signed to my lasting pride “Thanks for marching for me. It worked. Am Yisrael Hai! [The People of Israel Live!]”

The work on behalf of Sephardi Jewry was much more low-key. I discovered a group called The Jews in Arab Lands Committee headed by the late Percy Gourgey MBE. Gourgey, born in India to an Iraqi-Jewish family, eagerly harnessed my youthful enthusiasm and together with a band of teenage friends I founded a student branch of the committee to help draw attention to the plight of our brethren and interest politicians and opinion makers in this little-known cause.

In many ways the fate of the remaining Jews in Arab lands was worse than that of Soviet Jewry. Drawing attention to a refusenik made the Soviet authorities realize there were international eyes following what they were doing and conditions might be improved as a result; drawing attention to a specific member of the Jewish community in Damascus was more likely to result in that person’s disappearance. Still, with a huge amount of dedication and daring, many of the Jewish community were ultimately able to escape to freedom. When a couple of years ago I met a man who had fled from Syria as a teen I felt the same sort of satisfaction as I had meeting Sharansky and Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein.

Today, I live in an area of Jerusalem’s Katamonim neighborhood fondly referred to as the “Kurdish enclave” thanks to the Kurdish and Iraqi Jews who compose the bulk of the local population. Further down the road there is a large pocket of Moroccan and Tunisian Jewish families, with more French-speakers moving in. Anyone who thinks that Israel is some kind of Woody Allen-style, Yiddish-dominated culture planted in the Middle East is in for a surprise on their first visit. The descendants of Jews from Arab lands now make up more than 50% of the Jewish Israeli population and when Israelis talk of “mixed marriages” they are usually (jokingly) referring to Ashkenazi-Sephardi ties.

There are plenty of Sephardi (and Yemenite) families who have lived in the Land of Israel for centuries, but the majority of Sephardim arrived after the creation of the state in 1948 – the non-Palestinian refugees who are largely overlooked. On November 29, the date that the UN in 1947 accepted the Partition Plan that would lead to the establishment of the State of Israel, the world body now cynically marks “International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.”

Symbolically, on November 30 Israel commemorates the expulsion of more than 800,000 Jews from Arab lands who came to Israel, started new lives in harsh conditions, and helped make the country the success it is today. Jews first settled in future Arab lands following the Babylonian conquest of the Kingdom of Judea, more than 2,500 years before Judea would be known as “The West Bank” – when its Jewish communities had more formidable enemies than pro-boycott advocates at Airbnb.

As Lyn Julius noted in an opinion piece in The Jerusalem Post this week, “More Jews (850,000) fled Arab countries than Palestinian refugees (approximately 711,000), and their exodus was one of the largest movements of non-Muslims from the region until the mass flight of Iraqi Christians… Mizrahi Jews, whose communities predate Islam by 1,000 years, have been written out of history.” In world opinion, the Palestinians alone are the victims. And the Palestinians spend more effort on perpetuating this status, with the very willing help of bodies like the UN, than in building a state of their own – a state the Arab world turned down in 1947, opting instead to try to wipe Israel off the map.

The Arab world also took revenge on the Jews living among them with devastating riots and anti-Jewish measures. According to Israeli Foreign Ministry statistics, since 1948: “In the North African region, 259,000 Jews fled from Morocco, 140,000 from Algeria, 100,000 from Tunisia, 75,000 from Egypt, and another 38,000 from Libya. In the Middle East, 135,000 Jews were exiled from Iraq, 55,000 from Yemen, 34,000 from Turkey, 20,000 from Lebanon and 18,000 from Syria. Iran forced out 25,000 Jews.” Today, only some 4,000 Jews remain in Arab countries. In other politically incorrect words, the Jews are the victims of ethnic cleansing…

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

Contents

   

PUTTING JEWISH REFUGEES FROM

ARAB COUNTRIES ON THE GLOBAL AGENDA   

Ashley Perry

JNS, Nov. 20, 2018

 

Do you know what we commemorate on Nov. 30? Sadly, for most Israelis and Jews around the world, it is just another day. However, according to a law passed in 2014 by Knesset member Dr. Shimon Ohayon (with the assistance of this author), this is now the date of the official day of commemoration for Jewish refugees from Arab countries. It should be an important day on the official global Jewish calendar because the Jews of the Middle East and North Africa are an essential part of Jewish history, even for those whose ancestors did not come from there.

One of the issues I was able and proud to raise during my time in government was of the ethnic cleansing of almost a million Jews from the Middle East and North Africa—communities massively predating Islam and the Arab conquest of the region in the seventh century, and the appropriation of their assets estimated in today’s prices to be many billions of dollars. Unfortunately, this history—the forced exodus of Jews who, along with their descendants, constitute the majority of Jews in Israel—is barely studied, mostly ignored and seemingly of little interest to the general population and even to Diaspora Jewry.

Apart from the great work of organizations like Jews Indigenous to the Middle East and North Africa, Justice for Jews from Arab Countries and Harif, I was amazed that the issue had only seldom been raised in any meaningful way around the world. Growing up in a thriving Jewish community, attending a Jewish school, and being involved in the Jewish community and Zionist organizations, I am astounded now, thinking back, how little was taught about the long and illustrious history of the Jewish communities of the Middle East and North Africa, and their subsequent expulsion. How many are taught about the Jewish communities of Algeria, Egypt, Syria and Yemen—to name but a few of many nations now completely without a Jewish presence?

While in government, we often raised this issue on the international stage and at the foreign ministry under the leadership of then-Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman and even initiated a now annual event at the United Nations solely devoted to the issue of the Jewish refugees from Arab countries with our partners in the World Jewish Congress and the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. However, the more we pressed the issue, which by international, U.S. and Israeli law must be part of any resolution to our conflict, the more I understood that Jews in Israel and abroad are not even aware of it…

It is rarely part of any high-level Jewish or pro-Israel conference, barely touched in any pedagogic or educational syllabi, or addressed by any mainstream Jewish or pro-Israel organizations. Before we ask the world to recognize and address their moral, legal and historic rights, we should inform ourselves about the history of the communities, as well as their cleansing and extinction during the 20th century. For many around the world, Jewish history and culture is largely defined by the Jews of Eastern and Central Europe. Still, the Jewish communities of the Middle East and North Africa bestowed great scholarship, cultural and economic successes on many occasions without parallel anywhere in the world.

It is an uphill battle and one our opponents do not want to become widely known because it flips on its head all standard notions about the conflict, including conquest, oppression and indigeneity. I know of an academic who tried to hold a purely historical conference on the history of the Jews of the Middle East and North Africa, and was turned away by dozens of American universities, even Jewish-studies departments, because the subject matter was considered “too controversial.”

Digest that for a moment: the 2,000- to 3,000-year history of Jewish communities—their achievements, their successes, their suffering. We should not allow the suffocation and extinction of these historic communities to be erased from the pages of history. We should share their stories and keep their memories alive, especially their destruction, which was largely ignored around the world. Please join us in making Nov. 30 not another day, but a vital date in our calendar where we are free to talk about history, rights, redress and justice.

Contents

   

AMERICAN JEWRY’S HANUKKAH HYPOCRISY?

Jonathan S. Tobin                                             

Jewish Press, Dec. 6, 2018

The New York Times’s coverage of Jewish topics has long been fodder for those who study both media bias and the complicated relationship between the newspaper and the members of the tribe that are among its most loyal readers. An article published the week before Hanukkah about the health risks associated with eating fried potatoes set off a debate as to whether the feature was a not-so-subtle dig at a holiday tradition. But whether you think the piece (which actually never mentioned Hanukkah or latkes) really was proof of anti-Semitism or just an unfortunate coincidence that should remind us that sometimes a fried potato is just a fried potato, the discussion was indicative of the suspicions that many Jews hold about the Times.

But there was little doubt that a Times op-ed published in its Sunday edition—the day the holiday began this year—would set alight the debate about its attitude to Jewish sensitivities. In the piece, novelist Michael David Lucas made a couple of accurate observations while attempting to pour cold water on Hanukkah celebrations, while also promoting a misunderstanding of both Jewish history and the struggle to preserve Jewish identity in our own day.

Lucas, who identifies as a “assimilated Jew,” was absolutely right about two things. One is that for many Jews, Hanukkah’s sole significance is as a counterweight to the dominance of Christmas in American popular culture. The other is that many of the otherwise non-observant Jews who embrace it—either on its own or as part of a “Chrismukkah” conflation of the two winter season holidays—know little or nothing about the history of the festival or what the conflict it discusses meant.

But he’s wrong to assert, even obliquely, that it is hypocritical for non-Orthodox or predominantly secular Jews to join in the Hanukkah fun. Lucas is right that Hanukkah is more important to American Jews than other more important religious observances. A survey published by the Jewish People and Policy Institute last week claimed that as many as 60 percent of American Jews light candles on Hanukkah, which is more than the 53 percent who fast on Yom Kippur or the 23 percent who light Shabbat candles, according to the 2013 Pew Survey on Jewish Americans. It’s also greater than the 32 percent of those identifying as Jews who have a Christmas tree.

He is also correct to point out that the main significance of Hanukkah to many Jews is that it is a Jewish answer to Santa Claus. That doesn’t just mean providing Jews with an excuse for taking part in the national obsession with December consumer spending. It also gives them a holiday for which they can demand equal time at public-school assemblies and municipal ceremonies in protest against the annual reminder that Jews are in the minority. For others, it is, merely as Lucas says of himself, an answer to the pleas of their children for Christmas…

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

Contents

   

PEARL HARBOR: SEVENTY-SEVEN YEARS LATER

Frederick Krantz                                               

CIJR, Dec. 7, 2018

 

“And some there be which have no memorial, who are perished as though they had never been.”

Ecclesiasticus 44:9

We are remembering today the beginning of World War II for the United States, with the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii on December 7, 1941, “A date which will live in infamy”, as FDR put it..  Followed by its final termination four years later in the Pacific, World War II was the most destructive conflagration in the history of the world, then and since.

While many people think it began in 1939, with Hitler’s invasion of Poland, it in fact began many years before, with Japan’s aggression in 1931 (Manchuria) and 1937 (China).  And while the fighting and bloodshed finally ended in 1945 (in Europe with the Allies on the Elbe, the fall of Berlin to the Red Army, and in the Pacific, in August, after the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and Tokyo’s final, formal surrender on the battleship USS Missouri in Tokyo Harbor, in September), the war’s consequences, with and after the Cold War, are with us still.

The titanic struggle between the Allies, led by Great Britain and the US after the defeat of France and (as is often forgotten), by China in Asia, and the Axis, led by Germany and Japan (with Mussolini’s fascist Italy a subordinate player) would cost humanity well over 60,000,000 military and civilian deaths. These included over 6   million Jews, exterminated by the German Nazis as an integral part of their racial plan to impose an “Aryan” 1,000-Year Reich on first Europe and then the world).

While all the figures given here are approximate, and some vary according to the source, across WWII civilian casualties far exceeded military. Of some 70 million combatants on all sides, about 17 million were killed. The Soviet Union suffered the most civilian deaths, more than 21.5 million; China ca.15 million; Germany 4 million, Japan 2 million; Poland, with the highest per capita death rate, over 6 million dead (50% Jews), equal to 15% of the population.

France lost 600,000, the United Kingdom 65,000, Italy 800,000. Belgium, Holland  Greece and Yugoslavia,; the Scandinavian countries; Finland, Romania, and Hungary (German allies); Bulgaria and Albania and others—all suffered grievous civilian (and in some cases military) casualties.  Ca. 8 million Soviets (including partisans) and 3 million Germans, died on the Eastern front. British armed forces lost 380,000 men, Commonwealth and Imperial allies over 100,000 [Canada, 37,000], the USA 300,000 servicemen.  And over 1 ½ million Jews fought in all the Allied armies.

And millions more people suffered as refugees, forced laborers, oppressed and exploited or sacrificing, populations, in population transfers, and so on.  The cost of the massive destruction of cities, roads, rail-lines, buildings, churches, industrial plants, harbors, bridges, dams, and of the millions of tons of shipping destroyed (true of China, Philippines and other Pacific theater countries as well) is estimated at over $1.5 trillion, probably a very low figure.

The numbers of dead, military and civilian, are staggering and unimaginable (and far outweighed, it should be noted, by those wounded, physically and emotionally). World War II, counting only from 1939 (and not from the beginnings of Japanese aggression in Asia in 1931) lasted 2,174 days; deaths averaged 23,000 lives a day, 15 people were killed [many brutally and senselessly murdered] a minute, for six long years. *  Each death was in its own way a tragedy—multiply each by 60 million to begin to get a sense of the unimaginable human cost of this catastrophe. Europe still has not recovered from the demographic ravages of 1939-1945.

Why did Hitler lose? There are of course many intersecting reasons—Churchill’s leadership and the resilience of Great Britain’s then Empire, with its Commonwealth reinforcements (including Canada); Roosevelt’s pre-December 7, 1941 Lend-Lease aid; Germany’s two-front war after June, 1941, radicalized after the Allied landings in No. Africa and then Italy after November, 1942 and in Normandy in June, 1944 (four of every five Germans who died in combat in WWII died on the Eastern front).

The lack of cooperation between Germany and Japan was a key factor; Allied victory by late 1943 in the Battle of the Atlantic (aided by the breaking of the Germans’ Enigma code), the key role of America’s immense industrial power and production (including large-scale transfers of war materièl to the Soviet Union), and the massive Allied strategic bombing campaign against Germany, were other elements. The flight of Jewish and German emigré nuclear physicists to Britain and the U.S.  precluded rapid German development if an atomic bomb, and the obstinate endurance, courage and sacrifice of millions of ordinary Russian soldiers and civilians (see Vasily Grossman’s great Stalingrad novel, Life and Fate), reinforced by superb (and plentiful) equipment like the T34 tank, Stormovik attack-fighter, and Katyusha rocket artillery, also played key roles.

But as Andrew Roberts concludes in his magisterial The Storm of War. A New History of the Second World War, while stressing Hitler’s misplaced confidence in his own will and military genius and the German racialists’ disinterest in rallying “inferior” conquered peoples, “The real reason why Hitler lost the Second World War was exactly the same one that caused him to unleash it in the first place: he was a Nazi.”*

And so the Age of Global War, which began in fire, smoke and terror in China, Poland and Pearl Harbor ended in triumph in Berlin and Tokyo Harbor four years later, with the dropping of the first atomic bombs and the beginning of the Cold War. Let us never forget the heroes, civilian and military, who, in their millions, made the ultimate sacrifice that we might be free.

*Andrew Roberts, Storm of War (New York, Harper Collins, 2011), pp.579; 608.

(Prof. Krantz is Director & President of the Canadian Institute for Jewish Research,

Editor of the Daily Isranet Briefing and the Israfax quarterly,

and a Professor of History at Liberal Arts College, Concordia University.)

 

CIJR Wishes All Our Friends & Supporters: Chag Sameach and Shabbat Shalom!

 

Contents

On Topic Links

‘Ethnic Cleansing’ of Jews in Arab Lands Must be Addressed: Israeli Diplomat: Janice Arnold, CJN, Dec. 3, 2018—Vivianne Schinasi-Silver calls herself “the last of the Mohicans,” the final generation to remember “the golden age” of the Jewish community of Egypt.

Jews from Islamic Countries are Migrants of the Clash of Civilizations: Giulio Meotti, Arutz Sheva, Dec. 3, 2018—Every year, on 30 November, Israel and the Jewish world remember the 850,000 Jews expelled from Arab-Islamic countries. Many of them live among us in Europe, in Rome as in Paris, in Milan as in Brussels.

Why is the Story of the Jewish Refugees so Little Known?: Lyn Julius, Jerusalem Post, Nov. 24, 2018—Seventy years ago, the newly-established State of Israel opened the floodgates to hundreds of thousands of Jewish refugees. Many were Holocaust survivors from the displaced persons camps or remnant communities of Eastern Europe, but the biggest contingent seeking refuge in Israel came from Arab and Muslim countries.

10 Awesome Hanukkah Menorahs: Aaron S., Jerusalem Online, Dec. 5, 2018

 

 

Frederick Krantz: PEARL HARBOR: SEVENTY-SEVEN YEARS LATER

 

And some there be which have no memorial,

who are perished as though they had never been.

Ecclesiasticus 44:9

 

We are remembering today the beginning of World War II for the United States, with the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii on December 7, 1941, “A date which will live in infamy”, as FDR put it..  Followed by its final termination four years later in the Pacific, World War II was the most destructive conflagration in the history of the world, then and since. 

While many people think it began in 1939, with Hitler’s invasion of Poland, it in fact began many years before, with Japan’s aggression in 1931 (Manchuria) and 1937 (China).  And while the fighting and bloodshed finally ended in 1945 (in Europe with the Allies on the Elbe, the fall of Berlin to the Red Army, and in the Pacific, in August, after the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and Tokyo’s final, formal surrender on the battleship USS Missouri in Tokyo Harbor, in September), the war’s consequences, with and after the Cold War, are with us still.

The titanic struggle between the Allies, led by Great Britain and the US after the defeat of France and (as is often forgotten), by China in Asia, and the Axis, led by Germany and Japan (with Mussolini’s fascist Italy a subordinate player) would cost humanity well over 60,000,000 military and civilian deaths. These included over 6   million Jews, exterminated by the German Nazis as an integral part of their racial plan to impose an “Aryan” 1,000-Year Reich on first Europe and then the world).

While all the figures given here are approximate, and some vary according to the source, across WWII civilian casualties far exceeded military. Of some 70 million combatants on all sides, about 17 million were killed. The Soviet Union suffered the most civilian deaths, more than 21.5 million; China ca.15 million; Germany 4 million, Japan 2 million; Poland, with the highest per capita death rate, over 6 million dead (50% Jews), equal to 15% of the population.   

France lost 600,000, the United Kingdom 65,000, Italy 800,000. Belgium, Holland  Greece and Yugoslavia,; the Scandinavian countries; Finland, Romania, and Hungary (German allies); Bulgaria and Albania and others—all suffered grievous civilian (and in some cases military) casualties. 

Ca. 8 million Soviets (including partisans) and 3 million Germans, died on the Eastern front. British armed forces lost 380,000 men, Commonwealth and Imperial allies over 100,000 [Canada, 37,000], the USA 300,000 servicemen.  And over 1 ½ million Jews fought in all the Allied armies.

And millions more people suffered as refugees, forced laborers, oppressed and exploited or sacrificing, populations, in population transfers, and so on.  The cost of the massive destruction of cities, roads, rail-lines, buildings, churches, industrial plants, harbors, bridges, dams, and of the millions of tons of shipping destroyed (true of China, Philippines and other Pacific theater countries as well) is estimated at over $1.5 trillion, probably a very low figure.

The numbers of dead, military and civilian, are staggering and unimaginable (and far outweighed, it should be noted, by those wounded, physically and emotionally). World War II, counting only from 1939 (and not from the beginnings of Japanese aggression in Asia in 1931) lasted 2,174 days; deaths averaged 23,000 lives a day, 15 people were killed [many brutally and senselessly murdered] a minute, for six long years. *  Each death was in its own way a tragedy—multiply each by 60 million to begin to get a sense of the unimaginable human cost of this catastrophe. Europe still has not recovered from the demographic ravages of 1939-1945.

Why did Hitler lose? There are of course many intersecting reasons—Churchill’s leadership and the resilience of Great Britain’s then Empire, with its Commonwealth reinforcements (including Canada); Roosevelt’s pre-December 7, 1941 Lend-Lease aid; Germany’s two-front war after June, 1941, radicalized after the Allied landings in No. Africa and then Italy after November, 1942 and in Normandy in June, 1944 (four of every five Germans who died in combat in WWII died on the Eastern front).

The lack of cooperation between Germany and Japan was a key factor; Allied victory by late 1943 in the Battle of the Atlantic (aided by the breaking of the Germans’ Enigma code), the key role of America’s immense industrial power and production (including large-scale transfers of war materièl to the Soviet Union), and the massive Allied strategic bombing campaign against Germany, were other elements. The flight of Jewish and German emigré nuclear physicists to Britain and the U.S.  precluded rapid German development if an atomic bomb, and the obstinate endurance, courage and sacrifice of millions of ordinary Russian soldiers and civilians (see Vasily Grossman’s great Stalingrad novel, Life and Fate), reinforced by superb (and plentiful) equipment like the T34 tank, Stormovik attack-fighter, and Katyusha rocket artillery, also played key roles.

But as Andrew Roberts concludes in his magisterial The Storm of War. A New History of the Second World War, while stressing Hitler’s misplaced confidence in his own will and military genius and the German racialists’ disinterest in rallying “inferior” conquered peoples, “The real reason why Hitler lost the Second World War was exactly the same one that caused him to unleash it in the first place: he was a Nazi.”*

And so the Age of Global War, which began in fire, smoke and terror in China, Poland and Pearl Harbor ended in triumph in Berlin and Tokyo Harbor four years later, with the dropping of the first atomic bombs and the beginning of the Cold War.

Let us never forget the heroes, civilian and military, who, in their millions, made the ultimate sacrifice that we might be free.  

*Andrew Roberts, Storm of War (New York, Harper Collins, 2011), pp.579; 608.

 

(Prof. Krantz is Director & President of the Canadian Institute for Jewish Research, Editor of the Daily Isranet Briefing and the Israfax quarterly, and a Professor of History at Liberal Arts College, Concordia University.)

 

ANNIVERSARIES OF WWI ARMISTICE AND KRISTALLNACHT ARE PROFOUND MOMENTS OF HISTORICAL REFLECTION

The Connection Between WWI Armistice and WWII Kristallnacht: Ben Cohen, JNS, Oct. 19, 2018— Two grimly sobering anniversaries fall in November.

This November 11th, Remember Canada’s Heroic 100 Days: J.L. Granatstein, National Post, Nov. 8, 2018 — Most Canadians know something of the battle of Vimy Ridge in April 1917.

A Kristallnacht Lesson: Mordecai Paldiel, Times of Israel, Nov. 8, 2018— As we commemorate the 80th anniversary of the carnage known historically as Kristallnacht, orchestrated by the Nazi regime, we are faced with another horrendous attack on innocent Jews, this time by a lone psychotic anti-Semite targeting Jews at prayer in a Pittsburgh synagogue.

What Americans Must Do After Pittsburgh to Thwart Antisemitism: Abraham Cooper and Yitzchok Adlerstein, Algemeiner, Nov. 6, 2018 — “Some people don’t like other people just because they’re Jews,” declared a main character in the 1947 Oscar-winning American classic, “A Gentleman’s Agreement.”

On Topic Links

The Courage and Folly of a War That Left Indelible Scars: Alan Cowell, New York Times, Nov. 9, 2018

80 Years After Nazi ‘Kristallnacht’ Pogrom, One Jewish Girl’s Holocaust Diary Sounds Warning Against Revival of Antisemitism: Ben Cohen, Algemeiner, Nov. 6, 2018

Why I Don’t Want an Apology for the St. Louis: Sally Zerker, CJN, Oct. 10, 2017

Trudeau Warns Against Modern Anti-Semitism in Apology for Turning Away Jewish Refugees Fleeing Nazis: Steven Chase, Globe & Mail, Nov. 7, 2018

 

                             THE CONNECTION BETWEEN WWI ARMISTICE

                                                 AND WWII KRISTALLNACHT                                                                                            Ben Cohen

                                                            JNS, Oct. 19, 2018

Two grimly sobering anniversaries fall in November. On the 9th and 10th, we will mark the 80th anniversary of Kristallnacht—the orgy of murder and violence that devastated Jewish communities across Nazi Germany in 1938. The following day, Nov. 11, we will mark the centennial of the armistice that ended World War I—the most devastating military conflict the world had so far experienced.

These two events, occurring exactly 20 years apart, were intimately connected. Some historians argue that the 20th century really began with World War I, which buried the geriatric Habsburg and Ottoman Empires, and set the stage for the modern totalitarian systems of communism and fascism—directly paving the way for the rise in Germany of National Socialism and its unprecedented war on the Jews.

In all senses one can think of, there was a dramatic transformation in the position of Europe’s Jews between the end of the “Great War,” as it was dubbed, and the Nazi Holocaust that consumed nearly two-thirds of their number. For one thing, the record of Jewish military service in the war rather gruesomely demonstrated that Jews were also loyal, grateful citizens of the countries in which they lived. Given that French-Jewish army officer Alfred Dreyfus had been convicted of treason in an anti-Semitic show trial only two decades earlier, that record was even more striking.

More than 50,000 Jews fought on the British and Commonwealth side, 100,000 with the Germans and 300,000 with Austria-Hungary—many thousands of whom lost their lives in the process. From outside Europe, more than 200,000 Jews were among the approximately 5 million American service personnel in 1917, when the United States joined the Allied side.

When it came to Jewish civilians, the toll in the eastern half of Europe was particularly brutal, with hundreds of thousands of Jews deported to the Russian interior or murdered in bloody pogroms. Those ravages led several thousand Jews to join the ranks of the Bolshevik Revolution and even serve in its senior posts, but by the mid-1920s, the ruling Communist Party was no longer a polyglot underground organization. It was, in dramatic contrast, a ruling bureaucracy undergoing a profound process of “Russification.”

The experience of World War I left some Jewish communities feeling more integrated and secure, while others were exposed as highly vulnerable, or even decimated out of existence. It also made realistic the proposal of a national home for the Jewish people, an end-goal the British government regarded “with favor” in its Balfour Declaration of 1917. On Nov. 11, 1918, then, the world’s Jews could spy the promise of redemption on all the political paths—liberal-assimilationist, revolutionary, Zionist—that were available to them. Hardly any of them believed that mass extermination was awaiting them within a generation. To have even suggested such a thing to one of the 7,000 Jews decorated by Germany for their war service would probably have been insulting.

But as the polarizing settlement that ended World War I finally crumbled with Hitler’s launching of World War II, the old libels against the Jews—that they were tribally disloyal, that they profited from war both economically and in terms of political influence—returned with a vengeance. The British writer George Orwell noted the reluctance of his own government to combat such slanders. “To publicize the exploits of Jewish soldiers, or even to admit the existence of a considerable Jewish army in the Middle East, rouses hostility in South Africa, the Arab countries and elsewhere,” he wrote during World War II. “It is easier to ignore the whole subject and allow the man in the street to go on thinking that Jews are exceptionally clever at dodging military service.”

But the British were far from alone in falling for the myth that Jews are at their most disloyal in times, like wartime, when everyone else is at their most loyal. That trope was among the many anti-Semitic fabrications of the Nazis, whose dehumanizing propaganda campaigns and notorious racial laws discriminating against Jews exploded in the violence of Kristallnacht. More than 100 Jews were murdered on the streets of Germany during those hours of fire and broken glass, while 30,000 more were deported to camps whose names—Buchenwald, Sachsenhausen, Dachau—are now indelibly associated with the Holocaust.

These are the basic facts that the forthcoming commemorations of these two events will reflect. For Jews, these are occasions for profound historical reflection, in a year that has already witnessed the seventieth anniversary of the State of Israel’s creation. Both anniversaries are occasions to ponder how the crooked road of Jewish emancipation, whose benefits these days still far outweigh the persistence of anti-Semitism, felt for those who came before us.                              Contents    

THIS NOVEMBER 11TH, REMEMBER CANADA’S HEROIC 100 DAYS                                                J.L. Granatstein

National Post, Nov. 8, 2018

Most Canadians know something of the battle of Vimy Ridge in April 1917. The victory there saw the Canadian Corps take a key enemy position, and the great Canadian memorial atop the ridge has been the scene of national commemorations and countless individual pilgrimages. Fewer Canadians know about Ypres in April 1915 when the raw soldiers of the Canadian Division fought through the first dreadful German gas attack. And even fewer know about the battle of Passchendaele in the autumn of 1917 when the Canadian Corps struggled through a morass of mud and suffered some 16,000 casualties to take a worthless rise of land in the flat Flanders fields.

But almost no Canadians know anything about the Hundred Days of 1918 when the Canadian Corps, led by Lt.-Gen. Sir Arthur Currie, fought the most significant battles in Canadian military history. From Aug. 8 to the signing of the Armistice on Nov. 11, the 100,000 men of the four Canadian infantry divisions defeated one-quarter of the German army on the Western Front in a great succession of terrible struggles.

Beginning at Amiens, France, the Canadians, Australians, British and French smashed through the German lines, gaining up to 14 kilometres on the first day. The Canadians, the “shock troops of the British Army,” as historian Shane Schreiber dubbed them, had been moved some 60 kilometres in secrecy to the Amiens front, each soldier ordered to “Keep Your Mouth Shut!” Then with tanks, artillery, aircraft and infantry working together in a near-perfect combined arms attack that featured both disinformation and surprise, the Canadians attacked. “Within 10 minutes of the start,” Gunner Bertie Cox remembered in an extraordinary account of the attack on Aug. 8, “the tanks, by the hundreds, and the cavalry, by the thousands, were passing our guns. It made an awful pretty picture to see the tanks and cavalry looming up in the mist, over the crest, just about dawn. The field guns began to pass at a gallop too, not to mention the infantry by the hundreds of thousands. By 5 a.m., the prisoners began to go by and this procession continued all day. … We spent a considerable part of the day checking them over, getting souvenirs. … They nearly cleaned us out of cigarettes and emptied our water bottles.” It was, declared another soldier, “the best executed and best picked out plan that was ever pulled off.” True enough. It was also what German strategist Gen. Erich Ludendorff called “the black day of the German Army in the war.”

Three weeks later at the end of August and the beginning of September, the Canadians, having moved north, fought their way through the Drocourt-Quéant Line near Arras, driving ahead through machine-gun bunkers and heavily defended strongpoints. The fighting was brutal and terribly costly to both sides, but the men of the Corps broke the enemy line.

Then at the end of September, Gen. Currie’s men fought their tactical masterpiece and crossed the Canal du Nord. Currie had sent two divisions across a dry portion of the canal, then fanning them out to roll up the enemy positions. The Corps’ engineers threw up bridges across the canal under fire, and tanks, guns and more infantry went across. The fighting over the next week was especially difficult for the weary Canadians. “Never have I felt so depressed as I felt after that battle,” young brigade commander J.A. Clark recalled. “It seemed impossible to break the morale and fighting spirit of the German troops. We felt that this Boche could not be beaten,” he continued, “certainly not in 1918. He fought magnificently and in a most determined fashion. He discouraged a great many soldiers in the Corps.” The enemy was broken but far from beaten, and the infantry battalions in Clark’s brigade had been shattered in the fighting in front of Cambrai.

Still, in what Gen. Currie called the Corps’ hardest fighting of the war, the Canadians pressed the Germans back to Cambrai, their major transportation and supply hub in northern France. On Oct. 9 and 10, they seized the city, dousing the fires the retreating enemy had set. There was one last set piece battle at Valenciennes, close to the French-Belgian border, where a single Canadian brigade attacked Mont Houy under the heaviest Canadian artillery barrage of the war and routed the German defenders. The pursuit then began, the enemy fleeing eastward, leaving behind only machine-gun teams to slow the chase. On Nov. 10, the Canadians were at Mons, Belgium, the symbolic town where the British Expeditionary Force had first faced the invading Germans in August 1914 and had been forced to retreat. The Canadians liberated Mons just as the Armistice brought the Great War to a close.

In truth, the Armistice was really a German surrender. There was no “stab in the back” as Adolf Hitler and others in Germany would proclaim. The German army had been defeated on the field of battle by the Allies, and the Canadian Corps had played a distinguished, costly role in the victory. The Hundred Days cost Canada some 15,000 dead and 30,000 wounded, almost one fifth of the 240,000 Canadian casualties suffered in four years of war. And yet, somehow no one in Canada today seems to know of the Hundred Days, its great and important victories all but forgotten…[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]                                                    Contents

   

A KRISTALLNACHT LESSON

Mordecai Paldiel

Times of Israel, Nov. 8, 2018

As we commemorate the 80th anniversary of the carnage known historically as Kristallnacht, orchestrated by the Nazi regime, we are faced with another horrendous attack on innocent Jews, this time by a lone psychotic anti-Semite targeting Jews at prayer in a Pittsburgh synagogue.

Let us reflect on the significance of this large, government-staged pogrom on November 9-10, 1938 targeting the Jewish population across Germany, including the annexed regions of Austria and the Czech Sudetenland. Jewish homes and businesses were vandalized, 270 synagogues destroyed, close to 100 persons killed, and 30,000 Jewish men carted off to concentration camps. In the context of the atrocities committed during the height of the Holocaust, these figures may be appalling, but, perhaps not shocking. Taking a step back, it is important to acknowledge that this did not take place with the backdrop of the Holocaust, but rather in the midst of civilized and still at peace Europe. If anyone, up to then, had doubts as to how far the Nazi regime would go to force all Jews out of the country by the use of acts of terror, the violent physical attacks of Kristallnacht left no one further in doubt about the intentions of Hitler and his henchmen. It also left no doubts about the anemic pushback from the international community.

Kristallnacht can be seen not just as a horrid day in history that foreshadowed the attitudes and events of the Holocaust, but also as a testing of limits to observe both if and how the international community would take action. Sadly, the response of the Western democratic nations to this flagrant challenge to the very foundations of humanity was not forthcoming. The Evian Conference, held July 1938 convening 32 nations, was unable to form a unified response to accommodate Jewish refugees fleeing persecution, and signaled to the Nazis that the world’s countries were sympathetic, but not prepared to open their own doors to Jews.

Months after Kristallnacht, several events only heightened this conviction in the mind of Hitler. In May 1939, the St. Louis boat with a cargo of more than 900 Jews confirmed for emigration to the United States was denied landing off the coast of Florida. The boat was forced to return its human cargo to the shores of Europe; many of these passengers were later engulfed in the Holocaust. That same year, following the Kindertransport example of England, Senator Robert F. Wagner of New York and Representative Edith Rogers of Massachusetts failed to have Congress approve a bill to allow 20,000 Jewish children from Germany access to the United States. Even with the assurance that the Jewish community would be solely responsible for bearing the cost of hosting and caring for the children, the US government refused to intervene. That same year, US Secretary of the Interior, Harold Ickes, proposed allowing Jewish refugees into Alaska to help develop the natural resources of that territory, adding that it would not impinge US immigration laws, since these laws would not apply to the non-State Alaska. It would be both a humanitarian gesture as well as a boost to the economy of Alaska. It was rejected by the President.

All these aforementioned steps of refusal to save even a limited number of Jews were signals interpreted by the Nazi regime that, in spite of words of protest, the nations of the world were not invested in the welfare of Jews. For the Nazis it meant only one thing: that they could escalate their anti-Jewish measures beyond the large-scale pogrom of Kristallnacht to mass murder as publicly proclaimed by Hitler in January 1939 that indeed began in June 1941 when Germany invaded Russia.

In the words of the 18th century British political philosopher Edmund Burke, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” It is not intention nor discussion that brings strong enough repudiation for evil, but action. Kristallnacht was not just the start of organized violence against Jews in Germany—in fact, with a different international reaction, it could have been the end of it. Instead, it was the hall pass for such violence and hatred. While it is easy to dismiss Kristallnacht as a different time, place, and political climate, we know all too well that anti-Semitism remains a dangerous force in our world and in our free nation. Let the anniversary of Kristallnacht be a reminder to the civilized world and younger generations to act against evil regimes who flout the elementary rules of civilized conduct before they cause untold damage, and hurt millions of innocent people.

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WHAT AMERICANS MUST DO AFTER PITTSBURGH

TO THWART ANTISEMITISM                                          

Abraham Cooper and Yitzchok Adlerstein

                                                Algemeiner, Nov. 6, 2018

“Some people don’t like other people just because they’re Jews,” declared a main character in the 1947 Oscar-winning American classic, “A Gentleman’s Agreement.” The crematoria at Auschwitz had not yet cooled down, but there were Americans who couldn’t abide the thought of Jews sharing their country clubs, neighborhoods, or college classrooms. Those were the challenges for American Jews back then, but today we no longer worry about “gentlemen.” After Pittsburgh, we’re on guard against the next lone wolf psychopath, armed with hate and bullets, empowered and validated by his invisible social media bigoted “friends.”

For us Jews it’s (still) the best of times — and, as we bury our dead in Pittsburgh, the worst of times. According to Pew, we are the single most admired religious group in America. On the other hand, the FBI confirms that we are the #1 target of religion-based hate in the United States. Simon Wiesenthal said that “hope lives when people remember.” Let us remember who is responsible for keeping antisemitism alive in our time, lest we be powerless to resist it.

The Pittsburgh gunman is responsible for his heinous deeds. Yet such extremism does not operate in a vacuum. Here are some points to ponder after the Pittsburgh massacre recedes from the headlines. We offer them as professionals who have struggled with antisemitism worldwide for decades. Social media outlets like Gab market hate. Hiding behind a freedom of speech mantra, they deny any moral responsibility for the platform they offer to the worst misusers of the privilege of that freedom, eerily similar to ISIS, whose online marketing campaigns spawn lone wolf terrorist attacks on both sides of the Atlantic.

Good people used to drive the haters underground. No longer. In major capitals — London, Paris, Brussels, Copenhagen, Stockholm — it is dangerous for Jews to wear the Star of David or a kippah in public. Police and politicians look the other way as (mainly) Islamist extremists bully and pummel Jews on the streets of Europe. Important institutions are rife with winking at antisemitism, or even worse. Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad calls Jews “hooked-nosed,” and boasts that he is “glad to be labelled antisemitic.” On a recent visit to the UK, Mohamad was welcomed to Imperial College and Oxford by the heads of these institutions. Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party is awash with Jew-hatred, but he could be the UK’s next leader.

An unholy alliance of terrorist groups like Hamas and Hezbollah, funded by Iran, uses antisemitism as a tool to turn the world against Israel. Their propaganda has found enthusiastic support in academia and even churches, so that today over 150 million Europeans believe Israelis treat Palestinians the way Nazis treated Jews. Young Americans hear much of the same on campuses dominated by progressives who detest power and “privilege,” especially of Israel and the United States. Anti-Zionism has flourished as a tool for gutless Jew haters: “We don’t hate Jews. Only Zionists.” Now, there is lots of room to criticize Israel without being antisemitic in the slightest. But when that criticism demonizes or subjects Israel to a double standard, the road to antisemitism has been crossed.

Syria, Iran, Nigeria, Myanmar, China — millions are dying, or living in exile, or incarcerated in internment camps for their religious beliefs, but the lion’s share of UN resolutions contemptuously pile on the Jewish state. The Jewish people’s historic links to their key religious sites have been denied. For close to two thousand years, the Church (followed by various churches) taught and encouraged antisemitism. That has changed for the better in some denominations, and in some areas. But old attitudes die hard. Rather than show special sensitivity to Jew-hatred, some churches still feed into it. The over-the-top hostility of some church groups to Israel is a case in point.

The Quakers, who risked their lives to save Jews during the Holocaust, are today no friends of Jews. Mennonites in South America actively aided Hitler in his campaign to demonstrate pure Aryan superiority. (Their contempt for Israel translates in the popular mind into a rejection of Jews and Judaism.) Many other church groups aid and abet the virulent Jew-hatred of Palestinian groups by standing by them as allies, without calling them out for the antisemitism constantly spewed in their mosques and textbooks.

And, of course, there is the right-wing antisemitism of the Pittsburgh murderer, encouraged and similar to what we saw in Charlottesville. Tragically, the Pittsburgh synagogue massacre is not — cannot — be a one-off, any more than 9/11 was, even if never repeated. It will change the way Jews live for the foreseeable future. Houses of worship, citadels of peace, will look more like TSA portals to airports. So things are bad and could get even worse. What can we do to try to stem the tide? Don’t underestimate the sheer volume of age-old Jew-hatred. It did not disappear after the Holocaust. It never disappeared from polite society…[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]

 

Contents

On Topic Links

The Courage and Folly of a War That Left Indelible Scars: Alan Cowell, New York Times, Nov. 9, 2018—During World War I, millions died, empires crumbled, nations were formed and maps were redrawn in ways that reverberate mightily a century later.

80 Years After Nazi ‘Kristallnacht’ Pogrom, One Jewish Girl’s Holocaust Diary Sounds Warning Against Revival of Antisemitism: Ben Cohen, Algemeiner, Nov. 6, 2018—For the global community of Holocaust scholars and educators, the 80th anniversary of the Nazi pogrom against Germany’s Jews commonly known as “Kristallnacht” — which falls this Friday and Saturday — could scarcely come at a more pertinent moment.

Why I Don’t Want an Apology for the St. Louis: Sally Zerker, CJN, Oct. 10, 2017—On Sept. 27, at the inauguration of the National Holocaust Monument in Ottawa, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau hinted that his government is considering apologizing for the 1939 MS St. Louis incident, when Canada turned away a boatload of Jews who were seeking asylum from Nazi persecution. To which I say: no, I don’t want an apology. And here’s why.

Trudeau Warns Against Modern Anti-Semitism in Apology for Turning Away Jewish Refugees Fleeing Nazis: Steven Chase, Globe & Mail, Nov. 7, 2018—Prime Minister Justin Trudeau formally apologized Wednesday for a shameful episode in Canada’s history, when this country turned away more than 900 German Jewish refugees fleeing Nazi terror and persecution.

 

NEVER FORGET: WEST’S FAILURE TO SAVE JEWS AFTER KRISTALLNACHT, & BRAVE CANADIANS WHO FOUGHT FOR FREEDOM AT PASSCHENDAELE

79th Anniversary of Kristallnacht: Efraim Zuroff, Jerusalem Post, Nov. 8, 2017— November 9 marks the 79th anniversary of Kristallnacht, “The Night of Broken Glass,”…

We Should Never Forget the Horror — and Heroics — of Passchendaele: Christopher Sweeney, National Post, Nov. 9, 2017 — The village of Passchendaele in Belgium is today as it was nearly 100 years ago, a small, relatively insignificant rural village east of the medieval city of Ypres.

Commemorating the ANZAC liberation of Beersheba: Isi Leibler, Jerusalem Post, Oct. 30, 2017— Today Australia is indisputably Israel’s best friend in the world – in every respect.

Communism Through Rose-Colored Glasses: Bret Stephens, New York Times, Oct. 27, 2017— “In the spring of 1932 desperate officials, anxious for their jobs and even their lives, aware that a new famine might be on its way, began to collect grain wherever and however they could.

 

On Topic Links

 

Woman Learns Grandfather was Notorious Nazi Criminal in 'Schindler's List': Christine Dunn, Jerusalem Post, Nov. 8, 2017

Night Falls: German Jews React to Hitler’s Rise to Power: Robert Rockaway, Tablet, Nov. 8, 2017

Kristallnacht: When America Failed the Jews: Mitchell Bard, Algemeiner, Nov. 9, 2017

The Roots of Revolution: Joshua Rubenstein, New York Times, Oct. 20, 2017

                                                           

 

 

79TH ANNIVERSARY OF KRISTALLNACHT                                                      

Efraim Zuroff

Jerusalem Post, Nov. 8, 2017

 

November 9 marks the 79th anniversary of Kristallnacht, “The Night of Broken Glass,” a major milestone in the persecution of Jews under the Third Reich and an unusually important event which took place in full public view, but whose significance was unfortunately not fully understood at the time.

 

The story ostensibly begins with the expulsion from Germany in late October 1938 of approximately 17,000 Polish Jews, whose Polish citizenship had been revoked by the Polish government. The Poles refused to allow them to enter and they were stranded on the German-Polish border under extremely difficult conditions. Among those expelled was the Grynszpan family from Hanover, whose son Herschel was living in Paris at the time. Incensed by the suffering of his parents and the others, he bought a gun, walked into the German Legation in Paris on November 7, and asked to see an embassy official. He was taken to the office of third secretary Ernst vom Rath, whom he shot and badly wounded. (Ironically, at that time vom Rath was under suspicion by the Gestapo for expressing anti-Nazi sympathies, largely based on the mistreatment of Jews in Germany.)

 

Two days later, on November 9, vom Rath died of his wounds. That date also marked the anniversary of the Nazis’ failed Beer Hall Putsch of 1923, and at the gathering in Munich to mark that event, propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels gave a fiery speech calling for spontaneous violence against the Jews. In his words, “[T]he Fuehrer has decided that… demonstrations should not be organized by the Party, but insofar as they erupt spontaneously, they are not to be hampered.” Thus vom Rath’s murder served as the excuse for the outbreak of massive “spontaneous” violence against Jews and Jewish institutions throughout the Third Reich, which at that time included Austria.

 

The results were horrific. One thousand six hundred Jews were murdered (the official report by Heydrich listed only 91), approximately 1,500 synagogues were destroyed, 30,000 Jewish men were arrested and sent to Dachau, Buchenwald and Sachsenhausen, more than 7,000 Jewish shops and department stores were vandalized or destroyed. In short, a horrific blow to German Jewry, who, adding insult and economic ruin to injury, were forced to pay a fine of one billion marks (about $400 million at 1938 rates) as a punishment. The Nazis obviously viewed Kristallnacht as an opportunity to seriously advance their goal of the elimination of Jews from German society, which at that time they sought to achieve via expulsion and emigration. The question is, what gave them the sense that there would be virtually no severe consequences for such a dramatic assault on Jewish life and property?

 

To answer that question it is important to note two critical events which took place during the four months prior to Kristallnacht. The first was the Evian Conference convened in France, from July 6 to July 15, 1938, by president Franklin D. Roosevelt, ostensibly to solve, or at least alleviate, the plight of the increased numbers of Jewish refugees seeking to flee persecution by Nazi Germany. It was attended by representatives of 32 countries and 24 voluntary organizations, but was doomed to failure even before it began, since the invitations assured the participating countries that none of them would be asked to change their existing immigration quotas, which were the key element limiting the immigration of German and Austrian Jews.

 

In addition, Britain and the United States made a deal that no mention of Palestine would be allowed on the agenda and in return, the British would not bring up the fact that the United States was not even filling its existing quotas, let alone increasing them. While many delegates expressed sympathy for the Jews living under Nazism, the only countries willing to admit large numbers of Jews were the Dominican Republic and later Costa Rica. On the other hand, the Australian delegate, trade and customs minister T.W. White, bluntly explained that as his country had “no real racial problem, we are not desirous of importing one.”

 

To understand the full impact of the failure of the Evian Conference, it must be emphasized that at this point the Nazis had still not decided to implement the Final Solution and were encouraging Jewish emigration from the Reich. In fact, Hitler responded to news of the conference by saying that if other nations would agree to admit the Jews living in the Reich, he would help them depart “even on luxury ships.” The second event was the Munich Agreement of September 29-30, 1938, in which England and France agreed to allow Germany to annex portions of the territory of Czechoslovakia inhabited by Germans (Sudetenland), which included most of the country’s border defenses, fortifications and heavy industrial districts, a decision which left the country practically defenseless…

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

 

Contents

WE SHOULD NEVER FORGET THE HORROR

— AND HEROICS — OF PASSCHENDAELE

Christopher Sweeney

National Post, Nov. 9, 2017

 

The village of Passchendaele in Belgium is today as it was nearly 100 years ago, a small, relatively insignificant rural village east of the medieval city of Ypres. Yet the name Passchendaele continues to send shivers down the spine of all who know or come to know of its horrors.

 

The battle was part of the broader Third Battle of Ypres fought between July 31 and Nov. 10, 1917, which resulted in nearly 400,000 British and Imperial (Australian, Canadian, Indian, New Zealand and South African) casualties. The battle featured all of the characteristics that have become synonymous with the First World War; mud, destruction, wasted human life, and negligible results. For these reasons, Canada was a reluctant participant in this battle but dutifully suffered over 16,000 casualties in a matter of just over two weeks (by today’s population, this would mean nearly 65,000 casualties). Between Oct. 26 and Nov. 10 of this year, Canada will be observing the 100th anniversary of the bloody Battle of Passchendaele, a battle which, shamefully, is now barely known by Canadians. We should know of it.

 

The Canadian Corps, having already experienced the horrors of the Ypres salient in 1915, had no interest in returning there from France, but it had no choice. The British and non-Canadian Imperial forces, which in August 1917 had boldly sought to secure important Belgian channel ports occupied by the Germans, had by October ground to a halt ridiculously short of their goal. The new goal was “simply” to capture the ridge on which Passchendaele was located so as to hold the higher, dryer ground for the oncoming winter. But they needed fresh troops to do so, and the only ones available were the Canadians who had been rebuilding themselves after the 1917 battles at Vimy and Hill 70. It was now unfortunately our turn to be thrust into the cauldron. Lt.-Gen. Arthur Currie, commander of the Canadian Corps, immediately saw the difficulties of this mission and gloomily predicted that Canada would suffer 16,000 casualties — he was almost dead-on in this assessment (if you excuse the pun).

 

The Canadians were sent to the low outlying area east of the village of Passchendaele with the mission to take the ridge … in waist-deep mud, a moonscape of water and corpse-filled shell craters, against heavily entrenched German defences on the rise. Through intricate planning, based carefully on learning from the failures of others, and massive artillery support, including attacks being precipitated by closely manned “creeping barrages” of shells (by this time, all cutting-edge hallmarks of Canadian fighting on the front), the Canadians succeeded in taking Passchendaele on Nov. 10, 1917. Like at Vimy and at Hill 70, the Canadians had succeeded where all others had failed. Patriotic pride in this accomplishment roared across the country, tempered only by the tragedy of the massive loss of lives.

 

The Canadians were soon relieved of their position and brought back to the rear to lick their wounds, and to rebuild their strength. The best that could be dubiously claimed of this “victory” was that the Germans had suffered more losses “per capita” (not even in raw numbers) than the British and Imperial troops in the Third Battle of Passchendaele. Such was the definition of victory in the First World War. However, barely five months later, the British were required to perform a strategic retreat from the area around Passchendaele, with heavy losses, to better consolidate their defences against Germany’s last threatening offensive of the war, launched in March of 1918. All of the fighting by Canada, and others, had been for naught — all of the land gained had been lost.

 

At the time the 100th anniversary of the battle of Vimy Ridge in April of this year, my brother and I re-traced the steps of my great-grandfather, Martin Sweeney, who was fighting with the Victoria Rifles of Montreal during the battle. We followed his route from the magnificently restored town of Ypres (destroyed during the war) out to Passchendaele and located the approximate spot where he, and five others, had been killed by a shell on Nov. 5, 1917, two days before the final assault on Passchendaele had begun. For the first time, we realized that our long-lost great-grandfather had been within easy eyesight of the ruined town of Passchendaele, over which almost one million men on both sides had been fighting for the previous three months, before he was killed. Surprisingly, this gave us some solace, for he would have known that the Canadians were near their goal and about to achieve victory (correspondence from this battle tells us the Canadians were now deeply confident of their own fighting ability).

 

Martin’s name is amongst the 6,928 Canadian names on the Menin Gate Memorial in Ypres (a must visit for anyone in that part of the world) dedicated to those who lost their lives in Belgium, and for whom there is no known grave. In viewing his name on the monument for the first time, years ago, with my late father, we knew, sadly, that we were the first of Martin’s ancestors to ever visit his memorial. I still wonder what he, as a 44-year-old man with three grown children, was doing at the Battle of Passchendaele.

 

On this 100th anniversary of the muddy, bloody Battle of Passchendaele, it is vitally important that we commemorate the sacrifices of those who came before us, for those who fought for Canada, and the timeless cause of freedom. For make no mistake, Canada at Passchendaele, like elsewhere during the First World War (and, for that matter, all our other wars), was fighting not for plunder or gain, or out of ignorance (as some modern interpreters would have us believe), but for the freedom of others. We declare at Remembrance ceremonies, almost by rote, that “we will remember them.” In this year marking the 100th anniversary of Vimy, Hill 70 and Passchendaele, it has never been more important to “remember them.”

                                                                       

 

Contents

COMMEMORATING THE ANZAC LIBERATION OF BEERSHEBA

Isi Leibler

Jerusalem Post, Oct. 30, 2017

 

Today Australia is indisputably Israel’s best friend in the world – in every respect. The origins of this relationship have their genesis a century ago with the spectacular victory of Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) that liberated Beersheba on October 31, 1917 and paved the way for the conquest of Jerusalem. This was followed two days later by the issuance of the Balfour Declaration, which preceded the British Mandate and subsequently served as the basis for the establishment of a Jewish state.

 

The Battle of Beersheba was a turning point in the war against the Ottoman Empire after successive failures to capture Gaza. It was the first time Australians and New Zealanders were highlighted as having effected a critical impact. The stunning charge of the ANZAC Light Horse Brigade that overcame the Turkish defenses was hailed as a milestone of military bravery comparable to that of the Light Brigade at Balaklava in 1854 and is remembered as the last great cavalry charge, establishing ANZAC as the best cavalry force in the world. It represented Australia’s first outstanding achievement as a fighting force, predating the 1918 Western Front victories.

 

With the disaster at Gallipoli in 1915-1916, where over 8,000 Australians needlessly lost their lives, many initially predicted that this attempt was doomed to failure and represented yet another example of military incompetence and willingness to cynically sacrifice soldiers. Beersheba was heavily fortified, making the town a virtual fortress, and the battle was considered a last-ditch effort to defeat the Ottoman Empire in the region.

 

Late in the afternoon of October 31, following an order by their commander, Sir Harry Chauvel, 800 Australian light horsemen, brandishing bayonets, galloped directly into machine-gun fire, many dismounting and engaging in hand-to-hand combat, surprising the Turks who did not imagine that the Australians would act so brazenly. Galloping over 2 kilometers at top speed, they overcame the stunned Turkish defenders in less than an hour. Thirty Australian horsemen were killed and 36 wounded. Over 500 Turks were killed and 1,500 surrendered.

 

It was a glorious victory, a turning point in the struggle enabling General Edmund Allenby to defeat the Ottomans in Palestine. It also heralded the beginning of an extraordinary close relationship between Australia and Israel. On the personal and individual level, it was enhanced by Australian soldiers temporarily stationed in Palestine at the outset of World War II who developed good relations with the Jews. Old timers still relate nostalgically to the friendship extended by the Australians as tensions were rising with the British mandatory officials.

 

This week the Australian and Israeli governments will jointly celebrate the centennial anniversary of the heroic Light Brigade’s extraordinary role in Beersheba. Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, New Zealand Governor-General Dame Patsy Reddy, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and a major entourage of ministers, officials, descendants of the ANZACs, and over 100 Australian horsemen, as well as private citizens from both countries will participate in commemorative ceremonies. These will include a joint Australian-New Zealand service at the war cemetery, the opening of an ANZAC museum, and a re-enactment of the charge by the Australian Light Horse Brigade.

 

It is anticipated that huge numbers will attend what promises to be a spectacular event highlighting the Australian-Israeli relationship. Australian Jewry enjoys an outstanding Jewish lifestyle and can be considered a jewel in the crown of the Diaspora. Jews were among the first boatloads of convicts transported to Australia in the 18th century. The first military commander of Australian forces serving during World War I was Sir John Monash, a proud Jew who was also the founding president of the Zionist Federation of Australia.

 

In the 1930s, the Jewish community was declining and rapidly assimilating but over the course of time it became reinvigorated by Holocaust refugees and survivors. Most of the newcomers were passionately Zionist and created a unique network of Jewish schools ranging from secular Zionist to Chabad, from Modern Orthodox to Reform and even a Bundist Yiddish school. From the 1980s, the community expanded further with the immigration of large numbers of Russians and South Africans…

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

 

Contents

COMMUNISM THROUGH ROSE-COLORED GLASSES

Bret Stephens

New York Times, Oct. 27, 2017

 

“In the spring of 1932 desperate officials, anxious for their jobs and even their lives, aware that a new famine might be on its way, began to collect grain wherever and however they could. Mass confiscations occurred all across the U.S.S.R. In Ukraine they took on an almost fanatical intensity.”

 

I am quoting a few lines from “Red Famine,” Anne Applebaum’s brilliant new history of the deliberate policy of mass starvation inflicted on Ukraine by Joseph Stalin in the early 1930s. An estimated five million or more people perished in just a few years. Walter Duranty, The Times’s correspondent in the Soviet Union, insisted the stories of famine were false. He won a Pulitzer Prize in 1932 for reportage the paper later called “completely misleading.” How many readers, I wonder, are familiar with this history of atrocity and denial, except in a vague way? How many know the name of Lazar Kaganovich, one of Stalin’s principal henchmen in the famine? What about other chapters large and small in the history of Communist horror, from the deportation of the Crimean Tatars to the depredations of Peru’s Shining Path to the Brezhnev-era psychiatric wards that were used to torture and imprison political dissidents?

 

Why is it that people who know all about the infamous prison on Robben Island in South Africa have never heard of the prison on Cuba’s Isle of Pines? Why is Marxism still taken seriously on college campuses and in the progressive press? Do the same people who rightly demand the removal of Confederate statues ever feel even a shiver of inner revulsion at hipsters in Lenin or Mao T-shirts? These aren’t original questions. But they’re worth asking because so many of today’s progressives remain in a permanent and dangerous state of semi-denial about the legacy of Communism a century after its birth in Russia. No, they are not true-believing Communists. No, they are not unaware of the toll of the Great Leap Forward or the Killing Fields. No, they are not plotting to undermine democracy.

 

But they will insist that there is an essential difference between Nazism and Communism — between race-hatred and class-hatred; Buchenwald and the gulag — that morally favors the latter. They will attempt to dissociate Communist theory from practice in an effort to acquit the former. They will balance acknowledgment of the repression and mass murder of Communism with references to its “real advances and achievements.” They will say that true communism has never been tried. They will write about Stalinist playwright Lillian Hellman in tones of sympathy and understanding they never extend to film director Elia Kazan.

 

Progressive intelligentsia “is moralist against one half of the world, but accords to the revolutionary movement an indulgence that is realist in the extreme,” the French scholar Raymond Aron wrote in “The Opium of the Intellectuals” in 1955. “How many intellectuals have come to the revolutionary party via the path of moral indignation, only to connive ultimately at terror and autocracy?” On Thursday, I noted that intellectuals have a long history of making fools of themselves with their political commitments, and that the phenomenon is fully bipartisan.

 

But the consequences of the left’s fellow-traveling and excuse-making are more dangerous. Venezuela is today in the throes of socialist dictatorship and humanitarian ruin, having been cheered along its predictable and unmerry course by the usual progressive suspects. One of those suspects, Jeremy Corbyn, may be Britain’s next prime minister, in part because a generation of Britons has come of age not knowing that the line running from “progressive social commitments” to catastrophic economic results is short and straight. Bernie Sanders captured the heart, if not yet the brain, of the Democratic Party last year by portraying “democratic socialism” as nothing more than an extension of New Deal liberalism. But the Vermont senator also insists that “the business model of Wall Street is fraud.” Efforts to criminalize capitalism and financial services also have predictable results.

 

It’s a bitter fact that the most astonishing strategic victory by the West in the last century turns out to be the one whose lessons we’ve never seriously bothered to teach, much less to learn. An ideology that at one point enslaved and immiserated roughly a third of the world collapsed without a fight and was exposed for all to see. Yet we still have trouble condemning it as we do equivalent evils. And we treat its sympathizers as romantics and idealists, rather than as the fools, fanatics or cynics they really were and are. Winston Churchill wrote that when the Germans allowed the leader of the Bolsheviks to travel from Switzerland to St. Petersburg in 1917, “they turned upon Russia the most grisly of all weapons. They transported Lenin in a sealed truck like a plague bacillus.” A century on, the bacillus isn’t eradicated, and our immunity to it is still in doubt.

 

CIJR Wishes All Our Friends & Supporters: Shabbat Shalom!

 

 

Contents

 

On Topic Links

 

Woman Learns Grandfather was Notorious Nazi Criminal in 'Schindler's List': Christine Dunn, Jerusalem Post, Nov. 8, 2017—Jennifer Teege did not learn about her family's dark secret until she was close to 40 years old. It happened in the central library in Hamburg, Germany, her hometown.

Night Falls: German Jews React to Hitler’s Rise to Power: Robert Rockaway, Tablet, Nov. 8, 2017 —When Adolf Hitler came to power in Germany on Jan. 30, 1933, he gained the authority to implement his racist ideology toward Germany’s Jews, who then numbered 535,000 out of a general population of 67 million.

Kristallnacht: When America Failed the Jews: Mitchell Bard, Algemeiner, Nov. 9, 2017—On November 11, 1938, a front-page story appeared in The New York Times. It read: “A wave of destruction, looting, and incendiarism unparalleled in Germany since the Thirty Years War and in Europe generally since the Bolshevist Revolution swept over Great Germany today as National Socialist cohorts took vengeance on Jewish shops, offices and synagogues for the murder by a young Polish Jew of Ernst vom Rath, third secretary of the German Embassy in Paris.”

The Roots of Revolution: Joshua Rubenstein, New York Times, Oct. 20, 2017—As we mark the 100th anniversary of Lenin’s triumph, Chamberlain’s book broadens our understanding of the roots of the Bolshevik Revolution, describing how German Idealism, which first emerged from Immanuel Kant’s reaction to the French Revolution, came to inspire philosophers and cultural figures throughout 19th-century Europe and Russia.

 

 

THE SYRIAN AND SPANISH CIVIL WARS— BOTH PRELUDES TO WIDER CONFLICTS?

 

 

 

 

 

To the already-crowded military field in Syria, with its various Sunni Muslim and Alawite-Shiite militias, Iranian, Lebanese Hezbollah, and Russian actors, as well as the U.S., British, and French-led allied air coalition, we now learn that both Saudi Arabia and Turkey may also soon be directly involved. This fraught and unstable internationalized battleground should recall Spain from 1936-39, which was in important respects the antechamber of World War II.

 

In 1936 Spanish pro-fascist monarchist forces under General Francisco Franco attacked the legitimate government of the Spanish Republic, setting off a civil war.  This war was soon internationalized, with fascist Italy and Nazi Germany supporting Franco’s nationalist forces, and Leon Blum’s “Popular Front” France initially providing some military aid (Britain remained “neutral”) to the Republic. Soviet Russia, pushing “Popular Front” politics, also /countered Nazi-fascist support for Franco with military equipment and advisers. As well, thousands of largely socialist and communist volunteers, organized into International Brigades, came to the aid of the Republic. 

 

The viciously partisan war, pitting Catholics against leftists, fascists and monarchists against liberal, socialist, and anarchist republicans, ended with the defeat of the Republican forces in March, 1939, as the Western democracies provided little help and Stalin’s Soviet Union, after failing to dominate the anarchist (POUM)-led Republic, withdrew its initial support. The long war entailed massive urban and rural destruction, with an estimated half-million deaths, and over 400,000 Republican refugees, military and civilian.

 

The Spanish Civil War should, mutatis mutandis, in some ways remind us of the increasingly complex and even more destructive and dangerous civil war in Syria, now almost five years old, with eight million internal and over four million external refugees and a death toll approaching 300,000.  In Syria, of course, the government was, and is, not a legitimate representative Republic, but a one-man, one-party dictatorship, while the initial Syrian rebels were not proto-fascist monarchists but relatively moderate Muslims,  demanding, in one of the last gasps of the failed regional Arab Spring, a truly representative government.

 

While the Assad-family dictatorship had traditionally been supported by the Soviet Union, a policy continued by its Russian successor, the direct intervention of Moscow would come only later. Initially, the West supported the rebels indirectly, with the American President, Obama, calling for Assad’s removal but providing no aid to his opponents.  As Assad moved militarily against his largely civilian opponents, new factors entered the equation: Shiite Iran and its Lebanese Hezbollah clients ramped up support for the Alawite Syrian ruler, while the anti-Assad Sunni Saudi Arabia and Gulf Arabs (and to some extent the Turks) supported the largely Sunni rebels.

 

Soon, however, as the conflict deepened, a new element entered the increasingly volatile mix.  An extreme Islamist force, IS, or Islamic State (or ISIL [Arabic “Daesh”]), breaking away from Al Qaeda, established itself, proclaiming a sharia-based Caliphate in both Iraq and Syria. Bloodily repressive, beheading and burning captives and raping and enslaving subordinate Yazidi and other women, IS quickly conquered part of northern Syria, around Raqqa, and a swath of Iraq around Ramadi, first threatening and then taking Iraqi-Kurdish Mosul, and threatening Baghdad.

 

As in the Spanish Civil War, an initially internal conflict was soon internationalized. In Spain, the conflict was deepened and broadened by Italian-German military support for the monarchist-conservative-Catholic Franco’s Falange movements, and indirect Western, and then direct Soviet Russian, support for the secular liberal-socialist-anarchist Republican forces.  In Syria, the initial moderate Muslim rebels were soon overshadowed by more radical anti-Assad Islamist forces, financed and supported by Sunni Saudi Arabia, while Bashar Assad received Iranian funding and arms, troops from Iran’s Lebanese client Hezbollah, and increasing Russian support. And the pro-Republican International Brigades in Spain were inversely mirrored in Syria by thousands of young pro-IS Islamist volunteers from around the world.

 

In Spain France gave only minor, indirect support to the Republic (the International Brigades, however heroically motivated, were of relatively modest military weight), and the Soviets, while providing arms and some military cadres, never went “all in”. Similarly, in Syria, where Obama kept the US (and NATO) out of direct involvement, moderates received Western moral, but little direct military, aid, and their weakness created a   pro-Sunni, anti-Assad power vacuum soon filled by IS.

 

(The rise of IS can, in fact, in large part be laid at Obama’s feet. Allergic to providing  “boots on the ground”, Obama—who had already fostered IS’s rise by prematurely withdrawing American forces from Iraq–reneged on a pledged “red line” after Assad’s use of chemical weapons was discovered. Lack of American resolve and leadership created the Syrian political vacuum into which IS expanded.)

 

As the crisis deepened, and IS expanded while Assad’s area of control steadily shrank, the interventions were radicalized. The U.S. in 2014, after the public outcry over IS’s savaging of the Yazidis in Iraq, championed a Western-Sunni Arab (Jordan) “Allied” air campaign against IS (but still no “boots on the ground”, save for the use of Kurdish forces in the north-east). Now Iranian support for Assad (before, during, and after its nuclear deal with Obama) was ramped up, and then Russia–with naval and air bases in north-west Syria–intervened directly by bringing ground-attack aircraft into play. (Putin’s air campaign, from his Syrian base near Latakia, while supposedly directed against the IS, in fact has concentrated largely on what Putin called “terrorists”, that is, the relatively moderate–and supposedly US-backed–Sunni anti-Assad coalition.)

 

Now, in February, 2015, Russia’s involvement has deepened (advanced S-400 missile anti-aircraft batteries are in place, heavy bombers from Russia are being used, and there is evidence of augmented Russian ground forces). Meanwhile the American-led air campaign still shows little sign of markedly impeding IS (and Canada under its new Prime Minister is withdrawing its six F-18 fighters). In a partial Obamian about-face, the U.S. Administration–under increasing domestic pressure, as the Presidential election campaign heats up–has announced the placing of an initially small (50!) contingent of American special forces troops on the ground and a ramping up of the aerial sorties. 

 

As the Saudis and Turks reportedly contemplate direct intervention, the two leading world-powers and their proxies are now directly facing off against one another in the downwardly-spiralling Syrian civil war. Despite hurried “deconfliction” talks to avoid accidental confrontations, incidents like Turkey’s recent downing of a Russian Su-24 fighter-bomber, and continued claimed border incursions by Russian aircraft, could easily spark a deeper crisis.  

 

In Spain, Nazi-fascist support trumped ineffectual Western, and manipulative Soviet, aid (see George Orwell, Homage to Catalonia, on the Soviets’ duplicity), resulting in a Francoist victory and the destruction of the Republic.  In Syria at this point, Russian-Iranian support for Assad (the equivalent of German-Italian aid to Franco) seems about to trump the moderate rebels who, weakly backed by the U.S. (like the Spanish Republicans by France), are losing.

 

Here IS, as a kind of relatively independent third party to the conflict, breaks the structural parallelisms. IS–playing off the Alawites and the moderate Sunnis against one another, and oddly (or not so oddly) not constituting the direct target of either the Russians or the Turks, or for that matter of Assad—is, despite some recent allied air force-backed Sunni and Kurdish advances, holding its own, or better (see its recent expansion into Libya and Afghanistan).

 

(Indeed, some analysts argue that Assad has in fact used IS against the moderate rebels, and is willing, at least in the short-to-medium run, to divide Syria with them to do so. It is also pointed out that Turkey’s Erdogan, focused on fighting the Kurds, not IS, has maintained porous Turkish-Syrian borders, allowing IS reinforcement and supply. And, further, that the mass emigration of millions of Sunni Syrians to Lebanese, Jordanian and Turkish refugee camps, and on to Germany and Sweden through southern Europe–  worsened recently by continuing Russian-supported bombings of civilians–is in fact a kind of ethnic cleansing strengthening Assad’s minority Alawite constituency.)

 

If the Spanish Civil War was a prelude to World War II, strengthening and encouraging the fascist-Nazi forces, demonstrating the weakness and appeasement of the democracies (and of Stalin)  and, not least, demonstrating the irrelevance of the League of Nations,  is the Syrian Civil War (also demonstrating the weakness of the West, and the impotence of the UN) the antechamber of a wider and deeper  conflict?

 

The book of the future is the hardest of tomes to read, but the obviously deeply unstable Syrian situation indeed has within itself elements of a wider conflict. Accidental confrontations—Russian and American aircraft encountering one another, a Russian-American naval crisis in the Mediterranean, an incident issuing from recently-emplaced Russian guided-missile batteries (which “cover” Israel as well as Syria and the Turkish border), the possible shooting down of an allied coalition (or as happened recently, a Russian) aircraft, a Russian cruise missile going astray, aand so on– could lead to serious consequences.

 

At the same time, more “structural” elements, radicalized by the ongoing conflict, may well come into play (Turkey, after all, which may soon enter the fray, is, like the U.S., the French, and the British [whose Parliament recently voted to join the bombing campaign in Syria],  a NATO member).

 

Syria today has become what Hobbes, reflecting on an earlier civil war, termed a bellum omnium contra omnes, a “war of all against all”.  The UN, despite the periodic protestations of Ban Ki Moon, is—like the League of Nations in 1936—irrelevant, and recent attempts to convoke an effective peace conference leading to a general truce and a political solution have again foundered (on sustained Russian bombing and “moderate” Muslim forces’ opposition to Russian demands that Assad stay in place in any ensuing “caretaker” regime).

 

Syria,, where the civil war is entering its sixth year, is the scene of increasing internationalized combat and socio-economic disintegration, reinforcing already massive population flows. America (still isolated by isolationism in 1936, and having once again largely withdrawn from the world under Obama) has, as IS continues to spread and the Russians and the Iranians step up their own involvement, been partially sucked back into the vortex despite the evident distaste of its President.

 

The Saudis and Gulf Arabs (already bogged down in Yemen by opposing the Iranian-backed Houthi revolt there) are nevertheless also deeply involved in Syria, supporting both elements of the moderate Sunni opposition and IS.  IS itself remains a destabilizing expansionist factor, with footholds in Libya and Afghanistan, connections to Boko Haram in Nigeria, terrorist killings of over 200 Russians in the Sharm El-Sheikh airplane bombing over the Sinai and 130 Frenchmen through multiple terrorist attacks in Paris, and scores of other dead in Beirut and in San Bernardino, Ca., where one of the Muslim killers of fourteen innocents had pledged her allegiance to IS by cellphone.

 

Russia-backed Iran, doubling down in Syria, is sending thousands of its own Iranian Revolutionary Guard units under IRG officers (over 400 killed in combat), to support Assad. Turkey, where conservative Sunni Islamist Erdogan was handed a reinforced nationalist majority in recent elections, is moving against the Kurds, inside and outside the Syria-Turkey border, despite the fact that they are the U.S.’s only effective “boots on the ground” ally in Syria.

 

Note that nothing to this point has been said of Jordan, or Egypt. King Abdullah, who has absorbed hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees, is under both IS and Moslem Brotherhood domestic pressure. And Egypt’s Gen. el-Sissi, in a domestically precarious position facing IS terrorism in the Sinai and continuing Moslem Brotherhood radical opposition domestically, also has a direct stake in the Syrian outcome.

 

Israel, too, which has studiously avoided getting directly involved to this point, save to prevent transhipment of advanced war materiel from Iran through Syria to Hezbollah in Lebanon, remains a potentially (major) wild card. With IS forces in the Egyptian Sinai, Iranian-led troops near the Golan Heights, Russian planes over the borders, Iran-backed Hamas terrorists in Gaza and Hezbollah Shiite fighters (with 100,000 rockets) on the southern Lebanon border, dangerous incidents are possible, and could easily escalate.  

 

The American abdication of regional leadership, despite the rising stakes of the Middle East game, has emboldened the deepening Russian and Iranian intervention; indeed, whether Obama is in fact collaborating de facto with Russia (and Iran) in Syria remains moot.  This would seem to indicate that the Syrian Civil War, like Spain’s, could, sooner or later, burst out of its domestic container. By 1939, Hitler, emboldened by Franco’s victory in Spain and Western weakness and appeasement at Munich, had forced the Anschluss with Austria, and then signed the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact with his erstwhile Bolshevik enemy.  The Nazi invasion of Poland, and the beginning of World War II, were only months away.

 

Could accidental confrontation, hubris-driven aggression, or a successful “victory” in Syria (e.g., a Western diplomatic “peace settlement” betraying the moderate Opposition, with Russia maintaining Assad in power and further emboldening the Iranian Mullahs and Putin–remember Crimea, and eastern Ukraine) spark a region-wide Middle East conflagration? Such an eventuality surely cannot be discounted. And could this, given the regional rivalries and NATO connections, spark a wider European war?  Given the current downward spiral, we could find out the answer, one way or another, in the not-so-distant future.

 

(Prof. Frederick Krantz is Director of the Canadian Institute for Jewish Research)

 

AN ANTI-ZIONIST ACADEMIC, WWII HEROES & SCANDALS, AND A REVIEW OF THE ALEPPO CODEX

Steven Salaita's 'Honorable' Anti-Semitism: Asaf Romirowsky, Middle East Forum, Nov. 14, 2015 — Steven Salaita, whose anti-Zionist/Semitic tweets and uncivil rants cost him a position at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC), used a recent appearance in Philadelphia to portray himself as a victim of the Zionist lobby.

105-Year-Old WWII Hero Honored at KKL Italy Event in Rome: Jerusalem Post, Dec. 13, 2015 — On November 29th, 2015, KKL Italy held a special event attended by 250 members of the Rome Jewish community, including community leader Emanuel Segre Amar.

‘HMT Dunera,’ the Scandal and the Salvation: Stephen Gabriel Rosenberg, Jerusalem Post, Dec. 12, 2015— On Hanukka in December 1940, the Australian public was finally told the whole awful story of the HMT Dunera, the British troopship (HMT stands for Hired Military Transport) in which several hundred enemy aliens, mainly German Jewish refugees, had been deported to their country from Great Britain.

The Aleppo Codex in Israel: Perry J. Greenbaum, Book Review, Dec. 7, 2015— The Aleppo Codex, known as the keter (כֶּתֶר) or crown in Hebrew, is considered by scholars to be as accurate a copy of the Hebrew Bible as there can be…

 

On Topic Links

 

The Oldest Video Footage of Jerusalem You Will Ever See: Israel Video Network, Dec. 12, 2015

Amazon Under Fire for Allowing Sale of Nazi Paraphernalia: Rosa Marchitelli, CBC, Dec. 14, 2015

AJC Critical of New Vatican Document on Catholic-Jewish Relations: Jewish Press, Dec. 10, 2015

Pope Francis, ‘Suffering Fuels Terror’? Look at the Jews: Gheula Canarutto Nemni, Times of Israel, Dec. 2, 2015  

 

 

 

STEVEN SALAITA'S 'HONORABLE' ANTI-SEMITISM                                                                  

Asaf Romirowsky

           Middle East Forum, Nov. 14, 2015

 

Steven Salaita, whose anti-Zionist/Semitic tweets and uncivil rants cost him a position at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC), used a recent appearance in Philadelphia to portray himself as a victim of the Zionist lobby. The lecture was co-sponsored by Jewish Voice for Peace, which the Anti-Defamation League calls "the largest and most influential Jewish anti-Zionist group" in the U.S.

 

An audience of about forty attended the rambling lecture at the Wooden Shoe, a dingy, dirty anarchist bookstore that sported pro-Boycott/Divestment/Sanction (BDS) and other far left propaganda, including a poster of the brutal Marxist killer Che Guevara. Salaita's claim to fame rests on UIUC's 2014 decision not to install him as a professor of Native American studies. He and UIUC announced a settlement on November 12 that awards him $600,000 and legal costs; he will not seek or accept employment at the university.

 

Despite his ostensible field of specialty, the bulk of Salaita's work consists of attacks on Israel, often under the guise of comparative history. It will surprise no one familiar with Salaita's ideas that his most cited work, The Holy Land in Transit, which offers a "comparative analysis" of Native Americans and Palestinians, portrays American colonists, ancient Hebrews, and modern Israelis as brutal colonial settlers who engaged in genocide.

 

Now ensconced as the Edward W. Said Chair of American Studies at the American University of Beirut (AUB) for the 2015/16 academic year, Salaita told his Philadelphia fans that he is someone "who just got fired" because academe is not really about "true" academic freedom. Were this not the case, he could not have fallen prey to the "Zionist lobby." He proceeded to mock and mispronounce the names of pro-Israel philanthropists Haim Saban and Sheldon Adelson. To great applause, he described as "kickassery" the efforts of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), Faculty for Palestine, and other pro-BDS groups who publicly defended him and lauded Jewish Voice for Peace for their PR work on his behalf.

 

Settling into what is clearly a well-worn routine, Salaita claimed that while he won't be the last victim of the lobby, because "the Zionists have lost the argument in the public sphere – it's done," he and his groupies can win the hearts and minds of the American public. He said that his case represented the point at which all oppressed groups could unite and proclaim, "F— this! We have been put down long enough and we are not going to be afraid to utter the words Palestine."

 

Moreover, he asserted that "academic Freedom never fulfilled its inherent promise" because it doesn't allow for individuals like himself to express their views. Institutions pressured by Zionists are criminalizing his views, which he claims—against all evidence—are "scholarly" and "objective."

 

The enthusiastic audience hung on every hackneyed cliché Salaita fed them, especially his repeated attacks against Zionists, whose actions he deemed so indefensible that they must resort to the purely defensive tactic of deflection. He added, mendaciously and mockingly, "You will never find a group of people who love China and Tibet more than the Zionists." He is obsessed with Jews, and his phraseology revolves around "Zionists" as connoting an anti-Semitic trope and not merely Israel, whose legality as a nation state he persistently downplays and questions.

 

Salaita's alleged martyrdom is the subject of his newest book, Uncivil Rites: Palestine and the Limits of Academic Freedom. Yet his repeated insistence that academic freedom does not apply to "pro-Palestinian" voices is simply absurd. Both overt hostility to Israel and anti-Semitism under the guise of anti-Zionism have for years dominated the field of Middle East studies, a fact illustrated by the standing ovation Salaita received at the 2014 annual conference of the Middle East Studies Association (MESA), which also voted to affirm the right of individuals and organizations—including MESA—to support BDS resolutions.

 

Salaita's meteoric rise as a left-wing cause célèbre rests precisely on his vitriolic views, grounded as they are in anti-Semitic conspiracy mongering rather than rigorous, objective scholarship. No one has a "right" to tenure, nor to freedom from the consequences of his behavior. When professors who substitute agitprop and rank propaganda for scholarship are seen for the charlatans they are rather than the principled victims they pretend to be, academe can start down the long road to reclaiming its integrity.

 

Asaf Romirowsky is a CIJR Academic Fellow

           

                                                                       

                                            Contents                       

 

                                           105-YEAR-OLD WWII HERO HONORED AT KKL ITALY EVENT IN ROME

Jerusalem Post, Dec. 13, 2015

 

On November 29th, 2015, KKL Italy held a special event attended by 250 members of the Rome Jewish community, including community leader Emanuel Segre Amar. The guest of honor was Georges Loinger, a French Jew who has attained the remarkable age of 105 and who kept his listeners riveted with the tale of his extraordinary life.  Georges Loinger's life history is bound up with the story of the establishment of the State of Israel.

 

Mr. Loinger was born in Strasbourg in 1910. During the Second World War he was captured by the Nazis, but managed to make his escape and return to France, where he joined the French Resistance movement. Working together with his cousin, the renowned pantomime artist Marcel Marceau, he saved around one thousand Jewish children from the Nazis.

 

After the war he was recruited by the Mossad for Aliya Bet operations (clandestine immigration into Mandatory Palestine in defiance of the British White Paper restricting Jewish immigration) and was involved in the operation of the Exodus. Later Ben Gurion appointed him to be the first director of Zim Shipping Lines in France, a position he retained until his retirement.

 

President of KKL-JNF Italy Rafi Sasson opened the event by welcoming Georges Loinger and the other guests, and drew their attention to the fact that this particular date (November 29th) had been chosen especially to mark the 68th anniversary of the UN resolution for the founding of a Jewish state.

 

Those present listened attentively to the fascinating and moving story that Georges Loinger had to tell. He also spoke of the current situation in Europe – and in France especially – and remarked optimistically that after everything he had seen throughout his long life, he was not unduly concerned by the latest wave of terrorism, as he was sure that this, too, would pass. When asked the secret of his perpetual youthfulness, he explained that he spends forty-five minutes every day performing special exercises that engage all his muscles. The event was attended by Gal Shaham, CEO of Zim Italy, who congratulated Georges and presented him with a gift on behalf of the company’s board of directors.

 

The day after this memorable event the staff of KKL Italy accompanied Georges Loinger on a visit to the Jewish school in Rome, together with his youngest son, Daniel Loinger, who is himself eighty-five years old. Georges spoke to fifty senior students at the school who were thrilled with this remarkable opportunity to hear him recount his experiences first hand. The youngsters posed a great many questions, to which Georges responded very patiently.

 

                                                                       

Contents

                                   

   

 

‘HMT DUNERA,’ THE SCANDAL AND THE SALVATION                                                    

Stephen Gabriel Rosenberg

           Jerusalem Post, Dec. 12, 2015

 

On Hanukka in December 1940, the Australian public was finally told the whole awful story of the HMT Dunera, the British troopship (HMT stands for Hired Military Transport) in which several hundred enemy aliens, mainly German Jewish refugees, had been deported to their country from Great Britain.

 

England in 1940 was in the grip of a great panic over the possibility of an invasion by Nazi Germany, whose troops were just across the English Channel, only 35 km. from Dover. In England, European and German foreigners were all seen by Britain as potential spies and agents provocateurs, who would join with the enemy if and when the Nazis invaded. As a result the British government ordered all adult German subjects to be rounded up and interned, even though the majority were German Jewish refugees who had recently escaped from Nazi Germany and who were implacable enemies of the Nazis.

 

The majority were sent to the Isle of Man, offshore from the mainland to the west of Liverpool, where they could do little harm, but heavy suspicion fell on those men of military age, from 18 to 65, who were seen as highly dangerous. They were sent further afield, all the way to Australia; in its nervous panic Great Britain thought them to be a real threat. It was thought that if they stayed in England they might form a fifth column if and when the Germans invaded. In its panic, the British government had even ordered the removal or obliteration of all direction signs and placenames that might have helped any German invaders.

 

Those deported to Australia had to be kept under surveillance for the journey, and the British navy was able to supply a suitable troopship, the HMS Dunera. It was a secure military vessel and had originally been designed and equipped for 1,600 troops, but now was to be filled with 2,542 refugees, besides the crew and the army warders, so everyone was cramped and hugely uncomfortable. Of the internees, over 70 percent were Jewish refugees who had managed to escape from the Nazis and had come to England via Holland and Belgium well before the outbreak of the war.

 

On board the ship, the internees were all very badly treated by their British army warders, who were under the command of Lieutenant John O’Neill, who did nothing to reduce the brutality of his men. They had all been led to consider the internees to be Nazi spies and, as the army warders searched them, they stole their watches and rings, any loose money, change and notes, as well as other valuables and precious items. They also searched and looted their personal luggage, and threw much of it overboard, to the consternation of the internees who were left with hardly anything except the dirty and skimpy clothes they were standing in.

 

Later, when the internees had been imprisoned in Australia, they were able to normalize their lives to some extent and they published a weekly magazine, which often contained their favorite song, one that they had sung regularly on board the ship, to a tune they had learned from their British warders: “My luggage went into the ocean, My luggage went into the sea, My luggage was thrown in the ocean, Oh, bring back my luggage to me!” When the internees arrived in Australia, the government kept their arrival secret and immediately sent them all off to a prison camp at Hay, a place in New South Wales. It was 750 km. west of Sydney in a treeless and arid grazing area that was both hot, rainless and above all, completely inhospitable. The internees suffered from the horrible climate and the abundance of stinging flies that had suddenly found new bodies to feed on. The internees had little or no opportunity to escape and anyway there was nothing nearby to escape to. Like the British, the Australians also considered the internees to be potential dangerous enemies.

 

They kept them imprisoned under harsh conditions, and at first kept their internment and location a secret from the public, for fear of causing alarm and panic. The internees gradually made a somewhat civilized life for themselves, organized talks, lectures and seminars; many were scholars and professors, and they applied from time to time to be allowed to emigrate to the United States and other more friendly countries. This was not unwelcome to the Australians, who were keen to reduce their numbers, and many internees eventually found their way to countries in South America, countries that were not unwilling to take them. Many who went were in the end able to apply from there for a visa to the US, the “Goldene Medina” that most of them saw as the true land of promise and the one to which they wished to emigrate.

 

The refugees retained unpleasant memories of their original deportation by troopship to Australia, on which they had been scandalously treated by the British army warders – but there was one positive and amazing thing to be thankful for, of which they only became aware much later.

 

The Dunera had been followed by a Nazi submarine, of which the crew were not aware. The U-boat was eager and ready to torpedo what it thought was a warship carrying many British soldiers. But the U-boat crew soon became aware of the considerable amount of debris that had been thrown off the boat by the warders, and picked up some of it to inspect it.

 

When they saw that it contained much in the way of German letters and literature, they concluded that the military boat was not carrying troops to Australia but rather German POWs, and the U-boat commander decided to spare the ship. Thus the boat, the lives of its crew, the warders and the internees were all saved thanks to the harsh and scandalous treatment that had been meted out to the internees by the British army warders.

                                                           

Contents

                                   

   

THE ALEPPO CODEX IN ISRAEL                                                                  

Perry J. Greenbaum

                                 Book Review, Dec. 7, 2015

 

Book Review: The Aleppo Codex, by Matti Friedman (Algonquin Books, 2013)

 

The Aleppo Codex, known as the keter (כֶּתֶר) or crown in Hebrew, is considered by scholars to be as accurate a copy of the Hebrew Bible as there can be, a bound book of approximately 500 pages that dates to the tenth century, and which was safely and securely housed in Aleppo, Syria, for six centuries before being transferred to Israel in late 1957. Tradition and modern scholarship says that Maimonides studied and used the codex in the 12th century to publish the Mishneh Torah (Hebrew: מִשְׁנֵה תּוֹרָה), a code of Jewish religious law. His praise of it forever established its reputation and made it more valuable and venerable.

 

It is housed in the Israel Museum (at the “Shrine of the Book”), in Jerusalem, but access to it is controlled by the Ben-Zvi Institute, founded by Israel’s second president, Yitzhak Ben-Zvi. He is an important figure in this story, as are a few others, including Asher Baghdadi, sexton of the great synagogue at Aleppo; Moshe Tawil, the chief rabbi of Aleppo who decided to send the codex to Israel; Murad Faham, the Aleppo cheese merchant who smuggled the codex to Israel; Shlomo Moussaieff, a jewelry tycoon and buyer of ancient artifacts and manuscripts; and Meir Benayahu, an aide to Ben-Zvi and the institute's first director.

 

Two months after its arrival in Israel, in February 1958, the codex was at the centre of legal proceedings, where the Aleppo Jews sued the government of Israel for the rights of ownership; the court was the Jerusalem Rabbinic Court. Matti Friedman writes: “The hearings were held before three rabbis, instead of judges, but otherwise followed the recognizable formula of a trial” (116). After a long trial, the Aleppo Jews had to concede defeat and there was, in 1962, “an out-of court settlement” (137). The trusteeship agreement, Friedman writes, “gave the community theoretical part ownership of the manuscript, while effectively ensuring that it would remain in the hands of the state and would never leave Ben-Zvi’s institute” (137-8).

 

With this agreement, the Aleppo Jews lost control of a book that they had held for centuries, but did so unwillingly. How and why this book was transferred to Israel has everything to do with events that happened shortly after November 29, 1947, when the United Nations made a historic vote. Friedman explains the story in a succinct paragraph in an article (“The Continuing Mysteries of the Aleppo Codex;” June 30, 2014) for Tablet:

 

    In 1947, in a riot that followed the United Nations vote on the partition of Palestine, the codex disappeared, surfacing 10 years later in mysterious circumstances in the new state of Israel. The codex is currently held in the Israel Museum, in the same building as the Dead Sea Scrolls. It is controlled not by the museum, however, but by a prestigious academic body, the Ben-Zvi Institute, founded by Israel’s second president, Yitzhak Ben-Zvi. Somewhere along the way in the mid-20th century, 200 priceless pages—around 40 percent of the total—went missing. These include the most important pages: the Torah, or Five Books of Moses.

 

These form the heart of the Torah, the Hebrew Bible. What remains of the original codex is what Friedman refers to as a “mutilated codex” (143). It begins with the impending death of Moses found in the Torah’s last book, Deuteronomy, and where Moses, forbidden by G-d to enter the land, gives a farewell address to the People of Israel, which includes both blessings and curses (chapter 28). The mutilated codex does not contain the blessings, but gives warnings of what will happen to the nation of Israel should it deviate from the right path (“derech”) of G-d’s commandments:

 

    It continues with a list of curses:

 

        Cursed shall be the issue of your womb and the produce of your soil, the calving of your herd and the lambing of your flock. Cursed shall be in your comings, and cursed shall you be in your goings.

 

        The Lord will let loose against your calamity, panic and frustration in all the enterprises you undertake, so that you shall soon be utterly wiped out because of your evildoing in forsaking me.

 

One can read into this as much (or as little) as one wishes, but it is hard to deny the power of the words and how these relate to what happened to the codex. That these words are now the first words of the mutilated codex says much, perhaps too much.

 

The Aleppo Codex is part a story of historical preservation and continuity, interwoven with the re-birthing of the state of Israel; it is also a moral lesson of greed and monetary remuneration and how the two can come together when something of great value is placed in front of you. It is also a fine detective story on what might have happened to the 200 missing pages. There are possible answers, evidence pointing in a particular direction (270-71), but nothing proven, nothing conclusive. Powerful and influential political and religious figures have built a wall of silence, thus preventing the facts from leaking out (266-70) .

 

Today, there are two versions of the event (“the missing 200 pages“): the first and official version (posted on the Israel Museum site) is that the 200 pages were burned during the Aleppo riots in 1947 and that the codex was delivered to the Israeli government incomplete; the second version, which the author suggests is the more likely story, is that the book was delivered intact, except for a few pages, and that the missing pages were in fact later sold to a dealer or to many dealers who seek to buy such ancient artifacts and manuscripts. The book is as much about the murky (and sometimes deadly) world of the buying and selling of ancient artifacts as it is about the ethical ideas of why the public ownership of such documents is sacred.

 

Faith and obsession, words that can be used to describe religious feelings, can also be used to describe non-religious feelings, or secular emotion, as well. These are human emotions, human values. To possess something rare, which no one else has, is something that some people not only feel is important and necessary, but is something that they receive some pleasure in doing. Even if in the doing it is not particularly ethical or, broadly speaking, not in the public interest. In such cases, it is not too far-fetched to talk about a breach of public trust.

 

Such thoughts or ideas do not seem to take much prominence—if at all—in the minds and consciousness of such individuals when such decisions are made. The Aleppo Codex contains an inscription, Friedman writes (9), saying:

 

    Blessed be he who preserves it

    and cursed be he who steals it

    and cursed be he who sells it

    and cursed be he who pawns it.

    It might not be sold and it may not be defiled forever,

 

Until recently, this admonition was taken seriously.

 

 

CIJR Wishes all our Friends & Supporters: Shabbat Shalom!

 

 

 

On Topic

 

The Oldest Video Footage of Jerusalem You Will Ever See: Israel Video Network, Dec. 12, 2015—This video is a segment of the full 70 minute documentary “Jewish Life in Palestine”, filmed by Noah Sokolovsky of the East Odessa Company in 1913 to be shown at the 11th Zionist Congress.

Amazon Under Fire for Allowing Sale of Nazi Paraphernalia: Rosa Marchitelli, CBC, Dec. 14, 2015 — Nazi flags, Hitler Youth knives, and running shoes with swastikas on them are just some of the items for sale on Amazon's U.S. and Canadian websites that have a long-time customer calling for a boycott of North America's largest online retailer.

AJC Critical of New Vatican Document on Catholic-Jewish Relations: Jewish Press, Dec. 10, 2015 —Rabbi David Rosen, AJC’s International Director of Interreligious Affairs, was disappointed at the Vatican’s failure to recognize the value of the Land of Israel to the Jews, even as it was attempting to heal very old wounds between the two religions.

Pope Francis, ‘Suffering Fuels Terror’? Look at the Jews: Gheula Canarutto Nemni, Times of Israel, Dec. 2, 2015 —Rabbi David Rosen, AJC’s International Director of Interreligious Affairs, was disappointed at the Vatican’s failure to recognize the value of the Land of Israel to the Jews, even as it was attempting to heal very old wounds between the two religions.

 

 

 

 

                   

 

 

 

                  

 

 

 

PARSING THE SYRIAN CONFLICT, DUBIOUS “PALESTINIAN” ALLIES, HONOURING EDMONDS’ COURAGE & RECREATING BIBLICAL WINE

The Syrian and Spanish Civil Wars— Both Preludes to Wider Conflicts?: Prof. Frederick Krantz, CIJR, Dec. 4, 2015: Jerusalem Post, Nov. 12, 2015 — In 1936 Spanish pro-fascist monarchist forces under General Francisco Franco attacked the legitimate government of the Spanish Republic, setting off a vicious and soon internationalized civil war.

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

Yad Vashem Honors American GI Who Told Nazis 'We Are all Jews': Sam Sokol, Jerusalem Post, Dec. 2, 2015 — An American non-commissioned officer who defied the Nazis while in captivity by refusing to identify Jewish POWs was posthumously honored with the title of Righteous Among the Nations by Yad Vashem on Wednesday.

Israel Aims to Recreate Wine That Jesus and King David Drank: Jodi Rudoren, New York Times, Nov. 29, 2015 — The new crisp, acidic and mineral white from a high-end Israeli winery was aged for eight months — or, depending on how you look at it, at least 1,800 years.

 

 

On Topic Links

 

Bibi Just Went Off On France and It Was Epic: Israel Video Network, Dec. 2, 2015

A Trunk Full of Britain’s WWII Secrets Saved the World: Maureen Callahan, New York Post, Sept. 27, 2015

Lessons From the Pollard Saga: Caroline Glick, Breaking Israel News, Dec. 2, 2015  

You’ll Never Guess What Elizabeth Taylor and Marilyn Monroe Have in Common: Barbara Hoffman, New York Post, Sept. 27, 2015

 

 

THE SYRIAN AND SPANISH CIVIL WARS— BOTH PRELUDES TO WIDER CONFLICTS?    

                                     Prof. Frederick Krantz,

                                     CIJR, Dec. 4, 2015

 

In 1936 Spanish pro-fascist monarchist forces under General Francisco Franco attacked the legitimate government of the Spanish Republic, setting off a vicious and soon internationalized civil war. Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany directly supported Franco’s nationalist forces, with air support, military equipment, advisers, and materiel; France provided some aid to the Republic while Britain maintained neutrality. Soviet Russia countered Fascist-Nazi support to Franco with military equipment and advisers, while thousands of largely socialist and communist foreign volunteers, organized into International Brigades, also came to the aid of the Republic.  

 

The viciously partisan war, pitting Catholics against secular Republicans, fascists and monarchists against liberal, socialist, and anarchist republicans, ended with the defeat of the Republican forces in March, 1939, as the Western democracies provided little real help, and the Soviets, fearing the Spanish anarchist-republicans (POUM), withdrew their support.  The war, entailing large-scale urban and rural destruction and dislocation (Guernica), produced the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people, and over 400,000 Republican refugees.

 

The Spanish Civil War should in some ways, mutatis mutandis, remind us of the increasingly complex and even more destructive, dangerous and internationalized civil war in Syria. Now almost five years old, with eight million internal and four million external refugees and a death toll approaching 300,000, the Syrian civil war shows no signs of soon ending. In Syria, of course, the government was, and is, not a legitimate representative Republic, but a one-man, one-party dictatorship, while the initial Syrian rebels were not proto-fascist monarchists but relatively moderate Muslims, demanding, in one of the last gasps of the failed regional Arab Spring, a truly representative government.

 

While the Assad dictatorship had traditionally been supported by the Soviet Union, a policy continued by its Russian successor, Moscow’s direct intervention has come only recently. Initially, the West supported the rebels indirectly, with the American President, Obama, calling for Assad’s removal but providing no aid to his opponents.  As Assad moved militarily against his largely civilian opponents, new factors entered the equation: Shiite Iran ramped up its support for the Alawite Syrian ruler, while the anti-Assad Sunni Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Arabs (and to some extent the Turks) supported the largely Sunni rebels.

 

Soon, however, the conflict deepened, with a new element entering the increasingly volatile mix.  An extremist Sunni Islamist force, IS, or Islamic State (or ISIL [Arabic “Daesh”]), breaking away from Al Qaeda, established itself and proclaimed a strict sharia-based Caliphate in both Iraq and Syria. A fundamentalist movement, bloodily repressive, beheading and burning captives and raping and enslaving subordinate Yazidi and other women, IS quickly conquered part of northern Syria, around Raqqa, which it proclaimed its capital, and a swath of north-eastern Iraq around Ramadi, threatening both Iraqi-Turkish Mosul and Baghdad.

 

As in the Spanish Civil War, an initially internal conflict was soon internationalized. In Spain, the conflict was deepened and broadened by direct Italian-German military support for monarchist-conservative Franco, and indirect and ineffective Western, and then direct Soviet Russian, support for the Republican forces. In Syria, the initial moderate Muslim rebels were soon overshadowed by more radical Islamist forces, financed and supported by Sunni Arab states (Saudi Arabia, the Gulf States), and dedicated to removing Assad,  while Assad received Iranian funding and arms, troops from Iran’s Lebanese client Hezbollah, and increasing Russian support.

 

In Spain France and Britain gave only minor, indirect support to the Republic (the International Brigades, however heroically motivated, being militarily of relatively modest weight), while the Soviets, providing arms and some military cadres, but always with an eye on the larger international scene, never went “all in”. Similarly, in Syria, where Obama, while proclaiming that Assad had to go, kept the US (and NATO) out of direct involvement. The moderates received moral support, but little direct military aid, with their weakness creating a kind of pro-Sunni vacuum soon filled by IS.

 

(The rise of IS can, in fact, in large part be laid at Obama’s feet. Allergic to providing “boots on the ground”, Obama reneged on a pledged “red line” after Assad’s use of chemical weapons was discovered. Lack of American resolve and leadership created the political vacuum into which IS expanded.)

 

As the crisis deepened, IS expanded and Assad’s area of control steadily shrank. The foreign interventions were now radicalized: the U.S. in 2014, after a series of IS massacres and the beheading of American captives, championed a rather desultory Western-Sunni Arab  air campaign against IS (but still no “boots on the ground”, save latterly for the use of Kurdish forces in the north-east).  Iran’s support for Assad (before, through and after its nuclear deal with Obama) ramped up, Hezbollah and Iranian Revolutionary Guard troops intervened directly, and, finally, as Assad’s regime seemed to totter, Russia intervened directly. (Putin mounted his own air campaign from his Syrian airbase near Latakia against the “terrorists” [supposedly including IS, but actually directed against the coalition of moderate anti-Assad Sunni forces].)

 

Now, in November, 2015, as Russia’s involvement deepens and the American-led air campaign still shows little sign of markedly impeding IS, the US, in an Obamian about-face, has announced the placing of an initially small contingent of American troops on the ground and a ramping up of the aerial sorties.  So suddenly the two leading world-powers are directly facing off against one another in the downwardly-spiralling Syrian civil war where, despite hurried “deconfliction” talks to avoid accidental confrontations, incidents sparking a deeper crisis—like the recent Turkish shooting down of a Russian bomber–remain quite possible…

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

 

(Prof. Frederick Krantz is Director of the Canadian Institute for Jewish Research)

 

                                                                       

Contents                      

 

LAST TANGO IN PARIS

                                Amotz Asa-El                                 

                                Jerusalem Post, Nov. 21, 2015

 

By the time he arrived for his fifth wedding in 1975, Ugandan dictator Idi Amin had murdered tens of thousands of his citizens, including scores of generals, politicians and judges, besides expelling more than 50,000 Asians and thus leading his economy to ruin. The wedding, part of a flamboyant, unpredictable and ruthless strongman’s eight eventful years in power, has long been forgotten and would not be relevant now but for Amin’s choice for best man, who gladly accepted the dubious role: Yasser Arafat.

 

The friendship with the East African butcher was but a link in a chain of catastrophic choices of allies that animated the Palestinians’ failure to achieve their goals. Now, what began in the 1930s and continued to the Cold War and its aftermath is approaching a new height, as the Palestinian leadership flirts with the Islamist scourge just when it becomes global enemy No. 1.

 

The poor choice of allies began when Haj Amin al-Husseini threw in his lot with Nazi Germany. His mistake had three tiers: the moral, the public and the political. Morally, Husseini questioned none of the racist tenets and totalitarian plans for which the Nazis were notorious from their movement’s inception; on the public sphere, he failed to consider the repercussions of siding with a cause that was repulsive to millions, including some of the world’s richest and strongest countries; and politically, he failed to predict his ally’s defeat.

 

The results of this choice were horrendous, not only because many throughout the victorious West now associated the Palestinian cause with its disgraced ally’s record, and not only because this alliance contributed to the Soviet decision to back Israel’s establishment, but because it left the Palestinians identified with defeat. Even so, Husseini’s successors, as if eager to demonstrate they had forgotten nothing and learned nothing, soon repeated his mistake by spending the Cold War on the wrong side of the future.

 

Palestinian fighters trained in East German camps, Palestinian diplomats plotted anti-Israeli motions with their Soviet peers, and Palestinian students were indoctrinated in Moscow by Soviet propagandists. Like the Palestinians’ previous strategic alliance, this one also unfolded on the moral, public and political plains, and it, too, ended in calamity.

 

Morally, Palestinian leaders remained silent when their allies mowed down thousands of freedom fighters in Budapest, crushed the Prague Spring, and let dissidents on the scale of Andrei Sakharov, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, and Vaclav Havel rot in jail. Publicly, this Palestinian choice made its leaders lose the respect of the popular luminaries who were fighting tyranny. And politically, when the Berlin Wall fell and the Eastern Bloc vanished, the Palestinians understood they had been in bed with the Cold War’s losers.

 

The Cold War had hardly ended when the syndrome repeated itself following Iraq’s conquest of Kuwait. Faced with an alliance of 33 countries including NATO, Egypt, Syria, Saudi Arabia, and three armies from the former Eastern Bloc, Yasser Arafat failed to understand where history was headed and threw in his lot with Saddam Hussein.

 

Again, the strategic fiasco unfolded on its three familiar plains: Morally, the Palestinians identified with a bully who, unprovoked, invaded a small and defenseless neighbor, after having previously gassed thousands of his own citizens. Publicly, the Palestinians were now seen by millions of Arabs as adversaries out to split the Arab world. And politically, the Palestinians ended up, again, on the loser’s side, a position that left them so splendidly isolated that it took the Oslo Accords to restore their international legitimacy.

 

It was against this backdrop that the Palestinians, having flirted along the decades with German fascism, Soviet imperialism, African totalitarianism, and Saddam’s chauvinism, were this fall called to shape a strategy vis-à-vis Islamism. Considering recent weeks’ events, the current Palestinian leadership seems set to follow in its predecessors’ footsteps.

 

This week’s drama in Paris and the downing of a Russian civilian flight above Sinai last month have sealed Islamism’s status as the rest of the world’s common enemy. No single idea has been in this position since Nazism. Communism, by contrast, had a democratic version. There were legitimate and strong Communist parties in France and Italy that were critical of Soviet oppression, upheld freedom, and sincerely preached humanism. There is no Islamist equivalent of this, because Islamism is by definition about its violent imposition on the rest of the world through an apocalypse whose horsemen are now evidently deployed, equipped and eager to act.

 

There was a time when this quest seemed to many governments as an exoticism at best, an irritant at worst. Not anymore. Last weekend’s bloodshed and the subsequent succession of bomb scares, rerouted flights and canceled sports events have finally convinced civilization that it has an enemy, and that the enemy will settle for nothing less than all-out war.

 

Islamism has overplayed its hand. The sense of insecurity, grief and wrath that has befallen Paris after its trademark glee and light were disrupted by gunfire and commando raids has traveled far and wide. From Paris, London and Washington to Canberra, Beijing, and Moscow, Islamism’s preachers and followers now loom as the most immediate, potent and ubiquitous threat to world peace. This does not necessarily mean that the war on Islamism will be swift, cheap or efficient, or that its allies will join it simultaneously and in similar force.

 

Like the alliance that defeated fascism, the anti-Islamist alliance will likely take more bloodshed before it is fully assembled and unleashed. Even so, as French President Francois Hollande prepares to visit the White House and the Kremlin in order to coordinate anti-Islamist action, it is clear that Islamism’s enmity, and the need to eradicate it, have this week become the rest of the world’s consensus and most urgent concern…

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

 

                                                                       

Contents

   

YAD VASHEM HONORS AMERICAN GI

WHO TOLD NAZIS 'WE ARE ALL JEWS' 

    Sam Sokol                                                                                     

    Jerusalem Post, Dec. 2, 2015

 

An American non-commissioned officer who defied the Nazis while in captivity by refusing to identify Jewish POWs was posthumously honored with the title of Righteous Among the Nations by Yad Vashem on Wednesday. The title, granted after extensive research and corroboration, is intended to honor those who risked their own lives to rescue Jews during the Holocaust.

 

Captured by the Germans during the Battle of the Bulge, Master Sergeant Roddie Edmonds of the US 422nd Infantry Regiment was the senior officer in the American section of the Stalag IXA prisoner of war camp. When Nazi guards demanded all Jewish prisoners report the following morning, in a move reminiscent of the movie Spartacus, Edmonds instructed all soldier inmates in the camp to show up alongside their Jewish comrades.

 

When camp commandant Major Siegmann saw the entire American contingent standing and identifying as Jews he exclaimed, “they cannot all be Jews,” and Edmonds replied, “we are all Jews.” Siegmann then drew his pistol on Edmonds, who coolly responded that “according to the Geneva Convention, we only have to give our name, rank and serial number. If you shoot me, you will have to shoot all of us, and after the war you will be tried for war crimes.” Outfaced by Edmonds, the commandant turned and walked away.

 

Lester Tanner, one of the Jewish POWs Edmonds had save, said of his brave commander: “He did not throw his rank around. You knew he knew his stuff and he got across to you without being arrogant or inconsiderate. I admired him for his command. “We were in combat on the front lines for only a short period, but it was clear that Roddie Edmonds was a man of great courage who led his men with the same capacity we had come to know him in the States,” Tanner said.

 

Tanner told Yad Vashem that the American troops were well aware of the Nazis’ murders of Jews and that Edmonds understood the danger should the Jews be separated from the other soldiers. “I would estimate that there were more than 1,000 Americans standing in wide formation in front of the barracks with Master Sergeant Roddie Edmonds standing in front, with several senior non-coms beside him, of which I was one,” Tanner said. “There was no question in my mind, or that of Master Sergeant Edmonds, that the Germans were removing the Jewish prisoners from the general prisoner population at great risk to their survival.

 

“The US Army’s standing command to its ranking officers in POW camps is that you resist the enemy and care for the safety of your men to the greatest extent possible,” Tanner said. Edwards “at the risk of his immediate death, defied the Germans with the unexpected consequences that the Jewish prisoners were saved.”

 

A statement from Yad Vashem Chairman Avner Shalev said Edmonds “seemed like an ordinary American solider, but he had an extraordinary sense of responsibility and dedication to his fellow human beings. “These attributes form the common thread that binds members of this select group of Righteous Among the Nations. The choices and actions of Master Sergeant Edmonds set an example for his fellow American soldiers as they stood united against the barbaric evil of the Nazis.” Edmonds died in 1985. He is the first American serviceman, and only one of five Americans in total, to be declared Righteous Among the Nations.

                                                           

Contents

                                                     

                 ISRAEL AIMS TO RECREATE WINE THAT JESUS AND KING DAVID DRANK                                            Jodi Rudoren                                                                                             

                     New York Times, Nov. 29, 2015

 

The new crisp, acidic and mineral white from a high-end Israeli winery was aged for eight months — or, depending on how you look at it, at least 1,800 years. The wine, called marawi and released last month by Recanati Winery, is the first commercially produced by Israel’s growing modern industry from indigenous grapes. It grew out of a groundbreaking project at Ariel University in the occupied West Bank that aims to use DNA testing to identify — and recreate — ancient wines drunk by the likes of King David and Jesus Christ.

 

Eliyashiv Drori, the Ariel oenologist who heads the research, traces marawi (also called hamdani) and jandali grapes to A.D. 220 based on a reference in the Babylonian Talmud. “All our scriptures are full with wine and with grapes — before the French were even thinking about making wine, we were exporting wine,” he said. “We have a very ancient identity, and for me, reconstructing this identity is very important. For me, it’s a matter of national pride.”

 

The redevelopment of local varietals, however — like so many things in this contested land — is not free of political friction. It comes alongside contentious new labeling guidelines by the European Union requiring that wines from the West Bank and the Golan Heights carry a label saying they were made in Israeli settlements. And Palestinians have their own ownership claims on these grapes.

 

For Israeli winemakers, the search for old-new varietals is an opportunity to distinguish their wares in a competitive global marketplace where they harbor little hope of improving on, say, chardonnay from France. Archaeologists and geneticists are testing new methods for analyzing charred ancient seeds. In the endless struggle between Israelis and Palestinians, it is a quest to underscore Jewish roots in the holy land.

 

But Recanati is not the first to sell wine from these grapes. Cremisan, a small winery near Bethlehem where Palestinians partner with Italian monks, has been using hamdani, jandali and other local fruit since 2008. “As usual in Israel, they declare that falafel, tehina, tabouleh, hummus and now jandali grapes are an Israeli product,” Amer Kardosh, Cremisan’s export director, sniped in an email. “I would like to inform you that these types of grapes are totally Palestinian grapes grown on Palestinian vineyards.” Yes, but the Palestinian farms that sold the grapes to Recanati have insisted on anonymity, for fear of backlash over working with Israelis, or just helping make wine, which is generally forbidden in Islam. Recanati, for its part, embraced the heritage, using Arabic on marawi’s label and hiring an Arab-Israeli singer to perform at its October unveiling to 50 select sommeliers.

 

The vintner, Ido Lewinsohn, said his product is “clean and pure of any political influence,” adding of the grapes: “These are not Israeli; they are not Palestinian. They belong to the region — this is something beautiful.” Wine presses have been uncovered in Israel — and the West Bank — that date to biblical times. But winemaking was outlawed after Muslims conquered the holy land in the seventh century. When Baron Edmond de Rothschild, an early Zionist and scion of a famed Bordeaux winery, helped restart the local craft in the 1880s, he brought fruit from France.

 

Today, Israel’s 350 wineries produce 65 million bottles a year. The sticky-sweet Manischewitz was long ago overshadowed by top-quality chardonnay, cabernet, merlot, syrah, carignan and more. But there is only so far to go with such imports. “Have we managed to create a DNA for Israeli wines? Not yet,” lamented Haim Gan, owner of Grape Man, a company that advocates Israel’s wine culture…

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

 

CIJR Wishes All Our Friends & Supporters: Shabbat Shalom!

 

 

 

On Topic

 

Bibi Just Went Off On France and It Was Epic: Israel Video Network, Dec. 2, 2015

A Trunk Full of Britain’s WWII Secrets Saved the World: Maureen Callahan, New York Post, Sept. 27, 2015 —On June 4, 1940, a defiant Winston Churchill delivered his famous “Dunkirk” speech to Parliament. The British had just rescued 338,000 retreating Allied soldiers, cornered by German forces. France was days away from formal surrender. It was spectacular ­humiliation spun as victory.

Lessons From the Pollard Saga: Caroline Glick, Breaking Israel News, Dec. 2, 2015 —Even before the dust settled on last Friday’s happy headlines proclaiming that after 30 years in federal prison, Jonathan Pollard was being released, we discovered that his release wasn’t the end of his sad saga.

You’ll Never Guess What Elizabeth Taylor and Marilyn Monroe Have in Common: Barbara Hoffman, New York Post, Sept. 27, 2015 —If you’ve never seen Marilyn Monroe’s menorah — or heard Elizabeth Taylor softly recite the Jewish prayer, the Shema, in Hebrew — what are you waiting for?

 

                   

 

 

 

                  

 

 

 

THE SYRIAN AND SPANISH CIVIL WARS— BOTH PRELUDES TO WIDER CONFLICTS?

 

 

 

 

 

In 1936 Spanish pro-fascist monarchist forces under General Francisco Franco attacked the legitimate government of the Spanish Republic, setting off a vicious and soon internationalized civil war. Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany directly supported Franco’s nationalist forces, with air support, military equipment, advisers, and materiel; France provided some aid to the Republic while Britain maintained neutrality. Soviet Russia countered Fascist-Nazi support to Franco with military equipment and advisers, while thousands of largely socialist and communist foreign volunteers, organized into  International Brigades, also came to the aid of the Republic. 

 

The viciously partisan war, pitting Catholics against secular Republicans, fascists and monarchists against liberal, socialist, and anarchist republicans, ended with the defeat of the Republican forces in March, 1939, as the Western democracies provided little real help, and the Soviets, fearing the Spanish anarchist-republicans (POUM), withdrew their support.  The war, entailing large-scale urban and rural destruction and dislocation (Guernica), produced the deaths of  hundreds of thousands of people, and over 400,000 Republican refugees.

 

The Spanish Civil War should in some ways, mutatis mutandis, remind us of the increasingly complex and even more destructive, dangerous and internationalized civil war in Syria. Now almost five years old, with eight million internal and four million external refugees and a death toll approaching 300,000, the Syrian civil war shows no signs of soon ending.   In Syria, of course, the government was, and is, not a legitimate representative Republic, but a one-man, one-party dictatorship, while the initial Syrian rebels were not proto-fascist monarchists but relatively moderate Muslims, demanding, in one of the last gasps of the failed regional Arab Spring, a truly representative government.

 

While the Assad dictatorship had traditionally been supported by the Soviet Union, a policy continued by its Russian successor, Moscow’s direct intervention has come only  recently. Initially, the West supported the rebels indirectly, with the American President, Obama, calling for Assad’s removal but providing no aid to his opponents.  As Assad moved militarily against his largely civilian opponents, new factors entered the equation: Shiite Iran ramped up its support for the Alawite Syrian ruler, while the anti-Assad Sunni Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Arabs (and to some extent the Turks) supported the largely Sunni rebels.

 

Soon, however, the conflict deepened, with a new element entering the increasingly volatile mix.  An extremist Sunni Islamist force, IS, or Islamic State (or ISIL [Arabic “Daesh”]), breaking away from Al Qaeda, established itself and proclaimed a strict sharia-based Caliphate in both Iraq and Syria. A fundamentalist movement, bloodily repressive, beheading and burning captives and raping and enslaving subordinate Yazidi and other women, IS quickly conquered part of northern Syria, around Raqqa, which it proclaimed its capital, and a swath of north-eastern Iraq around Ramadi, threatening both Iraqi-Turkish Mosul and Baghdad.

 

As in the Spanish Civil War, an initially internal conflict was soon internationalized. In Spain, the conflict was deepened and broadened by direct Italian-German military support for monarchist-conservative Franco, and indirect and ineffective Western, and then direct Soviet Russian, support for the Republican forces. In Syria, the initial moderate Muslim rebels were soon overshadowed by more radical Islamist forces, financed and supported by Sunni Arab states (Saudi Arabia, the Gulf States), and dedicated to removing Assad,  while Assad received Iranian funding and arms, troops from Iran’s Lebanese client Hezbollah, and increasing Russian support.

 

In Spain France and Britain gave only minor, indirect support to the Republic (the International Brigades, however heroically motivated, being militarily of relatively modest weight), while the Soviets, providing arms and some military cadres, but always with an eye on the larger international scene, never went “all in”. Similarly, in Syria, where Obama, while proclaiming that Assad had to go, kept the US (and NATO) out of direct involvement. The moderates received moral support, but little direct military aid, with their weakness creating a kind of pro-Sunni vacuum soon filled by IS.

 

(The rise of IS can, in fact, in large part be laid at Obama’s feet. Allergic to providing  “boots on the ground”, Obama reneged on a pledged “red line” after Assad’s use of chemical weapons was discovered. Lack of American resolve and leadership created the political vacuum into which IS expanded.)

 

As the crisis deepened, IS expanded and Assad’s area of control steadily shrank. The foreign interventions were now radicalized: the U.S. in 2014, after a series of IS  massacres and the beheading of American captives, championed a rather desultory Western-Sunni Arab  air campaign against IS (but still no “boots on the ground”, save latterly for the use of Kurdish forces in the north-east).  Iran’s support for Assad (before, through and after its nuclear deal with Obama) ramped up, Hezbollah and Iranian Revolutionary Guard troops intervened directly, and, finally, as Assad’s regime seemed to totter, Russia intervened directly. (Putin mounted his own air campaign from his Syrian airbase near Latakia against the “terrorists” [supposedly including IS, but actually directed against the coalition of moderate anti-Assad Sunni forces].)

 

Now, in November, 2015, as Russia’s involvement deepens and the American-led air campaign still shows little sign of markedly impeding IS, the US, in an Obamian about-face, has announced the placing of an initially small contingent of American troops on the ground and a ramping up of the aerial sorties.  So suddenly the two leading world-powers are directly facing off against one another in the downwardly-spiralling Syrian civil war where, despite hurried “deconfliction” talks to avoid accidental confrontations, incidents sparking a deeper crisis—like the recent Turkish shooting down of a Russian bomber–remain quite possible.

 

In Spain, Nazi-fascist support trumped ineffectual Western, and manipulative Soviet,  aid (see George Orwell, Homage to Catalonia, on the Soviets’ duplicity), resulting in a Francoist victory and the destruction of the Republic.  In Syria at this point, something similar in relation to the Assad regime is occurring: Russian-Iranian support for Assad (the equivalent of German-Italian aid to Franco) seems about to trump the moderate rebels who (like the Spanish Republicans), weakly backed by the US (equivalent to the weak British-French in Spain) are losing.

 

Here IS, as a kind of relatively independent third party to the conflict, breaks the structural parallelisms. Playing off the Alawites and the moderate Sunnis against one another, and oddly (or not so oddly)  not the direct target of the Russians,  the Turks, who have been opposed to Assad from the beginning, or of Assad —IS is holding its own, or better.

 

(Indeed, some argue that Assad has in fact used IS against the moderate rebels, and is willing—at least in the short-to-medium run–to divide Syria with them. It is also pointed out that the mass emigration of millions of Sunni Syrians to Lebanese, Jordanian and Turkish refugee camps, and thence to Germany and Sweden through southern Europe, is a kind of ethnic cleansing strengthening Assad’s Alawite constituency. And the Turks have proved more concerned with its traditional Kurdish enemies on the Syrian-Turkish border than with IS or Assad.)

 

The Spanish Civil War was a prelude to World War II, strengthening and encouraging the fascist-Nazi forces and, not least, demonstrating the irrelevance of the League of Nations as well as the appeasement of France and Great Britain.  Even before the War ended in 1939, Hitler had already affected the Anschluss with Austria,  at Munich Czechoslovakia had been abandoned; and by 1939 the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact aligned the Bolsheviks and Nazis, and led to the invasion of Poland and the beginning of WWII. Could the Syrian Civil War, similarly, be the antechamber of a wider regional conflict, one which  —remember Putin in Crimea and Ukraine—could mutate into a major European war?

 

The book of the future is the hardest of tomes to read, but the obviously deeply unstable Syrian situation indeed has within itself elements of a wider conflict. Aside from accidental confrontations—Russian and American aircraft encountering one another, a Russian-American naval crisis in the Mediterranean, recently-emplaced advanced Russian guided-missile batteries (inserted after the Turks shot down the Russian jet) shooting down a coalition (or Turkish, or Israeli) aircraft, and so on—more “structural” elements, radicalized by the ongoing conflict, may well come into play.

 

Syria today is what Hobbes, reflecting on an earlier civil war, termed a bellum omnium contra omnes, a “war of all against all”.  The UN, despite the periodic protestations of Ban Ki-moon, is—like the League of Nations in 1936—irrelevant. America, still isolated by appeasement in 1936, has once again withdrawn from world engagement under Obama. But as the Russians respond by stepping up their own involvement, and IS threatens to expand into a world-wide terrorist threat, the US has now begun to be sucked back, however unwillingly and despite the evident distaste of its President, into the vortex.

 

The Saudis and Gulf Arabs, fearful of Iran and already bogged down by the Iranian-backed Houthis in Yemen, are also deeply involved, supporting both elements of the moderate Sunni opposition and IS, while IS remains an expansionist factor with recent gains both in Syria and Iraq, and now in Libya and Afghanistan (as well as killing over 200 Russians by evidently bringing down a jetliner on its way to Moscow from Sharm El-Sheikh over the Sinai, and 130 Frenchmen by its terrorist attack in Paris).

 

Iran is doubling down by sending in thousands of its own Iranian Revolutionary Guard units, under IRG generals (several recently killed in combat) to support Assad. Turkey, where conservative Sunni Islamist Erdogan, initially against Assad, has been handed a reinforced nationalist majority in the recent election and is moving against the Kurds, inside and outside the Syria-Turkey border And the Kurds, in turn, are the U.S.’s only effective “boots on the ground” in Syria.

 

Hence the prospect in Syria is one of increasing, unstable, and internationalized combat, which could at points easily escalate into a wider war.  And nothing to this point has been said of Egypt, formerly leader of the Sunni Muslims, opposing IS in the Sinai, which also has a stake in the Syrian outcome.

 

Nor has mention yet been made of Israel, which to this point has studiously avoided getting involved, save to prevent transhipment of advanced war materiel from Iran through Syria to Hezbollah in Lebanon. Yet Iranian-led troops are on the Golan Heights border, and Hezbollah and some 60,000 rockets are on the southern Lebanon border. Fire between Israel and Iranian-backed troops on the Golan has been exchanged, and incidents there and in south Lebanon could easily escalate, and much the same can be said of the Iran-backed elements in Gaza (Hamas).   

 

Given the rising stakes of the game, the American abdication of regional leadership,   heightened Russian military involvement,  the rising strength of Islamist IS, and many other unstable variables, would seem to indicate that the Syrian Civil War, like Spain’s, could, sooner or later, burst out of its domestic container and spark, if not World War III, then certainly a severe and extremely dangerous regional Middle East conflagration.

 

(Prof. Frederick Krantz is Director of the Canadian Institute for Jewish Research)

 

 

 

ISRAEL, U.S. JEWS & O.’S IRAN DEAL: ISRAELIS, UNLIKE EUROPE’S JEWS IN 1939, CAN STRIKE BACK AT EXISTENTIAL THREATS

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Israeli Preemptive Action, Western Reaction: Victor Davis Hanson, National Review, Aug. 4, 2015 — The Obama administration seems peeved that almost everyone in Israel, left and right, has no use for the present Iranian–American deal to thwart Iran’s efforts to get the bomb.

Obama’s Enemies List: Caroline B. Glick, Jerusalem Post, Aug. 6, 2015 — In President Barack Obama’s defense of his nuclear deal with Iran Wednesday, he said there are only two types of people who will oppose his deal – Republican partisans and Israel- firsters – that is, traitors.

Chuck Schumer Opposes Iran Nuclear Deal, Shaking Democratic Firewall: Jennifer Steinhauer & Jonathan Weisman, New York Times, Aug. 6, 2015 — Senator Chuck Schumer, the most influential Jewish voice in Congress, said Thursday night that he would oppose President Obama’s deal to limit Iran’s nuclear program.

In Search of the Missing Jews of the Rhine: Barry Shaw, CIJR, Aug. 7, 2015  — Sailing the rivers of Moselle and the Rhine is an eye-opening experience.

September 1, 1939: W. H. Auden, New Republic, Oct. 18, 1939— I sit in one of the dives//On Fifty-second Street//Uncertain and afraid//As the clever hopes expire//Of a low dishonest decade…

 

On Topic Links

 

Abe Foxman’s Retirement: End of an Era: Isi Leibler, Jerusalem Post, July 28, 2015

The Iran Nuclear Deal (Video): Dennis Prager, Prager U, 2015

Leading Democrat Donors Haim Saban and Jack Rosen Rally Against Iran Deal: Eliezer Sherman, Algemeiner, Aug. 6, 2015

Condemnation and Condolence by the UN Secretary General — Genuine or Politically Biased?: Amb. Alan Baker, JCPA, Aug. 6, 2015

 

                   

ISRAELI PREEMPTIVE ACTION, WESTERN REACTION                                                                       

Victor Davis Hanson                                                                                           

National Review, Aug. 4, 2015

 

The Obama administration seems peeved that almost everyone in Israel, left and right, has no use for the present Iranian–American deal to thwart Iran’s efforts to get the bomb. Indeed, at times John Kerry has hinted darkly that Israel’s opposition to the pact might incur American wrath should the deal be tabled — even though Kerry knows that the polls show a clear majority of Americans being against the proposed agreement while remaining quite supportive of the Jewish state.

 

President Obama, from time to time, suggests that his agreement is being sabotaged by nefarious lobbying groups, big-time check writers, and neoconservative supporters of the Iraq war — all shorthand, apparently, for pushy Jewish groups. Obama and his negotiators seem surprised that Israelis take quite seriously Iranian leaders’ taunts over the past 35 years that they would like to liquidate the Jewish state and everyone in it.

 

The Israelis, for some reason, remember that well before Hitler came to power, he had bragged about the idea of killing Jews en masse in his sloppily composed autobiographical Mein Kampf. Few in Germany or abroad had taken the raving young Hitler too seriously. Even in the late 1930s, when German Jews were being rounded up and haphazardly killed on German streets by state-sanctioned thugs, most observers considered such activities merely periodic excesses or outbursts from non-governmental Black- and Brownshirts.

 

The Obama administration, with vast oceans between Tehran and the United States, tsk-tsks over Iranian threats as revolutionary hyperbole served up for domestic consumption. The Israelis, with less than a thousand miles between themselves and Tehran, do not — and cannot. Given the 20th century’s history, Israel has good reason not to trust either the United States or Europe to ensure the security of the Jewish state. Israel has learned from the despicable anti-Semitism now prevalent at the U.N. and from the increasing thuggery directed at Jews in Europe that the world at large would shed crocodile tears over the passing of Israel on the day of its destruction, but, the next day, sigh and get right back to business in a “that was then, this is now” style.

 

In 1981 the Israelis took out the Iraqi nuclear reactor — sold to Saddam Hussein by France. They were ritually blasted as state terrorists and worse by major U.S. newspapers and at the United Nations — though not by Khomeini’s Iran, which earlier had failed in a preemptive bombing strike to do much damage to the Osirak reactor. Today, in retrospect, most nations are privately glad that the Israelis removed the reactor from a country that had hundreds of years’ worth of natural-gas and oil supplies and no need for nuclear power — and that is now under assault from ISIS.

 

In 2007, when the Israelis preempted once more, and destroyed the al-Kibar nuclear facility that was under construction in Syria, the world, after initial silence, again in Pavlovian fashion became outraged at such preemptive bombing. The global chorus claimed that there was no intelligence confirming that the North Koreans had helped to launch a Syrian uranium-enrichment plant. Yet eight years later, most observers abroad once again privately shrug that Bashar Assad most certainly had hired the Koreans to build a nuclear processing plant — and are quietly satisfied that the Israelis took care of it. Note that the al-Kibar site lies in territory now controlled by ISIS. One can imagine a variety of terrifying contemporary scenarios had the Israelis not preempted. Most of those who condemned Israel’s attack would now be worrying about an ISIS improvised explosive device, packed with dirty uranium, that might go off in a major Western city.

 

In all these cases, the Israelis assumed that Western intelligence about nuclear proliferation in the Middle East was unreliable. They took for granted that Westerners automatically would blame Israelis for any preemptive attack against an Islamic nuclear site. And they likewise concluded that, privately and belatedly, Westerners would eventually be happy that the Israelis had belled the would-be nuclear cat. But in a larger sense, the Israelis also recall the sad story of the West and the Holocaust less than 75 years ago — a horror central to the birthing of a “never again” Jewish state.

 

By 1943, the outlines of the Nazis’ Final Solution were well known in both Washington and London; Jews were already being gassed at German death camps in Poland in an effort to kill every Jew from the Atlantic Ocean to the Volga River. It was a matter of record that the major Western democracies — America, Britain, and prewar France — had refused sanctuary to millions of Jewish refugees. It was also a matter of record that the major Western democracies — America, Britain, and prewar France — had refused sanctuary to millions of Jewish refugees who had been stripped of their property by the Third Reich and told to leave Germany and its occupied territories. In some notorious cases, shiploads of Jews were turned away after docking in Western ports and were sent back to Nazi-occupied Europe, where the passengers were disembarked and soon afterward gassed.

 

Moreover, Israelis understand that Hitler’s Final Solution would have been far more difficult to implement without the active participation of sympathetic anti-Semites in occupied European nations, who volunteered to round up their own Jews and send them on German trains eastward to the death camps. In the case of the United States, anti-Semitic or indifferent officials high up in the State Department and elsewhere within the Roosevelt administration went out of their way to hide data about the plight of Jewish refugees, and circumvented protocol in order to refuse entry into the United States to the vast majority of Jews fleeing the Holocaust. The British were nearly as exclusionary, and also did their best to stop Jewish refugees from fleeing to Palestine to escape the death camps…

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

 

                                                                                   

Contents                                                                            

   

OBAMA’S ENEMIES LIST

Caroline B. Glick         

Jerusalem Post, Aug. 6, 2015

 

In President Barack Obama’s defense of his nuclear deal with Iran Wednesday, he said there are only two types of people who will oppose his deal – Republican partisans and Israel- firsters – that is, traitors. At American University, Obama castigated Republican lawmakers as the moral equivalent of Iranian jihadists saying, “Those [Iranian] hard-liners chanting ‘Death to America’ who have been most opposed to the deal… are making common cause with the Republican Caucus.”

 

He then turned his attention to Israel. Obama explained that whether or not you believe the deal endangers Israel boils down to whom you trust more – him or Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. And, he explained, he can be trusted to protect Israel better than Netanyahu can because “[I] have been a stalwart friend of Israel throughout my career.” The truth is that it shouldn’t much matter to US lawmakers whether Obama or Netanyahu has it right about Israel. Israel isn’t a party to the deal and isn’t bound by it. If Israel decides it needs to act on its own, it will.

 

The US, on the other side, will be bound by the deal if Congress fails to kill it next month. So the real question lawmakers need to ask is whether the deal is good for America. Is Obama right or wrong that only partisan zealots and disloyal Zionists could oppose his great diplomatic achievement? To determine the answer to that question, you need to do is ask another one. Does his deal make America safer or less safe? The best way to answer that question is to consider all the ways Iran threatens America today, and ask whether the agreement has no impact on those threats, or whether it mitigates or aggravates them.

 

Today Iran is harming America directly in multiple ways. The most graphic way Iran is harming America today is by holding four Americans hostage. Iran’s decision not to release them over the course of negotiations indicates that at a minimum, the deal hasn’t helped them. It doesn’t take much consideration to recognize that the hostages in Iran are much worse off today than they were before Obama concluded the deal on July 14. The US had much more leverage to force the Iranians to release the hostages before it signed the deal than it does now. Now, not only do the Iranians have no reason to release the hostages, they have every reason to take more hostages.

 

Then there is Iranian-sponsored terrorism against the US. In 2011, the FBI foiled an Iranian plot to murder the Saudi ambassador in Washington and bomb the Saudi and Israeli embassies in the US capital. One of the terrorists set to participate in the attack allegedly penetrated US territory through the Mexican border. The terrorist threat to the US emanating from Iran’s terrorist infrastructure in Latin America will rise steeply as a consequence of the nuclear deal. As The Wall Street Journal’s Mary Anastasia O’Grady wrote last month, the sanctions relief the deal provides to Iran will enable it to massively expand its already formidable operations in the US’s backyard. Over the past two decades, Iran and Hezbollah have built up major presences in Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua, Ecuador and Bolivia.

 

Iran’s presence in Latin America also constitutes a strategic threat to US national security. Today Iran can use its bases of operations in Latin America to launch an electromagnetic pulse attack on the US from a ballistic missile, a satellite or even a merchant ship. The US military is taking active steps to survive such an attack, which would destroy the US’s power grid. Among other things, it is returning the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) to its former home in Cheyenne Mountain outside Colorado Springs.

 

But Obama has ignored the findings of the congressional EMP Commission and has failed to harden the US electronic grid to protect it from such attacks. The economic and human devastation that would be caused by the destruction of the US electric grid is almost inconceivable. And now with the cash infusion that will come Iran’s way from Obama’s nuclear deal, it will be free to expand on its EMP capabilities in profound ways…

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

                                                                       

Contents                                                                                      

   

CHUCK SCHUMER OPPOSES IRAN NUCLEAR DEAL,

SHAKING DEMOCRATIC FIREWALL                                                                             

Jennifer Steinhauer & Jonathan Weisman                                              

New York Times, Aug. 6, 2015

 

Senator Chuck Schumer, the most influential Jewish voice in Congress, said Thursday night that he would oppose President Obama’s deal to limit Iran’s nuclear program. “Advocates on both sides have strong cases for their point of view that cannot simply be dismissed,” Mr. Schumer, Democrat of New York, said in a lengthy statement. “This has made evaluating the agreement a difficult and deliberate endeavor, and after deep study, careful thought and considerable soul-searching, I have decided I must oppose the agreement and will vote yes on a motion of disapproval.”

 

Mr. Schumer had spent the last several weeks carrying a dog-eared copy of the agreement in his briefcase and meeting with Mr. Obama and officials like Wendy R. Sherman, the deal’s chief negotiator. With his decision, he paves the way for other Democrats on the fence to join Republicans in showing their disapproval. “There are some who believe that I can force my colleagues to vote my way,” Mr. Schumer said. “While I will certainly share my view and try to persuade them that the vote to disapprove is the right one, in my experience with matters of conscience and great consequence like this, each member ultimately comes to their own conclusion.”

 

As if on cue, Representative Eliot L. Engel of New York, the ranking Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, who was widely expected to oppose the deal, announced his opposition Thursday night. Mr. Schumer said his chief concern was that Iran would still be free after a decade to build a nuclear bomb. His announcement comes as Representative Nancy Pelosi of California, the minority leader, labors to build a firewall in the House in support of the deal, which has been denounced by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel. At six meetings in recent weeks, Ms. Pelosi has assembled an informal team of Democrats determined to win over the 146 House Democrats needed to uphold a veto.

 

But Ms. Pelosi’s team had had its eye on Mr. Schumer, conceded Representative Jan Schakowsky, Democrat of Illinois and one of Ms. Pelosi’s deputies on the Iran deal. Ms. Schakowsky said that Democratic leaders had never put Mr. Schumer “in the ‘yes’ column,” but that “the calculation still is we’ll have the votes” even without him. So far, 12 Senate Democrats and one Democratic-leaning independent, Senator Angus King of Maine, have announced their support for the deal. Two others, Senator Bernie Sanders, a liberal independent from Vermont, and Senator Jack Reed of Rhode Island, the ranking Democrat on the Armed Services Committee, have all but announced their support…                                                    

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

 

                                           

IN SEARCH OF THE MISSING JEWS OF THE RHINE                                                                                    

Barry Shaw                                                                                                                                                           

CIJR, Aug. 7, 2015

 

Sailing the rivers of Moselle and the Rhine is an eye-opening experience. Ancient stony castles sit on craggy hilltops. Miles and miles of green vineyards precariously grow on impossibly steep inclines to produce the best Riesling wines in the world. Pleasant-looking towns and villages dominated by church spires. The peaceful Moselle gives way to the watery superhighway of the Rhine carrying boats ferrying unusual freight and cargo.

 

While visiting peaceful and picturesque locations, and learning of their turbulent histories, I began to notice an emptiness that was referred to in places, and ignored in others. The emptiness was the missing Jews of the Rhine. Who were they? What happened to them? And how are they acknowledged by the towns that housed them, and destroyed them?

 

COLOGNE (KOLN). There were Jews in Cologne (Koln) since the year 321, almost as long as Cologne itself. Over history, the Jewish community suffered persecution, expulsions, massacres and destruction. In the Middle Ages, they were exploited by the rules and the Church and were killed in the name of Christianity, though the real reason was, by killing the Jew, the Archbishops were relieved of having the burden of repaying the debt.

 

The Nazi era was the last in a long history of Jewish persecution. Jews numbered 19,500 before World War 2. Over 11,000 were killed by the Nazis. There is a Jewish section in the Koln Municipal Museum where the grim story in recounted with evidence of the Nazi crime. Jewish artefacts are on display on the first floor in this museum. When I was there, German schoolchildren were being guided through the permanent exhibition. The Gestapo headquarters were located at 23/25 Appellhofstrasse. This building today houses the National Socialist Documentation Center where 18,000 wall inscriptions tell of persecution, torture and murder under the Nazi regime. The Jews of Cologne were deported to Thereisenstadt between 28 July and 5th September 1942.

 

In many German towns Stumbling Stones have been laid into the sidewalks outside what were the homes of Jewish residents who were marched to their fate by the Nazis. In Cologne, I saw the stones reminding us of Dr. Max Goldberg and his wife, Olga, who in 1942 were deported to Thereisenstadt. Later, I stood at the stones recalling Theo Hannes who was deported to Drancy and then to Auschwitz where he died in 1942. The Synagogue was destroyed on 9th November 1938. A new synagogue was built in 1959 on Roonstrasse. Today, Cologne’s Jewish community number about 4,500, mainly Jews from Russia.

 

KOBLENZ. Koblenz is pivotally located at the junction of the Rhine and Moselle rivers. Like most German towns, strategically placed along the Rhine, it was bombed by the Allies during the war. Most of the buildings, which contained architecturally picturesque buildings dating back to the 17th century, were reconstructed after the war in the same style making them a delight to wander along the alleyways, small streets and squares.

 

However, it was in this town that I had an unpleasant experience. I was in a group and our local guide, Werner, spoke excellent English and explained things with a sense of humor and in detail. He was extremely knowledgeable about the development of Koblenz from the Roman and Germanic times through the ages until today. What began to annoy me was his precision in describing the Allied bombing. He recounted the number of planes, the tonnage of bombs that feel on this town, the number of houses that were destroyed, and the number of people killed. In a sympathetic voice he told us that “they” evacuated the women and children to safety in advance of the expected bombing.

 

Something was missing in his detailed explanation of the history of Koblenz – the Jews. When I asked him how many Jews were in Koblenz prior to the war, he didn’t know. When I asked him if there had been a synagogue in the town he told me that it had been located in a building he had pointed out to us in a square more than half an hour before. His silence on these issues was troubling to me. We arrived in another square where he pointed out a building with steps leading up to the entrance and an archway leading into a cellar section. He told us that it had been the town hall up to the war but the present town hall is located in a newer building in another part of the town. As we continued walking I asked him if the building he had shown us had been the Gestapo headquarters. He hesitantly answered its use was something like that.

 

I began to be emotional and angry. Out of a pent-up rage I asked him if this was the square where the town’s Jews were assembled before they were marched to the train station. He hesitated and mumbled something oblique in a failed answer to my questioning. I pressed my point and asked him where the train station was located and, indeed, it was not far away from that square. To Werner, there were no missing Jews. There was no admission they existed at all in his town. Shaking with fury I told my wife I was leaving this tour group, explaining to her my anger at his failure to acknowledge this part of his town’s history.  It was a sheer coincidence that no sooner had we left our group that we heard voices in Hebrew. It was an Israeli group being led by their Israeli guide. Later, we came across stumbling stones listing the Daniel family – Otto, Juliane, and Flora – who were deported to Sobibor on 22 March 1942 where they all died.  

 

Koblenz had a population of 80,000 and, in 1929, the Jews numbered barely 800. By May 1939, there were only 308. Many had fled in advance of the rise of the Nazi regime. The synagogue was burned down in November 1938 as part of the infamous ‘Kristallnacht’ – the Night of Broken Glass. Only 22 Koblenz Jews survived the Holocaust…

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

 

                                                                       

Contents                                                                                     

                                                            

SEPTEMBER 1, 1939                                                                                                          

W. H. Auden                                                                                                                                             

New Republic, Oct. 18, 1939, 1940

 

The 18th c. Neapolitan philosophe Giambattista Vico saId that history was not progressive and linear, but cyclical and repetitive. a spiral rather than straight line in which there were ricorsi, "returns" to earlier moments.   Writing in 1939, Auden foresaw the horrors of World War II–did he also, prophetically, foresee out current moment?   [F. Krantz, Editor]

 

I sit in one of the dives//On Fifty-second Street//Uncertain and afraid//As the clever hopes expire//Of a low dishonest decade: Waves of anger and fear//Circulate over the bright//And darkened lands of the earth,

Obsessing our private lives; The unmentionable odour of death//Offends the September night…

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

 

CIJR Wishes All Our Friends & Supporters: Shabbat Shalom!

                                                                       

Contents                                                                                     

           

                                                                           

On Topic

                                                                                                        

Abe Foxman’s Retirement: End of an Era: Isi Leibler, Jerusalem Post, July 28, 2015—I received a call recently from Abe Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, in which he castigated me for not consulting him in advance of publishing strong criticism of his remarks.

The Iran Nuclear Deal (Video): Dennis Prager, Prager U, 2015—Is the nuclear agreement between the United States and Iran a good or bad deal? Would it be harder or easier for Iran to develop nuclear weapons? Would it make Iran and its terror proxies stronger or weaker? Should the U.S. Congress support or defeat the deal? Dennis Prager answers these questions and more.

Leading Democrat Donors Haim Saban and Jack Rosen Rally Against Iran Deal: Eliezer Sherman, Algemeiner, Aug. 6, 2015—Top donors to the Democratic party rallied in opposition on Thursday to the Iran nuclear deal pursued by the Obama administration.

Condemnation and Condolence by the UN Secretary General — Genuine or Politically Biased?: Amb. Alan Baker, JCPA, Aug. 6, 2015 —The recent tragic act of terrorism and hatred that caused the murder of a Palestinian child Ali Dawabsha in the West Bank and the serious wounding of the child’s family, cannot, and should not, in any way be minimized.

 

 

 

 

                                                                      

 

              

ERDOGAN, ERODING TURKISH DEMOCRACY, RENEWS WAR ON KURDS; ON 70TH ANNIVERSARY, JUSTIFICATION FOR BOMBING HIROSHIMA

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Turkey and Its Kurds: At War Again: Burak Bekdil, Gatestone Institute, Aug. 6, 2015 — Even President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's critics, including this author, praised him when, after 40,000 lives lost in a bloody conflict, he (as then prime minister) bravely launched a difficult process that would finally bring peace to a country that suffered much from ethnic strife.

Turkish Democracy Is Being Quietly Stolen: Marc Champion, Bloomberg, Aug. 4, 2015— Remember how, two months ago, hopes for Turkish democracy were buoyed by the success of a Kurdish party that managed to appeal across ethnic divides and make it into parliament?

Obama Strikes Again: Caroline B. Glick, Jerusalem Post, July 30, 2015 — While Israel and much of official Washington remain focused on the deal President Barack Obama just cut with the ayatollahs that gives them $150 billion and a guaranteed nuclear arsenal within a decade, Obama has already moved on – to Syria.

Thank God for the Atom Bomb: Bret Stephens, Wall Street Journal, Aug. 3, 2015  — The headline of this column is lifted from a 1981 essay by the late Paul Fussell, the cultural critic and war memoirist.

 

On Topic Links

 

Jon Stewart, War Criminals & The True Story of the Atomic Bombs (Video): Bill Whittle, PJTV, 2013

In Turkey’s New Conflict, Erdogan’s Powers at Stake: Yaroslav Trofimov, Wall Street Journal, July 29, 2015

Erdogan’s Bait and Switch: Jonathan Spyer, Jerusalem Post, July 30, 2015

Jihad on Non-Muslim Places of Worship in Turkey: Uzay Bulut, Gatestone Institute, Aug. 2, 2015

Turkey's Nuclear Aspirations: Ami Rojkes Dombe, Israel Defense, Aug. 8, 2015

 

                            

TURKEY AND ITS KURDS: AT WAR AGAIN                                                                                                

Burak Bekdil                                                                                                       

Gatestone Institute, Aug. 6, 2015

 

Even President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's critics, including this author, praised him when, after 40,000 lives lost in a bloody conflict, he (as then prime minister) bravely launched a difficult process that would finally bring peace to a country that suffered much from ethnic strife. His government would negotiate peace with the Kurds; grant them broad cultural and political rights, which his predecessors did not; and the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), the Kurds' armed group, would finally say farewell to arms. Erdogan (and the Kurdish leaders) would then be nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.

 

But now Turkey is in flames again; the country smells of death. Dozens of members of the security forces, as well as civilians, have been killed in clashes in just the two weeks after an Islamic State suicide bomber murdered 32 pro-Kurdish activists in a small Turkish town on the Syrian border on July 20. Several hundred people were injured and more than a thousand were detained by the police.

 

Turkish cities have once again become a battleground in an almost century-old Turkish-Kurdish dispute: Kurdish militants attack security forces on a daily basis, while the Turkish military buries its fallen soldiers and strikes Kurdish guerrilla camps in northern Iraq. What happened to the Turkish-Kurdish ceasefire and the prospect of sustainable peace? There are three main reasons why all the effort of the last few years has gone into the political wasteland:

 

1) Erdogan's obsession with Islam(ism): Speaking at a conference in Jakarta on July 31, Erdogan unsurprisingly said: "We have only one concern. It is Islam, Islam and Islam. It is impossible for us to accept the overshadowing of Islam." In the same vein, Erdogan's prime minister, Ahmet Davutoglu said in a 2014 interview: "In Turkey's periphery you cannot explain anything without the religion factor."

 

Erdogan (mis)calculated that he could successfully use Islam as a glue keeping Muslim Turks and Muslim Kurds in unity. Why should they be fighting? After all, they are both Sunni Muslims. He thought he could convince the Kurds to surrender their arms and live happily ever after with their Turkish Muslim brothers. For a historic end to the conflict, Islam had to take a central role. Erdogan would therefore restructure Turkey along multi-ethnic lines but a greater role for Islam would be the cement keeping the nation united. Once again, Erdogan, an Islamist, relied too much on religion in resolving what is essentially an ethnic (not religious) conflict.

 

2) A dishonest negotiator: Erdogan was not an honest negotiator from the beginning. His counterparts, the PKK leadership, were smart enough not to trust him. They agreed to a ceasefire in 2013, but have never really buried their arms since then, thinking that they would one day need them. Erdogan's real intention was to keep the PKK "inactive," away from bombings and other acts of terror, and therefore minimize the risk of losing votes as the masses turn angry at his government in the face of the tragic loss of human life. Prolonged negotiations with the Kurds would give him enough peaceful time to win one local election (March 2014), one presidential election (August 2014) and one parliamentary election (June 2015). If, afterward, there is peace, that would be fine. If not, the Kurds could go to hell, with the next election scheduled for 2019. In other words, he pretended to negotiate in order to buy time and delay any renewed wave of violence.

 

3) An unbridgeable gap: It is true that Erdogan's governments granted Turkey's Kurds far more than any other Turkish government did in the past. In 2009, the state broadcaster launched the country's first TV channel in Kurdish. A new electoral law allowed, for the first time, campaigning in Kurdish. Universities and private courses could now teach the Kurdish language. The use of letters like q, w, x, which are necessary for Kurdish Romanization, would no longer be prohibited. Kurdish also would be allowed in courtrooms and at prisons when families visited inmates (previously the language was forbidden).

 

All of that was nice, but not enough to win Kurdish sympathies for peace. The Kurds simply wanted autonomy in Turkey's southeast, where they are in predominant majority. They wanted to have their own police force, elected governors and budgetary control. They wanted two more things: Official (constitutional) recognition of their ethnicity as co-founders of the Turkish Republic; and the introduction of Kurdish language in school curricula. Erdogan accurately calculated that granting the Kurds relatively minor rights would keep them his loyal voters, and away from arms. He knew that the Kurds would want more. But he also knew that granting the Kurds what they actually want would be political suicide in a notoriously nationalist country. Even to this day, the Kurdish demands remain a taboo for most Turks. Speaking of Kurdish education in schools or Kurdish ethnic identity as part of the constitution could earn anyone a nasty label: Traitor!

 

But Kurds have more self-confidence today than a decade or two ago. Their next of kin in Iraq have a functioning autonomous administration that is waiting for the right time officially to split from the central government in Baghdad. Syrian Kurds are trying to unite a Kurdish strip of cantons along the Turkish border. The PKK has proven that it did not lose its firepower during the ceasefire…                                   

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

 

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TURKISH DEMOCRACY IS BEING QUIETLY STOLEN

Marc Champion                                        

Bloomberg, Aug. 4, 2015

 

Remember how, two months ago, hopes for Turkish democracy were buoyed by the success of a Kurdish party that managed to appeal across ethnic divides and make it into parliament? How that seemed to thwart President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's plans to create a Russian-style presidency? His ruling party seemed poised, for the first time since gaining power in 2002, to govern in a coalition. None of that happened.

 

The election took place as described on June 7, but Erdogan ignored the result: He never authorized the winners (his own Justice and Development Party, known as the AKP) to form a new coalition government. And while he may eventually ask Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu to create a minority cabinet with some nationalists, the goal will probably be only to hold new elections in the fall. This is worse than it looks because, in order to reverse the election result, Erdogan will need to break the alliance between Turkish liberals and Kurds that allowed the Kurdish People's Democratic Party, or HDP, to make it into parliament. And the best way to do that is to revive the ethnic hatreds that mired Turkey in a 30-year war starting in the mid-1980s, costing an estimated 40,000 lives and untold economic opportunity.

 

To outsiders, it may not be obvious that this is already happening. Erdogan's decision to finally let the U.S. fly airstrikes against Islamic State from its base at Incirlik has diverted people's attention. But at the same time, Turkey renewed airstrikes against Kurdish insurgents (not part of the HDP), who quickly ended a cease-fire they declared in 2013.  The U.S. air-base rights are helpful, though unlikely to prove decisive in changing the prospects for defeating Islamic State. The renewed war between Turkey and Kurdish militants, on the other hand, is very likely to destroy Turkish democracy.

 

Erdogan has by now proved he's no democrat. He is, however, a brilliant politician. In 2009, he began a so-called Kurdish Opening to secure Kurdish votes for himself and his party. Turkey's ethnic Kurds were a natural constituency for Erdogan's conservative AKP, because taken as a whole they are among the country's most religiously conservative people. Yet Kurds had to be persuaded to vote for any ruling Turkish party in greater numbers. So he needed to defuse the conflict without alienating his own Turkish-nationalist base.

 

The path was tortuous, but this year Erdogan had reason to hope that those Kurds who didn't vote for his party would win only their customary 6 percent as independents, and — at least tacitly — back Erdogan's new constitution in return for certain concessions. Instead, HDP leader Selahattin Demirtas categorically ruled out supporting a presidential constitution, decided that Kurdish candidates would run as a party, and appealed for ethnic Turks to back him in order to defeat Erdogan's plans for an elected autocracy. And Demirtas succeeded. His party crossed Turkey's 10 percent threshold to enter parliament, robbing the president of the strong parliamentary majority he needed to approve a new constitution that would have given him the kind of absolute control that President Vladimir Putin enjoys in Russia. Rather than accept this defeat and allow a coalition government to be formed, Erdogan has ignored the vote. His preference seems to be to force a new election so that he can try to drive the HDP back below the threshold.

 

Luckily for Erdogan, the Kurdish peace process was always fragile. The PKK, a military insurgency that uses terrorist tactics and has a bizarre Marxist-style ideology, had always been reluctant to lay down its weapons and has been quick to return to violence. Now Demirtas is in the invidious position of having to either back the government's war against fellow Kurds, or throw in his lot with terrorists. Either course would cost him support.  If Erdogan succeeds in using a rekindled Kurdish conflict to secure his presidential powers, it will be difficult for Turkish democracy to survive in any meaningful sense. Meanwhile, adding a hot Turkish-Kurdish conflict to the morass of Iraq and Syria will make it that much harder to piece the region's sectarian and ethnic puzzle back together.

 

The only way to thwart Erdogan's plans now would be for the HDP to go on condemning Kurdish violence and for liberal Turks to stick by the party in a future vote, banding with Kurds such as Demirtas to defend the democratic process. That, however, would take an extraordinary level of restraint and political maturity from both sides.  

                                      

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OBAMA STRIKES AGAIN                                                                                                   

Caroline B. Glick

Jerusalem Post, July 30, 2015

 

While Israel and much of official Washington remain focused on the deal President Barack Obama just cut with the ayatollahs that gives them $150 billion and a guaranteed nuclear arsenal within a decade, Obama has already moved on – to Syria. Obama’s first hope was to reach a deal with his Iranian friends that would leave the Assad regime in place. But the Iranians blew him off. They know they don’t need a deal with Obama to secure their interests. Obama will continue to help them to maintain their power base in Syria though Hezbollah and the remains of the Assad regime without a deal.

 

Iran’s cold shoulder didn’t stop Obama. He moved on to his Sunni friend Turkish President Recep Erdogan. Like the Iranians, since the war broke out, Erdogan has played a central role in transforming what started out as a local uprising into a regional conflict between Sunni and Shiite jihadists. With Obama’s full support, by late 2012 Erdogan had built an opposition dominated by his totalitarian allies in the Muslim Brotherhood. By mid-2013, Erdogan’s Muslim Brotherhood- led coalition was eclipsed by al-Qaida spinoffs. They also enjoyed Turkish support.

 

And when last summer ISIS supplanted al-Qaida as the dominant Sunni jihadist force in Syria, it did so with Erdogan’s full backing. For the past 18 months, Turkey has been ISIS’s logistical, political and economic base. According to Brett McGurk, the State Department’s point man on ISIS, about 25,000 foreign fighters have joined ISIS in Syria and Iraq. All of them transited through Turkey. Most of the antiquities that ISIS plunders in Iraq and Syria make their way to the world market through Turkey. So, too, most of the oil that ISIS produces in Syria and Iraq is smuggled out through Turkey. According to the US Treasury, ISIS has made $1 million-$4m. a day from oil revenue.

 

In May, US commandos in Syria assassinated Abu Sayyaf, ISIS’s chief money manager, and arrested his wife and seized numerous computers and flash drives from his home. According to a report in The Guardian published last week, the drives provided hard evidence of official Turkish economic collusion with ISIS. Due to Turkish support, ISIS has become a self-financing terrorist group. With its revenue stream it is able to maintain a welfare state regime, attracting recruits from abroad and securing the loyalty of local Sunni militias and former Ba’athist forces. Some Western officials believed that after finding hard evidence of Turkish regime support for ISIS, NATO would finally change its relationship with Turkey. To a degree they were correct.

 

Last week, Obama cut a deal with Erdogan that changes the West’s relationship with Erdogan. Instead of maintaining its current practice of balancing its support for Turkey with its support for the Kurds, under the agreement, the West ditches its support for the Kurds and transfers its support to Turkey exclusively. The Kurdish peshmerga militias operating today in Iraq and Syria are the only military outfits making sustained progress in the war against ISIS. Since last October, the Kurds in Syria have liberated ISIS-controlled and -threatened areas along the Turkish border.

 

The YPG, the peshmerga militia in Syria, won its first major victory in January, when after a protracted, bloody battle, with US air support, it freed the Kurdish border town of Kobani from ISIS’s assault. In June, the YPG scored a strategic victory against ISIS by taking control of Tal Abyad. Tal Abyad controls the road connecting ISIS’s capital of Raqqa with Turkey. By capturing Tal Abyad, the Kurds cut Raqqa’s supply lines. Last month, Time magazine reported that the Turks reacted with hysteria to Tal Abyad’s capture. Not only did the operation endanger Raqqa, it gave the Kurds territorial contiguity in Syria.

 

The YPG’s victories enhanced the Kurds’ standing among Western nations. Indeed, some British and American officials were quoted openly discussing the possibility of removing the PKK, the YPG’s Iraqi counterpart, from their official lists of terrorist organizations. The YPG’s victories similarly enhanced the Kurds’ standing inside Turkey itself. In the June elections to the Turkish parliament, the Kurdish HDP party won 12 percent of the vote nationally, and so blocked Erdogan’s AKP party from winning a parliamentary majority. Without that majority Erdogan’s plan of reforming the constitution to transform Turkey into a presidential republic and secure his dictatorship for the long run has been jeopardized. As far as Erdogan was concerned, by the middle of July the Kurdish threat to his power had reached unacceptable levels.

 

Then two weeks ago the deck was miraculously reshuffled. On July 20, young Kurdish activists convened in Suduc, a Kurdish town on the Turkish side of the border, 6 kilometers from Kobani. A suicide bomber walked up to them, and detonated, massacring 32 people. Turkish officials claim that the bomber was a Turkish Kurd, and a member of ISIS. But the Kurds didn’t buy that line. Last week, HDP lawmakers accused the regime of complicity with the bomber. And two days after the attack, militants from the PKK killed two Turkish policemen in a neighboring village, claiming that they collaborated with ISIS.

 

At that point, Erdogan sprang into action. After refusing for months to work with NATO forces in their anti-ISIS operations, Erdogan announced he was entering the fray. He would begin targeting “terrorists” and allow the US air force to use two Turkish air bases for its anti-ISIS operations. In exchange, the US agreed to set up a “safe zone” in Syria along the Turkish border. Turkish officials were quick to explain that in targeting “terrorists,” the Turks would not distinguish between Kurdish terrorists and ISIS terrorists just because the former are fighting ISIS. Both, they insisted, are legitimate targets.

 

Erdogan closed his deal in a telephone call with Obama. And he immediately went into action. Turkish forces began bombing terrorist targets and rounding up terrorist suspects. Although a few of the Turkish bombing runs have been directly against ISIS, the vast majority have targeted Kurdish forces in Iraq and Syria. Moreover, for every suspected ISIS terrorist arrested by Turkish security forces, at least eight Kurds have been taken into custody…                                                                                                             

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

                                                                                                              

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THANK GOD FOR THE ATOM BOMB                                                                                                          

Bret Stephens                                                                                                                                

Wall Street Journal, Aug. 3, 2015

 

The headline of this column is lifted from a 1981 essay by the late Paul Fussell, the cultural critic and war memoirist. In 1945 Fussell was a 21-year-old second lieutenant in the U.S. Army who had fought his way through Europe only to learn that he would soon be shipped to the Pacific to take part in Operation Downfall, the invasion of the Japanese home islands scheduled to begin in November 1945. Then the atom bomb intervened. Japan would not surrender after Hiroshima, but it did after Nagasaki.

 

I brought Fussell’s essay with me on my flight to Hiroshima and was stopped by this: “When we learned to our astonishment that we would not be obliged in a few months to rush up the beaches near Tokyo assault-firing while being machine-gunned, mortared, and shelled, for all the practiced phlegm of our tough facades we broke down and cried with relief and joy. We were going to live.”

 

In all the cant that will pour forth this week to mark the 70th anniversary of the dropping of the bombs—that the U.S. owes the victims of the bombings an apology; that nuclear weapons ought to be abolished; that Hiroshima is a monument to man’s inhumanity to man; that Japan could have been defeated in a slightly nicer way—I doubt much will be made of Fussell’s fundamental point: Hiroshima and Nagasaki weren’t just terrible war-ending events. They were also lifesaving. The bomb turned the empire of the sun into a nation of peace activists.

 

I spent the better part of Monday afternoon with one such activist, Keiko Ogura, who runs a group called Hiroshima Interpreters for Peace. Mrs. Ogura had just turned eight when the bomb fell on Hiroshima, the epicenter less than 2 miles from her family home. She remembers wind “like a tornado”; thousands of pieces of shattered glass blasted by wind into the walls and beams of her house, looking oddly “shining and beautiful”; an oily black rain. And then came the refugees from the city center, appallingly burned and mutilated, “like a line of ghosts,” begging for water and then dying the moment they drank it…

 

Because Hiroshima and Nagasaki were real events, because they happened, there can be no gainsaying their horror. Operation Downfall did not happen, so there’s a lot of gainsaying. Would the Japanese have been awed into capitulation by an offshore A-bomb test? Did the Soviet Union’s invasion of Manchuria, starting the day of the Nagasaki bombing, have the more decisive effect in pushing Japan to give up? Would casualties from an invasion really have exceeded the overall toll—by some estimates approaching 250,000—of the two bombs?

 

We’ll never know. We only know that the U.S. lost 14,000 men merely to take Okinawa in 82 days of fighting. We only know that, because Japan surrendered, the order to execute thousands of POWs in the event of an invasion of the home islands was never implemented. We only know that, in the last weeks of a war Japan had supposedly already lost, the Allies were sustaining casualties at a rate of 7,000 a week. We also know that the Japanese army fought nearly to the last man to defend Okinawa, and hundreds of civilians chose suicide over capture. Do we know for a certainty that the Japanese would have fought less ferociously to defend the main islands? We can never know for a certainty.

 

“Understanding the past,” Fussell wrote, “requires pretending that you don’t know the present. It requires feeling its own pressure on your pulses without any ex post facto illumination.” Historical judgments must be made in light not only of outcomes but also of options. Would we judge Harry Truman better today if he had eschewed his nuclear option in favor of 7,000 casualties a week; that is, if he had been more considerate of the lives of the enemy than of the lives of his men?

 

And so the bombs were dropped, and Japan was defeated. Totally defeated. Modern Japan is a testament to the benefits of total defeat, to stripping a culture prone to violence of its martial pretenses. Modern Hiroshima is a testament to human resilience in the face of catastrophe. It is a testament, too, to an America that understood moral certainty and even a thirst for revenge were not obstacles to magnanimity. In some ways they are the precondition for it.

 

For too long Hiroshima has been associated with a certain brand of leftist politics, a kind of insipid pacifism salted with an implied anti-Americanism. That’s a shame. There are lessons in this city’s history that could serve us today, when the U.S. military forbids the word victory, the U.S. president doesn’t believe in the exercise of American power, and the U.S. public is consumed with guilt for sins they did not commit. Watch the lights come on at night in Hiroshima. Note the gentleness of its culture. And thank God for the atom bomb.

                                                                       

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On Topic

                                                                                                        

Jon Stewart, War Criminals & The True Story of the Atomic Bombs (Video): Bill Whittle, PJTV, 2013

In Turkey’s New Conflict, Erdogan’s Powers at Stake: Yaroslav Trofimov, Wall Street Journal, July 29, 2015—Turkey’s government—which lost its parliamentary majority last month— bills its new two-front war against Kurdish militants and Islamic State as a much-overdue reaction to terrorism. But, on the third front of domestic politics, this violence could also help President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his party regain control.

Erdogan’s Bait and Switch: Jonathan Spyer, Jerusalem Post, July 30, 2015 —Turkey’s recent intervention aims to prevent the emergence of a de facto Kurdish sovereignty stretching along its southeastern border The latest events in northern Syria constitute a bold move by the Turkish leadership to deal with a most pressing problem, from their point of view.

Jihad on Non-Muslim Places of Worship in Turkey: Uzay Bulut, Gatestone Institute, Aug. 2, 2015—Once upon a time, Asia Minor, now called Turkey, as well as the rest of the Middle East, was for centuries a real cradle of civilization, where many different religions and cultures flourished. But today these tiny, dwindling communities are not able to enjoy any freedom of religion or conscience.

Turkey's Nuclear Aspirations: Ami Rojkes Dombe, Israel Defense, Aug. 8, 2015 —Does Turkey's civilian nuclear program constitute a cover for the development of a military program – as was the case in Iran? A review of Turkey's investment in its defense industry, space industry, civilian nuclear projects and missile technology, along with its aspirations for regional hegemony, raises some tough questions.