Tag: Stephen Harper





Beth Tikvah Synagogue & CIJR Present: The Annual Sabina Citron International Conference: THE JEWISH THOUGHT OF EMIL L. FACKENHEIM: JUDAISM, ZIONISM, HOLOCAUST, ISRAEL — Toronto, Sunday, October 25, 2015, 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. The day-long Beth Tikvah Conference, co-chaired by Prof. Frederick Krantz (CIJR) and Rabbi Jarrod R. Grover (Beth Tikvah), open to the public and especially to students, features original papers by outstanding Canadian and international scholars, some his former students, on the many dimensions of Emil L. Fackenheim's exceptionally powerful, and prophetic thought, and on his rich life and experience. Tickets: Regular – $36; Seniors – $18; students free. For registration, information, conference program, and other queries call 1-855-303-5544 or email yunna@isranet.org. Visit our site: www.isranet.org/events.


Tribute to Stephen Harper: Hillel Neuer, UN Watch, Oct. 20, 2015— Prime Minister Stephen Harper: We owe you a profound debt of gratitude.

American Jewish Leaders – Speak Up Now!: Isi Leibler, Jerusalem Post, Oct. 21, 2015 — It is now evident that, by and large, the Jewish establishment has adopted a policy of deafening silence in relation to the virulent one-sided political attacks and sins of omission by the Obama administration concerning our barbaric adversaries.

No Country for Jews?: Daniel Gordis, New York Daily News, Oct. 18, 2015— We have a young language instructor at Shalem College in Jerusalem, where I work.

Netanyahu, Husseini, and the Historians: Jeffrey Herf, Times of Israel, Oct. 22, 2015 — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's comments about Haj Amin al-Husseini's impact on Hitler's decision-making about the Final Solution in Europe do not stand up to the consensus of historical research.


On Topic Links


Canada Loses a Moral Compass: Michael Rubin, Commentary, Oct. 20, 2015

Benghazi: Where Was Hillary?: Wall Street Journal, Oct. 20, 2015

The Paranoid, Supremacist Roots of the Stabbing Intifada: Jeffrey Goldberg, The Atlantic, Oct. 16, 2015

A Path Out of the Middle East Collapse: Henry A. Kissinger, Wall Street Journal, Oct. 16, 2015



TRIBUTE TO STEPHEN HARPER                                                                                            

Hillel Neuer

UNWatch, Oct. 20, 2015


Prime Minister Stephen Harper: We owe you a profound debt of gratitude. Over the past decade, when others were silent, you courageously led Canada to defend moral clarity at the United Nations, defying dictatorships and double standards.


I will never forget, at the infamous UN Human Rights Council, during the years 2006 to 2009 when the U.S. was not a member, how your government became the only one in the world to vote against poisonous resolutions sponsored by Syria's Assad, Qaddafi and other murderous tyrants. I will never forget how, in 2009, you were the first in the world to pull out of the antisemitic Durban II Racism Conference, leading Italy, the U.S., Germany, Netherlands, Australia, and others, to follow. Thanks to your actions, when Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad delivered the opening speech, leading democracies walked out, and the entire conference was exposed as a sham.


I will never forget how you stood alone against French President Jacques Chirac and what he called a "great majority of states," to successfully prevent the 2006 Francophonie Summit from singling out Israel for opprobrium after the Hezbollah-Israel war of that summer. I will never forget how you defended my organization, UN Watch, when pro-Hamas UN official Richard Falk, a 9/11 Truther, tried to shut us down; nor will I forget how your government condemned the UN's cynical and corrupt appointment of Falk's wife to a similar UN human rights post. I will never forget how your government supported UN Watch's ongoing work to give a platform to democracy activists, dissidents and human rights heroes, suffering under the world's worst tyrannies.


For all of those reasons, and for so many others, those of us at the United Nations who work to restore the founders' ideals were deeply fortunate to see a world leader who showed, through extraordinary actions, how a profound commitment to basic principles can defy even the most intense peer pressures of international politics. Thank you, Prime Minister Harper, and may God bless you.                                                                       




AMERICAN JEWISH LEADERS – SPEAK UP NOW!                                                                          

Isi Leibler

Jerusalem Post, Oct. 21, 2015


It is now evident that, by and large, the Jewish establishment has adopted a policy of deafening silence in relation to the virulent one-sided political attacks and sins of omission by the Obama administration concerning our barbaric adversaries. It is only the outspoken Zionist Organization of America and minor fringe groups that have been directly speaking out against the Obama administration’s intensified anti-Israel rhetoric.


Until now, I had a nagging suspicion that the failure of American Jewish leaders to confront the biased Obama administration attacks on Israel was not merely a reasoned strategic approach. But aware of their devotion to Israel and having witnessed their former stalwart defense of Jewish interests, I was reluctant to conclude that fear was their primary consideration. But the ongoing silence by the Jewish establishment in relation to the current disgraceful behavior of the Obama administration, its secretary of state and State Department spokesmen is incomprehensible.


Today Israeli Jews are confronted by frenzied, psychotic young Arabs who have been brainwashed into believing that murdering innocent Jews will deliver them directly to paradise and transform them into glorious martyrs. This barbarism, inculcated by hideous indoctrination from kindergarten and subsequently nurtured in the mosques and throughout Palestinian social media, is creating monsters. It is publicly sanctified by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who has whipped up a frenzy on the insanely false allegation that Israel is bent on destroying al-Aksa mosque and building a Jewish temple on its ruins.


The demonic madness is fortified by the heroic profile the PA adopts in relation to the killing sprees and which Abbas refuses to condemn. The perpetrators are also aware that if they survive, the PA will pay them generous salaries in prison and provide pensions for their families. Under such circumstances, one would surely expect leaders of the civilized world to condemn these Arab murders of innocents. But aside from lip service condemning “violence,” world leaders and global organizations have, at best, adopted a sickening moral-relativist position in which Jewish victims are equated with their murderers.


Until now, the US took pride in defending Israel and proclaiming its shared values and common democratic Judeo-Christian heritage. Even though there were occasional policy differences between the countries, Israel considered itself a true ally of the US, irrespective of whether a Democrat or Republican occupied the Oval Office. Since Barack Obama was elected president, in his obsession to build bridges between the US and Islam he sought to demonstrate that there is daylight between Israel and America. His Third World outlook also led to his abandoning long-term US allies and groveling to Islamic fundamentalist terrorist states like Iran, mistakenly believing that appeasing them will make them more moderate.


Over the past month we have witnessed the climax of the US political abandonment of Israel. Obama, who repeatedly condemned Netanyahu for remarks made in the heat of an election even after he had clarified and withdrawn them, has emboldened the Palestinian extremists by failing to utter a single condemnation of Abbas for his vicious ongoing incitement and calls for Jewish blood. Worse still was Secretary of State John Kerry, frequently referred to as an “unguided missile,” who made a series of inexcusable, demented remarks.


He refused to apportion the blame for the killings and even hinted that the Israelis had brought the violence upon themselves. He related to “violence on both sides.” Both sides? He claimed that the Palestinian killings had been ignited by Palestinian “frustration” over the failure to negotiate a two-state solution and the “massive increase of settlements over the course of the last few years.” This bears no relevance to the facts as settlement building in the past few years has been dramatically reduced. The frenzied killers are unquestionably motivated by the incitement and lies being promoted insisting that Jews plan to destroy al-Aksa.


Kerry also demanded that the status quo at the Temple Mount be upheld “in word and deed,” knowing full well that this has constantly been the policy of the Netanyahu government. Such ambiguous statements gives credence to the Palestinian lies. State Department spokesman John Kirby even accused Israel of violating the status quo on the Temple Mount – and thus effectively also fanning the flames – and called on “both leaders” to combat the incitement which leads to a “cycle of violence.” He was subsequently forced to retract but the damage could not be undone. He also stated that the US had “seen some reports of security activity that could indicate the potential excessive use of force” against the psychotic killers.


To top off these outrageous outbursts, Obama made a statement assiduously avoiding use of the term “terrorist” and patronizingly endorsed Israel’s right to “protect its citizens from knife attacks” and “random violence.” He then spat in our faces by effectively blaming both Netanyahu and Abbas for the incitement. For Israel’s one true ally to descend to such Orwellian depths as placing the Israelis in the same category as religious fanatics orchestrating a killing spree is utterly contemptible and encourages the barbarians to accelerate their murderous activity, and the US administration thus assumes a share of responsibility for the murder of innocent Jews that will no doubt transpire in the days to come.


To compound matters, the White House critiques also serve as a green light for Europe to pressure Israel into making further unilateral concessions which would undermine its security.  Under diplomatic constraints, Netanyahu has instructed ministers not to respond to the shameful remarks by the administration and its spokesmen. But such restraints do not apply to American Jewish leaders. In the face of such a reprehensible attitude by the Obama administration to Israel at a time when psychotic murderers kill Jews in the streets, one would have expected the American Jewish community’s leadership to condemn their government and launch public protests.


American Jews continuously stress that in the US they can speak out as Jews without fear. Yet when it comes to criticizing Obama, despite the fact that the majority of the nation and both houses of Congress support Israel, a deafening silence envelops the Jewish leadership…

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





NO COUNTRY FOR JEWS?                                                                                                                            

Daniel Gordis

New York Daily News, Oct. 18, 2015


We have a young language instructor at Shalem College in Jerusalem, where I work. She's a religious Muslim who wears a hijab, lives in one of the Arab neighborhoods of Jerusalem and is a graduate student at Hebrew University. She's fun and warm, and a great teacher — the students like her a lot.


Late last spring, when things here were quiet, some of the students mentioned to the department chair that as much as they'd spoken with her over the past couple of years, they'd never discussed politics. They were curious what someone like her thought about the conflict in this region, especially now that she was teaching at an unabashedly Zionist college, had come to know so many Jewish students and had developed such warm relationships with them. How does someone like her see things here? How did she think we would one day be able to settle this conflict?


"So ask her," the department chair said. "As long as you speak to her in Arabic (she's on staff to help our students master the language), you can talk about anything you want." They did. They told her that since they'd never discussed the "situation" (as we metaphorically call it here in Israel), they were curious how she thought we might someday resolve it. "It's our land," she responded rather matter-of-factly. Stunned, they weren't sure that they'd heard her correctly. So they waited. But that was all she had to say. "It's our land. You're just here for now."


What upset those students more than anything was not that a Palestinian might believe that the Jews are simply the latest wave of Crusaders in this region, and that we, like the Crusaders of old, will one day be forced out. We all know that there are many Palestinians who believe that. What upset them was that she — an educated woman, getting a graduate degree (which would never happen in a Muslim country) at a world class university (only Israel has those — none of Israel's neighbors has a single highly rated university) and working at a college filled with Jews who admire her, like her and treat her as they would any other colleague — still believes that when it's all over, the situation will get resolved by our being tossed out of here once again.


Even she , who lives a life filled with opportunities that she would never have in an Arab country, still thinks at the end of the day the Jews are nothing but colonialists. And colonialists, she believes, don't last here. The British got rid of the Ottomans, the Jews got rid of the British — and one day, she believes, the Arabs will get rid of the Jews. That is one of the many reasons that this recent wave of violence, consisting mostly of deadly stabbings carried out by Israeli Arabs (not Palestinians living over the Green Line) and Arab residents of east Jerusalem, has Israelis so unsettled.


Yes, the reality on the ground is frightening. People are being stabbed on the street, on buses, in malls. Those being attacked are elderly men and women and young boys on their bicycles. No one is immune, and unlike the last Intifada, when suicide bombers sought high casualty counts so you felt safe away from crowds, now nowhere feels definitely safe. But even that is not the most debilitating dimension of this new round of attacks on Jews. What's most sobering is the fact that this new round of violence has made it clear, once again, that this conflict is simply never going to end.


What Israelis are coming to understand by virtue of the fact that the attackers are not Palestinians living in refugee camps but Israeli Arabs — who have access to Israeli health care, Israeli education, Israel's free press and right of assembly, protection for gays and lesbians and much more — is that this latest round of violence is simply the newest battle in the War of Independence that Israel has been fighting for 68 years now. The war began even before Israel was a state — Arabs attacked Israel not when David Ben-Gurion declared independence on May 14, 1948, but when the United Nations General Assembly voted — on November 29, 1947 — to create a Jewish state. When formal independence followed some six months later, the attacking Arab militias were replaced by standing armies of five Arab nations — Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon and even Iraq (which joined the fray even though it did not share a border with Israel).


Over the years, the enemies have shifted (Israel signed peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan, but now there are the Palestinians and Iran is both pursuing a weapon of mass destruction and declaring that Israel must be destroyed) and the methods have changed (standing Arab armies have been replaced by terrorism at home and an international campaign to delegitimize Israel in the UN and beyond). But the basic goal of Israel's enemies remains the destruction of the Jewish state. Increasingly, Israelis (who, polls show, overwhelmingly would like to get out of the West Bank and live peacefully alongside a Palestinian State that would recognize Israel) fear that while for us this is a conflict that can be settled by adjusting borders and guaranteeing security for both sides, for our enemies this is an all-or-nothing battle in which the only end would be for Israel to disappear.


Israel's iconic diplomat, Abba Eban, said in the early 1970s that "the Arabs never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity." It was, sadly, an apt observation. And it is still true. By joining the violence and responding to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' incitement (Abbas insists that he's not inciting, but that is patently false — if nothing else, his ludicrous claim that Israel is planning to change the status quo on the Temple Mount proved sufficient to inflame an entire region), Israeli Arabs have foolishly put themselves on the wrong side of history. Rather than take a page from Martin Luther King, Jr., perhaps protesting peacefully on behalf of other Palestinians, a violent minority has chosen to show its support for the larger Palestinian cause by attacking innocent Jews. And by and large, Israeli Arab leadership has been silent…

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





NETANYAHU, HUSSEINI, AND THE HISTORIANS                                                                                    

Jeffrey Herf

Times of Israel, Oct. 22, 2015


Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's comments about Haj Amin al-Husseini's impact on Hitler's decision-making about the Final Solution in Europe do not stand up to the consensus of historical research. Husseini's importance in Nazi Berlin lay far more in assisting the Third Reich's Arabic language propaganda toward the Arab world and in mobilizing Muslims in Eastern Europe to support the Nazi regime. That said, Netanayhu's comments about Husseini's lasting impact on Palestinian political culture are very much on the mark.


In his now famous comments at the World Zionist Congress in Jerusalem on October 20, Netanyahu claimed that Haj Amin al-Husseini convinced Hitler to change his anti-Jewish policy from one of expulsion to one of extermination. "Hitler didn't want to exterminate the Jews at the time [of the meeting between the mufti and the Nazi leader]. He wanted to expel the Jews," Netanyahu said. "And Haj Amin al-Husseini went to Hitler and said, 'If you expel them, they'll all come here [to mandatory Palestine],'" continued the prime minister. "'So what should I do with them?' He [Hitler] asked," according to Netanyahu. "He [Husseini] said, 'Burn them.'"


In the Knesset in 2012, the prime minister asserted that Husseini "was one of the leading architects of the Final Solution," and that "he, more than anybody else, convinced [Hitler] to execute the Final Solution, and not let the Jews leave [Europe]. Because, God forbid, they would come here. Rather that they would be annihilated, burned, there."


Having spent many years working on the history of modern Germany and on the period of Nazism and the Holocaust, I was surprised to see these quotes and this interpretation. I've never seen these comments cited before in the vast literature on the subject. This interpretation of the events of November 1941 is not supported by the scholarship on Holocaust decision-making. The prime minister overreached in his effort to push back against efforts to diminish Husseini's role as a collaborator and ideological soulmate with Nazi Germany.


As this newspaper has helpfully published the English translation of the German record of the meeting between Hitler and Husseini on November 28, 1941 in Berlin, I will place the conversation in historical context. Amidst the vast scholarship on Hitler's decisions to implement a Final Solution of the Jewish question in Europe, the work of two historians stands out in particular. In his 1991 study, Architect of Genocide: Himmler and the Final Solution, Richard Breitman drew on Himmler's appointment calendar to make a compelling argument for an "early" decision, that is, one that was emerging in spring 1941 before the invasion of the Soviet Union and became more obvious with the Einsatzgruppen murders that began immediately after that invasion in June 1941.


Subsequently, Christopher Browning, in works that are summarized in The Origins of the Final Solution: The Evolution of Nazi Jewish Policy, September 1939-March 1942, addressed in more detail the evolution of Hitler's thinking and decision-making. Browning's now widely accepted conclusion is that in the midst of "euphoria" over the seeming victory over the Red Army in summer 1941, Hitler took a series of decisions to implement the Final Solution at the latest by October 1941. The historical reconstruction of the decision-making process is complex and well beyond the scope of a newspaper column. There is no substitute for reading Breitman and Browning along with the synthesis of the issue in Saul Friedlander's second volume of Nazi Germany and the Jews, 1933-1945: The Years of Extermination.


In my own The Jewish Enemy: Nazi Propaganda during World War II and the Holocaust, a study of propaganda within Germany, I pointed out that by summer and early fall of 1941 Hitler's fiction of an international Jewish conspiracy waging war against Germany, a fiction which Hitler had repeatedly mentioned since a speech in the Reichstag on January 30, 1939, seemed in his own eyes to be taking shape in the form of the alliance of Britain with the Soviet Union following his invasion of Russia in June 1941. The anti-Hitler coalition confirmed in his mind the truth of his conspiracy theory. As "international Jewry" appeared intent on waging a war of extermination against Germany, so he would "exterminate the Jewish race" in Europe in retaliation. He had been discussing these ideas since early 1939. They reached a fever pitch in summer and early fall of 1941 before he met with Husseini…

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


CIJR Wishes All Our Friends & Supporters: Shabbat Shalom!



On Topic


Canada Loses a Moral Compass: Michael Rubin, Commentary, Oct. 20, 2015  — Apparently antagonized by Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s sometimes-brash leadership style and itching for change after almost a decade of conservative rule, Canadians have delivered Harper a surprising and decisive defeat at the polls.

Benghazi: Where Was Hillary?: Wall Street Journal, Oct. 20, 2015 — American Enterprise Institute Senior Fellow John Bolton on former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s conduct on the night four Americans were murdered.

The Paranoid, Supremacist Roots of the Stabbing Intifada: Jeffrey Goldberg, The Atlantic, Oct. 16, 2015  — In September of 1928, a group of Jewish residents of Jerusalem placed a bench in front of the Western Wall of the Temple Mount, for the comfort of elderly worshipers.

A Path Out of the Middle East Collapse: Henry A. Kissinger, Wall Street Journal, Oct. 16, 2015 — The debate about whether the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action with Iran regarding its nuclear program stabilized the Middle East’s strategic framework had barely begun when the region’s geopolitical framework collapsed.







Beth Tikvah Synagogue & CIJR Present: The Annual Sabina Citron International Conference: THE JEWISH THOUGHT OF EMIL L. FACKENHEIM: JUDAISM, ZIONISM, HOLOCAUST, ISRAEL — Toronto, Sunday, October 25, 2015, 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. The day-long Beth Tikvah Conference, co-chaired by Prof. Frederick Krantz (CIJR) and Rabbi Jarrod R. Grover (Beth Tikvah), open to the public and especially to students, features original papers by outstanding Canadian and international scholars, some his former students, on the many dimensions of Emil L. Fackenheim's exceptionally powerful, and prophetic thought, and on his rich life and experience. Tickets: Regular – $36; Seniors – $18; students free. For registration, information, conference program, and other queries call 1-855-303-5544 or email yunna@isranet.org. Visit our site: www.isranet.org/events.


Back to the Future, With the Kid: Margaret Wente, Globe & Mail, Oct. 20, 2015— A moment came during the red tidal wave Monday night when a friend turned to me in awe.

Obama’s Afghan Reversal: Wall Street Journal, Oct. 15, 2015 — If there is a single element of consistency in President Obama’s foreign policy it is his desire to end and avoid U.S. military engagements.

Plan B for Libya: Gal Luft, American Interest, Oct. 1, 2015— The September 20 deadline for establishing a unity government in war-torn Libya ahead of the UN General Assembly meeting came and went …

Assassination Attempt in Tunisia Highlights Mounting Challenges: Farah Samti & Kareem Fahim, New York Times, Oct. 9, 2015 — Hours before the Norwegian Nobel Committee gave its highest-profile honor to a coalition of Tunisian groups …


On Topic Links


America’s Failed Foreign Policy: Margaret Wente, National Post, Oct. 20, 2015

Obama Deploys Troops to Cameroon to Fight Boko Haram: Frances Martel, Breitbart, Oct. 15, 2015

Mideast Turmoil Strengthens Sudan’s Regime: Yaroslav Trofimov, Wall Street Journal, Oct. 15, 2015

Toward a Post-Obama Middle East: Conrad Black, National Review, Oct. 7, 2015



BACK TO THE FUTURE, WITH THE KID                                                                                 

Margaret Wente                                                                                                  

Globe & Mail, Oct. 20, 2015


A moment came during the red tidal wave Monday night when a friend turned to me in awe. The CBC’s seat counter had just clicked past 180 for the Liberals. “Oh my God,” she said. “What have we done?” No one, even diehard Conservatives, doubted that Stephen Harper deserved to lose. But even diehard Liberals wonder if Justin Trudeau deserved to win a majority government on his very first try, without the customary test of having to prove himself in Opposition, or, for that matter, any other responsible post in government. It’s like giving your kid the keys to the Ferrari before he’s finished driving lessons.


“I never thought this was in the realm of possibility,” one voter told the CBC. “I wanted the young son to squeak in and be supported by maybe more experienced people.” “Oh well,” said one of my Liberal friends cheerily. “At least he’ll have adult supervision.”


No one called this one. What happened was a snowball that picked up momentum as it went. During the last few days of the campaign it became a monster. The opinion polls were accurate about the fate of the Conservatives. What they didn’t catch was the dramatic collapse of the New Democratic Party. People decided Justin was the best anti-Harper and stampeded over to his side. And that is how Tom Mulcair’s dreams of glory melted in an instant.


All of a sudden Canada’s political alignment looks a lot like it did 30 years ago – before the Harper decade, before the fragmentation of the right, before Happy Jack Layton created the hope that the NDP could be something more than an also-ran. The Liberals and Conservatives have most of the seats, and the PM is a handsome guy named Trudeau with three photogenic kids and a gorgeous wife. Break out those bell-bottoms and love beads. The ’70s are back! This is not a bad outcome. A strong, stable majority government with a healthy opposition will give us four blissfully election-free years. There will be none of the nail-biting uncertainty that afflicts a minority government. The Governor-General can return to his ceremonial duties. The Conservatives will regroup, rethink and rebuild. One day they’ll be contenders again.


So what will Prime Minister Trudeau do with all that horsepower? His policy proposals (which many voters are only dimly aware of) are also a blast from the past. Expand the government. Tax breaks for the usual suspects, especially the sacred middle class (on top of the tax breaks they’ve been showered with for the past 10 years). Soak the rich some more and pretend it makes a difference. Deficit spending, whether or not we need it, on infrastructure projects that may or may not help the economy. But no idea of how to get our landlocked oil to markets, or any comprehensive plan to spur innovation and economic growth.


Mr. Trudeau’s foreign policy ideas are naive and nostalgic. They harken back to the golden age of peacekeeping and multilateralism, as if blue berets and good intentions could defeat Islamic State. Those ideas resonate with voters, because they like to think of Canada as a force for good in the world. Unfortunately, the world is a nastier, messier place than it used to be, and niceness does not go very far.


One of the few people to see the landslide coming was Brian Mulroney, a political junkie who knows every one of Canada’s 338 ridings inside-out. He has warned that Mr. Trudeau is a man of consequence, and last week he was telling friends to expect something big. Mr. Mulroney should know – it was a landslide that swept him into office in 1984, giving him the biggest majority in history. The joke was that if the election had lasted two weeks longer, he would have taken every single seat. (The tide went out in 1993, when his Progressive Conservatives were reduced to a pathetic two seats.)


“I ran and was successful because I wasn’t Pierre Trudeau,” Mr. Mulroney said Monday night. “Jean Chrétien ran and was successful because he wasn’t Brian Mulroney, and Justin Trudeau tonight was successful because he wasn’t Stephen Harper.” It’s high tide for Mr. Trudeau now. Does he have the smarts and instincts to make the most of it? We’ll have four years to find out. And I, for one, wish him well.






Wall Street Journal, Oct. 15, 2015


If there is a single element of consistency in President Obama’s foreign policy it is his desire to end and avoid U.S. military engagements. In 2011 he withdrew the final U.S. troops from Iraq. He had planned to do the same in Afghanistan, but on Thursday the President hit the pause button. For now, 9,800 American boots will remain on Afghan soil.


Mr. Obama is to be commended for changing his mind. He has been building a reputation for being impervious to counterargument, and here he listened to his generals. Senior officers earlier recommended that the U.S. keep up to 20,000 troops in Afghanistan, warning that a lesser number would put the fledgling Afghan army at risk from the Taliban. Those warnings became reality last month when the Taliban overran Kunduz, a major city in northern Afghanistan. With U.S. air support, the Afghans recaptured Kunduz, but Islamist fighters still threaten elsewhere. Fighting has broken out in a third of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces, with the terrorists, who now include Islamic State fighters, threatening Ghazni, another major city not far from Kabul. Last week U.S. forces led a sweep in southern Kandahar province against two large al Qaeda training camps.


It is possible that what drove Mr. Obama’s decision was concern that an Afghanistan overrun by terrorists, as ISIS had done in western Iraq, would leave his foreign-policy reputation in tatters. In a remarkably weary announcement Thursday, Mr. Obama said, “As you are all well aware, I do not support the idea of endless war.” The irony is that Mr. Obama is likely to bequeath “endless war” in the Middle East and Afghanistan to his successor. The central issue now is whether the Administration will do enough militarily in Afghanistan to ensure that the war inherited by the next President isn’t worse than it is today.


Mr. Obama said the U.S. military mission will remain primarily “supporting counterterrorism operations against the remnants of al-Qaeda.” Surely this understates the nature and scale of the current threat to Afghanistan. It is also troubling to note that Mr. Obama restated his goal of reducing U.S. troop levels there to 5,500 by January 2017. Press reports are calling this a “reversal,” given his prior goal of only 1,000 residual forces by then. But will even 5,500 troops prevent the Taliban, al Qaeda and ISIS fighters from taking large swaths of Afghanistan?


The U.S. continues to have some 29,000 troops in South Korea, 62 years after its war with the North ended. Their presence has kept the peace and allowed East Asia to flourish. If instead Mr. Obama gives the Afghans inadequate support, “endless war” will run deep into the next American Presidency. 





PLAN B FOR LIBYA                                                                                                            

Gal Luft                                                                                                              

American Interest, Oct. 1, 2015


The September 20 deadline for establishing a unity government in war-torn Libya ahead of the UN General Assembly meeting came and went, and reconciliation between Libya's internationally recognized parliament based in Tobruk and the rival leadership, the new General National Congress (GNC), in Tripoli, was nowhere on the horizon. Anyone who is surprised by this just hasn't been paying attention.


Reuniting the Libyan militias has been the West's only endgame for Libya since the oil-rich country slid into a civil war following the 2011 removal of Muammar Qaddafi by a select coalition of NATO countries led by Britain, France, and the United States. But this outcome does not seem to be getting any closer. Indeed, things have gotten much worse.


During the 12 months in which the UN Special Envoy for Libya, Spanish Diplomat Bernadino Leon, labored to hammer out a deal, the country became a destination for ISIS fighters taking advantage of the chaos on the ground. The fact that a UN arms embargo prevents weapons transfers to either the Tobruk or Tripoli governments means that ISIS fighters have a distinct advantage: Where two fight, a third may win out. In June, ISIS temporarily took over the city of Sirte on the coast of the Mediterranean, and several days ago a group of their suicide terrorists attacked Libya's international airport in Tripoli, killing three people.


To make matters worse, the lack of functioning government and border controls had enabled many thousands of migrants from North and Sub-Saharan Africa to cross the Mediterranean into Europe, exacerbating Europe's migrant crisis.


Neither the continuation of ISIS's expansion in Libya nor the persistence of the flow of African migrants are options the U.S. government and those of the European Union can tolerate. It is time to thank Leon for his noble efforts and recognize the reality that the only realistic solution one can aspire to at the moment is the division of Libya into two independent national entities.


Following Leon's maneuvering in Libya over the past year, one always got the false impression that a deal to stabilize the country was just around the corner. A draft proposal on forming a national unity government would be put forth; the two sides would stall in approving it; they would then suggest amendments which, in turn, would get rejected; and public protests would then lead the rival factions to back down. And so it went, and so it goes. The appearance of progress when in fact there is none has served as eyewash as Libya has fallen ever deeper into chaos—and as the flow of migrants through Libya to Europe intensifies.


The failure of the Leon doctrine is not a testament to his less-than-stellar mediation skills but rather a reflection of a far deeper reality: the inability of the rival factions to accept the concept of shared governance over the country. Indeed, they don't even genuinely recognize the notion that Libya is a country.


What has complicated the West's efforts to reunite Libya is the senseless characterization of the Tripoli government as "Islamist." In our day and age there is no better way to delegitimize a group than to label it as Islamist. This is exactly what happened to the GNC. While the Tobruk government enjoyed broad international recognition and free access to international forums, only Turkey and Qatar recognize the Tripoli government, and its leaders cannot even travel abroad freely. But the notion that Tripoli is more Islamist than the other groups vying for control over Libya—not the least other groups and regimes throughout the Middle East that the West is happy to embrace—is bogus. When it comes to Islamist tendencies, all tribes are more or less cut from the same cloth. By not recognizing those who are in command of most of the country's institutions and strategic assets—paradoxically, the salaries of Libya's diplomatic staff representing the Tobruk government all over the world are drawn from the coffers in Tripoli—and who also contributed their fair share to Qaddafi's removal, the West is undermining any chance for stabilization. Equally delusional is the idea toyed with by some American and European operatives of installing a Western backed Libyan expat who would miraculously rally the tribes behind him. Wasn't the Ahmed Chalabi mirage in Iraq enough?


Now, when the deadline for reunification is passed, it is time to consider a Plan B for Libya. This plan should draw from the country's history. Back in the early 20th century the territory of today's Libya was split into three self-governing regions: Cyrenaica, which was located in eastern Libya, more or less in the region controlled today by the Tobruk government, and Tripolitania, situated today in some of the area controlled by the GNC. The third was Fezzan, which was and still is an inhospitable desert region in the southwest sparsely populated by Arab and Berber tribes. Some version of this arrangement, which lasted until 1963 during the reign of King Idris I, should be considered today.


Washington and Brussels should first recognize the Tripoli government and treat it as a legitimate party. They should then work to hammer out an agreement with the factions to form an orderly division of Libya into two separate entities, under the condition that these two will work—separately and jointly—to combat the spread of ISIS in North Africa. They also need to cooperate in active measures to create a virtual wall along Libya's coastline to thwart additional migration into Europe. To this end the Libyan navy and coast guard should be reconstituted, and the arms embargo should be gradually lifted to allow security forces to effectively take on ISIS.


In his UN speech this past week, President Obama boasted of America's achievement in Libya. But he admitted, "Our coalition could have, and should have, done more to fill a vacuum left behind." And then he somewhat incongruously promised, "In such efforts, the United States will always do our part." Thinking again on how to fill the vacuum, Obama should take note of a 2006 proposal by the senior Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee—namely, his Vice President, Joe Biden. Then-Senator Biden proposed that Iraq be divided into three separate regions—Kurdish, Shi'a, and Sunni. At the time the U.S. government and its allies were still consumed by dreams of forming a democratic heaven on the Tigris, and the idea was dismissed. A decade later it no longer sounds so bizarre. Let us hope that, when it comes to Libya, it will take the West less time to recognize that sometimes a divided country is better than a broken and hopeless one.               





HIGHLIGHTS MOUNTING CHALLENGES                                                                                               

Farah Samti & Kareem Fahim

New York Times, Oct. 9, 2015


Hours before the Norwegian Nobel Committee gave its highest-profile honor to a coalition of Tunisian groups that had helped ease the country’s path to democracy, unknown gunmen attacked a member of Tunisia’s Parliament, firing seven or eight shots at his car as he drove to work in a seaside town. The assailants missed their target. But the attack…was an urgent reminder of the violence that still menaces Tunisia’s transition, one of many challenges to the country’s significant and celebrated political gains.


The threat against prominent political figures, by shadowy militant groups, is among the government’s deepest worries: Twice in the last two years, high-profile assassinations have thrown Tunisia into political crisis. This year, the country has also grappled with an unprecedented wave of jihadist violence, including two large-scale attacks on tourists that killed at least 60 people and helped plunge the economy into recession.


In a country still wrestling with its authoritarian past, the attacks have provoked anguished arguments about how much power the government and the police should wield to confront the threats. Other debates — about the economic direction of the country, and its ability to come to terms with a legacy of past abuses — have exposed divisions between old elites and newer political forces empowered by the uprising in late 2010 against the 23-year dictatorship of Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali.


The challenges are testing not only the young government but also the compromise between secular and Islamist parties that is at the heart of Tunisia’s inchoate political system and is frequently held up as a model for the Arab world. Talk of Tunisia’s success is frequently attributed to its relatively peaceful transition, especially set against the violent struggles of other countries in the region, including Syria, Yemen and neighboring Libya. That contrast often overlooks an arduous road that began in December 2010, when a Tunisian fruit vendor named Mohammed Bouazizi lit himself on fire, in an act of despair that resonated throughout the Arab world.


Days after Mr. Bouazizi died in January 2011, mass protests forced Mr. Ben Ali into exile. The Islamist Ennahda Party won the most votes in parliamentary elections that October but fell short of a majority. The group promised that its own Islamist program would not overwhelm the country’s deeply ingrained secular politics, and it also promised to build, as one Ennhada official put it, a “charismatic, democratic system.”


But a backlash against Ennahda paralleled events in Egypt, where huge demonstrations led to a military coup in 2013 against the year-old government of President Mohamed Morsi, a leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, now banned.


The four groups honored with the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday helped Tunisia avert the civil strife that led to hundreds of deaths in Egypt. They helped Tunisia negotiate its way through the most serious threat to its nascent transition: the crisis that followed the assassinations of two opposition politicians, Chokri Belaid and Mohamed Brahmi, in 2013. Giant protests that summer threatened to topple the Ennahda-led government. But the Islamists refused to cede power until they completed their mandate to pass a new Constitution. The impasse began to destabilize the country as the government grappled with jihadist militancy, popular unrest and strikes, and a worsening economy.


After months of sometimes heated negotiations, a deal, concluded in December 2013, forged a new contract between the political parties, including a timetable for a democratic transition. The Islamist government agreed to step down and hand power to a caretaker government that would oversee the holding of parliamentary and presidential elections in October and November 2014. The adoption of the Constitution, in January 2014, was seen as a high point in the transition, producing a charter forged from robust debates between Tunisia’s disparate political currents, and that enshrined democratic principles and a separation of powers.


Compromises by two men — Rached Ghannouchi, the leader of the Islamist Ennahda party, and Beji Caid Essebsi, one of the founders of the secularist Nidaa Tounes party, and Tunisia’s current president — ended the impasse, analysts say. Despite that achievement, the basis of their compromise remains fragile: “It is very much a consensus from the top — often against elements of their base,” said Issandr El Amrani, who oversees the North Africa Project for the International Crisis Group. As both leaders manage the pressures from within their own ranks, the government has been criticized for lacking a sense of direction and dynamism as well as for failing to tackle urgent issues, Mr. Amrani said. “This worries people.”…


The Parliament member who survived the assassination attempt on Thursday, Ridha Charfeddine, 63, is a member of Nidaa Tounes and also a prominent businessman who owns a soccer team. The gunmen, riding in the back seat of a white car, attacked him in an industrial section of Sousse, on Tunisia’s eastern coast, according to the Interior Ministry. Sousse is the same beachside town where a 23-year-old Tunisian gunman slaughtered 38 people, mostly British tourists, in June. It was Tunisia’s worst terrorist attack in living memory. “This is not an isolated incident,” Mohsen Marzouk, the general secretary of Nidaa Tounes, said in an interview with a local radio station after the gunfire. He said the gunmen belonged to an organized movement, but he did not identify it.


As the political violence and jihadist attacks have unnerved the public, they have also given rise to fears about the state’s reaction. The police have reasserted themselves in response to the attacks, despite growing reports of human rights abuses and a lack of coherent strategy to reform the security services, Mr. Amrani said. In the aftermath of the attack on the tourists in Sousse, the government also started closing dozens of mosques — prompting concern that Mr. Essebsi’s secular government, with its strong connections to the old dictatorship, was reviving the crackdowns on Islamists that occurred during Mr. Ben Ali’s rule. The government closed at least 80 mosques, though none of them had any connection to the gunman in Sousse, officials said.                                               




On Topic


America’s Failed Foreign Policy: Margaret Wente, National Post, Oct. 20, 2015—U.S. President Barack Obama’s decision to maintain American troops in Afghanistan was the correct move made under difficult circumstances.

Obama Deploys Troops to Cameroon to Fight Boko Haram: Frances Martel, Breitbart, Oct. 15, 2015 —President Obama announced Wednesday that 300 U.S. troops will be deployed to Cameroon to fight the ISIS-affiliated Boko Haram terrorist group.

Mideast Turmoil Strengthens Sudan’s Regime: Yaroslav Trofimov, Wall Street Journal, Oct. 15, 2015—When it briefly looked as if Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir would be detained in June on an International Criminal Court warrant in South Africa…

Toward a Post-Obama Middle East: Conrad Black, National Review, Oct. 7, 2015 —In the week in which the Russians escalated their attacks on the Syrian factions being assisted by the United States and what is left of the Western Alliance, and Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas renounced the long-dead letter of the Oslo Agreement…








Beth Tikvah Synagogue & CIJR Present: The Annual Sabina Citron International Conference: THE JEWISH THOUGHT OF EMIL L. FACKENHEIM: JUDAISM, ZIONISM, HOLOCAUST, ISRAEL — Toronto, Sunday, October 25, 2015, 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. The day-long Beth Tikvah Conference, co-chaired by Prof. Frederick Krantz (CIJR) and Rabbi Jarrod R. Grover (Beth Tikvah), open to the public and especially to students, features original papers by outstanding Canadian and international scholars, some his former students, on the many dimensions of Emil L. Fackenheim's exceptionally powerful, and prophetic thought, and on his rich life and experience. Tickets: Regular – $36; Seniors – $18; students free. For registration, information, conference program, and other queries call 1-855-303-5544 or email yunna@isranet.org. Visit our site: www.isranet.org/events.


The Time Has Come to Consider Drastic Action: Isi Leibler, Candidly Speaking, Oct. 14, 2015 — Like most Israelis, I am proud that we remain one of the most democratic countries in the world, despite being surrounded by a sea of barbarism and facing continuous threats to our existence by hostile neighbors.

The Social Right to See Each Other’s Faces: Barbara Kay, National Post, Oct. 13, 2015— My 10-year old granddaughter is an empathic child, easily distressed by tales of human or animal suffering.

The NDP’s Anti-Israel Grassroots: Pat Johnson, National Post, Aug. 20, 2015 — Part of the Conservative party’s strategy against the New Democrats in this election includes the website Meetthendp.ca, which aggregates controversial statements by NDP candidates.

Proud to be a Canadian: Dan Illouz, Jerusalem Post, Aug. 13, 2015 — I am Canadian. I was born in Montreal, raised in Montreal and graduated high school, college and law school in Montreal.


On Topic Links


Israeli Arab Reporter Lucy Aharish Blasts Muslim and Arab Leaders: The Israel Project, Oct. 14, 2015

Lethal Lies: Jerusalem Post, Oct. 14, 2015

Why this Socialist Will Vote For Harper: Tarek Fatah, Toronto Sun, Oct. 13, 2015

NDP Candidates Under Fire For Comments About Israel: Jodie Shupac, CJN, Aug. 15, 2015



THE TIME HAS COME TO CONSIDER DRASTIC ACTION                                                            

Isi Leibler

Candidly Speaking, Oct. 14, 2015


Like most Israelis, I am proud that we remain one of the most democratic countries in the world, despite being surrounded by a sea of barbarism and facing continuous threats to our existence by hostile neighbors. But the nation today is facing a serious threat, not from external adversaries but from elements of Arab-Israeli society that have been incited by their kinsmen in the Palestinian Authority and Hamas to engage in frenzied attacks against their Jewish neighbors. The levels of incitement and calls to become martyrs “for Allah” have reached such a feverish pitch that in addition to rock throwing, impressionable Arab-Israeli youngsters are now engaged in indiscriminate stabbings and acts of mayhem against Jews.


Significantly, the ongoing attacks are not restricted to communities over the Green Line and have occurred in Jerusalem, Jaffa, Petach Tikva, Afula, Kiryat Gat and Raanana. PA anti-Israeli incitement makes no distinction between Israelis living behind or beyond the Green Line. The demonic level of the incitement is reflected in the spontaneous street parties and public celebrations that erupt whenever an innocent civilian has been murdered. Pictures of murdered Israelis are shared on social media and proud parents of “shaheeds” bless their children for their martyrdom initiatives on official PA-sponsored TV.


A key source of this vicious hysteria emanates from our “peace partner,” Mahmoud Abbas, who denies that a Jewish Temple ever existed in Jerusalem and accuses Israelis of “contaminating” and “defiling” Al-Aqsa mosque with their “filthy feet” as well as plotting to demolish it. Abbas has refused to condemn the attacks, his military factions claim credit for the murders, and the PA media boasts stabbings and murders as heroic acts and a prelude to eliminating Jewish sovereignty in the region. In fact, Abbas himself publicly sanctified the murderers, stating, “We bless you. We welcome every drop of blood spilled in Jerusalem. This is pure blood, clean blood, blood on its way to Allah. With the help of Allah every shaheed will be in heaven and every wounded will get his reward.”


After the stabbing of the 13 year old boy in Pisgat Zeev, the official PA spokesman accused Israelis of executing his assailant – who was hailed as a hero.  In a deliberate and successful attempt to incite further terrorism, pictures were posted on PA sponsored media comparing the terrorist to Muhammad Al Dura, the young boy falsely claimed to have been shot by Israeli forces, images of which laid the groundwork for the second intifada. However, speaking with a forked tongue, Abbas persists in telling the Western media that he seeks peace. Despite threats to the contrary, he has not disbanded the PA security forces – knowing that were he to do so and were the IDF to withdraw, Hamas would immediately take over the region.


With the eruption of this wave of violence and the death of innocent Israeli civilians, the response – or lack thereof – from world leaders is deplorable. The U.S., claiming to be an ally of Israel, was especially disappointing as President Barack Obama arranged that Secretary of State John Kerry and U.N. Ambassador Samantha Power absent themselves when Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed the U.N. General Assembly – a calculated insult to Israel. Secretary of State John Kerry declined to apportion blame but attributed Palestinian “frustration” to Israel’s ongoing settlement construction and the White House spokesman expressed condemnation of violence directed against “Israeli and Palestinian civilians,” disgustingly implying a moral equivalence between terrorists and innocent Israeli victims.


UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon had the chutzpa of calling on Israel to review the “excessive force” he alleged it was employing against terrorists. Likewise, the Quartet “called upon all parties to exercise restraint, refrain from provocative actions and rhetoric, and preserve unchanged the status quo at the holy sites in both word and practice.” The British foreign secretary called for an end to the occupation. His French counterpart announced his intention to pursue a resolution at the next meeting of the U.N. Security Council demanding a freeze on all “settlement” construction, including in Jerusalem and the settlement blocs that even Abbas had initially conceded Israel would retain. All of this obviously encourages the Palestinians to intensify terrorism. These attacks do not constitute an existential threat to Israel and we have overcome far greater threats of terrorism.


But now we face a dangerous new phenomenon with the emergence of extremist Arab-Israeli elements supporting enemies of the state. In the past, hostile Arab-Israeli proclamations and demonstrations were basically ignored. But that has now changed with the violence and killings by crazed Arab-Israelis aspiring to become martyrs and it has raised profoundly greater tensions within society which can no longer be dismissed.


In light of this, the government and Zionist parties in opposition must temporarily set aside conventional political differences and achieve a consensus on measures required to stem the new threat of mushrooming Arab-Israeli terrorism. In this context, restrictions and compromises relating to unfettered freedom of speech and activity will be required to prevent incitement and enable Israeli citizens to live in security…

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






THE SOCIAL RIGHT TO SEE EACH OTHER’S FACES                                                                              

Barbara Kay                                                                                                        

National Post, Oct. 13, 2015


My 10-year old granddaughter is an empathic child, easily distressed by tales of human or animal suffering. Yet in her chosen Hallowe’en costume she will appear to be carrying her head and a “blood”-stained plastic meat cleaver after having been decapitated. I don’t see her as a future recruit to ISIL, though. One needn’t be a psychiatrist to understand that Hallowe’en acts as a healthy safety valve in managing childish fears. But even a 10-year old understands that while anti-social costumes are received with good cheer on Oct. 31, they would be inappropriate at other times.


You can see where I’m headed here. To the vexation of most Canadian pundits, self-masking as a cultural norm bloomed into a hot-button issue in this election campaign. The debate continues to rage. I’m an old hand in this battle. As I have taken a hard-line stance in support of banning face cover in the public sector for years, I have read and heard and amassed in my inbox every imaginable strenuously argued rebuttal to my position. Hallowe’en’s approach seems the right time to dismiss them once and for all as the red herrings they are.


What I find to be the common denominator amongst the pro-niqab crowd is confusion around the social significance of masking. My malcomprehending opponents divide into two distinct categories. The first understands the niqab narrowly, as a religiously obligated appurtenance not essentially different from the wimple, kippah, hijab, sheitel (a wig worn by ultra-Orthodox women) and the turban. These critics (including the normally savvy pundit Evan Solomon in Maclean’s, I was chagrined to see) argue along the slippery-slope worry lines of: “niqab today, sheitel tomorrow.” To those slippery-slope email correspondents I respond (but in more restrained language), “What part of [profanity] FACE COVER do you not understand?” Face cover is neither the equivalent of, or on a downward slope from the hijab, kippah or wimple; it is a new, unique, and aggressive form of social disappearance.


In any case the alleged slippery slope has been tested. In her proposed Charter of Values, former PQ leader Pauline Marois encouraged intolerance for all religious accessories in the public sector. She and her Charter were handily rebuffed. Yet opposition to the niqab alone remained firm, and is now passing into Quebec law. In the second category are those who triumphantly adduce other forms of face cover as though they were analogous to niqabs. What about Hallowe’en? Ski masks? Surgical masks? Full-head motorcycle helmets? Hockey goalies? We don’t ban them! Ergo …


Hallowe’en, as I have implied, is performance theatre, when personal disappearance is permitted via a social contract between those who conceal their identity and those who consent to be “scared” by it. The same goes for horror films, costume balls and the like. These are controlled environments in which players and audience tacitly agree to permit faux-menace for entertainment’s sake; the collective complicity precludes anxiety and adds a fillip of pleasure to the exercise.


The others: These are masks worn transiently for protective purposes everyone understands as legitimate — from cold and infection, against wind and flying objects — in, again, a controlled, limited environment. When the skier leaves the hill and enters the lodge, he removes his mask. When the surgeon enters the recovery room to speak to the patient, he removes his mask. When the motorcycle rider parks, he removes his helmet. When the hockey game ends, the goalie flips up his mask. In fact, these false analogies are not only unpersuasive, they are actually petards to hoist their champions. In every case, the mask-wearer is scrupulously careful to ensure that his mask is removed the moment that it is no longer practically necessary, because he is well aware he then no longer meets the criteria for respectful self-presentation to his fellow citizens…

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





THE NDP’S ANTI-ISRAEL GRASSROOTS                                                                                

Pat Johnson          

National Post, Aug. 20, 2015


Part of the Conservative party’s strategy against the New Democrats in this election includes the website Meetthendp.ca, which aggregates controversial statements by NDP candidates. Already the site has led to one Nova Scotia New Democrat being relieved of his candidacy — and presumably the Tories are saving their best fodder for later in the long campaign. A number of the comments posted so far centre on Israel. Some NDP candidates accuse Israel of “ethnic cleansing” and “war crimes” and call for a boycott of the Jewish state. Another talks about how good he felt supporting the murderous First Intifada.


The NDP’s response so far — cutting loose the young Nova Scotia candidate — will almost certainly not be the last time their hands are forced in response to oppo research by the Tories. The social media response, including from NDP supporters, has been predictable: Leader Thomas Mulcair is caving to pressure from the Zionists who, in the inevitable spiral of online discourse, morph into caricatures of Jewish power and control.


What we’re witnessing, in fact, is a realignment that is necessary if the NDP is ever to be a legitimate aspirant for government — and Mulcair knows this. He cannot form a government that includes the radical crazies whose mania about Israel represents a sort of far-left Tea Party that holds sway with the grassroots, but which threatens the party’s legitimacy among general election voters. Grassroots New Democrats with any sense of history or humanity need to recognize that this process of taking the party back from anti-Israel extremists is essential to returning the party to its true, progressive roots. They should not condemn it, but welcome it.


The “pro-Palestinian” movement, as it now exists, has no place in a progressive political party. Its tactics and positions are antithetical to progressive values. The “pro-Palestinian” movement has cleverly co-opted the language of peace and human rights, but it promotes the (violent, if necessary) destruction of Israel. It exhibits zero concern for human rights violations perpetrated by Hamas and Fatah against Palestinian women, gays, minorities or anyone else. It shamelessly makes common cause with the most misogynist, homophobic forces in the world, those who obliterate basic human rights and freedoms, use their own citizens as human shields in wartime and who tolerate none of the collective bargaining or other labour rights that are sacrosanct to most “pro-Palestinian” activists here. And they do this while accusing others of “blind,” “uncritical” support for Israel.


The so-called “pro-Palestinian” movement has made life worse, not better, for generations of Palestinians. It has prolonged violence and statelessness by goading Palestinians into expecting nothing but total victory — the violent eradication of the State of Israel — instead of demanding coexistence and peace. This is a movement that thrives on confrontation and violence — even here in Canada. It hates compromise, reviles the concept of mutual coexistence with Jews and seeks the elimination of the only thriving democracy in the Middle East. It rejoices in rubbing salt in historical wounds by manipulating the imagery of the Holocaust and Nazism against the Jewish state and people.


It would be one thing if the movement took a two-pronged approach — demanding an end to Israeli occupation while pressuring the Palestinians toward human rights, democracy and the kind of economic growth that would result immediately from coexistence with Israel. But it doesn’t. “Pro-Palestinian” activists are perfectly contented to see Palestinians oppressed and destitute, as long as the oppressors are Arab. There’s a special kind of racism in this. But this is key to understanding the continuing conflict: the Palestinians have never really been the issue. The issue is the Jewish state. Few “pro-Palestinians” care about building a Palestinian state; their obsession is dismantling the Jewish one. Carriers of such an ideology have no place in a progressive movement. The NDP is finally recognizing this, albeit with a hand from the Tory attack machine.




PROUD TO BE A CANADIAN                                                                                             

Dan Illouz

Jerusalem Post, Aug. 13, 2015


I am Canadian. I was born in Montreal, raised in Montreal and graduated high school, college and law school in Montreal. The values I grew up on were both Jewish and Canadian values. While I now live in Israel, I still hold dear these values which made me into who I am today.  As a Canadian, I was always proud of the great stories of Canadian heroism which we were taught in school. Canada has a long history of standing up for freedom. Unfortunately, until recently, it felt only like history.


For example, when the free world was threatened in the Second World War, Canada carried out a vital role in defending the Free World and contributed forces beyond what can be expected of a small nation of then only 11 million people. Between 1939 and 1945 more than one million Canadian men and women served full-time in the armed services! More than 42,000 were tragically killed while heroically defending freedom and Canadian values. Canada was a lighthouse for freedom, with a clear moral compass and showing the world how a small country that is ready to stand up for what is right can make a real difference. However, in the past few decades, Canada became the country of neutrality.


Canada started adopting policies that were more appropriate to Swiss values than Canadian values. Instead of standing up for freedom, Canada stayed away from big questions of international relations, preferring the safe route of consensus and neutrality to the tough battle for freedom and values. By trying to please everyone, Canada’s moral voice was silenced. Canadians were seen as “nice and friendly” but nothing more. They had no voice.


This was true until Stephen Harper became prime minister. Since then, Canada has regained its voice and its moral clarity. It has regained its moral leadership. Prime Minister Harper once said that “Canada is not just any country, but a people determined to do right – compassionate neighbors, courageous warriors, and confident partners; a bastion of freedom in an unfree world.” Since becoming prime minister, Harper has made sure that this statement would be a continuing reality.


In the Middle East, Harper has led the world with his moral clarity. With the rise of Islamic State, Canada immediately agreed to contribute troops to defeat this evil group. How can a freedom-loving country do anything else? When the world powers preferred personal interest over values and followed the American president’s utopian vision set out in the dangerous agreement with Iran, Canada made it clear that it would not remove sanctions on the Islamic, gay-hanging, freedom-hating regime as long as it does not change its ways. As the world ignored the sponsorship of terrorism, the affronts to human rights, and the regional destabilization, let alone the continued calls for the destruction of both America and Israel, Canada did not budge and, rather, questioned how world leaders could trust such an evil regime.


In a world in which Islamic State and Iran are fighting for supremacy in radical Islam, Canada is the only country that chose the right side, which is opposing both of these evil groups. This has been done under Harper’s leadership. Canada, in the years before Harper, would have rather chosen the path of “going along to get along.” Harper chose the path of moral clarity and leadership.


Still in the Middle East, Canada stands strong for the only democracy in the region, Israel, against all its detractors, even paying a heavy price in the UN for this moral stance. As some threaten Israel with boycotts, Harper was incredibly clear about his support for freedom and democracy – for Israel. In the Knesset this past January, he said: “I believe the story of Israel is a great example to the world. It is a story, essentially, of a people whose response to suffering has been to move beyond resentment and build a most extraordinary society, a vibrant democracy, a freedom-loving country… with an independent and rights-affirming judiciary, an innovative, world-leading ‘Start-up’ nation. In the democratic family of nations, Israel represents values which our government takes as articles of faith, and principles to drive our national life. And therefore, through fire and water, Canada will stand with you.”


When Russia invaded Ukraine, Canada’s voice was especially loud in opposing this act of aggression by Russian President Vladimir Putin. Many world leaders were afraid to confront him. Harper was not afraid to confront Putin and tell him directly to “get out of Ukraine.” He even stood up clearly and said: “I don’t think Russia under Vladimir Putin belongs in the G7. Period.”


If Canadian values had been made irrelevant to international relations by successive Liberal governments before Harper, he made them relevant once again. Former foreign minister John Baird said: “Sometimes you should be a referee and a rule-setter, but if you want to get a certain result, you have to be a player. When it comes to promoting Canadian values and interests, we can’t afford to not be a player.” Harper made Canada not only a player but also a candidate for most valuable player. In fact, with Harper’s proven leadership, Canada was named the most reputable country in the world, for the fourth time in six years, by the Reputation Institute, a global private consulting firm based in Boston and Copenhagen.


The world now once again can look to Canada for moral leadership. Without even going into economic questions, or delving into the way Harper helped Canada be the nation with one of the best economic growth rates (with a GDP growth of 16.1 percent since 2006), the best job creation (with over 1.2 million new net jobs), and the best growth on middle-class incomes among any of the advanced developed nations since the end of the global financial crisis, it is clear that he has done great good to Canada’s international standing.


Elections in Canada were recently announced for October 19. For some unexplainable reason, Harper is currently trailing in the polls. As a proud Canadian living abroad, surrounded by people from various countries who look at Harper’s leadership with great awe, I want to give a clear message to Harper: Thank you for making me prouder than ever to be Canadian.


                                    CIJR Wishes All Our Friends & Supporters: Shabbat Shalom!



On Topic


Israeli Arab Reporter Lucy Aharish Blasts Muslim and Arab Leaders: The Israel Project, Oct. 14, 2015—Furious at the incitement by local Muslim and Arab leaders, she speaks the truth: “You are inciting thousands of young people to go the the streets. You are destroying their future with your own hands.”

Lethal Lies: Jerusalem Post, Oct. 14, 2015 —Directly inflaming passions, Nabil Abu Rudaineh, spokesman to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, declared on Tuesday that 15-year-old Hassan Manasrah (who gravely wounded an Israeli 13-year-old and stabbed another passerby in Jerusalem’s Pisgat Ze’ev neighborhood) had been “cold-bloodedly executed” by Israelis.

Why this Socialist Will Vote For Harper: Tarek Fatah, Toronto Sun, Oct. 13, 2015—For the past 50 years, my inner socialist has been my moral compass. It has guided me in politics and in my writing.

NDP Candidates Under Fire For Comments About Israel: Jodie Shupac, CJN, Aug. 15, 2015 —Three federal NDP candidates are under intense scrutiny – and one has resigned – for controversial comments each made about Israel.


Barbara Kay: Harper & Obama




Although, as I write, Canadians are going to the polls in only 8 weeks and Americans are not going to the polls for 11 weeks plus an entire year, the speculative excitement in the media about who will be the next national leader seems to be about equal in both countries. And there are other similarities.


Both countries are presently headed up by unusually confident, strong-willed and controlling men. Both Harper and Obama have problems “playing nicely with others” and exhibit impatience when their political agenda is resisted.


But in essence they are very different individuals. Harper projects a public aloofness, even frostiness, while hiding a private inner warmth. Obama projects public warmth and caring, while hiding an inner coldness. As former Israeli ambassador to the U.S., Michael Oren, relates in Ally, his political memoir, “’Obama’s problem is not a tin ear,’ one of my European colleagues lamented, ‘it’s a tin heart.’”


And on no issue is Obama’s heart flintier than the Middle East. As many political historians have noted, Obama came to the presidency with the fixed idea of extrapolating the U.S. from the area’s political and ethnic Gordian knot, leaving Iran as the regional strong man to impose stability. And, as we can see from the porous and even ominous deal he has unilaterally struck with Iran, he is prepared to see such putative stability imposed at any cost to the region, including the sacrifice of  Israel’s security and, possibly, even existence.


Nobody ever said Obama loved Israel, either for itself or for what it represents as a bastion of democracy in the midst of chaos and barbarism, to most Americans. Today it seems clear he feels little sense of obligation to Israel even as a political ally that has in the past and doubtless will in the future serve as the thin blue line standing up to proxies for expansionist tyrannies that loathe the U.S. and everything it stands for.


Obama quite often speaks about the “arc of history” bending a certain way. But he himself knows very little actual history, at least of the Middle East, because he grew up and was educated under the rubric of historical revisionism, according to which America is not exceptional, no culture is better than any other and narratives are as real and compelling as facts.


(Here, to illustrate the school of progressive thought in which Obama was raised, I must interject this extraordinary telephone conversation recorded in Michael Oren’s Ally, between Oren and Andrew Rosenthal, editorial-page editor of the New York Times, after the NYT published an op ed by Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud, who suggested the Arabs had accepted the 1947 UN Partition Plan:


[Oren]: “When I write for the Times, fact checkers examine every word I write,” I began. “Did anybody check that Abbas has his facts exactly backward?”


“That’s your opinion,” Rosenthal replied.


“I’m an historian, Andy, and there are opinions and there are facts. That the Arabs rejected partition and the Jews accepted it is an irrefutable fact.”


“In your view.”


“Tell me, on June 6, 1944, did Allied forces land or did they not land on Normandy Beach?”

Rosenthal…replied, “Some might say so.”)


Obama’s policy is based not on evidence or patterns of aggressor behaviour, but on personal certitudes based in personal feelings, in selective experiences like “the call of the muezzin” in his childhood. Obama’s is a political dreamer’s rainbow’s end of hands across the oceans, exactly the kind of thinking that generally leads to disaster on a grand scale.


So far his many other “certitudes” – “Al Qaeda is “on a path to defeat” (2012), Bashar Assad’s “days are numbered” (2011), “Russia and the U.S. “are not simply resetting our relationship, but also broadening it” (2010) and others enumerated here – have given us no reason to believe that the Iran deal will alter the pattern.


Stephen Harper, on the other hand, is a historical realist. What is, is. He does not think in utopian terms. He is not hamstrung by political correctness regarding Islamism. History is not about him, it is about facts, cultural patterns of behaviour, belief systems that cannot co-exist in harmony, however nice a thought that is. He is impervious to “narratives” and does not, even though he has personally loved hockey all his life, see global politics as the NHL writ large.


Which is why I will be voting for yet another mandate for the Harper government in October.


You would not know it from this election campaign so far, which is fixated on domestic issues, but a great swath of the globe is aflame with bloodthirsty hysteria: that beheadings, drownings, burnings, crucifixions, mass rapes of children, chemical weapons and religious genocide have become so routine they don’t always make the headlines. Refugees are flooding Europe in crisis-inducing waves (those that aren’t drowned trying to escape the chaos around them). Yet most Canadians do not seem eager to know what their next national leader thinks about or will do about all this.


I care very much, far more than I care what a political candidate’s views on abortion are, or what magic number of referendum votes will give Quebec the right to secede, important as that is. And I do not believe that either Thomas Mulcair or Justin Trudeau give a great deal of thought to Islamism or its present and future impact on western democracies. I do not believe that either of them “get it” about Israel’s security – Mulcair because although his personal views on Israel pass muster, his party’s traditional position of hostility at worst and neutrality at best would hamper any full-throated support, and Trudeau, who will not call barbarism by its name, because he is Obamaesque in his ignorance and worldview.


It is possible that a change of political leadership in Canada would be better for our country in all manner of ways. If we were living in an era of relative global stability, I too would be voting on domestic issues. But we are living in parlous times, and the times call for a leader who understands the stakes. There may not be much that Canada under anyone’s leadership can do to prevent the cataclysm that Obama is helping to foment, but it is no small comfort and no small matter of national pride to have a leader who speaks the truth about Iran and Israel in world forums.


Given our changing demographics, it is my belief that Stephen Harper will be the last overtly pro-Israel prime minister we will have for the foreseeable future. Which is why I will do my small part – voting for his re-election – to promote his continuing principled presence on the world stage for as long as possible.



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


Harper’s Principled Stand on Israel: National Post, May 25, 2015— It would be easy to scoff, in a worldly wise way, at Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s recent speech in Montreal.

A Meeting of Kindred Spirits in Iraq: Paul Merkley, Baysview Review, May 1, 2015 — The activities described in two news items recently noted by Daily Mail (U.K.) pretty well sum up the progress being made these days by the group which several months ago declared the inauguration of the Caliphate — universal rule of the Godly as proclaimed by Muhammad himself.

Hebrew Inscriptions, Jewels of Palmyra’s Jewish Past, May be Lost Forever: Ilan Ben Zion, Times of Israel, May 25, 2015 — Among the archaeological gems from Palmyra, the pearl of Syria’s desert, at risk after the Islamic State’s takeover last week are vestiges of its Jewish past

Munich Museum Is Another Step in Acknowledging the City’s Nazi Past: Melissa Eddy, New York Times, May 1, 2015— The Nazis first displayed their overt hunger for power in lock-step parades through Munich’s elegant Königsplatz.


On Topic Links


Forgotten Facts and Distorted History of the Mideast: Zvi Mazel, Jerusalem Post, May 28, 2015

“Whoever Disbelieves, Strike Off His Head” Muslim Persecution of Christians, February 2015: Raymond Ibrahim, Breaking Israel News, Ma

y 14, 2015

At Easter Services, Iraqi Christians Under Threat From ISIS Consider Leaving Middle East: Campbell MacDiarmid, National Post, Apr. 5, 2015

The Ancient Ruins Terror Can’t Destroy: Patrick Symmes, New York Times, May 23, 2015



HARPER’S PRINCIPLED STAND ON ISRAEL                                                                        

National Post, May 25, 2015


It would be easy to scoff, in a worldly wise way, at Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s recent speech in Montreal. Harper, in town to receive the first-ever King David Award from the Jewish Community Council of Montreal, spoke of the deep friendship between Canada and Israel, of the unique challenges Israel faces as the sole democracy in the Middle East and of his government’s unwavering support for the Jewish state.

“Our government recognizes that Israel is a friend. A nation of democracy and constancy in a region of repression and instability,” said Harper. “Canada will continue to stand by Israel through fire and water.”


And yet, to the cynics, “Harper’s just courting the Jewish vote!” “It’s all strategy!” “We’re just talking tough because we lost out on that UN Security Council seat!” Yes, it’s easy to be cynical — too easy. There are any number of issues on which the prime minister deserves criticism, and many more on which his motives might be doubted. His support for Israel, however, is not one of them. It is honest, it is principled, and it is right. No one would suggest that Israel is above criticism. We share the concerns expressed by others that some Israeli policies and practices — particularly expanding West Bank settlements — have been unhelpful to the cause of peace in the Middle East. But we are also mindful that no other Western democracy, as Israel assuredly is, has had to live as it has since its founding: surrounded by hostile neighbours, on the front lines of a perpetual war.


Most Westerners, especially North Americans, have long enjoyed the ability to fight our wars on someone else’s real estate. With our civilian populations relatively immune from attack and the ugliness of war kept pleasantly out of view, we have enjoyed all the luxuries that a life of seemingly costless freedom has to offer. We forget how hard and painful defending a free society can be.


Members of our armed forces, our veterans and their families know this truth. For too many of them, it is seared into their flesh and bones. But the rest of us, those who live comfortably removed from the daily threat of attack, might not appreciate what an achievement it is for Israel to have maintained its democratic ideals as well as it has while living under siege all these many years.


Indeed, it is difficult to imagine any society doing a better job of balancing the competing demands of maintaining civil rights at home, protecting innocent civilian life in enemy territory during war — and, of course, protecting its own citizens from attack. The defence of the nation is the first responsibility of any government, as it is the first right of any people. Why would we deny the people of Israel the same right? And yet there are those who, while mouthing the principle in the abstract, take issue whenever it is exercised. Israel, it seems, has a right to defend itself, so long as it does not use its army.


For Israel’s supporters, the points above are familiar, even clichéd. They’ve been said before. In time, we’re sure we’ll have cause to say them again. But it is rare to hear a political leader set aside the soothing bromides of diplomacy — on the one hand this but on the other hand that — and say so clearly, without equivocation, what should not need to be said, and yet most desperately does: Israel is a tiny country doing its best to make a future for itself in a part of world where too many of its neighbours want it destroyed. As Harper said: “Israel is the frontline of free and democratic nations, and any who turn their back on Israel, or turn a blind eye to the nature of Israel’s enemies, do so in the long run at their own peril.”


Though many will dismiss the prime minister’s recent remarks as mere political grandstanding, they should look deeper. We often say we’d like our leaders to speak from their hearts instead of reading off talking points. Last week, Harper did exactly that.




A MEETING OF KINDRED SPIRITS IN IRAQ                                                                                   

Paul Merkley                                                                                                      

Baysview Review, May 1, 2015


The activities described in two news items recently noted by Daily Mail (U.K.) pretty well sum up the progress being made these days by the group which several months ago declared the inauguration of the Caliphate — universal rule of the Godly as proclaimed by Muhammad himself.


“Shock [sic] new video shows ISIS thugs smashing historic Iraqi city of Nimrud with barrel bombs, bulldozers and jackhammers in orgy of destruction slammed as a war crime by the United Nations … ‘God has honored us in the Islamic State to remove all of these idols and statues worshipped instead of Allah in the past days,’ one militant says in the video.  Another militant vows that ‘whenever we seize a piece of land, we will remove signs of idolatry and spread monotheism.’…


It is important for us to grasp that the methods by which this progress has been achieved and on account of which unlimited future progress is anticipated by these zealots are those mandated in the mission statement of the Prophet Himself: “When you encounter those [infidels] who deny [Islam],” he instructed the faithful, “then strike off their necks.” [Qur’an 47:4.]


Raymond Ibrahim notes that in the earliest Muslim literature there are exact parallels for the entire range of sadistically-inspired behavior that we have come to expect from ISIS – “beheadings and mutilations … humiliation and gestures of triumph (feet on chest of fallen victim, dragging his body, or head, on the ground), laughter, mockery, and celebration (for the hearts of the believers are now ‘healed.’)”… Muhammad would surely never begrudge these servants his full marks for clarity of purpose and for candour in regard to the principles and their goals.


We do not have to assume that in net terms ISIS is gaining on the ground – that is, that it governs more lives today than it did yesterday. Nobody really knows the answer to this question. Since the formation of the anti-ISIS Alliance spectacular losses of fighting manpower have been suffered by ISIS. Vast territory which was won in a spectacular manner just months ago in Iraq and in Syria has been abandoned by ISIS, apparently without net gain by ISIS in territory or population.


At the same time, it has to be kept in mind, that ISIS does not wholly-own the franchise in the field of Islamic Empire-building at this hour: other equally-bloody-minded organizations – Boko Haram, al-Qaeda, AQAP, al-Shaba, al-Qaeda, al-Nusra, etc — all of whom hate each other more than they hate us – are increasingly active in the same cause. Their intramural differences mean nothing to us; and the moment we begin to image that they should, then it is game over. What cannot be denied is that more people every day are being dragged into Islamic slavery…


At the same time, the mainstream (that is, secular) media are working hard to keep our eyes averted from the imminent elimination of Christianity from the Arab world. (For dispatches from this front we are almost entirely dependent on dedicated Christian news-gatherers including Open Doors and the Voice of the Martyrs… But increasing sensitivity to this crisis in secular media is represented (inter alia) by “Christians who use the language of Jesus being uprooted by Islamic state.”…


But there may be a small victory for clarity to be reported on one front. Substantial news coverage is now suddenly being given to stories about the “barbaric” campaign of destruction of antiquities of all kinds in areas under ISIS rule. At Hatra, Nimrud, Nineveh and Khorsabad and other sites where ruins remain from the days of the Neo-Assyrian Empire (911 BC to 609 BC) official ISIS gangs have been systematically destroying everything. These deeds are eliciting alarm about the fate of “Our Cultural Heritage.”


Leadership on this theme is coming from the United Nations – which, it must be said, has not been at the forefront of the fight to save the living Christian people fleeing from Islamic zealotry in Iraq or anywhere else. Irina Bokova, Director General of UNESCO has condemned the latest IS attack on antiquities in Iraq as a “mad, destructive act that accentuates the horror of the situation… With their hammers and explosives they are also obliterating the site itself [Nimrud], clearly determined to wipe out all traces of the history of Iraq’s people.”…

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





JEWISH PAST, MAY BE LOST FOREVER                                                                                         

Ilan Ben Zion                                                                                                                               

Times of Israel, May 25, 2015


Among the archaeological gems from Palmyra, the pearl of Syria’s desert, at risk after the Islamic State’s takeover last week are vestiges of its Jewish past, including the longest Biblical Hebrew inscription from antiquity: the opening verses of the Shema carved into a stone doorway. Western archaeologists who visited the site in the 19th and 20th century discovered Hebrew verses etched into the doorframe of a house in the ancient city. But whether that inscription is still at the site is unclear.


The last time a European scholar documented it in situ was 1933, when Israeli archaeologist Eleazar Sukenik of Hebrew University photographed it. “What may have happened to it since is anyone’s guess,” Professor David Noy, co-author of Inscriptiones Judaicae Orientis (Jewish Inscriptions of the Near East), said in an email on Friday.


Palmyra was one of the Roman Empire’s major cities, rising to prominence in the first centuries of the common era as a vassal state and entrepôt connecting West and East. Situated at an oasis in the desert frontier separating the empires of Rome and Parthia, Palmyra grew to an estimated population of 150,000-200,000 at its height in the third century CE. Textiles, perfumes, spices and gems came from India and the Far East, and metals, glass, wine and cash from Rome passed overland, bypassing the longer Red Sea trade route.


Because of its unique location, Palmyrene culture and art exhibited a fusion of Roman and Persian traditions. Traditional Mesopotamian mud bricks comprised the majority of the city’s architecture, Jørgen Christian Meyer, an archaeologist from the University of Bergen explained, but temples to Semitic gods such as Bel, Baalshamin and Al-lat were constructed in Classical style with stout columns hewn of stone.

When the city was abandoned following its destruction in 273 CE and left to the elements, the mud brick disintegrated, leaving behind a petrified forest of stone columns.


During its centuries of prosperity and decline it was home to a thriving Jewish community. “What we see in Palmyra is a multicultural, and possibly also a multi-identity city,” Meyer, who headed a Norwegian-Syrian archaeological excavation at the site in 2011, just as the civil war started heating up. “Here we’ve got this mixture of Greek, Aramaic, Middle Eastern, Roman culture. This is fantastic.” “That’s why it’s a unique place from a historical point of view, a cultural point of view,” he said.


That fusion included Jews. Two locally produced terra cotta lamps found next to one of the great pagan temples bear menorahs on either side of a conch, suggesting close integration of Jews and gentiles. Known in Hebrew and Aramaic as Tadmor, Jewish legend attributed the city’s construction to King Solomon. Josephus Flavius, writing in the first century CE, ascribed its construction to King Solomon, saying that the city of Tamar referred to in Kings I was the “very great city” Josephus’s contemporaries knew in the Syrian Desert.


“Now the reason why this city lay so remote from the parts of Syria that are inhabited is this, that below there is no water to be had, and that it is in that place only that there are springs and pits of water,” the Jewish Roman historian said. “When he had therefore built this city, and encompassed it with very strong walls, he gave it the name of Tadmor, and that is the name it is still called by at this day among the Syrians, but the Greeks name it Palmyra.”


Modern scholars, however, dispute the veracity of Josephus’s claim that it was built by Solomon. Archaeological evidence indicates that the Classical city of Palmyra didn’t predate the first century BCE, and the biblical city of Tamar was likely in today’s Negev Desert…


Nonetheless, during Palmyra’s height during the Roman era, the city became home to a substantial Jewish community, as testified in Jewish texts. Two 3rd century CE Jewish tombs in Beit Shearim, outside Haifa, identify individuals as the interred sons of Palmyrenes. A passage in the Mishnah, compiled in the first to third centuries CE, also refers to one Miriam of Palmyra as living in the city during the first century CE. “It’s clear that there was a serious Jewish community. Jews from [Palmyra] brought them for burial [in Israel] and wrote on the sarcophagus that they were from there.” Daniel Vainstub of Beersheba’s Ben-Gurion University of the Negev said. “We know from the Talmud that some of the locals converted to Judaism.”


But most significantly, etched into the doorway of a house in central Palmyra, northeast of its main colonnaded street, were the four opening lines of the Shema, one of the central Jewish prayers, verses from the book of Deuteronomy. Scholars have debated whether it was an entryway to a synagogue, but now they lean toward it having been a private home. The Biblical passage differs from the traditional text only inasmuch as it substitutes God’s name Yahweh for adonai — my Lord.


On the sides of the doorway were two other apotropaic inscriptions in Hebrew script believed taken from Deuteronomy as well. It was last photographed in the 1930s, and scholars contacted by the Times of Israel couldn’t ascertain whether it was still at the site, or whether in the intervening decades it was destroyed or sold on the black market.  “They’re part of the limited but clear evidence for Jews at Palmyra,” Tawny Holm, a Jewish Studies professor at Pennsylvania State University, said of the missing finds. They likely dated from before the 6th century CE, possibly from before the city’s destruction in 272-3, but “the inscription could have been added later,” she noted…

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





ACKNOWLEDGING THE CITY’S NAZI PAST                                                                                   

Melissa Eddy

New York Times, May 1, 2015


The Nazis first displayed their overt hunger for power in lock-step parades through Munich’s elegant Königsplatz. Today, against the backdrop of imposing neo-Classical buildings, the striking white form of the city’s new Documentation Center for the History of National Socialism appears oddly misplaced. It is too simple, too clean. That incongruity was the desired effect of the center, which opened its doors to the public on Friday, more than a decade after it was first approved. It is meant to force both residents and tourists in the Bavarian capital to stop and ask themselves: What is that building? And why is it here, in Munich?


Winfried Nerdinger, the museum’s director, who has worked since 1988 to see the center realized, said that the structure and its contents were designed to provide sobering answers. “This is a perpetrator site,” Mr. Nerdinger said. “Those who carried out the crimes actually sat here, and the emphasis is on retracing how it could have come to this.” The permanent exhibition follows the rise of the Nazi Party chronologically over three floors. Using a mixture of images, text and an audio guide, the center examines how the Nazi movement grew out of the German Workers’ Party, or D.A.P., founded in a Munich beer hall in 1919; was embraced by middle-class society; and grew into a force that spread throughout Germany and later Europe, leading to World War II and the Holocaust.


The exhibition starts on the fourth floor and works its way down, leading visitors through the role that Munich and its society played in creating fertile ground for the far right and the radical anti-Semitism preached by the Nazis. The lower floors are dedicated to an examination of how postwar Munich handled its Nazi history and how anti-Semitism and racial discrimination remain relevant today, through news reports and a study of neo-Nazis in the city. During the opening ceremony on Thursday, several dozen neo-Nazis gathered at the edge of the security perimeter, decrying the center as misleading, unnecessary and a waste of public funds.


Mr. Nerdinger said his main goal was education: “to examine what lessons can be taken away from this site, and how are they relevant in the present day?” Although some in the German news media criticized the exhibition as little more than a well-presented, life-size history book, its message seemed to reach and resonate with the visitors who turned up on the May 1 Labor Day holiday for its opening… Germany, more than most countries, has dedicated itself to working through the questions of its past crimes. In Bavaria alone, the memorial sites include the Dachau concentration camp and documentation centers at the Nazis’ rally grounds in Nuremberg and at the Obersalzberg mountain retreat, with its view of the Alps, where Adolf Hitler hosted foreign guests and Munich intellectuals. All are meant to recall the past and warn of its implications for the future.


But as the country struggles to cope with an influx of some 200,000 migrants fleeing conflict and poverty last year alone, reminders of Nazi sentiments have emerged. Refugee shelters in Bavarian villages have been defaced with swastikas or set on fire. In Dresden, thousands of Germans have joined weekly demonstrations against Muslims and other immigrants. While those demonstrations, organized by the anti-immigrant movement Pegida, drew support from across the country, nowhere were the counterprotests stronger than in Munich, where several hundred anti-immigrant demonstrators were drowned out by thousands who turned up to send a message of tolerance and diversity.


Yet Munich, more than any other place in Germany, has struggled to come to terms with its fall from what Thomas Mann described in 1926 as a society “once healthy and gay” to “a hotbed of reactionary sentiment and the seat of inflexibility and resistance to the will of the times.” After a thwarted communist revolution and a crippling economic depression, the far right found legitimacy among much of the upper middle class, which welcomed Hitler and his newly established party.


In 1930, the Nazis purchased an elegant villa just east of the Königsplatz, where they established their headquarters. Known as the Braunes Haus, or Brown House, the building was largely destroyed by bombing and cleared by the American Army after World War II. For decades, the site sat vacant, until the city decided to build the center there at a cost of more than $31 million…From a vantage point on the third floor, visitors can gaze out at the former Führerbau — today home to the Munich University of Music and Theater — where Hitler signed the treaty decreeing that Czechoslovakia cede the Sudetenland in 1938, while screens show film footage of Nazi parades past the site…


For decades after the United States Army marched into Munich on April 30, 1945 — 70 years to the day before the center’s opening ceremony — proudly brandishing the sign removed from the city limits declaring “Munich, Capital of the Movement,” the city preferred to think of itself as a “global city with heart,” largely ignoring the role it had played in giving birth to the Nazi movement. In the 1980s, that began to change. The municipal authorities conducted a study of the city’s role in Nazi-era history. At the same time, younger Germans were beginning to explore who had suffered under the Nazis…


In 2001, Munich set out to build the Documentation Center, to confront its past by examining the question of how and why it happened, while reminding visitors that history remains relevant. “The Nazi period will remain a thorn in Germany’s side,” said Andreas Wirsching, director of the Institute of Contemporary History in Munich. “We will continually be confronted with the question of how it could be that such a highly civilized country plunged into such an abyss of transgression, into a regime of injustice and murder. That is a lasting question of humanity that can be nightmarishly relevant.”


CIJR Wishes All Our Friends & Supporters: Shabbat Shalom!





On Topic


Forgotten Facts and Distorted History of the Mideast: Zvi Mazel, Jerusalem Post, May 28, 2015—The Middle East is in flames and the world community is still clinging to the theory that when a Palestinian state arises, peace will descend upon the region.

“Whoever Disbelieves, Strike Off His Head” Muslim Persecution of Christians, February 2015: Raymond Ibrahim, Breaking Israel News, May 14, 2015—Throughout February, members of the largest Christian minority in the Middle East, the Copts, were slaughtered.
At Easter Services, Iraqi Christians Under Threat From ISIS Consider Leaving Middle East: Campbell MacDiarmid, National Post, Apr. 5, 2015—For many Iraqi Christians commemorating Easter Sunday, this year’s church services were not just a time for marking the Resurrection, but a time to reflect on their future, with many considering new beginnings overseas.

The Ancient Ruins Terror Can’t Destroy: Patrick Symmes, New York Times, May 23, 2015 —The guard from the antiquities authority was asleep when I arrived at the Temple of Bel, deep in the Syrian desert.




We welcome your comments to this and any other CIJR publication. Please address your response to:  Rob Coles, Publications Chairman, Canadian Institute for Jewish Research, PO Box 175, Station  H, Montreal QC H3G 2K7 




Sharansky Predicts 'Beginning of the End of Jewish History in Europe': Sam Sokol, Jerusalem Post, Aug. 14, 2014 — Jewish Agency chairman Natan Sharansky has joined a growing chorus of high-profile figures in casting doubt on the viability of European Jewry in an article in The Jewish Chronicle.

The Harper Doctrine: Mark Kennedy, National Post, Aug. 4, 2014—On April 25, 2003, Stephen Harper appeared at a gathering of conservatives in Toronto brought together by the Civitas group.

Coming of Age with Hamas, at the White House: Matthew Foldi, Jerusalem Post, Aug. 11, 2014 — I turned 18 last week. In the weeks leading up to the end of my statutory childhood, I decided to do what I could to make each of its remaining days as meaningful as possible.

Farewell to Fouad Ajami: Lee Smith, Weekly Standard, June 25, 2014 — We are going to adopt you—we already have, of course—as Ibn Ballad,” Fouad wrote to me a little mischievously last year.

Speak Out Now Against Blatant Anti-Semitism at the New York Metropolitan Opera: COPMA, Aug. 14, 2014 — In recent weeks we have witnessed a surge in anti-Semitism around the world in response to Israel's efforts to defend itself against an aggressor who is sworn to its destruction. 


On Topic Links


The Death of Klinghoffer – An Inappropriate "Opera" (Video): Stand With Us, Youtube, Aug. 1, 2014

Le Conflit Israelo-Arabe en Dessin Animé (Video):  Youtube, Feb. 10, 2014

In Front of CNN, Hundreds Protest Anti-Israel Media Bias: Cathryn J. Prince, Times of Israel, Aug. 8, 2014 

It’s Anti-Semitism, Stupid: Efraim Karsh, Jerusalem Post, Aug. 11, 2014

When Will Europe Stand Up for the Jews?: Rabbi Abraham Cooper, National Post, Aug 2, 2014



OF JEWISH HISTORY IN EUROPE'                                                              

Sam Sokol                                                                                                                          Jerusalem Post, Aug. 14, 2014


Jewish Agency chairman Natan Sharansky has joined a growing chorus of high-profile figures in casting doubt on the viability of European Jewry in an article in The Jewish Chronicle. Writing in the UK’s oldest Jewish newspaper, Sharansky said that he believed that “we are seeing the beginning of the end of Jewish history in Europe.” While Sharansky’s comments came partially as a response to the rising wave of anti-Semitism crashing over the continent since the start of Israel’s military operation in the Gaza Strip, the former Soviet refusenik also pointed to a number of long-term trends which he said militated against a continuing Jewish presence in Europe.


“Europe is abandoning its basic values of respecting identities while at the same time guaranteeing full freedom for its citizens,” Sharansky continued. “On the one hand, Europe opens its gates to immigration, to people who are not asked to share its values of freedom and tolerance. And on the other hand Europeans are rushing back toward the right-wing parties who are hostile to ‘the other.’ Then there is the intellectual atmosphere which asks Jews to choose between their loyalty to Israel and their loyalty to Europe. All this creates an impossible situation for Jews. This feeling of non-belonging and disengagement is much stronger than the feeling of aliya.” According to Sharansky, the trends he enumerated serve to justify the strategic emphasis placed on Jewish identity programs by the Jewish Agency in recent years. “Apart from the ultra-Orthodox who will keep their identities, all other Jews who don’t have that connection to Israel will assimilate,” he said, calling a connection to Israel the only other factor that can maintain Jewish identity in the face of the challenges facing continental communities. European Jews, he continued, may feel that “they can have more Europe in Israel, because it is Israel which is fighting to be both Jewish and democratic. Israel is the place that is fighting for European values. Europe will die here and survive in Israel.”…


In his article, Sharansky asserted that Europe had become “very intolerant of identities in a multicultural and post-nationalist environment” and that as a result Jews were caught in the middle of a kulturkampf. “This new anti-Semitism is very connected to Israel — demonization, delegitimization and double-standards — and is now so deep in the core of European political and intellectual leaders that practically every Jew is being asked to choose between being loyal to Israel and loyal to Europe,” he wrote. According to a recent study by the Anti-Defamation League, 45 percent of Europeans see Jews as more loyal to Israel than to their countries of residence. “Europe is abandoning its identities, with the multicultural idea that there will be no such thing as nation-states or religion. In post-identity Europe, there is less and less space for Jews for whom it is important to have both identity and freedom,” he explained.


The nationalist backlash, with the election of far-right parties, many of them hostile to Jews, and increasing Muslim immigration serve to reinforce Jewish alienation from Europe, he added, using the increased number of French Jews immigrating to Israel as evidence.  In an interview with The Jerusalem Post earlier this year, Rabbi Yosef Pevzner, director of the hassidic Sinai school network in Paris, expressed similar sentiments that many French Jews felt trapped between Islamic anti-Semitism on the one hand and increasing state secularism on the other, leaving them feeling they no longer belonged there. While many predicted that European Jewry would not survive the Holocaust, “we see today that quite a large Jewish Community still exists in Europe,” Ukrainian Chief Rabbi Ya’acov Bleich told the Post in response to Sharansky’s comments. “It is shocking but true. So I think that the Jews are a stubborn nation. And even though hundreds of thousands have made aliya in these 70 years I think that there will remain a Jewish community in Europe. He added, however, “there is an important message in the underlying anti-Semitism which tells us not to feel at home in Europe. Our home is in Israel, and everywhere else is exile.”…

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




THE HARPER DOCTRINE                                                          

Mark Kennedy                                                                                                     

National Post, Aug. 4, 2014


On April 25, 2003, Stephen Harper appeared at a gathering of conservatives in Toronto brought together by the Civitas group. He was leader of the Canadian Alliance party, a thankless job with little likelihood he could knock the governing Liberals from their perch. But Mr. Harper’s speech that day, later reprinted in an essay, was remarkably prescient. For anyone who cared to notice, it revealed how he would one day turn Canadian foreign policy on its head and, perhaps most notably, make this country the world’s most fervent ally of Israel. Mr. Harper said Canada’s conservatives needed to “rediscover” the traditional conservatism of political philosopher Edmund Burke, which valued “social order,” custom and religious traditions.  “We need to rediscover Burkean conservatism because the emerging debates on foreign affairs should be fought on moral grounds,” said Mr. Harper. “Current challenges in dealing with terrorism and its sponsors, as well as the emerging debate on the goals of the U.S. as the sole superpower, will be well served by conservative insights on preserving historic values and moral insights on right and wrong.” Mr. Harper stressed that unlike the “modern left” — which had adopted a position of “moral neutrality” — conservatives understood “the notion that moral rules form a chain of right and duty, and that politics is a moral affair.” He added: “We understand that the great geopolitical battles against modern tyrants and threats are battles over values. “Conservatives must take the moral stand, with our allies, in favour of the fundamental values of our society, including democracy, free enterprise and individual freedom.”


Three years later, after an unanticipated meltdown of Liberal power, Mr. Harper was prime minister. He immediately launched an unshakable foreign policy in support of Israel, beginning that summer when the Jewish state launched a military ground offensive into Lebanon to combat Hezbollah. This summer, Mr. Harper is once again standing firmly by Israel — this time, as it responds to rocket fire from Hamas by pounding Gaza with air strikes and a ground offensive to punish the terrorist group and destroy a network of tunnels it has built to launch attacks into Israel. More than 1,700 Palestinians, most of them non-combatant civilians, have been killed. The United Nations Works and Relief Agency has accused Israel of committing a “serious violation” of international law after civilians were killed from the Israeli shelling of a UN designated building sheltering Palestinians, including many children. By comparison, Mr. Harper has accused Hamas of being responsible for all the bloodshed. What’s behind Harper’s thinking? What are its roots? Why is he so seemingly single-minded? The questions perplex some Canadians and have spawned a range of theories. Some purport that he has come under the influence of evangelical leaders who want him to defend Judeo-Christian heritage. Mr. Harper’s supporters scoff at the notion as groundless. Others say it’s all about domestic politics — raising money from Jewish-Canadians for the Conservative Party and securing their vote. The Tories helped feed that theory earlier this year when Harper brought many Tory MPs on his trip to Israel — and when one of them (York Centre MP Mark Adler) urged a PMO aide to let him get into the picture frame during Mr. Harper’s visit to the Western Wall, pleading: “It’s the re-election. This is the million-dollar shot.”


But a review of Mr. Harper’s public remarks and speeches in recent years, as well as interviews with those who know him, paint a different picture. What motivate him? It’s about the simplicity of right and wrong, of good and evil. And it’s also about the complexity of the need to take the right side — Israeli democracy versus Islamist terror — in a geopolitical conflict that could some day have impact on Canada. On Nov. 8, 2010, Mr. Harper delivered a speech in Ottawa about the Holocaust which — like his 2003 address to the Civitas group — explains his current policy on Gaza. “History teaches us that anti-Semitism is a tenacious and particularly dangerous form of hatred,” he said. “And recent events are demonstrating that this hatred is now in resurgence throughout the world.” He spoke of how he had visited Auschwitz in 2008, and more recently, he had been to Babyn Yar, a ravine in Ukraine, where the Nazis had massacred Jews. “I knew I was standing in a place where evil — evil at its most cruel, obscene, and grotesque — had been unleashed.”


Moreover, he said that the Holocaust was just one chapter in a long history of anti-Semitism and the “same threats” still faced Israel. “Yet, in contemporary debates that influence the fate of the Jewish homeland, unfortunately, there are those who reject the language of good and evil. They say that the situation is not black and white, that we mustn’t choose sides.” Mr. Harper made it clear. He was going to emphatically choose a “side.”


In January of this year, during his visit to Israel and the West Bank, Mr. Harper continued the pattern. He was dogged by questions over Canada’s position on Israel’s construction of settlements in the West Bank. Canada’s Foreign Affairs website declared the settlements are “not legal” but Harper refuses to say so publicly. “I’m not here to single out Israel for criticism,” he chided reporters as he stood next to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The previous day, Mr. Harper had addressed the Knesset, Israel’s legislature, in a speech that emphatically promised Canadian support. He spoke of a “mutation of the old disease of anti-Semitism,” of how Israel’s very existence was imperilled if it didn’t defend itself, and of how Canada needed to stand by the only real beacon of democracy in the Middle East. “Those who often begin by hating the Jews, history shows us, end up hating anyone who is not them,” said Mr. Harper. “Those forces, which have threatened the state of Israel every single day of its existence and which, as 9/11 graphically showed us today, threaten all of us.” Morality and self-protection. They are the principles at the core of the Harper Doctrine.




Matthew Foldi    

Jerusalem Post, Aug. 11, 2014


I turned 18 last week. In the weeks leading up to the end of my statutory childhood, I decided to do what I could to make each of its remaining days as meaningful as possible. But I never anticipated how it all would end: being attacked outside the White House for standing up for Israel. When I first heard that there was a pro-Hamas rally scheduled to take place outside the White House, I was dubious. How, in the capital of the free world, can people support a terrorist group that stands for the destruction of Israel and the annihilation of the Jewish people as well as the oppression of women, gays, Christians, political opponents and just about everyone who disagrees with them? I figured it was a garden variety pro-Palestine hate fest and took note of the fact that groups like Code Pink were among the co-sponsors.


All the same, I was appalled, and I didn’t feel I could let an event like this go unchallenged. So I took the Washington Metro to the White House, wearing an IDF T-shirt and an Israeli flag as a cape. As I approached the White House I was stunned and physically sickened to see a crowd of thousands gathered to cheer Hamas and call for the destruction of Israel. Signs justifying Hamas’s terror and comparing Israel to Nazi Germany were everywhere. Shocked by the absurdity of these claims, I decided to confront a few of the hostile individuals. The first person I spoke with held a picture of a little girl who he claimed was murdered by the IDF. Yet, when I informed him that the picture had actually been taken from a horror movie, he only stared at me and defiantly said, “The horror movie called Gaza.” “No, Final Destination 4, a B-movie that you can search on YouTube,” I responded. Rather than confronting this truth, he stormed off.


I became even more enraged after spotting a man with a media badge filming and protesting. I know quite a bit about the biased coverage of Israel from my reading. But all the knowledge in the world didn’t prepare me for the shock of seeing a “reporter” actually participating in a pro-terror demonstration outside the White House. I decided to get him on record denying Hamas’s use of human shields, a fact impossible to counter because Hamas even writes about it. As I filmed him, the fun began. First, I was told that “Hamas is a resistance group.” Shortly after, one of the protesters threatened to break my iPad, hurling a fist-sized projectile at my face that fortunately missed me. I was relieved that when I first arrived at the rally a couple of Israeli tourists were trailing after me, both to protect and to encourage. But at some point they got lost in the crowd. So I found myself alone, questioning these supporters of the genocidal terrorists of Hamas as they spewed their hateful bile. Suddenly I felt something tightening around my neck. A woman had come up from behind me and ripped my Israeli flag from around my neck. I tried to pursue her. But my assailant melted into the crowd before I could take it back.


Then a crowd surrounded me and began chanting about ripping my IDF shirt off as well. As these cries rang in my ears, one of the Israelis returned. She said she saw the woman running with an Israeli flag and wanted to make sure I was okay, and promised to stay with me until I left. The flag-thief and her fellow terror supporters then proceeded to set my flag on fire. Distressed, my new Israeli friend and I slowly made our way to the White House along with her Israeli friends. We were hoping to find some other Israel supporters there. At last we came across one. It was a lone US Marine, who stood for us like a beacon of light in the darkness. He held an American flag in one hand, and an Israeli flag in the other. Despite their attempts, the Hamas supporters were unable to dislodge him. Shortly after we arrived, Manny the Marine was descended upon by a crowd of Hamas supporters who spat on him, kicked him and screamed like a pack of hyenas. No matter how they cursed, no matter how they attacked, Manny would not budge. His bravery was beyond measure.


I was dumbstruck that this was all happening at the doorstep of the White House. I commented to Manny about the irony of how he had served to protect these people’s right to slander and abuse him. He looked me in the eye and said, “I’d do it again.” What a difference between this marine, and the Israel and America that he so stalwartly defended that day outside the White House, and these terror supporters. From the man holding the picture from a horror movie, to the bullies who threatened to destroy my iPad if I didn’t delete footage of their lies, to the violent woman who stole and burned my flag, to the horde that attacked the soldier, it was clear to me that what these people were doing that morning was the antithesis of the ideals that stand at the base of America and Israel. They weren’t there to debate or defend their ideas. They were there to end debate and discussion through intimidation. It is not knowledge they wished to share, but ignorance.


On the metro heading home, I was relieved to see that everyday passersby shared this assessment. People who saw my shirt didn’t condemn me and curse me as a terrorist and a war criminal. They thanked me for going to the protest. I know that these people, rather than the mobs that receive the coverage from the media, represent what America actually believes. My experience that day made me realize the power we all have, the things that we can accomplish simply by sounding our voices. The protesters wanted to silence and pretend away reality. But because of Manny, and the Israeli tourists, and yes, even me, they failed.


After seeing my post of the protest on my Facebook page, that night friends I hadn’t spoken with in years, and even total strangers shared my post and thanked me for standing up for Israel. Simply by sounding my voice, I empowered them. Now, they said, they too will sound their own voices…

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


Matthew Foldi graduated this year from Charles E. Smith

Jewish Day School in Rockville, Maryland.




Lee Smith                                                    

Weekly Standard, June 25, 2014


Why were the words of Fouad Ajami “never welcomed in the cultural salons of Beirut and Cairo?” asks Samuel Tadros in Tablet magazine. And why are they now “unfashionable … in the halls of power in Washington?” Because “instead of following the herd and blaming the ills of the region on the foreigner, he had written in the opening pages of his 1981 book The Arab Predicament that ‘the wounds that mattered were self-inflicted wounds.’” Tadros, a contributor to this magazine, has written a wonderful tribute to his teacher, and later publisher of his two brilliant books on the failure of liberalism in modern Egypt, Motherland Lost: The Egyptian and Coptic Quest for Modernity, and the recently released Reflections on the Revolution in Egypt. “I met Ajami for the first time in October 2010,” writes Tadros.


As a student at Georgetown distressed with the state of Middle East studies in American universities, I had emailed him asking for his advice on my quest for a doctorate. We met a week later, and for the next three hours a bond was created. I like to think that he saw a younger, though less brilliant, version of himself in the student sitting in front of him, that he saw a similarity between my ideological transformation because of Sept. 11 from an Arab nationalist to a conservative…Ajami was remarkable because he became a full American and loved this country as anyone could love it, but that never lessened his passion for what he had left behind. He knew well the region’s ills, the pains it gave those who cherished it, and God knows it gave him nothing but pain. But he always believed the peoples of the region deserved better, and he was unabashed in championing their cause and their yearning for freedom.


Tadros’s moving reminiscence, alongside those of others like Paul Wolfowitz, Bret Stephens, and Michael Mandelbaum, is perhaps the most personal. “For me,” writes Tadros, “I will remember the magnificent scholar who took a young man under his wing and mentored him for four years. I will remember the kindness, the encouragement, the generosity he showed me. Farwell, my Mo’allem. Farewell my friend. Farwell to the complex and extraordinary Fouad, the American, the Shia, the Lebanese, and though he wouldn’t have liked it, the Arab as well.”




AT THE NEW YORK METROPOLITAN OPERA                                                    

COPMA, Aug. 14, 2014


In recent weeks we have witnessed a surge in anti-Semitism around the world in response to Israel's efforts to defend itself against an aggressor who is sworn to its destruction.  This anti-Semitism, hiding behind a facade of anti-Zionism, is unparalleled since Nazi Germany. Most of the more egregious incidents have occurred abroad, but there is one particularly blatant example of anti-Semitism here in the U.S. that should not be ignored. The Metropolitan Opera, despite vigorous opposition from many parts of  the Jewish Community, is forging ahead with its plans to present the opera, "The Death of Klinghoffer," during its Fall 2014 season.  After a campaign of letter writing, demonstrations, and articles in the Jewish press, the Met has refused to remove the opera from its schedule, offering only to "compromise" by cancelling its worldwide HD simulcast programs, but not the production at the Metropolitan Opera House itself. This opera presents the takeover of the cruise ship Achille Lauro in 1985  by Palestinian terrorists, and their murder of 69 year old, wheel-chair bound Leon Klinghoffer, as justified, not only by Palestinian grievances against Israel, but also by the alleged evil and exploitative actions of Jews against others around the world.  The terrorists are humanized and presented as freedom fighters, who have been forced by Jewish and Zionist oppression to take extreme actions…Many in the artistic world and in the mainstream press (e.g. the NYTimes and The New Yorker) have failed to see this opera as anti-Semitic.  They have defended it as "dialogue" on a difficult subject or on the basis of artistic freedom.


Many people ask "What can I do as one individual" to stem the growing tide of anti-Semitic sentiment around the world? One simple and concrete step that you can take is to call or email Peter Gelb, director of the Metropolitan Opera.  Tell him in your own words that you oppose the Met's production of this anti-Semitic opera, and urge him to cancel its appearance at this venerable institution. You won't be alone. In addition to thousands of individuals protesting this production, prestigious institutions are already abandoning the Met's anti-Semitic Klinghoffer production. The Guggenheim Museum, which had scheduled as part of its "works and progress" series an event that would have included Metropolitan Opera performers performing excerpts from the “Klinghoffer” opera, has just announced a  cancellation of its production. We urge you to let your voice be heard now. Time is of the essence if we are to stop the production from going forward this season.              


Phone Peter Gelb at: 212-799-3100, extension 2891.

Email Peter Gelb at: pgelb@metopera.org



CIJR wishes all our friends and supporters Shabbat Shalom!

On Topic


The Death of Klinghoffer – An Inappropriate "Opera" (Video): Stand With Us, Youtube, Aug. 1, 2014

Le Conflit Israelo-Arabe en Dessin Animé (Video):  Youtube, Feb. 10, 2014

In Front of CNN, Hundreds Protest Anti-Israel Media Bias: Cathryn J. Prince, Times of Israel, Aug. 8, 2014—Several hundred people rallied outside CNN’s Time Warner studios Thursday evening, calling on it and other US news outlets to stop slanting its coverage against Israel.

It’s Anti-Semitism, Stupid: Efraim Karsh, Jerusalem Post, Aug. 11, 2014 —Let’s admit it: Israel can never win the media war against Hamas. No matter what it does, no matter how hard it tries.

When Will Europe Stand Up for the Jews?: Rabbi Abraham Cooper, National Post, Aug 2, 2014 —From the start, Hamas knew there was one battlefield in its asymmetrical genocidal war against the Jews it could win.













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As IAW is With us Again:



Edward Beck

Jerusalem Post, Mar. 12, 2014


What a year it’s been on campus in the war for and against Israel on campus. Things are heating up on American campuses in a way we haven’t seen since the second intifada.


Three American and one international academic associations have developed a foreign policy for their association either to boycott Israeli scholars or academic institutions (with several more societies contemplating such actions this Spring).


Hillel’s new president, Eric Fingerhut, clarifying Hillel’s policies about what political programming is not acceptable in Hillel facilities caused significant dissension and rebellion at a number of campuses.

250 of American’s nearly 4,000 college and university presidents condemned academic boycott resolutions to one degree or another, while faculty held closed “academic conferences” on some of those very same campuses to try to plan and spread those actions to vulnerable and receptive academic colleagues around the globe.

Legislation is pending in the Congress and in several state legislatures to penalize academics and universities that participate in academic boycotts with both acceptance and rejection by Israel advocacy and other groups, both major and minor.

“Big Tent” academic approaches to difficult discussions are being decried and thwarted by extremist line-drawing, name-calling academics and polemicists with PhDs, from both the Left and the Right. Academics and polemicists of all stripes are claiming that academic boycotts and efforts to resist academic boycotts are threats to academic freedom. The list goes on, and will develop radically and exponentially as we head into Spring Break toward the end of the academic year since we can predict that the war will heat up between the end of Spring Break and before finals, as it always does on campus. These developments point to the fact that the Jewish community has never been more heatedly divided in facing significant intellectual and academic threats to the Jewish people, Judaism and Israel and that we really need to have some serious discussions among ourselves about unified approaches to these existential threats…                                          

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





Statement by the Prime Minister of Canada on the Lowering of the Canadian Flag in Afghanistan: Stephen Harper, Prime Minister’s Office, Mar. 12, 2014— Prime Minister Stephen Harper today issued the following statement to mark the lowering of the Canadian Flag by the Canadian Armed Forces in Afghanistan.

Reflecting on Wins, Losses as Canadian Troops Prepare for Afghan Pullout: Mathew Fisher, Montreal Gazette, Mar. 10, 2014 — An Egyptian court ban on Hamas activities could push the increasingly isolated Palestinian Islamist movement into another battle with Israel, analysts say.                  

U.S. General Warns of Perils in Leaving Afghanistan: Helene Cooper, New York Times, Mar. 12, 2014 — Egypt faces plenty of threats, from a growing insurgency in the Sinai to a shaky and still unstable presidential regime.

Twenty-Five Years After Soviet Afghanistan Withdrawal: Michael Rubin, Commentary, Feb. 12, 2014 — When the last war between Egypt and Israel was fought in 1973, Abd El-Fattah El-Sisi was almost 19 years old.


On Topic Links


Paranoia in Kabul: David Devoss, Weekly Standard, Feb. 24, 2014

Timeline: Involved since 2001, Canada Wraps Up its Mission in Afghanistan: Christina Commisso, CTV News, Mar. 11, 2014

Al-Qaida Plots Comeback in Afghanistan: Kimberly Dozier, Associated Press, Feb. 28, 2014
The Grinning Generals Who Highlight Flaws in our Afghanistan Exit: Rob Crilly, Telegraph, Feb. 20, 2014

Will 'Zero Option' in Afghanistan Cause Chaos?: Robert Burns, Associated Press, Feb. 28, 2014




Stephen Harper                      

Prime Minister’s Office, March 12, 2014


Prime Minister Stephen Harper today issued the following statement to mark the lowering of the Canadian Flag by the Canadian Armed Forces in Afghanistan:


“Today, the Canadian Flag was lowered at NATO’s International Security Assistance Force headquarters in Kabul for the last time. Since 2001, Canada has deployed its largest military contingent in generations to the region, and now our mission in Afghanistan draws to a close.


“The end of the military mission and the lowering of the flag is a significant milestone in the fight against global terror. Over 40,000 Canadian Armed Forces members have fought to defeat the threat of terrorism and to ensure the freedom of others, to build a stronger, safer world. In the course of this fight, many have paid the ultimate price. 


“Their courage and dedication has brought much pride to our country. I look forward to personally welcoming home the last contingent of Canada’s brave men and women of the Canadian Armed Forces when they return home on the final flight from Afghanistan on March 18. I also look forward at that time to announcing details of Canada’s plans to formally commemorate the mission in Afghanistan. Canada will continue to play an important role in supporting efforts that contribute to building a better future for all Afghans.”    



REFLECTING ON WINS, LOSSES AS CANADIAN                                       TROOPS PREPARE FOR AFGHAN PULLOUT                                        

Mathew Fisher                                                                        

Montreal Gazette, Mar. 10, 2014


In soldiers’ parlance, I did six tours in Afghanistan. Over 12 years, I spent more than three years in that benighted country, covering Canada’s longest war ever, beginning in Kandahar and Kabul, then Kandahar again and the end piece, which has been a training and mentoring mission in Kabul. As I witness Ukraine teeter on the brink of war over Russia’s designs on Crimea, the last handful of Canadian military trainers serving in Afghanistan are about to go home.


It was all so new and exciting in early 2002 when a battalion from the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry lived among the ruins of Kandahar Airfield. The Pats were heavily involved in the hunt for Osama bin Laden in the mountains near the Afghan border with Pakistan. The darkest days followed Canada’s only decisive victory over the Taliban in Kandahar during the summer of 2006. The enemy learned from Operation Medusa. Never again did it concentrate its forces. From then on, the Taliban did most of its fighting with homemade landmines. For several years, Canada had no meaningful counter to this menace. But by sticking at it in the face of mounting casualties – like the boy who put his finger in that Dutch dike – the Canadians prevented Kandahar from falling to the Taliban.


The momentum shifted in favour of Canada and its Afghan allies in 2009 after the Manley report to Parliament got the troops the helicopters and drones they badly needed and insisted that additional NATO forces (Americans) must join the battle in Kandahar, which changed the battle space geometry. For the first time, Canada was able to concentrate its forces and attention on districts to the south and immediately west of Kandahar City. The designer of the “ink spot” strategy that evolved was Lt.-Gen. Jon Vance, now the second-ranking NATO officer in Italy and soon to become Canada’s top “operator” as commander of the Canadian Joint Operations Command. Shrugging off praise for his Afghan strategy, Vance called it “Insurgency 101″ when I reached him the other day by telephone in Naples.


Vance had two combat commands in Afghanistan, so is well-placed to ponder the country’s future as Canada and NATO wind down their operations. Like me, the general has reservations about the Afghan government and wonders what might have been. “I am not convinced all of the Afghan political elite were honestly working towards the creation of a political movement that would be more powerful than the Taliban with an enlightening message for the people,” he said. “It seems to me there was not a wider catching on of those messages in the political architecture in Afghanistan so that the Taliban narrative got pushed out by a more positive Afghan narrative.” Vance’s point was that the Afghan government had a vital political role to play in the counter-insurgency. “You can’t be as effective as you want if the government is not there,” he said. “I don’t want too be too critical, to be too hard. They did not have enough white-collar capacity, for example. But I do wish that that part had been better.”

Vance and I differ somewhat over what Canadians think of the war and why. My view has been that Canadians were given an unnecessarily hysterical view of the situation by the media during the first half of the combat mission in Kandahar and heard far less about how Canada had turned the situation around during its last two years in the south. “Honestly, I am on the side of the ledger that the Canadian people did understand Afghanistan,” Vance said. “I think that they saw the nature of the Afghan conflict and found it difficult to arrive at a firm, satisfactory solution. That is pretty astute, because so did we.”


The roughest time for me, personally, in Afghanistan was when my colleague, Michelle Lang of the Calgary Herald, died alongside four soldiers in a roadside bombing just after Christmas in 2009. Having had dinner with Michelle not long before that in Alberta, and seeing her flag-draped coffin getting loaded into an aircraft, I could not for a long time reconcile two such different memories. Vance’s “toughest emotional moment” in Afghanistan happened six months earlier when Cpl. Nick Bulger, who was travelling with the general, as he often did, was killed by another roadside bomb.


“Every casualty was a real kick in the stomach,” Vance said. “It hurt especially when everybody had done the right thing. They were superbly trained and nobody did anything wrong. The nature of war is that you can get killed or injured at any time. It is capricious.” That was the precise message that my father, who fought in Normandy, Belgium and Holland, imparted to me when I went off to war with the U.S. Marines in Iraq and the Canadians in Afghanistan. War’s caprices were something I reflected on during every one of the dozens of solemn ramp ceremonies that I attended for Canada’s war dead in Kandahar. They will be on my mind again when the Canadian flag is lowered for the last time in Afghanistan.




Helene Cooper                                                                               

New York Times, Mar. 12, 2014


The top American commander in Afghanistan said on Wednesday that Al Qaeda would regroup and stage another attack on the West from Afghanistan if international troops completely withdrew from the country at the end of 2014. Appearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee, the commander, Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., said that as long as a new president of Afghanistan was in place by August, he was confident that a new security agreement would be signed to allow American and international troops to leave a residual force in the country, as military commanders would like, and as President Obama has said is his preferred option.


But General Dunford warned that if Afghanistan’s coming elections did not produce a new president by August, the residual force and the long-term stability of Afghanistan would be threatened. “The risk to an orderly withdrawal begins to get high in September, because of the number of tasks that need to be accomplished,” General Dunford said. “We still have plenty of flexibility to adjust in July.” He said that if Afghanistan signed a new security agreement with the United States, he would feel comfortable with a residual international force of between 8,000 and 12,000 troops. Those forces would train, advise and assist Afghan forces and also provide security for American commando operations. Under current Pentagon planning, about two-thirds of those forces would come from the United States.


President Obama announced two weeks ago that he had instructed the Pentagon to begin planning for a complete withdrawal of American forces because the departing president of Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai, was continuing to refuse to sign the security agreement. But in his testimony on Wednesday, General Dunford echoed fears expressed by other military leaders who have warned that a complete pullout of troops could end up negating 12 years of American fighting in Afghanistan. Without a core of Western troops remaining to support the Afghan government and continue training the security forces, General Dunford said, the chances are high that significant parts of the country will fall back under Taliban control, as they had been before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.


Nonetheless, Senator Joe Manchin III, Democrat of West Virginia, pressed General Dunford on why, after more than a decade of war, American forces should remain in Afghanistan. “Can you honestly tell the American people, can you tell the people in West Virginia, that we should be in Afghanistan, stay in Afghanistan, it’s our purpose to do that?” Mr. Manchin asked. “This one makes no sense to any West Virginian at all, not anywhere I go in my state.”

General Dunford insisted that if American forces went down to zero, it would be only a matter of time before the Taliban retook Afghanistan. “The deterioration of the Afghan forces begins to happen fairly quickly in 2015,” he said. “Units would run out of fuel, pay systems would not be completely operable, spare parts would not be available for vehicles and so we’d start to see decreased readiness in the Afghan security forces.” The hearing also touched on the crisis in Ukraine. Asked whether the United States could still get its equipment out of Afghanistan even if Russia cut off supply routes in retaliation for American sanctions against Russia, General Dunford said, “Yes.”                                                          




Michael Rubin                             

Commentary, Feb. 14, 2014


A quarter century ago tomorrow, the last Soviet tanks rolled across the “Friendship Bridge” into Termez, a small town in Soviet Uzbekistan. The nightmare which the Soviet experience in Afghanistan had become was finally over. Twenty-five years later, the Soviet experience still matters.


Washington D.C. in general and the White House in particular are infamous for convincing themselves that their own spin matters. As the United States prepares to withdraw most if not all of its forces from Afghanistan, political leaders and perhaps even some political generals will testify that the withdrawal confirms victory and a mission complete. They can spend hundreds of man hours crafting talking points and convince themselves that such things matter, but Afghans let alone the wider world interpret events through their own experience, not that of Washington spin artists.


Every Afghan tribal leader, village elder, and politician lived through the Soviet withdrawal and interprets current events through their own experience. So, what do they see? With the assistance of my colleague Ahmad Majidyar, I was asked to address this question at a presentation for a U.S. army unit. Here’s the core:


On one level, the goals of the Soviet Union and United States are remarkably similar on a macro level: Both seek the survival of the system they helped construct. The Soviets hoped to prevent outright Mujahedin victory, while the United States (and its NATO partners) seek to prevent outright Taliban victory. Both engaged similar efforts to advise, assist, and train. Policymakers in both cases were ambitious: The Soviets initially envisioned a 15,000-man advisory team, but ultimately settled for just a couple hundred. Likewise, it seems the United States might have to settle for far less than what its military strategies say is necessary.


Both the United States and Soviet Union faced similar obstacles: First was military stalemate. And, make no mistake, the United States and NATO are stalemated militarily by the Taliban, although that is largely because we have made a policy decision in the White House that we will not do what it takes to win. Both the United States and the Soviet Union also faced similar problems emanating from Pakistan, which had become a safe haven for the opposition.

Both Najibullah and Hamid Karzai had pursued a reconciliation strategy which led them to negotiate with the Mujahedin and Taliban respectively. In each case, the negotiations backfired as opponents smelled blood. Simultaneously, both the Soviet Union and United States have sought to bolster local and elite militias. This benefited security in the short term, but was corrosive in the long term. Regardless, both Moscow then and Washington now swore by the professionalism of their respective 350,000-man Afghan military. Such military, however, was heavily dependent on foreign assistance.


The Soviet Union and then Russia continued to provide about $3 billion in aid for each of the three years after the withdrawal, but as soon as the money ran dry, his regime and its military collapsed. The same will likely hold true for Karzai and the new Afghanistan Security Forces. A major difference, however, is that Afghanistan’s Najibullah-era air force could operate independently. Such cannot be said about Afghanistan’s air force today, which cannot function without ISAF assistance. That said, Karzai’s regime has international recognition. The Soviets had simply appointed Najibullah, who was therefore never able to claim internal legitimacy let alone win broad external recognition.


2014 will be a pivotal year for Afghanistan. The White House might hope for stability, but given the degree to which Afghans see history repeating, the opposite is much more likely true: As soon as the money runs out, expect the system to unravel. Momentum matters, and the first few defections will lead to a deluge. Many Afghans expect a civil war, or at least a multi-party civil struggle. How unfortunate this is, because it did not need to be this way.


Paranoia in Kabul: David Devoss, Weekly Standard, Feb. 24, 2014 —With a presidential election less than two months away, all eyes in Afghanistan should be on the coming vote.

Timeline: Involved since 2001, Canada Wraps Up its Mission in Afghanistan: Christina Commisso, CTV News, Mar. 11, 2014—Canada's military efforts in Afghanistan will end this month, with the withdrawal of the last 100 soldiers from Kabul, where they had been wrapping up training of Afghan National Security Forces.

Al-Qaida Plots Comeback in Afghanistan: Kimberly Dozier, Associated Press, Feb. 28, 2014 —Al-Qaida's Afghanistan leader is laying the groundwork to relaunch his war-shattered organization once the United States and international forces withdraw from the country, as they have warned they will do without a security agreement from the Afghan government, U.S. officials say.
The Grinning Generals Who Highlight Flaws in our Afghanistan Exit: Rob Crilly, Telegraph, Feb. 20, 2014 —So it's your first week in one of the most senior positions running international forces in Afghanistan. In the military jargon, you have just taken responsibility for the International Security Assistance Force Joint Command and are the deputy commanding general of American forces in the country. You might assume that your every move is subject to scrutiny.

Will 'Zero Option' in Afghanistan Cause Chaos?: Robert Burns, Associated Press, Feb. 28, 2014 —If President Barack Obama were to decide to leave no military advisory force in Afghanistan next year, would Afghan security unravel to the point of enabling a civil war, a Taliban takeover and a return of al-Qaida in such numbers as to pose a 9/11-type threat?









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Rob Coles, Publications Chairman, Canadian Institute for Jewish ResearchL'institut Canadien de recherches sur le Judaïsme, www.isranet.org

Tel: (514) 486-5544 – Fax:(514) 486-8284 ; ber@isranet.org


It is exceedingly rare that politicians speak clear and unadorned truth, especially today when elected officials rely on slick p.r. advisors and "professional" diplomats in their foreign ministries to crank out "balanced", and "even-handed", i.e., self-serving and often-cowardly  policy-statements.  Hence Stephen Harper's speech before the Israeli Knesset, and the world, today is truly remarkable: a politician speaking truth out of principle to the nation that invented "speaking truth to power", and to the world which so often subordinates speech to power.  When an elected official does this, despite the quickly expressed  negative criticisms and condemnations not only of many in Israel's sad and vicious region, but also in the United Nations, among some Western nations,  and even in the political opposition in his own country, he is not a politician, but a statesman, even a prophet.


The Canadian Prime Minister clearly noted the real issues confronting the Jewish state: unending antagonism on the part of both Arab dictatorships and West European democracies, the vile record of antisemitism leading to the Holocaust (and his own country's "none is too many" policy for Jewish refugees) and resurfacing today as "anti-Zionism", absurd "apartheid" analogies and calls for "BDS", Palestinian opposition to real peace and  ongoing terrorism, the terrible moral and political hypocrisy of the UN, and the US-led coalition's dangerous appeasement of Iran on the key nuclear issue which–once again–threatens the Jewish state's very existence.


Politicians come and go, as do political parties and governments. Indeed, Stephen Harper's Conservatives may well be defeated in the next, increasingly-impending Canadian election.  But when, disregarding politics, he says that embattled democratic Israel is a "great example to the world", that the Jewish state's story, despite suffering and horror, has been to "move beyond resentment and build a most extraordinary society"…one that so values life that, "overcoming the collective memory of death and persecution [it] will sometimes release a thousand criminals and terrorists to save one of [its] own"–he speaks not for the moment, but for the ages. 


Stephen Harper's historic Jerusalem appearance, and his prophetic words there, will long endure:  "Justice, Justice, thou shalt pursue", says the Biblical prophet, and we here in Canada should be proud that our Prime Minister's courageous words and deeds embody this call, and that they are now, as the ancient Greek historian said, a possession for all time.

                            (Prof. Frederick Krantz, Director of the Canadian Institute 

                             for Jewish Research, is editor of the Isranet Briefings)


Frederick Krantz


Today, the thirty-eighth anniversary of the Yom Kippur War, has gone largely unremarked. Yet it is imperative, especially today, in the context of the Palestinians’ “UDI” move at the UN and the general, if not unexpected, disappointment with the “Arab Spring” movements, that this anniversary not be forgotten.


In 1973 a diplomatically isolated Israel was rocked by a “surprise” coordinated Egyptian-Syrian attack launched as the Yom Kippur holiday began. (Many indications of what was coming were in fact ignored, as a later commission of inquiry concluded.) On both fronts, the Sinai peninsula and the Golan Heights, the enemy made significant initial advances before the Jewish state could marshall its forces and counter-attack.


Hanging on by the skin of their teeth in the North against Syrian tanks and armour, things in the south, after the Soviet-assisted Egyptian crossing of the Suez Canal, were turned around only by Ariel Sharon’s remarkable counter-attack, which brought the IDF to within a few hours of Cairo.


(One recalls the ambiguous actions of the US, led by Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, who admitted later he thought a limited Egyptian “victory” might prove beneficial to “peace” negotiations, and the crucial intervention of President Richard M. Nixon, who expedited rapid air resupply of crucially needed war materiel.)


1973 was a very close call, and reminded one and all of something some have today forgotten. The Arab states then, and still today, had not given up war as a means of extinguishing the Jewish state. Recognition of that state since by only two Arab regimes is today increasingly fragile—it is under attack by the “democratic” forces in Egypt, which include a renascent Moslem Brotherhood, and by the same forces in Jordan.


And Abbas at the UN, refusing to recognize Israel as a Jewish state, and ignoring Judaism in his paean to Islam and Christianity as the pillars of the Holy Land, clearly indicated the Palestinian and Arab strategy: delegitimate the Jewish state, maintain the claimed “right of return” of millions of “refugees”, and hope for democratic Israel’s demise, through external sanctions, internal demographic crisis, or a final Arab (or Arab-Turkish-Iranian) military victory.

1973 also demonstrates clearly the key, continuing importance of military force as an instrument of state policy. What stands between the unending Arab aspiration that Israel somehow disappear, and the accomplishment of that vicious desire, is certainly not the support of “the international community”. It is, finally, only the robust strength of Israeli democracy and economy, and the evident fact that the Israel Defense Force is the strongest and most effective army in the Middle East.


Israeltoday faces a grave, and deteriorating, situation; war is once again a possibility. There is renewed Egyptian intransigency, a resurgent and well-armed Islam under Erdogan in Turkey, a dangerous, border with the crumbling Assad regime in Syria, the Hamas terrorists in Gaza and their Hezbollah kin in Lebanon, and now the clear evidence of Mahmoud Abbas’ intransigency in the West Bank. And behind all this looms the impending nightmare of the Iranian nuclear weapon.


Given this, and given American waffling, Obama’s on-again, off-again, support (mirroring US irresolution in 1973), the Yom Kippur War anniversary should remind us of a central fact of politics and history. The “legitimacy” of a state, like its basic security, is, finally, a function of its own coherence, unity, determination, and self-actualized military strength. “Legitimation” is not, in the first instance, bestowed, or bought—it is earned.


Whatever its ancillary role, UN votes do not make states, and they cannot destroy them. Democratic, Jewish Israel is founded on the Rock recognized in its Declaration of Independence, confirmed by Israel’s successful armed defeat of hostile Arab powers determined to destroy it, and grounded ultimately in its armed citizenry’s continuing determination, supported by the Jewish People, that the Jewish state will never again be destroyed.

(Prof. Krantz is Editor of the Isranet Daily Briefing,
and Director of the
Canadian Institute for Jewish Research.)



Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks

Huffington Post, October 6, 2011

Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, is the holy of holies of Jewish time. It is that rarest of phenomena, a Jewish festival without food. Instead it is a day of fasting and prayer, introspection and self-judgment when, collectively and repeatedly, we confess our sins and pray to be written into God’s Book of Life.

Its hold on the Jewish imagination is immense and undiminished, even in a deeply secular age. Synagogues tend to be fuller on this day than any other. The atmosphere is vivid, the music solemn and majestic, the imagery gripping and powerful. It is as if the world had become a courtroom. God is sitting in judgment. The trial is about to begin. The watching angels are terrified, and we are the accused, our lives passing under Divine scrutiny. It is a drama not unlike the opening scene of the book of Job.

It is an emotionally demanding experience, but we emerge with a sense of purification. God’s forgiveness allows us to be honest with ourselves. We recognize our imperfections, admit our failures, and plead to God for clemency. We are his subjects, but we are also his children, and how angry can God be with us, given that he brought us into being in love? God judges but he also forgives: that is one of the most beautiful of the many ideas the Judeo-Christian tradition gave the world. Yom Kippur is the supreme day of forgiveness.

But there is a story to be told about the history of the day itself that is relevant to the condition of the West in the twenty-first century. Read the Bible—Leviticus, chapter 16—and you get an immediate sense of its drama in ancient times. On the holiest day of the year, the holiest man, the High Priest, would enter sacred space, the Holy of Holies, and atone for the sins of the nation. It was an elaborate ritual, involving other things the famous “scapegoat,” sent into the desert, and it continued throughout most of the biblical era.

Then came the tragedy that almost derailed Judaism completely: the failed rebellion against Rome in the first century that led to the destruction of the Second Temple. Now there was no Temple, no High Priest, no sacrifice, no scapegoat, no annual ritual of collective atonement. It was a spiritual trauma almost without precedent in Jewish history.

To be sure, the First Temple had been destroyed by the Babylonians six centuries earlier, and the people had survived. But then there had been prophets—Jeremiah in particular—who gave the people hope. The accuracy of Jeremiah’s prophecies of destruction that gave credibility to his vision of return, and it happened. Now, though, Rome was in the ascendant and there seemed no hope of reversing the situation. The failure of the Bar Kochba rebellion sixty years later confirmed the depth of the crisis. Jews had entered their longest exile. What would become of the Day of Atonement? With no Temple and no functioning priesthood how could Jews mend their relationship with God?

It was then that the great revolution took place in Jewish theology. Inspired by, among others, the first century scholar Rabbi Akiva, the sages came to the conclusion that in the absence of the High Priest, each Jew could turn directly to God, and through a combination of repentance, prayer and charity achieve atonement.

Holiness was democratized. Every place where Jews gathered to pray was like a fragment of the Temple in Jerusalem. Every prayer said from the heart was like a sacrifice. Each Jew on this day of days was like a priest. It was a stunning transformation.

Its effect on the Jewish people was no less spectacular. Throughout the biblical era the Israelites were portrayed as a fractious, rebellious people, drifting into idolatry and incurring the wrath of the prophets. From the first century onward, Jews became the most faithful people in history—the only people to retain their religious identity for two millennia as a dispersed minority, the only such group to resist assimilation to the dominant culture and conversion to the dominant faith. It was a tenacity that earned the awe of people as different as Blaise Pascal and Friedrich Nietzsche.

How did it happen? How was religious tragedy turned into spiritual triumph? That, it seems to me, is worthy of the serious reflection of serious minds. It happened, I believe, because in the absence of a High Priest, responsibility for achieving atonement devolved on every Jew, which they did both individually and collectively, just as we do today when we confess our sins, not in the privacy of the confessional, but together, out loud, in the synagogue. It was the devolution of responsibility that was transformational. With no High Priest to do it for them, Jews had to atone for themselves.

Contemporary Western societies have been moving in precisely the opposite direction for the past half century. The emphasis has been on rights, not responsibilities. When it comes to piecing together the fragments of broken lives, we have tended to place the entire burden on the state and its agencies. When things go wrong, someone else will put it right. The state has become for us what the High Priest was for ancient Israel. The results are no happier now than they were then: a long vacation from responsibility. Then, the symptoms were idolatry and sin. Today they are the breakdown of marriage, fragile families, the loss of community, and the spread of consumerism and moral relativism—all signs of a society in decline.

If the history of the Day of Atonement has anything to say to us now it is: never relieve individuals of moral responsibility. The more we have, the more we grow.


Stephen Brown
FrontPage, October 7, 2011

As if any further proof was necessary, Canada stepped forward once again and showed the world that it is Israel’s best friend. In taking the field on behalf of the Jewish people this time around, the Conservative government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper became the first country last week to sign the Ottawa Protocol on Combating Anti-Semitism.

“The fact that this important document was crafted in Ottawa is further testimony to Canada’s leadership role in this vital global battle,” said Shimon Fogel of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, adding that the protocol is “groundbreaking” and “will serve as the basis of the renewed international effort against anti-Semitism.”

The protocol, drawn up by international parliamentarians in a series of conferences that began in Ottawa last November, is intended to combat the ongoing, worldwide threat of anti-Semitism. It is a reaffirmation of the “commitment to institute tangible measures” to counter the scourge of anti-Jewish hatred that is often disguised as criticism of Israel. The Ottawa document is meant to plainly distinguish between the two and does so in exemplary fashion.

“The criticism of Israel similar to that levelled against any other country cannot be anti-Semitic,” the protocol states. “But singling Israel out for selective condemnation and opprobrium—let alone denying its right to exist or seeking its destruction—is discriminatory and hateful, and not saying so is dishonest.”

The Canadian government co-hosted last year’s initial conference along with the Inter-Parliamentary Coalition to Combat Anti-Semitism. The meeting “reaffirmed the London Declaration on Combating Anti-Semitism as a template for fighting anti-Jewish prejudice.” In this spirit, Prime Minister Harper addressed the November gathering and, in plain language not often heard from a politician, especially on this subject, showed his great respect and support for the Jewish state as well as a high level of morality and insight lacking in most other world leaders.

“When Israel, the only country in the world whose very existence is under attack, is consistently singled out for condemnation, I believe we are morally obligated to take a stand,” said Harper. “…Not just because it is the right thing to do, but because history shows us, and the ideology of the anti-Israel mob tell us all too well, that those who threaten the existence of the Jewish people are in the longer term a threat to us all.”

Without directly naming the guilty party, Harper also added “a hateful ideology with global ambitions” is the “one which targets the Jewish homeland as a scapegoat” and is responsible for Jews being “savagely attacked around the world.” Hopefully, someone from the Obama administration was present and taking notes.

The Ottawa Protocol on Combating Anti-Semitism is just the latest manifestation of Harper’s siding with Israel on the international stage. Since coming to power in Ottawa in 2006, the Canadian prime minister and his government have garnered nothing but praise from Jewish organizations and advocates for Israel around the world. His government’s pro-Israeli policies have earned his country the unofficial title of being the Jewish state’s “greatest friend in the world” at a time when Israel is under constant attack internationally and sometimes inside Canada itself.

Harper’s principled stand vis-à-vis Israel, for example, saw Canada become the first country to withdraw from the anti-Semitic, United Nations-sponsored Durban II and Durban III conferences. Also in regard to the disgraceful anti-Israel bias at the UN, Canada was in the forefront of opposing in 2008 the appointment of Richard Falk as the UN’s special rapporteur on the Palestinian territories.

Falk, described as a Jewish American academic, has in the past compared Israel to Nazi Germany, a common and sick theme among Israel haters. Falk also authored an anti-Israeli article called ‘Slouching toward a Palestinian Holocaust’. It was also about this time that Canada was “the sole holdout” in a 46-1 UN vote for Israel dismantling its settlements.

The Harper government also successfully blocked Obama’s move to have the G-8 countries issue a press release at their meeting last May that would include the president’s suggestion that Israel should negotiate with the Palestinians on the basis of returning to its 1967 borders. Obama had made the 1967 borders remark in a speech only a week earlier and obviously hadn’t planned on Canada’s opposition. Unfortunately, Canada was the only G-8 country to oppose the president’s press release plan.…

Stephen Harper’s unqualified support for Israel stems from his deep Christian convictions, like the other staunch advocates for Israel in North America, the fundamentalist Christians in the United States. Harper’s province, Alberta, is noted in Canada for its strong conservative and Christian heritage. Alberta’s provincial Conservative Party, for example, has held power in Edmonton uninterruptedly since 1971 and just elected its first woman leader.

It is from this background that the Harper government’s unbending moral convictions regarding Israel and other major issues of importance to Canadians derive. And unusual for this day and age, one can be sure the Harper government will not back down on these moral principles as long as it is in power. The Ottawa Protocol on Combating Anti-Semitism is just another proof of that.


Michael Freund
Jerusalem Post, October 5, 2011

It is one of the international community’s favorite adjectives to hurl at Israel. Time and again, whenever the Jewish state takes some action of one sort or another, a parade of world leaders turns to their lexicons and reaches for this old, reliable term of censure with which to berate us.

With little regard for the facts, they inevitably seek to lay the blame at Israel’s doorstep by invoking one particular slur. It is the ‘P’ word, as in “provocative” or “provocation.”

Just last week, this prejudicial profanity was repeatedly flung at Israel in the wake of the Interior Ministry’s decision to grant initial approval for 1,100 new housing units in the southern Jerusalem neighborhood of Gilo.

Barely had the gavel come down on the ruling before the leaders of the Free World rushed to outdo one another with their condemnation and criticism.

Calling the move “counter-productive,” US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told a news conference, “we have long urged both sides to avoid any kind of action which could undermine trust, including, and perhaps most particularly, in Jerusalem, any action that could be viewed as provocative”—there’s that word—“by either side”.

Going a step further, British Foreign Secretary William Hague called the move “illegal” and said, “This is a time when all parties should be striving to return to talks and responding to the Quartet statement call to refrain from”—here it comes…—“provocative actions.”

It didn’t seem to matter one whit that the approval of the Gilo proposal was just one small step in a lengthy bureaucratic process and that the bulldozers won’t be starting work any time soon. The mere idea of Jewish homes being built in Jerusalem appears to be sufficient to evoke anger across the globe.

Clearly, both Clinton and Hague are suffering from “selective provocation syndrome,” which is when one deems Israel’s actions to be provocative while ignoring similar moves by the Palestinians.…

Indeed, this past Sunday, the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS) released data indicating that the number of Palestinian homes in Judea, Samaria and Gaza has soared by over 25% in the past four years. This year alone, the Palestinians will build more housing units than Israel did in all of last year, even though our population is more than three times the size of theirs.

According to the PCBS, in 2011 the Palestinians will finish a whopping 33,822 dwellings, or 13 times the number currently being built by Jews in Judea and Samaria.

There is no doubt that this feverish building activity by the Palestinians will have an enormous impact on the ground, greatly expanding their presence in the “disputed” territories.

So why, then, is this too not regarded as a “provocation” that undermines peace efforts? Or is it only when Jews lay down cement that construction suddenly becomes confrontational? I guess not all “provocations” are created equal.

The fact is that it is neither logical nor fair to expect Israel to freeze building in Judea and Samaria or anywhere else while the Palestinians are busy at work.…

There is a struggle going on for control of this land and it is being fought in various ways, one of which is through the use of cranes and dump-trucks.

Israel has the right and the responsibility to deploy these instruments as it sees fit. So let Clinton, Hague and the others complain all they wish. The rebuilding of the Jewish homeland can and will continue.


Barry Rubin

Rubin Reports, October 6, 2011

“…never send to know for whom the bell tolls. It tolls for thee.”—John Dunne

Rome, Italy

I’m standing on the edge of the Roman Forum, by the Arch of Titus. This is the marble structure built by the Empire to commemorate the capture of Jerusalem and the destruction of the Temple about 1941 years ago. Legionnaires are shown carrying off the Menorah and other items from the sanctuary. The inhabitants are sold into slavery, The Jews are finished.

Well, not really. Today, the great empire has long vanished and Israel is not just a living country but by every social, economic, and security standard a successful country.

In the late 1960s, more than 40 years ago, the Palestinian and Arab leaders were certain that Israel would not survive. The fact that they were completely wrong has not prevented a whole new rash of contemporary speculations.

The PLO view, shared by virtually all Arabs at the time, was very clearly defined. The two main points boil down to the following. First, Israel would not survive because there was no real basis for such a state and people. Second, the Arabs would destroy it using various strategies.

Here is the ultimate quote from Yasir Arafat in1968—that’s 43 years ago—on why this would work: Terrorism would “create and maintain an atmosphere of strain and anxiety that will force the Zionists to realize that it is impossible for them to live in Israel.… The Israelis have one great fear, the fear of casualties.…”

The PLO’s attacks would “prevent immigration and encourage emigration….to destroy tourism, to prevent immigrants becoming attached to the land, to weaken the Israeli economy and to divert the greater part of it to security requirements.” This would “inevitably” prevent Israel’s consolidation and bring its disintegration. The final step would be “a quick blow by the regular armies at the right moment” to finish Israel off.

All of these things failed. More immigrants came than expected and were successfully integrated. People weren’t frightened into fleeing. Casualties were absorbed and limited. The country became economically successful and militarily victorious. Thus, today Israel is stronger—far stronger—than ever.

And who were the biggest losers in this conflict? Naturally, Israel has lost a great deal, especially in lives. But the biggest losers have been the Arabs who wasted resources, lost more lives, faced repeated humiliations, and ended up with dictatorship and stagnant societies. And they will be the biggest losers if they spend the next 60 years playing the same game.…

[Yet today] it is not Israel’s existence that is threatened but that of its adversaries and in some ways of Western Europe, too.

Its enemy neighbors and near-neighbors are about to embark on a decades’-long horrifying series of civil wars: Islamists against Arab nationalists; Sunni against Shia Muslims; economic collapse; and much more. Syria is on the verge of an inter-communal bloodbath; Egypt faces not some bright new economic dawn but a terrible reckoning. At some point the oil will run out with much of that wealth squandered. Recent discoveries even suggest that Israel itself will be a rising exporter of petroleum and natural gas.…

In contrast, there are only two ways Israel might perhaps disappear. First, it might happen if Arabs and Muslims dropped radicalism, ideology, and bickering to concentrate on technological and economic progress for 50 years, only then turning on Israel. That would require, for example, the Palestinians quickly dropping all of their rejectionism and demands to make a compromise agreement with Israel that they had no intention of keeping.

Yet quite the opposite is happening now. It is radicalism, not pragmatic development strategies that is in control. Besides, the problem is that a focus on material development and moderate democracy would erode Arab and Muslim tempers to the point that they would no longer want to engage in such a foolish and futile life-and-death struggle, which is why the Islamists reject that approach.

The other way Israel might be wiped off the map is if its leaders heeded the advice they are getting from the West. That’s the irony of the situation. Those stubborn, stiff-necked people are not going to doom themselves by implementing the mistaken ideas told to them by Western media, experts, intellectuals, and governments who claim such policies are the road to safety.

Part of the problem here is that all too many Western intellectuals no longer believe in fighting—or even sacrificing—for your country; patriotic pride or nationalism or religion; or even the nation-state itself. Consequently, while many Arabs and Muslims don’t believe Israel can exist because of contempt for Jews and belief in the superiority of their nations and religion, many Westerners now believe in the wickedness of their countries and religion and the unviability of the national model.

In thinking about Israel, both these opposite arguments amount to the same thing. Yet they tell more about those having these ideas than about Israel.

When a European cabinet minister says his country has no distinct culture and another urges the locals to be nice to Muslims so they will reciprocate after they take over; when a European country’s counterintelligence chief .tells me his country has no future, and a quartet of professors from another remark to me over cocktails that they believe their country is finished, is it Israel that is in danger of collapse? Who’s really facing the abyss?…

All of this also shows why Israel is the key to understanding today’s world. Israel’s survival shows that democratic societies can fight and defeat dictators and totalitarian ideologies, Western religions do have a continuing place in Western societies and nation-states are still a viable—perhaps the most viable—way to organize many political structures.

That’s precisely why so many are working so hard to demonize and discredit Israel. If people in the West understand what Israel is and what it is doing, they will comprehend the value of those approaches and values. And if they understand how Israel is lied about and mistreated they will comprehend much wider problems with the people, ideas, and institutions governing their own lives today.



Janice Arnold
Canadian Jewish News, September 28, 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Isi Leibler
Jerusalem Post, September 27, 2011

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

We are probably more globally isolated than ever before.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Ben Caspit
Jerusalem Post, October 3, 2011

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

Shalom and a happy Jewish New Year!

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

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

That’s what has changed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Barbara Kay
National Post, September 28, 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Jonathan Kay
National Post, September 28, 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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