Tag: Yom Kippur War

CAMPUS “SOCIAL JUSTICE WARRIORS” STIFLE FREE SPEECH & ACADEMIC FREEDOM; REMEMBERING FALLEN SOLDIERS & LEONARD COHEN

 

Jordan Peterson — a Real Professor, at Last: Rex Murphy, National Post, Oct. 30, 2016 — By now most of the country is familiar with the story of one professor, Jordan Peterson…

Professor who Tweeted Against PC Culture is Out at NYU: Melkorka Licea, New York Post, Oct. 30, 2016 — An NYU professor crusading against political correctness and student coddling was booted from the classroom last week after his colleagues complained about his “incivility,” The Post has learned.

Angels of the Battlefield: Bernie M. Farber, National Post, Nov. 11, 2016— As today is Remembrance Day, it behooves us to recall those who served with great courage during the Second World War…

The Extraordinary Israeli Story Behind Leonard Cohen's 'Lover, Lover, Lover': Judy Maltz, Ha’aretz, Nov. 11, 2016— It wasn’t only that his sad and beautiful lyrics resonated so strongly with them.

 

On Topic Links

 

The Right to be Politically Incorrect: Jordan Peterson, National Post, Nov. 8, 2016

The Forgotten WWI Battle That Helped Define Canada as a Nation: Roy MacGregor, Globe & Mail, Nov. 11, 2016

New Leonard Cohen Song is Very Jewish — and Very Dark: Gabe Friedman, Times of Israel, Sept. 22, 2016

The Tangled Jewish Roots of Mile-End’s Music Scene: Mark Slutsky, Red Bull Music Daily, Oct. 26, 2016

 

 

 

JORDAN PETERSON — A REAL PROFESSOR, AT LAST

Rex Murphy

National Post, Oct. 30, 2016

 

By now most of the country is familiar with the story of one professor, Jordan Peterson, at the University of Toronto, who has expressed strong and vivid dissent over the university’s attempt to force him to use certain words — ersatz pronouns, a batch of neologisms (ze, zim, zer, and a raft of others, in place of he or she) coined by progressive groups, intended to apply to students who “self-identify” as other than the archaic and obsolete designations of man and woman.

 

Prof. Peterson will not use these new cant words. He will not be ordered by the university, or pressured by activists, to take their words and put them in his mouth. He goes further and insists that it is an abandonment of academic freedom, and freedom of speech more generally, for the university or others to insist or attempt to mandate such a practice. He has made three videos arguing his case. He points out the ideological forces, the “political agenda” behind “language politics,” and correctly argues and identifies that there is far more at stake in this instance than some local gripe about grammatical commonplaces on a single campus.

 

As a consequence, Peterson received from his university two letters of reprimand and warning, one of which I would like to deal with in some detail, for it is a most miserable document, in content, tone and misdirection. And, coming from a university, it is also simultaneously shameless and utterly shame-worthy. The letters are easily available online for your reference. There is much to object to, but let me concentrate just on the following passage.

 

As a result of Peterson’s speaking on these matters, “Some students have been the target of specific and violent threats, including threats of assault, injury and death against them individually and as members of the trans community. We trust these that these impacts on students and others were not your intention in making (the controversial remarks). However, in view of these impacts, as well as the requirements of the Ontario Human Rights Code, we urge you to stop making these remarks.”

 

Is the university seriously claiming, by inference or direct assertion, that because a professor has freely chosen not to speak a set of freshly made-up words that others insist he speak, that others, because of the professor’s intellectual dissent, have really been made targets of “assault, injury, and death threats”?

 

Has the University of Toronto been moved to Iran now, that such things happen? That such “impacts” fall from the serene academic sky when a professor unfolds a reasonable (if contentious) argument, an argument moreover which, if at all studied, proves to be an actual defence of the idea of a real university, one that respects standards of debate, argument, and illustrates the very academic autonomy university tenure was meant to buttress and consolidate?

 

Is it really their expectation or experience that Peterson’s defence of the centrality of free speech and intellectual exchange precipitate “assaults, injury or death threats”? I must believe, though it storms my senses of logic and credibility, that the university authorities do so, since they go on to “urge” him to stop making his arguments.

 

But if there are real threats of death, injury and violence, why “urge” him to stop? Why not, in so serious a matter, order him. Answer: because “urge” is a weasel word, and allows the enlightened authorities at the seat of higher learning to convey their sweet and sanctimonious concern without having the courage to actually command what, if the danger was real, they certainly would.

 

I simply don’t believe them. But if they present their police reports (for surely threats of injury, violence and death have been reported?), and show evidence of increased security and police patrols, I might change my mind. In the meantime, on the wild chance all this is indeed the case, every student should stay away from University of Toronto campus until the carnage stirred up by The Great Pronoun War subsides.

 

This is human resources-speak at its demeaning worst. The whole letter is the university’s leaders reaching for the stock phrases and code speak of “social justice” to coat their otherwise absolutely unsupportable efforts to contain their discomfort with an academic who is, actually, true to his calling. It’s a letter of threat, masquerading as an epistle of concern.

 

And following that logic, are they seriously asserting that the professor should abandon his absolute right to speak the thoughts and words he chooses to speak in the academy, because if he does not, then somehow should these “death threats” materialize, he will bear the burden of being their cause? This is an implicit accusation straight out of the nightmare pages of real world dystopias, all the menace of Animal Farm without Orwell’s drear wit.

 

Just who is “unsafe” here? Peterson himself, of course. When bravely and openly he went public to argue his case, a mob surrounded him, threatened him, drowned out his words with a “white noise” machine, and subjected him to a barrage of insults, slanders and pure insolence.

 

Were I a president of a university, and it sent out a letter of this intellectual fragility and insidious threat under the university’s imprimatur, I would see it expunged instantly, or resign for fear of disgrace by association. And were I a president, and a mob of hostile, anti-intellectual bullies harassed and threatened a professor on my campus, either the members of the mob would go, or I would. It should be as clear as that.

 

The older, raw, honest tyrannies told people what not to speak. But the new, wilier versions, midwifed by our famous human rights overseers, are proposing to insist on what we must speak. Here be the new axioms of our day: we own your pronouns, use no others. “He” and “she” are assault words. Freedom of speech is the life-raft flotsam of gurgling obscurantists and bigots going down for the last time. Prof. Jordan Peterson is a brave man. Better, he is an actual, a real, university professor. May his stamina and courage hold. Parents, send your children to his classes.

 

                                                                         

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PROFESSOR WHO TWEETED AGAINST PC CULTURE IS OUT AT NYU                                                                    

Melkorka Licea                                                                                                       

New York Post, Oct. 30, 2016

 

An NYU professor crusading against political correctness and student coddling was booted from the classroom last week after his colleagues complained about his “incivility,” The Post has learned. Liberal studies prof Michael Rectenwald, 57, said he was forced Wednesday to go on paid leave for the rest of the semester. “They are actually pushing me out the door for having a different perspective,” the academic told The Post.

 

Rectenwald launched an undercover Twitter account called Deplorable NYU Prof on Sept. 12 to argue against campus trends like “safe spaces,” “trigger warnings” policing Halloween costumes and other aspects of academia’s growing PC culture.

 

He chose to be anonymous, he explained in one of his first tweets, because he was afraid “the PC Gestapo would ruin me” if he put his name ­behind his conservative ideas on the famously liberal campus. “I remember once on my Facebook I posted a story about a kid who changed his pronoun to ‘His Majesty’ because I thought it was funny,” he told The Post. “Then I got viciously attacked by 400 people. This whole milieu is nauseating. I grew tired of it, so I made the account.”

 

On Oct. 11, Rectenwald used his ­internet alter ego to criticize “safe spaces” — the recent campus trend of “protecting” students from uncomfortable speech — as “at once a hall of mirrors and a rubber room.”  Two weeks ago he posted on his “anti-PC” feed a photo of a flyer put out by NYU resident advisers telling students how to avoid wearing potentially offensive Halloween costumes. His caption read: “The scariest thing about Halloween today is . . . the liberal totalitarian costume surveillance. NYU RAs gone mad,” he wrote. “It’s an alarming curtailment of free expression to the point where you can’t even pretend to be something without authorities coming down on you in the universities,” Rectenwald told The Post.

 

But the Twitter feed soon sparked a “witch hunt” by the growing army of “social justice warriors,” he said. In an interview published Monday in the Washington Square News, NYU’s Independent Student Newspaper, the eight-year instructor admitted he was the Deplorable NYU Prof. “My contention is that trigger warning, safe spaces and bias hot-line reporting is not politically correct. It is insane,” he told the student paper. “The crazier and crazier that this left gets . . . the more the alt-right is going to be laughing their asses off [and] getting more pissed.”, he was quoted as saying. The divorced father of three came forward because “I thought there was nothing objectionable about what I had said.”

 

But Rectenwald says he began getting “dirty looks” in his department and on Wednesday figured out why: A 12-person committee calling itself the Liberal Studies Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Working Group, including two deans, published a letter to the editor in the same paper. “As long as he airs his views with so little appeal to evidence and civility, we must find him guilty of illogic and incivility in a community that predicates its work in great part on rational thought and the civil exchange of ideas,” they wrote of the untenured assistant professor.

 

“We seek to create a dynamic community that values full participation. Such efforts are not the ‘destruction of academic integrity’ Professor Rectenwald suggests, but rather what make possible our program’s approach to global studies,” they argued. Rectenwald likened the attack to “a Salem witch trial. They took my views personally. I never even mentioned them and I never even said NYU liberal studies program. I was talking about academia at large,” said the professor, a popular instructor who was graded 4.4 out of 5 on ratemyprofessors.com.

 

The same day the letter was published, Rectenwald was summoned to a meeting with his department dean and an HR representative, he says. “They claimed they were worried about me and a couple people had expressed concern about my mental health. They suggested my voicing these opinions was a cry for help,” Rectenwald told The Post. “Then they said I should leave and get help.” He said, “They had no reason to believe that my mental health was in question, unless to have a different opinion makes one insane.” Students told him that professors openly discussed with students how he may be fired.

 

The leave has “absolutely zero to do with his Twitter account or his opinions on issues of the day,” said NYU spokesman Matt Nagel. But Rectenwald is disheartened. “I’m afraid my academic career is over,” he said Rectenwald. “Academic freedom: It’s great, as long as you don’t use it.”                          

 

                       

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ANGELS OF THE BATTLEFIELD                                                                          

Bernie M. Farber                                                                                                           

National Post, Nov. 11, 2016

 

As today is Remembrance Day, it behooves us to recall those who served with great courage during the Second World War, and to remember that heroes come in all shapes and sizes — not all of them carried guns or flew Spitfires. Those who were part of the Canadian Field Ambulance Service are a fine example. Very often these angels of the battlefield undertook to administer to the medical needs of those who were wounded in action, dressing injuries and evacuating soldiers, very often risking their own lives to do it.

 

Pte. Harold “Red” Fromstein served with the Black Watch, Canada’s oldest Highland Regiment. Established in 1862, the Black Watch — based in Montreal, where it still has its headquarters — fought gallantly in battles from the time of the Fenian raids in 1866, through two world wars and even in modern Afghanistan.

 

Born in Toronto, Fromstein moved with his family to Montreal as a teenager. He and his brothers were well known for their athletic abilities and were active with the Young Men’s Hebrew Association there. When war broke out in 1939, the three brothers, like more than 17,000 other young Canadian Jews (fully 20 per cent of the entire Canadian male Jewish population of the time), enlisted in the Canadian Armed Forces.

 

Fromstein was only 17 years old when he joined up in August 1940, but he was so anxious to see action that he used his older brother’s name and papers. He saw much action as a stretcher-bearer with his rifle company. While serving in France in July 1944, he was shot and treated in a French medical unit in Nazi-held territory, forcing him to remain in hiding until American troops captured the area.

 

A few months later, in February 1945, he found himself in the Hochwald Gap in Germany. Though by that time the Germans knew the war was lost, they were determined to make the Allies fight for every inch of the Fatherland. At one point during this ferocious clash, several Canadian tanks and a large part of a rifle company were pinned down under heavy fire. There were many casualties and moving forward was almost impossible.

 

Pte. Fromstein understood what he had to do. Oblivious to the gun and mortar fire, he scurried over to the wounded and tended to their injuries. Many had to be evacuated and it was up to him to make that happen. Disregarding his own safety, he organized the effort to move the gravely wounded. The tortuous path to safety extended over a mile of gun-infested trails and mortar fire. The heroic actions of Pte. Fromstein undoubtedly saved many lives.

 

As a result of his extreme courage under unspeakable battle conditions, he was awarded the Military Medal on June 5, 1945. The citation read, in part, “This soldier’s exceptionally courageous acts, which were far in excess of his normal duty, definitely saved the lives of several of his comrades and not only earned him the admiration and respect of all ranks of his company but assisted greatly in maintaining the morale of his comrades at fighting pitch.” Fromstein was among the 1,971 Canadian Jewish soldiers to receive military honours, more than 10 per cent of the entire Canadian Jewish fighting force.

 

 

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THE EXTRAORDINARY ISRAELI STORY BEHIND LEONARD COHEN'S 'LOVER, LOVER, LOVER'           Judy Maltz                                       

Ha’aretz, Nov. 11, 2016

 

It wasn’t only that his sad and beautiful lyrics resonated so strongly with them. And it wasn’t only because he was a fellow member of the tribe. Leonard Cohen, who died on Friday at the age of 82, has long held a special place in the hearts of Israelis, thanks in large parts to his extraordinary act of solidarity during one of their darkest moments.

 

In October 1973, when the Yom Kippur War broke out, Cohen was living on the Greek island of Hydra with his partner Suzanne and their son Adam. Wanting to lend his assistance to the Jewish people but not knowing exactly how, he boarded a flight to Tel Aviv, hoping to volunteer on a kibbutz. Israel’s collective farms were facing a severe manpower shortage at the time because most able-bodied men had been called up to combat.

 

He was sitting at a cafe on Tel Aviv’s famed Dizengoff Street, engaged in conversation with a well-known Israel actor, when the Canadian songwriter and poet was recognized by one of his local admirers, the singer Oshik Levi. Levi approached Cohen and asked what he was doing in Israel. When Cohen relayed his plans to volunteer on a kibbutz, Levi immediately dissuaded him, saying he could put his talents to much better use elsewhere. Why don’t you come join me and some friends who’ll be performing for the troops in the Sinai? Levi suggested.

 

Cohen was initially reluctant. He didn’t think his sad songs were the best way to boost the morale of the troops, he said. “I told him that everything will be alright,” Levi later recounted in an interview with i24News.

 

Levi was part of a band known at the time as “The Geneva Conference,” which included one of Israel’s most talented musicians, Matti Caspi. For the next few months, Cohen joined them as a singer, with Caspi accompanying him on guitar as they made the rounds performing for Israeli troops during the Yom Kippur War. A recently unearthed photo taken near the Suez Canal at the time shows Cohen standing between Caspi and the controversial general who would many years later become Israel’s prime minister – Ariel Sharon.

 

It was after his first performance in the Sinai that Cohen, according to various accounts, found himself a relatively quiet corner and scribbled down the words to what would later become one of his popular songs. He emerged with a piece of paper on which were written to words to “Lover Come Back To Me” and which was performed there in the Sinai Desert during the Yom Kippur War for the very first time. Also known as “Lover, Lover, Lover,” It ends with the following words:

 

And may the spirit of this song,

may it rise up pure and free.

May it be a shield for you,

a shield against the enemy.

 

Cohen would later say he wrote “Lover Come Back to Me” for soldiers on both sides of the battle lines – Israeli and Egyptian. But at a performance in Tel Aviv in 1980, he said it was inspired “by the grace and the bravery of many Israeli soldiers at the front” and described his experiences with the troops during the Yom Kippur War as “invigorating and depressing.”

 

The song was eventually included in his 1974 album “New Skin for the Old Ceremony.” That album also included another well-known song believed to have been influenced by Cohen’s Yom Kippur War experiences: “Who By Fire?” That song is based on the words of the Hebrew prayer, “U’netanneh Tokef” – recited on the Jewish High Holy Days.

 

CIJR Wishes All Our Friends & Supporters: Shabbat Shalom!

On Topic Links

 

The Right to be Politically Incorrect: Jordan Peterson, National Post, Nov. 8, 2016—A month ago, I posted three videos to my YouTube channel, as a means of speaking out against our culture’s politically correct insanity. I specifically objected to Bill C-16, a bill that has now passed second reading in the House of Commons, which adds “gender identity” and “gender expression” to the list of attributes protected by the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code, and to similar legislation already in place in Ontario and other provinces.

The Forgotten WWI Battle That Helped Define Canada as a Nation: Roy MacGregor, Globe & Mail, Nov. 11, 2016—The Baker Boys had a grand plan. To celebrate Greg Baker’s 65th birthday, his brothers Randy and Bruce would join him on a trek they had dreamed about most of their lives. They would leave their Ottawa homes and fly first to England to see the small coastal town in Suffolk that their grandfather and two older brothers left in 1908 to settle in Canada.

New Leonard Cohen Song is Very Jewish — and Very Dark: Gabe Friedman, Times of Israel, Sept. 22, 2016—Leonard Cohen released a new song on Wednesday, which happens to be his 82nd birthday — but it isn’t quite a celebratory tune. Dense with Jewish language and themes, “You Want it Darker” will appear on the songwriter’s upcoming album of the same name (his 14th studio album) on Oct. 21. The song delivers on the promise of its title — it’s really, really dark. The song is an eerie, minimalist rumination with strong religious elements in the lyrics. At the end of the chorus Cohen sings “Hineni, hineni; I’m ready, my lord.” Hineni is Hebrew for “here I am,” and is the response Abraham gives when God calls on him to sacrifice his son Isaac.

The Tangled Jewish Roots of Mile-End’s Music Scene: Mark Slutsky, Red Bull Music Daily, Oct. 26, 2016—Picture this: Montréal is a regional epicenter of a thriving music scene. It’s largely based around the Plateau and Mile-End neighborhoods, in venues on Fairmount, St-Laurent, Duluth and St-Urbain streets. Its practitioners have flocked to the city from around the world, attracted by the music community’s vitality and international reputation. The best of them, some surprisingly young, are considered stars in the musical firmament, though many still toil away in poverty. The community is supported by an appreciative local press and attracts impresarios, audiences and money.

 

26TH ANNIVERSARY GALA II: THE “SPIRIT OF MAHAL” LIVES ON THROUGH THE COURAGE OF THE IAF & OF THOSE WHO FIGHT ANTI-ISRAEL BIAS ON CAMPUSES

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

 

Israel’s Air Force to Increase Operational Capability by 400 Percent: Algemeiner, June 8, 2014—  The Israeli Air Force chief stated last week that the IDF’s offensive capabilities will quadruple by the end of 2014.

1981 Operation Opera (Strike on Iraq’s Nuclear Reactor): IDF Blog, June 7, 2014: On June 7, 1981, a squadron of IAF fighter planes took off on their way to Iraq to destroy the Osirak nuclear reactor and put a halt to the Iraqi nuclear program, which President Suddam Hussein had used to openly threaten Israel. 

The Volunteers: Gail Lichtman, Jerusalem Post, May 1, 2008— Sixty years ago, during Israel's War of Independence, some 3,500 men and women from 44 countries around the world left the comfort of their homes and families to help the fledgling Jewish state in its struggle for survival as part of Mahal (the Hebrew acronym for "overseas volunteers").

Sarah Bernamoff: "Don't Accept What is Becoming The Status Quo": Ilana Shneider, Shalom Toronto, June 5, 2014— Sarah Bernamoff is a 33 year old Calgarian, born to an Israeli mother and Canadian father.

 

On Topic Links

 

The Next Arab-Israeli War Will Be Fought with Drones: Yochi Dreazen, New Republic, Mar. 26, 2014

5 Most Innovative Weapons the IDF Has to Offer (That We Can Tell You About): IDF Blog, Apr. 20, 2014

Stanley Medicks – The Man Behind the Mahal Memorial: Elana Overs, Jerusalem Post, June 27, 2013

The Spirit of Mahal Lives On: Smoky Simon, Jerusalem Post, Feb. 27, 2014

 

ISRAEL’S AIR FORCE TO INCREASE OPERATIONAL

CAPABILITY BY 400 PERCENT

Algemeiner, June 8, 2014

                         

The Israeli Air Force chief stated last week that the IDF’s offensive capabilities will quadruple by the end of 2014. In a single day, Israeli planes will be able to strike thousands of terror targets and expand the IDF’s achievements during extended operations. Major General Amir Eshel, commander of the Israel Air Force, spoke last week at the Tenth Annual Conference for National Security on the contribution of air power to Israel’s strategic capabilities. Maj. Gen. Eshel discussed the air force’s attack and defensive capabilities during times of war and routine operations.

 

“I believe our capabilities are only second to the United States, from both an offensive and defensive standpoint,” the IAF commander said, referring to a significant leap in capabilities over the past two years. He based his assessment on an evaluation of IDF abilities and conversations with officials from foreign militaries. “We have an unprecedented offensive capability, which allows us to accurately strike thousands of targets in one day. We have doubled our abilities twice in the past two years. By the end of 2014, we will see an improvement of 400 percent to our offensive capabilities relative to the recent past, as a result of a long improvement process.”

 

To illustrate Israel’s advancements, the IAF Commander compared the air force’s new efficacy to other achievements in recent years. “The air force at the end of 2014, in less than 24 hours, can do what it did in three days during the Second Lebanon War, and can do in 12 hours what it did in a week during Operation Pillar of Defense.” Maj. Gen. Eshel stated that “Israel can not afford lengthy attacks. We need to win quickly. A short time, in my opinion, is a few days. I do not believe in conducting long wars.” The air force chief argued that accurate and quality firepower is the main variable in achieving victory. To do so, he said, “It’s not enough to have just technical ability – we need to adopt an approach. We’re talking about an operation with full power; all of the air force, all encompassing, from the opening of the offensive effort in order to strike as powerfully as possible and shorten the war.”

 

“We can destroy the military capabilities and infrastructure that support the activities of Hezbollah on a scale that would require decades to rebuild. We could achieve a direct hit on the terror organization and all that supports it on an unimaginable scale,” the IAF commander said. “Unfortunately Hezbollah took its assets and moved them into the cities,” he added. Hezbollah terrorists position themselves deep within civilian urban areas, where they use homes and civilians as shields against Israeli counterattacks. In recent years, they have also mastered the technique of disappearing underground. “This is a very significant challenge because we do not want to hurt innocent bystanders.”

 

In the face of these challenges, the IDF uses precision strikes to eliminate terror targets, a method which also prevents operations from spiraling into wars. “What characterizes our air power is our ability to control its impact, and this is very important during incidents of combat between wars,” Maj. Gen. Eshel explained. “Everything is flexible and subject to change. This is the advantage of the air force: the ability to take the hammer that was made for wars and use it in a more limited capacity.”

 

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1981 OPERATION OPERA (STRIKE ON IRAQ’S NUCLEAR REACTOR)         

IDF Blog, June 7, 2014

 

On June 7, 1981, a squadron of IAF fighter planes took off on their way to Iraq to destroy the Osirak nuclear reactor and put a halt to the Iraqi nuclear program, which President Suddam Hussein had used to openly threaten Israel. The operation was not simple. To neutralize the threat, Israeli fighter planes would have to fly all the way to Iraq. The  operation had many obstacles, which the Air Force overcame with a combination of great planning and pure good luck. The main problem was flying such a huge distance –almost 1,000 miles— undetected while in enemy airspace.

 

For this they prepared eight heavily-fueled F-16 fighter planes and six F-15s just for backup. Among the F-16 pilots was a young Ilan Ramon, who would later go on to be the first Israeli astronaut. The squad left Israel’s Etzion Airbase on June 7 at 3:55 PM. While flying in Jordanian airspace, the team spoke to ground control in Saudi-accented Arabic, pretending to be flying aircraft that simply went off course. They successfully passed through unchallenged.

 

The plan was almost thwarted by King Hussein of Jordan, who was on vacation in Aqaba at the time, and noticed the planes flying overhead. He ordered an alert to warn Iraqi forces, but the message was never received because of a communication error. Another bit of luck came at the hands of the Iraqi military itself. The soldiers in charge of Iraq’s anti-aircraft defenses left for lunch 30 minutes before the attack and turned off their radars. Though some of the Israeli aircraft were eventually detected, they avoided any anti-aircraft fire. In all, the strike itself took less than two minutes and accomplished its objective of neutralizing the Iraqi nuclear threat.

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THE VOLUNTEERS                                                            

Gail Lichtman                                                                                                                  Jerusalem Post, May 1, 2008

 

Sixty years ago, during Israel's War of Independence, some 3,500 men and women from 44 countries around the world left the comfort of their homes and families to help the fledgling Jewish state in its struggle for survival as part of Mahal (the Hebrew acronym for "overseas volunteers"). Mainly World War II veterans with military training and experience, their contribution was decisive in helping Israel establish an army and win its fight for existence against an invading force of five Arab armies.

 

The Mahalniks, as they were known, brought with them the military expertise, familiarity with equipment and arms, combat experience and knowledge of military frameworks that proved vital to the newly formed IDF on the ground, at sea and in the air. Mahalniks served in every branch of the IDF, including artillery, infantry, armored corps, medical corps, engineers, signals, radar and the navy – many in key positions of command. The 425 Mahalniks who flew in the Israel Air Force and air transport command made up 95 percent of the air crews. In addition, 450 served in the Palmah and 200 were doctors and nurses in hospitals and frontline casualty stations. Some 250 Americans and Canadians manned the 10 Aliya Bet (illegal immigration) ships that ran the British blockade before the establishment of the state, bringing more than 31,000 Holocaust survivors to Palestine. And Mahalniks also paid the price of war – 121 of them (117 men and four women) fell during the War of Independence. Many more were injured and some went missing in action.

 

Mahalniks were overwhelmingly from English-speaking countries, but also included volunteers from Latin America, Europe and even some Arab countries. They were mainly Jews, motivated by Jewish solidarity and concerns for the security of the Yishuv in its struggle for survival, as well as by the historic reestablishment of a Jewish state after 2,000 years. But there were also non-Jews among them, horrified by the Holocaust, who wanted to aid the Jewish people. The most famous Mahal volunteer was American Col. David (Mickey) Marcus, who was recruited to serve as prime minister David Ben-Gurion's military adviser, and helped lay the foundation for transforming the pre-state defense forces into a regular army. His role in the construction of the Burma Road, which helped break the siege of Jerusalem, was critical. Killed by friendly fire in June 1948, Marcus was laid to rest at West Point, the only American soldier to be buried there who died fighting for a foreign country.

 

Ben-Gurion called the Mahal volunteers "the Diaspora's most important contribution to the survival of the State of Israel." In May 1993, then-prime minister Yitzhak Rabin said at the consecration of the Mahal Memorial in the Sha'ar Hagai Forest: "You came to us when we needed you most, during those dark and uncertain days of our War of Independence. You gave us not only your experience, but your lives as well. The people of the State of Israel will never forget, and will always cherish this unique contribution made by you – the volunteers of Mahal." Nevertheless, for much of Israel's history, Mahal's contribution has remained one of the best kept secrets of the War of Independence. It took 45 years before the Mahal Memorial was set up. And thousands of archival Mahal documents and photographs are still housed in the Kfar Shmaryahu home of former Mahalnik, David Teperson, who came from South Africa in 1948. One reason for the lack of publicity about Mahal is that most Mahalniks returned to their countries of origin after the war. Another was fear of the embargo policies and legal consequences the volunteers could face in the home countries (especially the US). Moreover, in the wake of the war, Israeli leaders believed that it was important for nation-building to emphasize the role of the Yishuv in the struggle for independence. In Jerusalem met with three local former Mahalniks, all octogenarians, who answered the call of 1948, and remained to make Israel their home…

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

 

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SARAH BERNAMOFF: "DON'T ACCEPT WHAT IS

BECOMING THE STATUS QUO"                                                                            Ilana Shneider                                                                                                                  Shalom Toronto, June 2, 2014

 

Sarah Bernamoff is a 33 year old Calgarian, born to an Israeli mother and Canadian father. Her family is of Yemenite, Greek, Spanish and Russian background. Sarah lived in Israel for 10 years, where she completed her BA in International Relations from Hebrew University. She recently graduated with an MBA from the University of Calgary and is commencing Law School this fall.

 

Sarah, you are the co-founder of Calgary United with Israel (CUWI), as well as Canadians for Human Rights (CHRME), a relatively new and very dynamic group of young pro-Israel advocates. Tell us how these organizations came about and what their mission is.

 

The organizations are a response to mounting hateful activity against Israel supporters, coupled with the perceived irresponsiveness of our “official Jewish community" to this activity. We asked for help and we were told to ignore the hateful activity; we asked to help, and we were told to donate to UJA. We are a group of students and other stakeholders who felt bullied on campus, abandoned by our Jewish leadership and ultimately that we had no voice. In response we established our grassroots organizations, which are now comprised of students, university alumni, professionals and community members at large – locally, nationally and internationally. Our members are Jewish, Muslim, Christian, Native and more. Our mission is to promote justice and human rights for all, in an overt fashion, with a focus on Israel and her Nation. Our values are moral and intellectual integrity, pro-activeness and camaraderie.

 

A founding member of CUWI is Ryan Bellerose, a Métis from Northern Alberta, founder of Canadians For Accountability (a Native rights advocacy group), an Idle No More movement organizer and a self-proclaimed Zionist. It's not very often that you see pro-Israel advocacy and Idle No More thrown together in the mix. How did this unlikely coalition come about?

 

We do not see this coalition as unlikely. We believe that the “right” and “left” political paradigm is currently a confused construct and that people can have views from different points along the political spectrum. It is a fallacy that issues of human rights and the environment should be on the left, while a pro-Israel stance should lay on the right. It can be boiled down to what is truthful, moral and intellectually honest. Jews have a moral, legal and historical right to self-determination in their indigenous land.

 

Furthermore, every human has the right to safety, freedom and basic wellness within his border. Therefore, any person with moral integrity who stands for true human rights, justice and democracy should feel aligned with Israel. Furthermore, for Ryan Bellerose and increasingly more Natives, there is a natural alignment with Jews and Israel as a successful indigenous project. As Naftali Bennet proudly stated recently on CNN, as he lifted a 2000 year old coin from Judea: “one cannot occupy his own home”. I recommend everyone read Ryan’s articles where he explains these points cogently (see www.cuwi.ca/ryan-bellerose).

 

CUWI's brand of Israel advocacy is fundamentally different from other Jewish organizations. You are an outspoken critic of “non-confrontational” stance and prefer to take direct and immediate action when faced with a rising tide of anti-Zionism, which often spills into overt anti-Semitism by well-funded and well-organized anti-Israel groups. Why do you think your hands-on approach is more effective than the traditional type of Hasbara in today's hostile campus environment?

 

I do not believe we are fundamentally different, but a cross-section. Many stakeholders feel exactly how we do; we are just one of the outspoken platforms for this growing public sentiment favoring overt advocacy.

 

In regards to “anti-Zionism”, the BDS and Apartheid Week hate campaigns carefully employ the word “Zionist” and not “Jew”. The goal is to artificially sever the inextricable bond between the Jewish Nation and Israel. The threat of BDS is not an economic one; the threat is the dehumanization and vilification of Jews and Israel supporters, for which the result is normalization of hatred. Normalized hate leads to actions of hate, as in the recent case at the University of Windsor where a hate crime against Jews was enacted the day before their BDS referendum. It is said that “possession is nine-tenths of the law”: in the absence of any voice declaring otherwise, the repeated vilification of Jews and Israel Supporters starts to become the version of truth that people accept. The largely unchallenged “disappearing Palestine” bus adverts did not help this. Of note, to bring up issues of “free speech” in this context is fallacious and shifts the real issue at hand…

 

You recently partnered with the Canadian Institute for Jewish Research (CIJR) on the Canadian Freedom Alliance, a national coalition group that supports pro-Israel students. Can you tell us about this initiative?

 

The goal of this initiative is to align Israel activists nationally who have a similar Israel advocacy approach and share the Canadian values of freedom, peace and moral integrity. Through unity, collaboration, exchange of information and alignment of resources we will be stronger in tackling our advocacy goals.

 

You are being featured at this year's Canadian Institute of Jewish Research gala, together with honouree Joe Warner, a Torontonian who was with the second Canadian Mahal Group in the anti-tank wing of the Givati Brigade (a group of volunteers which fought alongside Israelis in the 1948 War of Independence). How does it feel to share the stage with a veteran of Israel's War of Independence?

 

Of note, at the Montreal gala, Dr. William H. Novick with the Montreal Mahalniks will also be honoured. It is extremely humbling and inspiring to speak beside esteemed guest speakers who are the epitome of fighting for morality and justice, and that embody unapologetic Israel pride

 

As a young but seasoned activist, what is your advice to students who are faced with rising tide of anti-Zionism?

 

Don’t accept what is becoming the status quo. Attempts of bullying and intimidation, and regular attacks on your identity as a Jew or Israel Supporter are not acceptable and we are fighting it. Speak up. Verbalize your concern to people who can help. Don’t accept it as a norm. You have the right to study in a peaceful environment, not exposed to hatred, and with an equal chance for academic success. Deepen your bond with Israel. Travel to Israel. Know what it is and what it stands for. The Judean People are indigenous to the land of Israel and have had uninterrupted presence there for over 3200 years. The so-called “Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights” campus club has been systematically acting for the violation of Jewish Human Rights, deviously wrapping the club’s anti-Semitic agenda in the pseudo-fashionable politically correct guise of anti-Zionism. In the recent words of PM Harper: “[T]his is the face of the new anti-Semitism. It targets the Jewish people by targeting Israel and attempts to make the old bigotry acceptable to a new generation”…

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

 

The Next Arab-Israeli War Will Be Fought with Drones: Yochi Dreazen, New Republic, Mar. 26, 2014 hortly after 7 a.m. on a chilly morning at the Rosh Hanikra military base in northernmost Israel, Lieutenant Colonel Yogev Bar Sheshet was already on his third Diet Coke.

5 Most Innovative Weapons the IDF Has to Offer (That We Can Tell You About): IDF Blog, Apr. 20, 2014 The IDF is one of the most technologically advanced armies in the world. Check out our five most innovative weapons, (at least the ones that we can tell you about) which help IDF soldiers in the battlefield every day.

Stanley Medicks – The Man Behind the Mahal Memorial: Elana Overs, Jerusalem Post, June 27, 2013Stanley Medicks, who died in England earlier this month at the age of 82, was a commander in Mahal (Volunteers from Abroad) during the War of Independence and later served as chairman of British and Scandinavian Mahal.

The Spirit of Mahal Lives On: Smoky Simon, Jerusalem Post, Feb. 27, 2014For me, at the age of almost 94, this evening presents an outstanding opportunity to express my profound gratitude for the many blessings that have been bestowed upon me along my life’s journey.

                               

 

                            

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Contents:         

Visit CIJR’s Bi-Weekly Webzine: Israzine.

CIJR’s ISRANET Daily Briefing is available by e-mail.
Please urge colleagues, friends, and family to visit our website for more information on our ISRANET series.
To join our distribution list, or to unsubscribe, visit us at http://www.isranet.org/.

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CIJR’s ISRANET Daily Briefing attempts to convey a wide variety of opinions on Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish world for its readers’ educational and research purposes. Reprinted articles and documents express the opinions of their authors, and do not necessarily reflect the viewpoint of the Canadian Institute for Jewish Research.

 

 

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

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

26TH ANNIVERSARY GALA I: WITH ITS FLEDGLING DEBUT IN 1948, THROUGH THE YOM KIPPUR WAR, WE HONOR THE IAF—PAST & PRESENT

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

 

Israel Air Force is Deadlier Than Ever: Ron Ben-Yishai, Ynet, May 8, 2014— At first we'll experience a number of tough days. Rockets and missiles, directed mainly at the Tel Aviv metropolitan area.        

Above and Beyond: the Birth of the Israeli Air Force: Daniel Smajovits, Jewish Tribune, Feb. 19, 2014— The Valley of Elah blends seamlessly into the landscape of Israel.

The Yom Kippur War Was 40 Years Ago. Everything You Thought You Knew About It Is Wrong: Michael B. Oren, New Republic, Oct. 15, 2013— Egyptians marked the fortieth anniversary of their army's putative triumph over Israel by bloodying one another in Tahrir Square.

 

On Topic Links

 

Remembering the Yom Kippur War, 40 Years On: Jerusalem Post, Sept. 13, 2013

40 Years Since the Yom Kippur War #1: The First Strike: IDF Blog, Oct. 7, 2013

Three films to focus on Israeli Air Force: Jewish Journal, Feb. 27, 2013

Sample Reel for 'Above and Beyond: The Birth of the Israeli Air Force' (Video): Playmount Productions, 2014

 

ISRAEL AIR FORCE IS DEADLIER THAN EVER

Ron Ben-Yishai

Ynet, May 8, 2014

                         

At first we'll experience a number of tough days. Rockets and missiles, directed mainly at the Tel Aviv metropolitan area. The aerial defense will mostly defend strategic facilities and bases, in the big cities buildings will collapse and there will be casualties. But it won't last for long. The Israel Air Force will respond immediately, and after a few days we will see a significant drop in the number of missiles fired on Israel. A ceasefire will follow, there will be some more rocket fire, and then a truce and relative calm for several years thanks to the restored deterrence. This is the serious but reasonable scenario the IDF is preparing for, and this is the political echelon's strategic target. It will be a "high-trajectory war." Whether the rocket fire comes from Syria, Lebanon, Gaza or Iran – the goal will to end it quickly in order to minimize damages and losses, while causing maximum damage on the other side, so that it feels the urgency to pursue a ceasefire.

 

Israel Air Force (IAF) Commander Major-General Amir Eshel and senior IAF officers believe it is possible – and even more: With the intelligence, the arms and aircraft available at the Air Force's disposal, they believe it could reach the described achievements on its own, without the IDF having to maneuver its way into enemy territory, and it must be allowed to do so. If Major-General Eshel and his people are right, we are talking about a significant reduction in the number of casualties and a huge saving in resources considering the astronomic cost – about NIS 1 billion ($290 million) – of every day of fighting. What the IAF commander is suggesting is in fact a real revolution in the IDF's combat perception, which will dramatically affect the need to equip and train the ground forces, and the budgetary list of priorities.

 

I already heard the claim that the Air Force can do the job on its own once before from Dan Halutz, when he served as IAF commander before being appointed chief of staff. That claim was proven wrong in the Second Lebanon War, and that's the reason it still raises many doubts today. Of course not all senior IDF officers agree with the IAF's assessments. Many generals, who are aware of the Air Force's abilities and respect them, still believe that the army must operate on the ground in order to paralyze the firing of thousands of rockets and missiles.

 

 

The short period of action is also seen as unlikely. The IAF officials respond with quite a convincing argument: If we are attacked suddenly, it will anyway take us time to gather all the ground forces and overcome attacks on emergency depots and traffic arteries. At the same time, we will have an opportunity to get the job done through aerial attacks. Simultaneously, they say, we are preparing to offer the ground forces significant help in the fighting. "We are not gambling," Eshel explains. "We know that we are perceived both by the public and by senior state officials as the people of Israel's insurance policy, and the expectations from us are high. Perhaps too high. But we are not confused. We remember that we're not alone and we are building an ability to integrate." In Operation Pillar of Defense, he notes, the IAF prevented the need for a ground operation in Gaza, and the deterrence is more or less "working" till this very day.

 

I witnessed the IAF's preparations to significantly improve its ability to aid the ground forces several weeks ago, when I joined a detention and patrol activity in the Hebron area, which was combined with preparations for a war: A drill simulating the takeover of a Lebanese village. As we moved forward, the Paratroopers Brigade commander pointed at a fighter bending behind a terrace, and whispered in my war that his name is Lieutenant Colonel T., the F-16 squadron commander. Quite an unusual event in the IDF reality. T., who was equipped and armed and acted like a regular fighter, explained naturally that he had joined the operation at his own initiative because he wanted to understand how the infantry forces move and operate during fighting and how he and his pilots could help them from close up – very close. A warplane helping ground forces with gunfire and missile fire is a "natural" mission. A warplane dropping a one-ton bomb on a house and delaying the progress of a ground force – that's an entirely different story.

 

But aiding the ground forces is not the IAF's first mission. In the past two years, it has been preparing mainly for goal approved by the chief of staff, defense minister and prime minister – to be ready to shorten the fighting which could erupt at any minute, and this places immediate and even heavier responsibility on the shoulders of Eshel and his people. Neutralizing tens of thousands of rockets and missiles in Lebanon and Gaza is a Sisyphean mission. The immobile launchers from which the missiles are fired to a larger range, with the heavy and relatively accurate warhead, are fortified and well hidden in the homes of citizens or in hidden launching holes (dug in the ground and operated by remote control); their operators move between them, rearm them and hit the IDF forces moving towards them through tunnels.

 

The main difficultly is using intelligence to locate them, and targeting them may also lead to the killing of uninvolved civilians and stir up the world against us. Hunting for the portable launchers is even more difficult. It requires close surveillance of the launching areas, and if they are located – an aircraft or another instrument is needed to accurately hit the launchers' truck while it is still exposed on the ground or while its driver is attempting to hide under the pillars of a building.  

 

In the Second Lebanon War, the IAF was successful – facing a store of missiles which is at least six times smaller than what Hezbollah has today – but these missions proved to be tough even then. In addition ,the pilots will have to operate while bases are being fired on and defend themselves against Russian-made antiaircraft missiles which may have reached Hezbollah, or shoulder missiles which may have reached the Gazans. In order to overcome the difficulties and climb up according to the extent of the task, the IAF has been undergoing some processes of change in the past two years. The most important process is the effort to increase the "attack outputs": The number of sorties, but mainly the number of attacked targets and the damage inflicted on them…

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

 

 

Contents

ABOVE AND BEYOND:

THE BIRTH OF THE ISRAELI AIR FORCE

Daniel Smajovits                         

Jewish Tribune, Feb. 19, 2014

 

The Valley of Elah blends seamlessly into the landscape of Israel. Located an hour north of Be’er Sheva, it is said that it was there where David killed Goliath. Thousands of years later, the Israeli Defence Forces crisscrossed that same terrain during the War of Independence. Equipped with technology equivalent to that of David’s slingshot, they mounted their own campaign for survival attempting to follow in their ancestor’s footsteps. Yet, for the fledgling Jewish state, having any sort of an air presence would be impossible. While many miracles took place during the fight for independence, the greatest of which came in the sky – a story which is being brought to life by Nancy Spielberg in her latest documentary Above and Beyond: The Birth of the Israeli Air Force.

 

While known today as one of the world’s elite military units, through the eyes of former Machal (volunteers from abroad) pilots, Spielberg brings audiences back to the very beginning, where these brave individuals planted the seeds for today’s Israeli Air Force. For Spielberg, in addition to honouring the ‘Machalniks,’ this documentary was also about passing down the story to future generations. “It’s not just foreigners who do not know this story, but a lot of Israelis do not know about this and a lot of current [IAF] pilots do not even know about this. For me, one of the most critical demographics for this film is the younger demographic. There is a huge rise in apathy on college campuses. It’s not that they’re anti-Israel, they just do not see where Israel fits into their lives,” said Spielberg. “What my brother (Hollywood icon Stephen Spielberg) did with the Shoah Foundation was incredible; it is only a shame that we did not do this earlier to get some more testimony from those Machal soldiers,” she added. “This is how we will be teaching history in the future.”

 

During the tumultuous time that was Israel’s infancy, volunteers, numbering more than 4,000 in total, flocked to Israel from around the world. One of those volunteers was Canadian George (Buzz) Beurling. A Montreal native, he was arguably one of Canada’s most distinguished heroes from World War II. Following his prowess in the war, Beurling volunteered to join the Israeli Air Force, but was killed test-flying planes in 1948. For his sacrifice and heroism, Beurling was buried in Israel as a war hero. “There wasn’t a newspaper ad saying ‘Join the Haganah,’ it was illegal. I knew there was going to be a war there, I’m a fighter pilot and I wanted to go there,” recalled Lou Lenart, in the documentary. “The Arab countries had established air forces. We had almost nothing. [We had] four junk airplanes with different propellers and different engines from spare parts that the German Air Force left behind in Czechoslovakia.” “I remember sitting in the cockpit of my ME109 [German World War II aircraft] wearing a German uniform, a German helmet and a German parachute. What’s a nice Jewish boy from St. Paul doing in a place like this?” added Leon Frankel in the film. “The irony of it did not escape any of us.” “They were all very skilled pilots and navigators, many of whom emerged from World War II as highly decorated heroes,” added Spielberg. “Several people say that this was a miracle. I believe that Israel’s existence to present day is a miracle. When the scud missiles fall and no one dies or when the Iron Dome goes into effect: it’s a land of miracles.”

 

Yet, while Israel thrives today as an independent and powerful nation, her place in the world was a distant and perhaps unattainable dream for Zionists in 1948. However, as Frankel recalled, there was a more immediate role that they played, one that would have been worth the ultimate sacrifice, if it would eventually lead to victory. “Shortly before I left, I happened to be in Tel Aviv when they were bringing in refugees from the death camps in Europe,” he added. “I remember them getting down on their hands and knees and kissing the ground, I knew then and there that was the reason that I came.”…

 

Contents
                                               

THE YOM KIPPUR WAR WAS 40 YEARS AGO.

EVERYTHING YOU THOUGHT YOU KNEW ABOUT IT IS WRONG                

Michael B. Oren                                                                                                              

New Republic, Oct. 15, 2013

 

Egyptians marked the fortieth anniversary of their army's putative triumph over Israel by bloodying one another in Tahrir Square. Syrians, too, commemorated the date with internecine violence. Only in Israel were chests, rather than heads, beaten in collective remembrance. The contrast illustrated the curious ways history can be marshaled, forgotten, and mourned. Memory indeed serves, but ever-changing masters. The Yom Kippur War—Arabs prefer the Ramadan War, as though it was a battle between fasts—erupted on the afternoon of October 6, 1973, when Egyptian and Syrian forces surprised and overran Israeli positions. The following three weeks of fighting was brutal, the scale monumental. Rarely in the post–World War II period have the actions of both senior and junior commanders, the mass movement of armored and artillery formations, and the maneuvering of entire armies determined the course of a conflict and its outcome. Never again—thankfully—did the Cold War combine with nuclear brinkmanship and OPEC blackmail to produce a global, nearly apocalyptic crisis. And an historical debate that rages to this day. Indeed, the moment the war concluded, the fight over its legacy commenced. 

In Egypt, for example, legions of schoolchildren daily ascend to Cairo's Citadel to tour the National Military Museum and its immense 1973 pavilion. Inside a nineteenth century-style panorama, through pieces of destroyed Israeli armor and aircraft and a curious iron engine labelled "Egypt's Secret Weapon" (actually, an hydraulic pump used to dissolve Israel's defensive sand dunes), Egyptian kids learn how their country's forces erected bridges across the Suez Canal and subdued enemy bunkers along the Bar Lev Line. With flags unfurling and bayonets fixed, they banished the occupiers, erased the stain of the 1967 debacle, and reclaimed sacred Sinai for Egypt. The rendition, if purplish, is true—but only to that point. Nowhere in the exhibit is it noted that the offensive was eventually blunted and beaten back to an enclave surrounded by Israeli forces that had spanned the Canal into Egypt. No mention is made that some 80,000 Egyptian soldiers nearly surrendered for lack of water or that Cairo came within Israel's striking range. And, of course, there's no hint that those soldiers and that city were saved by a last-minute application of American might and statecraft. Emerging from this arcade of glory, any child could rightly ask why, if Egypt had won such an unmitigated victory, did it succumb to such a humiliating peace?

 

The Egyptian exhibition also fails to note that at that same hour, two o'clock in the afternoon of October 6, tens of thousands of Syrian troops, spearheaded by divisions of Soviet-made tanks, punched through Israeli defenses on the Golan Heights. The reason for the omission is obvious: Egypt's need to claim that it defeated Israel's juggernaut alone. But the official Syrian version of the war similarly obscures Egypt's role just as it ignores all but the war's earliest stage. Though Syrian units swiftly succeeded in recapturing much of the Golan, they were almost as quickly stopped by numerically inferior Israeli forces and compelled to fall back on Damascus. The Syrian capital was also threatened by IDF guns which were ultimately silenced not by Arab arms but by Soviet threats and American pressure. Perhaps because, in contrast Egypt's foothold in Sinai, no part of the Golan remained in Syrian hands at the war's end, perhaps because of the army's failure to exploit the extraordinary advantages it initially gained, celebrations of "The War of Independence," as Damascus dubbed it, were relatively muted. Still, the annual parades of long-range missiles and other offensive hardware served to highlight the Syrians' steadfastness against the Zionist entity and to perpetuate the myth of their valor. 

 

This was the view of the war in Egypt and Syria until its recent clouding by turmoil. The Egyptian victory belonged to the military dictatorship of Anwar Sadat, predecessor of Husni Mubarak and, now, General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. The success of an ostensibly secular nationalist regime could not fully be shared by the Muslim Brotherhood. The peace with Israel, though long reduced to mere non-belligerency, was not only injurious to Egyptian pride but theologically abhorrent to Islamists. The Syrian "independence" was claimed by Hafez al-Assad, the homicidal father of the even more murderous Bashar, both Baathists, both repugnant to the rebels. Little wonder that in both Egypt and Syria this year, October 6 was occasioned not by celebrating past battles against an external enemy but rather by the civil struggles for Egypt and Syria's future.

 

More paradoxically, perhaps, was the manner with which Israelis observed the forty years' mark. To be sure, each Yom Kippur yields an outpouring of public grief over the battlefield deaths of more than 2,500 Israeli soldiers—the equivalent, in current per capita terms, of 230,000 Americans—and the maiming of vastly more. The nation remained traumatized by the instantaneous transformation of the IDF from invincible machine to semi-functional family and all in a single day, Judaism's holiest. The iconic image of the Israeli paratroopers gazing dreamily before the Western Wall in 1967 collided with those of Israeli POWs in Syria and Egypt and of Prime Minister Golda Meir weeping before that same Wall. In response to that shock, a great many Israelis either turned toward or away from religion, pivoted right to the settler movement or leftward to Peace Now. Whether perceived as the result of the failure of Israeli leaders to launch a preemptive strike or their hubristic rejection of Egypt's peace offers, Israelis uniformly view the war as a type of punishment—in the term coined by former general and president Chaim Herzog, a War of Atonement.

 

This year, especially, Yom Kippur was a day of national paroxysm. The "generation of Sinai," recalling the biblical Children of Israel who roamed the desert for forty years cleansing themselves of the taint of slavery, still colors modern Israeli politics and intellectual life. The media and public discourse dealt with little else than the catastrophe of 1973, with the enduring torment, self-criticism, and loss. Yet here lies the paradox. Unlike Americans, who take pride in wars that began with surprise attacks such as those on Fort Sumter or Pearl Harbor but which concluded with brilliant victories, Israelis cannot celebrate what was arguably their most remarkable military feat. Indeed, cadets at the U.S. service academies study not the lightening success of the Six-Day War but Israel's astonishing ability to alter tactics overnight to meet new challenges—to put paratroopers in front of, rather than behind, armored units to neutralize advanced anti-tank missiles, to improvise the game-changing pincer movement across the Canal. Israelis seem unaware that the Six-Day War was also an intelligence failure—the IDF predicted that war was unlikely before 1970—and less than impressed that their soldiers' sacrifice, though agonizing, saved countless Israeli lives. Indeed, Israel's enemies also derived lessons from the war. They saw how, while enjoying total surprise and overwhelming advantages in men and materiel, Arab armies still could not prevail, could not even avert defeat. Despairing of destroying Israel by conventional means, its adversaries turned to terror and delegitimization, which have similarly failed. Egyptian and Syrian rulers meanwhile opted for quiet, if not peaceful, borders which facilitated the beating of a great many Israeli swords into ploughshares. This, in turn, helped the Jewish State to absorb a million refuges and modernize its economy. 

 

The memories of the Yom Kippur epic have also impacted its other protagonists. Remembering the hours-long gas lines precipitated by the Arab oil boycott, Americans have ever since striven for energy independence from the Middle East. The U.S.-Israel strategic alliance, founded in 1967 but galvanized in 1973, has remained a multi-faceted mainstay of American foreign policy. But fewer Americans are willing to pursue the type of gunboat diplomacy that proved so decisive in 1973, to preserve the Persian Gulf primacy considered precious during the Kissingerian age, or to maintain the bonds forged with Egypt's military rulers—one of America's proudest achievements of the war. The Russians, on the other hand, are yearning to return to their role as Cold War players, as owners of a Mediterranean fleet capable of going eyeball-to-eyeball with America's. Though it signaled the end of the Soviets' Middle Eastern empire, 1973 remains the high watermark which Moscow still aspires to regain. The ghosts of the Yom Kippur War will no doubt continue to alter their shape and meaning according to shifts in international and Middle Eastern affairs. Unchanging, though, will be the debates they spur—that and their power to haunt us.

 

Remembering the Yom Kippur War, 40 Years On: Jerusalem Post, Sept. 13, 2013—On the 40th anniversary of the Yom Kippur War, remembering a tragedy that history will not forget.

40 Years Since the Yom Kippur War #1: The First Strike: IDF Blog, Oct. 7, 2013 —40 years ago, during Yom Kippur, Israel faced one of the biggest challenges of its history.

Three films to focus on Israeli Air Force: Jewish Journal, Feb. 27, 2013—Some 65 years after a band of foreign volunteers fought in the skies above Israel to assure the nation’s birth and survival, filmmakers are racing to bring their exploits to the screen before the last of the breed passes away.

Sample Reel for 'Above and Beyond: The Birth of the Israeli Air Force' (Video): Playmount Productions, 2014

 

                               

 

                            

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Contents:         

Visit CIJR’s Bi-Weekly Webzine: Israzine.

CIJR’s ISRANET Daily Briefing is available by e-mail.
Please urge colleagues, friends, and family to visit our website for more information on our ISRANET series.
To join our distribution list, or to unsubscribe, visit us at http://www.isranet.org/.

The ISRANET Daily Briefing is a service of CIJR. We hope that you find it useful and that you will support it and our pro-Israel educational work by forwarding a minimum $90.00 tax-deductible contribution [please send a cheque or VISA/MasterCard information to CIJR (see cover page for address)]. All donations include a membership-subscription to our respected quarterly ISRAFAX print magazine, which will be mailed to your home.

CIJR’s ISRANET Daily Briefing attempts to convey a wide variety of opinions on Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish world for its readers’ educational and research purposes. Reprinted articles and documents express the opinions of their authors, and do not necessarily reflect the viewpoint of the Canadian Institute for Jewish Research.

 

 

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

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

YOM KIPPUR WAR ANNIVERSARY: AS ISRAEL, JEWISH PEOPLE REMEMBER OCT., 1973, TODAY EGYPT (POST-MORSI) & ISRAEL COOPERATE MILITARILY IN SINAI

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

 

 

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Middle Israel: The Last WarAmotz Asa-ElJerusalem Post, Sept. 13, 2013 — The establishment’s subsequent transition from secular socialists to traditionalists and capitalists; the disappearance of the European-born generation that led Israel in its first three decades; and the passage of the settlement ideal from the kibbutzim’s liberal farmers to the West Bank’s messianic rabbis, make the Yom Kippur War a watershed in practically all aspects of Israeli history.
 
‘Incalculable Consequences’Erol Araf, National Post, Oct 7, 2013 —Forty years ago today, Israel stood on the brink of catastrophe. The day before — Oct. 6, 1973, the Day of Atonement — Egypt and Syria had launched a surprise and spectacularly successful offensive against Israel. Israeli forces were retreating, or being annihilated, at the Suez Canal and the Golan Heights. Faced with the prospect of Arab armies moving into Israeli population centres, the government began to consider unleashing Armageddon on its enemies.
 
Israel-Egypt Forge New Ties Over SinaiGeoffrey Aronson, Al-Monitor, Sept. 13, 2013—Last week, Egypt embarked on its most extensive military operation in the Sinai peninsula in almost half a century. The target of this unprecedented deployment is an array of disaffected Egyptians and jihadi foreigners intent upon defying the seat of Egyptian power and sovereignty centered in Cairo.

Is this the End of the Failed Muslim Brotherhood Project?: Hussein Ibish , The National (UAE), October 5, 2013—Is the Muslim Brotherhood dying? In Egypt and throughout the Arab world, Brotherhood-affiliated parties are suffering an unprecedented series of setbacks that cast real doubt on the long-term viability of that version of Islamist politics.
 
On Topic Links
 
Lessons from the Yom Kippur WarDaniel Greenfield, Front Page Magazine, Oct. 7, 2013  
51 Dead in as Egyptians Celebrate 40th Anniversary of Yom Kippur WarJewish Press,  Oct. 7th, 2013
Who Is Egypt's Next President?Bassem Sabry, Al-Monitor, Sept. 22 2013
 

 

MIDDLE ISRAEL: THE LAST WAR
Amotz Asa-El
Jerusalem Post, Sept. 13, 2013

 
It started at 2 p.m. As if echoing the thunders that once paralyzed their forebears at Mount Sinai’s foothills, 436 Israeli troops scattered in 16 outposts along the Suez waterfront were showered out of the blue with 10,000 shells spewed from 2,000 artillery barrels, while 8,000 Egyptian troops emerged from the water and 240 warplanes descended from the sky. By day’s end, with nearly half of the soldiers in those outposts dead, vast Egyptian armies parked at Sinai, and 1,400 Syrian tanks on the Golan Heights – one fact hovered above the battlefield’s thick fog: Israel had been stunned.
 
Forty years on, the war that cost 2,522 Israeli fatalities, traumatized a generation and profoundly impacted the Jewish state’s society, politics, economy and psyche, refuses to go away.
 
The warriors, now mostly grandfathers, are writing memoirs, holding spontaneous reunions and retrieving diaries, photographs, recordings and even rare footage taken with the era’s bulky 8- mm. Kodaks, in what adds up to a collective quest for closure.
 
The rest of Israel, surveying where it has since journeyed, has reason to proverbially enter these makeshift group therapies, place a hand on the shoulder of each of the Yom Kippur War’s veterans, look them in their wrinkling faces, and quietly tell them Jeremiah’s consolation to Rachel: “There is a reward for your labor.”
 
STRATEGICALLY, the war will be counted among military history’s grand surprises, alongside Pearl Harbor and Operation Barbarossa. Israel was caught off-guard in almost every respect. It underestimated the enemy’s intentions, abilities, weaponry and motivation. The leaders misinterpreted Egyptian president Anwar Sadat as a babbler, the generals did not enlist the reserves, the pilots were humbled by the radar-guided SA missile and the tankists by the shoulder-carried Sagger. Then again, not only did the IDF ultimately prevail, in 40 years’ hindsight it emerged from the war with long-term strategic gains that dwarf the its immediate setbacks.
 
Tactically, the war’s tide was turned on both fronts: on the Golan Heights, the vastly outnum-bered Seventh Brigade managed to fend off the Syrian armored thrust, and thus open the IDF’s path to Damascus; and in Sinai, the Egyptian Third Army was encircled and the Suez Canal was crossed as the IDF reached within an hour’s ride from Cairo. Yet what at the time seemed like heroism that merely decided one war, actually went much farther.
 
First, the recollection of prevailing even under such duress, and of successful improvisations along the entire hierarchy – from foot soldier to general – helped foster a culture of inventiveness from which Israel benefitted in other tests. But far more important, following the Armageddon that included some of history’s largest armored battles, Israel’s enemies never again unleashed on it a conventional army.
 
The realization that Israel prevailed even in a war waged, from the Arab viewpoint, under ideal conditions, convinced Arab leaders to abandon traditional war, and opt for assorted alternatives – from guerrilla and terror wars to peace deals. While far from reflecting a pro-Zionist conversion, the Arab abandonment of the traditional military option is a major strategic gain for Israel, and a direct result of the Yom Kippur War.
 
WHEN THE fighting ended, it turned out that one outpost of those that initially confronted the Egyptian onslaught, the northernmost, endured the entire war. Having emerged from it intact and returned home bewildered, Capt. Motti Ashkenazi went to Jerusalem, stood outside prime minister Golda Meir’s office and demanded that she and her cabinet resign.
 
Ashkenazi was soon joined by thousands who felt a deep sense of disillusionment and were now spontaneously forming Israel’s first effective protest movement. By the time Golda Meir resigned the following year, it was clear that the repercussions of the Jewish state’s Pearl Harbor would exceed the narrow realms of warfare, and include Israel’s politics, society and state of mind.
 
Politically, the future was hinted at in the first postwar election, when the newly established Likud won more of the soldiers’ votes than Labor. In the following election Labor lost power for the first time, and its political hegemony for good.
 
The establishment’s subsequent transition from secular socialists to traditionalists and capitalists; the disappearance of the European-born generation that led Israel in its first three decades; and the passage of the settlement ideal from the kibbutzim’s liberal farmers to the West Bank’s messianic rabbis, make the Yom Kippur War a watershed in practically all aspects of Israeli history.
 
Back in autumn ’73, all protagonists of this gathering transformation shared a sense of crisis and agony, some because they felt they were losing their grip on Israeli society, and some because they could hardly wait to seize it. Gradually, the Yom Kippur War came to be seen as an engine of a great schism.It wasn’t.
 
THE MOST notable realm where Israeli pragmatism and resilience prevailed is the economy. Back when the war ended, Israel was financially strapped. The knowledge that it was won thanks to emergency arms shipments from America; the consequent dependency on American aid; the inflation that began that year and soon spun out of control; and envy of Arab oil wealth which those days cast a shadow over the global economy – all generated an economic pessimism that complemented the overall atmosphere of cynicism and despair.
 
Forty years on, Israel’s is among the world’s strongest currencies, its growth rate is among the world’s highest, its unemployment, inflation and interest rates are among the world’s lowest, and its innovations are the toast of investors from Tokyo to New York. On top of that, for more than 15 years, Israel has no longer been accepting US civilian aid. These accomplishments belong collectively to Israelis of all persuasions and backgrounds, who meet daily in workplaces where they do together what a seriously divided society could never create.
 
The same can be said of Israeli culture, which over the past 40 years has seen the previously unthinkable rise of religious authors and filmmakers, symbolized by novelist Haim Sabato, a rabbi and rosh yeshiva who emerged from the war a prize-winning novelist. In fact, the cultural traffic ignited by the war proved to a two-way street. The sense of perplexity, enhanced by David Ben-Gurion’s death five weeks after the cease-fire, was expressed by the era’s popular songs, three of which became timeless, and inspire a melancholy that moves Israeli hearts to this day.
 
One, penned by songwriter Haim Hefer, a veteran of the War of Independence who wrote some of its most popular hits, now had an unnamed soldier promise his little girl – “in the name of the pilots who thrust into angry battle,” and the gunners “who were the pillars of fire along the front,” and “all the fathers who went to battle and never returned” – that 1973’s would be the last war.
 
A second song, by “Jerusalem of Gold” writer Naomi Shemer, placed “a white sail in the horizon, opposite a heavy black cloud,” and “holiday’s candles shimmering in dusk’s windows,” while asking “What is the sound of war I am hearing, the sound of shofar and drums,” and then praying, “If the announcer stands at the door, place a good word in his mouth, if only all we ask – would be.”
 
The whisper of prayer that both songs shared was the zeitgeist, so much so that it even arrived in Kibbutz Beit Hashita – whose veterans included diehard Marxists and atheists. Tucked in the Jezreel Valley north of Mount Gilboa, where the biblical Saul and Jonathan died in battle, this community lost 11 of its sons in the war.
 
Having lived in their midst at the time of their grief, composer Yair Rosenblum wrote a tune for U’Netane Tokef, the prayer which states that on Rosh Hashana God drafts, and on Yon Kippur he seals, the verdict of every man: “Who will live and who will die, who is in his end and who is not, who by water and who by fire, who by sword and who by beast, who by hunger and who by thirst.”
 
The tune brought together Zionism’s epitomes of the New Jew, the atheist warriors of the kibbutzim, with Rabbi Amnon of Mainz, the prayer’s writer and the ultimate Old Jew, a sage whom legend says was killed without a fight after refusing a demand to convert. Animating the most solemn moments in Judaism’s holiest days, the tune has since come to be sung annually in thousands of synagogues throughout Israel, and has even been performed by some ultra- Orthodox singers and cantors.
]
THE YOM KIPPUR WAR, then, had more effects on Israeli society besides political divisions, and the most decisive of these was humility. The arrogance and swagger that followed the Six Day War were initially followed by anger and acrimony, but what for a moment seemed like despair soon gave way to a sense of appeasement and constructive soul searching. This humility is particularly evident where it is needed most, namely in the way Israeli generals speak and think.
 
Forty years on, it is clear that Israeli society was not debilitated by the Yom Kippur War and in fact, soon resumed its development in earnest.
 
Having left us while the war’s trauma was fresh, one feels like updating Ben-Gurion that since his departure: no Arab army again waged war on Israel; there are two peace agreements; the population has more than doubled and the economy more than quadrupled; there are more Jews here than in any other country; the number of Israeli Jews has just crossed, for the first time, the charged figure of 6 million, Soviet Jewry is here, and the Soviet Union is gone; and Israeli society, while varied and complex, remains intact even when the rest of the region is ablaze with civil wars – and that U’Netane Tokef, as written in medieval Germany and composed in Kibbutz Beit- Hashita, will tomorrow echo from Metulla to Eilat.
 
Contents

‘INCALCULABLE CONSEQUENCES’
Erol Araf
National Post, Oct 7, 2013
 

Forty years ago today, Israel stood on the brink of catastrophe. The day before — Oct. 6, 1973, the Day of Atonement — Egypt and Syria had launched a surprise and spectacularly successful offensive against Israel. Israeli forces were retreating, or being annihilated, at the Suez Canal and the Golan Heights. Faced with the prospect of Arab armies moving into Israeli population centres, the government began to consider unleashing Armageddon on its enemies.
 
Many documents pertaining to the nuclear crises that took place during the 1973 Arab-Israel War remain classified; participants who have written about the war are still vague. Over the years, however, numerous books and studies have been written, ranging from Seymour Hersh’s dubious The Sampson Option, alleging that Israel used the threat of nuclear war to pressure the U.S into sending massive quantities of munitions, to an exhaustive research project by the U.S.-based research group CNA, entitled The Israeli “Nuclear Alert” of 1973: Deterrence and Signaling in Crisis, published last spring. Thanks to these sources, we have enough facts at our disposal to construct a narrative that makes clear that between Oct. 7-25, there were three distinct nuclear crises featuring deceptions, miscalculations, existential panic and missile launches that could easily have triggered a worldwide nuclear war.
 
The first crisis relates to the Israeli nuclear alert itself.
 
In the hours and days after the surprise attack, tank battles fought on the Golan Heights were comparable in size and intensity to the largest such clashes during the Second World War. Not even the indomitable Israeli Air Force could turn the tide. In the north, 177 Israeli tanks stood between Haifa and 1,460 Syrian armoured vehicles. In the south, Egyptian soldiers armed with hand-held anti-tank missiles knocked out 300 Israeli tanks in the first hours of the war. On that day, the ancient lines from the Book of Yom Kippur resonated with apocalyptic portent as reservists were raced to their mobilization centres: “On Rosh Hashanah it is written and on the day of the fast of Kippur it is sealed … who shall live and who shall die … who by water and who by fire … who by the sword.”
 
Howard Blum, in his book The Eve of Destruction, tells how Moshe Dayan, the Israeli Defense Minister, told Prime Minister Golda Meir on Oct. 8, two days into the fighting, that Israel must prepare to fight “to the last bullet” on the streets of Tel Aviv. He also urged the arming of Israeli’s ultimate weapon, code-named Temple. Ms. Meir gave the green light to arm 13 Jericho missiles with nuclear warheads. Nuclear bombs were also loaded onto six Phantom F-4 attack aircraft at the Tel Nof air base.
 
Israel’s actions were quickly spotted, and just as quickly understood. William B. Quandt, who was a member of the U.S. National Security Council staff, confirmed that the U.S. knew that Israel had placed its nuclear arsenal on alert. He wrote; ” It was also conceivable that a nuclear threat might be made if Egyptian troops broke through … None of this had to be spelled out in so many words by the Israelis.” The Americans found out about the nuclearization of Israeli missiles, according to Russell Warren Howe’s book Weapons, when a U.S. Air Force SR-71 spy plane, specifically designed to monitor nuclear activity, flew over Israel. An American KH-11 intelligence satellite also detected missile launchers that had been left in the open specifically to signal Jerusalem’s resolve. The Soviets, too, were monitoring the situation on the ground with their COSMOS satellites.
 
The U.S. reaction to the possibility that Israel might go nuclear was twofold: Henry Kissinger, President Richard Nixon’s National Security Advisor and newly sworn-in Secretary of State, authorized a badly needed conventional munitions resupply effort — after all, the Soviets were arming the Arabs. The U.S. also informed Moscow about Jerusalem’s nuclear alert in an emergency hotline conversation between Nixon and Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev. The Americans were eager to make sure that there were no understandings that might lead to a nuclear exchange between the superpowers.
 
In response to Israel’s nuclear mobilization, the Soviets decided to deploy their own nuclear weapons, under strict Soviet control, to Egypt, to dissuade Israel from going nuclear. But they didn’t rush things, choosing a deliberately slow deployment to make sure that the Israelis would clearly see their activity, and understand that the Soviets were serious. Kissinger privately warned the Soviets that further Syrian advances into northern Israel, which could cut the country in two, would pose such an existential threat to Israel that the Soviet deterrence might not be sufficient to prevent Israel from going nuclear. The message was clear: Don’t let their early successes spur your allies into pushing so hard that Israel felt it had to strike back.
 
The message was heeded. As Charles Wakebridge wrote in Military Review in 1976, the sudden Syrian halt when they could have advanced into Israel on Oct. 7 and 8 was one of the most intriguing and inexplicable decisions of the war. It is reasonable to infer from the Syrian decision to stop at the Jordan River, when they could have advanced all the way to Haifa, was due to the Israeli nuclear alert. The river was a red line that Damascus would not risk crossing.
 
The second crisis occurred between Oct. 17-22, when the Soviet nuclear warheads arrived. Some were conspicuously deployed deep inside in Egypt, to deter any rash Israeli act. But the Soviets also deployed conventionally armed SCUD missiles in the Sinai, where Israeli forces were on the counteroffensive against the Egyptian invaders. The Israelis, quite reasonably, assumed that the Sinai SCUDs were also nuclear tipped. In Jerusalem’s and Washington’s view, this constituted dangerous escalation from a deterrence-based posture to war-fighting deployment.
 
Israel had to respond. The CNA researchers wrote that “[Israeli] Chief of Staff General Elazar ordered the deployment of an Israeli missile battery in an uncamouflaged fashion in such a way that Soviet satellites would be likely to detect the deployment and assume that such missiles were nuclear-capable.” Officials in Washington and Jerusalem were both worried that the Soviets, under pressure from their Egyptian allies, might escalate a conflict that was rapidly, and remarkably, evolving into a major Israeli conventional military victory.
 
On Oct. 22, hours before a UN Security Council ceasefire resolution was set to go into effect, the situation suddenly became even more tense when Egypt launched SCUD missiles at Israeli targets. In his book Inside the Kremlin during the Yom Kippur War, senior Soviet diplomat Victor Israelyan relates that the authority to launch the missiles was given by Soviet Defense Minister Andrei Grechko to the Soviet ambassador in Cairo, Vladimir Vinogradov, in an emergency telephone conversation. “Go the hell and fire it!” was Gecko’s response to the Egyptian request for authorization. The Egyptians fired.
 
Senior officials in Moscow were shocked, and outraged. “A few minutes later there was a call to Vinogradov from Moscow — [Foreign Minister Andrei] Gromyko was on the line,” Israelyan recounts. “‘What did you talk about with Grechko?’ he asked. When he learned of Grechkov’s order, Gromyko was outraged and strictly prohibited Vinogradov from carrying out the order. ‘I am sorry, Andrei Andreyevich, I can’t help it,’ was the reply. ‘The missiles have already been fired.’” The normally phlegmatic Gromyko was profoundly disturbed by this development — he had a bad feeling that things would soon get out of control. He was right. The third crisis was at hand.
 
Forty-eight hours later, the Soviets and Americans found themselves facing the gravest nuclear crisis since the Cuban Missile Crisis. Despite the UN ceasefire having come into effect, the Egyptian Third Army, which had been completely surrounded by Israeli forces, was still fighting, desperately attempting to break out and avoid a humiliating surrender. Egyptian President Anwar Sadat was demanding the Soviets save his army. After lengthy deliberations, Brezhnev informed Nixon that the Soviets were considering “taking appropriate steps unilaterally.” The Soviets began mobilizing troops and equipment. In all, 50,000 Soviet soldiers were readied for a possible intervention to save Egypt and, to be sure, a great deal of Soviet prestige.
 
Kissinger was furious with the Israelis for forcing Moscow’s hand, but could not possibly allow the unilateral introduction of Soviet forces into the Sinai. He responded to Brezhnev’s quasi-ultimatum by writing to Soviet ambassador Anatoly Dobrynin. “We must view your suggestion of unilateral action as a matter of grave concern,” he said, “involving incalculable consequences.” After a lengthy National Security Council meeting, the U.S. raised the alert level of U.S. forces worldwide, including its nuclear forces, to Defense Condition [DEFCON] 3. Fifty nuclear-capable B-52 bombers moved from bases in Guam closer to the Soviet Union. Airborne tankers were prepared and dispersed. The carrier USS John F. Kennedy and its battle group sailed into the eastern Mediterranean. The 82nd Airborne Division was put on alert and told to be ready for action in the Sinai.
 
At that point two unrelated developments helped to swiftly reduce tensions: Kissinger demanded that Israel allow essential non-military supplies to reach the encircled Egyptian Third Army and desist from further military action or lose U.S. support at the UN; meanwhile, Sadat, having realized that his call for Soviet intervention had pushed the superpowers to the brink of war, opened direct negotiations with the Israelis. This unprecedented step by an Arab leader led to the establishment of a true peace between Egypt and Israel, and also saved Sadat’s Third Army from annihilation or capitulation. With Israeli forces rapidly driving the Syrians back to Damascus, when the UN ordered another ceasefire, all sides saw fit to end the fighting. The superpowers stood back from the brink.
 
The modern Middle East was changed by the events of 40 years ago. And the Soviet Union, of course, is history. But to those closely following the U.S.-Russian brinksmanship over Syria’s used of chemical weapons and Iran’s drive to develop it’s own nuclear weapons, it’s hard to ignore the similarities between now and then. Moscow and Washington butting heads of weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East is nothing new. And Israel, as ever, must remain wary of what its neighbours may be planning.
 
Contents


 

ISRAEL-EGYPT FORGE NEW TIES OVER SINAI
Geoffrey Aronson
Al-Monitor, Sept. 13, 2013

 
Last week, Egypt embarked on its most extensive military operation in the Sinai peninsula in almost half a century. The target of this unprecedented deployment is an array of disaffected Egyptians and jihadi foreigners intent upon defying the seat of Egyptian power and sovereignty centered in Cairo.
 
Israel is a key partner in this Egyptian effort. Ironically, the anarchy in Sinai has prompted a new era of enhanced security cooperation between Israel and Egypt. The promise of the Arab Spring may be uncertain, but the Jerusalem-Cairo axis is one arena where a newly energized system of relations is being forged on the crumbling foundations of the old order. Egypt and Israel are creating a new basis for mutually beneficial relations, in the process ignoring not only key aspects of their historic peace treaty signed in 1979, but also reducing the role of what was once deemed to be the critical actor in that relationship — the United States.
 
For two generations the United States was at the center of a strategic partnership between Cairo and Jerusalem. Washington built its regional security strategy around the rapprochement that followed the October 1973 War and invested heavily in its vitality. Economic and military aid to the two nations dwarfed similar US programs elsewhere. “Investing in peace” established a solid security and political rationale for supplying billions to both Egypt and Israel.
 
An iconic photograph taken at the treaty signing ceremony, showing a beaming US President Jimmy Carter standing between Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin, their hands outstretched in a tripartite handshake, said it all. The United States was the critical midwife of this relationship, and its support was vital to its maintenance.
 
The photograph is now well into middle-age. It has yellowed and its corners are brittle and worn from use. So too the old order of things that it celebrated. Like the photo, the structure that Washington championed reflects the hope and concerns of a bygone era — one that is not so much collapsing as evolving to accommodate seismic changes in the challenges confronted by a revolutionary Egypt and the new security environment along Israel’s southern border, shared with its troubled neighbor. In this new picture, the United States is no longer at the center of things. In some key respects it is not even in the picture. In a path-breaking departure from past practice, Washington is viewed in both Cairo and Jerusalem as an obstacle to be overcome or ignored rather than a key player in solving the shared problems at the top of their mutual security agenda.
 
Washington was long viewed by all parties as the glue that cemented what was often a bloodless bilateral relationship. True, Washington and particularly Congress, always viewed Egypt as the junior partner in this menage a trois, but today, ambivalence if not outright hostility define the bilateral relationship between Washington and post-Mubarak Egypt. The Obama administration can’t quite decide whether Egypt is friend or foe.  “I don’t think that we would consider them an ally, but we don’t consider them an enemy,” President Barack Obama observed in September last year, soon after violent demonstrations at the US Embassy in Cairo.
 
Today, it is Israel that finds itself in the awkward position of trying to convince Washington’s skeptical political (if not security) class to reaffirm a partnership that it once sponsored. Yet, Washington’s imprimatur is far less important today to the vitality of the Israel-Egypt relationship than it was in the past. Israel and Egypt, first during the short-lived rule of President Mohammed Morsi and now under Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, are redefining their relationship to address the shared concerns of this new era.
 
The lawless region of Sinai and to a lesser extent the Gaza Strip top this list in both Cairo and Jerusalem today. In each of these areas the US-sponsored treaty, constructed to address problems that have not so much disappeared as been overcome by the new realities on the ground, has nothing to contribute. The security situation in Sinai — defined by a local and growing wide-ranging insurgency against the central government — is unlike anything envisioned in the treaty, which was focused on preventing a classic conventional war between Israel and Egypt. The treaty tools available to Egypt to address today’s war are inadequate and unsuited to the task. The treaty does not enhance, but in some respects acts as a break on solving the problems both parties face today. And so it is being ignored by Israel and Egypt alike.
 
In the past few years, Egypt, with Israel’s consent, has deployed almost a division of army forces — close to 5,000 men — to the peninsula to combat the insurgency. Egyptian battle tanks have been transported over the Suez Canal for the first time since the peace agreement. Egyptian aircraft deployed in Rafah fly intelligence missions, careful however not to peek across the border into Israel. Apache helicopters are deployed against local and jihadi forces, and even overfly the southern Gaza Strip on occasion.
 
These deployments are a clear violation of the terms of the treaty that all but prohibited the introduction of regular Egyptian troops across the Suez Canal — a perfect example of how the treaty was designed to prevent the last — October 1973 — war. For years, Israel refused the efforts of Egyptian generals, chafing at the indignity of being denied the right to redeploy its forces in sovereign Egyptian territory.
 
But a new chapter was opened when Israel retreated from the Gaza Strip and ended its control over the border between Gaza and Egypt along the “Philadelphi” border in 2005. By mutual agreement, Egypt and Israel agreed to the introduction of new Egyptian forces in Sinai in numbers that have been progressively increased as the anarchy in Sinai has grown from limited concerns about the transfer of arms from Egypt to Gaza to a systemic loss of Egypt's sovereign control over large parts of the peninsula. The United States has not played a central role in these deliberations.
 
And where it does — notably the deployment of the Multinational Force of Observers (MFO) — the revolutionary transformation of security realities in Sinai, and a sour mood in Washington, call into question the future of the US-led contingent. The troops and experts of the MFO were established by the 1979 treaty to monitor compliance with the terms of the treaty. The force’s creation was both a clear symbol of the US commitment to the new regional security framework and the importance that all parties attached to such a visible US role in maintaining the peace.
 
A decade ago, cost-cutters at the Pentagon, including then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, argued for the MFO's elimination as an expensive and unnecessary expense. Their hardheaded view failed to prevail over those, including leaders in Cairo and Jerusalem, who argued against the signal such a US retreat would send about a reduced US commitment to the strategic alliance.
 
Today, the MFO is hunkered down, focused on force protection in the Wild West that Sinai has become. Its mission to monitor violations to the treaty — when Egypt and Israel have agreed to do so as a matter of policy — is passe. The MFO is hostage, figuratively and literally, to the new environment in Sinai. And what is to be said about the US commitment to the regional security framework that the MFO symbolizes when serious consideration is being given in Cairo and Washington to ending US-Egyptian aid and security ties? The question to be asked is increasingly not whether the MFO will remain, but whether anyone will notice if it doesn’t.
 
Geoffrey Aronson writes regularly on Middle East issues for Al-Monitor.
 
Contents

 

IS THIS THE END OF THE FAILED 
MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD PROJECT?
Hussein Ibish
The National (UAE), Oct. 5, 2013

 
Is the Muslim Brotherhood dying? In Egypt and throughout the Arab world, Brotherhood-affiliated parties are suffering an unprecedented series of setbacks that cast real doubt on the long-term viability of that version of Islamist politics. The blow the Brotherhood has received in Egypt is exceptionally severe. Most of its senior leaders are under arrest, and its ability to mount mass protests appears debilitated. There is a pending court order mandating its disbanding and the seizure of its assets. And none of this seems to bother most Egyptians. It’s not clear when or how the Brotherhood in Egypt can recover from this unprecedented crisis.
 
What is less widely understood, however, is that Brotherhood-affiliated parties across the region – many of which recently seemed to be on the brink of the political successes they have craved for decades – are suffering extreme setbacks. The Brotherhood’s crisis in Egypt may be particularly dramatic but it is also merely the tip of the iceberg.
 
A quick regional survey can show how damaged this movement currently is. In Morocco, the Justice and Development Party might be in the best shape of all, currently occupying the ineffective office of prime minister. But, while ostentatiously praising the King, it is loudly insisting that it is in no sense whatsoever a Muslim Brotherhood party, or affiliated with it at all except insofar as both identify as Islamist. This is untrue. They only find it necessary to disavow Brotherhood connections so vigorously because of how regionally discredited the movement has become.
 
In Tunisia, a coalition of secular political and labour movement forces has forced the Brotherhood Ennahda party government to agree to resignation. Ennahda may still be the largest political party in Tunisia, but it’s unlikely that it could repeat its 2011 parliamentary electoral success since secular and non-Islamist forces are becoming much more organised and coordinated. And it’s always been clear it would be exceptionally difficult for Ennahda to beat a consensus secular candidate in a two-person presidential election or run-off.
 
The Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood, which seemed to be growing from strength to strength a mere year ago, is in utter disarray. The Syrian Brotherhood was the most influential political force in the opposition after the uprising against the Damascus dictatorship began. But now they seem to have virtually no influence on the conflict or its likely outcome. Hamas in Gaza is undergoing an unprecedented crisis. It bizarrely made no effort to convince the new Egyptian government that it was not a hostile force, especially with regard to security in Sinai. It is therefore being treated like one. Egypt has imposed an unparalleled blockade, leaving the economy in shambles. For the first time since 2007, it is now possible to imagine a Gaza no longer under Hamas control.
 
And in those parts of the Gulf in which the Brotherhood has some presence, its affiliates are coming under intense scrutiny and increasing pressure. But all of this hardly means that Islamism across the board is enduring a nadir. In several Arab societies, Salafists are either outflanking Brotherhood groups or reaping the benefits of the Brotherhood’s crises….
 
If the ideology and practices of more moderate Brotherhood parties have proven unworkable and popularly unacceptable in power, that can only apply far more intensively to Salafist groups. The plausibility of Salafist rule in any post-dictatorship Arab society is, for those two reasons, virtually nil. This may not be the end of the Muslim Brotherhood but its region-wide crisis is so severe that significant ideological and practical adaptation will be unavoidable for those flexible enough to learn any lessons. The Moroccan and Tunisian branches are already unhappily compromising to survive.
 
But the Muslim Brotherhood may be dying at least in the sense that what ultimately emerges from the current wreckage will be unrecognisably different. Only a radical change in fortunes across the region is likely to forestall such a process. So during the very period in which many Arabs and westerners alike expected Brotherhood domination in many Arab countries, we may instead be witnessing the death throes of a nearly 100-year-old failed experiment.
 

Hussein Ibish is a senior fellow at the American Task Force on Palestine.
 
Contents

Lessons from the Yom Kippur WarDaniel Greenfield, Front Page Magazine, Oct. 7, 2013—Forty years ago, Israel experienced the most devastating war in its modern history. Israel not only suffered its worst casualties during the Yom Kippur War, but actually came close to being destroyed with Defense Minister Moshe Dayan warning that “The Third Temple is falling.”
 
51 Dead in as Egyptians Celebrate 40th Anniversary of Yom Kippur WarJewish Press,  October 7th, 2013—Deadly clashes erupted in Cairo on Sunday as pro-Morsi marches protesting the military junta rule headed to Tahrir Square, where thousands were cheering the same junta, celebrating the 40th anniversary of the army’s 1973 “victory” against Israel. Confrontations there and outside Cairo resulted so far in the death toll rising to 51, according to Al Ahram, with 268 injured.
 
Who Is Egypt's Next President?Bassem Sabry, Al-Monitor, Sept. 22 2013—If the current roadmap holds, Egypt could see its next presidential elections to select its fifth head of state sometime in the second quarter of 2014. A minority has been calling for holding the presidential elections earlier before the parliamentary polls, but all signs indicate the current administration is adamantly opposed to amending its roadmap.
 
 

 

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ZACHOR: YOM KIPPUR 1973/2011/5772—JEWISH MORAL RESPONSIBILITY, JEWISH STATE, JEWISH STRENGTH

OCTOBER, 1973: LEST WE FORGET
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.)

 

DEMOCRATIZED HOLINESS:
YOM KIPPUR AND MORAL RESPONSIBILITY

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.

CANADA: FIRST COUNTRY TO SIGN PROTOCOL
ON COMBATING ANTI-SEMITISM

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.

THE ‘P’ WORD

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.

IT ISN’T ISRAEL IN DANGER OF DISAPPEARING,
IT’S THE PEOPLE WHO THINK THAT WAY

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.