Monday, May 26, 2014

From Ian:

JPost Editorial: Tragedy in Brussels
Once upon a time an exception was made in the anti-Zionist narrative for the sorts of Jews killed in the Shoah. The wandering Jew, the Jew with the portable homeland whose identity was defined by his religion and his religious texts, not his connection to a particular piece of land, was in vogue in Europe. The Jew sans Zionism seemed to represent the very embodiment of a new cosmopolitan, borderless Europe that had eschewed all that had made it evil during the two world wars. Europeans, at least those who bought in to the post-nationalist zeitgeist, seemingly had no problems with the ritual aspects of Judaism. These were the quaint religious ceremonies of an ancient, exiled people.
But for a few years now, there has also been an attack on the religious practices of Europe’s Jews, who are often the collateral damage of an anti-Muslim sentiment.
From attempted bans on circumcision and ritual slaughter to Israel bashing, Europe has become an increasingly inhospitable place for Jews. The tragic attack in Brussels and the intolerable beatings outside Paris are just the latest examples of anti-Semitism again rearing its ugly head, even among Europeans who should have learned from their past.
We call on all European leaders not only to condemn these attacks, but to act swiftly to catch their perpetrators and bring them to justice.
Another Anti-Semitic Outrage on the Dark Continent
It’s often quipped that European governments have a decent record of commemorating dead Jews, as evidenced by the numerous Holocaust memorials across the continent, and a pretty awful record when it comes to protecting live ones. The imperative of guaranteeing freedom of speech necessarily limits any actions that governments can take against anti-Semitic incitement, but that should not prevent European leaders from explicitly recognizing where this poison springs from. It is not enough to say, as did the president of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso, that the Brussels atrocity “was an attack on European values which we cannot tolerate.” Only when Europe’s politicians finally acknowledge that the continent’s culture of Israel-hatred–expressed through boycott campaigns, degrading films and cartoons, frequent analogies between Israel and Nazi Germany or apartheid-era South Africa, and much else besides–is what lies behind this deadly violence, will we finally be able to say that some progress in confronting this social disease has been made.
Netanyahu Says Belgian Prime Minister is Only European Leader to Call Him About Anti-Semitism
The Belgian Prime Minister expressed shock over the murders, condemned all manifestations of anti-Semitism, and sent his condolences to the families of the victims in the call to update Netanyahu on details of the ongoing investigation into the slayings, according to the prime minister’s office.
Prime Minister Netanyahu thanked his Belgian counterpart for the call and offered to cooperate with the investigation, the statement said. He added, “As of now, you are the only European leader who has called me on this issue. I am very disturbed by the growing anti-Semitism in Europe. There must be zero tolerance for anti-Semitism toward Jews and their state.”

Museum attack comes as no surprise to Belgian Jews
The shooter who entered the Jewish Museum of Belgium on Saturday in central Brussels “approached each victim with calm, aiming only for the head without uttering a word in manner that is shocking because of the level of training it suggests,” said Mischael Modrikamen, the Jewish leader of Belgium’s small, centrist Parti Populaire.
“Sadly, however, the actual attack comes as no surprise to us after years of living in an atmosphere of rampant anti-Semitism that often leads to violence, ” he added.
Pain in Spain, Bullets in Brussels
A couple of years back, 2012, the European Union (EU) awarded itself the Nobel Peace Prize. True story. Yes, the entire continent was honored for its “contribution to peace and reconciliation.” I have to imagine that this tribute was graded on the curve. Seventy years and no Holocaust! What a relief and Mazel Tov.
Overnight we saw some of that “reconciliation” when four innocents were murdered at the Jewish Museum in Brussels – “The result,” said Bibi, “of constant incitement against Jews and their state.” The distance is not far from tweets in Madrid to bullets in Brussels.
Top Belgian politicians attend memorial for shooting victims
Politicians including Belgian Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo and Foreign Minister Didier Reynders called for vigilance against hatred in their speeches and attendees expressed anger and sadness over the events of Saturday.
“We slowly get used to small anti-Semitic acts, anti-social acts, to fundamentalist speeches,” Bartholomeeusen told Belgian TV channel RTL.
Meanwhile, approximately 300 members of the Jewish community gathered outside the Belgium Jewish Museum on Sunday evening to recite the Kaddish prayer for the dead and light candles at the scene.
UN secretary-general ‘shocked’ by Jewish museum attack in Brussels
“The Secretary-General notes that, while the investigation is ongoing, the location of the attack points to a possible anti-Semitic motivation behind it,” a spokesperson for the secretary general said in a statement, adding that the UN chief sends his condolences to the families of the victims.
“[The Secretary General] reiterates his strong condemnation of all forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance and trusts that Belgian authorities will do everything possible to bring the perpetrator or perpetrators of this crime to justice swiftly,” he went on.
A Palestinian State — Not a Priority
None of the Arab countries fought on behalf of, or due to, Palestinian Arab aspirations. They did not share with the Palestinian Arabs the spoils of war. Iraq occupied Samaria and transferred it to Jordan, which occupied Judea. In April 1950, Jordan annexed Judea and Samaria to the east bank of the Jordan River, naming it the West Bank. Egypt occupied Gaza and, just like Jordan, did not allow Palestinian nationalistic activities. None of the ensuing Arab-Israeli wars (1956, 1967, 1969-70 and 1973) were Palestinian-driven.
During the October 1994 Israel-Jordan peace signing ceremony, top Jordanian military leaders told their Israeli counterparts that “a Palestinian state west of the Jordan River would doom the Hashemite kingdom east of the river.”
The Arab League and the U.N. did not raise the issue of a Palestinian state in Judea, Samaria and Gaza until 1967, when the issue was raised as a means to undermine the survival of the Jewish state.
In fact, the Palestinian issue has never been a chief axis of U.S.-Israel relations. While the two administrations have never agreed on the Palestinian issue, their strategic cooperation has surged dramatically due to joint interests, mutual threats and shared values, which significantly transcend the Palestinian issue and the Arab-Israeli conflict.
However, ignoring reality, Western policy makers consider the Palestinian issue the crown jewel of Arab policy-making, the core cause of Middle Eastern developments and the crux of the Arab-Israeli conflict.
An erroneous underlying, Palestinian-driven assumption has produced an erroneous policy, radicalizing Arab and Palestinian expectations, fueling terrorism and inherent Middle Eastern instability, distancing the parties from peace and bringing them closer to war, and undermining Western national security and vital economic interests.
US: We oppose unilateral steps, want peace talks to resume
The US is opposed to unilateral steps of any kind and is interested in seeing peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians resume, a State Department official said Friday, in response to comments made earlier in the day by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in which he intimated that Israel may have to take unilateral steps as an alternative to negotiations.
“We don’t think either side should do anything to complicate efforts right now to build the trust necessary to resume negotiations,” said the State Department’s deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf.
“No one should take any steps that undermine trust, including unilateral,” she said, stressing that the US “would like to resume peace negotiations.”
Report: US 'Changing its Position' on Hamas-Fatah Deal
Abu Marzouk also revealed that Hamas recently held talks with the European Union (EU) and an unofficial American representative.
Hamas officials "sensed a change in the American position," he said - hinting that the US is becoming more open to the idea of a Hamas-led "unity" Palestinian Arab government. A senior US administration official had said last month that the United States would have to reconsider its assistance to PA if Fatah and Hamas form a government together.
Honest Reporting: Is Israel a Monster?
Is Israel a monster?
Seriously, if you went by how the Western media reported on Israel, you might get the notion that Israel was one of the worst abusers of human rights in the world, a real monster.
After all, we are constantly reminded that the failure of the peace process is due to Israeli settlement building. We read that Jerusalem is a city that Israel conquered in 1967. We can see account after account of Palestinians living under a brutal occupation.
There are United Nations condemnations which are reported as if they are the ultimate legal conclusions.
Ex-Israeli, Saudi intel chiefs to hold public debate
A first-of-its-kind public debate between a former Saudi spy chief and a former Israeli head of military intelligence is set to take place Monday in the Belgian city of Brussels.
Prince Turki bin Faisal al-Saud, the director of the General Intelligence of Saudi Arabia from 1979 to 2001, will discuss pressing foreign and security policy issues facing Middle Eastern countries with Amos Yadlin, who headed Israel’s military intelligence between 2006 and 2010 after serving as deputy commander of the Israeli Air Force.
Jenin refugee camp residents show support for Hamas
Hamas and Islamic Jihad members were greeted with cheers, the Channel 2 report showed, as they took the stage, armed with rifles, to address the crowd.
“We are fighting because there is no peace,” a militant, who shot his rifle in the air, said. “With the Jewish Israelis, there will only be peace through the rifle. Only like this do we talk with Israelis and only like this will we liberate our land, with the help of Allah.”
Senior Hamas and Islamic Jihad members encouraged Jenin residents to unite behind them against Israel.
“The one who killed our activists is the occupation,” one man yelled, as armed men around him fired their weapons into the air. “We will avenge this occupation through our unity.”
Hamas and Iran Continuing to Get Closer
Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian met on Thursday with the head of Hamas’s political bureau, Khaled Mashaal, Iranian media reported.
The meeting took place in Doha on the sidelines of the second meeting of the Qatari-Iranian joint political committee, according to the IRIB news agency.
During the meeting, Mashaal reportedly denounced Israel over its "political exploitation of events in the region, including the Syrian crisis."
He also welcomed the position of Tehran towards Syria, stressing the political solution for the crisis.
Hezbollah can still deter Israel, terror chief warns
In a televised address to mark the 14th anniversary of Israel’s withdrawal from south Lebanon, Nasrallah said Hezbollah is still able to deter its arch-enemy Israel.
“Despite the developments and events that are taking place in our region, especially in Syria, the resistance [Hezbollah] still has the capacity to deter Israel,” he said.
“This is one of the Israeli enemy’s concerns. It looks at Syria and Iran [key Assad and Hezbollah backer]… and sees that they are giving all the help they can to the resistance,” he said, suggesting Hezbollah is still receiving military and financial support from its allies.
Assad thanks Russia for help ‘against terrorism’
The meeting comes days after Russia vetoed a draft UN resolution that would have referred crimes committed in Syria to the International Criminal Court (ICC).
Assad expressed “his appreciation for the Russian position of support for the Syrian people in their war against terrorism,” state news agency SANA said, using the government’s term for its opponents.
Two weeks away from a controversial vote that is expected to return him to power, Assad stressed “the significance of Russia defending global stability in the face of the West, which is trying to impose its hegemony in the region”, SANA added.
Syrian refugees denied cancer care
With millions of Syrians driven from their homes by three years of conflict, and huge numbers having fled a decade of violence in Iraq, health systems in the region have been overwhelmed.
“We can treat everyone with measles, but we can’t treat everyone with cancer,” said Paul Spiegel, UNHCR’s medical chief.
Doctors are therefore having to make heart-rending decisions about who gets cancer care and who is left to fend for themselves.
“We have to turn away cancer patients with poor prognoses because caring for them is too expensive. After losing everything at home, cancer patients face even greater suffering abroad — often at a huge emotional and financial cost to their families,” Spiegel said.
Reuters: “No Progress” in Efforts to Secure Remaining Chemical Weapons in Syria
Reuters on Thursday flatly assessed that “Syria has made no progress in relinquishing a last batch of chemical weapons [CWs],” noting that the Bashar al-Assad regime is using claims of nearby fighting to excuse the “increasingly likely” scenario under which it would fail to meet a final deadline set for it to dismantle its CWs:
"The British deputy representative to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) told delegates in The Hague that packaging material had arrived for the 100 metric tons of toxic chemicals.
“But there is still no sign of any movement of chemicals, nor any indications of a time scale for a move,” said the statement, a copy of which was obtained by Reuters."
Iran's Supreme Leader: Jihad Will Continue Until America is No More
Khamenei emphasized that without a combative mindset, the regime cannot reach its higher Islamic role against the “oppressors’ front.”
“Today’s world is full of thieves and plunderers of human honor, dignity and morality who are equipped with knowledge, wealth and power, and under the pretense of humanity easily commit crimes and betray human ideals and start wars in different parts of the world.”
In response to a question by a parliamentarian on how long this battle will continue, Khamenei said,“Battle and jihad are endless because evil and its front continue to exist. … This battle will only end when the society can get rid of the oppressors’ front with America at the head of it, which has expanded its claws on human mind, body and thought. … This requires a difficult and lengthy struggle and need for great strides.”
Iran calls to destroy nuclear capacities of US, Israel
Iranian Defense Minister Brigadier-General Hossein Dehqan said Sunday that discussion about the destruction of the United States’s and Israel’s nuclear weapons capabilities should immediately follow current talks with the international community on Iran’s nuclear program.
“We ask our nuclear negotiators to focus their utmost efforts on the complete annihilation of the Zionist regime’s nuclear, chemical and biological weapons as the biggest danger posed to the region and world security as well as the US nuclear disarmament based on paragraph 6 of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) alongside their negotiations with the Group 5+1 (the US, Russia, China, Britain and France plus Germany),” Dehqan said, as cited in the semi-official Fars News Agency.
Director of Iranian 'Happy' Video Still Imprisoned
Tehran came under fire last week for arresting participants in an Iranian version of Pharrell Williams’ "Happy" video, and a media storm eventually saw the release of several participants.
But what Iran has not announced is that at least one director remains imprisoned over the viral video - and under horrifying conditions.
An anonymous source told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran Saturday that Sassan Soleimani, one of the video's directors, remains in Rajaee-Shahr Prison in Karaj - and is being deprived of sleep and other basic needs.
Iranian women face backlash over scarf-free Facebook pics
When it was launched on May 3, the My Stealthy Freedom Facebook group quickly became a popular forum for Iranian women to express their dissatisfaction with laws requiring that they cover their hair by posting pictures of themselves without the traditional hijab covering. As of Monday it has garnered almost 370,000 likes.
However, with the popularity has also come backlash from those in favor of the hijab. On the Facebook group Real Freedom of Iranian Women, founded shortly after My Stealthy Freedom appeared, many messages were posted in favor of the head-covering law, asserting that the hijab offers freedom and protects women’s modesty.
Some posts were not as innocent. In one, somebody scrawled the word “rape” over the photos of three Iranian journalists who appear in their broadcasts with their hair uncovered, according to the British newspaper Telegraph. Along with the picture was a message warning that women who don’t wear a hijab are more likely to be sexually assaulted.

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