Saturday, September 20, 2014

From Ian:

Melanie Phillips: If the West denies what it’s up against, it will lose
Westerners cannot grasp the nature of religious fanaticism. They can’t believe that other cultures may be unlike themselves and motivated not by reason but by dogma. They cannot take seriously the notion of a holy war.
But Islamic State is the purest expression we have seen of precisely that, because all the usual alibis have been stripped away. The fundamental goal of Islamic State is not to remedy some geopolitical grievance against Israel, America, India or Saudi Arabia. It is to establish a caliphate and force the world to submit to Islam. What Islamic State openly stands for is mass murder and barbarism in the name of God.
Neither air strikes nor ground troops will defeat the religious idea for which Islamic State stands and which is inspiring thousands of Muslims to join it and other such militias. To defeat Islamic terror, that idea has to be defeated. The free world needs to help truly reformist Muslims to purge it from their religion.
We must hope Islam can be reformed. If not, the alternative is brutal: either we defeat Islamic extremism or it defeats us. But for sure, denying what it is will hand it victory.
Gaza: The Proto-Palestinian State – That Wasn’t
The Arab and Palestinian leadership, with the UN’s help, was brilliant in ensuring that the world would never forget Palestinian refugee story and, indeed, it is as fresh today as it was in 1948.
A 1959 news report, gleaned from the New York Times archive, provides a revealing illustration of this cynical public relations stunt, which was as destructive as it was effective.
That year, then UN Secretary General Dag Hammarskjold proposed a massive international development project to resettle Palestinian refugees. As the Times reported on August 9, 1959, Mr. Hammarskjold suggested that $1.5 – $2 billion (approximately $11-$15 billion in 2014 dollars) be spent over the next five years to “make productive jobs for the 1,000,000 refugees in Arab lands.”
It was not to be. The Arab League, supported by Palestinian refugee leaders, opposed the UN plan. They not only rejected the development concept, they demanded that UNRWA “drop all of its resettlement operations and become exclusively a relief agency.” Echoing exactly what we hear from today’s Palestinian leadership, the Arabs insisted that refugees be permitted to return to homes in Israel or receive compensation if they chose not to.
The Times story left no doubt as to what motivated the Arabs’ position:
Israeli Tactics Greatly Reduced Gaza Civilian Casualty Rates
Israel's detractors engage in moral inversion, falsely accusing Israel of crimes and sins that the enemies of the Jewish state commit. In the recently concluded summer war of 2014 between Israel and Hamas, the usual clique of UN organizations, human rights groups and media organizations accused Israel of recklessly causing disproportionate civilian casualties in the Gaza Strip, while paying less attention to Hamas crimes against both Israeli and Palestinian civilians. Groups like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch demanded investigations of Israel for war crimes and called for embargos against the Jewish state. But a web site that specializes in military analysis, DefenseNews, describes innovative Israeli tactics that significantly reduce civilian casualties. The article quotes Israeli Brig. Gen. Amikam Norkin, Israel Air Force chief of staff, who explained that
Protective Edge marked the first time fixed-wing fighters were used as dedicated assets to division- and brigade-level forces.
“Over the last year, we drilled in a very substantive way with the ground forces and we built a process where our fighters could attack at much closer distances … We did this hundreds of times during the operation.”
The result according to Norkin was that Israel was able to far surpass
"an international average of five innocents killed for each targeted terrorist. He said preliminary data from Protective Edge indicates “we’re slowly closing in on numbers of one to one."
Is the UN Fair to Israel?
Israel is a vibrant democracy with full rights for women and gays, a free press and independent judiciary. You would think that the United Nations would celebrate such a country. Instead, the UN condemns Israel at every turn to the point of obsession. How did this happen? Anne Bayefsky, director of the Touro Institute on Human Rights, explains in five eye-opening minutes.

Senior Israeli Officer in Gaza Saw Hamas Fighter Seize Children as Shields After Firing at IDF Forces (INTERVIEW)
A senior Israel Defense Forces officer told The Algemeiner that he personally witnessed a Hamas fighter seize children to hide behind after firing at Israeli troops during Operation Protective Edge in Gaza.
In a recent wide-ranging interview, Colonel Yonatan Branski, who commanded missions in Beit Hanoun during the Operation, also revealed intimate details of Hamas warfare tactics, explained the unprecedented steps Israel takes to prevent civilian casualties during combat, and asserted that the IDF is the planet’s most moral army.
Branksi’s comments were made with the approval of the IDF, but in a personal capacity during a recent visit to New York.
Until just a year ago, Branski served as the Deputy Commander of the Southern Command’s Gaza Division. Now an instructor in the Commander and Staff College of the IDF, he was reassigned to command infantry and armored brigades during the war.
The Colonel described the Gaza terror infrastructure as being “like two cities, one above the ground and one beneath the ground.”
Alan Dershowitz: How to defeat ISIS? Ask Israel
Alan Dershowitz explains why Israel's strategy in combating Hamas serves as the blueprint the US should use versus ISIS.

Khaled Abu Toameh: Hamas and Fatah Already Fighting Over Gaza Funds
Some PLO leaders in Ramallah are now talking about a permanent split between the West Bank and Gaza Strip as a result of the Hamas-Fatah power struggle.
PLO Secretary-General Yasser Abed Rabbo said this week that the Gaza Strip was "closer than ever to being separated from the West Bank" due to the ongoing Fatah-Hamas rivalry.
However, what is at stake here is not only Palestinian "unity." Fatah and Hamas will continue to fight and quarrel over everything from financial to political and ideological issues. "Unity" is one victim of this power struggle. The other victim is the effort to rebuild the Gaza Strip and help its residents.
When they are not fighting over political and ideological matters, Hamas and Fatah are scrambling for money. Under the current circumstances, Arab and Western donors who are willing to contribute to helping the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip need to make sure that their money does not end up (once again) in the wrong hands. Without a proper mechanism of accountability and transparency, hundreds of millions of dollars are likely to find their way into the bank accounts of both Hamas and Fatah leaders.
German taxpayers funding anti-Israel hate
Internationally, the German tax payer remains a leading sponsor of NGOs and groups that target Israel and the Jewish people.
According to conservative estimates provided by the watchdog group NGO Monitor, between 2010 and 2014 the German government gave more than €4 million to organizations in Israel and the Palestinian territories that are actively running campaigns to demonize and delegitimize the State of Israel.
Two German political foundations alone, the Rosa Luxembourg Foundation and the Heinrich Boell Foundation, could be funneling more than €2 million worth of taxpayer’s revenue every year to such groups.
According to NGO Monitor, both of these political foundations have shown a lack of transparency in their allocation practices, making it difficult to estimate the actual amount of money going to these groups. The real figures could be even higher.
Not surprisingly, both these foundations also happen to have a long history of supporting anti-Israel campaigns in Germany.
Jewish, proudly British and increasingly concerned about rising antisemitism
It is absolutely and definitively not antisemitic to criticise Israel.
Yet at the same time much anti-Zionism is entangled with antisemitism and it is important to make that clear, too.
It is antisemitic to suggest that the world is being dominated by the great pariah state of Israel, defending its own interests through money and power. It is antisemitic to suggest that the “Zionists” control the media. It is antisemitic to elevate the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians high above all the wrongs being done, not least to Palestinians, by neighbouring states.
And when someone throws a rock at a Jew, who is going to pick it up and ask: “Hold on, can we just be a clear? Was this an anti-Zionist rock or an antisemitic rock?”
Whatever the protesters intended, they bounced Sainsbury’s into closing the kosher food counter. They managed to exile the Jewish Film Festival. They hold out the implicit threat that you can live here in peace — here, in Britain — but not if you want to support Israel. Who cares if they mean to be antisemitic?
…I worry — for the first time in my life, I do, I worry — about walking to synagogue on the Jewish new year.
The Barbarians Within Our Gates
With his decision to use force against the violent extremists of the Islamic State, President Obama is doing more than to knowingly enter a quagmire. He is doing more than play with the fates of two half-broken countries—Iraq and Syria—whose societies were gutted long before the Americans appeared on the horizon. Obama is stepping once again—and with understandably great reluctance—into the chaos of an entire civilization that has broken down.
Arab civilization, such as we knew it, is all but gone. The Arab world today is more violent, unstable, fragmented and driven by extremism—the extremism of the rulers and those in opposition—than at any time since the collapse of the Ottoman Empire a century ago. Every hope of modern Arab history has been betrayed. The promise of political empowerment, the return of politics, the restoration of human dignity heralded by the season of Arab uprisings in their early heydays—all has given way to civil wars, ethnic, sectarian and regional divisions and the reassertion of absolutism, both in its military and atavistic forms. With the dubious exception of the antiquated monarchies and emirates of the Gulf—which for the moment are holding out against the tide of chaos—and possibly Tunisia, there is no recognizable legitimacy left in the Arab world.
Is it any surprise that, like the vermin that take over a ruined city, the heirs to this self-destroyed civilization should be the nihilistic thugs of the Islamic State? And that there is no one else who can clean up the vast mess we Arabs have made of our world but the Americans and Western countries?
France to Turn to UN with Solution to Israel-PA Conflict
French President Francois Hollande said on Friday that a "solution to the conflict" between the Israelis and Palestinian Arabs will be put to the United Nations (UN) Security Council.
Hollande made the comments after meeting Palestinian Authority (PA) Chairman Mahmoud Abbas in Paris, reported AFP.
"We will have a resolution, to be presented to the Security Council, that will say very clearly what we expect from the (peace) process and what the solution to the conflict must be," Hollande told reporters in a joint news conference with Abbas.
The French president said that stop-start negotiations had gone on "too long" and "there is a perception that there will never be a solution to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, even though we know the outlines" of a possible deal".
The most recent confrontation was "the third time that Gaza has been destroyed," Hollande said, according to AFP.
Senate Passes Bill Declaring Israel as ‘Major Strategic Partner’
With over three-quarters of its members as co-sponsors, the Senate unanimously adopted the United States-Israel Strategic Partnership Act late Thursday evening. The bill declares Israel to be a “major strategic partner” of the United States, and its proponents say it will lay the foundation for expanded US-Israel cooperation in defense, energy, agriculture, and a number of other key sectors.
The bipartisan legislation was authored by Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Roy Blunt (R-MO) had 81 co-sponsors, out of a total of 100 Senators.
“America’s long-standing relationship and strong cooperation with Israel dates back to the presidency of fellow Missourian Harry S. Truman,” Blunt said following the bill’s passage. “I’m pleased the Senate has passed this bipartisan bill to reaffirm and broaden the important US-Israel alliance through security, energy, and trade during this critical time in the Middle East region.”
In addition to declaring that Israel is a “major strategic partner” of the United States, the legislation increases the frequency and detail of US government reporting on Israel’s qualitative military edge. It also includes a provision that will expand the authority for forward-deployed US weapons stockpiles in Israel.
Palestinian UN diplomat compares Gaza to Hiroshima
On September 19, 2014 a Palestinian diplomat, speaking at a side event during the current UN Human Rights Council session in Geneva, compared Israel's actions in Gaza to the bombing of Hiroshima. Permission for all such side events must be given by the UN secretariat, and the events are advertised by the UN.
Here are some of the comments made by Adel Atieh, representing the peace-seeking "state of Palestine:"
"The political context before this [Israeli] attack, aggression is really speaking about the kidnapping of 3 young Israelis which is bizarre because no Palestinian organization claimed responsibility in the killing of the Israelis...Israel used huge contingents of bombs on the Gaza strip. 20,000 tons of explosives. To give you an idea of this 20,000 tons on the Gaza strip...the Hiroshima bomb...need[ed] only 13,000 [actually 16 kilotons of TNT]...Israel is committing crimes against humanity."
The meeting was organized by "Maarij Foundation for Peace and Development" which in 2012 invited a representative of the terrorist organization, Hamas, Ismail al-Ashqar, to speak at the similar side event.
Israeli drone crashes in southern Lebanon
An Israeli drone aircraft crashed in southern Lebanon on Saturday near the border between the two countries.
According to the Lebanese government news agency, the aircraft was taken to the Marjaayoun army base after crashing due to a “mechanical malfunction,” but there was no immediate indication of the extent of the damage to the plane.
“The drone crashed on the Lebanese border, inside Lebanese territory. Lebanese troops are in the area,” a Lebanese military source told AFP.
Poroshenko Tells Congress: 'Just Like Israel, Ukraine Has the Right to Defend Her Territory'
The war in Ukraine, Poroshenko warned, is not Ukraine's alone: "It is Europe’s, and it is America’s war, too. It is a war of the free world--and for a free world! Today, aggression against Ukraine is a threat to global security everywhere."
In an appeal to Congress's pro-Israel sentiments, Poroshenko said: "Just like Israel, Ukraine has the right to defend her territory--and it will do so, with all the courage of her heart and dedication of her soul!"
Poroshenko reminded Congress that the U.S. promised to defend Ukraine: "Allow me to remind you: 20 years ago, in the Budapest Memorandum, Russia (along with the United States, the United Kingdom, France and China) vowed to provide for the inviolability of Ukraine’s state borders and territorial sovereignty. In reality, what we got from Russia was annexation and a war that has brought Ukraine to the brink of its survival....
Hamas-Backing Qatar Contracts Top Flight Public Relations Firm to Improve Ties With US
Just days after a controversy involving one of Washington’s most respected think-tanks, the Gulf state of Qatar has contracted a white collar, London based public relations firm “for a communications/political push targeted at Congress and federal agencies to improve ties with the US,” industry publication O’Dwyer’s reported on Thursday.
The $150,000 agreement with Portland Communications “also includes media outreach, event management, research, policymaker/influencer meetings and event management. It began Sept. 15 and runs through year end,” according to the report.
Qatar has been strongly criticized by Israel for its funding of widely designated terror group Hamas and has also been called out by others for its support of Islamist terror groups.
Visit of Jordanian lawmakers to Gaza called off due to 'security reasons'
Jordanian parliament members who were planning to travel to the Gaza Strip have been forced to call off their visit for “security reasons.”
The 12 parliamentarians arrived in Cairo last week to seek permission from the Egyptian authorities to enter the Gaza Strip through the Rafah border crossing.
On Saturday, however, they announced that they would head back to Jordan after being notified by the Egyptian authorities that the security situation in Sinai is “very dangerous.”
The delegation was planning to hold a “solidarity” visit to the Gaza Strip in the aftermath of Operation Protective Edge. The parliament members were also planning to hold meetings with leaders of Hamas and other Palestinian groups in the Gaza Strip.
“The Egyptian authorities have informed us that the security situation in Sinai is very dangerous, especially the area between Rafah and Al-Arish, which makes it difficult for us to reach the border with the Gaza Strip,” said Yehya Al-Saud, head of the Jordanian delegation.
Hamas to PA: Show us proof that int'l organizations will cease aid if our salaries are not paid
Hamas is demanding proof from Palestinian Authority Prime Minister that donor countries have threatened to suspend financial aid to the Palestinians if his government paid salaries to Hamas employees in the Gaza Strip.
Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah said recently that donor countries had warned him not to pay salaries to Hamas’ 40,000 civil servants.
“The government and the banks operating in the Palestinian territories were warned that if they make they make these payments to former Hamas government employees, then the government and the people will be boycotted,” Hamdallah said in an interview with AFP late August.
Decapitated body found in Egypt’s Sinai
The decapitated body of a man was found Friday in a town in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, security officials said, in the latest in a series of beheadings allegedly carried out by jihadists.
Local residents found the body on the side of a road in Sheikh Zuweid, near North Sinai’s provincial capital of El-Arish.
Friday’s gruesome find comes after Egypt’s deadliest jihadist group, Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, claimed it beheaded four Sinai residents in August.
The men were accused of being “Israeli informants” who helped target and kill some of the group’s members.
The secret of ISIS success
What is clear from this clip, which Cantlie says is the first in a series to be aired in the near future, is that his captors had reached the conclusion that it would be wiser for them at this moment to exhibit a bit less brutality. Though their previous bloody displays went viral on the Internet, due to the widespread voyeurism in the West that makes reality television so popular, they understood that it wouldn't be in their best interest to go too far. Americans and Europeans may have a perverse need to see what a severed head looks like; but they tend to respond by wanting to kill the savages capable of cutting it off.
The idea to have Cantlie appeal to the antiwar sensibilities of Western liberals is therefore a clever one, even if it doesn't have the full desired effect.
But ISIS need not grow discouraged. What has proved incredibly successful is its campaign to recruit Western-born Muslims to its ranks. Every day, new data emerges about young men and women from all over the world who are traveling to Syria and Iraq to join ISIS. Many of these then return to their countries of origin to spread its ideology and engage in violent tactics on behalf of the budding Islamic caliphate.
Assad Strikes Hard Against Moderate Rebels, Doesn’t Touch ISIL
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces have intensified their attacks on more moderate rebels battling his government while avoiding strikes against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or ISIS), the New York Times reports, suggesting that the Syrian regime has a plan to benefit from anticipated U.S. strikes narrowly targeting ISIL in Syria.
New regime airstrikes on Wednesday killed about 50 people in the rebel-held village of Talbiseh in central Syria, including several fighters and a woman and her five children. The moderate “Faith in God Brigade” is based in the village.
Assad’s new campaign to destroy the rebels—while leaving ISIL alone—appears to be timed with President Barack Obama’s threat to order airstrikes in Syria against the extremist group:
Turkey denies paying ransom for 49 citizens freed by IS
Security sources in Turkey say the government did not pay a ransom for 49 Turkish hostages freed by the Islamic State Saturday.
According to the Turkish daily Hurriyet, Turkish security sources said the country’s National Intelligence Agency was involved in the “rescue operation” that did not include military involvement.
According to one hostage freed Saturday, the Turkish captives were treated better than others because they were Muslims. “Still, we were not comfortable, as there was a war going on outside,” he said, according to Hurriyet.
UN urges global support for Iraq to fight terror
The UN Security Council urged the international community Friday to expand support for the Iraqi government as it fights the Islamic State group and its allies, and US Secretary of State John Kerry said there is a role for nearly every country in the world — including Iran.
The presidential statement approved by all 15 council members at a meeting chaired by Kerry expressed “deep outrage” at the killing, kidnapping, rape and torture carried out by the Islamic State group. Some of those acts might constitute war crimes and crimes against humanity, it said.
Kerry convened the council to show support for the new Iraqi government in its efforts to combat the Islamic State group and to mobilize the world against the extremists who control a large swath of Syria and north and western Iraq. He did so a day after Congress approved the Obama administration’s plan authorizing the US military to arm and train moderate Syrian rebels fighting Islamic State militants.
US: $10 million bounty on killers of Foley, Sotloff
The US Senate has unanimously approved a bill providing up to $10 million for information leading to the arrest or conviction of people involved in executing two American journalists murdered by jihadists.
“One way we can honor the memories of James Foley and Steven Sotloff is to bring their evil murderers to justice, which this measure will help do,” Senator Marco Rubio said Friday.
Rubio, from Sotloff’s home state of Florida, said it was important to send the message “that the United States will work tirelessly to ensure that the deaths of these beloved journalists do not go unpunished.”
45,000 Syrian Kurds enter Turkey fleeing IS
Some 45,000 Syrian Kurds fleeing advancing Islamic State jihadists have poured across the border into Turkey since Ankara opened up its southern frontier on Friday, the country’s deputy prime minister said.
“As of now, 45,000 Syrian Kurds have have crossed the border and entered the Turkish soil from eight entrance points,” Numan Kurtulmus told reporters on Saturday.
“No country in the world can take in 45,000 refugees in one night, bring them here unharmed and find them a shelter without a problem. This proves how powerful Turkey is,” he said.
Syrian Kurds have been massing since Thursday on the other side of the border as the IS extremists seized dozens of villages in a lightning offensive as they close in on the strategic Syrian town of Ain al-Arab, known to the Kurds as Kobani.
Belgium thwarts Islamist attacks — report
Up to 400 Belgian nationals are estimated to have gone to fight in Syria, with about 90 known to have returned home, L’Echo said.
“Our starting point is that among them, one out of nine aim to carry out an attack,” a source said. “That is a conservative estimate, if you also take into account the people who help them.”
The newspaper said its sources did not want to give details of the planned attacks nor of the operations to prevent them, for reasons of security and so as not to alarm the public.
Several arrests have been made, it added.
Officials declined to provide any details but did confirm that several operations had been carried out.
“We are working full time on the problem of the returning fighters,” Belga news agency cited a federal judicial spokesman as saying.
“We work together with the security services and that led us to carry out several operations,” the spokesman said.
Antwerp police chief: In crisis, army should protect Jews
Citing the deadly May attack on Brussels’ Jewish museum, Antwerp’s police commissioner called on the government to deploy the army to secure Jewish institutions in crisis situations.
Commissioner Serge Muyters spoke at a meeting Wednesday between leaders of the Belgian city’s Jewish community and police leaders, the Joods Actueel Jewish monthly reported.
“If the threat continues to remains at level 4, as it did after the attack in Brussels, then we should be able to deploy the army,” Muyters said, referring to the slaying of four people on May 24 at the Jewish Museum of Belgium.
The deployment of troops during level 4 situations is necessary because the police department “does not have the manpower or money to provide optimal protection, which requires hundreds of extra personnel and millions of euros,” Muyters said.
Currently, Belgian troops do not have the legal mandate to carry out policing duties on Belgian soil.
Father of 'Jihadi John' Suspect Weeps as He Admits Plotting U.S. Embassy Bombings with Bin Laden
The father of one of the British militants suspected of being 'Jihadi John' has admitted in court that he plotted with Osama bin Laden to blow up American embassies in 1998.
The Daily Mail reports that Adel Abdul Bary wept as he pleaded guilty to making a threat to use an explosive device and conspiracy to murder American people. He had been charged in relation to the 1998 bombings of two American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, which killed 224 people including 12 Americans.
Mr Bary's son, Abdel-Majed Abdel Bary, is a British rapper who fled to Syria to fight with ISIS. He is one of the people suspected to be 'Jihadi John', the masked man who brutally murdered three hostages in videos posted online.
Iran: Blogger Sentenced to Death for 'Insulting Mohammed'
An Iranian court earlier this week sentenced a blogger to death for insulting the Muslim prophet Mohammed.
The International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran said 30-year-old Soheil Arabi was found guilty of sabb al-nabi - "insulting the prophet" - on August 30. He was arrested along with his wife in November of last year, after Revolutionary Guard forces kicked down his door while he and his family were still sleeping.
Arabi was accused of using numerous Facebook accounts to post messages deemed insulting to "the imams and the prophet Mohammed," but claimed in court he had done so "without thinking and in poor psychological condition", an informed source told the human rights group.
Dozens of Christians Arrested in Saudi Arabia
On Friday, 28 people were rounded up and arrested by hard-line Islamists from the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, informally referred to as the Haia.
“A citizen reported suspicious activities in the house to the Haia and alleged that an Indian man had turned his residence into a church,” a Saudi newspaper reported.
The 28 arrested were attending a prayer meeting at a home in Khafji, an eastern Saudi city. Several Bibles were confiscated in the crackdown. They have not been heard from or seen since. The English-language paper Saudi Gazette reported that the arrests included men, women, and children. It is unclear whether a court date has been set.
This is the latest of a series of crackdowns on religious minorities in Saudi Arabia, which bans non-Islam religions. More than 90 percent of the Saudi citizens are Sunnis, but at least 3.5 million Christians live in the Gulf Arab region, mostly Catholic workers from India and the Philippines.
Saudi fighter with Islamic State urges fighters to wage jihad in kingdom: SITE
A Saudi suicide bomber with the Islamic State group called on fellow Saudis to wage jihad and expressed hope that the group would expand into Saudi Arabia and "expel the disbelievers from the Arabian Peninsula", the SITE monitoring service said.
It said the man, identified as Abu Hajer al-Jazrawi, had carried out a suicide bombing in August in Syria's Raqqa, a bastion of IS. The video was posted on an IS internet feed late on Wednesday.
Addressing his countrymen in an apparent call for attacks not only on the ruling family and Westerners in Saudi Arabia, but also on the kingdom's senior Muslim clergy who have denounced Islamic State, Jazrawi said:
"It is time to say 'we will expel the disbelievers from the Arabian Peninsula'. The fire begins with a small spark. That spark will ignite an explosive fire directed at the Saud Family and to their rabbis and priests."
South African president vows to fight anti-Semitism
Representatives of South Africa’s Jewish community commended President Jacob Zuma’s pledge to combat anti-Semitism.
Zuma of the African National Congress party made the pledge during a meeting Thursday with the leadership of the South African Jewish Board of Deputies, or SAJBD, the board said in a statement Friday.
“In the course of the meeting, President Zuma rejected unequivocally all forms of antisemitism and intolerance, and stressed that his government remained committed to combating such prejudice,” read the statement.
During the meeting, the Jewish representatives spoke with Zuma and members of his cabinet “on the sharp rise in anti-Semitic activity in South Africa, including threats and intimidation against the Jewish community and its leadership,” according to the statement.
Anti-Semitic incidents proliferated in South Africa during Israel’s was on Hamas in Gaza this summer.
Earlier this month, African National Congress Secretary-General Gwede Mantashe cosigned a letter that called Israel’s establishment a “crime against humanity.”
French man sentenced for quenelle at synagogue
A tribunal fined and handed a suspended sentence to a man who made the quenelle gesture in front of a French synagogue’s Holocaust memorial plaque.
The Correctional Tribunal of Colmar in northeastern France last week sentenced the 42-year-old man, who was not named in media reports, to three months in jail, to become effective if he is convicted of a similar offense. He was also made to pay $1,300, the L’Alsace daily reported.
The defendant posted on social networks a picture of himself posing with his son while making the quenelle in front of a commemorative plaque for Jewish victims of the Holocaust located at the entrance to the synagogue of Colmar.
I felt beautiful energy in TLV, says Gaga
Gaga, the multi-platinum, multi-hued, multi-talented artist formerly known as Stefani Germanotta, was the first big-name star to confirm a show in Israel after this summer’s 50-day war with Hamas forced the cancellations of Neil Young, The Backstreet Boys and Lana Del Rey.
Gaga, who last played Tel Aviv six years ago, put on a show that was so big and bright, it almost made up for those cancellations. Sauntering on stage at 9:40 p.m., in the first of several blonde wigs and sequined, space-age like bodysuits, she launched into “ArtPop,” her world tour’s signature track, before belting out “G.U.Y. (Girl Under You),” as a bevy of bare-chested male dancers gyrated and convulsed around her.
Like many of this summer’s pre-war musical acts, including The Rolling Stones and Justin Timberlake, Gaga sprinkled bits of Hebrew into her show, opening her performance by telling the crowd “Ani ohevet othem” (I love you) and closing off several of songs with the words “Todah Rabah” (thank you very much).
“Put your hands up and cheer for yourselves,” she told the crowd. “You are strong, you are brave, you are confident, and I f*cking love you, Israel.”
Obama Announces Fine, He’s Really a Muslim (satire)
With his admission, President Obama might be seeking to take the wind out of his vocal critics’ sails, says Professor Blowe Harde, Political Science Department Chair at Tulane University. “The President is evidently challenging his opponents’ assumption that being a Muslim can have a detrimental effect on one’s American patriotism. He approved the killing of Osama Bin Laden and has consistently maintained a policy of drone strikes in Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia, and Pakistan to get rid of Al Qaeda, Al-Shabab, and Taliban militants,” but many Americans clearly felt that killing Muslims wan’t enough evidence that Obama himself was not also a Muslim, said Harde.
“Muslims kill more Muslims than anyone else ever has, so sustaining the conflict with Al Qaeda and its ilk is perfectly consistent with how a Muslim would behave,” concurs Blather Skyte, an analyst with CBS News. “Obama must have realized that decimating the terrorist leadership would never sufficiently demonstrate that he wasn’t sympathetic to them.”
The press conference also featured a question-and-answer session with White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest, who revealed that the administration is considering a proposal to announce that Obama is also, in fact, Jewish. Such a measure may forestall objections to the President’s newly-confessed faith from Americans sympathetic to Israel. A Pew Research Center poll found that suspicion of Obama’s policy toward Israel has not shifted meaningfully as a result of the announcement; the researchers explain the negligible effect on the fact that Jon Stewart has yet to weigh in on the story.

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