Saturday, June 06, 2015

From Ian:

Attorneys at War
Israel’s fight with Hamas is not just an example of classic asymmetric warfare, it’s also just plain nasty. Why? Hamas may be a nonstate actor but its militants have access to a broad array of sophisticated weaponry that is more typically found in the arsenals of nation-states. Either way, bad news for Israel.
And maybe bad news for other Western nations as well. “The IDF’s warnings certainly go beyond what the law requires, but they also sometimes go beyond what would be operational good sense elsewhere,” says Michael Schmitt, director of the Stockton Center for the Study for International Law at the U.S. Naval War College. “People are going to start thinking that the United States and other Western democracies should follow the same examples in different types of conflict. That’s a real risk.” Schmitt is the author of a just-completed comprehensive analysis of the IDF’s targeting systems.
There’s another risk to the preoccupation with protecting civilians. Some commanders and outside legal experts worry that Dabla attorneys risk discrediting themselves in the eyes of the major consumers of their advice, combat commanders. The commanders at some point may say, “Why? We went overboard to protect civilians last time and we still got criticized. What’s the point?”
A valid question, and one for which Colonel Neuman has an unequivocal answer. “We tell commanders what they need to do to comply with international law. We are clear with them that they don’t need to do more but in a lot of cases they do anyway.” Neuman, a gentle soul who radiates integrity, leaves no doubt he believes that it’s the IDF commanders​—​and not Dabla​—​who do more than what is required by international law.
Despite Neuman’s unambiguous response, ambiguity remains as to who is the driving force behind the IDF’s taking such extensive measures to minimize civilian casualties. The commanders say the lawyers. The lawyers say the commanders. The Naval War College’s Schmitt believes both fighters and lawyers in the IDF share responsibility for the high standards. Ultimately, does it really matter?
There’s one final risk to Israel that stems from this preoccupation with protecting civilians. This risk comes from the north, where Israel faces a far more dangerous enemy than Hamas. That would be Hezbollah, the militant Islamic group, supported and funded by Iran, that controls southern Lebanon. Hezbollah is exponentially stronger and better equipped than Hamas. It seems readily apparent that the IDF will not be able to use methods like individualized phone calls and “roof knocking” in combat with Hezbollah. Will IDF officers then get hammered for acting one way in Gaza and another way in southern Lebanon? It’s a good bet they will.
No matter. For better or worse, combat commanders and Dabla attorneys will bend over backwards to prevent civilian casualties. The concept is simply deeply embedded into the IDF culture.
France deports Algerian father of Toulouse terrorist
The father of Mohamed Merah, who shot dead three soldiers before gunning down three students and a teacher at a Jewish school, had been in the country illegally for months after authorities refused to renew his residency permit in March.
A source close to the case said the father, Mohamed Benalel Merah, was arrested near the cemetery where his son was buried after being killed by elite police after a 32-hour siege of his apartment in the southern city of Toulouse.
He was questioned and put on a flight to Algeria.
His son embarked on a killing spree, gunning down his victims from the back of a scooter between March 11 and 19, 2012, boasting that he was working for Al-Qaeda to police during the siege of his apartment.
Mohamed Benalel Merah later filed a murder complaint when police ended the siege by shooting his son.
Intelligence sources told AFP earlier this year that Merah’s half-brother Essid was suspected of having appeared in an Islamic State group execution video.
Merah’s sister Souad also left for Syria in 2014, the sources said.
Saban calls Orange liars, joins with Adelson to battle boycott ‘tsunami’
Israeli-American media mogul Haim Saban on Saturday rejected as a “blatant lie” the claim by French telecom giant Orange that it was not pulling out of Israel for political reasons, and vowed to fight back so robustly against Orange that any other company thinking of boycotting Israel would reconsider. “We do have an anti-Semitic tsunami that’s coming at us,” said Saban of the international effort to boycott and demonize Israel.
Saban was speaking in a joint Israeli television interview with Jewish American billionaire Sheldon Adelson from Las Vegas, where Adelson this weekend hosted representatives of some 50 Jewish and pro-Israel organizations to coordinate a strategy for battling anti-Israel boycott efforts.
Adelson said his prime focus initially was to reverse the inroads being made by what he called “the BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) and company… the anti-Israel and anti-Semitic organizations [that] are making a lot of headway on the campuses in the United States.” He said he would encourage Jewish groups to work to have boycott decisions taken by student campus groups reversed.
But Saban made clear that he intended to fight back against any business groups inclining to boycott Israel, and create a climate in which they were deterred from doing so.
Saban — who owns Partner, the Israeli company whose rights to use the Orange name are now to be cancelled by the French telecom giant — angrily dismissed Orange CEO Stephane Richard’s claim that Orange is not pulling out of Israel for political reasons.

Eugene Kontorovich: South Carolina passes historic anti-boycott law
South Carolina yesterday passed a historic law banning the state from contracting with companies engaged in certain kinds of boycotts. The statute, dealing with “Prohibition of contracting with discriminatory businesses,” provides, in part:
Section 11-35-5300. (A) A public entity may not enter into a contract with a business to acquire or dispose of supplies, services, information technology, or construction unless the contract includes a representation that the business is not currently engaged in, and an agreement that the business will not engage in, the boycott of a person or an entity based in or doing business with a jurisdiction with whom South Carolina can enjoy open trade, as defined in this article.
(B) For purposes of this section:
(1) ‘Boycott’ means to blacklist, divest from, or otherwise refuse to deal with a person or firm when the action is based on race, color, religion, gender, or national origin of the targeted person or entity. ‘Boycott’ does not include:
(a) a decision based on business or economic reasons, or the specific conduct of a targeted person or firm;
(b) a boycott against a public entity of a foreign state when the boycott is applied in a nondiscriminatory manner;

The statute, unlike the recent Illinois anti-boycott measure, is in now way limited to boycotts targeted at Israeli firms, but certainly can apply to them.
Full disclosure: I advised the sponsors of the bill, in particular, Rep. Alan Clemmons, on the measure.
Hizb ut-Tahrir leader says woman suing for sexual discrimination does not understand Islam
THE leader of radical Islamist political party Hizb ut-Tahrir will argue a woman who is suing the organisation for $100,000 over claims of sexual discrimination simply does not understand Islam.
Freelance journalist Alison Bevege is taking the hardline group to the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal after she was asked to sit at the back of a hall with other women at a public meeting last October.
She claims that, despite her protestations, she was told she had to sit separately to the men in the hall and was the victim of sexual discrimminsation.
But the group’s leader Ismail Alwahwah will categorically refute the claims.
The Daily Telegraph can reveal Mr Alwahwah is of the view that Alison Bevege doesn’t understand the Muslim religion and that the separation of men and women is part of Islam itself and not reserved to religious gatherings in mosques.
Saudi general tells Israeli TV of peace hopes
In a further small sign of warming Saudi attitudes to Israel, a retired Saudi general with ties to the government gave an interview to an Israeli TV station and said the two countries would be able to work together were Israel to accept the Saudi-initiated Arab Peace Initiative.
Anwar Eshki, spoke to Israel’s Channel 10 news during a remarkable event in Washington on Thursday, when he shared a platform with the incoming director-general of the Israeli Foreign Ministry, Dore Gold, a confidant of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Saudi Arabia has no diplomatic relations with Israel, and while Saudi officials sometimes talk privately with Israeli journalists, they do not generally do so publicly. In 2007, at the height of a US-brokered effort to advance regional peace efforts, for instance, Saudi Arabia ejected from its embassy in Washington a group of Israeli journalists who sought to attend a briefing the Saudis were holding for western journalists on the sidelines of the Annapolis peace conference.
Eshki told the Israeli TV station that he and Gold had sat down together “to call for peace in the Middle East.” He said “Saudis and Israelis could work together when Israel announces that it accepts the Arab Initiative.”
Israel-Saudi Cooperation Debunks Obama’s Foreign Policy Vision
Obama came into office convinced that U.S. influence in the Middle East, as well as regional stability, revolved around one problem: the plight of the Palestinians. Resolving their conflict with Israel was the president’s top foreign policy from his first day in office. His belief that the U.S. was too close to Israel and that by establishing more daylight between the two allies, he could help broker an end to the long war between Jews and Arabs. To accomplish that goal, he picked fights with Israel, undermined its diplomatic position, and did his best to pressure the Israelis into making concessions that would please the Palestinians. The failure of this policy was foreordained since the Palestinians are still unable to recognize the legitimacy of a Jewish state no matter where its borders are drawn.
But the events of the past six years have also shown that his focus on the Palestinians as the source of the problem was a disastrous mistake. The Arab spring, civil war in Syria, the rise of ISIS, and the Iranian nuclear threat proved that the Palestinians had little or nothing to do with the most serious problems in the region. Indeed, by forcing Israel and the Saudis to cooperate against Iran with little attention being paid to the dead end peace process with the Palestinians, Obama has effectively debunked the core idea at the heart of his foreign policy.
Israel-Saudi cooperation is certainly an example of how a president of the United States can create change. But it’s also proof of the bankruptcy of Obama’s dangerous vision for American foreign policy. His legacy won’t be so much an entente with Iran as it is the necessity of American allies having to band together to try to avoid the consequences of his disastrous misjudgments.
Cruz Shames U.N. Over Anti-Israel Bias
Sen. Ted Cruz (R., Texas) has written to the secretary-general of the United Nations to express his “outrage” over recent moves to add Israel to a so-called “List of Shame” for child human rights violators that also includes terror groups such as Boko Haram and the Islamic State.
Cruz’s letter comes on the heels of reports that Human Rights Watch (HRW) is petitioning Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to include Israel on an annual list of human rights violators that have targeted children.
HRW argues that Israel should be added to the list due to the deaths of some 500 children during last summer’s war against Hamas in the Gaza Strip. Hamas has been singled out following the war for using human shields, including children, and positioning their military outposts near schools and other civilian outposts.
Cruz appealed directly to Ban, urging him to avoid shaming the U.N. with further accusations of anti-Israel bias. The lawmaker also warns that if the U.N. decides to include Israel on the shame list, Congress will be forced to “reassess the United States’ relationship with the United Nations and consider serious consequences.”
Such a “designation would falsely and shamefully equate Israel with some of the most barbaric terrorist organizations around the world,” Cruz wrote, according to a copy of the letter. “The decision to add Israel is solely your decision to make and, therefore, is entirely in your power to prevent from taking place.”
UNRWA's Chris Gunness lies at UN meeting, June 2, 2015

IDF deploys Iron Dome batteries to south in fear of more rocket fire
The IDF deployed at least two Iron Dome anti-missile batteries in southern Israel on Friday, two days after three rockets were launched at Israel from the Gaza Strip.
One missile defense unit was stationed near the Mediterranean port city of Ashdod and another placed near the southern city of Netivot. Israel’s Channel 10 also referred to a third battery stationed near Ashkelon.
The move came a day after Israeli Air Force planes struck Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip following rocket fire at Israel claimed by a Salafist group sympathetic to the Islamic State. The rockets caused neither damage nor injury.
Israeli military sources said they were concerned that the IS-linked group was again threatening to target Israel because of its internal Gaza dispute with Hamas, which has arrested several of its members.
“Hamas is trying to prevent rocket fire at Israel,” Channel 10 quoted a military source as saying, and the IDF’s assessment is that Hamas does not want a descent into war and that there is a “reasonable chance that the summer will pass quietly, it added.
Nasrallah threatens to displace ‘millions’ of Israelis in future war
Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah on Friday threatened to leave millions of Israelis without homes in a future war between the Lebanese Shiite militia and the Jewish state.
Addressing supporters in south Beirut, Nasrallah said that the “time in which Israelis destroyed our homes and maintained their homes has ended in 2006,” referring to the Second Lebanon War in which the IDF battled with Hezbollah forces in southern Lebanon for a month.
“I clearly say to Israel: the Resistance (Hezbollah) threatens to displace millions of Israelis in the next war if imposed on Lebanon,” Nasrallah said.
He appeared to be responding to comments from an unnamed senior IDF official to military reporters on Thursday to the effect that Israel, if it had no choice in a future war with Hezbollah, would force 1 million to 1.5 million Lebanese residents to evacuate their homes in order to target the Hezbollah missile launchers and other weaponry emplaced in the villages of southern Lebanon. “If you push 1.5 Lebanese from their homes, the islamic resistance in Lebanon will force millions of Israelis from their homes,” Nasrallah said.
“We are not afraid of your war or of your threats,” he said. “If you assume that we are busy in Syria, then you are wrong — because this changes nothing in how we deal with our enemy.”
Israel is Secretly Protecting Druze Community in Syria, Hints Leading Lawmaker
Israel has been engaged in secret efforts to protect the Druze community in war-torn Syria, Israeli Deputy Minister for Regional Cooperation Ayoob Kara said on Friday.
“The State of Israel is acting on behalf of the Syrian Druze. These matters are being carried out quietly, and without publicity,” said Kara, according to Israeli NRG news.
Kara, a lawmaker for the ruling Likud party who is also responsible for the government’s relations with the local Druze community, was addressing recent Arabic reports that Israel rejected calls by the leaders of Israel’s Druze community to provide military assistance to their coreligionists in southern Syria.
The residents of Jabal Al-Druze, in southern Syria, are in the most imminent danger because of advances made by Islamic State militants towards their region. They have accused the Syrian regime of deserting and moving troops and weapons out the area.
“We do not plan to sit idly by while our brothers are being slaughtered in Syria,” Kara told NRG. “We are doing everything, and we will do what we need to do in order to save them,” he said.
Egypt overturns naming Hamas a terror organization
An Egyptian court overturned a decision naming Hamas a terrorist organization Saturday, a ruling coming after months of increasing hostility to the blockaded rulers of the Gaza Strip.
The Urgent Matters Appeals Court cited a lack of jurisdiction as the reason for annulling the earlier court’s ruling.
Sami Abu Zuhri, Hamas spokesman in Gaza, welcomed the court’s ruling, saying it would have “positive consequences on the relationship between Hamas and Egypt.”
Egypt initially declared the group a terrorist organization in February. That ruling further isolated Hamas, which once found open support under Egypt’s toppled Islamist President Mohammed Morsi. Egypt’s new government recently has begun clearing a buffer zone along its border with Gaza Strip in an attempt to destroy a cross-border network of tunnels that Hamas considers a lifeline.
Stephane Richard: Orange in Israel to stay
France-based Orange CEO Stephane Richard on Saturday expressed sorrow over the political maelstrom caused by comments he made in Cairo about withdrawing from Israel whenever he could "contractually."
"Let me make this very clear," said the chairman of the French telecom operator in an email to AFP, "the Orange Group is in Israel to stay."
On Wednesday, Richard said he would gladly sever ties with Israel "tomorrow" if it wasn’t so financially prohibitive.
Denying any plans to scale back international operations, Richard told AFP he "sincerely regrets" the "controversy" that erupted in wake of his remarks, which he said were misconstrued by the media. He assured the public that his cellphone company "does not support any form of boycott in Israel or elsewhere in the world."
"Our decision on the use of the brand is motivated – as it is all over the world – solely by our brand strategy," Richard added.
After discussions with Israel's Partner Communications, an amendment was put in place in April to introduce a deadline for the license, which is now valid until 31 March 2025.
Millions Wanting Some Peace and Quiet are Flocking to Israeli Settlements (satire)
News that the cellular giant Orange is ‘cutting ties with Israeli firm’, has led to an influx of Israelis into settlements in an attempt to “just get away from it all.”
Jacob Dudu commented, “I just want the opportunity to have a day outside of city-life without having to listen to some dick’s inane conversation with his new girlfriend. Why don’t both of you put the f#cking phone down first and just shut the f#ck up? So if this new excuse for a storm in a teacup means cell phone service is gonna suck on the border, then sign me up for a 2 bed 2 bath.”
Shaked Levi agreed, “Candy Crush is becoming a real problem for me, and I think going cold turkey may be the only solution. I grant you that the seething resentment and tension in the settlements is an issue, but then again, you don’t know what it’s like when I have to wait for my energy bar to recharge. I think this could be a good compromise.”
Settlement resident Moses ben Israel was less keen, “As everyone knows I’m a pretty much ‘live and let live’ kind of guy, but I will straight up pop a cap in the ass of the next clown from Tel Aviv who I find half way up a lamppost ‘looking for a signal.’”
BDS Brazil: University demands list of Israelis on campus
In a recent chilling development, very much focused on Israeli individuals, the Deputy Dean of a Brazilian University has issued a memorandum demanding a list of all Israelis working or studying on campus.
The memorandum explains the request came from several groups, including the Santa Maria Committee of Solidarity with Palestinian People. According to the university, the request is based on Brazil’s 2012 law on freedom of information, which orders public institutions to provide information to interested citizens.
Reproduction of the memorandum that surfaced on social media and carried the text “Freedom for Palestine, Boycott Israel” were forgeries of the original, which did not contain that text, the university said in a statement to local media. The university said it would file its own complaint for forgery.

It seems bizarre that the University is so keen to distance itself from the words ‘Freedom for Palestine, Boycott Israel’, when the memorandum itself goes further than this in profiling and singling out individual students and lecturers according to their nationality.
Brazil’s Jewish community has reacted angrily to the university’s actions.
Schlosser’s memorandum “was a clearly discriminatory measure, done by a high-ranking official in the federal education system, and it should be dealt with the severity it merits,” CONIB President Fernando Lottenberg wrote in a statement posted Thursday on CONIB’s website.
Facing the truth about BDS
It is no secret that a “private” meeting is to be held this week in Las Vegas, supported by philanthropist Sheldon Adelson, aimed at joining forces to face the threat of BDS against the State of Israel. Some has already been written about it in the media, and much more is bound to be written. One specific argument, which caught my eye, was the claim that the summit is “doomed to fail” since “it offers no alternative to occupation”, as if this is the only thing standing between Israel and a BDS-free world.
This gives us a great opportunity to take a minute and remind ourselves (or enlighten ourselves, in case we are in the dark) about what BDS is really all about, in THEIR own words. In an article written by As’ad AbuKhalil, a leading BDS activist, he clearly states as follows:
“The real aim of BDS is to bring down the state of Israel … that should be stated as an unambiguous goal. There should not be any equivocation on the subject. Justice and freedom for the Palestinians are incompatible with the existence of the state of Israel”.
And there you have it: it is not the “occupation” which troubles him; at least not the one so-called “progressive” thinkers have in mind. It’s the very existence of the Jewish state. These words were written after even someone like Norman Finkelstein (another “lover” of Israel) accused the BDS movement of dishonesty about its real goal, which he said was the destruction of Israel.
Syrian army defunct, rebels 100 yards from Israel border, senior officer says
The Syrian army is a threat that has ceased to exist for the coming decade and the regime is in “the most grave predicament” since the outbreak of war in March 2011, a senior Israeli army officer said Wednesday in a briefing.
Hezbollah, the Assad regime’s ally, has lost 700 men since the start of the fighting and 100 over the past two weeks alone, he said. The officer characterized Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah, who has delivered four saber-rattling speeches over the past eight days, as suffering from “no small amount of embarrassment” in Lebanon, and said that Israel has seen the transfer of Hezbollah troops from the south – the border with Israel – to Syria.
“That points to their distress,” he stated.
The Shiite organization, the strongest military force in Lebanon, began physically backing the flailing Bashar Assad regime in 2012. Today it has fighters in Iraq, advisers in Yemen, and 6,000-8,000 combatants in Syria. “The last thing they want is to open a front with us,” the officer said.
U.S. Accuses Syria, Client of Iran, of Launching Air Strikes to Aid ISIS
The United States accused the Iran-backed regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad of assisting the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) by conducting air strikes against anti-Assad rebels battling ISIS, Reuters reported today.
Islamic State fighters pushed back rival insurgents north of Aleppo on Sunday near the Turkish border, threatening their supply route to the city, fighters and a group monitoring the war said. …
“Reports indicate that the regime is making air strikes in support of ISIL’s advance on Aleppo, aiding extremists against Syrian population,” a post on the U.S. Embassy Syria Twitter account said late on Monday, using an acronym for Islamic State.

Charges of cooperation between Syria and ISIS are not new. Reports last year in British and Lebanese media charged that Assad had longstanding ties to ISIS and its predecessor, Al Qaeda in Iraq. There is also evidence that Iran supports ISIS.
Russia Wants Answers on Syria Chlorine Gas Attacks
Russia backs moves to determine who is responsible for a wave of chlorine gas attacks in Syria that the West blames on the Damascus regime, Moscow's ambassador to the United Nations said Wednesday.
But it remains unclear if a UN Security Council resolution, as proposed by the United States, is the best way to provide answers, Vitaly Churkin told reporters.
"We support the need to find those people who are behind it," Churkin said, according to AFP.
The United States is proposing a draft Security Council resolution to set up an investigation by experts who would assign responsibility for the chlorine attacks.
Asked whether a resolution would be the best way to determine who is responsible, Churkin said "could be, we need to discuss it."
Russia, Syria's ally, and China have repeatedly vetoed resolutions targeting the Damascus regime at the Security Council.
Iranian Commander Killed Fighting in Syria
Yet another Iranian Revolutionary Guards commander has been killed fighting in Syria Thursday, as Tehran ups its direct military intervention to prop up the increasingly desperate regime of Bashar al-Assad.
Syrian rebel sources first reported Iranian Akil Bakhtiyari had been killed in fighting in the Qalamoun region bordering Lebanon, where a pro-regime operation led by Hezbollah is seeking to root-out strategically-important rebel strongholds.
Bakhtiyari's death was confirmed by numerous Iranian media sources, including the state-controlled Press TV.
He is the second officer in the elite Revolutionary Guards to have been confirmed dead this week, after commander Jassem Nouri was reportedly killed fighting in neighboring Iraq.
Saudi Arabia shoots down Scud missile fired by Yemeni rebels
Saudi Arabia shot down a Scud missile fired into the kingdom by Yemen's dominant Houthi group and its army allies on Saturday, according to the Saudi state news agency, in the first use of the missile in over two months of war.
The missile was launched early Saturday morning in the direction of Khamees al-Mushait, and was intercepted by a Patriot missile, a statement by the leadership of the Saudi-led joint Arab military coalition said.
The area is home to largest air force base in southern Saudi Arabia, the world's top oil exporter, but there are no oil facilities in the area.
An alliance of Gulf Arab nations has been bombing Yemen's dominant Houthi militia and allied army units loyal to powerful ex-President Saleh since March 26 in an attempt to restore exiled President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi to power.
The coalition has said a main goal of their war effort is to neutralize the threat that rockets in Yemen pose to Saudi Arabia and its neighbors.
Ahead of polls, Erdogan slams foreign, ‘Jewish’-backed media
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday stepped up his attacks on foreign media a day ahead of legislative elections, telling the Guardian to “know your limits” and lamenting that “Jewish capital” was behind the New York Times.
Erdogan has during the campaign leading up to Sunday’s polls repeatedly criticized foreign media, amid growing concerns over an erosion of freedom of expression in Turkey under his rule.
In one of its final pre-election rallies in the eastern province of Ardahan, Erdogan took offense at an article in the Guardian critical of his rule, including an editorial titled “Growing autocracy threatens a crucial country”.
“Do you know what a British newspaper says about this election?” Erdogan told the crowd. “It says the not fully-westernized, poor Muslims are not being allowed to manage their own country!”
“Who are you? You are impertinent!” he told the paper. “Know your limits. Since when were you given such authority?”
Four dead, over 150 injured in blasts at pro-Kurdish party rally in Turkey
At least four people were killed and over 150 wounded in explosions Friday at a rally by the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) in southeastern Turkey, adding to tensions two days ahead of tight legislative polls.
The two successive blasts rocked the rally in the city of Diyarbakir of the HDP, which has been the target of repeated attacks in a tightly-fought campaign.
Ambulances arrived at the scene to take the injured away, with chaos on the square where the rally was due to be held, an AFP correspondent said. The explosions were reported at five minutes apart, with the first occurring out of a trash bin and the second in front of a power generator, according to a report in the Turkish daily Today’s Zaman.
Initial reports said that the explosions were blamed on an electrical transformer at the rally.
Golden Toilets, Mystery Bombs And Evil Gays: Inside Sunday's Turkish Election
A mysterious explosion Friday at a rally for the leading opposition party was just the latest surprise in a heated final week of electoral campaigning in Turkey.
The blast took place at a rally for the People’s Democratic Party (abbreviated DHP), an upstart political entity which hopes to steal parliamentary seats from the ruling AKP party. The rally was in the southeastern city of Diyarbakır, an ethnically Kurdish base for the Kurdish-led DHP.
The explosion in the crowd, which came right before DHP leader Selahattin Demirtaş took the stage, was reportedly caused by a faulty power generator. But local press pointed out that it comes after several weeks of scattered, anonymous attacks on DHP campaign vehicles and offices.
The Islamist-leaning AKP has held a majority of Turkey’s parliament since 2002. When Turks vote Sunday, the AKP hopes to expand its current simple majority of 311 seats to at least 330, a three-fifths grip which would allow it to trigger a public referendum on the constitution. One of the party’s goals is to reform the presidency — currently held by the AKP’s former Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan — granting the largely ceremonial role more executive powers akin to those of the U.S. president.
Young Turkish Jews trickling away from shrinking community
Five centuries after Sultan Bayezid II welcomed Sephardic Jewish refugees to Istanbul, Turkey’s Jewish community is slowly dwindling. Faced with rising anti-Semitism, growing authoritarianism and dire economic circumstances, young Turkish Jews have increasingly set their sights on Israel, Europe and North America.
Despite a rich history under the Ottomans — rising to prominence as ministers, traders and buccaneers — and active involvement in public life in the early Turkish Republic, Turkish Jews no longer contribute significantly to the country’s political or cultural life. In 1948 Turkey was home to about 80,000 Jews; three years later nearly 40% had left. Talking with members of the community today, one is likely to hear the future for Jews in Turkey described as “bleak”.
The departure of Jewish youth is by no means an exodus. The numbers are small, but so is the community from which they’re leaving. Officially, 17,300 Jews live in Turkey today, the vast majority in Istanbul, making it the largest Jewish community in the Muslim world. A decade earlier, it was closer to 20,000.
This much is clear: class sizes in Jewish kindergartens are shrinking, the birth rate is dropping and the community is aging.
Hard statistics concerning the emigration of young Jews, however, are difficult to come by. The official figure, for example, doesn’t account for the rising number of high school graduates who have left for opportunities abroad.
Suspects who stormed Westport synagogue appear before Judge
Anti- Israel activists Daniel Fischer and Gregory Williams, arrested for disrupting last week’s luncheon at Westport Connecticut’s Temple Israel, appeared before Judge William Wenzel in Norwalk Superior Court to face charges of criminal trespass first-degree and breach of peace second-degree. Both suspects were represented by Bridgeport attorney Eugene Riccio.
The incident led to the lockdown of local schools, and caused several terrified people to flee the premises.
Daniel Fischer, 25, of 93 Osborn Ave., New Haven asked for accelerated rehabilitation which if completed, would expunge his record. Gregory Williams pleaded not guilty, opting to go to a jury trial.
Wenzel set their court date for July 21.
There is now a petition circulated by various hate groups calling these 2 thugs "Jewish anti apartheid activists" and claiming their voices were silenced.
Resolution Condemning Rising Antisemitism in Europe Passes Senate by Unanimous Vote
A resolution condemning antisemitism in Europe passed the U.S. Senate by unanimous vote on Thursday.
The resolution, authored by Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and co-sponsored by 60 other senators encouraged “greater cooperation with the European governments, in the European Union, and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe in preventing and responding to antisemitism.”
“In light of the rise of antisemitism in Europe, this resolution calls on European governments to not only stand against antisemitism, but to work to end it,” said Sen. Menendez, applauding the unanimous passage of the bill.
Major Jewish human rights group the Anti-Defamation League meanwhile hailed the resolution and the condemnation of European antisemitism.
“The resolution condemning antisemitism represents the voice of the American people as expressed through the unanimous vote in the United States Senate in support of Jewish communities in Europe who are reeling from a tragic surge of antisemitism and antisemitic violence,” said ADL National Director Abraham H. Foxman.
Pope backs sainthood candidacy of allegedly anti-Semitic priest
Pope Francis raised eyebrows on Friday by supporting the candidacy for sainthood of a French priest whose dossier was put on hold in 2005 because of his alleged anti-Semitic views.
Leon Dehon (1843-1925), founder of the Priests of the Sacred Heart order, had been declared venerable in 1997 by pope John Paul II but his beatification — the next step on the path to sainthood — ran into difficulties.
It had been initially scheduled for April 2005 but was delayed by John Paul II’s death. Attempts to revive his case stalled under Francis’s predecessor Benedict XVI, who set up a commission to investigate the allegations of anti-Semitism.
But Francis told a Priests of the Sacred Heart delegation on Friday that he wanted the beatification process to “end well” and insisted Dehon’s attitude be placed in a historical context, according to religious news agency I.Media.
Report: Ex-French President Sarkozy to Visit Israel Next Week
Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy is scheduled to visit Israel early next week, Paris Match reported on Friday.
The leader of the newly formed center-right Republicans party will depart for Israel Sunday night for meetings on Monday, according to the report.
The former French president will meet with high-ranking Israeli officials, including Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
In addition, Sarkozy will meet with Israeli President Reuven Rivlin and his predecessor, Shimon Peres, who was president during Sarkozy’s term, which ended in May 2012.
Sarkozy is also set to visit a startup incubator and address the Herzliya Conference, according to the report.
Sources in Israel said it was still unclear if Sarkozy would meet with Palestinian officials in Ramallah as well.
10 must-see fountains in Israel
The Bellagio in Las Vegas, Italy’s Trevi, Singapore’s Fountain of Wealth and Austria’s Swarovski Crystal Head Fountain are among the best known water-spouting attractions around the world.
Most major cities maintain at least one artistic fountain to show off the country’s architecture and originality. Tourists flock to see the unique designs, enjoy a sound-light-water show or take a selfie against the special backdrop.
There are dozens of fountains across Israel — some small, some flashy, some historical, some enormous, but all making a splash on outdoor creativity. ISRAEL21 recommends these 10 must-see fountains.

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Elder of Ziyon - حـكـيـم صـهـيـون

This blog may be a labor of love for me, but it takes a lot of effort, time and money. For over 14 years and 30,000 articles I have been providing accurate, original news that would have remained unnoticed. I've written hundreds of scoops and sometimes my reporting ends up making a real difference. I appreciate any donations you can give to keep this blog going.


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