What Others Are Saying This Week About the Middle East

What Others Are Saying

Boston doctors credit Israel ER expertise in Boston Marathon relief effort

A top emergency medicine doctor at a Boston hospital credited Israeli expertise with his team’s ability to respond to the devastating bombing attack at the Boston Marathon. Dr. Alasdair Conn, the chief of emergency services at Massachusetts General Hospital, told reporters that the bomb scene and mass injuries sustained by the victims was “like a bomb explosion that we hear about in the news in Baghdad or Israel.” Dr. Conn credited Israeli expertise with teaching the Boston doctors how to deal with mass-casualty incidents. “About two years ago in actual fact we asked the Israelis to come across and they helped us set up our disaster team so that we could respond in this kind of manner,” he told reporters. - Israel 21c

Muslim Socialist leader wants Swedish Defense Forces to “bomb Israel and exterminate Jews”

Omar Mustafa

Omar Mustafa, the head of Sweden’s Islamic Association and a member of the Social Democratic Party’s governing board, resigned on Saturday from his post in the center-left party because of allegations of anti-gay bias, sexism and antisemitism. The 28-year old Mustafa tweeted in 2011 that Sweden should send fighter planes to Israel instead of to attack the late Muammar Gaddafi’s regime in Libya as part of the 2011 NATO campaign to protect the civilian population. The Swedish social democrats elected Mustafa last week to their governing board in Stockholm. After Mustafa’s election to the board, however, a mushrooming series of disclosures about his cordial words for Egyptian anti-Semites, his Islamic organization’s refusal to recognize equality between men and women, and invitations to Islamists who propagate hardcore anti-gay ideologies, sparked fury in the Swedish media and with the former head of the social democrats. – CFCA, Israel.

Israel has reportedly offered Egyptian Coptic families political asylum

Problems of sectarian strife in Egypt reached a climax on Sunday, when the Coptic Cathedral in the Cairo district of Abbasiya was attacked by a group of assailants, writes Michael Adel. The attack targeted the funerals of five Coptic men killed during clashes in the village of Khosous in the Qalioubiya governorate just two days earlier during which a local church, nursery and several houses were also damaged…  This week’s events also took place shortly after it was reported that Israel had offered what it called political asylum to Egyptian Copts. According to the Israeli press, 237 Coptic families have already moved to Israel. A senior Coptic Church official told Al-Ahram Weekly that the reports were groundless. “Even if Israel opens its doors to us, we will not go. We are opposed to emigration to Israel on principle,” he said. Israel’s current laws allow Arabs to live in Israel only if they are married to Israelis, though citizenship is granted automatically to Jewish immigrants. Speaking at a conference organised in the Coptic Cathedral, Emad Gad, deputy director of the Al-Ahram Centre for Political and Strategic Studies, said that rumours of Coptic immigration to Israel were being spread by the Muslim Brotherhood, which was keen to equate Christians with Jews in public eyes. Kamal Zakher, founder of the Front of Secular Copts, said that the rumours aimed to split the nation and pave the way for expelling Copts from their country. - Al-Ahram Weekly, Egypt.

Lebanon told to stop Hezbollah attacks in Syria

Syria’s main opposition National Coalition called on Lebanon to control its frontiers, after rebels said they fired across the border in retaliation against Hezbollah. “The Syrian Coalition calls on the Lebanese government to exert control over its borders and put an immediate stop to Hezbollah’s military operations on Syrian territory,” the group said late on Monday. “We call upon the Lebanese government to take action against Hezbollah’s aggression and do everything within their means to ensure the safety of the innocent civilians on the Syrian-Lebanese border,” it said in a statement. “For weeks now, forces belonging to Hezbollah have targeted villages inside Syria, located on the border of Syria and Lebanon. Hezbollah deployed forces into some border villages and took control of those areas. The (rebel) Free Syrian Army was forced to respond to these repeated aggressions,” it said. – Khaleej Times, UAE.

Head of Egypt’s Jewish community refuses Israeli financial help

Egypt’s small Jewish community will refuse Israeli offers of financial help for the renovation of Egypt’s ancient Jewish synagogues, Al-Ahram’s Arabic-language news website reported on Tuesday. Magda Haroun, the new leader of Egypt’s Jewish community, told Al-Ahram that she plans to contact UN heritage organisation UNESCO if she failed to find adequate funds for synagogue renovation. Haroun stressed that Egypt’s Jewish monuments belonged to Egypt’s historical heritage, which extends over a very long period. “Jewish temples are like the pyramids and the Sphinx,” she said. “They are a part of Egypt’s history that cannot be ignored.” “The sons of this community are Egyptians. We will live forever in Egypt because religion is for God and the nation is for everybody,” Haroun said. She expects to be the shrinking Jewish community’s last leader, and, as such, has vowed to protect Egypt’s Jewish heritage as much as possible. Haroun also announced that the funeral for Carmen Weinstein, the Jewish community’s former leader, would be held on Thursday at 2pm. Weinstein died on Saturday of natural causes at the age of 84. According to estimates, less than 100 Egyptian Jews still live in the country. – Aswat Masriya, UK.

Al Qaeda targeted Istanbul synagogue

Istanbul SynagogueTurkish police have said that an al-Qaeda cell in the country intended to target a synagogue in Istanbul and the U.S. Embassy in Ankara as well as some well-known Turkish personalities. Police have discovered two cell houses, in Tekirdağ’s Çorlu district and in Istanbul’s Büyükçekmece district. The al-Qaeda members had apparently received a serious amount of explosives and were ready to attack their targets. Five rifles and five guns were seized and eight suspected al-Qaeda members arrested in a house in Çorlu. Four other al-Qaeda members were arrested in a house in Büyükçekmece. - EJC, Belgium.

Support for rocket attacks falls, Fatah popularity up

Palestinian support for rocket fire by Gaza resistance fighters on southern Israel has fallen sharply over the past four months, according to a survey published on Wednesday. “Support for firing locally-made rockets from the Gaza Strip towards Israeli regions has dropped,” a poll by the Jerusalem Media and Communications Centre said, indicating it had fallen to 38.4 per cent, from 74 per cent in December, just weeks after the end of a major confrontation with Israel. The eight-day operation, which ended with an Egyptian-brokered truce on Nov. 21, saw the Israeli air force pounding the Hamas-run territory as resistance fighters there fired more than 1,000 rockets over the border. Of 1,179 people interviewed in Gaza and the West Bank, which is controlled by Fatah, Hamas’s political rival, 60.2 per cent said ‘military action’ harmed Palestinian national interests. Meanwhile, if elections were held today, 42.6 per cent said they would vote for Fatah compared with 20.6 for Hamas, in what was increase of several percentage points for Fatah at Hamas’s expense, since the November operation. The survey was conducted from March 27 to 31 and with an error margin of three per cent. – The Gulf Today,  UAE.

Turkey becomes first country with ambassador to Palestine

Turkey has become the first country with an ambassador to Palestine after its envoy in Ramallah, Şakir Özkan Torunlar, presented his letter of credence to President Mahmoud Abbas on Sunday. Reflecting the upgraded status of Palestine from an entity to a non-member state by a UN vote in November, Torunlar has officially been titled as the first ambassador to Palestine. Before the UN vote, Torunlar served as Turkey’s consul general in Jerusalem. Having presented his credentials to Abbas, Torunlar became the first foreign ambassador formally recognized by Palestine. Torunlar took office as Turkey’s consul general in Palestine in 2010. Palestine’s status at the UN was upgraded with a 138-9 vote at the 193-member UN General Assembly in late November. Turkey called the decision a historic vote, being one of the staunchest supporters of Palestinian efforts for statehood within the international community. – Today’s Zalman, Turkey.

Terrorists in Syria Smuggling Human Organs

The terrorists who kill the innocent people in Syria receive a large amount of money for any corpse and injured person whose body organs are trafficked out of the Arab country, witnesses in Aleppo said on Tuesday. “Stealing body parts of the victims of conflicts and blasts is a job for terrorist groups in the city and they receive 10,000 Syrian lira for every corpse and 100,000 lira for the wounded people,” witnesses said in an interview with Arabi Press. After the escalation of the conflicts in Aleppo’s Sheikh Maqsoud district, reports said that the terrorists and armed groups stationed in the region rapidly collect the injured people and take them to clinical centers, but later it was revealed that they sell their body organs to traffickers. Majd Hadouth, one of the residents of Sheikh Maqsoud district, confirmed the reports, and said the terrorists took the son of one of his neighbors after being injured in a conflict under the pretext of transferring him to a clinical center, but after two days his family found his corpse while the internal organs of his body were mutilated. -Fars News Agency, Iran.

US Consulate Attack Suspect Survives Assassination Attempt

Al-Qaeda linked militia commander, Abu Sufyan Bin Qumu, narrowly survived an assassination attempt earlier this week by unknown gunmen. Bin Qumu is the leader of the Ansar Al-Shari’a group, suspected of involvement in the 2012 US consulate attack in Benghazi that resulted in the deaths of ambassador, Christopher Stevens, and three others. Local sources informed Asharq Al-Awsat that Bin Qumu was shot in the hand by unknown gunmen in the eastern Ras Al-Hilal district of Derna, while one of his bodyguards was also shot twice in the attack. Both men were taken to a nearby hospital for treatment. Libya remains in the grip of security instability as hundreds of armed militias—formed during the revolution to topple the Gaddafi regime—have refused to put down their weapons and disband. This attack comes just five days after another Ansar Al-Shari’a commander, Yahya Abdel Sayed of Benghazi, was assassinated in Sirte. It is not known if the most recent assassination attempt targeting Bin Qumu was linked to this. One source told Asharq Al-Awsat that the assassination attempt was the result of a personal feud between Bin Qumu and the Al-Shawa’ir tribe, which accused the Al-Qaeda-linked commander of killing one of its members. – Asharq Al-Awsat, London.

(Photo credits: CFCA | EJC)

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