Tuesday, March 25, 2014: News on the fly!

What Others Are Saying

U.S. voices support for Supreme Leader’s decree about nuclear weapons

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry announced on Voice of America that he has high regard for the Fatwa (religious decree) regarding nuclear issues put forth by Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei.  In an interview on VOA, Kerry said: “I show a lot of respect for this fatwa as it is a religious message and is highly respected by people.” He stressed that he and the U.S. president welcome such a fatwa but he added that the fatwa now needs to be framed in legal terms.

BBC reports on Hamas rally in Arabic – but not in English

Whilst visitors to the BBC Arabic website on March 23rd were informed that a Hamas rally attended by tens of thousands had taken place in Gaza City earlier in the day, those visiting the main English language BBC News website found no report on that topic and hence would have no idea of the rhetoric against Israel, Egypt and the Palestinian Authority which was part and parcel of the event.

 Fatah official: “We have not cast down the rifle”

At a ceremony in support of PA Chairman Abbas in Jericho Fatah Central Committee member Tawfiq Tirawi reiterated Fatah’s adherence to the use of weapons as “one of the methods of struggle.” Shouting that “the rifle is here, and it can burst forth at any moment,” Tirawi stated that the rifle “will burst forth from this [current] leadership… and if we are no longer alive… [from] our sons, our young lions.”

Turkey, Israel likely to sign compensation deal after local elections: Deputy PM

A compensation deal between Turkey and Israel over the Mavi Marmara raid is likely to be signed after local elections, Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç has said.  The final reconciliation text on the monetary figure was delivered by Israel last month, Arınç said, adding that the Turkish government would re-evaluate and turn it into an official agreement to be approved by the two countries after the March 30 elections.  When the agreement is signed, relations between Israel and Turkey could be normalized at a diplomatic level with the two countries assigning ambassadors, he added.  Arınç said the agreement needed to be approved by the Turkish Parliament after it is signed while adding that the process to normalize relations could begin immediately after the two countries agree to a deal.

Syrians and Russians top asylum demands to EU

Syrians fleeing war and Russians topped the list of those asking for asylum in the EU last year.  Around 90 percent of the asylum demands last year were made for the first time. Figures released on Monday (24 March) from the EU statistical office, Eurostat, reveal Syrians top the list of asylum demands with 50,000 applications, followed by 41,000 Russians and 26,000 Afghans.  The EU received a total of 435,000 asylum applications last year, 100,000 more compared to 2012. Most applications were issued for the first time. Eurostat compared the numbers to those in 2008, noting that Syrian and Russian applications have increased significantly in the intervening years.  Around 5,000 Syrians asked for asylum in 2008, ten times fewer than in 2013. Russian applications have almost doubled since 2008.

Carter Blames Jews for Obama’s Snubs

Former President Jimmy Carter is back in the news this week publicizing a new book about women’s rights. But, as is often the case with Carter, he drew more interest for comments he made about Israel and its supporters. When asked on NBC’s Meet the Press yesterday by Andrea Mitchell why it was that Barack Obama never called upon him for advice, he made it clear that the Jewish state was the reason he has been treated like a pariah:  I—that’s a hard question– for me to answer—you know, with complete candor. I think the problem was that– that in dealing with the issue of peace in– between Israel and Egypt– the Carter Center has taken a very strong and public position of equal treatment between the Palestinians and the Israelis. And I think this was a sensitive area in which the president didn’t want to be involved.

Russian TV Presenter Evelyn Zakamskaya: ‘Jews Brought Holocaust on Themselves’

Russian state TV presenter Evelyn Zakamskaya told a live television show that Jews brought the Holocaust upon themselves.  The stunning claim was captured during an interview about the Ukraine crisis and the annexation of Crimea.  The host of the interview said to Zakamskaya that it was “strange” that Jewish organisations support the Ukrainian Maidan protest movement. “They do not realise that they are, with their own hands, closer to the Holocaust?” said the host, insinuating that the Maidan protesters were right-wing extremists.  Zakamskaya responded, in Russia, that “they [Jews] also advanced the first [Holocaust].” Miriam Elder of BuzzFeed has confirmed the translation from Russian to English as “accurate, if incomplete”.

Bomb maker skipped return to Pakistan for mission to kidnap Jews

Indian Mujahideen’s chief bomb maker, Pakistani national Waqas alias Javed, would have escaped the clutches of law had the outfit not roped him in its ambitious plan of kidnapping Jews to free Pakistani neuroscientist Afia Siddiqui languishing in a US jail.  Sometime around March 2013, IM had planned to evacuate Waqas and the outfit’s current India operations chief Tehsin Akhtar alias Monu to Pakistan via Nepal. The outfit had even managed to get their fake passports made from Kerala. However, the evacuation plan was shelved after the kidnap-Jews-to-free-Siddiqui plan was discussed.  According to the charge-sheet filed by National Investigation Agency (NIA), a chat between Pakistan-based IM founder Riyaz Bhatkal and the outfit’s then India operations chief Yasin Bhatkal on March 9, 2013 had discussed the evacuation plan. 

Alarmed by antisemitism, French Jews consider flight

More French Jews immigrated to Israel last year than US Jews, and Israel expects ever more of the French to make the move in coming years. One of their prime motivations to settle in the Jewish state: antisemitism. “I am French, born in Paris, says Salome Roussel. “I’m thinking about moving to Israel, because French people are more and more against Jews. They say we are a lobby, that we are the masters of the world, and it’s not so!”  Roussel, 38, is not alone. Growing numbers of French Jews are not just thinking about starting a new life in Israel: Record numbers of them are taking action. Last year 3,120 French Jews moved to Israel, according to the Israeli Immigration Ministry, a jump of 63 percent on the previous year. They even outnumbered US immigrants to Israel.  Antisemitism and poor economic prospects were the most cited reasons for leaving.  Around half a million Jews live in France, so those 3,120 only make a tiny dent in the population. But they are indicative of a “bad climate for Jews in France” propagated by extremists, Roger Cukierman, president of the Representative Council of French Jewish Institutions (CRIF), told France Info.

Secular lawyers [in the UK] threaten action over Law Society Sharia wills guide

 Lawyers threatened the Law Society with possible legal action today in the wake of Chancery Lane’s recent guidance on drafting Sharia law-compliant wills. The leader of the Lawyers’ Secular Society (LSS) pilloried the solicitors’ representation body for being “incredibly naive” and caving into religious lobbying groups, following a practice note sent to solicitors on 13 March. LSS secretary Charlie Klendjian criticised the Law Society for issuing guidance that “displays an assumption that Muslims are a monolithic bloc. The society may have been motivated by good intentions, but the only way of having a truly multi-cultural and diverse society that is fair is to have one law for everyone in the jurisdiction, and not to do anything that undermines the primacy of English law”.

Egypt prevents Gaza pilgrims from crossing Rafah

Egyptian authorities prevented hundreds of pilgrims from returning home to Gaza on Monday after closing the Rafah crossing, witnesses said.  The passengers, who were returning from the Umrah pilgrimage to Mecca, arrived at Rafah on Monday afternoon but were forced to go back to the city of el-Arish by Egypt’s army.  The pilgrims spent the night at the bus station in the city before trying to cross on Tuesday. Many Palestinian pilgrims say Egyptian security procedures slow down their return to the Gaza Strip. . .  There have been frequent closures of the Rafah terminal in recent months due to political unrest in Egypt and violence in the Sinai peninsula, placing an added burden on Gaza Strip residents.  After the July coup that deposed president Mohamed Morsi, Egypt’s army has repeatedly closed the Rafah border crossing and destroyed hundreds of tunnels that Gazans used for years to import fuel, building materials and other goods.

H&M pulls ‘antisemitic’ T-shirt  with Star of David and skull sold in the UK and Sweden

“The order has been stopped and the others have been pulled,” said a H&M spokeswoman. “This was because of the feedback we received.” Fashion retail giant H&M has yanked a sleeveless T-shirt for men featuring a Star of David encasing a grinning skull after fielding complaints, Jewish Chronicle UK reports.  H&M added that it was not only taking the offending garments off its shelves: it’s cancelled orders for more of the tank-tops. On shopper wrote that the T-shirt juxtaposed ” a Jewish symbol with satanic imagery,” which stank of “classic” antisemitism.”

Far-left set for big gains in European Parliament elections

Europe’s far-left is set to almost double its deputies in the upcoming European Parliament elections in May. Poll predictions indicate that the European United Left/Nordic Green Left (GUE/NGL) group is set to become the parliament’s third or fourth largest group, with the number of deputies rising from the current 35 to around 60. At third place, it would replace the liberals (ALDE), behind the centre-left S&D and centre-right EPP.  Among the far-left hopefuls are candidates from Italy, Greece and France. Italy currently has no far-left deputies at the assembly but is set to make large inroads. In Greece, the far-left is leading in the polls while in France, leftist politicians are set to capitalise on the governing socialists unpopularity.

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