The Arab/Iranian English Language Press: What they are saying

News in brief from the media

Apology Worse Than The Crime

The Arab Times, Kuwait reports: The Iranian apology to the United Nations Security Council over the attacks on the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s embassy in Tehran and its consulate in Mashhad is, to say the least, worse than the crime itself. This is because the apology insinuates how the regime of peacocks in Tehran belittles the issues concerning the sovereignty of other countries and its lack of recognition for this sovereignty — a clear testimony to years of aggression against Saudi Arabia and the other GCC countries. Therefore, it is acceptable to fall for this ‘regret’ but the focus should be on the aggression itself. The attacks necessitate stern international position against the regime which does not respect and honor international agreements and pacts. The leaders of Tehran will definitely be hallucinating if they think they can pull the wool over the eyes through a statement which hides in its lines many evil intentions or stop the storm of condemnation and severing relations.

Jordan renews support for Saudi Arabia

The Jordan Times reports: His Majesty King Abdullah on Wednesday reviewed in separate telephone calls with Saudi King Salman Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and Deputy Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman Bin Abdulaziz regional developments, according to a Royal Court statement. In the two telephone calls, talks focused on Saturday’s assaults on Saudi diplomatic missions in Iran, which the statement described as “a blatant violation of international conventions”. His Majesty renewed Jordan’s full support for Saudi Arabia in its efforts to combat terrorism and extremism and to protect its security and stability. His Majesty strongly condemned the attacks on the Saudi embassy in Tehran, the statement said. For their part, the Saudi monarch and deputy crown prince thanked Jordan for its stand and support, the Royal Court added. 

Djibouti cuts ties with Iran after attacks on Saudi missions

The Daily Star, Lebanon reports: Djibouti cut diplomatic relations with Iran on Wednesday, its foreign minister said, in response to the storming of the Saudi embassy in Tehran by Iranian protesters. The tiny Horn of Africa nation, which is home to the United States’ only military base on the African continent, joins Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Sudan in entirely severing relations with Iran. “Djibouti cut its diplomatic ties with Iran out of solidarity with Saudi Arabia,” Foreign Minister Mahamoud Ali Youssouf told Reuters in a text message.

Palestinian Authority adrift after a long unrest

The Oman Observer reports: Three months into a wave of violence some have likened to a new uprising, the Palestinian Authority has found itself adrift and increasingly out of touch with frustrated youths behind the unrest, analysts say. There is even speculation of an eventual collapse of the PA, the governing authority set up under the 1990s Oslo accords that were meant to lead to a final peace deal. “Young people see no political horizon and suffer from economic crisis and unemployment,” with nearly half jobless compared with more than 27 per cent of the overall population, said Ghassan Khatib, vice-president of Birzeit University near Ramallah and a former Palestinian cabinet minister. Young Palestinians see little hope of an independent state more than two decades after the Oslo accords — and many do not feel president Mahmoud Abbas represents their concerns. They have come of age as Israeli settlement building has continued and with their own political leadership deeply fractured. In a recent poll, two-thirds of Palestinians said they believed a new armed intifada would serve “national interests” better than negotiations. Security coordination between the Palestinian Authority and Israel has at the same time been maintained, an arrangement some analysts say is vital for Abbas to keep hardliners who oppose him in check. Palestinian elections have not been held in a decade due to the bitter split between Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip, and Abbas’s Fatah, based in the occupied West Bank. Abbas’s mandate expired in 2009 but he remains in office because there have been no polls. The Palestinian parliament last met in 2007, following a general election the previous year won by Hamas. “The leaders are incapable of satisfying their (young Palestinians’) political and economic demands,” said Khatib.

Abbas denies concern of PA collapse

Gulf Times, Qatar reports: Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas dismissed yesterday weeks of rumours that the Palestinian Authority could collapse, saying he would “never give up” on it.
Abbas, 80, was speaking publicly for the first time since rumours surfaced last week that he was in poor health, which the PA has categorically denied. He did not discuss the matter and appeared well. He also spoke as three months of violent attacks by frustrated Palestinian youths on Israeli targets have made the PA and its leadership appear increasingly out of touch. The PA, the governing authority set up under the 1993 Oslo peace accords with Israel, has faced funding shortages, and its ongoing security co-operation with the Jewish state has been heavily criticised. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is preparing a contingency plan in the event of the PA’s collapse, according Israeli media reports. “I have heard a lot of talk in the past few days about the Authority, the destruction of the Authority, the collapse of the Authority,” Abbas said. “The Authority is an achievement of ours that we will never give up.” “Don’t dream of its collapsing, don’t even dream,” he told a press conference during a lunch during a lunch to mark Christmas, which some Orthodox churches celebrate today.

Egyptian ambassador returns to Israel after 3-year hiatus

Arab News, Saudi Arabia reports: Israel says Egypt has sent a new ambassador after a three-year hiatus. Israel’s Foreign Ministry said Sunday that the ambassador, Hazem Hairat, arrived on Friday. Israel and Egypt signed a historic peace accord in 1979, but relations have often been cool. Egypt withdrew its ambassador in November 2012 to protest an Israeli offensive against Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip. At the time, Egypt was led by Islamist President Muhammad Mursi. Since Mursi was ousted by the military in 2013, relations have steadily improved. In September, Israel reopened its embassy in Cairo, four years after it was ransacked by a crowd protesting the deaths of five Egyptian policemen killed unintentionally by Israeli forces chasing a group of Gaza militants.

Turkey diversifies allies with first Mideast military base in Qatar

Al-Arabiya , UAE reports: In view of rising regional threats, Turkey seems to be diversifying its potential allies, especially on the military and energy fronts. According to a decision announced Wednesday by Turkey’s ambassador to Qatar, Ankara will have its first Middle East military base in Qatar, with 3,000 troops to be stationed in the country. The base will be supported by air and naval units, special forces and military trainers. Joint training exercises will be held at the base, and Qatar will be able to set up its own base in Turkey. Qatar is home to the largest U.S. air base in the Middle East, where about 10,000 military personnel are placed. Currently, 100 Turkish troops are providing the Qatari army with military training. This move is in line with a bilateral defense agreement – signed in 2014 and ratified by the Turkish parliament in June – with the aim of confronting “common enemies.”… The regional policies of the two countries coincide with their support for the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, while they also support efforts to overthrow Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. They oppose Iran’s growing regional influence, and Russia’s intervention in Syria.

Hezbollah proxy ties with Iran divulged

Bahrain News Agency reports: Lebanese parliamentary Future Bloc today deplored the recent statements by a number of Hezbollah officials, considering the remarks as flagrant unacceptable interference in the internal affairs of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. It said that these statements clearly revealed the relationship of Hezbollah with Iran and Iranian regional policies based on domination and interference in the internal affairs of the Arab countries.
This came in a statement after the bloc’s weekly meeting on Tuesday, the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported.

Turkey needs Israel: Erdogan

Egypt Independent reports: Turkey must accept that it needs Israel, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Saturday, as the two countries seek to thrash out a deal on normalizing ties. NATO member Turkey was a key regional ally of Israel until the two countries fell out over the deadly storming by Israeli commandos in 2010 of a Turkish aid ship, the Mavi Marmara, bound for Gaza. Erdogan further raised hackles in Israel with his sometimes inflammatory rhetoric towards the Jewish State. But the atmosphere was transformed following the revelation last month the two sides were making progress in secret talks to seek a rapprochement. “Israel is in need of a country like Turkey in the region,” Erdogan said in remarks to Turkish reporters published in leading dailies Saturday. “And we too must accept that we need Israel. This is a reality in the region,” said Erdogan. “If mutual steps are implemented based on sincerity, then normalization will follow.”

Syrian Dissident: Execution of Saudi Cleric Plotted in Tel Aviv

Fars News Agency, Iran reports: A prominent Syrian dissident leader says Israel has persuaded the Riyadh government to kill prominent Saudi Muslim cleric Sheikh Nimr Baqir al-Nimr. “It is clear that the Saudis had taken order from their masters in Tel Aviv and the US to commit the crime of executing Sheikh Nimr; therefore, it is not surprising to say that the decision to execute Sheikh Nimr was taken in Tel Aviv and confirmed in Washington,” Secretary-General of al-Talia opposition party Noufal Noufal told FNA on Wednesday. He said that the al-Saud has always been a tool in the US hands to implement its plots in the region. Noting that the al-Saud and ISIL are two sides of the same coin which seek to foment sectarian strife in the region, Noufal said, “Saudi Arabia executed Sheikh Nimr to provoke Iran into sectarian tensions in the region but Iran sees no place for sectarian conflicts in its equations and assumes it to be an undignified move.”

747 children killed, 724 recruited in Yemen conflict, UN

Yemen Post reports: Some 747 children have been killed, 1.108 others injured and another 179 kidnapped since the conflict escalated in late March following the Saudi-led military intervention in Yemen, UNICEF said on Thursday.  Moreover, 724 children have been recruited by parties to the conflict in 2015, it said, pointing out that around 60 schools and 60 hospitals have been attacked, it said. In previous statement, lit revealed that ongoing bombing and increased ground fighting has forced 2 million children to stop going to school and 6 million children at risk of deadly diseases like diarrhea, measles and Polio. There is 1.3 million children at risk of pneumonia and 1.8 at risk of suffering from acute malnutrition, it added. Moreover, half of the internally displaced people, around 2.5 million, are below the age of 18, it said, pointing out that 10 million of the total of 21 million requiring humanitarian aid are children.  

And finally from the Arab News, Saudi Arabia.

Matrimonial 1: 

Indian Sunni Muslim parents invites alliance for their (Saudi born) son, 30 yrs, 5’11”, B.Tech, M.S.(USA), working in US(Green card); From religious minded fair , beautiful girl, age 22-27 yrs, height 5’3” and above, and professionally educated. Only seriously interested call at: 0565…

Matrimonial 2:

SM Urdu speaking parents from West Bengal presently residing at Jeddah invite alliance for their daughter, 26 yrs., 5’3”, beautiful, religious, brought up in KSA presently pursuing B.Sc (Psychology) from IOU. Groom should be smart, well settled and professionally qualified. Interested Indian parents please call at: 0501…

Matrimonial 3:

Sunni Muslim parents from HYD origin, Canadian Citizen, invite alliance for their son, 29 yrs., 5’10”, Diplomas in Avionics/Aircraft Maintenance, working at Toronto Pearson Intl. Airport in Canada as ramp agent. Girl to be above 24 yrs, 5’4”, fair. Kindly contact us at: hyd

(Photo credit: Freedom Messenger) 

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Weekend round-up from the Serious News Department

IRAN: Iran media faces backlash over acid attacks coverage

Al Monitor reports: Iranian media outlets that have covered the acid attacks on women in the city of Esfahan have been criticized for and warned about associating the crimes with “vice” groups enforcing Islamic values. While Iranian authorities have attempted to address concerns about the attacks, they have also warned domestic media outlets over their coverage… The head of Iran’s judiciary denied any link between the attacks and a bill proposed by parliament that would give legal protection to “vice groups” that enforce Islamic laws. “Unfortunately, some Western countries have related this event to the ‘enjoining good and forbidding wrong’ and this is a strange oppression and persecution,” said Ayatollah Sadegh Larijani, adding that “it was worse” that domestic media did the same. Esfahan’s governor also said that the police are pursuing the case and “Any type of gathering on this issue is illegal and individuals who create rumors or take actions that disturb the calm in society will be confronted.”

TURKEY: Turkey ‘should not’ be left alone in ISIL fight

Hurriyet Daily News, Turkey reports: Israel’s highest ranking diplomat in Turkey, newly appointed Consul-General Shai Cohen has said the fight against ISIL should not be left to the Turkish government and Turkish security forces alone. “There should be an international cooperation on that and all of the relevant states should be involved in this fight,” Cohen told daily Hurriyet in a recent interview. Cohen, the new Consul-General of Israel had been the Head of the Counter-Terrorism and Regional Security Department in the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs before his appointment to Istanbul. Cohen spoke with Hurriyet following Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan signing his executor. It has been five years since the Israeli “Cast-Lead” operation on Gaza and four years after the Mavi Marmara incident, Cohen said. “It is not a secret that there is some kind of a stalemate in the normalization process between the two countries. In this period of the last 4-5 years, there has been a decline in the relations between the two countries, especially in the political and strategic fields. On the other hand, in the last 7 weeks that I have been here in Turkey, I have seen that there is a lot of opportunity to develop relations in other fields. But our general approach is, we preach normalization between the people of the two countries,” he added.

ISRAEL:  Egypt, Israel agree to set up Gaza buffer zone: Report

Trend News Agency, Azerbaijan reports: Egypt and Israel have agreed on a plan for the establishment of a buffer zone along the Egyptian border with the Gaza Strip, a report says, Press TV reported. According to the Qatar-funded al-Araby al-Jadeed newspaper, an unnamed Western diplomat recently said Egyptian and Israeli leaders had earlier agreed over the plan regarding the creation of the buffer zone. The Qatari daily is reportedly headed by a former Arab member of the Israeli parliament (Knesset). The paper said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had agreed to an Egypt-brokered ceasefire in Gaza back in August – which ended its deadly 50-day war on the Palestinian enclave – in order to prevent Qatar and Turkey from getting involved. The newspaper added that in return for agreeing to the Egyptian-proposed truce, Tel Aviv also demanded that Egypt set up a buffer zone along its border with Gaza. As part of the plans to create the 13-kilometer long and 500-meter wide buffer zone, the Egyptian army on Sunday reportedly destroyed homes in Rafah, near the border with southern Gaza Strip. About 10,000 residents were evacuated from their houses.

RUSSIA: Russian medical university bans hijabs, religious clothes

Eurasia Review reports: The administration of the Russian National Medical Research University (RNMRU) has established a new dress code; religious clothing will therefore be strictly banned on the premises of the educational facility. In a written directive issued on October 15, Andrei Kamkin, the university’s rector, pointed out that RNMRU is one of the leading institutions of higher education in Russia, and therefore its students and faculty have to maintain certain standards of conduct, which dictate that they dress in a way that befits doctors and medical students.  The male students are expected to wear trousers, jerseys, shirts, ties and jackets; the university has also mandated that they keep their hair well-trimmed. Female students are prohibited from wearing short skirts and revealing dresses, as well as gaudy make-up and jewelry. The wearing of religious clothes and traditional ethnic costumes of any kind, as well as clothes that could offend the political and religious feelings of others is also strictly prohibited. Students who violate these rules face expulsion, while potential offenders among the faculty may be fired. 

MALAYSIA: Malaysian Muslims feel heat for petting dogs, and social media bites back

Religious News Service reports: Syed Azmi Alhabshi has been labeled a heretic, a closet Christian, a Zionist spy or even a Shiite Muslim. His crime? Inviting other Muslims to touch a dog. The subsequent death threats and online abuse sent him into hiding, fearing for his life. So when he met reporters here on Saturday (Oct. 25), the 37-year-old social activist spoke from a prepared text, took no questions and left after five minutes. Nearly 1,000 people attended the Oct. 19 event at a park in the western state of Selangor, aimed at helping Muslims overcome religious stigma and fear of canines, learn permissible ways to touch a dog and how to perform a cleansing ritual, known as “sertu” or “samak.” The backlash was swift and serious after social media and news reports were flooded with images of Muslim participants — particularly women in hijabs — stroking and hugging their new four-legged friends at the “I Want to Touch a Dog” event. Muslims here largely subscribe to the Shafi’i school of jurisprudence, which views dogs as unclean. Dogs are not permitted to be reared as pets or handled, cuddled, pet or kissed. The only reason to touch a dog is if it needs help.

LEBANON: Averting a northern dilemma. 

Al Ahram Weekly, Egypt reports: After days of fierce fighting, the Lebanese army makes gains in Tripoli against armed militants, though the battle is far from over, writes Hassan Al-Qishawi from Beirut. The dire forecast made by Army Chief General Jean Qahwaji finally came true, with clashes erupting in Tripoli and other areas of north Lebanon between militant Islamists and the Lebanese army. The clashes were triggered by a search operation targeting an armed group in Tripoli, based on information obtained during the interrogation of militant Ahmed Miqati, who faces serious terrorist charges. As the operation got underway, militant groups fired at the army and tried to ambush it in Tripoli and the nearby towns of Behanin and Al-Mohammara. A Lebanese security source said that the clashes started when the army commenced search operations in Tripoli that were based on the confessions of Miqati, who was arrested in Denniya in north Lebanon a few days ago. Miqati’s son, believed to be a member of the Islamic State, and other members of the family were among the militants who challenged the army in two days of fighting in north Lebanon.

LIBYA: Dozens of Libyans pledge allegiance to top IS leader

Arab News, Saudi Arabia reports:  Dozens of residents of a town in eastern Libya have pledged allegiance to Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, leader of Islamic State militants fighting in Syria and Iraq, according to a video and a resident. Around 50 young people could be seen in a video posted on social media gathering in Derna to support Baghdadi, who calls himself “caliph,” or Muslim leader, of Islamic State, an Al-Qaeda offshoot. A Derna resident confirmed the authenticity of the video, taken late on Friday. There has been growing concern among Western nations and Libya’s neighbors that Islamic State is trying to exploit lawlessness in the oil producer where militants and other militias who helped topple Muammar Qaddafi in 2011 are carving out fiefdoms. Derna, a port halfway between the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi and the Egyptian border, has since 2011 turned into a gathering point for militants and Al-Qaeda sympathizers.

AUSTRALIA: Mastermind of failed Australia beheading plot killed in Middle East

News 24, Australia reports: A former Sydney bouncer said to have masterminded a failed plot by Islamic State militants to behead a random member of the public in Australia is believed to have died in the Middle East, Australian media reported on Wednesday. Mohammad Ali Baryalei, who was believed to be one of the group’s most senior members and a top recruiter of foreign fighters, was thought to have died in fighting in Syria or Iraq four or five days ago, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported… Abdul Salaam Mahmoud, who belonged to the same street-proselytizing group as Baryalei in Sydney, wrote on Facebook of Baryalei’s death, the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper reported. “I’ve just received the news that our beloved brother Mohamed Ali who was recently strongly attacked by Australian media has been martyred,” Mahmoud said. More than 800 police raided homes in Sydney and Brisbane in September as part of a sweeping counter-terrorism operation aimed at stopping what the government said was a plot to kidnap and publicly behead a random Australian citizen. Australia is concerned over the number of its citizens believed to be fighting overseas with militant groups, including a suicide bomber who killed three people in Baghdad in July and two men shown in images on social media holding the severed heads of Syrian soldiers.

SYRIA: Syrian helicopter bombs displaced persons camp, many dead

Khaleej Times, UAE reports: A Syrian army helicopter dropped two barrel bombs on a displaced persons camp in the northern province of Idlib, camp residents said on Wednesday, and video footage appeared to show charred and dismembered bodies. Footage posted on YouTube showed corpses of women, children and burning tents while people scrambled to save the wounded. “It’s a massacre of refugees,” a voice off camera said. “Let the whole world see this, they are displaced people. Look at them, they are civilians, displaced civilians. They fled the bombardment,” the man’s voice said. A man in another video of the Abedin camp, which houses people who had escaped fighting in neighbouring Hama province, said as many as 75 people had died. Syrian state media did not mention the bombing. The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which tracks violence in the civil war, said 10 civilians died.

NIGERIA: Dozens More Girls Abducted By Extremists

Arab Times, Kuwait reports: Gunmen Kill German Citizen, Kidnap Another In Nigeria.  Dozens of girls and young women are being abducted by Islamic extremists in North East Nigeria, raising doubts about an announced cease-fire and the hoped-for release of 219 schoolgirls held captive since April. Thirty teenage girls and boys have been kidnapped since Wednesday from villages around Mafa town, 40 kms (25 miles) from the Borno state capital, Maiduguri, the local government chairman Shettima Maina told reporters. Escaping residents said Boko Haram insurgents abducted 80 girls and women from neighboring Adamawa state on Oct 18. Older women in the group were released the following day and said the extremists kept about 40 younger women and girls, according to the residents. They spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of retaliation by the insurgents… Witnesses and a security official said more than 20 insurgents were killed in fierce fighting at Abadam in which the Nigerian Air Force bombed occupied posts and ground troops opened fire after which the insurgents fled. Boko Haram had hoisted their black and white flag in Abadam a week before, when they killed at least 40 civilians and forced hundreds in the farming community to flee across the border into Niger, according to some residents who escaped to Maiduguri, 200 kms (125 miles) to the east. Also last week, a car bomb exploded in a bus station in Azare, a town in north-central Bauchi state.

BANGLADESH: Militant group planning coup in Bangladesh: India officials

Gulf Times, Qatar reports: Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, target of terror group. India’s top counter-terrorism agency has uncovered a suspected plot by a banned militant group to assassinate the prime minister of Bangladesh and carry out a coup, three senior Indian security officials told Reuters yesterday. India will hand over a dossier to Bangladesh with details of the plan by members of the Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen, which has carried out scores of attacks in India’s eastern neighbour, the government and police officials said. Bangladesh did not comment directly on the assertions that Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina had been the target of a plot, but said it had tightened security on the border with India. Mainly-Muslim Bangladesh has suffered three major army coups and two dozen smaller rebellions since gaining independence from Pakistan in 1971 in a war that killed and displaced millions. The alleged conspiracy was discovered after two members of the group were killed in an explosion while building home made bombs at a house in West Bengal in eastern India earlier this month. Indian police say the militants were Bangladeshis and were using India as a safe haven to plan the attacks. “The strategy was to hit the political leaders of the country and demolish the democratic infrastructure of Bangladesh,” said a senior Indian Home (interior) Ministry official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. “This was all being planned on Indian soil and we could have been blamed if there was an attack.”

SAUDI ARABIA: More Than 2,000 Saudi Gunmen Operate for ISIL, Recruitment via Twitter, YouTube

Al Manar, Lebanon reports: Terrorist organizations employ between 2,000 and 2,500 gunmen of Saudi nationality. This explains why do the young Saudis – especially the suicide bombers – top the list of terrorist organizations, the Saudi UK-based Al-Hayat newspaper reported. “Assessments of research centers and monitors indicate that the number of Saudi fighters reached approximately 2,500, most of them are aged between 18 and 25 years old operating within the ranks of ISIL (the so-called ‘Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant’). While others operate within Al-Qaeda-affiliated AL-Nusra Front,” Hammoud Al-Zayyadi, an expert in terrorist groups told Al-Hayat. Zayyadi said that social networks, particularly the Twitter and YouTube, have become “the most important incubators and mobilization and recruitment means for terrorist groups,” whether targeting the Saudi elements or even at the level of global polarization.”… The Saudi expert said the goal of recruiting those gunmen is “to take advantage of the Saudi members’ ability to fund, both by elements who may belong to rich families, or by their relationships with charity institutions, businessmen, or social powers that couldn’t know the real reasons behind the donation.” 

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SEVENTY YEARS LATER - "Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose" | "The more things change, the more they stay the same"

SEVENTY YEARS LATER – “Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose” | “The more things change, the more they stay the same”

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Latest International News for May 13, 2014

What Others Are Saying

Never the twain shall meet?

Hürriyet Daily News, Turkey reports: Iranians, Israelis rush to Antalya. The first four months of the year saw a rise in Iranian and Israeli tourists to Turkey’s southern holiday mecca of Antalya. According to a report released in May by the Antalya Touristic Hotels and Businesses Union, the number of Iranian tourists who visited Antalya skyrocketed by 464 percent between January and April, while visitors from Israel soared by 146 percent. The number of Iranian visitors surpassed 53,000, whereas the number of Israelis visiting Antalya was more than 39,000. The rise in Iranian and Israeli visitors outstripped some of the top Antalya-loving countries during the period, in which the overall number of foreign visitors rose 5.1 percent to 1.32 million… Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s apology to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan last year over the Mavi Marmara incident gave a boost to Turkey’s allure for Israeli holiday markets.

“Judenfrei” sign posted on the gates of nursery school in Latvia

Riga Latvia bLatvian news site Vesti Segodniya reports the Pucite School, owned by Imants Paradnieks, [who has in the past made anti-Semitic statements] posted a sign reading “Judenfrei” (free of Jews) on the gate at the front entrance of the school. The school was in the news two years ago for bringing in men dressed in Waffen SS uniforms to show the kindergarten class what they called a patriotic lesson. In a video taken of that lesson, children are shown World War II era weapons such as grenades, pistols, rifles and machine guns.

‘We feel the Nazi frost in the air’: Sweden

The Local, Sweden reports: Two of Sweden’s most prominent politicians have asked their European counterparts “to wake up”. Cecilia Malmström and Birgitta Ohlsson argue that it is time to fight “Hitler’s ideological heirs, who are marching towards our legislative assemblies”.  On May 9th, 1945 there were celebrations across Europe as the Third Reich capitulated and the second world war finally ended. Last week, some 200 Nazis from the Party of the Swedes demonstrated in Jönköping. They protested against the EU and brandished the slogan “Sweden for the Swedes”. Through the duration of the demonstration, church bells rang out across the southern Swedish town.  It was the first time since 1939 that the churches rang their bells to warn of danger.  School students across our country have this spring been met by Nazi hate propaganda. Some dismiss the scrawled swastiskas and hateful words as pranks. But we feel the frost in the air. 

BBC’s Addis Ababa correspondent decides who is Jewish

BBC Watch, UK reports: Here’s a heart-breaking story which was broadcast on BBC World News television and promoted on the Middle East and Africa pages of the BBC News website… Presenter Emmanuel Igunza reports: Shouts of praise for the holy scrolls but make no mistake; this is not Israel. Welcome to Gondar – an ancient historic city in northern Ethiopia and home to the Falash Mura: the last Jews of Ethiopia. They spend their days living according to Jewish tradition, passed onto them over hundreds of years. The tranquility here betrays the emotional turmoil that many feel, not able to join their families in Israel. Stories of siblings separated, children allowed to settle in the Jewish homeland while their parents remain behind. Under the Israeli government criteria, only those Falash Mura who can show evidence of Jewish ancestry on their mother’s side are allowed into Israel and granted citizenship… The problem with Emmanuel Igunza’s story is that he has left out some very critical details, the most obvious one being that the Falash Mura are Christians whose Jewish ancestors were converted by Western missionaries from around the end of the nineteenth century.

Peres barred from entering Swedish airspace

The Jewish Chronicle, UK reports: Israeli President Peres was held up in mid-air on Sunday after Swedish authorities refused to permit the plane he was travelling in from entering their airspace. The president had been en route to Norway in a private jet, owned by the company Kishrev Teufa, when he hit problems over the Baltic Sea.
According to Haaretz, his flight was 15 minutes away from Swedish airspace when the pilot was told that the country’s air traffic authorities had no prior knowledge of clearance being given. After circling the area, the plane was finally re-routed through Danish airspace, making Mr Peres 50 minutes late for his arrival in Oslo. Although the Foreign Ministry blamed the problem on the fact that a private company had been transporting Mr Peres, his office has criticised the Swedish authorities. A spokesperson at the President’s Office said: “It was a technical problem. The Swedes immediately gave approval, but later revoked it for reasons unknown to us.”

Jewish boat making waves ahead of Amsterdam gay parade

JTA reports: Its maiden voyage is months away and will only take a couple of hours, but the Jewish boat of Amsterdam’s annual gay parade-on-the-canals is already making international waves. On Monday, the Jewish boat got the thumbs up from the British actor Stephen Fry, who described it on Twitter as an “Ace event for LGBT Jews worldwide,” adding: “As one of each I wish I could be there!”  The Jewish boat for the Amsterdam Pride Canal Parade 2014 is scheduled to hit the murky waters of Amsterdam’s Prinsengracht canal on August 2. It was one of approximately 80 boats to win a March lottery ensuring its participation in the world-famous event, believed to be the world’s only aquatic pride parade. Other winners included the first boat for Moroccan gays. The 18-year-old annual event draws hundreds of thousands of spectators who huddle along the canal to watch the decorated, themed vessels chart a west-east course through one of the Dutch capital’s main waterways. The Jewish boat, and an international Jewish LGBT conference that immediately precedes it, are being organized by a group called Exodays, whose board is made up of several young Jewish activists.

Israel says to normalize relations with Turkey

Kuwait News Agency reports:  Israel announced on Monday that it will begin normalizing relations with Turkey in a matter of days after the return of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu from his visit to Japan. The normalization comes after four years of tension between the two countries caused by the Israeli attack on the Turkish (Mavi Marmara) flotilla carrying Turkish activists supporting Gaza in May 2010, killing and injuring dozens of those on board. Turkey withdrew its Ambassador to Israel after the incident, and demanded the same from the Hebrew state. Israel has agreed to pay compensation of USD 21 million to the victims’ families, according to Radio Israel. The two sides will reach a final agreement regarding compensations once Netanyahu has returned, the radio added. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has previously said that Israel must pay the compensation and end the siege on Gaza, if it really wanted to normalize relations with his country. Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu meanwhile said in a press conference that the Turkish-Israeli negotiations are coming out with positive results and have solved big issues between the two countries.

Israel’s creation is “the greatest crime known to humanity” writes official PA daily op-ed

Palestinian Media Watch reports: To coincide with Israel’s Independence Day last week, the official Palestinian Authority daily published an op-ed describing Israel’s creation – “the occupation of Palestine” – as “the greatest crime known to humanity.” Other terms of demonization used to refer to Israel’s creation were “a monstrosity was born” and “an despicable mission.” Jewish fighting forces in the War of Independence were referred to as “the Zionist gangs.”

Syria jihadists ban mannequins in shops

Gulf News, UAE reports: Militants in Raqa also ban men and women shopping together unless he is her husband, father or brotherSyria’s most extreme jihadist faction issued a ban Monday on mannequins in shop displays and the sale of women’s underwear to male customers, a monitoring group said. The decision by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil) in their northern stronghold of Raqa also bans men and women shopping together unless he is her husband, father or brother, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. The Observatory also said ISIL has decided that traditional garments on sale must be neither “tight, transparent or ornate”. Raqa is the only provincial capital in Syria to have fallen from the hands of President Bashar Al Assad’s regime, and it is now completely under Isil control. Isil is believed to be holding some 1,000 hostages in Raqa, rights groups say, many of them peaceful activists, rival rebels or civilians caught committing “crimes” such as heresy or smoking. The group also carries out frequent public executions, with some victims reportedly crucified in Raqa.

West ‘stupid’ to expect Iran missile curb: Khamenei

Gulf Times, Qatar reports: Iran’s supreme leader described as “stupid and idiotic” Western expectations for his country to curb its missile development, striking a defiant tone ahead of a fresh round of nuclear talks. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called on Iran’s Revolutionary Guards to mass produce missiles and said the nuclear negotiations were not the place to discuss Tehran’s defence programme or to solve the problem of sanctions damaging the Iranian economy. “They expect us to limit our missile programme while they constantly threaten Iran with military action,” Khamenei was quoted as telling the Irna news agency while on a visit to an aeronautics fair held by the Revolutionary Guards. “So this is a stupid, idiotic expectation … The revolutionary guards should definitely carry out their programme and not be satisfied with the present level. They should mass produce. This is a main duty of all military officials.”

We thought Rouhani was supposed to be moderate? Iran censors, shuts down two newspapers

AlBawaba, Jordan reports: Iranians expecting to buy Thursday’s edition of reformist newspaper Ghanoon were disappointed not to find it on news stands as the publication has been forced to close by the Iranian Ministry of Culture. The latest closures bring the total number of Iranian media outlets shut down by the Ministry of Culture to at least five since the election of President Hassan Rouhani in August. Ghanoon, the Persian word for “law,” was shut down for its coverage of the arrest of Mohammad Rouyanian, the former chair of the Persepolis soccer club and member of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corp. Rouyanian, who was arrested on fraud charges in March, was head of Iran’s powerful Management Transportation and Fuel Center under controversial former Iranian PresidentMahmoud Ahmadinejad. “The newspaper published false reports aimed at disturbing public opinion, and (articles) against the Islamic values,” read the Ministry of Culture’s statement. The statement is posted on Ghanoon’s still-operational website. Ghanoon’s article was just a reprint of a report published by Iranian news agency Dana, which the Ministry of Culture also shutdown when that fact became apparent.

Warsaw’s Jewish Heritage on Show

The Warsaw Voice reports: A new exhibition at the Museum of the History of Polish Jews offers a glimpse of Warsaw as it was before World War II, when the city was home to the world’s second-largest Jewish community after New York City. Entitled Warszawa, Warsze, the exhibition comprises archival documents, paintings and photographs. Arranged in chronological order, the exhibition begins with items from the late 18th century. The primary focus of Warszawa, Warsze are Warsaw’s distinctly Jewish neighborhoods, such as Muranów and Nalewki Street, where Yiddish was spoken and the streets bustled with sidewalk stalls, stores and craftsmen’s workshops. Visitors to the museum can see how the elegant Senatorska Street and the Tłomackie Street area, a favorite meeting place for progressive intellectuals, once looked. The exhibition also delves into the shady atmosphere of Gnojna Street and Iron Gate Square, and brings to life the Jewish microcosm of Warsaw’s Praga district, whose local horse fair attracted many Jews in the 18th century. The exhibition also takes in the Vistula River, which used to be a popular bathing spot and which simultaneously served as a trade route for Jewish merchants dealing in grain and other products.

Quilliam releases new report on online extremism

A new report by Quilliam entitled ‘Jihad Trending: A Comprehensive Analysis of Online Extremism and How to Counter it’ is released today. The report maps Islamist extremist usage of the Internet and explores the role extremist materials online play in the radicalisation process. It also focuses on how online extremism can be countered, offering a comprehensive range of counter-measures.

Key findings of the report include:

• The vast majority of radicalised individuals come into contact with extremist ideology through offline socialisation prior to being indoctrinated online. This challenges popular discourse about ‘lone wolf’ actors radicalised solely through the Internet.

• Although governments are increasingly relying on censorship and filtering methods to counter online extremism, this report found that negative measures, or censorship in general, was not only ineffective and costly but also potentially counter-productive.

(Photo credit Vesti Segodniya)


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