2015: Surviving the times ahead

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by Alan Simons
by Alan Simons

Christopher Buckley, the American author and political satirist once said: “Reading any collection of a man’s quotations is like eating the ingredients that go into a stew instead of cooking them together in the pot. You eat all the carrots, then all the potatoes, then the meat. You won’t go away hungry, but it’s not quite satisfying.”

For diaspora Jews living in countries where there are a high percentage of individuals harbouring virulent antisemitic attitudes, such as in Greece, Panama, Poland, Bulgaria, Serbia and France, there’s also not much to be satisfied about. Antisemitic-based quotations abound from so many Internet sources. Many have been loosely translated from Urdu, Arabic, and other languages; so much so that one has to continually scramble to separate the fact from the fiction.

For diaspora Jews in many parts of the world, the continual need to come to the defence of one’s religious beliefs have left many reeling in a state of scepticism and understandably, in a precarious quagmire. It has, in essence, become an inherent part of daily life.

Having said that, whether or not you agree with Christopher Buckley, I believe quotations do have a place for us, especially in times of incertitude. Three quotations immediately come to mind. Perhaps, as we look forward to the year ahead with some tiny spark of sanguinity, this is the time to revive them.

“Don’t shelter yourself in any course of action by the idea that ‘it is my affair.’ It is your affair, but it is also mine and the community’s. Nor can we neglect the world beyond. A fierce light beats upon the Jew. It is a grave responsibility this – to be a Jew; and you can’t escape from it, even if you choose to ignore it. Ethically or religiously, we Jews can be and do nothing light-heartedly. Ten bad Jews may help to damn us; ten good Jews may help to save us. Which minyan will you join?”   -C.G. Montefiore, (1858-1938).

“My people have survived the prehistoric paganism, the Babylonian polytheism, the aesthetic Hellenism, the sagacious Romanism, at once the blandishments and persecutions of the Church; and it will survive the modern dilettantism and the current materialism, holding aloft the traditional Jewish ideals inflexibly until the world shall become capable of recognizing their worth.”  –Cyrus Adler, (1863-1940).

And finally, from Leo Tolstoy, (1828-1910). “The Jew is the emblem of eternity. He whom neither slaughter nor torture of thousands of years could destroy, he whom neither fire nor sword nor inquisition was able to wipe off from the face of the earth, he whom was the first to produce the oracles of God, he who has been for so long the guardian of prophecy, and who transmitted it to the rest of the world – such a nation cannot be destroyed. He is everlasting as is eternity itself.”

2015 is just a few days away. Yet, for me, it is already here. In peace.

* * *

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”

“Not all Muslims become involved in acts of violence. Yet all might be held culpable. This is because that section of Muslim–in fact, the majority–who are not personally involved, neither disown those members of their community who are engaged in violence, nor even condemn them. In such a case, according to the Islamic Shariah itself, if the involved Muslims are directly responsible, the uninvolved Muslims are also indirectly responsible.”            -Islamic spiritual scholar Maulana Wahiduddin Khan

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Weekend News Round-up

What They Are Saying

UAE publishes list of terrorist organisations

Gulf News, UAE reports: The UAE Cabinet on Saturday announced the names of dozens of extremist groups that have been put on its list of terrorist organisations.  The list, which is in line with the anti-terror law issued by President His Highness Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan in August, includes major terror groups such as Al Qaida, Daesh and the Muslim Brotherhood, and its regional and local affiliates, as well as smaller regional and international groups…  Among the terror groups on the UAE list are Al Qaida and its affiliates in the Arabian Peninsula and North Africa, Daesh (the so-called Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant), the International Organisation of the Muslim Brotherhood, the Syrian-based Jabhat Al Nusra and its Ahrar Al Sham allies, the Nigerian-based Boko Haram, Al Houthis group in Yemen, Hezbollah’s affiliates in the Gulf, Iraqi militias such as Badr, Asaaeb Al Haq, Abul Fadhl Al Abbas, Pakistan Taliban, Lashkar-e-Taiba and the Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations. 

ISIS now threatens to behead female hostage

IsraelNews reports: To increase shock and awe. The Islamic State claims its next victim is a 26 year-old American woman, the only woman captivated by the organization. The American woman was captivated by IS in August 2013, after travelling to Syria to aid children who had been separated from their families in the civil war. The rest of the humanitarian aid workers who had been with her were reportedly released by IS.

ISIS will not find reservoir of recruits in Lebanon: expert

The Daily Star, Lebanon reports: Although a number of Lebanese have joined the ranks of ISIS, the terrorist group will not find a deep reservoir of recruits in Lebanon, according to leading security expert Ali Soufan. Soufan, a Lebanese-American who was previously a special agent with the United States Federal Bureau of Investigations, says Lebanon does not provide a “nurturing environment” for those seeking to wage violent jihad with groups like ISIS or Al-Qaeda. The majority of the foreign fighters in Syria hail from predominantly Sunni countries with relative religious homogeneity, Soufan explained. Lebanon, however, is more of a confessional patchwork where an appreciable percent of the population supports dialogue and peaceful coexistence.

Infighting mars memorial

Al-Ahram Weekly, Egypt reports: Mutual recriminations and threats between Fatah and Hamas following the explosions that targeted the homes of several Fatah leaders in Gaza and led to the cancellation of ceremonies to commemorate President Yasser Arafat have revived fears of a return to factional violence in Gaza.  A renewed security breakdown would jeopardise many crucial issues, including Palestinian reconciliation, the reconstruction of Gaza and the resumption of Egyptian-brokered ceasefire negotiations with the Israeli occupation authorities. The bombings, for which no one has yet claimed responsibility, targeted the stage for the ceremonies commemorating the tenth anniversary of the death of Arafat as well as the properties of some Fatah leaders. Fatah officially cancelled the ceremonies on Sunday and blamed Hamas for the bombings and for sending threatening letters to a number of Fatah leaders. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Tuesday accused Hamas of carrying out the bombings.

Afghan MP survives assassination bid

Gulf Daily News, Bahrain reports: A suicide bomber attacked an armoured car carrying a prominent Afghan women’s rights leader and MP in Kabul yesterday, killing three people and wounding 32 others, Afghan officials said. The MP who was apparently the target of the attack, Shukria Barakzai, survived the blast, which occurred several hundred feet away from the parliament building, her destination at the time. Barakzai, 42, had once helped run underground schools for girls during the Taliban era. She quickly emerged as a public figure in Afghanistan not long after the American-led coalition toppled the Taliban government. A member of the assembly that approved Afghanistan’s Constitution in early 2004, she was elected to parliament the following year and re-elected in 2010.

Tehran’s former prosecutor disbarred over protest deaths

Arab News, Saudi Arabia reports: Iran’s supreme court has permanently disbarred Tehran’s ex-chief prosecutor Saeed Mortazavi, upholding a previous ruling, over the deaths of three jailed anti-government protesters, media said Sunday. Mortazavi was also suspended from public office for five years, the pro-government newspaper Iran said. The notorious former prosecutor was suspended in August 2010 over the deaths of Mohammad Kamrani, Amir Javadifar and Mohsen Ruholamini in Kahrizak jail the previous summer. The men had been jailed in connection with anti-government protests that swept Iran following the disputed June 2009 re-election of hard-line president Mahmud Ahmadinejad. Their deaths, from injuries inflicted in custody, were denounced by lawmakers at the time as a “crime.”

 Turkish police chief found dead in hotel room

Today’s Zaman, Turkey reports:  A police chief in eastern Turkish province of Bayburt was found dead in an hotel room on Friday, with cuts on his arms and stomach. Turkish security services immediately launched an investigation to figure out how and why the police chief, Ömer Lütfi Evci, 42, was murdered or if he committed a suicide. The body of Evci was found in the hotel room in Zahit neighbourhood, when police broke into the room after the police chief didn’t respond to calls by his colleagues for a long time. The police chief was on duty at Bayburt Police Academy.

 Greece’s Neo-Nazis Were Scarier Than Anyone Imagined

Foreign Policy, USA reports:  In the prosecutors’ 697-page case file, he is known only as Witness E — a Golden Dawn ex-member turned state informant. And what he has to share about the neo-Nazi political party — its ideology, its training methods, and its plans for the future — is terrifying.  Golden Dawn recruited a butcher to train its members in the art of using a knife effectively, in order to “neutralize opponents,” Witness E told prosecutors. Party members participated in the mass slaughter of sheep in various farms around the Attica region, which encompasses Athens and its suburbs, to learn the best technique for “striking directly at the jugular.” He’d heard, Witness E said, that the same butcher supplied guns to Golden Dawn members, as well. Other evidence prosecutors uncovered seems to back up his claim: The case file is littered with photos of members in military clothing carrying knives, swords, handguns, rifles, and, in one case, even a bazooka.  All this training was “in preparation to overthrow the Greek government,” Witness E suggested to prosecutors — a jarring reminder of how little the Greek public truly understood the operational capabilities of Golden Dawn, or what the party even aimed to be.

 Erdoğan says America was discovered by Muslims, not Columbus

The Hürriyet Daily News,Turkey reports: America was discovered by Muslims, not by Christopher Columbus, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has claimed, vowing to build a mosque “on that hill” in Cuba if the authorities of the Caribbean nation grant the permit.  Speaking at the closing ceremony of the first Latin American Muslim leaders summit in Istanbul on Nov. 15, Erdoğan slammed colonialism before referring to a controversial claim about the discovery of the Americas. “Muslim sailors had arrived in the shores of America in 1178. In his diaries, Christopher Columbus referred to the presence of a mosque on top of a mountain in Cuba,” Erdoğan said, claiming the diary is a proof that “the religion of Islam was widespread” when the first European explorer discovered the New World in 1492.

Iran’s Revolutionary Guard showcases ballistic capabilities to “attack and destroy” Israel

Asharq Al-Awsat, London reports: Iranian websites close to the country’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps have run special feature reports and interviews relating to Iran’s capability to “attack and destroy” Israel using ballistic missiles, the semi-state-run Fars and Tasnim news agencies reported on Saturday.  A special feature report published by Fars on three missiles—named Israel-hitter—stated the missiles could be launched quickly from Iranian territory to reach targets in Israel, and explained the extensive infrastructure that has been built underground to house them. A Tehran-based analyst, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told Asharq Al-Awsat that publishing such “provocative” reports just two weeks before the November 24 deadline for reaching a comprehensive agreement with Western powers on Iran’s nuclear program was an intentional move by more conservative elements in the Iranian leadership, and designed to derail President’s Hassan Rouhani’s reconciliatory foreign policy approach to close the nuclear dossier.

Saudi school ‘teaching anti-Semitism’

The Local, Austria reports: Vienna’s Saudi School – a private school for Islamic immigrants from Saudi Arabia and the Middle East – is under review by the city council after allegations that it is teaching conspiracy theories and anti-Semitism. A reporter from News magazine got hold of a copy of a school history textbook which is said to contain “a smorgasbord of conspiracy theories and incitement against Jews, Israelis and divergent trends in Islam”. News commissioned a translation of the book from Arabic – which has sentences like “the Freemasons were a secret, subversive Jewish organization, which aimed to secure Jewish control of the world”.  The school has now been asked to provide certified German translations of all its teaching materials by the end of the year. The Saudi School is run by the Saudi government and is not a religious institution. All lessons are taught in Arabic and follow the Saudi curriculum. However, the school must still comply with statutes set by the Austrian Education Ministry, and anti-Semitism and incitement is against Austrian law. The ministry could withdraw the school’s educational status if it identifies serious teaching problems or a lack of responsible leadership – meaning the students would have to be home schooled or attend another school.

Orthodox Jew stabbed in Antwerp

Flanders News, Belgium reports: A 31-year-old Jew from Antwerp was attacked on Saturday. His assailant stabbed him with a knife, apparently out of the blue. The victim was taken to hospital, but was able to return home later on Saturday. The aggressor is still on the run. The attack took place around 9.15am under the rail bridge in the Kievitstraat, near Antwerp’s Central Station. The victim was walking on the pavement when he was suddenly attacked by another pedestrian. The assailant managed to escape. Police arrested a suspect using a description made by witnesses, but it turned out they had the wrong man. The assailant is still on the run. Investigators do not exclude any possible motive just yet. 

Indonesia. No Religion on ID Cards, no Public Services

Jakarta Globe, Indonesia reports: Residents of Pontianak in West Kalimantan who do not list their religion on identification cards will not be allowed to access public services, the city’s deputy mayor has said. In comments that are likely to inflame debate about religious freedom and the rights of minority groups, Sutarmidji said he would instruct the region’s population agency and sub-district offices not to serve people who fail to put their religion on ID cards, known as KTP. He said the religion column on the cards should not be omitted as it was required under current law. “If you want to add another religion or belief you should first amend the law that stipulates it,” he told detik.com. Indonesia formally recognizes only six religious designations: Buddhist, Catholic, Protestant, Confucian, Hindu and Muslim. Adherents are required to identify themselves on their KTP.

* * *

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”

 Thank God there’s an Israel!

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Neo-fascist Greece. The Nazi scumbags have their day!

Caption: "Don't feel guilty brother. We were not in Auschwitz and Dachau to suffer but to learn." - Ethnos

Caption: “Don’t feel guilty brother. We were not in Auschwitz and Dachau to suffer but to learn.” – Ethnos

Χρυσή Αυγή. Πηγαίνετε και γαμήσου!

by Alan Simons

Helena Smith, in last weekend’s The Observer (UK) explained it this way with the headline:

SS songs and antisemitism: the week Golden Dawn turned openly Nazi

It has been a bad week for democracy in Athens. All around this great Greek city, the politics of hate now lurk. On Friday I got a taste of it in the tiny Italian-style cafe I frequent off Syntagma Square.

It arrived in the form of two middle-aged men, both supporters of the neo-fascist Golden Dawn – and, by their own account, the holders of university degrees, well-travelled and well-informed. Over espressos, they began to engage in an animated discussion about all that is wrong with Greece.

The first, a self-described businessman decked out in designer suit, brogues and silk tie, blamed the country’s economic collapse on malfeasance, corruption and uncontrolled immigration. “The only way to teach our filthy politicians is to bring in Golden Dawn,” he trilled, his eyes locked in a fierce glare. “These gentlemen are patriots, proud Greek nationalists, and they know how to deal with the scum, the foreigners who never pay taxes, who steal our jobs, who have taken over our streets.”

Dismissing charges that Golden Dawn is a criminal gang masquerading as a political group, the second – a self-described government employee – said the far right was the best response yet to the great Jewish conspiracy of an interconnected banking system that has come with globalisation. “Let’s not forget all the faggots and the Jews, the wankers who control the banks, the foreigners who are behind them, who came in and fucked Greece,” he insisted. “The criminals who have governed us, who have robbed us of our future, of our dreams, need a big thwack.”

Such is one’s ghastly impression of Greece.

Currently, Greece’s population stands around 11.3 million of which no more than 5,000 of its citizens are Jews. You do the calculation! 

Golden Dawn - photo credit: pasportoy.blogspot.com

Golden Dawn – photo credit: pasportoy.blogspot.com

Today, Golden Dawn has forged links with Germany, Australia, Canada and the US. In the United States their website says:

Our goals are to promote and support the Golden Dawn’s nationalist ideals and vision for Greece among the Greek diaspora. To preserve our Hellenic culture, we must resist and overcome the genocidal multi-culturalist, and anti- Hellenic agenda of the New World Order. The unholy alliance of the bankers, media, corrupt politicians and the educational system are rabidly attempting to extinguish all traces of Hellenism- past, present and future through poverty, historical revisionism, media distortions and third world immigration.

“Will the next Selahattin Ülkümen please stand up and be recognised!”

A number of years ago I wrote about how a Turkish diplomat, in particular, Selahattin Ülkümen in Rhodes, Greece saved scores of Jews from Nazi persecution and extermination. For his heroism he was subsequently imprisoned by the Nazis after his consulate was bombed and his pregnant wife killed by the Germans. The Turkish consuls at Athens, Salonica, Gümülcine and on the island of Midilli also provided the same sort of assistance. In 1990, Israel issued a postage stamp in Ülkümen’s honour. He died in 2003. If still alive, I wonder what he would have to say about the sickness now pervading Greece. I say, will the next Selahattin Ülkümen please stand up and be recognised!

Oh yes! Sorry, I’m too embarrassed to translate the Greek headline above. After all, I’m Canadian!

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