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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This Week in Review: What The Europeans Are Saying

Sephardic Jews in Turkey ‘subject to hostility,’ Spanish minister says

Hürriyet Daily News, Turkey reports: Sephardic Jews are living under threat in Turkey and many will seek Spanish passports due to new legislation that grants returners dual citizenship, Spanish Justice Minister Alberto Ruiz-Gallardón has said. Most of the demands for Spanish passports since the new law passed have come from Turkey and Venezuela, Gallardon told the New York Times on March 19. It is estimated that only 24,000 Sephardic Jews remain in Turkey, mostly concentrated in Istanbul. Historically, they have spoken the now-endangered Ladino language, a Judeo-Spanish dialect that is mostly a derivation of Castellan with a few Turkish intonations.

NATO chief: Crimea invasion could be just the beginning

EUobserver reports: NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen has warned Crimea could be the beginning of a wider military campaign, amid Russia’s veiled threats against EU and NATO member Estonia. He told the Brookings Institute, a think tank in Washington, on Wednesday (19 March): “I see Crimea as an element in a greater pattern, in a more long-term Russian, or at least [Russian leader Vladimir] Putin, strategy. So of course our major concern now is whether he will go beyond Crimea.” He added: “This crisis is not just about Ukraine. We see what could be called ‘21st century revisionism’: Attempts to turn back the clock; to draw new dividing lines on the map; to monopolise markets; shuffle populations.” He urged NATO members to increase defence spending.

Austria. SPÖ Youth Leader Lied Over Hitler Salute

Austrian Times reports: The leader of the Social Democrat’s (SPÖ) youth wing in Graz has been convicted of lying and libel after he took a photo of dancing supporters at a far right Freedom party rally which he claimed showed them making a Hitler salute. A court in Graz convicted Sebastian Pay of releasing a photo knowing that it would give the wrong impression, and it gave him a six-month suspended sentence and ordered him to pay a 1,400 Euro fine. The picture was widely republished in Austrian media in advance of the recent general election as a sign that the party had a growing number of neo-Nazi supporters, despite the fact that the freedom party (FPÖ) a day later had managed to provide a video showing that the man and the others around him had been dancing to the music and not making Hitler salutes. The video however only received significant coverage after the election by which point, according to the freedom party, the damage had been done. At the 0.25 second mark on the You Tube video published here the dancing man can clearly be seen.

Troops Of 12 Countries To Hold An Exercise in Bulgaria

Sophia News Agency reports: Land troops of 12 countries will take part in the international military exercise at the Novo Selo range in Bulgaria. Saber Guardian, the largest exercise for this year, starts on Friday and will include 700 troops from Bulgaria, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova, Romania, Serbia, USA, Belgium, Turkey and Ukraine, according to Bulgaria’s Defence Ministry. The main goal is improving regional strategic partnership and NATO compatibility in international operations for dealing with humanitarian crises, peacekeeping and humanitarian aid.

Russian jets buzz Norwegian coast

Norway’s News in English reports: As Norwegian politicians try to balance their indignation and concerns over Russia’s territorial takeover in Crimea with their desire to remain good neighbours, Russian fighter jets continue to fly up and down along Norway’s own territorial border off the north west coast. The regular flights seem aimed at asserting Russia’s growing military presence in the important and resource-rich Arctic, while Norwegian leaders seem intent on avoiding provocation.

Transdniestria may become part of Russia

Pravda reports:  The Supreme Council of the unrecognized republic of Transdniestria appealed to the State Duma of Russia to provide for the possibility of entering the region in Russia in the Russian legislation. After the events in the Crimean Republic the country is under siege. Ukraine imposed restrictions on travel for Russians in Transnistria through its territory. The border was closed for cargo as well. The information was confirmed by Deputy Prime Minister of the Transnistrian Moldovan Republic for International Cooperation, the Minister of Foreign Affairs Nina Shtanski. “Russian citizens are not allowed in Transnistria and are not let out. Transnistria is home to nearly 200,000 Russian citizens, and not all of them can travel and leave the country through Moldova. This means that people are locked on both sides,” said Nina Shtanski… Meanwhile, Vyacheslav Tobuh, the chairman of the Republican movement of Transdniestria “Recognition,” member of the Supreme Council of the TMR, believes that Russia has a legal basis to accept Transdniestria to the Federation. Since there is a declaration of independence, the only thing that needs to be done is recognition of that status, as it was done in Crimea.

Jewish and Muslim women finding common ground

The Jewish Chronicle, UK reports: Addressing 130 Jewish and Muslim women at the Foreign Office, Faith and Communities Minister Baroness Warsi said the religions had more in common than circumcision, ritual slaughter and good food. “Jewish and Muslim women feel that the men run all the organisations in their communities,” she said. “Despite the fact that leg-work goes in from women, when it comes to representation and engagement with government, 99 per cent of the people around the table are men.”  Baroness Warsi hoped that faith-based lobby groups would approach politicians with “women representing these communities”. An interfaith mentoring scheme for women would help break down barriers, she added. “For Jewish women to be mentoring young Muslim girls and successful Muslim women to be mentoring young Jewish girls — that relationship [would] create openness that allows you to have difficult conversations. “When men in the Jewish and Muslim communities get together, they talk about two things — circumcision and shechita. Women would like to talk about leadership so that, in years to come, we could stand back and say we have genuine relationships.”

 Yad Vashem marks 70 years since the destruction of Hungarian Jewry

European Jewish Press reports: Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Memorial and Institute in Jerusalem, hosted Wednesday a march of remembrance with dozens of Holocaust survivors to mark 70 years since the beginning of the mass murder of Hungarian Jewry during the Holocaust.After the march a memorial ceremony took place in the Hall of Remembrance followed by lectures in the Yad Vashem Auditorium and aa symposium commemorating 70 years of the Nazi occupation of Hungary. On April 3, Yad Vashem’s International Institute for Holocaust Research will hold a special symposium focusing on Jewish Hungarians during the Holocaust. The symposium will consist of two sessions: the first one launching the new publication, Conscripted Slaves: Hungarian Jewish Forced Laborers on the Eastern Front during the Second World War, and the second focusing on special aspects of the Holocaust concerning Hungarian Jewry.

Accuracy and impartiality issues in BBC report on Abbas White House visit

BBC Watch, UK reports:BBC Media Watch, UK reports: On March 17th a report appeared on the BBC News website’s Middle East and US & Canada pages under the title “Obama tells Palestinian leader to take risks for peace“. The messaging in that headline was repeated in the article’s opening lines. “US President Barack Obama has told Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas he must take ‘risks’ for peace. Mr Obama told reporters at the White House that the search for a two-state solution remained elusive but he hoped to see progress in the coming weeks.” But did Obama in fact tell Abbas that ‘he’ specifically – as claimed by the BBC – ‘must’ take ‘risks for peace’? Not according to the transcript released by the White House which shows that Obama’s remarks were actually much less explicit and referred to a general need by all sides to ‘take some tough political decisions and risks’ rather than being a demand or an instruction directed towards Abbas in person.

France’s Interior Minister calls for resistance against antisemitism

European Jewish Congress reports: French Interior Minister Manuel Valls told a gathering in Paris in memory of the victims of the terrorist attack on the Jewish school in Toulouse in 2012. Speaking at the gathering organized by the CRIF representative organization of French Jews, an EJC affiliate, Valls said, “We have to resist, resist, resist against this antisemitism. Valls said that antisemitism came from the Far Right but “also feeds off anti-Zionism. It is nourished in our popular neighbourhoods on the ambiguities regarding the State of Israel. We must resist, resist, resist this antisemitism.”

Harriet Sherwood reports on latest target of anti-Zionist witch-hunt: Israeli architects 

CiF Watch, UK reports: As Harriet Sherwood’s days as the Guardian’s Jerusalem correspondent wind down, she’s evidently decided to use her remaining time doing what she does best: legitimizing the most marginal and hypocritical efforts to demonize and delegitimize Israeli Jews. Her latest report focuses on efforts – by some ‘sophisticated’ Brits – to isolate the latest international ‘misfortune’: Israeli architects.

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The United Church of Canada joins the ranks of the asinine

Comment

  God is back as part of politics

By Alan Simons

This past week the United Church of Canada voted to boycott products exported by Israeli settlements on the West Bank. Not to be outdone, in the UK, The Jewish Chronicle reported “the Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks has resigned as patron of an interfaith charity after it circulated an anti-Israel campaign to members and encouraged them to lobby against the country. Lord Sacks said he was unable to continue working with the Wyndham Place Charlemagne Trust after it sent supporters details of an initiative organised by the Quaker Council for European Affairs that attacks European Union trade links with Israel… The campaign aims to stop the EU adopting the agreement and bar Israeli companies from benefiting from preferential relations with the EU.”

It’s been widely noted that Palestinians, who work for Israeli companies based within Israeli settlements, often think less of the political consequences, but rather of how to keep their jobs. One would have thought the United Church of Canada, before making their asinine boycott decision, would have given some thought to the thousands of Palestinians who now might be wondering if they will have a job tomorrow.

As Hisham Jarallah wrote last week in jewishinfoNe.ws:

“The Arab countries continue to impose strict employment restrictions on Palestinians, Israel is opening its doors to Palestinian workers from the West Bank. Palestinians say, in fact, that Israel is becoming one of the largest employers of Palestinians in the Middle East.  Figures released this week by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics in Ramallah showed that at least 80,000 Palestinians were now working in Israel and even in Jewish settlements.  In the first quarter of 2012, according to the bureau, there were only 77,000 Palestinians working in Israel and the settlements. In the second quarter of the ear, the number grew to 80,000; and earlier this week, the Israeli government issued work permits to another 10,000 Palestinians from the West Bank.  The move has been received with a sigh of relief among Palestinians, especially as it comes on the eve of the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr, marking the end of Ramadan.  The figures also showed that Palestinians employed by Israelis earn more than those who work for their Palestinian brethren in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.”

Al Quds 2012 Rally in Toronto Praises United Church of Canada.-Click on this image-

John Micklethwait, Editor of The Economist, in his book, God is Back: How the Global Revival of Faith is Changing the World, looks at the rise of religious sentiment around the world and how it is affecting politics. The United Church of Canada in their quest to eagerly join their international Israel-bashing religious brethren, such as Wyndham Place Charlemagne Trust and the Quaker Council for European Affairs, give credence to Micklethwait’s comments that God is back, that God is back as part of politics.

Martin Luther King in his Nobel Prize acceptance speech (1964) said: “Sooner or later all the people of the world will have to discover a way to live together in peace, and thereby transform this pending cosmic elegy into a creative psalm of brotherhood. If this is to be achieved, man must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love!”

Love and brotherhood? Tell that to the Palestinian about to lose his job through the righteous decision of the United Church of Canada. Amen.

 (Photo credit: the United Church of Canada)

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Response:

The Nazis did it too. “Don’t buy from Jews.” – Max Eisen (Canada)