Mid Week News in Brief: What Others Are Saying

[UN’s] Richard Falk Defends Hamas for Keeping Gilad Shalit “In Good Health”

The latest UN report from Richard Falk, the Boston terror apologist, is outrageous. But just what his UN employers ordered. On the Palestinian Arab – Israeli conflict, Falk advises against “the value of direct negotiations at this time.” And then he rails against Israel’s killing of Hamas “military leader” Ahmed Jabari. Jabari was the Hamas military chief who led the development of the terror organization’s core military abilities in the Gaza Strip. He held Gilad Shalit prisoner for over 5 years and personally released him (following Israel’s agreement to release over a thousand Palestinian prisoners, many of whom were convicted murderers.) From Richard Falk? Israel should be condemned for killing Jabari because he “kept Shalit in good health.” – Human Rights Voices

IRAN: Closure of Tehran’s Largest Persian-Speaking Church

The Central Assemblies of God Church in Tehran was closed last Thursday, May 23rd, due to pressure from Iranian security authorities. The authorities wanted to limit the church service to just the Armenian language, thus preventing any Farsi services from taking place. In another incident on May 21st, security authorities arrested Pastor Robert Asseriyan, one of the leaders of this church, in the middle of a worship service and transferred him to an unknown location. Iran’s Islamic regime has been implementing its anti-Christian agenda for a long time. This includes pressuring church leaders to prevent Farsi speakers from entering their churches, arresting members of the congregation and their pastors, and also closing down churches. Since the raiding of the country’s house churches, many new Christian converts have been arrested and terrorized. – Assist News Service, Mohabat News

[Muslim] Brotherhood leaders slam Turkey protestors

Several Muslim Brotherhood leaders accused Turkish protesters of receiving foreign funds from entities which they claim “want to make the highly successful Islamic project fail”. They said the crisis in Turkey is not really about the development of Taksim Square. The whole issue is part of the war on Islam and an attempt to undermine efforts by Turkey’s Justice and Development Party to complete the Islamic renaissance it has achieved. Hussein Ibrahim, secretary general of the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), said that thrusting the [Muslim] Brotherhood into the Turkish incidents demonstrates that there are people who wish to manipulate internal issues to serve international interests and projects in order to fight everything Islamic even if Turkey “has made unprecedented strides with regards to developments rates and the improvement of citizens’ incomes.” Egypt Independent

Hezbollah fighters preparing for Aleppo offensive

Syrian opposition sources said yesterday that Hezbollah fighters were preparing to launch a major operation against the city of Aleppo in northern Syria. Louay Miqdad, media and political coordinator of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) told Asharq Al-Awsat that more than 4,000 Hezbollah fighters had arrived in the outskirts of Aleppo and were “gathering at the military engineering academy in preparation to enter Aleppo.” More than half of the strategically important city is reported to be under the control of the opposition. The Washington Post reported yesterday that Hezbollah was amassing thousands of its fighters around Aleppo, citing senior commanders from Hezbollah and the FSA on the presence of around 2,000 Hezbollah fighters in the city’s suburbs. Miqdad said: “Hezbollah’s escalation of its operations to include Aleppo proves that the Syrian regime forces are exhausted and need support.” He likened “the regime’s recruitment of Hezbollah fighters to former Libyan leader Gaddafi’s recruitment of African mercenaries,” adding that Hezbollah’s involvement will not change the balance of power in Aleppo, because the opposition forces are well entrenched in their positions. Reports of Hezbollah’s arrival in Aleppo have led many residents to leave the surrounding area. FSA fighters said they had no choice but to “booby-trap buildings in the city in order to stop regime and Hezbollah forces entering them.” – Asharq Al-Awsat, London.

Iraq: Israel can’t use our airspace for striking Iran

Baghdad has warned Israel that it would respond to any attempts by the Jewish state to use Iraqi airspace for a strike against Iran’s controversial nuclear program, a top Iraqi minister told AFP. The remarks from Hussein Shahristani, deputy prime minister responsible for energy affairs, mark the first time a senior Iraqi official has publicly warned Israel against entering its airspace — the most direct route — to hit targets in Iran. Shahristani also said that Iraq had received assurances from Washington that the United States would not use its airspace to attack Iran, which Western powers believe is trying to develop a nuclear weapon. Tehran has repeatedly denied the claim. “The (Americans) have assured us that they will never violate Iraqi airspace or Iraqi sovereignty by using our airspace to attack any of our neighbors,” Shahristani said in an interview in his office in Baghdad’s heavily-fortified Green Zone. “We have also warned Israel that if they violate Iraqi airspace, they will have to bear the consequences.” – Arab News, Saudi Arabia.

Combating Antisemitism at the UN

It is opening week of another session of the UN’s top human rights body, the UN Human Rights Council, and antisemitism will once again be promoted around the globe via an organization built on the ashes of the Jewish people and sworn to hatred’s eradication. In March of last year, Israel decided not to cooperate with a UN ‘human rights’ establishment that promises equality and delivers discrimination. Under heavy pressure from the Obama administration and European governments not to spotlight the dark antisemitic underbelly of UN “human rights” operations, however, Israel is considering reversing this decision. Without fundamental reform, such an unfortunate about-turn by Israel would be a major boost to Israel’s delegitimizers. The cornerstone of every credible human rights institution is equality. Israel can and must articulate clearly identifiable sources of inequality that can be fixed – if the commitment to universal human rights standards is bona fide. The UN Human Rights Council can modify its agenda to place Israel under the same item as all other states. The mandate of the Council special investigator on Israel can be changed to require reporting on the human rights abuses of all parties to the Arab-Israeli conflict. Western states in Geneva can end the exclusion of Israel from its regional group and abide by the UN Charter’s promise of the equality of all nations, large and small. A global vehicle for modern antisemitism or a human rights instrument? The ball should not be in Israel’s court. – Human Rights Voices

Hamas ‘surviving’ without Iranian aid

Islamist group’s departure from the ‘Axis of Resistence’ did not hasten reconciliation with Fatah. Healing the internal Palestinian rift seems to be unachievable despite the impact of the serious reduction in Iranian financial aid to Hamas and the departure of the Islamist group’s headquarters out of Syria. The latest issue of contention between Hamas and Fatah is Palestinian National Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s move to appoint a new prime minister to fill the vacuum left with the resignation of caretaker premier Salam Fayyad. Hamas rulers in Gaza pay the salaries of 50,000 workers and troops, which presents a financial hardship for the Islamist group similar to that faced by the Ramallah-based Palestinian National Authority. “Hamas can handle the financial difficulties and compensate for the Iranian financial aid with a strict tax system, the tunnel trade, and financial aid from some Arab states,” said Hani Habib, a Gaza-based commentator and political analyst in an interview with Gulf News. – Gulf News, UAE.

(Photo credits:  consortiumnews | tlvfaces | UNHRC)

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“The North American disillusion with Israel is in many ways an honest recognition that Israel has not become the state of our dreams.”

Alan Simons

MARCH 15, 2010.  – There have been very few occasions that jewishinfoNews has had the opportunity to publish an article by a rabbi. Bearing in mind the current depressing state of relations between President Obama’s government and the State of Israel, this is one of those rare instances that give us some grounds to think about, as Rabbi Strauchler refers to, the need for a “new type of North American Zionism.”

Rabbi Chaim Strauchler joined Toronto’s Shaarei Shomayim Congregation, a modern orthodox community, in August 2008. He is the first alumnus of Yeshiva University to be selected as a Rhodes Scholar. He holds a master’s degree in religious studies and a diploma in theology from Oxford University.

Rabbi Strauchler acknowledges his “grave concerns about what North American support for Israel will look like in the years to come.” He states: “Many North Americans are finding it more and more difficult to support Israel. This is not merely a function of accusations of racism in the media and on campus but a growing discomfort and fatigue for the state and its persistent conflicts.”

This is what he had to say in a recent article published in his synagogue’s magazine.

The New North American Zionism

Rabbi Chaim Strauchler

Support for the State of Israel has been one of the abiding themes of Shaarei Shomayim’s history. Be it in 1948, 1967, or 1973 – the members of Shaarei Shomayim have stood with Israel at its times of need. From Israel Bond appeals, the community wide assembly on behalf of Jerusalem with Natan Sharansky, or the continued work of our Israel Action Committee – we have demonstrated as a synagogue how important Israel is to our religious identity.

As a shepherd of this legacy, I have grave concerns about what North American support for Israel will look like in the years to come. Many North Americans are finding it more and more difficult to support Israel. This is not merely a function of accusations of racism in the media and on campus but a growing discomfort and fatigue for the state and its persistent conflicts.

We were reminded of this on October 16, 2009 when the United Nations Human Rights Council voted to adopt the Goldstone Report. Judge Richard Goldstone’s report condemning Israel for Operation Cast Lead has done terrible harm to Israel’s international image. The fact that the UNHRC decided to condemn Israel alone despite Goldstone’s protestations that his report found war crimes on both sides of the conflict belies the biased nature of the entire process. This report is deeply flawed for many reasons. Goldstone did not receive Israeli cooperation in his investigation. Goldstone saw this refusal as a declaration of “no contest.” As a result, Goldstone made findings of fact based on evidence provided by Palestinian accounts alone. Despite the obviously biased nature of this testimony, he and his fellow investigators made little or no effort to corroborate these claims.

Yet, the commission’s accusations are serious and disturbing Israel should carefully examine any allegations of misconduct by its soldiers. However, it should not do so as a function of a biased UNHRC investigation and thereby give succour to its detractors.

These accusations contradict everything we know about Israel. As George Gilder’s new book The Israel Test argues, the accusations say more about the accuser than they say about Israel. Israel is hated because Israel is successful, because Israel is free, and because Israel is good. Wherever Jews are free to invent and create, they achieve prominence – sparking envy and resentment. We know Israel is not perfect – but we know that Israel is not just a good country but also a great country.

To many North American Jewish eyes, Israel’s founding was a Utopia. Zionism was the answer to anti-Semitism. The model Jewish state would prove wrong all the hatred through the ages. Once the Jews were a people like all others – and no longer strangers in another’s land – anti-Semitism would disappear.

“That dream has turned out to be false.”

A new anti-Semitism thrives: the state that was meant to end anti-Semitism is now its focus. The hate for the Jews has developed into hate for the state of the Jews. The success of Jewish statehood – the creativity and innovation tracked by recent books like Start Up Nation – only further the envy and hate towards our people.

The North American disillusion with Israel is in many ways an honest recognition that Israel has not become the state of our dreams – a quick fulfillment of our redemption – but instead a reality of “this-worldly” proportions. The road to salvation remains long and arduous. Israel is an imperfect country and therefore a real country.

If I were to describe our age – we live in an Isaac era. There are periods of Jewish history with great innovation and great hope – where basic assumptions about what it means to be Jewish change and anything seems possible – these I call Abraham eras. Then there are times of consolidation – when facts-on-the-ground are consolidated and grand hopes become more modest realities. These I would call Isaac eras – periods requiring a gevurah – a strength and perseverance to make the gains of earlier eras concrete and lasting. It is not for us to value one age over the other – but each era require a different response from us as members of the Jewish people.

We must not lose faith – we must not become disheartened. For a North American who travels to Israel expecting an amusement park of religious experience, the magnitude of Israel’s “problems” often can dishearten. Many of us would try to maintain the illusion of perfection – to sugar coat what is the hard reality of Jewish existence. One day the rose-coloured glasses will come off, and when they do, what then?

For some – it leads to opposition to Israel. Much has been said about Jewish leadership of anti-Israel groups on campus. For most – it leads to neglect for Israel all together. They turn off the television. It just doesn’t matter to them anymore. If it’s not exciting – if it’s not inspirational – we don’t care.

That’s wrong.

“We must know and love Israel as it is – not for what we might like it to be for our needs.”

Jews are not perfect people. The Torah is a book that can be used for good; and yet, all too often, it is twisted into a tool for abuse. Israel is not always right. And – nevertheless we must love it and defend it because it is ours – and the people who live, work, and die for it are our family. Israel is a great country – with real problems – but a great country nevertheless.

What I am advocating is a new type of North American Zionism. Its principle acts are not limited to Israel parades and Bond drives. This new North American Zionism requires us to be honest about Israel’s faults just as we speak of its merits. It requires us to speak out against the new anti- Semitism – as Doctors Against Racism and Anti-Semitism (a group founded by a number of local doctors) does. It requires a confidence in the existence of Israel warts and all. It requires us to engage in addressing the social and economic ills of this state. Most of all it replaces the Utopian dream and its attendant disillusionment with an appreciation for what is a tremendous and imperfect blessing – an autonomous and fractious Jewish state.

Rabbi Chaim Strauchler joined Toronto’s Shaarei Shomayim Congregation, a modern orthodox community, in August 2008. He is the first alumnus of Yeshiva University to be selected as a Rhodes Scholar. He holds a master’s degree in religious studies and a diploma in theology from Oxford University

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-UNHRC: A Complete Fraud


The UNHRC: A History of Hypocrisy

JUNE 3, 2008 –  The UN Human Rights Council (HRC) has once again proven itself to be a complete sham. During last week’s General Assembly elections, the UN selected 15 countries to serve three-year terms within the HRC. Of those 15 new member States, five—Pakistan, Bahrain, Burkina Faso, Gabon and Zambia—have come under fire for human rights violations.

These five countries are not the only questionable members with seats on the Human Rights Council, however. More than one third of the HRC member States (16 of 47) are members of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), which has a spotty record on human rights issues. Five of the 16 OIC members with seats in the HRC (Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Egypt and Indonesia) were listed in the ICC 2008 Hall of Shame report as being among the world’s worst persecutors of Christians. Crimes against Christians have included forced conversion to Islam, detainment, arrests, imprisonment, rape and murder.

The OIC members of the Human Rights Council have a disturbing history of protecting the rights and beliefs of Muslims, while pointedly ignoring the plight of Christians who are victims of Islamic jihad. In March, for example, the OIC members drafted and passed a UN-sanctioned resolution that calls for the reporting of all instances of defamation of religions, and “in particular [emphasis added-where is the emphasis? I don’t see it] on the serious implications of Islamaphobia.” In reality, this resolution is a cleverly-disguised attempt by Muslim countries to extend repressive blasphemy laws to the entire world. In response to such events as the Danish cartoon “crisis,” Muslim countries want the rest of the world to abide by the same laws against insulting Muhammad or the Quran that are currently in force in places like Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. When it comes to defaming other religions, however, such as Christianity or Buddhism, Muslim countries show no signs of tolerance.

Here are just a few recent examples that prove the hypocrisy of the resolution—and the council that enforced it:

1) In the resolution, the HRC states that it “deplores the use of the print, audio-visual and electronic media, including the internet, and any other means to incite acts of violence, xenophobia or related intolerance and discrimination towards Islam or any religion.” Saudi Arabia (a member of OIC and the HRC) apparently has no qualms about using the media to incite intolerance and discrimination, however.

On March 30, leading Saudi cleric Muhammad Al-Munajid conducted an interview on Al-Majd TV, in which he called Westerners and journalists “lowlifes” and “fools and heretics” and spoke of the danger of people turning to Christianity and Buddhism if given too much freedom. He said that freedom “is very dangerous.”

2) The HRC resolution claims to “strongly deplore physical attacks and assaults on businesses, cultural centers and places of worship of all religions as well as targeting of religious symbols,” but a number of HRC member States are guilty of such attacks.

The Indonesian Human Rights Commission recently stated that violence against churches is “common in the provinces of West Java, Banten, Central Java, South Sulawesi and Bengkulu.” Furthermore, in Pakistan, mob attacks on churches have become routine. A church graveyard was destroyed just last week, and in March, a mob attacked a church and injured the pastor and a number of parishioners. During the attack, the Muslim attackers reportedly insulted Jesus Christ. Four days earlier, an unknown assailant had slashed the throat of a nun. The government itself might not be responsible for the attacks, but they are certainly failing taking action to prevent them.

These are just a few of the numerous examples of violence and discrimination that Christians face in the very countries that have been elected to the UN Human Rights Council. And until the UN stops electing countries that ignore the human rights violations in their own backyards, the UN Human Rights Council will continue to be a complete fraud.

Source: International Christian Concern’s “Crossing the Bridge” June 3, 2008