The intense abomination of Jews continues to develop speed.

Sunday chitchat

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

      by Alan Simons

In a remarkable email sent today to his subscribers, David Harris, Executive Officer of American Jewish Committee (AJC) a Jewish advocacy group established on November 11, 1906, and one of the oldest Jewish advocacy organizations, made an extraordinary claim. “The world’s oldest hatred is back with a vengeance.” He is, of course, referring to antisemitism. To refer to the fact that it is back means that it went away for a while and has now returned, a suggestion I highly dispute.

I’m sure the respected Dutch group CASW (Combat Anti Semitism Worldwide) would share my opinion. CASW started in 2002 as a mailing list administrated by Magenta Foundation, with a purpose to monitor antisemitism and its effects globally and generically by sharing news and information, to share info on the effects of antisemitism in our communities and countries around the world. Since its inception, the list generated some 7000 postings and has now migrated to Facebook as a group. I recommend you give some consideration to joining this group.

Magenta is an independent organization that operates from Amsterdam and works towards an inclusive society in the Netherlands, Europe and globally. Shortly after being established, Magenta was the first organization in the world that dedicated itself to combat discrimination on the Internet. Magenta also hosts the secretariat of the International Network Against Cyber ​​Hate (INACH). By now, organizations in 20 countries participate in this network, each in their own way denouncing cyber hate, protecting the rights of all Internet users and promoting respect between people.

Antisemitism, let’s be more direct and refer to the term as the intense abomination of Jews, has through the Internet, given the Jew-haters among us ample opportunity to show their true feelings. Egged on in recent years by the Trumptwits, the Gallowayites and the Corbynites, to name a few, there is much to be concerned about. We only have to look at what CASW has recently uncovered:

In the USA, Washington DC: “Officials are considering providing separate trains for white nationalists attending the Unite The Right rally in Washington D.C. on August 12 to avoid conflict with counter-protesters, according to reports. Metro’s largest union, Amalgamated Transit Union Local 689, said at least three private trains are to be organized for a hate group affiliated with the Ku Klux Klan to Foggy Bottom Metro Station before they are escorted by police to Lafayette Park for the rally.”

In the USA:  In an article by Hannah Rosenthal, “As a former Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism (SEAS) for the State Department, I remain concerned that for the past 18 months, this post has been vacant. The absence of a Special Envoy makes the media’s role in spotlighting outbreaks of hatred and antisemitism even more vital. This is why I was deeply alarmed to see the New York Times downplay and whitewash a neo-Nazi gang in a recent article about Ukraine.”

In Austria: “A group of Austrian middle-school students are under investigation for play-acting as Nazi SS members and Jews after watching a film in which an anti-fascist social experiment gets out of hand, a prosecution spokesman confirmed Thursday. The incidents occurred as the 13- and 14-year-olds were learning about World War II and National Socialism at their school in Zurndorf in eastern Austria, the children’s lawyer Andreas Schweitzer told dpa.”

In Germany: “A strange cult called the Reichsbürger, or ‘citizens of the Reich,’ is emerging in Germany, and it’s raising alarm bells with its far-right views and love of guns. Reports out of Germany suggest that the group has between 15,000 and 18,000 members, around 1,200 of whom are believed to have obtained firearms legally. German media reported that the group’s membership grew by around 56 per cent last year and that the organization is attempting to form an army.”

In the UK: “The Labour Party has been accused of ‘undermining’ the fight against antisemitism by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, who criticised Labour’s decision to amend their official definitions and examples of antisemitism.”

In Romania: “Antisemitic Graffiti Causes Little Outrage in Romania. Antisemitic graffiti sprayed on Auschwitz survivor and Nobel Prize winner Elie Wiesel’s memorial house in northern Romania sparked international outrage, but caused little reaction from Romanian politicians.”

In France: “They Spit When I Walked in the Street: The ‘New Antisemitism’ in France.”

In Greece, referring to the recent fires caused by the high temperatures: “The Rothschilds burnt us with laser rays’ (blaming the Rothschilds for the recent fires).”

In Denmark: “Danish prosecutors charged an imam with calling for the killing of Jews in the first case of its kind in the Nordic nation.

In conclusion, perhaps the following quotation attributed to Louis Farrakhan, a man deemed antisemitic by the Anti-Defamation League says it all: “The Jews don’t like Farrakhan, so they call me Hitler. Well, that’s a good name. Hitler was a very great man.”

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Iran’s military and political leaders: How high will they jump?

Iranian’s head honchos should remember Shakespeare’s words: “A fool thinks himself to be wise, but a wise man knows himself to be a fool.” What are you?

 by Alan Simons

If there’s been one American individual over the years that has clearly taken to task the United States’ foreign policy, credit must be given to Richard Nathan Haas, president of the Council on Foreign Relations since July 2003, prior to which he was Director of Policy Planning for the United States Department of State and a close advisor to Secretary of State Colin Powell.

Haas most clearly outlined his foreign policy views in his book The Reluctant Sheriff (1997), in which he argued that the United States should play the role of international sheriff.  He said, “maintaining international order often means ‘assuming the role of international sheriff, one who forges coalitions or posses of states and others for specific tasks,’ Haas writes (Haas 1997). While Haas argued that the approach would largely benefit the international system, he also made it clear that he intended for the United States to play the role of international sheriff to pursue its own preferences for the world. In the years ahead, “what will prove crucial is the ability of the United States to persuade others to adopt and abide by its preferences – and the will and the ability of the United States to act as a sheriff, to mobilize itself and others to insist on them when resistance emerges,” Haas notes (Haas 1997). ‘”

Iran, the real choices. Losing face is not particularly one of Iran’s more favourable characteristics.

Eight years ago, on April 19, 2010, Haas, in a statement as the President, Council on Foreign Relations, made it adamantly clear to the Obama administration their initial approach toward Iran was wrong. This is what he had to say on the matter:

Gates’s Welcome Take on Iran Realities

      Richard N. Haas

The “Gates memo”–a classified memorandum written by Secretary of Defense Robert Gates in January [2010], arguing to his senior colleagues that the administration needs to develop a more effective  policy for dealing with Iran’s nuclear progress–marks a significant signpost in the evolution of President Barack Obama’s national security policy and presidency.

The Obama administration’s initial approach toward Iran emphasized negotiations, but there is no evidence Iran is prepared to accept meaningful limits on its nuclear activities. The United States is working to gain UN Security Council approval of new sanctions, but while the symbolism of a common international front is welcome, the substance will not have much effect. The price of gaining Chinese and Russian support is delay and dilution. A second set of sanctions, more biting and more focused on the Revolutionary Guard, should be cobbled together quickly by those countries willing to sign on. And the United States should keep exploring what can be done to bolster Iran’s internal opposition.

But the reality is that these measures are unlikely to accomplish the goal of halting (much less reversing) Iran’s nuclear program. Three sets of actions are needed. First, the United States should take the steps that would allow it to enforce tough sanctions, such as a ban on Iranian oil exports and refined oil imports. Second, the United States should develop plans for the use of military force in an effort to set back Iran’s nuclear program and weaken the government. Third, the United States should assess the pros and cons of an alternative or a fallback: a “North Korean” strategy, in which there would be an implicit acceptance of an Iranian nuclear weapon (or something close to it) that would involve deterrence of Iran and defence for its neighbours. All planning should anticipate Iranian retaliation and what would be needed from Saudis and others to stabilize energy markets.

The Gates memo is right to focus attention on the real choices. In the end, it is Iran, far more than Afghanistan or Iraq or even Pakistan, that is likely to prove the most significant strategic decision and challenge for the forty-fourth president.

“Iran is able to build a plant for every field of nuclear program . . . this issue is not reversible.”

                Heshmatollah Falahatpishe

In September 2009, Heshmatollah Falahatpishe, (seen here on the right) member of Majlis the national security and foreign policy commission, said that construction of a new uranium enrichment plant indicated that Iran’s nuclear program is in progress on schedule,  in spite of political pressures.  He added, Iran is able to build a plant for every field of nuclear program, because, “we have gained access to the nuclear technology and this issue is not reversible, a fact that has already been acknowledged by IAEA analysts.” The MP added unlike Libya and Iraq, who bought nuclear technology in the markets, Iran, upon its own ability, has turned threats to an opportunity. (IRNA).

How much of what Falahatpishe had to say at the time would have been poo-pooed by the Obama administration as pure grandstanding is open to further debate. But, it is interesting to note that in 2016 Falahatpishe survived an assassination attempt in Kermanshah Province in the west of the country, Iranian news agencies reported. Falahatpishe sustained minor injuries but a local official and their driver were killed when gunmen opened fire on their vehicle, the reports said. Falahatpishe survived and today he is the Head of Iran’s all-powerful Parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Commission.

Which brings me to Iran in 2018. Today, it’s military and senior political head honchos continue to put on a brave appearance to outsiders. After all, losing face is not particularly one of Iran’s more favourable characteristics.

First, let’s look at their military.

As I reported in jewishinfoNews in May 2018, “Iran’s military has major problems. The Iranian regime revealed last month that 2,100 Iranians have been killed fighting in Syria the past few years, more than double the previous death toll announced 16 months ago… “As a proportion of the population, that is a greater loss than the United States has suffered in all its wars in the Middle East since the start of the century… “Iran has said it does not send combat troops to Syria, only military advisers, most of whom are Pasdar officers… “Given that the United States has four times the population of Iran, the Iranian losses in Syria are proportionately about a quarter greater than the US losses throughout the region this century.”

Secondly, the economic turmoil and protests taking place throughout all sectors of society in Iran are now increasing on a day-to-day basis. This week alone, reports include the following:

Labor Minister impeached

The Iranian parliament has given a no-confidence vote to Labor Minister Ali Rabeei on Tuesday. Rabeei was impeached by 129 to 111 votes. This gives Rouhani three months to find a replacement. As Iran’s economy has worsened in recent months, the Iranian regime and particularly hardliners have tried to portray Hassan Rouhani’s economic team as being mainly responsible for the increasing hardships that Iranians face. In an interview before his impeachment, Rabeei had said the U.S. sanctions would increase economic pressures and until March 2019 one million jobs would be lost. (International Institute for Iranian Studies).

People’s rage building up

This editorial deals with Iran’s dire economy and people’s rage against reformists in this regard. The editorialist begins by saying that Iranian people have had it up to here with skyrocketing prices, corruption, and the government’s inefficiencies. People have repeatedly voiced their hope in reformists, voting for them in elections. However, reformists have not been able to find a solution to their problems, and people can no longer wait for a change in relation to this particular point. The editorial then zeroes in on President Hassan Rouhani and the role he and his administration play in creating unrest in society. Rouhani has become involved with those in his milieu who have no reasonable, organized relations with society and their political base. Neither can they pave the way for Rouhani to get connected with people. All things considered, people expect reformists to speak their mind candidly and with clarity under current conditions. In the end, the editorialist claims that the only way out is reform, but it is really getting late. An editorial in Mostaghal on August 7, 2018

Protests continue

Popular protests hit several cities in Iran on Saturday night. [August 4, 2018]. Along with confirming the death of a protestor in the city of Karaj, the city’s officials declared the implicit martial law in the city. Film footages sent to VOA show that at least in the cities of Tehran, Karaj, Shiraz, Qom, and Eshtehard, people held demonstrations on Saturday night. Fars news agency, affiliated with IRGC, announced that an individual was shot dead in Friday night protests in Karaj. This is the first death in the new round of demonstrations in cities of Iran. In December protests, at least 23 people were killed in more than 80 cities of Iran. In Tehran, protesters chanted: “Iranians will die, but will not accept humiliation” and “Death to Dictator!” VOA

Released footages in social networks indicate that gatherings and protests have continued in Tehran, Karaj, Shiraz, Qom, and Eshtehard. In footages related to demonstrations in Tehran, the protesters chanted: “Iranians will die, but will not accept humiliation,” “Iranians must show their courage,” “Death to Dictator,” and “Courageous Iranians, Support us.” In another footage, the narrator says: “Here everybody is exhausted. They all have wives and children and are under injustice. Here everybody has a lot of debts. Look, we are all together. We are exhausted. We all want freedom.” In Karaj, the protesters chanted: “Shame on you, Khamenei; let go of the country” and “Law enforcement, support us!” The new round of street protests in Iran started following the plunge in the value of the national currency, critical economic conditions, high prices, and daily increase in the price of foreign currency and gold coin. But in recent days, the protesters’ main slogans have been against the supreme leader, the regime, and the clerics. Radio Farda

Currency deputy of Central Bank arrested

Judiciary system spokesperson Gholamhossein Ejei said the currency deputy of the Central Bank, who was recently removed from his position, was arrested. He added that in dealing with cases of disruptors in the country’s financial system and currency, three individuals would be soon going to courts after issuing their indictments. Meanwhile, 20 lawmakers wrote a letter to the head of the judiciary, asking him to ban former governor of the Central Bank, Valiollah Seif, from leaving the country. Fars news agency

How much of what Richard Haas had to say in 2010 reflects on the Trump administration’s decision in 2018 to pulverize Iran by means of military pressure and especially by economic sanctions, is admittedly, on the onset, having a dent in Iran.

However, Holly Dagres, an Iran analyst and curator of The Iranist newsletter in a recent interview with Deutsche Welle said she, “believes that the Iranians will continue to pursue their political agenda in the region, in spite of renewed American pressure. After decades of international isolation, Iran has managed to circumvent sanctions in numerous ways, whether by working the middleman, the black market, or trading with countries that the American sanctions enforcement agency OFAC cannot reach. If Iran wants something to be done, it will find a way, Dagres concluded.”

Which in conclusion brings me to a quote I’ve used previously. There’s a well-known wise Persian proverb: “Risk – If one has to jump a stream and knows how wide it is, he will not jump. If he doesn’t know how wide it is, he’ll jump and six times out of ten he’ll make it.”

Iranians are an educated and proud people and in that, I would ask their leaders to remember Shakespeare’s words: “A fool thinks himself to be wise, but a wise man knows himself to be a fool.” What are you?

Alan Simons is the publisher and editor of jewishinfoNews. Comments to this article are accepted.

Partial content in this article is credited to Wikipedia. Photo credit: Flickr.

Jews in Scotland prepare to batten down the hatches

Special Report

“The International Shalom Festival is an initiative of COFIS, the Confederation of Friends of Israel Scotland, together with its partner organization StandWithUs.
The inspiration comes from Shalom Festival held in Belgium every year http://shalomfestival.be/index.html which believes that Shalom, or Peace, can only be achieved if it is based on democracy and Judeo-Christian principles of respect for co-existence. The International Shalom Festival seeks to promote peaceful co-existence by fostering cultural ties between diverse elements of Israeli society and other countries.”

-Nigel Goodrich
Chief Executive

Background:

Shalom Festival Edinburgh rev“The inaugural International Shalom Festival will take place in the prestigious 1000 seater Central Hall Edinburgh on Wednesday August 17 2016. It is probably the most significant pro-Israel advocacy event of the year in the United Kingdom, and is an integral part of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

From the publisher of jewishinfoNews. The following article by David Collier was originally published by Beyond the Great Divide and republished with permission by jewishinfoNews on July 31, 2016.

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August is festival month in Edinburgh. A massive celebration, delivered through a collective of independent arts and cultural festivals. Just one of these, the ‘Edinburgh Festival Fringe’, is the largest arts festival in the world.

At the ‘Fringe’ event this year, scheduled for August 17, is the ‘International Shalom Festival’. Described as a one-day celebration bringing together Jews, Arabs, Christians and other minorities, that all co-exist together peacefully in Israel. Yet once again, as Israeli artists perform inside Scotland, demonstrations are being arranged in protest.

Edinburgh protests

As far back as 1997, during the Oslo peace talks, antizionists attacked Israeli performers at the festival. In 2008 the Jerusalem Quartet concert was disrupted, in 2012 it was the turn of the Batsheva Dance Troupe. In 2014, anti-Israel activists called on the venue to cancel a show with Israeli performers, and local police forced the venue to incur additional security costs. In turn, the venue demanded additional funds from the performers.

So in 2015, Haaretz reported that for the first time in years, Israeli performances were not hosted at the festival at all.  This silencing of the Israeli voice is celebrated as a victory by the anti-Israel activists. The voice that seeks dialogue and accommodation is being silenced.

The festival is not the only place in Scotland such opposition is seen, less than two years ago a worker at an Israeli cosmetics stall in Glasgow had a ‘burning liquid’ thrown at her. The university space is also rabid, with events being called off due to protests, and Jewish students at universities are “denying or hiding” their identity because of discrimination. These events, including the protests at Edinburgh, are all connected.

Yet here is a simple fact. Israel is by far the most diverse nation in the Middle East. Despite the accusations of the protesters, there is not a single nation in the region that is as free, as democratic, as liberal or as diverse as Israel. Not one. What else sets it apart from all of its neighbours though, is another simple fact. It is the only nation in the world that is Jewish.

According to the 2011 census, there are just under 6000 Jews currently living in Scotland and this year marks 200 years since the first Jewish congregation was founded, ironically in Edinburgh. But in reality, how welcome are the Jews in Scotland? When I use the word ‘welcome’, I don’t refer to the lack of a Hitlerite doctrine, or wish to gauge whether gangs of antisemites seek out symbols that adorn Jewish houses to begin targeting the inhabitants. I simply ask how free are Jewish people to celebrate their Jewish identity publicly?

Zionism

Which brings me back to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. The protesters suggest that Israeli money is funding the Shalom Festival and then embark on a sickening exercise to follow ‘Jewish money’, from the organisers back to the embassy of the only democratic nation in the Middle East.

So what is this protest, anti-Israel or anti-Jewish? Well primarily, it is clear that the protest is anti-peace. The essence of the Shalom Festival is co-operation, the diverse and inclusive nature of Israel. And support for dialogue, the underpinnings of the international position over a two state solution. What the protesters are standing against isn’t a settlement or Israeli army action, but rather a core element of Jewish belief – Zionism. The very existence of Israel.

There are two connected elements to Zionism, the religious and the political. Zionism is on almost every page of the Jewish bible, the land of Israel, the national home of the Jews. Carried with them throughout centuries of persecution, the religious aspect became political reality as Israel was founded as a state in 1948.  A fundamental shift in Jewish history.

93% of UK Jews believe that Israel plays a part in their Jewish identity, 90% believe in Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state. Let me put this into perspective. Proportionally more UK Jews identify Israel as being part of their Jewish identity than UK Christians go to church, UK Muslims eat Halal or UK Jews who eat kosher. As a statistic, it would be hard to find any element of any religion that is as prevailing as the Jewish/Israel connection.

Antisemitism

If a nation boycotted all Easter celebrations it would be considered religious persecution, so too banning or restricting the sale of Halal meat. Thus, although the theoretical opposition to the existence of a Jewish state may not cross the line, in actually boycotting the state of Israel and calling for its destruction, we are witnessing clear antisemitism in our midst. No surprise then, that the Jews become intimidated, frightened and unable to display their identity in public.

To counter this, the antizionists create a smokescreen around Zionism. Turning it from the realisation of national identity, into a description of some of Israel’s actions beyond the 1967 lines. They then use the small minority, the 7%, wherever they find them, to deflect all accusations they are being antisemitic. Illan Pappe, Ronnie Barkan, Max Blumenthal, can be no more legitimately used to strike against Israel, than you would find support for using a strange Christian sub group who deny the existence of Jesus. Their very use is an antisemitic act. Only with the Jews, only with Israel, do the 7% get given a microphone, a stage and finance.

To be an antizionist is to reject not just the religious and national elements of Zionism, but to reject international law, denounce democracy and side with the misogynistic, anti-liberal, anti-democratic, antisemitic neighbours that even today, seek to remove Israel from the map. Israel is the only nation in the region where all religions practice freely, the only one with a growing Christian population.

You can oppose Israeli political actions, you can support the Palestinian right to a state, and you can support Israel’s right to live in peace. This isn’t an either/or. Even terror groups such as the IRA in seeking an united Ireland, did not seek to destroy England. When it comes to pushing radical extremism, these protesters are off the map. They should not be allowed the unchallenged air of the mainstream. They have to be opposed.

Stand up and be counted


These people need support, this peace festival needs support. If we are ever to see real peace between Israel and all its neighbours, then we have to start supporting those movements that seek accommodation, negotiation, peace. The International Shalom festival is such an event.

We are a free society and we cannot stop a public protest in Edinburgh. What we can do is marginalise it, by highlighting the side that stands up for our values, those of peace, freedom, democracy. We need to stand by those who offer the promise of peace and reject those who beat the drums of perpetual war.

This Shalom Festival in Edinburgh needs your support. It promises to be an invigorating, fascinating insight into the life of Israelis and the vibrant diverse democracy that exists there. If you cannot make it, or will not be at the festival at all, it needs your vocal support, pass on the event details to your friends, bring it to the attention of others.

And if you are a politician, if you are the leader of the Scottish National Party, you need to choose what type of Scotland you wish to represent. So to Nicola Sturgeon I say this: You clearly want Scotland to be an independent Nation. So you need to stand up and publicly state that this festival, this inclusive celebration of diverse culture, is open to everyone. You need to give the International Shalom Festival your support. Don’t you think you need to show us just what type of independent Scotland the Jews can expect? Or are Scotland’s Jews only protected by Westminster?

So Nicola, are Jews welcome at the Edinburgh festival? Not shadows of Jews, scared to express their identity, looking over their shoulder, worried about what they can and cannot say for fear of persecution. But real Jews, proud, Zionist, Israeli flag waving Jews. Jews that are free to walk in the light. Are they welcome?

Do Jews in Scotland really have to hide every time they wish to celebrate the vibrant democracy that is Israel? Will you really accept the denial of such a fundamental part of their Jewish identity?

Your move.

(Text and Photo credits: StandWithUS; Just Giving; eurojewcong.com; Shalom Festival)

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SEVENTY YEARS LATER -

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