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November 26, 2010

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U.S. Warns Israel of WikiLeaks Release of Classified Cables - Barak Ravid (Ha'aretz)
    The U.S. has informed Israel's Foreign Ministry that the whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks was planning on releasing hundreds of thousands of American diplomatic cables, some of which might deal with Israel-America relations.
    The cables involve internal correspondence between American diplomats that do not always reflect the official position of the U.S.
    The Americans said that if there was embarrassment, it was important for Israel to know that this was not their intention.
    The U.S. State Department also approached several other countries to warn them of the release of the classified cables.

    See also Report: Wikileaks Documents Show Turkey Helped Al-Qaeda (AP-Jerusalem Post)
    Wikileaks is planning to release files that show Turkey has helped al-Qaeda in Iraq, according to the London-based daily Al-Hayat.
    One of the documents, a U.S. military report, charges Turkey with failing to control its borders, because Iraqi citizens residing in Turkey provided al-Qaeda with supplies to build bombs, guns and ammunition.

Canada Skipping UN Racism "Hatefest" Again (Canadian Press-Toronto Star)
    Canada will not attend the UN's "Durban III" conference on racism next year, Immigration Minister Jason Kenney said Thursday.
    "Our government has lost faith in the Durban process," Kenney said. "Canada will not participate in this charade. We will not lend our good name to this Durban hatefest....The Durban process commemorates an agenda that actually promotes racism rather than combats it."
    Canada and other countries walked out of the 2001 meeting in South Africa after Iran and several countries began ganging up on Israel, and it led a boycott of Durban II in Geneva last year, where Iranian President Ahmadinejad railed against the Jewish state.

180,000 Palestinians Treated in Israeli Hospitals Last Year - Tamara Shavit (Israel Defense Forces)
    "Up until September 2000, a Ramallah resident could have taken his car and driven to Ichilov Hospital [in Israel]," Commander of the Judea and Samaria Division Brig.-Gen. Nitzan Alon told a conference on humanitarian medicine on Nov. 22 in Jerusalem. "From September 2000 we've been in a state of terror. Hundreds were killed, Jews and Palestinians alike." But today, he says, stability has been restored.
    Dr. Tawfik Nasr, Director of the Augusta Victoria Hospital in Jerusalem and coordinator of all hospitals in east Jerusalem, described the example of patients coming from Gaza to be treated in Jerusalem, sometimes over a period of three to four months. They are housed in a special hotel on the Mount of Olives.
    Dalia Basa, medical coordinator of the Israeli Civil Administration, reported that last year 180,000 Palestinians entered Israel to receive treatment.

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Valley of the Wolves: Palestine - Michael Rubin (National Review)
    In Turkish movie theaters, the trailer for "Valley of the Wolves: Palestine" is being shown ahead of the film's release in January. The plot is the dispatch of a Turkish hit team to take revenge on the Jews for the flotilla incident.
    The first "Valley of the Wolves" movie, which some of Prime Minister Erdogan's advisers financed and which his wife instructed all Turks to see, was deeply anti-American and anti-Semitic, depicting the Iraq War as motivated by the desire of Jewish Americans to sell Iraqi body parts to Israel.
    Meanwhile, Turks readily acknowledge how Erdogan's temper tantrum at Davos last year, in which he berated Israeli President Shimon Peres, was anything but spontaneous. After Erdogan's tantrum, thousands gathered at Istanbul airport waving Palestinian flags to greet Erdogan at 3 a.m.
    Putting aside questions about how Turks magically find Palestinian flags at 3 a.m., an employee of a company doing work on the Istanbul metro related how he got word - before Erdogan's appearance - that the metro would be open until 4 a.m. that day and would not close at midnight as normal.
    How long will it be until President Obama recognizes that Prime Minister Erdogan is no friend but rather seeks to translate incitement into political popularity?
    See also Video: Valley of the Wolves - Palestine Trailer (YouTube)

Nigerian Court Charges Iranian Guard Member over Arms Shipment - Camillus Eboh (Reuters)
    A court in Nigeria on Thursday charged Azim Adhajani, a member of Iran's Revolutionary Guards, and three Nigerians over a shipment of mortars and rockets seized in the port of Lagos last month.

The Importance of the Middle East - Gwynne Dyer (Gulf Daily News-Bahrain)
    Between a third and a half of all foreign news stories in the Western print and broadcast media are usually about the Middle East.
    A large part of it is driven by the deep emotional investment in Israel that many Americans have. Israel is not viewed as just another foreign country, to be weighed by its strategic and economic importance.
    It is seen as a special place, almost an American protectorate, and its foreign policy agenda largely sets the U.S. media agenda.

Making Aliyah to the IDF - Hanan Greenberg (Ynet News)
    Recently, the IDF has reported a sharp increase in the enlistment of new immigrants, particularly those with academic education, who do not speak Hebrew but insist on serving in combat units.
    On Monday, 189 soldiers from 30 countries stood in uniform on the parade ground.

Israel Says Tourism to Break Record in 2010 (AP)
    Israel's Tourism Ministry says 2010 will be a record year for tourism, which has already surpassed the high of 3 million visitors set in 2008. Some 3.4 million visitors are expected to arrive by the end of the year.
    See also October Breaks All Records for Tourist Stays - Ron Friedman (Jerusalem Post)
    See also Israel Launches Tourism Campaign on Fashion Channel - Ron Friedman (Jerusalem Post)
    Israel's Tourism Ministry announced Wednesday it had launched a NIS 3 million advertising campaign on the Fashion Channel (FTV).
    According to the ministry spokeswoman, the campaign "will allow for international exposure on an unprecedented scale, appealing to the general market which is interested in a vacation that includes entertainment and leisure alongside visits to historical sites, cultural activities, gourmet food, wine and more."
    See also Video: Preparing the FTV Ads (Israel TV Channel 2)

International Framework Documents on Combating Anti-Semitism (Institute for Global Jewish Affairs)
    Several important texts have been adopted in recent years by international organizations and conferences to provide a framework for defining, monitoring, and combating anti-Semitism.
    These key texts include the April 2004 Berlin Declaration of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, and the 2005 Working Definition of Anti-Semitism of the European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia - now called the Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA).
    The Inter-parliamentary Coalition for Combating Antisemitism (ICCA) brings together parliamentarians from around the world to lead the fight against resurgent global anti-Semitism.
    The first conference took place in London in 2009, the second in Ottawa in November 2010. Statements were adopted at both conferences.
    At the 2010 Ottawa conference, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper made a speech that stands out for its unequivocal expression of Canada's attitude toward the Middle East conflict.

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  • Western Wall Feud Heightens Israeli-Palestinian Tensions - Isabel Kershner
    The prime minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, on Thursday strongly denounced a Palestinian Authority paper that denies any Jewish connection to the Western Wall, the iconic holy site and place of Jewish worship in the Old City of Jerusalem, describing the report as "reprehensible and scandalous." The episode appeared to signal a worsening atmosphere after a two-month hiatus in peace talks. Netanyahu's statement referred to a long article that appeared in Arabic on Monday on the Information Ministry Web site of the Western-backed Palestinian government, led by President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad in the West Bank.
        The Western Wall is a remnant of the retaining wall of a plateau revered by Jews as the Temple Mount, the site where their ancient temples once stood. The Palestinian paper denying any Jewish historical connection with the site was written by Al-Mutawakel Taha, an Information Ministry official. In it, he stated that "the Al Buraq Wall is the western wall of Al Aksa, which the Zionist occupation falsely claims ownership of and calls the Wailing Wall or Kotel."
        Palestinian officials have often denied claims of Jewish heritage in Jerusalem. Netanyahu said the Western Wall "has been the Jewish people's most sacred place for almost 2,000 years, since the destruction of the Second Temple." He added that the Palestinian Authority's denial of a Jewish link "calls into serious question its intentions of reaching a peace agreement, the foundations of which are coexistence and mutual recognition." Netanyahu called on the authority's leaders to disavow the document. (New York Times)
        See also Palestinian Officials: Western Wall Is Islamic Waqf, We Won't Give Up a Single Stone
    Palestinian officials have condemned the decision by the Israeli government to renovate the Western Wall plaza. PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad said that the Wall is part of occupied eastern Jerusalem and that its historic, cultural, and religious characteristics must not be changed, Al-Hayat reported Tuesday. (MEMRI)
        See also Western Wall Not Jewish Says Palestinian Official - Diaa Hadid
    An official Palestinian report claiming that a key Jewish holy site - Jerusalem's Western Wall - has no religious significance to Jews evoked an angry response from Israelis. Decades of archaeology have shown that the Western Wall, the holiest place where Jews can pray, was a retaining wall of the compound where the two biblical Jewish Temples stood 20 centuries ago. The Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, Islam's third-holiest site, is built atop the ruins. Al-Mutawakil Taha, deputy minister of information in the Western-backed Palestinian Authority, said his study published on a Palestinian government website reflected the official Palestinian position. (AP-Arab News-Saudi Arabia)
        See also below Observations: PA Study on Jerusalem's Western Wall a "Moderate" Outrage - Editorial (New York Post)
  • Erdogan Slams Israel, Calls for Integration with Arab World -
    Israel's disproportionate use of force against civilians, along with Turkey's firm will to integrate with Arab countries, were the two main themes of Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan's messages delivered during a two-day official visit to Lebanon. On Thursday, accompanied by several ministers of his cabinet, Erdogan received a leadership award from the Beirut-based Union of Arab Banks (UAB). "What can be more natural than that?" Erdogan asked at the award ceremony.
        Erdogan was given a hero's welcome on his arrival in Lebanon, with supporters waving Turkish flags and posters to greet him on the streets. But on Thursday, hundreds of Lebanese of Armenian descent clashed with Lebanese army troops during a protest over his visit. In Beirut's Martyrs' Square, demonstrators tore up a large poster of Erdogan and pelted troops with rocks. Lebanon has 150,000 Armenians, nearly 4% of its population, who harbor deep animosity toward Turks over the 1915 killing of Armenians in the final days of the Ottoman Empire. (Today's Zaman-Turkey)
        See also below In-Depth Issues: Valley of the Wolves: Palestine - Michael Rubin (National Review)
  • British Foreign Policy on Middle East to Change to Reflect Arab Concerns - Richard Spencer and Damien McElroy
    Whitehall officials said Foreign Secretary William Hague's decision to reach out to Gulf states in an effort to secure better diplomatic and trade ties meant Britain had to "take on board" Arab foreign policy goals. "We have to respond to what Gulf States want. If we want a long-term partnership on foreign policy, then changes in our stance have to be part of it," said one diplomat.
        That may mean yet further withdrawal of traditional British support for Israel, with criticism of its government already more marked under Mr. Hague than it was under New Labour government. In another indication of the Foreign Office's new sensitivity to Arab opinion, officials admitted to The Daily Telegraph that policies on the Israel-Lebanon war of 2006, Israel's invasion of Gaza in 2008-9, and its occupation of the West Bank and settlements policy were "motivators" for the Islamic radicalism that they confronted daily in the Gulf. (Telegraph-UK)
        See also Britain Denies Report of Policy Shift - Jonny Paul
    The British Foreign Office denied it was in any way changing its policy to reflect Arab concerns, contrary to a report in Thursday's Daily Telegraph. (Jerusalem Post)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Report: U.S. Won't Promise Not to Ask for More Settlement Freezes - Herb Keinon
    Israeli officials accused PA President Mahmoud Abbas of looking for excuses not to negotiate, after Abbas said Thursday he would only return to negotiations if Israel declared a complete settlement freeze for a defined period, during which the border issue would be resolved. One Israeli official said: "It is a pity he is entrenching himself in his preconditions, and we don't understand the logic. It is almost as if he is searching for excuses not to negotiate."
        One of the issues reportedly holding up Washington's letter to Jerusalem regarding U.S. commitments in exchange for an additional 90-day settlement freeze is whether borders will be the focus of the first three months of negotiations. Prime Minister Netanyahu's position is that border issues cannot be divorced from other core issues. Netanyahu is apparently unwilling to pledge to wrap up an agreement on borders during the time of a settlement freeze. And the U.S. is reportedly unwilling to commit in writing that this would be the last settlement freeze it would request. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Intelligence Sources Implicate Syria in Hariri Assassination - Amos Harel and Avi Issacharoff
    Syria played a major role in the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri in February 2005, and the UN probe into the murder is wrongly absolving it of guilt, Western intelligence sources familiar with the probe told Ha'aretz. "There's no doubt Syrian President Bashar Assad was involved in the assassination," said one source. (Ha'aretz)
        See also CBC Report Tarnishes Hizbullah Image Further - Michael Bluhm
    The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) report alleging Hizbullah's involvement in former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri's assassination has further tarnished the party's reputation, analysts said Wednesday. The Hizbullah response to the CBC documentary hinted that the group considers the accusation of some of its members as a fait accompli, said Habib Malik, who teaches history at the Lebanese American University. The group is angling to minimize the possible damage, Malik added. "They're getting ready, in a sense, to cut their losses."
        The CBC report serves to further chip away at Hizbullah's shaken reputation, said Hilal Khashan, who teaches political studies at the American University of Beirut. Since its military successes against Israel in the summer 2006 war, Hizbullah has seen its image sullied by the sit-in that emptied Beirut's Downtown from December 2006 and armed clashes in western Beirut in May 2008, Khashan added. Hizbullah gunmen seized swathes of western Beirut after the former Cabinet took steps that Hizbullah believed encroached on its prerogatives.
        "Hassan Nasrallah has resigned himself to the issuance of the indictment," he said. "Hizbullah's position in the Arab-Islamic world reached its peak right after the summer 2006 war. Since then its image in the Arab-Islamic world has been declining....Hizbullah is seen more as an instrument in Iran's hands rather than as an agent of anti-Israel liberation."  (Daily Star-Lebanon)
        See also Who Assassinated Rafik Hariri? - Edward Jay Epstein (Wall Street Journal)
  • As Turkey Front Freezes, Israel Looks to Warming Balkan Ties - Barak Ravid
    Since its relations with Turkey crumbled over the past year, Israel has begun looking to the Balkan states for new friends and allies. The new initiatives extend to shared intelligence, joint military exercises and boosting tourism, officials say. In the past year Israel has expanded relations with Greece and Bulgaria and upgraded ties with Cyprus, Romania, Serbia, Montenegro, Macedonia and Croatia. These states share concerns about Turkey's new radicalism and world jihad's growing influence, and see new opportunities for economic, technical, and security cooperation with Israel.
        After Israeli tourists stopped visiting Turkey, Israeli tourism to Greece has increased by 200% this year and is expected to reach 250,000 by the end of the year. Some 150,000 Israelis are expected to visit Bulgaria by the end of the year. (Ha'aretz)
  • Israel: Boycott of Israel Is Boycott of Peace Process
    Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon on Wednesday condemned a petition against Israel signed by one hundred famous Norwegians. "Those who call for a boycott against Israel are in effect boycotting the peace process by automatically and unequivocally endorsing the Palestinian position and pushing them further away from the negotiating table," Ayalon said in a statement.
        Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld, a senior researcher of anti-Semitism and anti-Zionist trends in Scandinavia, alleges Norway is a "pioneer" in the Western world in promoting boycotts and hatred against Israel. "Norway's case is unique because it is a country dominated by a political, media and cultural elite with deep-rooted anti-Israeli attitudes stemming from their political world view," Gerstenfeld said. "It poses a threat to Israel because it may be the place where precedents are set in the campaign to delegitimize Israel."  (Jerusalem Post)
  • Israeli Muslims Grow Extreme as Others Secularize - David E. Miller
    Israeli Muslim Sheikh Nazem Abu-Salim, head of the Shihab A-Din mosque in Nazareth, was indicted last week on charges of inciting violence and support of a terrorist organization. Four weeks earlier, police arrested Muhammad Ayyash, an imam at the Al-Bahr mosque in Jaffa, for "security offenses." Arabs comprise a fifth of Israel's population. In the last decade, Israeli Arabs have come to identify increasingly with their Palestinian brothers in the West Bank and Gaza, and have demanded recognition as a distinct community inside Israel.
        "On the one hand you have radicalization, and on the other, abandonment of religion," said Mordechai Kedar, an expert on Islam at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies at Bar-Ilan University. "The more young Muslims drink wine and behave immodestly with women, the more radicalized others become."
        The proportion of Israeli Arabs accepting the legitimacy of Israel as a Jewish state has declined in the past seven years, according to Professor Sami Smoha of Haifa University. In 2003, 76% of Israeli Arabs believed Jews had the right to a state of their own. By 2009 this number dropped to 61%. According to the Herzliya Patriotism Survey carried out in 2006, 56% of Israeli Arabs are not proud of their Israeli citizenship; however 82% said they would rather be citizens of Israel than of any other country in the world. (Media Line-Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • A Saudi Curriculum - Editorial
    Since 9/11, Riyadh has repeatedly promised to purge its curriculum of anti-Western and anti-Semitic teachings. Progress has been slight. In its 2010 International Religious Freedom Report, released last week, the U.S. State Department noted that Saudi textbooks "continued to contain overtly intolerant statements against Jews and Christians and subtly intolerant statements against Shi'a and other religious groups. For example, during the reporting period they continued to state that apostates from Islam should be killed if they do not repent within three days of being warned and that treachery is a permanent characteristic of non-Muslims, especially the Jews." Somebody ought to denounce this in no uncertain terms. (Wall Street Journal)
        See also Lessons of Hate at Islamic Schools in Britain - Martin Peretz (New Republic)
        See also Video: British Schools, Islamic Rules (Panorama-BBC News)
  • Is This Really the End for Ahmadinejad? - Jamsheed K. Choksy
    The struggle for Iran's future is a three-way fight waged by the different branches of conservatives that control the parliament, the presidency, and the theocracy. The Green Movement may have stalled, but the parliamentary opposition to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has only grown stronger and more assertive over the past year - culminating in a recent push to charge the president with abuses of power warranting impeachment. Parliamentarians are blaming the president and his bureaucrats for the economy's woes. The writer is professor of Iranian and international studies and former director of the Middle Eastern Studies Program at Indiana University. (Foreign Policy)
  • Release Pollard Now - Editorial
    Jonathan Pollard is entering his 25th year in prison, and there's a minor buzz in Washington about what JTA Washington correspondent Ron Kampeas called "the biggest push in years" to free the Israeli spy. Pollard's espionage activities in the early 1980s were wrong, and we reject claims that his efforts were justified, however well-intentioned they may have been. That said, we believe Jonathan Pollard should be released, and released now. The interests of justice have long since been served; the amount of time he has served clearly has been disproportionate.
        We call on President Barack Obama to release Jonathan Pollard - not because what he did was justified, not because America was wrong in imprisoning him, not as part of any diplomatic deal, but out of simple compassion. And because keeping him in jail is no longer a matter of justice or national security. (New York Jewish Week)
  • Rachel's Tomb Is Now a Mosque? - Jonathan Mark
    A month before his assassination in November 1995, Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin asked the Knesset to ratify Oslo's cornerstone "Israel-Palestinian Interim Agreement." Rabin said: "As a Jewish nation, we must, first and foremost, pay attention to the holy places, to our religion, tradition and culture. We were strict about this in the Interim Agreement." Regarding Rachel's Tomb, the third holiest site in Judaism, Rabin told the Knesset, the agreement "determined that worshippers and visitors would not encounter Palestinian police, neither on their approach to the Tomb nor during their prayers. The main road to Rachel's Tomb...will be the responsibility of the IDF. Guarding the Rachel's Tomb compound will be the responsibility of the IDF."
        Rabin was a secular Jew but understood that he was representing the Jewish people, past and present. Before that 1995 agreement was drawn up, Israeli newspapers reported that Knesset Member Menachem Porush was sitting in Rabin's office when Rabin mentioned that Rachel's Tomb was originally on the Palestinian side of the map. Through actual tears, Porush cried to Rabin, "Reb Yitzhak, Mama Ruchel, how can we give her away?"  (New York Jewish Week)
  • Letter from a War Criminal - Yoav Keren
    I looked for myself on the list of 200 Gaza Operation "war criminals" published online last week. I performed almost a month of reserve duty during the operation, yet received no mention. I served in the Gaza Division war room for 26 days and saw everything in real time. I saw how every time we had to curb Kassam rocket fire from populated areas, officials considered it seven times and meticulously calculated the firing range and angle so as not to hurt civilians by mistake. I also saw how, to be on the safe side, the army consulted with its legal advisor and with a representative of the Coordination and Liaison Administration who were regularly deployed in the war room.
        I saw the great seriousness in addressing a water pipe that burst in Rafah, and the kind of effort invested in order to bring food into Gaza and allow ambulances to evacuate wounded Palestinians from the war zone. I also participated in assessment sessions with the division commander; a major part of them pertained to humanitarian issues.
        I walked around the Israeli town of Sderot, which looked like a ghost town after sustaining hits from dozens of Kassam rockets, and I also saw the Grad missiles making their way to Ashkelon without anybody being able to stop them. Believe me, it's not a heart-warming sight. (Ynet News)
  • Can Israel Win Back the UN? - David Bernstein
    I suffer from a simultaneous sense of gratitude for the pivotal role the UN played in Israel's establishment and outrage for the role that the international body plays today in attempting to delegitimize the Jewish state. The UN has turned so far against Israel that in 1977 it declared Nov. 29 "International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People," providing a venue for the worst forms of anti-Israel propaganda.
        Today's UN is at the forefront in funding and promoting boycotts, divestment and sanctions against Israel with the aim of undermining the very legitimacy it helped create. If the U.S. government makes it a priority, we could eventually muster enough votes to defund and uproot the UN bureaucracy primarily responsible for the de-legitimization campaign. The writer is Executive Director of the David Project. (David Project)
  • Human Rights in the Middle East - Robert L. Bernstein
    Robert L. Bernstein, the founder of Human Rights Watch, spoke at the University of Nebraska at Omaha on Nov. 10: "Having devoted much of my life to trying to make the Universal Declaration of Human Rights come alive in many places in the world, I have become alarmed at how some human rights organizations, including the one I founded, are reporting on human rights in the Middle East. I have found myself in strong disagreement with the policies and actions in the Middle East of Human Rights Watch and other human rights organizations that have similar policies - like Amnesty International and The Carter Center."
        "During my twenty years at Human Rights Watch, I had spent little time on Israel. It was an open society. It had 80 human rights organizations. It had more newspaper reporters in Jerusalem than any city in the world except New York and London. Hence, I tried to get the organization to work on getting some of the principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, particularly free speech, into closed societies - among them, the 22 Arab states surrounding Israel."  (NGO Monitor)
  • Moderate Muslim Author Condemns Virulent Anti-Semitism Infiltrating Islam - Barbara Yaffe
    In his newly published book, The Jew Is Not My Enemy, Toronto author Tarek Fatah, 61, founder and former head of the Muslim Canadian Congress, argues that if Muslims in the Middle East have anyone to blame for their plight it's their own political and religious leaders. "Despite my solidarity with the Palestinian cause, I denounce anti-Semitism and refuse to hate either Israel or the Jewish people," says the Pakistani-born journalist, who immigrated to Canada from Saudi Arabia in 1987.
        "By any rational standard, Muslims and Jews should have been, and could be, partners." Their faiths are similar, he says, and more unites than divides them. His book is a condemnation of the virulent anti-Semitism that has infiltrated Islam, a "medieval madness that is creating monsters within the Muslim community."
        Muslims are told early and often by clerics and in religious tracts that Jews are the descendants of pigs and apes and the brothers of monkeys, that they annually sacrifice people to drink their blood. This nonsense has only been fueled by the spread of Wahhabism, courtesy of a wealthy "Saudi hate machine." He says clerics regularly close Friday prayers with a call to arms to defeat the Jews. By contrast, he notes, Jewish scriptures and teachings do not feature anti-Muslim preachings. (Vancouver Sun-Canada)

    Weekend Features

  • "Let the Jewish People Know We Fought" - Joanna Paraszczuk
    Half a million Soviet Jews joined the Red Army to fight against the Nazis; 40% died in battle, the highest percentage of all the USSR's ethnic groups. One and a half million Jews from all over the world fought in World War II, including 150,000 women. A quarter million of these Jewish fighters fell in battle. Most people "don't know that so many Jews stood up and fought Hitler and Nazism," says Red Army veteran Shalom Scopas, 85.
        IDF Brig.-Gen. (ret.) Zvi Kan-Tor has over the past decade sought to build the Museum of the Jewish Soldier in World War II near Latrun. Among those championing it is Dr. Yitzhak Arad, the former director-general of Yad Vashem. "When we talk about the Shoah, there has been an emphasis on the six million victims," he explains. "I feel it is very important to teach children that the Jewish people also have a share in the victory against Nazism."
        If you, a relative or friend fought against Nazism in World War II, please visit the museum website and enter the details on the museum's database. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Refuseniks' Rough Road to Israel - Anne Applebaum
    In When They Come for Us, We'll Be Gone: The Epic Struggle to Save Soviet Jewry," Gal Beckerman retells two stories: that of the Soviet Jews who made their religion and their desire to emigrate to Israel into a protest movement, and that of the American Jews who championed their cause. For years, American Jews pounded away at the advocates of realpolitik who wanted U.S.-Soviet relations to focus on arms and trade, not human rights.
        In 1974, they won passage of the Jackson-Vanik amendment, legislation that linked Soviet trade deals to Jewish emigration. Sponsored by Sen. Henry "Scoop" Jackson, a non-Jewish politician who had made this issue his own, it forced the White House to establish links between human rights violations and wider diplomatic issues. After the amendment passed, U.S.-Soviet relations were never the same. After the collapse of the USSR in 1991, the movement disappeared, a happy victim of its own success. In the subsequent decade, some 1 million Jews emigrated from the Soviet Union to Israel. (Washington Post)
  • "An Enemy Is an Enemy, Even If He Speaks Arabic Like I Do" - Rotem Caro Weizman
    The Bedouin Desert Reconnaissance Battalion, founded in 1987, is entirely composed of volunteers, mostly Bedouins and some non-Bedouin Arab-Israelis. For the Bedouin community, it represents a ticket to the heart of Israeli society and a solution to economic distress.
        First Sergeant Haani Kalib, an Arab Muslim, says: "I explained to people that we live in a country which provides for us and therefore we have to give something in return. Your religion or your mother tongue don't matter, you must contribute....I am proud to wear this uniform and to protect the country." "Before all else, I look at my country. An enemy is an enemy and it doesn't matter whether he speaks Arabic like I do."
        Corporal Mamdouh Dahir, a Bedouin Arab-Muslim, explains: "When I am in the army I don't fight against Muslims, I fight against bad people who do not care about Muslims, innocent children or civilians. The Palestinians are suffering from extremists no less than we are."  (Israel Defense Forces)
  • The DNA of Abraham's Children: Analysis of Jewish Genomes Refutes Khazar Claim - Sharon Begley
    Scientists are able to read Jewish genomes like a history book. The latest DNA research weighs in on the claim that European Jews are all the descendants of Khazars, a Turkic group of the north Caucasus who converted to Judaism in the late eighth and early ninth century. The DNA has spoken: no. In the wake of studies in the 1990s that supported biblically-based notions of a priestly caste descended from Aaron, brother of Moses, an ambitious new project analyzed genomes collected from Jewish volunteers. Scientists report that the Jews of the diaspora share a set of telltale genetic markers, supporting the traditional belief that Jews scattered around the world have a common ancestry. In the age-old question of whether Jews are simply people who share a religion or are a distinct population, the scientific verdict is settling on the latter.
        Researchers collected DNA from Iranian, Iraqi, Syrian, and Ashkenazi Jews around New York City; Turkish Sephardic Jews in Seattle; Greek Sephardic Jews in Thessaloniki and Athens; and Italian Jews in Rome as part of the Jewish HapMap Project. Jewish populations have retained their genetic coherence just as they have retained their cultural and religious traditions, despite migrations from the Middle East into Europe, North Africa, and beyond over the centuries, says geneticist Harry Ostrer of NYU Langone Medical Center, who led the study. Each diaspora group has distinctive genetic features "representative of each group's genetic history," he says, but each also "shares a set of common genetic threads" dating back to their common origin in the Middle East. The various Jewish groups were more related to each other than to non-Jews. (Newsweek)
  • Observations:

    PA Study on Jerusalem's Western Wall a "Moderate" Outrage - Editorial (New York Post)

    • The PA's information ministry this week released an official "study" declaring that the Western Wall in Jerusalem's Old City - revered for 2,000 years as one of Judaism's holiest sites - isn't Jewish at all. In fact, claims the report by a senior ministry official, it is nothing more than the western wall of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, and has only been a worship site for Jews since World War I - and then, only because of "Muslim tolerance."
    • This, it should be noted, isn't coming from Hamas. It emanates from the same "moderate" Palestinians whom President Obama and the rest of the world embrace, make concessions to, and trust with Israel's long-term security. What is contemptible is that those efforts increasingly are being endorsed by the world at large.
    • Last month, UNESCO endorsed the PA's demands that Rachel's Tomb outside of Bethlehem - long revered as a Jewish site of worship - not only be removed from Israel's declared historic sites but actually be declared a mosque. Not even Yasser Arafat ever made such a claim until 1996 - and even then, without a shred of historic evidence.
    • UNESCO also declared that Israel cannot claim the Cave of the Patriarchs, the traditional burial site of the biblical forebears of the Jewish nation, as a national heritage site.
    • The whole point of this ongoing exercise is to erase any Jewish connection with the biblical Land of Israel - with an eye toward negating the modern state of Israel's existence.

          See also Virtual Tour of the Western Wall (Western Wall Heritage Foundation)

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