Tuesday, June 15, 2021
Tuesday, June 15, 2021
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Wednesday’s “News in Review” Round-Up

BREAKING NEWS:

AT LEAST 7 DEAD IN SUICIDE BOMBING ON ISRAELI BUS IN BULGARIA—(Jerusalem) At least 7 people have been killed and 32 others injured in a suicide-bombing on an Israeli tour bus at the airport of the Bulgarian city of Burgas. The bus was carrying Israelis who landed in Bulgaria at 4:45 pm for a vacation. Although there is as yet no claim of responsibility, today’s attack comes on the 18th anniversary of the Iran-sponsored bombing of the AMIA Jewish center in Buenos Aires, Argentina. (Jerusalem Post, July 18.)

 

All signs point towards Iran. Over the last few months we have seen Iran’s attempts to attack Israelis in Thailand, India, Georgia, Kenya, Cyprus and other countries. Exactly 18 years to the day after the horrendous attack on the Jewish Community Center in Argentina, deadly Iranian terrorism continues to strike at innocent people. This is a global Iranian terror onslaught and Israel will react firmly to it.”—Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, blaming Iran for today’s terror attack in Bulgaria. (Israeli Prime Minister’s Office, July 18.)

 

This attempted terrorist attack was under Iranian auspices. It is part of an Iranian plan.… We call on the international community to take urgent action against Iran, which is the biggest exporter of terrorism in the world.”—Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, after authorities in Cyprus arrested on July 7 a 24-year-old man of Lebanese descent who was found tracking the movement of Israeli tourists on the island. Cypriot Justice and Public Order Minister Loucas Louca said an investigation into the terror operation is ongoing. (Jerusalem Post, July 16.)

 

There are no limits to Iranian terrorism. After Iran sent its people to assassinate the Saudi Arabian ambassador [on US soil] and to perpetrate terrorist attacks [against Israeli diplomatic missions] in Azerbaijan, Bangkok, Tbilisi and New Delhi, its intention to [conduct] attacks on African soil has now been exposed.…”—Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, after officials in Kenya announced earlier this month the arrest of two Iranian agents with 30 pounds of explosives planning to attack Israeli targets in Africa. (Independent Media Review and Analysis, July 2.)

Media-ocrities of the Week

With respect to Mr. Pollard, he was convicted of spying in 1987. He was sentenced to life in prison, he is serving that sentence, and I do not have any expectations that that is going to change.”—US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, during a visit to Israel this week, rejecting the possibility that former Israeli agent Jonathan Pollard’s life sentence be commuted by President Barack Obama. In response, a spokesperson for The Committee to Bring Jonathan Pollard Home issued the following statement: “In what can only be regarded as unmitigated gall, while deflecting Israel’s requests for the release of Jonathan Pollard, Mrs. Clinton pressed Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres to release a number of convicted murderers and terrorists to the Palestinian Authority.” (Jerusalem Post, July 17.)

 

QUESTION: In what way is Hugo Chavez’s government in Venezuela not a serious security threat to the U.S.?
CARNEY: You know, I’m going to have to refer you to the State Department on that. I saw that story before I came out, but I didn’t read it. So I don’t know.
”—Exchange between a reporter and White House press secretary Jay Carney, after US President Barack Obama stated in an interview that the actions of Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez have “not had a serious national security impact on [the US].” In response, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) condemned Obama’s statement as “alarmingly naïve.” According to Rubio, “It’s now disturbingly clear that President Obama has been living under a rock.… Hugo Chavez is not only a threat to the Venezuelan people’s freedom and democratic aspirations, he has also supported Iran’s regime in its attempts to expand its intelligence network throughout the [Western] hemisphere.…” (Weekly Standard, July 11 & Politico, July 12.)

Weekly Quotes

I regret your decision to give up on an opportunity to make an historic change.… I gave you a proposal that would have led to the conscription of ultra-orthodox and Arabs from the age of 18. I explained to you that the only way to implement this on the ground is gradually and without tearing Israeli society apart, especially at a time when the State of Israel is facing many significant challenges.…”—Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, in a letter to Kadima leader Shaul Mofaz, after the former Vice Premier pulled his faction out of the governing coalition over an inability to reach a compromise on drafting legislation to replace the expiring Tal Law, which previously allowed ultra-orthodox- and Arab-Israelis to defer indefinitely their military service. (Independent Media Review and Analysis, July 17.)

 

Because of narrow political considerations, you chose the alliance with the [ultra-Orthodox] over an alliance with the Zionist majority.”—Kadima leader Shaul Mofaz, in his letter of resignation to Netanyahu. (National Post, July 18.)

 

The Iranians are determinedly going down a path to master all aspects of nuclear weapons; all the technologies they need. It’s equally clear that Israel and the United States would face huge dangers if Iran were to become a nuclear weapon state.”—Sir John Sawers, head of Britain’s MI6 spy agency, declaring that Iran is on the verge of obtaining a nuclear weapon. (Jerusalem Post, July 13.)

 

The inspectors of the International Atomic Energy Agency are fooling themselves if they believe that the nuclear facilities on and under the ground are only for peaceful purposes.”—An anonymous  former general of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, in a letter to prominent Iranian opposition activist Mohammad Nourizad, describing as a “sheer lie” the claim that Tehran’s nuclear program has peaceful intentions. (Guardian, July 12.)

 

As long as they perceive this, they don’t feel like they are under pressure. That is a pity. It is up to the United States to try to change this perception in Iran. This is crucial.”—Israeli Vice Premier Moshe Ya’alon, claiming Iran’s leaders believe the country is immune from military attack prior to November’s US presidential election, and urging the Obama administration to enhance the credibility of an American military option. (Reuters, July 12.)

 

If they [the US] do not obey international laws and the IRGC’s warnings, it will have very bad consequences for them. The IRGC’s naval forces have…[the ability] to completely control the Strait of Hormuz and not allow even a single drop of oil to pass through.”—Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps naval commander Ali Fadavi, repeating Tehran’s threat to block the Strait of Hormuz, and confirming Iran is boosting its “naval presence in international waters.” (Reuters, July 14.)

 

These days Westerners are being sensational about sanctions but they don’t understand that they themselves vaccinated Iran through their sanctions imposed over the last 30 years.”—Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, dismissing harsher sanctions imposed on Iran this month, and claiming the country is “100 times stronger” than ever. (Reuters, July 11.)

 

[The embassy] has no purpose here. The embassy in Ottawa sometimes uses cultural events as an excuse to spread their own propaganda.”—Nazanin Afshin-Jam, a human rights activist who fled Iran in 1979 after her father was imprisoned and tortured, calling on the Canadian government to shut down the Iranian embassy in Ottawa over allegations the Islamic Republic is using its office to recruit Iranian-Canadians to serve Tehran’s interests. Ms. Afshin-Jam is married to Canadian Defence Minister Peter MacKay. (National Post, July 11.)

 

Canada has taken a very tough stance against the regime in Tehran and we won’t allow them to disrupt the freedom and liberties of Canadians of Iranian origin.”—Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird, confirming Canadian authorities will “take action” if necessary to ensure that Iranian diplomats do not “interfere “ with Iranian-Canadian civilians. (Jerusalem Post, July 13.)

 

Pro-Assad militias laid siege to the town at 5 am local time, cutting off power and communications. Then intensive shelling took place for two hours followed by a more sporadic bombardment as pro-Assad militias reportedly stormed certain neighborhoods, burned down houses after killing their occupants, then pursued those who escaped into the nearby fields where some were executed on the spot. Entire families were slaughtered.…”—Syrian opposition activist Ammar Abdulhamid, describing last week’s reported massacre by Syrian President Bashar Assad’s forces of more than 200 people in the village of Taramseh. (Weekly Standard, July 13.)

 

Those who committed these atrocities will be identified and held accountable.”—US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, claiming the US has “indisputable evidence that the [Assad] regime deliberately murdered innocent civilians” in Taramseh, and urging the UN Security Council to adopt measures against the Syrian regime. (Reuters, July 13.)

 

We have repeatedly made it clear that the Syrian government has a responsibility to safeguard its stockpiles of chemical weapons.…”—US State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland, after US officials revealed that Syria has started moving out of storage part of its chemical weapons arsenal. Syria’s undeclared stockpile of chemical weapons, one of the largest and most sophisticated in the world, is believed to include sarin nerve agent, mustard gas and cyanide. (Wall Street Journal, July 13.)

 

This article will be placed in a top section of the new constitution.”—Younis Makhyoun, an Egyptian legislator and high-ranking member of the Salafi Nour Party, after a parliamentary committee approved an article criminalizing “blasphemy” for inclusion in Egypt’s new constitution. (Egypt Independent, July 17.)

 

While in Egypt over the last several days, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met with the Muslim Brotherhood. But not everyone would meet with Clinton: Coptic Christians and Evangelicals refused, because, they claim, ‘the US administration has demonstrated their support for Islamism over other political and civil forces.’”—Daniel Harper, in “Egyptian Christians Refuse to Meet with Hillary Clinton.” (Weekly Standard, July 16.)

 

We are confident that Egypt, the revolution led by Morsi, will never provide cover for any new aggression or war on Gaza. We are confident that Egypt, the revolution led by Morsi, will not take any part in blocking Gaza.”—Hamas leader in Gaza Ismail Haniyeh, claiming Egyptian president Mohammed Morsi will shield Gaza from any potential Israeli military action, and effectively end Israel’s legal blockade of the Strip by fully opening Egypt’s border with Gaza. (Reuters, July 13.)

 

The Islamic University of Gaza is a known greenhouse and breeding ground for Hamas terrorists. Only last month, the University’s Dean of Koranic studies openly called for the Islamic conquest of the Vatican and of Spain. UNESCO’s motto is that ‘It is in the minds of men that the defenses of peace must be constructed,’ yet the Islamic University of Gaza is poisoning the minds of men for the cause of terror.…”—Excerpt of a statement issued by Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, expressing “shock and consternation” over UNESCO’s decision to establish a Chair at the Islamic University of Gaza. (Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs Website, July 12.)

 

The Israeli presence on Palestinian land, including East Jerusalem, is rejected and illegal. Israel will not have the right to exist in the Palestinian Territory.”—Palestinian presidential spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh, reiterating the Palestinian demand that a future “Palestine” be Judenrein. His comments follow last week’s release of the findings of the Levy Committee, headed by former Israeli Supreme Court vice president Edmond Levy, which concluded that Israel is not an occupying power in the West Bank and that so-called Israeli settlements are legal under international law. (Independent Media Review and Analysis, July 11.)

 

I have not been able to move the peace process forward in the Middle East the way I wanted.”—US President Barack Obama, describing as a personal failure his inability over the past 3.5 years to advance the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. (JTA, July 16.)

Short Takes

OPPOSITION LEADER CALLS FOR EARLY ELECTIONS IN ISRAEL—(Jerusalem) Israeli opposition leader Shelly Yechimovich has called on Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to dissolve the Knesset and schedule elections, ending what she described as a “two-month political circus.” Yechimovich pointed to November 27 as the best date to go to the polls, but stated elections would need to be called this week before the summer recess begins in order for polls to take place this year. For his part, Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman confirmed that his Yisrael Beytenu party would not leave Netanyahu’s government in light of Kadima’s decision to pull out of the national-unity coalition, but like Yechimovich hinted at the possibility of holding elections before the currently scheduled date in October 2013. (Jerusalem Post, July 18.)

 

CIJA MEETS WITH THE PA IN RAMALLAH—(Toronto) The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) has offered to act as “the Canadian interlocutor” between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA) to help restart the peace process. Although CIJA has not been officially endorsed by Ottawa or Israel to act in this capacity, and despite the Palestinians’ ongoing refusal to negotiate with Israel, senior members of the agency met with PA President Mahmoud Abbas and other senior officials during a visit to Ramallah on June 24. According to CIJA CEO Shimon Fogel, “The rationale for meet[ing] with the Palestinian leadership…[was] to get a sense of what [the PA] is thinking…”. Fogel also said the trip served as an opportunity to raise concerns about issues regarding incitement against Jews and Israelis, before conceding the PA’s responses were not “entirely satisfying.” (Canadian Jewish News, July 6.)

 

PA OFFICIAL COMMITS SUICIDE OVER COLLABORATION CHARGE—(Jerusalem) Senior Palestinian Authority official Osama Hussein Mansour, 49, has committed suicide, jumping from the third floor of a building. A PA security source said that Mansour was arrested three weeks ago for involvement in land transactions with Israelis. PA law bans Palestinians from conducting real estate deals with Israelis—a crime punishable by death. (Jerusalem Post, July 15.)

 

S. ARABIA TO TRANSFER $100M. TO PA—(Jerusalem) Saudi Arabia has promised to transfer $100 million to the Palestinian Authority in a bid to alleviate its severe financial crisis. PA envoy to Saudi Arabia Jamal Shobaki estimated the government’s debts at $1.5 billion, and said that to overcome the shortfall the PA was in urgent need of at least $500 million. According to chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat, the financial crisis is the worst since the establishment of the PA nearly 20 years ago. (Jerusalem Post, July 15.)

 

SYRIAN REBELS START OPERATION TO “LIBERATE DAMASCUS,” SENIOR REGIME OFFICIALS KILLED—(Beirut) Syria’s rebel forces have announced the commencement of an operation to “liberate Damascus.” According to Colonel Qassem Saadeddine, spokesman for the Free Syrian Army, fighters arrived in Damascus from several Syrian provinces 10 days ago to take part in the assault targeting sensitive regime installations. “There is no going back,” Saadeddine said, adding the rebels had named their operation “Damascus volcano and Syrian earthquake.” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has since confirmed that a “battle for the capital,” which he described as a “decisive fight,” is underway in Syria. In this respect, Syrian state television today confirmed that an explosion at a national security building in Damascus killed President Bashar Assad’s brother-in-law Assef Shawkat and Syrian Defense Minister Daoud Rajha. The rebels say they are bracing for a conflict that could last a month. (Reuters, July 17 & 18.)

 

SYRIA’S ENVOY TO IRAQ DEFECTS—(Baghdad) Syria’s ambassador to Iraq has fled Baghdad for Qatar, a day after the diplomat announced his resignation and became the first serving ambassador to defect from President Bashar Assad’s regime. Nawaf Fares, a former provincial governor in Syria and an envoy to Baghdad since 2008, said in a televised statement that he was joining “the ranks of the people’s revolution in Syria,” and called on the Syrian people and military to “Turn your guns and tanks toward the chests of the criminals of the [Assad] regime, killers of the people.” Fares’ defection makes him the second prominent official to abandon Syria’s government this month; Manaf Tlass, a longtime friend of Syria’s president and Sunni commander in the elite Republican Guard military unit, has taken refuge in France. (Wall Street Journal, July 12.)

 

CARTOON OF JEWS PRAYING TO WALL STREET WINS IRANIAN CONTEST—(Jerusalem) A stereotypical cartoon depicting three orthodox Jews praying in front of the Western Wall, which is labeled Wall Street, has won Iran’s first annual International Wall Street Downfall Cartoon Festival. The Anti-Defamation League in a statement called the winning cartoon “offensive,” with ADL national director Abraham Foxman saying, “Once again, Iran takes the prize for promoting anti-Semitism. The winning cartoon takes the most sacred site in Judaism and perverts it into a shrine of greed.” Iran held a Holocaust cartoon contest in 2006; the first-prize illustration depicted Israel’s security fence as Auschwitz. (JTA, July 12.) [See ‘On Topics’ below for Jonathan S. Tobin’s related article—Ed.]

 

PLOT TO ATTACK LONDON JEWISH NEIGHBORHOODS REVEALED—(Jerusalem) Documents detailing a plot to attack Jewish targets in London have been released to the public. The plans, which included kidnappings as well as attacks on Eton College and the Ritz and Dorchester hotels in London, were found on the body of Fazul Abdullah Mohammed, an African leader of al-Qaida who was shot last year by Somali forces. The plot also included plans to strike London’s Stamford Hill and Golders Green neighborhoods because they are populated with “tens of thousands of Jews crammed in a small area.” The documents, titled “International Operations,” confirm the objective to “to strike London with low-cost operations that would cause a heavy blow amongst the…Jewish communities. These attacks must be backed with a carefully planned media campaign to show why we chose our targets to refute hypocrites, clear doubts amongst Muslims and also inspire Muslim youth to copy.” A close ally of Osama bin Laden, Fazul was killed six weeks after the al-Qaida founder. (JTA, July 11.)

 

WIESENTHAL CENTER’S MOST WANTED NAZI LOCATED BY TABLOID, ARRESTED—(New York) A fugitive Nazi war criminal who helped send 15,700 Jews to their deaths has been arrested in Budapest after being tracked down by a British tabloid newspaper. The Sun newspaper reported over the weekend that it had found Ladislaus Csizsik-Csatary, 97, with the help of information supplied by the Simon Wiesenthal Center. Csizsik-Csatary, who had been No. 1 on the Center’s Most Wanted list of Nazi criminals, “played a key role in the deportation of over 15,000 Jews to Auschwitz in the spring of 1944 and of hundreds of Jews to Kamenetz-Podolsk in the Ukraine, where almost all were murdered, in the summer of 1941,” according to the Wiesenthal Center’s chief Nazi hunter Efraim Zuroff. Csizsik-Csatary reportedly has been charged with war crimes. (JTA, July 15 & Jerusalem Post, July 18.)

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