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December 2, 2016 / 2 Kislev, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘Allies’

Meet the Activist Rabbi and his Gay Bodyguard: the Knesset’s Most Incredible Allies

Tuesday, June 14th, 2016

By Jesse Lempel/TPS

Jerusalem (TPS) – Looking at the two newest lawmakers for the Likud party, you would never guess they were close friends: Yehuda Glick is a Brooklyn-born Orthodox rabbi who built his career on pressing for Jewish prayer on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount; Amir Ohana is the first openly gay parliamentarian of the center-right Likud party and founder of its LGBT Caucus.

Yet the two men share an extraordinarily unique bond that began in earnest in 2014 when Glick was gunned down by an Arab would-be assassin, an attack he miraculously survived. After being released from the hospital, the death threats continued pouring in – yet the police declined to provide protection.

That’s when Amir Ohana, a relatively unknown LGBT activist from the southern city of Be’er Sheva and a former agent with the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency), stepped in: he volunteered to be Glick’s personal bodyguard.

“I’m not a religious person, but I believe in freedom – and it was my honor to defend freedom,” Ohana, 40, explained in a recent interview with Tazpit Press Service (TPS) that took place, together with Glick, 51, in Ohana’s office in the Knesset, Israel’s parliament. “I don’t hold religious views but I can respect our legacy and our history as a people. What I want is for everyone to be free to pray wherever they want, and the Temple Mount is the holiest place for Jews.”

The Temple Mount, however, also houses the Al-Aqsa Mosque and Dome of the Rock complex – the third holiest site in Islam. The shrine has been a frequent flashpoint of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and tensions surrounding the site – in particular Palestinian claims that Israelis, including Glick personally, are “invading” and “defiling” the complex by visiting – are widely seen as underlying the most recent wave of terror attacks against Israelis.

Because of that tension, for the last several months all members of the Israeli parliament – Jewish and Arab alike – have been banned from visiting the holy site by order of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, head of the Likud party. And in keeping with the “status quo” on the site: Jews may visit sections of the compound in small groups, and only during designated hours, but are evicted if they attempt to pray.

Both Glick and Ohana strongly protest this policy. Glick has been perhaps the most visible advocate of Jewish prayer on the Temple Mount and, with his striking red beard, has become something of an infamous figure in the Arabic-language media and social networking platforms, where he has been caricaturized as a serpentine villain.

Glick as snake

The hatred directed at Glick eventually led to his near-assassination and, later on, brought him together with Ohana – who is now, as chance would have it, his colleague in the Knesset.

The ‘Enemy of Al-Aqsa’

On the night of October 29, 2014, Glick was leaving an event at the Menachem Begin Heritage Center in Jerusalem. At 10:04 p.m. Mutaz Hijazi, a Palestinian from eastern Jerusalem, showed up on a motorbike.

“This guy stops right next to me on his motorcycle, wearing a white helmet and all black,” Glick recalled to TPS. “He says to me, in Hebrew, ‘I’m very sorry.’ I said, ‘What are you sorry about?’ I get close to him and he says to me, ‘You are an enemy of Al-Aqsa’ and he takes out a pistol and shoots four bullets into the center of my body.”

As Hijazi sped off, Glick staggered along with four bullets in his torso.

“My wife hid under the steering wheel. I saw that I was bleeding and – I have no explanation for this – I had no pain. I managed to walk maybe twenty yards, then I collapsed,” Glick said. “I heard Shai [Malka] say, ‘We just witnessed murder.’ He rips off my shirt and yells to me, ‘[Rabbi] Yehuda, don’t go! We need you!’ That was the last sentence I remember.”

Within a few hours, Israeli security agents – “Amir’s friends” in the Shin Bet, Glick says – discovered footage of Hijazi on the security camera from St. Andrew’s Scottish Church adjacent to the scene of the shooting. By 4 a.m. Israeli forces had tracked Hijazi to his family’s home in the Abu Tor neighborhood and, following a shootout on the roof, killed him.

Hijazi was a member of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group, but a local official of the mainstream Fatah party also claimed responsibility for the “heroic act.”

“I knew there were threats, but I didn’t really believe that it could happen,” Glick said of his attitude before the shooting. “I also believed we have a democratic country and people don’t kill people because they have different views.”

“Now he’s dead and I’m alive,” Glick summed up.

‘A Zealot for Human Rights’

For all the fury he attracts from extremists in the Arab world, as well as from his left wing colleagues (one of whom boycotted his swearing-in ceremony at the Knesset), Glick also faces a backlash from rightist Israelis who recoil from some of his more liberal ideas – including his acceptance of non-Orthodox Jews, his criticism of an Israeli soldier who shot an already-wounded Palestinian terrorist, and his extensive interfaith work (which, according to Glick, was sparked by hours spent in his Bedouin .

Ohana, too, finds himself in the odd position of fending off attacks from opposing sides of the aisle. As he attended the Tel Aviv Pride Parade nearly two weeks ago, despite remarks from some of his right-wing political allies who have crudely likened the to parade to a celebration of bestiality, Ohana also received threats from some in the largely liberal gay community who despise his nationalist politics – so much so that the police, in a twist of fate, decided to provide Ohana with a personal bodyguard for the march. (The interview with Glick and Ohana took place before massacre at the gay bar in Orlando this past weekend and before the terror attack at Tel Aviv’s Sarona Market last week, at which Ohana happened to be present.)

“In Israel it’s quite unique. When you talk about right and left, unlike everywhere else in the world, you primarily talk about the Arab-Israeli conflict,” Ohana explains. “So there is no reason why a person can’t be right wing – and even, as I’m sometimes called, a hawkish right winger – and yet support LGBT rights, women’s rights, freedom of speech, everything that is considered liberal. We are a liberal national party.”

Remarkably, despite all their drastically different backgrounds and religious beliefs, Glick and Ohana seem to share this view. Both men seem determined to fight for issues beyond their own sectarian interests – whether it’s Ohana, the LGBT activist, protecting Glick’s struggle for the Temple Mount, or Glick, the Orthodox rabbi, irritating his base by supporting non-Orthodox women’s prayer groups at the Western Wall, for example, and even gay rights.

“I’m a zealot when it comes to human rights and respecting every single human being,” Glick boasts. “I think that every single person deserves rights. I mean it’s obvious, you know, we’re living in a democratic country.”

Does he, then, support gay marriage, an impossibility under the current Israeli arrangement in which marriage is governed by the Orthodox rabbinate?

“I support that he should have every single right he deserves,” Glick says somewhat evasively, pointing to Ohana, and referring to Ohana’s partner: “I know that he has a wonderful mate.”

Yet when asked why he wouldn’t attend the Tel Aviv Pride Parade, Glick replied: “I don’t see a problem with [going to the parade], but I wouldn’t go because other people might see me as a problem,” adding that he went to visit Shira Banki, a teenage girl stabbed by a Jewish religious extremist at the Jerusalem Pride Parade in 2015, while she was in the hospital. Shortly afterward, Banki died of her wounds.

‘Jerusalem of Peace’

Glick was sworn in to his parliament post in late May, following the resignation of former Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon. As our interview ended, he decided to inaugurate his new office by placing the ritual mezuzah on the doorpost – a small box holding verses of the Torah which is thought to protect one’s home.

Ohana tags along to Glick’s new office, borrowing a kippa from an aide, and the two hang the mezuzah together.

“I protected you once, so I may as well finish the job,” Ohana quips.

Glick then declares that his office has a name.

“This isn’t Yehuda Glick’s office,” he says. “It’s called ‘Jerusalem of Peace.’”

TPS / Tazpit News Agency

Victory Day

Sunday, May 8th, 2016

Russian-Israeli World War 2 veterans celebrate 71 years since the Allies victory over Nazi Germany, with a parade in Jerusalem on May 8, 2016.

Russian Victory Parade in Jerusalem

Russian Victory Parade in Jerusalem

Photo of the Day

First Official Turkish Delegation to Israel in 5 Years

Monday, August 31st, 2015

For the first time in five years, Turkey and Israel are talking officially again, with an official delegation from Turkey arriving today (Mon. Aug. 31) to discuss development in Jenin.

The Turkish delegation, led by Guven Sak, a co-director of the Turkish Manufacturers and Traders Association, are set to meet Monday in Israel with Israeli Deputy Minister of Regional Cooperation Ayoub Karal

The Turkish business leaders are allegedly planning to discuss development of an industrial zone in the Jenin are, a project worth a Turkish investment of at least $100 million.

Monday’s visit is the first since the 2010 incident on the Mavi Marmara flotilla vessel that illegally attempted to breach Israel’s maritime security blockade of Gaza. The vessel, sponsored by a Turkish activist group, was filled with violent, armed activists who attacked Israeli commandos who boarded the vessel to redirect it to Ashdod port, after the captain refused to change course away from Gaza.

Although the group sponsoring the ship claimed it was filled with “humanitarian supplies”for Gaza residents, upon inspection in Ashdod it was discovered there were no supplies for Gazans. But during the clashes on board the vessel between the attacking activists on board, and the Israeli commandos who boarded to redirect the ship, nine Turkish attackers were killed. A number of Israelis were seriously wounded, including one critically, as well.

The incident sparked years of acrimonious rhetoric from then-Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, now the country’s president, who expelled the Israeli ambassador and recalled his own from Tel Aviv. Erdogan is a strong supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood, which gave birth to Gaza’s ruling Hamas terrorist organization. He was outraged when Israel has launched counter terror operations to silence the incessant rocket and mortar fire being aimed at its civilians in southern areas.

Nevertheless, over the past several years various figures behind the scenes have been working quietly to repair the damage to the relationship between the two former allies, which has continued to grow economically in commercial trade.

A number of religious leaders on both sides have also maintained ties and continued to meet for interfaith dialogue facilitated by Istanbul-based Islamic scholar Adnan Oktar.

The delegation is arriving one day after Turkey’s “ambassador to the Palestinian Authority,” Mustafa Sernich, traveled to Gaza, Al Resalah reported Sunday.

Semich was accompanied by a delegation of economists who paid their own way, and who are scheduled for meetings with heads of Gaza economic institutions.

The Turkish official was scheduled to meet with “deputy chairman of the Hamas political bureau, Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh.”

Until recently Haniyeh was recognized as the de facto prime minister of Gaza. The use of this new title by Palestinian Arab media suggests Haniyeh was demoted in a quiet internal political battle out of the public eye.

Hana Levi Julian

Israel’s ‘Deep Ties’ With US Will Continue

Wednesday, October 29th, 2014

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu told the Knesset on Wednesday that Israel’s “deep ties” with the United States will continue.

Netanyahu reassured lawmakers that the strong bond between the two countries would weather the current “crisis” claimed Tuesday in an article published in The Atlantic quoting an anonymous senior staffer in the Obama White House.

“The safety of Israel is not important to those who anonymously attack us and me personally,” Netanyahu told the special session, held in memory of former Tourism Minister Rehavam Ze’evi, assassinated 13 years ago.

“I stand for our safety and security interests.”

Netanyahu added that he values and respects “our deep ties with the United States” and promised that strategic ties between Israel and America will continue.

Hana Levi Julian

US, Allies Bomb ISIS in Syria

Tuesday, September 23rd, 2014

The United States and allies began bombing fighters from the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in the city of Raqqa on Monday, near the northern Syrian border.

Raqqa is considered to be the “capital” of the ISIS attempt at a caliphate (state ruled by Islamic law.)

Both Russia and Iran, who are firm allies of the Syrian government, have warned the United States and others not to attack ISIS terrorists in Syria without first securing permission from President Bashar al-Assad.

However, according to a report posted Tuesday morning by the New York Daily News, Damascus said that “Washington informed Syria’s United Nations envoy before bombing the country.”

ISIS has swallowed a huge swathe of territory across Iraq and northern Syria, and is hoping to continue its bloodthirsty campaign to conquer as much territory as possible across the Middle East in order to establish an Islamic caliphate. The group simply slaughters those it calls “non-believers” wherever it goes – including other Muslims — usually by shooting or beheading them.

The military campaign, conducted by air with fighter jets and by warships at sea, is open-ended, the Pentagon told journalists in a briefing Monday. Buildings and arms depots were the primary targets.

The attack marks the first time the U.S. has carried out air strikes against the global jihad terror group outside of Iraq. U.S. air strikes against ISIS began in Iraq on August 8.

“U.S. military and partner nation forces are undertaking military action against (Islamic State) terrorists in Syria using a mix of fighter, bomber and Tomahawk land attack missiles,” Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said in a statement. “Given that these operations are ongoing, we are not in a position to provide additional details at this time,” he added.

Several Arab nations participated in the operation, although the Pentagon did not identify them. According to CNN and other international outlets, there were four: Saudi Arabia, Jordan, United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.

Hana Levi Julian

Why Ted Cruz Speaks for Me

Wednesday, September 25th, 2013

Ted Cruz and his allies get it.  They get that Americans can’t afford to have Obamacare implemented against our groaning, near-collapse finances.  They get that we are disgusted (and alarmed) at the idea of being the GOP’s economic attrition strategy for the 2014 election: the strategy that says, “Let things get as bad as they’re going to with Obamacare, and then people will finally blame the Democrats.”  The problem with that strategy is that someone has to pay the price for it – has to accept the financial losses, which for many people could be disastrous, even permanently life-changing – and that someone is us.

Cruz – and Mike Lee in the Senate, along with Matt Salmon (AZ) and others in the House – show that they get what the stakes are, by being willing to take a big risk on a deliberate strategy.  They’re making an attempt they could actually be defeated in:  to galvanize the rest of the GOP and get it to take a risk.

Contrast that with the bet-hedging and consultation-begging we see from the GOP leadership.  Here’s where my confession of populism comes in:  I don’t recall ever having such a sense of revulsion against the air of protecting privileged insularity that hangs over Beltway insiders, both politicians and pundits.  As we understand it, GOP leaders sent unsolicited “opposition research” to Fox News on Sunday, in order to undermine Cruz in his appearance with Chris Wallace.  Karl Rove excoriated Cruz on the Sunday show for failing to properly “consult” with his colleagues.  Tucker Carlson, Charles Krauthammer, and even Brit Hume took up the cry on Monday’s Special Report, accusing Cruz of grandstanding, and personalizing their criticisms of him to a startlingly petty degree.

Meanwhile, as the GOP impugns Ted Cruz’s motives with slam-book-quality allegations, it quietly accepts Obamacare exemptions and special subsidies for Congress.  The whole scenario seems like Mr. Smith Goes to Washington come to life.  All that’s missing is misleading photos of Cruz making bird calls.

But the truth is, this isn’t Mr. Smith Goes to Washington – because the plot of Mr. Smith turned on a relatively small matter, one that might have had symbolism for the operation of the whole government, but that in a literal sense affected only a small number of citizens.  The implementation of Obamacare is the biggest issue America has dealt with since how to get rid of the atrocious institution of slavery, and what “union” and “states’ rights” mean.  It profoundly affects everyone who will ever be an American from this day forward.  Issues don’t come any bigger.   Obamacare is about government’s relation to the citizen; about what government can dictate and control in our lives; and about what our economic liberties will mean, not in a decade, not a year from now, but tomorrow — and for the rest of our life as a nation.

From where I sit, it looks like Ted Cruz gets that.  He gets that we can’t just sit still, paralyzed by bad press and Democratic talking points, and let these questions be decided through the back door by the implementation of brain-deadening regulations.  He gets that that’s what’s happening.  He recognizes that a time comes when risk must be taken: when it just isn’t good enough for the well-worn remedies of consultation and deferral to produce the same unsatisfactory outcomes that they always do.  This time, the cost of taking that risk-averse route is too high.

Cruz did what he had to do on Fox on Sunday, remaining on message with admirable rhetorical discipline.  What he said was an accurate and succinct representation of the alternative he and his allies are offering:  fund the government without Obamacare in fiscal year 2014, as the alternative to funding it with Obamacare.  Delay implementation of the individual mandate, if that’s the best deal we can get, but go for the most we can get while still funding the government.  Don’t shut it down.  I found him to be effective in getting his point across.

But the old-school GOP leaders won’t get onboard with that message, apparently preferring to emphasize that they haven’t been consulted with.  They might as well just concede the terms of the fight to the Democrats and have done with it.

There are an awful lot of Americans out here who don’t know when the next shoe is going to drop, as the predator in the dark stalks their jobs, insurance, and finances.  Despising these people and their worries about Obamacare and the trend of big government – in the manner of Harry Reid – is as much bad karma as it is bad politics.  Yet senior Republicans seem to join Reid in being annoyed with the people for not wanting to play the role of the sacrifice in an electoral-politics ritual.

Instead of deferring an Obamacare fight to a future point we can’t guarantee we’ll even reach – i.e., after a Senate victory in 2014 – Cruz and his allies propose to fight today, on ground we can at least define clearly and prepare for in the present.  Are they right?  There are arguments pro and con.  But I don’t hear GOP leaders making any of those arguments in a forthright or convincing manner – or in any other way, for that matter.

One thing we can guarantee: we, Republican leaders and voters, won’t come to a unified position on that by refusing to address the question on the terms proposed by Cruz and his allies.  Cruz is trying to force the issue, which accords it the weight and immediacy that I give it.  He’s carrying my water.  If GOP leaders want to lead, they need to get out in front of this issue.  Go in strong with Cruz to make the strategy theirs – give the people something to applaud or reject – instead of merely sniping from the shadows.

J. E. Dyer

America’s Impending Defeat in Syria

Tuesday, August 27th, 2013

Originally published at Rubin Reports.

It’s really pretty simple. The American people understandably don’t want to go to war with Syria, not to mention Syria’s patron of Iran and especially not to put into power the Muslim Brotherhood and murderous Islamists. Going to war is a serious matter to say the least. There’s no assurance how long it will take, how many lives it will cost, and what turns it may take.

In fact the Middle East has just had several examples of these wars. Iraq and Afghanistan cost a lot of money and lives as they extended for a much longer time than had been expected. In addition they derailed the Bush Administration’s electoral fortunes and domestic programs. With the main emphasis of the Obama Administration being a fundamental transformation of America such distractions are not desired.

There is one other important consideration. The Obama Administration does not accept the traditional diplomatic and great power strategies. It believes that it can reconcile with Islamist states; it does not comprehend deterrents; it does not keep faith with allies; and it does not believe in credibility, which is the belief that only power exerted can convince a foe of seriousness.

Of course, that wouldn’t rule out a one -time targeted attack but even if that were to be done is America going to fight a full-scale war on the ground with the American allies (including al-Qaeda) never satisfied and eager to stab them in the back?

The administration has trapped itself with two problems. One is that the rebels who are being supported in Syria are extreme radicals who may set off blood baths and regional instability if they win. The other is that a challenge has been given to very reckless forces: Iran, Syria, and Hezbollah. When the United States threatens these three players the response is “make my day!”

So this is the situation. The United States is bluffing, it does not want to exert force and probably won’t. In other words, Iran and Syria would be quite willing to fight a war but the United States and its government doesn’t have the will to do so.

What is the optimum option for the Obama Administration ? To try to negotiate – as unlikely as it is – a deal in which some kind of interim or coalition arrangement would be arranged with Russia and Iran to make a transition from the current regime. And that mainly means stalling for time.

That could work, though, if the regime does not actually win in the war. Aid to rebels and some gimmicks, perhaps but no decisive action. Remember. though, that Iran cannot be said to have won as long as the civil war is continuing. The Administration can simply depend on denial, which should be sufficient for domestic purposes.

There is, however. a problem. The two sides Syrian sides want to wipe each other out. Why should the Russians and Iranians make a deal if they have a winning hand? No diplomatic arrangement is possible. In fact the diplomatic option is fictional or, to put it flatly, there is no alternative.

It is not inconceivable that the White House would consider easing sanctions on the Iranian nuclear program to have a chance on making a deal on Syria.

What is likely then is stalling, with the probability that the civil war will settle into stagnation for several years and thus a de facto partition of Syria. The United States simply can’t win given what it is willing to do. And in a great power standoff that’s a very dangerous situation.

Remember. though, that Iran cannot be said to have won as long as the civil war is continuing. The Administration can simply depend on denial, which should be sufficient for domestic purposes.

Finally, ask yourself one question: Will the United States under Obama dare a confrontation with Iran, Syria, and Russia to keep up American credibility, deterrence, and confidence of allies who it is already opposing on Egypt?

Of course not. This is already a president who could barely decide to kill Osama bin Laden.

Barry Rubin

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/analysis/rubin-reports/americas-impending-defeat-in-syria/2013/08/27/

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