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April 23, 2014 / 23 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Azerbaijan’

Garin Tzabar: Helping Lone Soldiers Feel At Home In Israel

Tuesday, August 20th, 2013

These lone soldiers, hailing from countries including the United States, Canada, Great Britain, Turkey and Azerbaijan arrived in Israel without their families to join the Israel Defense Force and help build the Jewish nation.  ’Garin’ means seed in Hebrew but can also refer to a group of people who collectively immigrated to Israel and ‘tzabar’ refers to the ‘sabra’ cactus fruit which is prickly on the outside but soft and sweet on the inside, a euphemism to describe Israelis.

The Garin Tzabar program is in charge of bringing these lone soldiers to a kibbutz or Israeli city, providing them with an adopted family, a Garin community that supports them throughout their army service and Hebrew classes to assist their immersion into the IDF.  Several months from now the new recruits will begin to serve in the Israeli Army.  The Garin Tzabar  ensures lone soldiers receive support and attention on their birthdays, during holidays, Shabbat, and their days off .

The State of Israel officially welcomed this year’s Garin Tzabar participants during a special ceremony held at Tel Aviv University. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu  gave a video greeting praising these young Jewish men and women and  numerous other government officials attended the event.

MK Sofa Landver, who addressed the group, stated, “We are here to receive the immigrants and the soldiers in our country, the most wonderful country in the world. It’s you who have come to serve and defend Israel. You will change the world.” A representative of Nefesh B’Nefesh added, “It’s not just a plane ride, it’s the destination and that’s Israel. Enjoy your new life.”

Netta Gelb, a new Garin Tzabar participant, was born in the Israeli city of Netanya and has spent the past 15 years growing up in Canada. Although she has Israeli relatives,  she is leaving behind her parents and siblings.  Gelb expressed the excitement many Garin members felt when she said, “I have been really looking forward to this for a long time.”

Michael Kosky, another Garin Tzabar participant, added, “We have come here to play our chapter in Jewish history. I am part of this program. Good luck to every one here.”  A lone soldier already serving in the IDF named Ariella, who hails from an Argentine family and grew up in both America and Israel told the audience that she holds dear the “values of loyalty to the state, its people, and the Tzabar members” and said to the new recruits “If you live together, you will learn a lot.”

Eitan Press contributed to this report.

Visit United with Israel.

Israelis Should Avoid Visiting Turkey, Govt. Says

Tuesday, August 20th, 2013

The Israeli government issued an unequivocal travel advisory on Monday warning Israelis to avoid visiting Turkey, a popular vacation destination for Israelis over the summer and during the upcoming Jewish holidays, Israel Hayom reported.

The Prime Minister’s Office issued its routine semi-annual travel warning, formulated by the office’s Counterterrorism Bureau, stating that all non-essential visits to Turkey “should be avoided.”

The threat issuing from Turkey is defined as an “ongoing potential threat,” a mid-level threat on the bureau’s five-level scale. Turkey is now on the same threat level as countries where jihadi terror cells are known to be operating, including Nigeria, Kenya and Azerbaijan.

The travel warning is for the upcoming Jewish holidays in September. So far, over the summer months of July and August, tens of thousands of Israelis have visited Turkey.

The Counterterrorism Bureau also recommended that Israelis avoid visiting the two countries with which Israel shares a border and a peace agreement: Egypt and Jordan. In those two countries, the threat facing Israelis was defined as a “basic concrete threat,” one level higher than the threat facing Israelis in Turkey. For Morocco, another popular destination for Israelis, an “ongoing potential threat” warning was issued.

Report: Muslim Countries ‘Worst Violators of Religious Freedom’

Friday, May 10th, 2013

Ten out of the 15 countries with the worst religious freedom abuses are Muslim, according to the recently released U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) 2013 Annual Report identifying the status of religious freedom throughout the world, and citing countries that are the least tolerant of religious freedom.

IRFA requires the President of the United States, who has delegated this authority to the Secretary of State, to designate as “countries of particular concern,” or CPCs, those governments that have engaged in or tolerated “particularly severe” violations of religious freedom.

IRFA defines “particularly severe” violations as ones that are “systematic, ongoing, and egregious,” including acts such as torture, prolonged detention without charges, disappearances, or “other flagrant denial[s] of the right to life, liberty, or the security of persons.”

After a country is designated a CPC, the President is required by law to take action to remedy the situation, or to invoke a waiver if circumstances warrant (As the late JFK put it: He may be an SOB, but he’s our SOB).

For the 2013 Annual Report, USCIRF recommends that the Secretary of State re-designate the following eight countries as CPCs: Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, and Uzbekistan.

USCIRF also finds that seven other countries meet the CPC threshold and should be so designated: Egypt, Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Vietnam.

USCIRF also places countries on its Tier 2 list, where the country is on the threshold of a CPC status, meaning that the violations engaged in or tolerated by the government are particularly severe and that at least one, but not all three, of the elements of the “systematic, ongoing, egregious” standard is met.

The Tier 2 designation provides advance warning of negative trends that could develop into severe violations of religious freedom, thereby giving policymakers an opportunity to engage early and increasing the likelihood of preventing or diminishing the violations. USCIRF has concluded that the following eight countries meet the Tier 2 standard in this reporting period: Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Cuba, India, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Laos, and Russia.

But not to worry – the State Department has issued indefinite waivers on taking any action against Uzbekistan and Saudi Arabia. As a result of these waivers, the United States has not implemented any policy response tied to the CPC designation for either country.

Gives a whole new meaning to the slogan “Freedom must be earned.”

In Egypt, the government has failed to protect Coptic Christians, who comprise 10 percent of the country’s 90 million people. The Copts have been tortured and killed and individuals continue to be prosecuted, convicted, and imprisoned for “contempt” or “defamation” of religion (Islam).

Somebody should start boycotting Egyptian products…

In Iran, religious freedom for minorities has deteriorated over the last year, a bad year for the Baha’is, Christians, and Sufi Muslims. The Report details that, “physical attacks, harassment, detention, arrests, and imprisonment” intensified.

Jews, Armenian and Assyrian Christians, and Zoroastrians have faced harassment, intimidation, discrimination, arrests, and imprisonment. Anyone who has dissented against the government, a theocratic republic, including Majority Shi’i and minority Sunni Muslims, have been intimidated, harassed, and detained. Several dissidents and human rights defenders have been sentenced to death and executed for “waging war against God.”

Human sacrifice, that must be their god’s favorite pastime.

How Involved in Terror Against Israelis and Jews are the Iranians?

Sunday, July 22nd, 2012

http://thisongoingwar.blogspot.co.il/2012/07/21-jul-12-how-involved-in-terror.html

When it comes to carrying out deadly terrorist attacks on Israelis and/or Jews, just how dangerous and persistent is the government of Iran?

The New York Police Department has an answer. Its intelligence analysis arm says the government-controlled Iranian Revolutionary Guards directly or via their undercover representatives have executed nine plots against Israeli or Jewish targets around the world so far this year. This was reported in a major syndicated story on Friday by Reuters ["Exclusive: New York police link nine 2012 plots to Iran, proxies"].

Three plots were foiled in January, three in February and another three since late June. Iran has repeatedly denied supporting militant attacks abroad. The documents, labeled “Law Enforcement Sensitive,” said that this week’s suicide bomb attack in Bulgaria was the second plot to be unmasked there this year. The reports detail two plots in Bangkok and one each in New Delhi, Tbilisi, Baku, Mombasa and Cyprus. Each plot was attributed to Iran or its Lebanese Hezbollah militant allies, said the reports, which were produced following the bombing in Burgas, Bulgaria of a bus carrying Israeli tourists. Iran on Thursday dismissed “unfounded statements” by Israel linking Tehran to the Burgas blast, saying they were politically motivated accusations which underscored the weakness of the accusers… U.S. officials say they increasingly concur with Israeli assessments that Iran and its proxies organized the killing of seven Israeli tourists in Burgas by a suicide bomber after they boarded an airport bus.

The indefatigable Challah Hu Akbar has pulled together publicly accessible news analysis and reports, and draws the conclusion that the Islamic Republic or its proxies have done more than Reuters is reporting. His posting, also from Friday, is called “A Review of Recent Iranian/Hezbollah Plots Against Israelis & Jews Abroad” and is worth a visit.

Here is a distillation of Challah Hu Akbar’s posting, with the facts of the incidents drawn from publicly available sources.

-May 2011 – Bombing in Istanbul: Eight people were wounded in a bombing attack that was publicly attributed – like virtually all acts of terror in Turkey – to the the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, the PKK. The Italian daily Corriere della Sera says the terrorists were in fact from the Lebanon-based Islamist organization Hezbollah and they were targetting Israel’s consul general in Istanbul, Moshe Kimchi. [Report]

-January 2012 – Baku, Azerbaijan – Thwarted attempt to kill two Jewish teachers: Azerbaijan’s Ministry of National Security reported that its people had uncovered an attempt to kill two teachers employed at the Chabad Or Avner Jewish school in Baku. Three men were arrested. The charge is that they received smuggled arms and equipment from Iranian agents. [Report]

-January 2012 – Bulgarian secret service uncovered a planned attack on Israeli visitors: The plan was for a major “showcase” terror attack with Israeli citizens residing in, or traveling to, Bulgaria. The plan was to have the attack coincide with the anniversary of the killing of notorious Hezbullah figure, Imad Mughniyah, killed on Febuary 12, 2008. [Report]

-February 2012 - Car bombing of vehicle of Israeli diplomat’s wife’s in New Delhi: The freelance journalist arrested for facilitating an attack on an Israeli diplomat’s wife [we blogged about it here] was found by the Indian police to have been in close touch with Iranian officials, and had made two visits to Iran during 2011. [Report]

-February 2012 - Bangkok, Thailand: An explosives attack on Israeli diplomats: Three Iranians were arrested after their bombs went off prematurely (blowing off the legs of one of them) before they were able to execute a plan to attack Israeli diplomats. [Report]

-February 2012 - Bombing in Georgian Republic: The Thai authorities said they had discovered what they termed a “direct connection” between the attacks on Israeli diplomats in Bangkok with a bomb attack on the Israeli embassy in the Republic of Georgia [we blogged about that here] – as well as with the New Delhi attack. Police in Tbilisi defused an explosive device found in the car of an Israeli embassy employee a day after the fourth death anniversary of Mughniyah. The common element: the involvement of the Iranians. [Report] Iran’s response was, and is, that Israel carried out an attack on its own embassy [source].

-February 2012 - Another attack on Israelis foiled in Azerbaijan: Azerbaijan stopped another terror attack and arrested members of a linked to the Iranian Revolutionary Guards’ Quds Force. The men were arrested and their firearms and explosives seized before they could do any real harm. [Report]

Iranian Assassins Targeted U.S., Israeli, Saudi Diplomats

Tuesday, May 29th, 2012

Iran has used operatives in assassination attempts on Israeli and American diplomats in seven countries over a period of 13 months, the Washington Post reported.

Last November, the U.S. Embassy in Azerbaijan received a message that then Ambassador Matthew Bryza was the target of a plot to kill Americans, along with other embassy officials.

U.S. and Azerbaijani intelligence agencies increased their investigations, which revealed a two-pronged plot, one involving snipers with silencer-equipped rifles and the other a car bomb, intended to kill embassy employees and their families.

Azerbaijani authorities picked up 22 suspects early this year. It is still not known for certain who was behind the plots, but U.S. and Middle Eastern experts see them as part of a campaign by Iran to kill foreign diplomats.

The targets included Saudi, Israeli and American officials.

JTA noted that Israel Aerospace Industries, a state-run company, signed a $1.6 billion deal in February to sell sophisticated military technology to Azerbaijan.

Also in March, Azerbaijan officials denied a claim in Foreign Policy Magazine that Israel was granted access to several airbases in the Caucasus nation, located on Iran’s northern border.

Israeli Foreign Minister Visits Muslim Azerbaijan, Chabad House

Wednesday, April 25th, 2012

Israel marked twenty years of diplomatic relations with Azerbaijan on Sunday, with a visit to the 95% Muslim country by Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who also visited the capital city’s Chabad house, according to a report by Lubavitch.com.

Azerbaijan, which borders Iran to the south, has pursued increasingly warm relations with the Jewish state, in contradiction to the will of Tehran.  In January, Azeri authorities arrested an Iranian national who allegedly plotted to kill two Israeli Chabad emissaries working at the Chabad Ohr Avner Jewish School in the capital city of Baku, including the Chief Chabad Emissary of Azerbaijan, Rabbi Shneor Segal.  The Chabad complex, “overlooking the scenic Caspian Sea”, according to Lubavitch.com, was established by philanthropist and President of the Federation of Jewish Communities in the CIS and Baltic Countries, Lev Leviev, in 2010.

Rabbi Segal played in an integral role in arranging Foreign Minister Lieberman’s visit.  During his two-day stay, Lieberman met with Azeri President Ilham Aliyev and other high-ranking officials, as well as Israel’s ambassador to Azerbaijan,  Michael Lotem and Israeli Consul Ron Schechter.

‘Targeted Assassination’ by the U.S. Security Establishment?

Monday, April 2nd, 2012

When President Obama wants to impress Jewish audiences, such as AIPAC, he frequently casts U.S.-Israel relations in a military context. How much military aid Israel receives (although he had nothing to do with the level; President Bush set the level in a 10-year deal), how many exercises the two militaries do together (the last one was canceled; previous ones were on a regular multi-year schedule); provision of the X-Band radar to Israel (done single-handedly by now-Sen. Mark Kirk during the Bush Administration) and missile defense cooperation (for which the Administration has reduced its financial request for 2013). Intelligence cooperation is assumed. “I’ve got Israel’s back,” he says.

But how good is the Obama administration on security for Israel? And how does that impact upon American security interests in the Middle East and Southwest Asia?

There have been a series of media reports recently suggesting that intelligence cooperation has been reduced, in part because of a “trust gap” that developed when Israel became concerned that the U.S. did not share Israel’s sense of urgency on Iran. A visit to Israel by National Security Advisor Tom Donilon and Donilon’s subsequent report to Capitol Hill did not help. Testimony by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff called Israel’s strategic security choices “imprudent” – a line repeated and expanded upon by other American military officers, both active and retired.

Last week, a Foreign Policy article by Mark Perry shows American military intelligence officials and diplomats being snide, cutting, and condescending – both toward Israel and toward Azerbaijan, a country that sits on Iran’s border and has its own serious problems with the Iranian style of radicalism exported to it.

Perry makes several points, each of which, if your assumption was that the President stands behind Israel, raises eyebrows:

1. Israeli military cooperation with Azerbaijan “complicates U.S. efforts to dampen Israeli-Iranian tensions.” When did “dampening tensions” become the goal of U.S. policy toward Iran? The President did not say he wanted to “dampen tensions”; he said a nuclear Iran is unacceptable to the United States. But if lowering the volume were the goal, there were two ways to go about it – one by reassuring Israel, the other by reassuring Iran. Exposing Israeli defense choices and publicly mocking its capabilities (see below) just reassures Iran. Why would this be the Administration’s choice?

2. Israeli-Azeri cooperation requires that U.S. military planners “must now plan not only for a war scenario that includes the Persian Gulf – but one that could include the Caucasus. What is true for American military planners is equally true for the Iranians – and there is something to be said for making your adversary worry that there is more than one avenue of attack. Through America’s obvious irritation with Israel and the exposure of Israeli assets in a third country, the administration is choosing to provide Iran with information it can use, to the detriment of Israel. Why would this be the Administration’s choice?

3. The US finds surveillance of both our adversaries and our friends irritating. ”We’re watching what Iran does closely… but we are now watching what Israel is doing in Azerbaijan. And we are not happy about it.” How Iran must appreciate the conflation of the two countries: an Israel that makes its patron America unhappy is a country that can be harassed, boycotted, and delegitimized with less fear of an American response than a country that believes its patron is also its friend – a friend that “has its back.” Why would the Administration want to give Iran this impression?

4. The Iranians do not have to worry about Israel’s refueling capability, which was described as “pretty minimal.” Israel is also, according to “military planners”, “just not very good at it.” That is true mainly because Israel’s enemies are so close, but if the U.S. can quash Israeli-Azeri military cooperation, the Iranians will not have much to fear from an Israeli air strike. Why would the administration want to reassure the Iranians on this point?

5. Turkey’s irritation with the Israeli-Azeri relationship has the ear of American “senior officials.” The Turkish government threw over a long and bilaterally beneficial relationship with Israel to polish its pro-Arab and pro-Islamist bona fides. Its Prime Minister is a booster of Hamas, does big business with Iran, and has offered up a blood libel against the IDF. Turkey also has plans for regional hegemony in Central Asia, hence its irritation with Azerbaijan for daring to have a relationship with Israel. It is unclear from the article how the U.S. government responds to Turkey’s concerns, but PM Erdogan appears to be President Obama’s “go to guy” in the region and the President was fawning over him in Seoul last week. Does this suggest an answer at Israel’s expense?

6. Azerbaijan is not a sovereign country; it is simply a puppet of whoever comes with the money. “The Israelis have bought an airfield, and the airfield is called Azerbaijan,” according to a “senior administration official.” Iran and Azerbaijan have serious border and ethnic issues, and it is much to Iran’s benefit to find that the U.S. does not think much of its northern neighbor. While Azerbaijan is certainly not a paragon of democracy, neither should it be the object of derision because it turns to Israel for support. The U.S. is supporting a wide variety of less-than-adorable governments, including the one in Afghanistan – which we are supporting with American blood. Why are Israel’s limited choices for alliances ridiculed, while the administration insists that Hamid Karzai – and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Vladimir Putin for that matter – are legitimate rulers because the President wants to work with them?

Iranian, Tajik, Pakistani, Afghan Presidents to Meet in Tajikistan

Sunday, March 25th, 2012

The Iranian Mehr news agency reports that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has arrived in the Tajik capital of Dushanbe on Saturday to attend the ancient Persian New Year (Noruz) festivities, which are being held on Sunday.

The occasion is celebrated in Iran, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Albania, Kyrgyzstan, India, Afghanistan, Macedonia, Azerbaijan, and Tajikistan.

The presidents of Iran, Tajikistan, and Afghanistan will attend a trilateral summit in Dushanbe on Sunday. In addition, the three presidents will hold a joint meeting with the Pakistani president on the same day to discuss issues facing Afghanistan.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/iranian-tajik-pakistani-afghan-presidents-to-meet-in-tajikistan/2012/03/25/

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