web analytics
April 16, 2014 / 16 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘chemical’

Elie Wiesel and Kagame of Rwanda Discuss Genocide & Syria

Monday, September 30th, 2013

There were several important news making items that emerged from our historic discussion on genocide that our organization, This World: The Jewish Values Network, together with NYU Hillel, staged on Sunday night, 29 September, at Cooper Union’s Great Hall in New York City – the venue that brought Abraham Lincoln to national prominence in 1860 – before 1000 people. The event – introduced by philanthropists Sheldon Adelson and Michael Steinhardt and which I moderated – was historic because it brought together the two biggest names in global genocide remembrance: Prof. Elie Wiesel, the living embodiment of the martyred six million of the holocaust, and President Paul Kagame of Rwanda, the only man alive who can claim to have stopped a genocide when his RPF forces conquered Rwanda in 1994 and ended the slaughter that had taken the lives of nearly one million Tutsis.

As to the discussion of whether President Franklin Roosevelt did enough to stop the murder of Europe’s Jews, Elie Wiesel came down firmly on the side of those who say he failed at this great moral responsibility. He deserves credit for defeating Hitler, Wiesel said, but as a someone who confronted a genocide and did not limit it, he deserves to be severely criticized.

I then turned the question to Kagame, adjusted to the Rwandan genocide. Did he harbor anger toward the United States, a moral and righteous superpower who blew it completely in Rwanda, doing next to nothing to stop the genocide and, arguably, even obstructing the efforts of other nations to assist. No, the President said. We’re way past that. It’s not about anger but our conclusion that we alone can protect ourselves and can never rely on a fickle world for our defense. Rwandans can rely on Rwandans for their defense.

I pointed out to the president that Israel came to the same conclusion about its defense in general, and is now pondering whether it will apply that principle by striking Iran alone, now that President Obama has decided to engage the Iranian president even as he continues to enrich Uranium and fund Hezbollah and Hamas terrorists.

I asked Elie Wiesel about Syria. Given the Bible’s commandment ‘not to stand idly by the blood of your neighbor,’ did the United States have a moral obligation to punish Assad for gassing children, even if he surrenders his chemical arsenal? Wiesel was unequivocal. Both the American political, and Jewish communal leadership had failed on Syria. Chemical gas was a trigger point for genocide and mass murder. The fact that Assad had paid no price for gassing children was a tremendous moral failure that had to be corrected, and the Jewish community should have been at the forefront of saying so.

President Kagame echoed that sentiment. Those who use either chemical, or even conventional weapons to slaughter innocent people must be held accountable or nothing will check further aggression and murder. Here were the world’s two leading voices on genocide were being jointly critical of the American government’s decision to commute the military attack on Assad to simply destroying his arsenal. Even if he did so he still had to pay a personal price for mass murder.

My close friend Rwandan Foreign Minister Louise Mushikiwabo had already announced, at a press conference we convened in October of last year, that Rwanda would be opening an embassy in Israel. I turned to the President and said to him that countries like Rwanda can understand Israel’s security situation in ways that few others could. The similarities between the two countries is striking. They are of similar size. They have terrorist enemies on their borders. Israel has Iran-funded Hezbollah and Hamas and Rwanda the FDLR in Eastern Congo. Both are regularly criticized unfairly by the UN. Both have had frictions with France which has at times assumed a curiously negative posture toward both countries. And, of course, both have experienced genocides of staggering proportions.

In light of the unique relationship between the two countries, I asked the President would it not be proper for Rwanda to open its embassy not in Tel Aviv but in Jerusalem, becoming one of the first nations to affirm the holy city as Israel’s eternal and undivided capitol? The President was surprised by the question but answered graciously. Rwanda and Israel indeed share similar histories and security challenges. He was very happy that they were increasing their bilateral relations with Rwanda opening an embassy in Israel. It was an important step in an evolving relationship and opening an Embassy in Jerusalem would be too great a leap for now. He and I both smiled at his response, with the President knowing I had put him on the spot and with me knowing that he had artfully dodged my question.

I turned to Professor Wiesel and told him that the full page ads he took out in America’s major publications in March, 2010, mildly rebuking President Obama, with whom he is close, for his pressure on Israel to cease building in parts of Jerusalem were widely credited with reversing the Administration’s policy. Would he be consider taking out similar ads questioning the President’s decision to open diplomatic relations at the highest level of the Iranian leadership without first demanding that Iran cease funding Hamas and Hezbollah terrorists, or enriching Uranium? Wiesel said that Iran’s holocaust denial was dangerous and delusional, and that opening diplomatic relations with the Iranians before they had formally renounced their genocidal aspirations against the Jewish state was unacceptable. He would consider the ads.

At last, I asked Professor Wiesel about a subject he and I had discussed many times. Why was it inappropriate to hate those who have committed genocide? Should we not despise the SS who murdered his family, or Hutu genocidaires who hacked children to death with machetes? Wiesel was adamant. Once you start hating, the emotion is internalized and you cannot control its spread and growth. It’s not long before it is directed even at those whom it is inappropriate to hate.

I have been close to Wiesel for 25 years. He is my hero and teacher. But on this one point, I remain unsure, and continue to despise those monsters who would murder a child because of his nationality, religion, or race. Never again must mean just that, Never again.

UN Report to Confirm Chemical Use, But Won’t Point Finger at Assad

Thursday, September 12th, 2013

According to Foreign Policy Magazine, UN weapons inspectors intend to accuse Syrian president Bashar al-Assad of responsibility for the gas attack that killed some 1,400 civilians in August. The drawback is that they can only offer circumstantial evidence on the case, according to insiders.

Western officials are saying the UN team has collected a “wealth” of evidence confirming that nerve agents were used in the attack on the al Ghouta suburb of Damascus. So we know it wasn’t a faked event, as the Syrians and the Iranians have been saying initially. But will the experts be able to trace the chemicals back to Assad’s henchmen?

The Iranians and the Russians, most notably President Vladimir Putin in a NY Times op-ed today (A Plea for Caution From Russia), still insist on blaming the rebels for the attack.

Putin writes: “No one doubts that poison gas was used in Syria. But there is every reason to believe it was used not by the Syrian Army, but by opposition forces, to provoke intervention by their powerful foreign patrons, who would be siding with the fundamentalists. Reports that militants are preparing another attack — this time against Israel — cannot be ignored.”

The highly anticipated report on the inspectors findings will be presented to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon on Monday. But UN diplomats are saying the report will not directly accuse Assad.

It will, however, present a strong circumstantial case that the Assad regime was responsible, based on analysis of rocket shells, ammunition and tests on soil, blood and urine from the attack.

“I know they have gotten very rich samples — biomedical and environmental — and they have interviewed victims, doctors and nurses," said the Western official. It seems they are very happy with the wealth of evidence they got,” a UN official told Foreign magazine. But the team could not identify the specific agents detected by the inspector team, but said, “You can conclude from the type of evidence the [identity of the] author.”

Syria and Russia have highlighted several other alleged chemical weapons attacks against Syrian government forces. The Syrians initially requested that the UN inspectors investigate an alleged March 19 sarin attack in the town of Khan al Assal, near Aleppo. Syria’s UN ambassador Bashar al Jaafari also requested that the team inspect three other cases of alleged chemical weapons use in late August against Syrian forces. On their final day in Damascus, the team visited a military hospital in Damascus to examine alleged victims of rebel chemical weapons attacks.

Sellström’s team is planning to return to Damascus at a later date to complete its investigations into the other incidents, including the March incident at Khan al Assal.

Under the terms of its Security Council mandate, the UN inspectors are only authorized to conclude whether chemical weapons have been used in Syria, and they may not assign responsibility for said use.

On Tuesday, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moallem admitted in a statement that his country operated a clandestine chemical weapons program, and promised to make them available to international inspectors, as part of the Russian sponsored deal whereby the Syrians would hand over their chemical stash in exchange to not being bombed by the U.S. Moallem said: “We are ready to reveal the locations of the chemical weapon sites and to stop producing chemical weapons and make these sites available for inspection by representatives of Russia, other countries and the United Nations.”

And while U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov are planning to meet in Geneva to try and reach an agreement on a plan to collect and destroy Syria’s chemical weapons, American talking heads have been debating whether this was a win or a loss to the Obama team. It appears the right, on Fox News, thinks this has been the most abysmal failure since Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer inspected Sitting Bull in Little Bighorn. The left, everywhere else on Television, thinks the best thing about it so far is the fact that it’s been bloodless. Well, bloodless if you’re an American.

According to Israel Radio, sources close to the Syrian president are saying they expect a deal would be reached in October, should the two foreign ministers agree on it today, in Geneva. Meanwhile, the rebels, who feel a little abandoned, understandably, are warning the Syrians will take advantage of the lull in the pressure on them, and move their chemical stash to Iraq.

Oh, Iraqis and chemical weapons… don’t get me started…

What War with Syria?

Thursday, August 29th, 2013

There’s nothing more dangerous for world peace than a bunch of trigger happy, inexperienced Leftists.

United States President Barack Hussein Obama should never have been elected. It was the most racist elections in the history of the United States. If he had been 100% white, with his experience and qualifications, he never would have been elected. People voted for him because he’s colored. Now he may be causing a very dangerous war in the Middle East by totally overacting in how he wants to “punish” Syria for using chemical weapons.

Obama doesn’t even have the support of the American Military. Listen to this Fox report, which I can’t get the embedded link for. Anyone with a minimum of military/diplomatic experience will easily point out how senseless the threats are. And just like with Bush The First’s Iraq/Gulf War, it will just be an excuse for Israel to be attacked. The Syrians will take out their anger on us, not on the Americans which are spearheading the threats against them.

The internal (within a foreign country) use of chemical weapons is immoral by popular western standards, but it’s certainly no reason to plan on bombing the said/guilty country. How will that show, teach moral superiority?

It’s like beating up a kid because he hit another kid.

“Don’t you ever hit,” smack! “anyone ever” bang! “again!!”

First of all, there should be emergency United Nations Security Council meetings called to condemn Syria and institute a full range of sanctions, including closing all foreign embassies in Syria, sending their diplomats packing, etc. If the point is to punish the Syrian regime, then they are the ones to be punished, not the Syrian citizens. The fallout from an American-led attack would land on Israel, while Bashar al-Assad would be emboldened and strengthened for standing against America.

All foreign aid and NGO programs to Syria must cease. That’s how you use moral superiority against an enemy regime. You don’t use military weapons.

Thankfully, the more other foreign leaders think about the issue, the more sense they are making.

“To see a government in the 21st century gassing its own citizens is an abomination and the world has to move against that, Mulcair said. “That should be done through the institutions of international law, in particularly the United Nations.”

So, G-d willing, we won’t have to search through our attic for the old gas masks and then exchange them for new ones.

Visit Shiloh Musings.

Russian FM Condemns ‘Hysteria’ around Chemical Attack

Tuesday, August 27th, 2013

Following last week’s chemical attack, the West has engineered a media campaign to facilitate a military incursion, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said in “an emergency press conference” Monday, RT reported. The minister also cast doubts on the American and European charges regarding President Assad’s being behind the chemical attacks on his own citizens.

“Official Washington, London and Paris say they have incontrovertible evidence that the Syrian government is behind the chemical attack in Damascus, but they have not yet presented this evidence. Yet, they keep saying that the ‘red line’ has been crossed,” Lavrov told reporters. “Now, we are hearing calls for a military campaign against Bashar Assad.”

Lavrov said that the U.S., Britain and others have assembled a “powerful force” and are “readying their ships and planes” for an invasion o Syria.

He cautioned that the development is setting the world on a “perilous path” and warned that “repeating the Iraqi and Libyan scenario” by bringing in outside forces would be a “terrible mistake that will lead to more blood being spilled.”

Minister Lavrov expressed outrage over the possibility of a NATO strike on Syrian chemical storage facilities without a mandate from the UN.

Asked if Russia was going to join in the potential conflict on either side, Lavrov said “We have no plans to go to war, but we hope that others think of long-term interests.”

Lavrov also questioned the rebel version of events: “There is information that videos were posted on the Internet hours before the purported attack, and [there are] other reasons to doubt the rebel narrative.”

“Those involved with the incident wanted to sabotage the upcoming Geneva peace talks,” Lavrov charged. “Maybe that was the motivation of those who created this story. The opposition obviously does not want to negotiate peacefully.”

Lavrov reminded reporters that the UN expert team currently investigating the attack sites in Syria “does not have the mandate” to produce an official ruling on who was responsible for the chemical release.

Of course, the FM did not add the fact that it was the Russian and Chinese delegation to the Security Council who fought to clip the talons on that eagle.

“The experts in Syria have the mandate to determine if chemical weapons were used, and if so, which ones, but not who unleashed this attack” Lavrov told the gathered media—in a manner reminiscent of the guy who killed both his parents and asked for the court’s leniency on account of his being an orphan.

“The UN security council will make the final decision about the perpetrator based on this evidence and all the analytical and factual materials available on the internet and in other media.”

Or, in Russian Newspeak: we’re planning to keep this puppy underwater until it stops breathing.

Now, that’s three metaphors for one Russian foreign policy. The NATO bombs are starting to drop in 3… 2…

Iran Draws ‘Red Line’ against US Intervention in Syria

Sunday, August 25th, 2013

From Al Arabiya:

A top Iranian military chief warned on Sunday that the U.S. will face “harsh consequences” if it intervenes in Syria over claims of chemical attacks, reported Agence France Presse citing a Fars new agency report.

“If the United States crosses this red line, there will be harsh consequences for the White House,” armed forces deputy chief of staff Massoud Jazayeri was quoted as saying.

A year ago, U.S. President Barack Obama warned the use of chemical weapons in Syria would cross a “red line” and have “enormous consequences.”

Then again, Iran had threatened Israel specifically if it does anything in Syrian territory, but nothing happened after Israel evidently repeatedly attacked weapons en route to Hezbollah.

Visit Elder of Ziyon.

US Has ‘Little Doubt’ that Assad’s Regime Used Chemical Weapons

Sunday, August 25th, 2013

The Obama administration said Sunday there is “very little doubt” that the regime of Syrian President Bassar al-Assad used chemical weapons in an attack on civilians last week, killing hundreds of people.

A government source, who insisted on anonymity,  said that American intelligence officers reported to the White House on “the reported number of victims, reported symptoms of those who were killed or injured, and witness accounts.”

The official Syria media announced Sunday afternoon that authorities will allow United Nations officials to inspect the area of the chemical attack, but if details are ironed out, evidence of the attack likely will have disappeared by the time the officials arrive.

France Calling for Use of Force in Syria

Thursday, August 22nd, 2013

French foreign minister Laurent Fabius told BFM-TV today that “if it is proven, France’s position is that there must be a reaction, a reaction that could take the form of a reaction with force.”

He added that “there are possibilities for responding,” but refused to elaborate. He did state that if the UN Security Council could not make a decision, one would have to be taken “in other ways.”

Syrian government officials said the claims of an army chemical weapons attack on its own civilians were “totally false” and the news outlets reporting those claims were “implicated in the shedding of Syrian blood and support terrorism.”

Turkey’s deputy prime minister has said only the Syrian government is in possession of the type of chemical weapons the opposition claims were used in the attack. Turkey’s foreign minister said “all red lines” have been crossed by the Assad regime.

But Iran has rejected the claims that its ally, President Bashar Assad, had deployed chemical weapons, saying the rebels would be responsible, if such an attack had really taken place.

“If the information concerning the use of chemical weapons is accurate, very definitely they were used by terrorist groups… who have shown they will not hold back from committing any crime,” Iran’s foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said to the IRNA news, referring to the rebels.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague urged international supporters of the Syrian regime to “wake up to … its murderous and barbaric nature” ahead of the UN meeting, Sky News reported.

But Russia, the traditional supporter of the Assad regime, suggested the attack could be a “premeditated provocation” by opposition forces.

Officials from Russia and China are reported to have blocked a stronger press statement supported by Britain, France, the US and others, Sky News reported.

Earlier, Mr Hague said that if verified, the attack “would mark a shocking escalation in the use of chemical weapons in Syria”.

He added: “Those who order the use of chemical weapons, and those who use them, should be in no doubt that we will work in every way we can to hold them to account.”

Minister Steinitz: Intelligence Says Assad Army Used Chemical Weapons

Thursday, August 22nd, 2013

Minister of International Relations and Strategic Affairs Yuval Steinitz told Kol Israel Thursday morning that Israel’s Intelligence service estimates that the Assad army indeed attacked its own civilians using chemical weapons, adding that it was not the first time the Syrian army has done this.

Steinitz said the worldwide condemnation of Assad’s war crimes have been mere lip service, since no concrete steps have so far been taken to stop Assad’s ongoing massacre of his countrymen.

The minister called the UN inspection just begun in Syria “a joke.”

“The UN isn’t inspecting yesterday’s events, but events that took place half a year ago. Moreover, the designation of the investigation, to find out whether or not chemical weapons were used—without investigating who used them—is outright ridiculous,” the minister said.

Last night, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon did call for an investigation of Wednesday’s gas attack in the suburbs of Damascus, where as many as 1,300 people are said to have been killed. It is not clear, however, if his call is heeded by the Security Council.

Labor MK Benjamin Ben Eliezer, who is considered a leading candidate to become the next president of Israel, said that what goes on in Syria is nothing less than a holocaust and a genocide, and the world—which condemns Israel for every tiny misstep—is standing by without doing anything.

Ben Eliezer emphasized that the red line drawn by President Obama has long since been crossed, and that Israel must remain on alert to prevent any of the Syrian chemical weapons from falling into Hezbollah or al-Qaeda hands.

The Syrian government is denying any involvement in the attack, accusing the rebels of staging a propaganda ploy. And Assad’s traditional patron, Russia, is not flinching in its unabashed defense of its man.

Russian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said Wednesday that a homemade rocket carrying unidentified chemical substances had been launched from an area controlled by the opposition, Reuters reported.

“All this cannot but suggest that once again we are dealing with a pre-planned provocation,” Lukashevich said. “This is supported by the fact that the criminal act was committed near Damascus at the very moment when a mission of UN experts had successfully started their work of investigating allegations of the possible use of chemical weapons there.”

Thirty-five member countries have called for the UN inspection team which has just arrived in Damascus to be allowed to investigate the newest attack.

UN Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson said, “This represents, no matter what the consequences are, a serious escalation with grave humanitarian consequences and human consequences. We very much hope that we will be able to conduct the investigation. Dr. Sellstrom and his team are in place in Damascus. We hope that they will be given access to the area by the government.”

The UN Security Council met in an emergency session over the incident, with protesters demonstrating outside its headquarters. When it ended, Argentina’s UN ambassador, Maria Cristina Perceval, told reporters: “There is a strong concern among council members about the allegations and a general sense that there must be clarity on what happened and the situation must be followed closely after a closed-door emergency meeting of the council.”

Which means the council is not explicitly calling the inspection team to investigate, it only welcomed Ban Ki-moon’s calls for one.

“The members of the Security Council also welcomed the determination of the Secretary-General to ensure a thorough, impartial and prompt investigation,” said Perceval, who is president of the council this month.

In other words, Russia said Nyet, and the new incident will remain outside the purview of the inspectors.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/minister-steinitz-intelligence-says-assad-army-used-chemical-weapons/2013/08/22/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: