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September 18, 2014 / 23 Elul, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘country’

The Islamist Regime’s Game Plan for Egypt

Tuesday, November 27th, 2012

Originally published at Rubin Reports.

What’s been happening in Egypt this week is as important as the revolution that overthrew the old regime almost two years ago. A new dictator has arrived and while the Muslim Brotherhood’s overturning of democracy was totally predictable, Western policymakers walked right into the trap. They even helped build it.

President Mursi has now declared his ability to rule by decree. The key concept is that he can do everything to protect the revolution. In doing so, he is defining the revolution—as the Iranian revolution of 1978-1979 which was made by a broad coalition of forces soon after became defined—as an Islamist revolution.

One could call the Islamist strategy a short march through the institutions. Once Islamists take power—in Iran, the Gaza Strip, and Turkey, perhaps, too Syria—that is only the beginning of the story. They systematically do a fundamental transformation of them.

The media, or at least a large part of it, is tamed. The draft constitution written by the Brotherhood and Salafists allows the government to shut down any newspaper or television station by decree. The courts are made impotent and judges are replaced. Mursi’s decree said he could ignore any court decision.At a November 18 press conference, a few days before Mursi issued his decree, the leading secular-oriented representatives in the constitution-writing constituent assembly resigned, charging the new document would enshrine Sharia law. The problem was not the statement in Article 2 about Sharia being the main source of Egyptian legislation but rather later provisions making it clear that Islamist-controlled institutions would interpret precisely what that meant. Amr Moussa, former foreign minister and Arab League secretary-general, said the new constitution would bring disaster for Egypt. Abdel Meguid called this combination “Taliban-like.”

Scattered secularist forces, Coptic Christians, liberals or the remnants of the old regime, and modern-minded women do not pose a real threat to the regime. They are not violent, not organized, and not flush with cash. They can expect no material international support. There will be no civil war between the moderates and the Islamists the suppression of one by the other. The Salafists are itching for confrontation; the Muslim Brotherhood is patient. But when Salafists harass women or stab secularists or attack churches, the Brotherhood-controlled government will do nothing to protect the victims.

Of critical importance for Egypt is control over the religious infrastructure: the ministry of Waqf that supervises huge amounts of money in Islamic foundations; the office of qadi, the chief Islamist jurist; al-Azhar University, the most important institution defining Islam in the Muslim world; which clerics get to go on television or have their own shows; and down to appointments of preachers in every public mosque in the country.

Many clerics are not moderate but most are not systematic Islamists. Soon they will be or at least talk as if they were. Revolutionary Islamism will become in Egypt merely normative Islam. Thus is the endless debate in the West about the nature of Islam—religion of peace or religion of terrorism?–short-circuited and made even more irrelevant. The real power is not what the texts say but who interprets them. And the Islamists will do the interpreting.

While the judges are still holding out bravely only the army has real power to counter the Islamist revolution transforming the most important country in the Arabic-speaking world into the instrument of the leading international anti-Western, anti-American, and antisemitic organization. It doesn’t matter how nicely Mursi spoke to Obama any more than say how Lenin–who moderated Soviet policy in the 1920s to consolidate the regime and get Western help–did in his day.

What is going on inside Egypt’s army, the last remaining institution that could offer resistance? We don’t really know but there are certainly some important indications. In theory, the army is the only force that can challenge the Muslim Brotherhood’s drive to transform Egypt into an Islamist state. But why should we believe the officers want to engage in such a battle?

Under the leadership of a secret society called the Free Officers, Egypt’s army overturned the monarchy in 1952 in a virtually bloodless coup. Yet while Egypt was for decades thereafter ruled by the resulting regime, the military government soon became a military-backed government. Officers either moved over to civilian offices or if they opposed the regime were purged.

Protester Dies: When Is a Dictator Not a Dictator? Never

Tuesday, November 27th, 2012

The recent Hamas-Israel confrontation ended abruptly when U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced last Wednesday, November 21, a ceasefire that essentially put the relatively new, largely unknown Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi in the role of peacekeeper for Israel and Gaza.

“Egypt’s new government is assuming the responsibility and leadership that has long made this country a cornerstone of regional stability and peace,” exclaimed US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Well, Egypt had been a source of stability in the area, but Egypt’s new leader was not exactly in the mold of a Mubarak.  At least not in the positive ways.

The day after the U.S. administration cast Morsi in the role of new peacekeeper, he recast himself as something more like a new pharoah.  And, despite what the New York Times and the Washington Post wrote, he is not giving back any of the real power he’s granted himself.

On Thursday, November 22, while most Americans were eating turkey, Mohamed Morsi, the post-revolutionary leader of Egypt, issued a stunning series of decrees in which he usurped virtually all governmental power.  Morsi placed himself above the judiciary, sidelined the moderates in his council and signaled to all that his lifetime in the Muslim Brotherhood is his essence, no matter what role the U.S. seeks to cast him in.  He was now – in virtually every way possible – above the law.

On Friday, Samir Morcos, a Coptic Christian presidential adviser, resigned in protest, calling Morsi’s Decree, “undemocratic and a leap backwards.”

Secularists, liberals, women, journalists, and Christians have all resigned from the council, out of protest over the dominating influence of the Muslim Brothers and Salafists.  Nearly one quarter of its members walked out.

The Egyptian people were – briefly – stunned, and then they came back to doing what they do best: they rioted, and were beaten – some to death – in Tahrir Square.

After three days of ugliness captured on film and in photographs, President Morsi seemed to acknowledge he had gone too far, and “reminded” his people that his usurpation of power is intended to be only temporary, “until a new constitution is ratified. ”

Yeah, right.  When was the last time a dictator decided it was time to relinquish his control?

In at least one draft of the constitution, the Islamists insisted on changing women’s rights and obligations to match those under the rules of Sharia law.  This would require all women to wear the hijab and to be subservient to men, as is the case in Saudi Arabia and Iran.  If Sharia is to be applied, the rulings will have to be interpreted by Muslim legal scholars who would then have the same status as constitutional judges.

There have also been discussions in the constitutional council about lowering the legal age of marriage for women from 18 to 14, or even to as young as 9 years.  The constitutional council, which is now dominated by Islamists, could have been disbanded under the constitutional court, but Morsi’s decree made the council immune from such action.

The 2012 Egyptian uprising already has its first martyr – a teenager, Gaber Salah, nicknamed “Jika,” a member of the April 6 movement.  The boy died from wounds he received during confrontations between police and protesters on Mohammed Mahmud street where protesters had been marking the first anniversary of deadly clashes.

Two other protesters have since died, the latest, Monday morning, November 26.  Since Morsi issued his dictatorial decree, there have been three deaths, more than 450 injuries, more than 260 detainees, and most of Egypt’s courts have been on strike.

Muslim Brotherhood’s political party offices were torched in several cities on Friday. In Alexandria, Egypt, Brotherhood members held up prayer rugs to protect themselves as they were pelted with stones.

Throughout the day on Monday, clashes were reported between pro- and anti-Morsi protesters in eight governorates. Those clashes reportedly took place in Alexandria, Ismailia, Assiut, Port-Said, Suez, Mahalla, Damietta, Menya, and Aswan.

Not surprisingly, the Muslim Brotherhood issued an official statement in support of Morsi’s declaration, one that is highly critical of the opposition.  The Brotherhood stated that Morsi’s actions were taken in order to rid the government of Mubarak holdovers and to fully complete the revolution and attain stability, “economic prosperity and social justice” for all Egyptians.

The Brotherhood described all those who oppose Morsi’s actions as seeking to keep Egypt in a state of chaos “as a prelude to toppling the elected regime and grabbing power.”

The Brotherhood claimed that certain political leaders were promoting distorted views of the president’s Decree.  The statement continued:

Thus they went out in counter-demonstrations chanting insults and obscenities for slogans. Joining them were groups of thugs who went on the rampage, destroying and burning the headquarters of the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) in Alexandria and in other cities. Others attacked police officers with Molotov bombs and stones, setting public and private institutions on fire.
Then we heard irresponsible calls for escalation, sabotage and strike actions to disable state facilities. All this is certainly neither wise nor patriotic. In fact, it ignores the higher interests of the country, the popular will and the majority that represents the principles of democracy, which all parties claim to respect.
Despite material and moral harm, we still call on everyone to show a spirit of responsibility and to work with citizens to gain their trust. We call for honest political rivalry to achieve the interests of the country in the light of democracy and justice.
The majority of Egyptians, including the Muslim Brotherhood, strongly support the President’s Decrees, seek to build constitutional institutions and achieve the demands of the people and the revolution.
Ahmed Mekki, Egypt’s Justice Minister,  has been walking a political tightrope.  Mekki has expressed support for Morsi, but he has also said that it was wrong to place the president above the judiciary in the Nov. 22 Decree.

Earlier this week, more than a dozen groups called for mass demonstrations across the country on Tuesday to protest Morsi’s decree and the Constituent Assembly. Those groups include the liberal Constitution party, the Socialist Popular Alliance party, the Egyptian Social Democratic party, the leftist Popular Alliance, the Free Egyptians party, the Karama party, the April 6 Youth Movement, the National Association for Change, the Revolutionary Socialists, the Youth for Justice and Freedom movement, the Kefaya movement and several others.

The U.S. Embassy in Cairo announced that it will be closed today, November 27, in order to avoid anticipated violence between anti- and pro-Morsi factions.

The Egyptian Government and its supporters also announced plans to hold rallies today, but after moving the location from Tahrir Square to Cairo University, the pro-Morsi factions eventually cancelled their events.

U.S. REACTION

Thus far the U.S. government has been largely silent about the roiling unrest in Egypt.  The State Department’s spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said, “We call for calm and encourage all parties to work together and call for all Egyptians to resolve their differences over these important issues peacefully and through democratic dialogue.”

But Egypt is heavily dependent on the U.S. for financial aid.  Will this country use its financial leverage to dissuade Morsi from continuing in his dictatorial march?

According to the American Enterprise Institute’s vice-president for foreign and defense policy studies Danielle Pletka, “Obama has already made it clear he’s okay with Egypt as Morsi likes it – refusing to suspend aid after Morsi ignored attacks on the US Embassy in Cairo.”  Pletka then asks, “Will Congress take the same attitude?”

Pointing out that the Senate refused to suspend aid to Pakistan, Egypt and Libya in the wake of anti-U.S. demonstrations on 9/11 this year, Pletka wonders whether Congress will simply rubber stamp the $1.5 billion in taxpayer dollars without making some demands?  And, “shouldn’t those conditions relate to rule of law, treatment of minorities, economic reform, and other priorities that could insulate the Egyptian people from yet another pharaoh?”

IMF INFUSION

Not only was Egyptian President Morsi catapulted to global stature by the Middle East peacekeeping role bestowed upon him by the U.S., at the same time Egypt was informed it was to become the recipient of a $4.8 billion International Monetary Fund Loan.  Would those funds be in jeopardy because of the anti-democratic presidential decrees and crackdown on dissidents authorized by the Egyptian President?
The answer to that question is probably no.
“The latest developments could bring into question the stability of state institutions and raise doubts that could delay the loan,” stated an anonymous IMF official to Ahram Online.
“Broad-based domestic and international support will be crucial for the successful implementation of the planned policies,” Andreas Bauer, IMF Division Chief in the Middle East and Central Asia Department, stated last week.
“I do not think the IMF will rescind its agreement, but if the situation in Egypt deteriorates it could suspend the loan,” Samir Radwan, former Egyptian finance minister, told Ahram Online.
RESPONSE TO UNREST BY MORSI

On Monday, tensions rose in Egypt as protests continued in the streets.  An anxiously anticipated meeting between the judiciary and President Morsi took place late in the day.  It was an effort to negotiate a compromise between what the judiciary could accept, and what President Morsi was willing to relinquish of his newly-wrested powers.

The meeting ended with an announcement issued by Morsi’s spokesperson.  That statement was covered by a New York Times article which was headlined: “Egypt’s Leader Said to Agree to Limit Scope of Judicial Decree.”  Well, the title of the article is correct, Morsi did say that, but a more than cursory review of Morsi’s statement reveals something quite different.

Following his meeting with the Supreme Judicial Council, Morsi issued a statement that his decrees would only remain immune from judicial review in cases pertaining to “sovereign matters.”  But of course, it is entirely within Morsi’s control to decide what constitutes a “sovereign matter.”  In other words, there was no agreement whatsoever.

Members of Egypt’s Supreme Judicial Council told the Egypt Independent late on Monday, there had been no resolution to the crisis between the executive and judicial branches, and that while they had tried to reach an agreement, their efforts were in vain.
In other words, President Morsi is now not only immune from judicial review, he feels entirely comfortable in speaking for the judiciary, even when what he says completely contradicts the views of the judiciary.

On December 4, a case brought by lawyers and activists challenging Morsi’s power grab will be heard by a Cairo administrative court.  More than a dozen suits against the decree have been filed, according to Abdel Meguid Al-Moqannen, the deputy chief of the State Council, Egypt’s highest administrative body.

In one indication of Egypt’s Mohamed Morsi’s quirky rise to fame, Time Magazine included Morsi in its list of potential “2012 Person of the Year” candidates for online polling.

In the short time that Morsi has become almost a household name, he has gone from rock star status to one who is being referred to in the social media of Twitter as “Morsilini” and “Mubarak 2.0.”  He probably considers the latter a bigger insult.

UPDATE: During protests taking place today in Cairo, 50 year old Fathy Gharib, a member of the Socialist Popular Alliance Party (SPAP), died of asphyxiation from tear gas inhalation. According to eyewitnesses, there are hundreds of thousands of anti-Morsi protesters in the streets. Tahrir Square is bursting with people chanting.

Gimme Five

Tuesday, November 27th, 2012

This is U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Sarah Baker with a group of children during a security halt in Qalat City, Afghanistan. Baker is assigned to the Provincial Reconstruction Team Zabul’s security force and is deployed from Malmstrom Air Force Base, Montana.

It is a staged picture, obviously, directed by the photographer, or, worse, by headquarters’ PR person. They called the kids over and asked them to slap five, or worse, bussed the kids over from their neighborhood, or, worse yet, hired the kids and the soldier from Central Casting – we have no idea.

So that, strangely, this image of a female U.S. soldier joshing with a group of Afghani children represents bot a reality but a kind of visual wishful thinking. Because we know there aren’t in the world Afghani children joshing with U.S. soldiers, not in the wild, anyway. Because Afghanistan is quickly retreating into what it has always been, a backwards, mountainous, harsh land, with a warlike people who grow poppy and kill each other for sport.

Somehow, the U.S. leadership figured it could succeed in “civilizing” the Afghani, save their women from a life of slavery, educate their children, improve their hospitals – after the Soviet Union and the British Empire and half a dozen other invaders have failed.

Or maybe it just gave us something to do to while away the time and the budget. Folks got rich, nothing to scoff at.

So we’re looking at a soldier and some children pretending to be having some cross-cultural fun together, as dreamed up by a PR team in a conquered country soon to be left to its own devices at the whopping cost of many billions of dollars.

Your tax dollars at make-work?

Republicans, Don’t Give Up!

Monday, November 26th, 2012

The difference between victory and defeat often comes down to morale. You’ve seen it in baseball games and wars. It’s that faint sense of air leaking out of the balloon. A weariness and malaise that kicks in when one side decides it can’t win and doesn’t want to be here anymore.

November 2012 was not a defeat. It was a loss in a close election that rattled the Democrats by showing just how much of the country had turned on their savior. It was a rebuke to Obama’s mismanagement of the country and the economy over the last four years.

Or it would have been if the Republican Party had not reacted to its loss by screaming and wailing in despair after their hopes were ludicrously inflated by establishment posters. Followed by running around like a chicken without a head because we fell 400,000 votes short of winning key states. And this defeatist behavior has helped the media create the myth of a second-term mandate.

The country did not repudiate us. The majority of Americans did not pledge allegiance to some rotten post-American country. The majority stayed home. And that is damning, but it’s also comforting because these are the people we have to win over. They don’t believe in Obama, but they don’t believe in us either. They don’t believe in politics because it isn’t relevant to their lives.

The more Republicans treat the election as a renunciation of everything that they stand for or a reason to give up on the country, the more Democrats posture as having won a tremendous ideological and cultural victory, instead of a limited strategic victory. Our reaction legitimizes theirs.

Republican consultants and pollsters fed the dream of an easy victory and that vision of an inevitable victory made the actual defeat much more shocking and devastating. It made people despair thinking that if we couldn’t win an election this “easy”, then it’s completely hopeless. But this was never going to be an easy ride. Not against the first black man in the White House with a money advantage and the media in his pocket. Not against opponents running a coordinated smear campaign while rigging the economy in their favor.

Obama may have Carter’s policies times ten, but he also has the image and the ruthless political machine of JFK. And even Reagan had to work hard to beat Carter. It wasn’t the easy ride that some Republicans like to remember it as. Even though the economy was a disaster, the hostages were in Iran and Carter’s performance had been so bad that he had a high profile Democratic challenger in the form of Ted Kennedy who took the fight to the Convention; Reagan did not break out until the debate. Now imagine Reagan running against JFK. The man in the cowboy hat might have won, but let’s not pretend that it would have been any easier than it was for Romney.

Beating Obama was possible and for a brief shining moment the window was open, when Romney had one good debate performance, but then it closed again as the storm blew in and the polls filled up with the handpicked demographics of the welfare state. And we lost, but we also won.

Win or lose, elections send a message and the message for this election to Obama was not, “We like what you’ve been doing the last four years. Great job!”

Obama lost his mandate. To win, he had to run a divisive campaign dependent on minority groups. And that locks him in a box outside the mainstream. Forget any of that nonsense about bringing the country together again. That is over and done with. The transformation of Obama from mainstream leader to bellicose mouthpiece for the left was completed at his first post-election press-conference.

Republicans might understand what this means if they weren’t busy with an opportunistic internal civil war. And if sizable chunks of the rank and file weren’t busy proclaiming that no election can ever be won again because the demographics of the country had changed so dramatically and everyone is so addicted to free stuff.

Neither one is true.

The demographics have not made it impossible for Republicans to win, not unless Republicans make that a self-fulfilling prophecy by jumping on the amnesty express. And you can beat Santa Claus, because our fat red man is a redistributor and does not give or take equally from all.But doing that requires spending more time making a case on the specific individual economic impact , rather than endlessly singing the wonders of free enterprise and depending on enough people to align with your economic philosophy to carry you over the top.

Of Course I Celebrate Thanksgiving

Thursday, November 22nd, 2012

Somebody asked me if I am celebrating Thanksgiving? What a silly question! For a Jew, everyday is Thanksgiving! We thank God when we get up in the morning. We thank Him when we get dressed. We thank Him when we leave the lavatory. We thank Him when we eat. All day long a Jew is busy thanking God for all of the kindnesses which He bestows upon us every minute of our lives.

What about America’s Thanksgiving Day? Do I celebrate that? Of course I do!

I give thanks to God that I don’t live in America anymore.

I give thanks to God that I don’t live in a gentile land pretending that it’s perfectly OK to be there.

I give thanks to God that I don’t live in a gentile culture, speaking a gentile language, surrounded by gentile holidays, and gentile symbols, and gentile traditions.

I give thanks to God that I don’t live in a gentile country that constantly pressures Israel to slice up our Land like a turkey.

I give thanks to God that I don’t live in gentile country that constantly pressures Israel to cut up Jerusalem as if it were a sweet potato.

I give thanks to God that I don’t live in gentile country that pressures Israel not to eliminate a terrorist state bent on Israel’s destruction.

I give thanks to God that I don’t live in a gentile country which fosters mass assimilation.

I give thanks to God that my children grow up speaking Hebrew, and knowing who they are, without schizophrenic identities of belonging to an alien gentile nation.

On Thanksgiving Day, I give thanks to God that my children pledge allegiance to the Israel Defense Forces and not to the flag of a foreign government.

I give thanks To God that my children know that the forefather of their Nation was Avraham Avinu and not George Washington.

I give thanks to God that my children say that Jerusalem is their capital and not Washington D.C.

On Thanksgiving Day, I give thanks to God knowing that my children and grandchildren will marry Jews.

On Thanksgiving Day, I give thanks to God that I live in the Holy Land and not in the land of Disneyland.

On Thanksgiving Day, I give thanks to God that I live in Yerushalayim, ten minutes away from the Kotel.

On Thanksgiving Day, I give thanks to God that everything in the supermarket is kosher and that I don’t have to strain my eyes and put on my reading glasses to find little OUs.

On Thanksgiving Day, I give thanks to God for having answered the prayers of the Jewish People for 2000 years to return us to Zion, and for giving us a Jewish airline to get here, and for rebuilding Jerusalem and Jewish cities and settlements all over Israel, and for giving us a Jewish army that can defend us against our enemies .

On Thanksgiving Day, I give thanks to God for once again making Israel the Torah center of the world.

On Thanksgiving Day, I give thanks to God for letting me play an active part in the Redemption of our Nation just by raising my family here, sending my sons to the army, and doing whatever I can to help strengthen our Nation in our own Land.

Of course I celebrate Thanksgiving Day. Today, I am going to eat the biggest falafel I can!

Two More Lebanese Rockets Neutralized

Thursday, November 22nd, 2012

There are reports that two more rockets pointed at Israel from Lebanon were neutralized, presumably by the Lebanese army. Two earlier rockets were defused in Lebanon on Monday, November 19.

These 2 rockets were located near the town of Marjayoun.

Following the destruction of many buildings in Gaza by Israel, it is believed that people in Lebanon do not want to let Hezbollah drag them into a war with Israel that will result in the destruction of their country again.

Wedding During War

Wednesday, November 21st, 2012

Tomorrow, November 22, Miri Colman and Daniel Brooks are getting married.  Miri grew up in an observant family in Monsey, New York, and Daniel grew up in a secular household in Johannesburg, South Africa.  They each made Aliyah several years ago and became engaged this past spring.  They chose their wedding date, at least in part, because it coincided with the Thanksgiving holiday.

Last Wednesday evening, Miri and Daniel were savoring their last few hours together for the week because, as Ashkenazi Jews, they would not see each other during the week preceding their wedding.  Shortly before they were to say good-bye, Daniel’s phone rang.  He answered it, and learned he was being called up for military service.

He was told to call for instructions, which were terse.  Pack a bag, get his equipment, and immediately go to a certain base on a coastal city by midnight.  That meant he had to leave immediately.

Miri told The Jewish Press she began to cry, but Daniel automatically switched over into “soldier mode,” grabbed his bags, and within ten minutes he was gone.

When Daniel spoke with The Jewish Press, he admitted that he was completely surprised when he received his call-up phone message.  He explained, “it was the first day of the operation (Pillar of Defense), and we knew there was tension in the South, but I had no idea we would be called up.”

Daniel had grown to love Israel through his involvement with the Bnei Akiva movement in Johannesburg.  It was because of that experience that after high school he moved by himself to a country where he had no family.

Daniel is part of the Hesder Yeshiva program, one in which young religious men commit to a five year program that combines Torah study and military service.  Daniel is in the last few months of the program, a time in which he and his colleagues are – or at least were – in the study phase of the program.  Daniel studies at the Har Etzion Yeshiva, known to most as simply, “Gush.”

After arriving at the first base at midnight last Wednesday, Brooks and his colleagues completed their preliminary tasks, and the next day were transferred down, further south.

Miri is completing nursing school at Machon Tal.  She came to Israel after high school to study for a year at a seminary.  She went to Midreshet Moriah.  It was then Miri decided to make Aliyah.  She told The Jewish Press that she felt very connected to Israel, that she felt “at home” there, and experienced a great sense of Jewish pride.

Miri and Daniel met through mutual friends.  Their families and friends have had airplane reservations for months, so that they could all be together for the wedding.  And less than a week before that wedding, Daniel and his unit were in the southern part of the country, preparing to enter Gaza if that decision was made by the Israeli government.

But, encouraged by his buddies in his unit, Daniel informed his commanding officer, who then informed his commanding officer, and so on, that he was to be married in less than a week.  Friday morning Daniel learned he could return home.  He then trekked back across the tiny slip of a country, and was back in Gush Etzion in time for his Shabbat Chatan, the Shabbat named for the groom.

Daniel explained how hard it was for him to be back in the Gush, while his buddies, with whom he has studied and trained for years, were down in the south, prepared to enter Gaza if that is the order they receive.  He said, “it’s very hard, I’ve been through so much with them, and now they are there and I am here.”

So how was he able to come to terms with that separation?  It was because of the advice from his friends in his unit.  They told him, “you have to go home because the only reason we fight is so that we can build Jewish families and Jewish homes.  That is what you are going home to do.”

Tomorrow – G-d willing – Miri Coleman and Daniel Brooks will be married in Jerusalem.

 

 

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