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September 29, 2016 / 26 Elul, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘Middle East’

Israel Engaged in Secret Efforts to Obtain Restitution for Jewish Refugees from Arab Countries

Thursday, July 14th, 2016

By Jonathan Benedek/TPS

Jerusalem (TPS) – The State of Israel is engaged in clandestine efforts to obtain restitution for the lost or stolen property of Jews who fled Arab countries after the State of Israel was founded. This was revealed in a discussion of the Knesset’s Committee for Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Affairs on Wednesday morning.

“The expatriates from Arab countries fled, leaving their property behind,” said MK Avraham Neguise, the committee chairman. “We want to do historical justice by making sure that this property is finally restored to its owners.”

Hundreds of thousands of Jews living in Arab countries and the Middle East already faced persecution on the eve of Israel’s establishment in 1948. Once Israel declared its independence, they had to flee.

According to Avi Cohen, director general of the Social Equality Ministry, which helps funnel support to the poorer sectors in Israeli society, Israel has already been acting clandestinely to restore some of the property that belonged to hundreds of thousands of Jewish refugees, investing millions of shekels to do so.

“Classified work is currently underway, in conjunction with the Foreign Ministry, in which we will invest millions to restore the property of Arab and Iranian Jewry,” Cohen said. “The work will come to fruition within four to six weeks. I cannot say more than that.”

Although Iran’s Jewish community did not face the same repercussions as Jews in Arab countries did in 1948, tens of thousands of Iranian Jews fled Iran following the Islamic Revolution in 1979.

The officials at the meeting made other suggestions regarding restitution. Opposition leader and Zionist Union chairman MK Isaac Herzog hinted that a regional agreement would give Israel an opportunity to make the issue a top priority.

“The topic was mentioned explicitly in our elections platform,” Herzog said. “If there should be movement toward a regional agreement, the topic must definitely be placed on the agenda.”

Ze’ev Ben Yosef, a member of the World Likud executive committee, was skeptical of Herzog’s idea.

“It’s problematic to link the issue of restitution to a political agreement because the other side is in no hurry to reach such an agreement,” he said.

Others who were present argued that the issue of the lost or stolen property belonging to Jews who fled Arab and Muslim countries should gain more international recognition, especially since the UN gave refugee status to Palestinians and their descendants who fled their homes during Israel’s War of Independence.

“The moment that the UN supports refugees from Arab countries, it must recognize that there are Jewish refugees,” said Eli Gabbay, a former MK of the National Religious Party. “It must be guaranteed, through a political process, that just as the UN grants funds to the Arab refugees, it will make restitution to the Jewish refugees.”

MK Anat Berko (Likud), a descendant of Jewish refugees from Iraq, echoed Gabbay’s statement. “If you want to recognize Arab refugees, you must also recognize Jewish refugees,” she said. “I, too, see myself as a daughter of Iraqi-Jewish refugees.”

TPS / Tazpit News Agency

Suicide Bomber Turned ‘Peace Activist’ Refused Entry into Israel

Thursday, July 14th, 2016

Shifa al-Qudsi was 24, a beauty technician from Tulkarem, when she was planning to blow up a supermarket in the Israeli coastal town of Netanya. Back in 2007, while still in Israeli security prison, she told Judith Miller that although the suicide vest that was stuffed with explosives, nails, ball bearings and various metal fragments, weighed close to 40 pounds, it felt “like roses on my shoulders. I was even more eager to do it after I put the vest on. Many would have died. No fence in the world would have stopped me.”

With that kind of a self professed reputation, is it any wonder that the same Shifa al-Qudsi was refused entry into Israel Thursday, when she wanted to attend the world premiere of a new documentary titled “Disturbing the Peace,” in which she appears.

According to the official press packet, “Director Steve Apkon’s documentary conveys a universal story about the human ability to see beyond the narratives which we tend to accept as reality, and challenging convention in the struggle for freedom.” In essence, the film’s protagonists liberate themselves from the war stories that no longer serve their purpose, because, let’s face it, most Israelis are not buying the Arab peace offers — in favor of an alternative narrative and a new vision which sees Israel giving up through peaceful means what it has been refusing to abandon in battle.

The special screening will take place Thursday at the Jerusalem Film Festival at 2:15 PM, by al-Qudsi’s brothers and sisters in arms who have not been barred by Israel’s visa authorities. The screening will be followed by Q&A with Stephen Apkon Apkon and the “Combatants for Peace” activists who appear in the film.

Al-Qudsi was arrested in a dawn raid at her home in April 2002, having been turned in by an Arab informer in the terrorists’ ranks. She was convicted and served six years in prison. After her release she joined the “Combatants for Peace,” a group of Arabs and Israelis who have served in the IDF and in terror organizations. “We – serving our peoples, raised weapons which we aimed at each other and saw each other only through gun sights – have established Combatants for Peace on the basis of the following principles,” their website states:

1. “We believe that the conflict cannot be resolved through military means by either of the parties.” (check)

2. “We call for the establishment of an independent Palestinian state with its capital in East Jerusalem, based on the border of June 4, 1967, alongside Israel. The two countries will prevail side by side in peace, security and good neighborly relations.” Or, in other words, we insist that the agenda of one side (the terrorists) will be accepted over that of the other side (folks who served in the IDF). Totally evenhanded.

3. “Our direction is that of nonviolent struggle and we call on both nations to join us to achieve peace and reconciliation between Palestinians and Israelis. We urge the political leadership to take bold steps to commence serious negotiations to end the conflict and desist from taking unilateral steps aimed at placing obstacles in the face of this goal and prolonging the conflict, including the construction of settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, whose purpose is the perpetuation of the conflict and the blocking of any chance of real peace.” In other words, we’d like to have peace all around, but do remove those half a million pesky Jews from the homes where they’ve lived for the past four or five decades.

With so much peace and love, how could Israel refuse entry to Shifa al-Qudsi who merely asks the Jewish State to continue her unconsummated suicide bombing through non-violent action?

Which is why Combatants for Peace leaders Udi Gur and Mohamad Awedah released a statement saying, “Israel’s limiting visa policy for peace movements consistently encumbers the Palestinian voice calling for the end of the conflict from being conveyed to the Israeli public. Combatants for Peace Palestinian members’ voices are critical and non-violent. The Israeli public deserves to hear that change is possible, as Shifa’s process illustrates, and the attempt to silence her is meant to tear the two nations apart and bring despair — but we believe there is another path, the path of hope.”

And that “hope,” as always, is the hope of seeing the Jewish State disappear eventually from the map of the Middle East, as it will be swallowed up by the already existing three Palestinian states of Jordan, the PA and Hamas-Gaza.

JNi.Media

UN Secy-Gen Ban Ki-Moon Rants to Security Council on Israel, Ramallah & Gaza

Tuesday, July 12th, 2016

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told a special meeting of the UN Security Council on Tuesday that he is dissatisfied with all the players in the Israel-Palestinian Authority drama. The outgoing international leader addressed the meeting on the situation in the Middle East, offering his assessment of how he believes peace can best be achieved in the region going forward.

Ban ranted in a long statement about myriad issues regarding Israel, the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority government and Gaza’s ruling Hamas terrorist organization. He clearly had long felt deep frustration about all three players.

High on the list of the issues that earned his “concern” was the passage in Israel this week of an NGO Transparency Law, approved by the Knesset on Monday. But Ban also expressed disgust over: – Israel’s continued plans to build housing for its residents in Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem, – Palestinian Authority leaders’ continued glorification of terrorism to its people and incitement of attacks against Israelis and Jews, and – Gaza’s Hamas rulers’ continued unwillingness to unite in a single government with the Ramallah-based PA leadership, stop stealing donated building supplies from its people for the construction of its terror tunnel infrastructure, and focus on peace, not war.

The NGO Transparency Law so despised by the UN leader forces some 27 mostly leftist Israeli non-governmental organizations who receive more than half of their financial support from foreign governments to report the source and amount of that funding to the government, and to reveal the information on every piece of literature they produce.

The United States Internal Revenue Service maintains similar regulations for tax-exempt non-profit organizations under the IRS 501(c)3 and other codes.

Ban visited Israel and the Palestinian Authority last month. He said that a report issued by the Middle East Quartet (United States, the Russian Federation, the European Union and the United Nations) makes it clear that “the prospects of a two-state solution grow more distant,” even as “negative trends” are rising. He named Israel’s NGO Transparency Law as one of those trends.

“The failure of Israeli and Palestinian leaders to advance peace has created a vacuum. Extremist voices have filled that space,” Ban said.

“Recent incidents reinforce the mounting risks. Those responsible for recent terror attacks must be held accountable. However, closures – such as those in Hebron — as well as punitive demolitions and blanket revocations of permits penalize thousands of innocent Palestinians and amount to collective punishment,” he went on.

Ban said “Israel’s passage of the so-called ‘NGO Transparency Law’… contributes to a climate in which the activities of human rights organisations are increasingly delegitimized.

Just as bad, he complained, “All the while, Israel’s settlement enterprise marches on. Days after the Quartet called on Israel to cease settlement construction and expansion, Israel announced plans to advance building approximately 560 housing units in the West Bank and 240 more in occupied East Jerusalem. This is in flagrant disregard of international law. These actions constitute an undeniable contradiction to Israel’s official support for a negotiated two-state solution.

“I urge Israel to immediately cease and reverse these plans,” he said. “We must ask: How can the systematic expansion of settlements … the taking of land for exclusive Israeli use … and the denial of Palestinian development be a response to violence? Such policies will not bring the two-state solution closer to reality.

“Such policies will not make Israelis safer or more secure,” Ban insisted. “As many former Israeli military and intelligence officers have clearly stated, these policies will do precisely the opposite. Indeed, every brick added to the edifice of occupation is another taken from Israel’s foundation as a majority Jewish and democratic state.”

Hana Levi Julian

Danon Warns UN Security Council Hezbollah Snuggles Bases Among Civilian Homes, Schools

Tuesday, July 12th, 2016

Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon warned the UN Security Council at a special meeting Tuesday that Lebanon’s Hezbollah guerrilla terrorist group is aiming some 120,000 missiles at Israeli cities; a number far higher than the 7,000 rockets the group had in 2006.

In fact, Danon produced evidence that supported his claim that Hezbollah possesses more missiles in its underground arsenal than the entire European membership of NATO together maintain above ground.

Worse, perhaps, is the fact that the group has built many of its bases next to children’s schools — a human-shield tactic used by Hamas terrorists in Gaza.

At the meeting, which was held to discuss the situation in the Middle East, Danon shared new intelligence which included aerial imagery of a village that had been transformed into a terrorist base.

“The village of Shakra in southern Lebanon has become a terrorist stronghold,” Danon told the Council. “One in every three buildings there is being used for terrorist infrastructure which includes launching pads for missiles, weapons caches and more.

“Nor has Hezbollah stopped here; it chose to situate its bases next to schools and other public structures. And in so doing, it has endangered innocent civilians,” he said.

Weapons are also being stored in civilian areas, according to IDF soldiers who spoke with the BBC. “Every mission that I’ve been on personally has been observing Hezbollah operations in a heavily populated area,” a soldier told the UK-based media outlet. “In a house with a family living in it, or in a house next door or behind it.” “It is the responsibility of the UN Security Council to evict Hezbollah from southern Lebanon,” Danon emphasized.

The IDF pointed out in an article published Tuesday on its English-language blog that Hezbollah has joined Iran in working to destablize the entire Middle East, with footholds around the world. “This Shi’ite militia from Southern Lebanon has grown into a sizable international threat,” according to Israel’s military analysts.

Hezbollah trains, funds and fights alongside armies and militias that promote Iranian interests and ideologies, exacerbating conflicts not only throughout the Middle East, but also by exporting chaos well beyond their borders.

Former national security adviser IDF General (ret.)Yaakov Amidror told the BBC on Tuesday that Hezbollah’s firepower is magnified more than ten-fold over what it was before the 2006 Second Lebanon War.

“Now they have more than 120,000 rockets and missiles,” Amidror said. “It’s a huge number that you don’t find in any country in Europe, for example. When you see all these efforts, you ask yourself one question: what for?”

Hana Levi Julian

Spanish, Portuguese Jews Support Sephardi and Mizrahi Heritage Empowerment Program

Friday, July 8th, 2016

Reconectar, the movement to reconnect the descendants of Spanish and Portuguese Jewish communities and the Jewish world, welcomed the recommendations made by Israel’s Ministry of Education’s Committee to Empower the Heritage of Sephardi and Mizrahi Jews in the Education System, led by Chairman Erez Biton.

“It is an important day for Sephardi Jews where our history, culture and tradition will be recognized and taught in the Israeli school system,” President of Reconectar Ashley Perry (Perez) said. “This has taken far too long, but it is vital that the scope of Jewish history and culture be widened to include Jews from the Mediterranean, North Africa and the Middle East.”

“However, there is still more work to be done and it should be widened further to include our millions of Sephardi brothers and sisters who were forcibly disconnected from us over the centuries and are seeking a reconnection to the Jewish world. Our education system should be preparing the formal Jewish world for the immense and necessary challenge of reconnecting our people,” Perry said.

Beginning in the 14th Century, hundreds of thousands of Jews were forcibly converted, or otherwise disconnected from the Jewish People, and many among their descendants, numbering around 100 million, are seeking different levels of reconnection with Israel and the Jewish world.

Perry, who is also Director General of the Knesset Caucus for the Reconnection with the Descendants of Spanish and Portuguese Jewish Communities, Chaired by MK Robert Ilatov, said that the more Israeli children travel to Spain, as the recommendations state, the more they will encounter the story of the Anousim who are becoming more and more aware of their Jewish roots.

“We have an enormous opportunity to use our shared history and traditions, to empower and embolden relations with those who share our roots and heritage whether in the Iberian Peninsula, Latin America or among Latinos and Hispanics in the US,” Perry said. “We have a moral, ethical and even a halakhic mandate to do so, and the more we learn about our roots in the Hispanic world and the more the Hispanic world learns about their possible Jewish roots, the closer the potential relations between our communities will grow.”

Perry was also heavily involved in placing the issue of the Jewish refugees from Arab countries on the national and international agenda while he worked in government as advisor to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and other politicians, including former MK Dr. Shimon Ohayon, who passed a law to create a day of commemoration in the official Israeli calendar.

“The history of the Jews of the Middle East and North Africa is sadly overlooked, even though every other Jew in Isr

ael comes from this region,” Perry said. “It is vital for Jewish Peoplehood that the vibrant and ancient Jewish communities of the Middle East and North Africa and their subsequent ethnic cleansing in the Twentieth Century are understood and studied.”

“It is absurd that it has taken 68 years for Sephardi and Mizrahi Jews to be able to learn about their own history and culture, and it is hoped that their history will be placed on an equal plane to the history of other Jews from around the world,” Perry said.

Jewish Press Staff

Celebrate International Chocolate Day Jerusalem Style

Thursday, July 7th, 2016

July 7 is International Chocolate Day, so Claude BenSimon, head pastry chef of the Waldorf Astoria Jerusalem, has unveiled two new chocolate dishes: Louie’s Mousse and Waldorf 28. Both have been added to the menu of the the hotel’sKing’s Court Restaurant. Waldorf Astoria Jerusalem opened in 2014, has been named Top Hotel In the Middle East and 7th in the world by Conde Nast Traveler Magazine, and has received international praise for its innovative cuisine.

A second generation pastry chef, Bensimon was trained in the bakeshops and pastry kitchens of Paris, including the Michelin-rated Taillevent, and worked under pastry designer Jacques Genin. In 2001 BenSimon immigrated to Israel and in 2013 joined the Waldorf Astoria Jerusalem staff as head Pastry Chef.

“Louie’s Mousse” by Chef Claude Ben-Simon
Yields up to 5 medium cups

Part 1—Milk Chocolate Chantilly Cream

Ingredients
1 ¼ cup (10 fl oz) Heavy Cream
1 ¼ cup (1/2 lb) Milk Chocolate

Preparation:
Bring the cream to a boil and then add, in 3 parts, the boiling cream into the chocolate while stirring during every addition
Allow the cream to cool down for at least 4 hours in the refrigerator
After it has cooled, place the cream in a pastry bag with a St. Honore nozzle

Part 2—Vanilla Crumble

Ingredients:
5 ½ oz (11 Tbsp) cold butter cut into cubes
2 ¾ oz (6 ½ Tbsp) sugar
1 ¼ Tbsp salt
1 ¼ cups flour
2 ½ cups crumbled almonds
3 oz light brown sugar

Preparation:
Mix the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl
Add the butter and mix gently until you get the dough becomes pea size crumble
Move the mixture into a baking pan with parchment paper and bake at 320 degrees Fahrenheit for about 15 minutes, or until the crumble is golden brown and crispy
Take the pan out and put on the side to cool.

Part 3—Exotic Coulis

Ingredients:
3 ½ oz (7 Tbsp) banana puree
2 ¾ oz mango puree
1 ½ oz apricot puree
2 ¼ oz passion fruit puree
1 stick of vanilla bean, scraped
¼ cup white sugar

Preparation
In a medium sized pan, add the fruit puree. Scrape the vanilla pod into the pan, and mix with the sugar over a low flame.
While the pan is on a medium flame, bring the mixture to a boil for about 7 minutes until the mixture becomes thick to nappy consistency.
Remove from the flame and set aside in the refrigerator before using.

Assembly:
In a medium-sized cup, first place a spoonful of exotic coulis. Over this place 2 spoonfuls of vanilla crumble. Pipe out the cream to the rim of the cup. Decorate with crushed nuts and serve.

JNi.Media

Analysis: Trump’s Praise for Saddam Challenges GOP Presidents Who Took him Down [video]

Wednesday, July 6th, 2016

“He was a bad guy, really bad guy. But you know what? He did well. He killed terrorists. He did that so good. They didn’t read them the rights. They didn’t talk. They were terrorists. Over,” Donald Trump said at a campaign rally in Raleigh, North Carolina Tuesday. In comparison, Trump said, “today, Iraq is Harvard for terrorism. You want to be a terrorist, you go to Iraq. It’s like Harvard. Okay? So sad.”

That assertion may be challenged by Israelis, as Clinton’s senior campaign adviser Jake Sullivan told CNN, “In reality, Hussein’s regime was a sponsor of terrorism — one that paid families of suicide bombers who attacked Israelis, among other crimes.”

Then Sullivan added that “Trump’s cavalier compliments for brutal dictators, and the twisted lessons he seems to have learned from their history, again demonstrate how dangerous he would be as commander-in-chief and how unworthy he is of the office he seeks.”

Not necessarily so. In retrospect, after the violent collapse of the “Arab Spring” everywhere but in Tunisia, Trump’s assessment of what the Arab world requires to keep it stable is not necessarily democracy. Back in October, 2015, Trump said he believed Iraq and Libya would be more useful in forging a stable Middle East if ruthless dictators like Saddam Hussein and Moammar Gadhafi had not been terminated by a succession of American presidents.

“If you look at Iraq from years ago,” Trump said in October, “I’m not saying [Hussein] was a nice guy, he was a horrible guy, but it was a lot better than it is right now. Right now, Iraq is a training ground for terrorists. Right now Libya, nobody even knows Libya, frankly there is no Iraq and there is no Libya. It’s all broken up. They have no control. Nobody knows what’s going on.”

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) rushed to the defense of both Bushes and Obama, telling Fox News’ Megyn Kelly that Saddam Hussein “was one of the 20th century’s most evil people. He was up there. He committed mass genocide against his own people using chemical weapons. Saddam Hussein was a bad guy.”

Yes, but, in the immortal words of FDR, when someone asked him about the wisdom of supporting Nicaraguan dictator Anastasio Somoza, “He may be an SOB but he’s our SOB.” Back in 1979, when Iran’s Shah was overthrown by the Islamic Revolution, giving way to an Islamic republic led by the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, which drove the US out of Iran (and kept hundreds of American hostages), only Saddam Hussein was able to limit the spread of Iranian influence in the region. The Iran–Iraq War lasted from September 1980 to August 1988, exacting millions of victims in the service of Western interests in the region. No Arab democracy (an oxymoron if ever there was one) could have stopped Iran. The only force able to facilitate Iran’s yearning for regional hegemony were presidents Bush I and Bush II, followed by Obama.

On July 25, 1990, US ambassador to Iraq April Glaspie held an emergency meeting with Saddam, who attacked American policy with regards to Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates. Saddam complained bitterly: “So what can it mean when America says it will now protect its friends? It can only mean prejudice against Iraq. This stance plus maneuvers and statements which have been made has encouraged the UAE and Kuwait to disregard Iraqi rights.”

Saddam was referring to his neighboring oil sheiks “drilling sideways” into Iraqi deposits. Saddam viewed the entire concept of there even being a country named Kuwait to have been a conspiracy of British Petroleum and Her Majesty’s government to steal oil-rich Iraqi land. Saddam felt that in light of his service to the US, he should receive its support in his conflict with the Kuwaitis.

Ambassador Glaspie replied that the US would rather see the conflict resolved through peaceful means, but in the end, “…we have no opinion on the Arab-Arab conflicts, like your border disagreement with Kuwait.”

And so, after his ultimatum to the Sabah ruling family of Kuwait had failed, Saddam invaded Kuwait, believing the US was going to take a neutral position on his move. But his move frightened the Saudis, whose Ambassador under both Bush administrations had his own desk in the Oval office, and they pressured Bush I to start what is now a 26-year program of completely destabilizing the Middle East, complete with attacks on US soil, lingering civil wars in Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan, two worldwide Islamic terrorist armies, one of them a Caliphate wannabe blowing up half of Europe. All of which could have been avoided had the Bush I and certainly Bush II administrations been more accommodating to the monstrous dictator who used to be our monstrous dictator.

The Democratic and Republican establishments insist on presenting Trump as an admirer of dictators, which he may be — but that was not the case Trump has been making for boosting rather than unseating dictators, such as Bashar al-Assad in Syria. Trump has a much clearer view regarding US foreign interest than do the establishment politicians on either side of the aisle, and it ain’t about spreading the spirit od democracy and goodwill to all mankind.

JNi.Media

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