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January 17, 2017 / 19 Tevet, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘Mideast’

Catholic Patriarchs Bewail Torment, Disappearance, of Mid-East Christians

Thursday, December 29th, 2016

The Middle East’s Catholic patriarchs have issued Christmas messages lamenting the suffering of the region’s Christians from severe persecution, according to CNS, the official news organ of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Syriac Catholic Patriarch Ignace Joseph III Younan called attention to “our beloved brothers and sisters of Syria and Iraq […] deprived of the Christmas joy, having endured the horrible consequences of war, violence, and all kind of persecutions,” noting that “they suffered “all this hardship” because of their Christian faith.”

The patriarch added that Christians were “uprooted from their lands and driven out unjustly from their homes by barbarian terrorists, in Mosul and the Plain of Nineveh, Iraq,” referring to the exodus of some 100,000 Christians – including at least 60,000 Syriac Catholics – when the region was overtaken by Islamic State militants in 2014.

“How would they welcome Christmas, but in tears and anxiety for their future!” the patriarch wrote.

Cardinal Bechara Rai, patriarch of Maronite Catholics, speaking from Bkerke, the patriarchate north of Beirut, appealed to the international community to work to end terrorism “that is killing and displacing families and depriving them of their rights and dignities.”

Melkite Catholic Patriarch Gregoire III Laham stressed that “today in the Middle East, the cradle of Christianity, the Christian presence is threatened […] by wars that have given rise to this terrifying exodus, especially of Christians.”

Chaldean Patriarch Louis Sako wrote from Baghdad, that “amidst the concerns and worries of Iraqis, Syrians, and people of the Middle East, in which children and civilians are victims of a harsh war, millions of persons are displaced from their homes, driven out of their lands and are living in tragic conditions, after the destruction of their towns’ infrastructure.”

The genocide of Christian minorities in Iraq, Syria and Libya by the Islamic groups, including ISIS climaxed following the collapse of parts of Northern Iraq in June 2014. According to US diplomats, the region’s “Christians have borne a heavy burden given their small numbers.”

In February, 2016, the EU recognized in a unanimous vote the persecution of Christians by ISIS as genocide. The US Congress followed suit in March 2016, also declaring, in a unanimous vote, these atrocities as genocide. In April 2016 the British Parliament voted unanimously to denounce the same actions as genocide.

A similar motion failed in Canada when it was opposed by the majority of PM Justin Trudeau’s Liberal Party.

JNi.Media

The US Must Support a Safe Haven for Persecuted Mideast Christians

Tuesday, October 25th, 2016

{Authored by Mario Bramnick, a pastor and attorney who is president of the Hispanic Israel Leadership Coalition (HILC), and originally posted to the JNS website}
Great suffering is occurring in Iraq and Syria. The region is ravaged by terror. Millions have been forced from their homes. Hundreds of thousands have been killed. And Christians and other ethno-religious minorities have suffered genocide at the hands of ISIS.

The decision to completely withdraw US troops from Iraq left a power vacuum that was filled by terror groups bent on destroying Western civilization.

Now, ISIS is targeting Iraqi Christians specifically because they are Christian, because they stand in the way of the terror organization’s goal of establishing a pure Islamic caliphate in the Middle East and beyond.

In March, the US House of Representatives voted unanimously to declare that the Islamic State’s slaughter of Christians in Iraq and Syria amounted to genocide, and, under extreme pressure, Secretary of State John Kerry joined Congress in this declaration.

Yet, while the State Department has brought thousands of Muslim refugees into the country, the plight of Christians had been intentionally overlooked. Out of 10,000 Syrians refugees permitted into the US, only 56 were Christian — though Christians make up 10 percent of Syria’s population.

We must protect our Christian-Arab brothers and sisters suffering from this terrible genocide in Muslim countries. As Reverend Samuel Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference (NHCLC), has said, “It’s time for the church to help create a firewall of protection against the persecution of Arab Christians.”

Solutions are already being proposed for this effort.

Congressman Jeff Fortenberry (R-Neb.) introduced a resolution that provides American support for the establishment of a safe haven province in the Nineveh Plains region of Northern Iraq.

“This genocide has been recognized by the full weight and moral authority of the United States and many international entities, and it provides a gateway for further policy considerations,” Fortenberry said when introducing the resolution. “One next step must be the resecuritization and revitalization of the Nineveh Plain, allowing the repatriation of those who had to flee.”

The Nineveh safe haven would provide protection for religious minorities, allowing them to rebuild their homes and restore their cultures without fear of death, torture or destruction.

Robert Nicholson, executive director of the Philos Project, which promotes positive Christian engagement in the Middle East, said, “As indigenous people, they have a right to stay. They need protection, especially in places where they were targeted for genocidal elimination. The Iraqi government and the Kurdish Regional Government have recognized the need for the Nineveh Plain Province. It’s time for United States to do the same.”

A protected, semi-autonomous region would also help decentralize the Iraqi government, which is crucial to maintaining stability in a post-Islamic State power vacuum.

“If we don’t decentralize, the country will disintegrate,” Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abad said in April 2015. “To me, there are no limitations to decentralization.”

As Christian refugees look to return to their abandoned homes in Iraq, they need security guarantees. The province proposed in Nineveh would be a solid foothold in the preservation and restoration of Christianity in the Middle East.

As Christians, we support the Fortenberry resolution, H. Con. Res. 152, and hope all Americans will join us in doing so as well.

JNS News Service

Suspect In Manhattan Bombing ‘Radicalized’ By Trips To Mideast

Wednesday, September 21st, 2016

Following a shootout with police, Ahmad Khan Rahami, a naturalized American of Afghani descent, was arrested Monday in Linden, New Jersey, in connection with a series of bombings in New York and New Jersey last weekend.

As of late Tuesday he’d been charged with five counts of attempted murder of a law enforcement officer. Two officers were wounded in the gunfight that ended with his arrest.

People who know him said Rahami, 28, had made several lengthy visits to Afghanistan and Pakistan and that the trips seemed to have radicalized him.

As of Tuesday, Rahami was the lone suspect in an explosion caused by a homemade pressure cooker in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood on Saturday night that injured 29 people. He was also believed to be connected to another unexploded pressure cooker bomb found nearby in Manhattan as well as a pipe bomb that exploded in a garbage bin in Seaside Heights, New Jersey, on Saturday that appeared to target a charity race for members of the U.S. Marine Corps.

On Sunday night, authorities found five pipe bombs near a train station in Elizabeth, New Jersey, that they believe are connected Rahami, who lived a short distance away where he worked in his family’s fried chicken eatery.

According to the Associated Press, the FBI looked into Rahami two years ago after his father called with concerns that his son might be a terrorist, a law enforcement official said Tuesday. But the father retracted the claim and told investigators he meant his son was hanging out with the wrong crowd.

The FBI checked its databases and found nothing connecting Rahami to terror groups, the official said.

The father had contacted the FBI after Rahami was charged with stabbing his brother, according to the official, who was not authorized to discuss the investigation and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.

Reaction from elected officials varied in the aftermath of the Manhattan bombing.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo hinted the attacks appeared to have been terror operations directed by foreign elements.

President Obama released a statement to the American people in which he addressed the bombings but did not use the word “terrorism.”

The two major party presidential candidates addressed the attack as well. Republican nominee Donald Trump warned that the bombings were a sign of the current administration’s weakness against terror. “We’re weak. Under Obama and Clinton’s watch America has suffered more attacks at home than it has achieved triumphs overseas. We need to change that.”

Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton declared that “this is a real threat, but we won’t be cowed by it.” In a press conference in New York, she added that “we will protect our country and we will defeat terror.”

Following the announcement Monday morning that Rahami was a suspect, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, who had pointedly avoided calling the attacks terrorism, said the investigation was “definitely leading” in the direction of terrorism.

Meanwhile, in another incident on Saturday, a man who made reference to Allah and asked at least one person if he were a Muslim, stabbed and wounded nine people inside a Minnesota mall. On Sunday, Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack. Authorities are still investigating the incident.

Addressing the weekend attacks, Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) said it’s important to avoid political correctness

“To me, it’s why the NSA is important. It’s why surveillance of communities where these threats could coming from is important, why we can’t allow overconcern about civil liberties to get in the way of solid law enforcement,” King told CBS’s “Face the Nation.”

“Let’s not let political correctness stop the police and the FBI from doing the investigations that they have to do. I have used the example many times, when you’re going after the Mafia, you go to the Italian community, Irish communities when you are looking for the Westies. And right now, if the threat is from Islamist terrorism, we go to Muslim communities. You don’t look for the Ku Klux Klan in Harlem.”

King said it may take several days to learn definitively whether there is a homegrown or international terrorist link to the bombings in Manhattan and New Jersey.

He said regardless of the motivation, Americans have to realize that “we are always vulnerable to these type of attacks.”

 

(JNS, INN, CNS, Jewish Press staff)

Combined News Services

UN Mid-East Peace Envoy Pins Jewish Homes as Source of Strife

Tuesday, August 30th, 2016

UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov told the Security Council in his regular briefing Monday that recommendations offered by the so-called Middle East Quartet, comprising the US, Russia, the EU and the UN, on the way forward in the peace process have been ignored by Israel, pointing to a surge in Israeli settlement-related announcements and continuing demolitions of illegal Arab construction in Area C, which is under full israeli control. The Quartet’s recommendations include an end to Israel’s settlement policy and a halt to the PA’s incitement to violence.

Mladenov reported that a major threat to peace is the fact that since the beginning of July Israel has advanced plans for more than 1,000 housing units in eastern Jerusalem, which has been part of Israel proper for almost 50 years. He pointed to promised new apartments in Pisgat Ze’ev, Ramot, Har Homa, and Gilo, as well as to 735 units in Ma’ale Adumim and other Judea and Samaria communities as the culprits.

Mladenov also noted that Israel has published tenders, some new, for 323 units in eastern Jerusalem and reissued tenders for 42 units in Kiryat Arba, near Hebron, for which it also allocated more than $13 million in new funding.

The envoy had nothing to report on efforts to reduce anti-Semitic PA and Hamas incitement, so all must be well on that front. He did report violent incidents over the past month that included the extrajudicial execution by the Palestinian Security Forces of a man in custody; the firing of two rockets from Gaza, to which Israel responded by directing some 60 missiles and shells at 30 suspected military installations in Gaza; and the killing by the Israeli Security Forces of an Arab man who was reportedly under psychiatric care.

Turning to Gaza, Mladenov said that while progress has been made on reconstructing the physical damage since the ceasefire agreement two years ago, repairing the psychological damage of the conflict is “miles away” from being over. “We need a radical overhaul of how we deal with the problems of Gaza,” he said. He failed to mention the arrests and indictments by Israel of an international charity administrator and a UNDP employee, both of whom confessed to directing millions of dollars in international funds to the terrorist activities of Hamas — which may have had something to do with the fact that all those ruined buildings are yet to be rebuilt.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office released a statement in response to the envoy’s report, saying, “The UN envoy to the Middle East’s remarks to the Security Council distort history and international law and push peace farther away. Jews have been in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria for thousands of years and their presence there is not an obstacle to peace. The obstacle to peace is the unending attempt to deny the Jewish People’s connection to parts of their historic land and the obdurate refusal to recognize that they are not foreigners there. The claim that Jewish construction in Jerusalem is illegal is as absurd as the claim that American construction in Washington or French construction in Paris is illegal. The Palestinian demand that a future Palestinian state be ethnically cleansed of Jews is outrageous and the UN must condemn it instead of adopting it.”

JNi.Media

Head of Mid-East Think Tank Suing Obama over Aid to Nuclear Israel

Friday, August 12th, 2016

Grant Smith, director of the Institute for Research: Middle East Policy (IRMEP), has filed a lawsuit against the entire US government, including President Obama, Secretary Kerry, CIA Director Brennan and Defense Secretary Carter, seeking declaratory and injunctive relief for the $234 billion the US has given Israel in military foreign aid since 1976 — in violation of US law that prohibits aiding countries with nuclear capability who are non-signatories to the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT).

Smith insists that his lawsuit is not about foreign policy (which the court would have dismissed outright), but “about the rule of law, presidential power, the structural limits of the US Constitution, and the right of the public to understand the functions of government and informed petition of the government for redress.”

In an article Smith published in Sept. 2014, when the current lawsuit was initially launched (Lawsuit Challenges U.S. “Ambiguity” Toward Israel’s Nuclear Arsenal), he explains his real reasons why Israel must not be allowed to have a nuclear arsenal:

“In a crisis or time of increased tension, Israel can threaten to use its arsenal as a lever to coerce the transfer of US military supplies and other support rather than pursue peaceful alternatives,” Smith argues, adding that “the international community views the US as hypocritical when it cites the NPT in reference to Iran or North Korea.”

Actually, we’ve seen up close how the international community views this “hypocrisy” just a year ago. As soon as it became clear in the summer of 2015 that Iran was going to be allowed to develop its nuclear weapon, Saudi Arabia and the rest of the Gulf states went on a mad dash to acquire their own nukes. Why hadn’t they done the same in all the decades since Israel had allegedly first acquired its own nuclear device? Because they couldn’t imagine a situation whereby Israel would use it against them.

The lawsuit cites the fact that the White House and Israeli government are currently negotiating a new ten-year Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to serve as the basis for a FY2019-2028 foreign aid package of 4 to 5 billion dollars annually (actually, that’s the Israeli request, so far the most the White House has mentioned is $3.5 billion). In addition, the suit claims, “Congress will soon pass and the President will sign into law the final installment of the current FY2009-2018 foreign aid package. The US Treasury will provide an interest-bearing cash advance in October 2017 that Israel can use to fund its own military-industrial programs and purchase US arms.” That, too is more what Israel has been hoping for and less what the Administration is willing to give. At the moment, the US wants the entire military aid package to be used in American factories.

Smith claims the US aid deal with Israel is in violation of the Symington and Glenn amendments to the Foreign Aid Act of 1961.

The Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 was modified by the Symington Amendment (Section 669 of the FAA) in 1976, which banned US economic and military assistance, and export credits to countries that deliver or receive, acquire or transfer nuclear enrichment technology when they do not comply with IAEA regulations and inspections.

The Glenn Amendment was later adopted in 1977, and provided the same sanctions against countries that acquire or transfer nuclear reprocessing technology or explode or transfer a nuclear device.

Noam Chomsky, a vociferous anti-Israel critic, has blamed successive US presidents of violating the law by granting an exception for Israel. The fact is that US presidents have granted similar benefits to India and Pakistan as well.

Smith’s suit says “Defendants have collectively engaged in a violation of administrative procedure … while prohibiting the release of official government information about Israel’s nuclear weapons program, particularly ongoing illicit transfers of nuclear weapons material and technology from the US to Israel.”

The suit claims that “these violations manifest in gagging and prosecuting federal officials and contractors who publicly acknowledge Israel’s nuclear weapons program, imposing punitive economic costs on public interest researchers who attempt to educate the public about the functions of government, refusing to make bona fide responses to journalists and consistently failing to act on credible information available in the government and public domain. These acts serve a policy that has many names all referring to the same subterfuge, ‘nuclear opacity,’ ‘nuclear ambiguity,’ and ‘strategic ambiguity.’”

The Institute for Research: Middle East Policy is an enormous archive of newspaper articles, books, audio, video, lawsuits, and surveys, dedicated to Israel, or, rather, the vilification of the Jewish State. Despite the institute’s name’s reference to being about Middle East policy, it’s all Israel, mostly about the secrets and clandestine policies of Israel. But it’s doubtful the current lawsuit, almost two years in the system by now, will go anywhere in federal court. In the end, the president is permitted to do whatever he or she wants in foreign policy, using good advice and their own intellectual faculties.

Let’s all vote for a president who is endowed with both.

David Israel

Shouldn’t We First Help the Christian Victims of Mideast Genocide?

Tuesday, July 12th, 2016

Before dawn Monday, four suicide bombers killed five and wounded at least a dozen in the Lebanese Christian town of al-Qaa. Later that night, as townspeople prepared to bury their dead, four more suicide bombers hit.

The attacks underscored just how endangered are Christians who live in today’s Muslim world. As the United States debates how many Mideast refugees to accept and who should get priority, the answer is staring us in the face: Those most in need of refuge are Christians and Yazidis who live among Muslims.

On June 19, a suicide bomber killed three people as he detonated himself at a memorial to massacred Christians in Qumishi, Syria. On June 9, a Pakistani Muslim mob badly beat a man merely because he was a Christian. On June 5, two people were killed when Islamists targeted a church with rockets in Syria; the same day, a Christian man was hacked to death at his shop by Islamists in Bangladesh. On June 2, in Nigeria, Muslim youths beheaded a Christian woman for allegedly insulting Mohammed.

And that’s just this month — a typical month, sadly, for the world’s Christians.

In May, similar Muslim attacks against Christians took place in Niger, Turkey, Syria, the Philippines, Uganda, Pakistan and Bangladesh. On March 27-28, a Taliban group murdered 69 Christians and wounded 30 more, mainly women and children, as they were celebrating Easter in a park in Lahore, Pakistan.

The Obama administration has called for massive acceptance of Muslim refugees from war zones.

The list goes on. Yet President Obama seems to value endangered Muslim lives more than the lives of endangered Christians and Yazidis.

In April, America built a temporary “surge” center in Amman, Jordan, to more rapidly process Muslim immigrants from Syria. The vetting process has been “fast tracked,” perhaps in order to meet Obama’s desired number of 10,000 Muslim Syrians to be admitted by September.

The Obama administration has called for an openhearted and massive acceptance of Muslim refugees from war zones. Democratic leaders insist that it would be wrong, morally, legally and politically, to stop Muslim immigration — but concede that it’s currently impossible to identify would-be jihadists among refugees or homegrown radicals among their descendants.

The United Nations has more modestly suggested that Western nations accept Muslim “women and children” first.

Obama has paid no attention to what has happened in Europe, namely the large number of sexual assaults of girls, women and homosexuals by Muslim men, as well as the staggering financial cost of hosting hostile, non-productive immigrants who may have no desire to assimilate to Western customs.

Here’s another suggestion.

Christian refugees are more inclined to assimilate to Western ways, or at least respond to them nonviolently.

If we want to accept refugees in flight from Arab and Muslim war zones, why not start with Christians who are being slaughtered by Muslims in Muslim-majority countries? Although they’re Arabs, Africans or Central Asians, the fact that they’re also Christians might make them more inclined to assimilate to Western ways — and, even if they assimilate imperfectly, they’re more likely to respond to Western freedoms in nonviolent ways.

Why has the pope offered symbolic asylum in the Vatican only to Muslims and not to fellow Christians?

Recently, according to my colleague Ashraf Rameleh, a Coptic Christian advocate, “Pope Francis, who is ‘building bridges to build peace’ around the world, has naturally reached out to embrace Sunni Muslims.” Rameleh notes that the pope has “grieved with the Orthodox of Egypt and offered his prayers over the spilled blood of Christians in Libya, recognizing the Coptic Christian martyrs.”

However, the pope has remained silent about the systematic destruction of the Eastern Christian Church. He hasn’t supported Egyptian President Abdel Fatta el-Sisi, who is trying to break the stranglehold that the Sunni Muslim Brotherhood still has on Egypt.

I have been told by the director of the Hatune Dogan Foundation, Hans Erling Jensen, that Christians stuck in refugee camps in Turkey have arrived penniless; that Muslims don’t look out for them but, instead, continue to persecute them. Most are starving. Many don’t have money to buy food or to pay traffickers to smuggle them out.

Why not bring Christians and Yazidis from the Muslim world here first? Why not bring Muslim dissidents, ex-Muslims, and Muslim homosexuals here second?

Finally, why not bring Muslim girls and women who are already in flight from honor-based violence, including from honor killing here, next — before we extend visas, green cards and asylum to Muslim boys and men?

Phyllis Chesler

UN Mid-East Envoy Not Thrilled with Netanyahu’s Free History Lesson Offer

Saturday, May 7th, 2016

The UN special coordinator for the Middle East peace process, Nickolay Mladenov, on Saturday angrily refused an invitation from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to attend his lecture to the world organization on Jewish history. The PM’s offer came in response to a UNESCO resolution that ignored completely the Jewish history of key spots in the Old City of Jerusalem, most notably the Temple Mount and the Western Wall. According to UNESCO, both sites have always been Arab, and only Arab.

“I was shocked to hear that UNESCO adopted a decision denying any Jewish connection to the Temple Mount, our holiest site,” Netanyahu said in a statement, adding, “It is hard to believe that anyone, let alone an organization tasked with preserving history, could deny this link, which spans thousands of years.”

As a measure of correcting “this historical ignorance,” the prime minister, whose late father was a prominent professor of history, offered to host a special lecture on Jewish history for all UN personnel in Israel.

Mladenov appeared deeply offended by the PM’s suggestion that his staff were uneducated. “If someone wants to issue invitations they should be sent to Paris and addressed to the ambassadors of the member-states of UNESCO there,” he said in a statement. “UN staff in Jerusalem know the history of the region, its people and religions all too well.”

It should be noted that after Israeli officials had hit the ceiling in reaction to the insulting UNESCO resolution, the organization’s chief Irina Bokova issued a statement acknowledging that “Jerusalem is a Holy Land of the three monotheistic religions, a place of dialogue for all Jewish, Christian and Muslim people.”

Perhaps Netanyahu could ask Bokova to give that free lecture.

JNi.Media

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/un-mid-east-envoy-not-thrilled-with-netanyahus-free-history-lesson-offer/2016/05/07/

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