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August 30, 2015 / 15 Elul, 5775
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Posts Tagged ‘Moscow’

World-Renowned Pianist Evgeny Kissin to Get Israeli Citizenship

Thursday, December 5th, 2013

The Interior Ministry will grant Evgeny Kissin, one of the world’s leading classical pianists and an enthusiastic Jewish supporter of Israel, Israeli citizenship event though he does not live in the country, the Jewish Agency said Thursday

Kissin, 42, told Jewish Agency Chairman Sharansky a year ago that he was interested in acquiring Israeli citizenship in order to enable him to “fight for Israel not only as a Jew, but also as an Israeli” although he is not permanently based in Israel. Sharansky passed on the request to the government.

“There are other Jewish musicians who reach Kissin’s level of musical talent, but it isn’t every day that so acclaimed a musician joins the fight for Israel so openly and so uncompromisingly,” said Sharansky.

Upon receiving an honorary doctorate from the Hebrew University in 2010, Kissin said, “Wherever we Jews live, our thoughts, hopes, and prayers are always with Israel and with our ancient and holy capital, Jerusalem. We Jews have every reason to be proud of the State of Israel.”

He will arrive in Israel this weekend in order to receive the citizenship and will perform in a one-time benefit concert at Jerusalem’s International Convention Center.

Kissin was born in Moscow and began playing and improvising on the piano at the age of two. At the age of six, he enrolled in the Gnessin State Musical College, and he had his international debut at the age of 12 in the Great Hall of the Moscow Conservatory. Kissin has been called “one of the great pianists of our time” and has been presented with two Grammy Awards and Honorary Membership in the Royal Academy of Music.

Netanyahu in Moscow: I Guarantee Iran Won’t Have Nuclear Weapons

Friday, November 22nd, 2013

Speaking to an audience of Jewish community leaders in Moscow on Thursday, Netanyahu stated that he guarantees that Iran will not have nuclear weapons, according to a report in Makor Rishon.

Israel has been has been threatening, almost explicitly, that any agreement signed with Iran will not restrict Israel from acting unilaterally to prevent Iran from achieving nuclear breakout capability.

Netanyahu’s remarks came in the footsteps of Washington’s overwhelming silence in response to the latest Antisemitic remarks emanating from Iran.

Netanyahu expects that an agreement will be signed in Geneva, if not this week, then the next.

During Netanyahu’s meeting with Russian President Putin, he could not get Putin to back off from supporting the Geneva deal. But Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told Netanyahu that Russia will not allow Iran to have nuclear weapons.

Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meet in the Kremlin in Moscow.

Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meet in the Kremlin in Moscow.

A senior Israeli official told Makor Rishon that Barack Obama is interested in Iran not having nuclear weapons while he sits in the White House, but it doesn’t bother him if they are at the edge of the breakout point.

The official reiterated that Israel’s position is that Iran must remove all capabilities for making nuclear weapons, while the US government only wants Iran to not assemble the weapon itself.

In the meantime, Iran is demanding the right to continue to enrich uranium for “civilian purposes”, and wait until the world is distracted with some other problem, to put the bombs together.

Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon has been warning, during an official visit to Canada, that Iran would use ‘dirty bombs’ in its terror war against Western targets.

Israel's Defense Minister Moshe (Boogie) Yaalon visits the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa, Ontario.

Israel’s Defense Minister Moshe (Boogie) Yaalon visits the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa, Ontario.

White House officials are saying that Israeli demands that Iran stop all enrichment would lead to war, according to a JTA report. The report says that given the choice of no enrichment, the White House believes Iranians would choose to build a bomb.

Which is exactly what Iran is going to try to do either way.

Opposing the White House is Senator Mark Kirk (R), who said that that Netanyahu’s assessment is correct, and that increasing, not reducing, sanctions at this point is what will force Iran to physically halt their nuclear weapons program.

Russian Navy’s First Port Visit to Egypt in 21 Years

Wednesday, November 13th, 2013

Suddenly, even Vladimir Putin looks more attractive.  He looks, at least, like he actually intends to fight radical Islamism – in some of its varieties anyway.  In theory, he has some pull with Iran.  He can exert a certain level of “check” on the Syria crisis.  His relatively well armed nation sits on the other side of Erdogan’s wild-card Turkey, which keeps bouncing from China to Iran to NATO and back again.  He’s not “Europe” – not really – but “Europe” acknowledges that he has to be given a place at the table.

Maybe he doesn’t look attractive, exactly; maybe the word is interesting.  Whatever it is, it’s showing up in real forms now, in regional nations’ decisions in the Eastern Mediterranean.  Last week came the flurry of reports that Putin would visit Egypt in November and announce a major arms sale, which will inevitably serve as something of a counter-smack to the U.S. decision to halt arms deliveries to Egypt a few weeks ago.

The newer news is from Monday, November 11, when Russia’s Slava-class missile cruiser Varyag pulled into Alexandria for the Russian navy’s first port visit in Egypt since 1992.  Pundits of varying quality have rushed to speculate that Moscow will soon have the use of Egyptian ports as bases in the region.  I doubt that; Egypt is too anxious to retain her stature and independence of action – properly so – and doesn’t “need” to accord Russia such privileges to keep useful ties going between the two of them.

In the current, comparative disarray of some Arab governments in the region, Egypt’s actually looks solid and moderate, and has the overt support of Saudi Arabia and Jordan, as well as the tacit support of Israel – all of which are well armed, well connected regional powers with common interests in a status quo.  The situation over which Al-Sisi presides is different from that of the Nasser regime in the 1950s and 1960s, when it was so eager for the great-power patronage of the erstwhile Soviet Union.

Russia, for her part, is unlikely to press this issue.  Between Syria, Greece, Cyprus, Montenegro, and Malta, the Russian navy has a lot of options now for making temporary landfalls for logistics.  Moscow wouldn’t necessarily even save money by concluding more literal “basing” agreements in the Mediterranean.

But I’m sure we can expect to see the Russian navy welcomed in Egyptian ports.  This makes a noteworthy, and regrettable, contrast with the U.S. Navy, which has been scarce in Egyptian ports in recent years – in spite of our two nations’ close relationship – largely because of the threat of terrorism.

Egypt, meanwhile, isn’t the only nation to roll out the welcome mat for the Russian navy in the past year.  In May, the Russian amphibious ship Azov arrived in Haifa for the first port visit ever by a Russian navy ship to Israel.  Russia and Israel have of course found some common ground in their opposition to radical Islamism, and the Netanyahu government has had a robust program of diplomatic outreach to Russia since it took over in the spring of 2009.  After Putin visited Jerusalem in June 2012 to pray for the rebuilding of the Temple, a naval port visit could hardly have been far behind.

Russian warships also visited Lebanon in March 2013, an exceedingly rare occurrence.  According to Russia’s defense ministry, the visit involved a frigate and two amphibious ships, and signified no intention on Moscow’s part to establish any permanent basing arrangement.

Cyprus hosted multiple visits by Russian warships in 2013, fueling the usual speculation that Moscow is negotiating for basing rights on the island.  (See here for more on Russia’s strategic approach to Cyprus.)  It has become routine in the last few years for Russian navy ships to visit ports in Greece and Malta.  Russian officials announced earlier this year that the navy’s newly constituted (or, in effect, reconstituted) Mediterranean squadron would use a port in Montenegro as well, referring to the port of Tivat (which for many years during the Cold War was a Yugoslav navy base, used as a Mediterranean base by the Soviet navy).  A September 2013 press release on the upcoming activities of amphibious landing ship Yamal indicated the ship would visit Greece and Montenegro this fall.

Did Your Shul Pocket $660,000 from Maftir Yona?

Sunday, September 15th, 2013

“Auctioning” off the honor of being called to the Torah and for the privilege of reading the “Haftorah,” or “Maftir” section of the Prophets, is common in the Diaspora and also in many urban and more affluent communities in Israel, but it takes a lot to top an unidentified Moscow millionaire, or perhaps billionaire, who paid $660,000 for the honor to read the Book of Yona (Jonah).

Hadrei Haredim reported that the money was pledged at Moscow’s central syangogue for Jewish institutions and a yeshiva.

Several Israeli Hassidic synagogues did not do as well but can’t complain. Tzvi Frank of the United States paid $17,000 to read ‘Maftir Yona” during afternoon prayers on Yom Kipper at the Navdorna yeshiva synagogue, according to Kikkar Shabbat. Navdorna is a town that was in Poland between the two world wars and now is Ukraine.

At the Erlau Hassidic synagogue, the same honor was “sold” for $28,000 but Bnei Brak’s Luvlin yeshiva settled for “only” $6,200. However, one person paid nearly twice that sum for opening the Holy Ark continuing Torah scrolls.

Russia Heats Up Cold War with Sale of Iran S-300 Missiles (Video)

Wednesday, September 11th, 2013

Russian media reported Wednesday that Moscow now is ready to go through a long-promised deal to supply the Iranian regime with advanced S-300 missiles that can shoot down ballistic missiles and commercial airplanes from a distance of up to 120 miles.

It is one of most lethal, if not the most lethal, anti-aircraft system in the world. Iran signed a purchase deal in 2007  for five S-300 missile batteries, but the sale was frozen three years ago when the U.N. Security Council slapped sanctions on Tehran..

Russia got around the embargo in its sale of the S-300 to Syria by claiming the weapons were for defense, and presumably that will be the excuse to sell them to Iran.

Just in case the international sanctions get in the way of the sale, Russia has come up with an alternative that might be just as useful for Iran and which does not fall under the sanctions. It would sell Iran the  Antei-2500, AKA S-300VM, or SA-23 Gladiato, according to the Russian Kommersant Daily.

The Antei-2500 was specifically tailored for the needs of ground forces, which could also be an advantage for Iran, known for its large land force,” the Iranian government-controlled Fars News Agency stated.

Kommersant said Iran has asked it to fulfill its promise to complete the S-300 missile sale, and Russia has thrown in an extra goodie by agreeing to build a second nuclear reactor in Bushehr, just what the United States and Israel don’t need.

The Russian and Chinese appetite for money has driven it to become huge weapons suppliers to Iran and Syria, giving them the lever to counter Western influence. The missile sale to Iran will add approximately $700 million to the Kremlin coffers.

Besides the financial angel, Putin is doing his best to establish Russia as the most powerful influence in the Middle East, at the expense of President Barack Obama. Moscow and Beijing have consistently thrown up barriers to American-led efforts to place sanctions on Iran and Syria.

Iran more than welcomes Moscow in its campaign to rid the world of American influence that goes against fundamentalist Muslim regime policies, such as the deprival of human rights..

Iranian Defense Minister Brigadier General Hossein Dehqan said earlier this week that Russia should complete the 2005 deal and supply Iran with S-300 missiles and “should believe themselves and don’t follow the US so much,”  Fars reported Wednesday.

Navalny Misses Runoff in Moscow Mayoral Race, Seeking Recount

Monday, September 9th, 2013

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny called for a recount in Moscow’s mayoral election after missing the runoff vote cutoff by one percentage point. He is asking for a recount.

Incumbent Sergei Sobyanin, a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, garnered just over 51 percent of the vote in Sunday’s election to 27 percent for Navalny. Four others also ran to unseat Sobyanin, a former Kremlin chief of staff.

Navalny’s candidacy, which was managed by a pair of tech-savvy Jews, Leonid Volkov and Maksim Kats, had divided Russian Jews. They were torn between the candidate of an establishment that mostly has been good for the Jews and an opposition leader with nationalist associations some found troubling who nevertheless promised to restore democracy and good governance.

Reports circulated last month that Navalny had raised a toast to the Holocaust during a reception in the Russian capital; Navalny and his Jewish campaign staffers denied the claims.

Assad Warns US and Israel to Expect Chemical Attack (Video)

Monday, September 9th, 2013

Syrian President Bassar al-Assad told interviewer Charlie Rose that the United States, Israel and other American allies can expect to be hit with chemical weapons if President Barack Obama carries out his threat to attack.

Assad, who has denied that his regime used chemical weapons despite widespread evidence to the contrary, implied that Iran and Hezbollah or rebels could use chemical weapons to repel a military strike.

“It could happen…if the rebels or the terrorists in this region or any other group have” chemical weapons, he explained.

The United States “should expect everything, not necessarily from the government,” if the United States attacks, he said. Assad added that Syria is “not the only player in the region” and that “you have different parties, you have different factions, you have different ideology.”

It would only take one or two deranged Al Qaeda terrorists, and not necessarily Assad’s soldiers, to use an American attack as an excuse to try to be the Great Arab hero who tried to destroy Israel with a “dirty bomb” or poison gas.

However, based on Assad’s previous actions and statements during the civil war, he used the interview to prepare the groundwork to use chemical weapons and blame others for it.

Rose is one of the few journalists allowed into the country and to meet Assad, dispelling rumors that he is hiding underground. Rose described Assad as “remarkably calm.”

As for the chemical attack on Syrian civilians last month, Assadcontinued to maintain a “What, me?” attitude in the interview, which will be aired in full on Rose’s PBS show Monday evening after excerpts were viewed Monday morning on CBS.

“Our soldiers, in another area, were attacked chemically,” Assad maintained. “But in the area where they say the government used chemical weapons, we only have video, pictures and allegations. We were not there, our forces, our police, our institutions, don’t exist.

“How can you talk about what happened if you don’t have evidence?”

While Assad was warning of a chemical attack, an Israeli official who has been briefed by Washington told Reuters that the Obama administration would give Israel only “hours” notice before attacking Syria.

That could mean two hours or 10 years. In either case, that is enough to rev up the F-16 engines but not enough to mobile troops.

Former Defense Ministry top honcho Amos Gilad, who has sounded suspiciously dovish and often has been dead wrong since leaving office, said in a speech at a counterterrorism center that Israel is totally out of the picture concerning if and when President Obama orders an attack.

There also is the possibility that the unidentified Israeli official who spoke with Reuters simply is lying and that the United States and Israel are cooperating closely towards a military strike.

If the Obama administration were not to give Israel enough notice to prepare for an attack, then Washington would have to take on the job of answering a lot of questions if Israeli civilians end up being killed.

It also is no secret that the American government relies heavily on Israel for intelligence information in the Middle East in general and in Syria specifically. Israel, and not the United States, has the human resources to plant dark-skinned Arabic-speaking agents in Syria.

Regardless of whether Israel will have no notice or plenty of notice before an American attack, President Obama already has given the world a least a couple of weeks to prepare for it.

The results have been panic. Russia has sent warships to the region and has threatened that Obama is laying with fire that will erupt into a regional war, or not a world war. Israel has deployed a battery of the anti-missile Iron Dome system around Jerusalem, and Turkey has placed anti-aircraft batteries along its southern border with Syria.

The rhetoric is great for headlines, and no one will say that Syria will throw out the welcome mat for an American attack.

But so far, Obama has one powerful diplomatic weapon on his side: Russia and Syria bear the burden to prove that the Assad regime did not deploy chemical weapons. No one believes Assad’s’ denials accept, perhaps, his properly British educated wife.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has given Assad the “exit option” of turning over chemical weapons in a week to the international community in return for President Obama’s pushing the “stop” button.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/israel-says-us-to-give-it-only-hours-notice-before-an-attack/2013/09/09/

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