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March 30, 2015 / 10 Nisan, 5775
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Posts Tagged ‘Moscow’

Meet the Israeli Olympians: Judo – Arik Ze’evi (Video)

Sunday, July 29th, 2012

Arik Ze’evi, a Judoka & a writer, is a 4-Time European champion, including the 2012 European Championship. Ze’evi is also the Winner of last year’s (2011) Grand Slam in Moscow, and has won a bunch of titles & medals throughout his career, but in London 2012, Ze’evi aimes to go for the Olympic medal, again!

Russia’s Masterstroke: Bailing Out Cyprus

Monday, June 25th, 2012

What a fine mess the Europeans have made with their deluded dream of a common European currency for 17 countries with different languages, cultures, traditions and economic systems. As a result of the experiment with the euro, almost all countries along Europe’s southern rim are on the brink of bankruptcy. One of them is Cyprus. It, too, urgently needs a bailout. This week, the Cypriotic government needs €4bn to recapitalize the country’s second largest bank.

Cyprus, however, is in a comfortable position. The other beggars are forced to accept bailout from the European Union in exchange for diminished national sovereignty, EU imposed austerity measures, and direct supervision from Brussels over their budgets and economies. Cyprus, however, has an alternative. “We have other options,” the Cypriotic Finance Minister Vassos Shiarly recently told journalists in Nicosia. Economists expect that to keep Cyprus afloat, it will need between €25 and 50bn in the coming years. Nicosia, however, is resisting pressure from the other EU countries to take a first bailout package worth as much as €10bn.

Cyprus does not want to accept the strings attached to the European offer. The Cypriotic alternative is called Russia. Already last December, Moscow gave Nicosia a bilateral loan of €3bn. Eager, since the era of Peter the Great, to acquire a strategic foothold in the Eastern Mediterranean, Russia is now offering even more. And with President Demetris Christofias of Cyprus happy to accommodate his friend Vladimir Putin, there is no doubt that Nicosia will turn to Moscow rather than to Brussels.

Christofias is a Communist – he is, in fact, the only Communist leader in the European Union – and, under the EU’s rotating chairmanship, he will be chairing the EU meetings from July 1st until the end of the year.

As pointed out earlier, if Russia steps in, the strategic situation in the entire Eastern Mediterranean could change. Russia stands to gain most out of the eurozone crisis. Cyprus is a prey which it has long been eying. If Moscow loses Syria as its ally, it needs Cyprus as a substitute. Bailing out Nicosia is a bargain price to acquire a permanent naval base for the Russian fleet in the Eastern Mediterranean.

Cyprus is said to be so high on Russia’s priority list that President Putin himself is currently dealing with the €4bn loan request from Nicosia. The interest charged by the Russians is 4.5%, which is far better than Cyprus can get anywhere else. The financial risk for the Russians is limited. There is every chance that Cyprus will be able to repay their bilateral loans fairly soon. Nicosia hopes to start exploiting the huge gas reserves off the Cypriotic coast in the coming decade. With Russian help, it might even be able to exploit these gas fields within the next five years.

The gas fields are an additional reason why Cyprus is a good long-term investment for the Russians. But there are many other reasons. The Russian presence in Cyprus is already very strong. Cyprus is a favourite holiday resort for the Russian middle and upper classes. It could easily become a Russian Florida. Some 50,000 Russians – mostly retirees – are already living permanently on the island. They are attracted by its climate and by the cultural affinities with the Cypriots, who, like the Russians, are Orthodox Christians. Cyprus is also used by Russians as an offshore banking center. This, too, is why the Russians will do their best to support the Cypriotic banking system.

A Russian deal is a win-win situation for both Russia and Cyprus. As soon as Russia has acquired a solid foothold on Cyprus, the third largest island of the Mediterranean Sea, it will be able to drop Assad, thereby reducing the current diplomatic tensions between Washington and Moscow over Syria. Cyprus, on the other hand, welcomes Russian backing: its intention to exploit the gas fields has merely led to tensions with Turkey. With the Russian bear behind its back, it will be easier to deter the Turks. The pro-Turkish attitude of the EU authorities in Brussels has long angered the Cypriots.

Few regions in Europe have the importance of Cyprus. Situated on the doorstep of both North Africa and the Middle East, the island has been of strategic importance since ancient times. From Cyprus, the Russians will be able to reach the whole area surrounding Israel. Russia, an ally of Syria, has never been a close friend of Israel. This might change once Assad is toppled. Although the Russian bear has interests rather than friends – it dreads anything resembling a democracy, and is always on the prowl for its next lunch – the presence in Israel of many Jewish immigrants of Russian origin may lead to a slight rapprochement between Jerusalem and Moscow. If Russia, as a result of its interference in Cyprus, becomes involved in a quarrel with Turkey, this, too, might lead to superficially better, if unreliable, relations with Israel. The animosity between Israel and its NATO ally Turkey has been rising lately. There is little doubt that Putin, during this week’s visit to Israel, will discuss not just Syria, Iran and Turkey with the Israeli leadership, but also Russia’s growing involvement in Cyprus.

If Cyprus proves to be better off with Russia’s financial, political and strategic backing than Greece with the assistance of the European Union, the close relations between the Greeks and the Cypriots might convince Greece that it, too, should turn to Moscow rather than to Brussels for financial and economic help. A strategic realignment in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East might then be in the offing. If the EU and NATO keep regarding the pro-Islamic government in Turkey as their preferred ally, before they know it they might be confronted with an alliance of Russia, Cyprus and Greece – a strong Christian-Orthodox axis against the Turks. And whom would this alliance target after that?
Originally published by Gatestone Institute http://www.gatestoneinstitute.org

World Powers Begin New Round of Iran Talks with Little Hope for Progress

Monday, June 18th, 2012

Another round of nuclear talks began on Monday in Moscow, with diplomats representing the six-nation ‘P5+1′ (US, UK, France, China, Russia, and Germany) pessimistic that a breakthrough will occur in the ongoing stand-off with Iran over its controversial nuclear program.

Heading into this the third round of negotiations since talks resumed in April, EU spokesman Michael Mann said: “We haven’t seen engagement on the Iranian side yet. We’re not prepared to talk for the sake of talking, we need to drive things forward.”

Western diplomats continue to accuse Iran of foot-dragging and obfuscation, noting that the five-point proposal presented by the Islamic Republic in Baghdad last month calls for discussions on matters that are tangential to the nuclear issue. Yet the P5+1 continues to hold out hope that Iran will finally “engage seriously” the proposal that the six-nation bloc made last month. The proposal calls on Iran to stop enriching its uranium to 20% – which brings it close to the threshold of weapon’s grade. It offers Iran badly-needed spare parts for civilian airliners, medical isotopes, and nuclear safety cooperation as incentives to agreement. Iran’s negotiator, Saeed Jalili has already rejected these these terms as insufficient, and is demanding an immediate easing of current economic sanctions and suspension of the onerous sanctions set to be imposed by the EU next month. It appears the sides are headed for another fruitless round of talks though, as the EU indicated it has no intention of to postponing the sanctions.

An Iranian diplomat accompanying the Iranian delegation in Moscow told Iran’s state-run news agency IRNA that Iran would not even acquiesce to another round of negotiations unless the P5+1 accepts its proposal. The diplomat also elaborated on the uncompromising stance Iran would take in the negotiations: “The least expected by Iranian negotiators […] is acknowledging Iran’s right to uranium enrichment. If they do not admit Iran’s right to nuclear enrichment in Moscow, therefore the talks will surely fail… Iran does not fear the failure of negotiations anyhow.”

The Obama administration is facing increasing pressure to break off with the Islamic regime in the face of continued Iranian intransigence. 44 senators sent the President a bi-partisan letter on Friday demanding actual concessions from Iran to continue negotiations.”It is past time for the Iranians to take the concrete steps that would reassure the world that their nuclear program is, as they claim, exclusively peaceful. Absent these steps, we must conclude that Tehran is using the talks as a cover to buy time as it continues to advance toward nuclear weapons capability.”

The letter, coordinated by Senators Roy Blunt (R-MO) and Robert Menendez (D-NJ), calls on Iran to implement the steps proposed by the P5+1 in Baghdad, which they said is the “absolute minimum” required to “demonstrate a level of commitment by Iran to the process and could justify continued discussions beyond the meeting in Moscow.” The letter is signed by, among others, Charles Schumer (D-NY), Joseph Lieberman (I-CT), Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY).

Meanwhile in Israel, Strategic Affairs Minister Moshe Yaalon Yaalon told Israeli newspaper Haaretz on Friday that if Israel has to choose between Iran having a nuclear bomb and bombing Iran, it will opt for the latter. He also said that Israel is not bluffing when it comes to decisive action to stop Iran and does not need an American ‘green light’ for a military strike. He predicted that the Iranian crisis will culminate in the coming months.

Israeli Chess Champion Loses Match, Wins Hearts

Sunday, June 3rd, 2012

Though a sudden-death match led to his defeat, a new Israeli hero has gained international recognition– and local celebrity – as a chess champion.

Belarus-born chess grandmaster Boris Gelfand, 43, lost Wednesday’s world chess championship in Moscow to title holder Viswanathan Anand of India.  Gelfand came one point shy of victory in a rapid tiebreaker, after playing 12 games with Anand.

Yet the title match earned Gelfand thousands of fans in Israel and around the world, with so many Israelis logging on to the website of the Israel Chess Federation to view the match that the site crashed.

Thousands of new friends have signed up for Gelfand’s fan page on Facebook, including many Russians, who came out in droves to support Russian-speaking Gelfand at the Moscow match.

Despite his loss, Gelfand’s efforts made the front pages of Israeli newspapers and topped the evening news.  Gelfand received congratulatory phone calls from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres.  According to the Associated Press, chess enthusiast, former Prisoner of Zion and current head of the Jewish Agency Natan Sharansky – who helped Gelfand immigrate to Israel in 1998 – received several phone calls from the prime minister during the match, to discuss Gelfand’s moves and strategy.

Israel is a top five chess nation, boasting 50 chess grandmasters and medals from the Chess Olympiads. Almog Burstein, executive director of the Israel Chess Federation told the Associated Press that some 3,000 Israelis play in chess leagues throughout the country, with dozens of people having won international tournaments.

Young Jewish Man Murdered in Moscow

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2012

A young Jewish lay leader was murdered in Moscow over the weekend after attempting to stop a brawl between two rival, non-Jewish gangs.

According to a statement from the Federation of Jewish Communities of Russia, Yaakov Manasharshivili, 26, encountered the melee on Friday. When he tried to intervene, he was shot at point-blank range. Moscow Police Commissioner Vladimir Kolokoltsev reported that the perpetrator fled, but that he was confident more leads would be found in the coming days.

Born to a traditional Georgian Jewish family and active in the local Georgian community, Manasharshivili served as counselor at his local Chabad-Lubavitch center in the Khamovniki District of the Russian capital.

Jewish community officials, including Russian Chief Rabbi Berel Lazar, took part in his burial on Sunday.

Rav Aharon Schechter Visits L.A.

Wednesday, August 3rd, 2011

Rav Aharon Schechter (seated) speaking with Rabbi Summers and his son at a reception for Yeshivas Rabbeinu Chaim Berlin. (Photo credit: Arye D. Gordon)

 

 

Rav Aharon Schechter, rosh hayeshiva of Yeshivas Rabbeinu Chaim Berlin, received a warm welcome during his recent visit to Los Angeles.

 

The Chaim Berlin yeshiva has been a makom Torah for many talmidim across the U.S., mainly those living in New York and its surrounding communities. Founded in the early 1900s, the yeshiva was named after Moscow’s chief rabbi, Rav Chaim Berlin, son of the renowned gaon, Rav Naftali Zvi Berlin (The Netziv), and brother-in-law of Reb Chaim Brisker.

 

It was under the leadership of its rosh hayeshiva, Rav Yitzchok Hutner, when the yeshiva grew and developed into one of America’s major yeshivas. The turnout of former talmidim and their parents, who every year look forward to seeing and learning Torah from the rosh hayeshiva, was substantial. Rav Schechter’s hosts during his visit were Dina and Moshe Zyskind.

Rav Aharon Schechter Visits L.A.

Wednesday, August 3rd, 2011


Rav Aharon Schechter (seated) speaking with Rabbi Summers and his son at a reception for Yeshivas Rabbeinu Chaim Berlin. (Photo credit: Arye D. Gordon)


 


 


Rav Aharon Schechter, rosh hayeshiva of Yeshivas Rabbeinu Chaim Berlin, received a warm welcome during his recent visit to Los Angeles.

 

The Chaim Berlin yeshiva has been a makom Torah for many talmidim across the U.S., mainly those living in New York and its surrounding communities. Founded in the early 1900s, the yeshiva was named after Moscow’s chief rabbi, Rav Chaim Berlin, son of the renowned gaon, Rav Naftali Zvi Berlin (The Netziv), and brother-in-law of Reb Chaim Brisker.

 

It was under the leadership of its rosh hayeshiva, Rav Yitzchok Hutner, when the yeshiva grew and developed into one of America’s major yeshivas. The turnout of former talmidim and their parents, who every year look forward to seeing and learning Torah from the rosh hayeshiva, was substantial. Rav Schechter’s hosts during his visit were Dina and Moshe Zyskind.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/community/rav-aharon-schechter-visits-l-a-2/2011/08/03/

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