Another issue that is being mishandled is that of Syria’s Kurds. The easiest thing the West could do would be to help Syria’s Kurds who just want autonomy, not to be subject to the current directorship, radical Arab nationalists, or Islamists. This would make the Kurds of Iraq, American allies, very happy. But Obama won’t do that because it would make Islamist-ruled Turkey, an enemy of America that President Barack Obama loves more than any other country in the region, very unhappy and so probably won’t happen.
A rare meeting took place Monday in Ramallah, between Rabbi Menachem Chai Shalom Fruman, Nachum Pachnik, chairman of the Eretz Shalom movement, the movement’s director Rabbi Tzuriel Krispel, Rabbi Michael Melchior, and Adina Bar Shalom, daughter of Rav Ovadia Yosef, and Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen), Kikar HaShabbat reported.
The rabbis came to the meeting in order to encourage a series of meetings between rabbis and clergymen and senior Palestinian officials.
Abbas addressed the Iranian threat against Israel, and, surprisingly, expressed his objection to permitting Iran to possess a nuclear bomb, thus dragging the entire region into great danger. “I hope there won’t be a war, because any bloodshed is forbidden (Haram).”
Further astounding his guests, Abu Mazen added, “The State of Israel was established in order to remain in existence and not, like some extremists claim, that it’s necessary to annul its existence.”
But he added that alongside Israel “there is a country that’s missing – Palestine.”
Rabbi Krispel requested from Abbas’s blessing “for more meetings between rabbis and sheiks, to form a connection. We believe that we can broaden these circles and create an environment of co-existence between Israelis and Palestinians.”
As reported, Mrs. Adina Bar Shalom, Rav Ovadia Yosef’s daughter, also participated in this meeting. Rabbi Fruman introduced her to the Palestinian officials and even called her “Rabbanit.”
“We did not bring the Rabbanit because of her opinions,” said Rabbi Fruman. “Even though she is a ‘rabbi’ in her own right and I do address her as Rabbi Bar Shalom. She is here because she is the closest person to her father, closer than the reporters whom you rely on.”
“Rav Ovadia Yosef is not what the newspapers make him out to be. Rav Ovadia uses his influence on the Israeli public and also on the Israeli government,” Rabbi Fruman told the Palestinian officials.
At the end of the meeting, Abu Mazen requested to convey his greetings to Rav Ovadia Yosef and even expressed hope of a future meeting with him.
Two strong earthquakes struck northwest Iran on Saturday, killing 250 people and injuring more than 2,000, with many buildings being reduced to rubble, and completely destroying 6 villages according to Iranian officials.
Thousands are fleeing their homes and staying outdoors, fearing more damage from aftershocks – at least 20 of which have hit the region.
Casualty figures will probably continue to rise, say Iranian officials, since many of the injured are in critical condition, and many civilians are still trapped under the rubble.
Iran is situated between two major fault lines and has endured a few devastating earthquakes in recent years, including a 6.6 magnitude quake in 2003 which demolished the southeastern historic city of Bam and killed at least 25,000 people.
The U.S. Geological Survey measured Saturday’s first quake at 6.4 magnitude and said it struck 60 km (37 miles) northeast of the city of Tabriz at a depth of 9.9 km (6.2 miles). A second quake measuring 6.3 struck 49 km (30 miles) northeast of Tabriz 11 minutes later at a similar depth.
Tabriz is a major city and trading hub far from Iran’s oil producing areas. Though buildings in the city are substantially built, homes and businesses in Iranian villages are often made of concrete blocks or mud brick that can crumble and collapse in a strong quake.
A second quake struck near the town of Varzaghan. “The quake was so intense that people poured into the streets through fear,” the Fars news agency reported.
About 210 people in Varzaghan and Ahar have been rescued from under the rubble of collapsed buildings, the official IRNA news agency said, quoting a local official.
“So far 73 bodies from Varzaghan and Ahar have been handed over to the coroner’s office,” IRNA quoted Bahram Samadirad, a provincial official from the office, as saying.
He added, “Since some people are in a critical condition and rescue workers are still trying to rescue people from under the rubble, unfortunately it is possible for the number of casualties to rise.”
Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman told Turkish journalists that Israel has “no reason to apologize” for the Mavi Marmara incident.
In a meeting on Sunday with the journalists in Jerusalem, Liberman said that Israel is ready to discuss the incident and would consider the issue of an apology as part of a package including other issues, such as Iran, Gaza and Hamas, the Turkish daily Today’s Zaman reported. He said current developments in the region made it important for Turkey and Israel to normalize relations.
Liberman called the Mavi Marmara, which claimed to be carrying humanitarian aid to Gaza, a “clear provocation, and it was our right to protect the lives of our soldiers. Frankly speaking, Israel has no reason to apologize,” he said.
Nine Turkish nationals, including a Turkish-American man, were killed in clashes during the May 31, 2010 raid by Israeli commandos.
It was Liberman’s first meeting with a Turkish delegation since the incident.
A rocket from Gaza hit the Eshkol region in an open area at 2:49PM on Friday. No injuries or damage was reported.
Perhaps they thought they were shooting Ramadan fireworks.
In meetings Monday with Israeli leaders, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called on them to take steps to strengthen the Palestinian Authority.
According to the website Inyan Merkazi, Clinton has received a promise from Egyptian president Muhammad Morsi that he would not end the closure of the Gaza Strip.
During Monday night’s news conference, which began an hour late, Clinton reiterated that the U.S. “commitment to Israel is rock solid. By strengthening Israel’s security we are strengthening U.S. security.”
In her meeting with President Shimon Peres, Clinton said:
“I am here in Jerusalem on such a beautiful day at a moment of great change and transformation in the region. It is a time of uncertainty but also of opportunity. It is a chance to advance our shared goal of security, stability, peace, and democracy, along with prosperity for the millions of people in this region who have yet to see a better future.”
She added: “And it is in moments like these that friends like us have to think together, act together. We are called to be smart, creative, and courageous.”
According to Clinton, Israel and the United States are on the same page on Iran, Clinton later told reporters in Jerusalem.
“We remain focused on relaunching peace talks,” Clinton said to the reporters, adding that the international community can help but it was up to the parties to do the work.
Clinton also said that during her meetings with Egyptian authorities in Cairo, she offered the message that the U.S. wants the new leadership in Egypt to uphold its peace treaty with Israel.
Clinton arrived in Israel on Monday and met first with President Shimon Peres, where she said they spoke about “Egypt and Syria, peace efforts, Iran and other regional and global issues.” She then met with Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, Defense Minister Ehud Barak, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salaam Fayyad before holding the news conference.
She will return to the United States on Tuesday, capping a 12-day, nine-country trip. It is her first visit to Israel in two years and possibly her last as secretary of state.
U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta is scheduled to arrive in Jerusalem next week for talks on Iran’s nuclear program and the situation in Syria, which has been called a civil war by the International Red Cross.
The U.S. National Security Council said Sunday that National Security Advisor Tom Donilon visited Israel over the weekend for consultations with Netanyahu, Barak and his Israeli counterpart, Gen. Yaakov Amidror.
In a statement, NSC spokesman Tommy Vietor told reporters on Sunday evening that Donilon had reaffirmed the “unwavering commitment” of the United States to Israel’s security. He said Donilon’s visit was the latest in a series of ongoing U.S. consultations with Israeli officials on a range of regional security issues.
JTA content was used in this report.
The 1920 Jerusalem riots took place under British Mandate of Palestine on April 4–7, 1920 in and around the Old City of Jerusalem.
The events coincided with and are named after the Muslim Nabi Musa festival and followed rising tensions in Arab-Jewish relations over Zionist immigration. Concurrently, there were Arab attacks on Jewish settlements in the Galilee.
Speeches by Arab religious leaders during the festival led to an outbreak of violent assaults on the city’s Jews. Five Jews and four Arabs were killed and several hundreds were wounded.
Sheikhs of 82 villages around the city and in Jaffa, claiming to represent 70% of the Arab population, issued a document protesting the violence against the Jews.
The Palin Court of Inquiry sent to the region in May 1920 by the British authorities placed the blame for the riots on the Zionists, “whose impatience to achieve their ultimate goal and indiscretion are largely responsible for this unhappy state of feeling.”
The document was never published.
In an interview with the semi-official Iranian news outlet Fars, Egypt’s new President Mohammed Morsi spoke of his intention to “revise the Camp David treaty” and “restore normal relations with Iran.”
“Our policy towards Israel will be a policy based on equality since we are not weaker than them in any field and we will discuss the issue of the Palestinians’ rights with the related sides since this is highly important,” Morsi said.
“We will revise the Camp David treaty,” he continued, and insisted that such matters would be implemented with the consensus of the various government organs. This statement seems to contrasts with comments he made only hours later in his televised victory speech, where he offered a vague assurance that he would “preserve international accords and obligations.”
The interview, which took place a few hours before the official announcement of his victory, was published on Monday.
Turning to the region, Morsi said he sought to establish relations “with all countries of the region to revive Egypt’s identity in the region through economic cooperation among the Arab countries…and beside that, supporting the Palestinian nation in its legitimate campaign for materializing its rights.”
Morsi added that “[w]e must restore normal relations with Iran based on shared interests, and expand areas of political coordination and economic cooperation because this will create a balance of pressure in the region.” He also quashed rumors that he planned on visiting Saudi Arabia - Iran’s nemesis in the Gulf region – for his inaugural foreign trip.
Morsi’s comments will likely stoke Western fears that an Islamist-led Egypt may further destabilize a region already in turmoil, and impede continuing attempts to isolate Iran over its nuclear program.