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November 28, 2015 / 16 Kislev, 5776
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Vietnam’

US Soldiers Arrive in Turkey to Train ‘Moderate’ Rebels against ISIS

Friday, May 1st, 2015

Approximately 120 U.S. Army soldiers have landed in Turkey to train “moderate” Syrian rebels at a Turkish air force base, Hurriyet News reported Friday.

The Obama administration previously has announced a grandiose program to train and equip rebels fighting the Assad regime, which has been joined by the Iranian-back Hezbollah terrorist  organization.

Implementation of the program has been delayed because of disagreement over which fighters will be trained. The United States wants to vet fighters so that the weapons don’t end up in the hands of Al Qaeda, ISIS and other terrorist groups, but that could mean that the best fighters won’t be trained.

American governments and their State Dept, gurus have a long and bloody history of ignorance of the Middle East, as well as Vietnam for those who recall the groups of “advisors” that ballooned into a full force of soldiers, 58,000 of whom were killed in the war in the 1960s and 70s.

A senior opposition commander in eastern Syria told Reuters, “When the Americans see anyone shout ‘Allahu Akbar! they think they’re Islamists.”

The Syrian rebels being trained by the American soldiers will return to Syria to fight the Islamic State (ISIS) and will take along machine guns and anti-tank weapons.

President Obama has been extremely reluctant to get involved in the civil war in Syria, and one wonders whether he simply is going through the motion to show that he is doing something, without actually doing much at all.

One rebel commander told Reuters that Syrians are most motivated to defeat Assad, whose regime he described to Reuters as the “biggest killer.”

Syria is geographically divided, with the ISIS controlling areas in eastern Syria.

The State Dept., in response to questioning from Sen. John McCain in March, wrote him, “Even when considered as a whole, U.S. government assistance to the moderate armed opposition will not be decisive in defeating regime forces.

“Nor will the fighters who receive this assistance, on their own, force Assad to change his calculus about trying to hold on to power.”

Israeli Doctors Help Out Hundreds of Children in Vietnam

Friday, January 23rd, 2015

For over 30 years, the international Operation Smile has provided over 200,000 free surgical procedures to children and young adults around the world suffering from facial deformities, giving each one a new start in life in some of the world’s most impoverished communities.

During this year’s Operation Smile campaign in Vietnam, two Israeli doctors joined 300 delegation members from 18 countries in January, to provide free reconstructive surgery for children born with conditions such as cleft lip and cleft palate as well as other facial deformities.

Dr. Omri Emodi and Dr. Zach Sharony hail from Rambam’s Health Care Campus. Dr. Emodi works in the hospital’s Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery and Dr. Zach Sharony works in the Department of Plastic Surgery.

A cleft is an opening in the lip, the roof of the mouth or the soft tissue in the back of the mouth, while cleft palate occurs when the two sides of a palate do not join together. Children born with cleft conditions often suffer from ear disease and dental problems as well problems with speech development. They may also have difficulty speaking, hearing, breathing or eating properly. In developing countries, parents often cannot afford the corrective surgeries their children need for healthy, productive lives. Operation Smile has often reached areas where children and families have never even seen a doctor or healthcare worker.

As the largest volunteer-based children’s medical charity providing free cleft surgeries, Operation Smile heals thousands of children every year. The international children’s medical charity works in over 60 countries to heal children’s smiles with a network of more than 5,400 volunteers from more than 80 countries including Israel. Volunteers donate their time and efforts to provide safe surgeries for children and postoperative and ongoing medical therapies to children.

During January’s Vietnam mission, the Israelis doctors were part of an international medical team that performed more than 500 cleft surgeries during the 10 days they spent volunteering across the country. Delegation members operated 12 hours each day and helped children at six different sites throughout Vietnam.

“The atmosphere among doctors was extremely convivial. Our free time was filled with conversation, jokes and mutual invitations,” remarked Dr. Sharony. “The cliché that medicine is a bridge between cultures was more apparent than ever.”

US to Send 400 Soldiers to Train ‘Moderate’ Rebels

Friday, January 16th, 2015

The Obama administration has announced that 400 U.S. Army soldiers will be deployed in Middle Eastern countries to train more than 5,000 “moderate” Syrian rebels.

Support systems and personnel also will be deployed at the training bases in Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Qatar, according to Defense Dept. spokeswoman Elissa Smith.

President Barack Obama has maintained a policy that no American soldiers will set foot in Syria to help put an end to the civil war that has raged almost four years and has turned the Islamic State into a household world.

Obama apparently has decided on training rebels since the American-led aerial campaign against ISIS has not stopped the beheaders from actually taking over more territory in Syria.

The war has attracted the participation of almost every big-name terrorist group in the world, and each rebel group has appeared to be as barbaric as the army of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

There are apparently enough surviving “moderates” whom officials in the Obama administration  want to train, but Reuters reported that it will take 15,000 rebels to take back territory held by the Islamic State (ISIS), which has become Obama’s favorite target in the Middle East, even more than the ‘peace process.”

He also has authorized 3,000 troops to act as advisers in Iraq, which was supposed to have become a freedom-loving democracy long ago as a result of the American foreign policy program.

Now all the U.S. Army has to do is figure which rebel is a fighter and not a terrorist, meaning which one is “moderate” by not belonging to ISIS or Al Qaeda.

“We … know the Syrian opposition better now than we did two years ago through the programs we’ve had providing non-lethal assistance,” Smith said.

In the understatement of the day, an unidentified senior defense official told Defense One, “This is going to be hard. We have to recruit the guys; we have to assume that there are a lot of guys who are recruitable; there’s got to be some vetting. This is not going to be an easy enterprise here.”





Hezbollah’s Syrian Quagmire?

Monday, June 10th, 2013

Originally published at The American Thinker.

Has Hezbollah, the Iranian-backed terror organization, bitten off more than it can chew in Syria? Could the transnational terror group have fond its own Vietnam in backing Alawite dictator Assad?  Michael Young, writing in Now, makes the case:

Hezbollah’s deepening involvement in the Syrian war is a high-risk venture. Many see this as a mistake by the party, and it may well be. Qusayr will be small change compared to Aleppo, where the rebels are well entrenched and benefit from supply lines leading to Turkey. In the larger regional rivalry between Iran and Turkey, the Turkish army and intelligence services have an interest in helping make things very difficult for Hezbollah and the Syrian army in northern Syria, particularly after the car-bomb attack in Reyhanli in May. (snip)

Hezbollah has entered Syria with no exit strategy. The way in which Hassan Nasrallah framed the intervention indicates that it is open-ended. This will prompt other parties to take actions and decisions they might otherwise have avoided for as long as the Syrian conflict was primarily one between Syrians.

Hezbollah is already a magnet for individuals and groups in Syria keen to take the air out of the region’s leading Shiite political-military organization – or simply to protect their towns and villages. As Qusayr showed, the presence of Hezbollah only induces its enemies to fight twice as hard against the party. As a proxy of Iran, Hezbollah will prompt governments to do the same, and they will see an opportunity to wear down the party and trap it in a grinding, no-win situation.

Playing in the favor of Hezbollah’s enemies is that the party has little latitude to alter its strategy in Syria. It must go all the way, predisposing it to sink ever-deeper into the Syrian quagmire, or until the point where the Syrian regime and pro-regime militias can capture and control territory on their own. That is not easy in a guerrilla war in which rebels have often out-matched the army.

Hez is taking fire from one of its former leaders. From the Jerusalem Post:

Former Hezbollah Secretary-General Subhi al-Tufayli criticized the Lebanese organization’s military intervention in the Syrian civil war in an interview with Al Arabiya News aired on Friday.

“Hezbollah’s project as a resistance party that works to unify the Islamic world has fallen,” Tufayli lamented, criticizing current Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah’s decision to challenge Sunni Muslims to fight against the Shi’ite militia group.

“[Hezbollah] is no longer that party that defends the Umma [Islamic nation]; instead it plagues the Umma,” he said.

Tufayli noted that Hezbollah has “provoked the whole world” and started a sectarian war that “opened the door for a ferocious period of sedition.”

The prospect of Iran’s proxy being trapped in terrorist quicksand has a disturbing appeal, especially since the long suffering Syrian population will be the primary victims. The propensity for violence so evident in Islamic world operates internally as well as externally.  If forced to choose between the two, I choose intra-religious strife and peace in the Dar al Harb. Let Hezb’allah send its resources north from the Israeli-Lebanese border and become targets for IEDs and suicide bombers.

A Neglected Anniversary

Wednesday, October 17th, 2012

With all the media attention paid to the recent 40th anniversary of the Munich Olympic massacre, another anniversary – this one related to something far more consequential in terms of Israel’s history – slipped by relatively unnoticed.

It was thirty years ago this past June that Israel invaded Lebanon in an attempt to deal the PLO a death blow and thirty years ago last month that Lebanese Christian militiamen slaughtered Palestinians in the Sabra and Shatilla refugee camps. The two events, fairly or not, will forever be linked in the public mind. But even if Israeli troops had prevented their Lebanese allies from entering the camps, the Lebanon War would have become Israel’s Vietnam and – again, fairly or not – changed the way much of Israeli society viewed itself and the way much of the world viewed Israel.

Like Vietnam, the Lebanon war became increasingly unpopular in elite media circles. Both wars became rallying cries for forces eager not just to protest the conflict but to disparage the country, its leaders, its history. And both were initiated or inherited by politicians who had long been anathema to liberal journalists.

First and foremost there is the Nixon-Begin parallel and the question of perceived legitimacy. Mainstream American liberals had begun souring on the Vietnam war in 1965 and 1966, but it wasn’t until Democrats lost the 1968 presidential election and Richard Nixon took office a few months later that antiwar sentiment exploded in establishment circles.

Suddenly it was Nixon’s war, not John Kennedy’s or Lyndon Johnson’s, and Democrats were acting as though the 500,000 American troops already on the ground in Vietnam had appeared there at the instant of Nixon’s inauguration.

As difficult as it was for many of Nixon’s ideological foes to swallow the notion of Nixon as a legitimate commander in chief, so too did Menachem Begin’s political enemies view Begin as an unworthy interloper when in 1977 he broke the Labor Alignment’s long electoral hegemony in Israel.

That sense of illegitimacy remained largely under the surface during Begin’s first term in office, when the only two military operations of consequence were a limited incursion into Lebanon in 1978 and the bombing of the Iraqi nuclear reactor in 1981.

But when Begin, a year into his second term, signed off on the invasion of Lebanon, his opponents dropped even the pretense of civility. For many Israeli leftists, inside the media and out, the very thought of the reviled Begin presiding over the largest Israeli military operation since the Yom Kippur War was nothing short of intolerable. Israeli newspapers were filled with indignant letters from parents, many of whom openly identified themselves as Labor loyalists, cursing Begin because their sons were now at mortal risk in Lebanon.

A month or so into the fighting, with Israeli soldiers still engaged in battles in and around Beirut, Yitzhak Rabin and other Labor politicos could be seen on television newscasts around the world voicing open disparagement of the Begin government.

Another parallel between Vietnam and Lebanon involved the emergence or reinvigoration, in both the U.S. and Israel, of movements hostile to the prevailing social and political order. In the wake of Lebanon, left-wing Israeli academics (relying heavily on concepts and terminology popularized by their American counterparts 15 years earlier) began to formulate the negative interpretation of Israeli history that by the middle of the following decade would come to be called post-Zionism.

The wars were also similar for the hostile international media coverage they inspired. The Europeans had been vicious to Israel since the late 1960s, but it took Lebanon to bring out the animosity that had been building for a number of years in the American media, as witness the syndicated columnist Nicholas von Hoffman’s statement that “atrocity by atrocity, Americans are coming to see the Israeli government as pounding the Star of David into a swastika”; or the Chicago Tribune columnist Vernon Jarrett’s claim that the Israeli invasion of Lebanon “seems designed to make civilized man forget or depreciate the Holocaust”; or the print and television pundit Carl Rowan’s insistence that “Israel’s leaders are imitating Hitler.”

Three decades later, Israel’s metamorphosis in the eyes of the media – from valiant underdog to regional bully – stands out as the lasting legacy of the 1982 Lebanon war.

Kissinger Gets Felt Up by the TSA

Wednesday, May 16th, 2012

Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger., who’s turning 89 this month (may we suggest holiday in Vietnam?), was spotted last Friday at LaGuardia airport in New York, getting routed to the pat-down line while going through security, reports the Washington Post “In the Loop” section.

After asking Kissinger his name as he passed through the scanner, the agent sent him to be searched. Kissinger was in a wheelchair. In the search area, Kissinger was subjected to what “the full Monty” of the usual groping.

Couldn’t happen to a nicer guy.

Chabad In A Dangerous World

Wednesday, December 3rd, 2008

A few months ago, Channel 8 (Israel’s equivalent of PBS) broadcast a fascinating “reality” program on the life and times of a young Lubavitcher couple that went on shlichut to Vietnam in order to open a Chabad branch in Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon). During the past few years Vietnam has become a growing destination for both Israeli and American Jewish businessmen, as well as for post- army, backpacking and thrill-seeking young Israelis

The mission highlighted the young couple’s “fish out of water” experience, trying to build an oasis of Judaism under the watchful anti-religious eyes of the Communist regime. In this case, the element of danger wasn’t from Islamic fanatics but from a philosophy that had defeated American military prowess over 35 years earlier.

The dangers associated with opening a Chabad House in Ho Chi Minh City didn’t deter the enthusiastic couple from building a new life in a strange land. Shipments of kosher foodstuffs and religious articles from Eretz Yisrael would cushion the blow of being so far away from a Jewish environment. The young couple and their guests would at least be able to enjoy a heimishe meal cooked by the “rebbetzin,” providing a palate-pleasing reminder of home.

The initial adjustment for the young couple was not easy – but Chabadniks persevere. There are no such words as “giving up” in the Chabad dictionary.

In order to stretch their kosher food without always relying on the parcel from Israel, the young couple made their way through the aisles of local supermarkets searching high and low for products bearing a legitimate hechsher (kosher certification). At the local fish market the young rabbi diligently checked various species of fish, looking for the telltale kosher signs of fins and scales.

All in all, a great story about how adventurous young Chabad couples are willing to go anywhere on the planet in order to perform the mitzvot of hachnasat orchim and kiruv rechokim.

No one but Chabad has worked so diligently to provide a way station for Jews on and off the derech. Tens of thousands of secular Israelis have had their pintele yid rekindled by a simple act of kindness performed by smiling young Chabad couples that are always available with an open door policy. These couples represent the essence of what Yiddishkeit is all about.

Unfortunately the world has become a dangerous place – even for friendly Chabadnikim. Jewish businessmen and Israeli adventure-seekers need to start rethinking about where to do business and how to keep an extremely low profile when trekking through Third World countries.

As we went to press, Israeli security personnel warned Chabad officials in Israel and the U.S. to start revamping their global operations. The Israeli officials instructed Chabad to lower their profiles in countries where the dangers of terror attacks are high, and hire armed security guards to provide around-the-clock protection for each Chabad House. (There are at least two other Chabad Houses in India, scene of last week’s terror attack. One is in New Delhi and the other in Goa, the coastal  “Pearl of the Orient,” where so many young Israelis tend to enjoy running amok, i.e. drug use, illicit behavior and, tragically, acts of avodah zarah.)

On many occasions, Chabad officials in places like Goa are either working hard to lure Israelis away from toxic substances or getting them out of jail. They will do almost anything to rescue a meandering neshamah.

Israeli entrepreneurs trying to make a quick buck from the thousands of Hebrew-speaking “landsman” who visit Goa and Bangkok, Thailand have opened stores featuring large Hebrew-language signs. Thailand, already enmeshed in political anarchy, is also trying to beat back an armed Islamic insurrection in one of its provinces. It is likely that the Thai Islamists will try to copy the Mumbai massacre on some scale in the near future – sowing fear and hatred.

The Jewish people tend to sometimes forget that they are in the midst of a global jihad, where interlocking Islamic terror groups are constantly monitoring our activities. One day it can be Al Qaeda in lower Manhattan, another day it could be Hizbullah in Argentina, a Pakistani terror group in Mumbai, Hamas in Jerusalem It’s a never-ending list.

The mitzvah to enjoy life and experience the wonders of the world must also be balanced out against the inherent dangers that lurk just around the corner. There will always be a need for a Chabad oasis somewhere in the world. The blessing of their holy work must be buttressed by physical as well as spiritual security.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/community//2008/12/03/

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