Editor: Rael Jean Isaac

Editorial Board: Ruth King, Rita Kramer

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The ISIS-Iran Revolving Door by William Mehlman

Benjamin Netanyahu’s late August trip to Sochi, his fourth Russian sojourn over the past 16 months, had nothing to do with the amenities at Vladimir Putin’s Black Sea summer retreat. Accompanied by Mossad chief Yossi Cohen, newly appointed National Security Council director Meir ben Shabbat and Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein, doubling as his personal translator, the prime minister provided Putin with what Times of Israel correspondent Raoul Wootlift described as “sensitive, credible and very disturbing intelligence” on Iran’s continued military presence in Syria.

The three hour-plus meeting, in brief, is reported to have gone something like this:

Israel has its “red lines” in the matter of Iran’s role in Syria, the reddest of them being its unqualified objection to Iran’s occupation of strategic positions abandoned by a defeated ISIS to create a “land bridge” linking Tehran, via Iraq and Syria, to its missile-armored Hezbollan subsidiary in Lebanon. It is a link that could put the Ayatollah’s troops on Israel’s northeastern Golan border. The Israeli delegation is said to have made it “clear” it will take whatever measures may be necessary to prevent that link from being forged, failing Moscow’s unwillingness or inability to rein in its Iranian partner.

In a column entitled “What Israel Hoped to Gain,” Jerusalem Post diplomatic correspondent Herb Keinon defines Netanyahu’s “hope” as “knowledge of what Israel will do impacting on Russia’s decisions regarding its post-war arrangements with Syria.” He points to the “millions of dollars and enormous political capital” Moscow has expended on keeping Bashar Assad in power. If Israel is drawn into a war with Syria that investment could go up in smoke.“ [Netanyahu] wants the Russian leader to ask himself one question,” Keinon avers. “Is Iran worth the risk to his massive investment?” The answer, as he notes, rests on Putin’s evaluation of the credibility of Israel’s threat, but it has certainly given Putin pause for contemplation.

The same, regrettably, cannot be said of a U.S. defense/diplomatic team presented with duplicate evidence by Mossad a week earlier in Washington of Syria’s move to ”Lebanize” Syria. The Israelis came to Washington looking for an American commitment to halt that process. They didn’t get it. While Russia may not be indifferent to Israel’s concerns, in the view of Jonathan Spyer, director of the Rubin Center ID Herzlia, “the U.S. does not seem to wish to be a player in this arena.”

In fact, the only country immediately capable of interdicting Iran’s Shia “corridor of power” from Tehran to Beirut has braked that effort in favor of a policy of “deconfliction” with Iran’s Syrian puppet. It speaks to what experts see as a strategic disconnect between the State Department and the White House. It was most startlingly displayed in the course of a Q and A between Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Chris Wallace of Fox News in which Tillerson conceded that he and President Trump might be said to be on somewhat separate wave lengths regarding policy in the Middle East. The potential conflict was encapsulated in an email exchange between the anti-ISIS coalition partners in Syria and Col. Joseph Scrocca, director of CJTF-OIR, the U.S. arm of that coalition. “The coalition,” Scrocca wrote, “has no fight with the Syrian regime or its allies [Iran and Russia] in the counter Daesh [ISIS] fight. The coalition will not support any operations that are not against Daesh.” That’s as clear as it gets. The U.S. has no strategy for stopping Iran and Iranian backed militias from filling the voids in Syria created by the departure of ISIS.


From the Editor: Rael Jean Isaac

Kafka at State

The State Department has announced that it has decided to return Jewish archives to Iraq. They had been rescued in 2003 by U.S. forces from a flooded basement in Iraqi secret services headquarters in Baghdad and restored by the National Archives in Washington. As Caroline Glick points out, this collection of tens of thousands of documents, from sacred texts to 16th century school records, is property looted from the Jewish community by successive Iraqi regimes. As recently as 1948 Jews were the largest minority in Baghdad, a third of the population of Basra. In 1948, 900 Jews were murdered in a week long pogrom known as the “Farhud” and over the next three years 130,000 Jews were forced out of the country, most obtaining refuge in Israel. The remaining community was relentlessly persecuted until, by the time Saddam’s regime was overthrown in 2003, barely a dozen Jews remained.

It’s not that those with a legitimate claim to the documents, namely members of the former Jewish community and their descendants, have not made it. But as Glick reports, as far as the State Department is concerned, they have no claim to what the Iraqi government seized from them—this despite the fact that the Iraqi government’s claim to ownership is no stronger than the German government’s claim to ownership of Jewish property looted by the Nazis would be. Asked how the U.S. could be sure the archive would be properly cared for by Iraq, State Department spokesman Pablo Rodriquez said “the State Department will urge the Iraqi government to take the proper steps necessary to preserve the archive, and make it available to members of the public to enjoy.” Only trouble, as Glick observes, is that the “members of the public” who wish to “enjoy” the archive are all out of the country, most of them in Israel, and would visit Iraq at peril of their lives.

This writer has a suggestion: why not send to Iraq our unwanted Confederate statues, with maybe a few of Columbus thrown in, to decorate the squares from which the statues of Saddam have been removed? It makes as much sense as sending the Jewish archive to a country without Jews that hates Jews.

Terrorists Can Run for German Parliament

Bruce Bawer reports that in a remarkable decision taken in August, Germany’s Interior Ministry declined to bar the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) from campaigning as a political party in the September 24 elections to the Bundestag—this despite the fact that the PFLP is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, Canada, the European Union and Australia. The PFLP, after Fatah the largest faction in the PLO, is a hybrid of the world’s worst ideas, calling both for Israel’s destruction and international communist revolution (which is why it is running jointly with Germany’s Marxist-Leninist party).

The PFLP’s hijacking of an El Al plane in 1968 marked the beginning of modern international Islamic terrorism. On a single day in September 1970 its members hijacked three passenger flights headed from Europe to New York. From hijacking airplanes the PFLP went on to mass murder, its most high profile acts the killing of 28 people in the Lod Airport Massacre of 1972 and assassinating Israeli Tourism Minister Rehavam Ze’evi in 2001. More recently it has been murdering Israelis in Jerusalem and firing rockets on Israel from the Gaza Strip. Its most famous operative is Venezuelan terrorist Carlos the Jackal, now serving a life sentence in France.

No, it didn’t win any seats.

But if the PFLP can run for the Bundestag why not Al Qaeda?

Israeli Hits and Misses

A hit: The Israeli air force struck a missile and chemical weapons facility near Damascus being transferred to Hezbollah—and did so from Lebanon so as not to be blocked by Russian defense systems that would have endangered her planes if they came in a different way. It was a welcome sign that Netanyahu’s announced red line on such shipments would be upheld.

A miss: At the start of his meeting with President Trump in New York City on September 18, Prime Minister Netanyahu said “We will discuss the way we can seize the opportunity for peace between Israel and the Palestinians and between Israel and the Arab world.” That same day Fatah and Hamas announced they are moving ahead toward “reconciliation” based on non-recognition of Israel and support for the use of terror against her. Netanyahu may think he’s smart to tell Trump what he wants to hear, but he plays a very dangerous game. A major miss.


The Counterfeit Arabs by Victor Sharpe

They are the Arabs who call themselves Palestinians.

But there is no such thing as a Palestinian people; no such thing as a Palestinian history; and no Palestinian language exists.

The present-day so-called “Palestinians” are an Arab people sharing an overwhelmingly Muslim Arab culture, ethnicity and language identical to their fellow Arabs in the Middle East and North Africa, with few if any distinctions. They are primarily the descendants of those itinerant Arabs who illegally flooded British Mandatory Palestine from Arab territories as far away as Sudan, Egypt, Syria and what was Mesopotamia (modern Iraq). They were attracted during the early decades of the 20th century by new employment opportunities provided by the Jewish pioneers, whose heroic efforts were turning the desert green again and restoring centuries of neglect that the land had endured under a succession of alien occupiers.

Britain, during its Mandate over the territory, turned a blind eye to the flood of illegal Arab aliens entering, while at the same time often arbitrarily limiting Jewish immigration into their ancestral homeland. This was a betrayal of the Mandate given to Britain to facilitate a Jewish Homeland in the geographical territory known as Palestine.

Yasser Arafat, the Egyptian born arch-terrorist, was fond of creating the absurd myth that Palestinian Arabs were descended from the Canaanites and the Philistines.

Canaanites, without doubt, were the first known inhabitants of the Land of Israel before the first Hebrews, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and their wives, settled there, and before Moses brought their descendants back to the Promised Land during the Exodus from Egypt.

The Canaanites lived both along the coastal plain and in the mountain regions, which run like a spine down the biblical territory of Samaria and Judea. Their language was similar to Hebrew and their territory stretched north into present day Lebanon and included the present day Golan Heights.

The Canaanites were finally subdued during the reign of King David. Most Canaanites were gradually assimilated into the Jewish people and were no longer a distinguishable people.

The ‘Philistines’ were non-Semitic peoples who had entered the land from their homes throughout the Aegean Islands in general and from Crete in particular. These ancient Cretans arrived in Southern Canaan and along the Egyptian coastline and were known as ‘Pelestim and Keretim’ by the Hebrew tribes.

It appears that their first settlement may have been Gaza. Later they settled in Ashdod, Ashkelon, Gat and Ekron: the Pentapolis.

Their territory was primarily along the coastal Mediterranean. They attempted at different times to invade Judah but were turned back by the various Jewish biblical heroes and finally defeated by King David. From that time onwards they were diminished as a threat and as a separate people, finally disappearing from history. Any ‘Palestinian’ Arab claim to a lineage with them is as absurd as that of links with the early Canaanites.


Moving fast forward to 73 CE, the first attempt of the Jews to reclaim their independence from the repressive yoke of Roman occupation ended when Jewish warriors and their families fled to the fortress of Masada from Jerusalem. The Romans had destroyed the Jewish capital city Jerusalem, along with the Second Jewish Temple. Masada is where the heroic last stand took place and where the surviving warriors and their families took their own lives rather than be sent as slaves throughout the mighty Roman Empire.

The Land where these stirring and epochal events took place was in the province known as Judæa. There is absolutely no mention of any place called ‘Palestine’ before that time.


Muslim Reformers in Europe Need Police Protection Giulio Meotti

Editor’s note: The question is often raised “Why do not moderate Muslims speak up?” This article provides part of the answer.

Abdelbaki Essati, the imam the authorities believe was at the center of terrorist attacks in and around Barcelona, was apparently a master of deception—“too polite, too correct“. He was apparently able to deceive European intelligence services by preaching a “moderate” version of Islam, while at the same time orchestrating deadly jihadist attacks.

Another imam in Europe, Seyran Ates, preaches a genuinely “moderate Islam” but needs around-the-clock police protection.

Ates, training to become an imam, seems to have thought there was no better place than Berlin to inaugurate her mosque, Ibn Rushd-Goethe. It is the first Islamic religious site open to unmarried women, homosexuals, atheists, Sufis, unveiled women—all those people that many fundamentalist Islamists have said they wish to silence or kill.

But after the flashbulbs of photographers came the death threats. Now, six German police officers are needed to protect Ates. She is not new to death threats. She closed her law firm in Kreuzberg (a Turkish district of Berlin) after almost being murdered in a terror attack. The bullet lodged between her fourth and fifth vertebrae. It took her five years to recover from the injury.

A week after the inauguration of “Berlin’s liberal mosque” its prayer room was virtually empty. The number of faithful was the same as the number of security personnel. Muslims seem afraid to be seen there. Ates has received fatwas and threats from Egypt to Turkey. She says she has received “300 emails per day encouraging me to carry on”, but “3,000 emails a day full of hate”, some with death threats.

Her fate, unfortunately, is not unique. Germany hosts many genuinely “moderate” Muslims who must live under police protection. They are journalists and activists who have challenged terror and radical Islam. Without protection, they would become “moderate martyrs”. Ayaan Hirsi Ali fled to the US after the Netherlands refused to continue protecting her.

In Germany, it is not the Muslim supremacists, such as those who preach killing homosexuals, who have to live under police protection; it is the Muslims who criticize the supremacists. The only “crime” these concerned Muslims committed was to exercise their democratic right to speak—not in Iran or Syria or Iraq—but in Europe.

These reformers try to keep alive the values of the Enlightenment—freedom of speech, separation of religion and state, equal justice under law—to break through the coerced silence of Islam, in which “blasphemy” is punishable by death.

It is they who penetrate that silence. They defend the right to democracy, to an independent judiciary, to education. The price, however, has been exile, torture, ostracism, public marginalization, and too often life itself. Where are the “moderate Muslims”? In the Muslim world, they are in prison, in exile, in flight—when not murdered—as was Salman Taseer, his lawyer, bloggers from Bangladesh and countless others. In Europe, these genuine “moderate Muslims” have to live under police protection. Multiculturalism for them is a prison.


When the USSR Waged War Against Israel. (No, that’s Not a Misprint.) Karl Pfeifer

(Editor’s note: This is excerpted from an interview with Gideon Remez of the Truman Institute of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem by Karl Pfeifer, an Austrian born journalist of Hungarian Jewish origin and a member of the board of the Archives of the Austrian Resistance.)

Karl Pfeifer: The Soviet-Israeli War? Isn’t the title of your book exaggerated? It’s well-known that the USSR supported Egypt in its conflict with Israel, but was there really a direct clash between Soviet and Israeli forces at the level and duration that can be termed a full-scale war?

Gideon Remez: Well, that is precisely what our book is aimed to prove, and it does differ radically from the conventional notions about this period in this and other major respects. The Soviet military presence in Egypt is usually described as “advisers” or “technicians.” But the chief adviser, at the rank of lieutenant-general, also doubled as “commander of the Soviet forces group.” A total of over 50,000 Soviet servicemen, in integral Soviet formations up to a full air defense division, were posted to Egypt during this period. They operated the USSR’s most advanced weapons – some of them still experimental, not yet supplied even to Warsaw-Pact allies – in a head-on clash with Israeli forces, which turned the Suez Canal front into the hottest arena of the Cold War. So we think it was no less than a Soviet-Israeli war, the only time when Israel was directly pitted against a global superpower….

Pfeifer: What was the Soviets’ impact on the outcome of the fighting?

Remez: It determined the outcome in large measure. The period that our book covers is conventionally considered as including three distinct wars: the Six-Day War in June 1967; the War of Attrition from March 1969 to August 1970; and the Yom Kippur War in October-November 1973. We found these to have been one continuous conflict, at varying degrees of intensity. The debacle that Egypt suffered in 1967 with the loss of Sinai to Israel was also a major setback for its patron, the USSR’s standing among its clients as well as a blemish on the reputation of Soviet weapons. So within days, both leaderships – each for its own motives – resolved to score a military revanche before any political settlement with Israel. The planning, training and rearmament for this purpose went on systematically.

Pfeifer: Israel, and particularly the government of Golda Meir, are often blamed for ignoring or rejecting Egyptian initiatives for at least an interim settlement.

Remez: Israel can’t be absolved of responsibility – as a result, in part, of hubris after the 1967 triumph – for not taking its own initiatives or not calling the Egyptians’ bluff. But as we found, the supposed peace feelers were mostly a smokescreen for war preparations. The War of Attrition, for instance, was launched as part of these preparations for Egypt’s ultimate offensive across the Suez Canal; when it did not go well for Egypt, the massive Soviet intervention (whose codename, Operation Kavkaz, we were first in the west to document) was launched, and within a few months it had achieved its purpose. Soviet SAMs were shooting down Israeli planes – and especially their irreplaceable crews – at an unsustainable rate. Israel not only had to accept a ceasefire in August 1970, but it (and the United States) could do nothing when the Soviets and Egyptians advanced the SAM batteries to the canal bank, thus creating a no-fly zone for Israel over the canal and into Sinai. This was an essential precondition for the Egyptian cross-canal offensive, which was launched three years later with full Soviet collusion and support.

Pfeifer: But didn’t Egyptian President Anwar Sadat famously expel the Soviet advisers in July 1972?

Remez: That’s another myth which our book debunks: that due to détente with the United States, which peaked at the Moscow Summit of May 1972, the USSR denied Egypt the offensive weaponry for the attack on Israel. This supposedly caused a rift with Sadat, who kicked the Soviets out and shifted to the US camp. But we prove that this never happened. The flow of Soviet offensive weapons never stopped. Thousands of Soviet servicemen did leave Egypt in 1972, but these were the regulars of the Soviet expeditionary force, who – as we just mentioned – had accomplished their mission and were amicably repatriated. This was negotiated for months not only between Cairo and Moscow, but also with Washington, that is with Henry Kissinger. The Soviet advisers with the Egyptian armed forces remained, to continue training and weapons induction for the offensive. Both the Soviets’ own accounts and Egyptian documents prove this conclusively. The “expulsion” canard was inculcated by means of an elaborate deception exercise, which our book describes in detail. As in other cases that we address, two of the main culprits for spreading such misleading concepts as “fake news” and then for establishing them as “fake history” were Kissinger and Egyptian propagandist Mohammed Hassanein Heikal.

Pfeifer: Now that you mention the US role, this is beginning to sound like the present-day Russian reentry into Syria and US response, or lack thereof.


Grapes of Their Wrath by Moshe Dann

The early Sunday morning sun was already strong when Tzvika Strook left his home in Eish Kodesh, a Jewish community a few miles east of Shilo, in the Samarian hills, to check his vineyard. He had planted it four years ago, cultivated it carefully and waited patiently for the harvest when the restricted time according to Jewish law elapsed. The grapes were high quality and when sold would reward his efforts – and feed his family of six children. It was the beginning of July. The grapes were almost ready. When he got to his field, however, instead of lush green vines he saw brown shriveled leaves. Two thousand grape vines had been destroyed on Friday night.

The police and IDF found tracks that led to the nearby Arab village of Qusra. This was not the first time that Arabs from this village, assisted by groups such as Rabbis for Human Rights, Taayush and B’Tselem had attacked the fields of Eish Kodesh and other Jewish communities in the area. Dozens of times they reported thefts and destruction, but the police and IDF were unwilling to arrest the perpetrators and risk a confrontation. Therefore, there were no investigations. Nothing was done.

Strangely, the media (with the exception of Arutz 7) refused to report the story, citing lack of time and interest. Their lack of concern, however, is difficult to comprehend since they often report Arab claims that Jews have destroyed their olive trees. Widespread theft of Jewish-owned livestock, arson and vandalism by Arabs is never reported.

According to Aaron Katsof, a resident of Eish Kodesh and head of the Binyamin Fund which helps Jewish communities and farmers, there is a struggle between Jews and Arabs over large areas of uninhabited and unused State land in Area C of Judea and Samaria (the “West Bank”), in which all settlements are located. Arabs and Bedouin are constantly encroaching, and in some cases claiming to own land, often supported by the IDF’s Civil Administration (CA), the judicial authority in Judea and Samaria.

Recently, Strook had planted grape vines in another area of Eish Kodesh. Arabs protested, claiming to own the land and the case was heard by an IDF military court. Although the court decided that there was no basis for the Arab claims, the Civil Administration forced Strook to uproot the vines anyway. He tried to replant nearby, but most plantings were not successful and the disputed patch remains barren. Because the IDF/CA operates with the approval of the Israeli government, however, there is no way to remedy, or appeal its decisions.

Strook’s dilemma highlights the struggle that Katsof describes where land use can be the basis for claims of ownership. Unfortunately, the government has no coherent policy and has left decisions to local IDF officers who are unequipped and untrained to deal with complex land disputes.

Several years ago PM Netanyahu appointed a Commission led by retired High Court Justice Edmund Levy and legal experts to resolve this problem. Their report was meant to provide a fair and equitable judicial administration; it has not, however, been brought to the government for discussion.

In an effort to prevent further intrusions and clashes, the IDF recently installed cameras in the area. The Binyamin Fund has established a special crowd-funding site to help the Strook family with losses estimated at hundreds of thousands of dollars: www.projector.org.il/en/projects/100


Lights in the “Dark Continent” by Ruth King

Africa, mysterious and mostly unknown to the West was called the “Dark Continent” in the late 1800s. In fact, many Jews found beacons of light in African nations.

Morocco, Egypt, Tunisia, Algeria, Rhodesia, Nigeria, South Africa, Congo and Ivory Coast had Jewish populations, some dating back centuries, largely unknown in the diaspora but clinging to an ancient faith.

Some migrated from the really dark corners of entrenched anti-Semitism in Eastern Europe.

Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe, had a thriving Jewish population in Salisbury (now Harare) and Bulawayo where Jews from Lithuania migrated in the 1800s. A close friend of mine recently showed me a movie of children in the Bulawayo synagogue marching with stars of David embroidered on their shirts singing songs about Palestine in the 1940s.

I was in Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia in the 1950s where large cities like Meknes, Fez, Casablanca. Rabat, Marrakesh, Oran and Djerba, had prominent synagogues, attended by thousands and local shops sold menorahs, candelabras and religious clothing.

When the Arabs declared war on the nascent Jewish State, Arab governments in Africa sponsored harassment of their Jewish populations and a large exodus of Jews began. Most of the small number who remained fled after the Six Day War of 1967. In many non-Arab and non-Muslim countries, decolonization unfortunately heralded coups, revolutions and tribal wars, prompting a Jewish exodus from the continent.


Editor: Rael Jean Isaac
Editorial Board: Herbert Zweibon, Ruth King

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September 2017
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