World Briefs 12-20-11

Download this story in Microsoft Word format here

Chabad to Host Candle Lighting Ceremony at Brandenburg Gate, Berlin

Click photo to download. Caption: The Brandenburg Gate, which is known as the launching pad of the Nazi era, will host a Hanukkah candle lighting ceremony on Tuesday evening. Credit: Sven Gross-SelbeckIn what will no doubt be seen as a symbolic measure, Chabad-Lubavitch of Berlin will host a candle lighting ceremony at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin on Tuesday evening, reported. The gate holds significance as the location of the beginning of the Nazi era. Immediately after Hitler officially rose to power in 1933, hundreds of torch-bearing supporters swarmed the gate to show their support.

The event is expected to draw hundreds of tourists, residents, and VIPs. “The torch-lit parade marking Hitler’s rise to power, 70 years ago, represented the epitome of darkness,” said Rabbi Yehuda Tiechtel, who will be on the podium along with members of the German parliament and U.S. Ambassador Philip D. Murphy, “Kindling the Chanukah lights at this very spot represents the absolute triumph of good over evil.”

The ceremony is part of a worldwide eight day series of Chabad-Lubavitch events, taking place from Washington D.C. to the Champs-Elysees in Paris.

--JointMedia News Service

Former Czech Republic president Vaclav Havel was Israel’s friend

Click photo to download. Caption: Vaclav Havel, former President of the Czech Republic, was regarded as a hero for his work for freedom, and was also a great friend to Israel. Credit: Ondřej Sláma Former Czech Republic president Vaclav Havel died Sunday at the age of 75 due to illness. According to the European Jewish Press, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Havel was a "true friend" of Israel, who fought for the legitimization of the country.

According to World Jewish Congress (WJC) President Ronald S. Lauder, Vaclav Havel led Czechoslovakia out of Communism and oversaw its peaceful transformation into two democratic nations. He was also powerfully committed to Israel and to reinvigorating Jewish life in his country after the Holocaust and Communist suppression.

“Together with other distinguished elder statesmen, he was a founding member of the Friends of Israel Initiative. He always spoke out against anti-Semitism and notably said that ‘Truth and love must prevail over lies and hate.’ We hope that many people all over the world will carry on his motto,” Lauder added.

European Jewish Congress (EJC) President Dr. Moshe Kantor, who knew Havel through the European Council on Tolerance and Reconciliation, also issued a statement on his death according to Yediot Ahronot.

“President Havel was a true and steadfast friend of the Jewish people and will be missed by European Jewry,” he said. 

--JointMedia News Service

Turkish-Jewish community finally granted ownership of 18 synagogues

The Turkish government has granted foundation status to the İzmir Jewish Community, making it recognized as a legal entity and giving it the right to legally own synagogues and other real estate, Today Zaman reported.

This decision is based on a 1935 law, which states that non-Muslim minority communities must declare their sources of income and budget. The İzmir Jewish community will now have full legal control of 22 properties, including 18 synagogues and four stores.

“It is our duty to meet the demands of this country's minority groups with whom we have been living side-by-side for hundreds of years … Two days ago the İzmir Jewish Community, which had been striving to survive for over 100 years without a legal personality, became a foundation,” said Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç.

According to İshak Haleva, the chief rabbi of Turkey's Jewish Community, Jews in Turkey do not suffer from anti-Semitism. There are some anti-Semitic journalists but otherwise “we never really feel it,” he said. Despite the current tense relationship between Israel and Turkey, Haleva said the Jewish community tries not to be political.

"We have a good relationship with the prime minister, who listens to our problems and tries to help. We act like a good community and don't take a political stand,” he said according to Yediot Ahronot. 

--JointMedia News Service

Jihadists target U.S. government YouTube channel

The Middle East Media Research Institute reports that the Shumoukh Al-Islam jihadi forum, a top Al-Qaeda website, has been considering digital ways of targeting the U.S. State Department Digital Outreach Team's (DOT) YouTube channel. 

DOT strives to explain U.S. foreign language and counter misinformation in a variety of Middle-Eastern languages. 

"As the kuffar and apostates monitor jihadi videos and remove them, we ourselves shall create a monitoring and follow-up apparatus to remove any video degrading our [jihad] leaders and mujahideen brothers," member Abu Khabab Al-Muhajir posted originally.

He called on others to flag DOT YouTube videos, explaining that YouTube will remove any video flagged more than 50 times. So far, few responded to Al-Muhajir’s post. He did claim that one DOT video was removed, without indicating which one.

--JointMedia News Service

Arab Spring Update: Egypt Islamist party on Israel, Tunisian president on Jews


  • Leaders of Egypt's Islamist Salafi party Al-Nur have expressed support for the country's peace treaty with Israel, Army Radio reported Tuesday morning. An official from the group said it would honor all past treaties Egypt has signed.

    The movement is in second place, behind the Muslim Brotherhood, following the latest round of parliamentary elections in Egypt, according to Israel Hayom.

    Al-Jazeera on Monday reported the official results of Egypt's second of three rounds of parliamentary elections, which show the Islamist bloc garnering more than 75 percent of votes. However, the Islamists are a broad and divided camp, which analysts say gives liberals a chance to make their voices heard in the new assembly.
  • During a meeting with the country's Grand Rabbi Haim Bittan, President Moncef Marzouki said that Tunisia's Jews are full citizens and those that had left were welcome to return, reported Israel Hayom. His comments come almost two weeks after Deputy Prime Minister Silvan Shalom called on the country's remaining Jews to emigrate to Israel.

    Tunisia presently has a Jewish population of 1,500, but in the 1960s there were 100,000. Most left following the 1967 war between Israel and the Arab countries, and Socialist economic policies adopted by the government in the late 1960s also drove many Jewish business owners out of the country.

    Most now live on the resort island of Djerba, near the country's border with Libya.


--JointMedia News Service

Israel cautiously watching North Korea after Kim Jong Il's death

Click photo to download. Caption: Kim Jong-il, Supreme Leader of the Democratic People's Republic of North Korea died Saturday. Credit: www.kremlin.ruNorth Korea announced on Monday the death of its "Dear Leader" Kim Jong Il, and urged its people to rally behind his son and heir-apparent, while the world watched warily for signs of instability in a nation pursuing nuclear weapons, Israel Hayom reported.

Notorious for his paranoia and despotic ways, Kim, who died on Saturday of a heart attack, may be best remembered for turning his isolated country into a nuclear state.

In Jerusalem, the exit of a dictator who refused to acknowledge Israel and regularly supplied its worst enemies with the tools for its destruction was met with caution and a share of confusion. Among Israeli officials, there was guarded optimism on Monday that a tyrant's exit would pave the way for fresh relations.

An Israeli official, when asked if the appointment of Kim Jong Un, aged in his late 20s, would signal a shift in diplomatic relations, said "Not at this point, because he's the chosen successor and it still remains an extremely closed society. We have no reason to believe at this point in time that it will change."

--JointMedia News Service

Extremist Muslims intimidate European society

A Netherlands debate featuring Canadian writer and Muslim feminist Irshad Manji and the Dutch-Moroccan Green Left MP Tofik Dibi was interrupted by 20 Islamist protestors earlier this month, Hudson New York reported. This event is the latest in a series of intimidation actions by Muslim extremists in the region. In Amsterdam, more than 30 percent of Amsterdam's population is Moroccan and another 20 percent is Turkish.

The Islamists who stopped the debate yelled Allahu Akbar (“Allah is Greater”), threatening to break Manji’s neck and waving an Islamist jihadist flag. They then demanded that Manji and Dibi be executed for renouncing Islam. Just days earlier, ten Dutch-Moroccan Muslim youths threw stones at Santa Claus in the same city.

In nearby Belgium, a speech about Islam by the Dutch author Benno Barnard was recently disrupted by members of Sharia4Belgium, a radical Muslim organization in the country. The French government also released a report stating that school children in the country are often threatened by some fellow Muslim classmates who object to learning about things like the Holocaust, the Crusades and evolution. 

Additional, similar incidents of intimidation by extremist Muslims have occurred in France, Great Britain, Sweden and other European countries.

—JointMedia News Service

Raising of Palestinian flag at UNESCO underscores controversial debate

The Paris headquarters of UNESCO hosted a ceremony last week in which they raised a Palestinian flag, becoming the first UN agency to publicly recognize the Palestinians. Attended by French President Nicolas Sarkozy and PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, the symbolic act has continued a debate on whether the Palestinians can legitimately be viewed as a nationality.

Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich had already caused controversy in recent days with a statement that Palestinians are an invented people, a statement which Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad has since vehemently denied, stating, “The Palestinian people inhabited the land since the dawn of history, and intend to remain in it until the end of times.”

However, the Israeli ambassador to France said that UNESCO’s raising of the Palestinian flag was “science fiction,” according to the Israel National News, further underscoring the major debate. The United States has already cut off funding for UNESCO ever since the agency announced it will accept the Palestinians.

“Israel regrets that an organization responsible for education and science was at the heart of making a decision based on science fiction by integrating an entity that has no legal status as a state,” he said. Rick Richman of Commentary Magazine proposes one theory for why the Palestinians wish to be viewed as a separate national and ethnic identity from other Arabs in the region.

“The ‘Palestinians’ have not been invented so much as renamed; not so much renamed as repurposed; not so much repurposed as redefined as ‘refugees’ ... Their refugee status is fundamental to their identity; it is the reason they reject offers of a state again and again and again: a two-state solution would require their acceptance of a Jewish state, but acceptance of such a state would require them to give up their identity,” Richman wrote

—JointMedia News Service

Islamist parties hold firm in second round of Egypt elections

Click on photo to download. Caption: An Egyptian woman casts her vote during the second round of parliamentary elections, in Giza Egypt. Credit: EPA/KHALED ELFIQI.Two Islamist parties continued to take the lead in the second round of votes in Egypt on Sunday, Reuters reported. A source from the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) said the party would secure 40 percent of the votes for party lists, and a spokesman for the ultra-conservative Salafi  al-Nour party said its lists received 35 percent of the vote.

One more election remains to determine Hosni Mubarak’s replacement. Before being ousted in February during the Arab Spring, Mubarak had been known for keeping extremist factions at bay, but with his ouster they have formed a strong following. Islamist parties have taken the lead in Morocco and Tunisia as well, raising international concern.

It is yet unclear whether the two parties, FJP and Nour, will form a coalition, as both have voiced concerns over the other.

--JointMedia News Service

Iran mocks Obama over lost drone

After publically announcing that it has discovered a downed U.S. drone and intends to keep it, the government of Iran is now mocking the President of the United States, saying that Obama “begs to give him back his toy plane.” The Fars News Agency released the statement, according to the Israel National News.

Obama said that the U.S. government asked to get the drone back and is now waiting for the Iranian response. “Obama is hoping that the Iranian government is in a Christmas mood because he has asked Tehran to send him his Christmas present. Iran mocks Obama who ‘begged’ for [his] Drone back,” the Iranian statement also said.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also expressed little hope that the Iranians will return the drone. In fact, a senior commander of Iran's Islamic Revolution Guards Corps said that “this is not only an intelligence victory for us, but a defeat for our enemies.”

Obama will not approve field action to retrieve the drone, fearing this will be construed as an act of war.

—JointMedia News Service

Israel to export natural gas to India

Israel may soon start exporting natural gas to India, The Times of India reported. After Iran cancelled a huge deal with India following India’s vote against its nuclear programme, Israel came in to fill the gap.

The two countries will soon set up committees to do a feasibility survey of the offer, with the conversation continuing during Indian foreign minister SM Krishna’s visit to Israel in January.  

Israel, which had been reliant on Arab oil for decades, recently discovered huge quantities of natural gas off its northern coast. Plans are already underway to export to Europe through Greece and Cyprus. India, which also receives natural gas from Qatar and Oman, is hungry for natural gas after the deal with Iran fell through and its own Krishna-Godavari gas basin dropped in production due to internal troubles.

The two countries have formed a strategic partnership over the past decade, including defense, counter-terrorism, and intelligence. 

--JointMedia News Service

Posted on December 19, 2011 and filed under Briefs, World.