World Briefs 12-6-11

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Ambassador blames Israel for Muslim anti-Semitism

Click photo to download. Caption: U.S. Ambassador Howard Gutman. Credit: PD-US.Speaking at a conference on anti-Semitism, organized by the European Jewish Union last week, Ambassador Howard Gutman told the assembled crowd that Muslim anti-Semitism is linked to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Apologizing in advance if the crowd did not like his words, he proceeded to distinguish between traditional anti-Semitism, “which should be condemned”, and Muslim “hatred for Jews”, which stems from the ongoing conflict, Yedioth Ahronoth reported.

"It is the area where every new settlement announced in Israel, every rocket shot over a border or suicide bomber on a bus, and every retaliatory military strike exacerbates the problem and provides a setback here in Europe for those fighting hatred and bigotry," he said according to RTT News. Were these issues to cease, he continued, the “ethnic tensions” in Europe would abate.

His comments unleashed a storm of controversy, with Republican presidential candidates, including New Gingrich and Mitt Romney, calling for his release from office. However, the Obama administration has stood by Gutman, saying that he expressed his personal opinion only, and reaffirmed its commitment to Israel.

Gutman, who is the U.S. Ambassador to Belgium, bundled over half a million dollars for the Obama campaign.

--JointMedia News Service

Syria military exercises worry Israel

The foreign ministry of Syria said the government has “positively responded” to an Arab League request to send in observers as part of a plan to end the ongoing crisis in the country. This was announced after the Syrian government spent the weekend test-firing missiles, and conducting air force and ground troop operations, Israel Hayom reported.

Syria failed to meet the original Nov. 25 deadline by the Arab League for allowing inspection by observers. This has resulted in a boycott on financial dealings with the country and freezing of its assets. In the eight months of the conflict, more than 4,000 people have been killed in the country, the U.N. reported according to the Washington Post.

The country’s weekend activities have raised concern among officials in the Israel Defense Forces because the exercise involved Scud B type missiles with a range of 300 kilometers (190 miles). Syrian TV announced the exercise was meant to test "the capabilities and the readiness of missile systems to respond to any possible aggression."

--JointMedia News Service

U.S. official urges South Korea to boycott Iranian imports

Robert Einhorn, the State Department senior adviser for non-proliferation and arms control spoke today in Seoul, South Korea, stating that urgent "strong steps" need to be taken against Iran's nuclear program, the Israel National News reported.

"We're asking our partners around the world to take additional steps and naturally we are coming to Korea to see what the Republic of Korea can do to sharpen the choice for the leaders of Iran," he said.

Specifically, Eichorn urged South Koreans to pressure Teheran by stopping the import of petrochemicals and reducing the import of crude oil from the country, the Wall Street Journal reported.

"The goal of this pressure is to encourage the leaders of Iran to stop defying the international community and start cooperating to enter into serious and concrete negotiations on Iran's nuclear program.”

--JointMedia News Service

Chabad rebuilds Swedish Mikvah

Chabad representatives raised $270,000 to rebuild a Mikvah in Gothenburg, Sweden, Lubavitch Chabad reported Monday.

 Plans to build a Mikvah in the city have been in the works since 1940, at the height of the Holocaust. In 1987 a Mikvah was finally built and was maintainted until 2009, when it faced closure. The campaign was launched and a new Mikvah built inside the Gothenburg Chabad center.

“We wanted to build a spa for the body and soul, a timeless space that links past, present and future,” said Leah Namdar, who will be in charge of the mikvah.

Today, Gothenburg is home to 3500 Jews and this is now the only Mikvah in the city.

“People who will visit the mikvah won’t be coming because they have to, but because it is a very enjoyable experience, physically and spiritually,” said Sara Lejderman, a writer and a Gothenburg Chabad member.

--JointMedia News Service

Jewish tombstones defaced in Kosovo

Click photo to download. Caption: Jewish Tombstones desecrated in Kosovo. Credit: lubavitch.comDozens of Tombstones in a Kosovo Jewish cemetery were sprayed with Swastikas last week, ABC News reported. This occurred at a cemetery that was restored by students from Dartmouth College in New Hampshire and the American University in Kosovo.

“As Jewish life in the Balkans experiences a renewal, we’re seeing resentment and opposition by certain organizations and groups who seem not to tolerate the Jewish revival this region is experiencing,” said Rabbi Yoel Kaplan, Chief Rabbi of Albania and Chabad representative to the region

Since Tuesday the inscription "Jud Raus" (“Jews out”) could still be seen on the cemetery memorial dedicated by Rabbi Edward S. Boraz of Dartmouth’s Roth Center for Jewish Life. That ceremony had honored Jewish families who died during the Holocaust. 300 Kosovo Jews had died in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp.

“The damaging of cemeteries presents an act in complete contradiction with the traditions and values of the people of Kosovo, based on tolerance and full respect for all the dead and all the monuments,” said Kosovo President President Atifete Jahjaga. U.S. Ambassador to Kosovo, Christopher Dell also added that “The act is one of contempt for the most basic norms of tolerance, coexistence, and respect, and cannot be tolerated.”

-JointMedia News Service

JDC Jewish Service corps student helps doctor in Ethiopia

Take Shaun Goldstone is a pre-med student who has been serving in Ethiopia since February as part of the American-Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) Jewish Service Corps.

According to the JDC website, the program offers young Jews the opportunity to go on an 8-10 week service opportunity in a foreign country. JDC Fellows create unique projects that tackle Jewish and humanitarian needs around the world.

 “I have had the unbelievable opportunity to see Dr. Rick meet a heart or spine patient at the Catholic Mission where we have a clinic, get the necessary x-rays and tests, passports, visas, and funds to send someone to India for life-saving cardiac surgery or Ghana for life-changing spinal surgery and watch that patient return with a renewed sense of purpose,” Goldstone wrote on his JDC blog.

Other program participants have served in countries such as India, Turkey, Ukraine, Slovakia, Germany, Israel, Rwanda and more. Applications for the 2012-13 programs will open later this month, JDC recently announced.  Find out more at

-JointMedia News Service

Father of Anwar Al-Awlaki says son didn’t die in vain

The father of Anwar Al-Awlaki said “Son’s blood did not and will not go in vain” at a rally in front of the U.S. embassy in London December, 2, the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) reported.

Twenty members of Muslims Against Crusades were arrested at the protest intended to condemn U.S. drone strikes on Muslim countries. Dr. Nasser Al-Awlaki also recorded his message to the U.S. government about his son and posted it on YouTube.

Anwar Al-Awlaki, 40, used his dual Yemeni and American citizenship to develop ties with Al-Qaida and participate in terrorist plots. He was killed by a U.S. drone in Yemen in October, the Guardian reported. Dr. Nasser Al-Awlaki argued that there was never any evidence against his son.

“It is the Job of all of Us to Spread His Knowledge, and Keep it Alive,” he said. Watch his full YouTube address at

-JointMedia News Service

Iran Update: U.S. spy plane shot down, missile site explosion, and warming Argentine relations

  • Concern over Iran escalated this weekend as Iranian officials claimed its armed forces shot down an advanced American RQ-170 spy drone that violated Iranian airspace, the official IRNA news agency reported on Sunday. 

    According to the Associated Press, U.S. officials claimed they had lost contact with the drone, said to be flying over neighboring Afghanistan just last week. A U.S. official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that the U.S. had “absolutely no indication” that the drone was shot down.

    Military officials raised concern Monday that Iran will have gained closely guarded technological knowledge if it comes into possession of the drone. However, according to the Associated Press, experts say that due to the impact from a high altitude, few large pieces would remain from the wreckage, making it difficult for Iran to gain any new information.
  • The New York Times reported that the explosion that destroyed a major missile testing site in Iran, and killed missile program head Brig. Gen. Hassan Moghaddam as well as 16 others, served as a significant setback to the country’s missile program. Experts claimed the setback is due not only to the damage to the site, but to the loss of the specialists who worked there. The cause of the explosion is shrouded in mystery, though many speculate it was a U.S. Israeli collaboration.
  • The increased sanctions that Iran will undoubtedly face as a result of the IAEA report released a few weeks ago may be offset by a growing partnership with Argentina. Reuters reported that Argentine exports to Iran, which had diminished due to a worsening of relations, increased by more than 70% this year to $1.5 billion. 

    While Argentina has joined the international community in condemning Iran for its human rightsClick photo to download. Caption: Argentinian President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner. Credit: Presidency of the Nation of Argentina record, there are signs that its behavior is changing. Argentina was one of the few countries to remain seated during Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad anti-West rant to the General Assembly; in previous years, Argentina had followed suit and walked out. Diplomats are unclear as to why Argentina’s position is seemingly changing.

         -JointMedia News Service









Posted on December 5, 2011 and filed under World.