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Muslim Brotherhood takes lead in Egyptian elections

After counting 90 percent of the votes in first stage of Egypt’s three stage elections, the Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamic fundamentalist group, appears to be in the lead. Egypt’s Al Nour party, also a radical Islamic party, appeared to be in second place with the centrist party trailing in last:

The results show that the Muslim Brotherhood have become the strongest political force in the country since the fall of Hosni Mubarak, although it is still too early to announce whether they will enjoy the solid victory that has been expected, or whether they will see even greater success at the polls, as there are still votes to be counted, and this is only the first stage of Egypt’s three-part elections.

The figures released by the judges responsible for the ballot boxes reveal that the Muslim Brotherhood have a clear majority among voters in Egypt’s capital Cairo, in Luxor, Port Said, and in the area of the Suez Canal.

Israel is obviously watching this election very closely: If the Egyptian elections end with the transfer of power to the Islamist groups currently in the lead, then all hopes for peaceful relations with Israel will likely be crushed.

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Wednesday, November 30th, 2011 at 11:57 AM  | Stand For Israel

Iranians “got up and fled” from Israeli rescuers

Thailand, where the incident occurred (photo: Amit Kotler)

Two Iranian gents, Mundar and Ali, are kayaking off the coast of Thailand. Their boat overturns and they’re foundering in the water. Fortunately, a couple of Israelis who own a local boating business happen by and save them. Unfortunately, the gratitude of the rescuees toward their Israeli lifesavers doesn’t last long:

When they reached the shore the two, who introduced themselves as Mundar and Ali, hugged and kissed their rescuers and thanked them.

“When we told them we’re Israelis they just got up and fled,” Nimrod noted.

Walter Russell Mead, with tongue firmly in cheek, comments that the Iranians’ reaction “no doubt was due to their strong and principled anti-Zionism; they, like so many others around the world, are careful to separate their opposition to the state of Israel from their warm and fraternal regard for the Jewish people.  Only wicked people would think otherwise.”

Indeed! Let’s not impugn the motives of the anti-Zionists who, as we know (because they’re always telling us), are never motivated by anti-Semitism. Speaking of which, let’s take a visit to Egypt, where presidential candidate Tawfiq Okasha reassures us:

Not all the Jews in the world are evil. You may ask: Tawfiq, what is the ratio? The ratio is 60-40. Sixty percent are evil to varying degrees, all the way to a level that words cannot describe, while 40% are not evil. They, however, are divided into three categories: One group consists of the non-evil, another group consists of the non-evil to a lesser degree, and the third group consists of the non-evil to an even lesser degree.

Thanks for crunching the numbers, Tawfiq! I guess we can all be 40 percent less worried now. Though I am a bit curious about the methodology used for your research.

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Wednesday, November 30th, 2011 at 9:01 AM  | Stand For Israel

Four Katyusha rockets strike Israel

Remains of Katyusha rocket in northern Israel (Photo: Yaron Kaminsky)

Four Katyusha rockets fired by terrorists operating out of Lebanon hit northern Israel on Monday night, damaging a number of buildings and setting a blaze which firefighters managed to contain. No injuries were reported in the attacks.

Since Hamas, Hezbollah, and other terror groups that operate along Israel’s borders take their marching orders from Iran, some believe these attacks were responses to recent bombings in Iran. Two weeks ago an explosion rocked a military base in Tehran, killing more than 30 members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, including an officer known as the architect of Iran’s missile program. Then, earlier this week another explosion occurred in the Iranian city of Isfahan right outside of a uranium conversion plant. (Iran has since denied that the blast happened at all, but reports from residents contradict this).

Are these blasts – along with the assassination of leading Iranian nuclear scientists and the stuxnet computer virus that infiltrated Iran’s nuclear plants – covert efforts by Israel to stop Iran’s rush toward nuclear weapons? No one knows for sure, as Israel has neither confirmed nor denied these allegations, which have come from many sides. But, if they are, it seems safe to say that no one in Israel would be sorry to know that its government is striking back against Iran, which has sworn to destroy Israel and is working on the tools to make this promise a reality.

 

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Tuesday, November 29th, 2011 at 4:09 PM  | Stand For Israel

A fragile hope for democracy in Egypt

 

(Credit: LEVINE/SIPA/Newscom)

Even though too few of us actually participate in our democracy, Americans love the idea of voting – so much so that we tend to get misty-eyed when long-oppressed people finally go to the polls to select their leaders.

As Egyptians go to the polls today, we should react with more sobriety. 

YNet reports that “the vote promises to be the fairest and cleanest in Egypt in living memory.”  That’s a pretty low bar.  You could run a Soviet-style election and it would still be cleaner and fairer than past Egyptian “elections.”  In 2005, Hosni Mubarak garnered 88% of the “vote” against a “reformer” who was thrown in jail months before the voting.  The Egyptian army also recently announced that foreign election monitors would be barred from the country, raising concerns about possible fraud.

The most recent polls showed that the Muslim Brotherhood – running with other Islamist allies under the Freedom and Justice Party banner – expect to do well, as do a handful of other parties.  But most polls indicated a substantial number of undecided voters (more than 50% in some polls) and the imperfections inherent in polling in Egypt make meaningful data difficult to gather. 

For now, we will sit and watch and hope that Egyptians make a good choice.  We are happy that more of our fellow human beings have won the right to self-determination.  We marvel at the long-stifled joy that comes with freedom.  We wish the Egyptian people nothing but the best.

But democracy doesn’t just come about because an election is held.  Real democracy requires supporting institutions such as an independent judiciary and generally accepted legal code, a free and vibrant press, social and religious organizations, and an educational system that takes seriously its responsibility to produce citizens capable of preserving and expanding liberty.  Egypt doesn’t seem to have an abundance of any of those things.

Democracy also requires individuals rising to leadership whose top priority is the building of a free and just society.  Looking…

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Monday, November 28th, 2011 at 1:45 PM  | Stand For Israel

U.N.: Syria committed crimes against humanity

(Photo: Reuters)

The United Nations springs into action, recognizing what the rest of the world has known for a long time:

A United Nations commission of inquiry on Syria said on Monday Syrian military and security forces had committed crimes against humanity including murder, torture and rape and the government of President Bashar Assad bore responsibility.

The panel, which interviewed 223 victims and witnesses including defectors, called on Syria to halt the “gross human rights violations”, release prisoners rounded up in mass arrests and allow media, aid workers and rights monitors access to the country.

Having acknowledged that “orders to shoot and otherwise mistreat civilians originated from policies and directives issued at the highest levels of the armed forces and the government,” the U.N. has proposed that the way to stop these outrages is … well, they haven’t proposed anything really. Did anyone expect them to?

OK, to be fair, they did unanimously approve Syria’s membership on two U.N. human rights committees. But it’s tough for those of us who live in the real world to see how this will stop Syria from murdering its own citizens.

 

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Monday, November 28th, 2011 at 11:49 AM  | Stand For Israel

Three Nations Issue New Sanctions Against Iran

Israel in the News reports that the United States, Britain, and Canada have issued a new round of sanctions against Iran in an effort to get the rogue nation to end its nuclear weapons program. Iran responded by calling the unilateral blockade of its oil and gas business as propaganda and psychological warfare. In the meantime, Israeli satellite surveillance is keeping watch over Iran’s alleged nuclear site.

Also this week:
• Egypt’s Cabinet resigns, allowing for transfer of power to civilian government;
• Israel boosts patrols around its east Mediterranean natural gas fields for fear of terrorist activity;
• Al Qaida sympathizer is arrested in New York in alleged bomb threat;
• Muammar Al-Qadaffi’s son to face trial in Libya.

This week’s Israel in the News Perspective features Yael Eckstein, senior vice president for IFCJ, with her Thanksgiving reflections.

Listen below to Israel in the News!

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Wednesday, November 23rd, 2011 at 11:42 AM  | Stand For Israel

Fabricated statements charge Israel with Egypt unrest

It’s a tried and true formula in the Arab world — when in doubt, blame Israel:

“The sensible people of this nation, on all sides, must initiate and take correct action in order to foil the scheme of the Zionists and the remnants [of the previous regime]. We have seen that the Zionists’ television [channels] continue inciting against the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces and the Egyptian army in general; publishing false reports that the Copts are suffering from ethnic discrimination between Muslims and Christians and from religious oppression all across Egypt; inciting to continue the protests of rage aimed at toppling the so-called generals’ regime’; and urging the U.S. not to sell arms to Egypt in response to the Maspero [demonstrations]. This is a Zionist weakness that exposes some of what is happening behind the scenes and proves that the Zionists are involved in instigating the events or at least in exploiting them…”

The statement above is from ‘Abd Al-Rahman Al-Barr of the Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamist group many fear will seize power in Egypt. Wait, tell me again about how the “Arab Spring” is bringing a new dawn of liberty and democracy to the Middle East?

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Wednesday, November 23rd, 2011 at 9:41 AM  | Stand For Israel

An Israeli veteran remembers the Jewish state’s early years

David

Since moving to Israel seven years ago, I have met many older Israelis who have generously shared their amazing stories of what it was like to live here in the early years of the Jewish state. All were witnesses to a chapter in history that must not be forgotten.

One of these people is a man named David, who I met a number of years ago in downtown Jerusalem. David was born to two Iraqi immigrants and grew up in a neighborhood adjacent to Jerusalem’s Old City, which was then under Jordanian rule.

The Jerusalem David grew up in was much different than modern Jerusalem. Back then, Jews could not enter the Old City to pray at the Western Wall, the streets were not bustling with tourists, and Jerusalem’s Jewish residents lived in constant fear of being the targets of Arab aggression.

David remembers what it was like when Jordan controlled the eastern parts of the city. “The sounds of war were all around us,” he told me. “When we heard gunfire we hid under our beds, and when we hear rounds of mortars we ran to the bomb shelter.”

David proudly recalled that his father served in an IDF combat unit which took part in numerous campaigns to protect the fledgling Jewish state. During the 1967 Six Day War, David’s father was sent to defend Israel’s northern border where his unit battled against the Syrian army. David, his mom, and two younger siblings took refuge in a bomb shelter located less than 100 yards from the Old City walls. They heard “load booms and automatic machine-gun-fire” as Israeli troops stormed the Old City and fought victoriously against the Jordanians.  

David described the immense joy they felt when they heard that Jewish forces had regained control over the Temple Mount and the Western Wall, Judaism’s most sacred site. “Our ears were glued to the radio as the broadcaster wept into the microphone, ‘Our soldiers have made it to the Temple Mount.’”

In the six years that followed, David grew from a 13-year-old boy…

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Tuesday, November 22nd, 2011 at 3:12 PM  | Stand For Israel

Continued violence and chaos grips Egypt

A protester looks on as riot policemen throw stones during clashes (PHOTO: Reuters)

After yesterday — the third straight day of violent protests in Egypt’s Tahrir Square, saw 30 killed and 1,200 wounded – Egypt’s entire interim government resigned:

Tens of thousands of people took to Cairo’s iconic Tahrir Square on Monday, many of them calling for a “millionman march” the following day. The rally was the latest link in a four-day effort that began Friday to protest the army’s continued grip on most aspects of Egyptian life.

Egyptians are set to elect a new parliament in a staggered vote that starts November 28, but presidential powers remain with the army until a presidential poll, which may not happen until late 2012 or early 2013. Protesters want a much swifter transition.

Egyptians are worried about violence impacting the upcoming elections – and many observers are concerned over the results of the voting.

Analysts say Islamists could win 40 percent of parliamentary seats, with a big portion going to the Muslim Brotherhood, the most organized Islamist group. Islamists were by far the dominant group at Friday’s mass rally, which drew 50,000 people to Tahrir Square.

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Tuesday, November 22nd, 2011 at 12:12 PM  | Stand For Israel

Today in Israeli history — a groundbreaking aliyah

(Photo: IDF)

Remembering Operation Moshe:

On this date, 27 years ago, a historic operation was conducted that brought over 8,000 Ethiopian Jews to Israel, to the place that had been the subject of their longing for so many years.

In the 1970’s, the Israeli government made the decision to authorize the use of the IDF to enable the immigration of thousands of Jews who were living in Ethiopia, a country that at the time forbade its citizens from immigrating to Israel. The operation was particularly challenging and risky and made even more so due to the fact that at the time no diplomatic relations existed between Ethiopia and Israel. The operation consisted of Ethiopia’s Jews first reaching neutral Sudan, then being transported by sea from there to Israel with help from IDF’s Navy. Between 1977 and 1984, about 5,000 Ethiopian Jews reached Israel this way, until the IDF’s generals decided that the transport posed too much of a risk for the new immigrants.

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Monday, November 21st, 2011 at 3:15 PM  | Stand For Israel
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State of Israel"

Rabbi's Commentary
Seeking Prayers for Safety and Comfort in a Time of Crisis

The news from Israel continues to grieve me deeply. Twenty-seven Israeli soldiers have been killed thus far during Operation Protective Edge.


Read Rabbi Eckstein's message »

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