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Another former U.S. diplomat with Middle East expertise, Ambassador Dennis Ross, writes at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy that the Saudi trip is almost all about Iran. In fact, Ross doesn’t even mention the Palestinians. He says that the Saudis’ biggest worry is not just Iran, but American dithering:
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Fair or not, Saudi leaders believe the U.S. is seeking detente with Iran and is turning a blind eye to Tehran’s troublemaking in the region. They see the Iranians using the nuclear program negotiations to buy time, and fear that the U.S. is so anxious to do a deal and avoid conflict with Iran that it refuses to compete with the Iranians in the region or to back U.S. friends as they do so. U.S. hesitancy in Syria, and particularly the perceived unwillingness to act militarily even though the president had established a “red line” on chemical weapons, has done much to feed this impression.
Wednesday, March 26th, 2014 at 8:24 AM | Stand For Israel
Former State Department official Aaron David Miller, writing at The American Interest, describes the differences in Saudi and U.S. views of the region. Interestingly, for those who believe the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the lynchpin of all problems in the Middle East, Miller barely mentions it — but he mentions Iran a lot:
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Stripped to its essence, the diverging nature of U.S.-Saudi interests reflects a fundamental question. The Saudis wonder and worry about the broader U.S. commitment in the region, specifically our willingness to stand by our friends and our determination to oppose our adversaries.
Wednesday, March 26th, 2014 at 8:15 AM | Stand For Israel
Yesterday, we told you a little about Turkey’s ongoing feud with Syria. Today, Christopher de Bellaigue writes at The New York Review of Books that the current mess in Turkey is more about internal politics than external politics and may have done irreparable damage to Turkish society and the prospects for future generations of Turks:
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Erdoğan’s image is suffering. Last summer’s protests disclosed to the public a prime minister ruled by rage and fear, as he reacted to the dissatisfaction of a largely secular minority not with magnanimous gestures, which would have satisfied many of the protesters, but with baton charges, tear gas, and denunciations of a plot by outside powers, sustained by a sinister “interest rate lobby,” to deny Turkey its rightful place in the sun. By “interest rate lobby” Erdoğan means unscrupulous Western speculators—Jews, by implication—and his remarks speak to older memories, among them of Turkey’s indebtedness to European bankers in Ottoman times …
Tuesday, March 25th, 2014 at 8:14 AM | Stand For Israel
The Times of Israel has a piece by the head of Tikva, the Fellowship-funded organization of children’s homes, schools, and community centers for Ukraine’s Jewish community. Refael Kruskal says that while the world has focused on the crisis in his country, often ignoring the plight of Ukraine’s Jews, The Fellowship has tried to help ease these people’s pain:
The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (IFCJ) has heard our cry and given a generous donation to help us protect schools, homes, synagogues and other Jewish facilities by increasing security staff, adding panic buttons and building food reserves. Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, President of the IFCJ, came to Tikva last week to be with the community during this time of need. During a speech at the Girls Home, he was moved to tears as he spoke about these children who, after so much trauma already, were now in this new crisis.
As this crisis for Ukraine’s Jews — its poor, its children, and its elderly — continues, please pray for all those affected and all those trying to provide for them, please continue praying for peace, and please consider helping these, the neediest of this suffering community.Comments (2) »
Monday, March 24th, 2014 at 3:32 PM | Stand For Israel
We have received this message and photo from one of our partners in Odessa, Ukraine, where The Fellowship has helped keep the city’s Jewish people safe and supplied (along with Jewish communities throughout the rest of the turbulent region and country). After Rabbi Eckstein’s visit, and after The Fellowship gave over $10 million, the program’s director says:
Thank you again for your very important visit.
You lifted the spirits of the community and the children in a very special way. I have never seen someone with so much empathy and the immediate bond the children felt to you.
Enclosed is a picture of Odessa today … On the street of the Shul … Tense but still safe!
We want to thank our friends and supporters for helping us help those in need. Keep praying for the people of Ukraine, as the situation is still very chaotic, but know that your prayers and your aid have made a very great difference in the lives of so many who have so little.Comments (3) »
Monday, March 24th, 2014 at 1:24 PM | Stand For Israel
Today marks the 140th anniversary of the birth of the world’s most renowned illusionist and escape artist, Harry Houdini. Although that was the name that would bring the great performer fame and fortune, Houdini was born Ehrich Weiss, the son of a rabbi, on March 24, 1874. Immigrating to America from Austria-Hungary, the Weiss family first settled in Appleton, Wisconsin, then in New York City.
Young Ehrich was a trapeze artist and a champion cross-country runner before becoming a professional magician. He took the name Harry Houdini as a tribute to two of his heroes, who he would quickly surpass in both skill and celebrity. Houdini became known for his daring escapes, as well as his debunking of so-called psychics and mediums, which were all the rage in the early 20th century. By the time his own death occurred — which is a mystery to this day — Houdini had prearranged code words with his wife, Bess, so that no one could fake the appearance of his own spirit from the afterlife.
The legacy left by this son of a humble rabbi has kept his name and feats in our memory all these years later. Enjoy this film of Houdini performing a straightjacket escape.Comments (2) »
Monday, March 24th, 2014 at 1:11 PM | Stand For Israel
While the world waits for news on missing Malaysian Airlines Flight 370, and with memories of 9/11 still in our minds, Mitch Ginsburg of the The Times of Israel speaks with the only airline pilot who ever stopped a hijacking at altitude. Uri Bar-Lev, a retired pilot for El Al, tells the story of how quick thinking and a daring maneuver thwarted two terrorists from controlling or destroying the 707 airliner he was piloting in September 1970. Bar-Lev’s tale is not only exciting, but could be a good lesson for today’s pilots, who fly in equally unfriendly skies:
Bar-Lev told Kol, the air marshal, to hold on tight. He was going to throw the plane into a dive. The negative g-force, akin to the feeling one gets on the downhill section of a roller coaster ride, would accomplish two things: it would lower the plane’s altitude, reducing the pressure difference between the inside and outside of the plane, which would make a bullet hole or a grenade explosion less dangerous; and it would throw the hijackers off their feet. The passengers, he said, were all belted in and would be fine.
Read the rest of the story to see how Bar-Lev’s actions played out, and how this hero not only saved his plane and passengers, but stood for Israel and for what was right.Comments (5) »
Monday, March 24th, 2014 at 9:44 AM | Stand For Israel
The question is often asked — why is it such a big deal to Israel that the Palestinians recognize it as a Jewish state? Forget, for a moment, that nobody ever seems to ask the Palestinians what the big deal is in recognizing Israel as a Jewish state. David Hazony, writing at The Jewish Daily Forward, explains why it’s a big deal:
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Symbols have a tendency to be, well, symbolic. In this case, accepting the Jewish state (rather than just a political entity called “Israel”) is understood by both sides to represent the ultimate, public and final abandonment of the long-standing explicit Palestinian goal of eradicating Israel, whether through violence or through the relocation of millions of people of Palestinian descent currently living in refugee camps around the Arab world. To accept the Jewish state is to create the minimal conditions for an end to the conflict. It is to signal to the Palestinian factions, divisions, functionaries and public, as well as the whole global pro-Palestinian machine, that the era of “resistance” is reaching its end.
Monday, March 24th, 2014 at 8:26 AM | Stand For Israel
In September, Turkish air forces shot down a Syrian helicopter after it flew across the border into Turkish air space. And, yesterday, the border skirmish continued as a Turkish fighter shot down a Syrian jet that had also flown where it shouldn’t have.
On the one hand, the Turks have every right to defend their airspace. If foreign jets were flying into U.S. airspace, how long would we sit back and allow it? Of course, we wouldn’t.
On the other hand, Turkey has, for years, allowed foreign jihadist elements to operate on the Turkish side of the Turkey-Syria border. Under normal circumstances, the country in which these elements are based is responsible for policing their activities. But, when jihadists stream over the border into Syria, make trouble, and try to run away, the Syrians are understandably called on to give chase. Those who think it’s easy to stop at an imaginary line in the sky are seeing this conflict as little more than an episode of the Dukes of Hazzard where Sheriff Coltrane stops chasing the Duke boys at the county line.
It’s also worth remembering that conflict with Syria furthers the jihadist ambitions of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. We’ve written many times about the sad, terrible path down which he has taken his country, which was once on a path to E.U. membership and remains (inexplicably) a NATO ally. In the battle over Syria, in which dictator Bashar al-Assad has aligned himself with Sunni Iran and Iranian proxy Hezbollah against the Shiite rebels and their al-Qaeda-inspired allies, Erdogan has firmly planted himself on the side of the rebels. And his air force isn’t afraid to let Syria know it. As with recent Israeli air strikes inside his country, Syrian dictator Bashar Assad – who is not in a position to open another front in his continuing war – has little choice but to ignore these attacks.
As the Syrian war continues – and as Assad and his Iranian backers seem to…Read More » Comments (7) »
Monday, March 24th, 2014 at 8:19 AM | Stand For Israel