Turkey absorbs Syrian refugees

 

23 September 2014, Tuesday

İbrahim Kalın

THE SYRIAN WAR: INDIFFERENCE TO HUMAN SUFFERING

Over the last two years, Syrian suffering has been reduced to numbers and statistics. Just like the terrible loss and pain of Palestinians, Bosnians or Tutsis in Rwanda, they have become daily routine news stories and find a few lines on the front page depending on the agenda of the day

İbrahim Kalın, 23 September 2014, Tuesday

The bloody 3-year Syrian war has been many things – an unjust and ugly war, a power struggle, a failure of diplomacy, a lack of leadership, indecisiveness, refugees, destruction of a culture and tradition, sectarian tension, terrorism and more. But the most disturbing and shameful aspect of the war has been the high cost of human suffering that has gone beyond any other conflict in modern times. Both the rich and poor of the world alike fail to stop this human carnage. Besides politics and international relations, this is a shame for humanity in the 21st century.
Since the start of the conflict in early 2011, tens of thousands of Syrians have lost their lives, hundreds of thousands have been injured and millions have become refugees. According to U.N. estimates, more than 250,000 Syrians have been killed so far although nobody knows the exact number. This is such a bloody and massive war that no one is able to keep a record of the dead. It is a dreadfully low point when human beings cannot even bury their dead.
Over the last two years, Syrian suffering has been reduced to numbers and statistics. Just like the terrible loss and pain of Palestinians, Bosnians or Tutsis in Rwanda, they have become daily routine news stories and find a few lines on the front page depending on the agenda of the day. They enter and leave our radar screens but are hardly noticed as something that requires urgent attention here and now.
The results, according to estimates from the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), are that more than 9 million Syrians have become internally displaced people in their homeland and refugees in the four major neighboring countries. An estimated 4 million Syrians have taken refugees in Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq with thousands fleeing to Egypt, Europe and the U.S. As of Sept. 22, Turkey alone is home to 1.5 million Syrian refugees in camps and cities across the country.
Since the beginning of the Syrian war, Turkey has followed an open-door policy for refugees. I remember the day when we were dreading that the number of refugees would soon reach 100,000 in Turkey alone. We had everything ready. We had increased our capacity to host any number of refugees as we had done in the past for Iraqi Kurds and others. But no one imagined being where we are today.
Over the last five days alone, Turkey accepted close to 150,000 Syrians, mostly Kurds, fleeing Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) terror in Kobani, Syria. They continue to flow into Turkey as I write. There is no way to return these people as they suffer the pain and agony of a brutal war unleashed upon them by both the Bashar Assad regime and ISIS terrorists. Their ethnicity, religion or sect does not matter. Turkey has never asked the ethnic or religious identity of any refugees seeking.

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Combatting anti-semitism

Pushing back against the world’s oldest hatred

While anti-Israel sentiments bubble up and Jews are murdered in Europe in greater numbers than at any time since World War II, anti-Israel Arab states buy their way to influence in America via supposedly independent think tanks and into universities via major donations.

 

By Jennifer Rubin September 21, Washington Post

There is little doubt that the tide of anti-Semitism, often masked as anti-Israel criticism, is on the rise in Europe. In the Middle East, anti-Semitism is pandemic. The good news is that serious pushback is underway. The better news is that it is bipartisan. The bad news is that the problem is not solely in Europe.


Demonstrators in Lille, France, protest Israel’s military action in Gaza this summer. REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol

Most notably the House passed on Thursday a resolution, authored by Reps. Peter Roskam (R-Ill.), Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.), and Kay Granger (R-Tex.), condemning the rising tide of anti-Semitism. In a press release Roskam stated:

Today’s unanimous passage of our resolution sends a clear and strong message that we condemn the rising tide of anti-Semitism throughout the world and that we will do all we can to prevent its spread. In 2014 alone, we have seen increased incidents of murder at Jewish sites, violent attacks and death threats against Jews, as well as violence, arson, graffiti, and other instances of vandalism at Jewish places of worship. … We must ensure the world views such actions for what they are, the vile and hate-fueled persecution of an entire people, rather than an acceptable expression of frustration with political events in the Middle East or anywhere else. The United States must continue to play an essential role in shining a spotlight on the ugly resurgence of anti-Semitism, as well as all forms of religious discrimination.

Some 174 lawmakers signed on as co-sponsors. House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (Calif.) put out a separate statement: “The global rise in anti-Semitic violence is very troubling. Jews throughout the world have been attacked on the street, synagogues have been bombed, cemeteries desecrated, Jewish groups have received hate mail, and anti-Semitic slogans have been spray-painted on buildings. Political and religious leaders must resolutely condemn these attacks on Jewish communities and make clear they will not be tolerated.”

It is fair to ask why neither the Senate nor the president himself has raised this issue. Perhaps it just isn’t a priority.

Meanwhile, as in Europe, U.S. college and university campuses are awash with anti-Israel rhetoric. However, on American campuses it gets dressed up as scholarship. (Singling out Israel and holding it to a different standard than any other country is classic anti-Semitism, as Natan Sharanksy pointed out. But for now let’s just called it anti-Israel propaganda.) The Chronicle of Higher Ed reports that, in a “joint statement issued on Wednesday, [several pro-Israel] groups argue that Title VI of the Higher Education Act, which provides funds to international-studies and foreign-language centers to educate the public and train security specialists, is being misused ‘to support biased, politicized, and imbalanced programs of Middle East studies.’ ” The groups argue that these “programs fail to satisfy Title VI’s intended purpose, flout Congressional intent, and thwart American national-security and foreign-policy interests.”

The groups point to two studies (the Amcha Initiative and the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law) documenting the fixation some of these programs have on Israel, virtually all viciously critical of the Jewish state. The report notes: “The statement alleges that such abuses continue despite amendments to the Higher Education Act, enacted in 2008, that require programs receiving Title VI funds to reflect diverse perspectives. It urges Congress to amend the Higher Education Act to require recipients of Title VI funds to establish grievance procedures to handle complaints that their programs do not reflect a wide range of views. It also urges Congress to require the Education Department to establish a formal process to resolve complaints about the programs.”

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Americans got it all wrong

Americans were too late in realizing Israel is not the problem

 
While John Kerry wasted his time in Israel in past two years, Syria became a jihadist den, Iraq fell apart and ISIS grew stronger.

Guy Bechor, September 19, 2014, YNet News

Only about two years ago, US Secretary of State John Kerry was convinced that he had found the Archimedean point, which if he would hold onto, he would be able to solve all the problems of the Middle East – Israel.

This was also the perception of President Barack Obama and his Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel: A solution in Israel would allow stability in all of the Middle East.

This delusional perception is a continuation of the decades-long approach that Israel is the root of all problems in the Middle East, a sort of almost anti-Semitic approach. Our conflict has been so inflated by politicians and academics, that over the years many have fallen into the trap of thinking that we really are the problem.

Now that same Kerry is trying to build a “coalition” to fight ISIS, and he didn’t even bother to come to Israel, because what good can Israel do? Are we Sunnis or Shiites? Or maybe we are part of the conflict of Arab nationalism against radical Islam?

Indeed, he was very late in understanding that not only are we not an Archimedean point with which the problems of the Middle East can be solved, but that we have a very weak connection to these problems. Only now, the Americans have realized that our conflict is at the margins of the margins of the real problems in the region.

But in the meantime, two years have passed. While Kerry wasted at least 13 journeys here, which showed just how wrong the Americans were in understanding the Middle East, Syria became a den of jihadist murderers, Iraq fell apart and ISIS grew stronger, along with the Islamic defiance to forcibly establish an Islamic caliphate aspiring to reach Western Europe and the United States as well.

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Rosh Hashonah is significant and meaningful

Rosh Hashonah is About Returning

We should also contemplate how we could change the babble of many years and bring about an era of productivity. This way we might raise, beyond divisiveness, to levels nearer to G-d within our lifetime.

By Isaac Meyer Zwick, September 19, 2014

 

The Jewish New Year is approaching and, as in all new year celebrations, we pray for peace, freedom, health, and happiness. It’s a period of harvest and of shorter days. Unlike Passover, the Jewish New Year is about returning to G-d. For most, this is a repetitious yet temporary annual exercise. At times where strife, loss, and war dominate the news, I pause to wish everyone a happy 5775!

The rituals preceding the New Year, developed through millennia, include returning to the core and origins. These aren’t pilgrimages to holy shrines. These are returnings to introspection about origins, self, families, and neighbors. Those who can, do visit gravesites of deceased family members, they meet for special prayers, and they even blow the shofar each day during the month of Elul, the month prior to Tishrei. The beginning of Tishrei is the new year.

Less than 2 months have transpired since a mourning period during the month of Av, memorializing the destruction of the Holy Temples. The destruction of the second Temple was in 70 AD by the hands of the Romans. At the time, the Jewish lands were part of the Roman territories and the Jews staged several revolts against the Roman regime. Some were successful while others failed. Under a new Caesar and his son, Rome staged an offensive that would include the temple’s destruction and the exile of the Jews from Jerusalem. The Jews were able to return after the fall of Rome a few hundred years later. The holy temple was gone and the old-biblical sacrifices were no more. The Sanhedrin would replace them.

A group of Jews, the Zealots, cast several rebellions against Rome over several decades.  60,000 heavily armed and highly professional Roman troops launched their first attack against the Jewish state’s most radicalized area, the Galilee in the north. The Romans vanquished the Galilee, and an estimated 100,000 Jews were killed or sold into slavery. All told, approximately 1 million Jews may have been killed in the revolt, during the Zealot period. Historians and theorists believe that, ultimately, it was divisiveness among Zealot groups that contributed to the loss against Rome. Divisiveness never wins. Unity may prevail but how attainable is it?

The area has always been a region of war and discontent, from the Christian Crusades, Saladin’s Islamic victory over the Christians, Turkey’s invasion, and British rule. It took nearly 2000 years before the Jews could claim Jerusalem their home. after the bloodshed of two wars in 1967 and 1973.

Sadly, 5774 has shown that peace within the region is still an abstract idea. Peace in many regions around the world continue to be more abstractions than realities.

As people proceed to the New Year, we continue to confront personal and regional crises. There are deaths and displacements. Perhaps as we celebrate and pray for a happy year ahead, we should hope that, despite technological advances, we transcend to higher levels of consciousness and understanding beyond our tumultuous pasts.

Isaiah is quoted as “turning swords into plows.” This is our planet, a tiny infinitesimal little rock that G-d provided to sustain life and cultivate civilizations. Rosh Hashanah is not merely a day or 10 days, or 40 days. It is literally the head of the year, a period of new beginnings. Health, happiness, prosperity and all other ideals are good wishes and plans. We should also contemplate how we could change the babble of many years and bring about an era of productivity. This way we might raise, beyond divisiveness, to levels nearer to G-d within our lifetime.

Yoma, a section of the Talmud, implies that the Yavneh generation of rabbis who replaced the concrete Temple went to search for the reason for the destruction, for the severing of their concrete link with the Almighty. They found that not in the relationship between human beings and God, but rather in the interpersonal domain. They identified the source of national disaster as unworthy human conduct: sin’at hinam, gratuitous hatred. Intragroup divisiveness is as lethal as intergroup hatred.

The significance of Rosh Hashanah is that return to G-d. It is in this period that we pray and atone for our deeds and misdeeds. If this ritual was extended each day of the year, perhaps this may be the route to better states of living. Few will agree.

Hillel says, “If I am not for myself, who will be for me? But if I am only for myself, who am I? If not now, when?” Ethics of the Fathers, 1:14

Perhaps, this is a rather large way of sharing best wishes for your 5775 Shanah Tovah! Historical events are repetitive but we hope for the best that we can be as one and all; during the year of opportunities that lay ahead to discover.

Isaac Zwick

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Israel is wonderful in the fall

12 special things to do in Israel this fall

Posted By Abigail Klein Leichman On September 16, 2014 , Israel21C

Autumn in Israel isn’t so much about fall foliage as it is about perfect weather and a countrywide air of celebration thanks to the long holiday season stretching from Rosh Hashanah to Sukkot.

Moderately warm days and comfortably cool nights – and, we all hope, the first gentle rains of the season – are typical of autumn in Israel. Here are 12 fun and fascinating activities to check out in late September through November.

1. New Year’s nature hike, September 19

Ein Tamar stream at Aminadav Forest. (Pikiwiki Israel)

Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael-Jewish National Fund is offering a free guided pre-Rosh Hashanah nature hike in Aminadav Forest south of Jerusalem. Amid natural woodlands, planted forests and breathtaking panoramas, hikers may choose to take part in discussions about forgiveness and about people and their environment. Register in advance by calling the KKL-JNF Forest Hotline at 1-800-350-550.

2. The Sukkah Trail at Neot Kedumim

Can you build a sukkah on a boat?

Though it’s open all year, the Sukkah Trail at Neot Kedumim biblical nature reserve is a fitting autumn activity. The harvest festival of Sukkot, October 8-15 this year, is characterized by temporary outdoor huts. The Sukkah Trail features more than 20 life-size models of the wackiest sukkot discussed and described by the sages of the Mishna and Talmud, including a sukkah on a camel and treehouse sukkah. Three of the 650-acre preserve’s four trails are accessible to wheelchairs and strollers. Along Trail C, you’ll see the trees and shrubs from which Sukkot’s traditional bundle of four species is made.

3. Journey among Dreams, September 28 through October 20, Jaffa Museum of Antiquities, 10 Mifratz Shlomo Street, Old Jaffa

This new family event is an international exhibition of dream-themed paintings created by artists from Israel and 14 other countries, along with animated films, workshops and hands-on activities inspired by dreams. The animated 3D film “Journey among Dreams,” exploring dreams, fantasy and science, will debut here. Many of the original artworks will be for sale. Part of the admission fee of 20 shekels goes to Variety Israel, a non-profit providing medical and therapeutic care to Israeli children with special needs. Information: 972-3-682-5375.

4. Jerusalem Formula One Peace Road Show 2014, October 6-7

Italian racing driver Giancarlo Fisichella with Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat at last year’s inaugural Formula One. (Noam Finer)

The capital city will host its second annual Formula One Race around the city. Professional drivers roar by the Cinematheque, Sultan’s Pool, the Tower of David, the Old City walls, Mamilla, the King David Hotel, Liberty Bell Park and the First Station in Ferraris, Mercedes and Audis. Stunt driving, demo drives and other activities and exhibitions are planned. Watch for free from the sidewalk or buy grandstand tickets. Information: jerusalemformula@gmail.com, 972-2-623-7000.

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Muslim ideology is the real problem

Get Ready for the Real War

Winning the war against Islamic State would only be the beginning. ..Muslim emigration to Western countries unsettles those governments internally due to the Islamic takeover of public space, politics, economics and its image in the politically correct media.

From Dr. Mordechai Kedar, September 17, 2014

Reprinted from Arutz Sheva

In recent weeks, the media are filled with reports on the international preparations for a war against the “Islamic State” and an International Conference was even convened in Paris in an attempt to enlist the cooperation of as many nations as possible in waging it.

At the same time, US air force planes have intensified their attacks against “Islamic State” forces, especially in the vicinity of the dams in northern Iraq, this to prevent their being blown up and causing the deaths of many thousands of Iraqis.

This week we heard a short and decisive speech by US President Barack Obama, into which he inserted rhetoric elements that he has hardly used before, certainly in comparison to the speeches of his predecessor George W. Bush.

I have not heard all of Obama’s speeches, but those I did rarely included the expression “our friends and allies”. Bush used those words day and night when talking about the war against terror. Does this change in rhetoric express a change in Obama’s approach? I am not sure if it does.

In his speech, Obama repeated several times that Iraq is an ally of the United States. And right at the start of his words, he said that the USA cannot do for the Iraqis what they must do for themselves. That sentence is a perfect example of Obama’s erroneous strategic thinking – he continues to see the Iraqis as a single group. He has still not internalized the fact that the Iraqis have never succeeded in developing the sense of unity and solidarity that defines a nation. In Iraq the tribal divisions are alive and kicking and there are over 70 of them, as well as four ethnic groups and about ten religions, all divided among a not inconsiderable number of communal sectors. The possibility that the Iraqi government can function any better than those that preceded it is not great, and therefore the assumption that the Iraqi army can be more stalwart in its battle against the knife-wielding Islamic State fighters is yet to be proven correct.

It’s tough trying to build an international coalition, because there are factors unconnected to the Islamic State that come into play. There is a war in eastern Ukraine playing out in the background and Russia is the main actor in that war. Russia does not support a war against the Islamic State, so not many European countries are lining up to join Obama’s coalition against Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi and his jihadists.

Regional questions also play a part, including the role that will be allotted to countries in the area such as Iran and the Assad regime, both of whom have a clear interest in joining the coalition. Iran will expect to be rewarded with an easing of demands for nuclear controls and Assad will expect an insurance policy to prevent his being deposed, even though he has been defined as a “war criminal”.  The West is not interested in giving Assad this insurance policy, since he has already announced that any military activity by another country on Syrian soil or over Syrian airspace will be considered an act of hostility against Syria to which that country will respond. The bigger problem is not Syria, but Russia, as any incursion on Syrian soil would be interpreted as a green light for Russia in Ukraine.

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Iran is threat to US interests

Iran remains our biggest challenge

A persistent theme of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s speeches is that the United States is a declining power whose domestic sources of strength are fast eroding. In today’s disorderly region, Iran sees a unique opportunity to project its influence and undermine the United States and its system of alliances.

Reprinted from Washington Post, September 18, 2014


In this Sept. 10, 2013 photo released by the official website of the office of the Iranian Presidency, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani speaks during an interview with state television at the presidency in Tehran, Iran. (Rouzbeh Jadidoleslam/AP)

By Eric Edelman, Dennis Ross and Ray Takeyh, September 18, Washington Post 

Eric Edelman served as U.S. undersecretary of defense for policy from 2005 to 2009; Dennis Ross, a fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East policy, was special assistant to the president for the Middle East and South Asia from 2009 to 2011. Ray Takeyh is a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.

As the United States begins its campaign to destroy the Islamic State, many voices can be counted on to call for cooperation with Iran. Among those has been none other than Secretary of State John Kerry, who insisted that Iran’s exclusion from the Paris Conference “doesn’t mean that we are opposed to the idea of communicating to find out if they will come on board, or under what circumstances, or whether there is the possibility of a change.” On the surface, this may seem sensible, as both Washington and Tehran have an interest in defanging a militant Sunni group. However, the essential axiom of Middle East politics is that the enemy of my enemy is still my enemy. The ebbs and flows of the war on terrorism should not be allowed to conceal the fact that the theocratic Iranian regime and its attempt to upend the regional order remains the United States’ most consequential long-term challenge in the Middle East.

The Islamic Republic is not a normal nation-state seeking to realize its legitimate interests but an ideological entity mired in manufactured conspiracies. A persistent theme of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s speeches is that the United States is a declining power whose domestic sources of strength are fast eroding. In today’s disorderly region, Iran sees a unique opportunity to project its influence and undermine the United States and its system of alliances.

In Afghanistan, in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks, the misapprehension was born that the United States needed Iran’s assistance to rehabilitate its war-torn charge, and this misbegotten notion has since migrated from crisis to crisis. The tactical assistance that Iran offered in Afghanistan in 2001 was largely motivated by its fear of being the next target of U.S. retribution. Once it was disabused of that notion, Iran proceeded to lacerate U.S. forces in both Iraq and Afghanistan by providing munitions and sanctuary to various militias. In the meantime, Tehran sought steadily to subvert America’s allies in the Persian Gulf and to undermine the security of Israel.

Today, in the two central battlefronts of the Middle East — Syria and Iraq — Iran’s interests are inimical to those of the United States. Iran’s stake in Syria has been made clear by its provision of money, oil, arms, advisers and, most important, Hezbollah shock troops to prop up the regime of Bashar al-Assad. The United States’ interests, meanwhile, strongly argue against working with Iran against the Islamic State in Syria lest we lose the very Sunni support that will be necessary to eradicate the group. By taking a firm stand in Syria against both Assad and the Islamic State, we can send a strong signal to Iran that we will not acquiesce to its trouble-making.

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Stop blaming Jews

Dear Fellow Liberals: I’m Done Apologizing for Israel

As a species, we don’t seem to cotton to facts—especially when it comes to Jews

Tensions Remain High At Israeli Gaza Border Overview of a tunnel built underground by Hamas militants leading from the Gaza Strip into Southern Israel, seen on August 4, 2014 near the Israeli Gaza border, Israel. Ilia Yefimovich—Getty Images

 

Some years ago, I was seated at dinner next to a British law professor, whom my husband, also a law professor, had invited to a conference that he’d organized. The conversation soon turned, as conversation often does among professional intellectuals, to Israel, specifically to the then-recent conflict between Israeli soldiers and Palestinian fighters in the West Bank town of Jenin, which my dinner partner (and much of the European press) referred to as the “massacre of Jenin.”

Oops—forgot about it already? Here’s a refresher: in 2002, the IDF went into Jenin during the Second Intifada, after Israel determined that the town served as a launching pad for missile and rocket attacks against Israeli civilians. The 10-day operation claimed the lives of around 50 Palestinian gunmen, and 23 Israeli soldiers. My acquaintance, after repeating Palestinian claims of atrocities committed by Israeli forces—claims that had already been roundly debunked—capped off his assessment by saying, “What happened in Jenin was no more and no less than another Holocaust.”

Really?

As a liberal American Jew, I’m tired of apologizing for Israel’s actions regarding its own security, and as of last month, I’m done with it. I’m done for the following two reasons: my eldest child, Sam, motivated by a desire to do something more meaningful than argue about religion, policy and politics, is currently serving as a lone soldier in the IDF, and he spent much of July in Gaza, as part of a team dismantling terror tunnels. In New Jersey, where the rest of his family lives, we didn’t know, from one day to the next, if we’d ever see him again. The second reason is that Israel, despite its highly imperfect record (unlike that of, say, America or France or England or Pakistan or Kenya or Argentina…) is the world’s sole guarantee against another frenzy of murderous hatred against my people, a hatred that is once again raising its voice, and fists, not only among the dispossessed Muslim residents of Europe, but, most especially, in the official organs of the chattering, and highly influential, classes—so much so that the off-hand remarks of my long-ago dinner companion seem almost reasonable.

Facts are such nifty things, so solid, so sure. Yet we as a species don’t seem to cotton to them, especially when it comes to Jews.

In Pakistan, one human rights group estimates that 1,000 women are murdered in honor killings by their families every year. In Nigeria, Islamic militants have killed more than 1,500 people in 2014, according to Amnesty International. And the death toll from the slaughter in Syria—just spitting distance from Israel—adds up to a robust 191,000. But the world—or at least the world as personified by the British law professor with his fondness for exaggeration—doesn’t pay a lot of attention to these Muslim but non-Palestinian corpses. Nope: you’ve got to be a dead person in Gaza or Hebron to claim the world’s sympathy. Merely being an Arab, or a Muslim, doesn’t cut the mustard, because when Muslims are murdering other Muslims—like more than 2,400 Iraqis killed by other Iraqis in June of this year. The civilized world, or at least the chattering classes, does little more than shrug.

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