LCCC ENGLISH DAILY
Bible Quotation For Today/Unity
and Maturity in the Body of Christ
Ephesians 01/01-32: "I As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it. This is why it says: “When he ascended on high, he took many captives and gave gifts to his people. What does “he ascended” mean except that he also descended to the lower, earthly regions? He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work. So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, and they are full of greed. That, however, is not the way of life you learned when you heard about Christ and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body. “In your anger do not sin” Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold. Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need. Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you."
analysis, editorials from miscellaneous sources published on December 01-02/14
Said Aql a legend from the Levant/Walid Phares/December 01/14
Europe retreats from pressing Iran on human rights progress/By BENJAMIN WEINTHAL/J.Post/December 01/14
The Turkish Governor's "Huge Hatred"/Burak Bekdil/The Gatestone Institute/December 01/14
Related News published on December 01-02/14
Belgium Calls for 'Mobilizing Int'l Community' in Support of Lebanon
Salam Says Only Ibrahim in Charge of Negotiations over Arsal Hostages
Lebanese legend Sabah remembered
Nusra Suspends Anew al-Bazzal Execution as Distressed Families Block Roads
Jumblat Questions Proposals to Resume Coordination between Lebanese, Syrian Armies
Hezbollah adamant on backing Aoun
Kataeb: Mustaqbal-Hizbullah Dialogue Will Contribute to Stability
Hujeiri Ends Mediation over Bazzal as Families Return to Escalation
Army erects towers on northern border to repel terrorist attacks
Four Suspected Syrian Terrorists Arrested in Beirut
Sigrid Kaag Named U.N. Coordinator for Lebanon
Rifi Lays Blame on Political and Judicial Authorities for Roumieh Trial Delays
Abou Faour Requests Temporary Closure of Tanmiah Chicken, Hands Judiciary Report on Center Taanayel
Husband Employing Underage Wife Arrested with Prostitution Ring in Tabarja
Report: Military Delegation in Moscow for Talks on Arms Sale
Reports: Intense Consultations as Hizbullah-Mustaqbal Dialogue Set for Mid-December
Miscellaneous Reports And News published on December 01-02/14
Could Qatar, Turkey be in jeopardy if PA brings Israelis before the ICC?
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ISIS kidnaps Canadian-Israeli, former IDF soldier, Gill Rosenberg who went to fight with the Kurds
Europe retreats from pressing Iran on human rights progress
Coalition Strikes Hit IS Garrison, 'Electronic Warfare' Unit
Sisi regime shows confidence as ‘deep state’ returns to Egypt's political landscape
Mubarak awaiting January appeal against embezzlement conviction: lawyer
Canada ‘aware’ of reports that citizen kidnapped in Syria
US close to deal with Turkey over ISIS mission: WSJ
U.S. Pilot Killed in 'Non-Combat' Crash in Mideast
Erdogan eyes tighter Turkey, Russia alliance
I cleaned toilets for ISIS in Iraq,’ ex-fighter reveals
Palestinian Woman Stabs Israeli, Shot by Army
Top Israeli Court to Rule on Punitive Demolitions
Suicide Attack at Afghan Funeral Kills Nine
Iraq says it found 50,000 “ghost soldiers” on payroll
Bahrain’s King tasks PM with forming new government
Divisions within Yemen’s Al-Hirak delay announcement of Southern independence: sources
Jihad Watch Site Posts For Monday
Jihadists plotted to blow up 5 passenger planes in Christmas “spectacular”
Egypt: Islamic jihadists burn down four shops owned by Christians
New Zealand Muslim forms his own Islamic State
Iraqi corruption probe finds 50,000 fictional soldiers
Pope says it is wrong to equate Islam with violence
India: Muslim slaps actress for wearing skimpy outfits “despite being a Muslim”
UK: Muslim who threatened to kill wife and children can’t be deported
On Facebook, Muslim cleric preaches killing of women and children
Nigeria: Islamic jihadists raid Christian town, throw bombs into houses
UK jihadi: “O by the way Islamic State does have a Dirty bomb”
Minnesota imam refuses to denounce the Islamic State
Hujeiri Ends Mediation over Bazzal as Families Return to Escalation
Naharnet/Sheikh Mustafa al-Hujeiri has again distanced himself from the mediation with al-Nusra Front over the fate of captive soldier Ali al-Bazzal, who faces the threat of execution, which prompted the families of the abducted troops and policemen to resume their protests. “Rana al-Fleiti has been informed by Mustafa al-Hujeiri that he will no longer mediate over the fate of her husband, Ali al-Bazzal,” OTV reported on Monday afternoon. The news prompted the servicemen's relatives to burn tires outside the government's headquarters in downtown Beirut, after authorities “failed to reassure them that the threat to murder Ali al-Bazzal has been retracted,” state-run National News Agency said. Hujeiri -- whom the judiciary has charged with “belonging to the terrorist al-Nusra Front” -- is acting as an intermediary between Health Minister Wael Abou Faour and the Qaida-linked group, although the government has not officially authorized his mediation. Several members of the Internal Security Forces were in the cleric's custody during the deadly Arsal clashes in early August, before they were abducted by al-Nusra to the outskirts of the northeastern border town. At the moment, al-Nusra and the extremist Islamic State group are holding around 27 troops and policemen. In a related development, Hussein Youssef, a spokesman for the families, dismissed in remarks to the Central News Agency reports claiming that General Security chief Maj. Gen. Abbas Ibrahim had suspended his mediation in the case. “He is still very active and he has been commissioned by Prime Minister Tammam Salam, as he has announced,” Youssef said. Asked about Salam's remarks that the Qatari mediator has been acting in a sluggish manner, the spokesman said the families “have sensed the Qatari mediator's slowness for a while now.” “But I don't think that the Qatari mediation will stop. More speed is needed but we can't deny the presence of a positive Qatari role in the case of our sons,” Youssef added. Al-Nusra has sent its list of proposals to the government through Qatar's Syrian mediator Ahmed al-Khatib, while the Islamic State is reportedly demanding the release of five inmates from Lebanon's prisons in return for each serviceman in its custody. However, OTV quoted officials following up on the case of the hostages as saying that “the Qatari mediator has not arrived in Lebanon and nothing indicates that he will return soon.”
Questions Proposals to Resume Coordination between Lebanese, Syrian Armies
Naharnet/Progressive Socialist Party leader MP Walid Jumblat criticized on Monday proposals to resume coordination between the Lebanese and Syrian armies. He said in his weekly editorial in the PSP-affiliated al-Anbaa website: “What would such a suggestion achieve? Why should Lebanon help bolster the Syrian regime and its army after their credibility had reached their lowest points?” He labeled the proposal as a “joke”, while questioning what motivated it and what purpose it would accomplish. In early November, Syrian President Bashar Assad had stated that coordination between the Lebanese and Syrian armies would ease the security burdens on both countries and bolster Lebanon's stability.
Head of the Lebanese Democratic Party, MP Talal Arslan, had on Saturday said that refusing this coordination would jeopardize Lebanon's security. Commenting on the case of policemen and soldiers kidnapped from the northeastern border town of Arsal in August, Jumblat wondered at the accusations against him over his stance on the issue. “It is strange how some sides are attempting to portray us as seeking to achieve sectarian gains,” he added, while noting that the captives belong to different sects. Why are some sides attempting to tarnish a national issue with sectarianism? he asked. “It is also odd how some ministerial sides were annoyed with the PSP's role in the Arsal captives' case. It is as if we should not provide assistance in resolving this matter, which is tantamount to a national tragedy,” remarked the lawmaker. He therefore stressed that the ministerial committee tasked with tackling the case should unify its stances and put an end to voices of the doubters. “We should not halt negotiations, but unify them in order to reach our goal of liberating the servicemen,” Jumblat stated. The soldiers and policemen were abducted by Islamists from Syria in the wake of clashes in Arsal in August. A number of them have since been released, three were executed, while the rest are still being held by the gunmen. The families of the servicemen have repeatedly accused the government of failing to exert enough efforts to release them. Jumblat surprised on Sunday his followers on twitter by announcing that he is ready to personally negotiate in the kidnapped servicemen's case. Jumblat tweeted on his official twitter account: “Stop the nerve war on the families of the kidnapped servicemen.”"I would personally go to Arsal and negotiate,” he added.
Suspends Anew al-Bazzal Execution as Distressed Families Block Roads
Naharnet/The Qaida-linked al-Nusra Front on Monday retracted a new threat to execute captive Lebanese soldier Ali al-Bazzal, as the distressed families of the hostage servicemen took to the streets and blocked several roads.
The developments came after Sheikh Mustafa al-Hujeiri, a mediator from the Bekaa border town of Arsal, announced that he was suspending his talks with al-Nusra over Bazzal's fate.
“The government has informed al-Nusra Front of its rejection of a swap deal and the group has decided to murder al-Bazzal tonight,” MTV quoted a Syrian source in Syria's Qalamun as saying.
But Sky News Arabia television said al-Nusra “announced postponing the execution of two Lebanese troops, following contacts with the (Lebanese) government.”As al-Nusra launched its threat, youths from al-Bazzal's family issued a statement warning that “any elderly person, woman or man who hail from Arsal and any Syrian national will not be safe from our revenge if Ali al-Bazzal suffers any harm.”
“Our son is not for bargaining or for settling scores by any party and Mustafa al-Hujeiri is to blame for anything that might happen,” the statement added.
Residents of the Bekaa town of al-Bazzaliyeh also took to the streets and blocked the road leading to neighboring al-Labweh with their vehicles.
The families of the captive troops and policemen meanwhile blocked the vital Saifi road in downtown Beirut and the al-Qalamoun highway in the North.
“I told al-Bazzal's wife that I did everything in my capacity and that the government has not responded to al-Nusra's demands, which puts the lives of the servicemen in danger,” Hujeiri told LBCI earlier in the day.
Hujeiri -- whom the judiciary has charged with “belonging to the terrorist al-Nusra Front” -- has been acting as an intermediary between Health Minister Wael Abou Faour and the Qaida-linked group, although the government has not officially authorized his mediation.
Several members of the Internal Security Forces were in the cleric's custody during the deadly Arsal clashes in early August, before they were abducted by al-Nusra to the outskirts of the northeastern border town.
At the moment, al-Nusra and the extremist Islamic State group are holding around 27 troops and policemen. They have executed three troops since August 2. In a related development, Hussein Youssef, a spokesman for the families, dismissed in remarks to the Central News Agency reports claiming that General Security chief Maj. Gen. Abbas Ibrahim had suspended his mediation in the case. “He is still very active and he has been commissioned by Prime Minister Tammam Salam, as he has announced,” Youssef said.
Asked about Salam's remarks that the Qatari mediator has been acting in a sluggish manner, the spokesman said the families “have sensed the Qatari mediator's slowness for a while now.”“But I don't think that the Qatari mediation will stop. More speed is needed but we can't deny the presence of a positive Qatari role in the case of our sons,” Youssef added. Al-Nusra has sent its list of proposals to the government through Qatar's Syrian mediator Ahmed al-Khatib, while the Islamic State is reportedly demanding the release of five inmates from Lebanon's prisons in return for each serviceman in its custody. However, OTV quoted officials following up on the case of the hostages as saying that “the Qatari mediator has not arrived in Lebanon and nothing indicates that he will return soon.”
Questions Proposals to Resume Coordination between Lebanese, Syrian Armies
Naharnet /Progressive Socialist Party leader MP Walid Jumblat criticized on Monday proposals to resume coordination between the Lebanese and Syrian armies. He said in his weekly editorial in the PSP-affiliated al-Anbaa website: “What would such a suggestion achieve? Why should Lebanon help bolster the Syrian regime and its army after their credibility had reached their lowest points?” He labeled the proposal as a “joke”, while questioning what motivated it and what purpose it would accomplish.
In early November, Syrian President Bashar Assad had stated that coordination between the Lebanese and Syrian armies would ease the security burdens on both countries and bolster Lebanon's stability. Head of the Lebanese Democratic Party, MP Talal Arslan, had on Saturday said that refusing this coordination would jeopardize Lebanon's security. Commenting on the case of policemen and soldiers kidnapped from the northeastern border town of Arsal in August, Jumblat wondered at the accusations against him over his stance on the issue. “It is strange how some sides are attempting to portray us as seeking to achieve sectarian gains,” he added, while noting that the captives belong to different sects. Why are some sides attempting to tarnish a national issue with sectarianism? he asked. “It is also odd how some ministerial sides were annoyed with the PSP's role in the Arsal captives' case. It is as if we should not provide assistance in resolving this matter, which is tantamount to a national tragedy,” remarked the lawmaker. He therefore stressed that the ministerial committee tasked with tackling the case should unify its stances and put an end to voices of the doubters. “We should not halt negotiations, but unify them in order to reach our goal of liberating the servicemen,” Jumblat stated. The soldiers and policemen were abducted by Islamists from Syria in the wake of clashes in Arsal in August. A number of them have since been released, three were executed, while the rest are still being held by the gunmen. The families of the servicemen have repeatedly accused the government of failing to exert enough efforts to release them. Jumblat surprised on Sunday his followers on twitter by announcing that he is ready to personally negotiate in the kidnapped servicemen's case. Jumblat tweeted on his official twitter account: “Stop the nerve war on the families of the kidnapped servicemen.”"I would personally go to Arsal and negotiate,” he added.
Suspected Syrian Terrorists Arrested in Beirut
Naharnet/The Lebanese army arrested on Monday four Syrians during a raid in a Beirut neighborhood on suspicion of belonging to a terrorist organization. The military said in a communique that the arrest was made in the area of Tariq al-Jedideh. The Syrians are suspected of belonging to a terrorist group and of entering the country without proper identification papers, it said. The army also arrested six Lebanese and one Australian suspect in Koura, said the communique, without giving further details.
The detainees were referred to the concerned authorities, it added. Also Monday, state security in Rashaya arrested four Syrians for trying to infiltrate Syrian territories from an area near the Lebanese town of Ain Ata, the state-run National News Agency said. The agency found photos of al-Nusra Front and Islamic State group members on their mobile phones, NNA added.
Mustaqbal-Hizbullah Dialogue Will Contribute to Stability
Naharnet/The Kataeb Party voiced on Monday its support for dialogue among the rival political parties, hoping that it will pave the way to the election of a president in Lebanon. It said in a statement after its weekly politburo meeting: “Direct dialogue between the Mustaqbal Movement and Hizbullah will contribute to stability given the recent painful developments, especially in the North.”Talks between the two sides will lead to national dialogue that the Kataeb Party had previously called for, continued the statement.
Addressing the Constitutional Council's rejection of the appeal against the extension of parliament's term, the party said that the decision “was not up to the Kataeb's expectations.”“The party is keen on democracy and stresses the need for the election of a parliament that will complete its national duties of electing a president,” it remarked. The new parliament should also approve a new electoral law and issue a decree that shortens its term after it was extended to 2017. The parliament extended its term in November until June 2017 despite the boycott of the Free Patriotic Movement and Kataeb MPs. Two others voted against the law but 95 lawmakers extended their own terms for the second time, giving them a full eight years in power— double their allowed mandate. The FPM had submitted an appeal against the extension, but it was rejected by the Constitutional Council last week. It said that the rejection was aimed at avoiding prolonging vacuum at constitutional institutions.
Kaag Named U.N. Coordinator for Lebanon
Naharnet/The head of the U.N. mission to rid Syria of chemical weapons, Sigrid Kaag, is taking up a new post as U.N. special coordinator for Lebanon, a spokesman said Monday. Kaag will succeed British diplomat Derek Plumbly who served in the post since 2012. For the past year, Kaag has led a U.N. effort to scrap Syria's chemical stockpiles under a deal reached between Russia and the United States. Work on destroying Syria's last remaining chemical weapons production facilities should be completed by mid-2015, Kaag told the Security Council last month. The 53-year-old Dutch diplomat will head up U.N. operations in Lebanon, which is sheltering over one million refugees from the Syrian war. A graduate in Middle Eastern studies, Kaag has served as assistant secretary general at the U.N. Development Program and as UNICEF's Middle East director in Jordan. "She brings with her a wealth of experience in political, humanitarian and development affairs alongside her diplomatic service, including in the Middle East," said U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric.
Agence France Presse
Belgium Calls for 'Mobilizing Int'l Community' in Support of Lebanon
Naharnet /Belgium called Monday for “mobilizing the international community” in solidarity with Lebanon, saying the country “is going through a critical situation” due to the crisis in neighboring Syria. “I expressed Belgium's strong determination to support Lebanon, especially at the international organizations, as Lebanon is going through a critical situation due to the Syrian crisis and it is hosting a large number of refugees,” Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel said after talks with Premier Tammam Salam in Brussels. “What's needed is to mobilize the international community to show solidarity with Lebanon and support it in order to resolve this issue,” Michel added. He noted that his discussions with Salam tackled the security concerns, adding that “everyone must work to combat extremism and seek peace and security, which must be the goal of all political forces.”Salam for his part said he agreed with his Belgian counterpart on “exploring means to improve bilateral relations between our two countries in all fields.”The premier also highlighted the burden of the Syrian refugee crisis on Lebanon, noting that there are around 1.5 million displaced Syrians in the country. The issue “poses security, economic, political and social challenges, in addition to the threat of terrorism, which the Lebanese army is confronting on a daily basis,” Salam added. “This necessitates support for this national institution and for the rest of the security agencies which are bravely fighting the scourge of terrorism,” the PM said.
Faour Requests Temporary Closure of Tanmiah Chicken, Hands Judiciary Report on
Naharnet/Health Minister Wael Abou Faour requested on Monday the temporary closure of Tanmiah Chicken factory for failing to meet health and hygiene standards. He sent a memo to Interior Minister Nouhad al-Mashnouq requesting its closure for two weeks until it meets the necessary standards. He had said in a report that the Tanmiah Chicken's Bekaa factory did not meet health and hygiene standards. Health inspectors who had checked the facility had issued an oral warning to its administration, ordering it to improve conditions at the factory. The administration had however failed to heed the warning. Tanmiah Chicken was among a list of establishments revealed by Abou Faour as failing to meet health and hygiene requirements. A number of establishments included in his food safety campaign have since been shut down permanently or until they meet the required standards. Also on Monday, Abou Faour sent a report to General Prosecutor Judge Samir Hammoud on the inspection of Center Taanayel dairy factory in the Bekaa. The inspection found expired dairy products and spoiled yeast, as well as a number of health violations. Health inspectors had raided the factory on Saturday. They found five fridges, one was empty, three contained expired and spoiled food, and fifth, a modern refrigerator, contained bugs.
Said Aql a legend from the Levant
This morning I woke up to learn that Said Aql, a poet, philosopher and erudite passed away at the age of 102 in Lebanon. To many in the old country, he was a "giant," and to many more he was called "al Muallem," the teacher. His passing brought me back decades in time to Beirut, my city of birth to remember Said Aql, whose intellectual legacy cannot be separated from modern Lebanon. No one from all those contemporaries to Aql was alive the day he left this world. He was an author already in the 1930s. His poetry was like an endless river, flowing, growing and spreading. He was part of a Lebanese and Arab generation of poets, writers and philosophers whom we studied as of middle school, yet he survived for many years while other departed. He was this unreachable giant, as we grew up in Beirut and memorized his poems. He was to us, in Arabic literature classes, the equivalent of Moliere, Racine and Victor Hugo, whom we studied in French literature classes. I never thought I'd actually meet him one day; he was half a century older than me.
But on a winter evening of 1972 my older brother Sami, a law student then and a philosopher on his own asked me if I'd like to meet "the Said Aql." I was thrilled to meet a poet "from my literature's book. The apartment where the gathering took place was filled with friends and supporters, mostly from the Lebanese University. Said Aql wasn't just a man of literature, he was also a nationalist, in fact one of the founders of the Lebanese Nationalist idea. I discovered the man under a different light. He was speaking of "mother Phoenicia" like I have never heard before. The way he described it was Hollywoodian but many of the facts he spoke about, I rediscovered over the years, including decades later in my adopted homeland, America. My father attorney Halim Phares who knew "al Muallem" since law school at Saint Joseph in the late 1930s, had told me since my childhood about this generation of "founding fathers" of the idea of a historic Lebanon, preceding all empires, including Fuad Afram Bustani, Yousef al Sawda, and Paul Noujaim. Everything I heard from my father about Aql got multiplied when I heard the man. He was surreal, his voice was crossing centuries. As if he was a witness from thousands of years ago. "Everything was invented by the Phoenicians, they discovered every land under the sun," he kept telling us. Since that soiree Said Aql became real to me, despite his wide and rich imagination.
During the years preceding the war of 1975 he launched and mentored a small political party by the name of "al Talai al Tabaduiya" (the Vanguards of Amazement, or so). He still promoted "Lebanese Nationalism" but took it to the universal level. Lebanon became a global necessity, a teacher from Antiquity and a founder of Universal Civilization. Compared to the actual size of the country and its military weakness, Aql's titanic ideas leaped beyond and above any political narrative in Lebanon. Said Aql was speaking as if his country was Germany, Russia or China, yet made many Lebanese dreaming. The one aspect where he excelled was to uncover the individual achievements of Lebanese emigres around the world. His vision of the "Lebanese world" was about millions of men and women who left the homeland because of poverty or persecution, yet became producers of culture, technologies and public service, around the world. The difference between Aql's painting of the Lebanese people as individuals, and the narrow labyrinths of Lebanon's politicians was stark. In fact -as for Lebanese-American writer Khalil Gebran- Aql believed that Lebanon was blessed with its nature and its people and cursed with its political leaders.
During the war, we had the opportunity to visit the poet during the famous literary Tuesdays in Ashrafieh, in Beirut, hosted by another woman of literature, May Murr. Along with the traditional delicious Tabbouli, we were served an exchange of poetry and exquisite prose. The bad news coming from the city would stop at the doorsteps of the Murr's residence. Inside, it was intellectually warm, hopeful but slightly imaginary. Aql was invited to serve in the first political coalition resisting the PLO and the pro-Syrian forces, called the "Freedom and Man Front," a predecessor to the "Lebanese Front."
In 1982 Said Aql surprised most -not all- Lebanese when he declared his support to the Israeli campaign against the PLO and the Syrian army. His complaint was that it was Israelis, not Lebanese, who were pushing the "occupiers" out. Years later his statements were heavily criticized by many political factions, but his literary legacy wasn't impacted by this attitude. Aql's political position were at the extreme of the traditional spectrum of Lebanese politics, but somehow expressed the feelings of the silent majority. He claimed Lebanon, as a nation, was not Arab, but Phoenician. He accused the PLO and Syria of being the real occupiers and Israel a liberator. He made no distinction between Christians and Muslims and produced a special alphabet for the Lebanese language, which has ironically become a precursor to the internet written Lebanese language.
When I left Lebanon in 1990 I was wondering how will Said Aql "survive" the new environment which had no tolerance for these ideas, even as simple ideas. One of his companions in the Lebanese Nationalist movement, Kamal Yousef el Hajj, had been savagely killed by pro-PLO elements early during the war. Another intellectual companion of the "Lebanonism" ideal, Shia liberal author Mustafa Geha, was executed by Hezbollah in the early 1990s.
How did Said Aql manage to live 25 years in what became a "Baathist-Khomeinist occupied Phoenicia" without oppression is a mystery. One observer of the country's modern evolution noted to me that Aql after 1990 didn't produce writings about his once strong stances on identity. "He retreated to literature, because his political visions were more about a fantasy without legs than a real effort to resurrect Phoenicia," underlined the observer, still living in Beirut. The observer stopped short of calling the literary genius a pragmatist. Indeed, Said Aql didn't go to jail as Vaclav Havel did or to exile as Alexander Solzhenitsyn. As with some other Lebanese public figures, he lived through several stages, eras of struggles and eras of accommodations. A trait of Phoenician character, innovation with pragmatism.
Said Aql remains an icon in the world of Lebanese and Arab literature. His writings have given justice to Phoenician history, life to modern Lebanese nationalism, and provoked the imagination of many Lebanese on their future. Few years ago I had the privilege to serve as a Doctoral dissertation chair for a brilliant young Lebanese American scholar who studied Said Aql thought at a prominent Boston university. Professor Frank Salameh, now teaching at Boston College captured the "Aqlian" chapter of Lebanon's history. It is now upon a new generation of scholars, like Salameh and others, to resume the journey of men and women like Said Aql. The world has globalized and geography is not an issue anymore. Producing for an idea is not hinging on where you live and under which regime. Thanks to the world wide web one can reform and change the conditions in their birthplace from half the planet away. The issue is to maintain the ideas clear from revisionism. What Aql has called for cannot be changed by speeches to be delivered at his eulogy or re-branded by the dominant political forces. Said Aql was a genius and he has expressed what the essence of Lebanon was and what most Lebanese wanted to see in their future. His legacy won't die.
Lebanese legend Sabah remembered
Nizar Hassan| The Daily Star/Dec. 01, 2014
BEIRUT: Song and dance shattered Downtown Beirut’s typical Sunday calm as thousands poured onto the streets, tears in their eyes and youthful memories in their hearts, to bid farewell to musical legend Sabah. Fans remembered her not only for her huge contribution to music in the Middle East and the entire world, but hailed her for her humility despite achieving international acclaim.
Downtown Beirut was brimming with citizens, musicians, artists and singers, gathering outside the St. George Cathedral to celebrate the life of a figure whose impact transcended borders.
Sabah’s coffin arrived in a white hearse covered with white flowers, which led a convoy of five black hearses carrying the wreaths that had the names of nearly all of Lebanon’s most known figures. Among the names were those of former Prime Minister Saad Hariri, Speaker Nabih Berri, Free Patriotic Movement leader Michel Aoun, head of the Lebanese Forces Samir Geagea and Army Commander Gen. Jean Kahwagi.
Perhaps the most touching of all farewell notes was written by the another legendary icon of Lebanese art, Fairouz: “Your sun never sets.”
One wreath also carried the name of Prime Minister Tammam Salam. Attending the funeral were many Cabinet ministers and MPs.
“It is just normal that a person who filled the hearts of all the Lebanese with joy and life is remembered by all these people on her final day,” MP Elie Keyrouz, observing the huge line of wreaths and reading each note, told The Daily Star.
“But it’s unfortunate that Lebanon is incomplete at this moment. It’s sad that there is no president to tell her goodbye,” he said.
Born Jeanette Feghali in Bdadoun, a village in Aley, Sabah, who died last week at the age of 87, was the first Arab singer to perform at Olympia in Paris, Carnegie Hall in New York, Piccadilly Theater in London and the Sydney Opera House in Australia.
She starred in 83 films (Lebanese and Egyptian) and 27 Lebanese plays. Sabah’s repertoire included over 3,000 Lebanese and Egyptian songs. She received many awards during her lengthy career, including one from the Dubai International Film Festival and another by former Lebanese President Michel Sleiman at the Beiteddine Art Festival.
Trying to fight back tears with a smile, Alia, a 70-year-old longtime fan of the artist, nicknamed Sabbouha, found it difficult to find words to express her emotions.
“More than anyone in the whole world, Sabah brought happiness to the hearts of every single person who heard her songs,” she said. “I and millions like me would have not enjoyed our youth so much if not for her.”
Dabke dancers jolted with the sound of her music and singers recited parts of her most notable songs for reporters, while the Army brought its orchestra to play her music, setting a remarkable precedent.
Dressed in black from head to toe and wearing shoes with wooden heels, a woman surprised the crowd when she started performing a flamenco dance in harmonious rhythm.
Sabah’s coffin, draped with a Lebanese flag and covered with white flowers, was carried into the hall of the church.
Sabah’s portraits showing her charming smile hung on every corner of the church, from its gates, to the walls of its outdoor hall, to the pins so proudly displayed by her fans.
“She should be remembered every day, in every home, and by everyone who appreciates what she gave us,” Darine Hadchiti, a Lebanese celebrity and singer, told The Daily Star.
For Hadchiti, Lebanon’s modern singers and actresses have a very important lesson to learn from Shahroura, another nickname, meaning singing bird in Arabic.
“It’s all about modesty,” she said. “If Sabah’s character was not so extraordinarily modest, you wouldn’t have seen all these people coming here just to express how much respect they have for her.”
But the mood inside the cathedral where Sabah’s funeral service was held was toned down, with prayers held and a sermon delivered by Maronite Patriarch Beshara Rai.
“Sabah died but her voice will stay alive on the air,” Rai said after the prayers.
“She rests in peace, with one will, that her farewell day be a day of joy, without grief or weeping,” Rai added, addressing Sabah’s relatives, fans and a host of politicians who attended the Mass.
The cathedral was packed with hundreds of admirers, some of whom watched from the high balconies.
Sabah is survived by her son, Sabah Shammas, from her marriage to Najib Shammas, and her daughter Howeida, from her marriage to Egyptian violinist Anwar Mansi.
After the Mass, Sabah’s body was transferred to Bdadoun, passing through the village of Houmal.
Hundreds of residents took to streets to receive the funeral in both villages, carrying the diva’s photos.
In Bdadoun, residents carried the coffin to a church where the last funeral prayers were held before she was laid to rest.
Hezbollah adamant on backing Aoun
Hussein Dakroub/The Daily Star/Dec. 01, 2014
BEIRUT: Hezbollah Sunday stood firm on its support for MP Michel Aoun for the presidency, a stance that is likely to put spikes in the wheel of a much-anticipated dialogue between the Shiite party and its Sunni rival, the Future Movement.
Hezbollah’s unyielding stance on the presidential vote also ran contrary to former Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s call for the election of a consensus candidate as the only solution to end the political deadlock that has left Lebanon without a president for more than six months.
Speaker Nabih Berri, meanwhile, said contacts would be stepped up this week to prepare the agenda for the Future-Hezbollah talks.
Berri, according to visitors, voiced optimism that the planned dialogue between Hezbollah and the Future Movement would be successful, and praised Hariri’s stances on the dialogue and on the entire situation in Lebanon.
“Hariri’s stances will help ensure the success of dialogue in the mission to be assigned to it,” Berri was quoted as saying by visitors.
Hariri said in a TV interview Thursday that he was ready for a serious dialogue with Hezbollah with the aim of defusing Sunni-Shiite tensions.
Political sources said the first round of talks between Hezbollah and the Future Movement would be sponsored by Berri and held in Ain al-Tineh in the first half of this month. Nader Hariri, chief of Hariri’s staff, and Future MP Jamal Jarrah, will represent the Future Movement, while Hussein Khalil, a political aide to Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah and a party lawmaker, probably MP Hassan Fadlallah, will stand for Hezbollah, the sources said.
Earlier Sunday, Fadlallah said Hezbollah supported the presidential candidate who enjoyed the widest popular base, in a clear reference to Aoun, the leader of the Free Patriotic Movement who heads the largest Christian bloc in Parliament.
“Our stance has become clear on the presidential election. It emanates from our vision of the national interest and not only from our loyalty [to Aoun],” Fadlallah said at a memorial ceremony in south Lebanon. “National interest dictates that the president be a person who enjoys real representation in his environment and at the national level and who can win consensus and accord among the Lebanese parties.”
He called on the rival March 8 and March 14 factions “to meet together on this national vision, based on Lebanon’s interest, which dictates that the president be a person who can steer Lebanon out of the crisis.”
“Hezbollah stands firm on its vision toward the presidency issue,” Fadlallah said.
His remarks came as preparations are underway to launch the dialogue between Hezbollah and the Future Movement. They also came three days after Hariri, the head of the Future Movement, said in a TV interview that he was ready to discuss the presidency issue in the dialogue with Hezbollah, while stressing that only the election of a consensus candidate could end the vacuum in the country’s top Christian post.
Responding to Hariri’s call for a consensus candidate, Aoun vowed not to withdraw from the presidency race, insisting in an interview with The Daily Star Friday that he was the most popular Christian candidate.
Meanwhile, Lebanon’s top Sunni and Shiite spiritual leaders voiced support for the dialogue.
“We appreciate the sincere and transparent initiative launched by [former] Prime Minister Saad Hariri, which does not seek political gain, but serves to rescue Lebanon and the Lebanese,” Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdel-Latif Derian said during a luncheon. “We hope everyone will join on the road to dialogue in order to rescue Lebanon.”
Sheikh Abdel Amir Qabalan, deputy head of the Higher Shiite Council, said dialogue is essential to elect a president.
“The Lebanese are bound to meet and consult on the ground that dialogue is a national duty to solve crises and a compulsory way to accomplish national events, at the top of which is the election of a president who can enjoy national unanimity,” he said.
Report: ISIS kidnaps Canadian-Israeli, former IDF soldier, Gill Rosenberg who went to fight with the Kurds
By YOSSI MELMAN \ 11/30/2014.J.Post
Uncertainty abounds concerning the fate of Israeli-Canadian Gill Rosenberg, who was reportedly captured by Islamic State.
Islamist websites – some of them known to be close to, or even serving as a front for, the terrorist organization – reported Sunday that the 31-year-old adventurer was captured during fierce battles with Kurdish fighters in unspecified areas.
According to the websites, Rosenberg was taken hostage following three suicide attacks on sites where Kurdish fighters had barricaded themselves.
The websites gave no further details regarding the circumstances of the capture, nor provided any proof of it.
The Islamic State claims do not make clear whether Rosenberg was captured in Iraq or in Syria. The main battlefield between the Kurds and Islamic State is in the Syrian- Turkish border town of Kobani.
Kurdish sources approached by Israel Radio reporter Eran Cicurel expressed doubt over the Islamic State report. They said Rosenberg was not in Kobani. In the assessment of these Kurdish sources, the reports of Rosenberg’s capture are probably the terrorists’ propaganda.
The Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) told The Jerusalem Post that “there are no further details at this stage.”
Rosenberg wrote on her Facebook page on November 20 that she was handing over management of her account to “someone else” and would be without Internet access for at least two weeks, until December 8, she wrote. It is not clear where she went at this time.
If the websites’ reports are true, Rosenberg would be the first confirmed Western female to fall into Islamic State captivity. Holding Israeli citizenship would complicate her situation even further.
Unlike the US and the UK, which refused to negotiate over their respective captured nationals, thus giving the impression of a laissez-faire interest, Israel invests intense concern into the fate of its citizens captured by terrorists.
This does not mean Israel will negotiate for Rosenberg, if she has indeed been captured – or that Islamic State would agree to talk with Israel, making her nationality Canadian alone.
If Rosenberg is in captivity, she would be the second Israeli – of dual nationality – in this position. Steven Sotloff, a freelance American journalist who also held Israeli citizenship and filed for The Jerusalem Report on the Syrian civil war, was captured by Islamic State last year shortly after crossing the Syrian border and beheaded by the Islamist group this past August.
As well, Rosenberg breached Israeli law by flying to Iraq, an enemy country, which Israeli citizens are forbidden to enter.
No matter what has happened to her since joining the Kurdish forces, upon return to Israel she will be arrested and prosecuted, as was the case of several Israeli Arabs who joined Islamic State and subsequently returned to Israel.
This is not Rosenberg’s first tryst with adventurism – in 2009 she was arrested in an American con scandal and sentenced to four years in jail. This is, however, her first serious willful encounter with death.
Rosenberg was born in Vancouver, and experienced a family crisis after her parents divorced. In an interview with Ma’ariv in 2009, she said that already at the age of 22 she was pursuing a promising career as a pilot of Boeing passenger planes, but decided to leave everything behind and immigrate in 2006. In Israel, she joined the IDF, serving as an instructor for Kenyan soldiers who came to Israel for home front search and rescue training.
Rosenberg said she had ambitions to join the Mossad, but was hurt during her military training and afterwards had money problems.
She met an American friend in an ulpan Hebrew language course who led her into crime, she said.
She joined a group of Israelis who were accused of setting up a ring to cheat elderly Americans and steal their money through a fake lottery scheme. According to the indictments filed against them, they stole hundreds of thousands of dollars, perhaps even millions, from the unknowing pensioners.
After a number of complaints were filed, a joint Israel Police and FBI investigation was launched. The probe led to the arrest of several suspects and their extradition to the US, where they were tried. Rosenberg served four years in jail.
She may have decided to fulfill an act of redemption after getting out of jail and regaining her freedom.
Hopefully the Kurdish sources are right, and Rosenberg is indeed far from executioners.
Canada is trying to confirm reports that Rosenberg has been captured, a foreign ministry spokesman said Sunday.
“Canada is pursuing all appropriate channels” to seek further information and is in touch with local authorities, the spokesman said in a statement.
Reuters contributed to this report.
Could Qatar, Turkey be in jeopardy if PA brings Israelis
before the ICC?
By YONAH JEREMY BOB \ 12/01/2014 /J.Post
In the aftermath of this summer’s Gaza war and a breakdown in peace talks, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is once again threatening to file war crimes complaints with the International Criminal Court against Israeli soldiers and leaders.
The obstacles to the PA joining the ICC, to the ICC taking the case, and the legal counterattack that the PA could face from Israel have been covered for some time.
But there is a new angle that is starting to be discussed, and however unlikely a scenario it may be, it shows another possible backlash impact that the PA’s going after Israelis could have beyond Israel, including on Hamas allies in the region.
The new question is: Could a PA attempt to go after Israel indirectly lead to dragging Qatar and Turkey, which have each supported Hamas in some way, into the mix legally and diplomatically? The base for such a case is that Hamas commits war crimes on Qatar’s dime.
US Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence David Cohen said in March that “Qatar, a longtime US ally, has for many years openly financed Hamas, a group that continues to undermine regional stability. Press reports indicate that the Qatari government is also supporting extremist groups operating in Syria. To say the least, this threatens to aggravate an already volatile situation in a particularly dangerous and unwelcome manner.”
US congressmen have reportedly written to Qatar’s ambassador to the US, complaining of $400 million in support to Hamas.
Could Qatar’s funding of terrorism get it into hot water with the International Criminal Court if sufficient connections can be drawn between Qatar’s funding and Hamas’s rockets fired indiscriminately at Israeli civilians? There are numerous barriers. First, Qatar itself has not joined the ICC’s Rome Statute.
It is also debatable whether financing terrorism would be considered a crime that the ICC would handle.
Though many countries recognize financing terrorism as a crime, the ICC only handles the worst crimes, such as genocide or other kinds of mass violence.
In addition, there would need to be sufficient links between the funding and terror attacks – whereas there appears to be more specific information about Qatari funding in Syria than to Hamas.
To date, no one has seriously considered the ICC going after individuals for the “mere” financing of terrorism, as opposed to actual violent acts or directly providing weapons for violent war crimes.
But the ICC does have jurisdiction over some issues regarding aiding and abetting crimes, which in some countries have included financing terrorism.
So it is at least theoretically possible that an aggressive push by a coalition of Israel supporters and parties wanting to widen the reach of the ICC could lead to going after Qatari individuals, especially those already declared terrorists by the US or others.
And though Qatar has not joined the ICC, one could read into ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda’s recent decision in the Comoros Islands case, in which the island nation requested to investigate Israel for war crimes regarding the raid on the Mavi Marmara in 2010, a wish to expand ICC jurisdiction over an incident into geographic areas beyond where the incident occurred.
In other words, it appeared Bensouda wanted to expand to include geographically distant countries that directly contributed and influenced an incident occurring.
Besides the aiding and abetting terrorism through funding as a possible war crime, Qatar and also Turkey could get caught up in some ugly diplomatic fallout.
If the ICC investigates Hamas, it may demand Khaled Mashaal and his aides in Qatar, or Saleh Aruri and his aides in Turkey – accused of planning to try to bomb Teddy Soccer Stadium and other West Bank-based attacks – be turned over as witnesses or even for arrest.
Turkey is also not a member of the ICC, but it could increase its already tense relations with the West if it was viewed as blocking an ICC investigation into Hamas terrorism.
Many Western countries have criticized Qatar for financing terrorism, and in some cases, like Syria and Libya, of sometimes going beyond providing financing to directly providing weapons.
Despite that criticism, the West continues to compete for Qatari funding; the US’s key base in the Middle East is there, and the West mostly tries to play down tensions with Turkey.
Might Western countries pressure the ICC to stay out of the Israeli-Palestinian mess to avoid dealing with spillover into their relations with Qatar and Turkey? Might Hamas have second thoughts once any process kicks off and its safe havens are on the line, maybe even enough to pull its support as essentially happened in Kenya, when the country decided to pull back from cooperating with the ICC? All of this is highly theoretical, but it again shows that the stakes of the ICC jumping into the Israeli-Palestinian milieu are far from simple.
Sisi regime shows confidence as ‘deep state’ returns to Egypt's political
By ARIEL BEN SOLOMON/12/01/2014/J.Post
The acquittal of former president Hosni Mubarak, his sons, and other close aides demonstrates that Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has settled comfortably in power and marks the return of the deep state.
The term “deep state” refers to a group of powerful nondemocratic leaders who, though they may be concealed under layers of bureaucracy, are actually in control of the country.
To be sure, Sisi has smartly led the important Arab state from the depth of riots, terrorist attacks, economic crisis and outside pressures, but the style and makeup, if not the policies, of the government are reminiscent of Mubarak’s regime.
The fact of the matter is that the Mubarak trial was bound to be based not on a strict reading of the evidence but on the wishes of the regime in power.
Muslim Brotherhood spokeswoman Wafaa Hefni admitted as much, saying that if former Islamist president Mohamed Morsi were in power, the ruling would have been different, the Daily News Egypt reported.
Arab politics is a matter of winner take all, and the court verdicts can be considered as Sisi’s coattails.
In March, Robert Springborg argued in an article for the BBC that the Mubarak era personalities were key to Sisi’s consolidation of power.
“At present, [Sisi] he is relying on the military, other elements of the deep state and Mubarak-era technocrats to manage his campaign, thereby suggesting he hopes to rule as a sort of presidential version of King Abdullah II of Jordan or King Muhammad VI of Morocco, balancing off the various political parties and forces under him while relying on the deep state for the essence of his rule.”
“The Mubarak trial was a classical political trial,” Prof. Yoram Meital, chairman of the Chaim Herzog Center for Middle East Studies and Diplomacy at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, told The Jerusalem Post.
“It was impossible to separate the trial and the political context in Egypt,” he said.
Sisi’s regime is largely a continuation of the governing mechanism introduced by Mubarak, but following his fall, processes of dramatic political change took place, and this trial is not going to be the final word on the 2011 January Revolution, asserted Meital.
Of course, the verdict is a serious blow for the supporters of the revolution, which opposed the return of an authoritarian regime, argued Meital.
“The popular uprising that toppled Mubarak created a new reality in Egypt and planted a new political consciousness among many sectors, particularly the younger generation,” Meital said.
“The court’s decision pours oil on the fire of this struggle,” as Egyptian society “is divided in an unprecedented way and the court’s decision regarding Mubarak intensifies the polarization and could lead to further escalation between the regime and the opposition,” Meital added. Zvi Mazel, who served as Israel’s sixth ambassador to Egypt and today is a fellow at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs and a contributor to the Post, said that it is too simple to say that Egypt has gone back to Mubarak’s regime.
“Sisi is different. He wants to reform Egypt, and he is working on it,” said Mazel, adding, “Mubarak wanted only calm and stability and wasted his tenure.” By contrast, Sisi has promised to maintain basic freedoms through law as he modernizes the country.
That the court was able to acquit Mubarak signals that “Egypt has reached a new phase,” Mazel said, as the revolutionary period was emotionally charged with Egyptians seeking vengeance for the failure and poverty that the former president represented.
After almost four years of violence, said Mazel, Egyptians are tired after having succeeded in ousting the Muslim Brotherhood regime, preventing “a religious dictatorship.”
Now, people want stability and economic development and have faith in Sisi, who is doing a great job so far, asserted Mazel.
Regarding the trial, Mazel said that protesters were not killed during the first days but only after the Muslim Brotherhood intervened and attacked the police and public institutions.
“In 2012 the court gave a verdict under pressure of the revolution; now – according to the evidence,” said Mazel, pointing out: “Everyone knows that Mubarak was not [former Iraqi president] Saddam Hussein or [former Libyan president] Muammar Gaddafi.”
It is true that his police tortured citizens and he did not tackle the social-economic problems of Egypt, but he didn’t just kill people, argued the former Israeli ambassador.
Mazel predicts that the Brotherhood will use his acquittal to say that the Mubarak regime has returned.
“But this is not the situation,” he said.
Analysis: Europe retreats from pressing Iran on human rights progress
By BENJAMIN WEINTHAL \ 12/01/2014/J.Post
Since the world powers reached an interim agreement to slow down Iran’s nuclear weapons program last year, there has been an astonishingly fast-paced change by some European countries and institutions to ignore the Islamic Republic’s wretched human rights record.
Put simply, a topsy-turvy situation is unfolding where an abnormal regime in Tehran is being mainstreamed as normal.
A telling example is an Iran-Italy conference this week in Rome titled “Protection of Human Rights in the Penal-Judicial System of Iran and Italy.”
The head of Iran’s Human Rights Council, Mohammad Javad Larijani, appeared at the event. This is the same Larijani who defended the stoning of women and denied the Holocaust at a 2008 German foreign ministry event.
According to a Sunday report by the Fars News Agency, which is affiliated with Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps, Larijani said at the conference that Iran is “the most powerful and advanced democracy in the region.”
He lamented that “since the victory of the Islamic Revolution, there have been many discussions between Iran and the West on different topics, and unfortunately some of these topics have been misunderstood and misinterpreted due to a lack of information about the rational nature of the Islamic Republic system’s pillars and its mechanisms.”
Consider these statements against the background of Larijani’s call for the destruction of Israel at the 2008 German foreign ministry-sponsored event in Berlin. He said the “Zionist project” should be “canceled” and argued that Israel “has failed miserably and has only caused terrible damage to the region.”
Ever since Larijani’s genocidal rhetoric sparked outrage in some German and Israeli media outlets, he has been persona non grata in the Federal Republic.
Saba Farzan, a German-Iranian journalist and executive director of the Berlin-based think tank Foreign Policy Circle, told The Jerusalem Post on Sunday, “The recent joint Iranian- Italian conference in Rome is yet another shameful example of how much European democracies are throwing Iran’s civil society heavily under the bus. Europe needs to learn a political lesson urgently: human rights in dictatorships don’t improve when you sit down and discuss them with those dictators. On the contrary, as long as any kind of negotiations continue, the Islamic Republic can torture and kill innocent Iranians with impunity.”
She added, “Political sanctions aren’t enough to support Iran’s democracy activists as long as Iran’s leadership doesn’t go financially bankrupt. Therefore, tough economic punishment is needed as well so that Iranians won’t be punished anymore, but reclaim their freedom and country back.”
Shirin Ebadi, an Iranian lawyer in exile and the winner of the 2003 Nobel Peace Prize, told the Saudi news outlet Al Arabiya on Friday that Iran’s human rights situation “has not progressed at all.” She delivered a stinging blow to Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani, who campaigned on a pledge of reformism, declaring: “All ethnicities, all religions, even religious minorities, must feel justice. Long live citizenship rights!” Ebadi, who advocates non-economic sanctions, including travel bans on Iranian human rights violators, said: “The government of Iran always claims that the issue of human rights in Iran is a domestic issue and not an international matter, and [that] it’s not up to other countries to talk about it.”
Yet, she asked, “why is it that Iran interferes in Iraq, in Syria and other countries?” Italy’s northern neighbor Austria sent a delegation to visit a sanctioned Iranian university involved in illicit nuclear weapons work. Peter Moser, vice rector of the Montanuniversitat Leoben, along with Hubert Dürrstein, CEO of the Austrian Agency for International Cooperation in Education and Research, traveled in November to Tehran’s Sharif University of Technology.
Stefan Schaden, a spokesman for the Vienna-based NGO Stop the Bomb, told the Post Iran exploited the visit “for their propaganda.” In short, Iran’s attempts to turn illegal nuclear proliferation activity into a normal part of its social fabric that the West must accept.
Schaden also was one of the few voices in Austria to note that Iran’s university system engages in ubiquitous discrimination against women, and against ethnic and religious minorities such as the struggling Baha’i community.
Erhard Skupa, a spokesman for Montanuniversitat Leoben, told the Post: “Prior to the visit, Montanuniversitat Leoben checked the legal situation and concluded that a meeting with researchers does not break the embargo.”
Skupa’s explanation hardly seems to be the point, according to critics who see a kind of institutionalization of a rogue regime in Tehran by European elites.
To be fair, at one point, Europe took the business of human rights seriously. In 2012, the European Parliament awarded Iranian human rights attorney Nasrin Sotoudeh its Sakharov human rights prize.
The EU’s decision to publicize her case probably helped force Iran to release her early from prison in 2013.
She is now protesting the suspension of her legal practice and wrongful conviction in front of the Iranian Bar Association in Tehran.
Last week, she told Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. “If my sentence is not overturned, I will keep protesting until the end of the three-year ban.”
Iran’s regime had sentenced her to a six-year prison term for allegedly endangering national security, a term of which she served three years.
Iran’s security establishment briefly detained her last week because she protested acid attacks against women in the city of Isfahan.
Some European countries appear to have a short-term memory deficit. European human rights pressure targeting Iran’s regime could breathe change into the backward Islamic Republic. With or without an agreement to end Iran’s nuclear crisis, human rights will continue, absent external pressure, to be trampled.
Benjamin Weinthal reports on European affairs for The Jerusalem Post and is a fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.
IDF's 21st chief of staff Gadi Eisenkot's test
Published: 12.01.14, / Israel Opinion
Analysis: Can the new chief of staff lead a change in the army's operation perception which will make the IDF more aggressive and offensive and more capable of defeating an asymmetric enemy?
Gadi Eisenkot is about to enter the position of the IDF's 21st chief of staff from an almost ideal starting point. In the history of the Israeli army, there have not been many candidates for this role with so much consensus around them.
Even Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who hesitated as he found the current deputy chief of staff to be somewhat "pale," did not insist when he realized that Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon was convinced that Eisenkot was the right man for the job and was determined to present him to the government as his candidate to replace Benny Gantz.
Ya'alon used a summary of the opinions of former senior IDF and defense establishment officials, who he consulted recently, to back his choice. That may have also influenced Netanyahu's decision.
The following picture shows Eisenkot and Ya'alon flying back on a chopper from the memorial service for Israel's first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, in Sde Boker, as the defense minister showed the deputy chief of staff the following text message on his cell phone: "We hereby declare that you have been chosen to be the next chief of staff." Eisenkot responded with a big smile.
In any event, most of the IDF's generals and senior field commanders believe Eisenkot is the right choice at this time and under the current conditions. They all regard his thinking and analysis abilities, his quiet and natural leadership and his personal integrity very highly.
The vast and diverse experience Eisenkot has accumulated in command and staff positions on all levels is as important, and so it his up-to-date and deep familiarity with the army and its missions.
All these will allow him to enter the chief of staff's office after a short changeover period with Gantz, gain harmonic cooperation and industrial peace from the generals, avoid hasty moves which will get Israel in trouble, and maybe even create a change which will make the army more offensive and creative in its methods of action.
There are those who question Eisenkot's ability to make the required change in the IDF's operation doctrine, a change which will allow an unequivocal victory and long-term deterrence in the expected conflicts with Hezbollah, Hamas and maybe even with the Islamic State and Jabhat al-Nusra.
There are politicians in key positions, senior defense establishment officials and ordinary citizens who see Eisenkot as a full partner in the planning and management of two military operations – the Second Lebanon War and Operation Protective Edge – in which the IDF failed to achieve an unequivocal victory.
The Winograd Commission commended his performance as head of the Operations Directorate during the Second Lebanon War. He realized right away that it was a war and suggested (and perhaps even demanded) a wide-scale call-up of reservists and the bombing of civilian and military infrastructures in Lebanon.
Then-Chief of Staff Dan Halutz rejected the offer to call up reserve forces, and when the units were eventually called up after three weeks of war, they entered the fighting unequipped, without proper trained and with unsuitable fighting methods. The infrastructure targets were not bombed because then-Prime Minister Ehud Olmert did not approve it for fear of the US administration's reaction.
Eisenkot was right. He was also right in his criticism after that war regarding additional aspects of the way the fighting was managed on the ground, which he did not approve of.
At the same time, however, we can’t deny the fact that as head of the Operations Directorate he was almost as responsible as the chief of staff and as the other generals for the failures and faults of the "maneuver" (the ground operation) during the war.
There are those who argue that some of those faults were apparent in Operation Protective Edge as well, which was an operation planned and managed by Gantz and Eisenkot, who were a highly influential factor in the cabinet and Defense Ministry.
In Operation Protective Edge, like in the Second Lebanon War (and in Operations Accountability and Grapes of Wrath before it), the IDF preferred to reach the battle's goals by counterfire (from afar) rather than through an aggressive maneuver.
This critics of this method say that in both cases the fire alone did not generate the desired results. The Air Force achieved impressive local results, but was incapable of destroying the tunnels and stopping the rocket fire at Israel's home front. The same applies to the accurate fire from the ground and from the sea. The ground operation was delayed, was cumbersome and was subject to changes and improvisations which extended the fighting unnecessarily.
The main criticism directed at Gantz and Eisenkot's General Staff was that they preferred not to take the risks involved in quick ground moves deep inside the Gaza Strip, beyond the shield set up by Hamas and the Islamic Jihad, basically giving up the ability to reach a victory and long-term deterrence.
The reason for that, according to the critics, was the fear of losses among the fighters, which led to the extension of the fighting and to more casualties. There was a concern that overly aggressive moves on the ground would lead to diplomatic pressure to stop and void hitting uninvolved civilians, so as not to reach the International Criminal Court in The Hague.
Eisenkot himself demonstrated in his fighting career that he is a supporter of the "indirect leverage method" from the Ehud Barak school, which aims to deter the enemy and end the fighting. Such an approach can never lead to a physical defeat, especially not of an irregular military.
Why is all this relevant today? Because in Israel there is no procedure of a public hearing in the parliament for candidates for a senior position in the security-intelligence establishment, like in the United States for example. So anyone trying to assess the next chief of staff's policy and methods of action can reach conclusions only by analyzing his actions and opinion in the past.
The challenges Eisenkot is facing are no secret. They are led by a change in the entire army's operation perception in a way which will make the IDF aggressive and offensive and more capable than before of defeating an asymmetric enemy.
An Air Force with an unusual quality of performance, and an intelligence community which has undergone a positive revolution and better able to serve the fighters than before, cannot deliver the goods alone. What is needed is a "finishing move on the ground", and Eisenkot will have to find or invent it before the third Lebanon war breaks out against Hezbollah and perhaps even against Syria.
Eisenkot is one of the first and leading architects of the "Dahiya doctrine," a military strategy in favor of a significant and painful aerial strike on all of the other side's assets in Lebanon in order to shorten the rocket and missile fire at Israel's home front. The problem is that aerial force alone will not suffice, and Eisenkot will have to add ground activity from the front to the enemy's strategic depth.
The second most important challenge is the two Palestinian arenas, in Judea and Samaria and in Gaza. In the West Bank and in Jerusalem, he will have to find a way to suppress a popular uprising and lone wolf terrorist attacks without igniting an armed intifada, a regional flare-up and a religious war.
In Gaza, the challenge is to maintain deterrence, prevent the terror organizations from growing stronger and allowing the reconstruction of the Strip and its economy in order to bring about a long-term calm.
The third challenge is the budget cuts, by reducing the army while maintaining full competence and preparedness. The inflated headquarters are the fat which still can and should be cut in order to deal with a hostile budgetary environment.
The fourth challenge is developing new and efficient defensive and offensive methods and weapons, in order to deal with the jihadist Islam on the border with minimum losses and damage. ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra are already on the fence or approaching it in the Golan Heights and in Sinai, but we are currently not their top priority.
Thus, this period of time should be used to prepare for a fight against an enemy which has no clear addresses, and whose military assets cannot be destroyed therefore with counterfire without harming innocent people. In addition, it has many fighters with a "death wish" and is therefore hard to deter.
Another challenge is maintaining and developing the "strategic long arm" abilities, in order to neutralize a clear and present danger stemming from Iran's military nuclear project, among other things.
The sixth challenge is to build a professional and diverse General Staff with trust and between its members and open-mindedness. Eisenkot is apparently not the only one with this trait among the current generals. He will be tested for his ability to conduct brainstorming sessions and open disagreements with these professional and strong-minded people and convince them to act in a way he approves of.
It won't be too difficult. Thanks to his friendly cooperation with Gantz in regards to the appointments as well, during the changeover period Eisenkot will find a good team of generals which will be able to work with him in harmony and highly regards him.
Another round of appointments is expected in the near future of generals with combat experience and original thinking which was demonstrated on several occasions: Yair Golan as the deputy chief of staff, Nitzan Alon as head of the Operations Directorate and Noam Tibon as the Central Command chief.
With such a General Staff, and with warm support from the political echelon, the Golani-bred Eisenkot has quite a good chance of meeting expectations: Maintaining the relative advantages Gantz gave the IDF and adding a creative-offensive layer on the ground.
Egypt: Islamic jihadists burn down four shops owned by Christians
NOVEMBER 30, 2014 8:15 PM
BY ROBERT SPENCER
The police said it was a short circuit, but Copts United says “unidentified people” set the shops on fire. There is only one group of “unidentified people” who would have any interest in doing such a thing, and for which police would have sympathy.
“4 shops owned by Copts are burned in Mallawy,” by Nader Shoukry, Copts United, December 1, 2014 (thanks to Maged):
Unidentified people have set four shops owned by Copts in Mallawy, Minya governorate, on fire. Firefighters were hardly able to extinguish the fire. Later, police announced the fire was caused by electric short circuit.
Tight security measures were taken by police in Egypt to deal with demonstrations by the Islamists on November 28.
Jihadists plotted to blow up 5 passenger planes in Christmas “spectacular”
NOVEMBER 30, 2014
BY ROBERT SPENCER 20 COMMENTS
The threat has been taken so seriously it came close to leading to an outright ban on all hand luggage….Mobile phones and electronic devices could still be banned from plane cabins, with the threat of a 9/11-style coordinated attack on London and other major cities feared imminent.” Airport security is always a step behind the jihadis. By the time these draconian steps have been implemented, the jihadis will have moved on to other techniques.
“EXCLUSIVE: Al Qaeda plot to blow up 5 passenger planes in Christmas ‘spectacular,'” by Donal MacIntyre, Express, November 30, 2014:
The threat has been taken so seriously it came close to leading to an outright ban on all hand luggage, a senior insider has revealed.
Mobile phones and electronic devices could still be banned from plane cabins, with the threat of a 9/11-style coordinated attack on London and other major cities feared imminent.
The warning comes as Whitehall officials admit that a terror strike on the UK is now “almost inevitable” particularly with British jihadis returning from fighting alongside the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.
An airport security source told the Sunday Express: “We’ve been told that five planes are being targeted in a high profile hit before Christmas. They’ve been waiting for the big one.
“We have many scares but this one nearly got hand baggage pulled from all airlines. The threat is still alive and real.”
The plot, which has been known about for the past two months, is thought to involve Islamists smuggling bombs on to planes bound for major European destinations before Christmas….
A spokeswoman for the Department for Transport, which looks after air security, said she could not comment on the specific allegations.
But she added: “We keep airport security under constant review.”…
On Facebook, Muslim cleric Omar Bakri Muhammad preaches killing of women and children
NOVEMBER 30, 2014 4:08 PM
BY ROBERT SPENCER
Omar Bakri Muhammad.“In a section titled ‘killing women and children’ he said this was usually not permissible, but stated: ‘Having said this, one must distinguish between killing women and children and the Mujahideen fighting the Kuffar [non-believers] enemies wherever they find them, whether that be in a school or hospital or elsewhere.’ He also gave religious authority to the killing of Muslims. He said in a video on Facebook: ‘Anybody who allies with a taghoot regime [non-Muslims] whether Sunni or Shi’i has no sanctity and his blood is permissible.’ In another posting, he declared that Jews and Christians were ‘enemies’, adding: ‘That animosity is exposed, clear, explicit, there is no doubt about it.'”
It would be refreshing if one of the Muslim spokesmen in the West who have written articles recently explaining that the Islamic State was not Islamic because its jihadis killed women and children would take up Bakri’s argument and explaining why it is wrong on Islamic grounds. But this probably will not happen.
“Hate cleric Omar Bakri Muhammad preaches killing of women and children on Facebook,” by Robert Mendick and Robert Verkaik, the Telegraph, November 29, 2014:
The extremist who radicalised Lee Rigby’s murderers has been preaching the killing of women and children on Facebook, The Telegraph can disclose, prompting fresh questions over the social media site’s ability to police itself.
Omar Bakri Muhammad, who is banned from Britain for his views and is facing terrorism charges in Lebanon, has been openly using Facebook to disseminate his teachings, including outright support for jihadists killing opponents of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil).
His Facebook page, which even listed his home telephone number, set out a series of religious justifications for violent jihad.
Bakri, 56, has been blamed for radicalising a number of British jihadists. They include Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebolawe, who murdered Fusilier Rigby outside army barracks in Woolwich in south east London. Other Britons who have come under his influence are known to be fighting with Isil.
Facebook was criticised, although not named, by senior MPs for failing to report in time a “Let’s kill a soldier” message sent by Adebolawe on his Facebook page to an extremist in Yemen. The Intelligence and Security Committee said if this message had been passed on MI5 in time it may have helped to prevent the murder.
Bakri’s Facebook page has been publicly available to view for more than a year. On Saturday night, after being notified of its existence by The Telegraph, Facebook deleted it.
Under the title “Students of Sheikh Omar Bakri Muhammad” the page contained links to his personal website.
On Facebook, Bakri justified the killing of all opponents of the jihadists fighting in Syria and Iraq.
He said that the “Mujahideen” must kill anyone who does not believe in extreme Islam “wherever they find them”. He even justified the killing of women and children if they were sheltering in schools or hospitals.
In a section titled “killing women and children” he said this was usually not permissible, but stated: “Having said this, one must distinguish between killing women and children and the Mujahideen fighting the Kuffar [non-believers] enemies wherever they find them, whether that be in a school or hospital or elsewhere.”
He also gave religious authority to the killing of Muslims. He said in a video on Facebook: “Anybody who allies with a taghoot regime [non-Muslims] whether Sunni or Shi’i has no sanctity and his blood is permissible.” In another posting, he declared that Jews and Christians were “enemies”, adding: “That animosity is exposed, clear, explicit, there is no doubt about it.”
The Telegraph previously disclosed how the preacher had called for the beheading of a British soldier. The plot, in which Bakri was not charged, led to the arrest of nine suspects who were allegedly planning to kidnap, torture, and behead a British Muslim soldier, all of which would be videotaped and later broadcast on the internet.
A few weeks after the plot was uncovered, The Telegraph reported secret recordings of Bakri in which he said: “When you meet [infidels], slice their own necks. And when you make the blood spill all over, and the enemy becomes so tired, now start to take from them prisoners. Then free them or exchange them until the war is finished.”…
The Turkish Governor's "Huge Hatred"
Burak Bekdil/The Gatestone Institute
December 01, 2014
The "Great Synagogue" of Edirne has been under restoration since 2010.
At the beginning of the 20th century, Edirne, a Turkish province in Thrace, hosted a prominent community of some 20,000 Jews – a larger community than the entire Jewish population of about 17,000 in Turkey today. Most of the Jews of Edirne were forced to leave the city after the pogroms of 1934. In 2000, the Jewish population in Edirne had dropped to 2 (no typo: two) people.
Earlier, in the Ottoman Turkey of 1907, Sultan Abdulhamid had ordered the construction of what would become one of the world's two biggest synagogues (and Europe's biggest), known in Turkish as "Buyuk Sinagog," or the "Great Synagogue", in Edirne. As the Jews left the town, the Great Synagogue turned into a sorrowful wreck.
In late 2000s, the Jewish community in Turkey applied to the governor's office in Edirne to have sermons and wedding ceremonies at the synagogue. Luckily, in 2010, the Great Synagogue was declared a historical site and brought under a $1.7 million restoration program to reopen for prayers and visits – not that the Turks thought the building would serve the (literally) couple of Jews left in town, but that they thought it could lure tourists (and money). The restoration work is almost complete.
Last week, most Turks learned for the first time that there even was a synagogue in Edirne when the governor of the city threatened to forbid post-restoration prayers at the Great Synagogue and instead turn it into a museum.
Governor Dursun Sahin said he would not allow prayers at the synagogue because Israeli security forces had attacked the al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem -- although Israeli police denied walking into the house of worship.
Sahin said: "While those bandits (Israeli security forces) blow winds of war inside al-Aqsa and slay Muslims, we build their synagogues. I say this with a huge hatred inside me. We clean their (Jewish) graveyards, send their projects to boards. But the synagogue here will be registered only as a museum, and there will be no exhibitions inside it."
No investigation has been launched for his hate speech, which literally contained the words "huge hatred." On the contrary, he must have won the hearts and minds of many important Turks in Ankara.
At least the vengeful governor was honest. He said what he said admittedly "with a huge hatred" inside him. Not a hatred of what he perceives "as the Israeli government's actions against poor Palestinians," but what he evidently perceives as anything Jewish. As this author reminded readers here last week: "For most of Turkey's Islamists, there is no difference between the words 'Israel,' the 'Israeli government,' 'Jew' or a 'Turkish Jew:' They are all the same and are all regarded with hostility."
Once again, the Turkish government silently nodded to the governor. Despite calls for his resignation, he remains in office. No investigation has been launched for his hate speech, which literally contained the words "huge hatred." On the contrary, he must have won the hearts and minds of many important Turks in Ankara.
But once again, a few brave Turkish men stood up and the governor had to retreat. "I was misunderstood," the governor later said, apologetically.
An opposition lawmaker had called for the governor's resignation for his remarks and demanded, in case the governor did not resign, that he be sacked by the government. "If Sahin does not resign to save the dignity of his post and Turkey's honor, he should be removed from his post immediately," Republican People's Party lawmaker Aykan Erdemir said in a written statement. "It is shameful for a public official to make such remarks. Hate-speech and anti-Semitism have seized the state. The hate speech often exhibited by the ruling politicians encourages public officials to follow suit."
Erdemir was right. Only recently, a school teacher was caught having hung a signpost at the gate of the Neve Salom synagogue in Istanbul that read: "Building to be destroyed." The man was not prosecuted.
Erdemir has suggested that a parliamentary commission should be formed to investigate "the rising anti-Semitism in Turkey." It is unlikely that the Islamist-majority parliament will agree with him.
Erdemir was not the only one to defend the Great Synagogue. On Nov. 22, a group of activists who call themselves the "Young Civilians," a bunch of liberals, rushed to the Great Synagogue to protest against the governor. They issued a press release demanding, like Erdemir, the governor's resignation.
The governor will not resign but will have to endure the embarrassment of what the Young Civilians, in a powerful line, recommended him to do: "This governor," they said, "has a lot to learn from Sultan Abdulhamid... He has a lot to learn from the young [Turkish] gendarmerie corporal who lost his life while protecting the Jews in Edirne from the looters during the 1934 pogroms." They also placed at the gate of the Great Synagogue placards that read, "They [Jews] are our people," "This synagogue was here when [the state of] Israel did not exist," and "This is Turkey's synagogue, not Israel's."
The few brave men of Turkey did it, and the government had to step back. Adnan Ertem, the director general of the General Directorate of Foundations, the government department in charge of the synagogue, said that: "Our intention is to keep that building as a house of worship to serve all visitors."
The synagogue, for the time being, is saved. The governor has probably scored good points to get a future promotion for the "huge hatred inside him." The opposition member of parliament, Erdemir, has probably added to his career of being a "Zionist" politician. The Young Civilians may soon have to go through a meticulous auditing of their books by government tax inspectors. And once again, hate speech in Turkey will not be prosecuted because it targets people who are not Sunni Muslim Turks.
**Burak Bekdil, based in Ankara, is a columnist for the Turkish daily Hürriyet and a fellow at the Middle East Forum.
Palestinian Woman Stabs Israeli, Shot
Naharnet /A Palestinian woman stabbed an Israeli civilian in a Jewish settlement bloc in the southern West Bank on Monday and was then shot and wounded by the Israeli army, the military said. The attack was the first by a Palestinian woman in a wave of unrest in Israel and the occupied territories, and comes as tensions run high particularly in Jerusalem and nearby areas of the West Bank. The civilian suffered minor injuries in the stabbing near a major crossroads in the Gush Etzion settlement bloc south of Bethlehem, an army statement said. "Security forces on site overpowered the suspect and transferred her for further medical assistance," it said. Police had initially said the stabbing victim was a soldier. They said the attacker was shot. A spokeswoman for the Jerusalem hospital where the woman was taken said she was in a serious condition. The incident came after months of rising tensions marked by a series of deadly attacks in Jerusalem and deadly stabbing incidents in Tel Aviv and the Etzion settlement bloc. In the bloodiest attack, two Palestinians armed with a gun and meat cleavers killed four worshipers and a policeman at a Jerusalem synagogue on November 18, before being shot dead by police. A week earlier, a Palestinian stabbed to death an Israeli woman in Gush Etzion, hours after a Palestinian teenager in Tel Aviv stabbed a soldier who later died of his wounds. In Jerusalem, two deliberate hit-and-run attacks by Palestinian drivers killed a total of four people. Both attackers were shot dead at the scene by police. In a bid to deter would-be attackers, Israel has pledged to demolish the family homes of anyone involved in anti-Israeli violence. So far, just one house has been demolished. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has accused the Palestinian leadership of inciting the violence, but Palestinians blame Israel over moves to expand the settler presence in occupied east Jerusalem, as well as tensions at the flashpoint Al-Aqsa mosque compound. Known to Jews as the Temple Mount, the plaza has been the focus of the heightened tension with Palestinian Muslims reacting strongly to what they perceive as Jewish attempts to take it over. Agence France Presse