LCCC ENGLISH DAILY
Bible Quotation For
Today/No Confidence in the Flesh
Philippians03/01-21/:Further, my brothers and sisters, rejoice in the Lord! It is no trouble for me to write the same things to you again, and it is a safeguard for you. Watch out for those dogs, those evildoers, those mutilators of the flesh. For it is we who are the circumcision, we who serve God by his Spirit, who boast in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the flesh— though I myself have reasons for such confidence. If someone else thinks they have reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for righteousness based on the law, faultless. But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. Following Paul’s Example All of us, then, who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. 16 Only let us live up to what we have already attained. Join together in following my example, brothers and sisters, and just as you have us as a model, keep your eyes on those who live as we do. For, as I have often told you before and now tell you again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is set on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body."
analysis, editorials from miscellaneous sources published on November 19-20/14
Murdered, Because They Were Jews/Tarek Fatah/The Toronto Sun/November 19/14
The Catch in Lifting Sanctions Against Iran/Michael Singh /Wall Street Journal/November 19/14
Qatar Makes Peace With Its Gulf Neighbors/Simon Henderson /The Washington Institute/November 19/14
Abbas, forced by Kerry, condemns synagogue attack/By KHALED ABU TOAMEH/J.Post/November 19/14
A question of ‘who discovered America?/Abdulrahman al-Rashed /Al Arabiya/November 19/14
U.N. slams Iran, Syria over rights record/Al Arabiya/November 19/14
The Gulf Cooperation Council's Honeymoon/Salman Aldossary/Al Arabiya/November 19/14
The GCC Crisis and the Challenges Ahead/Tariq Alhomayed /Asharq Al Awsat/November 19/14
Erdoğan’s Rediscovery of America/Ali Ibrahim/Asharq Al Awsat/November 19/14
Lebanese Related News published on November 19-20/14
Parliament in new failed bid to elect president
STL hears testimony of Assad’s brazen intimidation of Hariri
STL hears of Assad’s intimidation of Hariri
Salam laments losing youths over lack of jobs
ISIS wants 22-1 deal with Lebanon: report
Khalil pledges to end unlawful land seizure Ain al-Hilweh revels in attack on synagogue Food scandal puts slaughterhouse in spotlight March 14 wins AUB elections by slim margin
Changing Roumieh sentences legally impossible
Beirut governor closes slaughterhouse
Nasrallah meets with defense minister
Special Tribunal for Lebanon: A light on a dark past
Over $20M in microfinancing loans extended
Fathali pays tribute to Iran embassy blast victims
Hezbollah leader Nasrallah leaves bunker for rare photo-op
Governor to shut down Tripoli slaughterhouse
Tripoli juice truck suffers sugar crash
March 14 wins AUB elections by slim margin
Abu Faour: Food, water sanitation 'catastrophic'
Pharaon calls for better ties with Armenia
And News published on
Thousands of Israeli Druze and Jews grieve at terror victim's funeral
Thousands attend funeral of policeman who died defending worshipers in synagogue attack
IDF demolishes home of light rail terrorist
Shin Bet chief: Abbas is not inciting to terror
Netanyahu: We have nothing against east Jerusalem residents, but we must protect our citizens
How to prevent the next terror attack In Israel
Violent clashes in East J'lem following attack
Haunting accounts of a bloody morning prayer
Victims of J'lem synagogue attack laid to rest
Families of terrorists celebrate their attack
Battle over Jerusalem’ gets even bloodier
Condemnations of synagogue attack pour in, even from Bahrain and Turkey
Analysis: Terrorists likely acted alone, each attack infects the mind of the next terrorist
Israeli Police officer wounded in Jerusalem terror attack dies, bringing death toll to 5
Spain symbolically recognizes Palestine
De Mistura ditches Geneva framework
Erdogan slams jeers over Americas claims
Rouhani pick for universities minister spurned
Extending Iranian nuclear talks deadline is worst case scenario: source
Iran, US go face-to-face in crunch nuclear talks
France to send 6 mirage fighter jets to Jordan to target ISIS
Syria air force raids increasing, civilians killed
Suicide bomber hits Iraq Kurdish city, 4 killed
Jerusalem, West Bank on high alert after synagogue killings
Qatar no longer offering citizenship to Bahraini nationals: Bahrain interior minister
Second Frenchman likely on ISIS beheading video: govt spokesman
Below Jihad Watch
Posts For Tuesday
spen$er.i asked god to punish you.beleive me you will burn in hell.”
Obama condemns synagogue jihad, says “too many Palestinians have died”
Islamic State to remaining Christians in Raqqa: Pay jizya or lose homes
Israel: Cops storm home of Islamic jihad terrorists who murdered 4 rabbis
US State Department asks UAE why it labeled Hamas-linked CAIR a terrorist organization
NYPD steps up patrols around synagogues after Jerusalem synagogue jihad murders
Robert Spencer in FrontPage: More Beheadings, More Denial
Kenya: Muslims rampage after mosque counterterror raids, stab four people to death at bus stops
Kenya: Police raid two Mombasa mosques, find grenades and ammunition
Three Americans among four rabbis murdered by Muslims screaming “Allahu akbar” at Jerusalem synagogue
BBC refuses to allow Israeli minister to show victims of synagogue jihad attack — had no problem showing Gaza victims
Guardian deletes reference to “Palestinians” as perps of synagogue jihad murders, CNN labels synagogue “mosque”
Muslims screaming “Allahu akbar” murder four Jews in synagogue; “Palestinians” celebrate the murders
Before synagogue jihad murders, Hamas released video calling for more attacks in Jerusalem
Israel: Islamic jihadist murders at least four Jews in Jerusalem synagogue; Hamas calls murders “heroic”
Special Tribunal for Lebanon: A light on a dark past
The Daily Star/MP Marwan Hamade is performing a much-needed service to Lebanon this week in The Hague as he testifies before the Special Tribunal for Lebanon. Hamade’s detailed discussion of the era of Syrian domination of its neighbor, particularly under the presidency of Bashar Assad, is providing the public with valuable details about this sensitive period. While Syria’s behavior in Lebanon, dating back to the 1989 Taif Accord which ended the Civil War, has been tackled in the past, the testimony by Hamade and others will enter this information into the public record, making it difficult to be swept under the rug. Moreover, the defense team will have the opportunity to cross-examine the witnesses, meaning there is an opportunity for a balanced version of this period to eventually emerge. Lebanon has suffered for too long from political amnesia, whether about the Civil War itself or the period that followed. Perhaps the testimony of Hamade and others will finally spur former Parliament Speaker Hussein Husseini to release the deliberations of the Taif Accord’s process to the public, to further enhance this attempt to come clean about the recent past. People have opinions about the Civil War, and about the Syrian tutelage over Lebanon, but polemic, rumor and misinformation – and sheer inaccuracy – have clouded people’s attempts to document and write the history of these eras. These years are full of controversy. But when the claims and counter-claims are aired in an institutional environment, such as the STL, the process should end up generating a serious and essential source of information. For Lebanon to move forward in healthy fashion, it must have a sound and healthy understanding of its past.
STL hears testimony of Assad’s brazen
intimidation of Hariri
Kareem Shaheen|/The Daily Star
Nov. 19, 2014
BEIRUT: Syrian President Bashar Assad humiliated Lebanon’s top statesman and demanded “complete obedience” from the nation’s politicians, an attitude that destroyed relations between Syria’s leader and former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri prior to his assassination, the Special Tribunal for Lebanon heard Tuesday. Hariri was “humiliated by Syria’s president to show that Lebanese officials are nothing to them and that all must obey the orders coming from Damascus,” Marwan Hamade, the MP and former minister who survived a 2004 assassination attempt, said in testimony in The Hague.Assad’s astonishingly brazen attempts at subjugating Lebanon’s political class and media outlets that opposed Syria’s dominance was laid bare in a second day of political testimony at the U.N.-backed tribunal, aimed at discerning a motive for the worst political assassination in modern Lebanese history. Hamade described the details of pivotal meetings between Hariri and Assad that laid the groundwork for the collapse of relations between the two leaders before the assassination, including one in December 2003 after which Hariri reportedly suffered a nosebleed and smashed his head against the windshield of his car in anxiety over Assad’s behavior.
He detailed an alleged campaign of intimidation against the opposition media and Syrian intelligence’s attempts to spy on Hariri.
Hamade is the first of over a dozen politicians, journalists and advisers set to testify on political tensions in the run-up to the Hariri assassination and the breakdown of relations with Syria, the first time the country’s alleged role in the bombing has been examined in court.
Prosecutors said they were also considering summoning Druze leader and former Hariri ally Walid Jumblatt to testify. In a tweet, Jumblatt said he was ready to appear if summoned by the court.
Former Prime Minister Fouad Siniora is also expected to testify.
The STL is tasked with prosecuting those responsible for the 2005 Valentine’s Day bombing that killed Hariri and 21 others, plunging Lebanon into turmoil and street protests that ended Syria’s formal tutelage over its smaller neighbor.
The court has indicted five members of Hezbollah in connection with the attack, and the hearings are part of their ongoing trial in absentia.
No Syrian official has ever been charged in the case, nor have prosecutors indicated that they intend to do so, though they assert the political motive behind the attack lies in the deterioration of Syrian-Lebanese ties.
Defense lawyers have characterized the shift to Syria as a “sea change” and major expansion in the scope of a trial that has so far focused exclusively on the Hezbollah suspects.
In its first official reaction since the start of this new phase of trial, Hezbollah once again disavowed the tribunal, which it has derided in the past as an American-Israeli plot.
The party asserts that Israel assassinated Hariri.
“As for what is called the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, it does not concern us in any way, and we do not listen or read about it,” Hezbollah MP Mohammad Raad said after a meeting with former President Emile Lahoud at the latter’s residence.
Hamade’s testimony focused on a tense December 2003 meeting between Hariri and Assad and the run-up to the deeply unpopular extension of pro-Syrian President Lahoud’s term in 2004, which was key to the split between Hariri and Assad.
Hariri told Hamade after the meeting that he had been ordered by Assad to sell his shares at the anti-Syrian daily An-Nahar in a bid to bankrupt the newspaper, since Hariri was its second-largest shareholder after the Tueni family, which founded it.
“[Hariri] said the policy of the newspaper did not at all please President Assad and he suspected it was part of an overall media scheme to demand Syria’s withdrawal,” he said, adding that the Syrian president was angered by the writing of journalists Gebran Tueni and Samir Kassir, both of whom were assassinated in 2005, and editorials by the daily’s chief Ghassan Tueni comparing Assad’s fate to that of the Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. Hamade said the attempt at shutting down An-Nahar was part of a concerted campaign by Assad to close or intimidate anti-Syrian media, including a bomb attack on Hariri’s Future TV and the closure of MTV.
But Hamade, who was a close confidante of Hariri at the time and a former ally of Bashar’s father, Hafez, saved the more “humiliating” aspect of the meeting for later in the day.
He said the meeting between Assad and Hariri had been attended by three top Syrian officers – Interior Minister Ghazi Kanaan, military intelligence chief Rustom Ghazaleh and Gen. Mohammad Khallouf, a former military intelligence officer who has since defected from the Assad regime to fight with rebels seeking his ouster.
Two of the officers were armed, Hamade said, citing post-meeting discussions with Hariri.
“Hariri was subjected in this meeting to immense pressure,” Hamade said. “It was perhaps the beginning of the real estrangement between Rafik Hariri and the Syrian regime – a permanent estrangement.”
“He felt that he had been humiliated in this meeting,” he added. “It was like a lesson that was being given by President Assad to Prime Minister Hariri.”
Hamade said that Hariri was instructed to no longer to oppose Lahoud’s policies, being told that Lahoud bore Assad’s trust and reflected the opinions of Syria and its allies in Lebanon, and the premier was not allowed to object in the meeting.
He said Hariri nevertheless worked privately to counter Syria’s domination and was planning to vote against Lahoud’s extension.
The situation came to a head in August 2004, when Hariri, Jumblatt and Speaker Nabih Berri received invitations to Damascus delivered by Ghazaleh, who told them the upcoming meetings with Assad were intended to secure a majority to amend the Constitution and extend Lahoud’s mandate.
When the Druze leader refused to accept Lahoud’s extension, his invitation was withdrawn.
“Ghazaleh told him ‘I advise you not to do that, because there is no invitation to Damascus unless you tell me you are going to President Assad not to negotiate, but to agree,’” Hamade said, quoting Jumblatt.
Hariri was allowed to go to Damascus before conclusively agreeing to the extension. Hamade is expected to describe the aftermath of the meeting in his third day of testimony.
Prosecutors say the August 2004 meeting, in which Assad allegedly refused to consider removing Lahoud, was the crucial point at which relations between Assad and Hariri broke down, and the conspiracy to assassinate the former premier allegedly began a month later.
Hamade also described how Hariri discovered that his chief of bodyguards, Gen. Ali al-Hajj, was in fact spying for Ghazaleh and Syria’s intelligence.
He said Hariri fed him false information that Ghazaleh later called him and reprimanded him for, leading the former premier to fire Hajj from his staff, despite his closeness to the family.
Hajj would later be appointed as head of the ISF, and was arrested along with three other pro-Syrian generals in the aftermath of Hariri’s assassination. He was later released due to lack of evidence.
Condemnations of synagogue attack pour in, even from Bahrain and Turkey
By HERB KEINON /11/18/2014 /J.Post
Leaders from around the world – including the foreign minister of Bahrain – strongly and immediately denounced Tuesday's terror attack in Jerusalem, even as Israeli leaders slammed the world for ignoring the Palestinian incitement that preceded the murders.
US President Barack Obama said there could be “no justification for such attacks against innocent civilians.” Three of the four men killed held US citizenship.
“This is a tragedy for both nations, Israel and the United States," Obama said "Too many Israelis have died. Too many Palestinians have died."
"At this sensitive moment in Jerusalem," the president said, "it is all the more important for Israeli and Palestinian leaders and ordinary citizens to work cooperatively together to lower tensions, reject violence, and seek a path forward towards peace."
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the attack was a direct result of incitement led by Hamas and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, and that this incitement was 'irresponsibly” ignored by the international community.
Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman echoed this sentiment, saying the world must denounce the anti-Semitic pronouncements of Abbas, which included saying that “impure” Jews must be prevented by all means from desecrating the Temple Mount.
Netanyahu mentioned the Palestinian incitement in a conversation shortly after the attack with US Secretary of State John Kerry, who was in London. Netanyahu met Kerry and Jordanian King Abdullah II last week in Amman, where they discussed ways to ease the tension in Jerusalem.
Speaking before a meeting with British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond, Kerry characterized Tuesday's attack as an act of "senseless brutality" that “simply has no place in human behavior."
"People who had come to worship God in the sanctuary of the synagogue were hatcheted and hacked and murdered in their holy place in an act of pure terror and senseless brutality."
He called on the Palestinian leadership to “begin to take steps to restrain any kind of incitement that comes from their language or from other people's language and exhibit the kind of leadership that is necessary to put this region on a peaceful path," he said.
French President Francois Hollande went a step farther than most leaders, not only condemning the attack, but also condemning those who "dare to praise" the attack. He expressed concern over the recent violence “in Jerusalem, Israel, and in the West Bank.”
New EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini followed suit, roundly condemning the attack as well as “all statements calling for or praising such attacks.”
Mogherini added that “the lack of progress towards the two-state solution will systematically ensure the next round of violence. The time has come for both sides to make compromises, promote stability and ensure long-term security for both Israelis and Palestinians. The absence of a credible political framework is used instrumentally and leads to further hardening of ideological and religious stands. It is the responsibility of both parties, with the help of the international community, to urgently work on resuming the talks.”
German foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier issued a statement saying he was “shocked to the depth of my soul” by the attack.
He said the fact that a place of worship was turned into a scene of murder constituted the crossing of a “horrible red-line in a situation that is already extremely tense.”
“I visited Jerusalem just a few days ago and and could feel the tension in the atmosphere,” he said. “What happened now is a tragedy. I hope it will be a wake-up call. The tension can quickly turn into a violent outburst.”
Steinmeier said that unresolved political questions alongside a religious component gave “a new dangerous dimension to a conflict that is already very serious.”
The foreign ministers of Canada, Britain, Italy and other countries also denounced the attack, with Canada's John Baird denouncing “statements of incitement,” saying that “leaders who regularly issue them cannot plead ignorance or look the other way when terrorist attacks like today’s occur.”
Among the condemnations from more unlikely sources were ones issued by Turkey and Bahrain.
Turkey, which routinely slams Israel with extreme rhetoric, condemned the attack, with Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu saying “it’s not possible for us to approve attacks against holy places, regardless of which religion it belongs to.”
According to the daily Hurriyet, Cavusoglu – during a press conference in Ankara with visiting Finnish Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja, said that “negative moves from Israel continue, but there is no excuse to attack a synagogue.”
And Bahrain's foreign minister Khalid Bin Ahmed Al Khalifa took to his Twitter feed to condemn the attack, adding that “the murder of innocents in the synagogue will not be worth the price paid for it, (which will be) more collective punishment of the Palestinian people and more injustice and aggression.”
In a related development, the Foreign Ministry issued a directive to its delegations around the world calling on them to immediately protest to media outlets distorting reports about the attack.
The directive followed a number of examples of what the ministry said was poor reporting, including a CNN ticker that read, “4 Israelis, 2 Palestinians dead in Jerusalem,” and a headline in the French daily Le Monde that read “Six killed in Jerusalem,” giving a distorted picture of what happened by lumping the perpetrators with the victims.
Following a protest from the embassy in Paris, Le Monde changed the headline to read that four Israelis and “two Palestinian attackers” were killed. CNN, meanwhile, issued a statement saying that “as CNN updated its reporting on the terrorist attack on the synagogue in Jerusalem earlier today, our coverage did not immediately reflect the fact that the two Palestinians killed were the attackers. We erred and regret the mistake.”
Foreign Ministry Spokesman Emmanuel Nachshon said that from Israel's perspective, “tendentious reports and lies are meant to distort the reality, to defame Israel and in practice (if not always by intent) give a back-wind to terror.”
*Michael Wilner contributed to this report
Khalil pledges to end unlawful land seizure
The Daily Star/Nov. 19, 2014
BEIRUT: Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil Tuesday pledged to prosecute all those who illegally seize government properties across Lebanon and to apply retribution principles on all violators. “There will be no mercy or leniency on anyone who encroaches on public properties and lands in the city and rural areas. I will apply the retribution principle and from now on you will hear of many transfers and new formations in the real estate department,” he said at a workshop held at the Bassil Fuleihan Institute. Khalil did not accuse any specific party or group involved in the seizure of state properties in Lebanon. However, there were several reports claiming that thousands of hectares of government land in rural areas have been illegally seized by individuals and groups to build houses, buildings and shops, taking advantage of the state’s preoccupation with fighting terrorist groups near the Lebanese-Syrian borders. “Some people may assume that the political and security circumstances would make us turn a blind eye to administrative issues and public matters,” Khalil said.
The minister stressed that he would respond to any written complaints involving land encroachment. “From my official position, I will be candid. There won’t be any leniency or indifference toward any complaints we receive and we will follow these cases till the end,” Khalil said. He also promised that any official and clerk at the Finance Ministry’s real estate department would be held accountable if he or she fails to perform their duties. Khalil recently replaced several officials in the real estate departments who were suspected of being involved in corruption. He has also asked the prosecution office to prosecute some employees who took bribes from citizens in return for lowering the value of the properties they wanted to sell in order to avoid paying higher taxes to the Finance Ministry. Khalil said Tuesday the reshuffling in the real estate departments would continue in a bid combat graft. Some experts estimate that the Finance Ministry is losing hundreds of millions of dollars each year in the real estate department as a result of such practices. “We will also prosecute those who transgressed government properties in rural areas, regions which many people do not pay any attention to,” Khalil said. He added that soon, possibly within weeks, the Lebanese would hear a wide debate to determine who was responsible for the encroachments on non-authorized lands in rural areas. There are many areas outside the cities that have yet to be surveyed by the government to determine whether they belong to the state or are partly owned by individuals. “I will talk next week about these issues and will disclose figures to show how things were and how things are now. There won’t be any cover for any person involved in land violations,” Khalil said. “When I talk about violations, this does not mean that there are no honest and clean employees in the real estate department. On the contrary, we should commend those who are doing a good job.”
How to prevent the next terror attack In Israel
Ron Ben-Yishai/Ynetnews /Published: 11.19.14/Israel Opinion
Analysis: It's not easy to deter terrorists like those who carried out the deadly attack at Kehilat Yaakov synagogue, so Israel must act to contain the threat by all means available to its defense establishment. The Jerusalem synagogue massacre was meticulously planned in advance. The terrorists deliberately selected a distinctly religious target. Their timing, too, was designed to yield a particularly murderous effect – morning prayers, during which the synagogue building was full of people.
And there was nothing random about their choice of weapons either; they could have perpetrated the murders with the handgun in their possession, but they also brought along butcher's knives, with the intention of adding a ritualistic-Islamic component to the attack, and probably in an effort to mimic the killings that are being carried out by Islamic State in Syria and Iraq.
The bottom line here is that this was a terror attack sparked by religious-Islamic motives and the result of incitement on two planes – regional incitement inspired by the videos released by IS and its affiliate organizations; and Palestinian and Arab incitement revolving around claims about Israeli efforts to harm the Temple Mount mosques and take control of the entire site.
The second plane is shared by Mahmoud Abbas, Jordan's King Abdullah and Sheikh Raed Salah, the leader of the northern branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel. Hamas, too, plays a significant role in the incitement. The organization is currently in dire straits because the Egyptians are dictating the pace of the Gaza Strip's rehabilitation in the wake of Operation Protective Edge. Hamas can't afford to fire from Gaza at this point in time, and hence the incitement to carry out terror attacks in in Jerusalem. The possibility that Hamas was directly involved in the attack – its preparation and timing - must also be thoroughly investigated.
Hamas claims the attack was revenge for the murder of the Palestinian bus driver in Jerusalem. The pathology examination – with the participation of a Palestinian doctor – proved it was a suicide; but the Palestinian Authority's media outlets and Palestinian social network sites continued to claim the man was murdered by Jews, and Abbas didn't take the trouble to correct the impression.
The massacre, thus, was religiously sanctioned by Islamic and Palestinian elements, but it could not have been thwarted in advance because no specific terror group was directly involved. Terror attacks of this kind are very difficult to prevent ahead of time, and it is hard, too, to deter them because the perpetrators knew – and that's how the attack was planned – that they wouldn't walk away from it alive.
It's hard to deter an individual who has decided to become a martyr, and the security establishment must therefore work to prevent and contain such attacks with all the means at its disposal. Most of the measures are already in place; but the moment a sense of calm appears to settle over the area, these measures seem to be less stringently enforced. Even when things are quiet on the Temple Mount, we can't lose sight of the fact that the popular uprising, the intifada, is still here, under the surface, just waiting for a pretext or a hook on which to hang yet another massacre.
The measures that should be adopted:
• The widespread deployment of police patrols and checkpoints throughout Jerusalem and the Arab neighborhoods prone to violence (Jabel Mukaber, Silwan, Isawiya and others)
• The mobilization of large police and Border Police forces, and Israel Defense Forces soldiers too if necessary, who will occasionally conduct patrols as a show of presence; these forces must be equipped not only with riot-control means but also precise instructions aimed at preventing the use of live gunfire and unnecessary fatalities; every corpse brings another in its wake
• Preventive detention of agitators; the Shin Bet security service is familiar with them and the imams who fire up the passions; the arrests will help calm the mood
Over and above the offensive measures, the defensive measures are even more important – and the deployment of security guards at public institutions first and foremost. Public vigilance is important; keeping one's eyes open and alerting readily available security forces proved very effective in the first two intifadas. There's a need, too, to prevent the events in Jerusalem from spilling over into other areas within the Green Line, the Arab Israeli communities and Judea and Samaria. It is equally important to prevent reprisals by Jews.
Concrete barriers too
The demolition of the homes of terrorists is thought to serve as a deterrent. The matter remains up for debate. But one thing's for sure, demolitions at this point in time will only serve to spur the passions – and it would be best to refrain from such actions at least for now.
The option can be considered at a later date, taking into account of course that Israel doesn't demolish the homes of Jewish terrorists. This fact turns the deterrence into a form of unjust and unequal punishment for the families of the terrorists that incites the mood on the streets instead of preventing terror attacks.
The main thing is to change the mindset. The intifada in which we are currently embroiled may differ in nature from the previous popular uprisings, but it's here and it exists and we need to adapt the measures to the new characteristics – the difficulty involved in thwarting attacks ahead of time, and the difficulty involved in deterring attacks due to the religious motive and incitement.
The measures taken to halt the current wave of terror must be a combination of offensive operations, a stern call on Palestinian and Arab elements to cease the incitement, and vigorous defensive action that also includes concrete barriers.
Murdered, Because They Were Jews
By: Tarek Fatah
The Toronto Sun
November 18, 2014
A cartoon posted on the Facebook page of Hamas MP Mushir Al-Masri shows the attackers, dressed as orthodox Jews, exclaiming "Where are they?"Four rabbis in an act of worship, in their house of God, slaughtered in the name of Allah.
And if the savagery of the act was not enough of a shock, one response from a Muslim on Twitter was equally gruesome. Responding to my tweet about the Jerusalem slaughter, he welcomed the mass murder by writing a single word, "Bravo".
Elsewhere on social media, Palestinians in Gaza circulated cartoons using the image of the meat cleaver and knife used in the attacks, to mock the Jews. As a Muslim who has spoken all my life for the rights of the Palestinians to a state of their own, I was left holding my head in despair and shame. Just an hour earlier, I had read news of my co-religionists killing four Christians in random acts of revenge in the Kenyan city of Mombasa. What have we become, I asked myself?
The irony is the Jews murdered were from a sect that poses no threat to Muslims or Palestinians. They are against the very idea of Jews ascending the Temple Mount to pray, an issue that has become a bone of contention in recent weeks between Jerusalem's Muslims and Jews. The Ultra Orthodox Jewish population of Israel is exempt from Israel Defense Force (IDF) service so they can spend their days studying Torah.
These were simply men of religion, killed not for what they did, but for who they were — Jews. So it wasn't as if these four rabbis were in IDF uniforms, from one of the Israeli settlements inside the West Bank, that the Palestinians protest is a provocation to them.
No, these were simply men of religion, killed not for what they did, but for who they were — Jews. As for the reaction of many Muslims in the West, who woke up to see another atrocity committed in the name of Islam, expect their voices to be channelled through the standard script of many Islamic groups, who will come forward with cliché-ridden denunciations of the act and condemnation of terrorism. However, few will admit the atrocities we now see every few weeks are part of the Islamic tradition of jihad and intrinsic to the belief of how Jews should be punished if they are engaged in warfare with Muslims. Few will, or have, renounced the doctrine of armed jihad as inapplicable in the era of nation states and international law.
The biography of Prophet Muhammad, "the Sira" is considered the authentic story of his life and is part of the Islamic faith, together with the Qur'an and Hadith. According to the Sira, in the year 627CE, after a Jewish tribe surrendered to the Islamic army in the city of Medina, Prophet Muhammad personally beheaded 600 to 800 Jewish adult male prisoners of war, thus laying the template of dealing with Jews caught in battle for all times. In my book, The Jew is Not My Enemy, my research suggests the story is a creation of later Muslim kings, 200 years after the incident. These were men who crafted a backdated precedent to justify their own murderous acts. But my view is almost universally rejected. If Islamic leaders are unwilling to critically examine and question the authenticity of the texts they hold sacred, they had better be prepared to see the world react with contempt, if not an unpleasant backlash. ***Tarek Fatah is a founder of the Muslim Canadian Congress, a columnist at the Toronto Sun, host of a Sunday afternoon talk show on Toronto's NewsTalk1010 AM Radio, and a Robert J. and Abby B. Levine Fellow at the Middle East Forum. He is the author of two award-winning books: Chasing a Mirage: The Tragic Illusion of an Islamic State and The Jew is Not My Enemy: Unveiling the Myths that Fuel Muslim Anti-Semitism.
Shin Bet chief: Abbas is not inciting to terror
Attila Somfalvi /Ynetnews
Published: 11.18.14 / Israel News
While Netanyahu points accusing finger at Palestinian president, Yoram Cohen says MKs going on Temple Mount, vengeance killing of Palestinian teen Abu Khdeir main factors behind Jerusalem violence. While Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu repeatedly points an accusing finger at Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, the head of Israel's top secret security service said Tuesday he did not believe Abbas was responsible for the current round of terror and violence. "Abbas is not interested in terror and is not inciting to terror. He's not even doing so behind closed doors," Shin Bet head Yoram Cohen told the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee. Earlier, Netanyahu and many of Israel's leaders, including centrist Finance Minister Yair Lapid, blamed Abbas for the attack on a synagogue in Jerusalem, slamming PA incitement and insinuating he was working with Hamas to incite violence against Israelis. Nonetheless, Cohen did say that "some part of the Palestinian public views (Abbas') statements as legitimizing terror."
Abbas has condemned Sunday's deadly attack, but his Israeli naysayers claim past comments calling on Palestinians to "defend al-Aqsa" are to blame. According to the Shin Bet head, the central factors behind the current violence, was the murder of Palestinian teen Mohammed Abu Khdeir - who was killed by Jewish vigilante in retribution for the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teens last June - and attempts by Israeli legislators to change the status-quo on the Temple Mount.
According to Cohen visits by right-wing MKs and attempts to introduce legislation which would change the status quo on the flashpoint holy site were the main factors for rising tensions in East Jerusalem.
"There are individuals seeking to conduct terror attacks in wake of the events around the Temple Mount," Cohen said, urging calm and moderation. Sources present at the meeting said Cohen told MKs that public officials should refrain from going on the Temple Mount in the current tense climate, as it incites anger among the Palestinians. "The religious aspect which latches onto the (Israeli-Palestinian) conflict is very dangerous and volatile because it has implications on the Palestinians and Muslims around the world. We must do everything we can to defuse the current tensions," Cohen said. Asked about Cohen's comments, Netanyahu insisted Tuesday night that "there are no gaps between myself and the Shin Bet chief." The prime minister said that while Cohen "clarified Abbas is indeed not launching terrorist attacks or directly encouraging terror attacks," there is still incitement in the Palestinian Authority, which is headed by Abbas.
Israeli Police officer wounded in Jerusalem terror attack dies, bringing death toll to 5
By DANIEL K. EISENBUD, JUDY SIEGEL-ITZKOVICH, HERB KEINON/J.Post
The officer was identified as Zidan Saif, 30, of the Druse town of Kfar Yanouch in the Galilee.
A police officer who was critically wounded in Tuesday morning's terror attack at a synagogue in Jerusalem's Har Nof neighborhood succumbed to his wounds at Hadassah University Medical Center in Ein Kerem.
The death toll in the attack rose to five with the death of the police officer.
The officer was identified as Zidan Saif, 30, of the Druse village of Kfar Yanouch in the Galilee. He was the father of a four-month-old baby. He was set to be laid to rest on Wednesday.
The four other victims of the attack were prominent rabbis, including three US-Israeli citizens and one British-Israeli. The attack took place shortly after 7 a.m., when two Arab suspects from Jabel Mukaber in east Jerusalem stormed the Kehilat Bnei Torah Synagogue in Har Nof wielding axes, knives and a pistol, to attack over 30 congregants, police said.
According to witnesses, the terrorists shouted “Allah Akbar!” (God is great), before proceeding to kill and maim their victims.
Rabbi Aryeh Kopinsky, 43, Rabbi Avraham Shmuel Goldberg, 68, and Rabbi Calman Levine, 55, all from Har Nof, and Rabbi Moshe Twersky, 59, were identified as among the dead
The killers, identified as Abed Abu Jamal, 22, and Ghassan Muhammad Abu Jamal, 32, were killed in a shootout with police at the synagogue’s entrance. One of the officers involved in the gun fight was shot in the head, while the other was seriously wounded, police said.
Kopinsky, Levine and Twersky held dual US-Israeli citizenship after making aliya from America. Goldberg, a British-Israeli national, immigrated to Israel from Britain. Funerals for the four rabbis were held Tuesday afternoon.
The seven surviving male victims were rushed to the capital’s Shaare Zedek Medical Center and Hadassah University Medical Center in Jerusalem’s Ein Kerem. Two were in critical condition, two sustained serious wounds and one was moderately wounded, while one suffered light wounds, hospital spokespersons said. Hadassah announced late Tuesday night that Saif had succumbed to his wounds.
Dozens of Border Police officers arrived at the scene within minutes and cordoned off the area as hundreds of yeshiva students and residents of the ultra-Orthodox neighborhood watched events unfold.
Many continuously fielded phone calls on their smart phones from concerned family and friends who learned of the attack on the news. Others rushed home with small children and locked their doors.
Shaare Zedek had originally received the critically-wounded policeman, but transferred him to Hadassah’s neurosurgery department. SZMC received and treated three more victims, including one with moderate injuries who underwent surgery and two others with light injuries.
United Hatzalah volunteers, who were among the first responders, said the scenes at the synagogues were “one of the cruelest” they had ever witnessed.
Paramedic Yanki Erlich said he bent down to check on the first victim and suddenly heard gunshots fired in his direction. In an attempt to jump to safety from the gunfire, he slipped on a puddle of blood and fell, breaking his leg before dragging himself to safety.
Avi Nefosi, also a paramedic, arrived from around the corner of the synagogue and found himself taking cover behind his car as the gunfight raged overhead and additional police reinforcements raced to the scene.
Magen David Adom paramedic Betzalel Ben Hemo said when he arrived at the scene he immediately began treating the victims. “We found a man outside, fully conscious, with three gunshot wounds,” he said. “We evacuated him from the scene, and asked him to breath slowly.”
The gunshot-wound victim managed to tell Ben Hemo that there are no more terrorists active in the area.
“We rushed him to the Sha’are Tzedek Medical Center,” the paramedic said.
“Unfortunately, we have recently been getting used to these scenes, which remind us of past terror attacks. They are returning with full force,” he added.
By the time the police declared it safe for medical rescue forces to enter the scene, dozens of UH and MDA medics and paramedics rushed inside while helicopters hovered above.
After entering the synagogue and attending to those who needed help, UH physician Dr. Joyce Morrel said she bent down to one of the casualties still lying on the ground and covered him with his prayer shawl.
“As a medic and a resident of the neighborhood I was among the first to get to the scene,” said UH volunteer Eli Pollak. “First I had to hide under my car since shots were still fired. After the all-clear from the police, I could enter the building and see the injured and the bodies, some of whom I knew, still in their prayer shawls and phylacteries.”
Following the attack, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered the demolition of the homes of the two terrorists, the most significant operational step taken in the immediate aftermath of the murders.
The directive came at an emergency security consultation he convened in his office with Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch, Israel Security Agency head Yoram Cohen, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat and other top security officials. In addition to ordering the demolition of the homes of the terrorists who carried out the attack, he also gave orders to move forward with the demolition of the homes of terrorists who carried out recent attacks.
Netanyahu also ordered significantly ratcheting up law enforcement against those guilty of incitement.
Later Tuesday morning, Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said nine Arabs were arrested for rioting in Jabel Mukaber.
“Security assessments continue to be carried out and will be implemented throughout the capital,” he said.
Hamas subsequently praised the attack, referring to the killers as hero’s and martyrs.
In an interview on CNN, Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations Ron Prosor condemned the murders, warning against incitement and calls for days of rage across the territories.
“If you look at today, basically, ordinary Israelis cannot find a sanctuary in a synagogue,” Prosor said. “I have to tell the American people, and everyone else, Israel is on the front line in countering terrorism.”
“If you’re not with us today,” he said, “you'll find terrorism on your doorstep tomorrow.”
In a statement, Barkat also strongly condemned the attack, vowed to continue to fight terrorists and exhorted the international community to also condemn the massacre.
“Jerusalem bows its head in pain and sorrow on this difficult morning,” Barkat said. “Jerusalem residents peacefully praying in a synagogue in the heart of Jerusalem were cruelly slaughtered in cold blood while wearing their prayer shawls. I promise Jerusalem residents that we will continue to fight terror with full force and we will do everything in our power to restore peace and security to Jerusalem.”
The mayor continued: “I call on Israel’s national government and security forces to provide Jerusalem with all of the support necessary to fight terror. I call on the international community to strongly condemn this horrific act.
“We will not surrender to terror. We will stand strong and defend our city from those who try to disturb the peace of our capital,” he added.
Barkat later sent another statement noting that security will be increased in all the capital’s educational institutions, including kindergartens, adding that social workers were sent to help families of the victims and the people who were in the vicinity of the attack.
Yaakov Lappin, Ben Hartman and JPost.com staff contributed to this report.
US State Department asks UAE why it
labeled Hamas-linked CAIR a terrorist organization
Robert Spencer/Jihad Watch/Nov 18, 2014
It’s perfectly clear why (The Council on American-Islamic Relations) CAIR and MAS were listed as terror organizations: because of their links to the Muslim Brotherhood. But the Obama Administration cannot accept that, as it has itself done so much to aid the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and elsewhere. Hence this move, which is a fresh indication of the unwholesome influence these groups wield in Washington. But the UAE has the right idea, even if it reverses itself under pressure from State — and we can only hope for a restoration of sanity in Washington that will end these groups’ influence before they do more damage.
CAIR is not, strictly speaking, a terrorist organization: it doesn’t blow things up or exhort others to do so. It is, however, an Islamic supremacist organization with the same goals as those of al-Qaeda and the Islamic State: the imposition of Islamic law wherever and whenever possible.
“State Dep’t Asks UAE Why It Labelled CAIR a Terrorist Group,
by Patrick Goodenough, CNS News, November 18, 2014
(CNSNews.com) – A State Department spokesman said Monday the administration was seeking clarity from the United Arab Emirates over its decision to list two American Muslim groups as terrorist organizations.
Spokesman Jeff Rathke seemed unaware that one of the two groups, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), has long been engaged in outreach programs with the U.S. government.
He said the administration was “seeking to gain more information on why” the UAE had included include CAIR and the Muslim American Society (MAS) on the list. Others among the more than 80 groups listed ranged from the Muslim Brotherhood to al-Qaeda affiliates and the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS/ISIL).
CAIR and MAS have expressed shock at the move, with MAS saying it would look to the U.S. government to help.
“We’re aware that two U.S.-based groups, the Council on American-Islamic Relations and the Muslim American Society, were included on the list,” Rathke said. “We’re engaging UAE authorities” on the matter.
“The State Department works…with CAIR all the time, no?” a reporter asked. “I mean, there’s all sorts of outreach programs between the government and CAIR, right?”
“I don’t know offhand whether we have a particular—” Rathke began, before being told that CAIR has also worked with the FBI, and that CAIR officials have been invited to State Department-hosted iftars – Ramadan fast-breaking meals – “in years past.”
“I don’t have that information at my fingertips,” Rathke said. “But at any rate, we’re engaging UAE officials. These are U.S.-based groups so of course our – we are not in the lead then for domestically-based groups generally.”
CAIR did not respond Monday to queries….
The Catch in Lifting Sanctions Against Iran
Michael Singh /Wall Street Journal
November 19, 2014
In waiving sanctions related to the nuclear program, the president would also blunt his most effective tools for countering Tehran's other illicit activities, effectively rewarding the regime for steps it has not taken.
As nuclear negotiations with Iran come down to the wire, one of the major sticking points (though certainly not the only one) is sanctions relief. During the latest round of talks in Oman, Iranian negotiators reportedly pressed for the early lifting of U.N. Security Council sanctions to be part of any nuclear accord. The Obama administration, according to other reports, is prepared to suspend U.S.-imposed "nuclear-related" sanctions early in the implementation of a deal.
Both the Iranian demand and the U.S. proposal represent efforts to surmount the same obstacle: Congress. The White House recognizes that even if it wished to offer to lift sanctions upfront as part of any deal, Congress's likely opposition would make it difficult to honor such an offer, leaving it to resort to the waiver authority granted the president by nearly all sanctions legislation. For its part, Iran probably recognizes that the uncertain political support for a deal in the U.S. means a narrow window of opportunity to get U.N. sanctions lifted, a step that could be blocked by an American veto.
Both steps would prove problematic for the United States. Once lifted, U.N. sanctions could not quickly or easily be reimposed in the event of Iranian cheating. Although Russia and China voted in favor of sanctions on six occasions from 2006 to 2010, they would probably block any reintroduction. The U.N. measures are the keystone for much of the global sanctions architecture; they provide the legal basis for countless national sanctions against Iran, which could in turn crumble should the U.N. resolutions be rescinded. Lifting of U.N. sanctions should thus come in the final, not the initial, phase of any accord.
The complication in suspending U.S. sanctions that are "nuclear-related" is the term itself, found in the text of the "Joint Plan of Action" interim accord reached last November -- but not in U.S. law. Most sanctions against Iran are related not just to its nuclear endeavors but also to its other illicit pursuits. Sanctions against Iran's central bank, for example, arise from the Treasury Department designating it a "jurisdiction of primary money laundering concern" for, among other things, participation in "terrorism finance." Conversely, some measures that are clearly related to nuclear activity, such as U.N. Security Council Resolution 1737, contain other sanctions that should be maintained regardless of any agreement, such as the ban on Iran exporting arms.
In waiving sanctions that are related to Iran's nuclear program, the president would also blunt his most effective tools for countering Iran's other illicit activities, effectively rewarding Iran for steps it had not taken. This may be in part a side effect of the way the underlying legislation was drafted, but it would be easier to swallow if the accompanying deal were a strong one and if, in the wake of a deal, the White House and Congress jointly devised a modus operandi for countering Iran's support for terrorism and other illicit activities -- or, better yet, if Iran agreed to abandon those activities as part of the deal.
Rather than working around Congress, the Obama administration should try to craft an agreement -- and a broader policy toward Iran and the Middle East -- that draws support across the U.S. political spectrum.
**Michael Singh is the Lane-Swig Senior Fellow and managing director at The Washington Institute. This article originally appeared on the Wall Street Journal's "Think Tank" blog.
Qatar Makes Peace With Its Gulf
Simon Henderson /The Washington Institute
November 19, 2014
A late-night agreement in Riyadh appears to have resolved the diplomatic spat between Qatar and its GCC partners, opening up the possibility of more diplomatic coordination and greater unity.
Yesterday, Emir Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani of Qatar was shown kissing the cheek of King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia during a meeting of Gulf leaders in Riyadh, a goodwill gesture underscored by the announcement that the Saudi, UAE, and Bahraini governments will return their ambassadors to Doha. Both moves signal the likely end of a dispute that has festered for more than a year and erupted into the open in March when the envoys were withdrawn. The Saudi Press Agency also announced that Gulf Cooperation Council governments had reached what it called the "Riyadh Complementary Arrangement," suggesting that they acknowledge the need to at least patch over differences preventing a united front against the "Islamic State"/ISIS and other challenges.
Although Qatari officials have been saying for weeks that the disagreement is over, differences between the fellow GCC members have been apparent even in recent days. For example, Bahrain and the UAE had announced they would boycott a world handball championship being hosted by Qatar in January, while a meeting of foreign ministers planned for next month's GCC summit in Doha was cancelled. And the day before the Riyadh meeting, the UAE -- which has been the most vociferous in complaining that Qatar is supporting the Muslim Brotherhood opposition in other GCC countries -- released a long list of MB-affiliated groups that it declared to be terrorist organizations.
Yesterday's reconciliation was a consequence of mediation by Emir Sabah al-Ahmed al-Sabah of Kuwait. King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa of Bahrain was also in attendance, while the UAE was represented by Crown Prince Muhammad bin Zayed al-Nahyan of Abu Dhabi and Sheikh Muhammad bin Rashid al-Maktoum, the ruler of Dubai. The only GCC member absent was Oman, whose ruler, Sultan Qaboos bin Said, is undergoing medical treatment in Germany and is also believed to oppose any further financial and economic union between council states -- a possibility implied in the Saudi Press Agency report, which mentioned moving "toward a bold and cohesive Gulf entity."
The details of the agreement were not revealed. Qatar expelled some leading Brotherhood officials in September and has denied funding extremist groups, but it often seems to enjoy its reputation as a maverick, epitomized by its hosting of the Aljazeera satellite television channel, which has often infuriated Arab governments. Despite hopes to the contrary, thirty-four-year-old Sheikh Tamim appears to be little different from his father, who abdicated last year. Both men aligned with Muhammad Morsi's Brotherhood administration in Egypt and opposed the military takeover led by current president Abdul Fattah al-Sisi, who is backed by Riyadh and Abu Dhabi. And despite ousting some MB members, Sheikh Tamim has given no indication that he will fully abandon his policy of supporting Islamist groups.
Nevertheless, when faced with the prospect of GCC leaders declining to attend the December 9-10 Doha summit, Sheikh Tamim appears to have blinked first. Assuming the summit will now take place, it remains to be seen whether the ninety-one-year-old King Abdullah, who regards the GCC as a very important institution and has been exasperated by Qatar's policies, will make an appearance.
The summit has a full agenda apart from its perennial denunciations of Israeli policies and Iran's long-running occupation of three UAE islands in the Persian Gulf. In Syria, the air forces of Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, and Qatar have already joined the U.S. military campaign against ISIS, and removing Bashar al-Assad from power remains a key objective for each government. To varying degrees, GCC members are also worried by Iran's propensity to exert influence in their territories, as well as the progress of the ongoing nuclear talks.For the immediate future, then, greater confluence of policy seems likely between GCC states, which seem to recognize the need to display a more united front. This will create opportunities for the United States to push faster against the Assad regime and harder against ISIS. Notions of increased financial and economic union in the GCC will likely remain a mirage, though, at least for the current generation of leaders.
**Simon Henderson is the Baker Fellow and director of the Gulf and Energy Policy Program at The Washington Institute
Thousands of Israeli Druze and Jews
grieve at terror victim's funeral
Kobi Nachshoni /Ynetnews
Published: 11.19.14, 14:54 / Israel News
Hundreds of people from Haredi sector respond to calls on social media to accompany Master Sergeant Zidan Sif on final journey: 'We won't be ungrateful, we will show out gratitude to those who sacrificed our lives for us'.
The Druze police officer who lost his life in Tuesday's terror attack is being honored by the ultra-Orthodox community, which was hit the hardest in the deadly terror attack on a synagogue, and the community is urging Haredi youths to attend the young officer's funeral service.
The ultra–Orthodox community determined Wednesday that Master-Sergeant Zidan Sif, the Druze policeman who died from wounds sustained in Tuesday morning's synagogue terror attack was a 'Righteous Among the Nations', and many urged their public to attend his funeral, even arranging free transportation from the Jerusalem International Convention Center.
Unlike their Muslim brethren, Israel's Druze population, also ethnic Arabs, who emerged 1,000 years ago as a sect of Islam with a distinct identity, serve in the army and are in a sense more integrated into mainstream Israeli society. Nonetheless, the gesture is rare for the closed ultra-Orthodox society.
Scores of people paid their last respects to Zidan Sif as he was laid to rest Wednesday in the early afternoon at the Arab local council of Yanuh-Jat. President Reuven Rivlin, Internal Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovich, Police Commissioner Yohanan Danino, and the spiritual leader of the Druze community, Sheikh Moafaq Tarif, were among the dignitaries present at the funeral.
Rivlin read his words in a choked voice. "To the Sif family - I stand in front of you shaken and pained," he said. "Terror has struck Jerusalem once more. Terror that does not distinguish between people. Terrorists turned a house of prayer into a house of slaughter. Your son did not hesitate or waver . . . He stood fearlessly against the terrorists and risked his life to protect the people of Jerusalem.
"He acted according to the values he was raised with - courage, heroism, and self-sacrifice." Rivlin concluded his euology on a personal note. "What will we tell a five-month-old baby who will never know her father, who has been orphaned? We will tell her that her father was a hero."
Sheikh Moafaq Tarif urged the president and internal security minister to calm tensions. "You must do everything to reduce the flames in the holy city. Both of our people are paying a heavy price in the blood of our sons. We must not let incitement and extremism prevail over common sense and tolerance.
"The Druze community is going through a difficult time, tinged with sadness and pride, as over the last two weeks we have lost two dear sons as they protected the country. The Druze community as a whole bows its head together with the families of those killed in the terrible slaughter in Jerusalem, and hope for safer, quieter times."
Apart from the initiative posted online, a Halakha ruling by Rabbi Ovadia Yosef was also distributed in social networks, according to which a prayer for the dead must be recited in a synagogue for a Druze fighter who gave his life to protect Israel.
"He brings pride to your community, to the police, and to the Israeli police," said Minister Aharonovich. "People are raised with values here, and to our sorrow, some pay for this with their lives. We share this common fate."
MK Eli Yishai spoke in the name of local residents from the Har Nof neighborhood. "We all weep alongside the family. We are here to pay our last respects to a great hero who gave his life. . . Your memory is forever engraved in our hearts."
"This attack is another event that is the fruit of wild incitement by the leadership of radical Islam," said Commissioner Danino.
"We believe in fate," said Zidan's father, Nahad Sif. "We will take care of his daughter as though she were our own," he vowed.
Risha Segal (28), a haredi student and activist, who lives near the Har Nof neighborhood in Jerusalem, was one of the people who posted the online initiative calling for the Haredi sector to join the mourners. "We are calling for widespread solidarity throughout Israel, with an emphasis on gratitude," he said. "We will not be ungrateful and will show our thanks for those who sacrificed their lives for us. This is one of the most important principles in Judaism."
Segal estimated that some 100 residents of Har Nof will attend the funeral, "feeling that they owe their lives to the police officer. There is an extensive ultra-orthodox community in the north as well, and I expect they will also arrive at the funeral, so that there will be an impressive attendance."
"All of Israel can come to the funeral. Death unites us and this is a call against racism. It's true, a Druze is not Jewish, but he died on our behalf and terror does not distinguish between religions and nationalities, it kills innocent people just the same," he said.
"I believe that a man who died for us is definitely prepared for life in the next world," he added.
Segal posted the initiative in a Facebook group entitled "Young Haredim", where he wrote: "Come praise the name (of Zidan Sif) and show the family of the slain man the respect that we ultra-Orthodox Jews show to he who sacrificed his life for us. Zidan was a Righteous Among the Nations and made an alliance with Israel, which is why he was murdered."
Sif, one of the first two policemen to arrive at the scene to confront the two terrorists, left behind a wife, a four-months-old baby, parents and five siblings.
"Jerusalem police bows its heads in memory of Master-Sergeant Zidan Sif, a traffic control inspector in the Jerusalem police who sacrificed his life to save others and was murdered in the attack in Har Nof in Jerusalem."
Four others worshipers who were praying at the Kehilat Bnei Torah synagogue - Rabbi Moshe Twersky, Rabbi Avraham Shmuel Goldberg, Rabbi Kalman Levine, and Aryeh Kupinsky - were killed, while six people were wounded, including another police officer.
Interfaith gathering outside scene of attack
An interfaith gathering between Muslim, Jewish and Christian clerics was held outside the synagogue where the terror attack took place on Tuesday. Among the participants were Sephardi Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar, Imam Rasel Atmani, the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem, the chairman of the Druze Religious Council, and the chairman of the Council of Muslim Leaders, as well as representatives from the Foreign Ministry.
Addressing religious leaders, Rabbi Shlomo Amar said: "The point of this gathering is to denounce terror. This is something that all religions prohibit. A strong and harsh message must be sent that we all oppose to terrorism….there are arguments and differences, but the desire to exist and live is shared by all of us."
Sheikh Muhammad Kiwan, the chairman of the Council of Muslim Leaders, said: "Each terrorist act hurts us. Each violent act must be condemned. This is an extreme and shocking act. We won't let any side stretch out a violent hand and kill innocent people who had come to pray. The escalation in Jerusalem must be stopped.
"Every person should be given freedom to pray in the place that is holy for him," Kiwan added. "We must not let those who violate the order harm our lives in the country. When I donate blood every six months, I don't ask who it goes to".
Ahiya Raved and Michal Margalit contributed to this report.
Hezbollah leader Nasrallah leaves bunker for rare photo-op
Roi Kais /Ynetnews
Published: 11.19.14, 11:14 / Israel News
Strident security measures by Shiite terror group usually keep Hassan Nasrallah well inside his bunker, far away from Israel's long and illusive hands; but a visit by a Shiite religious figure prompted the arch-terrorist to leave his lair.
Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah has left his secret underground lair for a rare photo-op, pictures released Tuesday revealed. The Lebanese terror group's leader has been kept under lock and key since the end of the Second Lebanon War in 2006, and such public appearances are rare.
Hezbollah's public relations department issued pictures of Nasrallah with Grand Ayatollah Sheikh Basheer Hussain Najafi, a prominent Shiite figure and one of Iraq's five Grand Ayatollahs. As his name suggests, Najafi is from Najaf in Iraq, one of Shiites most holy places, home to the Imam Ali Shrine, which attracts millions of pilgrims yearly, third only to Mecca and Medina.
The two met near Nasrallah's stronghold in the Lebanese capital of Beirut, where Najafi was set to receive medical treatment. The two reportedly spoke about current regional events, and Nasrallah wished the ailing ayatollah good health. However, the exact time and details of the meet were kept hushed up by the terror group.
Nasrallah had a very busy Tuesday, and during his time out of the bunker, he also met with Lebanese Defense Minister Samir Moqbel. Moqbel, the Lebanese paper Daily Star said, is holding a series of talks with high-ranking political officials in wake of his return from an official visit to Tehran late last month.
The two reportedly spoke about a controversial arms deal and shipment between Iran and Lebanon, and Nasrallah reiterated his support for military action and offered his group's support.
According to a statement released by Hezbollah, the two spoke about “the latest political and security developments in Lebanon and the region,” and Hezbollah’s top security official, Wafiq Safa, also joined the meeting, the paper Daily Star reported.
Since the end of the 2006 war with Israel, Nasrallah has refrained from being seen in public, fearing Israeli assassination attempts, and in the past eight years has only spoken in public a handful of time.
Last month, Hezbollah-affiliated papers reported that Nasrallah participated in a tour in Lebanon's border region in an attempt to rally his forces, currently entangled in a violent fight with al-Qaeda offshoots Nusra Front and the Islamic State group.
Two weeks ago, as part of the holy Day of Ashura holiday, Nasrallah made another rare appearance, under massive security, but unlike past years he chose not to participate in the central march held in Dahyeh, Hezbollah's stronghold in Beirut.
His Day of Ashura appurtenance prompted many to wonder about the role of his masked security guard, called by some 'ninjas', who were deployed to secure the area.
Some reports said the unit is a counter-terrorism force said to work against the threats of radical Sunni groups gunning for Nasrallah. Their appearance on the scene prompted rumors of a thwarted assassination attempt, however these were not confirmed.
Analysis: Abbas, forced by Kerry,
condemns synagogue attack
By KHALED ABU TOAMEH/11/19/2014/J.Post
For the first time since the beginning of the current wave of terrorist attacks in Jerusalem, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Tuesday issued a condemnation of the latest such act.
Abbas was forced to condemn the Har Nof synagogue attack after facing pressure from US Secretary of State John Kerry, who had phoned the PA president twice over the past few days to demand that the Palestinians stop anti-Israel incitement. On Tuesday, Kerry issued a call to the PA leadership to condemn the Har Nof attack.
Kerry’s pressure prompted Abbas to issue two condemnations of the incident. The first came in the form of a terse statement published by official PA news agency Wafa, in which the Palestinian leadership condemned the “killing of worshipers in a synagogue and all acts of violence regardless of their source.”
The statement also called for an end to “incursions and provocations by settlers against the Aksa Mosque.”
Later, Abbas’s office issued a second statement, which again condemned the Har Nof attack and “assaults on the Noble Sanctuary [Temple Mount].”
In both statements, the PA leader sought to establish a direct link between the recent spate of terrorist attacks and visits by Jewish groups to the Temple Mount.
Over the past few weeks, he has repeatedly referred to the controversial Jewish visits as an act of provocation. At one point, he even called on Palestinians to prevent “by all means settlers and extremists from desecrating the Aksa Mosque.”
Abbas’s fiery rhetoric reached its peak when he sent a condolence letter to the family of Moataz Hejazi, the Abu Tor man who shot and seriously wounded Temple Mount activist Yehudah Glick.
In his letter, Abbas told the family that “your son will go heaven as a martyr defending the rights of our people and their holy places.”
One day before the Har Nof attack, the PA’s official media accused Jewish settlers and extremists of “murdering” Jerusalem bus driver Yussuf al-Ramuni, who, according to police and a forensic autopsy, committed suicide.
The PA’s Foreign Ministry held Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu personally responsible for Ramuni’s “murder.”
Over the past few months, Abbas and the PA have been telling Palestinians that Israel is planning to destroy the mosque on the Temple Mount. They have also declared the Palestinians who carried out the recent terrorist attacks in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Gush Etzion to be “martyrs.”
Now many Palestinians who were radicalized by Abbas are denouncing him for his condemnation of the Har Nof attack. Some say they are willing to forgive Abbas for the move because of the immense pressure he has been facing from the Americans.
But as Abbas spoke out against the Har Nof attack, several senior PA and Fatah officials went on Arab TV stations to declare that it was a “natural response to Israeli crimes.” Besides Abbas, no senior Palestinian official in Ramallah was prepared to issue a condemnation.
Through his rhetoric, Abbas has radicalized his people to a point where he is now being roundly condemned himself for speaking out against a terrorist attack on a synagogue
A question of ‘who discovered
Abdulrahman al-Rashed /Al Arabiya
Wednesday, 19 November 2014
I’ve read heavy criticism by a number of Arab authors leveled at Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for recently claiming during an Istanbul summit of Muslim Leaders from Latin America that Muslim sailors, not Christopher Columbus, had discovered the Americas.
For me, and perhaps for many others, Erdogan’s statement can be considered a form of cultural entertainment. However, perhaps what he said further infuriates losers who suffer from inferiority complexes and blame other sides such as the West for stealing everything, including discoveries and accomplishments by Muslims! His statement may also subject him to the mockery of others, such as that of Arab intellectuals. Erdogan was most probably addressing people at the level of their own intellectual capabilities by stripping all the positive characteristics of his rivals and ascribing them to himself.
Can dredging up the narrative of who discovered America change history? What’s certain is that it will not alter the present as today there are certain nations at the forefront of our era while there are others such as ourselves who lag behind. What’s ironic is that as Erdogan made that statement, the Europeans announced that their Rosetta spacecraft, which they launched 10 years ago, finally landed on a comet. The landing is the first of its kind. Imagine a 10-year journey to study a comet in the unknown reaches of space.
Can Erdogan tell us what we were doing to ourselves in the past 10-year period. We saw the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri to the looting of dozens of cities to the murder of hundreds of thousands of people and to replacing dictators with even worse ones.
By repeating the stories of late Libyan Col. Moammar Qaddafi, Erdogan has gone from the successful renaissance experience to the ranks of political jesters and swindlers for the sake of satisfying an idle audience through the borrowing of other people’s achievements. What Mr. Hazem Saghieh wrote in his article on political leaders’ confusion during disputes rings true in this case. Saghieh said that they tend to force the political dispute beyond its borders to include culture and history. Therefore, tactics are employed according to the needs of the moment.
“Can dredging up the narrative of who discovered America change history?”
Who discovered America? If by this we really mean to ask who the first human to set foot on the continent was, then scientists will confirm that thousands of years ago there were neither Arabs nor Muslims. If what is meant is to ask who conquered it, then Muslims may have arrived there later, just as other sailors who traversed the Atlantic Ocean arrived on its eastern shores, but this is of no value. No one is fighting over who discovered the rest of the earth because this is of no value and it’s nothing to take pride in. The United State is an extension of European civilization which is an extension of previous civilizations.
Our false pride is not limited to narration of history, forging William Shakespeare’s origins, claims of being the innovators of aviation, or aggrandizing our contributions in the fields of chemistry, physics and medicine, but also extends to PhD holders and researchers. Our reality will not change and we will continue to go backward with this mentality which does not appreciate education and the sciences and which takes pride in displaying degrees and holding governmental posts.
In boasting about the past, like Erdogan is doing, and remaining static as religious fundamentalists do, there is exploitation of people’s frustrations and their inability to escape the rut they have been living in for centuries.
Erdogan has the Turkish experiment, meaning he has the recent present to draw examples from instead of borrowing valueless folklore from the past. Where is the value in Muslims arriving on a hill that today is known as Cuba if they had no role in its development?
Muslims’ relationship with America is symbolized by the queues they stand in to attain a visa from American consulates in order to escape their countries and governments and to find a safe haven for their children, a job to make a living, hospitals to treat their diseases and universities to get an education. That is the modern reality.
U.N. slams Iran, Syria over rights
Staff writer, Al Arabiya News
Wednesday, 19 November 2014
The U.N. human rights committee adopted on Tuesday two resolutions strongly condemning Iran and Syria’s human rights record, Al Arabiya News Channel’s correspondent reported.
The non-binding measures now go to the full Assembly for a vote expected next month.
More than 120 member-states voted in favor of a resolution condemning “the grave deterioration of the human right situation” in Syria, with a mere 13 states rejecting and 47 abstentions, the correspondent reported.
As to Iran’s rights record, 78 countries endorsed the resolution, 35 voted against while 69 abstained.
Syria’s Ambassador Bashar Jaafari criticized the resolution as biased and politically-motivated, Agence France-Presse reported.
“They align themselves against Syria as long as Saudi oil runs through their veins,” he said.
The resolution condemned the use of chemical weapons in Syria’s nearly four-year war and deplored the use of torture in detention centers throughout the country.
It demanded that Syria put an end to attacks on civilians including those involving the use of barrel bombs.
Iran’s representative called the resolution, drafted by Canada with 45 co-sponsors, as “pointless and counterproductive.”
The resolution pointed to the surge in the use of the death penalty in Iran, with at least 850 people executed in the past 15 months.
China and Russia opposed both resolutions on the ground that they unfairly target a country in resolutions that have been dubbed the “name and shame” measures of the United Nations.
In the draft resolution on Syria, the U.N. body condemned “escalating” human rights violations, and addressed issues such as sexual violence, child abuse, forced disappearances, arbitrary detention, torture, prevention of humanitarian assistance, the differentiation between civilian and military targets.
The draft described these abuses as “violations of international law.”
It also denounced the disproportional power to advantage of President Bashar al-Assad’s regime against civilians, which caused a “dire humanitarian situation” and “encouraged extremism and the creation of militia groups.”
It highlighted a culture of people who committed crimes escaping punishment, making the conflict-struck Syria a “fertile ground for more violations.”
It denounced Assad’s regime for using explosive barrels against civilians and said it was behind the “majority” of killings of civilians on a daily basis.
The resolutions also judged the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) as well as other Sunni and Shiite groups such as the al-Qaeda affiliate Nusra Front and Abu Al-Fadl al-Abbas Brigade.
It called for an urgent humanitarian help including for the more than six million internally displaced people in Syria. It said the conflict has killed more than 191,000 people including 10,000 children since 2011.
Iran’s ‘alarming’ death penalties
Meanwhile, the U.N. expressed “deep concern” at the “ongoing and recurring human rights” abuses including the “alarming high frequency” of death penalties in Iran.
While the resolution acknowledges “legislative and administration changes” in Iran, including amendments to the Islamic republic’s penal code and its criminal procedure code, it listed 18 requests Tehran needs to improvise on. It highlighted “the alarming high frequency of and increase in the carrying-out of the death penalty in the absence of international recognized safeguards, including public executions.”
It also urged to prohibit public and secret group executions as well as “reports of executions undertaken without the notifications of the prisoner’s family members or legal counsel.”
The resolution denounced death penalties for crimes that “lack a precise and explicit definition and for crimes that do not qualify as the most serious crimes,” which are in violation of international law.
On Nov. 1, Iran’s top human rights official Mohammad Javad Larijani responded to the U.N. criticism of the death penalty in his country by saying 93 percent of the executions in Iran are for illegal drug smuggling, the Associated Press reported.
The draft called on Iran to stop “torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, including flogging and amputations.”
Freedom of expression and assembly should be given to all Iranians regardless of their ethnic or linguistic background. It criticized “continued discrimination and human rights violations against Arabs, Azeris, Balochis, Kurds and their defenders.”
The “pervasive gender inequality and violence against women and discrimination,” the resolution also criticized.
Assembly resolutions condemning human rights abuses in Iran, North Korea, Myanmar and Syria have become an annual ritual.
North Korea is also facing a key vote in the U.N. on human rights violations.
The Gulf Cooperation Council's
Salman Aldossary/Al Arabiya
Wednesday, 19 Nov, 2014
For a period of 255 days the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) faced one of its worst crises, one which raised the likelihood of seeing some member states being pushed out of the organization.
The period of 255 days is the officially acknowledged one, at least, for the crisis which involved Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain on the one hand, and Qatar on the other. The three countries recalled their ambassadors from Doha, and—in an unprecedented move—froze bilateral relations, before the fog of the crisis cleared following Riyadh’s official announcement of the end of the dispute and Qatar’s return to the GCC’s embrace.
From the start of the crisis, several things were clearly visible: Qatar’s burning desire to end the dispute in any way possible, its recognition of many of the reservations expressed by the three countries and the need to avoid acting in an arrogant manner, and its signing of the Riyadh agreement mandating its non-interference in the affairs of other member states. This is not to mention the endless high-level official visits and the diplomatic messages being sent in all directions.
Indeed, Doha never stopped knocking on all doors, something which embarrassed the other three countries who said they wanted actions not words. Qatar’s desire to repair what was broken was strong. At the same time, there was the problem of the Qatari side not being able to earn the trust of the other three countries and convince them of its seriousness and ability to address the roots of the problem. After several attempts from Qatar to bridge the gap, and following the tug of war over guarantees that past violations would not be repeated, wise steps were required in order to guide the GCC out of one of its worst crises. The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz took on the historic duty of resolving the crisis, not because he is the King of Saudi Arabia but, first and foremost, because he is the most senior member of the Gulf house.
“King Abdullah is the head of the Gulf family,” a Gulf minister told me when we spoke about the reconciliation. He added: “We have no doubts about his wisdom and we believe that he takes into account everyone’s interests, not just those of his own country.”
One question remains unanswered, however: Is the crisis over? Will the people of the Gulf innocently sing again, “Our Gulf region is united”?
It is premature to think that the crisis has been completely resolved. We should admit that only some of the roots of the problem have been addressed. In addition, some details remain vague. Perhaps the coming months will be sufficient to demonstrate if the good intentions that have been expressed about putting the GCC’s general interests above the narrow ones of its member states are genuine. It should not be overlooked, however, that this acute crisis produced fierce reactions that went beyond those of previous inter-Gulf disputes. This was the case when some sides, affiliated with some parties involved in the dispute, lashed out at certain states or figures. These incidents will definitely not be forgiven, no matter how hard those who were responsible for them try to reach out to their brothers. There is a big difference between disagreeing with someone and registering one’s position through objective criticism on the one hand, and throwing the worst insults at someone on the other. It is true that the Gulf states have overcome their political differences and are quite pragmatic, but they do not forget personal differences and the insults that accompany them.
The GCC will witness a honeymoon period in the run-up to its forthcoming annual summit, scheduled to take place in Doha in December. This year’s summit was threatened with cancellation for the first time since the GCC was founded in 1981. Who knows, the honeymoon may last throughout the next year as Qatar chairs and plays host to the organization’s ministerial meetings. Such a scenario would be enough to suggest that what happened recently was a passing storm. Or is the sky still cloudy?
It would be dangerous if the crisis returned and the wound opened once again, God forbid. In this case, the crisis would certainly be more extreme, dangerous, and complex than before, and would produce decisions whose impact no one will be able to comprehend.
May the honeymoon last forever! Nevertheless, wishes need to be accompanied by deeds.
The GCC Crisis and the Challenges Ahead
Tariq Alhomayed /Asharq Al Awsat
Wednesday, 19 Nov, 2014
Under the leadership of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz, the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) has turned a new leaf over the complex inter-GCC disputes. Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain have decided to return their ambassadors to Doha after the Qatari administration agreed and pledged to abide by the Riyadh agreement. So, are the GCC’s problems now over?
Definitely not. The GCC is still in the process of reaching full political maturity. So as not to be harsh on the GCC, it suffices to contemplate Britain’s recent threat to pull out of the EU if its demands for EU-wide reforms on immigration are ignored. If such is the case with the Europeans, despite their long political history, what can be said of the GCC? The EU previously faced an economic crisis over the Greek debt. Back then, a German official remarked that the Greeks could not eat caviar and expect the rest of Europe to foot the bill. Well, the disputes of the GCC are not about caviar; they are a matter of life and death.
Differences among Gulf states are real and crucial, and involve Qatar as well as other member states. Some of the disputes are still simmering under the now apparently calm surface. For instance, why did Oman not attend the Riyadh summit that ended the dispute with Qatar? How can Muscat be excited about, say, the US–Iran nuclear deal while it absents itself from the summit? Most of those on the inside knew that the summit would resolve the dispute and turn a new leaf within the GCC. Why, then, did Oman fail to attend it? Thus far, no convincing answers have been offered.
The outcome of the Riyadh summit was not the result of traditional mediation, nor was it a product of emotion. It was simply the fruit of a rational and wise process prompted by the conviction that the GCC is yet to approach full maturity, with a long road still ahead of it, one which will require both patience and perseverance. If the EU itself still faces real challenges, what can be said of the GCC, surrounded as it is by an Arab environment beset with rifts and infiltrations, and facing existential challenges far more serious than the issue of Greek caviar? The coming days and events will show the extent to which Qatar will abide by the Riyadh summit. The future will also reveal the reasons behind Oman’s absence. All we know right now is that the leaders of the GCC want it to continue, and to attempt to have some influence over their turbulent surroundings. Before anything else, the GCC seeks to provide what is beneficial for its member states, which is in itself a great challenge, particularly due to its proximity with countries currently undergoing serious crises, such as Yemen, Iraq and Syria. On top of that, there is Iran, an extremely meddlesome and problematic neighbor. We can only hope that the GCC soon reaches full maturity. Our people, more so than our our governments, need the GCC, an organization King Abdullah is keen to protect and help continue in its ongoing mission.
Erdoğan’s Rediscovery of America
Ali Ibrahim/Asharq Al Awsat
Wednesday, 19 Nov, 2014
We do not know what prompted Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to say, during his reception of a Latin American delegation, that he was certain that Muslims discovered North America 500 years before Christopher Columbus did. The Genoese explorer accidentally discovered the New World, thinking at the time that he had found a new route to Asia. He also mistakenly referred to its aboriginal inhabitants as Indians.
Erdoğan has a fiery temperament, which always puts him under the spotlight and is often visible in the way he reacts to events. But he is also skillful at making controversial statements that make headlines, something the media loves. Therefore, his comments about Muslims discovering America have spread rapidly across the global media, regardless of whether they truly reflect what he believes or were only meant to attract attention.
There aren’t many credible accounts of the Americas being discovered by Europeans or Middle Easterners before Columbus, or any reliable accounts of anyone crossing the vast Atlantic Ocean, previously known as the “Sea of Darkness” due to the common medieval belief that beyond it lay the edge of the world. But nothing can be ruled out, either. Perhaps others, including Muslims, reached the Americas one way or another before Columbus. Some narratives and evidence suggests the arrival of Scandinavian explorers hundreds of years before Columbus. But other than this, other stories remain mere tales which may or may not be based in fact. There is no point in saying that Muslims discovered America before Columbus, other than to express one’s wishful thinking.
Columbus worked for the Spanish Crown, which at the time was preoccupied with proselytization and religious warfare with the aim of promoting Catholicism. Spain made a huge fortune from the New World, whose aboriginal inhabitants were harmed (to say the least) by arrivals from the Old World. Their long isolation and lack of immunity to European viruses made them vulnerable to fatal diseases borne by passengers on ships from that part of the world.
Spain was obsessed with gold of which it amassed great quantities, making it the world’s richest empire for some time. It paid off its debts, but also squandered much of the newly acquired fortunes in waging religious war. While other rival colonial powers in Europe invested what they got from the New World into industry and trade, accumulating fortunes and becoming richer and more powerful, the country that funded the expedition did not benefit as much.
A lot of gold and silver came from the New World after Columbus’ discovery. But it is said that those food crops of the Americas that were previously unknown to Europeans were more valuable than gold. One such crop was the potato, cultivated on an extensive scale beginning in the 16th century. It is considered today the world’s fifth most important crop after wheat, rice, corn, and sugar cane. At one time this crop saved some European countries from famine. Tomatoes also came from the New World, among others.
The trade, cultivation and renewed production of such new crops must have made fortunes ten times as much as that of gold over the centuries. Given its ease of cultivation and long shelf-life, the potato crop played an important role in the Industrial Revolution as a staple food of new urban workers.
All of this has now passed into history, but we can draw valuable lessons by looking at who invested or squandered wealth, and which nations rose and fell. There is no point in attempting to rewrite history. History should be read as history, while what is important is to have a vision for the future, rather than indulging in retrospective searches for what has been lost. Civilizations are built by looking towards the future. And as the common proverb goes: what is past is dead and gone.
How to read history is among the problems of the Middle East, whose inhabitants are by nature fond of looking back to the past. The region is home to some of the most ancient civilizations in recorded history, the alphabet, and many branches of science. It is also the cradle of the three heavenly religions. Like all world civilizations, the region went through periods of ups and downs. But right now it has a problem as far as reading history is concerned. When they have confidence in themselves and their ability to build a better future, people read history to learn and benefit from the lessons of past nations, not to fight or obsess over chances missed centuries ago. America was discovered a long time ago, and an eventful history has passed in the interval during which maps have been redrawn and politics altered. History does not need to be rediscovered.