Obama Administration to Join anti-Israel U.N. Human Rights Council

March 31, 2009

The Obama administration has revoked a decision by the Bush administration to boycott the Geneva-based United Nations’ premier rights body to protest the influence of repressive and racist states, according to The Washington Post.

The U.N. Human Rights Council is wholly owned and operated by Islamic states that legitimize Hamas and Hezbollah terrorism, supported by an automatic majority from China, Cuba, and other repressive regimes. Canada, now the true America,  is the only country in the world that has been willing to stand up and resist Orwellian resolutions that are destroying the true principles of human rights.

The resolutions of the U.N. Human Rights Council failed to address human rights violations of Muslim countries, notably Iran’s persecution of Baha’is, Saudi Arabia’s banning of all religious practice aside from Islam, and the persecution of Christian communities in Egypt, Pakistan and Iraq. Instead of this, the U.N. Human Rights Council recommended to criminalize the defamation of Islam.

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Anti-Semitism: The Ugliest Backlash in Our Lifetime

March 31, 2009

This Pesach, Jews around the world have experienced the ugliest backlash of blatant anti-Semitism many of us have witnessed in our lifetime. We shouldn’t be surprised. When the world faces crisis, Jews are often the scapegoat.

How dangerous is the threat?

  • Dozens of synagogues around the world have been attacked and targeted by extremists
  • Hundreds of demonstrations around the world have heard crowds chant phrases like: Jews “go back to the ovens”
  • Anti-Semites continue to exploit financial Web sites to spread their hate online

Our ability to respond depends on the commitment of people like you. We need your support.

HIRAM7 REVIEW is the only European online magazine specifically dedicated to fighting anti-Semitism, to identifying and exposing extremists and their hate groups.

Now more than ever, we need your support. In these difficult economic times, our ability to respond to these new dangers depends on the commitment from the entire community.

Can we count on you?


MERCI DE GAULLE – Hommage national

March 31, 2009

Grande souscription nationale pour que vive et se transmette l’héritage du général de Gaulle

Plus que jamais, la Fondation Charles de Gaulle a besoin de votre aide pour promouvoir et développer le nouveau Mémorial Charles de Gaulle de Colombey-les-Deux-Églises.

Dans ce but, la Fondation Charles de Gaulle a lancé une grande campagne de souscription nationale “Merci de Gaulle” à laquelle un site est dédié.

Pour accéder au site “Merci de Gaulle”, cliquer ici.


Interview with U.S. General David Petraeus

March 31, 2009

The chief foundations of all states… are good laws and good arms. And as there cannot be good laws where there are not good arms… where there are good arms there must be good laws. (Niccolo Machiavelli)

U.S. General David Petraeus, in an interview with Fox News, said the U.S. military is putting “additional focus” on rooting out ties between Pakistan’s intelligence service and the Taliban. He also said the U.S. military reserves the “right of last resort” to take out threats inside Pakistan.

Read full story.


Der Geist von ZAHAL

March 27, 2009

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Ethische Dilemmata während der Operation Gegossenes Blei

Als Staat hat Israel seit seiner Gründung gegen die Herausforderung des Terrors zu kämpfen gehabt. Trotz der großen Erfahrung, die die Israelischen Verteidigungsstreitkräfte (ZAHAL) gesammelt haben, sind die täglichen Herausforderungen, denen sie begegnen, weiterhin kompliziert und schaffen komplexe ethische Dilemmata.

Das internationale Recht basiert auf dem ‚klassischen’ Modell des Krieges zwischen zwei Armeen. Infolgedessen ist es eine große Herausforderung, existierende internationale Rechtsgrundsätze auf Konflikte mit Terrororganisationen anzuwenden. Sie können keine befriedigende Antwort auf die zahlreichen ethischen Dilemmata geben, die bei solchen Konflikten erwachsen.

Im Bemühen, ihre militärische Unterlegenheit wettzumachen, haben die Terrororganisationen systematische Strategien entwickelt, die das Unvermögen des internationalen Rechts in Bezug auf diese Fragen ausschlachten.

Dem Terrorismus sind der Wert des menschlichen Lebens und der Humanismus gleichgültig, sowohl was die eigene Nation angeht als auch seine Feinde. Aufgrund der fehlenden Verpflichtung gegenüber dem internationalen Recht fühlen sich die Terroristen frei von jeglichen ethischen oder moralischen Beschränkungen und operieren ohne jegliche internationale Überwachung.

Terrororganisationen versuchen, das Vorgehen der Feindstaaten zu delegitimieren. Sie erreichen dies, indem sie sich selbst als Opfer stilisieren. Dieses Bestreben wird dadurch gefördert, dass das Schlachtfeld in dicht bevölkerte Gebiete verlegt wird, wobei mit dem Endziel der Medienaufmerksamkeit eine Wirklichkeit von Tod und Elend erzeugt wird.

Die Operation Gegossenes Blei ist ein klassisches Beispiel für asymmetrische Kriegsführung. Die Hamas hat hierbei terroristische Verhaltensmuster mit zynischen Resultaten an den Tag gelegt.

Im Laufe der vergangenen zwei Jahre hat die Hamas ihre terroristische Infrastruktur mutwillig als inhärenten Teil der zivilen Infrastruktur aufgebaut (bspw. waren mehr als ein Drittel der 122 Häuser im Viertel Al-Attra mit Bomben bestückt). Während der Kämpfe wurden die Bewohner Gazas auf die Straßen gebracht, und die Hamas versteckte sich zwischen ihnen, in ziviler Kleidung, und machte sie dadurch zu menschlichen Schutzschilden. Alan Dershowitz hat dies als die „Tote-Baby-Strategie” der Hamas bezeichnet.

Der Terrorismus der Hamas wurde die gesamte Operation hindurch aufrechterhalten. Als die Übergänge für den Transfer humanitärer Hilfe geöffnet wurden, hat die Hamas sie absichtlich bombardiert. Als Hilfsgüter transferiert wurden, hat die Hamas sie erbeutet und nicht an die lokale Bevölkerung weitergegeben. Als die Kamphandlungen eingestellt wurden, um humanitäre Zeitfenster zu schaffen, hat die Hamas weiter geschossen und Zivilisten gefährdet, die sich nach draußen gewagt hatten. Und als Israel anbot, sich um die Verwundeten zu kümmern, hat die Hamas sich geweigert, sie zu überführen.

Als Staat hat Israel seit seiner Gründung gegen die Herausforderung des Terrors zu kämpfen gehabt. Trotz der großen Erfahrung, die die Israelischen Verteidigungsstreitkräfte (ZAHAL) gesammelt haben, sind die täglichen Herausforderungen, denen sie begegnen, weiterhin kompliziert und schaffen komplexe ethische Dilemmata.

Im Feld steht der Kommandant komplexen ethischen Dilemmata gegenüber, die sein persönliches Urteil dazu erfordern, ob er den Anti-Terror-Einsatz, der die lokale Bevölkerung gefährden könnte, fortsetzen oder ob er seine eigenen Soldaten und die Zivilisten, die zu beschützen er ausgesandt wurde, gefährden soll.

Um den ethischen Dilemmata des Krieges, vor allem solchen, die während der Terrorismusbekämpfung auftreten,  begegnen zu können, haben die Israelischen Verteidigungsstreitkräfte (ZAHAL) einen moralischen Code entwickelt („Der Geist von ZAHAL”). Dieser Code setzt sich aus den Werten zusammen, die der Gründung des Staates Israel innewohnten, den Werten der westlichen Demokratie und der Verpflichtung gegenüber dem internationalen Recht.

Der „Geist von ZAHAL” ist tief in die Grundausbildung jedes einzelnen Soldaten und Kommandanten der Israelischen Verteidigungsstreitkräfte  eingebaut. Die ethische Verantwortung unserer Soldaten widerspricht nicht der Notwendigkeit persönlicher Sicherheit – sie setzt einen hohen Standard für das persönliche Urteil beim Zielen auf Terroristen, die unter Zivilisten Schutz suchen.

Die Rechtsexperten der Israelischen Verteidigungsstreitkräfte haben jeden Aspekt der Operation begleitet, von der Planung bis zur Durchführung. Dies reflektiert die Anerkennung der Bedeutung der Einhaltung des internationalen Rechts als dem Entscheidungsprozess inhärenter Aspekt.

Vorbereitungen für potentielle ethische Dilemmata begannen bereits in der Planungsphase der Operation. Während der Operation wurden unzählige Maßnahmen ergriffen, um den Kollateralschaden an den Bewohnern des Gaza-Streifens zu minimieren: Mehr als 1 250 000 Flugblätter wurden verteilt, mehr als 165 000 Bewohner des Gaza-Streifens wurden vorab telefonisch gewarnt, und die „Anklopftechnik” wurde breitflächig angewandt.

Trotz des häufigen Kampfes in dicht bevölkerten Gebieten und des Missbrauchs von lokalen Bewohnern als menschliche Schutzschilde durch die Hamas verdeutlichen die Einschätzungen der Israelischen Verteidigungsstreitkräfte, dass der Großteil der Opfer bewaffnete Kämpfer waren (709 bewaffnete Kämpfer, 295 Zivilisten und 162 Personen, deren Grad der Involvierung noch geprüft wird).

Das Schlachtfeld ist ein Schauplatz, der für Fehler anfällig ist. Für die Israelischen Verteidigungsstreitkräfte  ist jeder Kollateralschaden an Zivilisten problematisch und wird untersucht, um aus den eigenen Fehlern zu lernen und die Kampfdoktrin für die Zukunft zu verbessern. Für die Hamas ist der Kollateralschaden sowohl an israelischen als auch palästinensischen Zivilisten ein Mittel zum Erreichen ihres Ziels.

Bis ein effektiver moralischer Code zur Regulierung des Kriegs gegen den Terror geschaffen sein wird, gibt es keine einzige und eindeutige Lösung für ethische Dilemmata. Die Dilemmata stellten eine Herausforderung dar, die von allen westlichen Armeen geteilt wird, eine Herausforderung, der man begegnen muss, um die demokratischen Kernwerte zu bewahren, die unsere Staaten prägen.

Es scheint so, als ob der Einsatz von menschlichen Schutzschilden durch Terror- und Guerillaorganisationen infolge der steigenden Verstädterung, der operationellen Vorteile einer solchen Umgebung und der internationalen Verurteilung von Anti-Terror-Aktivitäten in bewohnten Gebieten noch wachsen wird. Das schiere Ausmaß dieser Dilemmata wird noch zunehmen und nicht nur Israel und den Nahen Osten, sondern die internationale Gemeinschaft als Ganze betreffen. Insofern ist die globale Acht- und Aufmerksamkeit gegenüber dieser Angelegenheit unerlässlich.

Israelische Verteidigungsstreitkräfte


David Harris Remarks at Gorbachev-Shultz Reunion

March 26, 2009

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AJC Executive Director David Harris was invited to give substantive opening remarks at this afternoon’s historic reunion between former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev and former U.S. Secretary of State George Shultz, moderated by Charlie Rose. Below is the text of what Gorbachev publicly praised as an outstanding speech that, he said, helped him to gain a new understanding of the Jewish community’s view of Russian and Soviet Jewish history.

Opening Remarks by David Harris
Executive Director, American Jewish Committee (AJC)

A the reunion between former Soviet Union President Mikhail Gorbachev and former U.S. Secretary of State George Shultz

American Jewish Historical Society
New York, March 26, 2009

I am grateful to the American Jewish Historical Society for organizing today’s historic lunch and for giving me the privilege to speak.

In 1974, I traveled to the USSR for the first time, part of a U.S.-Soviet teacher’s exchange program. I was sent to School No. 185 in Leningrad.

Shortly after arriving, I was walking in the hallway when a young girl passed by and quietly put a piece of paper in my hand. When I was alone, I read the note. It said: “David Harris, I feel you are a Jew. If I’m right, please know that my family are refuseniks. Won’t you come visit us?”

I did. It was one of several such families I eventually met. Why did they want to leave? Her father, an engineer, explained that his children had no future in the Soviet Union. The barriers were too high, anti-Semitism too endemic.

So why were they denied the right to emigrate?

The father told me a joke which was then making the rounds:

Shapiro was called into KGB headquarters and told he would never be allowed to leave. “But why, comrade major? he pleaded. Because you know state secrets. What state secrets, comrade major? In my field, the Americans are at least ten years ahead of us. Well, said the KGB major, that’s the state secret.”

I asked the girl, who was about 14 at the time, why she thought I was Jewish and risked approaching me.

She told me that in the USSR no one in their right mind would give a boy the first name David unless he was Jewish, or else they had cripple him for life. She assumed it was probably the same in other countries.

It’s why she and other students insisted that Abraham Lincoln was the first Jewish president. Nothing I said could convince them otherwise.

The plight of the engineer’s family was but one episode in a difficult history, involving millions and spanning centuries.

It’s hard to know where the story begins.

Perhaps in 1648, when the Ukrainian Cossacks, led by Bogdan Khmelnitsky, went on a murderous rampage and killed as many as 100,000 Jews.

Or in 1791, when Catherine the Great created the Pale of Settlement, forcing Jews to live in this confined space for well over a century.

Or in 1827, when Czar Nicholas I began conscripting Jewish boys into the army for a 25-year tour, during which every effort was made to convert them to Christianity.

Or in 1881, when the assassination of Czar Alexander II triggered a deadly wave of pogroms, which would recur in the ensuing decades, often led by the Black Hundreds, whose slogan was, “Kill the Yids and save Mother Russia!”

Or that same year, when Konstantin Pobedonostsev, the Procurator of the Holy Synod, argued that the Jewish problem could be solved only if one third of Russia’s Jews emigrated, one third converted, and one third perished.

Or in 1903, when the czarist secret police fabricated the infamous Protocols of the Elders of Zion, which claimed that Jews plotted to control the world.

Or in 1911, when Mendel Beilis was arrested in Kiev and put on trial for the supposed ritual murder of a Christian child’s blood libel.

Or in 1917, when Jews were accorded equal rights, creating the short-lived hope that better times were ahead.

Or in 1918, when that hope was proven illusory, as the Civil War resulted in an estimated 2,000 pogroms and tens of thousands of Jewish deaths.

Or in the 1920s, when emigration was no longer possible, and it became clear that Jewish religious life in the Soviet Union would be proscribed.

Or in the 1930s, the decade of the Great Terror, when many Jews were among the millions purged by Stalin.

Or in the 1940s, when Soviet Jews fought valiantly in the Red Army, losing hundreds of thousands of lives and winning a disproportionate share of medals of valor, only to return home to taunts that they had sat out the war in Tashkent.

Or in 1948, when Solomon Mikhoels, the legendary actor and chair of the wartime Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee, was killed on Stalin’s orders in a feigned traffic accident.

Or the same year, when Golda Meir, as Israel’s first ambassador to the Soviet Union, came to Moscow’s only remaining synagogue, alarming the Kremlin when 50,000 Jews took to the streets to welcome her.

Or in 1952, when Mikhoel’s colleagues, having been charged with “treason, bourgeois nationalism, or other crimes against the state,” were executed in the night of the murdered poets.

Or in those years when the first copies of Leon Uris’s Exodus, the story of Israel’s birth, began circulating in Russian in samizdat, or self-publication, awakening kinship with the Jewish state.

Or in 1967, when Israel, faced with extinction by enemies armed with Soviet weaponry, vanquished the threat in just six days, electrifying Soviet Jews.

Or in 1970, when, to dramatize their plight, nine Jews and two non-Jews sought to hijack a plane in Leningrad and leave the country.

Or perhaps, perhaps, there wasn’t a precise date at all, just a sense for many that, despite Jews’ deep roots and love of Russian culture, something wasn’t right here, and time alone wouldn’t make it any better.

Maybe it was the knowledge that the Soviet internal passport, with its pyataya grafa, fifth line nationality” was a lifelong handicap for any Jew.

Maybe it was the recognition that prestigious universities and institutes were too frequently off-limits to Jews.

Maybe it was the awareness that certain jobs were denied to Jews, and that Jews who had jobs had to work harder to prove that they deserved them.

Maybe it was the fear that Jewish children would be subjected to taunts and jeers in school, and that school officials wouldn’t necessarily defend them.

Maybe it was the anguish that, as Yevgeny Yevtushenko, the legendary poet, reminded us when he spoke of Babi Yar, there were no memorials to the countless Jews slain by the Nazis on Soviet territory during the Holocaust.

Maybe it was the reality that Jews could not satisfy their most basic curiosity about being Jewish history, religion, tradition, language without endangering their families.

Maybe it was the relentless demonization of Israel and vilification of Zionism in Soviet officialdom.

Or maybe it was the recognition that Maxim Gorky’s words in Russian Fairy Tales were applicable for all time: “Once upon a time, in some czardom, in some state, there were Jews, simple Jews” for pogroms, for slander, and for other state needs.

Whatever the cause, by 1971, there was a full-fledged Soviet Jewry movement in the USSR and a growing support network around the world.

For the next two decades, history was written.

Soviet Jews cried out in Russian: “Otpusti narod moy.”

They cried out in the Hebrew they were beginning to learn clandestinely, “Shelach et ami.”

And they cried out in English for the world to hear the famous Biblical words, “Let my people go.”

These Soviet Jews, few in number at first, were extraordinarily brave.

They challenged the power of the state not just of any state, but the might of the Soviet Union.

Couldn’t the Kremlin simply crush them, make examples of them? And hadn’t the word emigration been missing from the Soviet lexicon for decades?

Repatriation to Israel, as the first activists demanded, seemed absurd. After 1967, there weren’t even diplomatic ties.

And yet, and yet, they weren’t crushed. Their numbers grew. The word emigration surfaced. And Israel became the overwhelmingly preferred destination for those who began leaving in 1971.

Many paid a heavy price.

Thousands were not fortunate enough to get permission to leave. Either they ended up in limbo, often for many years, as refuseniks. Or they became Prisoners of Zion, jailed for their activism and beliefs.

But nothing deterred them. And they knew they were not alone.

Jews from around the world, unwilling to sit silently while millions were once again targeted, organized, rallied, petitioned, fasted, lobbied, advocated, and traveled.

Governments responded, most notably the United States and Israel, but others as well.

For our country, the plight of Soviet Jews became a central item on our bilateral agenda and for the Congress.

Israel, despite the absence of direct links with the USSR, found many ways to give hope and support to Jews in the Soviet Union.

The Helsinki Final Act, signed in 1975 by 35 nations, including the USSR and all of Europe, gave the Soviet Jewry movement an additional lever by calling for the protection of human rights.

And countless non-Jews responded.

From Martin Luther King, Jr. to Bayard Rustin, from Sister Ann Gillen to Father Robert Drinan, they represented many races, religions and creeds.

They stood up, their voices were heard, and their message was clear, “Let them live freely as Jews in the Soviet Union, or let them go.”

Try as the Soviet Union might, it could not quell the growing storm of protest.

If the Kremlin relaxed its stance on emigration, as it did in 1973 and 1979, more Jews rushed to seek permission to leave.

If it tightened its stance, as it did after the Moscow Olympics in 1980, then the global outcry intensified.

And so we come at last to the Reagan-Gorbachev era. Few could have predicted its auspicious outcome.

Certainly, when we were asked to organize a mass rally in Washington, on the eve of President Gorbachev’s first visit in 1987, little could we have foreseen the extraordinary events of the next four years.

And little could I have imagined, as the chief organizer for that rally, as the son of one of the last emigrants from the Soviet Union in the Stalin era, and as a person who was expelled from the USSR in 1974 because of my contact with Jews, that I would be here today in the presence of Mikhail Gorbachev.

We had about five weeks to organize the rally from scratch. The largest Jewish rally in Washington till then had only drawn 12-14,000 people, which didn’t give us much hope. Plus, it was slated for December, with its notoriously tricky weather. And, not for the first time, it wasn’t easy to get Jewish groups to put aside differences and unite around a shared goal.

But Natan Sharansky, released from the Gulag the previous year, kept pushing our sights higher. We set a goal of 250,000 people, never really believing we’d reach it. In fact, we exceeded it.

People from all walks of life came. They felt they had to be there. They understood that silence or indifference to human suffering is never an answer.

And they were joined by Vice President Bush and a parade of Washington dignitaries.

Not too long afterwards, President Gorbachev opened the gates, and the Jews came streaming out.

Of course, only President Gorbachev knows the degree to which this and other rallies and protests affected the decision-making of the Kremlin.

I do know that, for the mood and morale of Soviet Jews, they were vitally important.

The knowledge that the United States stood with them in their struggle was extraordinarily powerful. And there are few American officials who embody that support more than George Shultz.

No words are sufficient to describe the central role he played, or the message he sent, when, as secretary of state, he hosted a Passover Seder for Soviet Jewish activists at the American Embassy in Moscow in 1987.

At a moment when the world needs symbols of hope and possibility, today’s lunch couldn’t be better timed.

It’s a perfect reminder of the power of individuals to dream dreams and fulfill them, as Soviet Jews did.

And of the capacity of true statesmen to chart a brighter future and achieve it, as our two distinguished guests did so magnificently


China reacts sharply to new U.S. military report

March 26, 2009

The BBC reports Beijing reacted sharply toward a U.S. Defense Department report that says China’s rapid development of its armed forces is dramatically shifting the power balance in Asia.

A foreign ministry spokesperson for China said the report represented a “gross distortion of the facts” and “Cold War thinking.”

Here is the text of the report itself. The Pentagon’s annual report to Congress on China’s military power draws Beijing’s ire every year.