Prozessauftakt in Paris um den antisemitischen Mord an Ilan Halimi

April 29, 2009

Fotos: Gottesdienst am 23. Februar 2006 mit Frankreichs Staatspräsident Jacques Chirac, Ehefrau Bernadette Chirac und Premier Ministre Dominique de Villepin in der Pariser Grossen Synagoge de la Victoire zum Andenken an Ilan Halimi (© Fotos von A. Roiné, Pressestelle des Elysee-Palastes)

Ilan Halimi war ein 23-jähriger französischer Jude marokkanischer Herkunft, der am 21. Januar 2006 von einer Gang muslimischer Einwanderer, genannt die “Barbaren”, entführt und anschließend über einen Zeitraum von 24 Tagen zu Tode gefoltert wurde. Hauptmotiv des Verbrechens war Antisemitismus.

Die Tageszeitung Die Welt berichtet über den ersten Verhandlungstag im Pariser Schwurgericht im Prozess um den Mord an Ilan Halimi, der am 9. Februar 2007  in Jerusalem beerdigt wurde.

Zum Artikel.


Israel Independence Day 2009

April 29, 2009

independence-day61israelflag

Greetings from President Shimon Peres to the Jewish Communities around the world on the occasion of Israel’s 61st Anniversary

Jerusalem, April 27th, 2009

On the eve of Israel’s 61st Independence Day, alongside the celebrations, it is time for reflection and prayers for the well-being of the Jewish people, here in Israel and around the world. It is also a time to consolidate and strengthen the bonds that link the State of Israel and the Jewish Communities abroad, for we are one people with a common heritage, united in times of joy and united in darker hours.

The past year has witnessed Operation Cast Lead, launched by Israel in self-defense with the sole purpose of putting an end to the vicious and unjustifiable missile and rocket attacks on its citizens – innocent men, women and children – wreaking havoc and pain for the last eight years. Iran has continued to call for Israel’s annihilation, as it is set on developing nuclear weapons that threaten Israel’s very existence. The heavy clouds of the economic crisis that engulfed the world has also cast a long shadow over Israel’s skies, and affected thousands of households across the country. Anti-Semitism in the form of anti-Israel manifestations is on the rise and Gilad Schalit is still being held captive.

Since its inception Israel has had to grapple with complex issues and has always prevailed. Also today Israel will prevail. Its human resources abound and its creativity flourishes. Our vision of a bright and hopeful tomorrow for the Jewish people has not faltered. To that end, we must intensively invest in the future generations today through education – from the cradle to adulthood. We must continue to excel, and play a leadership role in the field of advanced science and technology, medicine and renewable sources of energy. It is essential that the mounting water shortage is surmounted by appropriate desalination projects, the desert greened and food secured. Job opportunities must be created and social gaps closed. Any divide in our society has to be bridged and our quest for peace must go on.  

This is our mission. From the ashes we have risen, and as we move into the seventh decade of the establishment of the State of Israel, there is much for which to be grateful and much for which to be proud.

Let us celebrate together Israel’s 61st anniversary, a Jewish people united and with unflagging hope in our hearts.

Yom Atzmaut Sameach!
Shimon Peres


61. Unabhängigkeitstag des Staates Israel

April 28, 2009

israelisborn

Heute Abend beginnen auf dem Herzl-Berg in Jerusalem die offiziellen Feierlichkeiten zum 61. Unabhängigkeitstag des Staates Israel. Mit der Staatsgründung im Jahre 1948 wurde die politische Souveränität des jüdischen Volkes nach 2000 Jahren Unterdrückung und Verfolgung wieder hergestellt.

Grußwort von Israels Präsident Shimon Peres an die Diasporagemeinden

 „Der Vorabend von Israels 61. Unabhängigkeitstag ist – neben den Feierlichkeiten – eine Zeit zur Besinnung und für Gebete für das Wohlergehen des jüdischen Volkes in Israel und auf der ganzen Welt. Es ist auch die Zeit, die Banden zwischen dem Staat Israel und den jüdischen Gemeinden im Ausland zu festigen und zu stärken. Denn wir sind ein Volk mit einem gemeinsamen Erbe, vereint in Zeiten von Freude und vereint in dunkleren Stunden.

Das vergangene Jahr hat die Operation Gegossenes Blei gesehen, die von Israel in Selbstverteidigung begonnen wurde und nur das einzige Ziel hatte, den bösartigen und nicht zu rechtfertigenden Raketenbeschuss auf Israels Bürger – unschuldige Männer, Frauen und Kinder – zu beenden, der in den vergangenen acht Jahren Verwüstung und Schmerz angerichtet hat.

Der Iran hat weiterhin zu Israels Zerstörung aufgerufen und strebt danach, Atomwaffen zu entwickeln, die Israels schiere Existenz gefährden. Die dunklen Wolken der Wirtschaftskrise, die die Welt einhüllen, haben auch einen langen Schatten auf Israel geworfen und Auswirkungen auf Tausende von Haushalten im ganzen Land gehabt. Der Antisemitismus in Form des Antiisraelismus wächst, und Gilad Shalit wird noch immer gefangen gehalten.

Seit seiner Gründung hat Israel stets mit komplexen Sachverhalten ringen müssen. Und immer hat sich Israel durchgesetzt. Auch heute wird Israel sich durchsetzen. Das Land hat enormes menschliches Potential, und seine Kreativität floriert. Unsere Vision einer strahlenden und hoffnungsvollen Zukunft für das jüdische Volk wankt nicht. Um sie zu verwirklichen, müssen wir heute intensiv in die zukünftigen Generationen investieren, durch Bildung von der Wiege bis zum Erwachsenenalter. Wir müssen weiterhin Hervorragendes leisten und eine Führungsrolle in Forschung und Technik, Medizin und erneuerbarer Energie übernehmen. Es ist von entscheidender Bedeutung, dass der wachsende Wassermangel durch geeignete Entsalzungsprojekte behoben, die Wüste begrünt und die Ernährung gesichert werden. Arbeitsplätze müssen geschaffen und soziale Klüfte geschlossen werden. Jegliche Teilung in unserer Gesellschaft muss überbrückt werden, und unser Streben nach Frieden muss weitergehen.

Dies ist unsere Mission. Wir sind aus der Asche auferstanden, und am Beginn des siebten Jahrzehnts der Existenz des Staates Israel gibt es viele Gründe dankbar und stolz zu sein.

Lassen Sie uns gemeinsam Israels 61. Geburtstag feiern, als ein vereintes jüdisches Volk mit unermüdlicher Hoffnung in unseren Herzen.

Yom Atzma’ut Sameach!”

***

Grußwort von Israels Ministerpräsident Binyamin Netanyahu an die Diasporagemeinden

„Heute feiert Israel seinen 61. Geburtstag. Jedes Jahr, in dem wir die Wiedergeburt des jüdischen Staates nach Jahrhunderten des Exils markieren, ist ein großer Grund zum Feiern.

Nach Jahrhunderten der Machtlosigkeit ist das jüdische Volk auf die Bühne der Geschichte zurückgekehrt und an seinen rechtmäßigen Platz unter den Nationen. Durch die Wiedergeburt Israels sind wir abermals in der Lage, über unser eigenes Schicksal und über unsere eigene Zukunft zu bestimmen.

Die vergangenen 61 Jahre haben gezeigt, was eine freie und unabhängige jüdische Nation zu erreichen vermag. Mit spärlichen Bodenschätzen haben wir ein ausgedörrtes Land zu neuem Leben erweckt und Millionen von Einwanderern aufgenommen. Durch Innovation und Entschlossenheit hat die Genialität unseres Volkes uns zu einem Spitzenreiter in Landwirtschaft, Medizin und Wissenschaft gemacht; unsere Kreativität hat eine High-Tech-Industrie hervorgebracht, die die Welt weiter in Erstaunen versetzt. Wir haben Frieden mit Ägypten und Jordanien geschlossen, und wir werden weiter nach Frieden mit allen unseren Nachbarn streben.

All das wurde erreicht, obwohl Israel seit 61 Jahren unter ständiger Bedrohung lebt. Bedauerlicherweise bleibt Israel bedroht. Ein iranisches Regime, das fieberhaft nach Atomwaffen trachtet, ruft dreist zu unserer Zerstörung auf. Die Terrororganisationen an unserer Süd- und Nordgrenze werden stärker Tag für Tag. Und eine Flut von Antisemitismus überschwemmt die zivilisierte Welt.

Um diesen Herausforderungen in den kommenden Jahren zu begegnen, wird die Einheit unseres Volkes, sowohl innerhalb als auch außerhalb Israels, wichtiger sein als je zuvor. Daher ist es existentiell wichtig, dass wir die Bande zwischen Israel und der Diaspora weiter stärken. Diese Bande sind eine Quelle wechselseitiger Stärke und eine kraftvolle Erinnerung an die einzigartige Rolle, die Israel auf der Welt und in der Geschichte unseres Volkes spielt.

Lassen Sie uns an diesem Unabhängigkeitstag stolz sein auf all das, was wir erreicht haben, und nach vorn blicken in eine Zeit von Sicherheit, Wohlstand und Frieden. Wenn wir als Brüder und Schwestern zusammenstehen, wenn wir mit Mut und Überzeugung zusammenstehen, wird diese Zeit gewiss kommen.

Chag Sameach!”

***

Grußwort von Israels Außenminister Avigdor Lieberman an die Diasporagemeinden

„Da wir unsere Freiheit und unsere 61-jährige Unabhängigkeit feiern, möchte ich mit Ihnen vor allem anderen meine tiefe und aufrichtige Sehnsucht nach Sicherheit, Frieden und Wohlergehen des jüdischen Volkes weltweit teilen.

Vor 61 Jahren einte die Unabhängigkeitserklärung das jüdische Volk, in Israel und auf der ganzen Welt, und jede andere Nation, die die Idee eines wiedergeborenen jüdischen Staates unterstützte. Der Geist des jüdischen Volkes half uns den Unabhängigkeitskrieg zu gewinnen und den Staat Israel zu gründen; er half uns über jene zu obsiegen, die uns zerstören wollten.

Wir haben einen hohen Preis für den Erhalt unserer Unabhängigkeit bezahlt. Ich spreche von den beinahe dutzendfachen Kriegen und den Tausenden von Terroranschlägen, die fast 25 000 Tote und Abertausende von Verletzten gefordert haben. Der Preis, den wir zahlen mussten, hat unsere Entschlossenheit gestärkt, unsere Feinde zu überwinden, und wir sind mehr denn je verpflichtet, die Bürger Israels zu schützen, wo immer sie leben.

Jetzt ist die Zeit für Einheit, daheim wie auch im Ausland, denn nur gemeinsam werden wir den Bedrohungen durch Terrorismus, antiisraelischen Hass und Antisemitismus begegnen können.

Wir müssen gemeinsam und solidarisch handeln, um die Fortdauer der Rechte und der Lebenskraft des jüdischen Volkes sowie seines Beitrags zur Verbesserung der Welt, in der wir leben, zu gewährleisten.

Trotz seiner geringen Größe ist Israel ein Land mit enormem Potential und unglaublichen Errungenschaften. Israel hat bewiesen, dass es ein globaler Pionier in einer Vielzahl von Bereichen geworden ist, von Wissenschaft und Wirtschaft bis zu internationaler Zusammenarbeit, und eine pulsierende Demokratie mit seiner Rede- und Religionsfreiheit. Gemeinsam verfügen der Staat Israel und die Juden der Diaspora über ein gewaltiges Potential, um zur Förderung des Wohlstands in globalem Maßstab beizutragen, und können auf der Grundlage unseres Erbes, unserer Werte und unseres Respekts vor jedermann die jüdische Existenz festigen.

Gewiss müssen wir einen friedlichen Umgang untereinander und einen wirklichen Frieden mit unseren Nachbarn vorantreiben. Gleichzeitig müssen wir die Maßnahmen ergreifen, die für den Schutz jüdischen Lebens,  wo immer es sein mag, für den Schutz von Israels Sicherheit und für den Schutz der Rechte des jüdischen Volkes in seinem Heimatland notwendig sind. Wir müssen die nächste Generation jüdischer Führungskräfte ermutigen und unterstützen, da wir seit der Gründung des Staates Israel Partner im zionistischen Unternehmen sind und nun Partner dabei sein müssen, unser Volk in eine strahlende und hellere Zukunft zu führen.

Ganz persönlich kann ich Ihnen aus erster Hand von der Stärke des zionistischen Unternehmens erzählen, und ich möchte jeden einzelnen von Ihnen einladen, sich uns hier in Israel anzuschließen, wo wir absolut an Träume glauben und sie wahr werden lassen.

Ich freue mich darauf, Sie in Ihren Gemeinden zu treffen und hier in Jerusalem, der ewigen und ungeteilten Hauptstadt des Staates Israel und des jüdischen Volkes.

Chag Sameach!”


World Health Organization increases pandemic threat level for Mexico influenza

April 28, 2009

Fears that the outbreak of Mexico influenza could morph into an international pandemic spread yesterday following the World Health Organization’s (WHO) announcement that it would raise its alert level to Level Four, indicating the disease has already shown sustained human-to-human transmission.

British broadcaster BBC quotes one WHO official who says it is “too late” to contain the spread of the virus from country to country and that officials should instead focus on mitigating its effects.

The Washington Post reports signs have emerged that the outbreak could be beginning to take a toll on the global economy: oil prices, the Mexican peso, and airline stocks all plunged.

Read full story.


Das Scheitern des neureichen Bürgertums

April 27, 2009

Der Erfolg ist eine Folgeerscheinung, niemals darf er zum Ziel werden. (Gustave Flaubert)

Kultur basiert auf einer Vielfalt von  Traditionen, die sich über Jahrtausende hinweg bewahrt haben. Neureichen können da nicht mitspielen; denen fehlt einfach die Grundlage. In einem Essay erschienen in der Neuen Zürcher Zeitung bestätigt der Soziologe und Mitherausgeber der Zeitschrift für Sozialwissenschaft Leviathan und von WestEnd. Neue Zeitschrift für Sozialforschung Prof. Dr. Sighard Neckel diese Vermutung. Mit der weltweiten Finanzkrise ist die ausschließlich an Geld und Status bemessene kulturlose Erfolgskultur der Neureichen definitiv gescheitert:

“Wenn heute unter den Vermögensbesitzern der Verlust von Renditen als persönliches Problem und psychische Krise ankommt, dann schlägt sich darin auch nieder, wie wirksam sich die Maximen des raschen finanziellen Erfolgs im Habitus des modernen Bürgertums bereits verankern konnten.”

Zum Artikel.


Fears About Pakistan’s Nuclear Weapons

April 27, 2009

As militancy grows in Pakistan, U.S. officials are increasingly concerned about the security of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons.

The Washington Times reports that the military controls the country’s nuclear stockpile, so any scenario that changes the balance of power in the military – from a coup to a Taliban takeover – could endanger the security of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons.

Read full story.


27 avril 1969: De Gaulle, la fin d’un règne

April 25, 2009

Le caractère, vertu des temps difficiles. (Charles de Gaulle, Le Fil de l’épée)

Communiqué de presse de la Fondation Charles de Gaulle

Vidéo de 52mn de Jean-Michel Djian

Paris – 24 avril 2009 – Appuyé par des archives rares et un récit historique cadencé ce film documentaire lève un voile sur l’une des personnalités les plus mythiques du XXème siècle.

Il y a 40 ans, Charles de Gaulle quittait le pouvoir sur un échec. Celui du référendum perdu du 27 avril 1969.

Mais c’est quelques mois auparavant, en mai 68, que le fondateur de la Vème république commence à perdre pied. Dès lors une succession de décisions incompréhensibles vont le conduire à sa perte.

L’a-t-il voulu ce départ improbable? Etait-il las des Français? Souhaitait-il simplement retourner à l’écriture s’affranchir définitivement de la vie politique?

Grâce à des témoins de proximité (l’Amiral Flohic son aide de camp, Pierre-Louis Blanc, son conseiller à la presse) c’est un de Gaulle pathétique et grandiose, âgé de 79 ans, que nous redécouvrons ici, un homme d’exception éclairé par des figures du gaullisme (Pierre Lefranc, Edgard Pisani, Jean Mauriac), ses biographes (Jean Lacouture, Eric Roussel) et un spécialiste de la Vème république Alfred Grosser.

De Gaulle, la fin d’un règne – Les coulisses du référendum du 27 avril 1969 – Un film de Jean-Michel Djian – Diffusion le 26 avril 2009 à 22h sur Public Sénat.

Producteur délégué: Les Films d’Ici
Producteur associé: Ina


Tyrants Get Another U.N. Platform

April 24, 2009

An op-ed on Durban II by Saad Eddin Ibrahim, Egyptian dissident and Harvard scholar

The Wall Street Journal, April 24, 2009

In 1948, the United Nations recognized the “inherent dignity” and “the equal and inalienable rights” of all human beings when it ratified the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Though this week’s U.N. conference in Geneva claimed to stand for these noble values, the world’s dictators were the real winners.

Too many official country delegates didn’t come to Geneva to stand up for the oppressed. They came to condemn the “colonial powers” of the West and Israel. In so doing, they sought to guard against exposing their own regimes’ human-rights records. While the delegates met in the official conference hall, the true defenders of human rights – civil society organizations and dissidents – gathered at their own conference where they examined today’s most pressing human-rights issues.

The deep divide between those who seek to expose human-rights abuses and those who only use the language of human rights as a shield is not new. It started during Rio’s Earth Summit in 1992, where, for the first time, the U.N. agreed to host two forums: one for government representatives and one for NGOs. The divide between government and NGOs, and between the Third World and the West, reached an apex in Durban, South Africa, in 2001. The central wedge issue was the treatment of the state of Israel.

Eight years ago, the Durban Declaration and Plan of Action (DDPA) singled out Israel for the harshest rebuke of any country. It was not that Israel was totally innocent of charges about its continued occupation of the Palestinians. But the vehemence with which the delegates issued this condemnation, and their manner of voting on it – the delegates cheered “Down With Israel” – led many to conclude that the DPPA bordered on anti-Semitism.

What compounded this sentiment is that most of the governments that pile on to condemn Israel and the so-called “neocolonial” West have terrible human-rights records. These include tyrannical regimes such as Zimbabwe, Myanmar, Libya, Iran, Syria and Egypt (my home country). Their atrocious violations have been widely reported by organizations like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.

But members of like-minded voting blocs – such as the Organization of the Islamic Conference, the Organization of African Unity and the League of Arab States – comprise more than two-thirds of the U.N. membership votes. Together, they can railroad through any resolution, no matter how absurd. It was this Afro-Islamic-Arab bloc that made sure Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad would be the keynote speaker in the opening session of this year’s U.N. World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia, and Related Intolerance.

Rightly anticipating that the Geneva conference would be a forum for anti-Western and anti-Israel propaganda, the U.S. and a score of Western democracies boycotted the conference entirely. More countries – such as Britain, Germany and Holland – walked out of the conference when Mr. Ahmadinejad delivered his usual anti-Israel tirade, calling the Jewish state a “most cruel and racist regime.”

Unfortunately, lost in this circus were the real victims who suffer at the hands of autocratic and theocratic regimes. The most vulnerable groups – the poor, women, children, migrant and stateless people – were ignored this week in Geneva.

Though the decision to boycott the conference was understandable, I believe it was a mistake. The U.S. and other democracies should have attended and fought back. An overwhelming majority of mankind would have applauded their moral courage.

I spent three years alone in an Egyptian prison for the crime of “tarnishing Egypt’s reputation.” Today, prisoners like Roxana Saberi in Iran languish in jails for crimes they did not commit. It is the job of true human-rights advocates to strengthen such victims by standing up to dictators.

Rather than letting Mr. Ahmadinejad steal the headlines, I would have liked to have seen the universally popular President Barack Obama take on the hypocrites who speak in the name of Islam and want to sacrifice such basic rights as freedom of speech by outlawing “Islamophobia.” Mr. Obama could have rescued the human-rights agenda from those who have hijacked it.

Though it didn’t happen in Geneva, I look forward to a campaign, led by Mr. Obama, to return the cause of human rights to its rightful owners.

Mr. Ibrahim was incarcerated by the Mubarak regime from 2000 to 2003. He is now a visiting professor at Harvard.


Fidel Castro’s Comeback

April 23, 2009

Cuba’s former President Fidel Castro, in a new article published in Granma, says U.S. President Barack Obama misinterpreted comments from Fidel’s brother, Cuban President Raul Castro. Fidel Castro repelled the idea that Cuba is ready to free political prisoners or lower taxes on remittance payments.

ABC News‘  White House correspondent discusses what Fidel’s comments might suggest for U.S.-Cuba talks in a blog post.

Read full story.


Einfallslose mediale Panikmache um die Finanzkrise

April 22, 2009

Nie wird soviel gelogen wie nach der Jagd, im Krieg und vor Wahlen. (Bismarck)

Eine Glosse von Narcisse Caméléon, Ressortleiter Deppologie der HIRAM7 REVIEW und engstirniger Gründer der A(E)del-Partei

Die andauernde Finanzkrise ist gewiss ein ernst zu nehmendes Thema. Panikmache in der Öffentlichkeit und die offensichtlich bewusste Erzeugung eines völlig unzutreffenden Bildes von der Gesamtlage sind aber ganz sicher nicht sehr hilfreich, wenn es darum geht, nachhaltige Konzepte zur Lösung dieser Krise zu erarbeiten und umzusetzen.

Die Presse – selbst von der Krise betroffen – braucht plakative Überschriften, um Leser zu gewinnen; das gilt auch für die Wochenzeitung Der Spiegel, der plötzlich zur Boulevard-Presse mutiert, in dem das Hamburger Blatt so titelt: “Wirtschafts-Absturz macht Merkels Krisenrunde ratlos“.

Die Protagonisten des öffentlichen Schmierentheaters haben einen gefährlichen Brandbeschleuniger für die Finanzkrise unterschätzt: Die Psychologie. Die Angst wird zum Massenphänomen, das uns kollektiv in Atem hält, und dazu beiträgt, dass die spaßlose Lethargie namens Finanzkrise sich verschlimmert, und Bevormunderer und Weltverbesserer uns mit noch mehr Ratschlägen tyrannisierendamit ein paar Milliardäre, auf Kosten der Steuerzahler und mittels einer Umverteilung nach oben, künstlich am Leben erhalten werden, entgegen jegliche marktwirtschaftliche Logik.

Eigentliches Ziel dieser billigen Panikmache ist nichts anderes als uns das nächste “Konjukturprogramm”, sprich Geldsegen für die  Verursacher der Finanzkrise, zu verkaufen.

Wollen die Medien und die Politik die Bürger für dumm verkaufen? Alle Jahre wieder schon, besonders im Superwahljahr 2009 (Europawahl, Bundestagswahl, Bundespräsidentenwahl, Landtagswahlen in Hessen, Sachsen, Thüringen, Brandenburg, Saarland und Kommunalwahlen in acht Bundesländern)…


New NATO Members: Security Consumers or Producers?

April 22, 2009

The issue of burden-sharing in NATO is as relevant today as it was when the alliance was originally founded in 1949. A new study written by Colonel Joel R.  Hillison, current Director of National Security Studies in the Department of Distance Education at the U.S. Army War College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, examines how well new NATO members are contributing to the alliance.

Lessons learned apply directly to current burden-sharing debates and provide insights into future burden-sharing opportunities and challenges.

Read full story.


France-Amérique – le journal français des États-Unis

April 22, 2009

france-amerique

Plongez chaque mois au cœur de l’actualité franco-américaine et décryptez les enjeux du monde grâce aux reportages et enquêtes de France-Amérique. Prenez rendez-vous avec les grands acteurs de la scène culturelle et politique française. Découvrez les nouvelles tendances et laissez-vous surprendre par les entrepreneurs français qui innovent aux États-Unis.

France-Amérique, le trait d’union indispensable entre la France et les États-Unis.

abo


U.N. Durban Review Conference Final Declaration is biased

April 22, 2009

It is highly disappointing, but not surprising, that more than 100 nations attending the Durban II Racism Conference in Geneva overwhelmingly voted to approve a final declaration that is biased. In a replay of the 2001 original United Nations World Conference against Racism, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance, Israel is again the only nation singled out.

The conference, which is a follow-up to the 2001 United Nations World Conference against Racism, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance, was meant to address those human rights issues and their violators. However, both the Durban Review Conference and its predecessor degenerated into anti-Israel summits. The 2009 declaration reaffirms the conclusions from the original Durban conference. That document asserted that Palestinians are subject to Israeli “racism.”

The expectation that this anti-Israel declaration would again be the outcome prompted Israel, Canada, the United States of America, Italy, Germany, Australia, Holland, New Zealand, Czech Republic, and Poland to withdraw.

Libya helped to seal the negative outcome of the conference. Chosen as the chair of the conference, despite a long history of supporting terrorism and violating human rights, Libya yesterday engineered the swift movement of the declaration from the drafting committee and adoption of the preparatory document of last week.

Any hope for a better outcome document was dashed with an address to the conference by one who calls for the destruction of and supports terrorism against the State of Israel, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Many nations walked out in protest on April 20, 2009, in the face of his hateful, anti-Semitic, anti-Israel tirade.

The 23 European Union nations delegates walked out during Ahmadinejad speech, in which he said that the foundation of the State of Israel rendered “an entire nation homeless under the pretext of Jewish suffering” in order “to establish a totally racist government in occupied Palestine.”

***

Quotes from Ahmadinejad’s speech in Geneva

[/source]

 

“The victorious powers [of the world wars] call themselves the conquerors of the world, while ignoring or down-treading the rights of other nations by the imposition of oppressive laws and international arrangements.”

“Following World War II, they resorted to making an entire nation homeless on the pretext of Jewish suffering. They sent migrants from Europe, the United States and other parts of the world in order to establish a totally racist government in the occupied Palestine. In compensation for the dire consequences of racism in Europe, they helped bring to power the most cruel and repressive racist regime in Palestine.”

“It is all the more regrettable that a number of Western governments and the United States have committed themselves to defending those racist perpetrators of genocide, whilst the awakened consciences and free-minded people of the world condemn aggression, brutality and the bombardment of civilians of Gaza.”

“[Conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan were] a clear example of egocentrism, racism, discrimination or infringement upon the dignity and independence of nations. Today, the human community is facing a kind of racism which has tarnished the image of humanity. In the beginning of the third millennium, the word Zionism personifies racism. [It] falsely resorts to religion and abuses religious sentiments to hide hatred.”

“Efforts must be made to put an end to the abuse by Zionists and their supporters of political and international means…Governments must be encouraged and supported in the fight aimed at eradicating this barbaric racism and moving towards reforming the current international mechanisms.”

“You are all aware of the conspiracy of some powers and Zionist circles against the goals and objectives of this conference… It should be recognized that boycotting such a session is a true indication of supporting the blatant example of racism.”


Durban II Hatefest

April 17, 2009

A statement by Anne Bayefsky at the Third Substantive Preparatory Meeting of the Durban Review Conference.

April 17, 2009
United Nations, Palais des Nations, Geneva, Switzerland

The eyes of millions of victims of racism, xenophobia and intolerance are upon YOU, the representatives of states and the United Nations. And instead of hope you have given them despair. Instead of truth you have handed them diplomatic double-talk. Instead of combating anti-Semitism you have handed them a reason for Jews to fear UN-driven hatemongering on a global scale.

The Durban conference – allegedly dedicated to combating racism, anti-Semitism and other forms of intolerance – will open April 20th on the anniversary of the birth of Adolf Hitler without agreement on even so much as remembering the Holocaust and the war against the Jews. Your draft words on the Holocaust – the very foundation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights – have been narrowed to the barest mention from previous versions. And if the minor reference survives at all – it will be a testament to your interest in Jews that died 60 years ago, while tolerating and encouraging the murder of Jews in the here and now.

Furthermore, the draft before you demonizes the Jewish state of Israel and then has the audacity to pretend to care about anti-Semitism in a single word buried among 17 pages. Anti-Semitism means discrimination against the Jewish people. Since it is evident that almost none of you have the courage to say it, the face of modern anti-Semitism IS the UN – your – discrimination against Israel, the embodiment of the Jewish people’s right to self-determination.

Over and over again we have heard a massive misinformation campaign about the content of these proceedings and the draft before you. We have heard the tale that this draft does not single out Israel, that the hate has been removed, that the fault of the anti-Semitism at Durban I was that of NGOs while states and the UN were blameless.

Perhaps you think that journalists and victims will not bother to read for themselves the Durban Declaration adopted by some governments. There is only one state mentioned in it – Israel. There is only one state associated with racist practices in it – Israel. And yet the very first thing that this draft before you does is to reaffirm that abomination, abomination for Jews and Arabs living in Israel’s free and democratic society, and for all the victims of racism ignored therein. Lawyers call it incorporation by reference when they hope nobody reads the small print. The propaganda stops here. We have read it. We understand the game. And we decry the ugly effort to repeat the Durban agenda to isolate and defeat Israel politically, as every effort to do so militarily for decades has failed.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Chair of this Preparatory Committee also told us this week that the Durban Declaration in all its aspects is a consensus text. Perhaps they are unfamiliar with the Canadian reservations made in Durban in 2001 which state categorically that the Middle East language was outside the conference’s jurisdiction and not agreed. Perhaps they failed to notice that one of the world’s greatest democracies, the United States, voted with its feet and walked out of the Durban I hatefest. The Durban Declaration has never represented a global consensus among free and democratic nations. When the head of the Islamic conference treats Durban as a bible, in their words, it is more accurately a defamation of religions.

This week you decided which states ought to serve in a leadership role at next week’s conference. Among them are some of the world’s leading practitioners of racism, not those interested in ending it. You have also decided to hand a global megaphone to the President of a state which advocates genocide and denies the Holocaust.

So in a state of shock and dismay we address ourselves not to the human rights abusers that glorify the Durban Declaration or its next incarnation, but to democracies – and we ask: Will Germany sit on Hitler’s birthday and listen to the speech of an advocate of genocide against the Jewish people and grant legitimacy to the forum which tolerates his presence? What about the United Kingdom, the birthplace of the Magna Carta? Or France that helped to ship last generation’s Jews to crematoriums?

You could have fought racism. You chose instead to fight Jews. You could have promoted the universal standards against racism already in existence. You chose instead to diminish their importance in the name of alleged cultural preferences. You could have protected freedom of expression. You chose instead to undermine it by twisted concepts of incitement. You could have brought victims of racism together in a common cause. You chose instead to pit victims against each other in an ugly struggle for meager recognition.

For those democracies that remain under these circumstances you are ultimately responsible for what can only be called an appalling disservice to real victims of racism, xenophobia and related intolerance around the world.

About the author: Anne Bayefsky holds a B.A., M.A. and LL.B. from the University of Toronto and an M.Litt. from Oxford University. She is a barrister and solicitor of the Ontario Bar, and senior fellow at the Hudson Institute as well as professor at Columbia University Law School in New York, where her areas of expertise include international human rights law, equality rights, and constitutional human rights law. Visit her website here.


Russen verlassen die französische Riviera

April 14, 2009

Diese höchst erfreuliche Botschaft überbringt die deutsche Tageszeitung Handelsblatt. Sie schlappern in Badeschlapfen und Trainingsanzügen durch die teuersten Luxushotels. Sie haben keinen Stil, riechen streng mafiös. Die traditionsreiche südfranzösische Nizza hätten sie beinahe praktisch übernommen. G’tt sei Dank ist es jetzt Schluss damit, dank der globalen Finanzkrise. Um so besser, meint HIRAM 7 REVIEW, ohne französischen nationalen Stolz, dennoch mit einer offenen Schadensfreude über das Scheitern der geschmacklosen Neureichen, die es nicht verdient haben, das schöne Südfrankreich zu genießen. Vive la France!

“Den russischen Oligarchen nämlich, die bisher zu den wichtigsten Käufern in der Region gehörten, geht das Geld aus. Dabei war den ‘Novarich’, den neureichen Russen, die sich nach dem Vorbild der russischen Aristokraten aus dem 19. Jahrhundert an der französischen Rivera erholten, noch bis vor kurzem keine Immobilie zu teuer. Als Folge kletterten die Preise für die begehrten Prestigeobjekte an der blauen Küste steil in die Höhe. Doch mit dem Absturz der Börsenkurse seit September 2008, in dessen Verlauf so manches russische Vermögen um zwei Drittel schmolz, ist der Höhenflug vorerst gestoppt.”

Zum Artikel.

 Die französische Riviera, musikalisch gedichtet… cartecotedazur

UN AIR D’ÉTÉ
paroles: Pierre Bertrand, Pierrette Bertrand
musique: Pierre Bertrand

Abandonné ma cage
Attiré par la plage
J’ai roulé jusqu’ici

Sous un ciel sans nuage
J’ai le coeur en voyage
J’ai envie de ma vie

Je ressassais des idées sombres
Du côté du mur à l’ombre
Tout a changé, plus rien n’est pareil
J’ai sauté du côté du soleil

Un air d’été
Tout léger, tout léger, tout léger
Comme une fleur en plein coeur de l’hiver
M’a rendu cette envie de valser

Un air d’été
Tout léger, tout léger, tout léger
Comme une bouteille retrouvée dans la mer
M’a rendu le courage d’aimer

Prière de ne pas déranger
Je suis en vacances…

J’ suis bien dans ma peau
Heureux à nouveau
Prière de ne pas déranger
Je suis en vacances…

Je m’endormais dans mon coin
Je ne rêvais plus à rien
Mon chien se mourait d’ennui

Je me traînais les pieds
En retard à l’arrivée
J’éprouvais mes amis

Depuis je ne parle plus je chante
Je ne marche plus je danse
Tout a changé et plus rien n’est pareil
J’ai sauté du côté du soleil


Les Métamorphoses de Jacques Dutronc, enfant terrible de la chanson française

April 11, 2009

“Il faut plaisanter sur tout. Il n’y a que les concierges qui disent: La plaisanterie a des limites”. Jacques Dutronc, Pensées et répliques

Nanti d’un regard malicieux, revêche et ironique, auteur et interprète de chansons au vitriol mais néanmoins fantasmagoriques et tendres, flanqué d’un style maintes fois imité mais jamais égalé, Jacques Dutronc demeure, en dépit de ses presque 66 ans, qu’il fêtera le 28 avril prochain, l’archétype même de l’anarchiste de droite, mais aussi et surtout le maître incontesté de l’humour iconoclaste et intelligent de la scène musicale française des quatre dernières décennies. Bravo l’artiste!

jacques-dutronc-1966


The Myths of U.N. Durban Review Conference

April 10, 2009
 
 
 

 

 

 

hamasunhumanrightscouncil

The Algerian-chaired United Nations committee is seeking to rewrite international human rights law by definining any criticism of Islamic dogma as a human rights violation, and is endorsed by Article 30 of the current Durban II draft; see UN Watch speech below.

Click also here for New York Times video documenting racist treatment of two million black African migrants by Libyan government of Colonel Muammar Qaddafi, chair of Durban II conference planning committee.

***

Testimony by Hillel Neuer, UN Watch executive director, before the United Nations Human Rights Council

 
 
 
 
 
 

10th session of the Human Rights Council (Geneva, March 2009)

Thank you, Mr. President.

Racism is evil. How can we truly fight it?

For starters, by clearing up three myths about next month’s conference.

Myth Number One: that the new draft removes all pernicious provisions.

The truth is that many were removed – thanks only to the credible threat of an E.U. walk-out – but red lines continue to be breached:

  • Articles 10, 30 and 132 encourage the Islamic states’ campaign to ban any criticism of religion.
  • Articles 60 to 62 demonize the West, addressing only its sins of slavery, yet saying nothing of the massive Arab trade in African slaves, thereby politicizing that which should never be politicized.
  • Article 1 breaches President Obama’s red line by reaffirming what his government called the quote, “flawed 2001 Durban Declaration”, a text that stigmatized Israel with false accusations.

Myth Number Two: that going to the conference means dialogue.

In truth, we’ve been negotiating non-stop since August 2007. Going to the conference means endorsing a particular text, and risks legitimizing the greatest perpetrators of racism.

Ironically, many who now claim to support dialogue, are Mideast states belonging to the Arab Boycott Office in Damascus, or radical left campaigners who call for equally bigoted boycotts in the West.

Myth Number Three: that Durban 2 will help millions of victims.

But can anyone name a single victim of racism who was helped by the 2001 conference and countless follow-up committees?

Did Durban help a single victim of Sudan’s racist campaign of mass killing, rape and displacement against millions in Darfur?

Did it help the women of Saudi Arabia subjected to systematic discrimination?

Did it help gays executed by Iran, even as President Ahmadinejad says there are no gays in Iran?

Did it help the 2 million black African migrants in Libya, who, as we read in last week’s International Herald Tribune, say they are treated like slaves and animals?

To truly fight racism, we need to hold perpetrators to account. Tragically, Durban 2 does the opposite.

Thank you, Mr. President.


CIA announces end of secret prisons

April 10, 2009

flag_of_the_cia

Leon Edward Panetta, the new director of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, said yesterday in a message to CIA employees that the agency would shut down its remaining secret prisons overseas, The New York Times reports.

Secret CIA prisons, or “black sites”, had become one of the more controversial tactics used by the George W. Bush administration in its counterterrorism strategy. Three prisoners at CIA prisons were famously subjected to “waterboarding” in 2002 and 2003, and a report by the International Red Cross released this week detailed the treatment of fourteen prisoners at the facilities and called them “inhuman” .

Here is the text of the report.

***

Statement to Employees by Director of the Central Intelligence Agency Leon E. Panetta on the CIA’s Interrogation Policy and Contracts

April 9, 2009

As you know, there is continuing media and congressional interest in reviewing past rendition, detention, and interrogation activities that took place dating back to 2002. I have also been asked about contract interrogators and detention facilities. Today, I sent a letter to our Congressional oversight committees outlining the Agency’s current policy regarding interrogation of captured terrorists, including the policy on the use of contractors in the process.

  • CIA’s aggressive global pursuit of al-Qaida and its affiliates continues undiminished. Agency officers are working tirelessly – and successfully – to disrupt operations in strict accord with the President’s Executive Order of January 22, 2009, concerning detention and interrogation.
  • CIA officers, whose knowledge of terrorist organizations is second to none, will continue to conduct debriefings using a dialog style of questioning that is fully consistent with the interrogation approaches authorized and listed in the Army Field Manual. CIA officers do not tolerate, and will continue to promptly report, any inappropriate behavior or allegations of abuse. That holds true whether a suspect is in the custody of an American partner or a foreign liaison service.
  • Under the Executive Order, the CIA does not employ any of the enhanced interrogation techniques that were authorized by the Department of Justice from 2002 to 2009.
  • No CIA contractors will conduct interrogations.
  • CIA no longer operates detention facilities or black sites and has proposed a plan to decommission the remaining sites. I have directed our Agency personnel to take charge of the decommissioning process and have further directed that the contracts for site security be promptly terminated. It is estimated that our taking over site security will result in savings of up to $4 million.
  • CIA retains the authority to detain individuals on a short-term transitory basis. None have occurred since I have become Director. We anticipate that we would quickly turn over any person in our custody to U.S. military authorities or to their country of jurisdiction, depending on the situation.

CIA’s focus will remain where the American people expect it to be-on the mission of protecting the country today and into the future. We will do that even as we cooperate with Congressional reviews of past interrogation practices. Officers who act on guidance from the Department of Justice – or acted on such guidance previously – should not be investigated, let alone punished. This is what fairness and wisdom require.

CIA will continue to honor the law as we defend the United States as we have done since the beginning of this program. That is what the men and women of this Agency demand. Together, we can, and will, do no less. Thank you for your service and dedication to protecting this nation.

Finally, let me take this opportunity to wish you and your families a Happy Easter and Passover.

Leon E. Panetta


AIPAC Policy Conference 2009

April 10, 2009

MAY 3-5, 2009 • WASHINGTON, D.C.

AIPAC Policy Conference 2009 kicks off with major addresses by top American and Israeli leaders shaping the U.S.-Israel relationship, including Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.

Plus, James Woolsey, former CIA director and Robert Satloff, executive director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, explore the myriad foreign policy challenges facing the United States of America, Israel and the world. 

Click here to register.


Afpak: Richard Holbrooke’ U.S. Strategy for South Asia

April 8, 2009

Richard Holbrooke, the U.S. special representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan, opened meetings with Indian officials today in an attempt to win support for President Barack Obama’s strategy to bring peace to the region.

Al-Jazeera reports Richard Holbrooke will meet with India’s foreign minister, to counter concerns from India that Washington favours Pakistan.

Pakistani officials have disputed that Washington shows disproportionate support for India in its bilateral relations with Pakistan, and have criticized the parameters of Holbrooke’s “Af-Pak” mission, saying a more productive assignment would include mediation of the India-Pakistan conflict in Kashmir, which foreign policy experts say is inextricably linked with terrorism in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Read full story.


A Question for the Economists

April 7, 2009

In an op-ed in The Weekly Standard, Harvey C. Mansfield, Professor of political science at Harvard University, wrote on the failure of economists to predict crises.

“One group of those involved in the present financial crisis has so far escaped notice – the economists. They are masters in the science of prediction, but as a group, if not to a man, they failed to predict a crisis that has wiped out nearly half the wealth invested in the stock market and elsewhere (measured of course from the peak). The economists did no better than their unscientific rivals, the stock pickers, who are in the business of prediction.

Perhaps we need a second look not merely at the existing models by which economists predict but at the very idea of prediction as the goal of social science. Economists had been in the habit of asserting that they had come a long way since the Depression, that such an event could not happen again. Yet people are now actually speaking of another Depression as possible. Maybe we know how to avoid the Depression we had, but what about a new one with a new character we do not recognize? Isn’t our present crisis new? Isn’t every crisis new – since surprise is the essence of crisis? If prediction were reliable, we would be prepared for every chance, and our lives would be crisis-free and much duller.”

Read full story.


Passover 2009 & four questions for a financial crisis

April 5, 2009
the_jews_passover    
“The Jews’ Passover”-facsimile of a miniature from a 15th century missal, ornamented with paintings of the School of Van Eyck

No Bread
by Rabbi Benjamin Blech

What insights does Passover provide into our current financial crisis that can help alleviate our collective pain?

A fresh look at the Seder’s traditional four questions offers much food for thought around your Seder table.

1. Why is it that in all other years we eat bread and matzah, but this year we eat only matzah?

Bread is the staff of life. Matzah is the symbol of poverty. To make money, in slang, is to “make some bread.” To be blessed with much is to “have a lot of dough.” But this year as we look at our bank accounts, our retirement plans and our depleted wallets, we are all too often reminded of the “bread of affliction” our ancestors subsisted on in the land of Egypt.

Why did this happen to us? Perhaps it’s because God wants us to understand a biblical truth that we seem to have forgotten. “Man does not live by bread alone” the Torah teaches. We dare not confine the strivings of our lives solely to accumulating money. We must not make material gain our sole priority. There comes a time when we have to learn to negate our overriding emphasis on “making more bread.” While society stresses wealth as the primary measure of personal worth, Judaism insists that once a year on Passover, we demonstrate the moral courage to renounce the power of bread as the ultimate ruler of our lives. Surrounded by our families we declare we can survive without the trappings of luxury.

It’s ironic that one of the wealthiest men in the world didn’t learn this lesson until it was too late. Sam Walton was the multibillionaire CEO of Wal-Mart, the fourth largest US Corporation. As he was lying on his deathbed, he struggled to get out his last three words on earth. He had given his life for his business. In that area, he succeeded beyond anyone’s wildest dreams. Yet, it was at a price. He hardly spent any time with his wife, his children, and his grandchildren. He didn’t allow himself the moments of loving interaction, of playing and laughing with his loved ones. His final three words? “I blew it!” He had the billions, but by his own admission he had failed. Maybe we now should be thinking about and thanking God on Passover for this important reminder.

2. Why is it that in all other years we eat all kinds of vegetables, but this year we eat only bitter herbs?

Why does a good God sometimes make our lives not better, but bitter? The Jews asked it in Egypt with regard to their servitude. We ask it today with regard to our dwindling financial assets. It is a problem that every believer has to face in one form or another.

We can learn a great deal from a story that is told about the saintly rabbi, the Chafetz Chaim. Meeting a former student after many years, the rabbi asked about his welfare. The student, in difficult straits, responded, “Unfortunately things are very bad.”

The rabbi immediately shot back, “God forbid, you are not permitted to say that. Do not ever declare that things are bad. Say instead they are bitter.”

Perplexed, the student asked, “Bad, bitter – what’s the difference? My life is terrible.”

“No, my son,” the rabbi answered, “there is all the difference in the world between them. A medicine may be bitter but it isn’t bad.”

True faith requires an understanding that life often presents us with challenges – bitter moments that temporarily leave us with an acrid taste, but help us to grow, to mature and to eventually become better human beings.

God planned the Egyptian experience for a purpose. In Deuteronomy He refers to it as “a fiery furnace” – the way in which precious metals were purified. As harsh as it seemed at the time, it was all for a reason. The Torah tells us that the Jews who had endured and survived were all the better for it. And that too must be our hope as we confront our contemporary crisis. Yes, it is bitter – just like a medicine that will make us better.

3. Why in all other years do we not dip even once, but in this year dip two times?

The past led many of us to believe that we could expect no dips in the economy. The good times would always roll without interruption.

It was in 1929, just before the Great Depression, that many of the brilliant economists of the time predicted that the “age of cycles” was over. The rules that limited human progress were no longer applicable. The stock market could now only go up and up. They claimed unlimited wealth was inevitable. The hubris of man clearly needed to be humbled. The crash of the 30s silenced those who had previously put all their trust in “my might and my power.”

The prognosticators of our new millennium proved to be just as blind as their predecessors. They, too, assured us the old rules no longer applied, that we could spend without regard to the future, that we need not save because the value of our homes would only keep rising, that in short we were invincible and almighty.

In a striking passage, the Talmud explains why Sarah, Rebecca and Rachel were all barren from birth, requiring divine intervention in order to conceive. It was, the rabbis teach us, because “God desires the prayers of his beloved.” When things come too easily to us we fall victim to a sense of entitlement. We think we no longer have to pray for blessings to come to us if they arrive even without being asked for. Prayers answered before they are spoken deny us the need and the opportunity to express them. Blessings too freely granted can also make us lose sight of our requirement for gratitude.

So we have dips in our fortunes. The good news is that they need not be permanent if we learn from them. All they ask of us is that when times are once again good we don’t forget the source of our blessings.

4. Why is it that in all other years we eat either sitting or reclining, but in this year we eat only reclining?

To recline is to lean. And this year there are many who are forced to lean on others for assistance. The demands placed this year on charitable organizations are unprecedented. No one can simply sit back comfortably in his or her own chair, insensitive to the suffering of those around them.

That, in fact, is the very reason God tells us he forced our ancestors to spend all that time in Egypt before he brought them back to the Promised Land. “Be kind to the poor and to the stranger,” He commands us, “because you yourselves were strangers in the land of Egypt.” The purpose of Egyptian slavery was meant to teach us to empathize with the oppressed in every generation. We know what it means to be poor, to be hungry, to be mistreated. We were schooled in misery precisely so that we would not fail in our mission to be a light to the world, teaching compassion and kindness.

“This is the bread of affliction – let all those who are hungry come and eat with us, let all those who are needy come and share our festive meal with our family.” This is the way we begin our Passover Seder. It is the most fitting introduction to the holiday whose very story took place in order to teach us this lesson.

We all strive to be happy. We search for different ways to achieve this goal. What is the best way to secure it? We have tried so many different ways unsuccessfully. Social scientists have recently come to a remarkable conclusion. A recent issue of the prestigious Science magazine reveals that studies prove helping others is perhaps the most surefire way to gain personal happiness.

Strange then, isn’t it, that we spend so much of our days dedicated to getting, when we would be so much better off if we put more of our efforts into giving. We could all learn much from Michael Bloomberg, the self-made billionaire founder of the Bloomberg financial information firm and New York Mayor, who donated $235 million in 2008, making him the leading individual living donor in the United States, according to The Chronicle of Philanthropy. In explaining his philosophy, he said he intends to give away most of his fortune, because “the best measure of a philanthropist is that the check he leaves to the undertaker bounces.” And that will insure that he dies a very happy man.

These explanations may not resolve our pressing contemporary problems, but they do permit us to realize that there are profound issues implicit in the divine reaction to our difficulties that transcend our understanding. Our struggle for meaning must always be matched with our firm belief that the God who cared enough for us to perform miracles in days of old continues to love us in the same measure to help us overcome our present crises. That is, after all, why we celebrate Passover.

About the author: Rabbi Benjamin Blech is the author of 12 highly acclaimed books, including Understanding Judaism: The basics of Deed and Creed. He is a professor of Talmud at Yeshiva University and the Rabbi Emeritus of Young Israel of Oceanside which he served for 37 years and from which he retired to pursue his interests in writing and lecturing around the globe. He is also the author of If God Is Good, Why Is The World So Bad?

Reprinted with kindly permission of Aish HaTorah International.


Prospects for U.S.-Russian Security Cooperation

April 4, 2009

U.S.-Russian relations seem to be at an impasse. However, given these nations’ power, standing, and nuclear capability, dialogue will be resumed at some point.

An analysis of the prospects for and conditions favoring cooperation is an urgent task – crucial precisely because current relations are so difficult.

A new report edited by Dr. Stephen J. Blank, professor of National Security Affairs at the U.S. Army War College, offers both a tribute to a vision of political order based upon prior cooperation and a call to revitalize the relationship.

“Russia, despite claims made for and against its importance, remains, by any objective standard, a key player in world affairs. It possesses this standing by virtue of its geographical location, Eurasia, its proximity to multiple centers of international tension and rivalry, its possession of a large conventional and nuclear force, its energy assets, and its seat on the UN Security Council. Beyond those attributes, it is an important barometer of trends in world politics, e.g., the course of democratization in the world. Furthermore, if Russia were so disposed, it could be the abettor and/or supporter of a host of negative trends in the world today. Indeed, some American elites might argue that it already is doing so.”

Read full story.


Benjamin Netanyahu sworn in as new prime minister of the State of Israel

April 1, 2009

benjamin_netanyahu

Benjamin Netanyahu has been sworn in as Israeli prime minister and head of a 30-member Cabinet, the largest in Israel’s history.

The Knesset approved by a 69-45 vote Netanyahu’s coalition, which includes his Likud Party, the nationalist Yisrael Beitenu, the ultra-Orthodox Shas and a small religious faction, as well as the center-left Labor Party of defense minister Ehud Barak, who will maintain his post. Avigdor Lieberman, the leader of Yisrael Beitenu, was sworn in as Israel’s new foreign minister.

In his address to the Knesset, the 59-year-old Netanyahu said the biggest threat Israel faced was the possibility of “a radical regime armed with nuclear weapons” – a reference to Iran. “It is shameful that decades after the Holocaust, calls by Iranian leaders to destroy Israel are greeted with indifference by the world,” he declared. “Contrary to what happened during the last century, today we have the means to defend ourselves.”

The Likud leader also said peace with the Palestinians was possible, while making no mention of a future Palestinian state. “We will carry out peace negotiations with the Palestinian Authority with a view to reaching a final accord. Under the final accord, the Palestinians will have all the rights to govern themselves except those that can put in danger the security and existence of the state of Israel,” Netanyahu to the Israeli parliament in his investiture speech.

It will be Netanyahu’s second stint as prime minister, following his premiership in from 1996 to 1999. He succeeds Ehud Olmert, who resigned last year following allegations of corruption and embezzlement.