The singer was due to perform a show on June 3, which would have been the biggest date on the Asian leg of her tour, but has had her application for a work permit rejected by local police after Islamic groups kicked up a fuss.
Boy Rafli Amar, a spokesperson for Jakarta police said the permit had been denied after protests against the singer's sexualised image, provocative dance moves and allegations she could underline the country's moral fibre.
Indonesia is the largest Muslim country in the world with 240 million people, and groups including Muslim Defenders Team and Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) said they would not tolerate Gaga appearing in the country. The latter threatened to ask its 30,000 supporters to forcibly prevent Gaga stepping off the plane.
FPI's Jakarta chairman Salim Alatas said: "We will stop her from setting foot on our land. She had better not dare spread her satanic faith in this country. Her style is vulgar, her sexual and indecent clothes will destroy our children's sense of morality. She's very dangerous."
Indonesia's hardline Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) had mounted protests in the capital, and the group's chairman, Habib Salim Alatas has told the AFP news agency, they welcome the decision. "We're very glad the police stopped this moral destroyer from coming to this country," he said. "Of course we stand against her - she only wears panties and a bra." Who sang 'If I said you had a beautiful body would you hold it against me?'
Not everybody agrees that an outright ban is the way to deal with perceived objection to revealing outfits. From the Jakarta Globe
While radical Indonesian Islamic groups have voiced their opposition to the planned Lady Gaga concert in Jakarta, the secretary general of the Indonesian Council of Churches said on Tuesday the international pop star should be allowed to perform because of freedom of expression.
“Don’t teach our young generation with pseudo-formality by wearing good outfits but being bad on the inside,” Gomar Gultom, secretary general of the Indonesian Council of Churches (PGI), said responding to complaints about Lady Gaga’s wardrobe.
Gomar said labeling a show as porn or not depended on individual views and that the concert should not be banned because of sexy outfits. He said sexy outfits would not lead young people to pornography, but lack of religious guidance would.
“It is the duty of religious figures to guide people to have a clear mind and stand against pornography temptations,” he said.
The Toronto District School Board has forbidden a controversial Islamic school from operating out of one of its properties.
The board revoked the permit for the East End Madrassah, a Sunday school for Muslim children, citing an ongoing police investigation into alleged anti-Semitic course material.
“What we said was, we needed to be satisfied with the outcome of the investigation and that they were in compliance with our policies and procedures,” said Jim Spyropoulos, the board’s co-ordinating superintendent of inclusive schools. The madrassah has been using board facilities for more than 30 years. Spyropoulos said the board has asked for a meeting with school administrators “to have a deeper discussion” around the issue.
East End Madrassah came under fire earlier this month after Jewish groups objected to material posted on its website. A curriculum document compared Judaism with Nazism and said that “treacherous jews” had killed Islam’s Prophet.
David Spiro, Toronto co-chair of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, said he hopes the TDSB will eventually sever all ties with the school. “Given the presence of anti-Semitic passages in the curriculum, and the dubious activism of its religious leadership, it is clear that the Madrassah has disqualified itself as a partner with the School Board on any level,” Mr. Spiro said in a statement.
Madrassah issued a written apology for the controversial passages on its website, which it said should never have been included in its curriculum. “We unreservedly apologize to the Jewish community for the unintentional offence that the item has caused.”
York Region police’s hate crimes unit is still investigating. York police are investigating because while the madrassah rents the space, the program is actually run by the Islamic Shia Ithna-Asheri Jamaat of Thornhill.
The school in in the Toronto district of Scarborough. I find the proliferation of Yorkshire place names interesting. By co-incidence Dewsbury in English Yorkshire, which contains the former village of Thornhill has a reputation as an 'Islamic republic'.
TRIPOLI, LEBANON — About a week before the start of the latest round of fighting between Sunni and Alawite militias in Lebanon’s second city, one of Tripoli’s most influential Salafi clerics received visitors in a small room inside the mosque he presides over after noon prayers.
Tripoli today, he remarked offhandedly to his guests, is like the Pakistani frontier town of Peshawar that, during the Soviet Union’s occupation of Afghanistan in the 1980s, acted as an integral hub for organizing fighters, arms and intelligence for the mujahedeen’s insurgency and was the host to 100,000 refugees.
The sheik’s comment was perhaps hyperbole, but strong connections between Tripoli and the conflict next door in Syria do exist, and they have solidified over time. Both fighters and arms have flowed from the city to the Syrian rebels trying to overthrow the government of President Bashar al-Assad.
The city’s Sunni Muslim majority and Alawite minority populations have a long history of conflict, with battles between members of the groups becoming common in the years since Lebanon’s civil war. Since the uprising in Syria began, tensions between the groups in Tripoli have mirrored the ebb and flow of events next door.
Politically, the city’s Alawites, who belong to the same Shiite Muslim offshoot sect as Mr. Assad and many of his close supporters, are loyal to Damascus, while the Sunni Muslim community has mostly come out in support of Syria’s rebels.
The most recent bout of fighting began early Sunday. On Tuesday, the Lebanese Army moved in and imposed a cease-fire, but a brief resumption of clashes Wednesday afternoon hinted that the current episode of violence might not be over. So far, the fighting has left at least six people dead and more than 100 wounded, according to the local media. At the battle’s most intense moments, mortar rounds were fired and snipers rendered some of the city’s streets perilous.
But while some in the Sunni militias fought their version of the Syria conflict at home on the streets of Tripoli with automatic rifles and rocket-propelled grenades this week, some of their comrades were across the border fighting the Assad regime.
Sheik Shadi Jebara, a Salafi leader from the city’s restive Sunni-majority Bab al-Tabbaneh neighborhood, said he knew of 50 to 70 men who had gone to Syria. Salafis represent a puritanical movement within Sunni Islam.
“There are religious groups going and others who are not religious at all — perhaps they drink and take drugs,” he said. “But they are incensed by what they see happening in Syria. All of them are prepared to go and die.”
In Mr. Jebara’s impoverished neighborhood of Bab al-Tabbaneh, fighting is a way of life for many. Battles with the neighboring Alawite-majority Jebel Mohsen neighborhood are common, and weapons are kept within easy reach.
The Syrian occupation of Lebanon left many of Tripoli’s Sunni residents with a strong resentment of the Assad regime. Coupled with the certain brand of warrior ethos in the area, this has led many to seek ways to join the fight in Syria. So far, however, most local fighters hoping to join the Free Syrian Army, the armed wing of the rebellion, are being discouraged by their leaders.
“The revolution does not need them; they are needed here,” said Mr. Jebara. “There are Shabiha here with Hezbollah and their allies. I try to persuade them not to go.”
Shabiha, a term now commonly used in Syria to refer to the irregular military forces that support the regime, has increasingly been used by Lebanese supporters of Syria’s rebels to describe Jebel Mohsen’s Alawite community.
Despite his misgivings about Lebanese fighters joining the Syrian rebels, Mr. Jebara asserted that “Lebanon and Syria are one people in two countries” and conceded that “no one could tell me I was in the wrong if I went to fight with my people there.”
While quite a few people in Tripoli’s fighter circles headed to Iraq to fight as insurgents after the United States-led invasion of the country in 2003, Sheik Mazen Mohammed, a Sunni imam of a mosque in Bab al-Tabbaneh, said that Syria’s rebels had as yet not requested assistance beyond arms from their Lebanese supporters.
“You only go when you are summoned by those countries and those people,” said Mr. Mohammed. “When they were getting ready to occupy Iraq, the Iraqi regime issued a call to help the people of Iraq, so people answered the call.”
According to Islamist leaders in Bab al-Tabbaneh, Lebanese fighters, while perhaps experienced, can be more trouble than they are worth to Syrian rebels.
“If you have arms, then you are welcome,” said Mr. Jebara. But “if someone goes without arms it is a burden. They need weapons.”
While the number of foreign fighters crossing into Syria from Lebanon appears to be relatively small at the moment, there is a danger that such activity still could introduce more radicalized and sectarian elements that could exacerbate the conflict.
The transfer of fighters and arms to Syria could also lend some credibility to the Syrian government’s repeated claims about the involvement of foreign terrorists in the conflict and of political groups in Lebanon providing weapons to the rebels.
Some of the recent bombings that have caused many deaths in urban areas of Syria have led to speculation about the possible involvement of Al Qaeda or groups with similar mind-sets and agendas.
Last month, it was reported that Abdel-Ghani Jawhar, a leader of the Al Qaeda-linked Fatah al-Islam organization, was killed while preparing a bomb in the Syrian town of Qusair, near the Lebanese border.
In 2007, his extremist group fought a three-month battle with Lebanese security forces in the Nahr al-Bared Palestinian refugee camp in northern Lebanon.
Some going across the border from Lebanon today could have what are perceived as extremist ideologies. Mr. Jebara, for instance, while not planning on joining the rebels, believes in the establishment of an Islamic caliphate in place of nation states and, while separating himself from the Salafi-Jihadist brand, spent five years in prison for bombing a local Kentucky Fried Chicken branch.
More than providing a trickle of fighters to the rebels in Syria, Tripoli and other areas of northern Lebanon have continued to contribute weapons to the outgunned Free Syrian Army across the still-porous border.
“Sometimes a rich person, such as a businessman, can buy several rifles and give them to the rebels. But in most of the cases it is the normal people who don’t have money and who come to give their personal arms to the rebels,” said Mr. Mohammed, the imam.
“Our brothers on the borders contribute and help for free to smuggle the arms to the other side, and the rebels in Syria take it upon themselves to distribute the arms,” he said.
While light weapons are easy to acquire in Lebanon’s north, they are not sufficient to make a difference in the fighting, and what is needed now are weapons provided by the international community, said Ahmed Moussa, a Syrian opposition member in Tripoli.
“The revolution does not need light arms, it needs heavy arms because light arms no longer do the job — and Lebanon cannot provide these,” he said. “If we have Stinger missiles, there is no more Bashar.”
CAIRO (Reuters) - Israel has become a punchbag for politicians vying for votes in Egypt's presidential race, playing on popular antipathy in Egypt towards its neighbor, but the realities of office are likely to ensure a 33-year-old peace treaty is not jeopardized.
An ex-air force commander in the race boasts of bringing down Israeli aircraft in 1973, the last of Egypt's four wars with Israel. One Islamist often refers to Israel as the "Zionist entity", rather than by name, and describes it as an "enemy".
A leftist candidate pledges to support the Palestinian resistance against Israel, where officials have watched Egypt's political turmoil with increasing wariness after the downfall of Mubarak who oversaw a cold yet stable peace.
None of the candidates want to tear up the document signed in 1979 but they repeatedly warn in rallies and debates it should be reviewed. Many of them grumble at provisions in the U.S.-brokered deal they say are biased in Israel's favor.
Yet, beyond the bluster of the campaign trail, the next president's in-tray will be full of more pressing issues such reviving an economy on the ropes.
He will also preside over a nation where the entrenched establishment of the army and security services who kept the peace secure is still in tact, putting a brake on any actions that could put the deal at risk.
"Of course Israel is an enemy. It occupied land, it threatened our security. It is an entity that has 200 nuclear warheads," Islamist Abdel Moneim Abol Fotouh said in a TV debate when asked about Israel, referring to a nuclear arsenal Israel is believed to possess but neither confirms nor denies having.
Seeking to trip up his opponent in the novel TV face-off in a nation that has never had an open leadership contest, Abol Fotouh pressed former Arab League chief Amr Moussa on whether he too classed Israel an enemy. Moussa chose the term "adversary."
Moussa, who like Abol Fotouh is a front-runner in the race, was Mubarak's foreign minister in the 1990s before moving to the League. In both posts he was a vocal critic of Israel.
An Israeli newspaper commentator wrote last month that Moussa had intense "disdain" for Israel.
"I intend to review the shape of relations," Moussa pledged, describing "very big disagreements". However, he said the next president would need to lead Egypt "with wisdom and not push it along with slogans towards a confrontation we may not be ready for."
Others too have reflected a more cautious line when fielding inevitable questions about Israel during campaign rallies.
Abol Fotouh, who often refers to Israel as the "Zionist entity", said Egypt should review its treaties to ensure they were in the national interest but was not looking to start any war.
Ahmed Shafik, who like Mubarak was a former air force commander before joining the ex-president's cabinet, told a rally when he was questioned about Israel that "a strong state is not just one with artillery and tanks but has a strong economy, strong science, strong culture".
But tough talk still features on the campaign trail.
Leftist candidate Hamdeen Sabahy pledged in a television interview: "I will support whoever resists Israel, not because of nationalism, Arabism or morality, although this is what it is, but because these are the laws of the United Nations."
Safwat el-Hegazi, an independent preacher who backs the Muslim Brotherhood's candidate Mohamed Mursi, has used his campaign rallies to call for the establishment of a single Arab mega state with Jerusalem as its capital.
Mursi criticizes Israel but says he would still respect the treaty, which brings $1.3 billion a year of U.S. military aid. An aide to Mursi said his candidate would not meet Israeli officials as president, though his foreign minister would.
Western diplomats say popular pressure on a newly-elected president could encourage more outspoken criticism of Israel. However, they say the top army and security officials who have for years kept close ties with their Israeli counterparts to coordinate across the border were likely to keep ties steady.
"There are red lines and I think everyone is aware of them. Egypt needs its close relationship with the United States, it needs the financial assistance, the investment and the loans to survive," said Shadi Hamid, director of research at the Brookings Doha Center.
The peace deal has been a cornerstone of Egypt's foreign policy. While it may not have the prominence Mubarak gave it, the generals, who have overseen Egypt's transition, are unlikely to let that change.
The army is expected to remain influential long after the formal handover to a new president by July 1.
Nevertheless, Hamid said Egypt's politicians could "test how far they can go ... before arousing the wrath of the international community."
Visiting my parents last week, I noticed six oak saplings -- here's medal more attractive, I thought, an oak cluster, forsooth -- newly planted between the house and the road.
:"Did you plant those?" I asked my father at supper.
"No," he said. "The town did. They had taken down some other trees, pines mostly, some on their land, some on ours, something to do with the utility lines -- and by way of recompense, returned and planted those six oaks. "
"One more and you could have called the house Sevenoaks."
"Yes," said my mother. "But they didn't have to plant even one. So don't complain. A little less than Kent, but more than kind."
JERUSALEM (Reuters) - A private door opens from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office in central Jerusalem directly into a long, modestly furnished, half-paneled room decorated with modern paintings by Israeli artists and a copy of Israel's 1948 declaration of independence. It contains little more than a long wooden table, brown leather chairs and a single old-fashioned white projector screen.
This inner sanctum at the end of a corridor between Netanyahu's private room and the office of his top military adviser, is where one of the decade's most momentous military decisions could soon be taken: to launch an Israeli attack on Iran's nuclear program.
Time for that decision is fast running out and the mood in Jerusalem is hardening.
Iran continues to enrich uranium in defiance of international pressure, saying it needs the fuel for its civilian nuclear program. The West is convinced that Tehran's real objective is to build an atomic bomb - something which the Jewish state will never accept because its leaders consider a nuclear armed-Iran a threat to its very existence.
Adding to the international pressure, U.S. ambassador to Israel Daniel Shapiro said this week American military plans to strike Iran were "ready" and the option was "fully available".
The central role Iran plays in Netanyahu's deliberations is reflected in the huge map of the Middle East hanging by the door of his office. Israel lies on one edge, with Iran taking pride of place in the centre.
Experts say that within a few months, much of Iran's nuclear program will have been moved deep underground beneath the Fordow mountain, making a successful military strike much more difficult.
As the deadline for a decision draws nearer, the public pronouncements of Israel's top officials and military have changed. After hawkish warnings about a possible strike earlier this year, their language of late has been more guarded and clues to their intentions more difficult to discern.
"The top of the government has gone into lockdown," one official said. "Nobody is saying anything publicly. That in itself tells you a lot about where things stand."
Last week Netanyahu pulled off a spectacular political surprise, creating a coalition of national unity and delaying elections which everyone believed were inevitable. The maneuver also led to speculation that the Israeli leader wanted a broad, strong government to lead a military campaign.
The inclusion of the Iranian-born former Israeli chief of staff and veteran soldier, Gen. Shaul Mofaz, in the coalition, fuelled that speculation - even though both Mofaz and Netanyahu deny that Iran was mentioned in the coalition negotiations.
"I think they have made a decision to attack," said one senior Israeli figure with close ties to the leadership. "It is going to happen. The window of opportunity is before the U.S. presidential election in November. This way they will bounce the Americans into supporting them."
Those close to Netanyahu are more cautious, saying no assumptions should be made about an attack on Iran - an attack with such potentially devastating consequences across the volatile Middle East that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas even went so far as to predict in an interview with Reuters last week that it would be "the end of the world".
Israelis particularly fear retaliation from Iran's proxy militias - the Hezbollah guerrillas in southern Lebanon and the Hamas fighters in the Gaza Strip. Both are believed to possess large arsenals of rockets which could hit major Israeli towns and cities.
Hezbollah's deputy leader Sheikh Naim Qassem told Reuters in February that an Israeli attack on Iran would set the whole Middle East ablaze "with no limit to the fires". "Gone are the days when Israel decides to strike, and the people are silent," he said.
The Israeli Prime Minister and his key allies repeat for public consumption the mantra that economic sanctions against Iran must be given time to work and that now is not the time to speak about military options.
Top officials explain the new coalition on purely domestic grounds, saying it was needed to tackle the thorny and divisive issue of pressing Orthodox Jews into military service - in other words, that its formation has much more to do with the agenda inside Israel than abroad.
BURIED NUCLEAR STATES
Diplomats are divided. "I think the Iran thing is a red herring," said one senior Western envoy. "This is 98 percent about domestic politics". Others are less convinced.
Mofaz himself refuses to speak about military action against Iran, even in the theoretical.
A military veteran with almost 40 years' operational experience, whose office in the Israeli parliament displays a poster of Israeli warplanes flying low over the Auschwitz concentration camp, he scoffs at the idea that his Iranian descent gives him special influence on an Iran attack decision. He derides the idea any serious official in the know would talk to visiting journalists about such a sensitive military subject.
But behind the carefully evasive language of top officials, basic facts are clear. Time is running out. Iran's nuclear program - regarded by Netanyahu as an existential threat to the state of Israel - will soon be buried deep enough underground to render an Israeli attack impossible. The Jewish state's options are narrowing.
"I think they've gone into lockdown mode now," the senior Western diplomat said. "Whatever happens next, whatever they decide, we will not find out until it happens."
There are indeed those who see in Israeli posturing over Iran only bluff intended to press world powers into harsher sanctions and avoid war. Some military experts openly doubt how much damage Israel could inflict. The risk of a fiasco is big.
Perhaps the strongest clue as to Israel's real intentions is to be found in Netanyahu's private office, behind his desk. Officials say the Israeli premier was strongly influenced by his father, who died last month at the age of 102.
Benzion Netanyahu was a distinguished scholar of Jewish history and his strong sense of the past lives on in Benjamin, who laments to visitors that "most people's sense of history goes back to breakfast time".
On a shelf behind Netanyahu's desk, along with pictures of his family, is a photograph of Winston Churchill. Netanyahu admires the British wartime premier because he saw the true dangers posed by Nazi Germany to the world at a time when many other politicians argued for appeasing Hitler.
The parallels with modern-day Iran are obvious and Netanyahu is explicit about the dangers he believes are posed by militant Islam: as he puts it, its convulsive power, its cult of death and its ideological zeal.
But Churchill, although eloquent on the dangers posed by the rise of Nazi Germany during the 1930s, ultimately failed to prevent Hitler's ascent to power, the world war he unleashed or the Holocaust in which six million Jews were murdered.
Netanyahu, those who know him say, is determined to avoid going down in history as the man who shirked his opportunity to stop Iran going nuclear.
For Shi'a Rulers In Iraq, Turkey Is Now A "Hostile State"
Iraq summons Turkish envoy again as tensions grow
BAGHDAD | May 17, 2012
(Reuters) - Iraq has summoned Ankara's ambassador in Baghdad to protest the behavior of two Turkish diplomats, the latest episode in a drawn-out public row between the neighbors.
An official from Iraq's foreign ministry met Turkey's ambassador, Younis Demirer, to complain about the Turkish diplomats in the cities of Basra and Mosul, a statement on the foreign ministry website said on Thursday.
"Some activities conducted by the two Turkish General Consuls in Basra and Mosul ... are far from their Consular duties and obligations stated in the Vienna Convention for Consular Relations of 1963," the statement said, without elaborating.
It said that the meeting took place on Tuesday but did not say what the diplomats were accused of.
Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan and his Iraqi counterpart Nuri al-Maliki have traded tit-for-tat criticisms and accusations several times this year.
Erdogan last month accused Maliki of fanning tensions between Shi'ite Muslims, Sunni Muslims and Kurds in Iraq through "self-centered" behavior.
Maliki quickly responded that Turkey was becoming a "hostile state" with a sectarian agenda, saying it was meddling in Iraqi affairs and trying to establish regional "hegemony".
Iraq summoned Turkey's ambassador at the time and Turkey responded by summoning Iraq's envoy in Ankara.
Analysts say mainly Sunni Turkey is worried that growing tensions in Iraq and violence in their mutual neighbor Syria may lead to a wider Sunni-Shi'ite conflict in the region.
Erdogan's government has recently forged close ties with Masoud Barzani, president of Iraq's semi-autonomous Kurdish region, which is embroiled in a row with the Baghdad government over claims to the city of Kirkuk and the region's oil.
Iraq is Turkey's second largest trading partner after Germany with trade reaching $12 billion last year, more than half of which was with the Kurdish region.
TEHRAN (AFP)— Iran hardened its tone against a plan to unite Bahrain with Saudi Arabia, calling on its people to protest Friday against what it described as a US plot to annex the tiny Gulf archipelago.
The Islamic Propagation Coordination Council, which organises state-backed protests, urged Iranians "to protest against the American plan to annex Bahrain to Saudi Arabia and express their anger against the lackey regimes of Al-Khalifa and Al-Saud."
Leaders of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) discussed on Monday plans to turn the bloc into a union, starting with Saudi Arabia and Bahrain.
"This dangerous plot is the result of the American-Zionist-Britain evil triangle to prevent popular uprisings spreading into other countries of the region and to control the internal crisis in Bahrain which has been caused by the inability of the Al-Khalifa regime to control the situation," the council said on its website.
"Al-Saud and Al-Khalifa should be aware that with this kind of plot they will not stop the popular movement in Bahrain and the movement of Islamic awakening in the region," it added.
The announcement comes after Tehran warned Riyadh's plans to form a union with Manama would deepen the crisis in Bahrain, where dozens of people have been killed in violence since February 2011.
Saudi Arabia had earlier told Iran to keep out of its relations with Bahrain, a Shiite-majority but Sunni-ruled kingdom.
"Any kind of foreign intervention or non-normative plans without respecting people's vote will only deepen the already existing wounds," Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said.
GCC chief Abdullatif al-Zayani condemned Iran for making "provocative" comments, saying they revealed "hostile" and "bad intentions" while arousing "anxiety and tension across the region.
"Relations between Gulf Cooperation Council states is a Gulf and Arab matter in which Iran has no right to interfere," Zayani said in a statement.
Iranian MPs had on Monday condemned the planned union between the two Gulf countries.
"Bahraini and Saudi rulers must understand that this unwise decision will only strengthen the Bahraini people's resolve against the forces of occupation," they said in a letter, referring to the Saudi-led forces.
Bahrain on Tuesday hit out at Iran for interfering in its affairs.
"These statements represent a flagrant interference in the internal affairs of the kingdom and an attack on its sovereignty," the foreign ministry said in a letter of protest handed to the Islamic republic's charge d'affairs, according to BNA state news agency.
Saudi-led Gulf forces rolled into Sunni-ruled Bahrain in March 2011 to boost the kingdom's security forces which a day later crushed month-old, Shiite-dominated protests.
Shiite-dominated Iran has repeatedly voiced support for the protests in Bahrain and strongly condemned the deployment of Saudi-led forces.
The GCC was formed in 1981 as the Sunni-dominated monarchies of the Gulf aimed to bolster security after the 1979 Islamic revolution in Iran that was followed by an eight-year war between Baghdad and Tehran.
The Bahrain issue is sensitive one to Iran, where a nationalist-conservative movement within the Islamic regime still considers the island, controlled by Persia before being colonised by Britain and then to gain independence in 1971, as an Iranian province.
"The right is reserved for the Islamic republic, as patron and heir to the territorial integrity of Iran, to want the return of a separated province to the Islamic homeland," said Hossein Shariatmadari, the director of the hardline Kayhan newspaper.
"The Bahrainis essentially consider themselves to be Iranians and according to some reports they are eager to return to Iran," he added without specifying on which reports.
Shurat HaDIn Israel Law Center Won Action Against Syria and Iran in Wultz Terror Case
Nitsana Darshan Leitner
Shurat HaDin Israel Law Center
When we posted on Monday’s Washington, DC federal district court mega-millions award to the family of the late Danny Wultz we hadn’t identified the legal team who had brought this successful action.
The Wultz claim was brought by the Shurat HaDin Israel law Center of Tel Aviv headed by Nitsana Darshan Leitner and US co-counsel New York attorney Robert Tolchin.
We previously posted on the successful legal effort by the Israel law Center that contributed significantly to the fizzled 2011 Free Gaza Flotilla episode. In 2006, the Israel Law Center successfully served a subpoena on former Iranian President Sayyid Mohammad Khatami at a CAIR dinner in northern Virginia representing a matter concerning seven Iranian Jews who ‘disappeared’ in the Islamic kidnapped and tortured by the Islamic Republic. At the time Khatami was visiting the US on a good will tour that included presentation at Harvard, the University of Virginian and the National Cathedral In Washington.
A release by Shurat HaDin provided background on the Wultz family successful federal court decision:
The family was represented by New York attorney Robert Tolchin and Tel Aviv attorney Nitsana Darshan-Leitner.
On August 22, 2008, Plaintiffs filed a Complaint against the Syrian Arab Republic and Islamic Republic of Iran pursuant to the Foreign Sovereign Immunity Act’s terrorism exception, 28 U.S.C. § 1605A in the US district court in Washington D.C. On February 27th and 29th, 2012 the Wultzes presented their evidence before Judge Royce Lamberth. Called to give testimony concerning Syria’s support for the terrorist PIJ were several terrorism experts, including a former senior officer in Israeli military intelligence. On May 14, 2012, the 6th year anniversary of Daniel Wultz’ death the district court handed down its decision awarding the Wultzes $332 million in compensatory and punitive damages against the Syrian defendants for their liability in the murder of Daniel Wultz.
In its decision the court wrote: “The nature of the defendants’ acts and the nature and extent of the harm defendants intentionally caused are among the most heinous the Court can fathom . . . The evidence shows that the defendants lacked any semblance of remorse for this deadly attack – and in fact, encouraged and supported this and similar attacks.”
According to attorney Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, director of the Israel Law Center – Shurat HaDin: “For the first time the government of Syria has been found liable by a federal court in the United States for its decades long support of the Islamic terrorist organizations that target innocent civilians in Israel with suicide bombings. The Palestine Islamic Jihad was headquartered in Damascus and Syrian officials provided it other material support and funding to facilitate the murderous attacks. This court decisions shows that even outlaw regimes like the one in Damascus can have the rule of law imposed upon them.”
A parallel lawsuit has been filed in New York against the Bank of China for providing financial services to the PIJ prior to the 2006 bombing.
by RFE/RL Tension flared between Tehran and its Gulf Arab neighbors ahead of planned demonstrations in Iran against a proposed union between Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.
Bahrain’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Khaled bin Ahmad Al-Khalifa accused Iran of stoking tensions with its Arab neighbors and warned the Islamic republic would suffer the "consequences of these interventions."
The comments follow official Iranian calls for demonstrations against the proposed union on May 18.
A summit of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) discussed the proposal on May 14 but did not reach any decision on the matter.
The proposed union was presented as a first step in a larger integration between all six GCC members.
Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said "the proposed union or annexation of Bahrain to Saudi Arabia" would lead to the "disappearance" of the tiny Gulf Island.
"We advise Bahrain's leaders to change their ways and not aggravate the situation [in Bahrain] with such plans," Mehmanparast added.
On May 16, Iran's Islamic Propagation Coordination Council, which organizes state-backed protests, urged citizens to protest against what it described as a U.S. plan to annex Bahrain to Saudi Arabia.
The proposed union also sparked strong criticism from Bahrain’s opposition.
Bahrain has seen intermittent protests led by its majority Shi’ites for more than a year demanding that the ruling Sunni royal family improve human rights and make political reforms.
Dozens of people have been killed in the violence.
Tensions have escalated between Iran and its Gulf Arab neighbors since a Saudi-led GGC force intervened in Bahrain in March 2011 to boost the kingdom's security forces.
Shi’ite-dominated Iran has repeatedly voiced support for the protests.
Saudi Arabia has also told Iran to keep out of its relations with Bahrain.
Why Are Pakistanis Fighting In Timbuktu? Because They Take Islam To Heart
Threat Matrix: Pakistani jihadists reported in northern Mali
From The Long War Journal:
May 16, 2012
Over the past two months, Tuareg rebels, backed by Islamist terror groups such as Ansar al Dine, al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, and Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa, have seized control of northern Mali, including the cities of Timbuktu, Kidal, and Gao. During that same period there have been several reports that al Qaeda has moved to establish safe havens in the region. Yesterday, Magharebia published a must-read piece on how foreign jihadists have entered northern Mali to train and advise al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb fighters in Timbuktu. The mayor of Timbuktu is quoted as saying Pakistanis have indeed infiltrated his city. From Magharebia:
Timbuktu mayor Hallé Ousman confirmed the news during an exclusive telephone interview with Magharebia.
"There are actually many Pakistani nationals in Timbuktu, as well as others from many other nationalities, the mayor said. "I personally saw them today going around streets, neighbourhoods and markets. However, they haven't yet started actual communication and direct conversation with residents."
"As to their mission, it became clear to residents several weeks ago," Ousman added. "It is represented in training the new recruits who al-Qaeda and other armed groups in town are enlisting."
"The situation has become very dangerous," he concluded. "In Timbuktu, we refuse that our city be turned into a scene for the terrorist acts that foreign groups are engaged in, given that they threaten our stability and make our sons susceptible to deviation."
In addition to al Qaeda elements from Afghanistan and Pakistan, Boko Haram fighters from Nigeria are also said to have moved into northern Mali, which one analyst compared to Afghanistan and Pakistan:
Analyst Sid Ahmed Ould Tfeil explained that "the spread of foreign nationals and elements from several identities in areas controlled by al-Qaeda is one of the priorities for the terrorist group which considers itself to be above all ethnic and national considerations."
"It believes that wherever the necessary conditions and circumstances of jihad are available, it becomes a duty for jihadists to move to that place to provide support," he said.
"The condition of Timbuktu today is largely similar to that of Afghanistan and Pakistan which in the early 1990s were centres for attracting jihadists from around the world to raise al-Qaeda flag," Ould Tfeil added. "Northern Mali today is the next alternative for Afghanistan where the terrorists have suffered heavy losses before and after the killing of Bin Laden because of the role played by drones and international forces in countering terrorism there."
"A few days after the fall of northern Mali, Boko Haram elements came from Nigeria," he said.
"Now elements from Pakistan and Afghanistan are coming, and elements from Somalia's Shabaab al-Mujahideen may come within the next days," he predicted. "This is in addition to the Maghreb elements who are originally in the region."
Speigel noted days ago that a vast area in the Sahel has now fallen under terrorist control:
Overnight, the withdrawal of government authority in Mali has rendered ungovernable an area four times the size of France, spread across the Sahara Desert and the Sahel zone. Islamist groups now move nearly unchallenged across a territory that stretches from Tindouf in western Algeria to the border between Libya and Chad in the east, and into the northern part of Nigeria to the south. These groups move weapons and drugs, take hostages and plan attacks.
Northern Mali is but the latest al Qaeda haven to emerge over the past several years. It joins Yemen, Somali, the Egyptian Sinai, and Syria as the new fronts in The Long War.
An employee at the pro-Tehran National Iranian American Council had an anti-Israel and anti-Semitic meltdown on Twitter yesterday, accusing Israel of intentionally murdering Palestinian citizens and claiming that pro-Israel advocates bribe members of Congress in order to get their way.
Beheshteh Farshneshani is a NIAC research associate, prolific tweeter, and occasional contributor to the Huffington Post.
She also is of the belief that the Israeli government willingly murders innocent Palestinians and that pro-Israel lobbyists in America engage in bribery and manipulation.
Farshneshani tweeted that Israel targets Palestinian “voices of resistance and dissent” for murder.
A self-described expert in Iran, Farshneshani argued that the current Israeli prime minister—who recently formed one of Israel’s most stable governing coalition’s in recent memory—does not represent the majority of Israelis.
One of the charges CAMERA levels at mainline Protestant churches in the U.S. is that they exhibit a monomaniacal focus on Israel while ignoring the misdeeds and human rights abuses of its adversaries in the Middle East. This assessment is typically based on the resolutions submitted to the national assemblies of these churches. The problem is not limited to resolutions approved or debated at national church gatherings, however. Another place where this monomaniacal focus can be seen is on the newsfeeds of the churches.
Probably the worst offender is the Common Global Minstries of the United Church and the Disciples of Christ. This organization, which is the overseas arm of the two denominations mentioned above, sends missionaries and activists to countries throughout the world.
Theoretically, Global Ministries is, well, a global concern, but you would not know that from its newsfeed which links to articles produced by denominational leaders and staffers, and so-called peacemaking groups such as Sabeel and Churches for Middle East Peace and para-church organizations such as the National Council of Churches and the World Council of Churches. Serving as a news aggregator, the Global Ministries newsfeed focuses a huge amount of attention on the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians while ignoring other conflicts where many more people are killed.
During all of 2011 and the first four and a half months of 2012, the Global Ministries newsfeed linked to a total of 593 articles, 208 which deal with the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. (One article, posted today, talks about about the creation of a "national UCC Palestine/Israel Network.")
In other words, approximately 35 percent of all the articles listed on the Global Ministries newsfeed since Jan. 1, 2011 and today were related to Israel.
During this same period of time, the newsfeed linked to approximately 10 articles, (less than two percent of the total) related to Syria, where approximately 12,000 people have been killed in fighting the Assad regime and anti-government rebels during the past 15 months. Nigeria, where Christians have been routinely attacked, is hardly even mentioned in the newsfeed during 2011 or 2012.
And Egypt, where dozens of Coptic Christians have been killed by Muslim extremists and government soldiers since the beginning of 2011, merited only 28 links -- less than five percent of the total -- on the Global Ministries news feed during this same time frame.
This is kind of odd given that the Global Ministries Executive for the Europe and Middle East is Rev. Dr. Peter Makari, an Egyptian American who wrote a book Christian-Muslim relations in Egypt! Couldn’t he throw some links to his fellow Christians in Egypt?
Arafat Was The Biggest Crook Of All, But Abbas And Rashid Are Vying For Second Place
From the Jerusalem Post:
Wanted Arafat advisor: PA funded Arab Israeli parties
By KHALED ABU TOAMEH
Mohammed Rashid, wanted by the Palestinian Authority for embezzling millions, says PA funded Arab parties in Israel during general elections; demands probe into Abbas's wealth.
Mohammed Rashid, the former economic adviser to Yasser Arafat who is wanted by the Palestinian Authority for embezzling hundreds of millions of dollars, revealed Thursday that the PA had provided financial aid to Israeli Arab parties during general elections in Israel.
He also demanded an investigation into the source of PA President Mahmoud Abbas's wealth.
Rashid, who is currently in London, said that Abbas used to "take millions of dollars from the Palestinian Authority and the private sector under the pretext of helping Arab parties in Israeli elections."
Rashid, who is better known as Khaled Islam, did not name the Israeli Arab parties that received financial aid from Abbas.
Rashid's revelation came during an interview with the Saudi-owned Al-Arabiya TV station.
Rashid scoffed at the PA's decision earlier this week to ask Interpol to arrest him and hand him over for trial on charges of embezzlement and fraud during the years that he served as Arafat's top economic adviser.
Rashid, who is a Kurd from Iraq, said he was prepared to report for interrogation only before an independent commission of inquiry and not one that is controlled by Abbas.
The PA's Anti-Corruption Commission, which issued the arrest warrant against him, is itself very corrupt, Rashid charged.
He pointed out that two ministers in Salam Fayyad's new cabinet have been accused of involvement in corruption scandals, but the anti-corruption commission did not take any measures against them.
The former adviser, who is considered one of the wealthiest Palestinians in the world, launched a scathing attack on Abbas, holding him and his two businessmen sons responsible for corruption.
"When Mahmoud Abbas returned to the Palestinian territories [after the signing of the Oslo Accords], I gave him $25,000 at the request of the late President Yasser Arafat," Rashid claimed. "Today, he and his sons have palaces and property estimated at 15 million Jordanian Dinars [Approximately $21 million] in Palestine, Jordan, Tunisia and other places."
Rashid said the timing of the arrest warrant against him was linked to a series of interviews he gave to Al-Arabiya and the PA's fear that he would expose various corruption scandals.
Rafik Natsheh, head of the Anti-Corruption Commission in the West Bank, denied Rashid's charges. He said that the Rashid had been wanted long before his appearance on TV.
Natsheh added that the PA had previously summoned Rashid for interrogation, but the latter refused to comply. He said that Rashid would stand trial whether in his presence or in absentia for his role in theft of public funds.
Welcoming the PA's decision to go after Rashid, several Palestinian political analysts wondered whether other senior officials would also be charged with corruption.
"The question is, how many Mohammed Rashid's do we have in the Palestinian arena?" remarked analyst Nabil Batrawi. "Where are the others who became wealthy by working in the public sector? Where are the realtors who used to take money from investors who wanted to come to Palestine? Where are all those who used to take bribes and extort investors?"
Before I get to her story, let me share a sampling of the entrants who wrote poignantly and powerfully about the suffocating ostracism of school corridors and cafeterias.
“For eight years, I have skipped lunch to get to the safety of the library, bury myself in books, and count the days till graduation,” wrote Alyssa Ahrens, 17, a high school senior in Indiana. “As of today, it is 64.”
Plenty of adults are skeptical about the fuss over bullying. “How come the thin-skinned kids nowadays can’t handle the bullying that made us better, stronger adults?” one man wrote to me on Twitter.
Trento in South Florida Debate: Israel is the national election wedge Issue
Tom Trento of The United West at La Dopr Va Dor Synagogue
Lake Worth, Florida, May 15, 2012
When we concluded ourprevious post on the ejection of Jewish protesters at a Boca Raton, Florida synagogue that hosted US UN Ambassador Susan Rice, we noted a debate that occurred on May 15th at another South Florida synagogue.
According to BizPac Review Bergstein was scheduled to debatePalm Beach County Democratic Chairman Mark Alan Siegel on the status of America’s relationship with Israel under the Obama administration last night at L’Dor Va-Dor in Lake Worth. Was that deliberately chosen to deflect attention from the treatment of Bergstein, Levin and the few dozen Jewish protesters at the Ambassador Rice event at B’nai Torah synagogue in Boca Raton?
Tom Trento, director of The United West, who appeared at the La Dor VA Dor ("from generation to generation" in Hebrew) synagogue, sent out a brief You Tube video segment of his clash with Palm Beach County Democratic Chairman, Mark Alan Siegel. Trento, a Christian Zionist, took Siegel, a self-described "liberal progressive" Jew, to task. . Siegel says that Israel is only one issue; it’s the progressive mantra, he insists, of "social justice" that is overarching in this fractious 2012 Presidential campaign.
Trento charges that the Obama Administration is not, as the President and his advisors like Amb. Rice and others would have us believe, "watching Israel' s back," when it comes to the genocidal threat of a nuclear Iran. Trento also accused Siegel and other "progressive" Jews of being feckless in their refusal to recognize, much less openly discuss, either the Jihadist Shia Mahdist or the Muslim Brotherhood, and their shared doctrine of Jew-hatred, sanctioned by Islam. oth Shia Mahdists and Sunni Salafists are armed with tens of thousands of rockets and missiles and will soon a nuclear device and the means of delivering it to destroy Israel.
Clearly, Israel is the wedge issue that divides Jews in South Florida and elsewhere in America. When it comes to the possible re-election of President Obama, in a tight race with Republican candidate Mitt Romney, videos like this should go viral. "Progressives" like Siegel and Rabbi Steinhardt in Boca Raton. have become unwitting collaborators in their own destruction, akin to those who, as in the 1930s, and even to the last minute, refused to recognize the Nazi threat as Islamic antisemitism, that needs no Hitlerian tutorial but relies solely on the texts -- Qur'an and Hadith -- of Islam.
Watch the You Tube video of the final moments in the 90-minute debate at the la Dor Va Dor synagogue in Lake Worth, Florida. Note the standing ovation for Trento at the conclusion of this debate. Kol Hakavod ("outstanding" in Hebrew) to my colleague Tom Trento.