Report: Syria chemical arsenal within Hezbollah reach
By Shlomo Cesana and Daniel Siryoti/JNS.org
Israel is continuing to warn the world of the potentially devastating outcome if Syria’s chemical arsenal falls into the hands of rebels, or worse, Hezbollah, as Lebanese media outlets reported that the Lebanese terror group had already obtained some chemical weapons and long-range missiles. The prime minister was briefed on the Syrian situation over the weekend and multiple meetings were held to discuss possible options. U.S. Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro said that Israel and the U.S. were working in full cooperation on the Syrian issue, and on Monday Netanyahu’s adviser and National Security Council chief Yaakov Amidror visited Moscow and spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin on the matter.
According to Lebanese TV, Hezbollah fighters helping Syrian President Bashar al-Assad fight the Sunni rebels in Syria have now taken over army bases throughout the country. Hundreds of armed fighters from the Shiite group were seen accompanying personnel from the Syrian military’s unconventional weapons program, as well as taking position inside Syrian bases where chemical weapons were stored. The Syrian military has been fighting rebels to keep control of the al-Safira compound south of Aleppo, where chemical weapons are produced and stored. Arab media reported that after days of pitched battles the army succeeded in repelling the rebel attack and regaining control of the territory around the base.
“Assad ordered the military to increase its bombing campaign in al-Safira, because he is in cahoots with the Zionists, who are helping his regime survive,” a rebel belonging to the jihadist group Jahbat al-Nusra said.
Lebanese newspaper Al-Nahar, which is aligned with Hezbollah, reported that the Syrian president was “calm and certain he will maintain control and restore stability to his country.” Assad’s peace of mind could be the result of something else. Russia has deployed a sizable naval force for an exercise off the Syrian coast. According to the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS), the exercise, which was expected to end on Tuesday, was being presided over by Russia’s military chief.
Tzvi Magen, who compiled the INSS report, did not rule out the possibility that, under the guise of a training exercise, Russia had deployed a large military contingent to a sensitive fighting zone. Magen also speculated that it could be Russia’s intention to prompt the U.S. to reach an agreement over Syria. If the West and Russia do not come to an agreement, Magen said he believed Russia would create conditions that will help Assad maintain control of the Alawite regions by securing the Syrian coast. If true, it could be a sign that Syria was about to be partitioned into separate states.
UK paper prints ‘blood-libel’ cartoon
(Israel Hayom/Exclusive to JNS.org) The UK’s Sunday Times newspaper sparked a controversy on Sunday when it ran a cartoon featuring a caricature of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu building a wall using the blood of Palestinians for cement. The image was entitled “Israeli elections — will cementing peace continue?” and featured a large-nosed Netanyahu laying bricks over bleeding Palestinians writhing amid the bricks. “The Sunday Times has clearly lost its moral bearings, publishing a cartoon with a blatantly antisemitic theme and motif which is a modern-day evocation of the ancient ‘blood libel’ charge leveled at Jews,” said the Anti-Defamation League’s International Affairs Director, Michael A. Salberg.
European Jewish Congress President Dr. Moshe Kantor called for an apology from The Sunday Times, which published the cartoon on International Holocaust Remembrance Day. “This cartoon would be offensive at any time of the year, but to publish it on International Holocaust Remembrance Day is sickening and expresses a deeply troubling mindset,” Kantor said. “This insensitivity demands an
immediate apology from both the cartoonist and the paper’s editors.
A spokesperson from The Times said that the cartoon was not antisemitic, and was aimed at Netanyahu and his policies, not Israel in general, or Jewish people.
Left-wing activist: Relocating not realistic
(JNS.org) An Israeli kibbutz movement leader and left-wing activist said removing Israeli residents from communities located beyond Israel’s pre-1967 borders (the “Green Line”) is no longer a viable solution to the conflict over territory with the Palestinians. “I believe the topic of two states for two peoples will come up, but I don’t think there’s any way that hundreds of thousands [of Jews] will be moved from their homes to inside the green line,” said Yoel Marshak, head of the Kibbutz Movement’s task force, according to Israel National News. “There will be agreements, or an autonomy, that will allow two nations to live side by side… The struggle today is not to remove settlements, but to find creative solutions.”
Politicians from both parties oppose Hagel
(JNS.org) Politicians from both sides of the aisle, as well as Jewish leaders, criticize President Obama’s nomination of Chuck Hagel for Secretary of Defense in a new video advertisement released Jan. 24 by the Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC). “It seems that there is some kind of an endemic hostility toward Israel, and I think in the sensitive post of Secretary of Defense, those are warning bells, those are red lights,” U.S. Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY) says in the ad.
The ad (http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=sPAeWe5rsf8) asks viewers to call their U.S. senators to ask that they vote against Hagel’s nomination. The Washington Post editorial board, U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), and Rabbi Abraham Cooper of the Simon Wiesenthal Center are among the other Hagel critics featured in the ad. Anti-Defamation League (ADL) National
Director Abe Foxman says, “The sentiments [Hagel has] expressed about the ‘Jewish lobby’ border on antisemitism.” In 2008, Hagel took a direct shot at AIPAC, noting in Aaron David Miller’s book, The Much Too Promised Land, that “the Jewish lobby intimidates a lot of people” in Washington.
Hagel’s senate hearings are expected to commence in early February.
PA vows to prosecute Israel
(JNS.org) Equipped with possible eligibility to join the International Criminal Court (ICC) following its status upgrade at the United Nations last November, the Palestinian Authority (PA) on Wednesday said it would prosecute Israel in that court if the Jewish state proceeds with construction plans in the 4.6-square mile E1 area between Ma’ale Adumim and Jerusalem. Israel needs the E1 area in order to maintain a connection between Jerusalem and the large Jewish commuter city of Ma’ale Adumim, which is east of the E1 zone. The Palestinians, meanwhile, say that the E1 area is essential for continuity of a future Palestinian state and their proposed capital in eastern Jerusalem. The Oslo Accords, signed by both Israel and the Palestinian Authority, do not prohibit Israel from building in E1. In order to prosecute Israel in the ICC — which deals with charges of genocide, war crimes and other human rights violations — the PA must first apply for membership in the court, and then refer Israel for investigation.
‘Start-up Nation’ author: Obama tried to sway Israeli election
(JNS.org) “Start-up Nation” author and former Mitt Romney adviser Dan Senor tweeted on the day of Israel’s Knesset election that two U.S. officials in Israel admitted that President Obama’s recent statements to Atlantic columnist Jeffrey Goldberg were intended to influence the results of the election and weaken Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Senor tweeted, “two US officials in Israel quietly conceded that: 1) O’s comments to @JeffreyGoldberg intended to hit BB in elex; & 2) it probably backfired.” Goldberg had reported that Obama said, “Israel doesn’t know what its best interests are,” in an apparent jab at Netanyahu over continued Jewish construction in Judea and Samaria.
Relations between Obama and Netanyahu are known to be contentious. If what Senor claims is true, his “tweet reveals that U.S. officials understood that what President Obama was doing was issuing a not so subtly veiled threat to the Israeli people that the U.S. may be willing to really put daylight between itself and Israel unless they choose a less intractable prime minister,” wrote the Jewish Press.