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Putin Plans to End Alawite Hegemony in Damascus and Evict Pro-Iranian Shiite Militias Including Hizbullah

By DEBKAfile

Vladimir Putin has drawn up this plan for the Sochi conference and will put it before Binyamin Netanyahu when they meet on Monday. DEBKAfile reports that the Russian president has prepared a plan for Syria's post-war future for presentation to the Syrian peace conference at the Black Sea resort of Sochi.

Moscow has taken into account 1,600 Syrian government and opposition participants. Some rebel groups have announced a boycott. DEBKAfile reports that the absentees are pro-Assad and pro-Iranian groups who are boycotting the event to reflect their masters' objections to the Russian president's plans. Unless he decides to back down at the last moment, those plans are substantially as follows:

Early democratic elections to the presidency and parliament, guaranteed by Moscow to be genuinely democratic with all parts of the population allowed for the first time to vote and put up candidates for office.

The new constitution will reflect the demographic changes overtaking the country in the seven-year war. The largest group, the Sunnis, will win majority representation in parliament, while Bashar Assad's small Alawite sect will no longer be privileged as a ruling minority. Assad will thus automatically lose his dominant rule on Syria's political scene.

A New National Syrian Army is to be established, to replace the government force, which has been heavily depleted in the long war. Since most young Syrians of military age refused to join Assad's army in the last few years, most military units exist only on paper. Once again, the country's demographic structure will be represented at all ranks of the new army. Moscow is committed to funding the new army and furnishing it with modern weapons, as well as restructuring the units, a process already in hand.

In all these proposals, the Russians conferred intensively with Riyadh and Cairo – the former as a key Arab supporter of the Syrian anti-Assad opposition and the latter as a steadfast backer of President Assad. This stratagem gave Moscow the broadest possible inter-Arab approval for his plan and moreover, as DEBKAfile reports, an indirect line to Washington. Saudi and Egyptian leaders, upon receipt of the Russian plan, showed it to the Trump administration, collected its responses and passed them back to Moscow.

Only on one point did the Saudis lean hard on the Russians to alter their first blueprint. They maintained that as it stood, the regions to be allotted to the various armies for control were not clearly laid out. Moscow replied that the New Syrian Army would be taking over. But Riyadh insisted on an explicit provision mandating the expulsion of all armed foreign forces from Syria. Last week, Moscow agreed to this amendment and sent a message to Tehran that Sochi conference resolutions would include a ban on any foreign military presence in Syria. In a word, Putin had agreed to show the door to Iranian forces and all imported Shiite militias operating there under Iranian command, including Hizbullah.

This was the nub of the information that Putin proposes to relay to Netanyahu when they meet in Moscow on Monday, the same day as the Sochi conference. Netanyahu will also ask his host to make this measure ironclad so that Tehran and Hizbullah will never find a loophole for their return to Syria. If Putin succeeds in getting part of his Syrian peace plan accepted at the Sochi conference, he will have brought off a major feat.

Dershowitz to Obama: Don't Associate with Bigots, Anti-Semites


Former Harvard Law School professor Alan Dershowitz slammed former President Barack Obama over the weekend, following the revelation that the then-US Senator had met with Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan on Capitol Hill more than a decade ago.

Last week, a photograph taken during a 2005 meeting between Farrakhan and Obama, then a freshly-minted US Senator from Illinois, was revealed to the public for the first time. The photographer, Askia Muhammad, told Fox News that the Congressional Black Caucus had arranged the meeting, and subsequently pressed Muhammad to conceal the photograph. The picture shows a smiling Obama standing side-by-side with Farrakhan.

Farrakhan, a controversial figure in the Black Muslim community in Chicago, has a history of using explicitly racist and anti-Semitic rhetoric. In 1984, Farrakhan was recorded calling Judaism a "gutter religion", leading the US Senate to condemn him in a unanimous 95-0 vote. Farrakhan also called the establishment of the State of Israel an "outlaw act," and accused the Jewish state of "thievery, lying, and deceit."

'Now that nation called Israel never has had any peace in 40 years and she will never have any peace because there can be no peace structured on injustice, thievery, lying and deceit and using the name of God to shield your gutter religion under His holy and righteous name," Farrakhan said in a June 1984 sermon. In March of 1984, Farrakhan praised Nazi leader Adolf Hitler, calling him a "very great man." Despite years of criticism, Farrakhan never abandoned his anti-Semitic rhetoric, calling American Jews "satanic" in a 2013 sermon in Detroit.

According to the photographer behind the 2005 photograph, Askia Muhamad, then-Senator Obama employed people known to be members of the Nation of Islam on his senate staff. "He had people from the Nation of Islam working on his staff in his office in Chicago - his senate staff," Askia told Fox News. "Members of the Nation of Islam helped him in his Senate campaign on the South Side of Chicago."

On Saturday, following the revelation, senior American jurist Alan Dershowitz excoriated Obama for his meeting with Farrakhan, telling Fox News he would have refused calls to campaign on Obama's behalf in 2008 had he been aware of the meeting.

"Louis Farrakhan is a virulent anti-Semite," said Dershowitz. "He called Judaism a `gutter religion.' He's anti-American. He is a horrible, horrible human being, and if I had known that the president had posed, smilingly, with him when [Obama] was a senator, I would not have campaigned for Barack Obama [in 2008]. It would have influenced my decision."

Dershowitz, a lifelong Democrat, also noted the ties Democratic National Committee deputy chief Keith Ellison had with the Nation of Islam. "I threatened to leave the party if Keith Ellison were elected as chairman because of his association with Farrakhan. You don't associate with a bigot. You don't associate with an anti-Semite. There should be zero tolerance for that kind of bigotry — and if Barack Obama associated with him, if the Black Caucus invited him, I don't blame them for trying to suppress the truth because that's a really horrible truth." In 2017, Dershowitz threatened to quit the Democratic party if Ellison were chosen to lead the DNC.

'Israel's Schools Will Address Polish Law About Death Camps'


Israel's Education Minister, Naftali Bennett, spoke to Arutz Sheva about his order to have Israeli students learn about the role played by European nations in the Holocaust, following Poland's adoption of legislation that seeks to impose fines and jail time on anyone who refers to the Nazi death camps as being "Polish," ignoring the complicity of the Poles in the Holocaust.

The Nazi death camps were German and built on Polish soil after the country was overrun by the Nazis. However, many Poles cooperated with the Nazis, gave away the hiding places and looted the homes of their persecuted Jewish neighbors. There were horrendous massacres perpetrated by Poles during and even after the Holocaust. Poland's parliament on Friday adopted the legislation which sets fines or a maximum three-year jail term for anyone who refers to Nazi German death camps as being Polish.

The measure is intended to apply to both Polish citizens and foreigners. It is expected to easily pass in the Senate before being signed by the president. Earlier on Saturday, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu criticized the bill, saying, "The law is baseless; I strongly oppose it. One cannot change history and the Holocaust cannot be denied. I have instructed the Israeli Ambassador to Poland to meet with the Polish Prime Minister this evening and express to him my strong position against the law," he added.

Bennett told Arutz Sheva that, while "the correct terminology is `German extermination camps on Polish soil' as opposed to `Polish extermination camps,'" the role of Poland and other European nations in the Holocaust should not be whitewashed.

"Last night I instructed that the Israeli education system invest two hours to learning about the involvement of various European nations in the Holocaust. The truth is that many nations, including the Poles, were engaged in helping the Nazis murder Jews and in murdering Jews themselves. My own family was annihilated in the Holocaust.

"The second reality, though, is that the concentration camps and the extermination camps were initiated, designed and run by the Germans on Polish soil, and the right terminology is `German extermination camps on Polish soil' as opposed to `Polish extermination camps.' All of this will be studied by Israeli students this week."

Trump Remembers to Mention Jews in Holocaust Day Message

By Israel Hayom

President Donald Trump's administration, which found itself the target of harsh criticism last year after an official statement in honor of International Holocaust Remembrance Day failed to mention Jews, took pains not to repeat its mistake.

On Saturday, Trump tweeted: "On Holocaust Remembrance Day we mourn and grieve the murder of 6 million innocent Jewish men, women and children, and the millions of others who perished in the evil Nazi Genocide. We pledge with all of our might and resolve: Never Again!"

The tweet came on the heels of a carefully worded statement issued Friday that cited "the Nazis' systematic persecution and brutal murder of 6 million Jewish people. On International Holocaust Remembrance Day, we acknowledge this dark stain on human history and vow to never let it happen again," the presidential message concluded.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson attended a solemn ceremony at a memorial in Poland to the Jews who died fighting the German forces in the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising of 1943. Tillerson trailed two uniformed Polish military officers and readjusted a wreath underneath the monument, a dark, hulking structure located in what was once the Warsaw Ghetto.

The head of Warsaw's Jewish community read a prayer, and Tillerson made brief remarks about the importance of not forgetting the horrors of the Holocaust. "On this occasion, it reminds us that we can never, we can never, be indifferent to the face of evil," Tillerson said. "The Western alliance which emerged from World War II has committed itself to ensuring the security of all that this would never happen again," he said. "As we mark this day in solemn remembrance, let us repeat the words of our own commitment: Never again. Never again."

His words came amid signs in Europe and beyond that ultra-nationalism and extreme right-wing groups are on the rise. In Germany and Austria, the nations that perpetrated the killing of 6 million Jews and millions of others during World War II, far-right parties with their roots in the Nazi era are gaining strength.

The anti-migrant, anti-Muslim Alternative for Germany party won seats in the German parliament for the first-time last year, while the nationalist, anti-migrant Freedom Party is part of the coalition running the Austrian government. Both parties have members who have made anti-Semitic remarks. Ultranationalists who espouse anti-Jewish and anti-Muslim views seem emboldened elsewhere as well.

"Neo-Nazis and white supremacy groups are among the main purveyors of extreme hatred," U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres said in a statement. "And too often, vile views are moving from the margins to the mainstream of societies and politics. We must stand together against the normalization of hate."

In Europe, the outspoken white nationalism is seen partially as the backlash to a large influx of mostly Muslim migrants. Some of those migrants have brought their own brand of anti-Semitism with them.

In Germany, many Jews have reported feeling threatened by anti-Semitism – both from native far-right groups and from newcomers from Arab and Muslim countries. Jewish institutions across the country have increased security. Meanwhile, Muslim immigrants have been targets of German far-right attacks or threats.

Hanni Levy, a 93-year-old Holocaust survivor from Berlin, criticized anti-migrant hatred during a speech Saturday at a Greens party convention in Hanover. "In the past, the Jews were found guilty of everything. Today it's the refugees," Levy said. "One should never forget how difficult it is to leave behind everything just to survive."

Report Claims US Jewish Student's Murderer An 'Avowed Nazi'


The 20-year-old former classmate of Jewish college student Blaze Bernstein, charged in his murder, belonged to an extremist neo-Nazi group. Samuel Woodward is an "avowed Nazi" and a member of Atomwaffen Division, an extremist neo-Nazi group, the ProPublica news website reported.

Woodward was charged with murder in a complaint filed earlier this month in Orange County Superior Court. He is being held in the county jail in lieu of a $2 million bail. The felony murder charge includes a sentence enhancement for using a knife. He will be arraigned on Friday and has not yet entered a plea. Woodward was arrested after crime lab technicians determined that blood found on a sleeping bag in his possession belonged to Bernstein. The murder weapon reportedly has not been found.

It is believed that Bernstein was pursuing a romantic relationship with Woodward, which Woodward rebuffed, the affidavit said. Bernstein had been visiting his parents' home in Lake Forest while on winter break from the University of Pennsylvania. His body was discovered in a shallow grave in Borrego Park on January 9, a week after he went missing from there.

ProPublica, a non-profit investigative news website, cited three people with "detailed knowledge" of Woodward's recent past who said Woodward was a member of the Atomwaffen Division, an armed fascist group with the ultimate aim of overthrowing the U.S. government through the use of terrorism and guerrilla warfare. Two of the sources are Woodward's friends, the third is a former member of the group. Atomwaffen started in 2015 and is estimated to have about 80 members scattered around the country in small cells.

Woodward joined the organization in early 2016 and later traveled to Texas to attend Atomwaffen meetings and a three-day training camp, which involved instruction in firearms, hand-to-hand combat, camping and survival skills, ProPublica reported citing the former member. Social media posts and chats shared with ProPublica by Woodward's friends show that he openly described himself as a "National Socialist" or Nazi. He "was as anti-Semitic as you can get," one of the sources told ProPublica.

Atomwaffen was connected to a double homicide in December in Virginia when a 17-year-old boy allegedly shot and killed his girlfriend's parents after they convinced her not to see him anymore calling him an "outspoken neo Nazi." The teen killed Buckley Kuhn-Fricker and Scott Fricker, and shot himself, but survived. He reportedly was an avid fan of Atomwaffen, the Huffington Post reported.

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