Newsletter : 18fx0430.txt
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Pompeo's Thumbs Up for Israel to Counter Russian-Backed Iranian Drive in Syria
As US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu sat down on
Sunday, April 29 in Tel Aviv to discuss the Iranian threat, a Russian-backed Syrian force
struck across the Euphrates to capture a string of US-backed fortified Kurdish SDF
villages. This incursion of a key US area of influence region in eastern Syria, if
confirmed, would rip up a key element of the US-Russian de-confliction zones accord and
provide Iran with a springboard for a leap up to the Iraqi border.
Pompeo, on his first Middle East Trip as Secretary of State, reiterated in Tel Aviv
as he did in Riyadh earlier Sunday that the nuclear deal will need to be fixed or
it would be abandoned by President Donald Trump's on May 12. Standing alongside Netanyahu,
the secretary backed Israeli efforts to counter Iran in Syria. He said the US is committed
to "rolling back to the full range of Iranian malign influence in Syria," specifically
mentioning "Iran's missile systems, its support for Hizbullah, its importation of
thousands of Shiite fighters into Syria." Pompeo added, "We strongly support Israel's
sovereign right to defend itself."
This was taken as a US green light for Israel to take on the elements threatening its
security from Syria. The secretary also stressed that the US would continue to fight ISIS
and not tolerate the Assad regime using chemical weapons.
DEBKAfile's military sources add: If the Syrian push into the US-held region is confirmed,
it will tell the Trump administration and its new secretary of state that while they were
busy arranging for US troops to leave Syria, Moscow was expanding its support for Iran to
move in and deepen presence in that country.
US Army Chaplains Fire Only Jewish Religious Leaders on Base
US Army chaplains at the army's 101st Airborne Division have been accused of
dismantling programs to serve religious Jewish soldiers on-base, Army Times reported. The
chaplains fired all of the longstanding Jewish lay leaders at Fort Campbell, Kentucky
without providing any reason for the dismissals. No replacements were appointed, ending
the holding of Shabbat services for Jewish soldiers and their families.
Jeanette Mize, her husband, Curt Mize, and their son, Lawrence, had served as the lay
leaders for Jewish worship at Fort Campbell until February 28, 2018, when they were fired
without explanation by the division chaplain, Col. John Murphy, and his deputy chaplain,
Lt. Col. Sean Wead. The family had served as the Jewish lay leaders at the base since
"This is the first time in at least 34 years that the Jewish soldiers and their families
have been denied weekly Shabbat worship at Fort Campbell," Jeanette Mize told Army Times.
"There is no synagogue in the Fort Campbell area or the nearest towns of Hopkinsville or
Clarksville," she said. "The nearest synagogue is located in Nashville, more than 50 miles
Mize called Mikey Weinstein, founder and president of the Military Religious Freedom
Foundation, who filed a complaint with the base. Robert Jenkins, Fort Campbell's director
of public affairs, said the post is now investigating the allegations against the
Mize also said that the chaplains refused to support the holding of a Passover Seder on
the first night of Passover because it would 'conflict' with the observance of Good Friday
by Catholic soldiers. The chaplains told her that the Seder would receive no advertising
or support. "They had to celebrate Passover on a non-Passover date," Weinstein said.
"That's like telling Christians `I know you want to do Christmas on December 25, but it's
more convenient if you do it on December 7, so we can save money.' "
According to Mize, her work environment deteriorated after a man she described as a
"fundamentalist Christian" was appointed the Jewish lay leaders' chaplain sponsor last
summer. She said that he bullied the Jewish lay leaders and threatened to take over the
religious decisions for Jewish worship. "I made appeals to replace him," Mize said.
"Nothing was done about this. [He] enjoyed his position and exerted his authority."
Weinstein said that the inquiry has become a 15-6 investigation, which shows that the army
is taking the allegations against the chaplains very seriously. "About 10% of the cases I
file with the Army become 15-6 investigations," he said, noting that he is pleased with
the speed with which the investigation was launched and the seriousness with which the
army is dealing the case.
A Jewish Future? Only in Israel
By Noah Klieger (Commentary)
Considering soaring assimilation rates, the Jewish population in many countries around the
world will likely disappear completely in six or seven generations. Israel is the only
country in the world where the number of Jews keeps growing and the only place where the
Jewish people have a future.
I read the forecasts on the Jewish people's future across the universe in several
generations from now very carefully, and with all due respect to the demography experts, I
disagree with their forecasts. In my opinion, they are simply too optimistic and
incompatible with the reality of the past few years.
After visiting many countries around the world over the years, and being a rationalist, I
am convinced there will be a dramatic decrease in the Jewish population in most countries
worldwide in six or seven generations from now, and in some countries it will most likely
For example, if there are about 7,000 Jews living in Denmark, which has less than six
million residents, how can they survive? Clearly, most of them won't find a partner within
the community, and everyone knows that mixed marriages usually leadafter several
generationsto a loss of the Jewish identity. And that makes complete sense.
What about countries with a relatively large Jewish population? In the United States, for
example, the number of Jews in the general population of 327 million residents is about
5.5 million. Clearly, the Jewish community there will last longer than the Jewish
community in Denmark, Belgium or Spain.
It's pretty clear, however, that the American Jewish community will also disappear
eventually, apart from the ultra-Orthodox. But the latter make up only a very small
percentage of the US Jewry, and the rate of mixed marriages there keeps growing and has
already reached 60%, according to data.
Even though some of those who live in mixed families claim to lead a Jewish life and
maintain a Jewish identity, as the Reform Jews have been trying to convince us, they will
assimilate completely within several generations. The undeniable fact is that the Jewish
people in the Diaspora are losing tens of thousands of members every year.
If the non-Jewish wife in a mixed family is against performing a circumcision on the
couple's baby boy, what will her Jewish husband do? Divorce her? Of course not. After all,
they married out of love and a desire to start a family together. Moreover, the baby isn't
considered Jewish according to the Halacha.
And then the husband convinces himself that he can be Jewish even without circumcising his
children, that a Christmas tree at home isn't a religious act but a traditional custom,
that studying in Jewish educational institutions isn't necessary for maintaining a Jewish
The situation is similar in the opposite case, when the wife is Jewish and the husband
isn't, even if the child is definitely considered Jewish. For how long? Until he marries a
Most members of the Jewish people, who were scattered across the world, managed to survive
and avoid assimilation for 2,000 years. Despite decrees and riots and annihilation, they
insisted on sticking to their faith and succeeded. And now, when Jews enjoy freedom of
religion and faithat least in Western countriesand aren't facing an
existential threat, many of them are drifting away from their Jewishness.
The only country in the world where the number of Jews keeps growing on an annual basis is
Israel, of course. Nearly 6.5 million Jews live in the country today, the birthrate is
increasing and the number of immigrants is greater than the number of people who leave the
country for different reasons. Seventy years after the Jewish state's establishment, it is
clear to everyone that in light of the growing assimilation rates, the future of the
Jewish people can only be found in Israel.
Officials: Trump `Seriously Considering' Letting Pollard Move to Israel
By the Jerusalem Post
President Donald Trump is "seriously considering" changing the parole conditions of
Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard to allow him to come to Israel, Israeli officials said at The
Jerusalem Post Conference in New York on Sunday.
Pollard was paroled from prison in November 2015 after serving 30 years of a life sentence
for spying for Israel, America's ally. But his parole conditions prevent him from leaving
New York State and moving to, or even visiting Israel.
In a recent conversation with a visitor to New York, Pollard revealed that he and his
wife, Esther, were suffering from poor health and had dealt with significant medical
challenges over the past year. Asked if he had hope that the Trump administration would
commute his sentence and allow him to go to Israel, Pollard told the visitor he met on the
street: "I am praying for a miracle. I just want to come home."
Intelligence Services Minister Israel Katz said allowing Pollard to come to Israel would
be another welcome gesture by the Trump administration when the US Embassy moves to
Jerusalem. "In order to make the celebration even happier, I would like to ask our great
friend President Trump to give the Israeli public one more present and to allow Jonathan
Pollard to come to Israel and celebrate with us in Jerusalem," Katz said. Asked on the
sidelines of the conference whether the Trump administration would accept his request,
Katz told reporters there was such a possibility.
Zionist Union MK Nachman Shai, who heads the Knesset's Free Pollard Caucus, said he hoped
the reports were not "too good to be true. It is time to end the episode," he said.
Tunisian Islamist Party's Jewish Candidate Gears for Elections
Municipal elections held in Tunisia next week will see Simon Slama, a Jew, running on
the Islamist party's ticket, a move met with both derision and admiration; Slama, unfazed,
vows to swear on both Koran, Hebrew Bible if elected.
Decked out in a striking blue suit and white shirt, matching his political allegiance,
Simon Slama rubs shoulders with fellow candidates ahead of Tunisia's municipal elections.
Nothing unusual about thatexcept he is the only Jewish candidate standing for the
Islamist Ennahdha party.
A public relations stunt for some; a sign of genuine liberalization for others. But even
if Slama fares dismally come the May 6 poll, his candidacy has become a major story in the
nation. This will be the first municipal vote since former dictator Zine El Abidine Ben
Ali fell from power in 2011. Ben Ali ruled Tunisia with an iron fists for 23 years, and
was deposed in the so-called "Jasmine Revolution."
The Ennahdha party, as part of which Slama is running, was founded after the dictator's
ouster and was based on an Islamist movement founded in the North African country in 1981,
inspired by the Islamic revolution in Iran and the Muslim Brotherhood movement in Egypt.
And while Slama looks at ease, joyously clapping hands on the campaign trail in the
coastal town of Monastir, the 54-year old sewing machine repairman's decision to run drew
fierce initial opposition from loved ones. "All my family were against my choice. My
brother was angry and my wife went days without speaking to me," the candidate told AFP,
with a timid smile and a nervous fidget of the hands. "But I managed to convince them."
Slama and his relatives are among the small number of Jews still living in Tunisia. The
community in the North African nation has shrunk from several hundred thousand before
independence in 1956, to just 1,200 today. While Jews in the country, which is
overwhelmingly Muslim, once served as lawmakers and even ministers, they have long since
slipped to the margins of politics. Slama believes his candidacy is helping to change all
that and has already "removed fears for Jewish Tunisian citizens."
Comrades in the Ennahdha party insist Slama is the right man to stand for office in
Monastira symbolic town for Tunisians as it is the birthplace of Habib Bourguiba,
the father of the country's independence. "He comes from an ancient family. He has his
roots in Monastir... and he knows the town's problems," says Chokri ben Janet, who heads
the party's candidate list in the town.
Slama says that despite its history as an Islamist party he opted for Ennahdha out of
political conviction, describing it as "the most active and the most serious on the
political scene. Ennahdha has changed its strategyit is no longer a religious party,
it is a civil party," he said. Taking stock from its experience in power after the 2011
revolution, it has worked hard to modernize its image. It opposed a project to criminalize
any attempt to normalize relations with Israel; a vote on the proposal was dropped this
Now some of its leading candidates are women who don't wear the Islamic veil. All of these
changesincluding Slama's candidacyhave drawn derision from some political
opponents who accuse the group of simple opportunism to bolster its vote. Others say that
interest in Slama's candidacy highlights that while Jews can practice their religion
freely they remain an anomaly in Tunisiaand shows the country still has a long way
to go on minority rights.
The media frenzy is testament to "this obsession we have of judging (people) on the basis
of something as personal as their religious conviction," says Yamina Thabet, an official
for Tunisia's Association for the Support of Minorities.
Some noteworthy figures have, nonetheless, thrown their weight behind Slama's bid for a
seat. "This candidacy brings pride for the Jewish community," says Rene Trabelsi, who
organizes the Jewish pilgrimage to Tunisia's famous Ghriba synagogue, on the island of
Djerba. "It has created a positive image of an open Tunisia that we can all share," says
the businessman, who was once a contender to become tourism minister.
And as for the candidate himself, he appears comfortable with his identity and the
attention his foray into politics has garnered. If he wins, Slama says, he is ready to
take the oath of office on "both the books"the Jewish Torah and the Muslim
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