Newsletter : 19fx0215.txt
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At Warsaw Parley, Israel's Anti-Iran Front is stretched to Yemen, Iraq
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, while seated next to Yemen's Foreign Minister Khaled
al-Yamani on Feb. 14, hailed the Warsaw conference as "historic" if only for the
unprecedented seating arrangements. The US, which co-hosted the Conference for Middle East
Peace and Security as a major vehicle for the Trump administration's campaign against
Iran, most likely engineered those arrangements.
The event targeted the opponents of the anti-Iran campaign, at home and in Europe. It was
also intended to boost Saudi Arabia, whose armed forces have been battling Iran-backed
Yemeni Houthi insurgents for four years, and the United Arab Emirate, whose army is
fighting alongside the Saudis in Yemen.
For Israel, the event served as a huge campaign boon for Netanyahu whose Likud is
campaigning for re-election on April 9. He was shown easily hobnobbing with world leaders
on an international stage, notably in amicable first-time encounters with Arab rulers. His
seating alongside the Yemeni foreign minister flashed around the media, the day after he
met with Omani Foreign Minister Yusuf bin Alawi bin Abdullah.
That juxtaposition also carries a price. Secretary of State Pompeo used it as a symbol of
the US administration's expectations of Israel for a larger military role alongside the
US, Saudi Arabia and the UAE in the Yemeni war. The Houthi insurgents are supported not
only by Iran but also by Hizbullah, Israel's arch-enemies. Until now Israeli assistance to
the Yemeni government went through Saudi Arabia.
In his speech to the Warsaw gathering, Pompeo stressed that the Middle East would not
achieve peace and stability without confronting Iran. "It's just not possible," he said.
They are operating in Lebanon, Syria, and Iraq; they support the Houthis in Yemen, as well
as Hamas and Hizbullah, all of whom pose real threats. The Iranians must be pushed out of
those places," said Pompeo. For the IDF and its intelligence army, the penny has dropped.
Netanyahu returns from Warsaw with new Israeli war fronts outside its borders, following
on his praise of Arab foreign ministers for speaking with "exceptional power, clarity and
unity against the shared threat posed by the Iranian regime."
In Washington, President Donald Trump faced a hostile front to the campaign he is leading
internationally against Iran when the House Democratic majority passed a resolution on
Thursday for ending US military support for the Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen. The
measure passed 248 to 177, and was supported by 230 Democrats and 18 Republicans.
Netanyahu Publicly Flouts Poland's Holocaust Law
Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu mocked Poland's controversial Holocaust
censorship law on Thursday, publicly flouting the law during a state visit to Warsaw.
"Poles collaborated with the Nazis," said Netanyahu in Warsaw. "See, I'm saying it. It is
a fact. And I don't know a single person who was ever sued because of it." Netanyahu added
that the issue of Poland's Holocaust censorship law was raised during his meeting with
Polish Premier Mateusz Morawiecki.
In response, Kan reported, Morawiecki's office released a statement calling Netanyahu's
comments "surprising." He also tweeted Thursday evening, writing that there was "no Polish
regime" during the Nazi occupation, emphasizing that both Jews and Poles suffered under
German rule. "In German-occupied Poland, there was no Polish regime - a great
misunderstanding regarding the conditions of the war. Both the Poles and Jews were
savagely murdered by the Germans. Polish soldiers fought every day of WWII for the freedom
and life of all nations."
Last year, Poland passed the controversial law which took effect in March 2018. The
legislation, popularly known as the "Holocaust Law" or "Holocaust Censorship Law", makes
it illegal to use the phrase "Polish death camps", and bars discussion of Polish collusion
or collaboration with the Nazis during their occupation of Poland during the Second World
War. Violators of the law could face up to three years in prison.
The law drew heavy criticism from the Israeli government, with the US State Department
also expressing opposition to the bill. Polish opposition parties also criticized the law,
and proposed to amend the bill.
Hizbullah Hints at Attacks on Israeli Passenger Aircraft
By Israel Hayom
In a video circulated on social media to mark the anniversary of former Hizbullah
military commander Imad Mughniyeh's death, the terrorist group appears to be threatening
to attack Israeli passenger flights and popular tourist destinations in Israel. Mughniyeh
was assassinated in Damascus in 2008, in an operation that Hizbullah has attributed to the
Mossad and CIA. Images in the video include El Al planes as well as pictures of Ben-Gurion
International Airport, passports, and the arrivals and departures board at Ben-Gurion.
Hizbullah has not been officially confirmed as the entity that compiled the video, which
was published by Mughniyeh's sister, Zeinab.
The general message of the video is one of revenge for airstrikes on weapons stockpiles
belonging to Hizbullah and Iran in Syria and Lebanon, attributed to Israel. Hizbullah has
been busy on social media in general. On Tuesday, the organization launched a campaign
targeting senior Israeli politicians and other public figures via the WhatsApp and
Telegram instant messaging applications.
One of the messages includes a photo of Mughniyeh, with the caption: "Revenge is
inevitable, and the goal is clear, specific and precise removing Israel from
existence." The messages were primarily Hizbullah propaganda, and the unusual initiative
appears designed to coincide with Israeli election season.
The Last Jewish Town in Azerbaijan
Qirmizi was once known as the Jerusalem of the Caucasus, but the once bustling community
now lives on memories and longing for people and times gone by.
In a small cafe in Qirmizi, Azerbaijan, a few elderly mountain Jews chat over a strong tea
with sugar cubes. They speak Juhuro, the forsaken tongue of Caucasus Jews. It's a kind of
Persian mixed with Hebrew. One of them, an elderly man with a big white mustache and a
black cap, proudly shows off his arm, decorated with a flower tattoo. "I had it done when
I was 20 years old. So that when I'm old, I'll remember my youthful days," he said.
The cafe has a small shaded yard with two tables covered in oilcloth and a pile of
firewood next to them. It gets cold here in winters, on the foothills of the Greater
Caucasus. An old Lada, essentially a tin can on wheels, is parked under a weeping willow
tree. There are many Ladas on Azerbaijan's roads, plodding alongside some extremely
Qirmizi, also known as Krasnaya Sloboda ("Red Village" in Russian), is one of only two
communities outside Israel with an entirely Jewish population (the second being Kiryas
Joel in New York State.) Some 3,000-4,000 people live here, but at noon the streets appear
empty. Some residents have businesses in Moscow and only come here for the holidays. The
grand manse of Zerach Ilayev, a man whose fortune is estimated at $3 billion, stands empty
in the center of town. The air is full of longinga longing for the children who have
left, for the grandchildren who live in Israel or the US. A longing for the days when this
place was called the Jerusalem of the Caucasus.
But Qirmizi still has a lively side to it, which we experienced in the cemetery. The first
thing you notice in the cemetery is the facesdozens of faces looking at you from all
the black tombstones. The faces of the dead men, women and children. Some tombstones are
covered in white plastic. The custom here is to only unveil the tombstone a year after the
parting, and until then it's kept covered. One tombstone has a stone bird figurine on it.
"This means the deceased left no children behind him," our guide explains.
We spot a small area with four tombstones together: mother Golda, father Ephraim and
children Eliya and Hava. Eliya was seven and Hava was five when the whole family died in a
plane crash in Russia 10 years ago. A marble plaque shows a family picture under the image
of a Boeing 737.
Down the road are the older graves, from a century ago, some broken and others almost
illegible. Hezi, the graveyard keeper asked us to translate some inscriptions from Hebrew.
"Here lies the woman who was killed by brutal gentiles in Quba. Shunamit daughter of
Nisan, in the year 5678 (1918)."
The Quba in question is Azerbaijan's capital of carpet weaving and apple plantations,
located across the River Kudyal from the capital Baku. The river is dry in early winter,
but when the snows thaw up in the summits, it overflows. Three bridges separate Qirmizi
and Quba. One of them, a bridge that's closed to vehicles, is referred to as "`the love
bridge" and functions as the city's JDate. This is where the single Jewish men and
women come to meet a match. "Girls walk the bridge with their mothers," Eli explains,
"while the guys look on from the banks. If a guy sees a girl he likes, his parents will
approach her parents and ask for her hand."
Not exactly what you would find on the curriculum of a gender studies program, but in
Azerbaijan, it works. Around the corner from the bridge is the city's wedding venue
a pillared hall that houses weddings, bar mitzvahs and circumcisions. There's a huge photo
of the Western Wall inside. "So what kind of presents do you bring?" we asked our guide.
"Checks, of course," he said. "A minimum of 100 Azeri manat"the equivalent of NIS
220 or approximately $60.
A local kosher restaurant supplies everything you need for the big day. The feast menu
includes juicy kebabs that can also be found everywhere from roadside stalls en route to
Baku to the fancy restaurants once you get there; Dushpere, a soup with meat-stuffed
dumplings; and Dolmavine or cabbage leaves stuffed with meat. Then there's the
pickles, of coursenot only cucumbers, but also olives, peppers stuffed with cabbage,
tomatoes and cherries. And add alcohol, and a band that plays Azar music with Persian
instruments like kamancha and Tar. All this for $22 per personnot a bad deal.
Azerbaijan is a Muslim Shiite country, with most Azaris living in nearby Iran and making
up 25% of the population there. But people here love Israel, and not only because we buy
their oil and sell them weapons (including Iron Dome systems, which are lined across the
Azari border with Armenia.) The local Jews are respected and treated with tolerance. In
central Baku, Jews wearing kippas walk around undisturbednot something you would see
in Paris or other European cities nowadays.
A small sign informs us of the contribution of Azari Jews to their homeland: a plaque
commemorating a young Jew, Albert Agrovich, who fought and died in the infamous war
against Armenia in the 1990s over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region. By the tea house
there's a statue of a Soviet soldier, commemorating "the Great Patriotic War," during
which the Red Army stopped Hitler from conquering the oil-rich Caucasus and murdering its
During Soviet times, there were 11 synagogues in Qirmizi, but they weren't in use
Communism was the only religion. And yet the mountain Jews continued to preserve their
faith and customs in their homesobserving the Sabbath, fasting on Yom Kippur. Most
of them didn't even know why. "If you asked a Jew why he observes Shabbat, the answer was
`because my grandfather told me to," says Eli.
Today there are only two synagogues left in in the town, but they are both active. The
larger one was closed so we visit the smaller one. The beadle asks us to remove our shoes,
and when we enter we understood why: the floor is adorned with colorful and magnificent
Azari carpets (such a carpet can reach a cost of NIS 10,000 or $2,500). Every day 25-30
people come to pray here, and during holidays it's packed. There's even a Siddur (Jewish
prayer book) in Juhuru, the local dialect. Neither my wife nor I are religious, but here,
standing in the last Jewish town in Azerbaijan, we pray.
Fox News Rejects Ad for Anti-Nazi Film
By the Jerusalem Post
Fox News told the creators of an Oscar-nominated documentary about a Nazi rally in the
United States that it could not air a commercial on its network. According to The
Hollywood Reporter, Fox News rejected a 30-second spot, titled It Can Happen Here, saying
it was "not appropriate for our air."
The short clip was intended as both a PSA and a promotion for the documentary short, A
Night at the Garden, which spotlights a 1939 Nazi rally at Madison Square Garden in New
York City. The 30-second ad shows footage from the rally itself, and then cuts to a black
screen with the words "It can happen here." The film's distributor requested the ad run
during the popular Fox News show Hannity.
Fox News Channel's president of ad sales, Marianne Gambelli, said: "The ad in question is
full of disgraceful Nazi imagery regardless of the film's message and did not meet our
guidelines," according to Variety. The director of the film told The Hollywood Reporter
that "It's amazing to me that the CEO of Fox News would personally inject herself into a
small ad buy just to make sure that Hannity viewers weren't exposed to this chapter of
The Hollywood Reporter said that the clip will air in the local Los Angeles market on
Thursday evening, but was prevented from running nationally. But Variety speculated that
the film's advertisers knew it would be rejected, and were seeking publicity from the
exchange. "In many cases, the commercial in question is not suitable for air, or the
advertiser can't afford to pay the fees required for national distribution," wrote
Variety's Brian Steinberg, noting that the ad has yet to air on any national TV network.
"The claims of rejection can sometimes spur some media outlets to make a bigger issue out
of what is often typical business procedure."
But IndieWire a respected film industry site reported that Fox News CEO
Suzanne Scott directly intervened in the decision. According to IndieWire's Christian
Blauvelt, Fox News has aired commercials with similar footage in the past. The site cited
an ad for Dinesh D'Souza's 2018 film Death of a Nation, which includes Nazi imagery and
swastikas, and a Simon Wiesenthal Center spot which shows Holocaust footage. By contrast,
the It Can Happen Here commercial has no voiceover, and only references the film at the
end of the clip.
The film was nominated alongside four others for the best documentary short Academy Award.
The winner will be announced during the ceremony next Sunday.
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