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Kyrgystan urged to bring synagogue pipe-bombers to justice

September 14, 2010 Leave a comment

NEW YORK (Press Release) — The Anti-Defamation League on Tuesday called on the government of Kyrgyzstan to bring to justice those responsible for attacking a synagogue in the capital city of Bishkek with a nail-filled pipe bomb on the eve of the Jewish New Year.

In a letter to Kyrgyz President Roza Otunbayeva, Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director termed Kyrgyzstan’s response to the attack a test of her “promise to ensure the rule of law and effective government response in the face of ethnic violence.”

“A condemnation by you of this anti-Semitic attack and your public assurance that all efforts will be made to bring the perpetrators to justice will send the necessary message of zero tolerance for violent hate crimes and reassure the Jewish community,” wrote Mr. Foxman.

In her July 3 inaugural speech, President Otunbayeva addressed the issue of ethnic violence in Kyrgyzstan, noting that, “dark forces have spilled blood of many innocent people.” At the time she pledged to “spare no effort to create a new political culture for the country based on a strict adherence to the rule of law,” and would be “principled and consistently make demands on all branches of government to ensure it.”

The same synagogue in Bishkek was firebombed in April 2010, at which time the Jewish community appealed to the Kyrgyz government to take appropriate measures to guarantee its safety.

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Preceding provided by Anti-Defamation League

Explosive device hurled into empty synagogue courtyard in Kyrgyzstan

September 12, 2010 Leave a comment

BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan (Press Release)–An explosive device was hurled into the courtyard of the synagogue here on the first day of Rosh Hashanah (Thursday, Sept. 9). There were no injuries because no one was at the synagogue at the time of the attack, but there was damage to the walls of the synagogue from the shrapnel inside the explosive device, which included metal ball bearings and nails.

The Jewish Agency for Israel reported that it is following the situation in Bishkek closely and is in touch with Jewish community leaders, standing ready to assist the community with whatever needs may arise.

The former Soviet Republic of Kyrgyzstan went through a period of violent political unrest in April, and since then the situation has been tense for the Jewish community.

The Jewish Agency has been working to provide support to the country’s 1,500 Jews, almost all of whom live in the capital Bishkek. During the outbreak of violence in April, the Jewish Agency sent a special emissary to Bishkek to assist the community.

Following his visit, twelve community members made aliyah to Israel. Over the summer, the Jewish Agency operated a summer camp, which was run in conjunction with the community’s Jewish school. It provided Jewish children in the community with a respite and safe environment, offering classes, activities and field trips 

The attack Thursday marked the second attack on the synagogue in Bishkek; a first attack took place during the period of political violence in April. In the incident over Rosh Hashanah, congregants escaped what could have been lethal harm because they decided earlier to push off the hour of afternoon services, so no one was in the synagogue at the time of the attack. The efficacy of the explosive device was also diminished because, when hurled into the courtyard, it landed in a tub of water that had been prepared for the traditional tashlich service which was about to take place. Kyrgyz police are investigating the incident.

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Preceding provided by the Jewish Agency for Israel 

Jundullah movement terrorizing eastern Iran

July 16, 2010 1 comment

By Shoshana Bryen

Shoshana Bryen

WASHINGTON, D.C. –Thursday, July 15,  was designated “Revolutionary Guard Day” by the Iranian government. The same day, two bombs exploded in a mosque in the city of Zahedan, in southeastern Iran. According to Iranian reports, two suicide bombers entered the mosque and detonated themselves, killing 30 and injuring more than 100 people. The “People’s Resistance Movement of Iran” (PRMI or Jundallah) said the bombing was “retaliation.”
 
For what? In February, JINSA noted, “a Kyrgyzstan Airways commercial flight from Dubai bound for Bishkek was ordered by the Iranian government to land in Iran and a passenger, Abdolmalik Rigi, was taken off in handcuffs.” (JINSA Report #966) The lack of international interest in the forced landing and rendition of Rigi by Iran would have been mind-boggling except that it wasn’t done by Israel.
 
On June 20, Rigi was hanged in the Evin Prison in Teheran. IRNA, the Iranian news agency, said the execution was “carried out following a decision of the Tehran revolutionary tribunal” and quoted a court statement saying: “The head of the armed counter-revolutionary group in the east of the country…was responsible for armed robbery, assassination attempts, armed attacks on the army and police and on ordinary people, and murder.” His execution was called a “severe blow” to Jundullah.
 
Rigi’s brother Abdolhamid Rigi was executed one month earlier in Zahedan. The sentence was carried out in private, Iranian sources said, but with his family in attendance, presumably to ensure their future quiescence. The explosion in the mosque is an indication that at least some people were not cowed. The bombers, according to a Jundallah statement, were Mohammad and Abdolbaaset Rigi
 
It is unnecessary to know anything about the Jundallah organization to understand that the Iranian regime is secretly executing its enemies and is reaping the revenge. 

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Bryen is senior director of security policy of the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs.  Her column is sponsored by Waxie Sanitary Supply in memory of Morris Wax, longtime JINSA supporter and national board member.

Jews from war-torn Kyrgyzstan flown to Israel

June 21, 2010 Leave a comment

(WJC)–The Jewish Agency for Israel has brought 12 Jews from the conflict-torn former Soviet republic of Kyrgyzstan to Israel. The twelve were flown to Tel Aviv on Sunday and welcomed at a ceremony at the Jewish Agency for Israel’s Board of Governors assembly on Monday, alongside 650 other new immigrants. They were immediately made Israeli citizens.

Fewer than 70 Jews are thought to live in southern Kyrgyzstan. Most of the country’s estimated 1,500 Jews reside in the capital Bishkek. To date, no Jews are believed to have been harmed in the ethnic violence, which has cost the life of more than 2,000 people. An estimated 40,000 people have been displaced in fighting between ethnic Uzbeks and Kyrgyz that began earlier this month in the country’s south.

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Preceding provided by World Jewish Congress.

Roll call on Gaza flotilla portrays the values of international community

June 4, 2010 Leave a comment

By Shoshana Bryen

Shoshana Bryen

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Israel was victimized twice this week, first by terrorists hiding yet again among the civilian population (one Turkish-sponsored jihadi boat traveling with five more-or-less civilian boats) and second by a world all too ready to blame Israel for the violence engendered by those who sought a bloody death for themselves and any Jews they could take along. By the end of the week, things began to look more normal-those who are already against remained against; those who try to split the difference split it (consider the “abstain” list below); and a few stood honorably above the rest.   

1) Italy, Netherlands and the United States voted against resolution A/HRC/14/L.1, “Grave Attacks by Israeli Forces against the Humanitarian Boat Convoy” in the UN “Human Rights” Council. It is of note that the major Italian newspapers supported Israel editorially as well. In the United States, public opinion ran strongly in Israel’s favor, as usual. 
 
After a nasty and public denunciation of Israel by President Sarkozy and Foreign Minister Kouchner, France abstained, probably reminded that in 1985 French commandos sunk a Greenpeace ship in what was called Opération Satanique. (You know what a threat those satanic environmentalists pose to Paris.) France was joined by Belgium, Burkina Faso, Hungary, Japan, Republic of Korea, Slovakia, Ukraine and UK.
 
Voting in favor of the commission whose conclusion is in its title were Angola, Argentina, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Chile, China, Cuba, Djibouti, Egypt, Gabon, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Jordan, Kyrgyzstan, Mauritius, Mexico, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Norway, Pakistan, Philippines, Qatar, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Slovenia, South Africa, and Uruguay. 
 
Surprised?
 
2) President Obama: He almost got it right in a TV interview, but missed the essential point. “You’ve got a situation in which Israel has legitimate security concerns when they’ve got missiles raining down on cities along the Israel-Gaza border. I’ve been to those towns and seen the holes that were made by missiles coming through people’s bedrooms. Israel has a legitimate concern there.  On the other hand, you’ve got a blockage up that is preventing people in Palestinian Gaza from having job opportunities and being able to create businesses and engage in trade and have opportunity for the future.”
 
The President doesn’t know, or didn’t say, that Hamas is responsible both for the attacks on Israel and for the misery of the Palestinians in Gaza. Instead, he wanted to “work with all parties concerned-the Palestinian Authority, the Israelis, the Egyptians and others-and I think Turkey can have a positive voice in this whole process once we’ve worked through this tragedy. And bring everybody together…”
 
Aside from the fact that Turkey is fully complicit in the incident and thus should forfeit any seat at any future table, the Palestinian Authority has not represented Gaza Palestinians since Hamas evicted it in a bloody putsch in 2007. Instead of hoping to “bring everybody together…” the President should be working to evict Hamas from Gaza, for the sake of the Palestinians as much as anyone else.
 
3) The Czech Republic: Small countries that know what it means to disappear when others find them inconvenient stick together and we are grateful that they do. The President of the Czech Senate, Dr. Přemysl Sobotka, told Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin, “As a doctor, I certainly regret any loss of life, but there is no doubt that this was a planned provocation designed to drag Israel into a trap… Many in the European community feel as I do, but they are afraid to speak out publicly… I support the position that views Hamas as a terrorist organization… It is too bad that European countries present an unbalanced position on this matter. Unfortunately, the positions of the international community are not always to my taste, particularly in Europe.”
 
We are reminded that 18 months ago, the Czech foreign minister issued this statement: “I consider it unacceptable that villages in which civilians live have been shelled. Therefore, Israel has an inalienable right to defend itself against such attacks. The shelling from the Hamas side makes it impossible to consider this organization as a partner for negotiations and to lead any political dialogue with it.”
 
And finally…
 
4) Mesheberach: During the Jewish Sabbath service, there is a prayer is for those who are ill or injured.   The “Mesheberach” includes the name of the person for whom the prayer is offered and, in an unusual practice, the name of the person’s mother rather than his or her father. Whether in the synagogue or not, we hope readers will remember the six soldiers injured while protecting the people of Israel:

Dean Ben (son of) Svetlana
Roee Ben (son of) Shulamit
Daniel Lazar Ben (son of) Tina Leah
Yotam Ben (son of) Dorit
Ido Ben (son of) Ilana
Boris Ben (son of) Eelaina

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Bryen is senior director of security policy of the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs.  Her column is sponsored by Waxie Sanitary Supply in memory of Morris Wax, longtime JINSA supporter and national board member.

Turkey bidding for greater influence in Middle East

May 18, 2010 1 comment

By Shoshana Bryen

Shoshana Bryen

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Turkey and Brazil announced they have “brokered” a “deal” to bring some percentage of Iranian LEU (Low Enriched Uranium) to Turkey. The “deal” is a fraud-without knowing how much uranium Iran has, you cannot know how much it “lent” to Turkey and how much remains in its weapons program. And knowing that Iran has lied about every single stage of its nuclear program, we will assume it is lying about this stage as well.
 
So much for Iran.
 
But there is something compelling about a country that looks at its position, determines its interests, and changes course to achieve new objectives. Turkey has done that. 
 
Let us be clear: we don’t have to like the direction or the choices; we don’t have to support them; and we don’t think the United States should treat Turkey as if it hadn’t made those choices. That was one reason we wrote-and strongly believe-that the Congress of the United States is the wrong place to parse and judge someone else’s history. Our Armenian friends entirely misunderstood-we were neither denying nor denigrating their history. But Congress has to be about the present and, more important, about the future. Our ongoing irritation with our Congress and our Administration is that they find it easier to pronounce on a past for which they are not responsible than to deal with present circumstances. 
 
For the moment, it may be easier but it is shortsighted in the extreme.
 
After decades of resolutely secular, pro-Western economic and security policy, during which it was resolutely rejected by Europe, the Turkish government, specifically the AKP, surveyed the landscape in the absence of the Soviet Union and the apparent decline of the United States and decided to stop banging its head against a closed European door.  Turkey, in their view, didn’t have to be the stepchild of Europe; it has a strong military, a good economy in regional terms and historic interests.
 
Turkey certainly will not give up the benefits bestowed by NATO membership and is unlikely to do anything to hamper its economic ties to the West. It is unlikely to actually sever ties with Israel while there are still benefits to be had. It simply has added new portfolios, Muslim portfolios. Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan are all Turkic, all Muslim, all post-Soviet and all amenable to leadership from Ankara (although the coup in Kyrgyzstan was a setback).

New military relations with Syria and Russia, increased political relations with Iran, the hosting of Hamas leadership and increasingly strident rhetoric are signs of Turkey’s belief that it can do as it pleases, at least in the region. 
 
There are those who believe Turkey is aiming to re-establish the old Ottoman Empire and others who think the goal is restoration of the Caliphate. Maybe, or maybe it is just opportunistic push back. In any case, the result is likely to be inimical to American and Western interests.
 
We have two thoughts: Turkey’s future choices in the region will be much more important to the United States than any possible benefit of looking backwards at the collapse of the Ottoman Empire.   
 
Was that only one thought? Yes, it was one thought about Turkey. The second thought is about the United States. 
 
The Turks stopped begging Europe for entry and considered their options; the United States should do no less. The clock cannot be turned back to 1948 any more than to 1915. The Obama Administration should stop begging the Palestinians to let us force Israel to manufacture a small, kleptocratic, dictatorial, terrorist-sponsoring welfare regime wedged in between two of our regional allies. Stop trying to create “two states” where three governing bodies currently exist with no likely mergers. 
 
Stop blaming Israel for American difficulties in the region that have nothing to do with it. 
 
Face the issues of perceived American inability to deal with radical Islamic ideology and the wars it engenders and deal with them. Face the fact that radical Islamic ideology is, at its core, forward looking-not a slap at the past, but a belief in the Islamic future. Turkey and “the Stans” are in that mix. So are Iran, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Libya and, increasingly, the failed states of Africa. Russia and China are heavily involved, and not necessarily on our side.
 
As with the congressional fixation on the Ottomans to the exclusion of the Turkish future, it is easier for the Administration to keep pounding on Israel for its alleged intransigence than to accept that the “peace process” is over and serious American interests for the future lie elsewhere.  
 
It is equally shortsighted.

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Bryen is senior director of security policy of the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs.  Her column is sponsored by Waxie Sanitary Supply in memory of Morris Wax, longtime JINSA supporter and national board member.

Why would U.S. want Afghan pilots trained in Lebanon or Syria?

April 23, 2010 Leave a comment

By Shoshana Bryen

Shoshana Bryen

WASHINGTON, D.C — The U.S. Department of the Army put out a request for information on “Afghanistan National Army Air Corps English and Pilot Training.”

The Program Executive Office for Simulation, Training & Instrumentation (PEO STRI) is conducting market research by seeking sources with innovative business solutions to (1) train and certify up to 67 Afghani student pilots to an International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) English level 4 in the English language; and (2) provide basic rotary wing or fixed wing Commercial Pilot Training to the European Joint Aviation Authority (JAA) standards.

It is desired that the English language and basic pilot training take place within South West Asia. PEO STRI requests information on sources available to perform training in Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, U.A.E, Uzbekistan, Yemen or other locations in Southwest Asia with the capability to provide requested training.

How is it possible that Syria, a charter and current member of the U.S. State Department list of terrorism-supporting countries, is considered an acceptable place to train Afghan pilots? Or Lebanon, which has Hezbollah as a member of the governing cabinet in Beirut? Hezbollah is a charter and current member of the U.S. State Department list of terrorist organizations, and until September 11, 2001, had killed more Americans than any other terrorist group. Didn’t Kyrgyzstan just have a coup inspired/financed by Russia? Wouldn’t training pro-Western Afghan pilots in Pakistan send those people from the frying pan into the fire? Isn’t Yemen home to some of the most virulently anti-American, anti-Western al Qaeda operatives and preachers, including Anwar al-Awlakiwho was talking to U.S. Army Major Nidal Hassan before he killed 13 Americans at Ft. Hood?
 
Aside from the fact that some of the countries listed are not in South West Asia, as the request for information requires, not one is remotely democratic. OK, we’ll give Jordan a few points and some to Iraq, but that’s it. 
 
What would possess the United States Army to expose Afghani pilots, who are supposed to secure a functional and consensual state in Afghanistan, to countries where the governments are almost uniformly totalitarian, functionally repressive, less than hospitable to reform or dissent, and have women in positions of legal inferiority? Saudi Arabia is the financier of a particularly repressive, homophobic, misogynistic and anti-Semitic form of Islam exported around the world.
 
We did not expect to see Israel on the list, although Israel certainly is capable of training pilots to the European Joint Aviation Authority standards, and a few months in Israel would impart some Western governmental, judicial and social norms, including religious and political tolerance.
 
But if not Israel, why not Britain or Italy or France or Spain or Portugal? Why not Denmark or Colombia or Mali or Uruguay? Why not India or Indonesia or Taiwan or Japan?
 
The list is clearly weighted toward the part of the world to which President Obama wishes to show American comity. Unfortunately, it is also a part of the world in which neither American policies nor American values are particularly welcome items on the agenda. The list and the thinking behind it are political mistakes that should be corrected. Certainly, they should be corrected before we give the Afghanis the idea that the norms of Syria and Lebanon are ones we want them to adopt.

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Bryen is senior director of security policy of the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs.  Her column is sponsored by Waxie Sanitary Supply in memory of Morris Wax, longtime JINSA supporter and national board member