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Cheshvan 19, 5773 / Sunday, Nov. 04 ’12
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- 1. Sandy Backlash against Obama as ‘Refugees’ Await Help
- 2. Police Arrest 25 Men Wearing Nazi Swastikas in Downtown Moscow
- 3. Krauthammer Predicts: Romney Will Win by Narrow Margin
- 4. School Textbook Confusing Judaism and Islam Withdrawn
- 5. ‘Jerusalem, Ramallah 7 Min. Apart. Let’s Talk.’
- 6. Jerusalem: Jews Confront Arabs after Stabbing
- 7. Former Neo-Nazi: Joining Taliban was a ‘Terrible Mistake’
- 8. Report: Iran Suspends 20% Uranium Enrichment
1. Sandy Backlash against Obama as ‘Refugees’ Await Help
by Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
Frankenstorm Sandy is long gone, but it still is around politically, threatening to turn its “gift” of votes for President Barack Obama into a boomerang.
Last week’s unprecedented storm that virtually shut down New York and surrounding areas gave the president a chance to show off his leadership. He ostensibly ignored the election campaign to display care and concern for victims.
Obama ordered all government agencies to move into high gear to restore life to normal for millions of people without electricity and tens of thousands others whose homes were destroyed or sustained serious flood damage.
Five days later, a Bloomberg survey showed that recovery attempts are lagging behind similar efforts after Hurricane Irene last year.
More than 3.5 million people still are without electricity or are suffering from blackouts, and power may not be restored to some residents for more than a week.
Sandy’s death toll now is 103. The biggest hurdle to recovery continued to be a severe lack of gasoline, AFP reported.
Huge lines of cars and people on foot clutching canisters snaked back from gas stations, and New Jersey governor Chris Christie announced rationing.
Starting Saturday, drivers with license plates ending in an even number were only allowed to fill up on even-numbered dates, while those whose plates end in odd numbers plates had to wait for odd-number dates.
New figures from the federal Energy Information Administration said that 38 percent of gas stations around New York were still out of order, sharply down from 67 percent on Friday.
Relief was slower than hoped for drivers who were told to stay away from makeshift fuel stations on the first day of the scheme to give priority to emergency vehicles. At one site in the Bronx, the promised fuel tanker had not arrived by late afternoon, according to an AFP correspondent.
Most of the New York City subway system is running, but frustrations were increasingly boiling over in worst hit neighborhoods in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut
“I’m seeing frustration, disorganization and slow recovery,” Matthew Cordaro, a 40-year power industry veteran and former chief operating officer of Long Island Lighting Co., told Bloomberg.
“It’s verging on anger at this point,” said Senator Richard Blumenthal, a Connecticut Democrat.
The anger may be expressed into votes against Obama, who is credited by most polls with holding a razor-thin edge over Republican challenger Mitt Romney.
““Now that we are all appalled by the lack of food, gas, water, heat, and the basic essentials of life throughout the storm zone, Obama’s government doesn’t look so good anymore,” wrote Dick Morris, a former pollster and considered one of the most powerful advisors in the administration of President Bill Clinton.
“Why didn’t FEMA stockpile food, water, and gasoline?” he asked. “We had a week’s notice to prepare for Sandy. There was no shortage of time. Did the government not realize that people needed to eat, drink, and drive?”
Morris predicted that Obama will lose the election.
“All throughout America, we are asking these questions of our television sets as we watch the evolving story of human misery… When Obama said that voting was ‘the best revenge,’ he threw away whatever presidentiality he displayed in touring storm damage earlier in the week,” Morris wrote.
“Particularly when we see the juxtaposition of the mounting disaster in New York and New Jersey and the president out on the campaign trail attacking his opponents, we realize that Obama is a candidate before he is president, more worried about his second term than the welfare of his constituents.
“In yesterday’s polling numbers, I saw a rise in Obama’s ratings and warned that the race was far from over. Now, we see him throwing it all away and resuming his crash into a single term presidency.”
2. Police Arrest 25 Men Wearing Nazi Swastikas in Downtown Moscow
by Rachel Hirshfeld
Russian police have detained 25 men wearing black field overcoats with images of Nazi swastikas in Moscow Sunday, the RIA Novosti news service reported.
The arrests coincided with Unity Day, a national holiday established by the Kremlin in 2005 to replace commemorations of the Bolshevik Revolution.
“The Moscow police have detained 25 people in black field overcoats with the swastika near the Tretyakovskaya metro station who were chanting slogans,” a police spokesman said.
The detainees have been taken to a police station where the charges of administrative offences will be brought against them, the spokesman said.
Thousands of nationalists marched through the Russian capital, chanting slogans including “Moscow is a Russian city” to express their resentment of dark-complexioned migrants from the Caucasus and Central Asia.
For much of his first two presidential terms in 2000-2008, Vladimir Putin cultivated nationalist sentiment.
By the end of his second term, however, racist violence had skyrocketed and more than 100 immigrants were murdered yearly from 2007 to 2009, according to the Sova Center, which monitors far-right groups.
A crackdown began in 2010 when thousands of nationalist soccer fans clashed with riot police outside the Kremlin. Since then, convictions for violent hate crimes have risen sharply, according to Sova.
The most prominent nationalist groups, including the Slavic Union and the Movement Against Illegal Immigration, were banned for extremism, however their leaders have managed to start other groups with similar ideologies.
3. Krauthammer Predicts: Romney Will Win by Narrow Margin
by Rachel Hirshfeld
National syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer said that while he believes Tuesday’s election will be extremely close, Mitt Romney will ultimately take the presidency.
Speaking to Sean Hannity on Fox News, Krauthammer called Obama the “luckiest politician” he’s ever seen after the president received a boost this week from Hurricane Sandy.
He explained that when Sandy hit, it froze the race and Romney’s momentum, allowing Obama to be in the spotlight.
“Inevitably, you get to play commander-in-chief, you get to be in the Situation Room. Of course, he wasn’t on Libya, but that’s another issue. And then, of course, he gets to stand out there with the Governor of New Jersey, a Republican. So he can now play the bipartisan, whereas he’s run the most partisan administration, probably in the last 50 years,” said Krauthammer.
“So he gets all of those images… priceless stuff that you couldn’t possibly get in advertising,” Krauthammer continued. “Then there’s the subliminal thing which is in a disaster the party in government has the upper hand. If there’s anything that we need government for it’s war, national emergencies- domestic and foreign.”
Nonetheless, predicting the outcome of the election, Krauthammer said that while the recent events have helped Obama “slightly recover in the polls” Romney will ultimately win the election by a narrow margin.
4. School Textbook Confusing Judaism and Islam Withdrawn
by Rachel Hirshfeld
A religious studies textbook is so littered with errors confusing Judaism and Islam that it has prompted a school to produce its own four-page leaflet of corrections, The Telegraph reported.
The AQA English exam board’s religious studies textbook for the General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE), produced by the educational publishers Nelson Thornes, was so ridden with misinformation that staff at the Jewish Free School (JFS), in Kenton, North West London, have been forced to issue a list of corrections.
“It was so bad, the teacher kept telling us, ‘Don’t listen to this, ignore this, half of this is wrong,’” one student said.
The Telegraph report quotes a parent telling the Jewish Chronicle, “The textbook contains countless errors and general, confused assertions about Judaism. The factual errors are laughably bad.”
“A section headed ‘Reform Judaism’ in fact talks about the practice of Orthodox Jews. A picture of a person kneeling in prayer, described as a Jew, is in fact a Muslim, while a picture of Jews ostensibly at a Seder table, is a Shabbat meal,” the parent continued. “Other assertions in the text, including commentaries on women who wear wigs, and why Jews think they do what they do, are misleading and offensive.”
Religious studies GCSE is a compulsory examination at JFS and an estimated 300 students take the exam each year. The parent said that GCSE students at JFS had been instructed to look at the school’s corrections each time they needed to refer to the textbook.
JFS had to reach agreement with the AQA that if students used the correct information about Judaism it would not be marked incorrect by examiners, because it did not coincide with the information in the textbook.
“AQA doesn’t publish text books. We do liaise with publishers to try to ensure references to our syllabus are accurate; however the publisher is responsible for the content of the book and, therefore, any errors,” said a spokesperson for AQA.
“JFS brought the errors to our attention and we raised them with the publisher,” the spokesperson continued. “This book is being reprinted by the publisher and we have asked them to address these concerns.”
The school’s head-teacher, Jonathan Miller, said, “We have worked closely with AQA over the past year and are pleased that they are preparing a new draft of the Judaism text book which will deal with any inaccuracies.”
Steven Mintz, the head of Jewish studies at Manchester’s King David High School, confirmed that he had co-written the textbook, but declined to comment further, according to The Telegraph.
5. ‘Jerusalem, Ramallah 7 Min. Apart. Let’s Talk.’
by Chana Ya’ar
Flip-flopping by Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas over whether it is really time to sit down and talk about peace is being taken with equanimity by Israeli government leaders.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu noted in his remarks at the opening of Sunday’s weekly cabinet meeting that he remains ready to sit down for final status talks with the PA leader.
“I watched President Abbas’s interview over the weekend,” Netanyahu said. “I have heard that he has already managed to go back on his remarks. This only proves the importance of direct negotiations without preconditions.
“Only in direct negotiations will it be possible to clarify what the true positions are. Generally, I can say that if Abu Mazen is really serious and intends to advance peace, as far as I am concerned, we can sit together immediately. Jerusalem and Ramallah are only seven minutes apart; I am ready to start negotiations today,” Netanyahu said bluntly.
“I will take this opportunity to again call on President Abbas to return to the negotiating table without preconditions, because peace may be advanced only around the negotiating table and not via unilateral decisions in the United Nations General Assembly, which will only push peace further away and will only lead to instability.”
Abbas had told Channel 2 Israeli television on Friday that he accepts the fact that he cannot return to his pre-1948 home in Tzfat. Abbas said in the interview, “I am a refugee but I am living in Ramallah. I believe that [Judea and Samaria] and Gaza is Palestine, and the other part is Israel. I want to see Tzfat,” he said, “It is my right to see it, but not to live there.”
Within hours, leaders in the rival shadow PA government and residents of Gaza, as well as PA Arabs in Judea and Samaria, protested Abbas’s remarks, including members of his own Fatah faction.
In Israel, his remarks were lavishly praised by Israeli President Shimon Peres, who said, “These are significant words. These positions stand exactly in line with those of Israel and with the clear majority of the population, which supports the solution of two states for two peoples.
“This is a brave and important public declaration in which [Abbas] makes clear that his aim for a state is only within [Judea and Samaria] and Gaza, and not in the [pre-1967] territory of the State of Israel,” the president said. “Abu Mazen’s (Abbas’s terrorist nom de guerre) courageous words prove that Israel has a real partner for peace,” Peres added.
But the euphoria lasted less than 24 hours — by early Saturday, Abbas had already backpedaled, and “clarified” his stand in an interview with the semi-official Al-Hayat newspaper. He said that his comments on not returning to live within the 1967 borders were a personal, and not policy choice.
“What I said about Tzfat is my personal stance,” he explained. “No one would give up their right of return. But all those international formulas, especially that of 194, speak of a just and agreed-upon solution to the refugee issue, and ‘agreed-upon’ means on the part of Israel,’ he insisted.
Moreover, he said, he has not given up his demand for the “right of return” for PA Arab refugees – meaning not only a demand for Arabs to return to the original homes they fled in 1948 and 1967, but also the same right for the millions of Arab descendents in the generations since born to them in foreign lands. This would comprise an immigration to Israel of more than five million Arabs – while Abbas refuse the right of even one lone Jew to remain in his or her home should the Palestinian Authority be granted the right to establish a sovereign state on land in Judea, Samaria and Gaza.
Israel’s Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman noted, “What’s important is what Abu Mazen tells his own people in Arabic, not what he tells the Israeli public in English.”
6. Jerusalem: Jews Confront Arabs after Stabbing
by Gil Ronen[youtube:127136]
Jews confronted Arabs outside the Jerusalem neighbor hood of Maaleh Zeitim on the Mount of Olives Saturday evening, 24 hours after Arabs stabbed a Jewish man there.
The stabbing victim is Avraham Tau, son of the Dean of Har Hamor Yeshiva in Jerusalem, Rabbi Zvi Tau, a venerated Torah sage in the religious Zionist sector. Avraham Tau, whose wounds were defined as “moderate,” is in the Intensive Care Unit of Hadassah Ein Karem Hospital, and is reportedly in stable condition.
Two Jews who tried to block the road in the course of the protest were detained by police. Arabs fired some fireworks into the air in order to intimidate the Jews. Police detained an Arab who tried to attack a policeman.
Avraham Tau and another Jew were walking together from the Western Wall toward Maaleh Zeitim when two terrorists attacked him, stabbing him in the back. The two Jews kept on walking toward Maaleh Zeitim, where the injured man received initial treatment.
Jerusalem activist Aryeh King said that more than 50 Jews have been attacked in the same spot outside the neighborhood in the past two years. Residents demanded that police establish a deterrent presence in the location.
Photos: Yishai Fleisher
7. Former Neo-Nazi: Joining Taliban was a ‘Terrible Mistake’
by Rachel Hirshfeld
A former neo-Nazi who joined the Taliban and attacked an American base near the Afghan-Pakistan border has told a German court that he regrets his decision to become a terrorist saying he “made a terrible mistake”.
The 27-year-old German, identified only as Thomas U, converted to Islam and enrolled in the German Taliban Mujahidin, (DTM) before travelling with his wife to the war-torn region, The London Times reported.
The aspiring jihadist, who is being charged with being a member of the DTM from December 2009 until July 2010 and taking part in an attack on an American base, testified in court that he lamented his fellow combatants’ drug habits, lack of hygiene, contracting hepatitis A and seeing his friends get killed on the battlefield.
He also said that his wife missed comforts such as her cell phone and shopping at the supermarket.
The couple fled to Istanbul, Turkey, in 2010 after his wife became pregnant but were immediately arrested.
According to the report in the London newspaper, Thoman U paid 5,000 euros to travel to the Afghan-Pakistan border in 2009, and was trained to use firearms and explosives. He even appeared in a Taliban propaganda video, boasting that the attack “disrupted the Christmas spirit” on the American base.
After DTM’s co-founder Eric Breininger and Dutch national “Danny R” were killed by Pakistani forces in April 2010, however, he became disillusioned with the terror mission.
“I admit that I made a terrible mistake,” he said in a statement to the Berlin court. “It was a terrible experience. I was shocked at the lack of hygiene, people were spitting and vomiting. My wife was very unhappy because traditionally women are treated badly.”
“I had only seen one dead body before, of my grandmother. The sight of their mutilated bodies really affected me,” he added. “From then on I no longer wanted to take part in violence, I had been completely wrong.”
8. Report: Iran Suspends 20% Uranium Enrichment
by Elad Benari
Iran has suspended 20-percent uranium enrichment in order to have Western-imposed sanctions lifted, a parliament member told the Al Arabiya network on Saturday.
Earlier, according to the report, Foreign Policy and National Security Commission of Parliament Mohammad Hossein Asfari told the ISNA news agency that Tehran’s move was a “good will” gesture, hoping that Western countries will lift their sanctions on Tehran.
Fereydoun Abbasi, head of Iran’s atomic energy organization, said this past week that Tehran was completing the installation of centrifuges at the Fordow uranium enrichment plant.
U.S. and EU measures slashed Iran’s crude oil exports, hitting its hard currency earnings and contributing to a plunge in the rial’s value. The International Energy Agency estimated its crude exports at 860,000 bpd in September, down from 2.2 million bpd at the end of 2011.
Iran’s currency has recently plunged in what some U.S. officials described as the “most punishing sanctions” ever amassed by the global community seeking to halt Tehran’s suspect nuclear program. The rial has lost more than 80 percent of its value compared with the end of last year, when it was worth 13,000 to the dollar.
Last week, Iran banned the export of around 50 basic goods as the country takes steps to preserve supplies of essential items in the face of tightening Western sanctions, Al Arabiya reported.
Iranian traders will no longer be able to export goods including wheat, flour, sugar, and red meat, as well as aluminum and steel ingots, according to a letter from Deputy Industry Minister Seyyed Javad Taghavi published in Iranian media on Tuesday.
The letter also said a further list of banned goods would be announced later.
Last month Iran’s Foreign Minister, Ali Akbar Salehi, offered the West a compromise regarding his country’s nuclear program.
Salehi told the German magazine Der Spiegel that Iran would be willing to limit its uranium enrichment if the international community agrees to recognize its right to have nukes.
“If our right to enrich uranium is recognized, we will limit the amount of enrichment,” said Salehi, adding, “However, Iran will need to receive the fuel supply it needs other countries.”
As the tension between Iran and Western countries continues, a report on Thursday indicated that Britain is considering stationing warplanes in the Persian Gulf.
The Independent reported that the decision on whether to send the planes at such a volatile time will be made by British Prime Minister David Cameron, after further talks with the rulers of Dubai and Abu Dhabi. An announcement is expected to be made in the near future.
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