Ed: 40: February/2015
The one-man party, an odd fixture of Israeli democracy for the past three decades, seems headed to the political margins where its journey began ten elections ago.
Few people paid attention to this aspect of the situation in 1984, when a new party called Shas won four Knesset seats and inserted a marginal member into a cabinet of eight factions and 25 ministers. The small party was no player in that government's main task, solving an acute economic crisis. Shas' unique decision-making process was therefore mostly ignored.
The idea of the Mahdi in Islam is strongly linked to Muslim messianic, apocalyptic traditions. According to these, the Mahdi (lit. "the guided one"), is said to appear shortly before the Day of Judgment in order to restore Islam to its former glory by removing evil and re-establishing righteousness. The Mahdi's appearance and rule are believed to coincide with the second coming of Jesus Christ (Isa), who is supposed to support the Mahdi in fighting and winning the final apocalyptic battle against Al-Masih ad-Dajjal (the false messiah), the embodiment of evil.
The terror attack by Islamist extremists on the Paris office of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, that killed 12 editors, cartoonists, staffers and police was an atrocity and an outrage.
So was the attack two days later on the Hyper Cacher kosher supermarket in the city that claimed the lives of four Jewish shoppers.
The editors and cartoonists were singled out and killed for something they did - exercising their right to free expression - a right Islamist extremists reject. But the Hyper Cacher shoppers were killed simply for being Jews.
You can't walk very far on an American or European university campus these days without encountering some version of the "Palestinian Land Loss" maps. This series of four - occasionally five - maps purports to show how rapacious Zionists have steadily encroached upon Palestinian land. It has featured in paid advertisements on the sides of buses in Vancouver as well as train stations in New York. It occasionally creeps into supposedly reputable media sources, like Al Jazeera English. [Ed note. In Australia, it has also been published as a graphic on the website news.com.au, associated with News Corp. newspapers.]
I have written here before about the overwhelming evidence - from Palestinian sources - that the very violent second intifada launched in September 2000 was not a spontaneous reaction to Ariel Sharon's visit to the Temple Mount... It is very clear that then-Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat had begun planning a major outbreak of violence long before then - according to testimony from Palestinian ministers, and from his former aides, and to documents captured by Israel in Arafat's compound, and even according to his widow, Suha Arafat, who recently said Arafat warned her he was going to launch violence some weeks before it actually broke out.
The murderous attacks on the office of Charlie Hebdo and the kosher supermarket in Paris quickly became, for far too many commentators, nothing but pretexts for polemics and platitudes...
It is common for these worldviews to identify a section of humanity as the source of all woes, and then rationalise killing all those so identified. The shoppers in Hyper Cacher in Paris were murdered because they were Jewish.
Elsa Cayat, the only woman murdered at Charlie Hebdo, was selected because she was Jewish.
So there is a new issue of Charlie Hebdo, and the cover cartoon, by Luz, is a masterpiece. On a field of green, a white-turbaned and robed Prophet Muhammad, bug-eyed with horror, a giant tear falling on his cheek, holds a placard saying, "Je suis Charlie," which is the same slogan that dominated the largest mass protest in the history of the nation that invented the phenomenon of mass protests. And above the cartoon Muhammad's head are the words, "Tout est pardonné," or, "All is forgiven."
The jihadist killing spree in Paris in early January has been described as "France's 9/11" by Le Monde, the French liberal daily newspaper. Indeed, just like the American 9/11 fourteen years ago, it was a moment of truth: for France as a nation, for the French political class and - last, but certainly not least - for French Jews. The question, however, is not so much whether one sees the truth or not, but rather what one is supposed to do once truth has been seen.
On Dec. 30, Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas signed 20 different international conventions, including the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC). The name of the statute refers to the 1998 conference that established the treaty-based court, which began operations in 2002.
In principle, the PA's move enables the ICC to assert jurisdiction over future developments in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and empowers any signatory to the Rome Statute - currently including 160 countries - to claim that Israel should be brought to the court on charges of war crimes. Palestinian officials have said that they want the ICC to investigate Israel's settlement policies.
On August 14, 1993, in Mashad, Iran's second-largest city, the Iranian leadership's "Committee for Special Operations" convened to discuss its ongoing problems with Argentina - and specifically the flamboyant President, Carlos Menem.
Reorienting Argentina's policy, moving his country closer to the West and to Israel, the Syrian-born Menem had severed the hitherto fruitful partnership between Buenos Aires and Teheran on all matters nuclear, first suspending and then terminating the training of Iranian nuclear technicians in Argentina and the transfer of nuclear technology to Iran.