21 Oct

News and Analyses, A Foreign Perspective


Israeli PM accused of trivialising the Holocaust for saying grand mufti of Jerusalem gave Hitler idea of exterminating Europe’s Jews

Binyamin Netanyahu

As soon as the transcript of Binyamin Netanyahu’s speech was released, he was accused on social media and then by a raft of Israeli political figures of factual errors. Photograph: Atef Safadi/EPA

The Israeli prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, has attracted a storm of criticism for an incendiary speech in which he accused the second world war Palestinian grand mufti of Jerusalem of “inspiring the Holocaust”.

The comments – made by Netanyahu in a speech to the World Zionist Congress in Jerusalem in the context of the current violence between Israelis and Palestinians – were condemned as incorrect by historians and by Israeli opposition leader Isaac Herzog for trivialising the Holocaust.

On the Palestinian side senior official Saeb Erekat described the remarks as absolving Hitler.

In his speech Netanyahu purported to describe a meeting between Haj Amin al-Husseini and Hitler in November 1941.

“Hitler didn’t want to exterminate the Jews at the time, he wanted to expel the Jews. And Haj Amin al-Husseini went to Hitler and said: ‘If you expel them, they’ll all come here [to Palestine].’” According to Netanyahu, Hitler then asked: “What should I do with them?” and the mufti replied: “Burn them.”

Among those questioning Netanyahu’s interpretation of history was Prof Dan Michman, head of the Institute of Holocaust research at Bar-Ilan University and head of the International Institute for Holocaust Research at Yad Vashem. He said while Hitler did indeed meet the mufti this only happened after the Final Solution began.

Yad Vashem’s chief historian, Prof Dina Porat, said Netanyahu’s claims were incorrect telling the Israeli news website Ynet: “You cannot say that it was the mufti who gave Hitler the idea to kill or burn Jews. It’s not true. Their meeting occurred after a series of events that point to this.”

Netanyahu made the claim – which he made before in 2012 – to illustrate what he said was the Palestinian history of using holy sites in Jerusalem as pretexts for committing acts of violence against Jews.


In first press conference after election victory, Justin Trudeau says Canadian fighter jets will withdraw from US mission against Islamic State

The prime minister-designate, Justin Trudeau, says he spoke with the US president, Barack Obama, on Tuesday and confirmed his election commitment to withdraw Canadian fighter jets from the coalition campaign against Isis. Trudeau also says he will be making a break from the environmental policies of his predecessor, Stephen Harper

Photograph: Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty

Canadian Liberal prime minister designate Justin Trudeau has confirmed that Canada will withdraw its fighter jets from the US-led mission against Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

In his first news conference following the sweeping majority Liberal victory in Canada’s federal election, the visibly fatigued leader said he had spoken with US president Barack Obama in a phone call during which he discussed his intention to pull Canada’s fighter jets out of the anti-Isis campaign.

“I committed that we would continue to engage in a responsible way that understands how important Canada’s role is to play in the fight against Isil, but he understands the commitments I’ve made about ending the combat mission,” Trudeau said.

He did not set out a timeline for the withdrawal. Canada currently has six CF-18 fighter jets taking part in the US-led bombing campaign. They were due to remain in the region until March 2016.

Canada has also deployed around 70 special forces troops to train Kurds in northern Iraq, although Trudeau has previously indicated that this mission would continue.

The White House in a statement said: “The two leaders agreed on the importance of deepening the already strong United States-Canada relationship and committed to strengthening the countries’ joint efforts to promote trade,combat terrorism, and mitigate climate change.”

Trudeau has said he would work to improve Canada-US relations, which he claims became frosty under Harper. But speaking at a rally in Ottawa earlier on Tuesday, he stressed that he wanted to see a shift in Canada’s foreign policy………………


Syrian president makes first foreign visit since 2011 and says Russian intervention has held back spread of terrorism in region

Bashar al-Assad and Vladimir Putin shake hands at the Kremlin

Bashar al-Assad and Vladimir Putin shake hands at the Kremlin. Russia launched airstrikes against militant groups in Syria in support of Assad last month. Photograph: Ria Novosti/Alexei Druzhinin/Reuters

The Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad, has arrived in Moscow in his first foreign visit since an uprising against his authoritarian rule broke out in 2011.

The Kremlin made the details of the visit on Tuesday evening public on Wednesday but did not say whether the Syrian leader was still in Moscow or had returned home.

Russia launched a military intervention three weeks ago in Syria, commencing airstrikes against opposition groups that were inching closer to Assad’s strongholds in the west.

The country has endured a debilitating civil war now in its fifth year that has claimed more than 250,000 lives.

According to a Kremlin transcript, Assad told the Russian president: “First of all I wanted to express my huge gratitude to the whole leadership of the Russian Federation for the help they are giving Syria.

“If it was not for your actions and your decisions, the terrorism which is spreading in the region would have swallowed up a much greater area and spread over an even greater area.”

Putin hailed the Syrian people for standing up to the militants “almost on their own” and said the Syrian army had notched up major battlefield victories of late.

Assad’s first official state visit since the revolution began hints at growing confidence in his camp that the Russian intervention may reverse or at least stall a series of military setbacks and defeats over the past nine months, with rebels seizing significant territory in the provinces of Idlib and Hama and beating back regime offensives in Aleppo and Daraa…………..


Prescription drugs seized from a suspect were found in Nouman Raja’s car without him ever filing a report, it emerges, as Florida investigation continues

Corey Jones, who was shot dead by a plainclothes police officer on a highway exit ramp in Florida.

Corey Jones, who was shot dead by a plainclothes police officer on a highway exit ramp in Florida. Photograph: Reuters

The plainclothes police officer who shot dead a 31-year-old black man in southern Florida was threatened with suspension at his previous department after holding on to prescription drugs that he seized from a suspect.

Palm Beach Gardens officer Nouman Raja, who killed Corey Jones, was reprimanded by commanders at Atlantis police department for being “derelict in the performance of his duties” by repeatedly mishandling evidence and paperwork, according to his disciplinary file.

Pills confiscated by Raja from a woman who obtained them without a prescription in January 2013 were discovered in Raja’s patrol car more than a week later. “Officer Raja said he never did the report and he never secured the evidence,” his sergeant wrote in the file.

The file was released by the Atlantis police chief, Robert Mangold, on Tuesday and first published by the author Ray Downs, as county investigators looked into Raja’s fatal shooting of Jones on an exit ramp of interstate 95 in the early hours of Sunday morning. Police union leaders warned the city was risking “another Ferguson” by withholding information.


Samuel Burris, a free African American man, was caught helping a slave seek freedom in 1847 – but his conviction did not halt his efforts

An image from the anti-slavery newspaper The Liberator, published by William Lloyd Garrison in the 19th century.

An image from the anti-slavery newspaper The Liberator, published by William Lloyd Garrison in the 19th century. Photograph: Bettmann/CORBIS

A free black man convicted of helping slaves escape to freedom in the 19th century will be posthumously pardoned by Delaware’s governor, two people who supported the pardon said Tuesday.

Ocea Thomas of Atlanta said in a telephone interview Tuesday that she received a phone call this weekend letting her know that Governor Jack Markell would pardon Samuel Burris, a conductor on the Underground Railroad who died in 1863 and is one of Thomas’s relatives. A message left Tuesday for Markell’s spokeswoman, Kelly Bachman, was not immediately returned.

Thomas said she became emotional after learning that Burris, the brother of her great-great-grandmother, would be pardoned.

“I stood there and cried. It was pride. It was relief. I guess justification. All of that,” Thomas said.

In 1847, Burris was caught helping a slave try to escape Delaware and sent to jail. He was tried and found guilty of enticing slaves to escape from their masters. Part of his sentence was that he be sold into slavery for seven years, but a Pennsylvania anti-slavery society raised money to purchase him and set him free.

Robin Krawitz, a historian at Delaware State University who is writing a book about Burris, says historians don’t know exactly how many slaves he helped escape. But they do know he continued his work even after his conviction, at great personal risk. Slaveholders and sympathizers eventually complained to the state legislature, saying Burris hadn’t stopped enticing slaves to leave their masters. Burris left the state when lawmakers responded with a law that could have meant a lashing so severe it would have amounted to a death sentence………………….



U.S. Politics

Marco Rubio accuses media of ignoring ‘sanctuary cities’ issue in favour of Cecil the lion

Paul Ryan offers himself as Speaker if House Republicans unite in support

Jim Webb drops bid for Democratic nomination – but not for presidency

Ahmed Mohamed, arrested over homemade clock, will move to Qatar for studies

Former Florida governor Charlie Crist to run for US Congress as Democrat




US authorities are investigating allegations that a high school student has hacked into the personal email account of CIA director John Brennan. Photograph: Justin Lane/EPA

The world’s most powerful spy, CIA chief John Brennan, was bested on Monday by a self-described “stoner” 13-year-old and an associate, who broke into his America Online email account and started posting some of its contents on Twitter. At least some of Brennan’s private emails seemed to contain extremely sensitive information including his security clearance application and the social security numbers of several CIA officers.

Will this cause as much outrage as Hillary Clinton’s private email server (which by the way, was at least more secure than a freaking AOL account)? Almost certainly not. As the architect of the CIA drone program, Brennan is about as above the law as one could get in the United States. He’s been openly accused of leaking classified information to the press (for which someone else was punished), and he even admitted to orchestrating a “hacking” himself, when he ordered his underlings to spy on the computers Senate staff members were using to research their damning CIA torture report last year.

You can expect the 13-year-old prankster to get the hammer dropped on him though. As Electronic Frontier Foundation’s Nate Cardozo tweeted, the “CIA Director kept [secret and private] docs on AOL until hacked by a kid. They’re making an example of … the kid”, pointing to an article from the New York Post that reported:

“I think they’ll want to make an example out of him to deter people from doing this in the future”, said a source who described the situation as “just wild” and “crazy”.

To add to the embarrassment, the nation’s top Department of Homeland Security (DHS) official Jeh Johnson had a private Comcast account possibly hacked by these same teenagers. Its worrying that these technologically clueless people are in charge of the nation’s cybersecurity infrastructure. The DHS has been singled out many times for its especially poor cybersecurity practices, despite the fact that they’re supposed to be the federal agency in charge of cybersecurity……………………….




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