Benjamin Netanyahu was handed a wonderful chance to advance Israel’s cause at the U.N. Instead he displayed his trademark petulance, J.J. Goldberg writes.
ISIS, the militant Muslim group now overrunning Iraq, recently destroyed the tomb of Jonah, the biblical prophet. Leonard Fein finds this a strikingly sad — and profoundly symbolic.
Egypt and Syria appear to be falling apart in similar ways. But J.J. Goldberg explains why one crisis (Egypt) is political while the other (Syria) is sectarian, making it much less solvable.
Pope Benedict has said in an address to pilgrims outside his summer residence in Italy that his upcoming trip to Lebanon should be seen as a “pilgrimage of peace”. He also urged the international community to step up reconciliation efforts in the region to end what he called the sufferings of people in the Middle East. The planned visit next week comes amid fears that fighting in neighbouring Syria will spill over into Lebanon, where tensions are already running high between Sunni and Shiite Muslim communities. Last month, violence broke out between opponents and supporters of the Syrian regime in Lebanon’s second largest city of Tripoli, leaving 17 people dead and over 100 wounded. During his three-day trip, the 85-year old pontiff plans to hold an open-air mass in Beirut and to attend getherings with Lebanese youth.
There was a heavy military presence on the streets of Tripoli on Thursday, following clashes which have been ongoing since Monday between rival pro- and anti-Damascus gunmen in the northern Lebanese city. Armoured personnel carriers and troops could be seen on the street of the Bab Tabbaneh neighbourhood, which is mostly populated by Sunni Muslims. At least six people have been killed since Monday in clashes between Bab Tabbaneh and neighbouring Jabal Moshen, which is populated mostly by followers of the Alawite sect, an offshoot of Shiite Islam.
The latest in a series of anti-Muslim protests staged by the nationalist party Pro Deutschland have taken place outside several mosques in the German capital of Berlin. Shouting and brandishing placards with the slogan “Hasta la vista Salafista”, around 50 members of the far-right group gathered in areas thought to be the main meeting points of the radical Salafist movement, Millatu Ibrahim Salafist, which has been banned in Germany since June of this year. Pro NRW members also brandished a caricature of the prophet Mohammed whose original appearance in Denmark sparked violent reactions across the Arab World. In Islam it is considered blasphemy to try to depict the prophet, but a Danish court ruled that suppressing the images constituted a violation of artistic freedom. Manfred Rouhs, head of Pro Deutschland “We are not trying to ridicule, we will bring forward arguments. But we are facing a situation, where we have to start the debate, which wouldn’t have happened if we didn’t come up with a series of demonstrations in west Germany in April and May. The political institutions only react when there is some attention.” The radical Islamic organisation has been accused of plotting against the state, with German Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich calling them a threat to constitutional order as they allegedly reject national legislation in favour of Sharia law. There are around 4000 Salafists in Germany who espouse an ultra-conservative form of Sunni Islam. Police were …
The downward spiral in Syria has serious implications for all its neighbors. Yossi Alpher looks at the various scenarios, not all of which are bad for Israel.
Prominent New York Rabbi Marc Schneier has returned from the Bahrain claiming a major advance in Jewish dialogue with Islam: a promise by the Gulf state’s ruler to convene a first ever meeting of religious leaders from both faiths in the kingdom.