外交官的國際新聞導覽及中東中亞的歷史故事 Diplomat's daily news review and history research on Middle East and Central Asia
Manage episode 304189821 series 2948782
伊斯蘭國聲稱對國營巴赫塔爾通訊社稱的襲擊負責，該襲擊造成 46 人死亡，143 人受傷。 兩名衛生官員告訴路透社，死亡人數可能在 70 至 80 人之間。
2021 年 10 月 3 日，阿富汗喀布爾，塔利班部隊成員乘坐裝有武器的皮卡車。（圖片來源：REUTERS/JORGE SILVA）
這些襲擊凸顯了塔利班面臨的安全挑戰，塔利班於 8 月接管了該國，此後一直對喀布爾的伊斯蘭國組織開展行動。
Suicide bomber kills scores in Afghan mosque attack
Islamic State has claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing that left dozens dead, even more wounded.
OCTOBER 8, 2021 19:24
Afghan men walk at a mosque in Herat, Afghanistan September 10, 2021.
(photo credit: VIA REUTERS)
A suicide bomber attacked a mosque in Afghanistan's northeastern Kunduz province on Friday, killing scores of worshippers in the country's third attack this week on a religious institution.
Islamic State claimed responsibility for an attack that state-run Bakhtar news agency said had killed 46 people and wounded 143. Two health officials told Reuters the death toll could be between 70 and 80.
Video footage showed bodies surrounded by debris inside the mosque that is used by people from the minority Shi'ite Muslim community.
The blast, which the United Nations' mission in Afghanistan called part of a disturbing pattern of violence, follows others in recent days at a mosque in Kabul and a religious school in the eastern province of Khost.
There have been similar attacks in recent weeks, some of which have also been claimed by Islamic State, whose fighters are Sunni Muslims.
Members of Taliban forces ride on a pick-up truck mounted with a weapon in Kabul, Afghanistan, October 3, 2021. (credit: REUTERS/JORGE SILVA)
The attacks underscore security challenges facing the Taliban, which took over the country in August and have since carried out operations against Islamic State cells in Kabul.
"This afternoon, an explosion took place in a mosque of our Shiite compatriots … as a result of which a number of our compatriots were martyred and wounded," Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said on Twitter.
2021 年 10 月 8 日 16:24
週日，在 Tisha Be'av 期間，安全部隊保護前往聖殿山的猶太遊客的安全
（照片來源：AMMAR AWAD / 路透社）
週三，耶路撒冷地方法院審理了 Aryeh Lipo 的上訴，他是聖殿山的一名猶太遊客，在一名警察命令他在贖罪日訪問期間停止祈禱後，他已被移走並遠離建築群 15 天。
Bilha Yahalom法官在觀看了事件的錄音後裁定，上訴人的行為沒有違反聖殿山上的法律或警察的指示，因為他是在沒有人群的情況下安靜地以一種不可見或不可見的方式祈禱。該裁決還指出，以色列警方對 Lipo 和許多其他人一樣，每天都在聖殿山祈禱沒有異議。
儘管警方提出了相反的說法，但法官還駁回了 Lipo 以安靜的祈禱構成任何危險或犯下任何違法行為的觀點。
該網站的猶太遊客在進入時會被告知祈禱和宗教物品，如祈禱書或祈禱披肩，或禁止進入該建築群，儘管自 2019 年底以來，猶太遊客已經能夠在該網站的某些部分安靜地祈禱不受干擾。
Bar Lev 週五宣布，以色列警方將對裁決提出上訴，因為“現狀的改變將危及公共和平，並可能導致爆發。”
“以色列國主張所有人的崇拜和祈禱自由，但是，鑑於安全影響，必須維持現狀，即聖殿山上的猶太人祈禱將在西牆附近進行，而穆斯林將在 al-Haram al-Sharif 舉行，”Bar Lev 說。
巴勒斯坦媒體週五還聲稱，以色列安全部隊阻止一些禮拜者前往阿克薩清真寺進行黎明和中午的祈禱。報導稱，儘管有限制，但仍有 50,000 名信徒參加了清真寺的祈禱。
據以色列警方稱，375 名在以色列非法滯留的巴勒斯坦人以及 5 名駕駛非法外國人的巴士司機於週五在前往耶路撒冷的途中被警方逮捕。所有非法外國人都被送回西岸。
星期五也是自 1990 年聖殿山騷亂以來的 31 週年，在這場騷亂中，大約 20 名巴勒斯坦人在住棚節假期期間在聖殿山發生的暴力騷亂中喪生，19 名警察、一些西牆崇拜者和 100 多名巴勒斯坦人受傷。
State appeals ruling allowing quiet Jewish prayer on Temple Mount
The state appealed a ruling which implied support for quiet Jewish prayer on the Temple Mount as Palestinians threatened violence.
By TZVI JOFFRE
OCTOBER 8, 2021 16:24
SECURITY FORCES guard the safety of Jewish visitors to the Temple Mount during Tisha Be’av, on Sunday
(photo credit: AMMAR AWAD / REUTERS)
Public Security Minister Omer Bar Lev warned on Friday that the court ruling implying support for quiet Jewish prayer on the Temple Mount would "endanger the public peace and could cause a flare-up," as Palestinians warned against a change in the status quo at the site.
On Wednesday, the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court heard the appeal of Aryeh Lipo, a Jewish visitor to the Temple Mount who had been removed and distanced from the complex for 15 days after a police officer ordered him to stop praying during a visit on Yom Kippur.
After watching a recording of the incident, Justice Bilha Yahalom ruled that the appellant’s behavior did not violate the law or police instructions on the Temple Mount, as he was praying without a crowd and quietly in a way that was not external or visible. The ruling stated as well that Israel Police did not dispute that Lipo, like many others, prays on a daily basis on the Temple Mount.
The justice additionally dismissed the notion that Lipo posed any danger or committed any violation with his quiet prayer, despite claims by police to the contrary.
While the High Court of Justice has ruled in the past that Jews do have the legal right to pray on the Temple Mount, police have cited security concerns to impose a blanket prohibition on Jewish prayer.
Jewish visitors to the site are informed upon entry that prayer and religious items such as prayer books or prayer shawls or forbidden in the complex, although, since late 2019, Jewish visitors have been able to pray quietly, in certain parts of the site, relatively undisturbed.
Bar Lev announced on Friday that Israel Police would appeal the ruling because "a change in the status quo will endanger the public peace and could cause a flare-up."
"The State of Israel advocates freedom of worship and prayer for all, however, in view of the security implications, the status quo must be upheld that the prayer of Jews on the Temple Mount will take place next to the Western Wall and the prayer of Muslims will take place in al-Haram al-Sharif," said Bar Lev.
Palestinians called for a "general mobilization" at al-Aqsa Mosque on Friday in response to the court ruling, with the announcement showing figures throwing stones.
Palestinian media additionally claimed on Friday that Israeli security forces prevented some worshipers from reaching the al-Aqsa Mosque for dawn and noon prayers. The reports claimed that despite the restrictions, 50,000 worshippers attended prayers at the mosque.
375 Palestinians illegally in Israel, as well as five bus drivers who drove illegal aliens, were arrested by police on their way to Jerusalem on Friday, according to Israel Police. All the illegal aliens were returned to the West Bank.
The worshipers at dawn reportedly chanted "With our blood and souls we will redeem you, al-Aqsa," a chant often used amid tensions surrounding the Temple Mount.
On Thursday, the Hamas movement called the ruling a “clear declaration of war” and a “blatant aggression against the blessed al-Aqsa Mosque” on Thursday.
“The battle of the sword of Jerusalem was not and will not be the last chapter of the confrontation under the title of Jerusalem, and the resistance that was promised and fulfilled confirms that it is ready and prepared to repel aggression and defend rights,” warned Hamas.
Friday also marks 31 years since the 1990 Temple Mount riots, in which about 20 Palestinians were killed and 19 policemen, a number of Western Wall worshippers and over 100 Palestinians were injured in violent riots on the Temple Mount during the Sukkot holiday.
2021 年 10 月 7 日 21:00
上週在索契與俄羅斯總統弗拉基米爾·普京會晤時，土耳其總統雷傑普·塔伊普·埃爾多安重申了莫斯科和安卡拉之間日益密切的聯繫。索契會談是在埃爾多安未能在紐約聯合國大會邊緣與美國總統喬拜登會面之後舉行的。埃爾多安在與普京會晤後對記者說，他曾提議土耳其與俄羅斯合作，在土耳其領土上再建設兩座核電站。俄羅斯公司 Rosatom 目前正在土耳其南部的阿庫尤建造一座發電廠。
土耳其總統上週還表示，土耳其仍打算從俄羅斯購買第二批 S-400 導彈防禦系統。土耳其去年購買該系統導緻美國對土耳其國防工業局實施制裁，並取消了土耳其對 F-35 戰鬥機的接收。
土耳其總統雷傑普·塔伊普·埃爾多安 (Recep Tayyip Erdogan) 和時任美國副總統喬·拜登 (Joe Biden) 於 2016 年在伊斯坦布爾會面後聊天。 （圖片來源：REUTERS）
土耳其對俄羅斯的舉動不僅取決於安卡拉與華盛頓關係的惡化。土耳其對法國與土耳其的傳統競爭對手希臘最近達成的一項重大海軍防禦協議感到憤怒和擔憂。希臘承諾從法國購買三艘 Belharra 護衛艦和三艘 Gowind 護衛艦，價值 50 億美元的交易將有助於大幅提升希臘在東地中海和愛琴海的防禦能力，而此時兩國之間關係緊張。圍繞這些領域的爭端越來越多。
法國-希臘海軍協議是在去年達成的一項協議之後達成的，其中雅典承諾以 25 億美元的價格購買 18 架第四代陣風戰鬥機。再加上法國對土耳其在東地中海採取的強硬立場，這些重大國防交易鞏固了法國和希臘之間的戰略聯盟。法國現在承諾，如果需要，將向希臘提供軍事援助。
埃及和土耳其官員之間的第二輪會談於 9 月在安卡拉舉行。土耳其於 2013 年從開羅撤回其大使，對當年在埃及推翻穆斯林兄弟會權力的軍事政變感到憤怒。關於阿聯酋，埃爾多安上個月與王儲謝赫·穆罕默德·本·扎耶德通了電話。
關於以色列，艾薩克·赫爾佐格總統在 7 月與埃爾多安進行了多次交談。自從這次電話會議以來，幾乎沒有出現任何實質內容。但是，當與更深層次的事件背道而馳時，以色列將需要仔細考慮與土耳其的任何可能短暫的和解的智慧和好處。不僅在以色列與希臘、埃及、阿拉伯聯合酋長國和法國發展戰略關係方面也是如此，這些國家已經並可能繼續採取堅決反對土耳其在東地中海野心的立場。
目前，幾乎沒有跡象表明這種努力會產生重大成果。但只要與穆斯林兄弟會相關的 AKP 和埃爾多安在土耳其繼續掌權，這種情況就會持續下去。安卡拉在這一領域的持續努力、與華盛頓的日益疏遠、對俄羅斯的舉動以及對以色列最親密和新興的地區盟友的直接反對意味著土耳其和以色列之間不太可能即將和解，而為此過度努力是徒勞的，而且可能是不可取的，在可預見的未來。
Growing relations between Turkey, Russia is concern for Israel - opinion
As Ankara engages in outreach to avoid diplomatic isolation, Jerusalem is likely to be wary.
OCTOBER 7, 2021 21:00
PIGEONS FLY in front of a large poster of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Bursa.
(photo credit: GORAN TOMASEVIC/REUTERS)
At a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Sochi last week, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan reaffirmed the growing links between Moscow and Ankara. The Sochi talks came after Erdogan failed to secure a meeting with US President Joe Biden on the fringes of the United Nations General Assembly in New York. Speaking to reporters after the meeting with Putin, Erdogan noted that he had proposed that Turkey work together with Russia on the construction of two more nuclear power plants on Turkish soil. The Russian company Rosatom is currently building a power plant in Akkuyu, in southern Turkey.
The Turkish president also said last week that Turkey still intends to purchase a second supply of the S-400 missile defense system from Russia. The purchase of the system by Turkey last year led to US sanctions on Turkey’s Defense Industry Directorate, and the cancellation of Turkish reception of the F-35 fighter jet.
In an interview with the CBS network, quoted by Reuters, the Turkish president said that “In the future, nobody will be able to interfere in terms of what kind of defense systems we acquire, from which country and at what level.”
The US State Department, responding to Erdogan’s statement, warned that any additional purchase of Russian defense systems would risk triggering additional sanctions.
TURKISH PRESIDENT Recep Tayyip Erdogan and then-US vice president Joe Biden chat after their meeting in Istanbul in 2016. (credit: REUTERS)
Erdogan’s statements confirm the Turkish tilt toward Russia, and Ankara’s growing estrangement from Washington.
The latest Turkish moves also reflect a contradiction at the heart of Turkish regional strategy, between an immediate desire to avoid isolation, and the deeper strategic goal of unilateral regional assertion and support for Sunni political Islam which are part of the core outlook of Erdogan and those around him. The understanding of this contradiction is likely to determine Israeli responses to Turkish diplomatic moves.
The Turkish move toward Russia is not only determined by Ankara’s declining relations with Washington. There is anger and concern in Turkey regarding a recent major naval defense deal between France and Turkey’s traditional rivals, Greece. The $5 billion deal, according to which Greece commits to the purchase of three Belharra frigates and three Gowind corvettes from France, will serve to sharply advance Greek defense capabilities in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Aegean Sea, at a time when tensions between the two countries over disputes in these areas are increasing.
The French-Greek naval deal follows an agreement last year in which Athens committed to the purchase of 18 fourth generation Rafale fighter jets, for $2.5 billion. Taken together with the assertive French stance against Turkish moves in the Eastern Mediterranean, these major defense deals cement a strategic alliance between France and Greece. France is now committed to come to Greece’s military aid if requested.
With major disputes extant between Athens and Ankara over air and sea rights in the Aegean, and drilling rights in the Eastern Mediterranean, it is not hard to see why the direction of events has Turkey rattled, nor why Erdogan is looking around for new partners. The US is engaged in a general drawdown in the region. Greece has been active in efforts to ensure Washington of its firm pro-US alignment in any emergent strategic competition with Russia. US anger over the Turkish purchase of Russian military equipment and over human rights violations, along with other US alliances, make Washington unavailable as a partner for Turkey’s regional ambitions.
Turkey, however, is not in a position simply to exchange Washington’s patronage for Moscow’s. On a number of key regional files, Ankara and Moscow too are on opposite sides. In Libya, Turkey supports the Tripoli-based, Muslim Brotherhood associated Government of National Accord. In Syria, crucially, Turkey underwrites a remaining area of Sunni Islamist control in the northwest of the country. Moscow, meanwhile, backs the Tobruk-based authority of General Khalifa Haftar in eastern Libya. Moscow is also committed to the Assad regime’s recovery of sovereignty over the whole of Syria. Shelling and air attacks by the regime and the Russians on the Turkish enclave have increased sharply in recent weeks, even as Turkish-Russian diplomacy advances.
TO COUNTER its potential isolation, Turkey is therefore seeking rapprochement with a number of additional regional players from which it became estranged in recent years. Efforts at Turkish diplomatic outreach are under way toward the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and, notably, Israel.
A second round of talks between Egyptian and Turkish officials took place in Ankara in September. Turkey withdrew its ambassador from Cairo in 2013, furious at the military coup that removed the Muslim Brotherhood from power in Egypt that year. Regarding the UAE, Erdogan spoke by telephone with Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed last month.
Regarding Israel, President Isaac Herzog to much media fanfare spoke with Erdogan in July. Little of substance has emerged since this call. But Israel will need to consider carefully the wisdom and benefit of any possibly short-lived rapprochement with Turkey, when set against the deeper direction of events. This is so not only with regard to Israel’s developing strategic ties with Greece, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and France, countries which have taken and are likely to continue to take a continued stance of firm opposition to Turkish ambitions in the Eastern Mediterranean.
As Turkey continues its path of decoupling from its Cold War set of alliances, Israel may well wish to consider Ankara’s ongoing stance concerning events west of the Jordan River.
The Israeli security establishment considers Iran and its ambitions to represent the main threat to Israel’s security. An additional key long-term strategic challenge facing Israel, however, is the near parity of populations between Jews and Arab Muslims west of the Jordan. The main advantages Israel enjoys in this regard are its advanced economy and civil society, its unified state structures, and the division of the Arab population into four different political dispensations (Hamas-controlled Gaza, the Ramallah Palestinian Authority, Jerusalem, and pre-1948 Israel). Maintaining this division is a vital Israeli interest.
The only serious challenge to the maintenance of this situation in the medium to long term is the mobilizing symbols of Sunni Islam, and organizations seeking to make political use of these. Turkey, largely below the radar screen, has been energetically engaged in recent years in seeking to gain advantage in this area. Through “Dawa” (welfare-religious activities) via TIKA (Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency), property purchases and support for Islamist activism in Jerusalem and elsewhere in Israel, through financial contributions to Hamas-controlled Gaza, and through domiciling and granting citizenship to Hamas operatives on Turkish soil, Ankara seeks to cast itself as the protector of Islamic holy places, and the patron of the long struggle against Israel.
There are few indications of this effort bearing significant results at the present time. But it looks set to continue for as long as the Muslim Brotherhood-associated AKP and Erdogan remain in power in Turkey. Ankara’s ongoing efforts in this area, its increasing estrangement from Washington, its moves toward Russia and its direct opposition to Israel’s closest and emergent regional allies mean that imminent rapprochement between Turkey and Israel is unlikely, and excessive effort toward it is futile and probably inadvisable, for the foreseeable future.
記錄 ISIS 在伊拉克的罪行——書評
從斬首婦女到將同性戀者從屋頂上趕下，再到伊朗的擴張，ISIS 的罪行範圍難以把握，但衝突記者 Hollie S. McKay 的新書堪稱記錄。
2021 年 10 月 7 日 21:17
衝突記者霍莉·麥凱 (Hollie S. McKay) 提交了大量非常詳細的阿富汗地面報導，美國武裝部隊於 8 月下旬在阿富汗完成了撤退。
她在 9 月 16 日為紐約郵報發出的題為“塔利班接管一個月後喀布爾的轉變”捕捉到了阿富汗人在首都的悲慘困境和女性不祥的安全氛圍。
澳大利亞出生的麥凱於 2007 年開始擔任福克斯新聞數字記者，深入研究伊拉克、敘利亞、也門和阿富汗的戰區。
她的新書《為生而哭泣：來自 ISIS 戰場內部的備忘錄》反映了這位資深記者的廣闊視野，表達了對中東伊斯蘭中心地帶的無限好奇。
對於以色列人、散居海外的猶太人和其他許多人來說，麥凱關於她在庫爾德斯坦的第一次安息日晚宴的快訊提供了對庫爾德-以色列和庫爾德-猶太關係的迷人見解。2016 年 10 月，她在題為“猶太人走出隱匿處”的章節中寫道，“‘猶太人會驚訝地發現，他們在這裡比在某些歐洲首都更自由、更安全，’猶太政府代表 Sherzad Omer Mamsani 堅持說。 ”
她指出，“仍然沒有猶太教堂或供猶太人祈禱和聚會的公共場所。一些 KRG 官員表示，他們正試圖在該地區開設寺廟，但其他人則聲稱，與巴格達的關係惡化，以及對伊朗資助的民兵組織和持續的聖戰威脅的擔憂阻礙了這種努力。”
麥凱的書涉及伊斯蘭國的興衰。她在 2016 年 7 月關於“釋放費盧杰”的章節殘酷地提醒了伊斯蘭國運動的意識形態：“不同的說法證明了瀰漫在這座城市的不信任和恐懼。在伊斯蘭國的控制下，週五早上的祈禱之後是公共廣場的大規模處決。有時人們被關在籠子裡，裡面關著貪婪的野生動物；有時他們被炸毀了。有時他們被縱火，有時他們被裝甲車碾過。”
她寫道：“就像在 ISIS 龐大的哈里發國的其他地方一樣，涉嫌通奸的女性被斬首，而被認為是同性戀的男性則被從建築物頂上拋下。在 [解放費盧杰] 的最後一戰前幾週，我了解到 10 名男孩因逃離 ISIS 訓練營而被殺的故事。這些胡說八道既沒有意義，也沒有公平。”
只為 ISIS 戰場內的活備忘錄而哭泣 作者：Hollie S. McKay（圖片來源：對方提供）
與伊斯蘭共和國結盟的民兵在人民動員部隊的保護傘下的作用，在麥凱的報告中脫穎而出：“不滿情緒上升，指責伊朗支持的 PMF 團體對占主導地位的遜尼派人口實施大規模侵犯人權行為。。”
麥凱的書涵蓋了 2014 年至 2018 年期間，並附有關於伊斯蘭國在 2019 年失去領土控制權的結語。
在 2018 年 5 月發布的《伊朗的目標是成為山丘之王》中，她寫道：“雖然這種危險已經被踐踏，但一種新的雜草可能會蔓延到他們寶貴的包裹中。正如基督徒擔心德黑蘭擴張的手臂一樣，雅茲迪人也表示擔心伊朗建立一個關鍵的戰略立足點，這可能會使該地區的大部分地區——遠至以色列——成為攻擊的目標。”
麥凱寫道，伊拉克西北部 4,800 英尺高的辛賈爾山（Sinjar Mountain）以“一座供奉雅茲迪聖人沙夫丁（Sharfuddin）的小型粉筆白色寺廟為特色——掩蓋了其潛在的戰略重要性”。
麥凱指出，“伊拉克前獨裁者薩達姆侯賽因並沒有忽視這個地點的重要性。據說他曾將這座山用作他在 1991 年海灣戰爭期間向以色列發射的 39 枚飛毛腿導彈的發射場。 坐落在雅茲迪神廟旁邊，有一個結構，其特點是一塊六英尺寬的混凝土台階板似乎導致 30 英尺高到無處可去。一些當地人認為，正是從那裡，薩達姆發射了他的飛毛腿。”
McKay 繼續引用我的民主基金會同事和伊朗導彈專家 Behnam Ben Taleblu 的話，他說：“伊朗目前的武器庫比薩達姆的武器庫更加多樣化和更有能力。伊朗的導彈既可以作為威懾工具，也可以作為脅迫工具。”
任何希望了解伊斯蘭國的出現及其在 2014 年至 2018 年期間對中東人身心造成的悲慘影響的人都必須閱讀麥凱的書。
Only Cry for the Living 是新聞業和文學風格的最高成就。
Recording ISIS’s Iraqi crimes - book review
From beheading women to tossing homosexuals off roofs to Iranian expansion, the scope of ISIS's crimes is difficult to grasp, but conflict reporter Hollie S. McKay's new book acts as a record.
OCTOBER 7, 2021 21:17
IRAQI SHI’ITE paramilitaries launch a rocket towards Islamic State operatives, north of Fallujah, 2015.
(photo credit: STRINGER/ REUTERS)
The conflict reporter Hollie S. McKay has filed a spectacular number of highly detailed reports from the ground in Afghanistan, where American armed forces completed their withdrawal in late August.
Her September 16 dispatch for the New York Post titled “The transformation of Kabul, one month after the Taliban takeover” captures the dire plight of Afghans in the capital and the ominous security climate for women.
Discussing the Taliban terrorists running the city, she comments, “Most won’t make eye contact or acknowledge me – as a woman – but occasionally, you will find one who looks me dead in the face.”
McKay, a fearless war correspondent, has crisscrossed conflict areas for Fox News, where I started to read her stories. I have been a dedicated reader of McKay for years because her work spills over with humanity and seeks to illuminate the struggles of ordinary people in battle zones.
The Australian-born McKay commenced work as a Fox News Digital reporter in 2007, delving deep into the war zones of Iraq, Syria, Yemen and Afghanistan.
Her new book, Only Cry for the Living: Memos From Inside the ISIS Battlefield, reflects the great breadth of the veteran journalist’s vision, which articulates a limitless curiosity about the Islamic heartland in the Mideast.
For Israelis, Jews in the Diaspora and many others, McKay’s dispatch about her first Shabbat dinner in Kurdistan offers fascinating insights into Kurdish-Israeli and Kurdish-Jewish relations. In her chapter titled “Jews Come out of Hiding” from October 2016, she writes, “‘Jews would be surprised to find that they are freer and safer here than in certain European capitals,’ insisted Sherzad Omer Mamsani, a Jewish government representative.”
She notes, “There were still no synagogues or public places for Jewish prayer and gathering. Some KRG officials said that they were trying to open temples in the region, but others claimed that such efforts were hindered by sour relations with Baghdad, along with concerns over Iranian-funded militias and the ongoing jihadist threat.”
McKay’s book deals with the rise and fall of the Islamic State. Her chapter on “Freed Fallujah” from July 2016 is a brutal reminder of the ideology that animated the Islamic State movement: “Differing accounts were a testament to the mistrust and fear that pervaded the city. Under ISIS control, Friday morning prayers were followed by mass executions in the public square. Sometimes people were locked in cages with ravenous wild animals; sometimes they were blown up. Sometimes they were set on fire and other times they were driven over by armored vehicles.”
She writes, “As in other parts of ISIS’s sprawling caliphate, women suspected of adultery were beheaded and men believed to be homosexual were thrown from atop buildings. In the weeks before the final battle [to liberate Fallujah], I learned the story of 10 young boys who were killed for fleeing ISIS training camps. There was no sense, nor fairness, in any of this nonsense.”
ONLY CRY FOR THE LIVING MEMOS FROM INSIDE THE ISIS BATTLEFIELD By Hollie S. McKay (credit: Courtesy)
The role of Islamic Republic-allied militias, under the umbrella of the Popular Mobilization Forces, comes to the fore in McKay’s reporting: “Grievances rose to accuse the Iran-backed mishmash of PMF groups of committing vast human rights abuse against the predominantly Sunni population.”
McKay’s book covers the period 2014-2018, with an epilogue about the Islamic State’s loss of territorial control in 2019.
She says in her introduction, “Throughout the years of ISIS occupation, I made countless trips in and out of Iraq to investigate the onslaught as a writer. As time went on and the fight to free the embattled nation intensified, I spent more and more time in the region, determined to play whatever small role I could to deliver a rough draft of history through the lens of the ordinary people surviving it. As the years went forth and the battle intensified, I wrote more and more memos as exemplified in this collection.”
The book is packed full of moving and dazzling anecdotes about the lives of Middle Easterners in the midst of blood-soaked war.
In her dispatch “Iran Aims to Be King of the Hill” from May 2018, she writes, “Although that danger had been trampled, a new weed threatened to extend into their precious parcel. Just as the Christians worried about the extended arm of Tehran, the Yazidis also expressed fear about Iran establishing a critical strategic foothold that could leave much of the region – reaching as far as Israel – in the crosshairs of an attack.”
The 4,800-foot Sinjar Mountain in northwestern Iraq, which featured “a small, chalk-white temple dedicated to Sharfuddin, a holy Yazidi figure – belied its potential strategic importance,” wrote McKay.
“This point is the closest point to Israel in which Iran can do harm. And the view is clear, the plain is wide, there are no mountains in the way,” Abdulrazaq Ali, an Erbil-based analyst, told McKay, adding, “It is also possible for Hezbollah to enter from Syria and get to this position.”
McKay notes, “The importance of the spot didn’t go unnoticed by former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. He was said to have used the mountain as the launch site for the 39 Scud missiles he fired into Israel during the Gulf War of 1991. Nestled beside the Yazidi temple, there was a structure featuring a slab of six-foot-wide concrete steps that appeared to lead 30 feet up into nowhere. It was from there, some locals believed, that Saddam launched his Scuds.”
The war correspondent’s dispatch on the Islamic Republic’s use of Sinjar as part of the Shi’ite corridor is telling regarding Tehran’s imperialist project.
“Further down the mountain, however, the roads and towns were controlled by a variety of militias influenced or entirely controlled by Iran. With that influence, military analysts fear, came the power for Iran to create trouble for its enemies far beyond what Hussein attempted,” she writes.
McKay goes on to quote my Foundation for Defense of Democracies colleague and Iran missile specialist Behnam Ben Taleblu, who says, “Iran’s present arsenal is more diverse and more capable than Saddam’s arsenal. Iran’s missiles can function as both a tool of deterrence and coercion.”
McKay’s book is required reading for anyone wishing to understand the emergence of the Islamic State, and its wretched effects on the minds and bodies of Middle Easterners during the period 2014-2018.
Only Cry for the Living is a superlative achievement of journalism and literary style.
The writer is a fellow for the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.
Gideon Sa'ar 是以色列最有影響力的部長嗎？
2021 年 10 月 7 日 16:33
儘管他讓位，為納夫塔利·貝內特 (Naftali Bennett) 擔任總理職務鋪平了道路，但在所有部長中，薩爾通過重塑法院和司法部長的權力數十年，可能對所有部長產生最大的實際影響來。
如果他的一位有影響力的前任阿耶萊特·沙克德 (Ayelet Shaked) 甚至未能將總檢察長辦公室拆分為獨立的首席法律顧問和首席檢察官，那麼薩爾比迄今為止任何人都更接近於實現這一意識形態權利的夢想.
薩爾對於他將推動誰作為強大的司法遴選委員會的負責人從 24 名候選人名單中填補最高法院目前空缺的四個空缺保持沉默。
在任命定於 11 月底填補的四個空缺和 2023 年的另外兩個空缺職位後，薩爾和委員會將取代超過三分之一的法院。法院已經從一個由自由派佔絕大多數的法院變成了一個溫和的自由派相對於保守派的優勢微乎其微的法院。
“有兩個目標：卓越和多樣性。在過去的 15 年裡，高等法院變得比以前更加多樣化……這很好……我通過 2007 年的法律為此做出了貢獻”，該法律改變了司法遴選委員會的組成，要求九分之七他說，對每個被選中的候選人進行投票共識。
Gideon Sa'ar（圖片來源：MARC ISRAEL SELLEM）
關於評論周一爆發的一場爭議，該爭議威脅到地方法院法官 Khaled Kabub 幾乎可以保證的席位，以填補法庭上傳統的以色列 - 阿拉伯席位，而喬治·卡拉法官將退休，薩爾很謹慎。
Sa'ar 說他不想討論關於 Kabub 的具體指控。爭議圍繞著 Kabub 是否知道他遇到的一些與他父親一起工作的以色列-阿拉伯活動家的一些有問題的活動。
但他也不會保證 Kabub 的座位是 100% 堅固的。此外，他說委員會甚至有可能在 24 人名單中增加新的名字。這句話暗示需要有一名以色列-阿拉伯候選人來取代卡拉，因此如果需要，可以增加一名新的以色列-阿拉伯候選人。不過，Sa'ar 澄清說，這不是他的偏好，因為法律要求延遲重新發布更新後的名單。
同時，他希望在 11 月底之前提名四名新法官，增加新候選人可能會導致延誤。
必須在 2023 年 10 月之前填補的另外兩個空位呢？
從技術上講，根據非常複雜的聯盟協議，薩爾將於 2023 年 8 月離開司法部前往外交部——比空位需要填補的時間早幾個月。
他指出，儘管他和委員會即將填補的四個最高法院席位中有兩個自去年 4 月以來一直空缺，但他們正在提前任命其中兩個席位，儘管這些席位要到 2022 年 4 月才會空缺。
耶路撒冷最高法院鳥瞰圖（來源：MARC ISRAEL SELLEM）
“在零時間的情況下這樣做是不切實際的。我們需要選擇正確的模型……我會把它帶給政府。會有不同的看法。任何決定都需要以色列議會。他說，我們知道情況，在 2 月 1 日前選出新總檢察長之前，沒有辦法做到這一切。
一方面，他回答說：“我不想提出先決條件。但是 [Attorney-General Avichai] Mandelblit 說這不是法律問題。”
總檢察長 Avichai Mandelblit：Sa'ar 拆分 A-G 辦公室的計劃是什麼？（信用：TOMER NEUBERG/FLASH90）
他還表示，Yesh Atid 有義務在聯盟內投票支持該法案。這意味著，即使左翼政黨最初可能會反對該法案，但如果聯盟獲得通過，他們最終將有義務在議會中投票支持該法案。
但是，薩爾在本屆議會中通過成為法律的第一項法案也是關於他以前的政黨的。它允許四個 MK 從一個大黨中脫離，而不是派系的三分之一，在利庫德集團的情況下，這將是十個 MK。薩爾說，他沒有想到任何潛在的叛逃者，但他不排除試圖在本屆議會中實施該法案。
他選擇將其設置為 4 個 MK，因為這是跨越閾值的最小 MK 數量。二十年前，當只需要一個 MK 分裂，然後需要三分之一的派系，這是相反的極端，薩爾認為四個是適當的妥協。
但同樣明顯的是，Ra'am（阿拉伯聯合酋長國名單）恰好有四個 MK，而且有些 MK 會覺得不必在每次投票中都依賴 Mansour Abbas 的政黨會更自在。Sa'ar 說他與 Ra'am 合作沒有問題。
“你不會認同你的合作夥伴在聯盟系統中所做的一切，但我知道 Ra'am 的觀點，沒有發生任何我不能容忍的事情，”他說。“除一方外，所有各方都同意與拉姆坐在一起。我不接受雙重標準，內塔尼亞胡可以接受的事情對我來說是被禁止的。”
以色列-阿拉伯暴力浪潮和使用 Shin Bet
薩爾警告說，當前的以色列-阿拉伯暴力浪潮對以色列國的威脅比哈馬斯和真主黨更大，並指出阿拉伯地區 50% 的謀殺案仍未解決。
Sa'ar 談到了以色列安全局（Shin Bet）參與打擊謀殺浪潮的潛在陷阱，而不是讓警察來處理它，薩爾說“Shin Bet 法授權該機構處理有組織犯罪”，例如作為當前正在“破壞法治基礎”的以色列-阿拉伯暴力浪潮。
“這很聰明，”他說。“這是一個艱難的局面，我們需要所有的州當局。我們明天不會用他們來取代警察，但他們 [the Shin Bet] 可以以不同的方式提供幫助。”
當注意到許多 Shin Bet 官員不願意參與他們更常規的反恐任務之外的任何事情時，Sa'ar 說：“當他們被要求時，他們會全力以赴”。
此外，當前暴力浪潮的元素也已蔓延到民族主義犯罪中，他說，Shin Bet 的能力最適合打擊阿以地區大約 500,000 件非法武器。
3 月 5 日，以色列 - 阿拉伯人在烏姆法赫姆抗議其社區之間的暴力、有組織犯罪和殺戮（圖片來源：RONI OFER/FLASH90）
“我與 PA 的關係受此影響。巴勒斯坦權力機構在其戰略中使用恐怖手段……但他們對以色列的所作所為同樣有害。”
“前任首席檢察官在她 [9 年] 任期結束時做出了決定。除了這些一般原則之外，我不想對此公開過多評論：我認為法院的決定是不正確的。它基於非民族國家 [PA] 發出的投訴，因此無權 [提出投訴]。
國際刑事法院：往下看。（信用：Rick Bajornas/聯合國通過 Flickr）
一個重要的衍生問題是誰將在國際刑事法院為司法部處理巴勒斯坦權力機構針對以色列的行動。自 2013 年 10 月以來，負責國際事務的副總檢察長 Roy Schondorf 在專家專業層面率先解決了這個問題，並與以色列法律團隊的其他成員一起，至少將目前的刑事調查推遲了大約 6 年。 2015 年 1 月開始初步審查。
該雜誌了解到，此時最有可能的情況是，薩爾將把 Schondorf 的任期延長幾個月，直到出現更換程序，並且可能直到 2 月 1 日之後新的總檢察長可以對這個問題進行權衡。關於誰將處理 ICC-PA 產品組合。
Sa'ar 還打算阻止勞工和 Meretz 改變財政部的首選社區名單，該名單目前為許多定居點帶來了好處。該名單將在未來幾個月內進行投票。
在這被視為對藍白黨領袖本尼·甘茨的一種姿態中，薩爾本週授權成立一個政府調查委員會，以調查所謂的潛艇事件。該委員會可以解決針對內塔尼亞胡一些前高級助手的第 3000 號刑事案件之外的適當治理問題，這也意味著審查內塔尼亞胡在其中的作用，儘管前總理不是刑事案件的被告。
薩爾可能不像去年民意調查顯示他達到 17 個席位時那樣大搖大擺，但在歷史記錄中，他可能是現任政府的最大成功者。
Is Gideon Sa'ar Israel's most impactful minister?
In a diverse Knesset avoiding hard issues, Gideon Sa’ar could reshape courts and A-G powers for decades.
OCTOBER 7, 2021 16:33
(photo credit: Rami Zernger)
Besides likely passing a budget and unseating former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, it is not clear that the current government will have much of a lasting legacy in changing the country on any major issues.
This could be true for most ministers, with the exception of Justice Minister Gideon Sa’ar who recently gave an exclusive interview to the Magazine.
Though he moved aside to pave the way for Naftali Bennett to take the prime minister’s chair, it is Sa’ar who may have the greatest actual impact of all of the ministers, by reshaping the courts and the powers of the attorney-general for decades to come.
Despite the uproar about Meretz Party officials meeting with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, Sa’ar is moving, sometimes publicly and sometimes under the radar, to shift the balance of power on the Supreme Court from the liberal camp to the conservative camp.
If one of his influential predecessors, Ayelet Shaked, failed to get even close to splitting the attorney-general’s office into a separate chief legal adviser and chief prosecutor, Sa’ar is closer to succeeding on this dream of the ideological Right than anyone to date.
Sa’ar was mum about exactly who he would push for as head of the powerful Judicial Selection Committee from the list of 24 candidates to fill the four slots currently open on the Supreme Court.
After making appointments to those four vacancies due to be filled by the end of November and to two more openings in 2023, Sa’ar and the committee will have replaced more than one-third of the court. The court has already been changed from one overwhelmingly filled by liberals to that of one with a razor-thin edge of moderate liberals over conservatives.
But if he gets even a two to two split of conservative appointees to liberal appointees, this could slide the court decisively into the conservative column given that three liberal or moderate-liberal justices are retiring and only one moderate conservative is.
Projecting the strength that comes from behind the formidable desk of the justice minister, Sa’ar said, “It is a high-quality list and diverse on all sides. I don’t judge people just on if they are conservative or liberal. There are lots of other ways to measure. Some have more civil law backgrounds and some experience with government administrative committees. Even within criminal law, there are those who are more defense-minded versus those who are more prosecution-minded.”
“There are two goals: excellence and diversity. The High Court has gotten more heterogeneous over the last 15 years than before… this is good… I helped contribute to this through the 2007 law,” which changed the makeup of the Judicial Selection Committee to require a seven out of nine vote consensus for each candidate to be selected, he said.
Gideon Sa'ar (credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Further, reports indicate there will be a push to appoint conservatives like District Court Judge Ram Winograd and former state bankruptcy chief David Hahn.
Regarding commenting on a controversy that erupted on Monday threatening District Court Judge Khaled Kabub’s almost-guaranteed seat to fill the traditional Israeli-Arab seat on the court with Justice George Kara retiring, Sa’ar was careful.
Sa’ar said he did not want to discuss the specific allegations regarding Kabub. The controversy surrounds whether Kabub knew some of the problematic activities of some Israeli-Arab activists he had met who had worked with his father.
But he also would not promise that Kabub’s seat was 100% solid. Further, he said that it was even possible for the committee to add new names to the 24-person list. This remark leaves open the implication that there would need to be an Israeli-Arab candidate to replace Kara, so if need be, a new Israeli-Arab candidate could be added. Sa’ar clarified, though, that this was not his preference, since the law would require a delay to republish the updated list.
Meanwhile, he wishes to nominate the four new justices by the end of November, and adding new candidates could cause a delay.
What about the other two slots which must be filled by October 2023?
Technically, according to the very complex coalition agreement, Sa’ar is due to leave the Justice Ministry for the Foreign Ministry in August 2023 – a couple of months before the slots would need to be filled.
Sa’ar confidently said these two slots would be filled during his term as justice minister.
He noted that although two of the four Supreme Court seats he and the committee are about to fill have been empty since April this past year, they are appointing two of the seats in advance even though they will not be vacant until April 2022.
While there may be other issues where Sa’ar has compromised – such as his desire to pass a new Basic Law to restructure the separation of powers between the branches of government – he was clear that picking all six justices was a red-line priority for him.
AERIAL VIEW of Supreme Court in Jerusalem (credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Splitting the roles of the attorney-general
What about Sa’ar’s plans to split the roles of the attorney-general, which seems to have been delayed by at least several months?
“It was not practical to do this, with zero time. We need to pick the right model… I will bring it to the government. There will be different views. Any decision needs the Knesset. We know the situation and there is no way to do all of this before the selection” of the new attorney-general by February 1, he said.
The justice minister explained, “We cannot do this before there is a new attorney-general or before the budget passes. Anyone who will be selected will know that the splitting of the attorney-general’s current powers could happen.”
Does this mean that he would disqualify any candidates who did not accept the idea of splitting the office’s powers?
On one hand, he responded, “I do not want to make preconditions. But [Attorney-General Avichai] Mandelblit says it is not a legal problem.”
On the other hand, he acknowledged that Mandelblit personally does not view the splitting authorities as the right policy and he said, “If someone says they will only be [the] attorney-general” without the powers split, Sa’ar said, “we will take this into account.”
He was also non-committal on Raz Nizri, one of the top and also more conservative deputy attorneys-general, or about any other specific candidate to fill the post.
Still, in the world of Sa’ar’s nuanced answers, this was a pretty clear message to the potential candidates that their chances of being picked if they oppose the split are close to nil.
Can Sa’ar really get this major change made after the budget is passed and the left-wing parties of the coalition have less reason to cooperate with an initiative they generally oppose?
Sa’ar responded that in the three governments he served in, “I do not remember a situation where I put forward a bill and did not get a majority. If I bring it forward, I will make sure to get a majority.”
ATTORNEY-GENERAL Avichai Mandelblit: What of Sa’ar’s plans to split the A-G’s office? (credit: TOMER NEUBERG/FLASH90)
He also said that Yesh Atid is obligated to vote for the bill within the coalition. This means that even if left-wing parties might initially oppose the bill, if the vote carries in the coalition, they will be obligated to vote for it eventually in the Knesset.
Does he consider legislation for a prime minister term limit and anti-indictment bills for PM as not personal?
While the government’s top immediate goal in the Knesset is passing the state budget, Sa’ar is not waiting to advance the legislation he cares most about: The proposals known to the public as the “anti-Bibi” bills.
The first bill would limit a prime minister to eight years in office. The second would prevent a candidate under indictment from forming a government. Both bills will be presented this month before the budget passes into law.
Sa’ar insists that neither bill is personal legislation against opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu. The first would not grandfather-in Netanyahu, who is the only living Israeli to serve eight years as prime minister. If that bill passes, he could still serve another eight years.
“The Likud is spreading misinformation before seeing the bill,” Sa’ar said.
Neither bill would take effect until the next Knesset. That means that if there is a constructive no-confidence motion in the current Knesset, Netanyahu could still return to power, but if the second bill passes, he could not be prime minister in the next Knesset unless he is cleared of his corruption charges.
“I just want there to be a norm that there already is with mayors,” he said. “The bill isn’t personal; the opposition to it is personal. There is one party held captive by its leader and his trial. It isn’t an ideology to enable someone under indictment to be prime minister. We saw what happens when a prime minister under indictment tries to run a country. He kept initiating elections to remain in power when the next attorney-general would be chosen. A country cannot be subordinate to the interests of one person.”
Sa’ar said he will lobby his fellow ministers to get a majority, and he believes both bills will pass. But he will not get in the way of the next Likud leadership race, in which Netanyahu’s potential challengers would quietly be happy to see the bills pass before the race would be held.
“I won’t interfere in Likud,” he said. “They are sovereign to make their own decisions.”
But the first bill Sa’ar passed into law in this Knesset was also about his former party. It allows four MKs to break off from a large party instead of a third of the faction, which in Likud’s case would be ten MKs. Sa’ar said he did not have in mind any potential defectors, but he does not rule out trying to implement the bill in this Knesset.
SIDE by side with Benjamin Netanyahu in the Knesset, 2013. (credit: FLASH90)
He chose to set it at four MKs because it is the minimum amount of MKs to cross the threshold. After twenty years ago, when only one MK was needed to split and then a third of a faction, which is the opposite extreme, Sa’ar saw four as the proper compromise.
But it is also obvious that Ra’am (United Arab List) happens to have four MKs, and there are MKs who would feel more comfortable not to have to rely on Mansour Abbas’s party in every vote. Sa’ar said he has no problem partnering with Ra’am.
“You don’t identify with everything your partners do in a coalition system, but the views of Ra’am were known to me, and nothing has happened that I couldn’t tolerate,” he said. “All the parties except one agreed to sit with Ra’am. I do not accept a double standard in which what is acceptable for Netanyahu is forbidden to me.”
He continued, “Ra’am only wants to deal with civil issues. It’s an important experiment and I hope it works. I wish the coalition was wider, but I have no regrets about forming the current government. We saved Israel from more deterioration and instability. Imagine if we were going to elections now instead of passing the budget.”
Israeli-Arab violence wave and using the Shin Bet
The current wave of Israeli-Arab violence is a greater threat to the State of Israel than Hamas and Hezbollah, Sa’ar warned, noting that 50% of murders in the Arab sector remained unsolved.
“The phenomenon of organized crime [in the Israeli-Arab sector] endangers Israel more than external threats,” he said. “If you do not know how to deal with this issue, it will cause neighborhoods to crumble to pieces from within.”
Addressing the potential pitfalls of involving the Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet) in combating the murder wave, as opposed to leaving the police to handle it, Sa’ar said the “Shin Bet Law empowers the agency to deal with organized crime,” such as the current Israeli-Arab wave of violence that is “undermining the foundations of the rule of law.”
“It is smart,” he said. “This is a hard situation, and we need all of the state authorities. We are not using them to replace the police tomorrow, but they [the Shin Bet] can help in different ways.”
When it was noted that many Shin Bet officials would prefer not to be involved in anything beyond their more regular counterterrorism mission, Sa’ar said: “They will come committed to the effort” when called on.
Furthermore, elements of the current wave of violence also have spilled over into nationalistic crimes, and the Shin Bet’s capabilities were most appropriate for combating the approximate 500,000 illegal weapons in the Arab-Israel sector, he said.
ISRAELI-ARABS protest violence, organized crime and killings among their communities, in Umm al-Fahm, March 5 (credit: RONI OFER/FLASH90)
Sa’ar said he would insist on completing the passage of a bill requiring minimum jail sentences for possessing illegal weapons. He said he would also widen the authority of economic courts to take action against the tax evasion and money laundering of organized crime and enable police to take more steps to prevent evidence from being lost.
Meretz meets with Mahmoud Abbas
By contrast, Sa’ar downplayed the significance of the other Abbas, who leads the Palestinians. He said the meeting of Meretz ministers with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas was a waste of time.
“Such a meeting doesn’t have such diplomatic importance,” he said. “The PA is still trying to prosecute our soldiers in The Hague and paying terrorists and their families. As long as they don’t stop, I won’t meet Palestinian officials. The Left’s representatives in the coalition could be frustrated by it and they may have political needs, but this government as it is composed will not enable the formation of a Palestinian state in Judea and Samaria, which would endanger Israel.”
International Criminal Court
Moving on to Israel’s showdown with the International Criminal Court over alleged war crimes, he was asked to address speculation that even as the new ICC Prosecutor Karim Khan has not bothered Israel in his first three months in office, down the road Israelis could be facing international arrest warrants.
“I do not want to get into speculation. I do not know what is the basis of this speculation. We know the IDF is the most ethical army and we know Israel has internal investigation processes if something happens with the IDF that is improper – and that this [the investigations] are more than what happens in most Western armies.”
Sa’ar said that The Hague’s criminal investigation is a political drama manufactured by the Palestinian Authority.
He said the PA “is not interested in solving the conflict and is taking steps against Israel. The process [at the ICC] is about delegitimizing Israel.”
“How I relate to the PA is influenced by this. The PA is using terror in its strategy… but what they do against Israel is no less harmful.”
“The prior chief prosecutor made a decision at the end of her [nine-year] term. I do not want to comment on this too much publicly other than these general principles: I do not think the court’s decision was correct. It was based on a complaint sent from a non-nation-state [the PA] who therefore had no right [to file a complaint.]
Further, he added, “the substance also is wrongheaded. Israel has a legal apparatus which probes these issues. I just hope this will be handled differently in the future as opposed to the manner in which things have been handled previously.”
INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL Court: Looking down the road. (credit: Rick Bajornas/UN via Flickr)
One important spin-off issue is who will be handling the PA’s moves against Israel at the ICC for the Justice Ministry going forward. Since October 2013, Deputy Attorney-General for International Affairs Roy Schondorf has spearheaded the issue at the expert-professional level and is credited, along with other parts of Israel’s legal team, with at least delaying the current criminal probe by around six years from the start of the preliminary review in January 2015.
His eight-year term is due to expire later this month, but the selection process for replacing him has not started.
The Magazine understands that the most likely scenario at this point is that Sa’ar will extend Schondorf’s term for a period of months until there has been a replacement process, and possibly until a new attorney-general can weigh in on the issue after February 1 about who will handle the ICC-PA portfolio.
Reopening American consulate for Palestinians in east Jerusalem
Sa’ar said he would also do everything possible to prevent the reopening of an American consulate in central Jerusalem that would serve the PA, even if the Biden administration demands it.
“Jerusalem is a matter of principle,” he said. “Relations with America are very important. I heard the views in Washington, but our views on Jerusalem as our eternal capital are no less strong. It requires Israeli approval, and the US can’t do it unilaterally. So they will need to consider our view and our principles.”
Sa’ar also intends to prevent Labor and Meretz from changing the Finance Ministry’s list of preferred communities, which currently gives benefits to many settlements. The list is set to come to a vote in the months ahead.
“We will stand for our principles, and we won’t let a map be created that goes against our outlook,” he said.
As for Labor’s proposal for a new Basic Law on Equality, Sa’ar said that in the previous Knesset, he presented a bill to put the principle of equality in the current Basic Law on Human Dignity and Liberty, and he would still support doing that, but he would not enable passing a new law.
Case 3000 Submarine Affair State Commission
In what was seen as a gesture to Blue and White leader Benny Gantz, Sa’ar authorized the formation of a government commission of inquiry this week to probe the so-called submarine affair. The commission could address proper governance issues beyond the Case 3000 criminal case against some of Netanyahu’s former top aides, which would mean also reviewing Netanyahu’s role in it, though the former prime minister is not a defendant in the criminal case.
Asked if he took the step to quell Gantz’s political independence, he said that when Gantz demanded the probe in the press, immediately after the government was formed, he did not handle it the right way, but it has since proceeded quietly behind the scenes.
“There are things in his authority and some in mine, and there was a dialogue between our ministries,” he said. “It actually happened weeks ago and no one asked me about it until this week.”
When asked if he was worried about Gantz bringing down the government and forming a coalition with Likud, Sa’ar said: “I do not think Benny has such good memories from his partnership with Netanyahu. I do not think a smart guy like Gantz would do that.”
Sa’ar may not have quite the same swagger he had when polls had him reaching 17 seats last year, but in the historical record, he may make the largest mark from the current government.
巴勒斯坦事務：南希伯倫山 Khirbet al-Mufaqarah 的 Simhat Torah 暴力事件留下的問題多於答案。
2021 年 10 月 8 日 16:06
三歲的 Muhammad Baker Mahmoud Hamamdeh 在襲擊中頭部受傷，嚴重到需要在 Soroka 醫療中心住院三天。
破碎的鋸齒狀玻璃是9 月 28 日在 Khirbet al-Mufaqarah 發生的暴力事件的眾多明顯傷痕之一，當時塵土飛揚的南希伯倫山巴勒斯坦牧民村約有 122 人，變成了戰場，留下 12巴勒斯坦人和五名定居者受傷。
Hamamdeh 家族位於 Khirbet al-Mufaqarah 的石屋中，其中一扇破碎的窗戶。（信用：托瓦·拉扎羅夫）
這次襲擊發生在 Simhat Torah 假期的下午 2 點左右，是任何人都記得的西岸村莊發生的最嚴重的此類暴力事件。
該社區沒有連接到電網或水網，位於 Avigail 和 Maon 農場這兩個定居者前哨之間的一條土路上。
巴勒斯坦人和以色列人都認為，他們對土地的權利取代了管轄他們所在西岸 C 區的以色列國防軍條例。C 區受以色列國防軍軍事和文職統治。
巴勒斯坦國旗在 al-Mufaqarah 飄揚，在 Avigail 和 Maon 農場可以看到以色列國旗。這些社區的歷史敘述不同，他們的語言也不同。
南希伯倫山地區委員會發言人稱，早上有大約 20 名定居者從阿維蓋爾步行到馬恩農場，並在返回途中遭到巴勒斯坦人的襲擊。他說，該地區只有少量軍隊，他們採取行動自衛。
發言人說，來自 Maon Farm 的保安人員前來協助，他遭到襲擊，他的車輛被投擲石塊。他向《耶路撒冷郵報》提供了描繪巴勒斯坦人拿著石頭的照片，其中一張照片是一個戴著彈弓的蒙面巴勒斯坦人。另一張照片顯示，巴勒斯坦人在一座建築物旁，用石頭和一根棍子。
第 12 頻道發布了該活動的視頻，該視頻顯示了在活動期間軍隊士兵指責該地區的一名巴勒斯坦人——巴塞爾阿德拉，他是左翼組織 B'Tselem 的志願者——縱火焚燒灌木叢。然後第 12 頻道補充說，這樣做是為了讓巴勒斯坦人可以指責猶太人放火燒他們的村莊。阿德拉在推特上揭穿了第 12 頻道的指控，並發布了一段視頻，顯示有問題的火災是由催淚瓦斯罐引發的。
據 B'Tselem 稱，事件開始於下午 2 點左右，當時定居者襲擊了附近 Khirbet a-Rakeez 的一名牧羊人，當時他正在放牧他的羊群。B'Tselem 聲稱定居者殺死了四隻牧羊人的山羊。
他指控說，在最嚴重的時候，該事件包括多達 80 名定居者，而且暴力蔓延到了 al-Mufaqarah 之外，還包括對他所在村莊 al-Tuwani 的一些房屋的襲擊。
B'Tselem 發布了一段視頻，顯示猶太極端分子對 al-Mufaqarah 的一所房屋進行石擊襲擊。在視頻中，可以聽到玻璃破碎的聲音以及眩暈手榴彈和催淚瓦斯的爆炸聲。
軍隊拒絕接受這篇文章的採訪，截至發稿時，警方沒有回應有關他們對事件調查細節的請求。警方最初逮捕了與 9 月 28 日事件有關的六名以色列人和一名巴勒斯坦人。
在一個不尋常的舉動 OC 中央司令部少將。Yehuda Fox 上周訪問了 al-Mufaqarah，並與 Mahmoud Hamamdeh 進行了交談，以了解該事件的第一手資料。
al-Mufaqarah 村靠近 9 月 17 日的事件現場，在該事件中，一名以色列國防軍少校及其部隊阻止了一群左翼活動分子到達 Avigail 前哨附近的一個巴勒斯坦小村莊，以便運送一卡車的水.
這些士兵被拍到使用似乎是不當武力驅散激進分子，他們一直在一條通往前哨的狹窄鋪砌道路的兩側行進，並且還經過 Khirbet al-Mufaqarah。
不到兩週後，正是這個以色列國防軍部隊無法阻止一群極右翼青少年到達 al-Mufaqarah 並向其房屋和居民投擲石塊。
據聯合國稱，截至 10 月 4 日，今年已有 264 起定居者和猶太極端分子對約旦河西岸和東耶路撒冷的巴勒斯坦人發動襲擊，造成財產損失，101 起造成人員受傷。相比之下，2020 年全年的數據中，有 270 起定居者和猶太極端主義襲擊造成財產損失，82 起造成人員受傷。
另外，聯合國數據顯示，在約旦河西岸和東耶路撒冷有 69 名以色列平民被巴勒斯坦人傷害，而去年為 16 名。
根據南希伯倫山地區委員會主席 Yochai Damri 的說法，“每年有 1,500 起在猶地亞-撒瑪利亞地區的道路上向猶太人投擲石塊的事件。”
Mahmoud Hamamdeh 說，無法描述襲擊的混亂情況；他說，暴力是壓倒性的，各方都不知道該做什麼和去哪裡。
“我有 22 個孫輩在場，”他說，在整個襲擊過程中，他們的安全在他的心目中最重要，更不用說受傷的穆罕默德了。
Damri 說，Avigail 和 Havat Maon 的代表去探望這個男孩，並補充說：“我也作為我們猶太社區的當地民選領導人，問孩子的家人我是否可以探望。家人禮貌地拒絕了——擔心巴勒斯坦權力機構會報復他們。”
Avigail 居民 Reut Malichi 說，她本週去看望了三歲的穆罕默德，上周也已經在索羅卡拜訪了他。
作為一名在 Gush Etzion 地區長大的學校輔導員和七個孩子的母親，她是來自 Avigail 的人之一，她與來自 al-Mufaqarah 的巴勒斯坦人有關係，尤其是因為他的希伯來語而與 Mahmoud Hamamdeh 有關係。
她說，馬利奇主要是在事後得知暴力事件。她將這一事件歸咎於一群前往該社區度假的青少年，並解釋說這並不代表 Avigail 的人民。
Settlers versus Palestinians: 'This was a battle for our homes'
PALESTINIAN AFFAIRS: The Simhat Torah violence in Khirbet al-Mufaqarah in the South Hebron Hills leaves more questions than answers.
OCTOBER 8, 2021 16:06
THREE YEAR-OLD Muhammad Baker Mahmoud Hamamdeh suffered a head wound in the attack serious enough to require a three-day hospital stay at Soroka Medical Center.
(photo credit: TOVAH LAZAROFF)
All the windows in the Hamamdeh family’s small stone home are broken.
The shattered jagged glass is one of the many visible scars of the violent events that took place in Khirbet al-Mufaqarah on September 28, when the small, dusty South Hebron Hills Palestinian herding village of some 122 people was transformed into a battleground that left 12 Palestinians and five settlers injured.
“All the homes are like this,” said Mahmoud Hamamdeh, adding that “this was a battle for our homes…. We were attacked with stones and sticks.”
His three-year-old grandson Muhammad Baker Mahmoud Hamamdeh suffered a head wound in the attack serious enough to require a three-day hospital stay at Soroka-University Medical Center in Beersheba.
A week later, dressed in gray pajamas and sandals, the brown-haired boy sat on the concrete floor in his home playing with large, multicolored Lego that two Israeli visitors had brought him.
ONE OF the shattered windows in Hamamdeh family’s stone home in Khirbet al-Mufaqarah. (credit: TOVAH LAZAROFF)
The room was mostly bare. A number of small, thin, colored foam mattresses were laid on the floor for seating.
Muhammad had fitted the red, green, yellow and blue pieces together, as his mother, Bara’a, and his grandfather Mahmoud described how their home was pelted by stones thrown by Jewish extremists who they presumed were settlers.
“This is the room where the children hid,” Mahmoud explained, because its steel shutter could provide safety.
His grandson Muhammad, however, never made it into the safe room, because he had already been hit by rocks that went through two different windows of the bedroom he had been napping in. The room was filled with glass and blood, recalled Mahmoud, explaining that they thought he had died.
Mahmoud walked over to the bedroom, where he held up the bloodstained sweatshirt Muhammad had slept in, to underscore how frightening the moment had been.
The attack, which occurred about 2 p.m. on the Simhat Torah holiday, is the worst such incident of violence in that West Bank village that anyone can remember.
The community is not linked up to an electricity or water grid and is located off a dirt road between the two settler outposts of Avigail and Maon Farm.
The three communities are all unauthorized, and as a result the status of all three communities is tenuous.
Both Palestinians and Israelis hold that their rights to the land supersede the IDF regulations that govern Area C of the West Bank where they are situated. Area C is under IDF military and civilian rule.
Palestinians hold that this land should be part of the permanent borders of a Palestinian state, while the Israeli Right believes that this land, which is part of the biblical heartland, should be included within Israel’s sovereign borders.
PALESTINIAN FLAGS flutter in al-Mufaqarah, and Israeli flags can be seen in Avigail and Maon Farm. The historical narratives of these communities differ, as do their languages.
Similarly, there is a wide gap between their narratives of how and why the attack on the village unfolded.
A South Hebron Hills Regional Council spokesman claimed a group of some 20 settlers had walked in the morning from Avigail to Maon Farm and were on their way back when they were attacked by Palestinians. There was only a small army presence in the area, and they took action to defend themselves, he said.
The security officer from Maon Farm came to their assistance, and he was attacked, with rocks thrown at his vehicle, the spokesman said. He provided The Jerusalem Post with photos that depict Palestinians holding rocks, including one that showed a masked Palestinian with a slingshot. Another photo showed Palestinians beside a building with stones and a stick.
Channel 12 posted a video from the event, which showed army soldiers during the event accusing a Palestinian – Basel Adra, from the area, who volunteers with the left-wing group B’Tselem – of setting brush aflame. Channel 12 then added that this was done so that Palestinians could accuse Jews of setting their village on fire. Adra took to Twitter to debunk the Channel 12 charge, posting a video that showed that the fire in question was started by a tear-gas canister.
“It’s a lie. The fire was caused by an army gas bomb. I literally filmed it, so I have proof. Also, there aren’t any homes there – just a pile of wood,” Adra tweeted.
He added that “I saw the fire, filmed it, and called residents to fetch water.”
Initially, he wrote that two soldiers helped him, but then another soldier filmed him “to fabricate a false accusation against me.”
According to B’Tselem the incident started around 2 p.m. when settlers attacked a shepherd in nearby Khirbet a-Rakeez while he was grazing his flock. B’Tselem alleged that the settlers killed four of the shepherd’s goats.
Adra said the shepherd called for help, and then a stoning incident broke out between the settlers and the Palestinians, with the army arriving shorty after and shooting tear gas and stun grenades at the Palestinians.
He charged that, at its height, the event included as many as 80 settlers, and that the violence spread beyond al-Mufaqarah and also included attacks on some homes in his village of al-Tuwani.
Violence at this level, he speculated, could occur only if it had been preplanned in an attempt to scare Palestinians into leaving the area.
“They don’t want us to live here,” he added.
The attackers, he said, vandalized homes, vehicles and cut water lines.
B’Tselem published a video that showed a stoning attack by Jewish extremists against a home in al-Mufaqarah. In the video one can hear the sound of breaking glass and the explosion of stun grenades and tear gas.
One settler source blamed the attack on outside Jewish extremists, primarily teens, adding that it was clear the violence there was unacceptable and went above and beyond any claim with respect to self-defense.
He said that the army and the police have to be the ones who take steps to prevent the violence.
The army declined to be interviewed for the article and the police did not respond as of press time to a request for details about their investigation into the incident. Police initially arrested six Israelis and one Palestinian in connection with the September 28 event.
In an unusual move OC Central Command Maj.-Gen. Yehuda Fox visited al-Mufaqarah last week and spoke with Mahmoud Hamamdeh to learn firsthand about the incident.
Palestinians, including Mahmoud, said that from their perspective the incident could not have occurred without the army, which they said was on the scene almost from the start.
The village of al-Mufaqarah is close to the scene of a September 17 incident in which an IDF major and his unit prevented a group of left-wing activists from reaching a small Palestinian hamlet near the Avigail outpost so as to deliver a truckload of water.
The soldiers were captured on film using what appeared to be undue force to dispel the activists, who had been marching on both sides of a narrow paved road that leads to the outpost and that also passes by Khirbet al-Mufaqarah.
Less than two weeks later, it was this same IDF unit that was unable to prevent a group of extreme right-wing teenagers from reaching al-Mufaqarah and pelting its homes and residents with stones.
THE AL-MUFAQARAH incident comes amid a heightened focus on violence by Jewish extremists and settlers against Palestinians in the West Bank, in a period when tensions have increased overall in that region, including in the South Hebron Hills.
According to the UN, as of October 4, there have been 264 attacks this year by settlers and Jewish extremists against Palestinians in the West Bank and east Jerusalem that resulted in property damage and 101 in which there were injuries. This is compared to data from all of 2020 in which there were 270 settler and Jewish extremist attacks that resulted in property damage and 82 in which there were injuries.
Separately, UN data showed, 69 Israeli civilians have been injured by Palestinians in the West Bank and east Jerusalem, compared with 16 last year.
According to South Hebron Hills Regional Council head Yochai Damri, “There are 1,500 incidents of rock-throwing on Jews on the roads in the Judea-Samaria area every year.”
STILL, A wide-ranging group attack such as the one that occurred last week is rare.
Mahmoud Hamamdeh said it is impossible to describe the chaos of the attack; the violence was overwhelming, and on all sides one didn’t know what to do and where to be, he said.
Rubber bullets, stun grenade and tear-gas casings are littered in the village. He rolled up his sleeve to show how he had two wounds on his arm, which he said were from the stun grenades and tear gas canisters that were thrown.
When the attack began, he and his siblings had gathered for a family lunch, when they heard shouting about approaching settlers.
“I had 22 grandchildren who were present,” he said, and the whole time the attack lasted, their safety was uppermost in his mind, to say nothing of the wounded Muhammad.
Damri said he “immediately denounced, and always vigorously denounces, any harming of innocent persons, regardless of religion or origin.”
This goes, he said, for needless acts of violence on either side.
Representatives from Avigail and Havat Maon went to visit the boy, Damri said, adding that “I, too, as the local elected leader of our Jewish community, asked the child’s family if I could visit. The family politely refused – concerned that the Palestinian Authority would retaliate against them.”
Avigail resident Reut Malichi said she had gone to see the three-year-old Muhammad this week, having already visited him at Soroka last week as well.
A school counselor and a mother of seven who grew up in the Gush Etzion region, she is among those from Avigail who have a relationship with Palestinians from al-Mufaqarah, particularly with Mahmoud Hamamdeh because of his Hebrew.
The community of Avigail is a small, mixed religious and secular community, situated in a complex political reality, she said. Israelis and Palestinians in this area live together, side by side, and have to be good neighbors, even though they hold diametrically opposed beliefs, including on their relationship to the land, Malichi said.
The Palestinians do not recognize the State of Israel and do not want the Jews living on land that they hold belongs to them, she added.
In turn, she said, “we are Zionists and we are returning to… the land of the Bible.”
Initially, Malichi said, she was unaware of the attack, as she celebrated the holiday with her family, with a barbecue lunch after services, which included her mother and some of her siblings.
Malichi learned about the violence, she said, mostly after the fact. She blamed the incident on a group of teenagers that visited the community for the holiday, explaining that it did not represent the people of Avigail itself.
The teenagers were not properly supervised, she explained. Already when she met them over the holiday, she feared for a situation that could get out of control.
Malichi was also able to speak with the teenagers after the incident, so she said she understands that “they did terrible things.”
Malichi added, “I am embarrassed to tell you what they told me, and it cannot be justified.”
She has already warned her own teenage son that if he ever engages in such activity, she will personally turn him in to the police.
“I can understand why Palestinians threw stones” in response,” she said.
This is not how Jews or the residents of Judea and Samaria should behave, she said. Israelis living here should be a force for peace.
“Nothing like that has happened here before,” she said.
“This land can no longer tolerate the blood, the hate, and we have to help it love us. It is not the path of this nation to live in hate.”•
2021 年 10 月 8 日 02:31
三年前，當埃拉娜·約翰遜 (Elana Johnson) 購買一座猶太教堂時，這位四個孩子的母親向內布拉斯加州林肯市的一個保守黨會眾詢問了加入的事宜。
約翰遜說，猶太教堂告訴她，她歡迎她的兒子入學，但如果沒有割禮，他們就不能慶祝他們的成人禮。該決定與保守運動的猶太法律當局在 1981 年採取的立場一致，該立場建議將未受割禮的家庭納入猶太教堂生活，但拒絕未受割禮的男孩接受成人禮。
繼續觀看戴夫·查佩爾 (Dave Chappelle) 在新特輯中開玩笑說要征服世界的“太空猶太人”廣告後
Bruchim 的聯合創始人兼總裁 Lisa Braver Moss 說：“做出這個決定的家庭不應該感到被邊緣化，也不應該覺得他們必須對此保密。”
該組織是 Moss 和 Bruchim 聯合創始人兼執行董事 Rebecca Wald 幾十年來一直在倡導的產物。莫斯在 1990 年的一篇文章中首次反對猶太人割禮，他們在 2015 年的一本書中概述了另一種儀式，英國人 shalom（字面意思是“和平盟約”），並在當年的改革運動大會上分發傳單，概述了讓猶太教堂更受歡迎的方式對於選擇不接受割禮的家庭。
Bruchim 的目標之一是希望看到猶太教堂對非割禮家庭做出積極的歡迎聲明，類似於那些對有色人種猶太人和 LGBT+ 猶太人變得普遍的家庭。他們還希望拉比將為新生兒提供幾種替代的歡迎儀式之一，以取代傳統的 bris。
“我看到割禮——它被描述為一個標誌，一個盟約的標誌——而且標誌有很多選擇，”重建派拉比協會執行董事、布魯希姆拉比顧問委員會成員拉比 Elyse Wechterman 說。“實際上，我不認為將您的孩子帶入聖約是一種選擇[不]。我認為你必須讓你的孩子加入聖約，或者你應該讓你的孩子加入聖約。我想把它作為一種期望。它是如何完成的——有許多同樣有效的選擇。”
保守派運動的主要生物倫理學家兼其最高猶太法律權威主席艾略特·多爾夫拉比說，猶太法律沒有任何依據可以拒絕未受割禮的人參加宗教生活，包括成人禮。但是，自從 1981 年的意見將成年禮從未受割禮的兒童的餐桌上移除以來，他的運動還沒有發表任何正式聲明。
一位灣區保守黨拉比因擔心自己會成為仇恨郵件的目標而不願透露姓名，他說，他在領導他的猶太教堂的 20 年裡已經拒絕了大約六個未接受割禮的家庭。
關於受割禮的美國猶太男子的百分比沒有可靠的統計數據，儘管據信絕大多數是。部分原因是，根據 2014 年的一項研究，絕大多數美國男孩都接受了包皮環切術——大約 90% 的非西班牙裔白人，這使得美國在這個問題上成為全球異常。但這個數字似乎正在下降。
根據皮尤研究中心 2020 年的研究，廣泛的社會趨勢，再加上 72% 在 2010 年至 2020 年期間結婚的美國猶太人選擇了非猶太配偶，這意味著雖然選擇離開孩子的猶太父母的數量“完好無損”幾乎可以肯定是極少數，他們的人數可能會增加。
“我研究了醫學推理。我想了很多關於這一切的倫理。我的結論……是，我認為我對此感覺不太好，”一位坐在 Bruchim 董事會但因話題敏感而不願透露姓名的猶太母親說。“我是唯一一個對此感覺不太好的猶太人嗎？我開始意識到我不是，但每個人都覺得有必要對此保持沉默。”
約翰遜說：“我們需要一個幾乎安全的空間來進行這些對話，而沒有那種外部干擾，在那里人們可能真的很消極，甚至充滿仇恨，或者即使是出於最好的意圖也無法理解。” “這是猶太人真正應該與其他猶太人進行的對話。擁有 Bruchim 意味著我們能夠以一種直到現在才真正存在的方式提供這種支持和社區。”
These Jews want to normalize not circumcising with their synagogue's help
Bruchim is a new organization that advocates for Jewish families that don't want to circumcise their sons.
By BEN HARRIS/JTA
OCTOBER 8, 2021 02:31
RABBI YEHUDA MATUSOF holds his eight-day-old grandson during a circumcision ceremony in Brussels. The book discusses circumcision and a wide variety of other practices and attitudes toward the Jewish body.
(photo credit: Francois Lenoir/Reuters)
When Elana Johnson was shopping for a synagogue three years ago, the mother of four approached a Conservative congregation in Lincoln, Nebraska, to ask about joining.
For most synagogues, such an inquiry would have been a no-brainer. But Johnson had elected not to circumcise her three sons, departing from one of Judaism’s most widely practiced traditions, and she was concerned about whether that would be a problem.
Johnson says the synagogue told her she was welcome to enroll her sons, but that without circumcision they would not be allowed to celebrate their bar mitzvah. That decision was in line with a position adopted by the Conservative movement’s Jewish law authorities in 1981 that recommended including non-circumcising families in synagogue life but denying uncircumcised boys a bar mitzvah.
Johnson didn’t feel included: Her family joined a nearby Reform synagogue instead.
“I want to be more observant and in a more observant community,” she said. “But I also just want my kids to be happy and welcome and feel as little judgment as possible no matter where we go.”
A new organization launching this week aims to make that more likely. The group, called Bruchim (Hebrew for “welcome”), is seeking to normalize the decision not to circumcise Jewish boys, a venerable religious rite that goes back to the Bible and which is widely practiced across the spectrum of Jewish observance, even by otherwise non-observant Jewish families.
“Families who are making this decision shouldn’t feel marginalized and they shouldn’t feel like they have to be secret about it,” said Lisa Braver Moss, Bruchim’s co-founder and president.
The group is an outgrowth of advocacy that Moss and Bruchim co-founder and executive director, Rebecca Wald, have been doing for decades. Moss first argued against Jewish circumcision in a 1990 essay, and together they outlined an alternative ceremony, brit shalom (literally “covenant of peace”) in a 2015 book and distributed flyers at that year’s Reform movement convention outlining ways for synagogues to be more welcoming for families that had opted out of circumcision.
A man prepares the items needed for a circumcision. (credit: REUTERS)
Now, in Bruchim, they have a volunteer staff, including Johnson as social media strategist, as well as a four-member rabbinical advisory board. The team includes people with professional backgrounds in all of Judaism’s non-Orthodox movements, as well as several people who grew up Orthodox.
Among its objectives, Bruchim wants to see synagogues make proactive statements of welcome for non-circumcising families similar to those that have become common toward Jews of color and LGBT+ Jews. They also hope rabbis will offer one of several alternative welcome ceremonies for newborns in place of the traditional bris.
“I see circumcision — it’s described as a sign, a sign of the covenant — and there are many options for signs,” said Rabbi Elyse Wechterman, executive director of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association and a member of Bruchim’s rabbinic advisory board. “I actually don’t think that it is an option [not] to bring your child into the covenant. I think you must bring your child into the covenant, or you should bring your child into the covenant. I want to push that as an expectation. How it’s done — there are many equally valid options.”
Whether Bruchim’s requests will find a ready reception within American Jewish communities is uncertain.
The Reform movement does not have a policy about how to handle families who are considering or have decided not to circumcise. But the movement’s leader, Rabbi Rick Jacobs, said in a statement that ritual circumcision remains something his movement “will always advocate” for — even as other choices are accepted.
“As one of the oldest rituals in the Jewish faith, we will always advocate and educate our community about the beauty and meaning of brit milah,” Jacobs said. But he added, “Connecting oneself to the Jewish community may take many forms, and we understand that some families and individuals are making the choice to not circumcise as part of the brit ceremony. There will always be a place for everyone in the Reform community, regardless of how they or their family choose to express their faith.”
Rabbi Elliot Dorff, the leading bioethicist in the Conservative movement and the chair of its top Jewish law authority, said there is no basis in Jewish law for denying an uncircumcised man access to religious life, including bar-mitzvah. But his movement has not made any formal statements since the 1981 opinion taking bar mitzvah off the table for uncircumcised children.
And Dorff said that advertising openness to non-circumcising families, one of Bruchim’s main asks, is not something that he would endorse.
“Do I want to say publicly, even though it’s certainly true, that people who violate Shabbat publicly are welcome in our community?” Dorff said. “Of course they’re welcome in our community. But I don’t want to say publicly that it’s wonderful that you violate Shabbat.”
One Bay Area Conservative rabbi who asked not to be named out of fear he would become the target of hate mail, said he has turned away about a half-dozen non-circumcising families in 20 years leading his synagogue.
“It’s a covenantal mitzvah,” the rabbi said, referring to circumcision. “It’s the sign of the covenant, which is about as basic to Judaism as you can get. By not circumcising, you’re saying that you’re outside the covenant of Judaism. And bar-mitzvah is saying you’re part of the mitzvah-observing community. You’re starting with the basic idea that you’re not going to observe one of the most fundamental mitzvot of Judaism.”
No reliable statistics exist on the percentage of American Jewish men who are circumcised, though the vast majority are believed to be. In part, that’s because circumcision is performed on the vast majority of American boys — some 90% of non-Hispanic whites, according to a 2014 study, making the US a global outlier on this issue. But that figure appears to be dropping.
Critics of circumcision object to the practice on a number of grounds, including the physical and emotional trauma inflicted on children, a conviction they lack the right to modify someone’s body without permission and a belief that there is no medical benefit for the child. The position of the American medical establishment is that the benefits of circumcision outweigh the risks.
The broad societal trend, coupled with the fact that 72% of American Jews who married between 2010 and 2020 chose a non-Jewish spouse, according to the 2020 Pew study, means that while the numbers of Jewish parents who choose to leave their children “intact” is almost certainly a tiny minority, their numbers are likely to be growing.
“I looked into the medical reasoning. I thought a lot about the ethics of it all. And my conclusion … was, I don’t think I feel so good about this,” said one Jewish mother who sits on Bruchim’s board but asked not to be named due to the sensitivity of the subject. “Am I the only Jew that doesn’t feel so good about this? And I started to realize that I wasn’t, but everyone felt the need to be very quiet about it.”
Some efforts to bar circumcision — in San Francisco, where Moss lives, and elsewhere — have been criticized as antisemitic. Bruchim is limiting involvement to Jews, advertising that anyone who is Jewish may donate and come to meetings, in an effort to make parents like the board member feel comfortable discussing their wrestling with tradition.
“We need almost a safe space to have these conversations without that sort of outside interference, where people can be really negative, even hateful, or just simply not get it even with the best intentions,” said Johnson. “It’s a conversation that Jewish people should only really be having with other Jewish people. And having Bruchim means that we’re able to offer that support and community in a way that has not really existed until this time.”