World Briefs 2-14-12

Download this story in Microsoft Word here.  

Embassy bombings update: Israeli PM says Iran is responsible, blasts hit Bangkok

Click photo to download. Caption: Indian security and forensic officials examine a car belonging to the Israeli embassy after an explosion in New Delhi, India. A second bomb, targeted at the Israeli embassy in Georgia, was diffused. Credit: EPA/HARISH TYAGI Iran is behind the attack on the Israeli embassies in Georgia and India, according to a senior Israeli defense official’s statement on Monday. “It is a joint attack on two Israeli targets, perpetrated simultaneously, and at a time right after the anniversary of Imad Mughniyeh’s death. It has Iran’s fingerprints all over it.”

Terrorists targeted staff at Israeli embassies in India and Georgia on Monday, with a bomb going off in New Delhi but a second device in Tbilisi defused.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accused Iran of perpetrating the two-pronged attack, Israel Hayom reported. He said that the attacks were only a part of a series of attempts to harm Israeli representatives around the world in the past few months.

According to Reuters, Vijay Setia, president of the All India Rice Exporters’ Association claimed that Iran’s responsibility behind the bomb in New Delhi could harm the state of trade between the two countries. India previously balked at the financial sanctions proposed by the EU and the U.S., devised to hinder Iran from producing nuclear weapons. India opted instead to boost trade in order to pay for oil supplies. But Setia says the explosion may have changed that. “It will complicate matters further and hurt trade…[it] is a matter of concern and it will dampen trade sentiments between India and Iran,” Setia said to Reuters.

On Tuesday, another three bombs exploded near Bangkok, Thailand, wounding four Thai civilians and an Iranian thought to be behind the attack. Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said that there is no indication yet that the targets were Israeli or Jewish,  “but we can’t rule out any possibility,” the Associated Press reported.

JointMedia News Service

Jewish population in Russia higher than 200,000

The Federation of Jewish Communities in Russia has said that a recent census estimating the current number of Jews living in the country has underestimated the count by at least a factor of 5.5, interfax-religion reported.

FJCR President Alexander Boroda spoke at the 5th FJCR congress on Monday, saying that "the real number of Jews in the country is much higher than the 2002 and 2010 censuses indicate: 233,500 and 150,000, respectively."

This number has been spurred by the fact that very little emigration by Russian Jews to Israel and other nations has been taking place in the past few years. As a point of comparison, more than a million Soviet Jews emigrated from Russia in the early 1990s.

-JointMedia News Service

Montenegro Jews named official minority

Prime Minister Igor Lukšić has officially recognized the Jewish community in Montenegro as a minority, reported Yedioth Ahronot. There are currently about 1000 Jews in the small Balkan country.

The Montenegro Jewish community held an official ceremony in honor of the gesture. In attendance was the president of the community, Yasha Alfandri and Albania’s Chief Rabbi Yoel Kaplan.

Recently, a delegation from the Rabbinical Center of Europe (RCE) and Chief Rabbi of Israel Yona Metzger met with the prime minister  to discuss the issue. Rabbi Aryeh Goldberg, deputy director of the RCE and a member of the delegation, expressed his gratitude that the prime minister kept his promise on the issue. “There is no doubt that this is an historic day and an important milestone for the future of Montenegro Jewry,” Prime Minister Lukšić said.

-JointMedia News Service

Bombers target Israeli Embassies in India, Georgia, wounding one

Bombers targeted staff at Israeli Embassies in India and Georgia on Monday, the Foreign Ministry said, with a bomb going off in New Delhi but a second device in Tbilisi defused, Israel Hayom reported.

Indian police said a bomb hit an embassy car and wounded a woman. She was not immediately identified and there was no word on her condition, but some reports said she was the wife of an Israeli diplomat in New Delhi.

“There was one attempted attack, and one successful, as it were,” said Paul Hirschson, a spokesman for Israel’s Foreign Ministry. “In both cases, the people concerned worked with the Israeli Embassies.”

He also confirmed that a bomb had been found in a car belonging to a staffer at the embassy in the Georgian capital Tbilisi, which was defused by local police. Hirschson said the Israeli ambassador to India was not hurt in the New Delhi attack.

Israel had put its foreign missions on especially high alert ahead of the February 12 anniversary of the assassination, in 2008, of Imad Mughniyeh, the military mastermind of Lebanon’s Shi’ite terrorist group Hezbollah.

Iranian-backed Hezbollah had vowed to avenge Mughniyeh’s 2008 death in a Damascus car-bombing, blaming it on Israel.

Since Mughniyeh’s assassination, there have been several attempts by Hezbollah to avenge his death, including through attacks on Israeli and Jewish targets abroad.

Responding to news of the attack, Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman said Israel will not allow terrorism to affect its agenda, according to the Jerusalem Post.

"It just shows that Israel and its citizens face terror inside and outside of Israel," Liberman said. "We deal with it every day. We know how to identify exactly who is responsible for the attack and who carried it out."

"We will not allow this to affect our agenda," the minister concluded. 

Read more at israelhayom.com.

JointMedia News Service

Iran Ayatollah voices support for Hamas

Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, made a statement in support of Hamas and said Iran views the Palestinian issue as an “Islamic cause,” the Jerusalem Post reported. Khamenei made the comments during a meeting with Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, who is visiting the country.

“Iran will always be supportive of the Palestinian cause and the Islamic resistance in Palestine,” Khamenei said. He also mentioned the Arab Spring, but rather than praising the toppling of several Middle Eastern dictatorships and the hope for democracy, he defined the “Islamic awakening” as the rise of Islamists to power in many of these nations. Recent victories in “Palestine” were partially responsible for this, he added.

During his visit, Haniyeh also outlined the strategy of Hamas when it comes to the conflict with Israel as “liberating Palestine from the sea to the river, abiding by the resistance and affirming the Islamic character of the Palestinian cause."

—JointMedia News Service

France’s right-wing party still racist, critics say

The controversial leader of France’s extreme-right National Front party Jean-Marie Le Pen, 83—widely known for extreme anti-immigration views and Holocaust denial—stepped down last year, and his daughter Marine Le Pen, 43, now runs the party. The divorced mother of three is seemingly trying to raise the party out of its anti-Semitic and xenophobic past, but as the party’s popularity rises, critics still claim it is fundamentally racist.

French polls show that several million people might vote for Marine Le Pen in in this April’s elections. Le Pen has made every effort to revitalize her party by excluding members who display xenophobia, racism or anti-Semitism, according to reports.

However, some experts think the party hasn’t truly moved far enough away from the days of its former leader and that its rise could still be dangerous. Far-right expert Sylvain Crepon of the University of Paris believes the changes are merely a strategy designed to get the party to the top, saying: “She has understood that the National Front will never reach power alone. The only way to get access is via alliances.”

—JointMedia News Service

Assad spirits children to Europe

Click photo to download. Caption: Syrian President Bashar al-Assad with his wife, Asma. Credit: Rakkar.Syrian President Bashar Assad secretly sent his three children out of Syria to an unknown destination in Western Europe last week, a senior Egyptian official has told Israel Hayom.

On Thursday night, Feb. 2, a heavily protected convoy transported Assad’s children from Damascus to a secure military airport north of the city, and reportedly came under fire by rebels who assumed that the convoy was carrying someone important.

Israel Hayom learned from the Egyptian official that as well as Assad’s children – Hafez, 11, Zein, 9, and Karim, 7—the convoy contained Assad’s mother, Anisa Makhlouf al-Assad, and the children of some of his relatives, including those of his millionaire cousin Rami Makhlouf.

A private plane was designated for the operation and reportedly headed first for an Arab country – apparently Sudan or Yemen – and later flew to an unknown western European country.

JointMedia News Service

 

Posted on February 13, 2012 and filed under Briefs, World.