Guatemalan town uses Nazi-inspired tactics to expel Jews

Guatemalan town uses Nazi-inspired tactics to expel Jews

Over 30 Jews being evicted from San Juan La Laguna at local residents' request. 'Their customs aren't like ours,' mayor says.
Peter Herriman
Published: 05.30.14, 09:13 / Israel Jewish Scene
The mayor of a Guatemalan town has made a "Jew registry," and ordered two Jewish families to leave. "Their customs aren't like ours," he insists.

The incident occurs on the heels of an Anti-Defamation League (ADL) poll revealing that anti-Semitism is a worldwide phenomenon.

Even though a focus on anti-Semitism has started in Europe and in the Middle East, at least one group of Jews in Guatemala was brave enough to speak of their own plight in the Central American press.

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Misael Santos, a convert to Judaism from San Juan La Laguna, told Prensa Libre that his family first moved to the area because they "wanted a clean, quiet, peaceful and friendly place for our children to grow into adults."

Unfortunately, that was not the case.

Trouble really began after Santos began a synagogue, drawing Israelis and Jewish tourists alike to the Guatemalan heartland. This Jewish increase has caused the townspeople of San Juan La Laguna to feel uneasy by the difference of another group of people with different beliefs from their own.

They've since started a petition for the small Jewish community to be evicted.

The Nazi tactics that were employed on the small Jewish community occurred when the mayor ordered "Jewish registry" to be drawn up listing the town's Jewish residents. The move was apparently to keep note of tourism in the small town, but the Jewish community became wary and it began a turn from incitement to anti-Semitic violence in a matter of weeks.

Santos states that "They uploaded photos of (Adolf) Hitler to a website about the Jews in town, saying they will put us in cremation ovens," he said. "Fifteen days ago, a group of teenagers who has read the website came up to us and began throwing stones at us."

A few days later, several children began stoning a group of women in the Jewish community, shouting "You killed Jesus!" and then one of them threw an amateur explosive device.

Santos stated, "If I go to America, I must adopt the ways of the gringo." The small Jewish community of San Juan La Laguna is not causing any problems for anyone and is just expressing their beliefs that are not hindering the lives of others.

However, the increase of a Jewish population has made the community uneasy and brought around a Nazi-like expulsion idea of the small Jewish population.

Reprinted with permission from Shalom Life .

ISIS success in Iraq threatens to redraw borders


ISIS success in Iraq threatens to redraw borders

Middle East due to be reshaped politically and geographically by ISIS advancements in Iraq and Syria as Iran mulls military involvement.


It could also redesign Middle Eastern national boundaries set nearly a century ago after the fall of the Ottoman empire, and lead to a forging of new regional alliances.

As well-armed forces of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) raised their black flags over Mosul this week, routing an Iraqi army that fled rather than fight, the future of Iraq as a unitary state hung in the balance.

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As they pressed south towards Baghdad, the rest of the region, the United States and other powers woke up to the prospect that this Jihadi comeback could establish a dangerous base in the heart of the Middle East - an Afghanistan on the Mediterranean.

"What we are witnessing is the fragmentation of power. The government of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki will never be able to centralize power in the same way he has," says Fawaz Gerges, a Middle East expert at the London School of Economics.

ISIS on the road to Tikrit, just north of Baghdad (Photo: AFP)
ISIS on the road to Tikrit, just north of Baghdad (Photo: AFP)

"We are seeing a redrawing of boundaries for sure," he said.

As the conflict escalated, Iraq's most senior Shiite cleric on Friday urged his followers to take up arms to defend themselves against the Sunni revolt. A rare message from Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the highest religious authority for Shiites in Iraq, said people should unite to fight back against the insurgency by ISIS fighters and former Saddam loyalists.

Sistanis's intervention followed the failure of the government of Nuri al-Maliki, the Shiite prime minister re-elected in April, to convene a quorum in parliament to grant him emergency powers. Sunni and Kurdish lawmakers had stayed away.

A stunned region

The peshmerga forces of the Kurdish region of northern Iraq meanwhile seized Kirkuk, the oil-rich region bordering their self-governing territory, stepping into a security vacuum to claim a prize they have always regarded as their own.

The ease with which ISIS, a Sunni Jihadi movement that has fed on the civil war in Syria and staked out the ungoverned space between eastern Syria and western Iraq, swept into Iraqi cities has stunned a region seemingly inured to shock.

The insurgents, led by Iraqis who broke with al-Qaeda, are pressing south to Baghdad.

Some experts say they may be over-reaching. But while ISIS' predecessors were defeated in 2007-08 by Sunni tribal militias empowered by US forces, ISIS has exploited Sunni anger at Maliki's sectarianism and inherited networks from Saddam Hussein's army.

"ISIS has been able to embed itself with a disaffected and alienated Sunni community", says Gerges.

"In fact, the most important development about ISIS in the last year is its ability to recruit former officers and soldiers of the dissolved Iraqi army. If you observe how ISIS has been waging war you see a skilled mini army, confident, that has command and control, is motivated and using war tactics."

The ISIS advance has been joined by former Baathist officers who were loyal to Saddam as well as disaffected armed groups and tribes who want to topple Maliki. So far the towns and cities that have fallen to the militants have been Sunni.

"The Sunnis of Iraq are willing to go to bed with the devil to defeat Maliki, this is where the danger lies," Gerges said.

Redrawing the borders

The million-strong Iraqi army, by contrast, trained by the United States at a cost of more than $20bn, is hobbled by low morale and corruption that impedes its supply lines.

Its effectiveness is hurt by a perception among Sunnis that it pursues the hostile interests of the Shiites, a majority in Iraq, raised to power by the US led invasion of 2003.

The Kurdish capture of Kirkuk overturns a fragile balance of power that has held Iraq together since Saddam's fall.

Iraq's Kurds have done well since 2003, running their own affairs while being given a fixed percentage of the country's overall oil revenue. But with full control of Kirkuk - and the vast oil deposits beneath it - they could earn more on their own, eliminating the incentive to remain part of a failing Iraq.

US President Barack Obama threatened military strikes against ISIS, highlighting the gravity of the group's threat to redraw borders in a region already wracked by war.

Hayder al-Khoei, Associate Fellow at Chatham House, said the jihadi onslaught leaves Washington in an awkward position.

"With US-made military vehicles and weapons being paraded by jihadists in Mosul, policy-makers will be questioning the effectiveness of providing Baghdad with even more military hardware that may end up in the hands of the very people they want to defeat," he said.

Ambivilant to hostile

Reactions inside the region are ambivalent to hostile.

Deep down Saudi Arabia and its Sunni allies, which have never reconciled themselves to the loss of Sunni-ruled Iraq to the Shiites, detest Maliki for his alliance with non-Arab Shiite Iran. They would like to see Maliki brought down but did not want al-Qaeda affiliates to be the ones doing it.

They believe Iran, backed by its allies, wants to build a Shiite crescent from Iraq through Syria to Lebanon.

"I can imagine a Saudi official saying 'the wrong people are doing the right thing'," said Jamal Khashoggi, head of a TV news station owned by Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal.

On the other hand, Iran, which has strong leverage in Iraq, is so alarmed by the ISIS advances that it may be ready to cooperate with Washington in helping Baghdad fight back.

A senior Iranian official told Reuters the idea is being discussed among the Islamic Republic's leadership. For now, officials say, Iran will send its neighbour advisers and weaponry, although probably not troops, to help Maliki.

Turkey, which has turned a blind eye to Jihadis crossing its border to fight Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, is not ready to intervene militarily because it fears its own sectarian demons and will focus on securing its borders, experts say.

The Kurds, crucial players, will likely resist Baghdad's calls to be drawn in by sending troops to recapture Mosul and other towns. They will instead consolidate their presence in Kirkuk and along their borders, Kurdish officials said.

Iran weighing in

Iraq watchers say ISIS, estimated to have a few thousand fighters inside Iraq, won't be able to advance into Baghdad, a capital of 6 million where Maliki has his special forces deployed, backed by Iranian-trained militias.

"I don't think they will run as far as Baghdad. They haven't got the numbers, they overreached themselves...It is more about the weakness of the Iraqi state than it is about the state of ISIS," said Toby Dodge, Director of the Middle East Centre at the London School of Economics.

Just as there is little chance of ISIS taking over the Shiite-dominated capital, the Iraqi army is unlikely to dislodge ISIS from Mosul or regain full control of the north of the country, even with Shiite militia volunteers and likely Iranian support.

With the rising Sunni insurgency, Iran may have to weigh in to salvage its ally and Tehran's influence in Iraq as it did in neighbouring Syria.

Diplomatic sources said Iran already has high-ranking commanders, including two close aides of Qassem Suleimani, the commander of the Revolutionary Guards elite Quds force, regularly holding meetings with Maliki.

Malikis' mobilisation of Shiite militias, endorsed by the highest religious authority, has the potential to trigger all-out sectarian strife, analysts say.

And there are concerns that Iraq might disintegrate into sectarian and tribal conflict, shattering into Shi'ite, Sunni and Kurdish entities.

"Maliki is playing with fire by trying to unleash Shi'ite militias, this is a recipe for disaster. That's exactly what ISIS wants - to trigger all-out sectarian war," Gerges said.

"Iraq has never healed, it is a mutilated country. The crisis is reaching a tipping point whereby Iraq will splinter into 3 or 4 states or reconcile. To reconcile you need a new leader, a new mindset and you don't have it there.",7340,L-4530063,00.html

Defense Experts Warn Israel of Possible ISIS Threat

Defense Experts Warn Israel of Possible ISIS Threat

Expert: battle between Islamist, Iraqi forces can snowball to cause terrorism closer to home - and IDF should prepare itself in the interim.
By Tova Dvorin First Publish: 6/13/2014, 12:05 PM

As the battle rages between Islamists from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) and Iraqi forces, the US, EU, and UN have begun to take notice - and Middle Eastern leaders are expressing concern for their safety.
But how far can the battle reach?
On Friday, former Israeli intelligence expert Jacques Neriah suggested in a CNN interview that Israel must prepare itself for the eventuality that the battle could reach the shores of Tel Aviv - despite the fact that the fighting rages more than 915 kilometers (595 miles) away.

According to Neriah, the current crisis in the Middle East has made Israel relatively quiet, and could buy the IDF time to prepare.
"Everyone is busy killing one another in the Arab world - it gives Israel a 'time out' to reorganize and to prepare itself for the long run," Neriah stated.
"If Iraq falls in the hands of ISIS, then we will have a terrorist state - where terrorists will be trained, will be equipped, will be financed by an [entire] state and not by an organization which is [in] hiding."
Analysts have noted that the real threat to Israel's security would not be a direct assault from ISIS, which would have to overcome the forces of Syrian President Bashar Assad in Syria, re-mobilize, and then launch an attack from Israel's northern neighbor to succeed.
The real threat from the ISIS stems from its reputation, as its success could spur increased terror activity from ISIS-affiliated groups in Gaza and the Sinai desert.
The ISIS has already controlled the Iraqi city of Fallujah for five months, and has also led one of the strongest rebel movements fighting Syrian President Bashar Assad in Syria.
But this week's offensive has seen the ISIS claim a stunning number of victories in a lighting-fast takeover of the flashpoint region.
So far, the Islamists have made a systemic advance from northern Iraq southward.
On Tuesday, ISIS leaders seized Mosul; just 48 hours later, Tikrit - birthplace of former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein - fell to the terrorists.
Advancing toward Baghdad, large-scale clashes have erupted in Samarra; on the eastern front, Kurdish forces took Kirkuk to fend off the Islamist advance on Thursday, and the town of Jawlala fell to ISIS on Friday.;postID=3961305255679601695