TJC Jewish News Week in Review: August 31, 2012

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11-year-old Pakistani Girl Faces Possible Death Sentence for Blasphemy

While spirituality is generally a good thing, when belief in God turns into religious fanaticism, it creates nothing but chaos and gives religion a bad name. This is what is happening right now in with a young girl who is being imprisoned and faces a possible death sentence for burning pages out of the Koran.

The girl in question is 11-year-old Rimsha Masih, and there are reports that she has Down’s syndrome. The incident occurred August 16th when a neighbor reported that he saw Rimsha set a page of the on fire and placed the burnt remains in a plastic bag. The is an Arabic learning guide used by children.

Muslim fundamentalists dispute the reports that Rimsha is only 11 and suffers from downs syndrome. Some claim that she is 16, mentally sound and was completely aware of what she was doing when she lighted up the Noorani Qaida.

After the news spread, Rimsha and her mother was taken into custody where they currently sit in a prison cell. However, her arrest was not enough for some of the locals in her city. They wanted to dish out justice themselves. Reports have already spread of Christians, a minority in the country, being mobbed and having their homes vandalized. It is also believed that as many as 600 Christians were forced to flee their homes near Islamabad for fear of being targeted.

News of Rimsha’s arrest has spurred human rights activists in the country and all over the world to spring to action. They are challenging Pakistan’s anti-blasphemy law, which states that anyone who desecrates the Koran or speaks ill of the Prophet Mohammed is a crime punishable by imprisonment and even death. The law does very little to protect Christians and other religious minorities. They are left to fend for themselves from vigilantes and violent extremists.

Iranian President Ahmadinejad Calls Israel “An Insult to Humanity”

has made it blatantly clear that it is seriously contemplating a against ’s facilities. If Iran wants to avoid the possibility of a military showdown, then it is certainly not helping matters when the country’s president, Mahmoud , openly called Israel’s presence as an “insult to humanity.”

Ahmadinejad spoke in front of a large crowd
at Tehran University following a series of pro-Palestinian marches that swept through the nation.

Israel has long considered Iran a threat due to its nuclear facilities and support for organizations with an anti-Israel agenda. Ahmadinejad, along with the country’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, have made repeated references about the need to bring about Israel’s destruction.

While Israel stated that it hopes for the issue to be resolved through diplomacy, it has also made it clear that it will not hesitate to launch a military assault if Iran does not abandon its nuclear uranium program, which Iran continuously insists is for peaceful purposes. Iran has threatened retaliation if Israel were to proceed with plans of a military strike and has also pledged to do the same to the U.S. if it allies itself with Israel.

In his speech, Ahmadinejad also called Israel “corrupt” and “anti-human.” He also added that Israel needs to be confronted in order to protect “the dignity of all human beings.” During his speech, demonstrators burned the Israel and American flag and chanted “death to Israel and the U.S.”

The White House has publicly condemned Ahmadinejad’s speech and also blasted him for defending Syrian president, Bashar Assad, despite the government’s repeated violation of human rights and the brutal assault on its own people, which claimed over 20,00 lives since March of last year.

Ahmadinejad’s words are really nothing new. In 2005, he denied the events of the Holocaust and called it a myth. He also vowed for Israel to be “wiped off the map”.

Email from Asma al-Assad

Just got this email. I am sure it real… But its hopefully the virtual writing on the wall…The end is near?

Greetings,

I will like to formally introduce myself, I am Mrs. , First Lady of which is the wife of President Bashar al Assad.

I have a Profitable business transaction for you which involves transfer of funds,Please if interested do contact me via email for more details on this transaction but if this does not suit your business ethics, kindly delete this e-mail as I will gladly appreciate.

I await your swift response, to my email.

Regards
Mrs. Asma al-Assad

Turkish Jet Shot Down by Syria

A tense situation is unfolding between and after the latter shot down a fighter jet belonging to the former. According to Turkish officials, one of their aircrafts was shot down while in international space. Authorities are now convening with allies to decide what kind of measures should be taken in response. Syria claims that the jet crossed over to its airspace, which is a violation of its sovereignty.

Members of NATO will be gathering for a conference in Brussels to discuss the issue. No military action is expected at this point.

Jihad Makdissi, Syria’s Foreign Ministry Spokesman, said that Syria was merely acting out of self-defense and dismissed claims that the aircraft was in international space. It was also reported in the Syrian media that the jet may have been on an espionage mission and flew over the area to spy on the country’s radar system located in Latakia.

Turkey has said that no actions will be taken until it has discussed the matter with NATO, but has warned that the incident will not go unpunished. The matter may escalate even further after a claim that a second plane was fired at while on the search for wreckage of the downed jet.

Taner Yildiz, Turkey’s Energy Minister, said that a possible response may be to cut off Syria’s electricity supplies, since Turkey currently supplies Syria with about 10 percent of its power.

Turkey has also leaked news that several high ranking military members from Syria have defected due to souring relations between the two nations. Syria, in the meantime, has vowed that it will not stand idly by if NATO responds in an aggressive nature.

From the start of the Syrian crisis, Turkey has taken a firm stance against Syria’s government and has provided a refuge for defectors. About 33,000 Syrians have crossed over to Turkey for shelter.

Prime Minister Netanyahu Praises Journalists who Support Military Action Against Iran

A mall in Jerusalem was crowded with shoppers over the weekend. However, the patrons were not there to shop for the latest brand of clothes. They were there to purchase gas masks and other survival gear as they embrace for a possible chemical strike by .

has publicly announced that a against Iran’s nuclear facilities is imminent. There are talks that Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak are contemplating a strike within the next six months and possibly before the U.S. presidential election in November.

In light of the announcements, media sources have critically slammed the Prime Minister for being overly hawkish. Opinion pieces and Media analysts from , U.S., and Europe have openly expressed their dismay at Netanyahu’s apparent eagerness to resort to military force. His critics have harshly condemned him as a war monger.

However, Netanyahu has openly praised two journalists who came to his defense. The journalists were Professor Eyal Winter of Israel and Colbert King of the U.S. who writes for Washington Post. Both writers received a personal phone call from the Prime Minister who thanked them for their support in Israel’s right to defend itself against a nation that has fervently vowed to wipe Israel off the map. Netanyahu has also invited Winter to his office and has plans of making the same arrangement for King in September.

Both the U.S. and Europe have urged the Prime Minister to exercise a little more patience to give negotiations and diplomacy a chance. Netanyahu, however, balks at the idea of further talks and says that doing so will only give Iran more time to build up its nukes. Netanyahu has also announced Avraham Dichter as the new . Dichter could play a pivotal role in deciding whether Israel proceeds with its plans of a military strike.

Another Malware Threat Discovered in the Middle East

’s nuclear ambitions have been marred by the intrusion of viruses that have sabotaged its . So far, two major cyber-attacks have been reported and have been given the name Stuxnet and Flame. While the U.S. and have been accused of being the masterminds behind the assault, both nations have denied involvement.

The cyber-attack continues on with the emergence of a new virus. This one is being dubbed the “Gauss” and appears to be created for the purpose of hacking into banking institutions in the Middle East. This virus is so complex and advanced that it is believed that it could only be carried out by a nation and not by a lone hacker or small organization. Once again, the U.S. and Israel are being blamed for the attack though both countries are claiming innocence.

So far, has mainly targeted banking institutions in Lebanon though attacks have also been verified in 25 other countries. However, it is believed the virus is more directed for the purpose of monitoring transaction information rather than stealing money. It is also capable of stealing passwords and monitoring audio and keystrokes. was discovered in June though the virus is believed to have been active since last September. About 2,500 accounts have been reportedly hacked and monitored by though it is believed the actual number of infected accounts could be in the tens of thousands.

In the past few months, The Middle East has come under the assault of extremely sophisticated . Stuxnet was the first to be discovered and was responsible for hampering the progress of Iran’s nuclear facilities. This was followed by Flame and Duqu, which targeted various computer systems throughout various regions in the Middle East. It is believed all these viruses are linked and originated from the same creator.