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Tuesday, November 27, 2012
Excerpts: Ethiopias last Jews to come to Israel. Egypts most divisive crisis. Gender equality for Arab women. US/Jordan armies cooperation November 27, 2012

Excerpts: Ethiopia's last Jews to come to Israel. Egypt's ' most divisive
crisis'. Gender equality for Arab women.US/Jordan armies cooperation
November 27, 2012

+++SOURCE: Syria Report 26 Nov.’12:”Russia Sends Loads of Cash to Syria –

SUBJECT: Russia sends loads of cash to Syria

QUOTE:”Confirmation of the continued support of the Russian authorities to
their Syrian counterparts.”

TEXT:Russia sent more than 240 tons of cash to Syria last summer, according
to a press report, in an additional confirmation of the continued support of
the Russian authorities to their Syrian counterparts.

+++SOURCE : Syria Report 26 Nov.’12:”Dam Capture Risks Straining Further
Electricity Supplies”

SUBJECT: Dam capture by opposition risks Syria electric supplies

TEXT :The reported capture of the Tishreen hydroelectric dam by Syrian
rebels is likely to strain further supplies of electricity across the

+++SUBJECT: Ethiopia's Last Jews Prepare for the ‘Promised Land”, Agence
France Presse

QUOTE:”the end of an ancient chapter of Ethiopian history”

FULL TEXT:It was one of the most daring operations in Ethiopian history:
Israel's 1991 airlift of Ethiopian Jews, when nearly 15,000 people were
crammed into a series of non-stop flights lasting 36 hours.

Clutching only a few belongings, in planes with seats removed to make more
space, they left a nation their ancestors had called home for two millennia
for a land they knew only from scripture.

More than two decades later, some 2,000 descendants and relatives of those
Israel had identified as original Jews are set to join them in the Holy

All that's left of Ethiopia's Jewish population, called the Falash Mura, or
"wanderers" in Ethiopia's Amharic language -- is expected to move to Israel
over the next 18 months, the end of an ancient chapter of Ethiopian history.

"It is God's promise to us to go to the Promised Land and fulfill his
prophecy... but that doesn't change the fact that I am Ethiopian," said
Gasho Abenet, 25.

Ethiopia's remaining Falash Mura live in Gondar in the north of the country,
supported by the Jerusalem-based organisation The Jewish Agency for Israel,
where many have waited for years to complete bureaucratic hurdles and win
approval to move.

Many say they feel frozen in limbo, not quite at home in Ethiopia, eager to
become Israeli, and suffering from a long separation from family members who
have already left.

"Once... you're in this halfway status of being internal refugees, you're
certainly better off in Israel than being internal refugees in Ethiopia,"
said Steven Kaplan, professor of religion and African studies at Jerusalem's
Hebrew University.

Many Jews in Ethiopia -- a small minority in a country where officially 62
percent are Christian and 34 percent are Muslim -- say they have been
misunderstood and even discriminated against.

Housing rents are arbitrarily hiked, some say, and many report name-calling
from those who do not understand or accept Judaism.

"It is difficult to live here in Ethiopia as an Israelite because we get
insulted," 22-year-old Amhare Fantahun said.

For Gasho, it means never feeling fully at home in the land of his birth.

"The life that we are living here is a nightmare, we can never settle," he
said, donning a black and white skullcap and a Star of David pin.

-- Dictator tried to trade Jews for weapons --

Despite their feeling of apparent transience, the history of Judaism in
Ethiopia dates back about 2,000 years.

The precise roots are disputed: some say Ethiopia's ancient Jews -- called
Beta Israel, or "House of Israel" -- are descendants of Jewish nomads who
traveled first to Egypt, then on to Ethiopia.

Others say they are direct descendants of the Queen of Sheba and King

The Falash Mura, descendants of the Beta Israeli -- many of whom were forced
to convert to Christianity in the 18th and 19th centuries -- have observed a
unique interpretation of Judaism for generations.

Practices include separating menstruating women from men and burying their
dead in Christian cemeteries. They must learn Rabbinic law and Hebrew before
moving to Israel.

In skullcaps and draped in prayer scarves, they gather every week in
Gondar's makeshift synagogue, a corrugated iron shed painted the blue and
white of Israel's flag, chanting verses from the Torah in Ethiopia's Amharic

The push to transport Ethiopia's Jews to Israel began in the 1980s, under
Ethiopia's brutal Communist dictator Mengistu Hailemariam, who used
Ethiopia's Jews as pawns and tried to trade them for weapons from Israel.

Many left Ethiopia illegally, travelling by foot to Sudan, where 20,000
people were eventually flown to Israel in Operation Moses in 1985, the
precursor to the 1991 airlift from the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa.

The airlift, known as Operation Solomon, came as Mengistu lost his grip on

There are about 130,000 Jews of Ethiopian descent in Israel today. By March
2014, the immigration of Ethiopia's Jews to Israel is expected to finish,
closing an ancient chapter of Ethiopia's history.

Under Ethiopia's Emperor Haile Selassie, departure for Israel was blocked as
he said the country would lose a key cornerstone of its heritage.

"Haile Selassie said, 'If we did that we would lose one of the key elements
in the Ethiopian tapestry. They represent a tradition that we all think
we're descended from,'" said Stephen Spector, author of a book about the

But for Israeli ambassador to Ethiopia Belyanesh Zevadia -- who was born in
Ethiopia and lived in Israel for 28 years -- the end of the returns to
Israel merely marks a new chapter in relations between the two countries.

"Maybe (we are) losing the culture, the Jewish culture," she said. "But
there are so many of them coming back and investing here... so we are
building the bridge between the two countries."

Gasho said the heritage lives on in other ways too, even though most of the
Falash Mura have left the country.

"We Jewish who are living here in Ethiopia, we taught our wisdom and
knowledge," he said. "Our culture is well understood throughout the
community... learning, metallurgy, handcraftsmanship, it is all passed on,"
Gasho added.

At Addis Ababa's transit center, where the Falash Mura gather before
boarding a flight to Israel, new shoes and clothes are passed around as
children play table tennis and table football under the beating afternoon

Despite not knowing what to expect when they reach Israel, there is a sense
of happiness from those about to leave Ethiopia for good.

"I am going to miss Ethiopia, of course, but this is life, so I have to go
to Israel, and that is the path decided for me," said Malefeya Zelelu, 84,
who waited in Gondar for 14 years before being approved to leave.

"I am now going to be an Israelite," he added, smiling widely.

+++Source: Naharnet (Lebanon) 27 Nov.’12:”Clashes Near Tahir Square as Morsi
Faces Nationwide Protests”, Agence France Presse
SUBJECT: Egypt’s ‘ most divisive crisis’

QUOTE:”Egypt’s President Mohammed Morsi faced nationwide protests Tuesday
[27 Nov.]… in the most divisive protests since he took power in June”

FULL TEXT: Egypt's President Mohamed Morsi faced nationwide protests
Tuesday[27 Nov.] after digging in his heels over a controversial decree
granting him sweeping powers, in the most divisive crisis since he took
power in June.

Thousands of lawyers left their syndicate chanting, "The people want the
downfall of the regime," -- the signature chant of the protests that toppled
Hosni Mubarak last year-- as they made their way to Cairo's iconic Tahrir

Several other marches were preparing to set off from around the capital to
join thousands of protesters already in the square to denounce Morsi's

In the Mediterranean city of Alexandria, several hundred gathered in Qaitbay
square, with two large marches expected to join them later.

"Down with the rule of the Supreme Guide," they chanted, in reference to the
head of the powerful Muslim Brotherhood, on whose ticket Morsi ran for

A rival rally in Cairo by the Muslim Brotherhood in support of the president
was called off to "avoid potential unrest" but that has done little to abate
the division among supporters and foes of Morsi.

"The Muslim Brotherhood stole the revolution" read one banner in Tahrir.
Another said the president was "pushing the people to civil disobedience."

"The Muslim Brotherhood are liars, read another.

Sporadic clashes between police and protesting youths continued into the
afternoon near Cairo's Tahrir Square.

"We will stay in Tahrir until Morsi cancels his declaration," protester
Ahmed Fahmy, 34, told Agence France Presse.

The planned demonstrations come a day after Morsi met with the country's top
judges in a bid to defuse the crisis over the decree, that has sparked
deadly clashes and prompted judges and journalists to call for strike.

The protesters are angry at the decree that Morsi announced last Thursday[23
Nov.] allowing him to "issue any decision or law that is final and not
subject to appeal", which effectively placed him beyond judicial oversight.

The decree put him on a collision course with the judiciary and consolidated
the long-divided opposition which accuses him of taking on dictatorial
powers and raise fears that the Islamists will be further ensconced in

After a meeting on Monday[26 Nov.] with top judges aimed at defusing the
dispute, Morsi stuck by his controversial decree.

There is "no change to the constitutional declaration," presidential
spokesman Yasser Ali told reporters at the end of the meeting.

But he added that Morsi sought to clarify that any irrevocable decisions
apply only to issues related "to his sovereign powers" and stressed the
temporary nature of the decree.

In a statement, the head of the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) -- the
political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood-- said the meeting between Morsi and
the judges had been "fruitful."

But judges at the meeting said the crisis was not over.

"The meeting failed," Judge Abdel Rahman Bahlul, who attended the talks,
told the independent daily Al-Masry Al-Youm.

"We cannot say this is the end of the crisis between the judiciary and the
presidency," another judge who attended the talks, Judge Ahmed Abdel Rahman,
told the paper.

A judicial source told AFP that even if immunity were limited to sovereign
powers, "which appears to be a compromise, there are still concerns that the
text itself remains unchanged."

Morsi's decree has led to charges that he is taking on dictatorial powers.

Some courts have suspended work in protest, and journalists have decided in
principle to strike.

On Monday[26 Nov.], hundreds of mourners turned out for the burial of a
member of the president's party who was killed in violence outside its
offices in the Nile Delta town of Damanhour a day earlier.

Angry demonstrators have also torched offices belonging to the Muslim
Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party

+++SOURCE: Jordan Times 27 Nov.’12:”Gender equality a key issue in Arab
Spring aftermath”, by Lailla Azzeh

SUBJECT: Gender equality for Arab women

QUOTE :”the most debatable outcome of this period[Arab Spring] is the role
of women in influencing change”

FULL TEXT:AMMAN — Transitions taking place in the region are igniting debate
on the need for Arab women to seize the opportunity to push for their rights
and ensure their engagement in the decision-making process, researchers said
on Monday[26Nov.].

In light of fears that the Arab Spring is “leaving women out in the cold and
failing to make them reap its gains”, platforms to debate gender equality
are more important than ever, they added in a seminar titled “Women Making

“This seminar takes place at a critical time in the history of the Arab
region, with different countries forging ahead in their quest for political
reform, advancing democracy and expanding opportunities,” HRH Princess Basma
said during the opening ceremony.

She added that although the impact of the Arab Spring will “remain a topic
of research and discussion for a long time to come”, the most debatable
outcome of this period is the role of women in influencing change.

“We must ask ourselves to what extent the role of women has been a catalyst,
and furthermore, to what extent gender issues are being sustained as a key
component for regional change and reform,” the princess said.

In more “mature” democracies, the domain of gender has been one of the most
successful outcomes of activists working closely with academicians and
researchers, she added.

Princess Basma stressed that the combined role of research and activism was
critical, and even though somewhat slow to get off the ground, feminist
research opened up the field in ways that brought new issues and arguments
to the table.

“For while we preserve our own sense of identity and worth, our values and
our autonomy, as Arab women we must ensure that no back tracking occurs to
impair our hard-won gains, so that in practice the rights and needs of our
region’s women constitute a serious part of the reform process for
activists, researchers and policy makers alike,” the princess noted.

Organised by the University of Jordan’s (UJ) Centre for Women’s Studies in
cooperation with the Nordic-Arab Network of Research on Women’s Empowerment,
Gender and Politics and Danish organisation Kvinfo, the two-day event
provides an opportunity for several Arab and foreign countries to examine
the situation of women and means to eliminate the gender gap.

The Nordic network seeks to provide young Arab and Nordic scholars in the
field of gender and politics with the opportunity to establish
intra-regional and cross-regional contacts with other PhD students,
according to its website.

Ghaidaa Al Katebi, director of the UJ women’s studies centre, said women’s
political empowerment is often a necessary step to institutionalise gender
equality and improve women’s representation in national parliaments and in
political parties.

Highlighting the significant role media plays in realising women’s rights,
she noted that “new media technologies are opening the gates for women and
creating a public space for them where they can interact and run dialogues”.

Drude Dahlerup, a professor from Stockholm University, said the new
discourse in the Arab world now should not leave behind the issue of
inclusion of women for the full functioning of democracy.

Participants from Jordan, Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, the UAE,
Palestine, Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Turkey are discussing issues related
to new approaches to gender equality, advancing women’s political and
economic security and rights and women and media at the seminar

+++SOURCE: Jordan Times 27 Nov.’12:”Jordan, US discuss military cooperation,
SUBJECT: US/Jordan armies cooperation
QUOTE :”discussions covered cooperation between the two counties armies”
FULL TEXT:AMMAN — Chairman of the Joint Chiefs-of-Staff Gen. Mashal Al Zaben
on Monday[26 Nov.] met with Vice Admiral John Miller, commander of the US
Naval Forces Central Command, and an accompanying delegation.

During the meeting, attended by HRH Prince Feisal, discussions covered
cooperation between the two countries’ armies

Sue Lerner - Associate, IMRA

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