Thursday, October 02, 2014

Turkey to host first diplomatic mission for "ISIS”

From El- Balad, 1 Oct 2014, by Basant Ahmed:

The so-called Islamic State in Iraq and Syria “ISIS” intends to inaugurate its first diplomatic mission in Istanbul in order to provide consular services for all who wish to join the extremist group in Iraq...

Abu-Omar Al-Tunisi, the ISIS de facto head of foreign relations issued a statement, saying that the Islamic Caliphate is determined to launch its first diplomatic mission in a friendly and Muslim country.

CHP “Republican People’s Party”, a leading Turkish opposing party issued a communique condemning Turkish government decision to allow ISIS to open a legal diplomatic office in Çankaya – the central and elegant metropolitan district of the city of Istanbul...

Earlier, the Turkish Prime Minster Ahmet Davutoglu acknowledged that Turkish diplomats, kidnapped by ISIS militants when Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city was seized in early-June, were released in a prisoner exchange deal with ISIS.

The Turkish government spokesperson said on Sunday in a press conference that nearly 50 Islamist merciless detainees including a family of a prominent warlord were set free in a swap deal and in return, all Turkish hostages were released and reunited with their families. The government spokesman reiterated that he is not authorized to neither confirm nor reject reports about the probable opening of ISIS consulate in Istanbul.

The Turkish omnipotent president in an interview with government-run TRT news channel dismissed many reports alleging that his government is keen to establish a formal relation with ISIS, the hardline organization which controls vast swaths of northern and western Iraq and also neighboring Syrian provinces but in a same time, he blatantly advocated the prison exchange deal with the infamous ultra-Islamist militants....

Nuclear-armed Iran would pose a far bigger threat than Islamic State

From The Australian, October 02, 2014, by Colin Rubenstein, executive director of the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council:
US and Australian efforts against the Islamic State seem fully justified by any serious consideration of both countries’ ­national interests. However, a significant concern is that the critical efforts to stop an Iranian bomb will be sidelined — or, worse still, Iran and its proxies will be empowered as a result.
THERE is no question that the Sunni radical group, the so-called Islamic State, is a serious threat — in terms of the global spread of ­Islamist extremism, in terms of promoting, planning, ­facilitating and inspiring international terrorism, and especially in terms of potentially destabilising many Middle Eastern states, including not only Iraq and Syria but also Jordan, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states.
Yet while the ability of this well-funded and armed terrorist entity to capture territory pro­tected by weak, ill-trained or hapless defenders is dangerous, most military analysts believe it would not be a match for organised and motivated regional armies.

By contrast, the Gulf region has a well-organised, well-resourced radical Islamist regime with hegemonic ambitions that commands a formidable army, has abundant funds, equips several proxy armies and terror groups abroad, and reportedly is also ­occupying and oppressing swaths of Iraq.

Most disturbingly, it has reached the advanced stages of developing a nuclear weapon and an intercontinental ballistic missile delivery system.

That nation is the Islamic Republic of Iran, and the long-term threat it poses to regional stability, global energy supplies and global non-proliferation efforts remains more disconcerting than the dangers posed by the Islamic State.

US and Australian efforts against the Islamic State seem fully justified by any serious consideration of both countries’ ­national interests. However, a significant concern is that the critical efforts to stop an Iranian bomb will be sidelined — or, worse still, Iran and its proxies will be empowered as a result.

Recent reports that Iranian ­officials are privately offering to co-operate in the fight against the Islamic State in return for concessions on their country’s nuclear program, while rebuffed by the US, underline this fear.

Talks between the P5+1 group of powers (comprising the permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany) and Iran continue to be unproductive ahead of a November 25 deadline, the latest round having occurred on September 19.

There is reportedly little progress on the two key issues essential for any nuclear deal to be worth the paper it is printed on: 

  • greatly reducing the number of uranium-enriching centrifuges Tehran is permitted from its present stock of 20,000, and 
  • stopping construction of the Arak heavy-water nuclear reactor, which will produce easily weaponised plutonium.

Meanwhile, an International Atomic Energy Agency report early last month confirmed that Iran had failed to comply with a variety of transparency requirements imposed by last year’s interim nuclear agreement.

Further, Iran continues to fan the flames of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, providing long-range rockets and rocket-production know-how to terrorists in Gaza, and recently promising to send similar weapons to the West Bank.

With the Islamic State and Gaza dominating the headlines, and the US understandably focused on building an international coalition to fight the Islamic State, it would be disastrous if, as a result, the main game were neglected. Nothing would be worse for regional or Western interests than allowing Iran to develop a fully fledged nuclear-weapons capability — through signing off on an inadequate nuclear deal or by allowing Iran to continue its bomb-building efforts without significant consequences.

While US President Barack Obama ostensibly has ruled out partnering with Iran to fight the Islamic State — which would alienate most of his Arab allies at least as much as Israel — it is clear that some in the administration see the Islamic State challenge as an area of common interest with Iran that could be the basis for a rapprochement. Thus, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei recently claimed he had rejected US feelers, made via diplomats based in Iraq, to discuss co-operation or co-ordination against the Islamic State.

It’s not hard to understand the Obama administration’s probable rationale for these approaches; its main goal to date has been to withdraw US forces from the region and avoid direct conflict whenever possible.

Obama told The New Yorker in February that, to this end, he was seeking an “equilibrium … between Sunni, or predominantly Sunni, Gulf states and Iran, in which there’s competition, perhaps suspicion, but not an active or proxy warfare”.

This approach may also partly explain the administration’s largely passive position on Syria until now — effectively giving Iran and its Hezbollah proxy carte blanche to preserve the Assad ­regime, a key part of Iran’s regional axis.

Some in the US administration appear to be still nurturing hopes that, by partnering with Iran in areas of mutual interest — such as the fight against the Islamic State — and taking account of Iran’s regional interests, the US will earn goodwill in Tehran, draw it into a regional security structure and persuade Iran to agree to an ­acceptable nuclear deal.

Similarly, last weekend, British Prime Minister David Cameron met Iranian President Hasan Rowhani at the UN, the first such face-to-face meeting since 1979’s Iranian revolution. Co-operation against the Islamic State was clearly on the table, with Cameron mentioning it in his post-meeting comments.

This risks a dangerously shortsighted and naive approach.
The idea that the extremist Shia Islamist state of Iran — which has maintained a remarkably consistent policy for decades in terms of its state sponsorship of terror and other rogue behaviour — can be transformed into an ally or partner of the West may be superficially appealing but amounts to dangerous wishful thinking.

Yes, the Islamic State is certainly dangerous and must be “degraded and ultimately destroyed”, in Obama’s words. But nothing could damage long-term regional and wider global stability, and Australian and American interests in the region, more than to allow the fight against the Islamic State to become the distraction that allows Tehran to develop ­nuclear weapons capabilities or extend its regional sphere of ­influence.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Abbas has ended the sham "peace process"

From Times of Israel, 28 Sept 2014, by Dan Margalit:

Mahmoud Abbas / AP

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has done what he always does. As usual, upon arriving at a crucial junction, he hesitates for a moment before making the wrong turn...

Addressing the U.N. General Assembly over the weekend, Abbas was expected to take a semi-appeasing tone, a peacemaker's tone, and he was expected to address the U.N. in English. Instead, he acted as if he were attending an election rally in Ramallah, speaking in Arabic and taking an aggressive tone, as if he were representing Hamas.

Abbas antagonized the entire Israeli political spectrum, accept for Meretz Chairwoman Zehava Gal-On, who expressed her understanding of the circumstances that drove Abbas to use an unusually abrasive tone.

The Palestinian [Arabs]' verbal belligerence is especially discordant in a time when the majority of the world, including many Arab nations, is banding together to fight the Islamic State group. 

In his speech, Abbas has effectively debunked the U.S.-sponsored peace process. His speech was extreme enough to vex even Washington, and the entire diplomatic world had a front row seat to listen to [his] lies.

Operation Protective Edge was an Israeli attempt at "genocide"? If anything, Abbas was almost as disappointed by the caution Israel exercised during the military campaign as Habayit Hayehudi Chairman Naftali Bennett. Abbas further complained about Israel's arrest of Hamas operatives in Judea and Samaria over the murder of three Israeli teens -- but everyone knows how relieved he actually was, as some of those operatives were part of a Hamas plot to stage a coup in the West Bank.

...Abbas traditionally plays the role of a wolf in sheep's clothing. In 2000, he incited Yasser Arafat to bolt from Camp David the moment then-Prime Minister Ehud Barak expressed willingness to discuss the future of Jerusalem; and years later he bolted back to Ramallah the moment former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert presented him with an appeasing peace proposal, the likes of which Israel had never devised before.

There is no doubt that at this point, Abbas has abandoned the path of negotiations. He strives to impose some sort of solution on Israel, and he fails to understand that the tumultuous developments in the Arab world, including the conflict between Ramallah and the Gaza Strip, have plunged the Palestinian stock to a new low. 

...Netanyahu is scheduled to address the U.N. General Assembly on Monday and respond to Abbas' speech....

THIS is Apartheid: PA University Ejects pro-Arab Journalist for Being Jewish

From Arutz Sheva, 28 Sept 2014, by Nir Har-Zahav and Tova Dvorin:

A Haaretz reporter was ejected from a pro-Palestinian [Arabs] conference at Birzeit University on Saturday, reporter Amira Hass said - simply for being an Israeli Jew. 

[Veteran anti-Zionist, Haaretz  reporter Amira] Hass attempted to attend the "Alternatives to Neo-Liberal Development in the Occupied Palestinian Territories – Critical Perspectives" conference at the university, which is located near Ramallah where she lives.

But she was ejected from the hall by the organizers...after students at the admission desk noted she worked for the Israeli publication and alerted security authorities to intervene.

Birzeit University has had a policy of barring Israeli Jews from the campus for over 20 years, administrators said.... 

Her colleagues and professors told her that she was being ejected on the one hand "for her own protection" and also to give the students "a safe space" free of Jews.

...Hass - who is well-known in Arab and leftist circles for her aggressive anti-Zionism, and provoked outrage last year for justifying rock-throwing attacks against Jews - angrily noted that she was "not told" about the policy and that "...[Israeli Arabs] are not subject to the same policy." 

...The incident surfaces amid growing tension between parts of the Israeli Left and the Palestinian Authority. 

Several left-wing parties, including Labor and Justice Minister Tzipi Livni's HaTnua party, openly supported Israel's self-defense operation in Gaza, Operation Protective Edge. 

More recently, Palestinian Authority (PA) Chairman Mahmoud Abbas's anti-Israel tirade at the UN General Assembly offended even Meretz Chairman Zehava Gal-On, who branded the remarks as "serious and grave."

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Tomorrow the Israel Air Force may attack Tehran

From Times of Israel, 15 Sept 2014:

IAF Commander Maj. Gen. Amir Eshel (photo credit: Yossi Zeliger/Flash90)
IAF Commander Maj. Gen. Amir Eshel (photo credit: Yossi Zeliger/Flash90)

Israel’s air force commander gave an apparently unintended insight into his priorities and preoccupations, when he remarked during comments about the defense budget that Israel might need to send its attack planes to Tehran at very short notice. 

Speaking about the imperative for the government to allocate additional funding to the armed forces, Israel Air Force chief Major-General Amir Eshel declared that
“there’s no one in this room who’d be prepared to ride in a car as old as our planes. I’m telling you, no-one. Yesterday these planes were in Gaza, and tomorrow we may send them to Tehran.” 
The remarks were not delivered in the tone of a threat, but rather as a statement about a possible mission that would require up-to-date equipment.

Eshel’s comments, broadcast Sunday on the local Channel 2 News, came as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Finance Minister Yair Lapid sparred over the national budget, with Netanyahu earlier Sunday asserting that, in the wake of the summer’s 50-day Israel-Hamas conflict, “We need a significant increase of several billion in the defense budget.”....

Kobani - the Kurd / Sunni front

This week witnessed the second determined attempt by Islamic State forces to destroy the Kurdish enclave around Kobani (Ayn al-Arab) city in northern Syria. Kobani is one of three autonomous enclaves maintained by the Kurds in Syria.

As of now, it appears that after initial lightning advances, the progress of the jihadis has been halted; they have not moved forward in the last 24 hours. The arrival of Kurdish forces from across the Turkish border is the key element in freezing the advance.
Yet Islamic State has captured around 60 Kurdish villages in this latest assault, and its advanced positions remain perilously close – around 14.5 km. – from Kobani city. Around 100,000 people have fled Kobani for Turkey, from the enclave's total population of around 400,0000.

Islamic State employed tanks, artillery and Humvees in its assault, according to Kurdish sources. The Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) have no comparable ordnance. However, their fighters were assisted by Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) guerrillas who crossed in from Turkey, and appear to have played a vital role in halting the advance.
Whether the current situation will hold is not yet clear. But the commencement of US and allied bombing on Islamic State in Syria probably means the jihadi forces will have more pressing issues to attend to for the moment.

The assault on Kobani indicates that Islamic State is turning its attention back to Syria. The Kurdish enclave has long been a thorn in the side of the jihadis; the Kurdish-controlled area interrupts the jihadis' territorial contiguity, separating Tel Abyad from Jarabulus and making a large detour necessary from Islamic State's capital in Raqqa city to the important border town of Jarabulus.

For this reason, the jihadis have long sought to conquer the area. Abu Omar al-Shishani, the much feared Chechen Islamic State military commander, is reputed to have made the conquest of Kobani a personal mission. With the weapons systems captured in Mosul now fully integrated, and with further progress in Iraq impeded by the presence of US air power, it appears Islamic State is now making its most serious effort to achieve this goal.
The Kobani enclave has long been an isolated, beleaguered space. This reporter visited there this past May; at the time, Islamic State was trying to block the supply of electricity and water into the city. Skirmishes along the borders were a daily occurrence.
Particularly notable also were the very strict border arrangements kept in place by the Turkish authorities to the north – in stark contrast to the much more lax regime maintained facing the areas of Arab population further west.

As of now, a determined Kurdish mobilization appears to have stemmed the jihadi advance. Unless the picture radically changes again, Kobani looks set to remain a thorn in the side of Islamic State.

Perwer Mohammed, 28, an activist close to the YPG in Kobani, sounded worried but hopeful when speaking from the city on Monday: 
"They are now on the outskirts of Girê Sipî [Tel Abyad].
But they will have to pass through our flesh to get to Kobani, and they are no longer advancing from the east."
A variety of forces contributed to the mobilization; 1,500 PKK fighters arrived in Kobani city to reinforce the YPG there, according to Kurdish sources.

In addition, forces loyal to both the Kurdistan Regional Government of Massoud Barzani and to the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) are set to arrive in Kobani.

The PUK forces, according to the organization's website, are currently on the Iraq-Syria border, waiting to deploy.

The YPG itself, meanwhile, is trying to push forces through from Ras al-Ain to Tel Abyad on the eastern edge of the enclave. A concerted Kurdish military effort is under way.

Suspicions remain regarding possible collusion between Turkish authorities and Islamic State. The Kurds have long maintained that at least in its initial phase, Islamic State was the beneficiary of Turkish support. Evidence has emerged of Turkish forces permitting Islamic State fighters to cross back and forth across the border during early clashes with the YPG.
The subsequent picture remains shrouded in ambiguity, as Turkey officially denies any relationship with Islamic State. But the release of 49 Turkish hostages by the terror movement this week under unclear circumstances has once more cast a spotlight on the possible complex connection between the two.

If the situation in Kobani holds, this will offer proof of the limitations of Islamic State forces. In Iraq, their advance has been stopped by the coordination of US air power with Iraqi and Kurdish forces. In Kobani, as of now at least, the jihadis appear to have been stalled by determined resistance on the ground alone. Yet the last chapter remains to be written.

Should Kobani fall, large-scale massacres of the type which befell the Yazidi communities in the Mount Sinjar area in August would inevitably follow; this is likely to result in a massive new refugee problem. Moreover, an Islamic State victory would consolidate the borders of the jihadi entity considerably.

The clash between Islamic State and the Kurdish autonomous areas also has broader ramifications than merely tactical military significance – it shows the extent to which "Iraq" and "Syria" have become little more than names.

In Kobani, two successor entities to these states are clashing. The Kurds have organized three autonomous cantons stretching east to west from the Syria-Iraq border to close to the Mediterranean coast. The Sunni jihadis, for their part, have organized their own "state," going southeast to northwest.

Kobani is the point at which these two projects collide. Hence, the outcome of the current fight will indicate the relative strength of these two very different projects.
Yet the clash itself offers a broader lesson regarding the shape of things to come, in the ethnic/sectarian war now raging across what was once Iraq and Syria.

*Jonathan Spyer is a senior research fellow at the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and a fellow at the Middle East Forum.

There Really is an Aramean Nation

From Arutz Sheva, 27 September 2014, by Dr Mordwchai Kedar:

The Israeli Christians are part of the ancient Aramean people rather than Arabs

One of the last things Israel's Interior Minister Gideon Saar did before resigning from the Knesset was to recognize the Israeli Christians as members of the Aramean nation. The decision caused a media uproar, especially in the Arab sector, with most critics saying that there is no Aramaic nation and that the real reason for this step was an attempt to cause a split in the Arab population of Israel so as to "divide and conquer" and gain control of the Arab sector.

This calls for an investigation and an investigation into the veracity of an Aramean nation's existence must be conducted on two planes: the historic-lingual-religious one and the civilian one.

The Historic-Lingual-Religious Sphere
Middle Eastern history talks about an Aramean nation from the second half of the second millennium B.C.E., a Semitic people living in the Fertile Crescent of the western and northern Levant in an area that today includes the Land of Israel, northwest Jordan, Lebanon, north and west Syria, northern Iraq and lands along the Euphrates River. In the Bible and later Jewish sources there is mention of Aramean kingdoms, with geographic references: Aram Naharayim, Padan Aram, Aram Tzova, Aram Damascus and more.

The Aramaic language became the lingua franca in these areas, also spoken by other nations such as the Hebrews – even some of the books of the Tanach are written in that language.

During the first century B.C. E., the Assyrian people came onto the world stage, but their physical conquest of the area did not affect a change in language, and Aramaic continued to be the language prevalent in the Fertile Crescent for hundred of years. For example, the Babylonian Talmud that was formulated over the first five hundred years C.E., is replete with Aramaic, as is Jewish writing of the Gaonic period beginning in the ninth century. Jews, a defined religious and ethnic group, continued to use Aramaic as a language for study and prayer and still do.

Under Assyrian rule, there were clearly defined Aramean groups that preserved their lingual and religious heritage and tradition, a central fact in explaining the connection between Aramean people and Assyrians up to the present.

Greeks and Romans, who ruled the area from the fourth century B.C. E. until the fourth century C.E., did not bring about the disappearance of those Aramaic-speaking communities that embraced Christianity as a result of the Byzantine (Eastern Orthodox) takeover as the fourth century C.E. came to a close.

It is important to mention that Arabic originated in the Arabic peninsula, the southern part of the Middle East, whereas the historic languages of the Fertile Crescent are Aramaic, Assyrian, Persian and Hebrew.

The Muslim Arab tribes conquered the area in the seventh century, causing most of the population to convert to Islam and melt into Arab-Islamic culture. The Muslim religion and Arabic language became the norm in the region, replacing the original identity of those groups that Islamised into the Arab-Muslim groups, and thereby lost their unique characteristics.

In contrast, groups that remained loyal to their Christian religious tradition continued to be loyal to the Aramaic language that remained the liturgical language in their churches and was preserved in the written alphabet of their religious writings.

The Syriac-Aramean people are Eastern Orthodox Christians, but over the years they split into several denominations: the Marronite-Syriac, Greek Orthodox, Greek Catholic, Assyrian Catholic and the Assyrian Orthodox of Antioch.

The different denominations are the result of geographic distances and alliances with one of the three patriarchates that developed with time – Rome, Constantinople and Antioch. This variety is an indication of the long term presence of the Aramean peoples in the Fertile Crescent.

A unique language and religion preserved these groups – each one on its own – from being absorbed into the Muslim majority, mainly due to the prohibition of marrying out of their religion, similar to that of Druze, Allawites and Jews. That is how Aramaic communities, defined by ethnic, lingual and religious practice were preserved in the Fertile Crescent, as guarding over their culture led to their survival.

That is also why there is no reason not to recognize the existence of these Aramean groups, which have unique linguistic and religious definition as well as their own folklore.

In 1942 Dr. Edmond Mayer wrote a paper on the Lebanese and Assyrian Marronites in which he clearly stated that they were descendants of Syriac-Aramean peoples who lived in the area during the seventh century Muslim conquest. In 2005 Al Azhar University published a research project by Dr. Ahmad Makhmad Ali al Jamal in which he speaks of the Syriac-Aramean people as an existing fact in Lebanon, Syria and Iraq.

Neighboring countries have Christian communities where the spoken language, and not only the liturgic one, is Aramaic. In Syria, there are Maalula, Bakhia, Hassake, Qamishli. In Turkey, Tur-Abdin, Mardin. In northern Iraq, Qaraqoush, Alqosh, Irbil (the Kurdish capital), Ankawa. There is evidence that until the late 10th century, the towns of Basri, Zarta, and their environs in the high Lebanese mountain area spoke Aramaic.

In an article broadcast on the Russia Today channel in 2008 about the Aramaic community of Maalula, a school for studying Aramaic was seen, and the writing on the blackboard was Assyrian square script, identical to the script introduced to the Jews by Ezra the Scribe in the early days of the Second Temple that replaced the ancient Canaanite script they had used until then.

Spoken Arabic in the Christian communities of the Levant differs from that of the Muslim, Druze and Alawite communities and emphasizes the cultural segregation of the Christian communities wishing to preserve their cultural autonomy as they managed to do throughout the period of Arab-Islamic rule in the region. These cultural attributes have given rise to the name "Syriac-Aramaic" or Syriac for short. The most famous of the Syriac groups are the Maronites, most of whom live in Lebanon. Some of their prayer texts are in Aramaic.

The Civil Sphere in the Fertile Crescent
Syriac-Aramaic communities are to be found today in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and northern Israel. What they have in common is the combination of the Christian religion and the Aramaic language, the latter used mostly for prayer, and the recognition as an official, definitive group.

The modern states of Iraq and Syria, founded about 70 years ago, tried valiantly to create a sense of united nationhood, Arab-Iraqi in Iraq, Arab-Syrian in Syria. This national consciousness was expected to erase tribal loyalties, ethnic, religious and sectorial loyalties and planting in their stead a modern sense of brotherhood that would result in civic tranquility and regime stability.  For this reason, modern ideologies such as nationalism, patriotism, Arab and Baath socialism were copied from European ideologies that filled the intellectual vacuum of the 19th and 20th centuries. The Syrian attempt to erase particularistic identities and turn all the country's citizens into Arab Syrians who believe in the Baath with all their heart, is described clearly in my doctoral thesis on Syrian media, titled "The Public Poitical Language of the Assad Regime in Syria", 1998.

For the past three and a half years, from the beginning of the Arab Tempest, the ability to rule as an established modern state in Iraq and Syria declined, and it became obvious to all that the imported European ideologies were not really absorbed by the masses who stayed by and large loyal to their traditional frameworks, the tribe, the ethnic group, the religion and the sector.

Most Muslims define themselves in words that are more and more religious and ethnic, and as a result the Christian minorities have turned into strangers and heretics rather than fellow citizens. Persecution and damage to churches, property and lives have made many of them immigrate to other countries, mainly Europe.

In an attempt to stem the Christian exodus from Iraq, in 2014 the Iraqi Parliament passed a law that gives the Syriac-Aramaic language official status, parallel to that of Arabic, Kurdish, Turkmanic and Armenian. This is important for our thesis as the Iraqi government does not need to find reasons that will distance the various groups in the country from one another, it would rather stress unifying factors in an attempt to create a unified Iraqi national consciousness. With this in mind, the decision to recognize the Syriac-Aramaic language bears witness to the existence of a viable Aramean group.

The terrible conditions under which they live and the persecutions they endure have caused many of the Christian communities of the Middle East to emigrate to the West, where they continue to preserve their culture and language. Aramaic is their language for prayer and spirituality wherever they are on the globe: Sweden, Cyprus, France, Germany, Holland, Switzerland, Romania, Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, America, Canada, Australia, Western Europe, South Africa and any place with a Syriac-Aramaic community and church, whether Maronite, Orthodox or Catholic,  that hails from the Middle East and especially from Syria and Lebanon.

The Situation in Israel
In Israel, there is no unified definitive community of Arabic-speaking Christians and the state sees them as Arabs for the most part, part of the Arab sector. However, as the years passed, the state recognized two groups: the Cherkassians and the Druze. The Circassians, who are Muslim, were defined because of their language, ethnic origin and cultural heritage which originated in the Caucasian mountains. The Druze are recognized because of their religion, social norms and marriage customs that serve to isolate them from the Muslims that live in their neighborhoods. A similar situation exists within the Aramean community, where the tendency is to marry only Aramean people, 

The Aramean people do not have a unique religion, but are Christians like all other Christians. They are not a specific Christian subgroup or sect either because some are Catholic and others Orthodox. All that is left is their self-defining ethno-lingual characteristic as the communal basis for their collective existence, based on their history and not on the civilian reality in the Fertile Crescent.

They share many similarities with the Jews:
● They are a minority with deep roots in the history and geography of the region
● They are different from the demographic majority of the region in which they live
● They have their own language for liturgical purposes
● They are persecuted for being "different"
● They have the ambition to be recognized as a definitive group

That is why it would be the right thing to do if Israel recognized the Syriac-Aramean groups as an ethnic group like the Druze and Circassians and allow those Christians who belong to Eastern denominations to be recorded in the population registry as Arameans of the Christian religion, if they so wish.

Abbas disseminates his hatred and lies at the UN

From Times of Israel, 27 Sept 2014:

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas after addressing the 69th Session of the UN General Assembly in New York, September 26, 2014. (photo credit: AFP/Timothy A. Clary)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas after addressing the 69th Session of the UN General Assembly in New York, September 26, 2014. (photo credit: AFP/Timothy A. Clary) 

The United States on Friday slammed Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s speech at the United Nations, in which he accused Israel of “genocide” against the Palestinians, saying it was “offensive” and undermined peace efforts. 
“President Abbas’s speech today included offensive characterizations that were deeply disappointing and which we reject,” said State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki.  
“Such provocative statements are counterproductive and undermine efforts to create a positive atmosphere and restore trust between the parties,” she added.
In Abbas’s address to the UN General Assembly, he demanded an end to the occupation, accused Israel of waging a “war of genocide” in Gaza and asserted that Palestinians faced a future in a “most abhorrent form of apartheid” under Israeli rule.

Earlier, Israeli leaders reacted with anger and scorn to Abbas’s address, with one official from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office accusing the PA president of incitement.

In his address, Abbas accused Israel of committing genocide in its recent conflict with terrorist groups in the Gaza Strip — calling 2014 “a year of a new war of genocide perpetrated against the Palestinian people” — and said that Israel was not interested in living in peace with its Palestinian neighbors.
“It’s a speech of incitement full of lies,” an unnamed source from the Prime Minister’s Office told the Hebrew press. “That’s not how someone who wants peace speaks.”
Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman said in a statement shortly after Abbas’s speech that the PA president demonstrated that 
“he doesn’t want to be, and cannot be, a partner for a logical diplomatic resolution.
“It’s no coincidence that he joined a [national consensus] government with Hamas,” the foreign minister added. “Abbas complements Hamas when he deals with diplomatic terrorism and slanders Israel with false accusations.
“As long as he’s chairman of the Palestinian Authority, he will continue the conflict. He is the continuation of [late Palestinian leader Yasser] Arafat through different means,” continued Liberman.
West Bank settler group foreign envoy Dani Dayan responded to the PA chief’s speech by saying that Abbas was the “broadcaster for Hamas” and that the Fatah party leader had delivered one of his most “libelous, defamatory and self-righteous speeches.”
In one of his most libelous, defamatory & self-righteous speeches ever, Abbas read a Hamas-inspired speech, ending with lip service to peace— DaniDayan (@dandayan) September 26, 2014 
The former Yesha Council chairman said in English on Twitter that “by using the word ‘genocide,’ Abbas gave up the empathy of the Israeli public, including most of the left.”