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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Jewish boycott;DADT;Korea talks;New Arms Race;World Heritage Sites;EULEX-Kosmet;Apostle Andrew

Kauft nicht bei Juden – “Don’t buy from Jews” – is back. The call to boycott Jewish commerce is Europe’s oldest political appeal. Once again, as the tsunami of hate against Israel rolls out from the Right and the Left, from Islamist ideologues to Europe’s cultural elites, the demand is to punish the Jews. That the actions of the Israeli government are open to criticism is a fact. But what are the real arguments? Firstly, that Israel is wrong to defy international law as an occupying force on the West Bank. But what about Turkey? It has 35,000 soldiers occupying the territory of a sovereign republic – Cyprus. Ankara has sent hundreds of thousands of settlers to colonize the ancient Greekowned lands of northern Cyprus. Turkey has been told again and again by the UN to withdraw its troops. Instead, it now also stands accused of destroying the ancient Christian churches of northern Cyprus. Does anyone call for a boycott of Turkey, or urge companies to divest from it? No. Only the Jews are targeted. Or take India; 500,000 Indian soldiers occupy Kashmir... May we talk of the western Sahara and Morocco, or Algeria’s closure of the border there, making life far worse than that of Palestinians in Ramallah or Hebron? No, better not... Second, the desire for peace in the Middle East is a global priority. But peace requires recognition of the Jewish state of Israel. There are 40 member states of the UN which have the words “Muslim” or “Islamic” in their names. No one challenges their right to exist or defend themselves. Israel unilaterally withdrew from Gaza. Its reward was to have the territory turned into a new launch pad for rockets intended to kill Jews. More rockets have been fired at Israel from Gaza than V1 or V2 rockets at London in 1944. No one blamed Winston Churchill for responding with all the force he could, as cities like Hamburg or Dresden faced the wrath of the RAF. But if Israel takes the slightest action against the Jew-killers of Hamas, all the hate of the world falls on its head... Those who dislike Israeli rightwing policies must find other language than that of classical anti- Semitism... As Europeans we must reject the old language of boycott and economic campaigns against Jews. Israel, Palestine and Europe must all have a 21st century future, and not return to the hates of the past.

The U.S. Defense Department's long-anticipated report on the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy is being prepared for release Tuesday to lawmakers. Pentagon officials will distribute advance copies of the report on the policy barring gays and lesbians from openly serving in the military and brief staff members of the House and Senate Armed Services committees. Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen also will conduct a news conference at the Pentagon about the report and why they support changing the "don't ask, don't tell" policy. The report includes a poll of active-duty military and families, and lays out how the Defense Department can implement the policy change if Congress votes for a repeal. Co-author Army Gen. Carter Ham said the report was the most comprehensive personnel policy assessment in the Defense Department ever, CNN reported. The Senate Armed Services Committee has scheduled hearings Thursday and Friday.

The United States, South Korea and Japan are all balking at China's request for emergency talks with North Korea over the crisis on the Korean Peninsula, as high-profile military exercises between South Korea and the United States in the Yellow Sea continued in a show of force. Obama administration officials said a return to the table with North Korea, as China sought over the weekend, would be rewarding Pyongyang for provocative behavior during the past week, including the North's deadly artillery attack on a South Korean island and its disclosure of a uranium enrichment plant. Beijing called for emergency talks with North Korea, the United States, Japan, South Korea and Russia, participants in the six-party nuclear talks, which have been suspended indefinitely. Rejecting the emergency talks amounts to a pointed rebuke to China. The United States wanted China to signal clearly that North Korea's aggressive behavior would not be tolerated. Instead, Beijing remained neutral about who was responsible for the flare-up. It remains unclear just what the United States would actually accept from North Korea to return to talks.

President Dmitri A. Medvedev, expressing continued wariness over the prospect of military cooperation with his country’s former Cold War adversaries, warned on Tuesday that a failure by Russia and the West to reach an agreement on missile defense could provoke a new arms race. The remarks, delivered in Mr. Medvedev’s annual state of the nation address, came just weeks after the Russian president had signaled his country’s readiness to begin cooperating with NATO on the development of a European missile defense network. “The following alternatives await us in the next 10 years,” Mr. Medvedev told an audience of Russia’s top leaders gathered at the Kremlin. “Either we reach an agreement on missile defense and create a joint mechanism for cooperation or, if we do not succeed in entering into a constructive understanding, there will begin a new arms race.” In the absence of cooperation, he said, Russia would be prepared to deploy “new means of attack.” Missile defense has been a longstanding impediment in relations between Russia and the West. Russian leaders staunchly opposed a Bush Administration plan to deploy elements of a missile shield in Poland and the Czech Republic, claiming that such a system could be directed against Russia. President Obama altered the Bush plan in part by changing the location of missile interceptors, a move that assuaged Moscow’s fears somewhat. NATO leaders agreed at a summit meeting this month in Lisbon to create a defense shield that would protect all NATO members from attacks by rogue countries like Iran. At the meeting, Mr. Medvedev accepted NATO’s invitation for Russia to participate in the project, although it is still unclear exactly what Russia’s role would be.

A United Nations committee tasked with safeguarding the world’s valued cultural heritage that might be threatened in times of armed conflict has granted enhanced protection status to three sites in Cyprus and another one in Italy. The sites – Choirokoitia, Paphos and the Painted Churches of the Troodos region in Cyprus, as well as the Castel del Monte in Italy – were declared as being in need of enhanced protection by the Committee for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) during a meeting in Paris this week. “Enhanced protection status reinforces the legal measures in place to prevent such terrible losses to the world’s cultural heritage,” he added after the status was granted, the first such decision by the Committee. The “enhanced protection” status is one of the features of the 1999 Second Protocol to the Hague Convention of 1954 for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict. The granting of such protection by the Committee to sites in countries that are party to the Second Protocol can be made under three conditions – that the site be of the greatest importance to humanity; that it be protected by adequate domestic legal and administrative measures recognizing its exceptional cultural and historic value and ensuring the highest level of protection; and that it not be used for military purposes or to shield military sites. The protection means that States cannot fall back on the argument of “imperative military necessity” for using or targeting cultural sites in times of conflict. It also obligates States to make intentional attacks against identified sites a criminal offence or to penalize use of such sites or their immediate surroundings in support of military action. To view and interactive map, as well as a list, please click here.

Deputy Director of Police at the Interior Ministry Branislav Mitrovic said today that the ministry in cooperation with EULEX in Kosovo-Metohija is trying to provide more security for Serbs in northern Kosovo-Metohija. Presenting a report on the security situation in the province at a session of the parliament’s Committee for Kosovo-Metohija, he recalled that cooperation with EULEX is necessary because the Serbian Interior Ministry has operational presence in the province. This cooperation with the representatives of EULEX is very useful because of information sharing. The Deputy Director of Police pointed out that there are still pressures on the Serbs in the province manifested as attacks on personal and property security, the destruction of property and denial of telecommunication links. Mitrovic said that organised crime exists in Kosovo-Metohija noting that a special problem is the border with Albania, which is almost completely open. Also present in Kosovo-Metohija is the production and distribution of drugs and illegal trade from the African and Asian areas to EU countries, he noted, reiterating that organised crime is not present in northern Kosovo-Metohija, where Serbs are majority population, but only in the southern parts of the province. Mitrovic said he also informed EULEX officials about this, so as to prevent the arrival of special mono-ethnic units to the north of Kosovo-Metohija, which could cause instability and anxiety among the Serbian population. Mitrovic specified that the Kosovo Police Service (KPS) now numbers about 700 Serbs, adding that this number should be increased so that they could legally be able to protect their fellow citizens.

The Holy Apostle Andrew the First-Called was the first of the Apostles to follow Christ, and he later brought his own brother, the holy Apostle Peter, to Christ (John 1:35-42). The future apostle was from Bethsaida, and from his youth he turned with all his soul to God. He did not enter into marriage, and he worked with his brother as a fisherman. When the holy Prophet, Forerunner and Baptist John began to preach, St Andrew became his closest disciple. St John the Baptist himself sent to Christ his own two disciples, the future Apostles Andrew and John the Theologian, declaring Christ to be the Lamb of God. After the Descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles, St Andrew went to the Eastern lands preaching the Word of God. He went through Asia Minor, Thrace, Macedonia, he reached the River Danube, went along the coast of the Black Sea, through Crimea, the Black Sea region and along the River Dniepr he climbed to the place where the city of Kiev now stands. He stopped overnight on the hills of Kiev. Rising in the morning, he said to those disciples that were with him: "See these hills? Upon these hills shall shine forth the beneficence of God, and there will be a great city here, and God shall raise up many churches." The apostle went up around the hills, blessed them and set up a cross. Having prayed, he went up even further along the Dniepr and reached a settlement of the Slavs, where Novgorod was built. From here the apostle went through the land of the Varangians towards Rome for preaching, and again he returned to Thrace, where in the small village of Byzantium, the future Constantinople, he founded the Church of Christ. The name of the holy Apostle Andrew links the mother, the Church of Constantinople, with her daughter, the Russian Church. On his journeys the First-Called Apostle endured many sufferings and torments from pagans: they cast him out of their cities and they beat him. In Sinope they pelted him with stones, but remaining unharmed, the persistant disciple of Christ continued to preach to people about the Savior. Through the prayers of the Apostle, the Lord worked miracles. By the labors of the holy Apostle Andrew, Christian Churches were established, for which he provided bishops and clergy. The final city to which the Apostle came was the city of Patra, where he was destined to suffer martyrdom. The Lord worked many miracles through His disciple in Patra. The infirm were made whole, and the blind received their sight. Through the prayers of the Apostle, the illustrious citizen Sosios recovered from serious illness; he healed Maximilla, wife of the governor of Patra, and his brother Stratokles. The miracles accomplished by the Apostle and his fiery speech enlightened almost all the citizens of the city of Patra with the true Faith. Few pagans remained at Patra, but among them was the prefect of the city, Aegeatos. The Apostle Andrew repeatedly turned to him with the words of the Gospel. But even the miracles of the Apostle did not convince Aegeatos. The holy Apostle with love and humility appealed to his soul, striving to reveal to him the Christian mystery of life eternal, through the wonderworking power of the Holy Cross of the Lord. The angry Aegeatos gave orders to crucify the apostle [on a cross in the shape of an "X," the first letter of "Christ" in Greek; this cross is also the symbol of Saint Andrew]. The pagan thought he might undo St Andrew's preaching if he were to put him to death on the cross. St Andrew the First-Called accepted the decision of the prefect with joy and with prayer to the Lord, and went willingly to the place of execution. In order to prolong the suffering of the saint, Aegeatos gave orders not to nail the saint's hands and feet, but to tie them to the cross. For two days the apostle taught the citizens who gathered about. The people, in listening to him, with all their souls pitied him and tried to take St Andrew down from the cross. Fearing a riot of the people, Aegeatos gave orders to stop the execution. But the holy apostle began to pray that the Lord would grant him death on the cross. Just as the soldiers tried to take hold of the Apostle Andrew, they lost control of their hands. The crucified apostle, having given glory to God, said: "Lord Jesus Christ, receive my spirit." Then a blazing ray of divine light illumined the cross and the martyr crucified upon it. When the light faded, the holy Apostle Andrew had already given up his holy soul to the Lord. Maximilla, the wife of the prefect, had the body of the saint taken down from the cross, and buried him with honor. A few centuries later, under the emperor Constantine the Great, the relics of the holy Apostle Andrew were solemnly transferred to Constantinople and placed in the church of the Holy Apostles beside the relics of the holy Evangelist Luke and St Paul's disciple St Timothy.