Australian Jews Are Forbidden to Build a Synagogue—Because It Might Be Targeted by Terrorists

The government of the Sydney suburb of Waverly has refused to grant permission for the local Jewish community to begin construction of a new place of worship due to “concerns as to the safety and security of future users of the synagogue, nearby residents, motorists, and pedestrians.” Joe Hildebrand reports:

Jewish leaders are shocked that the decision appears to suggest they cannot freely practice their religion because they are the target of hate by Islamist extremists. . . . The head of the local Jewish community said the council and the court [that upheld its decision] had effectively stifled freedom of religion and rewarded terrorism.

“The decision is unprecedented,” Rabbi Yehoram Ulman [said]. “Its implications are enormous. It basically implies that no Jewish organization should be allowed to exist in residential areas. It stands to stifle Jewish existence and activity in Sydney and indeed, by creating a precedent, the whole of Australia, . . . by extension rewarding terrorism.” . . .

Ironically, the council and the Land and Environment Court appeared to use the proposal’s own risk assessment and security measures in the proposed design—including setback buildings and blast walls—as evidence the site was too much of a security risk. Yet, in a classic catch-22, the council also said that if the design was changed to boost security, this would [also] be unacceptable because it would be too unsightly.

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More about: Anti-Semitism, Australia, Freedom of Religion, Jewish World, Synagogues, Terrorism

The U.S. Must Maintain the Kurdish Enclave in Eastern Syria

Aug. 16 2018

Presently only two rebel enclaves remain in Syria, and both are dependent on outside powers: one in the northwest, under Turkish control, and an area in the east controlled by the U.S.-backed and Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). Only by continuing its support for the latter can America prevent Iranian domination of Syria, writes Jonathan Spyer. Officials in Washington have made various statements suggesting that the White House has no intention of ceding the country to Iran, but haven’t clarified what this means in practice:

Actions . . . are a better guide than sentiments. And it appears that the SDF leaders remain skeptical regarding America’s long-term plans. Last week, the first direct negotiations took place between their representatives and those of the Assad regime, in Damascus.

It is not quite clear where things are heading. But Israel’s interest in this is clear. Maintenance of the east Syrian enclave and the [U.S.] base in Tanf means keeping a substantial physical obstacle to the Iranian hope for a contiguous corridor [connecting it to Lebanon via Syria and Iraq]. It would also prevent an overall Iranian triumph in the war and give the West a place at the table in any substantive political negotiation over Syria’s future. . . .

Specifically, efforts should be made to ensure a formal U.S. declaration of a no-fly zone for regime and regime-allied aircraft east of the Euphrates. This move, reminiscent of the no-fly zone declared over Iraqi Kurdistan after the Gulf War of 1991, would with one stroke ensure the continued viability of the SDF-controlled area. There should also be a formal recognition of the SDF zone, or the “Democratic Federation of Northern Syria,” as it is formally known. This entity is not seeking independence from Damascus, so Western concerns regarding the formal breakup of Syria need not be raised by such a move.

As the strategic contest between Iran and its allies and the U.S. and its allies in the Middle East moves into high gear, it is essential that the West maintain its alliances and investments and behaves, and is seen to behave, as a credible and loyal patron and ally.

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More about: Iran, Israeli Security, Kurds, Syrian civil war, U.S. Foreign policy