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Friday, June 22, 2018

From Ian:

Israel then and now shows power of a good defense and a strong wall
What impressed me on this visit was the confidence of the Israeli people. The security was much less oppressive. I barely saw a handful of weapons out in the open during 10 days in the country.

The Israeli military wasn’t present in heavy numbers in the border towns, at least not out in the open. Ashkelon and Sderot were thriving, expanding, growing, with families and lots of children everywhere. No one was concerned about Palestinian terrorists. The walls were working, keeping the killers away from the Israeli people.

I had lunch with a journalist colleague who lives in Jerusalem. He laid out for me the altered facts on the ground in the region over the years and how an effective security wall can rewrite the strategic balance of power.

“The Palestinians are screwed,” he started off. “They have tried suicide vests, car bombs, stabbings, tunnels, rockets, etc. Nothing has worked. They have been opposed by Israeli might at every turn. What do they do now?” he asked.

While standing on the top of a yeshiva in Sderot a few days before I left, I looked out at the Gaza border. This time there were several large plumes of smoke. “Now Hamas is reduced to flying flaming kites to burn Israeli grassland. They are defeated,” my friend said.

Israel will survive this phase of the conflict as well and come out even stronger. In fact, her people will continue to thrive. With President Trump in the White House, the U.S. is once again unambiguously on her side — as it should be.

Take it from one who has just been there: For all the media hand-wringing and pro-Palestinian forces at the U.N. and in Europe, Israel is stronger than ever.

Two months of burning kites from Gaza

Why Does the New Israel Fund Oppose Home Demolitions?
So why is the New Israel Fund supporting a group that protests this kind of action?

Across the Israeli political spectrum, there is support for home demolition. And Israeli Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit, whose job includes approving demolitions, has stated that there is evidence that demolitions are effective at deterring violent attacks.

In addition to its outrageous petition, Hamoked also wasted the Israeli government’s money, because it had to spend funds to defend its position in court.

Hamoked has received more than $720,000 from New Israel Fund donors. These donors include the Leichtag Foundation and Oz Benamram of the law firm White & Case.

Hamoked claims to work “for the enforcement of standards and values of international human rights and humanitarian law.” But Hamoked, using American Jewish donor money, defends the families of terrorists.

As Israel’s State Prosecutor concluded, Hamoked’s “self-presentation as ‘a human rights organization’ has no basis in reality and is designed to mislead.” Shame on the New Israel Fund.
Israel deploys electronic eye to track fire kites and balloons from Gaza
Facing a wave of airborne incendiary attacks from the Gaza Strip, Israel has deployed a system that can spot fire-starting balloons and kites in the sky, track their progress, and then direct firefighters to their landing spots, enabling them to more rapidly extinguish the flames and reduce damage.

Since March 30, Palestinians in the Gaza Strip have launched hundreds of kites and helium balloons bearing flammable materials, and occasionally explosives, sparking near-daily fires that have burned thousands of acres of land in southern Israel.

Israeli officials are concerned that if the fire attacks don’t stop — or aren’t foiled — they could push an escalation in violence that would lead to a major military confrontation with terror groups in the Gaza Strip.

The Sky Spotter system, built by Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, has been in operation along the Gaza border for several days, Hadashot TV news reported Thursday.

Originally developed to counter small drones, Sky Spotter can track the balloons or kites and pinpoint their location, where they are heading, and where they are likely to land. The operators then notify firefighters, who can then try to reach the landing points to put out the flames before they spread.

David Singer: Jordan Baulks at Replacing PLO in Negotiations with Israel on Trump Plan
President Trump’s long-awaited plan on ending the Arab-Israeli conflict will be further delayed following a flurry of diplomatic activity over the past week.

Critical to the success of Trump’s plan will involve replacing the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) as Israel’s negotiating partner over the last 25 years. The PLO has cut its own throat by making it very clear it will have nothing to do with anything Trump proposes.

Trump’s Senior Advisor Jared Kushner and Special Representative for International Negotiations Jason Greenblatt met in New York City on 15 June with United States Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley and United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres. The White House reported they had a productive discussion about the efforts of the United States to promote peace in the Middle East and to meet humanitarian needs in Gaza.

This UN visit was followed by Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu flying to Amman for a public meeting with Jordan’s King Abdullah on June 18 – their first since 2014. Jordan’s Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi, General Intelligence Department Director Maj. Gen. Adnan Jundi, Adviser to His Majesty and Director of the Office of His Majesty Manar Dabbas and Adviser to His Majesty for Economic Affairs Mohamad Al Ississ attended the meeting.

Communiques separately issued by Netanyahu and Abdullah following their meeting differ significantly.

Kushner, Greenblatt meet with Netanyahu on peace push, Gaza
US President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner and his special envoy Jason Greenblatt met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday in Jerusalem, on the final leg of a Middle East tour aimed at promoting the US administration’s as-yet-unveiled Israeli-Palestinian peace plan and securing humanitarian relief for the Gaza Strip.

“They discussed the means by which the humanitarian situation in Gaza can be alleviated, while maintaining Israel’s security. They further discussed the continued commitment of the Trump Administration and Israel to advance peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians,” the White House said in a statement after the meeting.

The Prime Minister’s Office said Netanyahu expressed his admiration for Trump and the US president’s support of Israel during the meeting.

“The teams discussed advancing the peace process, regional developments and the security and humanitarian situation in Gaza,” the PMO said.
Gaza, Israel, and the Palestinians: The Three-State Solution
In practice, the hybrid West Bank paradigm — comprising extensive and multifaceted economic and security Israel-PA ties — could serve as a model for a similar relationship between the Hamas state in Gaza and Egypt. The open space between Rafah and El-Arish, which is in the hands of Egypt, can offer the Strip the economic and infrastructure living space it needs.

Such a sea change would of course be entirely dependent on the consent of Egypt, which may not be eager to relinquish even a tiny part of its sovereign territory. Yet it is possible to find creative means that do not necessarily require concessions over sovereignty, and that will grant Egypt substantial benefits (via massive international aid) that may ease its own economic plight.

Likewise, Hamas can hardly be expected to abandon its dream of a state from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea. But with the internationally supported expansion of the Gaza state into northern Sinai and the attendant economic revival that it is likely to produce, some positive dynamics within the Palestinian population may well evolve.

Open spaces often present unrealized opportunities. Sinai is an opportunity awaiting a comprehensive initiative that would benefit all the peoples of the region.
Is the UN upholding its founding mission?
Mr. Chair, we thank the High Commissioner for his update, and we fully support what he said: “The UN’s raison d’être is the protection of peace, rights, justice and social progress.”

And so today we ask: Is the UN upholding this noble mission?

When the Islamic Republic of Iran, which arrests brave Iranian women for the crime of not wearing a Hijab, is elected to the board of UN Women — the entity for gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls — is the UN upholding its mission?

When in the space of only one year, Saudi Arabia is rewarded for its subjugation of women with a seat on the UN Commission on the Status of Women, then on the Executive Board of UN Women, and just now on the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women, is the UN upholding its mission?

When President Erdogan’s Turkey, which persecutes human rights activists and throws journalists in prison, wins election to the UN Committee on NGOs — the body that oversees the UN activities of human rights groups worldwide — is the UN upholding its mission?

NY Times Conceals Widespread Criticism of UN Rights Body
Who could have anything bad to say about an organization with so lofty a title as the United Nations Human Rights Council?

“Conservatives.” Or so says the New York Times in its June 20 story about the United States withdrawal from the council. “Conservatives have been complaining about the council since its inception in 2006,” Times correspondent Gardiner Harris asserts, before underscoring the purportedly ideological nature of the complaints by pointing to criticism by Nikki Haley and Mike Pompeo, both senior members of the Trump administration, and Elliott Abrams, who Harris points out is “a former Republican diplomat.”

Former President George W. Bush (Republican) and Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu (Likud) are also named as critics of the council. And that’s it. No other critics are quoted.

And what do these conservatives say about the UN body? There’s “bias against Israel,” said Abrams. There’s a “disproportionate focus” on the Jewish state, said Haley. It’s a “slanted body,” Netanyahu wrote on Twitter. And the administration as a whole, we learn, agrees: “The Trump administration has made clear that it will not countenance the level of criticism and what it describes as slanted resolutions by the Human Rights Council that have historically been directed at the United States and Israel,” the newspaper reports. Even the piece’s title is on message: “Trump Administration Leaves U.N. Human Rights Council.” It’s not the U.S. that is pulling out. It is Trump.
Following US exit, Israel ‘lowers’ participation in UN Human Rights Council
Diplomats say Israel has temporarily reduced its participation in the UN Human Rights Council, days after the United States pulled out.

The diplomats in Geneva, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly, said Israel had “lowered” its participation in the council’s ongoing activities.

Israel was not participating in the council plenary Friday, where its seat sat empty. The diplomats noted that the move was not definitive and could change from day-to-day.

Israeli diplomats have not participated in UNHRC events since a council discussion Thursday on discrimination against women, they said.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu applauded the US walkout announced Tuesday. The Trump administration insists the council is biased against Israel.
Erekat blasts American withdrawal from UNHRC
Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) secretary general Saeb Erekat on Wednesday criticized the United States for withdrawing from the United Nations Human Rights Council, saying it was advancing "international anarchy".

Erekat claimed the U.S. move aligned it with "Israel's colonization of Palestine, rather than the rule of international law and UN resolutions."

"The Trump administration continues its efforts to promote international anarchy by withdrawing from the UN Human Rights Council," Erekat said in a statement quoted by AFP.

He noted that the move came after the United States failed to "normalize" Israeli “settlement expansion” and "other systematic violations of Palestinian national and human rights."
No Endemic Bias Against Israel At UN, Russian Foreign Minister Claims
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has adamantly denied that Israel is the target of bias and discrimination within the UN system.

Speaking at a joint press conference on Thursday with visiting UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, Lavrov made the claim about Israel in comments concerning the US decision to quit the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council.

On Tuesday, the US ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, cited a number of reasons for the move, including the presence of some of the world’s most egregious human rights abusers among the UNHRC’s 47 members, as well as its in-built bias against Israel — the only country to have a permanent agenda item at the council dedicated to its alleged human rights abuses.

According to Lavrov, the charge of bias against Israel in the UN’s policy-making bodies is a fiction. “In regards to the accusations of Nikki Haley against the Security Council in the endless hostility towards Israel, I cannot agree with this,” Lavrov stated. “The Security Council has an obligation to consider reports of the secretary-general on the situation in the Middle East, including the situation in the Palestinian-Israeli settlement.”
Obama Wins 2nd Nobel Prize for Creating the Israeli-Saudi Alliance (satire)
Oslo: The International Community is positively giddy with the news that Former President Barack Obama is to receive his SECOND Nobel Peace Prize! Nobel Committee spokesperson Lars Olaf addressed the assembled news media earlier today.

“The Nobel Committee is proud to award this year’s prize to Barack Obama for his steadfast work uniting former enemies in the belief that his policies posed a clear and present danger to their respective nations. Mr. Obama’s Iran Policy has managed to bring Israel into a de-facto alliance with Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and the United Arab Emirates. Ten years ago, this would be unthinkable!”

The electrified crowd burst into applause when Mr. Obama strode into the room to accept his prize. “Please excuse my lateness, I was leading from behind…Then again, we are the one we’ve been waiting for.” The Former President continued. “But as much as I am happy to accept this award, the safety of Israel and Saudi Arabia were never affected by my policies. As I told Bibi, it’s just like ObamaCare…..If you like your regional security, you can keep it…….Now is this the part of the ceremony where I bow?”

In addition, many Obama Administration alumnae were on-hand to share in the joy of the occasion, and spoke with the Daily Freier about just what this moment meant for them. Ben Rhodes explained. “I am so proud to be in this honored chamber on this auspicious day. And what amazing acoustics! You can really hear the echo in this chamber!”

Samantha Power was equally joyful. “I am just so grateful to the Nobel Committee for having the courage to cast this vote. I mean, I might have just abstained.”
The Syrian Intervention: Following the Wingate Model
British Maj. Gen. Orde Charles Wingate’s approach to the liberation of Ethiopia from Italian occupation in 1941 provides a useful model for modern-day intervention in Syria. Rather than hand out money and materiel to local forces, Wingate advocated committing one’s own forces and then allowing local forces to participate of their own accord. In his view, loyalty bought with cash and weapons will always prove temporary.

One of the recurrent arguments against full-scale American intervention in Syria (as well as in Kurdistan) has been the contention that the various rebel forces might prove to be greater regional threats than the murderous, yet contained, Assad regime.

This misconception is anything but new.

Two years ago, Steven Heydemann, a non-resident senior fellow at the Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution, wrote in his “Why the United States hasn’t intervened in Syria” that in addition to a “deep cognitive bias against risk” and an overreliance on lessons presumably learned from earlier US interventions, previous administrations failed to appreciate that “Syrian fighters followed resources, not beliefs.”

Indeed, providing significantly increased training and resources to the various Syrian opposition groups has long been championed by US diplomats, albeit to little avail. See, for example, former Ambassador Frederic C. Hof’s 2015 exhortation that the “train and equip” program be put “on steroids.”
Standing with the North Korean People Will Advance America’s Interests
Recalling his own experiences as a dissident and “prisoner of Zion” in the USSR, Natan Sharansky urges President Trump to speak publicly about human-rights abuses in North Korea.
In the case of the Soviet Union, it was a combination of external pressure from world powers and internal pressure from dissidents that ultimately brought down the Iron Curtain. By linking their negotiations with Moscow to the latter’s respect for human rights, Western leaders put the regime on notice that they took the wellbeing of ordinary Soviet citizens seriously, and they gave us dissidents the confidence to challenge the regime knowing that they were on our side.

Sadly, the long-suffering people of North Korea are not yet in such a position. Although President Trump’s meeting with Kim was a historic event with potentially dramatic consequences for nuclear disarmament, it is less clear—though no less important—what effect the meeting will have on the dismal human-rights situation inside the hermit kingdom. . . . [C]urrent and would-be dissidents need reassurance that America and other world powers understand their struggle and will defend their basic rights.

It is unfortunate that some of Trump’s subsequent remarks have conveyed the opposite message. In the meeting’s aftermath, Trump said that Kim had proved himself “very talented” in taking over totalitarian rule from his father and averred that the young dictator “loves his country very much.” Even more troubling, he declared that North Koreans love Kim in return, supporting him with “great fervor.” The president may have been attempting to solidify his newfound goodwill with Kim. Yet his comments are likely to have a deeply dispiriting effect on North Koreans. . . .
Border Police in Hebron defuse 2 bombs planted near Tomb of the Patriarchs
Border Police on Friday defused a pair of improvised explosive devices planted near Israeli security forces in the West Bank city of Hebron, police said.

The bombs were both discovered near security checkpoints at the Tomb of the Patriarchs holy site, according to police.

One device was found in a yard by a patrol. Border Police sappers destroyed it in a controlled explosion, police said.

During a subsequent scan of the area officers also found a pipe bomb near a checkpoint. It was also defused by sappers, police said.

The discovery of the bombs comes on a week which saw two incidents of improvised explosive devices being thrown at officers at the entrance to the Tomb of the Patriarchs — on both Tuesday and Thursday.
Review of Israel land sales reveals discrimination against Jews
An Israel Hayom review of the some 200 state land tenders featured on the Israel Land Authority website has found that the authority systematically limits tenders for land in Arab communities to "local residents."

According to ILA policy, in tenders for small communities or communities located in national priority areas, some of the land can be earmarked for existing community members before being offered to the general population. In minority communities, however, up to 100% of land is often earmarked for locals.

Of the 200 current and former tenders Israel Hayom examined, it emerged that in minority communities, tenders for land are limited exclusively to the construction of single-family homes for "locals." This is true of smaller Arab communities like Deir Hanna, Tuba-Zangariyye, Yanuh-Jat, Kisra-Sumei, but also in the major Arab city of Sakhnin, where the population numbers 30,000.

In contrast, tenders in Jewish communities like Katzir, Poria Illit, Immanuel, Metula and even Savyon are open to any citizen interested in submitting an application to purchase land.
Palestinians: How to Achieve a Better Life
"It's become safer to demonstrate against Israel than against Abbas or the Palestinian Authority. Israel is at least a country of law and order and they have human rights organizations and a powerful media and judicial system. We can only continue to dream of having something like what the Jews have." — Palestinian activist.

At the end of the day, Palestinians know that the power struggle between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas is not between good guys and bad guys, but between bad guys and bad guys. These bad guys are no different from other Arab dictatorships that enslave and kill their people. Anyone who thinks that Mahmoud Abbas is eager to go back to the Gaza Strip is living in a dream world.

If the Palestinians ever wish to seek a better life, the first thing they need to do is rid themselves of the "leaders" who have destroyed their lives.

Hezbollah airs new footage from 2006 attack that launched Second Lebanon War
Hezbollah on Friday aired new footage from the 2006 border attack on Israeli soldiers that sparked the Second Lebanon War.

The footage uploaded to a Twitter account associated with the terror group appears to show the moments after Hezbollah operatives shot and killed Israeli troops patrolling along the border with Lebanon.

The grainy video clip shows an Israel Defense Forces Humvee following the attack that killed three soldiers in July 2006.

Two bodies appear to be lying to the vehicle’s right as Hezbollah men are seen running away from the car. A bomb then goes off inside the vehicle.

The video then goes on to show footage that appears to depict the terrorists fleeing the scene of the attack, both on foot and by car.

Lebanon Is Protecting Hizballah’s Cocaine Trade in Latin America
To finance its activities, Hizballah conducts lucrative cocaine and money-laundering operations in Latin America, based primarily in the area known as the Triple Frontier, where the borders of Paraguay, Brazil, and Argentina meet. Lebanon, where the Iran-backed terrorist group is headquartered, has consistently provided shelter to these activities, as Emanuele Ottolenghi explains:

U.S. policy toward the Lebanese militant group continues to be incoherent. By flexing its muscles against Hizballah while supporting Lebanese state institutions that it has heavily penetrated or fully controls, the White House ends up undermining its own pursuit of the group’s illicit sources of finance.

This contradiction at the heart of American policy is now playing out in Paraguay, where the Lebanese embassy is attempting to block the extradition [to the U.S.] of the alleged Hizballah financier Nader Mohamad Farhat. . . . On May 17, while the U.S. Treasury was announcing new Hizballah designations, Paraguayan authorities raided . . . a currency-exchange house in Ciudad del Este . . . and arrested Farhat, its owner, for his role in an alleged $1.3 million drug-money-laundering scheme. Farhat is alleged to be a member of . . . the branch of Hizballah’s External Security Organization in charge of running overseas illicit-finance and-drug trafficking operations. . . .
Exclusive: German Islamic center raises money for Hezbollah
The Al-Mustafa community center in the city-state of Bremen in northern Germany is a major hub for raising funds for the EU and US designated terrorist organization Hezbollah in Lebanon, according to a German intelligence report reviewed by The Jerusalem Post on Thursday.

The Bremen intelligence agency's newly released report in June stated that the "The Al-Mustafa Community center supports Hezbollah in Lebanon, especially by collecting donations."

The Post uncovered the Shi'ite organization's bank account--the Bremen-based Sparkasse. The Bremen intelligence agency (the rough equivalent to Shin Bet) said there are approximately 60 Hezbollah supporters in the Al-Mustafa organization and "the Arab-Shi'ite association functions as a point of contact for Shi'ite Muslims in Bremen,especially those from Lebanon."

The intelligence document did not cite the amount of funds transferred from Hezbollah supporters in Bremen to Hezbollah in Lebanon. It is unclear if Germany is currently engaged in anti-terror finance covering Hezbollah funding streams in Bremen and Germany-wide.
Official: Iran may pull out of nuclear deal in coming weeks
The Iran nuclear deal is in "intensive care" ‎and Tehran is seriously considering withdrawing from ‎it, the country's deputy ‎foreign minister said Friday.‎

The Euronews‎ website quoted Abbas Araghchi as saying ‎that while Iran would like to preserve the deal, reached between Tehran and world powers in 2015, ‎it is in need of "serious adjustments."‎

The deputy foreign minister told the website that ‎the landmark deal "lost its balance" after ‎U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew from it on May 8 and decided to reimpose economic sanctions.

The deal, spearheaded by the U.S. under the leadership of former President Barack Obama, lifted crippling sanctions from Iran in exchange for curbs on Iran's controversial nuclear program.

‎"If the Europeans and other remaining participants of ‎the JCPOA are interested in Iran remaining in the ‎deal, they should compensate [for] the absence of ‎the U.S. and the reimposition of U.S. sanctions," he ‎said, referring to the pact by the acronym of its ‎official name, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of ‎Action.‎
Congress Seeks to Ban Iran From International Financial System
Leading members of Congress are urging the Trump administration to pressure world leaders to ban Iran from accessing international financial systems following revelations the former Obama administration secretly helped Tehran skirt international sanctions to potentially access billions in hard currency, according to a letter sent Thursday to the Treasury Departments.

Sen. Rob Portman (R., Ohio) and Rep. Ed Royce (R., Calif.) are petitioning the Trump administration to urge members of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), an international organization formed to combat money laundering, to put Iran back on its blacklist as a result of the country’s ongoing support for terrorism.

Iran was taken off the FATF blacklist as part of a package of incentives provided by the Obama administration to Iran in order to help pave the way for the landmark nuclear deal killed by President Trump earlier this year.
U.S. ambassador asks Germany: Stop Iranian airline from use of airspace
The new US ambassador to Germany, Richard Grenell, requested the German government to block Iran’s Mahan Air from flying within German airspace and deny it landing rights in the country because of the airline’s material support for terrorism.

In a meeting last week with a senior delegation from the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), Grenell said: “Here in Germany, I have asked the German government to support our efforts to stop an airline called Mahan Air from utilizing German airspace and airports. We know that Mahan Air has been used by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps [IRGC] as a mode of transport for weapons, resources and fighters, so we’re asking our allies to help us put a stop to it.”

The Trump administration designated the IRGC a terrorist organization in October. Canada’s House of Commons called last week for the IRGC to be classified a terrorist entity. German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s administration and the Bundestag have declined to take action against the IRGC.

“For 70 years, Israel has overcome every challenge it has faced,” Grenell said. “The miracle of Israel is an inspiration to the world. Jewish communities are defined not by their fears of the past, but by their hopes for the future.”
Iran Arrests Human Rights Lawyer after Executing Her Client
Iran has arrested a human rights lawyer after her client was executed earlier this week, Agence France-Presse reported Wednesday.

Citing Iran’s Fars News Agency, AFP reported that Zeinab Taheri was arrested, after asserting that her client, Mohammad Salas, who was executed Monday, was innocent. According to Fars, the reason for Taheri’s arrest was that she had made “false statements” and because of “her lies propagated online claiming (the defendant) was not guilty.”

Gholamhossein Esmaili, the chief justice of Tehran, was quoted by Fars as saying, “The female lawyer who recently claimed to be the defendant’s lawyer and who has gone hoarse saying he is innocent was basically not this person’s lawyer.”

Salas, a bus driver and an adherent of the Sufi branch of Islam, was convicted of driving his bus into a crowd of policemen, killing three, during disturbances between Sufis and Iranian authorities in February. While Sufis are not illegal in Iran, many in power consider their beliefs to be a “deviation.”

Human rights organization have condemned Salas’s trial and execution.
Turkey: Erdogan's "Holy War" Obsession
When non-Muslims deny Muslim minorities the rights that Muslim-majority countries systematically deny non-Muslim minorities, extremist Muslims in Turkey seem to have the habit of threatening non-Muslim lands with holy war.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who spoke of "a war between the cross and the crescent" because the Austrian government closed down seven mosques, does not seem to bother with any of those visible, documented cases of religious discrimination against non-Muslims and against Islam's minority sects.

Muslim leaders complain of travel bans on some Muslim nations, but many Muslim countries have travel bans against other Muslims in addition to banning Israelis.

We have lots of ideas, but we need more resources to be even more effective. Please donate today to help get the message out and to help defend Israel.

The official PA news agency Wafa "reports":

A group of Jewish fanatics harassed on Thursday Palestinian Muslim women worshippers at Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem’s Old City as Israeli police, who usually escort the fanatics during their provocative tour of the Muslim holy compound, stood by watching.

A video broadcast on the social media showed the Jewish fanatics sitting near the women in a provocative manner as police stood by.

Normally police would not allow any Palestinian, including security personnel of Al-Aqsa Mosque, from getting close to the fanatics or to follow them when they make their provocative tour of the compound during official visit hours for non-Muslims.

However, this time police allowed the Jewish extremists to closely provoke the Muslim women worshippers, a step that has been seen as an escalation in Jewish provocations in one of Islam's holiest sites.
Can you tell the nature of the "harassment" from the article?

Yes, Jews had the audacity to sit near Muslim women!

The article doesn't claim that the Jews spoke to them, or chanted towards them, or threatened them, or screamed at them, or touched them. Only that they sat - provocatively.

They even have video of the "harassment" - and the Jews are just sitting there. (At one point I see one gesture in a reaction, but in no way can I see anything that can remotely be called "harassment.")

We have lots of ideas, but we need more resources to be even more effective. Please donate today to help get the message out and to help defend Israel.
When the Government of Israel shows the world examples of Palestinian incitement, they have thousands of examples of explicit calls to violence  against Israelis from Palestinian leaders and officials.

The PLO tries to pretend that Israel is just as bad.

Here are some of their examples of "incitement" from May:

Israeli Public Security Minister, Gilad Erdan (Ynet, May 14, 2018)
“It is not about demonstrators, but saboteurs of a terrorist organization that threaten the security of the citizens of Israel. There is no country that allows a terrorist organization to send terrorists to infiltrate its territory, and all responsibility for their blood lies with the Hamas leadership, which, inspired by Nazism, sheds blood to distract people from its failure to run the Strip.”
Is there any threat against civilians there?
 Avigdor Liberman (Twitter, May 15, 2018):       
“Yesterday, tens of thousands of Israelis gathered in the Rabin Square for a music show. In Gaza, however, thousands gathered to infiltrate into Israel for terrorist acts. This is the difference between Israel's life culture and the death culture in Gaza.”
Is this inciting Israelis to attack Gazans? Is it inaccurate?

These are things that Hamas is proud of! And the PA says far worse things about Hamas...

Apparently, whenever an Israeli says something that the PLO doesn't like, it is "incitement." Even if the statements are against the UNHRC:

Prime Minister Netanyahu's Spokesperson, Ofir Gendelman (Twitter, May 18, 2018 )
“PM Netanyahu: There is nothing new under the sun. An organization that calls itself a Human Rights Council once again proved that it is hypocritical and biased and that its goal is to harm Israel and to support terrorism. But is has mostly proven that it is irrelevant.”
Where, exactly, is the incitement?
Ofir Gendelman (Twitter, May 19, 2018 )
“Hamas, the Palestinian ISIS and an internationally recognized terror org, now thanks the UNHRC, its commissioner & voting countries for their resolution.
When a terror org whose goal is to destroy a UN member state THANKS a UN body, you know that this UN body is morally bankrupt
I guess that Israel is inciting against the UN Human Rights Council.

The entire reason that the Negotiations Affairs Department of the PLO has this section of their website is to pretend that Israeli incitement is just like Arab antisemitic incitement. The content doesn't matter; they just point to it and say, "see?" and their fans believe it without question.

But look at the stuff in official PA television and other media every day, based on Palestinian Media Watch and MEMRI reports, and you can see what real incitement is.

We have lots of ideas, but we need more resources to be even more effective. Please donate today to help get the message out and to help defend Israel.
Here's a photo of Jewish refugees in an Israeli absorption camp in 1950. About 80% of the residents of these camps were Jews who were forced to flee from Arab countries.

The picture symbolizes how Israel took in hundreds of thousands of Jewish refugees and integrated them into Israeli society as full citizens.

This is in marked contrast with how Arab nations treated Arab refugees and other Arabs who fled Palestine in 1947 and 1948. Those people were not welcomed, not integrated into their host countries, and are to this day used as political pawns.

Wednesday was World Refugee Day. The viciously anti-Israel Congress of South African Trade Unions, posted on Twitter the photo of the Jews who are no longer refugees to illustrate the fate of Arabs who the world still calls refugees - still using them as pawns for political purposes:

Dozens of people pointed out to COSATU that the photo was not of Palestinian Arabs. They didn't care, because to the people who hate Israel, the truth is not important  - the propaganda is.

We have lots of ideas, but we need more resources to be even more effective. Please donate today to help get the message out and to help defend Israel.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

 Vic Rosenthal's Weekly Column

It’s impossible to write about anything except the fires.

Foreign media are concerned with other things, but in Israel only the arrest of a former government minister charged with spying for Iran has come close to dislodging the fires from the forefront of our consciousness.

The Arabs of Gaza, with the encouragement of Hamas and the other terrorist factions, are burning our country. They are doing with impunity, launching kites and helium balloons carrying flaming payloads, from far enough back from the border that they are difficult to stop with nonlethal means. Naturally they are doing it from civilian areas in the company of children, so that the IDF believes that the casualties from attacking them from the air would be unacceptable. Various countermeasures using drones have been tried, but they have only been partially effective.

For Israel it is an economic, environmental, and even spiritual catastrophe. Thousands of acres of farmland and nature preserves, crops, plants, and animals have gone up in smoke. Dozens of new fires are set every day, faster than firefighters can put them out. The area is choked from the smoke of the fires and the burning tires that the Arabs ignite in order to hide the operatives who approach the border fence to plant explosives or try to cut through it. It will take decades for the land to return to its previous condition. Some of the wildlife may be gone forever.

Israelis love agriculture and they love nature. These loves are deeply embedded in our culture; look at Israeli music, art, and poetry if you doubt it. Perhaps the only thing we love more is our children. To burn the land is to thrust a dagger into our hearts (something that Palestinians also do regularly in a more literal sense). The damage done by the fires is greater than the cost of the crops that are being destroyed, and even more than the irreparable environmental damage. It is a prolonged assault on the soul of the Jewish state, its reason for being – the love of the land.

The enemy knows this. That’s why they do it. The burning of southern Israel has zero strategic significance, but it is a massive psychological blow. It’s a tribute to their understanding of us and also to their endless hatred that they chose this tactic. Frustrated by their minimal success in killing Jews with rockets and mortars, and unable to overrun the border fence, they have been wildly successful with this low-tech weapon.

The IDF fears the legal consequences of taking serious action against the “civilians” launching kites and balloons, and so far has retaliated by bombing military targets belonging to Hamas. I haven’t heard of any casualties from these attacks, so it’s reasonable to assume that they are being evacuated each night. This seems to be fine with the army, which thinks it can pressure Hamas into stopping the incendiary attacks this way, but does not want to be drawn into a wider confrontation. This tactic was met with a barrage of 45 rockets and mortar shells fired at us from Gaza last night, so it may need rethinking.

Israel’s decision-makers are considering the economic and strategic costs, not the spiritual damage and psychological cost. They know that a wider war would be expensive, and would take our attention away from the objectively greater danger from Hezbollah and Iran in Lebanon and Syria. They don’t want to be accused of fighting another war without intending to win, but they also don’t want to conquer Gaza and become responsible for it. So they do nothing and look for a technological answer.

But if you always ignore provocations, if you allow them to turn into attrition, if you time and time repress your natural desire to retaliate, if you allow the enemy to take greater and greater liberties, eventually you find that you have allowed your honor, and more practically, your deterrence, to dribble away. Sometimes restraint is not a viable option.

This is one of those times. We should not be afraid to admit that they have wounded us. But on the other hand, we must not – we can’t afford to – allow them to deepen the wound.

So here is what we do. We issue an ultimatum to Hamas that the arson attacks must stop within 24 hours, or we will destroy every Hamas installation, we will turn their tunnel city into an inferno with bunker busters, and we’ll personally target their leadership and as many officials as we have Hellfire missiles for. For good measure, we’ll do the same to Islamic Jihad and any other terrorist faction there.

At the same time, we send a copy to the UN and the European Union. We explain to them that we will not allow the Gaza Arabs to burn any more of our country. We explain that we recognize that the UN and EU have made major investments – directly and via UNRWA – in creating and nurturing an entity that will hate and oppose the Jewish state, and that therefore we expect that they will be able to influence it to change its behavior. But if not, and if we have to crush it, we expect that the UN and EU will pick up the pieces, because we certainly won’t.

We publicize our offer in multiple languages, throughout the world. We emphasize that the outcome is up to Hamas, and the responsibility for casualties if they don’t comply is entirely theirs.

Would they take our offer? I have no idea.

We have lots of ideas, but we need more resources to be even more effective. Please donate today to help get the message out and to help defend Israel.
From Ian:

Caroline Glick: The Road to Peace Does Not Run Through Ramallah
Last week, hundreds of Palestinians in PA-controlled Ramallah took to the streets to demand that PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas end his economic war against Gaza. Rather than bow to the public’s demand, Abbas declared the protests illegal. His security forces attacked protesters with truncheons and tear gas.

To date, then, not only has the PA done nothing to help the people of Gaza, but the same regime that also uses every international stage to condemn Israel for the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, has taken active measures to deepen the suffering and poverty of the population.

Monday, PA leader Mahmoud Abbas’s spokesman released a statement responding to the Trump administration’s reported plan to help the people of Hamas-controlled Gaza. Promising that the Kushner-Greenblatt regional tour would end in abject failure, the PA spokesman insisted that the U.S. is trying to “divide the Gaza Strip from the West Bank under humanitarian pretexts.”

His statement also accused the U.S. of using the cause of “humanitarian aid or rehabilitation” as a means to defeat the Palestinian war against Israel by transforming the suffering of the people of Gaza into a “humanitarian issue rather than a political one.”

In other words, as far as the PA is concerned, Gaza’s humanitarian crisis is not something that is supposed to be dealt with on a practical level. No one is actually supposed to improve the lot of the residents of the Hamas-controlled enclave. Rather, Gaza is nothing more than a launching pad for human cannon fodder in the war against Israel. The purpose of the Palestinians’ existence in Gaza is to suffer and die to advance the cause of Israel’s annihilation. Anyone who treats the people of Gaza as human beings is harming the Palestinian cause.
Khaled Abu Toameh: The Palestinian Authority’s Policy of Denormalization
The Palestinian leadership and its NGO partners and supporters have distracted the international focus from addressing Palestinian economic development, liberalization, and infrastructural development. Instead, they have focused international attention on boycott and denormalization campaigns against Israel. Unlike much of the developing world, which has sought stronger economic relations in an age of technology, globalization, and economic integration, the Palestinian leadership has refused to develop its economy in conjunction with its economically thriving Israeli neighbor, who is potentially the prospective Palestinian state’s strongest trading partner.

Following the Oslo Accords, the Palestinians had the unique advantage of receiving aid from Israel, unlike other newly formed states. However, under the pretext of refusing to bolster Israel’s “occupation economy,” the Palestinian leadership has publicly declined to cooperate on joint projects with the Israeli government or the Israeli private sector that would benefit both economies.

Instead, the Palestinian leadership has been complicit in its own economic stagnation, due to questionable business ventures and investments that have largely failed to benefit the Palestinian people, and instead have denormalized relations with Israel.

The BDS movement and the Palestinian and foreign NGOs that subscribe to its destructive doctrine have also worsened the economic situation for Palestinian workers, by limiting access to Israel, the largest labor market for Palestinians. Instead of allowing its own people to find well-paying jobs, including salaries that could be taxed by the Palestinian Authority, and encouraging disposable incomes that could be reinvested in Palestinian services, the Palestinian leadership has operated not as a developing state, but a corrupt and even failing regime. This fact has long been evident to large sectors of Palestinian society. They recognize that the Palestinian leadership’s failure on the economic and political fronts has resulted in their attempts to refocus the debate on attacking Israel as an illegitimate, apartheid, colonial implant that is the source of all Palestinian ills.
Nikki Haley Blames Human Rights Orgs for Undermining Efforts to Reform U.N. Human Rights Council
The New York Times reports that Haley criticized the groups for opposing her efforts to garner support in the U.N. to reform the council. One of the groups Haley sent the letter to, Human Rights Watch, opposed Haley's push for a U.N. General Assembly vote on the reforms.

"The risk was that it would have opened a Pandora’s box of even worse problems," Human Rights Watch U.N. director Louis Charbonneau said.

Haley told the groups that they have aligned themselves on the side of Russia and China, which possess a murky record on human rights.

"You put yourself on the side of Russia and China, and opposite the United States, on a key human rights issue," she wrote. "You should know that your efforts to block negotiations and thwart reform were a contributing factor in the U.S. decision to withdraw from the council."

The Times reports that Haley grew frustrated with the groups after they sent a joint letter to member states of the U.N., asking them to oppose Haley's resolution.

JPost Editorial: A moral move
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres voiced regret over the US decision, saying, “The UN’s human rights architecture plays a very important role in the promotion and protection of human rights worldwide.”

Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch, criticized the move. “The Trump administration’s withdrawal is a sad reflection of its one-dimensional human rights policy: Defending Israeli abuses from criticism takes precedence above all else,” he said. “All Trump seems to care about is defending Israel.”

Washington’s withdrawal leaves the UNHRC in a predicament, because the US has traditionally been the prime defender of human rights around the globe. Still, the US joined the council only in 2009 under president Barack Obama and its term on the council was due to end next year, when it was to revert to observer status.

“The UNHRC has perverted its stated mandate by serially abusing Israel, while horrific human rights abuses around the world receive scant attention, if at all,” reads a statement issued by Rabbis Marvin Hier and Abraham Cooper, the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s dean and associate dean. “It consistently makes a mockery of its own mandate by serving as a rubber-stamping anti-Israel kangaroo court, while providing diplomatic safe haven for state sponsors of terrorism and human rights abuse.”

Let’s hope the US decision triggers a reassessment by the UNHRC of its mission and a real change in its review of human rights violations around the world in which Israel is not the focus.
The Decreasing Effectiveness of Hamas Terrorism
The effectiveness of Palestinian suicide bombings during the Second Intifada came to an end after Israel reconquered Area A in the Palestinian Authority in 2002, with nearly daily penetrations and arrests of would-be terrorists since then.

The destruction of both Hamas and Islamic Jihad sanctuaries that enabled them to plan elaborate suicide bombings - coupled with the smashing of its human infrastructure through incessant arrests of its operatives - considerably reduced their capabilities.

The decline in suicide bombings was followed by the spectacular rise from 2004 in missile launchings and by continuous improvement in the payload they carried and in the distance they traversed, directly affecting hundreds of thousands of Israeli civilians who lived in major cities.

As confirmed by the third bout between Hamas and Israel in the summer of 2014, missile terrorism became less effective over time due to Israel's technological developments. In 2014, only two of the 72 Israeli deaths during the 55 days of fighting resulted from missile launchings.

By then, Hamas had figured out that tunnel attacks could become a major substitute for missile launchings. But tunnel terrorism has also been essentially foiled by technological developments.

It is against the backdrop of the never-ending quest to find substitutes to increasingly ineffective terrorist measures that Hamas' innovation of kite terrorism can be understood. Presently, the results are merely destructive rather than lethal.
Hamas paid parents to lie about Gaza baby's death, indictment says
Hamas paid a Gazan family to falsely claim their baby died from inhaling tear gas used by Israel during violent riots at the Gaza Strip border last month, according to a relative.

The family of Layla Ghandour, who was reported to be eight or nine months old, initially claimed that she had died because of tear gas fired by the Israeli military to dispel mobs attempting to breach the border dividing Israel and Gaza, the Times of Israel reported.

However, 20-year-old Mahmoud Omar, the baby's cousin, told Israeli authorities during an interrogation that the baby died of a similar blood disease that killed her brother in 2017, according to an indictment that prosecutors filed Thursday.

Omar, who was indicted for trying to infiltrate Israel and take part in terrorist activities, said that Hamas' leader in Gaza, Yahya Sinwar, paid the baby's family the equivalent of $2,206 to lie about the circumstances of her death.

The baby's mother, Mariam al-Ghandour, said, "The Israelis killed her," in an AFP article published May 15. The Times of Israel noted her funeral "was filmed and featured on global TV news broadcasts and newspaper front pages."
Hamas paid Leila al-Ghandour's family to blame Israel for her death

The dangerous weaponization of children
One cannot separate the macabre use the Palestinians make of their children as part of their struggle to destroy Israel from the heated discussions on the separation of the children of illegal immigrants to the United States from their parents.

True, the Palestinians sacrifice their children on the altar of Jew-hatred when they send them and sometimes even drag them to a confrontation with the Israel Defense Forces, knowing full well the risk involved.

Those who enter the United States illegally do not turn their children into human shields of the Palestinian kind. These immigrants risk a great deal when they head out on their path but they are not motivated by an ideological urge to sacrifice their children to destroy the U.S. Many simply hope to improve their families' living conditions by moving to the wealthy neighbor to their north.

They are also obviously aware that taking children with them across the border illegally will increase their chances of bending U.S. immigration laws because who would be so heartless as to withstand the cries and smiles of day-old babies and shut the gates of the land of opportunity in their faces? It is in this manner that these children are turned into tools.
Hamas prepared to make ‘comprehensive deal’ with Israel – report
The Hamas terror group is prepared to make a “comprehensive deal” with Israel that will include returning the Israelis it is holding in the Gaza Strip in exchange for an airport and seaport, the Lebanese-based Al-Akhbar newspaper reported Thursday.

The pro-Hezbollah news site said that Hamas leaders have been speaking with officials in Cairo in efforts to ease the dire economic situation in the coastal enclave. The talks reportedly became more urgent as tit-for-tat attacks between Israel and Hamas have escalated in recent days.

Gaza faces a lack of electricity, drinkable water, and food. Israel and Egypt maintain a blockade on the Strip to prevent Hamas from importing weapons and other goods that could be used to build fortifications or tunnels.

Israel blames Hamas for the dire situation, accusing the terror group of diverting millions in aid to purchase weapons, dig attack tunnels, manufacture rockets and train its military wing, instead of using the money for the welfare of its people.

The situation has also been made worse by an ongoing dispute between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, which has cut salaries it pays to workers in Gaza and has imposed various sanctions, including cutting of payments for electricity supplies to Gaza.
Hamas, Islamic Jihad claim responsibility for Gaza rocket barrage
The Gaza-based Hamas and Islamic Jihad terror groups claimed responsibility for the rocket barrage at Israel early Wednesday, warning they will not allow Israeli strikes in the Palestinian enclave to go unanswered.

The Israeli military said 45 rockets and mortars were launched at southern Israeli towns. The salvo came after Israeli jets struck Hamas positions in response to the flying of incendiary kites and balloons from Gaza into Israel, sparking some 20 brush fires Tuesday.

In a joint statement, the military wings of Hamas and allied Islamic Jihad said late Wednesday that they had “targeted seven Israeli military positions near Gaza… in response to continued Israeli aggression against resistance sites in Gaza.”

“We are committed to the formula of an attack for an attack. We will not allow the enemy to dictate a new formula,” the terror groups said, blaming Israel for the flare-up.

At least six rockets fired from Gaza early Wednesday landed inside Israeli communities adjacent to the border, including one that struck just outside a kindergarten, Israeli officials said. Most of the others landed in open fields in southern Israel.

Sappers defuse incendiary device flown into Israel by inflated condoms
Police sappers on Thursday disarmed an incendiary device flown into Israeli territory from the Gaza Strip using inflated condoms.

The device, constructed from flammable materials attached to two condoms, landed in a community in the Shaar Hanegev region of southern Israel. In a statement, police said the device was disarmed safely and did not spark a fire.

In the nearly three months of Palestinian demonstrations along the Gaza border, protesters have hurled grenades, improvised explosives and rocks at soldiers, burned tires and flown incendiary kites and balloons into Israeli territory, sparking hundreds of fires. The blazes in recent weeks have destroyed hundreds of dunams of forests, burned crops and killed wildlife and livestock.

Some of the balloons flown over the border recently were armed with small explosive devices, which seem to have not yet caused injury because of repeated warnings by police and local government officials not to approach them.

These “arson balloons” have presented a significant challenge to the IDF, who up until recently had been using drones and other high-tech solutions to stop the increasing number of devices flown into Israel.
PreOccupiedTerritory: Palestinians Running Out Of Innocent Things To Weaponize (satire)
Residents of this coastal Mediterranean territory warned today that there remain few ideas or objects untouched by hate and violence for them to appropriate and transform into agents of death and destruction.

Leaders of the Hamas movement that governs Gaza and citizens on the street alike confessed they have spent the last several years scouring stores, homes, and the internet for things associated with childhood, playfulness, and harmless fun, for purposes of turning those things into weapons against Israel, but there appears a dearth of such objects, ideas, and activities that have yet to undergo such transformation at the hand of Palestinians.

“We’ve already done children – that was a no-brainer,” remarked Yahya Sinwar, leader of Hamas. “But that was hardly our innovation; child soldiers have been a thing forever. But motherhood – check. Booby-trapped toys when the IDF comes in – check. Kites – check. There’s almost nothing we haven’t turned into a weapon of some sort, but we’re running out of new ideas. Without the surge of pride in devising new and different ways to weaponize pure, good things, we risk the entire Palestinian nationalist movement.”
JCPA: The Gaza Strip and “the Deal of the Century”
Abbas is afraid of possible betrayal by the Arab leaders over the Palestinian problem because, for them, the Iranian danger takes priority.

Therefore, the senior officials of the Palestinian Authority make sure to issue regular reminders through the media that not only is the PA chairman opposed to “the deal of the century,” but so are all of the leaders of the Arab countries.

Nabil Shaath, Mahmoud Abbas’ adviser for international affairs, told the Al-Hayat newspaper on June 17, 2018, that the Palestinians relied on the resistance of the Arab leaders to “the deal of the century” and that they promised to oppose any diplomatic plan that was not acceptable to the Palestinian leadership.

PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas has been working in recent months to build a Palestinian, Arab, and international consensus to torpedo “the deal of the century,” the motto of which is “there’s no state in Gaza, and there’s no state without Gaza.”

The Trump administration is now working hard to break up this consensus. Hamas terror in the Gaza Strip is increasing the concerns of the leaders of the Arab world who want quiet, and it is most likely that they will cooperate with the ideas of President Trump.
US envoy fumes at Palestinians for rejecting Gaza aid drive
US President Donald Trump’s Middle East peace envoy accused the Palestinians of “hypocrisy” Thursday, after a Palestinian Authority official said American efforts to provide humanitarian relief to Gaza were aimed at separating the Palestinian enclave from the West Bank.

“Hamas & the PA, who have been fighting one another for over a decade, are each cynically claiming that the US is trying to divide Gaza and the West Bank, instead of acknowledging that we are trying to help the Palestinians in Gaza,” Jason Greenblatt wrote on Twitter early Thursday morning.

“What hypocrisy,” he added.

Greenblatt and senior White House official Jared Kushner are currently on a tour of the Middle East, where they are discussing the Trump administration’s efforts to put forward an Israeli-Palestinian peace plan with allies in the region.
Family of fallen soldier held by Hamas asks EU to hold Gaza aid
The family of fallen IDF soldier Hadar Goldin, who was killed during 2014's Operation Protective Edge, is continuing its efforts to return his body as well as that of Staff Sgt. Oron Shaul and Israeli captives Hisham al-Sayed and Avera Mengistu to Israel.

The Goldin family is at the European Parliament in Brussels this week to enlist international support for their efforts. Hadar's parents, Leah and Simcha and his twin brother Tzur have met with senior members of the European Commission including its vice president and EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini in recent days.

On Wednesday, the European Parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee held a special event with the assistance of the Israeli Embassy to the EU. Some 70 people, including parliamentarians from across the political spectrum, attended the event in what was a rare show of unity concerning Israel.

Speaking at the event, the Goldin family said any resolution to the humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip must be bilateral and include the return of Israelis held captive by Hamas.
EU: Hamas violating international law by holding Goldin’s body
The Foreign Affairs Committee of the EU ruled that Hamas and the Palestinian Authority are violating international humanitarian law by holding on to the body of captured IDF Lieutenant Hadar Goldin.

At a special session attended by the Goldin family, representatives of Romania, Hungary and the Netherlands insisted that all humanitarian assistance to Gaza be conditioned on the return of captured IDF soldiers and civilians held by Hamas.
Spanish city councilors call to declare Israeli officials 'persona non grata'
Councilors at the city of Pamplona, the capital of the Navarre province in northern Spain, have called on the Spanish government to stop its arms trade with Israel and on their municipality to declare Israeli officials as "persona non grata" until Israel stops its "oppressive policy against the Palestinian people."

The resolution passed by the heads of the factions in the Pamplona municipality also expressed support of the Palestinian right of return and the Palestinians' right to hold a peaceful protest "which has been suppressed with force by the Israeli army."

The Pamplona municipality condemned the IDF for killing at least 100 Palestinians and wounding thousands during the "non-violent" "March of Return" demonstrations and offered its support and condolences to the families of the victims.

The resolution also called on the European Union's governments to increase the pressure and impose sanctions on Israel to force it to stop its "aggression" against the Palestinian people.

They further slammed the US decision to move its embassy to "occupied Jerusalem," describing this move as extremely dangerous and in contravention of international law.
Sara Netanyahu indicted for misusing $100,000 in state funds to buy gourmet food
State attoneys filed an indictment against Sara Netanyahu Thursday for alleged misuse of some $100,000 in state funds.

Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit and State Prosecutor Shai Nitzan had already notified the prime minister’s wife of their intention to file charges in recent months.

Negotiations for her to return a portion of the diverted money and confess to the charges in exchange for avoiding prosecution broke down when the prime minister’s wife reportedly refused to pay the sums requested by prosecutors, telling her lawyers she’d rather go to jail than reimburse the state. Her lawyers have denied such reports.

In Thursday’s indictment, the prime minister’s wife is charged along with Ezra Saidoff, a former deputy director general of the Prime Minister’s Office, for fraud along with breach of trust.

The two are accused of fraudulently charging some NIS 359,000 ($100,000) in gourmet meals to the state’s expense between 2010 and 2013, violating laws which ban the ordering of prepared food when a chef is already employed at the Prime Minister’s Residence.
IDF demolishes home of Palestinian terrorist who killed two soldiers
Israel’s military destroyed the home of Palestinian terrorist Alaa Kabha from the West Bank village of Barta’a, who murdered two IDF soldiers in a vehicular ramming attack in March.

Troops from the Menashe Territorial Brigade along with Border Police officers and the Civil Administration carried out the demolition of Kabha’s home, located on the third floor of an apartment building.

According to the Palestinian Wafa News Agency, the demolition of Kabha’s 150-square meter apartment, in a building owned by his father Rateb Kabha, caused damage to other apartments in the building.

On March 16, Kabha fatally rammed his car into brigade commander officer Capt. Ziv Daus, 21, and Sgt. Netanel Kahalani, 20, near the settlement of Mevo Dotan. Daus, from the central Israeli town of Azor, and Kahalani, from the northern community of Elyakim, were killed instantly.

Kabha, 26, was lightly to moderately hurt in the attack and evacuated to the Hillel Yaffe Medical Center in Hadera, where he was interrogated by the Shin Bet security service.
Bill to criminalize some filming of IDF soldiers clears first Knesset hurdle
Legislation criminalizing the filming of Israeli soldiers engaged in some military activities cleared its first hurdle in the Knesset Wednesday ahead of expected revisions meant to give it legal backing.

The bill, which passed its first reading in a 45-42 vote, would outlaw the recording of soldiers carrying out their duties with the aim of demoralizing them or harming Israel’s security.

The draft legislation will now head to committee before coming up for the second and third plenum readings it must clear to become law.

“For many years already the state of Israel has witnessed the troubling phenomenon of the documenting IDF soldiers… by anti-Israel and pro-Palestinian groups,” an explanation of the bill states.

“In many cases the organizations spend whole days near IDF troops and impatiently wait for activity that be documented in a misleading and biased way and by which cast shame on IDF soldiers,” it adds.

Yisrael Beytenu MK Robert Ilatov, who proposed the bill with backing from Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, said ahead of the vote the legislation is necessary to prevent soldiers from “hostile elements” who seek to interfere with their duties and disgrace them.

“The soldiers we dispatch should not be at the front lines of the BDS organizations, and to not allow you, those who support these organizations, to slander the state of Israel,” he told the Knesset.
'Radical anti-Zionist organizations turn cameras into weapons'
Over 20 wounded IDF veterans on Wednesday sent a letter to Coalition Chairman MK David Amsalem (Likud) urging him to pressure the coalition to vote in favor of a bill prohibiting the use of cameras to harass IDF soldiers.

The letter, penned by Chairman of the Wounded IDF Veterans Forum Liran Baroch, was sent to the coalition whip ahead of bill's preliminary vote, which is scheduled for Wednesday.

"We, wounded veterans of the IDF, call on you to exert all your pressure [as Coalition Chairman] in order to ensure that the bill is approved," the letter stated. "In the face of unrelenting terrorism, there is no compromise and we must do all in our power to ensure that those we wish to harm IDF soldiers do not succeed."

"As someone who lost his eye during an operational activity, I was horrified to learn that de-legitimization organizations have been operating for the past decade against IDF soldiers with impunity. These organizations film the soldiers and upload the videos to be used as a source of information for terrorist organizations.
PMW: PA official admits there's no "proof" Arafat was “murdered by poisoning”
For years, the Palestinian Authority has been spreading the libel that Israel murdered Yasser Arafat with poison. The PA propaganda has been so successful that even small children discuss the “poisoning by the Jews” with the host of a PA TV children’s show:
Palestinian boy Adnan: "The Jews put poison in his food, and then he died."
Official PA TV host: "Bravo! That is very important information. Arafat was poisoned to death. Correct, his food was poisoned and he died as a Martyr. Bravo, very clever, my friend Adnan."
[Official PA TV, The Best Home, Nov. 17, 2017]

After years of cementing this libel in the Palestinian consciousness, now a top PA official has admitted that there is no “proof” to back up the claim that Arafat was “murdered by poisoning.” However, in spite of the lack of evidence, he added that he and "all the members of the Palestinian people are completely convinced that leader Yasser Arafat died as a Martyr by poisoning."

Interviewed on PA TV, Spokesman of the PA Security Forces Adnan Al-Damiri stated that “the reports from Switzerland, Russia, and other states in the world didn’t provide clear proof on the matter”:
PMW: Read like a Murderer - PA honors murderer of 3 as role model to encourage reading
On Oct. 13, 2015, Palestinian terrorists Baha Alyan and Bilal Ghanem boarded a bus in Jerusalem and attacked passengers with a gun and a knife, murdering 3 people. Alyan was shot and killed by an Israeli security guard while Ghanem was wounded and later imprisoned.

Before deciding to become a terrorist and murder Israelis, Baha Alyan once organized a “human reading chain” in Jerusalem. Despite Alyan being a murderer - or perhaps precisely because Alyan became a murderer of Israelis - the PA is now using him as a role model to encourage reading.

In the company of Mahmoud Alyan, the father of terrorist Baha Alyan, PA Minister of Culture Ehab Bessaiso launched the “National Reading Day events” earlier this year. Referring to terrorist Alyan’s reading chain in 2014, the PA minister said that because “Martyrs and prisoners” had been among the initiators of that chain, the PA Ministry of Culture has declared March 16 National Reading Day “out of loyalty to their memory and the Palestinian national struggle, and out of our absolute belief that culture is resistance”:
Minister Bessaiso: “They formed the longest human reading chain around the walls of Jerusalem. This happened on March 16, 2014. Among those who initiated this chain were Martyrs (Shahids) and prisoners. Therefore, and out of loyalty to their memory and the Palestinian national struggle, and out of our absolute belief that culture is resistance, we in the Ministry of Culture have decided... to declare March 16 each year National Reading Day in all the homeland’s districts. This is out of loyalty to the Martyrs and to everyone that believes that culture can remain one of the central pillars of the national resistance.” [Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, March 17, 2018]

The PA Ministry of Culture had invited murderer Alyan’s father to speak at the event, and he also joined the minister for a group photo:

Report: Rafah Crossing to remain open indefinitely
The administration of the Rafah Border Crossing between Egypt and Gaza said on Tuesday that the crossing will remain open until further notice, Yediot Aharonot reported.

The move will enable residents of Gaza to enter Egypt and come back without waiting.

Egyptian authorities have kept the Rafah crossing virtually sealed since a terrorist attack in the Sinai Peninsula in October 2014, though they have temporarily reopened the crossing several times since that attack, mostly for the passage of humanitarian cases.

The crossing has been open since the start of the month of Ramadan, under the orders of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, in order to ease the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

Egypt has kept the crossing closed as it blames Hamas terrorists for providing the weapons for the lethal 2014 attack, which killed 30 soldiers, through one of its smuggling tunnels under the border to Sinai. Hamas denies the allegations.

IsraellyCool: Lying Hamas-hole in the Hotseat
These days, Tim Sebastian, formerly of the BBC’s HARDTalk, asks the tough questions on DW’s Conflict Zone. Many Israeli politicians have been subjected to his grilling, but now it is the turn of Osama Hamdan, Hamas’ top representative in Lebanon.

Don’t try a “drink every time he lies” drinking game while watching this. You’ll be dead of alcohol poisoning within minutes

Sohrab Ahmari: Game of Peacock Thrones
Perhaps the opposition forces will conjure a leader at the right moment and in organic fashion. Or maybe an ambitious would-be shah will emerge from among the security apparatus. Yet the most plausible current candidate is probably Reza Pahlavi, Reza Shah’s exiled grandson, whose prestige and popularity have spiked in recent years, as Iranians born after the revolution reckon with what they lost to their parents’ collective folly. Among the revolutionary slogans in currency today, the one with the greatest political meaning and potential is “Long live Reza Shah!” The slogan is pregnant with nostalgia, yes, but also with political imagination.

Second, Iranian political culture demands a source of continuity with Persian history. The anxieties associated with modernity and centuries of historical discontinuity drove Iranians into the arms of Khomeini and his bearded minions, who promised a connection to Shiite tradition. Khomeinism turned out to be a bloody failure, but there is scant reason to imagine the thirst for continuity has been quenched. To weather the storms of modernity, Iranians need a point of orientation—perhaps a mast to tie themselves to. Islamism wasn’t it. Iranian nationalism, however, could be the answer, and, judging by the nationalist tone of the current upheaval, it is the one the people have already hit upon.

When protestors chant “We Will Die to Get Iran Back,” “Not Gaza, Not Lebanon, My Life Only for Iran,” and “Let Syria Be, Do Something for Me,” they are expressing a positive vision of Iranian nationhood: No longer do they wish to pay the price for the regime’s Shiite hegemonic ambitions. Iranian blood should be spilled for Iran, not Gaza, which for most Iranians is little more than a geographic abstraction. It is precisely its nationalist dimension that makes the current revolt the most potent the mullahs have yet faced. Nationalism, after all, is a much stronger force, and the longing for historical continuity runs much deeper in Iran than liberal-democratic aspiration. Westerners who wish to see a replay of Central and Eastern Europe in 1989 in today’s Iran will find the lessons of Iranian history hard and distasteful, but Iranians and their friends who wish to see past the Islamic Republic must pay heed.
Iran insists US stop opposing Israeli nuke disarmament
Iran has announced a list of 15 demands for improving relations with the United States, including a US return to the 2015 nuclear accord, in response to a similar list of demands made by Washington last month.

In an article in a state-owned newspaper Thursday, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif called on the US to stop providing arms to the “invaders of Yemen,” referring to Saudi Arabia, and to drop its opposition to the nuclear disarmament of Israel.

Israel is believed by foreign governments and media to be the Middle East’s sole nuclear power, but has long refused to confirm or deny that it has nuclear weapons.

Zarif’s article came in response to demands laid out in May by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who called for a wholesale change in Iran’s military and regional policies, threatening the “strongest sanctions in history” if it refused.

Pompeo outlined 12 conditions that the US considers prerequisites for any firm agreement with the Islamic Republic, including giving up ballistic missiles, ending support for terror and halting threats against Israel, among other demands.

He said the length of the list was simple testament to the “scope of the malign behavior of Iran.”

IsraellyCool: Zionist Distractor of Doomᵀᴹ Puts Iranian Player off his Game
I am being tongue-in-cheek, although I am sure the Iranian regime will actually somehow blame Israel for this:

MILAD MOHAMMADI bizarrely attempted a somersault thrown-in during the dying stages of Iran’s defeat to Spain.

The 24-year-old kissed the ball and pointed to the sky before he tried to send the ball into the box.

Despite landing the flip, the Iran substitute got his execution all wrong and had to retake the throw.

Mohammadi lost his nerve and then decided to throw the ball backwards and not into the penalty area.

As a result, Spain had time to organise themselves and they easily dealt with the attack – Mohammadi wasted almost 30 seconds with time running out.

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