August 15, 2022

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01/02 Links: Col. Kemp: Is Biden’s Legacy Really Going to Be the Dismantling of Democracies and the Free World?; Where’s the afterglow from Gantz’s meeting with Abbas?

From Ian:

Dore Gold: The UN’s Reinvention of Jerusalem’s Past

The UN is at it again. On November 26, 2021, the General Assembly adopted a resolution referring to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, where the Temple of Solomon once stood, only by its Arabic name, the Haram al-Sharif. From the standpoint of the UN, Christian and Jewish connections to the area were non-existent.

For years now, the UN’s Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has been systematically pushing false narratives about Jerusalem that deny the historic connection of the Jewish people to their holy city. In May 2016, UNESCO decided that the Western Wall Plaza should be designated with quotation marks after adopting the term Al-Buraq Plaza for the very same area with no qualification.

UNESCO reaffirmed this language in subsequent years. These distortions, which were blatant violations of its own statute, have penetrated the discourse about Jerusalem in the international media, in universities, and in world parliaments. What was axiomatic 200 years ago is now called into question.

So many people speak about Jerusalem but so few really understand it.

I’ve been a diplomat for over three decades, serving on the front lines of Israel’s struggle over the Holy City. 30 years, and I’m still surprised by the scale of disinformation and by the depth of ignorance regarding the Holy City. The ignorance in the face of overwhelming evidence of its historical past. The ignorance regarding historical facts, even recent history.

It’s been 50 years since the reunification of Jerusalem and while across the Middle East holy sites are destroyed, in Jerusalem they’re protected. And yet Israel’s legitimacy is questioned time and time again.

Col. Richard Kemp: Is Biden’s Legacy Really Going to Be the Dismantling of Democracies and the Free World?

Biden inflicted untold damage on the free world by his catastrophic surrender in Afghanistan, demonstrating to America’s enemies and friends alike that, under his administration, the US was no longer willing to stand by its allies nor to protect its own vital national interests.

Now Biden is planning discussions in early 2022 between Russia and selected NATO members to “defuse” the situation [Russia threatening the Ukraine]. Can he really believe that any negotiations short of capitulation to Russian demands would satisfy Putin or achieve anything? So-called diplomacy down the barrel of 90,000 Russian guns looks a lot like even more appeasement.

Biden has failed to respond to Iranian attacks on Saudi Arabia, Iranian aggression against Israel and even Iranian attacks on US forces in Syria and Iraq. Iran’s contempt for Biden was further displayed last week in the launch of multiple ballistic missiles during manoeuvres that Iranian commanders explicitly said were intended to threaten Israel.

In the face of Iranian nuclear provocation, Biden’s officials have refrained from any threat of military action — taking off the table the only truly effective deterrent against regimes that respect strength alone.

Biden’s policies of appeasement towards Iran and Russia are bad enough. But the greatest threat to the free world today comes from China. Biden has a long record of appeasing Beijing.

Biden’s administration has projected only confusion over China’s ambitions against Taiwan. The president twice suggested the US might be willing to defend the country in the event of Chinese invasion, with his comments immediately walked back by officials… Similarly mixed messages coming from London led the Argentinian junta to believe Britain, despite its vast military superiority, would not fight to defend the Falkland Islands on the other side of the world, and actually encouraged the 1982 invasion.

“One of [Biden’s] first acts on assuming the presidency was to shut down the investigations into the origins of Covid-19 — including the one I led at the State Department in 2020, which presented troubling scientific and circumstantial evidence on the secret activities of the WIV [Wuhan Institute of Virology] that bolster the lab-leak theory”. — Dr David Asher, who spearheaded the State Department task force investigating the origins of Covid-19 and the role of the Chinese government, Hudson Institute, November 17, 2021

None of Biden’s acts of appeasement are isolated to their targets alone; they are widely observed and cumulative in effect. They embolden America’s enemies and unnerve its friends, potentially fracturing alliances that are vital to defending democracy. So much damage has already been done in just one year that even were Biden to change course, his legacy might well be the dismantling of democracies and the free world.

Yisrael Medad: There is Jewish and there is Arab violence

Over the past several months, the pro-Palestinian chorus has been pushing the theme of “settler violence” running rampant in the West Bank. A search using Google shows that these reports say the violence has “risen,” “increased” and “spiked” and that there has been an “upsurge” in violence by Israeli settlers.

In fact, if one reviews the various websites of such organizations and news platforms, which all feed into the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt), the theme is a staple of their messaging. One can even read a statement from the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor asserting “state-sponsored violence and attacks” that were mostly “executed with full protection from the Israeli army.”

That body, however, is chaired by Richard Falk, who has been accused of manipulating anti-Semitic memes and whose reports for the United Nations as its Human Rights Council special rapporteur were condemned in years past by the United States.

Incidents do occur; no one denies that.

They are condemned by the official representative bodies that represent the Jewish residents in the West Bank. The questions, though, are how many are there, who initiates them, is the reported damage correct and what are the true overall statistics and context of violence from both sides.

As Jonathan Tobin, of JNS, recently observed, “There is something wrong if a few Jews throwing stones is considered far more important than the fact that attacks on Jews in the same areas are more or less the national sport of Palestinians.” He points to a double standard whereby proportionally fewer Jewish attacks gain greater coverage while “exponentially greater volumes of Palestinian violence is considered either unremarkable or somehow justified.”

Indeed, the data made available by the Israel Police point to something remarkable – the number of incidents of Jewish violence is decreasing. From 2019 to 2021, there has been a 61.1% drop in so-called price-tag attacks. Moreover, the number of indictments of Jewish extremists has doubled from 16 to 32 over the past year. That is not the picture the pro-Palestinian groups wish you to see.

Another factor that is underplayed is the above-mentioned volume of Arab violence in the same area. The Rescuers Without Borders paramedical organization is the first responders unit on the scene of incidents. They provide first aid and ambulance services. In the past two and a half months they reported 315 rock-throwing incidents and 50 firebombs tossed at Jewish targets in the West Bank. That is an average of eight each day. Just last night, in East Jerusalem’s Silwan neighborhood, dozens of firebombs were thrown at Jewish homes.

The IDF data indicates that in 2020 there were 1,500 rock-throwing incidents, 229 firebombs tossed, 31 shootings, nine stabbings, 541 guns and rifles were seized and 330 knives were recovered.

The Shin Bet security agency recorded over 100 Palestinian terror attacks in the West Bank in October 2021. In 2020, it reported almost 800 acts of Palestinian terror; an additional 424 “significant attacks” were thwarted.

UK warned it would recognize Palestine if Israel annexed West Bank, book reveals

The United Kingdom’s ambassador to the United States warned the Trump administration in June 2020 that if Israel went forward with plans to annex large parts of the West Bank, London would officially recognize the State of Palestine, a new book has revealed.

The message was passed along by Karen Pierce in a meeting she held with then-US president Donald Trump’s Mideast peace envoy Avi Berkowitz and Iran special envoy Brian Hook on June 12, 2020, Israeli journalist Barak Ravid wrote in his book “Trump’s Peace.”

Berkowitz and Hook were dispatched to meet with Pierce by then-senior White House adviser Jared Kushner. While the Trump administration was being inundated by calls from world leaders warning the US against allowing then-prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu to go forward with plans to begin annexing parts of the West Bank on July 1, 2020, it was the response from the UK that went further and was most surprising to the Americans, the book claimed.

Ravid speculated that the UK recognizing Palestine would likely have led other countries in Europe such as France and Spain to do the same — a domino effect of legitimacy for the Palestinian Authority that Israel has long feared.

Netanyahu announced his plans to annex large parts of the West Bank at the start of 2020, ostensibly under the auspices of the Trump peace plan — though Ravid has reported that the administration was caught off guard by the move and strongly opposed it.

The book suggests that while Kushner was not supportive of the annexation move, the feeling in the administration at the time was that there was no way to stop Netanyahu from carrying it out.

Up to a third of Israelis predicted to get COVID in next 3 weeks; tests running out

A leading health expert advising the government predicted Sunday morning that one out of every three or four Israelis will be infected with the Omicron variant of the coronavirus over the next three weeks, cautioning that most won’t know they’ve been infected because the country is quickly running out of test kits.

Testing facilities across the country were inundated with huge crowds on Sunday as thousands of Israelis lined up on foot or in cars to get tested, with many waiting hours to be swabbed.

Health Ministry figures published Sunday morning showed that 4,197 new cases were confirmed on Saturday, a figure representing reduced testing on weekends, with the rate of positive tests rising to 4.57 percent. Daily infections in Israel have spiked from under 1,000 new cases some 10 days ago to almost 5,500 on Friday, and active cases have almost tripled in a week to 31,958. The total confirmed infections since the start of the pandemic stand at close to 1.4 million.

However, serious cases have seen a far more moderate increase, from 77 on December 22 to 110 on Sunday. The death toll remained at 8,244. There have been four COVID-related deaths in the country since December 21.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said Sunday at the outset of the weekly cabinet meeting that there will soon be tens of thousands of daily infections. He hailed far-reaching travel restrictions imposed in recent weeks, saying they delayed Omicron’s arrival and enabled Israel to study the outbreaks in South Africa, Britain, the United States and other places, effectively “seeing into the future.”

Health Ministry approves Merck’s anti-COVID pill, the second okayed in Israel

The Health Ministry announced Sunday that it has approved Merck’s anti-COVID pill, less than two weeks after the US Food and Drug Administration approved the medication for use.

The ministry said it inked a deal with Merck to purchase molnupiravir, which is being sold under the name Lagevrio, with the first shipment expected to arrive in the coming days. It didn’t specify how many pills it agreed to buy.

A source told the Kan public broadcaster that enough pills were bought to treat several thousand patients, with an option to purchase more. The price tag is estimated to be around $700 per patient treatment, according to the report, which would make it more expensive than a similar medicine offered by Pfizer, also purchased by Israel.

Merck’s pill is less effective at treating COVID than Pfizer’s. It is taken within five days of symptom onset and was shown in a trial of 1,400 participants to reduce COVID hospitalizations and deaths by 30 percent among at-risk people.

Pfizer’s pill reduced the same outcomes by almost 90%, is authorized for people aged 12 and up, and has fewer overall safety concerns.

Overall, while both treatments were found to be generally well-tolerated in clinical trials, more potential concerns have been raised about Merck’s pill.

Don’t buy Hamas’ ‘bad weather’ excuse for rockets

Lightning did not cause two rockets to fire toward central Israel just a few hours into the new year. That excuse has been used and abused enough already. In response, IAF jets struck military positions and an underground structure belonging to Hamas.

Lightning was also blamed for a rocket that struck a home in Mishmeret, a moshav in the Sharon plain, and wounded seven people in March 2019. Another in October 2018 destroyed a home in Beersheba. Another landed off the coast.

All the rockets had been aimed toward Israel and were primed.

Former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu was willing to accept the excuse of “bad weather” as it wasn’t a convenient time for Israel to begin a military operation, and neither is it a convenient time for the government coalition.

Israel has more pressing matters to deal with at the moment, be it the wave of Omicron or the threat of a nuclear Iran and its proxy Hezbollah on its northern border.

The rocket fire comes shortly after the military boasted about the deterrence it has achieved vis-à-vis terrorist groups facing Israel, especially Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad in the Gaza Strip.

IDF strikes Gaza in retaliation to rocket fire towards central Israel

Palestinian terrorists fired surface-to-air missiles towards Israel Air Force helicopters during airstrikes against targets in the Gaza Strip in retaliation for the two rockets that had been fired earlier towards central Israel earlier that morning.

According to reports in the Hamas-run enclave, operatives fired SA-7 missiles as well as a number of test rockets towards the sea. Groups in the Strip have fired SAMs towards Israeli platforms during past operations over the Gaza Strip, none have caused any damage, including during the strikes on Saturday evening.

The IDF confirmed to The Jerusalem Post that missiles were fired at the helicopters.

The Soviet-designed SA-7 is a shoulder-fired surface-to-air missile (SAMs) that was designed to target aircraft flying at low altitudes. First used in combat by Egyptian troops during the War of Attrition with Israel in 1969, the system likely entered the Gaza Strip via smuggling routes from the Sinai Peninsula following the fall of Muammar Gaddafi in Libya in 2011.

The Israeli strikes targeted a Hamas site located west of Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip and IDF artillery targeted sites in the northern Gaza Strip as well.

The IDF Spokesperson’s Unit said it had struck a number of targets in Hamas’s rocket production complex.

Anti-aircraft missiles fired at IDF helicopters during Gaza strike, but miss

In a rare incident, Gazan terrorists targeted Israeli military helicopters with shoulder-launched anti-aircraft missiles over the Strip early Sunday morning during airstrikes carried out by the Israel Defense Forces.

During retaliatory airstrikes shortly after midnight, Hamas operatives fired two SAM-7 anti-aircraft missiles toward raiding helicopters west of Gaza City, Palestinian media outlets said.

The IDF confirmed that anti-aircraft missiles were fired at the helicopters, but would not comment on how many. The military said the missiles missed their mark and caused neither injury nor damage.

The SAM-7 missile, also known as 9K32 Strela-2, is a Russian-made shoulder-launched surface-to-air missile. They are relatively outdated, having been first made in the 1960s, but remain in use today.

New Year, Same Old Media Erasures of Gaza’s Belligerence

Less than one day into the New Year, a CBS headline and Agence France Presse photo captions fall back into old bad habits: the erasure of Palestinian violence which precipitated the Israeli response.

Yesterday morning, Palestinian terrorists in the Gaza Strip launched two rockets towards central Israel. One landed off the coast close to Jaffa, and another fell into the sea further south, along the Palmachim beach. Israel responded by attacking Hamas infrastructure in the Gaza Strip.

CBS’ truncated, egregiously misleading headline gives no indication whatsoever about the Palestinian rocket attacks against Israel. It deceives: “Israel hits Gaza with airstrikes.”

The accompanying article is from the Associated Press but the original AP headline is: “Israeli jets hit militant targets in Gaza after rocket fire.” Thus, CBS actively edited an imperfect AP headline, grossly degrading it by literally erasing two essential pieces of information pointing to Palestinian culpability.

First, CBS deleted AP’s information that Israel’s strike was in response to Palestinian rocket fire towards Israel.

Second, CBS cut AP’s reference to the fact that Israel targeted “militant targets,” ie infrastructure belonging to the Hamas terror organization. “Militant” is an objectionable euphemism for Hamas, designated as a terror organization by the US government and many other Western governments. CBS’s erasure of even that inadequate reference strips the headline of any indication that Israel hit at a belligerent target. CBS’s uninformative and misleading headline falsely suggests that out of the blue Israel randomly hit Gaza’s peaceful civilian population.

The cat and mouse game on Israel’s northern border needs to end – analysis

The infiltration attempt by two migrant workers who crossed the border from south Lebanon into Israel may have been the first of the new year, but it was just another incident in a long line of worrisome events along the porous border.

The border area with Lebanon has been flagged by the IDF as vulnerable to enemy infiltrations and has seen dozens of drug and weapon smuggling along the border as well as several infiltrations by migrant workers in the past year.

According to IDF data, the military also thwarted nine attempts to infiltrate from Lebanon and another two from Syria as well as confiscated 120 kilograms of drugs and 75 weapons over the past year.

But the real threat comes from Hezbollah’s elite Radwan unit.

The Unit, named after Hezbollah’s military commander Imad Mughniyeh who was killed in Damascus in 2008 in an operation attributed to Israel, was established to carry out covert operations against Israel.

Radwan operatives are expected to be at the forefront of any Hezbollah attack against Israel, infiltrating into Israeli communities along the border to kill as many civilians and troops as possible accompanied by a massive barrage of rockets, mortars, anti-tank missiles, and more.

Lebanon may be getting tired of Hezbollah

First, it was Gebran Bassil, leader of the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) and the son-in-law of Lebanon’s President Michel Aoun, who attacked the Shia Islamist political party Hezbollah and said that there would be “political consequences” for its actions against his party as it continues blocking the Cabinet from meeting.

Then Aoun made a similar statement, saying that “unjustified, deliberate and systematic blockage which dismantles the state and drives it to its demise must be ended.” The Cabinet has not met since October.

Aoun’s Free Patriotic Movement is an ally of Hezbollah in the Lebanese parliament and in 2016 he was elected the president due to its support after 29 months of stalemate.

Hezbollah quickly reacted to the Aoun statement by slamming Bassil – who has presidential aspirations when Aoun’s term ends next year – and indicating that Bassil might be losing its support.

Meanwhile, Aoun on Thursday signed a presidential decree approving legislative elections for May 15, 2022, two months later than the current parliament had wanted it to take place.

Experts are questioning whether the leaders of FPM are truly reconsidering their ties with Hezbollah so close to the upcoming 2022 parliamentary elections, and what such recent statements say about the growing resentment against Hezbollah in Lebanon.

Senior West Bank Hamas official to be charged with incitement, supporting terror

Hamas co-founder Hassan Yousef will be charged in the coming days in an Israeli military court for incitement to terror and supporting a terror group, Israel Police said in a statement on Sunday.

Yousef, a senior figure in Hamas’s West Bank division, is seen as a relative moderate in the terror group’s apparatus. Since helping found the Hamas terror movement in the 1980s, Yousef has been arrested numerous times and spent years in Israeli prisons, much of it in administrative detention.

Israeli forces arrested Yousef in mid-December, one of dozens of Palestinians picked up in operations following a wave of terror attacks. In the announcement on Sunday, police tied Yousef’s arrest to a speech he gave following an attack by a Hamas member in Jerusalem’s Old City.

In mid-December, Hamas member Fadi Abu Shkhaydam opened fire on passersby near the Old City’s Chain Gate, killing an Israeli civilian, Eli Kay, before being shot dead. Yousef arrived at the Shkhaydam family’s mourning tent later to give a fiery speech.

“The suspect arrived at the mourning tent of the terrorist’s family who carried out the shooting attack, where he praised the terrorist’s actions and even conveyed the condolences of the Hamas movement to his family,” Israel Police said in a statement.

It was not clear what investigation police actually conducted over the past few weeks to clarify Yousef’s crimes, as he is an avowed member of the terror group who regularly speaks publicly on its behalf, including to The Times of Israel. The speech referenced by police was streamed on Facebook.

Where’s the afterglow from Gantz’s meeting with Abbas?

Did Gantz know he was being played? He cannot have expected his extended hand to be met with such a blistering tirade, a rant running on with blood libel followed by blood libel.

“Ethnic cleansing,” says he, Abbas, the man who pays his people to murder Israelis.

All that only hours after Gantz’s come-on-a my house, I’m-a gonna give you candy.

What’s it all about?

Abbas, the old pro at terror-diplomacy, is still smarting at being ignored all those years during the Trump era.

How it galled when one (mostly Sunni) Arab country after another, the UAE, Sudan, Morocco, Bahrain, all signed on for peace/nominalization with Israel, leaving the PA out in the cold.

For once, a Domino-effect that favored Israel.

All Abbas could do was watch from the sidelines as his dream of a united Arab front against Israel collapsed so suddenly and so spectacularly.

All those years of terror from the PA, the PLO, Fatah, Hamas…and Israel still lives…still thrives…and, with new Arab friends.

Abbas had been outmaneuvered. He did not see that coming.

Now it’s different. No more Trump. Now it’s Biden in the White House, and it’s time to play Biden when your name is Mahmoud Abbas and the game is Israel.

Nothing big so far, but for Abbas, the signs are to his liking.

The Biden administration keeps dangling a US embassy for Arabs in East Jerusalem as one sign that it has cooled for the Israelis and warmed for the Arabs.

Abbas will take that for starters.

‘Israel practices organized terrorism, ethnic cleansing’

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas accused Israel on Friday of practicing “hideous policies of ethnic cleansing and organized terrorism” against Palestinians in his first public comments since meeting Tuesday with Defense Minister Benny Gantz.

Abbas spoke on the 57th anniversary of the launch of the first attack on Israel by the ruling Fatah faction.

In his speech, the PA leader did not mention the meeting with Gantz, which was strongly condemned by several Palestinian factions and activists.

“The anniversary of the launch of our revolution comes under extremely critical and difficult circumstances due to the continuation of the heinous Israeli occupation, the escalation of its repressive practices and persecution of our people, the theft of our land and natural resources, the stifling of our economy, the withholding of our tax funds, and racial discrimination,” said Mahmoud Abbas, according to The Jerusalem Post.

He praised the Palestinian security prisoners held in Israeli jails for their “sacrifices and patience,” stressing that the Palestinian government will not “abandon them or their families.”

He also praised the “heroes of the popular resistance.”

PMW: Released terrorist to Abbas: “We’ll remain your loyal soldiers”

While the PA on the one hand is eager to disclaim responsibility for any and all terror attacks, claiming that terrorists act alone and without orders from the PA, on the other it is claiming that all imprisoned terrorists are Prisoners of War – i.e., legitimate soldiers of the PA. Moreover, it is clear that the terrorists themselves see their role as that of “soldiers” serving the PA.

This was stressed by recently released terrorist and member of Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) – an internationally designated terror organization – Hussein Suleiman Al-Zre’i in a televised phone conversation with PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas. Three times Al-Zre’i stressed to Abbas that the imprisoned terrorists see themselves as “your loyal soldiers.” Al-Zre’i, who served 19 years in prison for carrying out shooting and mortar attacks against Israeli towns in Gush Katif, inside the Gaza Strip, further emphasized that as Abbas’ and Fatah’s “soldiers” they “will continue on this path. This is what Fatah has accustomed us to” – meaning the path of terror. Abbas blessed terrorist Al-Zre’i, stressing that what he did, i.e., indiscriminate shooting and mortar attacks that targeted Israeli civilians, was “not a tiny part,” but “a great and important part”:
PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas: “I appreciate the nation for recognizing the great efforts of you [prisoners]. We, for our part, my brother Hussein, whatever you want… we are prepared to fulfill our duty…”

Released prisoner Hussein Suleiman Al-Zre’i: “May Allah bless you, Your Honor the President. You are the symbol of the existing leadership, and we’ll remain your loyal soldiers. We are aware of the positions you have held on the prisoners’ cause, and on the cause of the salaries of the Martyrs and prisoners… Allah willing, our aspirations of establishing the Palestinian state whose capital is Jerusalem will be realized under your leadership, and we will remain soldiers loyal to you, your leadership, and all the members of the [Fatah] Central Committee. Our struggle is part of the Palestinian people’s struggle and part of the struggle of our [prisoners’] movement, which is fighting and attempting to reach a state through its struggle, and we will continue on this path. This is what Fatah has accustomed us to… [My] struggle, 19 years [in prison], is a tiny part of the deep and great struggle that you have led…”

Mahmoud Abbas: “May Allah bless you. It is not a tiny part, it is a great and important part, and it is a brick in building the great palace that will come about without a doubt: the independent Palestinian state. There is no doubt we’ll get rid of them and their occupation, and no doubt our flag [will fly above] Jerusalem…”

Hussein Suleiman Al-Zre’i: “We will triumph and Fatah will triumph… We support you and will remain your loyal soldiers until the end. The prison gave us greater will and endurance towards establishing our goals. Allah willing we’ll get greater will and [become more] daring to continue the struggle towards achieving the main goal, which is establishing the state whose capital is noble Jerusalem.”

[Facebook page of the Fatah Movement – Northern Gaza Strip Branch, Dec. 20, 2021]

Inside Joe Biden’s disastrous negotiations with Iran

Diplomatic sources have described Robert Malley, the US Special Representative for Iran, who is leading the negotiations in Vienna, as ‘the most dovish official we’ve ever seen’. In fact, the former head of the International Crisis Group – a think-tank devoted to dispute resolution, the very embodiment of the doctrine of softness – has bent over backwards so far that, as one official put it, he now speaks to Tehran from between his legs.

The talks began with a spectacular American misstep. As soon as the starting-gun was fired, US negotiators amazed international partners by tabling a proposal that was so generous that the Iranians had to rub their eyes to believe it. In the minds of the Americans, this was a take-it-or-leave-it offer, straight out of the box. But it did not come across that way to Tehran.

Once the Iranians had caught their breath and climbed back onto their chairs, they set about demanding further concessions, in the belief that this was only the US opening position. The Americans continued to insist that this was a one-time offer – but crucially failed to back this up by walking away from the table or putting forward punishing consequences. So the Iranians kept on demanding. This resulted in what can only be described by the Hebrew term balagan, as any real sense of pressure and jeopardy dissolved.

Jake Sullivan, Biden’s national security advisor, is a more sensible voice in the American camp. But he has been consistently sidelined by Robert Malley, who has been able to craft his own version of the negotiations when reporting to Antony Blinken, the Secretary of State. As a result, the true scale of the debacle is hidden from the White House – and President Biden has been preoccupied with domestic matters anyway.

As the impasse dragged on month after month, and the Iranians continued to strengthen their position by delaying things further while enriching uranium to higher levels, the mood among western diplomats became fractious. Officials could almost hear the Iranians rubbing their hands.

Iran powerlifter defects to avoid wearing T-shirt of terrorist Soleimani

Decorated Iranian powerlifter Amir Assadollahzadeh is seeking asylum in Norway since his November defection in order to avoid execution or torture in Iran for his refusal to sport a t-shirt of the late US and EU-designated terrorist Qasem Soleimani.

Soleimani was Iran’s most powerful military commander who oversaw the killing of over 600 American military personnel. He was assassinated on January 3, 2020, by an American drone strike.

Assadollahzadeh told CNN sports journalist Don Riddell that a representative from the clerical regime with the International Powerlifting Federation pressured him to wear the t-shirt.

“I refused to wear the shirt and I was confronted with threats: If you refuse to wear the shirt, upon your return to Iran, both you and your family will face problems,” he said.

“You will be treated like someone who is against the regime and someone who has refused to work with us. Your life may also be in danger,” added Assadollahzadeh.

JCPA: Bashar Assad’s Dangerous Game

The Syrian regime relies on Iranian militias to ensure its control over large parts of Syria that are difficult to access, making Iranian militias the tip of the spear for Bashar Assad’s regime.

The Iranians managed to seep into the command ranks of the Syrian Army’s Fourth Division headed by Maher al-Assad, the president’s brother, who is considered the executive arm of the Iranian agenda in Syria.

Iran has a military and economic stake in Syria and does not intend to leave it to the disappointment of both Israel and Russia who feel that Iranian activity is also harming their interests.

Israel has remarkable achievements in damaging Iran’s military build-up in Syria, but in order to displace Iran from Syria, Israel—and the West — need the cooperation of President Bashar Assad, who does not want to, and even if he were willing, it will be very difficult to break free from the Iranian embrace.

Israeli security officials say that Syrian President Bashar Assad is playing a “dangerous game” by allowing Iran and Hizbullah to continue their military build-up in Syria. Israel will continue to fight this phenomenon with all its might.

According to them, the attacks on the container terminal in Latakia weaken the stature of President Bashar Assad. The port was considered one of the safest strongholds of the Alawite community, but Israeli bombings also undermine its commercial activities, including smuggling and the import of basic commodities.

Israel’s struggle against Iran’s military build-up in Syria appears to be a long one, even though it has great achievements so far.

BDS: The latest chapter in the sordid history of anti-Jewish boycott

There is another perspective, however, that is less aired on the pages of The New York Times. It is the view of most Americans, who reject anti-Jewish/anti-Israel boycott and support legislation against it. The last time the Times featured an op-ed presenting this position was nearly three years ago, when Florida Senator Marco Rubio defended the Combating BDS Act that he introduced with others on the Senate floor in 2019. (Unlike the pro-BDS column, the senator’s viewpoint did not merit guest essay status in the Sunday Review print section, only an op-ed in the Times’ web blog.) At that time, the senator pointed out that:

“While the First Amendment protects the right of individuals to free speech, it does not protect the right of entities to engage in discriminatory conduct. Moreover, state governments have the right to set contracting and investment policies, including policies that exclude companies engaged in discriminatory commercial- or investment-related conduct targeting Israel….

“…Just as United States court rulings have repeatedly affirmed that states have discretion over whether to invest or contract with a company undertaking actions at variance with their laws or policies, companies remain free to bow to radical anti-Israel interests and engage in discriminatory economic warfare against one of America’s closest allies.”

George Mason Law Professor Eugene Kontorovich, an expert on international law, has similarly pointed out that the First Amendment allows state governments to place conditions, like anti-discrimination restrictions, on those with whom they engage in business and hence “if states can choose to not do business with South African companies because of their politics and practices (which BDS proponents wholeheartedly support), it also means they can choose to not do business with private companies because of other discriminatory policies – like a boycott of Israel.”

As he explains: “The campaign to ‘boycott Israel’ in reality seeks to legitimize discriminatory refusals to deal with people or companies simply because of their connection to the Jewish state. This is a legitimization of bigotry, just as boycotts of people because of their race, sexual orientation, or national origin would be discriminatory.”

In order to weigh both sides of the debate about anti-Jewish boycott and understand why so many seek to combat it, one must be familiar with the boycott’s history and its inherent antisemitism.

BDS Enraged by Arab Museum’s ‘Collaboration with Israel’ in Exhibition on Jews in Muslim Countries

The Paris-based Institut du Monde Arabe (Institute of the Arab World or IMA), which was founded in 1987 by French President Francois Mitterrand to provide information about the Arab world, is under a fierce attack by supporters of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement over an exhibition devoted to Jewish communities in the Middle East, The Tribune Juive reported on Sunday.

In December 2021, 52 Arab intellectuals signed a letter of protest IMA’s “Jews of the Orient” exhibition which had opened in late November by President Emmanuel Macron. The letter senders were enraged by the participation of Israeli institutions, including the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, which provided content for the exhibition in the IMA imposing center on the left bank.

Of course, Israel was not the only source for the exhibition. In addition, museums and research centers in France, the United Kingdom, Morocco, Spain, and the United States have provided manuscripts, photographs, paintings, and other documents illustrating the religious and cultural life of the Jewish communities in the Arab world.

The letter attacked Denis Charbit, an Israeli leftist scholar and a member of the exhibition’s organizing committee, for hailing the participation of Israeli institutions as the fruit of the historic Abrahamic Accords peace agreements that were signed in 2020 between Israel and several Arab countries.

These nations—the UAE, Bahrein, Morocco, and Sudan were among the eighteen Arab countries that helped establish the IMA in 1987.

Claiming that the IMA is “betraying its intellectual mission” by “normalizing” and “standardizing” cooperation with Israel, the letter denounces attempts “to present Israel and its regime of settler colonialism and apartheid as a normal state.” “It is unfortunate that people who claim to be intellectuals are participating in an attempt to cover up an entire part of the history of the Middle East,” an embassy spokesperson told AFP.

The Israeli Embassy in Paris sharply criticized the letter, and accused its authors of trying “to rewrite and obscure the history of Jews in Arab and Muslim countries.”

Israel Condemns Kiev Torchlight Celebration of Ukrainian Nazi Collaborator

The Israeli embassy in Kiev, Ukraine, on Saturday condemned a torchlight march of Ukrainian nationalists who celebrated the birthday of Nazi collaborator Stepan Bandera.

“Israel condemns the nationalist march in honor of Stepan Bandera. Any attempt to glorify those who supported Nazi ideology defiles the memory of Holocaust victims in Ukraine. We are demanding a thorough investigation of the antisemitic manifestations that took place during the march in accordance with the law adopted in Ukraine in 2021,” the Embassy said in a stern statement.

The march drew special attention in light of the threat of a Russian invasion. Andriy Tarasenko, leader of the nationalist party Right Sector, said, “Today, when there is a war with the occupier at the front, and the struggle against the ‘fifth column’ continues in the rear, we remember and honor the memory of Stepan Bandera.”

Bandera, the leader and ideologist of the Ukrainian Nationalists, welcomed Nazi Germany’s 1941 invasion of the Soviet Union, and prepared the Proclamation of Ukrainian Statehood, pledging loyalty to Adolf Hitler. The Germans were not amused and Bandera was arrested by the Gestapo, to be interned eventually in the Sachsenhausen concentration camp. But in 1944, when Germany was retreating before the Allied armies, Bandera was released to help fight the advancing Red Army forces.

Bandera hated Jews and saw them as part of the Soviet establishment. His party declared in the spring of 1941, ahead of the Nazi invasion: “The Jews in the USSR constitute the most faithful support of the ruling Bolshevik regime and the vanguard of Muscovite imperialism in Ukraine. The Muscovite-Bolshevik government exploits the anti-Jewish sentiments of the Ukrainian masses to divert their attention from the true cause of their misfortune and to channel them in a time of frustration into pogroms on Jews. The OUN (Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists) combats the Jews as the prop of the Muscovite-Bolshevik regime and simultaneously it renders the masses conscious of the fact that the principal foe is Moscow.”

15 overlooked Jewish stories of 2021 — and 1 you’ll want to read again

In 2021, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency published nearly 3,000 stories — news, analysis and commentary about our complex and dynamic shared community.

We recently shared the stories that you, our readers, read most this year. But the thousands of other articles we reported also deserve a second look.

We asked each of our writers and editors to choose one of their own stories to highlight. Read on for our team’s picks.

How a determined Jewish community helped bring home Danny Fenster, the journalist imprisoned in Myanmar
The months-long imprisonment of Jewish-American journalist Danny Fenster in Myanmar this year was a story that shocked and disturbed people worldwide — particularly in my hometown of Huntington Woods, Michigan, where Fenster grew up. But it was also one of the few 2021 stories with a happy ending, as Fenster’s family and friends continued advocating for him until he finally saw freedom just before Thanksgiving. It was a privilege for me to spotlight how the Jewish community of suburban Detroit and beyond banded together to keep Fenster’s name in the public eye. — Andrew Lapin, managing editor for local news, JTA. Follow Andrew on Twitter.

A 20-year-old college student in Texas is mapping every Manhattan address that used to be a synagogue
I was shocked when I reached out to the creator of the “This Used to Be a Synagogue” Twitter feed and she turned out to be a non-Jewish, 20-something undergrad at the University of Texas. Amy Shreeve’s Twitter account plugs the addresses of now-defunct Manhattan synagogues into Google Maps and displays the apartment buildings, gas stations and pharmacies that have taken their place. Her project is a haunting look at the way New York and its Jewish community constantly reinvent themselves, and her interest is a reminder that New York’s Jewish history is a fundamentally American story. — Andrew Silow-Carroll, editor-in-chief, The New York Jewish Week and senior editor, JTA. Follow Andrew on Twitter.

Golan Heights: A winter wonderland for Israelis

Secret getting out about hot springs at the foot of dormant Mount Bental volcano

Israelis have options for how to enjoy the winter months in the Golan Heights, ranging from the fresh snow in the Mount Hermon slopes or one of the most guarded secrets — the hot springs at the foot of the dormant Mount Bental volcano.

“It’s so much fun. You don’t feel the rain in the water. Suffering comes as you get out,” a bather told i24NEWS reporter Pierre Klochendler. Video poster

“Amazing. Even in the cold rain I warmly recommend it,” another Israeli enjoying the thermal baths told Klochendler.

The water temperature can reach a temperature of 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

It is the most closely guarded secret in the Golan Heights. Even the Israelis enjoying the warm waters on a cold and rainy day in the far northeastern part of the country couldn’t tell Klochendler how they found it.

“Ein li musag (I don’t know),” said one reveler.

“Google it. Everyone knows,” said a man whose wife was enjoying the water reservoir.

The Druze, the area’s original inhabitants, know the source, with a Druze man telling i24NEWS that the source is the Shamir Drilling Project, near Kibbutz Shamir in the Hula Valley, which exposed a subterranean hydrothermal spring that pipes in the hot water.

“Israel Seeking Info on Property of Jews Expelled from Arab Lands”

The government authorized the Ministry of Social Equality to research the State Archives regarding Jewish property remaining in Arab countries and Iran, possibly ahead of a massive reparations lawsuit.

The government on Sunday approved Minister for Social Equality Meirav Cohen’s proposal to allow her ministry’s officials to review archival material concerning Jewish property left in Arab countries.

During the 20th century, in the wake of the rise of Arab nationalism and especially after the establishment of the State of Israel, Arab states expropriated the Jews’ property, and denaturalized, expelled, arrested, tortured and murdered many of them.

“This is a significant advance in the line of government decisions, which emphasizes the commitment and concern of the State of Israel through the Ministry of Social Equality for the publication and documentation of the deportation of Jews from Arab countries and Iran and the dispossession of their property,” the government stated.

Cohen stated that “we have a commitment as a state, to learn and teach the price paid by the Jews of Arab countries, a tremendous economic price that we do not always understand.”

This decision “will help us document in depth historically and bring to the table the difficult and sad story of Arab and Iranian Jews,” she added.

Over 850,000 Jews were expelled or fled from Arab countries and Iran between 1948 and 1967. About 600,000 of them came to Israel, and it is estimated that they left behind property worth approximately $150 billion. This new move may be the first stage toward an attempt to reclaim at least some of the lost property.

Researchers discover ruins of 16th-century Jewish community in Morocco

Researchers from Israel, Morocco and France have discovered remnants of a small Jewish community in the mountains of Morocco, the Haaretz newspaper reported last week.

The ruins of the community’s synagogue in the small village of Tamanart – located on the outskirts of the Sahara desert – were found while conducting a preliminary survey of Jewish sites in the area and after talking to locals who remembered their Jewish neighbors who left the area 70 years ago.

The researchers say Jews lived here from the 16th century until the early 19th century. They recovered scriptures, documents, and Kabbalist amulets from the synagogue’s genizah, or hiding place for worn texts that are no longer usable.

Orit Ouaknine-Yekutieli, a researcher of modern Morocco at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, told Haaretz that the site’s synagogue had been damaged by looters as well as by natural events like floods, but the researchers were able to salvage texts and transfer them to a secure location for further analysis.

The discovery comes weeks after King Mohammed VI of Morocco ordered the restoration of hundreds of Jewish sites across the kingdom, and a year after Israel and Morocco agreed to formal diplomatic relations. The restoration plan includes the site at Tamanart, as well as cemeteries and hundreds of synagogues.

Jews are believed to have first established communities in Morocco more than 2,000 years ago. In the mid-20th century, the Jewish population reached a peak of 250,000. It is estimated that only 2,000 Jews remain today.

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