December 7, 2022

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01/30 Links Pt1: Palestinian Blackmail: US Is Our Enemy; Arabs Should Stop Pretending the Palestinian Issue Is an Impediment to Relations with Israel

From Ian:

Palestinian Blackmail: US Is Our Enemy
The Palestinians’ mock trial and “execution” of Trump and Pence gives the Palestinians a green light to target Americans physically. More interesting still is that members of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s ruling Fatah faction participated in the mock trial and “execution” of the US president and the Vice President.

Strikingly, this event took place inside a refugee camp that is run by the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA). More precisely, the execution took place outside a school run by UNRWA. Trump and Pence were “hanged” with the UNRWA flag flying atop the school in the background.

The US and other Western countries would do well to take the Palestinian campaign of threats and incitement extremely seriously – and severely counter these threats. Submission to the intimidation will simply result in even more intimidation, more violence and more threats.

Melanie Phillips: Pence, Trump, May and the nation

Please join me here as I discuss with Avi Abelow of Israel Video Network Mike Pence’s Knesset speech, the Jewish attitude to the idea of the nation, the threat to Britain posed by Jeremy Corbyn, Trump at Davos and Theresa May’s woes.

Arab Countries Should Stop Pretending the Palestinian Issue Is an Impediment to Diplomatic Relations with Israel

The improving relations between Israel and many Sunni Arab states—including those like Saudi Arabia with which it does not have formal diplomatic ties—are hardly a secret. But these countries remain reluctant to acknowledge the relations publicly and have shown little interest in actual normalization. While explaining the reluctance, Moshe Yaalon and Leehe Friedman contend that Arab countries would serve both their own interests and those of the Palestinians by dropping their insistence on a solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict as a prerequisite to normal diplomatic relations with Jerusalem.

[T]he pragmatic Arab regimes are wary of being seen publicly as overly keen on normalization before the Israel-Palestinian conflict has been resolved. Their citizens would widely and strongly oppose such a move and perceive it as an abandonment and betrayal of their Palestinian brethren. Even Egypt and Jordan, which have diplomatic relations with Israel and have cooperated quietly but extensively over security and intelligence matters, are careful not to appear too openly conciliatory toward Israel. . . .

What’s more, Iran, in its quest for hegemony in the Middle East, would surely use any sign of rapprochement with Israel to inflame the Palestinian conflict further. . . . The Sunni states, particularly Saudi Arabia, cannot allow themselves to give Iran or Turkey, [which has aligned itself with the Muslim Brotherhood and against the moderate Arab states], any openings to amass political capital in the region. . . .

So far, [however,] conditioning normalization on resolving the conflict has not brought its settlement any closer, and instead has obstructed other moves that would benefit the entire region. . . . The time has come to recognize that treating the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as an obstacle toward normalization is [an] illusion. . . . Today, normalization with Israel in itself serves authentic interests in the pragmatic Arab world. Leaders of these countries understand this, and it has led to closer ties behind the scenes. However, in order to maximize the security, economic, and cultural benefits for all parties, closer ties must become public.

JPost Editorial: Death camps

Of course, many Poles fought the Nazis, particularly after June 1941, when Germany invaded the Soviet Union. And there are numerous incidents in which Poles risked their own lives to save Jews. Indeed, Poland capitulated to Nazi Germany but never signed a formal surrender.

It is also true that the Nazis had an easier time carrying out the Holocaust in Poland and Russia than in Western Europe. Jews in the East were far more numerous; less likely to have the economic means to help them escape; tended to live in shtetlach (villages); and because most were Orthodox, were visibly Jewish.

But it is also true that before and during the war, deep-seated hatred of the Jews was common in Poland.

And many Poles collaborated with the Nazis to help them find and capture Jews who attempted to escape.

It is therefore ridiculous for the Polish government to attempt to whitewash history and erase the role the Polish people played in helping the Nazis persecute Jews.

It also worrying that such a bill, put forward by Poland’s right-wing government, is so popular among Poles, as though Polish honor is somehow dependent on promulgating lies.

The leaders and citizens of the State of Israel, created in the aftermath of the Holocaust, have a moral obligation to speak out against attempts to stifle free debate about the Holocaust or to rewrite history. We will not be silent.

Yair Lapid: The truth about Poland and the Holocaust

“Look at the floor,” I told my students. We were standing in Treblinka. An exposed area, freezing cold, surrounded by dark forests. They looked down. “Under your feet,” I said to them, “there is a city of the dead. It’s a city twice the size of Tel Aviv. 880,000 dead. They died for only reason — they were Jews.”

The extermination at Treblinka was overseen by fewer than 30 Germans. Most of the atrocities were committed by a Ukrainian squadron. The prisoners who tried to escape from the trains which led to the camp were caught and returned by Polish neighbors. Everyone was complicit.

My father’s grandmother, Hermione, was arrested by the Germans in Serbia. She was sent to Auschwitz, where she was murdered in the gas chambers. Why did she make that long journey to her death? Why were most of the camps set up in Poland? The Germans knew that at least some of the local population would cooperate.

Hundreds of Jewish residents of the town of Jedwabne were murdered by Poles. In June 1941, they were caught by their Polish neighbors, locked in a barn and burned alive. After the war, the Poles tried to claim that the Germans had carried out the massacre, but the Jews who had managed to survive the massacre bore witness to the truth.

The new law that the Polish government is trying to pass denies all this. So that we’ll know that “fake news” has reached Poland, they spun the law with a false headline. “There is no such thing,” they said, “as Polish extermination camps. The camps were German.” It’s an absurd statement. No one ever says the death camps were built by the Poles. The Germans built them. But they built them on Polish land, with Polish help, in the face of Polish silence.

Poland’s Holocaust Denial and Anti-Semitism Run Far Deeper Than Just Its Latest Controversial Law

Just before International Holocaust Remembrance Day, the lower house of the Polish parliament voted in favor of a bill that condemns anyone who acknowledges Polish complicity in the Holocaust to up to three years in prison. According to the Polish state narrative, the Holocaust was an entirely German affair, and both the Polish government and the Polish people are entirely innocent of it. Although I was dismayed to learn this news, I was hardly surprised. After spending some time in Poland this month, I would expect no better.

Before leaving the United States, I researched the history of the Holocaust in Poland and quickly began to suspect the Polish government of whitewashing. For example, the website of the State Museum at Auschwitz-Birkenau includes an Orwellian tool called “Remember.” It invites visitors “to correct collective memory errors” by reporting journalists who use the phrase “Polish death camp”—referring to death camps established by the Nazis on Polish soil, sometimes in Polish cities, where Jews who were turned in by their Polish neighbors and others were sent to their deaths—to the Polish authorities. I also read about efforts by Polish politicians to discredit and silence those who have dared to tell the story of Jedwabne, the site of a particularly egregious pogrom perpetrated by Poles against their Jewish neighbors and culminating in the burning alive of more than 300 Jews in a barn (over 1,500 total were murdered). By the time that I boarded the plane to Europe, I was very wary of the intentions of the Polish state in retaining control over the Holocaust-related sites I was planning to visit.

Even in my short time in the country, I noticed the strange national attitude toward the Jews. Many superstitious Poles, for example, furnished their households with representations of “lucky Jews,” who, by virtue of their shrewdness with money, were expected to bring fortune to the homeowners. For that reason, street vendors sold cooking utensils featuring Jews with payot, prominent noses, and coins. The walls of a pub/home that my tour group visited were decorated with a portrait of a money-counting Jew among myriad mounted crosses and depictions of Jesus’s mangled corpse. On Shabbat, when a number of us were wearing kippot and tzitzit, Poles videotaped and photographed us as though we were exotic animals in a zoo. What was once the Krakow Jewish Quarter had been turned into a virtual theme park, with kosher-style (but not kosher) restaurants and an annual klezmer festival for the pleasure of the Christian Poles but with very few, if any, remaining Jews.

Former ADL chief: Poland’s nationalist gov’t is trying to rewrite history

Abraham Foxman survived the Holocaust as a child in Poland thanks to a Polish Catholic nanny who took him in. But many of his Jewish countrymen suffered a very different fate, and Foxman is concerned that his freedom to say that is being threatened by legislation advanced by the Polish government.

“This is a political move to do two things: first, to rewrite history, but more importantly to prevent new history,” the former longtime national director of the Anti-Defamation League told The Jerusalem Post in a telephone interview from New York on Sunday night.

In the past 20 years, he stressed, more sources have opened up and more research has been conducted into Poland’s Holocaust history. “Yes, Poles were victims but they were also victimizers, and more and more of this is coming out, and this new jingoist, [the] neo-nationalist government doesn’t want it, and one way to prevent it is to legislate and criminalize,” Foxman said.

“We understand they don’t want to hear ‘Polish concentration camp’ – nobody is arguing that. Nobody says that is not a legitimate sensitivity and concern. But what we’re seeing is something different. What we are seeing is a political move to rewrite history, deny history and to make sure that honest history is not written,” he stressed.

“But you don’t legislate and criminalize against it – that’s contrary to freedom of speech,” he continued. Foxman added that a great concern of his is that the law could include testimonies by Holocaust survivors’ and historians.

“So if I say, I was saved by a Polish woman but there were a lot of Jews that were led to their deaths by Poles – that could be criminalized today if this legislation passes, because I’m defaming the Polish people and the Polish nation by saying that some Poles were collaborators – which they were,” he asserted.

Gerald M. Steinberg: Israel and UNRWA’s emergency meeting

Tomorrow, Jan. 31, the European Union and Norway will convene in Brussels for another “emergency meeting of international donors to Palestine.” The conference will see a repeat of a pattern of behavior in which the richest countries in the world spill out hundreds of millions of dollars as a solution to the crisis in the Gaza Strip.

The Israeli government, which will be represented by Regional Cooperation Minister Tzachi Hanegbi, expressed its support for emergency aid, recognizing that if the Gaza regime collapsed, it could cause another war. While the basic needs of Gaza’s civilian population, like electricity and potable water, are obvious to all, another round of funding won’t solve the core problem there, especially given that the role Hamas is playing in the crisis is being ignored. So to prevent the next crisis, and the one after that, real change is necessary.

Israeli interests demand that Hanegbi switch roles from an observer to a central actor in the event and that he ask for an orderly plan to shut down the U.N. Relief and Works Agency. Hanegbi needs to prevent viable alternatives to the destructive status quo that for 70 years has defined Palestinians in Gaza, Syria, Lebanon, etc. as refugees from the 1948 War of Independence, leading billions of dollars of international aid to be funneled into perpetuating the Palestinian narrative about a “right of return.” The unstinting support of various Israeli governments and the Israeli defense establishment for UNRWA has caused considerable damage, and it’s time to think up more efficient ways of helping that are not tied to the Palestinian narrative or to terrorist organizations. The political price of continued cooperation with UNRWA outweighs all other considerations.

In Synagogue Talk, Obama Defends 2016 US Refusal to Veto UN Measure Condemning Israeli Settlements

Former President Barack Obama this week defended his decision to allow a December 2016 United Nations Security Council resolution condemning Israeli settlements to pass in the waning days of his administration, blaming the “skyrocketing” pace of settlement construction.

“The pace of settlement construction skyrocketed making it almost impossible to make any kind of Palestinian state,” Obama said during a talk at Temple Emanu-El in New York City on Wednesday, the Daily Mail reported.

“Voting against the resolution would have damaged our credibility on affirming human rights only when it’s convenient not when it has to do with ourselves and our friends,” the former president said.

At the time, the Obama administration refused to use US veto power in the Security Council to block Resolution 2334, breaking with decades of American policy of defending Israel against one-sided UN measures targeting the Jewish state.

Obama also downplayed America’s relatively strained relationship with Israel under his administration, arguing that his decisions on the Jewish state were reflective of the strong bonds between the countries.

“To be a true friend of Israel it is important to be honest about it, and the politics of this country sometimes do not allow for it,” Obama said.

Ari Fleischer Slams Media For Ignoring CBC Members Who Met With Virulent Anti-Semite Farrakhan

On Monday, former White House spokesman Ari Fleischer blasted the media for ignoring the implications of members of the Congressional Black Caucus, including present-day members of Congress John Lewis and Maxine Waters, having met with raging anti-Semite Louis Farrakhan in 2005:

Last week, it was revealed that the CBC pressured photojournalist Askia Muhammad for over ten years to suppress a photo of former President Barack Obama and Farrakhan at a meeting of the CBC in 2005 when Obama was a state senator.

In case anyone was unfamiliar with Farrakhan’s Nazi-like rhetoric, Fleischer enlightened them:

Then Fleischer ripped the media for their utter hypocrisy:

Kamala Harris politicizes Holocaust Memorial Day, compares Muslim refugees to Ann Frank to attack Trump

Saturday marked the day set aside by the global community to commemorate the tragedy of the Holocaust during World War Two.

International Holocaust Memorial Day is intended to honor six million Jewish victims of Nazi persecution, but leave it to Democrats to make a mockery of the day.

Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., shamefully politicized the day by using it to attack President Donald Trump and to advocate for Muslim refugees.

“On #HolocaustMemorialDay, Trump restricted refugees from Muslim-majority countries. Make no mistake — this is a Muslim ban,” she tweeted.

In a call for open borders, Harris, who epitomizes the adage that elections have consequences, likened Muslim refugees to victims of the Holocaust — like Anne Frank.

In UN debate over 1994 genocide, Israel backs Rwanda despite US objections

Israel supported a U.N. resolution, opposed by the United States and the European Union, that changes the name of the international remembrance day for the 1994 Rwanda genocide.

The April 7 remembrance day, previously known as the Day of Reflection on the Genocide in Rwanda, will focus solely on the murder of some 800,000 ethnic Tutsis by members of the Hutu-majority government. The amendment was approved on Friday in the General Assembly by consensus. It will be known now as the International Day of Reflection on the 1994 Genocide Against the Tutsi in Rwanda.

Rwanda’s ambassador to the United Nations, Valentine Rugwabiza, told the General Assembly that the new name clarifies that the genocide was carried out “against the Tutsi.” But the United States and the EU objected that, in the words of Kelley Currie, the U.S. representative to the U.N. Economic and Social Council, the new name “does not fully capture the magnitude of the genocide and of the violence committed against other groups.”

In addition to the Tutsis slaughtered, another 50,000 or more Hutu who tried to help the Tutsi also were killed during the massacres that year in a 100-day period from April to July.

Israel was the only Western-allied country to co-sponsor the resolution. The United States expressed its objections but did not intervene. (h/t Elder of Lobby)

David Harris: An Open Letter to the Foreign Minister of Slovenia

Dear Minister Erjavec,

You are on record as calling for your country to unilaterally recognize a Palestinian state as soon as possible.

In doing so, you said that you believe this will advance the prospects for peace in the region. But as a long-time supporter of the quest for a two-state agreement, I would respectfully ask you to reconsider your position. This is neither the time nor the way to move the parties closer to an accord. To the contrary, it will only make a daunting challenge still more so.

For Slovenia, I know, the issue of “self-determination” looms large — reflecting your country’s own difficult history. You are instinctively drawn to support those who, in your mind, seek what your nation aspired to — and most recently achieved in 1992.

But “self-determination” can’t be viewed in a vacuum, as if it were an end itself, somehow disconnected from the surrounding world. It invariably has context and consequences, both of which must be taken into account in weighing alternative policy options in any specific situation.

Precisely because Slovenia is a friend of Israel and has maintained mutually beneficial ties with the Jewish state since shortly after your nation’s independence, I ask you to consider the potential negative results of any such move on your part.

UN chief meets with Sudan’s president, who is accused of genocide

Secretary-General Antonio Guterres met with Sudan’s president, who is accused of genocide by the International Criminal Court, on the sidelines of this week’s African Union summit on grounds of “operational necessity,” the United Nations said Monday.

UN deputy spokesman Farhan Haq told reporters that operational necessities allow the UN chief to meet with President Omar al-Bashir “from time to time” on issues such as the joint UN-African Union peacekeeping force in Darfur and the UN peacekeeping mission in the oil-rich Abyei region that is disputed between Sudan and South Sudan.

“That doesn’t obviate the need, of course, for respect of the International Criminal Court,” Haq said.

Al-Bashir is accused of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes in Darfur during fighting since 2003.

Sudanese Foreign Minister Ibrahim Ghandour told local media that Guterres praised the efforts by Sudan’s government to achieve peace in Darfur, Blue Nile and South Kordofan during Sunday’s meeting in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa.

US delegation flees Bethlehem as Palestinian protesters storm workshop

A delegation of US diplomats had to cut short an event in the West Bank city of Bethlehem on Tuesday, an attendee said, after protesters stormed their meeting.

The protesters, who were objecting to US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, also kicked and threw tomatoes at the delegation’s car as they left, a video posted online showed.

Some five protesters kicked one of the doors of the car, which had US consular license plates, and ripped the plastic casing off a side mirror, Reuters reported.

The American diplomats had been invited by city officials to give a workshop on doing business over the internet.

Samir Hazboun, head of the Bethlehem Chamber of Commerce, said the group had been holding a training session for local businesspeople about digital commerce with an American expert and a delegation from the US consulate in Jerusalem. (h/t Elder of Lobby)

A new red line: IDF deterrence efforts reach Lebanon’s citizens

IDF Spokesperson Brigadier-General Ronen Manelis’s op-ed, which was published Sunday morning in Lebanese and Arab websites, is a conscious and dramatic move. I can’t remember a similar act taking place in the past 50 years.

In fact, it’s the first time that the IDF appeals directly and officially to all of Lebanon’s citizens, urging them to come to their senses and stop Iran and Hezbollah from turning Lebanon and its citizens into hostages, while fatal decisions about their lives and welfare are being made in Tehran according to the ayatollah regime’s interests.

“These violations don’t threaten us,” Manelis wrote. “On the contrary, the difference between a violation that ends in a report to the UN and a violation that will lead to a security deterioration is, first and foremost, subject to an Israeli decision.” These words come as a sort of red line set by Israel, as it directly warns Lebanon of an Israeli attack.

Manelis appears to be appealing to Lebanon’s citizens over the heads of their prime minister and president, who are controlled by Hezbollah, in an unconventional way aimed at making it clear to them that they might suffer a disaster if they fail to come to their senses and work to stop the Iranian takeover of the Lebanese regime and Iran’s physical entrenchment in Lebanon.

He points to the fact that Iran is basically disregarding Lebanon’s sovereignty and gradually turning the country into a branch of the Revolutionary Guards, the Iraqi-Shiite militias operating at Iran’s service and the Iranian military industry.

Hezbollah threatens to open fire on IDF soldiers building border fence — report

Hezbollah has threatened to open fire at IDF soldiers if Israel does not halt the construction of a barrier along the Israel-Lebanon border, Hadashot TV reported Monday.

Israel has been building the obstacle — made up of a collection of berms, cliffs and concrete barriers — for a long time, but it has only now reportedly angered the Lebanese terror group, which last fought Israel in the Second Lebanon War in 2006.

The message was delivered to Jerusalem via the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), the report said. The UN force, fearing a possible escalation, passed the message on to the US and French ambassadors, who updated the Prime Minister’s Office on the matter.

However, the Israeli government was unimpressed, and responded with a threatening message of its own, the report said. Israel said it was acting in its own sovereign territory in accordance with a Security Council resolution adopted after Israel withdrew from Lebanon in 2000.

The section Israel is now constructing, on the northern side of the border fence, is angering Hezbollah. However, in parts, the fence is built inside Israeli territory.

PreOccupiedTerritory: UK Parliament Outlaws ‘Military Wing’ Of Mafia, OKs ‘Political Wing’ (satire)

Britain’s legislature approved new legislation Monday distinguishing between the political and military apparatuses of various organized crime syndicates, following years of treating international terrorist organizations in the same fashion.

Parliament’s Mafia Distinction Act, set become law on 1 February, will apply the same conceptual division to the various mafias operating in the UK that heretofore pertained to the Shiite terrorist group Hezbollah. Whereas until now these crime syndicates of prostitution, drug dealing, protection rackets, and other marks of the criminal underworld have been classified under law as wholly illegal, the MDA deems any of these groups’ activities not directly involved in violent crime, or the threat thereof, legitimate enterprise.

Thus, explained bill sponsor MP Hedda Inthesand (Ipswich), the various political activities of mafia groups will now be reclassified and decriminalized. “When a don sends his personnel to lobby public officials, journalists, or other public figures, that will remain outside the purview of criminal law,” she told reporters at a press conference following the law’s passage. “We are gratified that enough other legislators share our view that if it makes sense to distinguish between the political wing of groups such as Hezbollah and their military wings, we should be applying the same legal standard to groups established closer to home.”

MDA passed with a comfortable majority of 399-71, with many MPs crossing party lines to approve the measure. A number of the lawmakers reported to journalists that they had been contacted by political operatives of the organizations in question, who had urged them to vote in favor of passage if they knew what was good for them.

As rocket warning sirens go off at Gaza border, explosion reported inside Strip

Rocket warning sirens went off in Israeli communities near the Gaza Strip just after midnight Monday-Tuesday, with one rocket reportedly landing within the Hamas-controlled territory.

Residents of the Sha’ar Hanegev and Sdot Negev regional councils, where the sirens were heard, reported hearing at least on explosion shortly after midnight.

Palestinian sources said the rocket fell inside the Gaza Strip. It was not immediately clear if a further projectile had been fired into Israel.

There were no immediate reports of injuries of damage on either side of the border fence.

There had been a significant increase in rocket and mortar attacks from Gaza after US President Donald Trump’s December 6 recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, but January has seen a return to relative calm with the most recent rocket attack before Monday night occurring on the first of the month.

PLO Urges Arab-Israelis To Unite With Palestinians

The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) is urging Arab-Israelis to march in their villages, cities and at nearest checkpoints against the Trump administration’s positions on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The PLO issued the call to action in a press release urging a united Palestinian voice against the recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital; the rumored rejection by the White House of Palestinian refugees’ right to return to Israel as part of any future peace deal; and the cut-off of American aid for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency.

There will also be concurrent events at Al-Najah University in the West Bank city of Nablus, in the Gaza Strip and Lebanon. At the same time, the PLO declared this coming Friday a major “day of rage” in the Palestinian territories and regional Arab and Islamic capitals.

Speaking to the Media Line, Muwafaq Suhwail, a Fatah official in Ramallah, explained that the invitation to the “Palestinians who live in Israel” to protest comes within the context not only of U.S. President Donald Trump’s Jerusalem declaration but also Vice President Mike Pence’s recent visit to Israel.

“The latter gave Israel the green light to keep moving forward in violating the international resolutions,” Suhwail said. “Palestinians inside Israel and the West Bank side-by-side must boost the popular resistance against the unfair.”

MEMRI: Is Gaza In Need Of Qatar’s Aid?

Four years after the 2014 Gaza war, the myth that there is a need to rebuild Gaza persists. This myth is nurtured by both Israeli and U.S. officials. Touring the Hamas attack tunnels that lead into Israel from Gaza, U.S. Special Representative for International Negotiations Jason Greenblatt expressed harsh criticism of Hamas for wasting resources on “tunnels and rockets to attack Israel, instead of helping the people of Gaza by getting the lights on, the water flowing, and the economy growing.”

Senior Israeli officials told the Israeli daily Haaretz last week that Qatar is “one of the only countries in the world that truly cares about improving the situation in Gaza,”[2] implying that Qatar’s aid is needed.

But does Gaza really need Qatar’s aid, four years after the war? And if it does not, who is served by the myth that it does, and for what purpose?

First the facts: Inequality exists across the globe, from east to west, and Gaza is no exception. But the depiction of Gaza in its entirety as wracked by poverty and destruction and in desperate need of the world’s assistance is a lie – as has been shown not by Israeli propaganda but by BBC Arabic, and by none other than Al-Jazeera, Qatar’s media arm.

Al-Jazeera has been broadcasting reports on a very different Gaza; a November 26, 2017 Al-Jazeera TV report on the development of Gaza shopping centers clearly show a commercial boom there. A January 13, 2018 Al-Jazeera program showed how youth unemployment in Gaza – a problem in many parts of the world, including India and Europe – is being addressed, with computer training that will allow distance employment. The video shows vocational training centers, universities, and vibrant student life in Gaza (to view the entire untranslated Al-Jazeera program, click here). In late 2016, BBC Arabic aired a story on Gaza restaurants, showing, in its words, “an aspect of luxury, vibrancy, and riches” in Gaza life.

Senior Hamas official dies after allegedly shooting himself in the head

Senior Hamas official Imad al-Alami died on Tuesday, three weeks after he allegedly shot himself in the head, the Hamas-linked al-Rai reported. He was 62.

Alami, who was also known as Abu Hamam, was regarded as a hard-liner and a supporter of Hamas’s ties with Iran.

The senior Hamas official died at the Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, where he was treated in intensive care for the past three weeks, the report said.

On January 9, Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said that Alami shot himself in the head “while examining his personal weapon in his home.”

Hamas-run Interior Ministry Spokesman Iyad Bozm added that Alami “mistakenly” opened fire on himself.

However, some experts and commentators have questioned the veracity of Barhoum and Bozm’s accounts, speculating that a rival Hamas member may have shot him.

Hundreds of Gazans took part in a funeral procession for al-Alami in Gaza City including several top Hamas officials.

Speaking before Imadi’s remains at the Great Mosque of Gaza, Hamas Politburo Chief Ismail Haniyeh praised the senior Hamas official.

Palestinians fear fallout from huge cut in aid. Also, they bought a $50 Million Jet (satire)

There was renewed hope among Palestinians this week after Mahmoud Abbas bagged $50 million in aid money to buy himself a private jet. While some accused the Palestinian President of selling out his people, Abbas said he deserved it.

“I am in the 14th year of my 4-year term and my legs aren’t what they used to be. I can’t be sat in armed jeeps the whole time, making things up, cursing, and handing out sweets to the kids.” he added.

The UN’s favorite little grandpa went on to say that he intended to use “Abbas Airlines” to transport his friends between Gaza City and Ramallah, once the freiers at the European Union finished building them a luxury airport with a lovely baggage carousel.

Hamas also welcomed the move, adding that foreign visitors would be most welcome. Visas would be free, but tourists are expected to take out their own insurance n the unlikely event that yada yada yada. Tourists are already lining up for the opportunity to see Arafat’s Tomb, the Roger Waters Wax Museum, the United Nations School that definitely was NOT used to fire mortars at Israel, and the Hamas Bumblebee. Also, Hamas mentioned something about a tunnel connecting Gaza International’s main concourse and downtown Tel Aviv.

The Abbas Airlines aircraft, dubbed “Quds Force 1”, boasts 72 flight attendants, each covered head to toe. And apparently they’re virgins.

NYPost Editorial: In the Gulf, Iran quietly admits there’s a new cop in the White House

Iranian military boats have quietly ended years of harassment of US Navy vessels in the Persian Gulf, and it looks like another welcome sign of a new cop on the beat.

For years, armed Iranian “fast boats” would charge at US ships in a dangerous game of chicken, rising to a level the Navy deemed “unsafe or unprofessional” at least twice a month. It was a clear signal of disrespect, and a test of what Washington would put up with.

But the game stopped last summer, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Officially, the Navy doesn’t know why. US Central Command chief Gen. Joseph Votel says, “I hope it’s because we have messaged our readiness . . . and that it isn’t tolerable or how professional militaries operate.”

But Tehran surely takes that “isn’t tolerable” message a lot more seriously now that President Barack Obama is out of office.

Obama, after all, had shown he wouldn’t enforce his own red lines, infamously blinking rather than live up to his own vow that use of chemical weapons by Syria’s bloody Bashar al-Assad would be a “game-changer.”

Cotton and Hatch Introduce Bill to Publicize Iranian Leadership’s Assets

Republican Sens. Tom Cotton (Ark.) and Orrin Hatch (Utah) on Monday introduced the Iranian Leadership Asset Transparency Act, which would require the U.S. Treasury to report on the assets of key Iranian officials.

According to the press release from Cotton’s office, the bill will have the Treasury provide reports on Iranian ayatollahs’ assets in an attempt to expose how they have corruptly managed the country’s economy.

“This report will expose to all the world just how badly the ayatollahs have mismanaged the Iranian economy and just how much money they’ve stolen from the Iranian people,” Cotton said. “For too long, they’ve lived lavishly while their own people have suffered, and it’s time we shine a bright line on this corruption.”

Hatch said the legislation will give the public information about how Ayatollah Khamenei has profited at Iranians’ expense.

“I am pleased to join Senator Cotton in introducing the Iranian Leadership Asset Transparency Act, a bill that calls for the public release of information concerning the fortunes that line the coffers of Ayatollah Khamenei and his regime,” Hatch said. “By educating the public about the Iranian government’s profiteering at the expense of its own people, this proposal will aid Iranians in their quest for freedom and prosperity.”

MEMRI: Former Basij Commander Gen. Mohammad Reza Naqdi: ‘The European Continent Is Gradually Giving Way To The Asiatic And African Genes; In The Next Century, They’ll Have To Look For The European Gene In Museums’

In a January 22, 2018 speech at an awards ceremony for officials from the Iranian diplomatic corps, Gen. Mohammad Reza Naqdi, former Basij commander and director of the culture and society division of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), emphasized that Iran’s Islamic revolution was spreading in the Middle East, and that uprisings in the spirit of this revolution were anticipated in Egypt and Tunisia. However, he said, the U.S. is collapsing, as its own president had declared, and its political influence in the region is stricken and waning.

Having said this, he went on to warn, against the backdrop of the recent popular uprising in Iran, about Western propaganda, especially American propaganda, that he said depicts revolutionary Iran in crisis. This situation, he said, is not real and exists only on social media, and was invented by the West in order to cultivate despair about the Iranian regime among the Iranian people.

As an example of the collapse of the West, Naqdi noted that the UK has appointed a “minister of loneliness,” and advised Prime Minister Theresa May to examine why matters had reached such a low point. He concluded by saying that Asia and Africa were taking over the West, particularly Europe, and added that “in the next century, they’ll have to look for the European gene in museums.”


On January 20 Turkey launched Operation Olive Branch, aimed at clearing the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) it calls “terrorists” from the area of Afrin in northwest Syria. The Turkish military says more than 200 YPG members have been killed in operations involving hundreds of strikes on targets using tanks, ground troops and warplanes. The offensive marks an escalation in the already complex and deadly conflict, risks creating a rift between Washington and Ankara, and opens a new front line that further complicates attempts to resolve the Syrian war.

Since 2012, the YPG has come to dominate parts of Syria as the regime forces collapsed and concentrated on fighting the rebels. The Kurds in Syria have historically suffered grievous discrimination at the hands of the Assad regime.

They were subjected to forced Arabization and their culture was under assault. Many were denied citizenship. Since 2012 under the aegis of newfound freedoms they have been a bulwark against Islamic State and become key partners of the US-led coalition fighting ISIS.

The YPG is also, however, connected to the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which has fought a multi-decade conflict with Turkey and is viewed by Ankara and other countries as a terrorist organization. Like other groups in the region, the YPG therefore combines problematic origins with a present attempt to change its image. The US has been careful in its statements, indicating that it is working with the Syrian Democratic Forces, which is an umbrella group that contains the YPG. Turkey has complained to Washington for years about weapons transfers to the YPG and accused America of recruiting a “terrorist army” in Syria. As the war against ISIS winds down, Turkey sees a threat on its border, and the US increasing its presence in eastern Syria. In mid-January the coalition announced plans to expand the training of a stabilization force in eastern Syria. Ankara upped its rhetoric and said it would launch an operation against Afrin.

Welcome to Syria 2.0

The idea that Syria’s civil war is winding down has been repeated so often in recent months as to become a cliché. It has never been entirely true.

U.S. officials recently confirmed Washington’s intention to indefinitely retain effective ownership of around 28 percent of Syrian territory, in partnership with the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces. But those plans are increasingly in conflict with the other major international players in the war-torn country. That includes America’s erstwhile ally, Turkey, which recently launched “Operation Olive Branch,” an incursion into the Kurdish-held Afrin canton in Syria’s northwest. Meanwhile, President Bashar al-Assad’s regime is assaulting mainly Sunni Arab rebels to the south, and completing its conquest of the Abu Duhur airbase in the northern Idlib Province.

All this bloodshed doesn’t just spoil Washington’s plans — it also calls into question whether the participants in the Syrian war are anywhere close, to quote another cliché, to “bleeding themselves out.” Even if the dynamics driving the overlapping conflicts of Syria’s war are drawing to a close, they aren’t generating a peaceful and orderly future for long-suffering Syrians. Rather, new conflicts are emerging fully formed from the wombs of the old.

Since mid-2014, there have been two parallel wars taking place on Syrian soil. The “original” war is the fight between the Sunni Arab rebels and the Bashar al-Assad regime, which is centered on the more densely populated area of western Syria. The second war is the contest between the Islamic State and the U.S.-led global coalition assembled against it.

U.S. Coalition Forces ‘Well Prepared’ to Defend Against Turkish Offensive in Syria

U.S. coalition forces stationed in the Syrian Kurdish town of Manbij are ready to guard against a threatened Turkish offensive that risks direct confrontation between the NATO allies, a coalition spokesman said Friday.

Turkey last week launched an air and ground assault on the northern Syrian enclave of Afrin in an attempt to oust the American-backed People’s Protection Units, or YPG, which Ankara considers a terrorist group. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has threatened to extend the operation 60 miles east to Manbij, where, unlike in Afrin, the Pentagon maintains U.S. troops.

“Our forces there are well prepared to defend themselves,” coalition spokesman Col. Ryan Dillon told the Washington Free Beacon. “We have air coverage over all of our troops so we’re always prepared to defend ourselves, whether it’s from ISIS or any other threat.”

Dillon reaffirmed American support for the Kurdish YPG fighters who make up the backbone of the Syrian Democratic Forces, a key U.S. partner in the campaign against the Islamic State. The Trump administration has continued to provide weapons, training, and air support to SDF troops over the protests of Turkey.

“They have played a role in making sure we can stay focused on defeating Daesh,” Dillon said, using an alternative name for ISIS. “That threat still exists, there’s still hardcore fighting happening, and that’s what we are still focused on and we don’t want anything to distract from that.”

Critically-Ill Baby Born to Syrian Refugees Released from Israeli Hospital after Successful Surgery

At the end of December, we reported on the airlift of a critically ill newborn boy to Sheba Medical Center’s Edmond and Lily Safra Children’s Hospital in Israel, just days after he was born to Syrian refugees in Cyprus.

ISRAEL21c has just received an update on the successful treatment of the infant’s serious congenital heart defect.

“It was not clear to us if he needed an operation or could be stabilized with proper treatment without the need for surgery. After monitoring the situation closely, it was decided that an operation was needed,” said Dr. David Mishali, chief of pediatric and congenital cardiothoracic surgery at Safra.

“We were able to substantially improve his pulmonary blood flow, which resulted in a quick improvement in his condition. After a period of recovery, we released him from the hospital today [January 24].” He is scheduled to return to Sheba when he is six months-plus old in order to finish the treatment for his condition.

“During the baby’s time in the hospital, we made sure that the family felt at home and we will continue to follow his progress.”

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