April 13, 2021

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03/07 Links Pt1: Aboriginal leader: Jews are the first peoples of Israel; Palestinian Journalists Protest Normalization


From Ian:

MEMRI: Palestinian Authority, Fatah Members Participate In Celebrations In Israeli City For Arab-Israeli Prisoner Released After Serving 15-Year Terrorism Sentence
On February 27, 2017, the Israeli city of Lod hosted a reception and celebration for Hafez ‘Abd Al-Fattah Muqabal, a local resident, who was released from Israeli prison after serving a 15-year sentence for perpetrating a 2002 terrorist attack at the Maccabim Security Checkpoint and for possession of illegal weapons.
The event was organized by Israeli-Arab Lod residents and was attended by Muqabal’s family and members of the Arab scouts, who held a musical procession in his honor.
The attendees also included released prisoners and a delegation from East Jerusalem, representing the Fatah movement’s Jerusalem region.
‘Awad Al-Salaymeh , a Fatah member in Jerusalem, said during the ceremony: “The issue of the prisoners is a top priority for the Palestinian national leadership, which will not rest until all the brave prisoners are released.” Jerusalem Palestinian Prisoners’ Club director Nasser Kos said that “the prisoners [represent] the true meaning of steadfastness and sacrifice for the sake of an honorable life in the homeland that the occupation is attempting to Judaize.”
Muqabal himself thanked Fatah in Jerusalem, stating: “My joy is incomplete, as I have left my prisoner brothers behind in the occupation prisons under harsh conditions.”
The reception hall was decorated with Palestinian Authority (PA) and Fatah flags, as well as Fatah posters expressing joy at Muqabal’s release.

Nyunggai Warren Mundine: Jews are the first peoples of Israel – with a right to exist

During Bill Clinton’s presidency, Israel and the PA came within a hair’s breadth of peace. Clinton blamed its failure on Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat. Clinton asked both parties to negotiate within set parameters on disputed issues or walk away. Israel agreed, offering Gaza and 97 per cent of the West Bank. Arafat refused. Clinton suggested Arafat “couldn’t make the final jump from revolutionary to statesman”. Arafat’s actions support this. By always wearing military uniform, he sent the message he believed in military victory, not a peace pact.
Clinton said the main hold-outs were the right of return (allowing Palestinian refugees since 1948 and their descendants to move to Israel) and Israeli control of the Western Wall. Palestinian demands on these issues reflect a refusal to recognise a Jewish state. The Palestinian leadership believes the right of return will make Israel an Arab state by flooding it with Palestinians. Ceding Jewish claims to Jerusalem means acknowledging Jews’ ancient and continuing presence there, contradicting Arab propaganda that Jews are interlopers in Israel, not its first peoples who lived there for millennia before Arab colonisation.
Sinai, Gaza and the West Bank demonstrate peace won’t happen unless both sides agree and Israel’s right to exist is respected.
The Palestinian leadership baulks at supporting a Jewish state. This intransigence has repeatedly stood in the way of statehood and weakened the Palestinian position. If not overcome, there will never be a Palestinian state. Israel has twice ceded settlements and land but will never cede its right to exist. Politicians shouldn’t expect it to.
Nyunggai Warren Mundine AO is Chairman and Managing Director of Nyungga [Australian Aboriginal] Black Group

Kevin D. Williamson: Fake Hate Crimes

The Republican party within living memory was led by a Jewish man. The Democratic party just came within a hair of elevating to its highest institutional position a man who has long associated with the worst kind of anti-Semites, conspiracy theorists, racists, and lunatics, who has worked with them and apologized for them: As it turns out, Keith Ellison will only be elevated to the rank of No. 2 rather than given the top leadership position in the party. There have been pogroms in modern American history: A notable one happened after the Reverend Al Sharpton gave a number of speeches denouncing Jewish “bloodsuckers” and delivered a stirring denunciation of Jewish merchants in which he insisted “You got to pay!” at a venue in which was hanging a banner reading “Hitler Did Not Do the Job.”
Whatever happened to Al Sharpton?
Do you know why there has not been a string of fake hate crimes and acts of violence conducted by right-wing hoaxers? Because the Right does not have to make this stuff up: Left-wing rioters really did set fire to Berkeley when an unpopular right-wing speaker was invited to campus. They really did burn Baltimore. Jeremiah Wright really is part of a loony race cult. Van Jones really is a 9/11 truther and an apologist for Mumia Abu-Jamal. No need for fiction.
The Left, particularly in the English-speaking world, has been in intellectual crisis since the fall of the Berlin Wall. The Left’s last really big idea was Communism. (Bernie Sanders would say “socialism,” and the difference is not entirely trivial: Communism begins with a gun in your face, socialism ends with a gun in your face.) When Communism was discredited — not only by the failures of central planning alluded to earlier but also by its horrifying body count of some 100 million victims in the 20th century — the Left was left intellectually unmoored. It has come up with strategies — environmentalism, feminism, identity politics, “1 percent” resentment politics — but no big ideas. This is a problem, because conservatism’s big idea — the marriage of free enterprise to liberal political institutions — is doing pretty well almost everywhere it has been tried. The United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and countries around the world from Western Europe to Scandinavia to Singapore that have adopted, however partially and imperfectly, the universal truths embedded in Anglo-American liberalism are doing pretty well.
Venezuela isn’t.
The Left, for the moment, cannot seriously compete in the theater of ideas. So rather than play the ball, it’s play the man. Socialism failed, but there is some juice to be had from convincing people who are not especially intellectually engaged and who are led by their emotions more than by their intellect — which is to say, most people — that the people pushing ideas contrary to yours are racists and anti-Semites, that they hate women and homosexuals and Muslims and foreigners, that they could not possibly be correct on the policy questions, because they are moral monsters. This is the ad hominem fallacy elevated, if not quite to a creed, then to a general conception of politics. Hence the hoaxes and lies and nonsense.
Phony hate crimes. Phony hate.

Top UN staffer in Gaza said elected to Hamas leadership

A senior Palestinian employee of a Gaza-based United Nations humanitarian agency was reportedly elected to Hamas’s political bureau, the top governing body of the terrorist organization the rules the Strip.
One the 15 members elected to the bureau in February’s internal elections was Muhammad al-Jamassi, a senior engineer employed by UNRWA, the UN agency in charge of Palestinian refugees, according to the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center.
Jamassi has held various positions within Hamas since 2007, including in the group’s public relations department and its affiliated charities, the center said.
He currently serves as board chairman for the UNRWA engineering department in central Gaza, and oversees all off the agency’s infrastructure projects in the area.
The February 13 vote saw another UNRWA staffer elected to a top leadership position in Hamas.
Suhail al-Hindi, a teacher heading the agency’s employee union in Gaza, was suspended by UNRWA after Israel demanded his immediate termination.

06-Mar-17: How could UNRWA possibly have known all these years that this Hamas figure had anything to do with Hamas?

Here’s some of what the Meir Amit report exposes today:
  • Hamas has long had wide support among UNRWA Gaza employees. It leverages this as part of its strategy to strengthen the grip it has on the Gazan Palestinian Arab population. UNRWA connections also provide Hamas with a way to advance the interests of its so-called military wing (we say all of Hamas is an armed terrorist entity).
  • Muhammad Daoud Ismail al-Jamassi (also known by his kunya Abu Obeida) is an engineer currently in charge of UNRWA’s engineering department for the refugee camps of the central Gaza Strip.
  • His election last month – along with Al-Hindi’s – to the new Hamas political bureau is a reflection of the importance Hamas attributes to Islamist activists who also hold senior UNRWA staff and management positions.
  • Al-Jamassi has been called a senior Hamas figure for at least a decade (the Meir Amit report gives details).
  • Unlike al-Hindi, al-Jamassi is not denying that he has been elected to the Hamas seat, and Hamas does not deny it either.
  • The Meir Amit report suggests that Hamas wants to use al-Jamassi’s access to UNRWA’s donated funds and materials so as to (illicitly) benefit Hamas.
  • Hamas makes use of al-Hindi and other Hamas-aligned teachers and school principals to indoctrinate school children with radical Islamist ideology and to maintain a paramilitary presence in the schools. (Readers of the Meir Amit report are left to assume that no one at UNRWA admits to knowing this.)
  • Members of the Al-Jamassi clan are well-known in Gaza. Al-Jamassi himself has held a string of positions inside Hamas while at the same time holding down an important UNRWA position. His involvement with Hamas’ Public Relations directorate goes back at least seven years.
  • In UNRWA’s engineering department, he’s the responsible officer for infrastructure projects in the refugee camps of the central Gaza Strip. These include Bureij (35,000 residents), Nuseirat (65,000 residents) and Deir al-Balah (20,000 residents) camps. We can assume there’s a substantial amount of money and materiel that passes through the hands of his engineers.

4 JCCs, ADL offices hit with threats in sixth wave of harassment

Four Jewish community centers across the United States and a number of Anti-Defamation League offices have received threats of lethal attack, the sixth such wave since the beginning of the year.
As of 9:30 a.m. Tuesday, Secure Community Network, the security arm of the Jewish Federations of North America, had reported bomb threats called into community centers in Milwaukee; Rockville, Maryland, a suburb of Washington D.C.; Portland, Oregon; and Rochester, New York.
In addition, the JCC in Syracuse, N.Y. was on lockdown after a threat was called in, SCN said. Paul Goldenberg, the SCN director, said the Syracuse threat was different in nature from the other threats.
Meanwhile, the ADL confirmed that several of its regional offices had been threatened.
“We just received multiple #bombthreats at ADL offices,” ADL said on Twitter. “Law enforcement personnel are responding. More details to come.”

Jewish politicians dispute NYPD finding cemetery damage not vandalism

Jewish leaders in New York are disputing the New York Police Department’s finding that 42 headstones in a Brooklyn cemetery toppled due to neglect and not vandalism.
The headstones at the largely Jewish Washington Cemetery originally were thought to have been toppled by vandals, following similar incidents at three other cemeteries — in St. Louis, Philadelphia and Rochester — in the last two weeks.
But police determined after an investigation on Sunday that the headstones had fallen off of their bases due to neglect and bad weather conditions.
New York State Assemblyman Dov Hikind told the New York Post late on Sunday that the people who reported the damage to him had never noticed it before despite walking by the cemetery every week to go to synagogue services.
“The people who first reported this to us were individuals who walk by … on the way to synagogue on Shabbos, and they were the ones who saw something that looked wrong to them,” Hikind told the newspaper. “If they had seen the [toppled stones] before,” they would have reported it, he said.

Israel’s enemies

Trump’s rejection of the Palestinian narrative of ‘rejectionism’ has enraged the Israel-haters even more who have no strategy other than increasing their fervent denunciations of Israel, pursing the pernicious, but ailing, BDS program, and parading their loud, ugly, anti-Semitic protests. In denouncing the tiny Jewish state once again, Browning and his co-signatories have torn another leaf straight from the Palestinian playbook: responsibility for peace, responsibility for terrorism, and responsibility for the misery of the Palestinian people rests entirely on the shoulders of Israel – that is, the Jews. And that’s all they ever say.
At home, Netanyahu faces his own political problems, holding together a fragile coalition government sitting on a slender majority of just six which is being pulled further to the Right because of security fears. Neither Hamas in Gaza, nor the hapless Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) in the West Bank, show any inclination to act with statesmanship and make the concessions needed to forge a negotiated settlement with Israel. Instead, they launch rockets, glorify terrorism and strut their victimhood before the international community. And so, a deft politician, ‘Bibi’ Netanyahu remains in office because of widely held, and well-founded fears about security.
The so-called ‘advocates’ for Palestine condemn Netanyahu but fail to understand that campaigns of indiscriminate killing will never win them the peaceful ‘two-state’ coexistence with Israel they profess to yearn for. They will do far more for their cause by using their advocacy to encourage the Palestinian leadership to step up and show themselves to be responsible and sincere negotiating partners. President Trump is losing patience; the advocates are losing time.

Trump and Netanyahu discuss Iranian threat over the phone

US President Donald Trump called Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Monday evening for a conversation that, according to the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), dealt at length with the Iranian threat.
The conversation came some three weeks after Netanyahu and Trump met in Washington. The call reportedly came while Netanyahu was, for the fourth time, being questioned by police regarding two cases under investigation.
According to a brief readout of the conversation provided by the PMO, the two men spoke at length about Iran’s nuclear ambitions and its aggressiveness in the region, and “about the need to work together to deal with these dangers.”
Netanyahu is scheduled to go to Russia on Thursday to discuss with Russian President Vladimir Putin Israel’s concerns that the Iranians are attempting to permanently establish themselves in Syria as a new order begins to take shape there.
According to the PMO’s readout, Netanyahu also expressed his appreciation for Trump’s strong condemnation of antisemitism during his speech last week to Congress.

EXCLUSIVE – Rep. Ron DeSantis: Trump Should Ignore Palestinian Threats Over Moving Embassy to Jerusalem

Speaking from Jerusalem in a Breitbart Jerusalem exclusive interview, Congressman Ron DeSantis (R-FL) strongly rejected Palestinian threats regarding the possibility of the U.S. moving its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
DeSantis, chairman of the subcommittee for National Security for the House Oversight Committee, was in Israel on Saturday and Sunday with a small delegation as part of a fact-finding tour to study the possibility of relocating the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem.
In response to his visit, Ziad Khalil Abu Zayyad, a spokesman for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah Party warned, the “US Congress should understand that moving the US embassy to Jerusalem will explode the situation in the Mena region (Middle East and North Africa.”
“This same team should consult with its military and political consultants in the (U.S.) State Department that stated several times in the past that (such) actions put American interests and presence in the region in danger,” Zayyad said.

Most Jewish Israelis say Trump will allow settlement growth

Jewish Israelis are largely unfazed by US President Donald Trump’s recent request that their government “hold off” on settlement building, as 55 percent still believe he will not oppose construction beyond the Green Line, according to a recent poll.
The monthly Israel Democracy Institute and Tel Aviv University Peace Index found that a majority (61%) of the Jewish public does not believe that Trump will try to impose a peace solution on Israel that opposes its position.
The figures come less than a month after the president told Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a joint press conference in Washington that he preferred a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict “that both parties like.”
A majority of Jewish and Arab Israelis were also pleased with the first meeting between the US and Israeli leaders, with 62% and 64%, respectively, deeming it to have been successful.

France ‘concerned’ by IDF plan to demolish Palestinian Beduin village

France bashed Israel on Monday for planning to demolish the illegal Beduin herding village of Al-Khan al-Ahmar, possibly as early as next week.
The French Foreign Ministry issued a statement about the matter just one day after the Civil Administration issued demolition orders against all the structures in the unrecognized Beduin village of tents and shacks between the settlements of Ma’aleh Adumim and Kfar Adumim.
“These demolition orders pose an imminent threat against an already vulnerable Palestinian community,” the French Foreign Ministry said, adding that it is “concerned.”
The village’s attorney, Shlomo Lecker, said on Monday that 44 demolition orders had been issued and the 35 families in Al-Khan al-Ahmar were given seven days to leave their homes. He is planning to petition against the decision in the High Court of Justice, after failing to dissuade the Civil Administration when the demolition orders were issued last month.
The office of the Coordinator for Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) said that a hearing on the matter was held last Thursday.

Report: Israel is helping India’s efforts to develop nuclear arsenal

India’s Hindustan Times published an editorial on Monday praising Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s intentions to strengthen overt ties with Israel.
Modi is expected to visit Israel later this year in a historic trip the newspaper says reflects the “sea change that has taken place between India and Israel” since the countries formalized relations in 1992.
The editorial said there was no point in further concealing the extent of relations between the countries in recent years, and Israel is “now one of the three largest suppliers of arms and weapons to India, a major source of assistance in the country’s counterterrorism programs and, uniquely in the world, a partner in the development of India’s nuclear arsenal.”
This alone “would indicate Israel has become strategically more trusted by India than any other country in the world,” the editorial said.

Indian PM Modi’s stand-alone Israel visit ‘shocks’ Palestinian leadership

What is being seen as a sharp departure from India’s longstanding Middle East policy, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will not be visiting the Palestinian Authority during his historic visit to Israel, the first ever by a sitting Prime Minister of the country. “Contrary to expectations that Modi would include Palestine in his itinerary like many ministers did in the past, he will be travelling only to Israel”, the leading Indian newspaper Time of India wrote.
Prime Minister Modi is expected to visit Israel in July to mark the 25th anniversary of the establishment of formal diplomatic ties between the two countries.
According to the Times of India, the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) envoy to India was ‘shocked’ at Modi government’s decision to skip the customary visit to the Palestinian Territories. “Mr. Modi is not visiting Palestine on this occasion. Inshallah [By Allah’s will], our President [Mahmoud Abbas] will be here this year,” PA-envoy Adnan Abu Alhaija told the Indian newspaper.
There were indications that all was not well with India-Palestinian (PLO) relationship that goes back more than four decades. In January, PLO-supremo Mahmoud Abbas visited neighbouring Pakistan but did not visit New Delhi.

Report: Homegrown Terrorism is Top Threat to UK

“The threat to the UK remains from homegrown terrorism, and is heavily youth- and male-oriented with British nationals prevalent among offenders.” — Islamist Terrorism: Analysis of Offenses and Attacks in the UK (1998–2015).
“The increased prevalence of smaller cells and individualistic offending, suggests a rise in terrorism cases that feature shorter lead times to offending and fewer opportunities for identification.” — Islamist Terrorism: Analysis of Offenses and Attacks in the UK (1998–2015).
“While analysis of pre-offense behaviors shows that there is no one profile for engagement with Islamism-inspired terrorism, some trends can be identified. Offenders commonly consumed extremist and/or instructional material prior to, or as part of, their offending. Much of the pro-jihadist material accessed promotes ‘them and us’ thinking, dehumanization of the enemy, and attitudes that justify offending.” — Islamist Terrorism: Analysis of Offenses and Attacks in the UK (1998–2015).
“Analysis of common sites of inspiration and facilitation appears to corroborate current counter-radicalization policy priorities such as restricting terrorist and violent extremist material on the internet, supporting at-risk sectors and empowering families to safeguard against extremism.” — Islamist Terrorism: Analysis of Offenses and Attacks in the UK (1998–2015).

Guess Why The British Terrorism Rate Has Tripled In Five Years

A new 1,000-page report published by the British think-tank The Henry Jackson Society has revealed that roughly 10% of the UK’s Islamist terrorists come from just five ward councils in Birmingham.
“This is more than the whole of West Yorkshire, Greater Manchester and Lancashire combined, even though their Muslim population is higher at 650,000,” reports The Daily Mail. “Only five wards in Birmingham – Springfield, Sparkbrook, Hodge Hill, Washwood Heath and Bordesley Green – account for 26 terrorists.”
The specified neighborhoods in Birmingham are jihadist breeding grounds, according to the security think-tank’s terrorism map.
A shocking “26 of the 269 jihadis came from the highly segregated neighborhoods,” notes the Mail. “Bombing is the most common type of offence planned or committed but there has been an 11-fold increase in plots involving Islamic State-style beheadings and stabbings.”
Occupied by majority-Muslim populations, these segregated neighborhoods churn out Islamist terrorists like a Salafist mosque in Saudi Arabia, resulting in a sharp spike in terror-related offenses. In fact, the terror rate has tripled in the last five years alone.

When Palestinian Journalists Protest Normalization

Al Quds, a Palestinian newspaper based in eastern Jerusalem, has bucked norms by publishing announcements by the Israeli Civil Administration. The paper also raised ire for a 2016 interview with Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman. That’s why the paper is taking heat from Palestinians who oppose anything that smacks of “normalizing” Israeli-Palestinian relations.
Their logic is that Israeli-Palestinian activities on the political, economic and social levels legitimizes “the occupation.”
It’s telling that some of the biggest anti-normalization critics of Al Quds are actually Palestinian journalists.
That’s the backstory for a Maan News report that dozens of Palestinian journalists demonstrated against the paper outside the offices of Palestinian Journalists’ Union in the West Bank town of al-Birah, which is near Ramallah.

Shmuley Boteach: No Holds Barred Midnight at Joshua’s Tomb with the IDF

It’s midnight. It’s cold. We’re headed in.
Olive green-clad soldiers are on every street corner, armed to the teeth. Siren lights and a few dim streetlamps provide the only illumination. Amid the military movements, an eerie silence prevails.
I am at the vanguard of thousands of Jews who will tonight pour into the Arab village of Kif al-Harat in Samaria to pray at the tomb of Joshua, heir to Moses, who conquered the land for the Israelites more than 3,000 years ago.
Jews are allowed to pray here only four times a year.
Tonight, the anniversary of the death of Moses and the succession of Joshua, when he became the Israelite leader, is one of those nights. Jews cannot pray at other times because it is simply too dangerous and they may pay for their prayers with their lives.
So the IDF arranges a military operation involving scores of soldiers, armored vehicles and drones to secure the area for the Jewish insertion four nights a year. Even then, the Jews can only go in late at night when the risks are reduced.

First Spike missile launch from unmanned Israeli Navy vehicle

For the first time, an Israeli Navy unmanned vessel fired a Spike interceptor missile during an exercise, the army said on Tuesday.
The missile, which was launched from a Protector unmanned surface vehicle, was fired during a test by Rafael systems in which a number of missiles were launched and hit simulated enemy targets.
According to the IDF, the test was carried out from Ashdod port by Squadron 916, which patrols off the coast of the Gaza Strip.
Israel’s Navy is in charge of keeping the trade routes crossing the territorial waters of Israel secure, an important role as most of the goods imported to Israel are transported by sea. It is also in charge of protecting the gas rigs off the coast of Ashkelon as well as the entirety of the coastline safe from maritime terrorism.
The Protector unmanned surface vehicle is one of the Navy’s unmanned ships used alongside manned navy gunships and patrol boats to help patrol the country’s coasts and is also in use by a number of other naval fleets around the world.

IDF prosecution appeals for stiffer sentence for Hebron shooter

The IDF Prosecution on Tuesday petitioned the Military Appeals Court to stiffen the sentence of Hebron shooter Elor Azaria from 18 months in prison to between 36-60 months in prison.
The appeal comes less than one week after Azaria himself appealed his conviction last week.
Azaria was sentenced in February for killing Palestinian terrorist Abdel Fatah al-Sharif on March 24, 2015, as he lay nearly motionless on the ground, around 10 minutes after Sharif had attacked two Israeli soldiers.
At a press conference last week after filing the appeal, Azaria’s father, Charlie, said that the IDF was “trying to scare us, but we will not give up.”
Charlie was referring to a meeting on Sunday between Azaria’s main defense lawyers – Ilan Katz and Eyal Besserglick, and Military Advocate-General Brig.-Gen. Sharon Afek – who resigned rather than file an appeal.

Army disarms bombs near Gaza fence; cross-border fire reported

Israeli soldiers located and disarmed two improvised explosive devices near the security fence surrounding the northern Gaza Strip on Tuesday, the army said.
The Palestinian Islamic Jihad group said that one of its fighters was lightly injured in by an Israeli tank attack at an “observation post” near where the IEDs were found.
The Gaza health ministry confirmed that a Palestinian man had been lightly injured by the Israeli military near Jabaliya in the northern Gaza Strip, but it was not clear if it was directly related to the IED incident.
A spokesperson for the Israel Defense Forces said the army was aware of the reports and was investigating the claim.
The IEDs were placed in an area close to the security fence where Gaza residents are not allowed to enter, but on the Palestinian side of the barrier.

Arabs mourn ‘hipster terrorist’ killed in shootout

Several dozen Israeli Arabs gathered Monday night in Haifa’s German colony, at a site known in Arabic as “Prisoner Square,” to protest the killing of the suspected terrorist Basel al-A’araj in Ramallah.
They stood for a minute’s silence in memory of the “educated martyr,” as A’araj is being called on social media.
The event was unusual in that most of those participating were not hard-line Islamists but rather young Israeli Arabs with no religious background or affiliation with any movement. To a large extent, that speaks to whom A’araj was.
A’araj was killed in a shootout with Israeli’s counterterrorism unit close to the Great Mosque in al-Bireh, adjacent to Ramallah where he was hiding in the crawlspace.
Israeli security forces claim that A’araj directed an armed cell that carried out shooting attacks. Other members of the cell were arrested in a separate incident.

Daniel Pipes: I was told to stay out of Turkey

I participated recently in a conference about the Eastern Mediterranean at the Begin-‎Sadat Center for Strategic Studies; and because Tel Aviv is the diplomatic ‎center of Israel, its events attract a good number of diplomats. This conference was no ‎exception, attracting a foreign minister and other diplomats from several Eastern ‎Mediterranean countries, including Albania, Cyprus, Egypt, Greece, and Turkey. ‎
My talk surveyed the role of Islamism in the region. In the question-and-answer ‎portion, Turkey’s newly appointed ambassador Kemal Okem vigorously protested ‎points I had made about his country. I defended these, then challenged Okem (in a ‎video that can be viewed here.
Pipes: “I started going to Turkey in 1972. I studied Turkish, not very ‎successfully, but I did study it. I’ve gone back many times. And at this point, I ‎dare not go back to Turkey because I am critical, as you may have heard, of the ‎government and, in particular, I supported the July 15th coup, [a position] which ‎is absolutely an outrage in Turkey. And so, I dare not go back to Turkey. And ‎so, let me ask you, Mr. Ambassador, would it be it safe for me to go to Turkey ‎and spend some time there or just go through the airport? You have a great ‎airline that I would love to use but I dare not use it. Would I be safe going to ‎Turkey?”

ISIS Leader: ‘Nobody Knew Reestablishing the Caliphate Could Be So Complicated’ (satire)

When al-Baghdadi took over as caliph, he assumed that those who had failed to establish a perfect society governed by the Quran were simply corrupt and incompetent. But upon taking office, he discovered many of the issues facing the Muslim world didn’t have easy solutions.
“It turns out religious texts really aren’t suited for use as a modern legal code. A lot of stuff in there just doesn’t make sense,” the caliph complained. “Yesterday I had to behead a guy for playing Pokémon Go. Even I don’t understand these laws sometimes, and no one knows laws like I do.”
Al-Baghdadi, however, stopped short of taking responsibility for the promises he made when he restored the caliphate.
“I blame the Zionist media,” he said. “Why didn’t they warn me that it was going to be so complicated?”

Official: Iranian Attack Vessels Forced USNS Invincible to Change Course in Strait of Hormuz

Multiple Iranian Revolutionary Guard fast-attack vessels came close to a US Navy ship in the Strait of Hormuz Saturday, forcing the ship to change direction, an American official said Monday.
According to the official, the Iranian boats came within 600 yards of the USNS Invincible, a tracking ship, Reuters reported. The Invincible was also being escorted by three ships from the British Royal Navy at the time.
The official said that the naval vessel attempted to contact the Iranian ships over radio, but there was no response, and the interaction was “unsafe and unprofessional.”
Meanwhile, US President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke briefly Monday evening in a conversation that primarily focused on the Iranian threat.
According to a readout provided by the Prime Minister’s Office, the Israeli and American leaders spoke about Iran’s nuclear ambitious and its regional aggressiveness, as well as “about the need to work together to deal with these dangers.”

2,100 Iranian fighters said killed in Iraq, Syria

More than 2,000 fighters sent from Iran have been killed in Iraq and Syria, the head of Iran’s veterans’ affairs office said Tuesday.
“Some 2,100 martyrs have been martyred so far in Iraq or other places defending the holy mausoleums,” Mohammad Ali Shahidi told the state-run IRNA news agency.
Shahidi, who is head of Iran’s Foundation of Martyrs and Veterans Affairs, was speaking at a conference on martyrdom culture in Tehran.
The figure was more than double the number he gave in November, which referred only to Syria.
Iran is, with Russia, the main military backer of Syrian President Bashar Assad, and also organizes militias fighting the Islamic State group in Iraq.
Shahidi did not provide details on the nationalities of those killed.

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