July 10, 2020

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03/12 Links Pt1: The Illusion that the Palestinian Leadership Is Prepared to Negotiate Peace; Remembering the victims of Dalal Mughrabi


From Ian:

Jason Greenblatt: The Illusion that the Palestinian Leadership Is Prepared to Negotiate Peace
As my colleagues and I delved into the history of the Oslo peace process and the unsuccessful efforts of multiple U.S. administrations to bring Israel and the Palestinians to a deal, one issue stood out: While successive Israeli governments (left and right) had acknowledged the Palestinians’ ultimate goal – some form of a Palestinian state or self-determination – the Palestinian leadership continues to refuse to acknowledge Israel’s ultimate goal.

In 2014, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas insisted that millions of descendants of the original Palestinian refugees from the 1948 Arab-Israeli war had a personal “right of return” to all of Israel, including Tel Aviv and Haifa. The Trump plan stops the nonsense and says no to using generations of Palestinians as pawns to keep the 1948 war alive.

Several U.S. administrations and Israeli prime ministers had presented the Palestinian leadership with opportunities to end the conflict. Each time, the Palestinian leadership walked away, at times not even advancing a counteroffer. They weren’t willing to compromise.

So long as Palestinian leaders were feeding their people a steady diet of incitement against Israel, plying them with the myth that they would achieve their claimed right of return, and glorifying murderers of Israeli civilians as “martyrs,” there could never be a true end of conflict with Israelis.

Our approach, therefore, was to formulate a plan to deal with the situation as it was, in a realistic and implementable manner, and not through a prism that filtered out the harsh realities of the past 25 years of unsuccessful peacemaking. The Palestinian leadership, of course, rejected this plan before they even saw it.

After observing Ramallah’s behavior over time, the Trump administration determined that we were not going to pander to the illusion that the Palestinian leadership was now prepared to negotiate in good faith. And we were not going to immunize them from the consequences of their actions.

The Palestinian ‘Right of Return’ Is Really About Destroying Israel

Demanding that six million Palestinian “refugees” have a “right” to “return” to a place where most of them never lived runs counter to Palestinian claims that they want to have their own independent state. As the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting and Analysis noted in The Washington Post, this demand negates the idea of Palestinian statehood — unless that state means, by definition, the demographic end of the Jewish nation of Israel. As the American Jewish International Relations Institute observed, such a move would “end the existence of the majority-Jewish state” in Israel.

In their unguarded moments, Palestinian leaders and their state-controlled media have said as much. Palestinian Media Watch, which monitors Arab media in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, has highlighted that official PA television promotes the “right of return” by showing a map of “Palestine” that simply erases Israel. PA-approved textbooks also hail that demand.

Defenders of the “right of return” often cite UN General Assembly Resolutions 194 and 394 and Security Council Resolution 224 to buttress their claims. But the Arab states voted against 194 in part because it did not establish a “right to return.” Indeed, it only “recommended” that original refugees from the conflict, not descendants, be permitted to return, and only after they agree to live “at peace with their neighbors.” (It should also be noted, as the late historian Martin Gilbert has documented, that these resolutions can be applied to the Jewish refugees as well.)

For decades, Palestinian leaders have rejected offers for statehood and peace while citing a “right” that doesn’t exist. Both the press and policymakers should speak honestly and openly about what it would truly mean and perhaps reflect on why Palestinian leaders continue to demand it.

Yisrael Medad: The Assault on Israel as the ‘Jewish State’

No matter how academic or intellectual they are — or project themselves as being — those promoting a pro-Palestinian agenda always engage in not only historic revisionism and fallacies, but in complete misrepresentation of facts. Right at the beginning, Nusseibeh asserts that the Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry concluded in 1946 that the demand for a “Jewish state” was not part of the obligations of the Balfour Declaration or the British Mandate.

That declaration includes, however, the phrases “sympathy with Jewish Zionist aspirations” and “a national home for the Jewish people.” Yes, the word “state” is missing, but everything else is there.

For Nusseibeh, however, “even in the First Zionist Congress in Basel in 1897, when Zionists sought to ‘establish a home for the Jewish people,’” there was no reference of a “Jewish state.” As support, he notes that Judah Magnes and Martin Buber — two of the political minimalists who carried no responsibility of elected office in the Yishuv — avoided the clear and explicit term “Jewish state,” as if that means anything.

No non-Jew is discriminated against by law, except, of course, for the Law of Return, which is what makes Israel the Jewish state.

Of course, he ignores the League of Nations 1922 Mandate decision, one approved by 50 nations, based on the Balfour Declaration, which reads quite forthrightly that “recognition has thereby been given to the historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine and to the grounds for reconstituting their national home in that country.”

The whole purpose of the Mandate was to “secure the establishment of the Jewish national home,” not an Arab one. The British Mandate sought “the cooperation of all Jews who are willing to assist in the establishment of the Jewish national home.” “Jewish immigration” was to be facilitated and “close settlement by Jews on the land” was to be encouraged. A “Jewish Agency,” representing the Zionist movement and world Jewry, was to be a full partner in the recreation of the Jewish national home.

And Nusseibeh is a “philosopher”?

He is also an expert on Jews, Jewish nationalism, and Judaism.

He asserts that the term “Jewish” can apply “both to the ancient race [?] of Israelites and their descendants, as well as to those who believe in and practice the religion of Judaism.” But he has a problem as “some ethnic Jews are atheists and there are converts to Judaism.” There we have it: non-Jews telling us Jews who we are. He is also upset because defining a modern nation-state, he posits, “by one ethnicity or one religion is problematic in itself.”

Local NGO B’Tselem urges ICC probe into alleged Israeli ‘war crimes’

A report published on Thursday by left-wing NGO B’Tselem slammed Israel for claiming that the International Criminal Court has no jurisdiction in “Palestine” as relying “on intentional misquotation, disregard for international law and an absurd misrepresentation of reality,” the Jerusalem Post reported.

The ICC Pretrial Chamber is expected to decide sometime after March whether to recognize a “State of Palestine” and approve a full criminal probe of Israel and Hamas for alleged war crimes.

On December 20, ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said she was ready to move forward on allegations against Israel relating to Operation Protective Edge in Gaza in 2014 and the settlement enterprise, as well as potentially the 2018-2019 Gaza border conflict.

Israel quickly filed two briefs arguing that since there is no sovereign Palestine to refer a case to the ICC, its intervention would simply politicize a diplomatic dispute that Israel and the Palestinians must resolve in negotiations.

Several countries and NGOs have filed legal briefs to support each side of the legal dispute, but B’Tselem is now the first Israeli NGO to support the Palestinian side, according to the report.

B’Tselem’s counter-brief does acknowledge that the “status of a ‘non-member observer state,’ such as that of Palestine, does raise questions that the drafters of the Rome Statute likely never imagined and therefore did not address in the Statute itself.”

However, the B’Tselem analysis then criticizes Israel’s arguments point by point saying that, “the Prosecutor actually calls for a broad reading of the ICC’s jurisdiction that sees past the rigid, traditional concept of a sovereign state. The argument is that an expansive interpretation would more accurately reflect the object and purpose of the Rome Statute, which include combating immunity for perpetrators of serious crimes.”

B’Tselem, according to the report, suggests that the Rome Statute define a “state” in a broader fashion, whereas Israel maintains that the ICC’s Rome Statute must define a “state” the same way the Vienna Convention does, requiring full sovereignty and control over territory, borders and other functions.

UNHRC suspends session, Israeli-Palestinian debate due to coronavirus

The United Nations Human Rights Council has suspended its 43rd session in Geneva as a result of the coronavirus outbreak as of this Friday, thereby delaying its Agenda 7 debate on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict until an unspecified time.

The decision came one day after the World Health Organization said that the coronavirus, which causes COVID-19, has become a global pandemic. Experts have spoken against large gatherings and assemblies where the virus has been transmitted.

UNHRC president Elisabeth Tichy-Fisslberger told the council on Thursday that its bureau had met on Wednesday evening to discuss the impact of the growing coronavirus threat on the session.

“The Bureau discussed with the UNOG [Office at Geneva] Director for Conference Management and the HRC Secretariat the implications of the evolving situation,” she said. “It also took into account the recent assessment of the WHO and concluded that under the current circumstances, an orderly suspension of the session by the end of this week would be the best approach to follow.” After listening to her, the council voted for the suspension.

The session began on February 24 and was scheduled to run until March 20, with ten items on its agenda. But it will only conclude four of them before it disbands on Friday. Participants have still been asked to submit resolutions to be voted on, including with regard to Agenda Item 7.

Coronavirus puts damper on Independence Day celebrations

The coronavirus outbreak in Israel stands to put a damper on the country’s 72 Independence Day celebrations, as public gatherings of over 100 people have been barred.

According to Army Radio, Culture and Sports Minister Miri Regev announced Wednesday that, complying with government orders, the traditional torch-lighting ceremony held on Mount Herzl in Jerusalem will be held without spectators, as will the Israel Prize ceremony.

Both events are usually open to the public and attended by hundreds of Israeli and foreign dignitaries.

No word has been given as to the fate of other Independence Day events, but most are likely to be canceled as well, as all nonvital public gatherings are likely to be canceled as well.

This will be the first time since Israel’s inception that Independence Day celebrations will be either canceled or held without spectators.

“This year, for the first time, the torch-lighting ceremony that marks the end of Memorial Day and the beginning of Independence Day festivities will be held without an audience,” Regev said, citing the government directive barring mass gatherings.

Israel’s schools to be shuttered until after Passover due to virus – reports

The National Security Council and the education and health ministries were holding deliberations Thursday on whether to order the closure of elementary, middle and high schools throughout the country to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

Despite Education Minister Rafi Peretz saying earlier in the day that the country’s schools would remain open despite increasingly tight restrictions from health officials, multiple Hebrew media reports said that schools would be ordered closed until at least after the Passover vacation next month. They said an announcement would be made on Thursday evening.

On Wednesday, the Health Ministry banned gatherings of more than 100 people in enclosed spaces, prompting the secretary-general of the Israel Teachers’ Union, Yaffa Ben-David, to demand that all schools be closed. Several school students in Israel have already been diagnosed with COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.

“I call on the prime minister to show national responsibility for public health, including toward the country’s students, educators and their families, in order to stop the spread of the virus and the next victims,” she wrote in a message to education workers.

Directing her remarks at Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, she appealed for him to close all educational institutions, kindergartens and schools.

Teachers have raised concerns over their exposure to hundreds of students every day.

The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, meanwhile, said Thursday that it would open the second semester of the year a week late and that all studies for its more than 20,000 students would be conducted remotely through video streaming, starting March 22.

In a statement, the university said the postponement in opening the semester, which had been scheduled to start next week, was in order to implement distance learning system at its two campuses in Givat Ram and Mount Scopus.

Remembering the victims of Dalal Mughrabi

On this day in 1978, 42 years ago, Palestinian terrorists including Dalal Mughrabi, carried out the Coastal Road Massacre, killing 39 Israelis including 13 children and wounding 71 others.

On March 11, 1978, twelve members of a Palestinian terrorist cell led by Dalal Mughrabi landed on a beach north of Tel Aviv. Armed with Kalashnikov rifles, mortars and explosives, they walked to a nearby highway, where they opened fire at passing vehicles before hijacking a bus.
The terrorists shot the passengers on the bus and fired at passing cars.

Among the victims of the terror attack (may their memories be for a blessing):
Revital (Tali) Aharonovitch (14)
Naomi Elichai (18)
Erez Alfred (5)
Yitzhak Alfred (44)
Galit Ankwa (2)
Yitzhak (Yitzik) Ankwa (10)
Haviv Ankwa (38)
Mathilda (Mathy) Askenazy-Daniel (68)
Yehuda Basterman (32)
Rina Bushkenitch (34)
Dov Bushkenitch (36)
Liat Gal-On (6)
Shim’aon Glotman (43)
Amnon Drori (43)
Naama Hadani (5)
Ilan Hohman (3)
Roi Hohman (6)
Rebecca Hohman (28)
Mordechai (Moti) Zit (9)
Josef Kheloani (66)
Malka Leibovitch-Wiess (58)
Tzyona Lozia-Cohen (32)
Abraham Lozia (37)
Otari Mansurov (37)
Yoav (Yoavi) Meshkel (6)
Tuvia Rozner (53)
Gail Rubin (40)
Meir Segal (73)
Katy (Rina) Sosensky (49)
Joseph Sosensky (56)
Zvi (Zvika) Eshet (46)
Omry Tel-Oren (14)

Today, Palestinian textbooks describe Dalal Mughrabi “as a central female role model for Palestinian girls”. There are 5 Palestinian schools named after her. In 2018, a textbook for Palestinian 5th graders devoted an entire chapter to her, writing
“Our Palestinian history is filled with many names of shahids (martyrs) who sacrificed their souls for the homeland, among them is the shahid Dalal Mughrabi, who in her struggle marked one of the images of opposition and bravery, and for that her memory remains forever etched in our hearts and minds,”

Israel protests Russian FM Lavrov’s meeting with Islamic Jihad leader

Israel registered an official protest with Moscow on Thursday, after Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov met with Palestinian Islamic Jihad secretary-general Ziyad al-Nakhala.

Israel’s interim Ambassador in Russia Eli Belocerkovsky told Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov, who also met with Nakhala on Wednesday night, that Islamic Jihad is a “terrorist organization supported by Iran that does not recognize Israel’s right to exist and systematically undermines arrangements in the Gaza Strip by attacking Israeli civilians.”

The Russian Foreign Ministry website said the meeting between Lavrov and Nakhala focused mostly on the West Bank and Gaza and “the task of speedy restoration of Palestinian national unity on the political platform of the Palestinian Liberation Organization as a necessary condition for establishing sustainable direct negotiations with Israel.”

The Russian side “reaffirmed its firm commitment to the two-state principle” based on UN Security Council and General Assembly resolutions and the Arab Peace Initiative, Moscow said.

PLO Enraged by US Downgrading Eastern Jerusalem ‘Palestinians’ to ‘Arabs’

The “Israel, West Bank, and Gaza” section of the State Department’s 2019 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices is critical of all three governments (Israel, the Palestinian Authority and Hamas) for their failures in preserving individuals’ freedom from arbitrary deprivation of life and other unlawful or politically motivated killings; disappearance; torture and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment; harsh prison and detention center conditions; arbitrary arrest or detention; unlawful arrest procedures and treatment of detainees; and the denial of fair public trial.

As is usually the case, the State Dept. report is blunt and extremely critical, as befits an agency of the world’s most prominent democracy and the leader of the free world. But senior PLO official Hanan Ashrawi, who resides in Jerusalem, had this to say about the enlightening report:

“Palestinian Jerusalemites are Palestinians, and they’ve been living there for centuries. Just to decide this, to eradicate their identity and history and culture and rename them at will, is not only preposterous, its unconscionable.”

Ashrawi, who was born in Shechem, by the way, was enraged by three paragraphs in the report. Here they are, with the “outrageous” parts in bold:

Although the law provides that all residents of Jerusalem are fully and equally eligible for public services provided by the municipality and other Israeli authorities, the Jerusalem municipality failed to provide sufficient social services, education, infrastructure, and emergency planning for neighborhoods where the majority of residents were not Israelis, especially in the areas between the security barrier and the municipal boundary. Approximately 117,000 Palestinians lived in that area, of whom approximately 61,000 were registered as Jerusalem residents, according to government data. According to the Jerusalem Institute for Policy Research, 78 percent of East Jerusalem’s Arab residents and 86 percent of Arab children in East Jerusalem lived in poverty in 2017.

‘E1 road is start of apartheid,’ PA official states

Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat on Wednesday said that Israel’s plans to pave a road between the E1 area and Jerusalem reflected the start of Israel’s “annexation and apartheid plan,” the Jerusalem Post reported.

The E1 area, which stretches across 7 kilometers (4 miles) just east of the Jerusalem municipal boundary, between Jerusalem and the suburb of Maaleh Adumim, has been the focus of conservancy as the Palestinians claim it is essential for their future state.

Earlier this week, Defense Minister Naftali Bennett said he plans to advance plans of the road to facilitate the construction of some 3,500 homes in Ma’aleh Adumim.

According to the Jerusalem Post, Bennett himself spoke of the project as the “sovereignty road.” It would link the Palestinian village of az-Za’ayyem outside of Jerusalem with the neighboring villages and towns of Anata, Hizme and A-Ram.

PA official: Israel exploiting coronavirus to promote annexation

PLO Executive Committee member Hanan Ashrawi on Wednesday accused Israel of exploiting the coronavirus pandemic to “annex Palestinian occupied territories.”

According to a report in Israel National News, Ashrawi urged the international community to prevent Israel “from taking advantage of the global health and economic crises” to promote its plan.

“Israel is taking advantage of the spread of the coronavirus to accelerate the process of annexing territories in the West Bank and provide protection for the armed extremist settlers to continue their ‘terror’ against the ‘helpless’ Palestinian people,” Ashrawi said in a statement.

The statement was released following remarks by Defense Minister Naftali Bennett saying that he plans to promote paving a road between the E1 area and Jerusalem, which he called the “road of sovereignty” project.

The E1 area, which stretches across 7 kilometers (4 miles) just east of the Jerusalem municipal boundary, between Jerusalem and the suburb of Maaleh Adumim, has been the focus of conservancy as the Palestinians claim it is essential for their future state.

“The activity of the settlers against the Palestinians has escalated following the coronavirus outbreak in Bethlehem, which required large-scale preventive measures, while at the same time, the settlers uprooted 1,200 trees in the Bethlehem area, attempted to kidnap two minors in the village of Turmus Ayya, attacked Palestinians in Huwwara and Burin, and broke into the Al-Tira neighborhood of Ramallah,” Ashrawi said, according to the report.

Seth J. Frantzman: Is Iran behind Rocket Attack on U.S. Forces in Iraq?

Two Americans were reportedly killed on Wednesday evening when more than a dozen katyusha-style rockets hit the Taji base in Iraq where US-led Coalition troops are based. It brings to four the number of Americans killed in a week. Two US Marines were killed fighting ISIS earlier this week. However the attack on Wednesday has all the finger prints of an Iranian-backed militia attack.

The US-led Coalition said that 15 small rockets had hit Camp Taji base at 7:35pm and that assessments were ongoing.

According to Jennifer Griffin at Fox News two Americans and one British soldier were killed when 15 katyusha rockets struck the base at 7:52 in the evening. ISIS does not have the capability to fire so many rockets. The rocket attack is similar to an attack in December that killed a US contractor near K-1 base north of Kirkuk. That attack was carried out Kataib Hezbollah, a pro-Iranian militia in Iraq.

The US struck five Kataib Hezbollah targets in response. That cycle of airstrikes led to a protest at the US embassy and the US killing IRGC commander Qasem Soleimani and Kataib Hezbollah leader Abu Mahdi al-MUhandis on January 3.

US-Iran tensions have risen over the last year. In October and November there were around a dozen rocket attacks on bases with US troops and on the Green Zone. Since the January 3 airstrike Iran carried out a ballistic missile attack on Ayn al-Assad base in Iraq, wounding more than 100 Americans who suffered cuncussions.

The US had announced this week that it was seeking to deploy air defense against missile attacks to Iraq. It has been attempting to do so since January but bureaucratic hurdles have prevented the deployment. CENTCOM head General Kenneth McKenzie was in Iraq on February 4 to request deployment of the air defense systems and said on Tuesday that air defense was on the way to Iraq. There are some 5,000 US personnel in Iraq at a half-a dozen major installations. Some 1,000 are at Ayn al-Assad with others at Camp Taji, Balad, Erbil, Baghdad and smaller posts such as Q-West. Patriot missiles will not necessarily help against the smaller rocket attacks, such as 107 mm rockets, that have been fired in the past. Mortars have also been used to harass bases such as Balad Air Force base.

Iran’s Press TV boasted about the attack on Camp Taji, noting it was also targeted on January 14. The Press TV report likely links Iran to the attack as Iran appears to have received information about the number of katyusha rockets fired. Iran says that as dozen rockets were fired. In recent weeks pro-Iranian groups have threatened the US in Iraq.

MEMRI: In Lebanon, Criticism Of New Government: A Puppet Government Controlled By Hizbullah That Won’t Extricate Country From Its Crisis

On February 11, 2020, Lebanon’s government, headed by Prime Minister Hassan Diab, secured a vote of confidence in parliament. The formation of the new government had followed prime minister Sa’d Al-Hariri’s resignation in response to protests in the country against regime corruption and the economic crisis, that broke out on October 17, 2019.[1]

Once tasked with forming the government, Diab, who is supported by Hizbullah and its allies, aimed to mollify the protestors and the general public who were demanding a government not reliant on existing political elements. Pledging that it would comprise independent technocrats, the government he presented included 19 ministers, all unfamiliar names. However, most of them are not experts in the areas for which they are responsible, and nearly all of them were chosen by the March 8 camp – that is, by Hizbullah and its allies.[2]

Because of this, the newly confirmed government already faces serious opposition from protestors, who feel cheated. Demonstrations outside the parliament building immediately following the government’s confirmation led to clashes with security forces.

Also critical of the new government were newspaper op-eds by public figures and columnists identified with the March 14 camp. They called on the public not to have confidence in the new government, referring to it, inter alia, as a disgraceful government and a puppet government – and not a government of independent technocrats as promised, but one dominated by Hizbullah. Some argued that it would represent Iran and the resistance axis and make it difficult to obtain aid from the U.S., Europe, and Arab countries. They also said that it would be incapable of solving Lebanon’s economic problems – which include restrictions for banks on withdrawals and overseas transfers and a public debt of some $90 billion. Since this government is neither truly independent nor reformist, they added, it will not institute real reforms, tackle the security situation, or deal with the weapons illegally possessed by Hizbullah.

Syrian State Media Says Unidentified Jets Hit Border Town With Iraq

Unidentified jets hit targets south east of the Syrian town of Albukamal along a strategic border crossing with Iraq with only material damage, state media said late on Wednesday.

It gave no details. Western intelligence sources say the border town lies on a strategic supply route for Iranian-backed militias who regularly send reinforcements from Iraq into Syria to aid Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces.

Israel has attacked Iranian bases in the area several times since the start of the year, they added.

Two American personnel and one from Britain were killed, and about a dozen people were wounded when 15 small rockets hit Iraq’s Taji military camp north of Baghdad on Wednesday, two US officials told Reuters, citing preliminary information.

Albukamal along the Iraqi-Syrian border crossing is crucial for Iran’s bid to cement its growing sway over a corridor of territory from Tehran to Beirut.

MEMRI: Shi’ite Cleric In Iraq Accuses U.K., U.S. Of ‘Demoralizing’ Iraqis For Welcoming Iraqi Government’s Decision To ‘Recognize LGBT Community’

In a March 3, 2020 tweet, the U.K. Embassy in Iraq welcomed the Iraqi government’s decision to acknowledge the rights of the LGBT community and commended the role of a local human rights organization that contributed to the development. “We recognize the significant work IraQueer has done to advance the rights of homosexuals. We welcome the recent recognition by the Iraqi government of the right of individuals to live, regardless of their sexual orientation. Live and let others live,” said the tweet.[1]

The tweet sparked controversy among Iraqi conservatives, who often view gays as sexual deviants and call for their persecution. The tweet, which was later deleted from the embassy’s Twitter account, came amid a campaign by pro-Iran clerics and militias to discredit the anti-government protesters who took the streets of Baghdad and cities throughout the Shi’ite-majority south of Iraq since October 2019, calling for a new political system.

As part of this campaign, adversaries have accused young protesters of sedition and even tried to link them to the U.S. and Britain to delegitimize them. Clerics such as Muqtada Al-Sadr often slam the protests as being rife with “nudity, promiscuity, drunkenness, immorality, debauchery… and non-believers.” Hence, Iran-backed clerics and militias used the U.K. Embassy tweet as an opportunity to claim that the U.K., the U.S., and the protesters were seeking “to demoralize” the Islamic nature of Iraqi society.

A day after the tweet, pro-Iran social media users shared a video claiming that IraQueer, the organization that the U.K. Embassy tweet commended, is a “secretive” organization that receives funding from the U.K. for the purpose of “demoralizing Iraqi society and corrupting its conservative Islamic values.”[2] According to its official website, IraQueer is “Iraq’s first national LGBT organization,” was founded in March 2015, and is connected “with Iraqi and international partners.” Local reports indicated that the organization is based in the Kurdistan region in northern Iraq.

Commenting on the U.K. Embassy tweet, Shi’ite controversial cleric Jawad Al-Khalisi, who believes in Iran’s velayat-e faqih (“Guardianship of the Jurists”), called on March 8 for the expulsion of the British and U.S. ambassadors from Iraq, describing them as “aggressors,” and claiming their embassies promote “obscenity and homosexuality.”[3]

The Oil Price Crash: Bad News for Putin’s Ambitions in the Middle East

Last week’s dramatic fall in the value of global stock markets was prompted, in part, by Moscow’s decision at the end of last week to end its cooperation with the Saudis to agree to new oil production targets, a measure designed to maintain global oil prices at a sustainable level.

The Saudi response, to launch an oil price war against Moscow, was clearly not the outcome the Russians had been anticipating.

“The oil price war is going to be a game changer for the Middle East,” a senior advisor to the Saudi royal family told me earlier this week. “The Russians rely on their oil revenues to fund their military activities in Syria. But if the oil revenues collapse, then they will no longer be able to afford these long and costly wars.”

U.S. Outraged Over Europe’s Refusal to Extend Iran Sanctions

The European Union is resisting Trump administration efforts to foster greater international coordination on holding Tehran accountable for its rising sponsorship of terrorism and expanding ballistic missile program, according to State Department documents viewed exclusively by the Washington Free Beacon.

“The EU had no new [sanctions] designations in the second half of 2019,” the State Department informed Congress last month in a nonpublic notification that highlights the deepening divide between the Trump administration and its European allies when it comes to sanctioning Iran.

The EU’s opposition to new sanctions has outraged hardliners in the administration and Congress who have been pressuring Europe to take a unified stand with the United States against Iran’s expanding missile program and financing of regional terror groups. European leaders maintain that any new sanctions would prompt Tehran to leave the landmark nuclear accord, which Iran has been violating for several months.

A senior State Department official, speaking only on background about the developing situation, confirmed to the Free Beacon the administration is consistently pressing its European allies to stop turning a blind eye to Tehran’s aggression.

In fact, the United States now views Brexit, in which the United Kingdom withdrew from the EU, as a prime opportunity to partner with the country on the anti-Iran effort, the Free Beacon has learned.

Honest Reporting: Coronavirus and the Virus of Antisemitism

The Coronavirus pandemic is making headline news, and countries are implementing strict measures to deter the spread of this infectious disease. Yet, Iranian press has used the spread of this virus as a means of spreading antisemitic conspiracy theories (at the same time that Israel is working to develop a vaccine)

PreOccupiedTerritory: Locusts, Epidemic, Economic Collapse Not Enough Of A Hint To Iran (satire)

Actions by the regime running this Islamic Republic indicate that the people in key leadership positions have so far failed to internalize the messages sent their way via numerous natural and man-made calamities, observers stated this week.

Sources within the Heavenly realm supervising human affairs disclosed Thursday the contents of a report to the angel Metatron, to the effect that the rulers of the Islamic Republic of Iran appear not to understand the nature of the disasters and misfortune plaguing their country, and blame outside malign forces instead of examining how their own behavior and mistaken assumptions have led to the brink of political, economic, and social collapse.

A divine spokesangel told reporters this morning that the cumulative misfortune accruing to the people and government of Iran to date have not budged that government from its commitment to its current destructive endeavors, despite the recent addition to the already-fearsome troubles of civic unrest, economic stagnation, inflation, diplomatic isolation, and mounting personnel losses in the various conflicts it has fomented. Over the last two months the litany of catastrophes has seen the addition of a burgeoning coronavirus outbreak throughout the country and swarms of locusts in the south – yet Tehran persists in its pursuit of nuclear weapons, sponsoring international terrorism, and designs on regional hegemony.

“The divine model assumes a capacity for a modicum of introspection on the part of the person or group undergoing suffering,” explained Uriel. “Prophets spent hundreds of years admonishing humans to mend their ways or face calamity: plagues, war, exile, poverty, enslavement, what have you. The initial success of Islam’s conquests signaled to its adherents that they enjoyed God’s favor because they had embarked on a positive mission. But the subsequent setbacks and humiliating defeats in the centuries since have for some unfathomable reason not indicated to the same groups that they have fallen out of divine favor, nor how they might restore that favor.”

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