Caroline Glick: Watching Netanyahu in Tehran
The Iranians now realize that Israel has been given a green light from the US to defeat its forces in Syria.
And they are terrified. This is why they insisted that there were no Iranian forces killed in Sunday’s air strikes against Iranian targets in Syria.
Netanyahu’s critics have claimed that his presentation Monday, along with Trump’s anticipated announcement that the US is abandoning the nuclear deal increase the threat of war. But this is not necessarily the case. Indeed, in all likelihood, his presentation, together with the strikes against Iranian targets in Syria and the US’s support for Israel reduced the prospect of war.
Hemmed in by an empowered US-backed Israel, and an angry, rebellious Iranian public that just watched its humiliation on Israeli television, it is hard to see the scenario where the regime embarks on a war it is now convinced it will lose.
The only way to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear power without a major war is to overthrow the regime. Netanyahu’s presentation advanced that goal in a profound way. Declarations of friendship to the Iranian people, like the IDF’s Persian love song, further empower the people of Iran to bring down the regime that oppresses them and endangers the entire world.
Caroline Glick: Bibi’s Iran Deal Bombshell Is a Strategic Game-Changer
This then brings us to the fourth and final strategic point. Many Obama administration alumni are insisting that Netanyahu’s remarkable presentation on Monday night, and Trump’s now expected decision May 12 to exit Obama’s nuclear deal, will increase the likelihood of all-out war between Israel and Iran that is likely to deteriorate swiftly into a larger regional war.
While it would be foolhardy to dismiss the possibility of war, the fact is that the events of the past week or so have made war far less likely than it was before.
The more powerful Israel’s airstrikes have become, the more powerful its intelligence services are proven to be. And the stronger and more open Israel’s cooperation and coordination with Washington becomes, the less likely Iran will be to respond to the challenge by initiating a war.
The regime knows the restive and angry Iranian public will not accept a war against a U.S. backed-Israel in Syria and beyond that will cost billions of dollars Iran simply doesn’t have. War would end in a stunning defeat for Iran.
Moreover, if Iran responds to the challenge by activating its terrorist sleeper cells and ordering them to attack Israeli or Jewish targets abroad, such action would only subject the regime to still sharper scrutiny from the U.S. — and, presumably, significant swathes of the international community — and consequently weaken the regime still further.
In short, by seizing and exposing the contents of Iran’s nuclear arsenal, Israel has further destabilized and weakened the regime. Its powerful airstrikes against Iranian targets in Syria and its increasingly apparent operational cooperation with the U.S. have reduced the prospects for war.
And Israel has started running down the clock not to Iran’s acquisition of nuclear weapons, but to the overthrow of the regime by the people of Iran.
After Benjamin Netanyahu made public the information from secret Iranian files pertaining to Tehran’s efforts to obtain atomic weapons, defenders of the 2015 nuclear deal rushed to claim that he had revealed nothing new. This claim is absurd, writes Matthew Kroenig, a scholar of nuclear proliferation:
For Iran to go nuclear, it must complete three steps: (1) enrich significant quantities of uranium to weapons-grade levels, (2) develop a functioning nuclear warhead, (3) and possess a ballistic missile or other means to deliver the device to an enemy. Step 1 is the most difficult technical hurdle and the subject of the most contentious debates about the Iran nuclear deal. But all of the revelations in Netanyahu’s presentation were about Step 2. . . .
Most importantly, Netanyahu claimed that illegal nuclear-weaponization work continues to the present day. He said that “today, in 2018, this work is carried out by SPND, an organization inside Iran’s Defense Ministry.” His presentation claimed that the name of the program for Step 2 changed in 2003, but that substantive work has continued under a new label with the same lead scientist and some of the same staff under the euphemism of “scientific-knowhow development.” If true, this would be a clear violation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action [or JCPOA, as the deal is officially known], which explicitly prohibits work on nuclear-warhead design in Section C, Part 16 and Annex 1, Part T. This is a subject that deserves further scrutiny and on which the international community should press Iran.
Next, these revelations show that the Iran nuclear deal was consummated under false pretenses. A condition of the deal [was] Iran’s coming clean about the possible military dimensions (PMD) of its nuclear program. Netanyahu’s presentation shows that Iran did not come clean, but lied about many aspects of the PMD of its program in its reporting to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in 2015. . . .
For the American left, the Iran nuclear deal is becoming the peace process—that is, a landmark foreign policy project of a Democratic president reflecting the most cherished liberal beliefs about the world, that is failing at great cost to millions of people yet whose failure cannot be admitted.
The political beliefs that marched liberals down both of these diplomatic dead-ends were the same. Democratic administrations sought to turn anti-western enemies into friends, terrorists into decent citizens, through diplomatic engagement, concessions, and money. They were sympathetic to the Palestinian and Iranian Third Worldist rhetoric of resentment and accusation, and believed that by acknowledging grievances the United States could prove its good intentions, open dialogue, build trust, and transcend old misunderstandings and conflicts. Layered on all this is the rational materialist worldview; Clinton and Obama couldn’t seem to grasp that some people prefer their concept of honor or victory to a higher per-capita GDP.
President Obama articulated all this perfectly in late 2014, as he began selling the Iran deal:
[Iran has] a path to break through that isolation and they should seize it. Because if they do, there’s incredible talent and resources and sophistication inside of—inside of Iran, and it would be a very successful regional power that was also abiding by international norms and international rules, and that would be good for everybody.”
The peace process and the Iran deal are the two great liberal foreign policy projects of the past 30 years, neither of them has worked, the sources of their failure are identical, and in both cases the left is handling its failure the same way: by denying it exists, by relying on friends in the media and in Europe to cover it up, and by scapegoating those who point it out as warmongers.
Two examples from just this week:
The Palestinian Authority president, Mahmoud Abbas, delivered a speech in which he questioned Israel’s right to exist and said that Jews brought the Holocaust on themselves. This is not the least bit surprising to anyone who has actually listened to Abbas over the years. But here was Barack Obama’s assessment of the man just a few years ago:
He has proven himself to be somebody who has been committed to nonviolence and diplomatic efforts to resolve this issue … I believe that President Abbas is sincere about his willingness to recognize Israel and its right to exist, to recognize Israel’s legitimate security needs, to shun violence, to resolve these issues in a diplomatic fashion.
Echo Chamber Says ‘Nothing New’ about Israeli Intelligence on Iran Nuclear Program | SUPERcuts! #589
What the assorted apologists for the Iran nuclear deal have failed to grasp is a simple distinction: the difference between suspicions and confirmation. The IAEA based its assessments on “over a thousand pages” of documents; now we have a hundred thousand.
Moreover, these are in effect a hundred thousand signed confessions of the Iranian regime that it intended to create nuclear weapons and load them on missiles manufactured by itself. The miniature minds of the apologists are simply incapable of grasping the historic magnitude of the Mossad’s discovery.
Pictured: Two images from Iran’s secret nuclear archive, as presented publicly by Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu on April 30, 2018. In possibly the greatest coup in the history of espionage, Israel’s Mossad acquired over 100,000 documents from the archive of Iran’s program to create nuclear weapons. (Photo by Israel GPO)
Apart from Netanyahu himself, the most significant individual who understands that magnitude is President Trump. In February 2018, Trump informed the three European countries involved in the Iran deal about the defects that he wanted corrected in order to continue to certify the deal. As Reuters reported at the time:
“Trump sees three defects in the deal: its failure to address Iran’s ballistic missile program; the terms under which international inspectors can visit suspect Iranian nuclear sites; and ‘sunset’ clauses under which limits on the Iranian nuclear program start to expire after 10 years. He wants all three strengthened if the United States is to stay in the deal.”
The Mossad’s coup has turned Trump’s three proposals into three imperatives, not just to the Europeans but also to the two other states involved in the deal: Russia and China. (Russia, in particular, must grasp that major Russian cites are within missile range from Iran.) That is, if the deal is to survive, the sunset clauses must be cancelled, the IAEA must have freedom to inspect whatever it demands, and Iran’s long-range missile capacity must be curtailed. This is because the Mossad has also supplied us with a hundred thousand signed confessions that the Iranian regime will resume and complete its plans for nuclear-armed missiles as soon as the deal permits it — indeed authorizes it — to do so.
A majority of Israelis support Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s strategy against Iran, according to a Geocartography Knowledge Group poll released Thursday.
The survey was conducted following Netanyahu’s press conference on Monday, when he presented secret documents proving that Iran pursued a military nuclear program, and ahead of the coming 18th Herzliya Conference, scheduled to take place May 8-10 at the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya. It questioned 500 Jewish respondents ages 18 and up and has a margin of error of 4.38%.
The survey shows that 58% of respondents support the prime minister’s policies on Iran, 15.5% oppose his policies, and 26.5% have no opinion.
It also finds that 60% of respondents believe the United States would come to Israel’s political and military aid in case of a confrontation with Iran.
Some 26.3% of respondents say they are “absolutely sure” the U.S. would help Israel, 34.3% say the U.S. would “probably” help Israel, 19% say it would only back Israel politically, 13.5% are “not sure” the U.S. would help Israel, 0.9% say the U.S. would not help Israel in any way, and 6% have no opinion.
On the question of whether Israel should strike Iran, 44.2% are in a favor of a strike designed to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons, 31.1% oppose a strike and 24.7% have no opinion.
Obviously, the Iranian man- and woman-in-the-street does not share the leadership’s enthusiasm for Hamas, Jerusalem, or, for that matter, the Palestinian issue writ large.
And he or she doesn’t think much about Israel either.
While Iran is of much concern to Israelis, the term “Israel” in Farsi/Arabic receives much the same attention in Iran as terms related to Palestinians. Once again, Iran appears last on the list of 21 countries, with searches for Israel by Iranians — amounting to one-hundredth the number of Palestinian searches and one-fortieth the number of Jordanian searches.
For Israelis, the search for “Iran” in English (which for most Israelis is only a second language) amounts to 4% of the number of searches of the word in Iran, which understandably tops the list. By comparison, searches of the word “Iran” in the US amount to only 6% the number of Iranian searches for the term. Considering that the population of the US is about 40 times that of Israel, this means that Israelis search the term “Iran” hundreds of times more often than the average American. (One can’t compare the term in Hebrew, as only in Israel is Hebrew widely read or spoken.)
The Iranian public’s lack of interest in Israel and the Palestinians contrasts sharply with the focus, almost obsession, of the leadership of the Islamic Republic with Israel and, to a lesser extent, the Palestinians.
This is especially true of the hardliners. After all, the elite units of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard are called the al-Quds Force, and one of the biggest annual political events in Iran, al-Quds Day, is devoted to defaming Israel and castigating it for being a “usurper” state that expelled and now occupies the Palestinians.
There is, however, good news. The staggering gap between the Iranian public’s concerns and interests clearly contrast with those of its leadership. It might grow even larger and widen to other areas — which might be sufficient to motivate the Iranian public to get rid of this leadership of woes altogether.
While we cannot know the future, past history gives a good indication of how Iranians react when confronted with force.
Iranians fear confrontation. They most often get others to do their dirty work so that others would be forced to take the blame. That’s why they created Hezbollah, which carried out terrorist acts for which Hezbollah would be held responsible. An example of this is the 1982 bombing of the American embassy in Lebanon. Americans blamed that organization for the destruction of the embassy, but focused U.S. action on Lebanon, instead of going to the source: Iran.
But when Iranian fears fear they might suffer direct retaliation, they usually cower. Two example illustrate this:
1. After the Iranian Islamic revolution in 1979, the Iranians took over the U.S. embassy in direct violation of international law. America reacted with words and did not use force. When America eventually did try to use force in the Tabas operation, it failed miserably and was humiliated. When and why did the Iranians release the Americans?
Ronald Reagan won the U.S. presidential election in 1980 and took office on Jan. 20, 1981. Forty-five minutes before he took the Oath of Office, Iran bought the hostage to the airport in Tehran and flew them out of the country. The hostages left Iranian airspace at the very moment that Reagan raised his right hand and was sworn in as president.
The Iranians saw Reagan as a dangerous cowboy and feared he would bomb Tehran to smithereens. True to Iranian culture, they why they caved when they feared the worse.
It was good to see fellow pro-Israel activists relaxing in a friendly environment when considering we are usually together either at anti-Israel events on the verge of being thrown out for simply asking a challenging question or we are planning future activism like our current attempt to somehow stop this year’s horrific Al Quds Day march through London on June 10th.
Quite remarkably our government deems Hezbollah, which has a flag containing a gun, a “political movement” and so allows such flags to be flown on Al Quds Day. Last year we successfully put a halt to their march for a good 40 minutes and hopefully similar will happen again this year.
In his speech Ambassador Regev demanded that “Iran is permanently denied the nuclear weapons capabilities it continues to seek”. He said it was a cause for celebration that today Israel is speaking to more Arab countries than at any time in its 70 year history. He also looked forward to the “historic event” this summer when Israel will be rolling out the red carpet for the Duke of Cambridge, Prince William. It will, he said, be the “first ever official visit to the Jewish state by a senior British Royal”.
He finished by asking for the people in the room to vote “douze points” for Israel’s own royalty being its entry for this year’s Eurovision Song Contest on May 12th and the apparent favourite to win, Netta:
I have to admit to a mea culpa on the evening though. I asked for a selfie with Emily Thornberry. I took it as a positive that Corbyn’s shadow foreign secretary was at the event. I was, however, unaware of the fact that she had recently been in the room for a speech by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas which was full of anti-Semitic bile including blaming Jewish “behaviour” for the Holocaust, and that when Thornberry came to write about the speech on her Facebook she had overlooked Abbas’ antisemitism. Had I known this I wouldn’t have been so keen.
But I was honoured to be at Tuesday’s celebrations and, as Jonathan Hoffman said to me as we walked together to Embankment tube station afterwards, “It’s great to be at an event that we weren’t thrown out of”.
The Mossad’s getaway for smuggling Iran’s secret nuclear documents out of the country was using trucks to get to the border with Azerbaijan and then crossing the border with help from Iranian smugglers, a report in the Kuwaiti Al Jarida said on Thursday.
There have been contradictory reports about whether or not the Mossad agents who did the smuggling were being chased on their way out, but all reports indicate that the nuclear documents were smuggled to Israel all in one day.
According to the Al Jarida report, the documents were taken out of the warehouse and placed into two trucks.
The two trucks then left in different directions to reduce any unwanted attention to the operation and various Mossad agents involved in the extraction dispersed themselves in different parts of Iran.
Since Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Monday bombshell presentation of the secret nuclear documents, wild theories have been spinning about how Israel’s elite spy agency pulled off the daring feat.
A range of prior reports have indicated that the Mossad carried out the raid on the Iran Shirobad district warehouse on January 31.
I have spoken with generations of Israeli soldiers who have experienced combat and seen their comrades and their Arab foes fall in combat. Israel’s wars have been defensive and no one I know, from Israel’s left or right relished the shedding of blood.
Where was the news coverage a few weeks ago when Israeli police arrested a citizen who spoke of committing atrocities against Arabs? Where are the stories and protests over the “pay to slay” of both Hamas and the Palestinian Authorities that rewards families of young people who murder innocent Israelis by any means possible, including random stabbings and car rammings?
And you would be hard-pressed to read the dramatic copy describing Israelis rushing severely wounded Syrian civilian and combatants from the border to hospitals throughout Northern Israel? Simply put, such facts don’t fit the narrative of big bully Israel surrounding and beating up its defenseless neighbors. And so each and every social media posting, every media headline about “heroic” Palestinians bleeding and dying, enrages the Arab and Muslim world while demonizing and delegitimizing Israel and its Zionists supporters.
What the world is witnessing, but not internalizing, is the 21st century Moloch (the ritual sacrifice of children). Yet, U.N. agencies, human rights NGOs and much of the Fourth Estate stick to the “David vs. Goliath” script that Hamas and its supporters have come to rely on.
Hamas‘ Moloch is as brutal as the ancient pagan ritual with one key difference: Far from masking the deaths of children as the ancients did, Hamas records each shooting, casualty and funeral to go viral and live on Al Jazeera. We doubt if any media has the guts to ask residents of Gaza if they are truly happy to be led by those who teach “fighters” to hide in hospitals, who use UNRWA schools to launch rockets, who sent children deep underground to dig highways of death into Israel, and who cynically select their constituents — to serve as human shields and cannon fodder?
The question that goes unasked is: Who will save the people of Gaza from Hamas‘ murderous Moloch?
We need not look to the U.N. or E.U. They failed miserably to save Syrian children from repeated gassing by their own Moloch. Until journalists, diplomats, politicians and NGOs with the courage to call out Hamas‘ deadly hubris, the violence in the Holy Land will not end.
Palestinians preparing more fire kites for today’s Friday demonstrations near border with Israel. pic.twitter.com/NXHAgW0d6E
— Khaled Abu Toameh (@KhaledAbuToameh) May 4, 2018
The following are MEMRI TV clips of the Gaza “Return March” cover rallies, Friday sermons, reports of children’s participation, and statements by activists, scholars, and others. Participants are seen chanting antisemitic slogans, calling for jihad and martyrdom, and inciting violence.
MEMRI TV Clip No. 6551: Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas: Holocaust, Massacres of European Jews Due to Their Function in Society as Usurers; Hitler Struck a Deal with the Jews
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said that the massacres to which European Jews were subjected, from the 11th century until the Holocaust, were not because they were Jews, but because of their function in society. “The anti-Jewish [sentiment] was not because of their religion, but because of their function in society, which had to do with usury, banks, and so on,” he said in his speech at the Palestinian National Council in Ramallah on April 30. Abbas further said that Hitler had struck a deal with the Jewish Anglo-Palestine Bank in Jerusalem to facilitate emigration of German Jews to Palestine. “Their narrative about coming to this country because of their longing for Zion, or whatever – we’re tired of hearing this,” he said. “The truth is that this is a colonialist enterprise, aimed at planting a foreign body in this region.”
Israel troops fired tear gas and live rounds at thousands of Palestinian protesters on the Gaza-Israel border on Friday. No injuries or deaths were reported as of noon.
Over 40 Palestinians have been killed and thousands have been wounded since the weekly demonstrations on the border started, on March 30.
Shortly before noon, an unarmed Palestinian breached the security fence near Kibbuz Zikim, less than a mile from the border. He was apprehended by IDF soldiers and turned over to the Shin Bet security agency for questioning.
Hundreds of protesters arrived near the border carrying kites armed with incendiary devices. The military said dozens of Hamas operatives were among the protesters and were urging them to send kites across the border.
Hamas operatives were also spotted amassing tires near the border in perpetration to setting them on fire. Since the riots began, terrorists have been using thick smoke as cover to conceal attempts to breach the security fence, plant explosives on the border and try carrying out terrorist attacks against the IDF.
The Israeli military has yet to find a comprehensive solution to what has been dubbed “the kite terror,” a new tactic by Palestinians as part of the recent Gaza protests in which kites laden with incendiary material are launched into Israel, where they spark sometimes massive fires in grasslands and agricultural fields.
As of Thursday, Israeli farmers near the Gaza border have asked the Tax Authority for compensation for the approximately 800 dunams (200 acres) of wheat and barley fields destroyed in fires apparently sparked by these kites.
According to the Tax Authority, these requests are still being assessed, but the damage thus far has been estimated in the hundreds of thousands of shekels. As the weather gets hotter and drier, the potential for more and larger fires only grows.
The military’s difficulty in combatting this exceedingly low-tech tactic comes, in part, because the phenomenon is still a relatively new one and because it has not been deemed a sufficiently significant threat to warrant a large-scale, costly effort to develop a specialized response.
That is not to say that the military is dismissive of the threat, an army official said on Friday, but that the response needs to be “proportional.” Simply, there’s no need to develop a hundred-million-dollar solution — some kind of anti-kite missile defense battery — to address a hundred-thousand-dollar problem.
The Israeli military warned Gazans against sending firebomb-bearing kites over the border Thursday, after a slew of incidents in which airborne combustibles launched from the coastal enclave managed to set Israeli fields ablaze.
The warning, in a tweet from IDF Arabic spokesman Avichay Adraee, came as both sides braced for fresh demonstrations and clashes expected Friday as part of a weekly series of protests.
Adraee tweeted to his 171,000 followers that the Israel Defense Forces would not tolerate the burning kites which have destroyed acres of fields and crops.
“The arson phenomenon is not hidden from our eyes, and we are taking it very seriously.” he tweeted in Arabic “Attack kites are not a kids game and we don’t see it that way.”
In a subsequent tweet, he advised Gazans to stop being used by their leaders from the Hamas terror group who were trying “to drag you into a cycle of terror.”
He said that the army held Hamas, the de facto ruler of the Strip, responsible for all attacks.
Palestinian demonstrators continued to launch kites fitted with firebombs from the Gaza Strip into Israel on Thursday in the hopes of sparking fires.
The incendiary kites caused blazes in several locations near Kibbutz Be’eri and Kibbutz Kissufim in southern Israel. A large contingent of firefighters was deployed to the area.
The IDF is exploring more intensive measures to combat the threat, Kan Public Broadcasting reported Thursday. Among the measures being considered is the deployment of multi-rotor drones to intercept the kites before they cross into Israel. The army is also weighing the option of shooting at those who launch the kites, according to the report.
Kibbutz Kissufim spokesman Benny Hasson told Israel Hayom that the incendiary kite phenomenon must be stopped.
“There was a huge fire next to the kibbutz, which erupted in two separate spots. The whole kibbutz was covered in smoke,” said.
“The arson is disrupting the residents’ daily lives, and the wave of fires caused by the incendiary kites is causing a great deal of damage to our fields. We thank the firefighters for the job they are doing day and night, and everyone else who is involved in making sure the fires don’t spread into the communities themselves.”
Nearly 150 Palestinians were injured as some 7,000 protested, at times violently, along the Gaza border on Friday afternoon for the sixth week of demonstrations, as part of the “March of Return.”
According to the Israel Defense Forces, there were two mass attempts to damage and breach the security fence around the central Gaza Strip during the protests.
Israeli soldiers who were called to the scene forced back the demonstrators using less-lethal riot dispersal weapons and live fire.
“Two attempts by a group of rioters to damage the fence and cross into Israeli territory from the central [Gaza] Strip were thwarted a short while ago,” the army said on Friday evening.
In total, 148 Palestinians were injured during the protests, including those treated for tear gas and smoke inhalation. Another 202 people were lightly injured, requiring medical treatment at the scene, but not hospital care, according to the Hamas-run Gaza healthy ministry.
Because when you are running out of ideas, why not call on a movie from 2009?
And it’s not like they have not tried this one before.
Given the extreme heat, I can’t imagine the blue paint is too comfortable. Then again, last time they pulled this stunt, I am sure this wasn’t either
Today, May the 4th, is Star Wars Day. These protesters had an opportunity here, and they blew it. They truly never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.
JPost Editorial: Move on Abbas
Even those considered most friendly and sympathetic to the Palestinian cause had nothing but criticism for the speech. The UN’s envoy to the Middle East, Nikolay Mladonov, slammed Abbas for choosing to repeat “some of the most contemptuous antisemitic slurs, including the suggestion that the social behavior of Jews was the cause for the Holocaust.”
But Abbas’s speech wasn’t merely antisemitism employed to spread hatred of Jews among his listeners. His speech was perhaps even more nefarious because its goal was to delegitimize the foundations of the Jewish state. By falsely characterizing the origins of Jew-hatred and linking Hitler and Zionism, he sought to reject Israel’s right to exist.
This sort of antisemitism is the reason there is no peace.
It is time the Palestinians stop thinking about undermining the existence of Israel and focus on how to live together.
For 20 years, Abbas has claimed to be a proponent of peace. He even, mind-boggingly, made that claim in his speech on Monday.
But is he? Twenty years of political rejectionism and apparent contempt and disregard to the Jews’ suffering suggest otherwise.
The US Embassy move in two weeks should serve as a wakeup call for Abbas and the PA. Their denial-rooted intransigence is not working. They need to come to the table and negotiate. But first, the Jewish people demand an apology.
The Palestinians also deserve better. Abbas showed in his speech that he is no longer a relevant leader for them. It’s time for him to move on.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas issued an apology on Friday to those who “were offended” by his anti-Semitic speech earlier this week in which he blamed the “social function” of Jews for the Holocaust.
Abbas, speaking in front of the Palestinian National Council in the West Bank on Monday, delved into several other anti-Semitic conspiracy theories and accused Zionists of cooperating with Adolf Hitler to establish the modern state of Israel. The comments were not out of character for Abbas, whose 1982 doctoral dissertation, “The Other Side: the Secret Relationship Between Nazism and Zionism,” called the death toll of the Holocaust exaggerated.
Nevertheless, Abbas’ latest speech caused international outrage, drawing condemnation from Israel, the United States, and the European Union. The New York Times called for him to resign for the “vile” address.
In a statement, Abbas conditioned his apology to those people who “were offended” by his remarks and said he has “full respect for the Jewish faith.”
“If people were offended by my statement in front of the PNC, especially people of the Jewish faith, I apologize to them,” he said. “I would like to assure everyone that it was not my intention to do so, and to reiterate my full respect for the Jewish faith, as well as other monotheistic faiths.”
“I would also like to reiterate our long held condemnation of the Holocaust, as the most heinous crime in history, and express our sympathy with its victims,” Abbas added. “Likewise, we condemn anti-Semitism in all its forms, and confirm our commitment to the two-state solution, and to live side by side in peace and security.”
Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman on Friday rejected an apology from Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas over a speech blaming Jews’ behavior for the Holocaust, and not anti-Semitism, calling the Palestinian leader “a pathetic Holocaust denier.”
“Abu Mazen is a pathetic Holocaust denier who wrote a doctorate on Holocaust denial and later published a book on Holocaust denial,” tweeted Liberman, using Abbas’ nickname.
“This is how he should be seen. His apology isn’t accepted,” Liberman said.
The Palestine Liberation Organization’s executive committee unanimously reelected Mahmoud Abbas as its leader, the PLO said early Friday, giving the Palestinian Authority president political backing amid an international uproar over remarks he made earlier this week deemed anti-Semitic.
The decision to keep Abbas as the head of the PLO’s Executive Committee came at the end of a four-day meeting by the Palestinian National Council in Ramallah, the first such summit in decades. Abbas has led the PLO since the death of Yasser Arafat in November 2004.
Talk has ramped up recently over a possible replacement for the 82-year-old statesman. A move by the National Council Thursday to grant the 115-member Central Council authority to assume the political body’s powers is expected to help clear the way to appointing a successor to Abbas and resolve the decade-long rift with the rival Hamas party ruling Gaza.
A statement by the council at the close of the meeting early Friday also condemned the US for plans to move its embassy to Jerusalem, rejected a peace plan being formulated by the Trump administration, and empowered the Executive Committee to rescind the PLO’s recognition of Israel.
Dozens of acres of Israeli forests and fields were burned in the past few days because of the so-called “incendiary kites” that Palestinians in Gaza have launched over the security fence. Meanwhile, on Monday, Mahmoud Abbas gave a speech to the Palestinian National Council—the congress of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO)—in which he blamed Jews for bringing the Holocaust upon themselves with their usury and “social behavior,” explained that the Shoah was a Nazi-Zionist plot (a favorite subject of his), and decried the Jewish state as the extension of British colonialism. To Jonathan Tobin, the two events throw the choices confronting Israel in stark relief:
Israel is being asked to trade its only bargaining chips in the form of territory in exchange for something that—as even most peace advocates acknowledge—will be an armed truce at best, rather than peace. Abbas’s speech is a tip-off that the Palestinian state clamored for by peace advocates would be a stepping stone to new campaigns aimed at the end of the Jewish nation.
Israelis know this because they saw what happened the last time Israel gave up territory, when then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon withdrew every last soldier, settler, and settlement from Gaza in 2005. Instead of trading land for peace, Israel traded land for terror. Instead of protesting the Israeli settlements in their midst, Hamas-ruled Gaza now protests the “settlements” inside the borders of pre-1967 Israel.
The Friday “March of Return” demonstrations at the border between Israel and Gaza being orchestrated by Hamas are not civil-rights protests. The point of these weekly efforts, in which Palestinians armed with guns, Molotov cocktails, rocks, burning tires, and lit kites try to tear down the security barrier that protects Israel, . . . is to destroy the Jewish state. . . . Evacuating Gaza didn’t inspire its people to accept the notion of two states for two peoples. It merely whetted their appetite to continue their century-old war on Zionism which, contrary to the claims of some on the Jewish left, they have yet to concede is a lost cause.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is under fire for anti-Semitic remarks in a speech on Monday. The octogenarian leader blamed the mass murder of Jews during the Holocaust on Jewish financial practices, such as “usury and banking and such.”
The American Jewish community has predictably unleashed a torrent of condemnations. Less predictably, the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, The New York Times editorial board and even the hard-left J Street have piled on.
Abbas’ anti-Semitism is certainly jarring. But it shouldn’t come as a surprise. He wrote an entire dissertation on the “secret relationship between Nazism and Zionism” as a PhD student in Russia. This wasn’t a deal-breaker for his US supporters who have been lionizing him as a peacemaker for more than a decade and calling on Israel to relinquish territory to him as part of a two-state solution.
But now the tide has suddenly turned. A growing chorus is calling for Abbas to step down. Anti-Semitism aside, it’s only logical. The man is now 13 years into his four-year term. He is, by all accounts, a stereotypical Arab autocrat presiding over an ossified political system of his own making. The Palestinians are more than ready for new leadership.
Seth J. Frantzman: Palestinian antisemitism: Skin deep, widespread and not well understood
The “Nakba” is always tied to the Holocaust as if there is some competition for suffering, or some kind of quid pro quo: “Israelis deny the Nakba, so we deny the Holocaust.” They say, only if the two sides somehow accept that the Shoah and the Nakba are the same then a discussion can be had.
In my experience, there was a tendency only in elite circles to distinguish between “Jews” and “Zionists” and “Israelis” as if the three are separate categories. And even in elite and intellectual circles, there was not much of an understanding of the difference. Jews are Zionists and Israeli. There are also generational differences.
For instance, one Palestinian I spoke to about this issue said globalized media, particularly Islamist media, had been responsible for spreading antisemitism among Palestinians. “You didn’t have that level of antisemitism prior to the Palestinian Authority forming in 1993 and it certainly went up with the proliferation of antisemitism in [media] places like Al Jazeera [Arabic].” It also became a problem in the diaspora, he said.
The Abbas comments are already being portrayed as yet another way that Israel has manipulated the West to condemn the Palestinian leader. There is very little acknowledgment either by the Palestinian public or other leaders that the obsession with “Jews” is part of an antisemitic pattern.
From the swastikas in Gaza to the swastikas in the West Bank, it is a problem. Abbas gave a similarly offensive speech in December claiming “it is mentioned in the holy Koran that they [the Jews] fabricate truth,” and the comment went unprotested and largely unnoticed.
This is generally how antisemitism manifests itself in Palestinian popular culture. A word here, a phrase there, a comment. But it’s not usually more than a veneer of disjointed and offensive comments. It’s not seen as deeply serious. It’s why I’ve seen graffiti in the West Bank where the swastika appears next to the Communist hammer and sickle. Didn’t you realize the two symbols are at war with each other? No.
Emily Thornberry, the Shadow Foreign Secretary, sat quietly in the audience this week as Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas claimed that Jews brought the Holocaust upon themselves through their “social behavior, [charging] interest, and financial matters.” He also cited a theory often used by antisemites that modern-day Jews are in fact imposters from “Khazaria”.
Instead of walking out or challenging him, Ms Thornberry posted on Facebook that it had been her “privilege” to represent the Labour Party at the conference of the Palestinian National Council.
Only when the media reported on the fact that she had contentedly sat through the three-hour speech did she issue a further statement, saying: “It is deeply regrettable that, during a lengthy speech whose main and successful purpose was to urge the Palestinian National Council to remain committed to the Middle East peace process and the objective of a two-state solution, President Abbas made these antisemitic remarks about the history of the Jewish community in Europe which were not just grossly offensive, but utterly ignorant. His comments were out of keeping with the tone of the Council as a whole, and of my discussions with other delegates, and I hope President Abbas will immediately apologise for them, so that the message to come out of this important Council meeting can remain positive and progressive, and focused on re-establishing peaceful and constructive dialogue.”
Some have suggested that Ms Thornberry may not have heard Mr Abbas’ remarks during his turgid three-hour speech, but were that the case, she should have said so, rather than suggesting that her conduct in sitting passively through the speech was acceptable.
Mike Pompeo is not off to a good start as the nation’s top diplomat, according to the New York Times. The paper published a story lamenting how the newly minted secretary of state “did not meet a single Palestinian representative and mentioned them publicly once” during a trip to Israel earlier this week. Reporters Gardiner Harris and Isabel Kershner concluded their story by noting that, on Monday, the Palestinian legislative body was scheduled to hold its first formal meeting in nine years. “If Mr. Pompeo had a strategy to bridge the divide,” they added in a tone more appropriate for the op-ed section, “he could hardly have picked a better moment to address the movement’s leadership. Instead, he will fly home Monday after seeing King Abdullah [of Jordan].”
The Times is right: Pompeo ignored an opportunity to work with an eager and open-minded Palestinian leadership to “bridge the divide” with Israel. Had Pompeo attended the meeting, he could have heard in person Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas deliver speech in which he tried to prove there is no Jewish connection to the land of Israel and peddled just about every anti-Semitic conspiracy theory out there.
European Jews, according to Abbas, were massacred for centuries until the Holocaust not because they were Jews, but because of their “function in society, which had to do with usury, banks, and so on.” In other words, Jews were to blame for their own slaughter because of how they lent money, rather than the hatred and anti-Semitism of those persecuting them. The Palestinian leader also claimed, in front of hundreds of delegates, that Adolf Hitler facilitated the emigration of European Jews to what was then the British Mandate of Palestine by striking a deal with the Anglo-Palestine Bank in Jerusalem. “So their narrative about coming to this country because of their longing for Zion, or whatever—we’re tired of hearing this,” said Abbas. “The truth is that this is a colonialist enterprise, aimed at planting a foreign body in this region.”
Abbas added later that Israel was a European “colonial project that has nothing to do with Judaism.” At no point did he mention the Jewish people’s 3,000-year connection to the land of Israel, or that Israel is “the only place where the Jews have ever been sovereign or sought sovereignty,” as the Times of Israel put it.
A government-appointed committee published a report Friday, which provides the tools that could be used to legalize thousands of wildcat settlement homes in the West Bank.
The report mapped out the legal obstacles that arise in any attempt to legalize unlawful building over the Green Line and offered a number of solutions that can be carried out in order to avoid the demolition of those homes.
In the past the courts have ordered the demolition of a number of settlement outposts and homes that were built without Israel government approval, particularly those that were built on private Palestinian land. Many of the demolitions have led to clashes between settlers and Israeli security forces.
The committee based its authority for such recommendations on an October High Court decision in which Justice Salim Joubran ruled that “the Israeli residents of the area (West Bank)… are also among the civilian population in the area,” and that therefore the ruling body “is obligated to act for their welfare… even by violating the property rights” of the original Palestinian land owners.
New prefabricated homes are seen under construction in the West Bank between the now-evacuated illegal outpost of Amona (background) and the Israeli settlement of Ofra, north of Ramallah, on January 31, 2017. (AFP/ Thomas Coex)
Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit has already announced that he intends on adopting Joubran’s ruling — which was given in response to a petition regarding a particular illegal outpost — to other relevant cases.
Israel’s national service program, a volunteer program that acts as an alternative to mandatory military service, has suspended the eligibility of controversial rights group B’Tselem to use its volunteers, citing a B’Tselem campaign that urged Israeli soldiers to refuse orders.
Earlier this month, the leftist human rights group drew strong condemnation after running newspaper ads calling on Israeli soldiers to disobey orders to shoot “unarmed demonstrators” in the Gaza Strip.
The national civic service program places volunteers in various organizations and institutions as a way of making a meaningful contribution to society, the way a comparable military service would. Until now, volunteers were free to perform their national service with B’Tselem, but the head of the national service program wishes to revoke that right in light of the controversial campaign.
National Civic Service Authority Director General Sar Shalom Jerbi summoned B’Tselem Director Hagai Elad for a meeting recently, voicing his criticism of the campaign.
“The B’Tselem organization is promoting a campaign calling on IDF soldiers to refuse commands relating to the Gaza border protests,” Jerbi wrote in a letter. “Whoever incites or persuades a person serving in the armed forces not to listen to a legal order shall be incarcerated for a period of one year … [and] if the crime was committed during a period in military activities by or against Israel are performed, shall be incarcerated for a period of seven years.”
“I was beaten while in prison…I was denied food…I was kept in solitary confinement…I was raped.”
These words will become the politically correct anthem of 17-year old Ahed Tamimi, which might be endlessly sung by her when she is soon released from an Israeli prison.
How much harm could the lying Tamimi do to Israel after she is released from jail? Possibly, she could cause more destruction than all the missiles ever fired from Gaza.
She is currently serving the final months of a jail sentence, following her last attempt at seeking fame by slapping an IDF soldier.
Upon Tamimi’s release, the foreign media might well invent a young Palestinian saint who could be cast as the David to the Israeli Goliath.
So now is the time that Israeli officials should be focused on how to rein her in after her release, to assure that the foreign media does not have the chance to script her, Hollywood-style, as the Martin Luther King of the Palestinians.
Ramallah (Palestinian Territories) (AFP) – The Palestinian flag will be raised next week at the Cannes film festival, which will host their first ever national pavilion.
Film-makers said the new level of representation in the international village of the prestigious festival was a significant step for the fledgling Palestinian cinema industry.
The pavilion, one of around 70 representing countries from across the globe, will give Palestinian film-makers an opportunity to pitch their work to top international industry executives.
Mohanad Yaqubi, one of the co-founders of the Palestine Film Institute, said it was a significant moment.
“Almost every year Palestine has a film selected in Cannes but until now we didn’t have an official presence there,” Yaqubi, who is also a film-maker, told AFP.
“Industry-wise it is very important to have a presence… (to) network at an industry level,” he said in English.
While diplomats debate what Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s revelations of a secret Iranian nuclear archives mean, 2,500 miles away another press conference dropped another surprising bombshell alleging Iranian malfeasance.
On May 1, Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita informed an assembled crowd of journalists, “I have just returned from the Islamic Republic of Iran, where I had a meeting with Iranian minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Javad Zarif. I informed him of the decision of the Kingdom of Morocco to break off its diplomatic relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran.”
The charges Bourita leveled were serious. “This month Hezbollah sent [surface-to-air] SAM-9, SAM-11 and Strela missiles to the Polisario with the connivance of Iran’s embassy in Algiers,” he told reporters.
At issue is the Polisario Front, a Cold War relic and Algerian proxy which claims to be the self-styled Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic and has conducted a terrorist and military campaign against Morocco since 1975, claiming Morocco’s southern provinces, the so-called Western Sahara, as its own. While history is clear that the Western Sahara was and should be Moroccan, the attempt to subvert Moroccan security and outreach to the Polisario are important.
It was not simply a rogue operation. After all, what the Moroccans exposed was not Iran’s first attempt to destabilize their kingdom. In March 2009, Morocco severed relations with Iran after agents linked to Iran began proselytizing Shiism in Morocco, a country where the king holds not only a political role but a religious one as well. Five years later, Rabat restored relations, although Moroccan security officials made clear that they would be ensuring that Iranian diplomats and citizens would cross no more red lines. That the Islamic Republic once again sought to undermine Morocco suggests authorities in Tehran do not plan to stop.
The Arab League says it supports Morocco’s decision to sever ties with Iran over its alleged support for the Polisario Front in the disputed Western Sahara. Tehran has denied supporting the pro-independence group.
The spokesman for the Arab League’s secretary-general Mahmoud Afifi said late on Wednesday that the Arab League condemns and rejects Iran’s s intervention in Morocco or any other Arab country’s internal affairs.
He also called on Arab nations to refrain from non-action in the face of what he called Iran’s strategy aimed at spreading chaos and instability in the region.
Morocco cut ties with Iran on Tuesday. Iran has dismissed Morocco’s accusations as “completely baseless.”
A video of about 50 uniformed IDF soldiers singing an Iranian love song in Persian went viral on Iranian social media Thursday.
The trainee soldiers were singing the Persian folk song, “Sultan of Hearts,” in a ceremony at an army base, Chanel 10 news reported. The cadets from the intelligence unit are on a course to learn the language.
One of the parents attending recorded the event and uploaded it to social media, without permission from the IDF. He has since removed it from his page.
It was screened on the Channel 10 news, however, and remains on social media.
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