April 6, 2020

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05/14 Links Pt1: Dershowitz: War Crime!: Placing a Note in the Western Wall; Hanan Ashrawi denied a US visa; Madonna, ahead of Eurovision performance, says BDS won’t stop her music


From Ian:

Jerusalem welcomes Eurovision
The capital invites the public, as well as visitors, to celebrate Eurovision during a four day public broadcasting celebration in the First Station.

Jerusalem residents, as well as visitors to the Israeli capital, are invited to attend a four day public celebration of Eurovision music to be held at the First Station starting from Tuesday evening and ending with the announcement of the 2019 winners on Saturday night.

Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Lion said in a press release that “the Eurovision is one of the largest and most important musical events in Europe” and called the public to use this opportunity to visit “the most beautiful city in the world, Jerusalem.”

Starting on Tuesday at six p.m. D.J Yaeli will play a live set composed of Eurovision songs as the opening of the event will be screened on a wide screen. The events will continue on Wednesday when a special radio booth will be built in which comedian Michal Shem Tov and broadcaster Noam Fathi, among others, will cover the triumphs and losses of the competition.

1978 Eurovision winner Izhar Cohen will perform at an evening party which is meant to go on until the small hours of the night including old Eurovision hits.

Madonna, ahead of Eurovision performance, says BDS won’t stop her music

Pop superstar Madonna struck a defiant chord Tuesday, declaring that boycott calls will not stop her from make a guest appearance during the finals of the Eurovision Song Contest in Tel Aviv over the weekend.

“I’ll never stop playing music to suit someone’s political agenda nor will I stop speaking out against violations of human rights wherever in the world they may be,” Madonna said in a statement to Reuters.

Israel earned the right to host the Eurovision after local singer Netta Barzilai won the contest last year. Pro-Palestinian supporters of boycotting Israel have called for competitors and fans to shun the competition and Palestinian terror groups in the Gaza Strip have threatened to disrupt the event with rocket attacks on the country.

“My heart breaks every time I hear about the innocent lives that are lost in this region and the violence that is so often perpetuated to suit the political goals of people who benefit from this ancient conflict,” Madonna said. “I hope and pray that we will soon break free from this terrible cycle of destruction and create a new path towards peace.”

Last September, some 140 artists, including former Pink Floyd co-founder Roger Waters, called for a boycott of the song contest. In April, Waters made a personal appeal to Madonna to not perform at Eurovision, saying it “normalizes the occupation, the apartheid, the ethnic cleansing, the incarceration of children, the slaughter of unarmed protesters.”

According to Reuters, Madonna supports several Palestinian projects through her Ray of Light foundation, which encourages social justice and women’s rights around the world.

Madonna, 60, is due to land in Israel on Wednesday morning, accompanied by an entourage of 135 people, ahead of her planned performance during the Eurovision finals on Saturday night.

Bird jumps in on Eurovision festivities with 24-hour scooters for revelers

Bird, a US transportation startup that provides commuters with e-scooters, is stepping up its game in Tel Aviv amid the start of the Eurovision song festival.

Tel Aviv is hosting the Eurovision Song Contest from Tuesday to Saturday, after Israeli singer Netta Barzilai won last year’s contest in Portugal. The competition consists of semifinal rounds on Tuesday and Thursday, followed by the finals on Saturday evening.

Bird said Tuesday its scooters will be available in Tel Aviv, for the first time in any city in which it operates, for 24-hour operations, to help tourists and locals get to Eurovision events at all times. Until now the scooter service was available only until 11 p.m.

The firm, which started providing its services in Tel Aviv last year and now says it has hundreds of scooters deployed there as well as in the adjacent cities of Givatayim and Ramat Gan, is also introducing a new feature in its app that will allow users to reserve scooters 30 minutes in advance of picking them up. That way a user won’t turn up to the pickup point and find the scooter taken by someone else, as sometimes happens.

Alan M. Dershowitz: War Crime!: Placing a Note in the Western Wall

I urge all visitors to join me in a conspiracy to violate the UN Security Council Resolution…Obama, himself, engineered the Resolution. He pushed it through the Security Council despite some reservations by other members, including Egypt, which believed that the Resolution itself could become a barrier to a negotiated two-state solution. After all, if Israel’s control over Judaism’s holiest site is deemed illegal, then Israel would have to negotiate its legality with the Palestinians.

These Jewish areas were illegally occupied by Jordan between 1948 and 1967 and lawfully recaptured by Israel in a defensive war, started by Jordan when it fired mortars at civilian targets inside pre-1967 Israel…. Yet there were no United Nations Resolutions, campus protests or other organized shows of opposition by the international community. Only after Israel liberated these historically Jewish areas, did the world, and Obama, decide — in violation of international law — that they were illegally occupied.

Declaring the Western Wall to be illegally occupied territory is akin to declaring the Vatican, Mecca or other religious, holy sites to be occupied by those who pray at them. The Western Wall is lawfully part of the nation state of the Jewish people. It will remain so as long as Israel exists. If there is to be any hope of peace between Israel and the Palestinians, the world must recognize that historic, moral and legal reality.

Ben-Dror Yemini: Breaking the Silence harms Israel with attempts to politicize Eurovision

For the tourists who flood the streets of Tel Aviv, it’s an opportunity to see Israel with their own eyes and not through the eyes of local news broadcasters. Yes, this is an expensive country but with amazing restaurants, rich nightlife and magnificent beaches.

The local media in Eurovision countries portrays Israel through the lens of the occupation. This is evident in almost every survey conducted in those countries, which expose a negative view of Israel (because of that biased and generally anti-Israel media). But now it’s the people’s chance to see Israel differently.

One Israeli organization, however, decided the anti-Israeli propaganda the Europeans are exposed to in their home countries is not enough. Breaking the Silence activists want more. This is why they put up a huge billboard on the Ayalon Highway, inviting guests to propaganda tours, which they say expose Israel’s crimes.

This organization doesn’t believe that Israel is a democratic state, nor does it tell those embarking on their tours along the Gaza border that Hamas supports the destruction of the Jewish state, and that the terror group rejected all reasonable proposals made to them, which would have resulted in the lifting of the Gaza blockade. According to Breaking the Silence, Hamas is the hero and Israel is the villain in this conflict.

Israel is a democracy, where it’s acceptable – and even encouraged – to criticize the government. It’s unfortunate that instead of allowing this apolitical event to go on without interference, there are those who insist on using this opportunity to spread anti-Israel propaganda.

Senior Palestinian Official Claims U.S. Denied Her Visa

A senior Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) official claimed Monday on Twitter that the U.S. government denied her visa to come to the country.

Dr. Hanan Ashrawi, a player in Palestinian politics, claimed that, “It is official! My US visa application has been rejected. No reason given. Choose any of the following: I’m over 70 & a grandmother; I’ve been an activist for Palestine since the late 1960’s; I’ve always been an ardent supporter of nonviolent resistance.”

Ashrawi, a member of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization, explained her experiences with previous U.S. administrations.

“I’ve met (& even negotiated with) every Sec. of State since Shultz, & every President since George H. W. Bush (present administration excluded); I’ve been a vocal critic of this administration & its underlings; I believe in freedom of speech; I’ve always been searingly honest,” she tweeted.

“I despise hypocrisy, misogyny, absolutist fundamentalism, populism, racism of all kinds, exclusivity, arrogance & condescension, power politics & militarism, cruelty in any form, & any sense of entitlement & exceptionalism,” Ashrawi continued. “Most of all, I have no tolerance for the Israeli occupation in all its manifestations as a most pervasive form of oppression, dispossession & denial; I have no respect for the enablers of this inhuman condition nor for its apologists.”

This is the second Palestinian activist to have their visa denied in recent months. Omar Barghouti, one of the founders of the Boycott, Divest and Sanction (BDS) Movement, had his visa revoked.

Indy fails to challenge Hanan Ashrawi’s claim she’s always rejected violence

The Indy journalist didn’t challenge Ashrawi’s assertion that she’s “always been an ardent supporter of nonviolence resistance”, a claim which doesn’t withstand scrutiny.
  • In November of 2000, she endorsed the murder of Israeli soldiers and civilian settlers, stating that “the army of occupation and the settlers have become legitimate and select targets of Palestinian resistance.” (AP, November 15, 2000).
  • During the same interview, she justified the savage lynching of two Israeli soldiers by Palestinians in Ramallah.
  • When asked in 2001 to comment on the latest deadly Palestinian terror attacks against Israelis, Ashrawi said (on the PA’s Voice of Palestine, Sept. 9, 2001) that “The only language Sharon understands is the language of violence.”
  • In 2004, during an interview with PBS, Ashrawi was asked if she condemns all Palestinian violence, and she asserted that “You cannot tell the Palestinians, you mustn’t resort to any kind of violence, whatever including self-defense”.
  • In 2007, during a speech at Emory University in Atlanta, Ashrawi appeared to defend the terror group Hezbollah.

Let’s also remember also that Ashrawi was a minister under the government of terror mastermind Yasser Arafat.

Though, especially in recent years, Ashrawi has often expressed support for non-violence, at least during interviews with Western media outlets, her claim that she’s “always” supported only non-violence is clearly not accurate.

Israel should prepare for the day China will rule the Middle East

According to multiple Israeli security officials, the Chinese government will likely take a leading role in funding the reconstruction of war-torn Syria. In recent years Beijing has become increasingly invested in the other parts of the Middle East as well, and Sino-Israeli relations have already caused friction between Jerusalem and Washington. Alex Fishman believes Israeli diplomats and military planners are woefully unprepared for the coming expansion of China’s regional influence:

Back in 2015, Israel allowed a Chinese company to operate parts of the Haifa port for the next 25 years, with an option to extend it for another 25. The decision was made without fully understanding the implications of long-term Chinese involvement in a key strategic infrastructure. The Ministry of Transport and the Ministry of Finance were certain they were being sophisticated and everyone would get to enjoy the crumbs of Chinese trillions. But the crumbs come at a price. . . .

The Chinese involvement in Syria could be much more dramatic and complicated. . . . The Russians don’t have the ability to invest in Syria beyond military infrastructure, while Iran (another ally of President Bashar al-Assad’s regime) needs to rehabilitate itself first following the reintroduction of U.S. sanctions on the Islamic Republic. The Americans have no interest in investing there, . . . while the Gulf states and Saudi Arabia would never do anything that could potentially strengthen the Assad regime due to its close relationship with Tehran.

This leaves the Chinese—who have both money and interest, as part of their $900-billion New Silk Route initiative—as the only ones capable to take on a project of this scale. . . . Syria will never be able to pay back the Chinese government, therefore [leading to] a repeat of the investment model Beijing has established in Africa. China is building infrastructure in many African countries; since they are unable to repay the mounting debts, the Chinese companies are taking over these countries’ natural resources and subjugating state policies to accommodate China’s interests. . . . Israel, [for its part], will have to deal with the fact that its border with Syria will be under Chinese jurisdiction.

Trump’s election appears to boost Israeli settlement construction

Israel’s government boosted its spending on West Bank settlements following the election of US President Donald Trump, according to official data obtained by The Associated Press.

Both supporters and detractors of the settlement movement have previously referred to a “Trump effect,” claiming the president’s friendlier approach to the settlements was leading to additional West Bank construction.

While the new Israeli figures obtained in a freedom of information request do not prove a direct connection, they indicate this process may already be underway, showing a 39 percent increase in 2017 spending on roads, schools and public buildings across the West Bank.

Hagit Ofran, a researcher with the left-wing anti-settlement monitoring group Peace Now, said it appeared that Trump’s election has emboldened Israel’s pro-settler government.

“They are not shy anymore with what they are doing,” she said. “They feel more free to do whatever they want.”

Construction of 20,000 settler homes started in Netanyahu’s first decade as PM

Israel has begun building nearly 20,000 settler homes in the West Bank during the past decade of Benjamin Netanyahu’s premiership, a settlement watchdog reported Tuesday.

Peace Now’s annual settlement report highlighted how the issue complicates the chances of resolving the Israel-Palestinian conflict.

It said that construction of 19,346 settler homes had started between 2009 — the year that Netanyahu became prime minister for a second time — and the end of 2018.

Thirty-seven percent — or 767 housing units’ worth — of the 2,100 construction starts in 2018 were in areas that are east of the planned route of the West Bank security barrier, and outside of the so-called settlement blocs that most Israelis believed will be retained in any peace agreement with the Palestinians.

“The Israeli government is digging the country a pit to fall in,” said a Peace Now statement accompanying the report.

“Even if the government does not believe that peace can be achieved in the near future, there is no logic to expanding the settlements and making the solution impossible.”

Year after US embassy move, Jerusalem diplomatic influx fails to materialize

During last year’s Independence Day festivities, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promised “preferential treatment” for the first 10 countries to move their embassies to Jerusalem.

“There’s a simple principle, you’re familiar with it: first come, first served,” he told foreign ambassadors at an April 19, 2018, reception in the capital.

At the time, the US and Guatemala were scheduled to open embassies in Jerusalem within weeks, in what Israeli officials hoped would create momentum to overturn a decades-old taboo against establishing diplomatic missions in the holy city.

“I’m delighted to say that there are at least half a dozen countries that are now seriously discussing with us moving the embassy to Jerusalem,” Netanyahu announced that day.

In that optimistic spirit, Construction and Housing Minister Yoav Gallant urged the Jerusalem Municipality to prepare an area of the city for the influx of foreign missions, similar to Washington, DC’s Embassy Row.

A handful of countries did toy with the idea, and some even opened lower-level “missions” or “offices” in Jerusalem. But the hoped-for mass relocation of embassies did not materialize. (An embassy is considered the headquarters of a government’s representation in a foreign country, and has a special status that consulates and other lower-level “missions” and “offices” do not.)

What’s Next After One-Year Anniversary of US Embassy Move?

It’s the one year anniversary since the United States moved its’ embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Benjamin Netanyahu will attend an event marking this anniversary.Will this relocation have any impact on the Trump administration for a deal of the century. Our Ellie Hochenberg has the story.

Will Other Nations Follow US in Jerusalem Embassy Move?

One year after the United States unilaterally broke international consensus and moved their embassy to Jerusalem — effectively recognizing the disputed city as Israel’s capital — few countries have followed suit.

Aussie Labor Party seeks to cancel recognition of west Jerusalem as capital

Australia’s Labor Party, leading the polls by just 2% in a tight race with the Liberals that will be decided on Saturday, said that if it unseats Liberal Prime Minister Scott Morrison, it would reverse Canberra’s decision last year to recognize west Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

The Executive Council of Australian Jewry (ECAJ) published on Monday a list of answers that the Liberals, Labor and Greens provided on issues of importance to Australia’s Jewish community.

Asked about the Jerusalem issue, Labor said, “We support the widely held view of the international community that the future of Jerusalem needs to be decided by the parties to the Middle East conflict as part of a negotiated peace settlement. That is why Labor does not support unilateral recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and in Government would reverse this decision.”

Syrian opposition leader urges normalization with Israel

Though most Syrians oppose normalizing relations with Israel and reject efforts toward establishing diplomatic ties, that has not stopped Syrian opposition leader Fahad Almasri from seeking an opportunity to open communication channels with Israel.

Almasri, founder and leader of the National Salvation Front in Syria (NSF), told The Media Line that he would like the Syrian and Israeli people to live side-by-side in peace and to become business partners. He describes himself as a staunch opponent of Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad and an alternative leader to Assad’s rule.

Almasri, who has lived in France for 24 years, says he has the bravery to talk openly about relations with Israel in a post-Assad Syria.

“We have the courage and the open political vision. The reason is: the… change that has occurred in Syrian society. [This change] led to the reevaluation of all concepts and values and the fall of slogans,” Almasri said.

Yair Netanyahu to Germany: Stop Funding Left-Wing NGOs That Seek Israel’s Destruction

Yair Netanyahu, the son of Israel’s prime minister, slammed Germany for what he said was its hypocrisy in saying it stands “shoulder to shoulder with Israel” while shelling out millions of euros in aid to “radical left wing NGOs that seek its destruction.”

Germany’s foreign ministry, which recently celebrated Iran’s 1979 Islamic revolution, issued a statement on Saturday marking the 70th anniversary of Israel’s admittance to the UN. The statement said Germany’s “Federal Government would like to take this 70th anniversary as an opportunity to reiterate the fact that Germany stands at Israel’s side in the UN, too.”

Foreign Minister Heiko Maas was quoted as saying that Israel’s “security and right to exist must never be called into question by anyone anywhere.”

The top diplomat went on to say that Germany will always “act as a friend of Israel” and oppose “any unfair treatment of Israel in the UN.”

Yair Netanyahu took Maas to task over the statement, blasting Berlin’s funding of anti-Israel organizations.

“It will be nice if you stop interfering in our internal business and stop funding hundreds of radical left-wing NGOs in Israel that seek its destruction. Use the hundreds of millions of € you use for this to fund hospitals, schools and churches in Germany!” he tweeted.

High Court to review decision to close Temple Mount on Jerusalem Day

The High Court of Justice is scheduled to discuss on Thursday a petition against a decision this week by Jerusalem District Police Chief Maj Gen. Doron Yedid to close the Temple Mount to Jews on Jerusalem Day for the first time in 30 years.

Most years, the police not only allow Jewish visitors into the Temple Mount compound, they expand visiting hours to accommodate the thousands of extra visitors who come to celebrate Jerusalem Day, the annual holiday marking the reunification of Jerusalem after the 1967 Six-Day War.

This year, Jerusalem Day takes place on June 2, which falls during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

It is standard practice for the Jerusalem District Police to shut down the Temple Mount to Jews for the last few days of Ramadan, when hundreds of thousands of Muslim worshippers traditionally visit the site.

On Monday, the various Temple Mount activist groups were infuriated after they received notified that this year, the Mount would be off-limits to Jews on Jerusalem Day because of the conflict with Ramadan.

Southern Israeli students plant trees in rocket craters

In a bid to show their strength in the face of rocket attacks, Mietarim, a pre-military academy located at in the southern kibbutz of Nahal Oz, has started an initiative to fill craters left by rockets with trees, TPS reported on Monday.

According to TPS, a lemon tree was the first to be planted in this initiative.

Noa Yanai, a student at the academy, told the news outlet that planting these trees at the place where rockets fell gives her and her fellow students a sense of permanence in the area.

“In a place where the rocket fell, evil is created,” she explained. “We are conveying a message that something good is growing within this evil.”

The initiative comes following rocket attacks earlier this month, which saw some 690 rockets shot into southern Israel from the Gaza enclave. Four Israelis were killed and 234 injured during the recent flare-up.

Iran’s Dilemma

The U.S. has amplified its economic sanctions against Iran in recent days. The U.S. has also begun moving forces to the Persian Gulf and closer to Iran. The Europeans have stressed that despite their commitment to the nuclear deal, if Iran stops fulfilling its obligations they will have to renew sanctions.

Western nuclear experts are still publishing analyses of Iran’s nuclear archives. These reports highlight the progress Iran’s military nuclear program has made, and illustrate the degree to which the International Atomic Energy Agency was irresponsible in regard to the nuclear deal.

For Iran, saving the nuclear deal gives it the ability to manufacture unhindered a large nuclear arsenal within 11 years. Still, it’s reasonable to assume that Tehran, at this stage, will seek to avoid a direct military clash with the U.S. by recognizing the limits of its own might and vulnerability in the face of American military capabilities.

War with Iran forthcoming? Most experts say they don’t think so

Is a war between the U.S. and Iran on the horizon? Jonathan Schanzer, senior vice president for research at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD), told the Jerusalem Post: “There’s only one way to fight the United States at this point. And that is through terrorism and insurgency. The idea that Iran would square off with the United States in a conventional conflict is not serious.”

Schanzer added that sending a carrier group to the Gulf is meant only to send a message. “When you put that into play, it changes the way that your adversary is going to respond to you. They’re going to be more fearful, and that’s what we call leverage.”

Ilan Goldenberg, senior fellow and director of the Middle East Security Program at the Center for a New American Security, told the Post that the U.S. should not expect an immediate crisis, but rather that Iran will once again take a slow-motion crawl toward a nuclear weapon. He added that the risk of military confrontation is overblown by the media.

Mark Dubowitz, the chief executive of FDD, told the Post: “I think it’s dawning on the Iranians that…they may not even make it to January 2021 [the end of Trump’s term in office] without a severe balance of payments crisis. They’re running out of foreign exchange reserves. The currency is collapsing, there’s severe recession. Inflation is skyrocketing. So maybe the Europeans can convince them to come back to the table and we’ll see negotiation.”

Iran: Israel the main cause of all regional crises, a threat to global peace

Iran’s Foreign Ministry on Tuesday said that Israel is a major cause of the crises in the Middle East and suggested a referendum be held among all of the inhabitants of what it called “historic Palestinian territory” to decide its political future as part of measures by the international community to end the “crimes of the Zionist regime.”

The ministry issued a statement ahead of Nakba Day, when Palestinians commemorate the “catastrophe” that befell them with Israel’s creation in 1948.

“On May 14 1948 territories witnessed one of the most painful events in the history of Islam and the world, since then, the people of this land have not seen peace and comfort,” the Iranian Foreign Ministry statement said.

“On Nakba Day, an illegitimate entity called the Zionist regime, backed by the US was born and occupied Palestinian territory,” the statement continued. “It has continued with war, crime and occupation, and today has become a major factor behind the reason of all regional crises and real threats to international peace and security.”

Iran called on the international community, “and in particular the United Nations, to end the systematic occupation of Palestine” and bring about the creation of a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital.

Iran blames Israel, U.S. blames Iran for Saudi ship sabotage

The tanker attacks off the coast of the United Arab Emirates were the result of “Israeli mischief,” an Iranian parliamentary spokesman said on Tuesday, according to the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA).

“The events that took place in the Emirates were Israeli mischief,” Behrouz Nemati said, without providing any details on what role Israel may have played in the attacks.

An anonymous US official said on Monday that an initial assessment showed that “Iran or Iranian-backed proxies” had blown holes in four ships in the Gulf of Oman off the coast of the United Arab Emirates.

The four ships were the subject of “sabotage,” Saudi Arabia said on Monday. A Norwegian ship confirmed that it had a hole in its hull, but images did not appear to show the result of an explosion, leaving questions about what precisely happened.

The incident began early Sunday morning and now may become a major crisis, increasing the already fraught tensions between the US and Iran. The US has warned Iran of repercussions if it or its allies attack the US.

Saudi Arabia says oil facilities attacked by Houthis in ‘act of terrorism’

Saudi Arabia claimed on Tuesday that Iran-backed Houthi rebel drones targeted their oil pumping stations in what it called a “cowardly” attack two days after Saudi oil tankers were sabotaged off the coast of the United Arab Emirates.

Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih confirmed on Tuesday that two oil pumping stations for the East-West pipeline had been hit by explosive-laden drones, calling the attack “an act of terrorism” that targeted global oil supplies.

Falih said that Saudi oil output and exports for crude and refined products were continuing without disruption, but that the state oil giant Aramco had halted oil pumping in the pipeline while the damage was evaluated and the stations were repaired, according to a statement carried by the state news agency SPA.

Riyadh has been leading a coalition alongside the Yemen government against the Iranian-backed Houthis. In many cases the Houthis have used Iranian technology and support to create a ballistic missile and drone program to fight Saudi Arabia.

Also on Tuesday morning, Al-Masirah TV claimed that the Houthis had carried out a “major operation” against Saudi Arabia. The report was picked up by Iran’s Tasnim news and also by Press TV.

MEMRI: Editors Of Iranian IRGC-Affiliated Newspapers: Iran Is Behind Fujairah And Yanbu Attacks; Possibility Of Additional Attacks In Red Sea, Golan Heights

Following May 12, 2019 reports of attacks on oil tankers at Fujairah Port, off the coast of the UAE’s Emirate of Fujairah, two senior Iranian journalists affiliated with Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) tweeted that Iran had carried out the attacks. The two journalists are Hamed Rahim-Pour, editor of the international section of the IRGC-affiliated Khorasan daily, and Amin Arabshahi, director of the IRGC-affiliated Tasnim news agency’s bureau in northern Khorasan Province. Rahim-Pour claimed that there had been an additional attack at the Saudi port of Yanbu in the Red Sea; that attack was confirmed today, May 14, by the Saudis. Rahim-Pour warned that there would be additional attacks at the ports of Fujairah and Yanbu and even on the Golan Heights.

The following are translations of the journalists’ tweets:

On May 12, 2019, Hamed Rahim-Pour, editor of the IRGC-affiliated Khorasan’s international section, tweeted:
“All our options are on the table; the [Saudi] port of #Yanbu [in the Red Sea] and also the [UAE] port of #Fujairah [in the Bay of Oman] were attacked. [These] two ports are meant [to supply oil] to replace Iranian oil! They received such a blow that they didn’t understand where it came from!”

The following day, May 14, 2019, Rahim-Pour tweeted:
“The scope of the [U.S.] war against Iran should not be defined only by gigantic U.S. aircraft carriers, or [its] strategic bombers stationed in Qatar, or the F-35 fighter planes. The range and scope of the possible war against Iran may be defined by quiet infiltrations at #Fujairah, #Yanbu and #Golan, and dozens of other points in the region.”

Report links vast online disinformation campaign to Iran

When an attractive young Middle Eastern woman contacted Saudi dissident Ali AlAhmed over Twitter last November, he was immediately suspicious.

The Associated Press was on the verge of publishing a story about how AlAhmed, who is based in the Washington area, had been targeted by hackers posing as a female journalist. Now, just two days before the article was set to go live, another young woman had sidled up to him over the internet, trying to entice him to read an article and share it online.

“They will never stop,” AlAhmed wrote in a Nov. 6 message to the AP. “They think a hot girl can lure me.”

The AP flagged the exchange to Canadian internet watchdog Citizen Lab, which was already helping AlAhmed deal with the hackers. Citizen Lab quickly determined that the Twitter account, purportedly belonging to an Egyptian writer named Mona A.Rahman , was part of a separate operation. In fact, she wasn’t even trying to hack AlAhmed — she was trying to enlist him in an ambitious global disinformation effort linked to Tehran.

In a report published Tuesday, Citizen Lab said A.Rahman was but a small piece of a years-old, multilingual campaign aimed at seeding anti-Saudi, anti-Israel and anti-American stories across the internet. Citizen Lab, which is based at the University of Toronto’s Munk School, said it believes “with moderate confidence” that the operation is aligned with Iran. The campaign is another indication of how online disinformation is being tested by countries well beyond Russia, whose interference into the 2016 U.S. presidential election was laid out in vivid detail in special prosecutor Robert Mueller’s report.

Protest at Tehran University against Enforcement Hijab, Students Chant: “Death to the Dictator”

On May 13, 2019, a protest took place at Tehran University against forced hijab and the presence of guards on university premises for the purpose of enforcing the hijab. Students chanted slogans that included: “Death to the dictator,” “Freedom of thought is impossible with a beard,” “The nation is panhandling, and the Leader is acting like God,” and “The students rather die than accept humiliation.” The students were also confronted by Iranian security forces and the Basij. The videos in this clip were posted to the Internet on May 13, 2019.

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