August 8, 2020

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07/09 Links Pt1: Understanding the collapse of liberal Zionism; Nothing will happen if sovereignty is applied to 30% of Area C; 3/4 of Natanz Centrifuge Assembly Hall Destroyed

From Ian:

Jonathan S. Tobin: Understanding the collapse of liberal Zionism
There’s a reason why most Israelis find it difficult to listen patiently to lectures from liberal American Jews. For Israelis, their country is a real place filled with real people and perplexing dilemmas that have no easy solutions. But for all too many American Jews, Israel is a dreamland—a place for intellectual tourism where we can project our own insecurities and anxieties on the Jewish state while expressing our moral superiority over the lesser beings who live there and lack our wisdom.

Which brings us to the problem of Peter Beinart.

Beinart, the former editor of The New Republic and columnist for The Atlantic, sought to carve out a place for himself as the leading liberal critic of Israel with his 2012 book The Crisis of Zionism. The book was as spectacularly ignorant as it was arrogant in its refusal to acknowledge the reality of the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.

The conceit of the work was that Israelis needed to rise above their fears and recognize that a two-state solution was within easy reach. Anything that contradicted his assumptions—like the nature of Palestinian political culture or the continued rejectionism and obsession with the fantasy of Israel’s destruction—was either rationalized or ignored. Too immersed in their unseemly quest for security and profit, Israelis could only overcome the “crisis” of the title by listening to the wisdom of Beinart, a righteous American pilgrim, whose manifest good intentions should have generated respect and deference from his recalcitrant Israeli pupils.

Much to Beinart’s chagrin, rather than take the advice of a leading American public intellectual to heart, Israelis ignored it. In the eight years since then, Israel has endured more violence and political controversy while the Palestinians have continued to reject peace, whether along the lines laid out by President Barack Obama (whose alleged bona fides as a friend of the Jewish people was discussed at length in his book) or the less generous terms offered by President Donald Trump.

Instead of moving closer to moral and physical collapse as Beinart has been prophesying, Israel has only gotten stronger. Much of the Arab world has tired of Palestinian intransigence and largely abandoned advocacy for their cause, as many now perceive the Israelis as a vital ally in the struggle against Iran, as well as a needed resource in the areas of technology, agriculture and clean water. Peace with the Palestinians is not in sight. But until it becomes possible, the Jews of Israel will hold on and continue to thrive.

Daniel Gordis: End the Jewish State? Let’s try some honesty, first

Israel has had a long and complex history, stained time and again by many moral failings. Israelis have almost always responded by demanding that we be better, not by suggesting that we end the project. Israelis’ frustration with the peace process, our government’s now catastrophic mishandling of the pandemic, our medieval and misogynist, homophobic rabbinate, Israel’s now massive unemployment, the “Price Tag” racists whom the government refuses to punish, the poverty in which Holocaust survivors live, the inequality that Israeli Arabs face daily and much more has not given rise to anything akin to America’s desire to destroy itself.

The unfettered quest for self-immolation, the intellectual thinness of cancel culture, the rage that pulls down statues of Christopher Columbus and advocates abandoning capitalism for socialism without any regard for how Marx’s and Lenin’s theories unfolded in the Soviet Union, in China, in Cuba or elsewhere – all that is a distinctly American response. Israelis, for all their many faults, show little sign of the cultural fatigue, intellectual sloppiness or willed oblivion-to-consequences that are now emblematic of America’s youth. What Beinart has done is to essentially take America’s desire for self-destruction and ask Israelis to adopt it.

No thanks.

We Israelis, like Americans, have had no perfect leaders. David Ben-Gurion was a racist who had utter disdain for darker-skinned Mizrachi Jews and their culture. Menachem Begin got innocent people killed in the King David bombing and decades later, launched the disastrous Lebanon War. Golda Meir famously asked, “What Palestinian people?” Ariel Sharon allowed the massacre at Sabra and Shatila.

Yet we also know that David Ben-Gurion built a Jewish state against all odds and kept it alive when that seemed impossible. Menachem Begin was instrumental in getting the British to leave Palestine, fought against military rule over Israeli Arabs, made peace with Egypt, returned the Sinai and destroyed Iraq’s nuclear reactor. Golda Meir launched Israel’s long tradition of reaching out to African countries, out of a belief that if we had independence and hope, they should, too. It was Ariel Sharon who got Israel out of Gaza.

That is why we’re not tearing down statues (not that we erect that many, by the way, which is also interesting). We prefer to recognize that life is complicated, that great human beings are invariably also deeply flawed. The same is true of countries. Israel’s conflict with the Palestinians is exhausting and depressing and surfaces much of Israel’s ugliness. No one should “prove” their love for Israel by denying that.

But Israel was created not to be perfect, but to restore the Jewish people to its ancestral homeland, and thus to allow the Jewish people and its culture to thrive and flourish as it can nowhere else on earth. Looked at that way, Israel is not only miraculous, it is an extraordinary success. We Israelis can see our terrible mistakes and still take pride in what we’ve accomplished; many of us are horrified by what it still not right here, but we have no interest in Beinart’s suggestion that we therefore commit national suicide.

Peter Beinart believes that because we cannot get the Palestinians to recognize our right to a state, we should knock over our proverbial king and give up the project. We believe that while we wait for the Palestinians to want a future more than they want revenge, we should build this society and the Jewish cultural, intellectual, religious and historical revival it makes possible. My bet is that Israelis will continue to build the society that is the largest, culturally richest, most intellectually dynamic Jewish community anywhere in the world, and that we’ll still be at it long after Peter Beinart has been entirely forgotten.

Petra Marquardt-Bigman: The Increasing Radicalism of Peter Beinart Must Be Confronted

Yet according to Beinart, Israeli Jews should hope that once they give up on their state, Palestinians would feel they have all the “freedom” they ever wanted and violence would “decline.” Beinart is at least honest enough not to promise that violence would stop, and in any case, he could calmly watch from the comfort of his home in the US if this “Isratine” experiment pans out.

Fantasizing about the elimination of the world’s only entirely Jewish state by eventually transforming it into yet another Arab-Muslim majority state in order to please — and hopefully appease — the Palestinians is of course a fairly popular pastime in some “progressive” circles. But while most progressives won’t be eager to acknowledge that they could once count on the support of the late Libyan dictator Qaddafi, Beinart is apparently not particularly picky about the company he keeps.

When he shared on Twitter “some of the writing that has shaped my thinking,” his list included “Ali Abunimah’s book, One Country,” which Beinart praised as “both trenchantly argued and deeply generous in spirit. I wish I could assign it in every Jewish school.”

It apparently doesn’t bother Beinart that — starting during the murderous Al-Aqsa intifada almost two decades ago — Ali Abunimah has been single-mindedly devoted to demonizing Israel. At his Electronic Intifada site, the Jewish state is constantly presented as a monstrous evil that must be eliminated, and that if Islamist terror groups like Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad help to achieve that goal, they should obviously be cheered on.

Needless to say, Abunimah is certain that advocating the elimination of the world’s only Jewish state while whitewashing and promoting Islamist terrorism can never ever be antisemitic, and he thinks he should therefore be entitled to his own truly Orwellian definition of antisemitism. Preposterously enough, Abunimah sees himself as a fighter against antisemitism, because as far as he is concerned, “Zionism is one of the worst forms of antisemitism in existence today” and “supporting Zionism is not atonement for the Holocaust, but its continuation in spirit.”

The fact that Beinart believes that anything Abunimah writes is “deeply generous in spirit” tells us all we need to know about his judgement.

But whether it’s Ali Abunimah or Muammar Qaddafi or Peter Beinart, the people who advocate the elimination of the Jewish state will always insist that their motives are pure and noble. Their cynical disregard for the lives and aspirations of millions of Israeli Jews reveal the hollowness of that claim.

New York Times Beinart Op-Ed Calling for End of Israel Met With Scorn

Like other recent New York Times coverage of Israel, the Beinart article tries to portray the Jewish state like Apartheid-era South Africa.

“Divided societies are most stable and most peaceful when governments represent all their people,” Beinart writes. “It’s the lesson of South Africa, where Nelson Mandela endorsed armed struggle until Blacks won the right to vote.”

Beinart also inaccurately describes Zionism as primarily a reaction to the Holocaust, when in fact it long predated that.

“This Holocaust lens leads many Jews to assume that anything short of Jewish statehood would mean Jewish suicide. But before the Holocaust, many leading Zionists did not believe that,” Beinart writes.

Actually, Herzl’s Der Judenstaat was published in 1896, almost a half-century before the Holocaust. For thousands of years before that, Jews prayed for a restoration of Jewish sovereignty in the Land of Israel.

The word “I” appears three times in the headline and subheadline of the Beinart article. It’s the first word of each of the first two paragraphs of the article, and it appears nine times in the first eight sentences. It’s a telltale sign the article really isn’t about Israel, or even about the Palestinians, but about Beinart, who seems to find himself to be his own most interesting subject.

If this is what the post-James Bennet regime means at The New York Times editorial page, it isn’t a promising sign. Rather, it’s a sad statement that, in the midst of a nationwide heightened sensitivity to bias against minority groups, The New York Times would choose to publish an article calling for the elimination of the one country in the world where a Jewish majority has self-determination. There are nearly 200 countries in the world: the one the Times wants to wipe off the map just happens to be the one the Jews run?

The Times accompanies the Beinart piece with links to “Other views from Opinion on Israel-Palestine,” making it look like this is a topic for reasonable debate — should Israel be eliminated, or not? This may help drive clicks in New York or distract the masses in Iran from their government-imposed misery, but the fact that the Beinart article was greeted so dismissively from Israel is an encouraging sign that for Israelis themselves, at least, that ship has long since sailed.

Anyone who wants to eliminate Israel needs to deal, at the moment, with a government led by Prime Minister Netanyahu and a nuclear-armed Israel Defense Forces. Forget about it. They aren’t going anywhere, totally regardless of whether Beinart “believes” or doesn’t believe in them.

Peter Beinart’s Israel-Palestine Fantasies

Beinart’s vision of “Israel-Palestine” is developed more fully, and even less persuasively, in Jewish Currents, the progressive quarterly that he edits. He insists that Jewish statehood “has long been precious” to him. But not, apparently, since the Six-Day War, when it became a source of discomfort deserving of his unrelenting criticism. Once Prime Minister Netanyahu vowed to “annex” — more accurately, to extend sovereignty over — a segment of Judea and Samaria, land that Beinart claims has been “brutally and undemocratically controlled” by Israel ever since 1967, he began to change his mind.

Wearing leftist blinders, he fails to notice that Palestinians have repeatedly rejected that possibility. The Trump “peace plan,” with “its implicit acceptance of [limited] Israeli annexation,” has intensified Palestinian support for “armed struggle.” Beinart fails to note that for decades the predictable Palestinian response to the Jewish state, even without annexation looming, has been armed struggle, otherwise known as terrorism. Since independence in 1948 these attacks have murdered 3,155 innocent Israeli citizens.

For as long as Israel is seen by liberal American Jewish intellectuals among countless others as the repressive occupier of someone else’s land, any chance of conflict resolution is virtually nil. What then is Beinart’s solution? Succinctly: “a Jewish home that is a Palestinian home, too.” Why? Because a two-state solution — inevitably “a fragmented Palestine under de facto Israeli control” — “no longer provides hope.”

Beinart is impressed that “growing numbers of Palestinians have embraced the idea of one state in which they enjoy equal rights” with Israelis. But Israeli leaders are inclined “to inch closer to policies of mass expulsion” — at least according to his primary sources: revisionist historian Tom Segev and Haaretz correspondent Amira Hass (who has chosen to live in Gaza and Ramallah over Israel).

With ideological guns firing, Beinart anticipates that Israeli annexation of 30% of Judea and Samaria is “a waystation on the road to hell” as “oppression degenerates into ethnic cleansing.” He seems oblivious to the fact that nothing in the Trump/Netanyahu plan even remotely resembles ethnic cleansing. It divides the West Bank with 30% for Israelis and the remainder for Palestinians. If anything, Israel would be short-changed, deprived of 70% of its Biblical homeland.

Enraptured by his fantasy of “democratic binationalism in Israel-Palestine,” Beinart insists that “Only Palestinian freedom … can make Jews whole.” It may be a shanda for Beinart, but it is surely a cause for Israeli celebration that a Jewish state in a significant part of the Biblical homeland of the Jewish people draws closer to fulfillment of the Zionist dream.

Will Beinart’s Egyptian-born grandma be turning in her grave?

Liberal Zionist circles in the US have been reeling from the shock that one of their most eloquent spokesmen, Peter Beinart, now advocates the replacement of Israel with a binational state in Palestine. Perhaps his own grandmother Adèle will be turning in her grave. Her family was expelled from Alexandria, Egypt and lived thereafter in the Congo and South Africa. Beinart seems to have forgotten his own 2014 eulogy to her in the pages of Haaretz:

Peter Beinart: forgot his grandmother’s ‘tribal’ Zionism
My grandmother was neither morbid, nor even particularly nostalgic. When asked about her past, she’d often reply, “Who knows?” and then ask a question she considered more pertinent, like, “Why aren’t you eating your fish?” She didn’t talk much about the communities she had buried, but they spoke through her actions. She cooked vast quantities of bourekas, especially for Shabbat dinners, during which her grandchildren ran wild through the house. She went every week to Cape Town’s tiny Sephardi shul. She argued with her brothers in French. She kept a small book that listed the Jewish families from Rhodes, and the places to which history had dispersed them. On beautiful 75-degree days in Cape Town, she sometimes complained about the chill, which puzzled me until I remembered that she had spent much of her youth on the equator.

In my teenage years, when the anti-apartheid movement became a global force, we began to argue politics. My suggestion that Jews had a particular obligation to combat apartheid annoyed her. She probably felt that my claim that Jews had a special responsibility to black South Africans, or any other group of gentile underdogs, stemmed from my inability to imagine being the underdog myself. For her, it didn’t take much imagination. The lessons she drew from her experience of vulnerability and dislocation were straightforward: Jews should be on the lookout for trouble and should take care of each other since no one else would. She approached peoplehood the same way she approached family: like she was part of a gang.

Those instincts formed the basis of her Zionism, which was more tribal than ideological. She didn’t see Israel as a place to forge an ambitious new social order; she saw it as a place Jews could exhale. If her nightmare for South Africa was that its transition to black rule would resemble Congo’s, her nightmare for Israel was that Arab nationalism would imperil its Jews in the way Arab nationalism had imperiled Alexandria’s. If I questioned these fears, she’d ask me how much time I’d spent living in an Arab country. Our dialogue of the deaf bore a faint resemblance to the dialogue between Benjamin Netanyahu and Barack Obama, except that Netanyahu doesn’t interrupt his lectures to inquire if Obama has had enough to eat.

Nothing will happen if sovereignty is applied to 30% of Area C

In recent days, it appears that Israel’s plans to apply sovereignty in thirty percent of Judea and Samaria are halted, for Alternate Prime Minister Benny Gantz does not believe that such plans should proceed amid the pandemic. He also is hesitant to apply sovereignty, in the absence of an agreement with the other side. If the Israeli government listens to Gantz on this, it will be a terrible mistake, for time is not on our side.

Trump’s days in the White House may be numbered and a Joe Biden presidency will not permit Israel to apply sovereignty in any percent, let alone thirty percent of Judea and Samaria. Therefore, unless we want the most beneficial and practical peace plan ever presented to be thrown in the dustbins of history, we need to take action in order to implement it, so it will be a fait accompli before Election Day.

Trump’s days in the White House may be numbered and a Joe Biden presidency will not permit Israel to apply sovereignty in any percent, let alone thirty percent of Judea and Samaria.

No other peace plan will recognize our right to a united Jerusalem, the Jordan Valley, and the major settlement blocs, which are of critical importance to preserving Israel’s national security. No other peace deal puts the onus on the Palestinian Arabs rather than us to demonstrate their sincerity. And no other peace plan will ensure that the Palestinians remain demilitarized and do not pose an existential threat to the State of Israel. It would be a shame if this opportunity got lost.

Although there may be more terror attacks if Israeli sovereignty is applied to thirty percent of Judea and Samaria, Israel should still stand its ground for there are some things that simply cannot wait. Even though it is true that the coronavirus pandemic is a grave humanitarian crisis that requires urgent attention and that we as Israelis still must deal with the threat posed by the mullah’s regime, the Deal of the Century is a once in a life time opportunity that cannot be missed.

It is folly to wait indefinitely for the PA to accept the Trump peace plan, when they rejected other peace plans that were ten times more favorable to them in the past. Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, President of Shurat Hadin, declared in a webinar titled Pulling the Annexation Trigger: “It is not a secret that the Palestinians were opposed to the plan, even before it was revealed.

From the very beginning, the Palestinian Arabs did not see it as the Deal of the Century.” For them, it was the “Slap of the Century.” In fact, they were opposed to the Deal of the Century even before they knew what it contained. The PA leadership supports anti-Semitic incitement and terrorism, not peace. To wait for consent on the other side is to wait indefinitely for the Palestinian people to overthrow their own leaders.

Fifty-Two Years Late Isn’t Too Late

As Israel considers how and when to apply sovereignty to parts of Judea and Samaria — drawing its map in cooperation with the United States and leaving a chair at the table for the Palestinian Authority — American Democrats, the European community, parts of the international Jewish community, and to an apparently lesser degree the Gulf Arab countries have been busy pronouncing themselves “troubled” by the whole process. The silent party has been the Palestinian Authority.

Until now.

In a text message to “the Quartet” (the “peacemaking” group consisting of the United Nations, the European Union, the United States, and Russia), the PA declares itself “ready to resume direct bilateral negotiations where they stopped” in 2014. The Palestinians are ready, the message says, to consider “minor border changes that will have been mutually agreed, based on the borders of June 4, 1967.” It helps to know that the June 4 line is not a border. It is the 1949 Armistice Line that was rejected by the United Nations as a border for Israel in UN Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338.

This is why the Quartet has been a spectacular failure. The institutional players plus assorted others assert that all of the territory east of the 1949 line “belongs” to the Palestinians for a state. Therefore, the presence of Israelis living on that land, and the incorporation of any of it into the State of Israel, is illegal — an “annexation,” the relevant definition of which is “to incorporate (a country or other territory) within the domain of a state.”

The EU specifically believes the Fourth Geneva Convention — created as a result of Nazi deportations of Jews and forced transfers of populations — applies to Israelis in Judea and Samaria, which it considers “Palestinian territory” or sometimes the State of Palestine, even though only nine of 28 EU countries recognize Palestine as a state. (It should be noted with a sigh that the 80,000-man Shi’ite mercenary army Iran brought to Syria forced millions of Sunni Syrian civilians out of their homes and into Turkey, Jordan, and Europe as refugees. Their tragedy has never been referred for adjudication under the Fourth Geneva Convention.)

Israel and the United States consider Judea and Samaria to be “disputed territory.”

Israel’s Security Imperatives in the Jordan Valley

Israeli sovereignty over the Jordan Valley is critical to Israel’s ability to defend itself by itself. The benefits outweigh the potential costs, and the move would not preclude a future agreement with the Palestinians. The valley is a natural barrier and Israel’s longest border, separating Jordan from Israel and the West Bank. Compared to the pre-1967 armistice lines, it provides Israel with much-needed strategic depth, allowing IDF forces to more efficiently neutralize threats in Palestinian Authority territory.

By applying Israeli law to the Jordan Valley, Israel would be able to permanently contribute to Jordan’s stability and its own. IDF forces already routinely thwart arms smuggling and other terrorist activities along the Jordan River. Continued Israeli presence will prevent the valley, and by extension the West Bank, from devolving into a terrorist haven akin to Gaza. Such a scenario in a territory adjacent to Jordan, whose population is majority Palestinian, would dangerously undermine Jordanian security.

Critics have cautioned that applying Israeli law to the valley could harm the country’s security by destabilizing Jordan. The move will certainly create challenges for King Abdullah. Yet Jordan still relies on security and intelligence cooperation with Israel, as well as supplies of water and natural gas. With Syria and Iraq as neighbors, Jordan also needs a stable border – something only permanent Israeli presence in the Jordan Valley can provide.

As Syria’s violent unraveling and the turbulent power changes in Egypt show, no Middle Eastern country is impervious to sudden, violent changes. Israel must have defensible borders. The valley can provide those. Until Palestinian leaders decide to pursue a lasting solution, Israel must act to secure its interests with American coordination.

Israeli Forces along Jordan River May Face Enemies from East and West

Try as it might, Israel cannot end its occupation of the West Bank through negotiations because the Palestinians refuse to negotiate. Israel attempted “final status” negotiations with the Palestinians in 2000, 2001, 2008 and 2014. Each time, the Palestinians have either said no to Israeli or American offers – without making a counteroffer – or merely left the talks without responding at all. Since 2014, Palestinians have refused to negotiate.

For a people so apparently eager for statehood, this refusal to negotiate might appear odd. The problem is, the Palestinian leadership has not prepared its people for the compromises they will have to make. The unreconstructed vision of Israel eventually being replaced by Palestine is still their primary message.

Israel would end the occupation tomorrow if it could do so in a way that would not undermine its security. The problem is, Israel unilaterally withdrew from Gaza in 2005, and has endured three wars launched from Gaza since that time. The West Bank abuts Israel’s civilian, industrial and economic center, and, understandably enough, Israel doesn’t want a Gaza-like, rocket-spewing entity to emerge there until it is convinced the Palestinians are both willing and able to keep the peace.

Palestinian-Americans said unable to get Biden to sharpen tone against Israel

Palestinian-Americans have been pressuring presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden to change his campaign’s position to be more pro-Palestinian, but without success so far, according to a report Thursday.

More than 120 Palestinian activists in the United States have signed a “Statement of Principles” detailing their demands of candidates, the Reuters new agency reported, citing three unnamed people “familiar with the campaign’s thinking.”

The list includes conditioning aid to Israel on it ending “practices that violate Palestinian rights and contravene international law” and clarifying that there will be no recognition of Israeli sovereignty in the West Bank.

“We want to see Biden embrace the party’s progressives, who have recognized the shared struggle between Palestinians living under military occupation, and Black and brown Americans who face police brutality, systemic racism and injustice,” the report quoted Zeina Ashrawi Hutchison, a delegate to the Democratic National Convention in August, as saying.

However, the campaign isn’t gaining traction with the former US vice president’s camp, the sources were quoted as saying.

“The progressives want a full-throttle platform change — a pro-Palestinian flank, an anti-annexation flank — but there just isn’t appetite in the campaign so far,” one of them said.

Palestinian leaders are hoping Biden would significantly tone down Washington’s current pro-Israel policies, which have included recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and moving the embassy there, recognizing Israeli sovereignty in the Golan Heights and unveiling a Middle East peace plan that green-lights Israeli annexation of large swaths of the West Bank.

Biden, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and 28 of the 45 sitting Democratic senators have all spoken out against the West Bank annexation plan in recent months.

Nineteen of them signed onto a letter in May to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his senior coalition partner, Defense Minister Benny Gantz, saying annexation “would have a clear impact on both Israel’s future and our vital bilateral and bipartisan relationship.”

PreOccupiedTerritory: Mythic Countries Of Wakanda, Narnia, Palestine Get New Neighbor In Leftist Imagination: Pre-Netanyahu Israel (satire)

Somewhere in the Levant, July 9 – Realms located in the world of the imaginary such as Middle Earth, Krypton, and Eternia gained a new member in recent years: the Israel that so many insist existed before the Labor Party lost its power, and when everything in the land was more pleasant, more honest, more unified, and of course simpler.

Recent polls of inhabitants of the fantasy multiverse that includes Wakanda, Narnia, Palestine, Fredonia, Vulgaria, and other figmentary places indicate that since approximately 2009, they have noticed the addition to their fictional neighborhood of a place that the Asheknazi elite of Israel has evoked more and more as their political and cultural power wanes: the wholesome, closer-to-perfect Israel that existed before Binyamin Netanyahu’s Likud Party and its right-wing or Mizrahi allies and predecessors asserted themselves beyond their blue-collar, second-class, barbaric station, and before rising economic prosperity obviated the socialist bureaucracy that cemented those secular Ashkenazim in positions of influence.

“I guess there’s room for everyone,” surmised Prince Adam of Eternia. “Imagination is limitless. So there’s plenty enough space in our worlds for an idealized, Labor-Party-hegemony, morally uncompromised Israel that would still exist if those rotten right-wingers had never convinced enough voters to choose them instead. The realm of black-and-white heroes vs. villains belongs much more in our comic-book, cartoon-show milieu than in anything resembling human reality.”

Chief Rabbi of South Africa: Israel Does Not Practice Apartheid

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is wholly different from the struggle against apartheid in South Africa. The fact is, Israel has none of the apartheid legislative machinery designed to discriminate against and separate people.

Within the sovereign borders of the State of Israel currently exist 1.8 million Muslim and Christian citizens who are the equal of their Jewish compatriots in every conceivable way. They participate side-by-side in elections as part of one voter role, and hold high-ranking positions throughout the levels of Israeli government, including Parliament and the Supreme Court. They serve in law enforcement and even in the army.

There are none and have never been separate facilities for Jews and Israeli Palestinians; all across Israel, schools and universities, benches and beaches, buses and hospitals, are unsegregated in any way, and every Israeli citizen, no matter their ethnic or religious origin, has complete and full legal rights.

Israel has tried desperately, over many decades, to make peace and to come to some kind of resolution with the Palestinians. Unfortunately, all of these overtures were rejected and, indeed, met with terror attacks, mortars and rockets.

Israel wants nothing more than peace – and is willing to pay a huge price for it – but, tragically, there has never been a true peace partner on the other side.

Chief Justice of South Africa: I Will Not Retract My Comments on Israel

Chief Justice of South Africa Mogoeng Mogoeng, who has been facing criticism for attacking the ruling ANC party’s one-sided approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, said he will not retract his statements, according to a report Saturday by South Africa’s Gateway News.

Responding to the criticism, Mogoeng said, “Even if 50 million people can march every day for the next 10 years for me to retract and apologize for what I said – I will not do it.”

“I will not apologize for anything. There is nothing to apologize for. There is nothing to retract. I can’t apologize for loving. I cannot apologize for not harboring hatred and bitterness. I will not.”

These three judges could send Israel to the dock in The Hague

What Brichambaut, Kovács and Alapini-Gansou will decide on the “situation in Palestine” is anyone’s guess at this point. They could adopt Israel’s position and argue that the ICC has no jurisdiction over Israel/Palestine whatsoever.

Israel’s Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit in December argued that the ICC “manifestly lacks jurisdiction” over the case because “no sovereign Palestinian State is in existence” that could delegate to the court criminal jurisdiction over its territory and nationals. (If the pre-trial chamber decides to close the case, the prosecutor could either decide to let it go or appeal the decision.)

If the judges are unconvinced by Mandelblit’s arguments, they are likely to rule that the broader question of Palestinian statehood is irrelevant as long as “Palestine” formally became a “State Party” to the court, which it did in April 2015. (Some member states may choose to appeal that decision).

There are various other possibilities. The judges could, for instance, ask for more time or for more information. Or they could refuse to issue a ruling at all and ask the prosecutor to make a decision herself.

Either way, Israel will soon find out. While the judges don’t have a set deadline, they are expected to announce their ruling before the ICC goes on summer break in mid-July.

Some West Bank Arabs Are Learning Hebrew

Recent years have seen more and more Hebrew language schools opening in West Bank Palestinian cities.

Recently a Samaritan woman told me about the private Leadership School in Nablus where her son learns Hebrew. She said she registered her son at this school because “I see his future with Israel and I wanted him to know the language well.”

The boy told me: “I love my school….The problem is the teachers. They teach us Hebrew, but also teach us that we need to shoot at Jews.”

His mother continued: “Because the school is in Nablus, the curriculum is from the Palestinian Ministry of Education. In the math, language, and other textbooks, the content is anti-Israel. We need to swallow this and try to speak the truth at home.”

Palestinians See Major Threat in UAE Aid Shipment Via Israel

Is the UAE beginning to open relations with Israel at the expense of the Palestinians? The PA thinks so, and is willing to deny its own people urgently needed humanitarian aid during a global health crisis to make their point.

On May 19, an unmarked cargo plane carrying tons of medical supplies, medicines, ventilators, and the like flew from the UAE to Israel’s Ben-Gurion Airport. This was a humanitarian aid shipment meant to help the Palestinians deal with the coronavirus pandemic. It was sent by the UAE to the Palestinian Authority (PA) and the Gaza Strip. (Video of the shipment arriving in Israel is available here, via the Twitter page of Haim Omri.)

This was the first flight ever to occur from Abu Dhabi to Israel.

To the astonishment of Israel and the Emirates, the PA refused to accept delivery of the medical supplies sent to it by the UAE. According to Palestinian sources who spoke anonymously to the Arab media, this was because the UAE coordinated the arrival of the shipment with Israel and not with the Palestinians. That fact, likely combined with the optics of a UAE flight landing at Ben-Gurion, was deemed so unacceptable as to render the aid untouchable.

The Palestinian government does not want to function in any way as a bridge toward normalization of relations between Israel and the UAE, or anyone else for that matter. Anything that infringes on the Palestinian policy of enforced diplomatic isolation of Israel is to be categorically rejected, even if such rejection results in harm to the Palestinian people. This includes refusing delivery of 14 tons of badly needed medical supplies during an unprecedented global health crisis.

The unofficial Palestinian version of the story is that the UAE is trying to get closer to Israel at their expense. In the end, the aid went to Gaza, where Hamas members—who are usually more radically anti-Israel than the PA—received it willingly. Hamas didn’t care where the shipment had landed.

Khaled Abu Toameh: Why are Palestinians Committing Suicide?

Last year, Palestinian activists took to the streets of the Gaza Strip to protest economic hardship and demand that Hamas provide solutions for soaring unemployment and poverty rates. The protests, held under the banner “We want to live!,” were brutally suppressed by Hamas’s security forces and militiamen.

Such calls by human rights organizations are dismissed out of hand by Hamas leaders, whose only concern is the iron grip of their power.

Hamas, after 13 years of criminal negligence, rejects responsibility for the wellbeing of its people. Astoundingly, it continues to succeed in convincing the world that Israel is to blame for the misery of its own people. This convenient and toxic lie enables it to continue receiving money and weapons from its friends in Iran and Hezbollah to tighten its death grip on the Gaza Strip.

For Hamas, jihad (holy war), not a decent life for its people, is what matters. Tragically, it seems that young Palestinians in Gaza are getting the message — loud and clear.

PMW: Fatah’s role model: 14-year-old who chose death as a Martyr

Still, after 20 years, a young Palestinian boy who sought and achieved death as a “Martyr” serves Fatah as a role model.

Already from the early beginning of the PA’s terror wave (2000-2005) – the second Intifada – the PA was actively encouraging Palestinian children to seek Martyrdom. One 14-year-old boy, Faris Ouda, deliberately entered into confrontations with Israeli soldiers with the goal of becoming a Martyr. Believing the PA’s brainwashing, Faris left his mother with the words: “Don’t worry, mother, Martyrdom is sweet.” [Official PA daily, Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Feb. 3, 2001] Expecting and hoping to die as a Martyr, Faris had prepared a wreath in his room with his picture and the words “The brave Martyr Faris Ouda.” [Official PA daily, Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Nov. 30. 2000] Palestinian Media Watch published its first report documenting the PA’s promotion of Martyrdom for children, already in November 2000, just two months after Arafat started the PA terror wave. Throughout the terror wave, the PA continued to teach children to “ask for death.”

As part of the recent attempts by the PA and Fatah to prompt the willingness of Palestinians to use violence and terror when the leadership wants it, a Fatah spokesman singled out Faris Ouda as a role model. Glorifying young Palestinians who sacrifice themselves and seek Martyrdom in the fight against Israel, Fatah official Osama Al-Qawsmi mentioned Faris as an example of “greatness” and threatened Israel that it should “remember well” the sight of “Faris Ouda standing opposite the tank”:

Hamas Holocaust perversion: Jews planned Holocaust to kill handicapped Jews

Al-Aqsa TV (Hamas), April 18, 2008

Narrator: “The disabled and handicapped are a heavy burden on the state,” said the terrorist leader, Ben Gurion [Israel’s first PM]… The Satanic Jews thought up an evil plot [the Holocaust] to be rid of the burden of the disabled and handicapped, in twisted criminal ways. While they accuse the Nazis or others so that the Jews would seem persecuted, and try to benefit from international sympathy, they were the first to invent the methods of evil and oppression.

Head of the Palestinian “Center for Strategic Research” Amin Dabur: About the Israeli Holocaust – the whole thing was a joke, and part of the perfect show that Ben Gurion put on… focusing on [bringing] strong and energetic youth [to Israel], while the rest – the disabled, the handicapped, and people with special needs – they were sent [to die]
if it can be proven historically. They were sent [to die] so there would be a Holocaust, so Israel could ‘‘play’’ it for world sympathy…

Narrator: The alleged numbers of Jews [killed in the Holocaust] were merely for propaganda.

Palestinian Authority police arrest top anti-corruption activist

Palestinian Authority security forces, in a move that has sparked public outrage, on Wednesday arrested prominent anti-corruption activist Fayez Sweiti after he complained about unequal distribution of financial aid to Palestinians.

A resident of Hebron who describes himself as “a Palestinian activist against financial, administrative and political corruption in Palestinian institutions,” Sweiti is famous for his Facebook posts criticizing senior PA officials and institutions for their alleged involvement in corruption and embezzlement of public funds.

He also heads a group called “Hand in Hand Towards a Homeland Free of Corruption.”

Sweiti was taken into custody by PA security officers who raided his home in the town of Dura, near Hebron, on Tuesday night, Palestinian sources said.

Earlier this week, Sweiti received a phone call from a PA security officer who asked him to hand himself over, but he refused on the grounds that the summons was illegal, the sources added.

Shortly before his arrest, Sweiti posted on his Facebook page that he was planning to publish a video about the “corruption of the Palestinian police.”

IDF arrests two Hamas commanders in West Bank

Hamas claimed on Thursday that the arrest of two of its senior officials in the West Bank by the IDF was intended to derail Palestinian efforts to prevent Israel from applying its sovereignty to parts of the West Bank.

The two, Jamal Tawil and Hussein Abu Kwiek, were arrested during a pre-dawn IDF raid on their homes in Ramallah and its twin city of El-Bireh.

Tawil, who was elected mayor of El-Bireh in 2006, has been arrested several times by the IDF during the past two decades because of his activities on behalf of Hamas. Last year, after he went on hunger strike to protest his administrative detention, he was released from prison.

Abu Kweik, also a senior Hamas official in the West Bank, had also been previously arrested several times by the IDF in the past two decades. He was also arrested on a number of occasions by the Palestinian Authority security forces. During the Second Intifada, his wife and three children were killed in an IDF attack on his vehicle in Ramallah.

Hamas spokesman Hazem Qassem said that the arrest of the two top officials was part of “desperate attempt to obstruct the joint path of national work to confront plans to liquidate the Palestinian cause.”

3/4 of Natanz Centrifuge Assembly Hall Destroyed

High-resolution commercial satellite imagery from July 4 and 5, 2020, shows that the Iran Centrifuge Assembly Center (ICAC) at the Natanz Enrichment Site has suffered significant, extensive, and likely irreparable, damage to its main assembly hall section. This new facility, inaugurated in 2018, was critical to the mass production of advanced centrifuges, in particular the assembly of rotor assemblies, the rapidly spinning part of the centrifuge and its most crucial component. An annex to the building was intended to assemble electrical components of centrifuges, including motors, another important component of centrifuges. While early reporting from Iran suggested that a fire was “limited” and restricted to a “shed under construction,” more recent Iranian admissions are stating that the damage was “significant.”1

Satellite imagery further shows that the damage appears to have been caused by a large single point detonation, possibly creating a crater that is centered at the northwest corner of the ICAC. That explosion, evidently causing or coinciding with a fire, may well have involved an explosives device (that is also consistent with other open source reporting2).

In our previous report,3 our assessment of the extent of the damage was limited to that which could be gleaned only from a single ground image published by the Iranian national media and a short video posted on Youtube by Iribnews.4 In both cases, the images were restricted to showing only the north and east sides of the ICAC. While those images were sufficient to determine that both an explosion and fire had occurred in the building, the building appeared to have remained largely intact, albeit it with significant structural damage. The true extent of the damage was publicly withheld by Iran, either inadvertently or by intent.

It was not until commercial satellite imagery became available that the true nature of the damage could be observed. In the images now available to the Institute, a July 4 image from Airbus/CNES, and a July 5 image by Planet Labs, it is clear that a major explosion took place, destroying nearly three quarters of the main centrifuge assembly hall, generating a fire that blackened a major portion of the building, the blackening visible where the roof had been blown away by the explosion. Although we had originally concluded, based on the ground imagery, that the explosion and fire had most likely occurred in the northeast corner of the building in an area of the building that likely contained auxiliary diesel generators, it is now clear from the overhead satellite imagery that the explosion was actually centered at the northwest corner. Figures 1 – 3 contain overhead imagery of the building before and after the explosion. Unlike the northeast corner, which was blackened by fire and exhibited signs of some structural damage, the northwest corner of the ICAC building, including a large portion of a brick-walled annex, was completely obliterated. Moreover, a debris field of building materials (primarily roofing panels) is also distributed in a roughly radial pattern, extending to a radius of over half a football field, from that same point. What we perceive might be a crater, roughly 10 meters in diameter, is visible in the center of that circular pattern (see Figures 4 – 6). What appears to be some gray concrete throw-out material is also visible in the area where the corner of the building had been. That center-point of the possible crater is located just outside the building, which would be accessible by vehicle, suggesting that a vehicle-borne explosives device cannot be ruled out at this time (see Figure 7).

Iran denies US seizure of Iranian arms on way to Houthis in Yemen

Iran on Thursday denied that US forces had seized a boat carrying Iranian weapons to Houthi rebels in Yemen, saying the charge was aimed at extending a UN arms embargo on Tehran.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in Washington on Wednesday that US and unidentified allied forces had interdicted a vessel off Yemen’s coast on June 28 that was carrying Iranian arms to the Houthis.

“Lying, accusations and spreading hatred are key elements of America’s foreign policy, especially in the current regime,” Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi said, quoted by state television. “Pompeo’s remarks stem from this approach.”

US President Donald Trump’s administration has taken a hardline with the United Nations to push it to strengthen the embargo on Iran, saying that lifting it would allow Tehran to acquire weapons that could fuel conflicts in the Middle East.

“Americans are trying to provide excuses to continue their maximum pressure on Iran, advance their malicious goals and to extend the arms embargo on Iran,” Mousavi said.

Relations between the longtime foes have worsened since 2018 when Trump abandoned an international accord under which Iran agreed to curb its nuclear work in return for the lifting of sanctions.

The United States has reimposed sanctions to throttle Iran’s oil trade and pressure Tehran to renegotiate the deal, give up its ballistic missiles, and cease its involvement in regional wars.

Iran Ordered to Pay $879 Million to Khobar Towers Bombing Survivors

It was nearly 10 p.m. on a Tuesday, Senior Airman William Christian Nevins was on the fifth floor of Building 131, where he lived while deployed to the Middle East in June 1996.

Fellow airmen were going about their weekday evenings, cleaning the kitchen, lounging on their couches, some sleeping.

Just outside the perimeter, a truck lumbered through Dhahran, Saudi Arabia to the main entrance of King Abdulaziz Air Base and was waved off. A terrorist bombing in Riyadh the previous year had raised the threat level but for most it was deployment as usual. But so far, all had been secure at the base, which housed the Khobar Towers.

The hundreds of Air Force and international coalition personnel were working on Operation Southern Watch, which launched shortly after the Persian Gulf War to provide a “no-fly zone” over southern Iraq, preventing dictator Saddam Hussein from attacking his own people or even pushing troops back into Kuwait.

The trial could make victims and their families eligible for compensation from a fund for terrorist victims.

The truck did not turn around and go home. Using two other vehicles as a spotter and getaway, the crew outside the gate found a parking perhaps 100 feet from the building where Nevins lived, a three-year investigation would later uncover.

Russian FM plugs book blaming downed Malaysian Jet on ‘Jewish Illuminati’

A spokeswoman for the Russian Foreign Ministry promoted a book featuring an antisemitic conspiracy theory in an official press conference last week.

Director of Information and Press for the Russian Foreign Ministry Maria Zakharova spoke to media on July 2 about the 2014 Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 (MH17) crash, in which the plane heading from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur was shot down over Ukraine by a Russian-produced Buk surface-to-air missile, killing all 283 passengers and 15 crew on board. A Dutch-led investigation held Russia responsible; Moscow says Ukraine is responsible for allowing civilian flights in a war zone.

Zakharova mentioned a book on the topic recently published in Malaysia, which she said indicates that Malaysians are “increasingly eager to form their own opinion about the crash,” free of Western biases and political motivations.

She added that Russian experts shared information with the author.

Russian aviation expert Vadim Lukashevich determined, based on Zakharova’s description, that the book is Membongkar Misteri Tragedi MH370 & MH 17: Angkara Yehudi Dajjal Illuminati by Syed Mahadzir and Syed Ibrahim. The title means “Uncovering the Mystery of Tragedy MH370 & MH 17: The Jewish Illuminati Antichrist’s Journey,” in Malay.

The book’s description on Malay e-commerce sites says, among other things: “Remember, the Illuminati Antichrist has taken over every step of our lives today.”

Asked if this was, indeed, the book Zakharova referred to, the Russian Foreign Ministry did not deny it, saying: “It is not our task to comment on the conclusions of the Malaysian author.

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