August 5, 2020

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07/10 Links Pt1: Jews aren’t indigenous to Israel? According to whom?; Do We Really Have to Read Beinart Again?; Danon: Obama’s Decision to ‘Abandon’ Israel Was Lowest Moment of UN Tenure

From Ian:

Jonathan S. Tobin: Jews aren’t indigenous to Israel? According to whom?
In this woke version of reality, humanity is divided into two groups: white oppressors and indigenous people of color straining under the yoke of white atrocities. And in delineating this stark division between the bad and the good, Jews must accept that they are among the former and irredeemably white. The only thing for them to do is to admit guilt and to struggle against the systemic racist system into which they assimilated into in the United States.

As The Forward noted in an article about the controversy stirred up by Rabbi Kahn, Israel’s Consul General to New York Dani Dayan, recently noted that both Jews and Palestinian Arabs are indigenous to Israel, and that peace will only happen when the latter finally recognize this fact rather than insisting that Jews have no sovereign rights in any part of the country. By lending support to the idea that Jews aren’t indigenous, Kahn is actually undermining chances of peace in the Middle East rather than promoting it.

The fact that the Jewish people are indigenous to the land of Israel, to which their ties date back thousands of years and were reaffirmed with continuous settlement, as well as prayers throughout the ages, is irrelevant to the woke. So is the fact that the majority of Israeli Jews are not white or European, but descended from people who were forced to flee their homes in the Arab and Muslim worlds after Israel’s creation in numbers that were greater than those Palestinian Arabs who fled Israel during the War of Independence. Yet as far as the rabbi is concerned, Jews who speak of being indigenous are stealing victim status that belongs only to Arabs and other people of color.

Perhaps Rabbi Kahn thinks the semantics here is important because the assertion of indigenous status distracts us from the sufferings of African-Americans or Palestinians. But his scolding of Jews for having the effrontery to claim ownership of this word has implications that go beyond his repellent pedantry and ideological inflexibility.

That’s because telling Jews they are not indigenous to Israel is akin to branding them imperialist colonizers in their ancient homeland. And once you step down that path you aren’t just virtue signaling your concern for the oppressed; you’re also implicitly declaring that Zionism and the existence of the one Jewish state on the planet are illegitimate.

The redefinition of words with plain meanings in order to weaponize them for ideological purposes is key to the Orwellian process by which the woke suppress not only free speech, but the rights of those they consider white oppressors. In effect, what Rabbi Andy is doing when he lectures us about “white Jewishness” and who can be considered indigenous is canceling the entire Jewish people.

The only possible response to such despicable wordplay is to refuse to play by woke rules. There can be no compromise with intersectional canceling. It’s time to make it clear to the self-righteous Rabbi Andys of American Jewish life that we won’t accept their lectures or their politicized language lying down. The alternative is to consent to a denial of Jewish rights whose ultimate purpose is the sort of tragedy that ought to horrify a nice young rabbi a lot more than how to define a word.

Melanie Phillips: Both hero and zero Israel’s strategic incoherence

While Israelis are increasingly alarmed by the government’s loss of control over the coronavirus crisis, different events suggest that the country may have pulled off a spectacular advance in the battle against another intractable foe.

Over the past couple of weeks, there has been a succession of mysterious explosions in Iran.

At the end of last month, there was a major explosion in the Khojir missile factory near Tehran and at a power plant in Shiraz, which plunged the city into darkness. There has also been an explosion at a Tehran clinic, and other major fires in power plants and a petrochemical factory.

The most significant event, however, was an explosion and fire last week at Iran’s centrifuge assembly plant in Natanz.

According to the former U.N. nuclear inspector David Albright, president of the Institute for Science and International Security in Washington D.C., this destroyed nearly three-quarters of Iran’s main centrifuge assembly hall.

No one has claimed responsibility for these events. But the explosions at Khojir and Natanz required the kind of sophisticated intelligence, coordination and operational skill that suggest the involvement of a foreign power. Many experts assume that, in these at least, Israel was a principal actor.

The two sites were important elements in Iran’s infrastructure of warfare against Israel and the west.

Khojir, which is said to have a network of underground tunnels, is suspected of involvement in the production of ballistic missiles. Intelligence experts agree that the explosion there seemed to be the result of an Israeli cyber-attack. The Kuwaiti newspaper al-Jarida, however, claimed that an airstrike by an Israeli F-35 stealth jet was involved.

The Natanz centrifuge hall, buried deep under concrete and enmeshed steel roof, was inaugurated in 2018 in order to make the advanced centrifuges needed to make an atomic bomb. Albright writes that it was thought to be Iran’s only clean-room operation set up for the mass
assembly of these centrifuges.

Do We Really Have to Read Beinart Again?

Beinart wrote, “The essence of Zionism is not a Jewish state in the land of Israel; it is a Jewish home in the land of Israel, a thriving Jewish society that both offers Jews refuge and enriches the entire Jewish world.”

He is wrong. For most practicing Zionists — who live here and decide what Zionism is — the essence is indeed a Jewish state. In Beinart’s imaginary world, substituting the Jewish State for a far-fetched idea of a Jewish home is not such a big deal. But it is.

Beinart writes that the urgent need for new ideas is based on the moral call to prevent the “ethnic cleansing” of Palestinians. He wrote, “Today, Israeli leaders find the status quo tolerable. But when Palestinian violence reveals that it is not, those leaders — having made separation impossible — could inch closer to policies of mass expulsion.”

Maybe. Probably not. We’ve managed a long time and with a lot of violence without resorting to ethnic cleansing. But even if you accept the necessity of Beinart’s warning, there is a much simpler way to prevent a catastrophe. Convince the Palestinians to refrain from the “violence” that could trigger “mass expulsion.”

Another problem is that a one-state solution does not preclude the option of ethnic cleansing. See Yugoslavia as an example.

On the plus side, what Beinart says is largely unimportant. He is not the first to propose a one-state solution, and probably won’t be the last. He will try to pitch his latest gimmick to a new generation of Jews (anyone for a book deal?). He will find some takers among radical American left-wingers. But where he gets it wrong again is that one of the main reasons Israeli Jews want a state is because they don’t wish to be the world’s pawns. Israel is armed to the teeth. It is savvy, tough and resilient. And if Beinart or any of his self-righteous friends want to take our state away, they can come for it. Let’s see how far they get.

The Jews of Privilege

They have come from everywhere, these Jews of Zionism—from Germany to Ethiopia to Poland to Morocco to France to Iraq to the former Soviet Union and a thousand other places. And most have come because their “equal rights” in those places proved nonexistent in the face of a millennia of hatred. In Israel, often for the first time in history, they are citizens with rights. And they enjoy those rights because, and only because, of Zionism.

Thankfully, I did not flee persecution when I came to Israel. I came out of love and a belief in the idea of the Jewish state. And it was only thanks to that state that I am what I am now. From the Israeli teachers, friends, and fellow students who helped me earn two degrees despite the struggle to learn Hebrew simultaneously; to my generous and forgiving landlord, who defines the word tzadik; to the Israeli writers, editors, and mentors who thought my voice was, or at least might be, important—it was only thanks to Jewish and, yes, Zionist solidarity, sympathy, and collective and individual loyalty that I was able to achieve anything. I needed Zionism, and it was there for me.

In his privilege, however, Peter Beinart believes he does not need Zionism. And in that same privilege, he cannot see these Jews of Zionism. He cannot see us, does not care about us, does not believe in us, and cannot love us. Instead, Beinart wants to liberate himself from us.

But there is something he does not know, but I think I do know: We are Zionists because we were not privileged. And in not being privileged, we needed each other. We needed the dignity and empowerment and the capacity for mutual aid and self-defense that only a state could give us.

Perhaps Beinart is right that he does not need what we need, but I doubt it. Equality is a fine thing, but for the Jews it has proved fleeting and conditional. If you’re good, Beinart says, you might be able to be equal to Palestinians in a shared state. If you’re bad, Beinart threatens, we will leave you at the mercy of a nationalist movement dedicated to your ethnic cleansing and a theo-Nazi movement dedicated to your genocide. And only we decide when you’re good.

What we Jews of Zionism know, however, is that in our return and redemption, we have rendered such judgments moot. In the contest of history, the racist argument has lost, and the Zionist argument has won. And against this reality, Jews of privilege like Beinart may struggle mightily, but it is unlikely they will be any different from those who so long ago howled to be returned to bondage in Egypt.

For we Jews of Zionism, our answer to them and to Beinart is a simple one. As one of us once said, “We do not have to apologize for anything. We are a people like all other peoples. We are what we are. We are good for ourselves. We will not change and we do not want to.”

Memory Malpractice

Simply put: There is only one way through this story of indefinite occupation and an enduring conflict, and it includes the validation of the story of the Jewish people, which includes its transformation by Zionism in the 20th century. Beinart makes light in the opening of his essay of those Jews whose Judaism is premised on pro-Israelism; I agree that this can become thin, and coercive. But it is not crazy to me that the single most transformative event of Jewish history since Yavne would have a lingering, commanding effect on many of us. We invalidate our own history and our own story at our peril, especially if we do so in order to validate the story of Palestinians.

This is a further irony: The counterhistory, the revolutionary turnabout that Beinart seeks, remedies the Jewish past and present in order to make room for the story of Palestinians, suggesting that the two—in their current and authentic forms—are irreconcilable! How can we envision a shared future for Israelis and Palestinians when we have to suppress and transform one in order to accommodate the other? Two states, for all their failings, grant each people a right to their story and a right to their destiny.

Beinart’s second-to-last paragraph is his truest. I believe deeply that our redemption as the Jewish people, and the integrity of our national story, cannot be complete with the continued oppression of the Palestinian people, the denial of their history and their future, and with the prevention of their redemption. But the only way forward is through our Zionism, and not in its flattening. We are the inheritors of a revolutionary moment of Jewish history, the third generation since Yavne. I am not prepared to allow today to be Yavne and in so doing to make 1948 into hurban for the Jewish people, as it was for Palestinians. Perhaps our best wisdom, still, is one of the key intellectual legacies of the sages of Yavne themselves: When two claim a garment, and both can validate their claims, and neither can be falsified: Let them bear witness, and let them divide it.

In Anti-Zionist Essay, Beinart Disses Mainstream Jews, Dispenses with Accuracy

There are other questions with no good answers. Beinart’s utopia, alas, would be in the real world. And like it or not, in the real Middle East there is an urgent need to consider the regional security situation – or to put it bluntly, to have an army. If the Jews were a minority in the state, or lived in some Autonomous Levantine Oblast within the state – two scenarios that Beinart envisions as possibilities – who would be in charge of the state’s army? Who would decide how hard the country should work to prevent, say, Iranian money from flowing to Islamic Jihad or other questionable Palestinian groups? Who would decide how to address threats from Hezbollah, or whether to respond to cross border attacks on Jewish towns? Would it be in the new country’s interest to defend its cold-peace partner to the east, the Kingdom of Jordan, in which more than half the population is believed to be Palestinian, from an internal Palestinian revolt? Or, rather, might those in charge prefer to help that revolt and scrap the current Jordanian regime?

There are countless other contingencies in which Beinart’s utopia would be sharply divided along ethnic lines. On such life-and-death questions, Beinart punts: Just trust me.

Beinart wants us to trust, too, that in his future utopia Hezbollah, Hamas, obscene levels of antisemitism in the Arab world, the fantasy of sending the Jews “back where they came from,” and other such inconveniences, might dry up under his regime.

But how is it that the same man who can breezily imagine such a utopia can’t also bring himself to imagine, for example, that the current array of Jewish settlements in the West Bank might not preclude a two-state solution? Or that a functioning Palestinian state on 95 percent of the West Bank, which he dismisses as impossible in his essay, is actually possible? Or that a Palestinian state with some limits to its sovereignty might work just as well for Palestinians as he envisions Jewish non-sovereignty working for Jews?

These are the scenarios that Beinart insists are non-starters. And the thought that Israel might insist on them, he explains, is what demanded his prophetic vision of a one-state solution. But those scenarios are no less realistic than the unitary state he prescribes. To the contrary, they are as easy to imagine as Mahmoud Abbas’s signature on the peace offer floated by Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.

It’s just that Peter Beinart doesn’t want to imagine it. And that’s because, although he insists his dream of wiping the Jewish state from the map is an authentically Zionist vision, those words are just a flimsy cover for the fact that he, unlike an overwhelming majority of Jews worldwide, is an anti-Zionist.

The Trump plan might actually be pro-Palestinian

The plan can also be regarded as a reflection or acknowledgment of reality, as it stands today. Perhaps this is one of the reasons it was met with such vehement resistance, from many directions. It set out clear and attainable goals for the Palestinians in order to achieve recognized statehood – their ultimate stated desire. These goals include – but are not limited to – freedom of the press, freedom of religion, transparency of government and the disarmament of terrorists and the recognition of the right of the State of Israel to exist.

The international community regularly condemns Israel for alleged moral offenses, but has thus far overlooked the premise that a Palestinian state seeks to be“judenrein.” This is a Nazi term used to describe a geographic location as cleansed from Jews.

It has overlooked the fact that Palestinian government officials are reportedly billionaires, while the Palestinian economy is on the brink of collapse, year after year. It has overlooked the fact that Abbas was elected to a four-year term 13 years ago, and that an entire generation of today’s children – tomorrow’s leaders – have been poisoned by toxic antisemitic rhetoric, not only preached by PA leadership and religious clergy, but ensconced in the textbooks used by every single Palestinian pupil. This double standard in expectation and application of
principles of law, morality and human rights undermines and weakens the Palestinian people and decreases the chance for a better future.

The possibility integral to this plan exposes and confronts displays of bigotry, moving beyond barely minimal expectations which have guided processes thus far. It recognizes that the Palestinians are capable of succeeding and stabilizing the region. A state, as contemplated by the vision for peace, if ever achieved, would allow the greatest opportunities for all people in the region, Israelis and Palestinians.

As we turn our attention to addressing urgent coronavirus-related matters and before the window of opportunity seals shut – in the interests of both Israelis and Palestinians and in the interests of peace – we should at least consider casting the personal aside. The potential paradigm shift inherent to the plan, places Israelis and Palestinians as two peoples with a shared desire and means of achieving it.

This is something on which peace-seeking individuals the world over might be able to agree. Herein lies the power if and when it can be seized. Herein lies the pity if and when it will be wasted.

Israel’s Netanyahu Rebuts Request From France’s Macron to Nix West Bank Annexation Plans

In a telephone call on Thursday, French President Emmanuel Macron asked Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to nix plans to annex parts of the West Bank.

Such a move, Macron told Netanyahu, would “contravene international law and jeopardize the possibility of a two-state solution as the basis of a fair and lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians.”

Macron also reiterated France’s “unfailing commitment” to Israel’s security and he expressed his “attachment to the friendship” between the two countries, a statement from Macron’s office said.

A statement from Netanyahu’s office noted the prime minister had “clarified” to Macron that Israel was “acting according to international law.”

Netanyahu was said to have “emphasized that the formulas of the past have led to 53 years of failure,” predicting that “a return to them will lead to additional failure.”

“Israel is prepared to hold peace negotiations on the basis of [US] President [Donald] Trump’s plan, which has new ideas that enable genuine progress,” the statement added. “It is the Palestinian refusal to conduct negotiations based on this plan and on the plans of the past that is preventing progress.”

Progressive pro-Israel groups back Senate amendment to ban US aid on annexation

A coalition of progressive pro-Israel groups in the United States announced its support Thursday for a proposed Senate amendment that would ban Israel from using US military aid to annex parts of the West Bank.

Eight member organizations of the Progressive Israel Network, an umbrella association of 10 liberal Zionist groups, argued that the measure would ensure American assistance is directed toward Israel’s security and not a deleterious action that would harm the prospects of peace.

“All those who value human rights and Israeli democracy, support a peaceful resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and want to see an end to decades of occupation should agree that it would be unacceptable for US tax dollars to help foot the bill for an act as extreme and destructive as unilateral annexation,” they said in a statement.

The signatories included the liberal Middle East advocacy groups J Street, the New Israel Fund, Americans for Peace Now, the rabbinic group T’ruah, and others.

Danon: Obama’s Decision to ‘Abandon’ Israel Was Lowest Moment of UN Tenure

Israel’s outgoing Ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon reflected on his last five years in office and plans for the future during his final press briefing on Tuesday.

Danon’s first move upon returning to Israel will be to visit his mother, who he has not seen in almost a year, he said.

Regarding the next step in his career, he shared advice that former US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley gave him, which is to take “time before making any commitments.”

So, he said, “I’m going to go back to Israel and enjoy it. Relax and take my time before making any decisions.”

“But for sure, I will stay involved; that is my nature,” he added. “For the last 20 years, I was involved in public life. [Now] I will be more vocal than I was in the UN because when I was in office, I had to represent the Israeli government always. Now when I become a private citizen, I will be able to speak openly and express my views, and actually promote my views like I used to do before I was in diplomacy.”

A former Knesset member from the Likud Party, he previously served as minister of science, technology and space, and as deputy minister of defense. Regional Cooperation Minister Gilad Erdan will replace Danon at the end of July. In January, Erdan will take over Ron Dermer’s position as Israel’s ambassador to the United States as well.

Danon noted that his “lowest moment in the last five years [was] the moment the US decided to abandon Israel” at the UN Security Council under the Obama administration, when it supported Resolution 2334 against Israel. He further accused the Obama administration of working behind the scenes to promote that resolution, which condemned Israel’s presence in Judea and Samaria, as well as eastern Jerusalem.

Nevertheless, the ambassador strongly feels that “no one can jeopardize the bond” between America and Israel.

Coronavirus: 16,651 active cases, 350 deaths

Closures will be imposed on neighborhoods across the country starting Friday afternoon, government ministers decided Thursday night, as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu admitted for the first time that Israel had reopened its economy too quickly after the first wave of the virus.

The closures went into effect in neighborhoods in Jerusalem, Beit Shemesh, Lod, Ramle and Kiryat Malachi starting today at 1 p.m. The closures will be in effect for a week.

On Thursday night, Netanyahu admitted that Israel had opened its economy too quickly after the first wave of the virus.

“Looking back, as part of trial and error, it can be said that this last step was premature,” the prime minister said. “Many urged us to do it, to open up the economy unhindered. This has not stopped these same people from asking us today, ‘Why did you open this way?’”

He said that Israel opened up “because we listened to your hardships and wanted to put as many of you back into the workforce as possible.”

The prime minister then encouraged the public to “wear masks. Studies show that when two people wear masks and stay two meters apart, the chance of getting infected is nil. So, I ask for your cooperation.”

Lockdowns begin in neighborhoods across Israel

The Israeli government imposed lockdowns on nearly a dozen neighborhoods in five different cities across the country Friday afternoon.

Beginning at 1:00 p.m. Friday, police sealed off neighborhoods in Jerusalem, Beit Shemesh, Lod, Ramle, and Kiryat Malachi.

The closures, which severely limit movement into and out of the affected neighborhoods, is set to last one week, ending next Friday at 8:00 a.m. Business operation will also be severely limited in the affected areas.

The affected neighborhoods include the Romema, Kiryat Sanz, Belz, and Mattersdorf neighborhoods in Jerusalem; the neighborhoods of Nahala V’Menucha and Kaneh HaBossem in Beit Shemesh; Lod’s Ganei Ya’ar and Sach neighorhoods; the Amidar-Bilu neighborhood in Ramle; and the Ahuzat Rotner and Chabad neighborhoods in Kiryat Malachi.

In addition, the partial restrictions on three Lod neighborhoods – Harakevet, Shanir, and Neve Shalom – will be extended for five extra days, ending on Wednesday at 8:00 a.m.

Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Leon criticized the decision to impose lockdowns on parts of the capital, saying the “solution to the coronavirus pandemic is to isolate the sick people.”

“But the minute you impose a lockdown, it causes mass infection. These people will go out and infect whoever is in the neighborhood.”

Isaac Herzog: 2,200 Jews Died of Coronavirus in Countries Other Than US, Russia

Jewish Agency for Israel Chairman Isaac Herzog on Wednesday told Jewish leaders from abroad that the coronavirus has claimed the lives of some 2,200 Diaspora Jews, not counting those from the United States and Russia—the two countries with the largest Jewish populations after Israel.

In an online briefing, Herzog said that the Jewish Agency has distributed some $10 million in interest-free loans to organizations in 23 countries whose Jewish communities were hit particularly hard financially as a result of COVID-19 lockdowns.

Two days earlier, Herzog discussed other effects of the pandemic in a meeting of the Knesset Committee for Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Affairs, estimating that 250,000 Jews will immigrate to Israel within the next three to five years.

“This is a historic challenge that must be taken advantage of, and the government must understand the importance of the hour and prepare a national plan to absorb this wave,” Herzog told the Committee on Monday, adding that the number of people who have contacted the Jewish Agency about aliyah from English-speaking countries has increased by 50 percent, and by 70 percent from French-speaking nations.

NY ultra-Orthodox are acting like they have herd immunity. Could they be right?

The front page of the June 26 issue of Der Yid, one of the most widely circulated Yiddish newspapers among New York’s ultra-Orthodox communities, made the point loud and clear.

“And so it was after the plague.”

Those words, lifted from a verse in the Torah and printed alongside photos of large gatherings of unmasked ultra-Orthodox men, had a clear implication: After months of funerals and fear, the modern-day pandemic had passed and the time had come to gather again.

That sentiment appears to be guiding life in Brooklyn’s ultra-Orthodox communities, where nearly four months after the virus first arrived, synagogues and camps are open, religious schools resumed classes before closing for summer break and wedding halls are packed again, sometimes in violation of city and state rules designed to slow the spread of disease.

Continued gatherings of ultra-Orthodox Jews drew criticism from New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and others in the city this spring who said the communities were not doing their part to stop the spread of the virus. But inside the communities, the overwhelming perception is that most people have had the virus and may now be immune.

“That’s the feeling, that they’ve had it, everybody they know has had it, and the people they know who haven’t had it have some kind of immunity that we just don’t understand yet,” one Williamsburg health administrator said.

If community members’ assumptions are correct — and that’s a big if, as much is not yet known about whether and how COVID-19 infections provide later immunity — Brooklyn’s Jewish neighborhoods would stand alone. Even in the few places, such as Sweden, that have explicitly pursued a strategy of trying to reach herd immunity, antibody tests show that most of the population there has not yet been infected.

Foreign diplomats tour northern border as Israel urges greater powers for UNIFIL

The Israeli military and the Foreign Ministry on Friday hosted 12 foreign diplomats and ambassadors on a tour of the northern border, as Israel seeks to build international support for an expanded mandate for the United Nations’ peacekeeping mission in southern Lebanon.

The UN Security Council renews the mandate of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon, or UNIFIL, on an annual basis, with the next renewal set to take place at the end of August.

In a joint statement, the army and Foreign Ministry said the diplomats were given briefings by top military brass, including the commander of the division responsible for the Lebanese border, as well as officials responsible for ties with international forces. They also toured a tunnel dug beneath the border by the Hezbollah terror group for offensive purposes and uncovered during last year’s Operation Northern Shield.

The statement did not name the diplomats but said they came from countries with influence at the UN and those who contribute to the force. Among the diplomats on the tour were ambassadors from France, Italy and Ghana.

Currently, the force comprises members from 41 countries and is led by Irish Major General Michael Beary.

IDF arrests 3 suspects attempting to cross border from Lebanon

The Israeli military arrested three suspects attempting to cross Israel’s border from Lebanon overnight Thursday-Friday.

The incident did not appear to be related to terror.

“A short time ago, IDF lookouts identified three suspects who tried to cross the fence on the Lebanon border. The suspects were identified and monitored by forces that arrived on the scene immediately,” the Israel Defense Forces said in a statement.

“The suspects were arrested and questioned in the field. The IDF will continue to act to prevent every attempt to cross the border and violate Israeli sovereignty,” the statement said.

The Ynet news site reported that the suspects were Sudanese nationals seeking work.

The IDF in recent months has seen a spate of attempts by African migrants attempting to cross the frontier.

The migrants appear to be coming to the Jewish state in search of work in light of the ongoing Lebanese economic crisis, which has left many of the country’s foreign workers unemployed or underpaid.

Hundreds gather for funeral of Palestinian shot by Israeli troops

Hundreds of people gathered in the West Bank on Friday for the funeral of Palestinian man Ibraheem Yakoub, who was allegedly shot by IDF Home Front Command soldiers a day earlier.

A spokesperson for the IDF said on Thursday that Home Front Command trrops opened fire after the Palestinian and another man started throwing fire bombs at a guard post near the settlement of Ariel.

Rescuers Without Borders (formerly Hatzalah) Judea and Samaria reported after the incident that one Palestinian had been shot in the leg and received treatment from emergency crews, but said the other suspect had escaped.

Palestinian officials dismissed the report and said the man had been walking with friends when he was shot dead.

People at the funeral in the village of Salfit carried Palestinian flags and chanted “Allahu Akbar”, or God is greatest.

Tensions have been high in the West Bank in recent weeks as Israel weighs a plan to annex part of the territory that Palestinians seek for a future state.

Turkey: How Erdogan’s Migrant Blackmail Failed

On February 27, Erdogan’s government was on the threshold of executing its threat to flood Europe with millions of (mostly Syrian) migrants … Hundreds of thousands of migrants began flocking to the border. By the next day, Greece was not only operating 52 Navy ships to guard its islands close to Turkey; it had also mobilized additional troops on land. Its security forces were able to block 10,000 migrants from entering Greece by way of the Turkish land border.

The new blackmail will not work for a number of reasons. First, because many migrants in Turkey have learned from experience that the Turkish-Greek border can no longer easily be crossed. And second, because the Greek security forces are now better equipped and better prepared to confront a new wave of migrants.

Turkey’s president formally makes Hagia Sophia a mosque

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Friday formally reconverted Istanbul’s sixth-century iconic Hagia Sophia into a mosque and declared it open to Muslim worship, hours after a high court annulled a 1934 decision that had turned it into a museum.

The decision to reconvert Hagia Sophia — a former cathedral that was turned into a mosque after Istanbul’s conquest by the Ottoman Empire and had served as a museum for 86 years — sparked deep dismay among Orthodox Christians.

But there was jubilation outside Hagia Sophia. Dozens of people who awaited the court’s ruling outside chanted “Allah is great!” when the news came out.

Turkey’s high administrative court threw its weight behind a petition brought by a religious group and annulled the 1934 Cabinet decision that turned the site into a museum. Within hours, Erdogan signed a decree handing over Hagia Sophia to Turkey’s Religious Affairs Presidency.

Erdogan has demanded that the the hugely symbolic world heritage site should be turned back into a mosque despite widespread international criticism, including from the United States and Orthodox Christian leaders. The move could also deepen tensions with neighboring Greece.

Cypriot Foreign Minister Nikos Christodoulides, a Greek Cypriot, posted on his official Twitter account that Cyprus “strongly condemns Turkey’s actions on Hagia Sophia in its effort to distract domestic opinion and calls on Turkey to respect its international obligations.”

ADL to Pompeo: designate Hezbollah as concern for int’l religious freedom

Ahead of the 26th anniversary of Hezbollah’s AMIA bombing, the Anti-Defamation League sent a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, urging him to designate Hezbollah as an Entity of Particular Concern for International Religious Freedom, “due to its ongoing efforts to destroy Israel and target Jewish communities.”

Eighty-five people were murdered, and hundreds were injured in the suicide bomb attack on the Argentine Israelite Mutual Association building in Buenos Aires on July 18, 1994. “Hezbollah is notoriously responsible for the single worst attack in recent decades against a Jewish communal institution anywhere in the world,” the letter reads.

Sharon Nazarian, ADL’s senior vice president for International Affairs, wrote Pompeo that not a single one of Iran’s terrorist proxies has been added yet to this list. “We write to encourage you to designate Hezbollah as an Entity of Particular Concern under the Frank Wolf International Religious Freedom Act,” she wrote.

The letter indicates that Christians comprised approximately 59% of Lebanon’s population in 1932, but by last year this figure fell to an estimated 31%. “In recent decades, one major factor driving the disproportionate emigration of Christians from Lebanon has no doubt been Hezbollah’s violent and intolerant agenda.”

How have Iran’s intelligence forces broken down in face of explosions?

What the world is witnessing right now is someone – the United States, Israel or Saudi Arabia, possibly with Iranian dissident proxy help – hitting Iranian nuclear and conventional weapons and IRGC facilities practically at will. And they are doing it in a way that has virtually never been witnessed in recent memory.

The IRGC has had more than two weeks to root out the cell or cells that are making this happen and has gotten nowhere.

It is almost like the intelligence forces making these attacks happen are playing three-dimensional chess and the IRGC is playing only checkers.

Former cyber intelligence officials from the US and Israel have talked to The Jerusalem Post about the power of potential cyberattacks on Iran.

To the extent that these are cyberattacks, it might be more understandable that Tehran has caught no one and stopped nothing. Explosions perpetrated through a cyberattack could have been arranged months or even years ago to be activated now.

But even in the cyber arena, US and Israeli officials have been warning that after the 2010 Stuxnet attack, the regime heavily improved as a cyber power.

However, what we appear to be witnessing are the limits of a second-tier counterintelligence force. Up against a premier intelligence or cyber power, Iran is apparently close to being defenseless.

The questions remaining then, are how long these attacks can continue and whether Iran can cope with them or try to make some sort of secret contact to cut a deal to get them stopped.

If it does not, the message from whoever is making this happen is clear: Continued aggressive actions on nuclear and other fronts will lead to consequences that the ayatollahs had never imagined.

Multiple attacks on Iran by unseen adversary send clear warning to regime

Why now? There are a number of possible reasons. It could be connected to accelerated work the Iranians are doing on their nuclear program, justifying their violations of the JCPOA by saying that the US withdrew from the accord, and the Europeans have not done enough to bypass the American sanctions.

It could be connected to the upcoming UN vote on whether – as the Americans want – the arms embargo clamped on the country should continue. Since the Iranians are so keen on getting this embargo lifted, they may mute any possible response to small-bore attacks on their homeland in order to deprive countries in the UN of a justification to extend the embargo.

And it could all be connected to the remaining window of opportunity to act before the US presidential elections in November. The Iranians are waiting anxiously for November, hoping US President Donald Trump is not reelected, and that Joe Biden – who has said he would like to get back into a nuclear deal with Iran – comes into office.

The Iranians at this time would not be served by a large-scale military response, since that would force Biden to take a more hawkish position toward the Islamic Republic than perhaps he would be naturally inclined.

Whoever is behind the recent attacks in Iran seems to be working on the assumption that – at least for the time being – Iran’s hands are tied. A clear signal is also being sent that even with all the other dangers currently facing humanity, to allow the Iranians to march forward with their nuclear ambitions would be utter folly that would make the current threats facing the world seem minor in comparison.

Iran sought illegal goods for nuke program – German federal intel

Iran’s regime made efforts to secure illicit goods for its nuclear program, adding new urgency to the crisis surrounding Tehran’s alleged atomic weapons activity, the domestic intelligence service of the Federal Republic of Germany disclosed in its new report on Thursday.

According to the intelligence document reviewed by The Jerusalem Post, “In 2019, the BfV [federal domestic intelligence service] was only able to find occasional indications of Iranian proliferation-related procurement attempts for its nuclear program. Such indications arise when the methodological approach to the procurement of goods, [and] their application also in a nuclear program and/or available knowledge about the final recipient respectively to the inquiring point indicate a potential procurement background relevant to proliferation.”

The report, however, said that “as far as a verification of these indications was possible, they did not provide any evidence of a violation of the JCPOA in Germany.”

Man executed for drinking alcohol is one of 123 executions in Iran in 2020

Iran has executed a prisoner for the crime of drinking alcohol despite repeated warnings against it. His death is one of 123 executions carried out by the Iranian regime in the first six months of this year.

The unnamed prisoner was executed in Mashhad Central Prison at dawn on July 9, having been sentenced to death for “drinking alcohol for the sixth time,” according to the NGO Iran Human Rights (IHR).

Iran implements a legal system based on Islamic Sharia law and carries out ‘hadud’ punishments – those mandated by God in accordance with the Quran. Consequently, the Islamic Penal Code currently states: “Where anyone commits the same offense punishable by hadd (singular of hadud) three times, and each time the hadd punishment is executed upon him/her, the hadd punishment on the fourth occasion shall be the death penalty.”

Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam, director of IHR said: “with this execution, the Islamic Republic’s judicial system has once again proven that its views are no different from those of ISIS.”

Saudi Arabia Celebrates Pride Month by Hanging Gays with Rainbow Noose (satire)

Calling it a momentous step towards recognition of the LGBTQ+ community, Saudi Arabia announced that all homosexuals executed during pride month would be hung from a rainbow noose or beheaded with a rainbow-colored ax.

Though human rights activists said much further process remains necessary, the announcement marks a major step forward for gay equality in the kingdom.

“We have a thriving gay community here in Saudi Arabia, and this is our way of recognizing and celebrating it,” Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman told The Mideast Beast.

Though gay citizens face oppression throughout the region, many Middle Eastern regimes have marked Pride Month by incorporating the rainbow flag. Even ISIS has released a rainbow version of its classic black-and-white emblem.

“We certainly believe that homosexuality betrays the will of Allah and will immediately put to death anyone we suspect of being gay,” ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi explained. “At the same time, we felt that completely ignoring pride month and not changing our logo to a rainbow would be perceived as a bit too aggressive.”

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