HonestReporting: What’s in a Name? The Origins of Judea, Philistia, Palestine and Israel
The land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea has been inhabited for millennia, this much is indisputable. Jericho, Jerusalem, Jenin, and Jaffa are all some of the oldest cities in the world, having been continuously settled since before 2000 BCE.
However, just about everything else about this land is contentious, right down to the name. Palestinian historians such as Nur Masalha and key members of the Palestinian leadership as high as Mahmoud Abbas have claimed that the Palestinians are descendants of ancient peoples such as the Canaanites and Philistines, and that it is from this connection that the name “Palestine” is derived.
Bearing in mind that nationalism as we understand it is in and of itself a 19th-century phenomenon, it’s worth asking if the Palestinian claims are true.
Did the name Palestine come from the people, or did the people take their name from the place?
There are two primary sources for the region which is variously known today as Israel, Palestine, the Levant, and Canaan: archaeology and the Bible. While there are differences between the two, archaeologists and historians agree that the general narrative of the Bible is correct: Canaanites ruled the Levant before being pushed out by the ancient Hebrews, who then fought with the Philistines until invading empires conquered both tribes.
The name “Palestine” first appeared in Herodotus’ 5th century BCE histories to describe the coastal area of the Levant where the Philistines lived, before Romans applied it to the whole of the area following the suppression of the Bar Kochba Revolt of 132 CE. Thereafter, the word Palestine applied to the whole of the land, and subsequent rulers identified it as such.
Welcome to the wounded world of George Orwell’s Winston Smith: “War is peace, freedom is slavery, ignorance is strength.” Add to this – “Jesus was a Palestinian.” This Palestinian Jesus is a distant cousin of Nazi Germany’s Aryan Jesus. I never believed Jesus was my savior. He was a failed messiah. I respect Christians for their beliefs. But Jesus was born a Jew, was circumcised on the eighth day after his birth, lived and preached as a Jew in the Galilee, and was executed by Rome as a Jewish rebel. Those who deny that Jesus was a Jew are engaged in “Land of Israel Denial.” These are the same folks who erase from the history books the Hebrew Bible, the Merneptah Stela, Jerusalem’s City of David, the Tel Dan inscription, the Shalmanesser III Obelisk, the stela of Mesha the Moabite, the Hasmonean coins, the Western Wall, the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Bar-Kochba letters, the Beit Alpha synagogue mosaic, the Mishna, the Midrash, the paytan cantorial poets. And of course, the clay stamp of Baruch ben Neriyah. Deny the Holocaust. Deny the ancient origin of our people in Eretz Yisrael. Deny Jewish history. Deny literary and archaeological evidence. Deny history and prostitute it to ideology.
Add to Orwell’s newspeak: Zionism is imperialism. This lie equates Jews fleeing the pogroms and poverty from the Russian Pale of Settlement with the colonial ambitions of great empires in India, the Congo, and Algeria. I am not the descendant of Khazars whose elite converted to Judaism in the eighth century. This is yet another lie that epitomizes “Eretz Yisrael Denial.” The overwhelming proof from the Bible, historical scholarship, and archaeology is that the origin point of the Jews is the Land of Israel. Ben-Tekoa writes: “The re-birth of the Jewish commonwealth is a direct slap in the face to Islam’s plagiarized image as Allah’s chosen people who are destined to rule the world – versus the millions of Christians whose faith has survived and even been energized by the return of the Jews to their common bible’s promised land. Under Islam, by contrast, the existence of Israel is a mortal threat to the very existence of Islamic belief.” Ben-Tekoa’s most interesting theme is the role that the Algerian war to throw out the colonial French only a few years before the emergence of the PLO and al-Fatah played a central role in transforming a Muslim struggle to destroy the Jews into the rebellion of a Palestinian nation against Zionist occupiers. This is not about a 100-year political struggle between two nations. It is grounded in religion and history dating back 1,400 years.
My given name includes the title of the chief deity of the ancient Canaanites, a name that was transformed into one of those of the God of Israel. The relationship between Canaanite culture and religion and that of ancient Israelite religion and culture is still being debated. But the point is moot. If the Canaanites are, indeed, the original denizens of the Land of Canaan – that was thousands of years ago and does not reflect today’s reality. My name says more about “indigenous peoples” than any propaganda spewed at the UN. How many more lies will the world embrace? This attack on the Jewish people – on the reality of the existence of Jeremiah and his scribe Baruch ben Neriyah – is the product of a false narrative that is worthy of George Orwell’s ministry of truth.
HonestReporting: Do Arab Israelis Really Suffer From Apartheid?
The Cambridge Dictionary defines apartheid as “a political system in which people of different races are separated.” Oxford defines it as “a policy of system of segregation on grounds of race.” Two dictionaries specifically relate this word to South Africa. Merriam-Webster defines “apartheid” as “racial segregation specifically: a former policy of segregation and political and economic discrimination against non-European groups in the Republic of South Africa.” The Collins dictionary says, “apartheid was a political system in South Africa in which people were divided into racial groups and kept apart by law.”
Arabs make up about 20 percent of Israel’s population. A simple study of the Israeli political situation shows that Arab Israelis hold positions in the highest levels of legislative branch (the Knesset), the executive branch (the Israeli cabinet) and the judicial branch (the Supreme Court) something which could not happen in an apartheid society.
The only legal distinction between Jews and Arabs is that Arabs are not required to serve in the Israel Defense Forces. This policy came from David Ben Gurion’s decision not to put Arab Israelis in a position of having to fight fellow Arabs. Volunteers are accepted, and the number of Arab Israelis in the IDF is growing modestly. One can read about people like the IDF’s highest ranking Arab officer, the mostly-Arab Desert Reconnaissance Battallion (a.k.a. Gadsar), an observant Muslim woman serving in an infantry battalion, as well as Arab Christian soldiers. Six Arab Israelis have even received the IDF’s highest decoration, the Medal of Distinguished Service.
Jonathan S. Tobin: How anti-Zionists legitimize anti-Semitism
Seen clearly then, there is no doubt that those whose discourse about Israel is anchored in a movement to destroy it – and to demonize its people and Diaspora Jewish supporters on college campuses or anywhere else – are not merely criticizing its government or speaking out in favor of peace, but engaging in a form of hate that is inherently anti-Semitic.
We must proceed from that unavoidable conclusion to state that it must be the policy of the US government and decent people everywhere to oppose anti-Semitic agitation and violence, whether it labels itself anti-Zionist or some other set of ideas that masquerades as progressive but is actually practicing one of the oldest forms of hatred.
This now happens routinely on college campuses in the form of institutionalizing anti-Zionist hate in curricula and by universities treating anti-Jewish hate speech as normal or acceptable discourse, as well as by marginalizing and silencing Jewish students.
But it has become possible because anti-Zionism is merely anti-Semitism operating under a new false front. Those who deny this aren’t merely putting forward a controversial point of view. They are spreading a big lie. And so, it is imperative that we not only use this summit as a springboard for action against a noxious form of hatred and its troubling reappearance within the life spans of survivors of the Holocaust but also deny its adherents the cloak of legitimacy with which they seek to clothe themselves.
The Trump administration is working on multiple fronts to investigate and combat a rising tide of anti-Semitism in America that top officials warned is spreading across the country via a network of far left, anti-Israel activists, who seek to mainstream hatred against Jews at the nation’s college campuses and elsewhere.
During a daylong conference, the first of its kind for this administration, senior administration officials from across the government gathered with legal experts and scholars to address the growing threat of anti-Semitism, which has resurged in America and across the globe in recent years.
The forum comes amid disclosures by the FBI that hate crimes in the U.S. have risen steadily since 2014, with anti-Jewish hate crimes consistently comprising more than half of totals for each year.
Organized by the Justice Department, senior Trump administration officials from the Education, Treasury, and State Departments joined together to discuss a range of actions the government is taking to prevent federal dollars from being spent on college programs that seek to mainstream anti-Israel ideologies.
US Attorney General William Barr called anti-Semitism a “cancer” at a Department of Justice summit on the topic notable for its focus on anti-Israel activity and for speeches by the top leaders of the departments of Education and the Treasury and the FBI.
Monday’s Summit on Combating Anti-Semitism, held at the DOJ headquarters here, featured panel discussions and an audience of about 150, mostly men representing various Jewish organizations and government agencies that deal with some aspect of hate crimes and civil rights.
The conference was bracketed by speeches by Barr and three other top officials of the Trump administration: Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, Secretary of the Treasury Steve Mnuchin and FBI Director Christopher Wray.
Elan Carr, the State Department’s Special Envoy for Monitoring and Combating anti-Semitism, said the lineup was a sign of how seriously the administration is taking what he called a “time of striking growth in anti-Semitism around the globe.” He said that growth extends from Europe to the United States, “where vandalism in New York and other cities, according to the Anti-Defamation League, occurs on a fairly regular basis, and campuses have become hostile places for Jewish and pro-Israel students.”
Attorney General William Barr condemned the spread of anti-Semitism on Monday, comparing hatred against Jews to a form of metastasizing cancer.
“A healthy body with a strong immune system can have success in preventing cancer from emerging or spreading, but if the immune system weakens, cancer can emerge,” Barr told the crowd while speaking at the Department of Justice’s summit on anti-Semitism. “Some might be localized, but others can rapidly metastasize and become systemic. Just like the physical body, a body politic must have an immune system that resists anti-Semitism and other forms of racial hatred.”
“What is the state of our immune system within American society?” he continued. “In a pluralistic society like ours, I think the ability to resist hate comes from cultivating a civil society that on the one hand nurtures the freedom of each group to pursue their faith and distinctive way of life, while at the same time fostering the ties that bind us together into a genuine broader community.”
US Sens. Cory Booker and Kirsten Gillibrand, and former US Vice President Joe Biden, have said that if elected president in 2020, each of them would keep the US Embassy in Israel in Jerusalem, despite criticizing US President Donald Trump for making the move in May 2018.
The three gave their answers to Axios.
They join another five Democratic candidates who have expressed opposition to moving the embassy out of Jerusalem: former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Montana Gov. Steve Bullock, Marianne Williamson, and South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg.
“Vice President Biden would not move the American embassy back to Tel Aviv,” said a campaign spokesperson.
“But he would re-open our consulate in East[ern] Jerusalem to engage the Palestinians.”
Newman, a “fellow” with the organization, released a statement following his interaction with Biden that condemned the Obama administration, “during which Israel’s decades-long military occupation became more permanent than ever.” He also accused Biden of playing a “key role” in allowing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to “launch assaults on Gaza.”
Biden grew heated again on Saturday when confronted in New Hampshire by Sarah Kate Feferman, replying “yes” when asked if he would pressure the Israeli government but adding that the Palestinian government needed to “stop the hate” and “stop calling for violence.”
Palestinian leadership turned down “95 percent” of what it had asked for, Biden said, and had “poked them in the eye.”
“It takes two to do this,” Biden said, recounting a story of telling Netanyahu, “I love you but I don’t agree with a damned thing you say.”
Feferman accused Biden of “paying lip service” to a two-state solution. Biden, who removed his sunglasses and jabbed his finger as he made his points, took umbrage to that notion.
Democratic presidential candidate Cory Booker told an anti-Israel activist who confronted him at a campaign event over the weekend, “I would understand if you want to support somebody else.”
Booker was approached by an activist from the progressive Jewish group IfNotNow, who said to the candidate, “It’s been really difficult and painful to understand, as you’re speaking out against mass incarceration, how the imprisonment of Palestinian children, thousands of them in military prisons, is something that you could ever be ok with.”
Booker replied, “So, I’m sorry that you think I’m ok with that, which I’m not, and I will continue to do everything I can to address this issue. We may not agree on strategies but…”
The activist interrupted, asking, “So do you think the occupation is a human rights crisis?”
“You’re not gonna get me to address that question as you want and I know that that’s a question that you’ve been asking every presidential candidate,” Booker said. “But I’m working on this issue, probably more than any other foreign policy issue.”
The US House of Representatives passed a resolution on Wednesday commemorating the 1994 AMIA Jewish Center bombing in Buenos Aires, Argentina, demanding those responsible for the attack be brought to justice after a 25-year-long delay.
The joint resolution was introduced by Congressman Ted Deutch, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Middle East, North Africa and International Terrorism; Congressman Joe Wilson, ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Middle East, North Africa and International Terrorism; Congressman Albio Sires, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere, Civilian Security and Trade; and Congressman Francis Rooney, ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere, Civilian Security and Trade.
“Mister Speaker, I rise today to honor the victims of the 1994 terror attack on the AMIA Jewish Community Center in Buenos Aires. On July 18th, 1994 a terrorist detonated a car bomb into the AMIA building, a Jewish Community Center in Buenos Aires – an important part, a central part, of that community,” Deutch stated. “It killed 85 innocent people and injured hundreds more. This attack, which took place just two years after the bombing of the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires, shook the Argentine Jewish community, the largest in Latin America.
“In the 25 years since the attack, the investigations into the AMIA bombing have been marked by long delays and by judicial misconduct, failing thus far to bring justice for the victims, their families, and their community. Considerable evidence has linked this heinous attack to the terrorist group Hezbollah and its sponsor the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran.
“It is reported that considerable evidence links the attack to the terrorist group Hezbollah, which is based in Lebanon, supported by the Government of the Syrian Arab Republic, and sponsored by the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran,” said a House of Representatives statement. “Whereas the 25 years since the bombing have been marked by a failure to bring those responsible, including Iranian officials and their Hezbollah proxies, to justice.”
Former Peace Now chair and one-time Meretz party leadership candidate Avi Buskila announced Sunday that he is joining the newly formed Israel Democratic Party headed by Ehud Barak.
“I am excited and proud to join the struggle to save Israeli democracy. This is no longer an election campaign, but a fateful choice over the vision of the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state,” Buskila said in a statement.
“These days, as [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu and his emissaries continue to tear Israeli society apart, we offer another way, a way of working together and reuniting Israeli society,” he added.
Before being appointed Peace Now director-general in October 2016, Buskila, who is openly gay, worked as an advertising executive specializing in the LGBTQ community and made a name for himself as a prominent social activist. He stepped down as head of Peace Now in order to run for the Meretz leadership in 2018, but was trounced by rival by MK Tamar Zandberg, who has since lost the position to Nitzan Horowitz.
Barak, who formed his new party last month, has been pushing for cooperation among center-left parties to defeat Netanyahu in the September 17 elections.
However, over the weekend senior officials in the Labor and Meretz parties said that new of Barak’s ties to Jeffrey Epstein, a US financier suspected in a sex trafficking scandal, have significantly lowered their parties’ chances of merging with the IDP.
Jerusalem’s Elite Defenders Against Terror
Like their counterparts in Eilat, these Israeli operatives roam the streets of Jerusalem on motorcycles, ready to counter any terror or security threat they face. Our Diana Skaya and Matthias Inbar have the story.
“May Allah reward them,” said Fatah official Abbas Zaki when he honored the family of Omar Abu Laila – murderer of 2 – with a visit last week.
In March this year, 19-year-old Omar Abu Laila stabbed and murdered Israeli soldier Gal Keidan and shot and murdered Rabbi Achiad Ettinger, a father of 12. Abu Laila was later killed during an exchange of gunfire with Israeli soldiers when they attempted to arrest him.
This is the murderer who the PA turned from an unknown teenager into a Palestinian symbol – in just two weeks – as documented by Palestinian Media Watch. Since then, the PA and Fatah have honored this murderer immensely, and called him a “heroic Martyr,” “more honorable than all of us,” and “the perfect person.” They have even named a street, a square, and a mosque after him.
Abbas Zaki’s recent visit to the family is just one more expression of the official Palestinian admiration for this murderer. Furthermore, Zaki repeated the PA and Fatah’s support for all other Palestinian terrorists and murderers when he stressed that “all forms of aid to the families of the Martyrs, the wounded, and the prisoners” will be provided.
The Palestinian Authority on Monday criticized outgoing British Prime Minister Theresa May for not recognizing a Palestinian state, saying the decision could prove “lethal” to peace prospects with Israel.
Husam Zomlot, the Palestinian envoy in London, commended May in a tweet for “her positions on Jerusalem, illegality of settlements & UNRWA.”
But he said her refusal to recognize Palestinian statehood “might prove lethal to the prospects of the two-state solution.”
May has stepped up financial support for UNRWA, the UN agency for Palestinian refugees and their descendants, after the United States last year cut off its roughly $300 million annual donation, with administration officials arguing the agency has run its course.
Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court Judge David Gabbay on Tuesday ruled that the trial of Ta’ayush and B’Tselem activist Ezra Nawi will continue, rejecting the petition submitted by attorney Leah Tsemel and Nawi’s defense team requesting the court to dismiss the indictment against their client.
Nawi, who in 1995 was convicted of statutory rape of a 15-year-old Arab boy and sentenced to six months in jail, is accused of providing information on several occasions to the Palestinian Authority Preventive Security forces against PA Arabs who participated in land transactions in the South Hebron Hills.
In 2008, the Negotiations Affairs Department of the State of Palestine (PLO-NAD) declared that all transactions transferring land to Israelis and other foreigners violate international law and are null and void, and Palestinian Authority courts can impose death sentences in these cases.
In April 2012, Mohammad Abu Shahala, a former PA intelligence officer, was reportedly sentenced to death for selling land to Jews. In June 2012, Osama Hussein Mansour, a retired Palestinian security officer, was arrested by the PA on charges of being involved in land transactions with Israelis. He died in July after falling from a window while being held in Palestinian custody.
Britain-Based Palestinian Academic Dr. Azzam Al-Tamimi: Al-Aqsa is the Most Free Mosque in the Islamic World pic.twitter.com/LjucTicYxu
— MEMRI (@MEMRIReports) July 16, 2019
MEMRI: S-400 Delivery To Turkey – AKP Mouthpiece Yeni Safak Columnist: We Must Avoid Rendering Turkey Dependent On Russia, Moscow Cannot Act Independently From The Jewish Forces And May Push Us Into A Trap
On July 12, 2019, deliveries of Russian S-400 missile defense systems to Turkey began. Turkish writer Yusuf Kaplan commented on the delivery in the Turkish daily newspaper Yeni Safak, known for its hardline support of the ruling AKP Party, that the acquisition of the S-400 systems represents an important step in Turkey’s fight for independence and its future.
Kaplan also added that Turkey must make strategic agreements with Russia and develop cooperation security projects to balance the “sinister” relations Turkey established with the U.S. and EU countries. However, Kaplan also warned the Turkish government to avoid taking steps that will render Turkey overly dependent on Russia.
According to Kaplan, Russia cannot act independently of Israel and the “Jewish forces” and following the directives of the “lords of the global system” that Turkey is challenging may ensnare Turkey at any moment.
Below is Kaplan’s article:
We Must Make Strategic Agreements With Russia To Balance The Sinister Relations We Established With The U.S. And EU Countries
“At a time when discussions such as, ‘Has it arrived, is it going to come or not, pigs will fly if they do,’ have escalated, the S-400s started to arrive following President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s firm and determined statement, ‘I am not saying the S-400s will be bought, I am saying they have already been purchased.’
“May it be for the best. May God multiply our power and protect our country!
“This may be considered as an important step in Turkey’s fight for independence and the future.
Turkey’s political leadership is ecstatic amid it’s growing alliance with Russia and its spurning of the US by acquiring the Russian S-400 air defense system. Speaking symbolically on the third anniversary of the 2016 attempted coup against him, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that eight planes had landed with parts of the S-400 and that, with “God’s permission, they will have been installed in their sites by April 2020.”
But why does it take so long to deliver, unpack and deploy the system? There are already two launchers, a crane and other vehicles deployed with the shipments on the planes. The system also includes radars and warheads, and will require training to use it. But Turkish personnel were already supposed to have been in Russia since the end of May to learn about the system.
The trickle of details as to why it is taking so long may not just be due to the fact that this is a complex air defense system. Ankara hasn’t acquired the system because it fears being attacked from the air. Turkey is already a NATO ally which is working closely with Russia, so all of the conceivable air powers that might threaten Turkey are ostensibly its ally also. And Turkey isn’t apparently going to put the S-400s in northern Syria to keep the Syrian regime away from areas that Turkey controls there.
The reality is more complex. The long process of acquisition since 2017 and now deployment is used as leverage over the US. Ankara knows that Washington wants to sanction it over acquiring the Russian system. But Turkey does not want those sanctions or to be pushed out of the F-35 program. The US has already tried to reduce Turkey’s role in that program by targeting Turkish personnel who were supposed to be in the US.
This is what the US calls “unwinding” Turkey from the program. Ten months gives a new negotiating period to unwind. The first period was from 2017 until now that the first S-400 pieces arrived. Now comes the pre-deployment stage and then maybe a pro-operational stage. Maybe Turkey can successfully slow-play this high stakes game of Clausewitzian brinkmanship up until the next US election, when it hopes to have more leverage.
The European Union on Monday agreed on measures to punish Turkey for pursuing drilling operations off Cyprus despite repeated warnings.
The EU will halt high-level dialogue with Turkey, suspend talks over an aviation agreement and cut 145.8 million euros ($164 million) in pre-accession financial funds allocated for 2020.
Foreign ministers from the bloc also told the European Commission, the bloc’s executive, to keep working on possible financial sanctions targeting those involved in the drilling operations.
And the European Investment Bank has been asked to revisit the conditions set out for providing financial support to Ankara.
The EU last month warned Turkey it could face sanctions if it did not cease what the bloc called “illegal” drilling in Cyprus’s exclusive economic zone.
Last week, diplomats began discussing what measures to impose.
It was the discovery of huge gas reserves in the eastern Mediterranean that sparked the dispute between EU member Cyprus and Turkey.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said some countries will only wake up to the Iranian threat when nuclear missiles fall on European soil, after the European Union on Monday declared that recent Iranian violations of a nuclear deal are not significant enough to necessitate reimposing sanctions.
Netanyahu urged the EU to act immediately against Iran, and in a video posted on his social media invoked the memory of Britain’s failed attempt to appease Nazi Germany on the eve of World War II.
“The response by the European Union to the Iranian violations [of the nuclear deal] reminds me of the European appeasement of the 1930s,” Netanyahu said in the Hebrew-language clip. “Also then, there was someone who buried his head in the sand and didn’t see the approaching danger.”
“It seems that there are those in Europe who won’t wake up until Iranian nuclear missiles fall on European soil, and then, of course, it will be too late. In any case, we will continue to do everything necessary to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons,” added to the prime minister.
Exclusive: The Iranian Man Behind Hezbollah’s Missile Program
The Iranian Revolutionary Guards engineer commanding Hezbollah’s precision missile project in Lebanon has been identified exclusively by i24NEWS as Majed Naveed.
US intelligence expressed concern that a UAE tanker, which entered Iranian territorial waters over the weekend, was forced to do so by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, according to CNN.
No official statement has been made by Iran or the UAE about the issue. The US Navy’s 5th Fleet which oversees waters in the Middle East declined to immediately comment, Radio Farda said.
US officials believe that the Panama flagged tanker M/I RIAH was seized by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard on Saturday night, when it was crossing the Strait of Hormuz in international waters. Information from the US intelligence agency indicated that the IRGC troops forced the tanker to enter Iranian territorial waters before withdrawing the vessel to Iran’s Qeshm Island.
Tracking data showed that the UAE tanker drifted off into Iranian waters after 11 p.m. on Saturday and stopped transmitting its location over two days ago, according to the Associated Press. US intelligence is still unsure of what exactly happened with the tanker, US officials told CNN.
The Riah is a 58 meter (190 foot) oil tanker which usually traveled between Dubai and Sharjah on the UAE’s west coast before going through the strait towards Fujairah on the UAE’s east coast.
Iranian Cleric Kazem Seddiqi in Tehran Friday Sermon: We Will Enrich As Much Uranium As We Need to 20%; We Will Smack England, It Will Regret Seizing Our Tanker in Gibraltar pic.twitter.com/x42qLyms0N
— MEMRI (@MEMRIReports) July 16, 2019
The State Department sent Brian Hook, the US Special Representative for Iran, to speak about why Washington has decided to keep Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif confined to a six-block radius when he comes to the US for a United Nations meeting.
“We don’t need to let Iranians roam freely in New York City,” Hook said.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Sunday that, “US diplomats don’t roam around Tehran, so we don’t see any reason for Iranian diplomats to roam freely around New York City either.”
In the past, Zarif has used his time in the US wisely, giving talks and making media appearances, grinning and having an enjoyable time while on American soil. He likes being in the US, and generally seems affable and happiest while touring New York or speaking to think tanks. He’s even a minor celebrity in some spaces. So the Trump administration, which had considered sanctioning Zarif, has sought instead to keep him reined in around the UN corral.
The problem for Washington is that officially the desire to sanction Iran and apply “maximum pressure” is to achieve a new Iran deal. If Zarif can’t meet anyone then how can a diplomatic resolution take place?
During my current visit to the Big Apple, I will need to keep in mind that I cannot react to challenging questions from journalists by signaling to my staff that those journalists must never breathe fresh air again. The rules in New York differ from those here are home, and I must prepare to adapt to those differences.
In Iran the ruling class need not concern itself with the possibility that a reporter will mention inconsistencies, problems, or crimes of regime personalities or organs, because for four decades now, the Islamic Revolution has maintained a firm policy of detaining, torturing, and executing anyone who points out such things. When I travel abroad, however, especially to Western countries that have no idea how to exert government control of the media, the safety of regime-approved reporting dissipates, and other tactics for maintaining control of the narrative come to the fore. I’ll have to refrain from ordering the detention and brutalizing of anyone while I’m stateside.
Not to imply that reporters will, in fact, challenge me while I’m there. The vast majority of big-name journalists in the US need no encouragement to parrot the Tehran line. As one American pundit put it, the impending restrictions on my movement while I’m there – allowed to move between the UN and the offices of Iran’s delegation to that august body – will simply mean that instead of meeting in hotels, restaurants, or other venues, Obama’s lackeys at CNN, NBC, the NY Times, and the Washington Post, among others, will have to come to me in one of those two locales to get their talking points. Inconvenient in some ways, and it works as the humiliation Trump intends, but it does simplify things.
On a sunny but frigid day in January 2018, members of the Taliban detonated an ambulance full of improvised explosives on a crowded street in downtown Kabul. The bomb claimed 100 lives, and the shock of it filled residents of Afghanistan’s capital with despair.
In the aftermath of the attack, a group of young Afghan artists painted a wall near the bomb site with images of masked and unmasked men together lugging a cargo of large red hearts. The mural was intended as a symbol of love and hope. But it was soon vandalized with a message scrawled in black pencil: “Death to Israel… Allah is great, Khamenei is our leader.”
The graffiti referred to Sayyid Ali Hosseini Khamenei, the current Supreme Leader of Iran, where he has been in office since 1989.
“It’s possible that people received money to write the slogans,” said Asif Yousufi, a social activist who attended a student-led demonstration against the celebration of Quds Day, an annual event initiated by Iran in 1979 meant to show support for the Palestinian people while opposing Israel and Zionism.
Quds Day is held on the last Friday of the Muslim month of Ramadan, which this year fell out on May 31.
“Every year, Sayed Hussain Mazari pays street boys in Kabul to hold a rally celebrating Quds Day,” said Yousufi.
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