Caroline Glick: Trump’s Offer to Talk to Iran Was Shrewd Move in Complicated Showdown
All negotiations have a tendency to create a dynamic in which reaching a deal – any deal – becomes more important than achieving the goals that brought the parties to the negotiating table in the first place. Western leaders, who are subject to media scrutiny and election pressures, are more susceptible to the pressure to achieve a deal than leaders of dictatorial regimes like those in Iran and North Korea.
As a consequence, the dynamic of negotiations works against the interests of the Western powers and favors the interests of the authoritarians they face at the table. In the current context of U.S.-Iranian relations, we will know that we should be concerned about this dynamic if and when the administration diminishes its public support for the anti-regime protesters in Iran.
On Wednesday, U.S. Central Command warned that Iran is about to launch a massive military exercise in the Straits of Hormuz. Suleimani and other regime leaders have threatened repeatedly in recent weeks to seal the maritime choke point through which 20 percent of world oil shipments transit if the U.S. blocks Iranian oil exports.
This Iranian move, like the missiles its Houthi proxies shot at two Saudi oil tankers in the Bab el Mandab choke point in the Red Sea least week, shows that the Iranians also know how to talk and shoot at the same time.
Obviously, it is too early to know where Trump’s offer will lead. But what is clear enough is that Trump’s offer to negotiate with Iran is no fluke. It is a shrewd, albeit high-risk move made in a complex and highly dynamic and dangerous standoff between the U.S. and its allies — and a lethal, menacing regime whose back is up against the wall.
This was a hot-button issue back in 2007 and 2008 when an upstart Democratic senator named Barack Obama proposed that if elected president, he would meet with leaders of Iran, Cuba and North Korea in his first year. His opponents pounced. Hillary Clinton said she wouldn’t want a meeting with such dictators to be “used for propaganda purposes.”
In his recent memoir, Obama’s deputy national security adviser and speechwriter, Ben Rhodes, described the reaction to his critics from inside the bubble. The campaign team was reading a news story in which Madeleine Albright, formerly Bill Clinton’s secretary of state, criticized Obama’s naive offer. Obama responded, according to Rhodes, by pounding his open palm on a table to emphasize every syllable: “It. Is. Not. A. Reward. To. Talk. To. Folks.”
Fast forward to 2018 and it’s fair to say that Trump takes the Obama view of talking to bad guys. After all, Trump met North Korean tyrant Kim Jong Un in Singapore. He met with Russian strongman Vladimir Putin in Helsinki. If aliens threatened to vaporize Los Angeles, Trump would first tweet some threats and insults and then a few days later propose a summit on a neighboring planet.
Now the president says he is open to talks with Iran’s president, Hassan Rouhani, without preconditions. “If they want to meet, I’ll meet,” he said at a joint press conference with Italy’s prime minister.
Anyone who has paid close attention to Trump’s Iran policy should not be surprised. As I wrote last week, Trump has consistently said he wants to negotiate a new deal with Iran’s leaders now that he has withdrawn the U.S. from the one negotiated by Obama.
It’s crucial to remember that even though we may share much in common, Iranian opponents of the theocratic regime may not always agree with us on foreign policy. Indeed, the intensity of the partisan divide in the United States makes it difficult to cross political aisles even here at home. Nevertheless, we can use our converging interests to mutual advantage.
While these Iranian democracy activists represent a diverse range of opinion about both the United States and its current president, they are still opponents of the theocratic regime in Tehran. Thirty-nine years after the birth of the theocratic Shi’a regime, the president reached out to the people of Iran, telling them: “The future of Iran belongs to its people. They are the rightful heirs to a rich culture and an ancient land. And they deserve a nation that does justice to their dreams, honor to their history, and glory to God.”
Young democracy activists need to hear this message on their own channels. U.S. government information, analysis, and policy branches need native Farsi speakers reading these and other social media daily, giving feedback and recommendations to policymakers.
Whether or not the opposition is in the streets doing battle with the regime, it is always online. Through a massive network of existing social media networks, we can reach this crucial group of activists both inside Iran and in diaspora communities around the world.
Syrian state media said late Thursday that Syrian air defenses were triggered by Israeli fighter jets that had allegedly bombed three Iranian positions in Syria.
The Syrian defense systems “engaged and destroyed hostile targets” near the capital of Damascus, the report said.
Syria’s pro-government al-Masdar news service said the Syrian army fired several missiles to fend off an attack near the Kisweh region.
Other Arab outlets offered conflicting reports on the number of casualties in the strike, with some saying there were no casualties and others reporting multiple casualties.
”Our air defenses confronted a hostile target and destroyed it west of Damascus,” the Syrian Arab News Agency quoted a military source as saying.
It added that Syrian air defenses were able to intercept three missiles and an enemy drone.
An Israeli military spokeswoman declined to comment on the SANA report.
On the surface, it appears the Islamic State terrorist cell wiped out by the IDF on the Golan Heights early Thursday morning had intent to attack. The proximity to the border and the amount of weapons found on the seven killed terrorists’ bodies indicate they were planning for a battle – despite the lack of concrete intelligence to corroborate the suspicion.
Islamic State’s branch in southern Syria has taken up position in the triangle region near the borders between Israel, Syria and Jordan on the Golan Heights. Its members have conquered a considerable number of villages, and last year significantly expanded their living space. Many of its fighters, who fled from the Syrian regime in other parts of Syria, fled to the Golan. Although the organization has almost completely avoided confrontation with Israel, focusing instead on fighting other rebel groups on the Golan, Israel has acted against it: Several assassinations of its leaders have been attributed to Israel in recent years.
At its peak, the organization comprised some 1,000 combatants in the area. Around 700 of those were locals, Golan natives who swore allegiance to ISIS; while the remaining 300 were foreign mercenaries. The former were also the first to surrender, when the Syrian army entered the area last week and began retaking the villages. They preferred to lay down their weapons – and reach understandings with the regime to ensure their futures – rather than their lives.
A field clinic built by the IDF and providing care to injured Syrians has been closed, the IDF’s Spokesperson’s Unit announced on Friday.
The Mazor Ladach (whose name translates into Bandaging Those In Need) was a field clinic opened in August 2017 and located in an unused military post in the southern Golan Heights on the Syrian border.
This week the IDF began the process of dismantling and evacuating the clinic compound which acted as a day clinic in the framework of the activities of Operation Good Neighbors in cooperation with the Frontier Alliance International, an American humanitarian organization.
The clinic provided medical treatment for the locals from the Syrian Golan Heights, treating some 6,800 Syrians.
The IDF’s 210th Division helped train the staff and had the ability to grow to 16-18 doctors to provide care to over 500 patients per day. While it was not able to care for any wounded Syrians or those who may need surgery, it provided care similar to those provided in any medical clinic.
The compound’s security were a top priority during the building process and the military built a secure bunker for emergency staff in case of stray mortar fire due to the fighting right across the border. Last October a volunteer physician working at the field clinic was hit by a stray bullet from fighting across the border. He received treatment in the field clinic after being lightly injured.
The pro-Israel community responded with near-total disinterest to last week’s appointment of US law professor and former war crime prosecutor David Crane to head the United Nations Human Rights Council’s probe into this summer’s riots at the Gaza border.
Officially, Israel rejects the “Commission of Inquiry” itself, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu saying the organization that commissioned it is “hypocritical and biased,” and only wants to “harm Israel and back terrorism.”
But somewhat surprisingly, Jerusalem has yet to comment on the person who will lead the investigation.
More than a week after Crane, who until March was a law professor at Syracuse University, was appointed to lead the three-person team, the Foreign Ministry still refuses to comment on the matter.
The silence is likely indicative of the fact that after years of publishing reports written by known anti-Israel jurists, the Human Rights Council may have finally chosen somebody who, at least in his public statements, does not seem to be overly critical of the Jewish state. Officials may quietly hope that he will be impartial, or at least give Israel a fairer shake than his predecessors have.
Hamas officials are considering an Egyptian-backed offer for a five-year truce with Israel that would see an end to violence and incendiary balloon attacks at the Gaza border and a partial lifting of the Israeli-Egyptian blockade on the beleaguered enclave, a Lebanese newspaper reported on Friday.
The truce would go into effect in stages, the Al-Akhbar daily reported, citing sources close to Hamas.
The first stage would begin within a week and include “the end of the provocations along the border, or in other words, the phenomena of the flaming kites, border crossing operations and setting fire to border posts,” the report said.
In return, the Kerem Shalom and Rafah border crossings from Israel and Egypt, respectively, would be reopened on a permanent basis.
The second phase would focus on “the improvement of living conditions and the complete lifting of the siege on Gaza’s residents,” the entry of all goods and a boost to electricity supplied through Israeli power lines into the Strip.
Celebrate, don’t devastate. pic.twitter.com/ZJOpRhDDCh
— IDF (@IDFSpokesperson) August 3, 2018
Cpl. Shani Davidyan, an Israel Defense Forces video surveillance operator, was sitting in her operations room, monitoring the Gush Etzion sector south of Jerusalem, when she suddenly received a radio report that shots were fired in her sector. “I started scanning the area and identified a person in my sector walking between two roads, near the Border Police checkpoint. He was walking towards an Arab village.” Davidyan directed the Border Police in the man’s direction. “Within two minutes, they reached the person. I saw him produce a firearm and open fire at them.”
As this severe incident unfolded, Davidyan declared a “hot hammer” incident – an armed attack taking place on security forces. Security forces began rushing towards the area. Thirty minutes later, the suspect was in custody, together with his gun and a knife.
“It was an incredible feeling,” said Davidyan. “Here I felt the sensation of helping to capture a suspect who carried out a shooting attack….I safeguard the whole of Gush Etzion. We protect human lives, which is the most important thing in the world.”
Capt. Ariel Bitton, a company commander, said that when a surveillance operator spots something, she “has to accurately describe what is occurring and mobilize the forces to the right spot. Her goal is the capture of the attacker.” Female operators suit this kind of role, added Bitton, with its need for long concentration spans and multi-tasking. Ultimately, it’s about keeping their cool while completing their mission.
Much of the criticism of Israel’s new nation-state law stems from a fundamental misunderstanding of Israel’s constitutional system. The new law isn’t meant to be read in isolation, but in concert with other Basic Laws enshrining Israel’s democratic system.
Israel doesn’t have a constitution. What it has is a series of Basic Laws to which the Supreme Court accorded constitutional status. Each Basic Law is merely one article in Israel’s constitution or constitution-to-be. They cannot be read in isolation, but only as part of a greater whole.
Consequently, it’s ridiculous to claim that the nation-state law undermines democracy, equality or minority rights merely because those terms don’t appear in it, given that several other Basic Laws already address these issues. The new law doesn’t supersede the earlier ones; it’s meant to be read in concert with them.
Arguing that the nation-state law is undemocratic because it doesn’t mention equality or minority rights is like arguing that the U.S. Constitution is undemocratic because Articles I and II confer broad powers on the legislature and executive without mentioning the protections enshrined in the Bill of Rights.
The provision of the law stating that “The right to exercise national self-determination in the State of Israel is unique to the Jewish people” doesn’t deprive Arabs of individual rights within Israel, nor does it bar the possibility of Palestinian self-determination in the West Bank and Gaza.
The only thing it prohibits is an Arab state within Israel’s borders, which is problematic only if you favor replacing Israel with another Arab state.
Even before the framework agreement Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu struck with the Druze, I was in favor of the nation-state law, because loyalty to the country shouldn’t be conditional on anything. Loyalty to the country must come from the heart, 100%.
Someone whose soul isn’t loyal can’t belong to the state.
Israel is democratic only because it is a Jewish state. If it isn’t Jewish, it simply won’t exist. The nation-state law is one of 14 Basic Laws that define Israel’s identity – what and who the country is, what its flag looks like, what its national anthem is, what its capital is. The law does not focus on human rights or individual rights or the rights of ethnic groups. These are all spelled out in the Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty.
The Basic Law: Israel as the Nation-State of the Jewish People does not contradict the other basic laws; it complements them by discussing the aspect of identity in the existing basic laws.
Only the Jewish people have national rights in the Land of Israel. All other peoples can enjoy full civil rights such as self-determination. The nation-state law seeks to block the Arabs’ nationalist aspirations and their demands in the Land of Israel.
I call on my Druze brethren and the leaders of the Druze protest not to take us down a slippery slope and leave us in the abyss. Between us and the Jewish people, there is a long-standing alliance, and we want this alliance to continue to exist. I say that the leaders of the anti-nation-state law protests will be responsible for everything that befalls the Druze. Because we, unfortunately, are losing the support of the Jewish public as a result of the protests.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu walked out of a meeting with Druze leaders regarding the nation-state law on Thursday, after one of them suggested the controversial legislation would turn Israel into an “apartheid state.”
Though largely symbolic, Basic Law: Israel as the Nation-State of the Jewish People, enacted in late July, states that ”Israel is the historic homeland of the Jewish people and they have an exclusive right to national self-determination in it.”
The language of the law has been panned by Arab lawmakers and non-Jewish Israeli citizens as ”racist.”
The Druze – a unique religious and ethnic minority among Israeli Arabs, who serve in the IDF and hold key positions in Israeli politics and public service – were particularly offended by the law, which community leaders labeled as an ”extreme act of discrimination” against the country’s minorities.
Druze make up only 1.3% of Israel’s population. Israeli Arabs make up 20% of the citizenry.
A conflict erupted at a scholarship ceremony in Karmiel on Thursday when a group of Druze activists called MK Avi Dichter, the author of the nation-state law, a “Nazi.”
Dichter was invited to speak at an event at which the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews handed out scholarships to Druze men and women who had completed military or national service.
When Dichter got up to give a congratulatory speech, a few of the people at the event leaped out of their seats and ran to the stage, shouting, “We’re first-class and you’re second-class – you’re a Nazi!”
The protesters tried to prevent Dichter from speaking.
“I know it’s not easy for you to sit and watch what happened here,” Dichter said after order was restored.
“I’m not entirely surprised and it was difficult for me, too, but I can stand it. [There is] one thing I won’t ignore: No one will call me a Nazi – not Jews, not Muslims, not Christians, and not Druze. I lost family in the Holocaust and my full name is Avraham Moshe – after my grandfather, who was murdered by the Nazis along with many other relatives of mine.
A White House source and senior Arab officials on Thursday said the Trump administration was postponing by several months the rollout of its so-called “deal of the century” to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The U.S. official said the administration has already decided not to present the peace plan before the congressional mid-term elections on Nov. 6 because certain components of the plan call for Israeli concessions and could harm Republican candidates’ election bids.
The official also said that if Israel goes to elections after the Jewish holidays this September, then the administration would postpone the peace plan even further, as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would not be able to adopt certain aspects during an election campaign.
Israel’s next election is scheduled for November 2019. But a single party could force early elections by withdrawing from the government coalition. Due to the wide range of views among the coalition parties, Israeli governments rarely complete a full term.
Announcing the peace plan during an Israeli election campaign “would play into the hands of [Habayit Hayehudi Chairman Naftali] Bennett and the administration understands this,” the official said, referring to the politician deemed Netanyahu’s chief rival for the premiership.
“During an election campaign, Netanyahu wouldn’t be able to say ‘yes’ to such ideas. On the other hand, he also can’t say ‘no’ to [President Donald] Trump. It appears, therefore, that the sides would rather play it smart and simply wait until the elections are over, in the U.S. and in Israel,” the official said.
The Jerusalem municipality fast-tracked building permits to enlarge the size of the US embassy, which relocated to the capital on May 14.
The plans, reported by Hadashot TV news on Thursday, include an expansion of office space, creation of new entrances, and additional areas for providing services to the public.
In total, the council approved an expansion of 700 square meters (7,500 square feet) — 350 square meters (3,700 square feet) below ground and 350 square meters enlarging the existing second floor.
The expansion will allow more staff and services to be transferred from the former Tel Aviv embassy to the compound in the capital.
MORE than 300 supporters gathered at Central Shule in Caulfield, as Victorian Liberals, including federal Environment and Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg, relaunched Victorian Liberal Friends of Israel.
In a muscular show of support, 16 state Liberal MPs filled multiple rows of the synagogue’s pews last Sunday night to hear calls for solidarity with Israel, rebooting a group initially founded by former Caulfield MP Helen Shardey.
Successor David Southwick, with Senator James Paterson and Goldstein MP Tim Wilson, are the patrons of the new group.
Referencing the anti-Israel stance of the Greens, Paterson said, “As you all know, Michael Danby is retiring [as MP for Melbourne Ports] and sadly there is a very real risk that the Greens … could end up winning the seat and representing the second-largest Jewish seat in Australia. We must not allow that to happen.”
Frydenberg said, “I stand before you as a proud Jewish member of the Parliament, but it’s not my Jewishness that defines my support of Israel … it’s about what Israel stands for, it’s about its values, it’s about its traditions, it’s about its culture, it’s about its history.”
“But nothing that Israel stands for we can take for granted,” he said, listing BDS, Iran’s “Shi’ite axis”, and the politics of “the divisive and despicable [former senator] Bob Carr” as challenges.
Referring to the Liberals as “a Zionist political party” several times, state Liberal leader Matthew Guy lauded the friends organisation as “a group for all faiths who call Israel home”, repeating his pledge that, if elected, he would locate a state trade office in West Jerusalem, “the undisputed capital of Israel”.
Jewish advocacy groups are again raising concerns that new Canadian funding for Palestinians must come with sufficient oversight, so that money is not channelled to terrorists.
The renewed concerns came following a July 29 announcement from International Development Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau that Canada will contribute over $50 million in new support for Palestinians, “focusing on urgent humanitarian needs and on economic growth that works for everyone.”
Canada’s assistance will go to Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, even though the latter territory is governed by Hamas, which this country lists as a terrorist organization.
The funding of four new projects “will help meet the needs of the poorest and most vulnerable Palestinians, particularly women and girls,” read a statement from Bibeau’s office.
The money won’t be delivered via the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), which tasked with alleviating the plight of Palestinian refugees, or the Palestinian Authority, but through a variety of UN humanitarian agencies.
Three of the four new projects will be implemented by Canadian humanitarian groups: Humanity & Inclusion Canada, Save the Children Canada and CARE Canada.
The United Nations is facing an economic crisis as an increasing number of member states don’t pay their annual dues.
Beyond that, as Global News reports, fewer people care what the U.N. does or says, with analysts suggesting the organization is becoming irrelevant.
In a financial rebuke, U.N. Secretary-General Antonia Guterres recently noted that 81 countries owe $810 million in annual payments to an organization that spends money on a plethora of projects around the world.
“Our cash flow has never been this low so early in the calendar year, and the broader trend is also concerning: We are running out of cash sooner and staying in the red longer,” Guterres wrote in a letter to U.N. staff.
The cost of membership in the U.N. is based on the economic standards of any given country. Prosperous states with a high standard of living pay more than those with rampant poverty.
The financial hold-outs this year range from failing states like Syria and Somalia to wealthy ones like the United States and Saudi Arabia. American taxpayers subsidize almost one-quarter of the U.N.’s budget with an annual bill of $1.2 billion.
The UN human rights chief defended his outspoken criticism of abuses in dozens of countries from Myanmar and Hungary to the United States, insisting that his office doesn’t “bring shame on governments, they shame themselves.”
Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein stressed at a farewell news conference at UN headquarters on Thursday that “silence does not earn you any respect — none.”
Looking back at his four-year term as UN high commissioner for human rights, the Jordanian prince said he will give his successor the same advice his predecessor, Navi Pillay, gave him — “be fair and don’t discriminate against any country” and “just come out swinging.”
The United States pulled out of the Human Rights Council in June, citing “chronic bias against Israel.”
“I think we’ve been fair with everyone and firm with everyone,” Zeid said. “The suggestion that I’m an anti-Semite and my office is, I find it really disgusting.”
The Trump administration recently released millions of dollars of frozen aid money to the Palestinian Authority, but only for Israeli-Palestinian security cooperation, The Times of Israel learned on Thursday.
While Washington says it will continue to review its assistance to the Palestinians, it chose to allocate specific funds for the current fiscal year to specific PA programs that ostensibly serve American interests, including terrorist prevention measures in the territories, an official said.
“We recently decided to move ahead with FY2017 International Narcotics and Law Enforcement funding for Palestinian Authority security assistance and Non-Proliferation, Anti-Terrorism, Demining and Related Programs (NADR) in the West Bank,” a State Department official said Thursday.
“This assistance underpins Palestinian Authority security cooperation with Israel, which remains in force despite recent tensions,” the official added. “This decision does not in any way prejudge the outcome of our review of other funding streams and programs. It is simply the first decision to emerge from the review, which is ongoing.”
In recent weeks, the Qatari media has been slamming the Trump administration’s efforts to advance a regional peace plan that has come to be known as the “Deal of the Century.” Qatari media reports and articles about this plan have described it as serving Israel’s interests while eliminating the Palestinian cause. Furthermore, following reports in the non-Arab media that Saudi Arabia has been involved in formulating this plan, and against the backdrop of the growing crisis between Qatar and the “Arab Quartet” – i.e. the four countries, led by Saudi Arabia, which have been boycotting Qatar for the last year – the Qatari media has been accusing Saudi Arabia and other Arab regimes of collaborating with the Trump administration and betraying the Palestinians.
On June 28, the Doha-based Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies, directed by former Israeli Knesset Member ‘Azmi Bishara, who is close to the Qatari regime, likewise published a report about the Trump peace plan, stating that it is the worst Middle East peace plan presented by the U.S. to date, that it completely disregards the Palestinian rights and the fact that the root of the problem is the Israeli occupation, that it resembles the plan of the Israeli right for ending the conflict with the Palestinians and constitutes an attempt to impose this Israeli position on the Arabs. The report also attacked certain Arab countries, chiefly Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the Emirates, for cooperating with this plan, and assessed that it would not go forward as long as the Palestinians opposed it and continued to resist the pressures exerted upon them.
This criticism of the Trump deal found expression also in cartoons published in the Qatari and pro-Qatar media. Many of the cartoons presented Arab support for the deal as a betrayal of the Palestinians and collaboration with the U.S. and Israel, while others addressed the deal itself, presenting it as serving nobody but Israel. Some cartoons expressed that the Palestinians’ commitment to the right of return will not enable the deal to go forward. This was often represented by the symbol of the key, which represents the Palestinian refugees’ insistence on the right to return to their former homes within the 1948 territories.
A Palestinian man who saved the children of a West Bank rabbi in the aftermath of the deadly terror attack in which the father was killed, has been told he has to return to the West Bank, despite threats on his life there, Hadashot news reported Friday.
Rabbi Miki Mark was murdered in a July 1, 2016, shooting. His wife Chava was seriously injured, and their two teenage children were also hurt. The Palestinian rescuer and his wife, residents of the Hebron area, helped the surviving members of the Mark family escape their overturned vehicle and administered first aid until first responders arrived at the scene.
The Palestinian man, who has not been named, received a temporary visa to live and work in Israel after receiving death threats in his home town near the West Bank city of Hebron.
“They started calling me a traitor,” he told Hadashot news. “They started to throw rocks and Molotov cocktails at my car. I was worried that when I left the house I would be burned alive.”
Following the threats, he turned to the Israeli Civil Administration, which is the interface between Israel and the West Bank. Israel decided to grant him a temporary permit to live in Israel, Hadashot reported.
MK Hanin Zoabi (Joint Arab List) criticized IDF soldiers for blocking a Gaza-bound flotilla carrying leftist and anti-Israel activists.
“This violence is so standard for the soldiers that it’s not even considered [violence],” Zoabi said. “They’re used to shooting Gaza fishermen, so a few slaps and a taser to the head apparently don’t seem violent to those armed ‘heroes.'”
“Now, when those on the flotilla were released, it was obviously without a court case, because the State is worried about those testimonies and dealing legally with the piracy in international waters aimed at a foreign civilian ship which was not armed.
“The Freedom flotilla is still making its way to Gaza. It is expected to arrive soon. The piracy in international waters is a violation of international maritime law. Therefore, every soldier and commander who takes part in this piracy is carrying out an illegal order, an order which they are ordered to refuse.
“Such a soldier turns himself into a criminal who should be tried in a criminal court, just like the politicians who sent him to the sea should.”
A few days ago, the IDF boarded one of the so-called Freedom Flotilla boats on their way to Gaza with medical supplies as part of an expensive propaganda stunt designed to demonize Israel. Israel haters on board have complained of violence, but once again, the differing accounts don’t add up.
Here’s what one of the “activists” on board claimed:
Up to 30 troops in balaclavas then boarded his ship, using force to burst through groups of activists with linked arms, Treen alleged.
He said most of those on board the Al Awda were older, with an average age of 56, and that the ship’s captain had told the Israeli navy over the radio they had no right to board the vessel.
“This was an unlawful act, we were in international waters,” Treen said in Auckland Airport’s arrivals area.
“We had linked arms to make the point that we weren’t just surrendering without a protest.”
Treen said he and a Swedish man acted as a “last line of defence” by linking arms in front of the door leading to the captain’s bridge.
The soldiers then beat the Swede and stomped on Treen’s toes and tasered him in the cheek, before ordering the Al Awda’s captain to take the vessel to Israel, Treen alleged.
“They beat the [captain], then threatened to execute him … [it was] a savage and immediate beating of him,” Treen claimed.
Yet in another account, the captain himself complains of tasers and being hit in prison, but not being savagely beaten on the ship. Nor does he mention any threats to kill him.
As he arrived at Oslo International Airport, Karstein captain Herman Reksten also accused Israeli soldiers of shocking the activists with tasers.
“I still have a headache from being hit in prison,” he added.
And if that wasn’t fishy enough (see what I did there?), another “activist” complained of feeling like he was in a war zone, but did not accuse any soldiers of actual violence.
The European Union announced Thursday that it had completed construction of the largest solar energy field in Gaza, which will power the Southern Gaza Desalination Plant, providing water to residents of the coastal enclave.
The desalination plant currently provides clean water to 75,000 inhabitants of Khan Younis and Rafah. The new energy field’s output of 0.5 megawatts and further investment from the EU will increase the output, so that it will provide drinking water to 250,000 people in Southern Gaza by 2020, the EU said.
Johannes Hahn, the EU commissioner for European neighborhood policy and enlargement negotiations, said that electricity shortages create a serious challenge to providing Gazans with water.
He said that improving living conditions for the people of Gaza will lead to “mitigating tensions in a highly conflict sensitive area.”
Gaza University Professor Abdul Samee’ Al-‘Arabeed on Hamas TV: The Jews Are Human Garbage, Behind Every Conspiracy pic.twitter.com/xoX2yiFhUr
— MEMRI (@MEMRIReports) August 3, 2018
Hizbullah’s news mouthpiece, Al Ahed News, published on August 1, 2018, an “exclusive” feature on Hizbullah’s “Air Force,” on display at an open-air museum located in Mleeta in southern Lebanon, 45 km. from Israel’s border and 82 km. from Beirut.1
The symbol of Hizbullah’s air force on display in Mleeta.
“The Mleeta Landmark is now home to the highest flagpole in all of Lebanon. The largest flag is atop that post, with an area of about 16 square meters. The mast rises 50 meters above the ground.”
Dispelling any doubt about Hizbullah’s dominance over Lebanon, the museum website states:
We are a Lebanese association with a mission to regenerate the resisting heritage….This tourist landmark is run by the Lebanese Association for Tourism & Tradition.
Al Ahed reports, “The latest weapon to be unveiled [in the Mleeta Museum] is a squadron of drones belonging to the Islamic Resistance.”
Unmanned drones (“RPAV” is the term today – Remotely Piloted Air Vehicle) are being used throughout the Middle East for surveillance, combat, targeting, platforms for bombs and missiles, and as “suicide” drones (in effect, cruise missiles). RPAVs’ endurance and range can reach many hours and hundreds of kilometers. Iranian-made drones are now flying in Gaza, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, and Yemen. Over the last decade, they have attempted to enter Israeli airspace from Lebanon, Syria, and Gaza.
Defense planners are also watching for “drone swarms,” an Iranian military tactic developed for swarming fast boats in the Persian Gulf.
Jane’s Defense Weekly revealed in 2015 that satellite photo analyses discovered a Hizbullah drone airstrip in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley, built between 2013 and 2014.3
Hizbullah Drones? Actually Iranian Drones with Different Names
The Hizbullah drones on display have been given Hizbullah names, but their designation does not hide the fact that they are all of Iranian origin. Some of the drones’ twins also appear in the Houthi and Hamas orders of battle, particularly the “Ababil” RPAV.
In a Friday sermon, delivered on July 27, 2018 at the Al-Faruq Mosque in Copenhagen, Imam Mundhir Abdallah said that his March 31, 2017 sermon, for which he was recently indicted on charges of hate speech, was not about the Jews, but about Palestine (For the MEMRI TV translation of this sermon, in which he recited the antisemitic hadith about the Prophecy of the Rock and the Tree, see MEMRI TV Clip No. 6013 Copenhagen Friday Sermon: Imam Cites Antisemitic Hadith, Says: Soon Caliphate Will Uproot Colonialist, Crusader Jewish Entity, March 31, 2017).
In his July 27 sermon, Imam Abdallah said, “The only solution for Palestine is jihad,” and called for the establishment of an Islamic Caliphate. “That means war,” he emphasized, “not in Denmark and not elsewhere, but in Palestine, to liberate it from the occupation.” (For more by Imam Abdallah, for example, his assertion thatthe “rampaging, filth, and vileness” of the Jews reflect their “immutable nature,” see MEMRI TV Clip No. 6689 Copenhagen Imam Mundhir Abdallah Calls For Jihad To Invade And Conquer Europe, Adds: Filth And Vileness Of Jews Reflect Their Immutable Nature – Archival July 23, 2017).
The July 27 sermon, which was delivered partly in Arabic and partly in English, was posted on the Al-Faruq Mosque Facebook page.
The following are translated excerpts from the sermon:
“Palestine Is Not Up For Partitioning Or Bargaining, The Only Solution For Palestine Is Jihad – There Is No Other Solution”
Mundhir Abdallah: “I don’t find it peculiar in the least that those [Danish authorities] are placing me on trial for insisting upon the truth.
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