July 15, 2020

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09/07 Links Pt1: Hijacking the Holocaust for Obama; Alleged Israeli Strike Destroys Syrian Chemical Weapons Facility


From Ian:

Hijacking the Holocaust for Obama
It was this attack that compelled Barack Obama to finally take seriously his year-old, self-set “red line” for action in Syria. In early September of that year, the president addressed the American public in prime time and made a compelling case as to why America must intervene to prevent more crimes against humanity and the erosion of the norm prohibiting the use of chemical weapons on the battlefield. Yet in that same bizarre address, the president informed America that this urgent global crisis could wait for a vote of support from a skeptical Congress. Moreover, he added, Moscow had intervened diplomatically, and no intervention was likely necessary.
The speech was a Frankenstein’s monster of last minute attempts to absolve Barack Obama from his responsibilities as president, and he’s been struggling to clarify his motives ever since. “I’m very proud of this moment,” Obama told Jeffrey Goldberg, unconvincingly, almost exactly one year before the massacre at Khan Sheikhoun. “[T]he fact that I was able to pull back from the immediate pressures and think through in my own mind what was in America’s interest, not only with respect to Syria but also with respect to our democracy, was as tough a decision as I’ve made—and I believe ultimately it was the right decision to make.”
If history was inclined to provide Obama absolution for his inaction in the face of war crimes, you might think his team would be content to allow history to run its course. They’re not.
Tablet’s Armin Rosen provided an alarming window into the Obama administration’s efforts to hijack ostensibly responsible institutions and compel them to whitewash the effects of Obama’s equivocations. As a result of Tablet’s reporting, a study of the Obama administration’s Syria policy sponsored by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum has been scuttled at the last minute due to the number of eyebrows it raised. “Using computational modeling and game theory methods,” Rosen reported, the study dubiously concluded that executing strikes on the Assad regime would not have led to fewer attacks on civilians. Indeed, there might have been more as a result.
This report’s conclusion was a mystery, but the motive behind it wasn’t. The Holocaust Museum’s Memorial Council members at the time of this report’s composition included Obama administration officials who are deeply invested in ensuring history comes to that same conclusion. Among them were former Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes and several Obama-era National Security Council members.
Donald Trump did not address the nation when he executed 59 retaliatory cruise missile strikes on a Syrian airfield. Barack Obama already gave that speech. It wasn’t Obama’s lofty rhetoric but his apprehension that emboldened Assad to exacerbate the worst humanitarian and refugee crisis of the century. That’s a legacy that needs polishing. Apparently, Team Obama isn’t above hijacking the moral authority of Holocaust memorials in the pursuit of that objective.

The Ben Shapiro Show Ep. 377 – Circular Firing Squad

34:30 Obama and the Syrian Genocide
38:45 Linda Sarsour’s black face

PreOccupiedTerritory: Staffer: Obama Didn’t Intervene In Syria Genocide B/c Victims Wouldn’t Vote Democrat Anyway (satire)

The former White House official, speaking on condition of anonymity, disclosed the considerations mooted by the Obama team throughout the course of the Syrian Civil War, which has so far claimed close to half a million Syrian lives and displaced millions more – most of them at the hands of the Assad regime and allied forces. In addition to the president’s prioritization of the Iran nuclear deal over all other issues, the official explained, domestic political considerations carried significant weight in the administration’s decision-making.
“Of course it was important not to oppose Iran’s ambitions in the Levant so as not to give them an excuse to back out of the impending deal,” she recalled. “But the idea wasn’t so much to empower Iran and legalize its path to a nuclear arsenal as it was to enable someone – it happened to be Iran and Russia – to step into the power vacuum the president knew would arise after deliberate retrenchment of American influence in the Middle East. But it wasn’t that the retrenchment was the goal – rather, the president was aiming to focus only on domestic affairs, such as health care and politicizing the intelligence community. Syrian civilians just aren’t an important voting demographic, so they got the shaft.”
“It was actually rather responsible of him,” remarked another former adviser who sat on the Holocaust Museum board that whitewashed Obama’s record. “I mean, he could have just not invited another power to exert hegemony over the whole region, but no. He actually took the time to enable the world’s largest sponsor of terrorism to establish a corridor to the Mediterranean and threaten American allies in the Persian Gulf and beyond, to prevent some other chaotic scenario. He didn’t have to do that – he could have simply made explicit that Syrians don’t vote in US elections and are therefore of no use to him. You have to give him serious credit.”
Former members of the campaign teams of the now-minority Democratic members of Congress and of former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton were unavailable for comment.

Alleged Israeli Strike Destroys Syrian Chemical Weapons Facility

An Israeli airstrike on Thursday destroyed a chemical weapons facility belonging to Syria’s regime, a Syrian government agency claimed.
Syria’s Scientific Studies and Research Center said the alleged Israeli strike occurred near the city of Hama. The Syrian army proceeded to warn Israel of “serious consequences” for its “aggressive activities,” which it argued destabilize the region and “raise the Islamic State’s morale.”
The strike purportedly was initiated from Lebanese air space and killed two Syrian regime soldiers. The IDF has not confirmed nor denied its role in the strike.
Former IDF intelligence chief Amos Yadlin tweeted that the strike was “not routine,” and that the destroyed facility was involved with the production of barrel bombs dropped on Syrian civilians.
“Israel intends to enforce its red lines, despite the fact that the great powers are ignoring them,” and “the presence of Russian air defense does not prevent airstrikes attributed to Israel,” Yadlin wrote.

With alleged airstrike, Israel punctuates opposition to Syria ceasefire pact

The timing of the airstrike allegedly carried out by the Israel Air Force against a Syrian advanced weapons development facility early Thursday morning could not have been more apt.
The aerial attack came nearly 10 years to the day after Israel allegedly destroyed a Syrian nuclear reactor; a few weeks after Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah visited Damascus; two weeks after a meeting between Russian and Israeli heads of state; a day after a United Nations report formally blamed the Bashar Assad regime for a sarin gas attack earlier this year; and in the midst of the IDF’s largest exercise in nearly two decades, in which tens of thousands of soldiers are simulating a war with Hezbollah, a key part of the Syrian-Iranian Shiite axis.
In addition to whatever tactical value was gained from destroying such a facility, the early Thursday morning bombing run also presented a message to Syria, Iran and Hezbollah, as well as to the United States and Russia, that Israel would continue to act in the war-torn country if necessary — ceasefire between the regime and rebels be damned.
The target was a Scientific Studies and Research Center (CERS) facility, which reportedly produces and stores both chemical weapons and precision missiles, located outside the city of Masyaf, in Syria’s northwestern Hama region, nearly 300 kilometers away from Israel’s northernmost air base.
“It targeted a Syrian military-scientific center for the development and manufacture of, among other things, precision missiles which will have a significant role in the next round of conflict,” wrote Maj. Gen. (res.) Amos Yadlin, a former head of Israel’s Military Intelligence, on Twitter.

Defense Minister: Israel will do what it takes to protect her citizens

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman said on Thursday that Israel will do everything to prevent a Shi’ite corridor from Tehran to Damascus, hours after Syria accused Jerusalem of striking an Assad regime military center believed by analysts to produce and house chemical weapons and advanced precision missiles.
“We are not looking for any military adventure in Syria but we are determined to prevent our enemies from harming, or even creating the opportunity to harm the security of Israeli citizens,” the defense minister said in an interview with Radio FM 100.
“Therefore, everything will be done to prevent the existence of a Shi’ite corridor from Tehran to Damascus.”
Syria accused Israel of striking the al-Tala’i Research Center east of Masyaf in Hama, believed to be linked the Assad regime’s development of chemical weapons, killing two Syrian soldiers and causing damage to the facility.
“Israeli warplanes fired several rockets from the Lebanese airspace at 2:42am on Thursday targeting one of the Syrian military positions near Masyaf in Hama countryside,” Syria’s official news agency quoted the Syrian army general command as saying.
Accusing Israel of directly supporting ISIS and other terror organizations, the statement warned against the “dangerous repercussions of this aggressive action to the security and stability of the region.”

Ex-IDF intel chief: Israel enforcing its ‘red lines’ with Syria strike

A former head of Israeli military intelligence said Thursday that an overnight airstrike on a Syrian chemical weapons facility that was attributed to Israel sends a message to world powers that the country intends to enforce its red lines when it comes to protecting itself.
General (res) Amos Yadlin tweeted that the facility in Masyaf hit overnight had also produced barrel bombs that were dropped on Syrian civilians, adding a moral justification to the airstrike that wasn’t directly related to Israel’s own security interests.
The Syrian army confirmed in the morning that a military site near Masyaf was bombed, saying the attack was carried out by Israeli jets with missiles fired from Lebanon, and killed two people.
Opposition sources quoted by Israel Radio said the airstrike destroyed weapons stores including chemical-tipped missiles that were to be delivered to Hezbollah.
There was no immediate comment from the Israeli military on any of the reports.

Hizbullah May Have Been Planning to Take Over Syrian Chemical Weapons Facility

There’s a strong probability that the Syrian military research center allegedly struck by Israeli warplanes on Thursday morning was targeted because of concerns that Hezbollah’s leader Hassan Nassrallah had asked Damascus to hand over the facility to the Lebanon-based Shi’ite terror group.
This assessment comes from the former national security adviser, Maj.-Gen (ret.) Yaakov Amidror, who now serves as an analyst at Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies. According to him, the strike on the al-Talai Scientific Studies and Research Center may have been a consequence of Nasrallah’s visit to Damascus last week.
Nasrallah boasted of his visit to the Syrian capital in a live speech, but according Amidror, who was speaking on a conference call organized by The Israel Project, the facility may not only have been producing weapon systems for Hezbollah but was actually going to be taken over by the group as per Nassrallah’s demand.
The facility has been known for many years as a center for research and development for weapons systems, including chemical weapons.
Noting that the strike came almost 10 years to the day of the Israeli strike on the Syrian nuclear reactor in Deir Ezzor, Amidror stated that it should be clear for Syria that Israel will not allow Iran or Hezbollah to build their capabilities because of the “chaotic mess in Syria.”
“Just imagine if such a regime had nuclear capabilities,” he said.

Rivlin to Merkel: Hezbollah is forcing Israel to react

President Reuven Rivlin discussed the dangers of Hezbollah in his meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin on Thursday, telling Merkel that “Hezbollah’s weapons infrastructure will force Israel to react.”
Rivlin’s bold statement comes after Israel reportedly targeted a regime weapons manufacturing facility in Syria, and Israeli security experts have said that it is highly probable that Israel was forced to launch an attack on the chemical plant due to Hezbollah plans to overtake it.
Security dominated the discussion as Rivlin spoke of the intensified threat against Israel in light of the Iranian presence in Syria, and the spread of its influence throughout the Middle East. This could have a disastrous effect on the region and the world, he warned, and could bring the whole region to the brink of war.
In discussing the Syrian situation with Merkel, Rivlin emphasized the humanitarian aid that Israel is giving to injured Syrians, regardless of which side of the civil war they are on.
Rivlin also spoke of the dangers of Hezbollah, and its effect on the Lebanese population with the backing of Iran. He underscored that Hezbollah constantly ignores and undermines the decisions taken by the UN Security Council.
Constant bombardment of Israel by Hezbollah, Rivlin told Merkel, leaves Israel with no option but to respond in kind.

Syria warns Israel of ‘dangerous repercussions’ after attack on chemical weapons site

Syria accused Israel on Thursday of carrying out an aerial attack on Assad posts overnight. The alleged Israeli attack hit a scientific research center where chemical weapons are manufactured, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
In a statement, the Syrian army warned Israel of “dangerous repercussions of this aggressive action to the security and stability of the region” following the attack.
According to the reports, the attack was launched at 2:30 a.m. on targets located in central Syria, in the area of Hama, and also targeted several weapons convoys that were en route to Hezbollah strongholds in the area.
The Syrian army charged later on Thursday morning that Israel killed two of its soldiers during the aerial attack. An IDF spokeswoman declined to comment on the reports, saying that the army does not comment on operational matters.
Arab media claimed there are three casualties as a result of the attack, which centered on a regime post that belongs to the scientific research center on the outskirts of Hama, situated in the northwestern part of the country. In the scientific center, the regime reportedly develops munitions such as missiles and has developed chemical weapons as well.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that an airstrike on Masyaf in Syria hit a Scientific Studies and Research Center facility and an adjacent military camp where ground-to-ground rockets are stored.

What America Should Do Next in the Middle East

What Is To Be Done?
In the Middle East, nothing is more permanent than the temporary. Dealt a losing hand by Obama, Trump has already made seemingly tactical decisions that will have lasting, perhaps permanent, strategic implications. Reversing them will be hard in the best of cases, but the effort will grow even more difficult the longer he waits. If his administration does not soon devise a clear strategy for competing vigorously with Tehran, to say nothing of Moscow, he risks following Obama’s policy of facilitating the rise of the Russian-Iranian alliance—while intending to reverse it.
The conclusion of the nuclear deal and Obama’s alignment with Iran created a widespread impression, at home and in Europe, that Iran was actually cooperating with the United States, when in fact it never dropped its hostility. In a sense, therefore, the key question before the Trump administration is: what is the best way to convince the world of the malignant nature of Iranian ambition, the threats it poses to the United States and its allies, and the steps that must be taken to combat it?
One school of thought calls for declaring Iran non-compliant with the nuclear deal and re-imposing economic sanctions on it. This approach, however, suffers from the fact that, as we have seen, many influential actors, including elements of the United States national-security establishment and key allies, do not agree that Iran is in serious violation of the agreement. In addition, this approach concentrates attention on the Iranian nuclear program at a moment when the greatest and most immediate threat is instead posed by Iranian expansionism in the Middle East and beyond: its support for terrorism, subversion of neighboring countries, establishment of regional militias, and development and sharing of missile technology.
Today, the center of gravity of Tehran’s struggle for regional mastery is Syria. The most urgent priority of the administration, therefore, should be thwarting Iran’s ambitions to solidify its position in that country. This is a goal around which Trump can organize an international coalition—one that would include actors willing to devote significant resources to achieving it. Inflicting pain on Iran in Syria and blocking its ambitions in that country are, moreover, tasks that will require only a relatively modest exertion of effort.

Foreign Policy Realists Shouldn’t Be Hostile to Israel

The third national interest requires that the U.S. provide positive reinforcement for allies, and positive punishment for enemies. For the U.S. to distance itself from Israel (as President Obama did) would seemingly indicate to most objective observers that the U.S. does not necessarily reward its allies for their good behavior. This thereby incentivizes anti-U.S. policies.
Certainly, the Palestinian Arabs are not U.S. allies. The Palestinian Authority (PA) and the more extreme Muslim fundamentalist Hamas terror group in Gaza continue to incite their people against the U.S. and against Christians (the vast majority of the U.S. population) in general. They pay terrorists salaries for actions that have killed and harmed American citizens. The Palestinian leadership has routinely supported the enemies of the U.S. – Nazi Germany, the U.S.S.R., Iran (Hamas), Iraq (during the invasion of Kuwait), and others. They have even praised (and here) Osama Bin Laden, and condemned his killing by the U.S. They have a history of destabilizing the Middle East, and other nations that are our allies; including Israel, Jordan, Egypt, and Lebanon. In polls, the Palestinian people show high levels of hatred or dislike towards the U.S. and Americans. On September 11, 2001, some Palestinians celebrated in the streets at the fall of the Twin Towers.
During the past eight years, under President Obama, the U.S. worked hard to curry Palestinian favor. The U.S. boosted its annual bilateral financial aid to the PA dramatically. The Obama administration also significantly increased the U.S. aid to the UN agency UNRWA, whose sole job is to administer welfare to the Palestinian refugees. Obama worked hard to implement policies to establish daylight with Israel and show unprecedented support for the Palestinians, among others by stridently criticizing Israeli settlements and pre-emptively endorsing the Palestinian claim to statehood for the PA (which is supposed to be decided under Oslo by bilateral Palestinian-Israeli talks).
Yet, during all that time, the U.S. received few benefits from this appeasement. The PA viewed “the Obama administration’s quenchless demand for Israeli concessions,” as inadequate and not worthy of real gratitude or reward. Unlike during the Bush or Clinton administrations, the PA refused to engage in bilateral talks with the Israelis. Palestinian — and other Arab peoples — support for Americans “reached an all-time nadir.” The PA implemented a coalition government with Hamas, an anti-American terror group. The PA also continued to pay over $130 million a year, almost 10 percent of its budget, for terrorists and their families in reward for their terror attacks, which have led to the murder of over a hundred Americans, and the injury of many more.

Six Reasons Trump’s Israel Ambassador David Friedman Was Correct to Question the Narrative of ‘Occupation’

The British newspaper quoted a PA official as saying that “Mr. Friedman should realize that denying facts doesn’t mean that they don’t exist.” This is the same PA that denies archeological evidence of Jewish ties to Jerusalem and wildly claims that the Jewish Temples never existed.
Below, in no particular order, are six reasons Friedman was correct to question the Palestinian narrative of “occupation.”
1 – There has never been a Palestinian state for Israel to be “occupying” anything from.
2 – The history of Jerusalem and the West Bank, also known as Judea and Samaria, is complicated and paints a larger picture that does not necessarily comport with “occupation.”
3 – Israel considers the West Bank to be “disputed” and not “occupied” territory, with the status of the territories to be determined in future negotiations with the PA.
4 – A defining U.N. resolution leaves open the possibility of Israel maintaining control over some areas of the West Bank and Jerusalem, while international law may not consider Israel’s presence in those areas to be “occupation.”
5 – While complaining about “occupation,” the Palestinians have repeatedly refused successive offers of a state.
6 – The Bush administration committed to allowing some existing Jewish settlements to remain under a future Israeli-Palestinian deal.

Official UN Palestinian Committee Plots Anti-Israel Activities in General Assembly

The Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People (CEIRPP), the UN committee dedicated to the demonization of Israel, met to lay out a plan to advance the isolation of the Jewish state on the world stage during the fall session of the UN General Assembly. Speaking at the meeting held at UN Headquarters on September 7, 2017, the Chair of the Committee laid out the steps of the Palestinians’ scheme:
  • On November 2, 2017, the CEIRPP will host a lecture mourning the 100th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration by noted Israel hater Rashid Khaladi, Edward Said Professor of Arab Studies at Columbia University, who recently claimed that supporters of Israel will infest the Trump administration
  • In the middle of November, the CEIRPP will meet to approve 6 anti-Israel resolutions to be submitted for a vote at the UN General Assembly
  • On November 29, 2017, the CEIRPP will host its annual ‘Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People’ marking the anniversary of November 29, 1947, the day the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution which partitioned Palestine into a Jewish and an Arab state – a resolution accepted by Jews and rejected across the Arab world. Every year the event promotes a message of Palestinian victims at the hands of Israeli perpetrators combined with clear statements condemning ‘Israeli occupation’ since 1947 – not 1967 – indicating continued rejection of the existence of a Jewish state.

UNRWA under scrutiny

Thus, a U.N. agency openly violates the U.N. Convention on the Rights of ‎the Child, which states that “children … should not be forced or recruited to take part ‎in a war or join the armed forces.”‎
As per U.S. law (Title 18, Section 2339B), which prohibits providing material support or resources to designated foreign terrorist organizations, UNRWA, as a condition for receiving U.S. aid, should be required to vet its personnel to determine if there are terrorists on its payroll.
Nevertheless, the U.S. has never insisted that UNRWA do this.
The U.S. Congressional Research Service reports that the U.S. has never even asked ‎if UNRWA humanitarian funds wind up in the hands of Hamas.‎
Ismail Radwan, the religion minister in the Hamas government, told us on camera that “Hamas’ ‎relationship with UNRWA is good, very good! We assist UNRWA and Hamas ‎cooperates with UNRWA on many levels. Now a direct connection exists between ‎UNRWA and Hamas.”‎
According to Israeli MK Avi Dichter, a former director of the Shin Bet security agency who ‎now chairs the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, “almost 100%” of UNRWA workers in Gaza are active in ‎Hamas.
Now, the U.S. Congress has directed the General Accounting Office to ‎determine if UNRWA is engaged in acts of terrorism or ‎terror incitement.‎
Senator James Risch (R-Idaho), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Near East, South Asia, Central Asia and Counterterrorism, disclosed to me that his ‎office made an official request to the GAO in June for an investigation into allegations that terrorist groups are involved in ‎UNRWA education.‎
All this provides background material for the newly formed Knesset Lobby for Reform with ‎UNRWA, which was convened at the Knesset on July 19, just before the ‎UNRWA summer recess, and which will reconvene in late October, before the U.S. ‎GAO report on UNRWA’s terror involvement is released.

The U.N.’s human rights leader should allow his own staff freedom of speech

Moreover, under Zeid’s stewardship, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights has run aground twice on gross human rights abuses disclosed by its own staff members. Rather than finding protection in the Office of the High Commissioner, they instead became targets at the hands of Zeid himself, even as he tried to conceal their disclosures.
In fact, the OHCHR has racked up an appalling record of retaliation against whistleblowing staff members. In 2015, the news broke that peacekeepers in the Central African Republic were sexually abusing young boys at a camp for refugees displaced by war. Anders Kompass, the Chief of Field Operations and Technical Cooperation who reported to Zeid, transmitted the report on the abuses to French diplomats, and French law enforcement was deployed immediately to investigate and stop the abuse.
Zeid’s reaction? He suspended and investigated Kompass for “leaking” the information—although Kompass was acting within his own scope of authority–in a bid to stop horrific crimes from continuing to occur.
Kompass’ action was fully vindicated and endorsed a year later by an independent investigative panel appointed by then Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. The same panel found that Zeid had a “singleminded determination to pursue an investigation” against Kompass rather than the sexual abusers, an accusation Zeid has strongly denied.

JPost Editorial: Red Cross in Gaza

The terrorist group, which took control of Gaza from Fatah in a bloody 2007 coup, has not released any details of their condition or allowed rights groups to visit them.
Alyona Synenko, an ICRC spokeswoman, said she could not confirm the details of Tuesday’s meeting between Red Cross chairman Peter Maurer and Sinwar, other than that Maurer repeated his request for permission to visit the captive Israelis.
She said only that the issue was one of many they discussed.
Hamas’s website said only that Sinwar “affirmed that all institutions will be open for the Red Cross to verify that standards of international humanitarian law are being implemented.”
This would indeed be the politically correct statement to make, but Israel should not wait for this arch-terrorist to keep his promise.
Three months ago, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman slammed international human rights groups for not even trying to contact the captives.
He declared then that Israel would suspend humanitarian improvements for Gaza residents until “the Red Cross at least visits them [the captives].”
Until that happens, Israel must not yield to any further Hamas demands, but instead should offer the jihadists reciprocity. No more visits to Hamas terrorists serving sentences in Israeli prisons would be a good start.

Isi Leibler: The prisoner exchange imbroglio

Despite declarations not to capitulate to outrageous demands, the Israeli government has until now — under enormous public pressure — succumbed to Hamas blackmail. Since 1948, Israel has released over 7,000 Palestinian prisoners in return for 19 captive Israelis. In October 2011, 1,027 terrorists — including the most vicious murderers — were exchanged for captive soldier Gilad Schalit.
Many of those released promptly resumed their terrorist activities. One, Mahmoud Qawasmeh, dispatched the murderers of three teenage boys in 2014. Another, Yahya Sinwar, is currently the Hamas leader in Gaza.
In 2012, a committee formed by then-Defense Minister Ehud Barak, headed by former Supreme Court President Meir Shamgar, recommended measures to ensure that hostage deals are not determined by public emotion and media hysteria. Regrettably, these recommendations were never codified as law by the Knesset. The argument was that if implemented, future Israeli captives would be killed immediately.
Paying any price is unsustainable, reduces Israel’s power of deterrence and jeopardizes national security. No country should allow itself to be subjected to terrorist extortion.
Grotesquely distorted swaps turn Hamas leaders into heroes; provide evidence that kidnapped hostages are Israel’s Achilles’ heel; incentivize further kidnappings; demonstrate that terror is more effective than negotiations; and encourage incarcerated terrorists to remain optimistic that, ultimately, they will be released.
Their lust for our destruction is insatiable and continued capitulation to disproportionate demands will inevitably culminate in greater tragedies.

PM slams Hamas’ ‘unbelievable cruelty’ to Israeli captives

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has asked the Red Cross to assist in retrieving Israeli civilians and bodies of fallen soldiers held in Gaza by Hamas.
Netanyahu told the president of the International Committee of the Red Cross, Peter Maurer, that he is concerned that Hamas refuses to release any information about the captive Israelis. He accused the group of “unbelievable cruelty.”
Hamas is believed to hold the bodies of Staff Sgt. Oron Shaul and Lt. Hadar Goldin, who were killed in the Gaza Strip in separate battles during Operation Protective Edge in the summer of 2014. Ethiopian Israeli Avera Mengistu and Bedouin Hisham al-Sayed, both suffering from mental health issues, crossed into Gaza voluntarily in 2014 and 2015 and are believed to have been captured by Hamas. A fifth Israeli, Jumaa Abu Ghanima, crossed the border into Gaza in 2016, and his fate remains unknown.
At a news conference Wednesday with Maurer in Jerusalem, Netanyahu said the ICRC can help in “retrieving the bodies of our fallen soldiers but also in bringing back to Israel these defenseless, helpless civilians who are held by Hamas against the contravention of all international norms.”

Majority of Palestinians don’t believe Trump is serious about peace talks, poll finds

An overwhelming majority of Palestinians believe that US President Donald Trump is not serious about renewing peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian leadership in Ramallah, a public opinion poll found.
A total of 79.3% of Palestinians believe Trump is either somewhat or very unserious about renewing the negotiations, whereas 11.9% hold that the American president is either somewhat or very serious about reviving them.
Since Trump entered the White House on January 20, he and a number of his aides have met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas many times, with the stated goal of achieving “a historic peace deal,” but they have yet to achieve a significant breakthrough with the two parties.
The poll of 1,199 people in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip was conducted on August 13-21 by the Jerusalem Media and Communications Center, a Ramallah-area polling and information center. The margin of error was 3%.
The survey also found that a majority of Palestinians prefer peace talks to armed conflict with Israel.
Some 54.2% of respondents said they somewhat or strongly agree with peace negotiations with Israel, while 41.9% said that they somewhat or strongly disagree with them. Meanwhile, 56.1% of Palestinians said they oppose attacks against Israelis compared to 28.8% who said they support them.

Backgrounder: Tanzim

In late July 2017, Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority (PA) and the head of the Fatah movement that dominates it, “mobilized the shadowy militia elements of his party,” for protests against Israeli efforts to improve security near the Temple Mount. Among these elements was a group known as Tanzim. According to Grant Rumley, an analyst with the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, a Washington D.C.-based think tank: “In activating the Tanzim, a faction of his own party that Abbas has struggled to control, the Palestinian President was sanctioning his people’s unrest (“The End of the Abbas Era, The American Interest, Aug. 9, 2017).”
Rumley stated that by calling on Tanzim, the PA head was effectively ending the “Abbas Era” himself, while edging towards a violent abyss; the “closest the Israeli-Palestinian conflict got to an actual third intifada (violent uprising.)” This raises the question: Who is the Tanzim faction—and how does the media cover the group?
The Fatah Tanzim (Arabic for “organization”) was formed in 1995 by Yasser Arafat to serve as a counterbalance to rival groups, such as Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Unlike PIJ or Hamas, however, Tanzim had more of a base in the West Bank (Judea and Samaria). Indeed, Tanzim is an “insider” organization, with close ties to Fatah, according to the analyst and journalist Arlene Kushner (Disclosed: Inside the Palestinian Authority and the PLO, Pavilion Press, 2004, pgs. 138-141).
Yet, unlike the current leadership of Fatah, which was in Tunis at the time, many Tanzim members were jailed and “seasoned veterans of the first intifada (Kushner, Disclosed: Inside the Palestinian Authority and the PLO).” Further, although its members are part of Fatah, they are of a different, younger clique—one removed from the group’s founding generation.
As Kushner noted, “The Tanzim actually offers young men not only a way to identify but also a safety value to expressing grievances against what they see as the corrupt nepotism of the Tunis elite.” Tanzim provides other benefits for Fatah leadership, as well.

IsraellyCool: Call Guinness World Records, World’s Oldest Person (Palestinian) Found

By my calculations, grandma is at least 3000 years old (and I am not the only one to do the math). I have so many questions. Like, what is your secret to longevity: Abstinence? Whisky? Focusing all your energy on hating Israel?
And what was Joshua like? King David? His son King Solomon? Inquiring minds want to know!
Update: Looks like our Jordanian friend deleted his tweet about grandma, so that Guinness World Records will not be broken. At least not yet.
Update: In 2012, there were claims of a 124-year-old palestinian woman. But she did not make the record books because she refused to remove her hijab (Muslim headscarf) for a television appearance as stipulated by Guinness. You can’t make this up (actually, you can).

Iranian Spy Service Threatening, Blackmailing Global Media Outlets

Iran’s clandestine spy network has been threatening and blackmailing scores of journalists, even going so far as to detain and threaten the family members of these reporters, in order to ensure positive coverage in global media outlets, according to a new report that estimates at least 50 international journalists have been threatened in just the past year.
Iran uses its network of spies and its hardline judiciary to threaten journalists with punishment and in many cases detain family members in order to use them as leverage against Western reporters, according to a new report by Reporters Without Borders, or RSF, a watchdog group that advocates for freedom of the press.
Outlets such as the BBC and Voice of America have been subjected to threats and in some cases have had their computers hijacked by Iran, according to the report, which states that “all international media outlets with Persian-language services are concerned” about the Islamic Republic’s often-secret efforts to blackmail reporters in order to gain positive headlines.
The effort is just one part of how Iran blackmails, threatens, and manipulates journalists and dissident voices in order to suppress coverage of its human rights abuses and other illicit activities, such as an ongoing massive military buildup aimed at confronting Western nations such as the United States.

Feds Charging Former Turkish Minister of Laundering Millions of Iranian $ in US

Federal prosecutors in New York on Wednesday charged former Turkish government minister Mehmet Zafer Caglayan and senior executives of Turkey’s state-owned Halkbank of conspiracy to launder hundreds of millions of dollars through the US financial system in the service of Iran, in return for tens of millions of dollars in bribes, Bloomberg and Reuters reported Thursday morning.
The new charges could generate yet another conflict between the US and Turkey. To avoid this outcome, President Trump’s close associate Rudy Giuliani, who is the attorney representing Reza Zarrab, has met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to discuss getting the entire case dismissed.
Erdogan, predictably, accused New York federal prosecutor Preet Bharara, who arrested Zarrab, of being under the influence of Erdogan’s sworn enemy Fetullah Gulen, who is in exile in Pennsylvania. Since then President Trump has fired Bharara who was also investigating the case against the Trump campaign’s collusion with the Russians.
Prosecutors said that Mehmet Zafer Caglayan, who was Turkey’s minister of the economy under Erdogan at the time, helped to orchestrate the money laundering conspiracy using the services of Halkbank executives who carried out “deceptive transactions.” The same prosecutors believe the former minister was compensated with tens of millions of dollars in cash and jewelry for his service to Iran, in violation of US law.

ISIS plots to poison food in US, UK supermarkets

Following a wave of ramming attacks across Europe, as well as more conventional terror attacks including stabbings, shootings, and bombings, the ISIS terror organization is preparing a silent terror wave against American and British consumers.
While recent attacks in continental Europe have drawn front-page coverage around the globe, including a pair of attacks in Spain last month which left 16 civilians dead, ISIS terrorists have been quietly laying the groundwork for a far less bombastic – but potentially deadly – plot against the US and UK.
Security experts have uncovered evidence Islamic State terrorists are plotting to poison food in supermarkets across the US and Britain, according to a report by SITE Intelligence Group, an American terrorism monitor.
According to SITE, ISIS has been instructing members in the West to inject a cyanide-based mixture into food being sold at supermarkets.
Since Iraqi security forces recaptured Mosul from ISIS in July, additional evidence of a terror plot targeting Western food supplies was found, the Italian ANSA news outlet reported.
Evidence of poisoned food tests were found in Mosul, with Iraqi prisoners used as “human guinea pigs”, the Daily Mail reported.

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