September 21, 2020

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09/12 Links: What Joe Biden told donors at a J Street fundraiser; Trump Admin Optimistic Saudi Arabia Could Be Next to Make Peace with Israel; Iranian champion wrestler Navid Afkari executed

http://elderofziyon.blogspot.com/2020/09/0912-links-what-joe-biden-told-donors.html

From Ian:


What Joe Biden told donors at a J Street fundraiser
Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden addressed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s indefinitely postponed plans to annex portions of the West Bank during a virtual fundraiser hosted by J Street’s political action committee on Thursday.

In his remarks, obtained by Jewish Insider, Biden said that while “it’s a good thing” that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s plan to annex parts of the West Bank is “off the table for now,” — with the announcement of the U.S. brokered Israel-United Arab Emirates normalization deal — “I don’t know how much is off the table in terms of Netanyahu’s notions.”

Biden told the group that he assumes “Netanyahu knows and the Israelis know my position” on the matter. “I’ve made clear that I’m going to oppose annexation as president,” he said. “A two-state solution is the only way to ensure Israel’s long-term security while sustaining its Jewish and democratic identity. I don’t know how they do it without a two-state solution. And it’s also the only way to ensure Palestinian rights to a state of their own.”

The Democratic nominee remarked that “Trump has put Israel in danger by tearing up the Iran nuclear deal” and “has undermined the stability of self-determination for the Palestinians, undercutting hope for a viable two-state solution any chance that he gets.”

Regarding the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, Biden said, “Like everything else he’s inherited in life, Trump squandered what we left him. So we have to pick up the pieces, and it’s going to be hard. I’ve said that if Iran returns to compliance I will reenter the deal with Iran, and I will move to do that. I’ll work with our allies to make it longer and stronger.” Biden noted that even though Netanyahu was a vocal opponent of the deal, “a lot of the Israeli military supported the agreement.”

Ben Shnider, vice president of political affairs and strategy at J Street, told JI it was “thrilling” for the group to host the former vice president as he “laid out an inspiring vision for how his administration will act to seriously pursue Israeli-Palestinian peace, reverse the terrible damage that Donald Trump has done to our foreign policy and defeat the forces of white nationalist bigotry that pose such a tremendous threat to the American Jewish community.”

After 9/11: can we still talk about Islamist terror?

Today marks the anniversary of the devastating 9/11 terror attacks. Nineteen years on, the fundamental threat of Islamist terrorism remains across much of the world.

Since 9/11, the UK has suffered multiple deadly Islamist terror attacks of its own. This includes the 7/7 London bombings in 2005, which claimed the lives of 52 people, and the 2017 Manchester Arena bombings which killed 22 people attending an Ariana Grande concert. The country has also suffered other deadly Islamist terror incidents, such as the March 2017 Westminster attack, the June 2017 London Bridge attack, and the November 2019 London Bridge stabbings. The perpetrator of the most recent attack, Usman Khan, was an ex-prisoner who was released from jail on license in 2018 – halfway through a 16-year prison sentence for terrorism-related offences. Khan had been participating in Home Office-run rehabilitation schemes for those involved in terrorist activity – eventually carrying out his deadly attack at an offender rehabilitation conference.

While expressing his concerns over the growth of far-right extremism, Neil Basu, the UK’s counter-terrorism policing chief, has made clear that the greatest terror threat still comes from jihadists.

In recent years, however, there has been an increasing amount of thought-policing when it comes to discussion of terrorism – particularly Islamist extremism. This was demonstrated earlier in the year, when The Times revealed that, following calls by the National Association of Muslim Police (NAMP), counter-terrorism police officials had considered dropping the term ‘Islamist’ when referring to religiously motivated terror attacks carried out by Muslim fundamentalists.

Sir Robert Menzies and Australia’s Jewish Community.

In an ABC documentary series to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the Liberal Party of Australia, the daughter of Sir Robert Menzies, Heather Henderson, recalled that “sectarianism was alive and well in the fifties” and that her “father fought against that always.”
credit: Menzies Research Centre

Appreciating that he was at the helm of what was then a heavily Protestant-based party, she proceeded to say that the Liberal Party founder “went to great pains to consult and talk to the Jews, the Catholics and everybody he could.”

A great deal, of course, has been written about the legacy of Australia’s longest-serving Prime Minister, but what remains under explored is the religious dimension to his Prime Ministership, and, in particular, the important relationship he cultivated with Australia’s small yet significant Jewish community.

What, then, was Menzies’s relationship with the Jewish community? How was it forged and in what ways did it manifest itself in the post-war Australia he led as Prime Minister?

As well as helping to salve the long-running sectarian conflict between Australia’s Protestants and Catholics, Menzies enjoyed an excellent rapport with Australia’s Jewish community. As Josh Frydenberg and David Kemp acknowledge, “Sir Robert Menzies exhibited a marked degree of respect and admiration for the Jewish people” throughout his life. As a friend of Israel, he deeply respected the Jewish legacy for its profound contribution to Western civilisation and admired the Jewish people for their cultural traditions of scholarship, civic-mindedness, and enduring sense of kinship.

Frequently invited to speak at ceremonies organised by the Jewish community, Menzies praised the Jewish people for their contribution to Australia. Remarking that he felt “completely at home” in the company of the Jewish community, Menzies enjoyed friendships with Jewish community leaders and rabbis — including Maurice Ashkenasy, Baron Snider, Sir Israel Brodie and Herman Sanger.

Trump Admin Optimistic Saudi Arabia Could Be Next to Make Peace with Israel

White House senior adviser Jared Kushner hinted on Friday that Saudi Arabia could be the next Arab nation to reach a historic peace agreement with Israel.

Speaking to reporters following the administration’s surprise announcement that Bahrain would follow in the United Arab Emirates’ footsteps and normalize relations with the Jewish state, Kushner expressed optimism that other Arab nations will also move to make peace.

Bahrain became the second country in recent days to announce a historic peace deal with Israel that will see it normalize diplomatic relations after decades of hostility. Kushner and other senior White House officials participated last week in the first flight from Israel to the UAE, which was permitted to fly over Saudi air space. Asked if Saudi Arabia, one of the most influential Gulf Arab nations, could be next to make peace, Kushner expressed hope.

“I do believe it’s an inevitability that all countries in the Middle East” will eventually make peace with Israel, Kushner said during a phone call with reporters. “I think [the agreement] was noticed by everyone in the region, how well the deal with Israel and UAE was received.”

Arab leaders now “recognize the approach taken in the past hasn’t worked and they realize their people want to see a more vibrant future,” Kushner said.

After UAE and Bahrain deals, Trump said aiming for direct Israel-Morocco flights

US President Donald Trump is looking toward following up the landmark normalization deals between Israel and the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain with the introduction of direct flights between Israel and Morocco, Channel 12 news reported Saturday.

Morocco is considered an ally of the United States, and has long maintained informal but close intelligence ties with Israel.

Though the countries have no formal relations, Morocco has hosted Israeli leaders, and Israelis are allowed to visit there. Some 3,000 Jews live in Morocco, a fraction of the number from before the 1948 creation of Israel, but still the largest community in the Arab world.

The unsourced TV report said efforts to reach a breakthrough on Israel-Morocco ties some time ago had failed due to unspecified reasons, but the US was hoping the more limited gesture of direct flights was achievable.

The television report also said Washington was continuing to push for Oman and Sudan to forge diplomatic ties with Israel, as part of an effort to rack up as many accomplishments on the global stage as possible before the November 3 elections.
Morocco’s Prime Minister Saad-Eddine El Othmani delivers a speech in Marrakech, Morocco, January 30, 2018. (AP/Mosa’ab Elshamy)

Last month Moroccan Prime Minister Saad-Eddine El Othmani said Rabat would not normalize relations with Israel. But days later he appeared to walk those statements back, saying his comments in opposition to warming ties were made in his capacity as leader of the Islamist PJD party, not as prime minister.

Seth Frantzman: Which Islamic countries are supporting the Bahrain deal and why?

Turkey has been one of the main opponents of Israeli peace deals or normalization. It is becoming the most hostile country in the region to Israel. After news of the Bahrain deal broke its foreign ministry condemned the deal. Turkey’s Anadolu media claimed that Bahrain’s “opposition” condemned the deal as well.

This could be part of an attempt by Iran, Turkey and Qatar to increase support for opposition groups in Bahrain. In 2017 Bahrain, the UAE and Saudi Arabia broke relations with Qatar so Doha has a reason to push to destabilize Gulf states that seek to isolate it.

In contrast to Turkey, Egypt has welcomed the deal. Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi welcomed the deal as an important step. Egypt has quietly played an important role in the regional strategic setup that now ties Israel to the UAE and Egypt. This is part of a larger framework that links Egypt to Saudi Arabia and Bahrain and a consensus that they have on Libya and other issues. Greece an the UAE are working for Egypt, for instance, to confront Turkey’s increased aggression in the eastern Mediterranean.

Turkey has illegally sent weapons to Tripoli to back one side of the civil war in Libya. Thus the Egyptian support for Bahrain in the deal is also linked to the wider regional contest with Turkey. Turkey supports the Muslim Brotherhood, which is linked to the former ruler of Egypt, Mohammed Morsi, who Sisi replaced in 2013 when he came to power.

The overall breakdown in support and coverage of the Bahrain-Israel deal illustrates a growing consensus in the region. On the one side is recognition that Israel and normalization with Israel can be a positive step. On the other is Iran and Turkey and their allies who work to isolate Israel and the Gulf. Because most of the media from Ankara to Tehran and Riyadh is either controlled by the various states or pro-government, the coverage breaks down clearly either for or against the normalization, with little debate or nuance.

Major Jewish Groups Hail Israel-Bahrain Normalization Accord

American Jewish organizations on Friday hailed the announcement of a peace agreement between Israel and the Gulf Arab kingdom of Bahrain — the second such deal between the Jewish state and an Arab state in less than a month.

News of the Israel-Bahrain agreement — which followed a similar accord between Israel and the United Arab Emirates announced on Aug. 13 — was tweeted by US President Donald Trump after he spoke by phone to both Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

William Daroff — CEO of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations — tweeted, “The Bahrain-Israel peace agreement represents another step in the right direction for the Middle East. The rapidly shifting dynamics in the region signal a new era of cooperation, with rejectionism and extremism being set aside to give peaceful coexistence a chance.”

AIPAC — the leading pro-Israel lobbying organization in Washington, DC — said the agreement was “another historic demonstration of a new promising era in Israeli-Arab relations.”

“These diplomatic achievements are a testament to the fact that a strong and secure Israel, backed by the United States, is critical to bringing reconciliation to the region,” AIPAC asserted. “The old and unproductive paradigm of boycotts and rejectionism is collapsing, and a new model of peace, prosperity and cooperation is emerging.”

Ronald Lauder — president of the World Jewish Congress (WJC) — said, “It is clear to me that the winds of change are being felt across the Middle East. The regional embrace of Israel as a full and equal neighbor by Bahrain, following in the wake of the Israel-United Arab Emirates agreement, is emblematic of the changes taking place in the Arab world.”

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) praised the courage shown by both Israel and Bahrain.

“Making peace between nations in this manner is a courageous action that will help make the region a safer and more tolerant place,” Jonathan Greenblatt — the ADL’s CEO — said. “We hope the Bahraini and UAE agreements lead others in the region to revisit longstanding opposition to Israel and to move the region away from hate and extremism towards peace and reconciliation.”

Lebanon’s Hezbollah condemns Bahrain move to normalize Israel ties

Lebanon’s Iranian-backed Hezbollah group said on Saturday it strongly condemned Bahrain’s move to normalize ties with Israel as a “great betrayal” of the Palestinian people.

Bahrain joined the United Arab Emirates in agreeing to normalize relations with Israel on Friday, a move forged partly through shared fears of Iran.

In its statement on Saturday, Hezbollah said the move by the “tyrannical regime in Bahrain” was done at the behest of the United States. The comments followed earlier condemnation by Iran’s foreign ministry and Revolutionary Guards.

Iran’s FM calls Bahrain’s move to normalize ties with Israel ‘shameful’

Iran’s foreign ministry has described Bahrain’s move to normalize ties with Israel as shameful, state television reported on Saturday.

“The rulers of Bahrain will from now on be complicit in the crimes of the Zionist regime, which is a threat to the security of the region and the Muslim world,” the broadcaster quoted a foreign ministry statement as saying.

Iran said on Saturday that Bahrain’s move to normalize relations with Israel meant it would be complicit in Israeli policies which threatened regional security, Iranian state TV reported.

Bahrain’s agreement, which was announced by US President Donald Trump on Friday, was partly forged because of shared wariness of Iran.

Iran’s foreign ministry said that it would hold the governments of Bahrain and its allies responsible for any insecurity caused by Israel in the Gulf region.

Additionally, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, a special adviser on international affairs to the speaker of Iran’s parliament, called the agreement a great betrayal to the Islamic cause and Palestinians.

“The imprudent leaders in UAE, #Bahrain must not pave the way for the Zionist schemes. They should learn lessons from history. Tomorrow is late! The US lifeline has worn out for years” tweeted Amir-Abdollahian, also a former deputy foreign minister.

Palestinians strongly condemn Israel-Bahrain deal, withdraw ambassador

The Palestinian Authority leadership on Friday strongly condemned and rejected Bahrain’s decision to establish relations with Israel, calling it a “betrayal of Jerusalem, al-Aqsa Mosque and the Palestinian issue.”

The PA Foreign Ministry announced it has decided to immediately recall its ambassador to Bahrain for consultations in protest of the normalization agreement.

Last month, the Palestinian leadership issued a similar response to the normalization agreement between Israel and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). It also decided to recall its ambassador to Abu Dhabi.

The PA leadership said the Bahraini decision would “support the legalization of the cruel crimes of the Israeli occupation against our Palestinian people at a time when the occupation [sic] state is continuing to control the Palestinian lands and annex them by military force; is working toward Judaizing Jerusalem and controlling the Islamic and Christian holy sites; and is committing crimes against the Palestinian people.”

Anti-Netanyahu protesters to gather in DC amid UAE-Israel deal signing

A number of Israelis living in various cities throughout the US are planning to gather in Washington on Tuesday, as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu arrives to sign the normalization deal with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, N12 reported.

“We are coming together from all over the United States and the world to reiterate that a prime minister charged with a crime cannot continue in office,” a release from the protesters read.

Protesters intend to gather, holding signs that show that while they support normalization with the UAE, they still are reluctant to support the actual signing of the agreement, N12 reported.

The protesters want to portray the message to the rest of the world that the occasion is not a legitimate one because the prime minister who signed the agreement is ruling while accused of crimes and is risking the status of Israel as a democratic country.

“While we support the peace agreement with the U.A.E., it is not possible that the prime minister makes political decisions with other countries on his own without consulting any other government official, and without the approval of the government or the Knesset,” the release stated.

Sources: Trump Nominees for Afghanistan and Germany Ambassadors ’Not Confirmable’

The Trump administration’s ambassadorial nominees to Afghanistan and Germany will not be approved by Senate Republicans, according to three congressional aides who cite the nominees’ isolationist and anti-Israel views.

The senior Republican congressional aides said that the nomination of retired U.S Army Colonel Douglas Macgregor is almost certain to fail if it comes to a vote in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. The nomination of William Ruger, a U.S. Navy reserve officer and key figure in Charles Koch’s philanthropic empire, to be ambassador to Afghanistan, is unlikely to get a vote from the committee before the November election.

The Fox News host Tucker Carlson is linked to both nominees: Macgregor has been a frequent guest on Carlson’s show, arguing that there is no evidence Iran “wants to attack” the United States and that neoconservatives have manipulated America’s foreign policy to benefit Israel.

And Charles Koch was a major funder of Carlson’s Daily Caller news site, a relationship Ruger likely facilitated in his role leading the Charles Koch Institute.

The White House formally submitted Ruger’s nomination to the Senate on Thursday. The next ambassador to Afghanistan will play a critical role as the administration works to prevent the country from descending into chaos.

Ruger, whose nomination is unlikely to see a vote due to the congressional schedule before the election, is viewed by his supporters as an opponent of U.S. military intervention who would work to limit the U.S. presence in Afghanistan and the region at large. He was described on Wednesday by Arta Moeini, research director at the Institute for Peace and Diplomacy, as a “genuine anti-interventionist” who believes in a “less militarized” American foreign policy. Moeini, who discussed the nomination during a panel discussion earlier this week, pointed to Ruger and Macgregor as good examples of Trump’s isolationist tendencies.

Macgregor’s nomination, submitted to the Senate in late July, was also met with outrage from Republican senators, who pointed to his controversial comments about Jewish Americans manipulating U.S. foreign policy and his attempts to downplay the threat from Iran.

Israel and Qatar have an unlikely partnership for dealing with Gaza

A deal brokered by the emirate of Qatar brought the latest round of low-level hostilities between Israel and Hamas-controlled Gaza to an end on August 31.

The agreement includes the resumption of Qatari aid to the coastal enclave. The projects Doha committed to in brokering the ceasefire, according to regional media reports, include plans to build a power station operated by Qatar, the provision of $34 million for humanitarian aid, provision of 20,000 COVID-19 testing kits by Qatar to the Health Ministry, and a number of initiatives to reduce unemployment in the Gaza Strip.

In other respects, the deal appears to simply restore the status quo that held prior to Hamas’s commencement of the escalation several weeks ago. Concerns by the rulers of Gaza regarding the possible spread of the coronavirus, and Israel’s decision to reduce the electricity supply to Gaza during the escalation, appear to have dampened Hamas’s enthusiasm to continue this round: Thus far, then, just another minor spat in the open-ended standoff between Israel and the Islamist enclave to its southwest.

The role of Qatar and its emissary Mohammad al-Emadi, however, is worthy of further consideration. The small Gulf emirate generally adopts a regional stance antithetical to the Jewish state. During the Arab Spring, its influential Al Jazeera satellite channel fanned the flames of popular Islamist revolt. Its efforts greatly contributed to the brief summer of the Muslim Brotherhood in various parts of the Middle East. It was a strong supporter of the Morsi government in Egypt, which for a moment appeared to be the possible bearer of strategic disaster for Israel, raising the specter of the abrogation of the 1979 peace treaty.

Hamas loses appeal against EU terror listing

Hamas has again lost an appeal against the EU’s decision to list it as terrorist organisation.

It has been appealing against the bloc’s decision to add it to the EU sanctions list in 2001.

Its inclusion in the list means all its assets are frozen.

On Thursday, it renewed its appeal against the decision at the European Court of Justice.

The panel rejected its bid, citing evidence from the UK and the US in listing it as a terrorist organisation.

“For these reasons, the Court (Seventh Chamber) declares and orders the appeal is dismissed,” it ruled.

“It orders Hamas to bear its own costs and it is ordered to bear those incurred by the Council of the European Union and the European Commission.”

Hamas, which has armed and political wings, has argued that the EU had made a “mistaken characterisation” of it as a terrorist group and claimed the listing is “not substantiated by any evidence” to justify it.

The EU’s General Court has rejected previous attempts by the militant group to recover its assets in Europe after a series of decisions by the European Council in 2010, 2014 and 2017.

Dominic Raab hits out at Iran’s destabilising ties with Hezbollah and Hamas

Britain’s foreign secretary on Tuesday said Iran was working with Hezbollah and Hamas to foment instability throughout the Middle East, as legislators pressed for Britain to support reimposing sanctions on Tehran.

Dominic Raab was answering a question from Tom Tugendhat, a fellow Conservative and chairman of the House of Commons foreign affairs select committee.

Mr Tugendhat had said that every country had the right to restore sanctions if Iran was breaking the 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers.

The mechanism for “snapping back” the sanctions was enshrined in the deal.

Mr Raab said the issues posed by Iran went beyond the agreement, which curbed Iran’s nuclear ambitions in return for the lifting of sanctions.

“He is absolutely right also to point to the role that Iran plays, not just with its own activities it engages with directly, but also with Hamas and Hezbollah and other proxies throughout the Middle East as a source of tension and instability,” he said.

“We are working with all our allies to try and make sure, limit and hold to account Iran for these activities.”

Lebanese Army discovers more explosive material at Beirut Port – report

Lebanon’s Army found more explosive materials stored in 143 containers as a result of search operations carried out at the Beirut port, according to a report by the Daily Star on Friday.

The report comes following a deadly explosion that killed almost 200 and destroyed much of the port area and surrounding infrastructure. News of the discovery came from a Lebanese Army officer, who told current President Michel Aoun during a meeting on Friday. It is estimated that the recently discovered material, which has been reported to be highly dangerous ammonium nitrate, the same material that caused the explosion in early August, calculates at 4.35 tons and has been stored in the area since 2004-2005.

During the meeting between Aoun, army officers and different NGOs representatives, the former stressed the importance of continuing rubble clearing operations, securing aid and assessing the damage to infrastructure in the area as part of the reconstruction process.

Aoun also said that organizations involved in the immediate aftermath of the explosions have thus far produced positive results. The Lebanese Army also commended the work of different organizations, which recovered 24 bodies from the rubble, including nine firefighters and workers, while also noting that an additional nice people were still missing.

MEMRI: Editorial In ISIS Weekly Al-Naba: 9/11 Was A Turning-Point In Modern Muslim History, But Al-Qaeda Sold Its Achievements To The Muslims Brotherhood

Ahead of the anniversary of 9/11, ISIS’s Al-Naba weekly published an editorial titled “From 9/11 to the Muslim Caliphate,”[1] which described 9/11 as “a tremendous event” which caused great losses to the enemy, but also marked the beginning of the new crusades against Islam and thus caused much harm to the Muslims as well. The editorial criticizes Al-Qaeda for focusing on fighting the U.S. and its allies, while ignoring the Muslims’ other enemies, and while betraying the real goal of the ongoing war between Islam and its enemies: the establishment of an Islamic Caliphate acting to exalt the word of Allah. According to the editorial, Al-Qaeda betrayed this goal when it let others reap the fruits of its victories, for example groups like the Muslim Brotherhood (MB), which actually serve their own interests and those of America. ISIS, it stresses, is the only group that has not deviated from the correct path and remains loyal to the cause of true monotheism and the Islamic Caliphate.

The following are translated excerpts from the editorial:
“The blessed 9/11 attacks were a tremendous event and a turning point in modern Muslim history. Their importance lay not in the magnitude of the direct hit on America – although their scope in terms of fatalities and damage was [indeed] great – but in the fact that they marked the beginning of the [new] crusades against the Islamic countries, wars that have been ongoing for two decades in various regions and which, with the help of Allah the Almighty, are soon to come to an end. Everyone realizes that the effects of this long war are felt not only by the crusaders, regardless of the fatalities and economic depletion they have sustained. In the Muslim countries as well, the war has resulted in hundreds of thousands of people dying or being wounded, evicted or taken captive…

“[Some jihad leaders] chose the direction of leading the jihad fighters to target America and its allies until they fell or at least were forced to leave the Muslim lands. These [jihad leaders] were guided by a ‘deterministic’ approach, out of touch with reality, which caused them to believe that toppling America would [automatically] result in the founding of the Islamic State, as though Islam and the Muslims have no other enemies in the world except for America…

“Many infidel countries and [political] parties used the defeat of America and its allies, who were preoccupied with the war of attrition against them, as an opportunity to increase their influence and strengthen their armies and economies. The tawaghit[2] who govern the Muslim countries took the opportunity to torment [the Muslims] for their support of jihad and the jihad fighters. Many apostate parties took the opportunity to offer their services to the crusaders in [the latter’s] war against the monotheists. They offered to fight alongside them in return for their friendship and various other profits…

Seth Frantzman: Book reveals Trump’s Soleimani gamble was right to downplay ‘war’ fear

US President Donald Trump gambled in striking at Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Quds Force commander Qasem Soleimani in January. Instead of caving to fears that a war might result, he went forward with the bold decision to kill Iran’s most well-known soldier, the shadowy general who had threatened Israel, the US and allies across the Middle East. Iran couldn’t afford to go to war with the US, knowing it would result in the end of the Iranian regime, and preferred to boast of “revenge” while only carrying out ballistic missile attacks that didn’t kill any US soldiers.

These are the revelations that appear in the new book ‘Rage’ by Bob Woodward. Excerpts from the book have already rocked Washington with claims that Trump downplayed COVID-19 and more revelations, are likely to come in the lead-up to the US elections. However, when it comes to the Soleimani hit, the book paints a picture of a calculating Trump who made a decisive decision that went against the fear-mongering of experts, politicians and advisors.

According to accounts published online, the powerful US Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, who is a key foreign policy player and close to Trump, was concerned about striking Soleimani. He warned that it was “over the top” and a “giant step” and that it would lead to “almost total war.” He suggested striking someone lower level, an attack that Iran could “absorb.”

MEMRI: Iran Reacts To UAE-Israel Normalization: UAE Rulers Are ‘Traitors’; The Agreement ‘Heralds A Dangerous Future… Particularly For The Residents Of The UAE’s Glass Palace’

Iran’s reaction to the August 13, 2020 announcement of UAE-Israel normalization was harsh condemnation and threats to the UAE. Iranian officials, headed by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, called the UAE rulers “traitors to the Islamic ummah and Palestine” and “partners in the crimes of the Zionist regime,” and accused them of opening the Gulf to the Israelis.

Ayatollah Mohammad Hassan Akhtari, chairman of the Islamic Revolutionary Committee for the Support of Palestine, said that Tehran saw the move as a threat to Iran. Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) announced that “the UAE’s gross betrayal of the collective goal of the Islamic ummah… will lead it to share the fate of others who betrayed the pure blood of the martyrs.”

Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, aide to the Majlis speaker, advised the UAE rulers to recall what happened to the late Egyptian president Anwar Sadat, who was assassinated after signing the Israel-Egypt peace agreement, and added that the response to any incident initiated by the Mossad in Iran or in the region would also include the UAE, not just Israel. Like others, Amir-Abdollahian warned other countries – the Shi’ite-majority Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, which has a large Shi’ite minority – not to follow in the UAE’s footsteps, because that would create domestic crises endangering their regimes. In addition, Iranian officials appealed to international institutions and organizations to thwart the UAE-Israel normalization initiative.

Iranian champion wrestler Navid Afkari executed

Iranian wrestler Navid Afkari was executed on Saturday after being convicted of stabbing a security guard to death during anti-government protests in 2018, state media said, in a case that has sparked international outcry.

Afkari was executed “this morning after legal procedures were carried out at the insistence of the parents and the family of the victim,” the media quoted the head of the justice department in southern Fars province, Kazem Mousavi, as saying.

Afkari was convicted of killing Hassan Turkman, a water company security guard, and other charges. Iran’s Supreme Court rejected a review of the case in late August.

Afkari, a 27-year-old Greco-Roman wrestler, had said he was tortured into making a false confession, according to his family and activists, and his attorney says there is no proof of his guilt. Iran’s judiciary has denied Afkari’s claims.7

Afkari’s attorney accused authorities of denying his client a family visit before the execution, as required by law.

Sarsour, Other Left-Wing Activists Accuse Chicago Police of Framing Jussie Smollett

An open letter cosigned by Linda Sarsour and other left-wing activists accuses the Chicago Police Department of fabricating the charge that actor Jussie Smollett concocted a hate crime against himself in 2019.

“Jussie faces false charges of felony disorderly conduct and is still being forced to fight back against a relentless and vicious smear campaign initiated by the Chicago Police Department and uncritically disseminated by the media,” the letter states. “We believe Jussie, not the CPD.”

Sarsour, a former co-chair of the Women’s March, has also pushed anti-Israel conspiracy theories. She was briefly condemned by Joe Biden’s campaign this year for anti-Semitic remarks before she received a private apology.

The letter Sarsour cosigned couches its support for Smollett in terms of the Black Lives Matter movement.

“At a time when the people of Chicago are demanding community control of the police and when our movement for Black Lives demands that police be defunded and demilitarized, Chicago police and prosecutors continue to expend precious public resources to cover up a hate crime and renew their fabricated case against Jussie Smollett,” the letter states.

Other signers include Danny Glover, Angela Davis, and LisaGay Hamilton.

Pence drops out of fundraiser hosted by QAnon fans who shared anti-Semitic posts

US Vice President Mike Pence has canceled plans to attend a Trump campaign fundraiser in Montana following revelations that the event’s hosts had expressed support for the QAnon conspiracy theory as well as anti-Semitic conspiracy theories.

President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign told The Associated Press on Saturday that Pence’s schedule had been changed, but the campaign did not provide a reason or say whether the fundraiser might be held at a later time. The change comes after it was reported Wednesday that hosts Cayrn and Michael Borland in Bozeman, Montana, had shared QAnon memes and retweeted posts from QAnon accounts.

The baseless conspiracy theory alleges Trump is battling an entrenched bureaucracy and sex trafficking ring run by pedophiles.

Michael Borland has also posted conspiracy theories about the Rothschild family being behind a “globalist” conspiracy to create a totalitarian world order, a classic anti-Semitic trope.

In 2017, he shared a post that alleged Jewish groups working to help migrants were part of a “global cabal.”

Three Republicans seeking election in Montana also had been scheduled to attend the fundraiser: US Senator Steve Daines, who faces a November challenge from Democratic Governor Steve Bullock; US Representative Greg Gianforte, a Republican running for governor; and state auditor Matt Rosendale, a candidate for the US House.

College Administrators Must Address Anti-Semitism on Their Campuses

While colleges and universities across the country have expended immense resources, in particular over the past several months, addressing unsubstantiated claims of systemic racism on their campuses and within American culture and institutions more broadly, there are other minority groups that face discrimination but go largely ignored. With millions of dollars in initiatives to hire diversity officers, develop required curricula demanding equity and inclusion, and expand bulging bureaucracies to meet Black Lives Matter demands, universities seem solely focused on their Black students at the expense of all members of their campus communities. We believe, however, that all minorities matter.

The sad reality is that Jewish students across the United States have been facing growing, ugly and violent anti-Semitic attacks that have gone unabated and ignored by college administrators for far too long. In a report on campus anti-Semitism during the 2019 school year, the AMCHA Initiative documented increasing and disturbing trends they anticipate continuing and growing worse in the coming year.

For instance, academic boycotts and other anti-Israel activities have been directly linked to a 67 percent increase in “acts involving the public shaming, vilifying or defaming of students or staff because of their perceived association with Israel,” a 69 percent increase in “acts involving the shutting down or impeding of Israel-related speech, movement or assembly,” and a 51 percent increase in “acts involving the unfair treatment or exclusion of students because of their perceived association with Israel.”

And while AMCHA saw a decrease in the number of cases of “classic anti-Semitism,” there was a “significant increase in the number of Israel-related incidents.” This is important because campus haters have learned that if they couch their anti-Jewish animus in terms of anti-Zionism rather than “classic” anti-Semitism, campus administrators turn a blind eye and allow the hate to flourish unabated.

Polish Agricultural Industry Enraged by Proposed Government Ban on Kosher Meat Exports

Poland’s agricultural industry has reacted furiously to new government proposals to restrict the slaughter of animals according to Jewish and Muslim rites, with one body representing the poultry sector warning of a complete collapse “overnight.”

On Tuesday, Jarosław Kaczyński — the veteran president of the ruling Law and Justice Party (PiS) — told a press conference in Warsaw that the government planned to introduce legislation that would effectively close down Polish exports of kosher meat. The rights of the Jewish and Muslim communities in Poland to obtain kosher or halal meat for their own consumption would not be affected however.

The proposal was part of a broader package devoted to animal rights — a cause that Poland’s right-wing nationalist government has embraced fervently. Other measures would include a ban on breeding animals for fur, empowering the police to rescue abused animals and granting greater powers to veterinary inspectors to issue fines to offenders.

But the prospect of an abrupt closure of a kosher meat export market worth $1.5 billion annually to the Polish economy sounded the alarm for several agriculture sector organizations, who issued a flurry of worried statements in the wake of Tuesday’s announcement.

“According to our estimates, one in five poultry animals slaughtered in Poland is slaughtered according to the halal or kosher system, which also accounts for 40 percent of Polish poultry meat exports,” observed a statement jointly issued by five poultry industry associations.

“Following the introduction of the ban, the Polish poultry industry, which is the main exporter in the EU, may collapse overnight,” the statement continued.

Brooklyn hospital wants to fire doctor over antisemitic posts

The yearlong battle between a doctor and a New York hospital trying to fire him over antisemitic and anti-gay posts will be back in court next week.

New York-Presbyterian Brooklyn Methodist Hospital has tried to dismiss Walid Khass from his position as a pediatric resident since 2019, the Forward reported Thursday. In recent years, Khass has written on separate posts on social media “Go beat up a Zionist,” “You trust the Jews — I never did” and “I hope only Israelis get ebola.” He also wrote that Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi’s mother was Jewish, meaning that she belongs to a “higher group run the corrupt world.”

Khass was admitted to the hospital’s residency program, but then was informed he had been found unsuitable. He sued the hospital to be readmitted to the program and won.

The hospital, which treats many Jewish patients, appealed the decision and is due to argue its case at a Sept. 17 hearing in Brooklyn state Supreme Court, according to the Forward. It says Khass cannot remain because some of his posts condoned or encouraged violence.

“These posts would cause serious and extreme hardship on the Program because it would interfere with the Program’s ability to serve a patient population consisting of a large number of Orthodox Jews,” one filing said.

A collection of the best Jewish movies, shows and more from the year 5780

Do you ever wish there were a fun Jewish version of the Oscars? Or the Grammys? What about a roundup of the best Jewish moments from across the vast reaches of the internet over the past year?

Alma, one of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency’s partner sites at 70 Faces Media, does all of that and more in its second edition of The Almas, a collection of the best Jewish movies, television, books, music, and celebrity and internet moments of 5780, the past Jewish year.

It’s not your typical list. In the television category, for instance, an award goes to “The Show We’re Sitting Shiva For” (it’s “Schitt’s Creek,” which finished its run this year). In the music category, there’s a “Best Jack Antonoff Production” mention — referencing the Jewish songwriter and how he’s now ubiquitous in the world of pop hit writing (the award goes to Taylor Swift’s “Folklore” album, to give you an idea of his popularity).

But there are more traditional awards, too, like Breakout Jewish Artist (rapper Doja Cat) and Breakout Actor (Adam Sandler, for his star dramatic turn in “Uncut Gems“).

Check out the full slate of awards here.

SWU webcast illustrates diverse support for Israel

StandWithUs on Wednesday evening presented a packed webcast, nearly an hour long, demonstrating the diversity of people who support Israel and the urgency that support has for Jewish and pro-Israel students attending high schools, colleges, and universities in North America and around the world.

The program, emceed by the StandWithUs (SWU) director in Israel, Michael Dickson, also included entertainment by comedian Elon Gold; a quickly-done portrait of Theodor Herzl by Israeli artist Solomon Souza, whose paintings of famous Israelis have become a popular way for merchants to beautify their roll-down doors at Israeli souks; and a Zionist rap song by Noah Shufitinsky, a Black Jewish American whose stage name is Westside Gravy.

Another feature of the fast-moving program was a tour of underground chambers near the Kotel, at which an onsite archaeologist and SWU tour director Yoni Zierler examined evidence of life during different time periods stretching back to Rome’s destruction of the Temple in 70 CE.

Demonstrating the diverse support for Israel were speakers Carly Gammill, an American Christian who heads the Center for Combating anti-Semitism; Hussein Aboubakr, a pro-Israel Egyptian; Yoseph Haddad, an Arab Israeli who fought for Israel in the Second Lebanon war; Joshua Washington, founder of Institute for Black Solidarity with Israel (IBSI), and Col. Richard Kemp, who led British forces in Afghanistan.

Anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism on campuses across North America were discussed in rapid succession by affected students and alumni of Santa Monica College UC Santa Barbara, Washington State University, Florida State University, and Tufts University. One young woman said, “we were called racists, anti-Black, that we all look the same, that we were ugly — all this because we were having an event in support of Israel and had an Israeli flag.”

StandWithUs: Tapestry Of Voices For Israel



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