September 17, 2021

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10/21 Links Pt1: Caroline Glick: The Foreign Policy Debate Americans Should Hear; Ruthie Blum: Arab-Israeli Politicians Against Peace

From Ian:

Caroline Glick: The Foreign Policy Debate Americans Should Hear

Then Trump came into office. Trump made clear that his doctrine of America First meant America would work with allies who shared its interests and goals. He emphasized that the U.S.’s goal was to defeat the forces of radical Islam and terror. When along with Israel, Arab state after state lined up to join him, Trump realized that the tectonic plates had shifted and true peace was possible for the first time. And he sent his team to achieve it.

The Palestinians, so used to being feted by U.S. administrations convinced that without the Palestine Liberation Organization’s permission, no peace could ever be reached between Israel and the Arab world, were left on the sidelines, screaming anti-Semitic curses at Trump, his family and his advisors.

As for Iran, to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons and destabilize the regime that seeks to dominate the Middle East to the detriment of U.S. national security and the survival of U.S. allies, Trump vacated the U.S.’s signature on the Obama-Biden nuclear deal with Iran. He implemented a strategy of “maximum pressure” to economically and politically destabilize the regime, while supporting U.S. regional allies in their acts to defend themselves against Iranian aggression. The administration is now adding new sanctions to block weapons sales to Iran. News sales will be possible for the first time in 20 years because the Obama-Biden nuclear deal put a sunset clause on the UN weapons embargo, freeing Iran to purchase advanced weapons on the open market beginning this month.

Biden has pledged to reinstate the U.S.’s commitment to the nuclear deal and end economic sanctions on Iran, thus freeing the most prolific state sponsor of terrorism to develop a nuclear arsenal within a year. He has also pledged to restore the Palestinians and their opposition to Israel’s very existence to the center stage of a renewed U.S. policy of hostility toward Israel.

In Asia, Biden and Obama strengthened U.S. ties with Beijing, to Beijing’s advantage. Obama told U.S. workers that their manufacturing jobs would not come back. In the 1990s, Biden shepherded China to most-favored-nation trading status and World Trade Organization membership, setting the course for the outsourcing of the U.S manufacturing base to China.

But Trump revitalized manufacturing in the U.S. through his trade tariffs, his corporate tax cuts and his trade deals with Canada, Mexico and China. Trump has confronted China’s growing rivalry head-on, recognizing that the superpower competition between the U.S. and China will likely define international power politics in the coming decades.

These and other issues might have been discussed in a presidential debate centered on foreign policy. Unfortunately, thanks to Welker and the Commission on Presidential Debates, the public won’t have the opportunity to hear such a discussion. Instead, it will be subjected to brief regurgitations of talking points before Welker moves on to another topic.

Daniel Pipes: Why I’m Voting for Trump We Elect a Team, Not a Person

Rather than the person, I advise a focus on a party’s overall outlook. Does it take pride in American history or emphasize its faults? Does it favor the original Constitution or a living version of it? Does it emphasize individualism or equality? Does it focus on the free market or government oversight? Does it see the United States more as a force for good or ill in the world?

From these first principles derive the myriad of specific policies that characterize an administration and make it unique. These, not the president’s appearance or college grades, determine his place in history and the trajectory of the country. Indeed, that the team’s views and policies are often sharper-edged than the president’s further emphasizes the central importance of his outlook.

Personally, I favor the first in each of those dualities: a proud view of the United States, caution about the Constitution, and an emphasis on individualism and free markets. In this election, only one of the two major parties agrees with my outlook. Despite my intense aversion to Trump’s immorality, vulgarity, and egotism, these now worry me less than the Democrats’ uniquely radical program. And so, I publicly endorsed him. To quote journalist Bernard Goldberg, “He is a detestable man. And I hope he wins.”

Why then did I vote Libertarian in 2016? Because Trump appeared to be a populist out to wreck the Republican party, the conservative movement, and even American democracy. Then, to my surprise, he governed as a conservative on those issues I consider most important. So, consistent with the argument presented here, I put aside my distaste and fears.

Caroline Glick: Anti-Netanyahu Left Cloaks Itself In Zionism And Democracy

Now, revoltingly, a mere hundred years after their forebears began arriving at the ports of Jaffa and Haifa, and 29 years after “Operation Solomon,” Haskel and his comrades have lost contact with their mother ship. “Zionism” for them is not an article of faith or even an ideological position. It is a marketing tool they use to present themselves as the rightful rulers of Israel. For the past decade, leftist parties have used it to hide their radical positions. In 2015 the leftist party called itself “The Zionist Union” while pushing a post-Zionist platform. In 2019, the leftist party called itself “Blue and White” to hide its ideological nihilism and blind quest for power.

The “Ingathering of Exiles” (kibbutz galuyot) that captivated the imaginations and steered the dreams of Jews through millennia of persecution, expulsions and massacre is for Haskel and his colleagues merely the name of a highway junction in Tel Aviv that they send protesters to block on a semi-regular basis.

Haskel instinctively attacked the police officers as ungrateful wretches because he either forgot or never really understood the purpose of the country. For him, the fight is about taking power away from the irritating Jews who keep faith with his grandparents’ vision and seizing it for himself and his friends in the name of his grandparents’ legacy.

Aside from the media that gives slobbering coverage to anyone who opposes Netanyahu, Haskel and his comrades’ most powerful ally in their lawbreaking, contemptuous protests is Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit. Like them, Mandelblit uses loaded language to try to give an ideological veneer to his self-aggrandizing behavior.

Ruthie Blum: Arab-Israeli Politicians Against Peace

This brings us to the Knesset representatives of Israel’s Arabs. Odeh not only voted against the Abraham Accords, but told the Hezbollah-affiliated Lebanese TV station al-Mayadeen that they are based on a “flawed assumption” about Iran being the “fundamental issue.”

Pooh-poohing the Iranian threat — to a network whose sponsors are Iranian proxies — he said, “The Israeli occupation is the fundamental problem.” Al-Mayadeen is used to and regularly promotes Israel-bashing. Having help from an Arab Knesset member who isn’t even as radical as some of the others on his list must have been especially welcome.

Speaking of which, Joint List MK Abbas Mansour, chairman of the United Arab List Party, explained to Israel’s Kan Radio on Monday why he couldn’t unequivocally condemn the beheading of a history teacher by a Chechen Islamist in a suburb of Paris on Friday.

Mansour said that the teacher should not have shown his students caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad, even in the context of a lesson on freedom of expression, since such depictions are offensive to Muslims. Try as they might, the interviewers did not manage to get him to concede that in this case, the cartoons were part of an educational exercise or that democracy involves free speech.

Instead, he ranted about the pluralism of Islam and its respect for all people and religions to prove his point that causing offense to Muslims goes against such values. In his eyes, apparently, decapitation does not.

Given the Palestinian honchos’ unwillingness to coexist with Israelis at the expense of their own people’s well-being, it is logical for the likes of Odeh and Mansour to be on their side against the Abraham Accords. What makes no sense at all, however, is that the Joint List — the third-largest faction in the Knesset — is more hostile to Zionists than the sheikhs of Abu Dhabi and Manama.

US ambassador: Peace with more Arab countries ‘a certainty’

The following is an edited text of the interview given by US Ambassador David Friedman to Israel Hayom Editor-in-Chief Boaz Bismuth during “The International Shiloh Forum, Kohelet Forum and Israel Hayom Conference” in October 2020.

Mr. Ambassador, America will hold an election in less than a month, against the backdrop of a changed Middle East. Iran is under immense pressure and deterred due to the killing of [Quds Force commander] Qassim Soleimani, Israel’s status is significantly improved, and its ties with the Arab world are stronger than ever. Russia is in check in Syria. Can you say that the peace deals in the Middle East between Israel and the UAE and Bahrain are the chief foreign policy accomplishment of the Trump administration?

“Well, thank you, Boaz. It is great to be with you. I think the peace agreements with UAE and Bahrain are certainly among the greatest foreign policy achievements of the Trump administration, but I think you need to look at all of it holistically, I think it began with the recognition of Jerusalem, as Israel’s capital, the moving of the embassy, recognizing the Golan Heights as being part of Israeli sovereign territory, the recognition that Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria are not illegal. All those were building blocks along the way to a policy which I think demonstrated to the entire region that one can be pro-Israel without doing damage or God forbid causing conflict or war within the Middle East. And I think it created a platform for countries like the UAE and Bahrain and all the others to come in. So certainly the peace agreements, which happens once in a generation if at all, certainly, the peace agreement is a crowning achievement of President Trump’s first term. But I think we have to look at it not in isolation but as part of an overall strategy where the Trump administration has stood with and empowered its allies and taken a much harsher view of its enemies, and I think that is why we are where we are today.”

You mentioned the transfer of the embassy, which was a huge event. I remember being there, I was one of the lucky guests of course. And for you personally, having your desk transferred from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, what an event. People at the time warned us that it would cause the Middle East to go ablaze, were you at the time, the administration, confident enough to know that this would not be the case?

“We were confident that this would not set the Middle East on fire. At the same time, we prepared for the worst. We were gauging the reaction or potential reaction all throughout the region, from as far West as Morocco to as far east as Pakistan. We were checking in with our embassies, we were collecting our intelligence, so we were preparing for the worst case but the more we prepared the more we confident that not only would this not set the world on fire, but actually it was a very positive step forward because it showed that America was willing to keep its promises and stand with its allies. And we have many allies in the region, and I think that other allies recognized that America was a good friend that could be trusted. It went according to plan and I think it set the stage for many further successes.”

Abraham Fund puts ‘well-being of people first, regardless of creed’

A visiting UAE delegation and Israeli officials signed several agreements on Tuesday to support cooperation in investment, tourism, financial services and technology financed via the newly launched Abraham Fund.

The Abraham Fund, launched under a commitment made in last month’s Abraham Accord peace agreement between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, will mobilize more than $3 billion in private sector-led investment and development initiatives to promote regional economic cooperation and prosperity in the Middle East.

Focused on “people-centric investments,” the fund also aims to inspire young Arabs and Israelis to build a future that serves both themselves and their communities, explains His Excellency Ahmed Al Sayegh, UAE minister of state and chairman of the Abu Dhabi Global Market.

“It reflects the desire of the three countries to put the well-being of people first, regardless of their creed or identity,” he said, adding that the UAE “is confident the initiative can be a source of economic and technological strength for the region, while simultaneously improving the lives of those who need the most support.”

The delegation visit comes in the wake of the historic peace accord between the UAE and Israel, where both countries committed to multilateral engagement that benefits the entire region. Officials say that countries outside the region are also invited to advance the fund’s objectives.

Israel’s secret embassy in Bahrain

Israel has been conducting undercover diplomacy in Bahrain for more than a decade through a front company listed as a commercial consulting firm.

Why it matters: The existence of the covert diplomatic mission in the Bahraini capital Manama shows the depth of a secret relationship that came out into the open with a White House ceremony last month.

The existence of the secret diplomatic office remained under an Israeli government gag order for 11 years. A short report about it appeared on Israel’s Channel 11 news last week.

Today, I’m reporting many more details based on conversations with Israeli and Bahraini sources, as well as Bahraini Commerce Ministry records.

The backstory: Negotiations over a potential secret diplomatic mission started in 2007-2008 through a series of secret meetings between Israel’s then-foreign minister, Tzipi Livni, and her Bahraini counterpart, Khaled Bin Ahmad al-Khalifa.

Their close relationship, along with a decision by regional rival Qatar to shut down Israel’s diplomatic mission in Doha, convinced the Bahrainis to approve the opening of a secret Israeli mission in Manama, Israeli officials say.

How it happened: On July 13, 2009, a company named “The Center for International Development” was registered in Bahrain. It was a front, providing cover for Israeli diplomacy.

UAE disabilities program director presents at Access Israel conference

On the same day that a small senior delegation from the United Arab Emirates, including ministers of economy and finance and two deputy ministers, met in Israel, more than 650 people from 83 countries met on Zoom and Facebook to also make history. They participated in a four-hour conference sponsored by Access Israel, featuring Dr. Ayesha Saeed Husaini, founder and director of Manzil from the United Arab Emirates.

Husaini’s presentation on PRIDE (People Receiving Independence and Dignity through Empowerment), the Manzil employment program for people with disabilities, was part of the international webinar, titled “Employment of People with Disabilities – Challenges, Solutions, Technologies and Best Practices.” It was simultaneously translated into Spanish, Russian, Hebrew, Arabic and American Sign Language and was closed-captioned. The webinar included attendees from the United Arab Emirates.

Michal Rimon, the CEO of Access Israel, met Husaini in February 2020 in Austria at the Zero Project Conference, which brought together accessibility leaders and organizations from around the world. Rimon was particularly impressed with Husaini and the work she and her team were and are doing at Manzil, and began wondering how the organizations might work together.

“We discussed what options do we have? I have an American passport, someone there has Portuguese citizenship. You know, maybe we can meet and collaborate,” reported Rimon somewhat ironically, as she had no idea that in a few short months, Israel and the UAE would sign historic accords.

“The changes that have occurred… the peace treaty that was signed, opening the doors, making connections possible, overcoming barriers, this is for us really an exciting time, and I can tell you that when I met Dr. Aisha I was really impressed by what they were doing.”

MEMRI: Daughter Of Deceased Iranian Leader Rafsanjani: Iranian Regime Should Consider Establishing Relations With Israel; IRGC Official: Khamenei Intended For Israel To Disappear Much Earlier Than The 25 Years He Allotted It

While the Iranian leadership continues its long-standing pattern of hostile declarations regarding the U.S. and Israel, Faezeh Hashemi Rafsanjani, daughter of senior regime official Hashemi Rafsanjan, who died under unclear circumstances in January 2017, called on the regime to change its policy vis-à-vis Israel. She said that it should prioritize the national interest over stubborn adherence to an ideology that in any case is not being uniformly implemented with the rest of the world’s countries.

On October 6, 2020, Ms. Hashemi, a former Majlis member and women’s rights activist, was asked about the normalization of relations between the Gulf countries and Israel. She replied that there is a need to update Iran’s policy in all matters in order to move the country ahead – including in the issues of relations with Israel, fatwas, and Islamic law (fiqh) – so that the regime would be relevant. She spoke out strongly against the inconsistency of the Iranian regime, which focused on the ideological aspect in all things concerning the Palestinian Muslims, but which did not care about this aspect in its extensive dealings and relations with China and Russia, where Muslims are also oppressed. The regime shows a level of sensitivity on the Palestinian issue, she said, that exceeds the sensitivity to this matter existing in the rest of the Muslim world.

In contrast to Ms. Hashemi, Mohammad Reza Naqdi, commander of coordination in Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), reiterated, in a television interview, the regime’s positions on Israel and the U.S. Naqdi said that Iran was much closer to the Zionists’ borders than people knew, and that Israel was surrounded by Muslim fighters with weapons at the ready. He clarified that Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s statements that Israel would no longer exist within 25 years had been misunderstood, and that it would cease to exist much sooner than that. He also warned that any move Israel made against Iran’s national security would be met with a decisive response.

Explaining that the U.S. was on the wane and was no longer a superpower, Naqdi said that if it went to war against Iran, it would face a catastrophe in which it would not know what military base in the U.S. would be bombed or what would happen to the White House. The IRGC, he added, was planning for the possibility of an attack by the U.S. He expressed his hope, however, that Iran’s victory would be achieved without bloodshed, and that like the Prophet Muhammad’s conquest of Mecca and Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s return to Tehran,[1] the Iranians would enter Jerusalem and reenact the Islamic conquest there. He concluded by pointing out the might of the IRGC and its ability to mobilize millions of volunteers from across the Islamic world, who would form an army 100 million strong that would join the Iranian army of 20 million.

MEMRI: Arab Papers Report That Efforts Are Underway To Promote Syrian Peace Agreement With Israel; Syria Denies Reports

In the wake of the normalization agreements signed by the UAE and Bahrain with Israel, several Arab media outlets, most of them opposed to the Syrian regime, have been discussing the possible renewal of peace negotiations between Syria and Israel, and have reported that diplomatic efforts to promote this goal are underway. For example, in the London-based Saudi daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, senior analyst Ibrahim Hamidi assessed that secret negotiations between Syria and Israel may already be taking place, and that one of the issues addressed may be the Iranian presence in Syria. The Lebanese daily Al-Nahar, known for its support of the pro-Saudi and anti-Iranian camp, claimed that the U.S. and Russia have reached understandings regarding the need to promote a settlement between Syria and Israel, and that Arab countries were interested in advancing this issue was well. The articles stressed that the Syrian regime may currently be motivated to resume peace talks with Israel in order to break out of its international isolation and guarantee its survival.

As stated, these articles were published in papers opposed to the Syrian regime, and therefore the reliability of their claims regarding possible negotiations between Syria and Israel is unclear. The articles may represent an effort by opponents of the Assad regime, some of whom support normalization with Israel, to spark a media debate on this issue and investigate the reactions to it.

The Syrian regime, for its part, denied the reports and clarified that it opposes any agreement with the Israeli enemy. Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad stated reiterated that Syria will not normalize relations with Israel until it withdraws from the Syrian territories it is occupying, adding that Israel has given no sign of being willing to do so.

This document reviews some of the reports on possible Syria-Israel rapprochement and the reactions of the Syrian regime to these reports.

PreOccupiedTerritory: Joint List To Oppose Any Deal With Palestinians As Well (satire)

The alliance of mostly-Arab parties in Israel’s parliament made clear following their vote last week against the peace deal with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain that they intend to adopt the same position vis-à-vis any such agreement between Israel and the Palestinian leadership, given that peace agreements fail to resolve the conflict.

Representatives of the four parties, which hold a total of 13 seats in the 120-seat legislature, made statements to that effect today in response to Sunday’s festive inauguration of commercial flights between Manama, Bahrain and Tel Aviv. Alliance leader MK Ayman Odeh repeated his faction’s opposition to any peace deals between Israel and Arab states, since those deals leave the Palestinian issue unresolved and deprive the Palestinians of political and diplomatic leverage. The same will hold true if the Palestinian leadership ever decides to resume long-suspended negotiations with the Jewish State over final status issues such as borders, refugees, the disposition of Jerusalem, and whether Jews may continue to inhabit communities that would end up under Palestinian control: the Joint List will oppose such a resolution of those hereunto intractable subjects, Odeh explained, because resolving them will mean Palestinians must relinquish their century-old dream of destroying Jewish sovereignty.

“These so-called ‘peace’ deals are nothing more than a betrayal of the Palestinian cause,” charged Odeh, echoing the rhetoric of PLO Chairman Mahmoud Abbas and other prominent Palestinian leaders. “We who are charged by our constituents with keeping the Palestinian issue alive even within the 1948 borders will not be the ones to cement any such betrayal by Palestinians. This bloc will vote against any agreement with Israel no matter who signs it. If Muhammad the Prophet himself were to ink such a deal we would still oppose it. We would also claim it wasn’t really Muhammad, because that would be awkward.”

Mark Esper: Peace treaties aim to build ‘security construct’ against Iran

US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper addressed the recent agreements to normalize relations between Israel and the UAE and Bahrain, saying that they could help deter Iran.

“It is a great success by the president and his team in the White House,” Esper said on Tuesday, in remarks at the Atlantic Council in Washington, adding that “we’ll see if more countries follow as well. We’re all hopeful, and everybody is trying to roll in that same direction.”

Esper said that the normalization agreements are essential for multiple reasons. “It’s the diplomatic opportunities it presents, it’s the security and it’s the economic [opportunities].”

He noted that Arab countries “see that there is great potential for economic growth if there is normalization.”

Another factor, he said, is that “so many of the countries in the region recognize that the biggest concern they have – [and that] we have – is Iran and its malign behavior through that region for four decades. It spans all the way from Africa across the Middle East into Afghanistan.

Friedman: US position is never evacuate settlements

The American position is that West Bank settlements should remain in place permanently and Israel should apply sovereignty to them at a later date, US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman said on Wednesday.

“The position of the United States is that Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria will never be evacuated. We will never ask any community in Judea and Samaria to ever disband,” Friedman said in a Kohelet Policy Forum conference on the Abraham Accords, conducted online. “We believe in long run, it is in Israel’s interest and America’s interest to extend [Israeli] sovereignty over these communities.”

The Trump administration’s plan, should he be reelected, is “to put all our efforts in the near future in diplomatic efforts to make Israel as safe, secure and prosperous as the nations of the region and reduce that threat level as much as possible” by encouraging more countries to normalize ties with Israel.

“When we feel we’ve exhausted these efforts, of course we will help Israel formalize its boundaries, including communities in Judea and Samaria,” Friedman said.

Friedman said he had “no doubt” that more nations in the Arab League will make peace with Israel, saying the whole region is made up of potential normalization partners.

Joe Truzman: U.S. Marine charged for allegedly ‘providing material support’ to Hamas

In a court filing on Oct. 6, Jason Fong, a Marine reservist arrested by the FBI in May, was charged for allegedly providing material support, resources and funds to Hamas, a U.S. designated Foreign Terrorist Organization.

“On or about May 18, 2020, in Orange County, within the Central District of California, and elsewhere, defendant JASON FONG, also known as “asian_ghazi,” a national of the United States located in the United States, knowingly concealed and disguised the nature, location, source, ownership, and control of material support and resources and funds, knowing the same were to be provided to a foreign terrorist organization, namely Hamas, also known as the Izz al-Din al Qassam Brigades, in violation of 18 U.S.C.§ 2339B,” the court filing read.

According to a Los Angeles Times report, Fong was arrested and initially charged with ‘suspicion of possessing illegal firearms’ on May 20 at his Irvine, California home.

Additionally, Task and Purpose reported in May that Fong ‘joined the Marine reserves in 2014 and is currently a sergeant assigned to Marine Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) Squadron 4 at Camp Pendleton, California as a maintenance technician.’

The court document mentions ‘Hamas’ or its military wing ‘Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades’ as the group Fong was allegedly supporting. However, the nature of Hamas’ involvement is unclear. Also, the court document doesn’t distinguish between Hamas’ political and military wings, which are two separate but related entities.

Given Fong’s military background, it is possible he provided support to Hamas’ al-Qassam Brigades. Specifically, Fong’s background as a UAV maintenance could have been useful for al-Qassam Brigades who’ve been developing their own UAV capability for a number of years.

Army chief: Uncovered Gaza attack tunnel was ‘major asset’ to the enemy

Military chief Aviv Kohavi described the cross-border attack tunnel uncovered by the Israel Defense Forces this week on the Gaza border as a “highly significant asset” to terror groups in the Strip on Wednesday.

“I don’t want to get into the technical details about the tunnel, but I can say that it was a highly significant asset for the enemy, and we will continue to take care of it and the subterranean threat with every method and every advanced means — from technology to intelligence,” Kohavi said.

Without providing additional details, he repeated that the tunnel was a “very, very significant terror tunnel.”

The military has yet to say which terror group it believes dug the tunnel, which was found dozens of meters inside Israeli territory, but on the Gaza side of the Israel-built underground border barrier.

The IDF chief made his remarks in military-run coronavirus treatment wards established earlier this month in Haifa’s Rambam Medical Center. During the visit, Kohavi met with a number of patients in the wards, where 100 IDF doctors, nurses and medics work.

IDF Iron Dome Intercepts Gazan Rocket as ‘Terror Tunnel’ Exposed

IDF Special Forces carry out covert operation, destroy two Syrian outposts

Syrian state media said Israel fired a missile early Wednesday at a site in the Quneitra province in southern Syria, near the border with Israel’s Golan Heights.

The official SANA news agency said the midnight attack hit a school building in the village of Al-Harah, without providing further details.

There were no immediate reports of casualties.

The Israel Defense Forces would not comment on the matter, in line with its so-called “policy of ambiguity” regarding its military activities against Iran and its proxies in Syria.

Israel has repeatedly accused the Hezbollah terror group and other Iran-backed militias of setting up bases and operating along the Golan border.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights — a pro-opposition group with unclear funding sources — said the strike hit a base for pro-Iran militias, adding that Israel was “likely” responsible.

Reports of the strike came two weeks after Israeli soldiers reportedly destroyed two Syrian military posts in the demilitarized zone separating the two countries in a rare cross-border raid.

‘Things happen’: Defense minister seems to hint Israel behind Syria strike

Defense Minister Benny Gantz seemed to hint that Israel was behind a strike on a Syrian position near the Golan Heights border in the predawn hours of Wednesday morning, indicating it was a move against Iranian entrenchment in the area.

“I won’t go into who fired what last night. We won’t allow terrorist operatives from Hezbollah or Iran to set up on the Golan Heights border and we will do what is necessary to drive them out of there,” he said in an interview Wednesday morning with the Kan public broadcaster.

Asked if that was the reason behind the alleged Israeli strike, Gantz responded opaquely: “Listen, things happen.”

At roughly 12:30 a.m., Syrian state media reported that Israel fired a missile at a site in the Quneitra province in southern Syria, near the border with Israel’s Golan Heights.

The official SANA news agency said the attack struck a school building in the village of Al-Harah, without providing any further details.

IDF Uncovers Hamas-Linked Terror Tunnel Along the Gaza Strip

IDF seals off room of Palestinian man suspected of killing soldier with a brick

The Israel Defense Forces on Wednesday sealed off the room where resided a Palestinian man suspected of killing soldier Amit Ben-Ygal earlier this year, the military said.

The army had initially intended to destroy the entire building, but was twice blocked by the High Court of Justice, which cited the fact that the rest of Nazmi Abu Bakr’s family was unaware of and uninvolved in the alleged crime and thus should not have their home destroyed.

Last Wednesday, the IDF informed Abu Bakr’s family that it intended to seal off his room and fill it with concrete and barbed wire.

“The sealing was carried out in light of the Supreme Court decision that canceled the demolition order issued for the terrorist’s home,” the military said in a statement.

Abu Bakr is suspected of throwing a brick that struck Ben-Ygal in the head, killing him, from the roof of his family’s home, while the 21-year-old soldier was taking part in a raid in the West Bank village of Yabed on May 12.

Knesset Conference Marks the 20th Anniversary of the 2000 Ramallah Lynchings

Twenty years after the infamous 2000 Ramallah lynchings, in which IDF reservists Vadim Norzhich and Yosef Avrahami were brutally murdered by a Palestinian mob, Israel’s Knesset held a unique online conference on Monday focusing on the lessons learned from that event.

The conference, had some 900 attendees, was held under the auspices of the Knesset Israel Victory Caucus (KIVC), in partnership with the Israel Victory Project, an initiative of the Middle East Forum. The KIVC encourages Israeli decision makers and opinion shapers to work towards ending the Israel-Palestinian conflict by ensuring the Palestinians give up their 100-year war of violent rejectionism against Jewish sovereignty.

The lynching took place at the beginning of the Second Intifada, a few months after Israel-Palestinian peace negotiations broke down because of Palestinian Authority leader Yasser Arafat’s refusal to accept Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak’s generous offer of concessions to end the conflict.

In October 2000, Norzhich and Avrahami had been called up for reserve army duty as drivers, but were picked up by Palestinian police after they mistakenly entered the Palestinian town of Ramallah. They were brought to Palestinian police headquarters in the center of Ramallah, where a violent mob of Palestinians stormed the building and tortured the soldiers to death, mutilating their bodies beyond recognition.

The event, much of which was filmed live by television crews, deeply shocked Israelis and many others around the world for its sheer brutality and the glee and pride of those who took part.

Ramallah lynching victim’s brother: Israel’s gov’ts have let us down

Twenty years after the Ramallah lynching that helped contribute to the start of the Second Intifada, Michal Norzhich, brother of victim Vadim Norzhich, said that he and his family feel repeatedly let down by successive Israeli governments.

Speaking at a special meeting of the Knesset Israel Victory Caucus (KIVC) titled “20 Years Since the Ramallah Lynchings: What lessons have been learned?” Norzhich said, “[Former prime minister] Ehud Barak promised us personally that we will be well looked after, but all we received was a slap in the face.

“The Schalit deal was a terrible agreement that hurt us deeply because it returned 1,000 terrorists to the cycle of violence,” he said. “Even today, the government and Supreme Court try and prevent us from seeking financial compensation from the Palestinian Authority, which was and remains responsible for the incitement and hate that leads to such attacks. There is no justice or logic to this.”

The 2011 deal that freed IDF soldier Gilad Schalit from years of captivity under Hamas in Gaza released 1,027 Palestinian prisoners, including Aziz Salha.

Salha became infamous throughout the world after media coverage of the Ramallah lynching showed him appearing at the window of el-Bireh police station with bloodied hands; he was later convicted of murdering Norzhich.

Yisrael Beytenu MK Oded Forer, chairman of the KIVC, said at the event that “violent Palestinian rejectionism is alive and kicking. Twenty years later, they continue to broadcast the same hate and incitement as they did in the days leading up to the lynching.

Reckless manslaughter charges recommended for cop who shot autistic Palestinian

A Border Police officer who shot and killed an autistic Palestinian man in Jerusalem’s Old City in late May after apparently mistaking him for a terrorist could be tried for reckless manslaughter, pending a hearing, the Justice Ministry’s Police Internal Investigations Department announced on Wednesday.

Iyad Halak, 32, was walking from his home in Wadi Joz to a school where he worked with his caretaker, Warda Abu Hadid. Two police officers in the area claimed they spotted a “suspicious object” in his hand. According to Wednesday’s PIID statement, the two officers had also received information that a terrorist was in the area.

The two officers, one of whom was a Border Police commander, began to chase after Halak, demanding that he identify himself, but Halak, apparently terrified, ran away. The two pursued him through the streets.

According to the PIID, during the chase, the officer who shot Halak calling out “stop or I’ll shoot” before firing two shots towards Halak’s feet. Both shots missed. Halak fled into a garbage room; the two officers followed him into the area.

The suspect in PIID’s investigation spotted Halak in the corner of the garbage room and began firing. As soon as he began shooting, PIID said, his commander began ordering him to cease.

Israel’s Electric Company Hands 3 Power Substations to PA – ‘Good for the Settlers’

The Israeli Electric Company announced on Monday that it had transferred to the Palestinian Authority three sub-stations in Tarqumiyah, Qalandiya, and Shechem, in addition to the sub-station in Jenin that was transferred to the PA in 2017. These sub-stations will not be generating power, which will continue to be transmitted from Israel.

Haaretz, which reported the move, added that the Palestinian Authority welcomed it, but this reporter’s attempt to find even a faint mention of it on the PA’s news agency WAFA’s website failed. The reader is invited to search here…

Haaretz also reported that Israel stressed that the Arab-owned substations would also benefit the residents of the settlements in Judea and Samaria.

Because it’s well known that the Palestinian Authority goes out of its way to improve the lives of the Jewish residents of Judea and Samaria settlements.

In any case, Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz (Likud) explained the contribution of the move to the residents of the settlements, saying: “The construction and operation of three new substations in Judea and Samaria will lead to a dramatic improvement in the supply of electricity to both Jewish and Arab localities.”

MEMRI: Fatah Revolutionary Council Member: The UAE Delegation To The Temple Mount Is A Virus With Which The Occupation Wants To Infect The Arab Ummah

The current visits by UAE delegations to Israel, particularly to Jerusalem and the Al-Aqsa Mosque, have sparked harsh criticism from the Palestinian Authority (PA), which opposes the UAE-Israel normalization.[1]

In his October 18, 2020 column in the PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Muwaffaq Matar, a member of Fatah’s Revolutionary Council, vehemently attacked an Al-Aqsa visit by a UAE delegation on October 15, accusing them of betraying the spirit of Islam and calling their false prayers pagan worship of Zionist idols aimed at pleasing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, not Allah. Matar also claimed that Israel has transformed the delegation into “Virus BEN Z3” – a reference to Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed, who promoted his country’s normalization with Israel – in an attempt to infect the Arab ummah with it, but added that the ummah’s immunity would reject it.

On October 16, Fatah secretary in Jerusalem Shadi Al-Matour issued a statement criticizing the delegation’s Al-Aqsa visit, calling it “a new invasion of Al-Aqsa no different from the repeated incursions by the soldiers of the occupation and the settlers, who defile the Al-Aqsa plaza under the patronage of the occupation soldiers.” He insisted that “the sovereignty over Jerusalem and the holy places is solely Palestinian, and the Arab brothers who want to visit Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa should coordinate [their visits] with the legitimate leadership of the Palestinian people [i.e. the PA] and not enter via the occupation.”[2]

In a second statement two days later, in advance of another UAE delegation’s October 20 visit to Israel led by its economic and finance ministers, Al-Matour stressed: “The questionable visits by Arab delegations, and especially the delegations from the UAE, are a dagger in the Palestinian heart, and it is a national and religious obligation to confront them in order to protect our holy places and our land, which are undergoing Arab-sponsored Israelization… The expected October 20 invasion by members of the UAE government, headed by the economic and finance ministers, will bring with it more arrows aimed at the Palestinian body…”[3]

PMW: PA’s “Animal Farm”: No to normalization for regular Palestinians; Yes to normalization for PA leaders who need treatment in Israeli hospitals

The PA has been just as adamant about not allowing any normalization with Israel as the animals in Orwell’s Animal Farm were about the need for animals to stick together against humans who were “the only real enemy.” But as happened in Orwell’s classic when the pigs decided they were superior and granted themselves rights that they refused the other “equal” animals, so too PA leaders are happy to have normal relations with Israel when it comes to themselves, while refusing and even condemning ordinary Palestinians for having any normalization with Israelis at all. Indeed, in the PA – as on Orwell’s farm – “some are more equal than others.”

Despite the PA’s cessation of all cooperation with Israel and nullification of all agreements, and its refusal to accept over 3 billion shekels that Israel has collected in tax money on its behalf – thereby bringing immense suffering to millions of Palestinians – the PA’s chief negotiator Saeb Erekat is able to enjoy “normal” relations with Israel, choosing an Israeli hospital for his current treatment for the coronavirus disease.

In response to visitors from the UAE and Bahrain to the Al-Aqsa Mosque who arrived via Israel rather than through the PA as a result of the recent peace agreements, PA Prime Minister Muhammad Shtayyeh complained that it was “very unfortunate” that the Arab delegations had entered “through the Israeli gate.”

Hypocritically, Shtayyeh said this the day after the PA had let Erekat enter through the Israeli hospital gate! That wasn’t apparently “unfortunate” at all:

PA Prime Minister Muhammad Shtayyeh: “One enters the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque through the gate of its owners, and not through the gate of the occupation. It is very unfortunate that a number of Arab delegations are entering through the Israeli gate, at a time when the entry by worshippers to the mosque is prevented.” [Facebook page of PA Prime Minister Muhammad Shtayyeh, Oct. 19, 2020]

Treating Saeb Erekat

Just one more thing: The PA in early summer refused to take delivery of two planeloads with tons of medical supplies from the UAE to help in the battle against COVID-19 — including protective equipment, medical supplies and ventilators — because the cargo was flown into Israel’s Ben Gurion Airport. This, incidentally, was months before the UAE announced it was establishing relations with Israel…

As I write, Saeb Erekat, 65, is on life support at Jerusalem’s Hadassah Medical Center in Ein Kerem, suffering from COVID-19. Treating him, the hospital has said, is extremely complicated because he has a history of medical problems, including undergoing a lung transplant in 2017. The hospital said it has been reaching out to international experts for input.

Erekat was taken to Hadassah, the PLO’s Negotiations Department said, because his condition required “special medical attention and supervision.”

“Mr. Erekat is receiving top-notch professional care like all serious coronavirus patients at Hadassah,” Zeev Rothstein, the hospital’s director, said on Sunday. “And the staff will do everything to assist his recovery.”

There’s a whole world of tragedies, ironies, hypocrisies so foul and blatant they really don’t need spelling out, and, potentially, lessons in this story — about what genuine coexistence between Israel and the Palestinians could achieve, about failed leadership, about what ultimately matters most to us all.

I truly hope Saeb Erekat will live to internalize and benefit from some of those lessons. What is certain is that a leading hospital in the State of Israel is doing everything in its power to give him that opportunity. Of course it is. “At Hadassah,” said Rothstein, “we treat every patient as if he were our only patient.”

JCPA: The End of the Arms Embargo on Iran

The spokesman of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI), Behrouz Kamalvand, described the removal of arms embargoes against Tehran as “a brilliant and glorious moment for the country’s diplomats.”

Why was the lifting of the embargo such an Iranian “diplomatic victory?”

Seyed Abbas Araghchi, deputy foreign minister for political affairs, explained that U.S. Secretary of State Kerry insisted on a 10-year embargo during the JCPOA negotiations. “Due to Foreign Minister Javad Zarif’s furious tone of voice and his shouts, [U.S. negotiator Wendy] Sherman asked her colleagues to leave the room and leave the foreign ministers alone….Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif held a ‘stormy meeting’ with the foreign ministers and convinced them to agree to a five-year timeframe.”10

Iran has already expressed its desire to purchase stealthy Chinese J-20 fighter jets for its outdated air force and the Russian anti-aircraft system S-400 that could make it challenging to carry out airstrikes against nuclear targets in the country. Unverified press reports claim that Iran might try to buy from North Korea, through China, advanced long-range missiles of 4,500 KM (Hwasong-12) or even longer-range missiles.11

At the same time, Iran clarified that it is not going to rush to purchase new weapons as it has a broad military industry.

The absurdity of the lifting of the arms embargo lies in the fact that it was adopted as part of UN Security Council Resolution 1747 in 2007 with Russian and Chinese support as a means to force Iran to give up enrichment of uranium, and it is now lifted just when Iran has accumulated large amounts of uranium enriched to 4.5% and operates various facilities in its nuclear program, including the deep underground enrichment facility at Fordow that at the time was still unknown.

Twitter Finally Suspends Khamenei After He Mentions Hunter Biden’s Laptop (satire)

Twitter has finally suspended the account of Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei after the Ayatollah tweeted a link to a New York Post story about Hunter Biden, the son of the former vice president.

Jewish organizations have long called on Twitter to suspend Khamenei’s account due to its antisemitic content and frequent calls to violence. But Twitter has refused, referring to his tweets as “comments on current affairs.”

On Wednesday, Khamenei finally crossed the line with a tweet about a laptop allegedly belonging to Hunter Biden.

“Hunter Biden was using his connection to the Vice Satan to earn two billion rial a month from [Ukrainian energy firm] Burisma,” Khamenei tweeted. “If he were any better at exploiting the tentacles of power to fill his pockets with ill-gotten dollars, he would be a Jew.”

Twitter quickly deleted the tweet and suspended his account for publishing unverified material that could impact the election.

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