December 8, 2023

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11/05 Links Pt1: A New Understanding Dawns in the Middle East; Israeli Minister Warns Potential Biden Policy Change on Iran Could Lead to War; Blaming the victim: Theo van Gogh, and the end of Free Speech

From Ian:

A New Understanding Dawns in the Middle East

In the aftermath of the new peace treaties between Israel and the UAE, Bahrain, and Sudan, important Arab public figures – from political officials to clerics to intellectuals – are now openly proclaiming that the Arab world has been the primary author of its own pain. These admissions may signal the beginnings of a new sensibility among Arabs and Sunni Muslims about their political and social situation. Their error was the notion that Israel was the most crucial enemy of Arabs, Muslims, and their states, an enemy that had to be not only defeated but utterly eradicated because it disrupted the harmony and progress of the Arab and Muslim world. Until recently, this view was central to Arab and Muslim sensibility.

As Israeli Arab journalist Khaled Abu Toameh has observed: “For most Arabs the terms peace and normalization with Israel were associated with extremely negative connotations: humiliation, submission, defeat, and shame.” To the question of what ailed Arab and Muslim politics and society, there was always this widely-accepted answer: the state of Israel. If only it could be eliminated, all would be well.

The new deals have now shattered that discourse, declaring that Israel is not the enemy it was alleged to be, and promising a “warm peace” with broad economic and cultural exchanges. They acknowledge that Israel is not the problem, but rather a partner on the path toward solving Middle Eastern woes.

Most crucially, the changes in Arab discourse regarding Israel have not unleashed the vehement and widespread explosions of opposition throughout the Sunni world which would have been expected in decades past. Rather, they seem to bespeak views that were developing over some time, waiting for the opportunity to be let out.

Who is responsible for the Abraham Accords? – opinion

Last week, Sudan agreed to the normalization of relations with Israel in exchange for its removal from the list of state sponsors of terrorism, joining Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and a growing chorus of nations that have seemingly put an end to decades of Arab-Israeli conflict. The Trump and Netanyahu administrations have heralded these achievements as byproducts of their diplomatic efforts, and President Trump has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Despite these claims, such an assessment would be a poor interpretation of events. Although the Abraham Accords are encouraging and historically significant developments, they are more a byproduct of tectonic changes that have transformed the region over decades than the result of diplomatic work of the parties involved. Most responsible for the accords is the restructuring of the Middle East regional balance of power as well as massive domestic transformations across the Arab world.

For three decades, the two Iraq wars and their aftershocks have restructured the power dynamic of the Middle East, producing what scholars term the phenomenon of balancing, when countries shift alliances to collectively meet the challenges of a rising power. States that have little in common and few incentives to form partnerships band together against what they perceive to be a common and larger foe. Here, the decline of Iraq and the rise of Iran have led countries across the region to reassess their regional and international partnerships.

Such a change in circumstance did not occur overnight. America’s two wars with Iraq, Desert Storm in 1991 and Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003, militarily emasculated Iraq, which had long been considered Iran’s regional counterbalance. Iraq’s armed forces, which in 1990 were the fifth largest in the world, now cannot even provide domestic security.

PMW: For the PA, “Peace” means a judenfrei state ethnically cleansed of all Jews

While the middle eastern winds of change have brought about peace agreements between Israel, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Sudan, the Palestinian leadership is still as intransigent as ever. For the Palestinian leadership it appears that peace with Israel can only be achieved in a “judenfrei” Palestinian state – a state free of Jews, ethnically cleansed of the over 800,000 Jews who now live in West Bank and Jerusalem.

This point was recently reiterated by PA Deputy Prime Minister and PA Presidential Spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeina, who said:

“The [Israeli] settlement[s] will disappear in the end. There will be no peace as long as there is one settlement on the Palestinian lands. Just as the settlements were removed from Gaza, they will be removed from the West Bank. Either a peace that is based on an independent, fully sovereign [Palestinian] state with East Jerusalem as its capital and without settlers or settlements, or else there will be no security, no stability, and no peace.”[Official PA TV News, Oct. 14, 2020]

In order to understand the PA approach, it is important to point out two critical points.

The pillar of the PA demand is based on the Palestinian narrative which defines the “West Bank” and “East Jerusalem” as “Palestinian lands”.

While Abu Rudeina’s definition of the “Palestinian lands” is reflective of the often-repeated PA narrative, it lacks any historical veracity.

At no period in time were the “West Bank” and “East Jerusalem” under “Palestinian” control or part of an independent “Palestinian” State.

UNWATCH: 138 UN Nations Call Temple Mount Solely by Muslim name Haram al-Sharif, as UN Singles Out Israel 7 Times, Rest of World 0

A United Nations General Assembly committee today adopted a resolution that referred to Jerusalem’s Temple Mount solely by its Muslim name of Haram al-Sharif, one of seven resolutions passed today that single out or condemn Israel, with zero on the entire rest of the world.

“The UN today showed contempt for both Judaism and Christianity by passing a resolution that makes no mention of the name Temple Mount, which is Judaism’s holiest site, and which is sacred to all who venerate the Bible, in which the ancient Temple was of central importance,” said Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch, a Geneva-based, independent non-governmental watchdog organization.

One of the other texts condemns Israel for “repressive measures” against Syrian citizens in the Golan Heights, another renews the mandate of the corrupt UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), while another renews the mandate of the UN’s “special committee to investigate Israeli practices affecting the human rights of the Palestinian people and other Arabs of the Occupied Territories.” (Click here for texts and voting sheets.)

All 193 UN member states belong to the Special Political and Decolonization Committee, or Fourth Committee, that each year adopts the texts with large majorities. Countries’ votes are repeated in December when the GA plenary formally ratifies the texts.

“The UN’s assault on Israel with a torrent of one-sided resolutions is surreal,” said Neuer.

“Just two weeks after the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorist group assaulted Israeli civilians with a barrage of rockets from Gaza—while the UN’s General Assembly and Human Rights Council stayed silent—the world body now adds insult to injury by adopting seven lopsided resolutions, whose only purpose is to demonize the Jewish state.”

“While France, Germany, Sweden and other EU states are expected to support most of the estimated 20 resolutions to be adopted against Israel by December, the same European nations have failed to introduce a single UNGA resolution on the human rights situation in China, Venezuela, Saudi Arabia, Cuba, Turkey, Pakistan, Vietnam, Algeria, or on 175 other countries,” said Neuer. “Where’s their supposed concern for international law and human rights?”

“Three of today’s resolutions concern UNRWA — yet none mentions that the agency chief was fired last year after top management engaged in what the UN’s own internal probe described as ‘sexual misconduct, nepotism, retaliation, discrimination and other abuses of authority, for personal gain.’ All EU states are complicit in this conspiracy of silence that enables the culture of impunity at UNRWA.”

“One of today’s resolutions—drafted and co-sponsored by Syria—falsely condemns Israel for ‘repressive measures’ against Syrian citizens in the Golan Heights,” said Neuer. “This is but the latest act in the UN’s theater of the absurd.”

UAE, Bahrain, Sudan join huge majority backing anti-Israel moves at UN panel

A committee at the United Nations General Assembly on Wednesday passed with overwhelming majorities a series of resolutions critical of Israel, lambasting the Jewish state, among other things, for ostensible human rights violations against Palestinians and “repressive measures” against Syrians in the Golan Heights.

The three Arab countries with which Jerusalem recently signed normalization agreements — the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Sudan — did not change their traditional voting pattern and supported all resolutions critical of Israel.

The motions are passed annually by the UN’s Special Political and Decolonization Committee, with minor adjustments, and ratified by member states in December. Nearly all European countries, including staunch allies of Israel such as Germany and the Czech Republic, traditionally support most of these resolutions.

Israel’s new ambassador to the UN, Gilad Erdan, participated in the debate that took place before the vote, making an impassioned but ultimately unsuccessful plea for countries to reject the motions.

“What is the point of these resolutions? Just to pave the way for future resolutions?” he asked. “By supporting these resolutions you are not only wasting UN resources, you are also sabotaging any chances of future peace.”

Erdan: UN Resolutions Only Perpetuate Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Gilad Erdan on Wednesday criticized UN bodies for consistently supporting anti-Israel resolutions that he said perpetuated the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Erdan made his remarks at the UN General Assembly Fourth Committee, where 139 countries adopted a resolution referring to Jerusalem’s Temple Mount solely by its Muslim name of Haram al-Sharif.

It was one of seven pro-Palestinian, anti-Israel resolutions passed on Wednesday. Endorsing the “resolutions package” were the Palestinian Authority, Cuba, Indonesia and other countries.

“What is the point of these resolutions? Just to pave the way for future resolutions?” Erdan asked. “By supporting these resolutions you are not only wasting UN resources; you are also sabotaging any changes of future peace.”

“Instead of persuading the Palestinians to choose the path of negotiations and peace, these resolutions only encourage them to harden their positions. Every voice in favor of these resolutions is another step toward turning the UN into an irrelevant body,” Erdan said.

Erdan assailed the UN for supporting a resolution pertaining to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), saying that “one of the biggest reasons for the UN’s failure in ending the conflict is its continued support of UNRWA. Simply put, UNRWA’s very existence makes the Israeli-Palestinian conflict unsolvable, and I don’t intend to allow business as usual anymore.”

Blaming the victim: Theo van Gogh, and the end of Free Speech

But “dishonor” cannot be allowed to legitimize violence. If it were, the disgruntled employee who has just been fired should have every right to shoot his former boss, the jilted fiancé the right to burn his beloved’s face with acid. And yet, while Muslim extremists slice the throats of men and women at prayer, the Times and others busy themselves with accusations that the French have failed to integrate their Muslim population – which is to say, it is not the fault of the attackers. It is the fault of the French people. Worse, France not only “had it coming,” but their treatment of Muslims is on par, somehow, with Muslim extremists’ treatment of them.

We know these stories. If only the boy had been silent while his father was reading, he would have been spared the whipping with a belt. If only the young woman had agreed to marry her suitor, he never would have disfigured her. If Theo van Gogh had kept from speaking out against the abuse of Muslim women, he would still be alive today.

It is an argument verging on the obscene. As Brendan O’Neill so astutely noted in Spiked, “This is as morally degenerate as it would be to say that the Muslims massacred in Christchurch by the racist terrorist Brenton Tarrant brought it upon themselves by attending mosque – don’t they know that’s offensive to white-nationalist extremists?” Equally, this argument would say it was the fault of the 69 children of liberal Norwegians that their parents weren’t racist that on July 22, 2011, white supremacist Anders Breivik bloodied the island of Utoya with their bodies.

To accept any of these events as just, as true, is to adopt the values and the behaviors of extremism. And it has no place in civilized society, or in a post-Enlightenment western world – a fact that even some Muslim rulers have confirmed. Anwar Gargash, the UAE’s minister of foreign affairs, recently sided with Macron in the French president’s clash with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan over the Mohammed cartoons.

“With his attacks on France, Erdogan manipulates a religious issue for political purposes,” a courageous Gargash told German newspaper Die Welt. “You should listen to what Macron really said in his speech: he doesn’t want the ghettoisation of Muslims in the west, and he is absolutely right.”

And Abu Dhabi crown prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan categorically rejected using “hate speech” as a justification for violence or terrorism, according to Gulf News.

That these men understand what so many Western leaders seem not to recognize is at once heartening and disturbing – heartening to see leaders in the Arab world condemn the terrorists, and not the victims, but disturbing that more Westerners fail to understand why this response matters.

In a tribute to Van Gogh written after his murder, then-Dutch politician Ayaan Hirsi Ali recalled his words even as he faced the threats against him: “As soon as such considerations dissuade you from expressing your opinion, isn’t that the end of free speech?”

Yes. Yes, it is.

MEMRI: Former Kuwaiti Oil Minister: Boycotting French Products Is Not The Way To Restore The Honor Of The Prophet, Who Preached Forgiveness, Not Revenge

In his November 5, 2020 column in the English-language Kuwaiti daily Arab Times, former Kuwaiti oil minister Ahmed Al-Baghli wrote against the Arab boycott of French products in response to the recent publication of the Muhammad cartoons by the French magazine Charlie Hebdo. Al-Baghli noted that, according to the president of the French Council of the Muslim Faith, Mohammed Moussaoui, Muslims are not persecuted in France, for they are free to construct mosques and practice their faith. Al-Baghli added that, although the cartoons of the Prophet are indeed offensive, Muslims must consider their reaction rationally. They must remember that revenge was not the way of the Prophet, who pardoned his adversaries and exhorted his followers to do the same. Furthermore, he said, boycotting French products harms Muslims who import these products and use them more than it harms the French economy.

The following is his article:[1] “President of the French Council of the Muslim Faith (CFCM) Mohammed Moussaoui said, ‘Muslims are not persecuted in France.’ This comes at a time when demonstrations and calls to boycott French products intensify following the statements made by French President Macron regarding the offensive cartoons depicting the noble Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). Moussaoui told Agence France-Presse (AFP) that, ‘France is a big country. Muslim citizens are not persecuted. They freely construct their mosques and freely practice their religion.’ He urged French Muslims to ‘defend the interests’ of the nation in the face of the international outcry (Al-Shahid daily, Oct 27 issue).

“We are definitely against what happened in terms of the offense committed against our noble Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), but we must think about how to rationally respond to such offenses.

“Boycotting French products will not restore the honor of our noble Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) whose mission on this earth was to fulfill the best of moral behaviors. Revenge is not part of the great morality represented by the best creation of all, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). The act of revenge prevailed in the pre-Islamic era among Arabs, alongside aggression of the weak against the strong, dishonoring the principles of neighborliness and dishonesty, all of which were against the core teachings of the great Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).

“It is enough that Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) pardoned his antagonist who caused him and Muslims in general to suffer at that time to such an extent that they were forced to migrate and leave their hometown Makkah. That was not the end of it, but it continued for a decade until the Prophet returned to his hometown victorious and pardoned all the enemies of Islam. His actions in this regard was in accordance with the eternal Islamic teaching – ‘Forgive when able …’

Belgian City of Antwerp Boosts Protection for Jewish Community After Vienna Attack

Authorities in Belgium have announced additional measures to secure the Jewish community in the city of Antwerp following the terrorist attack in the Austrian capital of Vienna on Monday.

Antwerp Mayor Bart De Wever said on Tuesday that the decision had been taken based on police intelligence reports indicating a rising risk.

The size of Antwerp’s mainly Orthodox Jewish community is estimated at around 20,000 people.

A spokesperson for the community advised “extra vigilance” in the coming weeks.

“The Jewish community in our country is in full alert after the attack in Vienna,” Michael Freilich said in a statement.

“Synagogues and Jewish cultural centers are closed, but a number of schools provide emergency accommodation and kosher supermarkets are of course also open,” Freilich added. “The mayor of Antwerp immediately had extra security measures activated, for which the Jewish community is grateful.”

According to OCAD, the Belgian government agency responsible for analyzing terrorist threats, Antwerp’s community is facing a “Level 3” threat, which indicates a serious possibility of a terrorist attack.

Neo-Nazi Gunman Who Attacked German Synagogue on Yom Kippur Is Fully Culpable, Expert Tells Trial

Neo-Nazi gunman Stephan Balliet on trial in Germany. Photo: Reuters / Christian Schroedter.

The German neo-Nazi who carried out a gun attack on Yom Kippur services at a synagogue in the city of Halle in October 2019 was not suffering from a pathological disorder and was fully responsible for his act, an expert psychologist said in court on Wednesday.

The gunman, Stephan Balliet, murdered two people — a passerby and a customer in a nearby kebab restaurant — after failing to penetrate the security doors of the Halle synagogue, where more than 50 worshipers were holding Yom Kippur prayers inside the sanctuary.

Speaking at 28-year-old Balliet’s trial at a court in the city of Magdeburg, psychologist Norbert Leygraf said that Balliet suffered from a “complex personality disorder” alongside “features of autism.”

But Leygraf was not convinced that Balliet exhibited pathological tendencies.

He said that Balliet had carried out his preparations for the attack “meticulously.” Balliet’s ideological views had been formed through contact with like-minded extremists on the internet, supplying him with a worldview in which “xenophobic beliefs and paranoid conspiracy theories are combined with antisemitism.”

Leygraf concluded that Balliet was completely culpable for his act and that there was no reason to diminish his culpability from a “psychiatric point of view.”

Balliet’s trial began in July amid renewed concern over growing antisemitism in Germany.

MEMRI: Mumbai-Based Barelvi Islamist Organization Raza Academy Leads Anti-France Protests Over ‘Charlie Hebdo’ Cartoons Controversy

Amid the ongoing Charlie Hebdo cartoons controversy in France, the Mumbai-based Islamist organization Raza Academy has emerged as one of the lead groups in India at the forefront of anti-France protests. Though it calls itself an “Academy,” it has absolutely nothing to do with research and academic work. It is a religious organization with a militant intellectual outlook. In 1988, it was the first Islamic organization in the world to issue a fatwa (“religious decree”) against the British-Indian author Salman Rushdie for his novel The Satanic Verses – a year before Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Khomeini issued a fatwa calling for Rushdie’s murder.

In January 2012, the Indian government was forced to issue a security alert following threats from the Raza Academy to British-Indian novelist Salman Rushdie.[1] At a protest in Mumbai in January 2012, the Raza Academy called for the murder of Salman Rushdie. The protest was organized against Rushdie’s planned visit to the Indian city of Jaipur to attend an annual literary festival. To prevent Rushdie’s visit to Jaipur, Muhammad Saeed Noori, the General Secretary of Raza Academy, announced a reward of 100,000 rupees “to anyone who would hurl a slipper on [Salman] Rushdie during his visit to Jaipur.”[2] Noori successfully forced the Indian government to prevent Rushdie from visiting India. His influence is so much that the Indian government did not allow Rushdie to speak to the audiences at the Jaipur Literary Festival even via a video conference.

The Raza Academy owes its allegiance to the Barelvi school of Sunni Islam. The Barelvi movement in Sunni Islam was established by Ahmad Raza Khan (1856-1921) of Bareilly, a northern Indian town. Raza Academy has branches in dozens of countries, including in the cities of: Colombo, Sri Lanka; Durban and Johannesburg, South Africa; and Lahore, Pakistan.[3] The Barelvis call themselves Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat, or the people of the Prophet’s tradition. In recent years, a misconception has grown deep that the Barelvi sect is peaceful. Such a misconception emanates from the fact that Barelvi Muslims visit Sufi shrines and approve of syncretic practices such as music and dance at those shrines.

Israeli Minister Warns Potential Biden Policy Change on Iran Could Lead to War

A US policy shift on Iran could lead to war between Israel and Tehran, Israeli Minister of Settlement Affairs Tzachi Hanegbi warned on Wednesday night, speaking to Channel 13 News.

Despite expectations that Democratic candidate Joe Biden will be harder on settlements, a matter that will directly affect the settlement minister, Hanegbi said the Iran deal is what worries him.

“Biden has said openly for a long time that he’ll go back to the nuclear agreement,” Hanegbi said, referring to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action US President Donald Trump withdrew from in 2018.

“I see that as something that will lead to a confrontation between Israel and Iran,” he said. Hanegbi praised Trump’s policy of “maximum pressure” on Iran, saying it “works and we see results.”

Hanegbi said he sided with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s view, shared by most Israelis according to the settlement minister, that the Iran deal signed by former US President Barack Obama in 2015 was a mistake.

“If Biden stays with that policy,” he said, “there will, in the end, be a violent confrontation between Israel and Iran.”

Sovereignty Movement supports annexation moves before any Biden takeover

Amid tensions surrounding the elections results in the United States, the Sovereignty Movement in Israel has declared its support of Yamina MK Bezalel Smotrich in his call to establish facts in the potential application of sovereignty over parts of the West Bank.

The issue has become more pressing for the movement because if Joe Biden emerges victorious from the US elections, his government will resume power in January.

Biden has expressed opposition in the past to Israeli plans to annex settlements in the West Bank under President Donald Trump’s “Deal of the Century.”

Sovereignty movement leaders Yehudit Katsover and Nadia Matar called upon all members of the Knesset’s national camp and Land of Israel loyalists who support the application of sovereignty “to join the call of MK Smotrich and to exert significant political pressure to exploit the window of opportunity created in the interval between the two US administrations in order to apply sovereignty without establishing a Palestinian state.”

Benjamin Netanyahu prepared for Joe Biden prevailing

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has understood American politics since his teen years living in the swing state of Pennsylvania.

True, he clashed with Democratic presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. Republican politicians in the US have said they see Netanyahu as a mentor. But Likud officials said the prime minister would get along well with Democratic candidate Joe Biden if he won Tuesday’s election. Sources close to Netanyahu revealed that he prepared for the possibility of a victory by Biden. Netanyahu has close ties with American pollsters, and he knew that his close ally, US President Donald Trump, had to fight an uphill battle.

Looking back, Netanyahu’s first step in preparing for a Biden victory was the surprising headline he gave The Jerusalem Post in an interview in February.

The headline was “Netanyahu to ‘Post’: Democratic president can’t stop Trump plan.” In retrospect, it could be very important.

Netanyahu was talking specifically about annexation plans that did not end up getting implemented, but also more generally about Trump’s approach to the Middle East.

“Once the Trump plan is put forward, the goalposts will have been moved, and it will be very difficult for any administration to move them back,” Netanyahu said.

Next Congress Likely to Continue a Strong Jewish Presence

Despite comprising just 2 percent of the total US population, Jews have always played an outsized role in politics.

In the outgoing 116th Congress, nine Jewish members served in the Senate and 27 served in the House of Representatives. Reflective of American Jewish voting patterns overall, every Jewish member of the Senate and 25 members in the House are Democrats or caucus with Democrats, with the exceptions of David Kutsoff (R-Tenn.) and Lee Zeldin (R-NY).

While Congress traditionally does not play a prominent role in foreign policy, support for the State of Israel has long been a bipartisan consensus view. However, with the election of several supporters of the BDS movement in Congress comes concerns about the erosion of support on the left. At the same time, Jewish congressional members also largely reflect the liberal and progressive views of the majority of Jewish Americans, with support for expanding access to health care, climate change, reproductive rights, racial justice and gun control.

Here is a breakdown of how Jewish candidates have fared so far in the Nov. 3 general election.

Exit polls show Trump with historic support from Jewish voters

President Trump received more than 30% of the Jewish vote across the country on Election Day, a record-setting number for a Republican nominee going back three decades.

Exit polling of Jewish voters conducted by the Republican Jewish Coalition showed Trump with 30.5% with this bloc versus Democratic nominee Joe Biden, an improvement of 6.5 percentage points over his performance four years ago. That figure translated into even more support from Jews in Florida, a critical swing state where media-conducted exit polls showed Trump receiving more than 40% of the vote from this cohort.

The Republican Jewish Coalition invested more than $5 million to turn out the Jewish vote for Trump in Florida. The group said their effort worked because the president’s message was appealing, as was, especially, his record on issues relating to Israel. During his first term, Trump moved the United States Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and negotiated peace agreements between Israel and three Arab nations.

“The Jewish community did respond to things that Donald Trump has done,” said Norm Coleman, national chairman of the Republican Jewish Coalition and a former Minnesota senator.

In exit polling of Florida conducted by Fox News and the Associated Press, Trump won 43% of the Jewish vote. Post-election surveys from the New York Times pegged the president’s support among Jews in the state at 41%. The Republican Jewish Coalition said Trump’s performance with this voting bloc was critical to his 3 percentage-point victory in Florida, a state he absolutely needed to win to reach 270 Electoral College votes and to secure a second term.

Nationally, the 30.5% of the Jewish vote Trump received was the highest level of support a Republican nominee for president has received from Jews going back to at least 1992. That year, George H.W. Bush received 11% of the Jewish vote, followed by Bob Dole four years later with 16%, George W. Bush in 2000 and 2004 with 19% and 24%, respectively, John McCain in 2008 with 22%, and Mitt Romney in 2012 with 30%.

Pro-Israel Progressive Ritchie Torres Elected to Congress From District Next to AOC’s

Strongly pro-Israel progressive Ritchie Torres of the Bronx will be among the new members of Congress this January, following his electoral victory on Tuesday.

The 32-year-old New York City Council member easily won his race in the 15th Congressional District, making him the first openly-gay black or Latino man to be elected to Congress.

Torres’ district is located next to that represented by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, whose record on Israel-related issues is generally viewed as hostile, but Torres is very much a supporter of the Jewish state.

In an interview with Jewish Insider last year, Torres said he was pro-Israel “not despite my progressive values, but because of my progressive values.”

Addressing the issue of the BDS movement, Torres said, “The attempt to delegitimize Israel, the attempt to question Israel’s right to exist or right to defend itself, that, to me, crosses the line to destructive criticism.”

“I consider anti-Zionism a form of antisemitism, and I am not going to give consideration to antisemitic voices, voices that are dedicated to delegitimizing Israel as a Jewish state,” he added.

“The notion that you cannot be both progressive and pro-Israel is a vicious lie, because I am the embodiment of a pro-Israel progressive,” Torres asserted.

Cori Bush, Democrat who supports BDS, wins Missouri congressional race

Cori Bush, a Democrat who expressed support for the movement to boycott Israel, is set to become the St. Louis area’s next congresswoman.

Reps. Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib, who also support the movement to boycott, divest from and sanction Israel — known as BDS — are also expected to win.

A now-deleted page on Bush’s campaign website had said she supported BDS. If she still holds those views, it will bring the number of BDS supporters in the Democratic caucus to three.

Projections are showing that Bush will win St. Louis’ traditionally Democratic seat handily, defeating Republican Anthony Rogers. She defeated Lacy Clay, the longtime Democratic incumbent, in a primary earlier this year.

‘This is Why We Don’t Do Democracy,’ Arab Leaders Explain (satire)

Pointing both to the confusion in counting the vote in the US presidential election and the likely prospect of a head of state losing power, leaders across the Arab world are pointing to the US presidential election as a warning of the evils of democracy.

“When we have an election, we never spend days and days waiting for the results,” explained Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. “We know who has won the night of the election, and sometimes the night before.”

Middle Eastern officials also noted questions of whether President Donald Trump would concede defeat and leave office if the vote does not turn out in his favor.

“I will never have to worry about losing an election, giving a concession speech, and all that bullshit,” said Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. “I will serve until the day I choose to retire, or until the army drags me out and throws me in prison to appease an angry mob.”

Israel set to receive new warship to defend gas rigs from missile attack

The Israeli Navy is slated next week to receive the first of four new German-made Sa’ar-6-class corvettes, stuffed to the gills with sensors, weapons and defensive systems to aid them in their task of protecting Israel’s natural gas rigs and trade routes.

As Israel tapped into the natural gas reserves located in its territorial waters just over a decade ago, the government officially designated them a strategic national asset and tasked the navy with defending them. This was no small feat for the navy, which until then was primarily concerned with protecting Israel’s coast.

The arrival of the Sa’ar-6, planned for Wednesday, is expected to significantly boost Israel’s ability to protect the country’s two operational gas rigs from missiles and other types of attacks.

Every nearly 2,000-ton missile ship is equipped with two Iron Dome interceptor launchers — known as the Naval Dome — to intercept ballistic missiles and a Barak-8 battery to shoot down cruise missiles.

The ships are also covered in some 260 static radar arrays — known as a phased array — that allow them to detect incoming projectiles and aircraft in the sky, as well as ships and low-flying cruise missiles at sea level. In the past, a ship would have needed two separate radar systems, one to detect objects at sea level and one to scan the skies. That the 260 or so arrays stay in place also means that the ship is less easily detectable than vessels with radar systems that rotate.

EU, UN condemn Israeli demolition of West Bank Palestinian hamlet

The European Union and the United Nations have condemned the Israeli demolition of a Palestinian community in the Jordan Valley on Tuesday, which rendered around 73 Palestinians — including 41 children — homeless.

Such demolitions constitute “an impediment to the two-state solution,” the EU spokesperson said in a statement Thursday.

“The EU reiterates its call on Israel to halt all such demolitions, including of EU-funded structures, in particular in light of the humanitarian impact of the current coronavirus pandemic,” the spokesperson said.

Israel’s military liaison to the Palestinians said the army had destroyed structures erected illegally in a military live-fire zone. The site in question, Khirbet Husma, is one of 38 Bedouin communities on land the Israeli military has designated for training, the UN said.

“An enforcement activity was carried out by the Supervision Unit of the Civil Administration against 7 tents and 8 pens which were illegally constructed in a firing range located in the Jordan Valley,” the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) said in a statement.

Palestinians Call for Boycotting Israel, Then Ask Israel To Save Their Lives

Particularly outrageous is the fact that Erekat was admitted to an Israeli hospital for the best medical treatment at a time when the Palestinian government is denying ordinary Palestinians permits to go to Israeli hospitals.

The Palestinian official’s treatment in an Israeli hospital shows that the Palestinians themselves “are in a reality of full normalization with Israel.” — Nadim Koteich, Lebanese journalist, Asharq Al-Awsat, October 27, 2020.

The fact that Erekat chose to go to an Israeli, and not a Jordanian hospital, was a sign that he “has full confidence in the Israelis despite his public statements against them.” —, October 19, 2020

If and when Erekat recovers from his current illness and returns to his family, it would behoove him to apologize to the UAE and Bahrain for having denounced their normalization agreements with Israel. Next, he might want to apologize to the Palestinian people for depriving them of the superb medical treatment that he himself received at Hadassah Hospital.

Perhaps Erekat might also consider thanking the Israeli doctors who worked around the clock to keep him alive. Additionally, he can thank the Israeli medical teams and soldiers who escorted him from his home in Jericho to Jerusalem. Finally, Erekat might inform the world that he regrets having called for the boycott of Israel — the country he knew he could turn to save his life, no matter what harm he had inflicted upon it.

Jordanian Army Chief Medical Officer Evacuated to Hadassah for Emergency Corona Treatment

A Jordanian helicopter landed Wednesday evening at Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem, with a patient that was described by sources in the hospital as a “senior” official who came to receive treatment for the coronavirus, Army Radio Meir Marciano reported.

Marciano added that the patient was the Jordanian Army’s Chief Medical Officer, Brigadier General Doctor Adel Al-Wahhadneh, Director General of Royal Medical Services.

Al-Wahhadneh’s Facebook page noted on Tuesday that he was in critical health and may be transferred to the Queen Alia Hospital in Amman because he is already on a respiratory support device, and if necessary, he would be placed on a ventilator.

Young Palestinian man living in Gaza tells of dream of moving to Dublin to study and escape ‘suppressors’

Gaza is governed by the Hamas, who have been in charge of the strip since 2006.

Kareem has been part of organised protests against Hamas rule in the strip by Gaza citizens – protests that have allegedly been cracked down on hard by the ruling forces.

In 2018, a Human Rights Watch report alleged Palestinian authorities “routinely use torture” against dissenters, including using cables to wrench their arms behind them to tear their shoulders apart.

Kareem makes his feelings very clear towards the political situation, saying he has “lost all meaning of life” at home.

“Here we live in a reactionary tyranny and do not discuss ideas,” Kareem claims.

“You are directly suppressed, if you express your opinion.

“I am also, here, a human rights activist against the Hamas movement. I have been arrested more than once and have gone out in many demonstrations against them and have been severely suppressed.

“I also worked in fishing for a while, but I was prevented from doing so by the ruling authorities here under the pretext that I did not obtain a license.

“We went out in more than one demonstration, the last of which was the Hirak We Want to Live in 2019, but it was severely suppressed by security.

JCPA: Iranian Intelligence Services Abduct Opposition Activists from Abroad

Iran’s security and intelligence services have renewed their active espionage and intelligence operations abroad, targeting opposition activists worldwide, especially in Europe. Iran’s primary modus operandi is to lure them to various countries in the region – Turkey or the United Arab Emirates – to abduct them and transfer them for investigation and trial in Iran. Sometimes Iranian agents assassinate them on European soil.

During the 1990s, Iranian intelligence agencies carried out a series of assassinations of top leaders of Iranian opposition organizations operating in Europe. However, in recent years, Tehran has refrained from carrying out high profile assassinations in an attempt to improve relations with European countries and harness them to combat sanctions imposed on Iran.

The executive committee of the “Arab Struggle Movement for the Liberation of Ahwaz” (ASMLA) announced on October 30, 2020, that the former party leader and current deputy head, Habib Asyoud (also known as Habib Farjallah Kaabi), was abducted in Turkey by Iranian intelligence services – the Ministry of Intelligence of the Islamic Republic of Iran (MOIS) and the Intelligence Organization of the Islamic Revolutionary Habib Asyoud, a Swedish citizen who lives and works in Sweden and other Western European countries, such as Denmark, is one of the founders of the Arab Struggle Movement for the Liberation of al-Ahwaz (ASMLA). The separatist movement functions in Iran’s oil-rich province, Khuzestan, in the southwest of the country. Habib Asyoud was considered the party leader until the day he disappeared.

The movement is called “AlNidal” (“the Struggle” in Arabic) by the Iranian Arabs and was established in 2005. The Iranian authorities have accused Saudi intelligence of supporting and launching the movement.

Iran Foreign Minister Arrives in Venezuela to Start Latin America Tour

Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has arrived in Venezuela for the start of a tour of Latin America, Venezuela’s Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday, amid intense efforts by Washington to limit Iran’s influence in the western hemisphere.

Zarif is also scheduled to visit Cuba and to attend the inauguration of Bolivian president-elect Luis Arce, who has said he will strengthen ties with Iran.

He was “received by Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza upon his arrival to the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, where he will carry out an intense work agenda at the highest level,” Venezuela’s Foreign Ministry wrote on Twitter.

Tehran has become a crucial ally for Caracas as the United States tightens sanctions meant to force President Nicolas Maduro from power.

Iran has sent two flotillas of fuel tankers to Venezuela this year to help resolve debilitating gasoline shortages in the South American nation, spurred by a collapse in its refining network as well as the sanctions, which have complicated fuel imports from more traditional trade partners.

This Week on “Tehran”: Iran hacks into the Mossad Fax Machine! (satire)

Israeli viewers are losing their minds over Channel 11’s amazing new Series “Tehran”, the story of a Mossad agent named Tamar who goes deep undercover in Iran and the Iranian Secret Police’s attempts to find her. In fact, Apple TV just bought the rights to distribute it worldwide! Start Up Nation in the House! Here at the Daily Freier we have been watching this show on the edge of our seats, so we were really excited about this week’s episode where the Iranians hack into the Mossad’s Fax machine in order to locate Tamar. The Daily Freier spent the morning wandering around Dizengoff Square discussing the episode with random people. (Spoiler Alert!)

“The series is just so realistic!” raved Adi, a yoga instructor. “When the Iranian Double Agent pretends to be Israeli but then he says ‘Sorry’ and blows his cover? Incredible.”

The Daily Freier then spoke to Alon, who was walking 12 dogs when we met up with him. “My favorite scene was where the Iranian hackers inside Mossad Headquarters lose Internet access at the very last minute because of Hot Mobile’s poor Customer Service. It just made me feel incredibly proud to be Israeli.“

“I really liked the scene where the Iranians are about to intercept an important fax.” explained Alert Local Ronit S. “But the machine runs out of paper because the office manager was on maternity leave and left the key to the supply cabinet at home!“

Tune in next week when the Iranians hack into Yair Netanyahu’s Twitter account and decide not to change a thing!

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