December 10, 2019

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11/05 Links Pt1: ‘I like your frame on this’: Warren nods as supporter claims US backs ‘genocide in Palestine’; It’s Time to Close Down UNRWA; Israel’s Supreme Court rules HRW Director can be deported over BDS

http://elderofziyon.blogspot.com/2019/11/1105-links-pt1-i-like-your-frame-on.html

From Ian:


‘I like your frame on this’: Warren nods as supporter claims US backs ‘genocide in Palestine’
Elizabeth Warren nodded along with an attendee at her town hall event while he claimed the American military supported genocide.

The Massachusetts senator and 2020 presidential hopeful took questions from the crowd in Grinnell, Iowa, on Monday, with one attendee saying, “Right now, the United States is bombing at least seven countries. We support genocides in Palestine and in Yemen. The U.S. military is actually the biggest polluter of any organization in the world.”

He continued, “United States sanctions on Venezuela caused over 40,000 deaths, and we also have sanctions on many other countries like Iran, North Korea, and you can name many more.”

The attendee asked Warren, “I’m wondering, as president, will you stop U.S.-supported murder, whether it’s through sanctions, arms support, or boots on the ground?”

Warren responded, “I like your frame on this.”

Republican Jewish group’s campaign slams Democrats as a ‘disgrace’ — in Yiddish

The Republican Jewish Coalition on Sunday launched a $10 million campaign — an unprecedented amount in partisan Jewish advertising — with online ads depicting 2020 Democratic US presidential candidates as a “disgrace.”

Videos titled “Shanda,” Yiddish for “disgrace,” blast the Democrats for saying they would consider reducing aid to Israel.

“The radical Left has taken the reins of the Democratic Party, and their policy proposals will devastate our national security, our alliance with Israel, our economy, and our health care system,” Matt Brooks, the RJC’s executive director, said in a statement announcing the release of the 15- to 30-second ads.

The placement of the videos on Facebook, YouTube and other media will cost $50,000. Brooks confirmed to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency a report in Axios that the RJC had budgeted $10 million for its 2020 efforts.

In the spots, “leading Democrats” are accused of “turning their back” on Israel. They show House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, who is Jewish.

It’s Time to Close Down UNRWA

UNRWA’s top official, Commissioner-General Pierre Krähenbühl, was accused of appointing as an adviser a woman with whom he was romantically involved. The pair traveled on business class flights across the globe. Deputy Commissioner-General Sandra Mitchell was accused of bullying and of manipulating the system to find a well-paid job for her spouse, Robert Langridge, who was promoted. Chief of Staff Hakam Shahwan was accused of behaving like a thug, placing people loyal to him in positions of power, and lobbying to take over UNRWA operations in Jerusalem.

Perhaps not surprisingly in view of the above, the agency has adopted a culture of secrecy about itself. It employs about 30,000 people (compared to the UNHCR’s 11,000 for the rest of the world’s 17 million refugees and displaced persons). Most of its staff are Palestinians and many are known members of Hamas (indeed, Hamas membership helps one get a UN job). Peter Hansen, UNRWA’s former Commissioner-General (1996–2005), admitted in an interview with CBS that there are Hamas members on the UNRWA payroll. For example, the chairman of UNRWA’s Palestinian workers’ union, Suhail al-Hindi, is a member of Hamas’ new political leadership.

Retired IDF Col. Yoni Fighel, a former military governor in the territories, notes that as long as UNRWA employees are members of Hamas, they are going to pursue the interests of that organization within the framework of their job.

The agency was threatened with closure after the Trump administration implemented severe cuts following reports that proved rockets had been hidden inside UNRWA schools. UN Secretary-General António Guterres, who sat on the ethics findings for months, claims he is “committed to acting swiftly on the corruption allegations.”

The UN originally made clear that UNRWA’s mandate would be short-term, indicating that the refugee issue should be solved expeditiously through repatriation or resettlement. In the words of former UN Secretary-General Trygve Lie, “The refugees will lead an independent life in countries that have sheltered them. Except for the ‘hardcore’ cases, the refugees will no longer be maintained by an international organization as they are at present. They will be integrated into the economic system of the countries of asylum and will themselves provide for their own needs and those of their families.”

Palestinian residents of Arab states — all of whom are considered refugees by UNRWA — should become citizens of those states, as they are in Jordan.

Israel’s Supreme Court rules HRW Director can be deported over BDS

In a landmark anti-BDS ruling the High Court of Justice has paved the way for Israel to deport Human Rights Watch’s local director Omar Shakir for his support of boycott activity against Israel.

Human Rights Watch is weighing an appeal to a larger judicial panel of the verdict by a three judges. If not appeal is lodged, Shakir could be asked to leave the country within 20-day.

The ruling is a victory for those who hold that advocates of the Boycott, Sanctions and Divestment Movement are acting against the state and are not engaged in legitimate criticism of Israel. Opponents view it as part of a movement to suppress human rights advocacy in Israel.

Shakir, who is a US citizen, immediately tweeted that if the HCJ decision is upheld, Israel will “join ranks of Iran, N Korea & Egypt in blocking access for @hrw official. We wont stop. And we wont be the last.”

Minister for Strategic Affairs Gilad Erdan [Likud] expressed his satisfaction over the verdict.

“I applaud the decision of the Supreme Court that accepted my Ministry and the Interior Minister’s position that a work visa should not be given to a foreign boycott activist who wants to harm Israel and its citizens,” he said in a statement.

“Omar Shakir is a BDS activist who took advantage of his stay in Israel to harm it, something no sane country would allow. Israel sees great importance in the activities of real human rights organizations, granting hundreds of visas every year to human rights activists. HRW is welcome to appoint another representative in Israel in place of Shakir if it chooses to do so,” he added.

NGO Monitor: Resource Page on Omar Shakir (HRW) Court Case

On November 5, 2019, the Supreme Court rejected Shakir’s appeal and upheld the ruling of the Lower Court that his work visa will not be renewed.

In October 2016, Human Rights Watch (HRW) hired Omar Shakir to serve as its “Israel and Palestine Country Director.” Shakir has been a consistent supporter of a one-state framework and advocate for BDS (boycotts, divestment, sanctions) campaigns, fitting the longstanding HRW practice of hiring anti-Israel activists to serve in key positions relating to Israel.

In May 2018, due to Shakir’s BDS ties, the Israeli Ministry of Interior chose not to renew his work visa. HRW and Shakir have been challenging this decision in Israeli courts. In April 2019, he lost his case in the Jerusalem District Court and immediately appealed to the Israeli Supreme Court. The hearing took place on September 24, 2019. While Shakir regularly assails Israel for its “lack of democracy,” in fact, the Israeli courts allowed him to remain in the country during his appeal process despite having no obligation to do so.

Omar Shakir’s background and history of anti-Israel activity exemplifies the organization’s troubling ideological approach to Israel and retreat from the universal principles of human rights.1

Guardian fails to challenge the lies of HRW’s Omar Shakir

The Guardian is adept at amplifying, and failing to critically scrutinise, the unsubstantiated claims and accusations of anti-Israel NGOs, and today’s article about the Israeli Supreme Court decision on Human Right Watch’s regional director Omar Shakir – a long time BDS activist – follows this pattern.

First, as we predicted in a tweet before the article by Oliver Holmes (“Israel can deport Human Rights Watch official, court rules”, Nov. 5th) was published, the piece uncritically cites Shakir’s simply unhinged response to the court’s decision:
Shakir wrote on Twitter that if he was kicked out, Israel would join the ranks of Iran, North Korea and Egypt in blocking access to Human Rights Watch staff. “We won’t stop. And we won’t be the last,” he said.

The truth is that democracies all over the world reserve the right to deny entry to those seen as intent on harming the state. Moreover, there are in excess of 350 NGOs (such as HRW) operating freely in Israel, even those who continually deligitimise the state, support BDS and even reject Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state.

The denial of a work visa to one employee of one of these NGOs – after careful consideration by the country’s internationally respected supreme court – wouldn’t even minimally change the democratic nature of Israel. The human rights organisation Freedom House continually ranks Israel as the only truly free and democratic country in the region, and the suggestion that this status will change due merely to the supreme court’s decision on Shakir’s work visa is risible.

In a subsequent paragraph in the article, Holmes makes the following claim about the broader effort by Israel to fight BDS – a movement, let’s remember, whose leaders oppose the continued existence of a Jewish state.

‘A unity government is dead, and Israel is on its way to a 3rd election’

There is virtually no chance, and if there is no dramatic breakthrough in negotiations, Israel will be facing its third general election in a year, senior political officials from the Likud, Blue and White, Yisrael Beytenu, and the New Right were saying Monday.

According to one official, the two sides are farther apart than ever, particularly since Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s spokespeople were questioned by police last week.

The same official said that Blue and White was waiting for Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit to decide whether or not to indict Netanyahu. Mendelblit is expected to make his decision in early December. For Blue and White, even if Mendelblit were to drop the count of bribery, any indictment would be the final nail in the coffin of any possibility of forming a government with Netanyahu, he explained.

On the other hand, the official said, Netanyahu wants to remain prime minister, even if he is indicted. Therefore, he will not step down, and will apparently retain the support of the Likud and the smaller right-wing parties when and if he is under indictment.

The official said that as of Monday night, it was clear that neither the Likud nor the right-wing bloc would oust Netanyahu and would prefer to hold a third election, even at their detriment.

He also said that Blue and White leader Benny Gantz’s position was shaky and even if he wanted to adopt the compromise put forth by President Reuven Rivlin, he would not be able to negotiate it.

“A unity government is dead, and Israel is on its way to a third election,” the official said.

Sderot youth challenge MKs to take up their cause

In the middle of Sderot, near the Gaza border, 120 chairs sat empty on a lawn on Sunday, waiting for MKs to fill them.

The chairs were set up by young residents of Sderot to represent the 120 MKs who they say they feel abandoned them as rockets continue to be fired at them from Gaza on a regular basis, including on Friday.

“Elections are important and coalition negotiations are important,” organizers wrote. “Even investigations are important, recordings are important, indictments are important. And also a memorial ceremony [for former prime minister Yitzhak Rabin] is important.”

“Hey, how did we forget?” they continued. “A plane for the prime minister is important and so are demonstrations outside the attorney-general’s house, but wait, rockets on the residents of the South are not a little important.”

The residents said they’re sick of promises that are not being fulfilled.

“After a Shabbat full of fireworks in the sky, after the horror show organized by terrorists on the other side of the fence, we decided to stop being quiet.”

Dvir Sasi, a spokesman for the protest, said: “We welcome all the MKs to come to us and explain the situation to us, and listen to us, and tell us their solution.”

What does conviction of IDF soldier mean for ICC war crimes battle?

Twenty months into the Gaza border conflict, the IDF courts issued their first conviction of a soldier for shooting one of the approximately 350 Palestinians who have been killed.

At the same time, the sentence was a mere one month of community service since the conviction was not for a more serious charge, like manslaughter, but essentially for the low-grade offense of violating the rules of engagement for opening fire.

Why was this the result, and what does all of this mean for the broader big battle before the International Criminal Court (ICC) over whether Israel’s legal system complies with international law or whether it has committed war crimes?

Official and unofficial statements from the IDF were short on details, leaving some critics to speculate about potential improper intentions.

Essentially, they said that the unnamed IDF soldier had violated open fire regulations in shooting toward the 15-year-old Palestinian Othman Helles as he was climbing the Gaza security fence, but that IDF investigators could not establish for sure one way or another whether that soldier’s bullet was the one that killed him.

What does this mean? How can the IDF know the soldier fired illegally toward Helles without knowing whether his bullet was the “kill-shot”?

JPost Editorial: Recognize the Armenian genocide

About 105 years ago, the Armenian genocide began. Members of the Armenian community living in the Ottoman Empire were systematically exterminated at the orders of the governing authorities. As many as 1.5 million Armenians, an ethnic minority, were rounded up and murdered or deported to the deserts of Syria to die.

The Armenian genocide was well known in its time. The German military attaché to the Ottoman Empire described it as “total extermination” and other accounts provided graphic details of the horrors the survivors went through. Women were sold into slavery and raped, children were left to starve. In a prelude to the Holocaust and the crimes of ISIS, the slaughter of Armenians was an opening to a hundred years of similar mass murder events.

As a state founded in the wake of genocide, Israel knows too well what it means to be a small minority subjected to massacre and the systematic murder by a government. Like Armenians, Jews had to live as minorities under regimes such as the Germans or the Poles, enjoying “protection” so long as they did not get in the way of the state’s interests.

In late October, the US House of Representatives passed a resolution to recognize the Armenian genocide. It overwhelmingly passed with 405 votes and affirms that the US will record the genocide and provide “solemn remembrance of one of the great atrocities of the 20th century.” The US was moved to act because of recent tensions with Turkey.

Turkey protected Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi

Turkey protected ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi – and Trump should have known.

In his national address announcing that US Special Forces had killed Baghdadi, President Donald Trump commended Turkey while turning a blind eye to Turkey’s collusion with ISIS. While Trump thanked “the Syrian Kurds for certain support they were able to give us,” he downplayed the importance of intelligence provided by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which was critical to the mission.

We know that Turkey institutionalized support for jihadis after Syria’s President Bashar Assad attacked Syrian rebels in Ghouta using chemical weapons in September 2013, and that Turkey’s National Intelligence Agency (MIT) provided weapons, money and logistical support to jihadi groups that evolved into ISIS. Wounded ISIS warriors regularly showed up at Turkish hospitals in Gaziantep to receive medical care.

Baghdadi founded ISIS in the spring of 2014. ISIS attacked Mosul and Sinjar in June, terrorizing Yazidis and Kurds. Over five years, the so-called ISIS caliphate grew to the size of Great Britain, with eight million people under its control.

According to the SDF, “Turkey provides all kinds of support to the terrorist groups. These forces, trained and funded by Turkey, are engaged in a planned ethnic cleansing against our people.” Turkish-backed jihadis in the so-called Free Syrian Army (FSA) commit crimes on a daily basis in Turkish-occupied areas of Syria such as Afrin, Azaz, Bab, Jarablus and Idlib.

MEMRI: Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad: It Is Possible That Al-Baghdadi Has Been Kidnapped, Hidden, Or Had His Appearance Surgically Altered; Israel Has Been Behind The Scenes Throughout The War; Erdoğan Is Our Enemy

Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad was interviewed on Syria TV on October 31, 2019. He said that the extremist Wahhabi doctrine represented by Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi and ISIS will continue to exist even after ISIS is gone and that Al-Baghdadi had been released from American prisons in Syria in order to lead ISIS. Questioning whether Al-Baghdadi was really killed by the Americans, President Al-Assad suggested that he may have already been dead or that he may have been kidnapped, hidden, or had his appearance surgically altered. He said that the American operation to kill Al-Baghdadi was a trick and that American politics rely on imagination and resemble Hollywood. Later in the interview, President Al-Assad said that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is Syria’s enemy and that U.S President Donald Trump is the best president America has ever had because he is transparent about American policy and America’s interest in Middle Eastern oil.

In addition, President Al-Assad said that even though Turkey is occupying parts of Syria, negotiating with it would not suggest that Syria could also negotiate with Israel, because Syria does not recognize Israel as a state or the Israelis as a people the way it does Turkey and the Turks. He also said that Syria wants to gradually regain sovereignty in Kurdistan. Furthermore, President Al-Assad said that Israel’s influence is ever present in Syria, that Israel’s involvement in the Syrian civil war is a given even though it is not openly apparent, and that everything that has taken place in Syria has served the interests of Israel through proxies, agents, flunkies, or the United States. The English-subtitled version of the interview was uploaded to the Syrian Presidency’s YouTube channel.

Halkbank Says It Will Seek Dismissal of US Indictment, Judge’s Recusal

A lawyer for Turkey’s state-owned Halkbank, which has been criminally charged by US prosecutors with helping Iran evade sanctions, said in a letter on Monday that it would seek to dismiss the case and have the judge assigned to it recuse himself.

In a letter to US District Judge Richard Berman in Manhattan, Andrew Hruska, a lawyer for Halkbank, said the bank was not agreeing to appear in court on the charges. He asked that he be allowed to represent the bank for the limited purpose of arguing the dismissal and recusal motions.

A hearing is scheduled in the case on Tuesday, and prosecutors have said they may seek a fine against Halkbank if it refuses to appear.

A spokesman for the office of Manhattan US Attorney Geoffrey Berman, which is prosecuting the case, declined to comment. Hruska did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Federal prosecutors in Manhattan brought the criminal charges against Halkbank on Oct. 16. The bank called the charges an escalation of Washington’s sanctions on Ankara over its military incursion in Syria, while Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called them an “unlawful, ugly” step.

Hruska said in Monday’s letter that the bank’s “incidental contacts with the US are insufficient to establish… jurisdiction” in the New York federal court.

Khaled Abu Toameh: Fatah official: Abbas won’t seek reelection

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is not planning to run in the next presidential election, senior Fatah official Jibril Rajoub said in an interview with Palestine TV on Monday.

Rajoub’s announcement contradicts a statement by another senior Fatah official, Hussein al-Sheikh, who recently said that the only candidate of Fatah in the presidential election will be the 84-year-old Abbas.

“President Abbas is the only candidate of Fatah and honorable Palestinians,” Sheikh said.

Rajoub, who also heads the Palestinian Football Association, described Abbas as a “national treasure.” Abbas, he revealed, does not want to run in the election, and he won’t agree to be a candidate.

“Let us make him the sheikh of the tribe and the spiritual father of the democratic process,” Rajoub said. “In two months, President Abbas will celebrate his 85th birthday.”

In September, Abbas announced in a speech before the United Nations General Assembly that he intends to call for “general elections” in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem.

Rajoub, a former head of the PA’s Preventive Security Force in the West Bank, is seen by some Palestinians as a potential successor to Abbas. However, Rajoub did not say in the interview whether he intends to present his candidacy in the presidential election.

Rajoub’s announcement that Abbas won’t seek another term in office is likely to trigger a “war of succession” between several veteran PLO and Fatah officials who see themselves as suitable candidates to succeed the PA president.

Abbas himself has not said whether he intends to contest the next election. Moreover, he still hasn’t announced a date for holding new presidential and parliamentary elections.

The last Palestinian presidential election was held in 2005, when Abbas was elected for a four-year term. The last parliamentary election, held in 2006, resulted in a Hamas victory.

Rajoub expressed hope that Abbas would set a date for the new elections before the end of this year.

PMW: “The most despicable plot” – Palestinian reactions to the anniversary of the Balfour Declaration

The Balfour Declaration of Nov. 2, 1917 was a letter from British Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour to Zionist leader Baron Rothschild stating that “His Majesty’s government views with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people.”

Every year, PA officials condemn the Balfour Declaration and seem to compete in calling it names, denying its legitimacy, and refuting the validity of Jews’ right to a national home in “Palestine” as Palestinian Media Watch has reported. This year is no exception. Here are some examples of statements by PA officials and others about Balfour’s “ominous promise”:

PA Minister of Culture Atef Abu Saif stated that the Balfour Declaration is an “invalid promise” that Britain had no right to give, and that the Jews had no right to receive. He called it “a mark of disgrace in the history of humanity” and a “historic mistake,” and predicted that Israel/the Jews will disappear like previous “invaders”:
Minister Abu Saif: “Palestine belongs to the Palestinians, and the invaders will go away as those who preceded them went away…

He added: ‘The ominous promise, in which the one giving the promise permitted giving what is not his to one who has no right, was a mark of disgrace in the history of humanity. The historic mistake will only be corrected when the right returns to its owners.’”

[Donia Al-Watan, independent Palestinian news agency, Nov. 2, 2019]

The PA claims of the illegitimacy of Britain’s actions and Israel’s creation is illustrated by this image printed by the official PA daily, which shows the British and the Israeli flags in a no entry sign on the Balfour Declaration together with an image of Balfour and “Palestine”:

The PLO factions issued a joint statement on the anniversary that named the Balfour Declaration “the most despicable plot in the history of the peoples.” The PLO claimed that the “ominous promise” was the result of the convergence of interests of the “colonialist states” Britain and the US and the Zionist movement. The PLO repeated the PA claim that the colonial powers used the Jewish people as a pawn in the Middle East to gain control in the region, steal its resources, and prevent the Arab countries from developing:

Fatah: “We will defend our holy sites with our blood and our souls” “Jerusalem is ours”

Text: “The deal of the century will never pass. We will defend our holy sites with our blood and our souls” PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas: “This is not allowed. This cannot happen. This is a decisive moment, a dangerous moment for us. Our entire future is at stake. If Jerusalem is lost, what will you say afterwards?” Text: “Jerusalem is ours and you will never have a place in it” PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas: “This is a crucial moment that demands that every Palestinian present themselves immediately to quickly discuss the fate of the eternal capital [Jerusalem]. In politics: It’s the capital. In religion: It’s the capital. In geography: It’s the capital.” Text: “The shining rage will uproot the tyranny from our land” PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas: “Here we are sitting, here we are remaining. We will never repeat the mistakes of the past. We will not repeat the mistakes of 1948 or the mistakes of 1967. We are remaining here – occupation, settlements, whatever – We are remaining here!” Song lyrics: “The home is ours and Jerusalem is ours” Text: “The home is ours and Jerusalem is ours. And with our hands we will liberate it, Allah willing” Text: “Fatah Al-Asifa” (The Fatah logo includes a grenade, crossed rifles, and the PA map of “Palestine” that presents all of Israel as “Palestine” together with the PA areas.) [Official Fatah Facebook page, July 28, 2019]

Khaled Abu Toameh: Hamas Joins Iranian Plan to Foil Arabs’ Anti-Corruption Protests

Alnehaiwi added that the “popular revolutions against the [Iranian] occupiers and [Arab] executioners are a luminous point and milestone that will serve the interest of the Palestinian issue.” Noting that Hamas did the right thing when it sided with the Syrian people in their uprising against the regime of President Bashar Assad, the political analyst said:
“Hamas may regret its support for Iran. Hamas will lose a great deal if it continues to side with Iran and stands against the people who have revolted against [Iranian] occupation and the executioners.”

Such criticism, however, is unlikely to deter Hamas from pursuing its agenda of promoting Iran’s interests in the region. The Arabs who are risking their lives to demand good governance and an end to corruption are now being targeted by Iran and its puppets in the Gaza Strip, Lebanon and Iraq.

It now remains to be seen whether the Arabs who have finally woken up to realize that Iran — and not Israel — is the real threat to their well-being will be able to keep up the momentum and continue their uprising against corruption and Iranian dominance over their countries.

By continuing to align itself with Iran, Hamas is leading its people straight toward even greater suffering. The only way for the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip to alleviate their misery is by revolting against their “leaders” in Hamas. Instead of firing rockets at Israel and demonstrating at the Gaza-Israel border, Palestinians ought to learn from their brothers in Lebanon and Iraq who their real enemies are: Iranian-backed dictators and fake Palestinian leaders, who only know how to lead their people towards further suffering.

Hamas Encouraging Youth Drug Use as Qatar Support Comes to an End

As the year comes to an end, the Gaza Strip is preparing to return to the familiar, suffocating financial crises that is sure to result from Qatar’s ending its grant to poor families. Qatari envoy in the Strip, Mohammed al-Emadi, has informed Hamas and other terror factions there that his government is having difficulties renewing the grant, Al-Akhbar reported Tuesday.

These funds did not cover all of Gaza’s poor families, and the most each lucky family received was $100 each month, but it was a reliable stopgap measure to stave off the explosion that’s sure to come without this charity. There will be two more payments until the end of 2019, Al Emadi told the local leaders, after which they are on their own.

Over the weekend, Hamas made it clear that it was blocking the security escalation with Israel and is not interested in keeping it up. But then, on Monday, Yahya Sinwar, the Hamas leader in Gaza, bragged that he had been the one to determine in recent years whether or not there would be war.

Kan 11 TV on Monday night provided a glimpse into the other wars Hamas has been waging: internal leadership wars, a cruel, Darwinian effort to literally “thin the herd” with violent border fence riots, and an unofficial operation to induce as many as 200,000 Gazan youths to using drugs, mostly hashish and opiates – to help them forget the hardships of their daily lives.

Hamas official: Egypt has barred Haniyeh from traveling abroad for past 3 years

Egyptian authorities have barred Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh from traveling outside the Gaza Strip and Egypt for almost three years to prevent him from meeting with their political rivals, a senior official in the terror group said in an interview published Tuesday.

The last time Haniyeh traveled beyond Gaza and Egypt was in late 2016 and early 2017 before he was elected Hamas head.

“The Egyptians are not permitting the head of the politburo to travel abroad because they do no want him to meet their political rivals,” Musa Abu Marzouk, a senior official in the terror group, told Dar al-Hayat, an Arabic-language news site. “This ban [has been in place] for about the last three years.”

Hamas, which frequently meets with Egyptian intelligence officials mediating between the terror group that rules the Strip and Israel, also maintains close ties with countries that Cairo views as foes such as Qatar and Turkey.

In chilling detail, ex-envoy to US Oren warns of Israel-Iran ‘conflagration’

Former Israeli ambassador to the US Michael Oren has described in chilling detail how a conflict between Israel and Iran could easily be sparked and descend into a massive conflagration, devastating Israel and other countries in the region.

Israel is already girding for a war with the Islamic Republic, and has carried out hundreds of strikes against Iran-linked targets in Lebanon, Syria and Iraq. A single miscalculation during one of those airstrikes could draw retaliation by Iran, Oren wrote in a column published in The Atlantic on Monday.

“The senior ministers of the Israeli government met twice last week to discuss the possibility of open war with Iran,” he began. “Israeli troops, especially in the north, have been placed on war footing. Israel is girding for the worst and acting on the assumption that fighting could break out at any time. And it’s not hard to imagine how it might arrive. The conflagration, like so many in the Middle East, could be ignited by a single spark.”

An Israel Defense Forces bombing run could inadvertently hit a sensitive target, or an Israeli official could step out of line and say something to embarrass Iran following an attack, Oren wrote.

“The result could be a counterstrike by Iran, using cruise missiles that penetrate Israel’s air defenses and smash into targets like the Kiryah, Tel Aviv’s equivalent of the Pentagon. Israel would retaliate massively against Hezbollah’s headquarters in Beirut as well as dozens of its emplacements along the Lebanese border. And then, after a day of large-scale exchanges, the real war would begin,” he continued.

The Revolt Against Iran

Unsurprisingly, Iran and its allies in Iraq and Lebanon are blaming recent unrest on the usual suspects: a conspiracy of foreign actors that includes the United States, Saudi Arabia, and the Zionists.

How will this end? In 2008, civil unrest led to Hezbollah’s armed seizure of Beirut. Hezbollah and Iran have poured thousands of fighters and billions of dollars into neighboring Syria to help crush the rebellion against their Syrian ally. In 2009, Iran’s green movement protests over stolen elections finally ebbed in the face of torture, beatings, and detentions meted out by the regime. “We in Iran know how to deal with protests,” Iran’s second-most powerful man assured Iraqi officials this month. “This happened in Iran and we got it under control.”

Ten years ago, when Iran saw its largest uprising since the 1979 revolution, Obama was not only reluctant to express solidarity with Iranians, he also refused to acknowledge the rigged elections, dismissed advisers who urged active assistance, and blocked CIA resources earmarked for supporting democratic uprisings. In The Iran Wars, former Wall Street Journal reporter Jay Solomon reveals how Obama’s peculiar reticence was largely motivated by his worry that American involvement would ruin his secret overtures to Tehran in hopes of brokering an agreement. While President Trump has also expressed a desire to strike a deal with Iran, he has already retweeted two videos of Iraqi demonstrators storming the Iranian consulate in Karbala. Whether this administration is able to leverage these protests into successful policy beyond tweets remains to be seen. And perhaps more importantly, it is too early to tell whether the nascent political revolts in Lebanon and Iraq can survive the backlash from Iranian-backed militias and snipers long enough to evolve into a meaningful, organized political opposition.

Rep. Cheney to Introduce Legislation Mandating Full Dismantling of Iran Nuclear Deal

Rep. Liz Cheney (R., Wyo.) will soon introduce new legislation that would compel the Trump administration to eradicate the remaining vestiges of the landmark Iran nuclear deal, the lawmaker told the Washington Free Beacon.

Cheney’s legislative effort comes as GOP hawks in Congress have launched an offensive against the Trump administration’s decision to again grant Iran sanctions waivers that permit it to conduct sensitive nuclear work, including at an underground bunker site that once housed the regime’s atomic weapons program.

The legislation is yet another sign of mounting frustration among hawkish Republicans over the Trump administration’s mixed signals on Iran. Critics allege the administration is backtracking on its own “maximum pressure” campaign on Iran in order to preserve possible diplomacy with Tehran down the road.

The Free Beacon reported last week that the Trump administration’s State Department had signed off on the nuclear waivers, despite public and private pressure from anti-Iran voices on Capitol Hill. The debate marks one of the clearest divides yet between typically faithful Trump administration supporters in Congress and those inside the administration.

Cheney told the Free Beacon that the waivers have helped legitimize Iran’s nuclear infrastructure and paved a way for it to continue working on sensitive nuclear issues with help from countries such as China and Russia.

The Islamic Zealots Who Seized U.S. Embassy 40 Years Ago Today Weren’t ‘Students’

These were first and foremost religious zealots blindly following the will of clerics (Ali Khamenei and Mousavi Khoeini among them) who often visited the hostages, too. Many attended Amir Kabir University, “strictly allied with Khomeini and the new Mullah establishment,” according to Mark Bowden in Guests of the Ayatollah (2006). As Bowden puts it, they “were all committed to a formal Islamic state and were allied, some of them by family, with the clerical power structure around Khomeini.”

Bruce Laingen, who was the chargé d’affaires at the embassy, wrote in his journal that Khoeni was “the clerical link with the ‘students’ at the embassy since the day of the seizure and . . . the link before that, too, in the planning for the seizure.” On July 21, 1980, he wrote with certainty that Khoeni was Khomeini’s “liaison with the ‘students’ of the embassy” and that there “can be no question of the extent to which the clerical forces are solidly in control.”

The term “students” was inaccurate and misleading in 1979, and it is all the more so now. After four decades, the time has come finally to get it right.

40 Years On: How US-Iran Hostility Affects the World Today

With anti-American slogans and effigies mocking President Donald Trump, thousands rallied outside the former US embassy in Tehran on Monday to mark the 40th anniversary of the Iran hostage crisis. Amid renewed tensions with Washington, state television showed rallies taking place in several other cities, including Mashhad, Shiraz and Esfahan, four decades after revolutionary students stormed the diplomatic mission. “They will continue their enmity against us. They are like a lethal scorpion whose nature is to have a poisonous sting,” the head of the army, General Abdolrahim Mousavi, said in a speech at Tehran. “We are ready to crush this scorpion and will also pay the price.”



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