One Suspect in Jersey City Carnage Posted Antisemitic Content Online, Officials Say
One of the suspects involved in Tuesday’s gun battle in Jersey City that left six people dead posted antisemitic and anti-police posts on social media, local officials said on Wednesday.
Investigators believe the attack was motivated by those sentiments, a law enforcement official familiar with the case told The New York Times on Wednesday.
Later on Wednesday, the suspects were named as David Anderson and Francine Graham. According to NBC New York, Anderson was a “one-time follower of the Black Hebrew Israelite movement.”
The developments came after Jersey City officials, including Mayor Steve Fulop, revealed that the kosher supermarket where most of the carnage took place had been “deliberately targeted,” though initial reports on Tuesday did not mention antisemitism as a motive.
and prevented the perpetrators from leaving that location and harming any further civilians. At this time we have no credible further threats from this incident but out of an abundance of caution we will be increasing our police presence in the community.
— Steven Fulop (@StevenFulop) December 11, 2019
Still unclear was the connection between the supermarket incident and an earlier shooting at a cemetery in another part of Jersey City.
Police said on Tuesday night that the suspected assailants killed Officer Joseph Seals in the cemetery in the city of 270,000 people, which is located across the Hudson River from Manhattan, before driving a U-Haul truck to the kosher market, where three Jews — two of whom have been identified as Leah Mindel Ferencz, 33, and Moshe Deutsch, 24 — were shot dead.
Anderson and Graham died at the kosher market in an exchange of fire with police.
One of the suspected attackers in the deadly Jersey City shooting at a kosher supermarket on Tuesday railed against Jews and police officers on social media, according to a report Wednesday, as authorities indicated that the store had been targeted in the deadly incident.
A law enforcement official said police believe the shooter was motivated by the anti-Semitic and anti-police beliefs, The New York Times reported on Wednesday.
Details of the online posts were not provided in the article.
The two suspects, who were both killed in a shootout with police, were identified as David Anderson and Francine Graham, NBC New York quoted law enforcement sources saying.
According to the network, Anderson was once a follower of the Black Hebrew Israelites, who believe they are descendants of the ancient Israelites and may practice elements of both Judaism and Christianity.
Some Black Hebrew Israelite groups have been accused of racism and anti-Semitism.
Officials said a religious note was found in the vehicle allegedly used by Anderson and Graham but that they were still investigating a motive.
A neighbor of Graham’s in Jersey City told NBC she was formerly a home health aide in Manhattan who met Anderson after getting hurt and quitting her job. The neighbor said Graham became a “dark” person after meeting Anderson.
A YouTube channel reportedly belonging to Anderson had several playlists made up of videos with various conspiracy theories, some of which included anti-Semitic Black Hebrew Israelite theology.
The deadly shooting at a New Jersey kosher supermarket on Tuesday drew condemnations from leaders in Israel, the US and the American Jewish community, while local officials announced heightened protection for Jewish institutions.
“On behalf of the people of Israel, I extend my condolences of the families of Leah Mindel Ferencz, Moshe Hirsch Deutsch, police officer Joe Seals and the other victims of the murderous attack in Jersey City,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tweeted after the attack.
Though they initially ruled out a terror attack, investigators later said they believed the two gunmen who shot and killed a cop in a Jersey City cemetery, then drove to a kosher supermarket and began an hour-long gunbattle that left three Jewish bystanders and themselves dead, had deliberately targeted the Jewish shop.
“Based on our initial investigation (which is ongoing) we now believe the active shooters targeted the location they attacked,” Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop said late Tuesday, without elaborating.
Next to the store, the only kosher supermarket in the area and a central fixture for the growing community, are a yeshiva and a synagogue. Around 100 Jewish families live in the area in the city’s Greenville neighborhood, with most of the families having moved there from Brooklyn in the last few years.
Authorities have not released information on the victims, but Chabad identified two of the dead as store owner Leah Minda Ferencz, 33, and Moshe Deutsch, 24, both members of the local Hasidic community.
The third victim was also believed to be a member of the local Jewish community.
Hours after a furious gun battle erupted at a kosher supermarket on Tuesday in Jersey City, New Jersey, distraught residents had more questions than answers.
As of Tuesday night, the crime scene was cordoned off, keeping onlookers far from the scene. Some two dozen area residents, several reporters and many more police vehicles lingered outside the JC Kosher Supermarket on Martin Luther King Drive, on the western side of Jersey City. Some of the residents took video or live-streamed the scene on Facebook.
Investigators believe the shooting involved at least two young gunmen, and a possible third accomplice who escaped the violence. They shot and killed a police officer in a nearby cemetery before holing up in the market in the Greenville neighborhood and exchanging fire with dozens more officers. The gunmen were killed in the lengthy shootout.
It was an ordeal that violently and abruptly disturbed the heart of a small Orthodox Jewish community of nearly 100 families, most of whom moved from the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn to Jersey City over the past few years.
According to locals, the supermarket is the only kosher one of its kind in the area. It serves basic groceries, sandwiches and salads. Next door is Khal Adas Greenville, a building with a synagogue on a lower level and a yeshiva for children on the upper level.
“It’s a beautiful tight-knit community, very kind people, and it’s devastating that something like this happened,” said Rabbi Shmully Levitin, a Chabad rabbi who lives in the city, which is across the Hudson River from New York City.
The official journal of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum has published an article depicting the Jewish National Fund (JNF) as a colonialist exploiter of the Palestinian Arabs. Is this an appropriate way for a Federally-funded museum — that is mandated to teach about the Nazi genocide against the Jewish people — to be using taxpayers’ dollars?
The article was authored by Amy Weiss, a young Holocaust scholar from New Jersey. It appears in the latest issue (Fall 2019) of Holocaust and Genocide Studies, the museum’s official journal, which is edited by Richard D. Breitman.
Weiss accuses the JNF of secretly plotting in the 1930s to plant more pine trees, and fewer olive trees, in its forests, thereby “alter[ing] a Palestinian landscape to resemble a European one more familiar to Jewish pioneers and Holocaust survivors.”
According to Weiss, the JNF continued this European-colonialist conspiracy after the 1948 war: “Erecting JNF forests where Palestinian villages and olive groves once stood promised to erase the connection to that land of the former resides who had fled or been expelled.”
The hook for Weiss’ article is an obscure episode from the 1940s, in which some American Christians planted a small forest in Israel to commemorate child victims of the Holocaust. But the story of that forest is not what Weiss wanted to bring attention to; Weiss concentrates her firepower on depicting the JNF and its forestry work in as negative a light as possible.
Weiss mocks the JNF’s claim that its work help revive the Land of Israel. She calls it “the myth of ‘making the desert bloom,’” and dismisses the centuries of Arab neglect of the land as the “purported languishing” of the land under Arab rule. According to Weiss, Zionist leaders concocted this “environmental degradation narrative” in order to “justify” the JNF’s land-grab policy.
“While publicly speaking of environmental improvement and jobs, in actuality [the JNF] strove for Jewish colonization,” Weiss asserts, suggesting the JNF was disingenuously advancing a secret and sinister agenda.
Palestinian Authority leaders continuously falsify history claiming that Jews have no history in Jerusalem or in the entire area of the Land of Israel.
To uphold this fictitious claim, the Palestinians need to invent a reason for the evidence of a Jewish history in the land, exemplified by the numerous archeological finds – including many with ancient Hebrew script on them – which testify to a Jewish presence, both in Jerusalem and the surroundings. Instead of acknowledging Jewish history and recognizing the authenticity of Jewish artifacts, the PA claims that Israel “steals” “Palestinian” archaeological finds and then forges Hebrew texts on them.
This denial is a crucial and necessary part of the Palestinian narrative in order for Palestinians to be able to claim “sole ownership” to the land based on a fabricated “exclusive” Palestinian history of thousands of years in it, as Palestinian Media Watch repeatedly has exposed.
This libel denying the authenticity of the irrefutable evidence of thousands of years of Jewish history in the Land of Israel was recently repeated by an Egyptian official and a host on official PA TV, who both said that Israel is “forging” Jewish history:
Egyptian Foreign Affairs Council member and former Foreign Minister’s Aide Raja Ahmed Hassan: “If they allow Israel to, it will attempt to change the situation on the ground, to change the cultural sites. It changes some of the existing archaeological findings and writes on them in Hebrew. It takes control of a large number of-“Official PA TV host: “A forgery of history.”
Raja Ahmed Hassan: “A forgery which contradicts the UNESCO decisions. UNESCO has determined that neither Israel nor the Jews have any heritage in Jerusalem.” [Official PA TV, The Cause in the Egyptian Halls, Oct. 7, 2019]
Israel forges history, Jews have no heritage in Jerusalem – according to Egyptian official and PA TV host
— Pal Media Watch (@palwatch) December 11, 2019
In the 1950s, Jerusalem tasked Moshe Dayan with combating the Palestinian guerrillas—known as fedayeen—who infiltrated Israel’s borders from Sinai, Gaza, and Jordan to attack soldiers or civilians and destroy crops. When simple retaliation, although tactically effective, proved insufficient to deter further attacks, Dayan developed a more sophisticated long-term strategy of using attrition to Israel’s advantage. Gershon Hacohen argues that the Jewish state can learn much from Dayan’s approach in combating the Iranian presence in Syria—especially since the IDF cannot simply launch an all-out offensive to clear Syria of Iranian forces:
[Dayan anticipated] two possible [outcomes]: either the ongoing retaliatory strikes would gradually curtail the terror, or they would lead to war and a new regional order. Meanwhile, by taking the opportunity to undertake operational friction with the regular forces of Egypt, Jordan, and Syria, the IDF built up its capability and established an awareness of that capability in the eyes of both the enemy and the international arena more generally. The quality of the IDF’s performance in these operations undoubtedly contributed to its eventual collaboration with France and Britain in the 1956 Sinai campaign.
Applying Dayan’s thinking to today’s strategic context, the fighting with Iranian forces in Syria, especially on the Golan border, can be viewed as a means of initiating a clash with those forces [while avoiding] a full-fledged war.
Having the audacity to use force, especially in a situation that hovers on the very real threshold of war, does entail the risk of escalation, but also holds the potential to give Israel a prominent role in the crystallizing anti-Iran regional coalition. The objective of [a more intense] clash [with Iran] would be to showcase Israel’s operational superiority by proving its military capability and strategic daring, thereby making clear that Jerusalem does not fear a military conflict in defense of its vital interests.
Rep. Ted Deutch (D-Fla.): The U.S. Should Adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance Definition of Anti-Semitism
Four years ago, we in Congress launched the Bipartisan Task Force for Combating Anti-Semitism as a forum for understanding the threats against Jews at home and abroad and developing legislative ways to address them.
The French National Assembly recently voted to adopt an internationally-recognized definition of anti-Semitism established in 2016 by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA), an organization made up of 34 member countries, including the U.S. Since 2016, over a dozen countries have adopted or endorsed the definition, as has the European Parliament.
Opponents of this definition argue that it would encroach on Americans’ right to freedom of speech. But this definition was drafted not to regulate free speech or punish people for expressing their beliefs, however hateful they may be.
This definition can serve as an important tool to guide our government’s response to anti-Semitism. The definition is already used by the Departments of State and Education. It is time for Congress to adopt the IHRA definition in the U.S. to lay the groundwork for a whole-of-government strategy to combat anti-Semitism. It’s time for our federal government to lead by example and use the IHRA definition as a guide for protecting the American Jewish community.
NGO Monitor: The UN is a venue for NGO discrimination
December 10 marks Human Rights Day, a day meant to recognize and reiterate the values enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Adopted by the United Nations in 1948, the Declaration captures the fundamental human rights of equality, life, and freedom, among others, which are supposed to underpin everything the UN does.
However, what I experienced last week at the UN in Geneva was the polar opposite of this promise.
On December–5, 2019, as a party to the International Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD), Israel underwent its regular review by a panel tasked with evaluating State Parties’ adherence to this convention.
There was some hope that this would not be a standard UN attack against Israel. This was the same UN CERD Committee that in August reviewed the Palestinians, and took them to task for the deplorable presence of incitement and antisemitism in Palestinian textbooks. Perhaps the review of Israel would be fair; criticisms, which are unavoidable, would at least be based on fact.
Unfortunately, my speck of optimism was misplaced.
The Committee members’ evaluation of Israel was informed in large part by a group of organizations that seek to delegitimize the Jewish State. These non-governmental organizations (NGOs), which falsely claim to champion human rights and fight discrimination, utilized the review of Israel to promote racism and deny universal rights to Jews.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Monday before a menorah-lighting ceremony that Canada’s recent vote in favor of an anti-Israel resolution at the United Nations does not mean that his government has changed its policy against singling out Israel in the international body.
In late November, Canada voted in support of a UN General Assembly resolution co-sponsored by North Korea that was not favorable to the Jewish state.
Jewish community leaders have expressed their concerns about that vote, as well as other parties and members of Trudeau’s own caucus.
Former US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley accused Canada of striking “a deal with the devil” and “trading its integrity” for a seat on the UN Security Council next year by voting in support of the resolution.
Canada has voted against such resolutions for more than a decade, but Trudeau said he felt he had to vote differently on that one resolution in order to counter threats to a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, according to The Canadian Press.
Europe does not intend to sit quietly following the U.S. recognition of the legality of settlements in the West Bank. Luxembourg’s Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn is advancing an initiative for all EU states to recognize a Palestinian state in response to the statement by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on the settlements.
Last week, Luxembourg’s foreign minister sent a letter to the EU’s new foreign minister, Josep Borrell, and the EU’s 27 foreign ministers. The letter claimed that the way to rescue the two-state solution was to create a “more equitable situation” policy-wise between Israel and the Palestinians and urged the European states to hold a discussion as soon as possible with the participation of all EU member states regarding the possible recognition of a Palestinian state.
“In no way would it [such steps] be directed against Israel. Indeed, if we want to contribute to solving the conflict between Israel and Palestine, we must never lose sight of Israel’s security conditions, as well as of justice and dignity for the Palestinian people,” Jean Asselborn wrote in the letter.
The Israeli Foreign Ministry is preparing to thwart Luxembourg’s new initiative, according to political officials in Jerusalem. The debate on the issue will be held in the meeting of European foreign ministers in January 2020, but Palestinians are encouraged by this new European direction.
The Palestinians have been demanding for years from the EU to take practical steps towards the recognition of a Palestinian state. Some European parliaments and some governments have recognized a Palestinian state, but there hasn’t been a single unifying decision by all EU states.
All EU countries, except Hungary, condemned Secretary of State Pompeo’s statement on the settlements.
The Netherlands will resume funding the United Nations Relief and Works Agency in the Near East (UNRWA), according to a release shared by the organization.
In July, the Netherlands had temporarily suspended a planned contribution of €13 million as a result of an investigation by the Office of Internal Oversight Services into management-related issues at UNRWA. That investigation led UNRWA commissioner-general Pierre Krähenbühl to resign. The report alleged mismanagement and abuses of authority among senior officials of the agency.
“We welcome the decision by the Netherlands to unlock funds that will help UNRWA at an exceptionally challenging period of its existence,” said Marc Lassouaoui, chief of donor relations in UNRWA’s Department of External Relations and Communications. “The amount that we will receive will help the agency continue to provide critical humanitarian services and operations for the remainder of 2019 in the areas of primary health care, education and social services across its five fields of operations.”
According to the release, the multiyear agreement between the Netherlands and UNRWA covers the period 2019 to 2021 and foresees a non-earmarked annual contribution of €13m. to support the agency’s program budget.
In addition, the Netherlands agreed to provide a further €6m. for 2019, bringing the total amount of Dutch funding to UNRWA’s core budget in 2019 to €19m.
Israel will take part in the prestigious Expo 2020 world fair in Dubai, the Foreign Ministry confirmed Tuesday, after a visit by a top ministry official to the United Arab Emirates.
Yuval Rotem, director-general of the Foreign Ministry, visited Dubai this week to sign an agreement on Israel’s participation. He also met with officials there during his trip, according to Hebrew media reports.
“Israel’s participation in the exhibition reflects the rise in Israel’s status, not only internationally but also among the key state actors in our region.” Foreign Minister Yisrael Katz said in a statement on Tuesday.
“[The] participation gives Israel an extraordinary opportunity to showcase its capabilities and achievements in the field of technology alongside vibrant Israeli culture,” he added.
Expo 2020, which runs from October 20, 2020, to April 20, 2021, is set to attract some 25 million visitors to the glitzy emirate, famed for its luxury resorts and opulent shopping malls.
The German army is set to have a rabbi in its ranks for the first time in almost a century.
German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer announced Wednesday that the government is working to reintroduce a Jewish military chaplain in the German army (Bundeswehr), in order to combat growing antisemitism.
“Today at the Cabinet meeting, we sent an important signal to our Jewish soldiers,” Kramp-Karrenbauer wrote on Twitter.
“After about 100 years, we will install a Jewish military rabbi in the Bundeswehr again. A clear commitment — Jewish life is self-evident in our country,” she further said.
According to a report by German paper Deutsche Welle (DW), there are about 300 Jewish soldiers currently serving in the country’s army.
DW added that, in order to create the federal government would sign a treaty with the Central Council of Jews.
Singapore’s first batch of officer cadets had to wake up at 5.30am, begin training at 7.30am and end their day only at 1am.
This “no-nonsense” regimen, implemented by Israeli military advisors, ensured these pioneers had high standards when training future generations of conscripted soldiers for the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF).
When the cadets complained about the tough schedule, then-Minister for Defence and Security Goh Keng Swee told them during a visit to the training school to either strictly follow instructions, “otherwise you will do double”.
This anecdote is from the book Beating The Odds Together, which commemorates 50 years of Singapore-Israel ties.
The book, jointly published by the Middle East Institute and World Scientific, was launched on Monday (Dec 9) by former Foreign Affairs Minister George Yeo.
The book details how Israel helped Singapore establish the SAF when other countries declined the latter’s calls for help. It also shows how that relationship has developed beyond security to fields such as business and technology.
An estimated 165,000 Christians are expected to visit Israel during the Christmas holiday season, according to Israel’s Tourism Ministry.
Tourism Minister Yariv Levin will host the annual pre-Christmas reception for Israeli Christians and church leaders, which will also be attended by ambassadors, leaders of Christian organizations in Israel and other dignitaries from different communities.
On Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, the Tourism Ministry will provide free shuttle service between Jerusalem and Bethlehem for Christian pilgrims.
Hundreds of people recently gathered in Bethlehem in front of the Church of the Nativity, where many believe that Jesus was born, for the annual Christmas tree-lighting celebration.
Also scheduled is a parade through the main street of Nazareth to the city’s Basilica of the Annunciation on Dec. 24 at 2:30 pm, followed in the evening by a fireworks display sponsored by the Tourism Ministry. On Dec. 25, a mass will be held at 10 am in the Basilica.
The most important test of national security is a societal one. Despite the cliches about Israel being a fractured society, the continued leadership by the centrist camp proves that there is deep solidarity, strong foundations, wonderful resilience, and a deep commitment to pluralism in society and politics.
Within this centrist camp, there is a broad national consensus on the biggest national issues. In the last two highly-charged elections, there was no real dispute over civil or economic matters, or about foreign affairs and security.
There is no serious disagreement about action against Iran, even though it could lead to a major war. The Palestinian issue? Both sides know there is no chance for peace in the near future.
Despite the differences in emphases, there is a very broad national consensus about the principles of the state being Jewish and democratic.
Without that, it is impossible to understand how a society exposed to missile threats and the risk of war enjoys such economic success, improves its regional and international standing, or achieves what it does in technology and science, not to mention its rich cultural output.
Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit told the National Labor Court on Wednesday that it should support the state in rejecting a request for state economic support payments by an east Jerusalem family which receives “pay for slay” payments from the Palestinian Authority.
The family requested economic support from the National Insurance Institute (NII – Bituach Leumi), but their request was rejected because they did not produce documentation regarding payments they had received from the PA.
The PA generally pays substantial funds and grants substantial benefits to the families of Palestinians who Israel imprisons for terror-related crimes, sometimes referred to as “pay for slay.”
The issue causes serious disputes between Israel and the PA, both during peace talks and in periods when there are no negotiations.
More recently, the US passed the Taylor Force Act penalizing the PA for the pay for slay payments, and last week the International Criminal Court raised the possibility of probing the payments as a potential war crime.
In contrast, the PA says that it makes the payments to support families who are innocent and have lost someone who was often the primary bread winner, even if the prisoner himself is guilty.
Quietly, the PA also sometimes acknowledges that it makes the payment to retain the loyalty of the Palestinian population since Hamas might otherwise step in to make the same payments.
— HonestReporting (@HonestReporting) December 11, 2019
HonestReporting: Pay for Slay: Paying Off Terrorism
The Palestinian Authority has been condemned by the international community for its Pay for Slay policy: paying the salaries of convicted terrorists and their families. This policy not only incites violence but also rewards terrorism.
Now the International Criminal Court’s Chief Prosecutor warns that these payments could be considered war crimes.
Several recent accounts on Twitter posted a video of a policeman pinning down a young boy, with the text, “An Israeli policeman strangles a Palestinian child to death Saturday during a demonstration in front of the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem.”
Alt News performed a reverse image search and found that the video is of a 2015 incident in Malmo, Sweden, where a security guard at the Malmo central station detained a boy after he was thrown off a train for travelling without a ticket.
A Palestinian teenage suicide bomber has had a plaque in her honor placed at a school in Bethlehem.
17-year-old Ayyat al-Akras murdered two Israelis and injured 28 others when she blew herself up near a supermarket in Jerusalem on March 29, 2002. One of her victims was also a teenage girl and the other was a 55-year-old security guard who prevented al-Akras from entering the supermarket, saving many lives.
Her attack was part of the Second Intifada of 2000 – 2005 in which more than 1,100 Israelis were killed, including in a number of suicide bombings.
Now she has been commemorated as a role model for children at the Bethlehem High School for Girls, with a plaque in her honor placed at the entrance to the school, a recent Facebook post by the school has revealed.
According to Palestinian Media Watch, the text on the plaque reads: “This memorial was established in cooperation between the Education Directorate [a branch of the PA Ministry of Education] and the Fatah Shabiba [Youth Movement] organization, in order to commemorate the Martyrs of the Al-Aqsa Intifada at the Bethlehem High School for Girls for the anniversary of the outbreak of the Palestinian revolution
Jan. 1, 2003
Martyr Ayyat Al-Akhras
Martyr Nida Al-Izza”
Al-Izza was apparently accidentally shot by Israeli soldiers during the intifada.
Palestinians in Gaza have fired 2,600 rockets and mortars into Israel over the last two years. These are no longer crude Qassam rockets. Hamas has home-grown rocket production lines in Gaza. They continually test new models, firing them into the Mediterranean, to improve their accuracy and distance. Hamas also has a drone workshop to produce copies of Iranian weapons-bearing, kamikaze UAVs.
In December 2016, Hamas aviation engineer Mohammad al-Zawahri was targeted in Tunisia. An aerial drone developer, al-Zawahri was also developing unmanned underwater vehicles that could be used to attack Israel’s offshore gas platforms off the coast of Haifa.
For items it is unable to manufacture, Hamas receives them via barrels dropped into the sea off the coast of Gaza which are then picked up by Gazan operatives. Hamas has also built up its naval commando unit. Their bases have been struck repeatedly by the Israel Defense Forces.
PreOccupiedTerritory: Palestinians Go Record 3 Weeks Without Sacrificing Kids To Make IDF Look Evil (satire)
Near Gaza border fence with Israel, December 11 – Organizers of the once-weekly violent demonstrations against Israel at this location today confessed experiencing unprecedented built-up tension since last month’s bursts of rocket fire into Jewish cities and towns, noting that almost a month has passed since their last intentional placement of a Palestinian child in harm’s way has resulted in the death of that child and a public relations black eye for Israel.
Friday protests at the border fence – replete with Molotov cocktails, rock-throwing, fence-cutting, bombs, and other methods to which Palestinians and their apologists refer as “non-violent” – went on hiatus during November’s round of violence, and have yet to resume. The break in the demonstrations, which have taken place for most of 2019, has extended three weeks so far, smashing the previous record of fifteen days of Palestinians not sacrificing a child or other innocent in an effort to manufacture outrage against the Jewish state.
“I don’t know how much longer we can hold out,” admitted protest coordinator Qild Aqid. “We have a routine, but our leadership’s hesitation to resume the protests and the child sacrifice that goes along with them has left us in unfamiliar psychological territory. The other everyday accusations of Jewish perfidy and brutality are fine; it’s just that most of us can sense they lack the same rhetorical and political oomph without accompanying images of dead children. We haven’t gone this long without engineering the shooting death of a Palestinian child since I think 2012.”
Ruthie Blum: The ayatollahs’ anxiety is showing
It remains to be seen whether the uprising in Iran is leading to the ultimate collapse of the 40-year reign of the ayatollahs. But there is reason to believe that, unlike the protests of 2009-2010 and 2017-2018, the current unrest has weakened the regime’s grip irreparably.
One good sign is that today’s demonstrations have spread to rural areas of the enormous country, beyond the cities. And though they are being met with the same kind of violence as those that were quelled in the past, they do not seem to be abating. Indeed, even the mass arrests and gunning down of thousands of protesters by mullah-led militias and police have not succeeded in extinguishing the fire in the hungry bellies of the populace.
Another indication of cracks in the Islamic republic’s armor is the panic that it has been exhibiting in relation to the assault on its hegemonic agenda by the United States and Israel.
The White House withdrawal from the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) – the disastrous nuclear deal pushed through at all cost by the previous administration in Washington – and the simultaneous increase in sanctions has made it more difficult for the Islamic republic to keep up the pace of its spinning centrifuges without emptying its coffers and the pockets of its citizenry. Which is the reason the latter initially took to the streets on Nov. 15, to decry a government hike in gas prices.
Meanwhile, Israel has been bombing strategic Iranian targets in Syria and engaging in constant low-scale combat with Tehran-backed terrorists in Gaza. It also has been punctuating these attacks with enhanced warnings and threats against any moves by Iran to make good on its vows to annihilate the Jewish state.
In an apparent threat, an Israeli intelligence firm on Tuesday released photographs of what it said is an Iranian tunnel being dug along the Syria-Iraq border to assist in the movement of weapons throughout the Middle East.
According to the private satellite image analysis company ImageSat International, the tunnel is likely being used to store Iranian missiles en route to Tehran’s proxies throughout the region.
In some cases in the past, suspected areas of Iranian military entrenchment have been identified and publicized by ImageSat International shortly before the sites were targeted in airstrikes attributed to Israel.
The tunnel, whose entrance can be seen in satellite images, is located on a suspected Iranian military base, known as the Imam Ali base, in Syria’s Boukamal region, near the Iraqi border. The base has been the site of several Israeli airstrikes in the past year, including some in the past few days, according to Syrian media.
ImageSat said the tunnel appears to have been built in response to these airstrikes, as a means to protect high-quality munitions from Israeli attacks.
“Currently, the estimated tunnel’s width is 4-5 meters and its length is unknown. Due to the area’s rigid flat terrain, it is unlikely that the tunnel will be extended significantly,” it wrote in its report.
The United States is imposing new sanctions on Iran’s largest shipping company and airline for helping the Islamic Republic develop ballistic missiles, announced Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at a State Department briefing on Wednesday.
The sanctions will impact the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines (IRISL) and it’s China-based subsidiary, E-Sail Shipping, and Mahan Air. These companies helped Iran with its weapons of mass destruction (WMD) programs. “These programs involved the siphoning of funds away from the oppressed Iranian people and they augment the regime’s campaign of terror and intimidation at home and around the world,” said Pompeo.
An Iranian shipping network that helps smuggle weapons into Yemen is also being put under sanctions, according to Pompeo.
IRISL, E-Sail Shipping and Mahan Air are already subject to other punitive actions by the US. The sanctions are being imposed under an executive order aimed at stopping the development and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction with the hopes that the sanctions will increase pressure on other countries to cut business with Iran.
IRISL was previously subject to a WMD designation which was lifted under the JCPOA nuclear deal in January 2016. Pompeo called the lifting of the WMD designation an “enormous mistake,” adding that the company has knowingly contributed to the proliferation of WMDs.
The American envoy to the United Nations singled out the Iranian regime on Tuesday for criticism in a statement marking International Human Rights Day.
Ambassador Kelly Craft said, “Unfortunately, there remain many places in the world where these rights and freedoms are a distant dream.”
“It is true in Iran, where security forces have killed hundreds of protesters, tortured dissidents, and jailed innocent citizens,” she added.
Kraft also commented on the situation in Syria, where, she noted, “the Assad regime, supported by its Russian and Iranian allies, continues to inflict terrible harm on the Syrian people.”
Furthermore, Craft slammed China, which “has arbitrarily detained more than one million Uighurs and members of other Muslim minority groups since April 2017, as well as persecuted Tibetan Buddhists, Christians, and other people of faith,” and Venezuela, where “the illegitimate Maduro regime continues to subvert the Venezuelan people’s right to self-determination.”
“The drafters of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights made clear that human rights are universal rights, guaranteed to all people, at all times,” Craft said. “Until that goal is fully realized, the United States will continue to serve as a beacon to those yearning for freedom.”
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