Melanie Phillips: Straws in the wind or a dangerous delusion?
In Jerusalem this week, a touching film was screened about the Jews of Iraq. In Remember Baghdad, sensitively directed by British filmmaker Fiona Murphy, five Iraqi Jewish families look back at a scarcely imaginable time when Jews lived and prospered in Baghdad before persecution and massacres drove them out of the country.
One of these exiles, London resident Edwin Shuker, has recently made the deeply quixotic gesture of buying a house in Erbil, the embattled Kurdish city. As he emotionally explains, he feels a duty to reestablish a connection, however small, with ancient Babylon, which 2,500 years ago was home to one of the most ancient Jewish communities in the world.
No less striking is the reaction to this film from Iraqis themselves.
Earlier this month, it was screened at the British Academy in London to a mainly Iraqi Muslim audience, including a senior delegation from the Iraqi Embassy.
According to David Dangoor, a prominent Iraqi Jewish exile who also lives in London, the Iraqi ambassador’s political adviser said at the screening that, with the defeat of ISIS and extremism, the country is intent on pushing tolerance and diversity. Other members of the audience, said Dangoor, made very positive comments about Iraqi Jews.
There are other straws in the wind.
Last December, the Iraq Society of London’s Imperial College held an Iraq Day sponsored by the Iraqi Embassy at which the ambassador insisted that Iraqi Jews should have a stand. Although this sported many books about their lost community and related subjects all saying “printed in Israel,” Dangoor says it was the most popular of all the displays and its books all sold out.
Some Iraqi exiles scoff at the suggestion that Iraqi Muslims are now warming toward the Jews and Israel. Nevertheless, the Arab Muslim world is changing in startling ways.
Sohrab Ahmari: Swedish Secularism Targets Jewish Homeschoolers
The firebombing of a synagogue in Gothenburg thrust Sweden’s anti-Semitism crisis into global headlines. For years, Swedish Jews have lived in fear of such violence, which is almost always perpetrated by the country’s large and ill-assimilated Muslim minority. According to a 2013 European Union study, four out of five Jews decline to publicly identify themselves as Jewish in Sweden–a damning indictment of a country that likes to portray itself as one of the Continent’s most tolerant.
Street-level thuggery isn’t the only source of the crisis. As if Molotov cocktails and mobs chanting “we will shoot the Jews” weren’t enough, Swedish Jews also find themselves pressed by the reigning securalism. The Swedish state is full of solicitude for Jewish citizens in the wake of anti-Semitic attacks. But it also seeks to limit their freedom to practice their faith.
Consider Rabbi Alexander Namdar and his six-year battle to homeschool the four youngest of his 11 children in Sweden. The rabbi and his wife, Leah, arrived in the country in 1991 as emissaries of the Chabad movement, and they founded its first outpost in Scandinavia. Their center now serves some 4,000 Jews in Gothenburg, offering religious education, holding prayer and holy-day activities, and promoting Jewish life and culture in the city.
When it came to educating their own children, the public system was out of the question. The public schools were religiously inadequate and, more important, physically unsafe for Jews. Private schools were no better. All schools, including “private” and religious schools, are government-funded in Sweden, and therefore required to accept all-comers. For the Namdars, then, homeschooling was the only way to ensure their school-age children’s security and the Jewish character of their education.
Caroline Glick: Israel’s learning disabled Right
It is an iron rule of Israeli politics regularly disregarded by the political Right that left-wing parties govern from the Left, not the Right; center-left parties govern from the Left, not from the Center.
Despite the axiomatic nature of this rule, time after time, politicians and public figures on the Right have ignored it. Periodically, they make light of the distinction between governments run by their political camp and governments run by their leftist opponents.
To their credit, the converse is never true. Leftist politicians and activists never delude themselves that they are better off in the opposition. They always prefer governments led by their own camp to governments led by the Right.
For several years, this pathology unique to the political Right laid dormant – never entirely gone, but out of sight. Today, the Right’s pathological refusal to recognize that it is better off in charge than in the opposition is making a political comeback.
For the past month, a rapidly growing chorus of columnists and politicians – all of whom dwell on either the right-wing or left-wing margins of the nationalist camp – have decided to join the Left in its assault against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and call either directly or indirectly from his ouster from office.
The Left – like its rightist followers – characterizes its anti-Netanyahu campaign as an anti-corruption campaign.
In reports worldwide, Abu Thuraya has been described as an innocent victim, having lost his legs as a result of an Israeli bombing during Operation Cast Lead in 2008 and as a protester brutally shot without any justification.
However, new information recently uncovered, makes the story questionable. Tomer Ilan, an Israeli activist, has researched Abu Thuraya’s history and found that his family members have reported to the media on his last words the day before the protest. Russia Today reports he told his family, “Brother, forgive me. This is the last night you will see me. And you, my mother, forgive me, and you my sisters, you all forgive me… He kissed the hand and the leg of my father and said to him: Father, forgive me. This is the last night you will see me, as I intend to be a martyr. I am bored of this life, I have no legs and I have nothing. I want to die and rest from life.” Mondoweiss quotes similar a testimony by a family member.
Abu Thuraya’s alleged injury as an innocent civilian by an IDF bombing on his home in 2008, has also been found to be totally inaccurate. The Independent reported in 2005 that Abu Thuraya, a Fatah Force 17 member, was shot in the leg, in fighting between Hamas and Fatah. His membership in Fatah’s Force 17 is also reported in the 2010 book “Hamas: The Islamic Resistance Movement” By Beverley Milton-Edwards, Stephen Farrell“.
A Palestinian website reports he was injured again and lost his legs in April 2008 in battle with the IDF, as a Hamas combatant, 8 months before Operation Cast Lead.
The circumstances of Abu Thuraya’s death last week remain unclear. His past as a terrorist may not be related to the protest in which he was killed. However, in stark contrast to worldwide media reports, he was not an innocent civilian but a member of terrorist groups Force 17 and later Hamas, was injured twice while serving these groups, and went to last Friday’s protest in order to die as a “martyr”.
Dr. Martin Sherman: Obama: Worse than Chamberlain?
The Chamberlain analogy has been applied to Obama; and the Munich analogy, to the Iran nuclear deal he was so eager conclude, as to reflecting a repetition of the kind of appeasement of tyranny that led to the horrors of World War II. Indeed, it has been invoked not only by his political adversaries, but concerned political supporters as well.
Thus, two-time Obama voter, Prof. Alan Dershowitz warned that, if as a result of the nuclear deal, Iran acquired nuclear weapons, Obama’s legacy would be similar to the disgraced British prime minister, whose capitulation to Nazi Germany precipitated arguably the greatest carnage in human history.
However, capitulation by Obama to Tehran is far more difficult to comprehend than Chamberlain’s to Hitler. For the disparity between the strength of the mighty US and the then economically emaciated and drought-ravaged Iran was vastly greater than the power differential between Britain and the resurgent Germany of the late 1930s.
After all, America’s GDP outstrips Iran’s by a factor of more than 40, its per capita GDP is 10 times higher; it has over four times the population of Iran, and is six times its size.
But perhaps the most significant comparison concerns military prowess.
While the US defense budget is around $600 billion, most published estimates put Iranian defense expenditure at that time at around 2% -3% of that of the US.
Worse than Chamberlain?
Accordingly, with more than 40 times the resources devoted to military capabilities than Tehran, the claim, that some other more favorable deal could not be imposed on an impoverished Iran, rings decidedly hollow – if not manipulatively mendacious.
It certainly seems wildly implausible that the only other alternative was to allow Iran to pursue, with virtual impunity, all its other nefarious , non-nuclear malfeasance across the globe, while empowering it militarily, enriching it economically and entrenching it politically—thus making any regime-change in the foreseeable future highly unlikely.
Clearly then, the question of whether Obama will be judged as worse than Chamberlain cannot be avoided. But will America be able to muster the moral courage to contend with it honestly?
Melanie Phillips: The true presidential collusion scandal
This obstruction of a crucial investigation to keep US and other western citizens safe, from both cocaine and terrorism, came from the top. President Obama had said he would improve relations with Iran as part of a broader rapprochement with the Muslim world. To that end, nothing was to be allowed to derail the Iran nuclear deal — which itself not only opened the way to an eventual Iranian nuclear armoury but also, through the relaxation of sanctions, funnelled money to Iran which it could use to finance more terrorism and its strategic objective in taking control of the Middle East.
No surprise then that, as Meyer notes, the then CIA director, John Brennan, recommended that “the next president has the opportunity to set a new course for relations between the two countries” through not only direct dialogue but “greater assimilation of Hezbollah into Lebanon’s political system”.
Astoundingly, Brennan thought Hezbollah was “a very interesting organization,” having evolved from “purely a terrorist organization” to a militia and, ultimately, a political party with representatives in the Lebanese Parliament and Cabinet, and he wanted to “try to build up the more moderate elements.”
This of course was garbage. How can you have moderate genocidal jihadis? Hezbollah, which has stationed more than 150,000 missiles in Lebanon pointing at Israel, is now an army through which Iran, the single greatest threat to the free world, has in effect taken the Lebanese government and people hostage.
The harm done by the Obama administration to US and western security through blocking Cassandra cannot be over-estimated. Meyer writes:
“Lebanese arms dealer Ali Fayad, a suspected top Hezbollah operative whom agents believed reported to Russian President Vladimir Putin as a key supplier of weapons to Syria and Iraq, was arrested in Prague in the spring of 2014. But for the nearly two years Fayad was in custody, top Obama administration officials declined to apply serious pressure on the Czech government to extradite him to the United States, even as Putin was lobbying aggressively against it.
“Fayad, who had been indicted in U.S. courts on charges of planning the murders of U.S. government employees, attempting to provide material support to a terrorist organization and attempting to acquire, transfer and use anti-aircraft missiles, was ultimately sent to Beirut. He is now believed by U.S. officials to be back in business, and helping to arm militants in Syria and elsewhere with Russian heavy weapons.”
Nothing has been more tedious over the last year than the constant reminders that good journalism is “now more important than ever.” The implication, of course, is that solid, groundbreaking reporting was not as essential so long as a liberal Democrat was in power. I’ve long assumed that the factotums mouthing such clichés lack the self-awareness to understand the true import of their words. But maybe I’ve been wrong. Recent days brought evidence that, no, liberals really mean it: the only meaningful investigative work is that which reflects poorly on Republicans.
Earlier this week, for example, Politico Magazine published a story by Josh Meyer headlined “The secret backstory of how Obama let Hezbollah off the hook.” This epic and copiously sourced piece relates how, “in its determination to secure a nuclear deal with Iran, the Obama administration derailed an ambitious law enforcement campaign targeting drug trafficking by the Iranian-backed terrorist group Hezbollah, even as it [Hezbollah, not the Obama administration] was funneling cocaine into the United States.”
The law enforcement program in question is called Project Cassandra, which for eight years “used wiretaps, undercover operations, and informants to map Hezbollah’s illicit networks, with the help of 30 U.S. and foreign security agencies.” However, as investigators came closer to unraveling the globe-spanning conspiracy, “The Justice Department declined requests by Project Cassandra and other authorities to file criminal charges against major players such as Hezbollah’s high-profile envoy to Iran, a Lebanese bank that allegedly laundered billions in alleged drug profits, and a central player in a U.S.-based cell of the Iranian paramilitary Quds force.” Linger over that last item for a second.
They wanted him dead.
For years, a clandestine U.S. intelligence team had tracked a man they knew was high in the leadership of al Qaeda — an operative some believed had a hand in plotting the gruesome 2009 suicide attack in Afghanistan that killed seven CIA officers.
Their pursuit was personal, and by early 2014, according to a source directly involved in the operation, the agency had the target under tight drone surveillance. “We literally had a bead on this guy’s head and just needed authorization from Washington to pull the trigger,” said the source.
Then something unexpected happened. While agents waited for the green light, the al Qaeda operative’s name, as well as information about the CIA’s classified surveillance and plan to kill him in Pakistan, suddenly appeared in the U.S. press.
Abdullah al-Shami, it turned out, was an American citizen, and President Obama and his national security advisers were torn over whether the benefits of killing him would outweigh the political and civil liberties backlash that was sure to follow.
In interviews with several current and former officials, the al-Shami case was cited as an example of what critics say was the Obama White House’s troublesome tendency to mishandle some of the nation’s most delicate intelligence — especially regarding the Middle East — by leaking classified information in an attempt to sway public opinion on sensitive matters.
By the end of Mr. Obama’s second term, according to sources who spoke anonymously with The Washington Times, the practices of leaking, ignoring and twisting intelligence for political gain were ingrained in how the administration conducted national security policy.
The driver accused of mowing down crowds on Flinders Street attributed his alleged actions to “the treatment of Muslims,” according to police.
A four-year-old boy with head injuries and an 83-year-old man are among 19 people injured in the incident at Flinders Street on Thursday afternoon when a 4WD allegedly drove into pedestrians.
The driver, a 32-year-old Australian citizen of Afghan descent, was arrested after being dragged out of the car by an off-duty police sergeant who is having surgery for a hand injury on Friday.
Acting Police Chief Commissioner Shane Patton said while the accused driver was yet to be formally interviewed he did make a number “utterances” to investigators overnight.
So a radical Islamist drives a truck into a bunch of Christmas shoppers in Melbourne saying “it was because of what is being done to Muslims”, yet the authorities immediately rule out terrorism and blame mental health, and the media duly censor out the Islamist terrorism angle from the story (see example below). Again. Good thing today’s main stream media weren’t reporting in 1939.
While one might expect that a self-described “America First” foreign policy would be isolationist and, given the term’s history, hostile toward Jews, the lengthy strategy paper recently produced by the Trump administration is neither. Rather, writes Jonathan Tobin, if you “strip away the Trumpian braggadocio [that accompanied the document’s release], what you find are policy guidelines that are remarkably realistic in terms not only of the challenges facing the United States but those facing Israel as well.” He writes:
At the heart of the Trump doctrine are some contradictions. President Trump wants to be tough on Iran, but his crush on Vladimir Putin and Obama-like reluctance to confront Iran and Russia in Syria undermine his instinct to resist Tehran. He wants to promote American power and influence, but his pay-as-you-go version of alliances complicates Washington’s relations with its partners.
But President Trump has still produced a paper that has more common sense than some of the high-flown rhetoric that emanated from [the previous four administrations]. And the section on the Middle East is evidence of that. . . .
Among the most memorable lines in the 68-page document is a specific denunciation of one of the [so-called foreign-policy] realists’ most sacred cows: the notion that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is “the prime irritant preventing peace and prosperity in the region.” Trump rightly discards this myth. Instead, his doctrine points out that “threats from jihadist terrorist organizations and the threat from Iran are creating the realization that Israel is not the cause of the region’s problems.” Specifically rejecting both blind faith in “democratic transformation” and “disengagement,” Trump seeks instead to strike a cautious balance between the need to assert U.S. power and the realization that American can’t fix all of the world’s problems.
US President Donald Trump’s National Security Strategy released Monday — which declares that Israel is not the cause of the Middle East’s problems — will have very little practical impact, according to veteran US diplomats and experts on the region.
Such a document, which is released periodically by the White House because of a 1986 law, “bears little resemblance to reality usually,” said Aaron David Miller, a former Mideast peace negotiator in several administrations. “It’s not designed to deal with the granular.”
Trump’s offering generated headlines in Israel for one sentence in a 68-page document seeking to debunk what is often referred to as the “linkage theory” — the argument that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the root of the broader region’s instability.
“For generations the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians has been understood as the prime irritant preventing peace and prosperity in the region,” the missive said. “Today, the threats from jihadist terrorist organizations and the threat from Iran are creating the realization that Israel is not the cause of the region’s problems.”
President Donald Trump’s new national security strategy is set to feature the return words relevant to understanding Islamic terrorism — such as “jihad” — that had been expunged from the Intelligence and Defense communities’ lexicon, most notably under the Obama administration.
According to the new strategy document, “The primary transnational threats Americans face are from jihadist terrorists and transnational criminal organizations.” The document also vows to “pursue threats to their source, so that jihadist terrorists are stopped before they ever reach our borders.”
This is significant on several levels — the first being as basic as “knowing one’s enemy,” which former President Barack Obama had refused to do.
In 2011, it was reported that “the Obama administration was pulling back all training materials used for the law enforcement and national security communities, in order to eliminate all references to Islam that some Muslim groups have claimed are offensive.” One Obama official explained the logic: “I want to be perfectly clear about this: training materials that portray Islam as a religion of violence or with a tendency towards violence are wrong, they are offensive, and they are contrary to everything that this president, this attorney general and Department of Justice stands for. They will not be tolerated.”
It should be noted, however, that the politically correct paralysis that Obama championed was already well entrenched before him. Speaking in 2006 during the George W. Bush administration, William Gawthrop, a former Pentagon official, said: “[T]he senior Service colleges of the Department of Defense had not incorporated into their curriculum a systematic study of Muhammad as a military or political leader. As a consequence, we still do not have an in-depth understanding of the war-fighting doctrine laid down by Muhammad, how it might be applied today by an increasing number of Islamic groups, or how it might be countered.”
U.S. President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital will help move the peace process forward, Vice President Mike Pence said on an unannounced trip to Afghanistan Thursday.
Pence who had been expected to travel to the Middle East this week but delayed the trip citing a congressional vote. He told reporters that in recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, “President Trump in a very real sense believed that [the sides] can move on to other issues.
“We’ll be traveling in January to the region, to Egypt to Israel maybe two additional Arab countries and we’ll be carrying a message that while President Trump has made it clear that the United States has recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, that we recognize the right of Israel as a sovereign nation to name its capital, as every other nation of the world has, in the same breath we want to make it clear that we’re committed to achieving peace,” Pence said.
“You know you literally have, with the rising threat of Iran in the region, you have many Arab nations that are engaged in something that could be described as a beginning of a new alignment,” he continued.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said Friday he will not cooperate with any U.S. Middle East peace efforts because of the Trump administration’s recent recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
Speaking in Paris alongside French President Emmanuel Macron, Abbas said the United States was “no longer an honest mediator in the peace process” and that the Palestinians “will no longer accept any plan from the United States because of this partisan spirit.”
On Dec. 6, U.S. President Donald Trump announced his official recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, angering the Palestinians who envision east Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state.
Abbas’ comments on Friday in Paris followed a U.N. General Assembly resolution Thursday denouncing Trump’s decision. In his address Friday, Abbas also condemned a threat issued by Trump on the eve of the vote to cut off financial aid to countries that would vote against the U.S.
After talks with Macron, Abbas urged France and Europe to take on a bigger role in peace efforts instead.
Macron: Stability in the region and security of Palestine
Macron stressed the important of stability and security in his comments. He noted that “the role of France is to ensure stability in the region” and security for Israel and the Palestinians. Macron has said the war with Islamic State is coming to an end and France is likely to announce that by February, according to previous comments from Macron’s office. This shows that after ISIS France wants to play an increasingly important role in the peace process. France is seeking to fill a void or vacuum created by distrust for Trump on the Palestinian side.
France has tried this before. In 2016 French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault attempted to “relaunch” the peace process. However its attempts then did not make headway. Macron said on December 22nd that “France and EU will be mobilized to accompany both parties for a solution. On the 22nd of January President Abbas will be in Brussels and there will be again this discussion. And I will go to Israel and Palestine to exchange ideas on peace process.”
Macron supports Fatah-Hamas reconciliation
In his comments Macron noted that Abbas was “doing a lot of efforts for Hamas and Fatah and France supported it, and Palestinian Authority must go back to Gaza.” He pointed to an involvement in this process “in the coming days.” This illustrates that despite the reconciliation agreement signed between the Palestinian factions in October and the return of Palestinian Authority officials to the Gaza border with Egypt, the reconciliation has been paused since mid-November. By December the PA was supposed to be in charge again in Gaza. The US decision on Jerusalem has thrown a wrench into any kind of reconciliation by distracting from it.
Abbas condemns Israel for “expanding” in West Bank
Abbas claimed that Israel “continues to create new occupations in areas world has identified as occupied Palestinian land, they continue to expand. They force native people out of their homes.” He also mentioned the case of Ahed Tamimi, the 16-year-old Palestinian teen arrested after slapping an Israeli soldier. He claimed that Israel has also killed a man during a “peaceful protest,” an apparent reference to the shooting death of a disabled Palestinian man in Gaza.
Abbas wants sympathy for these cases and he sought to highlight them and claimed that international community has seen the suffering of Palestinians and that this will encourage EU and foreign support.
Miss Iraq Stands Up To Hate
New information has been released by the Shin Bet about the murder of IDF soldier Sgt. Ron Yitzhak Kokia in late November, specifically that the Bedouin citizen of Israel who admitted carrying out the terror attack had originally intended to kidnap him.
19 year-old Kokia, a sergeant in the IDF’s Nahal Brigade, was stabbed to death while he was waiting at a bus stop outside a shopping mall in the southern city of Arad on November 30 and his Tavor assault rifle taken by the attackers.
On December 22, 2017, the Shin Bet revealed that the two suspected attackers, Arab citizens of Israel, were arrested the day after the attack. The two men, Khaled and Zawin Abu Jouda, are residents of an unrecognized Beduin village in Negev and while they had no previous criminal record the investigation revealed that Khaled identified with various terror organizations and that he harbored extremist beliefs.
An indictment is expected to be served against the two men on Sunday.
According to the security service, Khaled admitted to carrying out the attack “out of a desire to do something on behalf of the Palestinians, and as revenge for IDF activities in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.”
Khaled told investigators during his interrogation that he had originally planned to kidnap a soldier using anesthetics that he was planning to steal from Beersheba’s Soroka Medical Center where he worked in order to use him as a bargaining chip to secure the release of Palestinian security prisoners in Israeli jails.
He purchased a getaway car vehicle and began stashing money he intended to use while living on the run, the Shin Bet said.
The mother of a slain Israeli soldier whose remains are being held by the Hamas terror group in the Gaza Strip protested on Friday the United Nation’s failure to take action on his behalf, noting that he was killed and kidnapped during a UN-sponsored ceasefire.
Leah Goldin said her son “was not a victim of the war in Gaza but a victim of the ceasefire, a humanitarian ceasefire brokered and sponsored by the United Nations.” But she censured UN members for doing “nothing” to push for his return.
She called on UN members to condition any further aid to Gaza on the release of her son’s remains.
2nd.-Lt. Hadar Goldin, 23, from Kfar Saba was captured August 1, 2014 in the southern Gaza Strip by Hamas gunmen, on the 25th day of Operation Protective Edge.
Lt. Hadar Goldin was killed on August 1, 2014 in the Gaza Strip along with Sgt. Oron Shaul, when Hamas gunmen attacked their position hours after a US- and UN-sponsored ceasefire had gone into effect at the height of the Gaza war.
“This act of terror by Hamas took advantage of a ceasefire sponsored by this organization, the United Nations,” Goldin told members of the Security Council during an unofficial session Friday. “It was a cynical and cold-blooded violation of all principles that this organization cherishes.”
The extremist Marxist-Leninist Party of Germany (MLPD) suffered a stinging defeat in a Hamburg court on Friday which ruled that a former German deputy and a weekly Jewish paper can state the far-leftist party cooperates with the Palestinian terrorist group PFLP.
“The international list and MLPD have lied through their teeth to the public and the court. I can now criticize without worry the complicity between the MLPD and the Palestinian terrorist organization PFLP,” Volker Beck, a former Green Party deputy and religion professor, told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday.
The international list, which included the PFLP, was a group of organizations that were part of the 2017 Marxist-Leninist Party election alliance.
The Marxist-Leninist Party sought a court injunction barring Beck and the weekly newspaper Jüdische Allgemeine, owned by the Central Council of Jews in Germany, from repeating the assertion that the Marxists campaigned with the terrorist entity PFLP during the 2017 German federal election. The Marxists claimed that Beck and the weekly paper could face a 250,000 Euro penalty for repeating the terrorism allegation.
The evidence revealed at the court hearing in the northern city of Hamburg showed the Marxist-Leninists scrubbed their website of direct connections between the party and the PFLP. According to screenshots from the MLPD website, the “PFLP Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine” was listed as an election partner.
After the Post reported that the Marxists formed an alliance with the PFLP, the Marxist party erased the PFLP entry and wrote “sympathizers of the PFLP.”
The Grinch Who Stole Palestinian Christmas: The PA
In an op-ed published in The Wall Street Journal on Monday, Daniel Schwammenthal, the director of the AJC Transatlantic Institute, has warned that failure to confront Iranian-backed terrorist organization Hezbollah over its violation of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1701 will make a future war between Israel and Lebanon more likely.
While Hezbollah cannot destroy Israel, Schwammenthal observed that the group can inflict serious damage to the reputation of the Jewish state by waging a media war in which “every Lebanese civilian casualty” will be mischaracterized “as evidence of Israeli war crimes and brutality.”
As The Israel Project’s President and CEO, Josh Block, warned in an op-ed published in The Boston Herald in June 2017, hiding among the civilian population is a deliberate tactic of war, used by Hezbollah and other terrorist organization, to maximize its propaganda against the enemy.
This assessment is shared by Schwammenthal: “In its propaganda efforts, it will have help: Journalists, the United Nations and nongovernmental organizations doubtless will ignore Israeli efforts to avoid civilian deaths—which surpass even NATO standards—and avert their gaze from the readily available evidence that Hezbollah is hiding its weapons among civilians,” he stated.
Schwammenthal noted further that “If Hezbollah and its Iranian overlords knew they’d be deprived of this propaganda victory, they might be less eager to attack.”
Throughout the Syria war, the Syrian regime has been accused of employing chemical weapons against combatants and the civilian population; the incident that drew the world’s attention to this issue was the August 2013 chemical attack on Damascus’s Eastern Ghouta suburb, in which hundreds of civilians were killed. This attack prompted then-U.S. President Barack Obama to threaten a military strike against the regime, which Russia, the regime’s ally, prevented by promoting an agreement under which the regime was to surrender all its chemical weapons for dismantling and destruction.
Despite the June 23, 2014 announcement by Ahmet Üzümcü, director-general of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), that the removal of the chemical weapons from Syria had been completed, Syrian opposition elements continued to report almost daily chemical attacks by the Syrian regime. The worst of these was in April 2017 in the town of Khan Shaykhun, south of Idlib, which reportedly killed about 100 people. In response to this attack, U.S. President Donald Trump ordered a strike on the Shyrat airbase, from which the Khan Shaykhun attack had been launched.
The Syrian regime, for its part, repeatedly denied the allegations against it, claiming that the opposition and ISIS were responsible for the chemical attacks.
To confirm the claims of the opposition elements, last month the Syrian opposition website Zamanalwsl.net published two reports, of uncertain credibility, about secret stores of chemical weapons belonging to the Syrian regime. On November 2, 2017, the website published what it claimed was an official Syrian regime document proving that, prior to the September 2013 arrival in Damascus of OPCW inspectors to begin dismantling chemical weapons, the regime had transferred some of the chemicals to a secret location. The article included testimony by a source who claimed to have participated in the transfer of the chemicals. On November 14, the website published statements by a man formerly employed at a secret site near Damascus where, he said, chemicals were produced.
In his latest viral video, Israeli-Arab social media phenom Nuseir Yassin decried the entry ban more than a dozen countries in the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia enforce on Israeli passport holders.
The nations in question include: Algeria, Bangladesh, Brunei, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Malaysia, Oman, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, United Arab Emirates and Yemen.
When Kuwait Airways prevented an Israeli passenger from boarding the flight he had booked from Frankfurt to Bangkok last year, it looked like an open-and-shut case.
Here in liberal, democratic Germany a foreign company had perpetrated a straightforward act of discrimination against an individual on no other basis than his citizenship in the Jewish state.
The Lawfare Project, a legal think tank and litigation fund committed to protecting Jewish civil and human rights, which I represent in Germany, decided to back the passenger, who filed a lawsuit in the Frankfurt District Court. The justice of our case, we thought and still think, is beyond doubt. When the judge requested a translation of the Kuwaiti law that bans all Kuwaiti citizens from doing any business with the Jewish state or its citizens, our confidence grew. Surely a German judge could never read this so-called law, the codified institutionalized racism of a medieval, feudal kingdom, and decide to use it as a basis for law-making in a free and democratic country?
Astonishingly, that is exactly what he did. We were shocked. When the judge found in favor of Kuwait Airways he legitimized antisemitic discrimination. It was a shameful verdict for democracy and for Germany, violating our laws and values. In the face of such a clear travesty of justice, we have now submitted an appeal.
As ludicrous as the judge’s verdict was, however, the response of several political figures has been encouraging.
German Minister of State for Europe Michael Roth, described it as “incomprehensible.”
Top 12 BDS Fails of 2017
In an October lecture, a professor at USC included “Israeli zionists” on a list titled “Who are terrorists?” the Jewish Journal reported Thursday.
A student who attended the October 26 lecture said that David Kang, a professor of International Studies, listed “Israeli zionists,” along with well-known terrorist groups such as Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), the Irish Republican Army (IRA) and the Tamil Tigers. Kang, who is director of both the USC Korean Studies Institute and the USC Center for International Studies, also listed Mao Zedong of China, Ho Chi Minh of Viet Nam and Kim Jong Il and Kim Il Sung of Korea.
The student who spoke to the Journal said that Kang “didn’t really talk about the issue any further, which… I think is the problem here.”
In addition, another slide showed an image of Hamas founder Sheikh Ahmed Yassin “We are not ready to move our struggle outside the occupied Palestinian land. We are not prepared to open international fronts, however much we criticize the unfair American position.”
Another slide featured a quote from Osama bin Laden saying that his goal was to get the United States to stop “occupying the lands of Islam,” and suggested that American foreign policy and poverty were the causes of terrorism.
New Zealand singer/songwriter Lorde may be considering canceling her upcoming concert in Tel Aviv – just a few days after it was announced.
On Monday the singer posted on Twitter that she was planning a tour including a stop in Israel, writing: “MOSCOW * ST. PETERSBURG * TEL AVIV * LET’S DANCE ——->.”
But dozens of fans responded negatively to the news, with many predictably urging her to cancel the show in Tel Aviv and support the boycott of Israel.
After two women wrote an open letter to the singer, urging her not to play, Lorde responded on Twitter that she was “considering all options.”
“Noted!” she wrote in response to the letter. “Been speaking w many people about this and considering all options. Thank u for educating me i am learning all the time too.”
Concert organizers in Israel said Lorde was not considering canceling in any way.
“We are in constant and close contact with the artist’s representatives,” according to a press representative for the show. “The performance will be taking place as promised and the ticket sales are in full swing.”
On December 7th the BBC News website published an article by BBC Monitoring under the less than objective title “Middle East media reacts to ‘slap of the century’” which opened by telling readers that:
“Headlines in Arab and Turkish newspapers are crowded with strident criticism and expressions of dismay in response to President Donald Trump’s decision to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
Those in the Israeli press welcome the move, saying it should never have taken decades to happen.”
Since then, however, audiences have seen no further coverage of the Middle East media from the licence fee funded BBC department that pledges to help them “understand the world through its media”.
BBC audiences are therefore not aware of the fact that the last couple of weeks have seen a rise in the appearance of antisemitic cartoons in some Middle East media outlets – as the ADL reports.
“These cartoons describe President Trump as a circus elephant balancing the globe on its trunk to the command of its Israeli trainer; Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pulling the arm of a blindfolded US in order to raise a Star-of-David-shaped wand; and President Trump driving off a cliff in a car marked with a Star of David. They also depict the Israeli flag on top of an Uncle-Sam-style top hat; Uncle Sam throwing away his original hat only to reveal he is in fact wearing a Jewish skullcap; as well as the US saying that “Jerusalem is the capital of Israel” while the Jewish figure is giving it a thumbs-up, as though it was said on Israel’s cue.
These cartoons resonate with an age-old anti-Semitic theme of malevolent Jewish power found in the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, a fabricated document purporting to show Jews scheming to achieve world domination.”
Jewish festivals must be a problem for the BBC. Most of them are strongly connected with the land of Israel and especially Hanukkah connected with historical and not mythological figures and events.
Most problematically the events of Hanukkah prove a Jewish connection, predating any Arab claim, to Israel, Jerusalem and the Temple at a time when the Palestinians with at least some success in the United Nations and UNESCO are attempting to write the Jews out of their own history.
Perhaps by coincidence but certainly symbolically Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital city was delivered during Hanukkah.
The podcasts referenced in this post are either time limited and/or restricted to UK listeners. If you are masochistic enough to want to hear them you must get in fast.
Facebook has apologised for censoring a viral video of an anti-Semitic attack on a Jewish restaurant owner in which he and a 60-year-old German man argued about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict with the latter telling the business owner he deserved to be put in a “gas chamber”.
Facebook apologised for taking down the video, which had been shared hundreds of thousands of times, saying: “Our reporting systems are designed to protect people from abuse, hate speech, and bullying, and we regret occasionally making mistakes when handling such reports. We know that it can be frustrating when such a mistake happens and apologise for it,” Der Spiegel reports.
The video shows the incident, which took place Berlin’s Schöneberg district, where the 60-year-old gets aggressive and starts ranting about the recent decision made by U.S. President Donald Trump to move his country’s Israeli embassy to the capital, Jerusalem.
The older man then tells the Jewish restaurant owner: “With you, it’s all about the money.” He then speaks to the 29-year-old friend of the owner saying: “You’ll all end up in the gas chamber.”
In the immediate aftermath of the Grenfell Tower tragedy, conspiracy theorists busied themselves pinning the inferno on Jews or Zionists.
Tahra Ahmed, a volunteer coordinator for those helping the survivors of the fire, told her Facebook followers that the inferno was a “Jewish ritual sacrifice” by a scheming Jewish property developer. In June, days after the fire, Nazim Ali, the leader of the Al Quds Day march through London, bellowed through his megaphone that “It is the Zionists who give money to the Tory Party to kill people in high-rise blocks”.
The Britain that we know and love, where we can live proudly as Jews, is slipping slowly away as antisemitic crime surges. Future generations will not forgive us if we enjoyed the golden era for British Jews but watched complacently as it ended.
But how does one turn the tide?
The answer is a mixture of education and enforcement. For decades, the Jewish community has been at the forefront of efforts to educate and bridge divides, but engaging in outreach without strengthening enforcement is like trying to mop up a water leak without fixing the burst pipe. We cannot educate against antisemitism if those who express vile hatred are doing so unimpeded, and for all of our success in education, we have little to show when it comes to enforcement.
Mormons are posthumously baptizing Holocaust victims as well as grandparents of public figures like Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton and Steven Spielberg, despite church rules intended to restrict the ceremonies to a member’s ancestors, according to a researcher who has spent two decades monitoring the church’s massive genealogical database.
The discoveries made by former Mormon Helen Radkey and shared with The Associated Press likely will bring new scrutiny to a deeply misunderstood practice that has become a sensitive issue for the church. The church, in a statement, acknowledged the ceremonies violated its policy and said they would be invalidated, while also noting it has created safeguards in recent years to improve compliance.
Proxy baptisms are tied to a core church teaching that families spend eternity together, but the baptisms do not automatically convert dead people to Mormonism. Under church teachings, the rituals provide the deceased a choice in the afterlife to accept or reject the offer of baptism.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the only major religion that baptizes the dead, and the ritual has contributed to struggles by the faith to combat the mischaracterization of its beliefs.
The church’s stance on family and the afterlife is behind a massive collection of genealogical records the Utah-based church compiles from around the world and makes available to the public through its website www.familysearch.org. Proxy baptisms are recorded in a password-protected part of the database accessible only to church members.
Car manufacturing giant Mercedes-Benz and the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev have launched a project for students, challenging them to find the path to the “Next 100 Million” of any good idea. The next 100 million could be anything, the organizers of the competition said. It could be the next 100 million clicks, new customers, number self-driving cars or hours of charging.
“Defining just what constitutes the ‘100 million’ is part of the challenge,” the organizers said in a statement. “All Israeli students from every field are invited to develop ideas over the next month.”
The challenge is the first launched by the Israeli university’s Bengis Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation in the Guilford Glazer Faculty of Business and Management. The project will be run together with Mercedes-Benz, in what is one of Mercedes-Benz’s first collaborations with a university since the German giant inaugurated its new R&D center in Tel Aviv last month.
The idea is to connect the competitors to real-world opportunities, and offers global organizations, like Mercedes-Benz, a way to present their problems and gain access to the new and innovative thinking of students from a variety of fields and backgrounds, the university said.
Israel’s NRGene said on Tuesday it was working with a team of researchers from Wageningen University and Research in the Netherlands as well as commercial partners to create multi-genome mapping of potatoes.
NRGene has completed the assembly of three commercial varieties of potatoes, which are the fourth most consumed food crop in the world, and it is working on others.
The potato genome is complex, NRGene said, with each potato cell containing four nearly identical copies of each chromosome and gene.
Crop researchers use genomics analyses to get a complete picture of what needs to be done to increase yields, reduce resource requirements and address food scarcity, NRGene Chief Executive Gil Ronen said.
Israel and Worcester are worlds apart, but Police Chief Steven M. Sargent said there is a lot the city can learn from how terrorist threats are being addressed in the Middle East.
On Tuesday, Chief Sargent returned from Israel after attending a weeklong counterterrorism seminar sponsored by the Anti-Defamation League of New England. The seminar brought together members of law enforcement of every level from throughout New England to learn from senior Israeli intelligence, police and military officials about the latest methods of preventing terrorism.
The Anti-Defamation League pays for training of law enforcement officials as part of its overall mission of reducing anti-Semitism and securing justice and fair treatment for all. It has been sending law enforcement officials to counterterrorism seminars in Israel since 2004.
The trip coincided with President Donald Trump’s announcing recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and plans to move the United States embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, as well as a terrorist attack in New York City that left the terrorist and three others injured. As the news of the New York bombing was unfolding, the group in Israel received briefings from Israeli officials. They were in the area where protests erupted over the president’s announcement, but they did not encounter any problems.
“We were in the same area but didn’t get involved with any of that,” Chief Sargent said. He would not comment on the politics of the situation, but said the way Israeli police handle situations like that, they were not worried about their safety.
“They take care of their business,” he said, adding that their group was kept moving from one educational program to another.
Although the challenges Israel faces in protecting its citizens in one of the most volatile areas of the world are extreme, Chief Sargent said, what he learned there will allow the Worcester Police Department to improve policies and procedures it already has in place to deal with unexpected crime situations and emergencies.
A part of the seminar that he said is relevant to Worcester was discussion about soft targets and lone-wolf terrorists.
There was once a thriving Jewish population in the country of Georgia. Now, just 3,200 Jewish believers remain. Photographer Tariq Zaidi went in search of those who stayed and found a proud and protective community lost in time.
There have been Jews in Georgia for 26 centuries. The first are said to have settled in Western Georgia during the Babylonian times following the invasion of Israel. Further waves of people entered fleeing persecution by the Byzantine Empire. Locals claim that at one point there was a vibrant community of 250,000 Jews living in the Georgian capital of Tbilisi alone.
But after the reestablishment of the state of Israel and the opening of the borders of the USSR in the late 1980s, there was mass Aliyah (relocation from the diaspora back to Israel). Many families moved to Eastern Europe and the the United States in search of work. Several hundred Jewish Georgian families now live in the New York tristate area alone. But this mass exodus means that over the last 30 years, most Jewish settlements in Georgia have gradually been abandoned, or have shrunk to ghostly fragments of their former selves.
There are now just a few cities in Georgia with a Jewish population. In Kutaisi, Georgia’s third-largest city and once a strong Jewish settlement, only 220 people of Jewish heritage remain.
“I’m often drawn to small communities who are fighting to survive in some way,” said Zaidi, a self-taught photographer who left a high-level corporate job in 2014 to take photos full-time. “So when I found out that there were so few Jews left in Georgia, I wanted to see if I could document their way of life.” (h/t Zvi)
We have lots of ideas, but we need more resources to be even more effective. Please donate today to help get the message out and to help defend Israel.