December 8, 2022

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12/31 Links: Trump: Iranians tired of having wealth stolen, ‘squandered on terrorism’; OECD: Israel ranked 11th happiest country in the world

From Ian:

Trump says Iranians tired of having wealth stolen, ‘squandered on terrorism’
US President Donald Trump again encouraged the protesters in Iran on Sunday, saying that the Iranian people were no longer prepared to see the country’s resources “squandered on terrorism” as mass protests continued.

“The people are finally getting wise as to how their money and wealth is being stolen and squandered on terrorism,” Trump tweeted, saying that it looks like the Iranians “will not take it any longer.”

“The USA is watching very closely for human rights violations!” he said.

Trump’s tweets the previous day angered Iran’s government, leading the Foreign Ministry spokesman to say the “Iranian people give no credit to the deceitful and opportunist remarks of US officials or Mr. Trump.”

Trump’s remarks came with the Iranian interior minister cautioning that Israel, the US, and other regional powers do not understand the nature of the clashes and that their delight at anti-government demonstrations is misguided.

A third night of unrest in Iran overnight Saturday saw mass demonstrations across the country in which two people were killed, dozens arrested and public buildings attacked.

Stephen L. Miller: Iran’s protests are powerful and real. Why are mainstream media outlets so hesitant to report on them?

How will the Obama Presidential Library wing look celebrating a nuclear deal with an oppressive Iranian regime that could possibly be deposed by security forces and the military joining with protesters, thirsty for democracy and a return to an Iran before the 1979 revolution?

More to the point, how will it look if the Trump administration, of all things, facilitates and encourages such change in Iran?

The prospect of this is not lost on the self-styled resistance and anti-Trump media, all too anxious to witness the ribbon-cutting ceremony at the Obama Library or hand a Nobel Prize to former Secretary of State John Kerry.

Overseeing the fall of an oppressive, hardline Iranian regime that sponsors terror all around the globe – followed by the rise of a democratic Iran not interested in aggression against its neighbors – would be a foreign policy victory for President Trump, one of the biggest for a president since the fall of the Berlin Wall.

If the Iranian regime is ousted, the move would neuter Hezbollah’s primary source of funding. It would diminish Hamas at a time when the United States rightfully is moving its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem in defiance of the United Nations.

Replacement of the Iranian government could signal that Assad’s days in Syria are finally coming to an end, without powerful bullies to back him up. A new Iranian government would also no doubt give Russia pause about meddling in Middle East affairs – a hesitancy it did not have when the Obama administration gave Russian President Vladimir Putin “flexibility.”

Combative media reluctant to give President Trump credit for any policy victories – along with reluctance by anti-Trump analysts on the right (this one included) – should not divert our attention from Iranian citizens risking their lives to take to the streets. These Iranians hope the United States and the rest of the world do not ignore them again.

Why Can’t the American Media Cover the Protests in Iran?

Selling the protesters short is a mistake. For 38 years Iranian crowds have been gathered by regime minders to chant “Death to America, Death to Israel.” When their chant spontaneously changes to “Down with Hezbollah” and “Death to the Dictator” as it has now, something big is happening. The protests are fundamentally political in nature, even when the slogans are about bread. But Erdbrink can hardly bring himself to report the regime’s history of depredations since his job is to obscure them. He may have been a journalist at one point in time, but now he manages the Times portfolio in Tehran. The Times, as Tablet colleague James Kirchik reported for Foreign Policy in 2015, runs a travel business that sends Western tourists to Iran. “Travels to Persia,” the Times calls it. If you’re cynical, you probably believe that the Times has an interest in the protests subsiding and the regime surviving—because, after all, anyone can package tours to Paris or Rome.

Networks like like CNN and MSNBC which have gambled their remaining resources and prestige on a #Resist business model are in even deeper trouble. Providing media therapy for a relatively large audience apparently keen to waste hours staring at a white truck obscuring the country club where Donald Trump is playing golf is their entire business model—a Hail Mary pass from a business that had nearly been eaten alive by Facebook and Google. First down! So it doesn’t matter how many dumb Trump-Russia stories the networks, or the Washington Post, or the New Yorker get wrong, as long as viewership and subscriptions are up—right?

The problem, of course, is that the places that have obsessively run those stories for the past year aren’t really news outfits—not anymore. They are in the aromatherapy business. And the karmic sooth-sayers and yogic flyers and mid-level political operators they employ as “experts” and “reporters” simply aren’t capable of covering actual news stories, because that is not part of their skill-set.

The current media landscape was shaped by years of an Obama administration that made the nuclear deal its second-term priority. Talking points on Iran were fed to reporters by the White House—and those who veered outside government-approved lines could expect to be cut off by the administration’s ace press handlers, like active CIA officer Ned Price. It’s totally normal for American reporters to print talking points fed to them daily by a CIA officer who works for a guy with an MA in creative writing, right? But no one ever balked. The hive-mind of today’s media is fed by minders and validated by Twitter in a process that is entirely self-enclosed and circular; a “story” means that someone gave you “sources” who “validate” the agreed upon “story-line.” Someone has to feed these guys so they can write—which is tough to do when real events are unfolding hour by hour on the ground.

Sen. Tom Cotton: ‘We Should Support The Iranian People Who Are Willing To Risk Their Lives To Speak Out Against’ The Regime

On Thursday, Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) offered his opinion on the Iranian protests:

Even after the billions in sanctions relief they secured through the nuclear deal, the ayatollahs still can’t provide for the basic needs of their own people—perhaps because they’ve funneled so much of that money into their campaign of regional aggression in Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, and Yemen. The protests in Mashhad show that a regime driven by such a hateful ideology cannot maintain broad popular support forever, and we should support the Iranian people who are willing to risk their lives to speak out against it.

An interesting timeline you won’t see elsewhere on the Iran protests

The developments in Iran are so remarkable at this point that it wouldn’t surprise me to see a significant change in the regime, or a credible harbinger of change, in the next 2-3 days.

I’m not predicting such a change. But I am saying I wouldn’t be surprised to see it. Things are moving fast.

I promised you a timeline in the title, and that is further below. The grab-bag of updates here is not the timeline. I think you’ll find it worthwhile sticking around.

The individual updates are astonishing. First, a map view of how widespread the protests are. They’ve been spreading across Iran since Thursday, 28 December.

Edgar Davidson: Why the media and leftists are silent on the Iranian uprising

James Zogby Blasts Iranian Protestors for Distracting Attention from Rachael Ray’s ‘Genocide’ (satire)

Calling demonstrators taking to the street against the Iranian regime “whiny prima donnas,” Arab American Institute President James Zogby demanded protests end so attention could turn back to chef Rachael Ray’s culinary tweets.

“Instead of complaining about 38 years of corrupt, theocratic rule by dictators who use murder, rape and torture to silence dissidents, these Iranian snowflakes need to let us focus on the real issues,” said Zogby. “Rachael Ray called hummus ‘Israeli.’ I mean, that is a true genocide.” (Editor’s note: Zogby did actually call Ray’s tweet “genocide.”)

Though previous demonstrations have been crushed with brutal force, fearless Iranians have rallied against the regime, tearing down posters of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. But while others are distracted by nitpicking over human rights abuses, Zogby’s own attention has remained laser-focused on the true atrocity.

“Rachael Ray said she was having an Israeli night when she ate food that is also eaten in other countries,” Zogby reiterated. “That’s why I have tweeted 11 times about it, and haven’t mentioned the stupid Iranian protests once.” (Editor’s note: This is, sadly, also true.)

David Singer: UN, OIC, EU and PLO invite Trump retaliation

Humiliating President Trump by declaring his decision recognising Jerusalem as the capital of Israel as being “null and void and must be rescinded” – spells financial and political trouble for the United Nations (UN), the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), the European Union (EU) and the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO).

The timing of Trump’s decision can be criticised – but questioning Trump’s sovereign right to make that decision constitutes a flagrant attempt to undermine the offices of the democratically-elected US President and Congress.

Trump’s decision was made in accordance with international law and American domestic law – making a mockery of those who have claimed otherwise.

The first two casualties of this unprecedented political and legal attack on America’s governing institutions could be:
the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (“UNRWA”) and
the two-state solution proposed by the 1993 Oslo Accords and President Bush’s 2003 Roadmap – as endorsed by the UN, the EU and Russia (“two-state solution”)

US Ambassador to the UN – Nikki Haley – put UNWRA clearly in President Trump’s sights for retaliatory action when she declared:

“The United States has done more than any other country to assist the Palestinian people. By far. Since 1994, we have given over $5 billion to the Palestinians in bilateral economic assistance, security assistance, and humanitarian assistance.

David Singer: UN Vote on Trump’s Jerusalem Decision Reaches New Legal Low

The United Nations General Assembly resolution on 21 December 2017 asking nations not to establish diplomatic missions in Jerusalem (“Resolution”) was adopted by 128 of the 193 member States acting in breach of three specific articles in the UN Charter.

1. Article 2(7):

“Nothing contained in the present Charter shall authorize the United Nations to intervene in matters which are essentially within the domestic jurisdiction of any state or shall require the Members to submit such matters to settlement under the present Charter; but this principle shall not prejudice the application of enforcement measures under Chapter Vll.”

President Trump’s decisions to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and move the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem were made in accordance with the Jerusalem Embassy Act passed on 24 October 1995 by the Senate 93:5 and the House 374:37.

Trump’s decisions fell squarely within the framework of America’s domestic jurisdiction.

Other countries wanting to follow America by locating their Embassies in Jerusalem are perfectly entitled to do so free of UN condemnation or interference.

Peter Beinart builds giant Virtue Signal that can reach Outer Space (satire)

Noted progressive critic of Israel and Haaretz contributor Peter Beinart is awfully proud of his humility. Yet even a man as low-key as Peter is about his virtues sometimes needs to let the rest of us know just how awesomely #WOKE he is. So Peter set about building a gigantic Virtue Signal on the roof of his local Food Co-Op. Dubbed the “Sanctimonitor“, this edifice is the first Virtue Signal whose beams can reach past the Earth’s atmosphere into the reaches of Outer Space. Peter explained.

“Today the people of Earth are slowly being acclimated to how virtuous I am. But what about Aliens? Will Extra Terrestrial Life be sufficiently educated to know that I somehow was able to string enough words together to compare the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to the #MeToo Movement? [EDITOR’S NOTE: Yes. He Really Did This.] As a Jew I feel this is important.”

In the process of fact-checking this story, the Daily Freier contacted NASA, who confirmed that the Mars Rover is now regularly receiving Beinart’s articles from the Forward, and that the Voyager II Space Probe just received some of his Tweets supporting Obama’s Iran Deal.

The Daily Freier asked Peter if there were further steps he planned with the Sanctimonitor Virtue Signal.

At A Crossroads, Abbas’ Next Move Will Define His Legacy

Entering the thirteenth year of his four-year term, octogenarian Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is seemingly at a crossroads. Following U.S. President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, the PA is, for now, effectively boycotting Washington, thereby throwing a wrench into efforts to jump-start peace talks. Internally, Abbas continues to rule over a divided people separated between the West Bank and Gaza Strip, the recently-signed unity deal between his Fatah faction and Hamas having failed to materialize. Moreover, even as the local economy flounders the PA is widely viewed as being kleptocratic, a recent survey showing upwards of 70 percent of Palestinians wanting Abbas to resign.

These issues are exacerbated by changing regional dynamics that many believe have greatly reduced the prospect of Palestinian statehood, Abbas’ ostensible raison d’être. The chaos engulfing Syria, Iraq, Yemen and beyond has pushed the Palestinian issue to the backburner, while bringing into stark focus the intensifying confrontation between Sunni Saudi Arabia and Shiite Iran, the central conflict in Middle East.

This, in turn, has affected the way countries in the region are beginning to perceive Israel: that is, no longer exclusively as an adversary or pariah, but, rather, as a bulwark against Tehran’s expansionism and potential nuclearization. In this regard, Jerusalem has repeatedly hinted at a rapprochement with Sunni nations that has the potential to greatly increase the Jewish state’s standing with, and thus leverage with, the Muslim world.

PA recalls envoy to Pakistan after India objects to appearance with terrorist

The Palestinian Authority on Saturday recalled its ambassador to Pakistan after India expressed anger and concern over his presence next to Lashkar-e-Taiba founder Hafiz Saeed at a rally organised by extremist and radical groups in Rawalpindi.

India issued a strongly worded demarche after photos of Walid Abu Ali sharing the stage with Saeed and addressing the rally organised by the Difa-e-Pakistan Council (DPC) were circulated on social media on Friday.

Barely hours after the Indian statement, a Palestinian official told Hindustan Times: “The ambassador has been recalled from Pakistan and asked to report to Ramallah. Palestine is part of the world community and it is committed to fighting terrorism. This shouldn’t have happened.”

The Palestinian ambassador to India, Adnan Abu Al Haij, was quoted as saying that his government supported India “in its fight against terrorism” and had decided to call back its Pakistan envoy.

A statement in Arabic issued by the Palestinian foreign ministry said the envoy in Pakistan was recalled on the “direct instructions” of President Mahmoud Abbas. The envoy’s participation in the rally “in the presence of individuals accused of supporting terrorism is an unintended mistake, but not justified”, it said.

A statement issued by India’s external affairs ministry said the Palestinian side “conveyed deep regrets over the incident and assured the government of India that they are taking serious cognisance of their ambassador’s presence” at the rally. It said that the Palestinian side had conveyed that it “highly values its relationship with India and stands with us in the war against terrorism, and will not engage with those who commit acts of terror against India”.

Hamas calls US ambassador ‘racist,’ says all ties should be cut with DC

The Palestinians should cut off all ties with the United States because of “racist” and “ignorant” comments US Ambassador David Friedman made to The Jerusalem Post last week, Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said on Saturday.

Friedman, a driving force behind US President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and move the embassy there from Tel Aviv, told the Post that while the Palestinians’ angry reaction was expected, “We were disappointed with some of the rhetoric, which was ugly, needlessly provocative and antisemitic.”

“As we go forward,” he added, “this has to change.”

Barhoum said that Friedman’s statements reflected “the ambassador’s racism, ignorance and contempt for Palestinian rights and international law. He is affirming, in this policy, that they are partners to the occupation in all of its crimes against our people and its holy sites.”

According to the Hamas spokesman, the statements “are sufficient to justify an official Palestinian declaration of cutting ties with the American administration and ending Oslo.” He said the time has come to end the Oslo process, which, he said, “has led to the relinquishment of Palestinian rights and reinforcement of the Israeli occupation.”

Government okays EU cooperation deal that excludes settlements

The Israeli government has finalized a deal with the European Union for regional cooperation that excludes settlements, the Haaretz newspaper reported Sunday, with Culture Minister Miri Regev claiming she was misled into not blocking it.

Earlier this month Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu approved Israel’s joining the EU’s program for Cross-Border Cooperation in the Mediterranean — which offers funding and grants for Mediterranean nations on cooperative projects in education, research, environment and more.

But the deal contains a clause which notes that it does not pertain to areas beyond the 1967 borders, including the Golan Heights, West Bank and East Jerusalem.

The accord was also approved by Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely (Likud) and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked (Jewish Home).

The deal was not discussed in a cabinet meeting, and was automatically approved after no ministers demanded deliberation on the matter.

But Regev said she believed Israel “must reject agreements that force us to de facto boycott regions or populations… barring extreme and extraordinary circumstances.” She said she saw no reason to compromise on the Israeli position “in exchange for a meager EU budget.”

Firing back at critics, PM says Israel struck Hamas 40 times recently

Responding to criticism from opposition leaders over the government’s failure to stem rocket fire from the Gaza Strip, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told cabinet ministers Sunday that Israeli warplanes have struck Hamas targets some 40 times in recent weeks.

“Israel views Hamas as responsible for all fire toward us from the Gaza Strip,” Netanyahu said in comments delivered before the start of the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem.

“In the few weeks that have passed since we destroyed the terror tunnel that extended into our territory, the IDF has struck about 40 Hamas targets, including another strike by the air force last night,” the prime minister added.

“All those who tut-tut in the media, people who have never borne the weight of responsibility for Israel’s security for a single minute, and also never made a single security decision — I suggest they calm down. The defense minister and myself, together with the [IDF] chief of staff, the head of the Shin Bet and the heads of the security services, are leading a determined and responsible policy that is supported by this government, a policy that has made Israel into a quieter and safer place in recent years than at any other time in decades.”

Israeli jets strike Hamas post in Gaza in response to shelling

Israeli jets on Saturday night carried out a second round of airstrikes in southern Gaza in retaliation for three mortar shells fired at Israel on Friday.

The Israeli Air Force struck a Hamas post in the coastal enclave, according to a statement from the IDF just before midnight.

Following the retaliatory raid, the army accused Iran of attempting to spark a war between Israel and Gaza terror groups and putting the lives of Palestinians in danger.

“The serious fire on Friday proved again that Iran, through rogue and extremist terrorist groups, is working to deteriorate the regional situation, is playing with the lives of Gaza residents, and may lead the Strip to an escalation [of hostilities] after years of quiet,” the IDF said.

Earlier on Saturday, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman said the three mortar shells were supplied by Iran to terrorist groups in Gaza. He described the fire on Friday as a “grave act.”

Defense minister: Mortar shells fired at Israel on Friday were supplied by Iran

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman on Saturday night said the three mortar shells fired at Israel a day earlier were supplied by Iran to terrorist groups in Gaza.

The defense minister also called the firing a “very grave” act.

Speaking to Hadashot News’ “Meet the Press,” Liberman said the Islamic Republic has supplied such weaponry to a number of terror groups in the Gaza Strip in the past, and therefore it was “too early” to identify the exact source of the shelling.

The IDF on Friday had attributed the fire to rockets, rather than mortar shells.

According to initial Israeli assessments, the barrage was not launched by the Hamas terror group, which controls the Gaza Strip, but by other terrorist organizations in the enclave.
Zehava Shaul, whose son Oron’s remains are being held by the Hamas terrorist group in Gaza, is led away from a ceremony in his honor after rockets are launched at Israel from the coastal enclave on December 29, 2017. (Screen capture)

The fire targeted the Sha’ar Hanegev and Sdot Hanegev regions of southern Israel on Friday afternoon. Two of them were intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system, while the third struck near a building in a community in the area, causing damage.

IDF reservists call to investigate US funding promoting draft-dodging

Reservists on Duty, an anti-BDS group in Israel penned a letter to Israeli Ambassador to Washington Ron Dermer calling on him to investigate sources of US funding which support organizations that promote-draft dodging in Israel.

The group called for the investigation following a letter published Thursday morning in which 63 youths from around the country openly declared their refusal to enlist in the IDF and encouraged other youth to do the same.

The letter, first published by Israeli daily Yedioth Aharonot, was addressed to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, Education Minister Naftali Bennett and IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eizenkot.

In their letter to the Ambassador, obtained by The Jerusalem Post, the group wrote: “The organization that sponsored and supported the creation and signing of this letter is called ‘Mesarvot,’ roughly translated as ‘dodging.’ Shockingly enough, this organization is financed by an American based organization called RSN [Refuser Solidarity Network].”

According to the RSN website, the organization is a non-profit organization based in Washington DC that “provides a US base of support for those who refuse service in the Israeli military for reasons of political conscience.”

Assad may have retaken the Syrian Golan, but Iran is pulling the strings

The evacuation of several hundred Syrian rebels from the Beit Jinn area on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights over the weekend puts Israel in an old-new position on the border. Assad’s army is once again at the fences, just like it was from 1967 to 2011.

In the southern Golan, a few pockets of resistance remain from supporters of the Islamic State group, or as they are known locally, the Khalid Ibn Walid Army. But beyond that, the Syrians have almost completely retaken control of the border with Israel.

Only a few moderate forces remain south of Kuneitra that would maintain some relative cooperation with Israel or keep the Shiite or Sunni extremists at bay.

The actual evacuation took place quietly, and the buses carrying nearly all the rebels and their supporters have already made their way from the slopes of Mount Hermon to the last bastion belonging to the (relatively) moderate opposition, in the Idlib area.

This seemingly familiar presence — an army of Syrian regulars, disciplined and beholden to regulations, that understands the Damascus regime’s need to keep things quiet — ostensibly heralds stability. But that’s only on the surface. Over the last several years, Syrian President Bashar Assad has been forced to give up a foothold and then some to Iraqi Shiite militias, Hezbollah and, most importantly, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps. His regime was saved by their intervention and he literally owes them his life, physically as well as politically.

Assad will be forced to give the Shiite crescent a foothold in the border area, and may even do so happily.

Second senior Shi’ite militia commander visits Israeli-Lebanese border

Just weeks after a top Iraqi Shi’ite commander was filmed in South Lebanon overlooking northern Israel, a senior Syrian Shi’ite militia commander has paid the same visit to the border.

Al-Hajj Hamza, the operations commander of Liwa al-Baqir, a Hezbollah-allied Syrian militia trained by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, was seen in pictures published on Twitter on the border with Israel.

Liwa al-Baqir, founded and commanded by Hamza’s brother Al-Hajj Khalid, is one of the main Shi’ite militias in Syria. It participated alongside Hezbollah in the battle to retake Aleppo from rebels and has played a significant role in the regime’s push toward the Iraqi border.

Hamza’s visit to south Lebanon comes shortly after Qais al-Khazali, the commander of Iraq’s Iranian-backed Asaib Ahl al-Haq militia, was seen at the Good Fence on the Israel-Lebanon border in military garb, ready to support “resistance fighters” and to come to the “rescue of Palestinians and Jerusalem.”

The video of his visit caused controversy in Lebanon, with Prime Minister Sa’ad Hariri saying his visit was in violation of Lebanese law.

Fatah To Mark 53rd Anniversary With ‘Year of Confrontation’

Fatah will celebrate 53 years since its establishment on Sunday in a series of events that will begin with a ceremony at the grave of the group’s founder – former Palestinian Authority president and arch terrorist Yasser Arafat.

The celebrations will be led by Fatah Chair and PA President Mahmoud Abbas. Fatah announced ahead of the events that the 53rd anniversary of its founding will be marked by the “struggle for Jerusalem” and will be called “the year of confrontation and defense of the holy sites.”

The group posted a video clip on its Facebook page containing violent imagery against Israel, showing Palestinians – including children – fighting IDF soldiers and masked men throwing stones as well as Fatah officials leading protests.

On the same Facebook page, Fatah official and member of the group’s Central Committee Dalal Salameh is seen confronting IDF soldiers during the ongoing protests since U.S. President Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

East Jerusalem residents urged to boycott Israeli school system

A committee of east Jerusalem parents affiliated with the Palestinian Authority is trying to stop the growing trend of parents there registering their children to study according to the Israeli curriculum.

A post to the “Committee of parents to students in al-Quds schools” Facebook page called on the Arab public in east Jerusalem not to register their children to schools that teach according to the Israeli curriculum in the coming school year.

“Your children’s schools are calling on you to help. It is now your turn to openly say that the curriculum of the Israeli occupation, which strives to erase your children’s Arab, Palestinian, Islamic and Christian identity, has begun to penetrate their minds through distortions of history and cultural concepts and values that represent our history and culture.”

The organization compared the process to what it called the “great attacks of Judaization and the takeover of the holy city” and included a warning against viewing internet sites for the registration of students for the coming school year.

“The central committee of parents has decided to embark on an operation to cleanse our children’s schoolbags and schools of the Judaization program,” the post reads. “With your rejection of the policy of Judaizing minds, you will prove to the world that your affiliation and identity are Palestinian and that you are an extension of a nation with an Islamic Arabic culture that has continued throughout history.”

Turkish Twitter Explodes with Genocidal Jew-Hatred

The statements of Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan — and those of Turks who share his worldview – are further evidence that fundamentalist Muslims oppose Israel’s very existence as a sovereign Jewish state. Their ire over Trump’s Jerusalem declaration has nothing to do with U.S. or Israeli policies.

Their fury stems from Jews existing in Israel as a powerful nation – not as dhimmis (second-class and persecuted people). Fanatic Muslims cannot get over the fact that Jews still live in, and are in charge of, supposedly their Muslim holy land.

To justify their rage, these radicals rewrite history. Their claims that Jerusalem is a Muslim holy city, for example, are false. While Jerusalem is mentioned 850 times in the Old Testament, it is not mentioned once in the Koran.

10 from 2017: Times of Israel staff on their most memorable reporting moments

As we look back over 2017 and prepare to move into the new year, we have gathered some of our own favorite moments from the past 12 months: interviews that broadened our horizons, encounters that touched our souls, moments that made us laugh or cry. Here, our writers describe their most memorable 2017 reporting moments.
Amanda Borschel-Dan, Jewish world and archaeology editor, writes:

Massive section of Western Wall uncovered after 1,700 years

The Israel Antiquity Authority was abuzz over the unveiling of “something spectacular” in Jerusalem’s Old City. I arrived early — the market’s shops were still shuttered — and made my way to the Jewish Quarter to the unusually well-organized press meetup point. I registered and got my press packet and bottle of water (yay, free water).

Descending narrow stairs, I was led into the bowels of the Western Wall Tunnels by a smiling 20-something guide dressed for the occasion in an unironic stewardess outfit — complete with (ridiculous) high heels.

I twisted and turned after her somehow-steady gait in the dank, dark tunnels when, suddenly… stuffy claustrophobia gave way to crisp, fresh air as we entered an enormous, unexpected cavern.

The top 10 moments that mattered to Jews in 2017

The past year was not a quiet one, to say the least.

From the tumultuous first year of Donald Trump’s presidency to a wave of bomb threats against Jewish community centers to the flood of high-profile sexual harassment allegations, Jews — like so many others — found it hard to take their eyes off the news in the past 12 months.

As 2017 draws to a close, JTA looks back at some of the moments that had the most significance for Jews, sorted below by date.

Trump recognizes Jerusalem as Israel’s capital
The president reversed decades of US policy when he recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, saying he would eventually move the US Embassy there from Tel Aviv. The decision earned Trump praise from the Jewish state, most Jewish organizations and American evangelicals — but the rest of the world was less enthusiastic. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said he would refuse to meet with Vice President Mike Pence during an upcoming visit to the region and that he would no longer accept the US involvement in peace negotiations. The US vetoed a resolution at the United Nations Security Council — supported by all other 14 member states — to force Trump to rescind his decision. Days later the UN General Assembly passed a nonbinding resolution rejecting any recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, with 128 votes in favor, 9 against and 35 abstentions.

IsraellyCool: The Ten Most Shared Israellycool Posts Of 2017

What were the Israellycool posts that really seemed to strike a chord with you in 2017?

Here are the top 10, based on shares.

IsraellyCool: The Ten Most Viewed Israellycool YouTube Videos of 2017

In 2017, people viewed videos on the Israellycool YouTube channel almost 382,000 times, representing 468,000 minutes (7800 hours or 325 days – almost a full year of viewing!)

But what were the most viewed videos on the channel in 2017?

IsraellyCool: The Ten Most Viewed Israellycool Facebook Videos of 2017

We have already seen the Ten Most Viewed Israellycool YouTube Videos of 2017. But what about the most viewed videos on Facebook? An entirely different beast.

PreOccupiedTerritory: Faced With Accusations Of Focusing Only On Israel, BDS To Also Target Vulgaria (satire)

Leaders of the Boycott, Divest, Sanctions movement that singles out the world’s only Jewish state have responded to criticism that their declared concern for human rights extends only to where Jews can be blamed, by announcing a campaign to call for political, economic, cultural, and diplomatic pressure on the European nation of Vulgaria, which also violates the rights of those under its dominion.

Mustafa Barghouti, Rania Khalek, and several other prominent BDS activists issued a joint statement this morning (Wednesday) to the effect that the movement seeks to dispel the false accusation of hypocrisy by highlighting at least one place other than Israel whose alleged misdeeds must be combated through BDS.

“We have in the past dismissed characterization of our emphasis on Israel’s oppression of Palestinians as attempts to distract from the issue,” the statement read. “However, following extensive consultations with many of our activists around the globe, we decided to make a good faith gesture to demonstrate our sensitivity to concerns that our actions match our rhetoric. We therefore call on all governments, companies, organizations, artists, academics, and institutions to cease all contacts with Vulgaria and its officials effective immediately.”

The statement continued with a description of the Vulgarian regime’s mistreatment of its indigenous population. “Baron and Baroness Bomburst must cease their depredations against their people,” it declared. “Practices such as child-catching and a ban on producing or raising children carry ominous echoes of everything we accuse Israel of doing against Palestinians, and must stop.”

Top 7 Guardian anti-Israel errors, lies and deceptions in 2017

Narrowing down an entire year of Guardian anti-Israel reporting to the seven most egregious examples is not an easy task, but, as a public service to our loyal readers, here are some errors, deceptions and outright lies about Israel in 2017 that especially stood out:

1. Guardian op-ed by Diana Buttu claims Palestinians are arrested for ‘criticising Israel’ on Facebook

Diana Buttu’s allegations in the Guardian, including her bizarre claim that Palestinians have been arrested for criticising Israel on Facebook, are both context-free and counter-factual – essentially everything you’d expect from a PLO propagandist with such well-documented record of lying about the Jewish state.

2. Guardian falsely suggests existence of Haredi-only Israeli hospitals

The Guardian’s suggestion that there are haredi-only hospitals is just absurd, as anyone familiar with Israeli hospitals would surely know. Whilst Bikur Cholim Hospital in Jerusalem likely treats a large number of Haredim (due to its close proximity to Haredi neighborhoods), like all Israeli hospitals, it treats all patients who come through its doors, regardless of religious background.

Israeli high-tech exits in 2017 totaled $7.44 billion

Israeli high-tech exits totaled $7.44 billion in 2017, 110% more than the $3.5 billion in exits in 2016. An exit is defined as a merger, acquisition or initial public offering (IPO).

Year-end figures for Israel’s high-tech industry released by PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PwC) Israel (excluding exits of less than $5 million) reveal that the number of mergers and acquisitions (M&As) involving Israeli companies increased 9 percent over 2016 to 131, and 9% of those deals were worth $400 million to $1 billion.

The average price of M&A deals went down 27% in 2017 to $142 million, the first decline in five years.

Nearly half the exits cited in the report were in the computing and software sector, including cybersecurity technologies. Life-sciences companies accounted for about a quarter of the exits, Internet companies 12%, and communications companies 9%.

As for IPOs, 11 Israeli high-tech companies held IPOs on stock exchanges in Israel, the US, Sweden, the UK or Australia, raising an aggregate $414 million at an aggregate company value of $1.5 billion, a substantial increase over 2016. The biggest IPO the report cited this year was by software company ForeScout Technologies, which raised $116 million on NASDAQ in October.

New Year’s video in Times Square made by Israel’s Wibbitz

About one million revelers in New York City’s Times Square tonight will see a giant three-minute video summary of 2017’s top stories — made by Israeli text-to-video platform Wibbitz – as they wait for the 12-foot New Year’s Eve Ball to descend the flagpole atop One Times Square 10 seconds before midnight.

The video to be screened before midnight on the 25-story tower will be visible not only to the live crowds filling the square but also to TV viewers via ABC broadcast. The exposure is estimated to be worth $1.2 million.

The Wibbitz platform leverages artificial intelligence technology to transform text articles into bite-sized videos quickly, automatically and at scale for more than 500 content sites including Bloomberg, Reuters, AP, Time and Forbes.

The segments making up the New Year’s Eve clip were selected by popularity, based on the content preferences of online visitors. International news agency AP contributed the videos and photos of the selected events for the three-minute Wibbitz video.

Population of Israel: 8.8 million

The population of Israel is 8,793,000 people, 75% of which are Jews, according to data published by the Central Bureau of Statistics ahead of the year 2018.

The data also indicated that some 180,000 babies were born in Israel in the past year. Of these, 73.8% were Jews, 23.3% Arabs, and 2.9% from other groups.

According to the data, some 27,000 new immigrants arrived in Israel over the course of the year 2017.

The main countries from which immigrants arrived were Russia (27.1%), Ukraine (25.5%), France (13%), and the US (9.8%).

Most of the immigrants, some 20,200 people, arrived from Europe (75%). 4,200 arrived from America and Ukraine (15%), 1,400 arrived from Asia (5.1%) and 1,200 from Africa (4.3%).

Israel ranked No. 11 on OECD list of world’s happiest countries

Israel just missed out on a place in the top 10 happiest countries on a list compiled by the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development and was ranked No. 11.

However, Israel still came out ahead of Germany, the U.S., Japan, Italy, Ireland, Luxembourg, the Czech Republic, Britain, Brazil, France and Mexico.

According to data from Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics, over 93% of Israelis say they are happy or very happy with their lives. The happiest age groups were 20-24, 55-59, and 65-74. The number of Israelis aged 30-39, 45-49, and over 75 who said they were happy was lower, but still over 85%.

Israel also ranked 11th in terms of life expectancy, according to the OECD. The average Israeli lives 82.45 years, compared to the OECD average of 80.5. Countries with longer average life expectancy than Israel included Japan, Spain, Australia and most of Scandinavia. Israelis live, on average, longer than Canadians, Austrians, Belgians, Greeks, British, Danes, Germans, Americans, Turks, Poles, Hungarians and Mexicans.

The average life expectancy for women in Israel was 84.2 in 2017, compared to 79.5 in 1995 and 73.9 in 1975. The average life expectancy for men was 80.7 in 2017, compared to 75.5 in 1995 and 70.3 in 1973. Since the 1973 Yom Kippur War, the average life expectancy for both men and women in Israel has increased by more than 10 years.

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