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Friday, February 15, 2013

Friday Links Part 1

From Ian:

Bulgaria security forces raid, expel Hamas delegation
Raid on residences of visiting Hamas delegation allegedly prompted by Israeli, US, British pressure; Bulgarian government denies meeting with Hamas, says Palestinians were in Sofia on "private visitation."
Bulgarian security forces on Friday raided the temporary residences of a visiting Hamas delegation in Sofia, and then expelled the officials from the country, Palestinian news agency Ma'an reported.
The Hamas delegation arrived in Bulgaria on Wednesday to present the “Palestinian narrative and expose the false Israeli narrative on the Palestinians and Hamas.” The visit was the first of its kind by Hamas officials to a member of the EU.

MEP to Ashton: Make Efforts to Name Hizbullah a Terror Group
Polish MEP Michal Tomasz Kaminski on Thursday called on EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton to step up Europe’s efforts to designate Hizbullah a terrorist organization after last week’s Bulgarian’s report that the Lebanese group was behind the terror attack on Israeli tourists in Burgas in July 2012.
The European Jewish Press (EJP) reported that in a written question to Ashton, ahead of Monday’s meeting of the EU Foreign Ministers where the issue is likely to come under discussion, Kaminski asked why the EU remains “reluctant to call Hizbulllah by its proper name”, after Ashton’s official response to the Burgas findings expressed “the need for a reflection over the outcome of the investigation.

Cruel joke: an Iranian on UNICEF’s board
Khazayee’s election to the governing body of UNICEF is a moral scandal. Iran, as reported frequently by international organizations, executes more people than any other country in the world, per capita. In 2011, 676 people were executed in Iran. During the first half of January that year, 47 prisoners were hanged; that is, an average of a prisoner every eight hours. In 2012, 480 people were executed, 12 women included. Fifty-five executions were held in public.

UK Charity Commission Whitewashes Questionable Charities
The UK's Charity Commission works on a premise that undermines any investigation before it starts. If members of a charity openly associate with extremists or terrorists, for example, instead of challenging the charity's status, the Commission defends the trustees, thereby legitimizing the charity's misconduct. As a consequence, government bodies empower extremist groups by presenting them as honest actors.

Well, that worked out well: 92% of Pakistanis now dislike America
After four years of Barack Obama's diplomatic 'leadership' and billions of dollars in attempted friendship aid, a new public opinion poll reveals that 92% of Pakistanis now disapprove of the United States.
The results could have been worse. Not much. But a little. Fully four Pakistanis out of 100 do approve of the United States, President Obama and his policies. They, however, seem to keep kind of quiet about their views in that rowdy land. That's the lowest favorable rating Pakistan's citizens have ever given their ostensible North American ally.
The new Gallup Poll, out this morning, reports that the recent high point of Pakistani approval of the United States came in the spring of 2011 when 27% approved. But then public opinion went south on North America.

CIF Watch: Peter Beaumont’s absurd political analogy regarding Israel and ‘Prisoner X’
Though Prisoner X likely represented a serious security risk for Israel, he was afforded due process in a manner which certainly seems consistent with democratic norms.
To evoke a comparison with the USSR – where, for instance, several million Soviet “enemies of the state” died (due to overwork, starvation, torture or summary executions) after being sent, without trial, to Gulag camps spread out across the entire country – is beyond parody.
Indeed, it’s likely that the true identity of Beaumont’s unnamed commentators comparing Israel’s handling of the spy case to that of the most repressive totalitarian regimes of the 20th century will prove to be far more elusive and mysterious than the identity of Prisoner X himself.

What Harriet Sherwood missed while in Gaza: Hamas to demolish 75 ‘illegal’ Palestinian homes
I guess it’s safe to say that some Palestinian victims of home demolitions are more deserving of sympathy than others, at least according to the Guardian correspondent covering Israel, the West Bank and Gaza.

Russia fights Islamists at home, backs them abroad
Analysis: Moscow’s influence abroad continues to erode, despite its attempts to ally itself with forces opposed to the West.
Moscow’s influence abroad continues to erode, despite its attempts to ally itself with forces opposed to the West and it is this game that could become costly in the long-run. The Sunni insurgents on Russian soil hold an ideological affinity with Sunni Islamists, such as those fighting the Russian-backed Syrian regime as well as al-Qaida-linked groups active throughout the region and beyond. Thus, Russia has set itself up to be opposed by the rising Sunni Islamists in the region, led by the increasingly influential Muslim Brotherhood movement and its offshoots.

Israeli delegation visits Cairo for security talks
Defense officials reportedly hold brief meeting with Egyptian counterparts while their aircraft waits on the runway
An Israeli delegation of defense officials reportedly visited Cairo on Thursday to meet with Egyptian counterparts and discuss regional security issues, including terrorist activities in the Sinai Peninsula and the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.
According to a report in Egypt’s Al-Masry al-Youm, the delegation arrived in Cairo in a military aircraft that waited for them on the runway. The delegation reportedly numbered four Israeli officials.

Health Crisis Building in Jordan Due to Syrian Refugees
Jordan’s health system is beginning to crack under the strain of caring for 340,000 Syrian refugees. Amman is seeking help with the effort.
The pressure is beyond the health sector’s strength to continue providing services for the refugees,” Jordanian Health Minister Abdul Latif Wreikat said bluntly on Thursday, according to Bernama, the Malaysian national news agency.
Chronic diseases have been discovered among a large number of the Syrians who fled across the border to safety in Jordan as well, Wreikat said. This has led to a drop in supplies of medicines in some of the hospitals and health care centers, he warned. “We welcome any assistance to help enhance our capability to provide services to the Syrian refugees,” Wreikat said.

Israeli Officials Concerned Over Fate of Tunisian Jews
Israeli officials have expressed serious concerns over the safety of the Jewish community in Tunisia, in the wake of unrest in the country
Israeli officials have expressed serious concerns over the safety of the Jewish community in Tunisia. Some 2,000 Jews still live in the country, and the Foreign Ministry's office for fighting anti-Semitism said that instability in the country could have serious negative effects on the country's Jews.

Saudis arrest 53 Christians at private worship service
Saudi authorities have continued to persecute christians in the country, in a stark example of the lack of freedom of worship in the Kingdom
Saudi Arabian authorities have arrested 53 Christians, mostly women, who were attending a worship service in the private home of an Ethiopian in Dammam, the capital of the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia.
The Christians, 46 women and six men, including three church leaders, were arrested at ten in the morning last Friday, a close relative of one of those arrested told the WEA. The three church leaders were produced in an Islamic court in Dammam the same day when authorities alleged they were converting Muslims to Christianity.

France to Return Stolen Art to Jewish Owners
France will return seven paintings from the 17th and 18th centuries to the heirs of two Jewish families whose artworks were stolen during World War II, the French culture ministry told AFP on Thursday.
Six paintings by Italian and German artists will be returned to Thomas Selldorff, the octogenarian grandson of Austrian textile magnate Richard Neumann, who was forced to flee his country in 1938.

Morocco Restores Ancient Synagogue in Nod to Jewish Heritage
Morocco held a ceremony on Wednesday to inaugurate the completion of renovations to an ancient Jewish synagogue in the historic city of Fez.
The two-year restoration of the Slat al-Fassiyine (Prayer of the Fesians) synagogue was part-financed by Germany. The ceremony included Morocco’s Islamist prime minister, Abdelilah Benkirane, as well as German parliament speaker Norbert Lammert, according to Global Post.
The restoration of the ancient synagogue in Fez, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is part of a larger effort by Morocco to come to terms with its Jewish community. The new constitution that was adopted in 2011 amid the Arab Spring recognized Morocco’s Jewish heritage.

IDF Blog: Did You Know? Last week, 42,898 Tons of Goods Entered Gaza
The IDF coordinates the delivery of a variety of humanitarian aid and development assistance to the population of the Gaza Strip.
During the last week alone, 42,898 tons of goods and gas entered Gaza from Israel in 1,445 truckloads.
Think Gaza is under siege? Think again.