Thursday, July 23, 2015

From Ian:

J Street Fronts For Obama On The Iranian Deal
New York Times Jerusalem bureau chief and often unrelenting critic of Israel, Jodi Rudoren tweeted the obvious about Israelis reaction to the Obama administration’s deal with Iran, “You know, 2 Jews, 3 opinions. Here you have 8 million Jews and nearly one opinion.”
Israelis understood that their security, if not their existence, was being offered up on a platter of narcissism to promote President Barack Obama’s legacy and Secretary of State John Kerry’s quest for a Nobel Prize that will be as meaningful as the one given to the murderous thug Yasser Arafat.
Israeli Jews are indeed of one pessimistic mind with regard to Obama’s capitulation to Iran. Israeli Jews remember that in the period between the wars, among their European brethren, the pessimists fled to America while the optimists got a free train ride to Auschwitz. Misplaced optimism has its price.
For both Israeli Jews and nearly every major Jewish organization, this is not a time for optimism but a time to petition congress to block Obama’s surrender to the mullahs.
Not so for J Street, the anti-Zionist Zionists that have convinced “useful idiots” in the liberal Jewish community that Obama has effectively blocked Iran from a pathway to the bomb by releasing billions in Iranian funds, ending sanctions, and submitting to every demand the Iranians made with regard to inspections, which will require more notice than the Chicago police once gave Al Capone before a raid.
J Street’s president and founder, Jeremy Ben-Ami once described the organization as Barack Obama’s blocking back. So, it is not surprising that the organization proclaimed that the deal appeared to adhere to the criteria established by non-proliferation experts and it verifiably blocks Iran’s pathway to a nuclear weapon.
J Street defends Iran deal in full-page NYTimes ad
As high-stakes lobbying efforts kicked into gear on Capital Hill Thursday, the liberal Jewish American lobby J Street ran a full-page advertisement in The New York Times urging Congress to refrain from “sabotaging” the Iranian nuclear agreement.
The “pro Israel, pro peace” advocacy group’s ad suggested that the Jewish state will be better off with the pact, and that Tehran will be stripped of its uranium, plutonium and centrifuges and undergo a 24/7 monitoring regime.
The deal “makes the US and Israel safer” and leaves the Islamic Republic with “zero pathways to the bomb,” the ad states, echoing US President Barack Obama.
J Street has found itself on the opposing side of the aisle as the American Israel Public Affairs Committee and the Israeli ambassador to the US, Ron Dermer, try to persuade lawmakers that the nuclear deal with Iran endangers the Jewish state.
Citizens for a Nuclear Free Iran: The Iran nuclear deal. Good deal or bad deal?

Salman Rushdie says the world learned the ‘wrong lessons’ from his Iran fatwa ordeal
More than a quarter century after being slapped with a fatwa fromIran calling for his murder over his book “The Satanic Verses”, Salman Rushdie says the world has learned the “wrong lessons” about freedom of expression.
The British author, in an interview published Wednesday by the French news magazine L’Express, said his ordeal by religious fanatics determined to violently avenge what they construed as blasphemy should have served as a wake-up call to the world.
Instead, after the September 11, 2001 attack on America and the massacre in Paris in January this year of cartoonists and staff at the Charlie Hebdo satirical weekly, and with the ongoing rampage of the brutal Islamic State group in the Middle East, Rushdie said some writers and other people were too cowed to talk freely about Islam.
“It seems we learned the wrong lessons,” he said in the interview printed in French. “Instead of concluding we need to oppose these attacks on freedom of expression, we believed we should calm them through compromises and ceding.”
The “politically correct” positions voiced by some — including a few prominent authors who disagreed with Charlie Hebdo receiving a freedom of speech award at a PEN literary gala in New York in May — were motivated by fear, Rushdie said.
– ‘Fear disguised as respect’ –
US Adopts the International Lie of a Fictional Arab Village
A fictional Palestinian Authority village is on the throes of becoming a reality that threatens a Jewish presence next to the Talmudic-period Jewish village of Susiya and would be a catalyst to support the blood libel that all of Israel was stolen from Arabs.
Arab Susiya, with several dozen tents and structures, has been built like a Broadway stage, complete with props that enable the Arabs to spin the yarn that it has existed for centuries but that the mean IDF is trying to destroy their ancient lifestyle.
The U.S. State Dept., the European Union and lazy and inherently biased international media have swallowed the tale that is chock full of romanticism and anti-Zionism.
The southern Hebron Hills until recent years was a forgotten rural region. Archaeological evidence clearly proves that Jews lived in Biblical and Talmudic times until as late as the 9th century, coinciding with the birth and rise of Islam.
Modern aerial photographs and academic researchers have categorically established that Arabs never lived in Susiya, but the world prefers to believe starry-eyed fairy tales that Jews are land thieves.
Yisrael Medad: Sussia on the Op-ed Page
Nasser Nawaja has written an appeal. In The New York Times. At its Op-Ed section.
Actually, I think, after reviewing the clip at Rabbis for Human Rights, that someone else wrote the piece for him but as we know, for a hundred years or more, that without external assistance, prodding and initiating, there really wouldn’t be any “Palestinian national movement”.
The article itself is headlined
Israel, Don’t Level My Village
According to Regavim, there is a misrepresentation of facts here.
That an old Arab village called Susiya existed was first asserted by the Nawajah family, Arab herders, in the mid 1990’s is true. However, Israel’s High Court (HC rulings 7530/01, 430/12, 1556/12, 1420/14) found that these assertions were demonstrably false, based on comprehensive objective historical and geographical accounts. Historical aerial photography, detailed mandatory maps, travelogues from the 18th and 19th centuries, and the population registry all established that their assertions were a fabrication. Fact: no such village ever existed.
Those Arab herders were found to have homes in Yatta (a city in Area A under full control of the PA) and frequented the area near the ancient Jewish Town of Susiya only seasonally whilst grazing their flocks.
If Jews are to comply with the courts, so, too, must Arabs and their Jewish promoters.
Khaled Abu Toameh: Abbas counting on EU to pave way for resumption of stalled peace process
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said Wednesday that he was pinning hopes on the EU and members of the Quartet to pave the way for the resumption of the stalled peace process.
Abbas, who was speaking in Bethlehem during a joint press conference with visiting Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, said that the Palestinians continue to believe in the need for peace in the region.
“We believe in the two-state solution, where Palestine and Israel would live alongside each other,” Abbas said. “Our efforts to join international institutions and conventions are not directed against anyone.
Rather, this is an attempt to solidify the Palestinian identity as a political entity and an active member of the international community.”
Abbas said that the Palestinians continue to extend a hand of peace to Israelis on the basis of international resolutions and the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative. He warned, however, that the continued occupation and settlements were undermining the prospects of achieving peace.
He also said that he was working to form a Palestinian unity government. He added that this step would be followed by elections in the Palestinian territories. Such a unity government would be formed on the basis of Abbas’s own political agenda, he said.
 EU Should Be Pushed on Treatment of ‘Occupied Territories’
Responding to today’s Times of Israel interview with Fatou Bensouda, prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, legal expert Eugene Kontorovich tweeted, “you got to ask #Bensaouda questions & didnt ask about an inquiry into settlements in Cypru[s]?” But Bensouda could actually offer a reasonable response to this challenge about double standards. The people who couldn’t – and who should therefore be hounded about it at every conceivable opportunity – are senior European Union officials who insist that any facilitation of Israeli activity in the “occupied West Bank” is illegal, yet happily facilitate Turkish activity in occupied Northern Cyprus, Moroccan activity in occupied Western Sahara, Chinese activity in occupied Tibet, and much more.
Just today, Reuters revealed that an influential European think tank is urging the EU to go beyond its current drive to label Israeli settlement products and impose numerous additional sanctions, from restricting interaction between European banks and Israeli banks that do business in the settlements (i.e. all of them) to refusing to recognize degrees from Israeli educational institutions in the West Bank. The European Council of Foreign Relations is technically an independent organization, but, as Reuters correctly noted, its “proposals frequently inform EU policy-making.” In 2013, the council proposed five different measures against Israeli activity in the West Bank; two years later, three of the five have been largely adopted, either by the EU itself or by individual member states: excluding settlement produce from EU-Israel trade agreements, severing contact with Ariel University (which is barred from the EU’s Horizon 2020 research program) and advising European companies against doing business in the settlements.
But as Kontorovich has pointed out repeatedly, the EU has no qualms about facilitating activity in other territories that it deems occupied. For instance, the EU has an entire program to direct funding to Turkish-occupied Northern Cyprus; inter alia, the program finances infrastructure projects, scholarships for students and grants to businesses. And lest one think this is equivalent to EU projects to help Palestinians, think again: Turkish settlers, who constitute anywhere from 20 to 50 percent of the population (depending on whose estimates you believe), are eligible; nor is the program barred from funding projects that directly or indirectly benefit these settlers. That’s in sharp contrast to the West Bank, where European countries refuse to fund any project that might benefit Israeli settlers, even if it benefits the Palestinians far more.
Similarly, Kontorovich noted, the EU reached an agreement with Morocco in which it actually pays Morocco for access to fisheries in Moroccan-occupied Western Sahara. In short, the EU is paying the occupier for the right to deplete the occupied territory’s natural resources.
And, of course, numerous European companies and organizations do business in such territories; from French conglomerates like Total and Michelin to British universities.
EU Rejects Report Calling to Sanction Israeli Banks
The European Union has no plans to impose sanctions on Israeli banks, a senior EU official asserted Wednesday night, just hours after an EU think tank called on the body to take such harsh action.
"We have no intention of imposing restrictions on Israeli banks that do business in the settlements. This entire issue is complete nonsense. This issue has never been considered," the official said.
After the EU agreed to push ahead with labeling Israeli good manufactured in Judea and Samaria, the European Council on Foreign Relations called for additional action in its report "EU Differentiation and Israeli Settlements."
The report, published Wednesday, claims the EU is violating its own law and must take firmer steps to distinguish its dealings with Israel from the "settlements" in Judea and Samaria.
ECFR recommended imposing sanctions on Israeli banks, academic qualifications from Judea and Samaria-based universities, and the tax-exempt status of European charities who help support Jewish communities in the area.
 Oren: Jesus today would be a settler
The Knesset's Christian Allies Caucus was formed anew Wednesday at a festive event in the parliament with Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein.
The caucus was founded 11 years ago but in each Knesset it must be renewed. The head of the caucus in the last Knesset, Yisrael Beytenu MK David Rotem, chose not to run again and then died.
In the new Knesset, the caucus will be chaired by Yisrael Beytenu faction chairman Robert Ilatov, assisted by his deputy from the Zionist Union, Deputy Knesset Speaker Yoel Hasson.
Kulanu MK Michael Oren, a former ambassador to the US, said that former American presidents John Adams and Abraham Lincoln thought it was their duty as good Americans and good Christians to help Jews return to the land of Israel. He recalled how a Christian Congressmen from West Texas opened a Bible and asked him how much funding Israel required for the Iron Dome missile defense system.
"US-Israel relations go back to spiritual ties," Oren said. "God speaks only one language and it's the language in which we are yelling at each other in the next hall. Jesus, Mary, and John the Baptist would today be considered Jewish settlers in Bethlehem. We are on a holy mission to ensure the Jewish state remains strong and beloved."
Daphne Anson: At Westminster, Anti-Israel MPs Scrape The Barrel's Bottom
Nicholas Soames, the pompous and visibly well-fed Tory MP of privileged background, who's reportedly not beneath making obnoxious sexist comments and gestures to women members of the House of Commons, has long been an Arabist foe of Israel.
Now, this grandson of Sir Winston Churchill, son of the late Cabinet minister and life peer Christopher Soames, and chum of Prince Charles, has hastened to put his name to an "Early Day" motion in Parliament to the following effect:
"That this House condemns the abysmally low proportion of non-Jewish, African asylum seekers who have been granted refugee status in Israel; notes with concern that less than one per cent of applications by African refugees are successful; further notes that Israel's closest neighbours, Jordan and Lebanon, have each accepted millions of refugees fleeing Syria; commends the work of Hotline for Refugees and Migrants Israel, and the Assaf Aid Organization for Refugees and Asylum Seekers in Israel in promoting African refugee rights in Israel; and calls on the Government to demand immediate action from the Israeli government to behave in line with international legal norms and obligations."
What some people will stoop to in order to kick Israel, huh?
I wonder whether Soames was as concerned for the welfare of black Africans back in the day when his father was governor of Southern Rhodesia.
No Jihad Here: Middle East Studies Profs on Chattanooga Shooting
Less than one week after the slaughter in Chattanooga, Tennessee of four U.S. Marines and one sailor by Mohammod Youssuf Abdulazeez, a Kuwaiti-born Islamist who grew up in suburban Chattanooga, a pattern has emerged in Middle East studies scholars' analyses of the shooting: obfuscation of any Islamist or jihadi motives accompanied by efforts to depict Abdulazeez as one among many troubled killers whose recent actions have shocked the country. No specialized knowledge of the Middle East is required for such politicized and misleading analyses, and none is evident in the examples that follow.
The title of University of Michigan history professor Juan Cole's article at truthdig reveals his desperation to deny any religious motivation: "Four Marines Dead: Semi-automatic Assault Weapons Are a Security Problem for the U.S." Cole lumps the latest chapter of jihad in America with non-sectarian mass murders committed by psychopaths:
The mass murder of children at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., or the theater massacre in Aurora, Colo., both in 2012, were insufficient to spark a serious national legislative debate about this threat. Now that four Marines are dead at the hands of a civilian armed with such a weapon, can we discuss again a ban on those weapons, of the sort enacted in the Clinton administration?
Cole never considers Islamist beliefs, the possible influence of ISIS or others, radicalization via the Internet, or overseas meetings with pro-jihadi individuals or groups as possible motivations for Abdulazeez's actions. His effort to label the deliberate targeting of U.S. military personnel as a symptom of insufficient gun control is simply willful blindness masquerading as scholarly commentary.
BBC Helps Spread Anti-Israel Conspiracy Theories About Arafat
Notably, the BBC News website refrained from reporting on the results of the French investigation at the time of their official publication although it did cover an earlier leak in two reports. Its coverage of the Russian results amounted to one article. However, coverage of the Swiss results saw BBC News website users bombarded with no fewer than thirteen reports on the topic in the space of 48 hours.
A recurrent feature appearing in most of those reports, as well as in additional BBC content, was the amplification of conspiracy theories surrounding the then 75 year-old Arafat’s death. Remarkably, even in this latest story about a French prosecutor having concluded that there is no point in pursuing the inquiry any further, the BBC promotes that same conspiracy theory no fewer than three times.
The main photograph chosen to illustrate the article is captioned:
“Many Palestinians accuse Israel of involvement in Arafat’s death – something it denies”.
In paragraph five readers are told that:
“Many Palestinians nonetheless continue to accuse Israel of involvement in his death – something it has strenuously denied.”
And just in case by the time they had read the whole article that conspiracy theory had perhaps slipped their mind, the report’s final lines tell readers that:
“Despite the Russian and French findings, a Palestinian investigative committee declared that it was certain that Arafat was “killed and that Israel killed him”.”
Just a day before this article was published the British prime minister gave a landmark speech on extremism in which he repeatedly noted the connection between conspiracy theories and radicalization and extremism.
BBC’s Panorama Jerusalem train programme takes viewers on a predictable journey
Towards the end of the film, at 24:32, and despite having previously told viewers that the government of Israel has made it perfectly clear that no changes will be made to the status quo on Temple Mount, Wishart returns to his dubious hypothesis:
“When I was here 31 years ago even my most fervently Zionist friends weren’t rushing to build a temple on this site. Now the idea is gathering support from within the mainstream. Even a member of the new cabinet supports the idea. I can’t help but think that if some Jews push much further this would surely be the last stand for the Palestinians.”
And at 25:01 he manages to introduce conspiracy into what is no more than an urban public transport system:
“I’m left wondering what is the purpose of the train. Does its ultimate destination hold a clue? It travels north, through the Palestinian neighbourhoods, and snakes round the refugee camp. What’s so controversial is that the ultimate destination is an Israeli settlement. A thousand acres taken by Israel to build a beautiful suburb. Like all settlements in occupied territory, most of the international community consider them to be illegal.”
That ‘settlement’ is the Jerusalem neighbourhood of Pisgat Ze’ev and a quick search even of Pisgat Ze’ev’s Wikipedia entry would have shown Wishart that much of the suburb is in fact built on land purchased by Jews before the Second World War. In line with the usual BBC practice, Wishart makes no effort to inform viewers of the existence of differing legal opinions concerning the legality of ‘settlements’ and he also makes no effort to clarify that under any realistic scenario, Pisgat Ze’ev would be likely to remain under Israeli control in the event of a peace agreement with the Palestinians.
Ark curtain burnt, swastikas daubed at Jerusalem synagogue
Jerusalem synagogue was vandalized with the curtain of an ark holding Torah scrolls torched and swastikas daubed on a wall, police said Thursday.
The police said they opened an investigation into the arson attack.
According to the Kikar HaShabat website, the targeted synagogue was the “Pit’hei Olam” learning center on King George street in the city center, an Orthodox yeshiva catering to newly observant students.
Pictures from the site showed a burnt curtain and badly drawn swastika.
Watch: Security Forces Uncover Huge Weapons Cache
Undercover police agents of the Judea-Samaria police have busted 23 Palestinian Arab suspects over the past few months, the Israel Police released for publication Wednesday, on charges of arms smuggling, weapons manufacturing, and drug trafficking.
Over the past 36 hours, the police conducted an extensive arrest operation in which police, the IDF, the Border Police, and special forces acted to arrest the suspects in Arab villages across Samaria (Shomron), Binyamin, and Hevron.
Police released footage of finding various weapons caches, and the total arms found in the raid.
In total, authorities:
- arrested 23 suspects;
- found 16 different types of weapons, including both modified and standard M-16s, as well as weapons parts;
- found ecstasy and hashish; and
- found tens of thousands of shekels, presumably for terror activities.
Several of the weapons had made the rounds between senior terrorists and senior criminals in the PA.
PMW: PA Officials: Murderer of 15 “set an example of giving and heroism”
Two senior Palestinian Authority officials laid wreaths at the grave of terrorist Abu Sukkar who in 1975 filled a refrigerator with explosives and detonated it in the center of Jerusalem, killing 15 people.
At the ceremony, Governor of Ramallah Laila Ghannam pledged loyalty to “the path” of the terrorist, who she called a “great fighter”:
Ghannam: "The spirit of Ahmad Abu Sukkar is the spirit of freedom burning in our souls and in our lives. We will remain loyal to the path of this great fighter, who sacrificed his life for the freedom and independence of Palestine." [WAFA (the official Palestinian Authority news agency), July 16, 2015]
Issa Karake, PA Parliament Member and Director of PLO Commission of Prisoners’ Affairs, praised the bomber as someone who “set an example”:
Karake: "Ahmad Abu Sukkar was a real man, fighter, and human being who left his mark on everyone. He set an example of giving, resolve, and heroism. We are proud of him for being one of the symbols of the Palestinian national struggle and a symbol of the male and female prisoners' struggle for freedom and honor."
PA daily: Israel's goodwill is really "scheme" to profit by "the enemies of Allah"
Israel's goodwill gesture to grant additional permits to Palestinians to enter Jerusalem and the rest of Israel during the month of Ramadan was interpreted in the official PA daily as nothing more than a selfish way to boost the Israeli economy.
In an op-ed entitled "Al-Aqsa is calling you," a columnist for the paper called on Muslims to come to Jerusalem and the Al-Aqsa Mosque "every day, with all our strength, if we are able to do so." This to counter what the writer interpreted as an Israeli plot to profit financially from the additional Palestinians entering Jerusalem during Ramadan - a "scheme" carried out by "the enemies of Allah from among the Children of Zion":
"In the month of Ramadan, when our footsteps crave the mosques, let us come to the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque every day, with all our strength, if we are able to do so -for the enemies of Allah from among the Children of Zion wish, through their cunning schemes, to open new channels for their economy, by opening the gates of Jerusalem. However, we are those who support the economy of our people and its homeland, and this is an opportunity for us to pray in the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque." [Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, June 24, 2015]
Hamas Accuses PA of Pocketing Venezuelan Aid to Gaza
Palestine, the official paper of the Hamas terrorist organization, on Thursday published an article accusing the Palestinian Authority (PA) of abusing humanitarian aid set aside by Venezuela for needy Palestinian Arabs, promptly fattening its own pockets with the aid.
Journalist Faiz Abu Shamala of the paper wrote that after last summer's war launched by Hamas against Israel, and as a protest against Israel's policy of taking military action in the hostile enclave of Gaza, the Venezuelan regime decided to give 1,000 scholarships to Palestinian Arab students studying medicine.
Conditions of the scholarships stipulated that the students be from a science department with grades over 80, and that they hail from poor families unable to fund studies in Europe at a year's tuition of 30,000 euros.
According to the Hamas paper, the PA didn't honor the terms of the scholarships, and began selling the Venezuelan scholarships for $7,000 each to students studying humanities, businessmen, laborers and others.
Reportedly the deception caused a storm at Venezuelan universities, and a backlash in the country against the PA.
Dinosaur City Opens in Gaza
More Dispatches from Prison Camp Gaza
Gaza has a new theme park. Opening last month, Dinosaur city is part of Sharm park, located just south of Gaza city. Life-like animatronic dinosaurs that move and growl fill the park to the delight of the children of Gaza. There are already plans to expand the park.
From Al-Monitor:
Abdallah Joudeh, the park’s manager and guide, told Al-Monitor that the main purpose of building the theme park was to establish a link between what students learn in school and an entertaining experience. He said that Dinosaur City was developed after a number of engineers saw similar projects around the world. The dinosaurs were designed in Gaza and ordered from China.
Adults pay seven shekels (around $2) and children pay three shekels (around $1) to enter the park.
The 25 mile long coastal enclave already boasts two other theme parks- Asdaa City and Kids Land
PreOccupied Territory: Probe Reveals UNRWA A Front To Harvest Blood For IDF (satire)
An investigation of one of the world’s foremost refugee organizations has discovered that instead of making the care and proper resettlement of refugees its priority, the group has instead used its access to those refugees to harvest blood, and occasionally organs, for wounded Israeli soldiers, according to an international law-enforcement group. A four-year Interpol investigation completed last month points to cynical Israeli manipulation and propping up of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees, or UNRWA as it is more commonly known. The burgeoning Palestine refugee population, while seen by many as a political time bomb, has in fact been primarily an increasingly reliable source of blood transfusions for IDF soldiers. UNRWA administers 58 recognized camps for the millions of descendants of 700,000 Palestinian Arabs who fled their homes before or during the 1948 war that followed Israel’s declaration of statehood, but any proper refugee organization would have resettled all of those refugees in short order instead of keeping them stateless and dependent.
Given the lack of logic and constructive purpose in UNRWA, international experts believe it should have been dismantled long ago and its refugees absorbed into the national entities hosting the camps: Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, and, since 1993, the Palestinian Authority. While political factors partially account for those entities’ refusal to grant Palestinian refugees citizenship and disband UNRWA, the organization’s persistence and robustness is more adequately explained by the benefit Israel derives from it, say Interpol officials.
Inside Hezbollah’s European Plots
After months of often acrimonious deliberations, senior European officials gathered in Brussels in July 2013 to announce that all 28 EU member states agreed to add Hezbollah’s military wing—not the organization itself—to the EU’s list of banned terrorist groups. At the time, European officials pointed to the blacklisting as a shot across the bow. “This is a signal to terrorist organizations,” German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle warned: “If you attack one of our European countries, you get an answer from all of them.”
Fast-forward two years. New evidence reveals that Hezbollah’s military wing is still plotting attacks across Europe. We now know that the explosive material recently found in Cyprus was stored in the basement of a house in a residential Larnaca neighborhood sometime in 2011. In other words, these two Cyprus plots were not consecutive, but overlapping and possibly connected. By the time the EU banned Hezbollah’s military wing, the recently seized explosives had already been in the country for over a year, maybe two. Hussein Abadallah made around 10 trips to Cyprus to check on the explosives stockpile, starting in 2012. He was paid handsomely to serve as guardian of chemicals: He was arrested carrying 9,400 euros, which he conceded was his latest payment from Hezbollah.
Abdallah admitted that Hezbollah planned to mount attacks in Cyprus targeting Israeli or Jewish interests there, but that was hardly the full scope of the operation. Indeed, the amount of explosives Hezbollah stockpiled would have facilitated many attacks. According to Israeli investigators, Hezbollah was using Cyprus as a “point of export” from which to funnel explosives elsewhere for a series of attacks in Europe. Indeed, the plot was already in motion: investigators believe the explosives used in the 2012 Burgas bus bombing may have come from the batch of chemicals stored in Cyprus.
Retiring Army Chief Odierno: US Could Have Prevented Rise of ISIS
U.S. Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno, in an exclusive interview with Fox News weeks away from his retirement, said the United States military could have prevented the rise of the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) group.
“It’s frustrating to watch it,” said Gen. Odierno, referring to the rise of ISIS in Iraq and Syria. “I go back to the work we did in 2007, 2008, 2009, and 2010 and we got it to a place that was really good. Violence was low, the economy was growing, politics looked like it was heading in the right direction.”
“If we had stayed a little more engaged, I think maybe it might have been prevented,” he added, highlighting concerns about U.S. troop withdrawal pace in Iraq. “I’ve always believed the United States played the role of honest broker between all the groups and when we pulled ourselves out, we lost that role.”
As the top commander in Iraq in 2009, Gen. Odierno, to no avail, suggested that the U.S. keep 30,000-35,000 troops in Iraq after the end of 2011, when America was scheduled to withdraw its forces.
“I think it would have been good for us to stay,” responded Odierno when Fox News asked if it was a mistake to pull out from Iraq.
Syrian Army, Hezbollah Blow up Militant Tunnels in Zabadani
The Syrian army and Hezbollah fighters blew up on Thursday two tunnels used by Takfiri militants in Zabadani, sources told al-Manar.
The two tunnels, connected to each other, link Sahl al-Zabadani with the town of Madaya which lies south of Zabadani and is 8-km-far from Lebanon’s eastern border.
Syrian army and Hezbollah in ZabadaniThe tunnels were also linked to a third one which was blown up by the allied forces few days earlier, the sources said.
The Takfiri militants were using these tunnels to transfer supplies, according to the sources.
Earlier on Wednesday, the allied forces killed scores of insurgents as they advanced toward the city of Zabadani.
Saudi school gets fined for painting "gay" rainbow sign
A school in Saudi Arabia has been fined and one of its administrators jailed after a rainbow was painted on it.
Enforcers of the country’s strict Sharia code announced the measure on Twitter, claiming the rainbow was a “symbol of homosexuality.”
The edict comes from the Twitter account of the Saudi Society Channel, a branch of Saudi Arabia’s Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice, a group seen as the Emirate’s ‘religious police’. Among other practices that it has banned are Valentine’s Day and and smoking for women.
The rainbow has since been removed from school and painted over in a much less ostentatious navy blue.
The Talee al-Noor International School in Riyadh was fined 100,000 Riyals (around 25,000 euros) and one of its administrators sent to prison awaiting an investigation.
Homosexuality is a criminal offence in Saudi Arabia and is punishable by flogging and prison.
PreOccupied Territory: Millions Of Radical Islamists Still Unaware They Are Not Following Islam (satire)
Raqqa, Islamic State (formerly Syria), July 22 – As the Islamic State establishes itself in parts of what used to be Iraq and Syria, and as tens of thousands of foreign fighters join their military and civic efforts to do so, countless numbers of those devout adherents remain completely unaware that, at least according to US President Barack Obama, despite often-literal fulfillment of the Quran and Hadith, they are not actually practicing Islam.
Unbeknownst to those radical Muslims, the American president and several other prominent Western figures have repeatedly insisted that the specific version of Islam that IS and its analogs such as Al Qaeda follow is not in fact Islam, but some undefined corruption of the faith. Presumably because they do not know that Obama and his colleagues have made such a pronouncement, the tens of millions of Islamic State adherents, allies, and professed sympathizers throughout the world still believe they practice what Mohammad the Prophet preached – and often practiced himself.
Experts differ on the root causes of those would-be Muslims’ ignorance of what constitutes real Islam. “Perhaps if they heard President Obama so articulately assert that true Islam does not promote what the Islamic State has been fomenting, they would change their tune,” offers Professor of Theology Ivory Tauer of Yale University. “It has taken liberal academics centuries to realize that the only authentic expression of any value system is one that dovetails with liberal academics’ axioms.”
Israeli experts: ‘We could’ve halted Jeep hack’
The terrifying car hacking scenario in the US now in headlines everywhere – showing two guys using a laptop and a mobile phone to seize control of a Jeep Cherokee’s engine, brakes, windshield wipers and radio — shocked drivers the world over.
But Israeli security experts have been warning about – and preparing solutions for – this probable situation for four years.
Israel’s well-known cybersecurity expertise extends to the connected-car arena as well. More than 150 blue-and-white companies are developing advanced security and vision systems for these vehicles.
TowerSec and Argus Cyber Security both claim their solutions to automotive cybersecurity threats can protect against every hacking attack.
“Hacking is a very real threat today and will be more so in the future as autonomous vehicles evolve and new technologies become part of the Internet of Things,” says TowerSec CEO Saar Dickman, yet the most recent case was not a typical “white hackers and researchers act.”
Jewish tech billionaire partners with Hawking in $100m. search for alien life
British cosmologist Stephen Hawking this week launched the biggest-ever search for intelligent extraterrestrial life in a $100-million, 10-year project to scan the heavens.
Russian Jewish Silicon Valley entrepreneur Yuri Milner, who is funding the Breakthrough Listen initiative, said it would be the most intensive scientific search ever undertaken for signs of alien civilization.
“In an infinite universe, there must be other occurrences of life,” Hawking said Monday at the launch event at the Royal Society science academy in London.
“Somewhere in the cosmos, perhaps, intelligent life may be watching. Either way, there is no bigger question. It’s time to commit to finding the answer, to search for life beyond Earth. It is important for us to know if we are alone in the dark.”
The project will use some of the biggest telescopes on Earth, searching far deeper into the universe than before for radio and laser signals.
‘Schindler’s List’ producer donates Oscar to Yad Vashem
A film producer who survived the Holocaust and won an Academy Award for “Schindler’s List” donated his Oscar statuette to the Yad Vashem Holocaust museum and memorial on Wednesday.
Branko Lustig, an 83-year-old Croatian-born Jewish Holocaust survivor, presented his award to the museum in a ceremony attended by Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović and Yad Vashem Chairman Avner Shalev.
“I’m very honored, I feel this is a good (resting place) for the Oscar,” Lustig told Reuters before the ceremony.
Lustig survived Auschwitz as a child and went on to work on the Academy Award-winning “Schindler’s List,” Steven Spielberg’s 1993 film telling the true story of German industrialist and Nazi Party member Oskar Schindler, who saved the lives of 1,200 Jews during the Holocaust. He later won a second Academy Awards for “Gladiator” in 2000.
The producer said that Yad Vashem would be the appropriate place for the statuette.
Israeli NBA player brings basketball stars to Holy Land
NBA player Omri Casspi will visit Israel this week, but this will be no ordinary homecoming for the Sacramento Kings forward, as he will be joined by seven of the American league's top players, who will visit Israel as part of a tour organized by a foundation Casspi has formed, which seeks to fight anti-Israel boycott, divestment and sanctions initiatives.
Casspi will be joined by fellow Sacramento Kings players DeMarcus Cousins, Rudy Gay and Caron Butler, as well as by Chandler Parsons of the Dallas Mavericks, Iman Shumpert of the Cleveland Cavaliers, Tyreke Evans of the New Orleans Pelicans and Alan Anderson of the Washington Wizards.
NBA Player Relations Director Roger Mason, formerly of the Sacramento Kings, who played with Israel's Hapoel Jerusalem during the 2005-2006 season, will join the players, as will Nick U'Ren, special assistant to the Golden State Warriors' head coach.
The National Basketball Association has welcomed the initiative, with NBA Commissioner Adam Silver giving it his personal blessing.
New British ambassador announces water research programs for UK, Israeli scientists
In one of his first initiatives as British ambassador to Israel, David Quarrey inaugurated on Wednesday three collaborative science programs, primarily focusing on water research.
Among the new plans is a £200,000 British Council Trilateral Water Scheme to promote joint water research among UK, Israeli, and other Middle Eastern scholars, according to the British Embassy. Another new opportunity is the UK-Israel Researcher Links Fellowships in water science, while the third is the UK-Israel Science and Innovation Lectureship Grants in water science and agriscience, among other fields.
Quarrey launched the programs just nine days after assuming his post, conducting visits to both Tel Aviv University and the Weizmann Institute the same day.
“I’m delighted that UK scientists will now be able to deepen their cooperation in water research with Israeli counterparts,” Quarrey said.
“The work of Israeli research institutions like Tel Aviv University and the Weizmann Institute, both of which I visited today, continues to improve the lives of those in water-poor countries. The UK, with its cutting-edge research facilities and vibrant scientific community, is determined to contribute to this effort with the cluster of new research initiatives we announced today.”
London mayor to visit Israel in November
London Mayor Boris Johnson will visit Israel and the Palestinian territories this November, according to the UK's new ambassador to Israel, David Quarrey.
According to the London Evening Standard, the trip is an attempt to "repair his leadership credentials" among Tories by dealing with a politically sensitive region. The trip, however, will also focus on strengthening business ties.
Israel and the UK's ties have been warming; last year, Israel led foreign IPOs on the London Stock Exchange.
Quarrey, who announced the trip at a welcoming ceremony in Tel Aviv Wednesday evening, said that increasing ties and high-tech collaboration were not only good for both countries, but represented the best argument against those who would boycott Israel.
Asked about the recent Iran nuclear deal, Quarrey said he was pleased that British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond promptly visited Israel after the signing of the deal, to show that friends could maintain strong ties while disagreeing.

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