Saturday, August 22, 2015

From Ian:

Israel’s leaders ‘furious’ over Barak tapes describing aborted plans to hit Iran
Israel’s leadership, from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on down, is reportedly furious with former defense minister Ehud Barak for having detailed on tape three occasions in 2010-2012 when Israel was ostensibly on the point of striking Iran’s nuclear facilities.
Israel’s Channel 2, which broadcast the bombshell recordings on Friday night, said Saturday that the “anger” at Barak was widespread in the Israeli leadership, and that numerous senior political and security officials were also privately intimating that Barak’s version of events was not entirely accurate. The Prime Minister’s Office did not issue an official response to the broadcast.
In the tapes, whose broadcast Barak fought unsuccessfully to block, he claims that he and Netanyahu wanted to attack Iran in 2010, but that then-chief of staff Gabi Ashkenazi indicated that there was no viable plan for such an operation; that they were thwarted in 2011 by the opposition of fellow ministers Moshe Ya’alon and Yuval Steinitz; and that a planned 2012 strike was aborted because it happened to coincide with a joint Israel-US military exercise and Israel did not want to drag the US into the fray.
In the aftermath of the broadcast of the tapes, Channel 2 said Saturday, various key Israeli figures had indicated that Ashkenazi did not rule out an operation as decisively as Barak suggested, and that a great deal of preparatory work had been done. Furthermore, the TV report Saturday said, Ashkenazi was by no means the only senior Israeli figure who was not decisively supportive of a strike at that time. Others included then-Mossad chief Meir Dagan, who later made public his opposition, and top ministers including Dan Meridor and Eli Yishai.
Khamenei urges Islamic unity against real enemies: US and Israel
Iran’s supreme leader claimed Saturday that Islamic nations were being manipulated into internal strife by the world’s “bullies” and urged Islamic unity in the face of what he identified as the Umma’s two greatest enemies: the US and Israel.
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said the US had long sought to incite “third-party” states against Iran but “such third parties are only deceived puppets,” the Islamic republic’s Fars news agency reported.
“The root cause of the problems returns to their real enemies, the US and Israel,” he said.
The bullying powers, as he called them, are conspiring “against the Quran and not Shiism and Iran, because they know that the Quran and Islam are the center of awakening nations.”
Iranians, he said, “have realized that their real stubborn enemy is the world arrogance and Zionism and that’s why they chant slogans against the US and Zionism.”
Iranian Official: We “Reject the Existence of Any Israeli on This Earth”
Hussein Sheikholeslam, a senior adviser to Iran’s Speaker of Parliament, told the Hamas-affiliated newspaper al-Resalah that Tehran “reject[s] the existence of any Israeli on this earth,” a position he says Iran relayed to the P5+1 powers during the nuclear negotiations, The Times of Israel reported Wednesday. According to Sheikholeslam, Iran “will do everything to renew” its support for Hamas, which Tehran lessened in retaliation to the Sunni group’s opposition to the regime of Bashar al-Assad after the outbreak of the Syrian civil war.
Sheikholeslam’s comments are the latest in a series of threats issued against Israel by Iran since the Islamic Republic signed a nuclear agreement with the P5+1 powers last month.
A video posted on a website linked to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), titled “Preparation of the complete destruction of Israel by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Islamic Revolution in Iran,” called for Israel’s “erasure from the annals of history,” according to another report in The Times of Israel on Wednesday. The clip depicts an invasion of Jerusalem by an Islamic army that includes Hamas and Hezbollah among its ranks



Israel to UN: Condemn Iran, Syria for rocket fire
Israel’s Ambassador to the UN Ron Prosor called Saturday morning for the United Nations to condemn Thursday’s rocket fire on Israel, and not simply make do with a general statement regarding both sides.
Prosor was speaking after UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Friday evening expressed “deep concern” over the attack and subsequent Israeli response, and called for both sides to “exercise maximum restraint.”
Israel launched air and artillery strikes into Syria on Friday morning in the wake of a rocket salvo on the Israeli side of the Golan Heights, including an aerial attack on a vehicle. Six people were killed in the air strike, Syrian state television said. There were no casualties in the rocket fire into Israel, which accused an Islamic Jihad cell of firing the rockets at Iran’s behest and said it had targeted the cell members traveling in the vehicle. Islamic Jihad denied the accusation and vowed revenge for Israel’s air assault.
“Israel holds Syria responsible for every attack that emanates from its territory, and knows that Iran is the ultimate producer of all terror incidents in the region,” said Prosor, according to Israel’s Maariv website. He appealed to the UN chief to consider the circumstances of Israel’s response, and not issue a blanket statement.
 Former State Dept Official: President Must Negotiate Better Nuke Deal, Secure Domestic Support
Ray Takeyh, a former State Department official and senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, called on President Barack Obama to negotiate a better nuclear deal with Iran which, unlike the current agreement, will be approved by a majority of Americans and their congressional lawmakers, in an op-ed published Wednesday in the Miami Herald.
Takeyh emphasized several shortcomings of the deal, particularly its lax inspections regime and failure to dismantle much of Iran’s nuclear infrastructure, and argued that if Iran develops an even more advanced nuclear program by the end of the deal, there would be “no inspection modality that could detect its dash to a bomb in a timely manner.” He further observed that an intricate sanctions regime, which was built over a decade, cannot simply be “snapped back,” and that claiming so is “delusional.”
Takeyh wrote that negotiating a better deal will not only improve the terms of the agreement, but also build the domestic political support that such a momentous deal should have.
US-Israel Relations Will ‘Certainly Improve’ With Any New President, Former State Dept Official Says
Relations between President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have hit such rock-bottom levels that it does not really matter who is elected in 2016, relations are bound to improve, wrote former State Department official Aaron David Miller in his Wall Street Journal blog on Friday.
Miller noted that relations would likely improve both in “tone and style, and also possibly substance,” although Obama has persistently touted the line that his administration has been better for Israeli security than any previous administration.
Having worked in the State Department for more than two decades, Miller noted that he had never seen as “poisonous” a relationship develop between the leaders from both countries, although there were certainly points of contention between previous administrations and Israeli governments, such as president George H.W. Bush and former Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Shamir (over housing loans withheld by the U.S.) and even Netanyahu during his first term in the 1990’s and president Bill Clinton.
“After nearly eight years of policy and personality differences between Mr. Obama and Mr. Netanyahu, there is little trust, little capacity to extend the benefit of the doubt, and little respect–in contrast to Mr. Clinton and [former Israeli prime minister] Yitzhak Rabin or George W. Bush and [former Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon–let alone personal admiration and affection],” wrote Miller.
ZOA Analysis: Strong Correlation Between Pro-Iran Deal Rabbis and J Street
After doing some number crunching on a letter signed by 340 rabbis that urges Congress to support the Iran nuclear deal, the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) has concluded that the “overwhelming majority” of those rabbis “come from groups that routinely take positions and engage in activities that are hostile towards Israel and inimical to American interests.”
According to a ZOA analysis, 187 of the 340 pro-Iran deal rabbis are also part of the Rabbinic Cabinet of the controversial left-wing Jewish lobby J Street. ZOA notes that J Street is funded by anti-Zionist billionaire George Soros and “has financial and other ties to the National Iranian American Council (NIAC), an apparent arm of the Iranian regime.”
ZOA adds that 13 of the rabbis who signed the letter “are significant donors to the falsehood-purveying ‘Rabbis for Human Rights (RHR).’”
“RHR participates in anti-Israel demonstrations and, along with other anti-Israel groups, launched a website with false testimonies accusing Israel of human rights violations in Gaza,” ZOA states. “ZOA members witnessed an RHR rabbi invent and widely publish false stories to demonize pro-Israel young people at the Israel Day Parade concert in New York several years ago.”
The rabbinical letter was organized by the self-described “liberal” Jewish group Ameinu.
 Nuclear Inspections Farce Puts Democrats to the Test
It bears repeating that the reason why Parchin and the PMDs are important is that without knowing how much progress the Iranians have made on this research, all talk about the “breakout” period during which it could race to a bomb before the West could stop them is uninformed speculation.
Yet when State Department spokesman John Kirby was asked about this shocking revelation on Wednesday, he didn’t so much as flinch, merely saying that the administration had “full confidence in the IAEA” and that they were “very comfortable” with this set up. But, like the 24-day warning period that we are supposed to think is no big deal, letting the Iranians inspect Parchin on their own, is merely evidence for something that was already obvious: the administration had no real interest in inspections or any effort to hold Iran accountable. As is increasingly obvious, the whole point of the deal is to create a détente with Iran, not to stop their nuclear activities. At this point to deny the flimsy nature of this pact is to engage in fantasy, not serious debate.
That leads us to ask the key question about this revelation. Will this impact the decisions of the approximately 15 Democratic Senators or the many Democrats in the House who have yet to announce whether they will vote for the deal?
All indications from those doing the head count are that it won’t. President Obama has exerted ferocious pressure on Democrats to support the deal out of partisan loyalty. Any members who do cross the White House also know at this point that if they do vote against the deal they will be subjected to vicious attacks from the left as well as the administration. Being branded as a warmonger or a traitor to Obama is no easy thing for a Democrat to contemplate.
Yet how can any member of Congress who is serious about stopping Iran from getting a bomb accept a nuclear agreement under these circumstances?
America Rising Spotlights Democratic Senate Candidates Avoiding Iran Deal
The America Rising PAC is putting heat on eight official and likely Democratic candidates for U.S. Senate who are dragging their feet on voicing their positions on the Iran nuclear deal.
The political action committee has released a graphic pointing to Democratic senatorial candidates in multiple states who have notably avoided publicly taking a position on the agreement.
“While most Americans are expressing deep concerns over the Iran deal, Democrats seeking to represent them continue to duck this vital issue, providing lame and disingenuous excuses instead of leadership,” said America Rising PAC press secretary Amelia Chassé. “Unfortunately for these Democrats, voters are making it increasingly clear that they don’t like two things: politicians dodging tough choices and the President’s controversial deal.”
Currently, a significant and growing majority of Americans say they want Congress to reject the nuclear agreement with Iran.
The candidates in question are Sen. Michael Bennet (Colo.), Florida Reps. Patrick Murphy and Alan Grayson, New Hampshire Gov. Maggie Hassan, Nevada Rep. Tammy Duckworth (Ill.), Katie McGinty in Pennsylvania, Catherine Cortez Masto in Nevada and Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick in Arizona.
Maryland’s Democratic US Senators Remain Undecided on Iran Deal
With Congress in the midst of a 60-day period to review the Obama administration-brokered Iran nuclear deal, two Democratic U.S. senators from Maryland—Sens. Ben Cardin and Barbara Mikulski—remain undecided about the agreement.
While it is expected that virtually all 54 Republicans in the Senate will vote against the Iran deal, 67 anti-deal votes are needed to override President Barack Obama’s veto of a possible Congressional rejection of the pact. The only two Senate Democrats who have publicly come out against the agreement so far are Sens. Chuck Schumer (N.Y.) and Robert Menendez (N.J.).
Asked where Cardin stands on the nuclear deal, and whether or not his decision will be affected by the recent report that the U.N.’s nuclear watchdog made a side agreement with Iran that allows the Islamic Republic to carry out its own inspections at the Parchin nuclear site, Cardin spokesperson Sue Walitsky said the senator “continues to review all aspects of the agreement to determine what decision he’ll make.”
NY Assemblyman Rides Iran Parody Bus to Protest Deal
Assemblyman Dov Hikind (D - Brooklyn) promoted an anti-Iran parody ad campaign Friday, by riding a bus with #AyatollahThanksAmerica ads throughout New York.
Hikind made stops at the offices of Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and Representative Jerrold Nadler, both of whom recently declared support for the deal between the West and Iran, as part of satire tour “thanking” members of Congress and the American people.
The bus featured posters of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khomenei with messages thanking members of Congress for their support of the Iran deal with the tagline “brought to you by #FriendsoftheAyatollah.”
Hikind with 'Ayatollah Thanks America' bus Office of Dov Hikind
“Today we stood outside of Gillibrand’s and Nadler’s offices to make our voices heard and urge them to reconsider their support of the Iran deal," Hikind said in a statement. "Our community is massively disappointed in their decision."

Iran unveils new missile with 500 km range, says seeks peace through strength
Iran on Saturday unveiled a new surface-to-surface missile it said could strike targets with pin-point accuracy within a range of 500 km (310 miles) and it said military might was a precondition for peace and effective diplomacy.
The defense ministry's unveiling of the solid-fuel missile, named Fateh 313, came little more than a month after Iran and world powers reached a deal that requires Tehran to abide by new limits on its nuclear program in return for Western governments easing economic sanctions.
According to that deal, any transfer to Iran of ballistic missile technology during the next eight years will be subject to the approval of the United Nations Security Council, and the United States has promised to veto any such requests. An arms embargo on conventional weapons also stays, preventing their import and export for five years.
But Iran has said it will not follow parts of the nuclear deal that restricts its military capabilities, a stance reaffirmed by President Hassan Rouhani on Saturday.
"We will buy, sell and develop any weapons we need and we will not ask for permission or abide by any resolution for that," he said in a speech at the unveiling ceremony broadcast live on state television.
"We can negotiate with other countries only when we are powerful. If a country does not have power and independence, it cannot seek real peace," he said.
Israel concerned new Iran missile may reach Hezbollah
Israeli security officials expressed concern Saturday that a new long-range missile unveiled by Iran could be provided to Hezbollah in Lebanon, Israel Radio reported.
Sources told the radio station that the missile would be a powerful asset for the terror organization if placed near the border, and could be used to hit any point in Israel.
Iran said the new Fateh-313 surface-to-surface ballistic missile has a range of 500-kilometers (310 miles).
MSNBC Attacks AP Reporter for Damaging Story About Iran Side Deals
MSNBC host Chris Hayes and one of his guests Thursday night attacked the credibility of an Associated Press reporter who revealed damaging information about the secret deals negotiated between Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) as part of the Iran nuclear agreement.
Hayes and his guest, Iran deal advocate Dr. Jeffrey Lewis, dismissed the bombshell story as a “wonderful destructive leak” that was accepted uncritically by AP reporter George Jahn, although the Associated Press has released evidence that corroborates Jahn’s reporting.
Lewis stated that Jahn, who is the AP’s Austrian bureau chief, was not a “real reporter” because he did not find out how the IAEA planned to authenticate Iran’s evidence, information that the IAEA typically keeps secret. On Wednesday, Lewis told Vox’s Max Fisher that Jahn was a “friendly reporter” to opponents of the nuclear deal, who he insinuated were leaking misleading documents to the press.
Jahn reported Wednesday that the IAEA will allow Iran to take its own samples from Parchin, a military site that the nuclear watchdog believes was once used to test components for a nuclear weapon.
This highly-unusual arrangement provides Iran with an opportunity to hide the extent of its past nuclear weapons activities. The Islamic republic has reason to cover up such activities—it officially denies any attempt to build nuclear weapons.
Iran Considering Military Strike Against Iran following Suspicious Soil Sample (satire)
Iran declared Friday that it has not ruled out military action against Iran, after Iranian inspectors reported that a soil sample from the Parchin military base contained traces of radioactive material.
“After conducting a thorough inspection of the Parchin facility, we have found substantial evidence to suggest we might be illegally enriching uranium,” said Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. “If our concerns are not adequately addressed, we will not hesitate to take military action against ourselves.”
The Iranian inspectors tasked by the IAEA, the International Atomic Energy Agency, with collecting their own samples said the radioactive traces suggest Iran may have been using the military facility, which is off limits for international inspectors, to enrich uranium in violation of the country’s nuclear agreement with the world powers.
While many critics of the nuclear deal questioned whether the country could be trusted to monitor its own facilities, Iran’s vigilance in holding itself accountable has proven these concerns were unfounded. Iran was so determined to confront itself, in fact, that late Friday Ayatollah Ali Khamenei led protestors in a “Death to Iran” chant.
World Vision needs to quit anti-Israel battlefield
World Vision, the multi-billion dollar Christian charity, has enlisted in the propaganda war against the Jewish state.
The organization, which is charged with improving the welfare of children throughout the world, does this by highlighting the suffering endured by Palestinian children living in the Gaza Strip, pointing the finger of blame at Israel, and saying almost nothing at all about the role Palestinian elites play in causing this suffering.
Rather than scold Hamas for running summer camps where youths are taught to hate Jews, and for using child labor to construct tunnels into Israel, the organization targets nearly all of its criticism at the Jewish state.
As a result , World Vision supporters throughout the world are exposed to a propagandistic narrative that promotes the interests of leaders who seek Israel’s destruction and oppress and steal from the people the charity is trying to help.
World Vision’s behavior is, simply put, scandalous. It needs to change.
Two obvious places to look for proof of World Vision’s irresponsibility is the Facebook page and Twitter feed for the organization’s staffers working in Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Virtually every article highlighted by World Vision staffers on Facebook and Twitter is a condemnation of Israel; few, if any, highlight Hamas’ extremism in the Gaza Strip and the corruption of the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank.
The implications are clear: If something bad is happening to the Palestinians, it is invariably Israel’s fault; nothing is ever the fault of Palestinian leaders.
Is Spain Fueling the BDS War Against Israel?
Spain's center-right government under Mariano Rajoy continues to pursue policies that are antagonistic towards Israel — policies that are virtually unchanged from the government of former Socialist Prime Minister of José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero — policies that largely coincide with the objectives of the BDS movement.
Although Spain's Foreign Minister has repeatedly said that the government does not support a boycott against Israel, under his watch the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID), the Foreign Ministry's primary aid-giving agency, has continued to subsidize organizations that work to delegitimize Israel.
Between 2009 and 2011, the Zapatero government funneled more than €15 million of Spanish taxpayer funds to Palestinian and Spanish non-governmental organizations that are among the leaders in campaigns aimed at delegitimizing Israel via BDS, lawfare and other forms of demonization, according to a comprehensive analysis published by the Jerusalem-based NGO Monitor.
The Rajoy government continues to fund NGOs that are involved in anti-Israel activities.
According to the Official Gazette of the Spanish State, for example, NOVA-Centre per la Innovació Social, a Barcelona-based NGO with a history of anti-Israel activism, is slated to receive more than €200,000 in 2015... AECID awarded €200,000 in 2014 to the Catalan Association for Peace, a group that has co-organized a three-year project to "raise awareness" for the BDS movement against Israel.
"The EU calls our ambassadors in because of the construction of a few houses? When did the EU call in the Palestinian ambassadors about incitement that calls for Israel's destruction?... They don't tell the Palestinians that they have to make their peace with a nation-state for the Jewish people. They just give the Palestinians a nation-state." — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
After apology from Spanish festival, Matisyahu confirms he will perform
After being re-invited, American Jewish reggae star Matisyahu confirmed he will perform at a Spanish music festival.
On Friday, two days after the Rototom SunSplash Festival apologized for canceling his performance in the face of pressure from the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, Matisyahu announced on Facebook that he will perform at the festival on Saturday.
In his Facebook post, the singer wrote, “Today music wins. Freedom of expression wins.” Describing his feeling that he “was being used as a pawn for political convenience,” Matisyahu explained that, “It is my deep conviction however that acceptance and the ability for rebirth allow us to move forward.” He added that the “incredible outpouring of worldwide support from fans and organizations who rose up as one to protest the intrusion of politics into a border-less celebration of music has been humbling.”
Matisyahu is not Israeli, but was apparently singled out by BDS activists because he was the only Jewish performer on the festival’s roster. Last week, after he ignored requests that he issue a statement declaring his support for Palestinian statehood, the festival cancelled his act.
That sparked condemnation from Jewish organizations, the government of Spain and Matisyahu himself, who wrote on his Facebook page Monday that the festival organizers’ behavior had been “appalling and offensive.”
In a lengthy apology posted on Facebook Wednesday, festival organizers wrote, “Rototom Sunsplash rejects anti-Semitism and any form of discrimination towards the Jewish community.“
Boycott Movement: We only ban Zionist and pro-Israel Jews (i.e. most Jews)
The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement suffered one of its worst public relations debacles when it pressured the Spanish Rototom SunSplash festival to ban American Jewish musician Matisyahu.
At so many levels, the incident exposed BDS for what it is – anti-freedom, anti-Jewish, anti-just about everything we hold dear. Left twisting in the wind are leading American BDS activists like Ali Abunimah, Max Blumenthal and Joe Catron who supported the ban, even as BDS leader Omar Barghouti ran for political cover and BDS author Ben Norton condemned the ban.
BDS defenders of the Matisyahu ban claim the ban was justified because Matisyahu is Zionist and pro-Israel.
If being Zionist and pro-Israel were justification for a ban, then BDS would be justified in banning the vast majority of Jews from public appearances. So tell me again how BDS is not anti-Semitic?
US Presents Double Standards for Illegal Construction
[WH Spox] Kirby then delineated a double standard for construction within Israel's borders.
"We are also very troubled by the recent escalation of demolitions and evictions, which include the destruction of dozens of structures and the displacement of over 150 people in the West Bank [Judea and Samaria - ed.] and East [Arab neighborhoods of - ed.] Jerusalem this month alone," he said.
"Such demolitions and evictions are harmful and provocative and indicative of a damaging trend, particularly given settlement-related activity and continued construction in the West Bank and East Jerusalem."
"We continue to urge all parties to refrain from problematic actions that undercut the possibility of peace and demonstrate with actions their commitment to a two state solution," he added.
Israel allegedly demolished some 40 structures earlier this week, in four Bedouin settlements near Maale Adumim and the settlement of Fasa'il in the Jordan Valley. All were demolished for being built without the proper permits, according to JTA - the same legal justification behind Israel's demolitions of Israeli Jewish homes in Judea-Samaria and elsewhere.
Whereas the United Nations (UN) and other organizations harshly condemned this wave of demolitions, which Palestinian rights groups claimed left 120 people homeless, those same organizations regularly laud Israel demolishing "settler" homes.
Abbas quits PLO leadership ahead of internal election
Decision will not affect his standing as PA president; resignation to take effect only if Palestinian National Council — which hasn’t convened in 20 years — votes on it
According to Channel 2, 11 of the 18 members of the executive committee, including Abbas himself, voted in favor of the resignation, which will subsequently warrant new elections. Abbas is believed to be seeking these elections in order to allow for more of his supporters to become members of the PLO’s Executive Committee, Channel 2 reported.
“The resignation of the president of the executive committee Mahmoud Abbas and more than half of its members has created a legal vacuum, and therefore the Palestine National Council has been asked to meet in one month to elect a new executive committee,” Yussef told AFP.
Yussef added, however, that the resignations will take effect only when the PNC meets.
The PNC, or Palestinian parliament, has 740 members who live in the Palestinian territories and in the diaspora. It has not met in nearly 20 years.
Bomb shelter blazes trigger arson fears
Three separate fires started in three bomb shelters in central Israel on Friday, raising suspicions of arson, Channel 10 reported.
There were no injuries reported in any of the fires, all of which were started in the shelters of residential buildings. All three were brought under control by fire fighters, the NRG website said.
Police believe that there is a connection between the blazes, and that they were started deliberately. Two of the fires occurred on the same street, and the third nearby.
Arson was also suspected Friday in three fires that broke out in the West Bank, as settlers and Palestinians clashed near the settlement of Yitzhar, south of Nablus. Fires started at the Hawara junction, the Yitzhar junction and near the road leading to Yitzhar itself.
Hamas: We won’t ignore the abduction of ‘our sons’
The fighters from the Islamist group, which rules the Gaza Strip, were seized from a bus by gunmen as they traveled to Cairo airport from the Rafah Border Crossing between Gaza and Sinai. Egypt on Monday opened the border for four days for humanitarian purposes, allowing the passage of thousands of Palestinians between Gaza and Egypt. The crossing has since been closed.
The Times of Israel has learned that the four men were senior Hamas naval commandos who were heading overseas — apparently to Iran — for training. In Gaza, it is believed that the four were intercepted by Egyptian intelligence operatives, raising tensions between Hamas and Egypt.
“We will not overlook what happened to our sons in the Sinai,” the Hamas military wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, said at a military procession in Rafah on Friday, Israeli website Ynet reported.
Egypt Closes the Rafah Crossing After Four Days
Egyptian authorities on Friday closed the Rafah crossing with Gaza, after it had been open for four days to allow emergency cases through.
Iyam al-Bazem, spokesperson for the Gazan Ministry of Interior, told the Ma’an news agency that 2,579 humanitarian cases left Gaza while 3,178 people entered the coastal territory.
Egypt prevented 146 Palestinians from leaving Gaza, he added.
Some 17,000 Palestinians need to urgently leave the territory, either for medical treatment or to continue their studies abroad, al-Bazem told Ma’an.
Egypt did not indicate when the crossing would next be opened.
Egyptian authorities have kept the crossing virtually sealed since a terrorist attack in the Sinai Peninsula in October 2014, though they have temporarily reopened the crossing several times.
Sources in Egypt have revealed that Hamas terrorists had provided the weapons for the lethal attacks in October, which killed 30 soldiers, through one of its smuggling tunnels under the border to Sinai. Hamas denies the allegations.
BDS Profs vs. the Muslim Leadership Institute
Who would object to a program that sends American Muslims to Israel to meet with Jewish, Muslim, and Christian residents in order “to explore how Jews understand Judaism, Israel, and Jewish peoplehood”? Answer: Middle East studies professors intent on scuttling coexistence in favor of delegitimizing Israel through the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement.
Participants in the Muslim Leadership Institute (MLI), a program of the Shalom Hartman Institute (SHI) founded and directed by Duke University chaplain Imam Abdullah Antepli and author Yossi Klein Halevi, partake in two twelve-day seminars at the SHI campus in Jerusalem. The program includes visits to religious and historic sites, northern Israeli Arab communities, and the West Bank.
Since its inception in 2013, MLI has met with fierce resistance from the BDS movement, including Middle East studies professors who coauthored at least two petitions this year aimed at shutting it down.
The first petition calls “for an immediate halt” to the program, calls its financiers “Islamophobia sources,” and declares, “We reject the upcoming third cohort of MLI, refuse to meet with its participants, or facilitate their visit to meet with any Palestinian.” For inspiration, it cites the Palestinian BDS National Committee, which insisted on a boycott of MLI in January, 2014. Among its authors are such anti-Israel luminaries as San Francisco State University’s Rabab Abdulhadi; University of California, Berkeley’s Hatem Bazian and Kamal Abu-Shamsieh; Illinois State University’s Issam Nassar; and Steven Salaita, the would-be University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign professor who now teaches at the American University of Beirut.
The second petition repeats the arrogant demand for an “immediate halt” to MLI, maintaining that the program is “part of the Hasbara Israeli propaganda operation,” “a violation of BDS,” “an Israeli attempt to ‘normalize’ relations,” and, worst of all, “deliberately designed . . . to make Muslims more sympathetic to Zionism, and to present an anti-BDS perspective.” It culminates in the inane statement, “To engage the occupier without sitting down in solidarity with the occupied first is politically delusional, morally misguided, and ethically callous.” Coauthors include Bazian, Abu-Shamsieh, Duke University’s Omid Safi, and Yale University’s Zareena Grewal.
Richard Millett: It’s Good Jews Day on the Guardian’s letters page.
Today’s Guardian has published seven letters about Jeremy Corbyn’s connections to Holocaust deniers and terrorists most of which are signed by Jews and which jump to Corbyn’s defence.
Six of the seven letters are from the usual suspects who seem to express their Judaism through their contempt for Israel. The Independent’s Yasmin Alibhai-Brown describes these as “conscientious and ethical British Jews”.
The Samuels “write as members of a Jewish family” and Ruth Tenne as someone “whose grandparents perished in the Holocaust”.
That they write “as Jews” is of course totally irrelevant. It adds nothing to what they are trying to explain and only emphasises the overall weakness of the point they are trying to make.
Incidentally, being Jewish is not a defence to being an antisemite. Antisemitism is a state of mind; it isn’t dependent on not being Jewish.
It’s natural that these Jewish signatories would jump to Corbyn’s defence seeing that Corbyn’s end game is the destruction of the Jewish state either via the so-called “Palestinian right of return” or by imposing an arms ban on Israel so leaving Israel defenceless against a Hamas, Hezbollah or ISIS attack.
But, sadly, the Guardian and other ignorant commentators are happy to allow them to inflate their Jewishness as THE all important factor.
Meanwhile, four of those letters jump to Corbyn’s defence against accusations of “antisemitism”, accusations which have never actually been made against Corbyn. Witness the letters’ signatories inability to cite even one specific example of such an accusation.
Valid questions about Corbyn’s support for anti-Jewish terror groups Hamas and Hezbollah, for self-confessed Holocaust denier Paul Eisen and his Deir Yassin Remembered group and for alleged blood-libeler Raed Salah have been raised though.
UK artist posts quenelle, questions gas chambers to spite ‘Zionists’
British police have received a criminal complaint for incitement against a musician who performed the quasi-Nazi quenelle salute to spite “Zionists,” and suggested that the Nazi gas chambers during the Holocaust did not really exist.
The Campaign Against Antisemitism group reported Wednesday that an unnamed party filed a complaint this week against Alison Chabloz, a performer at the Edinburgh Festival — one of the Scottish capital’s main cultural events — after she posted to Twitter a photo of herself performing the quenelle.
She also published on her blog an essay by Robert Faurisson disputing the use of gas chambers by the Nazis and another paper entitled “Did six million really die?”
As blogs and local publications reported on the actions of Chabloz — a singer-songwriter who has lived in Egypt, among other countries — she published another blog post, explaining that her gesture was a “massive up yours” as a reaction to being “hounded online by a small group of hardline Zionists.”
Chabloz has been criticized in recent months for suggesting on Twitter that “it would appear that Anne Frank’s diary was mostly fabricated,” and that British organizations teaching about the Holocaust were “indoctrinating children.”
In her defense, Chabloz wrote that “nobody denies that the Jews and other groups suffered horrendous atrocities,” but added that, “if people dug a little deeper into the issue they may discover some interesting facts regards the presumed existence of homicidal Nazi gas chambers.”
Head of British Non-Profit Engages in Propaganda War Against Israel
This laudable work is marred by the anti-Zionist activism of its CEO, Jeremy Moodey. Moodey is a propagandist who makes no effort to disguise his contempt for Israel.
His contempt for Jewish sovereignty was revealed in 2012, when he came to the defense of Rev. Dr. Stephen Sizer who had come under intense criticism from the Board of Deputies of British Jews for ugly attacks on Israel and its supporters during his visits to Iran. (In 2014, Sizer promised his bishop to stop commenting publicly on the Arab-Israeli conflict.)
During the controversy Moodey described Zionism, or the push for Jewish sovereignty and self-determination, as an “incoherent and racist theology.” (Moodey made this statement in a response to a blog entry posted at the Rosh Pina Project, an organization that had been paying close attention to the controversy surrounding Rev. Sizer's anti-Zionism.)
Moodey's ugly description of Zionism is just the tip of the iceberg. His regular commentaries in the UK-based website, Christian Today and his entries on the blog at Embrace the Middle East are filled with anti-Israel polemics. In Moodey's distorted narrative, Hamas is not really dedicated to the destruction of the Jewish state and that Israel is singularly responsible for Palestinians suffering.
In sum, Moodey's writings about the Middle East promote an obsession with Israel's efforts to defend itself while downplaying the violence and hostility of its adversaries, most notably Hamas.
One of the most egregious examples of Moodey's ongoing efforts to demonize Israel came in November 2012 when he wrote a piece for Christian Today describing Omar Misharawi, an 18-month old Palestinian baby, as having “been murdered” by an Israeli air strike.
As it turns out, Misharawi was probably killed by a Hamas rocket (directed at Israeli civilians) that fell short during the 2012 fighting. It took three years, but eventually, Moodey retracted his defamatory accusation. Interestingly enough, in his own “clarificatory update” in which he retracted the accusation, Moodey admitted that Israel had been targeting a “militant” living in the same building as Misharawi, undercutting his original assertion that the boy was “murdered.”
CTV: "We regret the error"
On August 17, CTV issues an on-air clarification for their previous segment when Brad Giffen inaccurately claimed that an Israeli officer had stabbed a Palestinian to death, when in truth, it was the Palestinian who had stabbed the Israeli!


Ford seeks connected-car tech in Jerusalem
As the Ford Motor Company rolls out Sync 3 dashboard touchscreens on some of its 2016 Escape and Fiesta models, the automaker is scanning the Israeli horizon for cutting-edge technology to put in its future connected cars.
Scott Lyons of Connected Car Services at Ford in Europe came to Jerusalem’s Siftech incubator on August 16 to learn how local startups, developers and designers can get in the car with Ford.
Lyons demonstrated Ford’s new connected car device and announced that the company will sponsor AppLink Challenge, an overnight hackathon for apps to use in the car, October 11-12 in Tel Aviv.
Ford made its connection with Israel through Axis Innovation, a boutique corporate advisory firm in Tel Aviv that exposes technology startups to investors from some 40 countries, via focused events like the one in Jerusalem. Among the companies that came to meet Lyons at Siftech were i4drive, Inpris and VoGi.
Jerusalem also is the home of Mobileye, whose collision-avoidance software is built into approximately 3.3 million vehicles worldwide from manufacturers including Tesla, Audi, Volvo, Nissan, BMW and General Motors (GM). Mobileye reportedly is collaborating with Tesla on its driverless vehicle to be unveiled next year.
Brain-tech start-up ElMindA makes worldwide ‘most innovative’ list
While most brain monitoring systems require the invasive insertion of a sensor inside the head, ElMindA’s BNA takes its measurements using a sensor-laden futuristic looking “helmet” that contains dozens of electrodes to measure activity through the skull. The sensors are able to measure the electronic activity of the brain at different points, with each sensor recording the activity associated with a specific brain function – thought, memory, activity, etc.
The data is analyzed by specially developed algorithms based on patented signal processing and pattern recognition techniques that can connect between signals, revealing three-dimensional images of Brain Network Activation patterns (BNAs) which represent high resolution functional neural pathways. The data can aid doctors in the profiling of brain function and changes in functionality, and can assist follow-up of changes in disease progression and/or response to therapeutic interventions.
The system can thus detect the early stages of degenerative brain diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, and assist physicians in coming up with more effective treatment plans for brain disorders, like ADHD/ADD.
Domo arigato, Teva Naot! Japanese go crazy for Israeli sandal and shoe brand
Israeli shoe and sandal manufacturing giant Teva Naot is expanding its operations in the Japanese market.
The company announced recently that it will be opening its fourth retail branch in Tokyo. Teva Naot said it will be investing $300,000 in the new store.
The Israeli retailer now has three stores in the Japanese capital and one in the city of Nara, which is located in the Kansai region of Japan.
All of the stores are designed in boutique fashion and the shoes are manufactured by hand using quality material.
In 2015, Teva Naot sold in excess of NIS 14 million in Japan. Its projections for 2016 indicate that the company is aiming for a turnover of between NIS 18 - 20 million.
The Israeli chain produces specially designed shoes for the Japanese market, including 20 different models that were tailored according to local specifications and trends.
Self-defense, King David-style?
In a network of rooms underneath Jerusalem’s Teddy Stadium, a variety of martial arts classes thrive. Advertisements adorn the walls for everything from Korean Tae Kwan Do to the Brazilian dance-fighting “Capoeira.” Among the familiar disciplines, though, there is also a practice unique to Jerusalem, a Hebrew martial art called “Abir Qesheth,” which aspires to build young men into modern-day biblical warriors.
The head practitioner of Abir Qesheth is Yehoshua Sofer, an extraordinary character who claims to be the sole teacher of an ancient Hebrew martial art that was practiced by King David himself and secretly preserved for centuries by Yemenite-Jewish warriors.
Classes of around 10 students are held twice a week at 8 p.m. The classroom-gym is equipped with only a mat lining the floor and a few punching bags in the corner. As they trickle in from the stadium parking lot, the students prove to be mostly religious young males, many of them from the United States or children of US immigrants, some with scruffy beards and payot (Jewish side curls). As distinct from the white suits of martial arts, their uniform is black and decorated with Aramaic writing, with a black head wrap.
Practice begins with kicking and punching drills, beards and payot jumping with each kick and punch. The warm-up ends with the students rhythmically chanting in unison the Hebrew letters that spell Abir — “Aleph, Bet, Yud, Reish.”
Sofer strides into the gym, white head wrap confining his dreadlocks, white robe flowing, leather sandals peaking out from beneath.
‘Mr. Sinatra Adored Israel, and Israel Adored Him Back.’
2015 is the year of the Frank Sinatra Centennial, and though the great singer’s 100th birthday won’t be marked until December, it seems only proper to remember the Chairman of the Board’s deep and abiding commitment to Israel, which he saw as an integral part of the chain of liberal causes that he supported throughout his career. His activities on behalf of the Jewish state started with smuggling money to the Haganah under the British Mandate. Starting in the 1950s, his records and films were banned in Arab counties because of his sympathies with Zionism. He performed for IDF troops, and in the 1970s and ’80s he raised millions of dollars for student centers in Nazareth and Jerusalem.
Sinatra’s initial visit to Israel came in 1962, as part of his first world tour. At the height of his popularity, his managers wanted him to embark on a series of concerts that would take him as far as Japan. Sinatra also had personal reasons for touring: His falling out with the recently elected JFK and the rest of the Kennedy clan, due to a combination of Sinatra’s volatile temper and allegations concerning the singer’s links to organized crime, hurt him deeply. Sinatra turned toward reviving his own career and stepped up his charitable work, which his managers hoped would “temper the image of the flip playboy.”
In May and June of 1962 Sinatra gave 30 concerts in cities around the world. A percentage of the proceeds went to children’s charities. The tour began in Tokyo, where legions of fans turned out see and hear the singer. Because Israel appeared on Sinatra’s schedule, the Arab League rejected proposals that he perform in Cairo and Beirut.
Israel—and the response to European persecution that it embodied—was a deeply personal cause for Sinatra. He was born and brought up in an Italian-American enclave in Hoboken, New Jersey; his grandparents had emigrated to the United States from Italy in the 1890s, and the anti-immigrant bigotry they faced in turn-of-the-century New York still lingered in Frank’s childhood in the 1920s. He told his friend Pete Hamill that “growing up, I would hear the stories … things that happened because you were Italian … the stories were there. The warnings, the prejudice you heard about it at home, in the barbershop, on the corner. You never heard about in school. But it was there.”
These experiences of prejudice made the young Sinatra aware of other forms of bigotry, including anti-Semitism. And there were Jewish connections in his Hoboken childhood. Among his caretakers (Frank’s mother worked often outside of the home) was a Mrs. Golden. She spoke to him only in Yiddish, and in his adulthood Sinatra often joked that he “knew more Yiddish than Italian.” For decades Sinatra wore a Jewish star pendant that Mrs. Golden had given him.


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This blog may be a labor of love for me, but it takes a lot of effort, time and money. For over 12 years and over 25,000 articles I have been providing accurate, original news that would have remained unnoticed. I've written hundreds of scoops and sometimes my reporting ends up making a real difference. I appreciate any donations you can give to keep this blog going.

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