Wednesday, October 07, 2015

From Ian:

Aaron David Miller: What If Israel Had Given Up the Golan Heights? A Lesson for Syria’s Crisis
As Syria continues to be ravaged with no signs that the end of its crisis will produce a unified and stable (let alone pro-Western) Arab state, I wonder from time to time what would have happened had U.S. efforts succeeded in negotiating an Israeli-Syrian peace agreement in the 1990s.
For me, this is more than a remote thought experiment. For almost two decades, under Republican and Democratic administrations, I was part of a U.S. negotiating team that tried to reach such a deal. But had we succeeded, the results might have been catastrophic for Israel and for the U.S.
Interest in an Israeli-Syrian peace deal was bipartisan: U.S. presidents including Richard Nixon, Jimmy Carter, Gerald Ford, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush expressed varying degrees of interest. So did Israeli Prime Ministers Yitzhak Rabin, Ehud Barak, and Benjamin Netanyahu. Several U.S. presidents and Israeli leaders were fascinated with longtime Syrian President Hafez al-Assad and considered him a strategic thinker with whom one might do business. The collapse of the Soviet Union generated some interest from Mr. Assad in looking to the U.S. as a possible partner.
Rarely did we hear from Israeli leaders or focus ourselves on the prospect that an Israeli-Syrian accord might be at risk if instability in Syria led to a change in regime. This concern was prevalent generally as Israelis did peace deals with other Arab leaders. But fear of instability in the Arab world didn’t stop Menachem Begin from returning Sinai to Egypt; it didn’t stop Mr. Rabin from concluding a peace deal with Jordan’s King Hussein; nor did it prevent the Oslo accords with the Palestinians. And with Hafez Assad there was an assumption–warranted at the time–that his brutality in suppressing dissent and his track record–governing longer than all of Syria’s previous leaders combined since independence in 1946–would somehow guarantee stability. Rarely has a political judgment been more wrongheaded.
Will Obama Back a Palestinian State?
Indeed, there is little doubt about where Obama stands. Upon entering office, Obama made Israeli-Palestinian peace a priority but, by shredding previous White House commitments and insisting on a freeze on natural growth within disputed areas of Jerusalem, he gave Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas an excuse to walk away from talks. In effect, Obama acted more as Jerusalem’s municipal zoning commissioner than as leader of the free world. In the years since, he has become positively petulant if not unhinged toward Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. There was the “hot-mic” incident and the over-the-top reaction to Netanyahu’s speech before Congress. (Democratic complaints that Netanyahu lobbied Congress hold little water, as the British, French, and German ambassadors did as well; complaints that Netanyahu should not have criticized White House policy while in the United States are hypocritical as well, given that Obama criticized the sitting Australian government’s climate policy while in Australia). New reports suggest Obama brushed off Senate Minority leader Harry Reid’s request that he give members of his own party assurances that he would support Israel at the United Nations, and Secretary of State John Kerry and UN Ambassador Samantha Power’s decision to miss Netanyahu’s UN speech was simply rude (as was their underlings’ refusal to applaud). If Obama acted so unpresidential and petulant before, how might he act when he no longer has to worry about how unilateral action might impact other agendas back home? Perhaps it’s time to recognize the real possibility that Obama will support any UN Security Council binding initiative to recognize a Palestinian state and impose borders. Power, after all, had once recommended doing just that and then utilizing U.S. troops to make it a reality.
The question now is less whether Obama might try to create such a state as a fait accompli and allow others to pick up the pieces, and more what the U.S. Congress might do to dissuade Obama from doing so. Rhetoric alone will not do the trick. It is clear that Obama does not respect Congress, nor care about its input. Frankly, the Congress has neither given the White House nor the State Department reason to respect it.
Now is the time for Congress to lay out consequences for any unilateral action: Freezing confirmations, slashing funding, forbidding any aid and assistance to any Palestinian entity until it reaffirms Oslo, and constraining the State Department’s worst instincts to relieve Palestinians of accountability, as it did with the PLO Commitments Compliance Act in the late 1980s. Diplomats might whine, but their recent performance as well as the disdain Kerry’s crew has shown for Congress suggests that the U.S. would suffer little from constraining State Department functions. The alternative is not only the creation of a new state that refuses to recognize its neighbor, but one which would quickly become a satellite of Iran, a sponsor of terrorism, and guarantee a devastating war rather than usher in any peace.
Inside Story - Is Israel Maintaining the Status Quo at Al-Aqsa Mosque?
Middle East Forum director Gregg Roman appeared on Al-Jazeera English on October 6, alongside Ali Abunimah, co-founder of Electronic Intifada, and Ian Black, the Middle East editor of the Guardian newspaper, to discuss the recent tensions at the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.
Abunimah: With all respect, I don't agree with Ian Black that these things are irreconcilable. If it were a matter of access for religious communities, as he said, that has been managed for centuries. Muslims, Christians, and Jews had access to Jerusalem. What is causing the problem is Israel's violent and aggressive colonization of Jerusalem ...
moderator: Ok, Gregg, I want to bring you in here ...
Abunimah (interrupting): ... and more broadly the West Bank. And it's claim that it alone should control everything.
moderator: If we could just let Gregg respond to your fears. Are they realistic? Is the destruction of Al-Aqsa mosque imminent with the arrival of these Jewish settler groups, these Jewish activist groups, coming onto the compound ...
Abunimah (interrupting): I didn't say imminent
moderator: Ok, but is it a possibility, then?
Roman: It's not a possibility, Mr. Abunimah sounds more like a spokesman for the Palestinian Islamic Jihad when he uses these vile accusations of the "judaization" of Jerusalem. The fact ...
Inside Story - Is Israel maintaining the status quo at al-Aqsa Mosque?

Settlers: US may link UN Security Council vetoes on Israel to settlement building
The United States has warned Israel it could link new settlement building with future decisions to veto anti-Israeli resolutions at the UN Security Council, according to settler sources.
They spoke with The Jerusalem Post after a three-hour meeting between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, senior staff from the premier’s office and 18 settler leaders on Tuesday night. It was the first such meeting in over two years.
During the conversation, Netanyahu rejected their demand that he authorize more settlement building as a direct response to the wave of Palestinian terror attacks that has gripped the country in the last week.
Netanyahu blamed the decision on international pressure, including a specific US warning that new settlement building could weaken US support for Israel at the UN Security Council.
Israel is particularly worried about a seemingly dormant French resolution that would set a time limit for an Israeli withdrawal to the pre-1967 lines. The UN Security Council rejected a similar resolution in December 2014, but fears it could be resurrected.
US President Barack Obama in particular has been quite vocal about his opposition to settlement building. Netanyahu recalled for the settler leaders a quote from an initial meeting between the two leaders six years ago, in which Obama told him, “not even one brick.”
US denies ultimatum over West Bank settlements
The US State Department denied reports it issued Israel an ultimatum this week threatening not to veto a UN Security Council resolution declaring West Bank settlements illegal if Israel announced new settlement construction.
Deputy State Department Spokesman Mark Toner said that while his office was aware of such reports in the press, they were “false.”
“Our position on settlements is well known and hasn’t changed,” he said. “We convey it regularly to the Israeli Government. I know we don’t generally comment on private conversations, but I’d like to nip that story in the bud. We haven’t issued any kind of ultimatum on this.”
Toner emphasized that far from issuing any such ultimatum regarding a UN resolution, “there’s not even a resolution out there right now.”
Likud Minister Demands: Adopt Levy Report Now
Science and Technology Minister Ofir Akunis (Likud) on Wednesday visited the protest tent set up in front of the Prime Minister's Residence in Jerusalem last Friday, which is calling for decisive action against the recent wave of lethal terror attacks.
"I came here to strengthen the residents of Samaria and the government in its struggle against Palestinian terror," said Akunis.
"I said it many times in the past and I'll say it again now: construction in our country is a right - not a favor. The international attempt to connect this right with any diplomatic struggle is invalid."
Turning to a call for action, he said, "I believe we need to adopt the Edmund Levy Report and renew the construction, without any connection to the escalation of terror. In terms of a Palestinian state: my position, which negates the idea of its establishment, has not changed."
The 2012 Levy Report proved Israel's presence in the Biblical heartland of Judea and Samaria is completely legal according to international law. Despite being commissioned by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, the coalition government has yet to adopt the report.
UN Bribery Investigation Ropes in Former General Assembly Leader
U.S. authorities have charged six people in connection with an alleged bribery scheme at the UN, including a former head of the General Assembly. The bribes were for real estate developments in Macau, a peninsula in mainland China.
Authorities charged former UN General Assembly President John Ashe “with receiving about $1.2m in bribes from a Macau real estate mogul.” They claim he received these bribes “in exchange for advancing their interests in the U.N., including support for a U.N. conference center” in the peninsula.
In exchange for the payments, Ashe allegedly submitted a document to the U.N. Secretary General’s office showing a need for the conference center. He also shared a portion of the payments with senior officials of Antigua, including the country’s then-prime minister, the court complaint charged.
The suspects channeled and concealed the alleged bribes by using U.S.-based non-governmental organizations purportedly established to promote the U.N.’s official mission and development goals, the complaint charged.
Kenya accuses UN staff in Dadaab refugee camp of aiding terrorists
Kenya's interior minister has suggested United Nations staff working with refugees in the country's massive Dadaab camp are "facilitating terrorist activities".
Joseph Nkaissery, the secretary for internal security, hinted that some employees of the UN’s refugee agency, the UNHCR, might face arrest for either direct involvement in planning terror attacks or failing to act against those planning them.
“We are very concerned about the alleged involvement or complacency of some UNHCR personnel, who facilitate terrorist activities in this country,” he told a meeting of the UNHCR in Switzerland.
Dadaab is the largest refugee camp in the world, with an estimated 350,000 people living in makeshift shelters in northeastern Kenya 50 kilometres from the border of Somalia. (h/t Zaba)
David Cameron responds on Saudi Arabia deal

UNRWA Launches Its Own Version Of Farmville Called “Naqbaville” (satire)
The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Middle East (UNRWA) has created a hot new version of the popular Facebook game Farmville. The new game, “Naqbaville” was designed so that UNRWA’s teachers and other employees have something to do on Facebook when they are not posting over the top cartoons portraying Jews in not-so-nice ways. The Daily Freier caught up with UNRWA Spokesman Chris Gunness, who took us to the UNRWA Game Design Center to look at an exciting online Naqbaville tournament in progress.
“So you’ll see that Player One just lost a turn. It appears that a swarthy hooked-nosed man with sidelocks poisoned his well water at night. So Player One will have to sit out this round“. Mr. Gunness then turned his attention to Player Two: “Oh no! There’s a Jew hiding in his fields, but don’t worry, the trees and rocks call will call out to him: ‘Brother, there’s a Jew behind me, come and kill him!’ . Chris noted the efforts UNRWA made to ensure the game’s authenticity. “We actually pulled that last quote right out of the Hamas Charter; it took our legal team a day or two for permission, but we promised them free copies of the game and it was totally chill.”
While the game has just hit the streets, Mr. Gunness is confident of its success “Naqbaville is not yet really big, but pretty soon we expect it to really just explode…..The game I mean.”
Why Israel fought the inevitable Iran deal
Like Jabotinsky, Netanyahu believes in the power of words and ideas to influence people. Jabotinsky argued that the public voicing of concerns allows for the possibility of democracy’s moral compass kicking in. In every Englishman’s heart, he believed, there was a court of appeals. Similarly, Netanyahu believes that in the American heart there is a Senate floor, where one can filibuster and awaken the chamber to injustice.
From Mr. Smith to Tea-Party senators filibustering on the Senate floor, or even the loud-mouthed presidential candidates like Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump, the citizens of democratic societies, particularly Americans, appreciate people who stick to their guns in defiance of diplomatic or political protocol.
But even if the moral appeal fails, such protests create a record. If Israel is finally forced to act unilaterally, it cannot be accused of surprising its allies or dealing double-handedly.
And the final reason may have no basis in logic at all. Almost 4,000 years of history, Jewish culture and struggle have honed in us the most admirable of all human instincts: the refusal to abandon hope and the will to struggle against angels, empires and even God.
Perhaps all Jewish history is a lesson in the futility of struggling for an idea; perhaps it is the history of a stubborn, stiff-necked, stupid people resisting the most basic of rules. Nations decline; man must return to dust. Perhaps all nations will succumb to the risks posed by the nuclear proliferation they prefer to ignore. So be it. The good night must come. But we will not go quietly.
Supreme Court To Hear Case Against Iranian Central Bank On Terror Finance Charges
The United States Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case determining whether Iran’s central bank must pay $1.75 billion to victims of Iranian terror, Reuters reported Thursday.
The high court agreed to hear an appeal filed by Bank Markazi, the Iranian central bank. The bank is contesting a July 2014 ruling by the New York-based 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which said the money, currently held in a trust account in New York, should be handed over.
The money would be used to pay off a $2.65 billion judgment the victims’ families won in a U.S. court against Iran in 2007.

The lawsuit was filed by families of the victims of the 1983 Marine barracks bombing in Beirut, which was perpetrated by Hezbollah with material support provided by Iran.
U.S. enforcement of Iran arms embargo slipped during nuclear talks: sources
In the 2014-15 fiscal year, which ended on Sept. 30, U.S. law enforcement officials filed fresh charges just twice against those suspected of attempting to smuggle weapons and related technology from the United States to Iran, according to court records.
Eight such cases were brought in 2013-14. By comparison, around 10 to 12 such cases were brought in each of the preceding six years.
"There's been a precipitous drop-off," said one of the senior U.S. officials, who declined to be identified. "The facts are the facts – there's no other explanation."
The official added there was already a "reticence" in some agencies and U.S. federal prosecutors' offices to pursue the cases because they are so tough to build and time-consuming.
"And if we're going to normalize things with Iran soon, people are asking, 'Is it worth it?'"
Iranian panel says nuke deal flawed, should pass anyway
In their report the lawmakers hit out at the decision to allow inspections of military sites, which supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei had appeared to rule out in a speech just weeks before the deal was sealed.
“It is evident that, based on the JCPOA, access to Iranian military sites has become possible,” the panel said.
“The JCPOA has serious weaknesses in the security section. Unless there’s a revision regarding the inspection of military, defense and security sites, it will cause problems for the country.
“Implementation of this inspection regime could lead to unprecedented information gathering and exposes to danger the security infrastructure, human, scientific, military and security resources of Iran.”
The lawmakers, however, said the review made “the assumption that Iran’s negotiating team had enjoyed the supreme leader’s trust” during the talks that led to the deal and its passing would see sanctions lifted.
Khamenei has the last word on all policy matters in the Islamic republic as his authority trumps Rouhani and all politicians. His speeches often backed the negotiators but stopped short of endorsing the deal.
Khamenei bans Iran from negotiations with US
Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Wednesday banned any further negotiations between Iran and the United States, putting the breaks on moderates hoping to end Iran's isolation after reaching a nuclear deal with world powers in July.
Khamenei, the highest authority in the Islamic Republic, already said last month there would be no more talks with the United States after the nuclear deal, but has not previously declared an outright ban.
His statements directly contradict those of moderate Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, who says his government is ready to hold talks with the United States on how to resolve the conflict in Syria, where the two countries back opposing sides.
"Negotiations with the United States open gates to their economic, cultural, political and security influence. Even during the nuclear negotiations they tried to harm our national interests.," Khamenei was quoted as saying on his website.
"Our negotiators were vigilant but the Americans took advantage of a few chances," he said.
Iranian Commanders: U.S. Targets Are Within Missile Range, Conflict “Will Never End”
Two high-ranking members of the Iranian military made threats against the United States in public statements Sunday, with one saying that the conflict between the Islamic Republic and the U.S. “will never end.”
“The raison d’etre of our quarrel with [the United States] is a quarrel between the right and wrong in nature, hence, this conflict will never end,” Ali Fadavi, the admiral of the the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps Navy, told Fars News. Fadavi added that although U.S.-Iran hostilities would continue in perpetuity, it would not be the United States who will instigate future issues, since “Today the Islamic Republic enjoys such a power and capabilities that the enemy cannot even think of confronting Iran.” Fadavi has issued increasingly bellicose rhetoric against the United States over the past year, repeatedly threatening to attack U.S. Navy ships in the Persian Gulf. Sources in the Pentagon told the Washington Free Beacon last month that Iranian warships confront U.S. Navy vessels on a “nearly daily basis.”
Fadavi’s Air Force counterpart, Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh, said in a speech on Sunday that “all U.S. military bases in the Middle East are within the range of” its ballistic missiles.
Iran claims Russia has started delivery of S-300 missile defense system
Tehran announced Monday that Russia had begun delivering its advanced S-300 air defense system to Iran in accordance with an agreement struck between the two countries earlier this year.
A defense ministry press release quoted by Iran’s semi-official Fars News dismissed “recent media reports” skeptical of the military deal, and confirmed the delivery of the S-300 surface-to-air missile system was underway.
“The recent remarks on the S-300 missile defense system delivery lack correctness and credibility and the executive stages for the delivery of the system are now being taken based on the previously signed contract,” the report said.
There was no other confirmation that delivery had begun.
Iranian Regime Lobby in America Loses Big in Court
While the Iran nuclear deal may be on its way to being sealed, the celebrations have been dampered for the National Iranian American Council (NIAC), long accused of being a mouthpiece for Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei.
The Philadelphia-based NPO Middle East Forum's Legal Project announced on Tuesday that a legal case it had been leading against the unofficial Iranian lobby in the US ended with the US Federal Court of Appeals upholding a sanction penalty ruling against the NIAC to the tune of $183,480.09.
NIAC was targeted by the sanctions after it launched a defamation suit against Iranian-American blogger Hassan Daioleslam, over his investigations showing the NIAC's ties to the Iranian regime.
Legal Project swung into action, getting the suit thrown out after the US District Court found that NIAC president and founder Tritra Parsi's work was "not inconsistent with the idea that he was first and foremost an advocate for the (Iranian) regime."
Sanctions were likewise imposed against the lobby for its behavior, with the Appeals Court backing the ruling and saying the NIAC "engaged in a disturbing pattern of delay and intransigence," harming Daioleslam's ability to defend himself in court.
Iran Threatens Germany Boycott Over Salman Rushdie Invite
Iran has threatened to boycott next week's Frankfurt Book Fair because organizers have invited the author Salman Rushdie, who still has a fatwa against him, as a guest speaker, AFP reports.
Rushdie, a British citizen who now lives in the United States, was made subject of the fatwa - a religious edict that called for his murder - in 1988, when his fourth novel, The Satanic Verses, was published.
The Islamic republic's founder, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, issued the order after he and many others in the Muslim world said Rushdie had depicted the prophet Muhammad irreverently.
The fatwa forced the writer into hiding and led the British government to place Rushdie under police protection. In recent years he has attended many public events, though sometimes has cancelled appearances at short notice.
Iran's Deputy Culture Minister Abbas Salehi told the ISNA news agency on Monday that it was against Rushdie's presence at the Frankfurt fair, one of the world's largest book festivals.
NY Post Ed: Bon Jovi stands up for Israel — and against the boycott buffoons
Bon Jovi played Tel Aviv on Saturday — the latest band to flip off Roger Waters and the rest of the odious Boycott Divestment and Sanctions movement.
For years now, Pink Floyd co-founder Waters has hectored other artists to stop performing in Israel, on the theory that it leaves you standing “shoulder to shoulder” with the biggest bad guy in the Middle East.
Asked about Waters’ whines, Jon Bon Jovi said simply, “It doesn’t interest me. I told my managers to give one simple answer: that I’m coming to Israel, and I’m excited to come.”
The band got that excitement right back from 50,000 Israeli fans.
Bon Jovi’s far from the only one ignoring the boycott buffoons — Kanye West played the same arena a few days before.
But the Jersey band was the target of one of Waters’ trademark anti-Israel rants.
And Bon Jovi answered in style onstage, dedicating his new song “We Don’t Run” to the audience as their “fight song.”
Howard Stern lashes boycotter Roger Waters
American radio personality Howard Stern delivered a seven-minute rant Tuesday against former Pink Floyd bassist Roger Waters for advocating a boycott of the Jewish state.
“He’s got to shut up, Roger Waters,” Stern said on his popular radio show.
“What is with Roger Waters and the Jews? … Where do you want the Jews to go, Roger? You want them to just go back to the concentration camp? What is it you want, f**khead?” he asked.
Stern then mocked Waters for focusing on Israel. “It seems like you’re a little too consumed with it,” he suggested.
Howard Stern Slams Roger Waters Over Boycott Performing In Israel (NSFW) (also liable to be taken down by YT)

Why Roger Waters fails to sway prominent musicians into boycotting Israel
Intelligent artists also know that the following is true:
1) You can't hold an entire population responsible for the actions of its government. If that were the case, should we assume that all artists who perform in the US support every action of the US government, whether domestically or internationally? Of course not.
2) Israel is a pro-western style democracy that has a natural love for western culture - and in particular, music. Artists know this and love performing for their fans--not for any government.
3) Intelligent artists know the power that their music has. It has the power to open hearts and minds, build bridges amongs different cultures, and help to unite those from disparate backgrounds.
4) Artists know that conflicts are complex, and that resorting to name calling, brow beating, and frankly distortions and outright lies is not helpful towards finding resolutions.
Recent violent attacks against innocent Israeli's show the power that rhetoric has to incite.
While Waters (and we) laments the loss of innocent life, his functioning as a "bull horn" for spreading untruths and misinformation only fan the flame rather than seek to use the power of music and culture to unite.
Sanders campaign apologizes for ejecting pro-Palestinian group
The presidential campaign of Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders has apologized for ejecting members of a pro-Palestinian student group from a rally in Boston.
Members of the Boston Students for Justice in Palestine appeared Saturday night at a large Boston rally for Sanders at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center. They stood in the overflow area, where the speech was being broadcast on a large screen, holding a sign reading: “Will Ya #Feel The Bern 4 Palestine??!”
The group said they were approached by police and venue staff and told that Bernie Sanders’s campaign team asked them to take down the sign, according to an account posted on the group’s Facebook page. Police then told them they were trespassing and threatened them with arrest if they did not leave the venue.
“We understand we may have asked a tough question for Bernie’s campaign. However, what concerns us most about being unwelcome in this political space on the basis of a sign is not what is (sic) says about Bernie’s stance on Palestine, but rather, his team’s refusal to entertain diverse viewpoints,” the post said.
Morocco blocks Ikea store in row over Swedish support for breakaway republic
Moroccan authorities have blocked the opening of Ikea’s first store in the North African kingdom planned for Tuesday because it lacked a “conformity permit,” a statement from the Interior Ministry said on Monday.
A news website close to the Moroccan palace said earlier on Monday the store was blocked because of Sweden’s plans to recognise a republic sought by the Polisario Front in the Western Sahara.
The government did not elaborate on the store’s permit problems. Ikea’s Moroccan subsidiary told local media that the opening of the 26,000-square-metre (270,000-sq-ft) ) store was cancelled. (h/t Yenta Press)
In Rochester (NY), pro-Israel voices are stifled while pro-Palestinian activists thrive
The misnamed “Jewish Voice for Peace” (JVP) has launched a national campaign along with other anti-Israel groups to claim that “pro-Palestinian” speech is stifled around the country. In fact, The accusation of speech stifling is a passive-aggressive move to preclude legitimate criticism.
As we demonstrated, what JVP and other such groups really want is Freedom from Criticism.
Two events in Ithaca and Rochester, New York, are being used by JVP to claim a “wave of censorship and bullying is sweeping upstate New York.”
As we demonstrate below, JVP has seriously misstated what happened, and those events show the contrary to what JVP is claiming.
JVP’s Anti-Israel Event to Third Graders in Ithaca
One of, it not the first, actions JVP took in furtherance of the “stifling” campaign is unfolding in upstate New York.
In ‘Jewish Voice for Peace’ defends anti-Israel Third Grade event, we explained that the local Ithaca JVP branch, run by anti-Zionist (and now Code Pink) activist Ariel Gold, is defending bringing the highly controversial Bassem Tamimi to a third grade class as part of a one-sided presentation demonizing Israel.
PreOccupiedTerritory: Amnesty International To Run Firebomb-Making Seminars Across US (satire)
Building on its engagement with Palestinian activist Bassem Tamimi, political rights NGO Amnesty International announced plans today to hire Palestinians to train Americans in the production and use of Molotov cocktails and other improvised weapons.
Amnesty brought the activist to make a presentation to a third-grade class in a New York suburb last week, at which he advanced a propaganda-laden agenda painting Israel as evil and whitewashing Palestinian crimes. Tamimi and Amnesty have worked together for years, with the former either actively encouraging or turning a blind eye toward the latter’s support for violence despite claiming that he calls for nonviolent resistance of Israeli occupation. The success of that school presentation has prompted the organization to expand Tamimi’s speaking schedule and subject matter to include educating more Americans in the justification for, and application of, violent nonviolence as a tool of legitimate political expression.
C. Noeyville, a spokesman for Amnesty, told reporters that the events in Baltimore, Ferguson, New York, and elsewhere over the last two years demonstrate Americans’ need for a nonviolent approach to political and social protest that emulates the Palestinian use of explosives, deadly rocks, stabbing, and vehicular homicide. “Mr. Tamimi’s courageous adherence to nonviolence through his enthusiastic support online and in other media for the actions of Palestinians who kill Jews, and through his exploitation of his children to contrive situations that make IDF soldiers look bad, is a model for marginalized groups everywhere,” said Noeville. “Our aim is to spread the grassroots culture of nonviolent violent protest to help the disenfranchised and the politically oppressed all over assert their rights.”
Is the PLO Dictating AP Content?
The world’s leading wire service, the Associated Press, can’t seem to name a flashpoint holy site revered by millions of Jews, Christians, and Muslims around the world. What gives?
Last November, the PLO warned foreign reporters not to use the words “Temple Mount” when referring to the Jerusalem esplanade that houses the Al-Aqsa mosque and Dome of the Rock.
The site’s Hebrew name, Har HaBayit translates to Temple Mount. This is a name that Jews and Christians used to refer to the holy site before the emergence of Islam, and certainly before the Jordanian army captured the eastern half of Jerusalem in 1967.
But the PLO argument is that the holy site is located in “occupied territory,” and that any name other than Haram al-Sharif (literally, the Noble Sanctuary) impinges on Palestinian rights.
BBC Technology report on Facebook satellite plans omits Israeli aspect
When it comes to reporting on Israel-related topics, BBC Technology is usually one of the corporation’s better departments. It therefore came as something of a surprise to see that in his October 6th report titled “Facebook plans satellite ‘in 2016′“, BBC Technology’s North America reporter Dave Lee neglected to provide readers with a rather relevant piece of information concerning that story.
Lee has clearly read the announcement on the topic put out by Facebook’s founder Mark Zuckerberg.
“Facebook is to launch a satellite that will provide internet access to remote parts of Africa, the social network’s founder Mark Zuckerberg has announced.
In partnership with French-based provider Eutelsat, Facebook hope the first satellite will be launched in 2016.
“We’re going to keep working to connect the entire world – even if that means looking beyond our planet,” Mark Zuckerberg said in a Facebook post.”
Austrian Jewish scholar begins jail term, decries ‘absurd’ sentence
A Jewish Austrian scholar and fierce critic of the republic’s failures to compensate Holocaust victims began his jail term Tuesday.
Ahead of serving a one-year sentence for his 2014 conviction over his omission of a relative from a restitution form he filled out for his mother in 2006, Stephan Templ told the Israeli newspaper Haaretz his case was “Kafkaesque” and “completely absurd.”
In 2001, Templ published the book “Our Vienna: Aryanization, Austrian-Style,” in which he identified individual families that moved into Jewish homes stolen in the 1930s and never returned. Templ also led tour groups to see the stolen houses during which he toted a loudspeaker, occasionally calling out the names of the families that had come to live in them.
Last month, 75 Holocaust historians decried his sentence.
“The Austrian government’s decision to intervene by prosecuting and jailing Mr. Templ will be seen as an extreme overreaction to Mr. Templ’s important book,” the 75 historians wrote in a letter they sent Monday to the Austrian ambassador in Washington, Hans Peter Manz.
“This matter could have been resolved by the Templ family in civil court,” argued the historians, whose letter was coordinated by the Washington, DC-based David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies.
The Syrets camp revolt
A series of tweets from the historical Twitter account WW2 Tweets from 1943 made me aware of yet another heroic Jewish revolt against the Nazis:
Major oil reserve said found on Golan
A company drilling for oil on the Golan Heights claims to have found “significant amounts” in the plateau.
“We’re talking about a layer 350 meters thick,” Yuval Bartov, chief geologist of Afek Oil and Gas, a subsidiary of the American company Genie Energy, told Channel 2.
The layer is ten times larger than the average oil find worldwide, Bartov said, “and that’s why we’re talking about significant amounts. What’s important is to know that there’s oil in the rock, and this we know.”
Three drilling sites on the Golan have uncovered what is potentially billions of barrels of oil, enough to fulfill the Israeli market’s 270,000-barrel-per-day consumption for a very long time, the report claimed.
Israel, India seek to boost ties with presidential visit
The president of India, Pranab Mukherjee, will make an official state visit to Israel next week amid ongoing efforts to boost ties between the two countries.
Mukherjee, the first Indian head of state to visit Israel, will also travel to the Palestinian Authority and Jordan during his six-day visit to the region.
President Reuven Rivlin called Mukherjee’s upcoming visit an “important milestone” in relations between Jerusalem and New Dehli.
The president said in a statement Tuesday that meeting with his Indian counterpart would serve to “deepen the friendship between our states, in the fields of economy, science, medicine, and agriculture.”
During the three-day visit, Mukherjee will also meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein, and opposition leader Isaac Herzog.
Mukherjee is slated to deliver an address at a special Knesset plenary session.
How Israel is Solving the Global Water Crisis
The world is in a water crisis, one that will grow more severe in the coming decade. Water shortages will soon lead to increasing political instability, displacement of populations, and, more likely than not, political unrest and war.
Though this water crisis overlaps with the more widely-discussed problem of climate change, it is different in many ways. It is more acute and more concrete, in that it focuses on a single resource without which humanity cannot live. Its causes are less controversial. Its dimensions are more easily measured. And its catastrophic effects are playing out more clearly and more quickly.
It is also a problem that can be decisively solved without anything remotely resembling the economic restructuring and political acrobatics required to address climate change. Fully effective solutions to the water crisis have already been found. They only need to be implemented.
The world’s water problem is being caused by multiple simultaneous factors: Reduced rainfall, increased population, and the rapid development of impoverished societies have all come together to deplete the amount of water available to humankind. None of these causes are going away. Solutions will come only from changing the way we find and use water.
To make sure supply stays ahead of demand, we need to talk about where we get water, how we use it, and what happens to it afterwards. We need methods for procuring usable water, not just from lakes and rivers and rain, but also from the sea and our own waste. We need farming methods that use much less water, and better ways to prevent leakage and contamination. We need policies that encourage all of these things without undercutting economic growth and our way of life. If we had to start today, it would take decades to come up with the answers.
But we don’t have to start today. All these solutions have been in the works for more than half a century.
SpaceIL is 1st Google Lunar XPRIZE team to book ride to moon
The exciting news was quickly shared by international media as the Israeli contract will now extend the competition’s deadline to the end of 2017.
“We kicked off this challenge in 2007 to foster innovation and entrepreneurship in space through low-cost, efficient access to the moon. But until now, all the tinkering has been on terra firma. SpaceIL’s securing of a verified launch contract by the December 2015 deadline keeps the competition open to all Google Lunar XPRIZE teams, who now have until the end of 2016 to secure their own launch contracts to head to the moon by the end of 2017,” reads the Official Google Blog.
The SpaceIL spacecraft will hitch a ride in a specially designed capsule on the Falcon 9 and separate itself from the launcher. It will then use navigation sensors to guide it to the Moon.
“Last year, we made significant strides toward landing on the Moon, both in terms of project financing and in terms of the engineering design and now, we are thrilled to finally secure our launch agreement,” SpaceIL CEO Eran Privman said in a statement.
SpaceIL (“IL” for Israel) was founded in 2010 by Yariv Bash, Kfir Damari and Yonatan Winetraub just before the cutoff date set by Google Lunar Prize organizers. The three engineers simultaneously created a nonprofit organization by the same name with a broader educational goal of promoting science and scientific education in Israel. (h/t Phil)
Israel to host Forbes young entrepreneurs summit
Forbes magazine announced on Tuesday that it will host its Under 30 EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) Summit in Israel for the first time this coming April.
The conference is expected to bring together some 600 young entrepreneurs, with 200 from Europe, 200 from the United States and 200 from Israel. The Under 30 Summit has been hosted in Philadelphia for the past two years.
The conference will include presentations, speeches, a pitch competition and cultural immersion opportunities in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.
Rafi Rosenfeld and Nir Barzilay, the publishers of Forbes Israel, released a statement saying they were both "happy and proud to be a part of the first international conference of its kind, which will bring 600 of the most influential young people in the world to Israel."
The choice to host the conference in Israel is a vote of confidence from the world's leading financial magazine, they said.
American Israeli singer finds original way to teach the world a lesson about the Temple Mount
Last week American-Israeli singer Yitzchok Meir Malek found an original and powerful way to express his feelings about the ongoing Muslim violence on the Temple Mount and the Old City of Jerusalem.
He climbed to the roof of a house in the predominantly Arab neighborhood Silwan opposite the Temple Mount, taking with him an amplifier and a big loudspeaker that he placed opposite the Al-Aqsa Mosque.
He then chanted in a loud voice the Shema Yisrael prayer, the Jewish declaration of faith which is the most important prayer in Judaism (Hear O Israel Hashem is our God Hashem is the One and Only).
Malek wrote on his Facebook page another phrase, taken from the Aleinu LeShabeach prayer: “HaShem will be king over all of the world on that day Hashem will be One and his Name will be One”.
Call to Prayer

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