Friday, December 11, 2015

From Ian:

Khaled Abu Toameh: Palestinians' Biggest Tragedy: Failed Leadership
It was recently reported that the commander of the Islamic State (ISIS) branch in Sinai held talks in the Gaza Strip with leaders of Hamas's armed wing, the Ezaddin al-Qassam Brigades, about expanding their cooperation.
President Abbas does not seem to care whether the Palestinians of Gaza are turned into hostages and prisoners. He is probably hoping that the crisis will drive Palestinians to revolt against the Hamas regime, paving the way for his PA to return to the Gaza Strip.
Instead of trying to solve the Gaza crisis, Abbas is too busy waging a diplomatic war against Israel. He wants to file "war crimes" charges against Israel with the International Criminal Court -- ignoring the fact that he and Hamas are responsible for the suffering of the Palestinians in Gaza.
The Palestinians ignore the fact that their biggest tragedy over the past few decades has been (and remains) their failed and corrupt leadership that is willing to sacrifice them for its own interests.
Mordechai Kedar: The war between the coalitions
Israel, as part of the local geography, cannot afford the luxury of staying out of the Middle Eastern ball park. Netanyahu realized that Russia is the global power that is willing to shed blood and provide funding in the region, and has been doing everything he can to reach understandings with that power. Erdogan did not see it coming and totally destroyed his relations with Russia.
The strange situation that has been created by Israel's standing with Russia puts the Jewish state in a coalition that has as its members Iran and Hezbollah, who came to Assad's aid along with Russia. Does this mean there may be a modus vivendi struck between the Ayatollahs and Israel? Not necessarily, because, as was mentioned above, there are coalitions whose members continue to fight one another, despite the relationship each maintains with the main pillar of the coalition, in this case, Russia.
The West's blindness has allowed the Middle East to become a Russian monopoly, although 25 years ago, when the USSR collapsed, all the experts were sure that the world controlled by the opposing forces of the USSR and the US had turned into a world led by the US alone. In today's Middle East, that situation has reversed itself, and the ruling monopoly is now the one led by Russia. Israel must relate to this development, especially now that the West has turned into a hollow reed and Saudi Arabia is left to fight Russia without the backing of any global power.
Since it has been discovered that the San Bernardino terrorist became a radical Islamist while in Saudi Arabia, the chance that the US will come to that country's aid in its struggle with Russia are very slight. Trump says out loud what many American's feel behind the mask of political correctness: they don't want any Muslims, neither Syrian, Saudi or Iranian. The US has achieved energy independence, so as far as many Americans are concerned, Putin is more than welcome to the Middle East. And if Israel disappears while this happens, another problem will be solved, one that many Americans are heartily sick of hearing about.
How the Israel Fixation Feeds Terror
Several commentators have pointed out recently that, had the West not spent decades treating terror against Jews and Israel as an “understandable” outgrowth of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, it might have less of a terrorism problem today.
Liel Leibovitz of Tablet detailed links between people who perpetrated attacks on Jews and people who later perpetrated attacks on non-Jews in the same countries. His analysis suggests that, had the original attacks on Jews been investigated more thoroughly, the later attacks might have been preventable. Gil Troy argued in the Jerusalem Post that the West’s consistent response to Palestinian terror – capitulating to the terrorists’ demands and pressuring Israel to do the same – persuaded subsequent generations of Islamic terrorists that terror is an effective means of furthering their goals. But there’s a third way in which the West’s attitudes toward Israel have contributed to its terrorism problem: Its conviction – in defiance of all evidence – that the Palestinian-Israeli conflict was the Mideast’s central problem led it to focus obsessively on this issue, at the expense of all the real problems that are coming back to haunt it now. And nothing better illustrates this than the seemingly trivial issue of NGO funding.
Both Europe and America, but especially the former, grant tens of millions of dollars a year to Israeli NGOs for the ostensible purpose of promoting “democracy” and “human rights” in the one Middle Eastern country that already does a reasonable job of protecting both. However, they spend far less on promoting democracy and human rights in other Mideast countries. A document obtained by the Israeli newspaper Makor Rishon, for instance, showed that in 2010, the British government gave £600,000 to Israeli NGOs; if you exclude Iraq, that’s six times as much as it gave NGOs in all other Arab countries combined. Nor does the West lavish this kind of money on NGOs in other fellow democracies: According to NGO Monitor, “No other democracy gets nearly as much foreign government funding” as Israel does.
Why this peculiar obsession with democracy and human rights in Israel, alone of all the world’s countries? The answer, of course, is that the donations aren’t primarily motivated by concern for democracy and human rights at all. They go almost exclusively to organizations dealing in some way with the Palestinian-Israeli conflict – or, to be precise, organizations striving in some way to get Israel to adopt the West’s recipe for solving it: ever more concessions to the Palestinians.

Jordan bars Israeli family because they were wearing kippot
Jordanian border authorities prevented an Israeli family from crossing into their territory on Wednesday because the husband and sons were wearing kippot, according to the wife.
Tamar Gvirtz-Hayardeni said she, her husband and their three children were trying to cross the Israel-Jordan border at Eilat for a short trip when they were detained and finally prevented from entry completely because the males in her family were wearing traditional Jewish headgear.
At one point, she said, one of the Jordanian officials took their kippot away from them without explanation.
Despite clarifying to border guards that they did not intend to wear the kippot once they had crossed the border, they were told that it was not permitted to enter Jordan with “Jewish items.”
“The Jordanians may want Israelis, but they don’t want Jews,” Gvirtz-Hayardeni wrote in a Facebook post.
The IDF's 'exceeded standards' of war rules
Hamas “deliberately lured Israel into a situation in which it had to kill innocent civilians. Hamas planned operations and positioned forces in every way so that [Gazan] civilians would die.”
Looking ahead at the global effort to engage Islamic State (or lack of it), Kemp said, “I don’t think we’d ever be able to match the intelligence Israel has in Gaza with intelligence we’d have on Syria. I know Israel has much better intelligence than we do on Syria, and that it is sharing it with us, which does help.”
If Western countries ever committed ground forces to destroy Islamic State on the ground, they would not be able to mimic the IDF’s efforts to warn civilians, Kemp said.
“It would be impossible for us to issue the range of warnings that Israel gave to the population in Gaza.
British commanders would not be able to send text messages to people in Raqqa telling them to evacuate their homes – we don’t have their numbers,” he said.
“I didn’t feel that the IDF were running a propaganda operation or spinning things,” he added.” I have 30-years experience, and know when I’m being lied to. The same is true of other officers, some of whom were much senior to me. People will say that Israel knows it’s in trouble. But Israel recognizes that its reputation is on the line, that it has come under heavy criticism and it wants to mitigate that.”
Danny Danon: What the US can learn from Israel on facing domestic terror
Finally, Western societies as a whole must change their mindset when it comes to personal security. Israelis have long ago grown accustomed to having their bags checked at the entrance of all public venues, from soccer stadiums to their local neighborhood café to their local supermarket.
We obviously prefer these measures weren’t necessary, but we know that for now, this is the price we must pay to ensure our safety and security. There’s no reason that terrorists should succeed in entering a concert hall armed with automatic weapons. This should be unacceptable to security authorities in all countries.
As Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu noted in his reaction to the terrorist attacks in Paris, “terrorism is the deliberate and systematic targeting of civilians.” This means that we must find the delicate balance between ensuring that the terrorists don’t fundamentally alter our way of life and that we don’t abandon the core responsibility of the state to protect its citizens.
Now is the time to come together, avoid the tendency to blame ourselves and commit all of our vast resources to winning this war against evil. That is the only way we can ensure that our children will still live in societies worthy of our gallant defense.
The formulation of a counterterrorism strategy
All of these factors simultaneously affect the motivation of the leaders and members of terrorist organizations to carry out attacks. However, alongside the rational cost-benefit considerations of terrorist leaders, terrorist attacks may also be carried out by inspired individuals due to their emotional predisposition, which is amplified through deliberate incitement and radicalization.
Feelings of alienation, frustration, anger and vengefulness may underlie the decision of this or that activist to join a terrorist organization or volunteer to carry out an attack.
The motivational component is only half of the “terrorism equation,” which also includes the element of operational capability. It may be that a terrorist organization will seek to carry out attacks, but will not be able to perform them. The absence of operational capability may be the result of a shortage of money, a lack of weapons or fighters, difficulties related to measures taken against the organization, and more.
The effective fight against a terrorist organization therefore requires dealing simultaneously with the two variables that make up the “terrorism equation” – the underlying motivation for terrorist activity and the operational capacity that allows for the realization of that motivation. Finding the delicate balance and synergy between these two variables is a most difficult task but it is necessary in any attempt to achieve an effective counterterrorism strategy
IDF Blog: Counter-Terrorism 101: Five Ways to Fight Terror
As Islamic extremism increasingly becomes a global threat, nations around the world are looking for ways to keep terror away from their streets and out of their cities. Here are 5 ways we do it in Israel.
1. Detecting and Arresting Terrorists
Our top priority is to stop attackers before they strike. An array of advanced intelligence mechanisms are designed to uncover unusual behaviors and patterns that can disclose terror cells or individual terrorists. When attacks happen, finding and arresting the perpetrators is crucial.
Arrests are performed regularly. Recently, the IDF arrested 24 people who attempted to set up a Hamas headquarters in Qalqilya.
‘If I leave the country, the terrorists win,’ says American victim of Palestinian attack
Jake Laznik, an American Jew from Florida, fulfilled his dream of joining the elite Golani Brigade and proudly donning his IDF uniform for the first time on November 22. Just five days later, wearing that same uniform, he found himself crushed under a car in the West Bank, the victim of another in the seemingly endless wave of terror attacks that has cast a shadow over Israeli life for the past three months.
Laznik - his chest and arms covered with large scabs, his leg in a cast - now lies in an incongruously cheerful teenage girl’s bedroom in the Tel Aviv suburban home of his Israeli relatives. His mother Debbie, fresh off a plane from the family’s home in Boca Raton, Florida is cuddled up protectively beside him, as if Jake was a nine-year-old boy, not a 19-year-old soldier.
Laznik was mowed down by a terrorist next to a bus stop in a car-ramming attack on November 27.
He had been a target, ironically enough, as an indirect result of the fact that he had celebrated Thanksgiving. Laznik had been given the day off in order to attend a special Thanksgiving meal for U.S.-born lone soldiers in Tel Aviv. He and a group of his fellow soldiers had then spent the night in the West Bank settlement of Alon - at the home of one of the counselors at the kibbutz that served as their “home base” during army service - and they were waiting for a bus to take them back north to the kibbutz the next morning.
Palestinian driver killed as he attempts to ram soldiers
A Palestinian driver attempted to ram IDF soldiers near the West Bank city of Hebron Friday afternoon, but was shot and killed by troops.
Soldiers opened fire on the vehicle as it sped toward them at a checkpoint at Halhul Junction, outside the town of Halhul north of Hebron, killing the driver and preventing the attack.
The Israel Defense Forces confirmed the driver was killed by the soldiers’ fire.
A large knife was found on the driver’s body, the army said.
No Israelis were hurt in the incident.
The attacker was later identified as 55-year-old Issa Haroub from a village near Hebron.
Palestinian shoots at guards at Gilboa crossing
A Palestinian opened fire on the Gilboa crossing between Israel and the northern West Bank Friday afternoon.
No Israelis were hurt in the attack.
According to a Defense Ministry statement, the Palestinian attacker opened fire from several dozen yards away. A guard identified the assailant and returned fire, apparently wounding him.
A Palestinian commercial vehicle then sped up to the shooter, who got in and escaped.
Security forces launched a manhunt for the attacker, who was believed to have come from around the nearby Palestinian city of Jenin.
Shin Bet arrests terrorist who rammed four soldiers Thursday
Mehmed Abed al-Halim Abed al-Hamid Salem, 37, was arrested in a joint operation of the Shin Bet, the IDF undercover Duvdevan forces and police units.
Salem allegedly slammed his black Isuzu into the four soldiers near the settlement of Beit Aryeh, just over the Green Line from several Tel Aviv suburbs in an area that has seen little of the violence that has rocked the country over the last several months.
The car was found abandoned in the nearby village of Rantis. Authorities found an Israel Defense Forces-issued weapon inside the car, the army said.
The condition of the four soldiers improved overnight. One was released home Friday morning. Of the three who remain in hospital, two are moderately wounded and one lightly wounded.
Two Palestinians killed amid riots in West Bank, Gaza
Two Palestinians were reported killed Friday afternoon as clashes erupted in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip following weekly prayers.
One man was killed during violent protests north of Hebron, according to Palestinian media. Meanwhile officials in the Gaza Strip said a second man was killed by Israeli troops in a clash along the security fence.
Media reports identified the Hebron man as 21-year-old Oday Irsheid, the brother of a 17-year-old Palestinian girl who was killed in October after security officials said she pulled a knife at troops in Hebron. Palestinian witnesses have claimed she was unarmed and was shot without provocation.
Teen terrorist pointed and said: I want to kill him
The Jerusalem District Attorney's Office on Friday indicted a 16-year-old Palestinian girl for committing a terrorist attack last month outside Jerusalem's Mahane Yehuda market.
On Nov. 23, the girl, a resident of Kafr Aqab in east Jerusalem, and her cousin tried to stab passersby on the busy Jaffa Road in Jerusalem. The cousin was killed by security forces at the scene. The girl was apprehended and has now been charged with two counts of attempted murder and possession of a weapon. The state has asked the court to remand the defendant pending the conclusion of the legal proceedings against her.
According to the indictment, the two girls decided to carry out the attack in retribution for the 2013 death of the brother of one of the girls in clashes with the IDF. According to Palestinian reports, the brother was a member of Fatah's military wing.
On the morning of the attack, the two girls left their homes carrying their school backpacks to avoid suspicion. They took a bus to the Temple Mount, and after praying at Al-Aqsa mosque they purchased two pairs of scissors with which they planned to stab Israelis.
They boarded the light rail train and got off near the Jerusalem Municipality building. From there they walked down Jaffa Road, looking for an opportunity to pounce. According to the indictment, the girl's cousin pointed at one passersby and said, "I want to kill him."
Cyber jihad expert: Social media companies are unlikely to stem online propaganda
In the wake of the San Bernardino terror attacks, the debate over what to do about cyber jihad – and encrypted communications – has come to the fore, but a leading voice in getting terrorists off social networks does not envision much progress on the issue.
“This game by Twitter and YouTube – that is, doing the minimum to deal with the problem of jihadi content online – has been going on for years,” Steven Stalinsky, the executive director of Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), who charts terrorist use of social networks, told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday.
Some discussion of the issue began immediately following last month’s Paris attacks, but the pressure to make progress is mounting, he said.
MEMRI has reiterated to the heads of the leading social media companies, and particularly to Twitter, that they “explain to the public what their policies are and what they are doing to deal with it – and why,” said Stalinsky.
MEMRI itself has been working on this issue for more than a decade, ever since jihadis took their first steps online in carrying out cyber jihad. The organization has a project called the cyber jihad lab that is devoted to collaborating with legislatures and tech companies to tackle this issue.
MEMRI: Social Media As A Platform For Incitement - Part IV: Hashtag 'Stab' On Twitter, Facebook
Social media are being used as a platform for spreading virulent incitement to carry out stabbing attacks in Israel. The messages are spread using various hashtags; especially prominent is the hashtag #stab in Arabic, which is used both on Twitter and Facebook.
The following are examples of its use, from both networks:
Honest Reporting: Facebook Admits Mistake and Restores HR’s Golda’s Meir Picture
A lot of people were upset when we reported that Facebook had removed our picture of Golda Meir with the quotation that “Peace will come when the Arabs will love their children more than they hate us.” They responded by sharing the image on their own pages and it was seen widely on many of our subscribers own networks. They sent us a message saying that her quotation violated their community standards are represented a “genuine risk of physical harm or direct threats to public safety.”
A friend of HonestReporting works with Facebook and was able to get in touch with officials there to raise this issue. We were very pleased when we received the following response from Facebook:
A member of our team accidentally removed something you posted on Facebook. This was a mistake, and we sincerely apologize for this error. We’ve since restored the content, and you should now be able to see it.
The Facebook Team
Reuters Vilifies Israel for Acting in Self-Defense
The Reuters article “Israel applies lethal response to wave of Palestinian attacks,” puts the onus on Israel for not peacefully subduing violent attackers stabbing, shooting, and running down Israelis in the streets, drawing a comparison to last week’s attack in the London underground in which police stopped a man during a stabbing attack using a Taser gun. Author Luke Baker flippantly reports that suggestions of adopting this approach in Israel “are dismissed out of hand” by Israel’s defenders, then tries to argue the wrongfulness of the Israeli response by laying out “statistics” writing, “the numbers show a high percentage of people who carry out attacks are killed rather than detained.” Baker downplays the fact that, when arrest is possible, the Israeli authorities make every effort to detain the terrorist. His report shares the Swedish Foreign Minister’s perspective that the Israelis’ handling of terror is a form of “extrajudicial execution.”
Baker writes:
The disparity in the number killed on each side — and the fact more than 13,500 Palestinians have been injured, including many in demonstrations, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry — has led to accusations by rights groups and others that Israel is using excessive force to quell the unrest.
Here appears the popular tactic employed by media to purportedly demonstrate Israel’s moral culpability through the fact that more Palestinians have died than Israelis -- as a result of the violence perpetrated by the Palestinian attackers themselves. In his argument, Baker cites the questionable figures provided by the Palestinian Health Ministry, and gives no time frame or criteria of what “13,500 Palestinians have been injured, including many in demonstrations” includes. He inaccurately represents the extent of the violence against Jews by not beginning his tally from the true start date of the wave of violence in September and completely ignoring the many injured. Though Baker cites researcher Nehemia Gershuni Aylho, he does not include the researcher’s statistics:
Innocent Israelis killed by Arabs: 21
Innocent Arabs Killed by Civilians: 0

Innocent Israelis wounded by Arabs: 427
Innocent Arabs wounded by Civilians: 13
How an Arab Reporter Pushes State Dept. to Deliver His Message
But there is always one reporter in the room who raises differing versions of the same questions about the same topic. That reporter is Said Arikat, the D.C.-based reporter for the Palestinian Arab news outlet, Al-Quds. The has reported on Arikat before.
Not surprisingly, Arikat is focused on the Arab-Israeli conflict. But what is surprising — what is, in fact, shocking — is that Arikat raises the question many different ways until he gets the very specific response he’s looking for from the State Department spokesperson. Some times they disappoint him. Much of the time, they play right into his hands.
The responses Arikat fishes for are ones condemning Israel for any number of incidents – some real, but most exaggerated or entirely misrepresented. Sometimes Arikat is unsuccessful at evoking the response he so obviously desires.
Nonetheless, just asking his long-winded and convoluted questions provides him with the forum to present his version of the plight of the aggrieved Palestinian Arabs. And he does that day in and day out, in a room full of Washington, D.C. based national and international journalists.
French court sentences stabber of Marseille Jew to 4 years
A man who stabbed a Jew and assaulted two other Jews in Marseille was sentenced to four years in prison.
The Correctional Tribunal of Marseille sentenced Farid Haddouche, 32, on Wednesday for aggravated assault he committed early in the morning of October 24, the France 3 television channel reported. Haddouche’s victims — a rabbi, the rabbi’s son and another Jew who was stabbed — were returning from the synagogue when he assaulted them.
Haddouche was deemed unfit to stand trial because of mental issues following a psychiatric evaluation, but further inquiries led to his indictment later that month.
The Marseille branch of CRIF, the umbrella group of French Jewish communities, requested that police and justice officials re-examine Haddouche’s case following reports that he shouted anti-Semitic slogans during the attack. The victims told Michelle Teboul, president of the local CRIF branch, that Haddouche had deliberately targeted them because they were Jewish.
Swiss Islamist Terror Threat ‘Unprecedented’
The imminence and severity of the terror threat currently facing Switzerland by Islamic jihadists is without precedent, according to Jean-Paul Rouiller, the creator of the counterterrorism unit of the Swiss Federal Judicial Police (PJF).
“To my knowledge, and after twenty years of experience in intelligence and counterterrorism, this is the first time I have seen such a serious threat in Switzerland,” said Rouiller. “We live a very peculiar time.”
“One thing is clear. Switzerland and especially Geneva is threatened. And this threat is related to the Islamic State group,” he said.
“We now have confirmation that our fears were well founded,” he said.
Rouiller’s words follow on a special terror alert issued in Geneva Thursday, and the manhunt for four individuals believed to be connected to the Paris jihadist attacks of November 13.
“We have gone from a vague threat to a specific threat,” said Emmanuelle Lo Verso, communications officer at the Department of Security and Economy (EHR). “The number of patrols has been increased because we are in a very active phase of the search,” she said.
Geneva Jews Warned to be ‘Vigilant’ in New Terror Alert
As the Sabbath approached, Geneva’s Jews were warned to be “vigilant” on Friday morning as the Swiss city went on high alert along with the Canadian city of Toronto and the U.S. Midwestern city of Chicago.
All three appeared on a terrorist hit list linked to the Da’esh (ISIS) terror organization, according to a report by Fox News. Four male suspects “tied to ISIS” were being sought in the Swiss city.
Swiss officials said Thursday that a car registered in Belgium, home to some of the Paris attackers, had driven through a police checkpoint near Geneva, Le Matin reported.
Geneva’s Jewish community was warned to be “vigilant,” Swiss television said. “Sensitive sites have been alerted,” said a government official.
Poll: Terrorism Beats Economy as Top Concern for First Time in a Decade
For the first time since 2006, terrorism ranks higher than the economy as a concern for voters, according to a new CBS News poll.
Terrorism was the top concern for 14 percent of voters in the poll, while the economy was number one for 12 percent.
Even more dramatically, 44 percent of Americans thought another terrorist attack within the next few months is very likely. CBS notes that represents a 16 point increase from two weeks ago–i.e. a result of the San Bernardino terrorist attack–and the highest concern level they have recorded since 9/11. Poll respondents thought such an attack was more likely to come from people already living in the United States than overseas terrorist operatives.
The threat of a terror attack was ranked far higher than fears of a random mass shooting, with only 23 percent saying they were “very concerned” about the possibility.
The poll found ISIS was a specific source of anxiety, with 70 percent of Americans considering what Barack Obama famously dismissed as the “jayvee team” of terrorism a major threat to the United States… and 71 percent saying the battle against the Islamic State is going badly.
Shi'ite preacher: Sunnis 'mercenaries of Jews, Americans'
A preacher for the Iraqi Shi'ite militia of Hizbullah al-Nujaba was filmed inciting against Jews, Bedouins, Americans, and Sunni Muslims in a fiery speech to its forces fighting in Syria last week.
Sheikh Akram Al-Kabi, al-Nujaba's leader, riled up the audience at a Friday sermon at Khaled Ibn Al-Walid mosque south of Aleppo, the Middle Eastern Research Media Institute (MEMRI) reports.
The video was uploaded to the internet.
"My brothers, heroes of the Shi'a, repeat after me three times: No to America," Al-Kabi began. He then introduced similar chants: "No to Israel," and 'Death to the Nawasib (Sunnis)!"
We are being deceived on Iran
Five days before the deadline for implementing the deal with the West: Intelligence officials let on that Iran is not meeting its obligations to dismantle its nuclear program.
Following the signing of the nuclear deal in July, the sanctions against Iran will be lifted within the next seven days, on December 15. But Iran is not meeting its obligations to dismantle its nuclear capability as per its agreement with six world powers.
This revelation was confirmed by Western intelligence officials who have been following Iran's dismantling of its nuclear program.
Nonetheless, in Israel there is no mistaken illusion: the sanctions on Iran will indeed be lifted next week, at the appointed time, and moreover while world powers try to blur the fact that this process will take place despite Tehran's failure to honor its commitments.
Shiite Militias Compare Turks in Iraq to Islamic State, Threaten Attacks
Shiite militia groups in Iraq are threatening to attack Turkish troops unless they are withdrawn within 48 hours, according to a Reuters report.
The Turks moved a small contingent of troops into a camp near Mosul last week, ostensibly for the purpose of training Iraqi and Kurdish forces.
Karim al-Nuri of the Shiite “Badr Brigade” compared the Turkish troops to the Islamic State and even raised the specter of the Ottoman Empire.
“We have the right to respond and we do not exclude any type of response until the Turks have learned their lesson,” the militia spokesman declared. “Do they have a dream of restoring Ottoman greatness? This is a great delusion and they will pay dearly because of Turkish arrogance.”
“We say that the military option is still probable and we might reach a stage in the next few days where we start carrying out operations against the Turks, be it against their soldiers or Turkish interests in Iraq,” a spokesman for another militia group declared. As Reuters notes, that is more than just an idle threat to the Turks.
Menendez Blasts Obama: 'Silence Is so Deafening' After Iran Missile Test
Senator Bob Menendez of New Jersey, perhaps the most outspoken critic of Barack Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran on the Democrat side of the aisle – and a serious contender for the bipartisan criticism championship belt – is outraged about the Administration’s weak response to last month’s illegal Iranian ballistic missile test.
“What has happened as a result of Iran violating the U.N. Security Council resolutions as it relates to missile testing? Absolutely nothing,” fumed Menendez on Tuesday, as reported by The Hill. “Something is wrong because the silence is so deafening.”
To date, the Administration has done little except promise to investigate the missile test, which is actually the second illegal launch Iran has made in so many months. The first one in October drew significant media coverage, but U.S. officials only began talking about the second one – evidently conducted on November 21 – yesterday. The U.N. Security Council still has not decided how to respond to the first violation of its resolutions, which is not a flattering comment on the power of U.N. Security Council resolutions.
“Iran can support terror, Iran can develop its nuclear program, Iran can foment sectarian conflict across the Middle East… and yet, it will be rewarded with a multibillion dollar sanctions relief this coming year,” Menendez complained.
Former Defense Official: Iran’s Cyber-Attacks Are Part of an Asymmetric Warfare Strategy
The latest string of cyber-attacks against administration officials came after a State Department warning in May that Iran’s cyber-warfare capabilities put American businesses at risk.
Because Iran ignores “international norms regarding the inviolability of embassies, prohibiting terrorism, outlawing foreign assassinations, and banning nuclear nonproliferation,” Runkle wrote, the U.S. should prepare for further and possibly more damaging cyber-attacks from Iran in the future. He called on the U.S. to harden its critical infrastructure against cyber-attacks and improve its defensive capabilities online, observing that “the recent renewal of Iranian hacking against US targets demonstrates that conciliatory efforts on our part are insufficient to change our rivals’ behavior in the digital realm.”
In Iran Has Built an Army of Cyber-Proxies, which was published in the August 2015 issue of The Tower Magazine, Jordan Brummer described how Iran used terrorist proxies to give it a measure of deniability about its cyber-warfare activities.
Iran sentences woman to death by stoning
A criminal court in Iran’s northern province of Gilan sentenced a woman to be executed by stoning for alleged complicity in the murder of her husband Arash Babaieepour Tabrizinejad.
The stoning penalty of the woman, who was only identified by the initials “A.Kh,” was first reported on the Persian-language Iranian website LAHIG on Saturday.
According to the LAHIG report, the court imposed the stoning penalty on the woman along with lashings and a 25-year prison sentence. The criminal court in the city of Rasht in Gilan issued the sentence.
Maryam Nayeb Yazdi, a leading Canadian-Iranian human rights activist based in Toronto who tweeted about the stoning on Wednesday, told The Jerusalem Post, “The rate of executions in Iran has not decreased in the last few years, it has increased. Although stoning has become more rare in Iran, such sentences are still being issued by Iranian judges. The probability of a stoning sentence to be carried out is slim due to the international sensitivity of the issue, there is a great chance her sentence may be ‘converted’ to death by hanging.”
Nayeb Yazdi, who runs the translation blog Persian2English and works with the international NGO Iran Human Rights, added “We need to note that an official Iranian website released the stoning sentence news, and we should question the regime's motives for doing so. The stoning sentence is an indication of the Iranian regime's continued war against women in Iran. Arbitrary executions in Iran must be on top of the agenda in any dialogue between Iran and the West.”
Amb. Roet: Explanation of Vote on Iran's WAVE resolution

Abbas claims Palestinians are facing a new 'nakba'
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Thursday accused Israel of deliberately targeting Palestinian youth and children, whom he described as the “defenders of the dream and future generation.”
Palestinians are facing a “nakba (catastrophe) that is aimed at uprooting them from their lands and denying their existence,” Abbas said, in a statement on the occasion of Human Rights Day.
Palestinians are facing a “fresh assault by the Israeli occupation and its settlers in the frame of their continued aggression against our rights, lands, and Islamic and Christian holy sites,” he said.
Israel has arrested more than 10,000 Palestinian children since 2000, Abbas claimed. He also said that 500 Palestinian children were killed during last year’s Operation Protective Edge in the Gaza Strip. Abbas said that 25 out of the 117 Palestinians killed in the current wave of terrorism were children.
“Our people will continue the struggle until they achieve their goal of freedom, independence and the [right of] return,” Abbas stressed.
Fatah official blasts Israeli travel ban as form of 'terrorism' against Palestinians
Israeli authorities on Thursday barred a senior Fatah official from leaving the West Bank over the Allenby Bridge, Palestinian sources said.
The sources said that Sultan Abu al-Einein, a member of the Fatah Central Committee and a former Fatah security commander in Lebanon, was held for five hours at the bridge before being told to return to Ramallah. Last month, Israel also revoked his VIP card.
Over the past few years, a number of top Fatah officials have also lost their Israeli-issued VIP cards for their role in incitement against Israel.
Abu al-Einein, who is closely associated with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, has repeatedly praised Palestinian attacks against Israelis. He had also called for executing Palestinians who sell land to Jews.
The Fatah official strongly condemned the travel ban, dubbing it a form of “terrorism” against Palestinians.
Inside Hamas's internal tug-of-war over ISIS
Even after the leader of Islamic State's (ISIS) affiliate in the Sinai recently paid a visit to Hamas in Gaza, Hamas leadership remains embroiled in conflict over whether to continue ties with the group at all, sources revealed Friday.
Conflicting reports over the Hamas-ISIS relationship have already emerged as of late, with the announcement that ISIS invaded a Hamas weapons cache last summer following just days after reports leaked of ISIS officials visiting Gaza.
But Palestinian Arab sources told Walla! News that the conflict extends even deeper - into the very heart of Hamas leadership itself.
An entire class of Hamas's politburo supports cutting ties with ISIS, including Ismail Haniyeh - former "Prime Minister" of Gaza - and Yahya Sinwar, one of the top officials both in the politburo and Hamas's "military wing."
On the other side: the growing group of Salafists within Gaza, some of whom have infiltrated Hamas's governance. Among them are former "Interior Minister" Fathi Hamed and terror leader Ayman Noufel, who escaped from Egyptian prison and returned to Gaza with some of that country's most hardened jihadists.
Hajj stampede killed THREE TIMES the number of deaths reported by Saudi Arabia: New figures find that 2,411 pilgrims were crushed to death
A stampede during the hajj in Saudi Arabia in September killed at least 2,411 pilgrims, according to a new count, some three times the number of deaths acknowledge by the kingdom.
Figures compiled by the Associated Press established that the crush at Mina was the deadliest in the history of the annual pilgrimage.
Saudi Arabia rebuffed criticism from its regional rival Iran and efforts by other countries to join a probe into the deaths. Although King Salman ordered an investigation into the tragedy almost immediately, few details have been made public since.
The count by the Associated Press is based on state media reports and officials' comments from 36 of the over 180 countries that sent citizens to the hajj. Hundreds of pilgrims remain missing. The official Saudi toll of 769 people killed has not changed since Sept. 26, and officials there have yet to address the discrepancy.
The state-run Saudi Press Agency has not mentioned the investigation into the disaster since Oct. 19, when it reported that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, who is also the kingdom's interior minister, was 'reassured on the progress of the investigations.'

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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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