Friday, January 15, 2016

From Ian:

Khaled Abu Toameh: How (and Why) Palestinian Leaders Scare the World
Abbas has perfected the art of financial extortion. Every Monday and Thursday, as it were, the Palestinian Authority (PA) president has threatened to resign and/or dissolve the PA. This tactic has a twofold aim: cold hard European and American cash, and a gaze directed away from the PA's turmoil.
The PA wants the following response from the international community: "Oh my God, we must do something to salvage the peace process. We need to put even more pressure on these Israelis before matters get out of hand."
Abbas wants the world's eyes on Israel -- and Israel alone. That way, the fierce behind-the-scenes battle for succession that has been raging among the top brass of the Palestinian leadership in the West Bank will stay far from the limelight.
The PA seeks a solution imposed upon Israel by the international community. Why negotiate when Western powers are prepared to do everything to see Israel brought to its knees?
Caroline Glick: The Obama administration’s most covert war
Over the past several weeks, we have learned that the Obama administration believes it is at war with Israel. The war is not a shooting war, but a political war. Its goal is to bring the government to its knees to the point where Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu loses power or begs Obama and his advisers to shepherd Israel through a “peace process” in which Israel will renounce its rights to Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria.
One component of this war is espionage. Last month The Wall Street Journal reported that Israel is a top target for American espionage.
The other component of the administration’s war against Israel is political subversion. Over the past week, the administration has campaigned against the NGO bill sponsored by Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked. If the bill, which was approved by the government, becomes law, it will require political NGOs that are principally financed by foreign governments to identify as foreign agents in their official communications and interactions.
Last week, State Department spokesman James Kirby lambasted the bill at an official briefing. Among other things, Kirby rejected Shaked’s claim that her bill is less restrictive than the US’s own Foreign Agents Registration Act. Kirby offered no substantiation of his claim.
PMW: Fatah official: US created ISIS as part of “American infernal plot”
During an interview with the Iraqi paper Al-Mashriq, Fatah Central Committee member Abbas Zaki described what he called "the American plot" in the Arab region. Zaki claimed that the US has destroyed some Arab states and denied others help in order to weaken them so they would be unable to tackle Israel:
"The American plot began by targeting the heart of the Arab nation, by destroying Iraq and Syria, and weakening Egypt... The strong Arab states did not receive support that would enable them to deal with Israel and stop its spread on Arab land." [Al-Mashriq (independent Iraqi newspaper), Jan. 10, 2016]
Zaki called this a "infernal plot to dismantle the Arab nation, split it, and kill its spirit of solidarity."
The next step in the American plan was, according to Zaki, to create ISIS and with it an Islamic state, whose existence would then serve as the ultimate justification for the need to establish a Jewish state - with no Palestinians:
"ISIS is an American product, necessary for the establishment of an Islamic state in order to justify the existence of a Jewish state, in which there is no place for Palestinians."
Zaki stated that "the Americans were not serious about their attacks against ISIS and eliminating it." As proof of the lenient US attitude toward ISIS, and its "deception" of the world, Zaki claimed that Russia's attacks on ISIS "exposed the American deception":

Mordechai Kedar: Death and shame: End of the line for Nasrallah?
Recently, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, found himself the object of a delegitimization and shaming campaign led by his opponents in the Arab world. His son, Muhammad Hadi, was killed in 1997, and ever since, Hezbollah recounts the tale of how he fell in battle as a shaheed. Except that about two years ago, an Algerian journalist Anwar Malakh, revealed that according to Syrian Intelligence documents, Hadi, son of Hassan Nasrallah, did not die a martyr's death in a battle against Israeli forces, but was killed in a fight that broke out between partygoers in a Beirut nightclub. A nightclub is the last place in the world that Nasrallah would want his son to even have entered. Liquor flows like water in these nightspots and Islam's high moral standards are not in evidence. As far as Hadi is concerned, he is said to have died in a barroom brawl.
Nasrallah's acute problem is that if this is really what happened to his son, his own legitimacy as a leader will be undermined, as well as the moral integrity he needs to possess in order to send his men to battle and death for the ideals and interests of the Lebanese Shiites, foremost among them the will to survive the Sunni Jihad onslaughts of the Syrian rebels and Islamic State. The story of his son's fadikha and the lies spread about how he died are painful evidence of Nasrallah's lowered status, certainly in comparison to the heights of popularity he reached in 2006 after the glorious sacrifices of his soldiers in the Second Lebanon War.
For a while, Hassan Nasrallah did not allude to the alleged "exposé" of the real circumstances of his son's death, at least not directly, no doubt fearing that any mention of it – even a denial – would serve to fan the flames and turn it into a topic for discussion. Nasrallah changed his tune last month, however, and flatly denied the "reports" in a speech he delivered in memory of one of the Shiite leaders, Mahmud Khaton, with whose female relative Hadi was supposed to have been carrying on a romance.
The show must go on
Mike's Place was initially the Tel Aviv branch of a well-known Jerusalem bar, but it had already assumed its own identity: a melting pot of religions, colors and languages. A mix of rock, blues, jazz, funk and soul, with live music every night. It was a place where anyone and everyone was welcomed with a smile and made to feel wanted. Gal Gantzman, the founder of the Tel Aviv location and one of the owners, served Baxter a beer and listened to him lament the film that was not to be made.
"Jack, people are sick and tired of hearing about politics in the Middle East and all the problems we have here," Gantzman consoled him. "Israel is not just politics and conflict. Why don't you make a film about Mike's Place?"
The conversation became the seed the germinated into "Blues by the Beach," an award-winning documentary film chronicling the bar regulars, the one-time characters, the employees and the general atmosphere that make Mike's Place the extraordinary place that it is.
Joshua Faudem, a newly hired bartender who had just completed film school, instantly assumed the role of director and became Baxter's right-hand man. Things were looking up. No one could have foreseen what was destined to happen, which changed not just the content of the film but also the lives of everyone involved.
On April 30, while shooting for the film was still ongoing, two British Muslims of Pakistani origin blew themselves up at the entrance to the bar. Three people were killed -- Ran Baron, Dominique Caroline Hass and Yanai Weiss -- and 50 others were wounded. One bomber was killed in the blast and the other fled to the nearby David Intercontinental Hotel, struggled with a security guard at the entrance and was mysteriously found dead on the beach several hours later.
Tel Aviv turns out to support bar where Israeli Arab shot 2 dead
Hundreds of people on Friday packed into the Tel Aviv bar at the center of a deadly shooting attack two weeks ago, which claimed the lives of manager Alon Bakal and patron Shimon Ruimi. A third man, cabbie Amin Shaaban, was killed by the same gunman as he made his escape.
Mayor Ron Huldai was among those supping a beer or two at Simta, as he declared that Tel Aviv had returned to normal, exactly two weeks after the attack and one week after the fugitive gunman Nashat Milhem was shot dead by police in his hometown of Arara in northern Israel.
“The owners of the Simta pub told me that Alon Bakal, who was murdered in the attack, had one catchphrase: ‘I love to live.’ They threw an event in that spirit today, it was emotional,” Huldai wrote on Facebook on Friday afternoon, urging people to join him.
Supporters from Tel Aviv and around the country sported headbands made of balloons, and the bar laid on a DJ and decorated the site with posters reading: “There is love in us, and it will win.”

Terror is terror is terror
The terror that struck innocents in Paris, London & San Bernardino recently is the very same terror that targets Israelis in Jerusalem, Tel aviv and throughout Israel in an ongoing wave of attacks since 13 September 2015.

Terror Orphan Roee Fogel Celebrates Bar Mitzvah
The festivities began at the Kotel where Roee was accompanied by his siblings, Tamar and Yishai, and his grandparents, Rabbi Yehuda and Tali Ben-Ishay, who have been raising him, his other grandparents, Chaim and Tsilla Fogel, and his aunts, uncles, and cousins.
From there, the party moved to a banquet hall for a festive breakfast. Roee’s friends, including a former counselor and his OneFamily Big Brother, came from across the country to bring him joy on his special day.
In a moving speech during the ceremony, Roee invoked the memory of his parents, and thanked them for making him who he is today. He also expressed deep gratitude to his grandparents, his siblings, his family, and all his friends who have been his side since the tragedy struck.
“When you don’t think of yourself as just being part of a family but as part of the whole Jewish people, then you’ll never be afraid of any challenge,” Roee told the audience. “We have to carry on as a strong Jewish nation.”
Hip-Hop Tribute to American Jew Murdered by Palestinian Terrorists
A hip-hop track dedicated to an American Jewish student who was murdered by Palestinian terrorists while on a study abroad program in Israel has gone viral.
The song, written and sung by fellow Americans in Israel, Samuel Kalnitz and Yaakov Galen, is a tribute to Ezra Schwartz, an 18-year-old Massachussetts native who was shot and killed in November in a Palestinian terror attack that killed five people. 
The video opens with footage from a Patriots game with the commentator saying that Schwartz, “a huge Patriots fan, was gunned down nearly 5,500 miles away from home, while studying abroad.”
The clip continues with the rappers in Jerusalem, singing lyrics that include, “Just to hinder our existence these people [Palestinian terrorists] will give up theirs. … It seems like everything for them should be solved with violence.”
Interspersed with images of Schwartz, the clip continues with the rapper saying that the song is “a message to the world saying ‘we feel alone.'”
Growing Number of Intellectuals and Journalists Speaking Out Against Violence in Current Mini-Intifada
Defying the prevailing mood on the Palestinian street and the position of the Palestinian leadership, a growing number of Palestinian intellectuals and journalists have begun to speak out in local media against “the culture of death” fueling the current “mini-intifada” on the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
Condemning in particular the involvement of children wielding knives against soldiers and others in what amount to suicide attacks, the protestors said the phenomenon is an aberration that Palestinian society must address.
“We must not bring our children into the cycle of violence,” wrote Hafez Al-Barghouti, a former newspaper editor and a member of the Fatah Revolutionary Council. “We should keep our children away from areas of conflict so they can experience their childhood.”
Children as young as 12 have been involved in knifing incidents. Most of the knife wielders during the unrest of the past four months have been teenagers.
In an article in a West Bank newspaper, Sawt Al-Nisa, journalist Mohammed Daraghmeh addressed young militants. “Do not march towards death. You may rage, rebel and take to the streets. You can block roads, shout and make your voices heard by a deaf world. But do not die. The homeland needs you alive.”
The comments were gathered by MEMRI (Middle East Media Research Institute), which monitors the media in the region.
Why the West Bank refugee camps refuse to join the Third Intifada
This overall assessment by M., who spent his best years in Israeli and Palestinian prisons for terrorist activity, is not unique among the residents here or in other refugee camps.
Many people in Jenin and in the other large refugee camps in the West Bank do not believe that the violent outbreak of recent months will last, or that it will lead to change. This is true of both Jenin and of Balata, near Nablus — both camps that played a leading role in the terror attacks and conflicts during the first two intifadas.
All this may have to do with deeper processes that are going on in Palestinian society, including the “defamiliarization” that the inhabitants of the refugee camps feel toward the Palestinian Authority and the people who live in the cities.
The lack of participation by the residents of the large refugee camps in the West Bank is one of the main reasons why this intifada has not become a mass uprising three and a half months after it began, and is even showing the first signs of fading.
Realizing this, Hamas is trying to escalate the conflict by engaging in shooting and suicide attacks. But the number of stabbing and ramming attacks is declining, as is the number of those taking part in demonstrations.
Israel Distributes Cucumber Seeds to Palestinians at Checkpoint to Calm Tensions, Convey Positive Message (VIDEO)
A creative endeavor to calm tensions between Israelis and Palestinians in the West Bank was undertaken by the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories Unit (COGAT), the Hebrew news site nrg reported on Wednesday.
COGAT employees distributed packets of cucumber seeds to Palestinians as they arrived for inspection before crossing into Israel.
The symbolic message, coming during the current wave of terrorism perpetrated by mostly young Palestinians, was clear — to sow, not stab.
The response of the recipients was caught on camera, and COGAT released a video of the moving moments.
JPost Editorial: Wallstrom’s chutzpah
Palestinians have run over, stabbed, shot, stoned and firebombed scores of Israelis since Rosh Hashana, when the present wave of terrorism is said to have begun. These attacks have been perpetrated overwhelmingly by “lone wolves” overwhelmed by an impulse to lash out at innocent Israelis.
Let us be clear: All the attacks have targeted Jewish Israelis; though several Arab Israelis have accidentally been murdered as well. In all about 30 Israelis have been killed in these attacks and over 200 have been wounded.
Throughout this period most European politicians have either remained silent about the violence or have attempted to portray both sides – Israeli and Palestinian – as equally to blame.
But Sweden’s Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom has outdone her fellow Europeans. On Tuesday she called for an investigation to determine whether Israel is guilty of extrajudicial killings of Palestinians during the current wave of terrorism.
“It is vital that there is a thorough, credible investigation into these deaths in order to clarify and bring about possible accountability,” she said during a parliamentary debate, according to the Swedish news agency TT.
Not only did Wallstrom ignore Palestinian violence directed against innocent Israelis – she blamed the victim.
She had the chutzpah to claim that Israel’s desperate attempts to defend itself against Palestinian terrorism should in reality be considered “extrajudicial killings.”
Major Jewish Group Urges Sweden to Exhibit ‘Respect for Israel’s Proven Commitment to Rule of Law’
A major Jewish human rights organization turned up the pressure on Sweden on Wednesday with a letter to its prime minister demanding a different attitude towards the Jewish state and its response to terrorism.
“We urge you to ensure that official Swedish statements demonstrate respect for, and knowledge of, Israel’s proven commitment to the rule of law, support for its security challenges, even as it faces armed threats on a scale which Sweden is fortunate not to know,” wrote Anti-Defamation League CEO and national director Jonathan A. Greenblatt.
Greenblatt was responding to Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallström, who criticized Israel’s response to the random stabbings, car-rammings and shootings which have been convulsing the country for months as possible “extrajudicial killings,” a claim an Israeli Foreign Ministry official told The Algemeiner played into the hands of Palestinian incitement.
“Sweden is joining the worst Palestinian incitement suggesting Israel is randomly shooting innocent Palestinians in the streets and planting knives in their hands to frame them,” the official said.
MK, youth activists rally outside Swedish embassy; demand FM's resignation
Yisrael Beytenu MK Oded Forer, along with several dozen youth activist from the party, held a rally outside the Swedish Embassy in Tel Aviv Friday demanding the resignation of its Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom after she made remarks concerning the extrajudicial killing of Palestinians during a wave of recent violence.
“The Swedish foreign minister, with her anti-Semitic remarks, proves that she has no understanding of the reality,” Forer said. “She closes her eyes in the face of terror, and will only wake up when the terror comes to her home. She ought to quit immediately.”
Meanwhile, protesters chanted “Israel — democratic. Sweden — hypocritical,” and "Wake up Europe."
Sweden’s Israel-bashing FM named in Stockholm housing scandal
Sweden’s Foreign Minister Margot Wallström, currently embroiled in a bitter dispute with Israel over her criticisms of its policies on the Palestinians, was named Friday in a domestic scandal involving unfair procedures for the renting out of apartments in Stockholm.
An anti-corruption group urged that she be probed for possible bribe-taking. Wallström denied any wrongdoing.
In an investigation of Sweden’s biggest trade union giant Kommunal, which owns several properties in Stockholm, the Aftonbladet daily reported that Wallström and other “high-profile figures” on the political left were given preferential treatment in the rental of apartments. Apartments are in short supply in the Swedish capital, and the favoritism shown to Wallström and others allowed them to bypass a waiting period that typically lasts eight years, the newspaper said.
Wallström acknowledged that she has been renting an apartment from Kommunal since April. “I got confirmation from the highest level that they followed all the rules and procedures in assigning apartments, and that I was not going to jump ahead of anyone on the waiting list,” she was quoted as telling Sweden’s TT news agency. “They lied to me about this… I am angry and disappointed.”
Watchdog: French Consulate Supports Group that Undermines Israel’s Sovereignty, Democracy
The French Consulate in Jerusalem is helping the NGO Breaking the Silence wage a “demonization campaign” against Israel, undermining the Jewish state’s sovereignty and threatening its democracy, Gerald Steinberg, president of the watchdog group NGO Monitor, wrote Thursday in The Times of Israel.
According to Steinberg, in 2015 the French Consulate donated 15,000 Euros to Breaking the Silence, a group that has been criticized for sharing anonymous, unverifiable testimonies “[denouncing] the Israeli Defense Forces as war criminals,” primarily before foreign audiences. In a recent Wall Street Journal op-ed, Steinberg revealed that the group receives the majority of its funding from the European Union.
Steinberg observed that an equivalent situation, in which a group that accuses France of systemic war crimes and works with organizations that support a boycott of Paris would be funded by other members of the European Union, is entirely unrealistic. “[F]oreign governments do not give taxpayer monies to a non-governmental organization (NGO) in another democracy to promote a particular political cause or lobby on legislation,” he explained, before pointing out that some do exactly that in Israel.
New Study Details French Jewish Community ‘Living With a Strong Feeling of Insecurity’
A new book called L’an prochain à Jérusalem? (“Next Year In Jerusalem?”) by the pollster Jérôme Fourquet and geographer Sylvain Manternach, argues that French Jewry is moving increasingly to the right at a time when the community is “living with a strong feeling of insecurity,” one year after the attack on the Hyper Cacher kosher supermarket in Paris that left four dead, and amid continued acts of anti-Semitism.
The book—based on a survey of 724 French Jews conducted by the polling company Ifop between June and August of 2015 for the Fondation Jean-Jaurès (which is affiliated with the Socialist Party)—is unusual in that France does not tend to poll on the basis of race or religion; after all, this would smack of tribalism and anti-republicanism. It was the first time Ifop has looked into the Jewish community’s religious, political, and social composition, following surveys about the Catholic and Arab-Muslim vote.
The Ifop survey titled “Enquête auprès des juifs de France” reveals a community, largely Sephardi (41%) but increasingly of mixed background (14%), in a comfortable economic and educational position overall, still sending their children to public schools (65%) and ahead of the country in terms of feeling at peace with their household income. At the same time, there is a widespread fear about security, and concern about the levels of anti-Jewish and indeed anti-Muslim feeling in French society.
Sixty-three percent of those polled reported being insulted for being Jewish, and more than half reported being subjected to anti-Semitic threats. Anti-Semitism is perceived to come from the far right and those of Muslim origin, although a majority of French Jews said that Muslims live peacefully in France, and that it is only the radicalized who constitute a menace.
Marseille supporters urged to wear kippahs to upcoming match
All supporters of Marseille soccer team are being urged to wear kippahs to a forthcoming match in a sign of solidarity with the city’s Jewish community, following a spate of anti-Semitic attacks in Marseille and elsewhere in France.
According to Hebrew language sports website One, the call for a mass wearing of Jewish skullcaps to the Wednesday, January 20 cup tie against Montpellier was issued Thursday by the official supporters organization.
The idea arose in the wake of Monday’s stabbing of Orthodox Jew Benjamin Amsellem in Marseille by a teenager who said he was inspired by the Islamic State terror group.
After that attack, Zvi Ammar, president of the Marseille office of the Consistoire — a community organization responsible for providing religious services — called on the city’s Jews to stop wearing their kippas “in these troubling times.”
What Détente With Iran Really Means
So long as the U.S. is acquiescing to a continuing Iranian nuclear program that will likely yield them the bomb they want after the deal expires in a decade there is no reason to antagonize the Americans in a way that would undermine Obama’s appeasement policy.
But by airing the humiliating photos and video, the Iranians were sending the region a message that put an exclamation point on other recent developments. Saudi Arabia already feels abandoned, leading it to extreme actions against Iranian allies that make the region more dangerous. It also reminded Iran’s Hezbollah auxiliaries and Hamas allies that they needn’t fear America anymore than Tehran does.
An Iran that is strong enough and secure enough in its moral supremacy over the Americans doesn’t need to take any more American hostages. But it can throw its weight around in Iraq and Syria in such a way as to make its drive for regional hegemony even more credible. What the Saudis and other Arab governments, as well as Israel, are seeing is an America that is solely interested in good relations with Iran. The Americans are perceived as merely grateful that Iran isn’t holding onto stray naval vessels while letting Iran do what it wants throughout the region.
What the naval incident proves is that Obama has set a very low standard for Iranian good behavior. As much as Americans should be glad about the sailors going free, they need to understand that on other issues of substance that speak to Iran’s ability to impose an axis of its allies across the region, the U.S. has gotten nothing for all of the gifts it is bestowing on the Islamist regime in the nuclear deal. The post-deal environment is one in which Iran has gotten stronger. A strong Iran doesn’t need to hold sailors. It’s already picked America’s pocket.
Phyllis Chesler: Hijab in the US navy
Dr. Walid Phares, on Facebook, called my attention to the fact that the single American female sailor in the photos is....wearing hijab.
What? Is that regulation American Navy attire for women?
Is this American sailor perhaps a religious Muslim?
No. Iran is demonstrating that it is prepared to enforce its version of Shariah law, even upon infidels, when it has the power to do so.
America, like other Western countries, including Israel, has been busily integrating women into a previously all-male military.
Iran will have none of it. Iran will not recognize the sovereignty of foreign vessels, diplomats, journalists, or the military.
Formerly sanctioned money is flowing into the country and this has empowered Iran, not to become more open and conciliatory, but rather, to show more of its true barbarian colors.
Iran will put women in their place wherever and whenever it can as a way of declaring war upon despised Western customs such as that of gender equality.
King Obama is making no principled moves, none at all.
Days Before Sanctions Relief, Iran Offers to Upgrade Relations with Hamas Terrorists
Less than a week before the international community is set to lift a decade of sanctions imposed on the Iranian regime, Teheran has pledged greater financial and political support for Hamas in exchange for a clear condemnation of Saudi Arabia, Hamas sources told Breitbart Jerusalem.
Earlier this month, Khaled Kaddoumi, Hamas’ chargé d’affaires in Tehran, met with Foreign Minister Jawad Zarif, who asked him to convey an urgent message to the organization’s leadership in Qatar, the sources said.
In the message, the Iranians pledged that in exchange for an overt anti-Saudi stance by Hamas, they would increase financial support for the terrorist group and, more importantly, recognize the movement as the legitimate representative of the Palestinian people, at the expense of the PLO and the Palestinian Authority, whose president Mahmoud Abbas is resolutely in the Saudi camp.
Hamas’ diplomatic leader, Khaled Mashaal, submitted the Iranian missive to the organization’s leadership in Gaza, the West Bank, and abroad, which gave rise to disagreements between the different branches, Hamas sources said. Most of the leaders in Gaza view Iran’s offer favorably, the sources added.
Iranian General Says Tehran Recruiting Thousands of Proxy Fighters Across Middle East
A senior Iranian military official said that Tehran has succeeded in recruiting thousands of proxy fighters, semi-official Fars News Agency reported on Tuesday.
Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari, the commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, said that recent sectarian conflicts have increased the “revolutionary awareness” of the Middle East’s Shia youth. As a result, he claimed, Iran has been able to recruit nearly 200,000 fighters from across the region – including in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Afghanistan and Pakistan – to carry out its proxy wars.
Jafari also said he hopes to continue enlisting Iranian and Shia youth in the service of the Islamic Republic, and in the late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s revolutionary ideology.
Iran Rushing to Acquire Military Planes, Weapons Despite Sanctions
Iran is rushing to make weapons purchases prohibited by existing sanctions, the London-based pan-Arab daily Asharq Al-Awsat reported on Wednesday.
The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action and UN Resolution 2231 maintain the arms embargo on Iran for another five years. Nonetheless, Israeli and American sources said that the Tehran regime is already moving to modernize its army’s outdated weaponry through a $21 billion arms acquisition.
They noted that Russia and France have expressed their willingness to fulfill Iran’s needs.
The sources said that Iran has turned to Russia to acquire several weapons systems for the different branches of its armed forces. The expected purchases include Sukhoi-30 fighter planes, T-90 battle tanks and Yakhont anti-ship cruise missiles for its warships. Iran is also negotiating with Moscow to restart domestic production of the older T-72 tanks.
Tehran has also entered into talks with France for the sale of advanced Dassault Rafale jets, they said, according to the report.
Analysts: Nuclear Deal Allows Iran to Hold Obama’s Legacy Hostage
Aaron David Miller, a former State Department official, observed that the “administration is going to remain hostage from now until they leave office to the games the Iranians play and to Iranian behavior that falls outside the four corners of the agreement.”
According to Rogin and Lake, the administration’s reaction to the incident, which included downplaying its significance while seeking to mollify Iran, “is becoming the norm in the U.S.-Iran relationship in the wake of the Iran deal, even as Iran escalates tensions with the U.S. and its allies.”
James Jeffrey, a former U.S. ambassador to Iraq and now a fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, said, “The problem is, all indications are that the Obama administration is changing its overall approach to Iran, not standing up for its own rights.” Jeffrey explained, “A lot of it is, ‘This is our legacy,’ and ‘We can’t let anything get in the way of it.’”
Jeffrey added that Iran is taking advantage of the administration’s commitment to preserving the nuclear deal in order to engage in provocative behavior without fear of consequences.
US lawmakers approve greater oversight of Iran nuclear deal
Lawmakers voted 191-106 Wednesday to approve the Iran Terror Finance Transparency Act, spurning a veto threat from President Barack Obama. The White House said the bill could cause “the collapse” of the July agreement and that the president will reject the legislation if it reaches his desk.
The vote came as the potentially volatile incident in Iran’s territorial waters was swiftly resolved. The 10 US Navy sailors were freed unharmed early Wednesday as the White House cited new lines of communication with Iran established during the nuclear negotiations as key to the speedy resolution.
The vote count fell well short of the number needed to override a veto. Speaker Paul Ryan, determined to keep the House on schedule, had the vote gaveled to a close even though more than 130 lawmakers hadn’t voted. In an unusual parliamentary move, Republican leaders agreed to allow members another opportunity to vote on January 26. The measure’s fate is uncertain in the Senate, where it would be certain to face Democratic delaying tactics.
Obama vows to veto bill to restrict Iran sanctions relief
In its statement released Monday evening, the White House noted that the administration “strongly opposes” the bill, which, it warned, “would prevent the United States from implementing the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) by tying the Administration’s ability to fulfill US commitments under the deal to unrelated, non-nuclear issues.”
The administration said that the bill included provisions “that connect the United States’ JCPOA commitment to provide sanctions relief by delisting certain Iran related individuals and entities, including banks, to non nuclear issues outside of the scope of the JCPOA,” and also provisions that would “effectively preclude delisting of individuals or entities on Implementation Day.”
If the bill passed, the White House warned, the legislation “could result in the collapse of a comprehensive diplomatic arrangement that peacefully and verifiably prevents Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.
John Bolton: The Next President Must Reverse Obama’s Disastrous Iran Policy
Even Iran’s ayatollahs must be amazed at what they have gotten away with since last July’s Vienna deal, which purportedly eliminated their nuclear weapons program. The mullahs now act like they call the shots on the deal and throughout the Middle East. Trashing the Saudi embassy in Tehran, “spontaneous” in appearance only, is just the latest evidence, recalling a 1979 “spontaneous” demonstration that resulted in US diplomats held hostage for 444 days.
Barack Obama repeatedly acquiesces in Iran’s egregious behavior; President-in-waiting Hillary Clinton shows no sign of breaking with him or the Iran policies she initiated as Obama’s secretary of State.
The administration’s latest act of appeasement is to delay new sanctions against Iran for its ongoing ballistic missile development work. This retreat is inexplicable except as part of a desperate effort to keep the Vienna agreement alive no matter what the costs or risks to America and its friends.
For our country’s safety, the Obama-Clinton appeasement of Iran must be central in voters’ minds as they consider candidates for president this November.
Israel to Closely Monitor Impact of Lifting Sanctions on Iran’s Military Posture
The lifting this weekend of economic sanctions that have been imposed on Iran since 2007 will see an estimated $100 billion in frozen funds begin to flow into Tehran’s coffers. Israel will be closely following the money to determine its impact on Iran’s military posture and on its assistance to militant entities on Israel’s borders such as Hamas in Gaza and Hezbollah in Lebanon.
Tehran has already designated $21 billion to rehabilitate its outdated military, writes Alex Fishman, military correspondent of Yediot Achronot. “They desperately need to update and upgrade their weapons systems.”
It is allocations to Hamas and Hezbollah that most immediately concern Israel since these carry the possibility of near-term repercussions. Hamas is reportedly rebuilding its network of attack tunnels destroyed in the Gaza War in 2014—tunnels that will eventually lead under the border into Israel—and is preparing for the next round. Hezbollah has been the recipient over the years from Iran and Syria of some 100,000 rockets but is constantly seeking to expand its arsenal, particularly with guided missiles. Israel has said it will continue to send its air force to interdict shipments of “game-breaking” armaments via Syria to Hezbollah.
Israeli Foreign Ministry Director: Expansionist Iran Wants to Turn Syria Into Iranian Province
“Iran wants to turn Syria into a province of Iran,” said the director-general of the Israeli Foreign Ministry, Dore Gold, on Monday, according to Business Insider.
Iran, said Gold, is “involved in creating a social and political change that incorporates Syria into the Iranian state.”
And Iran’s religious outreach to Syria is not just “a question of building Shi’ite mosques. It’s a question of a permanent deployment against Israel from the north,” he said, referring to the Iranian presence in the Syrian Golan Heights.
“That’s something we cannot accept,” he said, at a talk for the Wilson Center for International Scholars in Washington, DC, according to BI.
Iran’s backing of the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad is well known. The BI article suggested that Gold may have wanted to distinguish Iran’s support for Assad from Russia, which has also launched a military campaign in Syria helping to preserve the Damascus regime and stabilize Syria, but which also shares close military-to-military coordination with Israel, in part to ensure the two countries’ air forces do not accidentally collide.
In other words, Israel believes that whereas Iran may ultimately seek conflict with Israel — Israeli leaders fear a nuclear Iran poses an existential threat to the Jewish state — especially through the terrorist group Tehran helped found in Lebanon in the 1980’s, Hezbollah, Russia probably does not, according to BI. This may have been what Gold wanted to convey to the “potentially influential DC audience” on Monday, according to BI.
Dore Gold – excerpts from event at the Wilson Center, Washington, DC
The Woodrow Wilson Center hosted Dr. Dore Gold, Director General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, who addressed the Center's Joseph and Alma Gildenhorn Middle East Forum, in a program titled, "The Middle East Meltdown: A View from Israel." Selected excerpts. Moderator: Aaron David Miller, Vice President for New Initiatives and a Distinguished Scholar, Woodrow Wilson Center. (January 11, 2016)

Navy: Hezbollah may strike Israeli ships from Syria with Russian made missiles
“Syria possesses Russian-made Yachont missiles, and there is the feeling that they have also made their way into the hands of Hezbollah,” a senior Israel Navy officer told The Jerusalem Post’s Hebrew-language sister publication Ma’ariv.
“In any event, our working assumption is that [the Lebanese Shi’ite organization] will launch those missiles from Syria,” the officer said.
The naval commander listed a number of maritime threats with which Israel must contend, ranging from Hezbollah and Syria in the north to ISIS and Hamas in the south.
When asked if ISIS or any other rejectionist group poses a threat to Israel, the official said: “We are taking into account that anyone holding a weapon will use it at some point.”
The official said that the defense establishment believes the Yachont poses the greatest threat to Israel's ships and submarines, adding that the supersonic cruise missiles are being housed in facilities controlled by the Assad regime.
Egypt thwarts ISIS attack in Sinai
A high ranking Egyptian military official said that the Egyptian military has thwarted an attempted terror attack by ISIS supporters in the Sinai peninsula.
"Our forces began to actively pursue terrorist targets as of this [Thursday] morning, as we know that it was their intention to carry out an attack."
Channel 10 news reported that Egyptian air force jets bombed suspected terror sites that had been set up by supporters of the extremist group southwest of Sheik Zayed in northern Sinai. Witnesses confirmed that parts of the highway that lead from El Arish to Sheikh Zayed were closed by the Egyptian military.

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