Friday, March 11, 2016

From Ian:

The Legal Case for Israel’s ‘Settlements’
Most people around the world firmly hold to the view that Israel’s residential housing communities built in Judea and Samaria/the West Bank are “illegal”.
For years, this fictitious claim has fed a wild campaign of incitement and ‘lawfare’ against Israel, based on the myth that Jews have no legal right to live or make their homes on Palestinian-claimed lands in the West Bank.
But the truth is that Israel isn’t an unlawful occupying power—certainly not according to any binding international laws.
Now, Northwestern University Professor of Law Eugene Kontorovich, a leading expert in the fields of constitutional law, international law, and the intersection of law and economics, is on a speaking tour of universities and colleges to explain why.
International Law Issues in the Israeli/Palestinian Conflict, with Eugene Kontorovich
Eugene Kontorovich is a professor at Northwestern Law whose research spans the fields of constitutional law, international law, and law and economics. He has authored a series of papers that extend "transaction cost" analysis from private law to constitutional law. He speaks and writes about contemporary law issues in the Israeli/palestinian conflict, including the BDS Movement, Palestinian statehood, and Israel's borders.

UC-Davis: Protesters shout “Allahu Akbar” and “Long Live Intifada” at Israeli speaker
Disruption of Israeli or pro-Israel speakers and events is becoming all too common on college campuses, including by groups like Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) and similar groups. The purpose is to make sure that Israeli and pro-Israel points of view cannot be presented without incident, and to create a campus climate of intimidation.
We have reported on several such recent disruptions, including at University of Minnesota Law School, UT-Austin, Kings College (London), U. Windsor, University of South Florida, and an LGBTQ Shabbat Event in Chicago. Even events that are not disrupted are protested, such as the appearance of actor Michael Douglas and human rights hero Natan Sharansky at Brown University
The latest was the disruption of an appearance at UC-Davis by Israeli diplomat George Deek, who also happens to be an Arab Christian.
Israel On Campus Coalition reports:
Earlier this week, Israeli-Arab diplomat George Deek was shouted down by students affiliated with Students for Justice in Palestine at UC Davis. The SJP members, who called out “Long live the Intifada,” refused to engage with George, who came to Davis to discuss the need for mutual respect, dialogue, and understanding.
Legal Insurrection obtained the following video from someone in the room:

You’ll Never Guess Who’s Advising the New Herzl Biopic
Good news! A biopic of Theodor Herzl, Zionism’s founding father, is in the works, and Variety has reported that Sidney Blumenthal will be an advisor to the film “in order to deal with potentially incendiary nature of the subject matter.”
In other Hollywood news:
— In order to deal with potentially incendiary nature of The Revenant, the producer assembled an advisory board for the project that includes an angry bear.
— In order to deal with potentially incendiary nature of a new documentary about empowering women, the producer assembled an advisory board for the project that includes Bill Cosby.
— In order to deal with potentially incendiary nature of Bowling for Columbine, the producer assembled an advisory board for the project that includes Ted Nugent, Charlton Heston, and a .45 Colt.
— In order to deal with potentially incendiary nature controversial nature of Selma, the producers have hired Uncle Tom as a consultant.

David Frum: The Disappointment of Barack Obama
About a quarter way into Jeffrey Goldberg’s intimate profile of President Obama, Goldberg mentions German Chancellor Angela Merkel: “one of the few foreign leaders Obama respects.”
Thirty-five years ago, The Atlantic ran one of the most famous interviews in the history of journalism: Bill Greider’s “The Education of David Stockman.” Goldberg’s interviews deserve to become equally famous, perhaps under the heading: “The Disappointment of Barack Obama.” For the dominant theme of these interviews is that we, all of us, have grievously let down the president.
Obama, concludes Goldberg, “has found world leadership wanting: global partners who often lack the vision and the will to spend political capital in pursuit of broad, progressive goals, and adversaries who are not, in his mind, as rational as he is.” The good news is that these inadequate partners and purblind adversaries will soon suffer their comeuppance: “What they don’t understand is that history is bending in his direction.”
The trouble is that this historical consummation seems to be rather slow in arriving. Across Europe and the Middle East, old friends and new worry that under President Obama the United States has lost its bearings and its will. “I think I believe in American power more than Obama does,” Goldberg quotes the King of Jordan as saying—and he is not alone. Obama is obviously aware of the growing level of concern that he has set the United States adrift. The president insists that the United States, not its geopolitical rivals, continues to set the agenda for G20 meetings. When it comes to clerical tasks, the U.S.A. apparently remains No. 1. And to those impatient with the gaps in his leadership, Obama replies with scorn: They’re mad at him? No! He’s the one who’s mad at them!
Elliott Abrams: Obama gratuitously harms alliances
Obama seems "openly contemptuous" of anyone who disagrees with him, and has seemed so for ‎seven years. The problem in his eyes is not that there are tough policy questions, and ‎difficult decisions, and several sides to hard questions. Nope, there is his view and there are ‎the ignorant, unintelligent views of those who differ, of whom he is indeed "openly ‎contemptuous."‎
Those who think the tone of American politics is ugly because participants disrespect each ‎other might consider how much of that tone originates with or is worsened by the president.‎
In any event, his comments in this interview will not help the national security interests of ‎the United States. They will undermine the confidence of allies. It is anyone's guess why he felt ‎that these thoughts should have been spoken now.‎
Obama sees Netanyahu as most disappointing of all Mideast leaders — report
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “is in his own category” when it comes to the Middle East leaders who have most deeply disappointed President Barack Obama, according to a major overview of the Obama presidency, featuring numerous interviews with the president, published online Thursday by The Atlantic.
In the piece, headlined “The Obama Doctrine,” writer Jeffrey Goldberg goes to great lengths to trace the president’s growing disillusionment, over the course of his presidency, with the possibility of changing the region for the better. “Some of his deepest disappointments concern Middle Eastern leaders themselves,” Goldberg writes. Of these, “Benjamin Netanyahu is in his own category.”
According to Goldberg, “Obama has long believed that Netanyahu could bring about a two-state solution that would protect Israel’s status as a Jewish-majority democracy, but is too fearful and politically paralyzed to do so.”
Will Obama Try to Blackmail Israel?
President Obama is looking at the fires he lit in the Middle East and North Africa, and desperately hoping to salvage something, anything, from the conflagration before he leaves office. Israel will be pushed to provide at least one "victory."
Iran has come closer to nuclear weapons competence in the past eight years. And Obama's abandonment of dissidents and pro-democracy advocates in Cuba, Venezuela, China, Turkey and Iran paves the way for waves of repression and bloodshed around the world.
It is estimated that more than 17,000 civilians were killed in Iraq in 2014, four times as many as 2012, after the U.S. withdrew its combat forces. This is a far cry from 2011, when Obama announced the U.S. was leaving a "sovereign, stable and self-reliant Iraq."
He needs to find a "success." Cue the Middle East "peace process."
In Atlantic interview, Obama talks Iran, Cairo speech and Netanyahu
If there is a country that is subject to a lot of criticism from Obama, it's Saudi Arabia. Goldberg cites a conversation between Obama and Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, in which the latter asked Obama, "Aren't the Saudis your friends?" Obama responded by saying, "It's complicated."
The article then quotes Obama saying that the Saudis should "share" the region with Iran: "The competition between the Saudis and the Iranians -- which has helped to feed proxy wars and chaos in Syria and Iraq and Yemen -- requires us to say to our friends as well as to the Iranians that they need to find an effective way to share the neighborhood and institute some sort of cold peace."
As the interview goes on, it seems that Obama regrets some of the decisions he has made regarding the Middle East. For example, Goldberg writes, "When I asked Obama recently what he had hoped to accomplish with his Cairo reset speech, he said that he had been trying -- unsuccessfully, he acknowledged -- to persuade Muslims to more closely examine the roots of their unhappiness."
Obama is then quoted as saying, "My argument was this: Let's all stop pretending that the cause of the Middle East's problems is Israel."
Regarding Syria, which takes up a significant part of the article, Obama believes that America was right not to intervene. "He was tired of watching Washington unthinkingly drift toward war in Muslim countries," Goldberg writes.
Amb. Oren: Obama Misrepresented Israel-Related Contents of 2009 Cairo Speech
President Barack Obama’s claim that he sought to persuade the Arab world to stop viewing Israel as the root of all the Middle East’s ills in his historic 2009 Cairo speech is misleading, former Israeli Ambassador to the United States Michael Oren told The Algemeiner in an interview published on Thursday. According to Oren, the president’s remarks “actually implied the opposite.”
At issue is Obama’s claim, shared during his latest interview with Atlantic journalist Jeffrey Goldberg, that his address called on the Muslim world to “stop pretending that the cause of the Middle East’s problems is Israel.”
“We want to work to help achieve statehood and dignity for the Palestinians,” Obama told Goldberg, “but I was hoping that my speech could trigger a discussion, could create space for Muslims to address the real problems they are confronting—problems of governance, and the fact that some currents of Islam have not gone through a reformation that would help people adapt their religious doctrines to modernity. My thought was, I would communicate that the U.S. is not standing in the way of this progress, that we would help, in whatever way possible, to advance the goals of a practical, successful Arab agenda that provided a better life for ordinary people.”
However, Oren pointed out that “The Cairo speech is the foundational document of the Obama administration’s Middle East policy, and it is based on linkage: that everything in the region is linked to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and therefore if you solve it, you will solve the region’s problems.”
Donald Trump cites Ivanka’s Jewish family in defense of ‘neutral’ stance on Israel
Donald Trump maintained that he would be a neutral broker of Israeli-Palestinian peace — parrying tough criticism from his rivals by noting his love for Israel and his daughter Ivanka Trump’s Jewish family.
Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, was the first to challenge the real estate magnate on his Israel posture in the debate broadcast by CNN on Thursday from Miami, ahead of March 15 primaries in three states with substantial Jewish populations: Florida, Ohio and Illinois.
“On Israel, Donald has said he wants to be neutral between Israel and the Palestinians,” Cruz said.
“As president, I will not be neutral,” Cruz said, and cited the murder in a terrorist attack in Israel this week of Taylor Force, an American tourist from Cruz’s home state, Texas.
“He was an Eagle Scout, he was a West Point graduate, he was an Army veteran,” Cruz said. “He was murdered by a Palestinian terrorist this week in Israel, and I don’t think we need a commander in chief who is neutral between the Palestinian terrorists and one of our strongest allies in the world, the nation of Israel.”
Trump Booed at Debate When He Claims to Be Most Pro-Israel Candidate
Donald Trump’s contention that he was the most pro-Israel Republican at Thursday night’s CNN debate was met with boos by the Miami, Florida crowd in attendance.
Radio host Hugh Hewitt brought up Taylor Force, the Army Veteran and Vanderbilt graduate student killed by a Palestinian terrorist this week in Tel Aviv, and he mentioned that the Israelis said the Palestinian Authority was inciting such attacks. Trump had previously stated he wanted to be a “neutral” force in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict if he were president.
“Do you still want to stay neutral when the Palestinian Authority is inciting these attacks?” Hewitt asked.
“First of all, there’s nobody on this stage that’s more pro-Israel than I am, OK? There’s nobody,” Trump said, as scattered boos came from the audience. “I am pro-Israel.” Trump briefly paused, and he continued speaking.

IsraellyCool: WATCH: Marco Rubio: “There Is No Peace Deal Possible With The Palestinians At This Moment”
Again, I am not endorsing any particular candidate – I am Aussie Dave, not American Dave after all – but on the issue of Israel, Marco Rubio seems the strongest to me.
He gets it.
Note how he referred to the land commonly called “the West Bank” as Judea and Samaria, it’s real name.
Color me impressed.

Sanders To Dearborn Muslims: Israel's Existence To Blame For Mideast 'Hatred And Warfare'
Indirectly invoking the left-wing and Islamic narrative of Israel’s existence as the cause of political dysfunction in the Middle East, Senator Bernie Sanders implied to supporters at a campaign rally on Monday in Dearborn, Michigan - home of one of the nation’s largest Arab and Muslim communities - that “hatred and warfare” in the Middle east region were the fault of Israel.
Praising former Democrat presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton for their presumably good faith-endeavors to resolve the Israeli-Arab conflict, Sanders implied that America unjustifiably treated the various parties unequally.
In other words, allegedly favorable treatment of Israel at the expense of its Arab enemies needed to change. Moral relativism was also deployed via implication, declaring all sides as entitled to equal treatment.
“For decades now, there has been hatred and warfare in the Middle East,” Sander said. “All I can tell you is I will make every single effort to bring rational people on both sides [of the Israel/Arab conflict] together, so that hopefully we can have through a level playing field - the United States treating everybody in that region equally - hopefully, and I know that there are people of goodwill in Israel and the Arab communities,”
Attributing regional conflict to Israel’s existence by conflating Israel with the entirety of the Middle East, Sanders neglected to comment on the roles of Muslim and Arab social and cultural pathologies driving the “hatred and warfare” of the region.
Egyptian TV Host to Clinton: Old Bag, You Are the Cause for What Happened in Syria, Iraq, and Libya
Egyptian TV host Mohamed Al-Ghiety lashed at U.S. presidential candidate Hillary Clinton on his Tahrir TV talk show. In response to the former secretary of state’s defense of the U.S. involvement in the Qadhafi ouster, Al-Ghiety referred to Clinton as an “old bag,” and accused the U.S. of being the cause for what happened in Libya, Iraq, and Syria. “At least 99% of the Libyans,” he said, “long for the days of Qadhafi.” The show aired on March 7.

Florida, Virginia Pass Latest State-Level Anti-BDS Resolutions
The Florida Senate and the Virginia General Assembly this week passed resolutions condemning and taking action against the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, joining a growing trend of US states disavowing BDS.
The Florida Senate adjusted an earlier Florida House version of the state’s measure, adding a call for the withdrawal of a United States Customs and Border Protection policy, “West Bank Country of Origin Marking Requirements,” which currently prevents West Bank products from being labeled as “Made in Israel.”
On Wednesday, the Virginia House passed a resolution condemning the BDS movement and opposing “all attempts to economically and politically isolate Israel within the international arena, including promotion of economic, cultural, and academic boycotts, and all efforts to assault the legitimacy of the State of Israel as the sovereign homeland of the Jewish people.”
Scholar Who Gave Anti-Israel Talk Threatens to Sue Anyone Who Publishes Lecture
A heated controversy has erupted in the wake of a lecture on “Inhumanist Biopolitics: How Palestine Matters” delivered at Vassar College on February 3 by Jasbir K. Puar, Associate Professor of Women’s and Gender Studies at Rutgers University. While Puar’s critics charge that her lecture provided especially offensive examples of contemporary anti-Semitism in the form of age-old anti-Semitic tropes updated and applied to Israel, her supporters insist that her work is based on solid scholarship and that the criticism of her talk at Vassar should be seen as a threat to academic freedom and the right to free speech. But the claim that Puar is merely exercising her academic freedom and right to free speech in her lectures does not seem to imply that everyone should have the right to hear what she has to say: Puar recently cancelled a scheduled lecture on “the biopolitics of debility in Gaza” at Fordham University when the university administration insisted on recording her talk and making it publicly available; and she has also threatened legal action against anyone who would make an existing audio recording of her Vassar lecture public.
The circumstances leading to Puar’s cancellation of her talk at Fordham were reported by the New York Daily News, which had previously published a scathing editorial on her lecture at Vassar. According to the paper’s report, “Fordham President Rev. Joseph McShane has made clear that, as an institution, the school condemns much of Puar’s outlook on Israel,” but that the university was nevertheless prepared to host Puar for a lecture “as a matter of free expression.” However, in the interest of “academic transparency” and in order to shield Puar from the alleged “mischaracterizations” that followed her talk at Vassar, McShane reportedly “directed aides to inform Puar she could speak only if she was recorded and the recording was made public.” Professor Puar preferred to cancel her talk at Fordham.
Puar’s reluctance to be recorded was also highlighted in one of the first reports about her lecture at Vassar, when William A. Jacobson of Legal Insurrection noted that the speaker introducing Puar at Vassar requested that audience members “refrain from recording” Puar’s talk, even though it was explicitly acknowledged that such a recording “is not against the law.” Despite this, an alumni group called Fairness to Israel attended Puar’s talk and prepared a transcript on the basis of a recording that was obtained by the group.
Academic Watchdog Backs Oberlin’s Censure of Professor’s Anti-Semitic Posts
The American Council of Trustees and Alumni on Wednesday backed Oberlin College’s Board of Trustees for condemning Professor Joy Karega’s anti-Semitic social media posts. Oberlin’s trustees denounced Karega’s posts, which were first reported by The Tower two weeks ago, as “anti-semitic and abhorrent” on Saturday.
“Oberlin’s trustees are right,” wrote the academic watchdog group on Twitter. “While respecting academic freedom and due process, they must oppose anti-semitism.”
Oberlin Board of Trustees chair Clyde McGregor said in a statement that the trustees discussed the offensive posts during their quarterly meeting, and concluded that “They have no place at Oberlin.”
“These grave issues must be considered expeditiously,” McGregor noted. “In consultation with President Marvin Krislov, the Board has asked the administration and faculty to challenge the assertion that there is any justification for these repugnant postings and to report back to the Board.”
Airbnb gets over 140,000 signatures on petition to shut down settler rentals
An international coalition of pro-Palestinian groups is demanding that the online vacation rental company Airbnb immediately stop listing properties in West Bank Israeli settlements.
The groups, which include Jewish Voice for Peace and the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, made the demands in a petition delivered to Airbnb offices in London, Paris, San Francisco and Portland, Oregon. The petition has more than 140,000 signatures, the groups said.
“By listing these homes, Airbnb is directly helping Israeli settlers legitimize their occupation of stolen land, contributing to a key piece of the Israeli government’s decades-long policies of occupation, discrimination, and dispossession,” the petition says.
In addition to violating international law, the settlement properties are “literally and completely off-limits” to Palestinian Airbnb users, the petition says.
Airbnb has not issued a response to the petition. However, in January, it said in a press statement: “We follow laws and regulations on where we can do business.”
Approximately 300 settlement properties are listed on Airbnb, many of them labeled as being in Israel rather than specifying they are located outside Israel’s 1967 borders.
Kuwait Airways’ Ban on Israelis — The Cost of Doing Bigotry
Can you envision a New York City where taxi drivers refuse to drive Chinese people? What about a New York City where airlines refuse to let Israelis fly?
One of these is not a hypothetical.
Since 1980, Kuwait Airways Corporation (KAC) has been under contract with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, and granted permit authority by the US Department of Transportation (USDOT), to fly to and from JFK International Airport.
But the privilege to operate out of JFK came with a price: an obligation to abide by Federal anti-discrimination and anti-boycott laws, as well as state human rights and contract laws. Under the US-Kuwait Open Skies Agreement and pursuant to the terms of its lease, KAC thereby became duty-bound to operate in compliance with all applicable laws in effect in New York State and the United States.
Astonishingly, these legal obligations have been defied since day one, as the airline refuses to sell tickets to Israeli nationals. Kuwait Airways is the flag carrier of the state of Kuwait, and is a state-owned entity. The state of Kuwait is a member of the Arab League and a staunch adherent to the Arab League boycott of Israel. Claiming that it must obey its domestic legal obligations to boycott Israel and the Israeli people, the airline has operated daily flights at JFK for more than 36 years, bringing in millions of dollars in revenue, while flagrantly and unabashedly violating the civil rights of Israeli nationals — and US law.
Cosmetics giant Ahava opens plant on Israeli side of Green Line
Ahava, an Israeli cosmetics firm whose products are made in the West Bank, confirmed its plan to open a production line on the Israeli side of the 1967 Green Line.
“In light of expanding production needs due to the success in marketing Ahava products around the world and expected changes in cosmetic product manufacturing standards in certain Western countries, Ahava will establish an additional plant at Kibbutz Ein Gedi,” Haaretz on Thursday quoted an Ahava spokesperson as saying.
Ahava’s plan to open a plant in Ein Gedi was first reported last year by the Globes daily. The firm did not say whether it intends to have the Ein Gedi plant, which will operate on land internationally recognized as belonging to Israel, replace its current factory in Mitzpeh Shalem on land which is widely considered as occupied Palestinian territory.
Ahava has been a target of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel, as well as initiatives targeting only products made by Israelis in the West Bank and other disputed territories, namely the Golan Heights and east Jerusalem.
BDS South Africa’s Terrible Week
I have written here before about the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement in South Africa. This week was supposed to be a good week for its supporters. Israeli Apartheid Week ran from March 1st through the 10th (because in South Africa just one week isn’t enough to unburden oneself of one’s loathing of Israel). The ruling African National Congress had, as it has in prior years, heartily endorsed Israeli Apartheid Week and made members of its executive committee available for various events associated with it. Things were looking up.
But a funny thing happened on the way to the celebration of anti-Israel bias. BDS-South Africa proved that it does not know how to play a winning hand.
The Daily Vox, a South African paper written by and for young people, has been running a series called Apartheid 2.0. The Vox, though it is affiliated with no political party, is no lover of Israel. Indeed, Apartheid 2.0 is about “Palestine, Israel’s settler-colonial project, and apartheid policies over the Palestinian people.” But the editors made the error of running two pieces critical of the BDS movement.
Neither piece was pro-Israel. One ended “Israel must fall.” The other complained that “Zionist influence has strengthened” as a result of the incompetence of the BDS movement.
As if to prove the latter point, BDS-South Africa responded by attacking the paper. When the editors offered Muhammad Desai, a BDS leader (and himself a nasty piece of work) a chance to respond, he consulted his board. Farid Esack, a professor at the University of Johannesburg wrote back to Desai, but copying the Vox: “This is fuckin malicious! Couldn’t these guys have waited a week or two until after IAW to run these piece. Where the hell do they expect us to get the time to do replies in the middle of this week. Just what is their agenda?” BDS-South Africa promptly canceled a previously scheduled online discussion hosted by the Daily Vox.
BDS is known, of course, for not wanting to talk to Zionists, but it turns out, as Azad Essa, executive editor of the Vox, notes, that BDS-South Africa “is not interested in anything that challenges their methods, or logic.”
Arab League declares Hezbollah a terrorist organization
The Arab League on Friday declared Lebanon-based Shiite group Hezbollah as a terrorist organization, a day after the Cairo-based body elected Ahmed Aboul Gheit, a former aide to ousted Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak, as its new leader.
Nearly all members of the pan-Arab body supported the decision, expect for Lebanon and Iraq, who expressed “reservations,” the 22-member bloc said in a statement read out at a news conference by Bahraini diplomat Wahid Mubarak Sayar.
“The resolution of the League’s council [of foreign ministers] includes the designation of Hezbollah as a terrorist group,” the statement said.
Earlier in the day, the Saudi delegation briefly withdrew from discussions to protest against Iraqi Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari’s refusal to label Hezbollah as terrorist.
‘Censure of Gulf states for blacklisting Hezbollah was poorly worded’
The MK said he agreed that his faction’s condemnation of the Gulf states should have been more carefully worded, the insisted the main focus of the text was not to absolve Hezbollah of terrorist activity, but rather to point to the Arab countries’ hypocrisy when dealing with the Islamic State group.
“Hadash issued a statement, a long text, whose subject was not at all Hezbollah, the real issue was Daesh,” he said, referring to the Islamic State by an Arabic acronym. “In the announcement by Hadash there is paragraph that denounces the hypocrisy of the rulers of the Gulf states, including Saudi Arabia, [who] on the one hand, support Daesh and organizations like Daesh, and on the other hand want to be seen as fighting terrorism,” Khenin continued.
“I’m not hiding behind anything, [the statement] was not well-written and that is a shame. If it had gone through some debate the text would have been written otherwise.”
Hadash, which is helmed by Joint List chief MK Ayman Odeh, denounced the blacklisting of the Lebanon-based organization on Monday.
Israel: Iran’s ballistic missile program must be stopped
In a statement, the Foreign Ministry said the missiles that were tested could carry a nuclear warhead, and were capable of hitting Israel and much of the Middle East.
“The missile launches over the past few days represent a clear violation of Security Council Resolution 2231, which adopted the nuclear deal between Iran and world powers,” it said. “The decision bars Iran from firing missiles that have the capability to carry a nuclear warhead — which are precisely the missiles they fired.”
That Iran is developing missiles that are suited for nuclear warfare “raises a big question about Iran’s intentions to comply fully with its part of the nuclear deal,” it added.
Israel said Iran was “defying” world powers and urged the international community to act “forcefully and determinedly” to halt Iran’s missile activity.

White House under pressure to respond to Iran’s missile tests
Despite pressure from Congress, the Obama administration continued to move slowly toward acknowledging that Iran had violated a UN Security Council resolution prohibiting ballistic missile tests, and gestured toward a moremoderate sanctions response – if any – to Tehran’s actions.
After Iran conducted two ballistic missile tests earlier this week, Congress urged the administration to respond quickly, with at least one prominent senator claiming bipartisan support for new, tougher legislation targeting the Islamic republic.
Iranian media reported that the military had conducted two tests of medium-range ballistic missiles in the past week. Such tests, if confirmed, violate UN Security Council Resolution 2331, which prohibits Iran from further developing its ballistic missile program.
Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), a longtime critic of the administration’s Iran policy, indicated following the second test that there was growing bipartisan interest in tightening sanctions on Iran.
Iran media: Kerry never complained to Zarif over missile tests
Iranian media on Thursday denied reports that US Secretary of State John Kerry protested Iran’s latest long-range missile tests to its foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif a day earlier.
“John Kerry has sent emails to Zarif asking for a telephone call to discuss issues, including Iran’s missile tests, but it did not happen because Zarif is on an official visit,” an Iranian foreign ministry official told Iran’s Students News Agency ISNA, according to a Reuters translation.
Iran state TV trumpeted Wednesday’s test as officials boasted that it demonstrated the country’s might against Israel, with at least one missile emblazoned with the words “Israel must be wiped off the face of the earth,” the Fars news agency reported.
WSJ Editorial: Ballistic Missile Tests Show that Iranian “Moderates” Work with Hardliners
Following this week’s ballistic missiles tests by Iran, which came after President Hassan Rouhani ordered his military to step the development of the weapons, an editorial in The Wall Street Journal observed that “moderation, Iranian-style, is relative.”
“Tehran’s show of force—it also tested missiles on Tuesday—are not the work of the usual ‘hardline’ suspects. Iran tested ballistic missiles last fall in violation of a U.N. Security Council resolution,” the editorial noted on Thursday. “[In] January Mr. Rouhani publicly ordered his defense minister to speed up missile testing and production,” again in defiance of a United Nations Security Council resolution.
Rouhani’s order to accelerate Iran’s ballistic missile program in December breached the terms of UN Security Council resolution 2231, which implemented the nuclear deal and “[called] upon Iran not to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using such ballistic missile technology.”
In August, a month after agreeing to the nuclear deal, Rouhani expressed his opposition to any internationally imposed restrictions on Iran’s development of ballistic missiles, declaring, “We will buy, sell and develop any weapons we need and we will not ask for permission or abide by any resolution for that.”
BBC News promotes Iranian missile ‘deterrent’ propaganda
Notably, the BBC elected not to tell its audiences about an additional segment of AP’s reporting of the material put out by the semi-official Fars news agency which rather contradicts the passive messaging of ‘deterrence’ seen in the BBC’s coverage.
“Fars quoted Amir Ali Hajizadeh, the head of the Revolutionary Guard’s aerospace division, as saying the test was aimed at showing Israel that Iran could hit it.
“The 2,000-kilometer (1,240-mile) range of our missiles is to confront the Zionist regime,” Hajizadeh said. “Israel is surrounded by Islamic countries and it will not last long in a war. It will collapse even before being hit by these missiles.””

Speaking to the ISNA agency, Hajizadeh apparently added: “The reason we designed our missiles with a range of 2,000 kms is to be able to hit our enemy the Zionist regime from a safe distance.”
It is of course precisely such omission which last year led a BBC journalist to promote the inaccurate claim that Israel is “not under threat by Iran”.
Iran’s Supreme Leader: ‘We Must Have Relations With Whole World, Except America and Zionist Regime’
Iran’s top cleric announced that Tehran “must have relations with whole world except the United States and the Zionist regime,” the semi-official state news agency Mehr reported on Thursday.
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei made this statement during a meeting of the newly elected Assembly of Experts, the body charged with appointing the supreme leader.
According to Mehr, Khamenei also said that “maintaining Revolutionary features, Jihadi movement, preserving national and Islamic dignity and identity, and avoiding dangerous dissolution into [the world’s] cultural, economic and political” systems constitute progress. “According to accurate info, the United States and the Arrogance front have serious plot to infiltrate, but it will not be in for of a coup; because they know that it is impossible to conduct a coup in the Islamic Republic structure.”
He also reiterated the way Iran needs to confront such a “plot.”
US official: Iran responsible for cyberattack at NY dam
A probe by the Justice Department has determined that Iran was responsible for a 2013 cyber attack on a dam in the suburbs outside of New York City, and an indictment is expected soon, a US official told The Associated Press Thursday.
The official, who was briefed on the investigation, spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because the official was not authorized to speak publicly about the ongoing criminal investigation.
In 2013, hackers accessed the control system at the Bowman Avenue Dam, a small structure in Rye Brook, about 20 miles north of New York City, that’s used for flood control.
The intrusion allowed the hackers to probe the system, prompting a federal investigation.
US Court Orders Iran to Pay $10.5 Billion to Sept. 11 Families, Insurers
US District Judge George Daniels in New York on Wednesday issued a default judgment against Iran for $7.5 billion that will go to the estates and families of World Trade Center and Pentagon Victims, and $3 billion to insurers including Chubb Ltd. that paid property damage, business interruption and other claims for the 9/11 losses, Bloomberg reported.
The payments to families and estates include $2 million to each estate for the victims’ pain and suffering as well as $6.88 million in punitive damages.
The judge said that Iran had given active support to the terrorists who brought down the towers and killed close to 3,000 Americans in New York City, Washington and Pennsylvania. He also found that Iran had failed to defend claims that it aided the September 11 hijackers and was therefore liable for damages tied to the attacks.
State Department Refuses to Call Robert Levinson a Hostage

NY homeless man charged with attack on Orthodox Jew
Police arrested a 26-year-old homeless man they said had stabbed three people in New York over the past month, including an Orthodox Jew in Crown Heights.
The suspect, identified as Keny Rochelin, was taken into custody late on Thursday after allegedly stabbing two men in two separate incidents in Prospect Park, the New York Police Department said.
Referencing the earlier, Feb. 10 stabbing of Yehuda Lib Brikman, NYPD Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce told reporters Rochelin “is the person who did that as well, so that closes out a series of stabbings in [and] around Brooklyn.”
According to police, Rochelin on Thursday used a large knife as he passed a 30-year-old jogger on a pedestrian path in a park near Lincoln Road and sliced the hand of the victim, who suffered a defensive wound.
Italian singer who won fame with Auschwitz song to visit former death camp
Award-winning Italian singer-songwriter Francesco Guccini is making his first trip to Auschwitz 50 years after he gained fame in Italy with a popular song about the former Nazi death camp.
Guccini, 75, one of the best-known Italian singer-songwriters of his generation, will be accompanying a so-called Memory Train Holocaust educational trip organized by a trade union association.
On Thursday, he will join high school students and the bishop of Bologna on a train that leaves Milan for the nearly 24-hour journey to Auschwitz, located in southern Poland and now a memorial museum. A number of such Memory Train trips are organized for Italian students each year as part of Holocaust education programs.
Guccini wrote “The Song of the Child in the Wind (Auschwitz)” in 1964, when he was a university student. It was released as the B side of a single in 1966 and appeared on his first album a year later, when he also performed it on TV.
Israeli cycle team to retrace path of Italian champion who saved Jews
Israel’s pro cycling team will cover the route Italian champion road cyclist Gino Bartali took secretly during World War II to save Jews escaping from Nazi persecution.
The March 20 ride by the team, Israel’s first, will begin in Florence, his native town, and finish in Assisi.
“As representatives of Israel and of its cycling movement, we feel obliged to offer something special in memory of an extraordinary sportsman that did so much for the Jewish people,” team manager Ran Margaliot told the Corriere Fiorentino newspaper on Wednesday.
Recognized as a Righteous Among the Nations in 2013, Bartali is one of the most popular cyclists of all time. He won the Tour de France twice, in 1938 and 1948, as well as the Italian Giro d’Italia multi-stage race three times — in 1936, 1937 and 1946.
“Bartali, who was a courier for the resistance, came to play an important role in the rescue of Jews within the framework of the network initiated by Dalla Costa and Rabbi Nathan Cassuto,” Yad Vashem says on its website.
Israeli Holocaust survivor confirmed as world’s oldest man at 112
Guinness World Records has confirmed a 112-year-old Israeli Holocaust survivor as the world’s oldest man.
Yisrael Kristal’s status was verified after documents confirming his age were uncovered in Poland in recent months, Haaretz reported Thursday night.
Kristal’s family say he was born in Poland on September 15, 1903, three months before the Wright brothers took the first airplane flight.
He lived in the country until the Nazi occupation during World War II, when he was eventually sent to the infamous Nazi death camp of Auschwitz.
Formerly, the family’s oldest document was from his wedding at age 25. But Guinness regulations demand documentation from the first 20 years of a person’s life.
A new document recently found in a Polish archives showed him to have been a resident of Lodz in 1918, at age 15.
New Israel-Japan agreement follows in wake of Sony deal
When a huge company like Sony buys an Israeli start-up for a rumored $220 million, the Israeli and Japanese governments — even if they had been reluctant in the past to do so — can no longer keep trade between the two countries a secret.
Unable to beat ’em, then, the two governments are joining in the new trading relationship. And this week, officials from the Kansai region of Japan signed a memorandum of understanding on increasing trade and economic ties.
The signing was part of the agenda of a delegation of 30 top Japanese government and business officials who visited Israel this week, which included the Kansai officials — among them representatives from principal Japanese cities like Osaka, Kobe, and Kyoto — as well as executives from electronics firms Panasonic and Hitachi, and representatives of Japan’s National Export Agency.
As a result of recent activity, Japan has become an important trade partner for Israel, according to the Foreign Trade Administration. In 2015, Israeli exports to the island country reached some $770 million. Imports to Israel reached $1.3 billion. The main export sectors are optics and lab equipment, electric and mechanical machines, and medical and pharmaceutical supplies.
One in four life science innovations has Israeli roots, says expert
Few people realize that more than one out of every four of the medicines, treatments, and technologies in use today have Israeli roots.
“Research in Israel is present in between 25% and 28% of the world’s successful biotech-based solutions,” according to Ruti Alon, a General Partner at Pitango Venture Capital and chairperson of the upcoming IATI-Biomed Conference, set to take place in Tel Aviv in May. “Many of the patents in pharmaceuticals that are now being used to treat cancer, heart problems, and much more were developed at Israeli institutions like Hebrew University or the Weizmann Institute,”
“All of the big pharma and health tech firms, from Merck to Pfizer to Sanofi, and many more, have R&D centers in Israel, and there are dozens, if not hundreds of start-ups that over the years have come up with unique solutions to some of the most pressing problems in biotech,” said Alon.
Some of those solutions and patents are part of the main treatments in some of the world’s most devastating diseases.
Kicking Medieval Jews out of Europe damaged the economy...and the effects are still seen TODAY: Regions that expelled them have lower GDP than those that didn't
They have suffered a long history of persecution and, in some cases, Jews were actively expelled from entire regions of Medieval Europe.
But cities that tolerated and allowed Jewish communities to flourish may still be reaping the benefits today, according to a new academic paper.
It argues that in these areas, Jewish communities were instrumental in the establishment of some of the early banks during the Renaissance and the effects are still noticeable in modern economies.
Professor Luigi Pascali, an economist at the University of Warwick and Pompeu Fabra University in Barcelona, claims the presence of Jewish moneylenders and pawnbrokers during the 1500s resulted in more credit being available in municipalities.
This flow of cash ensured that productivity and income was able to increase.
Speaking to MailOnline, Professor Pascali said: 'I argue that cities, in which the local Jewish community in 1500 caused an early development of the banking sector, have more banks today and, because of this, are more developed today.

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