Tuesday, August 02, 2016

From Ian:

PMW: PA TV falsifies video and lies to its viewers
A Palestinian father pushed his 4-year-old son toward armed Israeli soldiers on Friday, encouraging his son to throw stones at the soldiers. At the same time, he taunted the Israeli soldiers to shoot at his son, calling out to them: "Shoot this little boy, after all you always do that to small children."
However, when the little boy reached one of the Israeli soldiers, the soldier stretched out his hand to the boy who immediately "high fived" and shook the soldier's hand. Finally, when the boy fulfilled his father's instructions to throw stones, he threw the stones at the empty field and not at the soldiers.
Palestinian Media Watch has viewed two video versions of this incident. The unedited version appears as described above and was published on the Facebook page of Israeli Army Spokesperson and Head of the Foreign Press Branch Lt. Col. Peter Lerner. However, official PA TV did not want its viewers to see a friendly handshake between a young Palestinian child and an Israeli soldier, so they distorted the footage. In slow motion, PA TV showed the Israeli soldier reaching out his hand to the Palestinian boy, but then jumped a few seconds ahead so it seems as if the boy never shook the soldier's hand. The PA TV reporter completed the deception by lying to the viewers, claiming the boy refused to shake hands with the soldier:
PA TV falsifies video to hide handshake between Israeli soldier and boy

Palestinian Child Terrorists: Children Who Kill and Their Adult Enablers
The most recent wave of Palestinian terrorism that began in September 2015 – a wave of stabbings and knifings now being emulated in European cities – has a particularly grotesque feature: child terrorists.
Palestinian children who directly perpetrate acts of terrorism, including murder, violate the most fundamental of human rights: the right to life. The Palestinian adults who encourage Palestinian child terrorism violate one of the most fundamental rights of the child: the right not to take part in armed conflict or hostilities.
The Palestinian Authority has supported its claim that "Palestine" is ready for statehood, and responded to the UN General Assembly's formal recognition of "non-member observer state" status of the "State of Palestine," by formally acceding to international legal prohibitions on children in armed conflict.
In violation of those legal obligations there have been at least 36 separate terrorist attacks by Palestinian children...
The Secretary-General's report is due to be taken up by the Security Council on Tuesday, August 2, 2016.
Abbas and the strategy of falsehood
The State of Israel would have been established with or without the Balfour Declaration. As David Ben-Gurion, then-chairman of the Jewish Agency, testified before a royal British committee in 1937, "Our right to Eretz Israel does not derive from the [British] mandate and the Balfour Declaration. It predates those. ... The Bible, which was written by us, in our own Hebrew language and in this very country, is our mandate."
Abbas certainly knows that the founding of the State of Israel was not the result of the Balfour Declaration, but raising these claims about the declaration, within the legal and historical spectrums, is meant to give weight to the claim that the founding of the State of Israel supposedly robbed the Palestinian "nation" of its land, its sovereignty and its historical purpose.
Nonetheless, this is not just about rewriting history, but practical tactics, because if the validity of the Balfour Declaration is undermined, the logical conclusion is that the Jews do not have a right to a state in any part of "Palestine," not even within the framework of "two states for two peoples."
This, by the way, is also the intention of the boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement, which is raging in different parts of the world, including in the U.S., and is not a struggle against the "occupation," but rather meant to undermine the right of the State of Israel to exist. This sentiment is the only reason Abbas refuses to hold true peace negotiations with Israel and various Arab leaders throughout recent decades rejected all the agreements and compromises offered by the State of Israel, the Zionist entities that preceded her or other international bodies. One of the lessons we should learn from all this is that the Palestinians' disregard for international agreements puts the value of any agreements with them into question.

Douglas Murray: The post-terror ‘good news’ story came from Islam’s most persecuted sect
A few months back, after the Brussels terrorist attacks, I pointed out on Coffee House that there is a certain routine after any such atrocity. One part of it is that, after a couple of days pause, we always get the ‘Muslim good news story’. This is the part when after a couple of days of everyone insisting Islam has nothing to do with the Islamist attack the national and international media gets to run almost as big a story suggesting that although Islam is not part of any problem, it is, however, a very major answer to almost everything.
Fortunately the slaughter of Father Jacques Hamel last week has already got its good news story. Near the top of the news agenda on Sunday was news that Muslims had attended mass across France and Italy in solidarity. It is the sort of heart-warming news story to which the media these days is enormously attracted and, therefore, enormously vulnerable.
I have been scouring through these stories and the striking thing about them is that in most cases the Muslim attendees at mass appear to have been – as I would have expected them to be – Ahmadiyya Muslims. This is the persecuted sect which many Muslims regard as non-Muslims and who are subjected to severe persecution around the world from other Muslims. Even here in the UK. Despite being a tiny minority sect within Islam they are also – as I have pointed out here before – the group which is almost always behind any positive outreach from the Muslim communities in Europe.
French Muslims’ anti-jihad letter omits Jewish victims
A leader of French Jews criticized Muslim intellectuals whose petition against local jihadists omits any mention of anti-Semitic violence.
The petition, signed by dozens of academics and celebrities, appeared Sunday in the Journal de Dimanche under the title “We, French-Muslims, are ready to assume our responsibilities.” In it, the co-signatories lamented the perceived weakness of the institutions of their faith communities in stopping extremists from acting violently in Islam’s name.
The text begins by listing five recent terrorist attacks: The Charlie Hebdo killings in January 2015, the bombing and shooting attacks in November, the murder of two police officers in June, the Nice promenade attacks last month, and last week’s slaying of a priest.
It makes reference neither to the murder of four Jews in a kosher supermarket, the Paris Hyper Cacher, after the Charlie Hebdo massacre, nor to the execution of three children and a rabbi in Toulouse in 2012 – both perpetrated by radical Islamists.
PreOccupiedTerritory: France Removes Jewish Citizens From WWII Death Statistics (satire)
Following the omission of Jews from the litanies of terrorist attack victims in France over the last several years, the country’s official historians have similarly revised downward the tally of World War Two dead among French citizens so as not to include Jews.
French State Historian J’hais Lesjuifs released a memo to his staff today saying that as a result of the reorientation toward Jews as not worthy of being listed among other French victims, his office decided to decrease the official French death toll in the Second World War from approximately 600,000 to less than 530,000, to reflect the deletion of Jews from the statistics.
“In keeping with our newfound – which is to say, rediscovered – honesty over how this society feels about Jews, my office has elected to revise downward the tally of dead French citizens in World War Two,” the memo read, in part. “A footnote, the location and prominence of which has yet to be determined, will advise the reader where to look for information on Jews in France at that time who died as a result of the war.”
More than 300,000 Jews lived in France at the outbreak of hostilities with Nazi Germany in 1940. The Wehrmacht overran France in a matter of days during the winter of that year, and began instituting anti-Jewish discrimination policies aimed at separating the Jews from the rest of French society – both in the Nazi-occupied north half of France and the collaborationist-governed south. Eventually more than 70,000 Jews from France met their deaths at the hands of the Nazis and their collaborators, mostly as a result of being deported to extermination camps in Poland. The sense, however, that the Jews have never really been French enough did not abate in the decades since, and that sensibility has begun to reemerge, say commentators.
Pope Francis Says Wrong to Identify Islam With Violence
Pope Francis on Sunday stressed that he will not associate the religion of Islam with terrorism.
“It’s not right to identify Islam with violence. It’s not right and it’s not true,” Pope Francis said to reporters at a press conference aboard the papal plane as he returned home from his first visit to Poland last week.
Pope Francis replied to a question on why he did not link the term Islamic terrorism with last week’s terror attack in a Catholic church in Normandy, France, in which a priest was murdered by two suspects in the name of the Islamic State terror group.
“Terrorism grows when there is no other option, and to the extent the world economy has at its center the god of money and not the person,” he said. “This is fundamental terrorism, it is against all humanity.”
Pope Francis also said that there are small fundamentalist groups in most religions, including Catholicism, and that not all Muslims are violent just like not all Catholics are violent.
“I don’t like to talk of Islamic violence because every day, when I go through the newspapers, I see violence, this man who kills his girlfriend, another who kills his mother-in-law,” Francis said, in apparent reference to crime news in the predominantly Catholic country of Italy. “And these are baptized Catholics,” Pope Francis said.
“If I speak of Islamic violence, I should speak of Catholic violence.”
He also said that the Islamic State is one of those fundamentalist groups that do not represent Islam, adding that the imams he has spoken to want peace.
NYT Columnist: If We Honor Slain French Priest, The Terrorists Will Win
Paul Vallely, a prominent papal biographer and academic, urged against calls to canonize Fr. Jacques Hamel in the pages of the New York Times, arguing that lionizing the slain French cleric aides the cause of extremists.
Hamel was killed July 26 when ISIS-aligned knifemen stormed his quiet country church in northern France, slitting his throat as he said Mass.
Vallely was piqued by characterizations of Hamel as a martyr from across the Catholic world and calls to canonize the priest — that is, to make him a saint. He further asserted that referring to Hamel’s death as an “assassination” constituted an unwitting acceptance to the terrorist’s agenda.
“Such calls to canonize the murdered priest are ill advised,” Vallely wrote. “They will only play into the hands of the extremists.”
Vallely admonished against casting the West’s conflict with radical Islam as a clash of civilizations, endorsing Pope Francis’ characterization of the attack as “absurd violence.” The pontiff frequently contextualizes the rising tide of violence in terms of a piecemeal war, spasms of violence precipitated by a failing global economic consensus desperate to preserve viability.
EU anti-Semitism czar: Refugees are not involved in attacks on Jews
Muslim migrants in Europe have so far not committed anti-Semitic acts, the European Union’s chief official responsible for fighting Jew-hatred said. At the same time, however, she called for the establishment of a “proactive” mechanism to transmit Western values to refugees to prevent anti-Semitic incidents from occurring in the future.
“We don’t see anti-Semitic violence from the refugees at the moment, thank God,” Katharina von Schnurbein, the EU’s coordinator on combating anti-Semitism, told The Times of Israel during a recent visit to Israel. “But at the same time we do have to adopt a proactive approach in transmitting our values to them, from rule of law to democracy to equality of men and women, and also — no tolerance for anti-Semitism.”
Schnurbein quoted a survey published in July by the Rabbinical Centre of Europe, which indicated that two-thirds of rabbis and community leaders across the continent felt no significant increase in anti-Semitism over the past year. The survey did point to a slight increase in anti-Semitism especially in Western Europe, but that trend did not emanate from refugees.
While conscious of a moral imperative to help those in need, many Jews in Europe are concerned over the massive influx of refugees from Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and other countries where anti-Jewish sentiment is prevalent. In the German town of Ansbach, for instance, a Syrian asylum seeker blew himself up in an apparent terror attack last month, sending shock waves through a country that welcomed over a million refugees.
Amb. Alan Baker: The Curious State Department Announcement on Israeli Settlements
The State Department should be aware of the fact that its repeated questioning of the legality of Israel’s settlement activity and Israel’s claims regarding Jerusalem, in fact, prejudge these central negotiating issues and play into the Palestinian and European denials of Israel’s rights. As such, the State Department statements are the very antithesis of any peace negotiation process and run counter to the professed support by the U.S. of a negotiated, peaceful solution.
In repeatedly and obstinately threatening Israel with a “one-state reality,” the State Department is itself giving credence to a concept that has no basis whatsoever, is totally unrealistic, and runs counter to all the valid negotiated agreements signed between Israel and the Palestinians.
But above all, in fixating on settlements, the State Department is deliberately turning a blind eye to the mortal danger of Islamic terror and hatred of Jews that permeate Palestinian society. In so doing, the Department is, in fact, giving a green light of encouragement to the Palestinian leadership, media and administrative bodies that openly incite, encourage and support terror, violence, and boycotts against Israel.
By the same token, the State Department is giving sanction to the European Union and its constituent member states, as well as to the UN and its specialized agencies to exacerbate their hostile policies against Israel. By their logic, if the U.S. State Department takes such a slanted and hostile position, they can now exacerbate their own hostility towards Israel.
Something appears to be very, very wrong within the State Department.
What the U.S. Retreat from the Middle East Means for Israel
Over the past eight years, America has been steadily disengaging from the Middle East. Among the results, writes Efraim Inbar, are Iranian regional ascendancy, the likelihood of further nuclear proliferation, the rise of Islamic State, an emboldened Russia, and bloody chaos in Iraq, Syria, Yemen, and elsewhere. And then there are the consequences for Israel:
The perception that Washington will come to Israel’s aid in times of need has been a longstanding and important component of Jerusalem’s ability to project a deterrent threat. The new perception of the U.S. administration as a vacillating ally damages that deterrent capability. In addition, Washington’s attempt to compensate its Arab allies for the Iranian nuclear deal by providing them with the latest state-of-the-art weapons erodes Israel’s qualitative advantage.
[But] the U.S. exit from the Middle East ironically also increases Israel’s leeway to do as it sees fit. It is burdened with less of an obligation to weigh the consequences of its own actions on U.S. interests and personnel in the region. Moreover, if the next American administration employs the logic of “offshore balancing,” whereby one country uses favored regional powers to check the rise of potentially hostile powers, Washington’s dependence on Jerusalem is likely to increase, as Israel is the strongest and friendliest military power in a highly volatile region.
Palestinians condemn 'Israelization' of Jerusalem
The Palestinian Authority and members of the Israeli Arab population slammed the Education Ministry for its "Israelizing" policies in education in the eastern part of Jerusalem.
The Palestinian Ministry of Education criticised the Jerusalem policies in a statement published on July 30. The statement was signed by Palestinian Education Minister Sabi Saydem, by several Israeli Arab public figures, and by Israeli-Arab MKs Ahmed Tibi and Jamal Zahalka.
The statement rejected the actions of the city of Jerusalem "against" the Palestinian curriculum in "occupied Jerusalem," as an attempt at the "Israelization" of the Palestinian education.
The statement refers to the education efforts as "distorted" attempts to block the Palestinian curriculum, which praises terrorists and treats Israel as a temporarily occupied area.
Claim: Assad Offers Netanyahu Quiet for Staying Out of Syria Conflict
An Arab-American news site on Friday claimed that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was told by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad that Assad was committed to preserving the ceasefire with Israel and that the Golan Heights would remain a demilitarized zone as long as the Israeli prime minister doesn’t join the efforts to oust the Syrian dictator.
The Washington DC-based Watan weekly cited an unnamed Kuwaiti source who claimed Assad was looking to make a deal with Netanyahu in return for his loyalty. The Syrian president sent the following message to Netanyahu, according to the source: “Help me regain control over my region and I will guarantee quiet for Israel on the Golan Heights.”
The source also said that Israel is concerned over rumors that, in the event Hillary Clinton is elected president, former U.S. ambassador to Israel Martin Indyk will be appointed envoy on the Middle East peace process. Indyk, who also served as assistant secretary of state for Near East affairs in Bill Clinton’s administration, has urged Netanyahu to cede the Golan Heights to Syria.
Saudi Arabia, meanwhile, is reportedly attempting to induce Russia to pull its support for the Assad regime. The Moscow Times reported last week that Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir said his country will offer Russia access to the Gulf Cooperation Council Market and regional investment funds if a compromise can be found on the Syria conflict.
Michael Oren named deputy minister in charge of public diplomacy
Former ambassador to the US and Kulanu party MK Michael Oren was appointed deputy minister in the Prime Minister’s Office and head of public diplomacy on Monday.
The appointment came as the Knesset vote to approve a cabinet reshuffle that saw the Likud and Kulanu parties swap the environmental protection and economy ministries.
Oren was appointed ambassador to Washington by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in 2009, a post he held until 2013. A year later he joined the ranks of the newly formed Kulanu party.
Oren’s exact responsibilities remain unclear, but it appeared as though his function in public diplomacy will help support Netanyahu, who continues to serve as foreign minister, as well as communications and regional affairs minister.
Joint Knesset committee to promote anti-V15 bill
The Knesset Interior Committee approved on Monday the establishment of a joint subcommittee of the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee that will debate the anti-V15 bill. The idea for the subcommittee was brought up at a forum of coalition faction heads and is backed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, with the purpose of expediting the anti-V15 bill, which was approved in a preliminary reading.
The bill, authored by Likud MK Yoav Kisch, focuses on foreign-funded nonprofit political groups that attempt to influence the outcome of Israeli elections and would subject them to the same scrutiny demanded of organizations that fall under existing campaign finance laws.
A recent report from a bipartisan U.S. Senate committee determined that a State Department grant earmarked to promote peace between Israel and the Palestinians had been funneled to the V15 movement, which campaigned against Netanyahu in the 2015 election.
Kisch said that "the Senate report proved how dangerous a phenomenon this is. I will erect a concrete wall to stop the flow of foreign funds devoted to buying power."
With bomb covered in poisoned nails, Palestinian tried to attack Jerusalem tram
A Hebron University student who attempted to bomb the Jerusalem light rail last month sneaked into the capital through a valley east of the city, police revealed Tuesday.
On July 15, Ali Abu Hassan entered Israel through a valley outside of the eastern Tsur Baher neighborhood, with the intention of carrying out an attack in the capital as a form of “revenge for visits by tourists and Israeli Jews to the Temple Mount,” police said in a statement.
He was armed with three pipe bombs he had linked together into one large explosive and had covered with nails and screws dipped in rat poison. “In his bag there were also two knives and a cellphone,” police said Tuesday.
Hassan researched how to make a pipe bomb that would “cause the most, and most effective, damage” on the internet and “even carried out test explosions with a number of bombs in order to check them before entering Israel,” according to a joint Shin Bet-Israel Police investigation.
He worked alone, without any “organizational infrastructure,” police said.
Zoabi reprimanded, not punished, for saying IDF soldiers 'murdered' armed Mavi Marmara activists
MK Haneen Zoabi (Joint List) and other lawmakers were reprimanded by the Knesset Ethics Committee for their behavior during a chaotic Knesset debate in June in which the firebrand legislator said IDF soldiers “murdered.”
The Ethics Committee received an unusually large amount of petitions in relation to the debate, which the panel described as “very severe, and at moments seemed like it could deteriorate into physical violence and undoubtedly harmed the dignity of the Knesset and its members.”
On June 29, in a discussion of the reconciliation agreement with Turkey, Zoabi demanded the government issue an apology both to the “political activists” aboard the Mavi Marmara, on which she sailed in solidarity, and to herself, from those who “incited against [her] for six years.”
In May 2010, a flotilla of six ships en route to Gaza was incepted by Shayetet 13 naval commandos who boarded and forced them to dock in Israel.
During the boarding, some armed passengers on the Mavi Marmara violently attacked the commandos and nine of the Turks were killed.
Zoabi said that the nine were “murdered,” which is why Israel agreed in its reconciliation with Turkey to pay their families.
‘Chani’ Zoabi tries J-Date! (satire)

Hamas Official Criticizes Palestinian Elements: Stop Boasting About Future Wars; In The Struggle With Israel, Resistance Operations Are Better Than All-Out War
On the occasion of the second anniversary of the 2014 Gaza War, Hamas's deputy foreign minister and former spokesman Ghazi Hamad wrote an article in the online Gazan daily Alwatanvoice.com, in which he criticized Palestinian elements that constantly talk of the next war with Israel and boast in advance about their victory in it. He said that such talk reflected hastiness and shallowness, for war was a serious and frightening business, not a matter for muscle-flexing and for adventurism.
Hamad called on the Palestinians to base their future struggle against Israel on quick surprise attacks rather than all-out war. He noted that in the three Gaza wars (of 2008/2009, 2012 and 2014) the Palestinians sustained heavy losses in lives and property, whereas Israel barely sustained any damage at all. On the other hand, "small stabs to all parts of [Israel's] body hurt it, exhaust it and place it under intense public pressure, while the price that the Palestinian side must pay [for such operations] is less harmful and painful."
It should be mentioned that Hamad's article was also published in Hamas's daily Filastin but was removed from its website a short while later. The article was also removed from Alwatanvoice.com itself only a few days after its posting – which suggests that it sparked intense criticism in Gaza. It should also be noted that this is not the first time Hamad has criticized Hamas. In 2009 he wrote an article in which he urged the Palestinians not to delude themselves that they had won the 2008 Gaza war, and in 2006 he urged them to acknowledge mistakes they had made.
Palestinians send 6 athletes to Rio — half of them Germans
The Palestinians are sending their largest-ever delegation to compete in the summer Olympics in Rio, Brazil, but fewer than half of its athletes were born in the West Bank or Gaza, and only two qualified by merit.
Of the six Palestinians who will compete in Brazil, three are Germans of Palestinian descent and one was born and raised in Cairo, Egypt.
Two of the Palestinians athletes competing in the games are swimmers, another two are runners, one is a judoka and another is a dressage rider.
Of those six athletes, only two actually qualified for the Olympics through success in their sport. The other four were invited to compete through an Olympic program that allows athletes hailing from nations with underdeveloped sports infrastructure to compete without qualifying.
The Palestinians first fielded a summer Olympic team for the 1996 games in Atlanta, and have participated in the competition every four years since. No Palestinian athlete has stood on the Olympic medalists’ podium. It would be a major upset were that to change in Rio.
Iranian Official Accuses PA's Abbas of Being CIA Collaborator
The Jerusalem Post reports: Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Maryam Rajavi, president-elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), an Iranian diaspora opposition group, met in Paris on Saturday, renewing tensions between the Palestinian leadership and Iran.
Abbas hosted Rajavi at his hotel and updated her on the latest developments in the Palestinian territories and the Middle East, according to Wafa, the official Palestinian Authority news agency.
The following day, Tehran learned of the meeting and accused President Abbas of working as a secret agent on behalf of the United States government.
A top adviser to Iranian Foreign Minister Hussein Shiekh al-Islam said, “That man [Abbas] is known to us and documents from the US Embassy in Tehran revealed that he has been a collaborator with the Central Intelligence Agency for a long time and his actions in the past decades have proved that.”
Turkey Suspects Ex-Palestinian Official Involved In Coup Attempt
Turkish officials suspect that Mohammed Dahlan, one-time Palestinian security boss and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ arch-rival, was involved in the failed attempt to oust President Recep Tayyip Erdogan earlier this month, Arab and international reports now claim.
Two days after the failed coup, Breitbart Jerusalem quoted an Arab intelligence source saying that Turkey believes the Palestinian strongman played a role in the failed coup, adding that several Arab countries, Egypt and the UAE chief among them, are on Turkey’s blacklist.
Dahlan has served as a special adviser to the heir of the UAE throne, Muhammad Bin Zayed, and is a close associate of Egyptian President Abdel Fatah Sisi. The source said that the Turks see Dahlan as a central figure in the anti-Muslim Brotherhood axis and believe he facilitated the attempt to overthrow the Brotherhood’s main regional sponsor, Erdogan.
Reports in recent days have seemed to indicate a similar concern in Ankara.
Khamenei says talks with US are ‘lethal poison’ to Iran
Amid growing Iranian complaints that world powers have failed to live up to their obligations under the nuclear accord with Tehran, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Monday that dialogue with the US had proven to be “a lethal poison,” as Washington had shown that it could not be trusted.
“They want us to negotiate with them on the regional issues but the nuclear deal experience tells us that this is a lethal poison,” he said in a speech in Tehran.
“The Americans want to take everything in return for nothing,” the Fars news agency quoted the leader as saying. “Negotiations with such a government mean diversion from the correct path of the country’s progress, making repeated concessions and bearing their bullying, violations and disloyalty in practice.”
Khamenei said that six months after the implementation of the deal, it had not prompted any tangible change in Iranians’ lives.
Khamenei Distances Himself From Iran Nuclear Deal, Cites ‘Futility of Negotiations’ With US
Iran’s top leader distanced himself on Monday from the nuclear agreement reached with major powers a year ago, accusing the United States of failing to honor pledges in the accord and citing “the futility of negotiations with the Americans.”
In blunt remarks prominently featured in Iran’s state news media, the senior leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said the talks that led to the nuclear agreement in July 2015 should be regarded as an instructive lesson on the dangers posed by interactions with governments he regards as enemies.
Khamenei: Saudi ties with Zionist regime a stab in the back to Muslims
Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei slammed Saudi Arabia on Monday for allegedly tightening its ties with Israel.
"Revelation of Saudi government’s relations with Zionist regime was stab in the back of Islamic Ummah," Khamenei tweeted.
Revelation of Saudi government’s relations with Zionist regime was stab in the back of Islamic Ummah.
— Khamenei.ir (@khamenei_ir) August 1, 2016
While Israel and Saudi Arabia do not have formal relations, media reports have suggested that common interests, such as a fear of Iran's nuclear program and Tehran's efforts to gain influence in the Middle East, have drawn the Kingdom and the Jewish state closer together.
Former Saudi general Anwar Eshki visited Israel last month, meeting with Foreign Ministry Director-General Dore Gold and a number of Israeli MKs.
As Syria transition date passes, US makes no policy change
The United States outlined no change in its Syria policy as a target date for a political transition passed Monday, despite warning a few months ago that no progress would lead to a more muscular approach for ending the 5½-year-old civil war.
At a news conference in Washington, Secretary of State John Kerry said the U.S. would press on with a multi-month effort to prod Syrian President Bashar Assad and moderate opposition groups into a lasting truce and talks on a unity government.
Kerry’s tone was dramatically different from early May, when he issued an Aug. 1 ultimatum to Assad and his main backer Russia and warned of “repercussions.” He said at the time, “Either something happens in these next few months, or they are asking for a very different track.”
But on Monday, the top American described a U.S. strategy for Syria that is stuck where it started.
“Almost all of the time from the moment of the announcement of the target date until today has been consumed by trying to get a cessation of hostilities in place that is meaningful,” Kerry said. “And that is precisely what we are engaged in right now.”
Islamic State: If Muslims Ran America, ‘Lucrative African Slave Trade Would Have Continued’
In a bizarre digression from their latest anti-Christian tirade, the Islamic State addressed the question of black slavery, claiming that if Muslims had been in charge of Western states, the slave trade would have continued.
If Muslims rather than Christians had been running things in countries like the U.S., the Islamic State argues in the most recent issue of its propaganda magazine Dabiq, “the lucrative African slave trade would have continued, supporting a strong economy.”
As usual, the Islamic State supports its position with theological arguments, suggesting that Allah is pleased with slavery, as long as the slaves are infidels.
“The Islamic leadership would not have bypassed Allah’s permission to sell captured pagan humans, to teach them, and to convert them, as they worked hard for their masters in building a beautiful country,” the article reads.
Trading in black African slaves, the magazine notes, would not be done for racial reasons but religious ones.
Texas shale oil has fought Saudi Arabia to a standstill
Opec's worst fears are coming true. Twenty months after Saudi Arabia took the fateful decision to flood world markets with oil, it has still failed to break the back of the US shale industry.
The Saudi-led Gulf states have certainly succeeded in killing off a string of global mega-projects in deep waters. Investment in upstream exploration from 2014 to 2020 will be $1.8 trillion less than previously assumed, according to consultants IHS. But this is a bitter victory at best.
North America's hydraulic frackers are cutting costs so fast that most can now produce at prices far below levels needed to fund the Saudi welfare state and its military machine, or to cover Opec budget deficits.

Scott Sheffield, the outgoing chief of Pioneer Natural Resources, threw down the gauntlet last week - with some poetic licence - claiming that his pre-tax production costs in the Permian Basin of West Texas have fallen to $2.25 a barrel.

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