Egyptian athlete takes photo with Israeli flag, sparks outrage
Twelve days after Egyptian judoka Islam El Shehaby refused to shake the hand of his Israeli opponent, the country is again up in arms over one of its Olympic athletes, and Israel is again the reason.
This time, after recently participating in a beach volleyball match in Rio, female athlete Doaa Elghobashy photographed herself posing with a fan draped in an Israeli flag.
The photo was posted to the Facebook page of the Israeli Embassy in Egypt, and to the web page of pro-Israel organization Stand With Us, which reported that it received the photo from one of its members in Brazil.
The 19-year-old Elghobashy, who had already made headlines at the Olympics for playing in a hijab (a veil that covers the head and chest), responded by saying she did not notice the Israeli flag. She told reporters: "This is a conspiracy against me. If I had known that flag would be in the picture, I would not have taken it."
She also suggested that "it's possible this picture was edited in Photoshop and the flag was inserted there to try and hurt me."
Several commenters on social media sites in Egypt vilified Elghobashy, but there were those who came to her defense.
Where are the Palestinian Gandhis?
The spate of “lone wolf” terrorism against Jews that began last October has further eroded our dream of living in peace with our Arab neighbors. It is easy to scoff at anyone who suggests that we need to continue pursuing peace. Nevertheless, we need to ask ourselves if it is possible to prevent future tragedies without establishing peace. A few decades ago, the Lubavitcher Rebbe proclaimed that Israel must establish unquestioned military superiority over the Arabs so they wouldn’t even contemplate fighting us. But he said that was only the first step to creating peace.Muslims and Jews must combine to champion tolerance and stop the Isil-inspired hatred across the Middle East
Since making Aliya a year-and-a-half ago for the second time in my life, after 27 years in the U.S., I have made “peace” my hobby. I have spoken to many Jews and Arabs (admittedly more of the former than the latter), and almost all of them say they want to live in peace with the other. However, they almost all say they have become disillusioned. They believe that the other side doesn’t really want peace but rather to engage in murder.
There is no need to argue to this readership that Jews want peace. We are a nation of שלום רודפי. But I have heard many Jews ask, “Where are the Palestinian Gandhis?” The belief is that if such figures existed, we would have achieved peace by now. This is also the question posed by Julia Bacha, a documentary filmmaker, in her excellent Ted Talk titled, Pay Attention to Nonviolence.
The answer to Bacha’s rhetorical question is that there are Palestinian Gandhis – many of them. But we don’t know of them because the media doesn’t pay attention to them. I will be informing you here about one of such individual, Ali Abu Awwad. Before I discuss him, a little background.
Christianity has been part of the essential fabric of the Middle East for two thousand years. Far from being a Western import as some, incredibly, now seem to suggest, it was born here and exported as a gift to the rest of the world. Christian communities have been intrinsic to the development of Arab culture and civilisation.
This central role in our region and civilisation is why it is abhorrent to us, as a Muslim and a Jew, to see Christianity and Christians under such savage assault across our region.
We are appalled not only by the sickening attacks on our fellow human beings. We also know that to lose Christianity from its birthplace would be to destroy the richness of the tapestry of the Middle East and a hammer blow to our shared heritage. The reality is that we are all one community, united by shared beliefs and history. But this is increasingly denied, with Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, or Daesh as it is known in our region, taking the lead both in justifying and carrying out these attacks. The most recent issue of its publication Dabiq, headlined “Break the Cross”, explicitly rejects the fundamental belief that we are all People of the Book.
Fighters from al-Qaeda linked Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) marching in Raqqa, Syria
Daesh peddle an apocalyptic vision that harks back to a mythic Golden Age which is solely the creation of the warped minds of today’s jihadists. They are in the same mould as those whose misguided zeal turned Christian Europe in the Middle Ages into a byword for fanaticism and oppression. Daesh want to take us to a new Dark Age, an age made even darker by the dangers that the gifts of science and technology pose in their hands.
It is not just Christians, of course, who they have made targets for their hate. The search for religious purity poses a universal threat. As we have seen all too often, fundamentalists display a particular loathing for co-religionists whose views do not conform to their own. Daesh has shown itself as prepared to slaughter indiscriminately other Muslims as it has Jews, Christians and others, whatever their nationality: Jordanian or Egyptian, American, British or European.
HRH Prince Hassan of Jordan, is the founder and president of the Royal Institute for Inter-Faith Studies
Dr Ed Kessler is director of the Woolf Institute
Viceland Delivers Warped Narrative Through Gaza's Tunnels
In July 2016, more than 9000 truckloads of goods and 300 tons of construction material were transferred from Israel into the Gaza Strip — a territory that happens to be ruled by a hate group committed to the violent destruction of the Jewish state. That's one truck every 5 minutes, all day and all night, without pause. Twelve thousand Palestinians crossed from the territory into Israel that month. And several thousand more passed between Gaza and Egypt.JCPA: The Hot Arab Summer in the West Bank
The following month, on August 16, a television station called Viceland (part of Vice media) broadcast a documentary about "The Tunnels of Gaza," which argued that virtually no goods enter the Gaza Strip and insinuated that there's scant rationale for any border restrictions.
The segment is modern and gripping, which is to be expected coming from a station helmed by award-winning director Spike Jonze. But in their quest to fit Gaza's complexity into a neat narrative — food is scare, Palestinians suffer, and it's all Israel and Egypt's fault — the team behind the program was forced to elide, exaggerate, and embroider.
Actor Michael K. Williams introduces the segment by saying that "everybody in Gaza feels like they're denied everything," specifically mentioning food and basic medical supplies. "It feels like what we would consider a prison," he adds, parroting a common anti-Israel propaganda line dubbing Gaza "the world's largest open-air prison." (This story quickly changes when Hamas hears talk of elections and feels the need to convince its citizens that, no, it hasn't ruined Gaza.)
Egyptian journalist Dina Amer, whose exploration of Gaza's smuggling tunnels is the focal point of the Viceland feature, continues where Williams leaves off. "It is very difficult to get things in through the official crossing," she claims, shortly before coming upon a box of Turkish chocolates at a Gaza market. She asks the vendor: "Even chocolate must be brought through the tunnels? The restrictions go that far?"
"Yes," he replies. "I get everything from the tunnels."
The anarchic conditions in Nablus are growing. At present, the Palestinian Authority security forces are showing signs of disintegration, ceasing to function as an official force, and taking on the attributes of militias. Moreover, the danger of the settling of accounts through blood revenge is likely to spread from one area to another. In Nablus, for example, a PA security man from Hebron was shot to death by the Fatah Tanzim in Nablus. The PA had tried to use forces from other regions, overstepping various districts’ jurisdiction, and the villages of Hebron are now likely to seek revenge in Nablus.JCPA: Iranian Dissidents Visit Israel, View Iran after the Nuclear Deal
As revenge for the killing of two policemen at the end of the week, security men in Nablus pummeled to death a wanted Fatah member who himself was once a Palestinian policeman. This is the first case in which the PA has admitted its involvement, but there were two other cases last week in which the families of fatalities blamed the PA, which denied responsibility.
There are also incidents of vandalism, arson attacks on cars, shootings during daylight hours, and blocking roads with burning tires.
The PA knows that if it does not do something, the West Bank will revert to the rule of hamulas [clans], and the PA itself will disintegrate. Hence it has transferred large forces to Nablus. So far, though, they have been reluctant to enter the refugee camps – the stronghold of the violent, well-armed Fatah.
Although the PA tried to form its own militias in the camps, they were exposed, deterred, and no longer operate. A large anti-PA demonstration was held on August 23, 2016, by Nablus residents demanding the firing of PA Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah and the Palestinian security chiefs.
After the Iran nuclear deal (JCPOA) in 2015, a group of Iranian dissidents met with researchers at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs to discuss Iran in the post-agreement era. While the dissidents who visited Israel cannot be identified, two Israeli experts who met with them describe the outcome of the meeting.Why There Can Be No "Demilitarized" Palestinian State
Asked if he expected Iran to become more liberal and moderate after the JCPOA, Brig.-Gen. (res.) Yossi Kuperwasser, former head of research of IDF Military Intelligence, said,
This is what the supporters of the deal, especially the American administration, was trying to say was going to happen. The people we spoke with, the Iranians in exile, were of the exactly opposite opinion. I think that their position is more accurate. Because of the JCPOA, now the regime feels much more confident and there is no intention to let the reformist-realistic elements like Rouhani have an upper hand in what is going on inside Iran. As a matter of fact, the abuse of human rights in Iran grew after the JCPOA and the assessment of the Iranians we spoke with was that this was the way things are going to be in the future. All those who were misleading the international community by saying that this is a real possibility – according to the Iranians, and I think they are quite right – are doing that just to justify a bad deal so that people will say there is some hope at the end of the tunnel. The Iranian dissidents don’t see it.
In the end, the core danger to Israel of presumed Palestinian demilitarization would be far more practical than legal. The illusion of demilitarization without the ability to enforce it could be a potentially lethal threat. Even now, prevailing versions of the Middle East peace process generally stem from the persistent misunderstanding of Palestinian history and goals. From the start, every Palestinian faction has regarded all of Israel as "Occupied Palestine." From the beginning, not a single Palestinian faction has ever expressed satisfaction with a new state that would be confined to West Bank (Judea/Samaria) and Gaza.Israel sold weapons to Argentina at height of Falklands War, reveal declassified Foreign Office files
The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) was formed in 1964, three years before there were any "Israeli-Occupied Territories." What, then, was the PLO originally planning to "liberate?" Even now, the Palestinians remain as divided as ever; it remains unclear, therefore, who can speak with real authority for any still-plausible Palestinian state. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is in the eleventh year of his four-year term; should he agree to anything substantive, others could later legitimately claim, long after land may have been irreversibly "exchanged," that he had no legal authority to make a decision, and they would be right.
Moreover, for Israel and the United States, this insurmountable condition of fragmentation complicates any still-lingering hopes hope for Palestinian demilitarization.
A Palestinian state -- any Palestinian state -- could represent a mortal danger to Israel, especially if it should appear at approximately the same time as Iranian nuclearization. This danger could not be removed or even reduced by any pre-independence Palestinian commitments to demilitarize.
The next U.S. president will need to be prepared to do whatever is necessary to prevent the creation of another enemy state. Palestine would have a high probability of quickly becoming a new launching point for jihadist terror attacks around the region, and possibly the world.
British diplomats cited evidence that Israel had supplied the Argentine military junta with arms that were used against the Task Force during the campaign to liberate the islands.Palestinian NGOs accuse Israel of death threats at The Hague
Israeli military exports before the war included the Skyhawk jets that would later be used to bomb British warships, killing dozens of soldiers, sailors and marines.
Four British warships were sunk by bombs dropped from Skyhawks, including RFA Sir Galahad, a troop carrier that was set ablaze while anchored in Bluff Cove, killing 48 sailors and soldiers. Simon Weston, the badly burned veteran, was among the survivors. Another four ships were damaged by Skyhawks.
A book published in Argentina in 2011 exposed how Israel armed General Galtieri’s junta, dispatching weaponry to Buenos Aires on secret cargo flights routed through Peru. The Foreign Office files provide further evidence.
The documents state that Israeli military exports to Argentina continued after the Falklands War and were still happening in 1984. By then, Israel had abandoned its previous policy of denying that any weapons sales were taking place.
Instead, the country’s argument was that deals with Argentina were essential to sustain its domestic arms industry – and Britain was also supplying munitions to Israel’s enemies in the Arab world.
Nada Kiswanson, a legal researcher at Palestinian rights group Al-Haq, said the threats began early this year and have continued on a regular basis since.JCPA: Video - King Abdullah: Jordan Is Responsible for Arab Interests in Jerusalem, Not the Palestinians
"My channels of communication have been totally compromised," Kiswanson told Reuters, adding that she had received death threats by e-mail, via family members and in the form of flower deliveries to her home with accompanying messages.
When she purchased an anonymous pre-paid mobile phone number, she received a threat on it a day later. Messages had come in Dutch, English and "broken Arabic," she said.
The Jordanian-Swedish citizen had also been called on a family member's pre-paid Jordanian number while staying in the country, while a relative in Sweden had been called and told that Kiswanson would be "eliminated."
Human rights organization Amnesty International said it was forced to temporarily close its office in The Hague for security reasons after an employee's personal e-mail was hacked and used to send Kiswanson a death threat.
Since the start of 2015, the ICC has been conducting a preliminary examination of possible crimes committed by both sides in the Gaza conflict, in which more than 2,000 died. Israel, which rejects the court's authority, put its dead at 67 soldiers and six civilians.
King Abdullah of Jordan made some very strong statements against Jews going to the Temple Mount. Should Israel be concerned? Jerusalem Center Arab Affairs analyst Pinhas Inbari noted: "I think that the Muqata in Ramallah should be more concerned than Israel because King Abdullah's main message was not against Israel, as strange as it may seem, it was against the Muqata in Ramallah, because King Abdullah of Jordan was representing the Palestinian problem instead of the PLO, and he mentioned his sole responsibility over Jerusalem and the Al-Aqsa mosque, which is the role of the Palestinians, as far as they are perceiving their role in Jerusalem."
"And he did not mention the Palestinians in Jerusalem, but he mentioned the Arabs in Jerusalem, which means there is no legitimacy to the PA in Jerusalem." (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
King Abdullah: Jordan Is Responsible for Arab Interests in Jerusalem, Not the Palestinians
Soldier stabbed, lightly hurt, during West Bank confrontation
An Israeli soldier was lightly injured Wednesday in a stabbing attack in the northern West Bank, while his attacker was shot dead, the army said.PreOccupiedTerritory: This So-Called ‘Lone Wolf’ Section Of Hell Is Actually Pretty Crowded By Awad Shukri, stabber (satire)
The injured soldier was among a group of troops chasing Palestinians who had thrown rocks from their car at passing vehicles near the Yitzhar settlement.
One of the Palestinians exited their vehicle and stabbed the soldier. The injured soldier then shot and killed the assailant, the army said in a statement.
The soldier was taken to a hospital for treatment.
The identity of the assailant was not immediately clear.
Earlier on Wednesday, Border Police arrested a Palestinian woman in possession of a knife near the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron, a police spokesperson said.
She was handed over to security forces for questioning, police said.
Being in Hell has its drawbacks, as you can well imagine. Beyond not getting seventy-two virgins, I experience the profound and abiding eternal torment of shame for my hideous choices in the material world. It’s no picnic. But I have been surprised by one discovery: there are a LOT of “lone wolf” terrorists here other than I. It’s getting pretty crowded. “Lone” indeed.IDF carries out largest illegal weapons bust of 2016
Each of us had his or her own circumstances that led us here, of course. I tried stabbing an Israeli and got shot – as did many dozens of my newfound, uh, roommates, but there’s no shortage of Muslims who came here directly from France, Belgium, Germany, and elsewhere. And many of our group didn’t get here via killing anyone by stabbing; a good number of us committed vehicular homicide in the name of Allah, or used firearms. What we have in common is we were killed as jihadis and categorized as acting without assistance from a known terrorist organization, lest people’s precious assumptions about tolerance be upended. After the hundredth attack some of us were sure that notion would get old and the West would wake up, but nope. As I said, we’re not exactly lone here.
I wouldn’t go so far as to say that none of us is lonely. Feelings of isolation are par for the course in Hell. They’re kind of the whole point, it’s becoming clear. A person who refuses to connect to the humanity of others and sees them only as The Enemy, or only as vehicles (see what I did there?) to attaining Paradise, has not cultivated what it takes to bring humanity together, and will forever feel disconnected. Loneliness and shame are direct outgrowths – one might say just another manifestation – of that refusal. But damn, are there a lot of us here.
Overnight, the IDF carried out a mission in the Judea and Samaria Division to locate, reveal, and disrupt the region’s weapons manufacturing and trafficking network. This was the largest mission to take on weapons trafficking in the past year.Senior IDF official addresses large weapons seizure
Forces seized 22 machines for manufacturing illegal weapons in Bethlehem and Hebron, as well as dozens of weapons and ammunition. Seven illegal weapons workshops were shut down by the IDF, and two weapons traffickers were also arrested.
Though this is by no means the first operation of its kind in 2016, it is the largest to date. Since 2016, the IDF has shut down 49 weapons manufacturing machines and seized over 300 firearms. Over 140 weapons dealers and manufacturers have been arrested.
“Over the past few months, the Judea and Samaria Regional Brigade has been leading a significant effort to uncover and dismantle the illegal weapons manufacturing industry in Judea and Samaria,” said Col. Roman Gofman, the commander of the Etzion Brigade. “Tonight we reached a breakthrough.”
PreOccupiedTerritory: Arab Joint List In Josiah’s Time Can’t Find Constituency (satire)
Legislators from the Joint List political alliance of Arab parties in the Knesset during the reign of King Josiah have encountered acute electoral troubles stemming primarily from their inability to locate any potential voters.Clashes in Nablus after Palestinian police kill suspect in custody
The thirteen members of the Balad, Raam-Taal, United Arab List, and Hadash parties are in the midst of preparing for potential new parliamentary elections, but report that they cannot find even one Arab at whom to target their campaign. As a result, the lawmakers fear their demographic’s representation will disappear, which they say would constitute a fatal blow to democracy.
“In some cases we can’t even find the cities or towns we’re looking for,” lamented Basel Ghattas of Balad. “Umm el-Fahm is supposed to be up north, but we can’t get there, and no one seems to know where it is or what we’re talking about. We haven’t encountered a single Arabic-speaker anywhere – not even among the dark-skinned Jews who are all over the place. Where did they come from, anyway?”
Joint List Chairman Ayman Odeh suggested a conspiracy was afoot to deprive the Arabs in the land of representation. “If the government can plausibly claim there are no Arabs here, they have a convenient pretext to exclude Arabs from all the workings of government,” explained. “It could be just the excuse the extremists are looking for to make this an exclusively Jewish state. What will happen to our constituency? If we can find them, I mean.”
Palestinian Authority security forces clashed with hundreds of Palestinians in the West Bank city of Nablus on Tuesday who were protesting the killing of a local man beaten to death while in PA police custody.Israeli Defense Minister: Hamas Robbing Gazans to Fund Terror Instead of Caring for Them
According to reports in Palestinian media, the protesters were dispersed by tear gas and chased through alleys by PA forces as they marched from a local university to downtown Nablus.
The demonstrators were calling for the resignation of PA Prime Minister Rami Hamdalah, Nablus Governor Akram Rajoub, and Palestinian security head Nidal Abu Dukhan, the Palestinian news site Safa said.
Earlier on Tuesday, Rajoub confirmed that Ahmed Halawa, the alleged ringleader in the killing of two Palestinian policemen in Nablus last week, was severely beaten by PA security personnel, lost consciousness and later died in the city’s Jneid prison.
“We’ll examine the incident and draw lessons from it,” he told the official Palestinian news agency WAFA, as Hamdallah announced a special committee would look into Halawa’s death.
Amnesty International has accused Palestinian security forces of routinely mistreating prisoners, with torture common and committed with impunity.
A day after the Israel Defense Forces bombed a number of Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip in response to a rocket attack on the southern Israeli town of Sderot, Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said, "Israel can't be expected to allow Hamas to arm itself."Animal rescue operation complete as ‘world’s worst zoo’ closes in Khan Younis
"We can't be expected to allow them to rob the residents of Gaza," Lieberman said. "They charge taxes and instead of building buildings, they built tunnels."
Speaking during a tour of the northern border, Lieberman said, "You know my opinions. I don't need to add anything new. What we need to understand is that my approach is rehabilitation for demilitarization. That is the formula. They know that whenever they go into crisis, Israel solves the problem, or the U.N. solves it, or the EU. They are not interested in solving their own crisis; they just want to build up military power.
"Seventy percent of their tax revenue goes to building up military power and re-arming. They don't want to take care of the citizens, they only want rockets and tunnels."
Rescued by an international animal welfare nonprofit from horrific conditions in a Gaza Strip zoo, 15 surviving animals were brought across the Israeli border on Wednesday morning.Palestinian Jordanian Political Analyst Goes Berserk in Debate
The animals were rescued by the Vienna-based organization Four Paws, and include Laziz, believed to be the last tiger in Gaza, as well as an emu, a pelican, two tortoises, two other birds, a deer, five monkeys and two porcupines.
They represent the last survivors of a zoo described as “the world’s worst,” many of whose “inhabitants” were crudely taxidermied carcasses on display alongside their living neighbors. The mummified animals once on display included Laziz’s mate.
Life for the survivors was difficult: little food, cramped cages and fallout from frequent strife between Israel and Hamas. Shortly before the Four Paws mission team arrived in Gaza on Sunday, a rocket was fired from the territory into Sderot and the Israel Defense Forces answered with 50 airstrikes.
“When we arrived in Gaza, we saw smoke,” Dr. Amir Khalil, the head of emergency response for Four Paws, told The Times of Israel via Skype in an exclusive interview from the zoo late Tuesday night. Khalil said he was unfazed as he and his 13-person team spent all of Tuesday preparing the animals for their journey across the Gaza Strip, and then to the Erez border crossing.
Palestinian-Jordanian Political Analyst Muhammad Al-Tamimi Goes Berserk in Debate on Legacy of Fatah: PA Leaders Are Spies, Traitors, and Pimps.
During a Jordanian TV debate on the legacy of Fatah, Palestinian-Jordanian political analyst Muhammad Al-Tamimi lost his temper and said that Fatah was "controlled by a bunch of spies, who killed their father [Arafat]," and that "this treacherous, collaborating leadership" was "directly connected to the Mossad.
"Tamimi claimed that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is of Iranian origins.
"From this pulpit," he bellowed, "I hereby declare the dismissal of this leadership."
"The Palestinian Authority and all these organizations will go into the garbage bin of history."
Despite repeated efforts to stem the tirade, the TV host was unable to placate Al-Tamimi, and the show drew to a close, with the host thanking his viewers amid shouting from his irascible guest.
U.S. and Europe Say Assad May Have Kept Some Chemical Weapons
The world’s chemical weapons watchdog has repeatedly found traces of deadly nerve agents in laboratories that Syria insisted were never part of its chemical weapons program, raising new questions about whether Damascus has abided by its commitments to destroy all of its armaments, according to a highly confidential new report.WATCH: Iran Threatened to Halt Nuke Talks if U.S. Bombed Assad, WSJ Reporter Says
The discoveries of precursors for chemical warfare agents like soman and VX at several undeclared facilities, including two on the outskirts of Damascus, underscored what a 75-page report by the director-general of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) describes as a troubling pattern of incomplete and inaccurate Syrian disclosures over the past three years about the scope of the country’s chemical weapons program.
Those gaps have confounded the inspectors’ attempts to verify whether or not Syria has fully abandoned its chemical weapons program, fueling suspicions by the United States and other Western powers that the government may be seeking to retain a limited capacity to use the nerve agents and other lethal toxins against the rebels working to unseat Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
In a confidential two-page summary of the report, OPCW Director-General Ahmet Uzumcu writes that the majority of 122 samples taken at “multiple locations” in Syria “indicate potentially undeclared chemical weapons-related activities.” Many of Syria’s explanations for the presence of undeclared agents, he added, “are not scientifically or technically plausible, and … the presence of several undeclared chemical warfare agents is still to be clarified.”
The incomplete and sometimes misleading assertions by the Assad government have shaped the often rocky relationship between foreign inspectors and their Syrian counterparts, bedeviling international efforts to determine whether or not Damascus has abided by its obligation to destroy its chemical weapons. Assad promised to eliminate his stores in 2013 to avert promised U.S. airstrikes against regime targets.
President Barack Obama changed his mind about launching a retaliatory strike against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, whose forces carried out a sarin gas attack that killed more than 1,400 people in August 2013, after Iran threatened to pull out of then-secret nuclear talks, the chief foreign correspondent for The Wall Street Journal said on Monday.Obama Admin Won’t Tell Congress How It Paid Iran $1.3 Billion in Taxpayer Funds
In her interview of Jay Solomon, MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell asked if there was an “Iranian component” to Obama’s decision not to strike the Syrian regime after it violated his “red line” on chemical attacks. Solomon answered that both American and Iranian officials told him that if the U.S. had retaliated against Assad, Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps would have scuttled the nuclear talks.
“When the president announced his plans to attack and then pulled back it was exactly the period in time where American negotiators were meeting with Iranian negotiators secretly in Oman to get the nuclear agreement,” Solomon said. “U.S. and Iranian officials have both told me that they were basically communicating that if the U.S. starts hitting President Assad’s forces, Iran’s closest Arab ally — sort of the ability to project their power through the Middle East into Lebanon and the Palestinian territories — these talks could not conclude. The IRGC, the Revolutionary Guard would not accept a continued engagement with the U.S. if their closest ally was being hit.”
Shortly after reports of the devastating chemical attack in Ghouta first surfaced three years ago this week, Obama asked, “What message will we send if a dictator can gas hundreds of children to death in plain sight and pay no price?” However, Obama reportedly changed his mind about striking Assad after discussing the situation with his chief of staff, Denis McDonough.
The Obama administration is withholding from Congress details about how $1.3 billion in U.S. taxpayer funds was delivered to Iran, according to conversations with lawmakers, who told the Washington Free Beacon that the administration is now stonewalling an official inquiry into the matter.The New York Times Lamely Tries to Defend America’s Ransom Payment to Iran
The Departments of State, Treasury, and Justice have all rebuffed a congressional probe into the circumstances surrounding the $1.3 billion payment to Iran, which is part of an additional $400 million cash payout that occurred just prior to the release of several U.S. hostages and led to accusations that the administration had paid Iran a ransom.
The Obama administration has admitted in recent days that the $400 million cash delivery to Iran was part of an effort to secure the release of these American hostages, raising further questions on Capitol Hill about White House efforts to suppress these details from the public.
The $400 million was part of a $1.7 billion legal settlement reached with Iran earlier this year. Congressional inquiries into how this money reached Iran are failing to get answers.
The State and Treasury Departments declined on Tuesday to answer a series of questions from the Free Beacon about the method in which U.S. taxpayer funds were paid to Iran.
The administration is also withholding key details about the payment from leading members of Congress, including Sens. Ted Cruz (R., Texas) and Mike Lee (R., Utah), who launched an inquiry into the matter earlier this month.
The Departments of State, Treasury, and Justice all failed to respond to the inquiry by Monday’s deadline, according to congressional sources tracking the matter.
The New York Times has a staff editorial that attempts the extremely difficult task of defending the Obama administration’s payment of $400 million in cash in European currency, stacked on wooden pallets in an unmarked cargo plane, to the terror-supporting government of Iran in exchange for the release of three American hostages.StandWithUs+: ISIS Picks Up Palestinian Terror Tactics
The headline of the Times editorial is: “The Fake $400 Million Iran ‘Ransom’ Story.” That pretty much sets the tone for what follows. The headline alleges the story is “fake,” when in fact the story is true. The word “Ransom” does not deserve the “scare quotes” with which the Times editors surround it.
The editorial begins: “The first thing to know about the latest controversy over the Iran nuclear deal is that the Obama administration did not pay $400 million in “ransom” to secure the release of three American detainees.”
That’s wrong. They did. It’s hard to see how the Times is insisting otherwise.
The Times goes on to say that the ransom story is being peddled by critics “in another attempt to discredit an agreement that has done something remarkable — halted a program that had put Iran within striking distance of producing a nuclear weapon.”
That’s wrong, too. The Times has no way of knowing that the Iranian nuclear program has been halted. Perhaps there are Iranian nuclear activities or sites of which the Times is unaware. Even the Times itself reported in March that Iran had tested nuclear-capable missiles, which doesn’t exactly amount to a “halt.”
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