Friday, October 07, 2016

From Ian:

PMW: PA daily: Israel controls the US which controls the world
Palestinian Media Watch has long documented that the Palestinian Authority spreads classic Antisemitic hate, claiming that the Jews and Israel control the world.
This libel was given a new rendering this week in the official PA daily, which ran a cartoon that portrays Israel as controlling the United States and telling it what to do with the world.
In the cartoon, a small soldier with a Star of David on his helmet is seen giving orders to a taller man with blank eyes, representing the US. The large man's hat is made of the American flag but with a six-pointed Star of David replacing the five-pointed star. The "US" is holding a basketball that resembles a globe, and "Israel" is directing the "US" to shoot the globe-shaped basketball into a basket which is also shaped of a Star of David.
The cartoon's message is that while America controls the world, it is Israel who orders America what to do with the world.
In a different version of this libel, the PA regularly claims that Israel indirectly controls world events and is responsible for all the civil wars, the creation of the Islamic State and even the radical Muslim terror attacks in Europe.

Caroline Glick: Obama’s hostile eulogy
US President Barack Obama’s eulogy of Shimon Peres at Mount Herzl last Friday was a thinly disguised assault on Israel. And he barely bothered to hide it.
Throughout his remarks, Obama wielded Peres’s record like a baseball bat. He used it to club the Israeli public and its elected leaders over and over again.
Peres, Obama intimated, was a prophet. But the suspicious, tribal people of Israel were too stiff necked to follow him.
In what was perhaps the low point of a low performance, Obama used Peres’s words to slander his domestic critics as racist oppressors.
“Shimon,” he began harmlessly enough, “believed that Israel’s exceptionalism was rooted not only in fidelity to the Jewish people, but to the moral and ethical vision, the precepts of his Jewish faith.”
You could say that about every Israeli leader since the dawn of modern Zionism.
But then Obama went for the jugular.
In a startling non sequitur he continued, “‘The Jewish people weren’t born to rule another people,’ he [Peres] would say. ‘From the very first day we were against slaves and masters.’” We don’t know the context in which Peres made that statement. But what is clear enough is that Obama used his words to accuse the majority of Israelis who do not share Peres’s vision for peace – including Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu who was sitting in the front row listening to him – of supporting slavery.
This libelous assault on Israel was probably the most unhinged remark ever directed at the Jewish state by an American president. What does the fact that Obama said this at Peres’s funeral tell us about Obama? What does it tell us about Peres? Obama was not merely wrong when he accused Peres’s detractors of support for slavery, he was maliciously wrong.
Khaled Abu Toameh: Abbas "The Jew"
The unprecedented outcry over Abbas's participation in the funeral of an Israeli leader is further proof of the degree to which Palestinians have been radicalized.
This is what happens when you unleash a tidal wave of hate against Israel and its leaders in the media, mosques and public rhetoric. In light of this brainwashing, how do you expect your people to respond when you, in any way, associate with an Israeli leader?
If attending the funeral of an Israeli leader, especially one who devoted the past two decades of his life to peace between Israel and the Palestinians, draws such condemnation, it is easy to imagine the result of a Palestinian leader making a peace overture to Israel.
Even if the current condemnation eventually dies down, it will have sent a message to future Palestinian leaders: "No peace with Israel, not in our time, and not in any time."

Clubbing us with the ‘Peres legacy’
It was predictable. Shimon Peres barely had five days of rest in his fresh grave on Mount Herzl in Jerusalem before the Obama administration began to use the “Peres legacy” as a club with which to browbeat the Netanyahu government.
Responding to plans for expansion of the Shvut Rachel neighborhood in the Shiloh settlement in Binyamin (in order to compensate homeowners of the nearby Amona outpost, ahead of a court-ordered December demolition), the State Department went berserk on Wednesday.
“Proceeding with this new settlement is another step toward cementing a one-state reality of perpetual occupation that is fundamentally inconsistent with Israel’s future as a Jewish and democratic state.
Such moves will only draw condemnation from the international community, distance Israel from many of its partners, and further call into question Israel’s commitment to achieving a negotiated peace,” boiled John Kerry’s spokesman, Mark Toner.
And then he added this kicker, evoking the passion of Peres for Palestinian statehood as the ultimate moral compass: “Furthermore, it is disheartening that while Israel and the world mourned the passing of president Shimon Peres, and leaders from the US and other nations prepared to honor one of the great champions of peace, plans were advanced that would seriously undermine the prospects for the two-state solution that he so passionately supported.”
New York Times Op-Ed Blames Shimon Peres for…Everything
The writer of an opinion piece or editorial is entitled to express personal opinions, but in the words of the famous senator, the late Daniel Patrick Moynihan, “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not to his own facts.”
In her op-ed in the New York Times, Palestinian lawmaker Hanan Ashrawi trashes the memory of Shimon Peres, which seems more than a little absurd at time when almost the entire world is commemorating his legacy as a visionary and peacemaker. Yet Ashrawi is entitled to her opinion, as out of touch as it may be. The problem is that she also distorts the facts, and that’s not a matter of opinion.
The point of Ashrawi’s op-ed is quite simply this: the blame for the collapse of the Oslo peace process, for the Second Intifada, for Palestinian terror in general, and for the thousands of Israelis who died, and continue to die as a result, lies solely with Israel.
No Good Deed Goes Unpunished
More important than any of that is the impulse on the part of Palestinians and their cheerleaders to chart a revisionist history of Oslo and the peace process. According to Peres’s detractors, like former PA official Hanan Ashrawi, who penned an attack published Monday in the New York Times, the Israeli’s efforts for peace were fraudulent. In her version of the events of the last two decades, Peres was part of an Israeli effort to deny Palestinian rights and choke off their demands for statehood and sovereignty.
Ashrawi’s account is a sad parody of the truth but an accurate reflection of how the Palestinians view the world. In their telling, anything short of complete and total Israeli surrender on territory, settlements, and refugees (which would destroy what was left of Israel after a new partition) and on the Palestinian right to continue to wage war on the Jewish state—whose legitimacy they continue to deny—is an offense for which there is no forgiveness. Left out of the Palestinian narrative is not only PA leader Yasir Arafat’s decision to treat Oslo as merely the first step in a war of phases whose aim was Israel’s destruction, but also Arafat’s funding of terrorism and the subsequent refusals by both the veteran terrorist and his successor Abbas of peace offers that would have given them the state they claim to want.
Contrary to Ashrawi’s narrative, if Peres failed to make the peace he thought was possible, it was not for lack of effort on his part. Rather, it was due to the refusal of the Palestinians to share his dream. Peres’s problem wasn’t so much the skepticism of the Israeli people about Oslo—which understandably increased once they realized they were trading land for terror, not peace—but the fact that there was no moral equivalent to him on the other side. He was fond of saying, you make peace with your enemies, not your friends. What was needed for this formula to work, however, was a former enemy who shares the fantasy of a Middle East in which the century-old war against Zionism is consigned to the dustbin of history. There was no such person on the Palestinian side in the aftermath of Oslo. Nor is there one now.
More to the point, as long as the leading Israeli dreamer of peace is demonized by the Muslim world, the chances of such a leader arising among a Palestinian people indoctrinated with hate remains small. That Peres’s good deeds for the Palestinians are not going unpunished remains the most depressing aspect of the otherwise impressive legacy he left behind.
An open letter to the Joint List
Dear members of the Joint List, I understand that it isn’t easy being an Arab in a Jewish state whose symbols are Jewish, whose national holidays are Jewish, and whose national anthem describes 2,000 years of Jews yearning for this land.
But you are citizens of Israel and serve in its parliament, as full-fledged members of the Knesset. So the question I have for you today, dear members of the Joint List, is, why did you decide not to attend the funeral of Shimon Peres? I cannot understand it.
Whose funeral are we talking about? Shimon Peres, the Israeli leader who more than anyone pushed for coexistence. There are programs throughout Israel in which Jewish and Arab children come together as partners and teammates to make art, play music and compete in sports. Many of these projects happen under the auspices of the Peres Center for Peace, established by Shimon Peres. This is a man to whom you cannot give respect? Why didn’t you attend? I listened to your attempted explanations on Israeli radio in which you described the situation as “complex.” You referenced a “difficult history.” Yes, there is a difficult past between Jews and Arabs in Israel. But as I entered the funeral, I found myself walking alongside two Arab Knesset members who are not in your party – Esawi Frej (Meretz) and Zouheir Bahloul (Labor).
Their message was clear: past issues and struggles impacting the Israeli-Arab community can be overcome to attend the funeral of a peace-seeker like Shimon Peres.
Israeli official: Obama’s settlement critique ‘an alibi’ for planned anti-Israel moves
An Israel official on Thursday deepened the latest dispute with the Obama administration over settlement-building by charging that “disproportionate criticism” from Washington over the latest construction plans is “an alibi” to cover plans by President Barack Obama to take anti-Israel actions in the final weeks of his presidency.
Speaking to Channel 2 news, the unnamed “senior political source” insisted that newly announced plans to build some 300 homes for Jews in the West Bank do not constitute a new settlement, and do not breach any commitments made by Israel to the United States.
The TV report stressed that the comments did not constitute an official response from the government, and noted that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has not responded to the US criticism.
The White House on Wednesday accused Israel of a betrayal of trust over the new plans. “We did receive public assurances from the Israeli government that contradict this announcement,” said press secretary Josh Earnest. “I guess when we’re talking about how good friends treat one another, that’s a source of serious concern as well.”
John Bolton: Obama Administration Denying Jerusalem Is in Israel Was ‘Thumb in the Eye to Bibi Netanyahu’
Former U.N. ambassador John Bolton told SiriusXM host Alex Marlow on Thursday’s Breitbart News Daily that the Obama White House’s redacted press release removing reference to Jerusalem’s location in Israel was a “thumb in the eye” to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Marlow asked for Bolton’s take on the Obama administration’s redacting a press release that originally identified Israel as the country where Jerusalem is located, after President Obama gave a speech at the funeral of former Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres.
“It’s a reflection of their ideological view that the status of all of Jerusalem still is undecided, but, in fact, that’s a more radical position than the official position of the United States,” Bolton explained:
Now, whether they intended it or not, it’s hard to say, but you know Jerusalem has been divided since the cease-fire in 1949. In the post-1967 world, after the Six Day War, Israel has controlled the entire city, and the final boundary line remains to be determined by negotiation. That’s the official line, or at least it has been.
But no one has argued ever before, as far as I know, that Western Jerusalem – where the Parliament, the Knesset of Israel is, where most of the government offices are, and by the way where we could build an American embassy if we wanted to – West Jerusalem is not for negotiation. The Palestinian Authority, the PLO, no one has ever claimed that the territory held in West Jerusalem by Israel since 1949 was going to go back to the Palestinians. The issue is about East Jerusalem, and where the line will be drawn.
Why won’t Obama condemn the Palestinian Authority demand for a Jew-free state?
Last month, the Obama administration took issue with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s criticism of the Palestinian Authority’s policy of establishing a Jew-free Palestinian state.
Mr. Netanyahu had said in a video that “the Palestinian leadership actually demands a Palestinian state with one precondition: No Jews. There’s a phrase for that: It’s called ethnic cleansing. And this demand is outrageous. It’s even more outrageous that the world doesn’t find this outrageous.”
For that piece of commentary, the Obama administration responded – not by agreeing that the PA’s policy of creating a Jew-free state would indeed amount to outrageous ethnic cleansing, but by ignoring it and instead pretending that Mr. Netanyahu had spoken about building homes for Jews in Jewish communities in Judea/Samaria (West Bank).
The State Department’s Elizabeth Trudeau stated, “We obviously strongly disagree with the characterization that those who oppose settlement activity or view it as an obstacle to peace are somehow calling for ethnic cleansing of Jews from the West Bank.”
But Mahmoud Abbas can scarcely be said to agree with that denial: In 2010, he said, “If there is an independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital, we won’t agree to the presence of one Israeli in it.”
He said much the same again in 2013: “In a final resolution, we would not see the presence of a single Israeli – civilian or soldier – on our lands.”
NY Times: UN Security Council should set Israeli-Palestinian peace terms
The New York Times, in an unusual move, has called on the United Nations Security Council to set the parameters for a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians.
“The best idea under discussion now would be to have the United Nations Security Council, in an official resolution, lay down guidelines for a peace agreement covering such issues as Israel’s security, the future of Jerusalem, the fate of Palestinian refugees and borders for both states,” the paper’s Editorial Board stated.
The paper’s editorial, published Thursday, further called on US President Barack Obama to lead the charge at the UNSC.
“The most plausible pressure would come from Mr. Obama’s leading the Security Council to put its authority behind a resolution to support a two-state solution and offer the outlines of what that could be.
“That may seem like a bureaucratic response unlikely to change anything, but it is the kind of political pressure Mr. Netanyahu abhors and has been working assiduously to prevent,” the New York Times wrote.
Security Council to discuss settlements as ‘obstacle to peace’
The United Nations Security Council is expected to meet next Friday to discuss Israeli settlements in the West Bank, in what is considered the opening shot of a renewed Palestinian initiative to pass a resolution condemning Israel for the contentious issue.
The meeting, while initiated by the Palestinians, was formally requested by Malaysia, Venezuela, Senegal, Egypt and Angola under the official banner: “The settlements as the obstacle to peace and a two-state solution.”
“The existence and expansion of the settlements on Palestinians lands which were occupied in 1967 endanger a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the two-state solution,” reads a position paper distributed to participants, obtained by Israeli news site Ynet Friday.
The paper castigates Israel and the Israeli security forces for “overlooking violent acts of the settlers against Palestinians and not giving them the protection to which they are entitled under international law.”
Accused Hezbollah Operative Slated to Speak In Washington, D.C.
A former Arab member of Israel’s parliament who was forced to flee the country after he was accused of working as a top Hezbollah operative is slated to speak next week in Washington, D.C., raising questions about how he obtained permission to enter U.S. soil.
Azmi Bishara, who is accused by Israel’s Shin Bet secret service of helping Hezbollah plot terrorist operations, is confirmed to speak next week at Washington’s downtown Marriott hotel as part of a conference organized by The Arab Center of Washington, D.C.
An official from the Arab Center confirmed to the Washington Free Beacon that Bishara will be attending the event, raising questions about how an individual linked to a U.S.-designated sponsor of terror obtained permission to enter America.
Bishara was initially slated to speak alongside former U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul, who the Free Beacon has learned cancelled his appearance. The talk was to focus on the promotion of democracy in the Arab world, according to a current conference schedule.
McFaul’s image was removed from the conference’s webpage several hours after the Free Beacon made an inquiry into the event.
Bishara remains listed as a speaker.
On anniversary of Yom Kippur war, Egypt wonders: Is Israel still the enemy?
Egypt marked the 43rd anniversary of the outbreak of the 1973 Yom Kippur war on Thursday, with critics of President Abdul-Fattah el-Sisi’s regime voicing anger that it no longer considers Israel the enemy.
“The Zionist entity that was the Arabs’ No. 1 enemy has become a friend and neighbor, and the head of the regime in Egypt speaks of the necessity of having peace with it,” writer Osama al-Hatimi complained. He was quoted in a report from Cairo on Al Jazeera’s website.
October 6 is a national holiday in Egypt to celebrate what is considered to be the Egyptian army’s victory over Israel. Although Israel had the upper hand when the cease-fire went into effect and the IDF had the Egyptian Third Army surrounded, the successful crossing of the Suez Canal and breaking through the Bar-Lev Line restored national pride and freed Egypt from the despair of its disastrous defeat in the Six Day War, according to the Egyptian view. Al-Ubur, or the crossing, is also seen as the first step in retrieving the occupied Sinai Peninsula from Israel.
Sisi and his supporters in the Egyptian media took the anniversary as an occasion to call for unity, and to voice faith in the ability of Egyptians to overcome adversity. “The glorious October War will remind us always that nations live from the sacrifices of their people and that Egypt will never be lifted up but for the exertions of its faithful youth,” Sisi wrote in a message to Egyptians on Twitter. “Egypt will always remain strong through its unyielding and dignified people.”
Al-Ahram columnist Jamal Zahran wrote that the war was “the most important of the wars of the 20th century, according to the testimony of historians and military leaderships in the world.”
Analysis: Hamas understands that Israel has changed the rules of the game
Another round of blows between Israel and Gaza has been concluded successfully. The success can be found in the fact that both sides contained the events and they did not escalate the situation beyond control, which could have led them to the brink of a new war.
This is an achievement given that we are 26 months after the previous Gaza war and the quiet is being kept, more or less. What's more important is that the behavior of both sides makes it clear that they are not interested in another round of violence.
This is clear based on Thursday's events, which were actually a response to Wednesday's events. A rocket was fired at Sderot and hit a street, miraculously failing to wound anyone or cause damage to homes.
The rocket was fired by a salafi-jihadist group that represents ISIS in Gaza. It is the same organization that has fired all of the rockets in recent months. The group's goal is provocation - to cause great harm to people and property in Israel, in order to draw an aggressive response which will drag both sides into war. The jihadists hope that Israel's blows will bring about the collapse of Hamas rule in Gaza. Both sides are aware of this and are acting to prevent the escalation.
Gaza’s radicals want Israel to topple Hamas
The small Salafi organization Ahfad al-Sahaba Aknaf Bayt al-Maqdis, which fired a rocket into the southern Israeli town of Sderot on Wednesday, sees itself as one of ISIS's branches in Gaza, and therefore included a small ISIS symbol on the statement it issued to claim responsibility for the rocket fire.
This organization would like to take Hamas’s place in Gaza, but as its military power is limited, it is trying to get Israel to bash Hamas and do its work for it. Hamas is aware of that and is arresting the organization’s members and preventing them from firing rockets and trying to ignite another war in Gaza.
The recent declarations from the defense establishment, that next time the IDF will destroy Hamas, are boosting the Salafi organization’s motivation. That is also the reason why its members are firing their rockets in broad daylight, into a densely-populated area in Israel, in an explicit attempt to kill.
In the past, these organizations used to fire into open areas, either due to incompetence or because they were afraid they would be targeted by Israel. Now, however, they are stepping up their provocation, hoping to finally succeed—in case of deaths, and especially if children are hurt – to bring about a round of war in which Israel will topple the Hamas rule in Gaza.
The IDF’s Intelligence Directorate is familiar with this phenomenon and knows very well that Hamas is not interested in another round of fighting at this time. The leadership of the organization’s military wing believes it is not sufficiently prepared for the next war: It is facing problems renewing its rocket arsenal due to smuggling attempts thwarted by Israel, because of the Egyptian siege and, according to reports, due to damage to the tunnel system.
Flotilla became ‘ship of fools’
The sovereign integrity of states is one of those building blocks on which the modern world operates.
It is a guiding tenet of international law, and one of the founding principles of the United Nations.
In the case of Israel’s protection of the waters on the southern end of its country, these principles are confirmed by the Oslo Accords and more recently by the UN Security Council.
So when a New Zealand politician openly and unashamedly decides to violate international law and another country’s sovereignty for the sake of a media stunt, that act will inevitably reflect poorly on that politician, the party they represent, and sadly, even on our Parliament.
What made matters worse in this case was that the politician concerned – Green MP Marama Davidson – participated in a breach of Israel’s sovereignty for no apparent purpose. When the protest ended more mundanely than expected, she was forced to resort to melodramatic language to dramatise events. (h/t jelsie)
Israel deports activists on ‘women’s boat’ for Gaza
Israel has deported all but one of a group of women activists who tried to break its security blockade of the Gaza Strip by boat earlier this week, the Interior Ministry said Friday.
A ministry spokeswoman said the last activist would leave the country later in the day.
“All the boat’s passengers have left Israel except a woman who will fly to Oslo this afternoon,” Interior Ministry spokeswoman Sabin Haddad told AFP.
Thirteen women, including Nobel Peace Prize winner Mairead Maguire of Northern Ireland, were detained on Wednesday after their sailboat was stopped around 35 nautical miles off the coast of Gaza.
The Zaytouna-Oliva set sail from Barcelona in September with women of various nationalities. Organizers said among the other women detained were Algerian MP Samira Douaifia, Swedish politician Jeannette Escanilla and Ann Wright, a former US Army colonel and State Department official who resigned over the 2003 Iraq war.
Others came from Australia, Malaysia, Norway, Russia, Spain, South Africa, Sweden and Britain.
Dubbed “Women’s Boat to Gaza,” the vessel was part of the wider Freedom Flotilla Coalition that consists of pro-Palestinian boats that regularly seek to go to Hamas-run Gaza to try to break the blockade.
PreOccupiedTerritory: Zionist Union Still Looking For Way To Show Hurricane Matthew Bibi’s Fault (satire)
Leaders of the opposition Zionist Union faction in the Knesset have yet to develop a coherent approach to blaming Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu for the devastation of Hurricane Matthew, sources within the political alliance reported today.
Aides who spoke on condition of anonymity told reporters that Labour Party chief Isaac Herzog, who formally leads the Opposition, and the number two seat in the Zionist Union, HaTnuah leader Tzippi Livni, remained at odds over how to best accuse Netanyahu of either fomenting the category-four storm or of allowing it to occur through negligence. The disagreement has hamstrung officials in the ranks of both parties who cannot formulate a consistent line on how to blame Bibi for Matthew.
A late-night session at Zionist Union headquarters ended with no resolution on what specific actions or inactions Netanyahu has adopted that led to Hurricane Matthew, which is currently striking Florida and has already wrought devastation in Haiti and killed hundreds. Herzog reportedly prefers to accuse Netanyahu of neglecting infrastructure in Florida and Georgia, whereas Livni and several others believe more effective political hay can be made of directly charging that Netanyahu created the maelstrom as a way of punishing the US for the Obama administration’s attitude and rhetoric on the Israeli presence beyond the Green Line.
A third option proposed by Labor MK Shelly Yechimovich was rejected by a quick faction vote. Yechimovich wanted the Zionist Union party line to accuse the prime minister of hiring freelance climate engineers to create the storm, instead of having the government handle the task directly, which would have preserved Israeli public sector jobs. Yechimovich’s proposal was voted down as unlikely to resonate with the voting public.
PA leader reportedly doing well after minor surgery
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is reportedly doing well after undergoing a cardiac exam and a catheterization procedure at Istishari Hospital in Ramallah. Abbas was released on Thursday evening.
The tests showed that Abbas' cardiac health is fine, and he was seen waving to reporters when he left the hospital on Thursday evening, according to a Reuters report.
"Thank God, everything is fine. I made it through the operation. It was easy, and now I'm leaving," Abbas told Palestinian television before getting into his car.
Abbas, 81, had been brought to the hospital earlier Thursday. There had been reports that he suffered from cardiac trouble, but he has never confirmed them.
Report: Arafat's Nephew Emerging As Successor To Abbas
The nephew of late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat is reported to be the most likely candidate to head the Palestinian Authority after an aging Mahmoud Abbas steps down.
After Arab leaders called on Abbas to choose a successor, the son of Arafat’s sister Nasser al-Kidwa is likely to be tapped for the position, according to a report by Israel’s Channel 2.
Kidwa, 63, a member of Abbas’ Fatah party, served a stint as Palestinian foreign minister and deputy UN-Arab League envoy to Syria respectively. He is also the director of the Yasser Arafat Foundation, established after his uncle’s death in 2004.
Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, Jordan’s King Abdullah II, and representatives from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have all spoken to Abbas, urging him to name a successor in the event of his resignation or if he is deemed unable to continue in office.
All four nations assured Abbas that his children will be protected when he leaves his position.
Hamas Legalizes Same Sex Unions in the Gaza Strip (satire)
The Hamas government said Friday it will recognize same-sex marriages performed in any of the over 1,000 smuggling tunnels situated along the border between the Gaza Strip and Israel.
“Something unexpected and fabulous happened during those long, lonely nights inside those dark, dusty tunnels during last summer’s war,” explained Hamas Justice Minister Abdul-Malik Kassis. “While resisting the usurper Zionist government’s siege against Palestine, those smuggling tunnels became snuggling tunnels,” Kassis elaborated.
“After the first couple of weeks of our magnificent struggle against the Zionist assault on our people,” Justice Minister Kassis noted, “our military commanders began to notice some peculiar things during surprise inspections of the tunnels. At first, we assumed that our young Fedayeen were simply being diligent about keeping their mixed martial arts skills sharp with all that grappling, wrestling and pinning.”
However, the dawning of a new age could no longer be denied when “more and more of the urban warfare courses taking place inside the tunnels were being conducted in loin clothes,” Kassis reflects.
“This isn’t your parents’ Hamas,” Kassis enthused after the government decision was announced. “A marriage should be between a soul and a soul, not a gender and a gender,” the Interior Minister said.
Russia Warns Any Strikes On Assad's Forces Will Be Considered An Attack On Russian Forces
Any air strikes against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces will be considered a direct threat to Russian forces and prompt immediate retaliation, according to a Russian Defense Ministry official.
“Today, the majority of Russian officers from the Russian Center for reconciliation of opposing sides in the Syrian Arab Republic, are working on the ground, providing humanitarian help and holding talks with the leaders of local communities and militia units in the majority of Syrian provinces,” said Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov, a ministry spokesman, Thursday. “Russian S-300, S-400 air defense systems deployed in Syria’s Hmeymim and Tartus have combat ranges that may surprise any unidentified airborne targets. Operators of Russian air defense systems won’t have time to identify the origin of airstrikes, and the response will be immediate. Any illusions about ‘invisible’ jets will inevitably be crushed by disappointing reality.”
The “invisible jets” Konashenkov is likely referring to are the U.S. F-22 and F-35 fighter aircraft, both of which feature advanced stealth technology. Russian forces recently installed new S-300 surface-to-air missile batteries in Syria in an alleged attempt to protect their assets in the country. Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook responded Russia’s deployment of the new system by questioning the country’s true motives.
IRGC Warns Saudis Away From International Waters Near Iran
Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps warned Saudi Arabia to avoid sailing in international waters next to Iranian territory while the kingdom is conducting ongoing naval exercises, Iranian media reported on Wednesday.
“We declare to all the vessels present in Saudi Arabia’s stated wargames, including the Saudi navy’s vessels and others, that the IRGC Navy believes that principally, these drills are a clear instance of stirring tensions and weakening sustainable security in the Persian Gulf,” the IRGC Navy said in a statement. The force also called on the Saudis to avoid sailing in international waters near Iran’s own, declaring “that any such voyage would not be an instance of harmless passage.”
The Saudi exercises, which began Tuesday and include live-fire drills, are taking place in the Persian Gulf, Strait of Hormuz, and Gulf of Oman, Al Arabiya reported. According to the United States Energy Administration, some 17 million barrels of oil — about 30 percent of all seaborne-traded oil — passed through the Straits of Hormuz daily in 2013.
The commander of the Saudi exercises, Rear Admiral Majed bin Hazza’a al-Qahtani, stated that they were organized “in preparation for the protection of the marine interests of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia against any possible aggression.” Saudi Arabia has become concerned with the “growing clout in the region of Shiite Iran” in the wake of last year’s nuclear deal, which allowed the Islamic Republic to emerge from its international isolation, Al Arabiya noted.
Iran’s warning to Saudi Arabia comes amid increasing Iranian aggression in the waterways of the Middle East.
UN Chief Blasts Iran for “Alarming Rate” of Executions, Lack of Progress Under Rouhani
United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon blasted Iran for its “alarming rate” of executions and the lack of improvement made under the administration of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani in a report released this week.
Ban is “deeply troubled” by accounts “of executions, floggings, arbitrary arrests and detentions, unfair trials, denial of access to medical care and possible torture and ill-treatment,” according to the 19-page assessment, the last one issued before his term expires.
He also expressed concern “about continued restrictions of public freedoms and the related persecution of civil society actors, the persistence of discrimination against women and minorities and conditions of detention.”
The rate of executions — which last year reached a decade high of 966, according to the UN — is still a matter of concern to the world body, especially because trials “fall short of the international fair standards,” the report added.
Ban’s report also called attention to the case of anti-death penalty activist Narges Mohammadi, who was recently sentenced to 16 years in prison for founding and running a grassroots organization opposed to capital punishment.
Another Reason Iran Wants Boeings?
One of the key flashpoints between the Obama administration and Congress in the aftermath of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action has been the Islamic Republic’s desire to buy up to 100 Boeings. I had written here at COMMENTARY about how Iran’s explanation about Boeing (and Airbus) orders don’t make sense since they represent far more seats than Iran can realistically fill. It’s one thing for Iran to say it needs new planes for safety reasons; it’s another thing for the Iranian government to order three times more planes than it has passengers for.
One of the concerns of the American Congress has been that Iran has a habit of using its civilian airliners to ferry weaponry and fighters into Syria, Lebanon, and elsewhere. Perhaps, though, that’s only part of the reason why Iran wants so many different Airbus and Boeing planes. Consider this story, from the Iranian press: General Hossein Dehghan, Iran’s minister of defense, has unveiled a new, domestically produced jet engine dubbed the ‘Owj’ and announced that within two years, Iran would produce new turbofan and turbojet engines. The Owj displayed before Dehghan resembled General Electric’s J85 turbojet. It seems that Iran is unapologetic about reverse-engineering airplane parts in order to boost its own indigenous industry.
Congress may have been right to try to prevent the sale of Boeing aircraft to Iran, but not necessarily just because of the fear of terror. President Obama, Secretary of State John Kerry, and Treasury Secretary Jack Lew have sought successfully to push the licensing for the deal through anyway. At issue is not only American security but also American intellectual property and the health of many of American manufacturing and electronics companies. Alas, preventing Iranian terrorism and protecting American jobs may be a secondary concern to three ambitious politicians who prioritize short-term diplomatic legacy above all else.
Merkel faces backlash after collapse of case against German comedian for insulting Erdogan
Angela Merkel is facing a backlash following the collapse of a criminal case her government authorised against one of Germany’s most popular comedians for insulting the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Jan Böhmermann lashed out at Mrs Merkel’s government in his first public comments since prosecutors announced this week they were dropping the case against him for lack of evidence.
“If a joke causes a constitutional crisis, it’s not the joke that’s the problem, it’s the state,” Mr Böhmermann said.
Although the 35-year-old did not mention Mrs Merkel by name, the remark was clearly aimed at her government’s decision to allow the prosecution under Germany’s rarely invoked lese-majeste law.
His lawyer went further, accusing Mrs Merkel of prejudicing the case against him.
Public statements the chancellor made about the case “amounted to a public prejudgement” and “violated the constitutional principle of the separation of powers,” Christian Schertz said.
The Turkish government demanded Mr Böhmermann’s prosecution over a poem he read out on television in which he called Mr Erdogan a “goat-f*****” and described him watching child pornography.
Mr Böhmermann faced up to five years in prison under the lese-majeste law, which prohibits insulting a foreign head of state.
Douglas Murray: The Spectator took on Chancellor Merkel and President Erdogan – and won
Hurray! It is not often one gets good news, but here is some. Jan Boehmermann, the German comedian who read out a rude poem about Sultan Erdogan on German TV, has had the prosecution against him dropped. In the last couple of hours prosecutors in Mainz said that they did not have ‘sufficient evidence’ against him.
Well I say ‘Ha’ to that, for it is purest face-saving. The evidence was broadcast out on German television in March for any and all to see. President Erdogan complained and with the approval of Chancellor Merkel an ancient and outdated German law (about not insulting foreign rulers) was dusted off and Jan Boehmermann faced years in prison. What the prosecutors have in fact realised – and certain German politicians perhaps as well – is that the prosecution was politically impossible. Not least – and I say this with great pride – because the Chancellor in Germany cannot allow the prosecution of a person for a ‘crime’ which has also been committed by the British Foreign Secretary. President Erdogan, too, may find it hard to pretend that a German comedian must go to prison while only last week he shook the hand of a person who had committed precisely the same ‘offence’.
I must confess to an occasionally wounded readership that the reason why Boris Johnson was awarded the Spectator’s President Erdogan Offensive Poetry Competition in super-quick, ahead-of-deadline time for a rather poor rhyme was precisely in order to make this point. Many of you wrote spectacularly good and rude poems about the Turkish leader, nearly all of which deserved the prize ahead of Boris. But only one poem came from a man likely to be high up in the British government and so able to embarrass the German Chancellor into seeing that free speech is not a prosecutable crime.

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