Monday, December 19, 2016

From Ian:

Palestinians: Welcome to the World of Western-Funded Terrorism
Palestinians and their families are being financially rewarded by the West for taking part in terror attacks against Jews. It does not take a brain surgeon to figure out that this promotes terrorism.
Palestinian terrorists released from prison have far higher chances of getting a job with the Palestinian Authority (PA) government than people who went to university, because by carrying out an attack against Jews they become heroes, entitled to a superior job and salary.
The more time you spend in an Israeli prison, the more prestigious the job you will receive. Graduating from an Israeli prison is better than graduating from an Ivy League university.
These people have not been imprisoned for running a red light. Most of them are behind bars because they have masterminded suicide bombings and other terror attacks that have killed and maimed hundreds of innocent civilians during the past few decades.
So, when you hear that it is the PLO, not the PA, that pays the terrorists' salaries, you might want to mention that this statement is a sleight of hand designed to dupe unsuspecting and well-intentioned American and European donors.
It is time to tell Abbas and his associates, in terms that they understand, that the West will no longer fund terrorists. This message, above all others, will discourage terrorism -- and perhaps even encourage peace.
Aleppo: Reflection of world politics
Aleppo's fate is clear proof that the international community does not exist, and apparently never did, certainly not as far as the civilian population is concerned when it is stuck between the proverbial hammer and nail, targeted by a dictatorial regime and its powerful allies. Aleppo is being decimated; its residents are being killed by the hundreds and thousands, homes are being lost; but aside from several limp condemnations or expressions of grief from leaders in Europe and the United States, the world is silent.
For Israel, the lessons to be learned from Aleppo are clear: First, anyone who pins his hopes and stakes his future on help from the international community is bound to be disappointed. The world supports the strong and the victorious. Therefore it would behoove Israel to strengthen itself in earnest, as a necessary -- albeit not exclusive -- guarantee of its ongoing existence and growth in our region.
Second, the war in Syria will not go on forever. Its conclusion, possibly in victory for the regime and its allies, could come sooner than was expected in Israel. Assad returned to Aleppo and could also return to the Golan Heights, which he lost to the rebels two years ago. The window of opportunity that opened to Israel several years ago, to act freely in Syria against weapons shipments to Hezbollah, could also close.
Third, for the time being Assad is under the influence of Moscow, Iran and Hezbollah. Russia, supposedly, has claim to seniority. But in contrast to the Russians, who maintain presence in the air and sea, and who view Syria as another piece in an international game, the Iranians and Hezbollah have boots on the ground in the form of thousands of conscripts and volunteers, in Shiite militias formed by Iran to fight in Syria.
Fourth, winning the battle for Syria will free up forces, resources and energy for Iran and Hezbollah to move on to the next target. Neither wants a conflict with Israel, or to pay the necessary price of such a conflict, but their brazenness will undoubtedly reach new heights if and when the war in Syria ends.
Finally, terrorism and radical Islam will not vanish, but rather intensify with the events in Syria serving as a recruitment tool and motivation for more terrorist attacks. Israel is hundreds of kilometers away from Aleppo, but it could also pay the price of the tragedy transpiring there. It needs to account for all these eventualities and prepare on all fronts.

Elliott Abrams: The Next Ambassador to Israel
President-Elect Trump’s choice of David M. Friedman as his ambassador to Israel has occasioned both appropriate news coverage, and a barrage of nasty, ignorant, politically biased comments.
Most of those comments (including the poison-pen editorial in The New York Times) have informed readers that Mr. Friedman is unfit for this post because he is a “bankruptcy lawyer” lacking diplomatic experience. I was previously unaware that being a “bankruptcy lawyer” was equivalent to a crime of moral turpitude, but that is in any event an odd description of Mr. Friedman. In fact he is one of the top lawyers in that field in the United States, year after year being so listed in articles about the very best American lawyers. The New York Times tells us that he has since 1994 been a partner at a firm called Kasowitz, Benson, Torres, & Friedman, but does not bother to tell readers that he is in fact the Friedman of Kasowitz, Benson, Torres, & Friedman–a firm whose name was changed when he joined it, and which he has helped build to about 350 lawyers in seven cities. He is also a self-made man, the son of an Orthodox rabbi who came to the practice of law without the benefit of wealth or fancy connections.
To the Times all that is irrelevant; presumably they would prefer a fellow at a white-shoe Wall Street firm whose father or grandfather had been a diplomat, who belonged to the right clubs, and who rather than soil himself with the actual practice of law opens doors and makes connections. But I doubt most Americans take that view, and Mr. Trump did not. I’ve met Mr. Friedman once; we connected because I have a son who works in the Kasowitz firm. What do you learn from one meeting? Only that you’re dealing with one smart cookie, and that his involvement with Israeli affairs for decades has given him a far better insight than the average diplomat.
Of course that Mr. Friedman is a “bankruptcy lawyer” is not his only, nor his primary, disqualification in the eyes of the Left. You may be sure that if he were a lawyer handling traffic violations but belonged to J Street, they would all be applauding. Their real problem is that Mr. Friedman’s views are anathema to them. He thinks J Street is actually an anti-Israel rather than a pro-peace organization, that settlements are not an obstacle to peace, and other terrible things. He even thinks the U.S. embassy should be moved to Jerusalem. That these views are apparently shared by the President-Elect and will be American policy is of course what really troubles the Times and others, and they label all these “extremist views” and call Mr. Friedman “dangerous.”



Trump aide: Israeli envoy pick is not a rejection of two-state solution
Donald Trump’s chief of staff said on Sunday that the president-elect’s pick of lawyer David Friedman as the ambassador to Israel was not an indication that he rejects the notion of the two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
“There’s going to be things that individually people may believe in their hearts or in their mind,” Priebus said Sunday of Trump’s nominees to top posts. “But ultimately, it’s their job to represent the president-elect of the United States and his foreign policy.”
Over the course of the presidential campaign, Friedman was outspoken on his belief that West Bank settlement activity is not an obstacle to peace and that Israel does not face a “demographic threat” to its Jewish character if it fails to separate from the Palestinians. The 57-year-old bankruptcy attorney, a Hebrew-speaker, served along with Jason Dov Greenblatt on Trump’s Israel advisory committee during the campaign, becoming one of his main representatives to the Jewish community and Jewish media.
The tapping of Friedman has garnered criticism from liberal Jewish-American groups, who called the nomination reckless and dangerous, and Jewish congressmen who argued that the pick underscores the incoming administration’s “extremist agenda,” and will strain the Israel-US relationship.
Shmuley Boteach: Slandering Bannon, Whitewashing Iran
So why is Sam condemning Bannon, who used his platform at Breitbart to repeatedly condemn Iran for its illegal nuclear program to build weapons that could be used to carry out the regime’s stated intention of annihilating Israel?
Bannon is being accused of being an anti-Semite. That is character assassination, pure and simple.
Tell me how a man who publicly fights BDS, fights Iran, and opens a bureau in Jerusalem to support Israel is a Jew-hater? Tell me how a man who appoints some of the proudest Jews I know – like Joel Pollak – to the most senior positions at Breitbart is an enemy of our people?
I met Bannon at Trump Tower. You can imagine that the guy is pretty busy right now. Still, when I asked to meet him about the incoming A\administration’s human rights agenda, he agreed immediately and was generous with his time. It was a great conversation. I found him stimulating, direct, focused, warm, and knowledgeable. As I left, I was astonished that this is the man who was being demonized.
I write for Breitbart, just as I write for the Huffington Post, the Wall Street Journal, The Hill, the Jerusalem Post, the New York Observer, and The Daily Beast. I have seen racist nut-jobs comment on my posts at each of those outlets. It’s not unique to Breitbart.
As to extremist rhetoric, some of the most anti-Israel screeds I have ever read have appeared in places like the Huffington Post, even as I consider my long-time friend Arianna Huffington an obvious and phenomenal friend of the Jewish people.
Abbas’s de facto ‘successor’ doesn’t want to talk about ‘the day after’
Which Jibril Rajoub should we Israelis believe? The one who said that if the Palestinians had a nuclear bomb, they would use it against Israel, or the one who says that he is opposed to terror attacks?
“I did not say that. I said before the Oslo Accords, we were at war and everything was permissible, and if someone had a nuclear bomb, he would use it against Israel. But everything changed after we signed the accords, and that is over. All the rest is incitement against me and nonsense. I did not say that, and I do not plan to say such things.”
Then why have you called people who stabbed Israelis with knives, and were killed in the act, “shahids” (martyrs)?
“We regard anyone who is killed fighting against the occupation as a halal [he uses the Hebrew expression for “fallen soldier”] — a shahid. We honor him. And we will not ignore the fact that he fought for the Palestinian people. He sacrificed his blood and his life.”
Rajoub is known for his excellent connections in Israel among left-wing politicians, Jewish and Arab Knesset members, and businesspeople. His familiarity with Israeli politics is comparable to that of reporters on party affairs in the Israeli media. During my interview with him, he receives quite a few telephone calls from Israeli friends and acquaintances. “Do you know the kubbeh place in Or Yehuda?” he asks me. “Their kubbeh is the best.”
“Israeli-Palestinian Peace Unlikely During My Term in Power”, God Admits (satire)
HEAVEN — Echoing statements made by U.S. President Barack Obama, God acknowledged Saturday that a negotiated settlement to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict “is not in the cards” during his remaining time in power.
“While God believes steps can be taken to minimize violence and perhaps set the table for future negotiations, He has determined that a final status agreement is beyond reach for the foreseeable future,” one of God’s senior advisors told The Mideast Beast. “At this point, God’s goal is simply to preserve the possibility of a two-state solution for His successors in His position.”
God, who has grown frustrated with leaders on both sides, will not try to restart peace talks between Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, advisors said.
“There are other parts of the world that needs His attention, and He just can’t be bothered hosting any more futile peace talks,” the advisor admitted. “He gave it His best shot. Now it’s time to move on.”
55% of Israeli Arabs are ‘proud citizens’ of Israel, but 76% reject its definition as a ‘Jewish state’
Over three-quarters of Arab Israelis do not believe that Israel has the right to define itself as a Jewish state, according to a survey published on Monday.
The Israel Democracy Institute’s Peace Index also found that a majority of Jewish Israelis (52.5%) maintain that those “unwilling to affirm that Israel is the nation-state of the Jewish people should lose their right to vote.”
Even as over 76 percent rejected the right to define Israel as a Jewish state — with more than 57% saying they strongly disagree with the idea — most Arab Israelis (60.5%) described their personal situation as “good” or “very good” and 55% said they are “proud citizens” of the State of Israel, according to the survey.
Jewish Israelis, meanwhile, overwhelmingly say they are proud citizens (86%) and are satisfied with their personal situation (78%).
“There is no contradiction between the two,” said Prof. Tamar Hermann, the author of the study on the attitudes of Arab Israelis toward the state and personal satisfaction. Personal satisfaction is not directly impacted by the government, she said, noting the importance of local and family ties. And the rejection of the Jewish state as such is borne out of the official Palestinian Authority position which sees Judaism “as a religion, not a nation,” she maintained.
Peace In The Middle East
Shortly after meeting Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah, former PM Tony Abbott and Labor leader Bill Shorten arrived at a Jerusalem restaurant filled with Australian journalists.
By their own accounts, the unlikely Abbott and Shorten double act did in fact cover some serious ground during today’s Hamdallah encounter. “He was at his most interesting when talking about Daesh,” Abbott, using his preferred term for Islamic State, said of the Palestinian PM. Hamdallah described Islamic State as “terrorists using religion as a pretext for crime.”
Given the Palestinian Authority’s acceptance and support of terrorists from within their own movement, of course, this statement comes with certain qualifications – as does a claim from Hamdallah that “only three or four” of his people had joined Islamic State in Syria and northern Iraq.
If true, this would mean that substantially fewer Hamas and Fatah members had signed up for Islamic State jihad than have Australian citizens from Western Sydney alone.
The Palestinian PM “was at his most evasive”, Abbott added, “when talking about general accommodation of a two-state solution between Palestinians and Israelis.” Overall, said Shorten, the meeting was positive and beneficial, but came with this proviso: “It’s one thing to be thoughtful and reasonable when speaking in English during a closed meeting.
"It’s another thing to be thoughtful and reasonable when discussing the same issues in public in Arabic.”
Minister: Oust Arab MK over suspicions of smuggling cell phones to security prisoners
Environmental Protection Minister Zeev Elkin (Likud) is seeking the ouster of Joint Arab List MK Basel Ghattas over suspicions that Ghattas smuggled mobile phones to two Fatah security prisoners while visiting them at Ketziot Prison in southern Israel.
According to a Channel 2 news report Sunday evening, two officers from the Israel Police Lahav 433 National Crime Unit were waiting for Ghattas outside the prison earlier in the day while he visited the two prisoners. The police officers summoned him for questioning over concerns reported by Israel Prison Services officials, but he refused on the grounds of his immunity as a lawmaker.
Elkin wrote on Monday: "Within the framework of the [MK] Removal Law, I call on Knesset members to put an end to this phenomenon of sitting MKs who openly aid terrorist activity and support it, in complete contravention of the commitments they took upon themselves under the framework of Article 7A of the Knesset's Basic Law."
The minister asked for support for the motion from other MKs in an effort to have Ghattas dismissed from the Knesset immediately.
IDF tanks fire at Hamas targets in response to Gaza border shooting
Shots were fired at IDF troops stationed on the border near the southern Gaza Strip on Monday morning, the military said.
The soldiers were securing civilian engineering work near the border fence when they came under fire.There were no reports of injury or damage in the incident, but according to Channel 10 news, farmers in the area were advised by the army to stop working in the fields and to remain in their homes.
The IDF responded shortly afterward with tank fire targeting Gaza-based Hamas positions, which according to Palestinian media was located south of the Al Buraige refugee camp.
Earlier in December two Palestinian men were arrested after crossing into Israel from the Strip, one of whom had been armed with a knife and grenade. In November the IDF fired shots to disperse Palestinians trying to breach the border and in October four rockets emanating from the Gaza Strip hit Israel, leading the air force to strike Hamas targets.
Israel holds the militant group Hamas, which controls the Strip, responsible for any violence near the Gaza border.
The cross-border incident comes days after a Hamas militant was assassinated in Tunisia.
Israeli wounded in shooting attack, IDF launches manhunt
An Israeli man in his 20s was wounded early Monday when gunshots were fired at his vehicle near the village of Aboud in Judea and Samaria.
The man received first aid at the scene after being hit in the head by shards of glass. Shortly afterward he was evacuated by ambulance to Sheba Medical Center in central Israel.
An IDF spokesperson confirmed the shooting and said the army had launched a manhunt for the perpetrators.
IDF uncovers large weapons-making factory in Hebron basement
Security forces uncovered the largest illegal weapons factory this year overnight between Sunday and Monday in Hebron, a senior IDF officer said Monday morning.
According to the senior officer, the factory, found in the basement of a family house in the al-Fah industrial zone, included 15 lathes used to produced weapons components, including M16s, Carlo Gustav rifles, Russian 7.62 sniper rifles.
While the factory did not seem to be producing ammunition, in addition to the metal-working machines, security forces found 70 barrels full of hundreds of different types of ammunition. The ammunition for the M16's and Carlo Gustav rifles were found hidden in the walls of the building along with dozens of other firearm components.
Palestinian forces remove MPs seeking refuge in Red Cross offices
Palestinian forces entered the offices of the International Committee of the Red Cross near the West Bank city of Ramallah on Sunday, and removed three lawmakers who had sought refuge there.
MPs Shami Shami, Najat Abu Bakr and Jamal Tirawi, who along with Nasser Juma are all allies of Mohammad Dahlan, the former Gaza strongman who was ousted from Fatah by Abbas in 2010, were holed up in the International Red Cross offices, where they appealed for protection by the international community.
Last week, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas lifted the parliamentary immunity of five PA lawmakers, as he readied to level charges against them, sources in Abbas’s office and the Palestinian parliament said.
Arabic media reported that initially the parliamentarians were denied entry to the Palestinian legislature. They then went to the Red Cross building seeking international protection. A few hours later, Palestinian security forces entered the building, bringing out the lawmakers.
Out of respect to the Red Cross, the troops went in unarmed and removed the three peacefully, the report said.
Sources affiliated with Fatah claim that the three were staging a sit-in to protest having their immunity stripped from them. Abu Bakr claimed that they had been prevented from speaking to the media, human rights organizations or lawyers.
Pro-Hezbollah Newspapers Criticize Hamas for Aleppo Statement
Hamas’ critical reaction to the bloodshed in Aleppo raised the ire of pro-Hezbollah media in Lebanon.
Earlier this week, Hamas, a murderous terrorist group responsible for targeting and killing civilians, released a statement calling on the Arab world and the international community to stop the “massacre of civilians” in the flashpoint Syrian city.
Pro-Hezbollah media in Lebanon in turn harshly criticized Hamas’ statement and its punitive measures against Gazans who celebrated President Bashar Assad’s victory in the long-fought battle.
“Hamas, calm down for the sake of resistance,” a headline in the pro-Hezbollah Al Akhbar newspaper read, with the subheading reporting critically on the arrests and interrogations of pro-Assad Gazans.
“The many tentacles of the Muslim Brotherhood in the Arab and Islamic world started a coordinated campaign immediately after the Syrian Army recaptured the city of Aleppo,” the report read. “That campaign included the arrest of public figures and journalists in areas controlled by the Brotherhood.”
Abbas Rails Against Jacob’s Sons For ‘Defiling’ Palestinian Pit With Joseph (satire)
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas had angry words today for ten of Jacob’s sons, who threw their brother Joseph into a cistern near the town of Nablus, accusing them of contaminating a pure Palestinian pit with a filthy Hebrew.
Abbas spoke to reporters at the presidential palace in the de facto Palestinian capital this morning. In his remarks he called on the international community to take action to protect his people’s rights and to prevent the sons of Jacob from compromising the sanctity of Palestine by tolerating the presence of Jacobite feet or other limbs therein.
“Each stride the filthy Hebrews take in our land is a defilement of holy ground,” pronounced the president, now in the twelfth year of a four-year term. “We must liberate Palestine from the invaders who came here under false pretenses and dispossessed us of our heritage.” He vowed to find the authentic owner of the pits and to bring on his behalf a war crimes charge at the International Criminal Court against anyone descended of Jacob.
“An occupying power is barred under the Geneva Conventions from damaging the spiritual institutions and heritage of the occupied people,” continued Abbas. “Here the Zionist aggressors violate every norm, casting one their own unclean people – if they are even people, those sons of apes and pigs – into our sacred empty pits and rendering them defiled.” He added that the callous disregard for the pit extended to whatever creatures might lie in there, and that casting Joseph into the pit showcased the cruelty of the Hebrews toward whatever snakes and scorpions might inhabit it.
Jordan declares end of castle siege, says 4 gunmen killed
Jordanian security forces said early Monday morning that four "terrorist outlaws" had been killed in the southern city of Karak, where they had holed up in a Crusader-era castle after a shoot-out that killed nine people.
An official statement said the four assailants, who shot at police targets in the town before heading to Karak Castle, had automatic weapons. The castle is one of Jordan's most popular tourist attractions.
Large quantities of explosives, weapons and suicide belts were seized in a hideout, the statement said.
It made no mention of the assailants' identities or whether they belonged to any Islamist group, raising speculation they could have been tribal outlaws seeking vengeance against the state rather than Islamic State group operatives, who control parts of neighboring Syria and Iraq.
A Canadian woman, three other civilians and five police officers were among the nine killed during the exchange of gunfire between the assailants and security forces. At least 29 people were hospitalized, some with serious injuries.
Earlier, government spokesman Mohammad al-Momani said a manhunt to "eliminate" the gunmen had entered its final phase.
Jordan's position made it vulnerable to spillover of violence, Momani said.
Watchdog warns Iran it could soon bust cap on nuke-making material
The head of the UN nuclear agency said Monday that Iran is complying with obligations limiting uranium enrichment, but two diplomats say the agency has warned Tehran that unless it slows the process it could soon bust through its cap on material that could be used to make a bomb.
A nuclear deal between Iran and six world powers stipulates that Iran can possess only low-enriched uranium — which is not suitable for weapons — and no more than 300 kilograms (660 pounds) at any time. That’s far less than would be needed to make a nuclear weapon, even if it were further enriched to weapons-grade levels.
But even a slight violation of Iran’s enrichment commitments would be politically volatile at a time when the deal is on shaky ground. The incoming US administration wants the agreement renegotiated, and many American lawmakers oppose it. Iran says it won’t renegotiate the deal, and accuses the United States of reneging on commitments to lift sanctions.
The two senior diplomats, whose main focus is Iran’s nuclear program, spoke only on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to discuss confidential messages between the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency and Iran.
Iran insists it is not interested in nuclear arms. Its president, Hassan Rouhani, said after weekend talks with IAEA chief Yukiya Amano that his country would abide by the deal if other nations do as well.
Expert: Cash Transferred by Obama Admin to Tehran Led to Expansion of Iranian Military Budget by 39 Percent
The controversial transfer of hundreds of millions of dollars in cash to Tehran by the Obama administration a few months ago is likely being used to expand Iran’s defense budget, according to an analysis by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI).
According to former senior MEMRI analyst Dr. Nimrod Raphaeli, though “money is fungible,” and it cannot be established that the $1.7 billion (originally reported as $400 million) delivered in two tranches to the Islamic Republic in exchange for the release of American hostages has gone directly to Iran’s various military branches and operations, it, at a minimum, enabled the government to release an equal amount of money for defense purposes. It is noteworthy that the increase in the proposed defense budget for 2017 is approximately equal to the amount transferred by the US.
Raphaeli wrote that since mid-2013, when Hassan Rouhani succeeded Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as president, the regime’s allocations to the military have continuously grown. But ahead of the next fiscal year (March 2017-March 2018), the government submitted a draft budget that sees a sharp increase of 39 percent – amounting to a total of $10.3 billion – for defense, including a big increase in the budget of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).
Fresh findings in 1994 AMIA bombing case
New evidence in the Buenos Aires Jewish Community Center attack investigation has emerged after 22 years, which could shed light on how the terrorists carried it out.
The Prosecution Unit handling the AMIA case found a bucket in the Federal Police’s freezer that contained organic material and metallic particles taken from the victims’ bodies in 1994. These clues, evaluated in 2002 but then neglected until now, support the hypothesis that the attack was carried out with a van loaded with explosives.
The terrorist attack on July 18, 1994, on the building of the Asociación Mutual Israelita Argentina (AMIA, the Argentinean Israelite Mutual Association) was the deadliest in the country’s history, killing 86 people, including the bombers, and wounding more than 300.
Investigators have been unable to determine exactly how things played out on that deadly day.
After years of searching declassified documents in the Secretariat of Intelligence (Argentina’s top intelligence agency until it was dissolved in 2015), the Prosecution Unit found an old VHS tape labeled “Autopsies” that showed the red tissue bucket in the Federal Police’s freezer. Investigators were able to find the bucket. This evidence also included swabs with tissue samples, victims’ hair and other remains.
National prosecutors ordered that DNA tests be performed on the evidence.
If the results don’t match with the already identified victims, they could correspond either to an unknown victim or to a suicide terrorist.
Thus, the rediscovered bucket could be useful in identifying the attacker.




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