Monday, January 09, 2017

From Ian:

NGO Monitor: Submission of the Institute for NGO Research Position Paper Regarding the Preparation of a Discriminatory Blacklist Pursuant to UNHRC Resolution 31/36
Pursuant to UN Human Rights Council Resolution 31/36, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, in conjunction with BDS activists, is currently preparing a discriminatory blacklist intended to defame and economically destroy companies doing business with Israel. The ultimate goal is to isolate, demonize, and harm the Jewish State.
The UNHRC’s discriminatory blacklist operates from the premise that business in occupied territory is “illegal settlement activity” and is barred by international law. In fact, there is no such prohibition and almost every country engages in and/or facilitates business activities in settlements in situations of occupation throughout the globe.
The discriminatory blacklist also targets companies providing security services to the State of Israel, by labeling legitimate security measures (undertaken everywhere in the world) as “illegal settlement activity”. The purpose is to disrupt efforts to protect civilians from Palestinian terrorism and is part of a decades-long UN campaign to minimize and justify Palestinian violence.
The discriminatory blacklist promotes the violation of the documents known as the Oslo Accords (1993-5), mutually agreed to by the PLO and Israel, and guaranteed by the UN and the international community. It seeks to punish activity necessary to carry out Israeli security and infrastructure obligations mandated by the agreements.
In contrast to actual international law, the interpretation of “settlement activity” used in Resolution 31/36 is so absurdly broad that the UNHRC may blacklist entities with any presence and for whatever purpose over the 1949 Armistice lines. Under the UNHRC’s inexplicable logic of Resolution 31/36, being the “wrong” person (as secretly defined by anonymous OHCHR bureaucrats) who is cleaning one’s hands in a sink over the line could be enough for inclusion on the blacklist.
The discriminatory UNHRC blacklist is meant as a “backdoor” means to impose sanctions. The UNHRC, however, does not have this power. Under Chapter VII, Article 41 of the UN Charter, the power to levy sanctions and implement enforcement mechanisms is solely vested in the UN Security Council. The creation of the blacklist is therefore an illegal usurpation of the Security Council by both the UNHRC and the OHCHR in violation of the UN Charter.
Bomb Threats at Jewish Community Centers in London and America’s East Coast Cities
Jewish community centers in a widespread number of American states were evacuated due to bomb threats on Monday morning, while across the ocean, the same phenomenon was taking place in London, England as well.
Jewish schools across the United Kingdom were placed on alert after bomb threats were called into metro London Jewish schools in Roehampton, Ilford and Brent on Monday morning. The schools were “warned” that explosive devices had been planted on the premises. Thorough searches were conducted at all three sites and other schools were placed on precautionary lock-downs until the “all clear” was received.
Bomb threats were also called in to a few non-Jewish schools as well, according to the British Jewish Chronicle news site.
“Police were alerted at around 10:30am hrs on Monday, 9 January, to phone calls made to schools in Roehampton, Ilford and Brent in which bomb threats were made. Police officers attended the schools. All three incidents were stood down a short time later. An investigation into the threat will be conducted,” Metropolitan Police said in a statement.
Meanwhile, in the United States, bomb threats were called into Jewish Community Centers (JCC)s in Delaware, Tenafly, New Jersey; Miami Beach and Jacksonville, Florida; in Rockville, Maryland; in West Nashville, Tennessee, and Columbia, South Carolina. (h/t Jewess)

Friends of Israel Initiative: Letter to President of France François Hollande
Dear Mr. President,
We are a group of former Heads of State, Heads of Government, Nobel Laureates, Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Defense, Military officers, Historians, Scholars and Business Leaders with a simple goal: to insist on a fair and reasonable debate about the State of Israel, the fate of which we see as intimately intertwined with the fate of our own nations in this troubled era.
In the spirit of the search for lasting solutions in the Middle East, we write to urge you in the strongest possible terms to call off the peace conference you plan to host on January 15. The conference will do nothing to accomplish peace and instead result in further harm to its very prospects.
We note with some alarm the narrative proposed by French diplomats in the media surrounding this endeavor, born no doubt of genuine concern but not of genuine opportunity, and framed in terms that are inaccurate and untimely.
Coming in the wake of UN Security Council resolution 2334, and U.S. Secretary of State Kerry's subsequent speech on December 28 of last year, both of which gravely misportrayed the realities underlying the conflict and have damaged prospects for peace, the Paris conference would undeniably also serve to reinforce currents of diplomacy that run directly counter to peace. A fundamental truth of the conflict remains that peace can only be achieved on the basis of direct negotiations between the parties with no preconditions.
Israeli diplomat speaks about dangers of Paris conference
The Jerusalem Center has released a video of Former Director General of the Foreign Ministry and former Ambassador Dore Gold explaining why the upcoming Paris conferences are dangerous to Israel's future.
"Some seventy countries are expected to attend [the Paris conference]," Gold said. "It's not at all clear if there will be any Palestinian delegation attending - they've given mixed signals. But Israel has been very firm that it will not attend and that it objects to the whole idea of the conference...
"Israel learned through many years of negotiations and that the only way we resolve our differences with our neighbors is by sitting face to face at the peace table. That's how we reached peace with Egypt in 1979... That is exactly how we reached peace with Jordan... That is what works. Direct negotiations.
"What is being planned in Paris first and foremost gets us away from those direct talks at the peace table into a very complex world of multilateral negotiations with different places... That's not how we made peace in the past, and that's not how we'll make peace in the future..
"What could easily happen [without direct negotiations] is...they'll say they never actually decided they accepted the finality of diplomacy. And that could easily happen..
"Paris is setting Israel up for an international discussion of its future, without real reconciliation being reached. And Moscow is setting up a very disturbing meeting between Fatah and Hamas that will put internationally recognized terrorist organizations into the mix," Gold concluded.
The Dangers of the January 15 “Peace Talks” in Paris

Protecting Palestine
Not long ago, I was talking to a Fatah official about Palestinian aspirations, especially his party’s sharp emotions about Hamas, the Palestinian fundamentalist movement that rules Gaza and would gladly overthrow the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority on the West Bank. Fear, loathing, secular outrage (which may have been amplified to please Western ears), and a certain sadness about unrequited Palestinian fraternity in the face of Israeli oppression punctuated our conversation. When I finally tired of his urgent demand that America rectify Israeli transgressions or see violence rip the West Bank, I asked him how long he thought the Palestinian Authority could survive if Israel yanked its support to Fatah's security apparatus. I suggested one month. He remonstrated: "We could probably last two."
What has been lost, again, in Barack Obama's final venting against Israel through his abstention in the United Nations Security Council resolution against all Israeli settlements on the West Bank and Jewish homes in East Jerusalem is how disconnected American foreign policy on this imbroglio has been from the larger issues riling the Middle East. The truth about Fatah's security weaknesses is symptomatic of the truth about the Palestinians: They can exist as a non-Islamist polity only if Israel protects their attenuated nation-state. If the Jews pull back, then the militant Muslim faithful will probably recast the Palestinian identity, wiping away the secular Palestinian elite who have defined the Palestinian cause among Westerners since the Israelis and the Palestine Liberation Organization first started sparring with each other in 1964.
The Israelis have granted the West Bank Palestinians the opportunity to take a pass on the ongoing implosion of the Muslim Arab world. That pass also extends, with fewer guarantees, to the Hashemite monarchy in Jordan, which could have a much harder time surviving with a triumphant Hamas on its border. We assume that East Bank Palestinians prefer Abdullah II, with his Palestinian wife, to fundamentalists from either bank. That might be wrong.
Terrorist who killed Danny Gonen gets two life sentences
An Israeli military court on Monday sentenced the terrorist who murdered Danny Gonen 19 months ago to two life terms, an IDF spokesman said.
The Judea military court also ruled that Mohammad Abu Shahin must pay Gonen's family 3.5 million shekels ($910,000, 860,00 euros) in compensation for the June 19, 2015 killing, a statement said.
Abu Shahin was also convicted of 13 counts of attempted murder for a series of shootings between April 2014 and July 2015 targeting Israeli civilians and security forces, the statement said.
The court said Abu Shahin targeted "soldiers and civilians solely because they were Jewish" and recommended Abu Shahin should not be pardoned and his sentence should not be shortened.
Israel's Shin Bet internal security agency said Abu Shahin belonged to an armed group linked to Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah party.
Gonen was hiking with a friend near the Binyamin region town of Dolev, and stopped to help out when a passing Arab asked for water. The Arab then shot Gonen and attempted to shoot his friend, Netanel Hadad, who was wounded in the attack.
PA and Hamas dispute leads to electricity shortage in Gaza
A long-simmering dispute between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority over who has to foot the bill for the fuel that powers the Gaza Strip’s power plant has severely curtailed electricity production. But for Palestinians left to deal with the bitter winter cold with just three hours of electricity a day, the excuses are of little consolation.
“Yesterday, I had only three hours and 15 minutes of electricity at home,” one Gaza City resident, who asked to only be identified by the first letter of his name, Y, told The Times of Israel. “That’s it. The rest of the day there is nothing.”
“Two, three months ago we still had eight hours of electricity [a day],” Y. said, adding that “now all of the Gaza Strip receives just a little over three hours of electricity a day. During the winter weather, this can be dangerous.”
Heating homes by means of indoor bonfires has become common in Gaza, as has the use of candles as lighting, which has led to several fatal fires.
The latest crisis surrounding electricity supply in Gaza did not start overnight. It is the outcome of a long-running disagreement between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas over the payment of excise taxes for the fuel that is used in the power station in Gaza.
IsraellyCool: Gaza To Get New Comedy Festival
Gaza is set to get its first comedy festival. And that’s no joke.
At a launching ceremony held Dec. 29 at Rotus restaurant, Maimas for Media Production formally announced the planning of Gaza’s first comedy festival to be held March 2017.
The ceremony, which the organizers offered as a positive end to a difficult year for Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, included theatrical performances and comedy shows by five Palestinian comedians and live bands.
The ceremony featured a short performance by famous Korean stand-up comedian Wonho Chung, who speaks fluent Arabic. In a previously recorded video, Chung expressed his admiration for the residents of the Gaza Strip, praising their steadfastness in the face of the siege and harsh living conditions and saying that comedy and laughter are powerful ways to ease the pain and grief of everyday reality.
Chung said he will participate in the comedy festival and expressed hope that the shows will bring smiles to the sad faces of the people of Gaza.
PreOccupiedTerritory: Palestinians Argue Whether Schedule Calls For Denouncing Or Embracing ISIS (satire)
A day after a Palestinian terrorist attack that killed four Israelis, Palestinian leaders have found themselves amidst vehement disagreement over today’s tactic: should they be embracing and lauding the attack and its technique while calling for more of the same, or should they be distancing themselves from the massacre?
Rival factions within the Palestinian leadership have offered a confused response that involves elements of both approaches, sowing uncertainty in the Palestinian street. While initial reactions in Gaza, Ramallah, Hebron, and elsewhere in Palestinian territory featured celebratory distribution of candy, even fireworks, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s declaration that the perpetrator of the truck-ramming attack was a Daesh supporter prompted a Palestinian announcement this morning that their security forces had arrested nearly two dozen ISIS members. The back-and-forth has left many Palestinians, including those in leadership position, unclear on which of the conflicting attitudes they are supposed to display today.
“So are we for or against Daesh today?” wondered Jibril Rajoub, the Palestinian Minister of Sport. “Am I politicizing and weaponizing sport today as a declared opponent of the Islamic State, and likening Israel to the Islamic State, or am I excusing our own use of Islamic-State-type brutality as a legitimate response to Israeli occupation? I need to know.”
Some of the confusion, explained Rajoub, stems from a timetable sent to all Fatah faction leaders at the start of the month with Monday and Tuesday of this week allotted to pro-ISIS rhetoric, but the announcement of the anti-ISIS arrests this morning caught most of the officials by surprise. “We’re not offering a coherent line here,” he lamented.
Iran: U.S. Surrendered More Than $10 Billion in Gold, Cash, Assets
The Obama administration has paid Iran more than $10 billion in gold, cash, and other assets since 2013, according to Iranian officials, who disclosed that the White House has been intentionally deflating the total amount paid to the Islamic Republic.
Senior Iranian officials late last week confirmed reports that the total amount of money paid to Iran over the past four years is in excess of $10 billion, a figure that runs counter to official estimates provided by the White House.
The latest disclosure by Iran, which comports with previous claims about the Obama administration obfuscating details about its cash transfers to Iran—including a $1.7 billion cash payment included in a ransom to free Americans—sheds further light on the White House’s back room dealings to bolster Iran’s economy and preserve the Iran nuclear agreement.
Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi confirmed last week a recent report in the Wall Street Journal detailing some $10 billion in cash and assets provided to Iran since 2013, when the administration was engaging in sensitive diplomacy with Tehran aimed at securing the nuclear deal.
Ghasemi disclosed that the $10 billion figure just scratches the surface of the total amount given to Iran by the United States over the past several years.
UN Chief Reportedly Concerned Iran May Have Violated Arms Embargo by Supplying Weapons to Hezbollah
The United Nations chief expressed concern to the Security Council that Iran may have violated an arms embargo by supplying weapons and missiles to Lebanese Shi'ite group Hezbollah, according to a confidential report, seen by Reuters on Sunday.
The second bi-annual report, due to be discussed by the 15-member council on Jan. 18, also cites an accusation by France that an arms shipment seized in the northern Indian Ocean in March was from Iran and likely bound for Somalia or Yemen.
Most U.N. sanctions were lifted a year ago under a deal Iran made with Britain, France, Germany, China, Russia, the United States and the European Union to curb its nuclear program. But Iran is still subject to an arms embargo and other restrictions, which are not technically part of the nuclear agreement.
The report was submitted to the Security Council on Dec. 30 by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon before he was succeeded by Antonio Guterres on Jan. 1. It comes just weeks before U.S. President-elect Donald Trump, who has threatened to either scrap the nuclear agreement or seek a better deal, takes office.
US Navy fires warning shots at Iranian ships — report
A US Navy vessel fired three warning shots at a group of Iranian ships that approached the destroyer at high speed in the Strait of Hormuz, Reuters reported.
US defense officials said the USS Mahan had called on the four Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps ships to slow down, but they continued to approach at high speed.
In response, the American destroyer fired flares and a helicopter dropped a “smoke float” signaling device, according to Reuters.
The Iranian ships had come within 800 meters (half a mile) of the USS Mahan, which was escorting two other ships in the Strait of Hormuz.
Iran has previously harassed US Navy ships in the Persian Gulf and around the Strait of Hormuz, with the most notable case being Iran’s capture of 10 US Navy sailors last January who had drifted into Iranian waters after experiencing mechanical problems.
The Strait of Hormuz is a narrow waterway connecting the Persian Gulf to the Indian Sea through which a fifth of the world’s oil supply passes.
Rafsanjani and Reform in Iran
Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, President of the Islamic Republic of Iran from 1989 to 1997, is dead, and the New York Times is inconsolable. Rafsanjani, you see, was a “reformer,” a “protector,” according to the Times, “of what was left of Iran’s marginalized reformist movement and others with more moderate views than the conservative hard-line clerics who hold sway in Iran’s security forces and judiciary.” As always, reality and what the New York Times reports couldn’t be farther apart.
Rafsanjani, said the Times, “supported Hassan Rouhani, the current president, who is now suddenly bereft of a powerful and influential background figure with Islamic revolutionary credentials that could not be questioned.” Without a trace of self-awareness, the Times’ longtime Tehran correspondent, Thomas Erdbrink, added in the very next sentence that “Mr. Rafsanjani” was also “a longtime comrade of the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, although the two had their disagreements.”
Erdbrink didn’t explain how Rafsanjani could be simultaneously a “reformer” who supported Rouhani and a “longtime comrade” of the “hardliner” Khamenei, and with good reason: the whole idea of a “reformist movement” within the Iranian regime is a fiction, as Obama adviser Ben Rhodes revealed, to the administration’s embarrassment, in the Times in May 2016. That was when the Times published an effusive profile of Rhodes, in which Times reporter David Samuels revealed that “the way in which most Americans have heard the story of the Iran deal presented—that the Obama administration began seriously engaging with Iranian officials in 2013 in order to take advantage of a new political reality in Iran, which came about because of elections that brought moderates to power in that country—was largely manufactured for the purpose for selling the deal.”
The chief false and misleading aspect of Obama’s presentation of the deal to the American public was his claim that he was dealing with moderate elements of Iran’s Islamic regime—that, according to Samuels, was a “narrative that Rhodes shaped.” Rhodes propagated the falsehood that Rouhani was a “moderate” who was struggling against “hard-liners” within the regime. Samuels describes this as “actively misleading,” as is Erdbrink’s claim on Rafsanjani’s death that he was the chief supporter of this non-existent “reformist movement,” of which Rouhani was supposedly a part.
New Venezuelan vice president accused of antisemitism, ties to Iran, Hezbollah
Venezuelan far-left President Nicolas Maduro tapped for his new vice president former minister Tareck El Aissami, who has been accused of antisemitism and ties to Iran and the terrorist group Hezbollah.
The appointment was announced last week, according to reports, including the Miami Herald.
El Aissami is a known entity in the world of US intelligence. He is allegedly a part of Venezuela’s state drug-trafficking network and has ties to Iran, Syria, and the Lebanese terrorist group Hezbollah. If Maduro is ousted, as his opposition is calling for, El Aissami will take the helm of the South American nation.
“Not only implicated in drug trafficking and relations with the Colombian terrorist FARC movement, El-Aissami has inherited Chavez’ hatred of Israel and Jews and can now pursue Maduro’s antiaemitism, further threatening Jewish lives in Venezuela,” declared the Wiesenthal Center’s representative in Latin America, Ariel Gelblung, on Friday.
“Indeed El-Aissami may transform antiaemitism into state policy and further the transplantation of the Middle East conflict to South America,” Gelblung added.
Maduro is the heir of late leader Hugo Chavez, whose socialist regime had ties to hard-line Islamists.
Despite BDS, West Bank industrial zones are booming
With EU labeling decisions and BDS pushing for international boycotts, West Bank industrial parks are seeing a boom, with a new park set to be built soon; regional council head: companies marketing to Africa, India, China.
Despite BDS calls to boycott goods produced in the West Bank, a recent report has revealed that West Bank goods are more in demand than ever before.
At the Shahak industrial park being built in the northern West Bank, over 100 dunams have been sold to developers. The Barkan industrial park outside of Ariel - which already has 160 factories and companies – has registered a further 60 companies who want to relocate to the area.
Due to this huge increase in demand, another industrial park is set to open. Called the Nahal Rabah – Gates of Shomron Industrial Park, it will be located next to Sha’ar Tikvah and Oranit, putting it within a 20 minute drive of Petah Tikvah.
The industrial park will include both manufacturing and hi-tech companies, and will be owned by the Shomron Regional Council in conjunction with the Oranit and Elkana local councils.
Witness to the BDS loss at Modern Language Association
As reported extensively on this site, the Modern Language Association held its annual convention this weekend in Philadelphia.
At the meeting a resolution to boycott Israeli academic institutions was defeated and a resolution opposing academic boycotts was passed and is now before the general membership. For coverage see here and here.
I am an MLA member, and I was there. Unfortunately, for professional reasons, I am not able to write under my own name. Such is the nature of the BDS academic boycott. The under-the-radar boycott is for real, even as pro-BDS faculty push for a formal boycott such at that attempted at MLA.
Here’s what I observed, and what I think the implications are for the academic boycott movement – and the opposition.
The atmosphere was tense. The sessions were highly charged and emotional. Speakers compared each other to the Judenrat and the Spanish Inquisition. People were visibly nervous.
For the other 99% of conference attendees, on the other hand, the MLA was business as usual. The bar in the lobby of the Philadelphia Downtown Marriott was constantly packed, the atmosphere was social, festive, and gregarious. In the corridors just outside the rooms where the BDS focused sessions were taking place, you’d be hard pressed to detect that anything other than great fun. It’s not clear how many of the estimated 8,000 or so conference attendees even knew, much less cared, about the drama at the Delegate Assembly this weekend.
The Modern Language Association and BDS
The condemnation of Israel, a country so advanced in its treatment of women and that is also struggling to improve their status and opportunities, is a disgrace — especially since the MLA has said nothing about the oppressive conditions under which many Arab women live in the rest of the Middle East. When will the MLA pass a resolution condemning genital mutilation, honor killings and other crimes against Arab women?
For this reason, I reject intersectionality. Intersectionality absorbs all groups and cultures into two categories: “oppressed” and “oppressors.” But this stigmatization just recirculates essentialist, fixed categories. The difference between women is erased, leaving a generalized group that blurs all histories, societies, cultures and politics into a stark and reductive binary opposition.
That Israel is the focus of this effort to protect difference and otherness is an utmost irony. Jews have been, and apparently remain, the “other” for centuries. The current anti-Judaism of the boycott movement — which calls for a boycott rather than pressuring both Israel and Palestinians to negotiate an agreement of mutual recognition — despicably tries to turn the Jew into the oppressor.
A much more powerful ethic would allow all voices to be heard — and recognize the difference and otherness of all groups — rather than attempting to erase one particular community through a boycott movement.
South African President: Don't visit Israel
South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma is calling on South Africans not to visit Israel in order to show solidarity with “the people of Palestine”, the Africa News website reported Sunday.
Zuma’s comments came at the 105th anniversary celebration of the ruling African National Congress (ANC), during which he reiterated the party’s solidarity with the “oppressed people of the world”, citing “Palestine” as an example.
“The people of Palestine continue to suffer in their rightful quest for self-determination … We reiterate that we firmly discourage travel to Israel for causes not related to fostering peace in the region,” Zuma was quoted as having said in a speech heard by thousands of party supporters.
Zuma also said his party supported of UN Resolution 2334, which was passed last month by the Security Council and which condemned Israeli presence in Judea, Samaria, and Gaza. He called on the Palestinian people to unite and achieve their goal, according to Africa News.
Zuma and other members of his party have continuously expressed anti-Israel sentiments in recent years.
Israel wiped off the map by airlines?
The map shown in the image above appeared on TV screens on a Royal Air Maroc flight from Sao Paulo to Rabat. Instead of the State of Israel, the term 'Palestinian Territories' appears over the area and there is no mention of Israeli cities whatsoever.
This is not the first time an airline has erased Israel from its maps of the region. In 2015, Air France left Israel out of their in-flight maps, causing a passenger to send the misrepresentative map to the Facebook page of pro-Israel organization Stand With Us.
In a letter to Air France chairman and CEO, Frédéric Gagey, the Simon Wiesenthal Center director for international Relations, Dr. Shimon Samuels, noted that, “French members of our center have sent us reportedly captured shots from the English and French language of an Air France flight-path, taken last week between New York and Paris, and the locations ‘Israel’ and ‘Tel Aviv’ are glaringly absent.”
The letter noted that, “We are asking whether Air France has succumbed to the BDS [Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions] campaign to delegitimize the Jewish State by literally wiping it off the map?” Air France issued an apology, saying they “deeply regret this incident, due to a map scale and display problem which is currently being resolved.”
Who’s Really Behind the Academic Boycott Against Israel?
This weekend (Jan. 7th), anti-Israel activists are forcing the Modern Language Association (MLA), a 25,000-member academic organization, to vote on a resolution calling for a boycott of Israeli academic institutions. Similar proposals have been widely condemned and rejected by the MLA in the past. Indeed, a large group of Nobel Prize winners called the boycott against Israel “antithetical” to academic freedom and freedom of expression, and most likely a form of, “discrimination by virtue of national origin.” Meanwhile, supporters of the boycott have largely responded to critics by claiming that their actions are grounded in principles like social justice, human rights, and international law. This stated commitment to progressive values should be judged against a disturbing new fact which has come to light: the US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (USACBI) receives its funding through a hate group with a long history of promoting racism and violence.
USACBI is the leading organization pushing for academic boycotts against Israel in American academic associations. Numerous members of USACBI’s leadership are spearheading the campaign within the MLA, including one who was recently elected to the MLA’s executive committee. In its mission statement, the organization claims to stand up for, “equality, self-determination, human rights… and true democracy,” while espousing non-violence. And yet for years now, USACBI has received fiscal sponsorship from Al-Awda – a group which represents the very opposite agenda.
Al-Awda is an activist organization which traffics in racism and wild conspiracy theories, and whose leaders have celebrated the murder of innocent civilians. According to the ADL, Al-Awda has voiced support for racist terrorist groups like Hamas and Hezbollah since its inception in 2000. In a series of protests sponsored by the group in 2006, Al-Awda speakers made statements such as, “we are all Hezbollah… I believe in armed struggle,” and “this will not come to an end until Israel is finished, until there is no Israel”. Meanwhile, the crowds at these protests chanted racist slogans like, “Palestine is our country and the Jews are our dogs!” (h/t Alexi)
Middle East Monitor plumbs new depths
Regular HP readers will need little reminder of the toxic nature of the Middle East Monitor site (“MEMO”), whose strapline is “Creating New Perspectives” and which claims to provide “carefully reasoned commentaries rooted in factual evidence”. In 2011, MEMO came to the defence of Palestinian hate preacher Raed Salah. More recently, it has helped to fund the conspiracy theorist David Miller. The Community Security Trust has more than once accused MEMO of promoting antisemitic canards (here and here; the original offending posts have been removed from MEMO’s site). Petra Marquardt Bigman has noted MEMO’s “open sympathies for Hamas.” MEMO’s director is Daud Abdullah; its senior editor is Ibrahim Hewitt; its researchers and writers include Ben White and Yvonne Ridley; its “honorary advisers” include Tariq Ramadan, Jenny Tonge and Lord Nazir Ahmed. In recent months, MEMO has given a platform to Asa Winstanley, to claim - in the face of all the evidence – that the Labour Party’s antisemitism crisis was “fabricated”; and to Ben White, to whitewash and justify the violent intimidation of Jewish students. You get the idea.
Even by MEMO’s standards, however, a recent, anonymous post on the scandal of missing Yemenite babies in Israel has plumbed new depths. The entire post (which also appears on the Palestine Chronicle website) is reproduced below (emphasis added):
400,000 Yemeni babies missing in Israel
Israel last week made public a database of 400,000 Jewish Yemeni children that have disappeared since the 1950s, the Times of Israel reported.
BBC and Guardian reports on Alan Duncan omit his “powerful lobby” comments
Yesterday’s Al Jazeera investigation focused on a covertly filmed private dinner conversation in London involving a diplomat at the Israeli embassy who was looking for information to “take down” deputy Foreign Minister, Sir Alan Duncan.
Though the Israeli ambassador quickly apologised for the comments by the low-level official, Shai Masot, and there was no suggestion of a coordinated Israeli effort to bring down Mr. Duncan, British news outlets immediately pounced, devoting significant coverage to the incident – more coverage, overall, than on the deadly terror attack later that same day.
Some of the coverage has addressed the question of why Masot seemed particularly keen on getting information on Duncan, and correctly pointed out his extreme criticism of Israel. Both the Guardian and BBC specifically noted Duncan’s critique of settlements in speeches and interviews made in 2014.
CORRECTED: Third Time Lucky For Telegraph Identity Error
Thanks to an Al Jazeera sting operation, Shai Masot, an employee of the Israeli Embassy in London, was filmed using undiplomatic language concerning British parliamentarians regarded as unfriendly towards Israel.
While the story has been sensationalized by the British media to imply some kind of sinister “plot” and charges of undue influence on the part of Israel towards UK foreign policy (yes, the same UK that voted in favor of UN Security Council Resolution 2334), Israeli Ambassador to the UK, Mark Regev apologized and Britain’s Foreign Office has stated it now considers “the matter closed.”
The Telegraph, however, got its headline wrong.

Rally in solidarity with Jewish community held in Whitefish, Montana
A rally was held in Whitefish, Montana, to show solidarity with the Jewish community, which has been targeted by a neo-Nazi website.
The rally Saturday was sponsored by the Love Not Hate organization, which the Daily Stormer has accused of threatening white supremacist leader Richard Spencer’s mother, who lives in the town along with him.
Several hundred people reportedly turned out for the rally — billed as a block party — in sub-zero degree weather, according to Montana Public Radio. The rally included speeches from city and faith leaders, local singers and storytellers, according to the report.
“This is indeed a community where the voices that speak love and acceptance are so many more numerous than those that speak for hate and division,” Jessica Loti Leferrier, a Love Not Hate rally organizer, told Montana Public Radio.
The neo-Nazi website, the Daily Stormer, said last week that it had filed the paperwork for an armed neo-Nazi march designed to harass the Montana Jewish community of Whitefish.
Israeli defense firm Elbit wins $100M Brazilian military contract
Israeli defense electronics developer Elbit Systems announced Sunday that it has won a $100 million deal with the Brazilian military. Under the deal, Elbit's Brazilian subsidiary, Ares, will supply the Brazilian military with REMAX remote-controlled weapon stations.
A press release posted on the company's website said Ares had been "awarded a framework contract, in a total value of approximately $100 million, to supply 12.7/7.62 mm Remote-Controlled Weapon Stations to the Brazilian army. The contract includes associated equipment and services. The RCWS, named REMAX, will be supplied over a five-year period. An initial production order, valued at approximately $7.5 million, has been received."
The statement added that Ares' REMAX systems were designed specifically to meet the Brazilian military's requirements, and were successfully tested and fielded in Brazilian army Guarani 6x6 vehicles.
"REMAX is a stabilized weapon station for 12.7/7.62 mm machine guns and will be used in armored vehicles and logistics vehicles utilized in combat for troop transport, border patrol, and peacekeeping missions," the statement said.
Microsoft, Qualcomm invest in Israel’s Team8 cyber-effort
Team8, a cybersecurity think tank and venture fund that strives to create companies to tackle cybersecurity threats, said Monday that Microsoft Ventures, Qualcomm Ventures and Citigroup would join its partnership of international supporters.
Founded by veterans of the IDF’s Intelligence & Technology Unit 8200, Team8 said that Microsoft Ventures and Qualcomm Ventures would join its so-called “global cyber syndicate” as strategic investors and that it has signed a strategic partnership agreement with Citigroup as well, but without a financial investment from the bank.
The Microsoft and Qualcomm investments, whose figures were undisclosed, brings the total funds raised by Team8 to date to $92 million, the company said.
The international companies in the cyber syndicate work closely with Team8 to explore, set up and validate the creation of new startups in the cyber security sector. Microsoft Ventures, Qualcomm Ventures and Citigroup will join current Team8 cyber syndicate members Cisco, AT&T, Accenture, Nokia, Temasek, Mitsui, Bessemer Venture Partners, Marker LLC, and Innovation Endeavors, owned by Google co-founder Eric Schmidt.
Israel’s VocalZoom, Honda show voice-control tech at CES
Israeli startup VocalZoom has developed a sensor that it says allows “near perfect” voice control performance, even when there is a lot of background noise, like a car with an open window.
“VocalZoom’s sensor can hear your voice inside your mouth, so it is not contaminated by background noises, ” VocalZoom CEO Tal Bakish in a phone interview. This is done by measuring the vibrations on the skin of the people who are talking, he said.
“The challenge was to make something accurate and low cost,” he said.
The aim is to improve on existing voice recognition technologies and voice by metric systems — in which people can be recognized based on their voice. The voice recognition systems in use today, by Google and Apple’s Siri, for example, “are not good enough, they are used by geeks but not anyone else,” he said, because the system does not always manage to correctly interpret the voice commands.
VocalZoom’s technology is an optical sensor that is immune to acoustic noise. It measures the vibrations that are created only when a person is speaking — from the throat and face of the speaker — and converts the data into an audio signal.
Through Trade and Tourism, China Turns Its Attention to Israel
The recent intensifying of Israel’s relationship with China is promising for both countries, although its long-term implications remain unclear. China desperately needs the sort of high-tech innovation that Israel offers in order to transform its giant economy into one that leads in ideas and not just manufacturing efficiency. And China’s population of nearly 1.4 billion people is growing wealthier each year, offering a lucrative market for Israeli products. In addition, the growing interest in Israel among China’s population is significant in terms of public diplomacy.
But as China’s power grows and worries increase that the American-dominated world order is changing, there is much uncertainty as to what this all means for Israel, especially given the fact that China has strong ties to Persian Gulf oil powers and a history of military cooperation with Iran.
But Israelis involved in academic and cultural exchange programs say that the current situation makes their work more important than ever for Israel. “The foundation of people-to-people relationships leads to better international relations,” Witte said. “We are striving to bring an accurate understanding of Israel to China.”

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