Friday, February 10, 2017

From Ian:

Caroline Glick: Beautiful friendship
Less than a week after he was inaugurated into office, President Donald Trump announced that he had repaired the US’s fractured ties with Israel. “It got repaired as soon as I took the oath of office,” he said.
Not only does Israel now enjoy warm relations with the White House. When Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu arrives in the US capital next week, he will be greeted by the most supportive political climate Israel has ever seen in Washington.
It is true that dangers to Israel’s ties with America lurk in the background. The radical Left is taking control of the Democratic Party.
But the forces now hijacking the party on a whole host of issues have yet to transform their hatred of Israel into the position of most Democratic lawmakers in Congress.
Democrats in both houses of Congress joined with their Republican counterparts in condemning UN Security Council Resolution 2334 that criminalized Israel. A significant number of Democratic lawmakers support Trump’s decision to slap new sanctions on Iran.
Similarly, radical Jewish groups have been unsuccessful in rallying the more moderate leftist Jewish leadership to their cause. Case in point is the widespread support Trump’s appointment of David Friedman to serve as his ambassador to Israel is receiving from the community.
Whereas J Street and T’ruah are circulating a petition calling for people to oppose his Senate confirmation, sources close to the issue in Washington say that AIPAC supports it.
'I won't condemn Israel, it's been through enough'
In exclusive interview with Israel Hayom, U.S. President Donald Trump says he understands and respects Israel greatly • Trump stresses he would like to see peace in the Middle East and beyond, says he looks forward to meeting with PM Netanyahu next week
"I understand Israel very well and I respect Israel. ... I would like to see peace [between Israel and the Palestinians] and beyond," U.S. President Donald Trump told Israel Hayom in an exclusive interview Thursday -- the first interview the 45th president of the United States has given Israeli media since taking office on Jan. 20.
Q: On multiple occasions we spoke of your views on Israel and your determination to be Israel's friend. Can you share your general plan for improving Israeli-American relations after the past eight years?
"Well, I think we are going to have a better relationship. The deal with Iran was a disaster for Israel. Inconceivable that it was made. It was poorly negotiated and executed. Everything about that deal was something. ... You know, as a deal person, I understand all sides of deals. I understand good deals and bad deals, but this deal is not even comprehensible. Beyond comprehension. And you see the way Iran has reacted; unlike reacting as they should, which is being thankful for President [Barack] Obama for making such a deal, which was so much to their advantage. They felt emboldened even before he left office. It is too bad a deal like that was made."

PMW: PA TV criticizes Palestinian newspaper for using term “Wailing Wall” and not "Al-Buraq Wall" - as instructed by PA Ministry of Information (Feb. 10, 2017)
The Palestinian Authority Ministry of Information issued a book instructing Palestinians which words to use to instead of "the Israeli and American dissemination of poisoned terms." In 2012, Palestinian Media Watch exposed this guide and the terms the ministry instructs Palestinians to use.
Among the "Israeli and American poisoned terms" that should be rejected are these terms relating to Jewish history and tradition:
Recently, a host on a PA TV program criticized a Palestinian daily that did not follow these guidelines. The paper had used the term "the Wailing Wall" instead of the term "the Al-Buraq Wall" recommended by the PA Ministry of Information, and which Palestinians and Muslims in general use.
Official PA TV host: "[The Palestinian daily] Al-Ayyam from this morning: 'The Israeli Ministry of Transportation announced it yesterday. The project for extending the high-speed Tel Aviv-Jerusalem train line up to the Al-Buraq Wall (i.e., the Western Wall) in the Old City of Jerusalem, has entered the stage of a feasibility study.' I don't know how Al-Ayyam can write 'Wailing Wall' on its front page, and not even put quotation marks."
[Official PA TV, Palestine This Morning, Jan. 26, 2017]

International Legal Expert: Criticism of Knesset's Settlement Law Is Unwarranted
The widespread global criticism of the settlement “Regulation Law” passed by the Israeli parliament earlier this week is unwarranted, an international legal expert told The Algemeiner on Wednesday.
Referring to the law, which was approved by the Knesset on Monday by a 60-52 margin, Dr. Eugene Kontorovich — a professor at Northwestern University’s Pritzker School of Law and head of the international law department at the Kohelet Policy Forum — asserted, “Every single thing being said about it is a misnomer.”
“For example,” he stated, “it does not violate international law. There has never been a principle of international law that one cannot take property with compensation. And all of the discussions that are cited to prove that it’s illegal are cases in which there was no compensation offered, which is an entirely different thing.”
“It’s very unusual that an occupying power offer compensation,” Kontorovich went on to say. “But in the cases where they have — and one can point to Turkey and Northern Cyprus, and Russia and Crimea — the international community never criticized this even a little bit. Basically, this is a rule that has never been mentioned before, that has never been thought of before, and that is, like many things, being made up just because of the parties involved. It was invented for this case and will never be used again.”
Israel’s Regulation Law: ‘land grab’ or just politics?
The law’s passage is being hailed by supporters of Israel’s 40-year-old settlement enterprise as a step toward extension of full Israeli sovereignty over the disputed territories of Judea and Samaria, commonly known as the West Bank. Opponents have labeled the law a “land grab” and have petitioned Israel’s High Court to overturn it on the grounds that its passage violates international law.
Yet according to several leading legal scholars, the “Regulation Law” does not contradict Israeli law, and precedents both inside and outside Israel can be invoked to justify its passage within the context of international law.
“I wouldn’t call it a land grab,” Alan Baker, a former legal adviser to Israel’s Foreign Ministry and Israel’s former ambassador to Canada. “These people have been already living where they are living for many years. The opposition to this law is more of a political issue.”
Israeli Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit—a political appointee of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu—has opted to oppose the law, which was pushed through by Israel’s governing coalition, publicly warning that the measure is “indefensible” before Israel’s High Court.
But Eugene Kontorovich, a professor of constitutional and international law at Northwestern University School of Law, and a senior researcher at Israel’s Kohelet Policy Forum, said the Regulation Law “does not violate any Israeli constitutional principles—or international law, for that matter.”
The Islamic Jihad and Peace with Jews
On the face of it, the anti-normalization campaign appears driven by political motivations. However, it turns out that there is also a powerful Islamic angle to this campaign of hate, which is aimed at delegitimizing Israel and demonizing Jews.
The Palestinian anti-normalization "enforcers" do their utmost to conceal the Islamic aspect of their campaign. They are not eager for the world to know that Islam supplies much of the ideology and justification for their anti-Israel activities.
Fatwas (Islamic religious decrees) and statements issued by leading Muslim scholars and clerics have long warned Muslims against normalization with the "Zionist entity." Such normalization, they have made it clear, is considered an "unforgivable crime." The authors of these hate messages are not opposed to normalization with Israel because of settlements or house demolitions, but rather because they believe Jews have no rights at all to any of the land.
In 1989, more than 60 eminent Muslim scholars from 18 countries ruled that it was forbidden for Muslims to give up any part of Palestine.
The vicious campaigns to boycott Israel and Jews, while political in dress, are in fact deeply rooted in Islamic ideology.
Trying to create a Palestinian state would repeat mistakes that have led to so much Mideast bloodshed
Will Palestine exist in another generation? With the Trump administration gearing up for its meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu next week, it’s a question worth asking. The last thing the Trump administration should want is a repeat of the mistakes the Great Powers made a century ago when they created artificial countries.
Iraq, Syria, Jordan, Yemen and Palestine among others were all carved up out of the ruins of the Ottoman Empire by the Great Powers — chiefly Britain and France — after the First World War. It was a recipe for continual strife, as peoples of different nationalities, ethnicities, cultures, religions and political traditions were forced to live together. The Great Powers created, in effect, mini multicultural, multinational states. The result was civil and sectarian discontent, and war, throughout much of the last 100 years.
We see the latest chapter of those horrors in Syria where yet another civil war has led to yet another split up. Iraq has de facto split, as has Yemen, and Lebanon, which originally was part of a multi-state Syrian federation. Jordan, whose Hashemites fought a civil war against its Palestinian Arab majority, is also tenuously held together.
The creation of a Palestinian state astride Israel — the two-state solution today’s Great Powers insist on — would have even less chance of survival than its failed neighbour states. The Arab clans of Palestine throughout the 20th century refused to accept a state of their own. Only in the 1960s did the idea of a Palestinian nation take shape when Yasser Arafat created the concept of an Arabic “Palestinian people.” Previously, “Palestinian” was a term that referred to all the residents of Palestine, Jews and Arabs. The original name of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra was the Palestine Orchestra. The Jerusalem Post was first the Palestine Post.
Ruthie Blum: Will Trump Back Israel in the Next War?
Analysts on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean — and of the political spectrum — have been scrutinizing every syllable uttered by members of the new administration in Washington to determine whether US President Donald Trump is as good a friend to the Jewish state as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hopes.
So far, four issues have been discussed and debated ad nauseam: US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley’s pronouncement that her government would not abandon Israel at the world body, as the Obama administration did when it enabled the passage of Security Council Resolution 2234, which deemed all Jewish presence beyond the 1949 Armistice Lines illegal; the nomination of David Friedman — a settlements sympathizer who supports relocating the American Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem — as US ambassador to Israel; a recent Trump administration warning that Israeli settlement construction could be potentially harmful to peace negotiations toward Palestinian statehood (the “two-state solution”); and the omission of any mention of Jews in the statement issued by the administration on International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
Where the bigger picture is concerned, Israel is observing Team Trump’s behavior toward Iran, telling Tehran that its saber-rattling and ballistic missile tests will incur serious consequences; imposing new sanctions on the mullah-led regime; and openly weighing the designation of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist organization.
But the one question that has not been raised is how the Trump administration will respond when Israel is forced to go to war, yet again, with Hamas in Gaza and/or with Hezbollah in Lebanon.
John Bolton: I'm Concerned That U.S. Is Pushing Back on Israeli Settlements, Delaying Jerusalem Embassy Move
On Thursday’s Breitbart News Daily, SiriusXM host Alex Marlow asked former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton about the Trump administration’s evidently softening support for Israeli settlement construction.
“I’m concerned about it. I’m concerned about the fact that the embassy hasn’t been moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem,” Bolton said. “It has the mark of the kind of thinking you hear at the State Department, that questions like the final status of Jerusalem and the argument that settlements are an obstacle to peace. We’ve been hearing these kinds of arguments for 30 or 40 years, and they appear to have gained some traction.”
“Now, I don’t want to read too much into it,” he added. “I’m not saying it’s the end of the world. But if you look at, for example, all of the campaign promises in effect that candidate Trump made, he’s really done an unbelievable job and showed, I think, he’s not a normal politician, in the number of those promises he’s already begun to fulfill or actually fulfilled. The embassy move is kind of conspicuous at this point, so I worry about it.”
“I understand, and I would certainly advocate that when you’re ready to announce it, you’re going to need some very active diplomacy to calm our European friends down, to talk to our friends in the Arab world, to explain why it is we’re doing it. You need a strategy. You need to be prepared for it. I grant all that. But that doesn’t take forever to do, and we’re now approaching the third week. So I don’t know where the vibes are coming from, but I have to say that the fact that this has slowed down, and the comments about the settlements should lead us to ask, ‘What’s the story?’ I think we need to hear more from the administration on that point,” he said.
Trump State Department Document Recognizes Jerusalem as Israeli; New York Times Ignores It
The Trump administration, breaking with Obama administration precedent, has issued an official State Department document recognizing Jerusalem as part of Israel.
And the New York Times, as is typical, entirely missed the news, preferring instead to obsess about Israeli settlements and to portray the Trump administration, inaccurately, as truckling to pressure from Arab monarchs.
The State Department reference to “Israel, Jerusalem” amid a list of countries and capital cities — such as “Egypt, Cairo,” “Lebanon, Beirut” and “Iraq, Baghdad” — came in an appendix to an obscure government document — a report from the State Department’s inspector general detailing a review of the US government’s Middle East Broadcasting Networks. Though it was initially labeled “sensitive but unclassified,” and intended for internal State Department use, the document was distributed by the department this week to a public email list that included The Algemeiner.
The 20-page report, dated February 2017, mostly concerns mundane regulatory matters, such as the disclosure that the Middle East Broadcasting Networks “had not conducted a fire drill at its headquarters in Springfield, Virginia since occupying it in 2004.”
Buried in Appendix B, on page 17 of the pdf, is a list detailing the staffing and funding of the broadcasting networks, which provide television, radio and internet news directed at Arab-language audiences. That list includes 16 full-time employees and two contractors in “Israel, Jerusalem.”
David Singer: Trump-Netanyahu Meeting Set to Expose Obama’s Collusion on Resolution 2334
Netanyahu’s claim that some of the information is sensitive suggests that there has been an interception of emails or other classified American documents emanating from Obama or Kerry’s offices.
America’s cybersecurity record has been appalling – as the hacking of the Democrats web site and Hillary Clinton’s emails and private server has shown.
Netanyahu’s description of the transcript held by the Egyptian newspaper as “the tip of the iceberg” suggests Israel holds a Wiki-style treasure trove of incriminating documents.
Sensational claims of Israel-hacking will doubtless fuel the media.
There appears to be no evidence that this material has yet been given to the Trump Administration. If it had – some leak would surely have emerged by now.
Netanyahu’s visit to the White House presents the perfect opportunity to personally hand his evidence to President Trump - enabling him to decide whether to disclose such evidence publicly or not.
Netanyahu’s moment exposing Obama’s betrayal of Israel is fast approaching.
Trump: Advancing Israeli settlement activity not helpful to peace
Advancing settlement activity is not helpful to peace, US President Donald Trump said ahead of his meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
In the brief excerpt of the interview with Israeli daily Yisrael Hayom, published on Friday, Trump walked a fine line between refusing to condemn Israel, while putting forward his belief about what was helpful and not helpful to the peace process. The new president also hinted at the possibility of regional peace deal.
“I don’t want to condemn Israel. There is a long history of Israel enduring condemnations and difficulties. I do not want to condemn Israel during my tenure. I understand Israel and respect Israel,” Trump said.
“I want peace between the Israelis and Palestinians. And more than that, I think that peace will be excellent for Israel,” he said.
“There might even be a possibility to achieve peace in a way that is larger than the Israeli-Palestinian peace,” said Trump. “I want both sides to behave in a reasonable manner ... we could have a good chance of that."
Trump team weighs engaging Arabs allies to push Mideast peace — report
Determined to make the elusive Israeli-Palestinian peace deal, US President Donald Trump is deliberating bringing in Arab states and embracing the “outside-in” approach to peacemaking that has been endorsed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, according to The New York Times.
An article Thursday said that both Trump and his Jewish son-in-law Jared Kushner — who has been designated the point man for the Mideast peace process — have found the idea appealing after meeting with a number of Arab leaders since the president assumed office in January.
In the last three weeks, Trump has meet with Jordan’s King Abdullah II and spoken on the phone with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, Saudi Arabia’s King Salman, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, the crown prince of Abu Dhabi.
Kushner has reportedly met with a number of Arab officials, including Yousef Al Otaiba, the United Arab Emirates’ ambassador to the United States.
Those discussions, according to The Times, have led the two to believe in the possibility of enlisting such Arab states to help bring Palestinians to the negotiating table and create the conditions for a comprehensive agreement to be made.
Israel permanently downgrades its ties to New Zealand, Senegal
Israel is permanently downgrading its diplomatic ties with New Zealand and Senegal, punishing these countries for co-sponsoring an anti-settlement resolution in the United Nations Security Council last year, The Times of Israel has learned.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu decided this week not to return Israel’s ambassadors to Wellington and Dakar, who had been recalled after Resolution 2334 passed on December 23, according to a senior source intimately familiar with the issue.
Until the resolution passed, Israel had resident ambassadors in both countries. Netanyahu’s decision not to send the envoys back to Senegal and Wellington is not a formal demoting of ties, but with only a charge d’affaires remaining in these capitals from now on, and no resident ambassador, bilateral relations will effectively have been downgraded.
Israel has already cancelled its foreign aid programs in Senegal.
The Prime Minister’s Office did not respond to a query on the matter. The Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem said in a statement there is “no decision to downgrade diplomatic relations with Senegal and New Zealand.”
Israeli International Law Expert: Yasser Arafat Promised Yitzhak Rabin that the Palestinians Would Negotiate the Final Status Issues
Hazem Sika interviews Alan Baker (Al-Jazeera)
Amb. Alan Baker, former legal adviser and deputy director-general of Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, participated in the negotiation and drafting of the Oslo Accords with the Palestinians.
Hazem Sika: Does the new legislation on settlements passed by the Knesset kill any chance of a two-state solution?
Alan Baker: No, not at all. The whole issue of the settlements as well as the permanent status of the territories has been agreed upon with the PLO that this will be determined in negotiations. It's not even "Palestinian territories," it's "disputed territories" that the Palestinians themselves have agreed to negotiate.
Sika: Under international law it's illegally occupied territory, Alan Baker, that's a fact.
Baker: No, I'm sorry, you're wrong. The territories are subject to negotiations - and this is exactly what the whole aim of the two-state solution is. And if [the Palestinians] want to continue and go ahead and have this negotiation, then they should do whatever they can to encourage their own people to cooperate and come back to the negotiating table rather than try and run to the International Criminal Court which has absolutely no jurisdiction whatsoever to deal with the issue of these territories because the Palestinians aren't even a full party to the statute of the International Court.
Why are the Palestinians running to the United Nations to try and establish a Palestinian state - not through the negotiating process that Yasser Arafat promised in his letter to Yitzhak Rabin? Why are the Palestinians continuing with supporting and inciting terror? Both sides are committed to negotiate the final status issues and this includes settlements and it includes Jerusalem and it includes refugees and it includes security and it includes water.
All I'm saying is: Get back to the negotiating mode and stop playing around with all sorts of imaginary games that will get nowhere.
Who is representing the Palestinians? Hamas or Fatah? Let the Palestinians get their act together, let them unify into a unified leadership, and then there will be somebody to negotiate with.
Designate the Taliban
The Obama administration—and especially its State Departments under both Secretaries of State Hillary Clinton and John Kerry—regularly soft-pedaled reporting and assessments of terrorism in order to avoid creating any impediments to diplomacy. This is seen most starkly when comparing the State Department’s designations of terror groups with those of the Treasury Department, which tends to look at the issue with more objectivity because diplomatic concerns do not interfere.
The Trump administration appears ready to swing the pendulum fully in the other direction: Rather than ignoring or rationalizing continued Iranian terror support, it now appears that Trump could designate the entire Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, an elite body which is responsible for the deaths of hundreds of Americans and, according to its own charter, seeks to export Iran’s Islamic Revolution to other countries by any means necessary.
Trump also appears prepared to designate the Muslim Brotherhood, a group which Obama sought to engage. Proponents of such a ban argue that, while the Brotherhood and its affiliates are savvy at public relations and say they have evolved from the radicalism of decades past, the core of their ideology remains to expunge violently all Western influences from society. Opponents argue that the Brotherhood has changed with the time and successfully combines Islamism with modernism.
At the Middle East Institute, Ahmad K. Majidyar, raises an important point for those focused on the Muslim Brotherhood: “Shouldn’t the White House weigh on designating the Taliban and its sponsors responsible for killing thousands of Americans and Afghans first?”
While terror designations do not have to be an either-or prospect, Majidyar is correct: Clinton sought to normalize the Taliban—even allowing them to open a ‘diplomatic representation’—in order to try to negotiate with them, the same mistake her husband made in the years before 9/11. If Trump is serious about combating terror, it is time to recognize that the Taliban are resurgent, the Taliban engage in terrorism toward ordinary civilians, and official Pakistani bodies aid, support, and even direct the Taliban. It is time to designate the Taliban and Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence as terror groups, if not Pakistan itself as a state-sponsor of terrorism.
UK House of Commons condemns Israeli settlement activity
The United Kingdom House of Commons passed a resolution on Thursday that condemned Israeli settlement activity and affirmed United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334 that call on Israel to halt such action.
Although the debate had been pre-scheduled it came during a week when European government, including the United Kingdom have spoken out against the Knesset's authorization of the Settlements Law, which retroactively legalizes 4,000 settler homes private Palestinian property.
With passage of that law, a “dangerous threshold was cross,” Minister for the Middle East Tobias Ellwood told the House of Commons.
The UK was one of 14 countries, out the UNSC 15 member body, that voted in support of Resolution 2334.
Member of Parliament John Howell from the Conservative Party took issue with the focus on settlements as a stumbling bloc to peace. “Why are we picking on settlements, when there are a whole rang elf issues,” Howell said.
Rare Westminster mention of Jews from Arab lands
With thanks: Nelly and Sussex Friends of Israel
A rare mention of Jewish refugees from Arab countries was made today in the British House of Commons.
Bob Blackman, MP for Harrow East, spoke at a debate about Israeli settlements. Three minutes into this clip, he says:
"Not mentioned this far are the Jewish refugees forced out from Arab countries. There are 2.3 million of them and theyhad to flee for their lives. Some of them went to Israel, some to the United States and others to parts of Europe. These people are never mentioned...Clearly there should be a home for them. When housing developments are put up for refugees from Arab countries we should not condemn them, we should congratulate them on providing these facilities."
France thwarts ‘imminent attack,’ 4 suspects arrested
Anti-terrorism forces arrested four people Friday in southern France, including a 16-year-old girl, and uncovered a makeshift laboratory with the explosive TATP and other ingredients for fabricating a bomb. France’s top security official said the raid thwarted an “imminent attack.”
A police official said the teen had pledged loyalty to the Islamic State group in a recent video.
The prosecutor’s office said around 70 grams (2.5 ounces) of TATP were seized in the Montpellier-area home of a 20-year-old man, along with a liter each of acetone, oxygenated water and sulfuric acid. TATP, which can be made from readily available materials, was used in the deadly November 2015 attacks in Paris and the March 2016 attack in Brussels carried out by Islamic State extremists.
Two other men were arrested, a 33-year-old and a 26-year-old, along with the teenage girl, according to the prosecutor’s office, which handles terrorism investigations in France.
Le Pen: If elected, French Jews will have to renounce Israeli citizenship
French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen, from the far-right Front National party said that if she is elected, people holding dual French and Israeli citizenship would have to give up one of their nationalities.
The remark was made during an interview with France 2 TV on Thursday, where the candidate said that she would not allow French citizens to hold dual citizenship in non-European countries. "I am opposed to a policy allowing dual citizenship in [non-European] countries," she said.
During the two-hour-long interview, host Léa Salamé questioned whether Le Pen was the French-Jewish viewers "if they are willing to renounce their dual Israeli citizenship." Le Pen responded in the affirmative. "Israel is not a European Union country," she said.
Le Pen noted that such a policy would not be about Jews but rather about French Israelis, "to whom I ask to choose their nationality."
Irish FM: 'Ireland constantly considers recognizing a Palestinian state’
Ireland consistently ponders the question of recognizing Palestine as a state, its Foreign Ministry said on Thursday, in response to media reports that Israel fears such a step could be imminent.
“I am actively keeping under consideration, on a continuous basis, the question of whether recognition by Ireland in the near future of a state of Palestine might be a helpful step in relation to the Middle East peace process,” Foreign Minister Charles Flanagan said of his government’s long-held position.
Ireland is part of the European Union, which holds that recognition of a Palestinian state should come only after a final-status agreement for the creation of two states is reached between Israel and the Palestinians.
Seven of its member states that had belonged to the former Soviet bloc recognized Palestine as a state in 1988, long before joining the EU. In 2014, Sweden became the first country which – as a member of the EU – recognized Palestine as a state.
In the face of accelerated Israeli settlement activity, the Palestinian Authority has renewed its campaign to sway European countries to follow Sweden’s example without waiting for the creation of a two-state solution.
Israel Calls for UN Condemnation of Petah Tikva Attack
Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon called on the United Nations Secretary General to condemn Thursday’s terror attack in the central Israeli city of Petah Tikva in which at least five people were lightly wounded by a Palestinian.
He also called on the Security Council to convene a special session on Palestinian incitement to violence.
An 18-year-old Palestinian man from the West Bank, subsequently arrested by police, allegedly opened fire at a bus near the city’s busy central market, using an improvised firearm. He then ran through side streets before being cornered by a group of civilians outside a sewing machine repair shop.
The Ynet news site reported that one of the civilians had used a sewing machine from the store to take down the attacker. An eyewitness told Channel 2 news that he used a wood plank to hit the man as well, and said the suspect yelled in Arabic as he was tackled.
One man was shot in the leg, two women were hit by shrapnel and a man was stabbed in the neck with a screwdriver as he tried to stop the attacker. Another man suffered a light head wound during the commotion.
IDF seizes work permits of family of suspected Petah Tikva terrorist
Security forces raided the West Bank home of a suspected terrorist on early Friday morning, a day after a combination shooting-stabbing attack that left five people injured in the central city of Petah Tikva, the army said.
The Israel Defense Forces confiscated the work permits of family members of the alleged assailant, identified by Palestinian media as 18-year-old Sadeq Nasser Abu Mazen from Beita al-Foka, a village south of Nablus.
A number of Abu Mazen’s family members were also questioned, the army said.
On Wednesday evening, the suspected terrorist opened fire at a bus near Petah Tikva’s outdoor market. One man was shot and lightly wounded, while another two women were lightly injured by shrapnel. He then fled the scene, trying to shoot more, but his gun jammed. He was eventually cornered by citizens and stabbed one of them with a screwdriver as they tried to subdue him outside a sewing machine shop.
Another man, mistaken for the terrorist, was also set upon by a mob and suffered a light head wound before he was rescued by police.
Haaretz publisher clashes with family of soldier killed in Gaza
Haaretz publisher Amos Shocken clashed with the bereaved family of an Israeli soldier killed in the Gaza Strip in 2014 on Twitter Thursday over an offensive column that ran in his paper.
The remains of Lt. Hadar Goldin, who was killed during Operation Protective Edge, are being held by Hamas.
On Thursday, columnist Rogel Alpher, Haaretz's television critic, disparaged the soldier's brother Hemi Goldin and the family for their efforts on behalf of their deceased son.
"Hemi is showing advanced symptoms of a situation that can be called the 'Goldin Syndrome,' after his brother, Lt. Hadar Goldin, who was killed in Operation Protective Edge and whose body is being held by Hamas in Gaza. We're talking about cognitive dissonance that is characterized by the speaker ceasing to distinguish between the dead and the living and being furious that a dead person is not treated like someone who is alive," Alpher wrote.
Alpher continued that "another aspect of 'Goldin Syndrome' is delusions of grandeur, which characterizes much of the Israeli 'family of bereavement.' The status of bereavement gives him, in his eyes, the authority and the privilege to determine the national agenda and priorities."
In response to the column, Goldin's parents, Leah and Simcha Goldin, tweeted Shocken.
"In your opinion, is it a 'delusion of grandeur' to want a proper burial for our son?" they asked him.
After long wait, Palestinians make first contact with Trump administration
The head of Palestinian intelligence has held talks with US security officials in the first such contacts between the Palestinians and the Trump administration, the AP news agency reported Thursday, citing an unnamed official.
The official said that Majed Faraj met with US security and intelligence officials in Washington over the past two days. The official spoke on condition of anonymity in line with protocol.
The Palestinian leadership said it has tried unsuccessfully to reach out to President Donald Trump since his election upset in November, and feared the possibility of being sidelined as the administration embraces Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who heads to the White House next week.
In December, the Trump transition team refused to meet with Palestinian officials visiting Washington, putting them off until after the Jan. 20 inauguration, according to senior Abbas aide Saeb Erekat, the main point man for official contacts with the United States. Other advisers say Abbas tried to arrange a phone call with Trump after the November election and again after the inauguration, but received no response to his requests. The White House did not respond to a January letter in which Abbas expressed concerns about possibly moving the US Embassy in Israel to contested Jerusalem.
Last week, senior Erekat said the White House had rebuffed every attempt to reach out to the new administration.
Palestinian writer afraid to go home amid uproar over novel
A young Palestinian author is stranded in Qatar after Palestinian authorities in the West Bank confiscated all copies of his latest novel and issued an arrest warrant for him — accusing him of including “sexual terms” in a provocative work that takes aim at taboo issues such as fanaticism, religious extremism and homosexuality.
The crackdown on 29-year-old Abbad Yahya has set off a wide public debate between the Palestinian society’s large conservative segment and the small liberal minority.
In a telephone interview, Yahya told The Associated Press that he was visiting Doha when he learned of the ban and the arrest warrant, published by the official governmental news agency. He said he is now stuck in the Qatari capital, fearing he would be arrested as soon as he returns home.
“I don’t know what to do. If I go back, I will be arrested, and if I stay here, I can’t stay far from my home and family,” he said.
Assad Says He Will Step Down if He Loses Election, Fails to Schedule Election
In his first session with reporters since Amnesty International published a report accusing his government of human rights atrocities against political dissidents, Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad said he would immediately step aside if he lost an election.
“If the Syrian people choose another president, I don’t have to choose to be aside; I would be aside,” Assad told Belgian reporters in Damascus, according to a transcript published by the state news agency SANA.
The interview touches most of the major topics Assad addresses in regular interviews: His insistence that the United States aided the Islamic State, his cautious optimism towards President Donald Trump, and his assurances that he will step down if Syrian people want him to. The latter he reiterated in response to a reporter who noted that, as someone in their 40s, they have never lived through a period in which Syria was not governed by an Assad. Hafez al-Assad, Bashar al-Assad’s father, ruled Syria from 1971 until his death in 2000.
“We don’t own the country, my family doesn’t own the country,” Bashar told the reporter. “President Assad didn’t have an heir in the institution to be his successor,” he said of his father, noting that he was working as an ophthalmologist during his father’s term, not in the Syrian government. “He died, I was elected, he didn’t have anything to do with my election,” Assad insisted. “When he was president, I didn’t have any position in the government. If he wanted me to be an heir, he would have put me somewhere, gave me a responsibility.”
No One Is Vetting Syrian Refugees for Signs of Anti-Semitism
Major Jewish establishment organizations are strenuously lobbying for the resettlement of Syrian refugees on American soil. It’s explained as a natural extension of Jewish values and history – “we, too, were refugees once. We, too, were the ‘other.’” The comparison is, to say the least, abstract.
It ignores vast differences between European Jewish populations fleeing a Nazism intent on killing them anywhere in the world, and Syrian refugees who are not defamed as “subhuman” nor hunted by a murderous ideology, and who have in Europe – and should have throughout the Arab/Muslim world – plenty of open doors. But this flawed analogy is a mere quibble compared to other differences that make the wholesale importation of Syrian Muslims dangerous not only to Jews but to all Americans. Groups working to resettle Syrian refugees in the US, like the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS), typically respond to fears about a mass migration of people who might be hostile to American values by focusing narrowly on “terrorism” – and specifically to the fear that jihadists could hide among the innocent civilians. HIAS, federal agencies and other groups supporting Syrian immigration report that Syrian refugees are subject to intense scrutiny, more extensive vetting than any other migrant population. HIAS president and CEO Mark Hatfield said, “Refugees coming to the US are subject to more vetting and screening than any other non-citizen arriving in America, subject to multiple layers of screening and review.”
But there is a vast hole in the vetting process: nobody cares to consider, much less discuss, the cultural attitudes and religious beliefs that – apart from actual violence – can be harmful to America, specifically attitudes about Judaism, Christians, adherents of non-Islamic faiths, democracy, women, homosexuality and so on.
Of course we want to know if a Syrian refugee has had ties to terrorist group. But we also need to know what he has been taught in his homeland about us non-Muslims and our values – equality, freedom of religion and speech.
Iran’s missile tests reveal weaknesses of UN Security Council Resolution
Iran’s latest missile test on January 29 received a swift response, as warranted. The United Nations Security Council called for an emergency session, and on February 2, the U.S. Treasury imposed new sanctions on persons and entities involved with Tehran’s ballistic missile program. Iran responded equally swiftly. An Iranian Revolutionary Guard commander proclaimed that a separate, large-scale military missile exercise underway in Semnan province was intended to “showcase the power of Iran’s revolution and to dismiss the sanctions.” Officials in Iran have vowed to continue testing ballistic missiles and dismissed claims that its program is a cover to develop long-range projectiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads. The United States and its allies should demand that Tehran uphold its obligation not to conduct tests of nuclear-capable ballistic or cruise missiles.
Contextualizing Iran’s Missile Tests
Nuclear weapons development usually goes hand-in-hand with the development of means of warhead delivery. This was one of the reasons that the 2010 United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolution on Iran’s nuclear program banned work on ballistic missiles. More recently, Resolution 2231 – passed in July 2015 to codify the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) nuclear deal – calls on Iran not to undertake ballistic missile-related activities until the IAEA reaches the so-called broader conclusion that Tehran’s nuclear program is peaceful.
The IAEA’s investigations into the possible military dimension (PMD) of Iran’s nuclear program raised questions about the country’s work on missile re-entry vehicles. According to the IAEA, from 2002 to 2003, Iran carried out studies on the integration of a payload, possibly a nuclear one, into the re-entry vehicle for its Shahab-3 missile. Documentation obtained by the IAEA included information on workshops in Iran on development for such vehicles. Although the IAEA Board closed consideration of the PMD agenda item at its December 2015 board meeting, Iran never fully answered the Agency’s questions.
A New Iranian Threat Against the U.S.
A senior Iranian cleric’s observation this week that Iranian missiles could hit Tel Aviv in seven minutes made international headlines and was a useful reminder of just how aggressive and destabilizing the Islamic Republic can be.
A look at the Persian language reporting of the speech, however, reveals something even more ominous. What Hojjat al-Islam Mojtaba Zonour, a former advisor to the Supreme Leader’s representative to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, actually threatened was that Iran could use its missiles to destroy 36 different U.S. military bases. He singled out the U.S. Fifth Fleet headquarters in Bahrain specifically, and said Iran could flatten it.
If, as some Iranian officials claim, Secretary of State John Kerry and European foreign ministers gave Iran a free pass to test and develop missiles with a range under 1,200 miles, then these enabling parties have some explaining to do. It’s bad enough to throw Israel under the bus because of President Obama or Kerry’s personal pique at Israeli leaders, but it’s quite another to allow Tehran to wield the weapons they say they will use to murder Americans.
Zonour’s threats also suggest that, in the wake of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, Iran may have grown so bold as to consider directly attacking American facilities rather than maintaining plausible deniability by doing so by proxy. There is an American tendency to self-flagellate and to assume that the destabilizing or terrorist behavior of all foreign adversaries is somehow rooted in something the United States has done, but in this case, Iran’s motivations for its ballistic-missile program predate the Trump administration and, indeed, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei said in a recent speech that he sees no difference between politicians like Kerry and those who succeeded him.
Iranians trample US flag, mock Trump at 1979 revolution rallies
Iranians held a nationwide celebration Friday to commemorate the 38th anniversary of the 1979 revolution with rallies around the country, and President Hassan Rouhani called the new US administration “a problem.”
Demonstrators in Tehran chanted slogans against the US and Israel. The rallies come at a time when new US President Donald Trump has already engaged in a war of words with Iran’s leadership and put Tehran “on notice” over a recent ballistic missile test.
Among other places, thousands of demonstrators marched toward Tehran’s Azadi Square, where Rouhani addressed the crowd. He called the new US administration “a problem” and said Iran will strongly answer any threat from its enemies.
“All of them should know that they must talk to the Iranian nation with respect and dignity,” he urged the world. “Our nation will strongly answer any threat. (Iranians) will resist before enemies until the end.”
Rouhani called Iran the home of “lions” but said the country does not seek hostility. “We are not after tensions in the region and the world,” he said. “We are united before bullying and any threat.”
The secret Israeli operation to deliver coats to refugees in Syria
Refugees in Syria will soon be receiving donated winter supplies — but they won’t know that the coats and boots keeping them warm came from Israel, an enemy state.
Any logos or tags featuring Hebrew writing has been removed from the more than 100 tons of supplies collected by three Israeli groups, in order “to protect the effort and the recipients,” according to a statement.
The organizers — the Zionist youth movement HaNoar HaOved VeHaLomed, its alumni group Dror Israel and the Combat Genocide Association — collected about 3,000 boxes of blankets, coats, sleeping bags, gloves, boots and other winter supplies as part of an initiative dubbed “Operation Human Warmth.”
The items have been taken to a collection point, a representative confirmed to JTA. From there, a partner aid organization is facilitating the delivery of the goods to the refugees, who won’t know their country of origin. The representative said the delivery date and method could not be revealed due to the sensitive nature of the situation.
“I thought people would be reluctant to support an effort they would not get credit for,” Gilad Perry, Dror Israel’s international collaborations director, said in a statement. “I was amazed to see how wrong I was. The generosity of people just caring for those who suffer from the cold winter on the other side of the border, in an ‘enemy country,’ overwhelmed me.”

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