Monday, July 03, 2017

From Ian:

Daniel Gordis: Dear American Jews, Israelis don’t care that you’re insulted
We’ve had a rough week, those of us who care about the American Jewish – Israel relationship. As in all relationships, rough patches are painful, but they are also opportunities to think anew, to understand better. That’s what I would like to try to do in this open (and admittedly rather lengthy) letter. Prime Minister Netanyahu’s shameful capitulation to the ultra-Orthodox on the Kotel and conversion issues actually affords us a valuable opportunity. For decades, the Jewish world has been struggling with what, precisely, should be the relationship between American Jews and Israel. Now, we’re primed to talk about it.
We’re not going to settle this issue now – the fraught relationship goes back almost a century. In 1920, Louis Brandeis and Chaim Weizmann had a now famous blowup about Zionist policy, following which Weizmann said, “There is no bridge between Washington and Pinsk.” In other words, we are very different at our cores – let’s not pretend otherwise. Jacob Blaustein (then the President of the American Jewish Committee) and David Ben-Gurion had another explosion in 1950, and their “agreement” was always tenuous at best. Leading American Jews were livid when Israel captured Adolf Eichmann and brought him to Jerusalem for trial. “Who made you the representative of the Jewish people,” they wanted to know. Eichmann, after all, had murdered Jews, not Israelis. He was party to genocide before Israel even existed, so by virtue of what right did Israel kidnap him and try him (and later, execute him)? Did Israel think it represented world Jewry?
There have been periods when Israel did claim to represent world Jewry. And there are other times, like this week, when it acts as if only its own citizens matter. Now is the time to try to figure some of this out.
It’s complicated, of course. On one hand, American Jews are not citizens of Israel, and do not – and should not – have a vote on most of Israel’s policies, domestic or foreign. There is a difference between being a citizen and not being a citizen. On the other hand, though, American Jews have long felt deeply connected to Israel. (That may be changing among the younger generation, but that is the subject of a different conversation. See a long exchange about that here.) You feel pride in Israel’s extraordinary accomplishments, worry when Israel faces frightening threats, and feel ashamed when Israel makes bad decisions.
And Israel, conversely, has no compunction about asking or telling you that you “must” support us. Israeli Prime Ministers have gone to American Jewry to advocate aliyah. Others have gone to raise money, both in times of crisis and at more placid moments. Still others have gone to rally the political troops, at the UN, in Congress or elsewhere. So American Jews are not citizens of Israel, but neither are you entirely non-citizens. Surely, you have a different status than even feverishly pro-Israel American Christian Evangelicals, do you not?
At the risk of annoying every single person who will read this column, I’d like to use this space to sketch some preliminary thoughts on how we might define this relationship. I realize that much of what will follow here will be controversial, and there are elements that I myself still struggle with. Still, I’d like to take a stab at defining ways in which we ought to think about this relationship, by discussing two examples of issues – one on which American Jews should not seek to determine Israel’s policy, and another on which they should – and how they should do it.
Angry US donor wants to issue ‘a wake-up call,’ isn’t planning to pull his Israel funding
Taking a break from his long Fourth of July weekend in the mountains of North Carolina, Isaac “Ike” Fisher, a member of the board of the pro-Israel lobby AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee), told The Times of Israel on Sunday that reports of the demise of his support for Israel have been greatly exaggerated.
The Florida real estate tycoon, a leading fundraiser in the Greater Miami Jewish Federation who is active in many Jewish philanthropies, was splashed on the front page of Yedioth Ahronoth on Sunday morning vowing to “suspend” all further financial support for Israel. This, in reaction to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s June 25 decision to “suspend” a long-negotiated January 2016 government decision which would have seen construction of a permanent pluralistic prayer pavilion, over which non-Orthodox Jewish leaders would have a share in oversight, in the southern section of Jerusalem’s Western Wall.
Fisher elaborated on Israeli Channel 2 on Sunday afternoon that he had spoken of “suspending” his philanthropy, rather than ending it, just as the Israeli government had “suspended” its original Western Wall commitment, and that he was reacting to the government moves in “language they understand.”
Speaking with The Times of Israel later on Sunday, Fisher said he used the term “suspend” to raise awareness of the dire consequences Israel would face in losing the support of the Diaspora. “I am trying to speak in the language of the politicians: They suspended this agreement and I said I was suspending my support,” he explained.
Having spoken out, he said, however, he was not planning any next step.
Khaled Abu Toameh: Palestinians: Mohammad Dahlan, the New Mayor of the Gaza Strip?
The "understandings" reached between Dahlan and Hamas may help alleviate the suffering of the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and pave the way for improving the economy. However, the biggest winner will be Hamas, which is not being required to make any meaningful concessions other than allowing Dahlan and his loyalists back into the Gaza Strip.
Dahlan will be functioning under the watchful eye of Hamas, which will remain the real de facto and unchallenged ruler of the Gaza Strip. Hamas is willing to allow Dahlan to return to the Palestinian political scene through the Gaza Strip window. But he will be on a very short leash.
Dahlan's presence in the Gaza Strip will not deter Hamas from continuing with its preparations for another war with Israel.
Hamas is not going to stop digging tunnels along the border with Israel for fear of Dahlan. He will likely enjoy extensive civilian powers, but security matters will remain in the hands of Hamas and its military wing, Ezaddin al-Qassam.
Dahlan will find himself playing the role of fundraiser for the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip while Hamas hides behind his formidable political shoulders.
This new reality could buy quiet in the short term. In the long term, however, Hamas is likely to emerge as stronger and more prepared for the next war with Israel.
For Dahlan and Hamas, it's win-win. No wonder, then, that Abbas and his friends in the West Bank are angry and anxious.
The unholy alliance between Dahlan and Hamas, in their view, is nothing less than an attempt to establish a separate Palestinian state in the Gaza Strip.
The international audience might wish to take note: it is now official -- the division between the West Bank and Gaza Strip marks the end of the so-called two-state solution. On the Palestinian street, it appears that the Palestinians are closer than ever to achieving two separate entities of their own -- one that is run by Abbas's Palestinian Authority and another controlled by Hamas and Dahlan.

David Singer: Trump must reject Abbas claims at UN on size of Palestine
On 11 January 2014 Abbas stated:
“Israel’s problem is that the Palestinians know more than the Israelis about history and geography, We talk about what we know”
Abbas was talking through his keffiyeh Abbas’s twice-repeated claim contradicted article 2 of the 1968 PLO Charter – which organisation Abbas heads:
“Palestine, with the boundaries it had during the British Mandate, is an indivisible territorial unit.”
The boundaries of the British Mandate – created in 1922 under the League of Nations Mandate for Palestine – encompassed the territory that is today called Israel, Jordan, Judea and Samaria (West Bank) and Gaza.
Article 25 of the Mandate restricted the reconstitution of the Jewish National Home to an area extending to the Jordan River - 22% of the territory comprised in the Mandate.
The Mandate – administered by Great Britain until 1948 – saw the creation of:
· one Arab State in 78% – Jordan – in 1946
· one Jewish State in 17% – Israel – in 1948
· sovereignty remaining unallocated in the remaining 5% – Judea and Samaria (West Bank) and Gaza

Abbas’s claim at the UN in 2012 and 2013:
· is deceptive and misleading
· amounts to intellectual fraud and
· rejects international law as established by the Mandate

Trump’s acknowledgement that Jordan – not Israel – comprises 78% of historic Palestine would greatly enlarge the territorial field within which Trump could hope to resolve the long running conflict which now hinges on who should exercise sovereignty over a piece of land no larger than Delaware.
Jewish Home, Likud to collaborate on ‘Unified Jerusalem’ bill
After a fallout between the two coalition parties over a proposal to make it harder to cede Israeli control over parts of Jerusalem, Jewish Home chair Naftali Bennett and Likud minister Ze’ev Elkin agreed Sunday night to work together in order to bring the legislation to a ministerial vote next week.
Jewish Home said earlier in the day that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had vetoed the “Unified Jerusalem” bill that would require a special two-thirds Knesset supermajority to pass any decision to divide the capital city under a future peace deal with the Palestinians.
The proposal was set to face a vote in a weekly meeting of the Ministerial Committee for Legislation early Sunday afternoon, but the prime minister pulled it from the agenda at the last minute, the pro-settlement Jewish Home party said in a statement.
“We are sorry narrow political considerations outweigh the need to prevent the division of Jerusalem. We will continue pushing this bill, and will do all we can to advance it in the upcoming days,” the statement read. “Jerusalem will be united by actions, not words.”
The Likud party slammed Jewish Home’s announcement, saying the bill was proposed without seeking the cooperation of any coalition partners.
Control of Jordan Valley Is Key to Maintaining ‘Defensible Borders,’ Ex-Israeli Security Official Says
To protect itself, the Jewish state must always retain control of the Jordan Valley, a former Israeli national security adviser explained in a newly-published video.
The concept of “defensible borders,” Maj. Gen. (ret.) Uzi Dayan said in a Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs clip, was based on three key components — “strategic depth, [the] ability to defend yourself from an attack from the outside and…fighting terrorism effectively.”
Against threats Israel faces from the east, “the Jordan Valley is the best line that you can rely upon,” Dayan noted. “There is the Jordan River, there is the ridge overlooking the Jordan Valley, [and there are] only five strategic passages. And [there are] actually very few Israelis and almost no Palestinians in this strip, so it’s enough to deploy, for example, two divisions in a crisis time if needed.”
Also, Dayan pointed out, “we know that if you don’t control the envelope of the region, very quickly some terror groups like Hamas will take over, and they invite the Iranians and, all of a sudden, you have an Iranian outpost. There is an outpost in Lebanon, there is a partial one in Gaza, we don’t need another one in…the West Bank and near Jerusalem.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has repeatedly stated publicly, as recently as earlier this month, that Israel would not give up military control of the Jordan Valley in any future peace deal with the Palestinians.
I could have lived without UN’s anti-settlement resolution, Dan Shapiro says
Dan Shapiro, the former US ambassador to Israel, indicated Sunday that he would have preferred if Washington had not allowed the United Nations Security Council to pass a resolution condemning settlements in late December.
He firmly rejected, however, the Israeli government’s claim that the Obama administration ambushed Jerusalem by initiating and promoting the resolution, and noted that, six months later, Israel has yet to offer any of its promised proof to bolster this accusation.
“At a personal level, I could’ve lived without it,” Shapiro said of the December 23 Resolution 2334, speaking at a Times of Israel Presents event in Jerusalem. “Among other things, it happened in the week of my daughter’s bat mitzvah. And I was rather focused on other things, including her beautiful parsha [weekly Torah portion], which I had taught her to layn [recite], and family, and so forth. So it was something I could have lived without.”
Shapiro — who is staying on in Israel with his family for the next year or so, and is now a distinguished visiting fellow at the Institute for National Security Studies think tank in Tel Aviv — defended the resolution as “perfectly in line with longstanding US policies.” But he revealed on Sunday that he had recommended that Washington take a different course. “I suggested something else,” he told Times of Israel’s founding editor David Horovitz in an hour-and-half-long interview.
Rather than the US refraining from vetoing the draft proposed by Malaysia, New Zealand, Senegal and Venezuela — a decision which enabled the resolution to pass — Shapiro said he proposed shaping a text modeled on a July 2016 report published by the Middle East Quartet. That report was seen as far more balanced, since it placed significant emphasis on Palestinian incitement and condemned the “illicit arms buildup” and terrorist activities by Hamas.
US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman meets 'worse than Kapos' J Street
US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman met a delegation of J Street members on Monday.
The meeting included J Street president Jeremy Ben-Ami as well as seven Democratic congressmen.
The content of the meeting has not been revealed to the press.
J Street attempted to block Friedman from being nominated as ambassador to Israel and said he is "beyond the pale" of reasonable appointees.
However, the organization seems to have softened its approach toward the US envoy. On Monday J Street issued a statement in which they said that they "believe it is vital to keep an open line of communication between Jewish American and Israeli leaders with different political backgrounds."
Ambassador Friedman previously referred to members of the organization as "worse than kapos" in a shocking statement that received intense backlash.
French nationalist charged with threatening to kill Macron, Jews
A 23-year-old man has been charged with plotting to assassinate French President Emmanuel Macron at France’s Bastille Day parade, a judicial source said Monday.
The self-described nationalist, who was arrested last Wednesday, told investigators he wanted to kill Macron at the July 14 national day parade in Paris, a source close to the investigation said.
He said he also wanted to attack “Muslims, Jews, blacks, homosexuals,” the source added.
Police arrested the man at his home in the northwest Paris suburb of Argenteuil on Wednesday after being alerted by users of a chatroom linked to a video game where he allegedly said he wanted to buy a firearm.
Three kitchen knives were found in his vehicle and analysis of his computer found that he had conducted internet searches on potential targets, the source said.
Latest Developments in Saudi Arabia Chart a Course for Israeli Ties With Arab World
After years of rumors and reports regarding clandestine relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia — mainly motivated by the countries’ shared concerns over Iran’s nuclear program and destabilizing regional activities — two recent developments highlight a potential route for Israel to firm up its support within the Arab world.
First, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi ratified a treaty to hand over two strategic islands in the Red Sea to Saudi Arabia. Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia’s King Salman promoted his 31-year-old son, Mohammed bin Salman, to crown prince, making him next in line to be king.
The deal to hand over the islands of Tiran and Sanafir was reached in 2016, after a visit to Egypt by King Salman. The uninhabited islands that sit on the southern entry to the Gulf of Aqaba were originally given to Egypt in 1950 by Saudi Arabia, in order to protect them from Israel. Later, the islands played an important role in setting off the 1967 Six-Day War, when Egypt closed the Straits of Tiran to Israeli ships, preventing Israeli access to the Red Sea and Indian Ocean.
New direction for Saudi Arabia
Mohammed bin Salman’s rise to crown prince signals a new direction in Saudi Arabia, and his rise may have implications for Israeli-Saudi ties and the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.
Saudi Arabia is dealing with low oil prices, its rivalry with Iran, a dispute with Qatar and civil wars in Yemen and Syria. In his former role as defense minister, Prince Salman sought to boost ties with the US, as well as to overhaul and diversify the Saudi economy, which is heavily dependent on oil.
In a rare public comment on Saudi Arabia by an Israeli official, Communications Minister Ayoub Kara said that the appointment of the new crown prince “means more economic cooperation in the Middle East, and not just regarding oil.”
One convicted, another acquitted for arson at Galilee ‘Loaves’ church
The Nazareth District Court on Monday convicted 22-year-old Yinon Reuveni for a 2015 arson attack by Jewish extremists that heavily damaged a church in northern Israel where Christians believe Jesus performed the miracle of the loaves and fishes.
During the hearing, Judge George Azulay acquitted​ ​21-year-old Yehuda Asraf, who was accused of assisting Reuveni in setting fire to the church building.
In their 2015 indictment, the Shin Bet said that Reuveni, currently a resident of the southern town of Ofakim, had been banished from the West Bank on several occasions and is a suspect in a series of hate crimes, including the February 2015 arson attack at Jerusalem’s Dormition Abbey.
Asraf, the Shin Bet said, had been living on an illegal outpost and is active in extremist Jewish circles.
Two rooms of the Church of the Multiplication of the Loaves and Fishes in Tabgha on the Sea of Galilee were vandalized and badly damaged in the fire two years ago.
3 years after war with Gaza, southern Israel is flourishing
Almost three years after the end of Operation Protective Edge, Israel's clash with Hamas that saw Israel's southern communities bombarded with rockets, the Gaza periphery is blooming. Although many residents are worried that the calm could be torn apart at any moment, building starts are at record numbers and more people are moving into the area than are leaving.
Maya and Marcus Lieberman, parents to Ariel (a year and 10 months) are one of the couples who have moved to Kibbutz Nirim in the Eshkol Regional Council. The kibbutz took a brutal hit in the 2014 operation against Hamas: on the last day of the fighting, residents Zevik Etzion and Shahar Melamed were killed by a Qassam rocket fired from Gaza.
"The Gaza periphery communities are known for their quality of life because of the supportive community, the good schools, the quiet surroundings, and personal safety [of residents], despite the proximity to the Gaza Strip," explains Maya Lieberman.
"We had a lot of concerns, and after Ariel was born, we decided the time was right. The security situation wasn't ideal. The security consideration was a dominant one, but what eventually determined our decision was the quality of life, the school system, and mostly the wonderful community and the ideal place to raise children," she says.
PreOccupiedTerritory: Tel Aviv Schools To Drop Hebrew; Biblical Language Too Religious (satire)
Ongoing debate over the role and presence of religious content in the secular education system intensified over the last two weeks, leading the Tel Aviv Municipality to remove all use of the Hebrew language in municipal schools, owing to the language’s religious associations.
Mayor Ron Huldai signed the measure this morning, after several weeks of intense national media exposure of alleged religious coercion in the education system in the form of religious phrases, concepts, names, and references in texts discussing non-religious subjects such as arithmetic.
“We have to answer to the parents,” explained the mayor, “and the parents in the Tel Aviv-Yafo secular school system have made it clear they oppose religious indoctrination in any form. Lest such objectionable content make its way into the children’s curriculum by dint of linguistic or literary allusion, however unintentional, the Education Department of the municipality, under my instruction, has begun to implement a phase-out of Hebrew from all secular materials in Tel Aviv public schools.” Huldai predicted the process would be completed by the end of the coming school year, in June 2018.
“Some subject areas might pose a challenge in that regard,” observed pedagogical consultant Ivri Balshan. “Local history, for example, is replete with place names from the Bible, which are mostly Hebrew. National figures from the present and past are largely Jewish, so weeding out what doesn’t belong is not going to be an exact science.”
MEMRI: Palestinian Struggle To Commemorate Mastermind Of 1974 Deadly Attack On Israeli Schoolchildren
The Palestinian Authority's [PA] efforts to cultivate the legacy of armed resistance to Israel and glorify the prisoners and martyrs finds expression, inter alia, in the commemoration of figures, especially PLO members, who carried out attacks against Israelis, including civilians. The PA commemorates the perpetrators of attacks by holding events and erecting monuments in their honor, and naming public facilities and city squares after them.
Recently the Jenin municipality inaugurated a square and monument honoring Khaled Nazzal, who was head of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestinian (DFLP) and masterminded brutal attacks, the deadliest of which was the 1974 massacre in Maalot, in which 27 Israelis, most of them schoolchildren, were killed. One week after the monument's inauguration, following pressures from the U.S. and Israel, the Jenin municipality removed the monument, but Fatah activists later restored it. After the IDF destroyed it, Jenin activists built a similar monument in another part of the city, which was also destroyed by the IDF. Another monument for Nazzal was built in Ramallah, and has not been destroyed.
The DFLP, which is part of the PLO, condemned the demands to remove the monument, and charged Palestinian President Mahmoud 'Abbas "not to succumb to the dictates of the occupation government, especially when it comes to the martyrs, the prisoners and the wounded." Fatah's Jenin branch, whose members rebuilt the monument after the Jenin municipality removed it, said in a statement that the martyrs are "a red line that must not be crossed." Condemnations were also voiced by Palestinian officials and writers, including Nazzal's widow, who stressed the importance of commemorating Nazzal and other martyrs. This report deals with Palestinian commemoration of terrorists, focusing on the case of Khaled Nazzal.
Abbas’s Fatah Party Condemns IDF for Destroying Monument to Terrorist Mastermind
The Fatah movement, led by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, has harshly condemned an incident in which the IDF destroyed a monument erected in the center of Jenin to a Palestinian terrorist who was involved in the murder of dozens of Israelis.
Palestinian media reported that on Friday morning a group of IDF soldiers destroyed the monument to Jamal Nazal, who was the head of the so-called military wing of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine terrorist group. According to the Palestinian report, IDF soldiers left a written declaration at the scene stating, “The site was destroyed because of incitement and because it praises a terrorist responsible for terror attacks against Israeli civilians.”
Nazal was involved in the planning of many attacks against Israelis. The most severe was a massacre perpetrated in Ma’alot in northern Israel in 1974. The attack killed 26 Israelis, 22 of whom were students taken hostage in a school by a cell from the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine on a mission from Nazal.
Two weeks ago, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu condemned the Palestinian Authority’s decision to erect the monument for Nazal, and claimed that Abbas is poisoning Palestinian youth against Israel. Netanyahu called on Abbas “to educate Palestinian youth for peace and not for terror.”
Nazal was assassinated in Athens in 1986, an act Palestinians blame on Israeli intelligence.
Palestinians re-erect Jenin terrorist memorial razed by IDF
Palestinian activists on Saturday re-erected a monument set up in honor of a Palestinian terrorist in the town of Jenin, a day after it was bulldozed by the Israeli military.
The Jenin municipality last month named a square after “martyr” Khaled Nazzal, a Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) operative who planned a massacre in the northern town of Ma’alot in which Palestinian terrorists murdered 22 schoolchildren and four adults. It also erected a monument in Nazzal’s honor.
On Friday Israeli forces entered Jenin and removed the monument. During the operation, clashes broke out between soldiers and locals, during which one Israeli soldier was shot and moderately injured, while six Palestinian protesters were injured, one of them seriously.
On Saturday, DFLP activists again restored the monument to its location, images posted to thee group’s Facebook page showed.
It has low-cost, rave-reviewed luxury hotels, but Ramallah struggles to lure tourists
The Palestinian city of Ramallah, just north of Jerusalem, is opening its arms to tourists, marking itself as a hip, energetic destination with accommodations and attractions matching anything Israel can offer — and for about half the price. But so far, the “if you build it, they will come” philosophy hasn’t quite worked.
The city, home to the Palestinian Authority’s main headquarters and office buildings, has grown in recent years into a modern, bustling Middle Eastern metropolis, and is a window into the political, cultural and social lives of the Palestinian people.
Over the past decade, the city has also seen three five-star hotels open — with another on the way — ostensibly a sign that Ramallah’s tourism prospects are looking up.
The hotels are receiving rave reviews online, and charge only about half as much as comparable accommodations in Tel Aviv or Jerusalem. Two hostels are also available for the thrifty traveler.
But according to information provided by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, though the number of five-star hotels may be on the rise in the city, the number of guests visiting in recent years has hardly changed, and the occupancy rate hovers at around just 27 percent, on average.
Saudi media threatens Qatar as ultimatum nears expiry
An ultimatum issued by Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates to Qatar that it drop support for terrorists and meet a list of 13 demands toward that end is nearing its expiry amid a torrent of threats against Doha in the Saudi media.
The threats raise the possibility of fresh steps against Qatar to follow up a boycott and the severing of diplomatic relations by the four allies on June 5.
The ultimatum was issued on June 23 and expires on Sunday. Among its demands are that Qatar close Al Jazeera television; curb ties with Iran; close a Turkish military base; and hand over designated terrorists to the allies.
A writer in the Saudi daily Okaz, Muhammad al-Sultan, warned on Saturday that “Qatar should realize it is only one drop in the sea of Saudi politics, which is deep, profound and roaring. Riyadh and its sisters in Abu Dhabi, Manama and Cairo are serious this time about putting an end to the strife and the games of the petty. Qatar, which benefited from the patience of Riyadh, should understand that the anger of Riyadh will be very painful such that a small emirate can’t bear it.”
Turkey’s power-play in Qatar leads to warmer relations with Iran
On June 17 the Iranian ambassador to Turkey said that Tehran wanted to cooperate with Turkey in the struggle against terrorism.
According to a report in the Daily Sabah, a Turkish pro-government newspaper, Mohammad Ebrahim Taherian Fard was asked if his country views Kurdish groups in Syria, the People’s Protection Units and Democratic Union Party, as terrorists, the way Ankara does. “[Iran] describes the PKK, the PYD and the YPG to be terrorist groups,” the ambassador said.
The latest Iranian comments, as well as Turkey’s decision to send troops to Qatar amid a dispute with Saudi Arabia represent the creation of a new Qatar-Turkey-Iranian sphere of influence that has potential to influence the region and Israel. Qatar and Turkey have both had close relations with Hamas over the last decade. The creation of a warmer relationship between Doha, Ankara and Tehran could threaten Israel and could bring Jerusalem closer to Riyadh and Cairo. It also marks a departure from the narrative that the Middle East is divided between a Sunni-led alliance in Riyadh and a Shi’ite-led alliance in Tehran.
By aligning itself with Turkey against left-wing Kurdish groups in Syria, Iran is sending an important message. Several months ago experts and commentators were suggesting that Iran’s influence in Syria and its attempt to construct a “road to the sea” would go through Sinjar in Iraq and via Rojava in Syria, two areas where the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and the YPG are influential. Now Iran has pulled a 180-degree policy shift.
PreOccupiedTerritory: Something Important Apparently Happening In Qatar (satire)
Some significant developments are going on in the Persian Gulf nation of Qatar, according to local sources whose job it is to notice such events.
Journalists on the ground in the Middle East commercial and media hub report that people are buzzing with something evidently important, and that has been occurring for a number of weeks. The journalists promised to provide more details as they become available.
“This is big,” stated Hugh Dope, a correspondent with WWUT News. “No one can stop talking about it – it affects everyone in a massive way. I’ll have more on this once more information is forthcoming on what exactly is happening.”
Other sources indicate the important developments are not restricted to Qatar. “It looks like there are reports of stuff happening, or about to happen, or that might happen if something doesn’t change, in Saudi media as well,” observed Klu Liss of Dissociated Press. “Our colleagues in Bahrain, Kuwait, and the United Arab Emirates indicate they’ve gotten wind of similar things. Clearly, we have a major story here.”
Foreign diplomats also expressed anxiety over the developing situation, and reportedly held intensive consultations with both local staffers and officials in their home countries, another sign that the thing that is happening carries weight in international circles. “This thing has been claiming our attention for a good couple of weeks now, after being more or less on the back burner for a long time before that,” offered one diplomat. “It’s going to have consequences.” The diplomat declined to elaborate further.
Saudi Author Ignites Controversy After Tweeting Education System Supports Terrorism
The Saudi author Turki al-Hamad set off a storm of controversy on social media in Saudi Arabia after tweeting an accusation against local educational facilities, which he claimed espouse ideology that supports Islamic terrorism.
Alhamad wrote in the controversial tweet, “ISIS is a virus located in our schools, in our universities, in our institutions, in our families, in the air and atmosphere around us, a virus waiting for the opportunity to recover anew. The virus will remain as long as the legacy of Ibn Taymiyyah and all his students stays among us.”
The Islamic philosopher Taqī ad-Dīn Ahmad ibn Taymiyyah is considered the spiritual father of the Salafi movement in Islam and a source of inspiration for jihadists in the Islamic State and other groups. He lived in the 13th century. His supporters claim that accusing him of being the father of jihadist terror does an injustice to him since his later teachings moderated his earlier messages that called for violent jihad against the enemies of Islam.
Hamad’s tweet stirred up much debate, with one Twitter user saying, “Taymiyyah dies in 728 according to the Islamic calendar (1328 A.D.). Could it be that after his death and throughout all these years ISIS was only created because of him? Liar.”
Alleged Trump ‘Regime Change’ Policy Sparks Angry Denunciations of US From Iranian Leaders
Anxiety in Tehran over US President Donald Trump’s decision to actively side with rival Sunni Arab states in the ongoing Qatar crisis led on Sunday to fiercely anti-American statements from conservative and so-called “moderate” leaders alike, who believe that the administration’s behavior demonstrates a renewed American commitment to “regime change” in Iran.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani – a vocal advocate of the 2015 nuclear deal agreed between Iran and six world powers – told a meeting organized as part of the Islamist regime’s “Judiciary Week” that “being revolutionary means isolating the United States.”
Claiming that the US had alienated the international community after the US Senate imposed tough new sanctions on Iran in June, Rouhani said the goal of Iranian foreign policy should be to “make powers condemn the US and reproach it should it choose to stand against us.”
At the same event, Ali Larijani – a conservative hardliner and Holocaust denier who currently serves as the speaker of Iran’s parliament – contrasted the current administration with the previous Obama Administration’s approach to Iran. “The Americans have been expressing their anti-Iran policies in a much more transparent way in recent months,” Larijani observed, adding that concerns about Iran’s missile program, its human rights record and its support for terrorism were simply “pretexts” for the US to pursue regime change in Iran.
Larijani also accused the US of violating its agreements under the nuclear deal, warning that a “strong response” from Iran should be expected.
Iranians hold Nazi-tinged ‘Trumpism’ cartoon contest
Iranians have organized a “Trumpism” cartoon contest in which hundreds of participants have been invited to submit artwork mocking the US leader.
The same organizers held a Holocaust cartoon contest last year, which they said was meant to highlight Western double standards on free speech and not to cast doubt on the Nazi genocide.
The logo for the Trump contest is based on the Nazi emblem, with a diagonal “T” in a white circle against a red background. One cartoon shows US President Donald Trump painting a Hitler-like mustache on the face of the Statue of Liberty.
The exhibition, which opened Monday, includes the works of some 1,600 Iranian and foreign participants. The winner of the top prize will get $1,500.
MEMRI: Hizbullah Secretary-General Defends Child Marriage And Criticizes Same-sex marriage!
Hizbullah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah took a stand against efforts to legalize same-sex marriage in Lebanon, saying that homosexuality "defies logic, human nature, and the human mind." In his address, delivered on March 18, the "Muslim Women's Day," and broadcast on Al-Manar TV, Nasrallah criticized the "culture of opposition to early marriage," saying that proponents of this culture were "unknowingly serving Satan and the devils." "The response should be the spreading of the culture of early marriage."
Hassan Nasrallah: "There are societies abroad that were ruined by homosexuality, and now they are exporting it to Lebanon and to the Arab and Islamic world. They want to legalize same-sex marriage in the parliament. Homosexual relations defy logic, human nature, and the human mind. These relations... Some people say: 'But this is about freedom of choice. What's the problem?' No, this is a big problem. A big problem. In Lebanon and elsewhere, everybody - the Muslims, the Christians, and the non-religious... Anyone who cares about his society and about the purity of humanity must take a stand against this kind of enterprise.

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Elder of Ziyon - حـكـيـم صـهـيـون

This blog may be a labor of love for me, but it takes a lot of effort, time and money. For over 14 years and 30,000 articles I have been providing accurate, original news that would have remained unnoticed. I've written hundreds of scoops and sometimes my reporting ends up making a real difference. I appreciate any donations you can give to keep this blog going.


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The Jerusalem Report:"A seemingly indefatigable one-man operation, armed only with a computer, chutzpa and stamina."

Algemeiner: "Fiercely intelligent and erudite"

Omri: "Elder is one of the best established and most respected members of the jblogosphere..."
Atheist Jew:"Elder of Ziyon probably had the greatest impression on me..."
Soccer Dad: "He undertakes the important task of making sure that his readers learn from history."
AbbaGav: "A truly exceptional blog..."
Judeopundit: "[A] venerable blog-pioneer and beloved patriarchal figure...his blog is indispensable."
Oleh Musings: "The most comprehensive Zionist blog I have seen."
Carl in Jerusalem: "...probably the most under-recognized blog in the JBlogsphere as far as I am concerned."
Aussie Dave: "King of the auto-translation."
The Israel Situation:The Elder manages to write so many great, investigative posts that I am often looking to him for important news on the PalArab (his term for Palestinian Arab) side of things."
Tikun Olam: "Either you are carelessly ignorant or a willful liar and distorter of the truth. Either way, it makes you one mean SOB."
Mondoweiss commenter: "For virulent pro-Zionism (and plain straightforward lies of course) there is nothing much to beat it."
Didi Remez: "Leading wingnut"

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