Wednesday, September 27, 2017

From Ian:

Dennis Ross: Memories of an Anti-Semitic State Department
Former CIA officer Valerie Plame Wilson repeated the well-worn narrative that Jewish neoconservatives promoted the invasion of Iraq - and are beating the drum for a conflict with Iran. Of course, most Jews are not neoconservatives, and most neoconservatives are not Jewish. In any case, it was two influential non-Jews, Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, who played the central role with President Bush in deciding to invade Iraq in 2003.

When I began working in the Pentagon during President Jimmy Carter's administration, there was an unspoken but unmistakable assumption: If you were Jewish, you could not work on the Middle East because you would be biased. However, if you knew about the Middle East because you came from a missionary family or from the oil industry, you were an expert. People with these backgrounds were perceived to be unbiased, while Jews could not be objective.

Secretary of State George Shultz tried to change the culture of the State Department during the Reagan administration. Shultz was more interested in your knowledge than your identity. He made me and Daniel Kurtzer members of the small team working with him on Arab-Israeli diplomacy.

Tweeting that Jews are pushing for a new war is the definition of prejudice. How can it not be when you label a whole group and ascribe to all those who are a part of it a particular negative trait or threatening behavior? And once you have singled out groups, the leap is small to imposing limits on them, quarantining them and rationalizing violence against them.
In unsubtle critique, Israel gifts UNESCO Arch of Titus replica
Israel handed a replica of a frieze from the Arch of Titus to the head of UNESCO, using the monument commemorating Rome’s victory over Jerusalem for a not-so-subtle critique of the organization’s resolutions that ignore Jewish links to the holy city.

The idea originally came from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, after the United Nations Educational and Scientific Organization passed a resolution last year that used only Muslim names for the Jerusalem Old City holy sites.

The replica will be exhibited in UNESCO’s Paris headquarters as a “greeting from the historical truth about the existence of two Temples on the Temple Mount,” said Carmel Shama-Hacohen, Israel’s ambassador to the agency.

Shama-Hacohen handed the replica to UNESCO’s outgoing director-general Irina Bokova, who, in her speech, offered a more subtle critique of one-sided anti-Israel resolutions passed routinely by her organization’s member states.

“2,000 years ago the Romans destroyed the Temple and removed it from the Jewish people. And today, UNESCO is trying to destroy and remove the history of Jerusalem from the Jewish people,” Shama-Hacohen said at the event.

“When the executive board of UNESCO adopts every six months a resolution that denies the connection between the Jewish people and the Temple Mount, they are not only adopting a political resolution, they are adopting a resolution that negates the right of the State of Israel to exist and the Jewish people’s right of self-determination,” he said.

Furthermore, such resolutions “pave the way for spreading anti-Semitism and terrorism,” Shama-Hacohen went on.



In blow to Israel, Interpol admits Palestine as full member
In a stinging diplomatic defeat for Israel, the world’s largest international police organization on Wednesday accepted the “State of Palestine” as a full member.

At Interpol’s annual General Assembly in Beijing, the Palestinians’ membership bid was accepted with 75 counties voting yes, 24 voting no, and 34 abstaining.

Israel fiercely objected to the Palestinians joining Interpol, arguing that Ramallah’s alleged support for terrorism could hinder rather than aid Interpol’s efforts. The US administration, too, objected to Ramallah’s membership bid and helped Israel lobby against it.

Israel had expressed concerns that the PA’s membership in Interpol would result in sensitive information being leaked to Palestinian terror groups. It also reportedly fears Palestinian efforts via Interpol to mount legal challenges, including travel bans and extradition requests, against Israeli army officers and others for alleged war crimes.

Shortly after the vote at Interpol’s Executive Committee, Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki welcomed the decision, hailing it as a “victory” for his people.

“The State of Palestine considers this membership and the responsibilities that it entails as an integral part of its responsibility towards the Palestinian people and a moral commitment to the citizens of the world,” he said, according to the PA’s official news site Wafa.

“Palestine is ready and able to shoulder these obligations and responsibilities as an active partner in the international community, and to contribute effectively and significantly to advancing our common core values as nations,” he added.
Amb. Alan Baker: INTERPOL Ignores Terror and Criminals
On September 25, 2017, the board of directors of the international organization of police forces, INTERPOL, agreed to put on its agenda a resolution to accept the Palestinians into INTERPOL. Within hours, in the early hours of September 26, a Palestinian, employed by Israelis to work within their homes, shot and killed three Israelis in a particularly violent act of terror, carried out at the entrance to the Israeli village of Har Adar.

The terrorist attack is a reminder of the cynical blindness and naïveté of those states, members of Interpol, whose board yesterday refused to reject the Palestinian membership resolution. INTERPOL’s General Assembly will vote on the resolution today, September 26.

The decision was also indicative of the total insensitivity of the international community, which out of political correctness and an incomprehensible eagerness to coddle the Palestinian leadership, fails to realize that in so doing they are giving the Palestinians a green light and license to incite and to reward terror.

Alan Baker

Resident of Har Adar
Israeli politicians decry PA's acceptance to Interpol ranks
Israeli politicians on Wednesday reacted furiously to the decision to accept the 'State of Palestine' as a member of the International Police Organization (Interpol). The criticism was aimed both at the decision and, in the case of the opposition, at the Israeli government on whose watch the vote was lost.

Environmental Protection Minister Ze'ev Elkin (Likud) said that "Israel can not stand idle in the face of the Palestinians' diplomatic warfare. We must convene the cabinet and stop all of our good-will gestured towards the Palestinian Authority." Elkin, who also holds the Jerusalem portfolio in the Cabinet, said Israel must withdraw the special transfer permits it approves for PA officials, who he claimed were inciting against the Jewish state.

MK Shuli Moallem (Bayit Yehudi) said Interpol, like all other international organizations, was biased against Israel. "The struggle on our part must continue, even though it appears endless," she said. She added, however, that there were things that the Israeli government should have done, but failed to, to prevent the outcome.

The move passed by a vote of 75 to 24, with 34 abstentions. The Palestinians needed more than two-thirds of the yes-or-no votes counted, and passed that threshold easily.

Former Prime Minister Ehud Barak tweeted that it was "another one of Netanyahu's failures. The gap between reality and impressive but empty speeches is growing. Leadership built only of 'talking big' is endangering Israel."

Former foreign minister Tzipi Livni (Zionist Union) reacted by saying the decision was "bad, bad for Israel," adding that "Israel must recognize that in the international community there is no vacuum." Livni, like others, said that the Palestinians' insistence on joining international bodies was a result of the breakdown of peace talks with Israel.
PLO asks ICC to investigate 'Israeli settlements'
The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) has decided to submit an official request to the International Criminal Court (ICC) to investigate what it calls “illegal Israeli settlement activity”, PLO Executive Committee member Dr. Hanan Ashrawi told the Ma’an news agency.

Ashrawi told the news agency that the committee had made the decision to move forward with submitting an official investigation request to the ICC, which is based in The Hague.

The Palestinian Authority (PA) officially joined the ICC on April 1, 2015, and immediately filed a series of legal complaints with the court. In addition to claiming that Israel committed war crimes during the 2014 Gaza war, it also claimed that Israeli “settlements” are “an ongoing war crime”.

The official PA news agency Wafa reported that during a PLO Executive Committee meeting on Sunday, the organization condemned Israel for “ethnic cleansing and racial segregation,” which they highlighted were “considered war crimes that should be investigated by the ICC.”

A PLO statement reportedly accused Israel of carrying out a “silent ethnic cleansing” in Jerusalem, the Jordan Valley and Hevron.
Antisemitism gets global platform as states and NGOs condemn "Judaization" at UN "Human Rights" Council
At the latest session of the UN Human Rights Council dedicated to demonizing Israel, states and NGOs made clear that their hatred of the Jewish State also extends to hatred of the Jewish people. During the meeting, held on September 25, 2017 in Geneva, multiple states and non-governmental organizations condemned "Judaization," an odious term which means the presence of Jews in Arab-claimed territory.
Lowlights include:

- Syrian Arab Republic: "We condemn the continued Israeli activity to Judaize Jerusalem... "
- Saudi Arabia: "The Judaization policy of a large part of the West Bank is a failure on the part of the international community to ensure that the United Nation's decisions are complied with. This policy is seeking to change the status quo, the historic status quo of Jerusalem, and may bring about religious hatred within the first consequences."
- Qatar: "It is time for the international community to end its silence and take up its legal and moral responsibilities by taking a position to put an end to ... the Judaization of the Holy Land..."
- Meezan Center for Human Rights: "We suffer from the Judaization policies which are becoming more intense in their scale and their pace and in violation of the international human rights instruments."
- Human Rights Agency: "The Judaization project of the Christian neighborhoods is a blatant violation of the status quo since-that has been there since-for 250 years."
UN-sponsored BDS promoted at UN "Human Rights" Council
The boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement to isolate and delegitimize Israel was given a boost at the UN Human Rights Council during its recent anti-Israel session. During the meeting held in Geneva on September 25, 2017, multiple states and non-governmental organizations pushed for the publication of a "database" of all companies that conduct business - directly or indirectly - relating to Israeli "settlements" in Arab-claimed territories. The blacklist was authorized in a March 2016 Human Rights Council and is expected to be released by the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in December 2017.

Promotion of the BDS database included the following:
- Palestinian representative: "I would like to recall that all those who import the products produced by settlements is an accomplice of these violations, which are gross violations of international humanitarian law which amount to crimes of war, and we are awaiting the establishment of a database for enterprises operating in these settlements by the end of this year, in accordance with the Security Council resolution."
- Pakistan on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC): "The OIC condemns the involvement of Israeli and multi-national corporations in illegal settlements, which results in corporate complicity and war crimes. We look forward to the online publication by the OHCHR of the database of companies involved in illegal Israeli settlements before the end of the year."
- Indonesia: "Mr. Vice-President, on a final note, while we wait for the publication by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights regarding the database of companies involved in illegal settlements, we encourage all Member States to cease any forms of cooperation which may have the potential to prolong and aggravate the Palestinian people's suffering."
Genocidal Assad regime claims Israel is "violating" rights of Syrians
The Assad regime claimed that Israel is violating the rights of Syrians in the "occupied Syrian Golan" - while Assad forces slaughter Syrian civilians in "unoccupied" Syria. The accusation was made during the UN Human Rights Council's regular meeting to bash Israel on September 25, 2017. According to the Syrian representative, Hussam Edin Aala, Israel's violations include preventing residents of the Golan from attending Syrian universities. The fact that students might avoid traveling to Syria because of the daily atrocities perpetrated there by Assad forces was left unmentioned.

In the representative's words:
"The sons and daughters of the occupied Syrian Golan are victims of gross violations at the hands of the Israeli occupying authorities who...prevent the Syrians from building on their own land and from communicating with their own families in the mother country, prevents them from continuing education in Syrian universities, prevents them from their livelihoods, and arbitrarily detains them. We call upon the Human Rights Council to condemn these Israeli practices...We also warn that Israel has decided to carry out elections for local councils in the occupied Syrian Golan next year... These violations in fact require monitoring and accountability..."
Sudan Investment Minister candidly praises Israel
Sudan's Investment Minister Mubarak Al-Fadil Al-Mahdi, speaking on Sudania 24 TV spoke candidly about normalization with Israel, and his words were translated by MEMRI TV:

"I have my own opinion about the Palestinian cause, Israel, and all that. I think that people are more emotionally invested in this than reality warrants.

"The Palestinians share much of the responsibility for what has happened to them. They sold their lands and created many problems. The Arabs made grave mistakes by rejecting the Partition Plan and other resolutions. The Arab countries peddled in the Palestinian cause. Whenever someone stages a coup, he says it's for the liberation of Palestine (laughs, mumbles, 'so to speak...')... They have peddled in the Palestinian cause ad nauseum. It has become a political commodity in the Arab world."

The interviewer asks "if we were offered normalization of our relations with Israel...As a politician, would you support or oppose this?"

Al-Mahdi answers "I would consider it in accordance with the interests of Sudan."
In Abu Ghosh, bereaved father says he’s ‘proud’ of son slain protecting Har Adar
The mourning tent outside the home of Yousef Ottman, 25, one of three security officers killed in a terror attack on Tuesday, was frequented by hundreds of friends and family, including residents of the Arab Israeli town of Abu Ghosh, former Border Police colleagues, as well as members of the Jewish West Bank settlement he died protecting, Har Adar.

The diverse tapestry of mourners who came to his funeral seemed to confirm what those who knew him told The Times of Israel: Ottman “got along with everyone,” was friendly and intelligent, and a man who had finished his three years of service in an elite unit of the Border Police with distinction.

The burial ceremony was conducted by the town’s Mayor Issa Jaber in both Hebrew and Arabic, and was attended by police officials, Knesset members, and a government minister.

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat later visited the mourning tent, which will remain open for the next 30 days for anyone who wants to visit.

Suheir Ottman, the father of the security guard killed by a Palestinian gunman early Tuesday in nearby Har Adar, told The Times of Israel his son “got along with everyone in the village. Everyone loved him.”

“I’m proud of my son,” said the grim-faced father, who appeared shell-shocked as he welcomed guests to the tent outside his house.
Liberman’s party revives death penalty for terrorists bill after Har Adar attack
Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman’s Yisrael Beytenu party said Tuesday it will revive legislation applying the death penalty to convicted terrorists after a deadly terror attack in the settlement of Har Adar earlier in the day.

MK Robert Ilatov, who will submit the bill, said the legislation is necessary to deter future terrorists from carrying out attacks.

“The legislation needs to be clear and unequivocal. A terrorist who comes with the goal of murdering innocent citizens — his sentence is death,” said Ilatov in a statement Tuesday.

Liberman and his Yisrael Beytenu party have long advocated introducing the death penalty for terrorists and the issue was one of the party’s key campaign promises in the 2015 elections.

While the proposed legislation has previously failed to garner sufficient support, Liberman expects Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to support the bill, Channel 2 reported Tuesday.
Netanyahu vows to raze Har Adar terrorist’s home, revoke family’s work permits
Israel will demolish the house of the terrorist who on Tuesday morning killed three Israelis and injured a fourth at the Har Adar settlement northwest of Jerusalem, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced several hours after the incident.

He blamed the terror attack on “systematic incitement” and called on Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to condemn it.

“This has been a difficult morning; three Israelis were murdered by a depraved individual,” Netanyahu told his ministers at the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem.

“While we are still investigating the event and its implications, we can say some things with certainty even now. One: the home of the terrorist will be demolished. Two: the IDF has already cordoned off the village. Three: all work permits for members of the terrorist’s extended family are hereby revoked.”
Har Adar attack may prompt review of Palestinian work permit policy
Tuesday's terrorist attack at the entrance to the Har Adar settlement outside Jerusalem, perpetrated by Beit Surik resident Nimr Mahmoud Ahmed Jamal, who had a permit to work in Israel, has reportedly prompted Israel to review the policy by which Palestinians receive work permits.

According to the Civil Administration, more than 100,000 Palestinians who live across Judea and Samaria have permits allowing them to work in Israel and in IDF-controlled areas beyond the Green Line.

It is believed an additional 40,000 Palestinians work in Judea and Samaria and Israel illegally.

While some sources expressed concern that Israel would introduce a wide-ranging policy change following the deadly attack, sources familiar with the issue said that while enforcement efforts against those working in Israel illegally will undoubtedly increase, authorities will most likely refrain from any major policy changes.

A senior Civil Administration official told Israel Hayom that the defense establishment tends not to impose collective punishment measures against the Palestinian population.

"Over the last few years, the defense establishment has made do with punitive and differential punishment [measures] in response to terrorist attacks, such as revoking the work permits held by the terrorist's relatives and at times from the extended family. It is no coincidence that in the past decade, only a handful of attacks were carried out by terrorists with work permits in Israel and in Judea and Samaria," the official said.
'Terrorist shot 10 rounds at the guards at point-blank range'
The investigation into Tuesday's terrorist attack at the entrance to the Har Adar settlement outside Jerusalem has found that the three men killed in the attack – Border Police Staff Sgt. Solomon Gavriyah and security guards Youssef Ottman and Or Arish – were all shot at point-blank range, sources familiar with the investigation told Israel Hayom.

Large security forces surrounded the Palestinian village of Beit Surik, where terrorist Nimr Mahmoud Ahmad Jamal lived, immediately after the attack.

Security forces raided his home, and three Palestinians, including two of Jamal's brothers, were arrested on suspicion they knew of his intentions.

The military has barred all traffic to and from the village over concerns about copycat attacks, with exceptions for humanitarian cases.
Foreign media refuses to classify Har Adar attack as terrorism
International media is calling this morning’s terror attack in Har Adar a “shooting,” refusing to address the terroristic nature of the attack.

Thus, CNN’s headline about the attack read: “Three Israelis killed in shooting at West Bank crossing,” without reference to the word “terror.” The terrorist himself is referred to as “the attacker” and “gunman.”

BBC reported: “Palestinian gunman kills three Israelis,” and was sure to note that the attack took place at the entrance to a “settlement in the occupied West Bank.” The article notes that the “gunman [...] was also shot and died later” after “[shooting] his victims at close range,” but does not explain that he was shot for committing a terror attack. Later, the article goes on to give “context” for the attack.

“The issue of settlements is one of the most contentious between Israel and the Palestinians, who see them as an obstacle to peace.”

According to NBC, the terrorist is a “suspect.” The article’s headline reads: “Three Israelis shot dead by Palestinian at West Bank settlement.”

In an exception to the general trend of shying away from labelling the attack as “terror,” Fox News’ headline read: “Jerusalem terror attack: 3 Israelis killed in shooting.”
Har Adar terrorist's daughter: 'Netanyahu, you forced my father to die'
"I love you Dad. You are a man with a good heart," wrote the daughter of the Palestinian terrorist to her father after he carried out a deadly terror attack that killed three Israelis in Har Adar on Tuesday morning.

Nimer Mahmoud Ahmad Jamal, who was shot dead by Israeli forces, left behind four children, the eldest 10 years old and the youngest four years old. In his home village of Beit Surik, local residents could not believe the news, emphasizing that Jamal was "a polite man, quiet and a sportsman known for working out. The youth of the village respect him and he is known as someone that helps others."

Family members of the attacker rejected the "rumors spread by the Shin Bet (Security Agency)" that he had problems with his wife.

"His wife traveled to Jordan to visit a sick family member," they told Palestinian media. "His relations with his wife were completely normal. The Israelis are trying to harm his status as a martyr."

Nimer Mahmoud Ahmad Jamal, perpetrator of the September 26, 2017 terror attack in Har Adar (Social Media)Nimer Mahmoud Ahmad Jamal, perpetrator of the September 26, 2017 terror attack in Har Adar (Social Media)

Lin, the attacker's eldest daughter, described her father as a "man with a good heart" in her letter. She added: "Netanyahu, do you think that a father with a good heart would want to die if you hadn't forced him to kill you because of the injustice, killing and brutality that you've caused?"
PreOccupiedTerritory: Terrorist Attacks Have Israelis Questioning ‘Normalization’ With Palestinians (satire)
Three Israelis were killed and a fourth seriously injured in yet another attack by a Palestinian yesterday, prompting doubts among Israel’s population regarding the wisdom of continuing to engage in any form of contact with Palestinians that might imply acceptance of the situation and its legitimization.

The attacker, like several others among the thousands of Palestinian attempts on Israeli lives over the last several years, exploited his work permit, a document that allowed him to enter Israeli territory from areas governed by the Palestinian Authority. Following what security officials have described as intensive training with his weapon, Nimr Jamal shot the Israeli security guards at the gates of the Har Adar community where hundreds of Palestinians have worked in Jewish employ for decades. Prior to yesterday, Har Adar had not seen a terrorist incident, but the unprecedented attack has Israelis wondering whether letting Palestinians continue to cross over the Green Line or into Israeli areas beyond it, in addition to conducting any ‘normal’ relations with them, suggests it might be OK for the neighboring culture and leadership to incite, commit, and reward terrorism.

“The thing is it normalizes their violence,” argued Dor Ikkesh, a Har Adar resident. “The international community has to make it clear that no normalization of relations, commerce, or other contacts with Palestinians can commence until the illegitimate terrorist entity of theirs is dismantled. Only then can we consider it.”

“There should be a global boycott of Palestinians,” seconded Bertha Freshère of nearby Mevasseret Tziyon, a suburb of Jerusalem within the Green Line. “Perhaps with some has-been musicians as prominent advocates of a strategy to isolate and punish Palestinians until they internalize the need to respect the human rights of Israelis. I think the college campuses of North America would be a good recruiting ground for that initiative, since the people there are always so vocal about protecting human rights.”
IDF Chief of Staff reduces Hebron shooter's sentence by four months
IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot on Wednesday commuted the Hebron shooter's sentence by four months, such that Elor Azaria will still need to serve a 14 month prison sentence.

The middle-of-the-road decision, which is likely to please no one, effectively ends the saga which has roiled the Israeli military, political class and public since Azaria shot and killed a neutralized Palestinian terrorist on March 24, 2016.

Eisenkot had already signaled that he would not fully pardon Azaria when he declined to issue a pardon three weeks ago, the first chance he could have intervened.

Many had thought Eisenkot would rush to issue a decision in early September to end the public pressure over the issue in which a vast majority of politicians, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, have lobbied for commuting the sentence.

If Eisenkot was concerned about the negative domestic coverage the IDF has received from Azaria already spending time in prison, a speedy announcement of whatever leniency he was willing to show would have scored some quick points.

Also, the IDF chief’s own statements the day that Azaria’s appeal was rejected indicated that he would seriously weigh leniency for Azaria if he dropped a potential appeal to the High Court of Justice.
INSS: Hamas: Toward Palestinian Reconciliation, or Abdication of Governmental Responsibility?
Although his name was not mentioned in the Hamas announcement, it appears that Mohammed Dahlan will assume an important role in the process, both as an emissary of Egypt, which is suspicious of Hamas, and the United Arab Emirates, and as the one responsible for the reconstruction funds. The inclusion of Dahlan in the new order is likely to make it easier for Hamas and Israel to expedite the reconstruction process in the Gaza Strip: it will be easier for both sides to operate through Dahlan, rather than directly. The importance of Dahlan, a bitter enemy and a threat to the status of Abbas, does not add to Abbas’s peace of mind. It is possible that in order to make the initiative more palatable to Fatah, Dahlan will operate through Samir Mashharawi, his right hand man.

Israel has no substantive influence on the current maneuvers for reconciliation in the Palestinian arena, and should not intervene in them at this stage. Israel is seeking to maintain its deterrence against Hamas and prevent the next round of violent conflict, or at least delay it for as long as possible. In addition to defense measures, such a building a new barrier along the Gaza Strip border, it is important and morally correct that Israel reduce as much as possible the humanitarian distress in the Gaza Strip, and help improve the population’s welfare and quality of life. At this stage, there is no change in the political view of Hamas: it refuses to recognize Israel, put aside its “weapon of resistance,” and be a full partner in a settlement based on the two-state principle. It is therefore desirable for Israel to demand that measures for more comprehensive reconstruction in the Gaza Strip, in which it will be a partner, be made contingent on a prolonged security lull and a halt in Hamas’s military buildup.

Some will regard the Hamas announcement and the processes led by Egypt toward internal Palestinian reconciliation as an achievement for the hard-line policy of Abbas and the positions taken by Fatah and the PA. However, it is quite likely, rather, that Hamas has maneuvered skillfully, given the approach of its current leadership, and has successfully caught Abbas and the PA in a honey trap. Nonetheless, and despite the doubts concerning the PA’s ability to fulfill its obligations in the Gaza Strip according to the understandings, the PA is still the most comfortable partner for Israel in rebuilding the Gaza Strip, following many years of cooperation in the civilian and security spheres. If the PA is unable to return to the Gaza Strip, Israel will have to deal officially with Hamas, as it has done in practice in recent years. Israel’s interest mandates aid for reconstruction in the Gaza Strip and acceleration of the process, while trying to enlist Egypt in the undertaking and carefully overseeing the use of the raw materials sent into the Gaza Strip for reconstruction purposes.
MEMRI: Protest Poem By Palestinian Poet Decries Oppression Of Women
Palestinian poet Jadal Al-Qasem, born 1983 in Bulgaria to a Palestinian father and Syrian mother and now residing in Ramallah, frequently writes about women in the Arab and Muslim society. In 2015 her anthology Wheat in Cotton was one of two first-prize winners in the Young Writers annual competition held by the Palestinian A. M. Al-Qattan Foundation. The prize committee described her as a "thought-provoking feminine voice" that offers "a new and sometimes startling perspective," adding that her poetry describes men with sensitivity and courage, based on her personal experience, and also reflects the character of the woman in the Arab Muslim society. Al-Qasem launched the anthology in an April 17, 2017 event at the Mahmoud Darwish Museum in Ramallah, at which she also read several of her poems.

In a March 3, 2017 televised interview with the Palestinian Maan news agency, Al-Qasem said that she believes every individual has a right to "personal self-definition" and that women must fight to realize this right in their everyday lives, in the domains of finance, thought, poetry, etc., because "we [women] are complete human beings and must enjoy all [our] rights." She stressed that "courage is an integral part of a woman" and that a true woman must be brave in everything she does.

On April 25, 2017, the Palestinian Authority (PA) daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida published a poem by Al-Qasem titled "I Am the Scar upon Your Arm," about an oppressed woman who lives to serve others and conforms to their expectations but is not recognized or appreciated. The woman in the poem expresses her hatred for all those around her – her husband, his family and her own – who enabled her suffering and contributed to it. She describes herself as a "puppet" and a "dead woman," and even as a wife doomed to be murdered by her husband.
Coptic Christians Flee Police After Muslims Riot Over Their Social Media Post
Two Coptic Christians fled arrest in Egypt after the men allegedly blamed Islamic leaders for a jihadi bus attack.

Bassem Abdel-Malak Fahim, 25, and Mina Younan Samuel, also 25, remain on the run after Egyptian police charged them with inciting sectarian strife via Facebook comments. Muslims rioted over the social media post.

In the post, Fahim allegedly insulted Muslim leaders in response to a May Islamist bus attack that killed 28 Coptic Christians, according to World Watch Monitor. Samuel shared the social media post.

The post specifically criticized Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi for making a show of opposing Islamic extremism in Libya, but for allegedly doing nothing in Egypt. Fahim accused certain Muslim clerics in Egypt of encouraging attacks against Christians, according to Christian Today (CT).

“This post spread among the Muslim villagers, and all people in the village were talking about this post, saying it was an insult to Islam,” Adel Girgis, a Coptic in the village, told World Watch Monitor (WWM). “They then begin to insult and threaten us while we were walking in the village streets, and hit two Copts.”

Though Fahim posted in May and deleted it shortly thereafter, Muslims in the village of Ezbat El-Sheikh Nageim took notice of the post Sep. 6, as the post was saved when Samuel shared it. Word spread among the Muslim community, inciting anger and resentment toward Christians in the area. Fahim fled the region of Minya with his father to seek sanctuary in Cairo.
Hezbollah has 10,000 fighters in Syria ready to confront Israel, commander says
Hezbollah has more than 10,000 fighters in southern Syria ready to confront Israel, a commander for the Iranian-backed Lebanese terror group has said.

“Hezbollah has over 10,000 fighters deployed in southern Syria. Hezbollah is an army of infantry, rockets, tanks, elite forces,” the Hezbollah official told the Middle East Eye website this week, amid tensions surrounding the shooting down by the Israeli Air Force on Tuesday of an Iranian-built drone launched by the group as it attempted to cross into airspace.

The commander said the fighters were based in areas surrounding the Golan Heights and that tunnels and military bases were being built for a possible confrontation with Israel

“We are operating as we do in south Lebanon, but of course in a veiled manner,” he said.

Speaking of the truce in southern Syria, under the auspices of Russia and the United Nations, the commander said that the “de-escalation plan is better for us. We are working with more freedom, there are no more bombings.”
Pan-Arab Newspaper Reports Hizbullah Chief Bolsters his Ranks with Shiite Fighters from Iraq
Hizbullah chief Sheikh Hasan Nasrallah has worked closely with Syrian-based Iranian forces to work out a deal that has so far brought more than 1,000 Iraqi Shiite fighters to bolster Hizbullah’s ranks in Lebanon. In an editorial, the London-based pan-Arab newspaper Al-Sharq al-Awsat was critical of the Tehran-backed terrorist group for “placing its own interests above those of the Lebanese people.” The article charged that the Iraqis have been resettled in Hizbullah installations in the southern part of the country, apparently in areas where United Nations Security Council Resolution 1701 prohibits Hizbullah’s presence. Since US President Donald Trump took office, the long ignored issue of Lebanon’s flouting of Resolution 1701, which ended the 2006 war between Israel and Hizbullah, and which prohibits armed forces other than the Lebanese army and bans Hizbullah military actions in southern Lebanon, has been – in-part – on the table. American UN envoy Nikki Haley has led the diplomatic fight to curb the abuses, but has been undermined by US policy to support the Lebanese army which is increasingly subservient to the Hizbullah terrorist forces.

In Friday’s edition of the French daily Le Figaro, Lebanese President Michel Aoun praised Hizbullah, at the same time confessing to his nation’s breach of the UNSC resolution. He said, “Hezbollah are not using their weapons in internal politics. They only ensure our resistance against the State of Israel, which continues to occupy part of our territory and which refuses to apply UN resolutions regarding the Palestinians’ right to return.” It was not the first time Aoun defended the arming of Hizbullah and was not taken to task by the international community. In February, Aoun told the CBC that, “as long as the army is not powerful enough to fight Israel, we feel the need to maintain the weapons of the resistance [Hizbullah] to complement the army.” For the US it’s particularly problematic since Washington provides military aid that few doubt wind up in Hizbullah’s hands. It’s also a legal quagmire since US law prohibits giving aid to entities such as Hizbullah that are found on the State Department’s list of terrorist organizations.
Lebanese president: Hezbollah ensures Lebanon's 'resistance against Israel'
Lebanese President Michel Aoun has dismissed claims that Hezbollah should be disarmed as long as Israel “fails to respect” UN resolutions and international law.

The terrorist organization ensures Lebanon’s “resistance against the State of Israel,” he said in an interview published Friday by French daily Le Figaro, in which he defended his close relations with Hezbollah, which played a major role in his election as president in 2016.

After securing the backing of Hezbollah, 82-year-old Aoun filled a power vacuum left by a deadlock that paralyzed Lebanese politics for two-and-a-half-years, following the departure of former president Michel Suleiman.

“This wasn’t an alliance [with Hezbollah] but rather an agreement,” said Aoun. “Thanks to the agreement, we have been able to avoid civil war in Lebanon. I sincerely believe that I have saved the Lebanese state.

“[As a result], Hezbollah has altered its political stance and has respected Lebanese sovereignty,” Aoun told Le Figaro. “Nasrallah has said as much in an address: Hezbollah has renounced its project to install an ‘Islamic Republic’ in Lebanon.”

Lebanon’s 16-year civil war was finally brought to an end in 1990 with the Taif Agreement, requiring the “disbanding of all Lebanese and non-Lebanese militias.” Hezbollah, however, was permitted to keep its weaponry with Syrian forces in control of South Lebanon.

Aoun dismissed the claim that Hezbollah should follow a process of disarmament like all other Lebanese militias.
The Making of Monsters
When a little boy who looked and sounded American appeared in propaganda video put out by the failing Islamic State this week, threatening “Trump: puppet of the Jews,” it caused a sensation as, of course, it was meant to do.

“How can a group make a child into a monster?” we ask. Yet the answer comes to us in the voices of numerous ISIS defectors and prisoners who tell us precisely how ISIS takes the blank-slate minds of children and fills them with poisonous ideologies alongside dreams of Paradise.

Children are powerful tools in the hands of groups like the so-called Islamic State, as we’ve learned after interviewing 63 ISIS returnees, defectors, and prisoners.

Trained at “Cubs of the Caliphate” camps in both Iraq and Syria, children are indoctrinated to hate—and to kill all others who do not adhere to ISIS’s strict, brutal and intolerant views of Islam. They are also taught to give their own lives in acts of “martyrdom.”

“I saw them train young kids to blow things up. From my camp, 15-year-and-younger kids went on bombing missions. They tell us they are going to go to Paradise,” 15-year-old Syrian Ibn Omar told researchers for the International Center for the Study of Violent Extremism.

Ibn Omar ran off to join ISIS at age 13 after having his head filled with dreams from the preachers who took over his mosque when ISIS overran his region. Impoverished and young enough to be drawn in, Ibn Omar was motivated by the income he could bring home to his unsuspecting parents, and the promises of cars and other material rewards.
ISIS And The Fake Passport Industry
In 2016, ABC News reported that ISIS has developed an entire business dedicated to production of fake passports. The terror group has strongholds in countries such as Syria, Libya and Iraq which allows them to acquire thousands of blank passports. United States intelligence believes that that ISIS has obtained a passport printing machine and has access to biographical data and fingerprints of Syrians. It is suspected that ISIS has been printing fake passports for approximately two years, and it is likely that these have been used to gain entry into the U.S undetected.

This production of forged passports is clearly cause for much concern in the intelligence community as it poses an extreme security threat for both the United States and Europe.

European authorities have reported that fake passports have been used to enter several countries. This includes passports discovered on suicide bombers responsible for the Paris terrorist which occurred in November 2015. Furthermore, ABC also reported that fraud documents are extremely widespread and relatively cheap throughout Syria. Additionally, due to the prevalence, most Syrians do not even consider it illegal.

Newsweek recently reported that ISIS has approximately 11,000 blank passports readily available for terrorists to obtain. European intelligence compiled a list of suspected serial numbers of fake passports. However, there is still much concern that jihadists will covertly enter Europe.
Iran’s Designs on Syria Are Doomed to Fail
At a recent soccer match in Tehran between the two countries’ teams, Syrian and Iranian fans began shouting invectives at each other, highlighting the fact that, despite their governments’ close alliance, the two peoples share little mutual affection. Amir Taheri notes the feebleness of the Iranian regime’s efforts to explain to its populace why it is involved in Syria:

The initial [explanation] provided by the Khomeinist authorities was that Iran is fighting in Syria to prevent the fall of President Bashar al-Assad’s regime, which had been an ally during the war with Saddam Hussein’s Iraq in the 1980s and is now a member of the “Resistance Front” led by Iran.

That . . . . failed to convince many people, even within the regime’s base. Then another reason was cited: Iran was fighting in Syria to prevent the destruction of Shiite holy shrines. Official media published lists of such shrines, sometimes with photographs.

But that, too, was challenged by “troublemakers” who picked holes in the regime’s shaky claims. More than 90 percent of Syrian “Shiite holy sites” turned out to be burial places of ancient Jewish prophets or Sunni Muslim theologians and scholars. . . .

[Furthermore], a closer look at Syrian realities shows that the Russo-Irano-Turkish scheme [to divide the country into spheres of influence] is doomed to fail. From what I know of Syria, a country I have observed and visited since 1970, despite almost seven years of tragedy, the sense of “Syrian-ness” is still strong enough to frustrate putative imperial appetites. . . .
Israel says Iranian ballistic missile test was fake, but threat is real
Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman on Saturday said that it was “not just a provocation and an act of defiance” directed at the US and its allies, including Israel.

“It’s also further proof of Iran’s aspirations to become a world power and to threaten not just the Middle East but all the countries of the free world. Imagine what would happen if Iran were to acquire nuclear weapons. That’s what it aspires to do, and we cannot allow it to happen,” he said.

Foreign Ministry director-general Yuval Rotem also released a statement saying that Tehran was “directly challenging the international community,” with the test and that “a robust response is imperative.”

Iran is said to have conducted over 20 missile tests since 2015 claiming that they are legitimate and defensive in nature.

While Iran’s ballistic missile test did not happen, Tehran, which possesses over 1,000 short- and medium-range ballistic missiles, is continuing to improve its missile arsenal.

With such a significant number of missiles, Iran has the ability to proliferate weapons to countries and non-state actors such as Hezbollah on Israel’s northern border and Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
Dore Gold: Inspections and Monitoring: The Weak Link in the Iran Nuclear Deal
One of the most important standards set by the U.S. Congress for the Iran agreement concerns covert Iranian activities in the nuclear field. The Iran agreement gives the International Atomic Energy Agency access to certain declared facilities. But the agreement doesn't adequately address the question of undeclared sites.

It's as though the negotiators forgot some famous names: Natanz - the main enrichment site of Iran; Arak - where the Iranians have their heavy-water facility which will allow them the pathway to a plutonium bomb; and the famous underground site at Fordo near Qom where the Iranians have another enrichment facility for their uranium.
These sites were all secret, undeclared sites. If the Iranians are going to break through to a nuclear bomb, they're going to do it in those kind of secret sites that eventually the West discovered over the last 20 years, and not through some declared facility.

Dr. Olli Heinonen, a former deputy director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, wrote in September in an FDD policy brief that he has information from an IAEA staff member that the agency has not conducted a single visit to suspected military sites in Iran. They're off the table. In fact, the whole arrangement for inspections and monitoring is the weak link in the Iranian nuclear deal.


Iranians rail against Israel at funeral for soldier beheaded by IS
Thousands of Iranians called for Israel’s destruction at a funeral Wednesday for a young member of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps beheaded by the Islamic State jihadist group in Syria, a killing that has struck a nerve within the Islamic Republic as its forces continue to suffer casualties in Iraq and Syria.

The slaying of 25-year-old Mohsen Hojaji captured the imagination of many in Iran, a Shiite-ruled nation whose national religion holds sacred acts of mourning and the acknowledgement of sacrifices. Since his death, artists and others have memorialized Hojaji in videos and paintings, while discussion of his slaying has muted domestic criticism of Iran’s foreign military operations, especially in Syria.

A cleric at the funeral alleged that Israel and the US were behind IS, drawing cries of “Death to Israel” and “Down with the US” from the audience.

“We swear on blood of Hojaji we will not rest until destroying Israel,” cleric Ali Reza Pahanhian said from the podium. “Israel, we swear on the head of Hojaji that we will behead your leaders. Guards! Prepare your missiles for annihilation of Israel.”
Saudi Dynasty Collapses After Women Permitted to Drive (satire)
King Salman’s revocation of the controversial driving ban for women has backfired with the swiftest revolution in the Middle East to date.

Just hours after the driving ban was lifted, women converged on major locations across Riyadh. Fatima Al-Fatima, the leader of the revolt, spoke from the royal palace: “We have been practicing on our husband’s dune buggies and golf carts. The plans have been in place for years. The process of establishing a matriarchal utopia in Saudi Arabia is already well underway, and we will not stop until we have our new Arab Queendom.”

It is still too early to gauge a full reaction, but one ultra-conservative prince, whose assets were seized and genitals clipped in response to his misogynistic tirades, was conflicted: “Just as I feared, letting women drive has resulted in a mass movement! But I did tell the reformists this, and the “I told you so” moment was pretty sweet.”

In her press conference, Al-Fatima addressed the stereotype of “bad” women drivers: “We may be bad drivers, I admit it, but let’s see how good men are at driving when we force them to get around by bicycle for the rest of their lives!” She also got creative with her vendetta against last year’s infamous Starbucks ban: “We remember these injustices. We wanted a pumpkin-spiced latte, but we ended with a shitty Americano from some second-rate coffee chain. Therefore, we have sentenced all men to drinking Dunkin’ Donut Coffee for the foreseeable future.”




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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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