Saturday, December 23, 2017

From Ian:

After investigation, Denmark to cut funding from some Palestinian NGOs
Denmark is to revoke funding from several Palestinian non-governmental organizations and tighten aid criteria for others after they were tied to anti-Israel activities.

Israel hailed the move as a victory and urged other European governments to follow suit.

The Danish Foreign Ministry made the announcement Friday, saying it would implement a more stringent vetting process for the transfer of funds to Palestinian NGOs.

“It is important that there is confidence that Danish assistance is going for the right purposes,” said Danish Foreign Minister Anders Samuelsen.

Samuelsen said that, following an investigation, most of the earmarked funds will be returned to Danish government coffers. He added that many organizations currently receiving Danish support would no longer do so.

“This is a welcome, moral, and crucially-important decision. Palestinian NGOs that have ties to internationally-designated terrorist organizations and that promote boycotts against Israel should not receive European governmental funding,” said Israel’s Minister of Strategic Affairs Gilad Erdan.

“I call on all other European governments to exercise the same moral responsibility and take similar steps,” he said.
(h/t Elder of Lobby)
Khaled Abu Toameh: Palestinians: Another "Reconciliation" Bites the Dust
The idea that Hamas would disarm and stop digging tunnels and hand the Gaza Strip on a silver platter to Abbas and Fatah is pure fantasy.

From the outset, it was clear that Hamas had no intention of relinquishing its security control over the Gaza Strip and that it plans to continue holding hostage the two million Palestinians of the Gaza Strip. How do we know that? The answer is simple: That is what Hamas leaders themselves have been stating in public almost every day for the past few weeks since the "reconciliation" agreement was announced in Cairo.

The Hamas-Fatah "reconciliation" accord failed because Hamas will continue to prepare itself to pursue the fight against Israel. It wants to continue digging tunnels along the border with Israel so that it can use them one day to kill or kidnap Israelis. Hamas wants to continue building tunnels along the border with Egypt so that it can use them to smuggle weapons and terrorists into and out of the Gaza Strip.

Hamas wants to hold on to the thousands of militiamen it employs and continues to recruit in the Gaza Strip because it will never allow anyone else to rule the Gaza Strip. Hamas denies that it had agreed to disarm or dismantle its security forces when it reached its agreement with Fatah.

The "reconciliation" deal, however, not only failed because of the controversy over the security control of the Gaza Strip.

The other reason the deal never materialized is because Hamas simply cannot accept a situation in which it is being asked to accept the so-called two-state solution. Hamas is worried that its partnership with Abbas and Fatah might be interpreted as a sign that Hamas recognizes the Oslo Accords and has abandoned its genocidal ideology, which calls for the destruction of Israel. As made clear by the Hamas leaders, their goal remains to seek the "liberation of all of Palestine, from the [Mediterranean] sea to the [Jordan] river." This is Hamas's mantra.

The United Nations Long Ago Lost Its Moral Authority To Tut-Tut At Trump Over Jerusalem
On December 21, the 193-member UN General Assembly held an emergency special session at the request of Arab and Muslim states. The session was aimed at rebuking President Trump’s recent announcement to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Not surprisingly, the special session passed a non-binding resolution approved by 128 states, declaring Trump’s announcement is “null and void and must be rescinded.” But this resolution only serves as the latest example that the UN lacks moral authority to resolve the thorniest world affairs.

The UN’s Anti-Isrel Bias Is Appalling
While the UN charter claims it is an “organization is based on the principle of the sovereign equality of all its Members, “ Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East, is often subjected to the UN’s anti-Israel bias. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon justified Palestinian terror against Israeli civilians by saying, “it is human nature to react to occupation.”

The UN’s Human Rights Council, packed with human rights abusers such as Pakistan, Kazakhstan, and Venezuela, permanently singles out Israel under a special agenda item and condemns Israel at every one of its meetings. The UN Commission on the Status of Women condemned Israel as the only country in the world violating Palestinian women’s rights, while ignoring the violations committed by Hamas and the Palestinian Authority, and many abuses women suffer in countries such as Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan.

The UN’s World Health Organization (WHO) singled out Israel as the only violator of “mental, physical and environmental health,” while ignoring the atrocities taking place at the time in Syria and Yemen. Interestingly, the same WHO appointed Zimbabwe’s 93-year-old authoritarian leader, Robert Mugabe, one of the worst human rights abusers in the world, as WHO’s goodwill ambassador in 2017. It had to recant its offer after worldwide outrage.

The UN has done little in the last six decades to come up with any reasonable solution to the Israel- Palestine conflict. By singling out Israel constantly and repeatedly as the target for its condemnation, the UN has already lost moral authority to be the right venue to solve this conflict.
Elliott Abrams: Honor and Dishonor at the United Nations
But then we get to the meat, where the General Assembly resolution continues:

“Expressing in this regard its deep regret at recent decisions concerning the status of Jerusalem,

“Affirms that any decisions and actions which purport to have altered, the character, status or demographic composition of the Holy City of Jerusalem have no legal effect, are null and void and must be rescinded….”

Israel made no “recent decision;” only the United States did. And now we are told it “must be rescinded,” to which one can only reply with the famous words Daniel Patrick Moynihan spoke in 1975 after the “Zionism is Racism” resolution passed: the United States “does not acknowledge, it will not abide by, it will never acquiesce in this infamous act.”

Some will argue that it is unfair to compare these two resolutions. I think not. Both continue the General Assembly’s record of infamous maltreatment of Israel. No other country has ever been singled out for abuse in such a manner, and now the United States is abused for the crime of acknowledging the obvious: that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital. Only one nation on earth is not permitted to choose its capital, and the refusal to allow Israel that right is part and parcel of the delegitimization campaign against Israel of which this resolution is itself a part.

Now what? The United States has said there will be a price to pay for insulting us in this way. Withholding aid is unlikely to be the way forward. There are too many cases where humanitarian aid is needed and there is no reason to punish desperately poor people because of a vote their rulers made. In other cases American security interests are too important. But there are ways to make our displeasure known, such as canceling or delaying the visit of a top-level American official, or the visit to the United States by a foreign official. Downgrading ties quite informally is also possible: some foreign minister comes, and finds that unaccountably the President, National Security Advisor, and Secretary of State are unavailable, and that the mid-level officials who are available have just a few minutes rather than the time requested. Requests that are too important to deny can be slowed down. A creative diplomat will find plenty of ways to show that we remember and resent this gratuitous insult to our country.



America has sometimes stood proudest at the UN when it has stood alone
Outvoted on a resolution on Israel, on the wrong side of international opinion, the United States ambassador responded with an intemperate address to the UN General Assembly.

America’s diplomat told the countries assembled:

‘The United States rises to declare before the General Assembly of the United Nations, and before the world, that it does not acknowledge, it will not abide by, it will never acquiesce in this infamous act… A great evil has been loosed upon the world. The abomination of anti-Semitism… has been given the appearance of international sanction. The General Assembly today grants symbolic amnesty — and more — to the murderers of the six million European Jews. Evil enough in itself, but more ominous by far is the realisation that now presses upon us — the realisation that if there were no General Assembly, this could never have happened.’

It was a speech of uncommon belligerence. The United States was putting the world’s deliberative body on notice that it intended to disregard its deliberations. America’s representative was accusing the United Nations not only of anti-Semitism but of giving quarter to the architects of the Nazi Holocaust. The United States had isolated itself further and undermined relations with dozens of countries.

None of this happened yesterday. The angry words were spoken by Daniel Patrick Moynihan in 1975 after the United Nations passed Resolution 3379 and declared Zionism to be ‘a form of racism’. Four decades later Nikki Haley, a follower in Moynihan’s footsteps, stepped out of his shadow and issued the UN a rebuke just as fierce. She could not match Moynihan for oratorical poise but her words were clear and forceful. The United Nations had voted to condemn America for acknowledging Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and committing to relocating the US embassy there.
The Death Rattle of Obama’s Reputation
The members of Barack Obama’s administration in exile have become conspicuously noisy of late—even more so than usual. Former CIA Director John Brennan accused Donald Trump and his administration of engaging in “outrageous,” “narcissistic” behavior typical of “vengeful autocrats” by threatening proportionate retaliation against countries that voted to condemn the United States in the United Nations, as though that were unprecedented. It is not. James Clapper, Obama’s director of national intelligence, all but alleged that the president is a Russian “asset.” Perhaps the most acerbic and incendiary series of accusations from the former Democratic president’s foreign-policy professionals were placed in the New York Times by Obama’s national security advisor, Susan Rice. In her estimation, America has abdicated its role as a “force for good.”

It’s no coincidence that these overheated condemnations accompany abundant evidence that the Trump administration is finding its legs. As the last administration’s undeserved reputation as sober-minded foreign policy rationalists is dismantled one retrospective report at a time, its jilted members are lashing out.

Rice’s attacks on the Republican administration deserve the most attention, if only because they are the most apoplectic. Donald Trump’s recently released national-security review paints a “dark,” “almost dystopian” vision of the world, Rice contended. His world is full of “hostile states and lurking threats.” Rice claimed that there is “no common good” in Trump’s worldview. What’s more, there is no “international community” and no “universal values.” There are just “American values.”

Rice takes a theatrically dim view of what is essentially a restatement of the bedrock principle of almost all international-relations theory: The international environment is anarchic. There is no “international community,” because there is no enforceable “international law.” To the extent that such a thing exists, it is dependent upon the willingness of nation states to subordinate their sovereignty to international institutions. There’s no mechanism to make them do this, save for the threat of force. The recognition that nation states exist in a state of perpetual competition is not some grim surrender to the darkest of human impulses. It is reality, the acknowledgment of which only conveys to other nations firm parameters in which they can operate without accidentally triggering a conflict with another sovereign power.


PodCast with Omri Ceren (Starts at 17min): You Call This A Life? The Worst Christmas Movie Ever Is…
No, “Die Hard” Is NOT A Christmas movie, no matter how many trolls at the Weekly Standard and elsewhere take to Twitter to make the (bogus) case.

Foreign policy wonk Omri Ceren and I celebrate Trump’s strategy on the UN and Jerusalem, including Nikki Haley’s wonderful speech at the United Nations described as “bullying” by gutless Euroweenies.

The Democrats deliver yet another Christmas gift to the GOP, and her name is “Hillary Clinton.”

And the darkest, most depressing, most discomfiting Christmas movie is…
Mort Klein: UN Had No Legal Right to Vote on Resolution Condemning Trump Recognizing Israel’s Capital
The United Nations General Assembly resolution criticizing President Donald Trump’s sovereign right to recognize Israel’s capital, violates at least three articles of the United Nations Charter, and is not within the power of the UN General Assembly to address, for the following reasons:

(1) UN Charter Article 2 (7) prohibits the United Nations from dealing with matters within the sovereign domestic jurisdiction of the United States. Article 2(7) states: “Nothing contained in the present Charter shall authorize the United Nations to intervene in matters which are essentially within the domestic jurisdiction of any state.”

President Trump’s recognition power – his decision to recognize Israel’s capital Jerusalem – is a matter within the domestic jurisdiction of the United States. The U.S. Supreme Court confirmed this in Zivotofsky v. Kerry, 576 U.S. __, 135 U.S. 2076 (2015), saying: “The text and structure of the Constitution grant the President the power to recognize foreign nations and governments.” Thus, the United Nations is prohibited from criticizing the United States’ sovereign right to confer recognition.

(2) If, despite the foregoing and item (3) below, the United Nations nonetheless is authorized to deal with this matter, UN Charter Article 12 prohibits the UN General Assembly from dealing with it, because according to UN Security Council Resolution 2334 (2016), the matter is still before the UN Security Council, which has not requested that the UN General Assembly take action or make recommendations.

UN Charter Article 12 states: “While the Security Council is exercising in respect of any dispute or situation the functions assigned to it in the present Charter, the General Assembly shall not make any recommendation with regard to that dispute or situation unless the Security Council so requests.”
‘Morning Joe’ Castigates Haley for Warning U.N. Over Jerusalem Resolution: We’re the ‘Bad Guys,’ She ‘Embarrassed’ the U.S.
The panel on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" on Friday lashed out at U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley for her speech before the U.N. General Assembly the prior day in which she criticized countries that supported a resolution condemning President Donald Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

Haley castigated the U.N. on Thursday after the international body backed a non-binding resolution to reject the U.S. decision on Jerusalem.

"The United States will remember this day in which it was singled out for attack in this assembly," she said, threatening to cut off funding to the U.N. "We will remember it when we are called upon to once again make the world's largest contribution" to the U.N. and when other member nations ask Washington "to pay even more and to use our influence for their benefit."

The "Morning Joe" panel took issue with Haley's remarks.

"Hey, Joe, when did we become the bad guys?" frequent MSNBC guest Donny Deutsch asked co-host Joe Scarborough. "Listening to that speech yesterday … that's the bad guys talking."

"You sit and listen to Nikki Haley, and as a representative of the United States of America, and it's breathtaking that she would actually threaten to cut off aid," Scarborough responded.

Haley also told U.N. member states on Thursday that the U.S. has "an obligation to acknowledge when our political and financial capital is being poorly spent."

Scarborough referred to Haley's actions as a "mob boss" move multiple times.
COGAT calls on Red Cross to release findings on death of disabled Gaza activist
Following reports that Ibrahim Abu Thuraya, a disabled Gazan activist, was killed by the IDF during clashes, Maj. Gen Yoav Mordechai, the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, took to Facebook to dispel the allegations.

Maj. Gen. Mordechai, in a post on COGAT's Arabic Facebook page, called on the Red Cross to release their own findings surrounding Thuraya's death, in the hopes that they would indicate that the IDF was not responsible.

He denied reports on Palestinian social media that claimed that Abu Thuraya died from live ammunition, saying that there was "no basis" for the rumors that soldiers "deliberately" killed him.

"Let us put an end to the rumor mill, the exaggerations and the series of lies than inflame discourse and incite more violence. There are too many questions and ambiguities surrounding Abu Thuraya's death," he said, calling specifically on Jacques de Maio, the head of the ICRC in Israel and the Territories.
Hamas leader claims US may recognize Israel as a Jewish State
The Trump administration may follow up its recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital by recognizing Israel as a Jewish State, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh claimed Saturday, and called on the Palestinian Authority to reconsider its ties with Israel. He also claimed the US could soon approve the annexation of settlements and reject the Palestinian demand for a “right of return.”

In fact, the US has always recognized Israel as the Jewish state. There has been no indication that the US plans to issue a fresh proclamation to this effect.

Speaking at a meeting in Gaza City, Haniyeh said the terror group had obtained information that such recognition could be the next step from Washington, but provided no details on where the information came from.

“We have information that the US administration may recognize Israel as a Jewish state, [let Israel] annex settlements, and abolish the Palestinian right to return,” said Haniyeh, whose Islamist terror group seeks to destroy Israel. (The Palestinian demand for a “right of return” of millions of refugees and their descendants to Israel has been rejected by all Israeli governments, since such an influx would destroy Israel’s Jewish majority. Israel’s position has generally been that the fate of the refugees is to be negotiated in final status talks on Palestinian statehood, and that a Palestinian state would absorb Palestinian refugees, as the state of Israel absorbed Jewish refugees.)

The UN’s 1947 partition plan specifically referred to a Jewish state and an Arab state.
Israel arrests 3 Turks after ‘incident’ near Temple Mount
Israel Police arrested three Turkish tourists near a holy site in Jerusalem after an “incident” following Muslim prayers, a police spokesman told AFP on Saturday.

The Turks had been “involved in an incident in Jerusalem’s Old City after Friday prayers on the Temple Mount,” said Micky Rosenfeld. They had been praying at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound on the holy site that also houses the Dome of the Rock.

The spokesman did not provide any additional details. The three are likely to face an Israeli court later on Saturday, Rosenfeld said.

A video circulating on social media shows a number of men wearing red shirts with the Turkish flag, scuffling with police forces in the Old City.

Turkey’s state-run news agency Anadolu said two of the three men, who hold dual Turkish and Belgium citizenship, were arrested for “assaulting Israeli police and resisting police.”
Israel to formally announce withdrawal from UNESCO
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu instructed Israel's ambassador to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) on Friday to submit a formal letter to the organization's director-general announcing Israel's departure from the UN body.

"The letter will be submitted by Ambassador Carmel Sharma-Hacohen in the coming days, certainly before the end of the year," said Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Emmanuel Nahshon.

The UNESCO constitution holds that a country's withdrawal from the organization takes effect on 31 December of the year following that during which the notice was given. Accordingly, Israel's departure will become effective on 31 December 2018.

Israel signaled its intention to leave the body in October, hours after the US announced its withdrawal. Netanyahu praised the American declaration, calling it "a brave and moral decision, because UNESCO has become the theater of the absurd and because instead of preserving history, it distorts it."

The US listed "concerns with mounting arrears at UNESCO, the need for fundamental reform in the organization, and continuing anti-Israel bias at UNESCO," as reasons for its departure.
Sessions orders review of DEA Hezbollah investigation following Obama exposé
US Attorney General Jeff Sessions has ordered a review of a Drug Enforcement Agency investigation into the Iranian-backed Hezbollah terror group. The move follows a report from Politico that the Obama administration worked to hinder the DEA initiative in order to prevent it from undermining the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.

In a statement Friday to Fox News, the Justice Department said the review of Project Cassandra was necessary “to evaluate allegations that certain matters were not properly prosecuted and to ensure all matters are appropriately handled.”

“While I am hopeful that there were no barriers constructed by the last administration to allowing DEA agents to fully bring all appropriate cases under Project Cassandra, this is a significant issue for the protection of Americans,” the report quoted Sessions as saying. “We will review these matters and give full support to investigations of violent drug trafficking organizations.”

According to Sunday’s Politico report, the DEA launched Project Cassandra in 2008 in order to monitor Hezbollah’s weapons and drug trafficking practices, which included funneling cocaine into the United States.

However, when investigators sought approval for prosecution from the US Department of Justice and US Department of Treasury, those two agencies were unresponsive, the report said.

“This was a policy decision, it was a systematic decision,” said David Asher, an analyst for the US Department of Defense specializing in illicit finance who helped set up and run Project Cassandra. “They serially ripped apart this entire effort that was very well supported and resourced, and it was done from the top down.”
Clifford D. May: Reimagining a more realistic peace process
Security Council resolutions are just about impossible to repeal. But Trump has done the next best thing. And, by implication, he has reimagined the peace process. To be realistic, it must start – not end – with Palestinians agreeing that Israel has a right to exist; that the Jews won't be driven from Jerusalem again; that Israel won't be erased from the map.

The U.S., as Trump has made clear, could then support and assist the birth of a Palestinian state, and that state could even have its capital in or adjacent to east Jerusalem.

Were the goal of Palestinian leaders to have a state of their own and live in peace, they'd leap at this opportunity and begin negotiating hard for the best deal they can get. Hamas won't be tempted. Neither, I predict, will Abbas, though I'd love to be proven wrong.

Sooner or later, there will be other Palestinian leaders. Perhaps they will recognize the reality that only Israel can keep at bay the forces now drowning so much of the region in blood. Perhaps they will acknowledge that diversity and pluralism are beneficial – even in the Middle East. Perhaps they will see that the Arab and Sunni states need Israel if they are to defend themselves against the growing threat posed by an expansionist and jihadist Iranian regime.

But until and unless Palestinians are led to the conclusion that the extermination of Israel is an impossible dream, they will not be willing to settle for less – no matter how ardently we push what we call a "peace process." That's just the reality.
Needed: A Post-Peace-Process Generation of Palestinian Leaders
As for the peace process: No, the peace process has not broken down. There simple is no peace process, and has not been for years. Sporadic factitious negotiations are not a peace process.

Arguably, over the past few decades the worst enemy of the Palestinian people has been their own leaders. The peace process and the Palestinian cause were always a dead end so long as there was no unified leadership and one of the governing groups -- Hamas in Gaza -- maintained its vow to destroy Israel. Add to that the Middle East’s upheaval since the so-called Arab Spring in 2011, plus the arrival of Islamic State, and the persistence of al Qaeda as well as other Salafi-jihadist groups. In that context it was always unrealistic to expect Israel to agree to a Palestinian state.

That the Palestinian street’s reaction to Trump’s Jerusalem declaration was minor is a sign that times have changed.

The Palestinians need a post-peace-process generation of leaders, people ready to accept geopolitical and historical reality in order to turn their outlook from hopeless to hopeful. The post-Yasir Arafat leadership that has been in place for two decades is finally passing from the scene. Abbas and his cohort have little legitimacy and have no time left to help Palestinians rather than fight their own losing battle with history and vanity. They failed abysmally to organize themselves to deal with military and political defeat in the least damaging way.

The life chances of three generations of Palestinian young people have been compromised -- and for what?
Economist: The Palestinian Cause Has Lost Its Resonance
National elections are eight years overdue. Many Palestinians have thus lost faith in politics. The only democratic exercise in recent years, a local election in May, had a turnout of 53%, down from 70% a decade earlier. The median age in the territories is 19, but the youngest plausible candidate to replace Mr Abbas is well over 60. With peace a dim prospect, many Palestinians are also losing interest in a two-state solution. A survey in August found that 52% of them still favour such a compromise. But support fell to 43% when the pollsters explained what a two-state solution might look like. There is also sharp disagreement over the alternatives, with roughly equal support for a binational state, an apartheid state, expelling the Jews and “other”.

Far from being the man to deliver a deal, Mr Abbas has become one of its biggest obstacles. He has little legitimacy to negotiate on behalf of his people, two-thirds of whom want him to resign. Increasingly authoritarian, he seems more concerned with domestic squabbles than the Israeli occupation. “His major goal is just staying alive in politics,” says Salah Bardawil, a member of Hamas. But Hamas has done no better.

It is telling that the one burst of successful Palestinian activism in 2017 came in East Jerusalem—where neither Fatah nor Hamas has much influence. When Israel installed new metal-detectors at the Al-Aqsa mosque in July, Palestinians staged protests and Israel backed down.

But some Palestinians living in the city are conceding the bigger fight. From 2014 to 2016 over 4,000 of them applied for Israeli citizenship, a threefold increase from a decade earlier. “The occupation isn’t going to end. Israel isn’t going away,” said a protester in July. “We don’t help ourselves if we pretend it will.”
Egypt's Paper-Peace with Israel
The 40th anniversary of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat's historic visit to the Knesset took place on November 21. There, Sadat had announced:

"I have come to you so that together we might build a durable peace based on justice, to avoid the shedding of one single drop of blood from an Arab or an Israeli."

To commemorate the occasion, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivered an address, saying:

"The greatest obstacle to the expansion of peace today is not found in the leaders of the countries around us. The obstacle is public opinion on the Arab street, public opinion that has been brainwashed for years by a distorted and misleading presentation of the State of Israel."

Netanyahu had a point. Today, four decades later -- in spite of the lasting peace treaty between Cairo and Jerusalem -- much of the media in Egypt continues to demonize Israel. Even under President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, with whom Netanyahu has been developing mutually beneficial security relations, prominent figures in the state-run press disseminate anti-Israel conspiracy theories.

MP Mustafa Bakri, for instance, editor-in-chief of the newspaper Al-Osboa and the host of the "Facts and Secrets" talk show on Sada El Balad TV. told the Egyptian daily Al Youm 7, as recently as November 20th, that Egypt must force the "Israeli enemy," the "Zionist entity," to return antiquities that it had supposedly smuggled out of Egypt into Israel.
FBI: Ex-Marine planned Christmas Day attack on San Francisco tourist area
The FBI said Friday that it found a martyrdom letter and several guns in the home of a former Marine who may have been planning a Christmas Day attack on a popular San Francisco tourist destination.

Everitt Aaron Jameson, 26, a Modesto tow-truck driver, was charged Friday with attempting to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization. It was not clear if he had an attorney.

Jameson told an undercover agent he believed to be associated with senior leadership of the Islamic State jihadist group that he wanted to conduct a violent attack on Pier 39 in San Francisco because it was heavily crowded, according to an FBI affidavit.

He told the undercover agent that Christmas Day would be “the perfect day to commit the attack” and that he “did not need an escape plan because he was ready to die,” according to the affidavit.
UN slaps new sanctions on North Korea for latest missile test
With China’s backing, the UN Security Council on Friday slapped new sanctions on North Korea that will restrict oil supplies vital for Pyongyang’s missile and nuclear programs.

The council unanimously adopted a US-drafted resolution that also orders the repatriation of North Korean workers sent abroad to earn revenue for Kim Jong-Un’s regime.

It is the third raft of sanctions imposed on Pyongyang this year and comes as the United States and North Korea show no signs they are willing to open talks on ending the crisis on the Korean peninsula.

US President Donald Trump Friday hailed the move, saying the international community was pushing for peace with the isolated regime.

“The United Nations Security Council just voted 15-0 in favor of additional Sanctions on North Korea. The World wants Peace, not Death!” Trump tweeted.
NGO Monitor: Military Court Watch: Inventing Legal Standards to Attack the IDF
Military Court Watch is an opaque organization that claims to work on issues related to ensuring children are protected under international law. In reality, MCW’s activities are part of a broader non-governmental organization (NGO) propaganda campaign that exploits concerns over children’s rights to demonize Israel. The NGO was founded and is led by Gerard Horton, who was previously involved with the Palestinian NGO Defense for Children International – Palestine, which promotes a similar agenda.

As detailed in the following report, Military Court Watch’s (MCW) October 2017 “Briefing Note” and November 2017 Update suffer from multiple methodological and legal flaws. For example,

From a methodological perspective:
  • MCW repeats the testimonies of the Palestinian minors without verification, with claims that lack factual basis. For example, according to MCW, 60% of Palestinian minors are arrested at night. In contrast, IDF statistics show that on average, from 2013 to 2015, 21% of Palestinian minors were arrested at night.
  • Presents meaningless statistics that lack context. MCW states that 331 Palestinian minors were held in Israeli detention at the end of May 2017. Without providing any comparative data, the reader is incapable of determining whether 331 is a large or small number; whether the Palestinian minors were arrested for terror or other serious crimes, or why 0.000331% of Palestinian minors in the West Bank should be considered excessive.
  • Compares bail statistics between the Israeli domestic system and the military system without noting that the Israeli domestic system deals with a spectrum of juvenile offenses, whereas the military system predominantly deals with violent crimes.
Middle East Studies Association Panel Reserves Outrage Only for Israel
Israel Studies are rarely centerstage at annual conferences of the Middle East Studies Association (MESA); but when they are, one can be certain that they’ll be the subject of criticism.

Consequently, my expectations were low when, in late November, I joined approximately 70 attendees in an awkwardly arranged conference room at the Washington Marriot Wardman Park Hotel for the panel “Navigating Jewish Campus and Community Debates on Israel/Palestine in the Age of Trump.”

The panel featured Shira Robinson of George Washington University (GWU), Liora Halperin of the University of Washington (UW), Stanford’s Joel Beinin, Joshua Schreier of Vassar, his brother Benjamin Schreier of Penn State, and independent scholar Sarah Anne Minkin.

This session’s intellectual weakness and politicized composition were illustrated by the fact that only two of the six panelists complaining about Israel Studies belong to the professional society of scholars in that field (the Association of Israel Studies), while at least four (and possibly all six), support the antisemitic boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement.

Robinson, a BDS supporter, set the tone for the event in her paper abstract, which complained that supporters of new positions in Israel Studies have been driven by “an explicitly ideological rather than intellectual mission,” and that “existing faculty have responded to the expansion of Israel Studies on North American campuses with suspicion and questions.”
Actress and fitness studio owner Kelechi Okafor claims Reggie Yates’ comments about Jews were “the truth”
Actress and fitness studio owner, Kelechi Okafor, has defended recent comments about Jews made by BBC presenter Reggie Yates in which he claimed it was “great” that the young generation of grime music artists is not “managed by some random fat Jewish guy from north west London, they’re managed by their brethren”. Ms Okafor argued that Mr Yates was wrong to apologise for the comments and to step down as a host of the BBC’s Top of the Pops programme.

In her new 24-minute podcast on iTunes and Soundcloud, Ms Okafor addressed Yates’ comments, remarking that she “had a huge problem with people apologising for things that they meant”, adding that Yates’ apology statement was “well-manicured”. She remarked that Yates’ comments were “not problematic”, that he was speaking “the truth”, and that the whole affair demonstrated “the power of a specific community”. Ms Okafor challenged whether these Jewish music managers really are from North West London, adding “I just want to know where the fallacy is”, and that “stereotypes are based on an element on truth”.

Ms Okafor began describing how black entertainers had been “so short changed by the kind of people Reggie Yates describes”. She comments that “all sorts of ethnicities” can be capable of this but adds “the fact is, these men has dominated the industry for decades” and are “taking most of the profits”. She claimed that black artists “are having to work [their] entire arse off while they’re keeping everything”.

Ms Okafor remarks near the end of the podcast that grime, RnB, and hip-hop music have been “diluted” by these supposed Jewish music managers who “like blackness as long as it’s making them money”.

Ms Okafor appears to take umbrage at how the Holocaust receives public attention each year, but that the legacy of slave trade is seemingly ignored. She described how these historical events are responsible for the “power dynamic” she is discussing.
Fitness First denies swastika gym mat arrangement and WhatsApp messages were antisemitic
Fitness First has denied that messages including a photograph of gym mats arranged in a swastika were motivated by antisemitism. David Amroon, a Jewish member of the sports chain told Campaign Against Antisemitism of his shock upon being sent a picture of his local gym’s training mats arranged into a swastika, together with jokes about Nazis from members via their WhatsApp group.

Mr Amroon, a martial arts instructor who trained in Jiu-Jitsu twice weekly at Fitness First’s branch in Ilford, told Campaign Against Antisemitism that he will not use the gym again.

According to Mr Amroon, it was common knowledge amongst members that he is Jewish. He told us that he had previously had to challenge antisemitic comments from other members at the health club including alleged statements about Jews ruling the world, “Zionists” being responsible for the 9/11 terrorist attacks, all Jews being wealthy, and even being told by an instructor that “Jews killed Jesus”. However, Mr Amroon told us that he did not report these incidents to the club’s management, preferring to deal with them himself, but he felt that he could not stay silent after the latest incident, which occurred after he missed a training session through illness.

Upon receiving the WhatsApp messages, Mr Amroon said that he immediately sent a message of complaint to the group’s instructor, who apologised and said he had spoken with the perpetrators and that they had just been joking, before allegedly advising Mr Amroon to “move on”. Mr Amroon says that he then wrote a letter to the instructor in which he requested a meeting with the individuals involved in the incident to explain that it was not a joke, and the impact it had on him, only to be told that he should have a quiet word with the perpetrators himself. When he did so, he says that he was again informed that he “needed to get over it”.
Man tied to 1944 murder of Jewish teen in Budapest dies at 96
A man who was briefly imprisoned in Australia in 2009 in connection with the 1944 murder of a Jewish teenager in Hungary has died at the age of 96.

Charles Zentai was detained as per the Hungarian government’s request for his extradition to answer questions on the killing in Budapest of 18-year-old Peter Balazs. Zentai was freed after Australia denied a request for his extradition.

Balazs was dragged from a tram because he was not wearing the mandatory yellow Star of David. He was beaten to death in an army barracks and his body was dumped in the Danube River. Balazs was living in Budapest under the protection of the Swiss government.

Zentai’s son Ernie Steiner told the media: “My father was an extremely kind and gentle and loving man. He was falsely accused and we were never allowed to produce evidence of his innocence in Australia.”

In 2009, O’Connor determined that Zentai should be surrendered to the Republic of Hungary to face prosecution for a war crimes offense, but Zentai appealed and won. An Australian judge said the government did not have the power to extradite Zentai because the war crimes charge did not exist in Hungary at the time of Balazs’s murder.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center’s chief Nazi hunter, Efraim Zuroff, said from Jerusalem: “The fact that Karoly [Charles] Zentai died a free man without being tried for his crimes is a testament to the complete failure of the Australian government to hold the Nazi war criminals and collaborators who found a refuge in Australia accountable for their role in the implementation of the Nazis’ Final Solution of European Jewry.
German-Arab students praise Hitler to Jewish classmate
A Berlin school principal condemned the actions of a student who praised Adolf Hitler for having murdered Jews.

Andreas Huth, director of the Ernst Reuter High School, announced on the school’s website that the incident revealed an “anti-Semitic, anti-Jewish and anti-Israel attitude against which we have reacted, and will continue to do so.”

The incident, which comes amid other reports of anti-Semitism in Germany, including by a man outside a Jewish-owned restaurant in Berlin, reportedly occurred during a lunch break on December 13, when teenagers were discussing Israel.

According to the Berliner Zeitung newspaper, a Jewish student, 18, said he did not favor a Palestinian state. Several classmates of Arab background then surrounded him, with witnesses reporting that one girl yelled “Hitler was good! Because he killed the Jews.” The Jewish student told the Juedische Allgemeine weekly that he also heard someone say “You are child killers” and “they should cut off your heads.”

New measures would be taken to ensure that such incidents not be swept under the rug, Huth said, including counseling for victims, investigation of legal options and training for teachers. Huth said his school “would not tolerate any form of discrimination, against anyone. … Our mission statement commits us to promoting a tolerant and respectful” environment.
Some Iraqi Jews Have Unfinished Business in Their Old Country
When thinking of the words “refugee” and “Middle East,” many displaced groups come to mind. But few know that some of the original refugees of the region were a million Middle Eastern and North African Jews, whose history often entails hangings, imprisonment and finding refuge in Israel.

The critically acclaimed documentary “Remember Baghdad,” released this year upon the 100th anniversary of the British-Ottoman battle over that city during World War I, is the untold story of Iraqi Jews — as filmed through their eyes.

Their story is not always one of simply fleeing to arrive in the Jewish state. About half of Iraqi Jews fled to countries outside of Israel, and still yearn for what once was. Many of them long to return to Iraq and have even applied for citizenship, voted in elections or purchased a home in Baghdad.

“I feel that there is unfinished business there,” Edwin Shuker, one of the film’s four protagonists, tells JNS. “To say that we are gone, finished, and that we’ve left forever is unbearable for me. Nobody should be required to cut his roots or lose ancestry.”

Shuker says that Israel is the eternal physical and spiritual Jewish homeland, while the UK is “the country and people that gave me physical and financial security, the freedom we never had, a beautiful family, and the opportunity to rebuild my life after escaping Iraq.” Yet he believes that due to changing geopolitical conditions in the Arab world in recent years, Arab states like Iraq might be ready for a new relationship with Jews that includes business ties and tourism.

“There is a big change in the mindset of the Arab street towards Jews. … The gates are being breached in a big way,” he says.
On the Trail of Japanese Holocaust-Era Hero Chiune Sugihara
Daisaku Kunieda — the chief of the Memorial Hall — said Sugihara has become better-known in Japan in recent years and perceptions about him have changed due to societal developments. Whereas Sugihara’s disobedience of government instructions might have been controversial in the past, he is now widely viewed as a hero.

The view of Yaotsu from the Chiune Sugihara Memorial Hall. Photo: Barney Breen-Portnoy.

“Human rights are very important in Japan,” Kunieda said.

The governor of the Gifu Prefecture, Hajime Furuta, noted, “This is not just a story of the past, but very much relevant today, especially with the increasing tensions in the world. It gives important lessons that we should disseminate and continue to verbally express to the next generation.”

The Gifu Prefecture and JTB travel agency are currently engaged in an intense effort to attract tourists who are interested in Sugihara. As part of this, JTB has opened information centers on the “Sugihara Experience” in its New York City and Los Angeles offices.

“Our main goal is to further deepen the connection and the understanding between Japanese and Jewish people,” the president of JTB Central Japan, Hiroshi Matsumoto, said.

Earlier this year, Gifu officials were confident that Sugihara’s records would soon be registered by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as a “Memory of the World.” But, for reasons that are still not clear, the Sugihara documents were omitted when the latest additions to the list were announced in October.

Furuta called the UNESCO decision “very unfortunate,” but did not rule out trying again in the future to get the designation.

“We would like to check and see if we would reapply for the nomination,” he said.
Jewish Documents Of Holocaust Hidden From Nazis, Soviets For Years Reveals Secrets
For decades, a confessional in a church in Lithuania's capital Vilnius kept a precious secret: a trove of documents offering an unprecedented glimpse into Jewish life in Eastern Europe before and during the Holocaust.

The cache, with documents dating back to the mid-18th century, includes religious texts, Yiddish literature and poetry, testimonies about pogroms as well as autobiographies and photographs.

"The diversity of material is breathtaking," David Fishman, professor of Jewish History at New York's Jewish Theological Seminary, told AFP via telephone, describing the discovery as a "total surprise".

"It's almost like you could reconstruct Jewish life before the Holocaust based on these materials because there is no aspect and no region and no period that is missing," he added.

The trove was discovered earlier this year during a cleanout of the church that was used as a book repository during Soviet times.

The documents, together with a larger cache found in Vilnius nearly three decades ago, are "the most significant discovery for Jewish history since the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls in the 1950s", Fishman said. (h/t Zvi)
Israel flies in newborn Syrian refugee for life-saving heart operation
A two-day-old baby born to Syrian refugee parents in Cyprus was flown to Israel Friday night for a life-saving operation in an Israeli hospital.

A special medically-equipped plane brought the newborn to Israel after the Cypriot Health Ministry made contact with the Israeli Ambassador in Cyprus, Sammy Revel, in an urgent plea to fly the baby to Israel for medical treatment after being born with a severe heart defect.

The Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in coordination with Israeli security services and Ben-Gurion Airport officials, approached Interior Minister Arye Deri to obtain permission for the baby and his father, a Syrian national, to enter the country.

The baby was admitted to Sheba Medical Center's neonatal intensive care unit at Tel HaShomer ahead of an emergency operation.
Popular American Rock Band Shares ‘Passionate’ Video of 600 Israelis Covering Its Song
The American rock band Imagine Dragons shared on Facebook on Monday a video of 600 Israelis, including 50 with special needs, who gathered to cover one of its popular songs.

The almost five minute-long video shows the group of Israelis, from all backgrounds and ages, singing a tune called “Believer,” while holding scripts in their hands and facing a stage where musicians played instruments. Imagine Dragons wrote in the video’s caption, “this 600 person choir singing ‘Believer’ blew my mind this morning as I watched. So much passion.”

The clip was originally uploaded onto Facebook by the Koolulam Project, an Israel-based initiative that also organized the event. Koolulam Project invited 600 people who did not know each other to the Bascula arts center in Tel Aviv on Dec. 10 to sing together as a way to kickoff the annual international billboard of Israel’s Galgalatz radio station. It took about an hour to teach the group the song.
New Film Beautifully Showcases Jerusalem Archaeology to Rebut Historical Revisionism
Pierre Rehov’s beautiful new film, “Unveiling Jerusalem,” shines a spotlight on the city’s architectural wonders and amazing recent archaeological finds. Even more importantly, it exposes why the religious-political conflict over Jerusalem appears to be getting worse instead of better, despite years of a “peace process.” The film provides much-needed moral clarity on what causes violence between Israelis and Palestinians.

Rehov’s starting point is the October 13, 2016, UNESCO resolution denying any connection between the Temple Mount and Judaism. The resolution never once refers to the Temple Mount, but refers to that place 19 times by its Muslim name, Al-Haram al-Sharif. Likewise, it refers to the Al-Aqsa Mosque 19 times.

“Unveiling Jerusalem” earns its name by offering viewers a glimpse of new archaeological findings and animated reconstructions of the Temple Mount, as well as rare shots inside the stunning Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aqsa Mosque. Rehov interviews historians, archaeologists, an Orthodox priest, a Protestant minister,and a Palestinian Muslim human rights campaigner; and he adds excerpts from extant writings of Josephus and Tacitus. All confirm the historical as well as religious importance of Jerusalem and the Temple Mount to Christian, as well as Jewish, history.

By denying the connection between the Temple Mount and the First and Second Temples, the latter being where Jesus reportedly spent some of his final hours, Rehov shows, the Arabs who sponsored the UNESCO resolution also denied Christian ties to Jerusalem. The movie notes that most European (i.e., Christian) nations abstained from the 2016 vote.

This denial is a new phenomenon.

Rehov documents that pre-1967, Arabs freely acknowledged that the Haram al-Sharif was in fact the Temple Mount. He shows a stone inscription dated to the ninth or tenth century C.E., from an Arab village of Nuba (about 16 miles south of Jerusalem),that refers to the Dome of the Rock as “the rock of the Bayt al-Maqdis,” i.e., the Holy Temple.




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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 12 years and over 25,000 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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