Saturday, January 06, 2018

From Ian:

MEMRI: 'Fatah Day' At Bir Zeit University: Fatah Youth Activists Wear Dummy Explosive Belts, Threaten Israel With 'Volcano Of Fire'
Amid tension with the U.S. over President Trump's announcement recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital, the Fatah movement – both its leadership and its activists in the field – has also escalated its rhetoric against Israel, with emphasis on encouraging armed struggle (see also MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 7259, Fatah Social Media Accounts Glorify Armed Struggle Against Israel, Incite To Violence, January 2, 2018). One expression of this was a mass rally and parade held by Fatah's youth movement in Bir Zeit University on January 3, 2018, as part of events marking Fatah Day, i.e., the 53rd anniversary of Fatah's founding. The participants in the rally and parade wore military uniforms, and some were masked and wore shrouds and dummy explosive belts. One of the signs they carried bore Yasser Arafat's slogan, "millions of martyrs are marching on Jerusalem."

This report presents examples of incitement to armed struggle against Israel, including suicide attacks, at the Fatah Day events in Bir Zeit and in recent posts on Facebook pages affiliated with the movement and its activists.

Fatah Day Parade At BirZeitUniversity: "Millions Of Martyrs Are Marching On Jerusalem"

The Fatah Youth rally and parade at BirZeitUniversity were attended by several hundred students, many of them masked, decked in uniform and carrying Fatah flags. Some wore white robes resembling shrouds and dummy explosive belts, and held up copies of the Quran. Photos of this Bir Zeit event were posted on the Fatah's official Twitter page and on Facebook pages affiliated with the movement.[1] The message conveyed by the event was one of support for armed struggle, such as Fatah's actions before the Oslo Accords and during the second intifada.

Inside the Trump Team’s Push on Israel Vote That Mike Flynn Lied About
The last-ditch lobbying effort to scuttle a 2016 United Nations resolution on Israel by then-President-elect Donald Trump and top aides was more extensive than has been reported and went right up to the last moments before the vote, according to people familiar with the effort:
  • One transition member called the U.S. State Department’s 24-hour operations center for the phone numbers of officials, but the department declined to provide them.
  • Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law, called the British ambassador to the U.S., Kim Darroch, urging the U.K. to delay the vote.
  • Mike Flynn, soon to be national security adviser, reached Spanish Foreign Minister Alfonso Dastis about the vote while the minister was at a loud holiday party in Madrid.
  • Nikki Haley, now the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., tried to contact then-Ambassador Samantha Power, but she declined to take or return the call, telling her staff that Ms. Haley’s outreach was inappropriate.
  • Mr. Trump himself on the day of the scheduled vote told Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi that putting the resolution to a vote would damage Egypt’s standing with his administration.
  • About two hours before the scheduled vote, Mr. Flynn called Malaysia’s Permanent Mission to the U.N., but mission staff refused to connect him to their representative.
  • As diplomats gathered in the Council chamber to vote, the cellphone of Uruguay’s deputy ambassador rang, and it was Mr. Flynn asking to table the resolution. The ambassador declined. The resolution passed.
Caroline Glick: Trump kicks America’s Palestinian habit
It was probably a coincidence that US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley hailed the Iranian anti-regime protesters and threatened to end US financial support for UNRWA – the UN Palestinian refugee agency – and the Palestinian Authority more generally in the same briefing. But they are integrally linked.

It is no coincidence that Hamas is escalating its rocket attacks on Israel as the Iranian regime confronts the most significant domestic challenge it has ever faced.

As IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Gadi Eisenkot said this week, Iranian assistance to Hamas is steadily rising. Last August, Hamas acknowledged that Iran is its greatest military and financial backer. In 2017, Iran transferred $70 million to the terrorist group.

Eisenkot said that in 2018, Iran intends to transfer $100m. to Hamas.

If Iran is Hamas’s greatest state sponsor, UNRWA is its partner. UNRWA is headquartered in Gaza. It is the UN’s single largest agency. It has more than 11,500 employees in Gaza alone. UNRWA’s annual budget is in excess of $1.2 billion. Several hundred million each year is spent in Gaza.

The US is UNRWA’s largest funder. In 2016, it transferred more than $368m. to UNRWA.

For the past decade, the Center for Near East Policy Research has copiously documented how UNRWA in Gaza is not an independent actor. Rather it is an integral part of Hamas’s regime in Gaza.

UNRWA underwrites the jihadist regime by paying for its school system and its healthcare system, among other things. Since 1999, UNRWA employees have repeatedly and overwhelmingly elected Hamas members to lead their unions.

In every major missile campaign Hamas has carried out against Israel since the group seized control of the Gaza Strip in 2007, UNRWA facilities have played key roles in its terrorist offensives. Missiles, rockets and mortars have been stored in and fired from UNRWA schools and clinics.

UNRWA teachers and students have served as human shields for Hamas missile launches against Israel.

UNRWA ambulances have been used to ferry weapons, including mortars, and terrorists.

UNRWA officials have served as Hamas mouthpieces in their propaganda war against Israel.



Michael J. Totten: Is Iran's Regime About to Fall?
The real question, then, isn’t whether or not Iran’s government is about to fall. The question is, does Iran’s regime appear poised to suffer one of the more specific fates listed above?

It’s spectacularly unlikely that those at the top of the pyramid, along with their Revolutionary Guard Corps, will lose their nerve and allow themselves to be peacefully overthrown by civilians. “Supreme Leader” Ayatollah Khamenei is no Mikhail Gorbachev. That’s for damn sure. They will fight back. They’re doing it now. And those at the top of Iran’s clerical system are spectacularly unlikely to ever run away like Yanukovych who lives today just outside Moscow. Where would they run to? Syria? That doesn’t even pass the laugh test. Russia’s Vladimir Putin may be their ally, but these people aren’t going to live out their days in the frozen north under lifelong surveillance among godless atheists and Orthodox Christians.

The Iranian army could turn against the ayatollahs as Romania’s did when it arrested and executed Ceausescu, but that’s what the Revolutionary Guard Corps is for, to protect the regime from the regular army which is as ideologically heterodox as the country itself.

And there’s virtually no chance that any country is going to invade Iran and demolish the government. Americans have no appetite for another regime-change adventure abroad, especially not in the Middle East, and no other country in the world is willing and capable either.

Iran’s government, then, is likely to survive for the foreseeable future.

Eventually, though, it will fall, as all such regimes finally do in the long run, and what will most likely herald its eventual downfall is a combination of Soviet-style loosening and rot from within. The Soviet Union lasted seven decades before that finally happened while Iran’s Islamic Republic hasn’t quite been around yet for four. And the Russians suffered an empire-shattering loss in Afghanistan before softening up under Gorbachev. The Iranian government, meanwhile, is riding high on a string of partial victories abroad in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, and Yemen. Outright losing in some of those places would weaken the government’s confidence, as would enough morale-sapping demonstrations from the width and breadth of Iranian society, but that’s not going to happen at a time when the government is still just popular enough to whip up large demonstrations on its behalf.

The tipping point will likely come when those tasked with internal repression sympathize with the protesters and either stand down or turn outright against the regime. That’s what we need to watch out for. There are no signs of either of those things happening now. That could change, and it could change in an instant, but Iran isn’t there yet.
Haley to Iran: ‘The United States Stands Unapologetically With Those in Iran Who Seek Freedom for Themselves’
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley on Friday delivered a warning to Iran and said that no government can deny human rights to its citizens.

Haley made her remarks at a United Nations Security Council meeting that was scheduled after the U.S. requested an emergency session to discuss the protests in Iran.

NBC News posted a clip on Twitter of Haley telling Iran that the United States "stands unapologetically with those in Iran who seek freedom for themselves."

"Today the people of Iran are speaking to their government and their message is undeniable," Haley said. "Stop the support for terrorism. Stop giving billions of our money to killers and dictators. Stop taking our wealth and spending it on foreign fighters and proxy wars. Think of us."

Haley went on to list many "freedom-loving" countries that have spread their support for Iran's people and their freedoms.

"We must do more. The Iranian regime is cutting off internet access in an attempt to shut down communication among the protesters," Haley said. "They are attempting to silence the voice of the Iranian people. We cannot allow that to happen. Every U.N. member state is sovereign, but member states cannot use sovereignty as a shield when they categorically deny their people human rights and fundamental freedoms."


White House Deadlocked on Saving Iran Nuclear Deal As Protests Rock Islamic Republic
White House national security officials are focused on developing strategies to support and foster demonstrations in Iran that have gripped the country for more than a week, but are in a deadlock over whether to preserve the landmark nuclear deal and continue providing a financial lifeline to the hardline Islamic regime, according to multiple sources briefed on the Trump administration's ongoing discussions.

The White House is facing a deadline that could force the administration to provide continuing sanctions relief to Iran—including to several key entities that bolster the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, or IRGC.

Within the next week, the Trump administration will have to decide whether it will again waive economic sanctions on key Iranian entities, including its Central Bank, which provides the IRGC with a significant portion of its funding. Insiders worry this decision could solidify Iran's hardline ruling regime at a time when protesters are coming out en masse against it.

Senior White House officials acknowledge they are in a tough position as they continue to focus on supporting the Iranian protesters through a range of measures that include efforts to foster further discontent with Iran's ruling regime led by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, multiple sources told the Free Beacon.

However, administration allies on the outside see a White House torn between backing a nascent revolution in Iran and preserving a nuclear deal that has only solidified the ruling regime's power.
Ricochet Podcast: Ep. 384: That Book
First podcast of 2018 so we wanted to out our best foot forward. We’ve got Commentary’s Sohrab Ahmari on Iran and The Washington Examiner’s Byron York on The Book, collusion, and Congress. Buckle up, it’s going to be a bumpy year.
US denies freezing millions in aid to Palestinian refugee agency
Senior US officials on Friday denied reports that $125 million in aid to the UN’s Palestinian refugee agency had been frozen over Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s refusal to enter US-led peace talks with Israel.

“Contrary to reports that we have halted funding to UNRWA, the decision is under review,” a State Department official told The Times of Israel. “There are still deliberations taking place, and we have missed no deadline.”

Earlier on Friday, Channel 10 news reported that $125 million in US funding that should have been transferred to UNRWA by January 1 was being held up because the White House is furious over the Palestinians’ reaction to President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital last month.

The TV report said that while that initial payment had been frozen, the administration was actually considering cutting altogether a total of some $180 million from its UNRWA payments — about half of the annual budget. It said a meeting on the issue took place at the White House on Friday, and that no final decision had been taken.

A White House official also responded to the TV report on Friday, confirming to The Times of Israel that no decision had been taken on the issue.

“There is no existing schedule that obligates the United States to provide specific amounts of aid to UNWRA on specific dates,” the official said. “The decisions of when to provide aid in the fiscal year, and in what allocations, lie with the Secretary of State.”
If Palestinians won't talk, Trump should cut aid
So just as World War III did not after all break out over President Trump's decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital city, we now see another entirely predictable phenomenon in the Middle East -- the Palestinians are refusing to negotiate with Israel about peace.

The Palestinian position since President Trump's announcement has been to say that they are still theoretically in favour of negotiations but that they will only embark on them if they are based on "international laws and resolutions", as Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas has been putting it to journalists around the world.

What this means, of course, is that they have found a new excuse to avoid negotiations. It is ironic that Jerusalem has turned out to be the latest one since the Palestinians have, since 2000, twice been offered a two state solution with east jerusalem as its capital. Both times they have flatly refused.

As President Trump to his credit understands, this is a long, dreary, and familiar theme. Though you might not know it of you only read mainstream media outlets like the BBC and the New York Times, there never needed to be an Israel-Palestine conflict in the first place.

In 1947, the United Nations resolved to create two states -- Israel and Palestine -- living side by side in peace with Jerusalem as a place for all, under international jurisdiction.

The Jewish Israeli side accepted the deal; the Palestinian/ Arab side opted for war.
PA raps ‘vicious Israeli-US campaign’ targeting UNWRA
The Palestinian Authority’s Foreign Affairs Ministry condemned a “vicious US-Israeli campaign” targeting the UN’s Palestinian refugee agency in a Friday statement, after an Israeli report that the US had frozen $125 million in aid to the organization.

“The current US-Israeli harmony aims to conclude final status issues including Jerusalem, land, borders and refugees from one side using the power of the occupation,” the PA Foreign Ministry said in a Friday statement, according to a translation from the official Wafa news outlet.

For its part, the US denied the Channel 10 report, saying a decision on UNWRA funding was still “under review.”

Channel 10 had reported that the $125 million in US funding should have been transferred to UNRWA by January 1, but was being held up because the White House is furious over the Palestinians’ reaction to Trump’s Jerusalem recognition last month. It said the US was also weighing slashing a total of $180 million in UNRWA aid altogether — about half its annual contribution.
Threatening to Cut Palestinian Aid Is the Right Move
Aid to the PA is seen as necessary to prop up the only available interlocutor for peace with Israel. We’re also told that funding the PA is a necessary part of its security cooperation with Israel.

There are elements of truth to these assertions. If the PA were to collapse, that would likely lead to Israel having to reassert direct control of the West Bank rather than the current situation in which the overwhelming majority of Palestinians are governed by the corrupt Fatah party led by PA leader Mahmoud Abbas. But the PA’s need for cash to prop up its kleptocracy is exactly why the US should be using its financial leverage to make it clear to Abbas that a quarter century of his organization holding the US hostage in this manner can’t continue. Abbas’s threats of dissolving the PA are bluffs that should have been called long ago.

The same is true of security cooperation. Abbas relies on Israel to ensure his survival against the plots of his Islamist rivals as much, if not more, than the Israelis rely on the PA to help keep terror under control in the West Bank.

The PA also uses the hundreds of millions of dollars it gets from the US to provide salaries and pensions to terrorists and their families. Congressional efforts to hinge US aid to ending the PA’s subsidies via the Taylor Force Act deserve the president’s support.

The same is true about the massive American contributions to UNRWA, the United Nations refugee agency that is solely devoted to the Palestinians. While UNRWA is credited with feeding and educating Palestinians, its main role is in maintaining the Arab refugees as a stateless people to perpetuate an ongoing threat to Israel’s existence. An equal number of Jews were forced to flee their homes in Arab and Muslim countries after 1948, but they were absorbed in Israel and the West. Yet UNRWA has been part of the effort to prevent Palestinian Arabs from being absorbed elsewhere, thereby allowing them to cling to their dream of destroying the Jewish state.
Palestinian ‘Refugees’
It has been suggested that counters don’t think and it is thinkers who really count. Nowhere is this mantra more applicable than to the perennial issue of Palestinian refugees, driven from their homes by cruel Israeli conquerors. Ever since 1948, when Israel defeated the armies of surrounding Arab nations determined to eradicate the Jewish state, the flight of Palestinians has remained high on the international list of grievances attributed to Israeli malice.

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) was established in 1949 to aid Palestinians “whose normal place of residence was Mandatory Palestine between June 1946 and May 1948, who lost their homes . . . as a result of the 1948 Arab-Israeli conflict.” Now staffed by 30,000 Palestinians, it offers educational, relief and social service programs for which the United States contributed $368 million in 2016. Why so costly? Because UNRWA, imaginatively defining Palestinian refugees to include descendants (including adopted children) of male refugees who fled in 1948, registers 5,149,742 “patrilineal descendants” now receiving benefits.

The New York Times also rode the escalator of refugee inflation. In October 1948, it noted “the flight of 80 per cent” of “500,000 Arabs” who had inhabited territory gained by Israel during its struggle for independence. But, four years later, an editorial cited “850,000 Arab refugees.” By November 1954, the number had climbed to 900,000; two months later, correspondent Cyrus Sulzberger, the publisher’s nephew, referred to “almost one million” refugees. In 1956, and again in 1967 following the Six-Day War, Times editorials cited “nearly one million” displaced Palestinians.
The Washington Post Whitewashes UNRWA
A Jan. 3, 2018 Washington Post dispatch, by Jerusalem bureau chief Loveday Morris and reporter Ruth Eglash, omitted key context and information about the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA). The report, ostensibly about U.S. warnings that it will cut aid to the agency, also relied on questionable sources.

The Post cited a Jan. 2, 2018 tweet by President Donald Trump, stating that the U.S. gives “Palestinians HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS OF DOLLARS a year and gets no appreciation or respect. With the Palestinians no longer willing to talk peace, why should we make these massive future payments to them?” Trump did not specify aid to UNRWA, although the paper pointed out that earlier that day, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., Nikki Haley, “suggested that the United States will cut funding to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, the agency tasked with assisting Palestinian refugees, until the Palestinian leadership returns to the negotiating table.”

UNRWA is the only U.N. organization whose stated mission is to assist a specific group of refugees, Palestinian Arabs. All other refugee populations in the world fall under the jurisdiction of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). This is but one of several ways in which “Palestinian refugees” are treated—and categorized—in a completely different manner from other refugees. UNRWA is almost entirely reliant on the donations of individual member states, with the U.S. being the chief donor country, donating $360 million dollars in 2017—40 percent of the organization’s budget.

UNRWA’s Objectives

The Post’s report, however, didn’t inform readers that UNRWA is a heavily politicized agency that seeks to delegitimize and destroy the Jewish state.
Washington Post Ignores Facts When Reporting on Guatemalan and Honduran Support for US on Jerusalem
In “Why Guatemala, Honduras support Trump on Jerusalem,” The Washington Post gave at least ten reasons why Guatemala and Honduras supported and may follow the United States’ example by moving their embassies to Jerusalem. None of these reasons included that it was the right thing to do.

To the Post, it was because the South American leaders were “embattled,” “they had a lot to lose by upsetting the Trump administration,” it was an attempt “to curry favor with Washington,” and they have “domestic challenges that are helped by aligning with conservatives in the United States and Israel.” Further, the Guatemalan president “relies on the support of the evangelical community, which has consistently advocated for Israel’s right to have Jerusalem as its capital,” and “Israel gave military aid to the government for its fight against leftist guerrillas during the Guatemalan’s civil war.”

The Post chose to interview former Guatemalan foreign minister Fernando Carrera, who said about the country’s current leader: “he’s trying to please his political base,” “he’s also trying to close the gap of confidence with the United States” and, “He’s trying to strengthen his position.”

The Honduran leader, according to the Post article, “is also in a politically precarious position and could use the Trump administration’s help.”

The only person that they interviewed from the Guatemalan government was the actual foreign minister of Guatemala, Sandra Jovel — but her quote in the Post was of no substance. Her more significant quote on the matter, notably missed by the Post, was that her country wasn’t “moving” the embassy, but “returning” it to where it was prior to 1978 . She also added that, “we have not had pressure from any country.” In other words, Guatemala recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital because that’s where it was — and her response intimated that they did it because it was the right thing to do.
Egyptian media instructed to promote acceptance of Jerusalem recognition
Though Egypt has publicly condemned US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and even sponsored a UN resolution rejecting the move, Cairo has quietly sought to convince the Egyptian public to accept it, the New York Times reported Saturday.

The newspaper obtained audio recordings in which an Egyptian intelligence officer, speaking with influential talk show hosts, asked them to downplay the significance of US President Donald Trump’s decision.

The officer, Cpt. Ashraf al-Kholi, is reported to have told hosts that widespread unrest over Washington’s move would “not serve Egypt’s national security interests,” as it would “revive the Islamists and Hamas. Hamas would be reborn once more.

“How is Jerusalem different from Ramallah, really?” al-Kholi asked on the recordings, as he sought to lessen the Holy City’s significance as the future capital of a Palestinian state.

Though he said Cairo would denounce Trump’s declaration, he added that, “After that, this thing will become a reality. Palestinians can’t resist and we don’t want to go to war. We have enough on our plate as you know.”
When a Gazan girl and Israeli officials battle head-to-head for social media
Late in the afternoon on July 28, 2014, Daniel Rubenstein was scrolling through Twitter at IDF headquarters in sunny Tel Aviv when he saw a tweet from NBC News reporter Ayman Mohyeldin: “Israeli airstrike has hit the outpatient clinic at Shifa Hospital. Local Palestinian media is reporting several children among dead #gaza.”

Minutes later Mohyeldin tweeted again, this time accusing Israel of striking Al Shati refugee camp.

Rubenstein, an Israeli immigrant originally from Sugar Land, Texas, was an IDF reservist during the 50-day war known as Operation Protective Edge, leading the Spokesperson Unit’s English social media team. He switched into crisis mode, moving quickly to get the facts before responding. An hour after Mohyeldin’s first tweet, Rubinstein sent information via text message to reporters after receiving confirmation that the airstrikes were actually coming from Hamas, the terror group that rules the Gaza Strip.

Mohyeldin subsequently tweeted, “IDF: Palestinians killed in Gaza at Shati refugee and strike at Shifa hospital were result of Hamas rockets that landed in Gaza.”

Rubenstein, then 30 years old, could breathe again, having prevailed in yet another quick round of fire in the social media war raging alongside the ground conflict.

This anecdote among with many others is told in the new book, “War in 140 Characters: How Social Media is Reshaping Conflict in the Twenty-First Century” by journalist David Patrikarakos. The book is a fast-paced read exploring the power of the individual in shaping the narrative of war online. Patrikarakos spoke with The Times of Israel about his new book and what the increasingly challenging media war will mean for Israel in future conflicts.
Fatah Downplays Meeting With Hezbollah Leader
Fatah Central Committee member Azzam Al-Ahmad met in Beirut on December 31 with Hassan Nasrallah, leader of Hezbollah which is designated as a terrorist organization by the US, the EU and the Arab League. A day earlier a Palestinian Authority (PA) delegation met with Lebanese officials, including Prime Minister Saad Al-Hariri, to discuss American President Donald Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

Following his meeting with Al-Ahmad, Nasrallah claimed to the Al Mayadeen TV channel that the Fatah faction, headed by PA President Mahmoud Abbas, agreed to “activate a third Intifada [popular uprising]” in the Palestinian territories.

However, when reached by The Media Line, Al-Ahmad reaffirmed Fatah's commitment to peaceful resistance. “Nasrallah agreed on that [non-violent civil disobedience] when I met with him as a representative of Fatah, but he also met with other Palestinians.”

Attempting to clarify the controversial contact with Iran's proxy, PA Vice President and Deputy Chairman of Fatah Mahmoud Al-Aloul told The Media Line that the Palestinian delegation went to “meet with the Lebanese leadership and not specifically with Hezbollah."

In the Al Mayadeen interview, Nasrallah also alleged that the Iranian regime financed the recent wave of Palestinian protests against Trump's Jerusalem declaration. He stressed that Hezbollah is keen to work towards establishing a “point of unity” with the Palestinians and confirmed that Jerusalem was the focus of his meeting with officials.

"We will not hesitate to seize any opportunity to provide support and weapons to the resistance in Palestine,” Nasrallah declared.
Palestinians attack car of Greek Patriarch in protest against land deals
Palestinian Christians on Saturday pummeled the car of the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem during a visit to the West Bank in protest against the church's decision to sell land to Jewish groups.

The Greek Orthodox church is one of the biggest private landowners in the Holy Land and in recent years has stirred controversy both among Israelis and Palestinians by trying to sell prime assets to private investors.

Hundreds of Palestinians blocked Patriarch Theophilos III's convoy as he drove to a church in Bethlehem to attend an Orthodox Christmas mass.

Protestors threw stones and water bottles and pounded his car with their fists, chanting "traitor, traitor," before Palestinian security forces pushed them away. Three cars in the convoy, but not the Patriarch's vehicle, had their windows smashed.

The Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos III attends a Christmas service according to the Eastern Orthodox calendar, in the church of Nativity in the West Bank city of Bethlehem.The Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos III attends a Christmas service according to the Eastern Orthodox calendar, in the church of Nativity in the West Bank city of Bethlehem.

Demonstrator Elyeef Sayegh said: "What happened today is a message to the Palestinian Authority and to Jordan that we will not allow this traitor to stay in the Church."
Support for Anti-Israel BDS Movement 'Virtually Nonexistent' Among College Students, Study Finds
Student activists at the University of Michigan (UM) made school history this past November after successfully lobbying the student government to pass an anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) resolution. The first of its kind at UM, the resolution urged the university to divest from three Israeli companies, and was passed 23-17.

If the UM student government truly represented the student population, then this resolution would reflect widespread anti-Israel sentiment among students. Indeed, this is a concern for many Jewish and pro-Israel parents, who worry that American universities are slowly turning into hostile climates for their kids. But a new study cast doubt on this — finding that support for BDS at UM is, in fact, “virtually nonexistent.”

In a study of 3,000 students at UM, researchers found that only about 7 percent of non-Jewish students “somewhat” or “strongly” support a boycott of Israel. Among Jewish students in particular, that number was even lower: only about 2 percent of them say they would support a boycott of Israel. That leads us to an interesting question: how did the BDS resolution at UM pass if most students didn’t agree?

Leonard Saxe, a Brandeis University professor who co-authored the survey, told PJ Media in an interview that campus BDS victories are rarely reflective of the general student body. Instead, citing the successful BDS resolution at UM, Saxe explained that this is what happens when a “handful” of student activists successfully seize political power.
Legal Battle Heats Up Over Fordham University Decision to Ban ‘Students for Justice in Palestine’
Fordham University in New York on Wednesday called on a judge to dismiss a lawsuit filed over its refusal to recognize a chapter of the anti-Zionist group Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP).

Four current and former students filed the motion accusing Fordham of practicing viewpoint discrimination by barring the formation of an SJP affiliate, and demanded that the university sanction the club while the case is in litigation. The private Jesuit school has argued, in turn, that SJP’s reported behavior on campuses nationwide indicate that the establishment of a local branch could be “polarizing” and pose a safety concern to students and faculty.

Justice Nancy Bannon of the New York County State Supreme Court is expected to issue a ruling at a later date.

Keith Eldredge, dean of students at Fordham’s Lincoln Center campus, announced in a December 2016 email that he would deny SJP club status, even though the school’s United Student Government voted to grant the group recognition. Under university policy, the dean has the final authority to approve or deny student clubs.

“I cannot support an organization whose sole purpose is advocating political goals of a specific group, and against a specific country, when these goals clearly conflict with and run contrary to the mission and values of the University,” Eldredge wrote at the time. “Specifically, the call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions of Israel presents a barrier to open dialogue and mutual learning and understanding.”
American Islamist Charity Openly Partners with Designated Terrorists
In December, the Muslim American charity Helping Hand for Relief and Development (HHRD), organized a conference to honor 'World Disability Day' at a government-managed college in the Pakistani city of Timergara.

This seems like a noble cause. But Islamist groups often use noble causes to advance their agenda. And HHRD is one such Islamist group.

Sponsors of the HHRD event in Pakistan included the Falah-e-Insaniat Foundation (FIF), the charitable wing of Lashkar-e-Taiba, the terrorist organization responsible for the 2008 Mumbai attacks. In 2016, FIF itself was designated a terrorist organization by the U.S. Treasury Department.

Another organization present at the HHRD conference was the Milli Muslim League, a political party recently launched by Lashkar-e-Taiba founder, Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, on whom the U.S. government has placed a $10 million bounty.

But HHRD didn't stop at Pakistan's most infamous terrorist network. Its conference also included Al Khidmat, the charitable arm of the South Asian Islamist movement Jamaat-e-Islami.
More than 100 artists pen letter backing Lorde's Israel gig cancellation
More than a hundred actors, writers, directors and musicians, in a letter published in The Guardian on Saturday, have publicly backed New Zealand singer Lorde’s decision to cancel her scheduled Tel Aviv concert.

Lorde canceled the concert, due to take place in June, following pressure from Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions activists.

The letter’s signatories include English actress Julie Christie, US writer Alice Walker, English director Ken Loach and English musician and anti-Israel activist Roger Waters.

“We write in support of Lorde, who made public her decision not to perform in Israel,” the artists said in the letter. “We deplore the bullying tactics being used to defend injustice against Palestinians and to suppress an artist’s freedom of conscience. We support Lorde’s right to take a stand.”

The letter also criticized a full-page ad published in The Washington Post on December 31, taken out by Rabbi Shmuley Boteach’s This World: The Values Network organization, calling Lorde a “bigot” and condemning her decision to join “a global antisemitic boycott of Israel.”
UKMW prompts correction to Indy claim that ‘Israel killed’ Mohammed al-Durah
The Al-Durah Affair is an incident, in Sept. 2000, involving a 12-year-old Palestinian boy named Mohammed Al-Durah who, Palestinians alleged, was killed by IDF fire (during a firefight between Israeli and Palestinian forces) while crouched in front of a wall with his father at the Netzarim Junction in Gaza.

Despite the fact that claims the boy was killed by IDF fire that day – based on an entirely inconclusive 59 second video clip – have been discredited, Israel’s guilt was accepted blindly by the media, and al-Durah became an icon of Palestinian “martyrdom” in the Arab and Muslim world.

The framing of the incident also reinforced, some have persuasively argued, the lethal media narrative that Israel murders Palestinian kids.

However, despite the dearth of actual evidence, some in the media to this day persist in accepting, without question, these completely unsubstantiated Palestinian claims that Israeli soldiers killed the boy.

The latest example involves a Dec. 16th article in The Independent on the recent death of a disabled Palestinian man, Ibrahim Abu Thuraya, on the Gaza border during clashes with Israeli soldiers. The article included a passage suggesting that the death of Abu Thuraya (in highly disputed circumstances) on the Gaza border, during violent protests last month, evokes the death of Mohammed Al Durah.

As you can see from our tweet to the journalist, Rachel Roberts, the article suggested that Israel’s responsibility for the young boy’s death was an indisputable fact.
Dutch remember Jewish psychiatric patients murdered by the Nazis
Hundreds of people attended the unveiling of a monument commemorating 251 Jews who were sent to be murdered from a psychiatric hospital in The Hague.

The ceremony last week at the Parnassia hospital in The Hague took place days before the 75th anniversary of the deportations from that institution, which to many encapsulated the heights of cruelty by the Nazi occupation forces in the Netherlands and their collaborators.

A memorial wall featuring a relief of a menorah was unveiled at the spot where the Nazis in 1942 rounded up patients of what was then the Rosenburg psychiatric institution, the hospital’s previous name. According to newly completed research, dozens of Jews hid in the institution and pretended to be patients in the hope that the Germans would spare them. There were also several legitimate Jewish patients hospitalized there.

But on December. 31, 1942, all the Jews hiding at the institution were rounded up, sent to the Westerbork transit camp and from there on to death camps in Poland. Of the 251 deported, 227 were murdered.

Ronny Naftaniel, a founder of the Hague Jewish Heritage group and one of the initiators of the construction of the monument, said the heartlessness on display at the Rosenburg psychiatric institution was typical of the relentless persecution that ended with the murder of 75 percent of 140,000 Dutch Jews – the highest death rate of any Nazi-occupied country in Western Europe.
Israeli startups raised more than $5 billion in 2017
Israeli startups raised more than $5 billion in 2017, besting last year’s record of $4.8 billion, according to a year-end report by IVC Research Center.

In the final month of 2017, funding news from Israel was topped by Sirin Labs’ raise of nearly $158 million in the initial offering of its virtual coin, SRN, to finance the development and production of a blockchain technology-based phone named Finney.

The Swiss-headquartered company, with R&D in Tel Aviv, was founded in 2013 by Israeli entrepreneur Moshe Hogeg and Kazakhstan-born businessman Kenges Rakishev. Sirin recently signed on soccer star Lionel Messi as its brand ambassador.

Insightec of Haifa was not far behind, with a December raise of $150 million – the largest-ever private, pre-IPO fundraise for a medical technology company in Israel. Koch Disruptive Technologies of Kansas led the Series E round, which will help Insightec further commercialize its approved indications for noninvasive MRI-guided focused ultrasound procedures, as well as continue research in areas such as Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease and brain tumors.
Druze firefighter risks his life to save Torah scroll
Druze firefighter Wiam Nevoani saved a Torah scroll from a burning synagogue on Monday, endangering his life.

Nevoani, a resident of the Druze village of Julis in northern Israel, told Channel 20 about the experience.

"On Monday we were called to fight a fire in a Nahariya synagogue," Nevoani said. "An initial investigation showed that no one was trapped in the building. We were four teams of firefighters, and as we drove I realized the importance of the site of the fire. I thought about the site's importance and high level of sanctity. Based on the report that we'd received, that no one was trapped, I started thinking about how to save the contents of the building - the Torah scrolls, all the prayer books."

"When we arrived at the site, the flames were huge, there was a rain of fire. The temperature reading was very high, and the building was surrounded by smoke. We started working to put out the fire and very quickly got it under control. The team worked very professionally and very efficiently.

"As we were working, I identified a Torah scroll, and immediately jumped, grabbed it, and brought it outside. As I brought it outside, I felt like I was holding a soul, like I was saving a person, saving a baby." (h/t Zvi)



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