Wednesday, January 24, 2018

From Ian:

Trump in the Middle East: Note Who Curses America, and Who Blesses It
President Donald Trump has promised that in the Middle East under his presidency, “there are many things that can happen now that would never have happened before.” Two speeches of the last ten days offer dramatic confirmation of the emerging reconfiguration of America’s relationship with Israel and the Middle East under his leadership.

In a two-hour speech before the Council of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) last week, Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority, denounced the British, Dutch, French, and Americans for having conspired, ever since the 1650s, to create a Jewish colonial outpost that would “erase the Palestinians from Palestine.” As Abbas tells it, all this reached a climax on the eve of World War I, when the West realized that it was on the verge of collapse and that the Islamic world was “poised to inherit European civilization.” To put an end to this threat, the Western nations went about carving up the Muslim world so that it would be forever “divided, backward, and engulfed in infighting.” As for the United States, it has been “playing games” of this sort ever since then, importing, for example, the disastrous Arab Spring into Middle East.

Abbas summed up by demanding an apology and reparations from Britain for the Balfour Declaration and denying that the United States can serve as a mediator in the Mideast. Finally, he went to the trouble of cursing both President Trump and the U.S. Congress: Yehrab beitak (“May your house be razed”), he said.

I have been following the speeches of the PLO and its supporters in the Arab world for 30 years. Nothing here is new. These are the same things that Yasser Arafat, Abbas, and the mainline PLO leadership have always believed. It is a worldview that reflects an abiding hatred for the West, blaming Christians and Jews not only for the founding of Israel but for every calamity that has befallen the Muslim and Arab world for centuries.
Col Kemp: We must end this appeasement and ban Hezbollah
Hezbollah is the most powerful terrorist organisation in the world. Yet Britain has proscribed only part of it: its military wing. This Thursday the MP Joan Ryan will lead a parliamentary debate aimed at designating the whole organisation, as the US, Canada and the Netherlands already do. Her chances are slim. The film Darkest Hour has reminded us of British ministers’ penchant for appeasement and, like Churchill, that is what she’s up against.

Hezbollah, the creation of Iran, emerged onto the world stage in Beirut in 1983, killing 241 US Marines and 58 French paratroopers in the most devastating terrorist attack before 9/11. Since then it has attacked in Latin America, Europe and the Middle East and planned strikes from Cyprus to Singapore. Last summer US authorities charged two Hezbollah terrorists with planning attacks in New York and Panama. Hezbollah is fighting to keep Assad in power in Syria and maintains an arsenal of 100,000 rockets in Lebanon, pointed at Israel.

During the campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan, Hezbollah was involved in Iranian-directed bombings that killed well over 1,000 British and US servicemen. Despite this, in Britain and elsewhere in Europe Hezbollah can freely raise funds for terrorism. Its supporters flaunt their assault rifle-emblazoned flags on our streets. They maintain sleeper cells in this country: planning, preparing and lying in wait for orders to attack.

When I worked for the Joint Intelligence Committee I monitored Hezbollah’s activities. I knew there was no division into peaceful and warlike elements. The regional states don’t buy it either; the Arab League designates the entire organisation. Even Hezbollah’s leaders don’t make any such pretence. In 2009 its deputy secretary-general confirmed that it was one unified organisation.
One Raid Shows All You Need to Know About Israel’s Current Predicament
You wouldn’t think that one isolated Israeli counter-terror raid could explode every major myth about Israel’s conflict with the Palestinian Arabs. But last week’s raid in Jenin came pretty close to doing just that.

Overnight on January 17, Israeli commandos entered the city of Jenin in search of two particular Arab terrorists. When the operation was over a few hours later, the Israeli forces withdrew

Wait — the Israelis withdrew? But isn’t Israel “occupying” the Palestinians? That’s what J Street and Jewish Voice for Peace are always telling us. Just this week, Rabbi Rick Jacobs, head of the Union for Reform Judaism, wrote that Israel is “ruling over millions of Palestinians.”

I guess that Rabbi Jacobs hasn’t been to Jenin lately. In fact, I would imagine that he hasn’t been there since at least 1995. That was the year when Israel withdrew all of its forces from the city (and the other areas where 98 percent of Palestinians reside), and a new power took over: the Palestinian Authority (PA). Counter-terror raids like the one in Jenin are the only occasions when Israeli forces enter PA-ruled cities.



Have Republicans Tried to Redefine “Pro-Israel?”
[Eisner is] wrong about Democrats and liberals being unable to identify with Pence’s language. That would be a surprise to former President Bill Clinton, who often spoke of the way his religious background compelled him to support Israel. The same is true of other liberal Democrats who, whatever their differences with Pence about fiscal or social issues, share his ideas about America’s biblical heritage and the moral imperative for backing a Jewish state.

But Eisner’s lack of perspective isn’t confined only to Americans. She’s just as wrong about Israel’s founders, whom she claimed wouldn’t care for their achievement to be praised by Christian Bible-thumpers. But as much as those socialists didn’t share the faith of evangelicals, they did have an equal appreciation of the Bible. According to David Ben-Gurion, the Bible was the founding document of Jewish statehood and its history. He and other Labor Zionists were largely irreligious, but they wanted Israelis to be knowledgeable skeptics about the Bible, not its opponents or disconnected from it. And, unlike contemporary liberals, they were smart enough to know that the Jewish people needed to embrace its friends wherever they could find them. The contempt for Christian conservative defenders of Israel often heard these days on the left would have appalled them, not Pence’s emotional embrace of Zionism.

The Forward editor is also wrong about the definition of friendship. . . . [T]he problem with many on the left is that . . . they have come to believe that the only way to express friendship for Israel is to attack its government. . . . [T]he notion that it is the U.S. government’s duty to override the judgment of Israel’s voters and, in effect, to save Israel from itself is neither respectful nor particularly friendly. . . .

Trump, Pence, and their evangelical supporters haven’t redefined the term “pro-Israel” in an effort to exclude liberals. The opposite is true. Liberals have sought to change [the term’s] meaning in order to justify support for policies that undermine Israel’s self-determination and to delegitimize the Jewish state’s conservative friends. (h/t Elder of Lobby)
Michael Oren: Winning over Democrats must be a ‘strategic goal’ for Israel
Israel needs to make a well-funded, concerted effort to win back the support of progressives in the United States, Deputy Minister for Diplomacy Michael Oren said Wednesday, responding to a dramatic survey published the day before that showed that Democrats are almost as likely to sympathize with the Palestinians as they are with Israel in the Israeli-Palestinian peace conflict.

“We have to make a decision to set us a strategic goal of bringing the Democratic party back on our side,” Oren, a former Israeli ambassador to the US, told The Times of Israel. “This effort requires resources and personnel. You need a team of serious people with a serious budget to work on this in a very serious manner.”

Oren said an office comparable in size to the Strategic Affairs Ministry was required to adequately tackle the problem. Headed by Gilad Erdan, that ministry is tasked with combating the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanction (BDS) movement.

BDS is the cough, but this the flu

Earlier this month, the government approved a plan setting aside $75 million to fight BDS.
Netanyahus head to World Economic Forum in Davos; Trump will be closing speaker
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is set to fly to Switzerland on Wednesday afternoon to participate in the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, through Friday.

Netanyahu will meet with over ten heads of state, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel, Swiss President Alan Brest, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rota, a statement from the Prime Minister’s Office said.

No meeting with US President Donald Trump, who will also be attending the conference, has been confirmed.

The prime minister’s delegation will include his wife Sara, National Security Adviser Meir Ben Shabbat and his chief-of-staff Yoav Horowitz.
In Davos, Netanyahu urges world leaders to act on Iran nuclear deal
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met Wednesday with several heads of state on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, urging them to act to fix the Iran nuclear deal and vowing that Israel would not allow Iran to establish military bases in Syria.

Netanyahu held meetings with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel, Swiss President Alain Berset and Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev.

All five meetings were behind closed doors.

Netanyahu said the meeting with Merkel was “important.”

“We spoke about the nuclear agreement with Iran. I said that in my opinion, the only option at the moment is to introduce real, rather than cosmetic, amendments that will prevent Iran from nuclearization, which is currently guaranteed under the agreement,” Netanyahu said, adding that “I expressed my appreciation for the real commitment of the chancellor to Israel’s security.”

Netanyahu said that Merkel “repeated her commitment and said that she understands our concerns about the nuclear agreement. She does not necessarily agree with the way we want to deal with it….but she understands that it has to do with our concern for something that threatens our very existence, which she is committed to [safeguarding].”

Netanyahu raised the Iran issue at his other meetings too.
JPost Editorial: Pence and peace
It is difficult to imagine a more pro-Israel speech than the one given by US Vice President Mike Pence. What moved more than a few listeners to tears was Pence’s utter lack of cynicism or desire to find favor in the eyes of Israel’s many detractors. Pence spoke from the heart and “words that come from the heart enter the heart,” to paraphrase a verse from Proverbs.

What magnified the impact of Pence’s speech was the simple fact that everything he said was perfectly true.

Israel’s fight with radical Islamic extremism, whether on the West Bank, in Gaza or on the northern border, truly is, as Pence stated, “a battle between right over wrong, good over evil, and liberty over tyranny.”

The formation of America, which was envisioned as an ideal before it was realized in actuality, is strikingly similar to the Exodus story. Both are narratives of people escaping persecution who enter a promised land, bringing with them high moral aspirations. This perception has deep roots in American history. As Pence noted, John Adams, America’s second president, declared that the Jews “have done more to civilize man than any other nation.”

And both the Exodus and the creation of the United States of America are similar to the story of Israel’s formation, which is about the establishment of a free and democratic nation-state for a downtrodden people who had just endured a Holocaust.

At the very outset of Pence’s speech, Israel’s democracy was on display.
MK Oren Hazan disinvited from Dublin meeting with Palestinians
A delegation led by Zionist Union MK Hilik Bar, the head of the Knesset’s two-state caucus, will meet in Dublin next week with a group of Palestinian Authority officials.

The Palestinian delegation will include PA Supreme Shari’a Court Judge Mahmoud Habbash, who is an adviser to PA President Mahmoud Abbas, and former PA ministers Ashraf al Ajrami, Tahani Abu Daqqa, Anwar Abu Eisheh and Samih al Abed.

The MKs going besides Bar are Deputy Finance Minister Yitzhak Cohen (Shas), Akram Hasson (Kulanu) and Saleh Sa’ad (Zionist Union).

The organizers of the meeting from the British organization Forward Thinking invited 10 Likud MKs to attend, but they all said no, except for MK Oren Hazan. When the Palestinians found out Hazan was coming, they threatened to all cancel their participation, so the organization canceled Hazan’s invitation.

“Wow, I am really hurt,” Hazan responded on Twitter. “Please, super-terrorists: Don’t boycott me. Seriously, when Abu Mouse boycotts you, it means one thing – they are s-c-a-r-e-d!”

Bar said the cancellation of Hazan’s participation was unfortunate. He said it was important that right-wing MKs such as Hazan meet the Palestinians, and that the Palestinians meet MKs like him.
Rebuffing Abbas gambit, US says Europe knows it can’t be lead peace broker
European countries do not think they can replace the United States as the main broker of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, a senior White House official said Tuesday, pouring cold water on efforts by Palestinians leader Mahmoud Abbas to court the EU as a replacement for the US.

“There isn’t a single European country or other country we’ve spoken to since the December 6 announcement that in any way, shape or form believes a US-led process could be replaced,” a White House official told reporters during a briefing Tuesday. “They all want to work with the US, despite the Palestinian reaction.”

Since Trump’s Jerusalem decision last month, the Palestinian leadership has refused to meet with US officials on peace talks and has repeatedly said the US can no longer be an honest mediator in the conflict.

While US Vice President Mike Pence was in Israel this week, Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority, snubbed him and instead flew to Brussels trying to woo the European Union to take from Washington its mantle of main sponsor of the peace process.

On Monday, European Union Foreign Policy chief Federica Mogherini said Brussels was ready to take a “central role,” alongside the United States, expanding the international role in mediating between Israel and the Palestinians.

Divided EU Won’t Back Abbas on Palestinian ‘Statehood’
With the U.S. withholding millions in aid to the Palestinians agencies — including UNRWA, the notorious UN body that perpetuates Arab “refugee” status, first created after the Arab invasion of 1948 — Abbas is looking to the Europeans to foot the bill. Abbas, who is in the 12th year of his 4-year-term, also needs hundreds of millions of dollars in foreign ‘aid’ each year to secure the loyalty of his henchmen and armed militia.

The Palestinian Authority, created following the Oslo Accord of 1993, has failed to create any viable economy in the territories it holds. It was turned into a kleptocracy by the arch-terrorist Yasser Arafat and inherited by his Soviet-trained protege Abbas.

“I want to reassure Palestinians and President Abbas of our continued support, including financial,” Mogherini said on Monday. “The EU and its member states are collectively by far the largest donor, the largest supporter for the Palestinians. And our support will continue, including to UNRWA.”

The U.S. and the EU were on a confrontational course and ‘staging a long-distance duel” over Arab-Israeli conflict, commented the German current affairs magazine Der Spiegel. “US Vice President Pence plays up to the Israeli government in Jerusalem, Europeans give a platform to Palestinian President Abbas. The discord sits deep.”

Despite German weekly’s resentful tone, the contrast between the U.S. and the EU couldn’t have been sharper. While Vice President Pence visits a trusted U.S. ally and addresses the Israeli Knesset with a speech steeped in biblical references, the EU top brass embraces the PA-chief Abbas, an unrepentant terrorist, and anti-semite. These divergent affinities are, however, very natural. While the U.S. and Israel are true democracies based on Judeo-Christian values, the EU and the PA are run by unelected apparatchiks and power-grabbers deceiving the very people they purport to represent.

Daniel Pipes: UN inflates Palestinian refugee figures


Daniel Pipes' $1 million offer for "Palestinian refugees"


Security forces thwart terrorist attack in Samaria
Border Police forces on Tuesday thwarted a terrorist attack at Tapuach Junction in Samaria. The terrorists were wounded in the indecent, no injuries were reported among the Israeli troops.

According to available details, the troops, deployed in the area as part of their routine security assignment, spotted two Palestinian teens approaching one of the bus stations at the junction, which is a major West Bank crossroads.

The troops approached the teens, who refused to stop. One border policeman fired a warning shot in the air and in response, one of the teens pulled out a knife and both attempted to rush the bus stop.

The troops then fired at the teen's legs. One suspect sustained minor wounds, while the other suffered moderate injuries. Both were treated at the scene and taken to Rabin Medical Center in Petach Tikva for treatment.
Rivlin: Gaza Strip is on Verge of Collapse Because Hamas is Preventing its Rehabilitation
The infrastructure in the Gaza Strip is crumbling, Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin said during a tour of southern Israel bordering the Hamas-run territory, because the terrorist group is “preventing rehabilitation” of the territory it rules, The Times of Israel reported Sunday.

Rivlin called on the world to recognize “that the ones who are preventing rehabilitation are Hamas.” He added that “Israel is the only one in the region, that whatever the situation, transfers basic essentials to the residents of Gaza, so that they can sustain the body and mind.”

Rivlin’s observations comport with those made by other observers in recent years.

The Times of Israel’s Avi Issacharoff reported in March 2016 on a scheme where Hamas enriched itself using Qatari money that was intended to build homes for Gazans. Although the homes were meant to be free, Hamas charged families $40,000 each, ostensibly to connect utilities, collecting an estimated $38 million to fund its other activities.

Palestinian affairs correspondent Khaled Abu Toameh pointed out a month earlier that Hamas has prioritized building up its terror infrastructure over rebuilding Gazan homes, writing that “the last thing Hamas cares about is the welfare of the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.”
Hamas slams US VP for 'defiling' Al-Aqsa during Western Wall visit
amas on Tuesday denounced U.S. Vice President Mike Pence's visit to the Western Wall in Jerusalem, saying his prayer there "desecrated" a Muslim place of worship.

The Western Wall, the holiest site where Jews can pray, is part of the Temple Mount compound, which also houses Al-Aqsa mosque, the third holiest site in Islam after Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia.

Pence visited the site on the last leg of his Middle East tour. He stood solemnly with his hand on the wall and left a note, as people who pray there traditionally do. In response, the Gaza Strip-based terrorist group said that by praying at the Wall, Pence had "defiled Al-Aqsa with a Jewish ritual."

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said Pence's tour in Israel was "unwelcome." He accused the U.S. of promoting pro-Israel and anti-Palestinian policies, saying that Pence's speech before the Israeli parliament "proves the USA has a strategic alliance with the Zionist entity."

America "doesn't take the interests and requirements of the Islamic and Arab nation into consideration," Haniyeh said.
UN voices ‘deep concern’ over killing of Gaza man by his own family
The UN expressed “deep concern” on Tuesday over the killing of a Gaza man by family members last week over his suspected collaboration with Israel.

The Hamas terror group suspected Ahmed Barhoum aided Israel in killing three of its commanders during the 2014 Gaza war.

In a statement, the UN’s Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights said it “condemns this killing in the strongest terms and reminds the de facto authorities in Gaza of their legally binding obligation to respect and protect the right to life and security of every person in Gaza.”

It called on Gaza’s Hamas leaders “to undertake immediate, full, independent and impartial investigation into this killing in order to bring the perpetrators to justice and to deter further violations of the right to life.”

On Friday, Barhoum’s family said that a relative shot him dead, but did not say which family member pulled the trigger. It said they followed developments in the Hamas investigation and believed their son was guilty.


US urges Lebanon to sever Hezbollah from its financial system
A top US finance official is urging Lebanon to sever links between the Hezbollah terror group and the country’s financial system.

Visiting Lebanon this week, the Treasury Department’s Assistant Secretary for Terrorist Financing Marshall Billingslea “urged Lebanon to take every possible measure to ensure (Hezbollah) is not part of the financial sector,” according to a statement by the US embassy in Beirut cited by Reuters.

The visit came amid a renewed push by the US to disrupt Hezbollah’s sources of income, including its money laundering and drug trafficking activities worldwide.

In his talks with Lebanese officials, Billingslea “stressed the importance of countering Iranian malign activity in Lebanon,” according to the embassy.

Iran is Hezbollah’s political patron and chief source of funding.
Haley: Russia is telling world chemical weapons are okay
US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, responded on Tuesday to reports of chlorine gas being used by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's army against civilians in Eastern Ghouta.

In a statement, Haley said that the reports of chlorine gas being used by the Syrian regime "are yet another demonstration of its blatant disregard for international law and cruel indifference for the lives of its own people."

In November, Russia vetoed the renewal of the Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM), the independent, impartial, technical group unanimously created by the UN Security Council to investigate the perpetrators of chemical weapons attacks in Syria and identify those responsible.

“When Russia killed the JIM, they sent a dangerous message to the world – one that not only said chemical weapons use is acceptable but also that those who use chemical weapons don’t need to be identified or held accountable. If these reports are true, this attack in Syria should weigh heavily on their conscience. The United States will never stop fighting for the innocent Syrian children, women, and men who have become victims of their own government - and those who continue to prop it up,” Haley said.

"I Am Sick of Hijab, Sharia Law, Sharia Police"
In a video, a woman protesting in the streets is seen saying, "You raised your fists and ruined our lives. Now we raise our fists. Be men, join us. I, as a woman, will stand in front and protect you. Come represent your country." Another woman, in a crime punishable by death, courageously chanted against the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Her chants encouraged and prompted men behind her to chant also. These women can be labeled true heroes.

During the protests, in Iran, however, Western feminist groups did not even issue a simple statement of support for these extraordinary women, let alone take any concrete actions to help them.

The Iranian regime brutally cracked down on the protesters. It killed more than 20 people and injured many more. The regime also arrested more than 3,700 people, including young girls and women.

Again, there was not one statement from Western so-called feminists condemning the Iranian regime.

Leila, a young Iranian woman interviewed by the author via Skype, pointed out that, "The regime wants you to think that either there are no protests, or that the protest are solely about the economy. But I am not protesting the economy. Women are protesting the repressive Islamist laws. I am sick of Hijab, Sharia law and Sharia police. Women are sick of the Sharia police monitoring them constantly for what they wear, what they say, what they drink, where they go, and what kind of relationships they have".
EU under fire for meeting with Iranian MP involved in Holocaust denial
A slated Tuesday meeting between the European Parliament and Iran's Aladdin Boroujerdi, chairman of the Committee for Foreign Policy of the Islamic Republic's parliament, sparked outrage because the Iranian MP participated in a conference featuring Holocaust deniers, and for his role in this month's crackdown of Iranian protests against the regime in Tehran.

"Outrageous EP hosts Iranian delegation to talk about climate change, counter-terrorism and trade. Anything but #humanrights and #Iranprotests," Anders Primdahl Vistisen, the co-chair of the European Parliament’s foreign affairs committee, tweeted on Sunday.

The Danish MEP wrote last week on his Twitter feed that it is "shocking" that the EU "will give floor to Chair Foreign Affairs & National Security Committee at Iranian Majlis - key figure of violent crack down on peaceful protests" and that it "holds counter-terrorism seminar with biggest sponsor of terror in region & against own people!"

Vistisen is a member of the Danish People's Party, which is part of the European Conservatives and Reformists group.

Iran's regime allegedly murdered over 20 citizens and incarcerated 3,700 people for protesting in late December and January against the lack of political and economic democracy under the rule of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.
Twelve camels are disqualified from Saudi Arabian beauty contest for using Botox
Twelve camels have been disqualified from an annual Saudi beauty contest after their owners were found to have used Botox.
The animals were ejected from the King Abdulaziz Camel Festival, taking place near Riyadh, for violating strict beauty contest rules.

Cash prizes for camel competitions at the 28-day festival total $57million, so pressure to cheat can be intense.
Twelve camels have been disqualified from the beauty contest at Saudi Arabia's annual King Abdulaziz Camel Festival after their owners used Botox on them

The rules of the beauty contest state that animals found with 'drugs in the lips, shaved, dyed in any parts or with changes from the natural form' are not allowed
The 28-day festival, which takes place just outside Riyadh, has total prize money in excess of $57million so the pressure to succeed is intense

A new handbook was issued to beauty contest entrants last year, Newshub reports.
'Camels that are found with drugs in the lips, shaved, dyed in any parts of the body, or with changes from natural form are not allowed,' the handbook says.

Aside from the beauty contest there are awards for camel racing, obedience training, camel hair art and the best photographs of camels.
Chief judge of the show, Fawzan al-Madi, told Reuters: 'The camel is a symbol of Saudi Arabia.



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