Thursday, February 22, 2018

From Ian:

John Podhoretz: A New Realism: America & Israel in the Trump Era
Of all the surprises of the Trump era, none is more notable than the pronounced shift toward Israel. Such a shift was not predictable from Donald Trump’s conduct on the campaign trail; as he sought the Republican nomination, Trump distinguished himself by his refusal to express unqualified support for Israel and his airy conviction that his business experience gave him unique insight into how to strike “a real-estate deal” to resolve the Israeli–Palestinian conflict. In addition, his isolationist talk alarmed Israel’s friends in the United States and elsewhere if for no other reason than that isolationism, anti-Zionism, and anti-Semitism often go hand in hand in hand.
But shift he did. In the 14 months since his inauguration, the new president has announced that the United States accepts Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and has declared his intention to build a new U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem, first mandated by U.S. law in 1996. He has installed one of his Orthodox Jewish lawyers as the U.S. ambassador and another as his key envoy on Israeli–Palestinian issues. America’s ambassador to the United Nations has not only spoken out on Israel’s behalf forcefully and repeatedly; Nikki Haley has also led the way in cutting the U.S. stipend to the refugee relief agency that is an effective front for the Palestinian terror state in Gaza. And, as Meir Y. Soloveichik and Michael Medved both detail elsewhere in this issue, his vice president traveled to Israel in January and delivered the most pro-Zionist speech any major American politician has ever given.

Part of this shift can also be seen in what Trump has not done. He has not signaled, in interviews or in policy formulations, that the United States views Israeli actions in and around Gaza and the West Bank as injurious to a future peace. And his administration has not complained about Israeli actions taken in self-defense in Lebanon and Syria but has, instead, supported Israel’s right to defend itself.

This marks a breathtaking contrast with the tone and spirit of the relationship between the two countries during the previous administration. The eight Obama years were characterized by what can only be called a gut hostility rooted in the president’s own ideological distaste for the Jewish state.
Benny Morris: The Father of the ‘Special Relationship’
Quite a few celebrities, such as Leonard Bernstein and Edward G. Robinson, passed through Israel/Palestine in 1948 and 1949, especially during the lengthy truces between the bouts of combat in that first Arab–Israeli war. Many of them met with James McDonald, who was President Harry Truman’s first “Special Representative” in Israel and then, from February 1949 until the end of 1950, America’s ambassador. Among the visitors was Arthur Koestler, the Hungarian-born journalist and novelist, who had already lived in and reported from Palestine in the late 1920s and again in 1945. For years, Koestler had identified with the Revisionist Movement (the progenitor of today’s Likud), before growing disillusioned (as was his wont with most things he touched). On September 20, 1948, he arrived on McDonald’s doorstep for “tea and sherry.”
In the fourth volume, just published, of his diary—Envoy to the Promised Land, the Diaries and Papers of James G. McDonald 1948–1951—McDonald characterized the meeting as “delightful and civilized.”1 Koestler avowed that his “chief interest in this country is its intellectual future,” by which he meant its cultural-ideological-political evolution. “He sees three possibilities,” McDonald wrote. “A) Levantinism; b) Clericalism; c) Westernization.” McDonald explained: “By [Levantinism], he means the kind of superficial culture such as is prevalent…in the Arab states with a shallow but non-understanding knowledge of the West. Under [clericalism], he would lump the various possibilities arising from undue rabbinic influence.…[Westernization] is self-explanatory.” Koestler, he said, doubted that would happen. The sabras, native-born Palestinian Jews, had a “limited provincial outlook,” in Koestler’s view, and lacked “knowledge of the West” or “interest in Western Europe.”

In his quiet way, McDonald sprang to the defense, arguing that Israel was “a pioneer country in which it was natural for a generation or two or three [that] the emphasis would be on material development and perhaps rather crude nationalism rather than on culture.” This had been the case with “pioneer America and pioneer South Africa.” Koestler “seemed inclined to agree.” Somewhat contradictorily, McDonald then added that Israel was sui generis, and that all comparisons were unreasonable. What neither he nor Koestler could have foreseen was that Israel would develop simultaneously in all three directions, as it has done in the past seven decades.
Evelyn Gordon: Do Arabs Back Israel in a Clash with Iran?
What Al Jazeera’s informal poll shows is that this argument is simply false. It’s not just in Arab capitals that Iran is now more widely loathed and feared than Israel, but also on the Arab street, to the point that Arabs are even willing to openly back Israel in a clash with Iran. If Israel and its treatment of the Palestinians were still their top concern, they would instead be rooting for Iran against Israel–just as most of the Arab world did back in 2006 when Israel fought a month-long war with Iran’s wholly-owned Lebanese subsidiary, Hezbollah.

This sea change in Arab attitudes has serious foreign policy implications for anyone who calls himself a realist. As John Podhoretz correctly argued in COMMENTARY’s March issue, the realist view that Israel was the source of most Mideast problems could always more properly have been termed “fantasist”; most of the Arab world’s ills have nothing to do with Israel. But realists did have one unassailable fact on their side: When you stack Israel up against the Arab world, the latter has both the numbers and the oil. Consequently, it was at least tenable to argue–as long as you ignore all the other considerations Podhoretz cites–that America’s interests were better served by siding with the Arabs against Israel.

Today, the Arab world still has the numbers and the oil, but it’s siding with Israel against Iran. So for any realist who holds that America should align itself with Arab concerns because numbers and oil are crucial considerations, the top priority now shouldn’t be another fruitless Israeli-Palestinian peace process, but reining in Iran’s malignant behavior. To its credit, that is something the Trump Administration is trying to do by threatening to scrap the nuclear deal unless the four Israeli-Saudi-American concerns cited above are addressed.

As for all the self-proclaimed realists who remain fixated on Israel despite the change in Arab attitudes that has destroyed their main argument, perhaps it’s time to drop the “realist” label. The more accurate term for people who see Jews as the root of all evil under any and all circumstances is “anti-Semite.”



'We are the Canaanites'
Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas told the United Nations Security Council that PA residents are the direct descendants of the Canaanites, claiming that ‘Palestine’ made significant contributions to humanity prior to the 1917 Balfour Declaration.

During his address at the UN Security Council in which he called on the international community to hold a Middle East peace conference, with the goal of launching multilateral negotiations, Abbas claimed that the Arab residents of Judea, Samaria, and Gaza were in fact descended from the ancient Canaanites.

"We are the descendants of the Canaanites who lived in the land of Palestine 5,000 years ago, and continuously remained there to this day. Our great people remains rooted in its land. The Palestinian people built their own cities and homeland, and made contributions to humanity and civilization."

While experts dismiss the “Canaanism” theory as historical revisionism, since the Canaanites, pagans who sacrificed their children to the idol Moloch, have long disappeared, Abbas has made the claim on multiple occasions in the past. Other Palestinian Arabs have claimed to be descendants of the Jebusites who held Jerusalem until King David's time, although it is a historic fact that Arabs actually arrived in Israel in the 7th century C.E.

In January, Abbas claimed that 5,000 years ago the Levant was inhabited by “Arab Canaanites” – whom he said were the ancestors of today’s Palestinian Arabs.
HR Visits Palestinian President Abbas at the UN


PMW: Antisemitic Fatah op-ed: Shakespeare`s Shylock was an accurate description of the Jews
The author of an op-ed published on the website of Fatah's Information and Culture Commission in Lebanon recently stated that Shakespeare was accurate in his antisemitic description of the Jews as seen in his character Shylock from the play The Merchant of Venice:

"While Britain's colonialist history is full of people like [former British Foreign Secretary Arthur] Balfour, [Baron] Rothschild, [former British Prime Minister] Tony Blair, and [British Prime Minister] Theresa May, the greatest playwright William Shakespeare correctly described the deceitful, greedy, trickster, extortionist, and lowly character of the Jews in the story The Merchant of Venice in the 16th century."
[Falestinona, website of Fatah's Information and Culture Commission in Lebanon, Jan. 31, 2018]

In the play, the Jewish character Shylock is a sly moneylender who demands that a debtor repay him with a pound of flesh, before later being defeated and forced to convert to Christianity.

This is not the first time Palestinians have expressed antisemitic views by comparing Shakespeare's fictitious Jewish character Shylock with actual Jews and others.

A columnist in the official PA daily described Israeli PM Netanyahu as a "modern Shylock," and a journalist on official PA TV stated that "Israel is a state that seizes opportunities in the style of Shylock."

Recently, US President Trump was criticized in an op-ed in the official PA daily for his recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital and accused of choosing "the model of Shylock - the American Shylock, in the style of the Jewish Shylock." [Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Dec. 23, 2017]
PMW: "Palestine is My Valentine," PA Security Forces spokesman erases all of Israel
Official Spokesman of the PA Security Forces Adnan Al-Damiri exploited the occasion of Valentine's Day to promote the Palestinian Authority's map of "Palestine" that presents all of Israel as "Palestine" together with the PA areas. In Al-Damiri's Valentine version of the map, "Palestine" was made out of hearts.
English text on image: "Palestine is My Valentine"
[Facebook page of Official Spokesman of the PA Security Forces Adnan Al-Damiri, Feb. 14, 2018]

Palestinian Media Watch has documented the PA and Fatah's extensive and sole use of this map that denies the existence of Israel. Among PA officials often seen handing out plaques with the PA map of "Palestine" are PA Minister of Education Sabri Saidam, Secretary of the Fatah Central Committee Jibril Rajoub, and Governor of Ramallah Laila Ghannam.
Peter Dutton confirms Israel helped Australia stop 'airliner terror attack'
Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton has confirmed Israel helped Australian authorities thwart an alleged plot to blow up an airliner flying out of Sydney last year.

His comments followed remarks by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday that Israeli intelligence services had prevented the downing of an "Australian airliner" as part of wide-ranging international intelligence-sharing.
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Referring to the case last July of an alleged plot to bring down an Etihad Airways plane, Mr Dutton confirmed Israel had provided the original tip-off to Australian intelligence officials.

"I can confirm it. In doing so I want to thank the Israelis very much. Obviously we've got a very close working relationship with them," he told Sky News on Thursday.

"We did get intelligence advice from Israel and it meant ASIO then reached out to other partners and, with all of the information packaged together, it resulted in arrests. I think the Federal Police, if you look at the intricate detail of what took place, did an exceptional job of dealing with that threat."
Israel proves the NRA's arguments
Newsweek praised Israel for obligating its citizens to "show genuine cause to carry a firearm, such as self-defense or hunting". The message is clear: Israel has the right approach in curtailing access to firearms, and the United States would be well advised to tread the same path.

In reality, Israel's gun policy is living proof of the arguments the American gun lobby has been making for years.

Gun rights advocates contend that the way to stop mass shootings is by ensuring that there are always well-armed citizens present who can neutralize the shooter. As NRA chairman Wayne Lapierre always says, "The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun". A bedrock of the NRA's philosophy is that criminals will always acquire guns illegally, and draconian gun laws only render law-abiding citizens defenseless.

Enter Israel: When the knife intifada erupted in September 2015, the Israeli government's response was to ease the process for the civilian populace to obtain weapons. After a particularly bloody Jerusalem shooting attack that killed four, then-Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan drastically changed the gun laws in order to significantly raise the number of armed civilians on the streets. Instantly, graduates of Special Forces units and IDF officers with the rank of Lieutenant and above were permitted to purchase guns at their will, security guards were allowed to bring their guns home after work, and the minimum age for a license was reduced from 21 to 18.

Erdan explained that "civilians well trained in the use of weapons provide reinforcement in the struggle against terrorism", while Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat called for every resident to carry a gun, and was even photographed traveling the city carrying a Glock 23.

In addition, the overwhelming majority of terror attacks in Israel are stopped by armed civilians, not law enforcement. For example, the terrorists in the 2016 Sarona market attack were stopped by armed passersby. A pistol-carrying tour guide put an end to the 2017 ramming attack in Arnona that left four soldiers dead.

In Israeli eyes, guns are a valuable deterrent against terrorism. In fact, terrorists have told the Shin Bet internal security service that they often target haredi Jews due to the high likelihood that they are unarmed.
Al Jazeera Spy Operation on U.S. Jews Sparks Congressional Investigation
A bipartisan team of lawmakers is urging the Trump administration to launch an investigation into the Qatari-funded news outlet Al Jazeera, which the Washington Free Beacon recently disclosed had carried out a secret, months-long spy operation on American Jews and supporters of Israel, according to a draft copy of congressional correspondence obtained by this publication.

Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D., N.J.) and Lee Zeldin (R., N.Y.) are circulating a letter to their congressional colleagues urging them to back an effort demanding the Trump administration's Department of Justice open an investigation into Al Jazeera's recent spy operation. The lawmakers argue that in light of this and other efforts by the Middle Eastern news network it should register as a foreign agent under U.S. law.

Such a designation under the Foreign Agents Registration Act, or FARA, would show Al Jazeera is under the thumb of the Qatari government, which funds its operations, and not an independent news organization, as it claims to be.

The Free Beacon first reported last week that Congress is actively working to see Al Jazeera designated under FARA following a secret effort last year to spy on the American Jewish community as part of a documentary it claims will expose Jewish control of the media.

Al Jazeera has been sending letters to a slew of Jewish organizations and pro-Israel individuals asking them to comment on what appears to be secret recordings that the news outlet claims confirms Jewish meddling in foreign affairs.

Al Jazeera's actions are being viewed as tantamount to a foreign-funded spy operation on U.S. citizens conducted on American soil. In light of this spy effort, Gottheimer and Zeldin are seeking support for an effort to force Al Jazeera to register as a foreign agent under FARA.
US congressmen briefly questioned after Temple Mount visit
Two US congressmen were briefly questioned by Israeli police officers during a visit to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem Thursday morning.

According to police, the Republican lawmakers were asked by officers guarding the site if they had removed anything from the volatile holy site.

“The issue was quickly clarified and the congressman continued their visit according to plan,” police said in an English-language statement. “They were not detained or arrested.”

In a video uploaded online, tour guide Avi Abelow said Scott Tipton of Colorado and David McKinley of West Virginia were stopped for taking a branch from an olive tree from the compound.

He said the Waqf, a Jordan-based organization that administers the Temple Mount, had alerted police to the congressmen’s infraction, which is governed by a delicate status quo.

Tipton and McKinley’s week-long visit to Israel was being hosted jointly hosted by Evangelical group Proclaiming Justice to the Nations and a pro-Israel group called Yes to a Strong Israel.
Congressional candidate distances self from Munich terrorist grandfather
The grandson of the Palestinian terrorist who helped mastermind the Munich massacre has publicly distanced himself from his family’s violent past as he gears up for the final months of campaigning for his bid for Congress in California.

Ammar Campa-Najjar announced his candidacy in in California’s District 50 last year in the hopes of unseating the longtime Republican representative in the 2018 midterm elections. But the legacy of his grandfather, whom he never met, could be the greatest challenge to his political career.

The 28-year-old San Diego native is the grandson of Muhammad Yousef al-Najjar, a senior member of the Palestinian terrorist group Black September that murdered 11 Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics.

In an interview with Israel’s Haaretz daily this week, Campa-Najjar rejected his grandfather’s actions as “horrific,” saying there was “never justification for killing innocent civilians.”

“As an American citizen living in the 21st century, I will never be able to understand or condone the actions and motivations of my grandfather,” he told the paper.

Najjar was assassinated in Beruit by an Israeli commando force in 1973 in retaliation for the attack.
US court forbids seizure of Persian artifacts by Jerusalem bomb victims
The US Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled that Americans injured in a 1997 suicide bombing in Jerusalem cannot seize ancient Persian artifacts from a Chicago museum to satisfy a $71.5 million court judgment against Iran, which they had accused of complicity in the attack.

The justices, in an 8-0 ruling, upheld a lower court decision in favor of Iran that had prevented the plaintiffs from collecting on the judgment, which Tehran has not paid, by obtaining antiquities held at the University of Chicago's Oriental Institute. The important Persian cultural artifacts, on loan to the museum since the 1930s, include clay tablets boasting some of the oldest writing in the world.

Justice Elena Kagan did not participate in the decision.

The decision could make it harder for plaintiffs in other cases arising from militant attacks overseas to seek compensation by seizing and selling off cultural relics owned by foreign countries.

The case required the Supreme Court to determine what types of assets are immune from seizure under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act. That 1976 federal law largely shields foreign governments from liability in American courts, except for countries like Iran that have been designated by the US government as state sponsors of terrorism.

Iran is one of several countries and organizations ordered by US courts to pay damages in similar cases, though such orders have been difficult to enforce.
Muslim first responder eulogizes soldier killed on Highway 6
Muawia Kabha was the first responder at the fatal car accident on Highway 6 on February 13th that claimed the lives of three Golani soldiers. Kabha, who is Muslim, is a United Hatzalah volunteer paramedic. He had been driving his car home and was passing the Nizzane Oz interchange on Highway 6 when United Hatzalah’s dispatch and command center notified him about the tragic accident.

Kabha immediately turned his car around and headed to the scene of the accident which was nearby. He arrived at the scene in less than three minutes and treated many of the soldiers for their injuries. In addition to the two soldiers who were pronounced dead at the scene, ten others were injured. Among them was Sgt. Shiloh Siman Tov, who had been critically injured but was still conscious when Kabha got to him. Kabha provided emergency first aid treatment to Shiloh and had a short conversation with him, prior to his being transported to the hospital via helicopter.

Six days later, Shiloh Siman Tov succumbed to his injuries.

Kabha wrote a letter about his thoughts after the incident. In the letter he wrote:
“My heart weeps. It is hard to believe that we only met once and it was only for a few minutes while you were lying on Highway 6 a few days ago between broken pieces of a hummer and unable to help yourself. You were lying there, between broken pieces of metal that hampered your movement, with your wounds further immobilizing you. It is hard to believe that one moment of carelessness brought down a hero such as yourself.
David Horovitz: Why the choice between Netanyahu and the rule of law is no choice at all
Is Israel going to drum out a skilled PM for a few piffling infractions? Well, it might, but they may not be piffling, and the framers of our laws ensured it won't be done lightly
Toward the end of a panel discussion in which I participated on Tuesday evening, organized by American Jewish leaders on a mission to Jerusalem, a member of the audience asked us whether we realized how lacking in self-awareness Israel currently seems to many of its supporters overseas, as it apparently moves to hound out of office a highly effective prime minister for alleged bribery offenses involving piffling sums.

The $300,000 or so in total that Netanyahu and wife Sara is alleged to have received in cigars, champagne and other goodies from billionaire friends Arnon Milchan and James Packer, the questioner scoffed at our session of the annual gathering in Jerusalem of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, is so insignificant it could be regarded as a rounding-off number.

Over such a sum, he asked in outraged bafflement, Israel was going to lose a leader uniquely capable of keeping the country safe and thriving? (h/t Elder of Lobby)
PreOccupiedTerritory: Netanyahu Offered Bribe To Haaretz Publisher To Keep Up Antagonistic Coverage (satire)
New revelations continued to rock Israel’s political scene today as allegations emerged that the embattled prime minister had proposed an illegal payment and other possible benefits to the publisher of a prominent newspaper known for its opposition to his policies, in exchange for maintaining its editorial line, opposition that has served to cement the premier’s political position among voters.

Police announced this morning (Thursday) they are investigating reports that Binyamin Netanyahu ordered a subordinate to contact Haaretz publisher Amos Schocken with an offer to grease certain regulatory wheels in the paper’s favor and to contribute to the coffers of the publication, whose share of the print news market in recent years has shrunk below four percent. No immediate clarification was available on whether Schocken accepted the offer.

The episode marks another potential bombshell in an ongoing series of scandals and corruption allegations against Netanyahu, which have come to a head in the last week and thrown the political picture into upheaval. Police recommended indictment on two of the many open cases, and new allegations arose Tuesday after a High Court justice disclosed the offer of a prestigious position by an Netanyahu confidant in late 2015 in exchange for declining to pursue a case against the prime minister’s wife Sara. It remained unclear Thursday why the judge and a colleague aware of the offer waited until now to reveal the incident.

Netanyahu’s alleged collusion with a publisher has precedent in previous charges that the premier attempted to arrange positive coverage by the daily Yediot Aharonot. Yediot appears not to have altered its antagonism toward the prime minister as a result of the alleged offer. In the case of Haaretz, however, the object of the alleged offer would be to maintain or augment the oppositional tone of the paper’s analysis, editing, and opinion toward Netanyahu, with the strategic aim of depicting his political rivals as deranged, obsessed, and dangerous, given the affinity between them and Haaretz.
Israeli youth handball teams in Qatar spark social media outcry
The presence of Israeli teams at a youth handball tournament in Doha that started Thursday has sparked calls on social media for Qataris to withdraw their children from the competition.

Israel sent a boys’ team and a girls’ team to the Handball World School Championship, a biannual international tournament for students aged 15 to 18, played since the early 1970s.

It is not the first time Israeli athletes have competed in Qatar, but their participation has brought renewed scrutiny to Doha’s foreign policy eight months into a diplomatic crisis with its Arab neighbours.

On Twitter, users claiming to be Qataris accused Doha of trying to normalize relations with Israel.

“I ask all parents to withdraw their children and prevent them from participating in this normalization of relations,” one user wrote in Arabic.

“Now it is the time to speak to your children about Palestine.”
JCPA: Turkey Embraces Hamas
Israel has been closely monitoring the connections between Turkey and the Hamas movement since the violent incident on the Turkish convoy ship Marmara in May 2010, when the close contacts between Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the then-chairman of Hamas’ political bureau Khaled Mashal were first revealed.

The Justice and Development Party, led by Erdogan, is an offshoot of the international Muslim Brotherhood, which is also the inspiration for Hamas. Though Hamas announced that it cut ties with this movement, its contacts still continue. Hamas lowered its profile regarding its connection with the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt in order to make an approach to President Sisi’s regime to ease the closure of the Gaza Strip. Yet, it continues to be in contact with branches of the Muslim Brotherhood around the world. Quite simply, Hamas is playing a double game.
Hamas Transfers Funds to the West Bank via Turkey

Israel’s General Security Service (GSS) officially announced on February 12, 2018, that Hamas had been transferring funds to its activists in the West Bank via Turkey. Large sums were involved, to the tune of millions of dollars.

From GSS’ research, it had emerged that Saleh al-Arouri, deputy chairman of the Hamas political bureau and head of Hamas’ office in Turkey before being expelled when Turkey and Israel signed a reconciliation treaty, continues to pull strings. This, despite his recent relocation to the Hizbullah stronghold in the neighborhood of Dahiya in Beirut, Lebanon, where he serves as the liaison between the Hamas leadership and Iran.
Hamas: Turkey's Longtime Love
Despite the nominal 'normalization' of diplomatic relations between Turkey and Israel, Ankara is still fully supporting a terrorist organization -- one that Washington, among others, lists as terrorist. The Shin Bet's report, the Istanbul conference and its contents, the official Turkish support for that conference and Turkish Foreign Ministry's explicit support of Hamas make new evidence that Turkey insists on siding ideologically with a terrorist organization -- ironically at a time when Erdogan claims Turkish troops are fighting terrorists in Syria.

In 2014, Turkey hosted Salah al-Arouri, a Hamas commander whom the Palestinian Authority had accused of planning multiple attacks against Israeli targets. At that time, the newspaper Israel Hayom called Turkey's important guest "an infamous arch-terrorist believed to be responsible for dozens of attacks against Israelis".

In August 2014, speaking at the World Conference of Islamic Sages in Turkey, Arouri admitted that Hamas had instigated the "heroic action carried out by the al-Qassam Brigades [the military wing of Hamas], which captured three settlers in Hebron." The "heroic action" consisted of Hamas operatives kidnapping and murdering three teenage boys, an incident that triggered the spiral of violence that led to the 50-day war in Gaza.

In December 2014, a Hamas leader confirmed that his organization was using NATO member Turkey as a refuge for logistics, training and planning terrorist attacks. The same month, then-Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu hosted the chief at that time of Hamas's political bureau, Khaled Mashaal, at a high-profile party congress in Konya, Central Turkey. Taking the stage at the event, Mashaal congratulated the Turkish people "for having [President Recep Tayyip] Erdogan and Davutoglu." His remarks were received passionately, with thunderous applause, the waving of Palestinian flags and thousands of party fans shouting, "Down with Israel!".
Expert: Russia’s Condemnation of Iran’s Anti-Israel Threats Shows Kremlin Sees Jewish State as the ‘Main Actor’ in Region
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has condemned a top Iranian official’s threat to destroy Tel Aviv and kill Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a move that an Israeli expert sees as proof that Russia now considers Israel the “main actor” in the region.

On Sunday, Netanyahu spoke at the Munich Security Conference. following the infiltration of an Iranian drone into Israeli territory. Brandishing a piece of the downed drone, he warned Iran “do not test Israel’s resolve.”

In response, Mohsen Rezaei — a former head of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, which has been sanctioned by the US for terrorist activity — said on Monday, “About Netanyahu’s unwise words, I should say that if they carry out the slightest unwise move against Iran, we will level Tel Aviv to the ground” and not “give Netanyahu any opportunity to flee.”

Later on Monday, in a speech given at the Valdai International Discussion Club, Lavrov appeared to respond to Rezaee, saying, “We have stated many times that we won’t accept the statements that Israel, as a Zionist state, should be destroyed and wiped off the map. I believe this is an absolutely wrong way to advance one’s own interests.”
Secret Obama-Era Deal With Iran Derails Key Sanctions on Iran’s Propaganda Network
The Trump administration waived key sanctions on Iran's main propaganda network last month, causing outrage among Iranian dissidents and administration insiders who tracked the effort to a little known Obama-era side deal with Iran that bars these sanctions from being implemented, according to multiple sources who spoke to the Washington Free Beacon.

The Trump administration, in an unpublicized move, waived sanctions on Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting, or IRIB, a satellite service that disseminates propaganda across Iran and routinely censors content. Iranian dissidents who took to the streets in a renewed wave of protests had called on the Trump administration to sanction the IRIB in a bid to prevent the Iranian regime from crushing the latest protests.

While the Trump administration had initially promised to issue new sanctions on the IRIB, the State Department blocked the effort due to a little-known agreement reached between the Obama administration and Iran during the sensitive negotiations that led to the landmark nuclear agreement.

The Free Beacon first reported on this secret agreement last month, when several lawmakers on Capitol Hill disclosed that they were working to unearth details about this agreement barring new sanctions on the IRIB, which has been working to censor content that Iran believes would fuel further dissatisfaction with the ruling regime.
US National Security Adviser Warns Companies: Don’t Do Business With Iran
Companies should avoid doing business with Iran for fear of inadvertently subsidizing terrorism, National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster said this past weekend.

In his speech at the Munich Security Conference in Germany, McMaster cited the power of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, which has been sanctioned by the US for involvement in terrorism.

The IRGC wields considerable political and economic influence in the Islamic Republic.

“When you invest in Iran, you’re investing in the IRGC,” McMaster said. “You might as well cut the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps a check and say, ‘Please use this to commit more murder across the Middle East.’”

Since the signing of the Iran nuclear deal in 2015, international sanctions have been lifted and many business and countries have shown interest in investing in Iran.

McMaster noted, “When we look at the biggest trading partners with Iran, we of course see Russia, we see China. But we also see Japan, South Korea, and Germany. It’s time to focus business intelligence efforts to figure out who we are really doing business with and cut off funding.”
Iran Threatens to Withdraw From Nuclear Deal if Banks Continue to Stay Away
Iran will withdraw from the 2015 nuclear deal if there is no economic benefit and major banks continue to shun the Islamic Republic, its deputy foreign minister said on Thursday.

Under the deal with Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States, Iran agreed to restrict its nuclear program in return for the removal of sanctions that had crippled its economy.

Despite that, big banks have continued to stay away for fear of falling foul of remaining US sanctions — something that has hampered Iran’s efforts to rebuild foreign trade and lure investment.

Adding to those concerns, US President Donald Trump told the Europeans on Jan. 12 they must agree to “fix the terrible flaws of the Iran nuclear deal” or he would reimpose the sanctions Washington lifted as part of that pact.

But even if Trump relents and issues fresh “waivers” to continue suspending those sanctions, the existing situation is unacceptable for Iran, Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi said.

“The deal would not survive this way even if the ultimatum is passed and waivers are extended,” Araqchi, Iran‘s lead nuclear negotiator, said in a speech at the Chatham House think tank in London.
IDF Blog: Teaching a Champion
Antônio Rodrigo Nogueira, better known as Minotauro is a retired Brazilian mixed martial arts fighter. This UFC champion had the opportunity to train with IDF Krav Maga instructors at the Wingate Institute, a base where IDF soldiers train and learn a variety of sports including Krav Maga, a type of martial arts that focuses on self-defense.

Minotauro first watched an IDF instructor train soldiers in the art of Krav Maga. Later, he joined the training and learned Krav Maga with all of the soldiers.

"The Krav Maga is a lovely form of martial arts, very fast, you can use it in your daily life for self-defense," explained the UFC champion. "Martial arts serve not only to protect yourself. Those who practice martial arts are more confident and calm. It can change your attitude and teaches you to respect. It is very useful for your life."

"It's a nice country with good people. The treatment has been very good and I have felt welcomed since we arrived," said Nogueira after finishing the training. "I was very curious about the martial arts and since we arrived, we saw not only Krav Maga, but also a nice country, beach, and very calm and friendly people.”



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

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