Monday, March 12, 2018

From Ian:

Israel isn't the epicenter of the violent storm that engulfs the Mideast
Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the United Nations, made several critical observations in her address to the AIPAC Policy Conference last week, but one that rang particularly true was her assessment of Israel’s role in the Middle East.

“There are probably 10 major problems facing the Middle East,” Haley said, “and Israel doesn’t have anything to do with any of them.” And yet every month at the UN Security Council’s gathering devoted to the Middle East, the “session becomes an Israel- bashing session.”

Instead of singling out the only Jewish state for obsessive condemnation, Haley suggested the UNSC focus on the real pathologies of the Middle East, such as “Iran or Syria or Hezbollah, Hamas, ISIS [Islamic State], the famine in Yemen.”

Of all the policy myths that have kept us from recognizing the true nature of conflict in the blood-soaked region, one stands out for its fatality and perpetuation: the idea that if only the Israeli-Palestinian conflict were solved, all the other deep-rooted quandaries facing the Middle East would magically disappear.

The “Arab Spring” revolt that swept across the region should have destroyed the “linkage” dogma once and for all – what happened in Syria, Libya, Egypt and Tunisia had nothing to do with Israel – and yet the myth that the Arab world resolves around the Israeli-Palestinian conflict lives on.

I invite you on a quick tour of the greater Middle East. The industrial-scale killing machine of the Assad regime in Syria, sustained by Iran and Russia? Unrelated to the ailing Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

Yemen on the brink of starvation? Nothing to do with the Jewish state. The power struggle between Sunnis and Shi’ites that rips apart entire countries? No. The rise of Islamic State? All unrelated.

PMW: International Women’s Day or Women’s Terror Day?
“Sisters of Dalal” (Fatah’s women’s committee in Palestinian universities) gave out cards at An-Najah National University:
"In honor of March 8 [International Women's Day] And in honor of the soul of the Martyr of March Dalal Mughrabi Surround yourself with great things And ignore those who do not believe in you, As you are half of the universe and even more"
Text on Fatah Shabiba's logo on card: "From the sea of blood of the Martyrs we will create a state"

Shabiba, Fatah’s student movement, and its female students’ committee “Sisters of Dalal,” named after female terrorist murderer Dalal Mughrabi, saw International Women’s Day as an appropriate time to glorify Mughrabi, who led the most lethal attack in Israel's history: The Coastal Road massacre in which Palestinian terrorists murdered 12 children and 25 adult Israeli civilians.

At An-Najah University, the "Sisters of Dalal" gave out cards to female workers and students to celebrate Women's Day. Text on the card honored murderer Mughrabi and encouraged women to believe in themselves:
"In honor of March 8 [International Women's Day] And in honor of the soul of the Martyr of March Dalal Mughrabi Surround yourself with great things And ignore those who do not believe in you, As you are half of the universe and even more"
[Facebook page of the Fatah Shabiba Student Movement at An-Najah National University, March 7, 2018]

The card bore the symbol of Fatah's Shabiba branch at An-Najah University, which Palestinian Media Watch has reported includes text encouraging youth to seek Martyrdom-death:
UN Palestinian Refugee Aid Agency Called Out for Hypocrisy of Women’s Rights Tweet
The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) was called out on Twitter on Sunday for hypocrisy on the issue of women’s rights.

UNRWA initially tweeted, “In 2017, over 80,000 Palestine refugee community members were engaged in awareness-raising on gender equality and Gender Based Violence through various UNRWA-run activities.”

In response, the Geneva-based monitoring NGO UN Watch tweeted:

Netanyahu: I Have ‘Chemistry’ With Trump; Jerusalem Recognition Will Be Remembered ‘For the Ages’
In a wide-ranging interview with Fox News that aired on Sunday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he had “a certain chemistry” with President Donald Trump, and hailed Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and move the American embassy there from Tel Aviv.

Netanyahu visited the US last week to meet with Trump and speak at the annual AIPAC convention.

Asked by host Mark Levin if he had a “unique and personal” relationship with Trump, Netanyahu replied, “It is. It began that way, that’s the way it began. Just like that.”

Levin queried Netanyahu if he and Trump held shared beliefs. “Yeah, I think so,” Netanyahu responded. “But there’s also a certain chemistry.”

In particular, the prime minister pointed to Trump’s direct style. “I mean, the president likes to cut through the — I don’t want to call it noise — there are two initials in English, you know? He just cuts right through it. And it’s refreshing. When we talk about serious things he gets right to the point. And I appreciate that,” Netanyahu stated.

The prime minister noted that his acquaintance with Trump went back several decades. “I also remember him when I was ambassador of Israel to the United Nations,” Netanyahu recalled, “and he was a very prominent businessman in New York and we occasionally sort of bumped [into each other] in the same circles, but we met years later and it’s been a direct and very positive relationship from the get go.”
Netanyahu opens up about his history with America

Time Is Ticking But The Clock Hasn't Stopped To End Iran Deal, Says Israeli PM
Netanyahu discussed his disagreements with President Obama, over which the prime minister said there were many. But, Netanyahu said “the biggest disagreement was Iran.”

“The disagreement was this: The nuclear deal, as structured, basically takes away the constraints on Iran’s nuclear program by a date certain. Iran can do anything it wants in the interim, it can conquer countries, which exactly is what they’re doing, and they’ll still get the removal of these limitations. I said, look, make sure, don’t remove these restrictions until Iran changes its behavior,” Netayahu said.

Netanyahu continued, “In other words, condition the lifting of those restrictions not on a change of calendar but a change of behavior, that’s essentially what I said in the U.S. Congress. That was rejected at the time because people said I was stopping, I was bringing war. I wasn’t bringing war, war is coming to us as a result of the fact that Iran is out of its cage. That’s what’s happening right now. And I think it’s time. Still time to stop Iran, to put restrictions back on, to say you have to change.”
Netanyahu Confesses His Thoughts About America In One Word -- And It Says Everything
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday night if he could describe America in one word, it would be “freedom.”

“What is it about America that you find so profound and so compelling? You spend a lot of time here,” host Mark Levin asked Netanyahu during a Fox News interview Sunday.

Netanyahu responded that he would describe America as “freedom.”

“Well, I think, in one word, freedom. Freedom. Because I think that America has been the vanguard of freedom, and without the United States of America, you wouldn’t have freedom in the world, and freedom is what makes life worth living. Freedom, innovation, informality,” Netanyahu said.

“The fact that America is a meritocracy, okay? It’s not a class society. If you’re good, if you have the smarts and the ambition, you can do it, and this is a message for everybody. At least it should be. That’s the way I see America, that’s what I encountered in America and I thought should be brought to Israel and in many ways, it influenced my thinking certainly on the questions of the economy and innovation. Because I saw great things, but there’s something else, that anybody could tell if you they’re objective about it,” Netanyahu continued.
Full Episode Unofficial Source: LIFE, LIBERTY & LEVIN 03/11/2018

Nearly finished US peace plan won’t call for two-state solution — report
US President Donald Trump’s peace plan is nearly finished and the White House intends to present to the proposal soon, The New York Times reported Sunday.

Likening the plan to the Israeli-developed GPS app Waze — which allows users to bypass traffic jams — one senior US official told the paper that the “ultimate deal” would prevent both sides from falling into the traps that have sunk most other peace proposals.

Officials said the administration was putting finishing touches on the plan.

While the three senior officials interviewed for the article declined to provide the details of the proposal, they told The New York Times that it would not have a set of broad guiding principles as previous plans have been known to contain.

Instead, the document is said to provide specific solutions to the main issues of borders, security, refugees and the status of Jerusalem.

The officials anticipated that Israelis and Palestinians would accept some parts of the plan while rejecting others.
JPost Editorial: AIPAC’s mission
AIPAC CEO Howard Kohr came under attack after he spoke out in favor of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict at the organization’s annual conference in Washington last week. A number of right-wing leaders and columnists, including several who write regularly for this paper, have criticized Kohr.

Frankly, the backlash is surprising. Reading the criticism, one could easily reach the mistaken conclusion that Kohr, who has served as executive director of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee since 1996, is steering the most successful Jewish lobbying group in the US in a decidedly left-wing direction.

In reality, Kohr was simply fulfilling AIPAC’s mission, which is to foster ties between Israel and the US by emphasizing the two countries’ shared values and policy positions. And support for a two-state solution happens to be the stated policy objective of both the US under the Trump administration and of Israel’s government under the leadership of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Most famously, Netanyahu supported a two-state solution in his 2009 Bar-Ilan University speech. In that speech, Netanyahu stated unequivocally that he supported creating a “demilitarized Palestinian state that would recognize the Jewish state.”

US President Donald Trump has also stated on several occasions that he supports a two-state solution, provided both Israel and the Palestinians agree to it. He did so during Netanyahu’s first visit to the White House last year. He reiterated his position during his December 6 speech in which he announced the US recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Trump said, “The US remains deeply committed to facilitating a peace agreement... the US would support a twostate solution if agreed to by both sides.”
J’lem mum on Putin's remarks on possible Jewish meddling in U.S. elections
Jerusalem had no formal response on Sunday to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s comments broadcast on Saturday saying Jews might have been behind alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 US Presidential election, even as American Jewish organizations criticized Putin for his remarks.

Neither the Prime Minister’s Office nor the Foreign Ministry would respond Sunday to the comments, apparently because of the extreme sensitivity of the relations with Russia, which currently has military forces stationed in Syria to prop up the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks regularly to Putin, travels to Russia to meet Putin about twice a year, and says he has developed a special relationship with the Russian president.

Putin, in the NBC interview, said he “couldn’t care less” if Russian citizens tried to meddle in the US elections, and suggested that Jews, Ukrainians or Tartars, often a Russian euphemism for Muslims, might be responsible for the meddling.
EXCLUSIVE – Israeli Leader Moshe Feiglin: Time for Israel to Annex West Bank, Gaza Strip
It is time for Israel to formally abandon the so-called two-state solution as well as the concept of a Palestinian state and instead push for the complete Israeli annexation of the West Bank and retaking of the Gaza Strip, Israeli politician Moshe Feiglin contended.

Feiglin is chairman of Israel’s Zehut Party and a former Likud Knesset Member.

In a wide-ranging interview, broadcast Sunday on this reporter’s weekend talk radio program, “Aaron Klein Investigative Radio,” Feiglin outlined a three point plan for Israel to “annex the total territory between the Mediterranean and the Jordan river.”

He was referring to Israel asserting full sovereignty over Judea and Samaria – territories commonly called the West Bank – as well as the annexation of the Gaza Strip.

There have been attempts within Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud Party to pass legislation calling for Israeli annexation. According to reports, however, Netanyahu asked lawmakers to put those plans on hold until the Trump administration unveils its forthcoming blueprint for Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.

Feiglin blamed Netanyahu and the right-wing in Israel for “failing” to propose a viable alternative to the two-state solution.

“The only reason that the Trump government will go to that concept of a two-state solution is because of Israel,” Feiglin posited.
Trump administration backs PLO in terror lawsuit, angering conservatives
The Trump administration sided with the Palestine Liberation Organization in a terrorism lawsuit the Supreme Court may soon consider, drawing an angry rebuke from conservatives, including one of its most steadfast Jewish community defenders, the Zionist Organization of America.

In 2015, a federal jury in Manhattan ruled in favor of American victims injured in six terror attacks that occurred in Israel in 2002-2004, handing down a $656 million decision against the PLO. An appellate court overturned that decision a year later.

Solicitor General Noel Francisco supported the appellate court’s finding in a Supreme Court filing last month, mostly on technical grounds.

The Trump administration’s argument “hurts the American terror victims, aids and comforts terrorists, and makes them less concerned about facing consequences for their hideous actions,” said a March 7 statement by Morton Klein, the ZOA president, and Susan Tuchman, the director of the ZOA’s Center for Law and Justice.

The Supreme Court will say by March 29 whether it will consider the appeal by the litigants in the case, known as Sokolow v. Palestine Liberation Organization.

The lead plaintiff, Mark Sokolow, told JTA in an interview that he was shocked by the solicitor general’s filing. He noted that the Obama administration had intervened on behalf of the PLO in 2015, persuading the District Court to substantially lower the bond — usually the equivalent of the judgment, in this case $656 million — which allowed the PLO the resources to file its appeal.

The Obama administration argued then that the award would cripple the ability of the Palestinian Authority to function, which would pose a risk to U.S. interests in the region.
In first, Israel uses drones to drop tear gas on Gaza protesters — report
Israel used an unmanned aerial vehicle to drop tear gas on Palestinian rioters along the Gaza security fence on Friday, according to a Lebanese media outlet, in what would be the first reported use of a drone for this purpose.

Dozens of Palestinians took part in the weekly demonstration along the fence in the southern Gaza Strip on Friday.

Footage from al-Mayadeen, which is seen as sympathetic to the Hezbollah terrorist group, showed the Israeli drone apparently dropping canisters of tear gas on the protesters, who could then be seen running from the scene.

A spokesperson for the Israel Defense Forces said the UAV was not operated by the army but by the Border Police. She directed further questions to them.
PreOccupiedTerritory: Hamas Demands Israel Open Airspace To Missiles From Gaza (satire)
Recent development in Middle East air traffic have prompted leaders of the militant movement that governs this coastal territory to charge Israel with hypocrisy over insisting El Al be granted the same rights to overfly Saudi Arabia to and from Israel as Air India is slated to receive, while denying missiles from Gaza free access to Israeli airspace.

Hamas spokesman Mahmoud al-Zahar lambasted “Zionist perfidy and hypocrisy” in a speech this morning, calling the attempt by Israel’s national carrier a two-faced, exploitative move that underlines its double standards regarding Gaza.

“While the Zionist airline executives whine like toddlers about a competitor attaining an unfair advantage in air travel to and from India, they give barely a thought to the plight of rockets with no way out of our territory but through Zionist-controlled airspace,” he railed. “Hundreds of rockets from Gaza have sought to reach their destinations via that airspace, only to be shot down. The world must punish the Zionists for this blatant and flagrant violation of international humanitarian norms.”

An agreement between Riyadh and New Delhi last month opened Saudi skies to Air India craft flying to and from Israel, the first time the Saudis will allow any flight to or from Israel to cross its airspace. While observers note the regional political implications for relations that appear to be developing between Saudi Arabia and Israel, executives at El Al voiced commercial concerns at the airspace access issue: El Al remains barred from Saudi airspace and must take a roundabout, longer, and more costly route to India than Air India can by traversing that airspace.
Hizbullah Launches "Holy Defense" Computer Game Simulating Its Battles in Syria and Lebanon
Al-Manar TV reported on a new 3D computer game launched by Hizbullah called "Holy Defense," aimed at "simulating the heroic acts of the mujahideen of the Islamic resistance against the takfiri movement in Lebanon and Syria. Jawwad, a boy whose father was "martyred," told the TV reporter that when he plays the 3D game, "it's like I'm my father, shooting at ISIS" and that you "wipe out the enemies, like the Jews and ISIS." The game's creator explained that it gives an appreciation of the difficulties faced by actual fighters on the ground, and Muhammad Kasrawani, a member of the "Holy Defense" media team, said that the goal was "to wage a parallel soft war." The report aired on February 28.

Saudi Arabia increased arms imports by 225% in 5 years
Saudi Arabia is on a massive arms-buying spree, according to a new report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). In the last five years, the country increased its arms purchases by 225% compared to the previous five-year period, importing 98% of its weapons from the US and European Union states. In the same period, Israel increased its exports of arms by 55%, the report said.

The SIPRI report, titled “Asia and the Middle East lead rising trend in arms imports, US exports grow significantly,” provides details on the current world-wide arms trade. The US, Russia, France, Germany and China remain the biggest exporters of military technology. Under the Obama administration, deals “reached their highest level since the late 1990s,” Dr. Aude Fleurant, director of the SIPRI Arms and Military Expenditure Program was quoted as saying in the report. Along with Israel, South Korea and Turkey have also increased their exports in recent years.

The Middle East is sponging up weapons, with imports growing 103% in the last five years, compared to 2008-2012. The region accounts for 32% of global arms imports, even though the region accounts for only around 5% of the world’s population. The United Arab Emirates have joined Saudi Arabia in buying heavily in the last five years, as have Qatar and Egypt, all of which have increased their imports. The Saudis have taken delivery of 78 combat aircraft, 72 combat helicopters, 328 tanks and 4,000 vehicles, the report notes. Qatar signed major details for 84 combat aircraft from the US, UK and France. It ordered an additional 12 such aircraft from France in 2017.

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This blog may be a labor of love for me, but it takes a lot of effort, time and money. For over 14 years and 30,000 articles I have been providing accurate, original news that would have remained unnoticed. I've written hundreds of scoops and sometimes my reporting ends up making a real difference. I appreciate any donations you can give to keep this blog going.


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