Wednesday, April 04, 2018

From Ian:

Gaza reality check: Terrorist-run territories will produce terrorism
Mass chaos erupted along Israel's border with the Gaza Strip this weekend as the Hamas-sponsored "March of Return" predictably descended into violent confrontations that left at least sixteen Palestinians dead and hundreds of others injured. Friday’s affair was the first in a series of planned provocations along the frontier over the next six weeks, culminating with the May 15 commemoration by Palestinians of the "catastrophe" of Israel's creation on so-called Nakba Day.

While much of the international community denounced Jerusalem's "disproportionate" response to the storming of its border by an estimated 40,000 people, Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman warned Sunday that the military will, by contrast, employ even tougher measures if the unrest continues. The defense chief also claimed that ninety percent of the "protesters" comprised Hamas officials or "activists"—accompanied by their families, including children—who were paid to sow disorder. This is reinforced by the IDF's assertion that at least 10 of the 16 individuals killed in the conflagration were card-carrying members of Palestinian terror groups, with Hamas proudly acknowledging that among the dead were five fighters from its ranks.

In fact, many analysts are astonished by the widespread shock and awe generated by the fully foreseeable outcome of an initiative spearheaded by a terror group dedicated to the destruction of the Jewish state. Since assuming power in the Strip just over a decade ago, Hamas and Israel have fought three major conflicts—the last being the fifty-day confrontation in the summer of 2014—interspersed by the unprovoked firing of thousands rockets at Israeli cities; the construction of a network of subterranean attack tunnels stretching into Israeli territory; and the kidnapping of numerous Israeli soldiers and civilians. This, as Hamas has reigned over Gaza with an iron fist, consistently using its "subjects" as a collective human shield and squandering hundreds of millions of dollars on its war machine that instead could have been spent with a view to alleviating the humanitarian plight in the enclave.

Yet, when another round of hostilities inevitably breaks out, so too does the same old international chorus of refrains ranging from "independent investigations" and "restraint by both sides" to accusations that Israel is committing genocide against the Palestinians. And this by actors that seemingly should be capable of digesting the simple fact that terrorist-run territories invariably produce terrorism.

And that, as a tragic corollary, people are going to die.
PMW: Palestinian flag is wonderful "soaked in the blood of the Martyrs," says Abbas’ Fatah
Fatah: “We are sowing our land from the veins, from the arteries, and from blood, and from the inner heart we will build our state and will not relinquish”

A bloodied Palestinian flag lying on the ground is reason to rejoice according to Abbas’ Fatah Movement’s Bethlehem branch, which posted the photo above with text glorifying the spilling of “the blood of the Martyrs”:

Posted text: “How wonderful and mighty you are, O flag of Palestine, when you are soaked in the blood of the Martyrs (Shahids)”
[Facebook page of the Fatah Movement - Bethlehem Branch, March 31, 2018]

An image of a man in an Arab headdress leaning over barbed wire and planting a flower with bleeding hands was also posted by Fatah. Accompanying text emphasized that it is with “blood” that Palestinians are “sowing the land”:

Posted text: “We are sowing our land from the veins, from the arteries, and from blood, and from the inner heart we will build our state and will not relinquish” [Official Fatah Facebook page, March 31, 2018 (image only); Facebook page of the Fatah Movement - Bethlehem Branch, March 31, 2018 (image and text)]

The PA and Fatah continuously state that “all means” are legitimate in the “struggle against the occupation” and in the process of building a Palestinian state. “All means” include the use of violence and terror - when these are viewed as beneficial. Therefore Fatah repeatedly promotes the ideal of Martyrdom-death and spilling one's blood for "Palestine."
Fake News: Actress Katherine Heigl 'Welcomed' to Gaza by Palestinians Applauding Her as a 'Doctor'
The first casualty of war is truth, a maxim the Palestinian Information Center is learning for itself in the hardscrabble world of social media communications.

In the wake of the Hamas-instigated “March of the Return” Gaza riots that tore across the Israeli border last week, the center was keen to publicize what it claimed was a publicity coup. In a Facebook post, it told its 500,000 followers that a French doctor had arrived in the Gaza Strip to perform her work and treat ‘wounded Palestinian protesters.’

See the evidence below:

Trouble is, the shot is of actress Katherine Heigl who played a doctor on TV in the hit show Grey’s Anatomy from 2005-2010.

The Secret to Successful Arab Modernization is to Stop Hating Israel
It didn’t take impoverished Iranians protesting against the economy their leaders had pillaged to show that Obama was fundamentally wrong about the nature of the regime — and about one of the chief ideological weapons that it cultivates. Anti-Semitism and reason cannot exist side by side because anti-Semitism is the precise form that unreason takes in modern politics.

The criticism of anti-Semitism typically focuses on the damage that it does to Jews, but that’s only one part of the equation. The other concern is what it does to those who are afflicted by anti-Semitism, non-Jews, by turning them into stark raving lunatics who are incapable of understanding the world and thus acting in it rationally. If you believe that one percent of the world’s population controls global wealth, communications, and even the weather, it becomes increasingly difficult to function. When an entire society adopts this as a worldview, it’s over. “The Jews control the weather” is not a starting point from which anyone makes progress.

Consider Syria, for instance, whose rulers thought it advisable to bind competing sects and tribes together in an oppositional nationalism based on perpetual war against the Jewish state. It was nearly inevitable that at some point Syrians would turn to slaughtering each other. Iran’s anti-Semitism is dangerous for Israel but let’s be frank—Jerusalem has a large nuclear arsenal and can take care of itself even if its superpower patron in Washington blinks. The anti-Semitism that is the signature of the Iranian leadership’s madness is much more dangerous to Iran itself—a peril further magnified by the regime’s pursuit of nuclear weapons.

Thus, the Iranian threat isn’t just military, but is also cultural. That’s why MBS is in a rush to undo the post-1979 regional order, represented now by the obscurantist regime in Tehran that courts war not simply with Israel, but with all of its neighbors, from the Persian Gulf to the eastern Mediterranean. To keep Saudi Arabia moving headlong in the other direction, the future, the logical move for a man who keeps shocking the system is to embrace Israel. By establishing normal relations with the Jewish state, MBS would be enshrining his vision for a normal Saudi Arabia
Why The International Community Is Dead Wrong About Israel And Hamas
In a powerful column, writer Shoshanna Keats Jaskoll takes on the international community for its response to the riots precipitated by Hamas last week; with the preponderance of commentators blaming Israel for its response.

Jaskoll notes:
Imagine the mobilization of 30,000 people on your border, less than a mile from the nearest homes. Imagine if these tens of thousands of people were amassing on a border which terror organizations have spent years tunneling under for the express purpose of murdering your citizens, tunnels that have already been used to murder and kidnap your people. It’s terrifying. And while we Israelis know our country will defend us, it’s painful to watch as the international community plays directly into the hands of Hamas, calling Israel’s response to molotov cocktails and attempted infiltrations “disproportionate” and “a massacre” of “peaceful protestors.”

Jaskoll delineates the chronology of the attacks on Israel, beginning with Islamist Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan strongly condemning “the Israeli government over its inhumane attack,” calling it a “massacre,” a perspective quickly parroted by international media.

Noting that 11 of the 16 people killed were known militants, Jaskoll continues, “Despite Hamas’s attempts to brand it as such, this demonstration was not one of Gazan civilians seeking to peacefully protest for a better life. We know this because, even within Gaza, Gaza’s residents aren’t allowed to assemble and protest without Hamas’s permission.”

She adds, “The truth of the matter is that there is no democracy in Gaza. If there were, Gazans might demonstrate for all sorts of things they lack. They might ask for adequate sewage facilities, for civil liberties, and religious freedoms. They might ask for Hamas to cease calling for Israel’s destruction and demand that instead of purchasing rockets and building tunnels, Hamas create infrastructure and enter into a peace agreement with Israel.”
How Mahmoud Abbas Fans the Flames in Gaza
While Hamas’s long-term goal remains, as always, the destruction of Israel, Ghaith al-Omari and Grant Rumley argue that the organization’s ongoing conflict with Mahmoud Abbas is the factor most likely to lead to an escalation in violence in Gaza. Thus, Hamas’s massive border protest on Friday was not about Israel’s restrictions on imports into the Gaza Strip, or Egypt’s sealing of its border with the territory, and certainly not about Gazans’ putative desire to return to the homes abandoned by their ancestors, but about breaking the stalemate with the Palestinian Authority brought about by Hamas’s refusal to pay its electricity bills. Nor is Hamas the only party to blame:

Abbas [himself] seems keen on instigating a broader clash. The Palestinian Authority leader made headlines last month for calling the U.S. ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, a “settler son of a dog” in a speech admonishing the Trump administration’s policies. . . . Yet in the same speech Abbas also directed the bulk of his ire toward Hamas, the group that overthrew his Palestinian Authority in Gaza over a decade ago. . . .

[While] blaming Hamas for an explosion [in Gaza] last month that targeted his prime minister and intelligence chief, Abbas is publicly mulling whether to [impose] further sanctions on an already impoverished Gaza Strip. Indeed, amid increasing concern over his deteriorating health, it appears the eighty-three-year-old leader is looking to strike a confrontational tone in the final act of his presidency, no matter the costs.

It’s these costs that are starting to concern Israeli security officials. The defense minister, Avigdor Liberman, recently accused Abbas of attempting to incite another Hamas-Israel war by cutting off funds to Gaza. American officials have echoed these concerns at a recent White House meeting over the humanitarian situation in Gaza. These fears are well founded. In recent weeks, several Israeli soldiers have been wounded as militant factions in the Strip placed improvised explosive devices along border fences. This, coupled with Hamas’s ongoing mass protests in Gaza, as well as any additional economic sanctions Abbas may impose on Gaza, have many worried that Liberman’s accusation is accurate. . . .
The 'March of Return' to where?
The withdrawal put most of the Negev and the center of the country, even as far north as Haifa, within rocket range. Gaza became a full-scale war zone. There have been five rounds of fighting, three of them large, which have claimed the lives of hundreds of soldiers and cost Israeli taxpayers over 20 billion shekels. In an ironic twist, we learned last week that the Left and the Civil Administration still count the Arabs of Gaza in their demographic prognostications. Disengagement, indeed.

These results have taught Israelis an ongoing lesson about the Arabs' true intentions toward us, and that retreating to the 1967 borders will not eradicate the threat of terrorism or ease international pressure. Despite Israel's relinquishing every last inch of Gaza, the shooting from there has not abated and the world has not given Israel the legitimacy to pummel the terrorist elements operating there. Following Operation Cast Lead in 2009, the Goldstone Commission essentially concluded that Israel did not have a right to self-defense. To be sure, throughout the majority of Operation Protective Edge in 2014, Israel simply had to try shooting incoming rockets out of the sky. Woe unto those who concede and retreat.

The "March of Return" sponsored by Hamas is a clever attempt to breach the border and send hundreds of thousands of Arabs from Gaza streaming into Israel. Where are they "returning" to exactly? All of Gaza has already been given to them. In 2005, Ariel Sharon provided the first phase of the Arabs' 10-point plan to "liberate every inch of Palestinian territory" for free. The Arabs then launched the second phase: voluntarily agreeing to the 1967 borders, to the sound of the Left's applause. Lines of snipers and live fire stopped the jihadist rabble from flooding tiny Israel and entering the kibbutzim and the towns, even the homes of the high and mighty bleeding hearts. Will we never learn?
Israel thwarts major Islamic Jihad missile attack against naval vessels
Security forces thwarted a potential Palestinian attack by Islamic Jihad in Gaza against Israeli naval forces that included a plan to kidnap IDF sailors, as released for publication on Wednesday.

The Secret Service (Shin Bet) published information about the alleged terror plot during the first out of six weeks of the Great March of Return, a series of popular Gaza protests. Since last Friday, thousands of Palestinians in the Palestinian enclave have gathered by the Israeli border fence, with some attempting to break through it.

On Wednesday, the IDF published a video from March 12 that showed the IDF boarding a Gaza fishing vessel from Rafah which had sailed beyond the permissible nautical line. Ten Palestinians were arrested and taken in for questioning.

The Shin Bet said that during his interrogation, Amin Sa'adi Muhammad Jum'a, the alleged ringleader, confessed to a plot by which one Gaza fishing vessel would act as a decoy, forcing an Israeli naval ship to approach it. The Palestinians on board a second fishing boat would then launch a Kornet missile targeting the Israeli vessel, and after that, board the vessel from a third ship, so that they could kidnap soldiers who survived the attack.

Islamic Jihad, with Jum’a’s help, had been gathering intelligence about the Israeli navy off the Gaza coast for some time in order to prepare for the attack, the Shin Bet said.

The prosecution plans to indict Jum'a in Beersheba District Court on Wednesday.

The naval plot “proves the true intentions of the terrorist organizations in Gaza, that are trying to disguise their murderous intentions by provocative actions against the (Gaza) security fence. Their sole purpose is to provide a cover under which terrorists can carry out attacks against Israel,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said.
IDF Blog: An Attempt to Infiltrate Israel
Throughout the day, dozens of Palestinians participated in violent riots in 4 main locations along the Gaza border. IDF troops used riot dispersal means, and fired towards suspects who were involved in damaging the security fence

The IDF will not allow any breach of the security fence, which protects Israeli civilians, and will continue to operate in order to prevent terrorists who are involved in these acts of terror. The IDF wishes to emphasize that approaching the security fence is a dangerous act
An Attempt to Infiltrate Israeli Territory

B'Tselem calls on IDF soldiers to refuse orders
The radical left-wing organization B'Tselem is launching a new campaign calling on IDF soldiers stationed on the Gaza Strip border to refuse orders and not to open fire at Arabs who riot in Gaza and are unarmed.

"In anticipation of the upcoming demonstrations this coming Friday, the organization reiterates that shooting at unarmed demonstrators is illegal and that orders to carry out such shooting are clearly illegal," the organization said in a statement.

The poster accompanying the campaign read: "Sorry, sir, I am not shooting." As a message to the soldiers it was written that "the use of lethal force is permitted only in situations of real and immediate danger to human life, in the absence of any other choice."
PA accuses Israel of ‘shoot-to-kill policy’ in Gaza, asks for UN protection
The Palestinian ambassador to the United Nations has appealed to the Security Council for immediate international protection for Palestinian protesters in the wake of the deadly clashes along the Israel-Gaza border last week.

Palestinian Authority Ambassador Riyad Mansour claimed in his letter to the council on Tuesday that Israel has adopted “a shoot-to-kill policy” during what he called peaceful protests.

Mansour said Ramallah strongly backed Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’s call for an independent investigation of the killings.

He accused Israel of violating international law and “intentionally, grossly and systematically” violating its legal obligation to protect civilians.

On Friday, some 30,000 Palestinians took part in demonstrations along the Gaza border, during which rioters threw rocks and firebombs at Israeli troops on the other side of the fence, burned tires and scrap wood, sought to breach and damage the security fence, and in one case opened fire at Israeli soldiers.
Hamas leaders mired in infighting as Gaza-Israel tension mounts
Senior Palestinian sources in the Gaza Strip and Ramallah said Tuesday that Hamas is plagued with infighting, which in turn could affect its decision-making process and policies, especially with respect to its conflict with Israel.

According to senior Hamas officials, the bickering within the group began several months ago, with the resignation of Hamas Interior Minister Fathi Hamad, who oversaw the security and intelligence apparatuses in Gaza.

Hamad, a prominent member of the terrorist group that rules the coastal enclave, was for years considered a potential successor to Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, and was greatly offended when the latter named Izzedine al-Qassam strongman Yahya Sinwar as the military leader in the Strip in February 2017.

Sinwar spared no effort to oust Hamad from his position of power, prompting him to leave Hamas and announce plans to found a rival organization, which has yet to be named.

Hamad has reportedly been able to convince dozens of his supporters in Hamas to join his organization, and several Hamas officials said the bad blood between Hamad and Sinwar "runs deep."

Hamad was named a possible suspect in the failed assassination attempt of Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah in Gaza City last month, and Hamas officials said the plot may have had intelligence and logistical support from individuals in Hamas' intelligence services, loyal to the former interior minister.
Khaled Abu Toameh: Hamas issues ‘security recommendations’ to members for Gaza protests
Hamas on Tuesday published what it called “security recommendations” to its members on how to avoid being targeted by Israeli army snipers along the border between the Gaza Strip and Israel.

The new directive came following the killing of at least five members of Hamas’s military wing during last Friday’s violent events near the border.

The recommendations advise Hamas members on a number of methods to conceal their identity. These include wearing masks, camouflaging their face with crayon, and covering their entire head with a keffiyeh.

Hamas members are also advised not to carry cellular phones in the areas of the clashes, not to stay in one place for too long, not to wear white clothes or clothes with standout colors, and to be on alert for any suspicious movements within the demonstrations.

Israel’s Hadashot TV news also reported Tuesday that Gazans were piling up thousands of tires to burn near the border in another mass protest planned for Friday, in order to create black smoke which would hinder IDF snipers. Marchers were also being told to carry mirrors to angle at and thus dazzle the snipers.
South Africa says IDF ‘must withdraw’ from Gaza
South Africa on Wednesday sharply condemned the Israeli military’s actions during last Friday’s protests at the Gaza border, calling them an “act of violent aggression.”

In a press release, the country’s foreign ministry also demanded the Israel Defense Forces “withdraw” from the coastal strip, although Israel uprooted all permanent civilian and military presence there back in 2005.

“The South African government strongly condemns the latest act of violent aggression carried out by Israeli armed forces in Gaza, which has led to the deaths of about 17 Palestinian citizens, with scores of others reported injured,” the statement by the Department for International Relations and Cooperation read.

“South Africa reiterates its view that the Israeli Defence Force must withdraw from the Gaza Strip and bring to an end the violent and destructive incursions into Palestinian territories. South Africa maintains further that the violence in the Gaza Strip will stand in the way of rebuilding Palestinian institutions and infrastructure,” the statement went on.
Western Media Scrub Mention Of Hamas From Headlines On Israeli Clash
In response to the Hamas-led protests, the IDF tweeted, “Hamas is responsible for violent riots and everything taking place under its jurisdiction. The IDF will not allow the security fence to be turned into an area of terror.” The IDF had earlier alluded to the existence of various terror sites within the rioting encampments, whose chaos Hamas has used to “camouflage” its terrorist activities next to the border wall.

Friday’s headlines did not disappoint in their failure to properly assign blame to the responsible parties. From The New York Times, the headline read “Israeli military kills 15 Palestinians in Confrontations at Gaza Border.” And from Reuters, “Israeli forces kill 16 Palestinians in Gaza border protests: Gaza medics.” And from CNN, “Gaza protests: 17 Palestinians killed in confrontations with Israeli forces” The LA Times performed its job, as well: “15 Palestinians reported killed by Israeli fire as Gaza border protest builds.” Like clockwork, various outlets have whitewashed any mention of Hamas from their headlines, though Hamas is solely responsible for instigating the violence. In fact, the media categorically ignore much of the context behind the Palestinian-Arab frustrations that have nothing to directly do with Israel.

For those unfamiliar with the various cadres of ineffective and corrupt Palestinian-Arab “leadership,” Hamas is the Sunni-Islamic fundamentalist faction that consolidated control of the Gaza Strip following the Battle of Gaza in 2007. As of now, Hamas remains in league with the Palestinian Authority (PA), the subordinate governing organ that controls the rest of the Palestinian-controlled territories in Judea and Samaria.

While the international community is strangely more forgiving of the PA, about 10 percent of its budget, which amounts to roughly $350 million, is allocated towards funding terrorism against neighboring Israelis. Similarly, there is no shortage of “Days of Rage” — public days of protest condoned and sponsored by the government — that Chairman Mahmoud Abbas has incited in an attempt to weaponize his own civilians against the Israeli army and distract from his own miserable approval rating within the Palestinian-controlled territories.
Hamas Uses Human Shields And The Washington Post
Hamas, the U.S.-designated terrorist group that rules the Gaza Strip, has a pattern of using civilians as human shields for propaganda purposes. And several major U.S. news outlets have a pattern of helping them achieve this objective.

This fact is readily apparent when looking at the media coverage of the Hamas-orchestrated “Return March.”

On March 30, 2018, Hamas led an estimated 30,000 Palestinians to Israel’s border with the Gaza Strip. In a typically cynical move, armed terrorists were interspersed with unarmed Palestinian civilians. Video shows Palestinian rioters — some of them chanting, “Kill the Jews”—throwing firebombs, stones and burning tires at Israeli Defense Forces (IDF). Several also fired weapons, according to images captured by the IDF.

Israeli authorities responded with a mixture of live fire and non-lethal munitions; the former targeting terror leaders and those perpetrating violent acts, and the latter, including tear gas and rubber rounds, aimed at dispersing the thousands who had gathered at the border under the auspices of Hamas and other terror organizations.

Hamas, which has a charter calling for the destruction of Israel and the genocide of the Jewish people, organized the operation, along with other U.S.-designated terror groups, such as Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ). Top Hamas operatives Ismail Haniyeh and Yehya Sinwar announced that the violent protests marked the beginning of a “new phase in the Palestinians’ national struggle on the road to liberating all of Palestine, from the river to the sea.”
Media Coverage of Gaza Violence Falls Short
New York Times

Isabel Kershner of the New York Times, by contrast, was more informative. "The Israeli military produced a video showing what it said was one of the Hamas fighters and an accomplice shooting at Israeli forces across the fence in northern Gaza before being killed by Israeli tank and gunfire," she wrote on Sunday.

Even still, New York Times coverage also left large holes. In a March 30 story, Kershner and co-author Iyad Abuheweila reported on the stated aim of the Palestinian demonstrations — "The Palestinians are pressing demands to return to lands that became Israel 70 years ago" — but neglected to explain to readers the meaning of this demand for a "right of return," which is widely understood as a call for the elimination of Israel's Jewish majority, and in turn, of the Jewish state itself.

As the Times of Israel's David Horovitz put it, "Just in case anybody forgot, demanding a ‘right of return' to Israel for tens of thousands of Palestinian refugees and their millions of descendants is nothing less than a call for the destruction of Israel by demographic means."

The New York Times authors also reported that Gaza's Hamas government helped orchestrate what it called the "March of Return," but stopped short of reminding readers that Hamas is sworn to the destruction of Israel. (Kershner did at least acknowledge that the group "is classified by much of the Western world as a terrorist organization.")

A Times editorial likewise failed to mention either Hamas's classification as a terror organization or the group's goals when it lamented that "Neither Mr. Netanyahu nor Mr. Trump has shown serious interest in a two-state solution." It is a striking omission, when Hamas is not only less interested than Netanyahu and Trump in a two-state solution, but is openly interested in erasing Israel from the map.
Doug Saunders Commentary on Gaza Riots Full of Serious Errors
Writing in the Globe and Mail on April 3, Globe and Mail columnist Doug Saunders made several erroneous claims that must be corrected.

While Mr. Saunders is entitled to his own opinions, he’s not entitled to his own facts.

Mr. Saunders wrote:
“After soldiers opened fire on the protesters with live ammunition as well as plastic bullets and other non-lethal ammunition, Israeli officials acknowledged that none of the protesters had attempted to cross the border barrier, and video of the incident did not show any armed protesters (some threw rocks, rolled burning tires and used slingshots, but the great majority were simply marching).”

Firstly, Saunders’ claim attributed to Israeli officials is without foundation. Israel has claimed that there were several infiltration attempts. As the Times of Israel reports: “Among the dead were two men who, armed with AK-47 assault rifles and hand grenades, opened fire on Israeli soldiers and attempted to breach the security fence in the northern Gaza Strip, before they were shot by IDF infantrymen and a tank, according to the army. The military later provided video footage of the attack from its surveillance cameras along the fence, as well as photographs of the weapons.”
Globe and Mail Corrects False Headline Claiming Israel Killed 16 Palestinian “Protestors”
In contradiction to this headline which falsely claimed that all 16 of the dead Palestinians were “protestors,” Israel contends that “At least 10 known terrorists with track records of terrorist activity were killed whilst carrying out acts of terror during the violent riots along the border between Israel and the Gaza Strip on Friday March 30, 2018.”

IDF soldiers faced shooting attacks, grenades, improvised explosive bombings, molotov cocktails, burning tires, and rocks thrown at them with rioters repeatedly trying to destroy the security fence. If successful, that thousands of Palestinians could have entered Israel which would have posed a major security threat to Israeli civilians..
Caroline Glick: Why America Shouldn't Leave Syria, and the Kurds, Behind
If the U.S. betrays the Kurds in Syria, it will scupper any prospect of a popular rebellion inside of Iran that can destabilize and ultimately overthrow the regime. The Iranian Kurds, like the Syrian, Turkish and Iraqi Kurds, suffer from state-sponsored discrimination and oppression. They are geographically and culturally distinct from the rest of Iran. If inspired to do so, they would play a key role in a popular uprising against the regime. Without the Kurds, it is difficult to see how such a revolution could succeed or even begin.

If the U.S. abandons the Kurds of Syria, any chance that the Iranian Kurds would rise up is gone.

In the next five weeks, Trump will decide whether to remain in Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran or to abandon it. If the U.S. remains in Syria, then a U.S. abandonment of the nuclear deal coupled with a reinstatement of significant economic sanctions against Tehran would diminish Iran’s regional standing and economic prospects. But if Trump abandons the deal and abandons Syria, the moves would likely cancel one another out.

Iran will be so empowered by a U.S. abandonment of Syria that it will likely be in a position to abandon the nuclear deal in response to a U.S. move, reinstate its high-level uranium enrichment activities, and suffer few consequences. No longer concerned about U.S. responses, many nations will make their peace with a nuclear-armed Iran and defy American sanctions.

Trump is right to wish to bring the troops home from Syria. But the price American will pay – militarily, strategically and economically — for removing U.S. forces from Syria and abandoning the Kurds will far outpace the advantages of walking away from the mess.

Indeed, the price America will pay for “losing” the already-lost Turkey will be far lower than the price the US will pay for abandoning its Kurdish allies.
Just how groundbreaking was the Saudi crown prince’s comment on Israel?
While Goldberg asked about the Jewish people’s “right to a nation-state in at least part of their ancestral homeland,” MBS merely affirmed that Israelis have the right to a state. Hence he accepted Israel’s right to exist, but did not necessarily endorse its Jewish character, Teitelbaum argued.

“He is not accepting the premise of Zionism,” he said. Recognizing Israelis’ right to a state sounds great, “but he did not express the Jewish people’s unconditional right to sovereignty. It’s very close, but he’s not quite there yet.”

In fact, MBS did not go much further than previous Saudi leaders, Teitelbaum said, citing Fahd’s so-called Eight Point Peace Plan of 1981 and Abdullah’s 2002 Saudi Peace Initiative. Both proposals — incidentally made by then-crown princes — promised to recognize Israel after a peace deal with the Palestinians.

“This interview is part of a long process in Saudi history, going all the way back to the Fahd plan,” Teitelbaum said. “It’s a progression, but it’s a question of how thin you can slice the salami. You keep on slicing it but you never get there.”

The crown prince is “clearly willing to take on taboos regarding Israel that his predecessors would not,” said former US ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro, recalling that Riyadh recently for the first time allowed a civil aircraft to cross over Saudi airspace en route to Tel Aviv.

His remarks to The Atlantic however, are a far cry from formal recognition of Israel, Shapiro stressed, citing the fact that Saudi officials still refuse to meet Israelis in public.
Israeli sites hacked to display: ‘Jerusalem is the capital of Palestine’
A number of Israeli websites were hacked Tuesday to display pro-Palestinian messages in what experts said was the start of the annual cyberattack by the hacker collective known as “Anonymous.”

Homepages for the municipality websites for Kfar Saba, Eilat, Herzliya and Acre were changed to display the message: “Jerusalem is the capital of Palestine” alongside an image of the deadly clashes between Palestinian protesters and Israeli forces along the Gaza border over the weekend.

The pages, that were set to music, also displayed the Arabic message “We will not forget our martyrs.”

Websites for Israel’s national opera, a hospital in Hadera and the local council for the city of Gan Yavne were also defaced.

Cyber defense expert Einat Meron told Hadashot news the hacked websites bore the hallmarks of Anonymous’s annual OpIsrael cyber campaign, targeting websites and social media accounts of the Israeli government and other major organizations in solidarity with the Palestinians.
Soldiers on Israel's border with Jordan do more than defend lives
Israeli soldiers stationed near the Jordanian border have been canvassing the area in an effort to find ideal places to construct natural wildlife corridors before a new border fence is constructed.

Operation Living Together is being carried out in conjunction with academic experts, the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel and IDF trackers. The Jordanian army is also taking part in the conservation efforts.

The fence is expected to be completed within a year.

One purpose of the operation is to help migrating birds and animals access drinking water by strategically dispersing mobile water tankers in the area.

Operation Living Together was inspired by lessons from the construction of the Egyptian border fence. While vital from a security perspective, the fence adversely affected animals previously accustomed to freely moving on both sides of the border. To provide a solution, the fence was fitted with specially designed crossings that allow only wildlife to move back and forth.
Seth J. Frantzman: Five scenarios after U.S. about-face on Syria
The United States is considering reducing or ending its presence in Syria, according to President Donald Trump. In Ohio last week Trump said, “We’ll be coming out of Syria, like very soon.”

According to CNN, he told advisers in February that America must achieve victory over Islamic State and then come home. The Wall Street Journal also reported that the White House put on hold $200 million that was supposed to be directed toward rebuilding civilian infrastructure and stabilization in eastern Syria.

The abrupt about-face in US policy comes after the administration spent 2017 indicating it was preparing for the long haul in Syria. It said it wanted President Bashar Assad gone and that the US would continue to work with its partners among the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) that had been the main driving force behind defeating ISIS.

Here are five scenarios that could develop in the coming year:

Trump is boasting, but the US will remain
The White House comments are at odds with Pentagon policy on Syria. An NBC report on March 30 claimed that US soldiers feel a lack of consistent policy from Washington was jeopardizing the war on ISIS. Trump has always indicated that he was an “America first” president who was skeptical of foreign wars and entanglements. His comments on Syria reflect that.
Presidents of Iran, Russia and Turkey parley over Syria's future
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and Russian President Vladimir Putin met in in Ankara on Wednesday for a three-way summit on the Syrian conflict.

The leaders were determined to speed up efforts to ensure "calm on the ground" in Syria, and to protect civilians in "de-escalation areas," according to a joint statement posted on Rouhani's presidential website.

The three countries are working together to try to reduce the violence in Syria despite supporting opposing sides in the war. Russia and Iran are Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's strongest backers, while Turkey supports anti-Assad insurgents.

Despite their differences Iran, Russia and Turkey are three of the major powers involved in a conflict whose course has been largely defined by foreign interventions, and their influence could increase further if the United States pulls out.

Rouhani blamed the United States for backing Islamic State militants in Syria and called on all countries to respect the independence of its main Arab ally in the Middle East.

"Some countries, including America, support terrorist groups like Islamic State in Syria, which serve these countries' interests... Iran believes the Syrian crisis has no military solution and safeguarding independence of Syria a priority for Tehran," Rouhani told a news conference in Ankara.

Rouhani also told his colleagues that the Syrian region of Afrin, captured by Turkish forces and their Syrian rebel allies, should be handed over to Syria's army, Iranian television said.
Iran: Zionist forces interfering in Syria, increasing problems
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani arrived in Ankara early Wednesday, after lashing out at the United States and Israel on Tuesday for "interference" in Syria.

Rouhani was scheduled to meet with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Russian President Vladimir Putin in the Turkish capital to discuss developments in war-torn Syria. Last November, the three leaders met in Sochi, Russia, to discuss Syria.

"The Americans are against the Syrian government establishing its authority throughout the whole country and are even thinking of a breakup [of the country]," Rouhani said before leaving for Turkey, in a ceremony broadcast live from Tehran's Mehrabad airport.

"There's interference from Zionist forces in Syria which has increased problems. They don't respect Syrian national sovereignty. They bomb areas in Syria. They support terrorists. These are all issues which have increased Syria's problems," Rouhani said.

The meeting of the three leaders brings together Syrian President Bashar Assad's most forceful supporters, Iran and Russia, with one of his strongest opponents, Turkey.

Russia has boosted Assad's military capabilities by bringing in key air support.
Russian brings forward delivery of S-400 missiles to Turkey to July 2019
Turkey and Russia have agreed to bring forward to July 2019 the delivery of S-400 air defense missile systems to Ankara, a Turkish official said, in a purchase that has raised eyebrows among NATO allies.

“We brought forward the delivery date in the contract signed with Russia for the acquisition of S-400 systems and got an earlier date of July 2019,” Ismail Demir, Turkish Defense Industries undersecretary, wrote on Twitter late on Tuesday.

His announcement came after Russian President Vladimir Putin held several hours of meeting with Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara.

At the press conference, Putin said he and Erdogan had decided to “speed up” the delivery of the S-400 air defense missile systems to Ankara, without providing a precise date.

Russian officials had said in December that the first deliveries in the $2 billion deal were likely to begin at the end of 2019 or beginning of 2020.

Putin and Erdogan have forged an increasingly close alliance in recent months, from burgeoning energy ties to holding talks to end the Syria crisis.

In a sign of the importance of the partnership, Putin’s visit to Turkey is his first trip abroad since he won a historic fourth presidential mandate in March 18 polls.

Erdogan said Tuesday that Turkey was in no mood to listen to criticism from the West over the purchase of the S-400 systems, saying “this issue is now closed.”
Jordan: Jewish prayer at Temple Mount entrance violates status quo
The Jordanian government has filed an official complaint to the Foreign Ministry over a recent court ruling allowing Jews to pray outside the gated entrance to the Temple Mount holy site in Jerusalem, Channel 10 reported Tuesday.

“Israel is violating the status quo in the area and is carrying out extreme provocations that harm relations between our two countries,” the complaint said, referring to the longstanding arrangement between Jerusalem and Amman that allows Jews to visit the Temple Mount but not pray there.

The grievance was submitted after the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court last month rejected a police request to temporarily ban three 14-year-old Jewish girls from the holy site after they were arrested for bowing down in prayer outside the gated entrance.

“In a democratic state, we do not distance and certainly do not arrest citizens who want to pray in a place where one is allowed to pray,” the court said in its ruling.

Itamar Ben Gvir, the attorney who represented the Israeli teens, slammed Jordanian complaint as “first degree chutzpah.”
IsraellyCool: WATCH: Jews Ascending the Temple Mount Met with Toddlers With Plastic Knives
This isn’t a scene from Gaza or even Judea or Samaria. This is a scene from our very own holy capital of Jerusalem, recorded by my friend Michael during his ascent.

East Jerusalem parents are teaching their children young, arming toddlers with plastic knives and encouraging them to “stab” Jews with them.

All these Jews want to do is be able to access their most sacred site, where they are, as per the peace agreement with Jordan, not allowed to pray, to ascend in anything less modest than a floor-length skirt, and face being rejected for arbitrary reasons. Jews who do make it up are taunted by hordes of Arab women who are paid to make them feel uncomfortable.

Why? Because the area is apparently sort of holy to Muslims. This is debatable, since for a place so ‘holy’ it was in quite the state of disrepair until the early 1960’s, when the PLO, an organization founded in Egypt to undermine the Jewish indigenous case for Israel, decided that it can be used as a political tool to “prove” the indigenous status of the Arabs.

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