Friday, July 05, 2019

From Ian:

Melanie Phillips: The dark shadow Iran is casting on the world
The indifference shown to this Jew-baiting over the past two decades and more has helped legitimize and embolden ever more unambiguous demonstrations of this deranged mindset, along with a wider cultural confusion.

Four months ago in Britain, upon learning that the best-selling novelist Richard Zimler was a Jew, two cultural organizations dropped their invitations to him to appear at their events. They said they feared protests by their members and others if they invited a Jewish writer.

Against the backdrop of a bill in the Irish parliament, the Dail, to boycott Israel, an Irish News columnist Brian Feeney wrote that Iran was “the only democracy in the region—no, Israel isn’t.”

After U.S. Rep.Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) demeaned the Holocaust by comparing detention centers on America’s Mexican border to Nazi concentration camps, political and cultural figures piled in to support her. When the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum voiced concern about using Holocaust analogies in this way, more than 430 scholars who research the Holocaust and genocides urged it to retract its criticism as “fundamentally ahistorical.”

In Britain, the government wants to build a Holocaust memorial next to the Houses of Parliament to combat Holocaust denial. Yet Britain is still an enthusiast for the Iran deal, even despite the recent discovery of a Hezbollah bomb factory in London.

Sweden, where the authorities notoriously turn a blind eye to rampant anti-Israel and anti-Jewish incitement, intends to hold a conference on antisemitism next year in Malmö. That’s quite a statement. For Jew-hatred in Malmö is so bad that last month the spokesman for its Jewish community said it might close down altogether in the coming decade.

This is the international background against which Iran is ramping up for war. In Israel, there’s a grim acknowledgement of a world which, while paying ever more extravagant lip service to the victims of the Holocaust, prepares to betray them at every turn.

More than half-a-century ago, the West fought off Nazism. That fight is what it really means by “never again.”

WSJ: Pilgrimage Road and Palestinian Memory
Two thousand years ago Jews walked the Pilgrimage Road as they came from around the world to visit the Temple. Rabbinic texts abound with descriptions of the processions that occurred, and the road - first discovered 15 years ago - parallels these details in an exquisite way. Now pilgrims will be able to ascend stairs as their predecessors once did.

But the Pilgrimage Road is located on land in eastern Jerusalem that Palestinians claim for themselves. Palestinian official Saeb Erekat contended that the road is a "lie that has nothing to do with history." Erekat and many other Palestinian leaders have long denied what archaeologists and historians consider basic and uncontroversial facts, such as the existence of the Temple.

The excavated path is only one bit of a literal mountain of archaeological evidence, uncovered in most cases by secular archaeologists, that confirms the historical fact of Jerusalem's ancient connection to the Jewish people. In an age where actual facts are all too often eschewed for "personal narrative," the Pilgrimage Road is another reminder that peace can only be attained through the recognition of historical truth.


Analysis: Gulf governments sponsored anti-Semitic hate preachers during Ramadan 2019
Ramadan is a holy month in the Sunni-ruled Gulf monarchies. In addition to daylong fasting, one other aspect of the festival in this region is that governments sponsor a range of religious programming in order to burnish their religious credentials, particularly at state-run mosques and on state-owned television stations.

However, many Gulf governments fail to provide adequate oversight when sponsoring Ramadan programming, arranging events that feature religious leaders who have a longstanding record of anti-Semitism and other forms of bigotry. Even if such preachers are more measured in their remarks at these particular government-sponsored events, their state hosts still run the risk of legitimating proponents of bigotry.

Qatar
The Government of Qatar continued to be the worst offender in this regard.

The global media outlet Al Jazeera, which the State Department describes as “government owned,” published an offensive video during the second week of Ramadan this year that denied and distorted basic facts about the Holocaust. Following outcry, the network removed the video, suspended two journalists, and said it would apply some sensitivity training.

Yet at this same time the religious fundamentalist most empowered by Al Jazeera, Yusuf al-Qaradawi, continued to remain in the regime’s good graces.

Even though Qaradawi has advocated genocide against the Jewish people and advocated terrorism against American civilians and soldiers in Iraq, Qatar’s ruler kissed Qaradawi and gave him the seat at his side at his Ramadan iftar, ahead of all other preachers and for at least the fifth year in a row.

Less than twenty-four hours later, Qaradawi published a column in a Qatari paper dehumanizing Jewish people by calling them the offspring of apes and pigs.

Nor were the views broadcast by Al Jazeera or published by Qaradawi an isolated phenomenon during this Ramadan.



Khaled Abu Toameh: 80% of Palestinians believe Arabs have abandoned them, poll shows
A vast majority of Palestinians believes that the participation of Arab countries such as Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Jordan in last week’s US-led “Prosperity to Peace” economic workshop in Bahrain signifies an Arab abandonment of the Palestinians, according to a public opinion poll published on Thursday.

While 80% of Palestinian respondents supported the Palestinian Authority’s call for boycotting the Bahrain workshop, a similar percentage viewed the participation of Arab countries as an abandonment of the Palestinian cause.

The survey conducted by the Ramallah-based Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research also showed that 90% of surveyed Palestinians do not trust the US administration, and three quarters of respondents want the PA to reject US President Donald Trump’s plan for peace in the Middle East, also known as the Deal of the Century.

Half of the Palestinian public continues to oppose the two-state solution. “The public is divided into three groups in its assessment of the most effective means of ending the Israeli occupation: armed action comes first followed by negotiations, and then popular nonviolent resistance,” the center said.

“Findings show that the majority expects the future Israeli government, which will be formed after the upcoming election, to annex settlement areas in the West Bank, wage war against the Gaza Strip, and take measures that would bring about PA collapse.”

According to the center, when asked to choose between economic prosperity and independence, “the overwhelming majority (83%) opts for independence; only 15% chose economic prosperity.”
Former Miss Iraq: Arab-Israeli conflict ‘deeply rooted’ in anti-Semitism
A former Iraqi representative to the Miss Universe beauty pageant on Tuesday condemned Arab states for their criticism of Israel and said hostility to the Jewish state was rooted in anti-Semitism.

Sarah Idan’s family was forced to leave Iraq after sharing a photograph on social media of her posing at the 2017 contest in Las Vegas with Adar Gandelsman, who was representing Israel.

Iraq does not recognize Israel and the two countries are technically at war.

Idan has pushed back against critics of the photo, saying it was a message of peace, and last year visited Israel.

Speaking Tuesday in Geneva at a session of the UN Human Rights Council, Idan, who lives in the United States, spoke out against Iraq for not supporting her following the backlash over the photo.

“I was told to remove it and forced to denounce Israeli policies. I received death threats. Since then I can no longer return to my homeland. Why did the Iraqi government fail to condemn the threats, or allow my freedom of speech,” she said.
Will Palestinian Islamic Jihad Drag Gaza into a War Against Israel?
Over the past year, Islamic Jihad has intensified its independent military actions from Gaza against Israel, including rocket and sniper fire. Its activities are not fully coordinated with Hamas and at times are even undertaken contrary to Hamas' position. Some of its actions are carried out at the initiative of senior local activists, at times against the backdrop of internal conflicts.

The change in the organization's leadership with the appointment of Ziad al-Nakhla to replace Ramadan Shalah in September 2018 has contributed to the radicalization of its positions and to the implementation of a more aggressive policy. Islamic Jihad now has 6,000 combatants deployed in Gaza equipped with rockets and advanced Iranian ordnance.
The Palestinian War on Businessmen
By boycotting the conference in Bahrain, in fact, Palestinian leaders had already sent a message to the world that they would rather see their people continue to suffer economic hardship than receive billions of dollars in aid.... Rather than spitting in the faces of businessmen, Palestinian leaders should be working closely with Israel and the US and any other party that wants to help the Palestinian people.

Abbas and his old guard officials are evidently hoping that the US and international community will continue pouring millions of dollars on them without holding them to account.... They want the conflict to continue for as long as possible so that they can continue receiving funds from Americans, Europeans and others.

Palestinian leaders want to continue blackmailing the international community into giving them unconditional and unlimited financial aid, while at the same time depriving Palestinians of any opportunity to improve their living conditions. They want their people to continue living in misery so that Abbas and his officials can blame Israel and the rest of the world for the "suffering" of the Palestinians.

These leaders' biggest fear is that economic prosperity might divert Palestinians' attention from the fight against Israel. Like his rivals in Hamas, Abbas seems afraid that once Palestinians start enjoying the fruits of a strong economy, they will stop thinking of killing Israelis or abandon the Palestinian dream of destroying Israel.


Mohammad Morsi’s Legacy, as Seen from Jerusalem
Last month, seven years after his election to Egypt’s presidency, the Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohammad Morsi died during court proceedings in which he was being tried on spying for Hamas. Shortly after winning his country’s first democratic election, Morsi had attempted to undo the constitutional restrictions on his power, prompting demonstrations and eventually the coup that placed him in prison and his defense minister, Mohammad Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, in the presidency. Morsi had already been convicted of other crimes by the time of his death. Orit Perlov and Ofir Winter comment on what Morsi might have portended for Israel:

Contrary to initial concerns, the peace treaty [with Israel] held during Morsi’s presidency, and Egypt even strengthened oversight of its border with Gaza and helped mediate between Israel and Hamas during Operation Pillar of Defense. However, Morsi consistently avoided mentioning the name “Israel” in his speeches, made statements in support of Hamas, and enabled visits to the Strip by Iranian and Turkish delegates.

[I]t is very doubtful that his fundamental hostility toward Israel would have allowed the preservation of the Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty over time, not to mention any advancement of cooperation (which is flourishing under Sisi) on strategic issues of security and energy. It is not impossible that a continued Morsi rule would have brought rapprochement between Egypt and the pro-Iran axis or the creation of an Egyptian-Turkish Islamist axis.

[I]t is obvious that strengthening Israeli-Egyptian peace relations is conditional on, inter alia, weakening the forces of radical Islam, including the Muslim Brotherhood, and on bolstering—at their expense—pragmatic and liberal political and civic forces.
Iran Is Openly Violating the Nuclear Deal. Europe Must Join America in Stopping It
On Monday, Tehran announced that its stockpile of low-enriched uranium has exceeded the 300kg limit imposed on it by the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), as the 2015 nuclear deal is formally known. Arguing that the move is intended to pressure Europe into helping the ayatollahs circumvent U.S. sanctions, Emily Landau urges European governments not to give in:

In contrast to those who say that current tensions with Iran are rooted in the fact that the United States exited the nuclear deal last year, the reality is that the problems are grounded in the flawed provisions of the JCPOA itself. . . . Indeed, Iran’s very ability to use uranium enrichment to provoke [the West] is a direct result of one of the major flaws in the JCPOA. . . . [R]ather than strengthening the message that uranium enrichment is unacceptable for a state with a record of lying and cheating in the nuclear realm, the deal unwisely granted legitimacy to Iran’s uranium-enrichment program. And so today Iran can turn up enrichment—by increasing either its stockpile or the level of enrichment—at will.

So far, the Europeans have not reacted strongly to Iran’s crossing of the uranium-enrichment threshold and are treating the current violation as a minor infraction. For the Europeans to continue to attempt to relieve pressure on Iran by circumventing U.S. sanctions would be a grave mistake at this point, and counterproductive to the strategy that the United States is pursuing: maximum pressure on Iran so that it will come back to the table for a better deal. And no strategy has a better chance of achieving that goal than pressure. . . .

Iran cannot be allowed to hold international actors hostage, and to be the one calling the shots. . . . If the Europeans need a reminder about the nature of the Islamic Republic, then they got it [on Tuesday] when the Iranians announced that they can destroy Israel in a half-hour if attacked by the United States. A regime that makes such threats must be tightly held in check, and it certainly cannot be allowed to cross the nuclear threshold.
Tehran fumes as Britain seizes Iranian oil tanker over Syria sanctions
British Royal Marines seized a giant Iranian oil tanker in Gibraltar on Thursday for trying to take oil to Syria in violation of EU sanctions, a dramatic step that drew Tehran's fury and could escalate its confrontation with the West.

The Grace 1 tanker was impounded in the British territory on the southern tip of Spain after sailing around Africa, the long route from the Middle East to the mouth of the Mediterranean.

Iran's Foreign Ministry summoned the British ambassador to voice "its very strong objection to the illegal and unacceptable seizure" of its ship. The diplomatic gesture lifted any doubt over Iran's ownership of the vessel, which flies a Panama flag and is listed as managed by a company in Singapore.

Panama's Maritime Authority said on Thursday that Grace 1 was no longer listed in Panama's international boat registry as of May 29.

U.S. national security adviser John Bolton said the British move was "excellent news."

"America & our allies will continue to prevent regimes in Tehran & Damascus from profiting off this illicit trade," Bolton said on Twitter.

Shipping data reviewed by Reuters suggests the tanker was carrying Iranian oil loaded off the coast of Iran, although its documents say the oil is from neighboring Iraq.


Tehran threatens to seize British oil tanker if Iranian ship not released
A senior commander in Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps on Friday threatened to seize a British tanker if the UK doesn’t release the Iranian ship detained in Gibraltar on suspicion of carrying crude oil to Syria in violation of EU sanctions.

“If Britain does not release the Iranian oil tanker, it is the authorities duty to seize a British oil tanker,” tweeted Revolutionary Guards Maj. Gen. Mohsen Rezaei, who is also secretary of Iran’s Expediency Council, a powerful state body, according to the Reuters news agency.

“Islamic Iran in its 40-year history has never initiated hostilities in any battles but has also never hesitated in responding to bullies,” Rezaei wrote.

The IRGC is the elite military unit, which answers only to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, that took responsibility for the downing of a US drone earlier this month.

Iran demanded earlier Friday that Britain immediately release the oil tanker, accusing it of acting at the bidding of the United States.

A senior foreign ministry official “described the UK move as unacceptable” in a meeting with British ambassador Rob Macaire, who had been summoned to hear a formal protest, the ministry said in a statement.
Germany Working at Top Speed to Get Iran Barter Scheme Running: Spokesman
Germany is working hard to reach the point where the first transactions can be carried out under a special trade channel being set up to enable trade between Iran and European exporters, a German Foreign Ministry spokesman said on Friday.

Spokesman Rainer Breul said European industry had a great interest in the system being brought online, which will make it possible for trade between EU members and Iran to continue despite stiff US sanctions in place since Washington quit a 2015 nuclear accord.

Set up by France, Britain and Germany, Instex is a barter trade mechanism that aims to avoid direct financial transfers by offsetting balances between importers and exporters on the European side.
Iranian Terrorist Force spying on Israelis and Jews in Germany - intel
Intelligence agents for the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia issued disturbing findings on Thursday about the US designated Iranian terrorist entity Quds Force targeting Israelis and Israeli institutions.

According to the North Rhine-Westphalia intelligence report, which was reviewed by The Jerusalem Post, “A main focus [of Iran's regime] is spying on Israeli and pro-Israeli institutions, as well as citizens of the State of Israel living here and persons of the Jewish faith. According to the constitutional protection agency, there were findings that Quds Force research activities in North Rhine-Westphalia took place in the year under review.”

The report covered the period of 2018. The Post reported on Thursday that the number of Hezbollah members increased in North Rhine-Westphalia from 105 in 2017 to 110 in 2018, according to the intelligence document. Hezbollah is the Iranian regime’s chief strategic partner.

The 363-page intelligence report, which covers a range of security threats to the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, referenced Iran’s regime 16 times and Lebanese entity Hezbollah 21 times.

A spokeswoman for the intelligence agency told the Post on Friday that a specialist in the area of Iran will provide an answer to Post queries about the nature of Quds Force's “research activities” in the state.
Will Iranian-Backed Militias Merge with Iraqi Security Forces?
Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi this week announced that the Shia militias of the Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) are to be fully integrated into the Iraqi security forces by July 31. The Shia militias are the main instrument of Iranian policy in Iraq. Not all groups involved in the 150,000-strong PMU are Iran-linked, but the largest and most consequential are, answering directly to the IRGC's Quds Force and its leader, Maj.-Gen. Qassem Soleimani. The Iraqi announcement comes in the wake of a sharp increase in mortar and rocket attacks by the militias on U.S. targets in Iraq in recent weeks.

Yet this latest announcement is not without precedent. The first law making the militias part of the Iraqi security forces was passed in 2016. With the welcome cover of official status, the militias continue to act as the strong arm of Iran in Iraq. Moreover, as a result of the blurring of boundaries between the Iraqi army and the Shia militias, Iran's fighters have gained access to state-of-the-art U.S. equipment including M1A1 Abrams tanks.

The IRGC does not regard Iraq as a country, but, rather, as one arena in which it is growing in power and prosecuting its attacks against U.S. forces. If the militias can burrow into the Iraqi state and benefit from the largesse afforded it by its allies, then so much the better.




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