Friday, November 01, 2019

From Ian:

Caroline B. Glick: Al-Baghdadi and Trump’s Syrian chess board
In other words, by preventing Russia from seizing Syria’s oil fields, Trump is forcing Russia to behave in a manner that protects American interests in Syria.

The focus of most of the criticism against Trump’s Syria policies has been his alleged abandonment of the Syrian Kurds to the mercies of their Turkish enemies. But over the past week we learned that this is not the case. As Trump explained, continued US-Kurdish control over Syria’s oil fields provides the Kurdish-controlled SDF with the financial and military wherewithal to support and defend its people and their operations.

Moreover, details of al-Baghdadi’s assassination point to continued close cooperation between US and Kurdish forces. According to accounts of the raid, the Kurds provided the Americans with key intelligence that enabled US forces to pinpoint al-Baghdadi’s location.

As to Turkey, both al-Baghdadi and ISIS spokesman Abu Hassan al-Mujahir, who was killed by US forces on Tuesday, were located in areas of eastern Syria controlled by Turkey. The Americans didn’t try to hide this fact.

The Turkish operation in eastern Syria is reportedly raising Erdogan’s popularity at home. But it far from clear that the benefit he receives from his actions will be long-lasting. Turkey’s Syrian operation is exposing the NATO member’s close ties to ISIS and its allied terror groups. This exposure in and of itself is making the case for downgrading US strategic ties with its erstwhile ally.

Even worse for Turkey, due to Trump’s public embrace of Erdogan, the Democrats are targeting the Turkish autocrat as Enemy Number 1. On Tuesday, with the support of Republican lawmakers who have long recognized Erdogan’s animosity to US interests and allies, the Democratic-led House overwhelmingly passed a comprehensive sanctions resolution against Turkey.

The al-Baghdadi assassination and related events demonstrate that Trump is not flying blind in Syria. He is implementing a multifaceted set of policies that are based on the strengths, weaknesses and priorities of the various actors on the ground in ways that advance US interests at the expense of its foes and to the benefit of its allies.

Evelyn Gordon: Does Jewish morality require Israel leave the West Bank?
Obviously, this doesn’t mean anything goes. Even in wartime, the Bible sets limits on an army’s behavior – the original laws of war. But Jewish tradition utterly rejects the idea that morality requires national suicide. On the contrary, it views defending the Jewish commonwealth as a positive moral good.

So what does all this have to do with the Palestinians? It’s very simple: Even if you accept the (false) premise that ceding the West Bank would actually satisfy Palestinian demands, the fact remains that Israel isn’t there solely or even primarily because of the settlers, who have repeatedly proven incapable of preventing territorial concessions (see the Oslo Accords, the disengagement from Gaza, the far-reaching offers made by prime ministers Ehud Barak and Ehud Olmert). It’s there because, based on bitter experience, most Israelis see no way to leave without committing national suicide.

Withdrawing from parts of the West Bank under the Oslo Accords led to the lethal terror of the Second Intifada, which ended only when the Israeli army retook control of these areas. Withdrawing from Gaza resulted in 14 years (and counting) of almost nonstop rocket and mortar fire on southern Israel; a similar outcome would be far deadlier in the West Bank, which, unlike Gaza, is in easy range of Israel’s main population centers, economic hubs and international airport. Withdrawing from southern Lebanon in 2000 enabled Hezbollah, a terrorist organization, to acquire a missile arsenal greater than that of many national armies, aimed straight at Israel.

All this has convinced most Israelis that barring a radical and unforeseen change in Palestinian behavior, ceding the West Bank would be militarily suicidal. And since a one-state solution still looks demographically suicidal, that leaves some version of the status quo as the least bad option – not only for Israel but even for the Palestinians, as I’ll explain in a subsequent column.

So is conditional Zionism anti-Semitic? That depends on the conditions. But nowadays, the key condition usually involves suicidal Israeli concessions to the Palestinians. Thus today’s conditional Zionists require one nation, of all the nations in the world, to destroy itself for another’s sake. And yes, that’s anti-Semitic.
Petra Marquardt-Bigman: Palestine Misunderstood
From my home on the southern outskirts of Tel Aviv, I hear the Muslim call to prayer every day as it issues from a mosque half a mile away in neighboring Jaffa. Jewish Israelis see Arabic on their money, on street signs, on buses, and on the labels adorning foodstuffs that provide consumers with nutritional information. They hear Arabic in the stores, shopping malls, and cafes they routinely frequent. And if they visit a clinic or hospital, Jewish Israelis will hear Arabic spoken by their fellow patients, and by the doctors and nurses who tend to them. Israel may be the world’s only Jewish state, but Arabs account for roughly 21 percent of its population, so the sounds and sights of the Arabic language are simply part of daily life in this corner of the Levant.

So I was surprised to learn, from an article written by Michael Humeniuk for Quillette, that “when Jewish Israelis hear spoken Arabic, which they perceive as screams, they don’t know if a bomb is about to go off or one guy is simply complimenting another guy’s shoes.” Humeniuk is from Toronto, and his article is a well written and (presumably) well intentioned attempt to look beyond the “solemn stereotypes” he and other Westerners have absorbed of Palestinians “as freedom fighter or terrorist—geopolitical character actors within the grand narrative of what is vaguely described as ‘the Middle East conflict.’” Others, like him, who have travelled to Middle East because they are “touched and troubled by the plight of the Palestinians,” are so preoccupied by the politics of the conflict that they forget to notice “the Palestinian people themselves—how they cook and eat, how they tease and flirt, how they celebrate and mourn.” It is to this unenlightened view that Humeniuk wishes to offer a corrective.

Unfortunately, as Humeniuk relates his experiences in Palestine’s de facto capital, it becomes increasingly evident that he knows little about the region, its people, or its complexities. And so his lesson (audaciously entitled “Ramallah for Beginners”) soon lapses into tiresome clichés that contrast a heavily fortified and paranoid Israeli state with a portrait of peaceable donkey-riding Palestinians quietly tending their picturesque olive groves or enjoying the city’s party life (“cheaper and more welcoming,” we are told, than that offered by Tel Aviv). This perspective not only misunderstands the fraught history and political present of the region, but it unhelpfully caricatures Israeli Jews and Palestinian Arabs on both sides of the Green Line that separated Israel and the Jordanian-annexed West Bank before the Six Day War of 1967.

Humeniuk’s essay lends implicit support to the notion that a Palestinian state will be modern, open, and peaceful, if not positively progressive, and not the bastion of fanaticism that exists in Israelis’ fearful imagination. The wishful thinking this requires is betrayed by his own testimony. Lest Humeniuk and his Jewish-Canadian friend Ari are mistaken for Israeli settlers, they take care to disguise their Nissan Micra by hanging Islamic prayer beads from the rear-view mirror and laying a Keffiyeh—”the black-and-white scarf symbolic of Palestinian opposition to Israel”—across the dashboard. “You’re also,” he adds, “supposed to smoke—constantly—as many Palestinian men do.” This subterfuge is presumably intended to emphasize the importance of local knowledge, but it also suggests that recognizable Jews should worry about attracting the kind of dangerous hostility from Ramallah’s populace conspicuously absent from the rest of Humeniuk’s account.

How Iran Became a Home to Jewish Refugees from Soviet-Occupied Poland
In 1942, over 100,000 refugees of Polish origin made their way to Iran. Many had been in the eastern parts of Poland during the Soviet invasion, and were from there exiled by Stalin to Central Asia, whence they made their way to Iran. Others had been part of the so-called Anders Army, a Polish fighting force organized with the approval of London and Moscow to fight Germany. Among both soldiers and civilians were a large number of Jews; one of the officers, in fact, was the future Israeli prime minister Menachem Begin. Mikhal Dekel tells part of their story:

Three thousand, perhaps more, [of the refugees] were Jewish, including four rabbis and nearly 1,000 unaccompanied children who were taken from Polish orphanages in the Soviet Union. There were also several hundred Polish Jewish stowaways, recent converts to Catholicism, women who pretended to be married to Polish officers, and the like.

Christian and Jewish Polish citizens had been exiled by the Soviets together, first from Soviet-occupied Poland to the Soviet interior and later to the Central Asian republics. In Central Asia, they received aid that was collected by U.S.-based and international Jewish and Catholic charities and distributed by representatives of the Polish government in exile; in the Uzbek Soviet Socialist Republic’s cities of Samarkand and Bukhara, Jewish and Christian children were housed jointly in Polish orphanages. And amid tensions and animosity—Jewish refugees received less aid, Jewish children were sometimes taunted and beaten in Polish orphanages—there had also been the intimacy of Polish-speaking citizens who shared a common fate.

These discrepancies only worsened in Iran, until assistance from the Jewish Agency for Palestine was able to provide some support.
Britain's German-Born Jewish "Secret Listeners" Helped Win World War II
Historian Helen Fry describes in her new book, The Walls Have Ears: The Greatest Intelligence Operation of World War II, how captured Nazi generals were confined at Trent Park, a stately country house in north London that resembled a gentleman's club. But unbeknownst to, and unsuspected by, the Nazi military commanders, Trent Park was wired for sound. "The generals did not realize that everything that could be bugged was - from the light fittings to the fireplaces, plant pots...under floorboards of the bedrooms, and even the trees in the garden," Fry says. The house and its surrounding estate were nothing less than "a theatrical stage set."

Unseen by the generals, an army of "secret listeners" - many of them Jewish refugees - eavesdropped on their conversations from a basement room. The conversations were transcribed, translated, and passed on to intelligence agencies and government departments. Fry's book draws on thousands of transcripts and reports in Britain's National Archives which were released in the late 1990s.

The eavesdropping elicited a wealth of intelligence: on the Germans' battle plans, new technology being developed by the Nazis on U-boats and aircraft, and the progress of Hitler's secret weapons program that produced the V1 and V2 rockets. There were also graphic eyewitness accounts of the mass murder of Jews in the East - by the very men who had perpetrated them. "The unguarded conversations of the generals revealed to the intelligence services that Germany's military commanders not only knew about the war crimes committed, but some were complicit in it," writes Fry.
Azerbaijani national hero provides a paradigm for Jewish-Muslim relations
More than 25 years after his death in battle, a state-recognized Jewish hero of a Muslim-majority nation illustrates a contemporary vision for warm relations between those two faiths.

The Eurasian nation of Azerbaijan recently erected a monument in the capital of Baku in commemoration of Albert Agarunov (1969-1992)—one of the first citizens to posthumously receive his government’s highest military recognition, the National Hero of Azerbaijan.

A casualty of the 1988-1994 Nagorno-Karabakh war, Agarunov earned his status among the Azerbaijani people as a proud Jewish citizen of his newly independent post-Soviet state. While the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the Nagorno-Karabakh territory persists to this day, Azerbaijani discussions of this struggle invariably circle back to Agarunov.

Azerbaijan’s population is more than 90 percent Muslim. Agarunov was a member of the community known as Mountain Jews in the region of Quba in northern Azerbaijan. On Dec. 8, 1991, he and his colleague, Agababa Huseynov, disabled several Armenian tanks and armored trucks.
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Armenia set a bounty on Agarunov’s head. In May 1992, Agarunov, 23, was killed while trying to save his fellow soldiers as they defended the Azerbaijani town of Shusha, which Azerbaijan cherished as its historic cultural capital in the Nagorno-Karabakh region.
The last Jews in Afghanistan argued so much the Taliban kicked them out of prison and stole their Torah
As the old saying goes, two Jews, three opinions. Add one headache for the Taliban.

Meet Zabulon Simentov, 66, who is believed to be the last remaining Jew in Afghanistan. Emran Feroz recently profiled Simentov for Foreign Policy and uncovered some incredible stories about the feisty Afghan — including that the Taliban once imprisoned him for arguing with a fellow Jew, then kicked him out because the constant bickering became too annoying.

There is a good amount of information available already on Simentov, given his newsworthy title as Afghanistan’s last remaining Jew. He always wears a kippah and observes the Jewish Sabbath, though he will watch television if a non-Jew has turned it on for him. He lives in Afghanistan’s last standing synagogue — which he renovated himself — in the heart of Kabul’s flower district. Every Shabbat, he reads Torah from the bimah of the old sanctuary. He hates the Taliban, and is on a quest to reclaim a Torah stolen by its interior ministry. He allegedly charges a pretty penny (or euro) for interviews.

But Feroz’s article, framed around the imminent return of the Taliban to Afghanistan, adds much to the story.

“Everyone in these streets knows [him],” one neighbor told Feroz. “He is very salient and, sometimes, he is very choleric. But we have fun with him.”

Jews have more than a thousand-year history in Afghanistan, and only slowly began emigrating after World War II. But the rise of communism, the Red Army’s persecution of religious people across Central Asia and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979 led the Jews of Afghanistan to leave for good to Israel, the United States and elsewhere.
After Baghdadi, Iran Should Be Trump's Next Priority
President Donald Trump's constant refrain about withdrawing US forces from the Middle East is... an enormous source of concern for Gulf leaders, who historically have relied heavily on the US to protect their interests. It is a measure of their disquiet that Russian President Vladimir Putin received a warm reception during his recent visits to Riyadh and Abu Dhabi, as Arab governments sought to weigh up their options in the event that they can no longer rely on Washington to safeguard their security requirements.

Allowing Mr Putin a foothold in Syria is one thing; enabling the Kremlin open access to the oil-rich Gulf states is quite another, and is not a prospect that Mr Trump should entertain.

From Washington's perspective, the Gulf states are vital allies in the Trump administration's confrontation with Tehran. So, rather than constantly sending signals that he is no longer interested in supported America's allies in the Middle East, the president should seek to reassure them that, while the nature of America's military dispositions in the region may be changing, Washington's support for its allies remains as strong as ever.

Mr Trump might do well to understand that having the Gulf states on his side is vital if he is to succeed in his campaign to force Tehran to renegotiate the flawed nuclear deal. Preventing Iran from developing nuclear weapons is, after all, just as important for the Trump administration as destroying the terrorist masterminds that run ISIS.
US conducts first northeast Syria border patrol since pullback
US forces patrolled part of Syria’s border with Turkey on Thursday in the first such move since Washington withdrew troops from the area earlier this month, an AFP correspondent reported.

Five armored vehicles bearing US flags patrolled a strip of the frontier north of the town of Qahtaniyah, an area where regime forces were expected to deploy as part of a deal with Turkey, the correspondent said.

The patrol was accompanied by Kurdish fighters of the Syrian Democratic Forces, the main US ally in the years-long battle against the Islamic State group.

US forces used to patrol the section of border north of Qahtaniyah before Washington announced its pullback on October 6.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said it is part of an eastern stretch of the frontier where US forces are seeking to maintain a presence.

“They want to prevent Russia and the regime from reaching parts of the border that lie east of the city of Qamishli,” the de-facto capital of Syria’s Kurdish minority, Observatory head Rami Abdul Rahman said.

The patrol follows the arrival of US reinforcements in Syria from neighboring Iraq in recent days, in what has been seen as a reversal of US President Donald Trump’s pullout order.
MEMRI: Articles In Arab Press: ISIS Leader Al-Baghdadi Served The U.S. And Was Eliminated After His Role Ended
The killing of ISIS leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi in Idlib, Syria, announced by U.S. President Trump on October 27, 2019, was met with approval and praise from some Arab countries, including Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Egypt.[1] However, most of the articles on this topic in these countries' government and pro-regime press took a very different view, attacking the U.S. These articles accused the West, led by the U.S., of creating and cultivating the terror organizations, and claimed that Al-Baghdadi was a product of Western and other intelligence apparatuses and had served them until he was no longer needed – at which point they eliminated him. Some of the articles emphasized that President Trump had timed the operation for maximum political gain ahead of the U.S. presidential election. [2]

Syria issued no official response to Al-Baghdadi's killing, but its press as well leveled similar accusations at the U.S.

The following are translated excerpts from articles in the Saudi, Egyptian, Jordanian, and Syrian government dailies criticizing and accusing the U.S. following Al-Baghdadi's killing.

Egyptian Columnist: America Is The Father And Mother Of Terrorism

'Abd Al-Qader Muhammad 'Ali wrote in his October 28 column in the Egyptian daily Akhbar Al-Yawm: "America created Osama bin Laden, who carried out his mission in the best possible manner. When his role was ended, it killed him. After that, [America] created Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, and after he carried out what was required of him and more, it killed him [too]. America is the father and mother of terrorism!..."[3]
Netanyahu told ministers Trump can’t be counted on to act against Iran — report
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told a group of ministers recently that they should not expect the US to take serious action against Iran for at least the next year, according to a report Thursday.

Netanyahu on Thursday hinted publicly for the first time at unease with Washington’s hesitancy to take action, echoing statements in recent weeks from officials speaking off the record about Iran’s growing boldness.

“Iran’s brazenness in the region is increasing and even getting stronger in light of the absence of a response,” he said at an IDF officer’s graduation ceremony.

Privately, according to a report from Channel 13 news Thursday, he has been more vocal.

Several weeks ago, Netanyahu told cabinet members in a closed-door meeting that US President Donald Trump would not act against Iran until US general elections in November 2020 at the earliest, according to the report.

The report, which did not cite a source for the information, said Netanyahu told the ministers that in the interim Israel would have to deal with Iran on its own.

Israeli military officials have expressed fears in recent days that Iran is beginning to respond to Israeli attacks on its positions in Syria, emboldened by a perceived lack of resolve from the US, which has signaled its disengagement from the region.
Iranian aggression bringing Arabs and Israelis closer together: Trump Mideast envoy
President Trump’s departing Middle East envoy says he is saddened to be leaving the job before publication of a much-delayed Israeli-Palestinian peace plan but believes that the two sides are closer than ever after years of Iranian aggression in the region.

Jason Greenblatt steps down as special representative for international negotiations at the end of the week.

After 2 1/2 working alongside Jared Kushner in the role, he told the Washington Examiner that an Israeli-Palestinian deal would be Iran’s “worst nightmare.”

“The Iranian regime’s regional aggression has brought the Arab nations and Israel closer together,” the former attorney for the pre-White House Trump and the Trump Organization said in an answer to emailed questions. “I think we’re seeing that this cooperation can ultimately help advance diplomatic progress in other areas, hopefully including peace efforts.”

Political turbulence in Israel has stalled publication of the full plan, and so far only the economic portion, proposing massive investment in the Palestinian territories, has been released.

At the same time, critics suggest Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and his apparent closeness to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who was in power for a decade before finishing second in last month’s general election, had alienated Palestinian leaders.

Greenblatt, 52, said it was part of a new approach that involved speaking “hard truths.”

“The president’s bold, courageous and historic decision to move our embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, the capital of Israel, was absolutely the right decision,” he said. “It was also the fulfillment of a U.S. law from 1995 that every president pushed off until President Trump. Peace can only be built on reality.”

LA Times Misleads on US Policy, International Law and Jerusalem, Golan
In an Oct. 15 Los Angeles Times news analysis (“Trump’s rash exit from Syria . . . “), Tracy Wilkinson falsely declares that the recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, the relocation of the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and the American recognition of Israeli sovereignty in the Golan Heights all contravene international law. She wrote:
Until now, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has enjoyed extraordinarily close and unquestioningly loyal relations with Trump. The U.S. president seemed willing to grant Netanyahu’s every wish: He recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and moved the U.S. Embassy to the contested holy city, then put icing on the cake by also recognizing Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, captured from Syria in the 1967 Middle East War. Both steps contravened international law and decades of U.S. policy.

There is no international law or legal document that prohibits other countries’ recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. While there are controversial, politically-based U.N. resolutions that oppose Israel’s Jerusalem Law — U.N. Resolution 476 (1980) states that Israel’s Jerusalem Law is “null and void and must be rescinded,” while Resolution 478 (1980), reiterates this, calling on countries to withdraw their missions from Jerusalem as a punitive measure — they do not carry any legal weight. They are based on Chapter VI, as opposed to Chapter VII (which has legal weight) of the U.N. Charter, and therefore constitute recommendations rather than accepted international law. Nor do these resolutions invalidate or outlaw other countries’ recognition of the city as Israel’s capital.

UN Resolution 181, the General Assembly Partition resolution that is so often touted as the basis for determining Jerusalem’s legal status, called for Jerusalem to be considered a corpus separatum. But that resolution was also a recommendation rather than a legally binding document. Moreover, it was rejected in its entirety by the Arabs, rendering the corpus separatum provision invalid.
Israel and the Kurds strive to maintain post-US relationship
When US President Donald Trump announced the withdrawal of American troops from northeastern Syria, Israeli politicians from Right and Left rushed to express their overt support and sympathy for the abandoned Kurds. Party leaders having nothing in common with each other – people who usually can’t stand being in the same room – were now speaking passionately on the Kurdish issue in practically the same words.

New Right MK Ayelet Shaked mentioned that “the creation of a Kurdish state is a vital Israeli interest,” while Blue and White MK Zvi Hauser, who called two years ago for the creation of a no-fly zone in the Kurdish-held areas in Syria, said: “Israel will send humanitarian aid to the Kurds.” MK Eli Avidar, of Yisrael Beytenu, cited the long history of relations between Israel and the Kurds and said that “Israel must stand with the Kurds.”

Civic leaders, as well as rank-and-file Israelis, have been refusing to remain indifferent to the plight of the Kurds in Syria.
Several pro-Kurdish demonstrations took place in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, with hundreds of Israelis (some, but not all of them, of Kurdish descent) demanding justice for the Kurds and an end to Turkish aggression. NGOs in Israel and throughout the Jewish world joined forces to provide humanitarian aid for the refugees. Dozens of IDF reservists published an open letter calling for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to intervene and provide military and humanitarian assistance to the Kurds.

In light of all this, why is it that, of all people, the Kurds are so popular in Israel? And what kind of assistance, beyond nice words and empathy, can Israel now offer the Kurds in Syria and elsewhere?

Israel’s ‘favorite nation’

Relations between Israel and the Kurds go back more than 60 years. The periphery doctrine, a foreign policy strategy that called for Israel to develop close strategic alliances with non-Arab states and non-state actors in the Middle East that were resisting the hostility of Arab countries, was adopted by former prime minister David Ben-Gurion in the early days of the state’s existence.
Silver jubilee of Israel-Jordan peace brings exaggerated disappointment
As the above information is available on the media, one may speculate that the actual extent of cooperation is even wider. All the Israelis involved in Israeli-Jordanian relations whom I interviewed during my research on Israel’s clandestine relations with its neighbors admitted that the military and intelligence relations between the two countries have been excellent.

The economic sphere, which largely operates covertly, saw a significant rise in the last decade regarding the transfer of trade between Israel and the Gulf through Jordan. Israel, according to Mitvim’s Yitzhak Gal, imports petro-chemical products as well as other products from the economic free zones in the Gulf. In addition, Jordan uses the Haifa Port, particularly after the closure of the land transfer through Syria, in order to export products to Turkey, Russia and Eastern Europe. The same route is used to deliver products to Jordan and the Gulf. Thus, Jordan constitutes an important link for Israel to another field of clandestine activity – the Gulf.

For many years, Israel has suffered from what I call the Mistress Syndrome – the fact that Arab countries and minorities in the Middle East prefer to keep their relations with Israel out of the public eye. Israel expected that its relationship with its Arab neighbors would change and become public when a formal peace treaty is signed. True, diplomatic relations were initiated and embassies were opened, but the main channel of relations remained hidden. The Mossad, the Defense Ministry and the Prime Minister’s Office envoys, on the Israeli side, and their Jordanian counterparts, became the main channels of communication. Both sides apparently found it useful to rely on agencies that would guarantee the secrecy of their contacts and prevent leaks. The foreign offices, on both sides, were not considered reliable.

The result was that Jordan (and Egypt, as well) kept the better part of their relations with Israel behind closed doors. So, in many ways – despite the peace treaties and Israel’s military strength – Israel has remained a desired, yet hidden, mistress. It should be emphasized that the main reason for this anomaly is the lack of resolution of the Palestinian problem. To become a publicly recognized partner, Israel must deliver on the Palestinian issue. Until then, the Israeli-Jordanian peace treaty or the absence of silver jubilee celebrations should not be a cause of disappointment.
NGO Monitor: NGO Monitor Analysis: 42nd Session of the UN Human Rights Council
The 42nd Session of the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC), held September 9 – 27, continued the bias and hypocrisy that is characteristic of the UN in general and the UNHRC in particular. NGO Monitor was present, speaking before the Council and documenting the numerous false accusations made by self-proclaimed human rights non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

The statements made during the session and side events by officials from NGOs, many of which receive large portions of their funding from European governments, are summarized below, highlighting the false allegations and political warfare.
Item 7

UNHRC Permanent Agenda Item 7 is the only permanent agenda item targeting a single country, namely Israel. Numerous Western countries boycott this agenda item because of the inherent discrimination. At this session, the discussion consisted almost entirely of authoritarian regimes calling for the publication of a UN BDS blacklist of companies allegedly doing business over the 1949 Armistice line and praising the existence of Item 7 on the Council’s agenda.

For instance, Human Rights Watch (HRW) continued to target Israel and lobbying the High Commissioner for Human Rights to publish the discriminatory and illegal BDS blacklist.1 Other European-government funded NGOs promoting BDS that participated in the debate included Al-Haq and the World Council of Churches (WCC).
NGO Monitor PodCast: Season 2, Episode 4: A Good UN Report on Antisemitism?
Who is the UN's Special Rapporteur on Antisemitism? Is the UN report on antisemitism actually helping to combat it? How does Israel fit into this report? Can this report help bring about change? Join us this week as our host Yona Schiffmiller and UN expert Anne Herzberg delve into these questions.
A speechwriter’s efforts to shift Israel’s standing at the U.N.
Every time Israeli Ambassador to the U.N. Ron Prosor delivered an attention-grabbing speech in Turtle Bay, Aviva Klompas, a Canadian native, felt “immense pride” that her words were contributing to Israel’s diplomatic successes.

Klompas, who served as Prosor’s speechwriter during his tenure at the U.N. from 2013-2015, offers a behind-the-scenes look at her work at the Israeli Mission in a new book, titled Speaking for Israel: A Speechwriter Battles Anti-Israel Opinions at the United Nations.

Klompas writes that when she was hired she was told her new boss “loved cheesy one-liners and insisted on having them in almost all of his speeches.” For Klompas, changing the tone of her writing and adjusting it be more direct and humorous was a challenge. Her previous work in the diplomatic field was for the Canadian government — first as a senior policy advisor for the Ontario government and in the Cabinet Office overseeing the portfolios of the transportation and infrastructure ministries.The transition, she explained in an interview with Jewish Insider, was “a steep learning curve.”

“Once I understood Ron’s thinking, we fell into a comfortable partnership and started producing speeches that captured attention,” she writes.

Klompas said she felt “immense pride” that her words were used in an effective manner. “Every time I heard a representative deliver a speech that I wrote in the UN, it was just a remarkable thing to know that you’re standing in the course of history to be able to participate and to have this front row seat, not just to what’s happening, but to actually give words to what’s happening,” she told JI. “That I count as one of the greatest blessings of my career in terms of successes. If the next day I saw a quote in the newspaper or I saw a headline ripped from the speech, I mean that is about one of the most incredible feelings because it means that the message that you intended to put into the world was picked up.”
Ha'aretz: An Israeli-Arab Psychologist Has Become Germany's Staunchest Islam Critic
Israeli-born psychologist and author Ahmad Mansour, 43, one of Germany's most prominent critics of Islam, established MIND Prevention, the institute for democratization and prevention of extremism, in Berlin. Two of his books featured on Der Spiegel's best-seller list in recent years. Mansour, who left Israel 15 year ago, dedicates much of his time to fighting anti-Semitism and hatred of Israel among Muslims.

Asked about anti-Semitism in Germany, Mansour said: "In the big cities, it is dangerous today to walk the streets with a kippah or Star of David. There is an Israeli restaurant in Berlin that is attacked weekly. Youths are attacked in schools because of their Judaism. I spoke with the principal of a Jewish high school in Berlin. He says people register their children there not necessarily because it's Jewish, but rather because their children suffer in public schools [from bullying, etc.]. There are [Jewish] families who are thinking of emigrating. There are people I work with, my friends, who talk about it daily. They're scared."
Rocket Fired From Gaza Into Southern Israel, IDF Hits Back With Strikes on Hamas Targets
A rocket was fired from the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip into southern Israel on Thursday evening.

Yediot Ahronot reported that warning sirens were heard around 8 p.m. local time in Israeli communities near the Gaza border and residents reported hearing a single explosion.

An IDF spokesman said a rocket launch was detected and an Iron Dome aerial defense battery was activated. It is not clear whether the rocket was intercepted or fell in an open area. No injuries or damage were reported.

Later on Thursday, the IDF responded with strikes on two Hamas military positions in northern Gaza.

The rocket fire came following a period of relative calm along the Israel-Gaza border. False alarms were sounded on Sunday and last Thursday, one of them prompting the activation of Iron Dome, though this was later revealed to be the result of a misidentification.

At the beginning of October, two rockets were launched from Gaza, but fell inside the Strip.
Israel to Extradite Russian Hacker to US, Ending Hopes of Prisoner Exchange
Israeli Justice Minister Amir Ohana on Wednesday signed the extradition order of Russian hacker Aleksey Burkov, who is wanted in the United States on suspicion of cyber crimes.

Burkov’s extradition ends hopes of a prisoner exchange with Russia whereby Russia would release American-Israel Naama Issachar, 26, who has been imprisoned in Russia since earlier this year for drug-related offenses.

The extradition order was signed “after many in-depth deliberations in recent weeks, with various parties, among them political and legal figures,” said Ohana in a statement.

Lawyers for Issachar’s family met with the justice minister earlier this month to argue against going through with the extradition, saying the move would be a severe blow to their daughter, who was sentenced by a Russian court earlier this month to seven-and-a-half years in prison after nearly 10 grams of cannabis was found in her carry-on bag during a stopover in Moscow.

According to reports in the US and Israeli media, the harsh sentence may have been intended as retaliation for Israel’s refusal to release Burkov into Russian custody.
Khaled Abu Toameh: Detainee at center of Israel-Jordan crisis maintains her innocence
Heba Labadi, the Jordanian woman arrested by Israel in August for involvement in “serious security violations,” has denied the charges against her and expressed hope that she would soon be reunited with her family.

MK Ahmed Tibi (Joint List), who met with Labadi at the Kishon Detention Facility on Thursday, expressed concern over her health as a result of the hunger strike she began 38 days ago. Labadi was arrested when she arrived at the Allenby Bridge on her way to attend the wedding of a cousin in the West Bank.

“Her self-confidence is high and she rejects all charges against her, which are completely unfounded,” Tibi said after visiting Labadi in prison. “I found a prisoner confident of herself, and her strong national political position is firm. She is determined to continue the hunger strike until she’s released. She said she misses her family and thanks all those who expressed solidarity with her.”

In response to reports that Labadi had met with Hezbollah terrorists during a recent visit to Lebanon, Tibi said she strongly denied the charge, telling her interrogators that she only traveled to that country to see her sister. “She insists she’s innocent,” he added.

On Wednesday, the Jordanian deputy ambassador to Israel also visited Labadi in prison.

After Israeli plea, US cutting $105 million in military aid to Lebanon — report
The State Department has reportedly decided to withhold $105 million in military aid to Lebanon, a day after Israel said it was asking international donors to withhold funds amid political turbulence in Beirut.

The State Department informed Congress Thursday of its decision to withhold the aid, Reuters reported.

No reason was given for the move, which came as the country has been rocked by weeks of anti-government protests that have pushed prime minister Saad Hariri from office and raised questions about the political future of Lebanon.

On Wednesday, Israeli officials said they had asked allies to condition any aid to Lebanon on efforts to get rid of advanced arms stationed there.

“In discreet talks with various capitals, we made it clear that any aid meant to guarantee the stability of Lebanon needs to be conditioned on Lebanon dealing with Hezbollah’s precision-guided missiles,” a senior official said, speaking on condition of anonymity. “Anything short of that will be problematic, in our eyes.”

There was no immediate confirmation of the Reuters report.

The Trump administration has levied a series of sanctions on Hezbollah, which maintains its own militia. At the same time, it had sought approval for military aid to Beirut as a means of strengthening the army there as a bulwark against the Iran-backed group and regional instability.
Report: Iran intervenes to prevent ousting of Iraqi PM
Iran has stepped in to prevent the ouster of Iraqi Prime Minister Abdel Abdul Mahdi by two of Iraq's most influential figures amid weeks of anti-government demonstrations, sources close to both men told Reuters.

Populist Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr demanded this week that Abdul Mahdi call an early election to quell the biggest mass protests in Iraq since the US-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein in 2003.

The demonstrations are fuelled by anger at corruption and widespread economic hardship.

Sadr had urged his main political rival Hadi al-Amiri, whose alliance of Iran-backed militias is the second-biggest political force in parliament, to help oust Abdul Mahdi.

But in a secret meeting in Baghdad on Wednesday, Qassem Soleimani, head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards' elite black-ops arm Quds Force, intervened. Soleimani asked Amiri and his militia leaders to keep supporting Abdul Mahdi, according to five sources with knowledge of the meeting.

Spokesmen for Amiri and Sadr could not be reached for comment. An Iranian security official confirmed Soleimani was at Wednesday's meeting, saying he was there to "give advice."

"Iraq's security is important for us and we have helped them in the past. The head of our Quds Force travels to Iraq and other regional countries regularly, particularly when our allies ask for our help," the Iranian official said, asking not to be named.
US extends nuclear waivers, puts new sanctions on Iran
The Trump administration is keeping alive one of the last remaining components of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal by extending sanctions waivers that allow foreign companies to work with Iran’s civilian nuclear program without US penalties.

The waivers had been due to expire Tuesday but were extended by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for another 90 days. The extensions were not announced until Thursday.

Pompeo has been a champion of President Donald Trump’s maximum pressure campaign on Iran.

State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said the move “will help preserve oversight of Iran’s civil nuclear program, reduce proliferation risks, constrain Iran’s ability to shorten its ‘breakout time’ to a nuclear weapon, and prevent the regime from reconstituting sites for proliferation-sensitive purposes.”

Pompeo also announced new sanctions on Iran’s construction sector, which he determined to be under the control of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. The IRGC was designated earlier this year as a “foreign terrorist organization.”

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Elder of Ziyon - حـكـيـم صـهـيـون

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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