Wednesday, December 25, 2019

From Ian:

Honest Reporting: Jesus Was a Jew, Not a Palestinian
A variation of this claim, that Jesus was actually a Philistine, also features as a staple of anti-Israel propaganda, including the roundly debunked notion that Palestinians are actually Canaanites.

The idea that Palestinians are Philistines is equally false.

Unlike modern day Jews and Palestinians, the Philistines were an ancient, non-Semitic, sea-faring people, whose form of worship was unconnected to the Abrahamic religions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

In other words, the Philistine ethnicity, culture and religion are all entirely different from that of modern day Palestinians.

The Philistine connection to the Israelites began when the former invaded and occupied a portion of the Kingdom of Israel in about 1000 BCE, but were later defeated by ancient Israel’s King David.

In roughly the seventh century CE, the Philistines were conquered by the Kingdom of Babylonia and subsequently wiped out as a distinct culture.

In other words, in addition to being culturally, ethnically and religiously unrelated to Jews or Palestinians, the Philistines no longer exist.

However you look at it, the truth is in no doubt: Jesus was a Jew.



JPost Editorial: A Christian crisis in Gaza and the West Bank
In the Gaza Strip, the Christian population has plummeted from about 3,000 a decade ago to an estimated 1,000 today, most of them Greek Orthodox.

On Sunday, the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) reversed a decision made earlier this month, making the welcome announcement that in accordance with “security orders,” Gaza Christians would be allowed to travel to the holy cities of Jerusalem and Bethlehem, and elsewhere in Judea and Samaria, for Christmas.

The situation of Christians in Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus, has deteriorated dramatically in the last century, and especially since the PA took control of the city in 1995. In 1947, Christians comprised about 85% of the city’s population, but that figure had plunged to 16% by 2016, and is estimated since then.

Bethlehem’s mayor at the time said that, “Due to the stress – either physical or psychological – and the bad economic situation, many people are emigrating: either Christians or Muslims, but it is more apparent among Christians because they already are a minority.”

A study by the Pew Research Center found that the decline in the Arab Christian population was both a result of a lower birth rate among Christians compared to Muslims and the fact that Christians were more likely to emigrate than any other religious group. A statistical analysis of the Christian exodus cited a lack of economic and educational opportunities among a community known for its middle-class status and higher education.

Christianity is the world’s largest religion, with an estimated 2.4 billion adherents (almost a third of the world’s 7.8 billion people). While it may seem ironic that the only place in the Middle East where Christians are thriving is the Jewish state, it is also a cause for concern. We wish our Christian readers a happy Christmas – and pray along with them for those undergoing persecution for practicing their faith.
No Sign of Christmas in Gaza
Out of 3,000 Christians who lived in Gaza in 2007 when Hamas seized power, no more than 700-800 remain, among 1.8 million Muslims. Gazan Christian Khalil Sayegh told me, "The Christians are suffering from the current situation in Hamas-controlled Gaza....They cannot hold government jobs. But, in addition...Christians in Gaza have to tolerate being harassed in the streets just for being Christians."

"While Hamas claims to protect Christians, its presence in Gaza has empowered Islamist radicals who harass Christians and even physically attack them....There have been several attempts to bomb Gazan churches."

I asked Khalil if there are any Christmas decorations in Gaza. He explained that a YMCA facility is decorated, but only inside the building. Otherwise there's no sign of holiday festivity in the streets. The authorities "reject any indication of Christian celebration." The writer is an adjunct fellow at Hudson Institute's Center for Religious Freedom.



NGO Monitor: Terror-linked and boycott promoting NGOs behind potential ICC investigation
On December 20, 2019, Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) Fatou Bensouda announced that she intends to investigate alleged war crimes in the “State of Palestine.” This move is to a significant degree the product of consistent and heavy lobbying of the ICC for over a decade by non-governmental organizations (NGOs). These include Human Rights Watch (HRW), Amnesty International, and a number of groups with ties to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) terror group, and funded by Europe.

In some instances, the European funding to Palestinian NGOs was explicitly earmarked for their activities vis-à-vis the ICC. For instance, during the 2014 Gaza conflict, the Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law Secretariat – a joint funding mechanisms of the governments of Switzerland, Sweden, the Netherlands, and Denmark – distributed “emergency funding” to Palestinian NGOs to document “large scale violations of human rights and international humanitarian law – the majority against Palestinian civilians and civilian objects.”

These organizations are not credible sources of information for the court. Their ties to the PFLP terror group, as well as their promotion of BDS and other anti-Israel activities, should be disqualifying for any independent and objective body.

Human Rights Watch
Human Rights Watch (HRW) has also been a leading proponent of an ICC investigation targeting Israel. It has promoted this agenda by pushing the PA to ascend to the ICC, lobbying the ICC prosecutor, and publishing reports with spurious arguments alleging Israeli violations of international law.

Under the leadership of Executive Director Ken Roth, Middle East head Sarah Leah Whitson, and Israel and Palestine Country Director Omar Shakir, HRW has launched campaigns that seek to harm Israeli banks and soccer clubs, and have targeted platforms promoting tourism.

Amnesty International
Amnesty has called for ICC investigations into Israel surrounding its conflicts with Gaza in both 2009 and 2014.

Amnesty has long worked to advance BDS campaigns, including supporting BDS legislation in the US and in Ireland, as well as calling on governments to impose an arms embargo on Israel. Following the publication of its January 2019 report targeting tourism in Israel and the West Bank, Mayor of Frankfurt Uwe Becker stated, “Amnesty International is promoting ethnic cleansing…[and] walking in the footprints of the antisemitic BDS movement.”
INSS: The International Criminal Court and Israel
On Dec. 20, 2019, the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) announced her decision to launch an investigation into the "situation in Palestine." The decision relates to all actions taken in the West Bank, east Jerusalem, and Gaza since June 13, 2014.

In her legal opinion, the Prosecutor presents the reasons she believes Palestine can be viewed as a state for the purpose of Court jurisdiction. First, she asserts that the UN General Assembly's acceptance of Palestine as an observer state suffices to that end.

The Prosecutor argues that even though Palestine does not exercise full control over all of the territory of the West Bank and east Jerusalem, which is under Israeli control, and Gaza, which is under Hamas rule, it should still be recognized as a state in the entirety of the territory, given the fact that 138 states have recognized a state of Palestine.

From the Prosecutor's analysis it is clear she is convinced that Israel's policy in the territories is illegal. She clearly lends great weight to the decisions of UN bodies, including the General Assembly and the Human Rights Council, which are well-known for their decided anti-Israel bias.

The Prosecutor attributes little weight to the fact that the issues of the settlements and borders are meant to be decided in negotiations between the sides, and pays no heed to the complex security reality - totally ignoring, for example, the wave of terrorism early in the millennium [in which 1,137 Israelis were killed] in her detailed account of the historical background to the conflict.

The Court is more than likely to adopt the Prosecutor's position that its jurisdiction covers all of the "Occupied Palestinian Territories." These are the same judges who ruled in November 2018 that the Prosecutor must review her decision not to launch an investigation in the Marmara flotilla affair.

The Prosecutor's decision is not surprising, per se, as most expectations were that an investigation would be launched. Her decision was noticeably characterized by a total adoption of the Palestinian narrative on the conflict. Israel can expect a difficult battle, especially when it comes to the "crime" of the settlements.
Naftali Bennett: The Hague's ICC is home of modern antisemitism
The International Criminal Court in The Hague is where antisemitism is made, Defense Minister Naftali Bennett said Wednesday, days after the ICC’s chief prosecutor called to investigate alleged war crimes by Israel.

“The State of Israel will provide a legal Iron Dome for its soldiers and officers,” Bennett said at the graduation ceremony for the IAF pilots’ course. “You defend us; we’ll defend you. No soldier and no commander will be deterred from defending the lives of his nation and family because of the hypocritical court in The Hague.”

Bennett said that he is aware of the great stresses pilots face on missions, where they serve as Israel’s “long arm that accurately strikes those who seek to harm us.”

“An additional component has been added to this stress in recent days: The International Court in The Hague. We cannot allow this to weaken you,” he stated. “We won’t let this antisemitism enter the cockpit.”

Bennett said the ICC comes from an antisemitic starting point, such that Israel will always lose because it is the Jewish State, and Israel should not try to ingratiate itself to the court.
The Hague Tribunal: Will the curse become a blessing?
On today’s Israel Uncensored with Josh Hasten, an interview with Prof. Eugene Kontorovich, head of the International Law Department at the Kohelet Policy Forum, on the International Criminal Court’s decision to investigate Israel for alleged war crimes in Judea and Samaria.

Kontorovich says that while the ruling is simply political, it could be a blessing in disguise. Listen in to find out why.


We Know What the Results of the International Criminal Court "Investigation" Will Be
Fatou Bensouda, the ICC's chief prosecutor, has already adopted doubtful legal arguments made by the Palestinians that: The PLO comprises a state; all parts of Israel that were under illegal occupation by Jordan and Egypt from 1948-1967 - including the Old City of Jerusalem - belong to the state of Palestine; Jewish settlements are an international crime; and IDF soldiers are war criminals. Therefore, we already know what the results of the "investigation" will be.

Meanwhile, the many crimes by the Palestinians, from torture to acts of terrorism and the intent to commit genocide, are not considered enough of a basis for the ICC prosecution to launch an investigation.

As long as Israel continues to treat the ICC as a legal entity under the assumption that their intentions are good, and as long as Israel continues to make legal arguments as if anyone in the ICC is listening, it will continue to lose the battle. We must take more stringent political steps, like the U.S. already has, before the nightmare of indictments against IDF soldiers becomes a reality.
Australia rejects ICC Palestine probe; Germany warns against politicization
Australia rejected the effort by the International Criminal Court’s chief prosecutor to launch an investigation into the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, arguing that the matter must be resolved by the two parties at the negotiating table.

Germany, in a more nuanced stance, said it had full trust in the court, was confident the ICC’s judges would “address issues of admissibility,” and cautioned against politicization.

“Australia is concerned by the ICC prosecutor’s proposal to consider the situation in the Palestinian Territories, subject to a ruling by the court’s pre-trial chamber on the scope of the court’s territorial jurisdiction in the matter,” a spokesperson for Canberra’s Foreign Ministry told Australian-Jewish news site, J-Wire on Tuesday.

“Australia’s position is clear — we do not recognize a so-called ‘State of Palestine’ and we do not recognize that there is such a State Party to the ICC’s Rome Statute,” the spokesperson went on.

“We consider that the question of territory and borders can be resolved only through direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. This is the only way to ensure a durable and resilient peace.”

Israel’s Foreign Minister Israel Katz praised Australia for the statement and called on other governments to follow suit.
Vox Lies About Israel. AGAIN
The oh-so-very conscientious Middle East historians at Vox, who once landed themselves in hot water barely three months after website launch with the dissemination of laughable fake news about a purported land bridge connecting the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip with the biblical Jewish heartland of Judea and Samaria (i.e., the “West Bank”), are apparently up to it again.

As highlighted by Twitchy, Vox has written a piece about the post-Oslo Accords modern history of the city of Bethlehem that is, in the words of one venerable pro-Israel Twitter user, “inexcusably dishonest.” And it is.

Seven years following 1993’s fateful signing of Oslo I between the late Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and the late Palestinian-Arab unrepentant jihadist Yasser Arafat, Vox informs its readers, “tourism in Bethlehem … took a nosedive when the Israeli military invaded many of the West Bank’s major cities that were under Palestinian jurisdiction.” Vox continues: “As a political stalemate and expanding Israeli settlements led to the bloody Second Intifada, or uprising, the devastation and Israeli curfews kept tourists away; hotels closed and restaurants went out of business.”

This is not merely historical revisionism or tendentious distortion. It is an outright lie.

In reality, it was the terrorist Arafat who was singularly responsible for commencing the bloody Second Intifada — a four-plus-year sustained jihad during which over a thousand Israelis paid the ultimate price and thousands more were also wounded.

Although Arafat strategically waited to launch the Second Intifada until after then-Likud party prime minister candidate Ariel Sharon had the oh-so-shocking temerity to visit the Temple Mount, the holiest site in Judaism, in September 2000, it is now commonly known that Arafat had been planning the civilizational jihad at least since he rejected then-Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak’s exceedingly generous “two-solution” offer (96% of Judea and Samaria) at the U.S.-hosted Camp David Summit two months prior. The U.S. government’s own Mitchell Report on the subject, overseen by former Sen. George Mitchell (D-ME), made this quite clear:
Former UNRWA rep attacks Netanyahu in bizarre Christmas-themed Twitter rant
Former United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) spokesperson Chris Gunness launched into a bizarre Twitter rant this week against Israel and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Instead of celebrating Christmas by hailing goodwill toward men, Gunness decided to unleash scathing attacks on Israel through parodies of famous songs and poems heard during the holiday.

Addressing Netanyahu specifically, Gunness said:

"To Mr. Netanyahu,
You better watch out, you better not cry
You better not pout, I’m telling you why,
The ICC is coming to town.
They know you’ve done some war crimes
They know you you’ve been corrupt,
They know you’ve sanctioned settlements
You are absolutely f*****."

And in an even more egregious example, Gunness made fun of Palestinians who were brutally executed by Hamas after collaborating with Israel.





Bennett signs order preventing Israeli terrorists receiving 'pay-for-slay' money
Defense Minister Naftali Bennett has signed an order to prevent convicted terrorists with Israeli citizenship, and their families, from receiving payments from the Palestinian Authority.

In what are known as “pay-for-slay” payments, the PA guarantees financial support to Palestinians and Arab-Israelis who carry out attacks against Israeli citizens and are convicted or killed.

"We've moved to facts. This is another step in the campaign against terrorists, we are working so that Jewish blood will no longer be financially lucrative," Bennett said in a statement. He pledged to employ all the legal tools available to prevent terrorists to receive financial support.

According to the statement, this is the first time that Israel implements such a measure.
PMW: Israeli government seizes bank accounts of Israeli Arab terrorists, two days after PMW called for this action
So far the Israeli government action was limited to the bank accounts of a limited number of terrorists. But with the information available to the Israeli authorities, additional seizing of terror reward money from Israeli Arab terrorists can be expected.

Earlier this year, the Israeli government likewise acted soon after a PMW report. On January 24, 2019, PMW announced our calculations that the PA had paid 502 million shekels as salaries to terrorist prisoners in 2018, and that under the new Israeli law, Israel had to deduct this amount from the tax transfers Israel makes the Palestinian Authority in 2019.

Less than a month later, on February 17, 2019, Israel’s Security Cabinet announced that it would be deducting exactly that amount during the course of 2019 from the funds designated for transfer to the Palestinian Authority.

PMW continues to be the world leader exposing ethical, moral, and criminal violations by the Palestinian Authority which are the true impediments to peace. These PMW disclosures have led to international condemnations and financial measures against the PA, not only by Israel, but by many governments around the world, causing significant political and financial consequences to the PA.
Netanyahu announces 3,000 new units to be built in West Bank settlements
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that 3,000 new residential and industrial units would be built in settlements in the West Bank, Israel Hayom reported on Wednesday.

According to the report, the decision will be brought before the High Court for approval within two weeks.

The announcement came on the eve of the Likud Party primaries, which are scheduled for Thursday.

The topic of settlements has been central to Netanyahu’s campaign for general elections.

In August, ahead of the September election, Netanyahu promised to annex all settlements. He said he would start with the Jordan Valley immediately upon the formation of the government. However, no majority was found and the country is headed toward another general election on March 2.

On Monday, in a video posted on YouTube, appealing to Likud members to vote for him and not for his rival Gideon Sa’ar in the primaries, Netanyahu swore again to annex all the West Bank settlements.

“We are going to bring [secure] US recognition for our sovereignty in the Jordan Valley [and] in all the settlements, those in the blocs and those that are beyond it,” he said.
Jordan condemns Israeli Temple Mount visits
The Jordanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates condemned "ongoing Israeli violations against the Al-Aqsa Mosque" on Wednesday, according to Jordan's official news agency.

Dhaif Allah Al Fayez, the ministry spokesman, called the incursions a provocation to Muslims around the world and a violation of Israel's obligations as the occupying power. The Jordanian news agency mentioned a recent trip by an unnamed Israeli member of Knesset to the Temple Mount. Likud MK Sharren Haskel visited the Temple Mount recently, according to her spokesperson.

According to Temple Mount News, former MK Moshe Feiglin visited the Temple Mount with his son last week.

Al Fayez called for the end of the visits and respect of the status quo and stressed that the Temple Mount is a place of worship for Muslims only.


Egyptian gets 5 years for selling book about spy who tipped off Israel
The founder of an Egyptian publishing house was sentenced to five years in prison for distributing an Arabic version of an Israeli novel, his brother said Tuesday.

The novel, entitled “The Egyptian Spy Who Saved Israel,” by Israeli writer Uri Bar-Joseph, portrays Ashraf Marwan, the son-in-law of former Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser, as a spy for the Jewish state.

Khaled Lotfi has been on trial in a military court since 2018 for publishing an Arabic version of the book two years earlier.

The publisher, accused of having “divulged military secrets,” was sentenced to five years in prison despite appealing against an initial ruling, his brother Mahmoud Lotfi told AFP.

“There is no other recourse but a presidential pardon,” he said.

Marwan has been credited in Israel with telling Mossad head Zvi Zamir about a coming surprise attack on Yom Kippur 1973, though the warning was ultimately ignored and Israel was caught off guard.

A 2018 film based on the book, titled “The Angel,” was met with outrage by Egyptian media, which slated it as a manipulation of history.
Sniffer Dog Transfers to Jordan, Egypt Banned After Deaths and Maltreatment
U.S. trained and supplied specialist bomb detecting sniffer dogs will no longer be sent to Jordan and Egypt after several of the animals died due to what U.S. officials say was lack of care and maltreatment.

“Any death of a canine in the field is an extremely sad event and we will take every measure possible to prevent this from happening in the future,” a U.S. State Department official told reporters on Monday.

The dogs “play a critical role in our CT (counter-terrorism) efforts overseas and in saving American lives,” the spokesperson said, noting the program had now been running for 20 years with less than favorable results for the loyal canine companions.

In September, a U.S. report highlighted cases of negligence in dogs sent to Jordan, Egypt and eight other countries in recent years.

It followed another in 2016 filed after the State Department sent staff members, trainers and veterinarians on oversight visits and welfare checks to Jordan.

One such visit in April that year found canine parvovirus, described as “rampant” at a police facility, was the main cause of death for dogs there, the report said.

Some dogs had hip dysplasia and arthritis and had “lost the will to work,” it said. Dogs belonging to Jordan also showed overall signs of poor treatment and neglect.
UN, UK Treating Persecuted Christians as "Enemies"
"You have this absurd situation where the scheme is set up to help Syrian refugees and the people most in need, Christians who have been 'genocided,' they can't even get into the U.N. camps to get the food. If you enter and say I am a Christian or convert, the Muslim U.N. guards will block you [from] getting in... and even threaten you..." — Paul Diamond, British Human Rights Lawyer, CBN News, December 4, 2019.

Lord George Carey is suing the UK Home Office for allegedly being "institutionally biased" against Christian refugees and therefore complicit in what he calls "the steady crucifixion of Middle East Christians."

When it comes to offering asylum, the UK "appears to discriminate in favour of Muslims" instead of Christians. Statistics seemed to confirm this allegation: "out of 4,850 Syrian refugees accepted for resettlement by the Home Office in 2017, only eleven were Christian...." — Barnabas Fund, November 2, 2017.

A number of other Christian orderlies were also denied visas, including another nun with a PhD in biblical theology from Oxford; another nun denied for not having a personal bank account; and a Catholic priest denied for not being married.

Christian "infidels" need not apply, but radical Muslims are welcomed with open arms.
Barry Shaw: Lies Palestinians tell at Christmas
Dr. Khoury is a courageous Christian. According to his bio, he has been shot four times and the Palestinian Authority refuses to grant his church authority to function as a religious institution, but the brave pastor continues to care for his dwindling congregation. His church has been firebombed and defaced, his members attacked, not by Israelis but by Palestinian Muslims.

The pastor's son, Steven, told the 700 Club, "Christians are leaving because they are seeing that nobody is standing with them. They are seeing that extremism is growing, that an anti-Christian agenda is growing. Their ultimate goal is to put fear and submission into the heart of every Christian in the Middle East."

First, they came for the Saturday people. Then they came for the Sunday people. And shockingly, they are supported by radical elements among the Sunday people and a few of the Saturday people.

In a hundred-year conflict, ever since the anti-Semite Haj Amin al-Husseini set out on an incitement rampage exhorting Muslims to kill Jews. He was followed by Mahmoud Abbas his "pay-to-slay" incentive to kill Jews, Hamas, and Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

We cannot build a path to peace, or a future, on the assumption that the Palestinians will stop their lies, their hate campaign, and their obsessive desire to kill Jews, and persecute Christians.

In Bethlehem, they are doing to the Christians what they did to the Jews. They are driving them out.

The lies that Palestinian tell at Christmas is an indication of the root cause of the conflict.




'Limited conflict with Iran is possible,' IDF chief warns
"Winning wars isn’t enough. We have to make sure that we reach a decisive result that ensures deterrence," IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Aviv Kochavi said Wednesday.

Speaking at a security conference at the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya, Kochavi explained that "one of the IDF's roles is to ensure periods without wars. Winning wars isn’t enough – we have to manage security in a way that doesn’t test the public every two-three years.

"War is always the last resort but sometimes, war is a solution. Therefore, when we act, we will always be in a just moral position of acting with the purpose of defense rather than offense. Once we have been forced to reach this situation, we will not hesitate to employ the full force of the IDF, even in the urban sphere where the enemy has chosen to act," he said.

He further noted that regional changes have given way to a rise in the threats Israel faces.

"We are sparing no effort to stay one step ahead of the enemy. Every arena is active and we are dealing with a growing number of arenas and a growing number of enemies."

The enemy is also becoming increasingly sophisticated, he warned.

"Their warheads and missile range are growing and in the next war, we will sustain more fire. We have to acknowledge that and prepare for it, mentally too."
Iran limits mobile internet access ahead of expected protests
A wave of internet outages was imposed in Iran Wednesday, ILNA news agency reported, a day before commemorations were to begin for those killed in unrest last month.

The cut came on the orders of security bodies, the news agency said, citing what it called an informed source at Iran’s information and communications technology ministry.

“This restriction on internet access solely includes international traffic of mobile phone lines,” the source was quoted as saying.

It also excluded what the source called “internal traffic,” indicating only domestic websites would be accessible.
A bike-delivery food messenger stands next to another man as they both use smartphones along the side of a street in the Iranian capital Tehran on November 23, 2019. (Atta Kenare/AFP)

ILNA said international connections would be limited in the provinces of Alborz, Fars, Kurdistan and Zanjan, and that this was likely to be expanded to include others.

A later update by the labor-focused news agency excluded information from its original report, including that the outage had been ordered by security bodies and the province names.

AFP correspondents in Tehran reported disruptions on Wednesday to internet connections and other related services.



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