Monday, December 30, 2019

From Ian:

Josh Hammer: The ICC has some nerve to target Israel
Bensouda’s prosecution is utterly lawless. As a political matter, the West must push back against this encroachment on the sovereignty of a democratic nation-state.

For starters, the ICC is structurally biased against Israel. As international-law expert Eugene Kontorovich noted when the Palestinian Authority sought formal ICC membership in 2015, the Rome Statute, which created the ICC, included language at the behest of the Arab states specifically designed to ­demonize Israeli “settlement” activity in the West Bank.

That should have given away the ICC game. But even under the ICC’s own terms, Bensouda’s attempted prosecution doesn’t pass muster. It lacks jurisdiction.

Under the Rome Statute, the ICC can go ahead with a prosecution in a country only if the state has delegated jurisdiction to the ­international court. But which state could delegate jurisdiction to the ICC in the case of the Palestinian territories? Certainly not the fictional “State of Palestine,” which even the United Nations doesn’t formally recognize as a state.

Plus, if Israel is a nefarious “occupier” of Palestine, as Palestinian propaganda constantly claims, then it means that the “State of Palestine” isn’t sovereign over its own claimed territory and therefore can’t delegate jurisdiction to the ICC.

An ICC prosecution, moreover, would flout the Oslo Accords, which call for direct negotiations between the parties to reach a final political settlement and under which Israel ­retains full civil and military control over the majority of the West Bank territory.

A still more glaring problem: Israel is a democratic state with civilian control of the military and an independent, rigorous judiciary that can adjudicate war-crimes allegations. This isn’t some war-torn, broken state or one transitioning out of recent dictatorship — like, er, Gambia. Israel doesn’t need ICC supervision to prosecute war crimes by its own soldiers.

But Bensouda cares not for legal niceties. She has previously opined that Gaza, from which Israel unilaterally withdrew in 2005, remains occupied, because the “international community” says so. The fact that she has gone ahead with this prosecution means she already buys the anti-Israel narrative wholesale: that “Palestine” is a sovereign state; that all of the West Bank belongs to that Palestinian state; and that Jews living in their biblical heartland are war criminals.
Did ICC prosecutors engage with Hamas when drafting case against Israel?
Prosecutors from the International Criminal Court did not deny that they engaged with representatives of the terrorist groups Hamas and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) when preparing their case to investigate Israel for alleged war crimes.

When asked whether it heard arguments from Hamas, the ICC told The Jerusalem Post it engages with all kinds of groups within Israeli and Palestinian society. However, it added, its official focal point is with the Palestinian Authority, not Hamas.

Still, the PA’s official committee, appointed by President Mahmoud Abbas to handle matters related to the ICC, which definitely engaged with the court, includes representatives of Hamas and PFLP, among them individuals with known ties to terrorism.

PLO Secretary-General Saeb Erekat, head of the ICC committee, said on official Palestinian TV earlier this month – the day after the probe of Israel and the Palestinians was announced – that Hamas had been involved.

“This committee includes all the bodies of the Palestinian political spectrum without exception… We worked together as a team,” he stated in a video translated by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI). “Dr. Ghazi Hammad, for example, was elected as the committee’s spokesman… He is one of Hamas’s leaders. There were six Hamas members in the committee. Khalida Jarrar – may she be released [from prison] soon – represented the PFLP. I don’t want to go into the names, but I will just say that no [faction] was left out.”



Jonathan Tobin: Reform’s Embrace of Reparations Won’t Advance Justice
At the Reform Biennial conference held earlier this month, the movement to grant reparations to African-Americans scored a signal victory when the largest Jewish denomination endorsed the idea. Rabbi Jonah Pesner, the director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, set the tone for the effort with a Chicago Tribune op-ed that didn’t merely embrace this cause as a matter of historic justice. He also declared that it was time for Jews to “reckon with our nation’s bigoted history,” as well as to confront “racism in our country, our synagogues and our hearts.”

In doing so, he didn’t merely implicate American Jewry — the vast majority of whom are descendants of immigrants who arrived long after slavery ended, and who suffered discrimination as Jews and economic hardship as new immigrants — as having benefited from “white privilege,” and therefore also responsible for the legacy of slavery and Jim Crow racism. He also put forward the notion that compensation for slavery was comparable for the reparations both individual Jews and the State of Israel received from Germany as part of that nation’s effort to atone for the crimes committed by the Nazis.

Pesner is right to consider slavery and racism as the original sins of American history. But he is wrong about both the justification for and the utility of reparations in this context. He’s even more wrong to attempt to shame Jews to support such a scheme not least because the enactment of such a law — and the creation of a new federal bureaucracy that would cause American society to become even more race-conscious than before — would not undo past wrongs, while likely making the country a more dangerous place for all minorities.

When last seen opining on the national stage about relations between African-Americans and Jews, Pesner and the RAC was granting absolution to veteran race-baiter Al Sharpton for his history of antisemitism and incitement against Jews. This came at a time of an upsurge of violence directed at Hasidic Jews from a minority of the African-American community about which Sharpton has been far from vocal. The Reform leader was clearly more interested in prioritizing alliances aimed at bolstering the “resistance” to President Donald Trump than in addressing antisemitism that emanates from groups that could not be credibly tied to political opponents.
Anti-Semitism: Once Upon a Time(s)
There has been a noted reluctance of the media, not to mention the cowardly political class in New York, to note the racial angle of the wave of anti-Semitic violence erupting recently in New York. Mayor Warren Wilhelm (“that’s de Blasio to you buster!”) naturally blames it on Trump.

That’s one reason to take in the perspective of Henry Louis Gates, a certified Harvard liberal and old friend of President Obama (remember the famous “beer summit” at the White House?), who wrote the following about the roots of contemporary anti-Semitism in the New York Times:
While anti-Semitism is generally on the wane in this country, it has been on the rise among black Americans. A recent survey finds not only that blacks are twice as likely as whites to hold anti-Semitic views but — significantly — that it is among the younger and more educated blacks that anti-Semitism is most pronounced.

The trend has been deeply disquieting for many black intellectuals. But it is something most of us, as if by unstated agreement, simply choose not to talk about. At a time when black America is beleaguered on all sides, there is a strong temptation simply to ignore the phenomenon or treat it as something strictly marginal. And yet to do so would be a serious mistake. As the African-American philosopher Cornel West has insisted, attention to black anti-Semitism is crucial, however discomfiting, in no small part because the moral credibility of our struggle against racism hangs in the balance. . .

We must begin by recognizing what is new about the new anti-Semitism. Make no mistake: this is anti-Semitism from the top down, engineered and promoted by leaders who affect to be speaking for a larger resentment. . .

The strategy of these apostles of [anti-Semitic] hate, I believe, is best understood as ethnic isolationism — they know that the more isolated black America becomes, the greater their power. And what’s the most efficient way to begin to sever black America from its allies? Bash the Jews, these demagogues apparently calculate, and you’re halfway there. . .


What Gates singled out for censure almost 30 years ago now is still going today. Here’s a sample from Nation of Islam spokesperson Ava Muhammed, who appeared recently at Cal State Long Beach, on how Jews exploit blacks: (h/t jzaik)


Prosecutors find anti-Semitic materials on Monsey suspect’s phone, journals
A handwritten journal containing references to Jews and anti-Semitism was found in the home of a man charged with federal hate crimes Monday, in the stabbing of five people celebrating Hanukkah in a rabbi’s house north of New York City, authorities said.

Grafton E. Thomas, 37, was expected to appear in federal court in White Plains to face five counts of obstructing the free exercise of religious beliefs by attempting to kill with a dangerous weapon and causing injuries.

The attack on the seventh night of Hanukkah occurred amid a series of violent attacks targeting Jews in the region that have led to increased security, particularly around religious gatherings.

A criminal complaint said law enforcement agents recovered journals from Thomas’s Greenwood Lake, New York, residence that included comments such as questioning “why ppl mourned for anti-Semitism when there is Semitic genocide” and a page with drawings of a Star of David and a swastika.

Internet searches on a phone recovered from his car included repeated searches for “Why did Hitler hate the Jews” as well as “German Jewish Temples near me” and “Prominent companies founded by Jews in America,” the complaint said.

On December 28, the phone’s internet browser was used to access an article titled: “New York City Increases Police Presence in Jewish Neighborhoods After Possible Anti-Semitic Attacks. Here’s What To Know,” the complaint said.

Thomas’ family said he was raised to embrace tolerance, but has a history of mental illness.




After US attacks Iranian-backed militias, is America back in the game?
Just days after IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi lamented that Israel was going up against Iran alone, airstrikes rocked several locations belonging to Iranian-backed Kata’ib Hezbollah in Iraq and Syria, killing dozens.

The airstrikes, which came two days after a barrage of over 30 rockets were fired towards the K1 Iraqi military base in Kirkuk which killed a US civilian contractor and wounding dozens of Iraqi and American troops, were described by the Pentagon as “precision defensive strikes” against the group that "will degrade" the group's ability to carry out future attacks against coalition forces.

The rocket barrage and the subsequent retaliatory strikes in the area of Al-Qaim are the latest peak in tensions between Washington and Tehran. And might have negative effects on Israel, which has been carrying out a war-between-the wars campaign against Iranian entrenchment since 2013.

Situated in Iraq’s restive Anbar province on one side and Syria’ Deir Ezzor province, al-Qaim is an area which is under the control of pro-Iranian Shiite militias who are handled by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps Quds force.

Only last week Israel’s top military chief publicly admitted to Israeli airstrikes in Iraq, stating that Iran’s Quds force is smuggling advanced weapons in the country on a monthly basis “and we can’t allow that.”

The first strike close to Iraq attributed to Israel was in June of last year near the town of Al-Bukamal, killing 22 members of a Shiite militia. The next month several other blasts rocked Shiite militia warehouses and bases across the country.
Who is Kataib Hezbollah, the group the US attacked in Iraq and Syria?
On December 29, the US carried out five airstrikes against Kataib Hezbollah, an Iraqi-based Shi'ite militia that is linked to Iran and is accused of rocket attacks that killed a US contractor and wounded US soliders. Kataib Hezbollah is one of the most important of the pro-Iranian militias in Iraq and a group with an extensive role in the Middle East, linking it to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and operations in Syria. Formed between 2003 and 2007 by Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis it is a creature of Iran’s IRGC. Muhandis has threatened Israel in the past and is closely linked to both the IRGC Quds Force commander Qasem Soleimani and Lebanese Hezbollah's Hassan Nasrallah.

Abu Mahdi Al-Muhandis is the leader of Kataib Hezbollah. An Iraqi, he was born in Basra and fled to Iran in the 1980s during Saddam Hussein’s crackdown on Shi’ites. He signed on to fight with Iran’s IRGC and became a close colleague of Qasem Soleimani, the head of the IRGC’s Quds Force. He was linked to the military wing of Iraq’s Dawa party at at the same time, illustrating his influence among Iraqi Shi’ites in Iran.

Michael Knight, an expert on Iraq, wrote in 2010 that Muhandis’ life “describes the arc of Iranian support for Iraqi Shi’ite proxies.” He returned to Iraq after the fall of Saddam and became a member of parliament, blending his militia activities with politics. Kataib Hezbollah was described in 2010 as a compact movement of only 400 personnel under the command of the Quds Force. Muhandis was wanted for terrorism in Kuwait and also was sanctioned by the US in 2009.

The US Treasury found that Muhandis and his group threatened the peace and stability of Iraq. He had committed acts of violence. It said he was an advisor to Soleimani and the Quds Force. As such Kataib Hezbollah was designated as a foreign terrorist organization. Kataib was accused of receiving money from Iran through various European banks and using the money to finance attacks on Americans in the years before the US withdrawal from Iraq in 2011.
Seth Frantzman: Fallout from US strikes against Iranian-backed militias
Unsurprisingly, a chorus of voices linked to the Popular Mobilization Units, a group of mostly Shi’ite militias that include the one bombed by the US, were nonplussed. Kataib Hezbollah, which saw its members killed in the US air strikes, said the attacks disregard the sovereignty and honor of Iraq.

But it is Kataib Hezbollah – the Hezbollah Brigades – that has been firing rockets at US bases in Iraq for six months, killing an American contractor on December 27. Asaib Ahl al-Haq, whose leaders Washington sanctioned on December 6, also condemned the “cowardly attack.” The group has called for the US to leave Iraq before; its leader, Qais Khazali, was detained by the US in 2007 after attacks on Americans. Kataib Hezbollah leader Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, who was sanctioned by the US in 2009 and is a wanted terrorist in Kuwait, also condemned the attack on his bases.

Falih Khazali, a member of the Fatah Party in parliament and leader of Kataib Sayyid al-Shuhada, also condemned the US; he condemned President Donald Trump in December 2018 as well. The group controls the 14th Brigade of the PMU, and like Kataib Hezbollah, is linked closely to Iran.
Iran’s goal now is to leverage the US attacks to its benefit and portray America as a foreign force invading Iraq and killing Iraqis. It will argue that the members of the Hezbollah Brigades, who were members of the 45 and 46 Brigades of the PMU, were Iraqi security forces who were helping fight ISIS. For years, pro-Iranian voices have spread conspiracies arguing that the US is helping ISIS.

Many of the pro-Iranian militias in Iraq earned their spurs fighting the Americans in 2006-2009. They used to fire rockets frequently at the US. They stopped during the ISIS war when a fatwa by Iraqi Shi’ite leader Ali al-Sistani called up men to join the PMU. But these pro-Iranian groups have a large lobby in parliament and have influence over the Interior Ministry. They want the PMU to become Iraq’s version of the IRGC, which is also Iran’s long-term goal. The protesters in Iraq oppose Iran’s role and have attacked militia buildings. But the air strikes now complicate matters. Iran may tread carefully, trying to use the airstrikes to eject the US from Iraq.

US forces are seen as an important balance to Iran’s ambitions. IRGC Quds Force commander Qasem Soleimani said in a recent interview that in 2006, US forces helped block his desire to aid Hezbollah. Iraqi-based militias like AAH openly oppose Israel, and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis frequently condemns the Jewish state. In the Kurdistan region, there is also concern that a departure of US forces would hand Iraq completely over to Iran. The Kurdistan region was working with Prime Minister Mahdi on budget deals – and now the Kurdish region is concerned, too.
Netanyahu: Israel to have normal ties and peace deals with Arab countries
Israel will soon have normal ties and formal peace deals with a number of Arab countries, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promised when he spoke at a Likud event in Tel Aviv Sunday night.

He touted his past diplomatic achievements and promised even more successes.

“I intend in the coming years to conclude normalization and peace agreements with a number of Arab countries,” Netanyahu said. He specifically recalled his 2018 trip to Oman, a country with which Israel has no formal diplomatic relations.

Israel’s informal ties with a number of moderate Arab states have warmed since US President Donald Trump came into office in January 2017, as the US has pushed for normalized relations between Israel and the Arab world. To date, Israel has formal peace treaties only with Egypt and Jordan.

Moderate Arab states have publicly insisted they will only make peace with Israel once a deal has been reached. But a number of them have allowed ties with Israel to improve, with Foreign Minister Israel Katz and Sports and Culture Minister Miri Regev visiting Dubai in the United Arab Emirates.

In 2020, Israel will have a pavilion at the World Fair in Dubai for six months. An Israeli governmental delegation will be in Dubai for those six months, effectively giving the country de facto representation in the UAE.
StandWithUs Cautiously Welcomes Qatar Comments on Welcoming Israelis to the 2022 Soccer World Cup
StandWithUs, the international Israel educational organization, cautiously welcomes comments by Hassan al Thawadi, the secretary general of the Supreme Committee for the Qatar 2022 Soccer World Cup. Sports network ESPN conducted an interview with al Thawadi, and in response to being questioned about Israelis being able to attend the World Cup, he insisted that they would.

StandWithUs has repeatedly called upon FIFA, the international football/soccer association, to ensure that the Qatari government will issue entry visas to Israeli fans wishing to attend the FIFA World Cup to be held in Qatar in 2022. To date, Israel is not included in Qatar’s online list of nearly 250 nationalities and territories eligible for an entry visa. Like most Arab states (with the exceptions of Egypt and Jordan that have peace treaties with Israel) Qatar does not recognize Israel and bans Israelis from entering.

FIFA’s Code of Ethics unambiguously forbid the banning of people based on their country of origin. Article 22 proscribes “offend[ing] the dignity or integrity of a country, private person or group of people through contemptuous, discriminatory or denigratory words or actions on account of race, skin colour, ethnicity, nationality, social origin, gender, disability, language, religion, political opinion or any other opinion, wealth, birth or any other status, sexual orientation or any other reason.”

“We call upon FIFA to uphold their Code of Ethics, which is premised on protecting international football from ‘illegal, immoral or unethical’ practices. If Qatar is allowed to ban fans on the basis of national origin, this would be a clear violation of FIFA’s guidelines,” said Roz Rothstein CEO and Co-Founder of StandWithUs.

StandWithUs-Israel Executive Director, Michael Dickson responded, “While we welcome Hassan al Thawadi’s comments, we will be watching this issue closely. There have been major issues raised regarding Qatar hosting World Cup 2022 in light of their support for terror organizations including Hamas, their use of slave labor and their attitude towards the LGBTQ community. These are all legitimate concerns, as is the issue of fans from the world’s only Jewish country being banned from attending the tournament. Many World Cup sponsors will be watching carefully to see that Qatar complies with the values that FIFA purport the championship to stand for. We expect Israeli fans – together with all others – to be able to attend and enjoy the World Cup in safety.”
Watch: Netanyahu Posts Mark Levin Show Alleging PM Victim of Coup
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Saturday posted a video with Hebrew subtitles on his social media accounts entitled “The Coup Against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu,” in which a former U.S. federal prosecutor tells Mark Levin that the Israeli premier is facing bogus charges orchestrated by an “unethical” and “feckless” attorney general.

The BlazeTV interview was hosted by Levin, a star radio host, lawyer, author and also the host of a popular weekend show on Fox News. The interview first aired on December 11.

“I do not believe that — in my view — the greatest prime minister in the history of Israel has had a fair shake with the Israeli media and most of the American media,” Levin said.

“And so using our new technologies, using the platform we have here, I intend to do my very best to explain these allegations against the prime minister of Israel and to explain why they are so untoward.”

Soon after Levin’s program was broadcast, Netanyahu tweeted a Breitbart Jerusalem article on the interview.


Cyprus court rules UK woman lied when claiming Israelis raped her
A 19-year-old British woman who claimed that 12 Israelis raped her in a hotel in the Cypriot resort town of Aiya Napa in July was found guilty on Monday of committing public mischief and lying about being raped, Judge Michalis Papathanasiou ruled.

The court said the woman was an “unreliable witness” and ruled that she lied about being raped, doing so in revenge for being filmed by the Israeli youths during a sexual act.

“My conclusion is that the guilt of the accused has been proven beyond reasonable doubt,” the presiding judge said in his verdict. He said her claims were inconsistent, adding that she had attempted to mislead the court.

Her sentence for being found guilty of fraud and filing a false complaint could be up to a year in prison and a €1,000 fine.
Judge Papathanasiou adjourned sentencing until January 7.


Dexter Van Zile: Hamas Has Lost Its Mojo in Gaza
The upshot is that Hamas has nothing to show for itself after more than 300 Palestinian rioters who put themselves in harm’s way were killed in confrontations with Israel. Some folks apparently want more violence, but a larger number of inhabitants living in Gaza want their leaders to start building their society so they can get on with their lives, work for a living, and provide for their families.

For all of its talk about being committed to “democracy” and “free elections,” Hamas is, in practice, a collection of top-down gangsters who impose their will on the people they have promised to liberate.

Hamas is so committed to liberation and “coexistence of people with dissenting views” that its leaders can’t even allow people the freedom to gather in the streets to protest its policies. Spontaneous bottom-up protests are a lethal threat to Hamas, just as they are to the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank and the mullahs in Iran.

Maybe, just maybe, young people in Gaza are starting to come to grips with the central facts of Palestinian national life — that Israel isn’t going away and that in their refusal to accept this reality, Palestinian elites are consigning yet another generation of young people to pointless death and suffering.

With the collapse of the March of Return movement, Hamas is learning that anti-Israel propaganda will only get you so far in the face of facts such as this. In the long run, mass ideologies only work when they explain the facts, not when they demand that people deny or ignore reality.

Hamas and the Palestinian Authority are revealing themselves as fundamentally indifferent to the welfare of the people whose destinies they currently control. As a result, the wheels are starting to come off the bus of their anti-Israel jihad, which is ultimately nothing more than a cover and a distraction for the corrupt habits and agenda of Palestinian elites.

Good luck finding coverage of that reality in The Palestine Chronicle.
PA claims Israel-Hamas ceasefire would further divide Gaza from West Bank
The Palestinian Authority said Monday that a possible Israel-Hamas ceasefire in Gaza would deepen the rift between the Hamas-ruled coastal enclave and the Fatah-dominated PA in the West Bank.

Citing reported Israeli “promises of easing [blockade] measures for Gaza including the delivery of funds, a seaport, an airport, a hospital and an industrial zone,” PA Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh told the weekly cabinet meeting in Ramallah that the emerging ceasefire plan “is another piece of evidence of the efforts aimed at strengthening the division.”

Hamas denied reports earlier Monday that it was in contact with Israel and was seeking a long-term ceasefire. The PA and Hamas have been at loggerheads since the 2007 ouster of the Mahmoud Abbas-led PA from Gaza in a bloody coup. Repeated attempts by the warring Palestinian factions to reconcile have failed to stick.

“There are no ceasefire talks with the Zionist enemy,” the terror group insisted in a statement. “The occupation has not carried out the understandings reached in the past with the Egyptian mediators.”

The statement came after Israel’s security cabinet met Sunday for several hours to address the ceasefire talks. The meeting ended without any statement as to the status of the negotiations.

The latest round of ceasefire talks, first reported by Channel 12 over the weekend, were said to involve Israel easing its blockade to allow expanded overland trade between Gaza and Israel, expanding Gaza’s fishing zone, and speeding up the laying of a gas pipeline to help resolve chronic energy shortages in the Strip.
Amid talk of truce, Israel said to allow tires into Gaza in first since 2018
Israel has agreed to allow tires into the Gaza Strip starting on Monday, according to Sawa, a news site based in the coastal enclave, citing “well-placed sources.”

The report comes amid persistent talk of a truce deal shaping up between Israel and the Hamas terror group.

It also comes after the Palestinian committee responsible for organizing protests in the border region between Israel and the Gaza Strip announced last Thursday that demonstrations would take place less frequently in 2020.

Israel banned tires from going into Gaza shortly after the protests in the border region began on March 30, 2018, saying the embargo was in response to Palestinians setting them on fire at the protests to impair the vision of Israeli soldiers and other security personnel.

The shortage, however, has reportedly been felt more among motorists than among the protesters. After Israel instituted the ban, some shipments of tires entered Gaza through Egypt’s border with the territory.

The Al-Quds daily also reported that Israel would allow tires to be imported into Gaza, citing “informed Palestinian sources.”
Hamas: PA security officers helped Israel kill Islamic Jihad commander
The Hamas-controlled Interior Ministry said the cell members collected information about al-Ata, including monitoring his movements.

“They followed him for several months until the last hour before the [Israeli] occupation assassinated him,” a statement said.

According to the ministry, the cell members are officers from the PA’s General Intelligence Service in the West Bank, who were assigned the task of monitoring and following the movements of al-Ata.

The statement named General Intelligence Service commander Sha’ban Abdullah al-Ghrabawi of ordering the cell members to collect the information about the slain PIJ commander. It claimed that Ghrabawi, for his part, transferred the information “directly to the Israeli occupation intelligence services.”

The Hamas security forces also seized “technical materials” confirming that Ghrabawi had communicated with Israeli intelligence officers, the statement added.
Sec.-Gen. Of Jordan's Royal Committee For Jerusalem Affairs: Hanukkah Rituals Are A Direct Threat To Al-Aqsa
In a December 28, 2019 article in the Jordanian daily Al-Ghad, 'Abdallah Kan'an, secretary-general of Jordan's Royal Committee for Jerusalem Affairs, [1] wrote that the festival of Hanukkah is based on traditions relating to the "false" Jewish Temple, and therefore constitutes a direct threat to the Muslim and Christian holy places in Jerusalem. Titled "The Festival of Lights – A Zionist Colonialist Ritual, Not A Jewish Religious Festival," the article claims that Israel and right-wing organizations in it use Hanukkah to further their plans of Judaizing Jerusalem and to carry out mass raids on the Al-Aqsa mosque "in the guise of Talmudic religious rituals."

It should be noted that the article was published amid tension between Israel and Jordan, including over the Jordanian Waqf's management of the Al-Aqsa compound and Jordan's opposition to Jewish worshippers visiting the compound.[2] A month ago, Jordan's king even said that "relations with Israel are at an all-time low."[3]

The following are excerpts from Kan'an's article.[4]
"In realizing its Zionist plans in Palestine and Jerusalem, Israel's colonialist occupation policy relies on phony religious justifications and excuses designed to mislead global opinion and elicit its support. The religious rituals create an atmosphere that allows the Israeli government and the right-wing organizations that support it to carry out their systematic Judaizing programs in Jerusalem that target the entire area of the blessed Al-Aqsa mosque (144 dunams).

"The Jews are currently celebrating the Festival of Lights, or Hannukah..., commemorating the building and dedication of the false Second Temple in Jerusalem in 164 BC. The misleading Jewish tradition claims that some Jews needed olive oil to light the seven-branched candelabra, but they only had enough oil for one day. But by a miracle, they claim, this small amount lasted for the eight days required to produce more oil. The main ritual of this holiday is the lighting of the eight-branched candelabra (called hanukkiah) after sundown. On the first night of the holiday a single candle is lit while chanting certain prayers, and this is repeated each night until the end of the holiday, on which all eight candles are lit. In addition, large electric candelabras are erected in squares and public buildings.
Reflections From A Jew At A Mock-Jewish Restaurant
At the Golden Rose restaurant in Lviv, Ukraine, your non-Jewish host and servers will do their utmost to surround you with purportedly Jewish touches. You'll be greeted with a wan "Shalom" as you enter, a waiter will sometimes appear in peyot (Jewish sidelocks) and kippah (head covering), and you'll be invited to haggle over your check.

It may seem odd that I decided to visit this restaurant on a recent trip to explore some of my family's roots. I expected to feel offended by its caricatures of Jews, and, by extension, myself. But the Golden Rose turned out to be more complex than it first appeared. In fact, this whole trip was a complex undertaking.

According to my family's Ukrainian guide, Alex Dunai, the two main reasons people give for visiting the decimated Jewish towns of their ancestors in Eastern Europe are curiosity and a desire to pay respects. I'm not sure I was clear on my motivations when I got the idea for the trip a year ago. There was curiosity, for sure, to see whether I would feel a bond with my place of ancestry. But it seems now that the stop at the Golden Rose was also an urge — however naive, privileged and ultimately impossible — to see whether I could feel what it is to experience racism or discrimination in a country with a history of animus against people like me. Perhaps, I thought, I might be able to empathize more deeply with those currently experiencing it. (h/t Zvi)


BBC WS radio misrepresents the IHRA definition of antisemitism
To sum up, BBC audiences heard three voices opposing the US president’s executive order and just one in favour. In breach of BBC editorial guidelines they were not informed of the agendas of the organisations with which two of those voices are associated and neither were they given any relevant background information concerning the BDS campaign which they support.

Most egregiously, listeners were told that the IHRA working definition of antisemitism is “controversial” and that its adoption means that people who “talk about Israel” and criticise Israel “are by definition antisemitic”. That of course is completely false. As Dave Rich of the CST has pointed out, the IHRA definition does not “repress” freedom of speech at all.

“The IHRA definition does no such thing, stating plainly that ‘criticism of Israel similar to that levelled against any other country cannot be regarded as anti-Semitic.’ This leaves room for the full range of rational, evidence-based opposition to Israeli laws, policies and actions. It doesn’t allow for the kind of obsessive, irrational hatred that depicts Israel as a Nazi state of unparalleled cruelty that needs to be wiped off the map, or that sees “Zionist” conspiracies behind everything from 9/11 to the poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal, and for good reason: because, as the IHRA definition recognises, antisemitism sometimes includes ‘the targeting of the State of Israel, conceived as a Jewish collectivity.’”

If the BBC’s partners at PRI are not capable of portraying the IHRA working definition of antisemitism in a manner that meets BBC editorial guidelines on accuracy and impartiality, that content should obviously not be rebroadcast on ‘Boston Calling’.


Cuban boy banned from wearing kippah in school following violent bullying
A twelve-year-old boy and his brother are currently being prohibited by Cuban educational authorities from entering their school while wearing their kippot following the onslaught of continuous beatings from fellow schoolmates.

The boy, Liusdan Martínez Lescaille, received the notice that he was forbidden to wear his kippah in school by Nuevitas Municipal Director of Education Osdeini Hernández Navarro on December 11 - reportedly due to inaction by the school's security personnel to prevent the boy from repeatedly being attacked - claiming that the school and the educational authorities do not have the means to protect the boy, according to Christian Solidarity Worldwide.

Lescaille's parents, Olainis Tejada Beltrán and Yeliney Lescaille Prebal, members of the Sephardic Bnei Anusim community in Cuba, claim that the ridicule began in September of 2019 after their son started school at the Latin America Urban Basic Secondary School in Nuevitas and since then the boy has been "subjected to four severe beatings" from conflicts brought upon by classmates.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo added Cuba to the State Department's Special Watch List on December 20, which monitors governments that have "engaged in or tolerated severe violations of religious freedom" in the past. Bullying at school, stemming from personal religious practices, is highly prevalent and relatively common in Cuba.
Netherlands synagogue invitation-only due to antisemitism fears
A synagogue in the Netherlands that once counted over 1000 members among its congregation on high holidays now operates on an invitation-only basis due to growing antisemitism in Europe.

Before the Nazi invasion of the Netherlands in 1940, Grongingen was home to a thriving Jewish community of over 2,800 Jews. The Jewish quarter featured kosher butchers, bakers famous for their challah, and Groningen's domed synagogue, large enough to hold a congregation numbering 1,000 worshipers on High Holy Days, Politico reported.

But by the end of the war almost the entire population had been wiped out, with some Jewish Groningers losing over 100 family members each. Some survived the camps, others were able to hide or escape deportation, but many drifted away from a city filled with painful memories.

Unable to sustain a congregation, the synagogue was sold off and first turned into a laundromat, its stained-glass windows smashed out to make way for steam pipes, as explained by Politico. By the 1970s it had fallen into disrepair, saved from demolition by only one vote in the municipal council.


Tesla to launch Israeli operations in January
Electric and autonomous car company Tesla Inc. is planning to launch its Israeli operations in January, according to several people familiar with the matter who spoke to Calcalist on condition of anonymity. A company team already operating locally has decided to flout convention and set up a pop-up shop in Tel Aviv’s Ramat Aviv Mall instead of waiting for an official company showroom, the people said.

The pop-up shop will enable potential customers to examine some of Tesla’s cars, especially its popular Model 3, and place advance orders for cars for a fee. When Tesla launched its Model 3 in the U.S. in 2016, it charged interested parties $1,000 for the option of being some of the first customers to receive it, and collected 253,000 orders within 36 hours. When it launched its first pickup truck, the Cybertruck, in November, the company only charged $100, receiving 146,000 orders within three days.

Ramat Aviv Mall caters to the upper socioeconomic class of north Tel Aviv and neighboring towns, making it especially suited for the launch of a new car brand that will be classified in Israel as a luxury car due to its starting price of NIS 250,000 (approximately $72,300). Israel’s decision to cut tax benefits for electric cars as of January 1, 2020 means that Tesla models are expected to be relatively expensive in the country. Luxury brands like BMW’s Mini and DS Automobiles held similar events in the mall at the past, as did brands like Mazda Motor Corporation and Peugeot.
How to prevent juice jacking at the airport and other vital cyber hacks
The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office issued an alert in November warning travelers to avoid using USB charging stations in hotels, airports and train stations “because they may contain dangerous malware.”

Hackers tamper with charging cables and attach them to public USB outlets. When travelers plug their phones or laptops into these hacked cables, cyber-criminals can access the traveler’s device, steal credit card data and passwords or even demand ransomware.

“Attackers are always innovative. They’re one step ahead of everyone,” says Iftah Bratspiess, CEO of Israeli startup Sepio Systems, “rogue devices” including manipulated cables.
A hacked computer mouse, with rogue components circled in red. Photo courtesy of Sepio Systems

Bratspiess tells ISRAEL21c that hackers know people don’t willingly plug an unfamiliar storage device into their machine, but they think of charging cables and power banks as batteries, not IT devices. “They see an open USB port in a conference room or a café and will use it without thinking twice.”

A doctored cable can easily be implanted with a Bluetooth or Wi-Fi remote control. Once it’s connected to your phone or laptop (or worse, an entire network server), software hidden in the cable “impersonates” a mouse or a keyboard, and thus capture keystrokes, mouse moves and data.
Israel’s M&A deals surge to 166, clocking value of $20.4 billion in 2019
Merger and acquisition activity in Israel surged 34% to 166 deals in 2019, compared to 124 deals in 2018, and reached a deal value of $20.4 billion, according to a new report by PwC Israel.

The deal value this year is, however, lower than the deal value of 2018, which came in at $21.6 billion, PwC’s M&A report for 2019 shows.

The report analyzes the merger and acquisitions of Israeli companies, and is not limited to the tech industry alone. Such deals as the sale of Mellanox Technologies Ltd. to Nvidia, valued at $6.9 billion; Habana Labs to Intel, valued at $2 billion; and Lumenis to funds of Baring Private Equity Asia (BEPA), valued at $1.2 billion, which were announced this year but not completed, are not included in the PwC numbers.

According to the data, the number of deals in the range of $400 million to $1 billion more than doubled, to nine, accounting for as much as 42% of all activity, up from four deals and 38% in 2018. On the other hand, deals worth over $1 billion declined to four, from five in 2018.

The tech sector led the way in deal-making, marking $9.1 billion in deal value, followed by the production industry with $4 billion, the data showed. The pharma sector continued to weaken in the wake of low activity levels by the troubled Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd., which used to be a key player in that segment and in the M&A market at large, the report said.

The Orbotech acquisition by KLA-Tencor for $3.4 billion and Delek Group’s buy of Chevron North Sea for $2 billion were among the prominent deals this year.

The value of deals by US entities was $11.5 billion in 2019. This figure was lower than the $12.9 billion in 2018, but the 2019 figure is still “strong,” especially in light of a US tax reform that made offshore investments less attractive. “Taking that into account, this is a strong show of faith by US investors in Israeli companies,” PwC said in a statement.
Israeli Exports Soared 68% over Past Decade
Israel’s exports of services and goods are forecast to break another annual record in 2019 as full-year revenues climb toward $114 billion, the Foreign Trade Administration said on Monday.

The predicted export value represents a 4.5% increase compared to 2018, and some 68% higher than 2009, when exports totaled approximately $67.7b. Over the past decade, exports have increased by an annual average of 5.3%.

The hefty increase during the past 10 years has been fueled by soaring exports of services, notably hi-tech exports. Service exports have soared by a staggering 160%, from $21.5b. in 2009 to almost $56b. in 2019. This year alone, service exports have increased by approximately 11.7%. Service exports represented approximately 49% of all exports in 2019, versus only 32% a decade ago.

“The export data for the past decade is proof of the good health of the Israeli economy,” said Economy Minister Eli Cohen. “Israeli exports are of great importance to the Israeli economy. It is the driver of economic growth and a central source of stable employment, and economic and social prosperity.”

Recent years have seen significant changes in the destination of exports. Total exports (excluding diamonds) to Asian countries grew from 18% in 2009 to 22% in 2019, driven by a huge 402% leap in exports to China over the past decade. Exports to Japan and Taiwan also increased by 73% and 38% respectively.


Hannukah Surprise from IDF soldiers on a train in Jerusalem.






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

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