Tuesday, March 10, 2020

From Ian:

Israel Imposes Unprecedented Mandatory 14-Day Coronavirus Quarantine on All Arrivals
Israel will require anyone arriving from overseas to self-quarantine for 14 days as a precaution against the spread of coronavirus, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Monday.

With 42 confirmed cases of the virus, Israel has already taken some tough counter-measures, forcing visitors from many countries in Asia and Europe into home isolation. The virus has hit travel and trade, with tourism in particular expected to suffer.

“Anyone who arrives in Israel from abroad will enter a 14-day isolation,” Netanyahu said in a video statement. He said the new measures would be in effect for two weeks initially.

“This is a difficult decision. But it is essential for safeguarding public health, and public health comes first.”


Government officials said the order would come into force immediately for Israelis returning to the country. From Thursday, any non-Israelis seeking to enter the country will have to prove they have the means to self-quarantine, the officials said.

Israeli media said the latest measure would mean quarantine for some 300,000 citizens in a country of around 9 million.

Palestinians in the West Bank have also been hit by the virus, reporting 25 confirmed cases. The Palestinian Authority (PA) has turned foreigners away at checkpoints and ordered schools and national parks closed.


JPost Editorial: The coronavirus is apolitical – editorial
The decision to quarantine all arrivals is one that shouldn’t be taken lightly or have a hint of political considerations. Reports that the prime minister was holding back from enforcing the ban on US travelers in order to not damage ties with President Donald Trump were vigorously denied Sunday. Siman Tov told Channel 12 News that “no political element was part of our decision-making process… all the decisions go to the National Security Council and the prime minister in the end. It’s a professional discussion on protecting the public. No foreign interests are involved in the decision.”

Although it’s difficult, in this acrimonious post-election period, to remove politics from any issue on the domestic agenda, there’s an imperative that the government’s handling of the coronavirus crisis should rise above partisan considerations. Netanyahu seems to be meeting that criteria – so far.

Unlike in the US, where the handling of the virus has turned into a political football pitting the “downplaying” Republicans against the “take it seriously” Democrats, Israelis seem to be reacting to the crisis with one voice.

Netanyahu has, of course, made every effort to appear “presidential” and in charge of the situation. He spoke with US Vice President Mike Pence and on Sunday and then with European leaders on Monday about setting up airports to enable goods to be transported between countries so vital supplies don’t run out.

And whether that’s his intention or not, these moves could help Netanyahu as he fights for his political life.

As Jeremy Sharon wrote, “the more he looks like he’s taking care of business, the more urgent the problem, the more acute and dangerous it is, the more we won’t want to change the leadership and instead keep the status quo.”

Gone... viralHebrew ‘My Corona’ spoof of The Knacks classic proves catching
What song leads the coronavirus quarantine playlist?

“My Sharona,” obviously, the 1979 hit by The Knacks, which is so easily replaced with the words “My Corona.”

Two sisters from Hod Hasharon, Inbar and Gilor Levi, who love nothing more than a good spoof, donned nurse and doctor scrubs and a pair of masks for their YouTube spoof of “My Corona.”

In fact, said Inbar Levi, the video has gone, well, viral.

“It just caught on, it was exactly at the right time,” said Levi, who had already published the song before Israel’s March 2 elections, but found that once the elections were over and coronavirus fears took over, the song took off.

The words came to them fairly easily, said Levi, although it took a little longer to get the filming done properly.

“It’s very fast, and there’s a lot of words,” she explained.




A Purim Lesson at the White House
The first venue that comes to mind when Purim celebrations are being organized is not likely to be the White House.

But this year, the saga of Queen Esther, her faithful cousin Mordechai and the villainous Haman, first reached my ears at a White House briefing on antisemitism. That venerable story was recounted by Elan Carr, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s special envoy for monitoring and combating antisemitism.

It’s well known that at this time of year, Jewish communities around the world – and especially in Israel – celebrate the cherished biblical story, dressing their children in colorful costumes, lifting many joyous toasts to Esther’s selfless courage, and noisily cursing the evil Haman.

Unfortunately, although a considerable amount of time has passed since the noteworthy events of the 5th century BCE in Persia, various efforts to exterminate the Jews continue to reinvent themselves, providing ample proof that such plots were not buried along with Haman. In fact, the chants of “Death to Israel” wafting across the world from today’s Iran confirm that the more things change, the more they remain the same.

That’s why it’s unsurprising to hear reports of rabid antisemitism emanating from Iran’s regime and its proxies. In fact, predictably, a recent news report on Iran’s Press TV website speculated that “it might be possible” that the COVID-19 virus – which is afflicting an inordinately large number of Iranians including regime leaders – was developed as a bio-weapon by Israeli and American scientists. Such ludicrous rumors are standard fare in Iranian media.

Unfortunately, however, Iran and the greater Middle East aren’t the only purveyors of Jew-hatred. European cities increasingly witness vicious attacks on Jews at the hands of both neo-Nazi thugs and Islamist terrorists. In fact, shocking displays of antisemitism recently took place during recent pre-Lenten festivities.

The Federalist reported, “The Belgian city of Aalst celebrated this year’s Carnival with grotesque displays of overt antisemitism. Revelers mocked the Wailing Wall, with some dressed as ants in hassidic hats and others as Nazis. That theme continued in Campo de Criptana, Spain, where Carnival participants dressed up as Nazis and concentration camp prisoners, flanked by chimneys.”
Israel uses anti-terror conference in Morocco to rally world against Iran
Israel used its participation in an international anti-terrorism conference in Morocco last week, which was dedicated mainly to the re-emerging threat from al-Qaeda, to call for stronger action against Iran.

Upon returning to Israel from the two-day conference in Marrakech, Dana Benvenisti-Gabay, the head of the Foreign Ministry’s regional security and counter-terrorism department, said she and some of Arab delegates at the conference used the opportunity to stress the threat emanating from the Islamic Republic and its Shiite proxies.

“The main topic of the conference was al-Qaeda, but I can say that Iran’s malign behavior came up, as well as Hezbollah,” Benvenisti-Gabay told The Times of Israel on Monday, referring to the Tehran-backed, Lebanon-based terrorist organization.

“On this issue, we agreed with the representatives from the Gulf states, which led to a joint effort that, even if it was not coordinated in advance, [saw] the Iranian threat being included in the concluding statement issued by the US State Department.”

At the conclusion of the so-called Warsaw Process Counterterrorism and Illicit Finance working group, which took place Wednesday and Thursday in Marrakesh, the State Department issued a statement that referred to both the Sunni al-Qaeda group as well as Iran, the most powerful Shiite nation in the region.

“Delegations discussed the ever-changing threat posed by al-Qaeda and its affiliates and acknowledged a range of efforts that can be employed to counter this still potent threat, including the promotion of a set of non-binding principles,” the statement read.

“Participants shared their regional perspectives on countering al-Qaeda and discussed threats from other terrorist groups. A number of delegations also noted the destabilizing activities of Iran and its proxies, especially Hezbollah, and the need to collectively confront Iran’s continued support to terrorist groups.”
Israel advances plans for West Bank ‘sovereignty road' to bypass E1 area
The Defense Ministry has green-lighted planning for what it called a “sovereignty road” that would allow Palestinian traffic to bypass Israeli settlements in the E1 area of the West Bank.

“We’re applying sovereignty in deeds, not words,” Defense Minister Naftali Bennett said on Monday, as he made a subtle dig at Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for not having already annexed all of the West Bank settlements, including the area outside of Jerusalem where the road is located.

As part of his re-election campaign, Netanyahu last month agreed to advance plans for 3,500 new homes in an unbuilt area of the Ma’aleh Adumim settlement, known as E1.

To make the project tenable for area Palestinians, roads are needed that would allow them to bypass that area, so that they could have continuous travel between their communities.

The overall transportation project has been called the “fabric of life” road.
In Australia, a New Kid in the Anti-Israel Bloc
Elizabeth (Libby) Coker is the Australian Labor Party (ALP) member for the Victorian seat of Corangamite in the Australian Federal Parliament. An ALP parliamentary hopeful for quite some time, Ms Coker achieved her aim of entering the federal House of Representatives at the 18 May 2019 federal election.

Her maiden speech, delivered on 10 September last year, was notable, inter alia, for its rambling length. During it, she declared that

"One of the key challenges in making a better Australia for all of our children is to address the great contradiction that our success has been achieved in someone else’s land at their expense.... [K]nowing our history cannot be separated from the history of Aboriginal Australia, and that includes understanding what it means for all of us that Aboriginal land was stolen, never ceded...."

On 26 February this year she (below, in white dress) joined federal Greens leader Adam Bandt and hard left federal ALP member for Macquarie Susan Templeman in a public anti-"Apartheid" Israel fest under the auspices of APAN (the Australia Palestine Advocacy Network, whose name she mangles here):
MEMRI: Kuwaiti Islamic Scholar Nazem Al-Misbah: We Should Be the Last Ones to Sign Peace Accord with Israel
Sheikh Nazem Al-Misbah, a Kuwaiti Islamic scholar, said in a March 1, 2020 interview on Diwan Al-Mulla Internet TV (Kuwait) that although Islam commands Muslims to oppose and fight Israel because it is occupying Islamic land, Muslims are only expected to fear Allah as much as they can, and thus there is a limit to what they are expected to do when they do not have the power to fight Israel. He said that it is brave and manly to be vocal against Israel and the Deal of the Century, and he added that Kuwait's leadership has clearly stated that if it is overwhelmed by pressure to sign agreements with Israel, it will at least be the last country to sign the agreements.


Defense Contractor’s Arrest Exposes Another Element in Hezbollah’s US Infrastructure
Hezbollah maintains a global network of operatives and spies working to widen the terrorist group’s presence from Latin America to Western Europe. And as I’ve shown, the United States is no exception.

Last week, a Department of Defense contract linguist, Mariam Taha Thompson, was charged with transferring highly classified intelligence to Hezbollah.

FBI agents arrested Thompson, 61, on February 27 at a military base in Irbil, Iraq. She appeared in Washington’s Federal court last Wednesday to face espionage-related charges. They stem from a December 30 incident. Just one day after the US Air Force struck Iranian Shia militias in Iraq, Justice Department investigators found that Thompson engaged in suspicious activities on the Defense Department’s classified systems.

She is suspected of transferring highly classified information to a Lebanese national with whom she developed a romantic relationship, court documents show. In subsequent questioning, Thompson told the FBI that she didn’t know of the co-conspirator’s affiliation with Hezbollah, saying that in Lebanon, it could either be Hezbollah or another Shia group, the Amal movement.

“I am telling you, he is with Hezbollah or Amal, but, uh, I — no, he never told me. I don’t know,” she said, according to an FBI affidavit submitted with the criminal complaint. She claimed to “hate Hezbollah,” describing it as a terrorist group that is “like the octopus. They can reach anybody. They are the government now” in Lebanon.

State and non-state actors rely on a variety of means to recruit agents, including blackmail, money, and ideological affinity. Espionage activities are sometimes conducted through the use of “honey pots,” a term to describe spies that lure targets by developing romantic or sexual relationships. Spies are often recruited based on several overlapping motivations.
Officers foil attempted stabbing outside Jerusalem Old City – police
Border Police officers arrested a man who attempted to stab them outside Jerusalem’s Old City, the Israel Police said Tuesday.

According to police, the man took out a knife and attempted to attack the officers stationed at a police post near Damascus Gate.

The officers wrestled the man to the floor and arrested him. No injuries were reported.

The suspect, an East Jerusalem Palestinian man, was taken away for questioning.

Video purporting to show the scene in the minutes after the attack was posted to social media.
The Joint Arab List presents: Israel last
The Blue and White list's flirtation with the Joint Arab List is doubtlessly the most dramatic development of this past year's election trilogy. Most attention has been devoted to remarks that Joint Arab List leaders have made about IDF soldiers and the war on terrorism, but the main story has to do with the list's basic positions about Zionism and the character of the nation. Harsh words bandied about in battle are one thing, but a program-based platform, legislation, and diplomatic initiatives are something else entirely.

As one might expect from a ticket comprised of four different parties, the Joint Arab List's platform is effectively a blend of Palestinian nationalism, socialist progressivism, and anti-Zionism that cannot be understated.

For example, the platform opens with a demand to "put an end to the occupation of all the territories that have been occupied since 1967, dismantle all the settlements and the racist security barrier, release all political prisoners, establish an independent Palestinian state whose capital is east Jerusalem," and more. What about what little would be left of Israel after the great retreat? First of all, it would have to give up its nuclear weapons: "The list calls for Israel, which has the largest and most dangerous nuclear arsenal in the region, to disarm."

The list would also see Israel stripped of Zionism: "The list emphasizes that the Palestinians in Israel are the native residents." That has ramifications: "The Joint Arab List demands they be recognized as a national minority with group rights … as they are an inseparable part of the Palestinian people and the Arab nation."

Practically speaking, this means that the list will "fight against the confiscation of land, demolition of homes, and for recognition of all the unrecognized villages, first and foremost the villages in the Negev."

The right of return is also on the agenda: "The Joint Arab List aspires to recognize their right to have their villages and land returned and to return to them."

What's more, the Jewish state is deemed to have no links to any holy sites: "The Joint Arab List will fight to maintain protection of holy sites (the Waqf), for Islamic and Christian holy sites, and stresses that they belong to their owners, the native residents of Israel."
David Horovitz: Avigdor Liberman, torturer of the Israeli electorate, owes us an explanation
But two things are clear. First, that Avigdor Liberman owes the Israeli electorate some powerful clarifications and/or apologies. He could have spared us political deadlock since April by crowning Netanyahu. He could have spared us political deadlock in September by crowning either Netanyahu or Gantz. And if he does opt to crown Gantz now, he’ll need to come up with a better explanation than his reported comments to colleagues in recent days to the effect that there is “no chance” he will partner with Netanyahu because he blames the prime minister for a series of legal complaints filed anonymously against him and his family. If that was his reason, after all, then it would have applied equally in September.

And second, that the Israeli electorate deserves better from its leaders. Like the rest of the world, Israel is now grappling with a health crisis whose implications are still far from fully understood. We do not lack responsible professionals in key positions of authority. But we do lack a fully functioning government and a fully functioning parliament.
Prime Minister and leader of the Likud Party Benjamin Netanyahu delivers a statement in Petah Tikva on March 7, 2020. (Jack GUEZ / AFP)

We have a prime minister whose trial for corruption is due to start in a week, and who had no compunction on Saturday night about using the same “emergency meeting” to warn us both of the dangers of the coronavirus and of his rivals’ efforts to remove him from power by partnering with the Joint List. We have a would-be prime minister who promised days ago not to build a coalition relying on the Joint List, but is now attempting to do just that. And we have a kingmaker who seems to be capriciously toying with all of us.

Perhaps the most remarkable aspects of last week’s election, then, are that Liberman actually has two more seats today than he did when he ushered in this electoral nightmare. And that turnout for this third installment of torment at the polling station actually went up — from 68.4% in April, via 69.8% in September, to 71.5% on March 2.

Politicians, please do not misinterpret this statistic; we are not enjoying this. It is no way to run a country.

I’m tempted to write: A plague on all your houses. But perhaps now is not the time for that…
A minority, non Zionist government  in Israel
I am writing out a deep, almost voracious, sense of passion and worry that we may be soon governed by a government in which a dominating factor is the non-Zionist Arab Joint List, either as part of the government or as a bloc that will support it and whose demands will have to be met for that to happen. That Israel will be governed by a non-Zionist, minority government is a radical, probably tragic, change in the 72 year old history of our wonderful Jewish State of Israel.

It is a radical break with all the unwritten but basic, consensus assumptions that have allowed our very divided and disparate, primarily Jewish electorate, to work well enough together to succeed in creating one of the world’s most stable, creative flourishing democracies.

Up to now, it has been an unwritten consensus that Israel’s Arab population deserves equal civil rights, can equally participate in the state’s political process but cannot actively participate in the state’s leadership. It has been an unwritten consensus that Arabs cannot participate in the political leadership because our state is still, after 70 years, is in an ongoing state of unresolved conflict with the Palestinian Arabs, and the surrounding Arab populations. (Look at the attitudes of the Jordanian population 25 years after a peace treaty.)

It has been understood that the Arab parties cannot be privy to classified information on security, because Israel’s Arab citizenry ‘suffers’ from a very strong sense of dual loyalties to the Palestinian Arab world. The parties that represent this citizenry have the elimination of the Jewish State in their platforms. Some of their MKs have expressed sympathy for terrorists with Jewish blood on their hands. In the past, one fled the country to avoid arrest for aiding the enemy during wartime.

In addition, there has been an unwritten consensus that the Arab population should not have a deciding voice in questions determining the Jewish, religious nature of the Israeli state.
Gantz-Arab Gov't, Not a Purim Joke
Things are looking worse and worse for Israel as Benny Gantz seems to be crossing his original "red line" in terms of counting on the extreme Left anti-Israel Arab party aka the Joint List to shore up his coalition. I don't know what deal/promises the backers/funders/organizers of Blue & White demanded of its so-called leadership, but Gabi Ashkenazi isn't letting principles get in his path to power.

MK Gabi Ashkenazi, one of the four leaders of the Blue and White party, expressed his opposition to the establishment of a minority government with the support of the predominantly Arab Joint List party in closed talks between the four leaders, Channel 13 News reported Monday.
However, if such a move is promoted, Ashkenazi does not intend to vote against it and prevent the establishment of such a government, the report said.


Some of Blue & White's Telem MKs are also having trouble accepting such a coalition, and their leader, Moshe Bogie Yaalon wants them to resign, rather than stick to their principles.

Here in the Jewish Calendar, the Jewish World, it's Purim. Purim celebrates the story of how a Jewish woman, in disguise, ended up reversing an evil decree against the Jewish People.

Gd willing, we will see some Blue and White MKs act as true leaders and not followers. I just hope that that very male party has the strength, daring, cunning and strong principles of the very female Queen Esther.
Likud starts preparing for fourth election
The Likud began taking steps to prepare for a fourth election on Tuesday, as the political stalemate continued.

The party sent out invitations to convene its constitution committee. The committee is set to meet next week to cancel its automatic primaries for Likud leader and the Knesset list for the 24th Knesset.

Likud officials said Tuesday that the most likely scenario was that "political instability would continue."

Blue and White mocked the Likud for preparing for another election.

"Bibi wants a fourth election," the party tweeted. "A government must be formed!"

Blue and White's No. 2, MK Yair Lapid, tweeted "We told you so."
Israel to hold elections every five months (satire)
Israel will continue to have regular elections every five months, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced Monday.
After the results of last week’s election proved inconclusive, with no candidate for prime minister gaining a Knesset majority to back him, Netanyahu said there’s no reason why elections can’t take place regularly with victor.

“I’m happy to stay interim prime minister forever, and the people will be fine with it too. Look how low unemployment is and how many African and Central American leaders love me,” Netanyahu said, in an interview from his hairdresser where he was trying out a new shade of ash gray.

“It keeps the poster design and printing industry in business, and everyone gets another day off every five months. It’s a win-win proposition.”
Bank of Israel Expects Only Minor Hit to Economy, End of Coronavirus Crisis by July
The Bank of Israel on Monday sought to assuage fears of a devastating impact on the economy by the coronavirus, saying it expects the outbreak to cause a loss of 0.7 percent to Israel’s growth. This would mean GDP growth in 2020 of some 2%.

The bank’s governor, Amir Yaron, said the bank expects the crisis to subside by the close of the second quarter at the end of June. If the spread of the virus is halted, the bank expects Israel’s GDP to quickly rebound.

The assessment assumes there will not be a massive outbreak in Israel, but that some 150,000 Israelis will be confined to quarantine and that tourism, aviation, and some other activities will be mostly shut down.

Yaron held a special meeting Monday to discuss the crisis with the CEOs of seven leading Israeli banks. The discussion centered on how the banking system could help the economy and businesses cope with the outbreak.

Israel’s banking system has not been hit hard by the crisis and is prepared for further downturn, Yaron said, commending the banks’ response thus far.

“The banking system is strong, and it is essential that the banks know how to find a balance between responsible credit policy and the financing needs of the economy, particularly in relation to the business sector, with an emphasis on small and mid-sized businesses,” Yaron said.
IDF continues to call up reservists to deal with Coronavirus
As the number of Israelis infected with the novel Coronavirus continues to climb, the IDF has called up dozens of reservists to help the Homefront Command.

According to a statement provided to The Jerusalem Post, around 70 reservists will be called up.

In addition, the military has called up another 100 medical reservists to help with the call center set up by Magen David Adom to deal with calls from those are concerned they might have contracted the virus.

On Monday night Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that anyone landing in Israel must adhere to a 14-day long quarantine. Earlier in the day the IDF announced that any soldier returning from abroad, even from countries who have not yet been affected by the virus would not be able to serve for two weeks.

As of Tuesday afternoon 58 Israeli citizens including one female soldier have been diagnosed with the virus. According to the military, as of Monday 2,236 IDF soldiers have entered quarantine (including a battalion commander), the majority of whom recently returned from vacations overseas or came into contact with someone who was diagnosed with the virus. Hundreds of soldiers have returned to their units after spending two weeks in quarantine. One female soldier has so far been diagnosed with the virus.
Some survivors fear coronavirus has killed a last chance to march at Auschwitz
For the first time since its founding, the annual trek of Jewish teenagers, educators, and survivors from around the world to the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp on Holocaust Remembrance Day has been postponed, amid global concern over the spread of COVID-19.

The March of the Living normally draws thousands of people to Poland for a memorial walk between the Nazi Auschwitz and Birkenau death camps, and then finishes with a trip to Israel for Independence Day. However Israel has begun barring non-residents, in order to stem the coronavirus outbreak.

Announcing the postponement with a “heavy heart,” on Sunday, March of the Living World Chair Shmuel Rosenman said that the organization was acting out of a sense of “responsibility to take precautionary measures in accordance with the guidelines given by authorities in various countries.”

This year’s march would have had extra resonance, as it marks 75 years since the liberation of the camp, where over 1 million people were killed, most of them Jews.

More than 50 survivors had been expected to travel, some of them pushing themselves hard to attend, despite health concerns, because of the anniversary. Guides suspect that even if the event is rescheduled within months, some of the survivors are declining too fast to manage the trip.
Did World War Z predict Israel's response to coronavirus?
As Israel quarantines tens of thousands and, at press time, contemplates isolating all citizens returning to the country, regardless of where they have traveled, film buffs are pointing to similarities between the Israeli response to the novel coronavirus in real life and what Israel does to contain the zombie outbreak in the movie, World War Z.

The 2013 movie, which starred Brad Pitt as the one man in the world who could stop a worldwide zombie outbreak with his grin and great hair, featured a key sequence set in Jerusalem, in which the Israeli authorities quarantine healthy people in the courtyard of the Western Wall compound. Jews and Arabs huddle together, waving their respective flags and singing songs of peace. Jurgen Warmbrunn (Ludi Boeken), an Israeli Mossad agent, describes the scene as to Pitt as “the Jerusalem salvation gates, two of 10 portals to the security perimeter into fortified Israel.”

Pitt quizzes the agent on how they figured out the need for this mass quarantine before the rest of the world. The answer, which isn’t going to be terribly helpful in the current battle against the COVID-19 virus, is that they intercepted classified communications from India in which the word “zombie” was mentioned and that the Israeli intelligence way is that “the 10th man” must always take a contrarian approach. Jurgen was that 10th man and realized the Indians really meant they were fighting zombies.

In spite of the Israelis’ prescience, they seem to have missed a key fact about the zombies, and that is that they are drawn by sound, so the loud peace songs attract enough of the undead to breach the wall. The compound is overrun while Pitt is hustled off to a waiting plane by a soldier known only as Segen, Hebrew for first lieutenant, played by Israeli actress Daniella Kertesz, most recently seen in Incitement. The movie is adapted from the book of the same name, which was written by Max Brooks, Mel Brooks’s son.


PA nabs 3 Palestinians for spreading coronavirus rumors
The Palestinian Authority security forces arrested three Palestinians on Tuesday who were involved in spreading rumors about coronavirus infections in Bethlehem by way of a WhatsApp voice recording, a PA security source said.

The PA Preventative Security collared Muataz Salim of Dar Salah, a village east of Bethlehem, after he created the voice recording, in which he pretended to be a PA Health Ministry official and spoke about infections in Bethlehem, the security source said in a phone call.

The source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, did not elaborate further on the contents of the audio.

The PA General Intelligence Services also nabbed two Palestinians from Hebron who received the recording from Salim and sent it to others, the source added.

Following the his arrest, Salim apologized for the recording and said that he only meant to send it to a friend as a “joke” and did not intend for it to be spread, according to a second audio recording obtained by The Times of Israel.

“I did not expect the recording to be publicized in this way and cause people fear and panic,” he said.
Abbas: Seeing Palestinian girls beat up Israeli troops fills my heart with joy
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said earlier this month that seeing Palestinian girls assault Israeli troops “fills [his] heart with joy.”

Abbas praised the February protests against the Mideast plan released by US President Donald Trump and said, according to a translation by the Middle East Media Research Institute watchdog, that he wanted to see women at the forefront of the protests.

“The [women] should be in front at the protests,” Abbas said. “Seeing the girls beating up a policeman or a soldier really fills my heart with joy. This is how we want our peaceful popular resistance to be. This is our way to vanquish our enemies.”

In the days following the release of the plan, which was met with fierce criticism from Palestinian leaders, there were daily demonstrations in several West Bank hotspots, which in some cases turned into riots with the throwing of stones and firebombs at Israeli forces and civilian vehicles.

It is unclear Abbas was referring to a specific recent incident or instead the case of teenager Ahed Tamimi, who became an icon of the Palestinian cause after she was jailed for eight months in an Israeli prison for slapping and shoving IDF soldiers outside her home in the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh in 2017.




Palestinians: Israel also appropriated cholent from us (satire)
Palestinian leaders and members of the BDS (Bondage, Dance and Sadism) movement condemned a Yiddish festival in Tel Aviv taking place this week due to its main refreshment: cholent.

“Cholent is a Palestinian national dish that has been hijacked colonized by Israel’s culinary ethnic cleansing,” said Sabil Na’ath, head of the Culinary Resistance Activist Partnership (CRAP) in Ramallah.

According to CRAP, cholent originated in Canaanite cuisine and is indigenous to Palestine.

“The Zionists in their usual way have coopted another one of our dishes, much as they have stolen hummus, sushi and matzah,” said Na’ath, munching on the savory meat, bean and potato stew.

Members of the BDS movement have now vowed to hold “cook-in” events across universities in the US and UK, where they will be cooking traditional Palestinian cuisine, including cholent.

“We will simmer all the leftovers we can find, as our ancestors have done for generations, and show students that these Zionist dishes are in fact our heritage.”
How and Why Iran Has Lost its Position as Head of the Shiite World
In Lebanon, Syria, and Iraq, and inside Iran itself, the people have realized that the enemy is within. It's their own governments that have allowed the Iranian regime to take over the state and its institutions. The Shia Crescent, which Iran has been investing in for decades, is finally turning against the Iranian regime and its proxies.

Iran is facing its most complicated adversary in years - Shia protestors. For Iran, the enemy is also within, and it's one that cannot be contained without a drastic upheaval in Iran's own strategies and political alliances across the region.

Iran's worst nightmare started when the Iraqis - mostly in Shia towns and cities - started to chant "Iran, out out, Iraq free, free." In Iraq, Iran's attempts to turn the protests into anti-U.S. protests didn't work. The three main Shiite cities in Lebanon witnessed widespread protests, despite Hizbullah's constant intimidation and threats to protestors.

It is going to be very difficult for Iran and its proxies to come back from this. The Shia in these countries no longer believe that the Iranian ideology is the solution or that its strategy to defeat Israel and the U.S. will elevate them from poverty and hunger.

Hizbullah had been relying on Soleimani as a military commander.ร‚ The group is currently spread too thin to play a much larger role in Iraq or the rest of the Shia Crescent. A proper replacement of Soleimani doesn't really exist, and Iran is going to struggle to fill that void.
US Sanctions Idle at Least Quarter of Iranian Oil Rigs
At least a quarter of Iran‘s oil rigs are out of action as US sanctions strangle the Islamic Republic’s vital oil industry, according to a Reuters review of financial documents and industry sources, dealing a potentially long-term blow to its oil industry.

The lack of rig activity could damage the OPEC member’s capacity to produce oil from older fields, which require continuous pumping to maintain pressure and output. That would make it difficult for Iran to raise production back to pre-sanction levels if tensions ease with the United States.

The US sanctions aim to curtail Tehran’s nuclear ambitions and regional influence. They have forced Iran to slash its oil output by half since early 2018 to less than 2 million barrels per day (bpd) because refineries worldwide have stopped buying its oil.

Plummeting production and exports have deepened a recession in the country and choked the government of its main source of income. Reduced activity has forced mass layoffs in Iran‘s oil sector.

The sharp fall in oil prices so far in 2020 – due to the impact of the coronavirus epidemic on global demand — will exacerbate the pain for Iran‘s economy, which is also dealing with one of the biggest outbreaks of the disease outside China.

Some of Iran‘s oil rigs are out of action because they can’t be repaired. Sanctions have also made it more difficult and expensive for Iran to buy and import spare parts.
The Shiite Crescent and the Coronavirus
Iran's Shiite crescent, which until recently reflected its imperial reach into the Arab world, has now become a vector for the spread of COVID-19 (the official name of the disease caused by SARS-CoV-2, aka coronavirus).

A study released on Feb. 24 by the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota inadvertently revealed how salient Iran's religious ties to Shiite communities in Arab states have been and continue to be in the spread of the epidemic.

The five Middle Eastern countries that first reported COVID-19 cases – Afghanistan, Bahrain, Kuwait, Iraq and Oman – all have substantial Shiite populations, and all the cases cited are clearly linked to Iran. The first confirmed case in Afghanistan was flagged in Herat province, which is in the country's west on the Iranian border. Another sufferer had recently returned from the city of Qom, Iran's Shiite religious center and, tellingly, the epicenter of the disease in Iran. The first Bahraini to be confirmed as having succumbed to COVID-19 had also just been in Iran, as had all three cases first reported in Kuwait, Iraq and Oman.

The link between Shiite pilgrimage and the spread of the virus is to be found at its source in the region: Iran, specifically the religious city of Qom.
Iran: The Mullahs' Coronavirus Lies
Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, recently called the coronavirus a "blessing."

The situation has become so perilous that some members of the Iranian parliament have finally come forward and criticized the theocratic establishment for failing to address the issue adequately.

The Iranian leaders' cover-up and lies are some the underlying reasons behind the spread of coronavirus to other nations. By calling the coronavirus a "blessing", Iran's Supreme Leader seems to suggest that his objective is to spread the virus to other countries, particularly Israel and the West.
Iranian TV Host Slams IRGC General in Charge of Civil Defense for Evading the Issue of Coronavirus
On a March 7, 2020 broadcast of his show on Channel 5 (Iran), Iranian TV host Mohammad Delavari accepted questions about coronavirus from his viewers through his Instagram account. One of his viewers asked if Iran is a strategic target in a biological war, and Delavari said that this question should be addressed to IRGC General Gholamreza Jalali, the head of Iran's Civil Defense Organization, whom he criticized for declining to appear on the show during the coronavirus outbreak because he is "busy," even though he is usually a regular guest. Addressing General Jalali, Delavari said: "When we couldn't care less about your civil defense, you were here all the time, [but] now, when you need to come and tell us what this story is about, you don't have time."


Iranian Researcher and Former Diplomat Amir Mousavi: Coronavirus Created in a Lab
Iranian researcher and former diplomat Amir Mousavi said in a March 5, 2020 interview on Russia Today's Arabic-language channel that prominent scientists, including Russian biologist Igor Nikulin (see MEMRI TV Clip. No 7855), have said that coronavirus seems to have been developed in a laboratory and that it is an American conspiracy. He said that coronavirus may be America's way of targeting the government officials and cultural sites of its enemies like President Trump had threatened to do and that the U.S. may have the cure for coronavirus, but is holding off on releasing it so that coronavirus continues to affect China and Iran and so that the cure will increase in price and yield greater profits for America. Mousavi also said that America's recent offer of aid to Iran came with a demand for accurate information, and that this is an indication that the U.S. is trying to collect information about the virus' behavior in order to use it in future biological wars.




U.K.-Based Islamic Scholar: Coronavirus Outbreak in Iran Is Divine Punishment for Shiites
U.K.-based Islamic scholar Sheikh Abdul Rahman Dimashqia said in a video that was uploaded to the Internet on March 7, 2020 that Shiite Muslims have claimed that Aisha, one of the Prophet Muhammad's wives, had made a religious ruling that permitted the consumption of rats and that this ruling is the cause of the coronavirus outbreak. He said that the spread of the virus in Iran is divine punishment for their accusations against Aisha, and he claimed that Iran is deliberately sending infected Iranians into Sunni cities and into countries like Lebanon in order to spread the virus among Sunni Muslims. He also said that the Iranians belong to a cult of hatred and that they spread destruction wherever their hands reach. Sheikh Dimashqiah has studied in Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and the United States and is a prolific writer and speaker on issues such as theology and deviant Islamic sects.




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