Friday, November 13, 2020

From Ian:

Caroline Glick: The approaching storm in US-Israel relations
Resolution 2234 was geared towards setting up Israeli leaders and civilians to be prosecuted as war criminals in the International Criminal Court by claiming baselessly that Israeli communities in unified Jerusalem, Judea, and Samaria are illegal. In the words of the resolution, those communities and neighborhoods, which are home to more than 700,000 Israelis have "no legal validity," and "constitute a flagrant violation under international law."

President Trump's recognition of Israel's sovereignty over Jerusalem and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's determination last November that Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria are not illegal were of a piece with the Trump administration's attempt to nullify Resolution 2234, at least from a domestic US perspective. A Biden administration will ignore the Pompeo Doctrine and the State Department's legal opinion substantiating his position just as Obama ignored Trump's repeated statements of opposition to 2234 in the weeks before its passage.

Driving home their plan to pick up where Obama left off, Biden, Harris, and their advisers have all said they will reinstate the Obama administration's demand that Israel bars Israeli Jews from asserting their property rights to build homes and communities in Judea and Samaria.

As for Jerusalem, while Biden has said that he will not close the US Embassy in Jerusalem and reinstate the embassy in Tel Aviv, he has pledged to reopen the US consulate in Jerusalem to serve Palestinians. Until Trump recognized that Jerusalem as Israel's capital, the US Consulate in Jerusalem operated independently of the embassy. The US consul in Jerusalem was not accredited by the Israeli president because the US refused to acknowledge that Jerusalem is located inside Israel.

Although Biden congratulated Israel, the UAE, and Bahrain on signing the Abraham Accords – which Sudan has since joined as well – his advisers have spoken of them derisively. This week, Tommy Vietor, who served as National Security Council spokesman under Obama, spoke derisively of the normalization deals, which just weeks after the accords were signed have already blossomed into a deep and enthusiastic partnership and alliance encompassing private citizens and government ministries in all participating countries.

Vietor said they were not peace deals but a mere vehicle for the UAE to acquire F-35s. Vietor then alleged that the UAE wants to use the deals to help Saudi Arabia win its war against the Iran-backed Houthis in Yemen.

Biden, Harris, and their advisers have pledged to end US support for Saudi Arabia in the war and to reassess the US-Saudi alliance.

If implemented, these policies will not end the Saudi war against the Houthis. They will end the US-Saudi alliance. For the Saudis, the war against the Houthis is not a war of choice, it is an existential struggle. The Houthis are an Iranian proxy regime. Their control over the strait of Bab el-Mandeb threatens all maritime oil shipments from the Red Sea. Houthi missile strikes already temporarily disabled Saudi Arabia's main oil terminal and have hit Saudi cities. If the US ends its alliance, the Saudis will continue their war and replace their alliance with the US with an alliance with China.
Caroline Glick: The 2020 Election Has Been Terrible for the Jews
No matter who ultimately wins the presidential election, the Jews in America are the big losers. As Professor Ruth Wisse of Harvard has long explained, Jews are the bellwether for the health of democracies. Hatred of Jews rises in societies whose democratic institutions and values are in crisis. Jew-hatred is generally low in healthy, working democracies.

If we learned nothing else from the election campaign and its aftermath, we learned American democracy is in crisis.

The media is the first force responsible for this crisis. For the past four years, all major U.S. television networks and national newspapers have dedicated themselves not to reporting news, but to defining the boundaries of acceptable public discourse. Big Tech firms—Facebook, Google and Twitter, in particular, having amassed powers the KGB could only have dreamed of—serve as the enforcers of those boundaries.

The goal of all media corporations has been the same: to overturn the results of the 2016 election. To advance this goal, the media have demonized President Donald Trump and his supporters for four straight years. The shared conviction has been that by subjecting the public to continuous indoctrination to hate Trump and his supporters, Trump would disappear from the White House, whether through a prolonged special counsel probe, impeachment or defeat at the polls.

Nearly all the stories about Trump and his supporters have been negative for the past four years. Consequently, while most Americans never heard that Trump conceived and implemented an entirely new foreign policy doctrine that has met more success than any adopted since the end of the Cold War, all Americans know that the media expect them to believe Trump is a racist. They know that the media expect right-thinking Americans to hate Trump and his supporters, and admire his opponents, from Nancy Pelosi to Black Lives Matter (BLM).
David Singer: Trump-Netanyahu Mapping Committee needs to deliver the map
Trump still has until 20 January 2021 left in his present term to try and bring his Plan to fruition.

Trump – unlike Clinton, Bush and Obama - has been unable to get the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) to negotiate with Israel on his Plan.

However Trump can still materially advance his Plan by:
- releasing the Mapping Committee’s map showing the areas of Judea and Samaria where Israeli sovereignty can be applied now
- procuring consent to that map by Egypt, Jordan, United Arab Emirates, Bahrein and Sudan who have all normalized their relationships with Israel
- getting other Arab states to normalize their relationships with Israel and agree to the Mapping Committee’s proposals
- attempting to get the PLO to negotiate with Israel and
- giving Israel the green light to apply sovereignty when it considers appropriate

Trump begun his presidency by visiting Saudi Arabia and pledging to bring peace to the Middle East.

During his Presidency - Trump took significant steps to recognise Israel’s claim to Judea and Samaria by determining that:
- Israeli settlements located there were not inconsistent with international law
- the US would not distinguish between Israel and Judea and Samaria in its future dealings with Israel

Early release of the Mapping Committee’s map will ensure Trump’s momentum for peace continues full speed ahead until at least 20 January 2021 - and beyond if re-elected for a second term.

Obama: Netanyahu paints himself as ‘chief defender’ of Jews to justify political moves
In a new book looking back at his eight years in the White House, former President Barack Obama details his sometimes turbulent relationship with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu going back to 2009, when both world leaders took office. A Promised Land, the first of two memoirs the former president is writing about his time in office, is set to be released on Tuesday.

Obama describes Netanyahu as “smart, canny, tough and a gifted communicator” who could be “charming, or at least solicitous” when it benefited him, Obama writes in the book, a copy of which was reviewed in advance by Jewish Insider.

Obama points to a conversation the pair had in a Chicago airport lounge in 2005, shortly after Obama was elected to the Senate, in which Netanyahu was “lavishing praise” on him for “an inconsequential pro-Israel bill” the newly elected senator had supported when he served in the Illinois state legislature. But when it came to policy disagreements, Obama observed, Netanyahu was able to use his familiarity with U.S. politics and media to push back against efforts by his administration.

Netanyahu’s “vision of himself as the chief defender of the Jewish people against calamity allowed him to justify almost anything that would keep him in power,” Obama wrote.

The former president writes that his chief of staff at the time, former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, warned him when he took office, “You don’t get progress on peace when the American president and the Israeli prime minister come from different political backgrounds.” Obama said he began to understand that perspective as he spent time with Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

Looking back, Obama wrote, he sometimes wondered whether “things might have played out differently” if there was a different president in the Oval Office, if someone other than Netanyahu represented Israel and if Abbas had been younger.

In the book, the former president also grumbles about the treatment he received from leaders of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), who questioned his policies on Israel. Obama wrote that as Israeli politics moved to the right, AIPAC’s broad policy positions shifted accordingly, “even when Israel took actions that were contrary to U.S. policy” and that lawmakers and candidates who “criticized Israel policy too loudly risked being tagged as ‘anti-Israel’ (and possibly anti-Semitic) and [were] confronted with a well-funded opponent in the next election.”
CNN's Christiane Amanpour compares Trump-era to Kristallnacht
In the opening segment of her daily global affairs interview program on Thursday, Amanpour began by recalling that “this week, 82 years ago, Kristallnacht happened," explaining that "it was the Nazis’ warning shot across the bow of our human civilization that led to genocide against a whole identity.”

Amanpour continued, “and, in that tower of burning books, it led to an attack on fact, knowledge, history and truth.”

Meanwhile, flashing scenes of Jewish victims followed by the Nazi burning of Jewish books were broadcasted.

“Kristallnacht was a turning point in the history of the Third Reich, marking the shift from antisemitic rhetoric and legislation to the violent, aggressive anti-Jewish measures that would culminate with the Holocaust,” described the US Holocaust Memorial Museum.

However, the dramatic description of such a massacre didn't prevent Amanpour from continuing, comparing the forces behind the notorious historical event with the current administration.

“After four years of a modern-day assault on those same values by Donald Trump, the Biden/Harris team pledges a return to norms, including the truth,” she said, immediately setting off a wave of backlash on Twitter, reported as follows by Breibart, as no less than 70 million people actually voted to re-elect President Trump to the White House on Nov. 3 US elections.

“This is ⁦⁦@camanpour on⁩ ⁦@CNN⁩ comparing Trump’s tenure to Nazi Germany,” wrote former Brexit Party Member of the European Parliament Ben Habib on Twitter. “How the hell is this sort of prejudice tolerated on mainstream media? Third rate rubbish.”

Biden’s victory prompts great expectations in Ramallah, quite possibly too great
Joe Biden’s US presidential victory has restored some color to the cheeks of senior officials in the PA, Fatah, and mainly Abbas’s close circle. The hope is that four years of diplomatic drought are ending, and the expectation is that the PA is back in business. It is doubtful that Biden will prove as accommodating as the PA would like to believe, however. Ramallah will need to demonstrate an abundance of readiness to progress in order to avoid angering the incoming American administration.

Had Trump won reelection, Fatah and Hamas would have been inclined to hold parliamentary elections for the first time since 2006. Jibril Rajoub of Fatah and Saleh al-Arouri of Hamas had been holding intensive preparatory talks for such a vote — but they were halted in recent weeks both because of opposition on both sides, and in order to wait out the US elections.

Now, Ramallah will not want to irritate Biden from the get-go by reconciling with the terrorists of Hamas, so that process is likely over. On Tuesday, indeed, Rajoub announced that the reconciliation was delayed “due to special circumstances.” As for parliamentary elections, those too are likely off the agenda, at least until Biden’s policies on the Palestinian issue start to become clear.

The PA will instead wait out the two-and-a-half-month transition period, hope for no parting shots from the Trump administration, wait again as Biden deals with higher priorities, and then likely explore contacts with the new administration to examine renewing ties.

Trump may yet attempt to complicate matters for his Democratic successor by making a move Biden would find it difficult to rescind — announce official recognition of Israeli sovereignty at major settlement blocs such as Ma’aleh Adumim and Gush Etzion, or in the E1 area east of Jerusalem, for instance.
Who are Biden’s potential senior appointees, and what are their views on Israel?
Secretary of State
Susan Rice is seen as a leading contender to serve as top US diplomat. She worked extensively with the Obama-Biden administration, first as ambassador to the UN and later as national security adviser. She also has a wealth of experience in the State Department, serving as assistant secretary for African affairs under president Bill Clinton.

On Israel, Rice has highlighted her “battle every day [as ambassador at the UN] to defend Israel from a drumbeat of hostility.” The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations honored her with their National Service Award in 2011 for her efforts.

However, Rice also gained her fair share of critics in the Washington pro-Israel establishment for her harsh criticism of Israeli settlements in the West Bank. As national security adviser, she was the person who called then-ambassador to the UN, Samantha Power in December 2016, instructing her to not veto a Security Council resolution condemning settlements.

“She’s developed a reputation for being less friendly on Israel, but Biden is not a foreign policy novice and he will be the one steering the administration’s policy on the matter,” one pro-Israel DC strategist said. “Moreover, the differences between her and some of the more ‘friendly’ options are much smaller than [Rice’s] differences with [Israel-critical] Democrats like Ilhan Omar or Rashida Tlaib.”
A Biden presidency resurrects ’67 lines, Palestinian state
US President-elect Joe Biden’s presidency will erase many of the gains the Israeli Right made over the last four years with regard to Israeli sovereignty over Area C of the West Bank – and reintroduce the concept of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict based on the pre-1967 lines.

It is no accident that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu took time, during his speech in the Knesset Tuesday about the normalization deal with Bahrain, to speak against the pre-1967 lines.

Biden has long considered West Bank settlements to be a stumbling block to peace. In that way, he is consistent with both his Republican and Democratic predecessors – save for US President Donald Trump.

The divide between Israel and the United States with regard to the settlements dates back to the immediate aftermath of the Six Day War and has not shifted.

Outside of the last four years of the Trump administration, the United States has never legitimized Jewish building over the pre-1967 lines, including in east Jerusalem.

The US wavered between considering settlements illegal or illegitimate.

Israel, however, was able to push forward to lay the groundwork for its civilian hold on the West Bank with the creation of new settlements, in spite of the friction it created with the US, until the Oslo Accords under president Bill Clinton, which ushered in the era of the two-state solution.
Pompeo to visit West Bank settlement, Golan - report
In a historic first US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is expected to visit the Psagot winery in the West Bank and Jesus’ baptismal site in the Jordan Valley as well as the Golan Heights, during his visit to Israel next week, according to a report published in the Hebrew news site Walla on Thursday.

An English version of the story ran in Axios.

Pompeo’s visit would mark the first time a US Secretary of State has visited a West Bank settlement or the Golan.

It’s the latest in a series of steps Pompeo has taken to legitimize Israeli settlement activity. The Trump administration suspended plans to annex the West Bank settlement, as a prerequisite for Israel’s normalization deal with the United Arab Emirates.

A visit by Pompeo, however, is symbolic gesture that speaks to his support for eventual Israeli sovereignty of all the settlements. It is particularly significant that Pompeo has chosen the Psagot winery, which lost a case before the European Union’s top court on the issue of product labelling.

The winery already has a vintage name for Pompeo in appreciation for his role in the US declaration that West Bank settlements are not inconsistent with international law.

Pompeo is also expected to visit the Golan Heights, which Israel captured from Syria in 1967 and formally annexed in 1981. The Trump administration has recognized Israeli sovereignty on the Golan.
Knesset green lights normalization agreement with Bahrain
The Knesset on Tuesday approved Israel’s agreement on the establishment of diplomatic relations with Bahrain with an overwhelming majority, giving Jerusalem the go-ahead to forge ties with a second Gulf state in as many months.

The vote came following a marathon five-hour legislative session that featured some 80 lawmakers giving speeches to the plenum.

Sixty-two lawmakers voted in favor; 14 — all from the predominantly-Arab Joint List party — opposed the agreement. There were no abstentions.

The so-called “Joint Communiqué on the establishment of diplomatic, peaceful, and friendly relations” will now head back to the cabinet, where it is expected to be ratified with unanimous support.

“Bahrain is a small country but it has big aspirations,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said at the beginning of the debate.

He also vowed that additional Arab countries will soon publicize “the normalization that is being developed” with Israel.

On top of Bahrain, Israel recently signed a normalization agreement with the United Arab Emirates, and is also in the midst of establishing ties with Sudan.

“The buds of normalization are already there, waiting to bloom,” Netanyahu said. “I will continue with the policy I have charted​, I am convinced that the blossoming will be seen above the surface as well, and there will be more countries that will join the circle of peace.”

He said the normalization agreements will stand “as a wall” against the forces of radical Islamism, led by Iran.
The hypocrisy of the International Criminal Court
Recently, 72 countries, among them traditional US allies such as France, Germany, Australia, Canada, and Great Britain, denounced the United States at the United Nations for sanctioning two ICC officials. However, this recent announcement condemning the United States for sanctioning two officials from the International Criminal Court is uncalled for in light of the fact that the ICC has not behaved in a manner that entitles it to be referred to as an “independent judiciary.”

After all, the International Criminal Court is prepared to prosecute Israel over its self-defense during Operation Cast Lead and for building Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria. The fact that they are doing this has led to the PA recently announcing that the ICC should probe Israel for “executing” terrorists.

At the same time, they are ignoring some of the world’s worst human rights abusers:
-Manel Msalmi, an international affairs advisor to the European Parliament, noted that recently the Islamic Republic of Iran “kidnapped Habib Asyoud, the former head of the Arab Struggle Movement for the Liberation of Al Ahwaz” from Turkish territory.
-The Islamic Republic of Iran funds the relocation of Persian settlers to Al Ahwaz as a means of displacing the indigenous Arab inhabitants of the area.
-Mendi Safadi, who heads the Safadi Center for International Diplomacy, Research, Public Relations and Human Rights, remarked: “For 11 years, Syria’s crimes against civilians alongside Iran’s crimes against the Syrian, Iraqi, Yemenite, Lebanese and even the Iranian people has been ignored. They also ignore Bangladesh, whose government is ethnically cleansing minorities. The Safadi Center in the past has filed a number of appeals to the International Criminal Court related to war crimes in Syria and crimes against humanity in Bangladesh, but we have not received even a minor response from them.”
-The International Criminal Court to date has had nothing to say about the Nagorno-Karabakh war. If they had, then maybe the fighting between Azerbaijan and Armenia could have been avoided and the situation would have not spiraled out of control up until the recent peace agreement was signed. This conflict could have been solved without any sort of bloodshed, if the ICC was doing its job and had taken action. However, to date, the ICC is completely silent about the arbitrary targeting of civilian infrastructure in the recent fighting, alongside the use of cluster munitions, ballistic missiles, and other weapons against non-military targets.
Despite Covid-19 Pandemic, UN’s World Health Organization Spends Four Hours Bashing Israel
Despite a ongoing global pandemic that has taken over a million lives, the United Nations’ World Health Organization (WHO) took time on Thursday to condemn Israel.

The group’s annual assembly held a four-hour session in which 30 representatives of countries such as Syria, North Korea, and Iran blasted Israel for supposedly violating the health rights of Palestinians and Syrians.

The assembly then adopted a resolution condemning Israel and pledging to prepare a report on the Jewish state’s supposed misdeeds.

Among the nations that attacked Israel at the session was Iran, which accused it of conducting an “inhuman blockade” of the Gaza Strip that had a “profound impact on the health sector.”

Countries voting in favor of the resolution included, among others, France, India, Ireland and Spain.

Israel, the US, the UK, Australia, Brazil, Canada, the Czech Republic, Germany, Honduras and Hungary all voted against it.

Hillel Neuer — executive director of the Geneva-based NGO UN Watch — called the proceedings a “cynical politicization of the world’s top health agency at the expense of focusing on the COVID-19 pandemic and other vital global health priorities and emergencies.”

Anti-Israel bias at UN has become institutionalized, Erdan tells Guterres
Israel’s Ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan urged UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to work with him to eliminate anti-Israel bias that permeates the international body.

“The bias against Israel has become institutionalized,” Erdan told Guterres.

The two spoke when Erdan presented Guterres with his credentials to represent Israel at the UN in New York. Erdan took up his post this fall, replacing former Israeli ambassador to the UN Danny Danon.

“I am proud to represent my country at this important institution,” Erdan said, but almost immediately, he criticized the UN’s treatment of Israel.

Guterres responded by telling Erdan, “There is a very strong link between Israel and the UN. We consider Israel a very important pillar of the multi-lateral order.”

He reminded Erdan that “the UN was directly involved in the birth of the state of Israel and this was an extremely important moment for your country and for the world.”

The UN secretary-general was honored earlier this week by the World Jewish Congress for his work to combat antisemitism. Despite his work to combat the phenomenon of antisemitism, the UN continues to pass more resolutions against Israel than against any other country, Erdan claimed.

Internationalize the Temple Mount
During his weekly lesson from the Al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount following the jihadi beheading of French school teacher, Samuel Paty, Palestinian Islamic scholar Sheikh Issam Amira stated that "it is a great honor for him [the murderer] and all Muslims that there was such a young man to defend the Prophet Muhammad." How has it come to pass that a religious leader speaking from one of the holiest sites in the world, in the capital of the Jewish State, is allowed to praise such an act and incite to further acts of violence?

How is it also that the grand mufti of Jerusalem Sheikh, Muhammad Ahmad Hussein, has denied any Jewish connection to the Temple Mount? In recent weeks, how had he ruled that it is forbidden for UAE or Bahrain nationals who enter Israel via Israel to enter the Temple Mount?

Because the Israeli Government allows this kind of behavior to take place. It allows a small and unrepresentative group of Muslims from eastern Jerusalem to administer the Temple Mount. The results are a national and international embarrassment.

The grand mufti of Jerusalem, Sheikh Muhammad Ahmad Hussein, has ruled that it is forbidden for UAE or Bahrain nationals who travel to Jerusalem via Israel to enter the Temple Mount.

Non-Muslims (and now certain Muslims) are forbidden to pray on the Temple Mount. Observant Jews who enter the Temple Mount must be escorted by police who may remove them if they move their lips in a manner that might constitute prayer.

Then there is the matter of desecration. In 1996, Muslims treated precious archeological materials below the Temple Mount as trash, dumping it haphazardly at various sites in Jerusalem. Israeli authorities stood by idly as precious national heritage was wantonly destroyed. The debris was collected in 2000 and Israeli archaeologists have been sifting through the refuse for years and finding precious artifacts relating to both the First and Second Temple period.

The list goes and on. The point is clear: it is time to change who makes decisions on the Temple Mount.
Fatah Vows to Rebuild Home of Palestinian Who Stabbed Rabbi to Death
The Fatah movement headed by Mahmoud Abbas is promising to rebuild the home of Palestinian terrorist murderer Khalil Dweikat, who confessed to stabbing to death Rabbi Shai Ohayon—a 39-year-old father-of-four—in August in Petach Tikvah, reported Palestinian Media Watch on Wednesday.

Israel demolished his home on Nov. 2 in an effort to deter future attacks.

A post on Fatah’s official Facebook page on Nov. 2 stated, “Fatah Movement Deputy Chairman Mahmoud Al-Aloul: ‘There is no home that the occupation has destroyed and we have not rebuilt. We will rebuild the home of prisoner Khalil Dweikat in the village of Rujeib.’ ”

It is PA policy to reward and honor terrorists and their families, including rebuilding their homes.

PMW has documented that the PA has rebuilt the house of terrorist Omar Abu Laila, who on March 17 murdered 19-year-old IDF Sgt. Gal Kaidan and 47-year-old Rabbi Achiad Ettinger, a father-of-12, in a terror attack at the Ariel Junction. Abu Laila was killed two days later by Israeli soldiers while resisting arrest.

He was said to have killed others as well on the orders of Abbas himself.
PA Olympic C'mtee chair slams 'sports normalization' with Israel
The Palestinian Authority's Olympic Committee has condemned Arab normalization with Israel in sports, and has called for a general sports boycott against the Jewish state, according to Palestinian Media Watch.

Taking to Facebook on November 1, Jibril Rajoub, chairman of the PA Olympic Committee and the Palestinian Football Association and secretary of the Fatah Central Committee, posted a strong condemnation against the "crime of normalization" following news that the United Arab Emirates' Pro League signed a cooperation deal with Israel's Professional Football League.

“A number of our Arab brothers are making light of the crime of normalization with the fascist occupation state in the field of sports, in a blatant violation of all the treaties, commitments, and decisions of the Council of Arab Ministers of Youth and Sports," Rajoub wrote, according to PMW.

"The Palestine Olympic Committee… expresses its strong condemnation of these steps, and views them as encouraging the occupation with all its elements so that it will continue the most despicable crimes against our Arab and Muslim people and against the sports system in Palestine, and this is instead of putting it on trial, boycotting it, and isolating it.”

The call for a boycott is nothing new, as the Palestinian Authority has been promoting a universal Arab boycott of Israeli sports for years. Rajoub himself has also been very active in keeping Israeli sports teams from competing against Arab – and especially Palestinian – teams. This eventually led to a full expose report against him from PMW entitled "The Rajoub File," which further detailed his support of terrorism against Israel. This eventually led to him being fined and suspended by FIFA for breaching their disciplinary code.
PMW: Fatah lauds former dictator Saddam Hussein
While most of the world had already denounced former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein as a cruel dictator long before he was executed in 2006, the Palestinian Authority clings to him as one of its heroes and role models.

Abbas’ Fatah praised Saddam Hussein as “one of the great people” and “the Hawk of the Arabs,” posting a photo of him and former PLO and PA Chairman Yasser Arafat:

Posted text: “A very rare picture of the great people,
M-artyr, leader, and symbol [former PLO Chairman and PA President] Yasser Arafat, and the Hawk of the Arabs [Iraqi President] Saddam Hussein.
May Allah wrap them in His mercies and place them in the expanses of Paradise.
You will remain in the hearts of the free people”
[Facebook page of the Fatah Commission of Information and Culture, Oct. 27, 2020]

Commemorating the anniversary of Arafat’s death, Fatah posted a video of Arafat and Saddam Hussein embracing each other:
Egypt’s October War Should no Longer Be the State’s Legacy
In a speech last week, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi argued for Muslims worldwide to celebrate the birthday of Prophet Muhammad by being polite like the Prophet and taking the example of his good ethics toward “all the others.” This appeared to be an implicit message on Muslim-Jewish relations during a time when normalization has made those and Arab-Israeli relations increasingly visible. The statement aligned with Sisi’s public acceptance of the Abraham Accords. Yet some of Sisi regime’s internal messaging broadcasted to the Egyptian public during the month of October, via state media and Al-Azhar, seemed to have a different tone regarding their Jewish neighbors.

During the Mubarak years, the month of October was consistently glorified by the Egyptian state and its media machine in commemoration of “winning” the war against Israel. Articles and TV anchors would mark the historical win and use the event as a means of spreading nationalist ideas among the public, while movies were broadcast to internalize the war in the Egyptian collective memory. Indeed, Mubarak’s legitimacy over the course of three decades stemmed from being the Air Force Chief during the Yom Kippur war.

This year, during the annual October 6 speech, President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi did not mention Israel by name. He did, however, stress the historical significance of the war as it restored the dignity of the Egyptian army and motivating the public to look forward to the future for the development their country.

State-owned media similarly refrained from calling Israel an enemy, but did emphasize the importance of winning the war against the “Israeli counterpart.” For instance, the official state TV Channel Akhbar Masr encouraged the Egyptian public to learn from the war by combating terrorism and international conspiracies.
Israeli watchdog sets sites on undermining Hezbollah's grip on Beirut airport
Several major international airlines could face legal action for flying into Lebanon's international airport, which is notoriously controlled by Hezbollah.

The Shurat Hadin Israeli Law Center, which fights the financing of terrorist activity, has sent unprecedented cease and desist warnings to a host of international airlines and insurance companies demanding they halt all services to the Rafic Hariri International Airport in Beirut – or be implicated in allegedly aiding a terrorist group in the commission of war crimes.

The letter was sent to 15 companies, including Air France, British Airways, Italy's Alitalia and Germany's Lufthansa, warning them that airport in the Lebanese capital has become a "hotbed" of Hezbollah activity and is also in the vicinity of known, extensive terrorist activity by the Iranian-backed Shiite terrorist group.

The letter warns that airlines operating routes to and from the airport not only endanger their passengers and crews, but knowingly provides Hezbollah with human shields, thus allegedly allowing terrorist activity takes place.

This, the legal watchdog group said, exposes the airlines and insurance companies to potential lawsuits and criminal charges for aiding Hezbollah.

Shurat Hadin founder Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, further warned the airlines that continued flights into Beirut's international airport constitutes "knowingly supplying Hezbollah with human shields" and therefore could constitution a war crime under international law.
Israel: Bulgaria must recognize Hezbollah in entirety as terror group
Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi called on Bulgaria to designate Hezbollah in its entirety as a terror organization while speaking with his Bulgarian counterpart Ekaterina Zakharieva during her visit to Israel on Thursday.

“I call on the Bulgarian government to take a firm stand against Hezbollah … and to declare all the parts of Hezbollah a terror organization,” he said.

“Only a united [front] against terrorism will yield results,” he said.

The European Union has Hezbollah’s military wing, but not its political wing on its terror list. Israel has campaigned for the EU, of which Bulgaria is a member, to recognize Hezbollah’s political wing as a terror entity as well.

It has also asked the 27 individual EU member states to separately declare Hezbollah a terror organization in its entirety.

But to date only Germany and the Netherlands have recognized Hezbollah as a terror entity in its entirety. France, in a manner similar to the EU, has individually recognized Hezbollah’s military wing as a terror group. But none of the other EU member states have taken any individual action on the matter.
Are Israel and the US planning to attack Iran?
In 2008, after the election that brought Barack Obama to power, in Israel there were some officials who were confident that President George W. Bush would not leave office with Iran’s nuclear facilities still standing. They were wrong. Iran’s nuclear facilities are not only still standing; they have grown in quality and quantity.

This is important to keep in mind amid speculation - once again during a presidential lame duck period – that in his last few weeks in office, Donald Trump will either order US military action against Iran or give Israel a green light as well as some assistance to do it on its own.

The speculation has a number of catalysts. First was the firing of Mark Esper as secretary of defense this past week and the replacement of him and other top Pentagon officials with Trump idealogues. Some media in the US have raised the possibility that Trump wanted to get Esper out of the way, so he could more easily carry out controversial military moves.

In addition, there is no doubt a lot of coordination already taking place on Iran. Elliott Abrams, the administration’s top envoy on Iran, was in Israel this week for talks with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu; Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will be here next week for three days to continue those conversations; and on Thursday night, IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi held a video call with his US counterpart, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs General Mark Milley.

And then there was the interview H.R. McMaster, Trump’s former national security adviser, gave Fox News on Wednesday in which he raised the possibility that Israel – fearful of President-elect Joe Biden’s Iran policies – would attack Iran in the twilight of Trump’s term in office.
Iran Is Already Saying No to Joe Biden
Well, that didn’t take long. With Joe Biden set to be the next American president, Iran is already refusing to renegotiate the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), also known as the Iran nuclear deal, which President Donald Trump abandoned in 2018 in favor of tougher sanctions.

Trump’s “maximum pressure” approach has severely hurt Iran, both economically and militarily. One would think, then, that Iran would jump at the chance to get back in the deal, especially since Biden has already expressed his desire to do so.

But there’s a hitch: Biden has his own demands. As Tom O’Connor reports in Newsweek, “Biden has pledged to return, but only if Iran restored some of the commitments it has since walked away from due to other participants’ failure to normalize trade ties with the Islamic Republic in the wake of the U.S. exit.”

These commitments include “restricting uranium enrichment back down to 3.67 percent, halting production at the Fordow Fuel Enrichment Plant and [stopping the installation] of advanced centrifuges.”

Quoting Biden’s official foreign policy page, O’Connor adds, “If Tehran returns to compliance with the deal, President Biden would re-enter the agreement, using hard-nosed diplomacy and support from our allies to strengthen and extend it, while more effectively pushing back against Iran’s other destabilizing activities.”
Top US Jewish Group Voices Alarm Over Iran’s Continued Violations of Nuclear Deal
A top American Jewish umbrella group expressed alarm on Thursday over a report published by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) earlier this week on Iran’s nuclear program.

“We are dismayed to learn from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that Iran currently possesses 12 times more enriched uranium than the amount permitted under the terms of the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA),” the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations said in a statement. “This finding once again makes it painfully obvious that the extremist regime never intended to abide by the agreement, which it started violating shortly after its adoption.”

“While publicly insisting that its nuclear program is strictly for peaceful purposes, Iran continues to wreak havoc in the Middle East and around the world through its own forces and its terrorist proxies, as it has for decades,” the statement noted. “The international community must remember that Iran is responsible for the deaths of countless innocent people, and regularly calls for ‘Death to America’ and ‘Death to Israel.'”

“Iran will stop at nothing to further its nuclear ambitions and its hegemonic goals,” the statement charged. “This latest discovery that it has once again breached its international commitments should surprise no one, as it is consistent with their longstanding abuse of international norms.”

“Before entering into any potential new negotiations with the rogue regime, the US and world leaders must carefully consider whether or not it can be trusted to negotiate in good faith,” the statement concluded.

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