Saturday, November 14, 2020

From Ian:

Israeli agents killed al-Qaeda’s No. 2 on Iran street, at behest of US: NY Times
Israeli operatives gunned down al-Qaeda’s second-in-command on a Tehran street in August at the behest of the United States, the New York Times reported on Friday.

Abdullah Ahmed Abdullah, who used the nom de guerre Abu Muhammad al-Masri, was accused of being one of the chief planners of devastating attacks on two US embassies in Africa in 1998.

He was killed on August 7, the anniversary of the attacks, the report said, citing unnamed intelligence officials.

The attacks on the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania killed 224 and injured hundreds more.

A former Israeli intelligence official told the newspaper that Al-Masri is also accused of ordering the 2002 attack on an Israeli-owned hotel in Mombasa, Kenya which killed 13 and injured 80.

Al-Masri was driving his sedan close to his home when two Israeli agents on a motorcycle pulled up alongside his vehicle and fired five shots from a silenced pistol, killing al-Masri and his daughter, Miriam, who was married to Osama bin Laden’s late son Hamza bin Laden.

The assassination has not been publicly acknowledged by the US, Israel, Iran or al-Qaeda.

The US was keeping tabs on al-Masri and other members of the terrorist group in Iran for years, but it’s unknown what role the US played in the killing, if any.

Al-Masri was one of the earliest members of al-Qaeda and likely the next to lead the terror group after its current chief, Ayman al-Zawahri.
TV: Al-Qaeda No. 2 was planning attacks on Israelis, Jews when killed in Tehran
The Al-Qaeda No. 2 reportedly shot dead by Israeli agents in Tehran in August was planning attacks on Israeli and Jewish Diaspora targets when he was killed, Israel’s Channel 12 news reported Saturday night.

Earlier Saturday, The New York Times reported that Abdullah Ahmed Abdullah, aka Abu Muhammad al-Masri, was killed by Israeli agents at the behest of the US on August 7. Iran denied the Times story, claiming it was “made up information.”

“Abu Muhammad al-Masri had recently begun planning attacks against Israelis and Jewish targets in the world,” the Israeli TV report said, quoting unnamed Western intelligence sources. This further underlined why the US and Israel had a “shared interest” in his elimination, it said. The US was seeking him for orchestrating two devastating attacks on embassies in Africa in the 1990s, while Israel alleges he oversaw the 2002 suicide bombing of an Israeli-owned hotel in Kenya in which three Israelis were killed.

The killing of al-Masri was the result of a huge, year-long operation, that went off without a hitch, the Israeli report said. The New York Times story said he was shot dead in Tehran by two Israeli agents on a motorbike, who fired five bullets at close range.
Iran denies Israel killed al-Qaeda’s No. 2 in Tehran: ‘A Hollywood scenario’
Iran said Saturday that a New York Times report that al-Qaeda’s second-in-command was secretly killed in Tehran this summer by Israeli agents was based on “made-up information” and denied the presence of any of the group’s members on Iranian soil.

Iran’s foes, the United States and Israel, “try to shift the responsibility for the criminal acts of [al-Qaeda] and other terrorist groups in the region and link Iran to such groups with lies and by leaking made-up information to the media,” foreign ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said in a statement.

Khatibzadeh accused the US and “its allies in the region” of having created al-Qaeda through their “wrong policies” and advised US media to “not fall into the trap of American and Zionist officials’ Hollywood scenarios.”

The New York Times reported Friday that Abdullah Ahmad Abdullah, indicted in the United States for the 1998 bombings of its embassies in Tanzania and Kenya, was shot and killed in Tehran in August by two Israeli operatives on a motorcycle at Washington’s behest.

The senior al-Qaeda leader, who went by the nom de guerre Abu Muhammad al-Masri, was killed along with his daughter, Miriam, the widow of Osama bin Laden’s son Hamza, the Times said, citing intelligence sources.

Washington accused Tehran of harboring al-Qaeda members and of allowing them to pass through its territory in 2016, an accusation denied by Tehran officials at the time.
Are Israel and the US planning to attack Iran?
In 2008, after the election that brought former US president Barack Obama to power, there were some officials in Israel who were confident that the previous 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 so 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 ideologues. Some media outlets 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 that there is 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; US 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 Gen. Mark Milley.

And then there was the interview that H.R. McMaster, Trump’s former national security adviser, gave to 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.

For veteran Israel-Iran watchers, this feels like a rerun of what happened in 2008 as well as in 2012 when Israel also seemed on the verge of an attack. While ministers later confirmed that Netanyahu had in fact wanted to launch an attack in 2012, he ultimately failed to muster support in the cabinet, so the IDF had no choice but to back down.
Europe's battle against Islamist terror – Jerusalem Studio 557
France has become a major battleground in the fight between governments of Europe -whose populations are mostly Christian, and Islamist terrorists - who are out to impose their ideology by all means possible.

The recent brutal attacks in France and Austria have reignited dialogue among European leaders to combat (what they term) political Islam.

Is it just a security problem, or a more fundamental one?

Will the measures taken by French and other authorities decrease the friction, or only increase it?

Panel:
- Jonathan Hessen, Host.
- Amir Oren, Analyst.
- Dr. Ely Karmon, Senior researcher - The Institute for Counter Terrorism, IDC Herzliya
- Colonel Richard Kemp, former British infantry commander and head of international terrorism intelligence team at the British Cabinet Office.
Israel signs official contract with Pfizer worth NIS 800 million
Israel signed a formal contract with Pfizer Inc. on Friday to receive eight million doses of its coronavirus vaccine candidate, if successful.

The Pfizer vaccine will cost the country NIS 800 million, Ynet reported – NIS 100 per dose or NIS 200 per person, as every person needs two doses to be protected.

Israel is meant to provide Pfizer with a NIS 120m. cash advance as early as this week and an additional NIS 680m. in January, when the vaccines are supposed to start arriving.

“This is a great day for the State of Israel and a great day on the way to our victory over the coronavirus,” said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday. “Today we see a light at the end of the tunnel.”

The contract, which was signed by Health Ministry Director-General Chezy Levy, Health Ministry Accountant Hassan Ismail and Pfizer’s vice president Janine Small, does not include any commitment by Pfizer to supply the vaccines to Israel. Rather, wrote Ynet, the contract includes only an intention to do so “according to circumstances.”

Israel was eager to get the Pfizer vaccine after the company announced last week that an interim evaluation of its Phase III study found the candidate to be 90% effective.


‘Borders On Holocaust Denial’: CNN Blasted Over Shocking Segment Comparing Trump To Nazis Purging Jews
CNN faced intense backlash on Friday over a segment that the leftist news organization aired this week that compared President Donald Trump’s administration to the Nazis purging Jews in Germany in the late 1930s.

“Commemorations of Kristallnacht took place earlier this week, remembering the 1938 two-day pogrom during which the Nazis burned more than 1,400 synagogues and Jewish institutions in Germany and Austria,” The Jerusalem Post reported. “While recalling the story of the infamous antisemitic slaughter, CNN Chief International Anchor and host of CNN International’s nightly interview program Christiane Amanpour, compared President Donald Trump’s presidency to that tragic event, explaining there has similarly been a ‘modern day assault’ attacking ‘those same values.'”

CNN faced intense backlash over the segment, yet the network did not issue any sort of statement and neither did Amanpour.

Below are a small sample of some of the responses that the network received:
Dan McLaughlin, Senior Writer National Review: “This comparison borders on Holocaust denial.”
Allie Beth Stuckey, conservative commentator: “First of all, stop comparing politicians you don’t like & policies you don’t agree with to the freaking Holocaust. Second, it’s not conservatives burning books.”
Eric Metaxas: “That ‘elites’ of her age have a grasp of history this HEART-STOPPINGLY tenuous is the most telling fact of modern life. If you want to know how we got here, look no further. The Boomers drank the Cultural Marxist Kool-Aid of 1968 & have been intellectual corpses ever since.”
Mark Broome, journalist: “I know people who spout this ludicrous rhetoric and genuinely believe it’s an honest comparison. Brainwashing. It’s a helluva drug. Amanpour is also one of the most disgusting hacks among disgusting hacks.”
StopAntisemitism.org: “Hey @CNN @camanpour please stop using the horrors of the Holocaust to justify an agenda. Our suffering is not yours to play political ping pong with.”
Orthodox Jewish Public Affairs Council: “Despicable. @camanpour compares verbal fact checking of a POTUS to a Nazi pogrom in which dozens of Jews were murdered. Amanpour uses the book burning of Kristallnacht to reach this comparison thus ignoring the overall deadliness and human cost of the night.”
Joel Petlin, educator and journalist: “It’s outrageous everytime a journalist compares the Trump presidency to the start of the #Holocaust. The fact that @camanpour does it on @CNN doesn’t give it any more legitimacy. Message to all Journalists: STOP USING THE HOLOCAUST TO SCORE POLITICAL POINTS!”
Dovid Efune, Editor Algemeiner: “Awful from @camanpour . Using the Holocaust as a political cudgel is the height of insensitivity and disrespect. Did she mark Kristallnacht in previous years? Or only when politically opportune? The memory of the massacred millions is sacred. This segment is a desecration.”


Twitter Puts Warning Label on Nikki Haley’s Tweet But Lets Ayatollah Slide
Twitter slapped a warning label on a tweet from former U.N. ambassador Nikki Haley arguing that "election fraud does happen," but the social media platform has looked the other way at tweets from Iran's Ayatollah Khamenei denying the Holocaust.

The social media platform placed a "disputed" label on Haley's statement that "Despite what the media tells us, election fraud does happen, and policies like ballot harvesting and mailing ballots to people who don't request them makes it easier." The label links to a series of fact checks that do not address Haley's claim about ballot harvesting.

Haley pushed back on the move, pointing to Twitter's refusal to label tweets from Khamenei, who as recently as last month used the platform to spread misinformation about the Holocaust.

"Why is it a crime to raise doubts about the Holocaust? Why should anyone who writes about such doubts be imprisoned while insulting the prophet (pbuh) is allowed?" Khamenei tweeted on Oct. 28.

The perception among conservatives that Twitter unfairly suppresses conservative speech has elicited blowback from the right: A New York Times report Wednesday chronicled the departure of thousands of conservatives from the platform to alternative social media sites like Parler, Newsmax, MeWe, and Rumble.

Twitter did not respond to a request for comment.


What Trump has in store for Israel, Middle East during final 70 days in office
This isn’t 2016, and the Trump administration has no plans to use its final days in office as former president Barack Obama did to chastise Israel by allowing a resolution condemning Israeli settlements to pass in the UN Security Council.

In fact, a US official speaking on the condition of anonymity said that Israel has “little reason to expect any surprises — definitely not bad ones, but probably not good ones either” over the next ten weeks before President-elect Joe Biden enters the White House.

This isn’t to say that no work will be done on the Israel front during the lame-duck period. Tacitly acknowledging an electoral defeat (which US President Donald Trump has yet to do himself), several administration officials who spoke with The Times of Israel said they plan on working all the way to January 20 in order to solidify Trump’s legacy.

In the Middle East, this means further combating the Iranian regime and its nuclear program, expanding the circle of Arab countries willing to normalize relations with Israel, and shrinking US military presence in the region.

Both former and current officials clarified that it will be highly unlikely that the list of Abraham Accords participants will grow before Biden’s inauguration, but on the issues of Iran and US military presence in Iraq and Syria, movement is plausible in the coming weeks.

Normalized out
A senior administration official said the US would “continue working to advance the application of warm peace between the parties of the Abraham Accords,” which saw Bahrain and the UAE normalize relations with Israel in September followed by a similar announcement from Sudan last month.

Another US official acknowledged that work on the issue would likely “only go as far as further developing ties between current Abraham Accords members, as opposed to expanding the circle further.”

Trump said before the elections that Saudi Arabia and as many as nine other countries were readying to warm ties with Israel.

“I think the low hanging fruit has been plucked,” said Tamara Cofman Wittes, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institute’s Center for Middle East Policy. She argued that the UAE, Bahrain and Sudan were in much better positions to acquiesce to Trump administration demands to normalize with Israel than other countries in the region that have yet to sign up.
Jonathan Pollard hoping Trump will use final days in office to commute sentence
Israeli officials are reportedly exploring the possibility of asking US President Donald Trump for a sentence commutation or pardon for former spy Jonathan Pollard, who is seeking to emigrate to Israel.

According to a Friday Channel 13 report, officials are split regarding the chances of such a prospect, with some believing that Trump is too focused on challenging the results of the election he lost to be approached regarding Pollard’s case, while others believe that there are members of the administration who would be willing to hear out such a request.

Trump is widely expected to hand out a raft of pardons during his last few weeks in office.

However, Pollard may not even need Trump, as his parole is up for review on November 21, and the Justice Department could decide to commute his sentence. The current terms of his parole bar Pollard from leaving the country for a minimum of five years, but that restriction expires this month, and the Justice Department could decide not to extend it.

Pollard, who served 30 years in prison for providing sensitive intelligence to Israel, made a public appeal to Netanyahu last year and asked him to intervene on his behalf to urge Trump to commute his parole, so he could care for his sick wife.
2011: Biden slammed for anti-Pollard comment
US Vice President Joe Biden faced criticism on Tuesday for his comments ruling out the release of Israeli agent Jonathan Pollard. Biden told a group of Florida rabbis last week that he had advised US President Barack Obama against commuting the life sentence of Pollard, who has served nearly 26 years in prison.

“Over my dead body are we going to let him out before his time,” Biden was quoted as saying by The New York Times. “If it were up to me, he would stay in jail for life.”

Biden’s comments upset current and former American officials who have been pushing for Pollard’s release. Former Democratic senator Dennis DeConcini of Arizona, who worked with Biden for years, said he was surprised by what Biden said.

“On the assumption that the report is correct, I am very disappointed that he would make such a statement particularly after he had been a supporter for the justification of clemency for Mr. Pollard,” DeConcini said. “Many of us support clemency based on the fact that Mr. Pollard has served a long term. It doesn’t exonerate him for the crime he committed but the term he served is adequate.”
New Pentagon adviser said Pompeo, senior officials made rich by ‘Israeli lobby’
A newly appointed senior adviser at the Pentagon has said on at least two occasions that “Israeli lobby” money is responsible for Washington’s support for Jerusalem, and accused high level officials, including US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, of becoming “very, very rich” as a result of their support for Israel, CNN revealed Friday.

Douglas Macgregor, a retired army colonel, was asked in September 2019 whether then-national security adviser John Bolton and Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham wanted war with Iran.

“You have to look at the people that donate to those individuals,” Macgregor said.

“Mr. Bolton has become very, very rich and is in the position he’s in because of his unconditional support for the Israeli lobby. He is their man on the ground in the White House,” said Macgregor.

“The same thing is largely true for Mr. Pompeo, he has aspirations to be president,” Macgregor said. “He has his hands out for money from the Israeli lobby, the Saudis and others.”

Macgregor was named as an adviser to acting defense chief Christopher Miller, who replaced Mark Esper when he and other top Pentagon officials were fired this week by US President Donald Trump and replaced with loyalists.

In a 2012 interview with the Russian state outlet RT, Macgregor said the pro-Israel lobby had “enormous influence” and wanted military action to be taken against Iran.

“I think the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee [AIPAC] and its subordinate elements or affiliated elements that represent enormous quantities of money that over many years have cultivated an enormous influence in power in Congress,” he said.
Biden’s expected pentagon pick known for work on US-Israel ties
US President-elect Joe Biden is expected to take a historic step and select a woman to head the Pentagon for the first time, shattering one of the few remaining barriers to women in the department and the presidential cabinet.

Michele Flournoy, a politically moderate Pentagon veteran, is regarded by US officials and political insiders as a top choice for the position.

Her selection would come on the heels of a tumultuous Pentagon period that has seen five men hold the top job under President Donald Trump. The most recent defense secretary to go was Mark Esper, who was fired by Trump on Monday after pushing back on issues including troop withdrawals and the use of the military to quell civilian unrest.

If confirmed, Flournoy would face a future that is expected to involve shrinking Pentagon budgets and potential military involvement in the distribution of a coronavirus vaccine.

Democrats have long sought to name a woman to the top post in a department that didn’t open all combat jobs to female service members until about five years ago. Flournoy had been the expected choice of Hillary Clinton if she had won the 2016 election. Her name surfaced early as a front-runner for Biden’s cabinet, said officials who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss personnel matters.

Seen as a steady hand who favors strong military cooperation abroad, Flournoy, 59, has served multiple times in the Pentagon, starting in the 1990s and most recently as the undersecretary of defense for policy from 2009 to 2012. She serves on the board of Booz Allen Hamilton, a defense contractor, which could raise concerns from some lawmakers. But her moderate views would likely ensure wide bipartisan support in a position that requires Senate confirmation.
US Progressives: Peace Deal Between Israel and UAE/Bahrain/Sudan Terrible for Middle East Peace (satire)
Once upon a time, prior to the advent of Twitter, any relationship between an Arab country and Israel would be cause for celebration, yet given the current climate in the Middle East, some are unsure of the normalization of relations between Israel, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain, and now Sudan.

While the historic deal between Israel, the Gulf states, and the Republic of Sudan, was lauded by many as a historic accomplishment, there were some who were concerned that it would harm their personal beliefs about how reality ought to be. Meade Benjamin, who is a cofounder of Code Pink, says that the agreement between Israel, the UAE, and Bahrain is a step in the wrong direction for the Middle East, and that “we’ll never have peace in the Middle East if they keep signing Peace agreements with Israel.” Code Pink is a progressive organization that seeks to support other peaceful movements in the region like the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, Hamas, Hezbollah, and just random groups of men who enjoy getting together on Saturdays for those special weekend beatdowns on women and small children.

Also concerned about the prospects for another book deal and speaking tour is former Obama administration official Ben Rhodes, who noted, “I can’t be wrong, history is the problem”. Former Obama Secretary of State John Kerry, who once said that Israel would find itself further isolated and a Pariah state, was last heard crying into a pillow through his bedroom door and refusing to come out.
Turkey’s provocative actions in the Mediterranean spark a reaction
In December 2019, the US Congress passed the Eastern Mediterranean Security and Energy Partnership Act of 2019, described as “a comprehensive recalibration of American diplomatic, military, and economic policy towards the Eastern Mediterranean and a strong and prosperous alliance between the United States, Greece, Israel, and Cyprus.”

Among other provisions to encourage energy and security cooperation, the bill lifts the US arms embargo on Cyprus, in place since the 1970s, and authorises new substantial security assistance to both Cyprus and Greece. It also authorises “the establishment of a United States-Eastern Mediterranean Energy Centre to facilitate energy cooperation between the US, Israel, Greece, and Cyprus.”

The US immediately set about implementing some provisions of the bill. In July, the US invited Cyprus to participate in the International Military Education and Training (IMET) program, and in September the US waived the embargo for shipment of non-lethal defence equipment and services to Cyprus. Also in September, Pompeo signed a Memorandum of Understanding on the establishment of the Cyprus Centre for Land, Open-seas, and Port Security (CYCLOPS).

In Greece, Pompeo announced, “We, the Americans, look to Greece as a true pillar for stability and prosperity in the Eastern Mediterranean, and we are incredibly proud to support its leadership. Our security cooperation has grown tremendously – indeed, by leaps and bounds.”

Based on an upgraded Mutual Defence Cooperation Agreement with the US ratified by Greece in January, the US will be building three new military facilities in Greece as well as expanding its base at Souda Bay, which will become the permanent home of the USS Hershel “Woody” Williams, the newest expeditionary sea base in the US Navy. This move, Pompeo said, was “symbolic of a defence partnership that will continue to expand and to grow.” This shift towards Greece becoming the dominant US regional defence partner began in late 2018, when talks were first broached on new facilities and base expansion.

Finally, the US is reportedly preparing to sell both the UAE and Greece the advanced F-35. Some of the Greek F-35s will reportedly be those initially intended for Turkey before it was expelled from the F-35 program over its purchase of the Russian S-400 air defence system. Another consequence of Turkey’s purchase of the S-400 is an unofficial but comprehensive US arms embargo on Turkey, with the threat of severe sanctions still in the air. Unlike President Donald Trump, Joe Biden has been personally hawkish towards Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and a Biden administration would be likely to step up efforts to penalise Turkey.

All of these separate but related partnerships and alliances are now organically connecting, particularly since the US-brokered Abraham Accords officially normalised relations between the UAE and Israel. Whether this will work to constrain Turkish ambition and behaviour remains to be seen, but it’s clear that there has been a pronounced regional realignment with substantial US backing, and large-scale Israeli participation, laying a solid foundation for the containment of Turkey.
Six Igbo synagogues razed by soldiers in Nigeria's Biafra region
At least six Igbo synagogues were razed by soldiers last week in Nigeria’s River State, located in the country’s Biafra region, 9Africa news reported.

The incident took place as soldiers besieged Oyigbo, Etche, Iriebe and Eleme after violence broke out as a result of a youth protest demanding an end to police brutality in the country, 9Africa news reported, citing Igbo Jewish adherents who escaped the attack.

During the siege, at least 50 people were killed and an eyewitness said two people were arrested at a synagogue in Iriebe Okpulor for “wearing Kippah & Magen”.

The Biafra region is mostly populated with the Igbo ethnic group, the majority of which are Christians, according to the Forward. Many Igbo believe that they are descended from a lost tribe of Israel, and include Jewish practices amid those of their own religion. However, some smaller groups identify as Jews themselves.

Campaigning for the secession of the former Easter region of Nigeria is a group called the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), which is led by an exiled activist named Nnamdi Kanu, who identifies as Jewish.

The group has been outlawed.
New Israeli HBO series ‘Valley of Tears’ reopens wounds of the Yom Kippur War
In an early episode of “Valley of Tears,” the Israeli miniseries about the 1973 Yom Kippur War that debuted in the US on HBO Max on Thursday, a main character grimaces as he falls awkwardly against a rock toward the end of a tense battle sequence. There’s no blood on his uniform, so it’s apparent that he must have hurt himself in the tumble.

During filming, life imitated art: The actor Aviv Alush, who plays the heroic Yoav, broke his ribs against the rock.

“The actor jumps up and he starts to scream, he’s like ‘Ah, ah!’ And we film it, and he says ‘No, it’s for real!’ And we’re like ‘Yeah, it’s for real!’ And we keep on shooting,” said director Yaron Zilberman. “We had that [type of] thing several times. We call it the gods of cinema.”

Meticulous realism was central to the production, which is being touted as the most expensive in Israeli history, and is currently breaking Israeli viewing records.

Israelis are “very neurotic as an audience and will always check every small detail,” said co-creator Ron Leshem. Before writing, he and co-creator Amit Cohen studied Israeli army lingo and thousands of soldier testimonies. They also found and rehabilitated tanks that were actually used in the war with the help of Israel Defense Forces technicians, who outfitted them with new engines.

“I’m so envious of the people who have so much free time to dive into checking if this kind of candy bar was already available [back then],” Leshem said on a Zoom call from his home in Boston. “They’re obsessed.”

But Zilberman, Leshem and co-creator Amit Cohen also felt an unprecedented level of pressure in bringing to life a war that had both traumatized so many Israelis and had never been portrayed on this kind of cinematic scale. They say the show, which has been airing in Israel for weeks, has already succeeded in “opening the wound” of the war — a phrase all three used — and helping families begin to reckon with their repressed experiences of it. Cohen, who like the other two says he has been deluged with texts and online responses about how accurately the show has depicted the war, calls it a kind of “national therapy.”

“Every year there are new documentaries, or you have special editions in the newspaper with interviews and exposes bringing new stuff. But nothing has the same visceral effect that this show has,” Cohen said on Zoom from Los Angeles.




Saudis say they thwarted Iran-backed attack on oil facility near Yemen
Saudi Arabia said early Friday it thwarted an attack by Yemen’s Iran-backed rebels that sparked a fire near an Aramco oil distribution center, involving unmanned boats loaded with explosives dispatched into the Red Sea.

In remarks carried by the state-run Saudi Press Agency, an unnamed official at the Ministry of Energy reported that Saudi security forces had intercepted and destroyed two explosives-packed boats that it said Yemen’s Houthi rebels were using to target a major refinery and terminal in the southern Saudi province of Jizan.

The attempted attack took place late Wednesday near an offloading platform and caused the floating hoses that unload oil to catch fire, according to the energy official, who added that the blaze had been brought under control and caused no injuries.

The official sharply condemned the attack as threatening commercial shipping routes near the vital Bab al-Mandeb strait, used for oil shipments from the Gulf to Europe, as well as goods from Asia to Europe.

There was no immediate acknowledgement from Yemen’s rebels, who have repeatedly fired drones and missiles targeting oil installations, airports and cities in the Saudi mainland over the course of a grinding five-year war against a Saudi-led military coalition. In September 2019, drone attacks claimed by the Houthis struck two key oil installations in Saudi Arabia, halting about half of the supplies from the world’s largest exporter of oil. Saudi Arabia and the US attributed the assault to Iran, which has denied involvement.

Saudi Arabia often claims to foil Houthi cross-border attacks, but evidence is scarce, making it extremely difficult to independently verify the accounts.
BBC continues to promote what the EHRC ruled ‘unlawful harassment’
At the bottom of that section readers are offered a link titled ‘Read more about the difference between anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism’ which leads to a highly problematic BBC backgrounder produced in late April 2016. As was noted here when that item was first published:

“…the article focuses on promoting the inaccurate and misleading notion that anti-Zionism is the same thing as expressing criticism of the policies and actions of the Israeli government. […] To make matters even worse, the article amplifies the ‘Zionism is racism’ canard and the ‘apartheid’ fabrication…”

That promoted 2016 backgrounder includes the exact same presentation of the Livingstone Formulation as is found in the October 29th version of the “general guide” to what the BBC persists in calling “Labour Party anti-Semitism claims” despite the publication of the EHRC’s findings. It also still amplifies related claims made by a known anti-Israel activist and a fringe political group:

“On the other hand, it’s regularly claimed that accusations of anti-Semitism are deployed to silence criticism of the Israeli government or to further other political ends.

Pia Feig, of Manchester Jews for Justice for Palestinians, told BBC Radio 2’s Jeremy Vine programme that “anti-Semitism has been used to quieten down and suppress my concern and the concern of other people for Palestinians”.

In a statement after Livingstone’s suspension, the Jewish Socialists’ Group said accusations of anti-Semitism were being “weaponised” to attack the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn.”


While there are certainly additional points to be made about this amended version of a BBC backgrounder which is supposed to inform audiences about antisemitism in the Labour party, its continued uncritical amplification of the Livingstone Formulation even after that had been ruled “unlawful harassment” by the EHRC is clearly the most remarkable.

Once again we see that despite its own dismal record and the plethora of evidence showing that the BBC does not have the authority or the expertise – let alone the remit – to define antisemitism, it continues to purport to ‘explain’ that topic to its audiences.
“Jew process” Councillor Jo Bird under investigation by Labour for third time after reportedly suggesting antisemitism is being privileged over other forms of racism
The controversial councillor, Jo Bird, is understood to be under investigation by the Labour Party for the third time in recent years after reportedly suggesting that antisemitism is being privileged over other forms of racism.

Last week, Cllr Bird reportedly told a meeting of the far-left faction ‘Don’t Leave, Organise’: “As a Jew, I worry about racism against Jewish people. I also worry about privileging the racism faced by Jewish communities in this country as more worthy of resources than other forms of discrimination such as against black people, Palestinians, Muslims and refugees. Abuses of power are measured in detentions, deportations and deaths. Privileging one group over another group is divisive. It’s bad for the many, as well as bad for the Jews.”

Cllr Bird represents the Bromborough Ward on Wirral Council and has a long history of controversy relating to Jews, including renaming ‘due process’ in the Labour Party as “Jew process”, for which she was suspended; supporting the expelled Labour activist and friend of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, Marc Wadsworth, who was thrown out of the Party after a confrontation with Jewish then-MP Ruth Smeeth; and worrying about the “privileging of racism against Jews, over and above — as more worthy of resources than other forms of racism.”

Elected to Wirral Council in August 2018, Cllr Bird is a member of Jewish Voice for Labour, the antisemitism-denial group and sham Jewish representative organisation, and she has described Labour’s institutional antisemitism as based on mere “accusations, witch-huntery and allegations without evidence”. She recently failed in her bid for election to Labour’s ruling National Executive Committee.
Ice Cube to headline ZOA gala months after anti-Semitic tweets
Ice Cube, Jon Voight and Miriam Adelson are just a few of the speakers set to headline the annual gala of the Zionist Organization of America in December.

The dinner will be held virtually.

Ice Cube, the rapper and actor known for being a member of the pioneering 90s rap group NWA and for having a subsequent acting career, got to know ZOA president Morton Klein this summer, after Cube tweeted images that many deemed anti-Semitic. Klein spoke to the rapper about the incident and the two struck up an unlikely friendship.

“He called me Mort,” Klein told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency at the time. “He told me to call him Cube.”

That friendship has now borne fruit, with the rapper set to appear as a featured speaker at the annual ZOA dinner. Jon Voight, another actor who has in recent years become an outspoken supporter of Donald Trump, will also speak at the event. Other speakers include Miriam Adelson, the wife of Republican donor and casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, and David Friedman, the United States ambassador to Israel.

Even before this summer, Ice Cube had a fraught relationship with the Jewish community. He is a staunch supporter of the anti-Semitic Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan and was accused in 2015 of ordering his entourage to beat up a rabbi. Some of his rap lyrics, including ones aimed at NWA’s Jewish former manager Joseph Heller, have been called anti-Semitic.

Meanwhile, members of a leading Jewish group have filed complaints against Klein and the Zionist Organization of America for tweets and statements they say were Islamophobic and racist.


White supremacist jailed for 2 years over plot to bomb Las Vegas synagogue, ADL
A white supremacist who told an undercover FBI agent about his plans to firebomb a synagogue or attack a Las Vegas bar catering to LGBTQ customers was sentenced Friday to two years in prison.

Conor Climo, 24, apologized before US District Judge James Mahan sentenced him to prison followed by six months of home confinement with electronic monitoring. Prosecutors recommended a 30-month prison sentence.

“I was truly wrong for all of this,” Climo said. “I even have come to really regret everything, everything that I was involved with.”

The judge gave Climo credit for the jail time he already has served since his August 2019 arrest and agreed to recommend that he serves his prison time in Louisiana, near grandparents whom he plans to live with after his release.

“I’m going to take you at your word,” Mahan told Climo. “I think you have seen the error of your ways and you want to reform.”

Defense attorney Paul Riddle said his client is grateful that FBI agents arrested him when they did because he knows that he was on a “very dark path.”

“But he’s not on that path anymore, and he’s the not same person that was arrested,” Riddle said.
German whose grandfather bought Jew’s shop in 1938 calls descendant to apologize
A German man who discovered that his grandfather’s store had been bought from a Jewish man who was forced by Nazi laws to sell it to him, recently made contact with the Israeli granddaughter of the shop’s original owner to apologize and hear the family’s story.

Thomas Edelmann told CNN he had discovered years ago that his family’s business had been acquired under questionable circumstances, but he had never known the fate of the original owners.

But he said a chance conversation about the matter with a representative for MyHeritage led the genealogy company to track down the man’s relatives, and even to send Edelmann a photo of his gravesite in northern Israel.

The original owner of the hardware store in Bad Mergentheim, southern Germany, was Benjamin Heidelberger. But Heidelberger was forced to sell the store to Wilhelm Edelmann upon the introduction of the Nuremberg Laws, which largely blocked Jews from the German economy.

Under Edelmann that store over the years became a successful chain of hardware stores that exists to this day.

Heidelberger fled to Mandatory Palestine shortly thereafter, where he raised a family. MyHeritage put Thomas Edelmann in contact with Heidelberger’s granddaughter, 83-year-old Hanna Ehrenreich.

The two exchanged letters and then spoke on the phone.

“I believe that if my family supported the injustice your grandparents experienced, it is our duty to take this into account and take over responsibility at least in getting in touch with you to listen and learn,” Edelmann wrote Ehrenreich. “As I am part of the Edelmann family I want to take the first step and listen to you.”
Rothschild heir claims initial win over Vienna in battle over Nazi-seized trust
A member of the Rothschild banking dynasty has claimed victory in the first stage of a legal battle against Vienna over a family trust that was seized by the Nazis during World War II and then appropriated by the Austrian city.

Geoffrey Hoguet’s suit revolves around a foundation set up in 1907 with the funds of his great-great uncle Nathaniel Freiherr von Rothschild who left the equivalent of about 100 million euros ($110 million) when he died in 1905 to provide psychiatric help for the needy.

Hoguet, a 69-year-old New York investor, is accusing Vienna of appropriating the foundation in breach of its founder’s will and “perpetuating” Nazi-era laws. He only learnt of the foundation’s existence in 2018.

A court has backed Hoguet in an early stage of the legal fight, the Guardian reported on Saturday, stating that the city of Vienna has a conflict of interest over the foundation’s finances and that therefore the charity must be represented by an independent figure in the legal proceedings.

“The decision is an important first stage win in our legal battle with the city of Vienna to correct the course of Nazi-era injustices endured until today,” Hoguet told the newspaper. “In doing so the court recognizes the improprieties conducted by the city of Vienna since the Nazi usurpation of that foundation in 1938.”

Hoguet additionally called on officials in Vienna to “reinstate an independent governing board for the foundation and return the Nazi booty to serve its purpose as dedicated by my family.”
S&P affirms Israel’s strong credit rating, despite pandemic-battered economy
Standard & Poor’s, the provider of independent credit ratings, on Friday affirmed Israel’s position at a relatively high AA- rating, with a stable outlook, despite the country’s battered pandemic-battered economy.

The ratings are an indication of the credit-worthiness of a nation that issues debt and how likely it is to repay the debt.

The company cited Israel’s robust economy, flexible monetary policy, relatively strong pool of local savings and access to domestic and international capital markets.

The two main points against Israel’s credit rating were its relatively high level of debt and geopolitical risks.

The firm also noted the normalization agreements Israel signed with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, which it said could lead to economic cooperation, increased commerce and better security for the three countries.

S&P estimated that Israel’s economy will shrink by five percent in 2020 due to the pandemic, its biggest drop in decades, but will recover over 4.5% in 2021, the Globes business daily reported.

Finance Minister Yisrael Katz hailed the rating, saying, “The decision by S&P to keep the State of Israel’s credit rating at AA-, with a stable outlook, is a great expression of trust in Israel’s economy and a mark of praise for the State of Israel. Israel is in a good position in relation to many countries in the world that are struggling with the coronavirus crisis.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu welcomed “another impressive vote of confidence in the economic policy that we have been leading.” He noted that Standard and Poor’s has lowered its credit rating for other developed countries during the pandemic.

Last month, the Moody’s rating agency kept Israel at an A1 stable rating, its fifth-highest, expressing confidence in the country’s economy despite two punishing coronavirus lockdowns and its contentious politics.
10 things you didn’t know about the Dead Sea
King Herod had a spa here, Cleopatra loved it, but only the brave will enter the Dead Sea if they’ve just shaved.

Find out more fascinating facts about Israel’s most unusual treasure.


‘Hamilton’ Star Leslie Odom Jr. Records Cover of Hanukkah Song ‘Ma’oz Tzur’
Tony and Grammy Award-winning Broadway actor Leslie Odom Jr. has recorded a cover of the classic Hanukkah song “Ma’oz Tzur” with his wife, Jewish Broadway actress Nicolette Robinson.

The almost four-minute song includes a soft piano interlude and is featured on the “Hamilton” star’s new holiday album, titled “The Christmas Album.”

“Ma’oz Tzur” is the only Hebrew-language track on the album, which is Odom Jr.’s second Christmas album and fourth studio album. The album was released on Nov. 6 and features 11 songs, with two originals written by Odom Jr.

“It’s the high holy time that season time in America, and it’s not just Christmas, it’s Chanukah and Kwanza too,” said Odom about the holiday season. “That last three weeks in December is the only time as Americans that we really as a society allow ourselves to push pause for a second. Everything else is about hustle and grind.”

Odom Jr., who is not Jewish, and Robinson married in 2012. They have a 3-year-old daughter and announced on Tuesday that they have another child on the way, a baby boy.

Robinson, whose mother is the daughter of a rabbi and father was not raised Jewish, told Broadway Direct that when growing up, “We celebrated Christian and Jewish holidays, and I got an understanding of both sides of my background.”





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