Sunday, February 16, 2020

From Ian:

NGO Monitor: An analysis of the United Nation’s BDS blacklist
After multiple delays over legal, due process and methodological concerns, which do not seem to have been addressed, on Wednesday the U.N. Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) published its “database of all business enterprises” that it claims contribute to “human-rights concerns.” This U.N. blacklist, ordered by the U.N. Human Rights Council, is meant to bolster BDS campaigns, singling out Israel.

This singular treatment of Israel in this exercise, as with many other HRC initiatives, violates the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism.

The database is aimed at economically damaging Israel and companies owned by Jews or that do business with Jewish Israelis. In keeping with the BDS objective, 94 of the 112 companies on the blacklist are based in Israel. Many Arab, European and Asian companies that meet the list’s criteria were excluded; large Israeli companies were included, clearly in order to maximize the economic harm to Israel’s economy as a whole.
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This blacklist operates under the false premises that business in occupied territory is “illegal settlement activity” barred by international law. In fact, there is no such prohibition, and almost every country engages in and/or facilitates business activities in settlements in situations of occupation. Unsurprisingly, however, the United Nations is only pursuing such a list regarding Israel.

A major category of listed companies are those providing consumer goods and services (food, telecommunications, transportation, gas, water) to both Palestinians and Israelis. The United Nations seeks to bar such companies from operating or impose discriminatory business criteria with little regard as to the human rights and economic impacts on the local population and the companies’ employees.

Pro-BDS NGOs, including Human Rights Watch (HRW), Amnesty International and Al-Haq, have been major proponents of the blacklist. Over the past few months, these groups, along with UNHRC-member dictatorships, have been intensively lobbying High Commissioner for Human Rights Michele Bachelet, the former socialist leader of Chile, to publish it.
Israel freezes ties with UN rights chief after release of settlement blacklist
Israel is suspending its ties with the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Foreign Ministry announced Wednesday, several hours after the UN body published a list of 112 companies that do business in West Bank settlements.

Foreign Minister Israel Katz’s office said he ordered the “exceptional and harsh measure” in retaliation for Michelle Bachelet’s office “serving the BDS campaign,” referring to the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement.

Katz intends to protect the companies operating in Israel, his office stated.

It was not immediately clear what practical implications the decision would have. The commissioner’s office has representatives stationed in Israel, but they are not known to enjoy good working relations with Israeli diplomats. Officials in Jerusalem on Wednesday evening merely said that any requests they may have will not be answered as of today.

Earlier on Wednesday, the commission unexpectedly released the so-called blacklist, which had been in the making since March 2016, when the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council passed a resolution calling for a database of companies promoting or maintaining Israeli settlements.

Israeli reacted angrily to the publication of the blacklist, denouncing the UN body responsible for compiling it and vowing to protect Israeli financial interests. The Palestinians, meanwhile, celebrated a “victory for international law.”

Ninety-four of the 112 companies on the list are Israeli, including all major banks, state-owned transportation companies Egged and Israel Railways Corporation, and telecommunications giants Bezeq, HOT and Cellcom. It also lists medium-size companies such as restaurant chain Café Café and Angel Bakeries.
Humanitarian Aid donated to the Palestinians sold for profit
The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNWRA) is tasked with administering humanitarian aid and social welfare to Palestinian refugees.

Last year, a leaked confidential report from UNRWA’s ethics office detailed abuses of power among the agency's senior management, documenting incidents of "sexual misconduct, nepotism, retaliation, discrimination and other abuses of authority, for personal gain, to suppress legitimate dissent, and to otherwise achieve their personal objectives."

In light of the scandal, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Belgium and New Zealand suspended funding the agency.

UNRWA has long been controversial as it seeks to perpetuate the Palestinian refugee crisis, rather than resolve it.

The corruption and abuse of power exists even at the most fundamental level.

Food aid donated to the people of Gaza from UNRWA and from private donations has been seen on the grocery store shelves, sold for profit and promoted on the stores social media pages.

One store advertised cans of tuna, clearly labeled as a "gift" from the people of Japan

Powdered milk, donated from the UN Refugee Works Agency (UNRWA) and clearly marked "Not for Sale" was also available

It spite of the ongoing controversy, UNRWA continues to solicit funding worldwide. Its time for anyone committed to justice for the Palestinian people to seriously consider alternatives to the bloated and corrupt UNWRA bureaucracy.

  • Sunday, February 16, 2020
  • Elder of Ziyon

According to Rome's Il Messaggero, an Italian bus line leased 70 buses that had been used for ten years in Tel Aviv - only to find out that they did no tmeet more modern emissions requirements for the EU, and they were therefore worthless.

The contract terms showed that even if they return the buses they would have to pay 16% of the 4.3 million euros of the total cost.

Italians are upset over the obvious waste of public money.

The Italian company instead decided to resell the buses to Morocco. So now the Moroccans are angry that they bought buses that were originally used in Israel.

The buses are still in the port but people are upset - Casablancans are upset that the buses that they desperately need are not being deployed yet, and the Islamists are angry because they have a bizarre idea that since the buses were used in Israel for a number of years this would be a form of "normalization."

Even though the buses were not manufactured in Israel. Even though Israel will not receive a dime for the buses being sold by Rome.

If someone can demonstrate that a percentage of the water in Morocco's beaches was once off the coast of Israel, maybe the Islamists there will have to move elsewhere.




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  • Sunday, February 16, 2020
  • Elder of Ziyon
Here is a video showing J-Street leader Jeremy Ben-Ami embracing and kissing Mahmoud Abbas last week, interspersed with Abbas' own antisemitic and pro-terror statements in his own words.


These are just the words of Abbas I found on video. He's also blamed Jews ("rabbis") for poisoning Palestinian water, he's blamed Jews for raising and releasing wild boars and dogs to attack Palestinian farmers, he's denied all Jewish connections to the land of Israel, he's embraced the Khazar theory that Jews aren't even Jews.

This is who Jeremy Ben Ami considers a dear friend. And the number of times he and J-Street contingent have visited Abbas in Ramallah indicates that he actually collaborates with Abbas in coming up with strategies to help destroy the Jewish state - in the name of "progressivism."

I'm not speaking hyperbolically. J-Street has even endorsed the "right of return" meant to destroy Israel.  J-Street's official positions do not support Israel as a Jewish state - just like Abbas.

(h/t Daled Amos)



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  • Sunday, February 16, 2020
  • Elder of Ziyon
Echorouk Online, one of Algeria's most popular news sites, published an article called "Religious myths founding Israel:"

Among the most dangerous religious myths in modern times is the myth of the establishment of Israel as the national home of Jews in Palestine. At a time when the West is pressuring the Arab world to liberate from the past and increase it with freedom, democracy and a civil state, the Zionist entity supported by the West itself tends to drown in the past and turn towards the myths of the religious state, the racist entity, and bloody politics. Global Zionism was launched as a political ideological movement closely related to contemporary colonial projects, but the dream of creating a national homeland for Jews in the world cannot be achieved or mobilized except by tickling the Jewish religious emotions to persuade them to emigrate to this land, and only a legend in the distorted Torah found that God promised Israel the promised land, which is Palestine, through our master Abrahim, peace be upon him.

This dangerous myth appears from the religious designation of this entity (Israel), which is the name of the Prophet of God Jacob, peace be upon him, one of the sons of our master Abraham, peace be upon him, even though God Almighty cut off this alleged link to them, and God Almighty said: “Abraham was neither a Jew nor a Christian, but it was A true Muslim .. ”(Al-Imran: 67), because Judaism is attributed to  "Judah" and he is one of the 11 sons of Israel from the brothers of our master Joseph Ibn Yaqoub Ibn Ibrahim, peace be upon them, referred to in the Almighty saying:“ When Joseph said to his father, my father, I have seen Eleven planets, the sun and the moon saw them prostrate to me. ” (Joseph: 04). This requires us to know the illusory foundations of the existence of this cancerous entity in the side of the nation, and that Zionism is nothing but a racist nationalist ideology that has consumed the Jewish religion and the distorted Torah for the establishment of Israel as an alleged religious state.

The article goes on with lots of other familiar anti-Israel and antisemitic arguments (including quoting Shlomo Sand and saying that today's Jews have nothing to do with ancient Jews), but the Biblical argument was particularly novel.






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Saturday, February 15, 2020

From Ian:

Seth Mandel: The Rot Inside American Jewish Organizations
What’s happening here is more than a skirmish over a peace plan, or a distressing glimpse into the way American Jewry’s leaders privilege their partisan leanings over the fact that their leadership roles in American society are due to their Judaism and not their Democratic Party membership. What we are seeing is the way American Jewish leaders fail to take seriously the rising tide of anti-Semitism that masquerades as “anti-Zionism”—and even the way progressive groups enable it. Attacking an American plan for its pro-Israel lean is nonsensical for those who should, by the very nature of who they are and what they do, want the United States to have a pro-Israel lean.

There is no future for Jewry without a strong and surviving Israel. Indeed, for the modern Diaspora, no idea has more successfully preserved the notion of an egalitarian Jewish peoplehood—one that crosses languages and religious boundaries—than Zionism. Long before the reestablishment of the State of Israel, Zionists were the Jews dedicated to arguing compellingly for a coherent Jewish identity and thus for Jews as a minority deserving of the rights and recognition afforded others. If American Judaism is to have a chance at survival, it must first realize that that is what it is fighting for.

What does it look like when a national Jewish community understands what’s at stake? The United Kingdom offers a good example. Heading into the December elections, the Labour Party was (and is, for the moment) led by Jeremy Corbyn. He attempted to pass off his admiration for terrorists and his party’s harassment of Jewish politicians and Jewish voters as “anti-Zionism”—as though that were a good thing—but he still ended up proving that the word “Zionist” is just a stand-in for “Jew” in leftist discourse. He claimed that “Zionists,” even those who have lived their whole lives in Britain, “don’t understand English irony.” The Jew, to leftists like Corbyn, will forever be an outsider.

A full 87 percent of UK Jews denounced Corbyn as an anti-Semite. “What will become of Jews and Judaism in Britain if the Labour Party forms the next government?” Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis wrote in late November in the London Times. “This anxiety is understandable and justified.” Jewish Labour groups fought to expose their own party’s bigotry, even as whistleblowers faced retaliation. Jews abandoned Labour. In the event, Labour lost the election in a historic landslide.

Such communal solidarity has become distressingly unthinkable in the United States. Consider the story of the anti-Semitic crime spree in New York. For nearly a year, the steady low-level harassment of visible Jews in the Big Apple spiraled deliberately into an open-ended, slow-rolling pogrom outside the city—a broad-daylight massacre at a Jersey City kosher market followed by a Manhattan man driving 30 miles to the Haredi town of Monsey, where he stormed into a rabbi’s house with a machete and hacked away at stunned victims.

The media ignored the violence until there was blood in the streets; the organized Jewish world reacted like a deer in the headlights; non-Orthodox rabbis sneered at the Haredi community as it absorbed daily assaults; Jewish intellectuals pretended nothing was happening. Well into the Brooklyn violence, anti-Semitism chronicler Liam Hoare insisted that “despite the endless handwringing about anti-Semitism on the left, it is far-right extremism which constitutes the paramount threat to American Jewish life today.” It was a line the Anti-Defamation League had been pushing hard as well. But the renewed violence in the New York area wasn’t coming from white nationalists or alt-right posers. Many of the attacks caught on tape featured African-American suspects in outer-borough neighborhoods where religious Jews were framed as land-grabbing outsiders, with some residents telling interviewers they viewed Israel as the point of origin for these Jews. In Jersey City, the shooters were reportedly Black Hebrew Israelites, a kind of extreme black nationalist group, apparently motivated by a conspiracy theory that Jews pull the strings of the police to kill black people—a calumny that took original form as a claim that Israel was training U.S. cops to persecute minorities. “Israel” very quickly becomes “Jews.”
Melanie Phillips: Denying their parent and embracing their assassin
Christians are arguably the most committed supporters of Israel in the world. At the same time, different kinds of Christians are among the Jews’ worst enemies.

In America, the ones who defend Israel so passionately are (mostly) the “red state” evangelicals. It is these people in their millions, not the so-called and vastly over-hyped Jewish lobby, who make America so pro-Israel.

Many American Jews, however, believe these Christians are antisemites. This is because some want to convert the Jews to Christianity and believe that this will happen at the “end of days.”

None of that, though, poses a serious danger to Jewish interests. A far greater threat is posed by those Christians who appear more reasonable because they sound like secular liberals.

Next month, the executive committee of the World Council of Churches (WCC) is due to elect a new general secretary. One of the two candidates is Dr. Jerry Pillay, a member of South Africa’s United Presbyterian Church who has urged support for the BDS movement against Israel “for the sake of just peace.”

The WCC has played a key role in turning much of the world against Israel. Through its “liberation theology,” it has for decades infused liberal churches with neo-Marxist, anti-capitalist, anti-west attitudes — thus placing a virtual halo over the antisemitism of the left.

In Britain, the Church of England and other liberal denominations are institutionally hostile to Israel. Such churches, along with immensely influential Christian NGOs such as Christian Aid, Christ at the Checkpoint or KAIROS, disseminate boiler-plate distortions and falsehoods that demonize Israel and sanitize Palestinian-Arab aggression.

In the United States, a number of churches — most notably the United Church of Christ and the Presbyterian Church USA — have passed BDS resolutions against Israel.

According to Dexter Van Zile, the Christian analyst with the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA), the “Never Again” coalition of liberal Protestant denominations created after the Holocaust has attacked the primary victims of the Holocaust with a flood of dishonest propaganda.

Its message, he has written, is that “Israeli Jews abuse the rights accorded to them as a sovereign people in the Middle East,” and that “by exercising undue influence in the democracies where they live, Diaspora Jews help Israel get away with its crimes.”

“It’s a ‘cleaner’ version of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion,” says Van Zile, “but the implications are just as demonic.”

Friday, February 14, 2020

From Ian:

Put BDS to the Test
Now, matters have come to their natural conclusion. The same student government has passed a resolution urging the University to divest from “companies that profit from human rights violations in Palestine and other communities globally.” Despite the nod to “other communities” and a gesture toward immigration issues at home, the resolution focuses on Israel. Erez Cohen, director of U of I’s Hillel, says that it “refers to Israel 11 times more than any other country mentioned.”

The University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign is not an anti-Israel campus. Given the opportunity to participate in referenda on related resolutions in 2017 and 2018, the student body rejected them by wide margins. There is good reason to believe Rabbi Dovid Tiechtel, co-director of U of I’s Chabad, when he says that “this vote does not represent the values and beliefs of students and faculty at the University of Illinois.”

In 2017, proponents of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel succeeded, after years of failure, in passing a resolution at the University of Michigan. It was the norm then, and remains the norm now, not to try to reverse these resolutions. That’s a sensible strategy on some campuses, where, after a resolution has passed, anti-Israel activists can struggle to find a new campaign with the same propaganda value as divestment. Resources are often put to better use educating students and faculty on matters distorted by BDS propagandists, such as anti-Semitism, Zionism, and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. But I thought then and think now that, at places like the University of Michigan and the University of Illinois, where BDS has struggled to win victories and has won those only by swaying small numbers of student legislators, it’s worth mounting a campaign to repeal or otherwise respond to anti-Israel resolutions. Anti-Israel activists benefit from a fight in which their forces return to the field after a battle is lost, confident that, if BDS ever wins, its campus opponents will retire from the field.

It is a challenge for campus BDS campaigns to find their footing after a win. But it’s also a challenge, as campaigners against BDS know from experience, to go back year after year, even after overwhelming victories of the sort they’d won at the University of Illinois, to hold the ground.

On some campuses, BDS activists, too, should be put to that test.



Democratic Presidential Surrogates Discuss Israel, Jewish Issues
Joel Rubin, Sanders’ director for Jewish outreach, said Sanders would work hard to ensure Israel’s security and in securing a state for the Palestinians.

The evening included discussion of the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement. Richman said that Bloomberg was opposed to BDS, believing it anti-Semitic and that Bloomberg adhered to the principles set forth by former Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky that the “three Ds” of anti-Semitism were delegitimization, demonization and double standards.

Rubin said although Sanders is opposed to BDS, the Vermont senator believes that “Americans have a constitutional right to participate in nonviolent protests.”

Rob Meyerhoff, a Steyer staffer, said Steyer, who has made climate change the focal point of his campaign for the Democratic nomination, also saw support for BDS as falling under the banner of free speech.

“I’m not a regular surrogate for Joe Biden,” Koretz said. “I just think he’s the right candidate for the right time.”

As for Bloomberg, Richman said, “He has the experience and the toughness to stand up to Donald Trump.”

While Rubin highlighted the extensive support Sanders has received across the country, Simonds called out some of those supporters. Without mentioning anyone by name, he asked Rubin to explain why Sanders has had political ties with anti-Zionists. In response, Rubin urged people to focus on Sanders’ words about Israel, not those of his supporters who may have made troubling remarks about the Jewish State.


Omar Foreign Policy Adviser Dodges Question About BDS
As Rep. Ilhan Omar (D., Minn.) introduced what she is calling a "progressive vision" for foreign policy, her foreign policy adviser demurred on a cornerstone of that vision: the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaign to economically isolate Israel.

At a briefing on Wednesday about the plan, which Omar is dubbing a "Pathway to Peace," Omar aide Ryan Morgan declined to explain why the congresswoman opposes economic sanctions but supports BDS.

Omar left the event after offering brief remarks, leaving Morgan to participate in the panel discussion that followed in her stead.

"You're asking me if I want to take the BDS question?" said Morgan. "No."

Omar announced a package of bills that she says reflects "a bold progressive vision" for U.S. foreign policy. The discussion that followed was moderated by Trita Parsi, executive vice president of the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, a new think tank backed by the billionaires Charles Koch and George Soros.

Both Omar and the Quincy Institute have faced accusations of anti-Semitism.




  • Friday, February 14, 2020
  • Elder of Ziyon





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From Ian:

JPost Editorial: The UN Human Rights Council's shameful blacklist
The UN has reached a new low. The UN Human Rights Council, usually in the news because it includes countries with the worst records of human rights abuse in the world, has now targeted companies that do business in the West Bank, east Jerusalem and the Golan Heights. The so-called blacklist includes 112 companies with the aim of letting the world know who it is that works in Israel’s alleged “occupied territories.”

The publication of the list has been in the works since 2016. Countries with the worst human-rights records, such as Cuba and Venezuela, pushed the list due to their anti-Israel views, not because of an attachment to international law. The Arab League and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation also supported the list, neither of which are known for having members with stellar human-rights records.

Unsurprisingly, the UN does not have a global standard for how it labels companies that operate in different disputed areas, such as Crimea, Kashmir, Afrin, Northern Cyprus or Western Sahara. As usual, the Human Rights Council (UNHRC) has merely replicated the antisemitism of previous eras, targeting Israel the way global antisemites target Jews. There is no reason Israel’s role in the West Bank is especially unique.
Corporations that do business in the West Bank are no more involved in human-rights abuses than those accused of fueling such abuses from the Gulf to Asia.

As Lahav Harkov wrote in Thursday’s Post, there is no explanation for why some companies active in the West Bank, in the categories the UN mentions, are on the list of 112 while others are not. The UN supposedly seeks to target companies involved in surveillance, demolition, pollution and hindering the Palestinian economy. The list includes Motorola, Airbnb, General Mills and TripAdvisor, among others. This is confusing, since TripAdvisor enables users to review places in Palestinian areas. Why punish a company that assists people in finding tourism opportunities in Palestinian areas merely because the same company might highlight restaurants that are also owned by Israeli citizens?

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel will contest the decision with all of its strength and will boycott those who try to boycott it. President Reuven Rivlin said the companies deserve support, and former US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also slammed the list.

Caroline B. Glick: Build Bibi, build
From the dawn of modern Zionism, two forms of Zionism have operated in tandem. The first is diplomatic Zionism. The second is pioneering Zionism. One of the unique aspects of the Trump plan is that it embraces both.

The map of Israel envisioned in the Trump plan is a map that adds the Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria to sovereign Israeli territory. It bears out the central maxim of pioneering Zionism – the map of Israel is determined by the settlement of Israel. The land Jews live in is the land over which they take possession. The slogan of the pre-state pioneers, "One more dunam [hectare], one more goat," lives on, as relevant than ever in the Trump plan.

As for diplomatic Zionism, the Trump plan is predicated on a recognition that Israel is the legitimate sovereign in Judea and Samaria under international law. This recognition, a hundred years after those rights were anchored in international law in the San Remo Convention, is a singular triumph for diplomatic Zionism.

Over the past 150 years, when progress in one form of Zionism was blocked, the other compensated by taking a more dominant role.

For instance, due then Obama's obsessive hostility towards Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria and neighborhoods in united Jerusalem, throughout most of Obama's presidency, pioneering Zionists were stymied. Israel couldn't build new communities or build much of anything inside existing communities without incurring the white wrath of the White House.

So Netanyahu, the greatest diplomatic Zionist since Theodor Herzl grabbed the baton and started running. Through his peripatetic defenses of Israel's rights and relentless push to strengthen and widen Israel's bilateral relations with countries around the world, Netanyahu enabled Israel to withstand the Obama administration's anti-settlement pressure campaign and get through his presidency with all communities intact.

Due to the administration's sudden opposition to the application of Israeli law over the Jordan Valley and the Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria ahead of the March 2 elections, the diplomatic pathway to Israeli sovereignty over the areas is stymied. But that there is a path forward. It has a diplomatic component but it mainly involves community building.
Clifford D. May: The return of the Monroe Doctrine
Tehran's regional propaganda headquarters is in Caracas. The two regimes collaborate in a disinformation war against the US Their Spanish-language television networks, Hispan TV and Telesur, respectively, share journalists across Latin America.

Hezbollah, a proxy of the clerical regime, is firmly ensconced within Venezuela's large (about 200,000) Lebanese Shia community. "Simply put," Dr. Ottolenghi notes, "Maduro and his cronies use the trappings of a sovereign state to run a criminal syndicate involved in pillaging state resources and taking commissions from organized crime to use Venezuela as a staging ground for their global smuggling operations."

He adds: "Hezbollah supporters, concentrated in several areas of Venezuela and along the Venezuela/Colombia border, have, over the years, lent their businesses to trade-based money-laundering schemes designed to repatriate drug money for the cartels – minus a hefty commission for Hezbollah."

The day after the State of the Union, President Trump met with Guaido to discuss how "to expedite a democratic transition in Venezuela that will end the ongoing crisis," according to a White House press statement.

I'd argue that will require additional sanctions, not just on the Maduro regime but also and especially on Russia which is violating the Monroe Doctrine – President James Monroe's 1823 warning to Europe that further imperialism in the Western Hemisphere would not be tolerated.

Of course, in 2013, then-Secretary of State John Kerry announced: "The era of the Monroe Doctrine is over." What he probably meant was that the Obama administration had no wish to dominate the Americas.

Vladimir Putin, the Russian neo-tsar toward whom Bhatt believes Mr. Trump is too solicitous, may have interpreted Mr. Kerry's words differently: as an invitation to exploit US neighbors – an invitation he and others have been only too pleased to accept.

By Daled Amos

There are those who claim that supporters of Israel throw around the accusation of "antisemitism" merely as an excuse to deflect criticism of Israel.

At the same time, apparently without being aware of the irony, there are times that criticism of Muslims is deflected by claiming that the critics are, in fact, guilty of Islamophobia -- such as when Ilhan Omar responded to Liz Cheney's criticism of Rashida Tlaib's comments "we all know you never met a Muslim you didn't want to vilify!" and accusing her of "deep-seated hate and Islamophobia"

Now we have reached a whole new level, where we see accusations of antisemitism in order to deflect criticism of Bernie Sanders.

At issue are some of the friends and allies that Sanders surrounds himself with:


This has led The Washington Examiner to claim Bernie's campaign has an anti-Semitism problem and has led The Federalist to ask:
Bernie Sanders' associations paint a pattern of proximity to antisemitism, which raises the question: Is it that he really doesn’t notice, that he’s willing to tolerate it, or that he somehow also supports it?
A typical response to rebut this is to claim that the criticism accusing Sanders of antisemitism is itself antisemitism:


But does Sanders himself even understand what antisemitism is?

Last year, Bernie stated his opposition to antisemitism:
“Like other forms of bigotry—racism, sexism, homophobia—antisemitism is used by the right to divide people from one another and prevent us from fighting together for a shared future of equality, peace, prosperity, and environmental justice.
Like the Democrats, when they were called upon to condemn Ilhan Omar's antisemitic tweets, Sanders also groups antisemitism together with all other forms of bigotry, and sees it as a right-wing phenomenon.

While he claims “I will always call out antisemitism when I see it. My ancestors would expect no less of me,” the fact remains that you have to recognize antisemitism before you can call it out and we have already seen the difficulty Sanders has on that score -- what with his defense of Ilhan Omar's accusation of dual loyalty to Israel, his making Linda Sarsour a surrogate and his alliances with people who regularly attack Israel.

So we are left with the odd situation that Sanders is surrounding himself with divisive people like Sarsour, Omar and Tlaib -- yet he claims to be opposed to being divisive


How can someone who identifies as a Jew associate with antisemites?
But maybe the focus of these criticisms of Sanders is actually misplaced.

Ramon Epstein suggests that it is not a question of Sanders identifying as a Jew, but whether Sanders identifies with Jews:
Nowadays he talks sparingly about his Jewish identity, but when he does he’s quick to mention the Holocaust. Tellingly however, he neglects how he stood silently and ignored the cries of Soviet Jews to live a free life. Whereas he’s willing to let black nationalists rip microphones from him and he openly associates with fraudulent civil rights activist Linda Sarsour, he never misses an opportunity to condemn Jewish nationalism by appearing at a J Street convention.
Similarly, in an October 2015 article, AlterNet claimed that besides having never appeared at AIPAC, Sanders has never appeared at a pro-Israel rally and has not traveled to the Middle East in decades.

Yossi Klein Halevi goes further:
After his stay on a kibbutz, Bernie the Jew seems to have gone AWOL. Did he stand with Israel in 1967? 1973? In 1975, when the UN labeled Zionism racism? Did his Holocaust-driven pain lead him to active involvement in the movement to free Soviet Jewry?
The fact is, Sanders shies away from publicly identifying with and relating to the Jewish people.

In 1994, Sanders refused to single out Farrakhan official Khalid Muhammad for condemnation for racist remarks, including referring to Jews as "bloodsuckers."

In 2002, when Congress considered a bill supporting Israel against terrorism, Sanders voted "present"

When Sanders was asked if he viewed himself as a Zionist in an interview in 2015, he was clearly uncomfortable and answered politically, rather than personally:
Ezra Klein: Do you view yourself as a Zionist?
Bernie Sanders: A Zionist? What does that mean? Want to define what the word is? Do I think Israel has the right to exist, yeah, I do. Do I believe that the United States should be playing an even-handed role in terms of its dealings with the Palestinian community in Israel? Absolutely I do.
Contrary to Sanders' tepid response, a Zionist is not someone who thinks 'Israel has the right to exist.'
A Zionist is someone who identifies with Israel and supports it, who thinks that "Israel must exist.'

Similarly, in 2016, at a political event, Sanders again sidestepped an opportunity to address his personal feelings about being Jewish when a man in the audience claimed: "Jews run Wall Street, they run every campaign."
“I am proud to be Jewish,” [Sanders] declared, to cheers from the audience. But then Sanders did something odd. Rather than using the question as a teaching moment to address and rebuke its anti-Semitic underpinnings, Sanders instead immediately pivoted to his stump speech on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. “Talking about Zionism and Israel,” he said, “I am a strong defender of Israel, but I also believe that we have got to pay attention to the needs of the Palestinian people.” He never challenged the actual contents of the question, let alone labeled it anti-Semitic. [emphasis added]
Sanders did not see this as an antisemitic attack on the American Jewish community in general -- he saw it as an opportunity to fall back into the political safe-space of his stand on Israel and the Middle East.

Last month, Joel Rubin, the Jewish outreach director for the Sanders campaign said the American Jewish community needs Bernie Sanders:
“As a Jewish candidate he is a unique voice, he’s a person whose personal bio is rooted in ending up on these shores as a result of suffering anti-Semitism abroad. This is the most quintessential Jewish American story if ever there was one, to have him out there for the American Jewish community, which is attacked and under siege. It is so valuable to have a politician and a leader running who gets it in his kishkes.” [emphasis added]
But if so, how do his 'kishkes' allow Bernie Sanders to keep teaming up with antisemites?

In 2015, during an interview on NPR, Diane Rehm matter-of-factly asked Sanders about his being a dual citizen of Israel, a claim he quickly rebutted. Yet, here is Sanders teaming up with the people who make the same accusation of Jewish dual loyalty of others. James Kirchick notes the incongruity, and writes:
It also raises the troubling possibility that Sanders is using his own Jewishness to mainstream some of the worst actors in the Democratic Party’s progressive wing–either out of the same naivete that led him to honeymoon in the Soviet Union or a wager that their support is necessary to bring about his desired political “revolution” in America.
But maybe the answer is more basic, and ties in with the Bernie Sanders record, or lack of a record, of standing together with Jews both in the US and around the world.

As Yossi Klein Halevi puts it:
Bernie Sanders is not an enemy of the Jewish people. He simply doesn’t care enough about Jewish concerns to be considered a friend.




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  • Friday, February 14, 2020
  • Elder of Ziyon


A story about hacking members of the Palestinian Authority has turned into another story about how the Palestinian Authority tries to control the news media.

From SecurityWeek:
Two apparently politically motivated backdoor campaigns have been observed operating in the Middle East, targeting influential Palestinians. The aggressors are most likely the MoleRATs APT (aka The Gaza Cybergang, Extreme Jackal, Moonlight, and DustySky). MoleRATs operates out of Gaza and is believed to be associated with Hamas.

The two campaigns are primarily differentiated by the backdoor malware used: Spark and Pierogi -- and have been named as the Spark Campaign and the Pierogi Campaign respectively by researchers at Cybereason's Nocturnus group. Spark is the older of the two malwares, and has been known since January 2019. Nocturnus believes it was developed by MoleRATs themselves. Pierogi is a new undocumented RAT, discovered by Cybereason in December 2019.

Pierogi is thought to have been developed by Ukrainians rather than MoleRATs themselves. There are numerous Ukrainian words within the code, including, for example, C2 commands. These include 'ekspertyza' ('examine', for requesting commands from the C2), 'zavantazhyty' ('download', for exfiltration), and 'vydaly' ('delete', for deleting certain requests). The Ukrainian connection is the reason for the Pierogi (a popular East European dish) name.

Both campaigns use email social engineering as the initial attack vector. Spark delivers a weaponized document or a malicious link. The lure is political, including themes based on the Hamas/Fatah conflict, the Israel/Palestine conflict, tensions based on the killing of Qasem Soleimani, and tensions between Hamas and the Egyptian government.
...
The Spark Campaign, concludes Cybereason, suggests the social engineering element is "specifically meant to lure and appeal to victims from the Middle East, especially towards individuals and entities in the Palestinian territories likely related to the Palestinian government or the Fatah movement."

The second campaign, Pierogi, is slightly different but also tied to MoleRATs. It is similarly targeted against Palestinian individuals and entities that are likely related to the Palestinian government. ....
The infrastructure for the Pierogi campaign seems to have been created specifically for the campaign. The domains were registered in November 2019 and operationalized shortly afterward. "The Pierogi backdoor discovered by Cybereason during this investigation seems to be undocumented and gives the threat actors espionage capabilities over their victims." Cybereason suggests it may have been obtained through underground communities rather than developed in-house by MoleRATs.
It is interesting that Gaza (and possibly Hamas) hacking abilities are this sophisticated.

But the Palestinian Authority doesn't want this information to be published.

The Ministry of Communications and Information Technology said that what the Israeli websites claim from the occurrence of cyber attacks and attempts to penetrate Palestine is only a description of the general situation that Palestine and other countries of the world are subjected to from attempts to infiltrate and cyber attacks through multiple sides.

The ministry confirmed in a statement issued today, Friday, that all attempts of this type are dealt with immediately by our specialized teams, which are the information security team and the competent security authorities.

The Ministry called on citizens not to deal with such news, inviting them to go to the competent authorities in the event of any citizen being exposed to attempts or operations of this type of targeting and others.

The Ministry released a statement: "We deplored the nature and timing of this news, which was published through the occupation...we confirm that its aim is an attempt to reinforce the division between our people who created a great image of unity with the decision rejecting the deal of the century."

The Ministry called on all Palestinian and Arab news websites and media platforms to be vigilant and cautious, not to circulate unreliable news and reports, and to check their accuracy before publication.
The news of course came from an Israeli cybersecurity company, not the Israeli government. A new backdoor in Android is always news. This is what cybersecurity researchers do. The PA yet again is warning its new media not to publish reports that make them look bad. The idea that the timing was to somehow hurt Palestinian unity is paranoia.

And the attempt to stifle free speech is at least as big a story as the hacking.



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  • Friday, February 14, 2020
  • Elder of Ziyon
Peter Beinart points to a 2014 interview with Mike Bloomberg about Israeli actions in Gaza during the last war.



Bloomberg defends Israel (and even refers to Israel as "we") when he discusses the shelling of a UNRWA school in July:



Bloomberg is correct in saying that Israel has every right to attack the spot where they are being attacked from. He should have told the interviewer when she asked about the Geneva Conventions and an incident at a UNRWA school where some 15 were killed that Israel was fully within its rights under international law to attack a military objective, and that civilians in the area do not make a military objective immune to attack unless the expected collateral damage is disproportionate to the military advantage.

No one knew it at the time, but Israel did err in its attack. After four years of investigation, Israel admitted that a mortar or mortars that was meant to be shot at a target 130 meters away from the school had accidentally hit the school. Israel admits it was aware of the school and that the only civilians in the area were there, and it had no intention of attacking it. Decisions in the heat of wartime are made by the best available information that the commander in the field has, and the errant shells were not anticipated, so there is definitely no violation of international law here.

Bloomberg may not have known the details of international law while understanding in his gut that Israel was not doing anything immoral in wartime. But Beinart proves that he knows nothing about international law - which proves that Israel's actions are not only defensible but in nearly all cases, necessary.

Here are the results of Israel's investigation into the incident, which gives an idea of how thorough the investigations are (and how Beinart and Human Rights Watch and others simply assume Israel is a bloodthirsty tyrant intent on murdering innocents.)

As previously reported in media reports, in reports and complaints from an international organization and from NGOs received by the MAG Corps, it was alleged that an IDF strike in the vicinity of an UNRWA school in Beit Hanoun on 24 July 2014, at around 1500, resulted in the deaths of 15 persons, as well as injuries to others. Subsequently, the incident was referred to the FFA Mechanism for examination.

The factual findings collated by the FFA Mechanism and presented to the MAG, indicated the existence of grounds for a reasonable suspicion that the incident involved a deviation from the rules and procedures applicable to IDF forces. As a result, the MAG ordered a criminal investigation into the incident.

The investigation that was conducted was thorough and comprehensive. Testimony was obtained from numerous IDF soldiers and officers, as well as from seven Palestinians. Moreover, the investigation reviewed materials from the IDF’s relevant operational systems, witness affidavits received from Palestinians, and more. Additionally, video clips, radio communications and pictures were obtained, some of which was given to the investigating authorities by UNRWA and an NGO.

Documents reviewed in the course of the investigation showed that on 10, 17, and 20 July 2014, mass messaging was directed at the residents of Beit Hanoun through leaflets, radio and television broadcasts, telephone calls and voice messages, all calling on the residents to evacuate from the area. The evacuation was called for due to the IDF’s intention to enter the area for the purpose of locating and neutralizing a cross-border assault tunnel that, according to the information available to the IDF, originated in the Beit Hanoun area and ran into Israeli territory.

According to the testimony of commanders and soldiers, the civilian population did indeed evacuate from the area, and no civilians were identified during the ensuing fighting – with the exception of the civilians taking shelter in the UNRWA school, which was known to the IDF to be operating as a shelter for civilians who had evacuated their homes. It was also found that the commanders of the force tried to bring about the evacuation of the school, in order to avoid harm to those therein in light of the fighting that was occurring in the area, and that many attempts were made to try and coordinate the evacuation of the school and the transfer of civilians to a different shelter in a more remote area.

On the day of the incident, in the early morning hours, the IDF began advancing in order to clear enemy forces from the area. IDF forces came under heavy attack from enemy forces, who fired anti-tank missiles, small arms fire, and sniper fire against IDF forces. During the maneuver, IDF forces identified explosive devices embedded in the area next to the school. [That is a blatant violation of international law that is completely ignored by the Israel haters - EoZ.]While the forces were engaged in neutralizing the explosive devices, they were fired upon from a number of structures, resulting in injuries to an officer and to a soldier. A short time later, another unit was fired upon from the same area.

Following the combat, IDF forces evacuated the injured and moved back to defensive positions. Shortly thereafter, an order was given to fire towards the area of combat, in order to prevent the persistent enemy fire on IDF forces, and to facilitate the forces’ re-entry into the area.

The investigation's findings provide that the commanders who ordered the fire assessed that, with the exception of the school, the area was devoid of civilians. Accordingly, the precautions taken during the firing were mainly aimed at preventing harm to the school, and at reducing the risk of civilian casualties. The findings also provide that the forces were instructed to avoid any possible harm to the school and the civilians therein, and that the central consideration in choosing the impact point for the fire was ensuring strict compliance with safety margins from the school.

The forces directed mortar fire at an impact point located approximately 130 meters away from the school’s boundary (a distance significantly greater than the relevant safety margin). The firing was conducted using a single mortar so as to increase accuracy, and while employing visual surveillance and shells with the lowest possible potential to cause damage.

In retrospect, it turned out that three of the shells landed within the school grounds and hit persons located therein. The investigation materials showed that this outcome was not foreseen in real-time by the IDF forces, and was caused due to an unintentional and unexpected deviation of the shells from the intended impact point.

When it was discovered that the school had been hit, all forces in the area were instructed to cease fire immediately, and coordination efforts were undertaken to facilitate the passage of supply and medical vehicles into and out of the school.

As a result of this event, the IDF implemented operational lessons-learned, which were intended to reduce the risk of such incidents occurring in the future.

It should be noted that, in the course of the investigation, allegations were raised by various sources that a mortar shell or rocket fired by a Palestinian terror organization hit the school. No evidence was found to corroborate these allegations.

After reviewing the investigation's findings, the MAG found that the firing procedures in question accorded with Israeli domestic law and international law requirements. The decision to fire was taken by the competent authorities, for a clear military purpose, and the fire was aimed towards a source of persistent enemy fire emanating from a number of different locations in the area, which put the forces in clear danger. The attack complied with the principle of proportionality, as despite the outcome of the attack, which was only discovered in retrospect, at the time the decision to attack was taken it was estimated that no collateral damage to civilians was expected to result, and certainly no excessive collateral damage was expected. This estimation was not unreasonable under the circumstances. In addition, the attack was carried out while undertaking several precautionary measures aimed at preventing harm to civilians, including the use of the most precise munitions available to the forces, and the use of visual surveillance. The MAG found that the professional discretion exercised by all the commanders involved in the incident was not unreasonable in the circumstances. The fact that civilians uninvolved in the hostilities were harmed as a result of the attack, which was not expected at the time the decision to attack was made, is a regrettable result, but does not affect the legality of the attack ex post facto.

Accordingly, the MAG ordered that the case be closed without any further legal proceedings – criminal or disciplinary – to be taken against those involved in the incident.
The only part I don't understand is how three shells hit the school when only one was supposed to be fired at the legitimate target. But the MAG investigations, when read all together, shows how careful the IDF is in battle and how it keeps records of virtually every bullet. When the IDF is involved, it says so - and when it is not, it says that as well, as was the case of the nine women who the IDF found were in fact killed by a terrorist bomb (#3 in the link.)


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Thursday, February 13, 2020

  • Thursday, February 13, 2020
  • Elder of Ziyon


The Deputy Grand Mufti of Jerusalem and the representative of the Palestinian House of Ifta, Sheikh Ibrahim Awadallah, made it clear that celebration of Valentine's Day is forbidden in Islam, stating that any relationship outside of marriage is a violation of Islamic law.

Awadallah said in an interview with Ramallah News that the holiday is not in line with the Islamic religion, and that Valentine's Day "is a tradition for the infidels."

Awadallah did say that Islam urges love and affection among people, citing the hadith “Do not enter Paradise until you believe, and do not believe until you gain one’s affection”, but on the condition that love is not linked to an illicit affair, explaining that the only valid holidays in Islam are Eid Al Fitr And Eid al-Adha; adding any others is forbidden.

When asked about an Egyptian fatwa that allowed Valentine's Day celebrations, he said that this only applied to within marriage. However, he didn't say that married Palestinian couples can celebrate Valentine's Day, perhaps because he cannot conceive of a marriage where the couple remains in love.

Saudi Arabia used to forbid Valentine's Day until they got an updated fatwa allowing it in 2018. So far, though, the Palestinian Authority does not have official religious police like the Saudis do (Hamas seems to have informal religious police in Gaza.)



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

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