Sunday, January 25, 2015

From Ian:

Howard Jacobson: Try ‘and’ instead of ‘but’ and you’ll find that America and Israel are not to blame for all the world’s atrocities
And so it has been these past few shameful weeks with the Charlie Hebdo massacre. Little by little, day by day, the “But Brigade” has turned its monosyllabic screw until the cartoonists become complicit in their own demise and their murder appals us a little less. Yes the requisite noises are made – free speech non-negotiable blah blah – but the “butters” are quick to invoke instances where we do negotiate it: anti-Semites removed from their positions, for example, anti-Semites not allowed to speak what’s on their minds. Funny how it’s always the freedom to be an anti-Semite the “But Brigade” protects. And finally, in justification of murder, the issue of provocation is wheeled out, though the concept of “asking for it” would not be entertained for a second if the crime were rape.
Pace the Papa, he who insults my mother might deserve a stern rebuke, but not with rocket launchers and Kalashnikovs. Nor does being rude to someone’s ma equate to criticising his beliefs. I thought we had long ago decided we are all fair game when it comes to the gods we choose to revere, whereas our mothers, like the colour of our skin, we are given. If the Pope has a vested interest in protecting religion from scrutiny, so does the “But Brigade” have a vested interest in drawing attention away from any atrocity that isn’t perpetrated by Americans or Israelis. Except that there isn’t any atrocity which isn’t perpetrated by Americans or Israelis, for who else is ever on the end of the chain of repercussion, extenuation and blame that begins with that malignant “but”?
Douglas Murray: I don’t want to live under Islamic blasphemy law. That doesn’t make me racist
But let us take a strain from this strained idea and pretend that Muslims constitute a tiny put-upon sect in France and Western Europe, and that for this reason anything which transgresses Islamic blasphemy laws must be recognised as the big guys (cartoonists) beating up the little guys (tens of millions of Muslims). If it is the minority component that is the issue then let us transfer this to a country where Islam does not constitute a minority. Saudi Arabia, say. Or Iran. Or Pakistan. What if a free-thinker were to publish a cartoon of Mohammed there? Would that be Myriam’s and Mehdi’s kind of satire? I cannot help thinking that they and all the other ‘context of these cartoons’ complainers would feel no happier about a drawing of Mohammed done in Mecca, Tehran or Islamabad than one drawn in Copenhagen or Paris. In the same way I can see them being little happier about free Western non-Muslims ‘insulting’ Mohammed if they also did this alongside making more jokes about the Holocaust.
Incidentally the Holocaust detour is a particularly fascinating one. Disturbing too, because it is surprising how many Muslims in particular have in recent weeks responded to drawings of Mohammed with the cry ‘But you can’t draw cartoons that upset the Jews or joke about the Holocaust.’ In saying this they not only confuse denial, diminishment or praise of the murder of six million Jews within living memory with a stick drawing of someone subsequently called ‘Mohammed’. They also give something away. Because although I am sure that Mehdi, Myriam et al are far too moderate to wish to start taunting Jews about the Holocaust, I cannot forget all those banners at anti-Israel parades in Britain where, for instance, the banners say ‘Stop the Holocaust in Gaza’ and so on. And I cannot help thinking that here too the selection of the Holocaust or Jews as the comparison is a little more revealing, or insinuating, than the speakers intend it to be. ‘Taunt my prophet and I’ll taunt your dead family’ is an interesting argument. But after the last couple of weeks I have come to the conclusion that there are more people than I had previously thought who wish to really get stuck in on the Jews and the Holocaust once they get the chance.
But like most other arguments against Charlie Hebdo in recent weeks what this boils down to is a scramble for a justification for why Islamic blasphemy law must be observed even in Western Europe.
Fatah statement urges ‘resistance’ to IDF, settlers
In a statement published on Fatah’s official website, the movement’s West Bank branch lambasted Israel’s decision to withhold tax revenue from the PA in the wake of the Palestinian UN bid, dubbing it an act of “theft” that “deprives our people of their daily bread.”
Fatah pledged its support for Abbas’s international attempt to isolate Israel, calling for “an escalation of popular resistance against occupation forces and settlers.”
Abbas has publicly criticized the armed intifada, or uprising, against Israeli civilians, but has endorsed “popular resistance” consisting of large-scale rallies, processions, and the boycotting of settlement products.
The new statement appeared to legitimize physical attacks against IDF soldiers and Israelis living in the West Bank, which have dramatically increased in recent months.
Reporter who broke news of Nisman’s death is on his way to Israel
Damian Pachter of the English-language Buenos Aires Herald left the country Saturday, the local journalism group Foro de Periodismo Argentino said.
Pachter told The Times of Israel on Sunday afternoon that he is on his way to Israel. Haaretz reported earlier that he is “planning to take refuge” in the country.
Pachter, who is Jewish and has Israeli citizenship, told a local internet site that “I left because my life was in danger. My phones were being monitored. I intend to return to Argentina when my sources tell me conditions have changed. I don’t think that will happen in the term of this government.”
The Buenos Aires journalism group said Pachter reported on Friday he was followed by unknown people and felt his safety was at risk but did not elaborate. (h/t

Netanyahu defends US trip: I’ll go wherever I’m invited to defend Israel against Iran
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday defended his decision to speak before a joint Congressional session on March 3 against US President Barack Obama’s push for a negotiated deal with Tehran to halt its nuclear program.
“As Prime Minister of Israel, I am obligated to make every effort in order to prevent Iran from achieving nuclear weapons that would be aimed at the State of Israel,” he told the weekly cabinet meeting on Sunday.
“This effort is worldwide and I will go anywhere I am invited in order to enunciate the State of Israel's position and in order to defend its future and its existence,” Netanyahu said.
He plans to urge Congress to pass legislation to stiffen sanctions against Iran to force it to halt its nuclear program.
Obama has threatened to veto any sanction legislation on Iran, as long as the possibility of a negotiated deal is on the table.
Once Again, Indyk Interferes on Israel
The former U.S. Ambassador to Israel, Martin Indyk, has called on Israel’s leaders “to stay out of America’s politics” – just hours after he urged the United States to interfere in Israel’s politics, something he himself has been doing for years.
The latest events began with John Boehner’s invitation to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to address a joint session of the U.S. Congress. The New York Times quickly sought a comment from Indyk, who is constantly quoted by the news media since the conclusion of his singularly unsuccessful term as the Obama Administration’s chief envoy for Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.
“Netanyahu is using the Republican Congress for a photo-op for his election campaign,” said Indyk, who apparently finds it inconceivable that the prime minister of Israel might want to speak to Congress about using Congressional sanctions to prevent Iran from nuking Israel. “And the Republicans are using Bibi for their campaign against Obama… It would be far wiser for us to stay out of their politics and for them to stay out of ours.”
That line about both sides staying out of the other’s business sounds reasonable and evenhanded. Until you realize that before he spoke to the Times, Indyk let loose his real feelings via Twitter: “Why should Netanyahu be able to speak and Herzog not,” he angrily tweeted, referring to Israeli Labor Party leader Isaac Herzog. “If Boehner is placing Congress into the midst of the Israeli elections, why don’t the Democrats invite Herzog too?”
Rivlin makes first US visit for UN Holocaust memorial
During the five-day trip, Rivlin will be in New York to address a UN Special Assembly on International Holocaust Remembrance Day on Tuesday at the invitation of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, his office said.
Rivlin, who took office as Israel’s 10th president in July, will also hold talks with Ban and meet members of the African-American, Hispanic and Jewish communities.
“Israel is not compensation for the Holocaust, but the Holocaust proved beyond any shadow of a doubt why there was a need for the State of Israel,” Rivlin said in a statement, adding that he was taking with him “those voices of those who perished” in the Nazi genocide.
Krauthammer On How Israel Tension Raises Questions On Iran

Hollywood actor Rob Lowe: Obama prefers fruit loops over Netanyahu
How is it that a woman famous for eating cereal in a bathtub can get an audience with US President Barack Obama, when Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu failed to do so? asked Rob Lowe on Twitter.
Among the Hollywood actor’s famous roles, is that of Deputy White House Communications Director in the television show The West Wing.
On Friday, Lowe entered a real-life diplomatic drama, when he weighed in on one of the most serious crises in the often infamous series of political battles that have raged between Obama and Netanyahu in the last six years.
Lowe mocked Obama for a live streamed meeting he held Thursday with three YouTube stars, GloZell Green, Hank Green and Bethany Mota.
“Hold up. Is it true that a woman who eats cereal out of a bathtub gets to meet with the President and the Prime Minister of Israel does not?”
France the most dangerous country for Jews — report
The report, which was set to be presented to the Knesset Sunday by Diaspora Affairs Minister Naftali Bennett, also recorded a dramatic increase in anti-Semitic attacks during the summer Gaza conflict, and maintained that most attacks were carried out by Muslim extremists.
“France was marked as the most dangerous country for Jews today,” a statement said. The number of anti-Semitic crimes doubled in France in 2014, it maintained.
“Last year nearly 1,000 anti-Semitic incidents were reported including assaults, many categorized as ‘extremely violent’ as well as attacks on synagogues and other Jewish institutes.”
Most attacks were carried out by radical Islamists, rather than neo-Nazi groups, it said.
“The radical right continues to be a central force in anti-Semitic activity, but in most violent incidents that occurred, the perpetrators were from an Arab or Muslim background,” it said.
 Official PA daily: Israel was behind the terror attacks in France
Following the terror attacks against the Charlie Hebdo magazine and a Jewish store in which Muslim terrorists killed 17 people in France earlier this month, columnists writing for the official Palestinian Authority daily
Al-Hayat Al-Jadida have claimed that Israel was behind the attacks.
This view is shared by the vast majority of Palestinians, according to a poll conducted by Ma'an (an independent Palestinian news agency). The poll found that 84.4% support the claim that "the operation (i.e., terror attack) was suspicious, and that Israel may be behind it," while "only 8.7% believed that the murder of the French [citizens] in Paris was a natural result of the spread of Islamic extremism in Europe." [Ma'an, Jan. 19, 2015]
The writers of the official PA daily have argued that Mossad, the Israeli Secret Intelligence Service, planned the attacks because Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu and other Israeli leaders want to encourage Jewish immigration and take "revenge on European governments... because of their... support for... an independent Palestinian state." [Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Jan. 15, 2015]
Thomas Friedman wonders why Obama whitewashes radical Islam
New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, who is normally an enthusiastic supporter of U.S. President Barack Obama, last week voiced his disapproval over the administration's refusal to acknowledge the role of radical Islam in global terrorism.
In an opinion piece titled "Say it like it is," Friedman blasted the Obama administration's decision to hold a "Summit on Countering Violent Extremism" in response to recent terrorist attacks in Paris, saying that "when you don't call things by their real name, you always get in trouble. And this administration, so fearful of being accused of Islamophobia, is refusing to make any link to radical Islam from the recent explosions of violence against civilians."
"We've entered the theater of the absurd," he concluded.
In the article, Friedman wrote that he could not believe remarks made by White House spokesman Josh Earnest, who insisted that the Paris attacks were committed by "individuals who carried out an act of terrorism, and they later tried to justify that act of terrorism by invoking the religion of Islam and their own deviant view of it." He quoted the conservative columnist Rich Lowry as saying that this remark suggested that "the Charlie Hebdo terrorists set out to commit a random act of violent extremism and only subsequently, when they realized that they needed some justification, did they reach for Islam."
If we don’t laugh, the terrorists win
No other religious group in the world reacts this way.
The beliefs of Presbyterians and Baptists, for example, can be ridiculed at any time, without fear of reprisal.
Islamists, on the other hand behead and rape in response.
If we stop criticizing them, they win their terror campaign against free speech by default. How manifestly unjust is that?
It is tragic that in the 21st century people still have to die for exercising their right to free expression.
It cannot ever be considered their fault.
What must change is Islamist sensitivities, not the Western tradition of free speech.
Satire is not the culprit here, the violent overreaction to perceived insults is.
After Charlie Hebdo, some of us may be forgiven for laughing more softly at satire. But laugh we must.
The Koran Does Not Forbid Images of the Prophet
In the wake of the massacre that took place in the Paris offices of Charlie Hebdo, I have been called upon as a scholar specializing in Islamic paintings of the Prophet to explain whether images of Muhammad are banned in Islam.
The short and simple answer is no. The Koran does not prohibit figural imagery. Rather, it castigates the worship of idols, which are understood as concrete embodiments of the polytheistic beliefs that Islam supplanted when it emerged as a purely monotheistic faith in the Arabian Peninsula during the seventh century.
Moreover, the Hadith, or Sayings of the Prophet, present us with an ambiguous picture at best: At turns we read of artists dared to breathe life into their figures and, at others, of pillows ornamented with figural imagery.
If we turn to Islamic law, there does not exist a single legal decree, or fatwa, in the historical corpus that explicitly and decisively prohibits figural imagery, including images of the Prophet. While more recent online fatwas can surely be found, the decree that comes closest to articulating this type of ban was published online in 2001 by the Taliban, as they set out to destroy the Buddhas of Bamiyan.
Spain terror sweep in Ceuta ends in arrest of 4 suspected jihadis
Police in Spain's north African enclave of Ceuta arrested four men on Saturday suspected of belonging to a militant Islamist network that may have been planning an attack in Spain, the interior ministry said.
Spain has stepped up security as well as efforts to prevent the radicalization of young Muslim citizens following attacks in Paris this month in which Islamist gunmen killed 17 people.
"The four men, of Spanish nationality and Moroccan origin, have a very similar profile to those who carried out the attacks in Paris," the interior ministry said in a statement.
Video released by the police showed around a dozen heavily-armed officers shining searchlights into windows before storming two houses in the narrow streets of Ceuta before dawn on Saturday.
Police found a gun, combat uniforms, Spanish car licence plates and machetes when they made the arrests.
Arab MK Warns Israeli Book Stores: Don't Stock Charlie Hebdo
MK Ibrahim Sarsur, head of the Ra'am Ta'al Arab party, warned Israeli shops against selling copies of the French Charlie Hebdo satirical magazine.
“There are red lines that cannot be crossed,” said Sarsur, who stated in an interview on Channel Ten that while he was all for freedom of speech, there was some speech that could not be tolerated.
“History shows that freedom of speech does not allow freedom to injure the sensibilities of others,” Sarsur said. “This applies to all people, regardless of religion, background, or culture. We have no problem selling any magazines here, not even that particular one – but when it contains caricatures that brutally attack the feelings of Muslims, this is a disgusting act that cannot be allowed to continue.”
Israeli book chain Steimatzky dropped plans for an in-store promotion of the now-infamous Charlie Hebdo edition depicting the Mohammed in what Muslims consider an offensive manner.
Liberman orders party to buy up, distribute Charlie Hebdo
Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman said Sunday he had instructed Yisrael Beytenu party activists to buy thousands of copies of the latest issue of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and distribute them to the public, pushing back against feared Muslim anger over the controversial weekly.
The directive by Liberman, the head of Yisrael Beytenu, came as an Israeli bookshop withdrew its plan to sell the magazine, after an Arab MK warned it would stoke Muslim fury.
“Israel cannot become an ISIS state — we will not allow radical Islam to intimidate us, and turn the State of Israel into a state that capitulates to threats and compromises the freedom of expression,” Liberman said in a statement, using an alternate term for Islamic State.
The Steimatzky company announced on Saturday that it had dropped its plans for in-store sale of the magazine, and said it would sell it online instead.
Only Terrorists’ Grievances Are Worth Discussing By Federica Mogherini (satire)
Free speech and freedom of expression are important principles – but do they have limits? That question strikes at the very heart of what it means to be a Western, liberal culture. It would not occupy our consciousness to its present degree if not for the murder of more than a dozen French people. Our grappling with the sensitivities of Muslims expresses the very essence of a healthy discourse around liberal principles – a grappling that would never occur if the sensibilities being offended were, say, Jewish. That simply would not be called for.
Imagine, if you will, if our reaction to allegations of Israeli war crimes against Palestinians were as follows: “Of course we deplore this action, but perhaps we must ask ourselves why Israeli feels compelled to engage in such behavior. What can we do to ameliorate the situation such that Israel no longer feels the need to act in this way? Are there policies that we, as political leaders, have adopted that contribute to Israelis’ being driven to desperation and resorting to such extreme measures?”
As you can see, such a response is ludicrous. Only Muslims deserve to have their grievances become part of the conversation about political or religious violence. It would be a betrayal of that principle to pose the question of whether Jews have any right to purchase homes and live in any region of their ancestral homeland. We would violate the ethos of liberalism itself if we were to entertain the notion that Jews have the right to defend themselves against Muslims, or at all. The European crucible of liberalism is also the European crucible of trying to make the Jews go away.
Ya’alon: Lebanon, Syria will be held responsible for revenge attacks
Ya’alon said that Hezbollah and its patron, Iran, were working together to open a front against Israel in the Golan Heights. “They started with rockets and a few mines, and we understood that they wanted to upgrade this to much more meaningful quality attacks, including infiltrating communities in the Golan Heights, anti-tank attacks, sniper fire, etc.”
The defense minister urged Israelis in the north to continue to go about their business, but said that there were warnings sent to Israeli interests around the globe.
“I say to residents of the north and also the visitors who poured into the north over the weekend to continue in their routine until we say otherwise,” emphasized Ya’alon. “The army’s job is to prepare for every development.
“The deployment is not only along the border. But we are deploying to stay ahead of every possibility, whether it’s internal terror or abroad. The warning has been passed along, and our representatives abroad are prepared, ready and secure.”
Shiite Lebanese Politician Ahmed Al-Asaad: Hizbullah Members Not Martyrs, Did Not Go to Quneitra for a Picnic

Bus driver in Tel Aviv stabbing attack recalls struggle with terrorist
Herzl Biton, the driver who fought a Palestinian terrorist during a stabbing attack on a Tel Aviv bus on Wednesday in which 17 people were injured, recalled on Saturday the fierce struggle between the two as the attack was underway.
“I had no choice. I had to save the passengers. He stabbed me while I was driving and then went to the center of the bus and began stabbing passengers,” Biton said in a conversation, aired on Channel 10, with the CEO of the Dan bus company where he works. Biton said he began swerving the bus from side-to-side in order to alert others outside of the ongoing 7:30 a.m. attack; his maneuvering, however, did not prevent the assailant from moving throughout the bus and hurting passengers, he said.
“I had no choice but to bring him back over to me. I slammed on the brakes and he flew towards me like a bird. I then jumped out of the chair, grabbed his left hand and started to spray him with pepper spray,” continued Biton.
Terrorist Who Threw Firebomb at 11-Year-Old Girl Indicted
Charges were filed in the Samaria Military Court Sunday against the terrorists who carried out the terrorist attack last month near Ma'ale Shomron, wherein a firebombing severely burned 11 year-old Ayala Shapira.
The charges attributed to the terrorists - a 16 year-old and a man named as Muhammad Budan - include terrorism and attempted murder.
According to the indictment, in early November the two made Molotov cocktails and then prepared to lob them at Jewish drivers on the road between Ma'ale Shomron and El Matan. The terrorists positioned themselves on the far hill a few meters from the road and waited for the right moment.
When Ruth Shapira's vehicle - which they identified as an Israeli car - passed the area, Budan lit the Molotov cocktail and chucked it at the moving car. The teenage terrorist then threw rocks.
As a result, the Molotov cocktail hit the hood of the vehicle, continued its flight toward the road and exploded, while the stones thrown by the minor smashed the windshields.
Netanyahu mulling Jerusalem Post's Caroline Glick for slot on Likud list
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is considering offering Jerusalem Post Senior Contributing Editor Caroline Glick a slot reserved for a candidate of his choosing on the Likud candidates list, party officials said on Saturday night.
“I have not been offered anything in a formal manner, but I am flattered to hear I’m under serious consideration,” she told the Post.
Glick is a former adviser to Netanyahu and has maintained a positive relationship with him, even though she has criticized him at times, including after a deal in which more than 1,000 terrorists were exchanged for kidnapped soldier Gilad Schalit, which she called “immoral, irresponsible and stupid.”
In a statement on her Facebook page Saturday night, Glick wrote that she understood the Schalit deal was hard for Netanyahu and that, despite her criticism of him, she had no doubt he was the right man to lead the country.
It would be a disaster, she wrote, if someone else is prime minister amid pressure from the West and the threats Israel is facing from Iran, its allies in Syria and Lebanon, and the international Jihad.
Miss Lebanon will keep her title despite appearing in image with "enemy" Miss Israel.
Miss Lebanon Saly Greige will not lose her title or face punishment for appearing in a selfie with Miss Israel Doron Matalon, according to a report by Lebanese The Daily Star on Friday.
Greige came under fire in Lebanon after Israel's contestant at the competition in Miami posted a photo to her Instagram account, of herself, Miss Lebanon, Miss Japan and Miss Slovenia posing together.
The photo circulated on Lebanese social media, bringing a harsh backlash against Greige for posing with Israel's Matalon, the representative of an enemy state. Some called for her to lose her title over the photo.
On Friday, according the report, Lebanon's Tourism Minister Michel Pharon said, “According to the information we obtained, Miss Lebanon [Saly Greige] did not have bad intentions that necessitates her being stripped of her title or punishment.” (h/t Yenta Press)
Bassam Eid: Palestinian boycott of Israel is misguided
I don’t know who’s actually pushing the Palestinians toward this idea of an economic boycott of Israel; to the best of my knowledge, Palestinians aren’t pushing it on their own, and neither is the Palestinian Authority, which is simply trying to exploit its momentum.
The BDS (Boycott, Sanctions, Divestment) movement is one of the groups at the forefront of the boycott efforts, and to be sure, there are Palestinian parties involved with BDS, such as Mustafa Barghouti.
However, while Barghouti can no doubt make good headway advancing the BDS cause in Norway, for example, he would not dare to enter refugee camps and suggest to the people living there that they launch a boycott against Israel – because then he would have to offer a viable alternative.
Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas in one of his televised interviews said that the Palestinians had never called for an economic boycott of Israel, but did call for a boycott of the settlements.
But even such a partial boycott could never succeed; how can one impose a boycott on settlement products when one’s fellow citizens and nationals are the ones building those very same settlements? Does Abbas have alternative employment opportunities to offer these people? Palestinian workers today are basically building homes in the settlements. They are proud of the fact they are continuing to build for Jews, and no one is about to find them an alternative to the type of work in which they are now engaged.
A message from American Jewry: BDS is a real threat, not paranoia
The issue was also addressed in a host of less formal meetings with groups of intellectuals and public figures and in the media, including “Roim Olam,” a weekly review of news on Israeli TV and in newspaper articles. The key presenter on these occasions was Cary Nelson, a professor of English from the University of Illinois and immediate past president of American Association of University Professors, with 50,000 members. Nelson was sent by the American Jewish community to alert and inform Israelis of the seriousness of the challenge from BDS. His calling card was a book of essays sponsored by an agency of American Jewish federations: The Case Against Academic Boycotts of Israel, of which he is co-editor.
Nelson argues that BDS must be seen as a growing long-term threat to Israel as a whole and to Israeli academia in particular. There is unfortunately abundant evidence that this is indeed the case, especially in the humanities faculties as opposed to engineering, the sciences or professional schools like medicine.
As Nelson pointed out in his speaking tour, over the past decade BDS has made serious inroads into Europe and is now actively rearing its ugly head in the US. He is in a position to know.
Nelson explained, offering chapter and verse, that because the attack is concentrated in the humanities, if this movement continues unchecked within a few years a whole generation of congressional aides will have been educated with the view that BDS is entirely legitimate and within a decade elected officials and senior bureaucrats will accept this position without question. The same instructional bias would inevitably affect the future leaders of the American Jewish community who, like public officials, typically begin their education with a BA in liberal arts. The threat to Israeli national security, as was made clear at the INSS, is that national strength depends on international legitimacy, and is not limited to the size and quality of the weaponry of Israel’s armed forces.
It appears that Nelson’s message has been heard.
Ex-Obama aide says president not tough enough on Iran
Dennis Ross, a former Middle East aide to Barack Obama, urged the US president to impose punitive measures on Tehran for fueling instability in the Middle East and to break the impasse in nuclear negotiations.
Ross, known for facilitating peace talks between Jordan and Israel during the 1990’s, Eric Edeleman, a former ambassador who served as the US Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, and Ray Taykeh, a former Obama administration official and a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, a prominent political think tank, published on Friday an op-ed in Politico, an eminent US political publication, asserting that the US president has conceded far too much to Iran, as evidenced by its involvement in political turmoil throughout the region.
“The nuclear negotiations between the United States and Iran appear stalemated. Meanwhile Iran is on the march in the Middle East with its forces supporting the coup in Yemen, buttressing the Assad war-machine in Syria, mediating between factions in Iraq, and plotting with Hezbollah operatives on the periphery of Israel,” the authors stated. “Today, the American alliance system stands bruised and battered while our friends in the region perceive Iran and its resistance-front galloping across the region.”
“These two simultaneous developments—the deadlock in nuclear talks and Iran’s aggressive moves in the region—are not coincidental. They are intimately linked, and that should be a lesson for President Obama: The nuclear deadlock cannot be broken unless Washington reengages in the myriad of conflicts and civil wars plaguing the region…The guardians of the theocracy will only contemplate serious nuclear concessions once they see that all the walls around them are closing,” added the trio.
Iran’s FM says more US sanctions ‘will kill’ nuclear deal
Iran’s foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said Friday that a vote in U.S. Congress for more sanctions against his country will kill a likely nuclear deal with the West.
Speaking in an Associated Press debate at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Zarif warned that Iran’s parliament will retaliate if U.S. lawmakers approve fresh sanctions.
“A sanctions bill by the U.S. Congress will kill the joint plan of action that we adopted last year in Geneva,” he said. “Now the president of the United States has the power to veto it, but our parliament will have its counteraction.”
The Iranian parliament will “retaliate,” he added, by passing a bill to increase enrichment of uranium.
Iran Parliament Drafting Law to Allow Intensification of Uranium Enrichment
Iran’s parliament has started to draft a law that would allow the country’s nuclear scientists to intensify their uranium enrichment, a step that could complicate ongoing talks with world powers.
The move, announced Saturday by parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Committee, comes after U.S. lawmakers said they were planning legislation that could place new sanctions on Iran.
NGO slams Bundestag deputies for meeting Iranian Holocaust denier, hostage taker
An NGO in the German capital sharply criticized a delegation of lawmakers for their current trip to Iran, which includes meetings with a Holocaust denier and an official involved in the kidnapping of American diplomatic personnel in 1979.
“In the face of the current wave of executions in Iran, speaking about ‘efforts to open up Iranian society’ is brazen. It is a scandal that two weeks after Islamist attacks in Paris, a high-ranking delegation of German parliamentarians is having meetings with terrorists and Holocaust deniers in Iran,” Stop the Bomb spokeswoman Ulrike Becker said on Tuesday.
Stop the Bomb is a European- wide organization that seeks to stop Iran’s drive to become a nuclear-armed power, and promotes human rights in the Islamic Republic.
Bundestag Vice President Claudia Roth (Green Party), Dagmar Wöhrl (Christian Social Union party) and Stefan Rebmann (Social Democrats) left for Tehran on Wednesday. The five-day trip includes meetings with Ali Larijani, the president of the Majlis parliament, who denied the Holocaust at the 2009 Munich Security Conference.
He defended the then-president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s regime, saying it had “different perspectives on the Holocaust.”
The German deputies are slated to meet Masoumeh Ebtekar, the vice president of the Islamic Republic, who was a spokeswoman for the radicals who stormed the US Embassy and took hostages in 1979. She threatened to shoot American hostages during the Islamic Revolution.
Edgar Davidson: Iran and sanctions: the dummies guide
As Obama says: "Our position on Iran's nuclear weapons programme has been steadfast and consistent - unlike that chickensh*t country Israel ..."
Swiss Jews to set up info stands outside Dieudonne venues
Swiss Jews said they would set up stands with information about the dangers of anti-Semitism outside venues hosting the French comedian Dieudonne M’bala M’bala.
“Freedom of expression is an essential principle but one which cannot be evoked to justify any ‘right to discriminate,’” said the announcement Thursday by CICAD, a Jewish group that monitors anti-Semitism in Switzerland’s French-speaking areas.
Dieudonne, who has multiple convictions for inciting hatred against Jews in France, is scheduled to perform on Monday in Lausanne and on the following day in Val-de-Ruz.
CICAD will set up two stands opposite the venues, it said.
World’s largest ship named after SS officer
Jewish groups in the Netherlands and Britain have voiced indignation over the docking in Rotterdam of the world’s largest ship, the Pieter Schelte, which is named after a Dutchman who served in the Nazi Waffen SS, the Guardian reported Saturday.
“Naming such a ship after an SS officer who was convicted of war crimes is an insult to the millions who suffered and died at the hands of the Nazis,” Jonathan Arkush, the vice-president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, was quoted as saying. “We urge the ship’s owners to reconsider and rename the ship after someone more appropriate.”
Pieter Schelte Hereema was in the SS during the German occupation of the Netherlands in World War II, but later joined the Resistance.
Attacks on Jews double in London area
The police headquarters for metropolitan London reported 299 hate crimes against Jewish people between the start of April and the end of December of 2014.
This represented a rise of 128 percent over the corresponding period in 2013, when there were 131 hate crimes, The Jewish Chronicle of London reported Wednesday.
Britain’s 300,000 Jews account for 0.4 percent of the total population. Anti-Semitic attacks recorded in Britain during the 2014 period accounted for 3.28 percent of a total of 9,103 hate crimes reported. That figure represented a 22 percent increase over the overall number of hate crimes recorded in the corresponding period of 2013.
About two thirds of British Jewry live in or around London.
Boutique revolution puts Israeli wines on world map
In the rolling pine-covered hills west of Jerusalem, winemaker Eran Pick checks on the vines he cultivates, plying an ancient trade which has been common to the area since biblical times.
“For 3,000 years wine has been produced in these hills,” says Pick, 40, who is trained in a mix of New and Old World winemaking and worked in California and Bordeaux before joining Tzora Vineyards.
Established in 1993, Tzora was one of Israel’s first boutique wineries — defined as those which produce fewer than 100,000 bottles per year.
“We have renewed this tradition in order to make a typically Israeli wine which will be at the level of the world’s best wines,” he says.
The vineyard produces 80,000 bottles annually, of which 15,000 are sold abroad.
Five years post-quake, Israel is still helping Haiti heal
Within 24 hours of the severe earthquake that rocked Haiti on January 12, 2010, Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs sent a 220-person team of rescuers, disaster-management experts and medical personnel. Myriad Israeli governmental and non-governmental organizations joined in the difficult work of treating physical and psychological wounds and getting the island country back on its feet.
Five years later, Israeli humanitarians are still on the ground helping Haitians rebuild their lives and communities.
“Today, on the fifth anniversary of the earthquake, we remember the victims and renew our commitment and dedication to helping the survivors,” IsraAID Director Shachar Zahavi said earlier this month.
IsraAID: The Israel Forum for International Humanitarian Aid is always one of the first relief groups to respond to disasters across the globe. Its policy is to stay on the ground after the emergency to create and implement an infrastructure of programs to rehabilitate the affected community, leaving only once those programs are functioning in the hands of local residents trained by IsraAID.
What do Americans think of Bamba, Bissli and Crembo?
Following their previous hits, "The Jewish Food Taste Test," and "Hannukah Explained by Christians," the BuzzFeed staff struck once again, poking fun at Israeli foods this time, with their latest video sensation: "Americans Try Israeli Snacks."
The three minute segment features American twenty-somethings taste-testing and reviewing typical Israeli snacks such as Milky pudding, Bamba, Bissli, Crembo, and Pesek Zman.
Most of the reviewed foods got positive marks, with a comical twist--in typical BuzzFeed fashion.
Americans Try Israeli Snacks

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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 18 years and 38,000 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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