Thursday, March 17, 2016

From Ian:

Six hours in Gaza: a first-person account by Jackson School Professor Joel Migdal
I was flooded with impressions as we drove into the old city of Gaza. The first was, unexpectedly, that it looked nothing like India. Given the severe poverty, even humanitarian crisis, that Gaza as a whole is experiencing, I had expected the obvious and wrenching poverty that I had seen in some Indian cities or many other Third World countries, for that matter—collapsing infrastructure, rickety shacks, a surfeit of beggars, children in rags, adults sleeping on the sidewalks. At least in this part of the city and others that I saw later in the day, none of that was visible. Instead, I saw hordes of children going to school, university students walking in and out of the gates of the two universities—both the children and the university students reasonably dressed. I observed morning shoppers buying vegetables and fruits from stands, shopkeepers opening their shops, and people walking purposefully to wherever they were going for the start of the day. There were cranes and construction workers everywhere, with lots of uncompleted buildings being worked on. A garbage truck, with a UN sign on it, was making its rounds.
I saw almost no signs of authority on the streets. No police. No guns. No moral police. One person commented to me that in 2009 Hamas was omnipresent, with lots of moral policing on the streets. Since then, such surveillance has fallen off, but people have learned to be self-policing in their behavior in public, he said, just to be safe and not harassed.
There was the occasional bombed out building, from the 2014 War. One had the entire top of the building, several stories, simply blown off. But other than those, most buildings were in decent shape, and some apartment buildings were downright nice. There were definitely some junkers on the road, but most of the cars looked like late-model varieties. Some of the side streets were pocked and broken up; the main thoroughfares, though, were in good shape. There were almost no traffic lights, and traffic was a bit chaotic. I must add again that I was in Gaza City (both the old and new parts of the city) only and did not go to some of the outer areas and refugee camps where the bombing in the 2014 war was the heaviest and where, I understand, destruction was massive.
At the UN, ISIS and Israel are equal
The UN envoy for Children and Armed Conflict, Leila Zerrougui, suggested including the Israeli army in the black list of countries and organizations that regularly cause harm to children along with Al Qaeda, Boko Haram, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, the Taliban, and countries such as the Congo and the Central African Republic, infamous for their armies of children.
The culture of human rights, created by Jewish jurists after the Holocaust, is now being used by anti-Semites to foment a war against the State of Israel. Mr. Alfred de Zayas, the United Nations’ Independent Expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order, blamed last year’s Paris attacks on the U.S., Western colonialism, capitalism, and “Israeli settlers”, implicitly justifying them as “a response to grave injustices and ongoing abuses perpetrated by the dominant, primarily developed countries, against populations of less developed countries”.
Instead of equating Hamas with ISIS and ISIS with Iran, the UN officials ponder whether to include the IDF on the same lepers’ list as Islamic State. Whether they succeed or not doesn’t matter: they very presence pollutes the political atmosphere and destroys the reputation of the Jewish State.
Israel’s biggest enemy today is not Jihadism, but the UN which entrusted the defense of human rights to China, Cuba, Russia and Saudi Arabia, among other liberal bastions, and to paranoid “experts” whose anti-Semitism resembles that of Doktor Joseph Goebbels.
UN "Human Rights" Council, From bad to worse, Sarah Willig, Touro Institute, March 15, 2016

PA’s collapse now seems a matter of when, not if
Highly placed Israeli politicians have been saying for months that the Palestinian Authority’s threat to stop security coordination was an empty one. The statement was made, time and again, including by senior ministers, that such a move would be “a suicidal act” for the PA and its president, Mahmoud Abbas.
But the proposal that Israel’s defense establishment recently made to the PA — that security responsibility for Ramallah and Jericho return exclusively to the PA, and that the Israeli army stop making arrests in those areas — shows just how seriously it is taking the threat.
The Israeli proposal was no mere whim. Representatives of all the relevant agencies — the army, the coordinator of government activities in the territories, and the Shin Bet security service — were at the meeting with PA officials at which the idea was presented.
The proposal itself, which was first reported by Haaretz, was also approved by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon — even though their own previous statements had indicated, any number of times, that they did not believe continued security coordination was in danger.

Evelyn Gordon: Are Palestinian Stabbings Ending?
Third, without exception, every perpetrator has been either captured or killed. In fact, the number of Palestinians killed while attempting to murder Israelis is roughly five times the number of Israeli fatalities. That’s precisely why, in contrast to the first and second intifadas, this one has attracted little involvement by the broader Palestinian public: There’s a limit to the number of people willing to face certain death or capture in exchange for a relatively small chance of killing the enemy. Indeed, this was the key insight behind Israel’s successful strategy in the second intifada: Even though there are millions of potential terrorist recruits, the supply of actual recruits will dry up if the likelihood of death or imprisonment becomes great enough to make terror an unattractive proposition.
Thus, the bottom line is that Palestinians are paying a very high price — both economic and human — to inflict minimal harm on Israelis. And that, as I’ve explained before, is precisely the situation that led to the waning of the second intifada: As the cost to Palestinian society rose while the cost the terrorists were inflicting on Israeli society fell, the terrorists, once lionized, turned into pariahs. Taxi drivers wouldn’t pick them up, customers fled when they entered a coffeehouse, and fathers wouldn’t let them marry their daughters. At that point, many terrorists decided it was time to abandon terror.
Perhaps this latest intifada is something totally new, and won’t follow the same pattern as earlier ones. But since human nature is fairly constant, I doubt it. This time, too, the terror will likely end when enough Palestinians decide the costs outweigh the benefits. And recent developments are a hopeful sign that we may be approaching that point.
Five years since the Fogel family massacre
On March 11, 2011, terrorists entered the community of Itamar and murdered five members of the Fogel family in their sleep. Ruth Fogel's parents have written a letter in memory of the loss:
"Five years ago, the ground shook and the skies opened: The Creator ordered and welcomed the pure souls of five members of the same family -- father and mother, two sons and a three-month-old baby.
"Since that year's Parshat Vayikra, we have carried the weight of the Fogel family's memories on our poor shoulders. For five years we have known: There is a time to weep and, thanks to the children who remain, also a time to laugh.
"Sadly, many names have been added to the memorial plaque, all of them with beautiful faces and kind eyes - and an evil hand holding a knife continued to cut down happy souls.
"We have been privileged to feel kind embraces and encouraging words during the painful times. Buildings of stone and homes full of life have been named after our dear children. Babies have been called Ehud and Ruth, Yoav, Elad and Hadas...
Terror survivor to address UN Human Rights Council
More five years ago, Kay Wilson was the victim of a brutal terror attack committed by three Palestinian Authority residents.
The December 2010 attack, which occurred in the Mata Forest near Beit Shemesh, left Wilson wounded. Her friend, Kristine Luken, was murdered in the attack. Wilson only managed to survive the brutal assault by playing dead, fooling her attackers who had already stabbed Wilson 13 times.
Now the British-born victim-turned-activist is heading to the United Nations to recount her harrowing story of survival.
With the help of UN Watch, a Geneva-based human rights group, Wilson has been scheduled to address the United Nations Human Rights Council to share her experience and provide the often neglected perspective of victims of terrorism.
Soldier stabbed in terror attack near Ariel, two terrorists shot dead
A soldier was stabbed on Thursday morning just as she walked off a bus that had stopped by the Ariel junction in the Samaria region of the West Bank.
Two young Palestinian assailants had run toward her from the direction of the nearby gas station with knives in their hands, according to a spokeswoman for the Samaria Regional Council.
Soldiers guarding the bus stop by the city shot and killed the two Palestinian assailants.
A photograph in which one of the male assailants is lying on the sidewalk with a knife in his hand is already being circulated on Facebook.
The assailants were Ali al-Kar Thawabta, 20, and Ali Taqatke, 19, from Beit Fajjar village near Bethlehem in the Gush Etzion region of the West Bank.
West Bank car-rammer was former Hamas member
Hamas’s military wing on Wednesday said a Palestinian assailant, recently killed during a car-ramming attack on Israeli soldiers near Hebron, was a former member of a West Bank terror cell.
Qassem Fared Jaber, 31, along with Amir Fouad al-Janadi, 22, both from Hebron, plowed their car into a hitchhiking post on Monday near the settlement of Kiryat Arba, emerged from the vehicle, and opened fire. One soldier was lightly hurt by gunfire.
Troops at the scene shot the attackers and killed them, the IDF confirmed in a statement.
Jaber, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam statement said, once belonged to a West Bank sleeper cell during the Second Intifada.
AFP Headline, Hamas-Style
AFP reports:
Hamas’s military wing said Wednesday one of its members was involved in an attack in the occupied West Bank, in what was thought to be the first such acknowledgement since a wave of violence began in October.
This is AFP’s headline:
Palestinian shot dead in West Bank was Hamas fighter: party
Why, having determined in the story that the statement came from Hamas’s military wing, does AFP attribute it in the headline to a party? AFP has distinguished Hamas’s military wing from its political wing in the story text, yet its headline implies otherwise.
Having presented a terror organization as a political group, AFP further downplays terror by referring to a terrorist as a “fighter.” We are unfortunately all too accustomed to seeing the term “militant” used to describe terrorists but “fighters” is possibly even worse, erasing any indication of the extremism of the subject and possibly even alluding to some sense of nobility involved in violent acts.
 'What deters terrorists most is the thought of what will happen to their families'
Dayan, who is currently the chairman of the Mifal Hapayis national lottery, bases his view on a study on suicide bombers carried out by the National Security Council at the height of the second intifada, in the early 2000s. The aim of the study was to check if these terrorists shared similar characteristics, what their motivation was to carry out suicide attacks, and especially what might deter them from launching their fatal act.
"The interesting thing is that what deterred them most was the thought of what would happen to their families," Dayan explains.
"Expulsion, as far as they're concerned, is considered worse than home demolition, because it uproots them from their ancestral home. Even if you are expelled from Hebron to Gaza, you are still a refugee. These are not your brothers, and nobody loves foreigners, certainly not dangerous ones. That's why Hamas made sure that those terrorists did not see their families in the weeks prior to the attacks. If the family would have known, in most cases, they would not have been carried out."
The study was compiled by Prof. Ariel Merari, who managed research of Palestinian terror at the National Security Council for seven years. "He needed an original idea of how to interview suicide bombers," Dayan recalls. "It turned out that it was possible to do so. We gathered all of the terrorists who advanced with suicide attacks until the last stage. They actually pressed the button or turned the key, and for whatever reason, it didn't work. We didn't take those who had a change of heart 200 meters until the end. There were about 20 terrorists. We interviewed them in Arabic, their mother tongue."
Israel only demolished 10 out of 230 terror homes
IDF figures cited by Yedioth Aharonoth on Tuesday reveal that only five terrorist homes have been completely destroyed since early last October, while in another five cases only the floor the terrorist lived on was demolished, and likewise the house of just one terrorist has been sealed off.
Of the homes that were completely destroyed, two of them were of terrorists who murdered Jews in the middle of last year well before the current terror wave, and a third belongs to the terrorist who murdered Dalia Lemkos at Alon Shevut Junction in November 2014.
In each case of partial demolition in which only the floor the terrorist lived on was damaged, at least two months passed each time, allowing the Palestinian Authority enough time to find a fully furnished replacement home for the family of the murderer.
The army has mapped out 124 homes of terrorists, and six demolition orders have been handed out along with seven initial warning orders - all of which are early planning and bureaucratic steps that could only possibly lead to demolition after a significant amount of time has passed.
One of the demolition orders is waiting for approval by the High Court, and another was previously canceled by the High Court. Meanwhile the initial warning orders are waiting for the Justice Ministry to take action on them.
Israel scotches permits for Gazans to visit Temple Mount
Israel has revoked permission for Palestinians from the Gaza Strip to travel to Jerusalem for Friday prayers on the Temple Mount, claiming exploitation of the system and misuse of permits granted by Israeli authorities.
As part of a ceasefire agreement that ended the 2014 Gaza war, some 200 Gazans above the age of 60 have received weekly permission to enter Israel in order to worship at the al-Aqsa Mosque.
Sources at the Palestinian liaison office said Israel canceled the agreement because Palestinian worshipers were, against the rules, not returning to the Gaza Strip on the same day of the visit, according to the Palestinian Maan News agency.
The Coordinator of the Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), a branch of Israel’s Defense Ministry, said the decision was due to “inappropriate misusing the permit and exploiting inappropriately the Israeli civil policy.”
Shin Bet: Several Palestinian terrorists had applied for Israeli residency
Several Palestinians who carried out terror attacks had recently received — or were in the process of applying for — residency status in Israel, the Shin Bet security service said on Wednesday.
Under Israeli law, West Bank Palestinians who have family members in Israel can apply for residency status, in a process known as family reunification.
“The family reunification process, which is based in humanitarian concerns, allows Palestinians with relatives who are residents of Israel to enter [the country] without incident,” the Shin Bet said.
“But recently it has stood out that a number of terror attacks have been carried out by those who have received this status,” the service said in a statement.

Huffington Post Rewrites History
The World Post, an affiliate of The Huffington Post, hosted an article penned by a member of the American Anthropological Association, the academic organization most recently in the news for having passed a BDS resolution. One of the resolution’s reasons for supporting BDS was that “the Israeli state has denied Palestinians — including scholars and students — their fundamental rights of freedom, equality, and self-determination through ethnic cleansing, colonization, discrimination, and military occupation.”
CAMERA has reported on the real anti-Israel, anti-peace nature of the BDS movement, as well drawing attention to the possibility that these resolutions may be illegal, as they violate the organizations' charters which amount to contracts with their members.
Under the headline, “Israeli-Palestinian Violence is Not Inevitable,” Assistant Professor of Anthropology Emily McKee of Northern Illinois University decries media accounts of “tit-for-tat violence”. Ironically, she places blame for the current wave of terror in which dozens of Israelis have been stabbed in the streets, rammed with cars and shot at by Palestinian Arabs on Israelis.
Ron Dermer: The Visit That Wasn’t: The Israeli Ambassador’s View
To the Editor:
Re “Mr. Netanyahu’s Lost Opportunities” (editorial, March 14):
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu didn’t “cancel” his meeting with President Obama, as your editorial and a news article suggested, because no meeting was set. Israel had checked into the possibility of meeting with the president as part of a potential visit to Washington to address the American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s policy conference.
In addition, your editorial asserts that Mr. Netanyahu never showed any “serious willingness” to advance Middle East peace, “as is made clear by his expansion of Israeli settlements.” Mr. Netanyahu’s repeated requests for negotiations without preconditions have been consistently spurned by the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas.
Mr. Netanyahu is the only prime minister of the six since the Oslo Accords in the 1990s to freeze construction in the settlements — a decision that then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton rightly called “unprecedented.”
Unfortunately, your editorial also supports a reckless Security Council resolution that would set out the terms of peace between Israelis and Palestinians. Such a resolution would reward Palestinian terrorism, harden Palestinian negotiating positions for decades to come and provide a tailwind to efforts to delegitimize Israel — outcomes, I would hope, that The New York Times opposes.
The world Obama made
The results of President Obama’s policies seem to confirm this.
Borders have been mutilated and erased through aggression. Civilians are being mass-slaughtered. The character of Europe may be changed forever. A terrorist organization has become an Islamic state and has perpetrated attacks throughout the world. Even as it has dismantled parts of its nuclear program, Iran's actions in Syria, support for Hezbollah, and its recent ballistic missile tests demonstrate that Iran continues its march of evil.
Today, the world is much different, and more dangerous, than it was when President Obama took office.
It is a world awash with fires of the type that in the past led to global infernos that engulfed even the United States, despite its reluctance and distance, sometimes at the cost of hundreds of thousands of American lives.
Putting out those fires long before they threaten to metastasize and generally maintaining the American-led world order is indeed “at the core of US interests.”
John Kerry to the World: Let’s Gang up on Israel
The administration’s attempts to pressure Israel into creating a Palestinian state obviously have not been successful so far. So Kerry is looking for new ways to harangue the Israelis. Standing next to a group of European foreign ministers at the Paris press conference, Kerry said: “There’s not any one country or one person who can resolve this. This is going to require the global community, it will require international support.”
Significantly, Kerry’s quest for an international alliance to pressure Israel comes on the heels of France’s recent announcement that it will try to convene an international conference to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The French said that if the conference failed to produce a Palestinian state, they will go ahead and unilaterally recognize such a state. That’s the French idea of “negotiations.”
The French approach, which Secretary Kerry now seems to be moving towards, is reminiscent of similar proposals that were made back in 1985. Alarmed, then-Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin flew to Washington to try to head off the convening what was being called an “international umbrella” for Mideast negotiations.
“Whenever anyone mentions umbrella, it reminds me of Chamberlain and Munich,” Rabin declared. For Rabin to invoke the memory of Chamberlain selling out to Hitler at Munich — and for Rabin to use those words at a press conference in Washington — vividly illustrates how dangerous he considered the ‘international’ proposal to be.
"Muslim Jerusalem": Turkey's Message of "Peace" to Israel
Turkey's attempts at "normalizing relations with Israel" apparently do not actually aim to normalize the relations.
"We do not forget Gaza and Palestine even in our dreams, let alone in negotiations. ... Whatever is wrong for Palestine is also wrong for us. We discussed these issues in detail during our meetings with my dear friend, Khaled Mashaal [leader of Hamas]. This is the main objective behind the talks of normalizing ties with Israel." – Ahmet Davutoglu, Prime Minister of Turkey.
Do Turkish government representatives also tell their Israeli colleagues that Khaled Mashaal is their "dear friend"? Do they also divulge that the only aim of the negotiations is to get compensation for the Mavi Marmara incident and to remove the "blockade" on Gaza, possibly again so that weapons to be used against Israel can come in?
Germany, France Join US in Accusing Israel of ‘Appropriating’ Land in Jordan Valley
Germany and France on Wednesday echoed the US State Department’s accusation that Israel has appropriated large tracts of land near the Dead Sea and Jericho.
In January it was reported that the mostly desert terrain lands in the Jordan Valley were being reclassified by Israeli government officials. On Tuesday, a spokesman for the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) said the 578 acres of land “have been declared as state lands,” the Jerusalem Post reported.
“This decision sends a wrong signal at the wrong time,” the German Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
PA again threatens to take Israel to the Hague
The Palestinian Foreign Ministry has denounced Israel's "extreme" decision to nationalize 2,343 dunams (2.343 square kilometers) of land in the Jordan Valley, saying that it is part of an effort to "spread out" in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria.
The statement claimed that the decision indicates Israel's disregard for the international community's condemnations and its efforts to prevent any possibility of creating a geographically-viable Palestinian state.
"The Israeli attempt to empty the Jordan Valley of Palestinians will not succeed. The State of Palestine will not sit idly by and keep quiet in light of Israel's dangerous and repeated decisions, but will immediately act to bring this issue and other similar ones before the International Criminal Court," it noted.
The Foreign Ministry further demanded that the international community place sanctions on Israel.
'State of Palestine' becomes member of Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague
The Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague announced on Tuesday that the “State of Palestine” has joined it, becoming its 118th member state.
It is unclear how significant an achievement joining the PCA is, with the Palestinians likely to brandish it as supporting their joining the International Criminal Court and Israel likely to underplay it. The PCA is much less prominent than the ICC.
At press time, the Palestinian Authority had not responded to inquiries and the [Israel] Foreign Ministry said, “This is a legal body which is not among the more important ones. What a waste that the Palestinians continue to invest efforts to be accepted into these kinds of bodies instead of returning to the negotiating table.”
Israel opposes any recognition of “Palestine” as a state outside of bilateral negotiations.
Israel walks back dropping Dani Dayan for Brazil envoy post
Ex-settler leader Dani Dayan remains Israel’s candidate for the ambassadorship in Brazil, the Foreign Ministry declared Thursday, hours after diplomatic officials said his controversial candidacy had been withdrawn.
““Dani Dayan continues to be our designated ambassador,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Emmanuel Nahshon said in a message to reporters Thursday afternoon.
Hours earlier, the Foreign Ministry’s human resource department had published a tender for the ambassadorships in Brasilia, Asmara (in Eritrea) and Budapest.
“This morning the human resource department of the Foreign Ministry published a tender for the post of ambassador in Brasilia. That means Dani Dayan is no longer our candidate for the post,” a senior diplomatic official had told The Times of Israel.
Nahshon initially confirmed in a WhatsApp message to reporters that a “new tender for the position of ambassador to Brazil” had been published.
Hamas’ Financial Crisis Affects its Military Wing for the First Time
The financial crisis faced by Hamas is now affecting its military arm the Al-Qassam Brigades for the first time. The brigades have not been affected until now and informed sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that it has been nearly two months since the salaries of the brigades’ soldiers have been reduced and are being paid later than usual.
Soldiers of the brigade used to receive their salaries at the beginning of each calendar month without any delays or cuts during the past few years despite the fact that the organisation has failed to pay its employees in government and has imposed cutbacks on large affiliate institutions. The sources said that “the Al-Qassam Brigades are a red line for Hamas and have always been unaffected by any financial or political crises. However, the organisation was forced to impose cuts on the salaries of the brigade’s soldiers two months ago after the financial crisis deepened”.
According to the sources, the salary cuts extend to soldiers, leaders and officials of the Al-Qassam Brigades. In addition to this, soldiers of the military wing who receive a salary from the brigades as well as another from the government have been requested to choose either one of these salaries and be content with it. The sources also pointed out that the expenses of the brigades were being reduced in general but will not affect “those military occupations that are a high priority”.
Commander of elite Iranian Quds Force meets secretly with Hamas delegation
General Qassem Suleimani, the commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard's Quds Force, reaffirmed Iran's commitment to the Palestinian resistance in a secret meeting with Hamas's delegation to Iran on Wednesday, al-Mayadeen Arab news site reported.
The Palestinian delegation, headed by the chairman of Hamas's political bureau, Musa Abu Marzouk, met secretly with senior Iranian figures, including the secretary of the Iranian Supreme National Security Council, Ali Shamkhani, Shura Council Chairman Ali Larijani and Qassem Suleimani.
"During the meeting, the senior Iranian officials updated Hamas's delegation about the expected developments in the region,” a member of the Hamas delegation said.
"The circumstances under which Hamas's relations with Iran were created before 2011 have changed. The world has changed since the Arab Spring, both Iran and Hamas are not the same. Thus, we need to build our relations on new foundations," he added.
Hamas admits: Iran has reduced the scope of its aid
Iran has cut back its assistance to Hamas, the group's leader Khaled Mashaal is admitting.
Speaking in an interview with French television, Mashaal said that "Iran was once a main supporter of the movement, but today the scope of its support has changed and we are striving to diversify the sources of official and popular support."
At the same time, he denied reports that Iran's move stems from a disconnect between Hamas and the Islamic Republic, and noted that several Hamas delegations visited Tehran recently.
Hamas delegation to Egypt fails to improve relations, report says
A delegation of senior Hamas members who traveled to Cairo in recent days in an effort to improve relations between the Islamist regime and the Egyptian government has failed to achieve its objective, according to an Egyptian newspaper report on Tuesday.
Al-Ahram reported that the attempt to mend relations with the government of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi failed due to Hamas’s refusal to admit any responsibility for Sinai terrorist incidents and its “refusal to admit mistakes.”
According to the report, Egyptian authorities presented to Hamas evidence of Hamas’s involvement in Sinai incidents, with a view to setting up a joint investigation, “but the Hamas delegation did not show a will to cooperate.”
Kerry determines IS committing genocide in Iraq, Syria
US Secretary of State John Kerry has determined that the Islamic State group is committing genocide against Christians and other minorities in Iraq and Syria, according to US officials, as he acted to meet a congressional deadline.
But Kerry’s finding, set to be announced Thursday, will not obligate the United States to take additional action against IS militants and does not prejudge any prosecution against its members, said the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to publicly preview Kerry’s decision.
A day after the State Department said Kerry would miss the March 17 deadline, the officials said Kerry had completed his review and determined that Christians, Yazidis and Shiite groups are victims of genocide. The US House of Representatives this week passed a nonbinding resolution by a 393-0 vote condemning IS atrocities as genocide.
Lawmakers and others who have advocated for the finding had sharply criticized the department’s disclosure Wednesday that deadline would be missed. The officials said Kerry concluded his review just hours after that announcement and that the criticism had not affected his decision.
CIA has ignored intelligence on ISIS since 2013 and could have halted its rise when it only had a handful of recruits, Syrian rebel spy chief claims
The CIA has ignored crucial intelligence since 2013 from within ISIS ranks that could have helped prevent its rise, a Syrian rebel spy chief has claimed.
The Free Syrian Army spy boss said he had been sending reports to his CIA contacts for more than two years that included GPS coordinates, ISIS movements, photographs and phone numbers.
His operation - which utilizes 30 operatives placed inside ISIS-controlled cities - was 'trained abroad' and received $10,000 per month from the U.S. government, he claimed.
The spy chief, interviewed by Le Monde and named only as 'M', said: 'From the moment [ISIS] had 20 members to when it had 20,000, we have shown everything to the Americans', RT reported.
'When we asked them what they did with this information, they always gave evasive answers, saying it was in the hands of decision-makers.
Iran Has Never Started a War?
That Iran hasn’t invaded anyone or, indeed, started a war in more than two centuries has become a talking point for those advocating trust and outreach to Iran.
Here’s University of Michigan professor and polemicist Juan Cole, for example:
Iran has not launched an aggressive war in modern history (unlike the US or Israel), and its leaders have a doctrine of “no first strike.” This is true of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, as well as of Revolutionary Guards commanders
Retired Congressman Ron Paul likewise declared, “There’s no history to show that Iran are aggressive people. When’s the last time they invaded a country? Over 200 years ago!” Richard Falk, an emeritus Princeton professor and early advocate for Ayatollah Khomeini and later a UN official (and 9/11 conspiracy theorist), likewise repeated the trope.
The Iranian regime knows when it has got a good thing going. Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif yesterday tweeted, “Iran hasn’t attacked any country in 250 years. But when Saddam rained missiles on us and gassed our people for 8 yrs, no one helped us.”
But is it true that “Iran hasn’t attacked any country in 250 years” as Zarif and his fellow travelers insist? Not quite.
Iranian Workers Demonstrate against Iranian Spending on Syria War

PreOccupiedTerritory: Sire, Haman’s Lottery For When To Kill The Jews Promotes Gambling (satire)
Even in terms of the extermination of the Jews itself, the selection of the date by lottery has disturbing implications, Your Highness. If gambling is part of this policy, then those who perform the royal duties in implementing the massacres and looting will find it easier to compromise on zealous performance of those duties, as numerous cases from the world of entertainment and sport can attest. That, Your Majesty, is not a prospect this kingdom needs.
I beseech His Majesty to withdraw the announcement of the genocide date until such time as an alternative selection takes place that better reflects the morality and justice for which this kingdom stands. It could be based on particular economic considerations. It could be a function of the availability of certain officials or resources. It could be any number of practical, responsible factors – certainly not the haphazard selection of months and dates, as if so important a policy implementation can be left to the caprices of random chance. I need not remind His Highness, who is wise, how that departs so drastically from the careful, sober management of affairs that has characterized his reign to date.
Thank you, Your Highness, for this audience. May I ask how the search process is proceeding for new captains of the guard?
Purim prank gone wrong: Jewish boys arrested in Iran for Haman graffiti
Two 17-year-old Jewish teenagers were arrested in Tehran earlier this week after they were caught spray painting a building in the center of the Iranian capital with the words "Death to Haman," according to a report in The Jerusalem Post's sister Hebrew publication Maariv.
Details of the incident quickly came to the attention of various US Jewish organizations. According to the latest reports, the two have not yet been released.
The Iranian Jewish community expressed concern for the safety and the future of the teenagers in light of past cases in which imprisoned Jews disappeared.
"Based on the details that came from Iran, the Tehran police promised to release the two boys, both 17, after it was made clear to them that this is not a political act, but a simple Purim prank, but as of now, the boys have not been released," said one official dealing with the issue according to the report.
Next week in Israel and across the world, Jews will celebrate the holiday of Purim.

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