Thursday, April 28, 2016

From Ian:

In spiraling anti-Semitism row, Labour suspends Livingstone for saying Hitler backed Zionism
Britain’s opposition Labour Party on Thursday suspended a veteran and senior member, Ken Livingstone, after he claimed that Adolf Hitler was initially a supporter of Zionism “before he went mad and ended up killing 6 million Jews,” and charged that for decades in the UK there has been a “well-orchestrated campaign by the Israel lobby to smear anybody who criticizes Israel policy as anti-Semitic.”
The comments by Livingstone, a veteran former London mayor who sits on Labour’s national executive and heads the opposition party’s international policy commission, prompted outraged calls, including by many of his colleagues, for his removal from the party, and intensified a crisis in Labour over anti-Semitism within its ranks.
“Ken Livingstone has been suspended by the Labour Party, pending an investigation, for bringing the Party into disrepute,” Labour announced.
The Board of Deputies of British Jews said Livingstone should be kicked out of Labour altogether. Board President Jonathan Arkush said: “Ken Livingston’s comments were abhorrent and beyond disgraceful. His latest comments combine Holocaust revisionism with anti-Semitism denial, when the evidence is there for all to see. He lacks any sense of decency. He must now be expelled from the Labour Party.”
Ken Livingstone's car crash Daily Politics interview

Labour’s Livingstone says Hitler was initially a Zionist; colleague calls him a ‘Nazi apologist’
The comments by Livingstone, a veteran far-left politician who sits on Labour’s national executive and heads the opposition party’s international policy commission, prompted outraged calls, including by many of his colleagues, for his removal from the party, and intensified a crisis in Labour over anti-Semitism within its ranks.
Sadiq Khan, Labour’s candidate in the current campaign for the London mayoralty, called Livingstone’s remarks “appalling and inexcusable.”
Labour colleague John Mann MP confronted Livingstone in an extraordinary face-off caught on video to call him “a Nazi apologist,” a “f__king disgrace,” and a “disgusting racist” who was rewriting history. Mann, who chairs the All-Party Parliamentary Group against Antisemitism, told Livingstone he “should read ‘Mein Kampf'” and would learn that Hitler was opposed to a Jewish state, since he thought that it would create a Jewish power base. “I think you’ve lost it, Mr Livingstone,” stormed Mann. “What are you on at the moment?”
The controversy erupted a day after Labour’s leader, Jeremy Corbyn, a bitter critic of Israel who has referred to Hamas and Hezbollah representatives as “friends,” reluctantly suspended an MP, Naz Shah, who had called for the dismantling of Israel and compared Israelis to Hitler.

Watch: John Mann takes on Ken Livingstone over anti-Semitism - 'you are a Nazi apologist'
As the Labour party continues to implode over the party’s handling of Naz Shah’s anti-Semitic social media posts, a number of MPs have turned on Ken Livingstone in light of his comments today on anti-Semitism.
However, John Mann has gone one step futher. The Labour MP confronted Livingstone over his claim that Hitler supported Zionism, just before Livingstone appeared on the Daily Politics:
‘You’re a Nazi apologist, rewriting history, rewriting history, rewriting history. Go back and check what Hitler did, go back and check. There’s a book called Mein Kampf, you’ve obviously never heard of it.’
Mann then appeared on the Daily Politics to repeat his claim — this time appearing from a different studio to avoid another heated exchange:

Report: Corbyn-backed charity funded Gaza event featuring kids’ play on killing Israelis
A British pro-Palestinian charity supported by UK Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn reportedly funded a festival in the Gaza Strip this week that included a play in which Palestinian children simulated violent acts against Israelis.
The report in the Daily Mail on Thursday came as Labour was in turmoil over repeated anti-Semitic and anti-Israel remarks by its members. The party on Thursday suspended former London mayor Ken Livingstone for claiming Adolf Hitler backed Zionism, as he came to the defense of an MP suspended a day earlier over a 2014 Facebook post in which she called for Israel to be dismantled.
The Mail said that the charity Interpal, formally known as the Palestinian Relief and Development Fund, donated £6,800 (approx. $10,000) to the Palestine Festival for Children and Education, which put on the play showing children clad in military fatigues and brandishing toy knives and machine guns as they attacked Israelis.
Corbyn, the Mail said, has spoken at fundraisers for Interpal. In 2013 he “accepted” from it a tour of Gaza costing £2,800 (approx. $4,000), and even appeared in a promotional video for the charity. The report also said that the Labour leader referred to Interpal boss Ibrahim Hewitt — whom the paper calls “a notorious Islamic hardliner who has said adulterers should be stoned” — a “very good friend.”
Labour’s halfwits have revealed their anti-Semitic side
My guess is that the people who voted for Naz Shah at the last election think she did not go anywhere near far enough in her comments about transporting Jews. Ms Shah is, somehow, still the MP for Bradford West, a seat she yanked from under the feet of someone we had all assumed had the votes of anti-Semites in the constituency sewn up. This is problem number one, for Labour. The loathing of Israel, and concomitant anti-Semitism, among its core Muslim vote is implacable.
But problem number two is that Labour’s white middle-class metro liberal halfwits, of which Jeremy Corbyn is undoubtedly a member, are also disposed towards anti-Semitism. They loathe Israel every bit as much as does Shah, as Ken Livingstone’s comments this morning prove. Such a far cry from the fundamentally decent 1950s Labour Party which cheered the building of the Israeli state.
You look at this horrible idiot, Shah, and wonder how can it have come to this, in such a short space of time. Oh – and Corbyn’s statement? That Shah’s views were ‘historic’? Less than two years ago, sunshine. And don’t anyone believe for a moment that she’s changed her mind.
Oh – and credit to Guido Fawkes for uncovering this story. And also for showing that this was not a one-off. She’s an anti-Semite. End of, as they say down the Den.
Jeremy Corbyn must now confront Labour’s anti-Semitism problem
What is being said by senior figures in the Labour party about anti-Semitism at the moment is as depressing as it is jaw dropping. On the Today programme this morning, the Labour MP Rupa Huq—who went to Cambridge University—tried to play down the whole Naz Shah issue. She argued that sharing these kind of vile posts on Facebook was no big deal and not much different from her mocking Boris on Twitter for getting stuck on a zip-wire. She said that Shah had been subject to ‘trial by Twitter’.
If this was not bad enough, Ken Livingstone then went on BBC London to say that declaring that the ‘Jews are rallying’ is not anti-Semitic. If this was not offensive enough, he then argued that Hitler supported Zionism before he ‘went mad’. A slew of Labour MPs are calling for Livingstone’s suspension from the party.
This is a defining moment for Jeremy Corby and Labour. If he doesn’t take action now, then he will confirm that he simply isn’t interested in dealing with Labour’s growing anti-Semitism problem. At that point, it will be very hard for decent people to stay in the Labour party or to vote for it.
Neuberger and Levy on Labour's Anti-Semitism

McDonnell Doctrine on Labour Anti-Semitism

flashback: labour’s anti-semitism mp invited Donald Trump to Work With Charity with Extremist links
January 2016: A British Member of Parliament yesterday invited U.S. Republican frontrunner Donald Trump to work with a charity with alleged extremist links.
Naz Shah, the Labour MP for Bradford West, invited Mr Trump to meet the “Muslim volunteers” at Human Appeal International, a group that has been linked with Hamas and hosted speakers widely criticised as “extremist”.
In yesterday’s Westminster Hall debate on the petition to ban Mr Trump from the UK, Ms Shah said:
“I would invite Donald Trump to join us in feeding the homeless at the InTouch Foundation, a Muslim charity that feeds homeless people in the city of Bradford. I would invite him to meet the Muslim volunteers who help at Human Appeal (International), a foundation based in a colleague’s constituency, and all those people who work together on issues that affect us as a country and as people, regardless of our race, gender, ethnicity or religion. That is what I would show to him.”
But Human Appeal has hosted speakers such as Haitham al-Haddad, Raed Salah, and Zahir Mahmood, all of whom have been highlighted for “extremist” rhetoric.
FLASHBACK: Naz Shah Claimed Rock-Throwing Palestinians Neither ‘Killed or Injured’ Israeli Children
January 2016: The Israeli embassy in Britain has sent a letter of complaint to a Muslim Labour MP after she claimed that no Israeli children had been killed or even injured by rock-throwing Palestinians.
During a parliamentary debate on child detainees and prisoners in the Palestinian territories, Naseem “Naz” Shah claimed it was “absolutely unacceptable” to arrest children.
She maintained the Israeli government had provided no evidence of Israeli children being killed or injured by Palestinian minors protesting in the West Bank.
Eitan Na’eh, chargé d’affaires at the embassy in London, wrote to Shah on Monday to express his “profound concern” about her claims, according to The Jewish Chronicle.
Bradford West MP Shah gained her seat at the 2015 general election from George Galloway of the Respect Party. She had told colleagues during the debate: “The fact is that the disproportionality of someone throwing a stone or a rock and being detained for it is not acceptable.”
3 questions for Malia Bouattia in response to her Guardian op-ed
In her Guardian op-ed responding to the criticism (I’m the NUS president – and I’m not an antisemitic ISIS supporter, April 24), Bouattia refuted a charge that was never actually leveled (that she “supports” ISIS), failed to substantively address one of the main charges (her support for terrorism), and inadequately addressed the other main charge (that’s she’s used antisemitic rhetoric).
Here’s the relevant passage in her op-ed concerning ISIS
…newspaper reports this week still depict me as a young Muslim who supports Isis. This is simply not true.
However, the charge against her is not that she actually “supports” ISIS, but that she supports BDS against Israel yet opposed a resolution to boycott ISIS – citing the fear of stoking Islamophobia. (NUS later passed a watered down motion condemning ISIS “atrocities” that didn’t call for a boycott of the group.)
First, Bouattia fails to address why she evidently believes that a “large Jewish society” on campus is a problem.
Additionally, though Bouattia pledges to be careful about the language she uses in the future, it’s stunning that someone so sensitive about words which stigmatise minority groups and stoke racism didn’t recognise the antisemitic connotations of the term ‘Zionist-led media’ – and how “Zionism”, in that context, is typically a euphemism for “Jewish”.
Support for terrorism
Though she claimed in her op-ed that she’s “not an extremist”, she didn’t even address clear evidence that she supports terror attacks by extremists.
So, in light of the inadequate reply in her op-ed, here are three simple follow-up questions for Ms. Bouattia:
Will you renounce your previous support for terror attacks against Jews in Israel?
How can you claim to support minority rights, yet fail to support the most fundamental right of Jews (one of the smallest and most historically persecuted minorities in history) to have a national homeland?
Do you seriously maintain that Zionism is a form of “white supremacy”?
The Guardian’s Harriet Sherwood attacks a straw man in contextualising antisemitism
Addressing the antisemitism scandal which continues to engulf the British Labour Party, the Guardian published an article today by Harriet Sherwood on the row titled ‘Corbyn’s Labour must be more decisive on antisemitism claims’.
Sherwood, the Guardian’s religion correspondent (and their former Jerusalem correspondent), was critical of the “party leadership’s failure to act immediately and emphatically in response to a string of incidents over the past few weeks”.
She then added:
The problem is defining antisemitism; any expression of Jew-hatred or Nazi sympathy is straightforward but the difficulty lies where opposition to or criticism of official Israeli policies becomes entangled with its citizens, or Jewish people around the world.
Some argue that any criticism of Israel is de facto antisemitism because of the state’s uniquely Jewish character. Others say opposition to the present Israeli government’s policies is entirely legitimate, and has nothing to do with antisemitism.

Of course, next to nobody actually claims that “criticism of Israel is de facto antisemitism”. Rather, most are quite careful not to conflate the two.According to the EUMC Working Definition of Antisemitism (cited frequently by those tasked with combating antisemitism), here’s where criticism of Israel crosses the line to antisemitism.
Edgar Davidson: Nothing special about Naz Zhah - plenty more antisemites like her in the Labour Party
Naz Shah should consider herself unlucky because she was stupid enough not to remove the most blatantly antisemitic of her Facebook postings once she became a 'public figure'.
There are many others in the Labour Party whose views are identical to hers but who have been a bit more careful; they restrict their public displays of antisemitism to simply spewing blood libels against the Jewish State and denying it the right to defend itself against terrorists, while supporting those same terrorists. The party leader Jeremy Corbyn is one such person, although like Ken Livingstone and Gerald Kaufman he has at least come in for some genuine scrutiny. But why have so many others avoided it? In particular, it seems almost every Muslim Labour MP shares the exact same views as Naz Shah, so maybe their ethnicity puts them 'out of bounds' under the ludicrous assumption that 'minorities cannot possibly be racist'.
I therefore present a just a small sample of other antisemitic Labour MPs:
Anti-Semitism among British Muslims
Several years ago, the prominent British Muslim left-wing journalist, Mehdi Hasan, wrote an article exposing the British Muslim community’s “dirty little secret” of quiet but widespread anti-Semitism.
“It pains me to have to admit this but anti-Semitism isn’t just tolerated in some sections of the British Muslim community; it’s routine and commonplace. Any Muslims reading this article – if they are honest with themselves – will know instantly what I am referring to. It’s our dirty little secret. You could call it the banality of Muslim anti-Semitism.”
To anyone with eyes and ears, it was hardly a secret even then. But today it certainly is no secret, and it certainly is not little. A survey of British Muslims released two weeks ago exposed the extent of the prevalence of anti-Semitic views among British Muslims.
Unsurprisingly, as Muslims become more and more prominent in British politics and public life, these sentiments are escorting them to ever higher echelons. A series of recent episodes involving three Muslim up-and-comings – each young and female – illustrate the prevalence of anti-Semitic attitudes even among modern, educated, and “integrated” Muslim leaders. On each occasion, they have come under pressure for their views, and, as a result, a Muslim journalist has wondered whether Muslims are being denied the standard of free speech afforded others. Well, here are the three offenders, and you can be the judge.
'Politically Black' Muslim Student Leader Refuses To Back Israel's Right To Exist
Malia Bouattia, who claims to represent the UK’s 2.5 million students, denied all the anti-Semitism allegations put to her, claiming she will be “branded an Isis sympathiser” by a supposedly racist media and society simply because she is a “black Muslim women”.
Many online have pointed out, however, that she is not black but an Algerian Arab. Even Channel 4 chose to describe her, bizarrely, as “politically black”.
“It’s not for me to condemn Palestinian violence!” said Ms. Bouattia on the evening news last night, claiming that Palestinians have a “right” to use “violence” because attacks on Israel are “self defence”.
Ms. Bouattia has previously voiced her support for “resistance” against the state of Israel, which was not limited to, “non-violent protest and the Boycott”.
She insisted that there was “absolutely not” a “double standard” at play when she repeatedly condemned Israel in such strong terms, but blocked a motion condemning the Islamic State (IS) terror group.
Exclusive: Israeli envoy slams Austria’s hosting of Palestinian hijacker terrorist
The Austrian government and organizations that enabled a Palestinian terrorist to hold an April talk in Vienna faced a firestorm of criticism from Israel’s ambassador and the local Jewish community.
“Allowing a convicted terrorist to present her opinions can only serve as an incentive for other terrorists,” Israel’s Ambassador to Austria, Talya Lador-Fresher, told The Jerusalem Post.
Leila Khaled, a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), which has been designated by the US and the EU as a terrorist organization, delivered a talk titled “Free Palestine” at the Austrian-Arab culture center (OKAZ) in mid-April.
Ahead of Khaled’s talk, Oskar Deutsch, the head of Vienna’s Jewish community, asked Austria’s authorities to ban the event. The Jewish community contacted the state prosecutor.
‘Disproportionate?’ U.S. Copies Israel
Earlier this month, Senator Bernie Sanders caused a stir by condemning Israel’s counter-attacks against Hamas terrorist in Gaza as “disproportionate.” After admitting that he had wildly exaggerated the number of civilian deaths in the 2014 Gaza war, he doubled down on the charge condemning the Israel Defense Forces. But while he took a much-deserved beating over this from the pro-Israel community, including many Democrats, Sanders could say in his defense that he was merely echoing the same sorts of unfair criticisms of Israel made by the Obama White House and State Department in 2014. But even as many of the leaders of the Democratic Party attacked Israel over its behavior in Gaza, the U.S. military was seeking to emulate them.
Evidence of that was made clear this week when it was revealed that U.S. fighting ISIS terrorists in Mosul were attempting to use the very same tactics employed by the IDF.
U.S. Air Force General Peter Gersten said in a news conference held via video link from Baghdad that the Americans seeking to take out terrorists embedded in civilian areas were now using the “knock on the roof” technique created by the Israelis. During the fighting, the Israelis sought to warn civilians in a building that was being used by Hamas killers by shooting a non-explosive device onto the roof allowing non-combatants as well as any terrorists present to escape.
Netanyahu rejects French peace plan for 'distancing' Palestinians from direct talks
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday officially rejected a French initiative aimed at relaunching peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, saying the plan undermines the process by "distancing" the prospect of direct talks between the two sides.
However, the premier pledged that Israel is prepared to begin direct bilateral talks with the Palestinians "immediately, without preconditions."
"Israel adheres to the position that the best way to end the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians is direct, bilateral negotiations," Netanyahu said in a statement.
"All other political initiatives distance the Palestinians from the negotiating table," he added.
Katz: We can’t count on US at UN
US President Barack Obama’s administration has not been supportive enough of Israel at the UN and elsewhere, Intelligence Services Minister Israel Katz charged on Tuesday night in an interview with The Jerusalem Post.
Katz will be coming to New York next month to address The Jerusalem Post Conference on May 22.
While he is in the US, he intends to seek Democratic and Republican support for legislation in Congress backing proactive sanctions on Hezbollah and whoever helps the terrorist group with money or weapons.
He said the fact that Arab countries also see Hezbollah as a terrorist organization helps on the issue.
“It is very important for Israel to know that the US supports us in international organizations, including with its veto at the United Nations Security Council,” he said.
“This is a key component of our national security and our security considerations. Unfortunately, with the current administration, we cannot be sure of that.”
UN Security Council to informally discuss international protection for Palestinians
The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) will discuss providing international protection for Palestinians during an informal May 6 meeting, PLO Ambassador to the UN in New York Riyad Mansour said on Wednesday.
“We would like to see an international force to separate between us and the Israeli occupying authorities,” Mansour said.
Such a step is not feasible at this time, so it is possible for the UNSC to take a smaller step to help the Palestinians, he said.
“Now the security council is beginning the discussion,” Mansour told reporters.
The Palestinians have persistently called for the UNSC to hold a formal meeting and to action on this matter, he added.
“The Security Council has to shoulder the responsibility when they see people who are living under occupation in which the occupier is supposed to provide protection,” Mansour said.
PA envoy says Israel, like Nazis, labels opponents as terrorists
The Palestinian Authority’s UN envoy on Wednesday equated Israel’s designation of Palestinians who oppose the Jewish state’s policies in the West Bank and Gaza Strip as terrorists to Nazi Germany’s branding of Warsaw Ghetto uprising fighters.
Ambassador Riyad Mansour said in a press conference in New York that “[Israel’s] representative on the UN Security Council trying [sic] to show that all the Palestinian people who have legitimate rights to resist occupation in legitimate ways he paints them as terrorists.”
“Guess what, all colonizers, all occupiers, including those who suppressed the Warsaw [Ghetto] uprising, labeled those who resisted them as terrorists,” he said.
Israeli UN Ambassador Danny Danon rejected Mansour’s comparison outright, and said world powers should be disgusted with the Palestinian envoy’s claims.
 State Dept.--Ignoring Law--Won't Defund U.N. Climate Agency for Admitting 'State of Palestine'
The State Department says it’s not obliged to cut off funding for the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change in response to its admission of the “State of Palestine,” since the UNFCCC is “a treaty,” not an international organization.
Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), the senator leading calls for a halt to the funding in line with U.S. law, called the argument “intentionally misleading,” and an exercise in “verbal gymnastics.”
Two Heritage Foundation scholars contended that if the UNFCCC is not an international organization, “then the term has no meaning.”
A 1990 law bars funding to “the United Nations or any specialized agency thereof which accords the Palestine Liberation Organization the same standing as member states.”
A second law, passed in 1994, prohibits funding for “any affiliated organization of the United Nations which grants full membership as a state to any organization or group that does not have the internationally recognized attributes of statehood.”
US Sinai pullback payback for islands handover
The US withdrew its forces from the Sinai Peninsula last weekend in retaliation for Egypt’s transfer of sovereignty over Tiran and Sanafir islands to Saudi Arabia, according to debkafile’s military and intelligence sources. They also report that the move came after Washington protested to Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi over its exclusion from the consultations and military coordination between Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Israel regarding the islands.
The US message was clear. Since Riyadh, Cairo and Jerusalem do not report their military steps in the Sinai Peninsula, the Gulf of Aqaba and the Red Sea to Washington, the US sees no need to inform them of its military steps in the Sinai.
That message was conveyed by the chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, Joseph F. Dunford, to the Egyptian president during their meeting on Saturday, April 23 in Cairo.
On Tuesday, debkafile’s military sources reported that several days earlier the US military secretly withdrew about 100 of its officers and enlisted men from the multinational peacekeeping force in the northern part of the Sinai. As far as Riyadh, Cairo and Jerusalem are concerned, there is no doubt that it was a retaliatory measure.
US sources refused to specify the current location of the troops. The American force was withdrawn from El Gorah base, located next to the town of Sheikh Zuweid. Gen. Dunford told al-Sisi that the Obama administration is no longer willing to maintain forces in the northern Sinai following the recent shelling of the base by the ISIS affiliate in the restive area. The incident marked the terrorist organization’s first attack on US troops in the Sinai, but its second on an American force in the Middle East.
On March 19, ISIS shelled Fire Base Bell, a US marine base in Makhmur, northern Iraq, about 77 kilometers southeast of the terrorist organization’s de facto capital of Mosul. One marine was killed.
Turkey’s Erdogan: Talks with Israel to resume in May
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Wednesday that his envoys will meet with their Israeli counterparts next month in a final push to reach a reconciliation agreement between the two former allies, whose relationship soured over five years ago.
Erdogan, who was visiting the Croatian capital, Zagreb, told reporters that the two teams would discuss proposals for humanitarian relief to the Gaza Strip, including an offer to supply electricity from a ship docked in Israel.
The Turkish president said the two countries are looking at setting up a series of water and electricity supply projects in the Gaza Strip to fulfill Turkey’s terms for reconciliation.
One of Ankara’s key demands has been the removal of Israel’s partial blockade over the coastal enclave.
Comment: The Temple Mount - Radical Islam’s twisted trump card in their holy war against Israel
Of all the sacred sites in the annals of Jewish history, none illustrates the maddening, millennia-old existential paradox facing the Jewish people more instructively and symbolically than Judaism’s holiest of holies, the Temple Mount.
From the triumphant creation of the First Temple during King Solomon’s reign, to the present-day conflict, it continues to epitomize the jarring dichotomy of tragedy and triumph that has come to define the Jewish experience.
Indeed, it is the ultimate metaphor for the ongoing Jewish/Palestinian war of attrition.
Based on the deadly incitement propagated by the Palestinian Authority, Hamas and Northern Branch of the Islamic Movement over their purported sovereignty of the Mount, one would be forgiven for believing that al-Aksa Mosque is Islam’s holiest site.
It is not. In the annals of the Muslim faith, al-Aksa is a bronze medalist, following Mecca and Medina.
However, for Jews, the Temple Mount very much represents the gold. Therefore it should come as no surprise that radical Muslims have seized upon it as the ultimate weapon to produce violence against Israeli Jews.
In many ways, the Temple Mount has been subjected to the greatest kidnapping and ransom in Jewish history.
Nablus residents riot as Jewish pilgrims visit Joseph’s Tomb
Palestinian residents of Nablus threw rocks and burning tires at IDF soldiers as they escorted hundreds of visitors to a Jewish holy site in the West Bank city overnight Wednesday-Thursday.
The IDF was providing protection for 26 buses of religious Jews who came to Nablus to see Joseph’s Tomb, the purported site of the Jewish patriarch’s burial. During the visit, the escorting force came under attack from local Palestinians, though no Israeli soldier was injured in the incident, the army said.
In response to the stones and burning tires, the troops fired back at the rioters with both “live bullets fired at the lower body” and tear gas canisters, the army said.
No injuries were reported among the rioters who took part in the violent demonstration.
Such visits are conducted in the middle of the night in order to minimize clashes with local residents, although that rarely works out as intended.
Battalion commanders open up about terror wave
The relative calm over the past few weeks has enabled Yedioth Ahronoth to conduct a rare and exclusive interview with the six platoon commanders from the Judea and Samaria Division. For hours they discussed the current wave of terror attacks and elaborated on the techniques and methods employed which ultimately brought about a significant decline in the number of attacks. The six also discussed moral and sensitive subjects which are tearing the IDF apart from inside.
Etzion Battalion Commander, Colonel Roman Gofman, described the daily efforts to stop the cycle of terror. “In two-and-a-half months, twelve terrorists came from the village of Sa'ir near Hebron, for example. We checked the clans that they belonged to and targeted them and them only, while we made things easier for the rest of the clans. They quickly recognized this and stopped whoever they needed to.”
Moreover, the battalion commanders emphasized that we are only talking about a temporary respite. “When the wave of terror is renewed,” Battalion Commander in Samaria Colonel Shay Klapper predicted, “it will jump a few levels. It won’t go back to 13-year-old children with knives. The bus explosion in Jerusalem returned us all to the early 2000s.”
Battalion Commander, Colonel Roi Strait gave the example of the village of Budrus north of Ramallah. “This small village with about 2,500 residents caused a lot of problems,” he said. “But the moment that we began to pave them a central road, the mayor and the principal of a school came and stopped a demonstration that had erupted.”
Major Jewish Group Condemns Video Accusing Israel of Detaining Palestinian Girl Without Probable Cause, Though She Was Arrested During Attempted Stabbing Attack
A major Jewish organization blasted a video accusing Israel of detaining a Palestinian girl without reasonable grounds, The Algemeiner has learned.
B’nai B’rith International expressed “outrage” that the video — posted on Facebook by the self-described “global news community” AJ+, whose parent company is Al Jazeera Media Network –omitted the complete story of 12-year-old Dima al-Wawi arrest and incarceration.
AJ+ “sends a deceiving message, resulting in the take away that it’s acceptable to tell a supposed news story without all of the facts,” B’nai B’rith said.
In the video, al-Wawi is shown reunited with her family after spending two and a half months in an Israeli prison. A member of the Palestinian Committee for Prisoners’ Affairs is featured saying Israel is “an ugly state…that doesn’t respect childhood and violates Palestinian childhood.” The video fails to mention that al-Wawi was taken into custody on Feb. 9 for attempting to stab an Israeli security guard near Hebron in the West Bank.
Red alert siren sounds in Gaza border communities, IDF says no rocket located
A rocket alert siren sounded in the Eshkol Regional Council on the border with the Gaza Strip on Thursday.
The IDF stated that no rockets were known to have fallen in Israeli territory.
A military source said that the possibility was being checked that interior fire within Egypt may have set off the rocket alert siren.
No injuries or damage were initially reported.
The siren came some two weeks after the IDF announced that it had located a tunnel infiltrating into Israeli territory from the Gaza Strip.
Europe: Do the right thing on Hezbollah
Nearly three years ago, the European Union finally overcame its longstanding resistance and addressed the issue of adding Hezbollah to its terrorism list.
The good news is that the 28 member states, prompted by the determination of Bulgaria, which experienced a deadly Hezbollah attack the year before, and Cyprus, which arrested a Hezbollah operative scouting out sites, took action.
The bad news is that the EU opted to bifurcate Hezbollah and place the “military wing” on the terrorism list, while leaving its “political wing” off it.
If ever there was a distinction without a difference, this was it. Don’t take my word for it. None other than Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, Hezbollah’s Lebanon-based chief, said as much, stressing that no one could divide his organization.
Hezbollah Develops New Skills in Syria, Posing Challenges for Israel
When Hezbollah first intervened on the side of President Bashar al-Assad in Syria, Israeli defense analysts saw the foray as a blessing — better to have their Lebanese arch-enemy entangled in a war in Syria. But there is increasing concern that Hezbollah is getting valuable battlefield experience in Syria, especially when it comes to large-scale, coordinated offensive operations, something the Shi’ite militia had little knowledge of before.
That practical experience could be of use in any subsequent conflict with Israel. Hezbollah commanders acknowledge the benefits.
“In some ways, Syria is a dress rehearsal for our next war with Israel,” a special forces Hezbollah commander admitted to VOA recently.
Peacetime training is no substitute for wartime experience, says John Capello, a former U.S. air attaché in Tel Aviv and now an analyst with the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, a Washington foreign policy think tank.
“NATO makes a big effort to make training as realistic as possible but it is still scripted and doesn’t teach how to deal with the unexpected. It just isn’t the same as the real thing.”
WATCH: Palestinian TV Report Extols Anti-Israel BDS Campaign
The Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions campaign in the United States has been a major success, with many hitherto unaffiliated populations signing up for the anti-Israel cause, a top Palestinian journalist claimed.
Nasser Laham, the proprietor and editor of Maan news network, said that “California, San Francisco, and Los Angeles before them have become pro-Palestinian.”
Laham’s television report quoted the US-based Palestinian academic Hatem Bazian, a champion of BDS, who was interviewed by Israel’s Channel 10.
When asked about the recent wave of Palestinian violence, Bazian said that he refused “to answer this racist question. The Israeli occupation is the worst form of violence.”
He also told the Israeli interviewer that “about half of the Jewish community in the US supports us” and he fails to understand how Israel sees its fight against BDS as legitimate while it calls for sanctions on Iran.
Aaron David Miller: U.S. and Saudi Arabia, trapped in a bad marriage
Probably for now. However imperfect Saudi policies, the United States still requires local friends in the region to help stabilize matters and pursue American interests. The United States may increasingly be weaning itself off Arab hydrocarbons, but the rest of the world isn't. And since oil still trades in a single market, a disruption in supply will impact the economies and markets around the world, including the United States.
So, stability in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf is still a vital American interest. And Saudi Arabia with all its imperfections is still the key element in that. Moreover, Wahhabis or not, Washington still needs the Saudis for intelligence sharing and operations against ISIS and al Qaeda affiliates in Yemen and requires Riyadh's cooperation in trying to manage the Syrian problem if there is to be an outcome to the current civil war more favorable than the black hole of chaos that exists there now.
Will relations Improve under the next President?
Clearly, the Saudis are looking past President Obama to the next administration and doubtless hoping for a different kind of President. Obama's comments to the Atlantic's Jeffrey Goldberg that Saudi Arabia was a "free rider" essentially benefiting from a U.S. security guarantee without doing its fair share to support U.S. goals hasn't endeared him to the King. Nor has his risk-aversion on Syria or risk-readiness to reach an accommodation with Iran. But these policies may not change significantly in 2017.
The painful fact is that the United States is stuck in a bad marriage with Saudi Arabia, where neither divorce nor reconciliation is likely. The same Middle East mess that estranged the two sides will likely also force them to cooperate. Indeed, despite what divides them it's more than likely that for the foreseeable future the United States and Saudi Arabia will find a way to muddle through -- cooperating where they can and agreeing to disagree where they must.

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