Wednesday, December 07, 2016

From Ian:

Abbas is no champion of Palestinian democracy
One man, one vote, one time: In 2005, Mahmoud Abbas was elected to a four-year term as president of the Palestinian Authority. He has not bothered to run for re-election since.
He is also the chairman of Fatah, a political movement with past ties to terrorism that is the dominant faction within the Palestine Liberation Organization. The PLO was founded in 1964 -- three years before Israelis were in the Gaza Strip or the West Bank. Abbas is chairman of the PLO, too.
What all this means is that despite Abbas' declining popularity -- two-thirds of Palestinians would like him to resign, according to a recent poll -- no one has been able to successfully challenge his power.
And last week, at the Seventh Fatah Congress, held at the Muqataa, his fortified headquarters in Ramallah, Abbas further solidified his position. With members of rival factions barred from attending, and no other candidates on the ballot, Abbas was handily re-elected as Fatah's leader.
"Everybody voted yes," Fatah spokesman Mahmoud Abu al-Hija assured reporters who had not been permitted to witness the event.
The Future of the International Criminal Court and Impacts for Israel: A Roundtable Discussion
Mon 19 December 2016
The International Criminal Court (ICC) has come under considerable scrutiny in the past few months. Three African countries (Burundi, South Africa, and Gambia) have begun the process of exiting the court, claiming the ICC has an anti-African bias and that the laws of the court conflict with their understanding of sovereign immunity. Kenya and Uganda have also threatened to leave citing procedural and other irregularities. In addition to the issues relating to Africa, the ICC began a “Preliminary Examination into the Situation in Palestine” under highly controversial circumstances. Other critics have highlighted the small number of successful prosecutions and slow pace of the work. The expert panel will discuss these issues and what they mean for Israel.
Panelists include, Gerald Steinberg, Bar Ilan University and NGO Monitor; Anne Herzberg, Legal Advisor, NGO Monitor; Prof. Eugene Kontorovich, Northwestern University; Adv. Pnina Sharvit Baruch, Senior Research Fellow, head of the Program on Law and National Security, and former head of the IDF International Law Department.
Bar Ilan University, Beck Hall 2:00 PM – 5:00 PM
IsraellyCool: Exclusive: From Jew-Hating Gazan to Lover of Israel
At a café in Beit Jala, where Gideon (fictitious name due to security concerns) met with me for an exclusive Israellycool interview, the 22-year-old described what was supposed to be happy time in his childhood –a field trip to “liberated Gaza.”
“We were in this big bus, and we entered this street, and when we went in the ‘settlement’ street, it was smooth and nice,” he recalled of this 10 shekel trip to the ruins of Gush Katif. The guide proudly pointed out where “martyrs” killed Israeli soldiers, bravely causing the Jews to retreat. Once inside, he and his schoolmates were more than eager to mock Jewish settlers and to loot whatever was left.
“I remember I saw the kippah on the street with the Star of David – so the children put it on and made fun of it and spit on it,” he said. “When we got to this place on the second level [of the regional community center], there was this basketball court, and we were shocked that it was nice. We didn’t have anything like this in Gaza.”
He visited the hothouses that were this farming community’s specialty.
“I remember how brilliant they were in how they made it. And I thought: ‘Why don’t we have these plants in Gaza? Trees like they have?’ It was organized. Homes were nice.”
He had watched the 2005 pullout on television, ironically cheering the IDF as they tore thousands Jews from their homes and farms.
“I saw the image of the Jews screaming and soldiers hitting them,” he said. “I was very excited about that because they were going out. And then I started hearing the sound of blowing stuff up. I asked my family about it, and they said now that they’re kicking them out, they’re blowing up their houses so they don’t leave anything for us.”
Gideon grew up in a middle class Christian home in Gaza City not far from the Jewish settlement of Netzarim, where the sounds of those expulsions came. He attended UNRWA schools (even though he did not consider himself a “refugee”) where he was taught that Israel is to blame for Palestinian hardship. But his family’s finances deteriorated once Hamas took over.
As he matured into adolescence, he realized how Hamas leadership – and not the settlers – are the true Palestinian oppressors.



In opposing Obama, Netanyahu played a risky hand, seems to have won
In less than 45 days, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will be able to finally rest assured that he won what might have been the riskiest political poker match of his career.
On January 20 — Inauguration Day — President Barack Obama will exit the world stage, and with him the specter of vindictive action against the Israeli government. When Donald Trump ascends to the presidency, Netanyahu will no longer have to worry about a backlash from Washington for vociferously opposing the Iran nuclear deal or for expanding Jewish settlement in the West Bank.
Six weeks is a long time, in which a lot can still happen. But as things look now, Netanyahu’s confrontational approach to the outgoing administration — which helped him domestically, but which critics deemed a dangerous gamble on crucial US support — played out in his favor.
Obama could still decide to make a last-ditch effort to cement his legacy on the peace process, either by backing a Palestine-related resolution at the UN Security Council or by some other means.
The so-called Regulation Bill seeking to legalize Israeli outposts in the West Bank, which passed Monday in a preliminary reading in the Knesset, might provide the White House with an excuse to support a move in the Palestinian arena or initiate some other punitive measure.
But the chances of that happening appear increasingly slim. Several senior US officials have recently indicated that in all likelihood there will be no move on the Palestinian front before Obama leaves office. A Security Council resolution or a presidential speech about the possible framework of a peace deal had been discussed in the White House before November 8, but after the election and Trump’s surprising victory, that idea has all but vanished.
Ron Prosor: The UN is unable to resist its anti-Israel fix
In an unpredictable world, one thing remains certain: anti-Israel distortion and discrimination at the United Nations. During my time as Israel’s ambassador, I witnessed some glaring examples, but would struggle to recall an example to top the outrageous recent actions of the president of the UN General Assembly, Peter Thomson of Fiji.
During a formal meeting of the UN, he chose to drape himself in the Palestinian flag. This wildly inappropriate behavior itself took place during one of the numerous events in the UN’s annual hate fest: an event timed to mark the anniversary of the UN Partition Plan but given the biased and one-sided title of marking the Palestinian “Nakba.”
In all my years at the UN, I never observed this kind of identification with any country, observer or member, in any context; not human rights, not natural disasters and not even massacres like the one currently taking place against civilians in Syria.
In choosing to drape himself in the Palestinian flag during an official discussion, the president of the General Assembly reinforced the absurdity of an organization that acts like a drug addict. The UN is unable to resist its anti-Israel fix, constantly increasing its consumption even at the risk of overdosing. This week we have witnessed the further crossing of red lines that Israel must simply not accept. When Fiji sent its representative to fill a role as prominent and prestigious as that of GA president, it surely did not expect that he would disgrace himself or his country by acting like a marching PLO demonstrator, trampling upon the values on which the UN was founded.
UK, US intel reportedly spied on Israeli diplomats, army
British and American intelligence spied on Israel’s diplomats and defense firms in addition to its military, the French daily Le Monde reported Wednesday based on leaked documents.
The report was based on material from Edward Snowden, the whistleblower who worked for US intelligence before publishing in 2013 classified material and fleeing to Russia.
According to the newspaper, Britain’s GCHQ intelligence-gathering apparatus collected information on a person described by Le Monde as the second-highest ranking official in the Israeli foreign ministry. That person was not named. The British also spied on the Palestinian Authority, the report said.
The paper reported that the GCHQ and NSA spied on Israeli diplomats at home and abroad, as well as private security companies, government bodies, and university research centers.
Email correspondence belonging to the Israeli ambassadors to Nigeria and Kenya were also the subject of British intelligence-gathering efforts, as was Ophir Optronics, a firm that specializes in fiber optics and is deemed to be tied to the Israeli defense establishment.
Hollande invites Abbas, Netanyahu to parley in Paris
French President Francois Hollande invited Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to meet in Paris on the sidelines of a conference on the peace process slated for December 21, the French newspaper Le Monde reported.
The French have been pushing a initiative aimed at revitalizing the moribund peace process between Palestinian and Israelis. While the Palestinians have welcomed the initiative, Israel has remained critical of the plan, arguing that only bilateral negotiations can prove successful.
Netanyahu has repeatedly said he is willing to meet with Abbas anytime and anywhere. However, one unnamed Israeli diplomat told Le Monde he thought Netanyahu would decline the invitation without making a “big affair” out of it, explaining it would make no sense to hold the meeting with the seemingly pro-Israeli US President-elect Donald Trump about to take office.
Abbas has also expressed willingness to meet with Netanyahu, without the oft-cited preconditions of a total freeze of a settlement construction and release of Palestinian prisoners promised during previous negotiations. In September, Abbas said he had agreed to meet with Netanyahu in Moscow at the behest of the Kremlin, and it was the Israeli leader who asked that the meeting be delayed.
Report: Netanyahu Rejects French Proposal for Face-to-Face With Abbas in Paris
Netanyahu repeatedly rejected and criticized the French initiative, calling instead for direct negotiations
Paris hopes to bring Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas together for a face-to-face meeting on the sidelines of an international peace summit before Christmas, French daily Le Figaro reported on Tuesday.
French Ambassador to Israel Hélène Le Gal extended the invitation to Netanyahu earlier this week, according to the report.
However the Haaretz daily cited a senior Israeli official as saying, anonymously, that Jerusalem rejects the proposal.
A Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) official reportedly said Abbas was willing to participate in such a meeting.
France launched an effort earlier this year to host an international conference to revive peace talks.
Netanyahu repeatedly rejected and criticized the French initiative, calling instead for direct negotiations between the two sides.
Iran-style diplomacy needed for 'Israel and Palestine,' Obama says
Israel's intelligence community believes that diplomacy has "rolled back Iran's nuclear program," US President Barack Obama argued one last time on Tuesday evening in his final major national security speech before leaving office.
Framing international talks over Iran's nuclear work as a model for approaching other challenges in the region, he suggested a similar effort may help to conclude the decades-old Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
"Just think about what we’ve done these last eight years without firing a shot," Obama said, listing a deal between the US and Russia to remove Syria's chemical weapons stockpile as well as non-proliferation efforts around the world. "We’ve rolled back Iran’s nuclear program," he said. "That’s not just my assessment, that’s the assessment of Israeli intelligence, even though they were opposed to the deal."
"All of these steps have helped keep us safe and helped keep our troops safe," he continued. "Those are the result of diplomacy. Sustained diplomatic efforts, no matter how frustrating or difficult they sometimes appear, are going to be required to resolve the conflicts roiling the in Middle East, from Yemen, to Syria, to Israel and Palestine." It was a rare instance in which the president chose to use the term "Palestine" in the present tense.
Online petition calls on Trump to move US Embassy to Jerusalem
The Orthodox Union has started an online petition calling on President-elect Donald Trump to move the US Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv.
The move would recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s “chosen capital,” the OU petition on Change.org says. It also notes that June 2017 will mark the 50th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem.
Trump pledged during the 2016 campaign to move the embassy to Jerusalem.
On Tuesday night, the petition by the umbrella group for Orthodox synagogues and organizations had more than 1,500 signers out of a goal of 2,500.
“Early in your presidency will be a fitting, if overdue, time for you, President-Elect Donald Trump, to relocate the American embassy in Israel to the capital of the Jewish state,” the petition to be sent to Trump concludes.
Earlier this month, President Barack Obama signed a waiver to prevent moving the embassy to Jerusalem. It was the eighth time that Obama signed the waiver, which must be renewed every six months.
Senators Inundated With Emails Calling on Them to Back Legislative Effort to Cut Off US Funding of Palestinian Authority Over Payments to Terrorists
US senators have received more than 22,000 emails in the past week asking them to back a recently proposed bill — the Taylor Force Act — that would cut off US funding to the Palestinian Authority if it continues to pay monetary rewards to terrorists and their families, a major Christian group advocating for the legislation said on Monday.
“No American, regardless of political persuasion, should tolerate our tax dollars funding terror,” Pastor John Hagee — the founder and chairman of Christians United for Israel (CUFI) — said in a statement. “This legislation ensures the PA cannot use our money to incentivize murder — it’s that simple.”
CUFI director David Brog added, “The fact that CUFI members have sent over 22,000 emails to the Senate demonstrates how deeply this issue resonates with our membership and beyond. Americans don’t like their tax dollars going to entities that fund terrorism. Now that we know that the PA makes generous cash payments to terrorists, how can we continue to place US dollars in their hands?”
As reported by The Algemeiner, the Taylor Force Act was unveiled two months ago by Republican Senators Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Dan Coats of Indiana and Roy Blunt of Missouri. It was named after the 28-year-old West Point graduate who was murdered in a stabbing attack carried out by a Palestinian terrorist in Tel Aviv in March.
High Court: Police were violating Jews rights to visit the Temple Mount
Police were violating rights of Jewish visitors at the Temple Mount over an extended period by verbally restricting certain activists from returning after claims of disturbing the peace, without presenting a basis for the allegations, the High Court of Justice has ruled.
The right-wing NGO Honenu broke the story on Wednesday, stating it had overcome years of illegal off-the-books police policies for keeping activists from the Temple Mount.
In the particular case, two Jews were separately told to leave the Temple Mount, brought to a police station and told that they could only return if they signed a written declaration that they would not violate the status quo limits for Jews visiting the Mount.
The two each asked for an explanation as to why they were removed and why they needed to sign, and refused to sign without a hearing.
At different points, both were orally told they could not return to the Temple Mount until they signed the declaration.
Both eventually were granted hearings, but at the hearings were either not told what they did wrong or were given superficial explanations which they said they could easily disprove.
The police also failed to give each of them a written transcript of the hearing or of the decision rejecting their appeal and maintaining restrictions on their visiting the Temple Mount.
Shin Bet says terror cell responsible for West Bank shootings arrested
The Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) recently arrested a terrorist cell suspect carried out several shooting attacks against the Ofra settlement in the Binyamin region of the West Bank.
During the arrests, which was done in cooperation with the IDF and the Border Police reconnaissance unit, weapons and vehicles allegedly used by the suspects during the attacks were seized.
The cell, which consisted of three minors, carried out four shooting attacks between October and November 2016, using locally made weapons, the Shin Bet said. Relatives of the cell members were also detained, on suspicion that they were involved in hiding the weapons used to carry out attacks.
“The activity of the cell demonstrates the high threat level of a terrorist cell with access to weapons and the ability to manufacture weapons,” the agency said, adding that the suspects have been transferred to the military prosecution where charges will be filed in the coming days.
Comptroller: Israel woefully unprepared for rocket onslaught
Between a quarter and half of all Israelis may not have access to a proper bomb shelter in the case of an emergency, despite the understanding that thousands of rockets would strike Israel in a future war, according to a damning report released Tuesday by State Comptroller Yosef Shapira.
The document, a review of Israel’s preparedness against rocket and missile attacks, found numerous gaps and failures in government and military plans to protect the civilian population, which could result in unnecessary risk to human lives and could hamper the army’s ability to wage war as necessary, Shapira wrote.
The comptroller’s figures for Israelis without access to proper bomb shelters come from 2012, the last time such a survey was conducted by the IDF’s Home Front Command, which showed that at the time more than two million Israelis lacked protection against rockets.
There was no indication of how many people may have gained access since then, but there have been no major programs to supply them.
This report, which deals with the country’s current state of preparedness for the missile threat, is not to be confused with an upcoming comptroller report on the government’s failures during the 2014 Gaza war, which will apparently be released later this month.
Declassified IDF Map Shows Hezbollah Installations Embedded in Civilian Areas
A map released Tuesday by the Israel Defense Forces shows the degree to which Hezbollah has embedded itself into the Lebanese civilian population. The map shows hundreds of military emplacements, including weapons depots, rocket launchers, and terror tunnels, that Hezbollah has constructed in preparation for its next war against Israel.
Hezbollah’s deliberate positioning of military infrastructure in Lebanese villages, a tactic that the IDF has called a “war crime,” is consistent with the Iran-backed terror organization’s history of exploiting civilians to launch wars against Israel.
It was reported in 2013 that Hezbollah was paying poor Shi’ite families in southern Lebanon to allow them to store weapons in their homes, effectively making them human shields.
An Israeli defense official told The New York Times in May 2015 that Hezbollah’s buildup in southern Lebanese villages meant that “civilians are living in a military compound….We will hit Hezbollah hard, while making every effort to limit civilian casualties as much as we can…[but] we do not intend to stand by helplessly in the face of rocket attacks.” A few days later, a newspaper linked to Hezbollah confirmed the Israeli assessment.
Hezbollah has “turned the Shiite villages…into essentially missile silos,” Jonathan Schanzer, the vice president for research at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, said in July.
Noting the threat posed by Hezbollah’s extensive rocket arsenal and its placement among civilians, Geoff Corn, an international military law expert at the South Texas College of Law in Houston, observed earlier this year that the resulting devastation from a war with these conditions would “both legally and morally…lie solely at the feet of Hezbollah.”

Liberman: Israel working to thwart WMD transfers to Hezbollah
Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman indicated in a rare admission on Wednesday that Israel has struck targets in Syria to prevent the smuggling of sophisticated weapons to Hezbollah.
Israel, which usually neither confirms nor denies alleged strikes, is “working primarily to protect the security of our citizens, defend our sovereignty, and try to prevent the smuggling of sophisticated weapons, military equipment and weapons of mass destruction from Syria to Hezbollah,” Liberman said.
And while Israel has “no intention to intervene in the civil war in Syria” Liberman, who was meeting with EU diplomats in Jerusalem, stressed that “no matter what the regime in Syria will be in the future, Iran and Assad cannot be part of the arrangement.”
Liberman told the diplomats that “in today’s world it is impossible to rely on the international community and that every country should rely only on itself.”
Report: Hezbollah accuses Israel of striking targets near Damascus
The Syrian regime has accused Israel of launching surface-to-surface missiles targeting the Mezzeh airbase near Damascus early Wednesday morning, causing damage but no casualties.
According to a military source quoted by Syria’s SANA state media “The Israeli enemy launched at 3:00 am Wednesday a number of surface-to-surface missiles from inside the occupied territories to the west of Tall Abu al-Nada (hill) that landed in the surroundings of al-Mezzeh Airport west of Damascus.”
Earlier on Wednesday, Hezbollah accused the Israeli Air Force of striking Mezze west of the Syrian capital close to President Bashar Assad’s palace at around 4 am, causing large explosions but no casualties.
According to Syrian reports the strike would “only make the Syrian Arab Army even more determined to cut off the hands of the terrorists agents of the Zionist entity, which should be held fully responsible for the repercussions and consequences of these criminal attacks.”
Israeli convicted of stabbing a Jew he mistook for an Arab
A Jewish Israeli man was convicted of attempted murder on Wednesday for stabbing another Jewish man whom he mistook for an Arab in October 2015, in a bungled revenge attack.
Shlomo Pinto, from the northern Israeli city of Kiryat Ata, was also convicted of possession of a knife with racist motivations.
His sentencing is scheduled for December 18.
The stabbing took place following numerous Palestinian terrorist attacks against Jews, many of which involved knifes, marking the beginning of a nearly year-long spree of attacks that some pundits dubbed “the knife intifada.”
After deciding to take revenge on Arabs because of the stabbings, Pinto drove to Kiryat Ata, where he approached an Arab man near the Ikea furniture store and asked him if he was Arab. The Arab man was reportedly frightened by the question, and said he was not.
Pinto, satisfied with the answer, moved on. Minutes later, he identified another passerby, a Jew, and, concluding from his appearance that he was Arab, proceeded to stab him in the upper torso.
Uriel Razkan, the stabbing victim whom Pinto mistook for an Arab, recounted the attack to Army Radio.
PreOccupiedTerritory: Damascus Ophthalmologist Denies Complicity In 400,000 Deaths (satire)
An eye doctor accused of involvement the demise of hundreds of thousands of people over the last six years gas categorically denied any such accusation, local media are reporting.
Basher Assad, 51, a London-trained ophthalmologist, told reporters this morning that charges of his engineering or supporting the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Syrians and others are a fabrication, and that if those deaths did occur, they were the fault of terrorists, criminals, and foreign elements that seek to besmirch his professional reputation and exploit the ensuing opportunities for their own gain.
Estimates vary of the total number of deaths allegedly caused by Assad, but experts allege that the vast majority of the 300,000-470,000 premature deaths in Syria since 2011 took place with the tacit or explicit encouragement of the ophthalmologist. The total includes thousands of Lebanese, Palestinians, and other non-Syrian victims, who met their deaths via shooting, bombing, incineration, starvation, disease, exposure, torture, or other violent means.
If confirmed, the allegations would make Dr. Assad a possible second as a murderous practitioner of medicine only to notorious Nazi physician Joseph Mengele, responsible for the infamous “selections” of gas chamber victims at the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp. Few other medical specialists of any sort have had their hand in so many deaths, according to historian Hannibal Lecter.
The Iranian Empire Is Almost Complete
Since the Islamic Revolution in 1979, Iran has been using a number of tools to achieve its foreign policy goal of spreading Shi’ite Islamic revolution and identity throughout Shi’ite communities in the Middle East in order to become the regional hegemon. The country’s nuclear program and its support of “resistance” against Israel were the primary tools used to achieve this goal. The nuclear program was meant to force the international community to recognize Iran’s power and negotiate a deal that would give Iran a free hand in the region in return. And resistance was used to garner popular support and establish a threat to Israel that reflects Iranian power.
From the very beginning, Iran’s goal has been the establishment of a Shi’ite Arab territory that physically links Iran to southern Lebanon via Iraq and Syria. This required Iranian control—mostly by proxy—over three capitals: Baghdad, Damascus, and Beirut.
The Syrian civil war was not good news for Iran and its proxies in the region, but as it dragged on, it provided Iran with an opportunity to accelerate its control over the three capitals and secure the contiguous territory it needs. While the international community is consumed with fighting ISIS, Iran is almost done fortifying its greater Shi’ite territory.
One cannot understand Iran’s imperialist intentions and the means by which it plans to accomplish them without understanding Shi’ism itself.
Scarborough Eviscerates Iran Nuclear Deal
MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough on Wednesday lambasted the Iran nuclear deal that the Obama administration struck with Tehran and five other world powers last summer.
Scarborough read an excerpt of a story from the New York Times about a speech given by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani during which he discussed the nuclear accord to a crowd chanting “death to America.”
“I’m so glad we gave them billions and billions of dollars and so glad we did that nuke deal with them, really,” Scarborough said on his show Morning Joe. “I think we’re in better shape now with Iran than we were because, you know, at least they’re not burning the American flag while they’re screaming death to America to the president’s delight.”
Columnist Mike Barnicle and co-host Mika Brzezinski attempted to defend the deal against Scarborough’s charges. Scarborough responded that Iran has been “the epicenter of terrorism since 1979” and that the Islamic Republic’s moderate leaders are not actually moderate.
The State Department and intelligence community both named Iran the world’s foremost state sponsor of terrorism earlier this year.


Expert: If Volkswagen Subsidiary Does Business in Iran, Nazi-Founded Company Will Once Again Have Turned to Financial Enrichment Via Genocide
The plans of a Volkswagen-owned vehicle manufacturer to do business with Iran are morally troubling given the German automotive giant’s Nazi roots, an investigative journalist and expert on Nazi economic history told The Algemeiner on Tuesday.
“For Volkswagen’s Czech Skoda subsidiary to make industrial pick-up trucks that could enable the advancement of the nuclear program that Tehran promises will destroy the Jewish people, this would ensure history’s determination that this company, Volkswagen, has once again turned to financial enrichment via genocide,” Edwin Black — author of the 2001 book IBM and the Holocaust: The Strategic Alliance between Nazi Germany and America’s Most Powerful Corporation — said.
“There is no wiggle room for Volkswagen and Skoda,” Black said. “Iran is a rogue nation which clearly prioritizes the enhancement of its nuclear program in every economic and industrial decision it makes.”
Volkswagen, Black explained, was “created in the 1930s by Adolf Hitler as a gift to the people of Nazi Germany, who overwhelmingly could not afford expensive cars. It was a pure Nazi invention for a pure Nazi purpose.”
It is estimated that 80% of Volkswagen’s workforce during World War II was comprised of slave laborers, many of whom were Jews. In the 1990s, Volkswagen acknowledged it had used slave labor during the war and set up a $12 million fund to compensate surviving workers.




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