Friday, March 24, 2017

From Ian:

Ruthie Blum: Westminster Carnage, Turkish Delight
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan didn’t know he was going to get so lucky on Wednesday, when a threat he issued instantly materialized.
Indeed, the Islamist leader of the former modernizing democracy was probably happily amazed at the news of the terrorist attack in London, as it came on the heels of a speech he delivered in Ankara warning, “[i]n no part of the world, no European, no Westerner will be able to take steps on the street safely and peacefully.” This fate would befall them, he said, if they “continue to behave like this.”
Of course, Erdogan was not personally responsible for the rampage of UK-born Khalid Masood, who managed to murder three people before being killed by police. Nor had he specified what he meant by claiming that the West would not be safe.
He did, however, caution that Turkey is “not a country to push, to prod, to play with its honor, to shove its ministers out of the door, drag its citizens on the floor.” He had a point; it is only Erdogan and his goons who are at liberty to drag Turkish citizens on the floor.
This was not the point he was trying to make, however. No, Erdogan denies that he imprisons anyone he considers critical of his regime. But he has to do that when he spends so much time accusing Europe of human-rights abuses.
Douglas Murray: Pray for London, for Antwerp, for Nice: this is Europe’s new normal
The hashtag ‘PrayForLondon’ is trending on social media. But so is ‘Antwerp’. Because no sooner were we invited to pray for London than a man of ‘North African descent’ was narrowly prevented from doing something similar in the Belgian city. This is life as usual in Europe now, of course. But among the endless replays to date – and the endless replays yet to come – there are several things worth noting about Wednesday’s attack in London.
The first is that the perpetrator – now identified as one Khalid Masood – was in one sense unusual. A recent comprehensive analysis published by my colleague Hannah Stuart found that among Islamist-related offences in the UK the most common age of the offender was 22. So at 52 years old Khalid Masood was some decades older than the average attacker. Although this is wholly speculative, that is a possible reason why he avoided being regarded as an imminent threat by MI5. There has only been one other individual in the UK who has sought to participate in remotely similar acts at Masood’s age.
The second thing worth noting is that by the jihadists’ own lights Masood’s attack was an expression of failure. It demonstrated once again that people inspired by Isis in the UK aren’t able to get hold of the kind of munitions they would like. Put another way, the fact that Wednesday’s attacker used a car and a knife is not a demonstration of operational strength.
After more than a decade of bomb plots successfully thwarted by our police and security services, the mass casualty bomb attack remains out of reach for Isis supporters in Britain. Likewise, although Isis recruits have been able to attack Paris with Kalashnikov rifles, a mix of geographical good luck and hard work by the authorities has meant Isis supporters have not been able to acquire such arms in the UK. Had they been, then Westminster would have been the scene of even greater carnage on Wednesday. This is not entirely good news, of course. For as in Israel in recent years, while vehicle and knife attacks show that the terrorists can’t get hold of anything else, the downside is that anyone can get hold of such weapons and there is not very much that the authorities can do to stop them.
Melanie Phillips: In the midst of grief, still confusion
In the aftermath of yesterday’s dreadful terror attack on the Palace of Westminster, which has so far left four victims dead and around 40 people injured, many of them seriously, the Prime Minister Theresa May today addressed the House of Commons.
Among other remarks by Mrs May which struck the right tone of steely calm, there was however this exchange. A Conservative MP, Michael Tomlinson, said:
“It is reported that what happened yesterday was an act of Islamic terror. Does the Prime Minister agree that what happened was not Islamic, just as the murder of Airey Neave was not Christian, and that both were perversions of religion?”
To which the Prime Minister answered:
“I absolutely agree. It is wrong to describe what happened as Islamic terrorism; it is Islamist terrorism—a perversion of a great faith.”
To which one can only groan, head in hands: here we go again. Since 9/11 the British political establishment has refused to acknowledge that the jihadi terrorism being conducted in the name of Islam is actually inspired by… Islam. Islamic jihadi terror has instead been called “un-Islamic” or even “anti-Islamic” or “ a perversion of Islam” or “a warped ideology”. Everything but what it actually is: terrorism inspired by a fanatical but legitimate interpretation of Islam.
This Week - London Terror Attack tribute to Keith Palmer

‘Suddenly, Tranquil London Was Like Jerusalem,’ Recounts Bereaved Israeli Mother of Two Fallen IDF Soldiers Upon Witnessing UK Parliament Terror Attack Aftermath
Israeli educator Miriam Peretz — a bereaved mother of two fallen IDF soldiers — was an eyewitness on Wednesday to the aftermath of the deadly terrorist rampage next to the British Parliament building in central London, the Hebrew news site nrg reported.
Peretz was visiting London on behalf of the Jewish Agency and was on her way to meet with Israeli Ambassador to the UK Mark Regev when she came across the scene of the incident, the report said.
“The sirens and hysteria reminded me of attacks in Jerusalem,” she was quoted as telling Israel’s Army Radio. “Suddenly, tranquil London was like Jerusalem. I can’t say I wasn’t scared or that the thought of ‘God, why are you chasing me with these disasters?’ didn’t cross my mind. But thank God, we are ok.”
“The world is learning,” she went on to say, “that attacks take place not only in Israel, but all over the globe. Coping [with terrorism] is not just for Israel, but also for England, France and the US.”
Despite her close brush with Wednesday’s attack, Peretz plans to stay in London through Saturday. Her time in the UK is being filled with meetings with British Jews, including students.
Terror, Not Donald Trump Jr., Is the Problem
On Wednesday, London was attacked. Just before 3 p.m. in the British capital, a terrorist drove a vehicle at high speed down the Westminster Bridge toward Parliament, running over pedestrians along the way. In an attempt to gain entry to Parliament, the man stabbed and killed a police officer before being shot to death. Forty people were injured in the assault. Three died 9 [now]. The attack occurred on the one-year anniversary of a deadly ISIS-linked incident in Brussels. It happened as an anti-ISIS coalition of Middle Eastern leaders met in Washington D.C. and as militias prepare for the siege of the Islamic State capital, Raqqa. Hours later, ISIS took credit for the attack.
Londoners have a right to be furious, but many have chosen a misguided target for their ire: Donald Trump Jr. With artless timing, the son of the American president took to his Twitter account on Wednesday to criticize London’s mayor, Sadiq Khan. “You have to be kidding me?!,” the Trump family scion wrote, linking to an article published in the autumn of 2016. “Terror attacks are part of living in big city, says London Mayor Sadiq Khan.” In the interview, Khan described how preventing acts of terror was his priority as mayor, but he added that the threat of terror was “part and parcel of living in a big city.”
Rather than direct their outrage at the terrorists who attacked their city or the mayor who had advised them to make their peace with such events, the British are directing their rage at Trump. “You’re a disgrace,” wrote Minister of Parliament Wes Streeting. “Is this helpful,” asked Britain’s Channel 4 journalist, Ciaran Jenkins. “Did you even read the article before goading London’s Mayor during a live incident?” The BBC quoted “many British people on Twitter” who were “incensed” by the tweet. When asked for a response to Trump’s tweet, Mayor Khan said that he had more important matters on his mind. CNN described this dismissive response as “London mayor shuts down Trump Jr. tweet.”
All this may be forgivable in a moment of national psychological trauma, and Donald Trump Jr. did himself no favors with his ill-timed attack on London’s mayor, but this outrage amounts to projection. The sentiment Khan expressed is not an uncommon one on the left. He is hardly the first liberal political figure to advise the public to get used to terrorism as they would unfortunately destructive weather events.
Will Jeremy Corbyn condemn the shooting of Khalid Masood?
Will Jeremy Corbyn have the courage of his stated convictions and condemn the killing of Khalid Masood by armed police yesterday?
Corbyn has stated on record that he was “not happy” with police or security services operating a “shoot to kill” policy in the event of a terror attack.
In November 2015, Jeremy Corbyn was asked by the BBC’s political editor Laura Kuenssberg whether he would be happy to order police or the military to shoot to kill if there an attack on Britain’s streets similar to the ones in France.
Corbyn answered: “I’m not happy with the shoot-to-kill policy in general – I think that is quite dangerous and I think can often can be counterproductive.”
In the aftermath of yesterday’s attack on Westminster, the Labour Party leader has issued only a short and bland statement about being “united in adversity” and thanking the police for their “bravery”. But he appears to have completely forgotten his previous stated position. Or, when put to the test, his courage has failed him.
Was Khalid Masood Eliminated Elor Aazariah-style?
An IDF soldier, Elor Azariah, shot dead a neutralized terrorist in Hebron last year.
After stabbing a soldier, the terrorist was wounded, seriously, and then Azariah, claiming he felt threatened by perceived movement by the terrorist, shot him dead. It sent off a storm in Israel, politicians' declarations, and a trial.
What happened in London on Wednesday?
A terrorist rammed dozens of pedestrians, stabbed a policemen (who died), was shot and seriously wounded.
But was he shot after wounded and on the ground? By two policemen?
Italy: ‘North African’ Arrested After Driving at Police, Stabbing Officer
A “North African” migrant has attempted to ram police with a car in a southern Italian town Wednesday, before attacking and injuring an officer with a knife.
Italian press said the attack in the Railway neighbourhood of Foggia “recalls the dynamics” of Wednesday’s attack in Westminster, London, which saw three people killed.
According to Repubblica, the “African citizen” failed to stop at a police checkpoint and ran over the foot of an officer. As he attempted to escape in his vehicle, he crashed into a parked lorry.
He then emerged from the immobilised car and launched a knife attack on officers, stabbing and wounding one in the hand.
Absurdity of BBC’s ‘Language when Reporting Terrorism’ guidance on display again
As was noted here (Reviewing BBC reporting of vehicular attacks in France and Israel) when a vehicular terror attack took place in Nice in July 2016, terror attacks using vehicles have not been afforded the same clarity of description by the BBC when perpetrated against Israelis.
When four people were murdered in a vehicular attack in Jerusalem in January 2017, the BBC did stick to its guideline of only using the word terror with attribution and avoiding the term itself.
Likewise, the BBC consistently refrains from using the word terror to describe stabbing attacks on Israeli civilians or members of the security forces.
When the BBC does manage to report terror attacks in London, Nice, Berlin, Brussels or Paris using appropriate language, its long-standing editorial policy of eschewing accurate terminology in coverage of Palestinian attacks on Israelis becomes even more discordant and the redundancy of its inconsistently applied guidelines and guidance is highlighted all the more.
Those guidelines are clearly in need of serious review if the BBC wants its audiences to believe that its reporting is impartial.
Yes, the Jew Who Called in Bomb Threats Was Anti-Semitic
On March 1, I penned a column excoriating Donald Trump and other mainstream conservatives for suggesting attacks on Jewish sites—bomb threats, vandalism, and otherwise—were false flag attacks designed to discredit the right.
Later that week, Juan Thompson—a former journalist for the left-wing outlet The Intercept—became the first man arrested for calling in some of these threats, allegedly in the hopes that he could blame his ex-girlfriend for the crime. Clearly, I lack the gift of timing.
Today, Israeli officials announced the arrest of a 19-year-old with dual Israeli-American citizenship who is alleged to have been behind many of the remaining bomb calls. For anti-Semites, it is a glorious moment (indeed, the anti-Semites are not hard to identify: they’re the ones who are more ecstatic that the perpetrator was Jewish than they are relieved that he was caught.)
For Jews, by contrast, this is agonizing. First having to endure these threats, we must now also deal with the painful knowledge that many of them were acts of betrayal. Likewise, all of us know we will as a class lose credibility for the actions of one deranged member. It is difficult to fathom a greater act of treason against the Jewish people than what this man did. It was all I could do not to keep thinking of Cynthia Ozick’s curse against Simon Wiesenthal’s SS officer in The Sunflower: “Let [him] die unshriven. Let him go to hell. Sooner the fly to God than he.”
But now we must deal with the aftermath. I am grateful that the perpetrator has been caught; I hope it signals the end of this terrible moment in Jewish history. Still, there continues to be much we don’t know. In particular, the suspect’s motive has not been revealed; there is some talk that he is mentally ill. But even at this juncture, there is something we can say with absolute confidence:
The man who did this was anti-Semitic.
Online slip-up led police to JCC bomb threat suspect
The Israeli-American teenager arrested Thursday as the main suspect in a string of hoax bomb threats against Jewish institutions across the US and elsewhere appears to have made a key slip-up that led police to track him down, after months of evasion.
Israeli police described the suspect, an 18-year-old resident of the southern Israeli city of Ashkelon, as a hacker but said his motives were still unclear.
The Daily Beast reported Thursday that the youth used a number of sophisticated technologies, including Google Voice and spoofing technology to mask his IP when making the threats and remained untraceable for some time.
Over time, according to the report, he grew careless and failed on at least one occation to route his intenet connection through a proxy, leaving behind a real IP address traced back to Israel.
The location was traced to a nearby Wi-Fi access point the suspect was reaching via a large antenna pointing out his window.
York U Evacuated After Bomb Threat Targeting Jewish Campus Community Discovered Scrawled on Bathroom Wall
A written bomb threat targeting the Jewish community at Canada’s York University prompted the evacuation of campus buildings on Wednesday, though no explosive devices were discovered.
The threat — along with antisemitic graffiti — was found on the wall of a men’s bathroom on the school’s Glendon campus.
Toronto Police Constable Victor Kwong told Jewish human rights group B’nai Brith Canada that since March 8, there have been seven racially motivated incidents at the Glendon campus.
“Not all of them have targeted Jewish people. There have been scribbles and graffiti in bathrooms against blacks and Muslims, too. We think one person is responsible for this and he is desperately attempting to get attention,” he said. “Every time we get a call of a bomb threat, we treat it as the highest priority, which is why the building has been evacuated on a few occasions.”
Michael Mostyn, chief executive officer of B’nai Brith Canada, said in a statement Wednesday’s incident at York “is merely the latest pattern of outrageous attacks against Jewish students on Canadian campuses.”
ADL: Arrest of bomb threat suspect doesn’t allay anti-Semitism concerns
After Israeli police arrested a Jewish Israeli teenager Thursday suspected of calling in dozens of bomb threats to Jewish community centers and other institutions around the country, the Anti-Defamation League warned against minimizing the extent of anti-Semitism in the United States.
“Even though it appears that the main culprit behind the majority of these attacks has allegedly been identified, anti-Semitism in the US remains a very serous concern,” the group’s CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said in a statement. “No arrests have been made in three cemetery desecrations of a serious of other anti-Semitic incidents involving swastika graffiti and hate fliers. JCCs and other institutions should not relax security or become less vigilant.”
Since January, nearly 150 bomb threats have hit JCCs, Jewish day schools and other institutions, causing the evacuation of dozens of Jewish community centers and prompting some parents to remove their children from JCC programs.
The threats have come in repeated waves, via phone and email, and many of the institutions have been targeted more than once.
Is Trump owed an apology after the JCC bomb threat arrest? Is anybody?
Literally within seconds of the news of the arrest in Israel of an Israeli-American teenager for the bulk of the JCC bomb threats, Twitter lit up with Jewish anxiety.
“[I] fear the inevitable backlash from haters who we whipped [into] a frenzy for our own nefarious political aims” is how someone responded to the JTA story about the arrest.
A colleague’s friend wrote, “And now people will have another excuse to not take anti-Semitism seriously.”
The shock and anxiety inspired by news of the arrest were understandable. After all, anti-Semitic organizations and websites keep tallies of “false flag” anti-Semitic attacks carried out by Jews in order to discredit the very idea that anti-Semitism exists. (Such incidents are few and far between, and pale next to the actual tally of attacks on people and property, but never mind.)
But the JCC bomb threat hoax wasn’t just an isolated swastika daubing — it was an ongoing story affecting Jewish institutions in nearly every American Jewish community. It shaped a communal narrative that something ugly and insidious was happening out there. And it fueled a political crisis among most American Jewish organizations and the White House, with the former accusing the latter of taking too long to denounce anti-Semitism and to comfort Jews traumatized by the bomb threats and at least two major cemetery desecrations.
Line for apologies to @realDonaldTrump over JCC threats forms on the Left
This arrest is consistent with earlier reports, NYPD: Single Caller May Be Behind Most Jewish Community Bomb Threats.
The other arrest in JCC threats was made in early March of disgraced liberal journalist Juan Thompson. Thompson allegedly made threats to JCCs and the ADL in a manner trying to frame his former girlfriend, What We Know About Juan Thompson, Arrested for Threats Against Jews.
So what we have is a Jewish Israeli-American teenager and a liberal journalist responsible for all or most of the bomb threats.
Yet Donald Trump was raked over the coals by liberals, particularly liberal Jewish organizations and activists, for allegedly fomenting a culture of anti-Semitism that led to the bomb threats. Yet it was a false narrative.
I don’t have time today to name names, but that’s going to happen. It needs to happen. Groups like the Anne Frank Center (US), which last year reconfigured itself focus its efforts on social justice activism, have done great damage to the fight against real anti-Semitism by trying to use the JCC threats as a political hammer against Trump.
There need to be apologies. The line forms on the Left.
Joel Pollak: ADL Owes Trump Supporters an Apology
The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has led a campaign of defamation over the last several months, involving false claims of bigotry, and targeting President Donald Trump; his adviser, Steve Bannon; and Breitbart News.
The charges were false, but that did not stop the ADL from making them, whether directly or indirectly — nor did it stop the wide array of organizations, inside and outside the Jewish community, who, relying on the ADL’s authority, echoed those claims for political purposes.
Now the whole narrative has fallen apart.
On Thursday, Israeli authorities announced that they had arrested a 19-year-old Jewish dual U.S.-Israeli citizen, who happens to be Jewish, for carrying out “most” of the antisemitic bomb threats against Jewish community centers across the country and around the world. Not only were these “hate crimes” hoaxes, but they appear to have been perpetrated by a fellow member of the Jewish community, for motives that have yet to be made clear.
The arrest is deeply damaging to the fight against antisemitism, which remains a real and very dangerous phenomenon. Future antisemitic threats may not be taken as seriously because of the way these were allegedly faked, and who faked them.
Caroline Glick: Trump’s greatest deal
The Iran deal Trump needs to make with the Russians is clear.
What can be done about Iran? In Israel, a dispute is reportedly raging between the IDF and the Mossad about the greatest threat facing Israel. IDF Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Gadi Eisenkot thinks that Hezbollah is the greatest threat facing Israel. Mossad Director Yossi Cohen thinks Iran’s nuclear program is the greatest danger facing the Jewish state.
While the media highlight the two men’s disagreement, the underlying truth about their concerns has been ignored.
Hezbollah and Iran’s nuclear program are two aspects of the same threat: the regime in Tehran.
Hezbollah is a wholly owned subsidiary of the regime. If the regime disappeared, Hezbollah would fall apart. As for the nuclear installations, in the hands of less fanatical leaders, they would represent a far less acute danger to global security.
So if you undermine the Iranian regime, you defeat Hezbollah and defuse the nuclear threat.
If you fail to deal with the regime in Tehran, both threats will continue to grow no matter what you do, until they become all but insurmountable.
So what can be done about Tehran? With each passing day we discover new ways Iran endangers Israel and the rest of the region.
Israeli official denies US demanding freeze in isolated settlements
A senior Israeli official on Thursday denied reports that the Trump administration has demanded Israel stop all construction in isolated West Bank settlements and put curbs on new building inside the major settlement blocs.
According to Wednesday’s reports, the terms were laid out by US President Donald Trump’s Special Envoy for International Negotiations Jason Greenblatt in a pair of lengthy meetings with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last week on Israeli settlement activity.
Israeli and US officials have been engaging in ongoing talks in efforts to reach an understanding on construction in the West Bank, since Trump last month asked Netanyahu to “hold back” on settlements.
“The reports concerning Mr. Greenblatt’s visit to Israel and any purported US demands of Israel in talks regarding the settlements are false,” the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
The official said a statement on the status of the negotiations between Jerusalem and Washington would be provided later Thursday.
After more deadlocked talks, White House expresses ‘concerns’ with settlement building
After four days of high-level discussions between the Trump administration and an Israeli delegation, which concluded Thursday, no agreement has been forged regarding Israel’s ongoing settlement construction, an issue that concerns US President Donald Trump, the Trump administration indicated Thursday evening.
“The United States delegation reiterated President Trump’s concerns regarding settlement activity in the context of moving towards a peace agreement,” according to a joint readout of the talks. “The Israeli delegation made clear that Israel’s intent going forward is to adopt a policy regarding settlement activity that takes those concerns into consideration.”
The two sides said they will continue to engage in dialogue over Israel’s continued building in disputed areas of East Jerusalem and the West Bank. They described the discussions as “serious and constructive, and they are ongoing.”
Trump publicly asked Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in February to “hold back on settlements for a little bit.”
Top Republican senator Not time for ‘splashy’ peace talks
Fresh from a visit to the region, Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) cautioned the Trump administration against rushing into a new, highly publicized round of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.
Cotton, who will be speaking at the annual Jerusalem Post Conference in New York on May 7, told the Post this week that neither Israelis nor Palestinians are interested in a peace process along the lines of what former secretary of state John Kerry tried to orchestrate in 2013 and 2014, when he spent much of his time shuttling between sides in the hope of getting both to the same table.
“The timing for a splashy, high-profile, new set of a negotiations does not seem to be right,” Cotton said. “Quiet confidence- building measures might be appropriate.”
But the senator, who this week traveled to Lebanon, Jordan and Israel for security consultations, acknowledged the fluid nature of the political environment in which Palestinians now find themselves. He questioned whether Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is a true partner for peace, or the last, best hope for a comprehensive agreement, given the apparent dearth of moderate leaders waiting in the wings.
“It’s hard to predict the internal maneuvering of internal Palestinian politics,” Cotton said, but predicted there will be a short period of stasis after Abbas leaves office followed by a “jockeying for power.”
Merkel: 'No reasonable alternative' to two-state solution
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Friday she was concerned about Israel's building of settlements in the West Bank, which she said was undermining progress towards a two-state solution for Israel and the Palestinians.
Israel is building settlements in the West Bank and east Jerusalem, where Palestinians want to establish their state and capital.
"As before, I see no reasonable alternative to the goal of a two-state solution," Merkel told reporters before holding talks with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Berlin.
On the issue of the settlements, she added: "I am very concerned about developments in the West Bank, which are leading to an erosion of the basis for a two-state solution."
US Holocaust Museum to award Angela Merkel with top honor named for Elie Wiesel
The US Holocaust Memorial Museum will bestow its highest honor, the Elie Wiesel Award, on German Chancellor Angela Merkel for her work advancing Holocaust awareness.
“Chancellor Merkel has demonstrated an unwavering commitment to making the preservation of Holocaust memory a priority for Germany,” said Tom Bernstein, who chairs the council governing the museum, in a release Thursday.
“The Museum has partnered with the German government and institutions on many initiatives, and those partnerships have only grown deeper and more fruitful under Chancellor Merkel.”
Merkel was instrumental in 2011 in overcoming the reluctance among the 11 nations that run the International Tracing Service, the Germany-based documentation center of Nazi atrocities, to opening up its archives.
She will receive the award on April 24 during the museum’s National Tribute Dinner, which takes place on Yom Hashoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day, in Washington, D.C. Merkel will accept the honor by video from Germany.
With Only Two Democrats Voting in Favor, Senate Confirms David Friedman as Next US Ambassador to Israel
Attorney David Friedman was confirmed by the Senate on Thursday to be the next US ambassador to Israel.
President Donald Trump’s nomination of Friedman was approved by a 52-46 vote. Only two Democratic senators – Bob Menendez of New Jersey and Joe Manchin of West Virginia supported the confirmation.
“We strongly applaud the Senate in approving David Friedman as our next ambassador to Israel,” the Republican Jewish Coalition said in a statement. “As someone deeply versed in the issues affecting the region, as well as being a long time confidant of President Trump, Mr. Friedman will be an effective and important voice representing the United States. With Mr. Friedman as our new ambassador, there is no question that the relationship between the US and Israel will grow stronger.”
Christians United for Israel (CUFI) also hailed the Senate vote, with Pastor John Hagee — CUFI’s founder and chairman — saying that Friedman was “the right man for this extremely challenging post.”
“We look forward to working with Amb. Friedman and the entire Trump team to advance our shared goal of strengthening the US-Israel relationship,” Hagee went on to say.
Zionist Organization of America National President Morton A. Klein said, “This is a great day for America, Israel, the Jewish people, and Amb. David Friedman. He will be the most pro-Israel pro-America ambassador to Israel in history. He is the first US ambassador to Israel that has a realistic, rational view of the issues affecting all the parties there.”
10 Questions for Bill English on NZ’s ‘longstanding policy’.
After months of evasion, the New Zealand Prime Minister, Bill English, has finally admitted, in response to another question from Winston Peters about UN Security Council Resolution 2334 in Parliament earlier this week, that the resolution was not put to cabinet for approval. It did not need to be, English said, because it was in line with “longstanding policy”, a refrain we have now heard repeatedly from the Government.
However, Shalom.Kiwi has already shown how the resolution was not in line with longstanding policy. The “longstanding policy” mantra does not become more convincing by repetition. Here are 10 questions that reveal how dramatic a departure from previous policy McCully’s resolution was:
When did the NZ government…
1) …declare that East Jerusalem (including the Temple Mount, Western Wall, Hadassah hospital, and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem) is “occupied Palestinian territory”?
Resolution 2334 potentially criminalises Jews living in the ancient Jewish Quarter, rebuilt after the destruction during the years of Jordanian occupation (1948-67) and makes it illegal for Jews to pray at the Western Wall, the surviving structure of the Second Temple – Judaism’s most holy site. The resolution is in-keeping with a Palestinian strategy of using international organisations to deny any Jewish connection to the Holy Land but it is not NZ foreign policy. In fact, it is ahistorical.
2) …start supporting BDS?
When asked about the anti-Israel Boycotts, Divestments, and Sanctions movement (BDS), Murray McCully said
“I think the move to try and exclude Israel from business activity and the move to try and exclude Israel from engagement in international institutions and normal diplomatic activity is hugely counterproductive.”
However, Resolution 2334 – specifically provision 5 – advances BDS by urging countries to “distinguish, in their relevant dealings, between the territory of the State of Israel and the territories occupied since 1967”. While sanctions on Israel may be called for by terror-sympathising academics, it is not sound government policy and is out of step with previous New Zealand policy.
Netanyahu to Times of Israel Chinese: I hope Beijing’s ‘superb’ relations with Israel will affect its UN votes
Israel’s increasingly strong economic relations with China may yet change the country’s traditionally anti-Israel voting patterns at international organizations such as the United Nations, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in an interview for The Times of Israel’s Chinese site on Wednesday.
Speaking to ToI’s diplomatic correspondent Raphael Ahren and Chinese editor Yifeng Zhou as he wrapped up his visit to Beijing, Netanyahu said he raised the issue during his meeting with China’s President Xi Jinping. “It is my hope that over time we’ll see a greater consonance between China’s superb relations with Israel on the bilateral side and its votes in multinational forums,” Netanyahu said.
Interviewed by The Times of Israel on the 18th floor of Beijing’s St. Regis hotel, the prime minister made no claim to have changed China’s views on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the Iranian nuclear agreement, which are markedly at odds with Israel’s own. But he did see bilateral relations strengthening, and noted that “President Xi said he believes that strong economic ties help diplomacy.”
Algemeiner Editor-in-Chief: China Should Stay Out of Peacemaking, Focus on Business Ties With Israel
While Chinese President Xi Jinping called for a two-state solution “as soon as possible” during his meeting in Beijing this week with visiting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Middle East peacemaking is not a priority for the Asian power, the editor-in-chief of The Algemeiner said in an interview with i24 News on Tuesday.
“China is not leading on this issue, even though they’re speaking to the issue now” Dovid Efune told “Clearcut” anchorwoman Michelle Makori. “They are best sticking out of this, focusing on business in the Israeli relationship.”
Furthermore, Efune noted, “On the Israeli-Palestinian issue, there never really has been another serious player besides for the US, and I don’t think that’s very likely to change. Even if China is becoming more vocal, on the ground they just don’t have the infrastructure and the resources to have that serious influence.”
At his meeting with Xi, Netanyahu said, “We admire China’s capabilities, its position on the world stage and in history. We have always believed, as we discussed on my previous visit [in May 2013], that Israel can be a partner, a junior partner, but a perfect partner for China in the development of a variety of technologies that change the way we live, how long we live, how healthy we live, the water we drink, the food we eat, the milk that we drink — in every area. There are vast and rapid changes in technology, which Israel excels in that we believe that we could cooperate in.”
Palestinians, Jordanians and Israelis team up to combat earthquake risk
With the border area with Jordan at high risk for earthquakes, Israeli institutions are collaborating with the Jordanian Red Crescent and Hebron’s Greenland Association to train local residents as first responders in the event of such a catastrophe.
The joint project, called “Community Emergency Response Teams,” was conceived by Ben-Gurion University, the European Union and Magen David Adom.
Limited access and rough terrain after an earthquake mean that rescue teams may take some time to arrive.
This training will give residents tools to provide first aid, shelter and psycho-social support before professional rescue teams appear. Participants underwent a 100-hour course on subjects such as needs assessment, first aid, shelter, hygiene promotion, psycho-social support, search and rescue, firefighting and community resilience.
The teams will be scattered along the Jordan River bank in Israel’s Emek Hama’ayanot region, Hevel Eilot region and Kuseife, a Beduin town. Similar training took place simultaneously in Palestinian and Jordanian communities. First-response teams throughout the region will also be prepared to assist one another in case of an emergency.
IDF forces kill Palestinian throwing Molotov cocktails
IDF troops opened fire on a group of four Palestinians who were throwing Molotov cocktails at the Samaria Jewish community of Beit El on Thursday, killing one and wounding the other three, the IDF and Palestinian health officials reported.
A Palestinian health source said the fatality was a 17-year-old male and that one of the wounded assailants was in critical condition at a hospital in Ramallah.
An IDF spokeswoman said the incident began when the assailants got out of a car and began throwing Molotov cocktails at Beit El. When Israeli troops opened fire at them, the got back into the car and fled, the spokeswoman said.
Ramallah Governor Laila Ghanam denied that the group had been throwing Molotov cocktails, saying they had been driving peacefully toward the Al-Jalazoun refugee camp.
JCPA: Mahmoud Abbas Against Freedom of Expression
The political behavior of Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas in relation to the Palestinian opposition is no different from any other ruler in an Arab country. In other words, this is another dictator who knows how to suppress his opponents using various pretexts.
Abbas’ bitter rivalry with Mohammad Dahlan and the deep hatred Abbas has towards Dahlan has resulted in some unusual steps, the latest of which was a directive given by the Palestinian Foreign Ministry to all the PLO representatives abroad to restrict the activities of Dahlan in Europe because of a conference he organized two weeks ago in Paris.
Political rivalry is normal and legitimate, but the PA chairman crossed “red lines” by setting his security forces against his political opponents, at the head of which is Dahlan – just as tyrants do in dictatorships.
In recent weeks, Abbas’ security forces have been working to locate hundreds of Palestinian youths who participated in several conferences organized by Dahlan for Fatah activists in Ein a-Sukhna, Egypt.
Some of the students were located and interrogated, and ten of them were transferred to administrative detention, accused of having attempted to co-operate with Egyptian intelligence in an attempt to overthrow the PA chairman.
PreoccupiedTerritory: Palestinians Relinquish All Claims Against Israel (satire)
The Palestinian Authority announced today that it is relinquishing all territorial claims against Israel, and that it encourages all Palestinians in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem to move elsewhere.
The announcement comes after months of internal wrangling among the Palestinian leadership surrounding efforts to build a government with Hamas, the Islamist movement that controls the Gaza Strip. Hamas trounced the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority in a brief but bloody conflict, taking control of the coastal territory.
Nabil Abu Rudeineh, a Palestinian Authority spokesman, made the announcement at a hastily called press conference at the Muqat’a, the government compound. “After years of struggle, we have finally come to the conclusion that the Palestinian cause is best served by the Palestinian people themselves realizing that really, this is Jewish land,” said Rudeineh. “The best thing for the Palestinian people now is to find countries that would welcome an influx of a motivated, well educated, young people.”
Rudeineh went on to suggest that many countries in Eastern Europe could absorb a Palestinian exodus, considering that they were emptied of Jews in the 1940s. “Poland, especially, should have plenty of space, as they got rid of about three million Jews between 1939 and 1945.”
The idea of Eastern Europe as a home for Palestinians represents a turnabout. For decades, Palestinians, and Arabs in general, had opposed the existence of Israel, often through rhetoric that insisted Jews return to Europe, where political Zionism began in the late nineteenth century.
Egypt's former leader Mubarak freed, six years after overthrow
Hosni Mubarak, the Egyptian president overthrown in 2011 and the first leader to face trial after the Arab Spring uprisings that swept the region, was freed on Friday after six years in detention, his lawyer said.
He left the Maadi Military Hospital in Cairo where he had been detained, heading to his home in Heliopolis.
"Yes, he is now in his home in Heliopolis," Mubarak's lawyer, Farid El Deeb told Reuters when asked if Mubarak had left the hospital. Heliopolis is an upscale neighbourhood where the main presidential palace from which Mubarak once governed is located.
Mubarak was originally sentenced to life in prison in 2012 for conspiring to murder 239 demonstrators during the 18-day revolt - an uprising that sowed chaos and created a security vacuum but also inspired hope for democracy and social justice.
An appeals court ordered a retrial that culminated in 2014 in the case against Mubarak and his senior officials being dropped. An appeal by the public prosecution led to a final retrial by the Court of Cassation, the highest in the country, which acquitted him on March 2.
Senators bring new Iran sanctions bill over missile tests, terrorism
A bipartisan slate of senators has introduced new sanctions targeting Iran for its missile testing and destabilizing actions days before AIPAC’s national conference.
The Countering Iran’s Destabilizing Activities Act of 2017 was introduced Thursday by Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tennessee, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Sen. Robert Menendez, D-New Jersey. Overall, 14 senators, from both parties, co-sponsored the measure.
The act establishes new sanctions targeting Iran’s testing of ballistic missiles and its backing for terrorism, and also seeks to block the property of any entity involved in the sale of arms to or from Iran. It does not reintroduce sanctions lifted from Iran as part of the 2015 nuclear deal.
The bill is timed ahead of the annual American Israel Public Affairs Committee conference taking place March 26-28 in Washington, DC. AIPAC, after two years of tensions with Democrats over Iran policy, and emerging tensions with Republicans over the lobby’s endorsement of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, wants the conference to celebrate its reputation for bipartisanship.
Bipartisanship was a theme in the release announcing the sanctions.
IsraellyCool: Russian Foreign Ministry’s Traveler Advice Is Something To Behold
The Russian Foreign Ministry has published a list of recommendations for citizens traveling the world. Reading the list, you’d think Borat was responsible for writing it.
Here are some of the most helpful.
  • “Comparing a Kenyan to a monkey can cause the very strongest reaction, as can rudely questioning a Kenyan’s mental abilities (knocking yourself on the head, as a gesture during conversation, is considered an insult). If you poke a Kenyan with your finger during conversation, it can also instigate aggression from him.”
  • Russian citizens who do not speak French are strongly recommended to ask for a menu in Russian or English. Attempts to pronounce the names of meals in French without knowledge of the rules of the French language can lead to conflicts.
  • “Canada, where same-sex marriage was long ago legalized and there is a serious ‘obsession’ with gender equality, isn’t the best place for retelling ‘obscene male’ anecdotes and jokes about ‘the non-traditionals.’
And of course, Israel is covered:
“In general, the tolerance threshold for spoken obscenities in Israel is low. Here, you’ll often hear distorted Russian obscenities originally popular among Jewish immigrants to Palestine in the early 20th century. But foreigners are advised to avoid Yiddish colloquialisms (‘putz,’ “schmuck’) and similar Arabic expressions (‘kus ummak,’ ‘sharmuta’), It’s inadmissible to use the word ‘zhid’ [kike] when addressing any Jew, even if he doesn’t understand Russian.
“Visitors to this country should bear in mind Israelites’ extreme sensitivity to virtually any criticism of the state of Israel itself, as well as criticism of any aspects of life in Israel.”

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