Saturday, October 21, 2017

From Ian:

Israel believes rocket fire from Syria may have been deliberate
Israel believes five rockets fired across the border from Syria early Saturday morning may have been deliberately launched at Israel, rather than constituting errant spillover from clashes in Syria, military sources said late Saturday.

Israel fired back into Syria, hitting three rocket launchers, in response to the rocket fire, and warned that further fire would prompt a more intensive response.

Syria, in turn, claimed that Israel had “coordinated” with terror groups, inviting them to fire into Israel as a pretext for the IDF response, and it sent letters of complaint to the United Nations.

The Israeli army said five projectiles were fired at around 5 am, and that four of them fell relatively deep inside Israeli territory. The rockets set off alarms in several locations. They landed in open ground, and caused no injury or damage. One of them landed close to an Israeli residential area.
UN soldiers patrol near the border with Syria in the Golan Heights after projectiles land on the Israeli side of the border, October 21, 2017. (Basel Awidat/Flash90)

Channel 2 news reported that although the IDF officially referred to “spillover” fire in its statements Saturday, there was “a growing sense” in the army that the Syrian fire was deliberate.

There was no fighting going on in Syria at the time of the fire, the TV report said. It added that the area from which the rockets were fired is under the control of the Syrian army. And it noted that the projectiles fell deep inside Israeli territory on the Golan Heights, one after the other, rather than close to the border.
In letter to UN, Syria blames Israel for faking attack to 'justify own aggression'
The Syrian Foreign Affairs Ministry sent two letters to United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Saturday accusing Israel of faking an attack on its own territory following the IDF's aerial attack on Syrian military positions in Quneitra on Saturday morning.

The Israeli military struck the Syrian targets in retaliation after five projectiles were launched at Israel from Syria, with three landing in an open area on the Golan Heights.

"Israel asked terrorists to launch projectiles at its own territory, so it could justify its own attack," the letters to Guterres reportedly charged.

"This new Israeli aggression against the outskirts of Quneitra is a new chapter in the connection between the Israeli occupation and the armed terrorist organizations, and a desperate attempt to support those organizations," the letter read in a blatant accusation but did not specify which terror groups Israel is allegedly collaborating with.

The letter continued to allege that "Syria repeatedly warns of the grave repercussions to the repeated aggressive actions that cannot be explained as anything but support of terror and criminal terror organizations, against Security Council resolutions."

The Syrian Foreign Ministry urged the UN to step up its involvement and to actively condemn Israel for its so-called 'manipulations,' writing to Guterres that "Syria is surprised by the lack of reaction from the Security Council [that isn't calling on Israel] to stop its aggression and isn't condemning it, seeing as it hurts basic UN principles as well as international law."
Corbyn says no to Balfour dinner
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has declined an invitation to attend a dinner to commemorate the centenary of the Balfour Declaration in London next month.

Jonathan Goldstein, chairman of the Jewish Leadership Council, said today it was “deeply unfortunate” Mr Corbyn was not going to the event.

“I do think it will not have been amiss for Mr Corbyn to understand that the Jewish community will have taken great heart and great comfort for seeing him attend such an event because it recognises the right of Israel to exist,” Mr Goldstein said.

He noted Mr Corbyn had also not attended a reception for Labour Friends of Israel during the party conference last month.

But Mr Goldstein said he hoped there would be representation from among the Shadow Cabinet at the dinner.
RELATED: Andrew Neil's Holocaust Educational Trust speech

The Labour Party has been asked to comment.

Earlier this month in an article in the Sunday Times, Mr Goldstein hit out at the Labour party's "utter failure to denounce the pernicious antisemitism that continues to pervade Labour".

Douglas Murray: Should Tariq Ramadan be grateful for French justice?
For many years, the grandson of the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, Tariq Ramadan, has been one of my closest enemies. In Switzerland and France this Islamist dauphin had a slightly hard time establishing his reputation. This was not just due to his poor scholarship (the basis of which lay in a fawning book about his grandad) but also to his double-speak in public debate and (at best) borderline Islamist views. In France these views were most famously exposed in a television debate with Nicolas Sarkozy in which Ramadan infamously could not bring himself to condemn the stoning of adulterers outright, merely calling for a ‘moratorium’ on the punishment.

In Britain, Ramadan had an easier ride – one greased for him by St Anthony’s College Oxford, various departments of government and a range of people in prominent positions who decided that Ramadan was just the sort of Muslim leader Britain needed. Needless to say, I diverged from this view and for years (most recently in Cambridge earlier this year) found myself opposing Ramadan in studios and debating forums.

Now the news emerges from France that the Muslim Salafist turned secularist, Henda Ayari, has reported Tariq Ramadan to the French authorities. The charge against Ramadan – filed at the Rouen prosecutor’s office – accuses him of rape and sexual assault.

I make no judgement. The law will need to take its course. And we shall have to see whether other young women come forward. In the meantime I wonder whether or not Ramadan should be grateful that he will be judged according to the rules of French justice. If he were judged according to the Sharia then his accuser’s word would be worth half that of his own and he could get away from it scot-free even if he is guilty. On the other hand, if he is guilty then French justice could save him from being stoned to death.
Hamas Supporter to Receive Award From Harvard Student Group
He has publicly endorsed Hamas, and secretly schemed with Hamas’ supporters to thwart US-led peace efforts in the Middle East.

Now Nihad Awad is preparing for a prestigious lecture at Harvard University on how “to inspire a deeper engagement with critical social issues on campus and in the wider community.” He is scheduled to be honored on the first weekend of November with the Phillips Brooks House Association’s “Robert Coles ‘Call of Service’ Lecture and Award.” Past recipients of that honor include former Vice President Al Gore and Children’s Defense Fund founder Marian Wright Edelman.

A Harvard release describes Awad as “a leading advocate for justice and mutual understanding, promoting dialogue and empowering American Muslims.”

That’s extraordinarily generous — because Awad’s words and deeds foster mutual enmity, not understanding.

He was a member of the “Palestine Committee” — a Muslim Brotherhood-created network of organizations operating in the United States, with a mission to help Hamas politically and financially. Awad appears on the committee’s telephone list.

Before creating CAIR, Awad ran a second Palestine Committee entity, called the Islamic Association for Palestine (IAP). The IAP served as a Hamas propaganda arm, publishing the terrorist group’s communiques — as well as articles advocating on its behalf. The FBI described his partner at both IAP and CAIR, Omar Ahmed, as a “leader within the Palestine Committee.”
Sickening: U.N. health agency names tyrant Mugabe ‘goodwill ambassador’; rights activists outraged
The non-governmental human rights group UN Watch joined NGOs worldwide in expressing “grave concern” at the U.N. health body’s appointment of Zimbabwe’s dictator as a goodwill ambassador on health, even as his policies have devastated Zimbabwe’s once-prosperous economy, leaving a crumbling health system while Mugabe obtains his own medical assistance outside the country.

“The government of Robert Mugabe has brutalized human rights activists, crushed democracy dissidents, and turned the breadbasket of Africa — and its health system — into a basket-case. The notion that the U.N. should now spin this country as a great supporter of health is, frankly, sickening,” said UN Watch executive director Hillel Neuer.

“Amid reports of ongoing human rights abuses, the tyrant of Zimbabwe is the last person who should be legitimized by a U.N. position of any kind,” said Neuer. Over the past decade, UN Watch has brought numerous Zimbabwean human rights activists to testify on the sidelines of UN conferences.

Speaking on October 18 in Uruguay, WHO director-general Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said he was “honored to announce that President Mugabe has agreed to serve as a goodwill ambassador.” He praised Zimbabwe for “placi[ng] universal health coverage and health promotion at the center of its policies to provide health care to all.”

Tedros in August also thanked Mugabe for his “strong commitment to health.”

Rights activists are outraged.
“Given Mugabe’s appalling human rights record, calling him a Goodwill Ambassador for anything embarrasses WHO and Doctor Tedros,” Iain Levine, program director at Human Rights Watch, commented on Twitter.

A coalition of 24 NGOs present at the conference are “shocked and deeply concerned to hear of this appointment, given President Mugabe’s long track record of human rights violations and undermining the dignity of human beings. Given these systematic abuses and his approach to NCDs and tobacco control in the past,” said the coalition, “President Mugabe’s appointment as WHO Goodwill Ambassador for NCDs cannot be justified.”

“When Mugabe flies to Singapore for special medical treatment, he leaves behind poorly funded health services, which most of their citizens have to rely on,” said Neuer. “It’s a disgraceful show of support — and a terribly-timed award of false legitimacy — for a brutal, corrupt and authoritarian regime.”
WHO tries to defend ‘goodwill’ honor to Mugabe as outrage grows
The World Health Organization on Saturday cited Zimbabwe’s anti-tobacco record and efforts against non-communicable diseases as justifications for making President Robert Mugabe a “goodwill ambassador,” as international criticism of the move mounted.

The UN health agency, led since July by former Ethiopian health minister Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, has asked Mugabe to serve in the role to help tackle NCDs like heart attacks, strokes and asthma across Africa.

The appointment announced earlier this week in Uruguay has triggered confusion and anger by activists who note that Zimbabwe’s healthcare system, like many of its public services, has collapsed under Mugabe’s authoritarian regime.

Britain on Saturday joined the widening chorus of critics, calling the decision “surprising and disappointing, particularly in light of the current US and EU sanctions against him.”

“We have registered our concerns with WHO Director General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus,” a foreign office spokesperson said in an email.

Mugabe’s “appointment risks overshadowing the work undertaken globally by the WHO on Non-Communicable Diseases.”

MP Blasts UK Government For Pushing Business with Iran While British Citizens are Hostages
A British Member of Parliament has accused the government of caring more about lucrative business deals with the Iranian regime than British citizens arbitrarily detained in the Islamic Republic.

In an essay published Wednesday in The IB Times, Tulip Siddiq, the Labour MP for Hampstead and Kilburn, wrote that the government was “unwilling to escalate action any further” to bring home British citizens “so as to not jeopardise the UK’s developing relationship with a state once viewed as irreconcilably hostile.”

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who was visiting family in Iran with her toddler, was detained at Tehran’s airport in April 2016, separated from her child, and charged with the “design and implementation of cyber and media projects to cause the soft toppling of the Islamic Republic.” She was consequently sentenced to five years in prison for being accused of attempting to overthrow the government.

Until recently, conversations of temporary release were ongoing, but earlier this month Iran handed the British-Iranian charity worker new charges.

Since she was arrested at Khomeini Airport last year, Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s physical and mental health has deteriorated and she was denied legal representation. Iran does not recognize dual citizenship and dual nationals like Zaghari-Ratcliffe are denied access to the embassies of their second nationality.
Iran, Syria pledge joint effort to counter ‘Zionist-American schemes’
Concluding a visit to Syria on Saturday, the commander of Iran’s armed forces signed a memorandum of understanding with Syrian officials in which the two allies announced plans for tighter military cooperation and coordination.

The sides agreed to expand cooperation on intelligence, training, technology and against “Zionist-American schemes,” the Ynet news website reported.

Maj. Gen. Mohammad Bagheri, Iran’s chief of staff, has spent several days in Syria, touring war zones and meeting with high-level officials, including President Bashar Assad.

Assad’s meeting with Bagheri focused on bilateral relations in all fields, mainly military cooperation, “which has witnessed a qualitative development during the war that Syria and its allies, mainly Iran, are waging against terrorism” in Syria, state news agency SANA reported.

Iran has been one of Assad’s strongest supporters since the country’s crisis began more than six years ago and has sent thousands of Iranian-backed militiamen to boost his troops against opponents.
Fall of Kirkuk to Iranian-Backed Forces Is Wake-Up Call to Israel, Kurdish General Says
A Kurdish general who previously led Peshmerga fighters in northern Iraq against ISIS terrorists bemoaned on Friday the fall of Kirkuk to an Iranian-backed coalition earlier this week, warning that Israel would eventually become a target of the Tehran regime if the Islamic Republic’s regional ambitions were not effectively checked.

Speaking with journalist Assaf Gabor of the Israeli news outlet Makor Rishon, Gen. Tarek Ahmad-Jaf of the Peshmerga admitted, “We lost Kirkuk, we lost the battle.”

“It’s very unfortunate, even humiliating,” Ahmad-Jaf said.

Ahmed-Jaf reflected that, only a year ago, he had been one of the commanders leading Peshmerga forces in and around Kirkuk, during the successful counter-offensive against ISIS in which Kurdish forces played a central military role.

“I lost 59 commanders and fighters in the battles to liberate the city, and then to protect the residents’ safety,” the general said. “Now I watch television and see the thousands of locals fleeing the Iraqi and Iranian control of the area.”

“It is hard to see the Iraqi flag flying now in place of the Kurdish one,” Ahmed-Jaf continued. “Kirkuk is a Kurdish city that is as important to us as Jerusalem is to the Jews. ”
PM appoints new chief negotiator for release of Israelis held in Gaza
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Saturday appointed Shin Bet veteran Yaron Blum to oversee Israeli efforts to negotiate the return of the Israelis held by the Hamas terrorist group in the Gaza Strip.

Blum is replacing Lior Lotan, who was appointed by Netanyahu to lead negotiations for the release of the remains of IDF soldiers Oron Shaul and Hadar Goldin, who were killed during a 50-day conflict with Hamas in 2014. The terror group is also believed to be holding three live Israeli citizens — Avraham Abera Mengistu, Hisham al-Sayed and Juma Ibrahim Abu Ghanima — who are all said to have entered the Gaza Strip of their own accord.

Lotan resigned the position in August, citing both personal and professional reasons.

Blum has served in the Shin Bet Security Service for many years in a senior capacity, and was instrumental in negotiating the release of IDF solider Gilad Shalit, who had been held in Gaza Strip for 5 years before being released in 2011 as part of a controversial deal with Hamas in which Israel freed over 1,000 Palestinian security prisoners.

Earlier on Saturday, Netanyahu called the families of the Israeli hostages and fallen soldiers to inform them of Blum’s appointment.
Hevron: Jewish boy injured by rock-throwing Arab terrorist
A 12-year-old boy from the Jewish community in Hevron was injured Saturday afternoon when an Arab hurled rocks at the victim and at two other Jewish children in Avraham's Spring.

The large rock caused a cut to the boy's head, and he temporarily lost consciousness, falling into the spring. Miraculously, the boy survived the fall.

According to local reports, the two other children quickly ran to ask a neighbor for medical help for the injured boy.

The unconscious boy was taken to Jerusalem's Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital for treatment. Hospital staff stitched the cuts to the boy's head.

IDF soldier mistakenly enters Palestinian town, returned by PA police
An Israel Defense Forces soldier mistakenly entered a Palestinian town on Friday during a run.

The soldier, who was wearing running clothes and not in uniform, was later returned to his unit by police from the Palestinian Authority.

The incident took place in Beit Ummar, northwest of the southern West Bank city of Hebron.

There were no reports of injury or violence towards the soldier.

A number of soldiers have mistakenly entered Palestinian areas in recent years, with some of them encountering violence. Many of the incidents occurred as a result of the soldiers relying on smartphone navigation apps to get them to their destinations.

Palestinian truck driver: ‘I wanted to run over soldiers because of Al-Aqsa’
A Palestinian man arrested by Israeli police Thursday driving a stolen truck told television news cameras he had sought to use the truck to run over Israeli soldiers, and added that he had no regrets.

Approached by reporters after being brought to a Petah Tikva Court Friday, and asked what had happened, the man, 39, from Ramallah, said: “I took a truck, I [wanted] to run over soldiers because of Al-Aqsa. Because of what you [do] in Al-Aqsa” — referencing longstanding Palestinian allegations that Israel seeks to undermine Muslim authority at Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque. Israel has repeatedly denied any such intentions.

Asked by a reporter if he was sorry for his actions, the man said, “I don’t regret it. If you do that to Al-Aqsa — I don’t regret it… even if I sit in prison.”

To help unity deal, Gaza families get $50,000 payments to end blood feuds
As the rival Palestinian factions Fatah and Hamas move to reconcile, families of loved ones killed in Gaza’s civil war a decade ago are also learning to get along.

With the backing of an exiled former Palestinian security chief, grieving families are agreeing to drop their 10-year-old blood feuds in exchange for $50,000 payments.

The idea is to help Gaza move beyond one of its darkest chapters — the weeklong round of internecine fighting that ended with Hamas’ takeover of the territory in 2007. More than 700 Palestinians were killed in the infighting between the Fatah and Hamas factions, which was characterized by pitched gunbattles on Gaza’s streets and scenes of people being thrown off the rooftops of high-rise buildings.

The project is also giving Mohammed Dahlan, the former Gaza intelligence chief, his most direct involvement in Palestinian affairs since he was forced into exile in 2010 by President Mahmoud Abbas.

At least 54 Egyptian police killed in Islamist ambush
At least 54 policemen, including 20 officers and 34 conscripts, were killed when a raid on jihadist hideouts outside of Cairo escalated into an all-out firefight, authorities said Saturday.

The interior ministry said security forces hunting down Islamist militants in the region were attacked late Friday on a road to the Bahariya oasis, some 200 kilometers (125 miles) southwest of Cairo.

An official statement said a number of the attackers were killed, but did not give any figures for losses on either side.

According to a source close to the security services, the convoy was hit by rocket fire. The attackers also used explosive devices.

There has not yet been a claim of responsibility. A fake claim in the name of the small extremist group Hasm, reported by multiple local media, spread on social media soon after the attack.

Reading International Solidarity Campaign ignores outrage over Atzmon invitation
As reported recently in the Jewish Chronicle, there has been an outcry over the invitation extended by RISC to Atzmon.

Berkshire Jews are “horrified” over the scheduled appearance of an antisemitic author at the Reading International Festival.

Gilad Atzmon, an Israeli jazz musician and writer who has challenged Holocaust denial legislation, is due to appear at the Reading International Solidarity Centre on Sunday.

The event has been billed as the launch of Mr Atzmon’s latest book, Being In Time – A Post Political Manifesto, and is being staged by Reading Friends of Palestine.*

Rabbi Zvi Solomons of the Jewish Community of Berkshire said Mr Atzmon was “a notorious antisemite. He has promoted Holocaust denial, compared Israelis to the Nazis.

“He is not the sort of person any liberal outfit should want to be connected to.”

RISC has so far refused to engage with any of those protesting against the invitation to Atzmon. Yet again we find ourselves asking whether bigotry against any other minority would be treated with such complacency or concern with such disdain?

*Some people have confused this group with Reading PSC. As far as I know they have no involvement in this.

UKMW prompts Guardian correction over columnist omission
However, Millett revealed that the book which included the Blair quote, Gaza: Preparing for Dawn, was written by none other than…Donald Macintyre himself – a fact he chose not to reveal. Millett pointed out that failing to mention his own authorship seems to be a breach of the Guardian’s Editorial Code on Conflicts of Interest and on Declarations of Interest which states:

“Staff should be transparent about any…financial interests that might conflict with their professional performance, or could be perceived to do so….It is always necessary to declare an interest when the journalist is writing about something with which he or she has a significant connection…”

UKMW contacted Observer readers’ editor Stephen Pritchard (by email and twitter) to express our concerns over these ethical issues.

A couple of hours later, Pritchard responded to inform us that he upheld our complaint. The text was changed to note that MacIntyre was indeed quoting from his own book.

Polish Jews protest legislation blocking their right to claim family lands
The Polish government, currently led by the right-wing Peace and Justice Party (PiS), published on Friday a proposed legislation that addresses the issue of private property that was confiscated in Poland after World War II.

The government bill, if passed, would determine who should own properties that were nationalized by the People's Republic of Poland (PRL), which was established in the wake of the war.

Such a bill is likely to have an immense impact on Jewish residents of Poland as well as on Jewish people who do not reside in the country but have inherited property or would like to stake a claim to government-owned properties.

In its current form, the bill requires that claimants to property be citizens living at the moment in Poland. In addition, only first-line heirs can stake a claim to assets.

This demand makes the claim to property much more difficult, if not impossible, for Jewish families, due to the fact that most Jewish people who survived the Holocaust left Poland and neither they nor their offspring currently reside in the country.

Another problematic aspect is that multiple Jewish families were obliterated in the war by the Nazi regime, meaning that in various cases there are no living first-line heirs that could step forward and make a claim to properties that were once owned by their families before the war.

Under the proposed law, Jewish survivors, even if they live in Poland today, would not be entitled to gain anything from the new legislation underway.

Publisher apologises for 'racist' text in medical book
The publishers of a textbook for nurses that has been criticised by social media users for containing racist material, have apologised for the offence caused and removed the offending passages.

Nursing: A Concept-Based Approach to Learning, contains advice for nurses when administering pain relief to people from different ethnic backgrounds.

It begins: "A client's culture influences their response to, and beliefs about pain. Some cultural common differences related to pain are listed here."

The page contains headings for different communities. Here are some of the excerpts:
May not request pain medicine but instead thank Allah for pain if it is the result of the healing medical process.
Pain is considered a test of faith. Muslim clients must endure pain as a sign of faith in return for forgiveness and mercy.
Chinese clients may not ask for medication because they do not want to take the nurse away from a more important task.
Indians who follow Hindu practices believe that pain must be endured in preparation for a better life in the next cycle.
Blacks often report higher pain intensity than other cultures.
They believe suffering and pain are inevitable.
Jews may be vocal and demand assistance.
They believe pain must be shared and validated by others.


Ceremony marks 75 years since key WWII Battle of El Alamein
Delegates from former foes gathered Saturday in the Egyptian town of El Alamein to mark 75 years since the pivotal WWII battle that saw the Allies turn the tables in North Africa.

Officials from 35 nations paid their respects in a ceremony at a Commonwealth cemetery on Egypt’s Mediterranean shore that holds the remains of more than 7,000 soldiers from the victorious British-led force.

In a speech, the British ambassador to Egypt, John Casson, called on those present to remember the fallen from 75 years ago and those who are “still dying” in conflicts today.

The anniversary commemoration was partly overshadowed by an Islamist attack Friday on Egyptian security forces some 250 kilometers (155 miles) to the south that killed dozens of police officers.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi did not attend the main ceremony despite earlier expectations that he would take part, although he was in El Alamein for the commemoration.

“Today’s ceremony is a time to remember the human cost of war, and reflect on the importance of working together to build a more peaceful future,” Alistair Burt, Britain’s junior foreign minister for the Middle East and North Africa, said in a statement.

The World War II Battle of El Alamein — which began on October 23, 1942 — pitched the forces of British Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery’s against the Afrika Korps of Nazi Germany’s Erwin Rommel.

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