Sunday, October 22, 2017

From Ian:

In Syrian barrage, a confident message signed by Iran and Russia
It’s not clear if the sudden barrage of rockets “bleeding” into Israel from Syria Saturday had anything to do with the presence in Damascus of Iran’s defense chief. But given Iran’s seemingly unstoppable drive to entrench itself militarily in the region, the Syrian regime’s newfound confidence, and some other suspicious factors, it’s likely the volley was more than just an accident.

Though inadvertent fire has hit Israel in the past, this incident doesn’t fit that mold, and seems more like a Syrian attempt to send a message. First, there’s the timing — around 5 a.m. Most of the fighting in the Syrian civil war has taken place in the daylight hours, certainly not before the crack of dawn. Second, none of the previous inadvertent volleys consisted of five consecutive rockets.

Indeed, the incident appears to be connected to the anti-aircraft fire Syria directed at Israeli jets flying a reconnaissance mission over Lebanon last week, and a more aggressive recent tone from Damascus.

These developments are evident of the boost in self-confidence the Syrian regime is experiencing. Just Saturday, Assad’s army captured the Christian town of Qaryatayn, which had previously been taken by Islamic State and used as a base for the terror group. Assad may feel that victory in the civil war is within his reach thanks to having Tehran by his side, along with Shiite militias from Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan, and 8,000 well-armed Hezbollah fighters. So maybe he considers this a good time to send Israel a defiant message.

It doesn’t hurt that the same day, Iranian defense chief Mahmoud Bagheri signed a memorandum of understanding with his Syrian counterpart, Ali Ayyoub.
JPost Editorial: Peace conditions
Hamas has apparently failed its own recent reality test, which caused it finally to admit its utter failure in governing Gaza since it defeated Fatah for the privilege in a bloody 2007 coup. Weary of the task of rationing electricity and drinking water to its subjects, Hamas is now willing to let the PA do the dirty work of governance, while the most it apparently is willing to “sacrifice for the sake of its people’s freedom” is a transparently false pledge to refrain from terrorism – in the West Bank – while maintaining a Hezbollah- like presence alongside Fatah there and in Gaza.

This Lebanonization of the West Bank is a total non-starter, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Jordan Valley settlers on Thursday. The prime minister declared that, while Israel wants to resolve the conflict, it would not conduct negotiations with the irredentist Hamas.

“We want peace. We want a genuine peace and because of this we will not conduct negotiations with a terrorist organization in diplomatic disguise,” Netanyahu said.

What Netanyahu left unsaid was the undeniable truth that, after all, one cannot negotiate with an irrational subject, and Hamas’s persistent delusion that it is capable of destroying Israel is clearly proof of that.

PLO Executive Committee member Ahmad Majdalani noted that the Palestinian leadership in Ramallah was aware of the similarities of statements from Greenblatt and the Israeli security cabinet on the latest attempt at Palestinian reconciliation. He pointed out that, if a unity government is indeed formed with Hamas, it would have to follow the policies of the PLO, which recognizes Israel and supports ending the conflict through peaceful means – which apparently do not include inciting terrorism.

The security cabinet, in its declaration a day before Greenblatt’s, included the humanitarian condition that Hamas must return the bodies of Israeli soldiers as well as the two Israeli citizens it holds. Even if Hamas decides to demonstrate that it can act rationally and meet this request as a gesture of good faith, the continued belligerence toward Israel – as expressed this week by Sinwar – is the truest sign that the terrorist organization cannot be a partner for peace.
Point of No Return: Prickly discussion on the 'Right of Return' for Palestinians
Haaretz has been carrying an interesting exchange on the Palestinian 'right of return' for refugees. The radical leftist Uri Avnery breezily ignores the rights of Jewish refugees in the discussion. While a rebuttal letter in response mentions Jewish refugees, the author makes the mistake of demanding an equal right of return for Jewish refugees to Arab lands.

My comment: Uri Avnery is wrong to assume that a 'right of return' is a sacrosanct principle of international law. Article 13 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights has never applied to Palestinian refugees. A 'right of return' was added at the last minute and was intended to underscore the rights of hostage populations to leave their countries. Besides, the Palestinian refugees were never citizens of Israel.

The Arab states rejected UN res 194, which also called for compensation and resettlement, while Israel did take back around 50,000 refugees in the 50s and paid some compensation.
The Arab states have violated international law by refusing to resettle their own refugees, and refusing to compensate Jewish refugees.

Besides, Avnery is wrong to say that the Arab refugees were 'ethnically cleansed'. They fled a war zone. The Jews, on the other hand, were banished from areas which fell to the Jordanians and Egyptians. The question remains - whether anything should be owed to a population who violated international principles by waging a war of aggression.

Grinblat is right that the definition of refugee should only apply to the actual refugees and not their descendants, but is wrong to even to entertain the idea of return for 100,000.

Israel has no obligation to allow Arab refugees to return 70 years after they left.
The existence of an equal number of Jewish refugees for whom return to Arab countries is dangerous should put paid to this notion, once and for all.

The point he should be making is that an irrevocable exchange of refugees took place. Neither set should be allowed to return.

Trump: Raqqa fall 'critical breakthrough,' end of Islamic State in sight
US President Donald Trump on Saturday hailed the defeat of Islamic State fighters in their self-proclaimed capital of Raqqa as "a critical breakthrough" in a worldwide campaign against the militants.

On Friday, the Kurdish-dominated Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) formally announced Raqqa's liberation from Islamic State after four months of battles and said the city would be part of a decentralized federal Syria.

"Together, our forces have liberated the entire city from ISIS control," Trump said in a statement.

"The defeat of ISIS in Raqqa represents a critical breakthrough in our worldwide campaign to defeat ISIS and its wicked ideology. With the liberation of ISIS’s capital and the vast majority of its territory, the end of the ISIS caliphate is in sight."

Trump said the US campaign against Islamic State, which was launched by his predecessor Barack Obama, would soon enter a new phase, in which the United States would "support local security forces, de-escalate violence across Syria, and advance the conditions for lasting peace, so that the terrorists cannot return to threaten our collective security again."

"Together, with our allies and partners, we will support diplomatic negotiations that end the violence, allow refugees to return safely home, and yield a political transition that honors the will of the Syrian people," he said.
Russia accuses US-led coalition of 'barbaric' bombing of Syria's Raqqa
Russia accused the US-led coalition in Syria on Sunday of wiping the city of Raqqa "off the face of the earth" with carpet bombing in the same way the United States and Britain had bombed Germany's Dresden in 1945.

The Russian Defense Ministry, which has itself repeatedly been forced to deny accusations from activists and Western politicians of bombing Syrian civilians, said it looked like the West was now rushing to provide financial aid to Raqqa to cover up evidence of its own crimes.

Major-General Igor Konashenkov, a spokesman for the Defense Ministry, said in a statement that around 200,000 people had lived in Raqqa before the conflict in Syria, but that not more than 45,000 people remained.

US-backed militias in Syria declared victory over Islamic State in Raqqa, the group's capital, last week, raising flags over the last jihadist footholds after a four-month battle.

"Raqqa has inherited the fate of Dresden in 1945, wiped off the face of the earth by Anglo-American bombardments," said Konashenkov.
Iran praises Hamas for sticking to armed struggle against Israel
A top aide to Iranian supreme leader Ali Khamenei praised Hamas for not abandoning its armed struggle against Israel, during a meeting Saturday with the terror group’s visiting delegation in Tehran.

“We congratulate you for declaring that you will not set your weapons aside and for describing it as your red line,” said international affairs adviser Ali Akbar Velayati, according to the semi-official Fars news agency.

In a separate meeting Saturday, Admiral Ali Shamkhani, Iran’s secretary of the Supreme National Security Council, sent a similar message to the terror group, expressing hope that Hamas would continue to be a “central pioneer of the Palestinian resistance,” according to Iran’s Press TV.

During the meeting, Shamkhani condemned ostensible American and Israeli attempts to remove the Palestinian issue from the international agenda, the report said.

“The US and the Zionist regime feel threatened by any balance shift in the Middle East in favor of regional people and governments engaged in the fight against terrorism,” Shamkhani said. “They seek to obstruct the path of anti-terrorism fight by bringing up unfounded pretexts such as blocking Iran’s regional sway.”

Hamas deputy chief Salah al-Arouri, who is leading the delegation, thanked Iran for its patronage and noted that senior officials in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip were interested in expanding ties with Tehran.
Hezbollah official: Kurdish defeat is a victory over US and Israel
Hezbollah’s executive council deputy head Sheikh Nabil Qaouk has called the routing of Kurdish Peshmerga forces in Kirkuk by Iranian-backed Iraqi troops a victory by the resistance over the United States and Israel.

“Our victory in Kirkuk is a victory over the US and Israel and an answer to Trump’s threats to Iran,” Qaouk said on Sunday, during a religious ceremony in the southern Lebanese town of Bazouriyeh.

Qaouk, Hezbollah’s top official in South Lebanon, said the region has entered a new phase that favors Hezbollah.

“The qualitative and strategic gains achieved by Iraq in Kirkuk is a new achievement for the resistance axis and a new defeat for Trump, America, Israel and others in the region,” he said, adding that America will not be able to change Hezbollah’s positions by their sanctions, “not today, tomorrow or in the future. Hezbollah will complete its path to victory.”

Iraqi forces backed by Iran’s Popular Mobilization Units and other Iranian-backed militias, easily routed the Peshmerga forces from the oil-rich province of Kirkuk last week. This comes after Kurds voted in favor of an independence referendum in late September. As the Iranian-backed forces took over Kirkuk and other Kurdish-held territory in the neighboring provinces of Erbil, Dohuk and Sulaymaniyah, the US – a staunch ally of the Kurds – did not intervene politically or militarily, saying only it was “monitoring the situation.”

According to Ceng Sagnic, coordinator of the Kurdish Studies Program at the Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies in Tel Aviv, Iran has created a new route from Iran to northern Syria, increasing pressure on Israel, which is concerned about the smuggling of sophisticated weaponry to Hezbollah from Tehran to Lebanon via Syria.

“Iran is in need of secure access routes extending from the Iran-Iraq border to the Lebanon-Israel-Syria triangle in southwestern Syria, in order to increase pressure on Israel, while creating alternative routes to supply Hezbollah both in Syria and Lebanon,” Sagnic told The Jerusalem Post on Sunday.
Current Lord Balfour says Israel failing to live up to 1917 declaration
Lord Roderick Balfour, a descendant of the UK foreign secretary who penned the 1917 Balfour Deceleration endorsing the establishment of Jewish state, said that Israel, by mistreating Palestinians, is failing to honor the terms of the document.

Balfour, who has visited Israel several times in his capacity as a banker, spoke to the UK Daily Telegraph newspaper about his ancestor Lord Arthur Balfour’s proclamation, which he described as “a great humanitarian gesture.” Next month marks the centenary of the original document and will be marked by events in Israel and the UK.

Palestinians, though, have roundly condemned the document as a major milestone in their eventual dispossession with the creation of the Jewish state, and have planned protests around the anniversary.

In a rare statement on the document published Sunday, Balfour said he was worried that Israel was not living up to a stipulation to protect the rights of the Palestinians living in Mandate-era Palestine.

“I have major reservations,” he said in an article published Sunday. “There is this sentence in the declaration, ‘Nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine.’ That’s pretty clear. Well, that’s not being adhered to. That has somehow got to be rectified. Talking to the more liberal elements of Jewry, they would acknowledge there has to be a greater economic role for the Palestinians.”
In first, Israel participates in US chiefs of staff confab on counterterrorism
IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Gadi Eisenkot is in Washington on a four-day working visit where he will attend a counterterrorism conference hosted by the United States, the army said Sunday morning.

During his visit Eisenkot, who will be joined by Israel’s defense attaché to the US, Maj.-Gen. Mickey Edelstein, and the head of the IDF’s international relations unit, Brig.-Gen. Erez Maisal, will meet with senior American defense officials as well as the heads of US European Command (EUCOM) and US Central Command (CENTCOM).

“During the visit, the chief of staff will hold working meetings with US security and military officials, as well as a series of meetings with foreign chiefs of staff, in which they will discuss shared challenges, regional and security developments in the Middle East and military cooperation,” read a statement by the IDF.

While in Washington the Chief of Staff will meet with military leaders from around the globe at the second annual conference of the chiefs of staff to discuss counter-extremism strategy organized by Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Joseph Dunford.

It is the first time that Israel participates in the conference, which was attended last year by the chiefs of staff of 43 nations and the commanders of the US combatant commands.

The military leaders are expected to discuss how to promote strategic unity by sharing lessons from military activities and how to identify ways to contribute to essential cooperation issues.
UN Is No Longer Home Court of the Palestinians, Israeli Envoy Says
Israel’s situation at the United Nations is slowly improving, the Jewish state’s envoy to the global intergovernmental body said in an interview published by the Hebrew newspaper Makor Rishon on Friday.

“The Palestinians are no longer riding the wave,” Ambassador Danny Danon stated. “Once, this was their home court and they passed whatever they wanted. Today, the atmosphere is different.”

According to Danon, the promotion by the Palestinians of anti-Israel initiatives at institutions such as the Human Rights Council and UNESCO are rooted in their inability to get support for similar efforts at the Security Council and General Assembly.

Danon has developed a close relationship with US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley since she took office earlier this year. The recent announcement by the Trump administration that the US would withdraw from UNESCO over its anti-Israel bias “proves the seriousness” of their commitment to reforming the UN, Danon noted.

“They are doing, not just talking,” he said.

Danon warned that the UNHRC’s plan to publish a “blacklist” of companies that do business with Israeli settlements would give legitimacy to the BDS movement.

“It is very dangerous, grave and precedent-setting, and it must not be allowed to pass,” Danon said. “A black list of Jewish businesses in the Land of Israel — in my eyes, this is UN-sponsored antisemitism. Therefore, it’s a red line.”
Arab Pundits Celebrate ‘Expulsion’ of Israeli Delegation from Parliamentary Meeting
Arab social media users have been celebrating what they call the “expulsion” of the Israeli delegation to the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), which was not expelled but reportedly walked out of the meeting in St. Petersburg this week as Kuwait’s representative screamed anti-Semitic conspiracy theories and told them to “get out of the hall.”

After the incident, Kuwait’s ruler, Emir Sabah al-Ahmad, sent a letter to the representative, Marzouq al-Ghanim, praising him for his stance and attack on the Israeli representatives.

“Your words drew appreciation from the representatives of our Arab sister countries and the representatives of peace-loving countries,” Kuwait’s prince said in the letter.

The Jewish News Service reported on the incident:
Following the walkout, video footage circulated on social media showing Kuwaiti National Assembly Speaker Marzouq Al-Ghanim furiously lambasting Israeli lawmakers, calling them “child killers” and screaming at them to “get out of the hall.”

Additional video footage from the event shows Knesset member Sharren Haskel (Likud) passionately defending Israel, and refusing to stop speaking as representatives banged on their tables to silence her speech.

Al-Ghanim’s colleague in Kuwait’s parliament, Nasser al-Dweila, called for an official national welcome for Ghanim upon his return “for his expulsion of the Israeli delegation” from the parliamentary committee.

Whether or not there will be a welcoming ceremony, social media users are already celebrating the show put on by the Kuwaiti representatives.

Saudi media personality Turki al-Shalhoub wrote, “You gave gratification to the hearts of 400 million Arabs. … May Allah bless you, an honorable stance full of pride and respect at a time of surrender and defeatism!”
Israeli official confirms: Bin Salman visited Tel Aviv last month
An Israeli official told AFP on Friday that Saudi Crown Prince Emir Mohammed bin Salman secretly visited Tel Aviv in September.

The official, who requested that his identity remains anonymous, refused to reveal the nature of bin Salman’s meetings in Tel Aviv, the people he met, as well as the results of his discussions with the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The Israeli official’s statement confirmed the accuracy of what the official Hebrew radio broadcast earlier, when it revealed that “an emir from the Saudi royal court visited the country secretly on 7 September and discussed with senior Israeli officials the idea of ​​pushing forward regional peace.”

During that time, journalist Ariel Kahana, who works for the nationalist and right-wing weekly Makor Rishon, tweeted: “Bin Salman visited Israel with an official delegation and met with officials.”

A few days later, the famous Saudi blogger “Mujtahid” wrote: “The journalist Noga Tarnopolsky, a specialist in Israeli affairs who possesses international credibility, has confirmed Mohammed bin Salman’s visit to Israel.”

Immediately after, the hashtag #Bin_Salman_Visited_Israel topped the most circulated Twitter hashtags in a number of countries, including Saudi Arabia and Qatar.
Grapes of their wrath: Jews and Arabs battle over uninhabited land
THE EARLY Sunday morning sun was already strong when Tzvika Struk left his home in Eish Kodesh, a Jewish community a few miles east of Shilo in the Samarian hills, to check his vineyard. He had planted it four years ago, cultivated it carefully and waited patiently for the harvest when the restricted time according to Jewish law elapsed. The grapes were high quality and when sold would reward his efforts – and feed his family of six children.

It was the beginning of July. The grapes were almost ready. When he got to his field, however, instead of lush green vines he saw brown shriveled leaves. Two thousand grape vines had been destroyed on Friday night. The police and IDF found tracks that led to the nearby Arab village of Kusra.

It was not the first time Arabs from this village had attacked the fields of Eish Kodesh and other Jewish communities in the area. Dozens of times, they reported thefts and destruction, but the police and IDF were unwilling to arrest the perpetrators and risk a confrontation so there were no investigations. Nothing was done.

Strangely, the media (with the exception of radio station Arutz 7) refused to report the story, citing lack of time and interest. Their lack of concern, however, is difficult to comprehend since they often report Arab claims that Jews have destroyed their olive trees. Widespread theft of Jewish-owned livestock, arson and vandalism by Arabs is never reported.

According to Aaron Katsoff, a resident of Eish Kodesh and head of the Binyamin Fund, which helps Jewish communities and farmers, there is a struggle between Jews and Arabs over large areas of uninhabited and unused state land in Area C of Judea and Samaria (the West Bank), in which all settlements are located. Arabs and Beduin are constantly encroaching, and in some cases claiming to own land, often supported by the IDF’s Civil Administration, the judicial authority in Judea and Samaria.

Recently, Struk planted grape vines in another area of Eish Kodesh. Arabs protested, claiming to own the land and the case was heard by an IDF military court. Although the court decided that there was no basis for the Arab claims, the Civil Administration forced Struk to uproot the vines anyway. He tried to replant nearby, but most were not successful and the disputed patch remains barren.

Because the IDF’s Civil Administration operates with the approval of the Israeli government, there is no way to remedy or appeal its decisions.
Is Israel about to repeal the Disengagement Law in the northern W. Bank?
Political wrangling prevented the Ministerial Legislative Committee on Sunday from approving a bill that would repeal the 2005 Disengagement Law in northern Samaria that allowed for the destruction of four settlements there.

Should legislation be approved next week, it would move over to the Knesset for its series of three votes before it could pass into law.

The bill would rescind the military order barring Israelis from entering the sites where Homesh, Sa-Nur, Gadim and Kanim once stood.

Right-wing politicians and settlers hope that the legislation would pave the way to rebuilding the four communities.

But the legislation hit a snag after a political fight broke out between Justice Minster Ayalet Shaked (Bayit Yehudi) and coalition chairman MK David Bitan (Likud).

As a result, almost all private members' bills, such as this one sponsored by MK Shuli Muaelem-Rafaeli (Bayit Yehudi), were postponed for a week.

Mualem-Rafaeli said the time had come to pass the legislation.
Palestinian man drops rock on head of Israeli boy playing in Hebron
A 12-year old Israeli boy was lightly injured by a Palestinian rock thrower while playing in the afternoon by Abraham’s well.

The IDF said it was investigating the matter and was looking for the rock thrower. Hebron’s Jewish community spokesman Noam Arnon released a video which showed a man throwing a rock at the well.

Arnon said the boy initially lost consciousness and fell into the water but was rescued by his friends who ran to the Jewish homes in the Tel Rumedia neighborhood to seek help. The boy was transported by a United Hazalah ambulance to the Hadassah Medical Center at Ein Karem where he received 10 stitches and is undergoing further tests.

Israel condemns Egypt terror attack
Israel on Saturday evening condemned Friday's terrorist attack in Giza, Egypt, in which more than 50 police officers were killed during a raid on a terrorist hideout.

“Israel strongly condemns the severe terrorist attack in the al-Wahat al-Bahriya area in Egypt, sends condolences on behalf of the people of Israel to Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi and the people of Egypt, and sends wishes for a quick recovery to the injured,” said a statement from Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's office.

“There is no difference between the terrorism that strikes in Egypt and the terrorism that strikes in other countries. Terrorism will be defeated quicker if all countries are united in taking action against it,” the statement added.

52 Egyptian security personnel were killed in Friday's shoot-out with suspected Islamist terrorists.

Two security sources stated that a police convoy came under attack by terrorists using rocket-propelled grenades and explosive devices, reported the Egypt Independent.

A number of suspected militants were also killed and security forces continue to comb the area, according to a statement by the Interior Ministry after the attack.
Dozens of Palestinians arrested in mass agricultural heist
Dozens of Palestinians, including minors, were arrested Saturday in southern Israel after they were caught stealing tons of produce from an agricultural community near Hebron.

The incident occurred at Moshav Shekef, southeast of the Israeli city of Kiryat Gat and west of Hebron.

The owners of several greenhouses summoned security forces after spotting suspicious movement in the area.

Border Police officers and IDF troops that arrived at the scene found 27 adults and some 40 minors in the midst of hauling nearly 30 tons of tomatoes and grapes. The Border Police said this was one of the biggest agricultural heists in recent years, adding the majority of the produce was restored to its owners.

The investigation so far has found that all the suspects are residents of the Palestinian town of Beit Awwa, near Hebron. They apparently snuck into Shekef though the underground water pipe system running under the security fence in the area.

The thieves had apparently been at it for hours before they were caught, picking grapes and tomatoes and loading them up to four trucks parked nearby. The police believe the trucks, which were seized, were bound for the Awwa market, where the produce was to be sold.
Hamas Preventing Families of Islamic State Terrorists Killed in Sinai from Erecting Gaza Mourning Tents
Hamas security forces are preventing the family members of Palestinian terrorists associated with the Islamic State who have been killed in Sinai from erecting mourning tents where community members can offer their condolences, Abu Baker al-Maqdisi, a senior jihadist in Gaza, told Breitbart Jerusalem.

Such mourning tents often serve as fertile grounds for the spread of IS ideology. Although IS and Hamas are both terrorist groups, IS accuses Hamas of selling out by also becoming a political party and running in elections. It further disapproves of Hamas because of the relationship between Gaza’s Islamist rulers and Egypt, which IS considers an apostate country.

According to al-Maqdisi, Hamas security forces prevented the family of Loay Herzallah, a former fighter from Hamas’ so-called military wing who was recently killed in Sinai fighting against the Egyptian army, from erecting a mourning tent for their son in the Shati refugee camp where they live.

Herzallah joined Wilyat Sinai, the Egyptian branch of the Islamic State, after leaving the Gaza Strip through the underground tunnels that connect the enclave to the Sinai Peninsula last June during the month of Ramadan, al-Maqdisi revealed.

According to al-Maqdisi, a Hamas security force approached Herzallah’s family as they were preparing to erect the tent and said that it was forbidden. Al-Maqdisi said that this was the fourth such incident in recent months.
Reem's Bakery: at the intersection of left and right anti-semitism
What does the Bay Area "social justice" community look like? We need to look no further than the supporters of Oakland bakery owner Reem Assil for a cross section of the abject hypocrisy and moral bankruptcy of the local "progressive" movement. Reem owns a bakery that features a floor to ceiling mural of confessed, convicted Jew-killer Rasmea Odeh.

Reem's supporters exhibit a racist intolerance, a feckless disregard for facts and an inability to process new information that might surprise bona fide believers in individual human rights who tend to attribute those characteristics to denizens of the flyover states.

For over 15 years, Indybay has been considered one of the vanguard sites of the "progressive" Bay Area. Naturally, they support Reem's. Their support however doesn't take the form of an absolutist belief in the first amendment. Here, instead, is an example of the staggering depth of their intellectual integrity:
(Incidentally the "stupid signs" they attempted to crop out said "Honor the Victims. Not their Killers")

With the cultural sensitivity characteristic of both toddlers and activists of the hard left, Zoe Samudzi describes the kippa worn by an observant Jew at a Reem's vigil as an "ugly hat".
‘Confusion’ over Texas law led town to require anti-BDS pledge
A northern Texas state representative said that a town that asked its residents to certify that they do not participate in boycotting Israel in order to receive hurricane aid was due to “confusion” over a new state law.

Republican State Rep. Phil King authored state legislation against BDS, or boycotts of Israel, earlier this year. The legislation went into effect last month.

“It’s not uncommon to have some confusion when a new law goes into effect. This bill in no way applies to the type of situation that happened in Dickinson,” King, who has been a state legislator since 1999, told the Israeli daily Haaretz in an interview on Saturdaynight.

The website for the town of Dickinson is accepting applications for individuals and businesses who need assistance following Hurricane Harvey, which devastated the area in August. According to the application, those who sign must verify that the applicant “(1) does not boycott Israel; and (2) will not boycott Israel during the term of this Agreement.”

Dickinson City Management assistant Bryan Milward attributed the clause to a state law, signed in May, that requires all state contractors to certify that they are not participating in boycotts of Israel. Milward emphasized that the city will not be verifying compliance with the clause and said he doesn’t expect any applications to be rejected because of it.

Dickinson, a city of about 19,000, was hit especially hard by Harvey. More than three-quarters of its homes were damaged by the hurricane, and 830 were destroyed, according to Milward.

King told Haaretz that the situation in Dickinson does not apply to the law, because “they had private contributions from citizens to a relief fund in the city, and the city has set up a grant program to give those funds to help in disaster clean-up and restoration. Those are not taxpayer dollars, so the law by no means applies to these relief efforts.”
BBC’s Imbalanced Reporting on BDS
A Texas law barring the state from entering a contract with any business unless it “does not boycott Israel” is making news after the clause was included in applications for Hurricane Harvey relief in the city of Dickinson.

The BBC‘s report includes a prominent video interview with pro-BDS activist Michael Deas.

Deas’s bio on the extreme anti-Israel Electronic Intifada website states:
Michael Deas is a Palestine solidarity organiser based in the UK.
He was formerly a campaigns officer with the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee (BNC), the Palestinian civil society coalition that acts as the Palestinian reference of the movement for boycotts, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel until it complies with international law.

The BBC has given a platform for BDS to cynically present itself as a peaceful, non-violent, Palestinian-led initiative to boycott Israeli goods such as oranges and avocados, ignoring the real aim of the campaign, which is to see the end of Israel as a Jewish state.

WHO Rescinding Appointment Of Mugabe As Goodwill Ambassador
The appointment had provoked disbelief around the world because Mugabe is more known for human rights abuses and presiding over an ossified economy than any personal dedication to world health.

In 2008 the charitable group Physicians for Human Rights issued a damning indictment of Mugabe’s dictatorial and repressive regime, saying the mounting health care crisis in the country was entirely manufactured by an inept and inefficient government.

“The government of Robert Mugabe presided over the dramatic reversal of its population’s access to food, clean water, basic sanitation and health care,” the physicians said, adding that the result was “the shuttering of hospitals and clinics, the closing of its medical school and the beatings of health workers.”

Last week, Ghebreyesus had described Mugabe and his government in very different terms, suggesting Zimbabwe was “a country that places universal health coverage and health promotion at the centre of its policies to provide health care to all.”

Standing next to his 93-year-old appointee, WHO’s director general Tedros Ghebreyesus made the announcement in Uruguay this week while the two were at a conference in the South American country and confirmed his decision on Friday, The New York Times reports.

At least two dozen health groups condemned the choice of Mugabe as a goodwill ambassador, saying they are “shocked and deeply concerned” while reminding people of Mugabe’s unenviable record on human rights.
UN Watch: UN should investigate ‘suspect’ appointment of Mugabe, WHO chief should meet Zimbabwe victims & apologize
The non-governmental human rights group UN Watch welcomed the WHO’s cancellation of its “absurd, immoral and insulting” appointment of Robert Mugabe as goodwill ambassador but called for a full, independent and international inquiry into any possible deals made between the WHO chief—Ethiopia’s former foreign minister—and Zimbabwe’s ruler.

“There must be more to the story. How could Dr. Tedros, a sophisticated political figure, have chosen to honor a man who has brutalized human rights activists, crushed democracy dissidents, and turned the breadbasket of Africa and its health system into a basket-case?” asked UN Watch executive director Hillel Neuer.

“We regret that Dr. Tedros’ statement shows no remorse, nor any mention of Mugabe’s gross human rights abuses. On the contrary, he seems to double down and justify his decision by speaking of the need to ‘include everyone’, presumably tyrants as well.”

“We ask Dr. Tedros to agree to a meeting in Geneva of victims of Mugabe, which we will gladly organize, giving the WHO chief a chance to compensate for the damage he has done to the cause of human rights in Zimbabwe. He should now honor the victims, instead of the perpetrator.”

“The tyrant of Zimbabwe is the last person who should have been legitimized by a U.N. position of any kind,” said Neuer. “Something is very ill at the U.N.’s world health agency.”
NYTs: Could this be the Harvey Weinstein of Islam?
Since 2012, a Muslim mother in France, Henda Ayari, kept secret the identity of a controversial Muslim academic who allegedly seduced and then sexually assaulted her in a Holiday Inn hotel room in Paris, during an Islamic conference. She wrote about him in a memoir, J’ai choisi d’être libre (“I chose to be free”), chronicling the assault, in her escape from the extremist brand of Islam known as Salafism, and assigned her attacker the moniker, “Zoubeyr,” or “strong” in Arabic. Ayari also spoke exclusively to Women in the World in August but declined to identify the name of her attacker.

This week, however, with the #MeToo hashtag ricocheting around the globe, as women worldwide shared their experiences of sexual harassment and assault, Ayari found new courage. She penned a Facebook post on Friday to friends with the hashtag, #balancetonporc, or “squeal on your pig.”

“#balancetonporc,” she wrote, “It is a very difficult decision but I too have decided it is time to denounce my attacker. It is Tariq Ramadan.” Ramadan is the grandson of the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, a movement of political Islam that, as illustrated by its name, separates, secludes, shrouds, and makes invisible women in a perverted notion that to do so “honors” and “protects” women. And Ramadan with strong financial support from the ultra-fundamentalist Qatari regime, is professor of Islamic Studies at Oxford University, despite scandals surrounding him, including his acceptance of female genital mutilation and the stoning of women.

The global Muslim community now has its Rose McGowan, the fierce American actress who has alleged rape against fallen Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein. And now, if the allegations are true, the conservative Muslim world has its Harvey Weinstein — because Ayari’s alleged attacker is one of the most charismatic and powerful preachers of orthodox Islam.

Not only that, Ayari, who claims Ramadan threatened her and her children if she ever spoke about his treatment of her, filed an official complaint of rape, sexual assault, harassment and intimidation with a French prosecutor.
Ramadan did not return numerous attempts by Women in the World to reach him for comment.

In her Facebook post, Ayari notes, “I will go all the way with this fight whatever it costs me.”

Harvey Weinstein to Represent Hollywood at UN; Appointed to Human Rights Council (satire)

Earlier today, Saudi representative to the Human Rights Council, Abdulaziz Alwasil, welcomed Harvey Weinstein’s appointment as Hollywood’s representative to the UN human rights body. In a statement, Alwasil said that his long and illustrious career of complete disregard for the rights of the women around him made him “a perfect fit for the council”.

The allegations of rampant sexual misconduct by the Hollywood producer, prompted the UN to award Hollywood full member status because “clearly they live in their own world”. This is not the first time the Human Rights Council has come under criticism for such appointments. Earlier this month, it admitted Congo where sexual assault is rampant and often used as a weapon, earning it the nickname “the Harvey Weinstein of Nations”.

While some nations such as the US and Israel raised objections to Weinstein’s appointment, they were overruled by an overwhelming majority of the General Assembly. The Iranian representative said on the floor of the general assembly: “as a rich Jew from Hollywood, we welcome the confirmation of all our beliefs about Hollywood, and as a lecherous man with no morals, Weinstein will feel at home here at the UN”.
Daily Mail Australia Unilaterally Bestows Palestinian Statehood
Is this really what the Daily Mail Australia calls a “diplomatic incident?”

We’ll leave you to judge for yourself the seriousness of the story in question.

What is questionable, however, is the Daily Mail’s unilateral upgrade to the status of the official Palestinian representation in Australia.

Australia has not officially recognized a Palestinian state. That is why there is a Palestinian Representative Office in Canberra as opposed to an embassy. Izzat Salah Abdulhadi may proclaim himself an ambassador on the Representative Office’s website but according to diplomatic protocol, his official title is “Representative” or “Head of the General Delegation of Palestine to Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific” rather than “Ambassador.”

The Palestinians do have embassies in numerous countries that have recognized Palestinian statehood, predominantly in Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, Latin America, and the Middle East. Australia is not one of those countries however.

The Daily Mail has effectively bestowed statehood on the Palestinians even though they do not enjoy that status in Australia. Aside from being prejudicial, it is simply factually incorrect.
Textbook publisher apologizes for Jewish stereotyping
After an outcry on social media over "racist" instructions in a nursing textbook, the publisher has said it will be removing it from publication.

Pearson, a UK-based educational publishing house, was hit with a wave of criticism after a page from its book Nursing: A Concept-Based Approach to Learning was posted online. This version of the book was published in 2015.

The page in question contained a section called Cultural Differences in Responses to Pain. In that section, the potential attitudes of a variety of different minority groups were addressed. Jews, according to the book, "may be vocal and demanding of assistance." They also "believe that pain must be shared and validated by others."

The book also said that Arabs/Muslims may opt for thanking Allah over pain relief, that Asians may think complaining about pain implies poor social skills and that blacks report higher pain intensity than other groups.

After the image of the page went viral online, the publisher repeatedly apologized and promised to make things right.

"In an attempt help nursing students think through the many facets of caring for their patients, we've reinforced a number of stereotypes about ethnic and religious groups. It was wrong," said Tim Bozik, the head of global product development at Pearson, in a video message on Thursday. "We should have been more thoughtful about the information we put into our curriculum."
IsraellyCool: WATCH: Writer-Director Heidi Ewing Says Hasidic Jews Killed In Holocaust Partly Because Refused to Blend In
Heidi Ewing is a director, producer, and writer of documentary films, including One of Us, which chronicles the lives of three ex-Hasidic Jews from Brooklyn.

Recently interviewed about this film on the Charlie Rose Show with guest host Jeff Glor, Ewing has made the outrageous claim that their refusal to blend in was partly responsible for their murder in the Holocaust.

I am speechless. Jews of all stripes, whether proudly Jewish or hiding it, were slaughtered in the Holocaust. The suggestion the ones who were proud were partly at fault for their fate is hideous.

Chilean diplomat who saved more than 1,200 Jews honored
A Chilean diplomat who saved more than 1,200 Jews during the Holocaust was honored as a Righteous Gentile.

Samuel del Campo, who served as chargé d’affaires at the Chilean embassy in Bucharest, assisted Jews by issuing them Chilean passports – mainly to Polish Jews in Czernowitz – between 1941 and 1943.

A relative of Del Campo received a medal and certificate of honor from Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial officials during a ceremony held on Sunday in Jerusalem. Milenko Skoknic, director general of the Chilean Ministry of Foreign Affairs, also attended.

The diplomat began to issue Chilean passports for Jews of Polish nationality in October 1941, when a ghetto was established in the city of Czernowitz, and deportations to ghettos and camps in Transnistria began. In the absence of an official Polish representation in the country, the representation of the interests of Polish citizens in Romania was transferred to Chile. Members of the Kiesler family of Czernowitz and the Rosenthal family from Bucharest were saved by Del Campo.

After the deportations from Czernowitz to Transnistria resumed in June 1942, Del Campo continued to intervene with the Romanian authorities in favor of “the Jews under the protection of Chile.”

Based on recorded minutes from discussions in the Council of Ministers of Romania, Yad Vashem was able to estimate that approximately 1,200 Jews received Chilean passports providing them with protection against the deportations.
The Spy Who Saved Thousands Of Jews
Frank Foley lived a quiet life in a small English town after World War II. His neighbors had no idea that this short, unassuming man was a hero who led a dangerous double life in Nazi Germany. He had been head of Britain’s intelligence service and saved thousands of Jewish lives.

Based in Berlin in the 1930s, his official job was passport control officer for the British. In actuality, he was the head of the Berlin office of MI6, Britain’s secret intelligence service.

As a spy, Major Foley had a dramatic career. He organized the operation that saved Norway’s gold reserves from the Nazis and persuaded leading German scientists not to pass on essential data about atomic research to the Nazi leadership. He also convinced scores of German spies to become double agents.

A life-long devout Catholic, Foley was greatly moved by the Nazi persecution of Jews, and assisted thousands to escape from Germany.

Following Kristallnacht in 1938, he wrote in a confidential report to London: “The Nazi party has not departed from its original intentions and its ultimate aim remains the disappearance of the Jews from Germany.”

Though immigration rules still remained strict at that time of economic depression, many Jews realized the danger and tried to flee from the Nazi threat.

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