Tuesday, November 28, 2017

From Ian:

Caroline Glick: The State Department drops the ball
Over the weekend, The New York Times published its latest broadside against US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson for what the newspaper referred to as his “culling” of senior State Department officials and his failure to date to either nominate or appoint senior personnel to open positions.

But if the State Department’s extraordinary about face on the PLO’s mission in Washington is an indication of what passes for US diplomacy these days, then perhaps Tillerson should just shut down operations at Foggy Bottom. The US would be better off without representation by its diplomats.

Last week, in accordance with US law, Tillerson notified the PLO’s Washington envoy Husam Zomlot that the PLO’s mission in Washington has to close within 90 days because it has breached the legal terms governing its operations.

Specifically, Tillerson explained, PLO chief and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas breached US law when he called for the International Criminal Court to indict and prosecute Israeli nationals during his speech before the UN General Assembly in September.

Tillerson explained that under US law, the only way to keep the PLO mission in Washington open is if US President Donald Trump certifies in the next 90 days that its representatives are engaged in “direct and meaningful negotiations” with Israel.

The PLO didn’t respond to Tillerson with quiet diplomacy. It didn’t make an attempt to appease Congress or the State Department by for instance agreeing to end its campaign to get Israelis charged with war crimes at the ICC. It didn’t put an abrupt end to its financial support for terrorism and terrorists. It didn’t stop inciting Palestinians to hate Israel and seek its destruction. It didn’t disavow its efforts to form a unity government with Hamas and its terrorist regime in Gaza.

It didn’t join Saudi Arabia and Egypt in their efforts to fight Iranian power and influence in the region. It didn’t end its efforts to have Israeli companies blacklisted by the UN Human Rights Committee or scale back its leadership of the international boycott movement against Israel.

The PLO certainly didn’t begin “direct and meaningful negotiations” with Israel.
Melanie Phillips: Reformist noises coming out of Saudi Arabia, what all this might mean for the Arab-Israel conflict
Please join me here as I discuss with Avi Abelow of Israel Video Network the significance of the continuing reformist noises coming out of Saudi Arabia, what all this might mean for the Arab-Israel conflict and the row over the remarks made by Israeli deputy foreign minister Tzipi Hotovely about American Jews.

PragerU: An Arab Muslim in the Israeli Army (h/t Saigon N)
Why would an Arab Muslim serve in the Israeli military? Because he, like many Israeli Arabs, proudly defend the nation that has given them freedom and opportunity. Mohammad Kabiya, Israeli Air Force reservist, shares his remarkable story.

The American Jew who went from UAE student to IDF soldier
With disarming honesty, passable Arabic and an eyebrow ring, self-described “proud pro-Israel American Jew” Michael Bassin set off for the United Arab Emirates as a junior for a study abroad program at the American university in the midst of the 2006 Second Lebanon War.

His parents weren’t thrilled.

So begins Bassin’s nonfiction book, “I Am Not a Spy,” released this month by Utah’s WiDo publishing, the title coming from an oft-repeated phrase during his semester at the American University of Sharjah — one of the seven emirates that make up the UAE — and throughout his travels around the Middle East.

Bassin’s debut book follows him over the course of seven months through five Muslim-majority countries and India, and, to a lesser extent, his eventual immigration to Israel and his service in the Israel Defense Forces. His three years in Israel make up less than a quarter of the book.

“I Am Not a Spy” offers a glimpse that most Westerners otherwise would never get into Muslim society and the individuals who make it up. He confirms some commonly held beliefs about the Arab world — namely the overwhelming negative opinion it has of Israel and Jews — but shatters other stereotypes, all in a no-nonsense writing style that makes the book an easy read, even if the subject matter is at times difficult.
Israel’s first female tank crews set for deployment as critics fire fresh volley
The Israeli army’s first female combat tank operators will finish their initial training next week and move to deployment along the borders of southern Israel, as part of a pilot program to assess fuller gender integration in the Armored Corps.

The development comes amid a renewed backlash against women in combat positions and co-ed military service in general. On Sunday, dozens of former officers sent a letter to Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman calling for him to scale back the integration of women into fighting units.

In March, the army announced that it was choosing 15 women from a cohort of mixed-gender combat recruits who drafted that month to take part in the pilot tank program.

Two of the candidates washed out in basic training, but the remaining 13 women then moved to the Armored Corps’ Shizafon base in the Negev where they completed training on the Merkava Mark 3 model, which they will operate.

Next month, the 13 candidates will take up positions in southern Israel for the final stage of the pilot program. They will serve in the army’s 80th Division, which is responsible for the southern Negev and Arava deserts, and help guard the southern borders, a tank officer said earlier this year, speaking on condition of anonymity.
JPost Editorial: Jordan realpolitik
King Abdullah’s options are limited. But he should not lose sight of the fact that Israel today shares many common interests with Jordan and other Sunni states in the region.

While it might be convenient to bash Israel in public, King Abdullah knows that the real threat he faces is from Islamist movements like the Muslim Brotherhood or even more extreme Salafist elements. The recent attack in northern Sinai is a reminder that Islamic State has not yet been defeated. Israel provides Jordan with essential intelligence and military support to protect itself.

Iran’s destabilizing role in Syria, Lebanon and Iraq is another major concern to Jordan. Without Israeli cooperation there is little prospect that Iranian influence can be rebuffed. And Jordan’s king knows and appreciates this.

The time has come for countries like Jordan to take a more pragmatic approach to relations with Israel. The Jewish state and Jordan will never agree on the religious meaning of the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif. Jordanians will never become Zionists and Israelis will not abandon their concerns over the creation of yet another Arab state on land resonant with Jewish history.

But this does not mean Israel and Jordan cannot fight common enemies and share military intelligence, or even develop stronger civilian ties, particularly in fields such as water-sharing and environmental protection. Reopening the Israeli Embassy after some face-saving Israeli gesture is made would allow the two countries to put aside religion and ideology and focus on realpolitik.
Danon touts 'covert relations with a dozen Arab states'
Israel's ambassador to the UN, Danny Danon, is holding covert contacts with ambassadors from 12 Islamic and Arab countries that do not have diplomatic relations with Israel, Danon revealed to Ynet in an interview.

Danon described the contrast between the past and the present, saying that most of the ambassadors would once have done anything to avoid having any contact with Israel. Now, he said, they shake hands and their encounters are cordial and, at times warm.

With some of the ambassadors, he added, Danon collaborates behind the scenes in joint ventures.

"They still do not vote with us, but I can say that we have relationships with them on a mutual basis," Danon said. "We are talking about a dozen Islamic countries, including Arab states that understand the potential of relations with Israel.

"We were once banned from every discussion and event held by the ambassadors of these countries, but today we cooperate with them on a weekly basis. My challenge is for these collaborations to come out of the closed rooms and go public," Danon added, before explaining what he believed the key factor was behind this change.

"The State of Israel is not the regional problem, it is the regional solution. That is why we are strengthening this cooperation," he charged.

"We are still handed a disproportionate number of resolutions against Israel, but we see a change in the tone of some of the countries that do not automatically join in resolutions against us," Danon noted.
US Ambassador: Gush Etzion terror victim was a patriot
United States Ambassador to Israel David Friedman has offered the US's heartfelt thoughts and prayers to the family, friend, teachers and classmates of terror victim Ezra Schwartz on the second anniversary of his murder.

In a letter written on Monday to be read at a memorial service today at Oz Vegaon Park in Gush Etzion, Friedman said, "Ezra was a patriot because he believed so deeply in the ideals and values shared by the United States and Israel."

He also wrote, "Although I am currently in Washington, D.C. and unable to attend today's ceremony, I join you in spirit as we renew our commitment to living a life of service to others and to remaining resolute in the defense of our values and the defeat of evil."

Last week, Friedman cancelled his planned appearance at the memorial service, after initially telling organizers from the Orot Yehuda Yeshiva in Efrat that he had accepted their invitation to the service honoring Schwartz, an 18-year-old American yeshiva student who was killed along with two others in a terror attack in Gush Etzion south of Jerusalem in 2015.

Schwartz, a native of Sharon, Massachusetts, had been studying in the Ashreinu Yeshiva in Beit Shemesh during his year-long stay in Israel.
U.N. Challenged to End Its 'Anti-Israel Hate and Rejectionism'
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has been challenged to “repudiate anti-Israel hate and rejectionism” in his organization when he speaks in Geneva to mark the 70th anniversary of the partitioning of Palestine into Jewish and Arab states.

The call comes from Prof. Gerald Steinberg – president of the Jerusalem-based NGO Monitor – in a letter to Guterres. It precedes Wednesday’s pause in U.N. offices around the world for something called the “International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.”

The global organization set aside November 29 as a day of Palestinian solidarity in 1977, with a General Assembly resolution authorizing the practice as an “annual observance.”

In Prof. Steinberg’s letter, he argues that the “Day of Solidarity”, along with countless U.N. bodies that promote an anti-Israel agenda as part of their day-to-day work, destroys the U.N.’s historic commitment to a “two-state” solution and replaces it with open denigration of Jewish self-determination. He wrote:

Too often, UN officials are willing and active players in this dynamic, applying double standards and singling out Israel for attack. Next week, as occurs every year, the UN will hold a special meeting in Geneva on the occasion of “International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People,” featuring anti-Israel demagogues and highlighting agendas that undermine the spirit of UNGA 181.

The bias and political attacks on Israel by the Division for Palestinian Rights, the Human Rights Council, and the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People are well documented. Other campaigns are led under the auspices of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, UNICEF, UNOCHA, UN Women, UNECSWA, UNESCO, and other UN agencies. In addition, such UN activity is often reinforced by a network of influential NGOs that claim to promote human rights agendas.
Conyers Is an "Icon" Alright--Of Blatant Anti-Israel Idiocy
Nancy Pelosi defends senescent Congressman John Conyers (whose advanced age has apparently had no impact on his unwanted advances on his female staffers) as "an icon in this country." That's a reference to Conyers involvement, waaay back in the day, in the civil rights movement.

Well, kudos to Conyers for that, but the fact that he's managed to get away with all sorts of creepiness for so long attests to the fact that he's been resting on these civil rights laurels for far too long.

Oh, and guess what? This American "icon" is precisely the sort of leftist numbskull who falls for the poor-poor-pitiful-Palestinians narrative. For that reason, as Alan Dershowitz recounts here, Conyers is one of Congressional "progressives" who is supporting a bill that would punish Israel "for trying to protect its citizens from teenage terrorists." Dershowitz slams such blatant unfairness in this scathing summation:
It’s time to demand recognition of Israeli sovereignty in Golan Heights
This return could be a recognition of Israel’s sovereignty in the Golan Heights and security arrangements on our northern border. It will make it much easier for the Israeli government and the Israeli society to move towards another agreement with the PA, and it isn’t an obstacle to negotiations with the Palestinians.

A rare opportunity

The major changes the Middle East is going through and the results of the brutal civil war in Syria have changed the states’ borders, and these borders won’t go back to what they were since the Sykes–Picot Agreement. Now is the time to set the line established in the 1974 Agreement on Disengagement as the international border between Israel and Syria.

With a diplomatic effort and proper PR activities, we will succeed in enlisting the support of the moderate Arab states, which see terror-spreading Iran as the threat to stability in the Middle East.

Trump’s sympathy towards Israel and his desire to reach a foreign policy achievement in the Middle East, while Syrian President Assad is weak and dependent on Russia and on President Vladimir Putin, create a rare opportunity to make good out of a bad situation.

Instead of keeping up with the negative reactions, instead of constantly being dragged, Israel should see Trump’s proposal as an opportunity to start initiating again. We have a chance to demand and gain international recognition of Israel’s sovereignty in the Golan Heights, and it’s an opportunity we must not waste.
Russian Intelligence Chief Visits Israel for Meetings With Senior Security Officials
The director of Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service, Sergey Naryshkin, reportedly visited Israel last week to meet with senior security officials for talks on Syria and Iran, Israel’s Channel 10 reported.

The Russian intelligence chief reportedly met with Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, Mossad Director Yossi Cohen and National Security Adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat.

Naryshkin’s purported visit to Israel came after Russian President Vladimir Putin, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan met in the Russian resort city of Sochi last week. The leaders agreed to establish a conference aimed at resolving the Syrian civil war and framing the “the future structure” of Syria.

During their meeting with Naryshkin, the Israeli officials reportedly stated that Israel is not bound by any agreements reached during the Sochi summit. The Israelis also reiterated Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s stance that the Jewish state is not bound by the recently negotiated ceasefire deal in southern Syria and will continue to act against Damascus in order to protect its security interests.
Egypt ups pressure on PA to resume peace talks with Israel
Egypt and other moderate Arab countries are pressuring Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to resume peace negotiations with Israel, a senior Egyptian official told Israel Hayom on Monday.

The official said that Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and a number of Persian Gulf states are seeking to establish a united coalition to combat the threats of terrorism across the Middle East.

Those threats emanate first and foremost from Iran's burgeoning presence in the region, particularly in Syria, alongside threats posed by radical Islamists and the increasing cooperation between Palestinian terrorist groups, Sinai terrorist groups and Iran and Hezbollah.

Egypt is especially eager to combat terrorism in the wake of Friday's deadly mosque attack in the Sinai Peninsula, in which more than 300 people were killed.

A senior official in Abbas' office in Ramallah confirmed the report, telling Israel Hayom: "The PA is under immense pressures from countries in the region to return to the negotiating table with Israel and renew, fully and comprehensively, security coordination with Israel, in an attempt to build a regional front against Iran's influence in the region and the fight against terror."
Israel should arm the Kurds
In recent days, the US administration has increasingly been putting pressure on the Kurds to back away from the Kurdistan independence referendum. They are seeking for the Iraqi Supreme Court to declare that the referendum was illegal and for the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) leadership to declare that they accept court’s ruling, which will enable the KRG leadership to back away from the referendum while saving face. This policy is a disaster waiting to happen and the Israeli government should take a stand against it by arming the Kurds, so that they will be able to fight for their independent state.

To date, the Kurds were given only light arms to fight Islamic State (ISIS). All of the arms the US Congress authorized to go to the Kurds were diverted to the Iraqi central government, which gave those arms to the Shi’ite militias. These militias in turn utilized those weapons to attack the Kurds in Kirkuk and elsewhere.

The US administration led by Brett McGurk, an Obama appointee, seeks to re-elect Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi at all costs and punish the Kurds for not heeding the US request to postpone the independence referendum.

As a result, the Kurds lost the ability to sell Kirkuk oil. They are being oppressed left and right in the areas that fell to the Iraqi central government.

They are being held hostage for fuel, food and other basic humanitarian supplies. Their rights and gains are being erased by the Iraqi Supreme Court. Kurdish national and cultural symbols are being purged from the area. The Kurds are essentially being ethnically cleansed from the area and this is a major loss for the State of Israel as well as the free world.
US to keep supporting SDF, including Kurds, in Syria
The US-led coalition to defeat Islamic State will continue to provide assistance to groups comprising the Syrian Democratic Forces in eastern Syria “as long as they remain committed to the goal of fighting and defeating ISIS.” In response to an inquiry by The Jerusalem Post, the coalition said it “continues to provide material support, training, advice and assistance to the SDF in their ongoing effort to defeat ISIS in Syria.”

On Friday, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu claimed US President Donald Trump had stated in a conversation with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that weapons would not be given to the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) in Syria. Turkey alleges that the YPG is the Syrian branch of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) which it and other countries consider a terrorist organization.

Since 2016, the US has been providing arms to the SDF, which includes elements of the Kurdish YPG. The White House responded to the Turkish statement by noting that US policy remains consistent and that “President Trump also informed President Erdogan of pending adjustments to the military support provided to our partners on the ground in Syria.”

The emailed statement by the Public Affairs Office of the Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve, adds some details to US policy in Syria. “Our tactical partnership with the SDF is focused on defeating ISIS in Syria. Our attention is strongly focused on that fight, which recently liberated the ISIS self-declared capital of Raqqa,” the coalition says. “The SDF is a multi-ethnic and multi-religious alliance of Arabs, Kurds, Assyrians, Turkmen, Armenians and other ethnic groups who have fought valiantly against ISIS.”
U.N. human rights chief in NYC, Craig Mokhiber. U.N. Israel-bashing personified. 11/7/2017
5 anti-Israel reports by UN in 1 day

'UNRWA serves to protect terror activities'
Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee member MK Sharren Haskel (Likud) held a discussion today (Monday) at a lobby she established for reform of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).

"Only two weeks ago a Hamas terror tunnel was discovered under a school run by UNRWA in Gaza, the second tunnel uncovered in the last two months.

"During Operation Protective Edge, a weapons cache was discovered at the UNRWA facility in Gaza, and since 1999, Hamas has controlled the UNRWA Workers Union and the Teachers Union," said Haskel.

"The aim of the lobby is to bring about a profound reform in UNRWA, to demand dismissal of Hamas activists working in the organization, to stop education to incitement and hatred of Israel, to raise awareness among donor countries and to monitor the funds donated to UNRWA. The world will understand: UNRWA perpetuates the Israeli-Palestinian conflict."
PA against moderating UNRWA school curriculum
Sabri Saidam, responsible for “culture and higher education” in the Palestinian Authority, met with a delegation of the Arab Workers Union in UNRWA in Judea and Samaria and discussed issues related to the status of workers and education policy in UNRWA schools.

Saidam expressed his office’s opposition to changing the curriculum in UNRWA schools, stressing that the PA makes a clear distinction between enriching the content of the studies and changing the content of the studies.

UNRWA's management has recently attempted to reform its school curriculum, which is based on radical expressions against Israel, and to replace it with a more moderate approach to the Israeli-Palestinian Arab conflict.

On November 7, 2017, UNRWA's Arab Workers' Union in the Gaza Strip issued an official statement condemning any change in the school curriculum of the host country - meaning the PA.
Mandela’s grandson on visit: ‘Israel is the worst apartheid regime'
The grandson of the late anti-apartheid hero, former South African president Nelson Mandela, is on a “historic visit” to Israel, but it seems he will not be meeting with Israeli officials.

Mandla Mandela, a staunch Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) supporter, will only meet with Palestinians during his trip. A statement said Mandela would “hold several meetings with Palestinian leaders” with no mention of Israeli counterparts. The Foreign Ministry appeared to corroborate the statement by saying, “We have no information on the visit.”

During a joint press conference with Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah on Monday, Mandela said, “The settlements I saw here [in the West Bank] reminded me of what we had suffered in South Africa because we also were surrounded by many settlements and were not allowed to move from one place to another freely. Palestinians are being subjected to the worst version of apartheid.”

Mandela added, “Israel is the worst apartheid regime” and called for the continued support of BDS and for South Africa to cut all ties with “apartheid Israel.”

While meeting with Mandla Mandela in Ramallah, Hamdallah highlighted the inspiring legacy of the younger Mandela’s late grandfather Nelson.
PM signs petition urging president to pardon Hebron shooter
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday signed a petition urging President Reuven Rivlin to pardon Elor Azaria, the Infantry Corps soldier convicted and jailed for having shot and killed a subdued terrorist in Hebron in March 2016.

Rivlin announced last week that he has decided to deny Azaria's petition for a pardon, saying that granting it would "undermine the strength of the State of Israel and the strength and values of the Israel Defense Forces."

Azaria was sentenced to 18 months in prison for manslaughter and began serving his term in a military prison in August this year. In late September, IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot reduced his sentence by four months on compassionate grounds.

More than 40 lawmakers, including Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan, Jerusalem Affairs and Heritage Minister Zeev Elkin, Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely and Culture Minister Miri Regev, have signed the petition, the brainchild of journalist and former Yisrael Beytenu politician Sharon Gal, who has been advising the Azaria family throughout the case.

The President's Office issued a statement saying the letter "has yet to be received, and when it arrives it will be addressed accordingly. The President's Office seeks to reiterate that petitions for a presidential pardon can be submitted only by the prisoner, his immediate family, or his attorneys.
Seaborne rocket defense system now operational off Israel's shores
The Israel Defense Forces on Monday successfully deployed the Iron Dome rocket defense system aboard a ship, declaring the maritime version of the highly effective interceptor fully operational.

Col. Ziv Barak, head of the Israeli Navy's Weapons Department, said the system has been deployed to defend Israel's ships and strategic assets at sea, including the country's offshore gas platforms.

The announcement followed a successful system test dubbed "Golden Opportunity," carried out by the Israeli Navy and the Air Defense Command.

As part of the test, the system was stationed on a helipad on the INS Lahav, a Saar 5-class corvette the navy uses in routine defense missions, and linked to its radar. The system then intercepted "projectiles that simulated existing threats in the region," a military official said.

"In many ways, the test's range – the type of targets and the interface between the systems – simulated a scenario that we could very well face in the next conflict with Gaza," Air Defense Commander Brig. Gen. Tzvika Haimovich told Israel Hayom.
IsraellyCool: WATCH: Palestinian Ambassador to U.K: As A Student I Hit Israeli For Claiming Falafel As Their Food
Pita the fool.

Palestinian Ambassador to the U.K. Manuel Hassassian has a few “SS”‘s in his name, and it seems appropriate. In an interview translated by the indispensable MEMRI, he admits to hitting an Israeli student back in the day – for presenting falafel and hummus as Israeli food.

What chutzpah that he denies Jewish history in the land of Israel and then complains we stole their folklore!

You also have to laugh when he mentions that “in the US, they call [hitting someone] an assault.” Because I guess where he comes from, they call it “act of bravery.”

Also funny: the actor in the skit mentioning he hated the word “four” as it reminded him of “that lowlife British Zionist Balfour.” We already knew Mahmoud Abbas hates the number four as well – since he is in the 13th year of his four-year term!
Egyptian commentator blames Israel and 'int'l Zionism' for Sinai mosque massacre
A commentator in Egypt’s largest independent daily newspaper has accused “international Zionism” of being behind Friday’s mosque massacre in North Sinai.

Abdul-Nassar Salama, writing Monday in al-Masry al-Youm, argued that Israel was interested in emptying Sinai of its inhabitants and reoccupying it as part of an expansionist agenda.

Salama quoted a tribal leader in Sinai, Aref al-Akir, as having said on television that the carnage, in which 305 people were killed, was “manufactured” by Israel in order to empty Sinai. “We should take this seriously,” Salama advised.

“When incidents large or small happen in any place, the criminal investigation should start with the question ‘Who is benefiting?’” Salama wrote.

“When the event is so big it goes beyond criminal groups and when the incident is so big it goes beyond the level of humanity, then we should direct the motive to inhumane characters. There is nothing more criminal than international Zionism. We have a history of recorded massacres committed by them.”

He continued, “No one can deny that only Israel is interested in emptying Sinai of its citizens. Nobody denies that Israel wishes to return to Sinai. It is the spot where God spoke to Moses his prophet.”
Egyptian news site notices BBC’s terror terminology double standards
Given the above response from BBC Complaints one can only conclude that “the BBC would not wish to appear to be taking sides” against terrorists who cold-bloodedly murdered hundreds of civilians, including children, in a place of worship.

An Egyptian independent news website has also taken note of the terminology used by the BBC.

“On Friday, as hundreds of worshipers gathered to pray in Al-Rawda mosque in Egypt’s North Sinai, a group of unidentified individuals opened fire and used explosives, killing at least 305 people and injuring more than 100 others.

Following the attack, a number of media organisations used the word ‘militant’ to describe the attackers, while others used the word ‘terrorist’.

Internationally, prominent news organisations used the word ‘militant’. The New York Times headline stated ‘Militants Kill 235 at Sufi Mosque in Egypt’s Deadliest Terrorist Attack’. Meanwhile, the BBC referred to the attackers as militants throughout its article.”

Once again we see that the BBC’s long-standing failure to distinguish between method and aims produces inconsistent reporting, with journalists sometimes following the problematic BBC guidelines on ‘Language when Reporting Terrorism’ and sometimes not – often depending upon geographical location of the story. That approach is clearly in need of serious and urgent review if the corporation intends its audiences to believe that its reporting is impartial.
Hariri says Hezbollah must remain neutral to ensure Lebanon moves forward
Lebanese Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri said on Monday that the political and militant group Hezbollah must stop interfering in regional conflicts and accept a neutral policy to bring an end to Lebanon's political crisis.

The Iranian-backed Hezbollah, which forms part of the Lebanese government, is fighting alongside Syrian President Bashar Assad in Syria and Iraq against Islamic State militants.

Gulf monarchies have accused the Shi'ite group of also supporting the Houthi group in Yemen and backing militants in Bahrain. Hezbollah denies any activity in Yemen or Bahrain.

Hariri's main patron is Saudi Arabia, Iran's main regional rival, which has also intervened in regional conflicts.

"I don't want a political party in my government that interferes in Arab countries against other Arab countries," Hariri said in an interview recorded on Monday with French broadcaster CNews.

"I am waiting for the neutrality which we agreed on in the government," he said. "One can't say one thing and do something else."

Hariri shocked Lebanon on Nov 4 by resigning from his post in a statement from Saudi Arabia. His resignation, however, has not yet been accepted.
Laundering Iran's Nukes - Again
Weeks before the Obama State Department pushed through JCPOA, it seemed reasonable to compare the deal to a money-laundering operation enabling Iran to legitimize its illicit nuclear program simply by waiting 10 years for the agreement to expire -- after which there are no longer any constraints on its nuclear program. It is surely, as critics have pointed out, the most one-sided diplomatic agreement the U.S. has ever entered.

Obama gets to boast about his deal, but the people of the U.S. got almost nothing. The deal was front-loaded so that billions of dollars were given to the Iranian regime, including a $400 million ransom payment for four Americans held in Iran. Removal of strict sanctions brought in an estimated $700 million per month. Everyone knows that Iran will spend the money in ways contrary to American interests. Even John Kerry acknowledged that much of it would go towards supporting Iran's terrorist proxies.

The European nations got the illusion of safety behind the 2,000 km limit on Iran's missiles, but that safety-zone is only as good as the regime's promise. The end of the sanctions also gave European companies the opportunity for extensive new business deals with Iran. European industrial firms that manufacture Inconel steel and other dual-use components necessary for assembling a nuclear weapon are undoubtedly happy. With the "strict" sanctions removed, European companies will be able to sell Iran the material and knowledge it needs without the subterfuge Saddam Hussein had required for Iraq's illicit nuclear weapons development.

Perhaps the biggest loser is Israel. It watched the maneuverings of the United States, its closest ally, make its most capable foe even more dangerous.

Upon leaving office, Obama had given away all the leverage the U.S. assembled since the Ayatollah Khomeini's "students" stormed the U.S. Embassy in Tehran in 1979. The kindest interpretation of these events is that his judgment was blinded by his zeal to reach a grand bargain with Tehran. The result is an emboldened Iran, with the "right to enrich" uranium.
Iran Shows Prisoners on State Television in Seeming Attempt to Pressure U.S., UK Governments
Ahead of decisions of importance to Tehran by United States and U.K. governments, the Iranian state television showed footage of two foreign nationals who have been jailed by the regime, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reported Monday.

The spouses of Xiyue Wang, an American graduate student, and Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a British-Iranian dual citizen who works for the Thomson Reuters Foundation, believe that the broadcasts were meant to send signals to the governments of the United States and United Kingdom.

Hua Qu, Wang’s wife, told the Associated Press that the public broadcast of her husband’s image comes ahead of the deadline the U.S. Congress has to reconsider whether to reimpose sanctions that were lifted as part of the nuclear deal with Iran. In October, President Donald Trump refused to certify the nuclear deal on grounds that the sanctions relief for Iran were no longer “appropriate and proportional,” leaving it up to Congress, according the Corker-Cardin bill, to decide whether to continue waiving the sanctions that were lifted.

Similarly, the U.K. government is considering paying Iran $530 million due to an arms deal that was cancelled after Iran’s 1979 revolution. Richard Ratcliffe told the AP that the decision to broadcast appears to be intended to pressure the government to release the money.

Though Zaghari-Ratcliffe is a dual citizen, Iran doesn’t recognize dual citizenship and refuses to give access to consular services.

Reuters reported earlier this month that since the nuclear deal was implemented, Iran has arrested at least 30 dual citizens.
Iran regime hails ‘hero’ wrestler who lost match to avoid Israeli
The Iranian athlete seems to abandon the fight completely and lets himself be dominated after a voice shouts out in Persian: “You must lose, Alireza!”

The hashtag #youmustlose was trending Monday in Iran, with comments both for and against his actions, some of them hostile to Iran’s authorities and others saluting his stand.

Despite forfeiting a podium place in the tournament, the wrestler received the backing of his government and the Iranian wrestling federation.

“Your noble and heroic action in the world competition in Poland, abandoning the medal and the podium in support of the highest human values, ​​is a source of pride and praise,” an official statement on the website of the youth and sports ministry said, addressing the young wrestler.

The country’s wrestling federation in its own statement hinted that he had acted in a similar manner previously in 2013.

“It is the second time that you have risen up against the oppression of the Palestinian people by abandoning your rights in an act of absolute submission,” the federation wrote.

Quoted by the ISNA news agency, the coach of the national free wrestling team, Mohammad Talaie, called Karimi-Mashiani a “deserving young man,” and appealed for this to be recognized by the authorities.

But among the many indignant tweets was one from reformist MP Mahmud Sadeghi, who said: “It is not difficult not to face an opponent so you do not recognize the false identity of his government,” but “it is very difficult to be forced to weakness and forced to defeat a rival.”

“If he decides to go fight in the colors of another country, no one can say he sold out his homeland,” said another tweet.

Another railed: “Do the authorities not say that Israel is evil? Instead of running away, let us rise up and fight and defeat them.”
Israel ‘expects’ its chess players to make history by playing in Saudi tourney
Israeli chess players could make history by participating in a tournament in Saudi Arabia after the international chess governing body on Tuesday said it was pushing to allow it to happen.

A spokesman for the Israel Chess Federation told AFP seven players had filed requests for visas to participate in the games to be held in Riyadh on December 26-30 as part of the world rapid and blitz chess championships.

Israel and Saudi Arabia have no official relations. The presence of Israelis there would be highly unusual, and comes as officials from the Jewish state increasingly hint at covert ties with the Sunni-ruled kingdom.

Israel and Saudi Arabia share a common fear of Iran’s attempts to increase its influence in the region.

Georgios Makropoulos, deputy president of the World Chess Federation (FIDE), said that the papers of the seven Israeli chess players — five men and two women — had been handed to the Saudi organizers “and the visa status is currently pending.”

“We are making a huge effort to assure that all players get their visas,” Makropoulos said in a Tuesday statement.

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