Monday, April 30, 2018

From Ian:

Netanyahu: Iran ‘brazenly lied’ about nuclear program, continued work after deal
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accused Iran of lying about its nuclear program in a speech broadcast live Monday, revealing information he said showed the Islamic Republic had for years worked on developing nuclear weapons, and continued to pursue such weapons even after signing the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers.

The premier, who has repeatedly called for the accord between world powers and Iran to either be altered or scrapped, said Israel had obtained 100,000 secret Iranian files “a few weeks ago in a great intelligence achievement.”

Speaking in English at the Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv, Netanyahu gave a presentation including videos and slides he said exposed Iran’s nuclear dossier.

“You may well know that Iran’s leaders repeatedly deny ever pursuing nuclear weapons,” he said, before playing clips of Iran’s supreme leader, president and foreign minister denying the country ever sought such capabilities weapons.

“Iran lied. Big time,” said Netanyahu, adding that the trove included a half-ton of material.

The cache, he said, contained “incriminating documents, incriminating charts, incriminating presentations, incriminating blueprints, incriminating photos, incriminating videos and more.

After Netanyahu’s speech, Trump says ‘I’ve been 100 percent right’ on Iran
Shortly after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech detailing covert Iranian efforts to build a nuclear program, and with less than two weeks before his deadline to exit the nuclear accord with Tehran, US President Donald Trump on Monday said the deal was “unacceptable” in its present form.

Responding to Netanyahu’s broadcast in which the prime minister revealed that Israel had obtained 100,000 secret Iranian documents pertaining to the program, Trump said, “What’s happening today and what’s happened over the last little while and what we’ve learned has really shown that I’ve been 100 percent right.

“That is just not an acceptable situation, and I’ve been saying that’s happening,” he went on in the White House Rose Garden, alongside Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari. “They’re not sitting back idly; they’re setting off missiles, which they say are for television purposes? I don’t think so.”

The American leader also declined to share whether he’s decided to walk away from the landmark agreement by May 12, the next deadline to waive sanctions against the Islamic Republic under the deal. Trump last signed those waivers in January, but he said he would not again unless Congress and European allies amend the pact.

“We’ll see what happens,” he said. “I’m not telling you what I’m doing, but a lot of people think they know. On or before the 12th, we’ll make a decision. That doesn’t mean we won’t negotiate a real agreement. You know, this is an agreement that wasn’t approved by too many people, and it’s a horrible agreement for the United States, including the fact… that we gave Iran $150 billion and $1.8 billion in cash.

“You know what we got?” Trump continued. “We got nothing. That doesn’t mean I wouldn’t negotiate a new agreement, we’ll see what happens.”

The Duplicitous Diplomat: Seven Deceptions Iranian FM Zarif Told Face the Nation
4) “We never wanted to produce a bomb.”

Later on Zarif reiterated this, saying, “Iran commits itself never to develop a nuclear weapon.”

In fact, a 2007 National Intelligence Estimate assessed that Iran had sought to develop a nuclear weapon until 2003. The IAEA, in 2015, prior to implementation of the nuclear deal in January 2016, determined that Iran was attempting to design a nuclear weapon at least until 2009. Iran also failed to answer all of the questions asked of it about its nuclear program by the IAEA prompting The New York Times to observe, “Iran’s refusal to cooperate on central points could set a dangerous precedent as the United Nations agency tries to convince other countries with nuclear technology that they must fully answer queries to determine if they have a secret weapons program.”

Iran has tried to develop nuclear weapons in the past and no matter what’s written on a piece of paper (that Iran never signed), Iran can be expected to do so in the future.

  • Monday, April 30, 2018
  • Elder of Ziyon
Elder of Lobby noticed this in the Ottoman Imperial Archives:

Let's look at that caption a little closer, shall we?

I guess this is when the Muslims that claim there was never a Jewish Temple on the site regroup and decide that Solomon was a Muslim.

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  • Monday, April 30, 2018
  • Elder of Ziyon
The Western media has been downplaying the meaning of "return" in the weekly Gaza "Great Return March" riots.

But to Palestinian Arabs, the meaning has always been clear. They intend to "return" to take over Jaffa, Haifa, Tiberias and Nazareth more than they want an independent state in the West Bank.

Here is a poster that the PLO - the official representative of the Palestinians to the world - has released for "Nakba Day":

When they say that there is "no alternative to return" they know, and their people know, exactly what that means.

Yasir Arafat said this about "return" in 1980: "Peace for us means the destruction of Israel. We are preparing for an all-out war, a war which will last for generations… We shall not rest until the day when we return to our home, and until we destroy Israel."

Nothing that the PLO has done since then, including Oslo, has contradicted this basic position. And for proof of that - see what Arafat said after Oslo.

In 1995, in a speech celebrating the birth of his daughter, he said, "The Israelis are mistaken if they think we do not have an alternative to negotiations. By Allah I swear they are wrong. The Palestinian people are prepared to sacrifice until either the last boy and the last girl raise the Palestinian flag over the walls, the churches and the mosques of Jerusalem."

In 1996, in a speech to Arab diplomats, he said, "The PLO will now concentrate on splitting Israel psychologically into two camps... We plan to eliminate the State of Israel and establish a Palestinian state. We will make life unbearable for Jews by psychological warfare and population explosion. Jews will not want to live among Arabs. I have no use for Jews. They are and remain Jews. We now need all the help we can get from you in our battle for a united Palestine under Arab rule."

Also in 1996, Arafat is quoted as saying in a speech in Stockholm, “We will not bend or fail until the blood of every last Jew from the youngest child to the oldest elder is spilled to redeem our land!”

The PLO has never, ever repudiated Arafat's words. On the contrary, it and Abbas has emphasized how they have not changed their position one bit since 1988.

If they wanted to build a country, they would welcome all Palestinians into the areas they control. They wouldn't want to send them to an enemy country that they teach their children routinely kills them. 

But this poster, just like Arafat's statements, proves that the intent of the Palestinian leadership was never to build a nation but to destroy one. 

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From Ian:

Netanyahu to announce ‘significant’ new info on Iran’s nuclear program
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will announce a “significant development” regarding Iran’s nuclear deal with world powers in a live speech at 8 p.m. Monday, his office said.

Netanyahu will give the statement at the Defense Ministry headquarters in Tel Aviv.

According to Hadashot news and Channel 10 news, Netanyahu will reveal intelligence information, based on a large cache of documents recently obtained by Israel, which he believes proves Iran has duped the world regarding the state of its nuclear program.

Channel 10 reported that Netanyahu will speak in English, in order for the announcement to reach a worldwide audience.

Ahead of his remarks, Netanyahu cancelled a speech he was to make at the Knesset and his Likud party called off its weekly faction meeting due to the security tensions. The opposition Zionist Union and Yesh Atid parties withdrew their proposed no-confidence vote in the government. Given the “sensitive” security situation, it was appropriate to “show a unified front,” said Zionist Union MK Yoel Hasson.
Palestinians must make peace or shut up, Saudi crown prince said to tell US Jews
At a meeting with Jewish leaders in New York last month, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman castigated the Palestinian leadership for rejecting opportunities for peace with Israel for decades, and said they should either start accepting peace proposals or “shut up.”

Citing what it said were multiple sources, Israel’s Channel 10 News on Sunday night quoted what it said were remarks made by the crown prince at the meeting that left those who were present “staggered” by the ferocity of his criticism of the Palestinians.

“For the past 40 years, the Palestinian leadership has missed opportunities again and again, and rejected all the offers it was given,” the Saudi leader reportedly said.

“It’s about time that the Palestinians accept the offers, and agree to come to the negotiating table — or they should shut up and stop complaining,” he reportedly went on.

Prince Salman also told the US Jewish leaders that “the Palestinian issue is not at the top of the Saudi government’s agenda” and elaborated, “There are much more urgent and more important issues to deal with — such as Iran,” according to the TV report.
Officials: Trump 'seriously considering' letting Pollard move to Israel
US President Donald Trump is “seriously considering” changing the parole conditions of Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard to allow him to come to Israel, Israeli officials said at The Jerusalem Post Conference in New York on Sunday.

Pollard was paroled from prison in November 2015 after serving 30 years of a life sentence for spying for Israel, America’s ally. But his parole conditions prevent him from leaving New York State and moving to, or even visiting Israel.

In a recent conversation with a visitor to New York, Pollard revealed that he and his wife, Esther, were suffering from poor health and had dealt with significant medical challenges over the past year.

Asked if he had hope that the Trump administration would commute his sentence and allow him to go to Israel, Pollard told the visitor he met on the street: “I am praying for a miracle. I just want to come home.”

Intelligence Services Minister Israel Katz said allowing Pollard to come to Israel would be another welcome gesture by the Trump administration when the US Embassy moves to Jerusalem.

“In order to make the celebration even happier, I would like to ask our great friend President Trump to give the Israeli public one more present and to allow Jonathan Pollard to come to Israel and celebrate with us in Jerusalem,” Katz said.

The price even a non-intentional embrace of anti-Israel propaganda places on the believer was brought home to me during a recent conversation with a good friend, whose opinion I respect on all matters, who was aghast at the bloodletting at the Gaza border over the last month.

Interestingly, she was willing to accept that the thousands of rockets shot from Gaza into Israel over the last decade constitutes acts of war, and was even willing to believe that Hamas was responsible for civilian casualties on its own side if it placed its rockets in civilian locations. And, with a little cross-examination, she was ready to give up her original assertion that the tunnels Hamas has been digging incessantly into Israel were not a means of civilian resupply, but rather tools of war.

But neither of these understandings could budge her from the opinion that Israel’s use of live fire to protect its border with Gaza was appropriate or legitimate. “You don’t shoot people,” she kept coming back to. In other words, she believes that the IDF has the right and responsibility to arrest, detain and do whatever other non-lethal things it could to protect the people it defends from harm, but that shooting should be a last resort to be applied only when actual lives are in danger.

Now keep in mind that my interlocutor is a decent and moral person, as well as being highly intelligent. But as we went through a series of logic-based arguments regarding the difference between war and crime fighting, the fact that a majority of those killed were jihadi fighters, or nature of the Hamas regime and its primary role in creating Gaza’s misery, I was clearly unable to shake her of the belief that undergirded her primary response to current events: that you shouldn’t shoot people if you don’t have to.

And you know what? She’s right! In the ordinary course of life, and even in policing and warfare, you shouldn’t shoot people if other effective choices are available. But given that non-shooting options, like the construction of a separation barrier in the West Bank (which all but eliminated casualties from both terror and the fight against it) has become Exhibit A for the Israel = Apartheid propaganda slur, it’s not at all clear that promises to judge Israel less harshly if it does something to defend itself other than what it’s doing right now will ever be kept.

Getting back to Gaza, it continues to surprise me just how many false things one must believe to accept the anti-Israel narrative. For instance, images and video that incontestably show the violent nature of the Hamas-inspired marches is on display for all to see. But this must be put aside in order to declare the marches and the marchers “peaceful,” or non-violence must be redefined to make room for Molotov cocktails, incendiaries, swastikas, and the occasional live ammunition.

One must also believe that even if rocket fire and the digging of infiltration tunnels – the primary activity of those who govern Gaza – might be warlike, this new tactic (charging the border week after week) is peaceful.

And I won’t even mention the things that didn’t come up in our conversation, such as Hamas’ attitude and behavior towards women, gays and religious minorities (never mind its medieval beliefs about Jews), things that should appall anyone who believes in the rights of such groups to not suffer humiliation, torture and death – not to mention the rights of the individual to live as he or she likes.
In trying to understand how good and smart people can believe bad and stupid things, I keep coming back to the concept of ruthlessness. While you can see a description of the phenomena here, and a much longer one in this series, it is easiest to sum up the concept with its most vivid example.

After World War I, the loss of a generation left the nations of Europe exhausted, demoralized and ready to consider any alternative superior to war. In theory, this laid the groundwork for finding new ways to settle disputes other than armed conflict. But, in one of history’s typical ironies, it also meant anyone ready to trigger another war would have enormous leverage over those who wanted to avoid war at all cost.

Thus, Adolf Hitler’s choice to threaten to reignite the continent if his territorial demands were not meant was not the act of a crazy monster, but rather the rational calculation of a ruthless actor who was ready to do every day what others could not even contemplate.

Today, when war is even more destructive and attitudes towards it even more hostile, most people can’t contemplate that this beast called ruthlessness still drives the decision making of political actors. Accepting that Israel’s enemies deliberately put their own civilians at risk in order to either kill or malign Jews and maintain power means accepting that ruthless actors are still doing things that decent people have trouble even imagining.

And one way of not thinking about something that puts your whole world view in jeopardy (especially a world view which hopes for an end to armed conflict altogether) is to strip away the dark corners of reality, replacing difficult moral choices – especially those that arise when faced with a ruthless foe – with comforting bromides, like “shooting people is bad.”

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  • Monday, April 30, 2018
  • Elder of Ziyon

Israeli reporter Barak Ravid writes in Axios:
In a closed-door meeting with heads of Jewish organizations in New York on March 27th, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman (MBS) gave harsh criticism of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen), according to an Israeli foreign ministry cable sent by a diplomat from the Israeli consulate in New York, as well three sources — Israeli and American — who were briefed about the meeting.

The bottom line of the crown prince's criticism: Palestinian leadership needs to finally take the proposals it gets from the U.S. or stop complaining.

According to my sources, the Saudi Crown Prince told the Jewish leaders:

"In the last several decades the Palestinian leadership has missed one opportunity after the other and rejected all the peace proposals it was given. It is about time the Palestinians take the proposals and agree to come to the negotiations table or shut up and stop complaining." 
MBS also made two other points on the Palestinian issue during the meeting:

He made clear the Palestinian issue was not a top priority for the Saudi government or Saudi public opinion. MBS said Saudi Arabia "has much more urgent and important issues to deal with" like confronting Iran's influence in the region.
Regardless of all his criticism of the Palestinian leadership, MBS also made clear that in order for Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states to normalize relations with Israel there will have to be significant progress on the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.
We've noted rumors of this sort before, and we've observed the definite change in behavior by the Saudis towards the Palestinian leadership over the last several years, this is the most reliable source for current Saudi thinking about Palestinian leadership yet.

(h/t 20committee)

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From the New York Times:

 Secretary of State Mike Pompeo came to Israel Sunday in the midst of the worst crisis in relations between Israelis and Palestinians in years, but he did not meet a single Palestinian representative and mentioned them publicly once.

For decades, American diplomats saw themselves as brokers between the two sides, and secretaries of state typically met Palestinian representatives on regional tours like this one. When relations between the two sides deteriorated, the United States sought to bridge the divide.

No more.

No one at the State Department called Palestinian leaders to ask for a get-together with Mr. Pompeo, according to Palestinian officials.
Finally, in paragraph 4, the NYT explains possibly why Pompeo didn't try to talk to Palestinian leaders:
 And that may be because the Americans knew the answer they would have gotten: No.
 In January, Vice President Pence tried to visit the Palestinian leadership and he was rebuffed. And the method of refusing to meet him was calculated to be an insult to him and to the United States.

Since then, the Palestinian leaders have led the charge in trying to isolate the US at the UN, with anti-US Security Council and General Assembly resolutions.

But the New York Times has no bad words to say about what this tells us about the Palestinian rejection of the peace process. No, only the US is blamed:
“No meeting in Ramallah on his first visit sets an ominous tone about prospects for any progress, or even dialogue, with the Palestinians,” said Daniel B. Shapiro, an American ambassador to Israel during the Obama administration.

Aaron David Miller, a former negotiator for the United States in the Middle East, said Mr. Pompeo’s seeming indifference toward the Palestinians “at the very least suggests a casual disregard of the Israeli-Palestinian explosion that may be building and the U.S.’s inability or unwillingness to influence the course of events.”
It is possible that Shapiro and Miller - who are no idiots -  also blamed the PLO's intransigence in their interviews, but the New York Times isn't interested in assigning blame anyone but members of the Trump administration.

Oh, and that headline that implies that Pompeo is the one who said they have "nothing to discuss" was actually a quote from a PLO official, in paragraph 6.

Would it have been better for Pompeo to have publicly announced he wanted to meet with Abbas, to be humiliated again?

Apparently that is what the New York Times wants.

To the editors of that newspaper, the Palestinians have no responsibility for their actions. On the contrary, their anti-peace actions are considered reasonable.

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Sunday, April 29, 2018

  • Sunday, April 29, 2018
  • Elder of Ziyon
This is the sort of thing that US ambassadors have done in Israel for a long time, but since the world likes to label David Friedman as an anti-Arab settler or whatever, it is fun to show that he wholeheartedly supports Arabs in Israel .

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  • Sunday, April 29, 2018
  • Elder of Ziyon
I received this email from J-Street:

We need your help to fight this administration’s complacency on the dire situation in Gaza.
Senator Bernie Sanders has drafted a letter, signed by several colleagues, urging the State Department to act now to stem the violence and help alleviate Gaza’s humanitarian crisis.  
The letter outlines specific steps the US government can take, including:
  • Restoring funding for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, which provides support for hundreds of thousands of refugees in Gaza;
  • Helping build the infrastructure and economy of Gaza and relieve shortages on water and electricity and help reduce the Strip’s reliance on outside aid; and 
  • Encouraging the easing of restrictions on the movement of people, goods and equipment in and out of Gaza.
UNRWA should not exist. Gazans may need aid but UNRWA is not the vehicle for it, since it was meant to be a temporary agency and now it does far more evil than it does good. Pointedly, J-Street does no tcal lfor it to be reformed, for the "right of return" that it insists on to be treated like the thinly veiled wish to destroy Israel that it is.

Israel's restrictions on people and goods is for Israel's self defense. If J-Street has studies that show it can be done better without impacting Israel's security, I'd love to see it. As it is, J-Street's position has consistently been that if the Israeli government does something, it oppose it.

As far as paragraph 2 is concerned, that shows J-Street's hypocrisy even more. Haaretz reported in February:
Israel presented humanitarian assistance plans at the gathering for the rehabilitation of the Gaza Strip with a focus on desalination, electricity and natural gas infrastructure projects in addition to upgrading of the industrial zone at the Erez border crossing with Israel. The total cost of the projects is estimated at a billion dollars, which Israel asked the international community to fund.
Isn't this what J-Street is demanding with the Sanders letter? Yet J-Street did not say a word in support of Israel's plan to build Gaza's infrastructure in ways that would help Gazans and not endanger Israelis.

J-Street doesn't give a damn about Gazans. They are just using them to bash Israel - just like the Palestinian Authority itself. As far as I can tell, J-Street never once condemned Mahmoud Abbas for restricting medicine and power to Gaza.

This Sanders letter does not even pretend to address Israel's security concerns.

J-Street. Anti-Israel.

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  • Sunday, April 29, 2018
From Ian:

After Hamas leader calls on crowd to become martyrs, hundreds surge Gaza-Israel border fence
Hamas seems to have found its sweet spot.

Under cover of civilian protests, backed by clouds of smoke from burning tires, it sends operatives to try to breach the Israeli border fence. A fence breach would be used to surge hundreds or even thousands of people into Israeli giving Hamas a propaganda victory. Such a breach also would be used by Hamas military operatives for terror operations — that’s why such a high percentage of those killed at the fence have been Hamas or other terror group military members.

Western leftists, particularly in the media, are repeating the false claim that these are peaceful protests by civilians who pose no threat. Amnesty International — which always is hostile to Israel — has issued a call for an international arms embargo against Israel because of its use of deadly force. But these are no mere protests, they are attempts to invade a military border and that puts the use of deadly force in a completely different context.

The protests so far are a mere prelude to the big event, when Hamas plans to surge thousands, perhaps tens of thousands, of people toward the border fence on May 15, 2018, the day after the 70th Anniversary of Israel’s founding (using the Christian calendar) and “Nakba Day,” the day on which Palestinians mourn the creation of Israel.
Hamas terrorist tries to damage Gaza security fence
IDF forces on Sunday morning identified a Hamas terrorist attempting to harm the security infrastructure at the Karni cargo crossing.

The soldiers arrested the terrorist, who was working under the cover of fog, and transferred him for interrogation.

In a statement, the IDF said, "This is another terror activity, through which the Hamas terror organization attempts to infiltrate Israeli territory and harm its citizens."

"This is part of the process which the Hamas terror organization attempts to grant a civilian cover to its terror activities, and to turn the border area into a war zone.

"The IDF is determined to act, and to fulfill its obligation to protect Israeli citizens and not to allow damage to the security infrastructures which protect them."

  • Sunday, April 29, 2018
  • Elder of Ziyon

Ma'an reports that Arabs have been heartened by the collapse of small sections of the security barrier from recent major rainfall.

When nature intervenes and sections of the wall are torn apart by torrential rains on Thursday, near the Shu'fat refugee camp in occupied Jerusalem, the "force" of the occupier collapses.
It is as if Mother Nature tells the occupier ... "Your walls and occupation are fleeting  and not getting stronger."
I have not once seen a single Arab commentator say, you know, if we weren't blowing up buses and pizza shops, that wall would never have been built to begin with.

Nor have I ever seen a commentator in Arabic claim that when Hamas tunnels collapse from rain (this used to happen very often to smuggling tunnels to Egypt) that is was a sign from Mother Nature that their tunnels were immoral.

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  • Sunday, April 29, 2018
  • Elder of Ziyon
From Al Jazeera:

The legislative body of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) is set to discuss suspending the recognition of Israel, in addition to several other critical issues of Palestinian politics.

For the first time in nine years, the Palestinian National Council (PNC) is scheduled to convene in Ramallah on Monday, in a meeting that has Palestinians split between supporters and opponents of the gathering.

The PNC is expected to vote in a new 18-member Executive Committee of the PLO, the governing body of the organisation, and discuss transforming the Palestinian Authority, which governs parts of the occupied West Bank, into a state with its own institutions and monetary system.

Dominant Palestinian faction, Fatah decided to push ahead with convening the PNC, despite the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) boycotting the meeting.

Critics, however, argue that Abbas' insistence to convene the PNC is motivated by ensuring his legacy and preserving the interests of his Fatah faction.

They fear that once Abbas, 82, guarantees the formation of a loyalist PNC and PLO executive body, he would then work to guarantee the continuity of his vision after he leaves the scene.

Maher Obeid, a senior Hamas official, told Al Jazeera that Abbas did not want Hamas to participate unless it surrenders to its conditions and gives up its armed resistance to Israeli occupation.

"Abbas wants to exact revenge on Hamas for his own personal reasons," Obeid said.

Hamas issued a statement rejecting the "convening of the Council under the bayonets of the occupation".

In the end, this is all Abbas. Nothing will be agreed upon unless Abbas supports it. The meeting is a joke meant to make his dictatorship look slightly more democratic.

The PLO has lots of organizations that make it up, but the only one that matters is Abbas' Fatah, which dominates it. Some of these organizations may only exist on paper only nowadays.

It is worth remembering that the entire reason the UN and many nations recognize the PLO as the representative of the Palestinians is because of Oslo, especially the letter than Yasir Arafat wrote recognizing Israel and repudiating terror.

If the PLO decides to nullify its recognition of Israel, then shouldn't it be kicked out of the UN?

The answer is, obviously it won't, because the second Intifada that the PLO wholeheartedly supported didn't even cause the slightest ripple in the world's support for the terror organization.

The PLO officially nullifying recognition of Israel  (or even considering it) will prove one thing, though: any future negotiations where the Palestinians promise something on their side, their promises may be automatically assumed to be a lie. Look how easy it is for them to nullify their solemn agreements!

The further irony is that the Arabs and Muslims delight in telling their children that Jews are the ones who do not keep their agreements.

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  • Sunday, April 29, 2018
  • Elder of Ziyon

I thought the Zionists owned Hollywood.

From the Kashmir Observer:

Award winning American director, Oliver Stone has said the United States is a global "outlaw" that has made a mess of the Middle East.

In a wide-ranging press conference held during his first visit to Iran, Oliver Stone expressed appreciation for Iran's extensive history and recent cinematic accomplishments, criticized American policy toward the Middle East, and voiced his wish that acclaimed Iranian director Jafar Panahi would be allowed to attend the Cannes Film Festival to witness the premiere of his latest film.

Spending a week in Iran as a guest of the Fajr International Film Festival, Stone answered questions from journalists in the Charsou complex in Tehran.

The press conference was his third public appearance since arriving in Tehran on Monday, when he participated in a master class at Tehran University. On Tuesday, he was interviewed for live on Iranian TV, during which he ignored a request to avoid the subject of politics and criticized the Trump administration for including John Bolton, an anti-Iran hawk, on its national security team.

He also denounced what he called the "lies...of the Israeli right-wing press" including reports that he had requested an interview with former Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2006.
The closest I found to this story was from that famous right-wing Israeli newspaper The Guardian,  which claimed in 2007 that Stone wanted to make a documentary about Ahmadinejad and was turned down. Also, Stone's son converted to Islam and denied Ahmadinejad's Holocaust denial on Fox News in 2012.

Stone, director of politically charged factual movies such as Nixon, Looking for Fidel and Snowden, as well as classics such as Midnight Express and Platoon, went on to blame the US for much of the violence and trauma that has rocked parts of the region in recent years: "America, combined with ISIS, and Israel aims to destroy the Middle East and make it a parking lot for America; to make it over and I think it is a very destructive plan and it is a tragedy," he said.

 "I think it makes no difference who the president of the US is," he asserted.

"When Obama came [to power], we were hopeful that the situation would get better but nothing changed and now Mr Trump is here and the same stories are going on again. This octopus will continue its path again and again. Iran is the main target for the US, so it will not leave Syria until it gets access to Iran which is a rich country geopolitically."

Stone insisted his appearance at the festival was entirely non-political.
Yeah, sounds very non-political.

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Saturday, April 28, 2018

From Ian:

Ben-Dror Yemini: As global press ignores swastika kites, Hamas is winning propaganda war
The good news from the south is that the number of protestors in the “March of Return” is decreasing. Hamas is encouraging, calling, shouting, broadcasting, publishing—but the masses are staying away.

From one Friday to the next, the numbers are dropping. Tens of thousands in the first protest; only several thousand last Friday. In this sense, at least in the current stage, it’s a failure.

The bad news is that there is no need for hundreds or tens of thousands of protestors to succeed. Just one 15-year-old boy, whose death is being investigated, is excellent fuel for the anti-Israel propaganda. And if the moment he was hit was caught on camera, it’s double trouble. It’s a great opportunity for Knesset Member Ahmad Tibi, and not just him, to turn IDF soldiers into murderers, and it’s an opportunity for the UN envoy and other functionaries and “rights activists” to use their arsenal of propaganda rockets against Israel.

The events on the Gaza border have stopped occupying a lot of space in the global press. But Natalie Portman’s announcement, unintentionally, put Gaza back in the headlines, as did the UN envoy’s statement and the European Union’s demand for an investigation into the incident. The IDF, in any event, intends on investigating.

Let’s put things in order. First of all, any killing of an innocent person is unfortunate. Hamas gains, Israel’s enemies celebrate, and Israel is the only one that loses from the situation. No one has placed cameras on the US-Mexico border, although 412 infiltrators or work migrants were killed there in 2017, and 498 in 2016, including children. But the border between Israel and Gaza, as well as the points of friction in Hebron, seem to have the highest number of cameras in the world.
The Media, Palestinian Nazi Flags, and Hamas Talking Points
The Times of Israel, Haaretz, and other newspapers have published pictures of Hamas using children as human shields, yet these images — and the double war crime they illustrate — go unmentioned by major US press organizations.

Clear evidence of Palestinian violence exists, but many news outlets either ignore it or present it as merely an “Israeli claim.” By contrast, some in the media have had no problem regurgitating Hamas statements.

For example, Brian Stelter, who hosts a CNN show called “Reliable Sources,” treated the Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry as credible, repeating casualty figures supplied by that terrorist-controlled entity. In an anti-Israel screed masquerading as a “World Views” analysis, The Washington Post’s Ishaan Tharoor presented dead Palestinian terrorists as nonviolent civilians indiscriminately slaughtered by the IDF — long after they were publicly identified as belonging to terror groups.

But many in the media already have their talking points.

As Bassam Tawil noted in an April 18 Gatestone Institute report, Hamas’ “press office” has issued guidelines for how journalists should be covering the demonstrations. According to Tawil, “the first order that Hamas requires the journalists to obey is to refrain from focusing on the actions of individuals participating in the demonstrations.”

The directives, issued by a group with a history of kidnapping and intimidating journalists, require that the march be presented as a “peaceful and nonviolent civilian uprising.” The participation of terrorists must go unmentioned. Palestinian journalists — many of whom serve as producers, translators, and “fixers” for international news organizations — are instructed to highlight “the various personal and social aspects” of those killed at the border.

The goal is to single out Israel for international opprobrium, while securing greater aid relief for the Gaza Strip — despite the fact that Hamas has a long and documented history of pocketing aid money or using it to build “terror tunnels” to attack the Jewish state.

While many in the media have fixated on the “economic misery” of everyday Palestinians as a chief factor in the demonstrations, few have noted that a violent antisemitic terrorist group is clearly ill-suited to governing. To do so would require discussing Palestinian Nazi flags, kite bombs, and human shields. And that would mean departing from the Hamas-approved scripts.

Friday, April 27, 2018

From Ian:

The Myth of BDS Success
Anytime a student government votes to divest from Israel or a celebrity chooses not to perform in Israel a cry goes out throughout the Jewish world that Israel is in danger and the anti-Semitic boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign (BDS) is winning.

It is not true.

Take the example of celebrity boycotts. When Lorde cowardly gave in to pressure to cancel her Israel concert, the BDS trolls crowed and the pro-Israel activists expressed outrage.

What was the impact? A lot of disappointed Israeli fans.

Meanwhile, Jerry Seinfeld, Chris Rock, Backstreet Boys, Nick Cave, and Bryan Adams were among those who did perform in Israel. Upcoming shows include: Foreigner, Ringo Starr, Ozzy Osbourne and Enrique Iglesias. Yes, some celebrities (mostly B- and C-listers) are shunning Israel, but the BDSers have failed completely in orchestrating a mass artistic boycott.

Perhaps the biggest recent celebrity news was the vigorous attack on anti-Semites by author J.K. Rowling, a vocal opponent of BDS. After tweeting the definition of anti-Semitism in response to efforts by some of her followers to contort its meaning, she asked: “Would your response to any other form of racism or bigotry be to squirm, deflect or justify?” After revealing that Jews in her timeline were bombarded by anti-Jewish comments, Rowling said, “perhaps some of us non-Jews should start shouldering the burden.”

BDSers kvelled over Natalie Portman’s decision not to attend an awards ceremony in Israel. While she gave some comfort to them, her explanation for skipping the gala made her position clear: “I am not part of the BDS movement and do not endorse it.”

BDS campaigns on campus are troubling, but they are confined to fewer than 3% of all campuses. Also, contrary to claims that elite schools are particular targets, fewer than one-third of schools ranked in the top 50 have had a BDS vote in the last 13 years. Only 35 schools in the entire country have passed a divestment resolution in that period and 64% have been defeated.

IsraellyCool: ADL Retracts Libel Against Canary Mission, With Tail Between Their Legs
Following my ripping of the ADL and some pro-Israel campus groups for attacking the group Canary Mission – for the unforgivable crime of pointing out anti-Israel and antisemitic hate (but perhaps not because of it) – the ADL has publicly expressed their regret over the language they used.

The Anti-Defamation League said it regretted using “overly broad language” to describe the Canary Mission, a group that posts blacklists of what it says are anti-Israel students on campuses.

“We regret the overly broad language that we used to describe the Canary Mission in a tweet earlier this week,” an ADL spokesman said in an email Thursday evening after JTA asked the group to demonstrate where Canary Mission had deployed “Islamophobic & racist rhetoric,” as ADL had alleged in its tweet.

“It was wrong to apply those labels to a group working, like us, to counter anti-Semitism on campus,” the spokesman said, adding that it still backed some of the reservations expressed in an Op-Ed by pro-Israel students that decried Canary Mission’s tactics.

“We reiterate our support for the University of Michigan students who have expressed valid concerns about Canary Mission’s impact on student-led efforts to advocate for Israel,” the spokesman said. “We understand that the Canary Mission’s approach and its tactics on campus might not be the preferred approach of many students. We believe that all parties involved in this situation want the same outcome so we encourage them to find ways to work together to fight anti-Semitism and to support the needs of Jewish students.”
Dr. Martin Sherman: Natalie Portman as a symptom
Portman’s behavior throughout the entire affair has of course been indisputably imbecilic, infuriating and indefensible.

To begin with, the Genesis Prize Foundation is hardly an unknown quantity. Indeed, since its establishment five years ago, it has awarded its annual prize to an array of high profile individuals— Michael Bloomberg (2014), Michael Douglas (2015),Itzhak Perlman (2016), and Sir Anish Kapoor (2017). Except for Kapoor, all were awarded the prize at a glittering ceremony at which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke.

Significantly, the 2017 award ceremony was cancelled, not because of any recriminations against Israel, but because, as Kapoor requested, the ongoing horrors in Syria made it “inappropriate to hold a festive ceremony to honor Mr. Kapoor and his work on refugee issues…”

Moreover, the generic connection between the Genesis Foundation and the Prime Minister’s office is clearly touted on its website, where it is described as a “unique partnership”.

All this was clearly known—or should have been known—to Portman, who immediately after the 2015 elections expressedher aversion to Netanyahu and her dismay at his reelection.

Yet, evidently, none of this seemed to prevent her effusive acceptance of the prize when six months ago, it was announced that she was to be the 2018 recipient. Thus, early last November she gushed: “I am deeply touched and humbled by this honor. I am proud of my Israeli roots and Jewish heritage; they are crucial parts of who I am”.

  • Friday, April 27, 2018
  • Elder of Ziyon

The New York Times has an article about the assassination of Fadi al-Batsh in Malaysia, saying that it was a Mossad operation meant to hurt Hamas attempts at obtaining advanced weapons systems, especially drones. It also says that Batsh may have been working to obtain illegal weapons shipments from North Korea.

I noticed the article says that Batsh used to say that he was almost killed when Israel targeted his uncle's house in 2014. I remember the incident, and it was a classic case of a family's home almost certainly being used as a command and control center for Hamas.

Six of the al-Batsh family members killed in that one raid were members of Hamas.
Nahed Na’im al-Batsh. 41 , Qassam commander
Bahaa Majed al-Batsh, 28
Ahmad Nu’man al-Batsh, 27
Jalal Majed al-Batsh, 26
Zakariya Alaa Subhi al-Batsh
Yihya 'Alaa al-Batsh, 18

The uncle Taysir who owned the house was a Hamas police chief as well. (There was at least one other al-Batsh home targeted by Israel where the terrorist was killed along with his human shield family. )

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  • Friday, April 27, 2018
  • Elder of Ziyon
In a way, Guatemala's planned move of their embassy to Jerusalem is more important than Trump's decision to move the US embassy.

Palestinians have expended a great deal of political capital to isolate the US after the embassy move was announced. They are threatening and cajoling other nations because as long as the US is considered an anomaly and Trump a crazy person, they can make that move look like a temporary move that will be reversed when the next president comes along.

But when other countries follow suit, it is much harder to paint it that way. And PLO officials are seething at not only the planned embassy moves but also the trial balloons being floated in other countries, with open support from prominent politicians supporting the move. Every new news story about someone supporting it makes the Palestinian threats look emptier and emptier.

The outgoing president of Paraguay said he supported relocating his country’s embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem by mid-August, even though that seems unlikely.

And the rumblings are getting louder:

Earlier this month, the parliament of Honduras passed a nonbinding resolution calling for the country’s embassy to be moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
Other countries have also stated they will relocate their embassies. The president of the Czech Republic on Wednesday announced the beginning of a process that will move the country’s diplomatic missions from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, though it remains unclear if and when Prague will actually open an embassy in the holy city. In private conversations, European and Israeli officials acknowledge that Milos Zeman’s announcement by no means prefaces the speedy relocation of the Czech embassy.
On Thursday, Romanian Prime Minister Viorica Dancilas and the head of the country’s Chamber of Deputies, Liviu Dragnea — both ardent proponents of the embassy move — were in Jerusalem for meetings with top government officials.
As each nation considers it, the topic is no longer taboo. And that is what scares the PLO more than anything else. 

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From Ian:

Melanie Phillips: Three islands of exceptionalism in west's darkest hour
It is those liberal internationalists, after all, who are primarily responsible for the antisemitism and vilification of Israel now coursing through the Western intelligentsia.

And these same British and American liberals are also busily vilifying Britain and America, trying to destroy and transform their culture and emasculate Britain as a self-governing nation, for a similar reason to their hatred of Israel – that these are nations with a strong sense of their own exceptionalism.

That, of course, is why so many millions voted for Brexit and Trump – precisely because, in opposition to these elites, they wanted Britain and America once again to uphold and defend their national and cultural identity.

And that’s why liberals have become hysterical about President Trump’s stated aim of making America great again. It’s why those who want Britain to remain in the EU are hysterical about Brexit. And it’s why British audiences have been weeping and cheering at screenings of Darkest Hour.

It’s because at some level at least they know how the free society in which they so passionately believe has been systematically degraded, undermined and weakened by those who choose to portray Western cultural particularism as a form of bigotry.

As a result, the image of Churchill using the poetry of the English language to breathe into his people the courage and resolve to stand alone and fight to defend their nation’s exceptional values is almost unbearably moving.

Britain, America and Israel form a triple lock as islands of western exceptionalism. And whether or not their people recognize it, it is upon these three nations that the fate of the free world now depends.
Haley: Hamas using ‘children as cannon fodder’ in Gaza
The US ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, lashed out at Hamas Thursday, accusing the Palestinian terror group of “using children as cannon fodder,” following the deaths of dozens of people in clashes with Israeli forces during protests along with border in the Gaza Strip.

“Anyone who truly cares about children in Gaza should insist that Hamas immediately stop using children as cannon fodder in its conflict with Israel,” Haley told a UN Security Council meeting convened to discuss the situation in the Middle East.

Ahead of the meeting, the Israeli rights group B’Tselem urged the Security Council to protect Palestinians taking part in the demonstrations on the border.

In an unusual move, the group’s executive director, Hagai El-Ad, wrote to UN Secretary General António Guterres, saying: “Preventing further loss of life is a responsibility that must be shouldered without delay.”
Hagai El-Ad, executive director of B’Tselem, at a press conference in Tel Aviv, February 5, 2016. (AFP/Jack Guez)

Tens of thousands of Gazans have taken part in Friday protests along the border with Israel, supported by the Hamas, which rules the coastal enclave. Hamas leaders say the ultimate aim of the demonstrations, dubbed “March of Return,” is to see the removal of the border and the liberation of Palestine.

B’Tselem gave a list of names and ages of 35 Palestinians it said were killed by Israel during the demonstrations.

The group described the victims as “unarmed” and said their deaths were “the predictable outcome of the manifestly illegal rules of engagement implemented during the demonstrations, of ordering soldiers to use lethal gunfire against unarmed demonstrators who pose no mortal danger.

Look How Palestinians Treat The Site Of Judaism's Holiest Place
A picture of the inside of the Dome of the Rock, which was built on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem where the ancient Jewish Temples were built, reveals the respect that the Palestinians have for a place whose ground is the holiest spot on Earth for the Jewish people:

Palestinians have treated the area of the Temple Mount with disdain for decades. Often they have displayed an active desire to destroy any evidence that the site was where the Jewish Temples stood in an effort to discredit the Jewish claim to Jerusalem, which dates back roughly 3,000 years.

In September 2,000, the Muslim Waqf refused permission for any archeological oversight by the Israel Antiquities Authority. Then it removed 13,000 tons of rubble from the Temple Mount and deposited it into the garbage; that rubble included archeological remnants from the First and Second Temple periods. For details see here.

A report in 2012 stated that the Muslim Waqf was continuing to destroy Jewish antiquities on the Temple Mount.

As Dr. Gabriel Barkay, professor emeritus from Bar-Ilan University and recipient of the 1996 Jerusalem Prize for Archeological Research, stated last October, “Temple denial started in the 1990s, even though the Islamic Wakf itself in the 1920s and ’30s issued booklets which were given to visitors of the Temple Mount in which they said the existence of the Temples is beyond any doubt. It was accepted and in the Islamic literature through the generations there is a plethora of mentions of Solomon’s Temple and the Temple of the Jews in Jerusalem, so it is very strange that they deny it now.”

  • Friday, April 27, 2018
  • Elder of Ziyon
This happens pretty much daily.

PA president Abbas' official spokesman, Nabil Abu Rudeina, said that any alternative peace plan to the minimum Palestinian demand for Jerusalem, 1967 lines, "right of return"  and so forth is doomed to failure and will be rejected outright.

But then he added the mob-style threat that every PLO and PA and Fatah leader always adds, saying that any peace plan that doesn't adhere to the Palestinian demands  "will create more tension and instability in the region and the world."

You can almost hear him saying, "We don't want you to get hurt, see?"

Western leaders simply ignore these threats, as if they weren't an admission that Palestinians and their supporters are violent, irrational people who will instigate violence unless they are mollified with every demand fully met. People just waiting for the signal to come out and start a war or a terror spree.

Yet there is no other interpretation.

Abu Rudenia even looks like  mobster:

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  • Friday, April 27, 2018
  • Elder of Ziyon
From Haaretz:

Anti-Semitic attacks occur every day in Germany, but since they aren’t filmed, they don’t go viral on Facebook and Twitter. Statistics published by the German government two months ago revealed that German police nationwide documented an average of four criminal incidents with an anti-Semitic motive every day last year, for a total of 1,453 incidents.

Yet these statistics are only partial, because they count only incidents reported to the police. ...

Statistics published by the German Interior Ministry show that one third of German Jews have experienced either verbal or physical anti-Semitism. Its survey found that Muslims are responsible for most of Germany’s anti-Semitic assaults, whether physical or verbal.

Although the video incident has prompted EU leaders to start to recognize this fact,  it has been known for years.

A report last year from the University of Oslo entitled "Antisemitic Violence in Europe, 2005-2015
Exposure and Perpetrators in France, UK, Germany, Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Russia" included this chart:

Neo-Nazi antisemitism is concerning and must be denounced. Just today there was an outrageous incident in France where an apparent neo-Nazi tried to take hostages at a Jewish museum

However, Muslim and Arab antisemitism is worse and more prevalent, and has been swept under the rug for too long since the left-leaning media and academia don't want to make Muslims look bad, or they wantsay that the Muslims are "merely" anti-Zionist, because - the implication is - people with Zionist worldviews deserve to be beaten or killed. 

It is way past time for the media and political leaders to recognize that Muslim antisemitism is real, it is endemic, and it is deadly. 

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  • Friday, April 27, 2018
  • Elder of Ziyon
Once again, Haaretz and Rogel Alpher are beyond despicable.

On a day of immense tragedy in Israel, when ten of her best and brightest youths were killed in a flash flood, Haaretz'  Alpher was complaining that there was too much television coverage of the event, saying that it was not a national disaster.

Alpher is complaining that Israeli TV was spending so much time on the drowning deaths of ten students because of ratings.

This is one case where I am thankful for Haaretz' paywall, because I can't see what other bile Alpher is writing in this article. Perhaps he was upset that his favorite European football club wasn't being properly covered by Israeli TV, or he wanted to more closely follow the news about the name of the new royal baby, which has dominated UK headlines for three days now.

The irony is that the only reason I can think that Haaretz keeps Alpher is because his writings are designed to create controversy - and therefore attention - for a newspaper who has long ago sunk into irrelevance in Israel, even as the world's antisemites continue to embrace it as their main source of evidence of Israeli evil.

Alpher need not be concerned about one thing. When he finally leaves this world, Israeli TV won't spend more than a few seconds noting his passing.

(h/t Yoel)

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Thursday, April 26, 2018

From Ian:

Fred Maroun: Debunking 25 left-wing and Arab myths from a left-wing Arab perspective
Left-wing and Arab enemies of Israel make a number of accusations that they repeat as if they were facts. Here I take apart those myths from a left-wing Arab perspective.

I summarize the facts, but I include many links to other articles that provide further background. Some of the articles referenced are mine, where I reference serious sources not considered pro-Israel, including Haaretz, BBC, The Guardian, The Washington Post, The New York Times, CNN, and The Huffington Post. I also reference pro-Israel sources that are known for their journalistic integrity, including The Times of Israel, The Jerusalem Post, and The Gatestone Institute.

This article is not for everyone. It is intended only for a narrow audience: People who are willing to base their opinions on facts and not lies. Others are kindly advised to stay away, lest they be contaminated by facts that they would rather continue ignoring.

1. “Israel can end the conflict by withdrawing from the “West Bank””
I would welcome the creation of a Palestinian state, but I would be lying if I said that the possibility is realistic under current conditions. Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza, and the resulting transformation of Gaza into a terrorist base shows what happens when Israel withdraws unconditionally. Since Israel left Gaza in 2005, many thousands of rockets have been fired from Gaza into Israel and many tunnels were built to try to infiltrate Israel. As reported by Haaretz in 2014, an online clock timer showed “how much time has passed since the last rocket was fired; Sadly, this counter never really gets above an hour”.

Israel cannot afford to make the same mistake in Judea & Samaria (the correct name for the “West Bank”) which is much closer to Israel’s large cities than Gaza is. If Israel withdrew from Judea & Samaria unconditionally, it is virtually certain that the newly evacuated land would be controlled by terrorists dangerously hostile to Israel. Until Arabs agree to a reasonable solution that provides Israel the security it requires, Israel’s military presence in Judea & Samaria is fully justified, and even as an Arab, if I want to be honest with myself, I have no choice but to support it. (h/t Gnomercy)
David Collier: The Corbyn v Jews chess match. Gaining time by doing nothing
Singing songs about process

The only possible discussions will be over process. To discuss the speed with which mechanisms will work if we can agree on antisemitism. Yet will will almost never agree and there will always be voices in Corbyn’s ear that reinforce the world vision that he adheres to. Thus antisemitism in Labour will always be just ‘anti-Zionism’, no matter what those pesky Zionists were accused of by the Labour member. Given that Ken Livingstone still hasn’t been expelled and there are demonstrations to re-instate him, the Jewish community and Jeremy Corbyn are not even speaking the same language. In fact, the only notable expulsion, Tony Greenstein, wasn’t even a success. We must remember that the Jews who have Corbyn’s ear – hate Tony Greenstein. For them, this was no sacrifice. They threw something to the Jews that they simply didn’t want.

Corbyn can do no more than give empty gestures even as he backtracks on any progress that is made. Everything is a contradiction. In yesterday’s meeting he apparently refused to adopt the IHRA definition (in full), which many believe had already been adopted. This is where Jeremy Corbyn wants everything – locked in vagueness. In the Evening Standard article Corbyn stated that ‘a genuine two-state solution is essential to lasting peace in the Middle East’ and yet within a paragraph was protecting anti-Zionists who explicitly oppose the very solution he suggests is vital for peace. Corbyn is not a natural two state supporter. He sees the 2SS as the most that can probably be taken back from the European thieves who took the Palestinian land.

The conversation between Jeremy Corbyn and the Jews cannot make sense because Zionism and Jews are intertwined and Zionism doesn’t make sense within Corbyn’s paradigm. Corbyn cannot justify it to himself and he certainly cannot justify it to his supporters. Attacking ‘privileged’ Jews, especially dressed up in the ‘Zionist’ disguise, is almost certainly a vote winner within his faction. The only question is whether anyone else cares enough to not vote for him because of it.
Bin Laden's bodyguard walks freely in Berlin, but Jews don't
Sami A. does not work. He lives in Bochum, Germany. The newspaper Bild just revealed that Sami A. is the Tunisian who belonged to the squad of Osama bin Laden's bodyguards and is under surveillance as an Islamist threat. As an aside, three of the 9/11 pilots, including Mohammed Atta, were based in Germany.

Sami A. only has to show up at the police station once a day. He cannot be expelled according to the German Supreme Court. The judges argue that he could be tortured in his country of origin. Since he lives with his family in Germany, Sami is now a well-paid public danger. And he receives a monthly benefit payment of 1,100 euros. By law, the Tunisian and his wife are entitled to € 194 each. In addition, they get between 133 and 157 euros for each of their four children.

Bin Laden's bodyguard can walk, well paid and undisturbed, in the streets of Berlin today. A Jew wearing a kippah on those streets is risking his life.

Thousands of Islamists today in Germany live in multicultural enclaves such as that of Neukölln, the trendy district of the capital which draws in youngsters and Muslims alike. A few days ago, a small demonstration was held in that largely immigrant Berlin neighborhood. The flashmob in Neukölln proved all the fears that Jewish symbols today in Germany are under threat. Bystanders insulted and spit on participants and tore up an Israeli flag. The organizers ended the protest prematurely.

 Vic Rosenthal's Weekly Column

A hot potato today in Israel’s Knesset is the so-called chok hahitgabrut (literally, “the overriding law”) which would provide a way for the Knesset to pass a law over the objections of the Supreme Court. Various versions of such a law have been considered, which require larger or smaller majorities in the Knesset to override a Court decision to throw out a law. Another approach would be to require more than a simple majority of justices of the Court in order to reject a law passed by the Knesset. The precise form the law might take is still up in the air.

The issue that is presently driving the controversy is a series of Court decisions that have made it impossible for the government to deport any of the 38,000 African migrants that entered the country illegally since the early 2000s. Those who want such a law say that the unelected Court rides roughshod over the views of the majority of the citizens, which are expressed by the votes of their representatives in the Knesset. That’s undemocratic, they say. Opponents argue that in a liberal democracy it is necessary to protect minority rights, which is what the Court has done.

Critics of the Court have been complaining for a long time that it is biased leftward, and that it sticks its nose where it shouldn’t, like the proposed deal regulating the concession for the natural gas recently discovered off Israel’s shores; or the ownership of property in Judea and Samaria, decisions that forced the demolition of communities and the removal of people from their homes.

But the intricacies of the gas deal were understood by only a small percentage of Israelis, and the inhabitants of the razed settlement of Amona did not find a lot of empathy in the general population, many of whom thought of them as extremists. The migrant question, on the other hand, resonates more broadly. It pits the residents of South Tel Aviv – who say that the migrants who are concentrated in their neighborhoods have brought crime, dirt and fear to them – against a coalition of organizations that claim to be defending the human rights of the migrants. In fact, many of these groups are funded by unfriendly foreign governments, or groups with a political motive to embarrass our government (e.g., the Israel Religious Action Center).

A balance between the powers of the various branches of government is important to protect minority and majority rights. A comparison with the Supreme Court in the US will be helpful in understanding just how unbalanced the situation in Israel is.

The American court only has appellate jurisdiction, which means that it can only rule on cases that have been appealed from lower courts. It can decline to hear a case, but it does not have original jurisdiction in which it can take up a case that has not already been heard by a lower court, except in special circumstances (such as one state suing another). The Israeli court is the highest appellate court, but it also acts as the High Court of Justice – bagatz – which can rule on anything done by any branch of government, including the army, municipalities, and – importantly – laws passed by the Knesset, whether or not they have been ruled on by a lower court.

The American legal system includes a doctrine of standing, which means in particular that a person can’t challenge a law or government action unless they can convince a judge that they could be directly injured by it, or that they would be prevented from exercising their legitimate rights by threat of legal sanction. But in Israel, anyone can petition the Supreme Court if he believes a law or government action is illegal or not in the public interest. As a result, anyone can paralyze the government by paying a couple of thousand shekels to file a petition. For example, several foreign-funded NGOs have recently petitioned the Supreme Court to force the IDF to stop using snipers to defend the border fence with Gaza.

In America, some matters are considered political and not legal, and are therefore not taken up by the courts (they are considered not justiciable). Two such areas are foreign policy and impeachment. In Israel, the limitations on justiciability are much weaker.

American Supreme Court justices, including the Chief Justice, are appointed by the President and then confirmed by the Senate, after which they serve for life unless they are impeached, resign or retire. Interestingly, there are no constitutional requirements for a justice to have judicial experience, or even a law degree! 

In Israel, the justices are appointed by a committee which includes members of the Bar Association and sitting Justices, as well as the Justice Minister and representatives of the government and opposition Knesset factions. There is a mandatory retirement age of 70, which in practice means that Israeli justices tend to serve for shorter terms than American ones. There are specific qualifications of legal experience. The President of the Court is the most senior of the Justices.

The method of appointment of justices in Israel tends to make the Court reflect the views of the legal establishment, which critics say is biased toward the left end of the spectrum. It tends to prioritize what it perceives as the rights of individuals over the needs of the state, and Israel’s democratic character over its Jewish one.

An associated issue is the Attorney General. In the US, the Attorney General is appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate, and serves as the government’s lawyer. He or she is required to defend the government in the courts, including the Supreme Court, and on several occasions attorneys general have been fired by the President for refusing to do so.

In Israel, the Attorney General is appointed by the Justice Minister from a list of candidates drawn up by a commission whose majority also represents the legal establishment. The Attorney General can prevent the government from taking an action by saying that he or she believes it to be illegal, and will not defend it before the Supreme Court. The authority of the Attorney General is, like many things in Israel, unclear.

One example of the possible conflicts involving the Supreme Court, the Attorney General and the government, is the legal peril faced by PM Netanyahu. The police have recommended that he be indicted in several corruption cases, and it is up to the Attorney General to decide whether to indict him. The law is not clear whether an indicted PM is required to resign his position, although the Attorney General has expressed the opinion that if indicted, he should resign. But supposing he is indicted, Netanyahu could refuse to quit. Then the Supreme Court would undoubtedly take up the question, and the Attorney General likely would not defend him before it!

There is also the Nation-State Law which has been debated for several years now. It is intended to explicate the sense in which Israel is not only a democratic state, but the state of the Jewish people. Various versions of the bill did not get off the ground because the Attorney General said that they were not “constitutional” (Israel doesn’t have a constitution, but it has Basic Lawswhich serve some of the purposes of a constitution). Even if the Attorney General doesn’t object, the Supreme Court is expected to be very tough on any non-vacuous Nation-State Law. A former President of the Court who inspired the activist judicial philosophy that characterizes it today, Aharon Barak, famously opined that the meaning of the phrase “Jewish State” should be “identical to the democratic nature of the state.” In other words, a Nation-State Law would have to be so trivial as to be meaningless.

A version of the law that will permit the Knesset to override the Supreme Court  will be voted on by government ministers this Sunday, after which it will be submitted to the Knesset. The Opposition, which has come to depend on the Court to make up for its lack of seats in the elected Knesset, is pushing very hard against it.

The deportation of illegal migrants, the Nation-State Law, and numerous other important issues depend on the ability to take control of the state away from the legal establishment and return it to the elected government. Israelis voted for a right-wing government – they should be able to get right-wing policies. This is a bill that needs to pass.

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Elder of Ziyon - حـكـيـم صـهـيـون

This blog may be a labor of love for me, but it takes a lot of effort, time and money. For over 19 years and 40,000 articles I have been providing accurate, original news that would have remained unnoticed. I've written hundreds of scoops and sometimes my reporting ends up making a real difference. I appreciate any donations you can give to keep this blog going.


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