Friday, February 22, 2019

From Ian:

Pro-Palestinian Frauds: UNRWA Called Out For Lying About Its Own Definition Of ‘Refugee’
On Thursday morning, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) — which exists as a discrete group solely to support those whom UNRWA identifies as Palestinian-Arab "refugees" resulting from Israel's 1948 War of Independence — claimed that it defines "refugee" in precisely the same manner as does its sister organization, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). UNHCR, in contrast to UNRWA, exists to support "refugees" resulting from every other conflict in the world besides the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The main problem, as the inestimable Hillel Neuer of UN Watch tweeted, is that this is a bald-faced lie.

As Neuer claims, UNRWA's very own former General Counsel, James Lindsay, confirmed in a 2012 Middle East Quarterly essay that UNRWA calcualtes its "refugees" in a very different manner than does UNHCR:

The UNRWA definition makes no mention of citizenship, and UNRWA makes no effort to de-register persons who were formerly refugees but are now citizens of a state. As such, UNRWA is the only refugee organization in the world that considers citizens of a state to be refugees, and there are many of these oxymoronic "citizen-refugees" on UNRWA rolls.

As Lindsay noted in his essay, UNRWA's lack of mention of citizenship is hugely consequential — and it differs from UNHCR's definition of "refugee," which "specifically does not apply to any person who 'has acquired a new nationality, and enjoys the protection of the country of his new nationality.'"

Therefore, all the millions of descendants of the Palestinian-Arabs displaced by Israel's 1948 War of Independence — a genocidal war launched by the Jewish state's Arab neighbors only after those neighbors flatly rejected the incipient United Nation's previously proffered two-state partition proposal — who have since acquired citizenship in a distinct sovereign nation, such as the 1.8 million Jordanians Neuer references, would not be considered "refugees" under UNHCR's definition but are considered "refugees" under UNRWA's definition.
Kohelet Policy Forum: UNRWA's Hereditary Refugee Status for Palestinians Is Unique (pdf)
For almost 70 years, the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) has created a unique category of "registered refugee" status under which the children and grandchildren of a Palestine refugee, and all their descendants thereafter, are automatically considered "refugees from Palestine."

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is responsible for all refugees except those from Mandatory Palestine. UNHCR does not define as refugees people who acquired new citizenship. More than 2 million "Palestine refugees" hold Jordanian citizenship, most of whom have been born in Jordan and have lived there their entire lives. In addition, 2/3 to 3/4 of the 1 million refugees registered by UNRWA in Lebanon and Syria have left those countries over the decades, with many acquiring citizenship in Western countries. But UNRWA's numbers never decline.

UNHCR does not define as "refugees" people who are internally displaced, that is, who have moved within the same territory. "Palestine refugees" living in the West Bank or Gaza were in fact internally displaced since they have never crossed the internationally recognized border of Mandatory Palestine. According to the rules applied by UNHCR, these people are not refugees. UNRWA is not a neutral humanitarian organization but rather a political actor aimed at perpetuating the Palestinian refugee problem.

Hebrew Origins of Palestinian Arab Towns in Judea-Samaria
It is absurd to claim that the Arabs are the indigenous peoples of Israel because virtually all the place names used by local Arabs are non-Arabic in origin, and derived either from biblical Hebrew names or from later Greek or Roman names. The Romans renamed the entire region Syria-Palestina (named for the Philistines and Assyrians) after they destroyed the Second Temple so as to erase its Jewish roots. This was later shortened to Palestina, and it eventually became known as Palestine.

The region commonly referred to as the "West Bank" was known for three millennia as Judea and Samaria. Indeed, Jews derive the very name of their religion and peoplehood from the name Yehuda, the fourth son of Jacob, whose tribe settled in that region. In fact, UN General Assembly Resolution 181 (1947) referred to the region as Judea and Samaria, as do all maps published before 1948.

Israeli scholar and later president Yitzhak Ben-Zvi wrote in 1932 that west of the Jordan River, 277 villages and sites had names that were similar to or the same as Jewish villages in these locations during Second Temple times. Moreover, 1/4 of the 584 Arab localities in Israel and beyond have ancient biblical names. So, to counter those who attempt to disassociate the Jews from the Land of Israel and claim that they are colonizers, the proof is in the names

US envoy calls on Fatah official to apologize to Holocaust survivors
Senior Fatah official Jibril Rajoub must apologize to Holocaust survivors for company Israel to Nazi Germany, U.S. Special Envoy for Middle East Affairs Jason Greenblatt said Thursday.

In a tweet, Greenblatt responded to a recent statement by Rajoub comparing Palestinian cities to concentration camps.

Greenblatt quoted Rajoub saying, "Since the 1967 [war], we have been living in camps similar to Nazi camps" and said in his own tweet that "there is no comparison whatsoever."

"The shamefulness of this rhetoric is only eclipsed by the deafening silence resulting from the lack of condemnation from the PA and others.

"Those Jews who were slaughtered in the Nazi death camps and those who survived actual Nazi camps deserve an apology for this outrageous comment," Greenblatt tweeted.
MEMRI: 'Al-Ahram' Columnist: The Holocaust Is A Deception Used By The Zionists To Take Over The World
On February 1, 2019, several days after International Holocaust Remembrance Day, Osama Al-Alfi, a former deputy editor of the Egyptian government daily Al-Ahram and now a columnist for the daily, published a column titled "The Truth about the Holocaust." Citing several Holocaust deniers, he claimed the Holocaust was a deception used by the Zionist movement to take over Palestine as the starting point of its plan to take over the world's resources and politics. He added that the Zionists have managed to "intimidate all the champions of the truth" through persecution and lawsuits.

The following are translated excerpts from his column:[1]

"On January 27 the world marked International Holocaust Remembrance Day in memory of the so-called Holocaust victims. The global Zionist movement has cunningly exploited the Holocaust to realize its goals and plans, intended to transform Judaism from a monotheistic religion into a racist ideology – [an ideology] that uses Palestine as the starting point for a plan to take over the world's resources and global politics. This deception was explained by French philosopher and thinker Roger Garaudy in his most famous book, The Founding Myths of Israeli Politics.[2] Garaudy bases his exposé of this lie on his experience as a resistance fighter against the Nazi occupation of his country during the war [World War II], and accuses the governments of the Zionist entity in occupied Palestine of exploiting the so-called Holocaust and inflating it in order to justify its barbaric crimes against the Palestinians. He emphasizes that there are scientific and historical facts that prove that the figure of six million [Holocaust victims] is highly exaggerated...

"French historian Paul Rassinier[3] [also] exposed the lies [about the Holocaust], and denied its very authenticity, in his book The Drama of the European Jews. The importance of this book lies in the fact that Rassinier himself was incarcerated in one of the Nazi torture camps which are claimed to have been crematoria in which Jews were burned. But in his testimony he denies that the Holocaust happened and says that what happened at the camps was [just] Nazi torture, no different from the torture methods employed by the French army against those who resisted the occupation in Morocco and Algeria. He went even further, claiming that Hitler had planned to settle the Jews in Madagascar as a final solution for the Jewish problem, which would have obviated the need to burn them.

"The renowned historian Elmer Barnes, who was a senior researcher at Colombia University in New York, was also among those who questioned the Holocaust and denied it...[4] He too was persecuted using legal means, like Garaudy... and like the British historian David Irving,[5] who in 2006 was sentenced by an Austrian court to three years in prison for denying the Holocaust in his book Hitler's War. Thus, using the whip of prison and persecution, the Zionists have managed to intimidate all the champions of the truth."
Ha'aretz: Egyptian Author: My Decision to Meet the Israeli "Enemy"
Like all Egyptians, I was raised to hate Israel and Israelis. During the regime of former President Hosni Mubarak, the headlines of Egyptian newspapers were regularly dedicated to updates about the Palestinian cause. The result was that Egyptians like myself adopted the Palestinian cause as our own, as if our own personal destiny depended upon it. Everything I heard made me imagine the Jews as beastly, ghost-like creatures who had nothing in common with human beings.

Although there is cooperation between Egypt and Israel on several levels, normalization on the cultural level has a relatively long way to go. I knew I was going to face a media backlash and probably a legal backlash, but I initiated a meeting with Dr. David Govrin, Israel's ambassador to Egypt, at the end of 2018. I did so because I believe in the future.

I believe that 50 years from now things will be different. I believe the coming generations will not think or act the way we do now. I did so to make this future possible, to help create space for literature and culture to undo the damage caused by politics. The writer is an Egyptian academic and novelist living in Cairo.
'Palestinians entitled to business ties with Israelis'
The U.S. ambassador to Israel on Thursday urged deeper business ties between Israeli settlers and Palestinian businessmen in the West Bank, angering Palestinian leaders.

David Friedman, who was appointed by U.S. President Donald Trump, was speaking in Jerusalem at a forum to encourage business links between Israeli settlements and Palestinians.

"There are many, many Palestinians that would like to be freed up to engage in business ventures with Israelis and they're entitled to that opportunity," Friedman told Reuters at the two-day forum attended by Israeli government officials, international businessmen and a handful of Palestinians.

Friedman's remarks were immediately attacked by Palestinian officials as encouraging settlement activity in the West Bank.

"This constitutes a stab in the back of the Palestinian people," said Wasel Abu Youssef, a member of the Palestine Liberation Organization's executive committee.

"We warn against any involvement or participation of any Palestinian in projects with settlers or meetings called by the American ambassador."
New York Times Pushes Claim That Settlers Are to Blame for Europe’s Anti-Israel Stance
A New York Times news article about Israel’s relations with Poland concludes with a quote from an Israeli politician who — well, you can read the Times paragraphs for yourself:

While Mr. Netanyahu’s challengers in the coming election were quick to seize on his latest troubles, other critics took a longer view, saying they regretted his inability to curtail what antagonizes the European Union most about Israel: its steady expansion of settlements on the West Bank.

“If he were less beholden to the settlers,” said Einat Wilf, a former Israeli lawmaker from the Labor Party, “maybe he could get a few countries on our side that are not looking to be paid for in glossing over their World War II records.”

Far be it from me to disagree with Einat Wilf, who, unlike me, actually lives in Israel.

But this sure appears to be a fine example of the Times subtly shaping a story by choosing to give the final word to someone expressing a point of view that matches the newspaper’s own preconceptions, or at least those of its left-wing readers.
Putin, Netanyahu to meet in Moscow next week
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow on Feb. 27, Netanyahu's office said on Thursday, with the focus likely to be on Middle East issues led by Syria.

The two leaders had been scheduled to meet this week, but that was postponed, apparently because of the intense election campaign. At the time, the Kremlin said Netanyahu and Putin were to discuss the situation in the Middle East, including Syria.

Thursday's statement offered no further details.

Israel's air force has repeatedly attacked what it describes as Iranian targets in Syria, saying it would not let Tehran use the Syrian civil war as cover for establishing a permanent presence on its northern border.

The air strikes have long caused friction between Israel and Russia, which apart from Iran is Syrian President Bashar Assad's other major foreign backer. In September 2018, Syrian forces accidentally shot down a Russian cargo plane carrying 15 troops after mistaking it for an Israeli aircraft.
UNWatch: Watchdog Urges UN Chief to Condemn Palestine Rep’s ‘Racist Ties’
The Geneva-based non-governmental organization UN Watch today filed a complaint with UN chief Antonio Guterres accusing the organization’s Palestine expert of legitimizing antisemites and presenting biased reports to the UN that turn a blind eye to atrocities committed by the Palestinian Authority and Hamas. (See text of complaint below; PDF here.)

Through his actions, UN Special Rapporteur Michael Lynk has betrayed the founding principles of the UN Charter, warranting condemnation from the UN chief, according to Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch.

Despite his title’s reference to “the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories,” Lynk’s upcoming report to the 47-nation council, to be released soon and debated on March 18, is slated to include only allegations of violations by Israel, ignoring abuses committed in the area by the PA and Hamas.

(Note: UN Watch and a broad coalition of organizations are holding a rally in Geneva on March 18th to protest anti-Israel bias at the UN.)

Lynk’s prior five reports, along with the 16 press releases he published in 2018, ignore flagrant violations of international law committed by the Palestinian Authority and Hamas over the past year.

“If Lynk truly cared about the situation of human rights in his assigned region, then he would address violations by all parties, and the plight of all victims,” said Neuer.

UN investigators urge Netanyahu to protect B’Tselem
Seven United Nations rapporteurs warned Israel against targeting the left-wing organization B’Tselem and urged it to protect its staff and other “human rights defenders.”

The rapporteurs sent a letter to Prime Minister Netanyahu on the matter after they received a complaint about the harassment of two B’Tselem staff worker; the NGO’s Israeli Executive Director Hagai El-Ad and one of its Palestinian field researchers Manal Al-Ja’bri.

The rapporteurs sent the letter to Netanyahu in December, but was made public by the UN only this week.

In the letter, the rapporteurs said they had received reports that El-Ad, had been targeted by Israeli politicians and Netanyahu after he briefed the UN Security Council about West Bank settlements and the deteriorating human rights situation for Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.

During the briefing, Israel’s Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon publicly told El-Ad in Hebrew that he was a “wretched collaborator.”

After the briefing Netanyahu called El-Ad a disgrace and, according to the rapporteurs, one Likud Knesset member posts an image of El Ad with the words wanted dead or alive on it, the rapporteurs said.

'The Arab parties abandoned us'
"The Joint Arab List let Israeli Arabs down in its last term. It didn't represent us and it did great damage to the [average] Arab citizen who wants to integrate," says Abu Ghosh resident Abdul al-Rahman ahead of the April 9 Knesset election.

Many Israeli Arabs who have been disappointed by those who were supposed to represent their interests in the Knesset share al-Rahman's sentiments now, according to recent polls. In the upcoming election, they intend to settle the score at the ballot box and not vote for officials who have not focused their efforts on the sector's struggles.

"With the atmosphere already tense, they are adding fuel to the fire in order to suppress the Arab citizen," al-Rahman says.

"The Joint Arab List wants to see an inferior, humiliated Arab, like a cat that needs to be petted. Why? Because as long as the Arabs in Israel are in a state like that, it does the work for them. They want the Arabs to beg them and be weak compared to them. They abandoned the citizens who voted for them and [instead] focused on the interests of Abu Mazen [Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas] and Syria," he says.

In the 2015 election, some 90% of Israeli Arabs voted for the Joint Arab List, but with the party now in tatters, this time around, many say they will vote for other parties all along the political spectrum.
To Target Israel, Iran's "Suitcase" GPS Kits Turn Hizbullah Rockets into Guided Missiles
In interviews, senior Israeli military officers outlined new details about Iran's plans to turn a vast arsenal of relatively dumb rockets in Syria and Lebanon into a deadly array of precision-guided missiles. The key is a Global Positioning System (GPS) "kit" the size of small roll-aboard luggage.

"They can put a missile on the building we're sitting in now," said a senior officer at a base in central Israel. "There's an unlimited ability to put a GPS on these rockets, it only depends on how many kits they have."

According to a recent report by the British Israel Communication and Research Centre (BICOM), the focus is to upgrade Hizbullah's 14,000 long-range Zelzal-2 rockets.

Netanyahu last year at the UN publicly revealed three underground sites near Beirut International Airport that he said were used to convert rockets into guided missiles. After the naming and shaming, Hizbullah did in fact shut the facilities, IDF sources confirmed. Yet, as the senior officer added, "They can open in another place tomorrow."

It would take a trained team just 2-3 hours to convert the Zelzal into a missile: removing a middle section and replacing it with an internal navigation-guidance-control system. "You insert the GPS coordinates [of the target] and it's fire and forget," the senior officer said. "It's just like [the navigation app] Waze."

Israeli officials are adamant that Hizbullah only possesses a handful of precision missiles at present. The concern is that Iran will move in greater force into Lebanon, upping the missile precision program.

"If there will be an Iranian military entrenchment in Lebanon, it'll be a target for action," Lt.-Gen. Gadi Eisenkot, the recently retired IDF chief of staff, promised last month.
Israel Should Try to Defang Hamas without Toppling It
For the time being, Hamas has chosen to avoid outright war with the Jewish state, but instead to apply sustained, low-intensity pressure through its weekly border riots and organizing terrorist cells in the West Bank. Yet it is simultaneously engaged in a major military build-up, which suggests that it has not entirely been deterred by the previous three Gaza wars. Yaakov Lappin considers Jerusalem’s options:

In recent years, the Israel Defense Force’s southern command, which is responsible for much of the war planning for Gaza, identified a long-term truce as the best of bad options for Israel. This is based on the understanding that an Israeli invasion of Gaza and subsequent destruction of the Hamas regime would leave Israel in the unenviable position of being directly in charge of some two-million mostly hostile Gazans. This could lead to an open-ended and draining military occupation. . . .

Alternatively, Israel could demolish the Hamas regime and leave Gaza, putting it on a fast track to a “Somalia model” of anarchy and violence. In that scenario, . . . multiple jihadist armed gangs lacking a central ruling structure would appear, and Israel would be unable to project its military might to any single “return address” in Gaza. This would result in a loss of Israel’s deterrent force on Gaza to keep the region calm. This scenario would be considerably worse than the current status quo.

But a third option, in between the options of leaving Gaza as it is and toppling Hamas in a future war, may exist. In this scenario, the IDF would decimate Hamas’s military wing in any future conflict but leave its political wing and police force in place. This would enable a rapid Israeli exit after a war, but avoid a Somalia-like fate for Gaza with its destructive implications for both Israelis and Gazans. . . .
JCPA: The Golden Gate: A New Focus of Tension on the Temple Mount
The new Muslim Waqf council on the Temple Mount intends to revamp the Golden Gate or Gate of Mercy [Shaar HaRachmim, in Hebrew, Bab el Rahma, in Arabic] and use it as a place of prayer.

This is a flagrant violation of the status quo and is an apparent provocation as part of the Jordanian-Palestinian plan to torpedo Trump’s “deal of the century.”

The new Islamic Waqf Council on the Temple Mount, headed by Sheikh Abdul Azim Salhab is striving to change the status quo on the Temple Mount. The Council was recently expanded to include officials from the Palestinian Authority and Fatah movement, Fatah officials say that the battle against Israel on the Temple Mount will escalate toward the expected publication of President Trump’s “deal of the century” plan.

On February 19, 2019, Sheikh Salhab told Palestinian Ma’an News Agency of the council’s intention to renovate the Golden Gate structure within the Temple Mount plaza and reopen it as a place of prayer for Muslims, as well as Waqf offices.

This place should not remain neglected; we do not recognize the occupation’s decisions in connection with it. The Gate of Mercy is part of Al-Aqsa, and the mosque is a red line. No Muslim can relinquish even a grain of its sand.

Several members of the new Salhab-led Waqf council paid a visit to the Gate of Mercy structure on the Temple Mount in mid-February 2019 following clashes between Palestinians and the Israel police on the site. The police sent in a large force that arrested seven rioters and blocked entry to the Temple Mount.

Thousands of Palestinians break into closed off Temple Mount section
Thousands of Palestinian protesters on Friday burst into a section of Jerusalem’s Temple Mount that has been closed by Israeli court order for over 15 years.

Palestinians chanting “Allahu Akbar” streamed into a sealed-off area of Al-Aqsa Mosque during prayers. Israeli police said the crowds dispersed peacefully afterward.

The Gate of Mercy, or Golden Gate, was sealed by Israeli authorities in 2003 because the group managing the area had ties to Hamas, and it has been kept closed to stop illegal construction work there by the Waqf, custodians of the holy site. Israeli officials believe the work has led to the destruction of antiquities from periods of Jewish presence in the area.

Tensions have escalated at the contested compound. Similar protests turned into scuffles with police earlier this week. Anticipating unrest, police arrested 60 Palestinians Thursday overnight suspected of “causing disturbances.”
IsraelDailyPicture: The Golden Gate -- Sha'ar Harachamim on the Temple Mount
Unlike most of Jerusalem's other gates, the Golden Gate was originally built at least a millennium before Suleiman the Magnificent rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem in 1540. Indeed, some archeologists believe that the original gate, dating back to Herod's construction or even Nehemiah's period (440 BCE), still exists beneath the current gate. Perhaps because of the great religious significance of the gate to Jews and Christians as the Messiah's route into Jerusalem, it is believed Suleiman sealed the gate and permitted the construction of a Muslim cemetery in front of the gate.

Hebrew writing - graffiti - on the internal walls of the gate's chamber is believed to have been left by Jewish pilgrims at least 1,000 years ago. (See study by Shulamit Gera, Catedra, in Hebrew.)

The theory of an ancient gate received support in 1969 when an archeological student named James Fleming was inspecting the current gate. Suddenly the rain-soaked ground beneath him opened and he found himself in a pit of bones looking at the top of another gate eight feet beneath the surface. Fleming photographed his discovery. When he returned the next day, the tomb had been sealed with a cement slab by the Islamic custodians of the cemetery.

Perhaps the bones date back to 625 CE when a Jewish revolt supported the Persians vs the Byzantines. Led by Benjamin of Tiberias and his army, the Jews controlled the city for several years, possibly even restoring religious practices on the Temple ruins. The period was marked with slaughters committed by all sides.
12-year-old Palestinian killed as thousands riot along the Gaza border
About 8,000 Palestinian rioters gathered at several points Gaza border fence, hurling stones, and setting tires aflame on Friday.

A number of improvised explosive devices and grenades were thrown as troops responded with crowd dispersal measures, as well as live fire, according to the IDF Spokesperson's Unit.

One 12-year-old Palestinian was killed from IDF fire, while ten more were injured, according to Palestinian media reports.
Palestinians move to create list of Israeli products to ban from their markets
The Ramallah-based Palestinian leadership has formed a committee tasked with creating a list of Israeli products to ban from entering Palestinian markets, Fatah’s vice chairman Mahmoud al-Aloul said on Thursday.

The move came in response to a decision by Israel’s security cabinet on Sunday to approve withholding NIS 500 million ($138 million) of tax revenues from the Palestinian Authority, Aloul told Voice of Palestine, the official PA radio station.

The security cabinet’s decision was a move to start implementing a new law that permits Israel to withhold tax money from Ramallah over payments the PA makes to security prisoners and the families of dead terrorists.

Israel collects sales, customs, and excise taxes on behalf of the Palestinians every month, and transfers them to the PA’s coffers.

In a phone call, PLO Executive Committee member Wasel Abu Yousef confirmed Aloul’s comments.

Aloul said the committee would seek to identify Israeli products which have local alternatives. The majority of products imported into the West Bank and the Gaza Strip come from Israel.
PA to cut civil servant salaries after Israeli tax freeze over terror stipends
The Palestinian finance minister on Thursday announced salary cuts for civil servants, days after Israel said it would withhold tens of millions of dollars in tax transfers to the Palestinian Authority.

Israel’s security cabinet on Sunday approved the freezing of $138 million over the PA’s payments to Palestinians jailed by Israel for terrorism and violence, and to the families of dead terrorists.

Israel, which collects taxes on behalf of the PA, says the payments encourage further violence.

The PA claims they are a form of welfare to families who have lost their main breadwinner.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said Wednesday he would not accept any funds from Israel unless it provides the full tax sums it owes the PA.
Jordanian Analyst Khaled Al-Majali: Our PM Has No Real Power; All He Can Do Is Tweet
Jordanian analyst Khaled Al-Majali said in a February 17, 2019 interview on Jordan Today TV that Jordanians wrongly blame the government for security problems and that prime ministers in Jordan do not have any real authority. He said that Jordan’s internal policies have brought the youth to the point that they are willing to use drugs, kill, plunder, rob, and join extremist organizations, and that the Jordanian people have no executive authority to hold accountable and no parliament that truly represents them.

Why Are Leading European Countries Helping Iran?
Arab states readily acknowledge the aid that Iran gives to these terrorist groups. Speaking at the Middle East conference in Poland, the foreign ministers of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and the United Arab Emirates were united in their condemnation for Iran.

Saudi’s foreign affairs minister, Adel Al-Jubeir, said that Iran’s belligerent activities destabilize the region, thus making Israeli-Palestinian peace impossible to achieve. “Look at the Palestinians: Who is supporting Hamas and Islamic Jihad, and undercutting the Palestinian Authority? Iran,” he said, going on to cite conflicts in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, and Yemen, where Iran also plays a malignant role.

Meanwhile, Bahraini Foreign Minister Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa noted, “We grew up talking about the Israel-Palestine issue as the most important issue.” However, he said, “then, at a later stage, we saw a bigger challenge, we saw a more toxic one — in fact the [most] toxic one in our history — that came from the Islamic Republic.”

With the launching of the SVP and Europe’s continued efforts to salvage the 2015 nuclear accord, Iran has gained more time to surge forward in its nuclear pursuits, while retaining the dangerous infrastructure needed to stockpile more uranium, and continuing to finance its deadly foreign adventurism.

It is truly shameful that European states continue to evade US sanctions as the regime in Tehran continues its march toward nuclear weapons, threatens its neighbors, denies the Holocaust, and suffocates its people.

Iran already possesses ballistic missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads. The Islamic Republic’s ongoing defiance of the world directly threatens US security interests and the security of regional allies. It is now up to America to say, “no more,” and for Europe to stop shielding a murderous regime.
Democratic Party Adopts Motion Calling on US to Re-Enter Iran Nuclear Deal
The Democratic Party adopted a resolution last week calling for the United States to return to being part of the 2015 Iran nuclear accord, signaling its 2020 platform will consist of re-entering the deal that America withdrew from last year.

“The United States should return to its obligations under the JCPOA, and utilize multilateral and bilateral diplomacy to achieve political solutions to remaining challenges regarding Iran,” stated the motion that passed on Feb. 16.

Almost all Democrats supported the nuclear agreement and opposed the US withdrawal from it in May 2018.

The Trump administration soon followed that decision by reimposing sanctions that had been lifted under the deal, in addition to enacting fresh economic penalties against Tehran.

So far, eight Democrats have declared their candidacy for the party’s nomination for president in 2020: former Maryland Rep. John Delaney, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, California Sen. Kamala Harris, New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development and San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro, entrepreneur Andrew Yang and author Marianne Williamson.
Iran navy conducts “massive drill” in Persian Gulf, Sea of Oman
Iran has sent much of its navy to take part in a three-day drill across two million square kilometers of sea between the Straits of Hormuz and the Indian Ocean. Iranian media boasted that this was a major illustration of Tehran’s sea power. Missiles will be launched, reconnaissance drones, and submarines will take part, along with helicopters and frigates.

The mission, deemed Velayat 97, began Friday in the Persian Gulf and off the coast of Oman. Fars News reported that the Fatah ‘Conquerer’ class submarine, the first of its type constructed in Iran and operational for the last several years, took part in the drill. The Sahand class frigate, also designed in Iran and launched in 2012, took part. Tehran stated 100 naval units took part practicing with cruise missiles, torpedoes and rock launchers.

Important martial systems, including cruise missiles, torpedoes and rocket launchers, were tested on surface, sub-surface and flight units, which were repeatedly tested.

The naval exercise comes at a time of tensions with the US, after Washington condemned Iran at the summit in Warsaw. In addition Iran has upped tensions with Saudi Arabia after a terror attack in southeastern Iran, which Tehran blamed partly on Riyadh. Iran has also recently condemned the United Arab Emirates, Israel and the US. Sending its navy to the Strait of Hormuz, a major chokepoint for the world’s oil, is provocative.
Iranian Journalist: Iran Has Missiles with a Range Greater than Officially-Announced 2,000 km
Hossein Shariatmadar, editor-in-chief of the Iranian newspaper Kayhan, said in a February 16, 2019 interview on Channel 1 TV (Iran) that today’s situation is very different than a time in the past when sanctions prevented Iranians from having even barbed wire and when Iran only had a few SAM-7 missiles. Shariatmadari said that Iran’s long-range missiles have a range that is “much greater” than the 2,000-kilometer range that has been officially announced. Shariatmadari is Khamenei’s official representative at Kayhan and the manager of Kayhan Institute, which owns the Kayhan newspaper.

FATF gives Iran until June to comply with anti-terror financial oversight
The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) on Friday gave Iran until June to come into compliance with anti-terror financial measures or said it will face tougher financial oversight.

At the same time, the influential global financial organization said it would "continue the suspension of counter-measures," for the time being, giving the Islamic Republic.

After years of campaigning and modernizing its financial counter-terror apparatus, Israel joined the FATF in December. Add that to the fact that the current FATF presidency is held by the US, and there had been raised anticipation that the major February meeting which concluded Friday might lead to a heavier crackdown on Iran - this week's meeting was the first time Israel attended as a full member.

The mixed message that came out Friday means Tehran is not yet under increased pressure, but the June ultimatum was more specific and threatening than the typically mild-sounding statements that the organization tends to put out a few times a year.

Since the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, FATF has generally given the Islamic Republic more breathing space, taking its cue from its EU members who are still trying to hold the deal together despite US opposition.
IRGC General Soleimani says roots of Wahhabism are Jewish, linked to ISIS
Speaking after Friday prayers, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps commander Qassim Soleimani threatened Saudi Arabia and condemned Israel and the US on Friday. He spoke in the wake of a terror attack in southeastern Iran that had killed two dozen members of the IRGC. Soleimani claimed that Wahhabism, a conservative version of Sunni Islam popular in Saudi Arabia, and America were the two threats to the Middle East and claimed Wahhabism has roots in Judaism.

Speaking in the picturesque city of Babol, which is flanked by mountains near the Caspian Sea, Soleimani praised the IRGC, who’s Quds Force he leads. He slammed Wahhabism, and said it had distorted Muslim belief. “The Islamic Republic [Iran] is the only Islamic-based system governed by Islam, and the Zionists don’t dare attack us because of Hezbollah and Hamas’s strong base in the region.”

Soleimani, who played a key role in recent conflicts in Iraq and Syria, sending IRGC members to aid the Assad regime in Damascus and also helping Iraq to fight Islamic State, said that Iraq was now a close friend of Iran. He said the Islamic Revolution of Iran, which is marking its 40th anniversary, has had success in Iraq via religious leaders, a reference to Shi’ite political parties in Iraq.
NYT: African Al Qaeda terrorists invoke Palestinian conflict as battle cry
Al Qaeda terrorists in Africa are invoking Israel’s conflict with the Palestinians as a new battle cry and as motivation for a string of attacks on the continent.
Following Al Qaeda attacks in Kenya, in which 14 were killed, and Mali, in which 10 were killed and 24 wounded, affiliates with the terrorist organization cited "the Palestinian cause" as a motive.

The New York Times writers Dionne Searcey, David M. Halbfinger and Rukmini Callimachi deliberated whether the attacks may have been related to the US embassy move in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem seven months prior. Several organizations including Al Qaeda condemned the US for the move.

The report stated that the "suffering of the Palestinians" was an "animating cause" for Al Qaeda. It detailed biographies of Osama bin Laden, founder of Al Qaeda, which report that he cried watching news coverage of displaced Palestinians who had been forced off their land when he was an adolescent.

The report insinuated that Israel's treatment of the Palestinian people is extreme to the extent that it influenced Al Qaeda and may have even had an effect on the actions of bin Laden, such as the 9/11 attack.

Al Qaeda terrorists are outspoken regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

"We emphasize and appreciate the high efforts and beautiful words of all the vibrant jihadist work to prevent the Judaization of Palestine," said a statement by Al Qaeda's leadership mentioned by SITE Intelligence Group who monitor extremist content online, according to the Times report.
Pro-Houthi Yemeni Politician Muhammad Tahir An'am: Our Hatred of the Jews Comes from the Quran
In a February 17, 2019 interview on Al-Hawyah TV (Yemen), pro-Houthi Yemeni Salafi politician Muhammad Tahir An'am said that the Yemeni people's unwillingness to normalize relations with Israel reflects their Islamic background and Pan-Arab affiliation. He said that hatred of the Jews stems from the Quran, which clearly teaches that they are the enemies of Allah and about their evil and malice. An'am said that the Saudi and Emirati leaders do not represent Sunnis or Islam and criticized them for their willingness to ally with Jews, Christians, and anyone who serves their interests. He cited a verse from the Quran that says Jews have the strongest enmity towards Muslims. Al-Hawyah is a pro-Houthi channel broadcasting from Houthi-controlled Sana'a.

‘Couldn’t You Have Said It Was Us?’ al Qaeda Asks Smollett (satire)
With ‘Empire’ star Jussie Smollett facing charges over allegedly filing a false police report, Islamist terrorist group al Qaeda has questioned why the actor did not blame them for the reported attack.

“All he had to do was say, ‘Yea, I was attacked on the street by two men. They were wearing keffiyehs and shouting Allahu Akbar,’’ al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri explained in a Tweet. “We would have claimed responsibility, there would be no police investigation, and all of a sudden everyone would be talking about good-ole al Qaeda again instead of those phony copycats in ISIS.”

Smollett, who claimed to have been attacked and doused in bleach by two white men in “Make America Great Again” hats, drew immediate skepticism from some conservatives over his story. But Zawahiri noted that this could have been avoided by pegging the attack on jihadists.

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