Saturday, March 23, 2019

From Ian:

Shmuel Rosner (NYTs): Trump Has Liberated Israel
Israel had no choice but to give up on the idea of withdrawing from the Golan Heights. But this reality involves a complete overhaul of the way the international community thinks not just about the Golan Heights but also about all the lands Israel occupied in 1967. The “land for peace” formulation for the past five decades has been a basis of all peace processes between Israel and Egypt, Syria and the Palestinians. Mr. Trump seems to have accepted the position of Israel’s government and given up on the idea that Israel has to withdraw to a decades-old line to get peace.

Withdrawal worked for Israel once, in 1979, when it signed a peace agreement with Egypt and left the Sinai Peninsula, which was also occupied in 1967. But that set a problematic precedent. President Anwar Sadat of Egypt insisted that Israel hand back the entire peninsula to the last inch. Israel decided that the reward was worth the price, as a major Arab country agreed to break with other Arab states and accept Israel’s legitimacy. But there was a hidden, unanticipated cost: Israel’s adversaries, in future negotiations, would demand the same kind of compensation. The 1967 line — what Israel controlled before the war — became the starting point for all Arab countries, including Syria. It became a sacred formula, worshiped by the international community.

What Mr. Trump is doing extends far beyond the ability of Israel to control the Golan Heights, to settle it and invest in it. The American president is setting the clock back to before the peace deal with Egypt, to a time when Israel could argue that the reward for peace is peace — not land.

Syria, of course, is unlikely to accept this. At least not in the short term. But maybe someday, a Syrian leader will come along who doesn’t entertain the thought that Israel might agree to return to the pre-1967 line and who will accept a different formula for achieving peace.

In the meantime, the Golan Heights news is another clarifying moment in Israel’s election. Yes, there is a fierce fight between Mr. Netanyahu and his opponents. Yes, the stakes seem at times high. But Israelis agree on much more than many outside observers imagine. And one of the things they largely agree on is that the 1967 line is no longer relevant.

Mr. Hauser started fighting for recognition of Israel’s sovereignty in the territory when he was an ally of Mr. Netanyahu. Now he is fighting for the same thing as the prime minister’s opponent. There is nothing unnatural or strange about this. On days like these, he told me, “politics is dwarfed amid the call of history.” (h/t Elder of Lobby)
Golan Promise (1981)
In the ensuing "search for peace", America put heavy pressure on Israel to withdraw from the Egyptian Oil fields in Sinai.

What I (in 2008), and apparently President Ronald Reagan (in 1981) forgot was that Israel had received something tangible from the Americans in return for the unilateral withdrawal from the oil fields:
"the tangible benefit for Israel from its agreement to a unilateral withdrawal from the Egyptian oil fields was a presidential letter from President Ford concerning the vital importance of Israel holding on to the Golan Heights, which Israel had taken from Syria in 1967 following 19 years of Syrian shelling on Israel’s northern communities from the towering Golan Heights, and Syria’s incessant attacks from the Golan on the Sea of the Galilee – Israel’s only fresh water resource, from where Israel’s National Water Carrier pumps water to the whole country."

In the letter, Gerald Ford, 38th President of the U.S. gave an assurance that
"The U.S. will support the position that an overall settlement with Syria in the framework of a peace agreement must assure Israel's security from attack from the Golan Heights. The U.S. further supports the position that a just and lasting peace, which remains our objective, must be acceptable to both sides. The U.S. has not developed a final position on the borders. Should it do so it will give great weight to Israel's position that any peace agreement with Syria must be predicated on Israel remaining on the Golan Heights."



David French: The Real Reasons American Evangelicals Support Israel
Faith in ancient promises, wonder at modern miracles, and a deep conviction that evil forces must not prevail against the Middle East’s most vibrant democracy

It never fails. Whenever a Republican president makes a controversial or contentious move to support Israel — such as moving the American embassy to Jerusalem, or yesterday’s decision to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights — you’ll see various “explainers” and other stories that purport to inform progressives why the American Evangelical community is so devoted to the nation of Israel.

The explanation goes something like this — Evangelicals believe that the rebirth of Israel is hastening not just the second coming of Christ, but a particular kind of second coming, one that includes fire, fury, and war that will consume the Jewish people. The pithy, tweet-length version of this analysis comes from progressive Young Turks host Cenk Uygur:


Thus, the political marriage between American Evangelicals and Israelis represents a cynical form of mutual exploitation. Evangelicals support Israel to hasten the apocalypse, while Israelis (who obviously don’t believe Christian eschatology) are happy to humor the Evangelical community and milk that support for tourist dollars and political power.

But the true narrative of American Christian support for Israel is substantially different. The intellectual and theological roots of Christian Zionism do not rest in end-times prophesies but rather in Old Testament promises. Last month Samuel Goldman at Tablet wrote an outstanding piece explaining the centuries-old history and legacy of Christian support for Jewish claims to the Holy Land. After tracing Christian support for a Jewish Israel to the Reformation, he writes this:

These arguments were products of the emphases on the plain meaning of Scripture and the theological significance of covenants that characterized Calvinism. Before the Reformation, most Christians read prophecies like Ezekiel’s as allegories for the transformation of the “carnal” Israel descended from the patriarchs into the “spiritual Israel” represented by the Church. Calvin and his followers, by contrast, insisted that allegorical interpretations were permitted only when literal ones made no sense. But why was it nonsensical to believe that the Jews might be reconstituted as a nation and return to their own land?
Jerusalem Dateline: CBN Exclusive with Secretary Pompeo in Jerusalem 3/22/19
Israel celebrates Trump's decision to recognize Israeli sovereignty over Golan Heights; plus CBN News exclusive interview with US Secretary of State Pompeo - from geo-politics to faith; and Purim, the Jewish people celebrate deliverance then and now. (h/t Elder of Lobby)




Martin Kramer: From the Golan to the West Bank
I’m not persuaded at all that Trump’s recognition of Israel’s sovereignty on the Golan is detrimental to his own peace plan (see the argument here). In fact, the opposite is true: it salvages the plan.

Everyone thought the plan would be dead on arrival anyway. The Palestinians would say “no,” and that would be that. Now Trump has revealed the price of a “no.” Assad père said “no,” thinking the Golan was like some sort of escrow account being held indefinitely for Syria. Well, now it’s off the table. If you say “no,” Trump is warning, you don’t get more later, you get less or maybe nothing.

By this move, the US is telling the Palestinians: Sure, say “no” to our plan. But the next step isn’t a better offer. It might be US recognition of Israeli annexation of part of the West Bank. If you think we won’t do it, just look at the Golan. And read Trump’s tweet carefully: “After 52 years, it is time for the United States to fully recognize Israel’s Sovereignty over the Golan Heights, which is of critical strategic and security importance to the State of Israel and Regional Stability!” Substitute “West Bank” for “Golan Heights,” and you wouldn’t have to change another word.

This kind of hardball is probably the only way to disrupt the (totally irrational) mindset of Palestinians that time is on their side—a mindset artificially kept on life support by decades of status-quo diplomacy. It probably won’t work, because mindsets take a long time to change. But if it fails, it won’t be spectacular like the failures of the past, and it might finally get Palestinians to see their predicament as it is. (h/t Elder of Lobby)
Danny Danon: Israeli and Diaspora Jews Are More United Than We Think
The connection between Israeli and Diaspora Jewry goes both ways. Around the world, the Jewish community carefully tracks events in Israel and does not sit idly by when Israel is in need; it mobilizes its resources to help us. It is clear that Israel occupies a central role in the lives of most of Diaspora Jewry.

Israel is equally committed to the Diaspora. We, too, respect and appreciate the bond with world Jewry and always want to offer our help. When terrorists hijacked an airplane and held Jews — regardless of nationality, political ideology or religious observance — hostage in Entebbe, Uganda, we felt a responsibility to act. When Jews are murdered in a synagogue in Pittsburgh, we, too, feel that pain and want to stand with our grief-stricken brothers and sisters.

History teaches us that our enemies do not stop to consider a Jews’ observance level, nationality or political ideology before attacking us. To the antisemites of the world, a Jew is a Jew is a Jew. And, increasingly, as we see in Sweden, France, and even in the halls of the US Congress, these bigots take refuge in justifying antisemitism as anti-Israel rhetoric. Let’s not help them out.

If our enemies view the wonderfully diverse tapestry that is world Jewry as a monolithic bloc, why should we do them the favor and start chipping away at what is our greatest strength: our unity and sense of shared purpose? When the Israelites wandered in the desert after leaving Egypt, they were attacked by our greatest enemy, Amalek. Amalek targeted the weak and vulnerable, striking at small groups, rather than the whole unit. The Israelites only defeated Amalek when they stood as one people. We are strong when we stand together, and recognize that the Jewish people — whether we live in Israel, America, or anywhere else — are part of one family.

This coming week, as thousands of Jews gather in Washington, DC, in an impressive display of support for Israel and the US-Israel relationship, let us remember that despite our disagreements, we all support and are a part of the incredible Zionist story.
'Jexodus' Figure Elizabeth Pipko on Movement's Growth and Goals
THE SPIN ROOM | With more anti-Israel sentiments slowly creeping in the new wave of progressive Democrat party members, some conservative Jews are taking the opportunity to try and persuade Jewish Democratic voters to vote Republican. Jexodus movement founder Elizabeth Pipko discusses with host Ami Kaufman.


Donald Trump Blasts 'Anti-Jewish' Democrats for Skipping AIPAC Conference
President Donald Trump reacted to the news Friday that 2020 Democratic candidates are skipping the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) conference this year.

“The Democrats have very much proven to be anti-Israel, there’s no question about that, and it’s a disgrace,” Trump said. “I don’t know what’s happened to them but they are totally anti-Israel, frankly I think they’re anti-Jewish.”

Trump was asked about the conference as he left the White House for a trip to Mar-a-lago.

2020 candidates including Sens. Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, Bernie Sanders, Beto O’Rourke, and South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, have all said they would not attend the conference after MoveOn.org began a petition to boycott the event.

A policy director for Bernie Sanders told MSNBC the senator was concerned that AIPAC was “concerned about the platform AIPAC is providing for leaders who have expressed bigotry and oppose a two-state solution.”

Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Ambassador to Israel David Friedman are featured speakers at the conference this year.


Trump will speak at Republican Jewish Coalition conference
President Donald Trump will address the Republican Jewish Coalition at a time when he is a hero among right-wing Jews for historic policy decisions that are in sync with Israel’s government.

The RJC announced Friday that Trump would speak April 6 at its annual conference in Las Vegas. Vice President Mike Pence also will be among the speakers.

“From tearing up the Iran deal, to moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, to fighting the rise of anti-Semitism, to — most recently — recognizing Israeli sovereignty over the strategic Golan Heights, President Trump has been a great friend of America’s Jewish community,” Norm Coleman, RJC’s chairman, said in a statement.

Last year, Trump pulled the United States out of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal and moved the embassy to Jerusalem. This week he said it was time to recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights. The Jerusalem and Golan decisions reverse decades of U.S. policy.
Austrian Chancellor Says Antisemitism and Anti-Zionism ‘Two Sides of the Same Coin’
In an address at a conference held by the American Jewish Committee’s Transatlantic Institute on Thursday, Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said, “In today’s political climate, antisemitism and anti-Zionism are often two sides of the same coin.”

Speaking on the struggle against antisemitism in Europe and elsewhere, Kurz told the audience, “Europe is definitely a continent of safety, of liberty, and rule of law. To live up to this heritage we must ensure that every member of our society is and also feels safe and free. No one must every feel afraid to walk in the streets of any European country, no matter who they are, where they are from, or what their faith is.”

“We owe this assurance to all people in Europe, and especially to the Jewish community,” he added.

Noting that “traditional” antisemitism remained a problem, Kurz nonetheless pointed out, “Especially among migrant communities from the Middle East, antisemitic sentiments are increasing. Social media and propaganda from abroad appear to play a significant role also in our societies.”

“In Austria,” he said, “we are taking concrete steps to prevent especially our youth from all backgrounds to be influenced by these dangerous ideas.”
Podcast: Special Envoy Elan Carr on How He Fights Anti-Semitism Across the Globe
On February 5, 2019, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo appointed Elan Carr as the White House’s Special Envoy for Monitoring and Combating Anti-Semitism. Created 15 years ago by President George W. Bush, the position is charged with developing and implementing America’s policy to fight anti-Semitism at home and abroad. Carr—a veteran of the Iraq War, a JAG officer in the U.S. Army Reserve, and a former Deputy District Attorney for Los Angeles County—comes to his post at a time of rising animus against Jews within America and around the globe.

In this podcast, he discusses his office’s efforts, recalling the family history that drives his sense of mission, exploring the trends—positive and negative—he sees across the globe, and making the case for why fighting anti-Semitism in all its forms, including anti-Zionism, is vital for the health of any society.
Antisemitism inside Radical Islam Mosques in America: In Their Own Words (h/t Elder of Lobby)


US preparing official document on Golan recognition
US officials are preparing an official document to codify recognition by the United States of Israeli sovereignty of the Golan Heights, Reuters reported Friday.

A senior administration official said President Donald Trump is likely to sign the official document next week, during his meeting with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in Washington.

The report comes a day after Trump announced in a tweet that it was time for the United States to recognize Israeli sovereignty of the Golan Heights, an announcement which marked a dramatic shift in US policy.

The decision to go ahead with the Golan announcement was spurred in part by an assessment by Trump’s aides that his moves on Jerusalem in 2017 and 2018 had provoked less of a severe reaction in the Arab world than many experts had predicted, a person familiar with the matter told Reuters.

While Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and his relocation of the US embassy to the city, ignited international criticism, they did not appear to quell behind-the-scenes security contacts developed in recent years between Israel and US Gulf allies, source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
US Jewish and Pro-Israel Groups Praise Trump’s Golan Sovereignty Recognition
Top American Jewish and pro-Israel groups have largely welcomed US President Donald Trump’s tweet on Thursday in which he called for American recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights.

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) tweeted, “Given current political and security circumstances in Syria, we have said it was inconceivable to imagine Israeli withdrawal from the Golan Heights. @realDonaldTrump’s statement marks a dramatic change in American policy, and we appreciate his leadership on this issue.”

The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations tweeted, “We appreciate the recognition by @realDonaldTrump of the importance of Israel maintaining control over the Golan Heights, given the increasingly dangerous and volatile situation with Syrian, Hezbollah, Iranian forces, and militias across the border.”

The American Jewish Committee (AJC) tweeted, “We welcome President Trump’s recognition of Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights, which acknowledges the history of the region and the facts on the ground. The events in Syria have proven that the entire region is safer with Israel in control of this territory.”
Exclusive: Joe Lieberman Thanks Trump for Call to Recognize Golan Heights as Israeli Territory
Former Sen. Joe Lieberman joined host Alex Marlow on Sirius XM’s Breitbart News Daily on Friday, stressing to listeners the “critically important” move President Donald Trump made in calling for the U.S. to recognize the Golan Heights as Israeli territory.

Lieberman praised the declaration the president made Thursday that it was “time for the United States to fully recognize Israel’s Sovereignty over the Golan Heights, which is of critical strategic and security importance to the State of Israel and Regional Stability!”

“The fact that [the president is] unconventional enables him to do something that presidents before him, of both parties, probably thought was the right thing to do but never did it because it seemed unconventional, and that’s the way it is with the Golan Heights,” said Lieberman.

“I’m sure this was on the president’s mind when he did this, is that Iran is establishing, really, a permanent foothold with troops of its own, let alone, the Hezbollah terrorist army that it supports there,” he emphasized, calling it “critically important.”

“It was a very significant thing to do for regional stability, let alone for Israel’s security,” said Lieberman, who thanked President Trump for the action.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called President Trump to thank him, acknowledging, “You made history.”
IDF braces for violent protests in north after US recognizes Golan sovereignty
The Israeli military and police on Saturday were preparing for possible violent protests on both sides of Israel’s border with Syria after US President Donald Trump recognized Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights.

“We are preparing for the possibility of tension in the northern Golan Heights,” the Israeli military said in a statement, without providing further details.

According Channel 13 news, snipers have been deployed and riot control measures, such as tear gas and rubber bullets, have been supplied to forces stationed in the area.

Approximately half of the Golan’s residents are Jewish Israelis while the remainder are Druze who are mostly citizens of Syria.
IDF Reservist: Two Friends Died Trying “To Do Their Mission Without Harming Civilians”
In explaining why he created an NGO to publicize the morality of the IDF, Avihai Shorshan recalled that he had two friends who died in 2014 because they tried “to do their mission without harming civilians” during Operation Protective Edge, The Jerusalem Post reported Friday.

Shorshan, whose group, My Truth, made their case in Geneva at the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) and in Brussels this week, explained to the Post, that despite being called a war criminal, after seeing his friends die, it was his “turn to break the silence.”

Over the past two decades, Shorshan recalled numerous incidents where the IDF put its soldiers at risk in order to avoid civilian casualties. The list of incidents includes battles in the central market of Nablus, in Jenin, in the central Gaza Strip, and in the Gaza neighborhood of Shejaia.

In Shejaia, Shorshan told of how his unit once was discovered. Hamas then sent a 10-year-boy in suicide belt toward them.

“Hamas’s response was swift, and a 10-year-old boy in a suicide bomber’s belt was sent our way,” he recalled. “In defiance of orders and the command to shoot to kill, the team member guarding the door at the time decided not to open fire, ducked behind some cover and instead instructed the boy to undress and remove the explosive belt.”

The boy was later released unharmed. A subsequent investigation showed that his brother, a Hamas commander, had paid him the equivalent of two and a half dollars to put the belt on.

Shorshan said that he put up a post on Facebook about his experiences in war and received hundreds of comments. This led to hundreds of responses from other soldiers and the beginning of My Truth.
Col. Richard Kemp Accuses UN Gaza Inquiry of Aiding Hamas


PLO Rep Slams US Ambassador for Protesting Anti-Israel Bias
PLO Rep Ibrahim Khraishi to the UNHRC: "Regarding this item, I invite you to consider what happened lately over the past couple of days. Last Monday, an event was held by Israeli delegation in front of the UN premises to which an ambassador of a superpower from America attended this event in order to incite against Item 7 and against the Human Rights Council and accused the council to be Antisemitic." UNHRC Debate, March 22, 2019.


Khaled Abu Toameh: What’s happening in Gaza?
Fatah leaders in Ramallah have been waiting for years for the day Palestinians in the Gaza Strip would take to the streets to demonstrate against Hamas. That’s why the protests against economic hardship that erupted in different parts of the Gaza Strip in the past week seemed like a dream come true for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and his Fatah officials.

Finally, they believed, the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip have decided to launch an uprising against Hamas, 12 years after the Islamist movement humiliated the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority by seizing control over the coastal enclave in a bloody coup.

Organized by youth movements under the banner of “We Want to Live,” the protests at first appeared to be an authentic voice of Palestinians demanding solutions to the high cost of living, taxes and unemployment in the Gaza Strip. That’s the reason why Hamas did not make any effort in the beginning to prevent the demonstrators from taking to the streets to vent out their anger and frustration over the deteriorating economy.

Hamas officials thought that the protesters would direct their anger towards Israel and the Palestinian Authority – the two parties they hold responsible for the continued economic crisis in the Gaza Strip. In the past year, Hamas has organized such protests and encouraged Palestinians to speak out against the restrictions and sanctions imposed on the Gaza Strip by Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

The first day of the protests, however, proved that Hamas had miscalculated the intentions and goals of the protesters. Hamas quickly discovered that the demonstrators were chanting slogans denouncing its financial corruption and mismanagement. The protesters, Hamas discovered, were demanding an end to its rule over the Gaza Strip. Worse, some of the protesters were carrying photos of Mahmoud Abbas and Fatah flags.

That’s when the Hamas leadership decided to instruct its security forces to take immediate measures to stop the protests before they grow into an intifada against the rulers of the Gaza Strip.




Trump administration slaps new sanctions on Iran
The Trump administration announced Friday that it is slapping new sanctions on more than two dozen Iranian individuals involved in the country’s nuclear and missile research programs, as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo denounced Iran’s growing influence.

The Treasury Department said the sanctions target 31 Iranian scientists, technicians and companies affiliated with Iran’s Organization for Defense Innovation and Research, which is known to have been at the forefront of Iran’s nuclear weapons program.

“Individuals working for Iran’s proliferation-related programs—including scientists, procurement agents, and technical experts—should be aware of the reputational and financial risk they expose themselves to by working for Iran’s nuclear program,” the State Department said in a statement on Friday.

The administration’s move to impose sanctions is unusual, because they are not focused on what the individuals are currently doing, but rather because of their past work in nuclear weapons development, and the potential that they could attempt to restart the nuclear activities.

The officials targeted continue to work in Iran’s defense sector and are part of a core group of experts who could reinstate the nuclear program. The sanctions cover 14 people, including the head of the organization, and 17 subsidiary operations.
Iran Stands Ready to Restart Nuclear Weapons Program
The infrastructure and personnel tied to Iran's past nuclear weapons work continue to operate under the radar, according to senior Trump administration officials, who announced sanctions on a host of individuals and organizations that have worked to keep critical infrastructure of Iran's nuclear weapons program in place.

The State Department on Friday announced sweeping new sanctions against "a key Iranian nuclear organization" for its participation in schemes to circumvent U.S. sanctions in a bid to obtain "weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and WMD delivery systems."

The sanctions are part of the Trump administration's push to strangle Iran's economy as well as a secret nuclear procurement network that has enabled Tehran to continue its most sensitive nuclear work despite international prohibitions on such activity.

"The 14 individuals and 17 entities designated today are all linked to Iran's Organization of Defensive Innovation and Research, also known by its Persian acronym, SPND," according to the State Department, which said that these individuals and entities continue to retain the centerpiece of Iran's contested nuclear weapons work.

"This is an organization that was set up in effect to keep the personnel and the human capital from the Iranian nuclear weapons program still together and to keep their skills sharp, apparently with some eye to potential future reconstitution," a senior State Department official told reporters.
Germany won't disclose Iranian attempts to obtain nuclear weapons, rocket technology, foreign ministry letter shows
Germany’s government has refused to disclose the number of attempts by the Iranian regime to obtain illicit nuclear weapons and rocket technology, Fox News has learned. The failure to reveal the information comes amid the Islamic Republic supreme leader's Thursday announcement promising to boost the country’s ballistic missile program in defiance of U.S warnings.

"A statistic in the field of foreign trade is not kept at the [German] customs criminal office," in connection with the Iranian regime's efforts to secure the technology, a German Foreign Ministry letter obtained by Fox News stated.

Niels Annen, a minister of state in the ministry, who celebrated the Islamic Republic of Iran’s revolution in February at Tehran’s Berlin embassy, wrote the March 18 letter.

The German Left Party had sent a parliamentary query in late February to the federal government, asking for the number of cases, investigations, and the nature of the results covering Iran’s violations of sanctions conducted by Germany's customs criminal office between 2015 and 2018.

In a March 19 German-language t-online report, the journalist Jonas Mueller-Töwe wrote that the German government‘s failure to disclose information about Iran’s possible violations of sanctions contradicts the country’s past practice. He wrote that Annen’s claim that the disclosure practice has not changed “is not correct.”




Clinton, in newly revealed emails, discussed classified matters, secretive channel with Israel
A newly unearthed batch of heavily redacted, classified emails from Hillary Clinton's personal email server revealed that the former secretary of state discussed establishing a "private, 100% off-the-record" back channel to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and that one of her top aides warned her that she was in "danger" of being "savaged by Jewish organizations, in the Jewish press and among the phalanx of neoconservative media" as a result of political machinations by "Bibi and the Jewish leadership."

The 756-page group of new documents, revealed Thursday as part of a transparency lawsuit by Judicial Watch, seemingly contradicted Clinton's insistence under oath in 2015 that she had turned over all of her sensitive work-related emails to the State Department, and included a slew of classified communications on everything from foreign policy to State Department personnel matters.

The files came from a trove of 72,000 documents the FBI recovered and turned over to the State Department in 2017.

The documents, representing a small proportion of the tens of thousands of emails still unaccounted for from Clinton's server, also underscored the apparently significant political threat that the Obama administration felt it faced at the hands of Israel. (h/t MtTB)
AIPAC Says Did Not Invite 2020 Democratic Presidential Candidates to Conference
AIPAC does not disclose who is invited to the conference, but rather, who has confirmed.

On Thursday, the following candidates stated their upcoming absence: Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt), former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas), former Rep. John Delaney (D-Md.), former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee.

Pete Buttigieg, mayor of South Bend, Ind., will also not be there.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) “is not planning to attend, but she will be meeting with her constituents,” her spokesperson told JNS.

JNS reached out to the remaining candidates to see whether or not they plan on attending, but has not received comment. They include Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii), former Gov. John Hickenlooper (D-Colo.), author Marianne Williamson and entrepreneur Andrew Yang.

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, former Israel Defense Forces chief of staff and Blue and White Party leader Benny Gantz, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) are among the main speakers scheduled to address the conference, which take place from March 24-26, just weeks before Israelis go to the polls on
Omar Shares Praise for Democrats Boycotting AIPAC
Rep. Ilhan Omar (D., Minn.) appeared to take credit on Twitter for the Democratic Party's decline in support for Israel Thursday.

She shared two tweets from progressive organization MoveOn and from Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's (D., N.Y.) chief of staff that praised Democrats for not attending the American Israel Public Affairs Committee's (AIPAC) annual Policy Conference.

MoveOn is circulating a #SkipAIPAC petition asking Democratic presidential hopefuls to avoid next week's massive annual event. At present, none will attend.

In a tweet, MoveOn accused AIPAC of "attempting to block the #IranDeal to giving platforms to Islamophobes & not condemning @GOP anti-Semitism."

AIPAC works to maintain bipartisan support for the U.S.–Israel relationship. It does not endorse or donate to candidates, and historically does everything it can to avoid controversy or taking sides in political fights.

In a tweet, Ocasio-Cortez's chief of staff Saikat Chakrabarti directly credited Omar with causing the rift between the mainstream pro-Israel organization and progressive Democrats. "I hope it's not lost on anyone that this is a direct result of @IlhanMN's leadership," he wrote. "Thank you, @IlhanMN, for showing such courage."
Rashida Tlaib Lies About Her Grandmother So She Can Blame Israel
Maintaining the myth of “the Israeli occupation” provides a convenient punching bag for those who are hostile to the Jewish state.

Congresswoman Tlaib is absolutely right that there are human rights violations in her grandmother’s village, but they are violations committed by the PA and its leadership. For example, the PA refuses to permit grandma Tlaib and her fellow residents to vote for their town’s leaders. Beit Ur al-Fauqa has been governed, since early 1996 by a group of 11 administrators appointed by the PA. So much for Palestinian democracy.

In addition, grandma and her neighbors, like all of the Palestinian Arabs who live under PA rule, have not been allowed to vote for their national leadership, either. Mahmoud Abbas, the head of the PA, is now serving the 14th year of an initial four year-term. He has accomplished this feat by simply never holding elections for his office. I wonder why the congresswoman never speaks about that.

Please, Congresswoman Tlaib, enough with the lies. Stop lying about the “Israeli occupation.” Stop lying about the “Israeli human rights violations” that are actually committed by the PA. And for goodness’ sake, stop lying about your own grandmother.
Amid Ilhan Omar Controversy, America Quietly Lists Minnesota On Ebay (satire)
U.S.—In the midst of a controversy over Ilhan Omar's inflammatory comments regarding Israel, her subsequent non-apologetic apologies, and her immediate return to saying anti-Semitic things, the United States of America has quietly listed the state of Minnesota for auction on eBay.

The starting bid was set at $130 when the auction went live. Canada quickly bid up the price to the low $2,000s, but it was later revealed that it was just Prime Minister Justin Trudeau having a few too many strawberry daiquiris Wednesday evening, and the nation's bids were rescinded. Several extremist anti-Israel groups bid for the territory as well but accidentally spent all their money on anti-Semitic signs and T-shirts, and so were forced to bow out of the bidding.

At publishing time, the U.S. had settled for throwing Minnesota up on OfferUp, asking for "$20 or trade obo."
Fathom’s new report into Labour antisemitism
A major new report has just been published by Fathom. In Contemporary Left Antisemitism and the Crisis in the British Labour Party Professor Alan Johnson explains why the party should now be seen as institutionally antisemitic, asserting that it has failed to:
  • Understand contemporary antisemitism.
  • Prevent the party becoming host to three different forms of antisemitism.
  • Develop ‘appropriate and professional’ processes to deal with antisemitism and safeguard members.
  • Eradicate the party’s culture of antisemitism denial and victim-blaming
The report opens with a devastating summary of recent events – the testimony from MPs and other members who have been driven to quit the party, the failure of Labour’s internal processes to deal with the problem, and the grave concerns expressed by Jewish communal bodies.

Johnson provides a really sharp and incisive account of the nature of antisemitism, conspiratorial and shapeshifting, in Part 1 of the report. Key characteristics of contemporary antisemitism – the replacement of the Jew by Israel in its discourse and the ‘Holocaust inversion’ that dubs Israel the ‘new Nazis’ – are clearly defined. He goes on to expose the left’s problem with the ‘two-camp’ world view which promotes alliances with fascists and extremists through a chilling process of moral contortion.

Part Two opens with a very helpful reminder of antisemitism’s historical relationship with the left before turning to the particular problems which beset the Labour Party. Brief case studies of several examples of antisemitic behaviour from Labour members drive the points home. This relentless roll call of shame runs through each section of the report – with examples to fit each category of problem – and this is a particularly useful resource.
Corbyn attended 2011 event with Islamic Movement leader Raed Salah
It seems that yet another event has been uncovered in which Jeremy Corbyn participated alongside virulently anti-Israel figures.

Corbyn apparently gave a speech at a 2011 conference in Geneva organized by the European Network to Support the Rights of Palestinian Prisoners (UFree).

The conference was uncovered on the Twitter account "The Golem," who also posted a link to the conference's report.

The conference was attended by Raed Salah, leader of the northern branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel. In a 2007 speech, Salah accused Jews of using children's blood to bake bread, according to Israeli newspapers. After a series of court battles, he was convicted of incitement to racism by the Jerusalem District Court in November 2014.

Salah has also served time in Israeli prison for funding Hamas, and sailed on the Mavi Marmara in the 2010 Gaza protest flotilla. He was present during the subsequent raid on the ship by IDF commandos, which left nine Turkish citizens dead.
Poland likely to bar Holocaust denier, foreign minister says
Warsaw is likely to refuse Holocaust denier David Irving entry to Poland later this year, the foreign minister said on Friday, citing local legislation that bans denying the genocide.

Israel had urged Poland to deny Irving entry after reports that he planned to lead a tour of Nazi concentration camps in the country. The author of several books, Irving has denied that the Nazis murdered six million Jews during World War Two.

Irving confirmed to Reuters by email that he had planned to visit Poland later this year, as he has in the past.

“Negation of the Holocaust is not allowed by Polish law, therefore he will not be welcome here in Poland if he wants to come and present his opinions,” Jacek Czaputowicz told reporters at a press conference.

Irving sued an American historian, Deborah Lipstadt, for libel in 1996 after she described him as a Holocaust denier. But Lipstadt won, in a case that was depicted in the film “Denial”, released in 2016.

Poland’s right-wing government introduced legislation last year that would have made the use of phrases such as “Polish death camps” punishable by up to three years in prison.
Austrian Muslims twice as likely as non-Muslims to hold antisemitic views
Austria’s Muslim residents are more than twice as likely as non-Muslims to endorse anti-Semitic statements, according to a survey commissioned by the Austrian government.

Asked whether they agree with a statement blaming anti-Semitic persecution of Jews on their own behavior, 19 percent of non-Muslims agreed. In the Muslim group, 45 percent of the respondents endorsed the statement.

Arab respondents, who made up half of the Muslim group, were slightly more likely than Turks, who made up the other half, to agree with the statement.

Wolfgang Sobotka, president of the lower house of the Austrian parliament, presented the results of the “Anti-Semitism in Austria 2018″ study in Vienna last week. It surveyed 2,731 respondents older than 16 including 604 Muslims.

In the Turkish group, 28 percent agreed that “Jews still need to answer for the murder of Jesus.” The figure was 17 among Arabs and 13 among non-Muslims in the study, titled

Ten percent of non-Muslims agreed with the statement that “a lot is exaggerated in news about concentration camps” from the Holocaust. That figure was 41 percent among Turks and 35 among Arabs.

Asked to react to the statement that “Jews control international commerce,” 39 percent of non-Muslims concurred. The figures were 63 and 64 percent among the Turkish and Arab groups.
Israel blanketed by millions of butterflies
As children across Israel dressed up for the holiday of Purim, the country also took on a festive look Thursday with millions of butterflies blanketing parks and nature reserves.

An annual migration of butterflies was unusually big this year, with some 10 million Vanessa cardui (also known as the cosmopolitan or the painted lady) crossing into Israel in recent days, according to the Israel Nature and Parks Authority.

“The source of this unusually large migration is from the desert areas of Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, which had an unusual rainy winter and lots of growth, which allowed the caterpillars to eat and prosper,” said Dotan Rotem, an ecologist with the parks authority.

Rotem said the butterflies were heading north and west and were also starting to reach Cyprus on their way to Spain and other parts of Europe.

Rotem noted that these butterflies wont survive to return to Israel, but their offspring will be back.
Israel’s hospitals incubate products for a healthier world
Israeli hospitals aren’t only hubs of healing; they’re also emerging as global hubs of innovation.

What’s driving this trend? Three factors unique to Israel: An aggressive problem-solving approach, a robust innovation infrastructure, and a centralized, digitized healthcare system possessing 25 years of data from cradle-to-grave electronic medical records.

It all adds up to a powerful prescription for curing serious healthcare challenges across the world.

The number of hospital-sponsored innovation centers or healthcare accelerators is believed to be higher per capita in Israel than anywhere else. In the United States, several innovation centers have begun in prominent hospitals including the Mayo Clinic, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Cleveland Clinic and Boston Children’s Hospital.

Of course, Israel also has a robust healthcare accelerator/incubator scene outside of the hospital environment. These programs — among them Trendlines Medical, eHealth Ventures, FutuRx, Alon MedTech Ventures, NGT3, RAD BioMed Accelerator, Samsung Runway and MedXelerator – often have backing from the government and from global healthcare, pharma and medical device companies.
11 great books you must read before a visit to Tel Aviv
Tel Aviv is a strong contender for Israel’s most fun city. The beach, the sun and the beautiful people all make it a fabulous destination for anyone visiting Israel.

But like any other city in the world, it is also home to private lives marked by love and sadness, tragedy and triumph. The city also has a complex and complicated history.

Here are our top reads to immerse yourselves in Tel Aviv’s inner depths for a completely sweeping experience of “the city that never stops.”

Forest Dark by Nicole Krauss
When I Lived in Modern Times by Linda Grant
Three Floors Up by Eshkol Nevo
Tel Aviv Noir by Etgar Keret and Assaf Gavron (eds.)
Asylum City by Liad Shoham
Tel Aviv: Mythography of a City by Maoz Azaryahu
Bauhaus Tel Aviv: An Architectural Guide by Nahoum Cohen
The Hunted by Elmore Leonard
Between Life and Death by Yoram Kaniuk
Returning Lost Loves by Yehoshua Kenaz
The Seven Good Years: A Memoir by Etgar Keret
Rafi Eitan, ex-minister and legendary spy who captured Eichmann, dies aged 92
Rafi Eitan, a former Israeli minister, Shin Bet and Mossad officer, and the legendary spy who led the famed capture of Adolf Eichmann, died on Saturday at the age of 92. The Ichilov Medical Center in Tel Aviv, where Eitan was hospitalized, issued the announcement of his death to the media.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a statement on his passing calling him a “beloved person” and “hero of the Israeli intelligence community.”

“My wife Sara and I mourn alongside the people of Israel the passing of Rafi Eitan,” Netanyahu said. “Rafi was among the heroes of the intelligence services of the State of Israel on countless missions on behalf of the security of Israel.”

“He was a personal and close family friend. His wisdom, wit and commitment to the people of Israel and our state were without peer. We mourn his passing,” Netanyahu said.



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