Monday, May 27, 2019

From Ian:

Top German paper to print cutout kippah in solidarity with Jews
The editor of Bild, Germany’s largest newspaper, on Sunday said he will print a Jewish skullcap on the front page of the Monday paper so that Germans can cut it out and wear it in solidarity with the local Jewish community.

The protest comes days after the government official in charge of fighting anti-Semitism said he wouldn’t advise Jews to wear the traditional Jewish head-covering in parts of the country.

“If even one person in our country can’t wear a kippah without putting themselves in danger, the only answer is that we all wear a kippah,” Bild’s editor-in-chief Julian Reichelt tweeted. “The kippah belongs to Germany! That’s why tomorrow the kippah will be printed for cutting out on page one.”

Reichelt tweeted a photo of the mockup of the Monday morning edition cover page, which features an editorial and the stylized Star of David skullcap, called a kippah in Hebrew.

On Saturday, German anti-Semitism czar Felix Klein said his “opinion has unfortunately changed compared with what it used to be” on the matter. He said: “I cannot recommend to Jews that they wear the skullcap at all times everywhere in Germany.” He did not elaborate on what places and times might pose a danger.

U.S. ambassador urges Jews in Germany to wear kippot and not conceal identity
The US government’s most high-profile ambassador in Europe, Richard Grenell, said Jews in Germany should not conceal their religious identity, and urged them to wear kippot in defiance of a statement from Germany’s commissioner to combat antisemitism that Jews should avoid wearing kippot in public.

“The opposite is true,” tweeted Grenell, the US ambassador to Germany. “Wear your kippa. Wear your friend’s kippa. Borrow a kippa and wear it for our Jewish neighbors. Educate people that we are a diverse society.”

On Saturday, Felix Klein, the federal government Commissioner for Jewish Life in Germany and the Fight against Antisemitism, told the Funk media group, “My opinion on the matter has changed following the ongoing brutalization in German society. I can no longer recommend Jews wear a kippah at every time and place in Germany.”

President Reuven Rivlin reacted on Sunday, saying “The statement of the German government’s antisemitism commissioner – that it would be preferable for Jews not to wear a kippah in Germany out of fear for their safety – shocked me deeply. Responsibility for the welfare, the freedom and the right to religious belief of every member of the German Jewish community, is in the hands of the German government and its law enforcement agencies. We acknowledge and appreciate the moral position of the German government, and its commitment to the Jewish community that lives there, but fears about the security of German Jews are a capitulation to antisemitism and an admittance that, again, Jews are not safe on German soil.

“We will never submit, will never lower our gaze, and will never react to antisemitism with defeatism – and we expect and demand our allies act in the same way.”
German chancellor Merkel commits to ensuring security for Jews with kippahs
German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesman on Monday stressed the country’s responsibility to ensure security for all Jews wearing kippahs anywhere in the country without having to fear an anti-Semitic attack.

“It’s the job of the state to ensure that anybody can move around securely with a skullcap in any place of our country,” Steffen Seibert said.

The comments came after the government’s anti-Semitism commissioner, Felix Klein, said he wouldn’t advise Jews to wear the traditional Jewish head-covering in parts of the country.

Felix Klein said his “opinion has unfortunately changed compared with what it used to be” on the matter. He said: “I cannot recommend to Jews that they wear the skullcap at all times everywhere in Germany.” He did not elaborate on what places and times might pose a danger.

Government statistics released earlier this month showed that the number of anti-Semitic and anti-foreigner incidents rose in Germany last year, despite an overall drop in politically motivated crimes.

Israel Destroyed Syria's Nuclear Potential. What Would The World Look Like Now If They Hadn't?
Meir Dagan, the renowned and feared head of the Mossad took a seat on the couch in the West Wing of the White House. Vice President Dick Cheney settled into a large blue wing chair to his right. Not one for small talk, Dagan got straight to the point."Syria is building a nuclear reactor," the Mossad chief said in his thick Israeli accent. "For Syria to have a nuclear weapons program, to have a nuclear weapon, is unacceptable."

Dagan then pulled the first folder out of his bag and spread dozens of color photos on the coffee table. Cheney lifted one. National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley and his deputy, Elliott Abrams, took another. They could clearly make out a concrete building under construction, with some large pipes being installed inside. There was nothing yet that showed the building to be a nuclear reactor. It didn't have the typical dome or smokestacks, the trademarks of nuclear facilities.

"That is the nuclear reactor," Dagan told the group. It was a gas-cooled, graphite-moderated reactor, he explained, used to produce plutonium, and was being built as an almost exact replica of the Yongbyon nuclear reactor in North Korea. The concrete building on the exterior was a façade to hide what was really inside.

The Americans were speechless. Cheney, Hadley and Abrams just watched and listened as Dagan explained in detail what the pictures showed. In one, two men posed in front of the concrete structure. One of the men, of Asian ethnicity, was wearing a blue tracksuit. The man he was standing next to, Dagan said, was Ibrahim Othman, head of Syria's Atomic Energy Commission.

Dagan then showed his hosts another photo. It was the same Asian man, although this time he was wearing a tailored suit and tie. From their intelligence experience, the Americans knew what they were seeing. It was a photo taken at a recent meeting of the Six-Party Talks, the negotiations America and other Western superpowers were conducting with North Korea in an effort to stop its rogue nuclear program. The man in the photo, Dagan said, was Chon Chibu, one of the scientists in charge of the Yongbyon nuclear reactor.

The news was earth-shattering. Until then, there was no evidence in the U.S. intelligence community to support what Dagan was claiming. Not a clue.

Excerpt from the new book, Shadow Strike, by Yaakov Katz.
Mossad wins top defense prize for Iran nuclear heist
The 2019 Israel Security Prize will be awarded to the Mossad staff who broke into a warehouse holding Iran’s nuclear files and spirited the material out of the country, officials said Sunday.

In the clandestine operation inside Iran last year, Mossad agents stole Iranian nuclear archives in the Islamic Republic’s capital of Tehran and smuggled the thousands of documents to Israel. The content of the files showed that Iran had in the past worked to develop nuclear weapons.

The decision to award the prestigious prize was made by a committee headed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is also the defense minister, and who presented the findings of the raid in a much-publicized press appearance in April 2018.

The Israel Defense Prize is awarded each year by the president to individuals, units, or projects found to have significantly improved the security of the state with either recognition for a lifetime achievement or a unique contribution to defense.

The committee examined all the parameters, from the risk aspect to the importance of the material obtained and the contribution it made to the security of the state.

The acquisition of the documents and files that were seized, which proved that Iran had been working to develop nuclear weapons, is thought to have factored in the Trump administration decision last year to withdraw from the nuclear agreement with Iran.

The defense prize has been awarded annually since 1958, but due to national security interests, the winners are sometimes shrouded in secrecy.
Fauxtography: Gaza Pink T-Shirt Scam?
There’s nothing more pernicious than the charge that Israel deliberately targets Palestinian children. It’s something that the Palestinians and Israel-haters want the world to believe. But if you can’t supply a dead child’s body, you need to produce imagery that will suggest that a child was a victim of Israel. That’s where Fauxtography comes in.

One way to do this is through the deliberate staging of photos or footage, something that HonestReporting looked at in our Shattered Lens study of Photo Bias. So, for example, the deliberate placement of children’s toys at the scene of an Israeli air strike has been a favored ploy.

A piece in The Independent on the financial plight of UNRWA includes an accompanying and barely related video shot by correspondent Bel Trew in Gaza from the scene of what was presumably an Israeli air strike. There is no commentary, no subtitling and no context.

Amidst the rubble, most of which is concrete, one thing catches the eye – what appears to be a purple piece of furniture, most likely a girl’s. A Palestinian man holds up a child’s bright pink t-shirt.
Screenshot from The Independent’s video. Note the photo lens of a journalist on the bottom right.

The man is addressing a few people but we don’t know who he is or what he is saying. We also don’t know the exact location. It’s possible to make out a photo lens, indicating that this is a group of journalists who have been specifically brought to the scene for an arranged briefing. Such a media briefing would be unlikely to be held without Hamas oversight.

Has that purple piece of children’s furniture been deliberately placed there for the benefit of the photographers? And how does the pink t-shirt look like it has just returned from the launderette?
Gantz wants a chance to form an alternative government
If Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu cannot form a coalition, Blue and White leader Benny Gantz said he should be given the opportunity to try.

“It’s irresponsible to go to an election now,” Gantz said in a faction meeting in the Knesset on Monday. “If we succeed [in forming a government], good, if not, then we will go back to the public” for a vote.

Legally, Netanyahu must tell President Reuven Rivlin by Wednesday at midnight whether he successfully formed a government or not. If Netanyahu says he failed, Rivlin could task someone else with building a coalition.

However, there are other options. Likud has been threatening to pass a law before Wednesday night to dissolve the Knesset and call another election, if Yisrael Beytenu refuses to join the coalition, leaving it tied with the opposition. Netanyahu could also tell Rivlin that he has a path to form a government, but the ministers do not actually have to be sworn in for another 21 days from Wednesday.

Still, Gantz said “it would be appropriate for Bibi [Netanyahu] to hand over the reins to the only alternative, Blue and White, under my leadership.”

As such, Blue and White opposes the bill to dissolve the Knesset, saying an election is unnecessary.
Liberman vows to back early elections, opposes 'Jewish Law' government
If Likud initiates an election with a bill dispersing the Knesset, we will support the bill and not back another candidate forming a coalition, Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman promised in a meeting of his faction on Monday.

Liberman rejected the Likud’s allegations that he has refused to join Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government for personal reasons. He said his party’s view on the haredi (ultra-Orthodox) conscription bill has been the same since February 2018.

“Everyone with a brain understands that our view is principled, not revenge or anything else,” he said. “I have never seen someone who won an election so convincingly not reach an agreement with any party. They are trying to take the easy way out and blame it on me. If Likud wants to blame someone, they should look in the mirror.”

Liberman said the coalition Netanyahu is building with United Torah Judaism and Shas is not a right-wing government but a government of Jewish law.

"What is right-wing about responding to 700 rockets by upgrading the money given to Hamas from 15 to 30 million shekels?"

Liberman noted that he supported Netanyahu, agreeing that he should remain prime minister if indicted, enabling him to expand the cabinet and the Likud candidate for comptroller.
Former Arab MK jailed for smuggling cellphones to terrorists released
Former Joint Arab List MK Basel Ghattas, who was arrested in 2016 for smuggling cellular phones to convicted terrorist Walid Daka in Ketziot Prison and transferring encrypted messages between terrorist convicts, was released from jail on Monday after serving his two-year sentence.

Daka was convicted by a military tribunal of membership in the terrorist group that kidnapped and executed IDF soldier Moshe Tamam in 1986.

Ghattas was convicted in March 2017 on several counts, including breach of trust and providing the means to carry out terrorist acts, and received a two-year sentence from the Beersheba Magistrates’ Court in April 2017 as part of a plea bargain.

Ghattas entered Gilboa Prison in July 2017, telling a throng of journalists that he was “entering prison with my head held high.”

“I will continue to protect the rights of prisoners and bring their cases to the public agenda,” he said.

Ghattas justified the smuggling of cell phones to prisoners as “humanitarian,” though didn’t elaborate on how the illegal phones would serve such purposes.
PMW: PA National Security Forces honors arch-terrorist with chess tournament
Abbas inaugurated The Martyr Abu Jihad Faculty Building
for Administration and Military Sciences at Palestinian university
University festival also honored Abu Jihad

Abbas' deputy about arch-terrorist Abu Jihad, responsible for deaths of 125 Israelis:

"This leader [Abu Jihad] whom everyone loved is a very important value in this Palestinian people's conscience. He had an incredible amount of qualities that prepared him to be a leader on this path"

PA Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Fatah defended decision to paint a portrait of the arch-terrorist on the wall of a school, following criticism from US Envoy Greenblatt

Fatah: "First interest of our people is... to express our pride in the sacrifices of the fighters of our people and their great leaders such as the Martyr Khalil al-Wazir (Abu Jihad)."

Columnist in official PA daily: "Abu Jihad is the Prince of Martyrs and one of the greatest symbols of our people... there is no one from among those who have made the symbol of victory... who does not known him, who does not honor him, and who does not revere his role... He is present among us like a light that is not extinguished and as one of the most prominent Martyrs."

Arab report: Ex-IDF officer admits 2015 assassination of terrorist Kuntar
Was Israel responsible for the assassination of Samir Kuntar, a Lebanese terrorist who belonged to the Palestine Liberation Front?

The London-based Arab newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat claimed Sunday that a former Israeli army officer, Marco Morno, confirmed that Israel assassinated Kuntar in 2015 with “two planes that bombed a building with four long-range missiles after receiving information from ‘one of the leaders of the Syrian opposition faction.’”

Kuntar murdered three Israelis in 1979, a 28-year-old man, his 4-year-old daughter, and an Israeli policeman. The man’s 2-year-old daughter suffocated as her mother tried to quiet her crying.

The terrorist spent nearly 30 years in Israeli prisons and was released in exchange for the bodies of two IDF soldiers killed by Hezbollah in 2008. On his release, he returned to Lebanon and joined Hezbollah, becoming a prominent member.

At the time of Kuntar’s death, Israel did not claim responsibility, though according to Asharq Al-Awsat , the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights has previously said that Kuntar was the target of various failed Israeli assassination attempts in Syria.

Morno reportedly told an Israeli news site about the assassination, which he said he could share under military censorship.
Amazon removes Hezbollah leader's book after appeal by Israeli journalist
A book by Hezbollah deputy secretary-general Naim Qassem was reportedly removed from the Amazon bookstore following an appeal by a reporter from The Jerusalem Post’s sister paper, Maariv.

According to an article published by the Hebrew website, Amazon was promoting the book, despite the Hezbollah organization being named a terrorist group by the United States and Qassem labeled as a terrorist.

“The US administration has declared Hezbollah deputy secretary-general Naim Qassem an international terrorist and has forbidden American citizens and businesses from maintaining contact with him,” wrote reporter Haim Iserovich in an article last week, “but the Amazon site sold Qassem’s book, which supports murdering Israeli civilians and casts doubt on Israel's right to exist.”

Iserovich first started investigating the book after UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon Jan Kubis met with Qassem and recommended his book as “necessary reading.”

Though Kubis did not mention which of Qassem’s 11 books he received, the Maariv reporter discovered that at least one of these books, “Hizbullah (Hezbollah): The Story from Within,” was being sold by the book giant.
New Report Shows How a Pro-Iran Group Spread Fake News Online
Researchers at Citizen Lab got their first clue in April 2017, after users on Reddit noticed an article on Brexit that appeared to be from the British newspaper The Independent actually came from a site spelled differently: “” But when readers later tried to return to the article, they were sent to the actual newspaper’s official site. The article’s authors had deleted the fake one but changed the link to reinforce the impression that it had originated on the real newspaper’s site.

In all, Citizen Lab said it had identified 73 web domains created by the group, 135 ersatz articles it had posted and 11 fake identities like Mona A. Rahman, often used as bylines on the fake articles. Some of the articles had been previously flagged as false by reporters and researchers, who sometimes pointed at Russia as the likely culprit. But the overall operation has not previously been described and linked to Iranian interests.

The group appears to still be active, according to Citizen Lab, though most of its operation has been shut down. “On the surface, they look like a not-very-successful viral advertising campaign,” said John Scott-Railton, a senior researcher at Citizen Lab.

But the fabricated article on Israeli politics impressed a former senior Israeli intelligence official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. The fake article concocted by the group quoted Tamir Pardo, a former director of Mossad, the Israeli intelligence agency, as saying in a talk at Harvard that Avigdor Lieberman, Israel’s defense minister, had been dismissed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu after it was discovered that he was a Russian mole.

The fabricated article was spread on Nov. 14, 2018, through a Twitter account for “Bina Melamed,” a common Israeli name.

In fact, Mr. Lieberman had just resigned in protest of a cease-fire ending fighting in Gaza, and Mr. Pardo had just spoken at the Belfer Center. The rest of the article was an invention. But the former Israel official said he was struck by the overnight creation of the fake Harvard website and the “superfast reaction to events.”
Erdoğan's Istanbul Nightmare
Turkey's Supreme Electoral Board, consisting of judges apparently under government pressure, cancelled the result of the Istanbul mayoral election on the pretext that some officials serving at the polling stations were not civil servants, as required by the law. "The Board's decision brings Turkish democracy one big step closer to death," wrote Kemal Kirişçi, senior fellow at TÜSİAD, Turkey's biggest business association.

"It appears that losing Istanbul entails too many risks for the AKP for the matter to be left to its own resources. Many are convinced that if the AKP were to lose Istanbul to the opposition, after having held it – with its precursor – for 25 years, a hornet's nest of vested interests, corruption, and abuse of power would be revealed." — Semih Idiz, a columnist for Sigma Turkey, an Ankara-based think tank.

Even if Erdoğan wins Istanbul in the re-run, he will have lost the last few remaining crumbs of his international credibility.

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