Friday, September 06, 2019

From Ian:

Caroline Glick: Strengthening the US-Israel alliance
Should Israel and the US sign a mutual defense treaty? Every few years, this perennial question is raised. And every few years, it is set aside.

In 2000 then-Prime Minister Ehud Barak made signing a mutual defense treaty with the US a central component of his national security strategy. That year, as Barak sought to sell the public his plan to give the Temple Mount to Palestine Liberation Organization Chairman Yasser Arafat and Judea and Samaria to Arafat’s terror armies, he presented the option of signing a mutual defense pact with the US as a reasonable payoff for Israel’s sacrifice for peace.

Barak’s thinking was clear.

True, if the PLO boss had accepted Barak’s peace offer Israel would have been left without its capital and without defensible borders. But there was no reason to worry. The Marines would protect us. At the heart of Barak’s vision of a mutual defense treaty stood his unwillingness to bear the burdens of freedom, power and sovereignty.

The present round of chatter about the prospect of achieving a US-Israel defense treaty was initiated by Republican Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC). In opposition to the view of the majority of Israelis and of the 2016 Republican Party platform, Graham insists on maintaining allegiance to the so-called “two-state solution,” despite its hundred-year record of continuous failure.

Still, Graham is no foe of Israeli sovereignty and military might. To the contrary. Graham played a decisive role in convincing President Donald Trump to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights. So it is inconceivable that Graham shares Barak’s post-Zionist vision of a defenseless Israel protected by Uncle Sam.

Moreover, according to media reports, ahead of the September 17 election Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is making an effort to convince President Trump to make a statement in favor of a new US-Israel defense treaty. Since Netanyahu’s diplomatic policies and his strategic vision of Israel are diametrically opposed to those Barak advanced, it is impossible to imagine that Netanyahu shares Barak’s vision of the purpose of a defense treaty.

What then could be the purpose of a defense treaty? What sort of rearrangement of Israel’s defense ties with the US would advance those ties to both countries’ mutual advantage?
Make Egyptian-Israeli Cooperation Overt
Marrying Israel’s know-how, experience, and innovation with Egypt’s abundant cheap manpower (Egypt’s per capita gross domestic product is about 6% of Israel's) and its hunger to excel after generations of decline and a looming water crisis, promises to bear fruit for both countries.

Of course, cooperation to enhance security and stability will remain paramount. However, imagine the dividends in the not-distant future in tourism and trade if you combine Egypt's and Israel's abundant antiquities, beautiful beaches, delicious cuisines, and rich histories as cradles of civilization and of the world's main monotheistic religions.

Cooperation with Israel's first-rate universities and advanced hospitals could give Egypt's educational and medical facilities a significant boost. Egypt's youth are thirsty for the knowledge, training, and skills that would maximize their productivity. Moreover, because the rapidly increasing populations of Ethiopia and Sudan need more Nile water for their own agriculture and development, Egypt – which is downstream – must learn to use the river wisely. Water conservation, reclamation, purification, distribution, and irrigation techniques, as well as desalination plants on the Mediterranean, are needed to ensure that Egyptians have access to abundant, clean drinking water. Israel is the most experienced country on earth in water technology.

Unfortunately, an enduring Israeli-Palestinian peace seems far off. But ultimately, the time will come when a new Palestinian leadership realizes that Israel is a mature, respected country and a potential ally to them. Egypt could then play a pivotal role in bringing the sides together in mutual acceptance and productive coexistence.

In a world accustomed to thinking in zero-sum terms – where one side's gain is another side's loss – the time has come for a win-win proposition. But the successful implementation of cooperative Israeli-Egyptian ventures requires working diligently on the building of mutual trust. Such ventures would directly benefit both countries and, as a secondary dividend, reduce anti-Semitism and other forms of extremism and contribute to regional peace.
Bret Stephens NYTs: What Was Iran Hiding in Turquz Abad?
Buried in a recent report from the International Atomic Energy Agency is: "Iran's implementation of its Safeguards Agreement and Additional Protocol require[s] full and timely cooperation by Iran. The Agency continues to pursue this objective with Iran." That's an exquisite way of saying that Iran is stonewalling the agency.

Last September, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the UN General Assembly that Iran had a "secret atomic warehouse for storing massive amounts of equipment and material from Iran's secret nuclear weapons program" on the outskirts of Tehran in a village called Turquz Abad. He urged IAEA chief Yukiya Amano to "inspect this atomic warehouse immediately."

The IAEA only got around to inspecting the site earlier this year, long after the suspicious materials had vanished. But nuclear inspectors were nonetheless able to detect radioactive particles, corroborating Israeli claims about the purpose of the warehouse.

The agency's unwillingness to follow up promptly and effectively on Israel's allegations, along with its reluctance to disclose what it found, inspire little confidence in the quality of its inspections and even less in its willingness to call out cheating.

Moreover, Iran's hiding of nuclear materials is further evidence that Tehran was in violation of the nuclear deal from the moment it was signed. "If Iranians aren't cooperating, it tells you that potentially they are hiding more," notes David Albright, president of the Institute for Science and International Security.

If those who fear an Israeli strike on Iran's nuclear sites are serious about averting it, they could play a helpful part by demanding more credible inspections and honest reporting from the IAEA, starting with a thorough accounting for what went mysteriously missing from Turquz Abad.

Seth Frantzman: Fighting ISIS, Finding Iran
An excerpt from Seth Frantzman’s forthcoming book, ‘After ISIS: America, Iran and the Struggle for the Middle East’
“They are the exporter of instability across the region,” US Secretary of Defense Mattis, his voice gruff and no-nonsense as usual, said in late July 2018. He was talking about Iran. On Syria, he quoted Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. “Keep your eye on the ball.” There were some nations, such as Russia and Iran, keeping Assad in power. “Our job is to try to find a way in the midst of this chaos to help the innocent people.” To do that the US wanted to “get stability in northeast Syria. This starts with destroying ISIS. They are not destroyed yet. It’s not over yet. It’s going to be a lot longer, tougher fight.” In the midst of the last days of the war on ISIS, global and regional powers were jockeying to see who would win the peace. Trump, Putin, Rouhani, Erdogan, MBS and Netanyahu were all watching closely.

Since February 2018, the US had begun to concentrate on “stabilization” in Syria. But it was doing that at the same time that it hunted down the remnants of ISIS. “We are almost complete with liberation of the physical caliphate,” Maj. Gen. James Jarrard, commander of special operations in Syria, said. He praised the Syrian Democratic Forces as “great partners who have done a phenomenal job liberating terrain.”

The challenge was that these partner forces, made up of Kurds and Arabs from various units, including the YPG, had a slog ahead to defeat the ISIS remnants. In the Euphrates Valley near Iraq, “once you liberate terrain it’s not over. ISIS and al Qaeda are experts at blending in to the population and remain in a cellular structure and commit activities that delegitimize governance.” So the US was training local security forces in the “near term,” to give the local government breathing space to stabilize the countryside.

There was also a lot of reconstruction to be done and clearing thousands of IEDs. Jarrard said in February 2018 that in Raqqa, Manbij and Tabqa, it could take up to ten years to clear all the mines left behind. “That is the biggest inhibitor to all the other stabilization efforts because of the dangers of working in areas not cleared of IEDs. It’s a bit of a Catch-22 because the US wants to help the local people have security to get their agriculture developed and start earning a living, while the coalition wants the US State Department donors to set down foundations under a program called START Forward. You can’t have security if you can’t clear IEDs, and you can’t clear IEDs until the financial support is flowing to equip people to do it. Getting the financial support requires security and stabilization,” the American officer said.
The lack of democracy and fundamental freedoms in the Palestinian territories
The European Union hands the Palestinian Authority $404 million USD per year, with most allotted for its education ministry. In addition, the EU contributed $178 million USD to UNRWA, the UN agency for Palestinian “refugees” and their descendants (Canada gave $25 million in 2018), much of which goes to funding its schools and related programs where Palestinian children are indoctrinated with anti-Jewish and anti-Israel, terrorist propaganda.

In a report released by the NGO IMPACT-se (Institute for Monitoring Peace and Cultural Tolerance in School Education) in April 2019, the organization found new Palestinian textbooks to be more radical than in the past, containing incitement and rejection of peace with Israel. The report found that the new curriculum “deliberately omits any discussion of peace education or reference to any Jewish presence in Palestine before 1948.” “Most troubling, there is a systematic insertion of violence, martyrdom and jihad across all grades and subjects in a more extensive and sophisticated manner, embracing a full spectrum of extreme nationalist ideas and Islamist ideologies that extend even into the teaching of science and mathematics.”

In a statement released on April 24, 2019 in response to the IMPACT-se report, the EU announced its intentions to conduct an examination of the new Palestinian school textbooks. The study will be carried out by an “independent and internationally recognized research institute” with the aim of “identifying possible incitement to hatred and violence and any possible lack of compliance with UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation) standards of peace and tolerance in education.”

This pervasive incitement of hatred and violence against Israel in Palestinian society has many faces, ultimately beginning with the complete denial of the very existence of the State of Israel. Maps in schools and universities in the west bank and Gaza do not even bear the name of Israel, nor a large number of its cities and towns. Palestinian officials and religious leaders frequently deny the thousands of years of Jewish connection to the Land of Israel, promoting a narrative that disavows any Jewish rights to the Jewish historical homeland.

This ubiquitous antipathy is also exemplified by their hero worship and glorification of terrorists. Palestinian inciters extol the deeds of terrorists, naming schools and football teams in their honour and holding them up as models to be emulated. In this environment, Palestinian children are raised to honour terrorists and to seek ‘martyrdom’ through Jihad.

To take a quote from Somali-born Dutch-American activist and scholar Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s brilliant, must read opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal on July 12, “hate is hard to unlearn without coming to terms with how you learned it.” Until the Palestinians learn how to come to terms with the existence of the Jewish state of Israel, how can we ever expect to deviate from the status quo and achieve a solution that will lead to lasting peace in the region?
Edwin Black: Funding illegal Palestinian settlements: Nearly 10,000 cases
The Area C Palestinian boom advances without any coordination with Israelis about land use, security, environmental impacts or close proximity to Jewish villages. The PA’s 2014 Roots Project greatly accelerated the entire process. Thus, European governments and the PA have completed the shredding of the already weakened Oslo agreements.

Most of the new Area C settlements are not natural Arab urban growth or urban sprawl. Rather, they are often strategically scattered to effectively carve up Area C, sometimes to surround Jewish villages and sometimes to push onto Israeli nature or military reserves.

In many instances, Arab residents from Areas A and B are bused in, encouraged by incentives to relocate or start a second home in the new settlements. Some structures are makeshift, festooned with the logo of the European Union. Some are multi-floor office centers. Others turn out to be palatial homes. The gamut of construction styles can be seen.

In several cases, the illegal constructions are deliberately established on Israeli military reserves. Since the 1970s, Israel Defense Forces have maintained military training and firing ranges, such as Firing Zone 918. That zone now has illegal settlements.

One road, dubbed Smuggler’s Route, courses through the hills from the Palestinian city of Yatta all the way to the Arad Valley in the Negev Desert.

In prior years, Israel’s Civil Administration boasted of its many Palestinian construction permits. A glowing report cites 328 projects authorized during 2011 and 2012. That number has drastically diminished because Area C Palestinians no longer apply for permits; they deny Israel’s right to issue them. Now, they just start building.
Jason Greenblatt, architect of Trump's peace plan, leaving White House
Jason Greenblatt, US special envoy to the Middle East and architect behind the “Deal of the Century,” is leaving the administration, the White House announced on Thursday.

He will stay in his role over the next few weeks until President Donald Trump unveils his peace plan, expected sometime after the election on September 17. Greenblatt is then expected to return to his family in New Jersey.
Avi Berkowitz, deputy assistant to the president, and Brian Hook, special representative for Iran, will take on an increased role on the team after Greenblatt’s departure.

An administration official said that Greenblatt originally intended to join the administration for two years to analyze the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and to draft “a realistic and implementable vision to help solve the conflict and to help develop relationships between Israel and [countries in] the region.”

It is unclear what Greenblatt will do after leaving the administration.

Greenblatt has made numerous trips to Israel, the Palestinian territories and the Middle East since taking office nearly three years ago. His Twitter feed has been a regular source of news on his visits, and he has positioned himself as a staunch defender of Israel.
Greenblatt’s departure and the fate of the U.S. peace plan - analysis
If up until now it was the Israeli election season – in fact, two Israeli election seasons – that prevented the release of the plan, with the Administration apparently reticent to do anything that might make Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's difficult political situation even more difficult, now the American election calendar comes into play.

Though every US president has a dream of going down in history as the man who brokered an Israeli-Arab peace deal, Trump and his team have to be asking themselves now what they have to gain politically from releasing the plan just a year before the presidential election, with little chance that it will lead to a breakthrough in the Israeli-Palestinian stalemate since the Palestinians have already rejected the plan, sight unseen.

Moreover, if the plan calls for any kind of Israeli territorial concessions, that would not go over well with a large part of Trump's Evangelical base who are opposed to any such move.

If the Trump team could get a guarantee beforehand from Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and other Persian Gulf countries that they would publicly back the plan – even if the Palestinians reject it – then that could compel the administration to go forward.

But not knowing whether or not Trump will be re-elected, what Arab leader is going to stick out his neck publicly to support the plan over Palestinian objections? If there were assurances that Trump would be around for another four years, that would be one thing. But what if he is not, and a new president takes office who doesn't back the plan and decides to go in a different direction. Then the Arab leaders will be seen by many in their own countries as traitors to the Palestinian cause, even as the plan they went out on a limb to support might be buried.

On the other hand, there are some who argue that the plan may be presented by this strongly pro-Israeli administration precisely because there is no guarantee of another term for Trump, and it is important for people like Greenblatt, Kushner, US Ambassador David Friedman, Vice President Mike Pence, National Security Advisor John Boloton, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to set down a marker on this issue before they leave office.
Who is the longtime Kushner aide set to replace Trump envoy Jason Greeblatt?
Jason Greenblatt’s announcement of his resignation from the Trump administration on Thursday left an opening for a Mideast peace envoy in Jerusalem.

With Israel only 12 days away from its next election, and the White House having said it will unveil its peace plan shortly afterwards, the position was quickly filled by one of the few insiders to the secretive process.

Avi Berkowitz, a longtime ally of Jared Kushner and one of his top assistants in Washington, will assume Greenblatt’s role once the Trump envoy officially steps down in the coming weeks, after the release of the peace proposal, the White House said.

Greenblatt, a former lawyer with the Trump Organization, has been working for the last two and a half years on the administration’s peace plan together with Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior assistant.

The Jewish Berkowitz, 30, has participated in a number of sensitive meetings on the administration’s Israel policy, including talks on the decision to move the US embassy to Jerusalem.

In February, he traveled with Kushner throughout the region, including to Oman, Bahrain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Turkey and Saudi Arabia, in preparation for publication of the administration’s peace plan.

Despite his quick rise in US President Donald Trump’s White House, he is relatively new to politi
Mideast Peace Deal Doesn't Depend on Departing Envoy
U.S. envoy Jason Greenblatt is leaving his post before negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians have even started. One reason peace is not around the corner is that there is no Palestinian leader at the moment with the democratic credibility to negotiate it even if he were so inclined. Mahmoud Abbas, 83, is currently serving the 14th year of a four-year term as president of the Palestinian Authority. Moreover, Gaza remains under the sovereignty of Hamas, which rejects any Jewish state.

Even if Abbas negotiated a deal, there is little reason to believe most Palestinians would accept it. A recent poll by the Aman Coalition for Accountability and Integrity found that 91% of Palestinians said they do not trust the PA. Given that, noted Ghaith al-Omari, a senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, it's difficult to see how its leaders will have the legitimacy to make any concessions.

Privately, U.S. officials understand that there will have to be governance and anti-corruption reform for a future Palestinian state to be viable.
Report: Netanyahu 'Shellshocked' by Obama's Radical Pro-Palestinian Stance in First Meeting
Barack Obama was so radical in his views about Israel that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu emerged shellshocked, ashen faced and traumatized after his first White House meeting with the newly-elected president in May 2009, according to an adviser who was present.

The detail was contained in an extensive New York Times Magazine story titled “The Secret History of the Push to Strike Iran.” The story says it is based on accounts with “dozens of current and former American, Israeli and European officials,” including many top officials cited on the record such as Netanyahu himself.

One section cites Uzi Arad, a former top Netanyahu adviser, describing the scene after Netanyahu emerged from his first private Oval Office meeting with Obama. The section also quotes Netanyahu confirming that Obama “adopted most of the Palestinian narrative.”

The Times reported:
During their first meeting in the White House in May 2009, anxious aides waited outside the Oval Office as the two leaders met alone. It was an interminable meeting, and some may have figured that the savvy, experienced Israeli prime minister was lecturing the young American president about the Palestinians and the hard truths of Israeli security.

But when the door opened, it was Netanyahu who appeared shellshocked, Arad recalls: “Bibi did not say anything, but he looked ashen.” It was hours later when he told aides that Obama had attacked him and implored him — actually demanded him, in Netanyahu’s view — to freeze Israel’s settlements in the West Bank right away, with “not a single brick” added in the future, according to an Israeli official with direct knowledge of the meeting. “Bibi left that place traumatized,” Arad says.

Speaking now, Netanyahu says that “Obama came from another direction, one that adopted most of the Palestinian narrative,” and ruefully cites the “not a single brick” line to argue that the American president was against him from the very beginning. (A former Obama-administration official with knowledge of the White House meeting says that Obama did not in fact use that phrase.)

It is instrumental that the ex-Obama official only denied using the “not a single brick” phrase in relation to Israeli settlements but did not deny that the former president, as Netanyahu put it, “adopted most of the Palestinian narrative.” Nor did the ex-Obama official deny the description of Obama using the meeting to demand a complete halt to all Jewish construction in Judea and Samaria, which houses historic Jewish communities.
Report: Obama Admin Spied on Israeli Military Using American Satellites
The Times reported that Obama saw the JCPOA as the “centerpiece of his foreign-policy legacy.” For Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, however, the newspaper reported that the deal would, according to The Times’ characterization, “be the ultimate betrayal — Israel’s closest ally negotiating behind its back with its most bitter enemy.”

The newspaper reported that in the lead up to the talks, the Obama administration spied on Israeli military movements near Iran.

The Times reported:

Obama took the possibility of a sudden Israeli strike seriously. American spy satellites watched Israeli drones take off from bases in Azerbaijan and fly south over the Iranian border — taking extensive pictures of Iran’s nuclear sites and probing whether Iranian air defenses spotted the intrusion. American military leaders made guesses about whether the Israelis might choose a time of the month when the light was higher or lower, or a time of the year when sandstorms occur more or less regularly. Military planners ran war games to forecast how Tehran might respond to an Israeli strike and how America should respond in return: Would Iran assume that any attack had been blessed by the United States and hit American military forces in the Middle East? The results were dismal: The Israeli strikes dealt only minor setbacks to Iran’s nuclear program, and the United States was enmeshed in yet another war in the Middle East.

This is not the Obama administration’s only alleged surveillance actions concerning the nuclear deal. Another action reportedly spied on American citizens.

In 2015, The Wall Street Journal cited current and former U.S. officials at the time divulging that U.S. surveillance programs captured communications between members of Congress and Israeli leaders, providing intelligence information about Israeli efforts to lobby against the JCPOA.
O’Rourke: Trump Turning Israel Into Partisan Issue
Former Texas representative and 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke said on Wednesday that US President Donald Trump has turned the US-Israel relationship into a partisan issue.

“Certainly the president is trying to [turn Israel into a partisan issue]; I don’t think he’ll be successful in that,” he told Haartez at the LGBTQ synagogue Beit Simchat Torah in Manhattan. “Certainly Prime Minister [Benjamin] Netanyahu has tried to do that [with] the lack of respect that he showed to President [Barack] Obama, the partisan politics in which he’s participated here in the United States.”

“But we don’t have to accept that, and I don’t,” he added.

O’Rourke, who in April called Netanyahu “racist” in response to a campaign pledge to annex parts of Judea and Samaria if he were to win re-election that month, said that “I would do everything I could to work with Prime Minister Netanyahu if he is in power and if I am lucky enough to serve as president, and to support the US-Israel relationship.”

However, he continued, “that is not mutually exclusive to ensuring that the right of self-determination for the Palestinian people is not compromised or undermined or ended all together, functionally and for all practical purposes, as an annexation would do.”
Israel Helps Teach NATO Lawyers How to Combat Lawfare
Who would have thought 19 years ago that Israeli public sector lawyers would be teaching NATO lawyers about how to combat lawfare?

The Jerusalem Post has learned that dating back to March 2018, NATO started to ask Israeli lawyers from the Justice Ministry and the IDF’s international law divisions to assist it with dealing with legal proceedings arising from asymmetric warfare situations.

Israel has unique experience both operationally and in explaining its side of the story in foreign courts in fighting asymmetrical warfare.

In those foreign courts, Israel explains how it often confronts adversaries who systematically use human shields, fight from civilian locations and run roughshod on the laws of war.

Based on this experience, NATO turned to Israel for assistance with some of its own recent lawfare challenges now that it is more often dealing with asymmetrical warfare situations, and this past May, NATO gave awards to some Israeli legal officials involved in the dialogue.
US nixes Security Council statement that fails to condemn Hezbollah
The US on Thursday blocked a UN Security Council statement on tensions between Israel and Hezbollah that did not single out violence by the Lebanese terror group, forcing the text to be scrapped, according to diplomatic sources.

In the first version of the six-point text, seen by AFP, council members expressed “deep concern at the recent incidents” during a flare-up between the sides across the “Blue Line” border.

The draft, drawn up by France, added that “members of the security council condemned all violations of the Blue Line, both by air and ground, and strongly calls upon all parties to respect the cessation of hostilities.”

According to diplomats, Washington blocked the statement twice, calling for Hezbollah to be specifically condemned in the text.

The US said it was impossible for it to back any statement putting Israel’s right to self-determination on an equal footing with Hezbollah, which it considers a terrorist organization, a diplomat explained.

Several other members of the security council objected to the US stance, and the text was eventually abandoned.
A week after Hezbollah attack, is Israel’s home front ready for war?
Both sides claimed victory, and even though the military has removed all restrictions for residents in the North, we are still waiting for one more attack by Hezbollah.

A humiliated Hassan Nasrallah promised that it would happen, warning that the group no longer has redlines following Israel’s strike in Syria and the alleged Israeli drone in their heartland, the Beirut neighborhood of Dahiyeh two weeks ago.

“Remember this day,” he said in a speech on Monday evening. “This is the start of a new phase.”

While the group retaliated for Syria, the Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation International’s news channel reported that Hezbollah warned that “retaliation over drones will be in kind, and will be at its own time and according to its own circumstances.”

Maj.-Gen. (res.) Amos Yadlin, the former head of IDF Military Intelligence, told The Jerusalem Post that while Israel hasn’t taken responsibility for the drone attack in Dahiyeh, if the attack was indeed Israeli then it was a message to the group.

“It was not much more than a signal saying that Israel is serious. You need more than 5 kilos of explosives to destroy this project. The attack was signaling that, unlike the past, the IDF won’t let Hezbollah continue its project,” he said.

Hezbollah’s “precision project is considered in Israel casus belli. Israel hasn’t attacked targets in Lebanon, unlike the hundreds of Iranian and Hezbollah targets in Syria,” Yadlin, who now serves as the head of the Tel Aviv University-affiliated Institute for National Security Studies think tank, explained.
Lebanon's Aoun warns Israel would bear results of any attack
Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said this week that the episode had ended but had launched a "new phase" in which his Shi'ite Muslim movement would target Israeli drones that breach Lebanon's airspace.

The long-time enemies, who last fought a month-long war in 2006, had been on alert after two drones crashed in a Beirut suburb that Hezbollah largely dominates. Nasrallah deemed the Aug. 25 incident an Israeli attack.

Aoun, a political ally of Hezbollah, has likened the crash of the drones, including one that exploded, to a "declaration of war".

"Any attack on Lebanon's sovereignty ... will be met with legitimate self-defence which Israel will bear all the consequences of," Aoun's office cited him as saying on Friday in a meeting with U.N. Special Coordinator for Lebanon Jan Kubis.
2 weeks after surviving terror attack, Israeli teen becomes a medic
An Israeli teen who was wounded in a Palestinian terror attack last month received his EMT (Emergency Medical Technician) certification on Thursday, only days after being released from the hospital.

Dvir Shnerb, 19, was seriously injured in the August 23 attack, which killed his sister, Rina, 17, and injured his father. The family, from Lod, were hiking at the Ein Bubin spring near the West Bank settlement of Dolev, east of Modiin, when an explosive device detonated in their path.

Shnerb received his certification in Tel Aviv from Magen David Adom.

“Today we are finishing a course which we all began for one reason — the desire to save lives,” Dvir said. “We never really think about who our patient is, what their life has been like until now, or what their life will be like after. But this week, I learned that saving lives is not only saving who our patient was, but it’s also saving their future.”

MDA dedicated Shnerb’s training cohort in Rina’s memory.
Avera Mengistu - Five Years in Hamas Captivity
For five years, Israeli citizen Avera Mengistu has been held in Gaza by Hamas terrorists. Hamas has denied Avera, who has a serious mental health condition, access to medical and psychological treatment violating all humanitarian norms. Hamas is also currently holding another Israeli national and the bodies of two Israeli soldiers hostage. The international community must act to free Avera and the other Israeli victims being held captive by Hamas.

PA Wants to Declare Joshua Bin-Nun’s Altar on Mt. Ebal a Palestinian Heritage Site
The municipality of Asira ash-Shamaliya, north of Shechem (Nablus), is probing the possibility of declaring the altar of Joshua Ben-Nun, on Mount Ebal, a Palestinian heritage site.

Engineers from the municipality and Shechem district have recently toured the site, equipped with plans and maps.

The Palestinian Authority’s (PA) Governor of Shechem Ibrahim Ramadan, accompanied by a delegation from the PA’s Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities, took part in a tour of the site in July, claiming the site is “threatened by the occupation and settlers.”

The mayor of Asira ash-Shamaliya Hazzem Yassin stated in an interview with TPS that he is “under no obligation to comment on city plans and certainly not on the site, which the Jews took ownership of, although they have no proof of it being a Jewish site.”

The Book of Joshua describes how Joshua Ben-Nun, the Israelite leader, built an altar on Mount Ebal, acting on instructions from Moses, after the Israelites had crossed into the Land of Israel.
How Despots Interpret Deals with the West
The European Union wants the world to welcome Iran back into the international community because as far as the Europeans are concerned, it appears that the stronger Iran is, the better: a renewed Iran would further Europe's hope of seeing Israel and the Jews wiped off the face of the earth. Heard just a few months ago were calls such as, "send Jews to the ovens," "Hitler didn't finish the job," and "kill the Jews."

The Trump administration has created the impression in the Arab and Muslim world that it is ready to beg the leaders of Iran to engage in direct negotiations with Washington. This approach is exceptionally harmful to US interests: it sends a message to many Arabs and Muslims that Americans are prepared to surrender again and humiliate themselves for the sake of any kind of deal with the Iranians. As Iran's President Hassan Rouhani said last month, America should "bow down" to Iran. Seems it is.

Advice to the Trump administration is: Stay strong. As Osama bin Laden correctly observed, "When people see a strong horse and a weak horse, by nature, they will like the strong horse."

Strength and more strength is the only way to earn the respect of those running the show in Beijing, Kabul, Moscow, Pyongyang, and especially in Tehran, Gaza and Beirut.
US Treasury Warns Anyone Fueling Iran Tankers Risks Being Blacklisted
The US Treasury Department on Thursday warned that anyone around the world who helps fuel Iranian vessels blacklisted by Washington runs the risk of being designated as well.

The Treasury Department blacklisted the Adrian Darya, a tanker at the center of a confrontation between Washington and Tehran, on Aug. 30.

Washington has warned that it would regard any assistance given to the ship as support for a terrorist group, namely, Iran‘s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. The US State Department has also said that any oil delivery to Syria from the tanker “enables the terrorism” of President Bashar al-Assad.

The ship, formerly called Grace 1, was detained by Britain off Gibraltar in July due to British suspicion it was carrying Iranian oil to Syria in violation of European Union sanctions.

In an update to its frequently asked questions, or FAQs, on Iran sanctions on its website, Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, or OFAC, said “the bunkering by non-US persons of an Iranian vessel that has been identified as blocked property of an Iranian person … and the making of related payments for these bunkering services — risk being designated themselves.”
Ben-Dror Yemini: Macron's lifeline to Iran poses great danger to
The French allure to Iran is mainly anti-Israel in nature, because it means that Tehran is given a further green light to establish itself on the northern axis. That means more military bases in Iraq and Syria, more aid for Hezbollah, more funding for Qasem Soleimani – the regime's commander of extraterritorial operations in the Revolutionary Guard.

It has become clear in the last three years that the Iranian leadership couldn't care less about the welfare of their people.

The financial benefits Iran received after the sanctions were lifted were all directed to the development of ballistic missiles and the evil forces of Soleimani and Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah.

The French offer still depends on the approval of the Americans, but the White House is yet to respond, and it is worrying.

Israel should not encourage any form of conflict. The dilemma at hand isn't between conflict and agreement, and it also wasn't the case back in 2015.

The dilemma was, and still is, between an agreement and continued sanctions; the superpowers' demands should also include reducing Iran's regional interference. The Iranian threat will only grow without clear conditions.

Macron's conciliatory behavior threatens not only Israel. It has already added tens of thousands of casualties in the different conflicts in which Iran is involved, including Syria and Yemen.

We must prevent this French kiss of death.
Iranian Moderates vs. Hardliners: A Myth That Won’t Die
When world leaders gathered at the G7 conference in August, the Iranian president Hassan Rouhani mentioned his willingness to meet with his American counterpart. Shortly thereafter, Amir Taheri received a late-night phone call from a contact claiming that, if President Trump would take up the offer, he could hand a major victory to the “moderates”—led by Rouhani—over the “hardliners”—ostensibly led by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. Taheri explains how this unsubstantiated interpretation of Tehran’s politics is as old as the Islamic Republic itself:

Weeks after the mullahs seized power in 1979, the Carter administration identified Mehdi Bazargan, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s first prime minister, as “the man with whom we can work.” After he was kicked out, attention was turned to more ephemeral figures. . . . With Khomeini supposedly too old to last long, these were the men who would shape Iran’s Thermidor, emerging from the reign of terror. Fariba Adelkhah, then a young researcher in Paris, and later an ardent apologist for the Islamic Republic, even wrote a book bearing the title Iranian Thermidor. She is now a hostage in Tehran held by the very men she had so passionately defended in the French media.

Both President George W. Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair told me at different times that they had identified “men with whom we can work” in Tehran and that the key to success was getting rid of Khamenei and his “hardliners.”

Western analysts and their imitators inside Iran missed two crucial points. The first was that, like most revolutionary regimes, the Khomeinists had no mechanism for reform in the direction desired by the Iranian middle classes and the Western powers. Thus, even if its leaders tried to introduce reforms, they would be doomed to failure. . . . The second point Western powers ignore is that Iranians today are divided into two broad camps. . . . One camp consists of those, perhaps even a majority today, who are disillusioned with the Islamic Revolution and seek ways of [bringing it to an end] as soon as possible. . . . In the second camp, we find all those who, for different reasons, are still committed to the Khomeinist revolution.

Turkish NBA Star Recounts Backlash for Speaking Out Against Erdogan
Swiss-born Turkish basketball star, currently of the Boston Celtics, sits down with Tal Heinrich and Eric Landskroner to discuss his latest ambitions on and off the court, as well as the backlash endured for speaking out against his country's leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Nukes Needed to Counter Pesky Journalists, Erdogan Claims (satire)
Claiming that he could not continue to defend his country from aggressive reporting with conventional weapons alone, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan hinted that he may begin developing nuclear arms for his war on the country’s press.

“Every other developed nation in the world has nuclear weapons,” Erdoğan said. “But we are left to battle hostile reporters with guns, knives, chainsaws, choke pears, racks, flamethrowers, iron maidens, and hot pokers.”

While Turkey has become one of the world’s most prolific jailers of journalists, its increasingly powerful president has lamented the difficulty of tracking down, arresting and torturing reporters one at a time. With a nuclear weapon, Erdoğan explained, the government could target hotbeds of journalist activity and take out hundreds or thousands of reporters at once.

“We can’t all deal with the media by just screaming at newspaper owners’ wives,” he noted.
MEMRI: Saudi Journalist: The Hadith Which Instructs Us To Fight Unbelievers Until Islam Is The Religion Of The Entire World Contradicts The Quran And Is Exploited By ISIS, Should Be Removed From The School Curriculum
Saudi Arabia recently published its new school textbooks for the 2019 school year. Following the publication of the books Dr. Suhaila Zain Al-'Abidin Hamad, a researcher of Islam and the daughter of Sheikh Zain Al-'Abidin Hamad (d. 1975), a former imam and preacher at the Prophet's Mosque in Medina, published an article in which she opposed the inclusion in the high school curriculum of a hadith (tradition attributed to the Prophet) which calls for fighting the non-Muslims until they convert to Islam. Writing in the Al-Madina daily, she argued that the hadith is not authentic because it contradicts the Quran, and said that it has been included in the curriculum only because it is quoted in the two most important Sunni collections of hadiths, Sahih Bukhari and Sahih Muslim, which grants it credibility in the eyes of many.

Hamad noted that Muslim jurisprudents have used this hadith to issue fatwas condoning the killing of all non-Muslims, and of Muslims who do not fulfill all the commandments of Islam, and calling to fight them until Islam is the religion of the entire world. Furthermore, she said, the Islamic State (ISIS) has used it and the fatwas based upon it to justify its acts of terror.

The following are translated excerpts from Hamad's article:[1]
"[According to a hadith, the Prophet said:] 'I have been commanded to fight against people until they testify that there is no god but Allah, that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah, and fulfill the obligation of prayer, and pay the zakat; and if they do it, their lives and property are guaranteed my protection on condition that [they conduct themselves] according to the law of Islam, and [on Judgement Day] Allah [will determine] their fate.'

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Elder of Ziyon - حـكـيـم صـهـيـون

This blog may be a labor of love for me, but it takes a lot of effort, time and money. For over 14 years and 30,000 articles I have been providing accurate, original news that would have remained unnoticed. I've written hundreds of scoops and sometimes my reporting ends up making a real difference. I appreciate any donations you can give to keep this blog going.


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