Friday, October 11, 2019

From Ian:

Is Israel past the age of heroic leaders?
In their recent book Be Strong and of Good Courage: How Israel’s Most Important Leaders Shaped Its Destiny, Dennis Ross and David Makovsky—who both have had long careers as Middle East experts inside and outside the U.S. government—analyze the “courageous decisions” made by David Ben-Gurion, Menachem Begin, Yitz?ak Rabin, and Ariel Sharon. Not coincidentally, three of these four decisions involved territorial concessions. Ross and Makovsky use the book’s final chapter to compare their profiles in courage with Benjamin Netanyahu’s cautious approach on the Palestinian front. Calling this an “almost cartoonish juxtaposition,” Haviv Rettig Gur writes:

Netanyahu’s indecision on the Palestinian issue is not shallow. Indeed, it may be what his voters like most about him. The optimism that animated the imaginations of leaders like Rabin and Sharon—who imagined peace with the Palestinians, then unilateral separation and deterrence—is now understood by the vast majority of Israelis to be relegated to a more naïve past. The Oslo process in the 1990s ended in the suicide-bombing waves of the second intifada in 2000, and the Gaza withdrawal of 2005 in the Hamas takeover of the territory in 2007, a result that may yet play itself out on a much larger scale if Israel pulls out of the West Bank.

To most Israelis, the shift from the era of Sharon to the age of Netanyahu does not feel like a country somehow grown less ambitious or innovative—witness other fields of human endeavor in which Israelis continue to shine—but rather like a country that has become wiser and more aware of the limits of optimism.

Netanyahu’s refusal to initiate new peace processes is not just about what his rightist flank will say (though of course that is one pressure he clearly feels). It is also due to the simple fact that he is convinced it will fail. . . . He has shown that he can be decisive, courageous, and as rude as any of his iconic forebears when he believes the times require it, as in his brazen and intensive efforts to torpedo the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.

But there is another message in this book, a subtler critique of present-day Israeli leadership that begins by rejecting the usual run of the debate. Ross and Makovsky challenge the simplistic declamations of past U.S. administrations and countless foreign observers that the occupation is “unsustainable.” The diplomatic costs, they note, instead “remain manageable” for Israel, as do the military and financial burdens of the conflict, if only because Israelis do not see better alternatives. . . . And that’s the key: Israel’s indecision flows not from decline, but from strength.
Dopey doves
“Until 1967, Israel did not hold an inch of the Sinai Peninsula, West Bank, Gaza Strip or Golan Heights...Year after year Israel called for …peace. The answer was a blank refusal and more war”-Yitzhak Rabin, 1976

The most righteous of men cannot live in peace if his evil neighbor will not let him be– from Wilhelm Tell Act IV, scene III, by Friedrich von Schiller, 1804.

It is useless for the sheep to pass resolutions in favor of vegetarianism, while the wolf remains of a different opinion. – R. Inge, Dean of St. Paul’s Cathedral, 1915.

He who comes to kill you, rise up early and kill him first – The Talmud

The Oslo process that resulted in the signature of the “Declaration of Principles” on the White House Lawns on September 13, 1993, was in many ways a point of singularity in the history of Zionism, after which everything was qualitatively different from that which it was before. It was a point of inflection in the time-line of the evolution of Jewish political independence, at which what were once vaunted values became vilified vices.

Metamorphosis: From deterrence to appeasement?
Thus, almost at a stroke, Jewish settlement and attachment to land, once the essence of the Zionist ethos, were branded as the epitome of egregious extremism. Jewish military might, once exalted as a symbol of national resurgence and self-reliance, was excoriated as the instrument of repression and subjugation.

This metamorphosis is decidedly perplexing. After all, even by the early1990s, Zionism had proved to be one of the most successful—arguably, the most successful—movement of national liberation that arose from the dissolution of the great Empires—providing political independence, economic prosperity and personal liberties to a degree unrivalled by other such movements.

The U.S. Alliance with Israel Cannot Be Sacrificed to Ideological Purity
Israel is a regional power that has existed for 70 years in a very dangerous neighborhood. If it cannot survive, it cannot sustain its founding principles, including democracy, toleration, and respect for minority rights. The greatest danger a nation can face is political delusion on the part of its elites. An unwillingness to face geopolitical realities jeopardizes a nation's interest and survival.

Great powers like America can rely on their latent strength to mitigate misperception's consequences. For small states, however, politics is existential - political death is a persistent possibility. Small states survive by anticipating, rather than reacting to, international events. The Jewish State in particular feels the existential edge of political competition, having faced annihilation from its inception.

America's partnership with Israel has improved U.S. defense technology and generated invaluable intelligence. American military assistance to Israel has given the U.S. exclusive access to Israeli military technology. Israel is a test-bed for frontline American military technology and tactics, particularly given similarities between the U.S. and Israeli air forces. Israel's Mossad intelligence agency has worked with the CIA since the early Cold War. Israel has been instrumental in slowing Iran's nuclear program.
Pro-Israel stalwart Nita Lowey won’t seek re-election to Congress
US Representative Nita Lowey, a pro-Israel stalwart and one of the most influential Jewish lawmakers, said she will not run for re-election to Congress next year.

In her announcement Thursday, Lowey, a 82-year-old Democrat from New York, noted that she was the first woman to chair the House Appropriations Committee, the lower chamber’s most powerful committee, and included among her accomplishments upholding the US-Israel relationship.

“As the Chairwoman of the Appropriations subcommittee that writes the foreign aid bill, I have advanced record funding for women’s health and basic education — especially for girls — around the world, a strong US-Israel relationship with bipartisan support, and other investments that support American interests abroad,” Lowey said.

Through her close working relationship with Republican Representative Kay Granger of Texas, the Appropriations Committee ranking member, Lowey led resistance to Trump administration cutbacks in foreign assistance, which both women saw as critical to America’s defense. Both women are perennial guests at annual conferences of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.
Gen. Amidror: U.S. Pullout in Syria Will Not Change Much for Israel
In the wake of the U.S. withdrawal from northeast Syria, former Israeli national security adviser Maj.-Gen. (res.) Yaakov Amidror believes not much will change, in practical terms, for Israel's security. "I don't think Israel needs to be worried," he said in an interview Thursday.

"There are regional groups like the Kurds that need the U.S. to protect them. Israel, when it was founded, made the decision that it shall never depend on anyone for its security."

This is not always easy to implement; it requires a universal draft and enormous financial resources, noted Amidror. On the other hand, it puts Israel in a different league than many European states, Saudi Arabia, and the Kurds, who all depend on America for their safety.

"We understand that the Middle East from now on will [have to manage] without influence, or with less influence, from the Americans." The U.S. will continue to exert economic pressure on Iran, he stressed.

"According to foreign reports, we struck in Syria more than 200 times. The U.S. didn't strike the Iranians even once. Therefore, it's on us, not on them. The job of fighting the Iranians and their influence was always done by us. Our ability to continue to do that will not be limited once the Americans are out."

"We dealt with the Iranian aggression until now without the Americans, when they still were in the Middle East. We were alone in this 'war between wars,' as we call it. The fact that they are pulling out does not mean any significant change. It's more about psychology."
Caroline B. Glick: Trump did not betray the Kurds
Here it is critical to note that Trump did not remove US forces from Syria. They are still deployed along the border crossing between Jordan, Iraq, and Syria to block Iran from moving forces and materiel to Syria and Lebanon. They are still blocking Russian and Syrian forces from taking over the oil fields along the eastern bank of the Euphrates. Aside from defeating ISIS, these missions are the principle strategic achievements of the US forces in Syria. For now, they are being maintained. Will Turkey’s invasion enable ISIS to reassert itself in Syria and beyond? Perhaps. But here too, as Trump made clear this week, it is not America’s job to serve as the permanent jailor of ISIS. European forces are just as capable of serving as guards as Americans are. America’s role is not to stay in Syria forever. It is to beat down threats to US and world security as they emerge and then let others – Turks, Kurds, Europeans, Russians, UN peacekeepers – maintain the new, safer status quo.

The final assumption of the narrative regarding Trump’s moves in Syria is that by moving its forces away from the border ahead of the Turkish invasion, Trump harmed regional stability and America’s reputation as a trustworthy ally.

On the latter issue, Trump has spent the better part of his term in office rebuilding America’s credibility as an ally after Obama effectively abandoned the Sunnis and Israel in favor of Iran. To the extent that Trump has harmed US credibility, he didn’t do it in Syria this week by rejecting war with Turkey. He did it last month by failing to retaliate militarily against Iran’s brazen military attack on Saudi Arabia’s oil installations. Whereas the US has no commitment to protect the Kurds, the US’s central commitment in the Middle East for the past 70 years has been the protection of Saudi oil installations and maintaining the safety of maritime routes in and around the Persian Gulf.

The best move Trump can make now in light of the fake narrative of his treachery toward the Kurds is to finally retaliate against Iran. A well-conceived and limited US strike against Iranian missile and drone installations would restore America’s posture as the dominant power in the Persian Gulf and prevent the further destabilization of the Saudi regime and the backsliding of the UAE toward Iran.

As for Syria, it is impossible to know what the future holds for the Kurds, the Turks, the Iranians, Assad, or anyone else. But what is clear enough is that Trump avoided war with Turkey this week. And he began extracting America from an open-ended commitment to the Kurds it never made and never intended to fulfill.
Andrew C. McCarthy: Turkey and the Kurds: It’s More Complicated Than You Think
Those of us opposed to intervention in Syria wanted Congress to think through these quite predictable outcomes before authorizing any further U.S. military involvement in this wretched region. Congress, however, much prefers to lay low in the tall grass, wait for presidents to act, and then complain when things go awry.

And so they have: The easily foreseeable conflict between Turkey and the Kurds is at hand. We are supposed to see the problem as Trump’s abandoning of U.S. commitments. But why did we make commitments to the Kurds that undermined preexisting commitments to Turkey? The debate is strictly framed as “How can we leave the Kurds to the tender mercies of the Turks?” No one is supposed to ask “What did we expect would happen when we backed a militant organization that is tightly linked to U.S.-designated terrorists and that is the bitter enemy of a NATO ally we knew would not abide its presence on the ally’s border?” No one is supposed to ask “What is the end game here? Are we endorsing the partition of Syria? Did we see a Kurdish autonomous zone as the next Kosovo?” (We might remember that recognition of Kosovo’s split from Serbia, over Russian objections, was exploited by the Kremlin as a rationale for promoting separatism and annexations in Georgia and Ukraine.)

It is true, as the editors observe, that “there are no easy answers in Syria.” That is no excuse for offering an answer that makes no sense: “The United States should have an exit strategy, but one that neither squanders our tactical gains against ISIS nor exposes our allies to unacceptable retribution.” Put aside that our arming of the Kurds has already exposed our allies in Turkey to unacceptable risk. What the editorial poses is not an “exit strategy” but its opposite. In effect, it would keep U.S. forces in Syria interminably, permanently interposed between the Kurds and the Turks. The untidy questions of how that would be justifiable legally or politically go unaddressed.

President Trump, by contrast, has an exit strategy, which is to exit. He promises to cripple Turkey economically if the Kurds are harmed. If early reports of Turkey’s military assault are accurate, the president will soon be put to the test. I hope he is up to it. For a change, he should have strong support from Congress, which is threatening heavy sanctions if Turkey routs the Kurds.

Americans, however, are not of a mind to do more than that. We are grateful for what the Kurds did in our mutual interest against ISIS. We should try to help them, but no one wants to risk war with Turkey over them. The American people’s representatives never endorsed combat operations in Syria, and the president is right that the public wants out. Of course we must prioritize the denial of safe havens from which jihadists can attack American interests. We have to stop pretending, though, that if our intentions toward this neighborhood are pure, its brutal history, enduring hostilities, and significant downside risks can be ignored.
Melanie Phillips: How black and white thinking clouds realpolitik
The irony is that his isolationism is mirrored among his foes on the left. They oppose wars against America’s enemies because they tend to support those enemies. Trump opposes any foreign wars, period.

The Democrats have nevertheless piled in with the Republicans against this betrayal of the Kurds. Of course, the fate of the Kurds is a wonderful new stick with which to beat the president, and attacking Trump remains the only show in town for Democrats.

His outrageous treatment at their hands is due to the fact that he is the only man ever to have presented a roadblock to the left’s anti-West, anti-white and anti-Israel agenda, and his success in mobilizing millions who want America to be “great” again has driven the Democrats totally nuts.

But because Trump has been the genuine victim of an attempted coup to remove him—on account of his high crime and misdemeanor of having been elected president in the first place—that doesn’t mean everything he does is right.

The onslaught against the president, plus his support of Israel, has made many Jews who are not on the left into his passionate partisans, locked in verbal battles not just with Democrats but also with Republican “never-Trumpers,” whose attacks on the president have been scarcely less unhinged.

This has blinkered these Trump partisans to his faults. Filtering judgment through such a prism, instead of assessing his every action on its merits and with an open mind, is alarming.
US troop withdrawal from northern Syria affects all US allies in region
Sherkoh Abbas, president of the Kurdistan National Assembly of Syria, concurs that all US allies in the Middle East have good reason to be concerned right now, noting that Trump’s recent decision will lead to the strengthening of both ISIS and Iran in the Middle East: “This is a threat to Israel and the Kurds. It is a threat to Europe. It is essential to stop [Turkish President Recep Tayyip] Erdoğan for the stability of the Middle East. Trump should be accountable to the international community if any terror attacks occur because of this. Kurdistan was not a state during World War II [referring to Trump's complaint that the Kurds "didn't help us in the Second World War, they didn't help us with Normandy"]. The Kurds have helped the US many times and we now are being screwed by the Americans.”

UN goodwill ambassador and Yezidi genocide survivor Nadia Murad said, “Abandoning the Kurds is both shameful and dangerous. Civilian lives have already been lost and as the fighting escalates, women and children will suffer the most. This will lead to more displacement and more suffering. This act of aggression will lead to a reassurance of ISIS and other radical groups and a further destabilization of the region. Religious minorities in Syria and Iraq will once again be under the threat of radical groups. If the frontline against ISIS is destroyed, ISIS prisoners who committed genocide and enslaved women are likely to get away without facing prosecution for their crimes. The international community has a moral responsibility to stabilize the region. President Trump’s decision to tacitly support Turkey will have grave consequences.”

If the Kurds lose their enclave in Syria, the "Shia crescent" from Iran to the Mediterranean Sea will be expanded and reinforced. The SDF will likely have to turn to the Assad regime for assistance in halting Turkey’s aggression since it can no longer rely on the US.

In response to the move, Iraqi Kurdistan’s Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani has reached out to Russia. Feeling that he can no longer rely on the US, he seeks Russian President Vladimir Putin's friendship and assistance. He saw how America responded to Kurdistan’s independence referendum of 2017. The change in US policy also weakens the pro-democracy protesters in Iraq. With Iran gaining ground in other areas of the region, the Iraqi protesters are more isolated. Additionally, Trump's move advances Erdoğan's goal of resurrecting the Ottoman Empire.

Finally, Israel’s security situation will be aggravated as our adversaries are strengthened at the expense of a significant regional ally, the Kurds.
Netanyahu Promises Aid To Kurds. Miss Iraq: That’s Why I Stand With Israel
On Thursday, Sarai Idan, who was Miss Iraq, lauded Israel for its commitment to help the Kurdish people in the face of what Turkish dictator Recip Erdogan’s brutal assault on them. Israeli prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tweeted Thursday morning, “Israel strongly condemns the Turkish invasion of the Kurdish areas in Syria and warns against the ethnic cleansing of the Kurds by Turkey and its proxies. Israel is prepared to extend humanitarian assistance to the gallant Kurdish people.”

Idan commented, “And people wonder why I stand with Israel … heard many countries say ‘They condemn’ but not a single one said they will extend assistance to #Kurds.”

As The Daily Wire reported in December 2017, at the Miss International Beauty Pageant, Idan posed for photos with Miss Israel, Adar Gandelsman, for their respective Instagram accounts. Idan’s caption read: “Peace and Love from Miss Iraq and Miss Israel.” Gandelsman wroteon her Instagram post, “Get to know, this is Miss Iraq and she’s amazing.” She added on Facebook, “Practicing bringing world peace.”

The backlash from parts of the Muslim world targeting Idan, 27, was so fierce that she posted a defense on Istagram, writing in Arabic on Instagram, “I want to stress that the purpose of the picture was only to express hope and desire for peace between the two countries,” but adding that the photo did not indicate support for the Israeli government and offering an apology if the photo was harmful to the Palestinian cause.

MEMRI: Syrian Journalist: The West, Led By U.S., Knows Erdogan Has Been Supporting ISIS For Years, Yet Chooses To Ignore This
In an article titled "Erdogan's Terror, Which the West Ignores" in the London-based daily Al-Arab, 'Ali Qassem, a Syrian journalist residing in Tunisia, castigated the West for its stance towards Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. He argued that the West, led by the U.S., knows that Erdogan has been directly and personally supporting ISIS and other terror organizations for years, yet chooses to ignore this fact and the extensive evidence that proves it. He also called out Erdogan for his hypocrisy, noting that he condemns the "terror" and "terrorists," meaning the Kurds who fight ISIS, while he himself has been sheltering ISIS, enabling its activity and providing it with resources and financial support since 2012. When it comes to spreading lies, said Qassem, Erdogan is "a faithful disciple of Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels" because he just "keeps lying, in hope that people will believe him even though the lie is obvious."

The following are translated excerpts from his article:[1]
"When Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks about terror, what terror is he referring to? The terrorists he speaks about, are they the terrorists of ISIS and Al-Qaeda, or does he consider ISIS and Al-Qaeda to be saints? Erdogan says that whoever arms the terrorists... is party to [their] crimes and bears [responsibility] for the sin of shedding Muslim blood. That is what he stressed in his meeting with representatives of the Turkish diaspora and with [other] Muslims in New York, when he came there to attend the UN General Assembly. [But] the terrorists he hinted at, are they [actually] the people who are fighting ISIS, Al-Qaeda and the other jihadi groups [i.e., the Kurds]?

"Erdogan, who personally helped ignite flames inside Syria, [and] who opened the Turkish borders to masses of refugees and then threatened to expel them from Turkey in order to pressure and blackmail Europe... is [now] wondering how it is possible to remain silent in the face of the Islamophobia, antisemitism and growing antagonism to immigrants and foreigners that prevail in the West. Anyone listening to Erdogan... might think he is Mother Theresa, rather than a dictator who is determined to fill Turkey's prisons with journalists and oppositionists...

"The West, and especially the U.S., are well aware that Erdogan has been sheltering ISIS and proving it with financial assistance and [other] means since 2012. On orders from Turkish intelligence, Turkish customs officers help this organization's fighters cross the border to Syria and Iraq in droves...
MEMRI: Dear Mr. President: You Are Unable To Destroy The Turkish Economy, As You Warned – Because Your Bogus Ally Qatar Will Save Turkey Yet Again From Your Sanctions
In view of President Trump's warning to Turkey that if it "does anything" that he "consider[s] to be off limits" he will "totally destroy and obliterate the Economy of Turkey," it is worth considering the analysis below which explains why the president is, in fact, unable to do this.

The following is the analysis published by MEMRI on January 15, 2019,[2] at the time of the previous U.S.-Turkey crisis:

There have been inexplicable phenomena in the Middle East for some years now. Any attempt to explain them logically comes up against a dead end, and gives way to conspiracy theories. How can one logically explain both Israel's and the U.S.'s prostration to Qatar? Theories range from the conspiratorial, such as Qatari infiltration of the two governments, to the seemingly implausible assumption that these governments and their agencies are simply naïfs, fools, and ignoramuses (pick one or more).

Let us list some examples: The U.S. is the only country that surpasses Israel in groveling to Qatar, despite the latter's unending anti-U.S. incitement, particularly against the current U.S. administration. As far as the Al-Jazeera TV channel, owned by the Qatari emir, is concerned, the Democrats are the only legitimate party in the U.S., and the few Republicans worthy of coverage are Sen. Rand Paul – presented as a political heavyweight – and former senator Bob Corker, whose decision to not seek reelection in 2018 was concealed from the viewers as if it were a trifle.

For years, the U.S. has felt indebted to Qatar for hosting the Al-Udeid airbase and CENTCOM headquarters. Pentagon chiefs and American political leaders come and go, and no one remembers that it is Qatar that is indebted to the U.S. for maintaining the base. Qatar originally built it, at a cost of $2 billion, to guarantee an American presence there, since without this presence the Qatari regime would have been devoured long ago. Today, faced with the threat of a Saudi or Emirati offer to the U.S. outdoing Qatar, Qatar is buying Pentagon goodwill by building an entire city to host the American servicemen's dependents, and is expanding Al-Udeid. But this deal, that assures Qatar's survival, has exacted a heavy price from the U.S. American fighter bombers are engaged in the Sisyphean task of setting out from Al-Udeid to strike at Islamic terrorists who were nurtured by Qatari propaganda – propaganda that cultivates a new crop of jihadis for the Americans to bomb – and the cycle continues.
Qatar must stop supporting terrorism
Statement by United Nations Watch, delivered by intern Avraham Spraragen before the 42nd session of the United Nations Human Rights Council, September 2019. Agenda Item 6, Universal Periodic Review of Qatar.

4 stabbed in Manchester mall attack; counter-terror police investigating
Counter-terror police were on Friday probing a mass stabbing at a shopping center in northwest England that left several people injured and needing hospital treatment.

The attack happened at the Arndale shopping centre in the heart of Manchester, the city where an Islamist extremist suicide bomber killed 22 after an Ariana Grande concert in 2017.

A man in his 40s was arrested on suspicion of serious assault.

Footage posted online appeared to show one police officer restraining the suspect on the floor as another stands over him pointing a Taser.

A shop worker who gave his name only as Jordan, 23, told Britain’s domestic Press Association news agency that “a man was running around with a knife lunging at multiple people, one of which came into my store visibly shaken with a small graze”.

Greater Manchester Police and North West Ambulance Service said four people were injured during the incident, revising downwards an initial toll of five.
Indonesian Security Minister Stabbed by ISIS Radical
A man wielding a knife attacked Indonesia's chief security minister Wiranto on Thursday (Oct 10) during his visit to a town on the island of Java, injuring the minister and three others.

Television footage showed the minister slumped to the ground beside his car after the attack in Pandeglang, in Banten province. Security officers were seen wrestling a man and a woman to the ground.

"Someone approached and attacked him," said national police spokesman Dedi Prasetyo, adding that the couple have been arrested.

The two suspects belong to the Islamic State-linked terror network Jamaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD), said State Intelligence Agency chief Budi Gunawan.

"We have been able to identify the perpetrators as JAD members," he told reporters in Jakarta.

JAD is among dozens of radical groups that have pledged loyalty to the Islamic State group in Indonesia.
Russia jails Israeli-American for 7.5 years for smuggling pot, despite PM’s plea
An Israeli-American woman was sentenced to seven-and-a-half years in prison by a Russian court on Friday for alleged drug smuggling, despite a “personal” plea to President Vladimir Putin for leniency from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The Foreign Ministry condemned the sentence for Naama Issachar, 26, who has been detained in Moscow for the last six months on suspicion of drug smuggling after a reported 10 grams of marijuana was found in her bag during a stopover in Russia for a connecting flight.

“This is a disproportionately heavy punishment for a young Israeli woman without any criminal past who was on a connecting flight at the airport in Moscow on her way to Israel,” the ministry said in a statement.

“Unfortunately, the Russian authorities have not responded to our entreaties to deal with this case in congruence with the circumstances of her arrest,” it added.

Issachar, who also has dual Israeli-American citizenship, was returning from a trip to India in April and stopped over in Moscow airport to catch a connecting flight to Tel Aviv. As her backpack was moving along a conveyor belt a police sniffer dog identified it as suspicious. Authorities searched the bag and found the marijuana wrapped in plastic, concealed inside a toiletries bag.
IDF prepares to raze home of terrorist behind Dolev bombing
IDF forces were mapping the home of one of the terrorists behind the bombing at Danny Spring near the Samaria settlement of Dolev on Aug. 23 that killed Rina Shnerb, 17, in preparation to raze the premises.

Shnerb's father and brother were seriously wounded in the attack.

The home belongs to Yazen Hassin Hasni and is located in the Jams neighborhood of Bir Zeit, north of Ramallah.

Hasni, 25, is an active member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and lives in Ramallah. He has been arrested for involvement in terrorist activity and was part of the planning and execution of the bombing at Danny Spring.

Three other members of the terrorist cell behind the attack were arrested last month. The head of the cell, Samer Mina Salim Arbid, was hospitalized in serious condition during his interrogation.

All the terrorists hail from the Ramallah area and are active in the PFLP.
UNRWA under scrutiny
UNRWA’s mandate from the General Assembly, which comes up for renewal every three years, was renewed during the session of the UN General Assembly that came to end on September 30, 2019. Nothing has emerged in the media to suggest that Guterres’ investigation into the ethics report came up in the discussions.

Speaking during the 42nd session of the UN Human Rights Council on September 23, 2019, former UNRWA general counsel James Lindsay declared that the agency’s major structural problem is its unique definition of who qualifies as a refugee. This differs fundamentally from the definition used by the UNHCR, which is responsible for all other refugees around the world. By not demanding that UNRWA adopt this definition,” says Lindsay, “the General Assembly has elevated politics over morality.”

Also speaking on September 23, former Knesset member Einat Wilf said that the Palestinians had “hijacked” UNRWA after refusing to accept the outcome of the 1948 war that led to the creation of the State of Israel. “In their mind,” she said, “the State of Israel is temporary. If they view Israel as temporary, they will never sign an agreement that will bring peace. They will wait it out.”

All in all, the Palestinian refugee story is one of heartless exploitation of Arabs by Arabs – the callous manipulation of powerless victims for political ends, with little regard for their welfare or human rights. Whatever the result of the inquiry into the UNRWA ethics report, this inhumanity must be brought out into the open, the UNRWA farce of “refugee status” in perpetuity must be ended, and steps must be taken to allow people and their families who may have lived in a country for 50 years or more to settle and become full citizens.
After 18 months of conflict, some Gazans dare to question Hamas border protests
Ahmed Abu Artima was one of the founders of the “Great March of Return,” the weekly protests along Gaza’s frontier with Israel meant to draw attention to the plight of the territory’s two million people. But these days, he mostly avoids the demonstrations.

He is among a growing number of Gazans who believe the protests have lost their way. With little to show from 18 months of demonstrations and border riots beyond the hundreds of people killed or wounded by Israeli fire, many Gazans are beginning to question and even criticize the Hamas-led protests, a rarity in a territory where dissent is barely tolerated by the Gaza rulers.

For several months now, Abu Artima has organized his own alternative protest. On a recent Wednesday, dozens of Palestinians gathered near the fence between Israel and Gaza, performing traditional dances and ballads between poem recitals and speeches by local community leaders. Children gathered around two camels decorated with embroidered saddles.

Abu Artima’s eyes sparkled as he watched. This is the kind of demonstration he envisioned when he and other young grassroots activists came up with the idea of building mass encampments along the fortified frontier. He calls it a protest that “tries to deliver our message as safely as possible.”

Held every two weeks, these events are in dramatic contrast to the main Friday protests.

Stalin Had Gulags, Turkey Has Courts
[Canan] Kaftancioglu [now under arrest for old tweets] came to prominence only after her critical role in defeating Erdogan's Justice and Development Party (AKP) in Istanbul's municipal elections on March 31 and June 23, ending Islamist rule in Turkey's biggest city after 25 years.

On September 20, a Turkish court held its first hearing of a case against two Bloomberg reporters accused of "trying to undermine Turkey's economic stability.".... "They've been indicted for accurately and objectively reporting on highly newsworthy events," said Bloomberg Editor-in-Chief John Micklethwait.

Thirty-six other defendants, including prominent economist Mustafa Sönmez and journalist Sedef Kabas, are also on trial for their social media comments on Turkey's economy and banks.

In May, Erdogan said that Turkey was still committed to full membership in the European Union. He must have forgotten that, among hundreds of other hair-raising democratic deficits, he is the president of a country that has banned more than 245,000 websites and domains.
Iran’s Zarif: Either All Gulf States Have Security, or All Will Be Deprived of It
Either all Gulf countries enjoy security, “or they will all be deprived of it,” Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Thursday in an opinion piece in the Kuwaiti Al Rai newspaper.

Saudi Arabia, which is locked in several proxy wars in the region with arch foe Iran, has blamed Tehran for attacks on Saudi oil plants on Sept. 14, a charge Iran denies. The kingdom has said it prefers that its differences with Iran are resolved politically rather than militarily.

Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthi movement had claimed responsibility for the assault on Saudi oil facilities, but Saudi Arabia rejected that claim.

The United States and Saudi Arabia have also blamed Iran for attacks against six oil tankers in May and June, which Tehran also denied.

In the opinion piece, Zarif said the Gulf can be secured through dialogue among the countries of the region, including Saudi Arabia, and without the interference of foreign powers, the official IRNA news agency reported.
MEMRI: Despite The JCPOA, Iran Accelerates Its Nuclear Research And Development – While The U.S., After Leaving The JCPOA, In Fact Preserves It With Waivers For Member Countries Allowing Them To Help Iran Continue Civilian Nuclear Development
Although since President Trump's May 2018 announcement on the matter, the U.S. is regarded as having withdrawn from the JCPOA nuclear deal,[1] it in effect remains in the agreement because it continues to provide significant waivers to the U.S. sanctions for the rest of the countries in the JCOPA to help Iran develop its nuclear program. That is, the U.S. is preserving the civilian nuclear cooperation with Iran by the JCPOA members, allowing Europe, Russia, and China to continue to uphold the agreement (see July 2019 statements on this matter by former U.S. national security advisor John Bolton).[2]

It is Iran that is withdrawing from the JCPOA, emptying it of meaning by unilaterally cancelling the agreement's technical restrictions on its activity. For example, on September 4, 2019, Iran announced its third step in withdrawing from its obligations under the agreement; the two previous steps included increasing its enriched uranium inventory beyond the 300 kg permitted in the agreement, and enriching uranium to above the permitted 3.67%.

However, Iran is carefully preserving the framework of the JCPOA, even stating that it is doing so in order to preserve international recognition of it as a nuclear state and as a state entitled to enrich uranium. Iran will never announce that it is withdrawing from the JCPOA because it has no intention of relinquishing this recognition – since the Iranian regime's first and most important strategic and political aim in pursuing the JCPOA was to achieve it.[3]

In recent weeks, senior Iranian spokesmen have announced that Iran is further abandoning its obligations under the JCPOA. First and foremost, Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei stressed, on October 2, 2019, that Iran would continue to cut back on its JCPOA obligations "until we attain the required result." Earlier, on September 4, Iranian President Hassan Rohani announced Iran's third step, namely, Iran's cancellation of the timetable to which it had committed under the agreement and its resumption and acceleration of its research and development free of all restrictions. A few days later, on September 7, Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) spokesman Behrouz Kamalvandi clarified the nature of this third step, explaining that Iran was in effect erasing the years-long restriction on its development of advanced centrifuges, and that it was now continuing its nuclear development program – ostensibly permitted by the JCPOA – without it being recognized as a violation of the JCPOA.

Following that, at a October 7 press conference, AEOI director Ali Akbar Salehi said that these steps by Iran were being undertaken as part of its cutbacks on its obligations under the JCPOA. He explained that Iran was accelerating its nuclear research and development, its uranium enrichment, and its activity at the Arak reactor.
Iran oil tanker hit by two missiles off Saudi coast
An explosion set ablaze an Iranian oil tanker off the Saudi port city of Jeddah, Iranian state media reported on Friday, adding that experts suspected it was a "terrorist attack."

Iran's foreign ministry confirmed that the Iranian-owned oil tanker Sabiti had been attacked in the Red Sea on Friday and was samaged, state TV reported.

"Those behind the attack are responsible for the consequences of this dangerous adventure, including the dangerous environmental pollution caused," Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi told state TV.

The oil leak, caused by the attack on the tanker is now under control.

The Sabiti tanker suffered heavy damage and was leaking crude about 60 miles (96 km) from Jeddah port, Iranian media had reported.
Iranian women attend FIFA soccer game for first time in decades
They had to sit well apart from the men, and the stadium was practically empty, but thousands of Iranian women in merry jester hats and face paint blew horns and cheered Thursday at the first FIFA soccer match they were allowed to freely attend in decades.

In what many considered a victory in a decadeslong fight by women in Iran to attend sporting events, they wrapped themselves in the country's vibrant red, green and white colors and watched with excitement as Iran thrashed Cambodia 14-0 in a 2022 World Cup qualifier at Tehran's Azadi, or Freedom, Stadium.

"We are so happy that finally we got the chance to go to the stadium. It's an extraordinary feeling," said Zahra Pashaei, a 29-year-old nurse who has only known soccer games from television. "At least for me, 22 or 23 years of longing and regret lies behind this."

As one woman shouted from a passing minibus before the match: "We are here finally!"

So far, Iran's hard-line Islamic theocracy is not willing to go as far as some women would like. Authorities announced they will allow women to attend only international soccer matches.

Women have been banned from many sporting events in Iran since 1981, during the early years of the country's Islamic Revolution. Iran is the world's last nation to bar women from soccer matches. Saudi Arabia recently began letting women see games.

Under pressure from FIFA, Iran let a carefully controlled number of women into the stadium, allocating them 4,000 tickets in a venue that seats about 80,000 people and arranged for 150 female security personnel in black chadors to watch them. They sat at least 200 meters (218 yards) from the few thousand men at the match.

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