Wednesday, December 18, 2019

From Ian:

Word of the Week: 'Nation'
When Romantic-era nationalism came about, it got termed that because it was the idea that a people should determine its own government and life, and “nation” is a word for people. All kinds of nations decided that they didn’t like being a population within countries that were large, multinational empires and that they wanted to separate off and form their own nation-states — countries populated largely by one people. We use “nation” sloppily to mean “sovereign country” or “state” now because following the rise of nationalism, the nation-state became the sort of default idea of a country in our heads. Why is the term “nation-state” not redundant? Because a state is a politically sovereign area, and a nation is a group of human beings with some shared, binding history, culture, language ... whatever, so long as they understand themselves to be a people and/or are understood by others to comprise one.

Poles are a nation, and they wouldn’t stop being one if Poland stopped being an existing sovereign country (this thesis has been rather repeatedly and dramatically stress-tested). Greeks are a nation, Greece is a country. Armenians, like Jews, were in the 19th and early 20th centuries not a majority in any area, so the ethnic violence surrounding nationalism didn’t turn out very well for them during the period of the breakdown of the great empires. The Armenian people were nearly destroyed in a genocide during a world war and only after that was given the area that is now the sovereign country of Armenia with its capital in Yerevan. The idea was that having a nation-state is a matter of survival for a people.

In this sense, neither Jewry nor Israel is unique or special at all, except in being late to a party that most other nations occupying the former great Imperial Zone of Europe threw in the previous century. Only in 1948, after the same sort of thing happened to Jews that happened to Armenians, did they succeed in the nationalist project to get a state, Israel, for the previously existing people, Jews. That’s why the obsession with Israel and Palestine seems like a matter of Jew-hatred to people who understand this history and these words: It’s one piece of a historical process involving dozens of basically identical situations, and the Jewish one is what gets all the condemnatory United Nations resolutions and ranting by Noam Chomsky.

So, Trump’s executive order on Jews as a nation only affirms the idea of Jewish peoplehood that is, first, totally coherent within the ordinary framework of how we understand nations, and second, only doing about Jews what Title VI already does for other demographic categories. Suddenly a lot of people don't like the constitutional implications of applying the Civil Rights Act the day it extends to Jews? Well, that seems odd. Debate the policy all you like, but this is not the Wannsee Conference, and everybody pretending it is has revealed that they do not understand the very elementary issues here and should read more and seethe less.

Ambassador Ron Dermer: 'Jews are both a people and a faith'
Israeli Ambassador to the US Ron Dermer has thanked US President Donald Trump for signing an executive order to fight antisemitism on college campuses.

"Last week, President Trump used his executive authority to confront Jew-hatred on college campuses, which have become ground zero in the shameful attempt to defame and demonize the Jewish state and where many Jews feel unsafe to express their identity," Dermer said on Tuesday during a candle lighting event ahead of Hanukkah at the embassy of Israel in Washington.

"I found it interesting that when President Trump made that decision, a debate broke out on social media about whether Jews are a people or merely a faith," he added.

"For over a century, anti-Zionists, both Jewish and non-Jewish, have sought to deny that Jews are a people. Anti-Zionist Jews have denied that Jews are people out of a genuine fear that non-Jews would persecute them for being part of a separate nation," he continued.

“Anti-Zionist non-Jews have denied that Jews are a people in order to deny the Jewish people the right of self-determination that all peoples enjoy. Either way, regardless of what one's motives are and what nonsense goes on in the Twitter-sphere, the fact is that the Jews are both people and a faith,” he remarked.
Islam's Reformation: An Arab-Israeli Alliance Is Taking Shape in the Middle East
A new narrative is emerging in the Middle East. The anti-Semitic craze to destroy Israel was powerful in the 1960s, but now, Sunni Arab neighbors are changing course. Islamist leaders are losing their appeal - at a time when Iran, with its brand of theological fascism, poses a threat to Israel and the Arab world alike.

Polls show that the percentage of Arabs expressing trust in Islamist parties has fallen by well over a third since the uprisings of 2011. The number of young people who say they're "not religious" is also on the rise. This generation wants Arab leaders to increase economic prosperity, minimize political conflicts, and build alliances, including with Israel.

I regularly meet Egyptians and others who desperately want to normalize relations with Israel and they offer three reasons. First, the events of the Arab Spring exposed the fanaticism of the Muslim Brotherhood and other related Islamists, with the hardliners now being viewed as a threat to both Islam as a faith and Muslims as a people.

Second, the need to stand firm against Iran is becoming a cause that unites Israel with Sunni Arabs and anti-Tehran Shiite Muslims in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. The mullahs in Tehran support Hizbullah, which is dedicated to destroying Israel, but they also meddle in Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Lebanon, Syria and Yemen.

Finally, and most intriguingly, Israel is being seen by moderate Arab governments as a trade and security partner as the West sends mixed signals. As one Arab prince said recently at a private meeting: "Who else will fly in joint missions against Iranian targets with us?"
For 70 years the Arab world was driven by an anti-Semitic ideological craze to wipe out Israel. But before that came a far-longer history of coexistence and respect. The people of Israel are honored repeatedly in the Quran, which confirms that Jews have every right to settle in and around Jerusalem. It was Omar, a friend of the prophet, who invited Jews back into Jerusalem in 637 after five centuries of being banished by the Romans.

Ruthie Blum: Pompeo brings down the House
For his fourth and final one-two punch, Pompeo accused Kerry of having "saddled the Trump administration with a significant handicap in advancing the cause of peace by erroneously injecting into the conflict an incorrect and largely irrelevant legal component. This, in turn, has led to the hardening of positions, especially on the Palestinian side. By way of example, the closing of the Office of the General Delegation of the Palestinian Liberation Organization in Washington DC, which you criticize, was mandated by Federal statute following [Palestinian Authority] President [Mahmoud] Abbas’ announcement before the United Nations General Assembly on September 20, 2017, ‘call[ing] on the International Criminal Court … to prosecute Israeli officials for their involvement in settlement activities.’"

Indeed, he said, "I doubt that President Abbas, with apparent animus towards Israel, would have taken such an inappropriate and unlawful position absent the cover mistakenly granted under UNSCR 2334 and Secretary Kerry’s unfortunate speech."

In other words, he concluded, "The Obama-Kerry departure from America’s historical support of Israel has done nothing to make peace more attainable," while the current "State Department’s recent determination that the establishment of Israeli civilian settlements in the West Bank is not per se illegal is an important step in the peace process … [and] creates the right platform for further progress."

Pompeo is right for calling the Democrats to task for turning their backs on Israel, which has tried desperately over the years to reach a peace agreement with the Palestinians and received nothing but bloodshed in return. He and the administration he serves also deserve credit for the many and varied pro-Israel policies implemented since US President Donald Trump entered the White House.

Sadly, however, nobody in Washington should harbor hope that the yet-to-be-unveiled "deal of the century" will be more successful than previous peace-plan fantasies. Yes, even if every House Democrat were replaced by a pro-Trump Republican, there is no chance of progress as long as the Palestinian leadership and its vile ideology remain in place.

Being a smart guy and a very different kind of diplomat from his predecessors, Pompeo probably knows this already. But watching him bring down the House by turning the peace tables on it was a pleasure nevertheless.
House Passes Appropriations Bill With $3.3 Billion for Israel, Jewish-Related Priorities
The US House of Representatives passed a $1.37 trillion appropriations bill on Tuesday that includes the annual $3.3 billion in security assistance to Israel. It also addresses other Jewish and Israel-related priorities.

No US aid will go to the Palestinian Authority. Since the United States cut aid to the PA in March 2018 and under the Taylor Force Act, the PA’s program of rewarding terrorists and their families is not being supported.

Up to $30 million is allocated to boost reconciliation programs for Israelis and Palestinians.

There is also no US funding for the UN Human Rights Council, which the United States withdrew from in June 2018.

The legislation does not include the $175 million requested by the Trump administration for economic assistance to the Palestinians as part of its Mideast peace plan, the economic part which was introduced at the Bahrain summit in June. The rejection was solely due to budgetary considerations, reported Haaretz, citing a source close to the budget negotiations.

The bill consists of $90 million for the US Department of Homeland Security’s Nonprofit Security Grant Program (NSGP) that seeks to protect non-profit institutions, including synagogues. This is a 50 percent increase over last year’s $60 million funding.
Congress nixes Trump’s $175m. peace plan fund, gives $150m. aid to Palestinians
A White House request to include $175 million in funding that would help pay for Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts was left off a final 2020 Appropriations Bill set to pass Tuesday.

The Trump administration’s request to Congress earlier this year had included a so-called Diplomatic Progress Fund to respond to diplomatic breakthroughs, while slashing aid to the Palestinians to zero.

Instead, the $1.4 trillion government spending package includes $150 million for Palestinian security and humanitarian aid, while leaving off the diplomatic fund. It also includes $3.3 billion in aid to Israel as part of the Memorandum of Understanding.

A source familiar with budget negotiations told the Haaretz newspaper that the rejection was down to budgetary, not political reasons, because Congress doesn’t believe the peace plan will be launched any time in the near future.

When the White House asked for the money in March it said the funding was needed to give “flexibility” in its Middle East policy and indicated that most of the it would be spent on Palestinian aid, according to the newspaper.
Israel Eyes Dubai Expo as Portal to Arab World
With the Dubai Expo 2020 trade fair opening next year, the Israeli pavilion will present a unique opportunity to speed up the "normalization" of relations and reach out to Arab peoples, officials say.

Dore Gold, former director-general of the Israeli Foreign Ministry, said the "quasi-diplomatic presence" of the pavilion is one of several developments with "a cumulative effect." He cited sporting competitions and the 2015 opening in Abu Dhabi of an Israeli mission to the International Renewable Energy Agency, which is based there. "It's not normalization, but it's an enhanced presence," he said.

While the Gulf Arab states have not lost interest in the Palestinian issue, "these countries are looking after themselves," including enhancing security cooperation with Israel against Iran. Gold, who heads the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs think-tank, said, "The name of the game is how to find joint interests that don't create a big stir. In any case, if you did public opinion surveys, you'd find that throughout most of the Gulf there's a kind of understanding that Israel's part of the region."
Turkey allowing Hamas to plot attacks on Israelis from its soil – report
The authoritarian Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has long played host to leaders of Hamas, is now allowing the terror group’s operatives to plot terror attacks while on Turkish soil, a report said late Tuesday.

According to the British daily The Telegraph, citing Israeli police sources and offering a wealth of details, recent interrogations of terror suspects by Israeli officials revealed that Hamas operations in Jerusalem and the West Bank are being actively directed from Istanbul, while Turkish authorities turn a blind eye.

One such operation cited by the paper was a plot to assassinate senior Israeli officials, including the mayor of Jerusalem and the national police commissioner, by 23-year-old East Jerusalem resident Adham Muselmani, who was recruited to the cause in a meeting in Istanbul.

The report comes shortly after Erdogan hosted Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh in Istanbul on Saturday, telling him, “We will keep on supporting our brothers in Palestine.”

Hamas in turn praised Turkey for its “positions vis-a-vis the Palestinian people and its just cause” in a news report on its website.
Barkat, Glick vow to continue work after reveal of Hamas assassin plan
Likud MK and former Jerusalem mayor Nir Barkat and former Likud MK Yehudah Glick pledged to continue their work for Israel after the British daily the Daily Telegraph revealed in a detailed expose on Tuesday that Istanbul-based Hamas members have been plotting attacks on the Israeli territory, including an assassination attempt against them and former Israel’s police chief Roni Alsheich.

“For me, it is a compliment. It is no news that Turkey’s President [Recep Tayyip] Erdogan is trying to gain a foothold in Jerusalem and on the Temple Mount and it is no surprise that Hamas operatives working there would plot such an attack,” Glick told The Jerusalem Post.

Glick is known for his activity advocating for the Jewish right to access and pray on the Temple Mount, which is currently limited. He said that his efforts are clearly disliked by Turkey and Hamas.

“We want Jerusalem to be in a situation of peace and quiet, they want it to be at war, to disrupt its stability,” he added. “They will not succeed. The presence of the Jewish people in Jerusalem and on the Temple Mount is irreversible.”

In addition to the assassination attempt, the Daily Telegraph revealed that in another instance, a Hamas official proposed to pay $20,000 to the family of any would-be suicide bomber.

After the report, Barkat called on the US to impose sanctions on Turkey.
Report: Hamas Plotting Attacks on Israel From Turkey
Hamas operatives are offered a safe haven for plotting attacks on Israel in Turkey as President Erdogan largely turns a blind eye to its activities, the Telegraph reported on Tuesday. According to interrogation records from Israeli police and local accounts cited by the newspaper, at least 11 of the top Hamas operatives reside in Turkey's Istanbul and orchestrate plots from there. Among their ranks are Abdel Rahman Ghanimat, head of the cell behind the deadly Café Apropo bombing in 1997, and Kamal Awad, a Hamas treasurer recently targeted by US sanctions. The attacks they tried to set up include efforts to recruit suicide bombers, with a reward of $20,000 promised to the family of the attacker, and assassination of key Israeli officials, such as police chief Roni Alsheich.

Trump Administration Refrains From Endorsing US Senate Measure on Armenian Genocide
The Trump administration on Tuesday refrained from endorsing a resolution passed by the US Senate recognizing as a genocide the mass killings of Armenians a century ago, saying it continued to see them as “mass atrocities.”

The position taken appears aimed at assuaging Turkey, which was infuriated by the passage of the measure last week. The measure is non-binding but asserts that it is US policy to commemorate as genocide the killing of 1.5 million Armenians by the Ottoman Empire from 1915 to 1923.

In response, Turkey summoned the US ambassador to Ankara to convey its dismay. The NATO allies had already been at loggerheads over some issues, ranging from Turkey’s purchase of a Russian missile defense system to policy on the war in Syria.

US President Donald Trump has been criticized by American lawmakers, including his fellow Republicans, for shielding Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, with whom he enjoys a special rapport, from US sanctions over the weapons purchase.

“The position of the Administration has not changed,” State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said in a statement on the subject of Armenia. “Our views are reflected in the President’s definitive statement on this issue from last April.”

On the April 24 Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day, Trump in a statement commemorated the killings, describing them as “mass atrocities” as opposed to a genocide.
Prince Charles to Visit Israel, ‘Occupied’ Palestinian Territories
Britain’s Prince Charles has accepted an invitation by Israeli President Reuven Rivlin to take part in the Fifth World Holocaust Forum at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem in January.

The event, titled “Remembering the Holocaust, Fighting Anti-Semitism,” is a joint project by the World Holocaust Forum Foundation and Yad Vashem. Scheduled for Jan. 23, 2020, it will commemorate the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp and make a clear statement that antisemitism has no place in global society.

Rivlin said that the upcoming forum will be taking place at a “very important historical moment … with the voices of Holocaust denial and antisemitism once again rising.”

He added that no quarter would be given to any individuals, organizations, politicians or heads of state who “falsified the truth” or tried to ensure that the Holocaust was forgotten.

British Ambassador to Israel Neil Wigan said he was pleased that the prince had accepted Rivlin’s invitation and that on his upcoming visit would “see a bit more of Israel.”
PA requests urgent Arab League meeting over Brazil trade mission
The Palestinian Authority has requested an emergency meeting of the Arab League to discuss Brazil’s decision to open a trade office in Jerusalem.

PA envoy to Cairo Diab al-Louh said on Tuesday that, acting on instructions from PA President Mahmoud Abbas and Foreign Minister Riad Malki, he requested an emergency meeting of the Arab League “to discuss the steps and measures that the Arab states could take in response to Brazil’s illegal decision to open a trade office in Jerusalem.”

Louh told the PA news agency Wafa that the purpose of the meeting would be to discuss ways of exerting pressure on Brazil to backtrack on its move and refrain from taking similar measures in the future.

Brazil’s decision to open a trade office in Jerusalem, he said, “contradicts international law and disregards the decisions of the Arab League, whose representatives had, more than once, warned Brazil against breaching the legal status of Jerusalem.”
Only the voters can put a prime minister out to pasture
The public knows all about the indictments. In the absence of a clear statutory provision, the question of whether the ethical and practical aspects of the situation should bar Netanyahu from serving as prime minister must be put to the voters.

It is hard to imagine a more political issue than defining who will be the prime minister and the degree of his suitability for the job, under the current circumstances. A decision by an activist judicial system, which would be perceived as flying in the face of the standard democratic elections, would infringe on the voters’ right to elect and be elected, and would simply be inappropriate.

Israel has reached a dangerous and tragic juncture. Over the last generation, as a country and as a society, we have been foisting the responsibility of making the most fateful and substantive decisions about our national life onto the judicial system. This is a very heavy albatross to hang around the judges’ necks. The result is that the public now tends to buy into the absurd and destructive idea that we have become a “juristocracy.” This is how, sadly, the Israeli legal system has come to embody the doubtful blessing that the book of Genesis (16:12) bestows on Ishmael:
“his hand is raised against every man, and every man’s hand is raised against him.”
Israeli Soccer Star, War Hero, Won’t Join NIF Sponsored Project
Israeli soccer star and Captain of Premier League Hapoel Hadera F.C. Menashe Zalka, last week withdrew from the Israel Football Association’s “Social Responsibility All-Star Team” initiative after learning that it was co-sponsored by the New Israel Fund (NIF), Israel Hayom reported.

NIF has been accused of a long list of collaborations with Israel’s enemies, including providing—through its supported NGOs—the bulk of negative reporting from within Israel in the 2010 Goldstone report. NIF also torpedoed in 2018 an Israeli deal to deport illegal African workers to Rwanda.

The US-based NIF is one of the largest funders of Israel’s highly controversial NGOs, including Breaking the Silence, B’Tselem, and Adalah. It also provides substantial funding to NGOs that defend terrorists and their families in court.

The initiative, a joint project of the Israel Football Association, the Israel Football Players’ Association and the New Israel Fund, features 14 of the country’s top soccer players and aims to promote integration and coexistence.

Zalka, an Ethiopian-Israeli athlete who was an honoree at last year’s Independence Day torch-lighting ceremony, served in the IDF in the paratroopers special forces unit, and to this remains on reserve duty, explained on Facebook that he was pleased to take part in the initiative until he learned of the NIF’s involvement.

Israel's F-35s Can Overcome Russian Air Defense Systems in Syria
Former Gen. Gary North, now a senior official at Lockheed Martin, learned from Israeli pilots that the F-35's stealth capability has enabled them to repeatedly bypass the Russian S-300 and S-400 air defense systems deployed in Syria and act freely inside an enemy country.

This capability has embarrassed Moscow, which is practically blind to Israeli actions. It calls into question the effectiveness of the Russian systems, which has led to frustration and anger. Lockheed Martin engineers are already planning improvements in the F-35 based on Israel's experience.
Gaza border resident to tell her story to UN Security Council
Peace can only come to Israel’s south when Hamas allows Gazans to thrive instead of investing solely in terrorism, Adele Raemer, a resident of Kibbutz Nirim, told the UN Security Council in its periodic hearing on the Middle East on Wednesday.

Raemer, the first Israeli from near the Gaza border to address the Security Council, did so at the invitation of US Ambassador to the UN Kelly Craft, president of the Security Council this month.

“Have you ever had to run for your life?” Raemer asked. “When I hear the red alert early warning system for rockets, I have five to ten seconds to get somewhere safe…If it catches me in the shower, I’m out of luck.”

Raemer, who has lived in the region since 1975 and runs a Facebook group with almost 5,000 members to tell about life under the shadow of terrorism, pointed out that there were 11 rounds of escalated rocket fire in the last year and a half, with multiple rocket barrages each day, 1,800 rockets in the Eshkol Regional Council alone.

“What would any of you do if this number of projectiles was launched over your border?” she asked.
Israel Arrests 50 PFLP Terrorists, Thwarts Upcoming Attack
Israeli security forces in the West Bank have uncovered and dismantled a 50-person strong terrorist cell believed to behind a string of deadly attacks in the area including the deadly Dolev bombing which claimed the life of a teenage girl, the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) said Wednesday.

According to the Shin Bet the investigation into the Dolev attack, the cell planned to carry out additional attacks in the near future.

As part of the investigation, approximately 50 Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PLPF) operatives, including senior members of the Palestinian terrorist group, were arrested and a large number of weapons were seized including M-16s, Kalashnikovs, Uzis, Galil automatic rifles, pistols with silencers, ammunition and fertilizers to build bombs, as well as walkie-talkies, telescopic devices and others were discovered by security officials.

Many of the weapons were found during a joint IDF and Israel Police raid of a home belonging to one of Arbid’s relatives.

The members of the PFLP cell were arrested in the Ramallah area in recent months and were involved in shooting attacks near the settlement of Ofra in December 2017 and near the settlement of Ofra in March 2019. There were no casualties in either attack.
IDF prepares to raze home of terror leader in attack that killed Israeli teen
The Israel Defense Forces cleared for publication on Wednesday that it had mapped the home of a senior Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine member who is suspected of leading a squad that carried out a terror attack earlier this year at a West Bank spring, killing an Israeli teenager.

The preparatory step taken before demolishing the structure was carried out on October 31 in the home of Walid Muhammad Hanatsheh, 50, after he was arrested earlier that month, the IDF said.

The army also added that it had mapped the homes of Qassem a-Karim Rajah Shibli, 25, Yasan Hasin Hasni Majamas, 24, for demolition in recent months.

The IDF statement came hours after security forces announced that they had arrested some 50 members of the PFLP — the group deemed responsible for a fatal August 23 bombing in the West Bank.

Rina Shnerb, 17, was killed by the bomb at a natural spring near the Dolev settlement that she was visiting with her father, Rabbi Eitan Shnerb, and her brother, Dvir, both of whom were seriously wounded.
IDF Thwarts Attempt by Palestinian Terrorist to Enter Southern Israel From Hamas-Ruled Gaza
In the first incident of its kind in some time, an attempted infiltration of southern Israel by a terrorist from the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip was thwarted by the IDF on Tuesday.

The Israeli news site Mako reported that an armed Palestinian approached the border fence and was subsequently targeted by an Israeli military aerial vehicle.

The infiltrator who was fired upon was believed to have been killed.

The occurrence followed a tense weekend that saw riots along the border fence, in which some Palestinians threw Molotov cocktails, damaging an IDF vehicle but injuring no one.

The Gaza Health Ministry, which is run by Hamas and not always a reliable source of information, claimed that five rioters were injured.

Tuesday’s incident also coincided with celebrations in Gaza marking the 32nd anniversary of the founding of Hamas.

Israel cuts electricity to West Bank over $519M bill
The Israel Electric Corporation said Wednesday it was continuing power cuts to several Palestinian cities in Judea and Samaria to press for payment of the $519 million owed by a Palestinian electricity company.

The IEC began daily, three-hour power cuts on Sunday, a spokeswoman said, adding that the company was “determined to collect the debt but disconnects the power in a reasonable and proportionate way."

The cuts have led to afternoon power outages in Ramallah and Bethlehem, affecting an estimated 130,000 people, said Hisham Omari, who heads the Jerusalem District Electricity Company (JDECO).

“When you have no electricity, there is no life. You stop life, you stop work, you feel the winter cold, for three hours,” added Omari.

Palestinians in Judea and Samaria are largely dependent on electricity supplied by Israel.

JDECO buys electricity from IEC and then sells it to customers in the West Bank.

JDECO does not have its own power stations and relies on Israel for 95% of its energy supply. It buys the remainder from neighboring Jordan.
PMW: Abbas' libel: Israel brings "cannabis and drugs" to Palestinians - they "don't want us to have a future"
At a recent conference against corruption organized by the Palestinian Authority, Chairman Abbas repeated the PA libel that Israel actively supplies drugs to Palestinians in order to ruin their future.

Abbas: “The occupation plants corruption among us… If we don't have it, it brings us corrupt people and corrupters. Therefore, we see substances like cannabis and drugs etc., and also spoiled goods which are always accepted in our land, from them, because they want to fight our existence… They don't want us to have a future.” [Official PA TV, Dec. 10, 2019]

The same libel was disseminated by Fatah official and regular columnist of the official PA daily, Muwaffaq Matar, who said that Israeli security forces allegedly prefer that Palestinian children hold “drug needles” rather than “books, pens, or work tools”:
“The Israeli occupation’s security forces are interested in there being drug needles in the hands of the children, youth, and young people instead of books, pens, or work tools, because drug needles kill the soul and lead the users to a stage of helplessness.” [Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Dec. 12, 2019]

The op-ed in the PA daily further purported that Israel “turns a blind eye” to dealers selling drugs at Palestinian school gates, noting that the drug dealers are Israel's “pawns” sent to make young Palestinians “fall into the clutches of the Israeli intelligence forces”:

Khaled Abu Toameh: Hamas, Thirty-Two Years Later
Now that Hamas has again – clearly – reminded the world that it has not changed and continues to seek the destruction of Israel, the question is: Why are some world leaders, governments and organizations continuing to embrace the leaders of the movement?

A further question that ought to be asked in light of the recent venomous anti-Israel statements by Hamas leaders in the past few days: Why is the United Nations trying to convince Hamas to participate in Palestinian presidential and parliamentary elections?

All that is needed is for Erdogan and the rest of the world to listen to the statements of Hamas leaders in the past few days to understand that the movement is more determined than ever to achieve its goals of driving Jews "out of all of Palestine" and replacing Israel with an Islamic state.... What is it that they do not understand about "DEATH TO ISRAEL"? ... It makes one wonder what their real motive is.
Lebanon must find a way to escape Hezbollah’s clutches
It is now clear that Lebanon is heading for complete financial meltdown. As Saad Hariri, the caretaker prime minister, reaches out to international institutions for help, the best way to describe the situation is not the bailout of a country but a full-on hostage being held for ransom situation.

Hezbollah has been holding Lebanon hostage for too long. The Iranian proxy’s leader Hassan Nasrallah, who proudly admits he is serving under the orders of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and Quds Force boss Qassem Soleimani, is the true decision-maker in the country. He is the regime, nobody else. President Michel Aoun, Hariri and their ilk are nothing but pragmatic puppets or useful idiots.

The ongoing protests, which are now in their third month, have taken all the Lebanese politicians by surprise. And, as the people’s resolve is not withering, Hezbollah is pushing the Lebanese security forces and the armed forces to do its dirty work by hitting back at the peaceful protesters. People are now left between a rock and hard place, as Hezbollah’s thugs are being unleashed and the sovereign institutions arrest the protesters rather than those who are attacking them.

It has been a constant aim of Hezbollah to weaken the state institutions. Hezbollah threatens all those who dare go after its main interest, which is full military and security control of the territory. The Iranian proxy — it should not be referred to as a Lebanese party — has been controlling all security points in the state to achieve its own objectives. Its mission is clear and simple: To maintain the Iranian balance of power in negotiations with the US and other international powers. Airports, ports, roads, communications, and networks (including electricity) are controlled by Hezbollah. It does not care about the people; it only cares about its mission. It is willing to resort to extreme violence to achieve what it wants, as it has done in Syria.

Iran begins testing much faster centrifuges as nuclear deal further unravels
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Wednesday said his country has begun testing its latest, much faster, model of centrifuges in a further signal the international deal limiting its nuclear program was unraveling.

“Today, our new IR-6 centrifuges are working and the newer IR-9’s are being tested,” he said during a visit to Malaysia, according to a statement on his website.

According to Iranian officials, an IR-6 centrifuge can produce enriched uranium 10 times faster than the country’s first-generation IR-1 centrifuges.

The IR-9, for its part, works five times faster than the IR-6 and 50 times faster than the IR-1, the head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, Ali Akbar Salehi, has said.

A centrifuge enriches uranium by rapidly spinning uranium hexafluoride gas, with more advanced centrifuges further cutting into the one year that experts estimate Tehran would need to have enough material for building a nuclear weapon — if it chose to pursue one.

Iran has ramped up its nuclear activities since US President Donald Trump unilaterally pulled the US out of the 2015 nuclear deal last year. The deal, negotiated between Tehran and world powers under the previous US administration of Barack Obama, was designed to see Iran curb its nuclear program in exchange for the lifting of powerful sanctions. The US has since reinstated punitive measures on Iran which have affected its struggling economy.

Female Afghani pilot flees, dreams of serving in the US Air Force
Capt. Niloofar Rahmani first garnered public attention in 2013 when she became the first woman to pilot a fixed-wing jet in the Aghani Air Force. Photos of her in a khaki flight suit, a black head covering, and thick-rimmed glasses began circulating across the globe and her story went viral.

Despite her accomplishment, her hurdles began when she stepped into the cockpit. Her son could not find work, they were threatened regularly and eventually she had to move to the United States, Buzzfeed News reported. Rahmani could not leave her home in Afghanistan without wearing a niqab to hide her face.

Rahmani now resides in Tampa, Florida, with her sister and father, according to BuzzFeed News. When she filed for asylum in 2016, The New York Times reported that Rahmani was hoping to enlist in the US Air Force, and BuzzFeed reported the same on Saturday, Decemeber 14, 2019.

Though the US granted her asylum in 2018, Rahmani would need to become a citizen in order to serve in the US Air Force, which can take time. Rahmani told BuzzFeed News she is worried that the longer citizenship takes, the more her skills will decline.

Shortly after the US granted Rahmani asylum, she told Fox News that she was worried about her family’s safety and said the Taliban was threatening all of their lives.

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