Wednesday, January 22, 2020

From Ian:

Itamar Marcus: Palestinian Authority fights Jews to ‘defend’ all humanity
This week’s marking of International Holocaust Remembrance Day must be both a commemoration of the past as well as a beacon for the future. If the victims are remembered and the survivors honored, but the world doesn’t implement the lessons that must be learned, we are inviting a recurrence of history’s worst horrors.

One fundamental lesson of the Holocaust is that the world must be vigilant to expose and eliminate all demonization that leads to the justification of murder, whether directed against Jews or any other group.

One of the great failures of the international community has been its tolerant attitude toward the Palestinian Authority’s systematic demonization of Jews.

Antisemitism is now endemic among Palestinians. According to an ADL Global 100 poll a few years ago, the Palestinians are the most antisemitic people in the entire world. Ninety-three percent of Palestinians believed that at least six of the 11 negative stereotypes tested were “probably true,” higher than Iraq at 92% and Yemen at 88%. For example, 91% of Palestinians believe “Jews have too much power in the business world,” 72% believe “Jews think they are better than other people,” and 88% of Palestinians say “Jews have too much control over global affairs.”

The pervasive Palestinian antisemitism is the direct result of the PA’s teachings. PA President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah movement recently produced a propaganda video purportedly about Jewish history in Europe which it publicized on Fatah’s official Facebook page. It teaches that Jews see themselves as superior – “We [Jews] are a nation that is above the [other] nations... only we are people, and all the others are our animals” – and others as inferior: “Non-Jews... according to their worldview are snakes.” The Jews, Fatah explained, “led the project to enslave humanity” and allied with Nazis to burn Jews “to accumulate wealth.” The Jews themselves established “ghettos in order to separate from other people out of arrogance and disgust for non-Jews.” It was in the ghettos, the documentary further lies, that the Jews schemed against the non-Jews, leading to European antisemitism: “[Jews] were hated because of their racism and their filthy behavior.”

David Singer: Another anti-Jewish Textbook Gets the Publisher’s Thumbs Down
The decision by Pearson Education Limited (Pearson) to withdraw Hilary Brash’s text book – The Middle East: Conflict, Crisis and Change, 1917-2012 – comes after trenchant criticism by blogger David Collier.

Collier questioned – among many other criticisms – why two timelines did not mention the Holocaust and why references to massacres of Jewish communities had been branded as "clashes".

Collier said:
"It is almost impossible for the untrained eye to pick apart fantasy from fiction."

A spokesman for Pearson said:
"An independent review of the texts by an educational charity found no overall evidence of anti-Israel bias. It identified some areas where the balance of sources could be improved and we are updating the texts and offering existing customers the option of replacing them for free. We always welcome feedback and are committed to creating engaging, accurate and objective content. We are the only awarding body that tackles this subject matter at both GCSE and international GCSE level. We do it as we think it is an important topic, even though it is likely to provoke emotive responses."

Pearson is the UK's largest organisation offering academic, vocational and work-based learning qualifications.

Brash’s book was a textbook for Pearson Edexcel General (GCSE) and International (iGCSE) Certificate of Secondary Education studies.

Last year, 2,341 students took the General unit on the conflict for GCSE and 1,509 for iGCSE.

Pearson’s decision follows McGraw Hill’s decisionin 2016 to trash copies of its textbook Global Politics: Engaging a Complex World.

Catherine Mathis – a spokeswoman for McGraw-Hill – then explained the company’s reasons for destroying the textbook – which contained four misleading and inaccurate maps of “Palestine”:
“As soon as we learned about the concerns with it, we placed sales of the book on hold and immediately initiated an academic review. The review determined that the map did not meet our academic standards. We have informed the authors and we are no longer selling the book. All existing inventory will be destroyed. We apologize and will refund payment to anyone who returns the book.”
The Palestinian Authority’s word and the media’s silence
The Palestinian Authority (PA) has admitted that it will not honor any agreements that violate Sharia (Islamic law). And the press, it seems, has declared that it won’t cover the Authority’s admission. The Authority’s decision illustrates the value of its word. And the media’s decision to ignore it illustrates its own value, as well.

PA Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh recently said, “The government adheres to Palestinian values and principles, and does not violate the Sharia. …Our religious and national values are above everything else, and this is in keeping with the decision of the Constitutional Court’s decision, and as a protection of our (women’s) honor, the unity of our society and the rule of law [emphasis added].”

The Constitutional Court’s decision, according to an Al-Monitor report, was for “international agreements” to “prevail over local laws, provided these are consistent with the Palestinian religious and cultural legacy.” That ruling was prompted by the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) signing the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) in 2014.

But as the blogger Elder of Ziyon noted, the PLO did so “without any real intention of implementing it, but to make it look like they are a liberal modern state so they can use that impression to attack Israel at the ICC and elsewhere.”

The signing of CEDAW prompted a backlash, particularly among several Palestinian Arab clans in Hebron, as Al-Monitor noted in a Jan. 5, 2020 dispatch. However, as Elder of Ziyon highlighted, this “goes way beyond CEDAW and women’s rights. This goes to the fundamental issue that the PLO and the Palestinian Authority will happily sign agreements they have no intention of keeping. They will tell the West that they signed the agreement, yet will privately ignore the agreement – just as they have with CEDAW.”

UN Security Council must recognize Iran as the real Mideast aggressor, Kelly Craft says
Kelly Craft, the United States ambassador to the United Nations, called out the Security Council in a speech Tuesday, saying the world body continued to criticize Israel but failed to work toward keeping Iran in check.

Speaking at the quarterly Security Council debate on the Middle East, which historically has focused solely on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Craft said its diplomats needed to be more active when dealing with the Tehran regime. She cited Iran arming Houthi rebels in Yemen and supporting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Craft told the council, “When Iran attacked tankers in the Persian Gulf and energy facilities in Saudi Arabia last year, the council was silent. When Iran provided weapons to the Houthis and Hezbollah, the council was silent. When Iran sought to prop up the Assad regime’s brutal repression of its own people, the council was silent. And, it is not though Iran’s malign behavior occurs without this council’s knowledge. It has been well documented by the U.N. or is simply out in the open.”

She added that the council’s “failure to address Iran’s central role in destabilizing the region sends a powerfully damaging message to those seeking lasting peace and prosperity in the region. It only encourages further instability, which puts the peace we all seek at greater risk.”

Israel's UN Ambassador, Speaking in Persian, Says Israel "Stands with Iranian People"
Danny Danon speaks in Farsi, recounts story of Iranian girl, 14, killed by Islamic Republic security forces

The UN Security Council convened Tuesday for talks on the tumultuous situation in the Middle East, after the leaders of Britain, France and Germany launched a process last week charging Iran with failing to observe the terms of the 2015 nuclear deal.

In a surprise move, Israel’s Permanent Representative to the UN Danny Danon began speaking in Farsi, saying “Israel stands beside the Iranian people.”

He presented to the members of the Council the picture of 14-year-old Nikta Esfandani who was killed by Iranian security forces during protests in November.

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“After the brutal murder, the regime tried to cover up the death of Nikta,” Danon said. “At first it claimed she died of other circumstances and then forced her parents to say she died of poisoning.”

The Israeli ambassador added that “our Persian neighbors have a rich heritage that they should be proud of. The Persian people led the declaration of human rights, aided terminating slavery and granted people the right to choose their religion.

US said to oppose Israeli annexation of Jordan Valley before peace plan rollout
The White House opposes Israel applying sovereignty over the Jordan Valley before the release of its Israeli-Palestinian peace plan, according to a television report Wednesday that suggested the administration may not take issue with such a move down the road.

The United States is against any unilateral Israeli measures in the West Bank before publication of US President Donald Trump’s peace proposal, White House officials told Channel 13 news.

“The Israeli government is completely aware of this [position],” the officials were quoted saying.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday voiced support for a Knesset vote in the coming weeks to apply Israeli sovereignty over the Jordan Valley, hours after his Blue and White rival Benny Gantz said he would extend sovereignty over the area “in coordination with the international community” following the March 2 elections.

Netanyahu, who called for applying Israeli sovereignty over the Jordan Valley shortly before elections in September, has previously suggested the Trump administration may not oppose such a move.

After meeting US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo last month, Netanyahu said the two discussed Israel’s possible annexation of the Jordan Valley. He declared that Israel had the “full right” to do so but stressed, however, that such a move was impossible during a period in which there is only a transitional government.

A senior State Department official denied that Netanyahu presented any annexation plan to Pompeo during the meeting. The prime minister later said it was true no formal plan was discussed, but insisted he raised the matter with Pompeo.
After Netanyahu vows major West Bank annexations, Bennett urges: ‘Do it now’
After Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to annex the Jordan Valley along with all of the Israeli settlements in the West Bank if he wins the upcoming elections, Defense Minister Naftali Bennett on Wednesday pushed for a cabinet vote to move ahead with the plan already next week.

In a Twitter exchange the previous day between Netanyahu and his chief rival, Blue and White leader MK Benny Gantz, the two men appeared to dare each other to swiftly apply sovereignty over the Jordan Valley.

The annexation talk is “welcome,” Bennett wrote on Twitter “but it is, for the time being, just talk. The only real test is action.”

He called on Netanyahu to bring the annexation measure for approval by the cabinet at its coming weekly meeting on Sunday, followed by a vote in the Knesset on Tuesday.

“Only actions will determine,” wrote Bennett, who leads the Yamina alliance of nationalist parties to the right of Likud.
Abbas’s office fumes at Netanyahu, Gantz for pledging Jordan Valley annexation
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s office blasted both Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his chief rival, Benny Gantz, on Tuesday over comments they made vowing to applying Israeli sovereignty over the Jordan Valley.

“Such statements totally undermine the foundations of the peace process — sending the region into a dangerous new phase of conflict and instability,” Abbas’s office said, according to the official PA news site Wafa.

Netanyahu vowed Tuesday evening to apply sovereignty over the Jordan Valley as well as every settlement in the West Bank “without exception.” Since September, the prime minister has frequently said that if he succeeds in forming a new government, he will annex the area.

Gantz had promised earlier in the day, while visiting the Jordan Valley, to apply sovereignty over the territory “in coordination with the international community.”

Netanyahu’s Likud and Gantz’s Blue and White party are competing against each other in the upcoming national elections on March 2. Both of them appear to be making the comments about applying sovereignty to the Jordan Valley to curry favor with right-wing voters.

The overwhelming majority of the international community has long opposed Israel applying its sovereignty over the Jordan Valley and called for the advancement of a two-state solution.
Israel Irked by Macron-Abbas Meeting Ahead of Holocaust Forum
Israeli officials on Tuesday expressed displeasure over the decision by French President Emmanuel Macron, who is on a three-day visit to the country for the 5th World Holocaust Forum, to meet with Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah during his stay.

“We didn’t think it was a great idea to visit Ramallah,” a Foreign Ministry official told Israel Hayom. “We told the French [delegation] we weren’t thrilled about it, but it was [Macron’s] decision.”

Macron was scheduled to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday morning, followed by a meeting with President Reuven Rivlin.

He is scheduled to meet with Abbas in Ramallah in the late afternoon hours.

Netanyahu, meanwhile, will meet with US Vice President Mike Pence at the US Embassy in Jerusalem on Thursday. It will be an uncommon setting for such a meeting, as Netanyahu holds the vast majority of state visits at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem, his official residence on Balfour Street in the capital or, on special occasions, at the King David Hotel.

After the embassy meeting, Pence and Netanyahu are expected to visit the Western Wall in the Old City.
UN envoy: annexation will deal a 'devastating blow' to the peace process
UN Envoy to the Middle East Nickolay Mladenov said on Wednesday that, "if the annexation of part, or all, of Area C in the West Bank is implemented by Israel, it will deal a devastating blow to the peace process."

His remarks came following Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's recent statements on Israel's plans to annex the Jordan Valley.
PreOccupiedTerritory: Unprecedented Ties With Arab States Just Netanyahu Bid To Hide Diplomatic Isolation (satire)
Critics of Israel’s politically embattled prime minister repeated their accusation today that the country’s unprecedented establishment of trade and diplomatic relations with those who long considered the Jewish State a sworn enemy serves only to distract from the international pariah status to which he has condemned Israel amid failure or refusal to reach a permanent peace agreement with the Palestinians.

Leaders of the political Left and of the centrist party that again aims to oust Binyamin Netanyahu from the premiership he has held for more than a decade leveled the charge in various forums this week: press conferences, tweets, Facebook posts, online videos, and both print and broadcast advertisements. They characterized his successful pursuit of diplomatic relations with numerous states once sworn to Israel’s destruction a mere cover for his failures as a statesman, specifically the continuing absence of an agreement to grant even more control to a group that still encourages, lionizes, and pays its constituents to commit violence in the name of destroying Israel.

“The establishment of ties with Muslim countries that once upon a time wouldn’t even sit with us on the same international bodies is just a smoke screen,” declared MK Yair Lapid of the Blue and White Party. “Bibi is a diplomatic dud. He has nothing to show for all of his lame efforts to pretend we’re not isolated because of the Palestinian issue. Everyone knows relations with the Arab world can’t happen unless and until we make peace with the Palestinians. All the places establishing ties now don’t count because of that axiom. Barack Obama and John Kerry said so, and they’ve never been wrong about this region. And Jimmy Carter!”
IDF: Lowest number of casualties since founding of the state
The past year saw the lowest number of casualties since the founding of the IDF, with a total of 27 soldiers losing their lives in 2019.

According to the military, the number of IDF casualties has continued to decrease over the last decade, with 2019 having just a little more than half the amount of the previous year, which saw 43 soldiers lose their lives.

“The number of fallen soldiers keeps decreasing,” said Brig.-Gen. Michel Yanko, chief of staff of the IDF Manpower Directorate. Nevertheless, “it’s not enough. Between the IDF and its soldiers, there’s a unique relationship based on commitment;commitment, every fallen soldier is a person with a family. Even though we had a positive year, we’re committed to learning additional lessons in order to decrease the numbers even more. Every fatality is one too many.”

Among the casualties were two during combat operations: Sgt. Gal Keidan was killed in a stabbing attack outside Ariel, and Sgt. Zachary Baumel’s remains were returned to Israel, so is counted in last years casualties –, even though he went missing in the battle for Sultan Yacoub in 1982. One soldier, Dvir Sorek, who was in the IDF Hesder program, was killed in a terrorist attack outside the settlement of Migdal Oz.

The leading cause of fatalities in 2019 was suicide, with 12 soldiers taking their own lives, including two lone soldiers.
IDF kills 3 Gazans who infiltrated Israel, threw explosive at troops
Three Palestinian men were shot dead after they crossed the border into southern Israel from the Gaza Strip and threw an explosive device at Israeli troops Tuesday night, amid rising tensions in the region, the military said.

According to the Israel Defense Forces, the three entered Israeli territory from the southern Gaza Strip, going into a nearby wooded area, near the community of Kibbutz Kissufim.

During this time, the suspects were under constant IDF surveillance, the military said.

“IDF troops were called to the scene, closed off the area and began searching for the suspects, who threw an explosive device or grenade at the soldiers,” the IDF said in a statement.

“The soldiers opened fire at the suspects, and a hit was confirmed. There was no threat presented to the [nearby] communities,” the military added. The army later confirmed that all three attackers were killed.

There were no injuries to the soldiers.

The IDF released a video showing the men throwing the explosive device.

The night-time incident came amid a general increase in violence along the Gaza border. In recent days, terrorists have flown numerous bombs and incendiary devices into Israeli territory from the Palestinian enclave with the aid of helium-filled balloons — attacks that have largely gone unanswered by the IDF.
Terrorists attack IDF forces before being eliminated

IDF: Gaza incident 'not a spontaneous act'
The infiltration attempt by three Palestinian youth who got within two kilometers from Kibbutz Kissufim was not a spontaneous act, but one whose intent was to carry out a terror attack against IDF soldiers or Israeli civilians.

The three Palestinians, identified as 17- and 18-year-olds Muhammad Hani Abu Mandil, Salem Ana'ami and Mahmoud Said, were spotted by IDF reconnaissance around 8.30 p.m. while still in Gazan territory. They were able to cross some 400 m. into southern Israel in a wooded area armed with improvised explosive devices, a knife and a screwdriver.

IDF Spokesperson Hildai Zilberman told reporters that they had crossed some 2 kilometers from Kibbutz Kissufim in an area which is known by the military due to several infiltrations having occurred at the same spot in the past.

“There are those who cross, then stop; those who cross, then run; and those who cross, then continue like they have a mission. They did the last two things,” Zilberman said, adding that once the three youth understood that they had been spotted and threw two explosive devices towards forces leading to troops to open fire towards them, killing all three.

While it is not yet clear if they were part of a terror group or acting on their own initiative, “we know it wasn’t spontaneous,” he said, adding that the time the three were spotted until the end of the incident was very quickly.
Media Ignore, Downplay Infiltration of Armed Gazans Close to Israeli Community
The IDF’s tweet about the incident, which was released a couple of hours before the Reuters report, made clear that the assailants “crossed the security fence.”
Moreover, Reuters’ misleading headline fails to make clear that Palestinians were the perpetrators of the attack, and that the attack was within Israel.
The Associated Press‘ headline similarly obscures that Palestinians were the assailants, stating: “Israeli army kills 3 Palestinians after attack at Gaza fence.” The headline suggests that it was the Israeli army which did the attacking, when the reverse was the case, and places the location of the incident at the Gaza fence, when in fact it was well inside Israel.
This distorted depiction is not consistent with the accompanying AP story, which clearly reports in the first sentence:
The Israeli military said its soldiers killed three Palestinians who crossed the Gaza border fence and threw an explosive device at troops on Tuesday.

In contrast, AFP’s coverage, both the article and headline, were perfectly clear that the slain Palestinians were assailants (“Israel troops kill 3 Palestinian attackers from Gaza: army“). DPA’s coverage also clearly reported that the Palestinians were assailants, and that they were inside Israel (“IDF: 3 Palestinians who targeted Israel [sic] soldiers shot dead.”
A BBC journalist’s portrayal of an armed infiltration from the Gaza Strip
On the evening of January 21st an infiltration took place on the border with the Gaza Strip.

“IDF soldiers opened fire at a group infiltrating the border fence along the Gaza-Israel border on Tuesday, hitting three Palestinian suspects who used the inclement weather to hide in a wooded area near Kibbutz Kissufim.

The IDF reported that one of the terrorists hurled a grenade or an explosive charge at a force that surrounded the three.”

As local media reported, the IDF released video evidence of the infiltrator throwing the explosive device.

To date the BBC has not produced any reporting on that incident but the next morning the BBC’s Jerusalem correspondent Tom Bateman did put out three related Tweets in which he found it appropriate to focus on the age of the armed border infiltrators and unnecessarily qualify the facts of the incident using the well-worn “Israel says” formula.

IDF joins TikTok, despite national, international security concerns
Despite security concerns, in an Instagram story Tuesday, the IDF announced that it had now joined the Chinese social media app TikTok.

TikTok, a short-form video creation and sharing app, is available in over 150 markets world-wide and boasts over a billion users. But the app has come under increased scrutiny due to concerns the app has security flaws and weaknesses.

Recently, Israel’s Border Police banned its soldiers from using the Chinese-produced app citing security and privacy concerns joining a chorus of high-profile voices including the US Department of Defense which also warned its staff not to use the app.

Although since patched, Israel-based Checkpoint Research released a report in December saying that, amongst other vulnerabilities, unauthorized videos were able to be uploaded, content on the app was able to be manipulated and sensitive data such as “hidden” videos and private email addresses were able to be released.

“The US Navy and Military both banned their soldiers from using it [TikTok]. They did so before we published on the vulnerabilities that we saw,” Gil Messing from Checkpoint Research told The Jerusalem Post. “It’s important to stress it’s not in the areas of privacy… or extraction of data but more so in the fact that it was very easy to breach it [the app].”

Israel ends power cuts after Palestinian Authority cuts its debt in half
Israel's state-owned electricity utility said Wednesday it was ending power cuts to the Palestinian Authority, after the PA paid over half of its outstanding debt for electricity.

In September, the Israel Electric Corporation began cutting power in parts of the PA over the 1.7 billion shekel ($500 million, 450 million euro) debt owed by the main Palestinian Authority power distributor for Judea and Samaria.

On Wednesday, the IEC said it had received 920 million shekels from the Palestinian Authority.

"The electric company will cease the power cuts over the debts," a statement from the IEC said, adding it would hold further negotiations with the power distributor and the Palestinian Authority on the repayment of the remainder of the outstanding funds.

The IEC called the payment a "breakthrough" and "the basis to a comprehensive solution the sides strive to reach."

There was no immediate confirmation from the Palestinian Authority.
Haniyeh meets Malaysian PM with history of anti-Semitism, thanks him for support
Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh met Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad on Tuesday and spoke highly to him of Malaysia’s positions on Israel and the Palestinians, according to the terror group.

Haniyeh touched down in Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday after visiting Iran, Oman, Turkey and Qatar over the past several weeks.

“A number of important issues related to the Palestinian cause were discussed in the meeting,” a report on Hamas’s official website said. “Haniyeh praised Malaysia’s progressive positions in support of Palestinian rights — whether in the [UN] Security Council or [other] international political forums.”

The Hamas chief also said that Malaysia’s stances demonstrate “a natural understanding of the Palestinian cause,” the report on Hamas’s website stated.

Malaysia has often condemned Israel over its military activities in the Gaza Strip, supported UN resolutions critical of Israeli policies and announced in January 2019 that it would bar Israelis from participating in any sporting competitions in its territory.

Haniyeh’s meeting with the Malaysian prime minister comes after a delegation of Hamas officials, including the terror group’s Moussa Abu Marzouk, sat down with him in the Malaysian capital in December.

Lebanon frees US journalist falsely accused of live-streaming for Israeli outlet
An American freelance journalist who was detained in Lebanon on suspicion of broadcasting live footage of protests to an Israeli news outlet has been released, the journalist said Tuesday.

Nicholas Frakes, 24, told The Associated Press he was released from nearly two days in detention after an official Lebanese investigation showed he was innocent.

Security forces detained Frakes on Sunday night on suspicion of broadcasting live footage to Haaretz. Lebanon and Israel are in a state of war and ban their citizens from visiting or contacting the other country and any contact is considered illegal.

“I’m glad that I have been released from custody and extremely grateful for the love and support” from colleagues around the Middle East, said Frakes, who has been living in Lebanon since December 2018. Frakes is originally from Alta Loma, California.
New Quds Force deputy is Iran’s missile man in Lebanon
Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Quds Force has a new deputy commander and he was the key to Hezbollah’s precision missile project. Mohammed Hejazi was previously a high ranking IRGC commander, a suppressor of protests in Iran and had been under Qasem Soleimani’s command as the central figure in Iran’s operations in Lebanon.

According to a public IDF report released in August 2019 Hejazi was involved in Hezbollah’s precision guided missile project in Lebanon. The report said that he was an IRGC operative, commander of Iran’s precision guided missile project in Lebanon and directly commands Iranian personnel in Lebanon.” He has been in Lebanon for years, according to Iranian media sources and reports online at various regional media. Prior to going to Lebanon for the IRGC he was involved in research and logistics, making him keenly aware of how Iran moves its missiles to groups like Hezbollah. Ynet reported he was also linked to the 1994 AMIA bombing of the Jewish community center in Argentina.

Hejazi, whose name is sometimes given as Seyyed Mohammad Hosseinzadeh Hejazi, or Muhammad Hussein-Zada Hejazi, was born in 1956 in Isfahan. He fought in the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s and played a key role suppressing Kurds. Later he became a commander of the Basij militia in Iran and then rose through IRGC ranks to become a deputy commander and one of its most senior officers. He was sanctioned by the US in 2007 and the EU in 2011 for his role in human rights and other violations. He helped suppress protests for President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2009.
MEMRI: Iraqi Shi'ite Militias Threaten Iraqi President With Expulsion If He Meets With President Trump In Davos
On January 21, 2020, leaders of the Iraqi Shi'ite Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) threatened to expel Iraqi President Barham Saleh from Baghdad, should he meet with U.S. President Donald Trump, or any of his aides, during the upcoming World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

The threats come a day after the White House announced that President Trump will be meeting on the sidelines of the economic forum with several world leaders including his Iraqi counterpart. The meeting would be the first between a U.S. official and Iraqi official since the escalation between Washington and Iran erupted following the assassination of Qassem Soleimani.

This report will examine the threats to Iraqi President Saleh made by two PMU groups.

In response to the news of the proposed meeting, Hizballah Brigades military chief, Abu 'Ali Al-'Askari, tweeted: "We stress the requirement for Barham Saleh not to meet with Trump, the fool, or his gang of killers who will be accompanying him. If he meets with them, Iraqis will take a stance against him, because he will be opposing the will of the people and ignoring the noble blood, which this gang spilled. We will tell him in that case; You are not welcome, and the free-men of our people will expel him from Baghdad, the city of pride and dignity."[1]

Likewise, Al-Nujaba' Movement, another PMU group, issued a statement echoing the same warning. The statement opens with a verse from the Quran that reads "Those who take disbelievers as allies instead of the believers. Do they seek with them honor [through power]? But indeed, honor belongs to Allah entirely." [Surah Al-Nisa (4:139)]
Ethics and justice in killing Soleimani
So how can the targeting of Soleimani be ethically and even Jewishly permitted?

It was an act of self-defense. The job description of General Qasem Soleimani within the Iranian Revolutionary Guard was to plan attacks against targets outside of Iran. And he did his job very, very well. He planned and supervised these attacks for decades. He trained Iranian allies and proxies. He armed them and he followed up on their activities. And – this is the crucial part – he was actively engaged in planning future attacks.

The US administration maintains that they have information that Soleimani was planning specific attacks. That is what makes targeting and killing him ethical. It was an act of self-defense taken by the United States in defense of its army, its citizens and its Western allies. The targeting of Soleimani would have been on shaky ground if he was retired and no longer operating. That was not at all the case.

There is a principle in tractate Sandherin of the Talmud that teaches: Haba l’hargacha, hashkem lehargo. If a murderer comes to kill you, wake up earlier and kill them first. In modern parlance, we call this a preemptive strike. Preemptive strikes are 100% justified as ethical. One need not wait to be hit first in order to defend oneself.

It is a principle Israel employed in the Six Day War. It is the principle Israel uses in the calculus when deciding whether or not to assassinate a terrorist leader. Are they actively planning new operations?

Israel and the United States hold themselves up to high ethical standards. They hold their military to high levels of ethics. They value ethical behavior. The Israeli Army is called the Israel Defense Forces – the IDF – for that very reason. Its purpose sine qua non is defense. The IDF has extremely high standards and speaks of the concept of tohar neshek, the purity of arms. Weapons are pure only when used to protect – not to abuse.

There are exceptions, but not this time. The killing of Qasem Soleimani is a perfect example of the United States acting ethically to defend itself and its allies. And for that bold act, we should say thank you.
Iran Has Spies Across U.S., Officials Warn After Tehran Posts $3M Bounty on Trump
Following Iran's announcement of a three million dollar bounty for the assassination of President Donald Trump, U.S. officials and terrorism experts are warning that Tehran has significantly expanded its terror capabilities in America, potentially allowing the Islamic Republic to conduct a domestic attack.

Iranian lawmakers announced on Tuesday that they would pay a "three million dollar award in cash to whoever kills Trump."

The bounty is the latest in a series of increasingly direct threats by Tehran. It has renewed concerns about the Islamic Republic's vast terrorism network, which stretches into the continental United States, U.S. officials and experts told the Washington Free Beacon.

While Iran has failed to pull off a strike in America, it is seen as having the resources necessary to do so. Several Iranian Americans have been arrested in recent years and charged with surveilling potential terror sites for a strike.

Iran's capabilities stretch beyond lone wolves and sleeper cells stationed in America. Iranian terror proxies such as Hezbollah have long operated across Latin America, including along the U.S. southern border. Iran also has established a network of individuals tied to its Quds Force, a wing of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) that specializes in unconventional warfare, sources said.

Mashhad Friday Sermon: Iran Must Fight America like a Goat Fights a Predator Wolf
In a Friday sermon delivered in the Iranian city of Mashhad on January 17, 2020, Ayatollah Ahmad Alamolhoda said that Iran’s long-range accurate missiles can target the palaces of emirs and kings of countries that host U.S. military bases and that the presence of these bases is dangerous for these countries. He said that the Islamic Revolution is about to remove “the structure of arrogance” from the face of the Earth, and he compared Iran to a herd of sheep that is attacked by the “predatory wolf” that is America. He said that Iran must fight America like a goat fights off wolves with its horns. The sermon was aired on Khorasan Razavi TV (Iran).

Rouhani: Iran will never seek nuclear weapons, with or without deal
Iran's president told European powers on Wednesday not to copy the United States by undermining Tehran's strained nuclear pact with world powers, and said Tehran would not seek nuclear weapons whether or not the deal survived.

Britain, France and Germany launched a dispute mechanism in the 2015 nuclear deal this month, accusing Iran of violating the deal that has become increasingly frayed since Washington pulled out in 2018 and then reimposed sanctions on Tehran.

The dispute mechanism could ultimately lead to the case being referred to the UN Security Council to restore UN sanctions. Iranian officials have threatened a range of steps if this should happen, including quitting the 2015 deal or even withdrawing from the 1968 Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), basis for global nuclear arms control since the Cold War.

Iran has gradually rolled back its commitments under the 2015 deal, arguing that it has a right to do so because European countries failed to protect it from US sanctions.

This month, the escalating crisis briefly flared into a military exchange between Iran and the United States.
Macron vows to go tough on Iran as Rouhani warns Europe not to violate nuke deal
French President Emmanuel Macron on Wednesday vowed to be tough with Iran on its nuclear program, as the Islamic Republic’s president warned that it would hold Europe responsible if the 2015 atomic deal collapses.

In a meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem, the Israeli leader called on Macron to increase pressure on Iran, including the imposition of sanctions following the Islamic Republic’s recent steps back from the pact and its ongoing conventional aggression.

According to Hebrew-language media, Macron responded by saying: “Iran will not have a nuclear bomb. We will not be flexible on the matter.”

Meanwhile, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani claimed his country would never seek to acquire nuclear arms, warning European countries not to violate the terms of the nuclear deal, as the United States — and Iran itself — have done.

“We have never sought nuclear weapons… With or without the nuclear deal we will never seek nuclear weapons,” Rouhani said in a statement on his website, according to the Reuters news agency.

“The European powers will be responsible for the consequences of violating the pact,” he added.
Iranian commander gunned down in front of his own home
Iranian Basij forces commander Abdolhossein Mojaddami was gunned down in front of his own home on Wednesday in the Khuzestan province of Iran, news agency IRNA reported.

The Basij forces, one of the five forces of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corp (IRGC), are often used to suppress protests and demonstrations in the Islamic Republic.

He was killed by two men who wore masks and were riding a motorcycle, Iranian media reported.
Iranian security forces are investigating the matter.
U.S. Helps Iranian Protesters Bypass Regime Censorship
Iranian opposition leaders said on Monday that protests against the regime are ongoing, with helpful assistance from U.S. initiatives to provide hardware and software that allows Iranians to bypass Internet censorship from their repressive government.

The Financial Times reported on Monday that the U.S. government stepped up its efforts to help Iranians bypass regime censorship after massive protests rocked Iran in late 2018:

The US-supported measures include providing apps, servers and other technology to help people communicate, visit banned websites, install anti-tracking software and navigate data shutdowns. Many Iranians rely on virtual private networks (VPNs) that receive US funding or are beamed in with US support, not knowing they are relying on Washington-backed tools.

“We work with technological companies to help free flow of information and provide circumvention tools that helped in [last week’s] protest,” a second US state department official told the FT. “We are able to sponsor VPNs — and that allows Iranians to use the internet.”
U.K.-Based Iranian Researcher Dr. Alireza Nourizadeh: Khamenei Has Lost Control over Iran
U.K.-based Iranian researcher Dr. Alireza Nourizadeh said in a January 14, 2020 interview on Al-Arabiya Network (Saudi Arabia) that Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is responsible for the internal war in Iran and for concealing the truth about Iran’s role in downing Ukrainian Airlines Flight 752 and in killing 1,500 Iranians in the November 2019 riots. He said that Khamenei lost the “war” in Iran when the public called for his resignation and chanted slogans such as “Khamenei is a traitor!” and “Death to Khamenei!” Dr. Nourizadeh added that Khamenei is no longer in control of Iran.

AFC Moves Champions League Matches Out of Iran
The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) has shifted two preliminary matches in its elite club competition from Iran to neutral venues because of security concerns, Asian soccer’s governing body said on Wednesday.

Shahr Khodro FC were scheduled to host Bahrain’s Riffa and Esteghlal FC were set to play Kuwait SC on Tuesday but both Asian Champions League matches were postponed after several governments issued warnings against traveling to Iran.

“To help facilitate the switch to neutral venues, which has been approved by the relevant AFC committees, the AFC will now reschedule the games to January 25, 2020 in the United Arab Emirates,” the AFC said in a statement.

Local media reported that the four Iranian clubs in the competition, including Persepolis and Sepahan, had said they would refuse to play if they cannot host games in the country.

The move comes after Iranian forces shot down a Ukraine International Airlines jet in error on Jan. 8, killing all 176 onboard amid tensions following the assassination by the United States of prominent general Qassem Suleimani.
Anti-War Activists Pat Themselves on the Back for Preventing War With Iran (satire)
As the United States prepared to invade Iran earlier this month, many worried that the world was about to spiral hopelessly out of control. American President Donald J. Trump finally seemed poised to start another aggressive war of choice and finally fulfill his longstanding plan to destabilize literally the entire world. But luckily, the rules-based international order had a group of stalwart defenders who kept the mushroom clouds from blooming: the brave men and women of the American anti-war movement.

“If it were not for us, we are absolutely certain that Trump would have reversed his deescalatory measures and bombed Iran,” said Stephen Wertheim of the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, a new Washington anti-war think tank. “But we swung into action and were able to stop him. President Trump’s insane foreign policy and inexorable imperial decline are no match for an organization with 8,000 Twitter followers. We issued a press release and within days there were over six protesters on the White House lawn. After we forced Trump to give up on his war plans, we all went for a great brunch in NoMa and talked about the op-eds we are going to write about our success.”

Stephen Miles, the executive director of the pro-peace group Win Without War, agrees that the actions of the anti-war movement were decisive. “In 2003, the US invaded Iraq, which I can’t stop talking about because of a verbal tic,” Miles told The Mideast Beast. “But now, nearly 0.7% of Americans have heard the name of our think tank, according to the recent survey we commissioned. Do you really think that Americans have an appetite for regime change now that they know a better alternative is out there?”

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