Wednesday, March 11, 2020

From Ian:

Trump abolishes controversial language on Jerusalem in new human rights report
The Trump administration will no longer refer to Arab residents of Jerusalem as Palestinians, Israel Hayom has learned.

In a new human rights report released on Wednesday, the US for the first time calls the Arab residents of the capital "non-Israeli residents who live in Jerusalem."

The annual State Department report evaluates the state of human rights across the world. It has a chapter dealing with the situation in Judea and Samaria and Jerusalem. In recent years its terminology has changed regarding those areas.

Two years ago, the report decided to omit the term "occupied" in reference to Judea and Samaria, and last year the report included strong rebukes of the Palestinian Authority and Hamas over their violation of human rights rather than just over Israel's record.

The administration's latest decision is in keeping with its principled stance of sticking to the truth and facts on the ground. The administration told Israel Hayom that the new definition of Arab residents in east Jerusalem reflects the reality in the capital,: On the one hand the Arab residents are not Israeli citizens but on the other hand, there is no Palestinian state either, and hence they cannot be considered Palestinian citizens.

In one paragraph dealing with the shortage of classrooms in the city, the report refers to Arab citizens in east Jerusalem without using the word "Palestinian" to describe their lack of Israeli citizenship: "Based on population data from the Central Bureau of Statistics, the NGO Ir Amim estimated in previous years a shortage of 2,500 classrooms for non-Israeli children resident in East Jerusalem and 18,600 non-Israeli children in Jerusalem were not enrolled in any school."

A senior administration official told Israel Hayom that "the goal of this report is to maximize accuracy. Being accurate and factual has been the hallmark of this administration's foreign policy."

The UN’s Selective Outrage on Occupied Territories
Here the contrast in the UN’s policies is extraordinary: these same companies offer services in the settlement projects of other disputed and occupied territories but are subject to no condemnation for this activity. Most of Israel’s settlements are on public lands, and the tourism services are offered there for new homes built after Israel’s conquest of the territory. However, in contrast, in other conflict zones Airbnb,, TripAdvisor openly advertise homes and services in the homes of actual refugees.

In fact, these sites advertise specific dwellings that belonged to Azerbaijani refugees driven from their homes in Nagorno-Karabakh, a territory under Armenian occupation since the early 1990s. Some of the original property owners have identified their homes in advertisements placed by Armenian settlers on Airbnb and other tourism sites.

Armenia has an extensive settlement project in its territories of Azerbaijan that it occupies. However, in contrast to Israel’s control of the West Bank, where the Palestinian population has been able to stay in their homes, Armenia expelled over 700,000 Azerbaijanis when it invaded the territories. This happened in 1992-1994, not generations ago. Armenia’s expulsion of the Azerbaijanis is the largest population expulsion in Europe since the end of World War II, yet is hardly known in the international system.

If the UN Human Right Office indeed wants to promote peace and be taken seriously as such, it should include in in the UN Human Rights Office database the business activity of all occupied territories and protracted conflicts. This would be a sign that it is truly interested in solving territorial disputes everywhere, not just one.

In fact, when it issued its blacklist, the UN Human Rights Office may have inadvertently opened the flood gates. In today’s interconnected world, aggrieved parties are keenly aware of developments in other protracted conflicts. They will want to know why the world’s most prominent multilateral organization is willing to apply sanctions in one protracted conflict, but not others. The UN Human Rights Office must now be prepared to explain why some occupations are inconsequential, but only Israel’s control of the West Bank is deserving of a blacklist.
UK MPs to Palestinian schools: stop using books inciting against Israel
Palestinian Authority and UNRWA schools continue to use textbooks that radicalize children against Israel, parliamentarians in the UK, a major donor to the PA, lamented on Tuesday.

MP Jonathan Gullis, who initiated the debate with Minister of State James Cleverly, displayed a reading comprehension textbook for 10-year-olds that praised Dalal al-Mughrabi, who killed 38 Israelis including 13 children, on a bus in 1978.

Gullis cited research by IMPACT-se, a research institute analyzing textbooks, which reviewed 202 such books from the current Palestinian curriculum, finding “a systematic insertion of violence, martyrdom and jihad across all grades and subjects, where the possibility of peace with Israel is rejected.”

MP Stephen Crabb questioned “why there has been so little progress” in removing incitement from textbooks, pointing out that “concerns have been constantly raised by members across parties in this house about the use of inciteful language in textbooks – which, whether directly or indirectly, UK aid has helped to finance.”

Labour Friends of Israel chairman MP Steve McCabe said: “I strongly support a two-state solution – and it is precisely because of that support that I believe it is imperative that we tackle the issue of radicalization in the Palestinian school curriculum.

The textbooks “seek to pass on old hatreds and prejudices to a new generation of young people,” McCabe added. “It’s a barrier to reconciliation and coexistence, is pernicious and simply unacceptable.”

PMW: PA deceives Palestinians: Claims Israel fabricated terror attack, despite video
After a Palestinian terrorist recently tried to stab an Israeli Arab soldier at the Israeli checkpoint at the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron, official Palestinian Authority TV repeated the libel that Israeli soldiers place knives on the ground to fake stabbing attacks. PA TV claimed this although the stabbing attack the day before was captured on video:
Official PA TV reporter: "The occupation leaders' orders were to create a scenario of stabbing operations (i.e., terror attacks), which the [Israeli] soldiers did not prepare well, because the [Palestinian] activists have documented several soldiers' attempts to place the knife on the ground."
[Official PA TV News, Feb. 18, 2020]

Palestinian Media Watch exposed that the PA lied in the same way last year when two 14-year-old Palestinians exited the Temple Mount and stabbed and attempted to murder an Israeli policeman. Despite the fact that video footage from the attack clearly shows the two Palestinians attacking the policeman with knives, official PA TV reported that the young Palestinians had been "summarily executed."

During the Palestinian wave of terror 2015-2016, also coined “the Knife Intifada” due to the many Palestinian stabbing attacks, PMW exposed the PA’s attempt to portray the Palestinian terrorist stabbers as “innocent” claiming Israel was fabricating the many attacks in order to “execute” Palestinians:

PMW was later able to document that the PA itself admitted that 161 Palestinians did carry out stabbing attacks during the Palestinian terror wave of 2015-2016.

The recent attempted stabbing was carried out by a Palestinian terrorist who attempted to smuggle a knife into the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron on Feb. 17, 2020. When an Israeli Arab border policeman at the checkpoint became suspicious and asked to check him, the terrorist attempted to stab the border policeman. The attack was thwarted and the terrorist arrested.

The following is a longer excerpt of the PA TV report on the alleged faked stabbing attack:
Official PA TV reporter: "The sight of the many [Palestinian] citizens passing through the checkpoints without hesitation or fear did not please the most extreme settler leaders… Accordingly, the occupation leaders' orders were to create a scenario of stabbing operations (i.e., terror attacks), which the [Israeli] soldiers did not prepare well, because the [Palestinian] activists have documented several soldiers' attempts to place the knife on the ground."
[Official PA TV News, Feb. 18, 2020]

Despite coronavirus, RJC conference with Trump speaking to go ahead
As events around the world are canceled because of the coronavirus, at least one major Jewish gathering is going forward: this weekend’s Republican Jewish Coalition conference in Las Vegas.

The annual event, which is scheduled to feature an address by President Donald Trump, drew a crowd of nearly 1,500 last year.

Matt Brooks, the coalition’s executive director, said he expects “a strong showing” this year, too, despite the emerging epidemic that has canceled conferences, shuttered synagogues and effectively closed Israel to travelers. He said about 10% of those who signed up had pulled out but would not say how many people had registered.

“The marketplace is determining whether we continue with the event,” Brooks told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. “We’re not forcing anyone to come.”

As Jewish groups and leaders grapple with their coronavirus response, political allies of the Trump administration must weigh more than just public safety and sentiment. They also must face the fact that Trump himself has been downplaying concerns, including those expressed by top public health officials, and for the most part continuing with his regular public appearances and handshakes.
UK health minister has coronavirus; she helped write the rules to fight it
British MP Nadine Dorries, a minister in the health department, has tested positive for coronavirus, she said in a statement on Tuesday, raising concerns about whether senior government figures have been infected.

“I can confirm I have tested positive for coronavirus… and have been self-isolating at home,” said the Conservative MP.

Health officials are now trying to trace where she contracted the virus and who she has been in contact with, she added.

Six people have died in Britain from the virus, with more than 370 confirmed cases.

Dorries, who helped craft the legislation to fight the bug, is the first British politician to be diagnosed with COVID-19.

The Times reported that she had been in touch with hundreds of people, including Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

She became unwell on Friday while signing the document that declared coronavirus a notifiable disease, meaning companies could obtain insurance cover, said the paper, adding she was now believed to be on the road to recovery.
Israeli teen badly wounded in rock-throwing attack
A 14-year-old resident of Samaria is hospitalized at Schneider Children's Medical Center in Petah Tikva after he was wounded in a rock-throwing attack on Tuesday night.

The teen was in an induced coma and on a ventilator with serious wounds to his head, a broken skull, and internal bleeding. He was slated to undergo surgery early Wednesday afternoon.

Overnight Tuesday, the teen's condition went downhill, but on Wednesday morning he stabilized and was listed in moderate condition.

From initial reports, the incident occurred when the teen was riding in a car on Purim Eve with a number of other Jewish residents of the area. The car stopped at a traffic roundabout on the road that leads to hilltop outposts, and the teen and his brother got out and started dancing to Purim music. According to reports from the Samaria Regional Council, a number of young Palestinians pulled up alongside them and began cursing and assaulting the teens. The fracas attracted more Palestinians, and the incident escalated.

Both the Israel Police and the IDF said it is unclear who began the fight and that damaged cars had been spotted throughout the Palestinian village of Hawara. Security forces also said the Jewish boys had been drunk.

Samaria Regional Council head Yossi Dagan called the attack "an attempted anti-Semitic murder, and a hate crime in every aspect."

Suspect indicted for attempted murder in Jerusalem ramming that hurt 12 soldiers
Prosecutors on Wednesday indicted Sanad al-Turman on terror charges of attempted murder for a car-ramming attack last month that injured a dozen Israeli soldiers in Jerusalem.

The indictment says that in the predawn hours of February 6, Turman rammed his car into a group of Golani soldiers standing on Jerusalem’s David Remez Street outside the First Station, a popular entertainment hub in the capital, injuring 12 of them.

The army said the soldiers were members of the Golani Brigade who were at the First Station during a “heritage tour” ahead of an early morning swearing-in ceremony at the Western Wall.

According to the indictment, Turman noticed soldiers marching during their trip, “slowing down his speed and traveling alongside the soldiers and contemplating carrying out a ramming attack,” before realizing he would not be successful, so he drove off.

However, six minutes later, he returned to the scene and decided to run over the soldiers. “He pressed the gas pedal, accelerated his speed and directed his vehicle toward the soldiers,” that were already on the ground, the indictment charged.

Coronavirus: Health ministry urges Israelis not to enter PA territories
The Israeli Ministry of Health on Wednesday called on all Israeli citizens and foreign tourists not to enter the Palestinian Authority-controlled territories in order to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, and out of concern for the public’s health.

The ministry said the decision was taken after the discovery of coronavirus cases in Bethlehem, Bet Jala and Tulkarem.

The ministry also called for avoiding public gatherings, including religious congregations, in the PA territories.

Meanwhile, the PA government announced on Wednesday morning that no new cases of coronavirus have been detected in the past few hours. It said the health condition of the 30 patients infected with the virus remains stable, adding that 20 of them were males while the remaining 10 were females.

PA government spokesman Ibrahim Milhem said 3,639 Palestinians were in home isolation. They include 2,950 in Bethlehem, 500 in Hebron and the rest are in Ramallah, Nablus, Tulkarem and Kalkilya.
A tale of two Israeli leaders
The American plan addresses the failures of the ill-conceived Oslo Accords and recognizes Israel’s growing strength as the only democracy in the Middle East, while offering the Palestinian Authority a $50 billion incentive program and a path towards statehood—if and only if they enforce democratic principles and meet Israeli security requirements, including the cessation of all forms of incitement and terror financing, and complete demilitarization.

Gantz gave his tepid approval to U.S. President Donald Trump in a private meeting ahead of the plan’s rollout, yet his left-wing and anti-Zionist political partners have outright rejected the plan and the application of Israeli sovereignty over any of the disputed territories. In fact, Joint List leaders have publicly conditioned their endorsement of Gantz for the premiership on his agreement not to advance Israeli sovereignty.

So Gantz told Trump he would support the Peace to Prosperity plan, and also told the Israeli electorate and even his own MKs that he would not form a government with the support of the Arab parties. In addition, two of Gantz’s closest advisers have repeatedly likened Trump to Adolf Hitler, while another, recently fired adviser was caught on tape saying that Gantz would pose a danger to the country if he becomes prime minister.

His word at this point should carry little weight with the public, members of his own party, and certainly with Israel’s greatest ally, the Trump administration.

And as Netanyahu has galvanized the support of a record number of Israelis this past election, and now is gaining the support of world leaders who desperately need help in containing a sudden pandemic, Gantz has been busy dividing the Israeli public and even the members of his own party by reneging on fundamental campaign promises and spreading dangerous and toxic rhetoric.

It’s a good thing for Israel and the world that the man leading the charge against coronavirus is the tested and proven Netanyahu, and not the inconsistent and inexperienced Gantz. And with Blue and White MKs bucking their party leader by rejecting any alliance with anti-Zionist parties, the chances Netanyahu will continue as Israel’s longest-serving prime minister have improved dramatically.

JPost Editorial: Rivlin’s time
It is time for Israel to have real leadership, not this cycle of elections that makes a mockery of the democratic process and insults the voters.

There is a looming budgetary crisis, Iran’s continued efforts to attack Israel and, of course, the novel coronavirus, whose impact on Israel and its economy is still unknown.

Foreign powers are wondering what is wrong with Israel and asking themselves if it can be trusted and counted on when there is no stable government in Jerusalem. The way the peace process has become a short-term political football, with calls to annex this or that part of the West Bank for a handful of votes, shows how Israel’s future is being mortgaged for the interests of a few months of electoral campaigning.

Is this the legacy of David Ben-Gurion and Theodor Herzl? Rivlin now has a chance to speak to the higher values that underpin the state and make clear how this situation cannot go on. He might give the mandate to Gantz or Netanyahu – or maybe to someone else who he predicts has a chance of pulling Israel out of the mud.

We have to avoid the circus of yet another election that benefits only the egos of a few people in the Knesset – who sadly have shown over the last 15 months that the nine million people in this country are not their first priority.
The Joint Arab List's chutzpah
Here it is, earlier than expected. As the country celebrates Purim, the masks have come off: the Joint Arab List is demanding that when Blue and White forms a government, it put an end to Jews visiting the Temple Mount. Or as the Arab Israeli and Palestinian discourse has referred to these visits for years now: "Visit by settler extremists."

That is how they refer to Jews who wear kippahs, who comprise the vast majority of the Jews who visit the Temple Mount in recent years.

The Joint Arab List's appetite and audacity, it seems, knows no bounds. The list is counting its chickens before they're hatched and is seeking to prevent one of the last remaining things the status quo allows Jews to do on the Temple Mount – visit it. This is only the beginning, but what a symbolic beginning it is.

The fact that the Jewish people have risen up in the Land of Israel is like a bone in their throats, and the fact that 53 years ago, Israel liberated holy Jewish sites – first and foremost the Temple Mount - they see as a major accident of history, but one that can be rectified. This is the reason behind the many attempts in recent years to attack Jews who visit the Mount. This also explains the terminology that the Palestinians and some members of the Joint Arab List use: "To save/liberate and redeem the Temple Mount from the hands of the Jews who sully it by their very presence there."

Some of the Joint Arab List MKs talk about the "Israeli people," much like the Palestinians do. They don't recognize Israel as the national homeland of the Jewish people. The idea of tolerating Judaism as a subservient minority religion has been replaced by the idea of "a state of all its citizens," and often this is only the first step of a much longer-term plan.

The idea of a "state of all its citizens" has a handful of blind followers on the far Left, but we need to hope that Blue and White will now open its eyes and see that the Temple Mount is only the first step and that the flag has been raised to erase the "mistake" of a state for the Jewish people.
Isi Leibler: Candidly Speaking: Hatred endangers our democracy
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu confounded his adversaries and proved that he may be the world’s most consummate politician. Despite an ongoing media campaign of demonization and facing serious indictments, the third election in less than a year – and one which had the highest voter turnout since 2015 – gave his right-wing bloc 58 seats. The left-wing bloc led by Blue and White under the leadership of Benny Gantz together with Labor-Gesher-Meretz was only able to secure 40 seats, 9% less than in the previous election.

In a fractured Knesset, with the anti-Zionist, Arab-majority Joint List winning an unprecedented 15 seats and Avigdor Liberman’s Yisrael Beytenu essentially moving the support of right-wing voters out of the right-wing bloc, the strong vote in favor of a Netanyahu-led government represents a tremendous achievement.

If Yisrael Beytenu, which purports to be a right-wing party, would agree to join a Netanyahu-led coalition, Netanyahu would be forming a government reflecting the will of the people. Instead, Liberman, motivated solely by obsessive personal hatred of Netanyahu, is pursuing a vendetta and acting out of malice. Unlike in the previous elections, he is now not even pretending that ideology and the welfare of the State of Israel are considerations. All means are justified, no matter the cost, to oust Netanyahu.

The other significant change in this election is the rise of the Joint List. Until this week, it would have been inconceivable that a Zionist party would even contemplate forming a government relying on the support of those identifying with Hamas and Hezbollah or praising heinous acts of terrorism. Only days before the election, Gantz declared that the goal of Blue and White was to get a Jewish majority in order to form a government. However, following the collapse of his supporter base in the elections, he has called Netanyahu a racist for referring to a Zionist majority.
Bereaved families call coalition with Joint Arab List 'treason'
Relatives of fallen soldiers and casualties of terrorism demonstrated outside the President's Residence in Jerusalem on Tuesday against Blue and White's intention to seek the help of the Joint Arab List to establish a minority government.

The demonstrators intend to continue their protest until next week at least, when representatives of all the political parties in Israel are scheduled to hold meetings with President Reuven Rivlin prior to his deciding which MK he will appoint to form the next government.

Meirav Hajaj, the mother of the late Lt. Shir Hajaj, who was murdered in a car-ramming attack at the Armon Hanatziv promenade in Jerusalem in 2017, was among the demonstrators.

Hajaj said, "We are crying out to the president, but mainly to the members of Blue and White. Anyone who considers themselves a Zionist party can't form a government that rests on support from the Joint Arab List."

"Three [former] chiefs of staff who were fully confident in giving our children orders are setting up a government with supporters of terrorism, who support the murder of soldiers. That makes no sense. To me, it seems absurd. I can't accept it. This makes something unacceptable palatable, and it mustn't be done under any circumstances."

Hajaj stressed she urged every Knesset member to read the Joint Arab List's party platform before agreeing to join them in a governing coalition: "They don't hide the fact that they don't want a Jewish state," she said.

PreOccupiedTerritory: Pollsters Already Surveying Voters For Fifth, Sixth Elections (satire)
Political and statistical groups confirmed today they intend to get a head start on the inevitable multiple rounds of parliamentary elections in Israel’s short-term future, and have begun formulating questions and identifying target groups to sample so they can hit the ground running when the current stalemate results in a new inconclusive contest in the fall, followed by at least two others next year.

Market research and political consultant organizations disclosed Wednesday that a fourth round of elections in August or September this year has all but become assured, given the inability of either major political bloc to achieve a majority of the Knesset’s 120 lawmakers for a governing coalition, and that the situation will in all likelihood persist through fifth and sixth rounds – sometime at the beginning of 2021 and then again toward June. As such, the pollsters and consultants have already structured their calendars to account for the surveying, statistics, and analysis work they will perform before, during, and after those times.

“We’re looking at two more or less certain rounds of elections,” stated Cora Layshin of Geocartographia. “The surprising stamina of the electorate through the first three runs signals that Israel has a good bit of political fight left in its conflicting factions, and this could, according to some models, take us through the next two, two-and-a-half years with a caretaker government. It’s still somewhat early to predict what will happen after the middle of 2021, but we shouldn’t be too surprised if the status quo extends beyond that.”
Palestinian youth killed in clashes with IDF troops near Nablus
A Palestinian youth was killed and over a dozens more injured by Israeli fire during violent clashes near Nablus in the West Bank on early Wednesday morning.

"Some 500 Palestinians took part in a violent disturbance of the peace near the village of Beta,” the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit said in a statement. “The rioters hurled stones at IDF soldiers and burned tires,” the army added it is investigating the report saying a Palestinian was killed and several other were wounded in the incident.

The 15 year-old teenager,identified by the Palestinian Health Ministry as Mohammad Hamayel, died in hospital after he was hit in the head with live ammunition shot by IDF troops near a fortress at an archealogical site near the town of Beita.

The WAFA Palestinian News Agency quoted the spokesman for the Health Ministry, Tarif Ashour, as confirming that another 17 Palestinians were brought to the Rafidia Government Hospital treated for medical treatment after being injured in the clashes, including two in serious condition.

According to a report in Haaretz, the clashes broke out around 5.30 ahead when IDF troops came to remove a group of Palestinian protesters ahead of a tour by Israeli settlers to the fortress which reportedly dates back to the Hasmonean era.
Why the arrest of this Palestinian matters
You probably have never heard the name Hussam Khader. But you should. Because what's happening to him has extremely important ramifications for Israel and for Middle East peace.

Khader, 59, is a leader of Fatah (the main component of the PLO) and an elected member of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC). The council was established as part of the 1993 Oslo accords. Former Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin understood that transforming Palestinian Arab society from authoritarianism to democracy was one of the most crucial ingredients for durable and meaningful peace. So Israel insisted that the Oslo agreement include the establishment of a number of democratic agencies and mechanisms, including a democratically elected legislative council.

Many pundits have strongly criticized the notion that the United States should pursue "regime change" around the world. One can argue that America doesn't have the resources for such a mission; however, the concept behind "regime change" is sound, and always was. The concept is based on the fact that democracies almost never make war against fellow democracies. Nearly every major war you can think of in modern times was started by a dictator.

Written off by many as just another military man, Rabin recognized that the process of overhauling Palestinian Arab society would be complicated and take a long time. But he also knew that the only way to permit the Palestinian Authority to run its own regime just a few miles from major Israeli cities was to be sure that it would not become yet another aggressive authoritarian entity.
Why is the Gaza Strip calm these days? Hamas knows the answer
The recent relative calm on Israel's southern border is a result of progress in talks between Hamas and Israel, senior Hamas officials in the Gaza Strip said Tuesday.

The officials also noted that the novel coronavirus outbreak, as well as the political processes that have followed the March 2 Knesset election, are also factors.

The Hamas officials confirmed that a visit to Cairo by a delegation made up of representatives of various Palestinian factions, which came on the heels of the most recent spike in violence between Israel and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, also played a part in calming the situation and allowing negotiations for a long-term ceasefire to proceed.

Hamas and the other terrorist factions in Gaza are also worried that in the case of any rocket attacks launched from the Gaza Strip against southern Israel, arson balloons, or violent clashes on the border, Israel would take advantage of the world's focus on the COVID-19 outbreak to carry out massive airstrikes in Gaza, and possibly assassinate terrorist leaders.

Other officials in Hamas are denying that the quiet on the southern front stems from any desire by Hamas to "avoid ruining" a possible change of government in Israel.

A Hamas figure who spoke to Israel Hayom said: "Any political change in Israel would directly affect us. A new government in Israel would freeze steps such as the transfer of Qatari funds [to Gaza], as well as attempts to reach a long-term ceasefire. We have no interest in this. As far as we are concerned, a new government in Israel would push us back.

The Big Iran Threat Is Nukes, Not Coronavirus
Michael Rubin interviewed by Tobin Harshaw

Michael Rubin: "I do not foresee a [nuclear] breakout attempt in the near term. Rather, Iranian leaders would try to develop as much of a bomb program as they could without crossing that line....Even if Iran does develop a nuclear weapon down the road, I don't think they are suicidal. Rather, the nightmare scenario is that the regime might become terminally ill."

"If there is a spark in Iran that leads to mass protests such as those of 1999, 2001, 2009 and in recent years, but the security forces join in and turn on the regime, the situation could become very dangerous. Custody of any nuclear weapon would likely be with a specially-vetted unit of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps....It is conceivable that they could use their nuclear weapon against enemies near or far."

"Regime change is coming to Iran and it won't have anything to do with the U.S. Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei is 80 years old, has acknowledged having had cancer, and is partially paralyzed from a 1981 assassination attempt. A lot of the old guard have died....The key to any positive change in Iran is to fracture and temper the Revolutionary Guards."

Pompeo Demands Return of Bob Levinson, US Citizen Kidnapped by Iranians in 2007
Marking the thirteenth anniversary of the seizure and disappearance in Iran of US citizen Robert Levinson, the State Department peremptorily dismissed the Tehran’s regime claim to have no knowledge of his whereabouts.

“For 13 years, the Iranian government has denied knowledge of his whereabouts or condition, a claim that defies credibility,” US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement about the plight of Levinson — who is Jewish — on Monday.

A retired FBI agent from the Miami area who was working as a private contractor, Levinson was kidnapped on the Iranian island of Kish in the Persian Gulf on March 9, 2007, and is now the longest-held American captive in history.

“Mr. Levinson’s family, including grandchildren he has never met, has borne an unimaginable burden of uncertainty and hardship throughout this time,” Pompeo said.

The secretary of state emphasized that Iran “must honor the commitment it has made to work with the United States for Mr. Levinson’s return. International norms, respect for human rights, and basic human decency demand no less.”
BBC News misleads on “limits” on Iranian nuclear programme
The IAEA is of course not merely “a global watchdog”: it is autonomous organisation within the United Nations system and it is charged with verifying Iran’s compliance with the JCPOA.

The report goes on:
“It is not clear what IAEA inspectors suspect might have happened at them.

But it is thought the activities took place in the early 2000s.

That is long before Iran struck a landmark deal with world powers that placed limits on its nuclear programme in return for the lifting of sanctions.”

That framing whitewashes the fact that Iran ratified the nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT) in 1970, that the IAEA found Iran to be non-compliant in 2005, that the UN Security Council imposed sanctions on Iran in 2006, passed a related resolution in 2007, another in 2008 and another in 2010. In other words, the BBC’s suggestion that “limits” on the Iranian nuclear programme only came into effect after the JCPOA was agreed is inaccurate and misleading.

Later in the report readers find the inevitable BBC amplification of the claim that “Iran insists its nuclear programme is exclusively for peaceful purposes” and a misleading map which has appeared in previous BBC reports. Only in the article’s final sentences are they told that:

“Despite Iran’s denials, evidence collected by the IAEA suggests that until 2003 the country conducted “a range of activities relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device”. Some of those activities allegedly continued until 2009.”
Iranian Ex-President Ahmadinejad Demands WHO ‘Identify Lab That Produced' Chinese Virus
Former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad wrote a letter to World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on Tuesday demanding that WHO allocate resources immediately to find “the lab that produced, and the elements that spread” the Wuhan coronavirus, “as well as other centers that supported the biologic [sic] war.”

“Needless to say that transparent, public, and unbiased dissemination of information regarding the perpetrators of the anti-human crime is an important factor in controlling the anti-human weapon,” Ahmadinejad wrote.

“I have no doubts that with the public mobilization of the nations and governments, and the human society, the criminals will be isolated and this will immune [sic] the humans from the ill-wishers of transgression and hegemony,” he said.

Ahmadinejad wanted “those perpetrating a biologic war on nations” to be held accountable for the “heavy damage and costs” they have inflicted upon Iran “despite the sacrificial efforts of its medical, healthcare, and logistic staff in fighting the very wild and invasive phenomenon.”

Ahmadinejad became Iran’s president in 2005, won re-election in 2009, and was replaced by current President Hassan Rouhani in 2013. He tried to run for the presidency again in 2017 but was disqualified by the Guardian Council, a group of senior Iranian clerics that reviews all candidates for public office and disqualifies many of them before anyone gets to vote.

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


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