Saturday, July 04, 2020

From Ian:

Why Jordan Shields Terrorist Ahlam Tamimi From Extradition to US
A small group of Republican members of Congress have been trying to right a great wrong by demanding that Jordan extradite Sbarro massacre mastermind Ahlam Tamimi to the United States. But as a proud and unrepentant murderer of Jews — including two American citizens — Ahlam Tamimi has many admirers, and it unfortunately seems that the Jordanian government has no interest in turning over this unrepentant terrorist.

This case not only reveals a lot about the continuing glorification of terrorism against Israel in the Middle East, but it also provides a depressing example that appeasing extremists is perhaps all too often regarded as prudent policy and diplomacy.

Tamimi, who planned and facilitated the 2001 suicide bombing that killed 15 people, including 7 children, and injured 130 at a Sbarro restaurant in Jerusalem, has enjoyed the life of a celebrity ever since she was released in the controversial 2011 deal Israel struck in order to free Hamas hostage Gilad Shalit.

As reported on the Islamist website MEMO, Ahlam’s release was a reason to celebrate for the Tamimi clan of the West Bank village Nabi Saleh — not least because another terrorist member of the clan was also released, and the murderous couple got married in Amman, Jordan. Right after her release, Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal met with her in Cairo, and when she arrived in Jordan, she received a hero’s welcome, including a reception in her honor at the Jordanian Law Court building.

Tamimi’s status as a Palestinian “hero” made it easy for her to start a TV career hosting a show that glorified Palestinian terrorists, and she reportedly got to travel “widely and often within Jordan and to numerous Arab countries — including repeat visits to Algeria, Kuwait, Lebanon, Qatar, Tunisia and Yemen — speaking to school and university groups, trade unions, and on TV — boasting of her central role in the massacre, of the high death toll and of her intention to kill Jewish children.”

Some three years ago, when the US first demanded Tamimi’s extradition after it was announced that she was on the FBI’s list of Most Wanted Terrorists, she responded by proudly displaying her extremist Islamist views in an interview with a site that promotes the ideology of the Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood. She declared that, “Our war with the Zionist enemy is an ideological war from the days of the Prophet Muhammad to now.”

Obviously enough, there were no “Zionists” in the days of Muhammad — which means that what Tamimi actually claims is that murderous Jew-hatred is an integral part of Islam. Needless to say, this is a view that would normally be rejected as Islamophobic, and it would surely appall the Muslim faith leaders who have recently taken welcome steps to “foster a new era in Muslim-Jewish relations.”

Families of US Troops Killed in Jordan Call for Cutting Aid Until Terrorists Extradited
The families of three US soldiers killed several years ago in Jordan are calling on Congress to suspend foreign aid to the US ally unless the country extradites their killer, as well as another terrorist wanted for a 2001 attack in Israel.

Marek al-Tuwayha is serving a life sentence for murdering the members of the US Special Forces on Nov. 4, 2016 at King Faisal Air Base. However, the AP recently reported that he might be released in 20 years.

The families of the men—Staff Sgt. Matthew Lewellen of Missouri, Staff Sgt. Kevin McEnroe of Arizona and Staff Sgt. James Moriarty of Texas—are also taking part in an effort to push for the extradition of Ahlam Tamimi from Jordan, where she has found safe haven.

Tamimi was convicted in Israel of helping mastermind the 2001 Sbarro pizzeria bombing in Jerusalem in which 15 civilians were killed, including seven children. Two of the victims were American: Malka Chana (Malki) Roth, 15, and Shoshana Yehudit (Judy) Greenbaum, 31, who was pregnant.

At the time, Tamimi was a 20-year-old female university student. She has never exhibited remorse for the attack.

In a statement, the families said King Abdullah of Jordan “should publicly apologize for the murders of their sons and explain why his country harbors a terrorist that killed Americans in the pizzeria bombing.”
JPost Editorial: Ayman Odeh chose to show solidarity with a terrorist - editorial
What Odeh did is not just disappointing, it is also counterproductive. The people who voted for Odeh’s Joint List, and helped it obtain 15 seats in the Knesset, did not cast their ballot so the leader of the party could participate in conferences with known terrorists. They want him and his fellow Knesset members to work to improve their lives: to create jobs, to secure funding to upgrade infrastructure – roads, schools, hospitals and more – and to steer their community through the economic and health crisis caused by the novel coronavirus.

Let’s not forget that Arouri is one of the founding commanders of the Izzadin al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas’s military wing, and is said to be one of the key people – from his home in Turkey – trying to promote terrorist attacks in the West Bank. The US State Department has put a $5 million reward for anyone who provides information that leads to his capture.

This is the person Odeh wants to be associated with? A known terrorist behind dozens of attacks against Israel who is wanted by the IDF and the US?

Knesset Speaker Yariv Levin (Likud) said he would not tolerate an MK participating in “an event in support of terror with the worst of Israel’s enemies.”

It is unclear what Levin can actually do, but Odeh does need to decide where he stands and who he is as a lawmaker and a citizen of the State of Israel. He can, and should, of course, be able to openly show solidarity with the Palestinian people and also criticize Israel – all day and all night if he’d like – for its actions in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. But, participating in a conference with a known terrorist like Arouri though is a line that Odeh should have known not to cross.

Israel has a long way to go for its Arab citizens to feel like they are treated as equals, and for the words of the declaration of independence, which called for coexistence in this land, to come true.

Arabs needs to be seen as equal citizens and be treated as equal citizens. For too long Arab-Israelis have been demonized and portrayed as a fifth column. They have been spoken about by the Likud and Blue and White as illegitimate political partners.

What Odeh did is wrong, but what Israel is doing is also not helping. If we want Arabs to stand with Israel and not with Hamas, they have to feel like everyone here has a shared destiny. That has yet to happen.
An American prophet in Berlin
He could’ve gotten moralistic, saying: “How can a country that murdered six million Jews now cowtow to a government intent on killing 6 million more?” “How dare you tell Jews to hide?” “We lost countless American lives and treasure because of your historic bloody power lust. Pay up!” He kept it classy, focusing on the mutual interest inherent in the policies he promoted, whether banning Hezbollah or the Iranian airline, Mahan Air. The Germans were spared guilt.

Nothing could explain Grenell’s fearlessness except to say he is a God-fearing man. He was more like a prophet preaching to the Germans before they bring upon themselves great disaster yet again by courting dictatorships like Iran, Russia and China.

The Hebrew prophets spoke in their own style unique to their upbringing and temperament. Amos, for example, spoke in simple metaphors taken from his life as a farmer. Isaiah, a prince, used more aristocratic metaphors. Grenell spoke as an American born in a small town in Michigan using not parables, but sharp tweets. Of course, he didn’t only conduct diplomacy over Twitter. A masterful professional and Harvard graduate, he activated and united the embassy to lobby for American interests utilizing all formal and informal channels at their disposal, but publicly, he communicated in the language and method of the people – social media – because he is one of the people.

Over time, his name came up again for other positions, and I kept tweeting #BerlinNeedsGrenell, until he got promoted as Acting Director of Intelligence. Americans now needed him. In just a few months, through long overdue declassifications and administrative reforms, he transformed the American Intelligence Community into one that is more effective, transparent and accountable to the people. What he started in Germany continued in Washington: bringing information that taxpayers had a right to know directly to them.

In the tradition of fools harassing a prophet, Der Spiegel contrasted him to previous ambassadors in one of their many hit pieces.

In Berlin, the representatives of Germany’s most important ally usually have the easiest jobs. Many previous US ambassadors were major political and social figures in the capital, enjoying excellent connections to the Chancellery and federal ministries, and playing host to the most powerful and influential personalities in Germany.

Barack Obama’s ambassador, Philip Murphy, invited longtime adversaries Helmut Kohl and Merkel to his dining room in 2012 for discreet talks aimed at reducing the tensions between them. By the time his tenure was over after four years, he had made so many friends he had to rent out the Olympic Stadium for his goodbye party.

Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, we couldn’t throw a goodbye party for “Ric,” as he tells people to call him. Maybe it wouldn’t have been filled with power-players congratulating each other on how they’re all Masters of the Universe, but the Olympic Stadium wouldn’t have been able to fill the genuine love, appreciation, and deep respect that every day, decent, pro-American Germans felt for one of the most effective, honest, ethical and real ambassadors that Germany – and beyond – has ever known.

Grenell will greatly be missed. I don’t know what I’ll do now for upcoming Fourth of July. But I know that Berlin doesn’t need Grenell anymore. #TheWorldNeedsGrenell

North Jersey Paper Aims at Israel — and Misses
“Get your facts first,” Mark Twain once intoned, “and then you can distort them as you please.” Yet, when it comes to the Israel-Islamist conflict, the North Jersey Record isn’t even bothering with facts. The newspaper’s recent report, “‘We need to pursue systemic change’: Palestinian Americans in NJ brace for annexation,” offers a masterclass in both distortions and omissions.

Indeed, the report is so problematic and biased that it’s hard to know where to begin.

NJ Record correspondent Hannan Adely reported that on June 28, “about 200 people gathered outside Paterson City Hall” in New Jersey where they raised the Palestinian flag and protested “Israel’s plan to annex large swaths of the West Bank starting Wednesday, July 1 — a move they said would suffocate Palestinians and scuttle any remaining chance for peace.”

“Annexation,” the NJ Record claims, “happens when a country declares that land outside its borders is part of its own state.” The plan “would leave Palestinians with 15% of their historic homeland” and “allow Israel to encircle all Palestinian land and cut it off from the border with Jordan.”

Nearly every word in this paragraph is inaccurate. As international law scholar Eugene Kontorovich has noted: “Annexation in international law specifically means taking the territory of a foreign sovereign country.” And neither the Jordan Valley nor the West Bank (Judea and Samaria) belongs to a “foreign sovereign country.”

In fact, in contrast to the NJ Record’s claim, no sovereign Palestinian Arab state has ever existed and what Palestinian Arabs have claimed as their “historic homeland” has been largely malleable — with one important exception.

As the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting and Analysis (CAMERA) has documented, many leading Arab notables sought to join Syria 100 years ago as the Ottoman Empire was dissolving. Early “founding fathers” of Palestinian Arab nationalism, including the future Nazi collaborator Amin al-Husseini, were active in the so-called “Southern Syria” movement. Indeed, al-Husseini and his successor of sorts, Yasser Arafat, coveted what are today the lands of Jordan, Israel, and portions of Syria and Lebanon. Arafat and his Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) even tried to overthrow the King of Jordan, an ambition that was thwarted 50 years ago this September.

As late as May 31, 1956, the future head of the PLO, Ahmed Shukeiri, told the UN Security Council, “It is common knowledge that Palestine is nothing but Southern Syria.”
With or without sovereignty
I am often asked what will actually change if the sovereignty-annexation plan goes ahead and the answer is: Not a lot. At least not on the ground. The value of the plan is that – while not perfect – it changes the paradigm. Or it should. It would move the Palestinians toward independence if that were their goal, and grant Israel the defensible borders it desperately needs, not the 1949/1967 borders from which the Jewish state was repeatedly attacked. It would also allow Israel to remain in charge of most of the significant Jewish religious, cultural and historic sites such as Shiloh, where the Tabernacle was once located.

The Palestinians in the West Bank (and Gaza) will continue to exercise self-rule and Israeli law will be extended to the Israeli citizens, who for a long time have been both “with and without.” As several friends have told me, the biggest change will be that if they want to build an extra room or a balcony, they will not have to apply to the Civil Administration for a permit.

When Menachem Begin’s government applied Israeli law to the Golan Heights in 1981 residents there quipped that the biggest difference was they were now obliged to wear seat belts when driving in the region. Until then they had been able to go without and feel nothing of it.

One change as a result of sovereignty is the extension of Israeli labor laws that would also protect Palestinian employees. In May, it was announced that for the first time Israeli employers are required to provide health insurance to Palestinian workers from Judea and Samaria who are employed in Israel. The measure is part of the “emergency regulations” in force due to COVID-19 but is an example of the sort of positive change that sovereignty could bring.

The whole world is praying that a vaccine for the novel coronavirus will be found soon. In the meantime, I’d be happy to find the ultimate comfortable mask. I already know the perfect marketing slogan for it: Lalechet im u’lahargish bli. “To go with and feel without.”

I’m an Israeli settler. American Jews are debating my future, but here’s what they don’t understand.
It’s been surreal watching from Israel as Americans discuss my future. I’ve gotten used to presidents spending years developing plans for my neighborhood and other towns in Judea and Samaria, also known as the West Bank — they mean well and I truly appreciate their efforts. But recently I’ve been thrown by all the attention we’ve been receiving from the American Jewish establishment.

I’ve watched Zoom panels, Facebook Lives and read countless op-eds about my future and Israel’s annexation plan for parts of the West Bank. All the attention is gratifying, but I have noticed that many of the discussions, panels and debates have been missing some important nuance.

I’ve also noticed that many of these panels don’t include any speakers who are Jewish settlers or Palestinian residents of the area, which made it feel like I was watching an all-male panel discuss women’s issues or three white people discuss Black Lives Matter.

When I challenged one think tank about its 20-person panel that did not include a single Palestinian or Jewish settler, I was told that the discussions centered around security issues and a resident’s perspective wouldn’t be valuable.

But without a local speaker, these organizations are robbing their audience of the chance to hear a diverse set of opinions. Setting aside that security experts who live here are more familiar with the security challenges we face than former American security officials, their response shows a deeper flaw in how Americans view Israel and the region.

I watched a congressman who hasn’t visited a settlement in years — if ever — host an hourlong conversation about why it’s not in Israel’s interests to extend sovereignty over the West Bank. He authored a letter, and got 189 of his colleagues to sign it, which made the same points.
(h/t Zvi)
Peace by Piece
A lot is being written about the “Trump Peace Plan” and experts, on both sides of the political fence, are giving their side of what they think. It reminds me of a multiple-choice test:
A) I like the plan
B) I do not like the plan
C) I am somewhere in the middle
D) None of the above.

My answer is simple. It is a definite, positive “D” – “None of the above”. Let me explain.

The Land of Israel belongs to the Nation of Israel. The overwhelming majority of the world believes that! The problem, however, is with our own people. Most Jews agree that Eretz Yisrael is ours but they say that we need to be realistic and not just idealistic. “Yes, this is the land of our fathers... of course it was given to us as an eternal inheritance… but we are now part of the family of nations… we can’t operate alone… we dare not make any decisions without approval of the USA…” These are daily quotes said by Jewish leaders and their puppet followers and this is what drives me nuts…

Dearest friends; when the Zionist movement started 120+ years ago, we had rights to the Land of Israel on paper only. We had the Bible, we had the deed to the land and we had the unbreakable chain of 2,000 years of prayers, hopes and tears… but we did not have the “keys” to the house. That was when we needed the help of the nations of the world, so Hashem orchestrated a wonderful plan; Balfour declaration (1917), San Remo conference (1920), League of Nations vote (1947) – all so that His children could, once again, establish a Jewish State on His holy soil.

For many years after the founding of the state, we were young and still needed the world’s help, as a child taking his/her first steps. However, those early, weak and feeble days are gone and today, the Jewish Nation can proudly stand on its own. Our IDF is strong, our economy is stable and – thanks to our Father and King – the world needs us a lot more than we need them.

What’s all this have to do with the Trump Peace Plan? Simply this; that even today, Israeli leaders and most Jews around the world believe that Israel cannot move a muscle without permission of the United States.
German lawmakers denounce Israel’s sovereignty plan, say ‘silence is not an option’
It was a rainy first of July in Berlin, and a protest was expected outside of the Reichstag, Germany’s historic house of parliament (Bundestag) with its famously post-war transparent dome above the parliament that tourists can alight for a view of the capital and of modern Germany’s democracy in action.

For the handful of protesters on the wet stone near the neo-Baroque edifice, it was a day of shame for Germany democracy. An hour later, the “grand coalition” consisting of the Christian Democratic Union/Christian Social Union (CDU/CSU) and the Social Democrats (SDP), along with the Free Democrats (FdP) from the opposition, would vote on a non-binding resolution to condemn Israel over plans to extend sovereignty over Israeli-controlled areas in the West Bank/Judea and Samaria, a moved often dubbed “annexation.” The debate was symbolically timed on the day from which Israel could execute the move (but hasn’t yet) and in which Germany assumed the presidency of the Council of the European Union.

The protest, which essentially turned into a one-man show, starred its initiator, Marcel Goldhammer, a journalist with both German and Israeli citizenship.

“Germany killed 6 million Jews in World War II, in the Holocaust, and now Germany wants to tell Israel how to defend its security,” Goldhammer told JNS, holding an Israeli flag which he proudly waved to passersby, at one point breaking out in Israel’s national anthem “Hatikvah.” He also slammed Germany’s alleged funding of NGOs that support or excuse Palestinian terrorism, saying, “Shame on you!”

The only political opposition came from the right-wing Alternative for Germany (AfD), which abstained from the motion largely on the grounds that Germany shouldn’t tell Israel what to do. The populist party, which has been embroiled in controversy over statements believed to minimize the Holocaust, is largely shunned by the mainstream German Jewish community.
German top-selling paper slams Bundestag for ‘grotesque’ attack on Israel
The mass-circulation Bild paper blasted the German parliament on Friday for its condemnation of the Jewish state for seeking to exercise sovereignty over disputed parts of the West Bank.

“Commentary on the decision against Israel’s policy: You treat friends differently,” read the headline of the editorial by Louis Hagen.

The Bundestag (Germany's federal parliament) is believed to have only singled out one territorial dispute—the Israeli-Palestinian conflict—from well over 100 nation land conflicts across the globe.

“The Bundestag discussed internal borders in Israel. It is grotesque. Because the outcome of the debate was already certain. The Bundestag presents Israel as a threat to stability in the Middle East. It warns that Israel's actions have ‘significant effects on the peace process,”’ wrote Hagen.

“What peace does Israel endanger? There is no peace in the Middle East that could be endangered," he added. "As long as Hezbollah, Iran, Hamas and all the other neighbors from Syria to Jordan want to more or less wipe the Jewish state off the map. As long as the ‘moderate’ Palestinian government in the West Bank pays terrorists life-long pensions.”

The editorial declared that “unfortunately, we only hear the voice of the German Bundestag when it comes to criticizing Israel. Human rights violations by the Palestinians, in Iran, in Syria, in Egypt - one hears very little of that.”
Abbas adviser warns of third intifada if Israel goes ahead with annexation
An adviser to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas warned Saturday there was a possibility of a third intifada if the Israeli government goes ahead with its plan to annex parts of the West Bank.

The Kan public broadcaster reported that Nabil Shaath told the Arabic-language arm of the France 24 network that Palestinian rivals Fatah and Hamas are in agreement that there should be a popular uprising if the controversial plan goes ahead.

“When things flare up and it becomes a fully-fledged intifada, we will see a combination of forces between Gaza and the West Bank,” Shaath said.

The Palestinian adviser also said that he expected the potential uprising to be funded by the Arab world, noting Saudi Arabia sent billions of dollars within the first few days of the Second Intifada, but without further elaborating.

The Second Intifada, which erupted in the early 2000s, included waves of suicide bombings and other terror attacks that killed more than 1,000 Israelis.

Israeli security officials last month started to hold discussions to prepare for various scenarios if the annexation plan goes ahead, including the possibility of a full-blown uprising.

Shaath’s statement came after rivals Fatah and Hamas pledged unity against Israel’s West Bank annexation plans and vowed to “topple” the Trump administration’s peace proposal, in a rare show of cooperation at a joint press conference Thursday.
Jimmy Carter Speaks Out Against Israeli Sovereignty Plans, Touts Former Accords
Former US President Jimmy Carter has criticized Israel’s plans to apply sovereignty to parts of Judea and Samaria, more commonly known as the West Bank.

“Israel’s planned annexation of up to 30 [percent] of the West Bank as early as today would violate international laws prohibiting the acquisition of territory by force and changing the status of occupied territories,” said Carter in a statement on Wednesday. “The planned move would violate the Oslo and Camp David accords, and jeopardize Israel’s peace treaties with Jordan and Egypt.”

“For decades, Jewish settlements in the West Bank have expanded, jeopardizing any possible establishment of a sovereign Palestinian state alongside Israel,” he said. “Formal annexation will signal the end of the internationally agreed-upon two-state framework for peace, and with it the possibility for a just solution to the conflict.”

Carter, 95, concluded, “The envisioned annexation would amount to a massive, illegal expropriation of Palestinian territory. Annexation must be stopped, and the Israelis and Palestinians should return to meaningful negotiations based on UN resolutions and previous bilateral agreements.”

Burj Khalifa lights up to celebrate US Independence Day
Burj Khalifa, the world's tallest building, lit up in American national colours on Saturday to mark the United States Independence Day.

An image on Burj Khalifa's Twitter account showed the building's famed LED screen draped with the American flag.

Acknowledging the tribute, the US Mission to the UAE tweeted its gratitude. "Thank you, UAE and @BurjKhalifa for celebrating Independence Day with the US Mission in the UAE!"

Earlier today, the President, His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, had sent a message of congratulations to US President Donald Trump.

His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, and His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, also dispatched similar messages to President Trump on the occasion. (h/t jzaik)
‘Heroic’ Israeli drowns after rescuing woman and her 3 kids from lake in south
A man drowned Friday after rescuing a woman and her three children after they got into trouble while swimming in a lake in southern Israel, medics said.

The Magen David Adom ambulance service said Michael Ben Zikri, in his 40s, was found after a short search with no signs of life near Zikim beach, south of Ashkelon.

Ben Zikri was said to be a resident of the southern port city of Ashdod.

Before going missing in the water, Ben Zikri helped rescue a woman from the Bedouin town of Hura and her three kids from drowning. MDA gave their ages as 40, 14, 10 and 7.

They were in a good condition.

“Today it’s hard to find a hero like this. The entire family apologizes for what happened,” a relative of the rescued family told Channel 13 news.

Ben Zikri’s brother-in-law told the network he was with his wife when he saw the four family members drowning and rushed to try to save them. The relative also questioned why the lake was not closed off given swimming is banned there.

“If they know there are sinkholes why are they leaving it open?” the brother-in-law said. (h/t Zvi)
Alarmed by rise in Gaza suicides, Palestinians blame Hamas, PA
Suicide rates are increasing in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, Palestinian sources said on Saturday after the death of three Palestinians in separate incidents.

Several other cases of attempted suicide have been reported in the Gaza Strip in the past few weeks, the sources said.

Palestinians took to social media to express outrage over the increase in suicide rates, with many holding Hamas and the Palestinian Authority responsible for the harsh economic conditions in the coastal enclave.

Sleman Alajoury, a 23-year old university graduate, committed suicide by shooting himself in the head. In his last post on Facebook, Alajoury wrote: “This is not a futile attempt. This is an attempt at salvation. Complaining to none other than God is a humiliation.”

A Palestinian journalist in the Gaza Strip said that Alajoury had been previously arrested several times by Hamas security forces because of his political activities.

Sufyan Abu Zayda, a senior Fatah official in the Strip, said that Alajoury “could not stand the state of loss, oppression, poverty, unemployment, and the absence of hope for a decent life.”

Son of Hezbollah official films rape, torture of Syrian boy
Three Lebanese youths, including a son of a senior Hezbollah official, filmed themselves beating and sexually assaulting a 13-year-old Syrian refugee in east Lebanon, multiple Arab media sources reported this week.

According to reports, the names of the perpetrators are Hadi Qamar, Mustafa Sha'shoua and Hassan Sha'shoua.

The video, showing the three man verbally and physically abusing the boy, went viral on social media, with Syrian and Lebanese users calling for the perpetrators' arrest and prosecution.

"Three Lebanese men raped a 13-year-old Syrian refugee, taking pictures as they took turns abusing him," a Twitter user posted under the hashtag #العدالة_للطفل_السوري (Justice for the Syrian boy).

"Until they are arrested, here are the pictures of these fanatic monsters. I hope everyone posts them," the tweet said.

"May who[ever] decides to burn a little child's soul like that burn in hell and suffer for the rest of their life," another user named Sabin wrote on Twitter.

"These rapists need to be tortured [and] then executed," posted Jordanian user Sara. "Keep tweeting this...#justice_for_the_syrian_child."

The video was filmed in the town of Sohmor in the Beqaa valley of east Lebanon, according to Al Arabiya. Occupied by Syria until 2005, the valley currently remains one of the strongholds of Hezbollah.
Explosion reportedly damages power plant in Iran, the latest in series of blasts
An explosion reportedly damaged a power plant in the Iranian city of Ahvaz on Saturday, the latest in a series of mysterious blasts in the country that prompted Iran to issue a warning to Israel and the US earlier this week.

Persian and Arabic media reported an explosion and fire at the Zargan power plant in Ahvaz in Iran’s southwest, near the Persian Gulf and the Iraqi border.

Videos posted online showed a column of smoke at the facility and workers filing past a fire truck.

Iran’s IRNA news agency later reported that the fire at the plant had been brought under control. It said the blaze was ignited when a transformer exploded.

Mohammad Hafezi, the power plant’s health and safety manager, told IRNA the cause of the fire was under investigation.

A few hours later on Saturday, IRNA said a chlorine gas leak at a petrochemical center in southeast Iran sickened 70 workers.

Most of the workers at the Karun petrochemical center in the city of Mahshahr in southeast Khuzestan province were released after undergoing medical treatment.

The two incidents came after an explosion damaged Iran’s Natanz nuclear facility on Thursday, and last week a large blast was felt in Tehran, apparently caused by an explosion at the Parchin military complex, which defense analysts believe holds an underground tunnel system and missile production facilities.
The things that bump in Iran’s nights
One cannot rule out that despite all the inconsistencies and clearly fabricated and incredible explanations, Iran simply had a bad week of accidents. Iran’s system is so corrupt that Iranians have come to regard the constant stream of catastrophes to which they are subject as the wages of the vast incompetence.

However, while the explosions may be coincidental and resulting from the incompetence of Iranian authorities driven by pervasive corruption, it is looking increasingly possible that someone is incrementally sabotaging the Iranian nuclear and missile program. This suspicion is strengthened by the claims by an opposition group that the events at Natanz were the result of its attack. The highly sensitive nature of at least two of sites involved in these incidents further deepen the suspicion.

If this is indeed the hand of some entity seeking to damage Iran’s nuclear program, and because these events are so tightly spaced together to suggest a common actor, we can draw some preliminary conclusions.

Starting with the Iranian opposition group, this is the first time anyone has heard of them. It could be either a group acting alone, a group acting in coordination with a foreign power, or a foreign power acting using the fictitious cover of domestic opposition group. This is probably not a group acting alone, since the sophistication of collecting at the site and operational intelligence, as well as striking so broadly and consistently without leaving a trail could hardly have been done without some highly capable assistance from a nation-state. Moreover, there would have been no incentive to avoid claiming credit for all the attacks, since publicizing potency is the currency of attraction for opposition groups. More likely, ths was either an opposition group working with a foreign power, or a foreign power acting with a fictitious cover. But who? The two likely suspects are clearly the United States and Israel.

Israel and the U.S. share a common aim of stopping Iran as soon as possible from advancing in its nuclear program. And yet they have different aims surrounding the context of any operation. The United States has a history of acting overtly using its own power only. Nor does it have a tradition of keeping the attacks ambiguous. When General Soleimani was killed last winter, the United States fairly quickly accepted the credit. Indeed, such an overt act advances traditional American foreign policy goals since it draws a red line, which when crossed triggers an American reaction and is followed by the implied warning to the offending country that it will face worse if it tried again.
EU: Tehran has triggered Iran deal dispute mechanism
Tehran has triggered the “dispute mechanism” built into the 2015 Iran nuclear deal over compliance issues with France, Germany and the United Kingdom, the EU’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell reported on Friday.

He did not specify what issues led Iran to trigger the mechanism, which could be the first step toward dissolution of the deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

It was signed in 2015 between Iran and six world powers including: the United States, Russia, China, France, the United Kingdom and Germany.
The US withdrew from the deal in 2018, a move that has already significantly weakened the agreement under which Iran was supposed to curb its nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief. Iran has already breached part of the deal, particularly with regard to limits set on uranium enrichment.

Borrell said on Friday, “I have received today a letter from the Foreign Minister of Iran referring Iran’s concerns regarding implementation
issues by France, Germany and the United Kingdom under the JCPOA to the Joint Commission for resolution through the Dispute Resolution Mechanism, as set out in paragraph 36 of the agreement.”

Any party to the deal can refer non-compliance issues to a Joint Commission that involves representatives of all parties to the deal, plus the European Union. There is then a 30-day two-step process to resolve the matter, with the potential to extend the time frame. If no resolution can be achieved, the deal can be dissolved.

“As I have said previously, the Dispute Resolution Mechanism requires intensive efforts in good faith by all. As Coordinator of the Joint Commission, I expect all JCPOA participants to approach this process in this spirit within the framework of the JCPOA,” Borrell said.

“The Joint Commission, which is responsible for overseeing the implementation of the agreement under the terms of the JCPOA, has met since 2016 to discuss the implementation of the JCPOA and address pertinent issues brought to the attention of the Coordinator by any participant,” he said.

University of Texas Repudiates Ex-Professor Who Called for Israel to Be Bombed ‘Until the Sand Turns to Glass’
A former adjunct professor at the University of Texas at Austin recently tweeted that Israel should be bombed “until the sand turns to glass.”

In the same Twitter thread, which has since been removed, Spencer Wells — whose describes himself as a “scientist,” “author” and “entrepreneur” — said, “I despise the Israelis. If you want to see the post-apocalyptic vision of what Apartheid in South Africa would have looked like in 2020, visit Israel.”

After the thread came to light, the University of Texas at Austin distanced itself from Wells, stating, “Spencer Wells is no longer a faculty or advisory council member at UT. He previously had a courtesy, unpaid appointment as a part-time adjunct that did not involve teaching. That ended in May and was not renewed. We do not have any association with the views held by Mr. Wells.”
Anti-Semitism in Ann Arbor Campaign?
In her post, city council candidate Mozhgan Savabieasfahani depicts pigs with cash and calls out Jewish donors.

Ann Arbor city council candidate Dr. Mozhgan Savabieasfahani has come under fire for posting cartoons in local political Facebook pages that carried anti-Semitic connotations.

Savabieasfahani, a longtime local protester who frequently targets Israel, is running in the August 4 Democratic primary to represent the city’s fourth ward. In a now-edited post in the “Ann Arbor Politics” Facebook page, a public group with more than 800 members, she posted a caricature of one of her opponents, Jen Eyer, popping out of a wallet. Next to Eyer in the image is a pig in a suit, smoking a cigar and holding a wad of cash.

The original post, published June 22nd, mentioned that Eyer has received donations from “old party hacks”. When asked by a group moderator to clarify the post, Savabieasfahani changed the word “hacks” to “honchos.” She also added that Ron Weiner and Lon Johnson, both former chairs of the Michigan Democratic Party, and retired school administrator Neal Elyakin, whom she noted in her edits is a former board member of the Friends of the IDF, have given money to Eyer.

Eyer is not Jewish. Weiner and Elyakin are both Jewish; neither are top donors to Eyer, according to the most recent campaign finance documents available from the campaign.

When Elyakin, who is not a member of the Facebook page, saw the post, he was upset. Though he has given $100 to Eyer’s campaign, he does not consider himself a party “honcho”. To him, the post felt like an anti-Semitic attack. He contacted the Facebook group’s moderator and posted a note on his own Facebook page to call awareness to the situation.

“I generally don’t get upset about politics like that, but I felt I needed to say something,” Elyakin, who lives in Ann Arbor’s fifth ward, told the Jewish News.
Toronto Restaurant Tells Customers, ‘Zionists Not Welcome’
A Toronto eatery known for displaying radical messages on its premises and social media accounts was condemned on Friday for announcing that “Zionists” were not welcome there.

Local website blogTO remarked that the Foodbenders restaurant in the city’s Bloordale neighborhood was “back playing defense just a few weeks following its controversial ‘F*ck the Police’ sign at the height of Toronto’s anti-Black racism and police abolition rallies.”

A post earlier this week on the restaurant’s Instagram account announced that it was now open to “non-racist shoppers,” adding the hashtags “freepalestine” and “zionistsnotwelcome.”

Toronto resident Jamie Gutfreund slammed the restaurant in a direct response.

“I was quite shocked and surprised to see a local Toronto company @foodbenders openly promote their racism and Jew hatred by blatantly and proudly posting that anyone who believes Israel has a right to exist is not welcome – basically it means no Jews are welcome,” wrote Gutfreund. “Just imagine for one second if this were owned by any other person who openly promoted that Blacks, Muslims, Asians, LGBT, etc were not welcome – it would be a major story on every station and paper in the city. Advocacy groups would be parked outside this business raising hell!!”

Foodbenders’ owner Kimberly Hawkins rejected the charge that her stance sent a signal to Jews that they are not welcome at the restaurant.

“When I’m making a statement about Zionism, I am not referring to Jewish people,” she said. “It’s about the state government.”

Toronto Star Commentators Deny Jewish Indigeneity to Historic Land of Israel
In back to back editions of the Toronto Star on June 26 & 27, commentators Tony Burman and Rick Salutin (both in-house critics of Israel), produced polemics which singled out the Jewish state for condemnation and which ignored Jewish indigeneity to the historic land of Israel.

Tony Burman, former CBC News and Al-Jazeera English Editor-in-Chief, claimed that:
Beginning July 1, in defiance of international law but encouraged by Donald Trump, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is planning to annex perhaps as much as 30 per cent of the occupied West Bank to make permanent the illegal Israeli settlements that he has allowed to develop on Palestinian land.”

To wit, the Palestinians do not and have never had sovereignty over the lands in question and Israel says international law enshrines its rights to these areas, while citing the need for defensible borders and biblical, historical and political connections to the land.

Burman’s piece referred to Israeli PM Netanyahu as “Israel’s most audacious land-grabber,” claiming that Jews are illegal occupiers who committed a “land grab”. This claim is without foundation and implies that Israel and the Jewish people’s connection to Israel is illegitimate. According to international law, these lands were promised to the Jewish people in the San Remo Resolution in 1920 which led to the establishment in British-mandate Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people. Since 1948, Israeli governments have based the Jewish state’s legal rights on the League of Nations mandate, reaffirmed in 1922 by the League’s 51 principle powers, which recognized the Jewish people’s historical and legal rights to reconstitute its national home in Palestine.
CAMERA Prompts Washington Post Correction on PLO Official Saeb Erekat
After contact from CAMERA, The Washington Post changed a June 28, 2020 article which inaccurately claimed that a well-known Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) official was born in Jericho.

The Post’s dispatch, “Once an oasis of peace, Jericho now fears Israeli annexation,” by reporter Ruth Eglash, asserted that PLO official Saeb Erekat “was born in Jericho, located in the Jordan Valley, and can trace his family’s history in the biblical town back many generations.” However, this is incorrect.

In fact, as numerous sources have noted, Erekat was born in Abu Dis. As the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs (JCPA) documented:

“Saeb Erekat’s family is Bedouin. According to Bedouin genealogy, the family is part of the Huweitat clan which originated in the Hejaz area of Saudi Arabia, arrived in Palestine from the south of Jordan, and settled in the village of Abu Dis in the early twentieth century.”

CAMERA informed Post staff that Erekat wasn’t born in Jericho and, what is more, the PLO apparatchik has a history of lying about his origins, having infamously claimed that Palestinian Arabs are descended from Canaanites.

Following contact from CAMERA, the Washington Post commendably issued a correction in their June 30, 2020 print edition. Additionally, on July 2, 2020, the newspaper added an addendum to their online story, noting:
New Hampshire lawmakers send bill requiring Holocaust studies to governor
New Hampshire will mandate Holocaust and genocide prevention education under a bill passed overwhelmingly by its House of Representatives.

If Gov. Chris Sununu, a Republican, signs the measure into law, New Hampshire would become the 14th state to require genocide prevention education in public schools, according to the Anti-Defamation League’s New England regional office, which supported the bill.

An Act Relative to Holocaust and Genocide Studies will also establish a commission to study best educational practices.

The bill will enable all students to acquire knowledge of civics and government, economics, history, and Holocaust and genocide education, according to state Sen. Jay Kahn, a Democrat and lead sponsor of the bill.

“Holocaust and genocide education is a fitting part of a school’s curriculum that enables students to participate in the democratic process and to make informed choices as responsible citizens,” Kahn said in a statement.
Germany's Continuing Anti-Semitism Problem
The German government's new report flies in the face of major EU reports... German statistics on anti-Semitism have been the object of criticism for quite some time.

"The majority of [anti-Semitism] cases in Berlin are attributed to right-wing extremists -- without evidence..." — Die Welt, May 7, 2019.

"For a long time, experts have criticized the attribution of the majority of cases to far-right perpetrators... and that too little attention is paid to other groups of perpetrators, such as those from Islamist and other Muslim circles". — Die Welt, May 7, 2019.

Yet, despite problematic evidence and flawed statistics, Interior Minister Horst Seehofer is still claiming that virtually all anti-Semitism comes from the far-right. Why?

Despite all these measures, anti-Semitic crime in Germany is the highest it has been in the past two decades. This news alone should raise concerns in Germany that hate-speech laws such as the NetzDG, while severely limiting free speech, are not working. It should also concern other EU countries, such as France, that are looking to Germany as an example to follow.
Anti-Semitic hate crimes rose 12% in California in 2019, state report finds
Anti-Semitic hate crimes in California rose nearly 12% in 2019, including a fatal shooting at a Southern California synagogue, even as hate crimes overall declined statewide by 4.8%, according to a state report released Wednesday.

Hate crimes are historically underreported and the 2019 data compiled by the state attorney general’s office does not include a recent rise in anti-Asian racism during the coronavirus pandemic, which began in China.

Although the report does not specifically mention the 2019 fatal shooting at the Chabad of Poway outside San Diego, it’s clear that the year’s sole hate crime homicide victim noted in the report is 60-year-old Lori Gilbert-Kaye.

Nursing student John T. Earnest is accused of opening fire during a Passover service at the synagogue on April 27, 2019, fatally shooting Gilbert-Kaye and wounding three others, including an 8-year-old girl and the rabbi, who lost a finger. Earnest, then 19, reportedly called 911 to say he had shot up a synagogue because Jews were trying to “destroy all white people.”

He has pleaded not guilty to hate crime-related murder, attempted murder and other charges. (h/t Zvi)
50% of Swiss Jews faced antisemitic abuse in past five years - study
A recent study by the Zurich University of Applied Sciences in Switzerland, where approximately 18,000 Jews live, revealed that of the 500 Swiss Jews that were questioned, 50% reported having been targeted with antisemitic abuse in the past five years, according to the Algemeiner.

Professor Dirk Baier, the director of the survey, told the Berner Oberlander that the antisemitism “obviously comes from the middle of society,” referring to middle-class citizens. These are in contrast to residents of Western European countries, where it is those who live in poverty and who immigrated to such countries who hold biases against Jews, Baier claims. He says that attacks in such countries are often motivated by extremist views.

He said that the results did not surprise him following the governmental survey which revealed that one in 10 residents of the country held negative views of Jews.

“There is an ‘everyday antisemitism’ in Switzerland,” said Dominic Pugatsch, head of the GRA Foundation against Racism and Antisemitism, whose research supported the survey’s conclusions. “Verbal harassment is unfortunately widespread on the street, at work or at school.”

Animosities like those directed at Jews are also directed at other minorities, Baier explained. “If you asked 500 black people in Switzerland about their experiences, you’d probably get responses similar to those of the Jewish community now,” he said.

The survey showed that Jews were most commonly attacked with verbal threats and insults in workplaces, schools, and public areas. Other survey responders – 6% of them – said that they had experienced antisemitism in targeted vandalism of their properties, while 3.5% had been targets of physical violence.
Daphne Anson: Töben Bites the Dust
The Aussie Jewish press seems slow in discovering the news that German-born Australian Holocaust denier and Adelaide Institute founder Dr Fredrick Töben has gone to his earthly reward.

His demise occurred on 29 June.

Good riddance.

Remember his flirtation with New South Wales Greens, that I outlined here?

Dead and buried is he, but, as we see here, unsurprisingly his stench remains.
An American Pickle | Official Trailer | HBO Max
AN AMERICAN PICKLE, directed by Brandon Trost, is based on Simon Rich’s New Yorker novella and stars Seth Rogen as Herschel Greenbaum, a struggling laborer who immigrates to America in 1920 with dreams of building a better life for his beloved family. One day, while working at his factory job, he falls into a vat of pickles and is brined for 100 years. The brine preserves him perfectly and when he emerges in present-day Brooklyn, he finds that he hasn’t aged a day. But when he seeks out his family, he is troubled to learn that his only surviving relative is his great-grandson, Ben Greenbaum (also played by Rogen), a mild-mannered computer coder whom Herschel can’t even begin to understand.

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