Saturday, August 22, 2020

From Ian:

Surgical precision - The story behind Israel's targeted killings
THE TARGETED killing of al-Ata was not that different from the many others the IDF has carried out over the past decade. It was characterized by meticulous planning meant to reduce collateral damage, precise intelligence and the utilization of advanced technology, aircraft and munitions.

But it also shows the results of an amazing journey the State of Israel has taken over the past 20 years, going from dropping one-ton bombs on apartment buildings in the Gaza Strip to take out a single terrorist, to firing a missile with amazing precision onto a bed, killing just the target and his wife and not injuring their five children sleeping in the next room.

Around the world, a story like this would not make headlines. Instead, the focus would be on the damage caused to Gaza and the death toll. People would ask why al-Ata’s wife had to die with him. They wouldn’t focus on the length of the mission, how much detail and effort went into its planning and how precise it was in execution.

This journey, though, is unique to Israel. Other Western countries fighting terrorists around the world rarely invest even a fraction of the effort Israel does to minimize collateral damage. Issachar recalled a large international air drill he had participated in a few years ago where he met pilots from Italy, Turkey and other countries. Almost all the pilots he met, he recalled, asked why Israel waits so long and invests so much.

“They are shooting at you,” the foreign pilots said. “You need to respond.”

The success Israel has met is the result of three key components – intelligence, technology and the values that make up the backbone of the IDF.“This is a Jewish value,” explained former IAF chief Eliezer Shkedi. “This is who we are.”

How did the IDF become one of the most lethal and precise militaries in the world? This article is the first in a series that will look at this evolution and try to piece together how it happened.
Pompeo, Kushner to visit Israel and Arab states as US pushes more peace deals
The Trump administration will send two top officials to the Middle East this week in a bid to capitalize on momentum from the historic agreement between Israel and the United Arab Emirates to establish diplomatic relations.

Three diplomats say US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and US President Donald Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner plan to make separate, multiple-nation visits to the region in the coming days to push Arab-Israeli rapprochement in the aftermath of the Israel-UAE deal.

Pompeo is expected to depart on Sunday for Israel, Bahrain, Oman, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Sudan, according to the diplomats, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the itinerary has not yet been finalized or publicly announced.

Kushner plans to leave later in the week for Israel, Bahrain, Oman, Saudi Arabia and Morocco, the diplomats said.

Kushner will be accompanied by Avi Berkowitz, Trump’s peace envoy, the Walla news site reported. National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien and Brian Hook, the US pointman on Iran, are also expected to join the trip.

The group will meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Benny Gantz in Jerusalem, and with the de-facto ruler of the UAE, Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, in Abu Dhabi, the report said.

Pompeo is expected to meet with the three leaders during his trip, as well as with Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi.

Israeli officials said Pompeo’s visit will focus on Israel’s agreement with the UAE, and the White House’s push to reimpose UN sanctions on Iran, according to Axios.
Israel-UAE Normalization Deal Said to Be ‘Judo-Inspired’
The International Judo Federation (IJF) and three Israeli judokas agree that the sport played a role in the historic normalization agreement announced by the Jewish state and the UAE last week.

IJF published a story on its website that celebrated the accord, saying, “What if we also told you that it is a judo-inspired agreement? Many would not believe us, although they should.”

“When we address the topic of the pioneers, those who encouraged this rapprochement, those who inspired and promoted an agreement that, at that time, seemed if not impossible, at least extremely complicated, it is necessary to talk about judo,” the IJF added.

In 2015 and 2017, Israeli judokas competed in the Abu Dhabi Grand Slam but were not permitted to showcase any national identification on their uniforms, and they were told that Israel’s anthem and flag would not be presented.

Twelve Israeli judokas brought home five medals from the Abu Dhabi Grand Slam in 2017 and they were all forced to compete under the banner of the IJF. When Israeli judoka Tal Flicker was awarded a gold medal, the IJF flag was raised, and he quietly sang “Hatikvah” to himself as the IJF’s anthem played in the background.

The IJF subsequently suspended the Abu Dhabi Grand Slam tournament in an effort to take a “firm and constructive stance in the fight against discrimination in sport.”

Tournament organizers then agreed to abide by the IJF rules and the tournament was reinstated.

In its story last week, the IJF recalled the sporting breakthrough between Israel and the UAE in October 2018 at the Abu Dhabi Glam Slam when Israeli judokas Sagi Muki and Peter Paltchik individually won gold medals, which led to the raising of the Israeli flag and the playing of “Hatikvah” for the first time in the history of the competition.



UAE said to broker meeting between Mossad chief and top Sudanese official
The head of the Mossad spy agency reportedly met with a senior Sudanese official in a meeting organized and hosted by the United Arab Emirates, Arabic media reports said Friday.

UAE national security adviser Tahnoun bin Zayed Al Nahyan had arranged the sit-down between Yossi Cohen and Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo, the deputy head of Sudan’s ruling military council and was present for it as well, the Qatari news outlet Al-Araby Al-Jadeed reported.

Cohen has been in the UAE to advance last week’s announcement of the US-brokered normalization deal between Jerusalem and Abu Dhabi. Analysts have speculated that the agreement will be followed by similar deals between Israel and other countries in the Arab and Muslim world.

Sources with knowledge of the Cohen-Dagalo meeting told the Arabic-language daily that Sudan’s military council is interested in improving ties with Israel.

The reported conversation capped a roller-coaster week in Israel-Sudan relations.

On Sunday, Intelligence Minister Eli Cohen told the Kan public broadcaster that official ties could be inked between Israel and Sudan by the end of the year.

Asked for comment on the matter, Sudan’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Haidar Badawi Sadiq told Sky News Arabia that Khartoum “aspires towards a peace agreement with Israel… a relationship of equals built upon Khartoum’s interests.”

The remarks were quickly welcomed by Jerusalem.




A journalist who moved from Israel to the UAE shares her experience
It was only when we started with the nitty-gritty of the move that we realized how strange this was going to be. Our friends and contacts would not be able to just pick up the phone and call us (the lack of diplomatic relations between the two countries meant that phone calls between them were not allowed) to advise us on what to plan for and expect. Our stuff needed to be shipped from Israel to a destination outside the UAE before it could come to us. Even our dog had to take a detour and have all her papers and vaccinations re-done in a third country before she was allowed entry.

All through this process, we had Emiratis and other UAE residents helping us. Once we moved here, it was easy settling down and making friends (And thank God for that! Who knew COVID-19 would arrive and we would all go under a lockdown for months?). From day one we felt that warmth and ease of living in this country.

This is a welcoming country. Emiratis have great confidence in themselves and are undaunted by being outnumbered by expatriates in their own country. In fact, they wear it as a badge of honor that people from nearly every country in the world have made the UAE their home.

But even as I made new friends in my new home and got comfortable, I often missed those whom I had left behind in Israel. They too had been just as warm and welcoming to me when I had moved to their country. It bothered us that we could not travel easily to meet each other, or just make a quick call and speak. On August 16, 2020, that suddenly changed. I dialed a number from my phone’s contact list that had not been used for months. My friend picked on the other end and screamed, “Who? You? I can’t believe it!”

This new agreement is a big deal. It will probably have many ramifications in the months and years to come. I hope most of them will be positive for all those involved (including the Palestinians). But today, I just want to celebrate being able to make that phone call.
The writer is a journalist who moved from Israel to the UAE last November and writes a blog under RahRahiRasta.com.
Yasser Arafat's widow apologizes to UAE over insults, burning of flags
Suha Arafat, the widow of former PLO leader Yasser Arafat, has apologized for the burning of Emirati flags in protest of the normalization deal between the UAE and Israel.

The apology, which appeared on Instagram account called “officialsuhayasserarafat,” was welcomed by some UAE citizens but criticized by several Palestinians.

“I want to apologize, in the name of the honorable among the Palestinian people, to the Emirati people and their leadership for the desecration and burning of the UAE flag in Jerusalem and Palestine, and for insulting the symbols of the beloved UAE,” Suha, 57, wrote. “These are not our values, morals, and traditions.”

Addressing Palestinians, Suha said: “Our generations need to read history well to learn how the UAE supported the Palestinian people and cause in the past and present. I apologize to the people and leadership of the UAE for any harm done by any Palestinian to this generous and kind [Emirati] people, who have always welcomed us.”

Suha also apologized to Fatima bint Mubarak, the mother of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed.
New York Times Struggles with Good Middle East News
Good news for Israel seems to prompt teeth-gnashing for some at the New York Times. The announced intention of the United Arab Emirates to normalize peaceful relations with the Jewish state was a diplomatic breakthrough cheered far and wide. But it triggered Jerusalem bureau chief David Halbfinger to let loose a fusillade of ad hominem smears of Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu. (August 13, 2020, “Netanyahu Drops Troubled Plan for Economic Gain”)

The reporter’s coverage notes, reasonably enough, the switch in national priorities from extending Israeli sovereignty in areas of the West Bank to, instead, suspending that effort in favor of opening relations with an Arab nation that had been an adversary. But the thrust of the story is not just that Netanyahu made a politically expedient shift or, less cynically, that he seeks a positive outcome for Israel and the region. Halbfinger attacks the leader’s demeanor, conduct and even his alleged inner feelings.

He insists to readers that Netanyahu is focused on himself and his legacy, saying the leader “craved a historic achievement to cap his tenure,” that he “exulted in a potential legacy,” and that he “saw as securing his legacy” the “annexing [of] West Bank territory.”

Undisclosed is how the reporter reads the mind and heart of the leader and distinguishes between exhilaration over this important breakthrough making Israel stronger and safer and the narcissistic, narrow motives Halbfinger discerns.

Halbfinger also sees a “rabbit-in-the-hat quality” in Israel’s detente with the UAE, terming it “vintage Netanyahu.” Actually, the diplomatic achievement was years in the making. Here too the editorial comment is belittling.
CNN Op-Ed Manipulates Israel-UAE Deal to Spread Vicious Lies
While the shock announcement last week that Israel and the United Arab Emirates has been warmly received by many, the blowback has been all-too-predictable. Chief among the accusations has been that any progress on normalization with Israel is problematic since it empowers Israel to continue managing the situation without resolving it together with the Palestinians.

Though many may disagree vehemently, that’s a legitimate opinion, one which people are allowed to express in an editorial in the media. But a piece by Yousef Munayyer published on the CNN website this week crossed the line and opportunistically used recent developments to smear Israel.

Entitled “Opinion: UAE helps normalize Israeli oppression,” Munayyer’s piece features a litany of lies and half-truths – and CNN must be held accountable for allowing such demonstrable falsehoods to be disseminated on any of its platforms.

Already in the second paragraph, Munayyer makes a spectacularly disingenuous claim:
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US President Donald Trump — neither of whom seem to be particularly interested in peace, justice or equality.”

It takes a special kind of politically-motivated ideologue to witness an historic move towards a peace deal, only to claim that the leaders responsible do not “seem to be particularly interested in peace.” Let’s not forget that – love him or loathe him – Netanyahu signed the Wye River Memorandum in the White House together with Yasser Arafat in October 1998, to resume the implementation of the Oslo Accords. And in 1997, Netanyahu was as signatory to the Hebron Agreement that saw the IDF withdraw from 80% of the ancient city, which for all intents and purposes was transferred to Palestinian control. This, despite Hebron being a site of huge significance for the Jewish people.
German Embrace of Israel Boycotts Generates Calls for Increased U.S. Diplomatic Pressure
Growing support for Israel boycotts among leftist German political parties is generating tension in the diplomatic relationship with the United States, according to a new report that urges American lawmakers to hold their German counterparts accountable for embracing a movement that many view as anti-Semitic.

The Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a nonpartisan think tank with close ties to the Trump administration, is calling on U.S. lawmakers to increase pressure on Germany to cut ties with the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement (BDS), a global coalition that wages economic warfare on the Jewish state. The report is a first-of-its-kind exploration of why the BDS movement rose in Germany and is attracting support among more radical voices in the country's parliament. Support for the BDS movement in Germany and other European nations comes amid a global surge in anti-Semitism.

The report, titled, "Boykott: Germany's Battle Against the Delegitimization of Israel," has been provided to senior Trump administration officials at the State Department who are tasked with combating the BDS movement in Europe. These officials vowed to increase pressure on European backers of the BDS movement and use legal authorities to defend businesses targeted by the movement.

Germany is a special case study when it comes to BDS due to its complicated relationship with the Holocaust and efforts to make amends for the atrocities committed during World War II. While Berlin enjoys relatively close diplomatic ties with Israel, support for the BDS movement has risen in the country's left-of-center political parties. As with other European supporters of the BDS movement, those who back boycotts view them as a means to pressure Israel into making political concessions to the Palestinians.
WHO says coronavirus pandemic could be over in under 2 years
The world should be able to rein in the coronavirus pandemic in under two years, the World Health Organization said on Friday, as European nations battled rising numbers of new cases.

Western Europe has been enduring the kind of infection levels not seen in many months, particularly in Germany, France, Spain and Italy — sparking fears of a full-fledged second wave.

In the Spanish capital Madrid, officials recommended people in the most affected areas stay at home to help curb the spread as the country registered more than 8,000 new cases in 24 hours.

France also reported a second consecutive day of more than 4,000 new cases — numbers not seen since May — with metropolitan areas accounting for most of those infections.

But WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus sought to draw favorable comparisons with the notorious flu pandemic of 1918.

“We have a disadvantage of globalization, closeness, connectedness, but an advantage of better technology, so we hope to finish this pandemic before less than two years,” he told reporters.
Coronavirus: Israel surpasses 100,000 cases, death toll over 800
Israel surpassed 100,000 cases of coronavirus over the weekend and 800 people dead, the Health Ministry reported. At the same time, coronavirus commissioner Prof. Ronni Gamzu said he hopes to keep the country out of lockdown during the High Holy Days. He said that Israelis traveling to Uman, Ukraine, however, could close the country down.

There were 100,856 cases since the start of the pandemic, the ministry showed Saturday night, including 22,393 who are still infected.

On average, some 1,378 people are diagnosed with the virus per day, a Friday morning report by the Coronavirus National Information and Knowledge Center said. On Friday, 1,492 people tested positive for the virus – 5.5% of those who were screened.

To bring the cases down to around 400 per day – the goal of Gamzu – it would take more than 90 days, the center showed.

The coronavirus cabinet is set to convene on Monday to review and finalize a series of potential restrictions and closures meant to halt the spread of the virus. On Thursday, Gamzu presented two plans to ministers to evaluate. Both plans include new restrictions and partial closures on Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and Sukkot.

However, in an interview with N12, Gamzu stressed that he still hopes to keep Israel out of lockdown over Rosh Hashanah. To do so, he said, the police will need to step up enforcement.

“Enforcement [of Health Ministry directives] in Israel is not good enough,” Gamzu told N12. “We need public order.”
Rockets intercepted in South, IDF strikes Hamas posts
IDF tanks struck Hamas observation posts early Saturday morning in retaliation for a rocket that was fired towards southern Israel from the Gaza Strip the previous night, as Defense Minister Benny Gantz warned groups in the coastal enclave against continued rocket fire and incendiary balloon attacks.

“IDF tanks struck military posts of the terrorist organization Hamas in the southern Gaza Strip,” the Israeli military said in a statement.

Though IDF troops were seen shooting down some of the balloons launched from the Hamas-run enclave, others ignited some 35 fires throughout the day on Saturday.

On Friday, thousands of Israelis scrambled for shelter as a rocket was fired from Gaza. It was intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system.

As a result of the major uptick in violence, Defense Minister and Alternate Prime Minister Benny Gantz attended a situational briefing led by IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi and commander of the Southern Command Maj.-Gen. Hertzi Halevi on Friday.

After attending the evaluation, Gantz warned Hamas that the IDF would strongly retaliate.

“I’ve just finished an evaluation with the IDF chief of staff following the continued attacks on southern Israel,” Gantz said. “The IDF is prepared and will keep protecting residents of the South and attacking those who attack us. We will deal a very heavy blow if need be.”

As part of examining possible courses of action, Kochavi “heard an intelligence briefing and approved an exercise for examining the division’s alertness and preparedness for possible scenarios,” according to Ynet.
Sderot mayor to Netanyahu, Gantz: Wake up, we're at war
Sderot Mayor Alon Davidi criticized Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Benny Gantz for the recent escalation on the Gaza border, Ynet reported Friday night.

"In a week when everyone is talking about 'peace in exchange for peace,' I cannot understand what world they are talking about," Davidi said late Friday, referring to Israel's recent establishment of official diplomatic ties with the United Arab Emirates.

Last Thursday, Netanyahu announced that the UAE had agreed to sign a peace accord with the State of Israel, normalizing diplomatic relationships.

"We are in war, struck by rockets and lacking basic security for our residents," he continued. Sirens sounded in Sderot and the surrounding Gaza border communities on Friday. A Qassam rocket launched toward the city was intercepted by the Iron Dome, according to the IDF.

Over the last several days, at least twelve rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip toward Gaza border communities. Launches also targeted the southern cities of Sderot and Ashkelon. While most rockets were intercepted, one projectile hit a house in Sderot, causing extensive damage.

According to Kan News, the rockets targeting the South over the past several days were launched by Hamas. Unlike previous cycles of violence, with Hamas turning a blind eye to smaller factions launching rockets, this wave of strikes was carried out by Izz a-Din al-Qassam, Hamas' military wing, KAN said.

The IDF has carried out a series of airstrikes in recent nights following the rocket fire, targeting Hamas posts in the Strip after at least 12 projectiles were launched into Israeli territory.
Israel cries foul, warns of disaster as sewage flows in from across Gaza border
Israeli officials warned of an ecological disaster in southern Israel on Saturday as sewage from the Gaza Strip spilled across the border.

The officials alleged that the outflow was a deliberate act by Palestinians in the Strip.

“In recent days, Palestinians in the Strip threatened that if there was not fuel for sewage generators in the Strip they will close, and all the flow will go to Israel. Apparently they went through with the threat,” one official said, according to the Ynet news site.

Israel restricted fuel imports through the Kerem Shalom crossing into the Strip earlier this month as waves of arson balloons ignited scores of fires in southern Israel. The border closure led to the shutdown of Gaza’s sole power plant last week.

Hamas called the closure of the commercial crossing an aggressive action and a crime for which the Jewish state “bears all consequences and repercussions.”

There are already estimated thousands of cubic meters of overflow spilling into Israel, the report said.
Owner of ship tied to Beirut blast had links to Hezbollah’s bank — report
The ship that carried the huge supply of ammonium nitrate that exploded earlier this month at Beirut’s port was reportedly owned by a Cypriot businessman with ties to a bank used by the Hezbollah terror group, and not in fact a Russian national.

The Rhosus, which sailed under a Moldovan flag, headed from Georgia to Mozambique in September 2013 with 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate, a volatile chemical commonly used in fertilizers and in explosives.

The ship, which was leaking and had other technical defects, docked in Beirut to pick up more cargo, but never left the Lebanese capital, as it was deemed unseaworthy by local authorities and had failed to pay fees.

The ammonium nitrate was then kept in unsafe storage at the port for years, despite numerous appeals by officials to remove the hazardous substance from the city.

Following the August 4 blast, which killed at least 180 people and wounded thousands more, reports said the Rhosus was owned by Igor Grechushkin. However, a report released Friday by German weekly Der Spiegel and the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) said the vessel was in fact owned by Charalambos Manoli and that Grechushkin only chartered the Rhosus.

After claiming he sold the Rhosus to Grechushkin, Manoli acknowledged to OCCRP that the Russian businessman had tried to buy it from him, but refused to give any further information.
Switzerland may ban terrorist organization Hezbollah
The central European country Switzerland may follow the decision made by its neighbor Germany and ban all Hezbollah activities within its territory.

The Swiss federal council agreed on Wednesday to examine an application titled “Report on the activities of the Shi’ite Islamist Hezbollah in Switzerland.” The Jerusalem Post reviewed the application that could lead to a full ban of the global terrorist movement Hezbollah in Switzerland.

The initiative was launched by the Christian Democratic People's Party of Switzerland, when party politician Marianne Binder submitted the initiative in June.

The language of the anti-Hezbollah legislative initiative reads that “On April 30, 2020, Germany banned all activities of the Shi'ite Islamist Hezbollah. Germany justified the decision with the fact that Hezbollah is calling for armed struggle and rejecting Israel's right to exist.”

The initiative continues that “The EU previously banned the [military] arm that engaged in terrorist activities. It is not known which activities Hezbollah is developing in Switzerland. In view of the neutrality of Switzerland, however, the activities of Hezbollah cannot be legitimized and a report is also advisable for reasons of security policy.”

A full ban of Hezbollah’s activities Switzerland would mean that the Lebanese organization’s symbols would be banned and its bank accounts and assets seized and frozen within Swiss territory.
Erdogan tests Iraq’s sovereignty in latest round of airstrikes
Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi must draw a red line to thwart Turkey’s aggression.

A Turkish airstrike in northern Iraq killed two high-ranking Iraqi security officials on Tuesday. The attack occurred in the Sidekhan area, a remote mountain region near the Turkish-Iraqi border, which has long been a target of Ankara’s raids and airstrikes. The strike targeted a vehicle belonging to the two border guard commanders who were previously engaged in discussions with the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). Turkish forces frequently target the PKK in Iraq, a group designated as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the US and the European Union. In the last year, however, Turkey has escalated its military campaign along its shared border with Iraq.

The latest attack marks the first time members of the Iraqi forces have been killed since Turkey launched two parallel land and air operations, Operation Claw-Tiger and Operation Claw-Eagle, in June. Turkey’s defense ministry claimed more than 150 targets were struck by rocket launchers and artillery guns during the joint operations. Ankara justified this military campaign as a necessary counter-terror measure against PKK militants. Since the onset of these operations, at least five civilians have been killed.

The Iraqi military immediately denounced Turkey’s latest military campaign as a “flagrant aggression.” The Turkish ambassador, Fatih Yildiz, was summoned to submit a letter of protest over the airstrike by the Iraqi foreign ministry due to Turkey’s “violations and breaches, including the latest drone attack which killed two officers and a solider.” Iraq’s foreign ministry then announced Baghdad would cancel a planned visit by Turkey’s defense minister.
UN Supports 'World's Worst State Sponsor of Terrorism,' Iran
Europe's leaders also did not support extending the arms embargo. They have been arguing that they want to preserve the nuclear deal. What deal? The deal that Iran never signed? The deal that Iran has been violating anyway?

The European powers have also ignored a recent plea by Iran's neighbors to extend the arms embargo, as well as a recent statement made by the IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi, who raised serious concerns about possible clandestine and undeclared nuclear sites in Iran.

The six-country Gulf Cooperation Council -- Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates -- submitted a plea to the UN Security Council to extend the Iranian arms embargo. The letter accurately stated that "Iran has not ceased or desisted from armed interventions in neighboring countries, directly and through organizations and movements armed and trained by Iran. As such, it is inappropriate to lift the restrictions on conventional weapons' movement to and from Iran until it abandons its destabilizing activities in the region and ceases to provide weapons to terrorist and sectarian organizations."

The UN's decisions to allow "the world's worst state sponsor of terrorism," freely to have an unlimited supply chain of conventional weapons may sadly go down in history as one of the most dangerous acts against stability and world peace.
US claims countdown to restoring Iran sanctions underway, dismissing opposition
The Trump administration on Friday dismissed near universal opposition to its demand to restore all UN sanctions on Iran, declaring that a 30-day countdown for the “snapback” of penalties eased under the 2015 nuclear deal had begun.

US allies and foes have joined forces to declare the action illegal and doomed to failure, but US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and US special envoy for Iran Brian Hook strongly disagreed and questioned the motives of those who object.

Opponents say the Washington lost the standing to trigger a snapback when US President Donald Trump withdrew from the nuclear deal in 2018. Pompeo and Hook maintain that the United States retains that right and doesn’t need permission to use it.

“We don’t need anyone’s permission,” Hook told reporters in a briefing Friday. “Iran is in violation of its voluntary nuclear commitments. The condition has been met to initiate snapback. And so we have now started to initiate snapback.”

He said that “whether people support or oppose what we’re doing is not material,” adding that “today is day one of the 30-day process.”

The five countries now in dispute with the US administration — Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany — remain supporters of the 2015 nuclear deal, which the Obama administration backed, to rein in Iran’s nuclear program and prevent its development of nuclear weapons.


UNSC members decry ‘illegal’ US triggering of snapback sanctions on Iran
Thirteen of the 15 United Nations Security Council members have refused to recognize the legality of a United States maneuver to abolish the Iran deal by triggering a formal process Thursday that would snap back UNSC sanctions against Tehran by September 19.

“We urge the US not to act arbitrarily against the world’s will. Otherwise, it will meet further opposition,” the spokesperson for the Chinese Foreign Affairs Ministry tweeted on Friday.

China, and 12 other UNSC members, have already written letters to the UN opposing the move. These members include: Britain, France, Germany, Belgium, Russia, Vietnam, Niger, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, South Africa, Indonesia, Estonia and Tunisia.

The Dominican Republic has yet to make its stance public. Earlier this month it was the only country, along with the United States, to support a move to extend the UNSC arms embargo against Iran, which runs out on October 18. A snapback of UNSC sanctions against Iran would also include an arms embargo.

“Our message is very, very simple: the United States will never allow the world’s largest state sponsor of terrorism to freely buy and sell planes, tanks, missiles and other kinds of conventional weapons. These UN sanctions will continue the arms embargo,” US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told reporters at the UN on Thursday.

He spoke after he and US Ambassador to the UN Kelly Craft formally submitted a request to snap back the sanctions.
German antisemitism chief to 'Post': UN weapons embargo on Iran is needed
In a rare show of support for the security of the Jewish state and greater Middle East stability from a German official on Friday, the commissioner to combat antisemitism in the state of Hesse, Uwe Becker, told The Jerusalem Post that the UN weapons embargo against Iran should be extended.

“The reason of state (raison d'ร‰tat) of the Iranian regime is the destruction of Israel," Becker said. "If Germany takes its own reason of state – the right of existence of the Jewish State – seriously, it must stand clear for continuing the arms embargo, freeze its relations with the mullah Regime in Tehran and thus send a clear and unequivocal signal to the Iranian leadership.”

He added that “It is not a question of a policy against the Iranian people, who are even deprived of important freedom rights by their own government, but of a clear position towards the political leadership in Tehran.”

Germany’s government abstained in the United Nations Security Council vote last week to extend the UN embargo against selling weapons to Iran’s regime. The abstention was viewed by critics, including the US, as siding with the clerical regime in Tehran.

Becker said that “When it comes to the question if the Iranian regime is a reliable government whom you can trust, the simple answer is no. Over the past years, while officially upholding the nuclear deal, the mullah regime has enhanced its medium-range missile program, so that medium-range weapons can reach the territory of the EU. Those weapons are effective in their real and therefore deterrent role only, if they can be equipped with nuclear warheads, which shows the real mid-term strategy of Iran.”

Entire leadership of Britain's biggest Muslim charity QUITS in antisemitism row after it replaced disgraced trustee with director who branded terrorists 'heroes' and shared posts glorifying attacks on 'Zionist enemy' Israel
The entire board of Britain's largest Muslim charity are to resign today after anti-semitic posts by one of its directors - who had been brought in to replace a disgraced trustee - were uncovered.

Islamic Relief Worldwide (IRW), based in Birmingham, acknowledged last night that the Facebook posts were 'inappropriate and unacceptable', and its board of trustees would stand down and not seek election to a new board today.

The charity had already been rocked by scandal after director Heshmat Khalifa was found to have called Israelis the 'grandchildren of monkeys and pigs' and Egypt's president a 'pimp son of the Jews'.

When Mr Khalifa's Facebook posts were revealed by The Times in July, IRW said it was 'appalled by the hateful comments', and confirmed he had resigned.

The international aid agency also pledged that it was 'reviewing our processes for screening trustees' and senior executives' social media posts to ensure that this will not happen again'.

His board seat was taken by another IRW trustee and director, Almoutaz Tayara, who is also the chairman of Islamic Relief Germany.

But it has now been revealed that Dr Tayara, in posts on his own Facebook account, called leaders of militant Palestinian group Hamas as 'great men' who responded to the 'divine and holy call of the Muslim Brotherhood'.

In another, he posted an image of former President Barack Obama wearing a tie branded with the Star of David, with Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and President Assad of Syria on his lap with quote marks saying 'Death to America!' and 'Death... death'.


CAMERA prompts BBC News amendment on number of peace deals signed
Early versions of the BBC News website’s initial report on the agreement between Israel and the United Arab Emirates – ‘Israel and UAE strike historic deal to normalise relations’, August 13th 2020 – informed readers that:

“The agreement marks only the third Israel-Arab peace deal since Israel’s declaration of independence in 1948. Egypt signed one in 1979, and Jordan in 1994.”

Our colleagues at CAMERA Arabic contacted the BBC to point out that an agreement was also signed between Israel and Mauritania in 1999 (but was suspended by Mauritania a decade later) meaning that the UAE-Israel deal is the fourth, rather than the third, since 1948.

The BBC News website responded:
“Thank you for getting in touch about our article Israel and UAE strike historic deal to normalise relations.

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu described this as “the third formal peace deal between Israel and an Arab nation” and we stand by our wording.

However we’ve since added a line in the article which also refers to the Mauritania deal, which was frozen by Mauritania in 2009.”
More evidence of Saudi influence over Independent Arabia
The winds of normalisation seem to be blowing even inside the editorial boardroom of Independent Arabia (a joint venture of the UK based Independent and the Saudi media group SRMG), perhaps the most problematic Arabic media outlet among those bearing a Western name and a commitment to professional standards.

Last night (August 19th) it was Independent Arabia’s editor in chief Adhwan Alahmari who released the following statement on twitter:
“Saudi Arabia’s adherence to the [2002 Arab League] peace initiative is its long standing position, yet it may transform in the future. The region’s variables and the fuss over the relations with Israel will change the way to interact with the Palestinian cause. The public sentiment became flexible towards any contact with Tel Aviv; natural reactions to the shows of disavowal and insult which some Palestinians have been exercising for decades. [It’s a] fact.”

Just like in the case of the website’s change of policy regarding Nakba Day, the statement is a result of Saudi resentments towards Palestinians, once again articulated by the news outlet’s chief editor, via twitter.

However, as we noted back then, this only further proves Riyadh’s oversight of the news outlet agenda, and it’s not likely to make its reporting any more impartial, as positive as the coverage of Israel might become over time.
Antisemitic Protests Outside Michigan Synagogue Are Allowed, District Judge Rules
Antisemitic protests that have been staged outside a synagogue in Michigan, for nearly two decades will be allowed to continue, a local judge ruled this week.

The demonstrations, featuring signs that say “Jewish Power Corrupts” and “Resist Jewish Power,” have been taking place during Shabbat services at Beth Israel Synagogue in Ann Arbor.

Some members said their right to worship had been violated by offensive signs that caused emotional distress. But US District Judge Victoria Roberts said the protests were protected by the First Amendment, The Detroit News reported.

“There is no allegation that the protesters prevent plaintiffs from attending Sabbath services, that they block plaintiffs’ path onto the property or to the synagogue, or that the protests and signs outside affect the services inside,” Roberts said on Wednesday.

Peaceful demonstrations were “entitled to the highest level of constitutional protection, even if it disturbs, is offensive and causes emotional distress,” the judge posited.

Ziporah Reich, co-counsel for synagogue members, said a request for reconsideration was planned.

“The court is effectively saying that the emotional distress experienced by Jews in reaction to the antisemitic slurs hurled at them every week for 16 years in front of their house of worship, is insufficient injury to grant them access to federal court,” Reich stated.
Memorial wall at site of Nazi massacre in French village defaced with word ‘lie’
Vandals have scrawled graffiti on a wall in the village that was the site of the biggest massacre of French civilians by the Nazis during World War II, questioning whether the atrocity took place.

France’s justice minister vowed on Saturday that those responsible would be brought to justice.

Officials in Oradour-Sur-Glane, near Limoges in central France, threw up a tarp to cover the graffiti discovered Friday on the wall at the entrance to the Center for Remembrance.

The word “Lie” was scrawled on the wall, along with other graffiti, according to the regional paper Le Populaire du Centre. The inscription “Martyr Village” was crossed out.

“Shame on those who did this,” Justice Minister Eric Dupond-Moretti tweeted. “All will be done to find and judge those who committed these sacrilegious acts.”

Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin denounced the “abject filth” in a Friday night tweet. Prime Minister Jean Castex said the graffiti “dirties the memory of our martyrs.”

Troops from the fanatical SS “Das Reich’’ division were responsible for killing 642 villagers on June 10, 1944, herding them into barns and a church and setting the town on fire.
French government condemns vandalism at site of Nazi massacre
French government officials on Saturday said they would work to track down those responsible for defacing a memorial to the victims of a Nazi massacre during World War Two, which was painted over with graffiti calling the killings a lie.

The site, at the village of Oradour-sur-Glane near the western city of Limoges, commemorates the hundreds of men, women and children who were killed in June 1944 by an SS division.

The word "martyr" on the memorial was crossed out, with "menteur" or "liar" daubed next to it.

"Nothing can erase the memory of our 642 martyrs of Oradour-sur-Glane," French President Emmanuel Macron said on Twitter.

Prime Minister Jean Castex said in a statement that everything would be done to bring those behind the "disgraceful acts" to justice.
Man who threatened Jews for not complying with restrictions pleads guilty
Anthony Lodespoto, 43, who was accused of threatening to assault members of Lakewood's Jewish community via Facebook pleaded guilty earlier this month, according to the Ocean County Prosecutor's Office.

Lodespoto was arrested on March and was originally charged with making second-degree terrorist threats amid a state of emergency, which came into effect in the US on March 1, 2020, as means of dealing with the coronavirus pandemic.

According to the Ocean County Prosecutor's Office, Lodespoto indicated a desire to assault members of Lakewood's Jewish community with a baseball bat, and specifically residents who did not comply with coronavirus restrictions imposed by New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy, who also received a Facebook message from Lodespoto.

Oddly enough, Lodespoto apparently was deeply bothered by certain people who were not complying with the orders banning gatherings of more than 10 people, and thought the best way of dealing with them was through threats on social media. Even more suspicious, is the fact that Lodespoto targeted Jewish residents specifically, as if they were the only members of the community interfering with the statewide effort to slow the spread of the virus.

In a statement earlier this year, Lakewood authorities said that Lodespoto "made specific threats to cause harm to members of the Jewish community for not complying with the orders set forth" by the governor.


Ex-Cleveland Clinic resident makes antisemitic posts, has license revoked
Lara Kollab, a former Cleveland Clinic resident, had her certification permanently revoked by The State Medical Board of Ohio on August 12 after making antisemitic social media posts, Cleveland.com reported. She is now “permanently prohibited from practicing osteopathic medicine or surgery in the state of Ohio, or from participating in another medical training program,” the website added.

In revoking her certificate, the board cited 11 posts she wrote from August 2011-September 2013, and a January 2012 tweet in which she wrote that she would give Jewish patients the wrong medication, Cleveland.com reported.

“hahha ewww.. ill purposely give all the yahood [Jews] the wrong meds…,” Kollab tweeted in January 2012.

When she was accepted to Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine, a private Jewish university in New York City, she deleted the tweets and comments, but some were already preserved as screenshots.

In an August 2013 post, Kollab wrote in Arabic, “May Allah take back [end the lives] of the Jews so we stop being forced to go to those unclean ones.”

In December 2018, after the posts were discovered, Kollab was fired.
More than 30 headstones damaged at South African Jewish cemetery
More than 30 headstones were damaged at a Jewish cemetery east of Cape Town, South Africa.

The vandalism at the Oudtshoorn Jewish cemetery, located about 200 miles east of Cape Town, is the first major incident of its kind there, according to Bernard Herman, the head of the Oudtshoorn Chevra Kadisha, the local Jewish burial society.

“We intend to restore all the affected headstones at this stage,” Berman said in an article published Thursday on the website of the Cape-area office of the South African Jewish Board of Deputies umbrella group. The report didn’t say when the graves had been toppled.

“We intend on laying them flat, as has been the policy in the last couple of years, but this will be the next project once repairs have been done,” Berman added.

Repairs will come at the cost of Cape Town community, which is getting smaller and has no source of income for cemetery upkeep, Berman also said.

“We are fighting a losing battle in our small and shrinking Jewish community,” he said.
Teens on TikTok masquerade as Holocaust victims, drawing ire of Jewish users
Young people on the social network platform TikTok are pretending to be Holocaust victims in heaven in short videos, shocking some Jewish users on the platform.

In most of the clips, young women and teens act out a fictionalized story of a victim in the afterlife, donning costumes and make-up meant to show bruises and burn marks on their faces.

The videos nearly always mention Auschwitz and often use the Bruno Mars song “Locked out of Heaven” as a soundtrack.

The clips have garnered tens of thousands of views and positive reactions on the network.

The series of videos is part of a larger TikTok trend of point-of-view videos, where users of the video platform act out a fictional situation.

TikTok declined to comment on the trend, but it apparently does not violate any of its guidelines because it does not qualify as hate speech, Wired reported.

One of the creators of the videos told the news site: “I wanted to spread awareness and share out to everyone the reality behind the camps by sharing my Jewish grandmother’s story.”

It was unclear whether most of the creators were Jewish.
As Cars Grow More Vulnerable to Cyber-Attacks, Israeli Company Takes Lead in New Solutions
A leading Israeli automotive cybersecurity company is teaming up with an innovation lab that was opened by the Renault and Nissan car manufactures to build new cybersecurity technologies for the vehicle market.

Cybellum, an Israeli company established in 2016, announced last month that it will work with the Alliance Innovation Lab, which was founded in 2019 in Tel Aviv by Renault and Nissan.

One of the main focus areas of the Alliance Innovation Lab Tel Aviv is cybersecurity.

Speaking to JNS, Cybellum CEO Slava Bronfman said the old days in which cars were offline are over.

“There is communication in between the car’s components,” he explained. “The touchscreen can lead to the brakes. The modern vehicle is a dense network, like an IT network in an organization. When you hit the brakes, this is not mechanical anymore—you send a message from the brake pedal to the internal system and to the smart brake on wheel.”

“This world has changed a lot,” said Bronfman. “With Alliance, we will work on the new architecture of vehicles, and conduct risk analysis of the interconnectivity of the whole vehicle. We will simulate not only cyber vulnerabilities, but also the full attack chain on entire vehicle.”

Asked how cyber-attackers can reach vehicles, Bronfman said would-be thieves can now open cars with phone applications and even start engines this way. They can approach vehicles with digital keys and get the engine going, he added.

“Today’s smart vehicles are connected to Internet. They have their own SIM cards. After you get into the car, it broadcasts data to the manufacturer over the Internet, such as GPS data and speed,” said Bronfman. “Applications like Spotify, Netflix and Skype connect into car’s internal system.”
Check out Israel’s 10 most unusual wild animals
Remember nature? That nice, wild, outdoor concept that once upon a time we used to visit, admire and litter no end? Well, it’s still there, and probably doing all the better now that humanity isn’t out and about destroying it.

The same could probably be said for its inhabitants that are now freely roaming their environment, undisturbed by pesky people. And while they don’t miss us, we certainly miss them – the cute, unusual and above all outdoorsy wild animals of Israel – but for the time being will have to make do with sighting them through our computer screens.

6. Caracal (Caracal caracal)

A beautiful wild feline species, caracals can be found across Israel, from the Golan Heights down to the Dead Sea, and actually seem to have grown in number and distribution over the years.

Caracals usually live on their own but have also been sighted in small groups. Although they live on land, they’re also expert tree climbers and mostly hunt down hares and partridges.

Despite not being in danger of extinction, they are considered a vulnerable animal and it is illegal to kill them, as sometimes happens worldwide, with poachers after the meat and skins and farmers out to protect their livestock.

Holocaust survivor architect designs memorial for Albanians who rescued Jews
In the world of New York architecture, Stephen Jacobs is known for his multimillion-dollar creations, such as the Hotel Gansevoort, a swanky boutique hotel with a rooftop bar that was the first luxury hotel in the city’s trendy Meatpacking District.

But Jacobs recently finished a much different project — and charged nothing.

For several years he worked to design a Holocaust memorial for Albania’s capital. Unveiled last month at the entrance to the Grand Park of Tirana, the simple memorial features three stone plaques — in Albanian, English and Hebrew — that highlight the stories of Albanians who saved Jews during World War II.

Jacobs, 81, agreed to work on the memorial after learning that Albania was the only country in Europe that had more Jews after WWII than it did before. In addition to not handing over any Jews to the Nazis, hundreds of Jews fleeing other countries were offered shelter in the Muslim-majority country.

“I thought this was a very important story that needed to be told,” he said.

His motivation goes beyond wanting to highlight the bravery of Albanians during the war. Jacobs himself is a Holocaust survivor who spent time in a Nazi concentration camp as a child.

“For me this is not simply about designing. This is sort of a personal experience,” he said.



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