Sunday, September 13, 2020

From Ian:

What Bahrain’s deal with Israel really means
Noxious or not, his policy had a larger strategic purpose, one that is bearing fruit in recent agreements. Trump was backing the Saudi regime, brutal as it was, because he cared more about their political stability and partnership against the Iran regime than about their deadly assaults on human rights. He may also have remembered that human rights interventions can entangle the US, as they did in Somalia, or lead to chaos and catastrophe, as they did in Libya. In any case, Trump effectively brushed off the killing of Khashoggi and continued to support the Saudi regime, which remained close to Washington, kept pumping oil, and bought more arms to cope with Iran.

By pulling back from direct military engagement in the Middle East while he promoted hardline opposition to Iran, Donald Trump has forced all Arab-Muslim states in the region to choose between appeasing the mullahs or making a common front against them. The Bahrain and UAE agreements with Israel show that they are choosing the latter option. It was Trump’s White House, not the State Department, behind those deals.

The most important potential agreement is between Israel and Saudi Arabia. That’s still far from certain. The Saudis have moved cautiously, despite their strategic vulnerability. There has been a lot of quiet military cooperation with Israel, but few public signs of it. That’s understandable. The Saudi royal family is well aware of their narrow political base and their vulnerability to extreme religious movements, within the Kingdom and outside of it. They know open cooperation with the Jewish state is risky business for a regime whose legitimacy depends on their role as Guardians of the Two Holy Mosques. That is why Mohammad bin Salman is waiting for Saudi Arabia’s friends in the Gulf and North Africa to move first.

Bahrain’s agreement with Israel is another important step in assembling a Washington-led coalition against a major strategic threat. It parallels Trump’s strategy in the Indo-Pacific region, where he is assembling a coalition against an even bigger enemy, reinforced by economic sanctions and military deterrence. These coalitions, Trump’s reluctance to put American troops in harm’s way, and his public denunciation of Nato partners for free riding on the common defense represent the biggest changes in American foreign policy since the end of the Cold War.
Seth Frantzman: Why Oman’s support for Bahrain-Israel deal is important for the Gulf
Oman’s support for the Bahrain-Israel deal is not entirely surprising since the Gulf nation that was the original trial balloon in 2018 welcoming Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Oman’s wording of its support argues that the Bahraini step to normalize relations is linked to achieving peace by ending Israel’s occupation in the West Bank and establishing a Palestinian capital in east Jerusalem. Al-Ain and other Gulf media emphasized this point.

The goal of Oman over the last two years has been to help pave the way for countries to be more open to Israel. This was clear in 2018 and early 2019 as Oman stressed this point in forums such as during the Manama Dialogue meeting in 2019. The Sultanate also pushed this point again in Jordan at a meeting near the Dead Sea. The concept was to welcome Israel’s integration into the region. Bahrain has made this point as well.

However, Oman has also been traditionally closer to Iran, serving as a kind of neutral state. It is not close to Turkey though, which is important for Riyadh and Abu Dhabi. Thus Oman plays a unique role. Its openness to Israel was well received in Washington in the lead-up and aftermath of Netanyahu's 2018 trip.

In 2020, Oman went through a leadership change when Sultan Qaboos died. A new foreign minister was named in mid-August. Some believed that winds of change might make Oman less open to Israel. But the recent statement signals the opposite.

What’s important here is the growing consensus in these statements of an emerging Gulf paradigm on Israel and normalization. Praising the deal is now becoming a natural and encouraged part of public statements from the alliance system anchored in Riyadh. This includes the statements by Egypt’s leader Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and also Oman.

Caroline Glick: America And The EU—A One-Way Alliance
Whether the issue is Balkan peace, the International Criminal Court, Iran's nuclear program, Russian gas deals or China's 5G network, the EU always adopts positions that reject American leadership. Whatever issue is on the table at any particular moment, if the U.S. has a strong interest in a certain outcome—even if Europe ostensibly shares the U.S.'s goal—the EU adopts a policy opposed to the U.S.

Part of this owes to a freeloader mentality. The EU trusts that the U.S. will achieve its goals and Europe will be the beneficiary of American victories. At the same time, by opposing the U.S., Europe will maintain its close ties with America's enemies at America's expense and to Europe's financial and diplomatic benefit.

Israel is a story in and of itself. The EU doesn't have a unified policy about Kosovar independence. States with separatist minorities like Spain oppose it. States that have no such issues support it. The EU is similarly divided on all issues—except Israel.

The EU's only consistent foreign policy is its hostility towards Israel. When Stano said the notion that a state seeking EU membership would locate its embassy in Israel's capital city is "a matter of serious concern and regret," he was saying that no opposition is possible in the EU's passive-aggressive and continuous drive to weaken and delegitimize the Jewish state.

The Trump administration's domestic opponents have consistently blamed the president for "alienating our European allies." But the fact is, the administration has done nothing hostile to the EU. U.S. foreign policy under Trump aims at advancing U.S. interests by, among other things, promoting the cause of peace in the Middle East, blocking the spread of weapons of mass destruction to rogue regimes, defeating terror forces and blunting China's rise as a global superpower.

U.S. allies, whether in Europe or elsewhere, should applaud and support these efforts. The EU's vicious and sinister response to the Serbia-Kosovo agreement indicates that for all the talk of the Atlantic alliance, that alliance is in reality a one-way street.

Bahrain-Israel Normalization: The Beginning of the End of a Lengthy Process
Reversing Course on Palestinian Refugees
The US ambassador to Bahrain, William Monroe, met with Bahraini king Hamad ibn Isa Al Khalifa on February 15, 2005. During the meeting, the king told Monroe that his country had intelligence contacts with Israel and that they would be willing to explore expanding the relationship to other areas. He also told Monroe that he told the Bahraini information minister to cease referring to Israel as the “enemy” or the “Zionist entity.”

In October 2007, the Bahraini foreign minister Sheikh Khaled bin Ahmed Al Khalifa met with a delegation from the American Jewish Committee and told them that he does not believe that Palestinian refugees should return to Israel – breaking from the decades-old Arab demand that hundreds of thousands of Palestinians be allowed to return to Israel proper. He also met with Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni at the UN General Assembly that same month.

Reaching Out to the Israeli Public?
When Benjamin Netanyahu became prime minister in 2009, Khalifa relayed a message to the Israeli government that he would be willing to meet with Netanyahu to try and advance the peace process. On July 16 of that same year Bahrain’s crown prince, Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, called for Arab leaders to address the Israeli public directly and not through secretive government channels.

US envoy to the Middle East George Mitchell met with the crown prince on July 28, and the prince told Mitchell that he wanted to address the fears of the Israeli people in order to empower Netanyahu to advance peace in the region. However, the meeting with Netanyahu and a direct appeal to the Israeli people never occurred.

The most dramatic step in the relationship between the two countries took place in September 2017, when the king publicly denounced the Arab League boycott of Israel in an event at the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles and told his citizens that they were free to travel to Israel.

Related Reading: The Three Noes That Set the Mideast on Course of Conflict

Bahrain recognized Israel’s right to exist in May 2018, the foreign ministers of the two countries met in the United States in July 2019, and in December 2019 the chief rabbi of Jerusalem attended an interfaith conference in Bahrain.

Israel has been reaching out to Arab countries for decades in an attempt to make peace with its neighbors. The announcement of the upcoming normalization between Israel and Bahrain, on the heels of the Israel-UAE peace agreement, demonstrates once again that those efforts are now bearing fruit.

A more peaceful Middle East seems closer than ever to becoming a reality.
Middle East Peace Train Gaining Momentum
The announcement on Friday that Bahrain would follow the UAE’s lead and normalize ties with Israel continues to reverberate across the Middle East. Developments over the past month have been described as the beginning of a “new era of peace” by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The Israeli leader is slated to depart for the US, where formal signing ceremonies will be held on Tuesday at the White House. Joining him will be Arab delegations led by the foreign ministers of Abu Dhabi and Manama.

PM heads to DC to sign deals with UAE, Bahrain while lockdown expected
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu planned to leave for Washington on Sunday night, as the country prepared to lock down to combat the spread of coronavirus.

Netanyahu emphasized the historic nature of the trip, in which he is set to sign normalization agreements with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, only four days after the latter announced official ties with Israel. The two countries’ foreign ministers are expected to join him for the ceremony at the White House.

In his remarks ahead of Sunday’s cabinet meeting, Netanyahu said his conversation with Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa on Friday was “very warm” and they decided to establish official peace and full ties between the countries.

“We now have two historic peace agreements with two Arab countries within one month,” Netanyahu told cabinet ministers. “I am sure that we all praise this new age… I want to promise you that each and every one of you through your ministries will be a part of it, because this is going to be a different peace.

“It will be warm peace, economic peace in additional to diplomatic peace, peace between nations,” Netanyahu said.

The prime minster added that the enthusiasm Israelis have displayed about these new ties echoed in the populations of the UAE and Bahrain.
“This is truly a tremendous change,” he stated.
US assured UAE it won’t back Israel annexation before 2024 at earliest, ToI told
The Trump administration gave the UAE a commitment during normalization negotiations that Washington would not recognize Israeli annexation of parts of the West Bank until 2024 at the earliest, sources with direct knowledge of the matter have told The Times of Israel.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had for months promised to annex large parts of the West Bank as early as July 1, but that plan was officially suspended as part of the normalization agreement with the UAE. However, the sides have not formally provided an exact time-frame for how long the matter has been “taken off the table,” as US President Donald Trump put it last month.

According to three sources with direct knowledge of the normalization negotiations, Emirati officials, led by the UAE’s Ambassador to the US Yousef Al Otaiba, focused on seeking assurances from the US, rather than Israel, on the matter.

They were largely uninterested in receiving an Israeli commitment to an annexation freeze, the sources said, since they understood that Netanyahu would not move forward with the move without US support; the Israeli premier for months had said as much himself.

Rather, a key priority for the UAE during the negotiations was receiving a commitment from the US that it withhold its support for annexation if Netanyahu once again began promising to immediately carry it out, the sources said.
Weizmann Institute inks cooperation deal with UAE university on AI research
The Weizmann Institute of Science announced Sunday that it had inked an agreement to cooperate on artificial intelligence research with an academic institution in the UAE, after Israel and the United Arab Emirates agreed to normalize diplomatic ties.

The Weizmann Institute said it signed a memorandum of understanding with the Mohamed bin Zayed University of Artificial Intelligence during a virtual ceremony on Saturday. The head of the Weizmann Institute will lead a delegation to Abu Dhabi next week to finalize the agreement.

A statement from the Rehovot-based Weizmann Institute said the agreement would allow for exchange programs, conferences and seminars, and a new joint institute for AI.

“We are thrilled to have the opportunity to collaborate with this unique, pioneering institution and to advance the field of artificial intelligence together,” Weizmann head Alon Chen said in the statement.

He added: “It is said that science knows no borders. I have every hope this collaboration between scientists in the same region will be a shining example of this expression, and will extend the boundaries of human knowledge.”

Israel and the UAE announced on August 13 that they were establishing full diplomatic relations. On Friday, US President Donald Trump announced Bahrain would follow the UAE in establishing ties with Israel and take part in the signing of the normalization deal at the White House on Tuesday.

Herzog Fox & Neeman to open law office in UAE
HFN managing partner Adv. Meir Linzen tells "Globes" that the Israeli law firm has been operating in the UAE for 15 years through a consulting company and talks about expansion plans.

Israeli law firm Herzog Fox & Neeman (HFN) has been active in the UAE for 15 years, and represents businesspeople, Sheikhs, funds and other business organizations in all their dealings with Israel. Managing partner Adv. Meir Linzen told "Globes" that the agreement between Israel and the UAE is a huge opportunity to change and upgrade the civil-commercial dealings between the countries. "If until now the center of gravity in our dealings has been in the defense sector, the agreement between our countries will substantially expand the civil trading relationship."

Linzen adds, "With all due respect to the defense-intelligence relations, which are based on mutual interests, there is importance in the peace agreement for tourism and trade, and there is bigger potential than in the peace agreements with Egypt and Jordan, with large tourist destinations for Israelis. The UAE is one of the world's most developed economies."

Former head of Qatar’s Al Jazeera pushes blacklist of ‘pro-Israel’ Arab journalists
The former head of Qatar state-owned and funded Al Jazeera has called for a blacklist of journalists, writers, and analysts he considers supportive of the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain's decision to normalize ties with Israel, suggesting two Saudi and Emirati writers himself.

“For the purposes of documentation, who are the journalists, writers, and politicians who supported the Emirati and Bahraini normalization #normalizers_list? I remember Turki al-Hamad from Saudi Arabia, Abdulkhaleq Abdulla from the UAE, and Zaid al-Obeidat from Jordan ... the rest of the list:” Yasser Abu Hilala, the former managing director of Al Jazeera Arabic from July 2014 to May 2018, tweeted on Friday.

Abu Hilala, whose tweet was seen as a direct attack on his colleagues from neighboring Arab countries, then followed up by asking his followers to provide evidence of those who appeared to support the historic peace deals signed between Israel with Bahrain and the UAE.

“Thank you all for your response, we want the name of the writer or journalist attached to a picture of his article, post or tweet, not just the mentioning of their name,” Abu Hilala wrote.

When one user tweeted a response to Abu Hilala that “all journalists at Al Arabiya and Al Hadath Channels must be included,” the former head of Al Jazeera responded by saying it was an “unknown generalization” and that he needed “the journalist or writer's name attached to an article, post, tweet, or position.”

Palestinians launch ‘popular resistance’ to foil normalization accords
In the context of Palestinian efforts to thwart normalization between Israel and Arab states, the Palestinians announced on Sunday the formation of a group called The Unified National Leadership of Popular Resistance.

The group, consisting of representatives of various Palestinian factions, is reminiscent of the Unified National Leadership of the Uprising that operated during the First Intifada, which erupted in 1987.

The formation of the group is seen by some Palestinians as a call for launching a new intifada against Israel.

“This is the beginning of the Third Intifada,” a Fatah official told The Jerusalem Post. “This is the only way the world will listen to us. We want to place the Palestinian issue back at the top of the world’s agenda.”

On Sunday morning, the new group published its first statement in which it called for a “comprehensive popular struggle that won’t end until the establishment of an independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital.”

The statement was repeatedly broadcast on the Palestinian Authority’s official Palestine TV station – a sign that the PA leadership has endorsed it, even though it refers to Israel as “our major enemy” and pledges that the “revolution and resistance will continue until victory.”

Addressing a meeting of leaders of Palestinian factions in Beirut and Ramallah last week, PA President Mahmoud Abbas said “the time has come to form a leadership of peaceful popular resistance.”
Revolutionary Guard: Bahrain Shiites will take ‘harsh revenge’ for Israel deal
Hezbollah and Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps denounced Bahrain Saturday over its decision to normalize diplomatic ties with Israel, with the IRGC warning of “harsh revenge” from the Gulf kingdom’s majority Shiite population.

“The executioner ruler of Bahrain should await the harsh revenge of the Mujahideen [Islamic fighters] aiming to liberate Jerusalem and the proud Muslim nation of this country,” the military organization said in a statement to Reuters.

Hezbollah said “All of the efforts to justify the Bahraini regime’s move can’t justify the betrayal and painful stabbing in the back of the Palestinian people.”

The Iran-backed Lebanese terror group added: “We see Bahrain’s recognition of the Zionist entity and normalization of ties with it as another [step] in the public betrayal of the Palestinians. All of the Arab peoples and the Palestinians in the resistance axis in the region need to oppose these moves.”

Earlier Saturday, Iran’s foreign ministry said Bahrain was now a partner to the “crimes” of Israel.

“The rulers of Bahrain will from now on be partners to the crimes of the Zionist regime as a constant threat to the security of the region and the world of Islam,” the ministry said in a statement following Friday’s announcement of the agreement.
StandWithUs: Condemns Hiring of Saeb Erekat by Harvard University
The StandWithUs Center for Combating Antisemitism strongly condemns Harvard University’s appointment of Saeb Erekat as a fellow within the Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. Erekat, who is known as a chief Palestinian negotiator, also serves as the secretary general of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO).

Since 2000, Erekat has been involved in each of the attempted—but failed—peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. In his capacity at Harvard, Erekat will draw on this “expertise” to work directly with students, serving as a mentor and seminar leader in the school’s “The Future of Diplomacy Project.”

A brief look at Erekat’s track record, however, demonstrates that the irony—and danger—of this appointment cannot be overstated:
- Erekat called a wave of deadly stabbings, car rammings, and shootings by Palestinian terrorists against Israeli civilians "self-defense".
- He has said, “I will never recognize Israel as a Jewish state”.
- He equated Israelis with ISIS on multiple occasions.
- He claimed clear archeological evidence of an ancient Jewish presence in Jerusalem was "fake".
- He spread outright lies about clashes between Israeli forces and terrorist groups in Jenin in 2002. He claimed it was a massacre and said on CNN that there were over 500 deaths among Palestinians. It soon emerged that this was demonstrably untrue and a misrepresentation of what actually happened. In reality 23 Israeli soldiers and 53 Palestinians - the vast majority combatants - died in the Battle of Jenin.
Saeb Erekat belongs in jail, not at Harvard
On September 3, 2020, Arutz Sheva reported that Harvard is under fire for appointing Saeb Erekat, long the Palestinians’chief negotiator, to serve as a mentor.and to give virtual seminars as a fellow in The Future of Diplomacy Project at the Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs..

The Jerusalem Post went so far as to write that he is "bringing his expertise to Harvard," adding "The Kennedy School — among the most prestigious graduate schools for public and social policy in the world — announced Erekat’s appointment last week..."

Since Erekat promotes the Palestinian pay to slay policy. calling it "a social obligation," Erekat should be in jail. not in Harvard.

On January 30, 2020, Arutz Sheva reported "Palestinian Authority gave 517.4 million shekels to terrorists as salaries in 2019."

Erekat also is part of an oppressive government that was accused by the Human Rights Watch of using torture to crush dissent. Human Rights Watch reported that the PA used threats, arbitrary arrests and violent abuse, including beatings, electric shocks and stress positions to crush dissent.

On October 23, 2018 Joe Dike wrote in the AFP "The Palestinian security forces "systematically" abuse and torture opponents and critics in what could amount to crimes against humanity and undermine Palestinian accusations against Israel, Human Rights Watch said Tuesday.

"Systematic torture as part of a government policy is a crime against humanity," Omar Shakir, HRW's Israel-Palestine director, told AFP.

The rival authorities of the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Hamas both used threats, arbitrary arrests and violent abuse, including beatings, electric shocks and stress positions, the New York-based rights group said in a report released in Ramallah in the "West Bank."

National Interest Errs on Israel’s Capital, ‘Return’ of Jerusalem, West Bank and Gaza
The National Interest, which says it seeks to “contribut[e] a vital stimulus towards fashioning a new foreign policy consensus based on civil and enlightened contention,” last week erred on two basic facts concerning Israel.
First, the Sept. 6 piece by Marco Tรบlio Lara, a regional security analyst at Le Beck International, erroneously refers to Tel Aviv as Israel’s capital, using the common practice of referring to a nation’s capital as shorthand for the country (“Will Saudi Arabia Be Next to Normalize Relations With Israel“?).

The article errs:
In November 2017, General Gadi Eisenkot, the Israeli army’s chief of staff at the time, stated that Tel Aviv was ready to exchange intelligence information with Riyadh to counteract Iran, adding that there were many shared interests between the two countries.

Of course, Jerusalem, not Tel Aviv, is Israel’s capital. Numerous media outlets have corrected this very point in the past, including The Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, Associated Press, Reuters and The Guardian, among many others. Though even Arabic-language reports at Al Hurra and CNN were commendably corrected this summer in an encouraging first, National Interest has yet to correct despite CAMERA’s requests to editors last week.

Distorting history: Accusing Israel of doctoring Abbas video
In the September 11th, 2020 edition of The Jewish Insider, Matthew Kassel writes that Bob Woodward recounts an incident on May 22, 2017, when President Trump met with Netanyahu in Israel and gave him a video of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

“It sounded like Abbas was ordering the murder of children,” Woodward wrote. Trump, who was to meet with Abbas the next day was appalled. But US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who watched the “spliced-together” video, believed Netanyahu had manipulated the tape to “counter any pro-Palestinian sentiments that were surfacing,” according to Woodward, though Jared Kushner disputed this accusation.

Had Woodward bothered to do his homework, he would have found that both the PA and Hamas regularly incite their children to murder Jews to this very day. No one had to doctor the video. Secretary of State Tillerson should have known better.

Either Woodward did not research the subject or he relied on either complicit, gullible and/or naรฏve American legislators, who were clearly duped by or in league with the Arabs or their sympathizers.

A letter sent to President Obama on June 20, 2016 signed by 20 Democratic members of the US Congress urged the appointment of a “Special Envoy for Palestinian Youth,” alleging that “trauma [is] being inflicted on millions of Palestinian children.”

US Representative Betty McCollum (D-MN) led the campaign along with Representatives Hank Johnson and Mark Pocan, and joined other democratic members of Congress: Donald Beyer, Earl Blumenauer, Andre Carson, Yvette Clarke, John Conyers, Danny K. Davis, Peter DeFazio, Keith Ellison, Sam Farr, Raul Grijalva, Luis Gutierrez, Hank Johnson, Eddie Bernice Johnson, Marcy Kaptur, Barbara Lee, Jim McDermott, Chellie Pingree and Bobby Rush.

McCollum declared that “46 percent of the 4.68 million” Palestinian Arabs residing “in the Occupied Palestinian Territories are under 18 years of age. These children deserve to grow up with dignity, human rights and a future free of repression.” They are being raised, McCollum asserted, “under military occupation…under the constant fear of arrest, detention and violence at the hands of the Israeli military” and “the threat of recruitment or conscription into armed groups. We view this as an unimaginably difficult and at times hopeless environment for children that only fuels the conflict.”
The EU must adapt to the paradigm shift in the Middle East
Will the Europeans abandon their outdated conception of the Middle East peace process – more particularly the Israeli-Palestinian conflict – and understand the fact that this normalization agreement constitutes the prelude to a deep regional geopolitical evolution? A new paradigm.

Did EU Foreign Minister Josep Borrell get it when he praised the normalization deal, while acknowledging the constructive role played by the US in this regard? Such normalization will benefit both countries and will constitute a “fundamental step for the stabilization of the entire region,” he stressed. He also called Israel’s commitment to suspend plans to extend sovereignty to part of the West Bank as “a positive step.” A project that the Europeans had been trying for several months to convince Israel to abandon. One less thorn in the complex relations between the EU and Israel.

After a phone conversation with Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi, his German counterpart Heiko Maas, whose country currently holds the presidency of the EU, said the normalization deal could provide “new momentum” toward peace in the region.

A message relayed by the head of French diplomacy, Jean-Yves Le Drian – who speaks of a “new state of mind” illustrated by these announcements – should allow the resumption of negotiations between the Israelis and the Palestinians.

Now that the annexation project in the West Bank – the main stumbling block for the EU – has been frozen thanks to the agreement between the UAE and Israel, it is high time for the leaders of the European Union to take a decision. initiative to strengthen those in the Middle East who break taboos and seek to expand the circle of peace.

The EU’s discrimination of Israel continues over housing demolitions
Press the term “housing demolitions” in the European Union’s official search site yields a truly shocking finding: 18 of the first documents to appear for the term concern Israeli demolitions of Palestinian homes in Judea and Samaria. In other words, 80% of the EU’s reports on this worldwide phenomenon involve a population and an area mass less that one-tenth of 1% of the world’s population or its landmass.

To fully absorb how shocking this finding is, one has to realize that housing demolitions and evictions are not only a world-wide phenomenon, but that some of it is carried out in discriminating against minorities. A report by the EU itself – albeit in 2005 – acknowledges widespread discrimination in the EU against the Gypsies, Roma and Sinti in countries as varied as Italy, Ireland, Greece and Portugal – in terms of housing demolitions and evictions; only that these countries do not provide figures on the relative use of this tool between the minority and majority populations.

Of course, punitive housing demolition is hardly a phenomenon in the EU itself. India accuses Pakistan of discriminatory housing demolition in Hindu areas in Pakistan’s Punjab, with Pakistan claiming the same by Indian government authorities against India’s Muslim citizens. Egypt has been criticized for its eviction of thousands of Bedouin to facilitate housing projects for Egyptians outside Sinai in the peninsula, the Kurdish government has evicted Sunnis from Kurdish areas and local newspapers in the US frequently report evictions and demolitions against minorities, especially Blacks and native Americans, in the name of urban renewal – and the list is almost as long as the list of member states in the UN.

The difference is that one has to dig deep into the archives to come with discrimination in housing demolition and evictions elsewhere but in Israel. The EU’s limelight almost exclusively focuses on Israel.
Is it time to ‘normalize’ the Temple Mount?
It is no coincidence that the deal to normalize relations between the State of Israel and the United Arab Emirates is called the “Abraham Accords.” The patriarch, common to both Judaism and Islam, is revered by both as the progenitor of both religions and peoples.

Both Jews and Muslims believe that Abraham was told to sacrifice his son, while commentators differ on the identity of the son. Jews of course believe that the binding of Isaac was a scene set on the Temple Mount that earlier was the point of creation and later became the location for the two greatest houses of worship for the Jewish nation.

Isaiah prophesied the Temple Mount in the future “will be called a house of prayer for all nations.”

Perhaps it would be prudent to finally realize this prophecy by allowing Jews and Muslims to pray on the Temple Mount in harmony and accord, without one trampling on the rights and liberties of the other.

Unfortunately, since Israel retook the Temple Mount in 1967, it has not allowed Jewish worship on its holiest site. While retaining full national sovereignty on the Temple Mount and its environs, religious sovereignty was handed to the extremist Wakf Islamic religious trust, which has sought to throw out Jews for the mere moving of lips, holding Hebrew literature or the sheer mentioning that there was a Temple on the mount.

This “status quo” has been kept because Israeli leaders did not want to stoke widespread global Islamic anger and riots. It has been openly stated by Israeli authorities that this is a security issue, and upsetting the current order on the Temple Mount could provoke violence.

However, we are now living in unprecedented times.
Jerusalem's Great Synagogue to be closed for High Holy Days for first time
The Jerusalem Great Synagogue will be closed to worshipers throughout the High Holy Days due to the coronavirus it said Sunday in a statement.

While there are many reasons to remain open for the High Holy Days “in one format or another, nevertheless, the deciding consideration was the personal safety of every one of you,” the statement said.

“A deciding factor in this consideration is the lack of information [and the] confusion and debate between experts and the changes in regulations,” it said. “The Great Synagogue is not like other places of worship. It is spread out, requires health checks at the door, commits to forbid the entry of worshipers who did not sign up ahead of time and, of course, commits to limit the number of worshipers.

“And even if we stand by these [rules], there is still a risk. One person makes a mistake; one person is positive [for the virus] and did not know; one person who can infect another. The Great Synagogue asks to prevent this risk [from affecting] every one of you.”

The Great Synagogue will be closed for the first time since it opened in 1958.
Netanyahu thanks Danish prime minister for opposition to circumcision ban
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu thanked his Danish counterpart on Saturday after she voiced opposition to a bill that would ban circumcision for non-medical reasons in Denmark, citing a national commitment to to preserve the Jewish community

According to a statement from the Prime Minister’s Office, Netanyahu spoke with Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen and gave his appreciation for her position, saying that the defense of the Jewish community and the ancient tradition of circumcision is “a matter of maintaining Jewish identity through the generations.”

Netanyahu told Frederiksen he hopes that Denmark will remain committed to protecting its Jewish population as it did during the Nazi occupation of the country during World War II.

The leaders also discussed dealing with the challenges of the coronavirus, the statement said.

On Thursday Frederiksen, of the ruling Social Democrat party, said “Danish Jews must continue to be part of Denmark.”

Frederiksen made the statement during an interview on TV2 about a bill submitted last month in parliament by a leader of the left-wing Forward party, which seeks to outlaw the circumcision of minors without medical reason, as done by Muslims and Jews.
PMW: A man is known by the company he keeps - Abbas seeks company of ruthless dictators
Do you know who PA Chairman Abbas supports? Seems he seeks the company of ruthless dictators!

North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un
North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un is reputed to be one of the most brutal world leaders, executing and purging his political enemies, family members, and critics.
Every year, Abbas congratulates the North Korean dictator on the anniversary of the foundation of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. Thanking Jong-un for his support for the Palestinian cause, Abbas this year also wished the dictator “abundance, health, and happiness” and expressed his hope that “the close friendly relations and mutual respect between the two peoples and the two countries would develop even more.” [Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Sept. 10, 2020]

Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad
Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad has murdered tens of thousands of Syrian civilians, including gassing thousands, to solidify his rule. Yet he has the full support of Mahmoud Abbas. Numerous times Abbas has stressed his backing of the Syrian leader. Earlier this year, he sent PA Deputy Prime Minister Ziad Abu Amr to deliver a letter to al-Assad and in a meeting with Syrian Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Faisal Mekdad Abbas’ envoy highlighted “the depth of the Palestinian-Syrian ties and the constant coordination between the Syrian and Palestinian leadership”:
“[Deputy PA Prime Minister Abu Amr] emphasized the position of Palestine, which identifies with Syria that is being subjected to Israeli-American aggression…

Abu Amr noted: ‘Palestine and Syria are in the same boat – we are dealing with these Israeli-American plans.’

He continued: ‘We are standing alongside Syria, the Syrian rights, and the Syrian struggle against these Israeli-American plans.’”

[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, July 13, 2020]

Serbia to designate Hezbollah as terrorist organization
The United States on Sunday welcomed Serbia's decision to designate Hezbollah in its entirety as a terror organization and called on the European Union to follow suit by making a similar declaration with regard to the group's political arm.

"Serbia’s announcement that it will designate [Hezbollah] as a terrorist organization in its entirety is another significant step limiting this Iranian backed terrorist group’s ability to operate in Europe," US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said.

Both Kosovo and Serbia had committed to this action, as part of the US-brokered economic understanding between them signed at the White House earlier this month. Kosovo had already done so, but Serbia had yet to take this step.

The European Union has recognized Hezbollah's military wing as a terror organization but has not made a similar statement with regard to Hezbollah's political wing. Germany, Lithuania, the Netherlands and Great Britain have condemned the entire Hezbollah organization. Serbia has now, according to the US, joined them in declaring both the political and military wing of Hezbollah as a terror group.

"This important action was announced as part of the historic commitments President Trump secured on a wide range of economic normalization issues between Serbia and Kosovo, coupled with the steps both nations are taking to help achieve peace in the Middle East," Pompeo said.

Israeli intel firm: Friday airstrikes in Syria hit missile production facility
A reported Israeli airstrike on Friday targeted a missile production facility outside Aleppo, completely destroying one building and damaging another, according to satellite images released by a private Israeli intelligence firm.

“The attack intended to weaken missile production in Syria, probably for Hezbollah, by harming its crucial elements,” said the company, ImageSat International, which specializes in satellite imagery analysis.

The strike was said to target the Syrian regime’s missile factory in al-Safira, outside Aleppo, in northern Syria.

The Israel Defense Forces did not comment on the reported strikes, in accordance with its longstanding policy to neither confirm nor deny its activities in Syria.

The Aleppo region, near the Syrian border with Turkey, is an uncommon — but not unprecedented — site for reported Israeli airstrikes.

According to ImageSat, the two buildings that were hit in the strike “played a significant part in the missile production at the al-Safirah Missile Factory.”

Archaeologists say earthquake caused sudden disuse of Canaanite wine palace
A joint Israeli-US team of archaeologists say they may have finally uncovered what caused the sudden abandonment of an ancient Canaanite palace well-stocked with wine — and the culprit was an earthquake.

Research at the Tel Kabri site in the Western Galilee region was co-directed by Assaf Yasur-Landau, a professor of Mediterranean archaeology at the University of Haifa, and Eric Cline, a professor of classics and anthropology at the George Washington University, the US university said in a statement Friday.

Excavations were carried out at the 75-acre site, located on land belonging to Kibbutz Kabri that contains a Canaanite palace and city dating to 1900-1700 BCE.

We wondered for several years what had caused the sudden destruction and abandonment of the palace and the site, after centuries of flourishing occupation,” Yasur-Landau said in the George Washington University statement.

A breakthrough came last year when a trench previously uncovered at the site was mapped and found to extend further than initially thought as well as containing key archaeological evidence that appeared to show the land had moved.

“We opened up a new area and found that the trench continued for at least 30 meters, with an entire section of a wall that had fallen into it in antiquity, and with other walls and floors tipping into it on either side,” Yasur-Landau said.
Arab News: Minority report The Jews of Lebanon.html
As the world pours out its love for Beirut after the port explosion on Aug. 4, Lebanese Jews know all too well what it means to have fallen in love with the country once upon a time. To have cried again and again over its never-ending calamities. After a sad departure, Lebanese Jews have done what every Lebanese in exile does: Safeguarding the memory of that “lost paradise” by creating a “Little Lebanon” wherever they go.

Here is a story of a community that is forgotten by the mother country; a country so close, yet so far away...

In 2014, when the Magen Abraham Synagogue reopened in Beirut, Lebanese politicians from across the spectrum were present, bathed in the glare of TV cameras. They all reiterated their support for a community they said they cherished as much as the other 17 sects that make up the Lebanese government.

Former prime minister Fouad Siniora declared: “We respect Judaism. Our only problem is with Israel.”

Even Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah weighed in: “This is a religious place of worship and its restoration is welcome.”

On the outside, it looked as if the stage was set for the return of the Jewish community into Lebanon’s public life. The renovation of the Magen Abraham was nothing short of an open door for Lebanese Jews to come back. But the pomp of the opening ceremony did nothing to halt the decline of this community.

In the 1950s and 1960s there were 16 synagogues in Lebanon, and they were always full. The only place in the Arab world where the number of Jews increased after 1948 was Lebanon. But the 1967 war and the gruesome civil war that followed gradually drove Lebanese Jews away.

Today, there are 29 Jews left in Lebanon. The story has it that a Jewish woman from Beirut who was keen to meet other Jews heard of a coreligionist living in the town of Zahle, 50km east of the capital. She went there and searched for her. It was difficult as the woman had changed her name, something many Jews have done for safety reasons. But when she finally found her, the Zahle woman met her with a glacial stare. She spoke one word: Leave. The woman was obviously scared of the attention her visitor might awaken. (h/t Zvi)
Possessions of Holocaust survivor behind ‘The Pianist’ story up for sale
A Polish auction house has announced the sale of 51 objects that belonged to the Holocaust survivor whose life story served as the basis for the 2002 film “The Pianist.”

Desa Unicum will start selling Wladyslaw Szpilman’s objects, including bowties, an antique metronome and a death mask of the Polish composer Fryderyk Chopin, on Sept. 22, the Warsaw-based firm said on its website.

Szpilman was one of Poland’s foremost composers and concert pianists.

The priciest item is a Steinway piano, which is estimated to fetch as much as $70,000.

Next is a score from the “Life of Machines” suite that Szpilman composed in 1933, which is expected to bring $3,000 to $5,000.

The items went on a presale display at the auction house on Thursday.

Roman Polanski’s 2002 film about Szpilman, who was Jewish and whose music helped him survive the Holocaust, won three Academy Awards. Szpilman died in 2000.

He had lived through the carpet bombing of the Polish capital, the Jewish ghetto, forced labor and random executions while witnessing the ghetto uprising of 1943 and the Polish uprising one year later.
NYTs: The Secret History of America’s Only WWII Refugee Camp
Elfi Strauber was 11 years old when she boarded the U.S.S. Henry Gibbins in Naples, Italy. It was the summer of 1944, and she was traveling with her parents and sister, hundreds of wounded soldiers and close to a thousand other Jewish war refugees. The overcrowded troop ship was heading to New York, escorted by a convoy of warships and two transport vessels carrying Nazi prisoners of war — protection against German attack.

About midway through the 20-day journey, word raced among the passengers: A Nazi U-boat had been detected. The ship engines shut down. Parents clasped their hands over their children’s mouths. It was late at night, and Elfi couldn’t find her mother during the silent scramble to go on deck in case the ship was torpedoed. They were told to be prepared to jump into lifeboats.

Not in two years of running from the Nazis, not even in an Italian concentration camp, had Elfi been separated from her mother. She wasn’t ready to start now. She decided she would refuse to jump into a lifeboat without her.

But before she had to act on the decision, the danger passed. They’d managed to evade detection. Within minutes, her mother emerged, sheepish. She had accidentally locked herself in a bathroom.

When the ship arrived at a pier on the West Side of Manhattan, Elfi looked on as the adults around her wept with joy, overcome with relief at the lights of the city. They were among 1,000 people whom President Franklin D. Roosevelt had invited to stay at what would be the only refugee center in the United States during World War II. Most were Jews who had lived through concentration camps. They’d lost their homes and loved ones. They were the lucky ones.

After the night on the ship, the refugees were herded by American soldiers into a Quonset hut on the pier where men and women were separated. They were ordered to strip and were sprayed with DDT. Elfi obeyed, mortified, as the soldiers sprayed her hair, and all over her body, down to her toes. None of the refugees set foot in New York City proper.

The next evening, an overnight train took them to Fort Ontario in Oswego, N.Y., an hour north of Syracuse. Elfi remembers the adults’ fear and confusion when they arrived on Aug. 5, 1944, and from the train saw fences encircling the camp.

“All we saw was a barbed-wire fence and American soldiers,” said Ben Alalouf, another child refugee who made the journey. Mr. Alalouf had been born in a bomb shelter in Yugoslavia in 1941, and though he was just a toddler, he recalls the adults’ panic. “Obviously, everyone thought it was a concentration camp.”

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