Friday, September 18, 2020

From Ian:

Matthew Continetti: How Trump Changed the World
By establishing inescapable facts on the ground over the ceaseless objections of critics, President Trump overrides the often meaningless verbiage that constitutes international diplomacy and ends up changing the very terms of the foreign policy conversation. Nowhere has this dynamic been clearer than in U.S. relations with China.

Beginning with his surprise call to Taiwanese president Tsai Ing-wen in December 2016 and continuing through his resumption of U.S. Navy freedom of navigation operations in the South China Sea the following year, his tariffs on Chinese goods in 2018, his and his administration's rhetorical barrage against China beginning in earnest in 2019, and culminating in his multiple actions against China this year, from limiting travel to canceling visas to forcing the sale of TikTok to tightening the vise on Huawei to selling an additional $7 billion in arms to Taiwan, Trump has reoriented America's approach to the People's Republic. No longer is China encouraged to be a "responsible stakeholder." It is recognized as a great-power competitor.

Resistance to this proper understanding of China's position in the international system remains strong. But it is unquestionably the case that both Republicans and Democrats are starting to see China more as a threat than a partner. And it is Donald Trump who is behind this clarification of vision. (Xi Jinping and the pandemic helped too.) Whatever a President Biden might do about China—and he seems far more interested in repairing our alliances in "Old Europe" than in tackling this paramount challenge of the 21st century—he would operate within the constraints Trump established and on the intellectual terrain Trump landscaped.

There is no greater measure of presidential significance than a chief executive's ability to transform not just his own but also the opposing party. When it comes to the Middle East and China, the Democrats are closer to Donald Trump today than they were at the outset of his term. That they find themselves in accordance with someone whom they despise is evidence of Trump's ability to realign politics at home and abroad. This is no small feat.

Some might say it's worthy of a prize.

Melanie Phillips: The fundamental fracture Abraham Accords may begin to heal
Of course, with conflict as long and intractable as the Arab war against Israel, cautious skepticism over any apparent breakthrough is only prudent. And the strategic necessity of this Arab-Israel alliance against Iran is obvious.

But it was the immensely touching visual images that told a deeper story. A photograph was posted on Twitter showing Jared Kushner, the president's senior adviser, handing a Torah scroll to King Hamad bin Isa bin Salman al-Khalifa of Bahrain to be used in a synagogue in the kingdom. Both men were looking reverentially at the scroll.

Scarcely less moving was the poignant image of the line of white-robed Emiratis all waving to the El Al jet departing with the Israeli and American delegation on the first direct return passenger flight between Tel Aviv and Abu Dhabi.

This is now a chance for the Arab and Muslim world to start showing the West that it can live alongside and with respect for other peoples. It's a chance for it to fundamentally recalibrate its dire association with violence and death. And it's also an opportunity for the Jewish people to reach out to the Muslim world and show that what it welcomes is a bond far greater than economic ties or strategic defense.

It's the bond of family.

Nor does the potential for good stop at Israel. Hatred of the Jews lies at the very core of the Islamist war against the West. Islamist ideologues have argued for almost a century that modernity threatens Islam and the Jews are behind modernity.

If the moderate Arab world now finally understands that Israel is not its enemy but its ally, this could begin to undermine the foundations of irrational and self-defeating hatred that has fueled the Islamist war against the West.

While intractable Islamic fanaticism will not just disappear, the Abraham Accords might give Arab and Muslim reformers wind in their sails to bring their culture into an accommodation with the rest of the world.

And Britain, Western Europe and the American left will be the last people on earth to realize this.
Biden Is No Friend of Israel; He’s an Adversary
Biden pledges to re-enter the Iran deal. Iran’s goal of annihilating the United States and Israel doesn’t seem to bother Biden.

How precious that Biden is offended about foreign election interference when it was Obama-Biden that meddled in Israel’s election, funneling U.S.-taxpayer dollars to organizations trying to defeat PM Netanyahu and then misleading Congress about it.

It was Obama-Biden that refused to oppose the anti-Semitic Boycott, Divestment and Sanction (BDS) movement, whose goal BDS co-founder admitted is to eliminate “any Zionist state like the one we speak about [in present-day Israel].” Even WaPo’s Jennifer Rubin (not exactly a friend of Republicans) succinctly titled her piece, “Obama Winks at BDS” and stated it well: “That the administration would in any way encourage BDS practitioners or suggest that some forms of BDS might not be so objectionable is as unprecedented as it is unsurprising. It is increasingly difficult for fair-minded people to deny the president’s [Obama] anti-Israel animus.” The same goes for Biden.

And, on its way out of the door, it was the Obama-Biden administration that betrayed Israel again in December 2016 by orchestrating the U.N. Resolution 2334 vote, falsely claiming the Old City of Jerusalem was “illegal” and “Occupied Palestinian territory.” And if that wasn’t bad enough, Obama-Biden actually instigated the humiliation of Israel’s U.N. Ambassador Danon by having every other ambassador at the Security Council table stand and applaud the Resolution’s passage as Danon sat there. As Ambassador Haley said with respect to the U.N.’s bias against Israel, “what really broke my heart … was how much the Obama administration contributed to it.”

Biden’s abysmal Israel track record speaks for itself. The United States simply cannot relive this nightmare and neither can Israel.
Oslo as political Kryptonite
Kryptonite: Something that can seriously weaken or harm a particular person or thing – Oxford Dictionary.

Those whom the gods wish to destroy, they first make mad. An ancient proverb, mis-attributed to Euripides.

More Israelis have been killed by Palestinian terrorists in the 5 years since the first Oslo agreement was signed in September 1993 than in the 15 preceding years...- Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, January 10, 1998.

Today there is no Palestinian state, no peace — and no sign there ever will be either. Since Oslo, about 10,000 Palestinians have been killed by Israel…, and more than 1,500 Israelis have been killed by Palestinians. - Jon Schwarz & Alice Speri, No One Will Be Celebrating the 25th Anniversary of the Oslo Accords, The Intercept, Sept 13, 2018.

Last Sunday was the 27th anniversary of the signature of the Oslo Agreements.

In the global media, there was precious little to mark the event that had once fired the imagination of millions across the globe. Moreover, almost all the scanty coverage accorded the occasion was caustically critical of it—in stark contrast to the rosy reports, approving assessments and skewed analyses that accompanied the unfounded hopes and ill-founded expectations that it generated in the past.

Of course, I realize that the past week provided an abundance of more topical issues to write on than a failed and fatally flawed agreement signed well over a quarter century- ago. For example, there was the signing of the peace/normalization pacts between Israel and the UAE/Bahrain; the soaring COVID-19 infection rate; the tightening polls for the November presidential elections; the renewed rocket fire from Gaza; or the natural and man-made disasters that are ravaging the US from coast to coast…

Left-wing trying to pour cold water on the peace accords -opinion
The political Left can’t stand the fact that the peace accords are a personal success and a diplomatic vindication for Netanyahu, who for years has argued that only a strong and successful Israel will bring peace; not an Israel that bows its head and begs for peace at any price.

The political left can’t stand the fact that for all Trump’s prejudices and shenanigans, his team set clear goals in Mideast peacemaking and brought about concrete results.

The political Left can’t stand the fact that their darling underdog Palestinians have been exposed as one of the most intransigent, rejectionist, antisemitic and anti-American actors in the Middle East – aligned with Iran, Turkey and every other radical Islamist group in the region.

The Left can’t stand that Jared Kushner has proven that the Palestinian cause is no longer the “crux” of Middle East conflict, and that all the billions poured down the Palestinian Authority drain indeed may have been a mistake.

Less partisan and more reasonable pundits should be able to agree that the Abraham Accords are a gargantuan gain for everyone involved. They expand and solidify a critical regional alliance against a dangerous common enemy: Iran.

They break the circle of enmity around Israel, and perhaps have done so more already than the Egyptian and Jordanian accords ever did.

They lend religious legitimacy to Arab peace with Israel, by referencing the Abrahamic common heritage of Arabs and Jews, and thus implicitly acknowledging that Jews are indigenous to the Land of Israel. This is a mammoth transformation in the Arab approach to Israel.

The accords are demonstrable proof that Israel is a force for good, knowledge, prosperity and stability in the Middle East. After all, that is the reason the UAE and Bahrain (and, it is hoped, other Arab states soon) are bandwagoning with Israel.

Nothing less than full-throated celebration is called for. Shana tova!
Palestinians Have Painted Themselves Into a Corner
If only they would recognize reality and change their outlook (and leaders), the Palestinian people might yet make turn this loss into a win. Since the Abraham Accords specifically preclude Israel from annexing the so-called “West Bank,” their chances of achieving a state of Palestine might have increased, but only if they give up the fantasy of erasing Israel and recognize that they have lost that fight.

When UAE Minister of State for International Cooperation Reem Al Hashimy said the day before the Accords ceremony that the deal keeps “the Palestinian cause front and center” and “provides an opportunity for greater dialogue and bringing the peace initiative back to the table,” she was offering the Palestinians a door from which they may exit the corner they have painted themselves into. The question is, will they take it or will they just try to walk out and ignore the reality of their folly? After all, with decades’ worth of Israeli, American, and especially Palestinian blood on their hands, what does a little paint on their feet matter?

The Palestinian leadership is in a rut. It has only “the three ‘no’s” of 1967: no peace with Israel, no recognition of Israel, and no negotiations with Israel. Perhaps Mohammed Dahlan, the exiled former Fatah member in Gaza, will emerge as a beacon of realism amid the delusion. He has a number of factors in his favor as the only Palestinian leader of note who has not condemned the UAE peace deal. He lives in the UAE, is reviled by Fatah and Hamas alike, and has had a $700,000 bounty placed on his head by Turkey. On the other hand, he’s not exactly a blank slate, having spent decades as a Fatah member, including nearly a decade as Fatah’s security chief in Gaza. Plus, in the nearly two decades since the Oslo Accords, the Palestinians have conditioned millions of children to hate Israelis and blame all their troubles on “the Jews.” That brainwashing, which seems to get worse every year, will take decades to de-program, and will require more than one charismatic leader offering a new way forward.

Whomever they choose as their new leader(s), the Palestinian people should follow the momentum currently underway in the Arab world, accept reality, and build their futures with, rather than against, their Israeli neighbors. If they accept defeat in their efforts to erase the Jewish state, and make genuine peace both with Israel and with their situation, Arab countries will almost certainly reward them gloriously.

It is time for the Palestinians to disprove the clichรฉ that they never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity. Not since the “Arab Spring” has there been a moment so ripe for rewards, but failure to seize it might lead to a Palestinian Fall.
David Horovitz: The absent peacemaker
While he has mostly refused to negotiate, and, when briefly negotiating, has held to positions such as the untenable demand for a “right of return” to Israel for millions of Palestinians, his hand has grown weaker. On one side, as Jared Kushner told the world last week, the Israeli settlement enterprise has gradually been eating up “all the land in the West Bank… and the odds of them ever giving it up is unlikely.” And on the other, as emphatically demonstrated by Tuesday’s remarkable events, growing parts of the Arab world are gradually disentangling their own national priorities from those of the intransigent Palestinians.

Abbas’s rejectionism is proving disastrous not only for his people but for ours. It is perfectly sensible to rejoice in the warm goodwill and the commitment to a better shared future on display at the White House, and to simultaneously lament that the leadership of the neighbor on our doorstep is sliding deeper into the embrace of the region’s dark forces.

His hand is weakening, and time is running out personally for Abbas, who is now in his mid-80s. But it’s not too late. Like Obama in 2009, the Trump administration and the UAE have now combined to give him another opportunity, by imposing another kind of freeze on a reluctant Netanyahu: The application of Israeli sovereignty to the 30 percent of the West Bank allocated to Israel in the Trump peace plan has been indefinitely suspended — until 2024, according to well-informed sources who spoke to The Times of Israel in recent days.

The US has been repeatedly inviting Abbas to reengage, to advocate for his people’s interests. Isn’t that supposed to be his very purpose? In Abbas’s insistent absence, as Kushner elaborated in his strikingly candid briefing last week, “We drew what we thought was a realistic map… We played the ball as it lies, right?”

I wonder what was going through Mahmoud Abbas’s head on Tuesday. Does he really want to throw in his people’s lot with Gaza’s terrorists (which saw fit to fire rockets into Israel during and after the ceremony), Hezbollah and Tehran? Is he waiting for Trump to lose, and if so in the hope that a president Biden would do what exactly? Does he have any kind of a strategy?

Was he even watching?
'This is the beginning of the end of the Israeli-Arab conflict'
The last American president to have been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize was honored less for something tangible he had achieved, and more for who he was and what he represented. President Barack Obama, the Nobel committee declared in 2009, has “created a new climate in international politics.”

Whatever one might think about Trump’s other actions and overall personality, the president deserves to be seriously considered for a Nobel Peace Prize.

If President Donald Trump is not awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, it would be reasonable to suspect that the reason is similar. Trump also created a “new climate in international politics,” just in a way that’s much less appealing to the judges in Scandinavia. So maybe his chances of receiving the prize are also less about what he had achieved, and more about who he is.

But overlooking him would be a mistake. Whatever one might think about Trump’s other actions and overall personality, the president deserves to be seriously considered for a Nobel Peace Prize. And if not him, it should go to his adviser and son-in-law, Jared Kushner. They deserve it for achieving a breakthrough that eluded all of Trump’s predecessors, something no president before him has done: He successfully pushed for two back-to-back peace treaties between Israel and a pair of Arab nations — the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain — signed at the White House on Tuesday.

And this breakthrough is likely to lead to more. On Tuesday the president spoke about four or five more such treaties. This might have been an overstatement, but we know that negotiations with Sudan for a similar normalization process are underway. Sudan is a particularly interesting case because it was in the country’s capital, Khartoum, in 1967 that the Arab League coined the infamous “Three Nos” that held the Middle East back for many years: No to peace with Israel, no to negotiations with Israel, no to recognition of Israel. This triple rejection of the Jewish state is a fine starting point for better understanding why the new deals are important — and are indeed a move worthy of the label “peace.”
i24NEWS Speaks to UAE Anchor on Historic Peace Deal

Trump deserves a Nobel Peace Prize for Israel-Bahrain-UAE deal. It's more than Obama did.
Recent regional developments and especially the normalization of ties between Israel and Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates make the beginning of the end, US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman told Israel Hayom on Wednesday aboard the Israeli delegation's return flight from Washington. The ambassador has spent the past month in the US.

Similar to US President Donald Trump's other advisers, Friedman, too, invested countless hours in ensuring the success of the Abraham Accords peace agreement between Israel and the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, respectively.

Asked whether the Israeli-Arab conflict was over, the US ambassador said the end of the conflict was approaching, because many more countries would soon join. "We broke the ice and made peace with two important countries in the region," he said. And as promised by Trump, additional diplomatic breakthroughs are sure to follow, said Friedman. "When the dust settles, within months or a year," the Israeli-Arab conflict will be over," he said.

As for the impact of the developments on the Palestinians, Friedman said the Palestinian people are not being served properly by their leadership.

"I believe the people in Judea and Samaria want a better life," he said, adding that the Palestinian people need to understand it's possible for them to attain such a goal. Their leadership, however, is still clutching to very old and irrelevant complaints, Friedman added. "They need to join the 21st Century. They are on the wrong side of history at the moment."

It has been speculated that former Fatah strongman Mohammed Dahlan, a bitter political rival of PA President Mahmoud Abbas who became an adviser to UAE Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, could be supported by the US to unseat Abbas.

White House Says Five More Countries Seriously Considering Israel Deals
Bahraini Foreign Minister Abdullatif bin Rashid Al Zayani, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and United Arab Emirates Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan display their copies of signed agreements while US President Donald Trump looks on, at the signing ceremony of the Abraham Accords, at the White House in Washington, DC, Sept. 15, 2020. Photo: Reuters / Tom Brenner.

White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows said on Thursday that five more countries are seriously considering striking normalizations accords with Israel after the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain signed such deals this week.

Meadows, speaking to reporters on Air Force One on the flight that carried President Donald Trump to a campaign rally in Wisconsin, would not identify the five nations.

But he said three were in the region. He would not comment further.

Trump has spoken optimistically about more countries agreeing to a normalization of relations with Israel following the UAE and Bahrain deals.

One possibility is Oman, whose ambassador attended the White House ceremony on Tuesday.

Trump predicted on Tuesday that Saudi Arabia would eventually agree to a deal.

Trump touts Middle East peace deals in Rosh Hashanah message to US Jews
US President Donald Trump lauded his administration’s brokering of normalization agreements between Israel, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain in a Rosh Hashanah message to US Jews ahead of the holiday which begins on Friday evening.

“This year’s High Holy Days come with a sense of optimism for the people of Israel, as my Administration continues to make great strides in securing a more stable, prosperous and peaceful Middle East region,” the US president said in a statement.

“The First Lady and I wish our Jewish brothers and sisters Shana Tova and hope the millions observing this sacred day in America and around the world have a blessed start to the High Holy Days,” the statement adds.

“As the High Holy Days begin, this momentous milestone in geopolitical relations is a reminder that we can create a coalition of nations that have shared goals of eliminating extremism and promoting security and prosperity, while also respecting religious freedom and building a more hopeful tomorrow for future generations.” The president’s campaign also released a 30-second ad on Friday highlighting the peace agreement. “They said it couldn’t be done, but President Trump did it… [He] brought once bitter enemies Israel, Bahrain and the UAE together to make peace,” the narrator can be heard saying. While Israel had not had formal relations with Bahrain and UAE, they never were at war with them either.

With the Israel-UAE-Bahrain deals, ‘undeniable Palestinan truths’ no longer hold
One of the first things that the historic agreements between Israel, the UAE, and Bahrain will do is bring the word tatbie, normalization, into fashion. In parallel it will marginalize the term edm al-tatbie, anti-normalization, the slogan used by generations of Arabs throughout the Middle East even after the signing of the peace agreements with Egypt and Jordan. It was invoked to denote that although a non-aggression treaty could be tolerated, tatbie could not.

As a result, trade unions in every Arab state took upon themselves limitations, prohibitions, and boycotts in everything to do with Israel that their governments had not already limited, prohibited or boycotted. Medical unions, lawyers, engineers, even journalists, all boycotted their Israeli counterparts. Even with Israel’s two full partners, there was peace on the top level – in the army and sometimes among the politicians – and non-peace on the ground among everyone who could or wanted to do business with the Israelis. A byproduct of the edm al-tatbie phenomenon was the BDS movement, which calls for complete boycotting of Israelis, including in academia and culture. All because of the Palestinians.

For decades, the Palestinians successfully imposed certain axioms on the Middle East that had almost the status of “undeniable truths,” and that held that Arab countries must not do business with Israel since the Palestinian issue was the foremost issue of all Arabs everywhere. As long as there was no solution for the Palestinians, no Arab country was “allowed” to do business with the Zionist enemy. Not only was this the foremost issue for any Arab, as far as the Palestinians were concerned this was the be-all and end-all issue for all Arab countries.

Moreover, the Palestinians – the PLO, Hamas, et al – succeeded in implanting another slogan in Arab consciousness: the Middle East refugee problem is the Palestinian refugee problem. These core refugees were followed by all sorts of other “hitchhikers” from Iraq, Syria, and so on.
Russia: Middle East peace impossible without solving ‘Palestinian problem’
Russia said on Thursday it would be a “mistake” to think lasting peace in the Middle East could be secured without resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The foreign ministry statement came after Israel normalized relations with Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates at the White House on Tuesday.

Russia said it noted “progress” in the normalization of ties between Israel and several Arab countries but said that “the Palestinian problem remains acute.”

“It would be a mistake to think that without finding a solution to it that it will be possible to secure lasting stabilization in the Middle East.”

Moscow urged regional and global players to “ramp up coordinated efforts” to solve the issue.

“Russia is ready for such joint work,” including in the framework of the diplomatic Quartet of Middle East peace negotiators and in close coordination with the Arab League, the foreign ministry said.

Ashkenazi, Bahraini and Emirati FM's exchange Rosh Hashanah greetings

Israel, Bahrain tourism ministers speak, discuss joint ventures with UAE
The tourism ministers of Israel and Bahrain held a first publicly acknowledged phone call on Thursday and discussed possible ventures including three-way travel packages involving the United Arab Emirates, an Israeli statement said.

The conversation between Israel’s Asaf Zamir and Bahrain’s Zayed bin Rashid Al Zayani followed a White House ceremony on Tuesday at which their countries pledged to establish relations. The UAE and Israel also formalised ties at the same event.

In an interview with a local Emirati newspaper, Zamir said he hopes tourism between Israel and the UAE could start early next year.

“Agreements to do with visas and tourism are at an advanced stage, and the two sides are expected to reach a deal soon,” al-Ittihad newspaper quoted the Israeli minister as saying on Thursday.
Palestinian leadership is on a collision course with Arab countries
Less than a month after the Second Intifada erupted in September 2000, the Arab heads of state held an extraordinary meeting in Nasr City, a district of Cairo.

After the meeting, held at the urgent invitation of former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak, the Arab leaders issued a communique in which they “hailed the intifada of the Palestinian people in the occupied Palestinian territories” and held Israel “responsible for returning the region to a climate of tension and to manifestations of violence as a result of its practices, its assaults and its blockade of the Palestinian people, in violation of its obligations as the occupying power under the terms of the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949.”

In response to a proposal by Saudi Arabia, the Arab leaders decided to establish two funds to help the Palestinians. Al-Aqsa Fund, they said, will be allocated a sum of $800 million for “the funding of projects designed to preserve the Arab and Islamic identity of Jerusalem and prevent its loss, and to enable the Palestinian people to disengage from its subordination to the Israeli economy.” The second one, Al-Quds Intifada Fund, was to have capital of $200m. to be allocated for disbursement to the families of Palestinian “martyrs.”

A year later, the Arab leaders held another summit, this time in the Jordanian capital of Amman. As usual, the leaders issued another statement expressing full solidarity with the Palestinians and hailed “with great pride the Palestinian people’s steadfastness and brave intifada in the face of the savage onslaught waged by Israel.”

Although the Palestinians never saw much of the financial aid promised by the Arab heads of state, they were nevertheless encouraged by moral support they received from the Arab world during the intifada. Those were the days when the Palestinians felt that they had the full backing of the entire Arab world and that the Palestinian cause was the central issue of all Arabs and Muslims.

MEMRI: Fatah Central Committee Member: Palestinians Defend the Entire Arab Nation from the Zionist Designs
Fatah Central Committee Member Azzam Al-Ahmad said in a September 15, 2020 interview on Al-Araby TV (Qatar/U.K.) that Fatah hopes the people of UAE and Bahrain will “restrain” their leaders and cause them to reconsider the peace agreements they have signed with Israel. He said that the Palestinians are defending Mecca, Baghdad, Cairo, Amman, Damascus, and Jerusalem from the Zionists’ “territorial designs” of expanding from the Nile to the Euphrates. He also said that Fatah will continue to “serve as the spearhead” against the United States and the Zionist movement.

Richard Kemp: The EU: Hizballah's Intersectional Partner
The reality is, should the EU get its way, contrary to its claims to try and uphold the Good Friday Agreement, its demands would harm future prospects for peace and stability in Northern Ireland by undermining and destabilising the union.

Where does Hizballah get the weapons and explosives it is reportedly providing to the New IRA? Iran. The EU has been at the forefront of supplying funds to Iran, including cash used for its terrorist proxies across the Middle East and beyond.

The EU's bungling foreign policy does not proscribe Hizballah in its entirety, mulishly maintaining a fictitious separation between "political" and "military" wings, despite the terrorist group's own insistence that there is no distinction. Meanwhile Hizballah has attempted large-scale terrorist attacks in Britain, France and Germany....

[T]he EU falsely claims to uphold peace in Ireland while itself facilitating the greatest threat to that peace.

US says Hezbollah storing ammonium nitrate, which caused Beirut blast, in Europe
Hezbollah has stored ammonium nitrate, a chemical that can be used to make explosives, in several European countries, a senior US State Department official said Thursday.

Nathan Sales, the State Department’s coordinator for counter-terrorism, made the accusation as he appealed to countries in Europe and elsewhere to impose bans on the terror group.

Hezbollah operatives have moved ammonium nitrate from Belgium to France, Greece, Italy, Spain and Switzerland in recent years, and are suspected of still storing the material throughout Europe, Sales said.

Ammonium nitrate is the chemical compound that caused the catastrophic blast at Beirut’s port last month. It is commonly used as a fertilizer, but can be used to make explosives, and has been used in previous terror attacks.

Sales, without offering evidence, said the US believes that Iran-backed Hezbollah has since 2012 transported ammonium nitrate around Europe in first aid kits with cold packs that contain the compound. The United States believes these supplies are still in place throughout Europe, possibly in Greece, Italy and Spain.

UN Watch: U.N. rebukes only Israel for violating women’s rights
The Islamic Republic of Iran, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Belarus were among members of the UN’s 54-nation Economic and Social Council, a principal organ of the world body, who voted on September 14th to single out Israel as the only country in the world to be rebuked by the council this year for allegedly violating women’s rights.

In a resolution adopted 43 to 3, with 8 abstentions (see breakdown below), the Jewish state was accused of being a “major obstacle” for Palestinian women “with regard to the fulfillment of their rights, and their advancement, self-reliance and integration in the development of their society.”

The council declared that “women and girls” are impacted by the “continuing systematic violation of the human rights of the Palestinian people by Israel, the occupying Power.”

The resolution in its preamble made global references to “violence against women and girls in all its different forms and manifestations worldwide” and to the need to “eliminate all forms of violence against women” in “all regions of the world,” however Israel was the only country held up for criticism.

Cuba, Syria, North Korea and Venezuela were among the countries who sponsored the resolution via the Group of 77, a bloc today made up of 134 states, and this year represented by Guyana.

Out of 20 items on the UN Economic and Social Council’s 2020 agenda, only one — Item No. 16 against Israel — targeted a specific country. All the other focus areas concern global topics such as disaster relief assistance and the use of science and technology for development. The resolution turns a blind eye to how Palestinian women’s rights are impacted by their own governing authorities — the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, and Hamas in Gaza. Nor does it make any criticism or any reference at all as to how women and girls are discriminated against within patriarchal Palestinian society. On the contrary, the resolution praises what it calls “Palestinian initiatives at the legislative, administrative and security levels to advance women’s rights.”

NO JOKE: U.N. rebukes only Israel for violating women's rights

2 US senators warn Poland’s president on anti-Semitism and restitution
Two US senators wrote President Andrzej Duda of Poland to express their concern about a rise in what they said was anti-Semitic discourse, citing one of his own statements.

The letter sent Tuesday by Sen. Jacky Rosen, D-Nev., and James Lankford, R-Okla., on several occasions notes the close defense ties of the United States and Poland and suggests a failure to address the anti-Semitism, and to advance Holocaust restitution, could impede the growth of the relationship.

Much of the rhetoric singled out in the letter, which was released Wednesday, has to do with the debate in Poland over Holocaust restitution. It became an issue in the recent presidential campaign when Duda, a member of the ruling Law and Justice party, won reelection.

“We are alarmed by growing anti-Semitic discourse in Poland and scapegoating of the Jewish community, which run counter to our nations’ shared values,” the letter said. “Specifically, during Poland’s 2020 presidential campaign, the Law and Justice Party and state television peddled anti-Semitic tropes and thinly veiled demagoguery.”

It cited a number of insinuations that Duda’s rival in the election, Warsaw Mayor Rafal Trzaskowski, was in the pocket of Jews pressing the restitution issue.

Polish parliament drops bill’s proposal to ban export of kosher and halal meat
A ban on the for-export production of kosher and halal meat in Poland is off the table for the parliament there.

An amendment to the draft of the Law on Animal Protection introduced Thursday by the agriculture committee omits the ban proposal from the bill submitted last week by the ruling Law and Justice party, reported.

Wล‚adysล‚aw Kosiniak-Kamysz of the Polish People’s Party warned during a committee debate Thursday that banning the for-export production of halal and kosher meat would cost the Polish economy $1.8 billion.

The amended bill ends the breeding of animals for the fur industry, bans the use of circus animals and increases supervision on animal shelters.

Animal welfare activists oppose the slaughter of animals for kosher and halal meat because it precludes stunning before the animals’ throats are cut. Proponents of the practice reject claims it is cruel and say it induces a quick and humane death for the animal.

Israel Enters the Jewish High Holiday Season Under Lockdown

Israel: Prime Minister Netanyahu Speaks of Jewish Holiday Lockdown

Tel Aviv bars rebrand as synagogues to protest virus lockdown rules
The owners of a number of Tel Aviv bars have declared their businesses to be synagogues, in protest of government lockdown plans that on the one hand will prevent all bars and restaurants from operating during the closure, while on the other allow dozens to take part in prayers at houses of worship throughout the country.

Channel 12 news reported on two Tel Aviv establishments, Kiton and Shishko, that have put up placards declaring them to be places of worship. The report notes that the two bars are currently treating the act as one of protest and satire and are not planning to rebel against government restrictions at this time — though they also aren’t entirely ruling it out.

Elad Dor, owner of Shishko, told the network: “Does it sound reasonable to you that you can bring 100 people into a synagogue, and I, who have a restaurant for 300 people can’t let even 30 people in? Does that really make sense to you?

“And does it sound reasonable that supermarkets won’t have gatherings? And convenience shops can open, and yesterday they said [Jerusalem’s] Mahane Yehuda Market can open? Give me a break.”

Israeli seriously injured in rocket attack was delivering food to needy when hit
An Israeli man who was seriously wounded in a rocket attack on Tuesday was delivering food to the needy in the southern city of Ashdod when he was hit by shrapnel, hit family said Wednesday.

Asher Biton, 62, a father of 15, was making his rounds when Palestinian terrorists in the Gaza Strip fired two rockets into Israel at the same time as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was signing peace deals with the UAE and Bahrain at the White House in Washington.

According to the Israel Defense Forces, soldiers operating the Iron Dome missile defense system intercepted one of the incoming projectiles.

The second rocket struck a street in Ashkelon.

The Magen David Adom ambulance service said Biton sustained shrapnel wounds to his upper body from the rocket. A second man, 28, suffered light injuries to his extremities from broken glass. Four other people suffered anxiety attacks as a result of the rocket fire, medics said.

Biton was originally described as in moderate condition, but doctors at the Assuta Hospital later said his situation deteriorated.

Doctors decided not to operate on Biton, fearing that he would not survive the operation, and have decided to wait until his condition improves. However, the hospital said his life was not in danger.

His wife, Rivka Biton, said the family watched news reports of the attack and saw his car, where he had been making a delivery. (h/t Zvi)

IDF: The IDF's Year in 55 Seconds
The Jewish calendar is about to reset, and the year 5781 is about to begin. As the IDF rings in a new year, we're looking back at some of our greatest highlights—and our newest additions—from the past year.

We have lots of ideas, but we need more resources to be even more effective. Please donate today to help get the message out and to help defend Israel.


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