Friday, October 09, 2020

From Ian:

Zionism is about being pioneers in the land
Yet there are two critical facts that the late Elhanan Oren, one of the finest historians of Zionist settlement, emphasizes have to be added to the account. The first is that spirit, ruach, preceded official intellect in the creation of these settlements. It was socialist Zionist youth who called to conquer the land, to attack new territory through constructive civilian settlement, rather than make due with passive defense for existing settlements. This was particularly true along the coast (Tel-Aviv) against the Arab challenge, before Zionist officialdom realized the intrinsic geo-strategic importance of these settlements rooted in spirit.

The second point he makes is the argument that took place in Zionist officialdom. The argument was between the “rationalists,” Arthur Ruppin, the expert on German colonization who brought his expertise to bear in promoting Zionist settlement; Eliezer Kaplan, the movement’s leading economic mind who argued to stick to the existing coastal blocks; and the “visionaries,” Moshe Shertok (later prime minister Sharett), Joseph Weitz in the settlement department in the Jewish Agency, and others who called for far-flung settlement to deny the British Peel Commission – which was deliberating Palestine’s future – the option of further partitioning the Land of Israel.

Who was right? Israel’s War of Independence proved the importance of these settlements in staving off the enemy, either Palestinians or even more critically, the Arab states that attacked the fledgling state. Shertok knew when he made the decision to support the “visionary” plan (in the absence of David Ben-Gurion who was in the United States at the time) that the incorporation of these areas would further aggravate the demographic problem. It was a situation in which Jews were less than one-third of the population in the Holy Land. However, Shertock, later known as a “dove,” chose spirit over matter. In the end, spirit combined with matter prevailed.

How much more so should our leaders and warriors value spirit over bureaucratic thinking when the resources of the State of Israel, demographically and economically, are so much greater, and the foe is still adamant about conquering the Land of Israel from “the river to the sea?”

Alas, Reshef and his colleagues, have lost the spirit on which they were nurtured. The Palestinian Authority’s strategic settlement plan from 2011 is a challenge that Israel and Zionism never faced before. That and the more traditional means of burning what Zionists by planted by Hamas launching incendiary devices from Gaza, proves that Homa umigdal is as relevant today as it was in the 1930s, or more so.

David Singer: Rabin’s words and AOC
The approaching 25th anniversary of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin’s assassination on 4 November 1995 has seen leading left-wing Democratic Party Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC) cancelling her planned attendance at a memorial event organised by leftist Americans for Peace Now on 20 October.

Ocasio-Cortez withdrew after journalist Alex Kane tweeted and AOC replied:

AOC Pulls Out of Event for Murdered Israeli Prime Minister Rabin, the First to Recognize Palestinian Nationalism | CNSNews

Alex Kane is telling the truth, but not the whole truth.. Rabin did say to "break their bones" during a violent and murderous Arab uprising in Gaza, but that was because he did not allow the use of guns during that period of attacks against Israelis and instead, gave the soldiers truncheons with which to try to keep the peace. Israeli mothers were less than happy at that decision.

Rabin was indeed a liberal peacemaker and AOC’s decision is to be deplored.

Caroline Glick: A magic carpet ride over the anti-Netanyahu protests
Mendelblit's contempt for the public was on prominent display last month in remarks he made at a Rosh Hashanah toast to his subordinates.

Referring to himself as the "guardian of democracy," Mendelblit spent most of his speech attacking his critics who view his decision to indict Netanyahu on bribery and breach of trust charges for his alleged efforts to win positive coverage from news outlets, as legally and normatively defective. Diminishing studied criticism as mere background noise, Mendelblit said derisively, "the windows [of this building] are sealed off from the noises outside."

Mendelblit expressed pure contempt for Israel's elected leaders whose criticism of his actions he attacked as anti-democratic, and worse. He referred to Public Security Minister Amir Ohana's criticism of his behavior as "a terror attack against democracy."

But then at the end of his remarks he turned to the anti-Netanyahu protests organized by Haskel and his comrades. Referring to them, Mendelblit waxed poetically about the "foundational right to protest" in a democracy.

In recent weeks Mendelblit's subordinates have instructed the police not to charge Haskel and his fellow Netanyahu haters for breaking the laws in the course of their protests, lest their democratic right to protest is trampled.

The glaring contradiction in Mendelblit's remarks – his seething dismissal of "noises from outside" made by those who oppose his deeply controversial efforts to criminalize otherwise lawful political behavior to oust Netanyahu from power on the one hand, and his self-righteous defense of the "foundational right to protest" in speaking about Haskel and his band of Netanyahu haters on the other – is disturbingly similar to the tale revealed by Haskel's videos.

Haskel rejected the foundation of Zionism by demanding the gratitude of the children of Ethiopian Jewry while glorifying the contribution he made to one of its greatest triumphs – the airlift of Ethiopian Jewry to Israel. Mendelblit revealed his contempt for democracy by rejecting the legitimacy of elected leaders while upholding the right of anti-Netanyahu protesters to break the laws in the name of "democracy."

Haskel's anti-Zionist outbursts and Mendelblit's anti-democratic speech show that Israel is not in the throes of an ideological battle between two competing ideological camps. Instead, a large majority of Israelis joined in their dedication to Zionism and democratic norms is being assaulted by an aggressive, hateful and arrogant minority whose leaders cynically exploit Zionist concepts and the language of democracy to undermine both to advance their naked, nihilistic bid for power.

How False Assumptions Prevent Israeli-Palestinian Peace
A 2016 clip of then-secretary of state John Kerry claiming there will be no separate peace between Israel and the Arab world before an agreement is reached with the Palestinians has not aged well — especially in the wake of recent normalization agreements signed between Israel, the United Arab Emirates, and Bahrain.

The absolute certainty of Kerry’s view — which has been shared for decades by many US politicians and most Middle East diplomats and pundits — stands in stark contrast to the reality that has been bubbling beneath the surface for some time. With Kerry’s theory now disproven, it is clear we have been fed many other false paradigms and slogans about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

If the United States, Israel, the Palestinians, the Europeans, and the Arabs wish to resolve this conflict peacefully, it’s worth revisiting and recalibrating many assumptions. Let’s start with some of the most egregiously inaccurate claims and the real facts behind them.

False Assumption No. 1: The primary Palestinian goal is self-determination and a state of their own.

This is the focal point of so much deceptive thinking about the conflict. Ironically, it does not pass even the simplest historical scrutiny. The Palestinians, or the Arabs of Mandatory of Palestine, were offered a state on several occasions over the past century, beginning in 1937 when the Peel Commission offered to create an Arab State on more than four-fifths of the territory of Mandatory Palestine, leaving the Jewish state with a tiny sliver of the coast around Haifa.

The Arabs were later offered a state in 1947, 1967, 2000, 2001, and most recently in 2008, when then-Prime Minister Ehud Olmert offered 100% of Judea and Samaria and Gaza, with some minor land swaps. Each time the Palestinian leadership said no because it would have necessitated recognizing Jewish national rights.

In fact, all evidence indicates that the Palestinian leadership nurtures an obsession with destroying Israel more than they seek a state of their own, and for this reason are unable to accept a peace treaty that requires they give up this goal.
The final nail in Palestinian-Arab relations?
Palestinian leaders are being accused of “trafficking” in the Palestinian cause; depriving their people of international aid; financial corruption; and acting against the interests of their own people. The Palestinian people are being accused of being “ungrateful” toward Arab countries that made many sacrifices on their behalf, gave them hundreds of millions of dollars and jobs.

Popular hashtags trending on social media denounce Palestinian leaders as “merchants of the Palestinian cause” and “mercenaries” and declare that “the Palestinian cause is not my cause.”

Thousands of social media users, especially from the Gulf countries, have been using these hashtags to hurl abuse at the Palestinians. To add insult to injury, the Gulf Arabs have also been voicing support for Israel by posting pictures of Israeli flags and video clips of Arabs praising the peace agreements with Israel and greeting Israelis on Jewish holidays.

For now, it seems that the Palestinian leadership does not have a clear strategy to deal with the growing crisis with some Arab countries. Surprised by the intensity of the criticism, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and senior Palestinian officials have gone into a damage-control mode, preferring to keep a low profile and refrain from returning fire.

As a result of this policy, Palestinians are no longer burning UAE and Bahrain flags and pictures of the rulers of two countries, as was the case immediately after the normalization agreements were announced.

“The Arabs and Muslims are not our enemy,” said Mahmoud Habbash, religious affairs adviser to Abbas. “The No. 1 enemy of the Palestinians and the Arabs and Muslims is the Israeli occupation.”

Alarmed by the strong criticism in response to the burning of Emirati and Bahraini flags and pictures of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed and King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, several Palestinian officials appealed to Palestinians to “respect the national symbols” of the Arab countries. The appeal, however, has failed to stop the daily attacks on the Palestinians by the Arabs.

“Many of those who offended the Palestinian cause are the Palestinians themselves, especially their leaders, some of them out of ignorance and stupidity,” wrote Kuwaiti political analyst Abdul Mohsen Hamadeh. “Some of the Palestinian leaders have exploited the Palestinian cause to become wealthy. They caused great damage to the Palestinian people.”
Have the Palestinians fallen from International grace?
The Palestinians this week continued their very swift fall from international grace, with consecutive hits from both Europe and the Arab world.

For the last four years of the Trump administration, the Palestinians have sought solace from US rejection of their narrative by relying on those two tried-and-true allies.

It has long been an active part of Palestinian strategy to show that Israel is isolated on the international stage.

THIS is one of the reasons they have pushed, so repeatedly over the last decades, to pass resolutions targeting Israel at the United Nations. With each massive vote count against the Jewish state, the Palestinians subtly underscore the message that they possess what Israel lacks: international legitimacy.

Among the most famous of these was the 2016 Security Council vote on Resolution 2334 condemning settlement activity. In that moment 14 hands out of the 15-member body were raised against Israel, in an almost j’accuse fashion. The only vote absent was the US, and even then it had lent its tacit support to the text.

But in hindsight, that vote, which was a massive victory for the Palestinians, was one of the last moments of international solidarity with regard to the narrative of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, with Israel being blamed for the failure of the peace process.

From almost the moment he entered office, US President Donald Trump and his team began to whittle away at that paradigm, a move that created open hostility and ultimately a break in relations between the Palestinian Authority and the US.
From Friday: Iraq and Saudi-bound planes in Israeli airspace
Israeli airspace will now be use by multitude of Arab countries, including Iraq, Qatar and Saudi Arabia, as part of a new aviation agreement between Israel and Jordan.

Jerusalem and Amman on Thursday signed a deal to open more flight paths over both countries and shorten flight times between Gulf states, the Far East and Asia and Europe and North America.

The agreement signed by the Civil Aviation Authority of Israel and its Jordanian counterpart will take effect as soon as Friday, is expected to cut fuel costs and polluting emissions, and was finalized following Israel's signing of the Abraham accords with the UAE and Bahrain.

Among the new flight paths specified in the agreement are ones departing from Iraq, Qatar and Saudi Arabia as well as the UAE and even one path over Iran that would be used by flights taking off from China.

An Emirati official stands near an air-plane of El Al, which carried a US-Israeli delegation to the UAE following a normalisation accord, upon it's arrival at the Abu Dhabi airport

Israel will approve airline flight paths in advance in accordance with security considerations.

The agreement was reached with the cooperation of EUROCONROL, the European Organization for the Safety of Air Navigation.

The Ministry of Transportation said flights from Bahrain and the UAE as well as many other countries would be able to fly over Israeli airspace to and from Europe and North America.
Emiratis, Israelis meet in Dubai as part of women’s forum event
A group of Emirati and Israeli women met in Dubai for the first time, in a meeting held as part of the Gulf-Israel Women’s Forum.

The group, co-founded by Jerusalem’s Deputy Mayor Fleur Hassan-Nahoum and founder of the Jewish Women’s Business Network Justine Zwerling, is a division of the newly formed UAE-Israel Business Council.

“I believe that women are natural peace builders. We created the Gulf-Israel Women’s Forum in order to facilitate people-to-people, grassroots peace building,” Hassan-Nahoum said.

“It was an honor to host this very memorable and historic meeting of Israeli and Emirati women in Dubai, creating bonds and making a better future for our children.”

The UAE-Israel Business Council, which was founded in June, has grown to almost 2,000 members since the announcement in August of the UAE and Israel normalizing relations, according to Hassan-Nahoum.

To date there are 250 Israeli companies trading with the UAE, and the council aims to help increase that number over the next couple of years.

In September, the energy ministers and tourism officials from the UAE and Israel discussed possible cooperation, travel opportunities and investment openings. (h/t Zvi)

Report: In same room at maritime negotiations, Lebanese won’t talk to Israelis
Lebanese negotiators do not intend to speak directly with their Israeli counterparts when the two sides meet next week for rare talks on delineating the maritime border between Israel and Lebanon, according to Walla news and Axios reporter Barak Ravid.

Ravid tweeted Thursday that though the sides will sit in the same room, Lebanese officials are planning to ask US and UN mediators to relay messages to the Israeli side.

The talks will be held at the headquarters of the UN peacekeeping force, UNIFIL, in the southern Lebanese border town of Naqoura.

Also Thursday, Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz announced the makeup of the Israeli delegation that will attend the meeting.

Udi Adiri, director-general of the Energy Ministry, will lead the Israeli delegation and be accompanied by Steinitz’s chief of staff Mor Halutz as well as Aviv Ayash, the minister’s international adviser. Deputy National Security Adviser Reuven Azar, the Foreign Ministry’s Deputy Director-General for the United Nations and International Organizations Alon Bar, and Brig. Gen. Oren Setter, head of the Israeli military’s Strategic Division, will also attend the talks.

The Lebanese delegation will be led by Wissam Chbat, a senior official in Lebanon’s energy and water ministry.

Earlier Thursday, Lebanon’s Hezbollah terror group said the rare talks with Israel beginning next week on the longstanding maritime border dispute do not constitute normalization or peace talks with the Jewish state.
US Entry Ban on Israeli-British Journalist Jonathan Spyer Rescinded
A US entry ban on a Middle East correspondent with dual British and Israeli citizenship has been rescinded, following an outcry from media freedom advocates and policy experts who vouched for him.

Jonathan Spyer — whose war reporting from Syria and Iraq has been published by The Wall Street Journal, Foreign Policy and several Israeli outlets — posted a picture of his newly-issued US visa on Friday.

“My new US visa. Thanks to all who helped,” Spyer wrote.

In a Wall Street Journal oped published on Oct. 2, Spyer revealed that in August 2019 he received notification from the US State Department that he had been “banned for life from entering America.”

The decision was based on a provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act that “prohibits issuance of a visa to a person who at any time engaged in terrorist activities or was associated with a terrorist organization.”

Spyer pointed out that he had never been charged with a terrorism-related crime, and that his reporting duties had necessarily brought him into contact with Islamist terrorist organizations, including ISIS and Hamas.

“I spent time with them not to assist their cause, but to provide detailed and accurate information to readers about their nature, activities and beliefs,” he wrote.
The UN's Human Rights Council Grows More Odious
With freedom and democracy in retreat now for more than a decade around the world, the United Nations General Assembly is poised to take a step in coming days that, if anything, will make the problem worse.

In a vote scheduled for Tuesday, the General Assembly is expected to fill 15 openings on the UN's 47-member Human Rights Council by approving new three-year terms for such leading human rights abusers as China, Russia, Saudi Arabia and Cuba—most of which will be returning members. Joining them will be such problematic countries as Bolivia, Cote d'Ivoire, Nepal, Malawi and Senegal. Rounding out the new 15 will be the only two countries that, while surely not perfect, unhesitatingly deserve membership—Britain and France.

"Electing these dictatorships as UN judges on human rights," said Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch, a Geneva-based watchdog group, "is like making a gang of arsonists into the fire brigade."

To be clear, the new autocratic members will not be tarnishing an otherwise-effective, well-functioning body. Instead, they will be joining what is already an institution that does little to improve human rights around the world, choosing instead to focus overwhelming attention on Israel. Consequently, most of the new members will likely just take a bad situation and make it worse.

Created in 2006, the Human Rights Council has merely picked up where its justifiably maligned predecessor, the Human Rights Commission, left off. It has made Israel its only permanent agenda item, meaning that it discusses the Jewish state at each of its three meetings a year. It has focused its investigations and resolutions overwhelmingly on Israel while ignoring far more egregious problems elsewhere. And it has created a "blacklist" of companies that do business with companies in East Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Golan Heights.

Tuesday's vote for the problematic slate of new council members reflects three realities about the United Nations.

First, while the UN resolution that created the council called on member-nations to elect council members based on their "contribution to the promotion and protection of human rights and their voluntary pledges and commitments made thereto," most of the General Assembly ignores that mandate.

IDF contact tracing unit overwhelmed by recent outbreak — but improving
Though the rate of confirmed coronavirus cases per day continues to drop, the military is still painfully far from being able to perform contact tracing for all who get infected — and might be even if it were operating at full capacity.

In early August, the Israel Defense Forces was formally tasked with “cutting the chain of infections” for the country — finding and testing those suspected of having contracted the disease and putting them into quarantine. This included taking responsibility for the country’s testing efforts and conducting epidemiological surveys: the practice of speaking with confirmed carriers to retrace their steps in the days following their infection to identify and warn those they may have unwittingly passed the disease on to.

Public health experts have identified this type of contact tracing as crucial in curbing the spread of the virus, as it allows authorities to locate people who may have contracted the disease before they have a chance to pass it on.

After receiving the directive from the government, the IDF began bringing in conscripted soldiers and reservists to operate the contact tracing unit. At the time, the military’s goal was to be able to perform up to 2,000 surveys per day with just over 1,000 surveyors by November 1, when the IDF Home Front Command’s “Alon” coronavirus task force and its contact tracing unit were meant to be fully up and running.

But by September, the number of cases surpassed 2,000, exploding to over 9,000 earlier this month, well beyond even the wildest imaginings of the task force.
Multiple fires cover Israel, some allegedly caused by Palestinians
Multiple fires broke out in multiple areas across Israel on Friday, with thousands of residents force to evacuate their homes. While most fires are believed to have been caused due to extreme heat conditions, officials in the Israeli security establishment raised concerns that some fires in the West Bank were the result of deliberate arson by Palestinian individuals.

IDF soldiers were recruited to help wildfire containment efforts and evacuate citizens from residential areas of the country that were under threat.

Friday morning, around 25 fire teams including volunteers, were called to the area of Kfar HaOranim, located near Modi'in Illit to contain wildfires in the area, which engulfed a number of houses. Air support also arrived, and rescue services requested that residents of the village evacuate.

The amount of emergency service workers were not enough, and a request was sent for more fire teams and air support in addition to teams already at the scene. The fire department released a statement that read: "There is no control over the fire."

Aliyah of Ethiopian Jews ‘Symbolizes Special Bond’ With Israel, Ahmed Tells Netanyahu
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke by phone on Friday with his Ethiopian counterpart, Abiy Ahmed, and the two discussed “regional issues,” Netanyahu’s office said.

A statement put out by Netanyahu’s office noted, “Ethiopian Prime Minister Ahmed congratulated Prime Minister Netanyahu on the historic peace agreements with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain and said that Prime Minister Netanyahu had led a historic move, the magnitude and full positive ramifications of which will only be understood by future generations.”

It added, “Prime Minister Netanyahu updated Ethiopian Prime Minister Ahmed on his intention to immediately bring to Israel approximately 2,000 of the people currently sitting in Addis Ababa and Gondar, out of his commitment to the continued aliyah of Jews to Israel. Ethiopian Prime Minister Ahmed said that from his point-of-view, there was no impediment and that this symbolizes the special bond between the peoples.”

“The two also discussed the possibility of deepening agricultural cooperation and Israeli assistance,” the statement concluded.
Druze general injured in 2014 war named next liaison to Palestinians
Defense Minister Benny Gantz on Thursday named Brig. Gen. Ghassan Alian as the country’s next military liaison to the Palestinians, formally known as the coordinator of government activities in the territories, or COGAT.

Alian, who was injured during the 2014 Gaza war, will take over for Maj. Gen. Kamil Abu Rukun, who currently serves in the role and whose tenure ends in a few months, Gantz’s office said.

The defense minister has also decided to extend the tenure of Israeli Air Force chief Amikam Norkin by another year, the military said, “in light of his appreciation for [Norkin’s] service as air force commander and in light of the operational challenges” facing the military.

In addition, Gantz approved IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi’s appointment of Brig. Gen. Yaniv Asur to the position of commander of the IDF Manpower Directorate, according to the military. Asur will succeed Maj. Gen. Moti Almoz, who has served in the role since 2017.

Gantz has also decided to appoint Brig. Gen. (res.) Ofer Sarig to the role of IDF comptroller, a position he has filled in an acting capacity for the past year and a half, his office said.
IDF says it is holding body of Palestinian shot dead for hurling firebombs
The Israeli military said Friday it was holding the body of a Palestinian shot dead in a West Bank clash earlier this week, ending days of uncertainty over his fate.

The announcement follows a policy change last month in which Israel said it would not return the bodies of any Palestinian killed during or as a result of an anti-Israeli attack.

The policy aims both to prevent celebratory funerals in attackers’ hometowns and to potentially use them in negotiations to retrieve the bodies of Israeli soldiers held by terror groups.

On Monday, 27-year-old Palestinian Samir Hamidi was killed by Israeli soldiers near the northern West Bank settlement of Einav after the military said he threw firebombs at soldiers.

“Troops spotted three assailants who hurled Molotov cocktails at them,” the army said Monday. “The troops responded with fire and identified hitting one of the assailants.”
Top PLO official Saeb Erekat diagnosed with coronavirus
Senior Palestinian Liberation Organization official Saeb Erekat has tested positive for the novel coronavirus, the longtime Palestinian diplomat said on Thursday night.

Erekat is currently in isolation in his house in the West Bank city of Jericho, and has canceled all his appointments until he recovers from the virus. He has experienced light coronavirus symptoms, including a fever.

One of the architects of the Oslo peace accords, Erekat has been the PLO’s chief negotiator since 1995. Erekat has led numerous rounds of peace talks with Israel for over two decades and continues to play a central role in Palestinian politics.

Erekat is considered to be at high risk for complications from the virus. He survived both a mild heart attack in 2012 and a 2017 lung transplant after years of suffering from pulmonary fibrosis, a condition which scars the lungs and damages their ability to circulate oxygen.

Erekat met with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas four days ago during a meeting of the PLO Executive Committee. According to Erekat, all the officials who attended the meeting were tested and found to be negative.
Nearly Half of Young People in North Africa and Middle East Want to Migrate
Nearly half of the young people in North Africa and the Middle East say they are either actively trying to migrate or are considering migrating to another country, according to the 12th ASDA’A BCW Arab Youth Survey.

The survey, which interviewed 4,000 people aged 18 to 24 across 17 states in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), found that 42 per cent of those polled wanted to leave their home countries and migrate elsewhere, and 40 per cent have thought of moving to another country in a permanent basis.

Fifteen per cent of the respondents said they have taken active measures to move to another country, and only 32 per cent said that they would never leave their country.

Lebanon saw the highest rate of young people wanting to leave at 77 per cent, followed by Libya at 69 per cent, Yemen at 66 per cent, and Iraq ar 65 per cent.

Around a quarter of the youth said that they wanted to move for economic reasons while factors commonly associated with refugee status such as religious or political reasons scored just two per cent and eight per cent respectively. Security issues scored slightly higher at 12 per cent.
A dangerous escalation in Iraq, a direct Israeli concern
The Iraqi prime minister lacks a strong political base of his own, and the economic importance of Iraq’s relationship with Iran would likely act as a further disincentive. Of course, the economic element of preserving the links to the US is no less vital. The Iraqi prime minister’s natural preferred path will be to seek to placate both sides.

THERE IS a direct Israeli concern in all this.

In addition to the al-Qaim border crossing, the IRGC also seeks to control a second corridor from Iran across Iraq, via Diyala, Salah a-Din and Ninawa plains, and then to Sinjar and the border with Syria. The missiles launched at Erbil airport came from within this area.

Kataib Hezbollah, meanwhile, is in the process of building up its missile capacity. The group is widely considered to have been responsible for the attack on the Saudi Aramco facilities in May 2019. Just over a year ago, there was deep concern in Israel at the possibility that Iran might supply missiles with the range to reach Israel to the KH-controlled areas in western Iraq. A number of Israeli raids took place in July and August against KH and other militia facilities. Since then, the issue has gone quiet.

There was informed speculation that the US had asked Israel to desist, and that the two countries had divided up responsibilities, with Israel free to act over the skies of Syria, and the US handling the Iranian threat in Iraq.

This issue has not disappeared, however, and Israeli planners will be carefully watching the growing strength and defiance of KH, the ineffectuality of the government in Baghdad against it, and the developing US response.

Those who thought that the deaths of Qasem Soleimani and Muhandis on January 3, 2020, dealt a terminal blow to the Iranian militia project in Iraq should revise their conclusions.

Trump Admin Hits 18 Iranian Banks With Sanctions
The Trump administration on Thursday slapped sanctions on 18 Iranian banks, further crippling the Iranian economy and stripping its access to the global financial system.

Iran’s entire financial sector is now subject to U.S. sanctions, according to the Treasury Department.

The new sanctions will stop Iran from accessing U.S. dollars, the primary global currency used by most financial institutions. All of the banks were identified as supporting Iran’s nuclear program, missile development, global terrorism enterprise, and its network of terror proxy groups, according to the Treasury Department.

"Our sanctions programs will continue until Iran stops its support of terrorist activities and ends its nuclear programs," Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement. "Today’s actions will continue to allow for humanitarian transactions to support the Iranian people."

Several of the banks impacted by the sanctions are tied to Iran’s ministry of defense and armed forces. Many of them also work in tandem with the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, which controls large swaths of the Iranian economy.
New Iran Sanctions Welcomed by Top US Jewish Group as Continuation of ‘Maximum Pressure’ Campaign Against Tehran Regime
The Trump administration’s announcement on Thursday that it was imposing new sanctions targeting Iran’s financial sector was welcomed by the umbrella group representing US Jewry.

“The continued maximum pressure campaign makes clear to the Ayatollah that there are consequences for his relentless quest to develop nuclear weapons,” the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations said in a statement.

“This latest round of sanctions deals another heavy blow to the economy of the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism, further limiting its ability to wreak havoc in the service of its extremist hegemonic aspirations,” it added. “Iran and its terrorist proxies have the innocent blood of Americans, Israelis, and others on their hands. We support policies and actions, such as these sanctions, which reduce the risks posed to US and allied forces in the Middle East and around the world.”

“We hope to see Iran accept limitations on its nuclear ambitions and enter into new negotiations with the US and the international community,” it added. “The Iranian people do not seek regional hegemony, and do not support the reckless belligerence of their rulers. Decades of destructive behavior have rendered Iran a pariah state that is alienated from the rest of the world. The extremist regime should heed the will of the people under its control and take steps to finally rejoin the family of nations.”

Oberlin College’s ‘Professor of Peace’ Accused By Iranian Opposition of Covering Up Regime Crimes Against Humanity
I’ve covered some wild things at Oberlin College over the years. There’s just so much low-hanging news fruit.

The Great Oberlin Racism Hoax of 2013. Joy Karega, the Professor of ‘social justice writing’ who spread anti-Semitic conspiracy theories on Facebook. The aggressive anti-Israel disruptions and activism. Protests against Christina Hoff Sommers. The 14-page student Demand List that included hiring and promotion based on race. Complaints about cultural appropriation of Asian food in the dining hall. John Doe No. 1 and John Doe No. 2. Oberlin’s Culture of Theft. And of course, the campus-wide and continuing assault on the Gibson Family and their bakery.

Nothing about Oberlin College would surprise me after all that. Or so I thought. But I have to admit, when readers emailed me this story, I didn’t see it coming.

Mohammad Jafar Mahallati is nicknamed Oberlin College’s ‘Professor of Peace.’

Mahallati now stands accused by the Iranian opposition of being complicit in crimes against humanity by virtue of allegedly falsely denying mass killings in 1988 by the regime when he was Iran’s Ambassador to the U.N. (He is not accused of participating in the killings.)

The Chronicle newspaper in Oberlin was the first to report the story in an article by Jason Hawk. (Bonus question, who remembers the role Hawk played in the Gibson’s case?).

Here is an excerpt from Hawk’s report, Oberlin College professor, former diplomat under fire for 1988 mass killings in Iran:

A letter sent to college President Carmen Twillie Ambar on Wednesday calls for Mahallati’s termination.

It is signed by 626 people, including former political prisoners in Iran, the families of prisoners who were executed and human rights activists.

Mahallati, who now serves as the Nancy Schrom Dye Chair in Middle East and North African Studies at Oberlin College, was Iran’s ambassador to the United Nations from 1987 to 1989.

The letter said his role was to “obfuscate and lie to the international community about mass crimes perpetrated by the Iranian regime” — specifically, the killing of thousands of political prisoners in 1988.

Iran murders its athletes. We need to ban them from the Olympics.
On Saturday, Sept. 12, Iranian authorities announced that 27-year-old wrestler Navid Afkari had been executed.

Although officials claimed that he had been hanged, BBC Persia reported that the wrestling champion’s family was only permitted to see his face and that his nose was broken, raising suspicions that he had been tortured to death. Afkari had previously told relatives that, while in prison, he had been hung from the ceiling of a torture chamber, beaten with an iron bar and a baton, and had plastic pulled over his head in order to suffocate him “to the very brink of death.”

Afkari was sentenced to death twice in connection with the murder of a security guard during anti-government protests in Shiraz in 2018. He and his brothers, Vahid and Habib, had participated in the protests and were arrested shortly thereafter. Charged with “insulting the supreme leader” and “waging war against God,” Afkari vehemently maintained his innocence. Despite glaring inconsistencies in the evidence presented against him, his own claims that his confession to the murder was obtained via torture, and appeals by sporting associations and human rights groups around the world, his conviction and death sentence were upheld by Iran’s Supreme Court. His brothers were sentenced to 54 and 27 years in prison, respectively.

Afkari’s sham trial and execution are a stark reminder that Iran’s abuse of its own citizens extends to all segments of Iranian society — even to its athletic community. Whereas other countries view their sportsmen and women as the embodiment of national values and ideals, Iran’s maltreatment of its athletes represents a distillation of the very worst elements of life under the ayatollahs.

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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Elder of Ziyon - ุญู€ูƒู€ูŠู€ู… ุตู€ู‡ู€ูŠู€ูˆู†

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


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