Sunday, November 29, 2020

From Ian:

Melanie Phillips: The Prospective Return of Global Appeasement
This week, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo criticized Biden’s prospective team for living in a “fantasy world.” He said, “They led from behind, they appeased. I hope they will choose a different course.”

Biden’s choice as ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, who was an assistant Secretary of State under Obama, declared this week that multilateralism and diplomacy were back.

In response, Pompeo snapped that the Trump administration had developed “coalitions that actually deliver real results and reflect the reality on the ground,” and that America’s best interests were not served by “multilateralism for the sake of hanging out with your buddies at a cool cocktail party.”

Opponents of appeasement are often called warmongers. Winston Churchill, who during the 1930s fruitlessly warned that Hitler’s aggression needed to be curbed, was dismissed as such until his country realized almost too late that Hitler had Britain in his sights, as well as half of Europe.

The fact that Biden’s team consists of so many Obama-era retreads is causing concern among those Americans who understand the harm Obama inflicted upon their nation’s foundational principles.

They are no less concerned that Biden would essentially continue Obama’s strategy to reduce America’s standing in the world and thus weaken both the United States and the West that it leads.

It was a strategy that, under Obama, empowered those bent upon evil. Rational people everywhere, in the developing world no less than the West, should shudder at its prospective return in America.
Pompeo Passes Torch to Biden Admin Touting a Fundamentally Realigned Globe
These policies make sense to Israel and their Gulf partners, Pompeo said.

"It fits with their understanding of the risk to their people," Pompeo said. "So whether it’s in the Gulf states or Israel, I think they have come to appreciate that the policies that this administration put in place are the ones that are best for them, for their relationship and partnership with the United States of America."

"I’m confident more will follow," Pompeo said of other Arab nations likely to make peace with Israel.

The peace accords also are a sign of deeper U.S. ties with Israel’s traditional enemies, Pompeo said. The UAE, for example, is in line to receive more than $20 billion in U.S. weapons, including 50 F-35 Lighting II aircraft, MQ-9B drones, and advanced munitions systems—a massive military package that only would have been approved for Israel in years past.

While Pompeo was assailed in the media for stepping foot in disputed areas of Israel, peace talks with Arab nations continued. The BBC, for instance, wrote, "Trumplomacy: Mike Pompeo eyes history on Israel swansong trip." The article accused Pompeo of inflaming Palestinian leaders and positioning himself as a contender in the 2024 presidential election.

Asked about these critics, Pompeo described the reports as "longing for a time that is based on fantasy, when in fact, I think the world has moved away from that understanding that the lefties at the BBC hold so dearly."

Pompeo said he is not focusing on what is to come next year, but spending his final months in office ensuring President Donald Trump’s "America First" policies continue to challenge the conventional foreign policy establishment.

"We didn’t spend any time talking about what the—what might happen in January of next year," Pompeo said. "We spent a lot of time thinking about what we ought to do in November of this year and how we ought to continue—collectively, not just the United States, but continue collectively—to increase security in the region and get an even broader coalition."


Why Is the Palestinian Authority Donating to U.S. Universities?
The Palestinian Authority (PA) seems to have no shortage of funds to pay terrorists in Israeli jails and the families of suicide bombers. In 2019, the PA distributed approximately $148 million to prisoners, a 3 percent increase from 2018. Meanwhile, the PA lacks funds to combat the coronavirus and has cut salaries to government employees, including teachers (who are paid less than the terrorists), and other civil servants. Palestinians and Americans might, therefore, be surprised to learn that the PA has money to spare to donate to American universities.

A new study that I compiled for the American-Israeli Cooperative Enterprise found that U.S. institutions received more than $10 billion in foreign gifts from Arab sources from 1981 to October 2020. While it is not surprising the wealthy Gulf countries were responsible for the lion’s share, it was startling to see the non-existent “State of Palestine” made nine gifts worth $4.5 million in the last four years. While the amount may sound relatively trivial, the impact can be exponential.

The universities that received gifts from “The State of Palestine” may feel obligated to report the money as the donors wish, but doing so in this case compromises their integrity by legitimizing the Palestinian claim to being a state, one that is not accepted by the United States government. Since no such state exists, the record should say Palestinian Authority. Furthermore, given that the PA relies largely on foreign aid to subsist and is in dire financial straits, questions arise as to where it came up with this money, why it chose to spend it in the United States, and whether the Palestinian public is aware of how its money is being used.

Until 2020, the Department of Education (DoE) did not report how foreign gifts were used by universities and, even now, many are not explained. Of the 259 PA gifts listing a purpose, roughly 177 were for some type of financial aid for Arab students. Only one of the foreign gifts was identified with a political purpose — a $643,000 contribution to Brown in 2020 from “The State of Palestine” to provide support for a professorship in Palestinian Studies within its Center for Middle East Studies.


Iran's tough year makes the world a safer place
Israel most likely expected the predictable condemnations from the European Union and from other officials, like Former Central Intelligence Agency Director John Brennan, who called the assassination "an act of state-sponsored terrorism." But there is no need to fret. The world is a better place now that the likes of Fakhrizadeh no longer walk the earth and any move that prevents Iran from making any dash toward a nuclear bomb is a welcome one.

Israel, for its part, must take Iran's threats of retribution seriously.

Soleimani was eliminated by the Americans - an opponent too formidable for the Iranians to take on. Fakhrizadeh's assassination was, according to foreign media reports, the work of Israel – an opponent with which Iran finds it much easier to deal.

Retaliation could come in many ways: via Syria or Lebanon, which share borders with Israel; through attempts to target Israeli officials, to attacks on Israeli embassies around the world.

The Iranians cannot afford a knee-jerk reaction. Tehran's primary interest is to see the American sanctions lifted and the near-unraveled nuclear deal stitched back together. It is therefore hard to imagine it would risk an incident that torpedoes this strategic goal, so it will likely target an Israeli asset that, while substantial, won't trigger regional escalation.

This requires Israel to remain vigilant at home and abroad, all while keeping a low profile. Israeli officials' vague statements help nothing. When some things are so obvious, silence speaks louder than words.
Honest Reporting: Is Killing Iran’s Nuclear Scientists a War Crime?
Is a targeted assassination a violation of international law?

This comes down to three legal questions related to Geneva Convention IV:
- Do “hostilities” exist? (General Provisions, Geneva Convention IV)
- Is the individual in question (i.e. an Iranian nuclear scientist) considered a civilian? (Additional Protocol I, §51(3))
- Has the perpetrator acted in a manner that minimizes harm to civilians? (Additional Protocol I, §57(2))


With respect to the first question, the answer is yes: hostilities exist. Since at least 2005, Iranian leaders have been calling to “wipe Israel off the map” while simultaneously waging multiple proxy wars with a view to accomplishing that very purpose. In September 2019, for example, Maj. Gen. Hossein Salami, the head of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), boasted:

We have managed to obtain the capacity to destroy the impostor Zionist regime.

With respect to the second question, the answer in this case is clearly no: the head Iranian nuclear scientist is not a civilian. Although media commonly refer to Mohsen Fakhrizadeh as a “scientist” and “professor,” they typically omit his other titles: Brigadier General in the IRGC and the “father” of Iran’s nuclear weapons project. In reality, Fakhrizadeh was a military officer speaheading a military nuclear weapons program — often on military bases — for a regime engaged in widespread military hostilities.

In every respect, then, Fakhrizadeh was the exact opposite of a “civilian.”

Regarding the third question, it is tempting, but incorrect, to compare a targeted killing to the alternative of taking no action. Clearly, the latter would preclude causing casualties, but countries such as Israel and the United States also have a duty to protect their own civilians.

Thus, for a country that would be existentially threatened by a nuclear-armed Iran, non-action is not a viable option. This is consistent with the Geneva Conventions, which do not speak of nations being required to passively accept having their civilians harmed or destroyed. Therefore, it is more appropriate to compare targeted killings to a far worse option: namely, a broad military confrontation.

When properly analyzed within this framework, the assassination of a brigadier general that resulted in no civilian casualties was, from a moral perspective, clearly the correct, and most prudent course of action, and from a legal perspective, it was the action that minimized civilian casualties.
Seth Frantzman: Was Iran’s Fakhrizadeh an Oppenheimer or a Soleimani?
The list of condemnations presents Fakhrizadeh as a scientist of a sovereign country, not a legitimate target within the military apparatus of a regime that has threatened its neighbors and the region with missiles and possible nuclear weapons. Iran in recent years has mined ships illegally in the Gulf of Oman, fired rockets at Kurdish dissidents in 2018 in Iraq, used drones and missiles to attack Saudi Arabia’s Abqaiq in 2019, and also sent ballistic missiles to Iraq, air defense, drones and missiles to Syria and to Hezbollah’s illegal arms depots in Lebanon and Iran has carried out a campaign of assassinations in Europe since the 1980s, as well as empowering terror groups to attack targets in Bulgaria, Argentina, Thailand and elsewhere.

The question about Fakhrizadeh was whether he was primarily a scientist, like Oppenheimer, or more of a general in the defense ministry overseeing key aspects of the military nuclear program. Oppenheimer was born in 1904 and received his PhD in 1927. Later Oppenheimer led research for the National Defense Research Committee and then for the US Army’s Office of Scientific Research and Development, with the aim of building a nuclear bomb. Oppenheimer was known for his left-leaning political views and later in life would struggle for arms control against nuclear proliferation. He came to oppose the thing he had helped create.

There is no evidence that Fakhrizadeh or those around him have the same desire for peace that Oppenheimer had. It’s also not clear why some who condemned the killing of Fakhrizadeh did not condemn similar assassinations in 2012 of Iranian scientists. Lastly, it is not clear if US enemies had targeted Oppenheimer, whether that would have been outside the bounds of the conflict, since the scientists were engaged in a military project. The problem for Iran’s regime is that one the one hand it wants its scientists to be above reproach regarding Iran’s open claims that it will destroy Israel and bring “death to America.” The regime wants to demand “death” on one end, and invade and assassinate people in other countries, but also does not want that to happen inside Iran.

Fakhrizadeh does not appear to have been an Oppenheimer type. He was more like a Soleimani, a key military figure at the heart of the military industrial nuclear complex of Iran and Iran’s threats against the region. Iran has built increasingly precise missiles, with longer ranges. It has also built more drones. Iran is seeking to present a real threat to its neighbors and the region and continues to warn the US and others of “revenge.”


Who Was Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, the ‘Mysterious’ Nuclear Scientist Killed Outside of Tehran?
Asked to assess the damage caused by the assassination to the Iranian military nuclear program, Ofek said he was not sure such an estimate is possible. “Since 2015, the Iranians attempted to hide their nuclear-weapons program. It’s hard to know to what extent they really continued it. They could have continued through computer calculations, but apparently not through actions on the ground,” explained Ofek. “From 2015 onwards, I’m not sure where Fakhrizadeh was. He was apparently in the picture. But it’s not clear that he could conduct things that would point to Iran renewing its military nuclear program.”

“It seems that he was always apparently saved for when the window of opportunity would arise, such as when the JCPOA’s sunset clauses could have expired,” he added, referring to temporary restrictions placed by the 2015 agreement on aspects of the Iranian nuclear program.

Despite accusations by Tehran that Israel was behind the assassination, Ofek said that “it can’t be ruled out that others were behind it, like the Mujahedin-e-Khalq opposition group. It could be that they did it on their own or in cooperation with foreign elements. In any case, the Iranians always blame Israel.”

Looking beyond Iran’s vows of revenge, the question of what Iran can actually do in terms of action is now a central consideration for the defense establishment, noted Ofek.

Meanwhile, i24 News reported a statement by an Iranian official who said that the same elements who sabotaged the Natanz uranium enrichment facility with an explosion in July were behind the killing of Fakhrizadeh.
Ex-Israeli intel chief: Slain Iranian nuke scientist near impossible to replace
Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, the senior Iranian nuclear scientist who was killed Friday outside Tehran, was so central to the Islamic Republic’s secret nuclear weapons program that it will be hard to replace him with somebody of equal stature, the former head of Israel’s military intelligence said.

“The is no doubt that he was the core source of authority, knowledge and organization of this program,” said Maj. Gen. (ret.) Amos Yadlin.

Iran’s nuclear program has two tracks: an overt one producing fissile material Tehran claims is for civilian use (though it can be used for nuclear weapons), and a secret one dedicated to weaponization, explained Yadlin, in a briefing for journalists Sunday organized by the Media Central group.

“There is no damage to the enrichment and fissile material part of the program [with Fakhrizadeh’s death]. The damage to the covert weaponization program is huge, but cannot be measured since nobody knows exactly the scope and the depth and what the Iranians are doing covertly.”
World should thank Israel for hit on Iran nuke chief, Israeli official tells NYT
An unnamed Israeli official told the New York Times on Saturday that the world should thank Israel for the assassination of Iran’s alleged nuclear weapons mastermind Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, even as Jerusalem hasn’t officially claimed responsibility for the operation.

The senior official, who according to the report was involved for years in tracking Fakhrizadeh for Israel, also said the country would continue to take any necessary steps against Tehran’s nuclear program.

Brookings Institution researcher Bruce Riedel, a former official at the Central Intelligence Agency with experience in Israel, told the US newspaper that Jerusalem was showing extraordinary levels of ability in striking at key individuals in enemy territory.

“It’s unprecedented,” Riedel said. “And it shows no sign of being effectively countered by the Iranians.”

Riedel also said that Israel had used its close ties with countries neighboring Iran, such as Azerbaijan, for surveillance and recruitment of operatives, noting the Azeri use of Israeli-made drones in its recent conflict with Armenia, which is presumably a facet of that relationship.
Minister chides EU for condemning killing of top Iran nuclear scientist
The United Kingdom, Turkey and Oman on Sunday joined the chorus of international condemnation over the assassination of a senior Iranian nuclear scientist, as an Israeli minister criticized Europe for its denunciation of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh’s killing.

Fakhrizadeh, dubbed the father of Iran’s nuclear weapons program by the US and Israel, was killed on Friday in an ambush in Absard, a village just east of Tehran, as his vehicle neared a truck that exploded when he approached. Local reports then described a barrage of automatic gunfire as gunmen emerged from a nearby car. A firefight erupted between the assassins and Fakhrizadeh’s bodyguards. The attackers killed Fakhrizadeh and at least three of the guards before escaping.

The killing drew criticism from European and Arab states, as well as the United Nations. It has been widely blamed on Israel, which has not taken responsibility.

Intelligence Minister Eli Cohen, in an interview with Army Radio, said he did not know who was responsible for the death of Fakhrizadeh. But he censured European states for condemning the killing, saying they were well aware of Iran’s nuclear ambitions and violations of agreements with world powers.

“We see them again burying their heads in the sand,” he said, referring to the EU, which had called the killing a “criminal act.”


Iranian newspaper urges striking Haifa in retaliation for Fakhrizadeh killing
An opinion piece published by a hardline Iranian newspaper on Sunday suggested Iran should attack the Israeli port city of Haifa if Israel was responsible for the killing of the scientist who allegedly masterminded its military nuclear program.

Though the Kayhan newspaper has long argued for aggressive retaliation for operations targeting Iran, Sunday’s opinion piece went further, suggesting any assault be carried out in a way that destroys facilities and “also causes heavy human casualties.”

Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, the scientist said by Israel and the US to head Iran’s rogue nuclear weapons program, was assassinated Friday in an ambush near the capital Tehran, Iran’s defense ministry said. The ministry confirmed the death of Fakhrizadeh, a professor of physics and an officer in the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, after it was widely reported in Iranian media.

Several top Iranian officials indicated they believed Israel was behind the killing in the hours after the attack, with one adviser to the Islamic Republic’s supreme leader vowing revenge. Israel had no comment on the attack, and Israeli TV reports late Friday said the army had not been placed on a heightened alert in its wake.

Kayhan published the piece written by Iranian analyst Sadollah Zarei, who argued that Iran’s previous reactions to suspected Israeli airstrikes that killed Revolutionary Guard forces in Syria didn’t go far enough to deter Israel.


Donald Trump’s Gifts to Israel
Halbfinger’s litany of criticism for anything of benefit to Israel seems endless. It includes Trump’s order to kill Gen. Qassem Suleimani, commander of the Iranian Quds Force and “one of Israel’s most feared adversaries.” That signified “a joint American-Israeli strategy” for “short-of-war secret strikes against Iran.” Halbfinger notes that “the Trump administration has repeatedly stood by Israel in its diplomatic fights.” Would he prefer that the Trump administration support Israel’s enemies?

Concluding his indictment, Halbfinger notes that “the Trump administration has increasingly equated anti-Zionism with antisemitism,” as if there was no obvious and odious connection between them. Their linkage prompted Pompeo to announce that the BDS movement that targets Israel “would be deemed antisemitic.” That seems problematic for the Times, although it is the newspaper’s bias against Israel and its alliance with the United States that seems to be the problem.

It is not without significance that the Times’ Jerusalem bureau chiefs who have been most critical of Israel, dating from Thomas L. Friedman’s posting in 1984, have been Jews, among them Deborah Sontag, Clyde Haberman, Jodi Rudoren, and now, Halbfinger. They have, unknowingly, followed in the footsteps of Joseph M. Levy, hired by the Times in 1928 as its Palestine correspondent, who became the conduit for anti-Zionist critics to voice their opinions in the Times opinion columns.

The Times cannot acknowledge that the American president who has provided the most support and protection for Israel since Harry Truman recognized the Jewish state moments after its birth, is Donald Trump. Its conversion of blessings into curses is hardly a model of responsible journalism.
Haley calls on White House to release classified report on Palestinian refugees
Former US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley called on the Trump administration to declassify a report detailing the current number of Palestinian refugees who are receiving aid from the UN Works and Relief Agency for Palestinian Refugees.

"Very important that the Trump administration declassify the report that provides a current estimate of the number of Palestinian refugees who are receiving support. This goes to the heart of speaking hard truths in the name of moving peace forward," she tweeted on Wednesday.

Her tweet linked to a Nov. 23 New York Post op-ed authored by Foundation for Defense of Democracies Senior Adviser Richard Goldberg and Senior Vice President for Research Jonathan Schanzer. The op-ed noted that Congress required the State Department in 2012 to produce a report on the number of Palestinian refugees receiving aid from UNRWA that were alive in 1948; the report was completed and sent to congressional appropriations committees years later, but remains classified today.

"The public release of these figures could spark an international debate over UNRWA's mandate," wrote Goldberg and Schanzer. "Secretary of State Mike Pompeo should also announce official US policy change for purposes of future US funding and planning, Palestinian refugees are narrowly defined as people who were personally displaced from then-Palestine between 1948 and 1949 and aren't currently citizens or permanent residents of the Palestinian Authority or any country."


Transformations in the Middle East: Challenges for the New U.S. Administration
The Middle East of 2020 is far different from the one left in 2016 by the Obama administration. The Middle East is still suffering from the same illnesses as before. A lot has changed, and a lot is much of the same.

Unlike former U.S. administrations, the Trump team did not champion the theory from the past that normalization of the relations between Israel and the Arab neighbors is dependent on the resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. On the contrary, the Trump team professed that normalization of the relations between Arab states and Israel would put the latter at ease for further concessions to the Palestinians.

The Middle East is more polarized than ever between the pro- and anti-Iran coalitions, between Sunnis and Shiites, between those who favor a rapprochement with Israel and those who fight it, and between the stable (albeit still shaky) regimes and the failed states of Libya and Lebanon.

In Lebanon, Hizbullah’s secretary-general Hassan Nasrallah shed tears on the news of Qassem Suleimani being killed, but not even one drop for the hundreds killed and thousands injured by the blast. Today, Lebanon is being emptied by its elite and by those who can afford to pay for the crossing of the Mediterranean to the European shores.

Turkey is projecting itself more than ever through its political stance and readiness to deploy military forces in areas of conflict. A long time absent from the limelight, Turkey has become a central player in the Middle East that cannot be ignored today.

The chaotic situation in the Middle East has been an opportunity for Iran to continue its relentless efforts to consolidate its positions in the area. In the last four years, Iran has become a significant player in the Arab Middle East, using its surrogates of Hizbullah and foreign legions of Shiite militias organized under the shield of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard’s “Quds” Force to further deepen its political presence in the area.
Netanyahu Reportedly Flew to Saudi Arabia to Close Peace Deal With Crown Prince
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly flew to Saudi Arabia last Sunday in hopes of closing a normalization deal with Riyadh, the Wall Street Journal reported on Friday.

According to the paper, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, however, refused to commit to what would have been a monumental seachange in Israeli-Arab relations due to Democrat Joe Biden’s victory in the US election over Donald Trump on November 3.

Last Sunday, Netanyahu reportedly flew to the Saudi city of Neom, accompanied by the director of the Mossad to hold a tripartite meeting with the Crown Prince and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

The Prime Minister’s Office has neither confirmed nor denied that such a meeting took place.

According to a Saudi adviser and a senior American official quoted by the newspaper, Netanyahu and Pompeo hoped to secure a promised commitment from the Saudi Prince to normalize relations with the Jewish state.

But the crown prince reportedly opted instead to hold off on forging ahead with an agreement in deference to the incoming Biden administration, preferring to get off on the right foot with the new American president.
Poll: Only 30% of Saudis in favor of business, sports ties with Israel
Despite signs of strengthening ties between Jerusalem and Riyadh, a new poll released on Friday shows the vast majority of the Saudi public remains generally opposed to establishing links with the Jewish state.

According to the survey conducted for the Washington Institute for Near-East Policy think tank, only 30% of Saudis answered "somewhat" or "strongly" agree that "people who want to have business or sports contacts with Israelis should be allowed to do so."

However, the figure is on the rise and has tripled compared to the last survey carried out last June.

Conversely, 64% of those polled answered "somewhat against" or "totally against" the proposition, while the remaining 6% declared "not knowing" or refused to answer the question.

Moreover, the poll also showed 40% of those questioned answered "strongly agree" or "somewhat agree" to the question, "Are the Abraham Accords signed between Israel, the United Arab Emirates, and Bahrain positive?"
Hebrew-language, Israeli-culture institute opens in UAE
Here’s an item you never would have read in the United Arab Emirates’ Khaleej Times until quite recently: “First Hebrew institute to open in UAE in January.”

Josh Samet, director of the forthcoming Educational Hebrew Institute, told the Khaleej Times that the Abraham Accords signed by Israel and the UAE “have fueled curiosity for knowledge and education centered around the Hebrew language.”

Indeed, as ISRAEL21c reported recently, businesspeople and government officials from the UAE and Bahrain are signing up to learn conversational Hebrew online with Israel-based language schools.

But now, Emirati authorities have confirmed that EHI, the first Hebrew language and Israeli culture institute in the UAE, will open in January.

In-person classes taught by Israelis in Dubai and Abu Dhabi will acquaint local businesspeople with Israeli-style communication and cuisine in “a fun and interactive way.”
Bahrain trade delegation to visit Israel next week
Bahraini Minister of Industry, Commerce and Tourism Zayed R. Alzayani plans to visit Israel next week, the Foreign Ministry confirmed on Sunday.

Alzayani will be accompanied by a 40-person trade delegation, the first-ever from his country to Israel, meant to encourage Israeli investments in Bahrain.

The minister is expected to meet with Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi and Economy Minister Amir Peretz.

Bahraini business leaders are expected to be part of the delegation and meet with their Israeli counterparts.

Earlier this month, Bahraini Foreign Minister Abdullatif bin Rashid Al Zayani led the first-ever official delegation from his country to Israel, following the announcement of diplomatic relations between Manama and Jerusalem in September.
Bahraini Al-Aqsa prayer-goer: This is a new form of terror
Dr. Sheikh Khalid bin Khalifa, Chairman of the Bahraini Hamad Global Center for Peaceful Coexistence, said on Sunday that all mosques should be open for prayer for all Muslims.

Khalifa, who prayed at the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem last Friday without revealing his identity for fear of being attacked by Palestinians, told The Jerusalem Post: “It is unacceptable to prevent anyone from any religion from praying. This is a new form of terror.”

Khalifa emphasized that “no one owes the mosques,” adding that all Muslims should have free access to their holy sites.

In August, the Palestinian Authority mufti of Jerusalem, Sheikh Mohammed Hussein, issued a fatwa (Islamic ruling) banning Muslims from praying at the Al-Aqsa Mosque within the framework of normalization agreements between Israel and the Arab countries.

Last month, Palestinians claimed that they “expelled” a delegation from the United Arab Emirates whose members came to pray at the mosque.
Rwanda mulls embassy move to Jerusalem
Rwanda told Israel that the relocation of its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem was under consideration, the spokesperson for Communications Minister Yoaz Hendel (Derech Eretz) told The Jerusalem Post on Saturday night.

Hendel met Friday with the President Paul Kagame in Rwanda’s capital of Kigali.

“The minister made a request on behalf of Israel’s government to relocate the embassy,” Hendel’s office said.

“The president responded that the topic is on the agenda,” Hendel’s spokesperson said.

Kagame added that an embassy relocation “presents a challenge from them and that it would take time to find the appropriate moment.”

To date, only the United States and Guatemala have embassies in Jerusalem. The remaining 87 countries with embassies in Israel are located in the Tel Aviv and Herzliya area.


Norway to Extradite Suspect in 1982 Attack on Paris Jewish Restaurant
Norway will extradite a man to France who is suspected of taking part in an attack that killed six people in a Jewish restaurant in Paris 38 years ago, the government said on Friday.

At least 20 others were wounded in the bombing and shooting assault on the Jo Goldenberg restaurant in the Marais quarter in August 1982.

In 2015, arrest warrants were issued against three former members of the Abu Nidal Organization, a splinter group of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), a source told Reuters at the time.

The suspects were identified long after the attacks because of statements from other former members of the Abu Nidal group under a French judicial process that maintained their anonymity, the source said.

One of the men, named as Walid Abdulrahman Abu Zayed, lives in Norway, where he moved in the 1990s. Norwegian authorities rejected an original 2015 extradition request for him on grounds that, in most cases, it would not extradite its own citizens.
FDD: Analysis: Israeli military targets Hezbollah activity in Syria
State-run Syrian news agency (SANA) reported Tuesday night that the Israeli military launched airstrikes against southern Syria shortly before midnight.

“At 23:50 on the night of 11/24, the Zionist enemy launched an airstrike from the direction of the occupied Syrian Golan towards southern Damascus, and the losses were limited to material only,” SANA reported.

The attack came one week after Israel retaliated against Syrian and Iranian forces after IEDs were discovered on the Alpha Line at the Golan-Syria border. Israel blamed Iran’s Quds Force’s Unit 840 for perpetrating the thwarted IED offensive.

One of the airstrikes produced a large explosion followed by a secondary explosion indicating the presence of combustible material stored at the targeted location.

Additionally, satellite imagery taken after the airstrikes reveal extensive damage at two warehouses located south of Damascus near Jabal al-Mana.

As previously detailed in FDD’s Long War Journal, Israel has been carrying out an extended military campaign against Iranian entrenchment in Syria and its effort to arm Hezbollah in Lebanon with precision guided munitions.

Iran’s precision guided munitions project aims to upgrade Hezbollah’s missile accuracy by transferring Iranian-made components to Lebanon, allowing Hezbollah to strike targets accurately.
Jordan's King Abdullah meets Abbas, calls for two-state solution
Jordan’s King Abdullah on Sunday called for intensifying international efforts to achieve a just and lasting peace and end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, based on the two-state solution.

King Abdullah, who was speaking during a meeting with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Aqaba, a Jordanian port city on the Red Sea’s Gulf of Aqaba, said that Jordan “stands with all its energies and capabilities alongside the Palestinian brothers in achieving their just and legitimate rights and establishing their independent, sovereign and viable state on the June 4, 1967 lines, with East Jerusalem as its capital,” according to the Jordanian news agency Petra.

It said that Abdullah and Abbas discussed developments related to the Palestinian issue as part of continuous coordination and consultation between the two sides.

The meeting was attended by Jordan’s Crown Prince Hussein bin Abdullah, Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi and Director of the Jordanian Intelligence Directorate, General Ahmad Husni.
PMW: Abbas’ advisor on "beloved" arch-terrorists: Hamas founder Ahmed Yassin, Abu Jihad, Abu Iyad
Supreme Shari’ah Judge and Abbas’ advisor Mahmoud Al-Habbash: “We have already bid farewell to our beloved ones, our leaders, and our Martyrs, including [former PLO leader and PA President] Martyr Yasser Arafat, Sheikh Ahmed Yassin (i.e., founder of Hamas terror organization), Martyr Abu Jihad (i.e., terrorist, responsible for murder of 125), Martyr Abu Iyad (i.e., head of Black September terror organization), and other great Martyrs.”

Mahmoud Al-Habbash also serves as Chairman of the Supreme Council for Shari'ah Justice. In August 2019 PA Chairman Abbas dismissed all his advisors by Presidential decree. It is unclear what their status is today.

The following are additional details of the terrorists glorified by Abbas’ advisor:
Yasser Arafat – Founder of Fatah and former chairman of the PLO and PA. During the 1960s, 70s and 80s Arafat was behind numerous terror attacks against Israelis. Although he received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1994 together with then Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and then Israeli Minister of Foreign Affairs Shimon Peres “for their efforts to create peace in the Middle East" after signing the Oslo Accords peace agreement, Arafat launched a 5-year terror campaign - the second Intifada (2000-2005) – in which more than 1,000 Israelis were murdered. Arafat died of an illness in 2004.

Abu Jihad (Khalil Al-Wazir) - was a founder of Fatah and deputy to Yasser Arafat. He headed the PLO terror organization's military wing and also planned many deadly Fatah terror attacks in the 1960’s - 1980’s. These attacks, in which a total of 125 Israelis were murdered, included the most lethal in Israeli history - the hijacking of a bus and murder of 37 civilians, 12 of them children.


Hamas bans West Bank dairy products from entering Gaza
Hamas has banned Palestinian dairy companies in the West Bank from selling their products in the Gaza Strip.

The unprecedented decision drew strong condemnation from the Palestinian Authority and many Palestinians, who said Hamas continues to allow various Israeli products to enter the coastal enclave.

The move was a “despicable crime,” PA officials in Ramallah said, adding that it would deepen the split between the West Bank and Gaza.

Trade and Crossings director-general Rami Abu Rish announced the ban in a letter to Karem Abu Salem (Kerem Shalom) crossing director Ahmed Musalam. The Kerem Shalom crossing is on the border between Israel and the Gaza Strip.

Products from Al-Juneidi Company for Dairy Products and Food Products and Al-Jebrini Dairy & Food Industry Co. were banned, said the letter, dated November 22. The two companies are based in the West Bank.

The ban aims to “support and strengthen local products,” the letter said.
Saudi Arabia has Suspended Turkish Meat Imports – Turkish Union
Saudi Arabia formally suspended imports of meat, eggs and other products from Turkey earlier this month, the Turkish exporters’ union said, after a months-long informal boycott of Turkish goods over political tensions between the two regional rivals.

Turkish exporters have reported increasing obstacles to trade in Saudi Arabia, as businessmen in the Gulf Arab state have led calls for bans on Turkish imports and as ties between the two countries deteriorated.

Already strained by competing ambitions for regional influence, those relations plunged into crisis two years ago when Saudi agents killed prominent Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

Ankara says it has been told by Riyadh that there is no formal boycott, but the exporters’ union said it had been informed by Turkey’s trade ministry that imports of some Turkish goods had been suspended earlier this month.

“Imports from our country of red meat and products, white meat and products, water products, eggs and honey and their products, as well as milk and… alternatives to breast milk, have been suspended as of November 15,” the union told its members in an email obtained by Reuters.


AOC and how she works with Jews: It’s personal
Then came Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. This situation has led us to some of the most absurd scenarios. Some have turned to other members of Congress to try and get her to give us the time of day. Others have simply given up.

After so many years of progress, the Jewish community finds itself excluded from American life once again. It is hard not to think about the country clubs, hospitals, universities and other institutions that excluded Jews early in the 20th century. Most often, like with AOC, Jews bit our tongues, built our own clubs and hospitals, and continued to fight for equality.

Sure, occasionally Ocasio-Cortez will tokenize Jews here and there, and meet groups of Jews like IfNotNow that do not recognize Israel’s right to exist, or show up at a Hanukkah party with those who will “as Jews” support boycott-divestment-sanctions.

Yet when it comes to showing common courtesy to her fellow Jewish New Yorkers, Ocasio-Cortez will take the approach of white supremacists in the early 1900s. We are not welcome in her country club, not even a show of solidarity in a soup kitchen for the poor, or a school for children with special needs. Ocasio-Cortez’s contempt for events related to the Jewish community has reached the level, that when in January, tens of thousands marched on the Brooklyn Bridge protesting rising levels of anti-Semitism, it was not clear if she would attend.

When she did, it became a uniquely newsworthy item. Clearly, Ocasio-Cortez’s treatment of the Jewish community is not all related to Israel, and this open secret is becoming less and less of a secret.

Ocasio-Cortez’s hostility and tokenizing of the Jews resurfaced again recently as she agreed to — and then canceled — her appearance at Americans for Peace Now memorial of late Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin. To be clear, this is an organization as far left as you can go without calling for the full dismantling of the state of Israel.

It is an organization that supports the establishment of a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders, while uprooting a half-million Israelis that live in the West Bank.


Channel 4 News makes wildly inaccurate claim about West Bank
A Channel 4 News report (“Mike Pompeo becomes first top US diplomat to visit settlement in Israeli-occupied West Bank”, Nov. 19) by Washington correspondent Siobhan Kennedy included the following claims:

As we pointed out in tweets to the journalist and Channel 4 News’ chief editor, this includes two wildly inaccurate claims. First, though settlements built in the West Bank after the Six Day War are viewed as illegal by most countries, nobody has alleged that Israel’s initial capture of these territories during their defensive war in 1967 was itself “illegal”.

Further, it’s of course erroneous to claim that Israel seized the land from “the Palestinians”, as Jordan was in control of the territory at the time.

Since we didn’t receive a reply from Channel 4 News, we filed a complaint today with Ofcom – the UK’s communications regulator for TV broadcasts – under the ‘Due impartiality and due accuracy’ clause of the broadcasting code.
BBC News recycles standard talking points in latest Gaza Corona report
That highlighted section was added to the report some three hours after its initial publication but once again BBC audiences are not given a proper explanation as to why those “disputes” have resulted in a chronic shortage of medical supplies. Neither are they informed that the restrictions imposed by Israel on the entry of goods and materials to the Gaza Strip are confined to dual-use items – i.e. those which can be used for the purpose of terrorism – and do not include medicines.

The report continues with the ‘Israel says’ formula, whitewashing the thousands of terror attacks which have been launched against Israeli civilians from the territory.

“Israel and Egypt imposed the blockade in 2007 when the Palestinian militant group violently reinforced its control over the territory a year after winning elections. The two countries say the blockade is for self-defence.”

Those who bothered to read right down to the bottom of the report would find a reference to a story that conflicts with the narrative of the ‘blockade’ as the prime cause of low standards of healthcare in the Gaza Strip, to which the BBC has not given any stand-alone coverage.

“In another development, Israel has pledged to provide up to four million doses of a Covid-19 vaccine for the West Bank and Gaza Strip when it becomes available, a senior official from the Palestinian Authority told Israel Hayom newspaper.

The official said that in every agreement signed by Israel with vaccine companies, a percentage of the vaccines would be set aside for the Palestinian territories.”


Once again we see that BBC reporting on Covid-19 in the Gaza Strip promotes repeated context-deficient references to Israeli counter-terrorism measures while completely avoiding the topic of the responsibility of Hamas for the chronic shortages in the healthcare system it has run for the past thirteen years and insufficient preparation for a pandemic which affected the territory it controls later than in many other locations.
StandWithUs: Antisemitism in 2020
There is no doubt that antisemitism saw a sharp uptick in all its forms during 2020. From physical violence to antisemitic slurs and vandalism, this virus is alive and well. Whatever starts with the Jews never ends with the Jews. We must stand together in the fight against antisemitism.


Michael Horowitz, Israeli prosecutor of Nazi guard Demjanjuk, dies aged 69
Michael Horowitz’s biggest claim to fame was his work as a top prosecutor in the famed Israeli war crimes trial against John Demjanjuk, the one-time Ohio autoworker who spent years trying to prove he wasn’t the monstrous “Ivan the Terrible” camp guard at Treblinka. But to me, Michael was a lot more than that. A deeply funny man, a mensch, a scholar, a person whose very existence was all about Tikkun Olam – repairing the world.

We buried Michael this week in Goa, India – where he and his wife Roley settled a few years back after many decades in Jerusalem. He drowned in the pool of his gated community while swimming his daily laps. It’s not clear how it happened. Maybe a blackout, maybe a heart attack. In recent years he had been battling multiple sclerosis. He was 69.

Michael’s prosecution team secured a conviction and death sentence against Demjanjuk in 1988.

The verdict was overturned five years later by the Israeli Supreme Court after new evidence emerged casting doubt on whether Demjanjuk was the actual Ivan The Terrible. Demjanjuk’s decades-long legal saga eventually ended in a conviction in Germany for having served as a guard at Sobibor and other concentration camps. He died in Germany in 2012 at age 91.

Michael was recruited for the case partly because of his status as a polyglot. Born in New York and raised in Holland, he spoke Hebrew, English, German, Dutch, Italian and French, and was a student of Latin, Greek and Sanskrit. He spent many months in Europe interviewing witnesses for the case, and alleged Nazis as well. The Holocaust loomed large in Michael’s life. He was the only child of Marion Bienes, a Bergen-Belsen concentration camp survivor who went on to become an opera singer and noted animal rights activist in Holland. She chained herself to the White House fence in one notable act of zeal.

I spoke to Michael about his work on the Demjanjuk case. His basic point was that while the aging former Trawniki man might not have been the Ivan the Terrible, he was undoubtedly an Ivan the Terrible. I led The Associated Press bureau in Jerusalem from 2004 to 2010, and during that time Michael was an important source for our reporters on the Holocaust.


Netanyahu honors fighters responsible for opening road to Jerusalem
The Office of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced Sunday that he will honor the fighters responsible for keeping the road to Jerusalem open and ensuring supplies reached Jerusalem during the 1948 War of Independence.

The ceremony took place at Sha'ar HaGay at the Memorial for the Pioneers of the Road to Jerusalem.

At the ceremony, Netanyahu addressed the recent normalization agreements between Israel and the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, along with the commitment from Sudan. The normalization agreements have included regular flights between Tel Aviv and Dubai, cooperation in science and technology and economic ties.

Netanyahu also noted International Day for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, suggesting that more work needs to be done to increase and help them integrate better into society.

The prime minister further announced grants for discharged soldiers, and particularly individual soldiers, since they are not entitled to unemployment benefits.





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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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