Tuesday, December 01, 2020

From Ian:

Jonathan Tobin: Will Biden get the message he was just sent on Iran?
The Iranian regime has already repeatedly demonstrated that its goals are incompatible with those of Western fools, either in the United States or Europe, who think that diplomacy can somehow accommodate its ambitions. Iran’s use of terror, its nuclear ambitions are, like its ruthless and brutal suppression of dissent at home, integral to the identity of the Islamist government. Efforts to appease them like the nuclear pact are unsatisfactory and temporary solutions to a problem that requires a more realistic long-term approach.

It’s equally true that Iran’s leaders have also shown that, despite their bluster, the talk about waging war on Israel or the West is more of a bluff than a credible threat. While that could theoretically change, the talk of so-called experts on Iran about a conflict between “hardliners” and Tehran liberals is, like so much of the analysis of the Soviet Union a generation ago, utterly bogus.

That means that the problem facing Biden is not how to undo Trump’s withdrawal from the nuclear deal or to make a new Middle East where Israel and the Gulf states are working in unison to accept a return of Iran appeasement. Rather, it’s how long it will take his new foreign-policy team to understand that the Obama vision for a housetrained Iran that would do business with the West was never realistic and, even with the support of Europe, Russia and China, can’t be revived. If they’re serious about crafting an Iran policy that is anything more than an Obama nostalgia tour, they must acknowledge that the nuclear deal—whose sunset clauses ensured that Iran would eventually get a bomb and which ignored its terrorism and missile building—must be scrapped sooner or later.

The information about Iran’s nuclear problem that Israel published two years ago—showing they never really stopped working for a weapon, along with every act of terrorism and illegal missile-building they commit—contradicts the Obama-Biden hopes for curtailing, let alone ending the threat from the regime.

Former Secretary of State and future Biden climate change tsar John Kerry may have advised Iran to simply wait until a Democratic administration replaced Trump to resume good relations with the West. But even if Tehran is cheered by Trump’s defeat, they aren’t going to conform to Biden’s will any more than they did to Obama’s. Their violent and aggressive goals remain unchanged, and nothing short of the kind of economic isolation that Trump was seeking to impose will force them to change their behavior, if, indeed, even that would suffice.

As important as the transition to a new administration in Washington is, it changes nothing about Iran or its intentions or the responsibility of those who rightly understand the nature of the threat to act. As they showed with the assassination and with its strikes against Iranian targets in Syria, Israel won’t simply sit back and let Iran have its way. The only question about Biden’s policy is whether he will join that fight as Trump did, or if he will stand on the sidelines as the Jewish state continues to do the West’s dirty work.
Eli Lake: On the Iran Nuclear Deal, Israel Gets a Vote
In this sense, it’s mistaken to view Israel’s likely strike against Fakhrizadeh through the lens of its effect on President-elect Joe Biden’s goal of re-entering the Iran nuclear deal and negotiating a stronger follow-on agreement. Israel has already proved it has extraordinary intelligence capabilities inside Iran. But the opportunity to take out a high-value target such as Fakhrizadeh does not come along often. It’s more likely that the opportunity presented itself and Israel pounced.

More important, Israel has showed in the last three years that it is willing to use its intelligence capabilities to stymie Iran’s nuclear program. Israel killed some nuclear scientists inside Iran during negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program. Back then, most observers believed that Israel’s only chance to destroy Iran’s nuclear infrastructure was an overt action, such as a missile strike, drone attack or bombing run. The explosions at Iranian sites over the summer suggest Israel can accomplish much of this task through intelligence operations.

The upshot is that any future deal with Iran will have to address Israel’s security needs. That is not what happened five years ago. The tensions of the nuclear deal became so dramatic that in 2015, Netanyahu addressed a joint session of Congress to make the case against the deal Obama was negotiating. Netanyahu was willing to risk Israel’s most important alliance to oppose a deal that he believed imperiled his country’s future. So it’s highly unlikely that Israel would be willing to end its activities in Iran so the U.S. can rejoin that same deeply flawed nuclear agreement.

Israel may agree not to launch any strikes for a time, such as the first few months of the Biden administration. But it won’t give up the capability to strike inside Iran unless Iran agrees to abandon the aspects of its nuclear program suitable for building bombs. If Biden is smart, he will use this dynamic to his advantage as he tests Iran’s willingness to negotiate.

Israel’s sabotage and assassinations have not destroyed Iran’s nuclear program. But they have set it back. As the architect of that program, Fakhrizadeh will be hard to replace. What will be even harder for the regime, however, is persuading its other scientists that they will be safe if they continue the quest for a nuclear weapon.
Melanie Phillips: The warped reaction to the Fakhrizadeh assassination
Iran declared war against the west decades ago, and has committed numerous attacks and sponsored repeated acts of murderous terrorism against America, coalition forces in Iraq, Israel and diaspora Jews. Yet the western establishment, which has perversely refused to defend its interests against such attacks, continues to behave as if Iran is not responsible and that only a western military response would be an act of war.

Progressives say the regime will be contained by reaching out to it in negotiation. Once again, this is an example of the west’s ineffable arrogance in assuming that its own value-system is shared by the rest of the world. To the Iranian regime, attempts to negotiate are a sign of weakness and thus an incentive to further aggression. When the west extends its hand in conciliation, the regime views it as an opportunity to chop it off.

No-one in their right mind could be sanguine about the prospect of an all-out war with Iran. Equally, no-one in their right mind should be sanguine about enabling it to produce a nuclear bomb.

The assassination of Fakhrizadeh, along with all the other measures Israel and its allies have taken against the regime, shows how asymmetric warfare (or warfare by terrorists or rogue states outside the rules of war) need not mean that the bad guys always win. All it needs is the moral will to defend the free world against this novel form of aggressive warfare through novel ways of waging a just war.

Israel and the Trump administration possess that moral will. Obama and his retreads, along with the craven Europeans, do not.

Seth Frantzman: Turkey’s Hamas-supporting regime is seeking to use Israel again - analysis
Oddly, the denial of the Armenian Genocide didn’t actually bring Israel and Turkey closer; instead, Turkey accused Israel of being like the Nazis. So all the work of denying genocide, got Israel accused of genocide. This time when Turkey wanted to support an attack on Armenians, it wasn’t genocide denial that was pushed in DC but rather a whisper campaign claiming Armenia is allied to Iran, which it is not. Armenians were driven from their homes, and Turkey now wants to be back in favor in Jerusalem – to get back in favor in DC.

IT’S UNCLEAR if Israel will once again go to bat for Turkey, ignoring the support for Hamas, whose terrorism has killed and wounded thousands of Israelis. Israel may find that not so far in the future, once Ankara gets what it wants, it will again focus its sights on Jerusalem.

In the past, Israel and pro-Israel voices in the US who supported Ankara never asked for anything in return. This has always been where things lack clarity with Turkey. While Russia and Iran are greeted with smiles in Ankara and trade booms, weapons flow and Hamas and Islamic Jihad can toast each other in Turkish cafes, Israel is not officially welcome – and never gets anything in return for these various outreach efforts. In the past Turkey used this to try to sabotage Israel’s relations with Greece, the UAE and other states. It’s unclear if Israel is now prepared to be a tool for Ankara’s far-right government again.

Turkey is also maneuvering to do new outreach to Saudi Arabia and has toned down rhetoric against Greece. Its government knows that – while no human rights groups will do anything about the continued ethnic cleansing and occupation of Afrin – NATO countries such as France and the US are getting tired of weekly crises involving Ankara and the aggression and wars Turkey has embarked upon, destabilizing Syria, Libya, the Caucasus and other states.
Macron’s Turkish Gambit
An especially notable example of cooperation is taking shape in Lebanon, where Macron is teaming up with the Russians and the Italians to develop Lebanese gas resources. Through this Lebanese project, Macron surely aims to rope Italy into his emerging Mediterranean bloc. But in the process, he is also transforming France and Italy into the de facto partners of Iran, through its proxy Hezbollah, which dominates the Lebanese political system.

No wonder then, that France has repeatedly rejected American and Israeli calls to ban Hezbollah from France and from the EU more broadly. France’s budding economic partnership with Russia and Iran thus prevents Macron, the would-be opponent of Islamism, from challenging an Islamist terror group that has 150,000 rockets and missiles trained on Israeli population centers, and that has a long history of drug smuggling in Europe, to name just two of its many unappetizing qualities.

This koshering of Tehran and Moscow fits hand in glove with Macron’s strategy of building a Mediterranean coalition. Historically, Russia and Iran have found the countries of Southern Europe among the most welcoming of them, economically, and the least threatened by them, militarily. Nor is the koshering entirely objectionable to Germany. True, Berlin does not agree with Macron’s proposal to dismantle NATO, but it is a strong advocate of economic intercourse with Tehran and Moscow, which the Trump administration has stymied through its “maximum pressure” campaign on Iran, and its efforts to block the construction of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, an $11 billion infrastructure project that would bring Russian natural gas directly to Germany.

In return for tolerating some of France’s more unrealistic defense concepts, Germany therefore receives French support for economic engagement of Russia and Iran. The net effect of this dynamic is to pull Europe, as a whole, further away from the United States—and toward Russia and Iran.

At first blush, Macron’s ideas appear to offer answers for the West to difficult and unfamiliar problems that have arisen very rapidly. But this appearance is an illusion. While France was a great power in the past, and it has retained the facility to impersonate one in the present, it is in fact a medium-size power pursuing parochial interests.

Macron’s strategy may turn out to be a boon to his personal political career, and beneficial for France, but it should alarm the United States. On the roster of American adversaries, only China outranks Russia and Iran—and all three powers have shown the ability and inclination at times to work in concert. Any idea that undermines the containment of them is a bad idea. Any strategy that aims to weaken or dismantle NATO is even worse. Any strategy that in the long term pulls Europe toward Russia, Iran, and China and away from the United States threatens disaster for the West.

Despite what Erdoğan says, Macron’s mental health appears to be perfectly sound. The same cannot be said, however, of the Americans who follow his lead. Macron makes a show of attacking Turkey, but the American-led order in Europe is his true target.
Israeli diplomat: Our alliance with Gulf divides Middle East into two camps
The signing of the groundbreaking Abraham Accords has signified a demarcation of sorts in the Middle East dividing the region into two camps - one of modernization and one of terror - Israel's Acting Consul in New York said on Sunday.

"The Abraham Accords carries geostrategic importance," Israel Nitzan, who recently assumed the role from former Consul General Dani Dayan, said. "It is an agreement that is already drawing clear lines between two camps in our region - between the camp of pragmatism and peace, stability - in which you find the UAE, Israel, Bahrain. And the other camp, of course, is the camp of radicalism and war and instability led by Iran, Syria and Hamas."

Speaking at a panel discussion hosted by the Jewish Community Relations Council, Nitzan delivered his remarks alongside his counterpart in the United Arab Emirates, Abdalla Shaheen.

Nitzan added that the Abraham Accords has the potential to change the entire dynamic in the Middle East, including the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

"This agreement also gives Palestinians the opportunity to change their behavior and to adopt a more pragmatic and less rejectionist attitude and join this regional process. This is a paradigm shift and we hope our pro-Palestinian neighbors will want to join this camp," he added, continuing his two camps metaphor.
Israel must speak to Biden with a clear voice on future Iran negotiations
With President-elect Joe Biden's victory, the United States is widely expected to re-enter negotiations with Iran. In advance of the election, some advisers to Biden circulated a white paper exploring a return to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the flawed 2015 nuclear deal.

One controversial option was a return to the interim 2013 deal, the Joint Plan of Action, which yielded Iran hundreds of millions of dollars as a show of good faith. Israel is understandably concerned by the possibility of going back to a process that yielded sanctions relief and other concessions far too beneficial for Iran, as far as Israelis were concerned.

Faced with this challenge, Israel must demonstrate internal unity. This begins with discipline in speaking with the press. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu can enforce this with a directive for officials speaking on or off the record, with reporters or in official meetings.

Such a directive should have the support of Netanyahu’s coalition partners, including Defense Minister Benny Gantz and Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi, and be enforced across the rest of the Israeli bureaucracy dealing with the Iran file. This was the way the Israeli expert team worked with the six world powers involved in negotiating the JCPOA. The Israeli team, under clear instructions, explained to the negotiators their concerns while trying to mitigate the JCPOA’s mistakes and improve the flawed deal on the margins.

Such a unified message should also be crafted with Israel’s new peace partners in the Middle East. The United Arab Emirates and Bahrain harbor similar concerns about Iran. Israel must coordinate closely with them and perhaps other governments, such as the Saudis, to speak with one voice. The concerns of America’s regional partners were ignored last time. They should not be ignored again.
JCPA: Khamenei’s Hard-Line – Even before the Killing of Brig.-Gen. Mohsen Fakhrizadeh
During the interregnum before a new administration takes office, Iranians have heard from American commentators that new negotiations with Iran are considered. Several of Iran’s “moderate” political leaders, such as President Hassan Rouhani and Foreign Minister Javid Zarif, have suggested resuming dialogue with U.S. officials. Note, however, Rouhani’s term as president ends in June 2021.3

As expressed by Khamenei, however, Iran continues to hold its rigid positions regarding the sanctions and negotiations related to the nuclear deal.

Referring to the nuclear deal, the Iranian Supreme Leader said that the situation after the elections in the United States is not clear yet. He also referred to the hesitation and stuttering of Germany, France, and Britain (the EU3) and their anti-Iranian positions. “The Europeans are constantly taking stances against Iran,” Khamenei complained. “While they are making the most improper interferences in the region’s issues, they tell us not to interfere in the region. Furthermore, while France and Britain possess destructive nuclear missiles and Germany is moving in this direction, they tell us not to possess missiles.”

Khamenei said that the best way to fight sanctions is to remove or repeal them: “We have tried to remove the sanctions through negotiations in the past but without any results. The second option can be challenging at first, but the end results will be to our advantage.”

Khamenei emphasized that it is vital to work in four central directions to improve the economic situation and the well-being of the Iranian people.4 Iran has to resolve the budget deficit problem, increase investment in the country, encourage a surge in production, and support the underprivileged classes in Iranian society, which in recent years have been facing considerable pressure due to the rising inflation and an economic recession, exacerbated by the Covid-19.

Chief Iranian nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh assassinated near Tehran
How will Iran respond to the assassination?

Like the killing of IRGC Quds Force’s chief Qasem Soleimani earlier this year, Iran will likely respond to the assassination of its top nuclear scientist.

There are several fronts Iran can act on against Israel and its interests across the globe.

Possibilities range from attacks against Israel emanating from Syria, Lebanon and Gaza to strikes against Israeli embassies including citizens in locations considered as ‘soft targets’.

Iran has been linked to assaults against Israeli embassies and citizens numerous times over the past decades. Attacks such as the Burgas bus bombing, a failed bombing to kill an Israeli diplomat in Bangkok, and a thwarted assassination plot to kill an Israeli ambassador in Azerbaijan – all which occurred in 2012 – have been attributed to Iran and its proxies.

Similar to the assassinations of Iranian scientists in the early 2010s, it is likely Israel is eliminating what it perceives as an existential threat to its country as well as sending a message that it has the capability to reach those — regardless of their location — who continue malign activity against its security.
Air Strike Kills IRGC Commander at Iraq-Syria Border
An air strike killed a commander of Iran‘s Revolutionary Guards at the Iraq-Syria border sometime between Saturday and Sunday, Iraqi security and local militia officials said on Monday.

They could not confirm the identity of the commander, who they said was killed alongside three other men traveling in a vehicle with him.

The vehicle was carrying weapons across the Iraqi border and was hit after it had entered Syrian territory, two Iraqi security officials separately said.

Iran-backed Iraqi paramilitary groups helped retrieve the bodies, the two officials said, without elaborating or giving the exact time of the incident.

Local military and militia sources confirmed the account, although Reuters was unable to verify independently that an Iranian commander had been killed.

The incident came just days after Iranian nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh was assassinated in Tehran in a killing that Iran has blamed on Israel.

Top Sanders Aide Accuses Israel of Terrorism
A top aide to Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) accused Israel of terrorism following the assassination of an Iranian nuclear scientist and military official believed to be instrumental in Tehran's nuclear weapons program.

Matt Duss, a Sanders foreign policy adviser and frequent critic of Israel and Jews, wrote on Twitter that incoming president Joe Biden should reenter the landmark nuclear deal with Iran and offer it billions of dollars in sanctions relief to send a message to Israel that "terrorism doesn't work."

Duss's Monday morning tweet came shortly after the assassination of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, who helmed the Islamic Republic's nuclear research, including its work on an atomic weapon. While no one has publicly claimed responsibility for the strike, it is widely believed Israel orchestrated the killing.

"Responding to the Fakhrizadeh assassination by reaffirming the commitment to rejoin the JCPOA would be a good way to send the message that terrorism doesn't work," Duss tweeted, referring to the nuclear deal by its acronym. Duss's voice is one of many on the left pressuring the Biden administration to take a softer approach to Iran in service of renewing diplomacy. His commentary was criticized by regional experts who said Fakhrizadeh was a legitimate military target due to his role in the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), Iran's paramilitary fighting force, and efforts to procure illicit nuclear technology.

Obama admin officials criticize the killing of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh
Former deputy national security advisor Ben Rhodes blasted the Fakhrizadeh killing on Friday, calling it “an outrageous action aimed at undermining diplomacy between an incoming U.S. administration and Iran.” Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) suggested that “this assassination does not make America, Israel or the world safer.”

Asked if former Obama officials should be critiquing moves made during the transition given the Obama administration’s 2016 decision not to veto a resolution at the U.N. criticizing Israel during the transition period, former U.S. Mideast envoy Dennis Ross told JI: “No one gets an absolute pass to do whatever they want during the transition. So criticism is fair — just as criticism of the Obama administration’s abstention on the UNSC resolution was warranted.”

Ross, a distinguished fellow at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy who served in the Carter, Reagan, George W. Bush and Obama administrations, maintained that “such an operation takes extensive planning, having operatives on the ground, actionable intelligence. It can’t be spur of the moment.” Ross added in an email that “if one wants to debate the logic of doing these kind[s] of targeted killings, that is totally appropriate. But saying this was done to derail what a Biden Administration will do simply ignores the reality of how these operations take place.”

Mark Dubowitz, CEO of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, told JI that Fakhrizadeh “didn’t just appear at the top of the Mossad target list because Joe Biden got elected. This operation would have occurred regardless of the U.S. election results because he was a first order threat to the survival and security of the state of Israel.”

Dov Zakheim, former undersecretary of defense from 2001-2004, suggested that a Biden administration would continue intelligence cooperation with Israel and support covert action against Iran. “After all is said and done, if the Israelis can cooperate with Arab countries on intelligence years before they even informally were public about it, then why shouldn’t the U.S. cooperate with Israel on intelligence when it’s in their mutual interest?” he explained in a recent interview with JI.

New York Times columnist Tom Friedman writes that as Biden tries to navigate his way back into the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, he will face greater resistance from a coalition comprised of Israel, Saudi Arabia and the UAE if he fails to build upon the Trump administration’s current leverage to ensure a more comprehensive agreement that addresses shortfalls in the original deal, including restrictions on ballistic missiles and Iran’s expansive terror network.
Max Baucus: Israel’s Assassination of Iran’s Nuclear Mastermind Is Evidence of ‘Nefarious Ulterior Motive’
Following the assassination of Iran’s top nuclear scientist, Barack Obama's former China ambassador Max Baucus on Monday accused Israel of having "nefarious" motives in the Middle East.

On Fox News's Bill Hemmer Reports, Baucus said Israel likely assassinated Iranian nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh in order to sabotage President-elect Joe Biden's ability to reenter the Iran Nuclear Deal, which President Donald Trump pulled out of in 2018.

"[Israel's] nefarious ulterior motive is to complicate matters in the Mideast and make things difficult for Biden to try to reenter the Iran nuclear accord," Baucus said.

Baucus, a former Montana senator who endorsed Biden for president, served as ambassador to China from 2014 to 2017. After Trump took office, Baucus drew attention for giving interviews on Chinese propaganda networks in which he praised China and compared Trump to Hitler.

On Monday Baucus also downplayed the importance of the landmark peace deals between Israel and Arab states over the past six months, which Israel's critics in the Obama administration had declared impossible unless Israel made peace with the Palestinians.

New York Times mocked for echoing Iranian talking point: ‘Carrying water for Iran’
The New York Times was accused of “carrying water for Iran” over the weekend for echoing the nation’s talking point that its “nuclear ambitions are for peaceful purposes” after the leader of Tehran’s military nuclear program was killed in a shooting.

State TV on Friday cited sources confirming the death of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, who was dubbed the leader of Tehran’s military nuclear program until it was ended in the early 2000s.

“Iranian officials, who have always maintained that their nuclear ambitions are for peaceful purposes, not weapons, expressed fury and vowed revenge over the assassination, calling it an act of terrorism and warmongering,” the New York Times World tweeted from its verified account to accompany an article headlined “Gunmen Assassinate Iran’s Top Nuclear Scientist in Ambush, Provoking New Crisis.”

The tweet was quickly ridiculed, and human rights lawyer Arsen Ostrovsky responded, “NY Times, ‘Paper of Record’ for ... the #Iran regime.”

Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark. -- who caused chaos inside the paper earlier this year when he penned an op-ed that offended liberals -- slammed the Times as propaganda.

“What was once the self-styled newspaper of record is now just a well-funded left-wing blog, relentlessly hostile to America and Israel, and always ready to propagandize for their enemies,” Cotton wrote.
The New York Times Publicizes Iranian Propaganda ‘Protests’ Without Disclosing Regime Role
Did the New York Times mislead its readers by falling for an Iranian propaganda stunt?

It sure looks that way.

The Times blunder began on page one of the Saturday, November 28 New York Times, with a first-day news article under four bylines: David Sanger, Eric Schmitt, Farnaz Fassihi, and Ronen Bergman. The news article, headlined “Top Iranian Scientist for Nuclear Program Is Killed in an Attack,” reported in part, “Protests erupted outside government buildings in Tehran to demand revenge, much as they did after the Jan. 3 attack that killed Qassim Suleimani, the Iranian major general who ran the elite Quds force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps.”

That such protests could simply “erupt,” in a country as lacking in political freedom as Iran, struck me as strange.

Sure enough, the Wall Street Journal’s coverage of the same story suggested strongly that the “protests” had been organized by the Iranian government. Here is how the Journal put it in its news article: “Dozens of people gathered Friday evening in what appeared to be a state organized protest outside Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, during a nationwide coronavirus curfew, chanting against negotiations with the U.S. and demanding the expulsion of United Nations nuclear inspectors in retaliation for the killing.”

Other non-New York Times news outlets also made clear that activities like what the Times has described as “protest” were actually Iranian-government-sponsored rallies.

Seth Frantzman: Mizrahi, Sephardi traditions open doors to Middle East peace
Jerusalem Deputy Mayor Fleur Hassan-Nahoum has been a key figure behind the rapidly growing ties between Israel and the Gulf, particularly the United Arab Emirates. A co-founder of the UAE-Israel Business Council, she has been hosting delegations and speaking about the peace agreement known as the Abraham Accords, every day. She and a small group of others in the UAE, Israel and the region have also been speaking about how the Mizrahi and Sephardi heritage of Jews is a key to peace building and erecting bridges throughout the region.

She is part of a group of public figures and donors who want to establish a museum about Jews from Arab and Muslim lands. Ashley Perry has been campaigning for years for more recognition and commemoration of the heritage of Jews from the region. He is now CEO of the Heritage Center for Middle East and North Africa Jewry. “The idea is a center chronicling the history of Mizrahi Jewry,” he explained.

One thing he pointed to is that in wake of the Abraham Accords, it is important to note that the “majority of Israelis come from the Middle East, and their grandparents spoke Arabic and knew the mentality and culture, and they should be a natural bridge for peace and reconciliation.”

Perry helped draft the law for commemorating this community and has worked for government support that led to recommending building a museum and heritage center.
Will Biden tolerate ‘pay for slay?’
I’m sure it was just a coincidence that a former Obama administration official who is now with a Washington think tank, David Makovsky, told The Jerusalem Post last week that “the Palestinians would be smart [to adopt] a compromise plan that would allow for a welfare system that would avoid giving money” based on terrorism, but instead would be based on financial needs.

That’s not a “compromise.” It’s not a genuine “welfare system.” It’s a trick. And it’s the most contemptible kind of trick—the kind that is performed openly, right before our eyes, as if we’re all too stupid to realize what they’re doing.

It’s easy enough to imagine how it will proceed. An official of the P.A.’s Ministry of Prisoner Affairs will stamp a piece of paper that says, “You are hereby given X amount of money based on our determination of your financial need.” The amount of money given to each family of a terrorist will be the same as before, only it will come with the piece of paper that —presto!— certifies the money is now being given for “financial need.”

The great irony is that the “peace” activists who are trying to get American money to the P.A. in this fashion are actually undermining peace, not advancing it. The only hope for a real peace is to wean Palestinian Arab society away from its glorification of terrorism. Through whatever financial or other pressure is available, we need to force the P.A. to stop paying terrorists, stop naming schools and streets after terrorists, and stop using their media to portray terrorists as heroes.

The Palestinians need to genuinely recognize that terrorism is morally wrong and expunge their terrorists from their society—just as the Allies compelled the German people, after World War II, to recognize that Nazism was evil and to expunge it from their society. Sticking to the Taylor Force Act is one way to advance that goal. Helping them trick their way around it will only encourage terrorism and prolong the Arab-Israeli conflict.
Sisi: Egypt supports resumption of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said on Monday that Egypt supports the resumption of the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians.

Sisi, who was speaking during a meeting in Cairo with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, said “the current stage requires solidarity and intensification of all Arab efforts to resume the peace process.”

Bassam Radi, spokesman of the Egyptian Presidency, quoted Sisi as saying the Palestinian issue “will remain a priority in Egyptian politics.” Sisi, he added, “stressed the firmness of the Egyptian position toward the Palestinian issue and Egypt’s full support for Palestinian positions and choices to reach a political settlement” with Israel.

Sisi also confirmed Egypt’s continued efforts “to the restoration of the Palestinian people’s legitimate rights in accordance with international resolution,” Radi said.
Bahrain FM calls on US to continue pressure on Iran
The international community must not relent in pressuring Iran to behave more responsibly, Bahrain Foreign Minister Abdullatif Al Zayani said at the opening of the first Bahrain-US Strategic Dialogue on Tuesday.

“We want our partnership with the US to be an integral part of this process, in exposing the ongoing challenges of the theocratic [Iranian] regime and its proxies, but also ensuring Bahrain and other regional allies continue to have the capabilities to effectively protect their people against such threats,” Al Zayani said.

The comments came less than two months before US President-elect Joe Biden takes office. Biden has said he seeks to return to the 2015 Iran deal, which would have allowed the Islamic Republic to develop a nuclear weapon in 2030, with changes to make it more effective.

US President Donald Trump left the Iran Deal in 2018 and has engaged in a “maximum pressure” campaign of increasing sanctions on the ayatollahs’ regime.

Iran is “seeking to undermine Middle East stability,” and its “malign intent and activities are more blatant than ever,” Al Zayani said, mentioning Tehran’s nuclear program, ballistic missile development and involvement in conflicts throughout the region.
Slovenia becomes 6th EU member to declare Hezbollah a terrorist group
The government of Slovenia has decided to declare Hezbollah a terrorist organization, Israel's Foreign Ministry reported Monday. In its decision, Slovenia joins Austria, Germany, and Switzerland who have recently made similar declarations regarding the terrorist organization.

The Slovenian government's decision is another step in the Foreign Ministry's efforts to increase international pressure on Hezbollah. The ministry is leading an inter-agency effort to increase international pressure on the terrorist group, and in the last year and a half, 16 countries have joined the list of countries that recognize Hezbollah and all its branches as a terrorist organization. Of these, nine countries did so in the last six months.

With its decision, Slovenia becomes the sixth European Union member after the Netherlands, Germany, Lithuania, Estonia, and Latvia to recognize the Iranian-sponsored Hezbollah as a terrorist organization.

"I welcome the decision of the government of Slovenia to recognize all branches of Hezbollah as a terrorist organization. This decision joins similar decisions made in recent months by governments in Europe and Latin America. Hezbollah first and foremost harms the citizens of Lebanon itself and holds them hostage in the service of Iranian interests," Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi said.
Activists and Experts Demand German Transparency on UNRWA Support
The Jerusalem-based Center for Near East Policy Research held a Zoom seminar this week in order to share research about the prevalence of anti-Israel hate education as an official part of the curriculum within Arab schools for children of all ages in the Gaza Strip, Judea and Samaria, and Jerusalem being run by the UN Relief and Works Agency’s (UNRWA).

The audience for the information session, delivered mainly in German, was journalists, influencers and policymakers throughout Germany, as that country is currently UNRWA’s top donor nation, contributing nearly $170 million in 2019.

Germany stepped into that role following the Trump administration’s decision that the United States would stop funding UNRWA after a $60 million pledge was fulfilled in January 2018. A US State Department press statement in August of 2018 indicated that “the United States was no longer willing to shoulder the very disproportionate share of the burden of UNRWA’s costs that we had assumed for many years.”

The statement cited UNRWA’s “business model and fiscal practices that have marked UNRWA for years” as being “unsustainable” while taking UNRWA to task for “endlessly and exponentially expanding community of entitled beneficiaries.”

Author, journalist and publicist Alex Feuerherdt, co-author of “Vereinte Nationen gegen Israel. Wie die UNO den jüdischen Staat delegitimiert“ (“United Nations against Israel: How the UN Delegitimizes the Jewish State”), told JNS that his aim was to find ways “to pressure the German government, which just hands money to UNRWA” without demanding transparency. “There are no conditions connected to this funding!” he said emphatically.

Appeal opens against reversal of Briton’s conviction in Daniel Pearl killing
An appeal against the controversial acquittal of a British-born man convicted of murdering American journalist Daniel Pearl opened at a Pakistani court on Tuesday.

A Karachi court sparked outrage earlier this year when it overturned the 2002 murder conviction of Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, and acquitted three other men connected to the case.

Pearl’s parents and prosecutors lodged an appeal at Pakistan’s Supreme Court in May, putting the release of the four men on hold.

“The case has finally opened, it will be decided whether they should be convicted or acquitted. The case is heading to a final verdict,” Faisal Siddiqui, the lawyer representing Pearl’s parents, told AFP.

The appeal, which has been repeatedly postponed in recent months, will hear opening arguments in the capital Islamabad on Wednesday.

Sheikh had been on death row for Pearl’s murder but was acquitted in April by the Sindh High Court which instead sentenced him to seven years for kidnapping — paving the way for him to walk free after already serving 18 years.
Seth Frantzman: ‘Mosul’ movie finally brings Iraq’s war on ISIS to the screen
Half way through the film Mosul I found myself looking at my phone. This wasn’t because I was bored. It was because I wanted to find a photo of burned cars piled on top of one another.

The film had captured the alleyways of the old city of Mosul on the western bank of the Tigris River, sometimes called the ‘right’ side because it is on your right hand if you go downstream. The scenes were so accurate that I wanted to compare them to something I had seen in late March 2017 when I was in the battle for Mosul with Iraq’s Federal Police units. Sure enough, I found the burned cars and it looked almost identical to the scene in the film.

Mosul, on Netflix, was produced by Anthony and Joe Russo and directed by Matthew Michael Carnahan. It follows an Iraqi policeman who is suddenly press-ganged into an elite Nineveh SWAT unit that is fighting against ISIS in the city. The cop, named Kawa, is actually of Kurdish origin, according to the script, and he was played by Tunisian actor Adam Bessa.

According to the story, the SWAT team is led by a man called Maj. Jasem, a kind of rogue zealot leading them on an impossible mission and showing no mercy to the ISIS genocidal terrorists. Some have complained that the film gives too much credit to this unit, making Iranian-backed militias out to be less capable, and making the Iraqi Federal Police appear to have less of a role.
PMW: Palestinian kids taught to identify as “refugees” about to “return” to Israeli cities
Palestinian children who were born decades after Israel’s establishment in 1948 and decades after the Oslo Accords peace agreement are being educated by the PA to envision themselves as residents of the cities “stolen by the Jews,” and as “refugees” temporarily living in the Palestinian territories. They are brought up to believe that in the future they will “liberate Palestine” and live in a world with no Israel.

This was made clear on a children’s program named A Child and a Refugee Camp on official PA TV. Palestinian kids were taught, through the words of a 12-year-old boy, to see themselves as suffering victims of “the Jews” - not “the Israelis” who were not mentioned at all. However, the children were taught that this is a state of temporary suffering only, because their “return” to “Palestine”- meaning all of Israel - is assured.

The 12-year-old boy was interviewed about his “yearning” for Lod – an Israeli city. He told the TV host that he dreams about the airport which was “Judaized and called Ben Gurion [Airport],” by what he calls “the occupation” - the Palestinian term for the entire State of Israel. Finally, the 12-year-old expressed his hope and confidence that “tomorrow” the Palestinians “will return and liberate Palestine”:

Couldn’t Happen to a Nicer Guy: Hamas Boss Yahya Sinwar Down with Covid-19
Hamas leader in the Gaza Strip Yahya Sinwar contracted the coronavirus and is in isolation, according to an official statement from Hamas. The statement also claims that Sinwar’s health is good and he continues his normal day’s work (plotting murderous attacks on Jews and cultivating his orchids – DI).

Abu Ali Express noted that in recent days quite a few members of Sinwar’s family have tested positive for the coronavirus.

Sinwar, 58, recovered from cancer while in an Israeli prison, before his release in the Gilad Shalit deal on October 18, 2011.

Gaza’s health authorities on Tuesday morning reported 815 new corona patients, based on about 2,500 tests performed. This is a stunning rate of infections per tests – 32.6%. In comparison, Israel’s Health Ministry reported Tuesday morning the diagnosis of 1,227 patients out of 57,428 – 2.14%, which is above the needed 1%, but almost nill compared with Gaza’s figures.

The number of active patients in the Gaza Strip reached 9,627 and the number of deaths 111, which, considering the published rates, suggests many positive patients remain unreported.

Iran MPs advance bill to stop UN nuclear inspections, step up enrichment
Iran’s parliament on Tuesday advanced a bill that would end UN inspections of its nuclear facilities and require the government to boost its uranium enrichment if European signatories to the 2015 nuclear deal do not provide relief from oil and banking sanctions.

The vote to debate the bill, which would need to pass through several other stages before becoming law, was a show of defiance after the killing of the alleged mastermind of Iran’s military nuclear program over the weekend.

The official IRNA news agency said 251 lawmakers in the 290-seat chamber voted in favor, after which many began chanting “Death to America!” and “Death to Israel!”

The bill would give European countries three months to ease sanctions on Iran’s key oil and gas sector, and to restore its access to the international banking system. The US imposed crippling sanctions on Iran after President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew from the nuclear agreement, triggering a series of escalations between the two sides.

The bill would have authorities resume enriching uranium to 20 percent, which is below the threshold needed for nuclear weapons but higher than that required for civilian applications. It would also commission new centrifuges at nuclear facilities at Natanz and the underground Fordo site.

The bill would require another parliamentary vote to pass, as well as approval by the Guardian Council, a constitutional watchdog.
European Allies Pushed Back When Trump Sanctioned Iran’s Banks, Letter Shows
Germany, France and Britain urged the Trump administration in late October to reconsider broad, new sanctions against Iran’s banks, arguing that the move would deter legitimate humanitarian trade and hurt the allies’ common interests, diplomatic correspondence shows.

Germany’s Bundesbank also kept a multi-billion-euro deposit facility open for Iranian banks, including two that faced fresh US sanctions, giving Tehran a much-needed banking lifeline at a time its access to the global financial system was largely cut off, according to central bank data and interviews with bankers, Western diplomats and officials.

The behind-the-scenes pushback to Washington and the extent of Germany’s support to Iranian trade in the face of US sanctions have not been previously reported, and shed new light on the divergent approaches to Iran taken by President Donald Trump and the US allies.

The letter came after the United States imposed sanctions on October 8 against 18 Iranian banks as part of a campaign to exert “maximum pressure” on Tehran. The order barred Americans further from dealing with the Iranian banks and extended secondary sanctions on foreign companies that did business with those lenders. For foreign banks, violations could mean losing access to the US market and raise the specter of hefty penalties, even although US sanctions, legally speaking, don’t apply in Europe and other jurisdictions.

In their joint letter, dated October 26, diplomats from the three European nations told Washington that the sanctions could make food and medicine “prohibitively expensive” for ordinary Iranians in the middle of the pandemic.

“The US has always said that its aim was to target the ruling elite and not the Iranian population,” according to the letter, a copy of which was seen by Reuters. “In our view it is important to uphold this undertaking in practice.”

Penguin Random House Staffers Beg Khamenei to Issue Fatwa Against Jordan Peterson Book (satire)
The employees made their request in an anonymous letter to the Ayatollah, suggesting that he also offer a bounty for anyone who killed Peterson.

“Your predecessor’s fatwa against Salman Rushdie was effective in destroying his marriage and forcing him to live under constant police surveillance,” the letter states. “But Mr. Peterson is even worse than Salman. He refuses to acknowledge his white privilege and does not list his preferred pronouns in his Twitter bio. If that is not blasphemy, then the word has no meaning.”

The letter comes after employees first tried to pressure Penguin Random House to cancel the book’s publication. Dozens of employees have submitted anonymous complaints, with several breaking down in tears during a town hall about the book.

“We tried to do this the professional way – by demanding he be cancelled and lose his book deal and then crying hysterically when we were told no,” one of the letter writers told The Mideast Beast. “Now, we have no choice but to try to get him killed.”

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Elder of Ziyon - حـكـيـم صـهـيـون

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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