Tuesday, January 26, 2021

From Ian:

Daniel Pipes: The Israel lobby is good for America
Israelis and Palestinians each call on the enthusiastic support of a great hinterland. Israelis have the Jewish diaspora, especially its rich and powerful leaders, from Chaim Weizmann to Sheldon Adelson, as well as a worldwide network of Christian supporters, from Lord Palmerston and William Blackstone to Clark Clifford and Nikki Haley. In parallel part, Palestinians have counted on Arab, Muslim, European and Communist states such as, respectively, Egypt, Iran, Sweden and the Soviet Union, as well as growing support from the global left, exemplified by former British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn. Indeed, as Steven J. Rosen has shown, “the Arab road to Washington runs through Paris, London and Berlin.”

Through the past century, those hinterlands have grown and roughly balanced each other. Both came into existence during World War I, when British Zionists pressured their government to support a Jewish national home in Palestine, as Arab leaders extracted promises from Britain about Palestine before helping its war effort. During World War II, Western Jews and their allies applied desperate pressure on the British government to open immigration to Palestine for Jewish refugees, as Arab rulers threatened to sabotage Britain’s war efforts if it permitted that immigration.

After the war, American Zionists moved to the forefront, as independent Arab states tripled in number. Zionists successfully lobbied President Harry S. Truman to recognize the State of Israel in 1948, as five Arab states invaded the nascent polity. Each side learned from the other: Israelis developed a powerful army, as Arabs won increasing clout in Western politics, media and education. Each side developed and refined techniques for extracting funds from its hinterland, whether the United Jewish Appeal or Saudi, Kuwaiti and other government donations.

Repeatedly, when Israel’s enemies attack, its American friends defend. Arab states boycotted U.S. firms invested in Israel; Israel’s friends won legislation making complying with such boycotts illegal. Arab states withheld oil supplies; Zionists pushed against capitulation to such pressure. Arab states rounded up overwhelming majorities in international organizations; Israel’s friends did likewise in Congress. Each hinterland fights for its cause. Each provides diplomatic support, financial aid and armaments.

In other words, American Zionists serve as a principal counterpart to anti-Zionist foreign states. The Zionists pressure Washington from within, the states do so from without. It’s a significant difference but ultimately a technical one.

Thus, the Israel lobby does not impede the formulation of an objective foreign policy but constructively offsets anti-Israel influence. Arguing for Israel is not just protected under the First Amendment and entirely legitimate, it informs and improves American policy formulation by countering foreign influences. The Israel lobby, therefore, is good for America.
IDF Cheif Kochavi: Return to Iran 2015 nuclear deal is strategic mistake
A return to the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, or a "slightly improved" deal would be a an operational and strategic mistake for the world, IDF Chief-of-Staff Lt. Gen. Aviv Kochavi warned on Tuesday

He said that Iran’s advance centrifuge progress and jumps in enriching uranium could eventually bring it to be "only weeks" away from a nuclear bomb.

The deal would still allow the Islamic Republic to break out to a nuclear weapon in 2030 when the agreement expires. The IDF chief said that the US and others must maintain all sanctions and pressure now as Tehran is at its weakest and closest to making real concessions.

In addition, he said that Israel’s strikes in Syria and other undefined parts of the Middle East had created the greatest deterrence Israel has ever known against its enemies.

Moreover, he said that the normalization trend is isolating Iran in ways that it never expected and was not prepared for.
UAE, Bahrain: We need ‘unified voice’ with Israel on Iran’s missiles, nukes
The Islamic Republic’s foreign minister warned last week that his country would not accept changes to the terms of the 2015 pact, which currently does not deal with Iran’s missile program or regional proxies.

“We must respond to Iran’s missile program,” Alzayani continued, “its support for proxies in the region, and its interference in the domestic affairs of states across the region, in order to bring about a broader peace and stability for the Middle East.”

The JCPOA was signed by Iran and six world powers known as the P5+1 in 2015. Then-president Trump unilaterally pulled the US out of the deal in 2018, opting instead for a “maximum pressure” sanctions effort.

One of the JCPOA’s “failures,” argued UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash on Tuesday, was the “absence of a regional voice therein.”

Iran drafted conditions for returning to compliance with the nuclear deal, one of which is that no new signatories — understood to mean Arab Gulf states — may be added to the agreement.

Since 2019, Tehran has suspended its compliance with most of the limits set by the agreement in response to Washington’s abandonment of sanctions relief and the failure of other parties to the deal to make up for it. It is now enriching uranium to 20 percent, just a short step away from weapons-grade levels.

Israel, UAE, and Bahrain all seek to dissuade the Biden administration from returning to the JCPOA in its original form.

Pompeo plan to declare rights groups ‘anti-Semitic’ over Israel stance shelved
An eleventh-hour initiative by the Trump administration to label as “anti-Semitic” international human rights groups deemed supportive of the BDS movement failed to materialize, a former US official confirmed on Monday.

The policy was announced by then-secretary of state Mike Pompeo during a visit to Israel less than two weeks after then-president Donald Trump was defeated by Joe Biden. The top US diplomat said he had directed his office’s special envoy to monitor and combat anti-Semitism, Elan Carr, to identify organizations that engage in or otherwise support, the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement.

According to Politico, the policy was meant to target several prominent organizations, including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and Oxfam, branding them “anti-Semitic” and ending American support for them.

But with just two months remaining in Trump’s presidency, Carr failed to submit the list directed by Pompeo in time. The special envoy, a Trump appointee, stepped down just before Biden took office.

In addition to the time crunch, the policy faced pushback from career diplomats in the State Department, who expressed serious concerns that it would limit free speech, a former US official said, confirming a Haaretz report.

The same aggressive policy is not expected to be pursued by the Biden administration.

MEMRI: Saudi Writer: "The Holy Land" and "The Blessed Land" Mentioned in the Quran Refer To Mecca and No Other Place
In an article in the Saudi daily 'Okaz, journalist Ahmed Sayed 'Atif writes that the terms "holy land" and "blessed land" mentioned in the Quran refer to Mecca and not to Jerusalem, Al-Aqsa, Syria, Iraq or any other place, as claimed by various Quranic commentators. The controversy over the meaning of these terms, he says, stems from the fact that many commentators did not look for the answer in the Quran itself but rather relied on Biblical sources. He presents numerous Quranic verses to show that the "blessed land" is Mecca, and explains that this city is blessed not because it is wealthy or fertile but because of its unique spiritual status.

It should be mentioned that this Saudi article is not the first of its kind. On November 13, 2020, 'Okaz published an article which suggested that the Al-Aqsa mosque mentioned in the Quran may not be located in Jerusalem but rather in the Arabian Peninsula.[1]

The following are translated excerpts from 'Atif's article: [2]
"There are many opinions as to the location of the 'Holy Land.' Some claim it is Syria, or Jericho, or Jerusalem and part of Jordan, [and others claim that it[ is in Syria and Iraq or that it necessarily [extends] from the Euphrates in Iraq to Al-Arish in Egypt. These differences of opinion regarding the meaning of the terms 'Blessed Land' and 'Holy Land' are natural, for the proponents [of the different opinions] do not rely on one constant source. These claims originate in the Torah, and subsequent claims have been based upon them, to this day.

"Perhaps the paradox is those various exegetes did not look for the meaning of the term 'Blessed Land' in the Quran itself, with the exception of [ninth century Persian scholar and Quranic exegete] Al-Tabari, who, quoting others, stated that only in verse [21:71] - 'Then We delivered him, along with Lot, to the land We had showered with blessings' - the term 'Blessed Land' refers to Mecca, and the evidence for this is in verse [3:96]: 'Indeed, the first House [of worship] established for mankind was that in Becca [i.e., Mecca] – [and it is] blessed.' However, neither Al-Tabari nor the others stuck to this opinion.
Intelligence Minister leads first official Israeli delegation to Sudan
Intelligence Minister Eli Cohen (Likud) on Monday became the first Israeli cabinet minister to visit Sudan. Cohen and Sudanese Defense Minister Yassin Ibrahim Yassin signed a memorandum of understanding on “diplomatic, security and economic matters,” Cohen’s spokesman said.

Cohen also met with the transitional head of state, Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, chairman of the Sovereignty Council of Sudan. “I am certain that this visit laid the foundations for important cooperation that will help Israel and Sudan and stabilize the region,” Cohen said.

He arrived in Khartoum with a delegation from the Intelligence Ministry and the National Security Council. They returned several hours later, before the government closed Ben-Gurion Airport to incoming and outgoing flights due to the coronavirus crisis.

Cohen expressed optimism that more countries in the region will follow Sudan and establish diplomatic relations with Israel.
Netanyahu working to arrange visit by King of Morocco before elections
The Prime Minister's Office and the National Security Council have been working with officials from the Dar al-Makhzen Palace in order to arrange a visit of Moroccan King Mohammed VI to Israel once the coronavirus lockdown is lifted, Yediot Aharonot reported. The king however, is reportedly conditioning his visit to Israel on visiting Ramallah and meeting with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas as well.

By arranging the visit of the king, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is reportedly trying to gain another victory in his campaign ahead of the general elections scheduled for March. By bringing over the King of Morocco, Netanyahu hopes to appeal to the large Jewish population in Israel that migrated from Morocco.

Efforts to arrange the king's visit were reported earlier this month, when Yediot reported that the Likud was planning on using the agreement with Morocco as a central aspect of the party's election campaign, noting that if successful, the event would have a strong effect on the Israeli public.

However, there is no guarantee that Netanyahu's plans will go as planned. Diplomatic sources have suggested that the king is aware of the attempt to use him as part of the Likud's election campaign and might refuse the offer.
Israel reopens mission to Morocco after 20 years
The Israeli Liaison Office in Morocco reopened on Tuesday when former ambassador to Egypt David Govrin arrived in Rabat. It had been closed for 20 years.

The Israeli Consulate in Dubai also opened, two days after the Israeli Embassy in the United Arab Emirates opened in Abu Dhabi, the capital. “The arrival of the heads of Israeli missions to Morocco and Dubai completes the first important phase of opening new Israeli missions in the region within the framework of the Abraham Accords,” Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi said.

In recent weeks, the number of Israeli missions in the Middle East was multiplied threefold, from two, in Amman and Cairo, to six, with the addition Bahrain, Morocco and two in the UAE, he said.

“This is living proof of the changes in the region and the warm peace between us and countries in the region,” Ashkenazi said. “This is an important day for peace and an exciting day in the framework of implementing agreements with the UAE and Morocco.”
From Iran, cleric tells Israel TV hostility between the two countries should end
In an unprecedented interview, a former senior Iranian cleric and current opposition figure spoke with an Israeli television news channel Monday night from Tehran, and called for an end to hostilities between the countries.

“It is time for the Iranian regime to stop inventing enemies that don’t exist,” the former ayatollah Abdol-Hamid Masoumi-Tehrani told Israel’s Channel 12 news.

Masoumi-Tehrani, who had the honor of the “ayatollah” title revoked by Tehran due to his disagreements with the regime, said he has “no problem” with the Jewish state.

He also derided the Islamic Republic’s frequent declarations of its intention to destroy Israel: “Don’t forget, these slogans were also said by [late former Iraqi leader] Saddam Hussein, and we know where he is today.”

Masoumi-Tehrani said the Islamic Republic is a dictatorship that stifles dissenting opinions and freedom of speech.

Asked if he feared for his life for speaking to an Israeli TV station, he told interviewer Ohad Hemo: “I have been speaking clearly for 20 years. If they don’t like that I’m talking to you or anyone else, it’s their problem.”
Emirati builds bridges of peace through business
In the most recent installment of Jewish National Fund-USA (JNF-USA) IsraelCast’s Abraham Accord Series, host Steven Shalowitz sat down with Thani Al-Shirawi to discuss what the Accords mean for both Israeli and Emirati communities.

The Deputy Managing Director of the Al-Shirawi Group and an innovative business leader within the Emirati community, Al-Shirawi spoke fondly of his interactions with Israelis throughout his life and optimistically considered the newfound capability to build bridges between the UAE and Israel in the business world.

He recounted his first interaction with Israeli dealers during a global marketing conference. He claims that the two countries were among the best dealers at the conference, and despite a sense of healthy competition, they freely exchanged best practices. It is apparent from his experience that businesses in Israel and the UAE do not view themselves as adversaries even before the official agreement, and the Abraham Accords allow for expansive opportunities both for business and friendship.

Al-Shirawi spoke to the importance of being a propagator of peace. He believes that the signing of the Abraham Accords is just the first step, and now it is the people’s turn to build the relationships and create a “new band of brothers.” He wants to turn talk into action through successful business partnerships, and he believes that others will follow suit.
Early results on Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine encouraging, says Israeli HMO
The preliminary results shared by Israeli HMO Maccabi showed that only 20 people out of some 128,600 who received both shots have since been infected with the COVID-19 virus.

Israel is a world leader with its rapid vaccine rollout, though the data also comes during a nationwide lockdown that has been helping to stem contagion. Israelis began receiving first shots of Pfizer’s vaccine on Dec. 19.

The country is providing Pfizer with weekly data updates on its vaccine campaign under a collaboration agreement that may help other countries fine-tune their own inoculation drives.

“According to Maccabi’s experts this is preliminary data but the numbers are very encouraging,” Maccabi said in a statement.

“Maccabi reports that out of the 20 people infected, 50% suffer from chronic illnesses. All patients experienced a mild illness with symptoms including headaches, cough, weakness or fatigue. No-one was hospitalized or suffered from a fever above 38.5C. Most patients tested for COVID-19 due to exposure to a verified patient,” it said.

Anat Ekka Zohar, Maccabi’s Information and Digital Health Division director, said “the fact that the infected patients came from different profiles is consistent with Pfizer’s trial results.”
900 Holocaust survivors died of COVID-19 in Israel in 2020
Seventeen thousand Holocaust survivors passed away in Israel in 2020, including 900 who succumbed to COVID-19, the Central Bureau of Statistics reported Tuesday.

Some 5,300 survivors were infected with the novel coronavirus during the year.

In December, there were 179,600 Holocaust survivors in Israel, and an additional 3,000 Israelis were recognized as being survivors of the Holocaust during 2020, the statistics bureau said.

About 60% of the survivors in Israel are women, and 64% are from Europe. All of the survivors are over the age of 75, and 17% are at least 90. Nearly 850 survivors are centenarians, two-thirds of whom are women.

The statistics bureau report was released to mark Holocaust Remembrance Day, which is this Wednesday.
Seth J. Frantzman: Israel reveals progress, challenges as it implements new war-fighting concept
The Israel Defense Forces are moving to sync capabilities and modify units as part of its new multiyear plan that envision a multidimensional battlefield, an IDF official said in a background briefing with Defense News.

Israel’s new concept is meant to prepare the country for these transformations so it is ahead of its peers in terms of fielding technology. As part of this approach, Israel conducted its first multilayered integrated air defense drill in December 2020, and local defense companies, such as Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, are incorporating more artificial intelligence and automatic target recognition capabilities into their platforms.

When Israel talks about multidimensional maneuvers on the battlefield, the official said, it looks at how other armed services, like the U.S. Marine Corps, use a vast array of platforms and assets, moving beyond the idea of infantry, armor, naval and air forces as separate services. This is the most significant change currently taking place with the IDF, the official explained, and with as conscript-based military, the country finds it challenging to maintain that type of interdisciplinary approach.

Israel’s military is not only made up of conscripts but also a large reserve force, and the IDF is seeking to train those personnel the same way it does new recruits using the new doctrine and the latest technology. The official said the focus is now on the individual soldier, modifying the war fighter’s training and use of technology.

This is not about training troops on how to better conquer a certain hill, the official added, but rather looking at how restraints and demands have changed on the battlefield as well as how recruits have changed in terms of their technological experience. One specific restraint is time because soldiers serve as conscripts for only several years.
Seth J. Frantzman: How Israel military tech (and doctrine) will make the UK better at fighting the hybrid warfare of the future
How Israel became a leader in defence technology is a long and complex story. Several decades ago Israel’s military was transitioning from the conventional wars it had waged against Egypt and Syria, and in Lebanon in 1982, to an army conducting counter-insurgency. This required new methods and intelligence to find and neutralise terrorists. However those policies, shaped by the Oslo Accords and withdrawal from Lebanon in May 2000, led to an army that was doing more police operations against rioters than it was doing major exercises. The Second Intifada and Operation Defensive Shield further pushed Israel to conduct counter-insurgency operations of the kind the US would be doing in Iraq after 2003.

Israel was shocked in 2006 when its army did not perform as well as it thought it would against Hezbollah in Lebanon. Rocket fire from Lebanon continued despite an air force campaign designed to crush Hezbollah and Israeli divisions that were sent into Lebanon reported that they had trouble communicating with neighbouring units and waging war effectively. Major reforms were enacted to change the culture of the IDF, changes that paid off in 2008 and 2009 during Operation Cast Lead in Gaza. A review of the changes noted that the Israeli ground forces had ‘undergone a major cultural change in terms of decisiveness, aggressiveness, commitment to the mission and willingness to accept casualties.’

The IDF increased training after 2006 and changed its doctrine, tossing out a confusing doctrine that soldiers had disliked in 2006, for a kind of ‘back to basics’ approach to conventional war. Israel’s warfighting has gone through a revolution in the last ten years since the operations in Gaza in 2009 and 2014. First of all, Israel built and successfully used the Iron Dome air defence system. Designed to stop unguided rocket fire from Gaza, the system now has increased its abilities to stop drones and other types of munitions. Israel has ramped up its other air defence layers, the David’s Sling and Arrow systems. Together they create an integrated forest of missiles that are designed to stop everything from massive Iranian ballistic missiles, to mortars. They can also hunt down small manoeuvring drones and cruise missiles, of the kind Iran used against Saudi Arabia in 2019.

This is important because air defence is changing how Israel wages war. Ten years ago Iron Dome had its first success. Since then it the system has downed thousands of rockets from Gaza and had a success rate beyond 90 per cent. Israeli radar systems, from Elta, also help identify the incoming munitions. This is key because detecting the threat is what helps guide the air defence system. Saudi Arabia never detected the Iranian cruise missile and drone attack in September, until after the weapons began impacting the Abqaiq facility. Israel has created a massive shield around the country to stop all manner of weapons. This has provided Israel the ability to hold-off on military operations as well. For instance in 2018 and 2019 when some 1,500 projectiles were fired from Gaza, Israel could wait and not launch a ground invasion. That means fewer casualties on both sides. Israel sought to use the breathing space from not fighting in Gaza to focus on Iran and threats from Iranian proxies in Syria and Lebanon. Since 2014, Israel has launched more than 1,000 airstrikes against Iranian elements in Syria.

The ramifications of all this for the UK are important because Israel’s changing doctrine has helped inform modern hi-tech western militaries. Israel’s successes and failures against terrorism have also informed militaries in the West. Where Israel has succeeded is in precision munitions, reducing casualties and improving defence systems. Besides Iron Dome, Israel’s Rafael Advanced Defense Systems also built the Trophy defense system for tanks. This has been sold to the US army and is now coating US tanks. Rafael also delivered two Iron Dome batteries to the US as the Americans consider how they might learn from Israel’s experience with short and medium range air defence. The US has also invested in this air defence, working with Israel on joint programs like Arrow and David’s Sling. This is a major change from the Gulf War thirty years ago when Israel needed the US Patriot system for defence against Saddam Hussein’s Scud missiles.

If there is a symbol of how Israel has changed it is that it has gone from a country seeking defence technology to an innovator supplying the technology around the world. In February Israeli companies will take part in Abu Dhabi’s IDEX defence confab for the first time, participation made possible by the Abraham Accords. The UK will likely be taking note of the kinds of technology on display as Israeli and British military personnel continue their legacy of close military cooperation.
IDF lone soldier from UK thwarts stabbing, Palestinian attacker killed
A lone IDF soldier from London helped thwart a stabbing attack against soldiers guarding the Gitit Avishar junction near the West Bank settlement of Ariel on Tuesday, in which the Palestinian perpetrator was killed.

Corporal "L." from the Home Front Command's Search and Rescue Unit currently on routine security activity in the West Bank, was at the junction along with her commander.

A Palestinian man attempted numerous times to stab her, but she thwarted his efforts, the IDF's Spokesperson Unit said.

"After I knocked him back with my weapon, he went back and forth between me and my commander, trying to stab us," L. said after the incident. "This is the kind of thing we prepare for during training, and we will always be prepared and ready to deal with it," she added.

PMW: PA: The Holocaust was Europe repaying Jews for their “wickedness”
Just in time for International Holocaust Remembrance Day tomorrow, the Palestinian ‎Authority stressed and repeated its antisemitic views on Jews. In a program on official ‎PA TV, the host taught viewers that the Holocaust was the price the Jews paid for their ‎evil behavior - their “conspiracies and wickedness”: ‎
Official PA TV host: “In this episode, whose title is “Hitler’s Rise to Power in ‎Germany,” we’ll talk about the very sensitive periods between 1929 and 1935. ‎This is the period in which Zionism was diminished and nearly ended and ‎disappeared… The preparations began leading to World War II in Europe, and ‎this is the period in which the Zionist movement paid the price for its ‎conspiracies and wickedness, there in the European states.”‎
[Official PA TV, From the Israeli Archive, Jan. 23, 2021]‎

The PA TV program From the Israeli Archive is currently broadcasting parts of an Israeli ‎documentary series from 1981, Pillar of Fire, misinterpreting - and even mistranslating ‎‎- the original narration so it presents a Palestinian and even antisemitic perspective. ‎The message that Jews' payment for their "wickedness" was the Holocaust was the PA TV host’s introduction to a segment from an episode about ‎the 1930s and Nazism’s rise to power. ‎

The host’s statement is consistent with PA Antisemitism that Palestinian Media Watch has ‎documented for years, including the PA's blaming ‎Jews for Antisemitism, among the other antisemitic messages it disseminates.‎

PA hate speech comes from the top of the PA leadership. It was PA Chairman Abbas ‎himself who explained that Europeans committed massacres against ‎Jews “every 10 to 15 years” for centuries culminating in the Holocaust in response to Jewish behavior. Abbas’ justification for Antisemitism was that “the ‎hatred of the Jews is not due to their religion, but, rather... due to their social role that ‎was connected to usury and banks and so forth.”‎

Abbas rival Dahlan banned from running in Palestinian election — Fatah official
Former Gaza security chief Mohammad Dahlan — widely seen as a key rival of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas — will not be allowed to run in the upcoming Palestinian presidential elections, a senior Palestinian official told The Times of Israel.

“Dahlan cannot run for the presidency, as he does not have a clean record. No one with a conviction registered in the Justice Ministry, who can’t obtain a clean record, can nominate themselves,” Fatah Central Committee member Azzam al-Ahmad said in a phone call late last week.

Dahlan is widely seen as a possible contender to replace the 84-year-old Abbas. A former Fatah chief and an ex-PA security minister, Dahlan was expelled from the West Bank following a bitter and bloody political dispute with the current Palestinian Authority leadership.

He was convicted in absentia by a Palestinian court on charges of corruption and sentenced to several years in prison. His supporters allege that the charges were politically motivated.

Abbas issued a decree ordering the first national Palestinian elections in more than 14 years earlier this month. The last Palestinian elections were held in 2006 and led to a parliamentary majority for the Hamas terror group. Hamas’ victory led to a year-and-a-half-long struggle for power, which ended in 2007 with the establishment of two rival Palestinian governments: Hamas in Gaza and the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority in the West Bank.

Observers remain skeptical that the elections will actually take place, however, as several election promises have fallen through before.

Representatives from Fatah and Hamas are scheduled to meet in Cairo to discuss election-related issues in early February.

'Jews want to conquer the Temple Mount,' Turkish app claims
A new Turkish smartphone app is inciting against Jews and Israel, accusing them of wanting to "occupy" the Temple Mount and rebuild the Temple. The app is also operating a crowd-funding campaign to underwrite anti-Semitic and anti-Zionist propaganda in the guise of Islamic charity work.

The app, titled "The Guide to Al-Aqsa Mosque," was developed by a local entrepreneur and offers travel packages to Israel that include guided tours of the Temple Mount compound, the Temple mount mosques, and sites in Jerusalem holy to the three major monotheistic religions. One of these sites is the Western Wall, to which the app refers as "Al Buraq."

Meanwhile, recent reports indicate that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is interested in thawing the tense relations between Ankara and Jerusalem and has even made unusually conciliatory remarks toward Israel, which echoes throughout the world.

Nadav Segal of the Arab Desk in the Zionist watchdog Im Tirzu and his colleagues investigated the app and said that "The Israeli government should take stringent action to stop Turkish involvement in Jerusalem."

Richard Goldberg: Biden, Congress Should Defend Terrorism Sanctions Imposed on Iran
During a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing to consider Antony Blinken’s nomination for secretary of state, Blinken was asked whether he believed it is in America’s national security interest to lift terrorism sanctions currently imposed on Iran, including sanctions targeting Iran’s central bank, national oil company, financial sector, and energy sector. “I do not,” Blinken responded. “And I think there is nothing, as I see it, inconsistent with making sure that we are doing everything possible – including the toughest possible sanctions, to deal with Iranian support for terrorism.”1

Bipartisan support for terrorism sanctions targeting Iran goes back to 1984, when the United States first designated the Islamic Republic as a State Sponsor of Terrorism. Since then, every U.S. president2 – Republican or Democrat – and Congress have taken steps to reaffirm U.S. policy opposing Iran’s sponsorship of terrorism and tying sanctions relief to Iran’s cessation of terror-related activities.

President Joe Biden has pledged to rejoin the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), if Iran returns to “strict compliance” with the agreement.3 Terrorism sanctions on Iran, however, should not be lifted, even if the Biden administration opts to return to the deal, unless and until Iran verifiably halts its sponsorship of terrorism.

This memorandum provides an overview of Iran’s past and ongoing involvement in terrorism-related activities, a review of longstanding bipartisan congressional support for terrorism sanctions on Iran, and a list of terrorism sanctions currently imposed on Iran that should not be lifted.
White House Signals to Leaders Iran Will Come Later
ANTONY BLINKEN, Biden's nominee for secretary of state, also said "we are a long way from" going back to the nuclear deal.

“We would then have to evaluate whether they were actually making good if they say they are coming back into compliance with their obligations, and then we would take it from there," Blinken added.

And the following day, in her first briefing, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said that "Iran must resume compliance with significant nuclear constraints under the deal in order for [negotiations to rejoin the deal] to proceed."

Psaki also said the administration anticipated the matter will come up in Biden's first conversations with foreign leaders, as the Israeli and French readouts said it did days later.

An Israeli security cabinet minister told the Post earlier this week that he thought the Biden administration will be too busy with other matters to address Iran in the short term.

“The inauguration was just a few days ago. With all due respect to Israel and Iran, I think he’ll deal with coronavirus first,” the minister said. “Therefore, it will take more time.”

Iran is also set to hold a presidential election in June. While the ayatollahs really run the show, the next president could indicate whether Iran is going to take an even harder line or be willing come to the table.

For those reasons and others, the Biden administration’s message in its written and spoken statements is clear: We’re not dealing with Iran yet.
Seth J. Frantzman: Biden's 'buy-in' to Middle East stability is crucial
Making stability a bedrock of a Biden doctrine for the Middle East will enable the U.S. to link up well with allies in the region. This includes the UAE, which has pushed regional stability for years and wants to play a greater role in projecting that stability, and it can mean reinvesting in eastern Syria and parts of Iraq. For example, Brett McGurk — a diplomat who most recently was Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL — has been tapped by Biden for a major role overseeing Middle East strategy. McGurk has worked on such issues as developing the U.S. strategy in Iraq and Syria, as well as encouraging Iraq and Saudi Arabia to improve relations.

If the U.S. frames the region through the lens of “stability v. instability” and demands that countries stick to stability, those who are inflaming tensions — whether in Lebanon, Yemen, Libya or Iraq — will be the odd one out. The problem for decades in the Middle East has been the struggle between countries that want their populations to work and profit peacefully, and those that have sought to overturn things, whether through rebellions or by pushing sectarian and religious extremism.

Buy-in for the Biden administration also means listening to allies and partners. The administration can reach out to the Gulf states and Israel early, to share Washington’s views with locals. Biden and his team can show serious diplomatic engagement by rebuilding alliances, exercising restraint and not zigzagging back and forth on foreign policy as the Obama and Trump administrations appeared to do at times. That means that, where Obama’s administration was perceived as rushing toward the 2015 Iran nuclear deal and enabling pro-Iranian groups such as Hezbollah to feel empowered, Trump’s administration seemed to go too far in the other direction, even twice claiming it would abandon key U.S. partners among the Syrian Democratic Forces in eastern Syria.

There will be voices in the new U.S. administration who criticize U.S. partners, such as expressing concern about Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen. There are others who rightly should be concerned about Turkey’s empowerment of extremists in northern Syria. That push-pull on how the U.S. deals with some of its traditional friends in the region is healthy. The U.S. can demand changes among partners, as long as those friends believe America is committed and buying in, rather than walking away.
Even Europe Is Losing Patience with Iran's Nuclear Antics
In recent weeks Iran announced that it had begun work on enriching uranium to 20 percent -- just short of the level required to produce nuclear weapons -- as well as informing the International Atomic Energy Agency... that it was to resume work on producing uranium metal.

Both these developments represent a clear breach of the JCPOA. Under the agreement, Iran committed to keep uranium enrichment at 3.5 percent, the level required for civilian use, and signed up to a 15-year ban on "producing or acquiring plutonium or uranium metals or their alloys".

Iran's announcement that it was proceeding with the production of uranium metal has prompted a furious response from the foreign ministers of Britain, France and Germany, who, in a joint statement earlier this month, warned that there was "no credible civilian use" for the element, and that "The production of uranium metal has potentially grave military implications.

[W]hat makes anyone think Iran would honour a new deal any more than they honoured the old one? Why enter a new sham deal at all?
FDD: Iran Commemorates the Death of Qassem Soleimani
Pro-Iranian outlets, including affiliates of Iran’s Al-Mustafa International University, earlier this month commemorated the first anniversary of the death of Quds Force commander Qassem Soleimani, whom the United States killed on January 3, 2020. These developments show how Al-Mustafa – a training ground for Iranian regime propagandists – weaponizes its graduates and subsidiaries for propaganda purposes.

Al-Mustafa affiliates in Latin America provided multiple forums to memorialize Soleimani. The first was Radio Islamica de Rio de Janeiro, in Brazil, which conducted a broadcast on January 1. The broadcast was accessible online via the outlet’s Facebook account and the website for Ababil, a sister organization ostensibly devoted to championing the Palestinian cause, but in fact believed to be linked to Iran’s Revolutionary Guard. (Ababil’s original website was seized by the FBI in October 2020.)

On January 3, several official Iranian institutions sponsored a speakers’ panel on the digital platform skyroom to launch a book about Soleimani, published by Colombia-based El Faro Internacional, which is run by Al-Mustafa graduates and is part of Al-Mustafa’s Islam Oriente. The book, titled Mi Tio Soleimani (“My Uncle Soleimani”), has a target audience of adolescents and is being printed in multiple locations in Latin America. Iran’s Spanish-language propaganda channel, Hispan TV, reported that the book has already reached its third edition.

Revista Islamica Kauzar published a special volume dedicated to Soleimani. Kauzar’s editor is Mohsen Rabbani, one of the Iranians implicated in the 1994 bombing of the AMIA, a Jewish cultural center in Buenos Aires. The journal is curated by Islam Oriente, which is part of Al-Mustafa and headed by Rabbani. Revista Minarete, the journal of the Centro Islamico Imam Hussein of Rio de Janeiro, whose director is an Al-Mustafa graduate, also announced the publication of a special issue dedicated to Soleimani.


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