Sunday, January 31, 2021

From Ian:

NYPost Editorial: A new libel against Israel from Human Rights Watch
Israel has led the world in rapidly vaccinating much of its population, so naturally the global left has to find fault: hence the drive to condemn Jerusalem for not taking responsibility for vaccinations in Gaza and the West Bank.

In a series of tweets, Human Rights Watch Executive Director Kenneth Roth accused Israel of racism for this supposed failure; a week later, Palestinian officials decided to join the blame game, announcing that Israel is responsible for vaccinating Palestinians despite past statements to the contrary.

In reality, as UN Watch’s Hillel Neuer notes, the 1995 Oslo II Accord designates responsibility for the health care and vaccinations of its people to the Palestinian Authority.

And while the two countries are supposed to cooperate in terms of handling epidemics, Palestinian Health Ministry officials admitted back in December that they didn’t ask for help in obtaining vaccines from Israel.

Top Palestinian officials routinely go to Israel for major medical care, but PA propaganda discourages it for everyone else, with dark hints that Jewish doctors will offer Arabs only substandard care — if they’re not secretly experimenting on Palestinian patients.
What drove Obama into Iran's arms?
From Obama’s perspective, Iran was the state with which to develop a relationship. The mullahs have the will, aggression and desire to destroy Israel, which they have expressed continuously. However, Iran’s nuclear ambitions posed a PR problem. Therefore, Obama relied on the belief that Iran could not be stopped, and as a result the US and some of its European partners negotiated a deal, which on the surface could be sold to a compliant and ever helpful main stream media, which in turn would sell it to the world’s public. Iran would agree not to develop a nuclear weapon for at least ten years, after which they would be free to do so. This could follow without any international interference. Obama, by then, would have “kicked the can down the road” for a future President to deal with along with the possible fate of Israel.

Whether Iran would comply didn’t really bother anyone, and clauses contained in the agreement limited inspections to civilian sites only whilst excluding military sites -- which is, of course, exactly where nuclear weapons would be developed. This was not only an awful and extremely bad agreement, which appeared to be Obama’s intention, but it has never been ratified by the US Congress. Part of the “deal” was that Obama would transfer huge amounts of cash to the Iranians in the amount of $150 to $170 billion. It remains questionable as to how much of it would find its way into Obama’s pocket. If this was so, a Democrat aligned media would be part of the conspiracy in covering it up.

During the signing and lead up to the JCPOA, I was always struck by the arrogance and cocksureness of Mohammad Javad Zarif so much on display I suspected and speculated that he possibly had Obama and Kerry in his pocket.

This whole scheme essentially threw the USA’s Sunni Arab allies “under the bus” abandoning them with Iran simultaneously threatening them. The great unintended irony, which had not been clearly thought through or even imagined, was that this would encourage the Sunni Arabs to make peace with Israel for their mutual defence as they no longer trusted America. As a result, these states were no longer bound by a ridiculous Palestinian-imposed veto. Their interests and defence obviously took precedence and under a Biden presidency, this situation would be even more relevant, with Obama very likely in the background pulling the Biden strings.

What appealed to Obama and his useless sidekick, John Kerry, was more the potential destruction of Israel, and perhaps to a lesser extent, limiting Iran’s nuclear ambitions. The JCPOA agreement said nothing about the development of missiles, which should have been a logical inclusion. Why something so fundamental was omitted remains a mystery. What should have occurred to them during negotiations was that a nuclear bomb has to be delivered. Iran has an antiquated air force which could not manage such a task. It could of course acquire aircraft from Russia or China. However, the obvious and only alternative was via a ballistic missile. This is precisely what Iran has been developing and testing for years.

Report: Evidence Suggests Iranian Link to Blast Near Israeli Embassy in New Delhi
Indian terrorist group Jaish-ul-Hind has claimed responsibility for the blast that took place near the Israeli embassy in New Delhi on Friday, local media reported.

No one was injured in the explosion, which took place on the 29th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between India and Israel.

According to the news site, the investigation so far has recovered social-media chatter according to which Jaish-ul-Hind operatives boast about carrying out the attack.

The Indian Express reported on a police source as saying that the bomb appeared to have been planted in a flowerpot on the road divider. According to the report, a letter found on the scene, addressed to “Israel Embassy ambassador,” said that the blast was a “trailer,” suggesting that it was a prelude to future attacks against the embassy or other Israeli targets in the country.

The note also refers to “Iranian martyrs” Qassem Soleimani, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Quds Force commander killed in a US drone strike in Iran on Jan. 3, 2020, and Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, head of the Iranian military nuclear program, who was assassinated near Tehran on Nov. 27 in a hit for which Iran has blamed Israel.
New Delhi Blast: 2 Suspects Seen on Security Footage

Israel not expecting Palestinian peace push from Biden administration
The Biden administration is not expected to try to push a peace plan for Israel and the Palestinians, according to a high-level Israeli government source.

“There probably will not be a top-down peace plan,” the source said recently.

The top echelons of Israel’s government were not surprised by the Biden administration’s talk about separating the Israeli Embassy from the US Consulate that serves the Palestinians and funding UNRWA, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees. The steps reverse Trump administration policies, but they were announced on the campaign trail, the source said.

The source cited remarks by US envoy Richard Mills at the UN Security Council last week, in which he emphasized the importance of a two-state solution but did not call for it to come in the short term.

Though Mills emphasized the importance of maintaining the viability of a two-state solution, he did not refer to pre-1967 lines or what the contours of such a solution would be.

“The US will urge Israel’s government and the Palestinian Authority to avoid unilateral steps that make the two-state solution more difficult,” Mills said.

Mills spoke out against “incitement to violence [and] providing compensation to individuals in prison for acts of terrorism,” a reference to the Palestinians’ “Martyrs Fund,” the Israeli source said.
After Eleven Days in Office, President Biden Has Yet to Call Israel’s PM Netanyahu
Newly installed US President Joe Biden has still to call Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, 11 days into Biden’s term of office.

While it could represent the US administration’s priorities in attempting to get a handle on the COVID-19 pandemic in the country, the president has found the time to call the leaders of Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, NATO, Russia and Japan, according to the Jerusalem Post.

There has, however, been contact between senior US officials and their Israeli counterparts; National Security Adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat was the third person in his position to get a call from his American counterpart Jake Sullivan, and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken called Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi on the day after his confirmation, reported the Post.

Last week, CENTCOM commander Gen. Kenneth McKenzie met with the Israel Defense Forces Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi during a flying, one-day visit. It is thought that Iran featured most prominently on the list of topics discussed.

Israeli officials are particularly keen to engage with the Biden administration — including the president himself — to discuss the future of the Iran nuclear deal. Israel’s political establishment — including Netanyahu’s rivals — are united in their opposition to a return to the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) and have sounded the alarm at Biden’s public pronouncements of favoring a return to the agreement that his then-boss, former president Barack Obama, signed.
Moving Israel to CENTCOM: Another Step Into the Light
From an organizational standpoint, the move will streamline U.S. operations within CENTCOM itself—namely, operations affecting Israel will no longer require EUCOM’s approval. In addition, the IDF should now be able to formally assign liaison officers to CENTCOM headquarters at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Florida—and, hopefully in the future, to subordinate headquarters across the Gulf region.

At the same time, EUCOM’s experience and deep relations with the IDF are a hard-earned resource that should be preserved and developed in parallel to CENTCOM’s, maximizing their potential in future crises. Israel’s security crises were rarely concurrent with EUCOM’s, but the opposite dynamic will prevail under CENTCOM—the IDF will often face crises at times when critical CENTCOM assets such as munitions and missile defense are in highest demand. To keep an eye on these seams and address any future ones (e.g., problems in the Red Sea or Mediterranean maritime commons), the parties should continue the three-way ICE dialogue.

Moreover, as the United States shifts its strategic effort eastward, Israel should seek a dialogue with INDOPACOM, America’s highest-priority regional combatant command. Far from being “against China”—which is not Israel’s enemy—such engagement should be viewed as a means of supporting cooperation with Israel’s greatest ally in a region of growing importance to Israel. According to a June 2020 report in the Jerusalem Post, Asia now accounts for over 40 percent of Israel’s defense exports—a significant input in building INDOPACOM partner capabilities.

One way to initiate such dialogue is by expanding the existing ICE format to include INDOPACOM. The resultant “ICE-IP” could then become a useful framework for addressing the nexus of America and Israel’s top threats: China and Iran, respectively. Relations between Beijing and Tehran are rich enough to merit “ICE-IP” attention, and their military-technological cooperation presents similar challenges to U.S. and Israeli forces: continued development and deployment of ballistic, cruise, and antiship missiles; proliferation of rockets and drones; expanding naval warfare capabilities; air defense improvements; and cyber threats. As U.S.-Israel strategic relations adapt to the age of great-power competition, addressing these common threats should be high on each government’s agenda, alongside national innovation and technology cooperation.

Countries frequently rely on their militaries to initiate policy developments in a changing strategic environment, and it is often said that “structure is policy.” Since policy usually finds itself in pursuit of reality, organizational structure sometimes lags even further behind. The IDF and U.S. combatant commands have long worked with each other and the Gulf states to build flexible bridges across formal boundaries, recognizing the need for partnership long before the Abraham Accords. Shifting Israel to CENTCOM recognizes the importance of these new formal partnerships. After the wedding comes marriage, of course, so these declarations are but a first step on the long formal path. If properly developed, however, this transition could further benefit each partner’s security and interests.
Ben Cohen: Joe Biden, Anne Neuberger, and Dual Loyalty
The original article about Neuberger, by David Corn of Mother Jones, centered on a foundation that operates in her name and that of her husband, Yehuda. By Jewish philanthropic standards, the foundation is on the smaller side, and it donated a little more than $500,000 to AIPAC, the pro-Israel lobbying organization, between 2012 and 2018. According to Corn, this was enough to set alarm bells ringing over whether a fundamental conflict of interest — “do I choose the United States or Israel?” — would inevitably impact Neuberger’s term at the NSC.

Neuberger wasn’t given a chance to respond to these specific allegations, which were later picked up by Ken Dilanian of NBC News, nor to the broader insinuations about her character and the wealthy, Orthodox Jewish family she hails from that stemmed from such choice lines as, “[H]er father is billionaire investor George Karfunkel, who was in the news last summer for making a curious donation of Kodak stock — worth up to $180 million — to an Orthodox Jewish synagogue in Brooklyn that seemed to barely exist.” In a similar vein, not one of the “experts” quoted, anonymous or otherwise, questioned the basic assumption of the article that having ties with a bipartisan, non-governmental organization that is focused on enhancing ties with a long-established US ally — Israel — makes one a potential national security risk.

While NBC News retired Dilanian’s piece to its archive following a review determining that it fell well short of journalistic standards, Mother Jones continues to stand by David Corn’s piece and all its anonymous dog-whistle quotes (“raised eyebrows in government and beyond” … “If you donate half a million dollars to a lobbying group, it indicates a pretty strong preference …” and so forth). We will wait in vain for the magazine to publish a similar piece in which someone suggests that, should Biden speak on the phone to the head of Britain’s MI5 security agency, a squad of IRA volunteers might be listening in.

Sarcasm aside, the point is that not even a month into the new administration, the American public is being presented with another example of the “dual-loyalty” canard that has continuously stalked prominent American Jews in government, the media, and especially academia. It is a claim that is inseparable from the broader tapestry of wild allegations about pro-Israel (sometimes more crudely rendered as “Zionist” or “Jewish”) forces controlling America’s most powerful institutions.

While no government official — Irish American, Jewish American, Arab American — should ever have their loyalties impugned because of their family origins, history has provided us with several examples of where such bigoted speculation can lead in the Jewish case. In France, Jews discovered through the infamous Dreyfus affair of the late 19th century that high rank, the respect of one’s peers, and social standing offer Jews little protection from the dual-loyalty trope in the last analysis. More than 100 years after that terrible episode, the same underlying malice still lingers.
Jonathan Tobin: Are All Criticisms of White House Staffers the Same?
The questions raised about Bitar focus on the fact that while he was a student at Georgetown University, he was a board member of Students for Justice in Palestine — a group that is notorious for spreading antisemitic libels against Israel and Jews, as well as for promoting divestment and boycotts of the Jewish state. At Georgetown, he organized a conference of the Palestine Solidarity Movement at which he ran a session on how to demonize Israel and appeared alongside speakers who praised terrorism against Jewish targets.

But rather than a youthful folly, other items on his resume show that he took his BDS beliefs with him on his path towards success in government. He interned at the anti-Israel Foundation for Middle East Peace and then worked at the UN Relief and Works Agency, which has perpetuated the Palestinian refugee problem in order to serve as a weapon to use against Israel. At no point in his glittering career is there a record of him disavowing BDS and its goal of destroying Israel or the antisemitic smears it propagates.

Are the charges against Bitar the moral equivalent those against Neuberger? That’s only true if you think defending the existence of the one Jewish state on the planet is morally equivalent to an antisemitic war to destroy it.

There can be no religious test for office or one based on one’s ethnic origin. Palestinian Americans and Jews should be judged on their individual merits, not on their faith or background. But we do have a right to ask why a record of supporting a hate group like SJP is treated as a non-issue by the administration. And we should be outraged that it thinks support for a pro-Israel cause is just as legitimate as backing one that wishes to wipe out the Jewish state.

We have no doubt that Neuberger will serve Biden and the nation just as well as she served Obama and Trump in her efforts to defend the country against cyber threats. But we have every reason to wonder why an administration that assures us that it supports the alliance with Israel is putting one of the most important national security jobs in the hands of someone like Matar, who, in the absence of any disavowal of his past connections and positions, may still wish to see that ally disappear.
Palestinian attempts to stab soldier in West Bank, is shot dead
A Palestinian man was shot dead while attempting to stab an Israeli soldier with a makeshift spear at the Gush Etzion Junction in the southern West Bank on Sunday morning, the Israel Defense Forces said.

No Israelis were injured in the incident, Gush Etzion regional council head Shlomo Ne’eman said.

In security camera footage from the scene, the assailant could be seen approaching a bus stop that the soldier was guarding. When he was still several feet away, he took out a weapon and apparently alerted the serviceman to his presence. The soldier, who was armed with a rifle, then turned and shot the would-be stabber.

An IDF spokesperson confirmed that the assailant was pronounced dead shortly thereafter.

The weapon was recovered from the scene. It was made up of three knives taped to a broken broomstick, the IDF said.

“I stood at my post at the northern bus stop at the Gush Etzion Junction in order to protect the citizens that were there. I saw the suspect walk along the road and then he suddenly ran at me and the civilians at the scene. I saw that he took out a knife and I shot and neutralized the assailant,” said the soldier, who was only identified by his rank and first Hebrew initial of his name, Cpl. “Ayin.”

“We stay at the ready at all times in order to prevent incidents like this,” said Ayin, who serves in the Nachshon Battalion of the IDF’s Kfir Brigade.

Ariel University awards honorary doctorate to former US ambassador
Ariel University announced Sunday that it will award its first honorary doctorate to David, outgoing US ambassador to Israel "in recognition of his extraordinary contribution to the diplomatic international relations between the USA and Israel."

President of Ariel University Prof. Yehuda Danon said, "Ambassador Friedman and the American government's acknowledgment that research and discovery benefit all people, regardless of location, faith or practice will allow researchers from Ariel University and their colleagues in the USA the opportunity to focus on their important scientific work and continue to strengthen the unbreakable bond between our two countries."

Friedman said he was "deeply honored to be the first recipient of an honorary doctorate from Ariel University, a world-class academic institution that serves students of all faiths and nationalities. Ariel brings a future of peaceful coexistence right to the here and now."
Coronavirus: Gov’t to meet on extending lockdown, 20% of Israelis got both vaccines
The government is meeting on Sunday to discuss the extension of Israel’s lockdown and the closure of the airport. Both sets of measures are set to expire on Sunday at midnight.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is expected to support the extension of the lockdown for a week, as requested by the Health Ministry, while Blue and White leader and Defense Minister Benny is asking to lift the restrictions already on Thursday, according to Israeli media reports. “We need to reduce the morbidity, we already seeing that the lockdown is working. Another week and we can start opening,” Netanyahu said opening the meeting.

“The lockdown has a price. It is an economic price, a social price but also a price in terms of health. We cannot maintain these restrictions for a long time,” Gantz replied. “The effect of the vaccines is already evident, we must assign more staff to the campaign and to consider its effect within a traffic light program.”

Health authorities hope to see a significant reduction in new coronavirus cases and serious patients in the coming days.

PMW: Europeans created Zionism “to get rid of the Jewish problem in its lands” – op-ed in official PA daily
One of the fundamental tenets of Palestinian Authority ideology is that the ‎Zionist movement was not an authentic Jewish movement but rather a ‎colonialist movement that took advantage of the Jews. The PA rewrites ‎history claiming the western colonialists lied to the Jews and made up the ‎story of Jewish history in the land of Israel in order to trick the Jews into ‎leaving Europe and coming to Israel. ‎

This, the PA says, the West did for two reasons:‎
‎1. “To get rid of the Jewish problem in its lands”
‎ Jews were said to be so evil that they brought Antisemitism on themselves in ‎Europe. ‎
‎2. “To exploit and harness the Zionists for the benefit of the colonialist ‎project … fragmenting the unity of the Arab nation’s peoples”‎ The PA claims that Europe wanted to weaken the Arab world and therefore ‎divided it into numerous small Arab states and planted Israel in the middle.‎

Palestinian Media Watch has documented that the PA at times adds a third ‎reason: The West planted the Jews in Israel to help them steal the natural ‎resources of the Arab world. ‎

This rewriting of history was repeated in an op-ed by a regular columnist for ‎the official PA daily, Omar Hilmi Al-Ghoul:‎
“One of the most complicated forms of colonialism is Zionist ‎colonialism, which claims ‘first rights’ on the Palestinian Arab land; is ‎based on negating the existence and identity of the native people, the ‎Palestinian people; and is supported by the colonialist West. The ‎forces that comprise this colonialism were gathered from among the ‎members of the Jewish religion who were deceived; the colonialist ‎West and its pawn – the Zionist movement – led them [to Palestine] to ‎get rid of the Jewish problem in its lands, and to exploit and ‎harness the Zionists for the benefit of the colonialist project whose ‎goal is bigger than occupying historical Palestine: Tearing and ‎fragmenting the unity of the Arab nation’s peoples and dissolving ‎the pan-Arab revival project…‎

The Zionist colonialism, which has been crouching over the historical ‎Palestinian land for 72 years… is increasingly striving to deepen and ‎widen the ethnic cleansing against the Palestinian people and ‎establish its fabricated and false narrative at the expense of the ‎Palestinian people’s identity, history, and heritage.”‎
[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Jan. 26, 2021]
Will the Palestinian Election Decree Produce Actual Elections?
The new decree has generated excitement in a society where at least three-quarters of the people reportedly desire elections, according to the Palestinian poll mentioned above. Yet similar initiatives failed in the past due to factors that remain unchanged today. As the parties move beyond general declarations and start grappling with modalities and conditions, their fundamental disagreements are likely to derail the process once again.

Even if elections do proceed, Hamas and Fatah’s apparent unwillingness to cede meaningful power in their territories would likely deepen the ongoing Palestinian legitimacy crisis rather than resolve it. As the 2006 vote showed, elections held in a politically charged environment without clear terms of reference or strong institutions can do more harm than good.

Rather than focusing on elections, the United States should engage the PA and its regional allies on stabilizing the West Bank political scene while ensuring that Gaza’s humanitarian situation does not deteriorate further. Clarifying Palestinian succession is a priority given Abbas’s advanced age and the instability his sudden departure may trigger. Moreover, poor governance and nearly universal perceptions of corruption have dramatically undermined the PA’s domestic legitimacy. Washington should therefore look into leveraging aid—alone and in coordination with international donors—in a manner that fosters PA institutional reform. Finally, U.S. officials should encourage Israel and the PA to advance concrete measures on the ground that help maintain stability, rehabilitate the idea of cooperation, and begin rebuilding trust between the two sides.
PA arrests Hamas supporters ahead of elections
Despite the talk about holding new general elections, the Palestinian Authority and Hamas are continuing to crack down on each other’s supporters in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

The clampdown comes as representatives of several Palestinian factions, including the ruling Fatah faction and Hamas, are expected to meet in the Egyptian capital of Cairo soon to discuss ways of ensuring the success of the elections.

On January 15, PA President Mahmoud Abbas announced that the parliamentary election would be held on May 22. The presidential election, he said in a “presidential decree,” would be held on July 31. In late August, Palestinians will also vote for the PLO’s legislative body, the Palestinian National Council.

Abbas’s announcement was made despite that his Fatah faction and Hamas had failed to reach agreement to solve their dispute, which reached its peak with the 2007 Hamas takeover of the Gaza Strip.

Hamas has expressed readiness to participate in the elections. The Palestinian Islamic Jihad organization, the second-largest terror group in the Gaza Strip, has indicated that it may boycott the elections, as it has done in the past.

No date has been set for the start of the discussions in Cairo.
Seth Frantzman: Airstrikes in Syria pinpoint Iranian influence
Airstrikes have targeted an area of “pro-Iranian militia” influence in the vicinity of Al-Bukamal on the Euphrates River in the Deir ez-Zor Governorate of eastern Syria near the border with Iraq, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported Saturday.

This area has often been targeted in the past by airstrikes. Syrian regime media has blamed Israel for these strikes in the past.

This follows other mysterious explosions on January 13 and 22, the report said. There were airstrikes near Al-Zamaliyah, southeast of Masyaf in Syria, according to reports on January 22. Syrian air-defense systems, firing wildly, apparently even shot a projectile that crashed in Jordan and one that fell on a civilian home.

The strikes took place at 4 a.m. and were carried out from aircraft over Tripoli in Lebanon, according to Syrian Arab News Agency, a regime-controlled news agency. The targets were near Hama.

The January 13 airstrikes hit Iranian militias in Syria near the Iraqi border. Those were considered the fourth similar airstrikes in several weeks. Reports suggested at the time that US intelligence aided the strikes and that pro-Iranian militias might relocate to Iraq due to the beating they were receiving.

Once again it appears that pro-Iranian militias, such as the Fatimiyoun, which are recruited from Afghan Shi’ites, were impacted.

These groups are part of Iranian networks from the Iraqi border to Deir ez-Zur along the Euphrates.
Seth Frantzman: Taliban visit Iran, hope to sideline US
The Taliban rode high during US president Donald Trump’s administration because they knew he wanted to leave Afghanistan. They hoped for a trip to Camp David and acted like the rulers of Afghanistan when they attended peace talks in Doha, Qatar.

Now the Taliban face President Joe Biden’s administration, which may be tougher on them. To deal with this new reality, they are growing closer to Iran.

Iran recently hosted a high-level Taliban delegation for talks about the “peace process.” The group has been meeting with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif. Taliban spokesman Mohammad Naeem said the two sides would discuss “relations between Tehran and Kabul, issues related to Afghan refugees in Iran and the prevailing political and security situation of Afghanistan and the region.”

Support for the Taliban’s growing role in Afghanistan, after 20 years of US war there, has come from Iran, Russia and Qatar. It will likely come from Turkey, Pakistan, Malaysia and other countries that form part of an authoritarian, or Islamist, group that seeks to remove pro-Western governments.
UN experts find 'growing' evidence Iran sending weapons to Houthi rebels in war-torn Yemen
United Nations experts are warning of a "growing body of evidence" that Iran is sending weapons to Houthi rebels in war-torn Yemen, in a report that warns of a deteriorating situation in the country with "devastating consequence" for the civilian population.

The report by a U.N. panel of experts to the Security Council, a copy of which was obtained by Fox News, says "there is a growing body of evidence that shows that individuals or entities within the Islamic Republic of Iran are engaged in sending weapons and weapons components to the Houthis" in violation of U.N. resolutions.

The evidence includes anti-tank guided missiles, sniper rifles and RPB launchers all with markings consistent with those made in Iran.

The Trump administration had warned of moves by Iran to destabilize the Middle East by arms sales, and attempted to reimpose a broader arms embargo, as well as other sanctions that were expiring as part of the 2015 Iran deal -- but faced pushback from allies and others at the U.N. that scuppered the effort.

The Biden administration has taken a different approach from the Trump administration on both Iran -- where it has indicated it wishes to return to the Iran deal and re-engage with Tehran -- and also on the conflict in Yemen between the Saudi-backed government and the Houthi rebels, who control the north of the country.

Trump-era Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had imposed sanctions on the Houthis in the final days of the administration, designating them a "foreign terrorist organization" (FTO). That move was part of the administration’s efforts to isolate Iran and also support the Saudis.
Saudi-Led Coalition Destroys Explosive-Laden Drone Fired by Yemen’s Houthis, State TV Says
The Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen said on Saturday it had destroyed in Yemeni airspace a drone armed with explosives that was launched by the Iran-aligned Houthi group towards the kingdom, Saudi state TV reported.
Iran’s regime executes champion boxer after torture, third in 4 months
Iran continued its execution spree of elite athletes with the killing of champion boxer and prominent sports coach Ali Mutairi last Thursday.

The UN condemned the execution of Mutairi in Sheiban Prison, located in Khuzestan Province. Mutairi, 30, endured severe torture, which led to his false confession that he had killed two Basij militia members in 2018, activists and family members said.

“We strongly condemn the series of executions, at least 28, since mid-December, including people from minority groups,” a UN spokeswoman told The Jerusalem Post on Friday. “We urge the authorities to halt the imminent execution of Javid Dehghan; to review his and other death-penalty cases in line with human-rights law. We continue to engage with the authorities in Iran on the issues of executions and the death penalty.”

Rob Koehler, director-general of Global Athlete, an international advocacy group for Olympic athletes, said: “The International Olympic Committee must act now. Their silence has left them complicit. Their lack of action clearly indicates they favor stakeholders over athlete rights.”

“The tragic recent execution of boxer Ali Mutairi is the third athlete in just four months that has been murdered by the Iranian government,” he said. “The IOC must immediately suspend the Iran National Olympic Committee. They can no longer neglect their duty of care; athletes’ lives are at stake.”
CAA publishes live resource detailing antisemitism at universities and adoption of the International Definition of Antisemitism
Campaign Against Antisemitism has published a new resource showing antisemitic incidents at universities and whether each institution has adopted the International Definition of Antisemitism, with detailed information for each campus.

The resource for the first time makes public years of monitoring by Campaign Against Antisemitism through our volunteers and hundreds of requests we have filed under freedom of information laws.

We have long campaigned for the widespread adoption of the Definition, which was adopted by the Government in 2016 following efforts by Campaign Against Antisemitism, Lord Pickles and others. Since then, we have asked universities to adopt it too, and apply it in any disciplinary proceedings. As antisemitism rises on campuses around the country, successive Secretaries of State for Education have demanded that universities waste no more time in adopting the Definition.

This public resource shows the state of play following the expiry of the Education Secretary’s ultimatum to universities to adopt the Definition, naming those that have heeded the call to protect Jewish students and shaming those that have not.

So far, 76 institutions of higher education have adopted the Definition, based on their replies to our requests under freedom of information laws, with 101 yet to do so. This information is kept updated by our researchers in real time.

Those that have adopted the Definition include the universities of Birmingham, Bristol, Cambridge, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Imperial College, Leeds, Liverpool, LSE, Manchester, Manchester Metropolitan, Nottingham, Oxford and UCL.

SOAS — the School of Oriental and African Studies — whose long history of controversy in its relations with the Jewish community, earning its nickname as the School of Antisemitism, has declined to adopt the Definition, as can be seen from the details we have put together on its dedicated web page.
CAA recruiting General Counsel to launch new antisemitism prosecution service as Jewish community’s confidence in justice system hits new low
Campaign Against Antisemitism is recruiting an in-house General Counsel to bolster our capacity to pursue private prosecutions and other legal strategies, as our Antisemitism Barometer research showed that the Jewish community’s confidence in the justice system has hit a new low.

More than half (52%) of British Jews think that the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) does not do enough to protect them, and 44% say that they do not think that antisemitic hate crime against them would be prosecuted even if there was enough evidence, with the same percentage now saying that they hide signs of their Judaism when in public.

This perception of the criminal justice system is hardly surprising given that, according to our analysis of Home Office statistics, Jews are almost four times more likely to be targets of hate crimes than any other faith group, with an average of over three hate crimes directed at Jews every single day in England and Wales. This is not even the full story, as hate crimes against Jews are also still widely believed to be under-reported, and also do not reflect the extent of antisemitic material and abuse on social media.

Campaign Against Antisemitism is particularly concerned about antisemitism on campus and online going unpunished.

By recruiting a General Counsel, Campaign Against Antisemitism will be able to leverage its existing network of pro-bono lawyers, many of whom are amongst the most renowned lawyers in the country, to bring many more lawsuits.

Over the past six years, our litigation has broken new ground and established critical precedents in the fight against antisemitism.
CNN’s Zakaria Misstates Israel’s COVID Vaccination Obligation to Palestinians
Zakaria said, “There is a disagreement wrapped up in that success story over whether Israel also has a duty to vaccinate the 4.6 million Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza. It has not done so. The Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority, citing different bits of international paperwork, point to the other as responsible.”

While critics may argue that Israel has a moral obligation to at least help COVID-19 vaccinate the Palestinians, the claim or implication that Israel has a legal responsibility is false.

Israeli Health Minister Yuli Edelstein has pointed out that the government’s obligation first and foremost is to its citizens, but that it would be in Israel’s best interests to make sure that Palestinians got the vaccine. On BBC’s Andrew Marr Show (Jan. 24, 2021), responding to Marr’s assertion that Israel has a “legal obligation to make sure the Palestinian people under occupation have a swift and equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines,” Edelstein stated, “As far as this is concerned, I think it is the Israeli obligation to first and foremost to its citizens. They pay taxes for that, don’t they? Having said that — it is in our interest, not our legal obligation, but it is in our interests to make sure the Palestinians get the vaccine so that they will not have COVID-19 spreading.”

Whatever Zakaria means by “international paperwork,” the applicable international law is the Oslo Accords agreement between Israel and the Palestinians. The Accords puts health care, including vaccinations, in the hands of the Palestinian Authority (PA).
New York Times Flunks Transparency Test on Alleged Iranian Agent Kaveh Afrasiabi
The U.S. authorities arrested and charged Afrasiabi, a legal resident of Massachusetts, for his violations of Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA), allegedly having received $265,000 since 2007 plus health benefits since 2011 in exchange for his undeclared lobbying on behalf of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

“Anyone working to advance the agenda of a foreign government within the United States is required by law to register as an agent of that country,” the Justice Department press release quoted FBI Assistant Director in Charge William F. Sweeney. “Mr. Afrasiabi never disclosed to a congressman, journalists or others who hold roles of influence in our country that he was being paid by the Iranian government to paint an untruthfully positive picture of the nation. Our laws are designed to create transparency in foreign relations, and they are not arbitrary or malleable. As today’s action demonstrates, we will fully enforce them to protect our national security.”

Given that Times editors were likely unaware that Afrasiabi allegedly illegally concealed his paid work on behalf of Iran when they published his columns, important questions arise: to what degree does a media outlet have a commitment to second guess and verify the credentials that an opinion contributor supplies? What safeguards does The Times have in place to ensure that contributors are truthfully identifying their relevant affiliations?

Moreover, it is deeply troubling that nearly two weeks after the Justice Department released the explosive news about Afrasiabi, The New York Times has yet to address the issue. It has not published an article or made a statement about the fact that a former contributing writer has been arrested for being an illegal agent of Iran. Nor has it appended any note to Afrasiabi’s op-eds informing readers that the Justice Department has charged him with being an undeclared paid Iranian lobbyist, and that the earlier representation of him as a detached observer are apparently incorrect.

U.S.-Iranian relations are at this moment at a critical juncture. President Joe Biden’s freshly installed Iran team, headed by the controversial Robert Malley, is tasked with deciding if and how to return to the Iran deal which the Trump administration had abandoned, and Tehran just rejected new negotiations after French President Emmanuel Macron announced that time is very limited to reenter talks is highly limited before Tehran succeeds in obtaining nuclear weapons.
Antisemitism goes unchallenged on BBC Somali Service radio
Last week a member of the public alerted us to an edition of a programme called “Dooda Jimcaha” which was aired on the BBC Somali Service radio on December 18th 2020.

Among the contributors to that programme was the Somali MP Mohamed Omer Dalha who stated (48:00 to 48:20 here) that there is a conspiracy against Somalia by foreign countries that are interfering in the “Islamic world” propelled by “Jews running these affairs both in the West and the East”. His remarks went unchallenged by the BBC presenter.

A translation of that segment (which has been confirmed for CAMERA UK by Dr. Moshe Terdiman, Founder and director of Research on Islam and Muslims in Africa and co-founder and director of the Institute for Environmental Security and Well-being Studies) can be found here.

Clearly such antisemitic statements should have no place in BBC content, including on foreign language stations and this case once again raises questions concerning the BBC World Service’s ability to oversee the foreign language content put out in its name and ensure that it meets BBC editorial guidelines.

Youth from Syria, Libya, Iraq, Gaza join Israeli start-up program
Young entrepreneurs from a number of Arab countries, including Syria, Iraq, Libya, Gaza and Saudi Arabia, among others, take part every week in Starting-Up Together, an Israeli program for developing start-ups and social initiatives. Participants from Syria, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Libya, Tunisia, Egypt, Morocco, Jordan, Gaza and the Palestinian Authority promote hi-tech ventures and receive guidance and tools on how to actualize their dreams in Zoom meetings with leading figures from the Israeli innovation industry.

The projects promoted in the program include a project to promote acceptance and change in the attitude toward LGBTQ+ youth and adults in Arab countries, a project to connect children from different ethnic communities through joint activities and the establishment of a regional nature museum, among other initiatives.

Guidance is provided by both Palestinians and Israelis. Some 40% of the participants are women. The program guides participants through all the stages of creating a new venture, including market research, construction of a plan and business model, development and connection to a variety of potential partners and investors in Israel and around the world.

The program is a collaboration between the Peres Center for Peace and Innovation, the Ebay Israel Development Center and the center for Smart Cities at Bar-Ilan University. The program is funded by the Edmond de Rothschild Foundation (Israel).
Team Israel revs up ahead of world cycling season
When Israeli Guy Niv took his bar mitzvah trip with his father to watch the Tour de France, he never imagined that he would be back 13 years later as a rider. Niv, who is now with Team Israel Start-Up Nation (ISN), is the first Israeli to complete the most well-known cycling race in the world. He recently joined the team in Girona, Spain, for a training camp and returned soon after to Israel just before Ben-Gurion International Airport shut down for a week due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Niv, who started riding as a hobby at age 10, hopes to inspire young children's interest in biking. Despite some uncertainty about the upcoming racing season due to COVID-19, he notes, "I am really excited for the new season and to see new faces, including big names, and to work with and learn from them. My motivation is very high."

As for his participation in general, "it was a dream come true," he says, keeping it all in perspective. "At the end of the day, it is a bike ride. It doesn't change who you are and what you give to the world."

Team Israel Start-Up Nation will compete at the World Tour level – the highest level of professional cycling – for just the second season. The team recently signed four-time Tour de France winner Chris Froome, who is currently completing rehabilitation from a serious bike injury in California. Froome, 35 a Kenyan-born British cyclist, made clear in a recent virtual press conference that he is very committed to the team and to Israel.

As he reports, "This is very much a long-term commitment for me. I have committed to the end of my career. I'm in to give everything I can to help the team in every way possible, as well as improve myself and get back to the top."

Froome will now be teammates with fellow star-rider Dan Martin, who finished fourth overall in the 2020 Vuelta a Espana (one of cycling's three Grand Tours, alongside the Tour de France and Giro d'Italia). Martin notes that he is pleased to be riding with Froome, saying "I am happy to see how the team has been strengthened; it gives me confidence. I know how much I can learn from Chris and the others. We can become a stronger team together. It's a team effort."
Israel-Dubai trade reaches $272M since normalization
The trade between Dubai and Israel has reached 1 billion dirham, or $272 million, over the last five months, the Dubai media office said on Saturday.

Israel and the United Arab Emirates agreed in August to normalize diplomatic relations, giving an immediate boost to a slew of business deals and agreements.

The amount includes around 325 million dirham ($88.5 million) of imports and 607 million dirham ($165.3 million) of exports, the statement said.

Exports to Israel were almost twice as high in terms of volume as the imports, standing at roughly 60% and 30% of the total, respectively.

Transit flow of goods accounted for another one-tenth of the total trade volume.

Dubai's exports were dominated by lubricants, perfumes, engine spare parts, smartphones and diamonds – the key imports, along with mechanical and medical tech, flat screens, electronics, and agricultural goods.

The report cited Sultan bin Sulayem, head of DP World Group and chief of Dubai's Ports, Customs and Free Zone Corporation, as saying that the trade with Israel was projected to grow to 15 billion dirhams – just over $4 billion – in the coming years.

Announcing a Partnership to Bring Israeli Water Tech to Native American Communities
Israel education organization StandWithUs, Israeli company Watergen, and Native American non-profit Bright Path Strong (BPS) announced an exciting partnership at the StandWithUs International Conference, on January 30, 2020. Together, they will work to bring clean drinking water to Native American communities. For StandWithUs, this is part of a new initiative called Connect for Progress, which is dedicated to connecting communities worldwide to unique Israeli solutions.

The partnership will begin with StandWithUs adding its support to an ongoing crowdfunding campaign launched by Bright Path Strong, Watergen, and a Native American-owned company called 4D Products & Services. The campaign aims to bring Watergen's innovative Israeli technology, which creates high quality drinking water from air, to four Native American communities. Watergen and 4D are matching donations up to $400,000, and StandWithUs will use multiple platforms to help reach this goal. Bright Path Strong and 4D will also join an ongoing StandWithUs and Watergen project to be announced in the near future.

"Access to clean drinking water has been a challenge for Native Communities for decades," said Chris Taylor, Co-Director of BRIGHT PATH STRONG. "This has amplified the effects of the ongoing pandemic in our communities, leaving them amongst the most hard hit and vulnerable. Thanks to Watergen, StandWithUs and 4D Products and Services we are not only spotlighting these issues but creating real and practical solutions that will sustain our communities into the future."


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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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