Tuesday, February 09, 2021

From Ian:

Christine Rosen: ‘Neo-Racism’ in the Justice Department
Clarke clearly had no problem with Martin’s trafficking of Nation of Islam-fomented conspiracy theories, even though his “scholarship” was so egregiously anti-Semitic that it prompted the American Historical Association to issue a policy resolution in 1995 about Jews and the slave trade. “The Association therefore condemns as false any statement alleging that Jews played a disproportionate role in the exploitation of slave labor or in the Atlantic slave trade,” that rebuke read.

And Clarke hasn’t distanced herself from those views, either. In 2019, she signed a letter supporting Women’s March co-founder Tamika Mallory after Mallory told white Jewish women to check their privilege and, according to an exhaustive investigation by Tablet, “asserted that Jewish people bore a special collective responsibility as exploiters of black and brown people—and even, according to a close secondhand source, claimed that Jews were proven to have been leaders of the American slave trade.” Like Clarke, Mallory seems both familiar and comfortable with some of the most egregious anti-Semitic conspiracy theories promoted by the Nation of Islam and “scholars” like Tony Martin.

When asked recently about her support for such views, Clarke told The Forward that it had been a “mistake” to invite Martin to campus, but also claimed her words had been “twisted.” She added, “I unequivocally denounce anti-Semitism.”

But this is disingenuous—as Clarke herself perhaps inadvertently revealed when she refused to extend her condemnation of anti-Semitism to the anti-Semitic statements of Tamika Mallory. As Clarke sees it, there is a clear hierarchy of victimization, and she and Mallory rest atop it: “The marginalization of women of color is a threat to disrupt democracy, and what led me to join that letter was a grave concern about seeing another woman of color marginalized and silenced,” she said. “Let me be clear, I denounce anti-Semitism wherever and whenever it shows up.”

But one can’t defend Mallory while denouncing anti-Semitism, given that Mallory is an unapologetic anti-Semite (she once referred to Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan as “the greatest of all time”). After all, Mallory is only promoting the same vile conspiracy theories that Clarke’s favorite Afrocentric scholar, Tony Martin, legitimized when Clarke gave him a platform to do so.

This does not inspire confidence in Clarke’s ability to deal with serious issues of civil rights and justice. The group most often targeted and victimized by hate crimes in the U.S. are Jews. If Clarke is happy to overlook the hateful views of someone like Tamika Mallory merely because Mallory is black, then what will she do when tasked with enforcing civil rights law under the aegis of the Justice Department?
Anti-Zionist Left Rallies to Defense of Controversial Biden State Dept Pick
Some of the country’s most prominent, self-described "anti-Zionists" are rushing to defend the Biden administration’s possible selection of a top Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) aide to serve at the State Department.

Following a Washington Free Beacon report last week on Matt Duss’s anti-Israel history, anti-Zionists including Peter Beinart, the Jewish writer beloved by anti-Israel activists, are coming to his defense. Beinart wrote in a self-published piece on Monday that Duss is being unfairly maligned by the pro-Israel community and Republican leaders because he is a Christian who cares "about the powerless and the abused, whatever their race, religion, or nationality."

Beinart, the former editor of the New Republic and an Iraq war supporter, called for an end to the Jewish state of Israel, and American support for it, in an essay last year.

The possible selection of Duss, like Beinart a defender of the anti-Semitic Israel boycott movement, has become a flashpoint between pro- and anti-Israel activists. Both groups see Duss's potential elevation as a signal about what direction the Biden administration's foreign policy will take. The prospect of Duss appointment is being cheered by the Democratic Party’s far-left flank, which is pressuring the Biden administration to hire nearly 100 people, including Duss, who are hostile to the U.S.-Israel alliance and want to see an end to the close cooperation between the two. Critics, including the former U.N. ambassador Nikki Haley and freshman Rep. Ronny Jackson (R., Texas), a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, say Duss’s "disdain for the Jewish people and the American-Israel alliance would be a cancer on the U.S. State Department."

It is unclear what position Duss is under consideration for, but he would join a growing roster of Biden administration hires who have displayed animus toward Israel, promoted boycotts of the Jewish state, and advocated for a Palestinian "right of return" that would destroy the country's Jewish composition. This includes Robert Malley, the administration's new Iran envoy who once held unauthorized talks with Hamas, and Maher Bitar, a White House National Security Council member who spent his youth organizing in the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement.

Beinart's praise for the Sanders aide was well-received by Trita Parsi, vice president of the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, an isolationist think tank bankrolled by billionaires George Soros and Charles Koch. Parsi, who has faced accusations of acting as an unregistered lobbyist for the Iranian regime, said Duss’s critics are being led by war "hawks trying to prevent the best in Washington from getting into the Biden administration." Parsi also was included on the far-left's list of 100 foreign policy hands they hope to see hired by the Biden administration.

UAE halts funding to UN Palestinian agency in 'reset' of aid programme
The United Arab Emirates does not plan to resume funding to the United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees, which was halted last year, until steps are taken to manage funds more efficiently, a UAE government official said.

The Gulf state, current chair of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) advisory committee, provided the agency with $50 million in 2019 and $20 million in 2018, but made no contributions last year, although the official said UAE charitable groups donated $1 million.

“We are in dialogue with UNRWA’s leadership on how to enhance effectiveness of aid,” Minister of State for International Cooperation Reem al-Hashimy told Reuters this week.

She said the decision to halt funding was taken when the oil producing country revised its aid programme at the end of 2019 and was not related to the UAE establishing ties with Israel under a U.S.-brokered deal in September.

“COVID was a revealing time and led us to push the reset button. We believe that we have a moral responsibility but not under the same mechanism,” she said. “We want to see how international organisations are revising their approach - we are looking for more efficacy, and a wiser way of utilizing funds.”
HonestReporting: Webinar, Deconstructed: 'Palestinians Exposed: Hate in the Classroom'
In case you missed it, HonestReporting recently hosted an eye-opening webinar – Palestinians Exposed: Hate in the Classroom – that answered a fundamental question: How is it that Palestinian children born generations after Israel’s establishment are still being educated to envision themselves as residents of cities stolen by Jews, and as refugees temporarily living in the West Bank and Gaza Strip?

The webinar featured Itamar Marcus, Founder and Director of Palestinian Media Watch, who analyzed the disturbing world of the Palestinian child – spanning sports, culture, music and education. As a result of their exposure to blatantly antisemitic and anti-Israel tropes, Palestinian youth grow up believing that in the future they will “liberate” modern-day Israel, effectively ending Jewish self-determination.

Conservatives Slam Biden Bid to Rejoin U.N. Human Rights Council
The Biden administration’s bid to rejoin the United Nations' notoriously anti-Israel human rights council is under fire from conservative foreign policy advocates.

The State Department formally moved on Monday to put the United States back on the UNHRC, which the Trump administration boycotted in 2018 over its anti-Israel agenda and inclusion of several countries known for conducting mass human rights abuses, such as China, Russia, and Cuba.

Conservative foreign policy voices quickly criticized the State Department decision, saying the Biden administration will face difficulties in attempting to reform an organization that has long been used as a platform to promote anti-Israel views and give cover to some of the world’s foremost human rights abusers.

"The UN Human Rights Council doesn’t improve human rights. It covers for dictators & human rights abusers like Russia, China, & Venezuela," Nikki Haley, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations during the Trump administration, tweeted. "Sad to see the Biden admin[istration] legitimize an org[anization] that has become a farce to human rights advocates around the world."

Brett Schaefer, a research fellow at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, warned the Biden administration against legitimizing the UNHRC, which he said "almost never works well in confronting influential, repressive states about their abuses."

"The Council’s problems have been manifest since it was established in 2006 and have continued whether the U.S. was present or absent," Schaefer said Monday following the Biden administration’s announcement. "This is in large part because the Council has no credible standards for membership. Not even the world’s most repressive regimes have been excluded. Currently, China, Cuba, Pakistan, Libya, Russia, Venezuela, and other human rights violators sit on the HRC."
Hillel Neuer on U.S. Rejoining the UNHRC – i24 News

HonestReporting: Lion's Den: HonestReporting Defends Israel on RT International TV with Hanan Ashrawi HIGHLIGHT
RT, formerly called Russia Today, is an international English language television network that is terribly hostile toward Israel and has an enormous global audience. Networks like this are the reason why Israel has an unfair global reputation. HonestReporting CEO Daniel Pomerantz came on the channel to talk vaccines, Iran, Abraham Accords -- and in the process debunked false claims by Palestinian spokesperson Hanan Ashrawi and also by the program's own host.

Fmr Ambassador Oren on US Rejoining Iran Nuclear Deal, UN Human Rights Council

Blinken Stops Short of Endorsing Trump Recognition of Golan Heights as Israel
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Monday stopped short of endorsing the Trump administration’s recognition of the Golan Heights as part of Israel, instead noting that the territory was important for Israel’s security.

Former President Donald Trump officially granted US recognition of the Golan as Israeli territory in 2019, a shift from decades of US policy. Israel captured the Golan from Syria in the 1967 Middle East war and annexed it in 1981.

“As a practical matter, the control of the Golan in that situation I think remains of real importance to Israel’s security,” Blinken told CNN. “Legal questions are something else and over time if the situation were to change in Syria, that’s something we look at, but we are nowhere near that.”

He added that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government as well as the presence of militia groups backed by Iran pose a “significant security threat” to Israel.

Biden’s advisers had said previously that he would not withdraw US recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan.

Blinken also reiterated the Biden administration’s commitment to keep the US embassy in Jerusalem, after the Trump administration recognized the city as the capital of Israel.

Netanyahu responds to Blinken: Golan will remain part of Israel forever
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office on Tuesday pushed back after US Secretary of State Antony Blinken cast doubt over Washington’s recognition — under former president Donald Trump — of Israeli sovereignty in the Golan Heights.

Blinken said on Monday that under current conditions he supports Israel controlling the Golan Heights, but appeared to question the legality of the Trump administration’s decision regarding the strategic plateau.

“The Golan is very important to Israel’s security,” Blinken said in an interview with CNN. But “legal questions are something else. And over time, if the situation were to change in Syria, that’s something we’d look at.”

The Prime Minister’s Office issued a terse statement in response, saying that “the Golan Heights will remain forever a part of the State of Israel.”

“The Israeli position is clear. In any possible scenario, the Golan Heights will remain Israeli,” Netanyahu’s office said.

Defense Minister Benny Gantz said during a tour in the West Bank that the government needs to work with US President Joe Biden’s administration to “expand” normalization with Arab countries and the recognition of the Golan as Israeli.

Israel-Saudi Arabia peace: What would the benefits be? - opinion
The signing of the Abraham Accords at the White House on August 13, 2020 marked a watershed moment in the history of the Middle East and the Israeli-Arab conflict.

The signing of normalization agreements between Israel, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain shortly afterward demonstrated the transformation in the region, as a centuries-old conflict that had defined the Middle East began to fade away. While the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and other regional hotspots such as Libya and Yemen have not magically disappeared, the normalization agreements signed with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain marked the beginning of a new and optimistic era in the region.

Despite this important development, challenges to regional security and stability persist. Policymakers in the region and a new administration at the White House now need to assess and prepare for how dynamics in the Middle East will play out in 2021, capitalizing on the new dynamics created by the Accords and the normalization agreements. A recent simulation conducted by the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) explored under what circumstances war might break out in the Middle East in the year ahead. While war is a constant possibility in the region, an equally interesting and important scenario to explore is how a peace agreement between Israel and another Gulf state in the coming year could create new opportunities for regional stakeholders.

IN A recent simulation, Wikistrat, a crowdsourced consultancy, focused on exactly that. The simulation, which included 50 participants from different sectors and countries, explored opportunities for Israel-Gulf relations in 2025 following the signing of a peace treaty between Israel and Saudi Arabia. The collaborative discussion of the participants in the simulation highlighted potential opportunities between Israel and the Gulf States in various domains, giving a sense of the enormous potential for joint ventures and opportunities for the private sector in Israel and the Gulf States.
MEMRI: Fatwa Signed By Over 200 Mauritanian Muslim Clerics: Normalization With Israel Is "A Betrayal Of Allah, His Messenger And The Muslims"; Jihad Against Israel Is A Religious Duty
On January 31, 2021 the independent Mauritanian news agency Al-Akhbar published a fatwa (religious ruling) banning normalization with Israel. The fatwa is signed by over 200 Mauritanian clerics, headed by Sheikh Mohamad Hasan Al-Dido, who is a member of the International Union of Muslim Scholars (IUMS).

The fatwa states that normalization with Israel is strictly forbidden because it means recognizing the Jews' claim to Palestine; legitimizing their ongoing occupation of this land and the destruction and massacres they perpetrate there, and abandoning the Palestinian Muslims to their fate. The fatwa calls to wage jihad (holy war) in order to expel the Zionists from the occupied Muslim land, stressing that this is a duty incumbent upon every Muslim man and woman. It also urges the Muslims not to open their countries to the Jews by normalizing relations with them, because they are corruptors, plotters and murderers and are "the Muslims' greatest haters."

The following are translated excerpts from the fatwa:[1]
"...Relations with the entity that is usurping and occupying the land of Palestine, [including] Jerusalem and all parts of this land, is strictly forbidden, for the following reasons:

"1. Such normalization constitutes full support for all the deeds of the dastardly Zionists - the siege, murder and destruction they perpetrate - and has nothing to do with peace, which is the cessation of warfare to protect the Muslims' interests, [and is allowed] as long as the enemy behaves honestly and does not violate [the state of peace] with aggression and treachery. Allah said: 'If the enemy is inclined towards peace, make peace with them' [Qur'an 8:61]. But this normalization actually [involves] supporting, befriending and striking an alliance with the enemy, and cooperating [with them] in many domains against Islam and the Muslims.

"2. [Normalization constitutes] recognition of the enemy's [claim] to the soil of Palestine and of their ancient rights in Jerusalem, which grants a seal of approval to their takeover of Jerusalem and to the claim that the Palestinians - and all other Muslims - have no right to this land. This is considered to be one of the factors that greatly contribute to cementing the Zionist presence [in Palestine] and empowering it economically, militarily and politically...

"When a Muslim country is occupied by the enemy, jihad to expel this occupier becomes a personal duty [of every Muslim, and therefore] getting ready and preparing forces for jihad [also] become a [personal] duty. The date on which the Zionists occupied Palestine is known: [it happened] on November 2, 1917, when Balfour promised to turn Palestine into a national homeland for the Jews. The British kept this promise and helped the Jews take over Palestine by force and expel its [Muslim] residents from their homes. Therefore, it is a religious duty to wage jihad to expel them from the land they have occupied, rather than normalize relations with them.
Alan M. Dershowitz: Is Palestine a State?
The highly politicized International Criminal Court just declared statehood for Palestinians. They did it without any negotiation with Israel, without any compromise, and without any recognized boundaries. They also did it without any legal authority, because the Rome Statute, which established the International Criminal Court, makes no provision for this criminal court to recognize new states.

The International Criminal Court is not a real court in any meaningful sense of that word. Unlike real courts, which have statutes and common law to interpret, the International Criminal Court just makes it up. As the dissenting judge so aptly pointed out, the Palestine decision is not based on existing law. It is based on pure politics.

The Palestinians — both in the West Bank and Gaza — who have refused to negotiate in good faith and have used terrorism as their primary claim to recognition, have been rewarded for their violence by this decision.

The real victims of such selective prosecution are the citizens of these third world countries whose leaders are killing and maiming them.

All in all, the International Criminal Court decision on Palestine is a setback for a single standard of human rights. It is a victory for terrorism and an unwillingness to negotiate peace. And it is a strong argument against the United States and Israel joining this biased "court," and giving it any legitimacy.
HonestReporting CEO on Top Israeli Radio Station
HonestReporting is helping to educate Israelis about the International Criminal Court and how its seemingly biased decisions impact on the manner in which global media outlets portray the Jewish state. In doing so, we are effectively heightening the collective Israeli awareness of the need to defend the country's reputation.

In Latest Call, Ashkenazi and Blinken Discuss ‘Outrageous’ ICC Ruling
Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi spoke to US Secretary of State Tony Blinken on Monday, where he thanked Blinken for American support in the wake of the International Criminal Court’s decision to open a war crimes case against Israel.

“I spoke with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and thanked him for the administration’s public support of Israel in the face of the outrageous decision by judges of the ICC,” Ashkenazi said on Twitter. “I emphasized to the Secretary of State that the tribunal’s decision is fundamentally wrong, discriminatory, and that it jeopardizes the rare opportunity to promote peace in our region.”

A three-judge panel ruled that Judea and Samaria, the Gaza Strip and eastern Jerusalem are within its jurisdiction, as “Palestine [is] a State party to the ICC Rome Statute.” The 2-1 decision cleared the way for ICC Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda to open a war crimes probe into actions as the Israel Defense Forces.

Shortly after the ruling, the US State Department condemned the decision, noting that the Palestinians do not qualify as a sovereign state and that America has “serious concerns about the ICC’s attempts to exercise its jurisdiction over Israeli personnel.”

Ashkenazi also said the two discussed “joint efforts” to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons and its destabilizing regional activities.
ICC begins tweeting in Hebrew and Arabic, in clear message to Israelis
As the International Criminal Court (ICC) sets out a path to begin probing into allegations of war crimes perpetrated by Israel in Gaza, the West Bank and east Jerusalem, the Hague tribunal began tweeting in Hebrew and Arabic to make certain its intentions were made clear to Israelis and Arabs alike.

The ICC tweeted a series of tweets detailing the "scope" of the upcoming investigation and how it came to be, noting that the Pre-Judicial Court ruled that the ICC holds jurisdiction over matters in "Palestine."

"In December 2019, the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court requested from Pre-Trial Chamber I a jurisdictional ruling on the scope of the Court’s territorial jurisdiction under article 12(2)(a) of the Rome Statute in Palestine," the ICC's official Twitter account said.

It added that: "Last Friday, after a judicial proceeding in which a number of states, regional organizations and other stakeholders participated and filed pleadings, the pre-trial tribunal gave its decision, by a majority.
ICC Chief to Launch War Crimes Investigation After Israeli Hummus Gives Her Gas (satire)
The International Criminal Court plans to prosecute Israel for violations of the Chemical Weapons Convention after a container of Sabra hummus eaten by chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda resulted in severe flatulence.

Bensouda announced she would launch a war crimes investigation after learning that the company’s founder is Israeli, meaning the country bears responsibility for her digestive distress.

“The use of gas has been in warfare for over a century, but Israel and its Sabra hummus company unleashed a gas attack on my family worse than anything seen since the first World War,” Bensouda said in a statement. “The suffering inflicted on my husband, my children, and myself as a result of this heinous chemical warfare has no parallel in human history, and I intend to make sure Israel and its citizens pay for their crimes.”

The investigation will be the second launched by the ICC against Israel this month, and Bensouda promised that the two probes would be the courts highest, and only, priority.
EXCLUSIVE: IDF foils Iranian scheme to spark conflict on Israel-Syria border
The terrorists approached under the cover of darkness. They knew the area well and assumed no one could see them. They inched to a distance just 25 yards from the security fence and placed their explosives. Their objective was clear – kill IDF soldiers and set the sector ablaze. After placing the bombs they retreated back toward Syria, tracked the entire time by IDF spotters, and now under heavy fire from Israeli troops.

The lethal ambush was exposed last November on the Israeli-Syrian border on the Golan Heights. A tranquil area with pastoral vistas, but highly volatile due to the ongoing fight between the IDF and Iran in what has come to be known as the "war between wars." Three months earlier, in August, an Iranian cell was detected and eliminated by IDF commandos while laying bombs along the fence.

Exclusive documentation obtained by Israel Hayom, sheds light on what happened that night when terrorists attempted to kill IDF troops on routine patrol along the border. For the first time, the IDF has shared how the event unfolded, step by step, along with more details about who was behind the attempted attack the could have sparked a war had it been successful.

"The area is of great strategic importance," Brig. Gen. Ze'ev Cohen told Israel Hayom, "among other reasons because there's a tremendous lack of goods on the other side and a real struggle to live, to the point of having no food. There is complete chaos there and every fighting force is trying to gain a foothold in the area. Terrorist elements are trying to recruit these poor people to act against us, which was also the case during the incident in question. In hindsight, we understand that those who placed the bombs are residents of the area, proxies of Iran. It's clear to us that Unit 840 of the Quds Force dispatched them."
Biden urges democracy abroad, but will it apply to the Palestinian Authority?
In a stirring speech last week, U.S. President Joe Biden spoke eloquently of America’s commitment to fostering democracy and civil rights around the world. I wonder if any leaders of the Palestinian Authority were listening.

P.A. leaders have been practically giddy over the results of America’s presidential election. And with good reason, it seemed. Spokespeople for the Biden administration are already vowing to resume its financial aid and restore various other aspects of U.S.-P.A. relations.

But Biden’s Feb. 4 remarks at the U.S. State Department articulated principles which—if the new president and his administration are serious—will create a serious problem in relations between the United States and the Palestinian Arabs.

The problem is that America reveres democracy, while the P.A. practices authoritarianism. For decades, successive U.S. administrations have shied away from confronting this issue. But Biden said that under his leadership, America will “meet this new moment of advancing authoritarianism.” It’s about time.

He identified “America’s most cherished democratic values” as these five principles: “defending freedom, championing opportunity, upholding universal rights, respecting the rule of law and treating every person with dignity.”

The president didn’t just praise those concepts as admirable. He called them “our inexhaustible strength” and “the grounding wire of our global policy—our global power.”

If Biden really meant what he said, then the P.A. is going to either completely transform itself or face a major clash with the Biden administration.
PMW: PA condemns Arab member of Israeli Parliament for calling terrorists “terrorists”
An Arab member of the Israeli Parliament, Mansour Abbas, has been ‎‎“condemned” by the PA for having made “embarrassing and shameful ‎statements” about Palestinian terrorist prisoners, who – according to the PA – ‎are not terrorists, but are “heroic.”‎

In a recent interview to Israeli TV Channel 12, Mansour Abbas said: “Placing ‎me as a terror supporter or embracer of terrorists – that never was. Whoever ‎published that I visited the prison and met with terrorists and embraced them ‎‎– that never happened.” [Feb. 4, 2021]‎

Following this interview, Director of PLO Commission of Prisoners’ Affairs ‎Qadri Abu Bakr condemned Mansour Abbas, stressing that Palestinian ‎terrorist prisoners – among them murderers – “are nothing but symbols of ‎honor, heroism, and pride.” Abu Bakr further emphasized that terrorism is the ‎way to “liberate Jerusalem”:‎
“Director of [PLO] Commission of Prisoners’ Affairs Qadri Abu Bakr ‎condemned the statements made by Israeli Arab Parliament ‎Member Mansour Abbas, who described the Palestinian prisoners ‎as ‘terrorists.’‎
Abu Bakr said that the statements that Mansour Abbas made… ‎regarding our heroic prisoners in the occupation’s prison were ‎embarrassing and shameful statements that represent him alone… ‎Abu Bakr added: ‘Mansour should be ashamed of himself and this ‎statement. He must examine history and know well that the path to ‎liberating Jerusalem is paved only by the sacrifices of our pure-‎hearted Martyrs, the years of the lives of our brave prisoners, the ‎pains of our heroic wounded… They are nothing but symbols of ‎honor, heroism, and pride.’”‎
[Donia Al-Watan, independent Palestinian news agency, Feb. 5, 2021]
How the PA weaponizes Palestinian children
Just over a week ago, 17-year-old Atallah Muhammad Rayyan approached a female Israeli soldier, not much older than he, at the Ariel junction in Samaria. He was armed with a knife, and his aim was to kill her. Instead, a fellow soldier shot and killed Rayyan.

A mere three days later, a similar incident took place at the Gush Etzion junction in Judea. An unidentified Palestinian approached an Israeli soldier. Civilians were nearby, waiting at a bus-stop. He had fashioned for himself a makeshift spear by tying a knife to a stick, and as he drew closer he drew the weapon and broke into a jog. The soldier opened fire, killing him on the spot.

Within hours of each attack the Palestinian Authority’s propaganda machine was in full swing, recasting Rayyan and the unnamed assailant not as terrorists but as innocent victims of Israeli belligerence.

Rayyan was “executed,” official P.A. TV reported; he “died as a martyr after being shot by the occupation’s soldiers while ‎he was at the junction.”

A post on Fatah’s official Facebook page read: “The [Palestinian] children are dying from the bullets of [Israeli] soldiers ‎who are filled with hatred towards everything Palestinian.” It, too, cast Rayyan as innocent, claiming: “All that Atallah did was to cross the ‎road quickly.”
40,000 Palestinian Workers Crossed Illegally into Israel Despite Lockdown

Egypt opens Rafah border crossing with Gaza Strip ‘indefinitely’
Egypt on Tuesday opened its border with the Gaza Strip “indefinitely,” a security source said, as Cairo hosted inter-Palestinian reconciliation talks.

“This isn’t a routine or normal opening. This is the first time in years that the Rafah border crossing is opening indefinitely,” the source told AFP.

“It used to open only three or four days at a time,” he noted.

The Rafah border crossing, the sole pedestrian passageway between Egypt and Gaza, was mainly shuttered due to a high level of mistrust between Cairo and the leadership of Hamas, the terror group that rules the Strip.

For a substantial part of the past decade, Egypt kept the Rafah crossing closed to Palestinians hoping to leave and enter the enclave, but in August 2018 Cairo decided to permit the crossing to be opened on a regular basis in both directions.

Rafah is the only passage to the outside world for Gaza that is not controlled by Israel, which maintains that its blockade of the Strip is crucial for preventing the entry of weapons into the territory.

The opening of the Rafah crossing came on the second day of talks between Palestinian factions in Cairo aimed at clearing the way for the first elections in the West Bank and Gaza Strip since 2006.

Iran is strategic threat, battle with Hezbollah more likely - analysis
Iran’s investment in its nuclear enterprise is a strategic threat to Israel, which, in return, is constantly acting in various ways to sabotage it and delay Tehran’s quest for a bomb.

At the end of 2020, Iran found itself at a nadir, the result of a hostile US administration, heavy sanctions, floods, earthquakes and, of course, the coronavirus pandemic. Indeed, experts believe that the sharp drop in Iran’s GDP is now as severe as it was during the era of the Iran-Iraq War of the 1980s.

However, as an ancient and proud nation, Iran has not allowed a very bad year affect its long-term goals: to develop a nuclear bomb and strengthen its dominance throughout the region.

On bomb development, it is assumed that if Iran were to make a decision today to start building a nuclear weapon, it would need about two years to complete the task.

On the regional aspect, Iran is looking to spread its hegemony across what is often referred to in the IDF as the “Shi’ite Crescent,” which spans from Iran to Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen, and nurture its relations with the Sunni Hamas terrorist group in the Gaza Strip.

The mechanism of this entrenchment has seen Iran establish cultural and religious ties as it sends money and munitions and supports local regimes.
New report exposes Hezbollah missile sites near Beirut charity-run schools
A new report has shed light on Hezbollah’s systematic use of civilian infrastructure to shield its missile storage and launch sites in Lebanon.

The report, produced by the Israeli Alma Research and Education Center for geopolitical affairs, highlights a social charity called the Islamic Shiite Waqf Committee in Burj al Barajneh foundation that has been cynically used by Hezbollah to store an array of medium-range Fateh 110 missiles in close proximity to sites such a high school in Beirut.

“This is a continuation of a report that we published in July 2020, which exposed 28 Fateh 110 missile sites in greater Beirut,” Maj. (res.) Tal Beeri, who directs Alma’s research department, told JNS.

“Following our publication, we continued extracting data from the information collected while discovering and uncovering new information. Within this framework, we acted to uncover the identities of the landowners and building owners [where] the Hezbollah sites are located,” he stated.

That research led Alma to the Shiite Waqf Committee in Burj el-Barajneh, a social charity that has been active for 25 years and recognized as a supporter of Hezbollah.

Alma was able to pinpoint seven compounds related to the foundation: its main compound (which includes offices, a conference hall and a religious gathering place) and six school compounds, some of which are suspected of being used to store missiles intended for future use against Israel.
JCPA: Biden Administration Revokes the Designation of the Yemeni Houthis as a Terrorist Organization
There is considerable concern at the top political echelons of Jerusalem, the Saudi royal household, and the official Yemeni government over the Biden administration overturning the Trump decision declaring Yemen’s Houthi rebels a terrorist organization (also known as “Ansar Allah”).

The Trump administration’s decision came into force on January 19, 2021, the day before President Trump left the White House. Not many days passed, and on February 5, 2021, the Biden administration revoked the designation of Houthi rebels as a terrorist organization. The decision came after Joe Biden’s first foreign policy speech as president, in which he announced that he was halting military aid to the Saudi-led military coalition leading the war in Yemen.1

A spokesman for the U.S. State Department announced last weekend that the administration had formally informed Congress of plans to revoke the Houthis’ classification as a terrorist organization, adding: “The decision has nothing to do with our view of the Houthis and their reprehensible conduct, including attacks against civilians and the kidnapping of American citizens.” He continued, “We are committed to helping Saudi Arabia defend its territory against further such attacks.”2

The Trump administration declared the Houthi rebels a terrorist organization and imposed sanctions on the rebel leaders; however, it took into account the position of the United Nations and human rights organizations and did not impose sanctions that would harm the supply of humanitarian aid, food, and medicine to the people of Yemen.

The humanitarian crisis in Yemen is the most severe in the world: 30 million Yemenis live under siege, and 80 percent of the civilians are at risk of famine because of the war that has been going on for seven years.

U.S. officials say President Biden decided on the move out of fear that declaring the Houthis a terrorist organization would undermine efforts to bring peace to Yemen and end the war. The United Nations welcomed the Biden administration’s decision and continues to push for a ceasefire through its special envoy to Yemen.

Another reason is President Biden’s concern that failure to revoke the terrorist designation would sabotage his efforts to warm relations with Iran and sign an enhanced nuclear deal with it. The Houthis in Yemen are Iran’s protégés and are equipped with advanced Iranian weapons systems, including ballistic missiles and precision-guided drones.
To stop Iran, Israel needs to work with Biden, not against him - opinion
Israel and the United States have one common strategic goal: to prevent the radical regime in Iran from achieving nuclear capability.

This is usually where agreement between the two countries on this subject ends. Each of these two close allies holds a completely different position regarding the path that is leading toward achieving their common objective.

Over the past decade, Washington and Jerusalem have disagreed substantially on five essential worldviews:
1. Perception of threat
The perception in Israel is that if Iran attains nuclear weapons, this poses an existential threat to the State of Israel. The US, on the other hand, does not share this view, and does not consider a nuclear Iran to be an existential threat.

2. National traumas affect decision-making
Israeli leaders are highly impacted by memories of the Holocaust, whereas the Americans have painful memories of their two seemingly endless wars in the Middle East.

3. Full nuclear capability
Israel is striving to achieve a wide margin of security, ranging from Iran detonating a bomb to achieving nuclear capability, while the US – even if it doesn’t declare this officially – is okay with Iran reaching the threshold of nuclear capability, as long as it cannot actually build a bomb.
IDF intelligence: Iran at least two years from nuclear bomb
Iran is at an unprecedented “low point” due to actions carried out by Israel and the US, but has not stopped investing in its nuclear project, IDF Intelligence Chief Maj.-Gen. Tamir Heiman said this week.

In a briefing with the press, Heiman said that “in its current situation, Iran sees in a nuclear deal the only way out of the crisis, and hence it is trying to go back to the deal it signed in 2015.”

Israel has reportedly launched a multitude of operations against Iran with a focus at undermining its nuclear program. Recent reports attribute an explosion at the Natanz uranium enrichment facility to Israel as well as the assassination in November of Iran’s top nuclear scientist, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh.

Israel has also worked closely with the US to impose crippling sanctions on Iran’s economy.

According to Heiman, Iran starts 2021 “battered, but on its feet,” and hopes that the new US administration will change its attitude towards it.

However, the first signs of this attitude are not promising for Tehran. On Sunday, US President Joe Biden said that his country would not lift sanctions on Iran unless it first stops enrichment of uranium.
IDF sees permanent ban on weapons-grade uranium as essential for Iran nuke deal
Israeli Military Intelligence believes that a new nuclear agreement that prevents Iran from ever enriching uranium up to the 90 percent level needed for a nuclear weapon is both feasible and would alleviate some of Jerusalem’s primary concerns, The Times of Israel has learned.

This view, presented as part of the Israel Defense Forces’ annual intelligence assessment, comes as US President Joe Biden considers a return to the 2015 nuclear deal or, potentially, the negotiation of a new accord. The Israeli military, ToI has learned, regards an eventual US return to the deal as a near-certainty.

Throughout his campaign, Biden maintained that he would return to the 2015 nuclear deal, known formally as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, if Iran returned to compliance with the agreement, as a jumping-off point to additional talks with Tehran.

After Biden’s predecessor Donald Trump abandoned the deal in 2018 and launched a “maximum pressure” campaign of financial sanctions, Iran began regularly violating its terms, enriching uranium to far greater levels and storing much more of it than permitted under the JCPOA. Last month, Iran also announced it was beginning research into uranium metal, a component needed for a nuclear weapon’s detonator, which it is barred from acquiring under the 2015 nuclear deal.

At this stage, the Israeli military assesses that Iran is still roughly two years away from being able to create a working, deliverable nuclear weapon — roughly the same timeframe it estimated last year — despite the Islamic Republic’s stockpiling and enrichment.
Saudi FM: Iranian Nuclear Program Threatens Entire Region
A nuclear Iran is a threat to the entire Middle East, Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan al Saud told an emergency meeting of the Arab League in Cairo on Monday.

“The development of the Iranian nuclear program and the ballistic missile project endanger the entire region,” he said in his address.

“One of the most dangerous threats facing our region is the Iranian regime’s continuous violations of international laws, charters and norms by threatening the security and stability of our countries, interfering in their internal affairs and supporting armed militias that sow chaos, division and devastation in many Arab countries,” he added.

The Saudi foreign minister also said that the nations most affected by Iranian threats should be among the main participants in any international negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program and other activities that threaten regional security.

“We call on the international community to put an end to Iran’s violations and its threat to the region,” Prince Faisal concluded.

Regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the Saudi foreign minister said that his country remains committed to the establishment of a Palestinian state and firmly supports all efforts to reach a just and comprehensive solution.

“We call on the international community to exert more efforts to revive the peace process to establish an independent Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders, with east Jerusalem as its capital,” he said.
‘Arab States Making Peace With Israel Will Burn,’ Says IRGC Commander
Arab countries should not pursue normalization with Israel as doing so could make them targets of Iran on their own soil, said Islamic Revolution Guard Corps commander Maj. Gen. Hossein Salami on Monday.

“We warn the anti-revolution regimes in the region, the Zionist regime is a cursed entity that … pollutes every country with which it comes into contact,” Salami said at a ceremony unveiling 340 new speedboats earmarked for the IRGC Navy in the southern port city of Bandar Abbas.

“We tell them,” he said, referring to Iran’s Gulf neighbors and other moderate Sunni states in the region, “not to overspend in the friendship with the Zionists; this is an unhappy marriage that will put you in the same fire in which the Zionists burn. True Muslims do not accept such behavior from their rulers.”

He added: “Allowing the presence of Zionists on Islamic lands is nothing but enmity with the Muslims and Arabs.”

Salami also warned the United States not to continue the policies of former President Donald Trump.
Iran Says Armed Forces Member Involved in Nuclear Chief’s Assassination
Iran suspects that an armed forces serviceman was involved in the assassination of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, Iran’s nuclear chief, in November, a senior official said Tuesday.

“The person who carried out the first preparations for the assassination was a member of the armed forces,” Intelligence Minister Mahmoud Alavi told state media on Monday, as cited by AFP.

He added that the intelligence ministry was unable “to keep watch over the armed forces.”

On November 27, Fakhrizadeh, a high-ranking Iranian official seen by Israel as the key architect of Tehran’s nuclear ambitions, was killed outside the Iranian capital.

His vehicle, which was accompanied by a security detail, came under heavy gunfire, with early reports painting a conflicting picture of the incident.
US May Weigh Baby Steps to Revive Iran Nuclear Deal
The United States is weighing a wide array of ideas on how to revive the Iranian nuclear deal, including an option where both sides would take small steps short of full compliance to buy time, said three sources familiar with the matter.

Such an approach could slow the deterioration in relations since former US President Donald Trump abandoned the deal in 2018 and freeze Iran’s subsequent violations, which have brought it closer to enriching weapons-grade uranium.

This option could entail Washington allowing Tehran to get economic benefits less valuable than the sanctions relief it received under the 2015 deal in return for Iran stopping, or perhaps reversing, its own breaches of the agreement.

The sources stressed US President Joe Biden has yet to decide his policy. His stated position remains that Iran resume full compliance with the pact before the United States will.

“(They) are having a real think,” said one source familiar with the US review, saying ideas under consideration include a straight return to the 2015 nuclear deal and what he called “less for less” as an interim step.

Another source said if the Biden administration concluded it would take too long to negotiate a full return to the deal, it could adopt a more modest approach.
Iran files complaints against Israel in UN
Iran’s ambassador to the United Nations, Majid Takht-Ravanchi on Monday, filed two complaints against Israel with the UN Security Council calling on the international community to take a stand against the "Israeli regime" in response to a speech by the Israeli Ambassador.

Israeli Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi’s spoke against Teheran and the 2015 Nuclear Deal in his address to the Institute for National Security Studies in January.

In response to the complaints against Israel and the calls to take actions against it, Erdan warned the Islamic Republic against any kind of aggression against the Jewish State.

“We will continue to act against the insane ayatollah regime on every front and especially in the UN,” Erdan said. “I suggest Tehran not put us to the test. Iran's intentions to destroy Israel and its actions in the Middle East should should prompt the international community to act as soon as possible and not bury its head in the sand."

“Israel will act in every way possible to prevent the world's most dangerous regime from arming itself with the world's most dangerous weapons,” he added.

Israeli-devised bomb-defusing gameshow reaches Iran
After being sold to some 20 countries, a hit Israeli gameshow has found its way to Iran, in a near identical copy, Channel 12 reported Sunday.

The gameshow “Boom!” which aired in 2014, is a trivia show in which a team of four contestants work together to defuse a series of huge black “bombs” sitting in the center of the TV studio, with four colored wires — green, red, yellow and blue — representing answers to a series of questions.

If the contestant offers a wrong answer, and then snips the wrong wire, the bomb and studio “blow up,” spraying a foam-like material everywhere.

Channel 12, which originally aired the gameshow, under the Keshet TV name, showed footage of the bomb-defusing trivia contest on Iranian state television.

Surprised by his creation crossing international borders, Ido Rosenblum, who hosted the show, told Channel 12 that “legal or not, in the end of the day, people — both in Israel and Iran, enjoy game shows — with bombs.”

While Iran’s version was not officially licensed, the gameshow had been sold to dozens of countries, including Argentina, France, Vietnam, Spain, Kazakhstan and the United States.
PreOccupiedTerritory: State Dept. Lauds Iran’s Reuse Of Older Cranes To Hang Gays (satire)
The Biden administration’s pivot on Middle East policy became further evident today as American diplomats complimented the Khamenei regime on its ecological wisdom and frugality for repurposing obsolete construction equipment as gallows for homosexuals.

State Department spokesman Jack Kass made a point at a Wednesday press conference of praising the Islamic Republic of Iran for its use of old construction cranes from which to hang condemned gay men, noting that the thoughtful planning Iranian authorities demonstrated in such a decision foreshadows positive developments in the way the two countries might come to a better mutual understanding and arrangement to enable the mullahs to obtain nuclear weapons and foment terrorism all over the world without cumbersome Western interference.

“The president would like to congratulate President Hassan Rouhani and his fellow officials on this well-conceived move,” stated Kass. “It is perhaps a small gesture in the grand scheme of things the two nations must resolve, but it can nevertheless serve as an important confidence-building moment from which we can move toward rapprochement that has been sadly lacking over the last several years.”


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