Friday, April 30, 2021

From Ian:

45 crushed to death, over 150 hurt in stampede at mass Lag B’Omer event in Meron
At least 45 people were crushed to death and more than 150 people hurt, including many in critical condition, in a stampede after midnight Thursday at a mass gathering to celebrate the Lag B’Omer holiday at Mount Meron, medics said. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the incident “a terrible disaster,” promised a thorough investigation, and said that Sunday would be declared a day of national mourning.

Army Radio reported that children were among the dead and injured.

The event is believed to be the worst peacetime tragedy in modern Israeli history, with a death toll higher than the 44 who lost their lives in the 2010 Mount Carmel forest fire.

The wounded were taken to the Ziv hospital in Safed, the Galilee Medical Center in Nahariya, Rambam hospital in Haifa, Poriya hospital in Tiberias, and Hadassah Ein Kerem hospital in Jerusalem. By Friday afternoon, 21 people were still in hospitals, several of them in serious condition.

Several hospitals opened hotlines for people to search for family and friends who may have been injured; Galilee: 04-9850505, Ziv: 04-6828838 and Poriya: 04-6652211. Police could also be contacted at 110. Efforts to identify all the victims and contact all the families were expected to be protracted, with some living overseas.

The Magen David Adom rescue service said the tragedy was caused by a crush and overcrowding.

A police official said the incident was centered on a slippery walkway, with a metal floor, where crowding was at a height. (The harrowing videos below show some of the unfolding tragedy.)
Director of Medical division, United Hatzalah - April 30

Netanyahu: National Day of Mourning to Be Held Sunday for Victims of Mount Meron
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the country will observe a national day of mourning on Sunday for the victims of Mount Meron shortly after departing from the scene of the tragedy.

“The Mount Meron disaster in one of the heaviest disasters to befall the state of Israel,” Netanyahu said in a statement released by his office.

“We mourn the victims, our hearts are with the families, and also the wounded whom we wish a full recovery. There were heartbreaking sights here, people crushed to death, including children,” he continued.

After congratulating rescue and medical units for their speedy response, Netanyahu added that “I would like to declare a national day of mourning on Sunday. Let us all unite with the grief of the families and pray for the peace of the wounded.”

Netanyahu arrived earlier in the day at the site of a stampede that killed at least 44 people and injured another 150, including many in critical condition, in one of Israel’s deadliest recent disasters.
Rivlin Lights 45 Candles in Memory of Mount Meron Stampede Victims
Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin lit up 45 candles on Friday in memory of those killed in the stampede on the Mount Meron compound earlier in the day.

“I send my heartfelt thanks to those working without a break since last night to rescue and give medical treatment” to those injured, Rivlin said in a statement.

“This is the time to embrace the families, to help all those looking for their loved ones, to take those injured to our hearts. To weep together.”

Rivlin’s office opened a hotline for those seeking assistance with finding their close ones in the wake of the tragedy.

Late on Thursday, thousands arrived at the religious site to celebrate Lag B’Omer, a holiday when many Jews make a pilgrimage to the grave of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai.

A narrow, slippery and severely overcrowded walkway in the area worked as a bottleneck for the revelers, media reports say, with several people slipping and knocking others off their feet, resulting in the stampede that killed at least 45 people and left about 150 injured, including critically. Other available accounts suggest that the tragedy unraveled differently.

The disaster amounts to Israel’s worst peacetime tragedy, the second-worst one being the Mount Carmel forest fire of 2010.

Lag Ba'omer: These are the victims of the Mount Meron stampede
At least 45 people were killed on Thursday night after a stampede broke out as massive crowds gathered for the Mount Meron religious bonfire-lighting ceremony to mark the holiday of Lag Ba'omer. Below is a list of the victims, published by haredi (ultra-Orthodox) news sites Bhadrei Haredim and Kikar Hashabat. The list will continue to be updated, as not all of the victims have been identified.

At least four of the deceased are US citizens, the Foreign Ministry said.

Israel's Population Authority has opened a direct line of contact for first-degree family members of those injured during the Mount Meron disaster, which would ease the bureaucratic process of visiting Israel if the family members live abroad, Ynet news reported on Friday.

Meron tragedy aftermath: Coping with trauma
The Meron Disaster, which is still unfolding at the time this is being written, will go down in history as a tragic disaster of unbelievable proportions.

This event will affect a multitude of people on various levels.

Many people will have lost a family member, friend, or colleague.

Hundreds, if not thousands, of people will know somebody who sustained considerable physical injuries.

Thousands of bystanders watched the event occur before their very eyes.

Some people directly partook in this event as dedicated First Responders, delivering life-saving aid. This includes MDA personnel, United Hatzalah, ZAKA, Police, Fire, IDF, Hospital staff members spread across several hospitals in Israel, and other organizations and professionals.

Tens of thousands of people will have witnessed this event on the internet as it was streamed live, or via photos and videos on social media and the news.

There will be those who may become emotionally upset by simply learning about the event from friends, without any exposure to photos of the disaster scene.

Below is a short list of eight fundamental ideas about coping with disaster that you may find helpful if you feel affected by this event- in addition to praying for the welfare of the injured and seeing if there is any other practical help you are able to provide.

One, it is normal to feel traumatized or affected emotionally and psychologically by this type of event. People react in all sorts of ways to traumatic incidents. You may have trouble sleeping, feel sad, have intrusive thoughts, a lack of appetite, or other symptoms of trauma in lieu of the Meron Disaster.

Experts reassure that it is quite normal and even expected to have symptoms like these immediately after such an event. It has been described as a "normal reaction to abnormal circumstances". This is how our bodies and minds react to such unthinkable tragedies. Do not panic or be overly concerned if this happens to you.

You are not alone in having such feelings.
Mount Meron DisasterHundreds of strangers at funeral of Canadian Hasidic singer without family here
Hundreds of people answered a call to attend the funeral on Friday of Shraga Gestetner, a Hasidic singer without any immediate relatives in Israel, who was crushed to death in a stampede at Mount Meron the night before.

Rabbi Gestetner, a 35-year-old from Montreal, came to Israel specifically for the Lag B’Omer celebrations, which ended in tragedy when he was among the 45 people killed in what is believed to be Israel’s worst peacetime disaster.

He is survived by his wife and five children. In recent years he had been living in Monsey, New York.

After Gestetner was named as one of victims, calls went out on social media for the public to attend his funeral in Jerusalem, with the messages noting he has no immediate family in the country who would be present.

“Let’s pay his final respects,” Israel Nabul, an event producer who knew Gestetner, wrote on Facebook in one such message.

Diaspora Affairs Minister Omer Yankelevich also called on anyone who could do so to attend, saying: “We won’t leave him alone in his final moments.”

Following these entreaties, hundreds arrived at the Shamgar funeral home to escort his body to Jerusalem’s Har Hamenuchot cemetery.
Global leaders, Jewish groups express ‘shock’ and ‘heartbreak’ at Meron tragedy
Officials from around the world sent their condolences to Israel on Friday morning, following the stampede at Mount Meron that killed at least 45 people and injured over 150 others.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said he was “deeply saddened” by the tragedy.

“We mourn the lives lost, extend our deepest condolences to the families, and pray for the injured to recover quickly,” he wrote on Twitter.

In a tweet, US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said: “Our hearts go out to the people of Israel tonight following the terrible tragedy at Mount Meron.” He sent condolences to the families of the victims and well-wishes to those injured.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson lamented the “devastating scenes” during the Lag B’Omer festivities at Mount Meron.

“My thoughts are with the Israeli people and those who have lost loved ones in this tragedy,” he wrote on Twitter.

Jordan’s King Abdullah II phoned President Reuven Rivlin to express the condolences of his country, according to the latter’s office.

“The president thanked the king and said that the warm and brave embrace of the State of Israel from around the world at this difficult time is heartwarming and gives us strength,” a statement from the President’s Residence said.

Rivlin also received condolences and messages of support from numerous other leaders, including Spanish King Felipe VI; the presidents of Austria, Finland, Germany, Georgia, Greece, Italy, Kazakhstan, Poland and Serbia; the president of the European Council; the prime ministers of Australia and Sweden; as well as the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Vatican.

EU Ambassador to Israel Emanuele Giaufret said he extended his “heartfelt condolences” to the families of the victims in the Meron tragedy.

Chargé d’Affaires at the US Embassy in Jerusalem, Jonathan Shrier, said he is “praying for the healing of those injured and send my sincerest condolences to those who lost loved ones,” following the “tragic news overnight from Mount Meron.”

“May their memory be a blessing,” Shrier added, using a traditional Jewish phrase.
Palestinian leader Abbas, Jordan’s king, Gulf allies send condolences over Meron
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and several other Arab leaders have sent messages of condolence to Israel in the hours since dozens of ultra-Orthodox Israelis were crushed to death at the mass Lag B’Omer gathering at Mount Meron in the northern Galilee.

Among these, the Foreign Ministry said Friday afternoon, have been empathetic messages from countries with which Israel does not have diplomatic ties. It did not specify which countries.

Abbas wrote to President Rivlin Rivlin a day after he announced the indefinite suspension of Palestinian parliamentary elections that had been scheduled for May, and blamed Israel for not clarifying whether it would allow Palestinians to vote in East Jerusalem.

In his letter to Rivlin, Abbas expressed his sorrow “for the tragedy that claimed the lives of dozens of victims,” adding, “we are praying for the victims and hope for the recovery of those injured,” according to the President’s Office.

Jordan’s King Abdullah II called Rivlin and offered condolences, Rivlin’s office said.

The president thanked the Jordanian king, who generally maintains very little public contact with Israeli leaders, saying the “embrace” by Israel’s friends around the world “warms the heart and gives strength.”

The crown prince of Bahrain, with which Israel said a substantive normalization agreement as part of the Abraham Accords last year, offered his condolences: “His royal highness Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, the crown prince and prime minister, today sent a cable of condolences to the prime minister of the State of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, following the Lag Ba’omer Mount Meron stampede,” according to a statement.

Comptroller warned that Lag B’omer Meron was disaster waiting to happen
State Comptroller reports in 2008 and 2011 had said that the writing was on the wall for a disaster waiting to happen on Lag Ba'omer at Mount Meron – long before Friday morning's catastrophe which ended in 45 deaths and more than 150 injured, as of press time.

Former comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss had said that the site was not equipped to handle the vast crowds, that law enforcement lacked the capability to limit the numbers to reasonable levels and that there were poor safety measures in place to prevent such an event from occurring. In addition, current comptroller Matanyahu Englman said his office has been tracking the issue and may initiate a more comprehensive probe given the extent of the tragedy.

Lindenstrauss’ 2008 report had warned of “dangers to human life” at the Rashbi [Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai] compound at Mount Meron because there was no single authority taking responsibility as the event’s point-person.

Later, in 2011, another report said, “The existing situation must be immediately changed — including ending the abandonment and harm to the holy place,” as well as treating the important national and religious site with disrespect.
Hezbollah supporters, pro-Palestinian social media celebrate Meron deaths
While in Israel people stood in long lines to donate blood after the tragedy on Lag Ba’omer, uniting Arabs and Jews who both mourned the victims, there were media in the region and anti-Israel voices that celebrated the deaths. While it is difficult to quantify all the hatred against Israel, it was clear that some Arabic language media reported the dead as “settlers,” while others included a large number of comments supporting the fatalities.

Among supporters of Hezbollah, for instance, there were tweets supporting the tragedy. “More than 20 terrorist murderers occupying Palestine dead,” wrote one account. The same account, with more than 2,000 followers, mocked the idea that the victims were civilians and posted a photo of an Orthodox Jews crowd at Meron, calling them a “terrified terrorist mob.”

“We are celebrating the deaths of Zionists,” wrote another pro-Palestinian account that has more than 3,000 followers. Another account with 24,000 followers approved and called for stabbings, asking God to “increase this night of hell fire.” Another Lebanese account put a heart over a photo of the dead from Meron, signaling support for their deaths. This type of reply was common.

Another account replied that they were happy to hear Israelis had waited for minutes trying to reach their dead children. “Sitting on their phones for half a minute, God is great, praise be to God.” The term “God is great” or “Allahu Akbar,” while it can be used as a way to honor God, is also said by Jihadist extremists during terror attacks when celebrating the murder of the innocent. Twitter appeared to take no action against those celebrating the deaths or subsequent tweets celebrating a “sacred stabbing” attack.
Elliott Abrams Launches Group to Chart GOP Foreign Policy
The debate over what, exactly, a Republican foreign policy should look like began with the fallout from the Iraq war. It gained steam with the GOP's 2016 nomination of Donald Trump, who spurned many of what had once been core GOP foreign policy principles, and was a throughline of his presidency.

We didn't get many answers. Now, a new organization aims to define the contours of a foreign policy vision for the post-Trump GOP that unites American internationalists across the political spectrum. Named after former senator and cold warrior Arthur Vandenberg (R., Mich.), the Vandenberg Coalition will advocate a platform of conservative internationalism—characterized by a strong military, maintaining alliances, and fair trade, all of which the coalition's leaders believe counter U.S. adversaries, keep the country safe, and protect the interests of working Americans.

"There is a great tradition of Republican and conservative internationalism that starts with Arthur Vandenberg and goes right on through Eisenhower, Nixon, Ford, Reagan, and right on to today, but it was divided in 2016," said Elliott Abrams, the chairman of the group. "Some of us were ‘Never Trumpers,' and many of us were in the administration. We thought this coalition should reunite now because we were divided over Trump, but we were not divided over policy: over China, Iran, Russia, or the defense budget. Now is the time to get this started, and we've had a terrific reaction."

Trump's inchoate foreign policy views divided conservatives throughout his presidency. The former president faced internal pushback for attempting to withdraw from Afghanistan and abandoning Kurdish allies in Syria and elsewhere. Many erstwhile Republicans also took offense to the president's eagerness to cozy up to autocratic strongmen like North Korea's Kim Jong-un and Russia's Vladimir Putin. Others found much to like in the confrontational tack he adopted toward Iran and China and his historic support for the State of Israel.

The Vandenberg Coalition's board of directors and advisory board include former Trump administration national security adviser H.R. McMaster and deputy national security adviser Matt Pottinger, as well as prominent anti-Trumpers Eric Edelman and Peter Feaver, both signatories of a 2016 letter arguing that Trump posed a threat to national security.
Biden Picks Soros BDS Activist as Asst Secretary for Human Rights
When Airbnb began boycotting the homes of Jews living in those parts of Israel claimed by Islamic terrorists, the Jewish communities of the United States rallied against the dot com.

Sarah Margon however stood against the Jewish communities and with the Airbnb boycott.

“Airbnb to remove listings in Israeli settlements of occupied West Bank. Thanks @Airbnb for showing some good leadership here. Other companies should follow suit,” she tweeted.

“Airbnb is playing a role by supporting the settlement real estate infrastructure — they’re perpetuating an illegal activity,” Margon ranted. “There is no way for a company…to do business in the settlements without violating the laws of occupation.”

That’s the woman Biden picked as his Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor.

"Yesterday @Airbnb agreed to stop renting in the Israeli-occupied settlements," Margon argued. "Other companies should follow @Airbnb's lead."

BDS will now have a powerful ally within the Biden administration and the State Department.

Margon’s hatred for Israel was not surprising. The leftist extremist was heading up the Human Rights Watch office in Washington D.C. HRW has defended BDS and recently issued a report falsely accusing Israel of apartheid. Airbnb’s temporary surrender to BDS was an HRW project.

Indonesian Navy Chief Thanks Israeli Sailors for Sympathy After Fatal Loss of Submarine
The president of Israel’s association of retired submariners exchanged letters of condolence with the chief of staff of the Indonesian navy following the loss of an Indonesian submarine with all hands onboard.

The KRI Nanggala-4o2 sank at some point on or slightly before April 21, and after a massive search, debris from the submarine was discovered on April 24, followed by further discoveries of pieces of the wreck. All 53 sailors aboard the ship were lost.

Eran Cicurel, the foreign editor for Israeli public broadcaster Kan, tweeted copies of the letters on Thursday. In a letter to Admiral Yudo Margono, Chief of Staff of the Indonesian Navy, Cap. (ret.) Eyal Ben-Zion, president of Dolphin-Israeli Submariner Association, wrote, “The Dolphin Association that represents all Israeli submariners, extends its deepest sympathy and condolences to the Indonesian submarine force and families of those lost aboard the submarine.”

Noting Israel’s loss of the submarine Dakar in 1968, Ben-Zion said, “thus we are well aware of what such an occurrence means to the family and friends of the submariners onboard, and indeed to the entire Indonesian navy.”
Palestinian tries to stab cop, soldier in W. Bank, is shot and hurt, police say
A Palestinian man tried to carry out a stabbing attack in the West Bank, and was seriously injured when he was shot by an officer on the scene, police said Friday.

The incident came amid rising tensions over the postponement of the Palestinian elections, as well as unrest surrounding the holy month of Ramadan.

A spokesperson for the police said the suspect was walking quickly toward an officer and an Israel Defense Force soldier while holding a broken glass shard near the Efrat junction, south of Bethlehem.

Police said the suspect was told to stop but continued walking in the direction of the officers.

“The police officer responded by firing and neutralizing the terrorist,” the spokesperson said.

No Israeli soldiers or civilians were injured in the attack.

Medics treated the suspect on the scene before taking him to the Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem in serious condition, suffering from multiple gunshot wounds.

Tensions in Jerusalem, specifically around its Old City, were high in recent days after police prevented people from congregating outside Damascus Gate during Ramadan, which critics said was an inflammatory move that obstructed a long-held tradition of gathering at the site during the holy month. Authorities later canceled the policy.

Friday Sermon by Miami Imam: We Will Take Palestine Back and Live in the Israeli Settlements

Canceling election, Nakba Day and Ramadan could cause eruption - analysis
Lt.-Col. (Res.) Alon Eviatar, an expert on Palestinian affairs and a former adviser to the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), said that Hamas would not stay silent if Abbas decides to cancel the vote.

“Hamas has something in its hand,” said Eviatar. “It had the election, which it was supposed to gain from, and it lost it. In such a case, Hamas is holding an asset – the threat [to carry out violence]. It will have to do something in order to compromise over what it lost. It could fire rockets, and then present itself as the hero, in comparison with the Palestinian Authority and Abbas, which will look like the losers in this situation.

“On the other hand, it could also try to squeeze benefits from the Egyptians and the Israelis, things like restoring the discourse around freeing prisoners, economic relief, opening the passageways, and things of that nature.”

Eviatar said he believes that both sides have an interest in the situation remaining calm, but such an eventful month could become a turning point.

Eviatar mentions two red lines that Israel needs to keep an eye on in order to prevent an escalation.

“The first red line is casualties,” he said, implying that violent riots at Damascus Gate or on the border with Gaza could cause a chain reaction that leads to riots throughout the country.

“The other red line is friction between Jews and Arabs, situations in which you have Lahava on one side and Arabs on the other.”

Eviatar’s remarks portray a clear image: Israel’s security forces should pay great attention to what’s happening in the streets.

The event at Damascus Gate were a perfect example: protests over metal fences that blocked stairs led to rockets in Gaza.

Planning and thinking ahead, asserting dominance, and avoiding such situations during the upcoming month are crucial if things are to end without major incident.
Abbas delays first Palestinian elections in 15 years, blaming Israel
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Thursday night announced that the first Palestinian national elections in 15 years would be indefinitely delayed.

The vote would be postponed until Israel agreed to allow East Jerusalem Palestinians to participate, Abbas told a conference of senior Palestinian officials. The decision was widely interpreted to mean the elections will not be held at all in the foreseeable future.

“We have decided to delay the legislative elections until the participation of Jerusalem [residents] is ensured,” Abbas said in a statement following the meeting.

Observers, however, argued that the true rationale was the infighting in Abbas’s Fatah movement and its unpopularity, which raised the specter of defeat to rivals both inside Fatah — such as Marwan Barghouti and Mohammed Dahlan — and outside it, such as Hamas. Israel has not publicly taken a position on the question of Palestinians voting in East Jerusalem, where it claims sovereignty.

The Palestinians had been scheduled to vote for the Palestinian Legislative Council on May 22, for the first time since 2006. A presidential election was set to follow on July 31, for the first time since 2005.

Many Palestinians had hoped that the elections would allow for a new series of leaders to emerge in Palestinian politics, which is dominated by aging veterans.
Why Abbas Does Not Want Elections
The violence erupted for one single reason: hatred for Israel and Jews. It erupted because many Muslims do not want to see Jews in Jerusalem or any part of Israel.

Attacks on Israeli security forces and Jews in Jerusalem have been taking place for decades -- with or without a "reason".

The call to murder Jews ("Oh Jews, remember Khaybar; the army of [prophet] Mohammed is returning") is a reminder that today, for many, this war from the seventh century is not over.

Israel never said it would prevent PA elections from taking place in Jerusalem.... Israel said nothing.

The overwhelming majority of Jerusalem Arabs have not shown the slightest interest in, or enthusiasm for, the upcoming Palestinian elections.... It seems, in fact, that the United Nations and European Union officials were more interested in Abbas's planned elections than most of the Arab residents of Jerusalem.... Abbas evidently announced the elections only to appease his Western donors.

In the past he used to accuse his Hamas rivals; now he is casting around, trying to blame Israel for "obstructing" the elections.

Abbas's attempt to hold the Israeli government responsible for not holding Palestinian elections is simply the result of his and the PA leadership's ongoing, vicious incitement to violence against Israel and the demonization of Jews.

It is this type of deliberate and constant race-baiting that is driving young Arabs in Jerusalem to take to the streets to attack policemen and Jewish civilians, and to whip up Jew-hate among the Palestinians.

BBC News produces first report on Palestinian elections
Three months after Mahmoud Abbas issued a presidential decree ordering elections for the first time in fifteen years, the BBC finally got round to producing its first report on that topic on April 24th.

That perhaps explains why readers of the article by the BBC Jerusalem bureau’s Tom Bateman which appeared on the BBC News website’s ‘Middle East’ page – “Palestinian election: Leaders face reckoning as rare vote looms” – are wrongly told that:
“The parliamentary and presidential polls were announced last year by the ageing Palestinian leader after days of talks with other parties in Cairo.”

Bateman’s article opens with an interview with one of the contenders on Fatah’s list.
“It was the Middle East war of June 1967 and Israeli troops were about to capture East Jerusalem from Arab armies. Fighting had erupted outside her family home in the neighbourhood of Silwan.”

Predictably, Bateman’s account does not include the fact that Jordan had invaded and occupied the eastern part of Jerusalem 19 years earlier and no mention is made of the fact that the Israeli prime minister at the time sent a message to the Jordanian king stating that Israel would not engage in hostilities unless Jordan attacked first – which it did
PMW: Arab “traitors” selling land to Jews must be pursued until they “go to hell” - official PA daily columnist
As part of the PA’s recent outcry over Arabs in the Silwan neighborhood of ‎Jerusalem selling property to Jews, the official PA daily published an op-ed that laid ‎out severe measures to “take revenge” on Arab land sellers. ‎

Describing the “illegal transfer of property” as “betrayal of the homeland” and ‎‎“treason,” Omar Hilmi Al-Ghoul, a regular columnist for the paper, suggested ‎making a blacklist of the “collaborators” to be distributed “even in kindergartens” in ‎order to “incite against” the land sellers. He also advocated that families renounce ‎any members selling land to “Zionists” and cited the PA’s religious ruling that land ‎sellers must be excommunicated and no longer considered members of the Islamic ‎faith.‎

Headline: “The illegal transfer of property –betrayal of the homeland”‎

“Betraying the homeland is a curse that will pursue the one who commits ‎it to the end of his days, in this world and the next. It cannot be swallowed, ‎justified, or covered up – whoever becomes entangled in [treason] is a ‎criminal, heretic, and is cursed until judgment day…‎
Grey Wolves pose danger for minorities in Germany, Jewish advocacy group warns
A recent study drafted by a leading global Jewish advocacy organization has warned that the Grey Wolves, the far-right Ülkücü movement, which enjoys a well-organized structure in Turkey, pose a danger for minority groups in Germany, with more than 18,000 followers.

The Grey Wolves are seen as the militant wing of the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), an ally of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), and their ideology is mainly based on Turkish nationalism. Therefore, Kurds and other minorities in Turkey have occasionally been their targets.

The study released on Tuesday by the Berlin office of the American Jewish Committee (AJC) argued that the Grey Wolves were dangerous for minority groups in Germany such as Jews, Kurds, Alevis and Armenians since their ideology is based on anti-Semitism, racism and hatred of minorities.

Titled “Türkischer Rechtsextremismus in Deutschland – Die Grauen Wölfe” (Turkish Right-wing Extremism in Germany – The Grey Wolves) and written by social scientist Kemal Bozay, the study said it had focused on the history, ideology and structure of the Grey Wolves with the aim of initiating a broader social debate on the group, urging the state and security authorities to ban associations linked to them in Germany.

In reference to the MHP’s influence in the Turkish government, Bozay stated that it wasn’t acceptable for Erdoğan’s administration to try to exploit people living in Germany, whether citizens or not, for their goals. The influence of the Turkish government in Germany can be ended, or at least limited, Bozay argued.

Our Warplanes Can Reach Iran, Israeli Minister Warns Amid Nuclear Talks
An Israeli cabinet minister sharpened his country’s warnings against what it would deem a bad new nuclear deal between Iran and world powers, saying war with Tehran would be sure to follow.

As President Joe Biden explores a possible US return to the 2015 deal to contain Iran’s nuclear program that his predecessor Donald Trump abandoned, Israel has stepped up calls for more sweeping curbs to be imposed on sensitive Iranian technologies and projects.

Iran, which this week resumed indirect talks with US envoys in Vienna on reversing its retaliatory violations of the deal in exchange for the removal of sanctions reimposed by Trump, has ruled out any further limitations on Iranian actions.

Reiterating Israel’s position that it does not consider itself bound by the diplomacy, Intelligence Minister Eli Cohen said: “A bad deal will send the region spiraling into war.”

“Anyone seeking short-term benefits should be mindful of the longer-term,” he told Reuters. “Israel will not allow Iran to attain nuclear arms. Iran has no immunity anywhere. Our planes can reach everywhere in the Middle East — and certainly Iran.”

Iran says its nuclear ambitions are peaceful.

Cohen said that in addition to denying Iran the means of enriching uranium and developing ballistic missiles, world powers should make it stop “destabilizing other countries” and funding militants.
Biden and Obama Previously Defended Non-Nuclear Sanctions on Iran
White House Publication: The Iran Nuclear Deal: What You Need to Know about the JCPOA
“Further, we will continue to aggressively enforce sanctions against Iran’s support for terrorism, human rights abuses, missile program, and destabilizing activities in the region. […]

“The United States will maintain sanctions on the IRGC, the Qods Force, its leadership, and its entire network of front companies – and the JCPOA has no effect on those sanctions whatsoever. […]

“Authorities will remain in place to allow the U.S. government to target Iran’s support for terrorism. For example, Executive Order 13224, a broad terrorism authority that has been used to designate approximately 50 Iranian linked targets, would be retained under the JCPOA. Targets that will remain designated include Iran’s Mahan Air, Bank Saderat, and the IRGC-Qods Force. We will also continue aggressively employing this authority against Iran-sponsored terrorist groups such as Hizballah. […]

“The U.S. sees Iran clearly for what it is: the world’s foremost state sponsor of terrorism; a supporter of terrorist groups such as Hizballah and Hamas; a backer of the Asad regime’s brutality in Syria; and a force for instability in Yemen. That is why, regardless of whether or not there is a deal, we will maintain and continue to aggressively enforce our sanctions against Iran’s support for terrorism, human rights abuses, and destabilizing activities in the region. And, if Iran intensifies these efforts, we – along with our partners – will combat Iran’s interventions.” (July 2015)21

Ultimately, the United States cannot halt Tehran’s malign behavior if Iran faces no economic consequences for it, along with other suitable forms of pressure. Biden should make clear that his views have not changed since 2015, and rebuff Iranian demands for non-nuclear sanctions relief. In so doing, Washington can increase the costs of Iran’s ballistic missile program, human rights abuses, and support for terrorism, while preserving a key bipartisan component of U.S. policy toward Iran.
Iran seeks tech in Sweden for nuclear weapons - Swedish intel. report
Sweden’s Security Service disclosed in its 2020 intelligence report that the Islamic Republic of Iran seeks Swedish technology for its nuclear weapons program, The Jerusalem Post can reveal.

Iran, China and Russia are Sweden’s biggest security threats, according to the report.

A damning section states that “Iran also conducts industrial espionage, which is mainly targeted against Swedish hi-tech industry and Swedish products, which can be used in nuclear weapons programs. Iran is investing heavy resources in this area and some of the resources are used in Sweden.”

The revelations about Iran’s illicit nuclear weapons procurement activities in Sweden comes on the heels of a German intelligence document, which declared last week that Iran’s regime has not ceased its drive to obtain weapons of mass destruction during 2020.

The Swedish and German intelligence documents might add new glitches to the US calculus to rejoin the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the formal name for the Iran nuclear deal.

The US is indirectly negotiating with Iran’s regime in Vienna about reentering the accord, which permits Iran’s regime, according to critics, to enrich uranium for an atomic weapon within ten years.

Ruthie Blum: John Kerry’s anti-Israel stance speaks for itself - opinion
Perhaps even more telling is his interview with Goldberg in The Atlantic on August 5, 2015, three weeks after Iran and the P5+1 powers reached the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the nuclear agreement. In view of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s serious efforts against the JCPOA, in light of Tehran’s flagrant violations of it from the minute that it was adopted and taking into account the Biden administration’s rush to enter into another deal with the devil, the following excerpts are chilling.

“Do you believe that Iranian leaders sincerely seek the elimination of the Jewish state?” asked Goldberg.

Kerry replied, “I think they have a fundamental ideological confrontation with Israel at this particular moment. Whether or not that translates into active steps to, quote, ‘Wipe it,’ you know... ”

“Off the map,” said Goldberg, finishing Kerry’s sentence.

“I don’t know the answer to that,” Kerry said. “I haven’t seen anything that says to me they’ve got 80,000 rockets in Hezbollah pointed at Israel, and any number of choices could have been made. They didn’t make the bomb when they had enough material for 10 to 12. They’ve signed on to an agreement where they say they’ll never try and make one, and we have a mechanism in place where we can prove that. So I don’t want to get locked into that debate. I think it’s a waste of time here.”

Later on, Kerry stressed, “Let me put this in very precise terms. Look, I’ve gone through this backwards and forwards a hundred times and I’m telling you, this deal is as pro-Israel, as pro-Israel’s security, as it gets. And I believe that just saying no to this is, in fact, reckless.”

IN AN ANALYSIS on Tuesday, Jerusalem Post diplomatic correspondent and senior contributing editor Lahav Harkov noted that though there are plenty of reasons to criticize Kerry, “he probably doesn’t deserve the wrath he’s attracting” over the leaked tape. Rather, she argued, “It’s Zarif and his smooth-talking to cover for Iran’s genocidal regime that deserve our ire.”

Harkov’s point about Zarif is spot on. She may also be right about Kerry. But responsibility for his not being given the benefit of the doubt lies squarely on his own shoulders.
Leaked Zarif Tape Repudiates Iran’s Narrative of ‘Moderates’ vs. ‘Hardliners’
The leaked audiotape of Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif revealed that the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps has enormous power, while the so-called more “moderate” leaders have none (Iran’s FM Claims John Kerry Revealed 200 Covert Israeli Ops Against Iran in Syria).

Zarif said he had “zero” influence over the country’s foreign policy, reported Reuters.

American policy is predicated on the assumption that Iranian “moderates” need to be strengthened, said Harold Rhode, a longtime former adviser on Islamic affairs in the U.S. Defense Department of Defense. Still, the leaked recordings demonstrate that “this has been an illusion and that all power rests with Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.”

“Everywhere, American policymakers look for ‘moderates,’ which they define as those who are prepared to ‘compromise’ with America,” said Rhode.

Regarding Iran, he said, there are no moderates. The leaked recordings demonstrate that “this has been an illusion, and that all power rests with [Supreme Leader] Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, whom we call an extremist.”

The IRGC that Zarif spoke about is part of the “hardliner” camp that Khamenei directs.
Zarif Had No Knowledge of Israeli Strikes Until Kerry Told Him, Translation Reveals
This revelation is likely to heighten calls for Kerry to resign from his current post as the Biden administration's climate envoy.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R., Texas), who is spearheading efforts to pressure Kerry into resigning, said, "If this tape is verified, it would signal catastrophic and disqualifying recklessness by Envoy Kerry to Foreign Minister Zarif that endangered the safety of Americans and our allies."

"John Kerry must resign immediately," Rep. Jim Banks (R., Ind.), a member of the House Armed Services Committee, told the Free Beacon earlier this week. "The investigation should be retrospective."

Reps. Lee Zeldin (R., N.Y.), Andy Barr (R., Ky.), and Ann Wagner (R., Mo.), all members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, wrote to the State Department's inspector general on Wednesday to demand an investigation into Kerry.

"The State Department must investigate the massively alarming allegations that John Kerry leaked information to Iran on covert Israeli military operations. If it's proven that Kerry actively undermined one of America's staunchest allies, he needs to resign from the Biden administration immediately and have his security clearance revoked," Zeldin said in a statement.
Former Israeli ambassadors say Kerry’s history of conflict with Israel lends weight to Iranian accusation
What really upset Oren, he said, and Israeli officials during the Iran nuclear deal negotiations was the existence of secret backchannel negotiations between the United States and Iran through Oman.

“These negotiations were conducted under the auspices of Kerry. … Israel was being assured repeatedly, every week, that no backchannel, no secret negotiation was going on with Iran when, in fact, there were,” he said.

The existence of these negotiations became public in November 2013, a month after Oren was no longer ambassador. Oren said that the seriousness of what he called a “betrayal” was such that had he still been the ambassador, he would have seriously considered resigning.

“The point is that Kerry presided over negotiations that were conducted behind Israel’s back on an issue vital to Israel’s security, if not its survival. And deliberately misled us about them,” he said.

“We took it very seriously,” emphasized Oren.

After all, he said, the United States is “our No. 1 ally,” and it was “negotiating behind our back with our No. 1 enemy.” Israeli settlements may be an issue, he said, but Iran is “a matter of national survival for this country.”
Reports of Kerry Disclosure to Zarif on Israeli Strikes ‘Disturbing,’ Says Algemeiner Editor-in-Chief
Efune said Tuesday that even if Iran had already known about the Israeli strikes, the alleged conversation speaks to “a much larger and worrying, disturbing attitude” among some members of the Obama and Biden administrations with respect to Israeli national security interests.

“They have to recognize — even if they have a different worldview and a different perspective of what can can be achieved with talks and diplomacy with the Iranian regime — [that] the Iranian regime is an enemy, Israel is an ally, and they can never forget that dynamic,” Efune said.

“And the way that they are interacting with and treating and maintaining dialogue between those two countries, and two interested parties has to reflect that. If it does not reflect that, then something is very, very wrong with how things are being conducted by this administration in the Middle East,” he continued.

On Thursday, a semi-official Iranian news agency reported that the Islamic Republic imposed travel bans on 15 people over alleged involvement in the leak of the recording.

The tape — in which Zarif said he had “zero” influence over Iranian foreign policy and complained about the power of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) — has caused controversy in the country, with some lawmakers calling for the foreign minister to resign. In the recording, Zarif appeared surprised to learn of the information from Kerry rather than directly from the IRGC.

“It’s important to publicly telegraph to all of the players in the region, and give the Israelis the confidence, that the United States is going to act in a way that is responsible for an allied power,” Efune commented.

He said Israel needed to feel that intelligence information shared with the US was “not going to compromise their security in any way, and is not going to end up in the hands of not just a different allied country, but an enemy — the greatest enemy that the Jewish state faces in the region and that the western world is contending with in the region.”
Iranian-Backed ‘Al Quds Day’ Anti-Zionist Hatefest Canceled for Second Year Running in Berlin
The annual “Al Quds Day” march and rally calling for the violent elimination of the State of Israel will not take place in Berlin next month for the second year running, police in the German capital confirmed on Thursday.

Sponsored by the Iranian regime, the annual event is staged in Tehran and several other cities, and prominently features the flag of Hezbollah, Iran’s proxy Shi’a terrorist organization in Lebanon, which is banned in Germany and other European nations.

The newspaper Der Taggespiegel quoted Michael Fischer — the head of the Office for the Protection of the Constitution in the State of Berlin — telling local politicians earlier this month that there had been no mobilization for this year’s march, but warning that it may take place online instead.

Holger Krestel — spokesman for legal affairs and constitutional protection for the liberal FDP Party in the Berlin House of Representatives — welcomed the march’s cancelation. “As a result, Berlin has escaped political damage this time,” Krestel said on Thursday. “Of course, it would be even more welcome if the organizers would stop their activities in Berlin all year round and permanently.”

The news of the march’s cancelation follows the demand lodged by Krestel and other Berlin politicians earlier this month for the police to prevent it from taking place.
Firestorm After UN Watch Reveals Iran Elected to UN Women’s Rights Commission
UN Watch’s exclusive report exposing Iran’s election to the UN’s Commission on the Status of Women has sparked a global firestorm. Lawmakers demanded answers and challenged their foreign ministries in the Dutch parliament, the Canadian parliament, the British parliament and the Norwegian parliament, along with questions asked in France, Germany and Switzerland.

Major media coverage worldwide of UN Watch’s report included stories in France’s Le Figaro, Belgium’s La Libre, the Netherlands’s Telegraaf, Voice of America, the UK’s Daily Mail, Germany’s Bild, Brazil’s Gazeta do Povo, Scotland’s The National, Sky News Australia, Norway’s Netavissen, Sweden’s Göteborgs-Posten, and Venezuela’s El Nacional.

Many other journalists, including correspondents and editors from CNN and BBC, shared UN Watch’s report on social media.
US balks at condemning Iran’s election to UN women’s commission

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