Tuesday, May 04, 2021

From Ian:

Ruthie Blum: Mt. Meron and Israel's paradoxical nature
On Saturday night, as Tel Aviv's City Hall lit up with the image of the Israeli flag to commemorate the dozens killed and 150 injured in the crowd-crush two nights earlier on Mount Meron, Israelis of all backgrounds came together to light yahrzeit (memorial) candles.

Some of the people present at Rabin Square that evening, like others around the country, configurated tea lights in the shape of the numeral 45 – the number of people trampled to death during the Lag B'Omer celebrations.

The outpouring of nationwide grief over the victims and empathy with their families was not unusual in a state sadly accustomed to burying citizens who are, by all measures, too young to die. Nor was it novel for Israel's Kan Radio to play sad music, out of respect for the gravity of the hour.

The same can be said of the public's lining up in droves, and for hours on end in sweltering heat, to donate blood for the treatment of those still in the hospital. Though less frequent an occurrence, the offer by Israel's national carrier, El Al, of free passage for anyone from abroad needing to pay their last respects or provide bedside comfort to loved ones was also not surprising.

Even the fact that Arab villagers from the Meron area in the north rallied to help their Jewish brethren in distress – distributing free food and drink to survivors – wasn't totally out of the ordinary.

But all of the above has been noteworthy nevertheless, due to the identity of the casualties. All were ultra-Orthodox Jews who had made a pilgrimage to the gravesite of second-century sage Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai to dance around the holiday's traditional bonfire – hosted, as it happened, by the Jerusalem-based, anti-Zionist sect, Toldot Aharon.

Throughout the past year, since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, already strained relations between the Haredim and secular Israeli society have been particularly fraught. Indeed, COVID-19 is one force majeure that hasn't been a unifying factor in the way that other shared traumatic experiences have been, due in large part to its dragged-out duration.
Jpost Editorial: After Meron, violence, Israel needs a government now - editorial
If anyone still harbors any lingering doubts about why Israel must not go to a fifth election, but rather form a stable, workable government as soon as possible, the events of the last two weeks should put those doubts to rest.

What happened two weeks ago? Clashes began in Jerusalem between Arabs and Jews, exacerbated by a protest by a group of racist Jews, that then led to terrorists from Gaza firing rockets into Israel.

That was followed by Thursday night’s horror in Meron, and no less than three terror attacks on Sunday, including a shooting attack at the Tapuah Junction that left one yeshiva student in life-threatening condition, another in serious condition, and a third with light injuries.

Why should any of that convince people of the need for a strong government and not spin the wheel on a fifth election? Because these incidents show that while Israeli politicians are fiddling around, things out there in the real world are happening.

The world continues to spin. But while it spins, Israel is unable to prepare or respond as it should because its leaders are otherwise engaged. The recent uptick in violence and Palestinian terror came as no great surprise. First, the Muslim month of Ramadan has for years been a period of increased violence in Israel.
From Israel: Are We “Judaizing” Jerusalem??
The amusement is fleeting, however, for there is nothing funny about the Arabs’ motivation in making this charge: They are seeking to delegitimize the Jewish claim to Jerusalem, and, more extensively, to Israel.

When I wrote my last posting, I said I would return to consider other reasons why Israel needs a strong right-wing government without delay. And this, my friends, is one significant reason. We need leaders who are clear on our rights and ready to stand on them. For, just as anti-Semitism is increasing world-wide, so is anti-Zionism, the flip side of the same ugly coin.

The Palestinian Arabs and their supporters may be virulently hostile, but they are not stupid. They know that Jerusalem and Har Habayit (the Temple Mount) are an essential element of our claim to the Land.

Our claim is based on international law.
We have just celebrated the 101st anniversary of the San Remo Conference: At the end of WWI, Great Britain, France, Italy, and Japan – with the United States as a neutral observer, came together for the Conference in San Remo, Italy, under the auspices of the League of Nations. They met to determine the allocation of Middle Eastern lands that had been part of the defeated Ottoman Empire. Borders were drawn that defined Mandate territories. These were to be governed temporarily by either Great Britain or France, and would receive independence within a relatively short period of time.

The Mandate for Palestine was given to Great Britain, which was charged with establishing it as a Jewish homeland.

The decision made at San Remo was then officially confirmed in a unanimous vote of the League of Nations (51 nations) on June 24, 1922. Thus was the Jewish right to the land established in international law; that law still stands. Jerusalem, it should be noted, was within the area defined by the Mandate as a Jewish homeland.

Our claim is also based on heritage and history.
Incorporated into the San Remo Resolution regarding the Mandate for Palestine was the Balfour Declaration – a 1917 letter from the British Foreign Secretary declaring the government’s sympathy with Zionist aspirations and endorsing establishment of a Jewish homeland in Palestine.

The text of the Mandate for Palestine as passed by the League of Nations additionally said this:
“…recognition has thereby been given to the historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine and to the grounds for reconstituting their national home in that country.”

This is huge. The fifty-one nations of the world belonging to the League of Nations all signed on to a document recognizing the Jewish historical connection to Palestine. (See the full list here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Member_states_of_the_League_of_Nations)

The US was not a member of the League of Nations, but the Lodge-Fish Resolution, passed by both houses of Congress on June 22, 1922 (before the League of Nations voted), endorsed the Mandate for Palestine; it was then signed by President Warren Harding.

Israel Allies Caucus legislators support Israel against ICC probe
Knesset Member Sharren Haskel (New Hope), who chairs the Knesset Christian Allies Caucus, thanked the parliamentarians for their vocal and bold support for Israel against the ICC investigation.

“The ICC was created in order to protect humanity from the worst forms of evil, but instead they are attempting to harm Israel’s safety and security," said Haskel. "The fact that Hamas, a terror organization, has praised the ICC investigation, shows that this investigation is not about advancing peace but simply about delegitimizing Israel."

Professor Eugene Kontorovich, Director of the International Law Department at the Kohelet Policy Forum, addressed the parliamentarians and elaborated upon the illegal and unprecedented actions of the ICC.

"In the history of international law, no court has ever done what the ICC is trying to do - prosecute people for the crime of living somewhere. But their action is so lawless, that a growing number of countries and lawmakers are rejecting its investigation as illegitimate -something that has not happened with any other ICC action," he said.

President of the Israel Allies Foundation Josh Reinstein said “I want to thank the Israel Allies parliamentarians for working to increase awareness of the anti-Israel bias inherent in this investigation. Through the work of the Israel Allies Foundation, we are able to unite like-minded parliamentarians from countries throughout the world, proving that they are not lone voices but rather one large global network whose faith-based support for Israel is unbreakable.”
J Street is the go-to Israel-focused US NGO? God help us! - opinion
Ironically, progressivism in that sense greatly resembles the Enlightenment that set the stage for the eventual rejection and demonization of the Jews in Europe.

Let’s be honest: The progressive deck is irretrievably stacked against Israel. Does that mean that Israel cannot and does not listen to the concerns of others, Jews and non-Jews, outside its borders? No, of course not, we can always be more sensitive.

I would submit though that any and every move toward the progressive agenda will engender more severe and dire demands. And that is because progressivism is an ideology demanding purity of action in which the ideal will inevitably become the enemy of the good.

So, finally, let’s consider what implementing J Street’s demands would look like. Maintaining the toxic status quo, as they would put it, would yield to an Oslo-like delusional situation that would empower genocidal Palestinian elements, weaken Israeli defenses and resolve, and result in chaos and warfare.

We know this. We are not ignorant of it. If we are guilty of playing chess, and looking three or four moves down the road, then so be it. At the end of the day, J Street is using the State of Israel as cannon fodder for an increasingly uphill battle to have Jews remain ideologically acceptable, despite their white privilege, in the escalating nightmare that is progressive America.

We here in Israel are rooting for our brethren in the US. What we are not willing to do is to make ourselves into the sacrificial offerings that might allow, however temporarily, progressive American Jews to keep their membership intact in a toxic club.
Netanyahu’s Deadline to Form Government Set to Expire, No Sign of Progress
A deadline for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to form a new government was set to expire at midnight in Israel with no sign on Tuesday that the country’s longest-serving leader could break more than two years of political deadlock.

There was also no guarantee that, should the right-wing leader fail to assemble a new coalition, parties outside his caretaker government could bridge political differences and unseat him.

Netanyahu, 71, has been in office since 2009 and also served for three years in the 1990s. He has been fighting for his political life through four inconclusive elections since 2019 and is on trial for criminal corruption charges he denies.

If Netanyahu fails to pull off any last-minute surprise by midnight, President Reuven Rivlin can assign the coalition-building task to another member of parliament. That is widely expected to be Yair Lapid, 57, whose centrist Yesh Atid party placed second to Netanyahu’s Likud in the March 23 vote.

Netanyahu’s bloc of right-wing and Jewish religious parties failed to win a majority, but nor did a camp aiming to oust him, which would have to include his right-wing rivals as well as traditional left-wing and centrist opponents.

Both sides have courted the support of parties representing Israel’s around 20% Arab minority, potentially giving them say over a cabinet for the first time in decades.
Man to Bedouin cop who rescued son at Meron: You saved my child, saved the world
A man was reunited on Monday with the police officer who saved him and his son last week at Mount Meron when the officer paid a visit to their Bnei Brak home, where they were mourning a second son who was killed in the tragedy.

Avigdor Hayut told Rami Alwan that he wanted to thank him from the bottom of his heart for saving his child, paraphrasing the Talmudic phrase that “he who saves a life, saves the world.”

“Rami did not ask me what party I belong to, what stream [of Judaism] I belong to, or if I am a Bedouin or an Arab. Rami saved us,” said Hayut.

“Anyone who saves a soul in Israel, it is as if they saved the whole world. Rami, you saved my child, and for me you saved the whole world,” he said.

Hayut recalled the moment amid all the chaos when Alwan found him and managed to rescue his son Shmuel.

“I was on the floor with all the mass of people who were on top of us. My son was to my right and my eldest son was a few meters from us,” Hayut said. “I saw Alwan and he shouted at me: ‘Give me a hand, I’m pulling you out.’ But I told him: ‘Save the boy.'”

Israeli Soccer Player in Spanish League Dedicates Goal to 45 Mount Meron Victims
Israeli soccer player Shon Weissman, who plays for the Spanish team Real Valladolid, dedicated his goal during a game on Sunday to the 45 people who died in the Mount Meron tragedy on April 30.

Real Valladolid went up against Real Betis at the Jose Zorrilla stadium in Spain and almost 10 minutes into the game, Weissman scored a goal. While his teammates celebrated the goal, Weissman gestured with his fingers the numbers 4 and 5 and pointed toward the sky. He held up the numbers a few times, while facing the camera and then the fans in the stadium.

Weissman said in a statement that was shared by the Israel Football Association: “Since I heard about the disaster, I didn’t know how I could face coming back to the field with this terrible feeling. I wanted to raise awareness and show respect in memory of the perished in every possible way — if it is a black ribbon or any other symbol. When I scored against Betis the most spontaneous reaction for me [was] — to show 45 with my fingers and not to celebrate. May their memory be a blessing.”
Amid fear of further unrest, Temple Mount said closed to Jews indefinitely
Fearing fresh outbreaks of violence in Jerusalem, police have closed the Temple Mount to Jews until further notice, Hebrew media reported Tuesday.

The move comes as Muslims celebrate the month-long Ramadan holiday, which often sees increased tensions around the Old City and the Temple Mount site, including this year.

Police were said to have informed Jewish groups organizing Temple Mount visits of the closure.

However, according to the reports, Jews will be allowed into the site on Jerusalem Day next Monday.

The Temple Mount is the holiest place in Judaism, as the site of the biblical Temples. It is the site of the third holiest shrine in Islam, the Al-Aqsa Mosque. Israel captured the Temple Mount and Jerusalem’s Old City in the 1967 Six Day War, and extended sovereignty throughout Jerusalem. However, it allowed the Jordanian Waqf to continue to maintain religious authority atop the mount, where Jews are allowed to visit under numerous restrictions, but not to pray.

The Palestinian leadership has a long history of attempting to rally its public in response to alleged Israeli infringements on Muslim sovereignty in the flashpoint compound. Official Palestinian Authority media often shows visits by religious Jews to the site, which it deems “settler invasions.”
East Jerusalem man indicted for slapping Haredi Jews on light rail, filming it
State prosecutors filed an indictment Tuesday against a 17-year-old Palestinian resident of East Jerusalem who was filmed violently slapping a pair of ultra-Orthodox passengers on the city’s light rail last month in a clip that went viral on social media along with several similar ones, and contributed to boiling ethnic tensions in the capital.

The suspect was charged with racially motivated assault and invasion of privacy in the indictment, filed at the Jerusalem Juvenile Court.

According to the charge sheet, the defendant sought out the two victims due to their Jewish religious appearance and decided to attack them because of it.

He was on the train with six of his friends and when it arrived at the Shuafat station, he approached the two victims and slapped them both in the face while one of his peers filmed the altercation.

The two ultra-Orthodox young men suffered mild injuries, and one of them had his glasses broken.

The defendant then shared the video with several of his friends, one of whom posted it to the TikTok social media site with the Arabic caption, “You will continue to delete and I will continue to upload. It’s either the Palestinian people or you.”

Upon filing the indictment, the prosecution also filed a motion to extend the travel restrictions that have been placed on the defendant since his release last month.
Coronavirus: Number of serious patients in Israel drops below 100
The number of serious coronavirus patients in Israel has dropped below 100, the Health Ministry reported on Tuesday, as the government approved new guidelines for the venues which function under the green pass outline, allowing them to resume full operation with no further restriction.

At the beginning of April, there were over 300 serious patients and at the peak of the pandemic in January the figure stood at 1,200 for several days.

The last time Israel registered such a lower number of patients – 90 compared to the current 93 – was July 6, 2020. The following day, the figure spiked to 113 and from there it rapidly climbed.

“We are very pleased with this result,” Tomer Lotan, executive director and policy chief at the national coronavirus taskforce, told The Jerusalem Post. “We feel that in the past few months we have found the correct way to lead the country, not only in terms of the vaccination efforts, but also in all the aspects that accompanies them, the green pass outline and other policies.”

For the past week, Israel has registered less than 100 new cases per day. The rate of tests returning a positive result has remained stable between 0.1 and 0.3 for several days. During the peak of the three pandemic waves that invested the country the figure exceeded 10%.
IDF says it downed two Hezbollah drones in recent weeks
Hezbollah made multiple attempts to breach Israeli airspace using drones in recent months. In January, a Hezbollah drone was monitored by the IDF and subsequently shot down when it entered Israeli airspace.

Although the IDF has seemingly been able to defend its northern airspace, Hezbollah has achieved some limited success. In Dec. 2020, Hezbollah-affiliated al-Manar published a video of several IDF military bases that were reportedly taken by a drone launched by Hezbollah. FDD’s Long War Journal could not confirm if the drone had entered Israeli airspace.

Additionally, Hezbollah has been able to shoot down some IDF drones that entered Lebanese airspace. In February, Hezbollah’s Central War Media outlet published a video of an IDF drone brought down in the Marjeyoun district of southern Lebanon.

In a more serious incident, Hezbollah fired anti-aircraft missiles at an IDF Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) on Feb. 3. According to an IDF statement, the missiles missed the UAV and it was able to continue on its mission.

Israel routinely uses Lebanese airspace to monitor Hezbollah activity and launch airstrikes against Iranian weapon shipments in Syria. This policy is likely to continue as it has shown to be successful at keeping Israeli jet fighters relatively safe from Syrian air defense. Furthermore, Hezbollah will likely continue its attempts to penetrate Israeli airspace as its own drone program continues to develop.
Security forces arrest suspects in Samaria attack, shooter still at large
In a predawn operation Tuesday, IDF forces, Shin Bet security agency personnel, and members of the Israel Police counter-terrorism unit entered a West Bank village and arrested several Palestinians suspected of aiding Sunday's drive-by shooting at Tapuach Junction.

The suspects were taken in for questioning by the Shin Bet security agency.

"IDF troops apprehended a number of suspects in the Judea and Samaria region. In addition, the vehicle suspected of being used by the terrorists to carry out the terror attack was confiscated. The suspects and the vehicle were transferred to security forces," the IDF noted in a statement.

On Monday, security forces located the vehicle suspected of being used in the attack near the village of Akraba. Soldiers clashes with local residents, who set fire to the vehicle before it was seized by the IDF.

As of Tuesday afternoon, the search for the shooter was still underway. According to Channel 12 News, he is a Hamas member from Akraba.

On Tuesday, two of the three victims of the attack were still hospitalized at Rabin Medical Center in Petah Tikva: Yehuda Guetta of Jerusalem, was still in critical condition with a head wound as of Tuesday morning; and Benaya Peretz from Beit Shean, who was listed in serious condition with a back wound.

A third victim, Amichai Hala from Safed, has been released from the hospital.
Palestinians torch vehicle used in shooting attack as IDF arrives to seize it
The vehicle that is believed to have been used in a drive-by shooting attack at a northern West Bank junction leaving three Israelis wounded was found outside a nearby Palestinian village on Monday.

Photos of the car began circulating on Palestinian social media showing that it was hit by at least two bullets, one of which shattered the back windshield and the other hit the trunk door. That matched the claims by soldiers at the scene, who said they returned fire at the vehicle after the driver shot and gravely wounded two Israeli teenagers, and a third lightly.

Shortly after the spotting of the vehicle outside the town of Aqraba, Israel Defense Forces troops arrived at the scene in order to confiscate the evidence. Clashes subsequently broke out between the soldiers and Palestinian locals, who managed to set the van alight before it was seized by the troops.

Channel 12 reported that the security establishment believes the grey Hyundai belongs to a Hamas member who lives in Aqraba and that forces will be able to track down the suspect in the coming day.
Clashes Reported Between IDF Soldiers and Residents of West Bank Town Where Tapuah Junction Terrorist’s Car Found
Clashes between IDF soldiers and residents of a West Bank town were reported Monday as the manhunt continued for the terrorist behind Sunday’s drive-by shooting at Tapuah Junction that left three yeshiva students wounded, two of them seriously.

N12 reported that the clashes took place after the vehicle driven by the terrorist was found in the town of Aqraba near Nablus in the northern West Bank.

When IDF soldiers entered the village, they were met with violence from town residents, says N12, citing Palestinian media reports.

Palestinian news agency Maan reported that the terrorist’s car was found by local residents, who set the car on fire before Israeli troops arrived in eight military vehicles.

Israel’s Channel 13 reported that, concerned about further terror attacks, the IDF decided to beef up combat forces in its Judea and Samaria Division.

Visiting the scene of Sunday’s attack, IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi said this decision was taken “as part of (the IDF’s) readiness for escalation.”

The initial results of the ongoing investigation have led security forces to believe that the terrorist acted alone in a “lone wolf” attack, and that he fired ten bullets in total at five or more civilians waiting at the Junction.
Fatah Defends Terror Attack, Calls on Locals to Erase Security Camera Evidence
A branch of Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah faction on Sunday called on Palestinians to delete security camera footage to thwart attempts by Israeli forces to apprehend those responsible for the drive-by shooting in Samaria earlier that day.

According to the non-profit Israeli research institute Palestinian Media Watch, in a post on its official Facebook page within hours of the attack, Fatah’s Nablus branch wrote: “Our lauded people, honored members of our people, we call on you to get rid of the contents that were stored in the [security] cameras of your homes or your businesses today, and not to transfer any media content among yourselves that the occupation [i.e., Israel] is spreading.”

They added: “We salute you and your struggle” before signing off: “The Fatah Movement, Nablus branch.”

PMW: Just days before 3 terror attacks: Abbas advisor tells Palestinians to fight Israel, even to death – “this is what Islam wants of you!”
Just days before three terror attacks against Israel, a top PA religious official and advisor to PA Chairman Abbas implicitly urged Palestinians to continue “to fight” Israel - even if they get killed in the process because “this is what Islam wants!”

Palestinian Media Watch has shown that the PA has described the ongoing Arab riots in Jerusalem as being a “response” to alleged Israeli “aggressions.” Among these purported “aggressions,” the PA has listed the fact that Israel won’t allow PA elections to be held in Jerusalem. Another excuse for the violent riots is Israel's alleged plot to destroy the Al-Aqsa Mosque, and Israel's claimed “attack” on Jerusalem and plan to Judaize it and erase all of Arab and Christian history in it.

This weekend the terror reached a higher level. Two terror attacks with knives were foiled by the Israeli army, but on Sunday a Palestinian terrorist fired on teenagers waiting in a bus stop injuring three, two of them critically.

The terror attacks follow a lesson on Islam which official PA TV broadcast last week. Abbas’ advisor on Religious Affairs and Islamic Relations Mahmoud Al-Habbash taught viewers that if someone “attacks” them or their “homeland” or “holy sites,” Islam demands that they “fight” – even if it means getting killed - in which case the rioters will “go to Paradise,” and the attacker – i.e., Israelis – will “go to hell”:

Abbas’ Advisor on Religious Affairs and Islamic Relations Mahmoud Al-Habbash: “Islam does not want you to be submissive to others, it wants you to be powerful, ruling, strong, dignified, proud of yourself, defending your territory…
[A man] said: ‘O Messenger of Allah! What if someone fights me?’ [Muhammad] said: “Fight him!” If he wants to fight you, to use weapons against you, defend yourself! Don’t be a coward! Don't be fearful! Don’t be submissive! … [The man] said: ‘And what if he kills me?’… You [were killed] while defending your money, while defending your home, your homeland, your family, your rights. [Muhammad would say:] ‘You’ll go to Paradise’… ‘What is your opinion if I kill him?’ … [Muhammad:] “He’ll go to hell because he is an oppressor, because he attacks.” You’ll go to Paradise because you are oppressed and because you are defending yourself. Defend yourself! This is what Islam wants of you! This is what Islam strives for you to be: Defending yourself, your homeland, your family, your people, your nation, your religion, your holy sites, your money… Everyone who fights you – you are required to fight him … You must respond to the aggression and be brave. This is what Islam wants of us.”

[Official PA TV, Allah’s Messenger Muhammad, April 26, 2021]

Biden’s ‘open door’ to the Palestinian Authority
The Biden administration is contemplating reopening the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) mission in Washington and restoring direct aid to the Palestinian Authority (PA), both previously shut down by the Trump administration. However, instead of diving headfirst into another diplomatic dead-end with the PA/PLO, President Joe Biden should attach real and substantial conditions to any reopening. It is worth examining the fraught history of the PLO mission in Washington. The State Department shut down the “Palestine Information Office” in October 1987 in response to the PLO’s involvement with various acts of terror. Just two months after the closure, Congress passed the Anti-Terrorism Act of 1987, which, among other things, declared the PLO to be a terrorist organization and prohibited the opening of PLO facilities on US soil.

According to the legislation, “the PLO and its affiliates are a terrorist organization and a threat to the interests of the US, its allies and to international law, and should not benefit from operating in the US.” Despite the ban, Congress allowed for the president to issue a waiver on his own accord, which every president since the 1993 Oslo Accords did, save for Donald Trump.

Now, more than three decades after Congress enshrined the PLO’s terrorist label into law, it has re-emerged in political consciousness as Biden mulls whether to take the plunge and reopen the PLO mission. In issuing the waiver, each president has had to wrestle with what Congress has declared to be statutorily true and relevant, and what the president himself believes to be diplomatically important. A decision to reopen the mission will amount to a reversal from his predecessor (as opposed to a continuation of the status quo). And let it be clear, unlike the restoration of aid to the Palestinians, there is no humanitarian justification for reopening this mission — it is purely a political choice.

In a message released last weekend, PA President Mahmoud Abbas asked that this law be repealed. Privately, however, he is reportedly also concerned about another US law, the Alien Tort Claims Act, which could hold the PLO responsible for terrorist damages if it resumes a presence in American jurisdiction — unlike its existing UN mission, which has immunity under other laws.
Palestinian journalist detained after calling Abbas at home
A Palestinian journalist who phoned Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas at home to complain about his firing from Palestine TV has been detained by the Palestinian security forces.

The journalist, Hassan al-Najjar, who works as a news director at the studios of Palestine TV in Ramallah, has been in detention since he made the unique phone call to Abbas’s home more than three weeks ago.

Najjar’s father, Thabet, told The Jerusalem Post his 33-year-old son was being held in a detention facility in Ramallah.

“My son has been in prison for more than 25 days,” he said. “This is real injustice. What crime did he commit?”

His son called Abbas on his private home phone to complain against his “arbitrary dismissal” from Palestine TV, he said.

“My son worked for Palestine TV for nine years,” he told the Post. “About four years ago, a dispute erupted between him and Ahmed Assaf, the director-general of the Palestinian Broadcasting Corporation. Assaf accused my son of bad-mouthing him and punished him by relocating him to the Palestine TV offices in [the northern West Bank city of] Kalkilya. Assaf and some of his associates have also filed defamation lawsuits against my son to get rid of him.”

John Bolton: The Zarif tape shows why Biden should abandon reviving the Iran nuclear deal
If Israel is pounding Iranian and allied units in Syria, it is hardly a secret to the Quds Force. The real news is that it was a secret to Iran’s foreign minister, and likely therefore his subordinates responsible for nuclear diplomacy. The killing of Soleimani with a U.S. drone strike in Baghdad in January 2020, while an enormous blow to Iran, does not change the picture. If anything, Soleimani’s demise simply reinforced the IRGC ethos that it alone can protect the 1979 revolution.

The extent of internal deception in Iran shows that its “commitments” on nuclear issues are inherently unbelievable and untrustworthy. It is easier to disseminate diplomatic untruths when an envoy believes that what he is saying is true. Flat-out lying is harder to mask. The ready solution for authoritarians is simply to conceal key facts from diplomats doing the negotiations. No one should find this surprising. Even in Washington, there is hardly seamless cooperation between the Defense and State departments.

With Tehran, we do not face a government where “trust, but verify” makes sense. We have no basis for “trust” in the first place, let alone confidence that verification measures can detect active Iranian violation and concealment.

Advocates of the 2015 nuclear deal tout its “enhanced” verification mechanisms used by the International Atomic Energy Agency, but these are grossly ineffectual. Iran has long stonewalled IAEA inspections and declared key facilities off limits, which alone makes a mockery of reliance on its efforts.

The United States’ real insurance is not international monitoring, but its own intelligence capabilities. IAEA’s total operational budget in this area is roughly 0.6 percent of current U.S. intelligence spending of approximately $85 billion. If our intelligence is inadequate, it is hardly credible to think that the IAEA will safeguard us from Iranian nuclear violations.

The Zarif tape tells us much about Tehran’s diplomatic mendacity. Unfortunately, however, the Biden administration is still incomprehensibly piling up broad beans for Zarif and his nuclear negotiators.
Iran Teases Attack on US Capitol Building as Biden Admin Prepares To Lift Sanctions
Iran released a provocative new video over the weekend that depicts its military forces blowing up the United States Capitol building, a threat that comes as the Biden administration inches closer to providing Tehran with billions of dollars in economic sanctions relief.

The video debuted Sunday on Iranian state-controlled television before Iranian supreme leader Ali Khamenei delivered remarks, in which he praised the country’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, the paramilitary force that has killed Americans, and celebrated IRGC leader Qassem Soleimani, who was killed in a drone strike by the former Trump administration.

In the video clip, armed IRGC forces are seen marching before the U.S. Capitol’s famous dome explodes. It also shows Iranian forces marching on Jerusalem.

The video and Khamenei’s remarks come as the Biden administration engages in diplomacy with Iran aimed at inking a revamped nuclear deal. The administration is reportedly prepared to lift crippling sanctions on Iran’s banks, diplomats, and oil trade, signaling that Washington is desperate to entice Iran into accepting a deal that would only partially unwind its growing nuclear program.

Republicans in Congress accuse the Biden administration of relieving pressure on Iran at a time when it could topple the hardline regime and empower democratic reformers in the country. They also view the latest IRGC video as a sign that Iran’s regime will never moderate its anti-American and anti-Western rhetoric.

Blinken faults Iran for taking ‘American hostages’ as hawks see ransom payments coming
Secretary of State Antony Blinken condemned Iran’s imprisonment of several Americans amid a swirl of now-disputed rumors that U.S. and British officials were nearing a deal to pay the regime billions to release a handful of people.

“I have no higher priority than bringing arbitrarily detained Americans, American hostages, home to the United States,” Blinken said after a meeting with British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab. “And as Dominic said, the reports coming out of Tehran are not accurate. We are very closely engaged ourselves on this issue, and we’ll remain so. And as I said, I am determined to bring every American home.”

Iran has seized British and American citizens alike, claiming they are subject to legitimate criminal charges — an allegation that Blinken dismissed implicitly by choosing to use the term “hostages.” However, the cases are being discussed in different terms as British officials are explicit that Tehran is using a British national as a bargaining chip to pressure London to pay millions, stemming from a historic dispute, while Iranian officials are careful to claim that they are not using American citizens as a lever for sanctions relief — to the chagrin of Iran hawks who fear that a de facto ransom payment is in the offing.

“If the past is prologue, we should anticipate some kind of unacknowledged deal to pay Iran for the release of American hostages alongside the return to JCPOA,” former White House National Security Council official Richard Goldberg, who worked on Iran issues in former President Donald Trump’s administration, told the Washington Examiner. “There might be a shortage of pallets around due to the pandemic, but they'll find a way to pay the mullahs' extortion racket.”
Iran: Any Sanctions Relief Will be Used Against Americans
Iran's economy is state-led. Significant parts of the economy are controlled by just two major entities: the Office of the Supreme Leader, led by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).... The IRGC and its front companies have a stake in almost every sector of Iran's economy such as construction, transportation, telecommunication, banking and insurance....

The Supreme Leader and the IRGC will be the first beneficiaries of any extra revenues; they will most likely use additional cash first to strengthen their military apparatuses and guarantee the survival of the Islamic Republic and their positions in it. Increased revenues would also allow the IRGC and the Supreme Leader to crack down more easily on any domestic unrest against their government.

The other priority of the regime is to export its revolutionary ideals to other countries....promoting the regime's interests and ideology -- including anti-Americanism and anti-Semitism.

The billions of dollars that Iran will gain from the Biden Administration's potential sanctions relief will be directed towards sponsoring terrorism, funding and arming militia and terror groups across the Middle East, harming US national and security interests, undermining US allies, particularly in the Middle East, further advancing the regime's clandestine nuclear program to obtain nuclear weapons, and suppressing the Iranian people by squashing their hopes of establishing a democracy there.

Is this what the Biden Administration really wants as its legacy?
Dutch intel proves Iran sought weapons of mass destruction tech in 2020
A damning new report authored by the Netherland’s General Intelligence and Security Service (AIVD) asserts that the Islamic Republic of Iran attempted to obtain technology in 2020 for weapons of mass destruction.

The Dutch intelligence document, which was published in April, says the security service "investigated networks that tried to obtain the knowledge and materials to develop weapons of mass destruction. Multiple acquisition attempts have been frustrated by the intervention of the services.”

According to the Dutch report, "The joint Counter-Proliferation Unit [UCP] of the AIVD and the MIVD [the country’s Military Intelligence and Security Service] is investigating how countries try to obtain the knowledge and goods they need to make weapons of mass destruction. Countries such as Syria, Pakistan, Iran and North Korea also tried to acquire such goods and technology in Europe and the Netherlands last year."

The AIVD "conducts investigations, provides information and mobilizes third parties to safeguard the democratic legal order and national security to actively reduce risks and to contribute to foreign policy-making."

The Netherlands’ MIVD and AIVD intelligence services, according to the report, "conducted intensive research into several very active networks that are involved in proliferation and use various third parties in European countries. Consequently, export licenses were verified and acquisition attempts frustrated.”
Senior Swiss diplomat in Iran found dead after fall from high-rise
The first secretary at the Swiss embassy in Tehran was found dead on Tuesday after falling from a high-rise building where she lived in the north of the city, a spokesman for emergency services was quoted as saying by Iranian news agencies.

The Swiss foreign ministry (FDFA) said an employee at its embassy in Iran had died of an accident, without identifying the victim. "The FDFA and its head Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis are shocked by the tragic death and express their deepest condolences to the family," it said. Iranian emergency services spokesman Mojtaba Khaledi said the diplomat's body was found by a gardener after an employee who arrived at her apartment early on Tuesday noticed she was missing, the news agency Fars reported.

"This person was the first secretary of the Swiss embassy," Khaledi told Mehr news agency. "The cause of her fall has yet to be determined," he told Fars.

The diplomat was 51, the semi-official news agency ISNA reported. Other reports put her age at 52.

Seth Frantzman: Iran says it wants peace with Saudis, but sends Houthi drones instead
What is Iran’s strategy now that discussions of an Iran-Saudi Arabia warming of relations have become well known?

First, it is interesting that while Turkey’s regime has been pretending it wants reconciliation with Saudi Arabia and Egypt, the real substantive discussion may involve the kingdom and Iran. That is because Turkey can be more of a threat to Saudi Arabia’s leadership role in the region, while Iran is an antagonist that might be quieted by discussions.

Second, what is important to know is that Iran has acknowledged the discussions with Saudi Arabia – at the same time that Iran’s media brags of more Houthi attacks on Saudi Arabia using drones.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif even met with the Houthis. He is on a regional “Ramadan trip” to shore up support for the Islamic Republic. His other goal is ostensibly to make it seem like Iran is pushing stability and a kind of “Pax Irana” in the region.
Democracies Pressed to Reveal How They Voted After Iran Elected to UN Gender Equality Body
Advocates for Iranian women’s rights on Monday slammed the regime’s recent election onto a U.N. gender equality body, and challenged democracies who took part in the secret ballot vote in New York to make their voting record public.

They said elevating Iran onto the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) was an travesty, at a time when women are serving lengthy prison terms for the “crime” of removing their hijab – longer sentences than a man would get for cutting off his daughter’s head in an “honor” killing – and when women on death row are raped by prison guards in a bid to prevent them from going to heaven after their execution.

“If what could reasonably be called the world’s most sexist regime belongs on a U.N. commission devoted to the elimination of sexism, what is the U.N. good for exactly?” asked Iran-born pro-democracy campaigner Mariam Memarsadeghi, a senior fellow at the Ottawa-based public policy think tank Macdonald-Laurier Institute (MLI).

Memarsadeghi also challenged feminists in western countries for their silence.

Security forces in Hodeidah seize 786 UNICEF schoolbags bearing the name of “Israel” instead of Palestine
Yemen has rejected a proposed UNICEF assistance of 786 school bags containing maps bearing the name “Israel” instead of Palestine.

The security services in Hodeidah port seized these bags yesterday, which the organisation was seeking to distribute to students in the Hodeidah governorate.

The inspection of the products was carried out with the presence of the director of security of the province Colonel Hadi al-Kahlani, and the director of the branch of the Supreme Council for Humanitarian Affairs, Jaber al-Razhi. The bags were rejected and UNICEF informed of the need to get these shipments back.

Al-Razhi explained that it is not the first time that such bags have been seized, as many quantities have already been received in the past.

He pointed out that these actions and activities carried out by these organisations in the name of providing assistance to the Yemeni people are considered as provocative.

“It comes within a framework that serves the agendas of the forces of evil and global arrogance, America and Israel, and in an attempt to pass on the culture of normalization with the occupier onto our children”, he added


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Elder of Ziyon - حـكـيـم صـهـيـون

This blog may be a labor of love for me, but it takes a lot of effort, time and money. For over 14 years and 30,000 articles I have been providing accurate, original news that would have remained unnoticed. I've written hundreds of scoops and sometimes my reporting ends up making a real difference. I appreciate any donations you can give to keep this blog going.


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