Thursday, May 06, 2021

From Ian:

Shin Bet: Palestinian terror group stole millions from European aid donors
The Shin Bet security service on Thursday accused the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine of pilfering millions of euros from European aid organizations and governments to fund terrorist activities.

The Shin Bet in recent weeks arrested a number of those suspected of involvement and said that indictments against them would be filed shortly, including against a woman with Spanish citizenship, Juani Rishmawi.

In light of the investigation, the Foreign Ministry met with European diplomats in Israel and sent Israeli diplomats in Europe to meet with representatives of their host governments to ask them to refrain from donating to Palestinian non-governmental organizations linked to the PFLP.

“During these conversations, the representatives of the Israeli Foreign Ministry explained to the European diplomats the severity with which Israel sees these issues and presented them with the findings of the investigation, including proof that European government funds went to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, which is recognized in Europe as a terrorist organization,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

According to the security service, the PFLP used its health organization, the Health Work Committee, to defraud various Europe organizations and countries of millions of euros over the course of several years.

“PFLP institutions deceived aid organizations in Europe through a number of methods – reporting on fictitious projects, transferring false documents, forging and inflating invoices, diverting tenders, forging documents and bank signatures, reporting inflated salaries, and more,” the Shin Bet said in a statement.


Douglas J. Feith: Perverse Incentives Discourage Palestinian Leaders from Making Peace
Successive Israeli governments have been willing to make reasonable compromises for peace. The actual problem is the ideological inflexibility of the Palestinians and the corruption of their leaders. Those of Hamas are notoriously extremist. This is why progress toward peace requires empowerment of a new Palestinian leadership.

The world incentivizes Palestinian leaders to perpetuate the conflict with Israel. Because they are widely celebrated as embodying an important, as-yet-unfulfilled national cause, those leaders are granted extraordinary diplomatic attention and generous financial aid, much of which they divert improperly for the huge houses they have built for themselves in Ramallah and Gaza. Were they to settle the conflict, reducing themselves to mere functionaries in a state in poor condition, they would lose much international solicitude and money.

Israel's new friends in the Arab world have an interest in changing the economic and political landscape of Palestinian politics. They may be able to empower Palestinians who are not enmeshed in the perverse incentive system that requires perpetuation of the conflict against Israel. Therein lies the best hope for progress toward peace. If the Biden team has its eye on the prize, it will direct its energies not at recreating the old "peace process" but at working with Arab states to encourage the rise of new Palestinian leaders.


Amb. Alan Baker: U.S. Acknowledgment of the Armenian Genocide: Implications for Current Genocidal Threats
The recent formal recognition by President Biden of the genocide of one-and-a-half million Armenians by the Ottoman Turks in 1915-1923 corrects a century-old historic anomaly by acknowledging a factual situation that, due to political pressure from Turkey, had been deliberately ignored or overlooked over the years.

By the same moral and historical logic that brought the U.S. to finally recognize the Armenian genocide, one might expect similar acknowledgment of the officially-stated genocidal intentions voiced by senior Iranian politicians and military commanders against Israel. The 1948 UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide determined that incitement to genocide is a crime under international law.

There cannot exist a double standard that, on the one hand, acknowledges and condemns past occurrences of genocide, while, on the other hand, overlooks, ignores, downgrades and sidelines genuine, ongoing threats by the Iranian leadership to destroy the State of Israel.
Nitsana Darshan-Leitner on Fighting the International Criminal Court's Crusade against Israel
Darshan-Leitner said Israel's objection is justified, as "nobody actually owns Judea and Samaria." In World War I, the British took over the land from the Ottoman Empire, but only with a mandate to administer the territories. When the mandate ended 25 years later, the British departed, and the Arabs and Jews fought over the land in Israel's Independence War, which ended in 1948 with a ceasefire but no resolved border. Jordan moved to annex the land it occupied to the west of the Jordan, ergo "the West Bank," but this was unrecognized by other countries, save for Pakistan and Great Britain, which did so for political reasons. In 1967, after Israel seized Judea and Samaria from Jordan, still no one "owned it." The land is considered "disputed," but not occupied.

The ICC does not accept Israel's position, and Darshan-Leitner expects that the ICC will judge the entire West Bank and East Jerusalem as being occupied.

Shurat HaDin has chosen a roundabout strategy of contesting the ICC's treatment of the matter by working to bring a "working complaint" against Turkey's occupation of Northern Cyprus, which everyone agrees is occupied, and in which Ankara has incentivized Turks to settle – an undeniable violation of Section 49. Darshan-Leitner expects the ICC to avoid acting against Turkey's occupation because "Turkey is too dear to NATO, too dear to Europe, [and] nobody wants to deal with [Turkish President Recep Tayyip] Erdoğan." The ICC will likely determine that this dispute is "not under its jurisdiction" and defer to the parties to resolve the Turkish-Northern Cyprus dispute. This, in turn, will strengthen objections to the ICC ruling any differently with respect to Israeli actions in the disputed West Bank.

In order to appear "balanced," Bensouda paired her decision to open an investigation of Israel with a decision to investigate Hamas. However, the ICC will not be investigating the PA, the instigator of this entire process. In hopes of changing that, Shurat HaDin will continue to petition the court for indictments relating to the PA's "pay-to-slay" policy, as there are legal precedents for considering "incitement to terrorism" a "crime against humanity" that encourages genocide. "We're going to flood the court with evidence of the victims from the Israeli side ... [and] show the court who are the real war criminals."

At the end of the day, Darshan-Leitner expects that the ICC investigation will lead its prosecutor to issue indictments and arrest warrants against Israeli officials and military officers. They "will not be safe traveling around the world," because the 128 member states of the ICC will be obligated to honor the warrants. "If the court continues with this investigation, it will be a game changer."

This is what fuels Darshan-Leitner's determination to fight the investigation. "We have to fight it because we are a sovereign state and we want to live safely in our borders ... and no international tribunal [will ever] determine the rights of the Jewish people to its own country."
185 Israeli Scientists, Intellectuals, Israel Prize Laureates, Tell Hague ICC: Don’t Trust Our Government
More than 180 Israelis, including 10 Israel Prize laureates, 35 professors, senior reserve officers, writers, intellectuals, left-wing activists, and researchers, on Thursday sent a letter to Fatou Bensouda, the Gambian Chief Prosecutor of the Hague Tribunal (until June 15), warning her not to believe the Israeli authorities regarding the investigation of war crimes.

“We wish to express at this early stage our deepest suspicion, based on past experience, that the State of Israel, including its investigative and legal institutions, do not intend to seriously investigate complaints about war crimes,” the letter says (the text here is a translation from the Hebrew version). “Our suspicion is supported by a very large number of documented cases which allegedly relate to war crimes committed by Israel in the Occupied Territories in complete violation of international law. Most of these cases were not investigated at all, and a few of them ended in acquittal following a superficial and inappropriate investigation.”

“The numerous acts of discrimination, severe restrictions on freedom of movement, expropriation of Palestinian land for Israeli settlements, arbitrary collective punishments, unjustified arrests including long-term administrative detention and illegal incarceration in prisons outside the Occupied Territories, repeated invasions of private homes and villages, extensive damage to homes and other vital structures, denial of access to basic necessities such as water, denial of residential permits, denial of access to Palestinian privately owned fields and pastures, and the serious failure of military courts to provide even a semblance of justice,” the letter continues.

The signatories would like to help the prosecutor, saying, “Many of us are in contact with human rights organizations and activists operating in Israel and Palestine, and the extensive documentation in their possession may contribute to the work of the International Criminal Court.”

The signatories conclude: “Unfortunately, despite the image of Israel as a state that maintains a professional and worthy legal system, the reality paints a different picture – difficult, discriminatory and outrageous. The law imposed on the Occupied Territories and the manner in which it is implemented by the Israeli law enforcement and security authorities in effect allow for ongoing moral injustice and alleged war crimes.”
Australia won’t go to anti-Israel Durban Conference, prime minister says
Australia will not participate in the 20th anniversary events for the World Conference Against Racism in Durban, in which Israel was singled out for opprobrium, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Thursday.

“We will not associate Australia with one-sided and contentious language that singles out Israel or [with] an event that champions such language,” Morrison said at an event of the Australia-Israel Chamber of Commerce in Melbourne. “This is entirely consistent with my government’s very strong voting position on UN General Assembly resolutions, in the Human Rights Council and elsewhere. We will continue that same approach to Durban IV later this year.”

In October 2020, Australia's representative told the UN Human Rights Council that Canberra "does not support the Durban Declaration and Program of Action. It represents a missed opportunity. Instead of achieving a consensus document, which could be embraced by all states – the kind of consensus document befitting such an important cause as fighting racism – the World Conference Against Racism, and the subsequent Durban Review Conference, were misused by a handful of states to serve an anti-Israel agenda. The Durban Declaration is tainted by this unconscionable bias.

"Racism is a problem throughout the world and yet Israel is the only country mentioned in the Program of Action," Australia's statement read. "Singling out Israel in this way is not helpful, and does nothing to achieve the Durban Declaration’s goals. Countries with serious cases to answer are able to avoid accountability and reform for as long as Israel is solely targeted."


Canadian Jewish Groups Urge Government to Disavow Planned Durban IV Events Marking Anniversary of ‘Anti-Jewish Hatefest’
Leading Canadian Jewish groups on Wednesday called on the country’s government to “publicly disavow” events planned for September marking the anniversary of the notorious 2001 Durban Conference, which they called an “antisemitic spectacle.”

“Canada must adhere to its own values and offer a principled ‘no’ to Durban IV and its scourge of antisemitism,” said Michael Mostyn, Chief Executive Officer of B’nai Brith Canada, in a joint statement with Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center (FSWC). “Durban’s legacy is well-known, and Canadians must be certain that our government does not support any commemorations or celebrations of that legacy.”

The United Nations is scheduled to hold a series of Durban events to mark the 20th anniversary of the World Conference on Racism in Durban, South Africa, from which the US and Israel withdrew over objections of antisemitic activity and anti-Israel bias.

On Monday, a US State Department spokesperson confirmed that the United States would stick to past policy and not take part in the planned events, citing its continued concerns over the conference’s use as a “forum for antisemitism.”

“We urge Canada to stand with the United States and set an example for our allies around the world by publicly and unequivocally rejecting Durban and the overt antisemitism that it has always been associated with,” said Jaime Kirzner-Roberts, Director of FSWC, on Wednesday. “In this moment of growing antisemitism, it is more important than ever that Canada stand firm in the face of hateful double standards and the demonization of Jews and of Israel in all international fora.”
The Joshua and Caleb Network: Joe Biden’s Increasing Disregard for Israel
The new US Administration seems to be distancing themselves from Israel more every day. The CDC even had the audacity to issue a travel warning to not travel to Israel or the West Bank due to the COVID pandemic. This is in a time when COVID is almost non-existent in Israel.

Israel is calling it the worst civic tragedy in their entire history. At a large gathering celebrating Lag B’Omer in Israel’s Meron last week, a stampede erupted and 45 people were killed and 150 injured. Israel declared a national day of mourning on this past Sunday, and authorities are now opening investigations into what actually happened.

Terrorism and violence have increased during the typically volatile month of Ramadan. After two separate terror attacks against Jews happened just this week, international media headlines declared: “West Bank Violence - Palestinian woman killed, 2 Israelis wounded”. Want to know what really happened? Find out on today’s episode of the Joshua and Caleb Report.




Critically Injured Student Dies From Wounds in Wake of Tapuah Junction Terror Attack
A student critically injured in a drive-by terror attack carried out earlier this week in the West Bank has died of his wounds.

A spokesperson at Rabin Medical Center said Wednesday evening that 19-year-old Yehuda Guetta died after succumbing to his injuries, which he sustained on Sunday at Tapuah Junction.

Guetta, a resident of the Kiryat Moshe neighborhood of Jerusalem, is survived by his parents, four brothers, and two sisters.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sent his “sincere condolences to Yehuda Guetta’s family” in a statement, adding that the entire country of Israel mourns with them.

The attack also left two other 19-year-olds injured. One of the other victims, Benaya Peretz from Beit She’an, remains in critical condition in the hospital. The third, Amichai Hala from Safed, has already been discharged from the hospital after minor injuries.

Israeli security forces entered a West Bank village during a predawn operation Tuesday and arrested several Palestinians suspected of aiding Sunday’s attack, which has left two dead and another in moderate condition.

Shortly after Guetta passed away, the Shin Bet security agency identified a suspect accused of perpetrating the attack: 44-year-old Muntasir Shalabi from the West Bank village Turmus Ayya.
Israel Apprehends Suspect Accused of Tapuach Junction Attack
Israel’s Shin Ben internal security agency said early Thursday a Palestinian suspect in Sunday’s deadly Tapuah Junction terror attack was caught in the West Bank town of Silwad, northeast of Ramallah.

Security authorities arrested the suspect, identified as 44-year-old Muntasir Shalabi from the village Turmus Ayya, in a raid early Wednesday afternoon.

Shalabi is accused of carrying out a drive-by shooting at Tapuach Junction, a major intersection in the West Bank, along with other Palestinians arrested this week. He is not known to be affiliated with any militant group, according to the Shin Bet.

Israel said it had identified the vehicle used in the attack on Monday in the village of Aqraba, near Nablus in the northern West Bank.

The announcement came shortly after one of the three 19-year-old victims of the attack, Yehuda Guetta of Jerusalem, died of his wounds on Wednesday. Another victim, Benaya Peretz of Beit She’an, is in critical condition at the Rabin Medical Center in Petach Tikva.
Hamas calls Tapuah Junction terrorist 'icon of Palestinian resistance'
Many Palestinians said that they were surprised to hear that the terrorist who carried out the shooting attack at the Tapuah junction earlier this week was a wealthy businessman from the town of Turmus Aiya, north of Ramallah.

Muntaser Shalabi, 44, was arrested on Wednesday night by the IDF just hours after one of the three Israelis injured in the attack, 19-year-old Yehuda Geutta, died of his wounds.

Like many of the residents of Turmus Aiya, Shalabi, a father of seven, was a US citizen. Many of the town residents are based in Chicago, New Jersey, New York and Houston.

“Shalabi is an extraordinary man,” said Palestinian writer Radwan al-Akhras on Twitter. “On the personal level, he is a successful businessman who holds US citizenship; he has a house and children. He left everything behind and went out to carry an operation. Something inside him told him that there is something more precious.”
United Hatzalah Raises $1.3 Million in Sunday Telethon
United Hatzalah of Israel, the largest independent, non-profit, fully volunteer Emergency Medical Service in Israel, held their annual fundraising streaming event, “Saving Lives Sunday” in solidarity and support of its Israeli first response volunteers. The event raised more than $1.3 million (up more than 30% from 2020) in support of its volunteers who were honored in a tribute to their tireless work, especially in reflection of their involvement in the recent tragic event in Israel.

The virtual event featured Jay Leno as the MC, with special guests United Hatzalah chairman and author Mark Gerson, and actress Rona-Lee Shimon (Fauda). It was produced in partnership with Adam Kantor of Broadway fame. Each of the participants shared a heartfelt message saluting the first responders of United Hatzalah. The event also celebrated the first anniversary of founder and president Eli Beer’s return to Israel and paid tribute to the medical personnel of Miami University Hospital who saved his life when he contracted Covid-19 in March 2020.

The event, which was streamed live on YouTube and a special website, drew supporters from around the world.

The telethon demonstrated the pluralism that is part of the fabric of the organization and highlighted the women’s unit that is especially tasked with responding to medical emergencies involving women in the more religious segments of Israeli society, increasing both their comfort level and the level of care that the patients receive.

Guest appearances included dozens of supporters, young and old, as well as people whose lives were saved by volunteer first responders from United Hatzalah. In a truly special tribute, many of those who were saved had a chance to speak directly to their rescuers in conversations that were shared via zoom with those watching.
No deal reached on Sheikh Jarrah eviction dispute; High Court must rule
Four east Jerusalem Palestinian families who are fighting against possible eviction informed the High Court of Justice on Thursday that no deal had been reached between the sides, and that the court would need to rule.

The High Court can either uphold the lower court decisions to evict the Palestinian families in favor of the Nahalat Shimon Company or overturn that decision and allow the Palestinians to stay.

There could be a decision as early as next week.

The Sheikh Jarrah land-ownership dispute has captured the attention of Hamas and the European Union, and has been one of the tinderbox issues in east Jerusalem.

At a High Court hearing on Sunday, Justice Daphne Barak-Erez asked the company and the four Palestinian families to compromise and find a solution, explaining that she believed that the two sides “are not so far apart.”

According to a lawyer representing the families, they had not rejected a potential compromise where the final resolution of the dispute could be postponed by their temporary agreement to pay rent in the meantime.
EU decries Israeli expansion of Har Homa, pending Sheikh Jarrah evictions
The European Union condemned Israel's advancement of a new 540-unit housing project in the Jewish east Jerusalem neighborhood of Har Homa and "urgently" called on Israel to halt the project.

It also took issue with the possible eviction of east Jerusalem Palestinians from homes in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood, a move which is now on appeal before the High Court of Justice. At issue is a property dispute between them and the Nahalat Shimon company over land rights, with past court rulings dismissing their claims.

EU spokesman Peter Stano issued a statement late Wednesday after the District Committee published a decision it reached last week to approve the plan, pending minor modifications. The results of the decision were published by the Israeli left-wing NGO Ir Amim.

The new 540-unit plan would extend the footprint of the neighborhood which sits on the southern edge of Jerusalem near the Palestinian city of Bethlehem. Its opponents fear that it is one of a number of projects in that area that create a wedge between Palestinian neighborhoods of east Jerusalem and Bethlehem, thereby blocking the territorial contiguity of any future Palestinian state with east Jerusalem as its capital.
Gaza incendiary balloons spark 6 fires in southern Israel
At least six brush fires were ignited Thursday in southern Israel by balloons carrying incendiary devices that were launched from the Gaza Strip, the fire department said.

Two of the fires ignited in the Be’eri forest, and another four in the Kissufim forest, two nature reserves located on the border of Israel and Gaza, a spokesperson for the Jewish National Fund said.

Slight damage was caused to a wheat field in one of the fires, a spokesperson for the Eshkol regional council said, confirming that there was no danger to any nearby towns.

The Fire and Rescue Services said as the fires were small and were quickly gotten under control.

In Gaza, the so-called balloon unit, Ibna Al-Zuwari, said it had launched balloon-borne incendiary devices toward Israel.

“This is just the beginning,” the group said in a statement on Thursday.

On Monday, two balloons carrying suspected explosive devices that were apparently launched from the Gaza Strip landed in southern Israel, local authorities said, in the first such attacks in months. The suspected bombs were found in agricultural fields in the community of Kfar Aza, east of Gaza City.


The Video Hezbollah Doesn't Want You to See

IDF carries out attacks on Hezbollah outposts - Syrian reports
The IDF carried out attacks against Hezbollah outposts near Quneitra on the Syrian border Wednesday night, according to Syrian reports cited by Israeli media.

This is the second consecutive night that Syrian media reported an attack by the IDF in Syria.

The IDF disseminated leaflets to the Syrian Armed Forces in Quneitra, warning them not to cooperate with Hezbollah, N12 reported, citing local news.

On Tuesday, an alleged Israeli airstrike targeted a site near Latakia and Tartus along Syria’s Mediterranean coast, according to the Syrian state news agency SANA.

A civilian was killed and six were injured, including a child, according to Syrian media.

The last alleged Israeli airstrikes in Syria were reported late last month after a surface-to-air missile was fired from Syria and exploded near the nuclear reactor in Dimona in southern Israel. The missile was reportedly fired in response to an alleged Israeli strike in Syria.


PMW: Fatah: Palestinians have “a natural right” to murder Israelis
The day after the shooting attack against 3 Israeli teens - one of whom has since died of his wounds - a Fatah official from the party’s Nablus branch called shooting an Israeli teen in the head a “heroic operation” and “a natural right.” Fatah Spokesman in the Nablus District, Kayed Mi’ari, said the attack was a justified response to Israeli “terror,” citing the PA’s repeated claim that Palestinians have a right to use “all means” to fight against Israel. Echoing other Fatah statements, Mi’ari also claimed the shooting attack was a reaction to Israel's refusal to let the PA hold elections in Jerusalem as well as Israel's alleged “Judaization” of Jerusalem.

Terms like “all means,” “all means of resistance,” and “all forms,” are ‎used by PA leaders to include using all types of violence - and even deadly terror -‎against Israeli civilians such as stabbings and shootings, as well as throwing rocks and Molotov Cocktails.

Fatah Spokesman in the Nablus District Kayed Mi’ari: “What we saw yesterday (i.e., shooting attack) is the Palestinian people’s natural right to resist, defend its resources and dignity, and come out against the occupation’s forces and its settler herds… It is the Palestinian people’s natural right to deter this terror and defend itself and its resources with all available means. We think that the Palestinian people is responding to the call of Jerusalem, Jerusalem which is being subjected to a brutal attack … The occupation forces disrupting the Palestinian democratic process in Jerusalem (i.e., Israel's refusal to let the PA hold elections in Jerusalem -Ed.), and all the other things contributed in one way or another… to this heroic operation (i.e., shooting attack) being carried out… Israel… is attempting to harm Jerusalem with various means, and therefore this is a natural response and a natural right that the Palestinian people has realized.”

[Facebook page of the Fatah Movement – Nablus Branch, May 3, 2021]


The three 19-year-old Israeli students, Yehuda Gueta, Benaya Peretz, and Amichai Hala, were wounded by Palestinian terrorist Muntasir Shalabi in a drive-by shooting attack at the Tapuach Junction near Ariel in the northern West Bank on May 2, 2021. Gueta died of his wounds and Peretz was seriously wounded in the attack.

Palestinian Media Watch exposed that after the shooting attack Fatah called on Palestinians to erase evidence of the attack from their security cameras.


PA teaches kids “an incredible and beautiful story” about Arab terrorist who murdered Jews

Abbas’ advisor: “Colonialism created Israel… to serve its colonialist interests”



MEMRI: Iraqi Writer: All Attempts To Reform Islam Have Failed And Are Likely To Continue Failing
In a March 10, 2021 article on the Sawt Al-Iraq website, Iraqi journalist Mahdi Qassem noted that all the efforts of liberal Muslim intellectuals over the years to reform Muslim thought and adapt it to the modern age have failed. Moreover, he said, they often resulted in the assassination of the reformists. He added that future reform attempts are bound to fail as well, because they continue to be met with fierce and violent opposition from the extremists, both Sunni and Shi'ite, who regard their proponents as traitors and Western agents. This extremism, he lamented, is rampant even among young Muslims who grew up and were educated in the West, as reflected by terrible terrorist operations they have carried out. He concluded by promising to reward anyone who managed to reform Islam with "bird's milk" – an idiom for something nonexistent and unobtainable.

The following are excerpts from Qassem's article:[1]
"Every once in a while, attempts to establish enlightenment in Muslim thought, or [at least] to discuss this, come to the fore. [These attempts are] prompted by the violence and terror that have been perpetrated and continue to be perpetrated in the name of Islam, especially based on certain Quranic verses. Such attempts were made and are still being made [with respect to] Salafi ideology, both Sunni and Shi'ite [sic][2], with the aim of ending the ideological stagnation in Muslim thought and opening it up to reform and humanism, so as to adapt it to the spirit of the [modern] age, which is characterized by respect for human dignity and the promise of human rights for all.

"These attempts started in the 1920s and continue to this day. But [they are only] a pale spark of light in a long and dark corridor, because they were met with, and are still met with fierce opposition from the armed guards of the Sunni perception that accuses the other or heresy, as well as from the extremist Khomeinist Shi'ite ideology. [These reformist attempts] often end with the murder of the enlightened reformists, such as intellectuals Hussein Muruwa[3] and Farag Foda.[4] The late [Egyptian] author Naguib Mahfouz [survived] an attempt to stab him to death, while others were forced to hide or flee to the 'infidel West' and beg asylum there.

"I believe that any future attempt [of reform] will fail as well, for Islam is the only religion in the world that resists reform and will never be reformed, neither by force or through a flexible [approach]. Not only because this requires changing [the religion] and omitting many Quranic verses that call for violent jihad and for forceful coercion, but also because the Salafis and their sheikhs believe that any enlightened reform of this kind will empty Islam of its content and essence, and lead to its distortion and annulment, turning it into what they see as a fake religion like Christianity and Judaism.

"These [Salafi] elements regard the enlightened attempts [of reform] as a major objective of Western forces that are completely hostile to Islam, and regard those who engage [in reform] as treasonous agents of these hostile forces, who must be brutally slaughtered and murdered as punishment for their actions against Islam and the Muslims…
Democracies Abetted Iran’s Election to a U.N. Women’s Rights Post
The election of Iran, China, and other countries with delinquent human-rights records to the U.N.’s Commission on the Status of Women last month kicked off an international whodunnit.

According to the NGO U.N. Watch, at least five Western democracies eligible to vote on commission membership would have needed to support Tehran’s bid. Meanwhile, the U.S. government called the development “troubling” but declined to issue a sharper condemnation.

Human-rights advocates blame this ambiguous stance on the Biden administration’s efforts to reenter the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, as ongoing talks in Vienna get closer to producing an agreement to jumpstart the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. “The Biden administration has joined Canada and Europe in a most disciplined reticence to criticize the Islamic Republic’s mounting repression, in the hope that the lack of scrutiny will be seen by the regime as another concession to curb its nuclear program,” said Marian Memarsadeghi, a senior fellow at the Macdonald Laurier Institute.

The problems with Tehran’s participation in any international entity involving women’s equality should be self-evident. At a Monday morning U.N. Watch press conference that focused on Iran’s election to the commission, panelists, including Memarsadeghi and Shaparak Shajarizadeh, an activist who was jailed twice and assaulted for speaking out against Iran’s mandatory hijab law, pointed to Iran’s manifest hostility to women, including the fact that the age of marriage for girls is 13 and that domestic violence and marital rape are not criminally punishable. (Read more on this from Isaac Schorr.)

All of which makes it astounding that Western democracies voted for Iran. But it’s not unprecedented; although Iran wasn’t on the commission when it was elected, it had previously served terms on the body. China was already on the body, and it won an additional term with votes from nine of the 15 Western governments eligible to vote, despite its own abominable record on women’s rights.
Walter Russell Mead (WSJ): Iran's Quest for Regional Superpower Status Is the Major Threat to U.S. Interests in the Middle East
The major threat to U.S. interests in the Middle East is Iran's quest for regional superpower status based on its nuclear program and support for militias and terrorists. America needs oil to flow freely to world markets, the terror threat to stay contained, Israel to remain safe, and for no single power to be able to dominate the Middle East. Iran's drive for regional primacy threatens all of these.

Since 2013, when the talks between the Obama administration and Iran became public, the question of how to manage Tehran's regional and nuclear ambitions has been the most contentious foreign policy issue in U.S. politics. Critics of the Obama approach were right that a weak stance toward Iran creates incentives for aggressive policy in Tehran while driving Israel and its Arab allies toward desperate measures. And Trump critics are right that too rigid an American posture could make the option of an attempted nuclear breakout irresistible to Iran.

Given President Biden's determination to return to some form of the JCPOA, guardedly pursuing negotiations with Tehran while mending fences with allies and strengthening the Arab-Israeli coalition is the most hopeful feasible course. Washington is unlikely to transform Iran into a peaceful and friendly state. Yet focused and determined American policy - aligned with key local allies - can and will frustrate Iranian attempts to overturn the current regional order.
Jonathan Greenblatt: Why Iran poses such a serious threat
As the number one state sponsor of anti-Semitism and a self-proclaimed threat to the survival of Israel, Iran has long been a country of grave concern to ADL. Since 1979, ADL has advocated for the U.S. and the international community to address Iran's belligerent behavior toward Jews around the world, as well as toward the Jewish State and the community of nations as a whole.

We cannot achieve sustainable security if we only "put Iran back in the box," as administration officials describe the objective for current talks.

In addition to its unending propaganda slandering the Jewish people, Iran sponsors terrorism targeting Jewish institutions and communities on every single continent. Its well-documented support for the 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish community center in Buenos Aires is just the tip of the iceberg.

We believe that the only way Tehran will be dissuaded from its menacing conduct will be if the U.S. negotiating team includes such considerations as part of its priorities.

The ADL opposed the JCPOA in 2015 due to the absence of restrictions on Iran's relentless bigotry and violent conduct toward Jewish people, as well as the regime's horrific human rights abuses at home, especially targeting ethnic and religious minorities.

We remain convinced that the JCPOA, as it stands today, is unsustainable as a solution for addressing the full array of Iranian misconduct. Because Iran's nuclear provocations are premised on the same extremist ideology that drives the Iranian government's other violent extremism, the world simply does not have the luxury to grant Tehran a free pass on its incitement of hatred and violence while focusing only on the nuclear issue.
Biden administration ‘dead set’ on re-entering Iran deal, despite high price
[Richard] Goldberg said the capitulations to Iran show desperation on behalf of U.S. negotiators to re-enter the deal, which he believes is fundamentally the wrong approach.

Tehran, he said, can drive up the price, such as demanding more sanctions be lifted than fall under the purview of the nuclear deal, such as the previous administration’s still-in-place sanctions on Iran’s metal industry, construction sector and financial holdings of its leaders.

Iran will also be looking for the United States to remove the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps to be removed from the list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations, which it was added to in 2019.

Even if an agreement was reached to bring Iran back into the nuclear deal, he said it remains questionable whether Iran would actually be in compliance with the deal. The International Atomic Energy Agency is investigating Iran for concealing undeclared nuclear activities and materials, which not only is a breach of the JCPOA, but of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

While there’s not much constituent support for the Iran deal, the Biden administration may just want to get the Iranian threat off the table and concentrate on other parts of its agenda.

To accomplish this, said Goldberg, the United States has to play into Iran’s “racket.”

“Iran extorts the international community through malign activities. There is a dollar amount placed on Iran temporarily suspending some of those activities, and if you pay that dollar amount, you will get some limited temporary change in behavior,” he said. “So you could have a White House that simply wants to kick the can down the road, pay the Iranian racket and make this issue go away for a few months.”
Sen. Lindsey O. Graham and Morgan D. Ortagus: A $90 Billion U.S. Bailout to Tehran Could Undo Years of Progress
Rushing back into the 2015 Iran nuclear deal would lead to chaos and instability in the Middle East. President Biden has inherited a relatively peaceful Middle East marked by historic peace agreements between several Arab countries and Israel after decades. Yet returning the U.S. to a JCPOA 2.0 could reverse positive momentum by destabilizing the peaceful balance of power Biden inherited.

Before the U.S. reimposed sanctions in 2018, Iran's central bank controlled more than $120 billion in foreign exchange reserves. After only two years of the maximum pressure campaign, Iran's reserves were down to $4 billion, while depriving the regime of $70 billion in oil revenues. The regime was forced to cut payments to its regional terror proxies.

The moment Biden ends sanctions, the regime could receive a payday of $90 billion. Meanwhile, reinvigorated oil export would add $50 billion per year to the regime's coffers. Those billions would go a long way for the leading state sponsor of terrorism.
PreOccupiedTerritory: Iran Hopes Israel Doesn’t Strike Landing Sites For Pallets Of Cash From US (satire)
Officials of the Islamic Republic voiced their concerns this week that their facilities to receive anticipated windfalls of hard currency from the Biden administration require better security and defense arrangements in case the Jewish State decides to hit those facilities to deprive Tehran of the ability to accept those deliveries.

Sources within the Aviation Department of Iran’s Ministry of Transportation, speaking on background Wednesday, told a reporter that while the regime expects at least one shipment of dozens, if not hundreds, of millions of dollars in cash, just as occurred under the Obama administration in the leadup to the 2015 nuclear deal, this time around, they do not expect Israel to remain complacent in allowing such hefty resources to arrive safely. The officials expect Israel to strike one or more landing sites for the pallets of cash, currency that Iran will use to further the Islamic republic’s hegemonic ambitions and its direct support of international terrorism.

“We know the Biden people are the same as the Obama people,” explained one official. “We know that, for whatever naïve, misguided, or distorted reasons, they want to legalize and smooth our path to nuclear weapons, as if they will bring peace, which I suppose it will, once we’ve destroyed the Zionist Entity and ushered in the serenity that everyone knows prevailed when there was no Zionist Entity – I mean, that’s like basic twentieth-century history – the Biden folks want to lick our backsides and will pay us for the privilege. As far as we’re concerned it’s win-win, in the sense that we win twice over: we get to keep our nuclear weapons program AND we get to keep extending our reach across the region and basically controlling Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and Yemen, plus the Gaza Strip and parts of Afghanistan.”
Seth Frantzman: Top 10 ways Iran has claimed attack on Israel, MidEast region - IRGC
Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps head Maj.-Gen. Hossein Salami provided a long list of Iran’s operations and apparent threats to Israel and the region in an interview on Wednesday. His claims reveal the depth of Iran’s strategy in the region.

These are the top 10 claims he made:
Israel’s maritime trade is vulnerable
Salami said that 90% of Israel’s trade travels by sea. He says that it goes through “international waters” and that Israel is vulnerable to “maritime incidents.” This is apparently a reference to at least three attacks on Israeli ships in the last several months. He warned that Israel can suffer “obstruction” if it is threatened by sea. In the 1950s, there were similar attempts to cut off Israel’s sea routes by Egypt.

In recent years, Israel has increased its capabilities at sea, including two new corvettes of the Sa’ar 6 class, one of which arrived last year and the second of which was handed over to the Israeli Navy in Germany this week.

US media reports and Iran have accused Israel of a dozen attacks on Iranian ships and on an IRGC “mother ship” in the Red Sea.

An Israeli missile factory blew up
The IRGC chief claimed that an Israeli missile factory suffered a massive explosion. He is referring to an April 20 incident where an explosion was seen in central Israel. Iran said that a “sensitive” Israeli missile factory was affected. Later reports said that it was a controlled test of a solid fuel-rocket engine, according to a US expert.


Danish High Court Upholds Conviction of Norwegian Man in Iran Spy Case
A Danish high court on Thursday upheld the seven-year sentence given to a Norwegian citizen of Iranian heritage for spying and complicity in a failed plot to kill an Iranian Arab opposition figure in Denmark.

The case, which exposed an intelligence power struggle on Danish soil between Saudi Arabia and Iran, led Denmark to call for EU-wide sanctions on Iran in 2018 following the Norwegian man’s arrest.

“A unanimous jury in the Eastern High Court has found an Iranian man guilty of illegal intelligence activities and complicity in an attempted murder of an exiled Iranian in Ringsted,” the Danish public prosecutor said on Twitter on Thursday.

The defendant, Mohammad Davoudzadeh Loloei, was sentenced to seven years in prison and permanent expulsion from Denmark, prosecutor Mads Kruse told Reuters.

Loloei was initially sentenced last year by a district court and then appealed that ruling.

“It has been an unparalleled case in Danish legal history, which will probably reverberate beyond Denmark’s borders,” Kruse said.

“We managed to prove this link between the accused and the Iranian intelligence service, and that is very unusual and can be a difficult task,” he added.
New York Times Writer Charged as Iranian Agent Is Called ‘Foolish’ by Federal Judge
The New York Times opinion writer accused of serving as an unregistered, paid foreign agent of Iran may have a legal defense, the federal judge presiding over the criminal case suggested in a pre-trial hearing this week.

The defense, Judge Edward Korman said, related to whether the writer, Kaveh Afrasiabi, was aware that he was required by law to register as a foreign agent.

“If you have a defense here, it’s mens rea,” Korman said, using the Latin term, literally “guilty mind,” that defines criminal intent. To win a criminal conviction, prosecutors often must prove a defendant had such intent. Afrasiabi has pleaded not guilty.

Korman’s comment came as he urged Afrasiabi to cease representing himself and to instead accept the legal services of Deirdre Von Dornum, a federal defender who has been serving as standby counsel during the videoconference court appearances in the case.

“You have a great lawyer who is right on the screen, who you don’t want,” Korman advised Afrasiabi. “You really need a good lawyer. If you don’t want her, you are making a big mistake.”











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