Wednesday, May 12, 2021

From Ian:

Matti Friedman: Jerusalem of Glue
The idea of a complex place is anathema to the current mood in America and the West, where many people seem to be regressing to a world of childhood, of heroes and monsters. As I sit here typing by a window in Jerusalem, many seem to believe that Israel is attacking Muslim worshippers at prayer and ethnically cleansing the Arab population of this city, which is more than a third of our population and growing. For years, Arabic papers have described routine visits by Jews to the Temple Mount, or Israeli policing efforts there, as Israelis “storming” the Al-Aqsa compound; this wording has now spread to the Western press.

In the spirit of 2021, exciting video clips are ripped from their context here and injected into ideological circulatory systems to prove whatever needs to be proved. Explosions in the Al-Aqsa Mosque could mean that Israeli police are firing tear gas inside, desecrating the holy site, or that Muslim rioters are shooting off the stores of fireworks they hoarded inside to use against the police, desecrating the holy site. An Israeli driver hitting a Palestinian man near Lions’ Gate on Monday might be attempted murder, or a driver losing control of his car while escaping Palestinians who were trying to kill him. A video of Israelis dancing at the Western Wall as a fire burns on the Temple Mount is evidence of satanic intent, or of the coincidence that the annual Jerusalem Day celebrations at the wall were going on at the same time that one of the firecrackers set off by Palestinian rioters ignited a tree in the mosque compound above.

The subtleties seem beside the point when the villains and the heroes are so clear. The condemnations of Israel are pouring in from the strange coalition that gathers with increasing frequency for this purpose: the Turkish authoritarian Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, both of whom used the word “abhorrent” in their tweets, the dictator of Chechnya, the Saudis, the Iranians, New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. It’s hard to follow whether Israel is supposedly attacking Islam or attacking liberalism; in Israel’s case, the two seem to be oddly interchangeable. When some Westerners see dozens of green Hamas flags in the Al-Aqsa Mosque, they seem to perceive a civil rights protest, and when a Hamas leader calls on his people to buy “five-shekel knives” to cut off Jewish heads, demonstrating with his finger exactly how this should be done, some hear a call for social justice that Israelis should try to accommodate.

It helps that plenty of Western activists, including many who identify as journalists, have spent the past decade or so rebranding this conflict to suit the ideological fantasy world in which they operate. That fantasy world has only expanded in detail and reach with the triumph of social media, which marries elite prejudices with activist fervor and the passion of the mob. Hamas rockets are no longer being fired at Israeli civilians, as they were 20 years ago. Now they’re being fired at “Israeli apartheid.”

Being an observer in Jerusalem always means gauging two opposing forces: the one pulling the city apart, and the glue keeping it together. The former gets plenty of attention from observers, and the latter almost none, but both are always in play in this city of nearly a million people. The glue is on display in malls and taxis and hospitals, the places of no interest to journalists or politicians, where Jews and Arabs of different ideological stripes interact carefully in their daily lives to a greater extent than ever before, moving things forward to a future that’s unknowable but could be better. That has been the trend here in the past few years. But it’s the other force, the destructive one, that we’re seeing now.
JPost Editorial: It's time to stand with Israel against Hamas rockets
Israel must now engage in a public relations campaign to present its case effectively to the world. It has done nothing wrong, except for allowing a terrorist organization to gain the upper hand. It must now prevent Hamas from gaining international sympathy in its hollow attempts to portray itself as the guardian of Palestinian rights in Jerusalem.

In addition, the Palestinian Authority, regional neighbor Jordan, and Arab citizens of Israel – as exemplified by the mob of protesters in Lod on Monday night – shouldn’t be spreading lies that Israel, without provocation, threatened Muslim holy sites on the Temple Mount.

Israel’s government is not blameless. Tensions had been mounting during Ramadan, which ends on Wednesday, with ongoing clashes between police and Palestinian protesters in Jerusalem’s Old City and elsewhere.

While Hamas does not need an excuse to attack Israel, the government should have done more to contain the situation and try to defuse it before the violence spiraled out of control. The perfect storm – Ramadan, Jerusalem Day, Sheikh Jarrah, and political instability in Israel – all contributed to the reality that the people of southern Israel now find themselves.

To help Israel find a way to end this and restore peace and security, world leaders need to convey clearly to Hamas that terrorism is not acceptable under any circumstances. If those leaders want to see peace in Jerusalem, the Gaza Strip and the region, they must side with Israel against these blatant unwarranted acts of terror. This is important so Hamas and the Palestinians learn that terrorism does not pay and does not work. Firing rockets into civilian areas cannot be rewarded. Instead, it needs to be punished.

Israel is not responsible for the current escalation, but it should try to end it as soon as possible. This can’t happen without the international community supporting Israel, rather than siding with the real culprits.
Until we assert ourselves, projecting actual power and deterrence, we will be picked apart
As Winston Churchill famously encountered in the 1930’s, there is an inherent reluctance of peace and freedom loving peoples to respond pro-actively to aggression. There are issues of disbelief, often predicated upon the inability of the peace lover to understand the mind set and intentions of the aggressor.

This leads to rationalizations of how the other side might feel and could be dealt with. From this point, it is just a hop, skip and a jump to wishful thinking about how to deal, or not deal, with an aggressor.

Finally, there is the reluctance that is born out of not wanting to disrupt one’s serenity, individually and collectively, in order to take the necessary and potentially costly steps to deal with aggression. Costly steps of course focus on risking the lives of soldiers, but also include risks to civilians, their lives, businesses, assets and lifestyle.

We look at other people as if they were extensions of ourselves. It is both unrealistic, and completely untrue. If all of this sounds uncomfortably familiar, that might be because it pretty well describes the state of affairs in Israel, now and in the past, when confronted with Palestinian Arab aggression.

We live with a functional absurdity. We have invested men, materiel, treasure and brainpower in creating the most advanced - in training, technique and equipment - armed forces in the Middle East, and one of the strongest in the entire world.

Yet, for reasons cited above, as well as the ever present fear of international opprobrium, we hamstring ourselves constantly.

This hamstringing takes at least two major forms: the unwillingness to react, not in equal measure, and not to mention more intensively, in the hope that the aggression can be managed; and second, allowing ourselves to be dictated to by legal advisers and arbiters who are not focused on deterrence, let alone victory, but rather, the sensibilities of our enemies, and most certainly the judgments of the international community.

The “just keep a lid on things” strategy defines much of what passes for geo-political policy vis-à-vis Judea and the Shomron, the Temple Mount, and all things related to Palestinian Arab and Israeli Bedouins. The thought is that, left to their own natural devices, conflicts will subside, as the aggressor will understand that its not in his interest to continue down this destructive, but also self-destructive path.

But this is solipsism, meaning that we look at other people as if they were extensions of ourselves. It is both unrealistic, and completely untrue.

Israel needs to defeat Hamas in the narrative battle, too - comment
Is it possible that had the situation in Jerusalem been handled differently, Hamas would have had a harder time instigating a conflict, since it would not have had an easy excuse?

Possibly. But it doesn’t matter. Hamas would have found something else, some other reason to start shooting, especially when considering its bigger objective right now: showing the Palestinian people that it is still alive and kicking, even though the Palestinian Authority elections slated for this month have been canceled.

With this as the basis for what it is happening, the possibility of a decisive victory will continue to evade Israel.

In the end, Israel will cause Hamas and Islamic Jihad extensive damage, will kill a number of its operatives as it has already done, and destroy some of its infrastructure.

But in the battle over the narrative, Hamas will push the story of Jerusalem. We need to win that war too. Desperately.
Biden failed the Israel-Palestinian rocket and riot test - analysis
The policies of the Biden administration have inadvertently contributed to the lethal round of hostilities in Israel and Gaza, some Israeli analysts claimed on Wednesday.

The escalation “is a test and [US President Joe Biden] has failed,” said Prof. Eytan Gilboa, an expert on US policy in the Middle East at Bar-Ilan University.

Biden’s mistakes, he said, began before the first rocket was fired.

Back in February, Biden lifted the designation of the Iranian-backed Houthis in Yemen as a global terrorist organization. Analysts said that the president believed the move would reduce violence in Yemen and against Saudi Arabia, but it has produced the opposite result.

“If you are a terrorist organization, and you don’t do anything and sanctions are lifted against you, this means you can do whatever you want,” Gilboa said. “Other terrorist organizations in the Middle East, like Hamas, look at this and say, ‘This is what the US is doing? Very good. We can exploit it.’”

In April, Biden announced that America would restore some $235 million in aid to the Palestinians that had been withdrawn by former President Donald Trump. About two-thirds of the money is being given to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), which Trump cut off in 2018 because of its ties to terrorism.

“Hamas and Islamic Jihad were looking and saying to themselves that if the US restored this aid unconditionally, then we can do whatever we want,” Gilboa explained.

Finally, that same month, the US lifted sanctions on International Criminal Court prosecutor Fatou Bensouda, also without any conditions.

Pollard: ‘Jew-hatred’ a foundational belief of ‘Amalek’ Biden administration
Jonathan Pollard, an American Jew who served a 30-year sentence for spying for Israel, tore into the Biden administration on Monday, counting it among Israel’s worst enemies.

Pollard, who moved to Israel after his parole ended last December, was honored at the Mercaz Harav Yeshiva’s annual Jerusalem Day gala, where the capital’s mayor, Moshe Lion, presented him with a certificate of appreciation for his efforts on behalf of the Jewish people.

Pollard used the keynote address to launch into a lengthy list of policy recommendations for Jerusalem that provided a window into his hardline worldview.

He began by reflecting on the recent murder of 19-year-old Yehuda Guetta in a terror shooting attack at a West Bank junction.

“The murderer was the manifestation of the oldest hatred, more lethal than the deadliest disease known to man — Jew-hatred. Cold-blooded anti-Semitism,” he said, speaking in English. “It’s the foundational belief of our so-called peace partners up the road in Ramallah [the Palestinian Authority], our avowed enemies in Gaza and many of the woke bureaucrats and officials that staff the current Biden administration.”

“What we’re talking about is Amalek, pure and simple,” he said, equating the Biden administration and the Palestinian leadership with the biblical archenemy of the Israelites.

“Whether you murder a Jew directly… or whether you pin his arms behind his back like the identity Democrats of the same Biden administration — the death of the Jew is the same,” he continued, apparently accusing the American leadership of killing Jews.
With Jerusalem focus, Hamas touches nerve even friendly Arab states can’t ignore
The Palestinian national movement was in the doldrums.

In August 2020, the United Arab Emirates agreed to recognize Israel in what became known as the Abraham Accords, followed shortly thereafter by Bahrain, Sudan, and Morocco. The willingness of Arab states to strike diplomatic agreements with Israel was a harsh wake-up call for the Palestinians, making it painfully clear that their longstanding veto over the future of Israel’s ties with the Arab world was gone.

“The sense I get is that the Palestinian political scene right now is similar to where it was leading up to 1948,” Ghaith al-Omari, Washington Institute senior fellow and former PA adviser, lamented to The Times of Israel in the aftermath of the normalization agreements, referring to the year that marks both Israeli independence and Palestinian dispossession. “It is weak, divided, and slowly moving outside the international consensus. There is more and more of a sense that this is the worst moment for the Palestinian national movement since 1948.”

While the movement was adrift, with no clear direction or strategy, the COVID-19 pandemic underscored to Palestinians the impotence of their governing institutions, as Israel became a world leader in vaccination while the Palestinian Authority had to make do with mostly symbolic vaccine shipments from Israel and abroad.

Then, on April 29, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas canceled the scheduled Palestinian elections, blaming Israel for not allowing East Jerusalem residents to participate.

Hamas and its supporters were frustrated by the development, as this was a rare opportunity for the group to deepen its presence in the West Bank — and through democratic means, no less.

But now, suddenly and unexpectedly, Hamas found its groove.

By asserting itself and escalating tensions over Jerusalem and the Temple Mount, Hamas has positioned itself as the Palestinian standard-bearer — without having to worry about winning elections.
What is Hamas trying to achieve by fighting Israel? - analysis
Hamas is now boasting that it is the only Palestinian group that fulfilled its promise to retaliate against Israel over the Jerusalem unrest. The message Hamas is sending to the Palestinians is that “‘Jerusalem is Our Destiny’ is not just another empty slogan.”

After Abbas announced his decision to delay the elections on the pretext that Israel had refused to allow the vote to take place in Jerusalem, Hamas called on the Palestinians to step up the “popular resistance” against Israel, particularly in east Jerusalem and the West Bank. Hamas was hoping that a new wave of anti-Israel violence would embarrass Abbas, undermine the PA and drag them into a confrontation with Israel.

But Hamas stopped short of directly urging the Palestinians to revolt against Abbas, lest it be accused of fomenting a Palestinian civil war. Hamas leaders are now rubbing their hands with glee as they watch thousands of Palestinians on the streets of Jerusalem chanting “We are all Mohammed Deif,” raising Hamas flags at al-Aqsa Mosque and denouncing Abbas as a “traitor.”

By accusing Israel of “obstructing” the Palestinian elections and strongly condemning Israeli policies and measures in Jerusalem, Abbas contributed significantly to the outbreak of the violence in the city, including at the Aqsa Mosque compound.

Abbas, however, failed to foresee that his rivals in Hamas would move to cash in on the rising tensions and transform them into pro-Hamas rallies and protests against him and the PA.
Barry Shaw Kristallnacht in Lod
In a rocket attack on the town of Lod, a father and his 16 year-old daughter were killed.

There was little coincidence that Hamas should have targeted Lod after some of the town's Arabs went on the rampage setting fire to dozens of vehicles and, even more significantly, torched three synagogues.

A state of emergency was declared on Lod as special forces have arrived in the town to root out the perpetrators.

This incident underlines the anti-Semitic motive of the month long Arab violence against Jews in Israel..

The recent violence has been incited by Hamas in Gaza and by Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah, and Israeli Arabs have revelled in targeting vulnerable Jews for physical assault and lynching in place like Jaffa, Hebron, and Jerusalem after which they promoted their violence on Tik Tok.

The irony of Lod is that the couple that were killed by the Hamas rocket were both Israeli Arabs. The sixteen year-old girl who died was named as Nadine Awad.
Gaza Violence: These are the victims of Hamas rocket attacks
An unprecedented escalation in violence between Israel and Gaza has left many Israelis – especially those living further South – in a constant state of uncertainty, wondering if they will get the chance to see tomorrow.

Seven Israelis have already paid the ultimate price as tensions continue to brew.

Leah Yom Tov, 63; Khalil Awad, 52, and his daughter Nadin, 16; Soumya Santosh, 30; Nella Gurevitz, in her 80s; and Omer Tabib, 21, had their lives taken.

Soumya Santosh
One of the first two victims claimed by the Hamas rocket barrage, Santosh was a caregiver from India for Gurevitz, who was also killed in the blast.

Santosh was from the Idukki district in the Indian state of Kerala, and had been working in Israel for seven years, according to relatives quoted by the Press Trust of India (PTI) news agency.

According to the PTI report, Santosh was talking to her husband in Kerala via a video call when a rocket struck her building.

“My brother heard a huge sound during the video call. Suddenly the phone got disconnected,” Santosh’s brother-in-law, Saji, told PTI. Santosh leaves behind her husband and a son.

Indian media reported extensively about Santosh’s death, including a conversation held by Ambassador to India Ron Malka with her family.
Six-Year-Old Israeli Boy Killed in Rocket Strike in Sderot
Ido Avigal, a six-year-old Israeli boy, was fatally wounded on Wednesday after a rocket fired by Gaza terrorists struck a residential building in the southern city of Sderot, and pronounced dead later that night, the Israeli outlet N12 reported.

Four other people were also injured, including a woman in serious condition and three others in moderate to light condition, according to the United Hatzalah emergency service.

19 cities across the US to rally in favor of Israel amid escalations
Rallies are set to take place across the US on Wednesday evening from coast to coast in solidarity with Israel amid the recent escalations and rocket attacks entering the country from the Gaza Strip.

Organized by a number of Jewish American groups alongside the Israeli-American Council (IAC), the events will take place in a handful of major cities, from New York City to Washington, DC.

The goal of the events is to "stand up against terror," according to the IAC.

"We need to be there for Israel, and for our brothers and sisters, who are under brutal attack by terror organizations," said IAC Co-founder and CEO Shoham Nicolet.
Gal Gadot, international celebrities speak out over Gaza crisis
This latest flare-up of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has found many Israeli celebrities speaking up on social media, while abroad it was mostly the usual suspects who criticized Israel, with a few celebs taking a more nuanced view.

Gal Gadot, Israel’s most prominent international celebrity, released a statement on her Instagram account Wednesday, with white letters on a black background, saying: “My heart breaks. My country is at war. I worry for my family, my friends. I worry for my people. This is a vicious cycle that has been going on for far too long. Israel deserves to live as a free, safe nation. Our neighbors deserve the same. I pray for the victims and their families, I pray for this unimaginable hostility to end, I pray for our leaders to find the solution so we could live side by side in peace. I pray for better days.”

Gadot, who posts frequently on Instagram on all kinds of topics, has 53 million followers.

Pop star Harel Skaat, who performed in a shelter in the South in 2020 during a previous rocket barrage from Gaza, headed back to Netivot on Tuesday and gave a concert in a shelter, which he posted on Instagram and Twitter.

In a message next to the photos, he wrote: “It has to end once and for all. This is our country... Sending a big hug to everyone sitting in the shelters, hope instead of fear.”

He had sharp words for “all the supposed bleeding hearts from abroad who act like they are so wise and moral and who are so stupid and do not understand life. Am Yisrael Chai!”
Israeli, Palestinian Supporters Clash Outside Israeli Consulate in New York City
With Israel under fire from Hamas rocket attacks and Arab rioting causing mayhem in many cities, thousands of pro-Palestinian protesters took to the streets of New York City Tuesday to demonstrate against the Jewish state, clashing with a smaller contingent of Israel supporters near the country’s consulate in Manhattan.

The demonstration, dubbed “Emergency Rally for Palestine,” featured a promotional flyer stating the meeting place as the Israeli Consulate but with Israel crossed out and also included the slogan often chanted at pro-Palestinian protests, “from the [Jordan] river to the [Mediterranean] sea, Palestine will be free.”

Internal security reportedly ordered consulate staff to leave for home early because of safety concerns.

New York City police officers were forced to separate the two sides as tensions threatened to boil over.

Video uploaded to social media showed a fractious scene between the two groups, with footage showing a pro-Palestinian demonstrator breaking through a barricade to physically assault a pro-Israel protester, with bystanders getting caught up in the scuffle and falling to the sidewalk.
Why Is Twitter Letting Iran’s Ayatollah Khamenei Incite Rocket Attacks on Israeli Civilians?
Within minutes, the IDF reported sirens were sounding in Tel Aviv as one of its largest cities came under a barrage of rocket fire.

It’s worth remembering that when Donald Trump was permanently suspended from Twitter while still an office holder, Twitter cited, “the risk of further incitement of violence.”

Yet in this case Ayatollah is using Twitter to directly signal to his terrorist proxy group Hamas that they should continue attacking civilians. Why does that not count as inciting violence?

To be clear, this is not a one off tweet by Ayatollah. He has continually used the account to urge Palestinian terrorists to continue attacks on Israel. Here is a sampling of tweets over just the past few days.
NGO Monitor: Hamas Commits War Crimes, NGOs are Silent
On May 10-12, 2021, Palestinian terror groups in Gaza fired over 1000 rockets and mortars toward Israeli population centers – each one an unequivocal war crime. As with previous flare-ups involving Gaza, NGOs and NGO officials that claim to promote human rights have ignored the blatant Palestinian violations against Israeli civilians. Some have remained silent altogether, while others have focused exclusively on demonizing Israel for responding to the attacks or for other alleged wrongdoing.

Of note, NGOs that have been lobbying the International Criminal Court to launch an investigation into alleged war crimes committed in Gaza – including Addameer, Adalah, Al-Dameer, Al Haq, Al Mezan, B’Tselem, International Federation of Human Rights (FIDH), Palestinian Center for Human Rights, and Yesh Din – have been silent regarding Palestinian war crimes.

NGO Statements
International NGOS
Amnesty International
“Israeli security forces have used repeated, unwarranted and excessive force against Palestinian protesters in occupied East Jerusalem following four days of violence in which 840 Palestinians were injured, Amnesty International said today. At least 21 Israeli police officers and seven Israeli civilians were also injured, according to Israeli police. The organization calls on Israeli authorities to immediately halt forced evictions in the neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah and end the ongoing forced displacement of Palestinians from East Jerusalem. In the latest escalation, Palestinian armed groups have fired rockets and missiles into Israel injuring at least one Israeli and there have been reports of several people killed in Gaza from retaliatory attacks by Israel. Amnesty International calls on all parties to respect international humanitarian law and take all feasible precautions to avoid harming civilians.” (May 10)

Human Rights Watch
Tweet by Ken Roth: “Even assuming, as the Israeli government claims, that a 13-storey residential tower in Gaza housed “an office that is used by the political leadership” of Hamas, how is it proportionate for an Israeli air strike to destroy the entire building?…” (Twitter, May 12)
Tweet by Ken Roth: “Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu says that “militants in the Gaza Strip will ‘pay a very heavy price’ for their indiscriminate rocket fire. The problem is, civilians in Gaza are paying a very heavy price, too.…” (Twitter, May 12)
Tweet by Omar Shakir: “Israel’s use of explosive weapons with wide area effects in densely populated Gaza on population living in open-air prison for 14 years bound to result in civilian harm. Alarming reports of many Palestinians killed today. @hrw has documented many Israeli war crimes over years 6/7” (Twitter, May 10)
Tweet by Elisa Epstein (DC Advocacy Officer): “The ‘both/all sides’ refrain falsely pretends that all sides have equal agency. We need to recognize the context of systematic Israeli govt policy that is steeped in excessive force, & designed to dominate Palestinians & erase their rights.” (Twitter, May 11)
Tweet by Elisa Epsten: “While @SecBlinken twice condemns Hamas’ rocket attacks, a condemnation of Israel’s actions in Gaza, which have reportedly killed 20, incl 9 children, is starkly absent. ‘Violence & provocative action’ is carried out by people. Name the perpetrators.” (Twitter, May 11)
Phyllis Chesler: The NYTimes' chronic chronology problem
Kingsley et al do not quote any dissident Palestinians. Au contraire. They quote Palestinians who describe Israel as engaged in “ethnic cleansing,” and as perpetrators of “planned expulsions,” etc. Based on Richard Landes’s, Pierre Rehov’s, and Nidra Poller’s work on Pallywood, I somehow do not believe the Palestinian videos of wounded children and dead family members. I could be wrong in this instance but somehow I doubt it.

Whether the NYT’s reporters have been misled; whether they are afraid to lose their access to Palestinian sources if they report the truth; whether they’ve been indoctrinated long ago which is why they hold these positions, is unknown to me. Whichever it is, their formula of disinformation works. Both articles are the lead stories. Today also continues for almost a full page (A10) in the hard copy, accompanied by four photographs.

Israel is always, always, the aggressor, Palestinians are always the victims. In my view, this much propaganda, day after day, month after month, year after year, constitutes incitement to genocide.

Laurel Leff covered the perfidy of the New York Times in terms of their utterly shameful and misleading coverage of the Holocaust. Will someone, someday, write a book about their coverage of the Jews, post-Holocaust, but especially their coverage of Israel in the 21st century? That might require two or more volumes.

This kind of daily anti-Israel propaganda constitutes another kind of “cancel culture” bee swarm, gathering force and speed as it continues and expands the echo chamber in which it thrives.
Palestinian man tries to stab Israeli soldiers in Hebron, is shot — IDF
A Palestinian man on Wednesday tried to stab Israeli soldiers at a checkpoint in the southern West Bank city of Hebron and was shot by troops at the scene, according to the military.

The Israel Defense Forces said the assailant had been “neutralized,” without further elaborating. He was reported to be in moderate condition.

None of the soldiers were hurt.

The attempted stabbing followed a number of other recent attacks in the West Bank — including a drive-by shooting earlier this month that killed 19-year-old yeshiva student Yehuda Guetta and injured two others — and as intense fighting between Israel and terror groups in the Gaza Strip dragged on for a third day.

The army on Tuesday said a would-be Palestinian gunman was killed and another was seriously injured after pulling a weapon on troops at Tapuah Junction, the site of the shooting that killed Guetta. But according to Army Radio, the incident was a case of mistaken identity and it remains unclear whether the Palestinians were armed. Both were members of Palestinian intelligence services, a Palestinian security source told AFP, without giving further details.
Hezbollah’s al-Qard al-Hasan and Lebanon’s Banking Sector
The U.S. Treasury Department’s designations of Lebanese banks and of multiple Hezbollah entities, financiers, and money launderers point to the complicity of Lebanese banks in Hezbollah’s financial operations. The AQAH hack provides more evidence of this complicity. Through AQAH, Lebanon’s banks grant Hezbollah access to the international banking system, 13 years after Treasury designated AQAH.

For years, U.S. policymakers have hailed Lebanese banks as responsible stakeholders. They argued that tougher measures might break the banking sector, the backbone of Lebanon’s economy. This approach prevented neither Hezbollah’s access to the banks nor Lebanon’s financial collapse. Moving forward, the U.S. government should not repeat that mistake.

A year and a half into Lebanon’s financial crisis, it is unclear what fate awaits the country’s insolvent banks. Lebanon’s central bank has yet to undergo a forensic audit. The United States and other stakeholders will likely recommend an overhaul of the banking system. In some cases, this will mean mergers. In other cases, it will mean acquisitions. Either way, it is safe to assume certain banks will cease to exist. The hacked AQAH documents can help the United States determine which banks that have provided services to Hezbollah are beyond salvaging and whether there is a basis for subsequent terror-finance criminal investigations. The relationships between Lebanon’s banks and Hezbollah should be a key factor to consider when Lebanon’s economic overhaul begins.
Iran Has Enriched Uranium to Up to 63 Percent Purity, IAEA Report Says
“Fluctuations” at Iran’s Natanz plant pushed the purity to which it enriched uranium to 63 percent, higher than the announced 60 percent that complicated talks to revive its nuclear deal with world powers, a report by the UN nuclear watchdog said on Tuesday.

Iran made the shift to 60 percent, a big step towards nuclear weapons-grade from the 20 percent previously achieved, last month in response to an explosion and power cut at Natanz that Tehran has blamed on Israel and appears to have damaged its enrichment output at a larger, underground facility there.

Iran’s move rattled the current indirect talks with the United States to agree conditions for both sides to return fully to the 2015 nuclear deal, which was undermined when Washington abandoned it in 2018, prompting Tehran to violate its terms.

The deal says Iran cannot enrich beyond 3.67 percent fissile purity, far from the 90 percent of weapons-grade. Iran has long denied any intention to develop nuclear weapons.

“According to Iran, fluctuations of the enrichment levels … were experienced,” the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said in the confidential report to its member states, seen by Reuters.

“The agency’s analysis of the ES (environmental samples) taken on 22 April 2021 shows an enrichment level of up to 63% U-235, which is consistent with the fluctuations of the enrichment levels (described by Iran),” it added, without saying why the fluctuations had occurred.

Michigan Student Government Uses Hamas Attacks to Push Anti-Israel BDS Movement
The University of Michigan’s student government condemned the school for its "complicity in Israel’s violence" and capitalized on violent attacks on the Jewish state to advocate the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement.

In a letter to the school community, Michigan’s Central Student Government called Israel an "apartheid" state and demanded the university divest from Israel-based businesses that profit "off of the settler state’s occupation." Until it does, the university will remain implicated in Israeli military actions, like the state's response to ongoing Hamas rocket strikes, the letter claims.

"The actions of the Israeli occupying forces throughout Palestine are inhumane, international war crimes," the letter reads. "For the past 73 years, this violence has displaced, harmed, and killed indigenous Palestinians. This is not a ‘conflict,’ but emblematic of Israeli settler-colonialism, ethnic cleansing, and apartheid."

Hundreds of Palestinians in Jerusalem rioted this week to protest Israel's evictions of Palestinians occupying homes in East Jerusalem. Hamas terrorists based in the Gaza Strip have launched more than 470 rockets into Israel in recent days, killing two Israelis on Tuesday and injuring roughly a dozen others. Israeli counter strikes have killed at least 28 people in Gaza.

In the letter, the Central Student Government committed to taking "actionable steps" alongside pro-Palestinian organizations to "advocat[e] for Palestinian liberation" at the university. At the end of the letter, the student leaders encouraged students to follow the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement, and other pro-Palestinian groups, on Twitter.

The Central Student Government’s letter claims that "anti-Palestinian sentiment" on the University of Michigan’s campus has been on the rise in recent years. The student leaders did not respond to the Washington Free Beacon’s inquiry into alleged anti-Palestinian activity on campus.
St Anne’s College, Oxford deletes without apology its JCR statement offering support to Muslim members but not to Jews
St Anne’s College at the University of Oxford has removed a statement issued by the President of the College’s JCR and its MCR BAME representatives offering “support to the Muslim and Palestinian members of our community” but not to its Jewish members.

The statement related to ongoing violence in Jerusalem and said: “We want to sincerely support and send solidarity to St Anne’s Muslim and Palestinian members and the wider Oxford community. We would also like or remind students to reach out to the St Anne’s JCR & MCR Welfare and BAME Officers if they are struggling and would like somebody to talk to. In addition, you can also reach out to the Oxford University Islamic Society (ISOC) ‘Welfare Officers’ and/or the Oxford University Champaign for Racial Awareness Equality (CRAE) Officers.”

It went on to say: “We also encourage other Oxford colleges’ JCRs and MCRs to show solidarity with the wider Oxford Muslim and Palestinian community and combat the noticeable lack of support.”

Disgracefully, nowhere did the statement offer any support or resources to Jewish students. The “lack of support” to the College’s Jews was thus particularly “noticeable”.

The statement was shared on St Anne’s College’s official Instagram account. The College then prohibited comments on the statements before deleting the post entirely, without explanation or apology.
Anti-Israel Lies at Harvard University Hurt the Cause of Peace
The Harvard Palestine Solidarity Committee (PSC) recently hosted their annual Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW). Though it is billed as a celebration of human rights, Israeli Apartheid Week is nothing more than a thinly-veiled front for the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which seeks to undermine the very existence of the Jewish state.

The three of us have spent years living, working, and studying in Israel, and we share close ties with friends and family who live there. We are proud believers in the Zionism articulated in Israel’s Declaration of Independence: namely, the vision of a Jewish and democratic state that ensures “complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex,” as well as “freedom of religion [and] conscience.”

We long for a day when Israel enjoys a warm peace with all neighboring countries, including a Palestinian state.

Unfortunately, many of the speakers during IAW would rather see a world without a Jewish state than a Middle East with peaceful co-existence between Jews and Palestinians.

One of the speakers featured during IAW was BDS leader and self-proclaimed co-founder Omar Barghouti.

Barghouti has repeatedly rejected a two-state solution, which would create an independent Palestinian state next to Israel, ensuring self-determination for both peoples. Barghouti has also dismissed the historic ties of Jews to the Land of Israel, asserting repeatedly that Jews do not have a legitimate claim to the land.
Andrew Yang’s Solidarity with Israel Earns him #YangSupportsGenocide
Should Democrat Andrew Yang win the mayoral elections in the fall (following the June primaries), Israel will once again have a friend in Gracie Mansion, in the best tradition of Mayors Michael Bloomberg and Rudy Giuliani. On Tuesday, Yang tweeted: “I’m standing with the people of Israel who are coming under bombardment attacks and condemn the Hamas terrorists. The people of NYC will always stand with our brothers and sisters in Israel who face down terrorism and persevere.”

The candidate’s simple, rational statement stating the difference between friend and foe, sprang to life this hashtag: #YangSupportsGenocide, which became a focal point for all the Israel-haters in town. I’m not including a link – you can find it on your own. The tweets there have nothing sensible to add to the discussion, but they are voluminous.

And then there was AOC, that scholar of Middle East history who has put her foot in her mouth several times on the subject and was forced to apologize. Well, she ain’t apologizing no more. She tweeted on Tuesday, in response to a report that Andrew Yang’s canceling a campaign stop to distribute groceries in Astoria ahead of the Muslim Eid al-Fitr holiday because the organizers asked him not to come:

“Utterly shameful for Yang to try to show up to an Eid event after sending out a chest-thumping statement of support for a strike killing 9 children, especially after his silence as Al-Aqsa was attacked. But then to try that in Astoria? During Ramadan?! They will let you know.”
Queen’s Speech introduces legislation banning Britain’s public bodies from joining in with BDS campaign because it “may legitimise antisemitism”
It was announced today in the Queen’s Speech, in which Her Majesty announces the Government’s legislative agenda, that a new law will be passed banning public bodies from joining in with the Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign, on the grounds that it “may legitimise antisemitism”.

According to the Government’s official documentation, the purpose of the legislation is to “deliver the manifesto commitment to stop public bodies from imposing their own approach or views about international relations, through preventing boycott, divestment or sanctions campaigns against foreign countries.”

The document also acknowledges the long-standing connections between the BDS movement and antisemitism, stating that: “Unofficial boycotts have been associated with antisemitism in the United Kingdom — including kosher food being removed from supermarket shelves, Jewish films being banned from a film festival and a student union holding a vote on blocking the formation of a Jewish student society.”

Cruz to introduce anti-BDS amendment to bill countering Chinese tech advancement
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) plans to introduce an anti-BDS amendment on Wednesday to a bipartisan bill aimed at countering China through federal investment in technological development, Jewish Insider has learned. Cruz’s amendment would deprioritize countries that “[take] actions to boycott, divest from or sanction Israel” in these technology development efforts.

Outside of its specific impact on the legislation, the amendment appears designed to put Democrats on the Senate Commerce Committee — and ultimately all Senate Democrats, should the amendment pass out of committee — on record regarding the BDS movement.

The Texas senator plans to introduce his amendment during a committee meeting to revise the Endless Frontier Act, which seeks to preserve the U.S.’s economic and geopolitical edge over China through more than $100 billion in additional funding for the National Science Foundation to fund research and development in critical technology areas.

“The broad expectation is that the amendment is noncontroversial and if it becomes controversial then that will be dramatic this afternoon,” a congressional aide familiar with the amendment told Jewish Insider.

The amendment would adopt the same definition of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) as was included in previous congressional legislation in 2015, to include “actions by states, non-member states of the United Nations, international organizations, or affiliated agencies of international organizations that are politically motivated and are intended to penalize or otherwise limit commercial relations specifically with Israel or persons doing business in Israel or in Israeli-controlled territories.”
HonestReporting's Take: Analysis on Conflict with Gaza (VIDEO)
Over the past 36 hours, terrorists in the Gaza Strip have fired some 1,500 projectiles at Israel, hundreds of which targeted major urban areas, including Tel Aviv. As the situation risks spiraling further out of control, HonestReporting CEO Daniel Pomerantz was invited to discuss the conflict on ILTV.

Guardian promotes libel about fire near Al-Aqsa Mosque
A Guardian article by their Jerusalem correspondent Oliver Holmes (“31 people dead as Netanyahu vows to intensify Gaza attacks”, May 11)

a provocative annual parade by thousands of Israeli nationalists in the city went ahead the same day. Jerusalem Day celebrates Israel’s capture of the entire city, including the Old City and Palestinian neighbourhoods, from Jordanian forces in 1967.

Ayman Odeh, an Israeli politician from the country’s Arab minority, tweeted a video of ​Israeli nationalists dancing and singling at the Temple Mount’s Western Wall on Jerusalem Day as a fire – apparently started during earlier confrontations – roared on al-Aqsa​ mosque​ compound above​. “Shocking,” he wrote in Hebrew.

The entire premise of Odeh’s tweet, uncritically promoted by the Guardian reporter, is inaccurate.

First, Holmes fails to inform readers that the fire was started by Palestinians, who shot fireworks from the Temple Mount compound towards the Western Wall, where Jews were celebrating Jerusalem Day.
BBC’s Doucet and Knell frame Jerusalem events for worldwide listeners
An item aired in the afternoon edition of the BBC World Service radio programme ‘Newshour’ on May 8th (from 14:05 here) provides a good example of how the corporation chose to frame the weekend’s incidents in Jerusalem for listeners worldwide.

One notable point is the portrayal of the site of the violent rioting. As noted here previously, four written BBC reports on the same topic all ignored the BBC’s style guide by using the term “al Aqsa mosque complex” rather than the stipulated “Haram al-Sharif”.

“Temple Mount
ie both words capped. Note that the area in Jerusalem that translates from Hebrew as the Temple Mount should also be described, though not necessarily in the first four pars, as known to Muslims as the Haram al-Sharif (ie lower case “al”, followed by a hyphen – and never “the al-Haram al-Sharif”, which is tautological). The Arabic translates as the Noble Sanctuary.”

Since November 2014 we have recorded numerous instances in which BBC journalists used the PLO recommended terminology “Al Aqsa Mosque Compound” in breach of BBC guidelines and in this item both presenter Lyse Doucet and reporter Yolande Knell adopted that politically motivated instruction.
Doucet: “Rubber bullets, stun grenades, tear gas fired from one side. Rocks, bottles, fireworks from the other. An all too familiar yet ever-troubling sight at the al Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem. Yesterday’s clashes between Israeli security forces and Palestinian protesters are said to have left some 200 people injured.”

Doucet’s description of people who used pre-stocked rocks and fireworks in violent riots as “protesters” is clearly inadequate.
Doucet: “The clashes erupted this time over Israeli restrictions on access to parts of the Old City during the Muslim holy month of fasting and the threat of eviction hanging over Palestinian families in East Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood to make way for Jewish settlements.
Hamas’ ‘Civilian’ Office, ‘Several Hundred’ Palestinians Facing Eviction & Other LA Times Gaffes
Meanwhile, Wilkinson reports, “Israel also restricted Palestinian access to the hilltop site,” although more than 90,000 nevertheless attended prayers there on Saturday night, with extremist Palestinians among them chanting, “Strike Tel Aviv,” and “In spirit and in blood, we will redeem Al Aqsa.” While Wilkinson cites “extremist Israeli settlers,” she doesn’t mention these Palestinian extremists. And while she notes restrictions on Palestinian access to the Temple Mount, she neglects to report that Jews were completely barred from the site, Judaism’s most sacred place. (Of course, she ignores the Temple Mount’s status as Judaism’s holiest site, but does note that it’s the third holiest site in Islam.)

As for her analytical record, it’s worth recalling that one week before Bahrain signed on to the Abraham Accords, Wilkinson glibly proclaimed that the Trump administration had come up empty-handed in its efforts to entice more Arab countries to normalize with Israel.

Today’s news analysis is somewhat of an indictment of the Biden administration for not being more involved in the Israeli-Palestinian issue. “There are no bypasses to the Israel-Palestinian conflict resolution,” Wilkinson concludes the article by quoting a former Israeli negotiator.

The powers that be at The Los Angeles Times also realized that a big story is unfolding in this corner of the Middle East that they can’t afford to sit out. They therefore called in the big guns. It’s a pity, then, that the emerging coverage is so shoddy.

Germany detains suspects for stoning synagogue, burning Israeli flags
German police have detained more than a dozen men in three cities suspected of damaging a synagogue with stones, burning Israeli flags and starting a fire at a memorial for a Jewish house of prayer destroyed during the Nazi pogroms of 1938.

German politicians on Wednesday condemned the three separate incidents as antisemitic attacks, which coincided with escalating cross-border violence between the Israeli military and Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip.

Police said three men in their early 20s were detained on Tuesday night and released after admitting to throwing stones at the window of a synagogue in the city of Bonn and burning an Israeli flag.

The suspects told police the Gaza-Israel violence had motivated them to throw stones at a synagogue.

Civilians on both sides took cover as Israel carried out hundreds of air strikes in Gaza on Wednesday and Palestinian militants fired multiple rockets at Tel Aviv and the southern city of Beersheba. At least 49 people in Gaza and six in Israel have been killed in the region's most intense hostilities since a 2014 war.

In the northwestern German city of Muenster, police said they had detained 13 men who gathered outside a synagogue and burned Israeli flags. They have been charged with holding an illegal public gathering.

Armin Laschet, premier of the state of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) where the incidents occurred, said police would boost security at Jewish sites in the region, which borders on Belgium and the Netherlands.
Woman in Germany says neighbor tried to break in after hearing Hebrew
An Israeli woman living in Germany said her neighbor, a former parliamentary worker for a left-wing party in Germany, tried to break into her home after hearing her speak Hebrew.

The Israeli, 26-year-old Coral Guter, told police that the May 3 incident happened days after Katrin Wengler overheard Guter speaking Hebrew on the phone days earlier. Wengler, 46, is a former office manager for Holger Mann, a lawmaker for the SPD party in the state parliament of Saxony.

On Facebook, Guter wrote that Wengler had told her that Hebrew’s a “bad language.”

In the May 3 incident, according to Guter, Wengler shouted at her: “Leave this country already, you don’t belong here, you are a foreigner!” and threatened to have Guter “deported.” Wengler blocked Guter from entering the building, hit her in the chest and threatened her with a knife, Guter wrote.

Israel’s SimilarWeb Shares to Hit NYSE Today at Company Valuation Of $1.8 Billion
Israeli company SimilarWeb announced on Wednesday the pricing of its initial public offering on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE). The company, which has developed a way to measure and predict customer behavior in the digital era, has priced 8,000,000 ordinary shares to be sold to the public at $22 per share and is expected to raise approximately $180 million in the IPO.

The shares are expected to begin trading on the NYSE on Wednesday under the ticker symbol “SMWB.” The offering is expected to close on May 14, subject to customary closing conditions.

The company, founded by Or Offer in 2009, had set the price of a single share at between $19 and $21 earlier this month but ended up increasing it due to high demand. J.P. Morgan, Citigroup, Barclays, and Jefferies are acting as joint book-running managers. JMP Securities, Oppenheimer & Co., and William Blair will act as co-managers for the proposed offering. Similarweb has granted the underwriters a 30-day option to purchase up to an additional 1,125,000 ordinary shares at the IPO price.

SimilarWeb’s tools are used by large, leading brand name companies to analyze customer behavior and compare it to their competitors. The company’s technology gathers information from hundreds of sources and uses them in advanced machine-learning algorithms to provide a complete picture of digital activity in real-time. SimilarWeb says that more than half of the Fortune 100 companies, such as Walmart, Google, P&G, and Adidas, rely on these tools to gain digital insights.
Japanese telecom giant NTT to open innovation lab in Israel
Japanese telecommunications giant NTT Corp said Wednesday it was setting up an innovation lab that will be “a focal point” for all of its activities in Israel.

The firm is one of the major players in Japanese communication market and is a ranked among the Fortune 100 companies, with over $100 billion in annual sales and more than 300,000 employees in more than 80 countries.

The NTT Innovation Laboratory Israel will be officially established in the next couple of months, the company said in a statement, and will work jointly with Israeli companies and academia “to develop cutting-edge technologies in various fields,” in a bid to support the activities of NTT and its customers.

The announcement comes amid an escalation of violence between Israel and the Hamas terror group in the Gaza Strip. For the past two days, Israel has been subject to massive barrages of rocket fire from Gaza, and has retaliated with airstrikes on terror targets within the Strip. Illustrative image of the Japanese and Israeli flags (MikhailMishchenko; iStock by Getty Images)

NTT will also explore the integration of existing Israeli technologies into services and products developed by businesses within NTT Group, which span from telecommunications to finance and real estate. The company will also search for business collaborations and investment opportunities with Israeli companies, the statement said.
Website creator expects $14 bln in revenue in next decade
Israel's (WIX.O) on Wednesday forecast more than $14 billion in revenue from existing customers over the next 10 years, saying the COVID crisis has led to more small businesses using its services to build and operate websites.

After higher-than-expected first-quarter revenue, Wix also slightly raised its 2021 outlook.

"The growth that we experienced last year is actually continuing this year," Wix Chief Financial Officer Lior Shemesh told Reuters. Due to the coronavirus, "merchants changed their behaviour. We are not going to go back."

He said the projection of $14 billion in revenue stems from Wix's large marketing campaigns which currently eat into its profit but help to grow its market share. Revenue would be even higher from future customers, Shemesh said.

"Marketing is for future" customers, he added.

As of this quarter, Wix has stopped publishing the amount of users it has, but in February, it had 200 million worldwide, with 5.5 million premium customers at the end of 2020.

The company, which operates on a "freemium" model, noted conversions from free to paid services are growing as Wix adds more tools to help firms manage their business in the wake of acquisitions.


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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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