Wednesday, May 26, 2021

From Ian:

French, Canadian, Israeli, UN officials demand justice for Sarah Halimi
Leaders and officials from France, Canada, Israel and the United Nations held a special digital rally demanding justice for Sarah Halimi, a French Jewish grandmother murdered by Kobili Traore.

Halimi was brutally beaten and thrown from her balcony window by Traore, who repeatedly shouted "Allahu Akbar" during the murder. The crime was widely condemned as being antisemitic. However, as Traore was under the influence of marijuana at the time, the French court ruled that he wouldn't stand trial.

This led to public outcry across the world as tens of thousands took to the streets and social medias to voice their outrage at the decision. “We should never, ever forget Sarah Halimi. This [court’s] decision hurts me, hurts us - citizens of the French Republic. It’s truly a judicial and moral catastrophe,” former French prime minister Manuel Valls said at the digital rally, which was organized by the watchdog NGO Combat Antisemitism Movement (CAM) and the French Jewish umbrella organization the Council of French Jewish Institutions (CRIF).

“Antisemitism has been ravaging… France for more than 12 decades. This antisemitism comes from the far right, from the far left, from our working-class districts, from the Arab-Muslim world under the guise of hatred for Israel and for Jews, or simply hatred. We must eradicate antisemitism from our society.”

The rally also comes as antisemitism has spiked across the Western world, which itself coincided with significant condemnations against Israel and those perceived as being Zionists amid Israel's latest round of fighting with the Gaza-based Palestinian terrorist group Hamas.
Pompeo Rekindles Debate About US Response to Iran's Hosting of Al-Qaida
Former U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has made more detailed allegations about Iran's secretive relationship with al-Qaida, rekindling a debate about how the United States should respond to the decades-old cooperation between its Mideast rival and the anti-American terrorist network.

In an interview that aired Friday on VOA Persian's TV channel, the former top U.S. diplomat, who left office in January, said Iran's Islamist rulers have allowed al-Qaida's most senior operational leaders to stay in the country on two conditions.

"(First), you'll do what we tell you to do. And second, you won't conduct operations against Iranian assets or inside of Iran. I'm certain that's the case," said Pompeo, who also served as CIA director prior to leading the State Department under former President Donald Trump.

Pompeo said those two conditions give Iran "enormous control" over al-Qaida. As for what al-Qaida gets in exchange for abiding by Iran's rules, he said Tehran "provide(s) support and enable(s) these al-Qaida leaders to conduct their global operations campaign."

The remarks were an expansion on details shared by Pompeo about the Iran-al-Qaida relationship in a January 12 speech in Washington while he was still secretary of state, eight days before he stepped down on the day of President Joe Biden's inauguration.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called on U.S. allies Tuesday to help fight the new axis of terror, calling it a 'massive force for evil'

Relationship began in '90s
In the speech, Pompeo said Iran in recent years had decided to allow al-Qaida to establish "a new operational headquarters" in the country on condition that it abides by rules that he did not specify. That cooperation, according to U.S. intelligence assessments and declassified al-Qaida documents, began in the early 1990s, when Iran's Shiite Islamist ruling clerics hosted operatives of the Sunni Islamist terror group for training exercises.
Missile Defense, Mocked as ‘Fantasy,’ Is Big Winner of Israel-Gaza War
The concept of missile defense, long mocked by mainstream journalists, was a big winner in the recent combat between Israel and the Hamas terrorist group.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu underscored that in remarks Tuesday morning May 25 with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Jerusalem, Israel, thanking Blinken for “replenishments of Iron Dome interceptors that saved civilian lives.”

Blinken replied, “we had a detailed discussion about Israel’s security needs, including replenishing Iron Dome.”

US President Joe Biden made a similar point Thursday evening from the White House. “The Prime Minister also shared with me his appreciation for the Iron Dome system, which our nations developed together and which has saved the lives of countless Israeli citizens, both Arab and Jew,” Biden said. “I assured him of my full support to replenish Israel’s Iron Dome system to ensure its defenses and security in the future.”

The Israeli Air Force said that during the recent hostilities about 4,340 rockets had been fired from the Gaza Strip at Israel. About 640 of those were failed launches that wound up falling in Gaza. The Iron Dome defense had an “an intercept rate of approximately 90%,” the Israeli Air Force said, meaning thousands of incoming rockets were destroyed in midair, before they had a chance to damage Israeli targets.

Republican Senators Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, Tom Cotton and Bill Hagerty have introduced the Emergency Resupply for Iron Dome Act of 2021, which their press release describes as “a bill to authorize the Executive Branch to redirect US foreign assistance to help Israel replenish its highly-effective missile defense interceptors.”
In First Two Days of Conflict, Over 70% of Gaza Casualties Caused by Israeli Strikes Were Combatants: Analysis
A study of the first two days of the recent clashes between Israel and Hamas showed that more than 70% of the casualties caused by Israeli airstrikes were militant operatives, and that 21% of the total deaths on those days were caused by errant Hamas rockets.

The preliminary study, released on Friday by the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center (ITIC), analyzed the names and identities of 74 Palestinians killed in the Gaza Strip between May 10 and May 12, based on death notices by various Palestinian sources, including Hamas.

The group’s breakdown of the casualties showed that 16 died as a result of errant rockets that were fired by Hamas but which landed in Gaza. Those deaths included two Fatah operatives, seven people with unknown civilian-combatant status, and seven minors.

Out of the remaining 58 deaths, which were caused by Israeli strikes, 42 were identified as terrorist activists; among the operatives were 30 Hamas militants, 8 Fatah operatives and 3 Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) operatives. The other 16 deaths included six people listed with unknown civilian-combatant status; nine women or minors; and one 67-year-old male civilian.

The findings show that “out of those killed in Gaza on the first two days of the conflict as a result of Israeli attacks, about two thirds were terrorists and that many of the civilians who lost their lives in Gaza on those two days were hit by Palestinian fire. The full research is still ongoing,” Brig. Gen. (Res.) Yossi Kuperwasser, director of the ITIC, told The Algemeiner.

UNRWA’s False Façade of Neutrality
Walter Eytan, Israel’s first director-general of the Foreign Ministry, made the observation that “The [Palestinian] refugees were a gift to Arab propaganda, which succeeded, by perverting the facts, in turning them into the gravest political liability with which Israel has had to contend in the first decade of her existence. Wherever in the ‘Western’ world anti-Israel feeling exists, it draws its inspiration primarily from the Arab refugees. For all her efforts, Israel has never succeeded in freeing herself from the reproach leveled at her by Arab propaganda: that she drove out the refugees in the first place and has since cruelly denied them the elementary human right of ‘returning home,’ and that in doing so she has ‘defied’ the United Nations.”

Amid this backdrop, the purported neutrality of UNRWA has been demystified time and time again. The organization for Palestinian “refugees” has been exposed repeatedly as one of the single most important sources for prolonging the Arab-Israeli conflict and preventing the resettlement of Palestinians kept in camps by their Arab brethren.

And yet the myth of its “neutrality” persists.

Every commissioner general of UNRWA attempts to make the case that humanitarian aid is apolitical. Philippe Lazzarini, the current commissioner, is no different. In an op-ed entitled “Aiding Palestine refugees is not political,” he argues that “as the largest UN or humanitarian agency operating in one of the most complex and longest-standing conflicts in the Middle East, we know better than anyone else the importance of remaining neutral. The ongoing attacks and unfounded allegations against UNRWA are but a political tool to delegitimize the agency and the Palestine refugees that it protects. These attacks seek to draw the focus away from the hardships Palestinian refugees face due to their ongoing dispossession and displacement.”

Media pyrotechnics have always worked well for UNRWA. Its spokespeople tweet accusations, voice hollow defenses of its practices, and even cry on TV. UNRWA learned long ago to wave the bloody shirt, proclaim its formal neutrality, and act as an unofficial Palestinian spokesman with the imprimatur of the UN.

Lazzarini, like his predecessors, wants the world to see Palestinians as refugees who must be sustained as welfare cases by the international community.
Biden's Palestinian Mission is Doomed to Fail
The big problem, though, with Mr Biden's commitment for the US to work with the Palestinian Authority in Gaza is that the ability of Mr Abbas's organisation to exercise any influence over Gaza is virtually negligible.

While Mr Abbas continues to indulge in the fiction that he is the legitimate representative of the Palestinian people, the reality so far as Gaza is concerned is that it is the Islamist leaders of Hamas who exercise total control over Gaza.

The jubilant celebrations that took place among Palestinians when the ceasefire finally took hold were not held to express their relief that the fighting was over. The celebrations took place as a demonstration of support for Hamas's role in launching a massive attack on Israel.

The bad news for Mr Biden is that Hamas not only has zero interest in working with the US and other aid agencies on reconstruction projects in Gaza and other Palestinian territories. It has no interest in resolving tensions with Israel.

[T]he main objective of the Hamas movement, which has been designated a terrorist organisation by the US and a host of other Western governments, is the complete destruction of the state of Israel, an ambition it shares with Iran, Hamas's close ally and benefactor.

Indeed, Israeli intelligence officials believe Iran deliberately used the recent bout of fighting to test Israel's air defence systems with a view to improving Hamas's capability to inflict maximum damage on the Israeli people in any future conflict.
Jonathan S. Tobin: If the US wants to be humane, it won’t ‘rebuild’ Gaza
The fundamental mistake here is not just the notion that America can maintain its alliance with Israel while also being good friends with a Palestinian Arab nationalist movement committed to the Jewish state’s destruction. Rather, the immediate problem is that Biden and Blinken think they can aid the people of Gaza without helping or even rewarding Hamas.

They cannot. What’s more, not only is that impossible, anything done to advance such an objective won’t be just a tactical error that will give Hamas a short-term advantage. It will also send a message to all Palestinians that the long-term objective of Hamas—namely, the elimination of Israel—is not only still on the table, but a realistic future option towards which they should work.

As the international community learned after it devoted many billions of dollars to aid to reconstruct Gaza after the 2014 war, it was virtually impossible to ensure that the money helped ordinary Palestinians rather than their Hamas tyrants. There has never been an example in history of cash pouring into a totalitarian regime—exactly what the Islamist-ruled, independent Palestinian state in all but name that exists in Gaza truly is—that could be kept out of the clutches of the rulers in one way or another

Some homes destroyed because of Hamas’s policy of using civilians as human shields were indeed rebuilt after 2014. But most of the building material that was let into the coastal enclave went into rebuilding the terrorist group’s military infrastructure, including hundreds of kilometers of tunnels used for storing their armaments and providing shelters for their military personnel, though not civilians.

There is no reason to believe the next round of rebuilding will go any differently. Nor are there any grounds for believing that United Nations officials tasked with the job of guaranteeing that civilian needs are dealt with rather than those of Hamas, will do that.

While administration officials say they will try to force Hamas to choose between—in veteran peace processor Dennis Ross’ words, “their rockets and the well-being of Gaza”—to even suggest that they would ever choose the latter over the former is to take leave of reality altogether. This attitude always results in foreign officials allowing money and material to pour into Gaza, where it will be used by Hamas to make it an even more formidable military target.
The World Will Again Fund Hamas’ Charade
Don't get too upset over the morbid festivities and boasting currently emanating from Gaza. Even if Gaza were completely razed to the ground with one Hamas terrorist barely left on his feet, he would crawl between the rubble and flash a victory sign. From Hamas' perspective, the war itself is their victory, the very essence of its existence. Read the Hamas charter and understand who it is we are fighting. The two central cornerstones of the charter are the destruction of Israel, and the murder of Jews, any Jews. To this end, any means is justified, any cost worthwhile, including the nearly 1,000 rockets Hamas fired at us that landed in Gaza – killing civilians and children and destroying numerous buildings (for which Israel was obviously blamed).

In the movie "Monty Python and the Holy Grail," King Arthur encounters the Black Knight, who prohibits him from crossing a bridge. In their ensuing duel, Arthur severs the knight's arms, but the knight refuses to admit defeat. Armless, the knight continues jumping up and down, declaring his inevitable victory. When his legs are also cut off, rendering him an immobile torso, he mutters, "Alright, we'll call it a draw." Arthur leaves, but not before the limbless knight injects one more insult: "Running away? You yellow bastard! Come back here and take what's coming to you! I'll bite your legs off!" I was reminded of the old Arab adage taught to me by Prof. Moshe Sharon: "Get off of me; my neck is red from the beating I've given you…"

Because here's the truth: The Gazans are well aware of their situation. They are looking around and seeing what's missing and who is gone. Which is why they are not celebrating victory – it's just for show. They are happy about the ceasefire for which they desperately begged, because they had their fill of Israeli airstrikes.
Netanyahu to Blinken: We oppose consulate for Palestinians in Jerusalem
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu informed US Secretary of State Antony Blinken that Israel opposes the reopening of a US consulate for Palestinians in sovereign Israel, hours before the US went public with its plan to do so in Jerusalem.

Netanyahu said Israel would prefer that a consulate to another entity – the Palestinian Authority – not be on Israeli sovereign territory. Blinken did not specify where in Jerusalem the new consulate would be. Many other countries have consulates or embassies to the Palestinians in east Jerusalem, which is part of Israel under Israeli law but not recognized by most countries, or in Ramallah.

The Trump administration then merged the US consulate for Palestinians, on Jerusalem’s Agron Street, into the US Embassy to Israel in West Jerusalem in March 2019; the move was mostly symbolic as most consulate workers continued doing the work they did before, but under the title of “Palestinian Affairs Unit.”

Blinken said in a press conference on Tuesday night that he is not sure what the time frame will be on reopening the consulate.

“I can tell you that it’s, I think, important to have that platform to be able to more effectively engage not just the Palestinian Authority, but Palestinians from different walks of life, the NGO community, the business community, and others. And so we look forward to doing that,” he stated.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said soon after that reopening the consulate “is an important step in our view, in terms of continuing to rebuild the relationship with the Palestinian leaders that was cut off for several years because of the closure of the consulate, because UNRWA funding was cut off in 2018, and there really wasn’t a method for engaging with Palestinian leaders and others.”

Fact Check: Jen Psaki Claims Palestinian Leaders Were 'Cut Off' by Closure of Jerusalem Consulate
CLAIM: Palestinian leaders were “cut off” from the United States by the closure of the U.S. consulate in Jerusalem in 2019.

VERDICT: FALSE. Palestinian leaders were cut off because of their refusal to negotiate and to stop funding terrorism.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki spoke Tuesday about President Joe Biden’s decision to reopen the U.S. consulate in Jerusalem, a separate building from the U.S. embassy. (Biden has said he will keep the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem, which was opened in 2018 by President Donald Trump, fulfilling a promise presidents from both parties had made but never kept.) What was once the consulate is now an annex to the U.S. embassy.

Biden promised to reopen the consulate during the 2020 campaign, falsely referring to it as a consulate in “East Jerusalem.” In fact, the building is in western Jerusalem.

Psaki claimed that the closure of the consulate meant cutting off Palestinian leaders. But Palestinian leaders are in Ramallah, in the West Bank — not in Jerusalem. Consular services and outreach to ordinary Palestinians is still available, and is handled by the embassy.

There were several reasons Palestinian leaders were “cut off.” One was simply that, at the outset, Palestinian leaders did not know anyone in the incoming Trump administration. All of their contacts were in the Beltway — at the State Department and elite foreign policy circles. Trump was an outsider, with whom Palestinian leaders had no relationship.

That relationship was later forged in meeting between Trump and Palestinian Authority (PA) leader Mahmoud Abbas — much to the chagrin of some in the Trump White House, who objected to the PA’s continued funding of terrorism. But President Trump wanted to achieve the “Deal of the Century” between Israelis and Palestinians, and so he reached out.

Palestinian Authority Leader Mistakenly Refers to Tony Blinken as Hillary Clinton
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas referred to Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Tuesday as “Secretary Clinton” before staff corrected him.

From the transcript:
PRESIDENT ABBAS: (Via interpreter) In the name of God, the merciful and the compassionate, we would like to welcome Secretary Clinton, who visits us these — in these days —
STAFF: Blinken.

PRESIDENT ABBAS: (Via interpreter) — sorry — Blinken, who visits us in these days —
SECRETARY BLINKEN: It’s an improvement. (Laughter.)

President Joe Biden sent Blinken to visit the Middle East as part of an effort to sustain a ceasefire between Hamas terrorists and Israel.

Blinken announced the United States would request $75 million to help the Palestinians from Congress, as well as $5.5 million in immediate disaster assistance, and $32 million for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees emergency humanitarian appeal.

He also announced that Biden was committed to reopening a diplomatic consulate in Jerusalem for further diplomatic exchanges with the Palestinians.
Can US help rebuild Gaza without rehabilitating Hamas?
PA President Mahmoud Abbas told Blinken Tuesday that his government “stands ready to work directly in order for the reconstruction of Gaza” and that the members of any future unity government, including Hamas, will “abide by international legitimacy resolutions that are known for everyone.”

But Abbas has in the past balked at proposals to re-establish the PA’s control in Gaza after it was violently ousted by Hamas in a 2007 coup. The PA president has conditioned a return on Hamas disarmament, which the terror group has long refused to consider.

Ross speculated that Abbas “should have an interest in wanting to show his relevance,” but admitted that might not be enough on its own, given that Hamas will not give up its weapons.

Goldenberg, in an Israel Policy Forum webinar Tuesday, suggested that encouraging the Palestinians to move forward with elections — called off in April by Abbas — would help boost the legitimacy of their leadership and contribute to reconstruction efforts.

But Ross argued that the PA should first be pushed to institute reforms aimed at fighting corruption and promoting rule of law before it moves forward with elections.

Nonetheless, the former Middle East envoy said that both Israel and the US had best learn from the “mistakes” that allowed for the sidelining of the more moderate PA for the Hamas terror group.

“You can say the PA hasn’t acted in a way that makes peace more likely, but they’re not ideologically rejecting it the way Hamas is,” Ross argued, pointing to Israel’s security cooperation with Abbas’s forces in the West Bank, which has long been touted by IDF generals and could never be replicated with Hamas forces in Gaza.

Blinken, too, struck an upbeat tone on the prospect of emboldening the PA in Gaza after his meeting with Abbas, telling reporters that if the reconstruction process is done right, “far from empowering Hamas, [it] has the potential to undermine it.”
Biden administration adds $38.5 million in aid to the Palestinians
The Biden administration increased its assistance to Palestinians by $38.5 million in the wake of the latest Gaza war and pledged to abide by existing law that bars US aid to the Palestinian Authority as long it continues its prisoner payment policy.

On Wednesday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken outlined the additional funds that the administration plans to steer to the Palestinians in a statement from the State Department. It came as Blinken wrapped up his trip to Israel and the West Bank where he met with Israeli and Palestinian leaders to discuss sustaining the ceasefire that ended the 11-day rocket exchange this month between Israel and the Gaza-ruling Hamas terror group.

Blinken said an additional $33 million would go to UNRWA, the United Nations agency that administers relief to the Palestinians, on top of the $150 million for the agency announced in April.

Along with another $150 million that Congress has approved for humanitarian assistance to the Palestinians for 2020 and 2021 directed to nongovernmental organizations, $5.5 million will be designated for recovery from the war this month, including “emergency shelter, food, relief items, and health care, as well as mental health and psychosocial support for those who experienced trauma,” Blinken said.

He added that the Biden administration would abide by laws that require the money go directly to the Palestinians and not to Hamas or the Palestinian Authority.

The United States bans any assistance to Hamas, a designated terrorist group. The Taylor Force Act bars aid to the Palestinian Authority as long as it subsidizes families of terrorists who have killed Israeli or US civilians as part of its welfare program. Officials in Ramallah told The Times of Israel in December that it is working on amending the policy so it falls into compliance with the US legislation by basing the stipends on recipients’ financial needs rather than the length of the prison sentences.
PMW: Is renewing US funding to the PA legal under US law?
Numerous pieces of US legislation limit US aid to the Palestinian Authority:
The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2016 limited US aid to the PA by deducting an amount equivalent to the PA payments to terrorist prisoners and the families of dead terrorists from the annual allocation.
The Taylor Force Act, 2018 limited all US aid to the PA given via the Economic Support Fund, until the PA completely abolishes its terror reward payments and meets other conditions.
The Anti-terrorism Clarification Act, 2018 forced the PA to choose between supporting terror or receiving US aid. The PA chose terror support.
The Anti-Terrorism Act, 1987, inter alia, designated the PLO as a terror organization and consequently limits the use of US aid given to the PA.
The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2014 also limited US Economic Support Fund aid, if the PA initiates or actively supports an ICC investigation against Israel. The PA has initiated such an investigation and is actively supporting it.
The Palestinian Anti-Terrorism Act, 2006 would limit US aid to the PA if any PA government were to include members or representatives of the terror organization Hamas.
US aid to UNRWA is not limited by US law.
Blinken: Israel ‘took very significant steps’ to avoid hitting Gaza civilians
Blinken said this was “particularly” the case in light of the “attacks from a terrorist group indiscriminately targeting civilians,” saying “we want to make sure that Israel has the means to deal with that.”

He stressed though that as a democracy, Israel has an “extra burden” to avoid civilian casualties when responding to attacks targeting Israeli citizens. The interviewer, news anchor Yonit Levi, asked Blinken if Israel sought to avoid hitting civilians while striking in Gaza during the recent conflict.

“I think Israel took very significant steps to do that, but we also know that on both sides men, women, and especially children were lost, and I think that’s deeply painful, and it’s a reminder that we throw around numbers, statistics, but these statistics, these numbers can’t hide the fact that we’re talking about real human beings,” he said.

The latest military confrontation with Hamas ended in a ceasefire early Friday. It began on May 10 when Hamas launched a massive rocket barrage on Israeli cities, sparking IDF retaliatory strikes and 11 days of fighting, leaving 13 dead in Israel and over 240 fatalities in Gaza. The Israeli army said most of those killed in Gaza were terror combatants.

Blinken said he believed there was “a lot of work” needed to “rebuild some confidence, to try to rebuild some trust,” before seeking to restart Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. “We continue to believe very strongly that a two-state solution is not just the best way, but probably the only way to really assure that going forward, Israel has a future as a secure Jewish and democratic state, and the Palestinians have a state to which they’re entitled,” he said.
Muslim nations ask UN to form unprecedented permanent panel to critique Israel
Member states of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation are calling on the UN Human Rights Council to set up a permanent commission to report on alleged human rights violations in Israel, Gaza and the West Bank.

The move comes in the wake of this month’s 11-day conflict between Israel and terror groups in Gaza. If passed, it would mark an unprecedented level of scrutiny authorized by the UN’s top human rights body.

The proposal by the OIC comes ahead of a special session of the Geneva-based council on Thursday to address “the grave human rights situation” in Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem. The meeting was sought by Pakistan, the OIC’s coordinator.

The investigators, the text of Pakistan’s request said, should probe “all alleged violations and abuses” of international law linked to the tensions that sparked the latest violence.

The Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza said at least 243 Palestinians were killed, including 66 children and teens, with 1,910 people wounded in the violence. It does not differentiate between terror group members and civilians. The Israeli military maintained that it killed some 225 terrorist operatives and that the Palestinian death toll was in fact considerably higher than was reported. It said some of the civilian fatalities were caused by Hamas rockets falling short and landing in the Strip.

Majority Leader Hoyer Pressured Rep. Gottheimer to Vote ‘No’ on Israel Security Funding
Democratic House majority leader Steny Hoyer (Md.) pressured Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D., N.J.) to vote against last week's Republican-led effort to provide Israel with emergency funding for its Iron Dome missile defense system, according to multiple sources who witnessed a heated exchange between the two on the House floor.

Gottheimer initially broke ranks with the Democrats to vote with Republicans in support of an amendment that would have paved the way for Israel to receive more than $300 million in emergency dollars for its missile defense programs. The measure, which was offered as an amendment to a bill to increase security in and around the Capitol complex, ultimately failed last Thursday along a mostly party-line vote of 218-209.

Gottheimer switched his vote from "Yea" to "Nay" after Hoyer strong-armed him on the House floor, according to multiple witnesses. The confrontation illustrates the immense pressure Democrats are under to oppose issues championed by Republicans—even the historically bipartisan United States-Israel security alliance. The alliance has become increasingly politicized in recent weeks as the Democratic Party's anti-Israel flank pushes for aid to be suspended.

After Gottheimer registered his vote in favor of the Iron Dome funding amendment, Hoyer pulled him aside for an intense conversation, according to one member of Congress who witnessed the exchange but asked to remain anonymous. Two other sources confirmed the lawmaker's account.

Gottheimer was officially registered as a "Yea" vote, according to the official congressional record on that day. He and several other lawmakers eventually changed their position on the measure before voting on the matter closed, the congressional record shows. Video of the House floor by C-SPAN also shows Gottheimer walking up to change his vote.

"Steny was telling him it was going to be alright and not to worry," said the lawmaker who witnessed the exchange. "He had his arm around him and was stroking his shoulder. I guess Steny got him to change his vote." Gottheimer "looked like he'd seen a ghost" after the conversation, the member said.

‘You can always count on us’: UK top diplomat visits Israel after Gaza fighting
Visiting UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab on Wednesday met with Israeli leaders to discuss the 11-day conflict with the Hamas terror group in the Gaza Strip and the ceasefire that brought the fighting to an end.

In remarks before meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Raab said he was in the country “as a friend… that’s a great supporter of Israel.”

“We’re looking forward to talking about the bilateral relationship but also how we move things forward elsewhere,” Raab said. “You can always count on us.”

Netanyahu asked Raab to thank British Prime Minister Boris Johnson for the United Kingdom’s “staunch, unwavering support of our right to self-defense during the recent operation,” which saw over 4,000 rockets fired at Israeli cities and towns from the coastal enclave, killing 13 in Israel.

“It’s much appreciated,” the premier said.

After the meeting, Raab tweeted that the two also discussed “the importance of a durable ceasefire in Gaza and the need to fight antisemitism.” The UK has seen a marked rise in antisemitic incidents amid the fighting in Gaza, sparking concerns among British Jews.

Israeli boy, 5, who survived cable car crash opens his eyes
A five-year-old Israeli boy who was the sole survivor of an Italian cable car crash on Wednesday opened his eyes for the first time since the accident that killed his parents, his brother, and two of his great-grandparents.

An official at the Regina Margherita Hospital in Turin, where he is being treated, said that Biran, who has been sedated and on ventilation, briefly opened his eyes, according to Italian media reports.

The hospital official said it was “a very delicate stage.”

His aunt, a doctor living in Italy, was said to have been at his bedside when he came round. Biran suffered multiple broken bones in the crash, though doctors determined there was no neurological damage. He has been gradually taken off sedation as his condition improved.

Israeli media reported that a local psychiatrist has been appointed to break the news to the child of the loss of his family.

The bodies of the five members of the Biran family killed in the crash arrived in Israel on Wednesday evening for burial, Israeli Ambassador to Italy Dror Eydar said.

Three people have been arrested over the cable car crash in northern Italy, including the owner and manager of the Mottarone cable car company, which operates the site. Luigi Nerini was arrested along with the company’s lead engineer and operative head of service, according to Italian media.

Hamas's Sinwar: We have 500 km of tunnels in Gaza, only 5% were damaged
Gaza’s Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar claimed on Wednesday that Hamas has 500 km. of tunnels in the Gaza Strip and that only five percent of the tunnels had been damaged in recent clashes.

In his first speech since Operation Guardian of the Walls ended, Sinwar also warned that the Islamic terror group has 10,000 “martyrs” inside Israel who are “ready to respond” if Jerusalem is harmed. “In the coming period, we will carry out an advanced popular resistance, whose back will be protected by military resistance,” he added.

Sinwar added that shortly before the ceasefire came into effect, Hamas had planned to fire 300 rockets at once, with 150 being directed at Tel Aviv, but decided not to out of respect for the Egyptian and Qatari mediators. Sinwar claimed that Hamas has the ability to launch hundreds of rockets per minute, with a range of 100-200 km.

The Hamas leader stressed that the ceasefire with Israel is unconditional and that no agreement had been signed by either side.

Despite reports that Israeli strikes destroyed much of the Hamas tunnel network (known as the “Metro”), Sinwar claimed that the Islamic terrorist movement has over 500 km. of tunnels in Gaza and that not even 5% of the tunnels were impacted by the strikes. Sinwar added that the damaged sections would be repaired within a few days.
MEMRI: Senior Hamas Official Mahmoud Al-Zahar: The Land Is Not Suitable For A Two-State Solution; The Israelis Should Leave – Netanyahu Should Go Live With His Father In The U.S., And Lieberman With His Father In Russia
Senior Hamas official Mahmoud Al-Zahar said that the land of Palestine is not suitable for a two-state solution, and that the occupation should end and "each [Israeli] will go his way." He made his remarks in an interview that aired on Al-Jazeera TV (Qatar) on May 25, 2021. Al-Zahar said that Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu should go live in the U.S. and that former Foreign Minister Lieberman should go live in Russia. He emphasized that Palestine is an Arab and Islamic land. Al-Zahhar went on to say that Iran, Syria, and Hizbullah are enemies of Israel, and therefore they are the enemies of Hamas's enemy. He said: "It is our duty to cooperate on all levels, in order to liberate the land and get rid of this cancer."

"This Land Is Not Suitable For A Two-State Solution... Palestine Is An Arab And Islamic Land, Which Is Mentioned In The Quran"

Mahmoud Al-Zahar:"This land is not suitable for a two-state solution. It's either or. Either the occupation remains forever – an option that has become completely inconceivable – or this occupation will be removed and each [Israeli] will go his way.

"Netanyahu's father is still living in America, so he should go to America. Lieberman's father is still living in Russia, so he should go to Russia. Whoever came from those countries should go back there. Palestine is an Arab and Islamic land, which is mentioned in the Quran.

"It Is Our Duty To Cooperate [With Iran, Syria, And Hizbullah] On All Levels, In Order To Liberate The Land And Get Rid Of This Cancer"

"Iran has been targeted by the Israeli entity, which killed Iranian leaders. [Israel] incited America to place an [economic] siege on Iran. Therefore, Iran is the enemy of our enemy. Syrian lands are occupied, including the Golan Heights. Syria is the enemy of our enemy.

Hamas Asks Late Night Hosts to Investigate Israeli War Crimes after UN Says Israeli Strikes ‘Precise’, ‘Accurate’ (satire)
In a shocking twist to the 2021 Israel-Gaza War, Mattias Schmale, the Director of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) in Gaza told reporters that he believes the IDF “struck targets with ‘sophistication’ and ‘precision’.” Unsurprisingly, anger was widespread and condemnation was quick.

Hamas, who has (literally) worked for UNRWA, as well as having used UNRWA schools from which to hide and fire rockets, was swift in deciding how to handle this unprecedented comment by a longtime BFF. Their answer to UNRWA’s betrayal was to pull out the big guns – late night comedians.

The Iranian-backed terror organization asked comedians John Oliver and Trevor Noah to conduct a fair, independent inquiry into the IDF’s military actions in Gaza. Both Oliver and Noah have denied their request stating, “we have already examined the conflict and made our misleading and ill-informed findings public, albeit from 7,000 miles away and long before the ceasefire. We did our best guys, not much more we can do. Hey, at least we managed to unwittingly help increase anti-Semitic attacks across the US.”

Hamas has further requested that actor Mark Ruffalo, an expert on the denial of Hamas’s use of human shields, also join the investigation.
MEMRI: Egyptian Islamic Scholar Hazem Shouman: Allah Promised The Total Destruction Of The Jews; The Faces Of The Jews Will Be Disfigured From What The Muslim Will Do To Them
Egyptian Islamic Scholar Hazem Shouman said that Allah promised the total destruction of the Jews. He made these remarks in a video posted on his official YouTube channel on May 15, 2021. Shouman said that Allah could make this happen, like the Russian Military Choir that drowned in the ocean after their plane crashed, or hurricanes Harvey and Katrina. Shouman continued to say that according to the Quran, the Jews will be defeated twice, like during the time of the Prophet Muhammad in Khaybar. He explained that "the face of the Jews will be disfigured from what the Muslims will do to them." Shouman added that according to the Quran, the Muslims will regain control over Jerusalem and the Al-Aqsa Mosque.

"Total Destruction Of The Jews – That Is What Allah Promised Us, And We Believe Allah's Promise"

Hazem Shouman: "My friends, do not despair. Allah said [in the Quran]: 'We conveyed to the Children of Israel in the Scripture that 'You will surely cause corruption on the earth twice, and you will surely reach [a degree of] great haughtiness.' Then, when the promise of the first of the two came...' Like what happened in the days of the Prophet Muhammad, when we defeated the Jews in Khaybar. 'Then, when the promise of the first of the two came, we sent against you servants of Ours — those of great might, and they probed [even] into the homes, and it was a promise fulfilled.' 'Then, when the promise of the Hereafter comes...'

"This is the promise that we are waiting for [to be fulfilled] in our times, Allah willing. It is a promise from our Lord: '[servants of Ours] will deface you...' The faces of the Jews will be disfigured from what the Muslims will do to them.' "'To deface you and to enter the Mosque as they entered it the first time...'

"This means regaining control over Jerusalem and the Al-Aqsa Mosque. '...and to destroy what they had taken over with [total] destruction.'

"Total destruction of the Jews — that is what Allah promised us, and we believe Allah's promise.
After cough-filled speech, Israeli military hints Nasrallah may have COVID
The Israeli military believes Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah may have contracted the coronavirus, following a speech on Tuesday in which the terrorist leader was seen coughing and occasionally struggling for breath, The Times of Israel has learned.

The Israel Defense Forces’ assessment appeared to be largely based on circumstantial evidence as, according to Israel’s Channel 13, Nasrallah has not yet actually been tested for COVID-19.

During his speech, the terror leader threatened “regional war” if Israel attacked holy sites in Jerusalem.

“The Israelis must understand that breaching the holy city and Al-Aqsa mosque and sanctuaries won’t stop at Gaza resistance,” Nasrallah said, referring to the Temple Mount compound in Jerusalem’s Old City.

“Jerusalem means a regional war. All the resistance movements cannot stand by and watch this happening if the holy city is in real, grave danger,” he added.

The speech came on the 21st anniversary of the IDF’s withdrawal from southern Lebanon, following an 18-year occupation of the area, and days after Israel and the Hamas terror group fought an 11-day battle in and around the Gaza Strip, which began when the latter fired multiple rockets toward Jerusalem after Israeli police officers responded forcefully to a riot on the Temple Mount.

Israeli military officials derided the speech by Nasrallah, who appeared pale and weak on camera, calling it a mistake.

IAEA chief: Iran’s uranium enrichment now at levels of ‘countries making bombs’
The head of the United Nations nuclear watchdog has said Iran is enriching uranium to levels that only countries seeking to make atomic weapons reach, and that the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program can no longer be returned to where it stood when a landmark 2015 deal was struck with world powers.

“A country enriching at 60 percent is a very serious thing — only countries making bombs are reaching this level,” International Atomic Energy Agency chief Rafael Grossi said in an interview with the Financial Times published on Wednesday and cited by the Reuters News Agency.

“Sixty percent is almost weapons-grade, commercial enrichment is 2, 3 [percent],” he said. “This is a degree that requires a vigilant eye.”

Though Grossi conceded that Iran has the right to develop its nuclear program, he warned of the consequences of it going too far.

“You cannot put the genie back into the bottle — once you know how to do stuff, you know, and the only way to check this is through verification,” he said, referring to checks by UN monitors.

With the sophistication that Iran has achieved, “you want a really strong, very sturdy verification system,” he said.
Senate Republicans Move to Mandate Congressional Approval for New Iran Deal
A measure in the Senate would require the Biden administration to obtain congressional approval before inking a deal with Iran, according to a copy of the draft amendment obtained by the Washington Free Beacon.

The amendment would establish a significant roadblock in the Biden administration's bid to reenter the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran. As negotiations in Vienna with Tehran and European nations progress, the Republican-backed amendment would prevent the Biden administration from signing any new deal without Senate approval. With the body divided along party lines, it is likely the amendment will be broadly supported by the GOP and opposed by Democrats, who largely support the administration's effort to grant Tehran billions of dollars in sanctions relief. It is unclear to what bill the amendment will be attached.

Sen. Ron Johnson (R., Wis.) spearheaded the amendment, which is already cosponsored by James Risch (R., Idaho), Ted Cruz (R., Texas), Marco Rubio (R., Fla.), and John Barrasso (R., Wyo.)—all of whom are on record as opposing the Biden administration's diplomacy with Iran.

The measure is among the first tangible attempts by Senate Republicans to stop the Biden administration from reentering the Iran nuclear deal, which former president Donald Trump abandoned in 2018.

While it is unlikely any Democrats will break ranks to support the effort, several Democrats, including Senators Ben Cardin (Md.), Joe Manchin (W. Va.), and Bob Menendez (N.J.), broke ranks with the Obama administration in 2015 to oppose the accord. The Obama administration was ultimately able to enter the accord by skirting Congress. Republicans do not want to see that happen again.

"Our adversaries understand the Biden administration will chart the same weak and disastrous course as President Obama," Johnson said in a statement to the Washington Free Beacon. "It's clear the Biden administration is in the business of appeasing adversaries like Russia, state sponsors of terrorism like Iran, and its terrorist proxies like Hamas. Instead of addressing the threats these actors pose, the administration will coddle the Iranian regime and ignore its malign activity throughout the region."
Blast at Iran petrochemical complex kills a worker and injures 2
A petrochemical site in southern Iran was hit by an explosion that killed one worker and injured two others, local media reported Wednesday.

It was the latest in a series of mysterious blasts and malfunctions in Iran, many of which have been blamed by Tehran on Israel.

Authorities at the city of Asaluyehin in the Bushehr province said the blast originated in the oxygen transmission pipeline to two local petrochemical complexes, according to state news agency IRNA.

“Currently, a technical emergency working group has been formed to investigate the cause of the accident, and after clarifying the dimensions of the accident, information will be provided,” Asaluyehin Governor Abdolnabi Yousefi said.

“The reason for the blast is under investigation and the fire has been extinguished,” he said.

Numerous explosions have been reported over the past few years in complexes vital to Iran’s nuclear program and its energy and military sectors, most notably an alleged sabotage at the Natanz atomic plant and the killing of the regime’s top nuclear scientists in two separate incidents last year.

Guardian removes photo with 'Zionism is Genocide' charge
Yesterday, we posted about an error-ridden Guardian op-ed by Arielle Angel, chief editor of the anti-Zionist publication Jewish Currents. In the piece (“Jewish Americans are at a turning point with Israel”, May 22), Angel argues that Jews like himself are in the vanguard of a growing movement within the Jewish community that opposes the continued existence of the Jewish state, and was illustrated by Guardian editors with the following photo.

We identified the woman as Shatzi Weisberger, a mini-celebrity in New York among anti-Israel activists, a member of the anti-Zionist and often antisemitic group ‘Jewish Voice for Peace’, someone who expresses support for jailed Palestinian terrorists and routinely levels the ‘Israel is committing genocide’ charge on social media.

Their decision to use this particular photo (taken at a recent anti-Israel protest in NYC) is disturbing. First, note that the placard doesn’t ‘merely’ say, as the op-ed implicitly does, that Zionism is intrinsically racist, but that it’s, in essence, a genocidal movement. Further, the fact that the woman holding the sign is 90 years old – and, thus, was a young adult when the Nazi genocide against the Jews took place – would have the impact to Guardian readers of ascribing greater credibility to that grotesque charge.

Further, and of even greater importance, as we argued in a tweet to the Guardian’s photo editor, such an incendiary charge – which, in effect, implicates Jews, most of whom support Israel, in the crime of genocide – is especially irresponsible in light of the surge of antisemitic attacks in the UK and other cities in recent weeks.

A few hours after our tweet, we noticed that the photo had been replaced – albeit, without an editor’s note explaining the change.
Israeli NGO to YouTube: Remove Arabic war propaganda with 53 million views
Israeli NGO Mattot Arim, which says that it advocates "peace for peace," filed an urgent complaint to YouTube last night.

The complaint is against an Arabic-language clip, in which a singer exhorts his 53 million Arab-speaking viewers to violence.

The video was posted last year but has many views and feedbacks from the past few days, apparently on the backdrop of Hamas’s recent unprovoked attack on Israel’s citizenry.

The singer exhorts, “The machine gun is ready. Attend the shrouds, the funerals...I announce an alert with the sound of the guns”. “The time has come for a fierce war”, he sings, adding that “the smell of gunpowder is more pleasant than perfume”. Visually, the singer brandishes a gun and also loads a case of automatic weapons into his car. He draws his finger across his throat threateningly, at minute 3.50.

The Mattot Arim complaint was under the category of “Hateful or abusive content” which “Promotes hatred or violence”. Only a very short message to youtube is permitted.

The YouTube standard automated response to the complaint was: “ If we find this content to be in violation of our Community Guidelines, we will remove it.”
IAI unveils system to extend satellite life span by flagging and fixing mishaps
Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) has developed a new system to operate and manage observation and communication satellites, designed to extend the life of satellites deployed into orbit.

The new SatGuard system uses AI, big data and machine learning technologies that are able to detect anomalies and other irregularities in satellites’ operations.

Telemetry information received from the satellites enables the system to analyze trends and identify irregularities and changes, address them, and prevent future anomalies, IAI said in a statement.

The technology is based on the years of space experience garnered by systems developed by IAI’s Systems, Missiles and Space Group and as part of the IAI’s Innovation Center acceleration program, called the SPARX Innovation Lab, which is operated in collaboration with Starburst, a global startup accelerator specializing in aerospace.

The proof of concept of the new system was done on data received from Venus, a research satellite developed and built by IAI for the Israeli and French space agencies, the statement said.
Our Fair City
More than a century ago, Americans could visit a simulated Jerusalem without ever leaving the country

Incorporating Jerusalem into the fair’s wondrous landscape was touted as a way to include faith, religious belief, within the panoply of modern American values the fair was designed to celebrate: progress, know-how, gumption. That this display promised investors substantial returns on their investment didn’t hurt, either. A testament to both American ingenuity and overweening confidence, “Jerusalem, the St. Louis Fair,” as souvenir postcards put it, was even thought to be a mighty improvement on the real thing. Travelers to the Jerusalem of the Middle East received only a “superficial acquaintance” with the city, missing out on its subtleties, pilgrims to the newer Jerusalem were told. “But here, [in St. Louis], there will be a display and a reproduction of many things which thousands of visitors to Jerusalem have never seen.”

Despite the cascade of hosannas, some of the Jewish community’s leaders remained skeptical, especially when a company of “orthodox Hebrews,” largely “patriarchs,” each clad in a “sacred praying robe” (i.e., a tallit), were trotted out along with a Torah scroll as part of the opening day dedication ceremonies and expected to attend publicly to their prayers, before the 10,000-strong audience.

This demonstration didn’t sit well with the American Israelite, for instance, which clucked that the exhibit’s promoters were lacking in “that delicacy of feeling that should mark those in charge of an enterprise of this kind,” and suggested that “if the managers of the Jerusalem reproduction are wise they will change their methods.”

The paper’s caution, though, didn’t stop American Jews at the grassroots from flocking in great numbers to the fair—so much so that the Anglo-Jewish press made a point of announcing in its social columns that Mr. and Mrs. J.C. Harris of Avondale, Ohio, and Miss Hattie August of Rochester, New York, along with of many of their co-religionists, had left town to “take in the sights of the Fair.” Later still, when the High Holidays rolled around, several hundred Jews celebrated Yom Kippur in the ersatz Jerusalem in what can only be called a staging, a confirmation, of the site’s authenticity.

The architects of the American Jerusalem had high hopes that they’d be able to take it on the road and “transport to other places” once the World’s Fair had closed its doors, but that didn’t pan out. The exhibition suffered the same fate as the fair itself which, with the exception of a handful of buildings such as the Palace of Fine Arts (later home to the St. Louis Art Museum), was torn down. The only other enduring legacy of the 1904 World’s Fair was the song “Meet Me in St. Louis,” which Judy Garland popularized years later, and to which, for the sake of history, the verse “Next Year, in St. Louis” might now be added.
1,500-year-old amulet bearing Jewish God’s name handed to Antiquities Authority
An amulet bearing the name of the God of Israel, which dates back some 1,500 years and was unearthed 40 years ago, has been handed over to the Israel Antiquities Authority, the organization said in a statement Wednesday, thanking the donor for demonstrating “good citizenship.”

The necklace pendant was found by the late Tova Haviv, one of the first members of the community of Arbel, near Tiberias. The moshav had an ancient Jewish settlement during the Byzantine period — which was the Talmudic era in the Galilee — and features an ancient synagogue. A member of Haviv’s family has now handed the find over to the IAA’s National Treasures Center.

The bronze pendant attests to its owner’s beliefs and fear of the evil eye and harmful demons.

The obverse bears the figure of a rider on a galloping horse. The rider’s head is encircled with a halo and he thrusts a spear down toward a female figure lying on her back. Engraved in a semicircle above the rider is a Greek inscription that reads: “The One God who Conquers Evil.” Beneath the horse’s legs are four Greek letters: I A W Θ, which stand for God’s Hebrew name (Yahweh, YHWH).

An eye depicted on the reverse is pierced by arrows and by a forked object. The eye is threatened from below by two lions, a snake, a scorpion and a bird. On the upper part of the same side is the abbreviated Greek inscription: “One God.”
Pope kisses Holocaust survivor’s Auschwitz tattoo
Pope Francis has kissed the tattoo of an Auschwitz survivor during a general audience on Wednesday.

Lidia Maksymowicz, 80, a Polish citizen who was deported to Auschwitz from her native Belarus by the age of 3, showed the pope the number tattooed on her arm by the Nazis, and Francis leaned over and kissed it.

Maksymowicz told Vatican News that she didn’t exchange words with the pope.

“We understood each other with a glance,” she said.

Maksymowicz has participated in events sponsored by Sant’Egidio aimed at educating youth about the Holocaust. She spent three years in the children’s area of the camp, and was subjected to experiences by Josef Mengele, known as the “Angel of Death.” When the camp was freed, she was taken in by a Polish family.

Pope Francis talks with Lidia Maksymowicz, a Holocaust survivor, who was prisoner in the Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination camp before leaving San Damaso Courtyard at the Vatican for his weekly general audience, May 26, 2021. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)

The pope has paid tribute to Holocaust survivors in the past, including a 2014 visit to Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial in Israel and a visit in February to the Rome apartment of a survivor, 88-year-old Hungarian-born writer and poet Edith Bruck.

The Vatican said that during that hour-long visit, Francis told her: “I came to thank you for your witness and to pay homage to the people martyred by the craziness of Nazi populism.”

Israeli Singers Omer Adam, Noa Kirel Release Remix of ‘Hatikvah’ National Anthem
Israeli singers Omer Adam and Noa Kirel released on Tuesday a remix of Israel’s national anthem, “Hatikvah” (“Hope”).

In an Instagram post, Adam explained that especially at this moment, with the end of Operation Guardian of the Walls, Israelis must remember not to lose hope.

“So we took our amazing anthem, that fills our heart and soul with pride every time we sing it, and we added some more words of hope to it, in Hebrew and in English, and we also brought in two great international artists, who worked together with us,” Adam said. “We remind you that there is nothing like our people and our soldiers, and that we should not lose hope! God willing, good days will come upon us and we will return to being one nation in one heart.”

The song additionally features artists Scott Storch and rapper LunchMoney Lewis.

Adam also talked about the whirlwind past year, with Israel overcoming the coronavirus pandemic and then the deadly tragedy at Meron, the Israel-Hamas conflict and the rise of antisemitic attacks against Jews around the world. Kirel, who is also an IDF soldier, in her own Instagram post echoed similar sentiments about the difficult year Jews and Israelis have faced, and said she hopes the new song will “lift morale and emphasize our pride” in being Israeli, “in unity, [and] in togetherness.”

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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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