Friday, June 04, 2021

From Ian:

Judea Pearl: How Did Hamas Become the Darling of the West?
And this brings me to 2021 and to the latest war in Gaza. To the New York Times front page depicting the victims of Israel’s defense operation, as if they had never heard the word “Hamas” or read Hamas’s charter. To CNN’s anchor Fareed Zakaria asserting that Israel is a military superpower, hence Hamas does not pose an existential threat to it. To NYT analyst Nicholas Kristof asserting (in an interview with Bill Maher) that Israel, too, positions its military headquarters among civilians. To UCLA Department of Asian American Studies stating (on its official University website) its “Solidarity with Palestine” and its authoritative understanding that such “violence and intimidation are but the latest manifestation of seventy-three years of settler colonialism, racial apartheid, and occupation.”

To the Statement of scholars of Jewish Studies and Israel Studies from various universities who, in the Forward,condemned “the state violence that the Israeli government and its security forces have been carrying out in Gaza.” To members of If Not Now, saying Kaddish for fallen Hamas fighters (among other victims). And, finally, to the mob roaming the streets of Los Angeles and shouting, “Honk, Honk, From the River to the Sea.”

Looking back on the past 12 years, there is no question that Hamas has gained a major uplift in status and respectability. It has become, in fact, the darling of the West. True, seasoned commentators remember to add the obligatory, “We are not condoning Hamas, of course, but…”

“But what?” I ask.

Doesn’t Fareed Zakaria imply that it is not the end of the world if 300,000 Israeli children continue to bleed sleeplessly for another 20 years under Hamas rockets? Didn’t Nicholas Kristof imply that if those children suffer post-traumatic scars for the rest of their lives that it is Israel’s problem because Israel, too, positions its headquarters in civilian areas? Western analysts will go to any absurd lengths to fabricate symmetry between Israel and Hamas, because symmetry is our new goddess of right and wrong.

But let’s not forget that it all started in academia, with a herd of passionate intellectuals who managed to hijack the name of their academic institution, which hardly cared. Do not blame them. After all, intellectuals are trained to cheer their peers when the marching band starts playing, and academic institutions are too slow to understand what is being done in their names. Sadly, as Ionesco understood so well, we are all herd-honking organisms. Please take another look at the rhinos roaming the streets of Los Angeles, here, and see for yourself how hard it is to hold back and not join them with: Honk, Honk!
Tackling the myth of Israel’s ‘disproportionate response’
Turning from theory to practice, how is the principle of proportionality affected when instead of protecting its civilians, Hamas intentionally conducts its military activity from within densely populated areas? How is Israel expected to protect its major cities from Hamas rockets, when these rockets are developed, built and launched from within the Gazan civilian population? What does international law require Israel, a law-abiding state, to do, when facing Hamas’ unlawful tactics that endanger the people of Gaza and Israeli civilians?

The Law of Armed Conflict clearly states that when a civilian presence is used to shield military objectives from attacks, that presence does not grant the target immunity. So when Hamas commits the double war crime of attacking Israeli children, schools and airports from within its own civilian population, any objective analysis of the situation would be distorted if Hamas’s criminal behaviour is not taken into account.

Despite Hamas’s blatant disregard for the law or its citizens’ wellbeing, Israel takes every feasible precaution to prevent or at least minimise harm to the Palestinian civilian population, often at the cost of operational advantage. In doing so, Israel employs precautions that exceed the requirements of international law and surpasses practices commonly employed by advanced militaries of western states. Fighting a reckless enemy that deliberately abuses the Law of Armed Conflict in the most cynical way raises grave challenges for Israeli soldiers. Nevertheless, Israeli commanders strictly apply international law and maintain the utmost moral high ground in every military action.

Hamas will continue to use its own population as human shields so long as it continues to benefit from a narrative that misrepresents and reduces the concept of proportionality to a crude calculation – and so long as they benefit from knee-jerk reactions that blame Israel for the war crimes perpetrated by Hamas, ignoring the question of who put Gazan civilians in danger in the first place.

Israel conducted a moral and just operation against Hamas’ indiscriminate aggression. Any Israeli government would have acted in the same manner of self-defence. By the same token, any future Israeli government will continue to strive for a long and sustainable peace and quiet with Gaza.

This commitment to peace means Israel will offer, as it always does, humanitarian and any other assistance needed in the reconstruction effort in Gaza, so long as Hamas is prevented from rearming and rebuilding its terrorist capabilities.


Israel’s Potential Post-Netanyahu Government, Explained
5. Can it last? As noted above, this proposed coalition sits on a knife’s edge, with just 61 out of 120 seats. Even if it actually gets sworn in, between its numbers and its incoherent mix of internal ideologies, it’s easy to see how this government could fall apart under the weight of its own contradictions. At the same time, the coalition’s members have many political incentives to stick together. Bennett and his party know that they will be punished by right-wing voters if they do not deliver while in government. The same is true for Abbas, who must make good on his promises to his Arab constituents. Lapid and his allies want the government to last two years so that he will get his turn at the helm. And all the while, Benjamin Netanyahu will loom over it all as leader of the opposition, providing a constant reminder to the coalition as to why they banded together in the first place. Netanyahu himself managed to hold power for years with a 61-seat coalition, which means it’s entirely possible for his opponents to do the same, and more likely than many skeptics assume. But it won’t be easy.

6. Biden’s big opportunity: Netanyahu, with his American upbringing and unaccented English, long believed that he could run circles around American politics and politicians—and often did. This mindset led Bibi to take unprecedented partisan stances in American politics, ratchet up public tensions with President Barack Obama, openly campaign against the Iran deal in the U.S. Congress, and regularly rebuff entreaties on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

But historically, most Israeli leaders—including avowedly right-wing ones like Ariel Sharon—have not had the appetite for such confrontation, and responded to pressure from the senior partner in the U.S.-Israel relationship. Bennett, especially in this government, may find it hard to shrug off Biden’s interventions on everything from Iran to Palestinian policy in the way Netanyahu has with successive American presidents. And Lapid, the other half of this government, wants nothing more than to work closely with Biden and the Democrats to reset the U.S.-Israel relationship on a bipartisan footing. This means that a pathway for a sophisticated and serious diplomatic approach on Israel, the West Bank, Gaza, and the Iran deal just opened up where there wasn’t one yesterday. The question is whether the administration is ready to seize it.

Donald Trump, contrary to some of his critics, was quite successful in remaking much of the Middle East in his image. From his empowering of like-minded right-wing elements in Israel to his brokering of the Abraham Accords, Trump showed that American presidents have far more diplomatic ability to affect the trajectory in Israel and the region than is often assumed. That’s one lesson that Biden might learn for his own purposes.


Ronn Torossian: Naftali Bennett Is Good for Israel
It appears that congratulations are in order for 49-year old Naftali Bennett, who seems primed to be Israel’s new prime minister. Bennett is a proud Israeli, a proud Jew, and a great choice to be the new leader of the Jewish state.

Since he’s not a liberal, worldwide media won’t fawn over him. Yet, in an era where Israel and Jews are constantly under attack, a man who wears a yarmulke, who served in the elite IDF Sayeret Matkal unit, and is a self-made millionaire, is a great role model for Israelis and Jews.

He understands public relations — and has been great at discussing Israel’s best attributes, and is a brilliant spokesperson for Israel. As he has said, “Israel is protecting the world.”

Born to parents who immigrated to Israel from America, he speaks perfect English. He has already shown a great ability to defend and explain Israel’s security situation on foreign networks, and will continue to do so as Israel’s leader.

Bennett understands diplomacy, he understands security, and he understands public relations, but he is also the rare political leader with real business experience. At a time when social justice and economic matters are of vital importance in Israel, his story is a beautiful success story. As a self-made millionaire entrepreneur, he can lead by example.

With a leader like Naftali Bennett, Israel’s government can shine as the Start-Up Nation of the world. Bennett understands both the religious and secular worlds — and thus can uniquely bridge the gap between the religious and secular in Israel.
Post Corona (PodCast): Naftali Bennett – Who Are You?
Dan Senor interviewed Naftali Bennett at the 92nd Street Y in 2013




A handcuffed coalition would be good for Israel - opinion
Compromise may not be possible in all these spheres, but at least the declared government can lower the flames.

Indeed, bringing about a climate of relative calm is the greatest contribution the new government could make. The coalition may be a quasi-democratic, quasi-autocratic behemoth; a weighed-down and incongruous creation stemming from force majeure. But national “unity,” however temporary and fragile, along with a change of leadership after 15 years, is necessary and worthwhile.

Perhaps a spirit of bipartisan solidarity will emerge. Perhaps Naftali Bennett and Yair Lapid will demonstrate brave and empathetic leadership, especially when dishing out the bittersweet medicine (budget cuts and new taxes) that undoubtedly is coming. Israelis expect them to do so.

Alas, I am still not convinced the intended government will pass muster in Knesset. Netanyahu is certain to do everything to peel away one or two MKs over the next week, keeping him in office as caretaker prime minister for the rest of the year, and making another election in the fall necessary.

Netanyahu will then be sure to pour all his energies into another election campaign, while major decision-making on critical issues remains frozen. And all sides will revert to the venomous mudslinging Israelis have suffered through for too long. In fact, if I were a betting man, this would be my wager.

But for today, it is not too much to hope for a government that will be neither radical left nor radical right, neither anti-religious nor obnoxiously religious-coercive, neither feeble nor fierce – except when dealing with Israel’s real enemies outside the country, towards whom Israel must remain uncompromising.
Caroline Glick: The price of friendship with Biden's Washington
In the six years since the fight over the Iran nuclear deal, the position and power of AIPAC among Democrats and Republicans alike has sunk dramatically. During the 2008 presidential race, Obama himself felt compelled to attend the AIPAC annual conference and express his deep commitment to US-Israel ties and appreciation for AIPAC's work to strengthen the US-Israel alliance.

Ahead of the 2020 elections, the only Democrat presidential candidate that agreed to attend the AIPAC conference was former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg. AIPAC was only able to get Biden to speak by canceling its own rule barring politicians from sending taped addresses rather than showing up in person. Five Democrat presidential candidates attended the J Street conference.

The pro-Israel lobby's position among Republicans isn't much better.

As one senior Republican put it in a moment of frustration, "It's more important for AIPAC to present a false picture of Democrat support for Israel than to work with us to actually support Israel.

"So often, when we try to advance a significant effort on behalf of Israel, AIPAC lobbyists show up and demand that we water it down so that a few Democrats will join us. The most important thing for them is to hide Democrat hostility. The most important thing for us is to support Israel."

It's true that Netanyahu cannot change the Democrats' position on Iran. But Lapid, Bennett and Gantz can't influence it either. On the other hand, Netanyahu's outspoken opposition to Obama's nuclear deal with the ayatollahs empowered Republicans to oppose it as well. Netanyahu's unapologetic stance made him a hero for Republicans who admired his courage and trusted him.

Recently, Netanyahu remarked that having political leaders willing to approve operations against Iran's nuclear installations is no less important than having security forces capable of attacking them. Leaders who believe that maintaining friendly ties with the Biden administration is their most important goal will necessarily be less willing to approve operations that will anger the likes of Biden, Malley and their team.


Aaron Klein: Netanyahu's Real Legacy and Goal: Making and Keeping Israel a Superpower
The world just witnessed the fruits of the construction of an underground wall along the Israel-Gaza border—the wall stopped Gazan terrorists from being able to penetrate Israel via tunnel during last month's Hamas-instigated violence.

On matters of personal safety for citizens, Netanyahu took Israel from an era of exploding buses and restaurants to the best security decade that Israel has ever experienced.

As prime minister and finance minister, Netanyahu revolutionized Israel's economy with free-market reforms that transformed the Jewish state into a global technological powerhouse. He brought Israel to its position as a world leader in cyber, developed Israel's gas reserves and turned Israel into a net energy exporter.

It is a wonder that Netanyahu has been able to achieve any of these things against the constant stream of venomous lies lobbed his way by opportunist politicians and left-wing media.

Ironically, some of those same politicians are now betraying promises to voters to create an unhinged, ideologically incomprehensible government that even its champions fully admit is driven by personal hatred of one man. Such a government will be rendered nearly incapacitated on day one due to a lack of consensus on any serious issue affecting the Jewish state.

Meanwhile, it is precisely Netanyahu's legacy of protecting Israel that propels him to move forward to finish the career arc that started as a soldier before moving on to deputy chief of mission at the Israeli embassy in Washington, D.C., Israel's UN ambassador, minister of finance, minister of foreign affairs, defense minister and ultimately prime minister.

His leadership and experience are required to successfully complete the immediate, critical work of ensuring that Iran does not obtain nuclear weapons, securing the Jewish state from other outside threats, defending against the scandalous antisemitic charges from the International Criminal Court and pursuing the Netanyahu Doctrine to bring peace deals with more Arab nations. These are fitting accomplishments and goals for a great leader of Israel.


Toronto Star Op-Ed Claims Israel Is An “Apartheid” State On Same Day That Arab-Islamist Party Joins Potential Coalition Government
Amazingly, on the historic day that an Arab-Islamist political party had – for the first time in Israeli history – pledged to join a coalition government, one with left-wing progressives, secular centrists and members of the religious right, the Toronto Star outrageously published an op-ed by Raja Khouri claiming that Israel is an “apartheid” state.

Khouri is described as the “founding president of the Canadian Arab Institute, co-founder of the Canadian Arab/Jewish Leadership Dialogue Group, and a former Ontario human rights commissioner.”

Khouri’s June 2 op-ed which smears Israel as an “apartheid” state, is wholly disingenuous and is a perfect example of how when baseless accusations are left unanswered, they risk becoming accepted as conventional wisdom.

Is Israel perfect? No, far from it and more must be done to promote Arab minority rights, but we should not be obtuse to how Israel is the only liberal democracy in the Middle East in which its 20% Arab minority enjoys full equal rights before and under the law. Israeli Arabs consistently affirm they would rather live in Israel as a minority than anywhere else in the Middle East as part of the majority. Israel’s vibrancy, its openness, and tolerance have solidified its credentials as a progressive liberal democracy whose Arab minority not only enjoys the same rights as all other Israeli citizens, they occupy positions at the pinnacle of Israeli society. Arabs sit on Israel’s Supreme Court, have been elected to Israel’s parliament, they fight in the Israel Defense Forces and partake in every facet of Israeli society.

As to Khouri’s association with Human Rights Watch (HRW) and its Canada Committee, HRW is well known for its anti-Israel animus and has been discredited due to its faulty methodology and politicized smear campaigns.
Yair Netanyahu's Twitter account suspended for 12 hours
The Twitter account of Yair Netanyahu, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's son, was suspended for 12 hours on Friday after he posted the address of Yamina MK Nir Orbach's home.

Facebook and Instagram suspended Netanyahu's Instagram and Facebook accounts for 24 hours for similar reasons. Netanyahu had called for protestors to head to Orbach's home to encourage him to fight against the formation of a unity government.

"Yair Netanyahu's tweet violated Twitter rules. The account holder was required to delete the tweet that violated the rules, and his account was transferred for 12 hours to read mode only," said Twitter concerning the suspension, according to Ynet.

"The persecution, censorship and silencing of social networks against right-wingers is breaking a new record. While Facebook and Twitter blocked Yair Netanyahu, they did not block the prime minister who posted the same post just like Yair," read a statement issued by Yair Netanyahu.

The Likud Party's Twitter protested the decision to suspend Netanyahu's account and the accounts of other right-wing activists for posting the addresses, saying that left-wing activists were allowed to promote counter-protests and post the addresses without being suspended.
House Democrats Scramble To Restore Pro-Israel Bona Fides After Voting Against Iron Dome
Vulnerable House Democrats are scrambling to restore their pro-Israel bona fides days after voting against a provision to fund the Iron Dome, which is not the only controversial vote those Democrats made.

On Wednesday, more than 30 Democrats, led by New Jersey congressman Josh Gottheimer, signed a bipartisan letter to Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, expressing their support for Israel's missile defense system. "Israel must always have the resources it needs to defend itself from incoming rockets when it is targeted again," the letter says. The move came weeks after those same Democrats voted against a Republican measure providing $500 million to fund the Iron Dome and other missile defense cooperation programs.

Rep. Tony Gonzales (R., Texas), who authored the Iron Dome measure, called the Democrats' letter writing campaign "a Hail Mary, half-hearted attempt by Democrats to support Israel." He said it is the duty of Congress, rather than the Pentagon, to set spending priorities.

"If Democrats really cared about the Israeli people and the Iron Dome, they would have supported my efforts to provide Israel with emergency funding several weeks ago. This move by Democrats is an attempt to backtrack from their previously anti-Israel actions," Gonzales said.

The Democrats' pro-Iron Dome flip-flop comes after an outside group aligned with House Republicans launched ads targeting them over the May votes. The conservative American Action Network, which called the letter a "shallow sham," attacked Gottheimer and 13 other Democrats with targeted phone calls. It also launched digital ads targeting Democrats Mikie Sherrill (N.J.), Carolyn Bourdeaux (Ga.), Susan Wild (Pa.), and Elaine Luria (Va.).

The Democrats "shamefully voted no, even as terrorists' rockets rained down on Israeli cities," the ads say. "America supports a safe and secure Israel."

Eight of the 14 Democrats targeted by the American Action Network campaign reversed their positions, signaling support for replenishing the Iron Dome's funding in the bipartisan letter to Austin. In addition to Gottheimer, Luria, and Wild, Democratic representatives Colin Allred (Texas), Lizzie Fletcher (Texas), Vicente Gonzalez (Texas), Chris Pappas (N.H.), and Tom Suozzi (N.Y.) signed the letter to Austin. All are top Republican targets in November's elections.
Hagerty: Biden Admin Awarding Hamas with U.S. Taxpayer Dollars
The Biden administration's decision to award the Palestinian government with millions of dollars in U.S. aid violates the law and will directly benefit Hamas, the Iranian-backed terror group that recently launched a 12-day war against Israel, according to Sen. Bill Hagerty (R., Tenn.).

In an interview with the Washington Free Beacon following a trip to Israel this week, Hagerty said Israeli leaders he met with expressed concerns about the Biden administration's Middle East policies, particularly its most recent effort to push through more than $100 million in aid to the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip. Concerns about this aid money are mounting in Congress in the wake of the State Department's admission that it cannot guarantee taxpayer dollars will be kept from enriching Hamas.

Hagerty, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, spent several days in the Jewish state with Sen. Ted Cruz (R., Texas) meeting with top Israeli officials, including Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Benny Gantz, Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi, and National Security Adviser Yuval Steinitz, among others. The senators also met with Israel Defense Forces commanders and toured the country to assess the damage caused by Hamas's nearly two-week-long attack on the country, as the Free Beacon first reported ahead of the trip. Cruz and Hagerty are now spearheading efforts to fast-track emergency security funding for Israel, including for the Iron Dome missile defense system, which shot down scores of Hamas missiles before they landed, saving countless lives.

"Hamas is taking their toll, they're involved in everything that moves in and out of the Gaza Strip," Hagerty said. "They will redirect [the aid money]. If you send in money and materials for reconstruction, the concrete that's being utilized there in Gaza is actually being used to build tunnels for [Hamas], not rebuilding houses."

There is no way the administration can "provide aid to them under current conditions and not have Hamas benefit from this," Hagerty said. "What's more than likely to happen, whether it's Hamas or the Islamic Jihad, they are going to benefit from the aid we are flowing into that area."
The Washington Post Pushes a ‘One-State Solution’
June 1, 2021 marked the eightieth anniversary of the Farhud, the massive pogrom in Iraq which resulted in nearly two hundred Iraqi Jews murdered and hundreds of others raped and wounded. The Wall Street Journal commemorated the anniversary by publishing an op-ed by a survivor of the Farhud, Joseph Samuels. The Washington Post, however, took another approach.

The Post not only failed to note the anniversary, it published an op-ed that, if implicitly, called for dismantling the world’s sole Jewish state.

The op-ed, entitled “Opposition to a ‘one-state’ solution is often rooted in bigotry” and authored by H.A. Hellyer of the Carnegie Endowment for Middle East Peace, evidenced a historical illiteracy that, even in today’s day and age, is truly astonishing.

Hellyer asserted that opposition by some Israeli politicians to a “one-state solution” is, when taken to its “logical conclusion…underpinned by racist overtones.” The “vehemence against a one-state solution,” Hellyer claimed, “is appalling because it is rooted in a notion that Palestinians and Israelis simply cannot live together.” Further, “it’s important to note that the pushback often comes from partisans of Israel, not pro-Palestinian campaigners. The insinuation is simply this—Palestinians in particular, but Arabs more generally, are simply not capable of living in a diverse society.”

But this insinuation is pure projection on Hellyer’s part. And to reach his “logical conclusions,” the scholar omitted crucial history and facts.

Curiously, in an 819-word op-ed that is ostensibly about the potential merits of a “one-state solution” versus a “two-state solution,” Hellyer failed to inform readers that Palestinian Arab leaders have rejected numerous offers for a Palestinian Arab state if it meant living in peace next to a Jewish one.


French anti-terrorism bill passes first reading with overwhelming support
French lawmakers voted overwhelmingly in favor of tightening the country's anti-terror laws, including placing curbs on the movement of convicted radicals and using algorithms to detect extremists online.

Members of the National Assembly voted 87 to 10, Wednesday, to adopt legislation that would make permanent several emergency measures that were introduced after the Paris attacks of November 2015. The Senate will need to ratify the legislation for it to become law.

The legislation had been in the pipeline for months but was expedited by President Emmanuel Macron's government after a Tunisian terrorist stabbed an employee at a police station near Paris to death last month.

The attack was the latest in a terrorist wave that has claimed over 250 lives since 2015 and intensified once again last autumn when a teacher was beheaded for showing his pupils cartoons of the prophet Mohammed.

The bill before parliament gives the police the powers to restrict the movement of people convicted of terrorism following their release from prison.

With scores of people convicted of terror offenses or terror links are due for release in coming years, Yael Braun-Pivet, a lawmaker from Macron's Republic on the Move party warned in a report last year that "very dangerous people...will be getting out of prison and we don't have the tools necessary to ensure they are monitored.

The main opposition Republicans argued the legislation was not tough enough, with one representative saying France had been left vulnerable to the "human bombs who will be getting out of prison."


Replacement for UNRWA’s Ousted Gaza Director Rebukes Predecessor’s ‘Indefensible’ Admission That Israel Did Not Target Civilians, Hamas Claims
The temporary replacement for Matthias Schmale, the Gaza director of the UN’s Palestinian refugee agency — who left the Strip after he was criticized for admitting that Israel did not target civilians during the recent Operation Guardian of the Walls — called Schmale’s remarks “indefensible” on Thursday in a meeting with Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar, according to a statement from militant group.

Schmale, head of Gaza operations at the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), had told Israel’s Channel 12 on May 22 that he “would not dispute” the IDF’s claim that airstrikes during Guardian of the Walls were “very precise.”

“So yes, they didn’t hit, with some exceptions, civilian targets,” he added.

The following Tuesday, in a series of tweets, the UNRWA official expressed regret for the remarks, which he said “offended & hurt those who had family members & friends killed & injured during the war that has just ended.”

UNRWA is the biggest employer in the Gaza Strip, and UPI reported Wednesday that agency employees in the enclave took to the streets outside UNRWA headquarters, demanding Schmale be removed.

Schmale left the Strip and has not returned.

Hamas issued a statement on its website later Wednesday claiming that the terror group’s leader Yahya Sinwar met that evening with Schmale’s temporary replacement, UNRWA’s Deputy Commissioner-General Leni Stenseth, to discuss the issue.

The statement asserted that Stenseth expressed understanding of the Palestinian reaction to Schmale’s comments, “affirmed her solidarity” with the Palestinians, expressed condolences on behalf of UNRWA, and called Schmale’s remarks “indefensible.”

The Palestinian news agency Safa reported Wednesday that Schmale and his deputy had been expelled from the Strip and declared persona non grata.

An UNRWA official told The Algemeiner Thursday that the organization had not received any official notification that Schmale had been declared persona non grata, and that he had left Gaza on a holiday after being called to headquarters for consultations with the commissioner-general.
As Gaza Truce Holds, Preventing Hamas From Re-Arming Takes Center Stage
One of the reasons that Hamas felt emboldened enough to launch a rocket assault on Jerusalem last month — an action that provoked an 11-day intensive armed conflict with Israel — was because of its progress in building up its military-terrorist force.

With Iran’s help, Hamas entered this conflict with better rocket building know-how, and some 15,000 rockets of varying ranges. Most were made in Gaza, together with Palestinian Islamic Jihad’s 10,000 rockets. The conflict also came with a new battle doctrine designed to try to saturate Israeli air defenses with unprecedented large barrages.

Hamas felt it could push its weight around, and Israeli deterrence experienced an erosion in the days leading up to the conflict.

After identifying violence in Jerusalem as an opportunity to overtake its rival, the Fatah-run Palestinian Authority, and position itself as the authentic “guardian of Jerusalem” and the Al-Aqsa Mosque, Hamas recklessly marched Gaza into a new destructive war, largely because of the improved rocket arsenal that it had spent years building.

Israel had carefully monitored Hamas’ efforts to dramatically increase the number of rockets it could fire at once, as well as attempts to fire at lower trajectories to try and confuse the Iron Dome air defense system, which underwent upgrades and was able to cope with the challenge.

And while Israel attempted to disrupt Hamas’ force build-up process, most of the work to build new rocket warheads in Gaza, filled with explosives such as C4, TNT, and RDX, went unhindered.


Hamas Promises Renewed Clashes With Israel if Qatari Money Not Forthcoming
Hamas in the Gaza Strip threatened to spark new clashes with Israel if Qatari money does not reach the Palestinian enclave next week, the Lebanese newspaper Al-Akhbar reported.

“Israel’s provocations towards Gaza and the poor citizens who are supposed to receive Qatari money tend to escalate tensions and conflict,” the sources said.

On Thursday, the head of the southern command of the Israeli army also indicated that he was planning for renewed fighting with the Gaza Strip, saying that last month’s conflict was only the “first step” of a larger operation.

During Operation Guardian of the Walls in May, more than 4,300 rockets were fired from Gaza into Israel killing 13 and injuring dozens. More than 200 Palestinians were killed in Gaza in the same period, mostly by Israeli airstrikes.

Defense Minister Benny Gantz paid an official visit to the United States on Thursday to discuss security threats in the region with senior US officials.

“The Iron Dome saved the lives of hundreds of Israelis and intercepted thousands of rockets that were to land on residential neighborhoods, shopping malls or even hospitals. I want to thank you and the US administration, led by President Biden, for supporting Israel’s right to self-defense and for preserving Israel’s qualitative advantage,” he said when meeting with his counterpart Lloyd Austin at the Pentagon.
Egypt Sends Building Equipment to Begin Gaza Reconstruction
Egypt has sent a convoy of engineers and building equipment to Gaza after orders from President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to begin reconstruction in the enclave after recent Israeli-Palestinian fighting, Egyptian state television reported on Friday.

Footage aired on state television showed dozens of bulldozers, cranes and trucks waving Egyptian flags lined up along the border to begin crossing into the Gaza Strip.

Palestinians lined the street on the Gaza side of the Rafah crossing to welcome the convoy as it rumbled into the small coastal enclave. A Palestinian border official said 50 vehicles had crossed.

Eleven days of conflict between Israel and Hamas, the Palestinian Islamist rulers of Gaza, erupted on May 10. More than 250 Palestinians were killed in hundreds of Israeli air strikes in Gaza. More than 4,000 rockets, many intercepted, fired by Gaza militants killed 13 people in Israel.

Egypt played a major role in brokering a ceasefire between both sides and has said it would allocate $500 million to fund the rebuilding of devastated areas in Gaza.
Report: Hamas turns to crypto to bypass terror sanctions
The Hamas terrorist group has enjoyed a spike in cryptocurrency donations since last month's 11-day conflagration of violence that saw it fire over 4,300 rockets at Israel, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal on Thursday.

The Izzedin al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of the Gaza-based Islamist group, blacklisted as a terrorist entity by the United States, the European Union and others, launched several platforms that accept bitcoins and other cryptocurrencies, allowing its backers to bypass international sanctions.

"Our fundraising strategies keep on evolving as more restrictions are being placed on us," a Hamas official speaking on condition of anonymity told the Wall Street Journal.

According to the Wall Street Journal, between May 10 and 20, as Hamas and Israeli forces clashed, the al-Qassam Brigade's flagship website, alqassam.ps, saw a considerable increase in traffic and engagement, which is the length of time visitors remain on the site, according to an analysis by the Counter Extremism Project, a New York-based non-profit group that describes Hamas as a violent Islamist extremist group.


Seth Frantzman: Why these Iranian elections are so important - expert
Saleh points out that Khamenei’s office is represented throughout the IRGC via clerics. “This makes IRGC an ideological military group strongly akin to ISIS with the exception that it has mutated into a more modern and effective version that has a strong presence in all sectors of Iran.” Saleh, who is Kurdish, is part of a Kurdish political party that has opposed the regime in Iran for many years and also been persecuted by the regime. He notes how the IRGC has increasingly taken control of every aspect of Iran, from sport to culture, and the private and public sectors. “The IRGC wants to make sure that the right person is picked after Khamenei is dead. They wanted the person to be a real reflection of the Vali-e-Faqih theory.

“The [office of Khamenei] and the IRGC are trying to have all main hinges of power to prepare the country for the transition…The hard core of power is trying to make the political power as homogenous as it can get in order to assure a smooth transitional period.” This means that the choice of the president is important as well. “The ability of the system to plan its transition by institutionalization of electoral engineering should put an end to the myth of reformability of the regime and of the possibility of any change from within its fractions,” says Saleh.

His point is that there is an illusion outside of Iran that portrays the regime as particularly complex and a system of “moderates” and “hardliners.” In fact, what appears to have happened is that the IRGC and its elements have increased their power and stranglehold on Iran. They leave increasingly less possibilities for change and less of a window for critique. This means that this election in Iran may cement their control and increase it. Whatever protests existed in the past, such as 2009 or the protests in 2019, illustrate that there is widespread opposition to this system. However those voices have been suppressed, arrested and persecuted.
Eli Lake: Why Iran’s Presidential Election Is a Sham
In two weeks, when Iran is scheduled to hold its presidential election, Narges Mohammadi will be staying home. One of her country’s most courageous human-rights activists, she views the upcoming vote as a sham.

“The principle of absolute jurisprudence has invalidated all the principles of the Iranian constitution and reduced the power of other institutions to zero,” she told me in an WhatsApp interview from Iran. The country’s unelected supreme leader and the country’s Guardian Council, which vets presidential candidates and can overturn laws passed by Iran’s legislature, have consolidated power.

As if to prove her point, the Guardian Council last month disqualified all but seven candidates from running for president. That decision has drawn rebukes even from Iranian leaders who are supportive of the ruling regime.

But Mohammadi’s criticism is deeper. As a journalist in the late 1990s, she supported the reformer president, Mohammed Khatami. Now, she has concluded that elections offer no chance for Iran to make the transition to a true democracy.

In previous elections, she said, Iranians voted for candidates who “could create a rift in the system.” This split could then create “breathing space for the people to achieve democracy and political and civic activity,” she said. Now this strategy has “reached a dead end.”

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani was one of the hardliners who foiled the reforms of Khatami when he authorized a crackdown on student protesters in 1999. Nonetheless, when he won the presidential election in 2013, he was often portrayed as a moderate capable of bringing his country into the community of nations.

Instead, under his presidency Iran has become far more repressive — which Mohammadi knows firsthand. Since the late 1990s, she has been prosecuted and jailed for her advocacy work. Under Rouhani, her plight worsened. The organization she helped lead, Defenders of Human Rights Center, was closed. For the last six years, the state has barred her from seeing her children. Last October, after serving more than eight years of a 10-year sentence, she was released from Iran’s notorious Evin Prison.
Netanyahu Joins Trump, Bolton, Pompeo in ‘Dustbin of History,’ Iran’s Zarif Says
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on Thursday launched a bitter broadside against Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, referring to his likely ouster from power.

“Netanyahu has joined the disgraceful journey of his anti-Iran co-conspirators — Bolton, Trump and Pompeo — into the dustbin of history. Iran continues to stand tall. This destiny has been repeated over several millennia for all those wishing Iranians harm. Time to change course,” Zarif tweeted.

After opposition leader Yair Lapid announced on Wednesday that he managed to secure a coalition deal just minutes before a midnight Wednesday deadline, Netanyahu appears to be facing the end of his 12-year tenure as the head of Israeli government, during which he’s been a relentless adversary of Iran’s nuclear ambitions and destabilizing activities across the Middle East.

However, Zarif’s sendoff could still prove premature as the prospective coalition commands only a slender majority in parliament and a confidence vote is not expected until Monday; this gives Netanyahu some time to woo potential defectors among the unlikely bedfellows ranged against him.
Germany sees increase of Hezbollah supporters and members - Intel
The Office for the Protection of the Constitution, the domestic intelligence agency for the German state of Lower Saxony, revealed on Thursday in its new report a dramatic increase of the number of members and supporters of the Lebanese terrorist organization Hezbollah. According to the German language intelligence report reviewed by The Jerusalem Post, the number of supporters and members rose from 1,050 in 2019 to 1,250 in 2020.

There are about 180 Hezbollah members and supporters in the state of Lower Saxony, an increase of 20 members from 160 in 2019.

Lower Saxony’s Office for the Protection of the Constitution, the formal name for its domestic intelligence agency, wrote that “Hezbollah denies the right of the state of Israel to exist and fights it with terrorist means. In Germany the followers of Hezbollah maintain organizational and ideological cohesion, among other things, in local mosque associations, which are primarily financed by donations.”

The report added that “For the Shi’ite community, ‘Hezbollah,’ founded with the help of the Islamic Republic of Iran, demands the application of the Islamic legal system of Sharia.”

Last year, Germany’s interior ministry banned all Hezbollah activities within the territory of the federal republic.


Iran loses voting rights in UN General Assembly over debt blamed on US sanctions
Iran and the Central African Republic are in arrears on paying their dues to the United Nations’ operating budget and will lose their voting rights in the 193-member General Assembly, the UN chief said in a letter circulated Wednesday.

In the letter to General Assembly President Volkan Bozkir, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said three other African countries — Comoros, Sao Tome and Principe, and Somalia — are also in arrears.

But he said the assembly passed a resolution saying they can still vote in the current session which ends in September.

The UN Charter states that members whose arrears equal or exceed the amount of their contributions for the preceding two full years lose their voting rights.

But it also gives the General Assembly the authority to decide “that the failure to pay is due to conditions beyond the control of the member,” and in that case a country can continue to vote.

According to the secretary-general’s letter, the minimum payments needed to restore voting rights are $16,251,298 for Iran and $29,395 for the Central African Republic.
Iran, Turkey among top 10 nations with most new COVID cases
When the World Health Organization announced on June 2 that it had recorded 3.5 million new COVID-19 infections in the prior week (a 15 percent decline from the week before), two countries in the Middle East appeared among the top ten nations with the most new cases: Iran had the sixth-largest number of cases worldwide with over 69,000; and Turkey had the ninth-largest number of new cases at over 57,000.

Despite this, Turkey eased restrictions to prevent the spread of the coronavirus on June 1, including loosening weekend curfew rules and allowing small groups of people to be served in restaurants and cafés.

Iranian authorities announced earlier this week that it hopes to begin its first state-sponsored COVID-19 vaccination drive in September. This comes as the death toll from the virus has passed 304,000 in the Islamic Republic.

Also, on June 1, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees sounded the alarm over an increase in cases of the coronavirus among asylum seekers in several countries, including Pakistan and Iran, as they often lack access to vaccines.
'Hitler was an angel': YouTube hosts vile Jew hatred with millions of views
Youtube is hosting vile antisemitic content in the Urdu language that is stoking hatred among British Pakistanis, the JC can reveal.

One of the broadcasters, Zaid Hamid, who is known for sporting a red beret, declared in a video rant: “Hitler was an angel, the way he took action against Jews, the way he killed Jews”.

That video, which has gone viral on WhatsApp, is estimated to have been viewed hundreds of thousands of times.

Other Pakistani YouTubers who have made controversial remarks about Jews and Israel have more than a million subscribers.

Imran Riaz Khan, a Pakistani television personality with 1.6 million followers, said in a video last week: “[The Jews] lobby a lot in America and have strangled America, have it totally controlled. They do it in Europe and America and elsewhere.”

Another prominent YouTuber, Makhdoom Shahab-ud-Din, who has 610,000 subscribers, said: “When you criticise Zionism, then Jews come together and start attacking.”

Analysts have suggested that the ‘diet of hate’, easily accessible on YouTube, may have encouraged some of the more extreme anti-Jewish actions in Britain during the latest Gaza conflict.

Rallies held in recent weeks saw numerous antisemitic outrages, including British Asians prowling the streets shouting: “We’ll find some Jews. We want the Zionists. We want their blood.”











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