Wednesday, June 23, 2021

From Ian:

US Seizes Numerous Terrorist-sponsored Anti-Israel Media Outlets
The US Department of Justice on Tuesday announced that it had seized 33 websites operated by the Iranian Islamic Radio and Television Union (IRTVU). Included in the seizure order were, one of Tehran’s English-language mouthpieces, and Gaza Strip-based Islamic Jihad‘s Palestine Today website. According to a statement, Tehran’s so-called propaganda channels “targeted the United States with disinformation campaigns and malign influence operations.”

Washington sanctioned the IRTVU because of its close ties with the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), a US-designated terrorist group. These sanctions bar IRGC-controlled organizations like Press TV from receiving services from US companies, including web hosting, without special permission.

Tehran tries to brand Press TV as a credible news agency. In reality, it merely echoes the propaganda line of a genocidal regime that calls for the destruction of America and Israel. In 2012, then-Iranian foreign minister Ali Akbar Salehi stated that media have the “power to shape the global public opinion, a capability that military power lacks.” To this end, the IRGC this year hired nearly 12,000 “cultural activists” to engage in its operations.

In 2012, the United Kingdom revoked Press TV’s broadcasting license for breaching the Communications Act. The ban came just months after the channel aired an alarming interview with imprisoned journalist Maziar Bahari. The Newsweek reporter revealed he was tortured by the regime and then was ordered to make an on-air confession, under threat of execution.

Press TV’s UK bank account was also closed. EU sanctions against the Islamic Republic in 2012 halted the Iranian state-owned news network’s activities in the rest of Europe. Moreover, in 2019, Google shut down Press TV’s YouTube channel, likely because it had shared a video that promoted the antisemitic canard that Israel conducts medical experiments on Palestinian prisoners. Twitter and Facebook followed suit, but thereafter, without specific reason, reinstated Press TV’s ability to spew Jew-hatred.

Indeed, Press TV’s channel has given a platform to a wide array of Neonazis, white supremacists, and Holocaust deniers over the years. Its website also published an article titled “Palestinian suffrage in Israel worse than WWII Jewish plight.” The seeming leitmotif in Press TV’s reporting is that “Zionists” and the “Jewish Banking Cartel” control US politics. The media outlet also ran a poll implying that the “9/11 incident” was staged by the US to “tarnish the image of Islam” and wage wars in the Middle East.
Why is US seizing Iran Press TV, other websites? - analysis
Further, long before these website seizures, the Biden administration has made it clear that it will maintain all nonnuclear sanctions on Iran related to its terrorist behavior, just as the Obama administration did.

And Iran Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei signed the 2015 deal not because he liked giving up enough enriched uranium for around 10 nuclear bombs, but because of the economic pressure. With all of his threats and hatred for the “big Satan” US long before the website seizures, all signs are he will make the same businesslike calculation this time.

So there will still likely be a nuclear deal by, before or not long after the new Ebrahim Raisi administration takes over Iran in August. Whether the timing of the websites’ seizure was meant to send a message to Raisi, to get it in under the wire before the deal is signed, or whether this was just when the Biden administration got around to lining up all of its cards to obtain warrants in court to do so, is a separate and interesting question.

This does not end free speech, and it will not end interference by Iran or other foreign countries with the US or Israel’s democratic processes or social fault lines.

But it is a new sign that the Biden administration has started to act with more intolerance for cyber and social media interference from the Islamic Republic and others.

Top EU official backs tougher action against PA over textbooks report
A top EU official backed tougher action against the Palestinian Authority on Monday after a report from Brussels found evidence of incitement and antisemitism in Palestinian textbooks.

The intervention from Oliver Varhelyi – EU Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement - came after the delayed release of a damning EU-funded study into the contents of more than 170 Palestinian textbooks and teacher guides published between 2017 and 2019.

“The conditionality of our financial assistance in the educational sector needs to be duly considered,” the European commissioner for neighbourhood and enlargement said on Twitter.

He also backed a “firm commitment to fight antisemitism and engage with Palestinian Authority” and the UN agency for Palestinian refugees and their descendants.

The UK and EU have faced renewed pressure over wages paid to PA teachers since the report's publication.

Daniel Schwammenthal, director of the American Jewish Committee’s Brussels office, called for “immediate action.”

“The textbooks must be immediately replaced and should the Palestinian Authority refuse to do so, the [European Commission] will have no other choice but to follow the Norwegian example and withhold some funding to bring about the necessary change,” he said.

The Conservative Friends of Israel parliamentary group said the UK should “act decisively to end its facilitation” of the PA’s “extreme curriculum”.

The Caroline Glick Show: Ep 11 - From Trump to Netanyahu, the Disaffected Right Crowns the Radicals
In Episode 11 of the Caroline Glick Mideast News Hour with Gadi Taub, Caroline and Gadi discuss the new Israeli government’s policy of bowing to the will of the Biden administration in relation to Iran’s nuclear program in the context of Benjamin Netanyahu’s statement on Monday that their position endangers Israel’s survival.

They went on to describe the analyze the similarity between the pathological hatred of Donald Trump and Benjamin Netanyahu and the malcontents from their own ideological camps who colluded with the left and the radical left in both countries to bring the leaders down.

Today’s discussion ranged from radical feminism to the Bible, from Tehran to BlackLivesMatter. It was a wild – but entirely coherent ride. Join us, subscribe to our YouTube and Rumble channels and to our podcasts. Share with your friends and family. Let’s win the war of ideas together and protect our sovereignty and national security together.

The TIPP Israel survey: Are American opinions on Israel really shifting in the leadup to the 2022 mid-term elections?
The new TIPP survey on Israel follows a number of similar recent polls taken around the flare up in violence between Israel and Hamas in May. The preponderance of media attention to the earlier polls both in America and Israel has focused on data that is presented as representing a significant shift in U.S. opinion away from Israel reflected in the aggressively pro-Palestinian and anti-Israel rhetoric and attempted legislative actions of the so-called “Squad” in the House of Representatives. Much of this analysis depends on intangibles, however, such as assertions that it is noteworthy that a Democrat member of Congress traditionally supportive of Israel might even consider opposing a given arms sale. In addition, the May Economist/YouGov poll that purportedly showed a parity between American support for Israelis and the Palestinians significantly polled “sympathy” for both groups, not support for the nation of Israel—and it is not unnatural to have sympathy for both groups while having views on where America’s strategic interests lie.

Digging more deeply into the TIPP data suggests that while supporters of the U.S.-Israel alliance will find some numbers of concern, support for Israel remains strong the real concerns may be on the part of Democrats who understand the value of the strategic relationship with the Jewish State and also have constituents who do not want them to be seen as not renouncing the related recent wave of anti-Semitic violence in the United States forcefully enough.

Some additional context for this analysis:
1. Liberal Democrats who are uneasy with an increasingly center-right Israel are nothing new. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), the dean of this group, has served in Congress for some three decades and has been a serious Presidential contender in the last two cycles. This group (and their views) were more prominent and vocal in the Obama administration, and it should be no surprise that they are more prominent and vocal in the Biden administration.
2. Changing U.S. views towards Israel are nothing new. The 70+ years of the U.S.-Israel alliance have seen wide swings in American attitudes towards the Jewish State, notably during the 1982 Lebanon War under a Republican President Ronald Reagan who had largely-favorable views towards Israel. The alliance itself is dynamic and evolving as both nations are constantly changing. The notion that the views surveyed in this polls should be rigidly fixed or the relationship is doomed is disingenuous.
3. That said, nothing should be taken for granted and the results of this poll give us valuable insight into how the American people see Israel today, and how that may impact the behavior of their elected representatives in Washington, DC., as well as how they may vote if this increasingly-politicized issue plays a significant role in the 2022 mid-term elections.
Stand With US: US-Israel Relations with Senator Joe Lieberman
US Senator Joe Lieberman has had a long, distinguished, and strikingly independent career in public service. Elected to the Senate as a Democrat, he was the first American Jew to be nominated as Vice President in the 2000 election. Today, Senator Lieberman serves on the board of several nonprofit organizations, is a proud supporter of bipartisan relations and a true friend to the State of Israel. He recently played a pivotal role in a soon to be released documentary about former Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin's life, which was produced by Rob Schwartz. Join StandWithUs TV Live in conversation with Senator Lieberman as we talk politics, Israel, the new Begin documentary and more!

China’s biased role in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict
China often portrays the US as biased against the Palestinians, while positioning itself as the ideal mediator to regional conflicts. Indeed, China did contribute a balanced voice in the early days of the Gaza conflict, based on statements from the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs and state media.

As the operation intensified, however, China began to criticize Israel, and strangely enough, Israel was almost never mentioned. The US was the main target of their polemics, as if it were bombing Palestinians.

China made it clear that it saw the military operation as an opening to tarnish the international image of its strategic rival, who also happens to be Israel’s most important ally. The United States’ claims that China perpetrated crimes against humanity and genocide against Muslims in Xinjiang made Israel Defense Forces actions in Gaza the ideal battering ram for Beijing’s whataboutisms.

As in the Chinese proverb “to point to the mulberry tree and curse the carob tree,” China was eager to throw Israel under the bus if it meant running over the US. Slamming Israel to get in with the predominantly anti-Zionist Muslim countries was only the icing on the cake.

To begin, China supported the biased UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) decision to establish an international commission of inquiry to investigate Israeli “violations in the occupied Palestinian territory.” While Jerusalem had “grown accustomed” to China routinely voting against it under UN frameworks, this time China not only supported but was also one of the meeting’s co-sponsors.

Second, China had pushed the UN Security Council to hold three emergency sessions on the Palestine-Israel conflict in the span of a week. Absent US vetoes, the UNSC would have issued a statement condemning Israel.

Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi has also used the meetings to deliver a broadside at the US, claiming it “stands on the opposite side of international justice.” Drawing on this logic, Israel’s right to protect its civilians from deliberate attacks by Hamas and Islamic Jihad is unjust.

Third, Chinese criticisms were laced with anti-Semitic overtones. During the operation, an English-speaking presenter from China Global TV Network made egregiously anti-Semitic statements, claiming, among other things, that “Jews dominate [US] finance, media, and Internet sectors.”
Israel UN condemnation of China's Uyghur treatment marks policy shift
Israel took its first stance against China’s inhumane treatment and forced incarceration of its Uyghur minority, signing on to a condemnation issued at the United Nations Human Rights Council’s 47th session on Tuesday, at Washington’s behest.

The vote marked a shift in the way Jerusalem views Beijing diplomatically. The decision to sign the statement was taken by Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, in coordination with Prime Minister Naftali Bennett.

The condemnation, put forward by Canada signed by over 41 countries, did not include the word genocide and has been issued in the past, but this is the first time that Israel has signed such a document in Geneva.

Multiple diplomatic sources said that Israel had done so at the request of the United States and Canada, but it was not presented as a demand. Chinese diplomats asked Israel not to join the statement before its release.

This was not the first time Jerusalem voted in a way that angered Beijing recently; Israel also voted for a World Health Organization investigation into the source of the COVID-19 pandemic, which China had hoped to avoid.

Diplomatic sources said that while Israel stands unequivocally behind its signing on the statement condemning Chinese treatment of the Uyghurs, it is not an across-the-board change in policy towards Beijing and that the Foreign Ministry will take things on a case-by-case basis.

However, Lapid has signaled in his remarks and actions since taking office that he seeks to emphasize to the world that Israel is a liberal democracy and seeks to align with like-minded countries internationally.

Currently, the US is taking a tougher line with China, as are other Western democracies, and those are, for the most part, Israel’s allies in the world.
Israel delays entry of vaccinated tourists until August due to COVID uptick
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett's government decided to postpone the opening of Israel's borders and the entry of vaccinated tourists until August, as Israel faces an increase in coronavirus cases.

In addition, the obligation to wear masks indoors will be restored if the average daily cases will last.

Vaccinated tourists were originally supposed to be allowed into the country starting on July 1. In recent days, the country has been hit by the Delta variant, causing an increase in infections in cities like Modi'in and Binyamina. At the moment, some 200 students and 20 teachers in Israel have tested positive for the virus.

There are currently some 554 active cases in the country. The number had previously dropped below 200. At its record last winter, the figure stood at over 85,000.

Following the outbreaks and the new recommendation by the authorities to vaccinate all children ages 12-15, over 7,000 shots were administered on Tuesday, the highest in over a month. Some 4,000 of them were first doses to children, about double the amount of previous days.

To tackle the new outbreak, the government decided to establish a new coronavirus cabinet including Bennett, Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, Defense Minister Benny Gantz, Finance Minister Avigdor Lieberman, Justice Minister Gideon Saar, Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked, as well as other ministers.
Lapid-Bennett Government Approves Judea & Samaria Building Projects
A total of 31 construction plans for projects in various phases in Judea and Samaria were approved on Wednesday by the Civil Administration under the Lapid-Bennett government, according to Ynet.

The subcommittee on settlements in the Civil Administration approved limited construction plans in the Jewish communities of Elkana, Mishor Adumim, Karnei Shomron, Kfar Adumim and Yitzhar.

Among the projects approved were a school for children with special needs in Elkana, a shopping mall in Mishor Adumim and yeshivas and synagogues in Karnei Shomron and Kfar Adumim. Construction of 31 housing units in Yitzhar was also approved.

The subcommittee on settlements approved the projects in the absence of a meeting by the Civil Administration’s Higher Planning Council – the body that usually approves large-scale construction projects – which has not met since January.

No meetings are planned by the Higher Planning Council for the foreseeable future.
PA Choking Har Gilo with Illegal Gush Etzion Road
Last week, the Regavim Movement submitted a second urgent alert to Minister of Defense Beni Gantz and to the Civil Administration, demanding immediate enforcement action against a strategic Palestinian Authority project in Gush Etzion – a road connecting the Palestinian Authority villages Batir and Husan.

The road skirts the Jewish community of Har Gilo, spanning the Heletz Valley, and connects the illegal “northern extension” of Batir to the village of Husan, both of which are designated as Area B (under Palestinian Authority jurisdiction).

Eitan Melet, Regavim’s Field Coordinator for Judea and Samaria, who documented the ongoing roadwork, explains that the land on which the Palestinian Authority is laying the road is of particular strategic importance: This, he says, constitutes the corridor connecting Gush Etzion to Jerusalem, and is a vital strategic asset for Israeli control of the area.

The illegal road, and the further expansion of the Palestinian villages that it will eventually facilitate, will turn territory under full Israeli jurisdiction into an isolated enclave surrounded by territory under de facto Palestinian Authority control.

Gush Etzion Regional Council head Shlomo Neeman stressed that this incident illustrates the Palestinian Authority’s systematic method of achieving territorial contiguity: “The Batir road is one more attempt to dismantle Israeli sovereignty. The road work must be stopped – yesterday! – and we must prevent the creation of a Palestinian state right under our noses,” he said.

“Protection of Israeli state land and law enforcement against illegal construction, land-grabs and encroachment on our national resources must be at the very top of the list of priorities of every Israeli official.”

Shin Bet reports dramatic increase in West Bank attacks on Israelis
A month after Operation Guardian of the Walls, the IDF continues to struggle to maintain calm in the West Bank. With Israel’s attention focused on the Gaza Strip, the flames of violence in the West Bank are at risk of exploding.

According to data released by the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency), there were 592 attacks in the West Bank and another 178 in Jerusalem in the month of May, compared to a total of 104 in April (80 in the West Bank and 24 in Jerusalem). The May attacks included 401 firebombings, 33 pipe bombs, 87 arson attacks, 47 small-arms fire, two grenade attacks, one vehicular attack and others.

One Israeli civilian, Yehuda Guetta, was also killed in a shooting attack at the Tapuah junction in early May by 44 year-old Muntasir Shalabi. Most of the attacks that took place were not carried out by groups, but by lone wolves. Those kinds of attacks, the IDF has admitted, are much more challenging to thwart than attacks planned by groups. If you don’t have an organization you don’t have the signature of the preparedness of the specific attack. Despite the challenges, the great majority of attacks have been thwarted by security forces.

But, the high number of thwarted attacks also indicate that the flames of violence are growing in the West Bank.
Israeli police killed Palestinian who didn't pose threat - B'Tselem
Security camera footage shows that Israeli police officers killed a Palestinian man in May who didn’t pose a threat to them in a “targeted killing,” claimed the left-wing Israeli NGO B’Tselem on Wednesday.

Ahmad ‘Abdu, 25, was sitting in his car in the Um a-Sharayet neighborhood in the West Bank city of El-Bireh on May 25, when officers from the Israeli Special Police Unit blocked his vehicle, exited their vehicle and immediately opened fire toward ‘Abdu, according to the report.

At the time, the Palestinian Wafa News Agency identified the man as Ahmad Jamil Fahd.

In the footage, ‘Abdu, apparently wounded, is seen opening the right door of his vehicle, followed by officers opening some of the other doors of the vehicle. Three minutes afterward, the officers are seen driving away, leaving ‘Abdu lying on the ground. Eyewitnesses stated that ‘Abdu was still alive at that point, but the officers are not seen in the footage giving him first aid or evacuating him for medical care.

According to B’Tselem, abrasions on ‘Abdu’s body indicate that the officers dragged him several meters.

After the officers left the scene, local residents arrived and called an ambulance, which arrived about 15 minutes later to transport ‘Abdu to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead on arrival. ‘Abdu had gunshot wounds to the left side of his chest and to his legs.

After the incident, the Shin Bet called ‘Abdu’s uncle and other relatives and apologized for the killing. The Shin Bet also demanded that the family turn in ‘Abdu’s uncle, Muhammad Abu ‘Arab, for allegedly shooting toward soldiers during a demonstration near El-Bireh.
Court greenlights demolishing home of terror suspect accused of killing student
The High Court of Justice on Wednesday unanimously rejected a petition against the pending demolition of the West Bank home of Muntasir Shalabi, suspected in the shooting attack last month that killed Israeli student Yehuda Guetta and wounded two other teens.

Shalabi’s family had argued against the planned move, claiming he had hardly lived there, but justices said the information gleaned from the investigation into the attack had shown otherwise. The house was owned by Shalabi, they said, and the suspected terrorist had also renovated it.

As for the family’s claims of the demolition order being collective punishment, the court said the need to provide a deterrent against future attacks was weightier than the need for consideration of the relatives who may have been uninvolved.

Last month IDF Central District Commander Tamir Yadai signed off on an order to demolish Shalabi’s home in the West Bank town of Turmus Ayya. The home has been mapped out for demolition.

Shalabi has been charged at the Judea Military Court with intentional homicide, three counts of attempted homicide, possession and use of an unlicensed weapon, and obstruction of justice.

Shalabi, 47, is suspected of driving to the Tapuah junction in the northern West Bank on May 2 and opening fire at a group of Israeli students from a nearby yeshiva in the Itamar settlement. The shooting fatally wounded 19-year-old Yehuda Guetta, seriously injured a second teenager and lightly wounded a third.

MEMRI: Saudi Journalist: Before Liberating Palestine From The Israelis It Must Be Liberated From Iran
In a June 1, 2021 column in the Saudi daily 'Okaz, journalist Khaled Al-Sulaiman wondered what would happen if an independent Palestinian state were to be established under the rule of Hamas. He speculated that such a state would not only fail to defend the Arabs' national security against the growing regional influence of Iran and Turkey, but would actually become part of the Iranian axis and a tool for realizing the Iranian hegemonial plans, displaying hostility and aggression towards the Arab world. He therefore concluded that, before liberating Palestine from the Israeli occupation, it must be freed from the clutches of Iran.

The following are translated excerpts from his column:
"What would happen if Palestine were to be liberated [from the Israeli occupation] tomorrow and a Palestinian state were to be founded, under the control of Hamas? What sort of relations would this state have with the Arab states, especially with Saudi Arabia?

"Hamas and most of the revolutionary Palestinian factions are openly hostile to Saudi Arabia, at least as hostile as they are to Israel, if not more so. The unofficial Palestinian rhetoric vis-à-vis Saudi Arabia, on the political, media and popular levels, is one of incitement and accusations of betrayal. It is overtly and covertly hostile. I think that Hamas, and the revolutionary factions like the [Palestinian] Islamic Jihad [PIJ], are closer to Iran and to its policy [than to the Arab states], and have closer alliance with the Iranian militias like the Lebanese Hizbullah the Iraqi Hashd [Al-Sha'bi], and with the Syrian regime, [than with the Arab states]. The crimes perpetrated by these Iranian proxies against the Sunni Arabs and Muslims in Iraq, Syria, Yemen and Lebanon have no effect on this relationship [between the Palestinians and Iran and its proxies], nor does the sectarian policy taken by Iran as part of its hegemony over the region!

"So what would be the effect of establishing a Palestinian state controlled by Hamas and the PIJ…?!

"What is certain is that a Palestinian state controlled by Hamas will not be an Arab state that contributes to defending the Arab national security against the expanding regional influence of Iran and Turkey, and will not be a state that puts an end to the schisms and division afflicting the Arab homeland. On the contrary, it will be hostile to the Arabs. It will be part of the Iranian camp and will become one of its tools.

"In short, before liberating Palestine from Israel, it must first be liberated from the clutches of Iran!"

PMW: Fatah uses wounded baby in propaganda for Israel boycott
Using a picture of a wounded baby, Fatah is calling on Palestinians to boycott Israeli ‎products. The ad above implies the PA libel that Israel deliberately targets, hurts, and ‎even kills Palestinian children and that buying Israeli products will help finance this.‎

In the ad, Fatah labels Israel the “enemy” and urges Palestinians to “boycott Israeli ‎products”: ‎
Text on image: “Boycott your enemy’s products‎
Our choice is the land, resolve, and building”‎

Posted text: “Boycotting the Israeli products is a national duty‎

[Facebook page of the Fatah Movement – Nablus Branch, June 8, 2021]‎

The image shows a Star of David with red drops of blood dripping from it. In its middle ‎is a picture of a wounded infant receiving medical treatment. The Star of David is ‎integrated in a barcode that indicates Israeli products. The Fatah logo that includes a ‎grenade, crossed rifles, and the PA map of “Palestine” that presents all of Israel ‎together with the PA areas as “Palestine” appears in the upper right corner of the ad.‎

The use of the PA libel that Israel deliberately targets Palestinian children to promote a ‎boycott of Israeli products is not new. Palestinian Media Watch exposed that the ‎PA Ministry of Education and the PA Ministry of Economy used similar symbolism in a ‎campaign in PA schools in 2017. An exhibit at a girls' school in Jenin showed bloody ‎disembodied hands and a doll with its head removed. Around them were scattered ‎Israeli products and missiles with logos of Israeli companies, among them the dairy ‎company Tnuva, teaching children that buying Israeli products facilitates murdering ‎Palestinians.‎
Hamas leader to Israel: Transfer $30m. from Qatar or head to escalation
Hamas plans to escalate tensions with Israel unless it allows Qatar to transfer $30 million to the Gaza Strip to help pay salaries, KAN News reported on Monday.

The terrorist group’s leader in Gaza, Yahya Sinwar, met on Sunday with UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Tor Wennesland and pressed him on the matter.

A discouraged Sinwar briefed reporters on the failure of the talks with the UN envoy and accused Israel of blackmail, calling for popular resistance while pledging to convene a meeting of all the Palestinian factions to unite their efforts.

Israel and the UN are particularly concerned about the resumption of Qatar cash payments out of fear that Hamas will use the funds to rebuild its military capabilities, significantly weakened during the latest round of violence last month.

One suggested compromise includes using the money to directly fund UN projects in the Gaza Strip.

The issue is supposed to be on the agenda of next week's meeting in Cairo between Israeli and Egyptian officials, according to KAN.

MEMRI: Jordan: The Coup That Never Was
It was like catnip for the ruling American elite. In April 2021, Jordan unveiled information about an alleged plot to overthrow King Abdullah II, a plot involving even his own Hashemite half-brother Prince Hamza. More important for the D.C. chattering class were the supposed villains in the story: former U.S. president Donald Trump, former Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman (MBS). This is like the triple crown of figures reviled by the incoming Democratic administration of Joe Biden and much of the mainstream media. The timing was exquisite and the lineup of bad actors could have only been bettered if somehow Putin would also have lent a hand.

If the cast of villains was irresistible, so was the hero. Here was that plucky Abdullah of Jordan, with his "glamorous" wife and his impeccable English, a close ally of the West – he was even an extra on an episode of Star Trek: Voyager! Abdullah was, in this telling, a man of principle threatened by the MAGA President's ridiculously amateurish son-in-law Jared Kushner and his thuggish Middle Eastern partners in Jerusalem and Riyadh. If you carefully read the fine print of the coverage, particularly Washington Post columnist David Ignatius's detailed piece on the "palace intrigue in Jordan and a thwarted deal of a century" some red flags might be raised, but you would be reassured that "Jordan is back in favor" in Washington now, the supposedly all-important Hashemite custodianship of Al-Aqsa in Jerusalem is intact, and the plot was disrupted.[1] Indeed, two of the three main Jordanian culprits – former senior government official Bassem Awadallah and Sharif Hassan bin Zaid, a Hashemite relative (from the Mecca branch) and former diplomat – were put on trial in Amman beginning in late June 2021.[2]

Reading the Western media coverage of this story, something seemed off to me. It was not only the comments of many Jordanian contacts who were dubious about much of this tale but what I could see was obviously missing in the story that seemed strange. For one, it was strange that, in a story about how foreigners – especially the Americans – had conspired to remove King Abdullah in the past few years, that there was no acknowledgement that it was the Americans who supposedly had placed him in power in the first place in 1999. I served in Jordan beginning shortly after a terminally ill King Hussein displaced his brother Hassan to make the young Abdullah, who could hardly speak Arabic, crown prince, ensuring he became king a few weeks later at the age of 37.

The broad perception among many Jordanians – especially critics of the government, and particularly East Bank Jordanians – at the time was that Abdullah's rise was engineered by U.S. Ambassador William J. Burns and CIA station chief Robert Richer, who prevailed on the ailing King Hussein to make the change. Whether it was true or not, it was a perception broadly and fervently held. Why this alleged coup was done varied with the telling. Some saw it as cleverness: "The smart Americans knew that Prince Hassan was not up to the challenge of being king and wanted someone better." Others saw a different conspiracy theory: "The Americans wanted to place the half-British Abdullah with the grasping Palestinian wife on the throne in order to 'Palestinianize' the Hashemites."
Australian parliament committee urges gov't to ban all of Hezbollah
The Australian Parliamentary Joint Standing Committee on Intelligence and Security on Tuesday unanimously recommended that the government’s Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrew designate the Iranian regime-backed Hezbollah’s entire organization a terrorist entity. Australia has merely classified a so-called military wing of Hezbollah’s movement, the External Security Organization, as a terrorist organization.

“This is a mighty step in the right direction for Australia and reflects the seriousness with which the committee takes the deadly activities of Hezbollah,” said Dr. Colin Rubenstein, the executive director of the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council, about the parliamentary committee recommendation.

“I urge Minister Andrews to seriously consider the committee’s recommendations,” Rubinstein said. “This committee, which reached its recommendations unanimously, very rarely proposes a change to the minister’s decision when it comes to terrorism listings. The fact that it has recommended a change to the current listing needs to be respected.”

The council said in a statement that “over the past 18 years, AIJAC has consistently advocated for Hezbollah to be listed under Australia’s Criminal Code as a unitary organization. AIJAC has long argued that listing the Hezbollah ESO is not effective to protect Australia’s national security.”
Can Bennett say no to the US on issues of Iran if needed be?
Like a seasoned writer using foreshadowing as a literary device to hint at what will come later, Benjamin Netanyahu, in his final speech as prime minister before the Knesset last week, accused the government of being weak on Iran.

Naftali Bennett had not yet even been sworn in as prime minister, yet Netanyahu posited that Bennett and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid would go soft on Iran and be unable – because of a lack of stature, status and backbone – to ever say “no” to the US.

Only he, Netanyahu, could stand up to Washington when it came to Israel’s security. Only he, Netanyahu, was brave enough to approve daring missions against Iran to thwart its nuclear ambitions. He, and he alone. No other.

That was the foreshadowing of things to come, a theme in Netanyahu’s Knesset address that those with perceptive hearing realized he would return to in an effort to undermine the current government. This was just the first taste of things to come.

The second taste came on Monday, when Netanyahu called a press conference to decry Lapid – whom he said was the true power behind the Bennett throne – for saying in a telephone conversation with Secretary of State Antony Blinken that the US and Israel would employ a “no surprises” policy with each other.

Iran Official Says US Has Agreed to Lift Oil, Shipping Sanctions
Iran said on Wednesday that Washington had agreed to remove all sanctions on Iran’s oil and shipping, and take some senior figures off a blacklist, at talks to revive Tehran’s 2015 nuclear deal with global powers which are now on a pause.

The remarks, by outgoing president Hassan Rouhani’s chief of staff, were consistent with previous assertions by officials in Rouhani’s pragmatist camp that Washington is prepared to make major concessions at the talks, under way since April in Vienna.

The talks adjourned on Sunday for a break, two days after Iran held a presidential election won by hardliner Ebrahim Raisi, the head of Iran’s judiciary who is on the US blacklist. Raisi is due to replace Rouhani in August.

“An agreement has been reached to remove all insurance, oil and shipping sanctions that were imposed by (former US President Donald) Trump,” presidential chief of staff Mahmoud Vaezi was quoted as saying by Iran’s state media.

“About 1,040 Trump-era sanctions will be lifted under the agreement. It was also agreed to lift some sanctions on individuals and members of the supreme leader’s inner circle.”

US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said on Sunday there was still “a fair distance to travel,” including on sanctions and on the nuclear commitments that Iran has to make. Other Western and Iranian officials have also said the talks are a long way from a conclusion.
Report: Drone attack on Iranian atomic energy organization building 'failed'
A sabotage attempt on a building of the Iranian atomic energy organization had been foiled, the pro-Iranian Twitter account PTV reported Wednesday.

Some reports said a drone had been used to perpetrate the attempted sabotage. Semi-official Iranian news agency Tasnim also reported the incident, without reference to drones.

Iran's semi-official ISNA news agency said the building was located near Karaj City, some 40 kilometers (25 miles) west the capital of Tehran.

Nournews, a website believed to be close to Iran's Supreme National Security Council, reported Wednesday that the attack was foiled "before causing any damage to the building." It said the case was "under investigation."

When asked for comment, an Iranian official referred to the Nournews report.

The website of state-owned IRAN newspaper published the same report without offering the location or other details. Iranian state TV carried the report on its news ticker.
Iran fails to launch satellite into orbit as Pentagon watches
Iran failed to launch another satellite in space in mid-June, according to CNN citing US defense officials.

The Pentagon and defense officials were observing the launch and stated that while the June launch failed, the Islamic Republic is preparing for another attempt within the coming months, according to satellite imagery.

The assumption is working off the presence of fuel containers, platforms and vehicles that could be seen around the Imam Khomeini Spaceport in Iran, as well as increased activity in and around the site.

"US Space Command is aware of the Iranian rocket launch failure which occurred early June 12th," Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Uriah Orland told CNN.

The details surrounding the failed launches, and causes of its failure were unclear, however, the report stated.


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