Saturday, July 10, 2021

From Ian:

The Left Only Cares About Palestinians When It Can Blame Israel
Israel is not beyond criticism. But this unhealthy obsession with an imagined Israel is not really about the conflict.

It's about a rather successful propaganda campaign by Palestinian leaders, their allies and multilateral institutions around the world. It's about an ideological shift on the political left in the West, in which race and other demographic categories have replaced class as the crucial axis.

And it has catastrophic consequences for Jews around the world who have become legitimate targets. They are the victims of what can only be called an anti-Zionist obsession, which demands total rejection of Israel of every Jew, lest they been seen as complicit in the "evil endeavors" of Israel.

This "Zio-centric" approach is one reason why the British Labour Party under former leader Jeremy Corbyn had become riddled with antisemitism, why we have seen this "new form" of antisemitism in Europe over the past twenty years, and why we recently saw antisemitic attacks in the streets of London, New York and Los Angeles.

But it also has terrible consequences for Palestinians, whose supporters are choosing to ignore the terrorism and tyranny that have wrecked Palestinian politics and have provided cover for a political structure in Palestine that they would never accept for themselves.

Jonathan A. Greenblatt: It's Time to Admit It: The Left Has an Antisemitism Problem
ADL made these points in recent years when leaders and pundits from the political right were spreading wild conspiracies and making unsubstantiated accusations about immigrants. The same is true now even when it is leaders on the political left who are doing the same about the Jewish state and the potential victims are Jewish people.

This is evident from ADL's data, which logged 251 antisemitic incidents from May 11—the official start of military action in response to the rocket attacks from Gaza —through the end of the month. This was an astounding increase of 115 percent over the same period in 2020. Such acts of hate included brutal assaults committed by people who had participated in pro-Palestinian protests in Los Angeles and New York, the vandalism of a local Jewish-owned eatery in San Francisco with the words "Zionist Pigz," and many, many more that I could choose from.

Vandalizing synagogues and attacking Jews to register dissatisfaction with Middle East affairs isn't activism; it's antisemitism.

Demonizing Zionism as a concept represents a kind of anti-Jewish racism. Delegitimizing the Jewish state with exaggerated claims and unhinged charges, then dismissing the connection between that level of inflammatory rhetoric and the violence perpetrated against Jewish people, is willfully ignorant at best, intentionally malign at worst. Excluding Jews from political coalitions or public activities is discrimination, plain and simple.

It has been heartening to see that some prominent progressive voices have spoken out against antisemitism or apologized for using overheated rhetoric. And there have been members of Congress who have made their problems with their colleagues' statements crystal clear. Last month, ADL and other leading Jewish organizations held an online rally against antisemitism that drew participation from the top leaders in Congress from both parties, as well as Muslim, Jewish and Christian clergy, and a number of prominent civil rights leaders. All of this was encouraging.

But we need all our allies to listen and others to engage authentically. This might not be easy. It may require some serious self-reflection on the part of some partisans in order to admit their biases and acknowledge their insensitivity. But it's imperative that leaders from all corners of society clearly, forcefully, unequivocally condemn antisemitism full stop.

And it's even more important and meaningful to do so when the hate happens to come from their own camp.
Why journalists love reporting from Israel
“Why does the Israeli-Palestinian conflict get so much more attention than any other conflict in the world?” Often, when Israelis ask this question, they are accused of “whataboutism”. However, I am constantly asked this by friends and colleagues who are genuinely puzzled.

As noted by Jonathan Freedland, this is certainly not the bloodiest conflict in the Middle East: hundreds of thousands have been murdered in Syria and Yemen recently. It is also not the only conflict that involves a democracy, though Nato involvement in Afghanistan has not received the same level of coverage.

While Former AP reporter Matti Freidman offered a plausible explanation in the Jewish component of the conflict, there are additional factors that might help us understand this media obsession.

Covering Israel is easy. As one journalist told me, people are so open and opinionated in Israel. all you need to do is pull out a microphone in the middle of the street, record five people who give five different opinions, wrap it up and send it back to your editor.

The liklihood of these opinions being unfiltered and therefore critical of the Israeli government is very high, while if you interview citizens of any other country in the region (as well as in the West Bank or Gaza), they know the lines they need to rehearse in front of journalists.

It is not easy to bring out nuances and critical voices in countries that are not open and free. In fact, unlike anywhere else in the Middle East, Israel’s press is so free, and human rights NGOs are so prolific and accessible, that you do not even need to go to Israel to cover the story.

Covering Israel is free of risks. Israel is an open society and there are no repercussions for those who criticise it. I have met many journalists in other countries in the Middle East. They have to operate in accordance with the government position or suffer severe consequences. While you take a personal risk in criticising Iran, Syria or Iraq, you take no personal or professional risk in criticising Israel.

Indeed, it is not only easier but also safer for a media outlet to send a reporter to Israel than to other conflict areas. Rather than undergo the risk and costs of sending a brave reporter to a hostile environment, you can send anyone to Israel instantly.

The Rise of the Crypto-Islamists
When startup initiative Super Mission launched its own cryptocurrency token earlier this year, it promised to divert enormous sums — drawn from 10 percent fees on all transactions — to nominated charities chosen each week by the “community.”

The two developers behind Super Mission initially appeared to follow through. In early June, American Muslims for Palestine (AMP) reportedly received over $100,000 of donations from this new cryptocurrency initiative — a fact they were quick to trumpet.

Involvement with the cryptocurrency, in the cause of donating to groups such as AMP, was encouraged by other prominent radical activists, including Hassan Shibly, a hardline radical activist and former head of the Florida branch of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). Super Mission, it appears, does not seek to enrich and support Muslim organizations but Islamist ones.

An extremely active Telegram channel for Super Mission features over 2,000 members and 35,000 messages. Thousands of these messages endorse Super Mission’s Islamist leanings, with some spouting familiar Islamist anti-Israel rhetoric.

Not all investors, however, share the developer’s apparent agenda. Writing in the Telegram channel, some more guileless subscribers have questioned the choice of “religious” and “political” charities, even noting that — despite the developers’ claims of “community” decision-making — members never actually asked whether or not AMP would make a suitable charitable beneficiary. In addition, despite claims of a new charity being chosen each week, over a month later, no new charity has apparently yet been announced.

AMP is certainly an interesting first beneficiary of what appears to be one of the first American Islamist-aligned cryptocurrencies. As a leading champion of Palestinian “resistance,” AMP is the successor to the Palestine Committee, a fundraising network for the designated terrorist organization Hamas. Palestine Committee members were implicated in the notorious 2007 Holy Land Foundation terrorism trial — one of the largest terror finance trials in American history.
Politicized UN official abuses food mandate to target Israel - opinion
The United Nations food agency recently sounded the alarm as Madagascar experiences its worst drought in decades, with one million people facing potential starvation. In war-ravaged Yemen, 20 million face hunger. In Venezuela, one out of three is struggling to meet minimum nutrition requirements as the Maduro regime sucks the country dry.

All examples of where Michael Fakhri, the UN Human Rights Council’s “right to food” monitor should be taking a keen interest. Yet Fakhri has never issued a press release on any of these. Instead, his attention has recently turned to attacking Israel as an “apartheid state” and calling for it to be boycotted.

The Canadian-Lebanese law professor was appointed by the UN in 2020 as special rapporteur on the right to food. He teaches human rights and food law at the University of Oregon, theoretically bringing relevant expertise.

However, the UN position, initiated two decades ago by Cuba, was politicized from the start, with Havana using its influence to appoint “independent experts” with an anti-Western, anti-US and anti-Israel agenda.

In 2019, Fakhri described Canada as a “settler colony” which he accused of committing a “race-based genocide against indigenous peoples” that is “ongoing.” That Fakhri occupies a UN post supported by anti-Western dictatorships is unsurprising.

Fakhri’s advocacy, however, doesn’t extend to indigenous people when they happen to be Jewish Israelis. Following the recent Israel-Gaza conflict, Fakhri signed an academics’ petition affirming “the Palestinian struggle as an indigenous liberation movement confronting a settler colonial state.” Israeli policies, Fakhri believes, “constitute apartheid,” and are “bolstered by a brute force” that “enshrines territorial theft” and “the racial supremacy of Jewish-Zionist nationals.” Fakhri and his co-signatories commit to “pressuring our academic institutions and organizations to respect the Palestinian call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions of Israel.”
U.N. official compares Israel's settlements to war crimes, sparking backlash
"A United Nations human rights investigator is being called anti-Semitic for remarks made Friday against Israel at the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland. Critics say this is just another long line of anti-Israel bias stemming from the world body as it seeks to rewrite history.

Michael Lynk, a Special Rapporteur on human rights in the Palestinian territories, was speaking to a meeting of the U.N. Human Rights Council presenting findings from his report where he said he wanted, 'to make it clear to Israel that its illegal occupation, and its defiance of international law and international opinion can and will no longer be cost free.'

Lynk, who has long been criticized for his anti-Israel views, noted, 'I conclude that the Israeli settlements do amount to a war crime.'

Lynk's remarks immediately drew fire from critics who noted that his report and remarks excluded any criticism of terror group Hamas or the Palestinian Authority.

Anne Bayefsky, director of the Touro Institute on Human Rights and the Holocaust, told Fox News, 'Missing from his so-called 20-page expert report is a single reference to Hamas using human shields, to any of the Palestinians killed by misfired Hamas rockets, or in fact to any Palestinian having committed any war crime at all. The real question is why the Biden administration has decided to join and legitimize this Council and its preposterous human rights authority figures, knowing full well neither the Council nor Lynk's platform can be or will be changed.'

Then-President Trump took the U.S. out of the Human Rights Council in 2018. Nikki Haley, the United Nations ambassador at the time, said the 47-member council was 'a protector of human rights abusers, and a cesspool of political bias.' In one of many policy changes from the Trump administration regarding the U.N., Secretary of State Antony Blinken said this past February the Biden administration would re-engage with the council and challenge for a seat for its 2022 session.

The problem with foreign aid for Gaza
Even the US State Department can’t guarantee that aid won’t go to Hamas, offering only vague assurances that they’re “going to do everything that we can to ensure that this assistance reaches the people who need it the most.”

INSTEAD OF allowing Hamas to regulate itself, which is, in essence, no regulations at all, an ad hoc body run by Egypt – which borders Gaza – or the UAE, should be created to distribute all international aid. It is crucial that the body be ad hoc with ever-changing members so that Hamas won’t be able to infiltrate it, as they did with the UNDP.

This body, which should also include several Gaza residents, should receive all international aid meant for Gaza and ensure that it goes directly to recipients, including schools, hospitals and construction companies. All countries who contribute aid to Gaza via this ad hoc body should have an interest in holding it accountable for ensuring their aid is correctly designated, and withdraw aid accordingly if it is not.

Nothing in Gaza is safe from Hamas’s influence. Not schools, not American news outlet headquarters and not even hospitals. International aid to the victims of the recent war sounds righteous, but it often causes more harm than good when it allows Hamas to restock weapons. UNRWA, the obvious body to take charge, has been heavily influenced by Hamas for years, leading to essentially zero monitoring of hundreds of millions of dollars.

Several countries including the US, Germany, Egypt and Qatar and the EU have pledged to send aid and due to a lack of coordination, resulted in a pledged $1.4 billion, despite estimates placing damage in Gaza around $322 million. This further incentivizes Hamas to start wars during which they know Israel will retaliate.

If the international community truly wants to aid Gaza residents, purging Hamas’s influence and completely restructuring UNRWA would be far more effective than money or concrete.
What is 'the new antisemitism?'
And let’s not overlook the World Conference on Racism held in Durban in 2001, which turned into one of the ugliest antisemitic events in history. The draft resolution of that event was composed in Tehran, of all places. Those who unfortunately missed the conference may get the chance to attend the UN’s Durban Conference anniversary event later this year.

One shouldn’t be surprised to learn that 36% of the Council’s resolutions during the years 2003-2017 condemned Israel, the remaining 64% were distributed among such righteous states as Iran, Syria, Libya, Yemen, Sudan and Afghanistan, whereas similar states such as Iraq, Pakistan, Turkey and Lebanon have not been condemned even once.

It is worth mentioning in this regard that the 2013 Freedom in the World annual survey and report, which attempts to measure the degree of democracy and political freedom in every nation, ranked Israel as the Middle East's only free country.

This is an appropriate place to discuss the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign. Those who lead the campaign argue that it is a result of Israeli occupation following the 1967 Six Day War. This is not true. Boycotts of Jewish-owned businesses were organized by Arab leaders starting in 1922, 26 years before the establishment of the State of Israel, and 45 years before the 1967 war. As of 1945, the Arab League led the boycott, in which members of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation joined.

Of interest is that the boycott damages Palestinians no less than Israelis. Following the 1967 war, several Israeli enterprises established projects at the border of the West Bank, hiring Palestinian workers. Following the development of BDS, many of them moved back to Israel proper leaving behind thousands of jobless people.

Obviously, occupation is not the cause of the BDS campaign but rather its excuse. Even if Israel withdraws from all territories, the boycott won’t end as long as the State of Israel exists.

To use Gove’s words, “The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel is antisemitic. They hate Israel, and they wish to wipe out the Jewish people’s home, not because of what Israel does but because of what Israel is – free, democratic, liberal and Western. We need to remind ourselves that defending Israel’s right to exist is defending our common humanity. Now more than ever.”

To sum up, classical or modern, old or new, antisemitism is antisemitism and one of the ugliest manifestations of racism.
Caroline Glick: US allies face America's Revolutionary People's Army
The US's deterrent posture in the Middle East has sunk to new lows since Joe Biden entered office. In response to attacks on US forces in Iraq by Iranian-controlled militias, Biden ordered airstrikes along the Iraqi-Syrian border on two supply bases that serve the militias. As Dalia al-Aqidi noted in Arab News, the faraway bases have little impact on the militias' operational readiness or capabilities. Bombing them was little different from bombing empty buildings.

Iran and its proxies wasted no time demonstrating that the US airstrike left them undaunted This week has seen a cascade of attacks against US forces, allies and installations in Iraq and Syria. Missile and drone strikes on US forces in Erbil were followed by similar attacks against the US Embassy in Baghdad. On Tuesday, US forces guarding the oil fields in northeastern Syria and US forces in Basra were attacked on Wednesday and Thursday. The suspected perpetrator of the bombing of the tanker in the port of Dubai that rocked the city Wednesday evening is Iran's Yemeni Houthi proxy.

All this points to the conclusion that Iran is certain that the US will not lift a finger to defend itself fearing that doing so will jeopardize its efforts to realign its policies towards Iran.

The day after he ordered the bombing of the militia bases along the Iraqi-Syrian border, Biden met with Israel's outgoing President Reuven Rivlin for a farewell visit. In their joint Oval Office appearance, Biden read all of his talking points from cue cards he held in his hand, including the greeting, "I want to thank the President for being here."

Biden also read, "Iran will never get a nuclear weapon on my watch."

A few days after Rivlin's visit, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken withdrew economic sanctions the Trump administration placed on three Iranian nationals involved in the regime's ballistic missile program. The administration also acknowledged to reporters that it is considering removing the sanctions the Trump administration placed on Iranian leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei following the Iranian downing of a US drone in the Persian Gulf.

As for Israel, whereas a couple weeks ago, Blinken was telling Foreign Minister Yair Lapid that the administration would account for Israeli concerns about the nuclear deal in its nuclear talks with the Iranians, on Wednesday Haaretz reported that a senior US official admitted Israel has no influence on US negotiating positions in relation to Iran and its nuclear program.

The Bennett-Lapid government's assumption that it can trust the US to defend Israel's strategic interests in relation to Iran and other regional issues is the anchor of its strategic calculations. Given the Pentagon's current priorities and its strategic disarray in the region, the government would be well advised to revisit that assumption.

The New Chile Deserves Better Than the Antisemitic Daniel Jadue
Chile is experiencing its own Corbyn moment. Daniel Jadue, the leader of the Chilean Communist Party, is a serious candidate for President. In a radio interview, he said some of the “alternative media in the country are being bought by the Zionist community of Chile.”

Despite the bad faith insinuations, progressive Chilean Jews like us can’t support Daniel Jadue’s presidential bid. Not because he is a communist, but because he is an unrepentant antisemite

These are exciting times in Chile. For the first time in our history, a new constitution will be drafted by a convention

that is not only fully democratic, but has gender parity and representation for indigenous peoples.

A further boost to Chilean democracy is the presidential election due to be held in November. As in any election, debate is fierce. So much so that it has reached Haaretz, a newspaper based 15,000 kms away from Chile. As politically engaged Jews, we would like to contribute to that debate about the left in Chile, and about the suitability of the Communist Party’s candidate for the presidency, Daniel Jadue.

Let us start with simple facts. As we write, there are at least three left-wing candidates. Many Chilean Jews, like us, support the candidacies not only of Daniel Jadue but also of Gabriel Boric and Paula Narváez. The reasons behind supporting one or another candidacy are those of normal everyday national politics.

The argument that Jadue is the only genuine left-wing candidate, the assumption of a recent Haaretz op-ed, flies in the face of the concrete evidence of policy proposals by the other two candidates. More gravely, it neglects the views of a huge group of Chileans who want change, but are doing so by supporting other movements, parties and candidates.

It has also been argued that when people raise criticisms against Jadue, they do so because he is a member of the Communist Party (Chile’s Jewish Leaders Are Using Antisemitism to Bash a pro-Palestinian Leftist. Again).

We are under no illusions that in this country there is still a significant anti-communist culture, originating in the opposition to and brutal repression of left-wing parties during the Pinochet era and before, and that they will try any trick in the book to derail Jadue’s candidacy.
King Abdullah ‘satisfied’ new Israeli gov’t rebuilding ties with Jordan
Jordan's King Abdullah told President Isaac Herzog that he is satisfied by the new Israeli government’s efforts to rebuild relations between the countries, in a phone call between the leaders Saturday night.

Abdullah called Herzog to congratulate him on his inauguration into the presidency earlier in the week. The President’s Office characterized the call as “friendly and warm.”

The Jordanian monarch “expressed satisfaction from the return of the diplomatic relations between the country to their proper trajectory recently,” the president’s spokesman said.

Herzog “emphasized the importance of the strategic relations between the countries to promote peace and regional development.” Abdullah and Herzog agreed to stay in touch and the president said he plans to help strengthen those ties, including in the areas of economics and tourism.

Last week, Israel struck a deal to sell Jordan an additional 50 million cu.m. of water this year, and allow Jordanian imports to the West Bank to go up from $160 million last year to about $700m.
It's official: Jordan is now allies with Iran - opinion
On 27 June 2021, Jordan’s King Abdullah II met with Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in Baghdad. All three announced an agreement to cooperate on transporting Iraqi oil through pipelines from Iraq to Jordan to Egypt, from where it will be exported to Europe through the Mediterranean. This agreement is King Abdullah’s “coming out of the closest” with Iran. It is now official: Jordan is allied with Iran because Iraq is actually under Iran’s control. The Iraqi government is a puppet state controlled by Iran. Exporting Iraqi oil through Jordan to Europe is simply exporting oil controlled by Iran, which rules Iraq through its Shi’ite militias and controls the country’s resources.

One day after this happened, Jordanian state media began promoting full financial cooperation with Iran. This is as shocking to the Jordanian public as it was to the Egyptian public 40 years ago when then-president Anwar Sadat announced peace with Israel.

King Abdullah’s adviser, Zaid Nabulsi, a member of the newly appointed “king’s advisory board,” told the media, “Iranian religious tourism will breathe life back into Jordan.” Government-controlled media sites began speaking about one million expected religious tourists. Those are meant to visit the southern village of Kerak, 120 km. (75 miles) south of Amman, to visit the shrine of Jaffar Ibn Abu Taleb. In addition to that, the Jordanian and Arab press began speaking of an Iranian proposal to build an airport in Kerak.

Jaffar Ibn Abu Taleb was the Prophet Muhammad’s cousin who died fighting against the Byzantine Empire in Kerak. His shrine is considered most holy to the Shi’ite faith. Nonetheless, the Sunni faith generally bans visiting graves for worship and considers it an act of infidelity toward God, hence the shrine is mostly closed. Nonetheless, the king himself went for a visit to promote and help legitimize these future visits It went further, with a monarchy-supported campaign to even promote the Shi’ite faith itself. This is what Iran did in both Syria and Iraq. This is exactly how it all began.
Israeli President Herzog Expresses Sorrow at Death of Jehan Sadat, Widow of Egyptian President Who Made Peace With Israel
Israeli President Isaac Herzog expressed condolences on Friday upon the death of Jehan Sadat, the widow of Egyptian president Anwar Sadat, who in 1979 became the first Arab leader to make peace with Israel.

Sadat, who died on Friday at the age of 87, accompanied her husband throughout the lengthy peace process with Israel, and was present when he was assassinated by radical Islamists in 1981.

Jehan was notably active in public life, working assiduously to expand the rights of women in Egypt’s highly conservative society and fostering reforms that eventually came to be known as “Jehan’s laws.”

Following her husband’s murder, she continued her charity work and interest in social justice, as well as holding professorships at various American universities.

Herzog expressed sorrow at the news of Sadat’s death, saying she “stood at the side” of her husband during “the historic act of his visit to Jerusalem and making peace with Israel.”

“Jehan worked for the advancement of peace,” said Herzog, who also shared an Arabic-langauge version of the message. “In my name and the name of the State of Israel — our condolences to the president of Egypt and the Egyptian people.”

According to Israel’s public broadcaster Kan, Herzog also conveyed his condolences to Khaled Azmi, Egypt’s ambassador to Israel.
Smuggled guns from Lebanon were meant for terror, largest bust in years — TV
Israeli security officials believe dozens of weapons seized on the Lebanese border overnight as they were being smuggled into the country were destined to be used in terror attacks inside Israel, according to television reports on Saturday.

According to Kan and Channel 13 news, officials believe the weapons and ammunition were meant for Arab Israeli terror operatives, with backing from Lebanese terror group Hezbollah.

Security officials told Channel 13 the captured cache was “the largest smuggling attempt in years.” Channel 12 was told defense officials couldn’t remember such a significant attempt, in terms of the number of weapons involved and their quality.

Overnight Friday, security forces foiled the attempt to smuggle, from Lebanon into northern Israel, 43 handguns and ammunition worth some NIS 2.7 million (approximately $820,000), according to police estimates.

Police and the Israel Defense Forces announced on Saturday they were investigating whether it was carried out with the help of Hezbollah.

As Lebanon faces a major financial crisis, Hezbollah is believed to prefer arming others for an attack within Israel, rather than direct aggression on the border, officials told Channel 12.

A Hezbollah attack on the border itself would likely result in a clash with the Israeli army, which could lead to an all-out war in Lebanon.

Gazans nabbed after infiltrating into Israel armed with knives
Four Palestinians, some armed with knives, were detained by Israel Defense Force soldiers after infiltrating into southern Israel on Saturday, the military said.

On Saturday morning, an unarmed Palestinian, who crossed into Israel from the Gaza Strip through the southern section of the border fence, was detained and questioned by IDF soldiers.

Later Saturday, three suspects carrying a number of knives were detained by soldiers in the same area after infiltrating from the coastal enclave, according to the IDF.

The army said the suspects were questioned at the scene, but did not clarify if they were taken for further questioning or returned to the Strip.

While Israel has a high-tech series of fences and walls guarding its frontier with Gaza, both above and below ground, a number of gaps remain in the steel fencing surrounding the Strip. In times of low visibility, these gaps have been used by Palestinians in Gaza to illegally enter Israeli territory, often with hopes of fleeing the beleaguered enclave.

In June, a man who crossed the border, armed with an improvised bomb, a grenade and two knives, was arrested by soldiers.
Khaled Abu Toameh: Abbas, Erdogan discuss Gaza reconstruction, reconciliation with Hamas
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas met in Istanbul on Saturday with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to discuss the latest developments in the Palestinian arena.

Abbas arrived in Istanbul on Friday night on a three-day visit at the invitation of Erdogan, Palestinian officials said.

The meeting came as he continues to face widespread criticism over the death of PA critic Nizar Banat, who was reportedly beaten to death by Palestinian security officers, as well as regarding a massive crackdown on political activists, social media users and journalists in the West Bank.

Abbas will ask Erdogan to use his influence with Hamas to resolve the dispute between the PA and the Islamist movement over the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip, the officials said.

The PA president insists that all funds to the Gaza Strip be transferred through the PA government in Ramallah, and not directly to Hamas. The terrorist group in control of Gaza, for its part, said that it is prepared to allow the PA to participate in the reconstruction effort, but only together with representatives of various Palestinian factions.

According to Palestinian sources, Abbas will also ask Erdogan to pressure Hamas to stop inciting against the PA leadership following the death of Banat.

The PA’s official news agency Wafa said that Abbas briefed the Turkish president on “ongoing Israeli assaults in occupied Jerusalem, including the expulsion of residents,” referring to the controversy surrounding the eviction of Arab families from their homes in the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah. The houses were owned by Jews before 1948.
Khaled Abu Toameh: PA to fire employees who condemn death of anti-corruption activist
Palestinian political activists have called for holding another protest in Ramallah on Sunday afternoon to demand that those responsible for the death of Palestinian Authority critic Nizar Banat be held accountable.

The activists said that they will also protest against the ongoing PA security crackdown against political opponents, social media users and journalists in the West Bank.

Last week, PA security forces banned a similar protest that was supposed to take place in the center of Ramallah and detained several activists.

Some of the protesters, including five women, later complained that they had been beaten, sexually harassed and detained by PA security officers.

Banat, a prominent critic of the PA, was pronounced dead shortly after more than 20 Palestinian officers raided the house where he was sleeping in Hebron on June 24. His family accused the officers of beating him to death with rifle butts and iron bars.

Palestinians Are Ready to Elect a New President Who Will Stay Way Past Legal Term Limit (satire)
The results of a new poll were released today, illuminating the view Palestinians have of their leadership. West Bank Palestinians were asked about their feelings towards current Palestinian Authority President, Mahmoud Abbas. Abbas was elected President in 2005, and was slated to serve until 2009. However, he extended his term and remains in power to this day, which is a weird thing for a leader to be able to do. Palestinians polled expressed a desire for elections so that a new leader could stay far past his welcome.

“I just think we’re ready,” a Ramallah resident told us. “If there’s one thing I know about democracy, it’s that we deserve to be able to pick who will represent us long after we decide we don’t want them to anymore.” Palestinians haven’t indicated who they’d like to replace Abbas, though they remain convinced that literally anybody could get more done in just ten short years, especially when there’s no one to tell them to step aside.

Seth Frantzman: Iran and Russia express concern over US leaving Afghanistan
In a bizarre irony and twist of fate it appears Russia and Iran are concerned about the US leaving Afghanistan and the rapid rise of the Taliban in parts of the country. If Afghanistan collapses it appears that the Taliban could end up in Kabul and perhaps sign some kind of deal with Turkey, Qatar, Pakistan and other countries that could see their interests served in a Taliban-led Afghanistan.

Qatar has brokered Taliban talks with the US, likely hoping it can broker a Taliban win. Turkey wants to control Kabul airport, likely also hoping to put its feet on the neck of the embattled government and aid the Taliban conquest quietly. Pakistan has always backed the Taliban and extremists in Afghanistan.

Russia and Iran may be threatened by this setup. While Russia and Iran opposed the US in Afghanistan, they also saw the US role there as convenient. The US and other western powers could be used to shield Russia, Iran and other states. In the last several days reports emerged about Russia’s concern. “The US exit from Afghanistan is a headache for Moscow which fears spiraling fighting may push refugees into its Central Asian backyard, create a jihadist threat and even stir civil war in one ex-Soviet state, a former Russian diplomat and two analysts said. US forces vacated their main Bagram Air Base last week and most NATO forces have also pulled out. That has emboldened the Taliban, which has made territorial advances, raising fears about the Kabul government's grip on power and prompting over 1,000 Afghan security personnel to flee to Tajikistan,” noted Reuters.

This turn of events is interesting. Russia was happy to let the US do the heavy lifting in Afghanistan over the last two decades. Now that the US has called the bluff of countries that thought America wouldn’t leave, it is US adversaries that may come running to complain that the US left. This is because Iran and Russia do not share the same interests as the Pakistan-Qatar-Turkey alliance system that tends to back extremists in Afghanistan and globally. Iran doesn’t want to see more genocidal attacks on Shi’ites in Afghanistan. Iran abused poor Shi’ites from Afghanistan in recent years, recruiting them to fight in Syria. But Iran doesn’t want the community of Hazzara’s harmed. These poor people have suffered under jihadist terror for many years.
Taliban Say They Control 85% of Afghanistan, Humanitarian Concerns Mount
Taliban officials said on Friday the Sunni Muslim insurgent group had taken control of 85% of territory in Afghanistan, and international concern mounted over problems getting medicines and supplies into the country.

Afghan government officials dismissed the assertion that the Taliban controlled most of the country as part of a propaganda campaign launched as foreign forces, including the United States, withdraw after almost 20 years of fighting.

But local Afghan officials said Taliban fighters, emboldened by the withdrawal, had captured an important district in Herat province, home to tens of thousands of minority Shi’ite Hazaras.

Torghundi, a northern town on the border with Turkmenistan, had also been captured by the Taliban overnight, Afghan and Taliban officials said.

Hundreds of Afghan security personnel and refugees continued to flee across the border into neighboring Iran and Tajikistan, causing concern in Moscow and other foreign capitals that radical Islamists could infiltrate Central Asia.

Three visiting Taliban officials sought to address those concerns during a visit to Moscow.

“We will take all measures so that Islamic State will not operate on Afghan territory… and our territory will never be used against our neighbours,” one of the Taliban officials, Shahabuddin Delawar, told a news conference.
Biden Must Abandon Nuclear Negotiations with Iran
The latest report by the International Monetary Fund makes especially grim reading for the Iranian regime, as it shows the country's foreign reserves have collapsed from around $140 billion in 2015 to just $4 billion today.

Iran's perilous economic state has, unsurprisingly, prompted nationwide protests at the regime's gross mismanagement of the economy.

With Mr Raisi's triumph, the hardliners have secured victory for a man with the perfect qualifications for crushing anti-regime dissent.... Under his presidency, the Iranian people can expect more of the same as the regime intensifies its efforts to tighten its hold on power.

Mr Raisi's comments effectively mean that Mr Biden's hopes of expanding the terms of the nuclear deal are dead in the water. Consequently, rather than persisting with the nuclear talks in Vienna, the US leader should cut his losses, and end the charade of trying to revive the ill-considered nuclear deal with Tehran.
IAEA Inspection on Iran Reports Mostly Bad News
On June 9, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) released a series of reports by the Secretary General dated April and May 2021 on Iran’s nuclear activities. Most are short notifications about Iran’s increasing use of advanced centrifuges and increasing levels of enrichment, both of which are prohibited by the JCPOA.

The most important of the reports issued is the detailed quarterly report, dated May 31, which discusses all aspects of Iran’s nuclear program with special emphasis on uranium enrichment activities and facilities. It shows that while the production of low enriched uranium at the Natanz FEP (fuel enrichment plant) appears to have been curtailed by about half — probably due to the “accident” in early April — most of Iran’s other activities are increasingly worrying.

Iran’s current stock of low enriched uranium at the 5% level is almost 1,800 kilograms, about six times the 300 kilograms allowed by the JCPOA and slightly above the 3.67% enrichment level that it permits. In addition, there are another 1,300+ kilograms of uranium enriched to the 2% level. While that might seem insignificant on the face of it, it brings Iran’s total quantity of enriched uranium to more than 3,200 kilograms, or more than 10 times what is allowed by the JCPOA.

It is true that the 1,800 kilograms of 5% enriched uranium are only about a sixth of the quantity that was in Iran’s possession on the eve of the implementation of the JCPOA in 2015, but this is not particularly reassuring. At the Natanz facility, the Iranians are in the process of installing and deploying for use more and more advanced centrifuges, the IR-2m and the IR-4, for the enrichment of uranium. This activity is not permitted by the JCPOA during the first 10 years’ duration of the agreement; i.e., until 2026 (this is in addition to replacing damaged IR-1 centrifuges, which is allowed).

Iran Transport Ministry Hit by Second Apparent Cyberattack in Days
The website of Iran’s transport ministry was taken down on Saturday by what state television said was a “cyber disruption,” a day after an apparent cyberattack on the state railway company.

Computer systems of the staff of the Ministry of Roads and Urban Development were the subject of the attack which resulted in the ministry’s portal and sub-portal sites becoming unavailable, the TV channel reported.

It didn’t give any indication of who it believed could have been behind the attack and did not say if any ransom demand had been made.

Train services had been disrupted on Friday, with hackers posting fake delay notices on station boards, state-affiliated news outlets reported. The government-run railway company said only the displays had been affected and that trains ran normally.

Telecommunications Minister Mohammad Javad Azari-Jahromi warned on Saturday of possible ransomware attacks unless vulnerabilities in computer systems were dealt with, Iranian news outlets reported.

In late 2020, Iran said hackers launched large-scale attacks on two of its government institutions, without giving details on the targets or the suspected perpetrators.

NJ Gov, Congressional Reps Join Interfaith Condemnation of Antisemitism ‘With No Caveats’
Leading New Jersey elected officials were among a group of 90 civic and faith leaders who condemned antisemitism with “no caveats and no qualifiers” in a campaign announced on Thursday.

The statement, “New Jersey Against Antisemitism,” was endorsed by Governor Phil Murphy and Attorney General Gurbir Grewal, Senators Cory Booker and Robert Menendez, and all of the state’s Congressional representatives — along with dozens of Muslim, Christian, Sikh and other communal leaders.

“In recent weeks, our area has witnessed an alarming rise in antisemitic attacks – physical and verbal, in person and online,” the statement said.

“Antisemitism, like any kind of hate, is unacceptable in any form, it continued. “There must be no caveats and no qualifiers when condemning anti-Jewish hate, violence against Jews, and antisemitism in all spaces. We unequivocally condemn these attacks, reaffirm our solidarity with the Jewish community, and call on all community leaders to join us.”

According to an April audit by the Anti-Defamation League, in 2020 New Jersey recorded its third-highest number of anti-Jewish hate crimes since 1979.

Signatories also included Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin of the Archdiocese of Newark, Br. Dawud Assad of the Islamic Society of Central Jersey (ISCJ), David L. Buckner of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, and New Jersey NAACP President Richard Smith.
NYPD Seek Suspect Who Punched, Threw Broken Furniture at Brooklyn Jewish Man
Police in New York are seeking a suspect seen on camera punching a Brooklyn Jewish man in the chest after making an antisemitic remark, and then striking the victim in the back with a broken piece of furniture.

The attack is being investigated by the NYPD Hate Crimes Task Force, which said it took place on Monday in the Bedford–Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn.

The suspect reportedly accosted the the victim, who was wearing traditional Jewish garb, saying, “F***ing Jew, why are you coming into my neighborhood?”

He then broke off a piece of furniture that was lying on the street before throwing it at the Jewish man and then fleeing, police said.

The NYPD released partial footage of the incident on Twitter.

New York Governor Andrew condemned the attack, and said he would direct the state’s own hate crimes task force to assist in the investigation.

“I am disgusted to learn of another attack against a member of our Jewish community — in broad daylight. This is antisemitism, plain and simple,” Cuomo said in a statement. “To the Jewish community of New York, we are with you. We will fight to ensure you can walk safely down the streets of our state anytime, anywhere. Hate will never win here.”

Plant-covered buildings can tame summer heat, Israeli study finds
Covering the facades of buildings with plants can reduce temperatures indoors by several degrees in the summer and increase them by almost as much in winter, according to an Israeli study of green walls thought to be the first of its kind in the world.

The data, presented Wednesday by researchers from Bar-Ilan University, studied “vertical forests” of bushes and climbers grown out of balcony-based planters, along with denser “green walls,” made up of smaller plants grown in soil in rows of containers.

The results: Both cool buildings by about 2° C (3.6° F), though green walls are better at bringing down the mercury. And the two are equally good at keeping warmth inside.

Aside from purifying the air, absorbing carbon dioxide and providing food and shelter, plants can also cool temperatures via a process known as evapotranspiration, in which they release water into the atmosphere in response to hotter, drier air, much the same way humans sweat to cool themselves down. And plants placed on or beside walls can also act as natural insulators, helping keeping a building cool or warm.

Today, architects and urban planners in many parts of the world are using vegetation on roofs and walls as a nature-based solution to urban heat islands, an observed phenomenon in which cities can be several degrees hotter than surrounding areas due to the prevalence of heat-absorbing brick, concrete and asphalt, with little green space.


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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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