Tuesday, July 20, 2021

From Ian:

Jonathan S. Tobin: Why Is Support For ‘Freedom of Worship for Jews’ on the Temple Mount So Controversial?
This dispute is dismissed by some as an unnecessary conflict that is harming Israel’s security merely to satisfy the wishes of extremists. But the Palestinian claim that Jews have no rights on the Temple Mount is inextricably linked to their unwillingness to recognize the legitimacy of the Jewish presence and sovereignty anywhere in the country.

That Abbas and his “moderates” claim there were no Temples on the Mount or the historical nature of the Jewish claims to this land isn’t merely rhetoric that enables them to compete with Hamas. It goes to the heart of their long war against Zionism that they still refuse to renounce. A Jewish state that would officially renounce Jewish rights on the Mount would be sending a message to the Palestinian street that the extremist belief that Israel will disappear isn’t a pipe dream that they must abandon if they want a peaceful future.

Those who are still trying to pressure Israel to accept a two-state solution that the Palestinian Authority has repeatedly made clear it has no interest in pursuing need to understand that peace can’t be built on the denial of Jewish rights, especially in Jerusalem.

Israel has no desire to interfere with the mosques on the Temple Mount or stop Muslim (or any) worship there. Those who circulate this lie, whether among the Palestinians or their American cheerleaders, like Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), are opponents of peace, not people working for co-existence. That even some of those who claim to be Israel’s friends think it is reasonable to deny “freedom of worship” for Jews at their most sacred site are giving unwitting aid and comfort to the very extremist forces that make peace impossible.

The world’s tolerance for Palestinian intolerance and anti-Semitism that finds expression in a denial of Jewish rights to the Temple Mount has helped enable the conflict over Israel’s existence to linger on long after it should have been abandoned by its foes. By taking a position on the Temple Mount, Bennett has done something that should have been done by his predecessors decades ago. Having chosen to take a stand on the issue, he dare not retreat from it lest he justify his opponents’ belief that he hasn’t the right stuff to maintain his principles or his government.
Ra’am party shows its true colors
Those who have been pitching the “new and improved” Ra’am Party to the Israeli public as a moderate faction promoting a civil agenda, now that it is a member of Israel's governing coalition for the first time in Israel's history, had something of a rude awakening on Sunday, courtesy of the “old” Islamist Ra’am.

Its warning against “settlers and MKs violating the Al-Aqsa mosque” was taken right out of Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar’s playbook. Similar statements were made by the Gaza-based terrorist group as part of its ultimatums to Israel prior to the 11 days of fighting that erupted in May.

Its statement, echoed by the Southern Branch of the Islamic Movement from which it hails, adopted the menacing terminology used by Hamas with regard to the Temple Mount.

Ra’am knows very well that no Jewish visitor to the Temple Mount plans to breach Al-Aqsa mosque. This didn’t stop it from adopting Hamas-style radicalism in its statement by claiming full proprietary Islamic sanctity over the compound’s 35 acres.

If anything, this means that the allegedly moderate Southern Branch of the Islamic Movement aims to take the place of its northern counterpart, which Israel outlawed in 2015 over its radicalism and ties to the Muslim Brotherhood.

Southern Branch officials are now expressing radical opinions over the Temple Mount similar to those expressed by Northern Branch officials who are now jailed.

It is time to admit that the status quo at the holy site has been eroded to the point that it exists in name only. The Muslims have turned the Dome of the Rock into a mosque, they have built two underground mosques at the site, Israeli enforcement of building regulations and protection of antiquities has weakened and Jews have been subjected to rigorous limitations with regard to visiting the site.

It is only natural in light of these developments that Israeli enforcement of the joke that is the “status quo” should slacken.
Khaled Abu Toameh: Arabs Warn Biden: The War on Terrorism is not Over
The Arabs are saying that the Americans are mistaken if they think that the war on terrorism will end with the withdrawal of the US troops from Afghanistan.

Adib warned that the US will pay the price for its exit from Afghanistan. "The cost of the withdrawal will be greater and more dangerous for America and the entire world," he said. "Al-Qaeda and the Taliban are preparing to establish a state whose features will be close to those of ISIS. The threat of ISIS is still there and its cells are still spread everywhere." — Mounir Adib, Egyptian expert on Islamic movements and international terrorism, Annaharar.com, June 5, 2021.

[T]he threat of terrorism will grow because of the Americans' failure to consult with their allies in the Middle East, including Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.... — Mounir Adib, Annaharar.com, June 5, 2021.

"The biggest catastrophe is that Afghanistan will become the capital of terrorism again, and now we have the threat of Al-Qaeda making a comeback... after America's withdrawal from Afghanistan as these groups feel proud and victorious, which will push them to continue fighting against America and the Arabs and Europeans." — Mounir Adib, Annaharar.com, June 5, 2021.

"[T]he problem is that extremist and terrorist groups and political Islam do not know how to live without rivalry, and they do not like to live in peace and without enemies. It is true that the US military force diminished Al-Qaeda and destroyed the dream of ISIS to have its own state, but it did not eliminate the terrorist ideology...." — Bahaa Al-Awam, Syrian journalist and political analyst, Al-Ain, July 12, 2021.

"What makes matters worse is that the American withdrawal from the region will mark a victory in favor of political Islamic organizations...." — Bahaa Al-Awam, Al-Ain, July 12, 2021.

These Arabs are telling the Biden administration in no uncertain terms: US policies and actions are undermining your credibility among your allies and paving the way for the return of Islamic terrorist groups.
Mahmoud Abbas Wants Israel’s Surrender
Reflecting a tactic of skilled negotiators, the list of demands made by Mahmoud Abbas as a precondition for renewing talks with Israel mixes sensible requests with unacceptable demands. His demand that Israel upgrade the Palestinian solar network, for example, appears fairly reasonable on the face of it but has security implications for the work of the Shin Bet.

Abbas’ demands as a whole indicate a desire to restore the status quo that existed before the terror war begun by the Palestinians against Israel more than 20 years ago, in September 2000. His wish list also indicates that he believes it is possible to go back to the state of affairs that prevailed when he rejected Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s sweeping proposal, though more than a decade has passed since then.

During the intervening years, the Middle East has seen many sea changes. In the past decade, for example, as the Syrian civil war unfolded and Iranian involvement increased, Qassem Soleimani’s plan to surround Israel with a ring of fire deployed and supported by Iran steadily progressed. Under those circumstances, Israel’s control of the Jordan Valley became far more vital than it was in the days of the July 2000 Camp David summit at which PM Ehud Barak was willing to cede the Valley and agree to the Clinton Parameters for a partition of Jerusalem.

In the business world, it is inconceivable that terms for a deal would not change with the passage of time. Abbas’ list of demands implies that when negotiating with Israel, the years that have passed and the events that occurred during those years should be dismissed as irrelevant.


Honorary Israeli Consul in Bulgaria marks 9 years since Burgas bus bombing
The Jewish community in Bulgaria and the State of Israel commemorated nine years on Sunday since the deadly suicide bombing on a bus carrying Israeli tourists on July 18, 2012, in Burgas, Bulgaria.

The suicide bomber claimed the lives of five Israelis, as well as of their Bulgarian bus driver, and injured over 35 people.

In September 2020, a Bulgarian court sentenced in absentia two Hezbollah operatives to life in prison for their part in the attack, but did not formally indict or convict Hezbollah itself.

To commemorate the anniversary of the attack, Orlin Mandov, Honorary Consul of Israel in Bulgaria, visited the monument that has since been constructed in memory of the victims. Also at the event was Anton Andonov, director of Border Police at Burgas Airport who helped rescue wounded victims from the burnt out bus on the day of the terror attack.

Mandov, a former fighter pilot in the Bulgarian Air Force, was among the initiators of the memorial monument.


On anniversary of 1994 AMIA bombing, Argentina’s VP decries trial against her
On the 27th anniversary of the AMIA Jewish center bombing in Buenos Aires that killed 85 and injured hundreds, Argentina’s Vice President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner called the imminent trial into her alleged efforts to cover up Iran’s role in the attack a “monumental scandal.”

“This is a judicial panel to persecute opponents of Mauricio Macri,” she said Friday, referencing Argentina’s previous president, in an angry video speech given during the same time as the annual commemoration ceremony for victims of the bombing.

She called for her trial, set to start later this year, to be dropped.

Kirchner, a progressive leftist who was the country’s president from 2007 to 2015, was indicted by a federal judge in 2018 for obstructing the investigation into the 1994 attack.

After conducting his own investigation into the case, Jewish prosecutor Alberto Nisman claimed in 2015 that Kirchner had a secret backchannel with Iranian officials who were involved in the bombing and worked to keep them free of suspicion.

Nisman was later found dead in his apartment, on the day he was to present his findings in court. His death was eventually ruled a homicide, after being initially deemed a suicide.


Human Rights Watch Director Tweet Blames Israeli Gov’t for Rise in UK Antisemitism
Human Rights Watch (HRW) Executive Director Kenneth Roth appeared to blame the Israeli government in part for the recent spike in antisemitism in Britain.

Roth tweeted on July 18, “Antisemitism is always wrong, and it long preceded the creation of Israel, but the surge in UK antisemitic incidents during the recent Gaza conflict gives the lie to those who pretend that the Israeli government’s conduct doesn’t affect antisemitism.” His tweet linked to a July 15 Haaretz article stating that antisemitic incidents have increased by 365% from May 8-June 7.

Various Jewish groups and pro-Israel Twitter users accused Roth of justifying antisemitism.

“There should be no justification for #antisemitism or those who perpetrate it,” Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt tweeted. “Blaming Israel for the recent rise in violent antisemitic incidents, instead of blaming the antisemitic actors themselves, is plainly false and offensive.”

American Jewish Committee CEO David Harris similarly tweeted, “[Roth] tries to have it both ways: ‘Antisemitism is always wrong…but.’ No, antisemitism is always wrong, period. Just as racism is always wrong, period. Coming from an alleged human rights defender, totally & utterly despicable.”


Danish cartoonist whose drawings of Mohammed outraged Muslim world dies at 86
The Danish cartoonist whose caricature of Mohammed caused outrage among the world’s Muslims has died at the age of 86.

The ensuing events eventually culminated in the 2015 Charlie Hebdo shooting.

Kurt Westergaard’s family confirmed to Berlingske newspaper that the cartoonist had died in his sleep after a lengthy illness.

It was reported by Danish media that he passed away on Wednesday, one day after his birthday.

Westergaard became globally known after his controversial caricatures of Mohammed, which first appeared in Danish publication Jyllands-Posten in 2005, when it published 12 editorial cartoons of the Muslim prophet under the heading “The Face of Mohammed.”

Weeks later, a demonstration by Muslims was held in Copenhagen, Denmark, with ambassadors from Muslim countries lodging complaints.

Following the protests, there was a surge of anger in the Muslim world, leading to further violent anti-Denmark protests in 2006.


Sir Keir Starmer to ban 1,000 far-left Labour Party members from “toxic” organisations
Sir Keir Starmer is reportedly set to ban 1,000 far-left Labour Party members active in four “toxic” fringe groups.

Labour’s National Executive Committee, the Party’s ruling body, will be asked to disaffiliate the four organisations, including Labour Against the Witchhunt, a group that was set up to protest the expulsion of Labour members for alleged antisemitism and that opposes “the false antisemitism smear.”

The other groups are Resist, Socialist Appeal and Labour In Exile Network, a group that welcomes suspended or expelled Party members. Membership within these groups will carry with it an automatic expulsion from the Party.

One Labour source said: “Under Corbyn those from the far-left fringes with poisonous beliefs and warped world-views were welcomed into the Party. Keir [Starmer] is right to stamp out antisemitism and toxic extremism and get the Party back into the decent mainstream of Labour values.”

Recently, the High Court rejected a case by eight Labour activists who argued that an investigation into antisemitism-related allegations brought against them by the Party was unfair.
Piers Protests Jeremy Corbyn's Expulsion from Labour Party
A modest group of protestors gathered outside Labour HQ this afternoon to protest Sir Keir’s decision to proscribe four “toxic” hard-left Labour campaign groups from the party at today’s NEC. Considering the meeting was held over Zoom, Guido doubts it had much of an impact…

Nonetheless, Guido spoke to some of these protesters to see what they had to say. There were a colourful range of characters, including Tony “notorious antisemite” Greenstein who insists that claims of anti-Semitism have been manufactured to sabotage the Labour Party, and Piers Corbyn who ardently assured Guido that his brother is not an anti-Semite. It’s a shame 85% of British Jews don’t agree…


Scottish Labour councillor Jim Sheridan suspended from Party for second time after inflammatory comments
Scottish Labour councillor Jim Sheridan has been suspended from the Party for a second time after his inflammatory comments led to an antisemitism investigation last month.

The investigation came after he appeared to double down on previous inflammatory comments, as well as claiming that former Party leader Jeremy Corbyn was suspended from the Party simply for “expressing free speech.”

Cllr Sheridan made the comments during a debate at Renfrewshire Council on the effect on free speech of the recently-passed Hate Crime and Public Order (Scotland) Bill.

Cllr Sheridan was quoted as saying: “I feel I must make a contribution to this debate about free speech. As someone who was personally attacked for contributing, or making, what I thought was perfectly reasonable comments about antisemitism, I was attacked for free speech.

“And I also include, Provost, the former leader of the Labour Party, who was thrown out of the Labour Party for expressing free speech.”

Cllr Sheridan appeared to be referring to a comment that he posted on his Facebook page in 2018, saying: “For almost all my adult life I have had the utmost respect and empathy for the Jewish community and their historic suffering. No longer due to what they and their blairite [sic] plotters are doing to my party and the long suffering people of Britain who need a radical Labour government.”

He subsequently deleted the post, but, following a complaint, he was suspended by the Labour Party pending investigation. Last year, his suspension was reportedly lifted without explanation or apology from the councillor, who now seems to be doubling down on his previous comments as well as excusing the antisemitic former leader of the Labour Party.

A Scottish Labour spokesperson said: “The Labour Party takes all complaints of antisemitism extremely seriously and they are fully investigated in line with our rules and procedures, and any appropriate disciplinary action is taken.”


PreOccupiedTerritory: Party Aims To Undermine Jewish State Via Behavior Showing Why Jewish State Necessary (satire)
Umm el-Fahm, July 20 – A group of political leaders in Israel’s Arab sector maintained their longstanding position this week that a country designated as the nation-state of only one ethnic group remains untenable and immoral, and that they intend to continue encouraging their followers to work against the phenomenon, in particular through actions that demonstrate the need for a sovereign homeland for said ethnic group by threatening it and committing violence against members thereof.

Elected officials from the Ra’am Party – a member of Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s governing coalition – and other mostly-Arab parties still in the opposition joined with community and religious leaders from around the country to keep urging their constituents to riot and endanger Israeli Jews as a way to showcase the sector’s widespread objection to the notion of a Jewish state as a discriminatory endeavor, thereby offering the most compelling proof that a self-governing Jewish country remains the only way to secure the Jewish people on their own terms and not leave them to the fickle goodwill of host cultures.

“A Jewish State is by definition discriminatory and therefore illegitimate,” declared MK Ayman Odeh. “Our people on both sides of the Green Line have spent decades, in fact more than a century, displaying our opposition to such a manifest injustice in every way we know how, which of course, culturally, involves no small amount of murder, destruction, and dispossession, or at least attempts at same. By unfortunate coincidence, those actions also militate toward the establishment of a state where Jews govern and protect themselves, a position that will simply have to cede to the greater moral need not to make Arabs feel like they are not superior.”
Syria says Israeli airstrikes target northern Aleppo region
Israeli aircraft launched a number of missiles at targets near the Syrian city of Aleppo late Monday, Syrian state media said.

The official SANA news agency said that Syrian air defenses had repelled the strikes near the town of al-Safirah, southeast of Aleppo. Syrian war analysts generally dismiss the military’s regular claims of interceptions as false, empty boasts.

There were no immediate reports of casualties and damage.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a war monitor that has activists on the ground in Syria, said the Israeli strikes targeted weapons depots that belong to Iranian-backed militia operating the area. The group said the strikes were followed by loud explosions. The weapons depots were located inside Syrian military posts, the group said.

Video posted to social media showed a series of explosions in the area, while a video posted by SANA appeared to show a missile moving through the sky as anti-aircraft fire was directed at it.

The Israel Defense Forces did not comment on the reported strikes, in accordance with its long-standing policy to neither confirm nor deny its activities in Syria.
Two Rockets Fired From Lebanon at Israel, No Damage: Israeli Army
Two rockets were launched at Israel from Lebanon overnight on Tuesday, setting off sirens but causing no damage or injuries, and the Israeli military said it had responded with artillery fire.

Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz suggested the incident could be linked to long-running governance problems rocking Lebanon.

One of the rockets was shot down by missile defenses and the other landed in an open area, the military said.

The Lebanese army said Israel had fired at the Wadi Hamoul area at dawn but that no injuries or damage had resulted.

It said three Grad rocket launchers had been found in the Al Qulaylah area, one of them with a rocket prepared for firing that was subsequently disabled by the army’s specialized units.

Israel fought a 2006 war against Hezbollah guerrillas, who have sway in southern Lebanon and advanced rockets. The border has been mostly quiet since then.

Small Palestinian factions in Lebanon have fired sporadically on Israel in the past.

The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) said it was in direct contact with the Lebanese army and Israel to “urge maximum restraint and avoid further escalation,” adding that it had launched an investigation into the incident.


NSO head claims company ended services in human rights-violating countries
Shalev Hulio, founder and CEO of the controversial NSO Group, responded Tuesday to an international investigation that found that the company’s cyber-surveillance products are being used by governments around the world to track political dissidents and journalists, some of whom were killed.

“The platform that we create is a platform that saves lives and prevents terrorist attacks, and that needs to be understood,” Hulio told 103FM radio on Tuesday morning.

The investigation focused on Pegasus, a spyware tool sold by NSO Group that it says is being used by dozens of governmental clients. The analysis carried out on a leaked list of 50,000 phone numbers found that the list included people targeted by the governments of Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Kazakhstan, Mexico, Morocco, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Hungary, India, and the United Arab Emirates.

Hulio said in response that the list of numbers was unrelated to his company. “NSO has no list of targets,” he told the station, and described the company’s policy, which was decided upon when it was established.

“We made some decisions that are like the NSO Group constitution, and they accompany us to this day. The first is that we only sell to governments, not to individuals or organizations,” he said. “The second decision was that we won’t sell to every government, since there are some governments that should not have such tools.”

Hulio claimed that over the past 11 years, the company sold its services to 45 countries, and rejected some 90 countries that offered to pay for the software it sells.
Tom Gross on claims Israeli spyware firm NSO enabled hacking of journalists’ phones

Israel authorizes deducting $180 million from Palestinian Authority over ‘pay for slay’
The Israeli government led by Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has deducted more than $180 million from the funds it collects for the Palestinian Authority over its refusal to cease payments to prisoners and families of terrorists as part of a long-running campaign called “pay for slay.”

According to the Defense Ministry’s National Bureau for Counter-Terror Financing, this was the amount of money the P.A. spent in 2020 on terror-related expenses. This decision authorizes the Finance Ministry to deduct one-twelfth of the funds each month for the next 12 months.

Israel’s Minister of Intelligence Elazar Stern, together with Likud Knesset member Avi Dichter and others, initiated and promoted a law in 2018 to offset that sum to discourage the P.A.

“It was clear to me, then as today, that these funds that are given to convicted terrorist operatives encourage further acts of terrorism,” he told JNS.

He said the previous government “tried to ignore and postpone the implementation of the law several times,” but ultimately, it was implemented “as a result of heavy pressure.”

Stern said the situation has changed with the new government and noted with satisfaction that within its first month in power, it has implemented the law “without public pressure and without a petition to the High Court.”

“There is a government here that has come to work,” he said. “We, the unity government, will deduct terrorist money to ensure the safety of the citizens of the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state.”


Emily Schrader: Recognizing the obvious on Iran
Masih Alinejad is an Iranian-born American journalist perhaps most known for her vociferous condemnation of the Iranian regime. For years, Alinejad has led a primarily digital campaign against compulsory hijab in Iran, highlighting Iranian women removing the hijab and dancing – two actions expressly forbidden by the oppressive theocracy in Iran. In response to her activism, the Iranian regime has persecuted her family members who remain in Iran, as they often do with dissidents.

But the bombshell story about Alinejad is the one that broke last week – her attempted kidnapping by the Iranian regime. If there’s one thing we need to take away from this, it’s that the US and others are vastly underestimating the sinister efforts of the Iranian regime. It’s time for a wakeup call.

Last week, Iran’s ongoing operation to kidnap Alinejad on US soil was exposed by the FBI. The operation was directed from the very highest levels of the government in Iran and involved four agents, all of whom are still at large in the US. The plan was to kidnap Alinejad, force her onto a Venezuelan-bound boat, and ultimately bring her back to Iran to face what the US government characterized as an “uncertain at best” fate.
Journalist targeted in alleged Iran kidnap plot: ‘I would love to visit Israel’
An Iranian-American journalist whom the Islamic Republic allegedly sought to kidnap from US soil last year is urging President Joe Biden’s administration to punish Tehran, warning that the foiled plot is the latest example of why the regime in Tehran should not be a partner to any nuclear agreement. She also says she would like to visit Israel.

“I’m calling on the Biden administration to show its solidarity and take a strong action that will protect my family,” Masih Alinejad said in an interview with The Times of Israel.

“I would love to visit Israel,” the Iranian journalist continued. “I’m sure that saying this will lead to more threats against me and my family, but someone should take a step, break this taboo and speak up against this hate propagated by the regime.”

The interview came two days after federal prosecutors revealed the plot against her, for which five Iranian operatives have been charged.

According to the indictment filed in a New York federal court, the Iranian intelligence officers in 2018 tried to force Alinejad’s Iran-based relatives to lure her to a third country, where she was to be arrested and taken to Iran to be imprisoned. When that failed, they hired US private investigators to surveil her during the past two years. The Iranian agents researched possible ways to move her out of the United States, including hiring a “military-style” speedboat to whisk her from Manhattan, according to the charge sheet.











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