Saturday, August 21, 2021

From Ian:

Seth Frantzman: How the US disaster in giving Afghanistan to the Taliban happened
What’s worse is that the US had already pulled contractors and air support and other key factors that had helped prop up the paper-thin Afghan army. It turned out that despite the trillion dollars spent since 2001 in Afghanistan, almost no infrastructure had been built. The Afghan Air Force was a few propeller planes and helicopters, not a real air force. The US had kept the Afghan army underarmed precisely because of the sense that this way it would be dependent, and if the US left, then US fighter jets would not end up in the hands of US adversaries. Almost nothing was left to show for 20 years of the US role when it was all over.

AMERICA SENT in troops to secure part of the airport to get Americans and Westerners out. It wasn’t exactly apartheid at the airport in the final hours on August 16, but Afghans were left stranded, and mostly white Westerners got on the planes. Where once the US had helped Kosovars and helped Kurds, in 2021 the days of Americans helping were done.

While some compare the US leaving Kabul to the US leaving Saigon, in 1975 the US ambassador in Saigon, Graham Martin, went to the front to see the debacle himself and struggled to stay to the end to help get Vietnamese out.

He and his wife personally helped get Vietnamese out, and he urged the navy to help Vietnamese who were fleeing.

That was a time when American officials cared about locals. This time the US chargé d’affaires didn’t sit around to wait; he was gone when the chaos unfolded at the airport.

No one will take responsibility. Afghan leaders had all left their people behind, off to comfortable villas in Central Asia, Europe or the Gulf. US troops were left at the airport to fire gunshots in the air as the poor people begged for flights.

Unlike Vietnam, there would be no Americans offshore helping the refugees, no American Afghan version of the Indochina Migration and Refugee Assistance Act. This century would have no Americans like ambassador Graham Martin, whose steadfastness helped 140,000 Vietnamese flee.•
Biden's catastrophe
This “ending endless wars” narrative , long espoused by too many politicians of both parties, ignores the prudent admonition of former Defense Secretary and CIA Director Leon Panetta. We should absolutely scrutinize military interventions and how those interventions are conducted, but “we must also apply the same scrutiny to withdrawals,” Panetta wrote in December. “In doing so, Americans will find that some withdrawals can be equally deleterious to our national security, especially when the withdrawals are conducted precipitously and without clear preconditions.”

One simply needs to look to the 2011 Obama administration withdrawal from Iraq for an example. President Barack Obama, motivated in part by the sincere and misinformed advocacy of then-Vice President Joe Biden, pursued withdrawal based on a timeline and not conditions in the country — against the advice of his military commanders.

Sound familiar?

And what was the result of that 2011 withdrawal from Iraq? That decision catalyzed the rise of the Islamic State and culminated in a costly U.S. military return in 2014.

A decade after the 2011 withdrawal from Iraq, Biden drew from the same playbook, and we are all witnessing the horrible results. In a bizarre twist of logic, Biden is arguing that the catastrophe his policy catalyzed in Afghanistan is evidence of the wisdom of that policy. The idea is that chaos was inevitable and that inevitability argued against keeping troops there.

This is absurd. When I taught at West Point, I might have flunked a cadet if he or she had attempted that logical maneuver in a term paper. The Afghan security forces, despite their many shortcomings, fought hard for nearly 20 years, with an estimated 66,000 paying the ultimate price to defend their country and fight our common enemy.

Some trend lines were troubling, but the rapid unraveling came after Biden’s April 14 announcement of the impending withdrawal. The psychological impact on Afghan security forces of the American abandonment (which started under Trump) and the denial of air support (by Biden) cannot be overestimated.


US general tells British special forces: Stop rescuing people in Kabul, you're making us look bad
I understand that the commanding general of the 82nd Airborne Division has told the commander of the British special forces at the Kabul airport to cease operations beyond the airport perimeter.

Maj. Gen. Christopher Donahue has told his British Army counterpart, a high-ranking field-grade officer of the British army's 22nd Special Air Service Regiment, that British operations were embarrassing the United States military in the absence of similar U.S. military operations, according to multiple military sources. I understand that the British officer firmly rejected the request.

Col. Joe Buccino, a spokesman for the XVIII Airborne Corps, denied that Donahue made such a request.

“The XVIII Airborne Corps denies the central thrust of this story," the spokesman said. "Specifically, Gen. Chris Donahue, whose sole focus is security at HKIA, never made such a request to any British Army officials and would have no motive for doing so.”

This show of rare tension between the U.S. and British command groups in Kabul reflects three factors.

First, it shows the obvious stress of attempting to extricate thousands of personnel under a situation of increasing terrorist threat. Elements of the Haqqani network, the Islamic State in Afghanistan, and possibly al Qaeda are now operating in proximity to Kabul airport with some degree of command separation from the Taliban.
Ricochet Podcast: Scary and Confusing
Hosted by James Lileks, Peter Robinson & Rob Long
With guests Eli Lake & Victor Davis Hanson
What can we say? Frustration has a way of concentrating the mind, and this week we’ve got one word: Afghanistan. Victor Davis Hanson joins us to talk about our absurd administration and its pathetic priorities. Then national security correspondent Eli Lake joins us to speak on the Taliban, Biden’s “return to normal” on the world stage and his moral illiteracy. The fellas also have a chance to muse on the tug-of-war of nation-building versus our security interests, along with the question of what America’s choice will be regarding its role as the leader of the free world. We’d be interested in what Ricochet members think. Let us know in the comments!


Taliban chiefs, including al-Qaeda-linked terrorist, in Kabul to talk new gov’t
Taliban co-founder Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar arrived in Kabul on Saturday for talks on establishing a new “inclusive” government in Afghanistan, a senior official said.

Other senior Taliban leaders seen in the capital in recent days include Khalil Haqqani — one of America’s most wanted terrorists with a $5 million bounty on his head for links to al-Qaeda.

Pro-Taliban social media feeds showed Haqqani meeting Gulbuddin Hekmatyar — a former bitter rival during the brutal civil war of the early 1990s, but still influential in Afghan politics.

A senior Taliban official told AFP that Baradar would meet “jihadi leaders and politicians for an inclusive government set-up.”

Baradar arrived in Afghanistan last Tuesday from Qatar, choosing to touch down in the country’s second-biggest city Kandahar — the Taliban’s spiritual birthplace.

Within hours of his return, the group claimed its rule would be “different” this time.

The Taliban have said they want this iteration of their government to be “inclusive,” but have given few details of who it would include.

Arrested in Pakistan in 2010, Baradar was in custody until pressure from the United States saw him freed in 2018 and relocated to Qatar.
Liberal Lawyer Freed Taliban Commando on Frontlines of Kabul Surge
Afghan national Gholan Ruhani maintained his innocence after coalition forces captured him alongside a drug-trafficking militia commander and tossed him in the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Ruhani, represented by white shoe lawyer Rebecca Dick, said he was "a simple shopkeeper who helped Americans."

Not quite. Days ago, Al Jazeera news captured Ruhani with fellow Taliban militants in the presidential palace in Kabul, as they announced the formation of an Islamic emirate. Ruhani, who cradled a machine gun, recited from the Quran and spoke of his time at Guantanamo.

Dick, then a top-flight attorney at Dechert LLP, represented Ruhani and advocated for his repatriation to Afghanistan. She said in a 2008 interview that her clients were not extremists.

"None expresses any interest in harming the U.S.," she said. "Most affirmatively express support for the Karzai government; the others simply do not want to think about or discuss politics."

Her statements were squarely at odds with Defense Departments assessments, which were vindicated by Ruhani's role in the collapse of the Ghani government. Government reports connected Ruhani to the Taliban's intelligence outfit, highlighted his familial ties to senior Taliban leaders, and correctly anticipated that he would join terrorist groups if released.

Now retired, Dick represented Ruhani and seven other Guantanamo detainees from Dechert's Washington offices. Dechert also represented the Iranian-American businessman and Quincy Institute fellow Amir Handjani and threatened to sue the Washington Free Beacon for defamation over its coverage of Handjani’s role as an adviser to the authoritarian sheikh who rules one of the seven United Arab Emirates with an iron fist.
Biden Admin Has No Plan to Keep Cash Out of Taliban’s Hands, GOP Lawmakers Say
As the Biden administration scrambles to evacuate American personnel from Afghanistan, it is overlooking the Taliban's plans to seize some $10 billion in assets held by Afghanistan's central bank, according to congressional foreign policy leaders.

Somewhere between $18 and $20 million in cash sits in the Afghan central bank's vaults and is likely to fall into the Taliban's hands unless the United States attempts to intercept the funds and fly them out of the country—a scenario that sources say is unlikely as the Biden administration struggles to pull Americans out of Taliban-controlled Kabul.

The Treasury Department would not answer questions about any plan it has to secure cash still located inside the country. A Biden administration official, speaking only on background about the matter, told the Washington Free Beacon that all Afghan assets held as investments in the United States—which amount to around $7 billion—have been frozen and "will not be made available to the Taliban." The Afghan central bank has around $10 billion in total assets, most of which are stored outside the country and out of the Taliban's reach in the short term. Taliban leaders are pressing bank officials to give them access to these funds, according to Afghan government officials.

Republican foreign policy leaders in Congress say the Biden administration is in no place to secure Afghanistan's fortune given its disorganized evacuation of Americans from the country, which is still taking place. They say the administration had no contingency plans in place and failed to anticipate the Taliban's quick return to power.

Rep. Mike Gallagher (R., Wis.), a member of the House Armed Services Committee, said it is Congress's responsibility to make sure the Taliban does not become wealthy as a result of its government takeover.

"While I am glad the administration has indicated it will not allow the Taliban to gain access to Afghan reserves held in the United States, it's up to Congress to make sure the Taliban does not walk away with a windfall," Gallagher told the Free Beacon. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) "must immediately reconvene Congress for an emergency session so we can do so."
Joe Biden's media allies have 'turned on him'
Documentary filmmaker Ami Horowitz says Joe Biden's allies in the media have for the most part "turned on him" and his administration.

"We saw that in the George Stephanopoulos interview, we saw it in the New York Times, The Washington Post," he told Sky News Australia.

According to Mr Horowitz, Biden's allies in the media said they "can't cover" for the US President over the Afghanistan withdrawal.

"I was pleasantly surprised they did, and this has translated quite poorly for the president in the polls.

"His poll numbers have been dropping precipitously over the last six months.

"This was one of the worst first six months of any US president – and that has been reflected in the polls – we now have seen a seven point drop since he pulled out.

"Keep in mind most Americans don't really care that much about foreign policy – but this was done so badly, this was executed so poorly that the Americans really turned on him.

"He's now been turned on by the US population."


823 Afghan refugees crammed into US plane — 183 more than previously thought
The United States military transport aircraft shown in a now-iconic photograph jam-packed with Afghans fleeing the country’s Taliban takeover held a record 823 passengers, the Pentagon has said.

The US military’s Air Mobility Command said that the original estimate of 640 Afghans, seated on the hard floor of the giant C-17 Globemaster III — already more than double the normal capacity — omitted children passengers.

The count was made based on the number of seats filled on the buses delivering the passengers to the C-17 and left out all the children seated on laps, it said on Twitter.

Ultimately, the aircraft, which was headed to Qatar, “safely transported 823 Afghan citizens from Hamid Karzai International Airport Aug. 15, 2021. This is a record for this aircraft,” it said.

The command did not say how many crew were on the flight.

According to the publication Defense One, the pressure of Afghans trying to leave on Sunday forced the crew to make the call on departing, even though the passengers were not manifested.

“We have women and children and people’s lives at stake, it’s not about capacity or rules and regulations — it’s about the training and the directives that we were able to handle to make sure we could safely and effectively get that many people out,” Lieutenant Colonel Eric Kut, who was mission commander for the flight, told the journal.


Ruthie Blum: Hassan Nasrallah’s schadenfreude - opinion
Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah may be evil, but he’s not stupid. This was evident in his televised speech on Tuesday night, delivered in the wake of US President Joe Biden’s hasty withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan.

His oratory appropriately coincided with the ninth day of the “Mourning of Muharram,” observed by Muslims to mark the anniversary of the Battle of Karbala, when the Prophet Muhammad’s grandson, Hussein, was killed by the forces of Ubayd Allah ibn Ziyad.

What a perfect opportunity to assert Islamic victory over the West.

Gloating over the Taliban takeover, the Lebanon-based, Iran-backed terror-master compared the scene on Monday, when US personnel absconded from Kabul, to the fall of Saigon in 1975.

“The United States is still ignorant,” he said, “and is repeating the same mistakes.”

It’s not that his heart was bleeding for the terrified Afghans desperate to escape their fate and attempting to board the US jets taking off from Hamid Karzai International Airport. Nor was his analogy meant to express sympathy for the South Vietnamese who faced the same predicament 46 years ago.

No, he couldn’t care less about the torture and killing of innocent people, certainly those who aren’t Shi’ites – especially not ones who spent two decades collaborating with Uncle Sam.

But he definitely loves witnessing Washington’s weakness on display for all the world to see and ridicule. It’s a sight that gives credence to all his hopes, dreams and predictions about the decay and eventual death of “America, the Great.”

The “Great Satan,” that is.
Lebanon complains to UN over alleged Israeli strikes from its airspace
Lebanon complained to the United Nations after Israeli jets allegedly violated its airspace to carry out an airstrike on targets in Syria late Thursday, Beirut’s defense minister said.

Zeina Akar said Israeli planes “blatantly violated Lebanon’s airspace at low altitude, causing a state of panic among citizens,” Reuters reported early Friday.

The complaint came hours after Damascus residents reported hearing loud explosions from alleged airstrikes targeting sites in the Syrian capital and the Homs area north of the capital.

Syrian state television claimed its air defense systems managed to knock down most of what it said were Israeli missiles that had been fired from near Beirut.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), a Britain-based war monitor, said that “Israeli missiles targeted arms depots and military positions of” Lebanese Shiite movement Hezbollah, between Damascus and Homs.

Lebanese media also reported two missiles fell in the Qalamoun region on the rugged border between Lebanon and Syria, though it was unclear if the projectiles were from the alleged airstrikes or errant interceptors.
As deadline nears, Israel urges UNSC to expand UNIFIL’s mandate
Ahead of the UNIFIL mandate extension at the end of the month, Israel is urging the UN Security Council to reform the peacekeeping force, giving it greater freedom of movement and access to areas that are suspected of harboring terrorist activity.

Ambassador Gilad Erdan also urged the council to set up a mechanism to ensure that any Hezbollah violation of the 1701 resolution would be adequately documented and included in future review reports.

“The Security Council must realize that UNIFIL’s failure to enforce resolution 1701, and the attacks of the Iranian-backed Hezbollah, could force Israel to respond and act against the terror infrastructure in Lebanon,” Erdan warned, saying that such a move could lead to a regional escalation.

“We urge the Security Council to enforce the 1701 resolution strictly and to significantly strengthen UNIFIL,” Erdan added. “We also demand that the Lebanese government take responsibility for what is being done on its territory.”

The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) was established in 1978 and beefed up in 2006 after the Second Lebanon War ended with the passing of Security Council Resolution 1701. UNIFIL’s mandate is renewed annually in August.
ICC adds IDF's multiple razing of Khirbet Humsa to war crimes probe
The International Criminal Court has added the multiple IDF demolitions of the Palestinian herding village of Khirbat Humsa in the Jordan Valley to its file of alleged Israeli war crimes.

It did so after the Israeli left-wing NGO Combatants for Peace sent the court information on the demolitions, which had taken place in the small hamlet of tents and shacks.

The Office of the ICC Chief Prosecutor Karim Khan responded to Combatants for Peace last Wednesday.

“The information will be added to our collection of information and transmitted to relevant staff members for further review,” Khan’s office said.

The former ICC chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda had opened a war crimes probe into Israeli actions in Gaza, the West Bank and east Jerusalem from June 13, 2014 and onwards. Her replacement, Khan, is now tasked with the probe that includes IDF demolitions of Palestinian homes, including in Khirbat Humsa.

Combatants for Peace said that the “way to halt the investigation at The Hague [ICC] has never been easier – halt the Khirbat Humsa demolitions.”

The IDF has argued that the tents and shacks of Khirbat Humsa are illegal and exist in an IDF firing zone. It has taken action multiple times in the past years to remove the structures over the objections of the international community, including the European Union, whose local diplomats have visited the site.


Soldier shot, critically hurt in Gaza border clash; 41 Palestinians injured
Major clashes broke out along the Gaza border throughout Saturday, with one Palestinian assailant opening fire at an Israeli border guard from point-blank range, critically wounding him, Border Police said.

At least 41 rioters were injured by Israeli troops during the hostilities, two of them critically, according to the Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry.

One of the critically hurt Gazans was a 13-year-old boy, Palestinian health officials said.

In one incident during the day, as seen in video footage widely shared on social media, a man with a pistol ran up to a small hole in the concrete wall along the Gaza border that a sniper in the Border Police was using as a shooting position and fired a number of shots through it, hitting the border guard.

The Border Police officer sustained a head wound and was taken in critical condition to Beersheba’s Soroka Medical Center, where he was immediately taken into surgery, a hospital spokesperson said.

Prior to the shooting, a group of young Palestinian men could be seen running up to and attempting to destroy his gun, hitting it with a pipe, throwing a rock at it and attempting to wrest it away.

“The soldier fought back and prevented the gun in his hands from being taken away,” the Israel Defense Forces said.
IDF carries out airstrikes in Gaza Strip
The IDF carried out airstrikes within the Gaza Strip on Saturday night after a Border Police officer was critically injured during the riots along the border fence.

Dozens of Palestinians were injured in the riots, as well.

Fighter planes targeted four different sites throughout Gaza which were manufacturing and storing weapons, the IDF announced shortly after the attacks.

Machine gun fire on Sderot houses was reported after midnight, causing damage. A 16-year-old Israeli civilian was lightly wounded while running to a bomb shelter, Kan reported.

Two companies from the IDF's officer training base and three teams from the Maglan commando unit have been sent to the Gaza Division, according to Army Radio.

The IDF also reinforced its Iron Dome missile-defense unit, according to Israeli media.

"The attacks were carried out due to the riots on the border fence, as well as the shooting of the Border Policeman," the IDF said. "Hamas continues to make Gaza a terror state while exploiting the civilian population. The IDF will continue to respond with force to any terror attempts made by Hamas, and we view Hamas as being responsible for anything that happens in the Gaza Strip," it said.


‘We Are Family’: Arab Mayor of Nazareth Welcomes Families Who Fled Jersualem Hills Blaze
With Jerusalem-area residents still picking up the pieces in the wake of one of the biggest wildfires in Israel’s history, the mayor of the predominantly Arab city of Nazareth detailed his community’s efforts to extend a helping hand to those affected.

The blaze, which broke out Sunday, tore through some 6,200 acres of forest over three days, forcing over 2,000 people to evacuate from their homes. Speaking to Israel’s 103FM, Nazareth Mayor Ali Salam explained why local establishments have welcomed at least 60 families fleeing the fire.

“I believe in coexistence and I want us to live together,” he told the station, according to Israeli news outlet Walla. “I believe that I live in a country and that I must to give all the appropriate services to the citizens of the whole country. I do it from the heart, and most importantly, so they can rest and that they can have peace and feel at home.”

“Life comes first, before one talks about money,” Salam said. “The most precious thing in the world is a human life. The businessmen I turn to are both supportive and responsive, and many of them have called to say they are willing to accept people in their homes if the hotels are filled.”

Some 200 units of Israel’s Fire and Rescue Service took part in the 52-hour battle, which focused on seven hot-spots among the forest-covered hills outside Jerusalem. They were joined by battalions of Palestinian firefighters who helped gain full control of the massive fire on Tuesday — forestalling an Israeli request for broader international aid, and drawing gratitude from Israeli officials.

Michal Ben Yehuda, who fled her home in the Haredi town of Kiryat Ye’arim and is staying in Nazareth, effusively thanked Salam on the air.


Hamas: Cash aid deal good, but insufficient
The Qatari-United Nations agreement on the delivery of Qatari cash aid funds to the Gaza Strip, which was announced last week, is a positive though insufficient development, a source close to Hamas said on Saturday.

“Hamas is expecting more measures, such as the reopening of all the border crossings and allowing all imports and exports from and into the Gaza Strip,” the source said.

According to the source, the Egyptians are continuing their mediation efforts to reach a long-term truce between Israel and the Gaza-based factions and lift the “siege” imposed on the Hamas-ruled coastal enclave.

The source said that Hamas was not worried at this stage about the payments of salaries to its employees in the Gaza Strip. The Qatar-UN deal allows for the transfer of funds to more than 100,000 families, each of which will receive $100 per month.

The deal does not address the issue of the tens of thousands of civil servants employed by the Hamas administration, however.


Iran Mullahs Closer Than Ever to Obtaining Nuclear Weapons
The Biden administration... has made no efforts to pressure the Iranian regime into answering the International Atomic Energy Agency's questions about three undeclared clandestine nuclear sites found in Iran.

"For objectivity's sake, I should say that the Iranian government has reiterated its will to engage and to cooperate and to provide answers, but they haven't done that so far. So I hope this may change, but as we speak, we haven't had any concrete progress." — General Rafael Mariano Grossi, Director General, International Atomic Energy Agency, Seattle Times, June 7, 2021.

It seems -- worryingly, especially after failures of both intelligence and planning in the Afghanistan debacle -- that the Biden administration is again standing idly by while the mullahs of Iran comfortably keep enriching uranium to acquire a nuclear weapons arsenal.

We have seen what they do to their own people and the region when they do not have one. Just look at what has been called "the world's greatest sponsor of state terrorism" has done when they have no nuclear weapons -- both domestically to their own people, and internationally to Lebanon, Yemen, Libya, Iraq, Syria, Saudi Arabia, the Palestinian territories and even Venezuela and larger South America... What then can the Free World expect that Iran will do after they have nuclear weapons?
Iran says it is expanding defense beyond borders, will continue missile program
The Iranian Defense Ministry said on Saturday that it was expanding its defense efforts beyond the borders of the country, in an apparent message of deterrence to Israel and the West, as hopes for a return to the 2015 nuclear deal continue to fade.

“Our country has an important role to play in strengthening the resistance front and expanding the radius of defense of national security beyond the borders of the country,” the ministry said in a message for Defense Industries Day, the Moj News Agency reported.

The ministry stated that Iran’s military plan includes “strengthening the defensive force and constantly updating the ability to deal with the threats of our enemies.”

“We will not hesitate to strengthen our military capabilities, including the missile program designed solely for defense purposes,” it added.

The statement came as the foreign ministries of Germany, France, and Britain expressed “grave concern” over Iran’s growing violations of the moribund 2015 nuclear accord.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna confirmed last week that Iran has produced uranium metal enriched up to 20 percent for the first time, and has significantly increased its production capacity of uranium enriched up to 60%.
UK Art Gallery Reinstates Controversial Israel Text After Protests, Adds Rebuttal From Jewish Community
A British art gallery in Manchester is presenting at the entrance of a controversial exhibition a statement from the local Jewish community in support of Israel, after deciding earlier this week to again display another note that accuses Israel of apartheid, ethnic cleansing and occupation.

The Whitworth Art Gallery, which is run by Manchester University, re-opened the “Cloud Studies” show on Friday. When visitors enter the exhibit, they are now shown a message by the Jewish Representative Council of Greater Manchester and Region (JRC) warning visitors that the exhibit “contains false statements” and asking the public “not to assume that any statement in that exhibition is true.”

“Israel is the ONLY democracy in the Middle East,” the JRC wrote, rejecting accusations of apartheid and ethnic cleansing. “To claim that Israel is a colonial enterprise is antisemitic. Jews have right to self-determination in Israel, which is the Jewish people’s ancestral homeland.”

Jonathan Turner, chief executive of the advocacy group UK Lawyers for Israel, commented, “While we welcome this mitigation of some of the damage done by the misleading contents of the exhibition and its introductory statement, we remain concerned that the decision to host this exhibition was taken without due consideration of community relations.”

The Whitworth Art Gallery sparked outrage among Israel supporters when it opened “Cloud Studies” on July 2. Created by the research group Forensic Architecture (FA), the exhibit featured at the entrance a statement titled “Forensic Architecture stands with Palestine.”
Ontario Teachers Union Earns Praise for Task Force to ‘Combat’ Antisemitism
A leading Canadian Jewish group commended an Ontario teachers union for passing a resolution to address antisemitism in public schools.

During its annual meeting on August 17-19, the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO) voted to “establish a task force to combat antisemitism in Ontario,” adding that it has “reached an all-time high since May 2021.”

The ETFO represents over 83,000 Ontario public school officials.

“This resolution is an extremely positive development,” said B’nai Brith CEO Michael Mostyn. “Tackling antisemitism in Canada is a whole-of-society endeavor, and elementary teachers have a critical role to play. B’nai Brith strongly encourages other labor unions in Ontario and across Canada to follow suit.”

In recent days, Canadian Jewish organizations have sounded outrage over a series of acts of vandalism against Jewish targets, including a Toronto synagogue, a Toronto Jewish school, and election posters for Jewish political candidates in Montreal.

B’nai Brith Canada said Friday that representatives had recently met with Ontario Education Minister Stephen Lecce to discuss what it called “the urgent need to ensure that our classrooms are free from hate.”
Tennessee School Teachers Under Investigation for Antisemitic Facebook Post Comparing Vaccine Refusers to Jews Persecuted by Nazis
An assistant principal and a history teacher at a high school in Germantown, Tennessee are under investigation following protests from students over an antisemitic Facebook post promoted by both of them that compared Americans who refuse the COVID-19 vaccine with Jews persecuted by Nazi Germany.

The now-deleted post was made by Houston High School assistant principal Janna Matykiewicz, with a supportive comment added by Tony Benzing, who teaches social studies at the same institution. A screenshot of the post was featured on a petition launched by Julien LeVine-Miller, a Jewish student at the school, demanding that Matykiewicz be fired for her “completely ignorant … completely antisemitic” post. The petition has so far garnered more than 2,000 signatures.

In her post, Matykiewicz wrote, “What’s the difference between vaccination papers and a yellow star? 82 years.”

In the US, France, Germany and other countries, the burgeoning vaccine refusal movement — frequently employing antisemitic conspiracy theories and scientific falsehoods — has appropriated the “Judenstern,” the yellow Star of David which the Nazis forced Jews to display on their outer clothing, to assert that people who freely refuse the vaccine face the same plight as Jews did during the Holocaust. The meme has been bolstered in recent weeks with the introduction of “vaccine pass” schemes by local and national governments around the world that permit access to public places only to those who are vaccinated.

Responding to Matykiewicz, Benzing wrote: “82 years…Apparently, a generation doesn’t seem to know their History…the yellow star just targeted Jews…the vaccine papers don’t discriminate.”


New York Times Got ‘Permission’ From Hamas for Gaza Video Coverage
The violent conflict in Israel and Gaza may have reached an uneasy and imperfect ceasefire, but the New York Times just can’t let go.

The Times published an August 10 article hyping its video coverage of the May hostilities. The article repeated some of the errors that had characterized the initial and subsequent Times coverage. “In May, hostilities erupted in Gaza between Israel and Hamas, the Palestinian militant group that governs the coastal territory,” the article says. Note the “hostilities erupted”—as if that happened all by itself, rather than “the Hamas terrorist group rained down rockets on Israeli civilian targets” or some other more plainspoken or accurate description.

Why wouldn’t the Times say it more straightforwardly? Here the Times article is admirably more transparent than some of the earlier coverage. The article reports: “After a cease-fire was declared, Yousur Al-Hlou, a video journalist for The New York Times, and Neil Collier, a former Times staff member who now works as a freelancer, traveled to Gaza, a process that took several days and involved going through numerous security screenings, quarantining in Jerusalem and securing permission from Hamas.”

“Securing permission from Hamas.” Now they tell us. What precisely that entailed is a mystery, though we can guess, via knowledge of brutal Hamas treatment of other independent or skeptical voices, what might happen to the journalists if they did something to cause the permission to be precipitously withdrawn.

The Times reports, “The project was a rare opportunity to examine the toll that perpetual warfare and rebuilding has on residents there, Mr. Collier said.” Not so rare, actually, as the Times covers it obsessively. And is the toll really that of “perpetual warfare”? Or is the toll more accurately the consequence of choosing (at least initially) to be ruled by Hamas terrorists?
CNN Mangles Jerusalem’s History
Beginning on July 18, CNN has been airing each Sunday a new, six-part series entitled “Jerusalem: City of Faith and Fury.” As of this writing, Parts 1-5 have been broadcast and have been seriously marred by factual inaccuracies and one-sided narratives omitting vital information. Many of the “experts” featured in the series have clear histories of anti-Israel activism and partisanship.

A preliminary sample of how disconnected the CNN series is from reality and objectivity follows.

Arab Leadership, Hajj Amin al-Husseini, and the Violence of the 1920s-30s
Anyone who only watched the “Jerusalem” series, and knew nothing about history, would come away with the notion that little of significance to Jerusalem occurred in the 1920s and 30s. The narrative created for the period is simply that the Palestinians were leaderless as the British repressed Palestinian Arab nationalism. Viewers would likewise conclude the only relevance of Jerusalem to Jews at the time was that some were fleeing from Nazi Germany, as opposed to the fact that Jews actually constituted a majority in the city.

They would have no idea who the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem was, his role as a leader of Palestinian Arab nationalism, and his incitement of repeated rounds of deadly, anti-Jewish violence which defined the 1920s and 30s in Jerusalem and Mandate Palestine as a whole.

These problematic omissions are best shown in a few quotes from Part 5 of the series:
- “But the British were more heavy-handed against [the] Palestinian population, and definitely against Palestinian leaders, who occasionally, they would arrest and exile. All in order to disrupt any possible creation of political leadership among the Palestinians [emphasis added].” (Suleiman Mourad)
- “By the early 1940s, Britain has either arrested or driven the Palestinian Arab leadership into exile.” (Narrator)
- “So the Palestinians had no formal leadership on the ground…” (Amaney Jamal)

These repeated assertions omit the leadership role the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Hajj Amin al-Husseini, would play in fomenting bloodshed in the years ahead.
Jewish man hit, knocked unconscious in apparent antisemitic attack in London
A Jewish man and child were punched in the face by a man who appeared to be wearing Islamic clothing in separate attacks in London on Wednesday.

In one incident, footage showed a 64-year-old victim being knocked to the ground while he was walking down a street in the Stamford Hill neighborhood.

Neighborhood watch group Shomrim dubbed the incident a “vicious racist attack.”

“The unconscious victim was rushed to hospital with broken foot/ankle and nasty head injuries,” the group added.

The unidentified attacker seen in the footage was also linked to a separate attack earlier that same day.

The man, dressed in a white cloak with a green jacket and a white headdress, could be seen in footage punching a Jewish child, Shomrim stated.


Symbolic grave for Jews in Poland defaced with slogans praising Hitler
Praises for Adolf Hitler were etched on a grave-shaped monument in Poland for Holocaust victims whose bodies were burnt.

Meanwhile, in Spain, police arrested a man whom they say was filmed spraying swastika graffiti at the entrance to a synagogue in Madrid, the news Madrid 24 Horas reported last week.

In Poland, the incident in Rudzica, near Krakow, happened on a large tombstone-shaped monument for about 1,500 people murdered there in 1941 by German troops, the news site Jewish.pl reported Wednesday. In 1944, the Germans dug up and burnt the bodies in an attempt to cover up the crime, the report said.

Poland’s communist rulers erected the monument, and signage was added following the downfall of communism acknowledging the Jewish identity of the victims. The perpetrators broke some of the signage. Police have no suspects.

The incident comes amid a diplomatic crisis in relations between Poland and Israel following last week’s passage of a law in Poland that limits the ability of Jews and others to claim property stolen from them during World War II and thereafter.
Meyers Leonard Says He Immersed Himself In Jewish Culture For 5 Months After Slur
NBA center Meyers Leonard says he's spent the past 5 months out of the spotlight and working firsthand with the Jewish community ... dedicating his time to being a true ally after hurling an anti-Semitic slur in March.

The 29-year-old has not spoken publicly since apologizing for his hurtful language on a Twitch live stream ... but in his time away, he says he's made every effort to learn from his mistake and understand its significance.

"This was not something prescribed or forced upon me," Leonard said on Instagram. "It’s something that I felt and knew in my heart was right to do, which is why I chose to do it privately."

Leonard says he's discussed the beliefs and history of the community with Jewish leaders and friends ... and was troubled to hear how anti-Semitic actions and views have caused so much harm over time and in the present.

"I'm committed to being an ally," he said.

"A true mistake and extreme ignorance is how this all began for me, but growing from this is a part of the journey."

"Again, I'd like to say how truly sorry I am to those who were hurt by my word. I take full ownership of my ignorance and will continue to do better through my actions. I'd also like to say how grateful I am for all of the love, compassion, and forgiveness that the Jewish community has graciously shown me."

As we previously reported, Leonard spoke out about hateful speech at an Anti-Defamation League conference earlier this month ... something he's grateful to have been a part of.
TV: High dose of Israeli-made vaccine appears to give long-lasting protection
The latest results from the trials of Israel’s homegrown COVID-19 vaccine indicate the shot may provide longer-term protection than the inoculation developed by Pfizer-BioNTech, which is the shot given to most Israelis.

Channel 12 news reported on Saturday that 230 volunteers who received the highest dosage of the vaccine, developed by the Israel Institute for Biological Research in Ness Ziona, were notified that they did not need a third dose of the vaccine as their protection remained high, six months after getting a second dose.

The report did not detail how protection was measured, though presumably this was based on antibody counts.

Meanwhile, participants who received low or medium doses have been told to get vaccinated with Pfizer or Moderna shots, as those dosages do not appear to offer significant protection.

Israel launched its “booster” vaccination campaign three weeks ago, urging Israelis over 60 (since lowered to over 40) to get their third dose of Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, which officials hope will help protect the population from the new highly contagious variant, and as the level of antibodies in those vaccinated have declined in the months after receiving the initial two doses.

The Israeli-made Brilife vaccine is still deep in the trial phase. In December, the Israel Institute for Biological Research (IIBR) successfully completed the first stage of testing and started the second phase, which has been ongoing.
Haifa Nursing School to Welcome First Emirati Woman to Study at Israeli University
The Israeli embassy in Dubai on Friday introduced the first Emirati woman to attend a university in Israel, days after the United Arab Emirates and the Jewish state marked the anniversary of their 2020 normalization deal.

“Sumaiiah Almehiri, the first female Emirati student to attend an Israeli university. Hear out her story!,” tweeted the General Consulate, linking to video of her speaking in Arabic.

“Blessed Friday and Shabbat Shalom,” she said. “I want to tell you that I am attending the University of Haifa, I am coming to Israel, [and] I want to meet you.”

An electrical engineer hailing from the UAE and Boulder, Colorado, Almehiri said she is also the founder of the first Arabic-Hebrew language exchange program in the Gulf.

“And, God willing, I will be the first [female] Emirati student that will study in Israel,” where she will specialize in nursing at the University of Haifa in the hopes of becoming a midwife.

The “best thing” she has learned about Israeli society, Almehiri said, is that it is a “multi-religious society.”

“Multicultural, multiracial, there are Muslims, there are Jews, there are Christians, there are Druze,” she continued. “I want to be among the beautiful society, the tolerant, the diverse; God willing, soon.”
From Kindertransport to the White House, a British reporter’s remarkable journey
For nearly four decades, Hella Pick, the doyenne of British diplomatic correspondents, had a front-row seat at the events that shaped the postwar age: the end of Empire in Africa, the tumultuous upheavals which shook America in the 1960s, and the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe in the late 1980s.

But in her newly published memoirs, “Invisible Walls: A Journalist in Search of Her Life,” the pioneering female reporter reveals her constant and continuing struggle with feelings of insecurity about her identity. Pick traces that sense of herself as an outsider back to March 1939 when, uprooted from her home in Vienna, “child Number 4672” arrived at London’s Liverpool Street Station on the Kindertransport. Alone and aged just 11, the woman who would later write hundreds of thousands of words explaining the world to the British public, could speak only one in English: “Goodbye.”

At 92, Pick has, however, also come to realize that her attempts to escape her “invisible walls” — the “unresolved questions of exile and identity… vulnerability and self-doubt” — have also played an important part in her professional success.

“My insecurities increased my determination to focus on the things that I knew I could do reasonably well and always trying to prove myself,” she tells The Times of Israel with characteristic understatement.

Pick’s upbringing in Vienna had been a comfortable one. While her parents divorced when she was 3 years old, her mother mixed with Jewish families who considered themselves full-fledged members of the Austrian middle class. Even as the threat of Nazism grew, her secular grandparents, like many other Viennese Jews, held on to the hope that “somehow their quiet lives would remain undisturbed.”











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