Saturday, August 28, 2021

From Ian:

Islamism’s Brutal Face Is Back on Display
Any notion that the worst days of Islamist terrorism are long behind us was brutally shattered at Kabul Airport on Thursday, as twin bombs ripped indiscriminately through Afghan civilians and US and other foreign servicemen trying to complete the desperate evacuation of thousands of people for whom Taliban rule represents the most terrible fate.

Gen. H.R. McMaster, a former US national security advisor who served as deputy commander of the international force in Afghanistan, put it succinctly in the hours that followed the bloodshed in Kabul. “Maybe this moment is the time that we can stop our self-delusion that these groups are separate from one and other and recognize that they are utterly intertwined and interconnected, and what we are seeing is the establishment of a terrorist, jihadist state in Afghanistan,” McMaster, a visceral critic of the US withdrawal strategy pursued by both the Trump and Biden administrations, observed in a BBC interview. “And all of us will be at much greater risk as a result.”

His underlying argument is that talking up divisions between the Taliban and fellow Islamist fanatics — such as ISIS-K, the Afghan branch of the Da’esh terrorist organization in Iraq and Syria that carried out the Kabul Airport bombing — elides the point that these groups are united in their fundamental worldview. On the ideological front, the late Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden’s promise of a war against “crusaders and Jews” still holds firm, which means terrorism against Western interests and Western targets, most of whom will be defenseless civilians. It also means, for those unfortunate enough to live under the direct rule of the Islamists, that ordinary Muslims will continue to be their principal and most numerous victims.

The “intertwined” connections described by McMaster inside Afghanistan can be seen in the region more broadly. At the same time that the Taliban have conquered Afghanistan, Iran has appointed a new cabinet composed of men with a direct, personal role in terrorism, torture and other systemic violations of human rights, all of whom have extensive connections with Iran’s regional proxies, like Hezbollah in Lebanon.

Biden Admin Gives Iran's Mullahs Another Victory: Taliban Takeover
In the past, the Iranian regime used to hide its ties with Taliban; not anymore.... "The Taliban today," Kayhan wrote recently, "is different from the Taliban that used to behead people." So far, there seems insufficient evidence if that is true. At the moment, it does not look that way.

"Thinking that the Taliban will come under Tehran's command is tantamount to growing a snake up your sleeve." — Ali Khorram, former Iranian diplomat,

The Iranian regime seems happy to build alliances with any government or terror group that shares Tehran's hatred towards Saudi Arabia, the Gulf countries, Israel or the US.

One of the critical opportunities that the Iranian regime sees in Taliban's takeover is that the group can once again become a safe haven for terrorist groups such as Al Qaeda, or Islamic State -- called virtually identical "Pepsis" to the Taliban's "Coke" -- that attack the United States.

In 2017, a trove of 470,000 documents released by the CIA also revealed close ties between Osama Bin Laden, Al-Qaeda and the Iranian regime. A federal court ruling, found that "Iran furnished material and direct support for the 9/11 terrorists." At least eight of the hijackers passed through Iran before heading to the US. A federal US District court ordered Iran, for its role in 9/11, to pay some of its victims more than $10 billion, although there may be no way to force Iran to comply. US Federal courts have also ruled that Iran still owes Americans $53 billion for Iran having bombed the US Marine Corps barracks in Beirut, Lebanon, in 1983, and other assaults.

What we are seeing is that the Biden administration just handed the mullahs of Iran – as well as the Chinese, the Russians, the North Koreans and the Turks -- yet another victory as they all cheer the US failure in Afghanistan and celebrate the takeover of Central Asia by terrorists.

IDF strikes Gaza after violent border riots, airborne arson attack
The Israel Defense Forces launched airstrikes in the Gaza Strip late Saturday night in retaliation for airborne arson attacks from the coastal enclave and renewed riots along the border.

The raids on Hamas targets south of Gaza City came hours after two fires were sparked in southern Israel by balloon-borne incendiary devices launched from the Gaza Strip. Hours later, Palestinians resumed clashes with Israeli forces along the Gaza border, as Hamas threatened to step up the cross-border arson attacks from Sunday.

The Hamas-run Health Ministry in Gaza on Saturday night said 11 Palestinians were wounded in the border clashes with Israeli troops. According to the ministry, three of those wounded were hit by live fire and are in moderate condition. The other eight are said to have been lightly hurt from rubber bullets or shock grenades. It was not immediately clear if the Israeli airstrikes on Saturday night caused injury or damage.

The “night confusion units” behind the border riots do not officially tie themselves to Hamas, though their activities could not take place without the approval of the terror group that rules the Strip.

In the past, Gazans involved in such activities have burned tires, hurled explosive devices, and played fake rocket alert noises in an attempt to confuse Israeli residents living near the border and harass soldiers guarding the border.

As Kabul blast death toll rises to over 170, US warns further attacks ‘likely’
The United States pressed on into the final days of the chaotic airlift from Afghanistan amid tighter security and warnings of more possible attacks Friday, a day after a devastating suicide bombing at the Kabul airport killed well over 100 Afghans and 13 US service members.

The high-risk Kabul airlift operation to evacuate Americans and Afghan allies still faces “specific, credible threats,” the Pentagon said.

The blast claimed by the Islamic State jihadist group targeted US forces, but hit hardest the mass of people who had converged on the airport in a desperate bid to escape the Taliban’s feared hardline rule.

“We still believe there are credible threats… specific, credible threats,” Pentagon spokesman John Kirby told reporters. “We certainly are prepared and would expect future attempts, absolutely.”

The Pentagon also clarified that there was one explosion on Thursday, and not two as previously believed.

At the White House, President Joe Biden’s press secretary Jen Psaki said the country’s national security experts have said another attack is “likely” and the next few days will be “the most dangerous period to date.

Two officials said the number of Afghans killed rose to 169, one of the country’s highest death tolls in a terror attack. The US said it was the most lethal day for American forces in Afghanistan since 2011.

US strikes Islamic State in Afghanistan after deadly Kabul attack
The United States launched a drone strike against an Islamic State attack "planner" in eastern Afghanistan, the military said on Friday, a day after a suicide bombing at Kabul airport killed 13 US troops and scores of Afghan civilians.

President Joe Biden vowed on Thursday that the United States would hunt down those responsible for the attack, saying he had ordered the Pentagon to come up with plans to strike at the perpetrators.

US Central Command said the strike took place in Nangarhar province, east of Kabul and bordering Pakistan. It did not say whether the target was connected with the airport attack.

"Initial indications are that we killed the target. We know of no civilian casualties," a US military statement said.

Islamic State Khorasan (ISIS-K), an affiliate of militants who previously battled US forces in Syria and Iraq, said it had carried out Thursday's attack, which killed dozens of people - including Afghans who were trying to leave the country.

In addition to the 13 US troops killed, 18 injured were flown to Germany.

There are roughly 5,000 US troops at Kabul's airport, helping to evacuate American citizens, at-risk Afghans, and other nationalities before Biden's Tuesday deadline.

Uproar in Washington: Did US Share Evacuee Names with Taliban?
Did the US military give the Taliban the names of Americans and Afghans waiting to be evacuated in order to facilitate the process? The idea, not entirely denied by President Joe Biden, had his opponents screaming in Washington on Friday.

The controversy arose from a Thursday report by the respected Politico news website. Pressed by journalists, Biden did not rule out the possibility of the names being provided to the Taliban.

“I can’t tell you with any certainty that there’s actually been a list of names,” Biden said. “There may have been, but I know of no circumstance.”

He added, “it doesn’t mean it didn’t exist, that, ‘here’s the names of 12 people; they’re coming. Let them through.’ It could very well have happened.”

Biden also acknowledged that Pentagon officials have occasionally “contacted their military counterparts in the Taliban” to speed up the evacuation process.

That caused an uproar in the US capital.

“Never in the history of this nation would we have ever thought that our own government would give the names of Americans to the Taliban,” said top House Republican Kevin McCarthy. “Why wouldn’t we have created a situation of safe passage?”
Taliban and Haqqani Network have close relationship despite State Department claiming otherwise
The Taliban and the Haqqani Network are "separate entities," the State Department insisted on Friday, arguing the United States providing information with the former did not mean it was doing the same with the latter.

Despite State's denials there are strong links between the groups, Haqqanis even help fill the Taliban’s leadership ranks.

Ned Price, the State Department’s spokesman, was asked if U.S. coordination on security with the Taliban extended to the Haqqani Network, and he replied, “No, it does not. The Taliban and the Haqqani Network are separate entities.”

He went on to argue the U.S. had “developed and implemented effective tactics to be in a position to facilitate the safe passage of individuals to the Kabul airport” and that “the idea that we are providing names or personally identifiable information to the Taliban in a way that exposes anyone to additional risk — that is simply wrong.”

A reporter then noted members of the Haqqani family had prominent positions inside the Taliban, and Price was asked again about the U.S. working with the Haqqani Network.

Price said bluntly: “The Haqqani Network is a designated terrorist organization. We are not coordinating with the Haqqani Network.”

The Taliban, Haqqani Network, and al Qaeda are deeply intertwined in Afghanistan, with the Taliban integrating Haqqani Network leaders and fighters with al Qaeda links into its command structure. ISIS-K has long clashed with the Taliban and al Qaeda in Afghanistan, claiming Taliban rule is illegitimate.

After Afghanistan’s last Jew refused to leave, his would-be Jewish rescuers helped dozens of other Afghans escape instead
Zebulon Simantov, Afghanistan’s last Jew, has not left Kabul, despite the best efforts of some Jewish figures and organizations.

One of them was Moshe Margaretten, a haredi Orthodox fixer whose passion is bringing Jews out of danger.

Margaretten paid Moti Kahana, an Israeli-American businessman who helped extract people from war-torn Syria, to be a middleman and get Simantov out — but Kahana told Margaretten what many others had heard: Simantov was not leaving because of his longstanding refusal to grant his Israeli wife a “get,” or decree of divorce. Simantov feared facing Israel’s legal system, which penalizes such a refusal.

But Kahana hatched another idea. The team he sent into Kabul to extract Simantov learned that there were plenty of women in danger of being targeted by the Taliban as they assumed total control of Afghanistan — among them members of the country’s national women’s soccer team, along with judges and prosecutors.

Was Margaretten interested in paying for their extraction?

“Absolutely,” Margaretten said. “Give me 10 hours.”

Within a day, Margaretten, who is based in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, had drummed up $80,000 from his haredi Orthodox community. He wired the funds to Kahana’s consultancy, GDC, and by Wednesday, Kahana was, from his New Jersey farm, coordinating the extraction of at least four soccer players, a judge, a prosecutor and their families, over land and by air. Kahana said they numbered 23 people. Margaretten said the money would also assist the refugees after their departure.

By Friday, Kahana said his team had extracted another 23 people.
Rashida Tlaib Promoted a Fundraiser for Group Tied to Hamas, Taliban
Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D., Mich.) on Wednesday shared a tweet that advertised a fundraiser for an organization with ties to Hamas and the Taliban.

Tlaib, who has a long history of anti-Semitic rhetoric, retweeted a post from critical race theorist Khaled Beydoun that urged donations to Baitulmaal, a Texas-based nonprofit. Experts say Baitulmaal helps fundraise for Hamas and distributes aid to the "families of martyrs of the Palestinian people." And the group's leader, Mazen Mokhtar, has been accused of working with the Taliban and other terrorist groups.

The retweet isn't the first time Tlaib expressed support for terrorists. Days after she became a congresswoman, the controversial Democrat hosted Abbas Hamideh, a pro-Hezbollah activist who has repeatedly compared Israelis to Nazis. She shared a post last year that included an anti-Semitic phrase frequently used by Palestinian terrorist groups that seek to destroy Israel. She subsequently unshared the post.

Baitulmaal works closely with Hamas terrorists in the Gaza Strip, according to a 2020 analysis by the Middle East Forum. The group, which received $10,000 in emergency coronavirus funding last year, frequently partners with Unlimited Friends Association for Social Development, a Palestinian group that describes itself as a "a social, developmental, educational NGO."

The Unlimited Friends Association works with Baitulmaal to hand out cash to the families of Palestinian terrorists, according to the Middle East Forum. These donations complement the Palestinian Authority's formal "Pay to Slay" program, which has funneled hundreds of millions of dollars to Palestinian terrorists. The Palestinian government this year paid $42,000 to the family of a Palestinian terrorist who stabbed two Israelis to death and wounded two more, including a two-year-old child.
Ruthie Blum: Benny Gantz is confused on Iran - opinion
Defense Minister Benny Gantz may very well be correct in his assessment, which he shared with 60 ambassadors in Tel Aviv on Wednesday, that “Iran is only two months away from acquiring the materials necessary for a nuclear weapon.”

But he’s delusional if he thinks that a diplomatic “Plan B” – to replace the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action – is going to stop it.

“We do not know if the Iranian regime will be willing to sign an agreement and come back to the negotiate[ing] table,” Gantz said, alluding to the recent rise to power in Tehran of Ebrahim “the butcher” Raisi, ostensibly less likely than his immediate predecessor to cooperate with the West.

It’s a fallacy, of course, since Raisi, like former Iranian president Hassan Rouhani, takes his orders from Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

“At the end of the day, the goal is to reach a ‘longer, stronger and broader’ agreement than the previous one,” Gantz told the group of foreign-service diplomats.

Is it, though?

BY NOW, Gantz ought to be aware that even if the Islamic Republic consents, yet again, to reaching a deal with the P5+1 countries (the US, UK, France, Russia, China and Germany), it will not honor its commitments. It was not merely the content of the JCPOA that gave the mullah-led regime leeway to pursue its nefarious hegemonic aims, after all.

On the contrary, the powers-that-be in Tehran violated all clauses of the worthless document, which in any event only postponed Iran’s inevitable nuclear capabilities; it didn’t prevent them permanently. Despite multiple attempts by the administration of former US president Barack Obama, abetted by the International Atomic Energy Agency, to obfuscate this fact, it wasn’t exactly a secret.

Indeed, Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps frequently boasted about the country’s military prowess and progress, with fancy ballistic missiles on display at parades. IRGC test-firing of medium- and long-range rockets also went on without a hitch well after the JCPOA was signed.
Bennett said to vow he won’t openly lobby against US return to Iran nuke deal
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett pledged to US President Joe Biden that despite opposing a potential Washington move to rejoin the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, he will not wage a public campaign against a possible American return to the accord, the Walla news site reported on Saturday.

Citing two American sources familiar with the details of Bennett and Biden’s meeting on Friday at the White House, the news site said that the Israeli premier stressed the same point in his sit-downs with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan.

Bennett’s government opposes US efforts to return to the Iran nuclear agreement, signed in 2015 by the administration led by Barack Obama and abandoned three years later by Donald Trump.

But, according to the sources, Bennett said that he believes dialogue will lead to a better outcome, and that the White House was very appreciative of his stance on the matter. Many current administration officials also served under Obama when he clashed with then-prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu over the deal. Netanyahu, now the opposition leader, lobbied against the deal in a 2015 speech to the US Congress, infuriating Obama, and continues to vociferously oppose a return to the accord, which he argues paves the way to an Iranian nuclear arsenal.

“Even though there are disagreements, I want us to work according to rules of honesty and decency,” Bennett told Biden, according to an Israeli source quoted in the report.
Iran’s government appoints 2 suspected 1994 bombing Buenos Aires Jewish center
Iran’s new government includes two men who have been implicated in the 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish center in Buenos Aires that killed 85 people.

On Wednesday, the parliament approved Ahmad Vahidi as interior minister and Mohsen Rezai as vice president of economic affairs among the 19 nominations by President Ebrahim Raisi.

In its investigation of the bombing, which also injured 300, Argentina has said Vahidi and Rezai played key roles.

Both are listed by Interpol with red alerts, meaning they are wanted for arrest internationally.

Since 2010, Vahidi has been the subject of sanctions by the United States, which seek to freeze any assets he may have under U.S. jurisdiction. He headed the Quds Force, the paramilitary arm of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard, at the time of the 1994 attack, and was Iran’s Defense Minister between 2009 and 2013.

Jewish institutions in Argentina and Israel, as well as the Argentine government, criticized the Vahidi nomination.
PA: Biden’s commitment to two-state solution good, but insufficient
Palestinian officials on Saturday expressed satisfaction with US President Joe Biden’s renewed commitment to the two-state solution, but said that they were disappointed that he did not call for an immediate cessation of settlement construction and Israeli “assaults” on Palestinians.

Commenting on Friday’s meeting in Washington between Biden and Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, the officials expressed hope that the president would follow up on his support for the two-state solution by exerting pressure on Israel to abide by international resolutions pertaining to the Israeli-Arab conflict.

Biden did not refer to the two-state solution at all in his public statements during the meeting with Bennett.

A statement issued by the White House after the meeting, however, said that Biden “reaffirmed his view that a negotiated two-state solution is the only viable path to achieving a lasting resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

Biden “underscored the importance of steps to improve the lives of Palestinians and support greater economic opportunities for them,” according to the statement. “He also noted the importance of refraining from actions that could exacerbate tensions, contribute to a sense of unfairness, and undermine efforts to build trust.”

In response, a Palestinian official in Ramallah described the statement as “positive.”

The Palestinians, he said, want the Biden administration to “take real steps to stop Israel from sabotaging efforts to revive the peace process and achieve the two-state solution on the basis of an independent Palestinian state on the 1967 borders, with east Jerusalem as its capital.”
Israel in Talks with PA to Transfer Hundreds of Millions of Shekels to Ramallah
The Israeli government is reportedly currently in talks with the Palestinian Authority to transfer hundreds of millions of shekels to Ramallah, which is facing a major financial crisis, the Times of Israel reveals.

A deal worth 800 million shekels ($248.5 million) to the Palestinian Authority has been formulated, an Israeli official said on Friday.

Another official familiar with the matter said the deal was “practically done.”

A senior PA official, Ahmad Majdalani, confirmed that discussions over financial support were ongoing between the two sides. He said the funds would not be loaned, but rather an advance on the tax revenue that Israel pays to the PA.

“There are discussions around an advance on what is owed to us and not a loan,” said Majdalani.

The West Bank is currently experiencing a financial crisis due in particular to the coronavirus pandemic. The Palestinian economy has contracted by more than 11 percent this year.

Parole Recommended for Convicted RFK Assassin Sirhan Sirhan
A California review board on Friday recommended that Sirhan Sirhan, the Palestinian refugee serving a life sentence for assassinating US presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy in 1968, be released from prison on parole.

Sirhan, 77, has previously been denied parole 15 times.

The latest decision by a Board of Parole Hearings panel is now subject to a 120-day review by the board’s legal staff, during which the case may be referred to the full board for further evaluation before a final judgment is rendered.

The California governor then has 30 days to reverse the board’s action or let it stand. That process would most likely put Sirhan’s fate in the hands of incumbent Governor Gavin Newsom, a first-term Democrat, assuming he survives a recall election set for September.

If the governor takes no action on a parole grant, the inmate is then scheduled for release.

The Palestinian-born Sirhan was convicted of gunning down Kennedy, 42, in the kitchen pantry of the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles on June 5, 1968. The shooting occurred minutes after the US senator from New York and former US attorney general gave his victory speech after winning the California Democratic primary. Kennedy died the next day.

Sirhan has said he had no recollection of the killing, although he has also said he fired at Kennedy because he was enraged by his support for Israel.

Two members of the slain senator’s family, including his son, Robert F. Kennedy Jr., sent letters to the parole board in support of Sirhan’s release, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Six of Robert Kennedy’s kids condemn decision to parole assassin Sirhan Sirhan
Six of Robert F. Kennedy’s nine living children have condemned the decision to grant parole to Sirhan Sirhan, the assassin who shot and killed the New York senator in 1968 as he ran for the Democratic presidential nomination.

California’s parole board voted on Friday to free Sirhan after two of RFK’s sons said that they supported releasing him and prosecutors declined to argue he should be kept behind bars. The decision was a major victory for the 77-year-old prisoner, though it does not assure his release.

The ruling by the two-person panel at Sirhan’s 16th parole hearing will be reviewed over the next 90 days by the California Parole Board’s staff. Then it will be sent to the governor, who will have 30 days to decide whether to grant it, reverse it or modify it.

In a statement posted to Twitter early Saturday, six of Kennedy’s children said: “We are devastated that the man who murdered our father has been recommended for parole… He took our father from our family and he took him from America. We are in disbelief that this man would be recommended for release.”

The statement was signed by Joseph P. Kennedy II, Courtney Kennedy, Kerry Kennedy, Christopher G. Kennedy, Maxwell T. Kennedy, and Rory Kennedy.
Lebanon sentences four people to prison for ties with Jews or Israel
A prominent physician in Australia, Jamal Rifi from Lebanon, was sentenced in absentia to ten years in prison in Lebanon for the crime of "normalization with Israel," VOA and Albawaba reported on Wednesday.

Dr. Rifi works with Sydney's Jewish Community on a charity program that organizes treatment for Palestinians in Israeli hospitals. The program trains Palestinian medical workers and helps transfer sick children from Gaza and other Palestinian areas to Israeli hospitals. They have also helped during the COVID-19 pandemic by providing ventilators to the Palestinian health system.

Dr. Rifi's brother, Ashraf, is a former justice minister in Lebanon and informed him of the sentencing because of his association with the Jewish organizations in his charity work.

"The Lebanese military tribunal sentenced me to ten years' imprisonment for being a collaborator and a traitor with the enemy," said Dr. Ashraf to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. "Nobody wants to be labelled as a traitor, and I am really upset, and it is a distraction from the work that I am doing right now."

He added that the sentencing was a reflection on the corruption of the Lebanese system.

The sentencing means that if Dr. Rifi tries to go visit his family in Lebanon, he will be immediately arrested and put in prison for ten years. Dr. Rifi is not the only person to be sentenced to prison for ties with Israelis or Jews.

Amin Muhammad Mari Baydoun holds a US citizenship and was sentenced to 5 years in prison for "dealing with the Israeli enemy," according to Albawaba.

Baydoun was arrested at the Beirut airport in June.

Mideast Leaders Plus France Meet in Baghdad to Talk Security
Several Middle Eastern leaders and French President Emmanuel Macron met in Baghdad on Saturday at a summit hosted by Iraq, which wants its neighbors to talk to each other instead of settling scores on its territory.

Iraq’s security has improved in recent years but it is still plagued by big power rivalries and heavily armed militia groups.

Competition for influence in the Middle East between Iran on one side and the United States, Israel and Gulf Arab states on the other has made Iraq the scene of attacks against U.S. forces and assassinations of Iranian and Iraqi paramilitary leaders.

The strained relationships within the region have also led to disruptions to global oil supplies with attacks on Saudi Arabian oil installations – blamed on but denied by Tehran.

Organizers of the Baghdad summit said they did not expect any diplomatic breakthroughs. “Getting these countries to sit around the table – that will be achievement enough,” said one Iraqi government official.

Heads of state attending included Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, King Abdullah of Jordan, Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani and Macron. Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates sent their heads of government, and Turkey its foreign minister.

Macron was due to stay an extra day, meet Iraqi leaders and visit French special forces fighting Islamic State insurgents.

Shi’ite Muslim Iran and Sunni Saudi Arabia, longtime rivals for regional dominance, sent their foreign ministers. The two countries resumed direct talks in Iraq in April this year, but those meetings yielded no breakthroughs.
Seth Frantzman: Baghdad conference seen as regional turning point
Iraq does not want to be an area of conflict. It has suffered from pro-Iran militias, ISIS and from Turkish airstrikes in recent years. The conference is supposed to show that Baghdad can now bring the region together. The official added, “The conference sends positive messages to the institutions concerned with economic development and attracting capital.” The summit aims to give Iraq a “constructive and inclusive role to address the crises afflicting the region,” Al-Ain says.

If Iraq is able to pull this off and bring together officials from such disparate countries as Iran, Turkey and Saudi Arabia, as well as France, Egypt, Jordan and other key Gulf states, then it will be sending an unprecedented message.

It will also show how US leadership in the region has been sidelined. America is leaving Afghanistan, and many see the US as withdrawing from the region. Washington has left many facilities in Iraq in recent years as pro-Iran militias targeted US forces. Turkey has been bombing US-backed SDF fighters in Syria and it is concerned that the US-led anti-ISIS coalition no longer cares about them. Iraq, meanwhile, is stepping up – and so is France.
Ben & Jerry's - proud Zionists or BDS supporters?
What I do not understand is why they adopted, embraced and celebrated a pretense that the Ben & Jerry’s board distinguished between “the democratic territory of Israel and territories Israel occupies” when it clearly did not do so and protested Unilever’s edit of their original statement. Maybe they were duped by the constructive ambiguity of the phraseology used or did they simply choose to adopt a comforting false narrative about the intent of the Board? Mittal embraced the same narrative in the webinar but then contradicted it by admitting she knew nothing about any plans for the future sale of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream in Israel or in "Occupied Palestinian Territory” when the licence of its current Israeli manufacturer ends in December 2022.

In their essay Ben and Jerry wrote “We believe companies have a responsibility to use their power and influence to advance the wider common good.” Ben Cohen revisited this narrative in the August webinar. Looking in from the outside, it just might be that they overestimate the power and influence of an ice cream company and the credibility given to its political pronouncements. When a member for many years of the Irish Parliament's Foreign Affairs, Justice and Defense committees and when later Ireland’s minister for Justice, Equality and Defense, it never occurred to me that an ice cream company or its board might be experts in conflict resolution or possess the secret ingredient required to bring about peace, reconciliation and end violence in conflict zones.

However, if Ben and Jerry truly want to contribute to peace and advance the common good perhaps they could use their wealth, influence and ice cream to encourage dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians, invest in the creation of Palestinian jobs, promote more business cooperation between Israelis and Palestinians, encourage warring Palestinian factions to end their internecine conflict, advocate for an end to violent attacks on Israeli civilians and the use of Palestinian civilians, including children, as human shields and for Hamas to end its repression in Gaza and Fatah to do so on the West Bank.

They should also call on Ben & Jerry’s board to rescind their ill-considered deeply flawed decision. Now that would advance the concept of justice and human rights and positively contribute to peace. It would be a truly progressive alternative to the regressive nihilism of BDS activists and their Twitteratti supporters that exacerbates division promotes hate and achieves nothing of real value for Palestinians.
Nearly HALF of Jewish college students say they or someone they know have been targets of anti-Semitic attacks
A new survey reveals over 40% of Jewish college students say they or someone they know has been physically threatened for being Jewish

The students in the survey reported accounts of being spat on, told to pick up pennies and being 'beaten up' by frats

The survey was conducted by anti-bigotry organization Alums for Campus Fairness (ACF) exclusively obtained a copy of the shocking results from the poll of 506 students and alumni of American universities

A staggering 95% percent of Jewish college students and recent graduates who answered the survey felt that anti-Semitism is a problem on their campuses

Nearly 80% of Jewish students and recent grads said they were the target of offensive or threatening anti-Semitic comments Avi Gordon, executive director of the ACF, told he was saddened but not surprised by the results of their survey
Addionics hopes to transform electric vehicle sector with smart 3D batteries
Global electric vehicle (EV) sales may be on the rise, with Tesla leading the charge as the dominant player in the sector, but the EV market is still quite small, accounting for just 4.6% of the global automotive sector in 2020. The slow (but steady) growth is attributed to major challenges faced by the industry — primarily the costs, logistics, and size of rechargeable batteries.

As automakers make significant progress toward rolling out more EVs in the coming decade, a move that is expected to transform the transportation sector and hopefully make a dent in a rising climate crisis, car manufacturers and battery tech startups are working to make batteries more efficient, less cumbersome, less expensive, and last longer. (The EV battery recycling sector is a growing market in itself.)

Israeli startup Addionics, founded four years ago in Tel Aviv and London, has been looking to address the issue from a different perspective — not with chemistry, but with architecture. The company has designed smart 3D Electrodes that it says can improve battery performance, capacity, charging time, and lifetime.

“We are changing the architecture of the electrodes, not the chemistry,” Moshiel Biton, co-founder and CEO of Addionics, told The Times of Israel on Wednesday. In doing so, Addionics’ tech can enhance the performance of batteries no matter the type of battery chemistry. The company hopes to “integrate the solution into production lines and make it a core component of the manufacturing process,” Biton added.

Existing battery technologies are currently not fit to support a future of all-electric transportation, Biton explained, mainly because of energy storage. Addionics’ 3D structure design, made with AI algorithms and modeling, delivers high power and high energy by enabling greater loading of active materials, improving heat dissipation and the activation of cooling systems. Its current collector geometries address the thermal, energy density, and mechanical challenges that plague existing batteries, the company claims.
Landa Digital Printing heads for Nasdaq SPAC merger at $2b valuation
Serial Israeli entrepreneur Benny Landa is in the process of merging his digital printing company with a Nasdaq-traded SPAC, Calcalist has learned. Landa Digital Printing (LDP) has hired Bank of America to lead the move. Landa is targeting a $2 billion valuation, 20 times the company's annual revenue of around $50 million. The negotiations regarding the merger already began 2-3 months ago.

LDP has raised $700 million over two funding rounds to date. The company raised $300 million at a $1.8 billion valuation in its most recent round in June 2018. That round was led by investment company SKion and the Altana chemicals company.

LDP, which was spun out of Landa Labs a decade ago and currently employs approximately 550 people, named Arik Gordon as its new CEO in June. Gordon joined LDP after 18 years at Orbotech. In the past two years, he served as Executive VP of Strategy and Growth at Orbotech. He held several executive management positions in the company’s operations in Asia Pacific, and upon returning to Israel in 2013, was appointed President of Orbotech's PCB (Printed Circuit Board) division.
Israeli Paralympians take home gold, silver medals in swimming
Israeli Paralympic swimmer Mark Malyar won a gold medal and set a new world record in the 200-meter medley swim at the Tokyo 2020 games on Friday, completing his race in just two minutes and 29.1 seconds.

Malyar, a Haifa-born athlete with cerebral palsy, is an experienced swimmer, having picked up the skill along with his twin brother as part of physical therapy as a child.

Since then, he has seen considerable success in competition, being named Athlete of the Year by the Israeli Paralympic Committee in 2017. He previously won gold in both the European and world championships and set a world record in 400-meter freestyle swimming. However, this is the first time he has ever been in the Paralympics.

Culture and Sport Minister Chili Tropper congratulated Malyar on his victory and for “filling Israel with pride.”

Yehuda Mormenstein, head of the Aleh Association that treats Israelis with disabilities, praised Malyar for “breaking the glass ceiling and giving hope to so many people and families who saw you resolutely overcome all challenges and break the world record.”

President Isaac Herzog also called Malyar to congratulate him on his victory.

“Mark, this is so exciting. You are unstoppable. Both a gold medal and a made-in-Israel world record!” he said. “I wish you, your brother and your special coach Yaakov Beininson more medals over the course of the games. Well done!”
Six Israeli Artists Create Exclusive Apple Playlists to Celebrate Rosh Hashanah
Apple Music launched a new project in collaboration with Israeli singers that was inspired by the Jewish holiday Rosh Hashanah.

The music streaming service asked several well-known musicians in Israel to create exclusive playlists composed of their favorite Israeli songs from the last year. The playlists contain between 14 to 25 songs and were curated by Israeli artists Omar Adam, Noa Kirel, Ella-Li Lahav, Miri Mesika, Ravid Plotnik and Berry Sakharof. The Apple Music playlists will be available from Thursday until after Rosh Hashanah.

“Just as one year ends and a new one begins, we invite you to celebrate the past and look forward to what’s yet to come,” Apple Music said. “To summarize the past Jewish year, we’ve asked six artists we love to share the Israeli songs that made their year. You can also dive into iconic Israeli debut albums, go back to the classics and enjoy the work of trailblazing, innovative artists. Shanah tova!”

Sakharof said, “I’m happy that even during this difficult year, music has won and there’s been a continued release of great songs here. These are some of the songs I loved this year.”


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Elder of Ziyon - حـكـيـم صـهـيـون

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