Thursday, September 09, 2021

09/09 Links Pt1: Enough of the Durban depravity; NZ, Cyprus to boycott Durban IV conference due to antisemitic stance; Palestinians declare ‘day of rage’ in support of prisoners

From Ian:

Elan S. Carr: Enough of the Durban depravity
Former U.S. Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism. He currently serves on the advisory council of the Combat Antisemitism Movement and ai a visiting fellow at the Heritage Foundation.

The failure of the international community to condemn Durban I had very real consequences: Antisemitism was given a prestigious platform, and anti-Zionism and Israel hatred become accepted orthodoxy among certain academic schools and in large swaths of public discourse.

The anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement was borne out of Durban, and the harassment and discrimination to which Jewish university students have been subjected in many parts of the United States and Europe owes its prevalence to the depravity of Durban.

Remarkably, instead of condemning what Durban I became, the United Nations continues to celebrate the event by organizing successive commemorative conferences. Later this month, the UN plans to hold a high-level meeting in New York known as Durban IV, to honor the 20th anniversary of the original conference. This is a moral outrage, and it will surely compound the damage and further driving global antisemitic narratives.

I applaud President Joe Biden for leading the United States to boycott this obscenity. Across four administrations, both Democrat and Republican, the United States has refused to participate in Durban I or any of its follow-up iterations, including the one that is forthcoming. The US understands that Durban is about antisemitism, not anti-racism, and will not abide any form of hatred towards Jews.

President Emmanuel Macron of France similarly declared his country’s boycott of the Durban commemoration, as have the United Kingdom, Germany, the Netherlands, Austria, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Australia, Canada, and of course, Israel. These countries are exhibiting moral leadership and are an example for the world.

All countries of goodwill must withdraw from Durban IV. With antisemitism rising across the world and attacks on Jews proliferating from Los Angeles to Berlin, the time has come for leaders of conscience to act in concert. On this matter, there is no room for neutrality. Participating in Durban IV is an endorsement of antisemitism. The time has come for all of us to say enough of the Durban depravity
. New Zealand, Cyprus to boycott Durban IV conference due to antisemitic stance
New Zealand and Cyprus will not take part in this month’s event marking 20 years since the World Conference Against Racism in Durban, which identified Israel alone as a racist state.

The conference was studded with antisemitic and anti-Israel sentiments.

“New Zealand remains strongly committed to combating racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance,” a spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Wellington said on Thursday. “Consistent with our long-standing position, New Zealand will not attend the 20th anniversary of the Durban Declaration conference in New York on 22 September 2021.”

Cyprus has also decided not to attend the conference, American Jewish Committee CEO David Harris said, citing a conversation he had with Foreign Minister Nikos Christodoulides on Monday.

Also this week, Italy and Croatia said they would not attend the conference, with the latter saying the decision was due to “the constant antisemitic attitudes and the linking of conferences to anti-Israel propaganda and the promotion of intolerance.”

Durban IV will be held on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York this month.

Australia, Austria, Bulgaria, Canada, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Hungary, Israel, the Netherlands, the UK and the US also plan to boycott the event. The number of countries boycotting this year’s conference, 16, is greater than the 14 which opted out of the 2011 Durban Review Conference, and the 10 that did so in 2009.

Top Biden Officials Backed the 2014 Bergdahl Deal. Now, the Terrorists Released Are Taking the Reins in Afghanistan.
When President Barack Obama struck a deal with the Taliban in 2014 to free several high-ranking terrorists being held at the Guantanamo Bay prison camp, his defenders argued their release would do little to harm U.S. national security. Now, four of those terrorists are serving in senior roles in Afghanistan's newly formed Taliban government.

The Obama-era deal's prominent defenders include officials now serving in senior posts in the Biden administration, including Secretary of State Antony Blinken and White House press secretary Jen Psaki. They claimed there was no indication these terrorists, known as the Taliban Five, would return to the battlefield, let alone rise to senior leadership positions in the Taliban government following the United States' much-criticized evacuation from Afghanistan. The prisoners were swapped for Army soldier Bowe Bergdahl, who was later charged with desertion.

Blinken, who was then serving as deputy national security adviser, told NBC that "any threat they would pose to the United States [and] to Americans has been sufficiently mitigated." Blinken also claimed the terrorists would be "very carefully monitored" by Qatar, which helped facilitate the trade and provided safe haven to the five detainees after their release. "There will be restrictions on their travel, on their activities," Blinken said.

Jen Psaki, who served as the State Department spokeswoman at the time of the deal, hailed it as a signature achievement by the Obama administration. "Was it worth it? Absolutely," Psaki said in 2015.

Biden himself, who was vice president at the time, also celebrated Berghdahl's release on Twitter.
Taliban Say Open to Relations With US, Regional Countries but Not Israel
The Taliban said it would support a normalization with the United States as well as with regional actors, yet ruled out establishing ties with the Jewish state.

“Of course, we won’t have any relation with Israel,” a spokesperson for the Islamist group told the Russian Sputnik outlet. “We want to have relations with other countries, Israel is not among these countries … We would like to have relations with all the regional countries and neighboring countries as well as Asian countries.”

Yet “if America wants to have a relation with us, which could be in the interest of both countries and both peoples, and if they want to participate in the reconstruction of Afghanistan, they are welcome,” Suhail Shaheen was quoted in the report.

World powers have told the Taliban the key to peace and development is an inclusive government that would back up its pledges of a more conciliatory approach, upholding human rights, after a previous 1996-2001 period in power marked by bloody vendettas and oppression of women.
Taliban Interim Government Agrees to Let Foreigners Leave Afghanistan
Two hundred foreigners in Afghanistan, Americans among them, are set to depart on charter flights from Kabul on Thursday after the new Taliban government agreed to their evacuation, a US official said.

The departures will be among the first international flights to take off from Kabul airport since the Islamist militia seized the capital in mid-August, triggering the chaotic US-led evacuation of 124,000 foreigners and at-risk Afghans.

The flights come two days after the Taliban announced an interim government made up of mainly ethnic Pashtun men, including wanted terror suspects and Islamist hardliners, dashing international hopes for a more moderate administration.

The Taliban were pressed to allow the departures by US Special Representative Zalmay Khalilzad, the US official said, speaking to Reuters on condition of anonymity.

The official could not say whether the American civilians and other foreign nationals were among people stranded for days in the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif because their private charters had not been allowed to depart.

The announcement of a new government on Tuesday was widely seen as a signal the Taliban were not looking to broaden their base and present a more tolerant face to the world, as they had earlier suggested they would do.

French teachers hail Taliban and Jihad
Almost a year after the beheading of Professor Samuel Paty in a middle school in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, after which the Minister of Education Jean Michel Blanquer revealed that 800 Islamist "episodes" have occurred in French schools, a French professor was suspended for praising the Taliban.

On August 16, the day after the capture of Kabul, Khalid B. wrote on his Facebook account: "The Taliban have will and courage ...". Khalid B. does not teach in a "difficult suburb", but in Peltre. A village of 1,900 inhabitants, Peltre, near Nancy, tops the 2020 list of “villages and towns where life is good”. Le Figaro tells that it is not the first time that the teacher has praised the Islamists.

And he is certainly not the first French teacher to praise Jihad.

L’Express reveals that a math teacher, who was also an imam, Abdelali Bouhnik, was suspended from the Académie of Créteil for having invited "the faithful to pray for jihadists around the world". Member of National Education for more than 25 years, the man taught mathematics at the Jean Moulin high school in Torcy.

In Lyon, says Le Parisien, an aspiring professor was arrested for "condoning terrorism and threats to Catholic staff and students".

More than 1,000 jihadist propaganda photos and videos were stored on another professor's computer, Le Parisien reveals. The Grenoble-born mathematics teacher, born in Morocco, was sentenced to two years in prison after teaching for a long time in public and high schools. Khalid Z., a member of a Salafist movement and translator of Al Qaeda, taught in a public high school in Rennes.

What do all these cases tell us? That French disintegration is at a very advanced stage and that Islamists have infiltrated all ganglia of the public apparatus, from the police to the schools. Islamists have already recruited dozens of French and ex-military soldiers who converted to Islam. Many come from specialized units, with experience in handling weapons and explosives.
Lib Activist Group Warns Protesters: Men Can Have Abortions Too, Comparing GOP to Taliban is ‘Islamophobic’
A radical left-wing activist group organizing a pro-abortion protest outside the home of Supreme Court justice Brett Kavanaugh had some interesting advice for prospective attendees. An addendum to the notice announcing the protest urged activists "to be as inclusive as possible in your language" while making a ruckus outside Kavanaugh's home in Washington, D.C.

"Women and girls are not the only people who can get pregnant and need abortions," the organizers from ShutDownDC wrote. That's going to be rather inconvenient for anyone who was planning to reuse old signage about stopping the "war on women," but at least they've been given a few days to prepare. Alas, "Stop the war on people who can get pregnant" has far too many syllables to incorporate into a catchy chant.

Additionally, the protest organizers cautioned attendees to "please avoid comparing U.S. abortion-restricting politicians to the Taliban" because it would be unfair to the Taliban. (No, seriously.) "The former are a distinctly homegrown phenomenon and ignoring that in favor of such comparisons is Islamophobic," they explained.

Since the Taliban's rapid takeover in Afghanistan, even prominent Democrats have delighted in comparing people they don't like to the militant Islamist group. "Have you noticed how strikingly similar both the mindsets and actions are between the suicide bombers at Kabul’s airport, and the anti-mask and anti-vax people here?" wrote Arne Duncan, an Islamophobe who served seven years as former president Barack Obama's secretary of education.

The protest is scheduled to take place on the evening of Monday, Sept. 13. ShutDownDC, a left-wing activist group that purports to use "strategic direct action to advance justice and hold officials accountable," said they intend to "make our voices heard" by calling for Kavanaugh's resignation and telling him to "keep your oppressive ideology out of our bodies."

Israel Is No Goliath
Much of the imagery used to illustrate the recent conflict in Gaza sought to portray a military superpower and a largely helpless victim. The echoes of the biblical story of David and Goliath were difficult to miss. But this vision of a mighty Israel crushing poor Palestinian civilians is highly misleading.

First, Israel is far from being a superpower - even in military terms; it is at most a middleweight. By all key metrics - geographic, demographic, and economic - Israel is dwarfed by even a middle-ranked power like Britain.

The annual Global Firepower ranking puts Israel in the world's top-20 strongest militaries - but only just, at No. 20. Britain was ranked at No. 8. Several countries in the Middle East are more highly ranked militarily than Israel, including Turkey, Egypt, Iran, and Saudi Arabia.

Moreover, the contemporary conflict is not simply one between Israel and the Palestinians. It also involves an additional main party in the wider region: Islamism.

Hamas (the Arabic acronym for the Islamic Resistance Movement) in Gaza has substantial external Islamic support, including military backing from Iran and financial support from Qatar. It also has a powerful military ally in Hizbullah in Lebanon, which is also backed by Iran.

Indeed, the goal of Hamas, and Islamism generally, is not Palestinian self-determination. It is to subjugate Gaza, along with the rest of the Middle East, under an Islamic caliphate. It is therefore hostile to Palestinian self-determination.

By Ignoring Egypt’s Gaza Strip Blockade, Media Paints an Inaccurate Picture of Defensive Israeli Policies
Several factions in the Gaza Strip, including the ruling US-designated Hamas terror group, have called for an investigation after three Palestinians were found dead in an underground tunnel between the coastal enclave and the Sinai Peninsula.

According to local reports, the men were killed when Egyptian forces pumped poisonous gas into the structure, triggering its collapse.

The accusation against Gaza’s southern neighbor was echoed in statements by Palestinian terror groups, which spoke of “murder for which Egyptian authorities bear full responsibility.”

It wouldn’t be the first time that Egypt has employed tactics to counter Hamas’ tunnels.

In 2019, two Gazans, including one Hamas operative, reportedly died after Egyptian troops sprayed toxic fumes into a subterranean passageway. Hamas made similar allegations in 2010 after the death of four smugglers.

Moreover, Egypt has tried to combat cross-border movement by blowing up the terrorist group’s tunnels and flooding them with seawater and raw sewage.

Indeed, Egypt rightfully regards Hamas as a security threat, since the terror group smuggles arms and even Islamic terrorists through and into Sinai, where Egyptian troops have for years been fighting a local ISIS branch. The underground tunnels also fund Hamas’ activities, as Gaza’s rulers impose taxes on goods passing through them into the Strip.
Democrats are abandoning US allies: Is Egypt next?
The Biden administration and leftist congressional allies have perpetuated a tired charade of prioritizing human rights over other security-focused considerations with regard to relations with several key partners, including Egypt. One of the loudest Democratic voices in opposition to continued security assistance for Egypt is Sen. Christopher Murphy (Conn.), who questions a number of established partnerships supporting U.S. objectives across the Middle East.

In the past weeks, much has been revealed by our appalling abandonment of U.S. citizens and allies in Afghanistan. If promoting human rights was a primary consideration, the Biden administration would not support the Taliban — a designated terrorist organization under the United Nations and U.S. Treasury Department — which, this past week, blamed the U.S. for the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

With this new reality, it is worth circling back to the administration’s dangerous approach to the U.S.-Egypt relationship, where some hard questions must be asked of Democrats advocating a halt to critical security assistance.

Egypt faces multiple security challenges and requires urgent assistance in order to continue providing leadership on regional security matters. The nation and its president, Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi, are critical bulwarks against the Muslim Brotherhood and other radical islamist groups. It is clear that if security assistance is not provided by the United States, Egypt will seek it elsewhere, likely with Russia or other strategic rivals.

The House passed a 2022 foreign aid bill that proposes withholding $150 million from Egypt — a larger amount than in previous years — and that does not include the standard national security waiver for a portion of that withheld assistance. Due to long-standing fiscal problems, exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, Cairo is financially strapped and now risks losing U.S. financial assistance, which constitutes a big chunk of its annual military budget. Meanwhile, as its budget is expected to remain in a deficit through 2025, pressure is building in Egypt for more austerity measures. With citizens under 30 representing more than half the total population, the trajectory is unsustainable.
Palestinians declare ‘day of rage’ in support of prisoners
Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) and other Palestinian factions have called for a “day of rage” on Friday in protest of Israel’s decision to transfer security prisoners to other prisons following the escape of six inmates from Gilboa Prison earlier this week. A Palestinian Authority official, meanwhile, warned that Israel’s “repressive” measures against the prisoners could ignite a new intifada. “Israel is playing with fire,” the official told The Jerusalem Post.

“The issue of the prisoners is extremely sensitive. The situation is very dangerous.”

The official said that the PA has warned the Israeli government that the West Bank “is on the verge of explosion” because of the anger over the measures taken against the security prisoners.

Tawfik Tirawi, member of the Fatah Central Committee and former head of the PA General Intelligence Service, on Thursday visited the families of some of the fugitives who escaped from Gilboa Prison.

Tirawi told the families that he was proud of the six inmates and expressed hope that all the security prisoners would be freed.
HonestReporting: Media's 'Moderate' Palestinian Authority President Celebrates Escape of Terrorists From Prison
Israeli forces continue to search for six Palestinians who on Monday escaped from the maximum-security Gilboa prison. Five fugitives are members of Iranian-backed Islamic Jihad. The sixth is a former leader of Fatah's Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades. Both are US-designated terror groups.

Most of the escapees were serving life sentences for their roles in attacks on Israeli civilians. Ayham Kamamji, for instance, was convicted of kidnapping and murdering teenager Eliyahu Asheri.

Nevertheless, Palestinians celebrated the jailbreak, with candy handed out across the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas' ruling Fatah faction praised the development. An official Twitter account posted a photo of Abbas and Zakaria Zubeidi, who in 2002 planned an Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades attack that killed six Israelis.

This apparently came as a surprise to The New York Times, which downplayed Abbas' responsibility by claiming Fatah was only "loosely linked" to the Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades. In reality, Palestinian officials are on record gloating that they bear "full responsibility" for the terror group, which is an indivisible "part of Fatah."

PMW: PMW warned; Israel Prison Service ignored
Palestinian Media Watch has repeatedly warned that Israel Prison Service (IPS) does not know what the Palestinian terrorists are doing in their prisons.

PMW has met, exchanged emails, and spoken with members of the prison service, including the Head of the IPS and Israel’s Minister of Internal Security (responsible for the IPS) to warn them of activities happening in prisons that they are not aware of. Despite the overwhelming evidence, the IPS consistently responded by saying that the information published by the Palestinian Authority, and exposed by PMW, was not true, and that everything is under control.

On Monday (Sept. 6, 2021) six Palestinian terrorist murderers escaped from prison in what is being described as one failure after another by the prison service. The first failure was negating and not acting on PMW’s repeated warnings.

In over 10 reports in the last four years, PMW warned that terrorist prisoners and their lawyers appear to have an almost unlimited freedom to smuggle materials in and out of the prisons. For example, according to PMW documentation of official PA sources, hundreds of prisoners were able to study for academic degrees despite the IPS ban on these studies. Lawyers smuggled the educational materials into the prisons and prisoners with advanced degrees became faculty staff, teaching the different subjects. In addition, prisoners even managed to smuggle out their sperm and father scores of children. Despite clear evidence, the IPS constantly responded that these activities are not happening.

Just recently, PMW reported to the IPS that a mass murderer, responsible for a suicide bombing in which 23 people were murdered, had been speaking via a mobile phone to a crowd gathered in a neighborhood of Jerusalem. While the IPS acted swiftly to punish the terrorist, the fact remains that a cell phone was smuggled to a mass murder into prison without the IPS knowing about it.

Biden Admin Seeks to Waive Sanctions on Assad
The Biden administration is expected to waive sanctions on Syrian strongman Bashar al-Assad to facilitate an energy deal with Hezbollah-controlled Lebanon, according to congressional sources briefed on the matter.

The administration wants to waive portions of the bipartisan Caesar Act, which applied wide-ranging sanctions on Assad for his war crimes in Syria, to facilitate an energy deal with Arab nations that would provide the Assad regime with a financial and political lifeline.

Brett McGurk, the White House coordinator for the Middle East and North Africa who was caught having an extramarital affair with a reporter in 2008 while serving as the Obama administration's ambassadorial nominee to Iraq, is pressing Egypt to sell gas to Lebanon via a pipeline that runs through Syria, congressional sources told the Washington Free Beacon. The Biden administration would have to waive key sanctions on Assad in order for the deal to go through.

As Biden and Democrats in Congress signal a willingness to back sanctions relief, Republican foreign policy leaders say removing sanctions on Assad will embolden his Iranian backers as well as Hezbollah. Indeed, Hezbollah itself sees the deal as a victory in its fight against U.S. sanctions and efforts to expand the Islamic Republic's influence across the Middle East, saying it will loosen restrictions on all three countries involved: Syria, Iran, and Lebanon.

"Why in the world would the Biden administration lift sanctions on one of the most brutal human rights abusers in the world—the Assad regime?" Joe Wilson, a House Foreign Affairs Committee member and chair of the Republican Study Committee's National Security and Foreign Affairs Task Force, told the Free Beacon.
Iran's Nuclear Weapons Weeks Away
Apparently desperate to revive the nuclear pact, the Biden administration at once began appeasing the ruling clerics of Iran.

From the perspective of Iran's mullahs, Biden's desperate efforts to resurrect the nuclear deal manifested his weak leadership and therefore a delectable opportunity for Tehran to buy time, get more concessions, advance its nuclear program and become a nuclear state.

Notwithstanding all these policies of incentives and appeasements, Iran's mullahs continued to make excuses seemingly to drag out the nuclear talks. One of the latest overtures was that the world powers ought to wait until Iran's newly elected president, Ebrahim Raisi, took office before resuming the nuclear talks.

By now, Raisi has been president of Iran for more than a month but there has not been the slightest effort by the Islamic Republic to restart any talks; in fact, all the while, the regime appears to have accelerated its enrichment of uranium to weapons-grade.

At the moment, the Iranian regime is reportedly 8-10 weeks away from obtaining the weapons-grade materials necessary for a nuclear weapon.
IAEA Says Iran Is Stonewalling as Talks on Nuclear Deal Hang in Balance
The UN atomic watchdog on Tuesday criticized Iran for stonewalling an investigation into past activities and jeopardizing important monitoring work, possibly complicating efforts to resume talks on the Iran nuclear deal.

The International Atomic Energy Agency said in two reports to member states reviewed by Reuters that there had been no progress on two central issues: explaining uranium traces found at several old, undeclared sites and getting urgent access to some monitoring equipment so that the agency can continue to keep track of parts of Iran’s nuclear program.

While the investigation into the uranium traces has been going on for more than a year, diplomats say the IAEA urgently needs access to the equipment to swap out memory cards so there are no gaps in its observation of activities like the production of parts for centrifuges, machines that enrich uranium.

Without such monitoring and so-called continuity of knowledge, Iran could produce and hide unknown quantities of this equipment that can be used to make weapons or reactor fuel.

“The Agency’s confidence that it can maintain continuity of knowledge is declining over time and has now significantly further declined,” one of the two reports said, adding that while the agency needs to access the equipment every three months, it had not had access since May 25.

“This confidence will continue to decline unless the situation is immediately rectified by Iran.”

A senior diplomat said the agency’s confidence that the equipment is still working properly declines rapidly after three months, and while the memory cards should keep working for slightly longer, inspectors will need access soon.
Koch-Funded Quincy Institute Joins Communists To Demand Biden Administration Lift Sanctions on US Enemies
The Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft is joining a coalition of civil society groups that call for President Joe Biden to roll back sanctions against Iran, North Korea, Venezuela, and Cuba.

Forty-six organizations, including two avowedly Communist groups, on Tuesday submitted a letter to Biden that urges him to implement "significant" changes to the United States' sanctions policy. The U.S. Peace Council and International Action Center are openly supportive of Communist and totalitarian regimes.

The U.S. Peace Council has cozied up to Syrian president Bashar al-Assad and accused the U.S. government of launching coups in Ukraine and Venezuela. The International Action Center recently released a report that parrots the popular Chinese talking point that the coronavirus originated in a U.S. military lab in Maryland.

Sent in the wake of the Biden administration's withdrawal from Afghanistan, a policy long backed by the isolationist-leaning Quincy Institute, the letter demonstrates the organization's ongoing efforts to push Biden's foreign policy to the left.

"We write to urge you to complete the administration's sanctions policy review as expeditiously as possible, to make its findings public, and to implement significant and structural changes to U.S. sanctions policy," the letter reads.

The signatories offer to provide "expertise" to the Biden administration during its sanctions policy review.

"We believe we have valuable insight to share, and your administration has said it seeks such input," they write.

The letter is the Quincy Institute's first known collaboration with the U.S. Peace Council and the International Action Center, two of the harshest critics of U.S. foreign policy.