Monday, October 11, 2021

From Ian:

Ronald Lauder: The war Israel must fight
The State of Israel is in a fight for its life: but you wouldn’t know it. For 75 years, Israel’s enemies could not defeat it militarily. What’s more, given enviable strides over the last decade, Israel’s enemies cannot defeat it economically. Yet we are in a far more dangerous place than ever.

That’s because these achievements are only part of the equation of Israel’s security and the battle for the safety of the Jewish people. Israel’s enemies have opened a new political front in their attacks – and Israel is losing that battle, which is not being fought on a border, in the sky or on the ground.

The battle for public opinion is being fought on campuses and billions of iPhones. And Israel has let itself fall behind and, as Jews in Israel and in the Diaspora, by not fighting the daily lies, distortions, dishonesty, and slander unequivocally and with one voice, we have let it happen on our watch.

Opponents of Israel’s right to exist have overtaken many mainstream press outlets, and this bias has infiltrated editorial boards and even supposedly unbiased reporting, who parrot anti-Israel, antisemitic talking points that would make the Muslim Brotherhood proud. They refer to Israel as an “apartheid state,” guilty of “ethnic cleansing,” and “crimes against humanity” – simply for defending itself.

On social media, influencers attack Israel for said self-defense in the face of rocket barrages launched by terror groups.

In the past, Israel’s opponents and enemies of the Jewish people funneled money to the state’s adversaries through weapons programs and militias. Today, it’s more insidious. It has effectively penetrated former staunch Israeli allies, including the US, through media and academia. It has split American Jews. Jewish students and professors are openly ridiculed, censored, and penalized for expressing support for Israel, including by fellow Jews. Universities recognize the problem, but most stay silent out of fear of condemnation and cancellation.

In government and politics, formerly unassailable allies of Israel and the Jewish people, including the Speaker of the House, are starting to bow to extremist factions including, terrifyingly, agreeing to temporarily pull votes for Iron Dome funding.

Yisrael Medad: Jewish prayer should be permitted on the Temple Mount
It should be clear: No Jew enters a Muslim building on the Temple Mount and surely not in a mosque. The compound is rather large and there is more than enough room for it to be shared. After all, in Hebron, Jews do pray daily in a structure considered a mosque (the Cave of the Patriarchs). So why is there this form of Islamic cancel culture which can be summarized so: The Temple Mount belongs solely to the Muslims and the Western Wall to the Jews.

First, the facts. Invading Muslim armies conquered Jerusalem in 638 CE and usurped, physically and theologically, Mount Moriah. Although Jews were permitted to enter at times, from the 13th century until the late 19th century, Jewish entry was prohibited. This also was the situation in Hebron. In 1947, a Jew who accidentally entered the compound was killed. Parallel to this, the majority rabbinic opinion was that, despite the compound being larger than the original sacred area, all entry would be prohibited.

On this background, in 1967, the famous status quo was adopted. But if that situation is not static – Muslims have opened three new mosques since then – do they have any right to protest? Are they the only ones who have the right to be “provoked?” The Israel-Jordan Peace Treaty’s Article 9 calls for the promotion of “interfaith relations … with the aim of working toward religious understanding … freedom of religious worship and tolerance.” Should that not be honored?

Can we not attempt to achieve peace through religious unity and compromise? Why do we need to tolerate such degrading language in the Arabic media on this issue as when Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said Jews "defile the Al-Aqsa Mosque with their filthy feet."

The Waqf, and its financial patron, Jordan’s Ministry of Awqaf Islamic Affairs and Holy Places, have prevented surveillance cameras that could reduce violence and encourage the bullying attitude that presages rock throwing and worse. They need to be more responsible.

In the spirit of Isaiah 56:7, that “my house will be called a house of prayer for all nations,” cannot we accept that all who seek to respect and worship at their holy sites be allowed to do so reasonably without recourse to threats of violence?
Kushner in Knesset: We all have a role in advancing Abraham Accords
It is time to act to ensure the Abraham Accords fulfill their potential, former senior advisor to the US president Jared Kushner said at a ceremony in the Knesset on Monday.

“What we created is a new paradigm in the region. It can have many different outcomes,” he said. “It is imperative on all of us to set high expectations for what we want the Abraham Accords to achieve.”

Kushner, who founded the Abraham Accords Institute for Peace, spoke at an event in honor of the one-year anniversary of the peace and normalization agreements between Israel and Arab states. The Knesset Abraham Accords Caucus, which includes 107 MKs and is led by MKs Ofir Akunis (Likud) and Ruth Wasserman-Lande (Blue and White), hosted the event.

The adviser to former president Donald Trump recalled that the announcement of peace between Israel and the United Arab Emirates “shocked everyone.” He quipped that it was “one of the few things between Israel and the US that didn’t leak out.”

Kushner said that when he, together with the first Israeli delegation, arrived in Abu Dhabi on a direct flight, “the image captured the imaginations of the whole region. People realized things were just different.”

Now, he said, Israel is more popular in Arab states than he had imagined.

“Muslims in Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, Pakistani are seeing that Israel is not what they thought it is. They are seeing that Israel is welcoming their Muslim brothers,” he stated. “A new era has really begun.”

UNHRC approves Durban resolution, 10 nations oppose over antisemitism
The United Nations Human Rights Council approved a pro-Durban resolution on Monday 32-10, after the United Kingdom called for a roll call vote and prevented its anticipated passage by consensus.

"Racism should be tackled in all its forms and, regrettably, for far too long, the UN has downplayed the scourge of antisemitism. This must end," the British envoy Simon Manley told the 47-member UNHRC as it wrapped up its 48th session in Geneva.

Israel had worked behind the scenes to sway UNHRC members to oppose the resolution, which is approved every two years, and to refuse to allow it to pass by consensus.

But initially, UNHRC nations who only last month had boycotted the UN General Assembly event in New York that had commemorated the 20th anniversary of the contentious World Conference Against Racism, were reluctant to take a similar stand against that document.

On Monday however, the following 10 countries opposed the resolution: Austria, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Poland, Ukraine and the UK.

Another five countries — Bulgaria, Japan, Marshall Islands, Republic of Korea and Uruguay— abstained.

Bennett Says Israel Will Keep Golan as Assad’s Fortunes, US Views Shift
Israel will keep the Golan Heights, which it captured from Syria in a 1967 war, even if international views on Damascus change, Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said on Monday.

In 2019, then US President Donald Trump broke with other world powers by recognizing Israel as sovereign on the Golan Heights, which it annexed in 1981 in a move not recognized internationally.

Bennett’s remarks came as the current US administration hedges on the Golan’s legal status and some US-allied Arab states ease their shunning of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad over his handling of a decade-old civil war.

Addressing a conference about the Golan’s future, Bennett said the internal Syrian strife had “persuaded many in the world that perhaps it is preferable that this beautiful and strategic territory be in the State of Israel’s hands.”

“But even in a situation in which — as could happen — the world changes tack on Syria, or in relation to Assad, this has no bearing on the Golan Heights,” he told the forum hosted by the conservative Makor Rishon newspaper.

“The Golan Heights is Israeli, full stop.”

In his speech, Bennett pledged to double the size of the Israeli population on the Golan, which at around 20,000 is currently about equal to that of a Druze Arab community that often professes loyalty to Syria.
US Army deploys Iron Dome batteries to Guam for further testing
Two Iron Dome batteries purchased by the US Army are heading to Guam for further tests and training of troops who will be manning the system, Defense News reported.

Dubbed Operation Iron Island, the deployment to Andersen Air Force Base in Guam will test the capabilities of the system, and further train and refine the deployment capabilities of air defenders, read a statement released by the 94th Army Air and Missile Defense Command.

According to an Army spokesman who spoke to the news site, the exercise is focused on “gathering data on sustainment, deployment considerations and how we integrate Iron Dome with our existing air defense systems.”

Soldiers and equipment from the 2-43Air Defense Artillery Battalion from Fort Bliss, Texas, will be deployed to Guam for the tests and there is currently no plan to conduct a live-fire of the system while it is on Guam, the statement added.

According to Defense News, the batteries will arrive on the Pacific Island in mid-October and the exercise will last through November.
Jonathan S. Tobin: Why We Should Care About Threats to Azerbaijan
Most Americans couldn’t find Azerbaijan on a map. The former Soviet republic is located in between the Caspian Sea and the Caucasus Mountains, and has as its neighbors the republics of Georgia and Armenia—other former captives of the tsarist and Communist empires—as well as the southern reaches of the Russian Federation ruled by Russian President Vladimir Putin. To its south is Iran, a country that counts a third of its people as ethnic Azeris. All of which is to say that although this part of the world is largely unknown to Americans, it’s a fairly dangerous neighborhood.

So when Iran deployed a large portion of its army and conducted military exercises close to the Azeri border last month, the people of that much smaller country and its government, located in the ancient city of Baku, held their breath. For all of its obscurity and remoteness, the security of Azerbaijan is an issue that ought to concern more than the 10.2 million people who live there.

Understanding the complicated politics of the Caucasus region isn’t easy. Nor is all of what’s going on there directly connected to issues that concern the security of the Middle East, the West or the United States. But Azerbaijan’s current dilemma illustrates the ripple effect of actions taken elsewhere. That country’s conflicts with its neighbors in Armenia and Iran, as well as with Russia, cannot be viewed in isolation. More to the point, seemingly unrelated actions taken by other countries that do not, at least on the surface, have much to do with them, such as America’s disastrous retreat from Afghanistan or the Biden administration’s stubborn determination to revive former President Barack Obama’s policies aimed at appeasing Iran, are actually having serious consequences on the ground that cannot be ignored.
Azerbaijan says no Israelis on border, warns against Iran 'provocations'
Azerbaijan's State Border Service (SBS) rejected claims by Iranian officials that Israeli forces are present in Azerbaijan near the Iranian border, saying that Azerbaijan "does not need the support of foreign forces."

Ahmed Ali Goudarzi, commander of Iran's Border Guard, claimed last week that Israeli forces are present in "sensitive areas" in neighboring countries and conducting intelligence and espionage work, advising Muslim countries "not to allow this," according to Iranian state broadcaster IRIB.

The commander additionally claimed that Israel incited neighboring countries to take action concerning their borders or impose large tolls on heavy vehicles, an apparent reference to fees imposed on Iranian truck drivers by Azerbaijan recently.

The Azeri SBS stated in response that there never have been, are not and never will be forces of any third country on Azerbaijan's border, according to the Azeri APA news source. The SBS added that it does not need the support of foreign forces.

The SBS additionally stressed that Azerbaijan has the sovereign right to apply border and customs control on roads that cross through Azeri territory.

The statement added that, despite weekly meetings taking place at various levels between Azerbaijani and Iranian border guards, no information concerning the allegations of foreign forces in Azerbaijan was ever given to the SBS, according to APA.
Leading Rome mayoral candidate apologizes for Holocaust comments
A leading candidate for mayor in Rome has apologized to the Jewish community over an article he wrote last year in which he suggested that victims of mass murders other than the Holocaust gain less attention because they “didn’t own banks.”

Jewish community leaders and others had decried the comments by Enrico Michetti, a radio host who is the center-right coalition’s candidate in the Oct. 17 and 18 mayoral election. He received more than 30% of votes in the election’s first round earlier this month, more than any other candidate.

“Each year, 40 Holocaust-related movies are shot, trips and cultural initiatives of all sorts are financed to commemorate that horrible persecution, and up to here, I have nothing to say,” Michetti wrote on the website of the radio station where he is a host. “But I wonder, why the same pity and the same consideration are not given to the dead killed in the foibe massacres [of Italians by Yugoslav Partisans], in the refugee camps, and in the mass murders that still take place in the world?”

Among the answers he offered: “Perhaps because they did not own banks, perhaps because they did not belong to lobbies capable of deciding the destinies of the planet.”

The comments, which were first identified and shared this week by Il Manifesto, a left-wing newspaper, echo the antisemitic trope that Jews control world financial systems. Jewish leaders were quick to condemn Michetti.

“The thought that our city institutions may be led by people whose thinking is imbued with prejudice makes us tremble,” said Noemi Di Segni, the president of the Union of Italian Jewish Communities. “The culture of dialogue and the education on the memory of what fascism was are key points also at the basis of people’s electoral choices.”
Will the Vatican ever pay Israel taxes due?
WHY DO churches insist that they are not obligated to pay taxes to the Jewish state, even though their scripture states that “…it is necessary to submit to authority, not only to avoid punishment, but also as a matter of conscience” (Romans 13:5)?

The church’s disregard of the law (international and Israeli), as well as its own teachings, means that Israeli citizens, whether they be Jews, Christians, or Muslims (of Jerusalem and elsewhere) are paying more than their share for sanitation, garbage collection, municipal services, and other taxes because of taxes that are not being paid by the church’s owned commercial businesses (shops, hotels, and restaurants). Ironically, this puts a harder economic burden on the poor, who the church is committed to serve.

In addition, it should be mentioned that there are an untold number and invaluable Jewish artifacts in the Vatican archives that have been plundered over the centuries. The importance to return all of the plundered Judaica objects d’art, texts, and artifacts cannot be over stressed. [See also Dr. Calvo’s above mentioned paper and my September 19, 2021 The Jerusalem Post article “Napoleon, Hitler, Vatican: All collectors”.]

From the Jewish perspective, all these plundered items are part of the Jewish identity, history, and holy religious practices. Many original Hebraic texts contain insight into Judaism as to how and why it is practiced today. These sacred religious artifacts and objects d’art depict Jewish communal life throughout the ages.

If the Vatican’s tax bill was NIS 650 million (about $186 million) in 2017, how much is owed now, including interest and penalties?

Perhaps the State of Israel could cut the Catholic Church a deal and offer a credit against the tax bill for the return of the Jewish treasures to the State of Israel.
Haaretz Amends Headline on Suspected Arsonist
In response to communication from CAMERA’s Israel office, Haaretz‘s English edition today amended a subheadline which irrelevantly reported that a suspected arsonist had been a resident of a West Bank facility while simultaneously omitting the salient fact that she had just escaped from a mental institution.

The headline and sub-headline stated: “Israeli Suspected of Arson as Firefighters Battle Jerusalem-Area Blaze: Resident of West Bank settlement arrested after blaze breaks out near Beit Shemesh, weeks after a mega-fire devastated parts of the Jerusalem Hills.”

As the article itself states in the second paragraph: “The suspect had escaped a mental institution, according to police.”

Clearly, the fact that the woman is mentally ill and escaped from a mental institution is much more relevant to the suspected arson than her previous place of residency in a West Bank settlement.

Indeed, following communication from Presspectiva, CAMERA’s Hebrew site, Haaretz‘s Hebrew edition commendably amended its headline Friday to state: “Fire breaks out in Jerusalem hills: A woman who escaped from a secure institution is suspected of the arson.”
PA says reopening US Consulate redivides Jerusalem
PA Prime Minister Muhammad Shtayyeh: “Why is the [US] Consulate [in Jerusalem] and its opening important to us? Because it is the American address for taking care of the Palestinian cause, far from the embassy that the US transferred from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem on the pretext that Jerusalem is one city. The message from this [new US] administration is that Jerusalem isn’t one [united Israeli] city and that the American administration does not recognize the annexation of Arab Jerusalem by the Israeli side. We want the American Consulate to constitute the seed of a US embassy in the State of Palestine.”

Biden Envoy Talked with PA about Dropping "Pay to Slay"
Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Israel and Palestinian Affairs Hady Amr discussed ending the Palestinian Authority’s monthly payments to convicted terrorists and their families in his meetings in the region this week.

Amr discussed “security, human rights and the rule of law, economic development, payments to individuals imprisoned for acts of terrorism, energy, water and humanitarian relief in Gaza” with Israeli and Palestinian officials, according to a statement from the US Embassy in Jerusalem.

A diplomatic source specified that Amr encouraged the Palestinians to end stipends to terrorists, which critics have nicknamed “pay for slay.” The Palestinian Authority pays convicted terrorists and the families of those killed while committing acts of terror a monthly sum. The living terrorists receive more depending on their prison sentence, meaning that the greater the severity of the crime – the more Israelis killed and wounded – the more they receive each month.

Israel’s National Bureau for Counter-Terror Financing in the Defense Ministry reported that the PA paid NIS 597 million ($185 million) in 2020. Amr’s “visit further sought ways to make tangible improvements for the Palestinian people with a view to preserving the vision of a negotiated two-state solution,” the US embassy stated.

His meetings in Jerusalem, Ramallah, Bethlehem and Tel Aviv “advanced our goals for achieving equal measures of security, freedom, opportunity, and dignity for Israelis and Palestinians,” the statement reads.

Within his discussions of economic development, Amr emphasized increasing tourism in Bethlehem, the diplomatic source said.
PMW: “Heroic prisoner sniper” - PA TV praises murderer of 10
During the Palestinian Authority’s 5-year terror campaign – the second Intifada (2000-2005) – one Palestinian terrorist murdered 3 Israeli civilians and 7 soldiers by shooting them with a sniper rifle from a hilltop in Wadi Al-Haramiya between Ramallah and Nablus. His name was Thaer Hammad and he is serving 11 life sentences in an Israeli prison. He is also one of the PA’s terrorist darlings.

Thus official PA TV glorified him as the “heroic prisoner sniper” on the 18th anniversary of his imprisonment:
Official PA TV host: “Eighteen years since the imprisonment of heroic prisoner sniper Thaer Hammad. The one who carried out the Wadi Al-Haramiya operation that defended our people from the occupation’s worst checkpoint at the time. This picture was shared by activists and gained many shares yesterday.”

Text on screen showing social media posts: “Thaer Hammad, the hero of Wadi Al-Haramiya, began his 18th year in the occupation’s prisons”

[Official PA TV, Palestine This Morning, Oct. 5, 2021]

Earlier this year, when preparing for elections and recognizing the popularity of murderers of Israelis among the Palestinian public, Abbas’ Fatah Movement enlisted murderer Hammad to promote Fatah’s election campaign:
Below terrorist murderer Hammad is Fatah’s logo.

Text on image: “I am a son of Fatah, and I will applaud none but it. I am committed to the decisions of Fatah’s bodies and to Fatah’s one and only [election] list. This is a revolution until victory

Prisoner leader Thaer Hammad

#I_will_vote – Fatah”

[Facebook page of the Fatah Commission of Information and Culture, April 4, 2021]

Analysis: Arabs Ease Assad’s Isolation as US Looks Elsewhere
While Bashar al-Assad is still shunned by the West, which blames him for a decade of brutal civil war in Syria, a shift is under way in the Middle East, where Arab allies of the United States are bringing him in from the cold by reviving economic and diplomatic ties.

The extension of Assad’s two-decade-old presidency in an election in May did little to break his pariah status among Western states, but fellow Arab leaders are coming to terms with the fact that he retains a solid grip on power.

The chaotic US withdrawal from Afghanistan has firmed up a belief among Arab leaders that they need to chart their own course. Anticipating a more hands-off approach from Washington, now preoccupied with the challenge of China, Arab leaders are driven by their own priorities, notably how to rehabilitate economies hammered by years of conflict and COVID-19.

Political considerations also loom large in Arab capitals such as Cairo, Amman, and Abu Dhabi. These include their ties with Assad’s most powerful backer, Russia, which has been pressing for Syria’s reintegration, and how to counter the influence carved out in Syria by Iran and Turkey.

Turkey and its support for Sunni Islamists across the region — including a swathe of northern Syria that remains outside Assad’s grasp — is of particular concern to Arab rulers, who can make common cause with Damascus against Islamist groups.

But while the signs of Arab rapprochement with Damascus are growing — King Abdullah of Jordan spoke to Assad for the first time in a decade this month — US policy will remain a complicating factor.
Seth Fratzman: Lebanon perpetual crisis is Iran’s ploy
One can draw a clear line between the increase of Hezbollah’s power in Lebanon and the consequent increase in economic and other crises affecting the country. It is true that not every time two things coincide there is necessarily a correlation. However, it appears that Hezbollah’s role is the key to the hollowing out and destruction of Lebanon.

There are several facts here. Lebanon recently went days without power, and the army is now supplying fuel. However, that doesn’t solve the long-term energy problem and the country’s debts. Lebanon has trouble importing fuel supplies, and the power stations are out of fuel. This has set Lebanon on the path to constant and increasing crises. Yet it is not some blockaded country, such as the Hamas-run Gaza Strip.

It’s worth considering this fact: Hamas, like Hezbollah, is backed by Iran and has been encouraged to fight Israel at the cost of harming the people it governs. That means the destruction of Lebanon and Gaza is in Iran’s interests.

However, whereas Gaza is indeed under blockade and has a constant fuel and electricity crisis, there is no excuse for why Lebanon has become an economic basket case. There are Lebanese who are incredibly wealthy abroad, and there is evidence that many have simply sent their money abroad, not investing in the failing state.

At the same time, Hezbollah has sponged up what remains in Lebanon, grabbing political power and leveraging it to have a stranglehold on the presidency and other parts of government, conducting its own foreign policy and involving Lebanon in the troubles of Syria’s civil war.

Israel Still Fears U.S. Approach to Iran
U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan and his Israeli counterpart, Eyal Hulata, and their teams met in the White House on Oct. 5 and discussed Iran. Diplomatic sources say the realization is growing that Israel and the U.S. aren't on the same page and their strategic perceptions of the Iranian nuclear threat differ substantially. A senior Israeli defense official described the situation to Al-Monitor:
"The atmosphere was very friendly and open, the messages were conveyed, but in terms of substance, the situation is bad. Perhaps even very bad. Right now, there is no joint operational contingency plan against Iran should efforts to return to the nuclear agreement fail. And even worse, the Americans do not have any solution whatsoever to such a situation. They do not have a Plan B. They do not have alternatives, and what is truly troubling is that they are not really concerned about it."

"True, the Americans continue to stress - at our request - that if the diplomatic path fails to yield results, there are other options, but it is not clear whether they mean it. They are not focused on Iran, they are focused on China and domestic U.S. issues....The severity of the situation does not really trouble them; they do not think that American national security is under threat of an Iranian nuclear effort."

Israel has been presenting the Americans with massive quantities of fresh intelligence. Israel is one of the world's largest repositories of intelligence information on the Iran nuclear issue, after Iran reportedly cracked and brought down a major U.S. intelligence network operating there. Israel is focused on proving Iran's true intentions of acquiring a military nuclear capability, and illustrating the potential results of its success. "We are simply trying to prove to them that the Iranian saga could end up like the North Korean one," the Israeli official said.


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