Thursday, December 16, 2021

From Ian:

Israeli Military Leaders: Biden Nuclear Deal Poses ‘Significant Threat to Israel’s Security’
A group of nearly 3,000 Israeli military leaders, soldiers, commanders, and intelligence officials are warning the Biden administration and Democrats in Congress that a new nuclear deal with Iran poses "a significant threat to Israel's security."

These leaders, who organized under the umbrella group Israel's Defense and Security Forum (IDSF), raise concerns that the United States will sign a deal that gives Iran the cash assets needed to fund terrorism and put it on a glide path to a nuclear weapon that will be used to destroy the Jewish state, according to a letter sent last week to Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman Bob Menendez (D., N.J.) and senior Biden administration officials.

The 2015 nuclear accord "is fatally flawed and represents a significant threat to Israel's security," the Israeli leaders write, according to a copy of the letter obtained by the Washington Free Beacon. "Returning to this expired and flawed agreement would be a grave mistake." Iran's only goal, they say, is to create a "nuclear umbrella under which Tehran can dominate the region."

The letter, sent on Dec. 9, comes as the Biden administration continues its diplomatic effort to secure a revamped nuclear deal with Iran, which would lift sanctions on the hardline regime and provide it with billions of dollars in cash assets. The Israeli government has expressed its fear about a new deal, but the IDSF letter outlines in the clearest terms to date what the Jewish state expects from the Biden administration if it follows through with negotiations. Concerns about a new deal have been growing as Iran boosts its enrichment of uranium, the central fuel for an atomic weapon, even as it participates in talks with the United States.

As the Biden administration considers inking a temporary deal that places fewer restrictions on Iran's nuclear program, the Israeli generals warn that this type of agreement "would fuel Iran's already recovering economy and leave Israel in an unacceptably precarious situation."
The Iranian Threat Cannot be Underestimated
As we enter the new year, Israel’s strategic position is sound, but fragile and facing many challenges. Sound, because despite the events of the past year, Israel ends 2021 with its diplomatic standing strong, its economy robust and its military power established beyond doubt. Israel continues to harvest the fruits of its diplomatic achievements, of the perception of its prowess and of being a nation of innovation and technology.

Fragile in view of the large number of volatile issues that it faces, the connections between them and the broad implications of each. Above all, of course, the Iranian nuclear issue on which we are approaching a decisive point, and where tensions are increasing in the diplomatic arena and on the security front.

That Israel faces many challenges seems to always be the case. But at this time, among those challenges is the need to tread lightly on every level, from the strategic to the operative planes. Some of the challenges the country currently faces involve decisions on issues within the Israeli sphere itself.

The unity of Israeli society is essential to our national resilience. This is true at any time, and all the more so because of the challenges that the political-security reality may spring upon us. The tensions between Jews and Arabs in mixed cities since “Operation Guardian of the Walls” in May, the decline in the sense of personal safety, the apparent decline in governability and the increase in serious crime in the Arab sector have created new fissures and deepened existing ones. These are the results of internal polarization.

The situation assessment on this matter necessitates a change of approach, and addressing these issues must be among the government’s primary goals for the coming year.
Gantz was warning Washington, not Tehran
If, as the Times reports, the Israelis fear that the United States is currently conducting secret back-channel diplomatic discussions with Iran that will lead to renewed public negotiations, whose outcome will be a pre-ordained surrender of Western interests, then they have good reason to think so.

That's what happened nine years ago when President Barack Obama was conducting his successful re-election campaign in 2012. During his foreign-policy debate with Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, Obama promised that any nuclear agreement with Iran would mean the end of Tehran's nuclear program. But he was already planning on ignoring that pledge. Senior White House Advisor Valerie Jarrett was conducting backchannel talks with the Iranians and preparing the way for a deal that would contradict Obama's avowals. By the time new talks had convened in 2013, the Western slide to surrender to Iranian demands was a fait accompli.

While Jarrett is no longer on the federal payroll, most of the same cast of characters that were running foreign policy for Obama are doing the same for Biden. There's every reason to believe that when their obsession for diplomacy for its own sake is stymied, their reaction will be to again double down on appeasement rather than honestly confront their mistakes and seek a different course.

The Israelis know their window for both attempts to influence Biden and/or to take action on their own may be closing. Once the United States and Iran are back in Vienna and moving towards concluding another nuclear pact that won't actually stop Iran's march to a nuclear weapon, it may be too late for the Israelis to act.

Just as troubling is the likelihood that the Americans aren't taking Gantz's threats seriously. They know how difficult a military campaign to take out Iran's nuclear facilities would be even with the much greater forces that the United States can bring to bear on the problem than Israel. And, as the Israelis are finding out, American opposition to Israeli action can be made clear in ways other than diplomatic exchanges. As the Times later reported, the Americans are stalling on delivering new refueling tanker planes that will be needed if Israel is to attack Iran. That won't impact events in the short term. But it is, at the very least, a symbolic gesture intended to warn the Jewish state to defer to Washington, even if it means sacrificing their defense interests.
Elliott Abrams: Two Signs the Palestinian Issue Is Rapidly Losing Its Importance to World Politics
But will it? Seven months ago Secretary of State Blinken told the PA that the Consulate General would be reopened, something he could have done with the stroke of a pen. He has not moved, and there is little likelihood that he will do so soon. The one reversion to the previous system is that the Palestinian Affairs Unit in the U.S. Embassy now reports directly to Washington, as the Consulate General did.

Why has the Biden administration not moved? There has been “strong pushback” from Israel, and not just from the political Right. Cooler heads in the administration have wondered whether this is the issue—rather than, for example, Iran’s nuclear program, or even settlement expansion—on which to fight Israel’s coalition government.

Reopening the Consulate General now would be a foolish and damaging move. It would bring little or no concrete benefit to Palestinians, and could create a firestorm in Israeli politics. The United States would need Israeli permission for the move, and insisting on getting it would put the coalition government in the position of flatly saying no to Biden and the United States, or saying yes and opening itself to murderous criticism from Likud and former prime minister Netanyahu. The arguments are obvious: allowing the establishment of a separate diplomatic mission to the PA would suggest that the move of the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, the acknowledgment of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, and the indivisibility of Jerusalem are once again open issues. No Israeli government can agree to all that and survive.

The Palestinian issue has not at all disappeared (and incantations of dedication to the “two-state solution” continue), but as 2021 ends it lacks the power and salience it has held for decades. A GCC summit fails to mention the subject. A U.S. administration pledges to reopen its diplomatic mission to the PA but simply fails to do so. No one is forgetting the subject, but it is perhaps being reduced to its proper size on the global diplomatic agenda. If Arab states, and the United States, avoid symbolic politics and rewards for PA officials who represent mostly their own personal and party interests, and concentrate instead on actions that might actually benefit the Palestinian people, the latter will in the end be the beneficiaries.
Report: US Embassy's Palestinian Affairs Unit to report directly to Washington
The US suspended its efforts to reopen an independent diplomatic mission in the capital that would serve Palestinians, the Times of Israel reported on Wednesday.

According to the report, President Joe Biden's administration has yet to make a final decision on aborting these efforts. However, sources told the paper that for all intents and purposes the election pledge has been put on hold and that for the time being, the Palestinian Affairs Unit within the embassy will handle Palestinian matters and will report directly to Washington, like the US Consulate General did until it was shut down.

That independent Consulate General, which reported directly to the State Department rather than to the ambassador, was folded into the US Embassy in 2019 after then-President Donald Trump moved the ambassador's residence and official offices to the capital.

The Biden administration's efforts to reopen it have been met by strong opposition within Israel and among Israeli allies in the US, and according to the report in the Times of Israel, the apparent suspension comes in response to pressure from pro-Israel advocacy groups and Republican lawmakers in the US Congress.

According to one source who spoke with TOI, the US's posture comes in anticipation of a rift with Israel over Iran and the administration prefers to avoid another point of friction with the Jewish state.

The Forgotten History of the Term "Palestine"
In 135 CE, after stamping out the province of Judea's second insurrection, the Romans renamed the province Syria Palaestina - Palestinian Syria - as a punishment, to obliterate the link between the Jews and the province. "Palaestina" referred to the Philistines, whose home base had been on the Mediterranean coast, but no nation has ever had that name.

Since biblical times, Palestine was understood to span the Jordan River. It was common to call the one bank Western Palestine and the other Eastern Palestine. According to the Bible, the Israelite tribes of Reuben, Gad, and Menasseh held land east of the Jordan River. Before World War I, no books described that river as Palestine's eastern boundary. In other words, the Jordan River did not bound Palestine; it bisected it.
Ray Hanania: Time for Palestinians to Stop Just Saying "No"
Peace between Israel and the Palestinians has not been achieved because the Palestinians never really tried to negotiate or offer ideas. Palestinians always start their "negotiations" from the point of suffering and conflict, making their situation worse. They increase their negative rhetoric, believing it would enhance public support. It didn't. No one likes a complainer, especially one that refuses to engage.

The word "no" is not a strategy. It is a symbol of weakness, not a substitute for effective or strategic leadership. Palestinians need to silence fanatics who beat the drums of anger, hate and emotion as tools to empower themselves. The only way peace works is if Palestinians stop saying "no" and start engaging.
Are Arab Citizens of Israel Palestinians?
The Arab community comprises 20% of Israel's population. To some activists and journalists, they are simply "Palestinians," separate and alienated from broader Israeli society. But that's not what many tell pollsters. In 2019, a survey by progressive pollsters Dahlia Scheindlin and David Reis found that while 14% of Arabs in Israel identified as "Palestinian," 19% preferred "Palestinian-Israeli," 22% went with "Arab," and 46% chose "Arab-Israeli." In 2020, a survey by top Israeli pollster Professor Camil Fuchs offered more options. 23% picked "Israeli," 15% chose "Arab," 51% opted for "Arab-Israeli," and just 7% went with "Palestinian."

Already in 2017, polls found that 60% of Arab citizens held a positive view of the Israeli state. 63% of Arabs said that Israel was a "positive" place to live, compared with 34% who said it was not. Another survey that year found that 51% of Arabs in Israel described themselves as "quite proud" or "very proud" to be Israeli, while 56% characterized the country's situation as "good" or "very good."
PreOccupiedTerritory: Man Whose Ancestors Migrated From Arabia In 1800s Proud Of His Ancient Palestinian Indigeneity (satire)
A descendant of an influential Bedouin clan speaks of his prestigious origins at any given opportunity, observers report, especially their pedigree as native to Palestine from time immemorial, specifically from the nineteenth century CE when elements of that clan migrated northwest along the eastern Red Sea coast into the Levant and Egypt.

Mustafa Erakat, a distant cousin to the late Palestinian official Saeb Erekat and several other prominent Palestinian public figures, boasted yet again on Thursday to all within earshot that as a scion of the Howeitat Bedouin, who migrated over the last several hundred years out of Arabia and into what is now Israel and Jordan, he holds a high societal rank among Bedouin tribes, who were here long before the usurper Zionists came along and returned to the land that was Jewish only starting about three and a half thousand years ago.

“Palestinians are the indigenous people of this land, and I am part of the cream of that people,” he insisted at a funeral gathering for a man who met his end trying to run over Israeli soldiers with a car. “My clan has been here forever, starting about a hundred-fifty years ago when some of them began to abandon the pastoral life of traditional Bedouin and settled into more-or-less permanent villages up and down the Red Sea and pots north. We’re still pretty big in Jordan.”
Italy to probe claims government enabled 1982 terror attack on Rome synagogue
An Italian government body that oversees the activities of the country’s intelligence agencies will probe documents published last week that appear to confirm long-held accusations that Italy agreed on a deal not to interfere with Palestinian terror attacks on Jewish targets, including a deadly assault on a Rome synagogue in 1982.

The documents showed that Italian intelligence had clear information on the planned attack on the synagogue, in which a 2-year-old boy was killed, but did not stop it, and police even reduced security around the house of worship.

“Thirty-nine years after the terror attack in the synagogue of Rome, the time has come for us to hear the truth,” Enrico Borghi, a member of the Italian Parliamentary Committee for the Security of the Republic (COPASIR) told the La Repubblica newspaper Thursday.

“A state must fully come to terms with its own history,” Borghi added to the newspaper, as the committee began laying the groundwork ahead of officially probing the recently released documents, Channel 12 news reported, citing Italian media.

The allegations have been known since 2008, when former Italian prime minister and president Francesco Cossiga told the Israeli newspaper Yedioth Aharonoth that Italy had “sold out its Jews” and signed a deal that gave Palestinian terror groups a “free hand” to operate against Jewish and Israeli targets in Italy in exchange for not attacking other Italian interests.
For 4th time, Republican senator blocks passage of Iron Dome funding bill
Republican Senator Rand Paul blocked a fourth consecutive request by Democrats Wednesday to pass legislation granting $1 billion in supplemental funding for Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system.

As he has argued the previous time he blocked the unanimous consent measure in the past two months, Paul insisted that the funding come out of the $6 billion in proposed US assistance to Afghanistan.

Democrats came under fire from pro-Israel groups in early October after House leadership briefly delayed a vote on the bill amid opposition from a handful of progressive members. However, the funding went on to pass overwhelmingly 420-9-2, moving to the Senate, where it has since been held up by Paul.

The Iron Dome funding bill is still certain to pass, but it will likely require a floor vote, as it did in the House. A Senate source told Jewish Insider that may have to wait until February, when the legislation can be added to the omnibus spending package.

Once the bill is approved by the Senate, it will be brought to US President Joe Biden for his signature. The president has already vowed to approve the funding.
Why do nations join bizarre UN votes against Israel?
Most of the countries that vote consistently with the Palestinians have excellent and growing bilateral relations with the Jewish state. They know that Israel does not have the power, interest or diplomatic clout to leverage relations against UN voting patterns. The Arab and Muslim side has significant leverage and is not afraid to use it.

As an example, in 2013, Arab nations were looking to retaliate against Canada's then-perceived pro-Israel position by stripping it of its role as host of the UN International Civil Aviation Organization, whose headquarters have been in Montreal since 1947. Arab ambassadors to the United Nations started openly attacking Canada, including bringing in other countries to vote against Ottawa in international organizations, according to the Globe and Mail's report of that meeting.

This sent a message not just to Canada but to all those they deemed not obedient enough to any Palestinian position. Nations understood that sanctions and other measures can be taken against them whenever they are deemed too distant from Palestinian positions and not sufficiently supportive of delegitimization of the Jewish state.

The next time you wonder why so many UN votes go against Israel – whether in the General Assembly, the Human Rights Council or any of dozens of international agencies that dictate the global agenda – these simple truths point to the source of the intellectual dishonesty and injustice. The global infrastructure has simply been hijacked by the Palestinian narrative.

Moreover, we Americans should thank our democratically elected politicians who continue to support Israel in the United Nations, defying massive pressure – and we should never take it for granted. The battle for the hearts and minds of American voters and our representatives against Israel's enemies must be fought daily.

5,000-Word Human Rights Watch Report on Israeli ‘Abusive Policing’ Fails to Condemn Arab Violence
Human Rights Watch (HRW) continues its all-out assault against Israel.

As Gaza Strip-based terrorist groups in May fired thousands of rockets at Israeli population centers, another dangerous front opened up in the conflict that would last 11 days. With Hamas’ encouragement, Arab Israelis in Lod, Acre, Jaffa, Haifa and other so-called mixed communities carried out what have been described as “pogroms” against Jews and their property. The mayor of Lod, a town in central Israel, compared the days-long unrest in his city to “Kristallnacht” and warned of a civil war.

The massive wave of anti-Jewish violence was followed by some attacks by far-right Jewish mobs that Israeli politicians across the political spectrum immediately denounced in the strongest terms.

However, HonestReporting noted at the time that, according to data released by the Fire and Rescue Services, Arab violence exceeded the Jewish response by a hundredfold.

Yet Human Rights Watch, in its latest report titled, “Israel: Abusive Policing in Lod During May Hostilities,” did not even bother to include these crucial facts. Instead, the 5,000-word paper presents the Israeli perspective as being “inaccurate and inflammatory.” At the same time, the New York-based group relies on questionable pro-Palestinian sources to conclude that law enforcement agencies responded to May’s events in an “apparently discriminatory manner.”
Prosecutors to indict 14-year-old Palestinian girl for stabbing attack
Prosecutors plan to indict a 14-year-old Palestinian girl who stabbed a Jewish woman in Jerusalem last week, police said Thursday.

According to police, the girl planned the morning of the attack to carry out the stabbing, and followed her target — 26-year-old Moriah Cohen — for several minutes before stabbing her in the back in the flashpoint Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood, where they both live.

Cohen — who was with her children at the time of the attack — was treated at the hospital and released the same day.

The stabber fled the scene and hid out in her school, where she swapped clothes with a friend, police said in a statement, adding that some of the clothes were found in several locations around the school, including in the principal’s office. The friend is also expected to be indicted, police said.

The attacker’s remand has been extended for an additional five days until Monday, when she is expected to be indicted.
2 Hamas spies ordered to gather intel on Iron Dome batteries, Shin Bet says
Israeli security forces apprehended two men suspected of spying for Hamas, the Israel Security Agency revealed on Thursday, saying the two were arrested on Nov. 29 following a joint operation with the police.

The suspects were identified as Hassin Biari, 30, an Arab Israeli resident of Jaffa, and Mahmoud Ahmad, 33, from the Gaza Strip.

According to available details, the investigations has uncovered evidence that the two were enlisted as agents by the terrorist group controlling Gaza over the fact that both could move freely across the country – Biari as a citizen and Ahmad using his work permit.

The Shin Bet named their handler as Mahmad Halawa – a known Hamas operative based in Gaza.

The investigation so far has revealed that the two met with Halawa in Gaza where he gave them their missions. They later maintained "ongoing secret and operational contact with their operators," the security agency said.

Information available on the investigation said that Ahmad's revealed that he had been enlisted by Hamas in 2019 and was tasked, among other things, with gathering information on the location of Iron Dome batteries across Israel.

He also admitted that, on orders from his handler, he secretly photograph IDF soldiers at the Central Bus Station in Ashkelon.

Biari reportedly told investigators that he was recruited by Hamas earlier this year and was tasked with gathering intelligence on IDF bases, Iron Dome batteries and locations where soldiers gather, such as bus stops.

He further told reporters that he was tasked with instigating unrest among Arab Israelis, obtaining weapons, and carrying out a terrorist attack in Israel.
Israel's intelligence arrests two Hamas operatives spying in Israel
Analysis by Col. (Res.) Olivier Rafowicz, Senior Security & Military Consultant; also speaks about Israel strikes in Syria

Report: Israel ‘Concerned’ Hezbollah Could Obtain Chemical Weapons From Syria
Israel is concerned about the prospect of Hezbollah operatives entrenched in Lebanon gaining access to chemical weapons, Walla reported on Tuesday.

The report came one day after The Washington Post reported that Syrian chemical weapons targets were attacked by Israel in 2020 and 2021.

Citing a security source, Walla stated that while chemical weapons have in recent years been used against opposition figures and global jihadist organizations in Syria, Israel is concerned by the prospect of such weapons “reaching Hezbollah’s hands.”

The source told Walla that Syrian President Bashar Assad “has big internal problems,” adding that Assad was seeking to stabilize his regime after years of civil war that began in 2011 with the start of the Arab Spring.

“He is mainly busy with rebuilding the destroyed country. The last thing he wants to deal with is Israel,” said the source.

That assessment, however, does not rule out an attempt to transfer dangerous weapons to Syria, according to the report.

The report also stated that the Assad regime possesses extensive knowledge on various types of chemical and biological weapons, which the country has possessed for decades, from the time of Hafez Assad, Bashar Assad’s father and longtime ruler, who died in 2000.
Seth Frantzman: Drone attacks on US in Syria are designed to harass America into leaving
The increasing role of drones everywhere in the world is now widely known. Ken Dilanian covered “killer drones” at NBC recently with a look at the Switchblade 300. Adam Kredo at the online Washington Free Beacon wrote this week about Iranian “drone armies” and a “surge of attacks” on US forces in the region.

A group of Republican lawmakers is demanding answers from the Biden administration about how it is working to counter these threats. The lawmakers – Reps. Bryan Steil (R–Wisconsin), Joe Wilson (R–South Carolina), Brian Babin (R–Texas), and Andrew Clyde (R–Georgia) – wrote a letter on Tuesday to the State Department demanding answers for why these strikes have gone unpunished. "These include a strike against an alleged CIA hangar in Erbil, Iraq, in April and the Baghdad airport this June.”

The US and Israel are practicing with lasers to confront drone threats, either in the air or at sea. Russia has been showcasing its new Okhotnik drone while Tyler Rogoway recently covered two new secret drone programs that may be part of the new US Air Force budget. Israeli counter-drone technology also helped protect the pope, according to a recent article at The Jerusalem Post.

The drone threat to US forces in Syria, and America's successful interceptions of them, is just one part of the drone war. However, when it comes to strategy, the overall goal of the Iran drone campaign is to spread threats from the Gulf of Oman to Syria, be able to target US forces at will and to strike commercial targets like ships. Iran used drones to hit a commercial tanker in July, killing two people, and has not been held accountable for these strikes.
Police arrest Jewish Temple Mount 'infiltrators' dressed as Muslims
Police have arrested two members of a group of Jewish Israelis who pretend to be Muslims in order to "infiltrate" onto the Temple Mount and pray after the group was uncovered in a report by Channel 13.

Jews are forbidden by Israel Police regulations from praying or bringing religious items on the Temple Mount. While the High Court of Justice has ruled that Jews have the right to pray at the site, it has also ruled that the right is superseded by the potential risk to national security it poses.

The group learns Arabic and Muslim traditions and dresses in Muslim religious attire in order to enter the Temple Mount freely and then pray on the Temple Mount. A video report by Channel 13 showed an instructor teaching youths how to dress and act in order to enter the Temple Mount freely.

"There are five basic things that we will learn and invest in. The first is language. The second is behavior. Within the area of the Old City, we do not act like Jews. There is an east Jerusalem street culture that we need to act according to. We will also learn about Islam itself, the verses and the surah that they say in prayer," said the instructor in a recording published by Channel 13.

Police work intensively to combat the group, often bringing them to court and even jailing them for a number of days.

PMW: Fatah brainwashes 4th grade girls that Israel's destruction is inevitable
To “establish love of the homeland” and “emphasize the firm truth that is not negotiable” that all of Israel is “Palestine,” Fatah held a “national educational activity” for fourth grade girls. The girls made “dummy Palestinian identity cards” with Palestinian flags on them and posed with them on the background of drawings and signs featuring keys symbolizing the Palestinian refugees’ “right of return.”

PA Chairman Abbas’ Fatah explained the goal of the activity as follows, stressing the denial of Israel's right to exist and that its destruction is inevitable:
“The goal of this idea is to establish love of the homeland among the female students, to strengthen their affiliation with all accessible means, and to emphasize the firm truth that is not negotiable, and it is that Palestine is Arab from its [Jordan] River to its [Mediterranean] Sea, its capital is Jerusalem, and that it will be liberated sooner or later.”

[Facebook, Fatah's Lion Cubs and Flowers children's movement, Nov. 28, 2021]

Palestinian Media Watch has reported numerous times on the PA and Fatah’s education of children to envision a world without Israel and recently exposed that Fatah’s magazine Waed for 6-15-year-olds promotes this idea too.

Text on signs: “The right of return is a sacred right
We will triumph without a doubt, whether it takes a long time or not
The key of return is still in the hand of the diaspora,
embracing the memory of the land
Palestinian identity
The key of return – returning”

Text on large sign: “Returning – May 15, 1948 – Palestine
We will return without a doubt
Palestine – I am the land, and the land is you”

Poll: Egyptians Dislike both Iran and Israel
A public opinion poll of Egyptians conducted in November 2021, commissioned by the Washington Institute, found that improved economic and diplomatic dealings with Israel have not enhanced Israel's popular image in Egypt.

63% of Egyptians agree that "Wherever Iran intervenes, it hurts the local Arabs and doesn't help the Palestinians." Only 12% of Egyptians say good relations with Iran are important.

Just 12% of Egyptians have a positive view of Israel's new peace accords with other Arab countries, down from 25% in November 2020.

Moreover, only 12% of Egyptians support greater normalization with Israel, such as in sports or business contacts.

AP’s Most Inappropriate ‘Final Goodbye’ to Hezbollah Founder
New York Times’ ‘Philosopher,’ Washington Post’s ‘Austere Religious Scholar’
AP’s linguistic sleight of hand brings to mind The New York Times’ recent portrayal of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, the assassinated mastermind of Iran’s illicit nuclear weapons program, as having “wanted to live a normal life,” someone who enjoyed poetry, studying Islamic philosophy, and spending time with family.

Another example of terrorism being sugarcoated by the media occurred in 2019. The Washington Post (WaPo) was lambasted for a headline that described Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who was killed in a US raid, as an ‘austere religious scholar.’ Though WaPo quickly amended the headline, the damage had been done.

Once again, a prominent news organization had trouble calling out a terrorist for who he was.

AP Sanitizes Hezbollah, Ignores Plight of Lebanese People
Given the arsenal it has amassed, combat experience, and support from Iran, Hezbollah presents a serious threat to Israel’s security and the well-being of the country’s citizens. But AP’s whitewashing also serves to diminish Hezbollah’s role in the Lebanese people’s growing poverty and despair. Many of Lebanon’s six million citizens are increasingly blaming AP’s “militant” group for multiple crises plaguing the country, including a dramatic currency crash and severe shortages in medicine and fuel.

In next year’s annual roundup, The Associated Press should take better care to distinguish between people who changed the world for the better and those who spent their lives inflicting misery and spreading hatred.
Lebanese Man Sentenced to Prison for Marrying Palestinian with Israeli Passport
A military court in Beirut sentenced Muhammad Youssef Bannout on Friday to one year in prison and a fine of 500,000 Lebanese pounds ($330) for marrying a Palestinian woman living in Germany who holds Israeli citizenship.

The 1955 Boycott Law prohibits any type of dealing with Israeli entities and Lebanon and Israel are technically still in a state of war.

Iran's Nukes: This Time the Wolf Is Here
Iran's nuclear weapons program is no longer years or even decades away from completion, but on the verge of a real breakout. And its ideological commitment to Israel's destruction is as intense as ever, buttressed by a far-flung network of deadly missiles, militias, and other military means.

Iran is closer than ever to a nuclear bomb: probably only weeks away from enough 90% enriched uranium, and a few months away from its crude weaponization. Any "compromise" that leaves Iran with these capabilities guarantees that it will remain a nuclear threshold state. Thus, the imperative today is not merely to freeze, but to roll back, at least some of Tehran's advances from the past two years.

Still, even if a new deal is achieved, that almost certainly means that Iran will retain much of the material and the know-how needed to break out toward a bomb relatively quickly someday. Once again, a deal would only buy time, without resolving the problem.
Can the Iranian nuclear talks in Vienna be saved? - analysis
Reading the headlines from Iran negotiations in Vienna this week, one can’t help but get a sense of déjà vu. Once again, there were threats of a special IAEA Board of Governors meeting to condemn the Islamic Republic for not allowing the International Atomic Energy Agency to monitor its nuclear program.

And once again, those threats have dissolved because of a compromise, for the fourth time this year, involving cameras with footage the IAEA can’t actually monitor in real-time. In this case, Tehran agreed to let the agency install cameras that had previously been removed from the Karaj nuclear site.

And each time, the specter of the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action nuclear deal between world powers and Iran has hovered over the IAEA monitoring compromise. If Iran is pushed too hard on this matter, the logic seems to be, then they won’t come to the table to revive the JCPOA. So, the US and others accept this compromise, which only gives the IAEA theoretical access to information about some of Iran’s nuclear sites at some future date, without raising a faint note of protest at the IAEA Board of Governors or, God forbid, at the UN Security Council – and negotiations in Vienna are allowed to continue.

But are the Vienna talks even salvageable at this point?

Negotiations between world powers and Iran resumed over two weeks ago and, as Western diplomats would tell it, have accomplished nothing.

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