Monday, December 27, 2021

12/27 Links Pt1: PA seeks to undo the result of Balfour Declaration and have Israel “disappear”; 'Iran deal put us on cruise control heading over a cliff,' former envoy warns

From Ian:

PMW: PA seeks to undo the result of Balfour Declaration and have Israel “disappear”
PA school kids taught that the Balfour Declaration is:
“The filthiest colonialist promise in human history”
“the ugliest historical injustice”
“Palestine is ours and will not be a homeland of the Jews”
“We will give our children’s blood” to undo Balfour Declaration, says Fatah official in Gaza
Girl from Fatah calls Balfour “a traitor of humanity,” vows to “fight… with the blood of Martyrs” to erase Israel
The Balfour Declaration was “a declaration of war against Palestine” – editorial in official PA daily
The Balfour Declaration helped Europeans realize two goals: “Get rid of the Jewish problem in Europe” and “ensure their colonialist interests in the Near East and Far East” – columnist in official PA daily
Fatah: “The Balfour Promise was and will remain the most shocking crime in modern human history” whose goal was “to empty the land of Palestine of its people” and “build a military apparatus” so that the Jews “would fulfill a role for the global colonialist system”

'Iran deal put us on cruise control heading over a cliff,' former envoy warns
Former Israeli Ambassador to the US Ron Dermer this week defended his government's positions that encouraged the United States to leave the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, and supported Israel's current position that the US must leave a military option on the table and signal that Iran cannot develop nuclear weapons.

Speaking on Tuesday in a Zoom seminar held by the Jewish Institute for National Security of America (JINSA), in conversation with JINSA President and CEO Michael Makovsky, the former envoy said he stands by his previously expressed stance that US withdrawal from the deal (also known as the JCPOA) under the Trump administration was the single-most important decision that any president had made for Israel's national security.

While that decision didn't end the Iranian threat, it was a "critical means to an end" because the JCPOA provided a legal framework for Iran to achieve nuclear status once the deal's provisions ended, rather than block it entirely, he said.

"Because what the deal did is it put restrictions on Iran's nuclear program for a limited number of years, and those restrictions would be automatically removed," said Dermer, who served as ambassador from 2013-2021 before joining JINSA as a non-resident distinguished fellow at the JINSA Gemunder Center. "And contrary to what many people believe, the nuclear deal did not freeze Iran's program."

Under the accord, Dermer explained, Iran "was allowed to do research and development on more and more advanced centrifuges. So, the nuclear deal with Iran enabled Iran to advance their nuclear program, under the imprimatur of the international community – essentially gave a kosher stamp to Iran moving on a path not just on one bomb but to an entire nuclear arsenal."

Makovsky said that Iran is getting very close to a nuclear bomb, having enriched Uranium to 90% – one of the red lines that those discussing Iran were hoping would not be reached.

Dermer noted that even according to former President Barack Obama, whose administration helped negotiate the agreement, when the deal's provisions were scheduled to sunset, Iran would have had a breakout time of zero.
Experts View Iran's Advance toward Nuclear Weapons
Sima Shine - head of the Iran program at Israel's Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) and former head of the research and evaluation division at the Mossad - explained earlier this month that Israel is faced with three main issues with regard to Iran: the nuclear program; the fact that Iran is close to Israel's borders in Lebanon, Syria and Gaza; and Iranian cyberattacks against Israeli infrastructure and civilian entities. "The closer Iran gets to a nuclear weapon, the more temptation there is to get there," she added.

Elliott Abrams, former U.S. special representative for Iran, said, "We see the behavior of Iran in Syria, Lebanon, Gaza and Yemen. All of this is undertaken without nuclear weapons. One therefore must ask oneself: What would Iranian behavior be like if it felt safer because it had a nuclear weapon?"

He noted that it would be "destabilizing and terribly undermining of U.S. leadership and credibility if all of these pledges and promises by American presidents over the years turn out to be hollow, and it turns out they can be defied by Iran with no impact or reaction on the part of the United States."

The world order "is largely based on the credibility of the U.S., and if that credibility disappears, we have a whole different world....An Iranian nuclear weapon, in the teeth of the American pledge 'this will never be permitted to happen,' would really do damage to America's interests throughout the world."

RAF strengthens ties with Israeli air force
It follows a deepening of UK-Israeli relations which culminated in the recent signing of a new 10-year trade and defence pact, and which began with the UK adopting its post-Brexit Global Britain strategy, Israel's former ambassador said last night. “I witnessed a consistent incremental upgrading of the defence relationship throughout my time in London, which began in 2016," said Mark Regev, Israel's ambassador to London until last year.

“We already had a positive relationship, and have always cooperated in the intelligence and cyber spheres.

“When we started to see foreign fighters possibly going back from Syria to their countries of origin, that was valuable. I have no doubt that this intel saved lives.

“But I saw an extension of the areas where we cooperate and the depth of that cooperation - particularly in military-to-military operations.

“More Royal Navy ships visited Israeli ports; for the first time, the Israeli Air Force came to the UK for training exercises with the RAF, we’re seeing the RAF conducting joint exercises here. It's the same for other services, too."

While radical Islamist terrorism and the threat posed by Iran's regional and nuclear ambitions form the nucleus of mutual concerns, joint projects will extend to AI and cyber technology developments and even anti-drone capabilities.

Top Russian Outlet Continues to Bash Israeli Gymnast for Defeating Russian Rival in Tokyo Olympics
A top Russian media outlet continued its vendetta against an Olympic gold medal-winning Israeli gymnast, placing her victory over a Russian competitor on a list of sports scandals and other incidents.

The Russian Olympic team expressed outrage at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games earlier this year after Israeli Linoy Ashram beat three-time world champion Dina Averina to the top of the podium.

They argued that the judges erred in not punishing Ashram more severely for apparently dropping the ribbon during her gold medal-winning routine. She beat Averina by 0.15 points.

Russia lodged official complaints and called on the International Gymnastics Federation to overturn the Ashram result, to no avail.

Israeli news site Walla reported that, in a year’s end retrospective, popular Russian broadcaster RT said of Ashram’s victory, “There is no doubt that judging rhythmic gymnastics is not an easy thing. There are some elements that are subjective, such as elegance, composure, and precision.”

“No one can claim that the Israeli Ashram did not give an exceptional performance in the final,” the channel admitted.

“However,” it added, “one can say that Averina was robbed of the gold after the lengthy consultation between the judges, even though she completed four routines without mistakes, at a time when Ashram dropped the ribbon,”

“Averina wept and demanded answers, and many professionals agreed with her and called the decision unfair,” the network added.
Israel Sees Drop in Severe Cases Amid Latest Covid Outbreak
The number of serious coronavirus cases dropped on Monday, even as daily infections continue to increase amid the fifth wave of the Covid-19 pandemic in Israel, the latest Health Ministry data reveals.

A total of 87 patients were hospitalized in severe condition on Monday morning, representing a decline of nine compared to the previous day’s tally. Three new severe patients were added on Monday versus 13 on Sunday.

Out of the 87 total patients with serious illness, 47 were critical and 38 on ventilators.

The highly infectious omicron variant is currently circulating in Israel. Early indications are that the heavily mutated strain of Covid-19 displays milder symptoms compared to the delta variant, although experts caution that omicron still has the potential to overwhelm health care systems because it is so contagious even if less severe.

The latest reproduction number, or R value, is 1.41, indicating that the virus is spreading.

The number of new daily cases registered on Monday was 1,760 with a positive test rate of 1.87 percent, a decline from Sunday’s positivity rate which rose above 2 percent.

There are currently 13,053 active patients with the coronavirus in Israel.

A total of 9,808 people have died from the disease in Israel since the pandemic started.
Israeli Hospital to Give Fourth COVID-19 Vaccine Shot in Trial
A major Israeli hospital will begin administering a fourth COVID-19 vaccine shot to 150 staff on Monday in a trial aimed at gauging whether a second booster is necessary nationwide, the facility said on Sunday.

Sheba Medical Center near Tel Aviv said its trial would shed light on the efficacy of a fourth dose and help decision-makers set health policy in Israel and abroad.

Israel has reported 1,118 confirmed cases of the fast-spreading Omicron coronavirus variant, with the number of people infected by it doubling every two days.

A Health Ministry panel of experts has recommended offering a fourth dose of the Pfizer /BioNTech vaccine to Israelis aged 60 and over who received a booster shot at least four months ago.

But final approval by the ministry’s director-general is still pending amid public debate as to whether sufficient scientific information is available to justify a new booster drive.

Sheba Medical Center did not say how long its trial would last.

“We will examine the fourth dose’s effect on the level of antibodies and morbidity and we will gauge its safety,” it quoted Gili Regev-Yochay, the study’s director, as saying. “We will understand whether it is worthwhile to administer a fourth shot, and to whom.”
Court Acquits Jews Who Prayed on Temple Mount Disguised as Muslims
The Jerusalem District Court on Sunday night lifted all the police-imposed restrictions on two “Temple Mount Mista’arvim” who had been arrested at their homes Dec. 15 by the Jerusalem Police after starring in a Channel 13 report that put to shame the Jerusalem Police and the discriminatory policy it enforces against Jews at the Temple Mount compound.

One of the accused, Hozrim La’Har Chairman Refael Morris, was shown in the television report preparing a class of Temple Mount activists how to disguise themselves as Muslim worshippers and blend into prayer services on the Temple Mount (Jews Who Prayed on Temple Mount Disguised as Muslims Arraigned Today – Are Israel Police Losing It?). The “Temple Mount Mista’arvim” borrowed their name from the counter-terrorism units of the IDF, Border Police, and Israel Police who operate undercover in Arab cities in Judea and Samaria and the Gaza Strip. These units are specifically trained to assimilate into the local Arab population to gather intelligence and make arrests.

The court’s ruling accepted an appeal filed by Honenu legal aid society attorney Nati Rom against the restrictions imposed by the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court on his two clients. The District Court judge rejected the police request to extend their detention and ordered their immediate release and the removal of all the lower court-imposed restrictive conditions.

During the hearing, attorney Rom argued that the claim that Jews are forbidden to ascend through the gates of the Temple Mount intended for Muslims is not true, and in fact, the opposite is true. Rom cited the 1967 Law for the Preservation of Holy Places, proving that the entry of Jews into these places should not be restricted.

Ali Express says it will not serve Palestinians beginning in 2022
The Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba will no longer allow Palestinian shoppers to make purchases on, according to a text message that many buyers received from the company on Monday.

The reason for the move is that the Palestinian Authority's mail services refuse to handle packages that have the word Israel in the address. Many Palestinians do not know this and write Israel rather than Palestine as the destination country, according to N12.

Some buyers from the Chinese online fast-fashion retailer Shein reported receiving similar messages.

Alibaba calculated that the revenue from orders from Palestinian cities such as Jericho, Nablus, Ramallah, Hebron and Jenin does not justify the jumbled mail situation and therefore decided to completely halt its operations there.

Saudi coalition shows footage of alleged Hezbollah involvement in Yemen war
The Saudi-led coalition fighting the Iran-backed Houthis in Yemen published footage they say shows instructors from the Lebanese Hezbollah terrorist group training Houthi militants on how to use UAVs, during a press conference on Sunday.

One video published show drone parts, with the symbol of the Hezbollah movement visible in on some containers. Another video shows a person identified as "a leader from the terrorist Lebanese Hezbollah" instructing Abu Ali Al-Hakim (the Houthi head of intelligence).

The Hezbollah leader tell Al-Hakim in the video that "the military sector of Hodeidah is very important. If Hodeidah falls, support for confronting the aggression will end." Hodeidah is a Red Sea port city which serves as the main entry port for commercial goods and aid amid the ongoing Yemen civil war.

In the video, the Hezbollah leader also tells Al-Hakim that Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah "wishes that he could come for (Jihad) himself in Yemen."

"We left everything behind and came to stand with you. The Syrian war is about to end, and most of the Mujahideen (meaning those engaged in Jihad) will come to Yemen," added the leader, stressing that access to the sea needed to remain open in order that support from Iran and Hezbollah could continue to enter the country.

Seth Frantzman: Why Iran’s threat to attack Israel’s Dimona matters - analysis
Iran has published and distributed a video of rockets and drones being used to attack Dimona in the Negev Desert. It says the attack took place during the recent 17th Great Prophet drill with the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and the IRGC Air Force.

Tehran says it “simulated a missile and drone attack on the Dimona nuclear center using 16 ballistic missiles and five suicide drones, successfully,” according to its semi-official Fars News Agency. The Jerusalem Post reported on the initial videos on Saturday. Iran has now doubled down with its own reports, bragging about its abilities.

This matters more than in the past because Iran is threatening to attack the Dimona nuclear facility, a dangerous escalation in rhetoric. It is also tied to Tehran revealing aspects of its drone program and new technology.

The video was published by Fars and Tasnim New Agency, main Iranian media outlets linked to the government and the IRGC. This means the video is a purposeful attempt by Iran to threaten Israel, which, of course, isn’t exactly new. Tehran threatens Israel everyday with various forms of destruction; it continually has to come up with new threats.

However, the decision by Iran to test long-range ballistic missiles and unveil a new multiple drone launcher while splicing that with a digital mock-up of Dimona appears to be a new level of Iranian aggressive threats.

Fars published the video in full, which has been circulated online for several days. According to Tasnim’s defense correspondent, “In the last stage of the joint exercise, 16 types of solid and liquid fuel ballistic missiles, as well as 10 suicide UAVs known as Shahed-136 drones, simulated targeting Dimona.”
PreOccupiedTerritory: Iran Also Declares Attack On Them = Attack On Science (satire)
Leaders of the Islamic Republic took a page from the Dr. Anthony Fauci playbook today by announcing that they, too, represent the noble pursuit of human knowledge through testing hypotheses through controlled experimentation, and that therefore, any activity or criticism directed at them constitutes an assault on that pursuit of knowledge and the discoveries it has yielded for hundreds of years.

“An attack on Iran is an attack on science itself,” proclaimed President Ebrahim Raisi. “Everyone must know that our enemies have no compunctions about bringing down the very foundations of medical, technological, industrial, and other disciplines, and perhaps that is their principal goal in their attacks on us. All people of conscience and the international community must suppress and prevent such threats, which will only damage science.” Raisi made the remarks at a ceremony to honor several nuclear scientists who played prominent roles in the regime’s efforts to secure atomic weapons, and whose murders or disappearances the government blames on Israel.

Analysts observed that Raisi sought by those remarks to harness support for the embattled regime’s security and policies, and to marshal opposition from sympathetic media to American and Israeli endeavors to hamper or end Tehran’s nuclear weapons ambitions. Successive Iranian leaders have spoken of wiping the Jewish State from the map, and the capital has displayed an ostensible countdown to the destruction of the “Zionist Entity.”

“It’s no less bizarre than when Fauci declared himself the avatar of science itself a month or two ago, using more or less the same rhetoric,” explained media commentator Brian Stelter of CNN. “We mainstream media people ate it up, because of course we love science, especially the part where it gets used to confirm our biases. And we’re biased toward a certain segment of the political spectrum, so this was a natural move for Iran. Not that the regime needs to work very hard for a sympathetic portrayal from us. I mean, Trump spoke against them, so they must be good by default, is our unimpeachable logic.”