Wednesday, January 19, 2022

01/19 Links Pt1: Melanie Phillips: The real lesson of the Texas synagogue attack; Antisemitic tropes cited by the Texas synagogue hostage-taker have deep roots

From Ian:

Melanie Phillips: The real lesson of the Texas synagogue attack
Akram told the hostages that he chose Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville, Texas because it was the closest synagogue to the prison where Siddiqui is being held. As for the reason he chose to target a synagogue at all, that’s not hard to work out — once you know where to look.

According to a tweet by NBC News reporter Tom Winter:
The hostage-taker at the synagogue in Texas had the rabbi call a different rabbi in New York City. The purpose of the call was to again demand the release of Aafia Siddiqui.

That’s because Akram believed that the Jews control American politics. It would therefore follow, in his mind, that rabbis would form a nexus of power over governments and can tell them what to do. So, force a rabbi to call a more influential rabbi, and hey presto — Siddiqui would be released.

He would believe that because the boilerplate antisemitic delusion that the Jews control the west is a commonplace throughout the Muslim world. Indeed, every antisemitic trope under the sun — demonising the apparently all-powerful Jews as an evil conspiracy to harm the rest of the world in their own interests — is generally believed as fact in Muslim societies. To them, the west dances on the strings of its Jewish puppet-masters.

The Muslim world is therefore in the grip of an obsessional and delusional paranoia about the Jews. It is essential to understand this, and the consequences that follow. Very few people do.

Antisemitism is absolutely central to Islamic radicalisation and extremism. Aafia Siddiqui was far from alone when she came out with her deranged Jewish conspiracy theories. Numerous Islamist terrorists have made it crystal clear that, in attacking the west, their most fundamental target is the Jews. At war against modernity, they believe that behind modernity stand the Jews — who they think are behind everything in the world that the Islamists have decided is bad.

Inciting hatred against the Jews therefore acts as a recruitment tool for the jihad against the west. Painting the Jews literally as devils incites a frenzy of murderous paranoia. Which is why such a disproportionate number of Islamist attacks single out Jewish targets.
WaPo($): Antisemitic tropes cited by the Texas synagogue hostage-taker have deep roots
Malik Faisal Akram’s decision to take four hostages at a Texas synagogue left many wondering: Why Colleyville? Why the Beth Israel Congregation?

The 44-year-old British citizen chose the small, tightknit congregation, according to his hostages and those who heard him on the live stream of Saturday services, because he saw it as the closest gathering of Jewish people to a federal facility in Fort Worth where a convicted terrorist was being held.

Akram wanted the release of Aafia Siddiqui, a Pakistani woman serving an 86-year sentence in federal prison in Fort Worth for trying to kill American soldiers in Afghanistan. And he apparently thought the Jewish worshipers assembled for the Sabbath could make that happen — drawing upon centuries-old antisemitic tropes and conspiracies that Jews secretly control the moves of politicians and manipulate world events to their advantage.

Akram told the assembled that he chose to attack a synagogue because “America only cares about Jewish lives,” according to Beth Israel member Stacey Silverman, who viewed the online Shabbat service.

“He even said at one point that ‘I’m coming to you because I know President Biden will do things for the Jews. I know President Trump will do things for the Jews,’ ” Jeffrey Cohen, one of the hostages, told CNN. Akram “came here, he came to us, he terrorized us, because he believed … these antisemitic tropes that the Jews control everything, and if I go to the Jews, they can pull the strings,” Cohen said.

Experts have long said the pervasiveness of such antisemitic beliefs in society can fuel violence against Jewish people.

“It’s a variation on a classic antisemitic theme,” said David Feldman, director of the Birkbeck Institute for the Study of Antisemitism, a research institution based in London. “Whereas these ideas about Jewish conspiracy often take shape as an idea of Jews exerting power … [to] advance their own interests, this is a sort of variation on the theme — that if you can only get the Jews to work for you, then you’ll get your way.”

The idea has deep historical roots, Feldman said, from the Middle Ages — “where you get this idea that Jews are in league with the devil” — to the 1900s, when the conspiracy theory that Jews have too much power “was revivified and transformed … with the idea that the Russian Revolution, Bolshevism and communism was itself an expression of a Jewish plot for world domination.”

Feldman added that it “spread further, beyond Christian lands, to the Middle East, probably taken to the Ottoman Empire by French Catholics in the 19th century.”
WaPo($): Jewish worship in America should not involve routine fear
Modern antisemitism is a varied phenomenon. But all its forms are premised on the fear and hatred of outsiders. Islamist radicals, white supremacists and leftist activists seek to overcome the dangers of a foreign faith, held by a foreign people, possessed by a foreign agenda. In the Jewish homeland, this hostility is periodically expressed by Hamas rockets. In Crown Heights, Brooklyn, it took (and takes) the form of random, vicious assaults. In Pittsburgh in 2018, it caused so much death at the Tree of Life. In Colleyville, it arrived in an 11-hour synagogue standoff. In every case, Jews have been the entity on which non-Jews project their anger, resentments, fears and venom.

Any adequate response to antisemitism begins with the concerted response of a wounded community. This involves condemnation of antisemitism by social and religious leaders, and immediate comfort for its victims. Here Colleyville has made a start. The public cooperation and shared prayers of Muslim, Jewish, Catholic and evangelical religious figures can have an influence beyond anything they expect or intend. It is more powerful to demonstrate social healing than to call for it. It is more important to model mutual grace than to urge it. Human beings are drawn toward embodied virtues.

Confronting antisemitism is a public cause that begins in the moral and personal realm. It is our ethical duty to confront and marginalize antisemitic tropes. And this is always more effective when we police our own traditions. Liberals have more credibility when they oppose academic antisemitism. Conservatives have better standing to criticize the hard right when it enters the antisemitic fever swamps. The same is true when Christians confront antisemitism among Christians and Muslims oppose antisemitism among Muslims.

None of this is a substitute for the effective pursuit and prosecution of terrorists. And it makes perfect sense, as the Anti-Defamation League has urged, to double funding for the Nonprofit Security Grant Program, which helps bolster security at Jewish schools and houses of worship. Synagogues such as the one down my street deserve all the security that planning and preparation can provide.

But we should not accept the presence of guards and traffic barriers at synagogues as somehow normal or acceptable. It is not. It is a scandal of the first order when religious worship in America involves routine fear.

How did a British Muslim end up taking hostages in a Texas synagogue?
This leads us to the most troubling aspect of this case. How did Akram acquire the beliefs that led him to commit such an act of terrorism? In Blackburn, where he lived, there is a large Muslim community; he is reported to be related to some of its most influential members. How is it that Akram’s hatred of Jews seemingly aroused no surprise or resistance in the community? Opinion polls have long suggested that Muslims are much more likely to hold anti-Semitic beliefs than the average Briton. In 2013 the Muslim journalist Mehdi Hasan wrote about this phenomenon in the New Statesman here: “It pains me to have to admit this but anti-Semitism isn’t just tolerated in some sections of the British Muslim community; it’s routine and commonplace. Any Muslims reading this article — if they are being honest with themselves — will know instantly what I am referring to. It’s our dirty little secret.”

What, if anything, has happened in the intervening nine years to alter this toxic culture? If anything, the problem is likely to have grown worse. That is certainly what the rising figures for anti-Semitic incidents in the UK suggest, although only a proportion of these are perpetrated by Islamists. Jeremy Corbyn’s five years as leader of the Labour Party, which a majority of Muslims support, undoubtedly did incalculable harm. Jewish protests about Corbyn’s attitudes and policies, including one from the Chief Rabbi during the 2019 election campaign, will have been seen by Islamist anti-Semites as instrumental in his replacement by Sir Keir Starmer, who has worked hard to rebuild relations with the Jewish community. The role of social media in spreading extremism, including anti-Semitism, is well known and may have contributed to Akram’s radicalisation. But at least as important is the toleration of a culture of hostility and suspicion towards Jews and Israel among large numbers of ordinary British Muslims.

It is of course also true that Muslims are themselves subject to prejudice and attacks. This may explain but does not excuse the fact that reports on the BBC and other mainstream media made virtually no reference to Islamist anti-Semitism as a factor in Akram’s decision to target the Texas synagogue. Yet such lethal hatred is a daily reality for Jews on both sides of the Atlantic. It explains why Jewish schools, synagogues or other institutions require strict security and why Jewish organisations exercise constant vigilance in monitoring the terrorist threat. It also explains why the misreporting by the BBC of anti-Semitic incidents such as the recent Oxford Street attack arouse such anger far beyond the Jewish community.

Turning a blind eye to “the oldest hatred” is not the action of a great nation and could never be condoned by decent Britons of all faiths and none. The transatlantic investigation of Akram’s crime must be rigorous and thorough. But the Muslim community, not only in Blackburn but elsewhere across Britain, should also take responsibility for the culture of casual anti-Semitism that allowed him first to drift into extremist territory, then to hatch his plot and carry it out, without anyone sounding the alarm. There have been too many Akrams before for him to be dismissed as just another “lone wolf”.
GOP Probes Biden DOJ for Downplaying Anti-Semitism in Texas Synagogue Attack
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R., Calif.) is probing why President Joe Biden's Justice Department downplayed anti-Semitic motives in Saturday's terrorist attack at a Texas synagogue.

"Over the past 48 hours, President Biden's Justice Department has gone from denying the clear and religious, anti-Semitic implications of this attack to now backtracking to what we all already knew to be true," McCarthy said Tuesday. The minority leader is now calling to investigate gaps the hostage attack revealed in American national security, including how "someone with an apparent criminal record and suspicious travel history was allowed into the United States."

Malik Faisal Akram, a 44-year-old British national, held a rabbi and three congregants at gunpoint for 10 hours on Saturday inside a Colleyville synagogue. Akram said he was motivated by anger over the imprisonment of Aafia Siddiqui, a terrorist sometimes referred to as "Lady al Qaeda" who is serving 86 years in prison for trying to gun down FBI and military officials. In the 10th hour of the standoff, Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker hit Akram with a chair, giving the group a chance to escape. Police rushed in shortly after and shot Akram dead.

The FBI special agent in charge of the Colleyville hostage-taking, Matt DeSarno, said on Saturday the situation was "not specifically related to the Jewish community." Biden on Sunday similarly said there was not "sufficient information to know why he targeted that synagogue" or "why he was using anti-Semitic and anti-Israeli comments." But the FBI later backtracked, saying the attack was "a terrorism-related matter, in which the Jewish community was targeted."

"The Biden administration must answer for how this case has already been mishandled," McCarthy said, "and must provide a clear strategy on how they plan to continue to investigate the outstanding terror threats."
Colleyville Synagogue Gunman Raised No Red Flags When Entering US, Says White House
The terrorist who took four hostages at a synagogue this past Saturday raised no security flags upon entering the US, the White House said Tuesday, despite revelations that he was previously investigated by British intelligence in 2020.

The British intelligence service MI5 considered Malik Faisal Akram, who was a UK citizen, a Subject of Interest (SOI) and investigated him in late 2020, the BBC and other UK media outlets reported. By 2021, however, he had been dropped as an SOI.

Akram flew to the US at the end of December in order to commit the attack, in which he held four people hostage at Congregation Beth Israel synagogue for over 10 hours. After one hostage was freed unharmed during the standoff, the remaining three escaped safely, while Akram was killed.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said during a briefing Tuesday that US authorities had found no reason to deny Akram entry.

“Our understanding, and obviously we’re still looking into this, is that he was checked against US government databases multiple times prior to entering the country, and the US government did not have any derogatory information about the individual in our systems at the time of entry,” she said.

“We’re certainly looking back, as I referenced, at what occurred to learn every possible lesson we can to prevent attacks like this in the future,” Psaki continued.
Texas synagogue hostage-taker claimed to have planted bombs in NYC
The British man who held Jews hostage at a Texas synagogue claimed to have planted bombs in New York City, according to the head of a Jewish communal security service in New York.

Some 1,000 people tuned into a briefing on Tuesday evening, presented by the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York, on Saturday’s hostage-taking at Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville, Texas.

During the Zoom event, Mitch Silber, executive director of the JCRC’s Community Security Initiative, offered new details on the New York angle, including an account of the phone calls between the suspect, Malik Faisal Akram, and Rabbi Angela Buchdahl of Manhattan’s Central Synagogue.

Buchdahl had no prior contact with Akram, who according to Silber had learned her name thanks to her prominent social media presence. Akram demanded that one of the hostages, Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker, call Buchdahl on her cell phone, and that Akram told Buchdahl that he planned to kill the four hostages unless Aafia Siddiqui, a terrorism suspect serving time at a Texas prison, was released.

“Among Akram’s claims,” said Silber, “were that there were explosives planted in New York and Brooklyn, potentially in and around synagogues, and that he had associates in New York.”
Texas synagogue hostage-taker was known to MI5

Amb. Danny Danon: Together against hate
Every year, the FBI publishes a report on hate crimes. Since 1996, when it began releasing the annual figures, anti-Semitism has remained the number one hate crime in the United States.

The published data proves that Jews and Jewish institutions are the most common targets against which hate crimes were committed, and constitute 58 percent of the incidents of hate crimes on the basis of religion. Anti-Semitism in the United States alone has risen by 80 percent, and the clear trend is that the number of anti-Semitic crimes, measured against the population, is on the rise. In many other countries, especially in Europe, attacks against Jews have also escalated.

These disquieting events increase safety concerns not only among synagogue worshipers, in particular, but also among all Jewish communities globally. As a result, the issue of security has become a focus for many Jewish communities around the world.

A survey conducted last month shows that 69 percent of Israelis agree that the State of Israel should intervene or take more action to ensure the security of Jews around the world. The main role of the Israeli government is to stand firm and demand decisive action.

The responsibility for the security of global Jewry rests with the governments in which they live. World governments need to move from declarations to actions, increase educational activity, promote legislation and, most importantly, ensure that anyone who has committed hate crimes will be severely punished.

Unfortunately, anti-Semitism will not disappear. Instead, over time, a new variant will emerge and anti-Semitism will raise its head in a different form. We have a duty to stand by our brothers and sisters at this challenging time and keep Jews safe wherever they are.
Hen Mazzig: Don't Let CAIR off the Hook for Its Role in the Colleyville Hostage Crisis
CAIR ardently supported Billoo's comments. CAIR did not heed the warnings from the American Jewish community that this rhetoric was dangerous and incendiary hate speech. CAIR went as far as accusing the ADL of using "false claims of antisemitism to smear Muslims."

Meanwhile, CAIR had come to the staunch defense of other notable antisemites, including the very bigot at the basis of this weekend's Texas synagogue attack. CAIR's Dallas-Fort Worth chapter had campaigned for Siddiqui's release, calling her conviction "one of the greatest examples of injustice in U.S. history."

The dots are not too difficult to connect. When you say Jewish institutions are evil because of an association with Israel, you put a target on all Jews; when you put a target on synagogues, your followers will go to synagogues with guns.

Putting American synagogues in the middle of the Israeli-Palestinain conflict puts them in the line of fire. American Jewish leadership called this out, after Zahra Billoo's noxious rant, because it was afraid of these exact consequences. When Jews warn that certain rhetoric is dangerous, non-Jews who care about our safety should listen.

In the midst of the attack, while hostages were still at gunpoint, Daily Beast columnist Wajahat Ali tweeted, "You're about to hear some ugly and vicious Islamophobia & anti-Muslim bigotry this weekend." He preached about how our priority should be keeping Muslims safe. I have a real problem with those who cannot even wait for the release of Jewish hostages before trying to make the story about others. (I do agree that we must be vigilant and not allow capricious anti-Muslim hate.)

But the wedge between the Jewish and Muslim communities in the U.S. is not caused only by those fanning the flames of Islamophobia in reaction to a terrorist attack. It is caused by organizations like CAIR and their affiliates putting targets on synagogues. When CAIR brazenly defended Zahra Billoo's description of places like Congregation Beth Israel as the enemies of Islam, it necessarily disregarded the lives of the four Jews taken hostage on Saturday. CAIR may not have held the gun on Saturday night, but its incendiary and reckless rhetoric, combined with its incomprehensible stance on Siddiqui, helped incite this attack.

We need some accountability from CAIR.
Morton Kelin: Practical lessons from the Colleyville Temple hostage-taking
Note: The ZOA is deeply relieved that Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker and three other Jewish hostages were able to escape, physically unharmed, after being held hostage on the holy Sabbath by radical Islamist Jihadi terrorist Malik Faisal Akram at Reform Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville, Texas. ZOA commends the bravery of the rabbi, the other hostages, and law enforcement. We pray that the hostages, the congregation, and all concerned will speedily and fully recover from the trauma that they experienced.

However, we believe there is much to be learned so that we can avoid similar, and potentially far worse, situations in the future:

Training: Rabbi Cytron-Walker and the synagogue Board’s vice president, Jeffrey Cohen, emphasized that the active shooter training received from the Secure Community Network saved their lives. Hopefully, this will encourage other synagogues and Jewish institutions to obtain needed active shooter and security training.

Vetting People Outside the Synagogue: Jews, and clergy of all faiths are naturally hospitable. Thus, we understand Rabbi Cytron-Walker’s impulse to welcome Malik Faisal Akram into the synagogue when Akram knocked on the door. However, in this era of rapidly increasing antisemitic attacks and threats, many synagogues are vetting unknown people before they get inside the door. If Akram had been vetted outside, that might have stopped Akram before he could do any harm.

Checking for “Casing” and Other Security Measures: Islamist terrorist Malik Faisal Akram spent several days in the Colleyville area before taking hostages at the synagogue. He may have “cased” the synagogue beforehand. One way to avoid terror attacks is to keep an eye (or camera) out for unknown persons who may be casing the synagogue for future attacks. Many synagogues today also have trained armed congregants and other advance security measures.

And to the ADL — Stop Downplaying Islamist Antisemitism and Highlighting that the Problem is “Islamophobia” etc.:

On Sunday, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) undermined and diverted attention from efforts to combat Islamist antisemitism by publishing an article that downplayed the Islamist antisemitism here. ADL’s article portrayed white supremacists’ posts and “Islamophobia” as the major problems. ADL’s article, entitled “Extremists Respond to Colleyville Hostage Crisis with Antisemitism, Islamophobia,” spent only three sentences mentioning Islamist extremists (Al-Qaeda supporters and a British pro-ISIS Islamist preacher), with no illustrations.

By contrast, ADL spent 56 sentences on white supremacists’ ugly internet posts about the hostage situation, plus five illustrations; and 12 sentences accusing experts on Islamic antisemitism of “elevating Islamophobia,” plus a copy of an internet post.
‘Not Small, Not a Victim’: Self-Defense Program Trains Us Jews to Fight It Out
The students practiced ripping their training partners’ hands off of their necks in a rowing motion, then kneeing them in the groin, and smashing an elbow into their chins.

You don’t fight power with power, the instructor said. You go for an attacker’s weak points, like their thumbs, then strike back and disable them so you can make your escape.

The Krav Maga class in New York City was organized by a group called Legion, which aims to train Jews in self-defense. It was set up in 2014 in response to rising antisemitism in the US.

“It started with the idea that antisemitism was not getting any better in the United States specifically, but generally everywhere,” said organizer Arielle Mogil. “We have to be prepared to defend ourselves.”

The non-profit organization connects Jewish people interested in self-defense with gyms it has partnered with for training. Legion vets the gyms, which it often has personal connections to, makes sure the instructors understand their goals, and refers the gyms to anyone interested in self-defense. Many participants start training who would not have otherwise tried self-defense, or stick with it longer, because of the group’s framework, Mogil said.

Once there are over 10 participants in an area, Legion organizes classes specifically for those students. Training together consistently, as a cohort, helps the group members to better develop their skills, stick with training and form relationships.
MEMRI: British Pro-ISIS Preacher Anjem Choudary Uses Texas Synagogue Hostage Incident As Opportunity To Launch New Twitter Storm Demanding Release Of Aafia Siddiqui
On January 16, 2022, British pro-Islamic State (ISIS) preacher Anjem Choudary published a "press release" on his blog calling for a second Twitter storm to demand the release of Dr. Aafia Siddiqui, a Pakistani neuroscientist linked to Al-Qaeda who is incarcerated in the U.S. on charges of attempting to kill a U.S. soldier in Afghanistan. Choudary had previously organized a Twitter storm on September 17, 2021, and the text of the new press release, with some additions and subtractions, is very similar to the one he published in September.[1]
The case of Aafia Siddiqui, who is currently serving an 86-year prison sentence at the Federal Medical Center, Carswell in Fort Worth, Texas, returned to the public eye on January 15, 2022, when an armed man entered Beth Israel Synagogue in Colleyville, Texas, during Sabbath prayers, took four people hostage, including the rabbi, and demanded the release of his "sister," Aafia Siddiqui. His demand led to initial false reports that the gunman was her biological brother, Muhammad Siddiqui.[3] However, on January 16, the FBI confirmed the gunman's identity as Malik Faisal Akram, a 44-year-old British national from Blackburn, England, and reported that he had been shot to death by an FBI Hostage Rescue Team.[4] All the hostages were released safely on Saturday night.

In his press statement, dated January 16, 2022, Choudary writes: "Given today’s news of the hostage situation in Texas and the recent withdrawal of U.S. troops, now is the perfect time for America to draw a line under the atrocities it has committed in Afghanistan. This includes freedom for our innocent sister Aafia Siddiqui and the release of all the remaining Muslim captives in Guantanamo Bay." Using the hashtags #free_sister_aafia and #FreeTheAseer (prisoner), he calls for a new coordinated Twitter storm on January 21, 2022, to demand Siddiqui's release. Choudary set the time for the Twitter storm at 5 pm in New York, which corresponds to 10 pm in London; 1 am on January 22 in Istanbul, Turkey and Riyadh, Saudi Arabia; 3 am on January 22 in Karachi, Pakistan; and 9 am on January 22 in Sydney, Australia.
Terror-designated NGO and Jewish NGO rally to release PFLP terrorist head
A rally calling for the release of Popular Front for Palestine (PFLP) secretary-general Ahmad Sa’adat from an Israeli prison is set to be held in New York City on January 22, and is being organized by Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) and Samidoun, a Palestinian NGO designated by Israel as a PFLP affiliate.

"Join our collective call for the freedom of Ahmad Sa’adat and all Palestinian prisoners. Take action to escalate the boycott of Israel, end aid and support to Israel, organize for justice in Palestine and resist imperialism and colonialism," Samidoun wrote on a Facebook event page. The event will be held at the offices of the Arab American Association of New York (AAANY) at 4pm. A similar rally will be held in Vancouver, Canada on the following day. The rallies are part of a week-long campaign led by Samidoun to mark the 20th anniversary of Sa'adat's arrest by the Palestinian Authority.

"Sa’adat is a leader in the Palestinian prisoners’ movement and the Palestinian national liberation movement and a Palestinian, Arab and international symbol of resistance to Zionism, capitalism, racism, apartheid and colonization,".

Samidoun wrote on the campaign page, "Targeted for his political role and clarity of vision, he remains unsilenced and unbroken, despite the oppression imposed upon him and 4,650 fellow Palestinian political prisoners."
Haaretz Corrects Aafia Siddiqui Convicted, Not Just Accused, of Attempted Murder
In response to communication from CAMERA’s Israel office, Haaretz‘s English edition today commendably amended two reports which whitewashed the crimes of Pakistani terrorist Aafia Siddiqui as “alleged,” when in fact she was convicted of attempted murder in 2010. Both articles were attributed to Reuters, though the news agency in fact had explicitly noted Siddiqui’s conviction, and did not use the “alleged” qualification.

Thus, the Jan. 18 article on Haaretz‘s site, “Texas Synagogue Gunman was Known, Interrogated by M15, BBC Says,” reports:
Dubbed the “Lady Al-Qaida,” Aafia Siddiqui, 42, is a Pakistan-born, U.S.-educated neuroscientist who was sentenced to 86 years in a U.S. prison in 2010. She allegedly attempted to shoot Americans who were questioning her in Afghanistan.

The second article, a Jan. 15 piece with a byline indicating both Reuters and AP, reports (“All Hostages Released Unharmed After Texas Synagogue Standoff, Captor Dead“):
Dubbed the “Lady Al-Qaida,” Aafia Siddiqui, 42, is a Pakistan-born, U.S.-educated neuroscientist who was sentenced to 86 years in a U.S. prison in 2010. She allegedly attempted to shoot Americans who were questioning her in Afghanistan.

In its article about the hostages’ escape, Reuters, on the other hand, clearly states that she was convicted of murder:
A U.S. official briefed on the matter told ABC News the hostage-taker had claimed to be the brother of Pakistani neuroscientist Aafia Siddiqui, who is serving an 86-year U.S. prison sentence for her 2010 conviction for shooting at soldiers and FBI agents, and that he demanded she be freed.
Guardian, on synagogue terror, quotes CAIR, Muslim Council of Britain and Bend the Arc
A Guardian article on the Texas synagogue incident, written by Dan Sabbagh, Oliver Laughland and Josh Halliday, quoted three organisations for their piece (“Texas synagogue siege: teenagers arrested in UK as FBI names Briton as hostage-taker”, Jan. 17):

Here they are, along with the relevant paragraphs in the article:
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR)

The hostage-taker referred to Siddiqui as his “sister” on the livestream, but John Floyd, board chair for the Houston chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations – the nation’s largest Muslim advocacy group – confirmed Siddiqui’s brother, Mohammad Siddiqui, was not involved.

As we noted in a post yesterday about an earlier Guardian report on the incident which uncritically quoted the organisation, CAIR has a well-documented history of antisemitism and ties to terror. Further, the group has long advocated for the freedom of Aafia Siddiqui, the Pakistani terrorist whose cause – along with antisemitism – motivated Malik Faisal Akram to seize and threaten the lives of four Jewish worshipers in Texas – a fact the Guardian has failed to mention.

Muslim Council of Britain (MCB):
Zara Mohammed, secretary-general of the Muslim Council of Britain, condemned the hostage-taker’s actions. She said: “The act is all the more reprehensible since it was instigated at a place of worship where Jews were targeted. This was, quite simply, a hate crime and an act of antisemitism. We are thankful that the hostages are unharmed. Though some may seek to exploit such incidents for divisive ends, we must double our resolve to remain united against such hatred.”

Readers unfamiliar with MCB wouldn’t of course know that, in 2009, a Labour government broke off ties to the group – a ban that subsequent governments upheld. The primary cause was one a senior MCB official signing a declaration which supported Hamas, promoted violent Jihad “until the liberation of all Palestine” and was interpreted as calling for attacks on British naval vessels, as well as on ‘Zionist Jews’ around the world.
BBC admits they shouldn't have put 'hostages' in quotes in coverage of Texas hostage siege
The BBC has admitted to shortfalls in its initial coverage of the Colleyville siege.

More than five hours after Akram launched the siege that ended with his death, the BBC was still referring to his captives as ‘hostages’ - in speech marks.

The initial BBC report on the drama has since been taken down from the BBC news website, but a tweet flagging the story remains. It reads: “Texas police respond to ‘hostage’ situation.”

The tweeted summary of the online article continued: “Police are negotiating with a man who appears to have taken hostages at a synagogue in Colleyville.”

The BBC's early coverage of the stand-off was met with bafflement by some followers. One, alanldn19, responded to the tweet: “Why is the word hostage in quotes?”

A BBC spokesperson said: “This was a developing news story which we edited and revised throughout the night.

The Arab world is re-embracing its Jews
THE SLOGAN of the Houthi rebels, who control northern Yemen, is blunt. “Death to Israel, curse on the Jews,” it reads in part. So it was no shock when the group chased Jews out of its area of control. What might be surprising is where some of those Jews ended up. Yusuf Hamdi and his extended family were rescued in a mission organised by the UN, America, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in 2021. Mr Hamdi and company then passed up a chance to go to Israel, instead becoming the first Yemenite Jews to settle in the UAE.

The UAE offered inducements: a rent-free villa, fancy car and monthly welfare cheques. It is all part of an effort to seed new Jewish communities in the country. Since the government declared 2019 the year of tolerance, and officially recognised the existence of Jews in the UAE, new kosher restaurants and a Jewish centre have sprung up. During Hanukkah last year the state erected large menorahs in city squares (pictured). It plans to open a state-financed synagogue later this year. “Jews are back in the Middle East,” says Edwin Shuker, an Iraqi Jew who fled to Britain, but resettled in Dubai last month.

From Morocco to the Gulf, a surprising number of Arab countries are welcoming back Jews and embracing their Jewish heritage. The reasons vary. The failures and excesses of Arab nationalism and Islamism have forced many countries to rethink chauvinist dogmas. Modernising autocrats have jettisoned communal tropes and pursued multicultural agendas. And the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is no longer seen as a priority in the region. “The Arab world has too many problems to still care about Palestine,” says Kamal Alam, an expert on Syria and its Jewish diaspora. “Instead they look at Israel and Jews as models for running a successful country that feeds itself without oil.”

Before the establishment of Israel in 1948, more Jews lived in the rest of the Arab world than in Palestine. At least a quarter of Baghdad’s population was Jewish. So was Iraq’s beauty queen in 1947. But after the creation of Israel and its displacement of Palestinians, Arab rulers turned on their Jewish subjects. Many were stripped of their citizenship and their property. State media and textbooks promoted anti-Semitism, while Muslim preachers fanned the flames. Arab states chased away all but a few thousand of the region’s non-Israeli Jews.

In recent years, though, the mood has drastically changed. Most Arabs have no memory of the big Arab-Israeli wars of last century. Milder opinions have been encouraged by leaders who see the Jewish state as a potential trade partner and ally against Iran, and who seek more acceptance in the West. The rulers of Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, for example, host multicultural gatherings and often muzzle clerics who step out of line. Sympathetic portrayals of Jews have appeared in Arab films and TV shows; documentaries have explored the region’s Jewish roots. Some Arab universities have even opened departments of Jewish history. Such is the change in attitude that when four Arab countries—the UAE, Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco—agreed to normalise relations with Israel in 2020, there were no big protests.
'Warmer' peace with Israel offers Jordan better economic dividends
For the first time in seven years, the Jordanian royal court recently released a photo of King Abdullah II meeting with an Israeli official, Defense Minister Benny Gantz, Jan. 5 in Amman. This gesture is a clear indication that relations between the two neighboring countries are warming up again. After a decade of sluggish growth and falling standards of living, Jordan likely wants to capture a bigger share of the growing pie of Arab economic cooperation with Israel.

U.S. legislators from both parties recently launched a bipartisan House-Senate caucus that would be a “cheerleading squad” for the Abraham Accords, signed last year between Israel and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain.

In the first year of peace between Israel and the UAE, bilateral trade reached $700 million. In 2020, bilateral trade between Israel and Jordan stood at $250 million, 27 years after they had signed a peace treaty. These numbers suggest that Jordan has much to gain by moving beyond the “cold peace” it has with Israel and embracing the accords.

In December, Israel and Jordan signed an agreement to facilitate Jordanian exports to the West Bank. The deal’s ambitious goal is to increase the total from $150 million to $700 million a year. In July, Israel agreed to increase its annual supply of fresh water to its eastern neighbor by 50 million cubic meters, doubling the previous figure. The UAE brokered a deal in which Jordan produces solar energy for the Israeli market, and Israel reciprocates by desalinating Mediterranean water for supply to Jordan.

Israel’s peace with Jordan remains colder than expected because some Jordanians see the agreement as a political necessity rather than a true opportunity. They argue that relations with Israel should remain a purely government-to-government affair, rather than a bond between two peoples. Some even argue that while peace is net positive for the Israeli economy, it is a net negative for Arab economies. (h/t Zvi)
The UAE Is America's Friend, Not Rival
The Houthi attack against the UAE, which has long-standing defence ties with the US... makes a mockery of US President Joe Biden's decision, taken in the first weeks of his presidency, to remove the Houthis from Washington's list of designated terrorist groups....

The Gulf region has become a major battleground between the US and China, not least because American influence is seen as being in decline by Gulf leaders because of Mr Biden's weak and ineffectual leadership, especially in the wake of his administration's disastrous handling of the Afghan withdrawal in the summer.

This has led many Middle Eastern states that have previously adopted pro-Western policies to re-evaluate their long-standing relationship with Washington as they feel, quite rightly, that they can no longer rely on the US to defend their interests, especially when it comes to protecting them against the threat posed by Iran and its allies.

From China's perspective, Abu Dhabi is seen as the "pearl" in its plan to establish what Chinese President Xi Jinping calls the Maritime Silk Road, a project that aims to secure Chinese dominance over key trading routes from Asia to the Middle East and beyond.

The fact that the Biden administration... should be pressuring the UAE over its ties with China is a classic example of how the White House has got its priorities all wrong.

As this week's attack by Iranian-backed terrorists on the UAE graphically illustrates, Iran poses the greatest threat to Gulf security, and it is Washington's failure to support its Gulf allies against the Iranian menace that has led them to develop ties with China in the first place.

If Mr Biden is truly concerned about nations like the UAE developing relations with Beijing, then the best way to reverse this trend would be to offer the Gulf states better protection against Iran. That would be a sure-fire way to get American relations with the Gulf back on track, and keep the opportunistic Chinese communists at bay.
MEMRI: Bahraini Journalist: Instead Of Maligning The West While Also Envying It, Middle East States Must Enact Reforms
In a November 5, 2021 article on the website of the Al-Hurra channel, 'Omran Salman, a Bahraini liberal who lives in the U.S., points to the contrast between the rhetoric of political Islam, which maligns the West and accuses it of plotting against the Arabs and Muslims, and the fact that so many Muslims fleeing from their countries are eager to find shelter in the West and to settle there. In the article, titled "The Muslims and the West – Love and Hate," he writes that the West's appeal for Muslim refugees stems from its secular and democratic character, and its respect for human rights. It is thanks to these progressive values that the West accepts the burden and risk of welcoming refugees, and allows them to live in freedom according to their customs and beliefs, he says. He states further that he does not expect the Middle East countries to become secular and democratic overnight, but hopes they can resolve their political and sectarian conflicts so as to provide their citizens with a security and a dignified life, instead of blaming the West for all their troubles.

The following are translated excerpts from his article:[1]
"Islamic and pan-Arab publications dealing with the West abound with phrases like 'the infidel West,' 'the imperialist West' and 'the immoral West.' They direct harsh criticism at the established norms and conduct of the Western societies in Europe, the U.S., Canada and Australia. Some go to great lengths to describe the West as a demon conspiring against the Arabs, the Muslims and Islam and seeking to steal their resources – not that I know what resources they are talking about.

"These publications and those responsible for them usually fail to answer several simple questions, such as: If the West is as you describe it, why do Muslims who flee from their lands, for whatever reasons, prefer to seek shelter in Western countries? Why do they risk their lives trying to get there by land, sea or air? Why do they not turn to the Islamic countries, or to non-Western countries like China, India or Russia? Those who are unlucky and have to stay in these [non-Western] countries wait for an opportunity, any opportunity, to continue to the West. So there must be some important factor that attracts them to the West. What is that factor?

"The Islamists and conspiracy theorists usually avoid answering this question, or present answers that Allah never validated. Another question, no less important, is [the following]: Is there any connection between the secular character of the Western countries, their democratic regimes, their respect for human rights and their progressive character and their appeal for those seeking shelter, especially Muslims? The answer is obviously yes. It is the secular character of these countries that prompts them to be tolerant towards the beliefs of the Muslim refugees. It is their humane and moral character that prompts them to provide [the refugees with] aid and with the [basic] services needed for survival, such as housing, food and the like. And because they are democratic countries, they also allow them to organize and freely express their opinions and ideas.
US No Longer Supports EastMed Gas Pipeline
Washington no longer supports the proposed EastMed gas pipeline from Israel to Europe, according to a Jerusalem diplomatic source.

The Biden administration reportedly informed Israeli, Greek, and Cypriot officials in recent weeks of its change in attitude.

“I believe this is related to Turkish domestic politics. The United States is showing that it is attributing huge significance to Turkey,” Dr. Hay Eytan Cohen Yanarocak, an expert on Turkey at the Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security, told i24NEWS.

Turkey urges that it should be part of the pipeline project amid claims over natural gas in the east Mediterranean.

“This is an open-check for the next potential government in Turkey which may replace [President Tayyip Erdogan] in 2023, which means the US is… calculating the next steps which they will have to deal with in the day after Erodgan.”

In January 2020, the EastMed Pipeline accord was signed by leaders of Israel, Greece, and Cyprus.

If approved, the underwater pipeline would stretch across the Mediterranean Sea, directly connecting east Mediterranean energy resources – Israel – to Greece and other European regions via Cyprus.
'The world doesn't prioritize the Palestinian issue,' says former French PM Manuel Valls

Seth Frantzman: Iran reveals key details of Yemen Houthi attack on UAE - analysis
A recent drone and missile attack on Abu Dhabi has raised concerns across the Middle East about the increasing threat of Iranian drone technology. The Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen are alleged to be responsible for the attack, but key details remain missing from many accounts about how it was carried out.

A long article at Iran’s Tasnim News, which is close to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, has laid out a blow-by-blow account of the attack; its background is likely the fullest explanation yet as to what was behind it and Iran’s next steps.

Iran backs the Houthis and reportedly had a high level IRGC officer in Yemen last year, who was undercover as a diplomat. That ambassador died of Covid, but it illustrates the close alliance between Iran and the Houthis, and the high stakes that Tehran has placed in Yemen.

Iran has used the Houthis to attack Saudi Arabia and last year positioned Shahed 136 drones in Yemen. The drones have a range that can reach Israel. The distance from Yemen to the UAE is around 1,300 km. from where the rockets or drones might have been launched; the distance to Israel is around 2,000 km. Iran coordinates closely with the Houthis.

Let’s look at the Tasnim news piece that reveals the details about the attack as if it were a file laying out a case for why and how the attack happened.

It is important to keep in mind that in September 2019, the Iranians used drones and cruise missiles in a similar attack targeting Saudi Arabia’s Abqaiq facility, which was initially blamed on the Houthis as well. It is also important to look at how the Iranian account reveals the regime's decision to use Yemen to threaten Saudi Arabia, Israel and US forces in the region.

The US has a base at Al Dhafra which is less than ten kilometers from the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) fuel facilities that were targeted by the drones and missiles. The facilities are next to the Al-Musaffah neighborhood.

Yemen-Gulf tensions spike after Houthi drone attack on UAE

Police evict Sheikh Jarrah family that threatened self-immolation
Police evicted and arrested the members of Mahmoud Salhia family before dawn on Wednesday, less than two days after they had threatened self-immolation over the pending loss of their east Jerusalem home in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood.

The move ignited tensions between Israel and the Palestinians. The PLO’s Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) called for escalating “all forms of resistance” against Israel. The Palestinian Authority accused Israel of war crimes and called on the United States and the international community to intervene to halt further demolitions.

Some 18 people were arrested during the evacuation non suspicion of violating a court order, violent fortification and disturbing public order. The original stand-off with police on Monday had ended with the demolition of the family's plant nursery and two storage structures on the property.

Fearful that their home was the true target of the raid, the family had gone on the roof with gas canisters and threatened to set themselves should the police approach.

The family descended from the roof only once the police had left. Officers returned around 3 a.m. Wednesday and removed the family from the home while it was still dark and demolished the stone structure.

The international community, including the European Union, had called on Israel to allow the family to remain.
'EU is twisting international law to fight eviction of Sheikh Jarrah'
Israeli authorities on Monday morning attempted to evict the Salhiya family, Arab squatters living illegally since the 1950s in a home in Jerusalem's Shimon HaTzadik neighborhood, also known as Sheikh Jarrah. The day-long standoff ended without an eviction, though authorities did destroy a plant nursery on the premises as well as two illegal storage structures.

Video and photos from the scene show the Salhiya family standing on the roof of their home with gas canisters. Mohammed Salhiya had threatened to set himself on fire if the eviction order was carried out. "We will not be evicted from the house," he threatened. "Either we will die or we will live. I am going to burn myself!"

Salhiya's family has been facing eviction since 2017, when the land where his home sits was allocated by the city for the construction of a school. The Jerusalem Municipality and the police said in a joint statement that the Salhiya family has ignored "countless opportunities" to vacate the land as ordered.

A delegation of European officials, led by European Union representative Sven Kühn von Burgsdorff, showed up in an apparent attempt to prevent the eviction. The official Twitter account for the European Union Delegation to the Palestinians said, "Imperative to de-escalate the situation and seek a peaceful resolution. Evictions/demolitions are illegal under international law and significantly undermine the prospects for peace as well as fuel tensions on the ground."

According to Avi Bell, a professor at the University of San Diego School of Law and at Bar-Ilan University's Faculty of Law, "the European Union's accusation that Israel is committing war crimes in Sheikh Jarrah by moving forward with plans to build an Arabic-language special-needs school for Israeli and Palestinian Arab residents of the neighborhood shows that European officials harbor equal contempt for common sense, international law and the Jewish state."

PFLP calls for resistance against Israel after Sheikh Jarrah demolitions
The PLO’s Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine called for escalating “all forms of resistance” against Israel in the aftermath of two home demolitions in the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah on Wednesday.

The PFLP warned Israel against proceeding with its alleged plan to “Judaize” Sheikh Jarrah and Jerusalem.

The two homes were taken down amid a legal property dispute with the city, which confiscated the land decades ago for public space and now plans to build a school there for Arab children with special needs.

Palestinians and the international community believe that Israel is working to decrease the Palestinian presence in the city by evicting Palestinian residents to make way for public projects and the construction of Jewish homes.

There are hundreds of Palestinian families, including in Sheikh Jarrah, that face such evictions.

Family of Palestinian-American who died after IDF arrest wants US pressure on probe
The Israeli military confirmed that As’ad had been arrested that fateful night, saying that he had “resisted a security inspection.” The army argued that As’ad had been released and was only subsequently found dead.

“This was an unfortunate incident… But it was only after he was released that he was found dead that morning. The incident is being investigated,” Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz told the Knesset on Monday night.

“I don’t know of other armies which undertake investigations in each individual case. That is what we continue to do going forward, as well,” Gantz added.

Abd al-Ilah, who says he spoke with Palestinians detained on the scene with Omar, claims that the soldiers were there when Omar died.

“They told me the soldiers saw that he had died, checked his body, and fled the scene,” said Abd al-Ilah.

The As’ad family says they have little faith in the Israeli military’s ability to get to the bottom of the incident on its own. They demand that the United States put pressure on Israel to investigate As’ad’s death.
PMW: Israel allows mother to visit dying terrorist son
While the Palestinian Authority is obsessed with demonizing Israel and its treatment of the Palestinian terrorist prisoners, the truth paints a very different picture.

Terrorist Nasser Abu Hmeid was arrested in 2002. Following his conviction, inter alia, for the murder of 7 Israelis - Eliyahu Cohen, Binyamin and Talia Kahane, Gad Rejwan, Yosef Habi, Eli Dahan, and Salim Barakat - Abu Hmeid was sentenced to 7 life sentences. Recently, while still in prison, Abu Hmeid developed lung cancer.

According to many senior PA officials, Israel implements a system of intentional “medical neglect”. Others embellish the libel saying that in Israeli prisons there is “premeditated medical execution,” and that Israel is implementing a policy of “slow death” for the imprisoned terrorists.

In contrast to the distorted and libelous PA picture, the reality couldn’t be more different.

While in prison, Abu Hmeid’s cancer is being treated with the utmost professionalism, and his terror mother, accompanied by one of her other children, was even being allowed to enter Israel to visit him in the Israeli hospital where he is receiving treatment:
“With bullets he writes an inscription of glory” - PA TV song praises terrorist

PA TV host inverts reality: All Palestinian terrorists “refused to kill children and civilians”

Terrorist responsible for murder of 7 praised as “hero” and “lion” by PA TV

PA TV plays song honoring “heroic” murderer of 7

PreOccupiedTerritory: Lack Of Gaza Flooding This Rainy Season May Deprive Propagandists Of Chance To Accuse Israel Of Opening Dams (satire)
Palestinian public figures prominent pro-Palestine activists warned today that this winter’s precipitation to date has failed to overwhelm the drainage infrastructure in this coastal territory more than once so far, and that, if the trend continues, they will not get a compelling opportunity to blame the Jewish State for the recurring phenomenon.

Representatives of the Hamas movement that governs Gaza, along with volunteers and employees of various humanitarian organizations, acknowledged over the last several days that this winter’s rainfall has only flooded the streets of Gaza once, this week, and that no more such flooding will occur unless a significant quantity of rain hits the territory in a short span. Hamas’s diversion of aid materials and funds from public works to its own military purposes translates into inadequate drainage for the Gaza Strip, while anti-Israel voices insist the flooding occurs because Israel opens non-existent dams just outside the territory to overwhelm its drainage capacity and compound misery in the already-blockaded strip. Weather that fails to cooperate with those talking points will mean fewer real-time emotionally-resonant images with which to slander Israel on the subject, a prospect that worries Palestinian propagandists.

“Even during winters with lower-than-average rainfall, we could usually count on at least one storm that just inundated our systems,” recalled Madaza Hatr, a section chief at the Hamas-run Ministry of Infrastructure. “This season we’re only a little behind on the numbers for this date, but the rain that has fallen did so in smaller, more spread-out quantities, allowing our drainage systems to handle the runoff without filling the streets and forcing people off the ground floors of buildings. We might not be able to rely this year on Mother Nature cooperating with our prepared accusations against the Zionist enemy, which raises the question to what extent the enemy controls the weather to thwart our intentions.”