Friday, January 28, 2022

From Ian:

Melanie Phillips: How the West’s Appeasement Mentality Brings Not Peace, But War
Appeasement blindness is why the Biden administration thinks an agreement with the Iranian regime would be worth more than the piece of paper waved by Chamberlain on his return from Munich.

And appeasement blindness is why the West is responsible for the war by the Arab world against Israel. In the 1930s, Britain sought to buy off the Arab uprising in Palestine against the proposed Jewish homeland by offering the Arabs land promised by international agreement to the Jews.

For most of the period since the State of Israel was created, the West has continued with the fiction that the Arab war of extermination against the Jewish homeland is instead a conflict over the division of the land between two sets of people with an entitlement to that land. As a result, the Palestinian Arabs have been incentivized to continue their war of extermination, confident that the West would blame Israel for defending itself.

People often wonder why tiny, embattled Israel bucks the Western trend of fatally low birthrates, sclerotic economies and miserable populations. The basic answer is that it believes in itself and is determined to survive.

To convince Putin not to invade Ukraine, he has to believe that the West means to defend its principles. But for that to happen, the west has to start believing in itself and wanting to survive. And of that, there is no sign.
Caroline Glick: Ukraine and the American crack-up
Biden could have expressed support for Ukraine while noting rightly that Russia's aggressive behavior threatens the nations of Europe more than it threatens the US. And while the US would be happy to stand with its European allies to confront Russia, it will not confront Russia for them. That would have put the ball in Germany's court, and whatever the outcome, the US would have emerged unscathed.

Instead, seemingly on an hourly basis, the administration is ratcheting up its war-mongering rhetoric and threats against Russia. On Tuesday Pentagon spokesman James Kirby said that Biden had ordered 8,500 troops in Europe on alert.

Apparently, the Russians, Ukrainians and the rest of the world were supposed to take Kirby's announcement as proof of Biden's seriousness of purpose. But the opposite is the case. Kirby's statement was utterly meaningless. He didn't say which troops were on alert, or on alert for what. He didn't mention what mission the alerted troops had received. And almost at the same time Kirby made his meaningless announcement, Biden said that no US forces would be deployed to Ukraine.

More than Biden's surrender on Nord Stream 2, it is the complete disconnect between Biden's actual policy and his strategic messaging policies that make governments like Germany's realize that they will pay no price for acting with US adversaries against the US. Busy turning America into a joke on the world stage, Biden will have no interest in punishing Berlin for betraying NATO, and America.

Ukraine is far from the only place where there is zero connection between the Biden administration's policies and its communications strategy. Biden's Iran policy is equally disingenuous and self-destructive. Biden and his team claim that the purpose of the nuclear talks with Iran in Vienna is to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear armed state. But the agreement the US is negotiating with Iran will guarantee Tehran will become a nuclear armed state in short order.

The implications of Biden's foreign policy for the United States are clear enough. Not only is the administration enabling the break-up of NATO, the Biden administration is also destroying America's deterrent power and superpower position.

As for Israelis, and other threatened US allies watching from the sidelines, the take-home lesson of Ukraine is clear. No US security guarantee can outweigh independence of action. To survive, a nation requires strategic, economic and energy independence, and the will to wield it.
The Caroline Glick show: Ep36 – The New Germany, Same as the Old Germany? | Guest: Benjamin Weinthal
With Germany effectively killing the NATO alliance this week by effectively siding with Russia against the U.S. and NATO in the Ukraine crisis, in this week’s show Caroline Glick spoke with veteran reporter Benjamin Weinthal, who served from 2002-2016 as the Jerusalem Post’s correspondent in Berlin and now covers the Middle Eastern affairs for the Post in Jerusalem while serving as a fellow for the Washington, DC based Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

Caroline and Ben looked at Germany’s betrayal of the U.S. today from the perspective of German culture – the deep seated, ubiquitous anti-Americanism and endemic anti-Semitism in German society. They then moved on to discuss Germany’s welcoming attitude towards Muslim migrants with deeply anti-Western and anti-Jewish cultures, its hostility towards Judaism and the German government’s pathological relationship with the Jewish community in Germany. It was a fascinating discussion on the German psyche that revolved around the question of what, if anything has changed in the German psyche since the Holocaust.

David Singer: Back to June 5, 1967?
A circuit breaker is needed – until one legitimate, democratic Arab Palestinian authority emerges – to defuse and hopefully end the increasing violence between Jews and Arabs occurring on virtually a daily basis.

That circuit breaker could involve the UN Security Council, Jordan, Egypt, the PLO and Hamas negotiating with Israel for a partial return to the status quo that existed in Gaza, the 'West Bank' and East Jerusalem on 5 June 1967 - when:
- Egypt had been occupying a Jew-free Gaza since 1948
- The 'West Bank' had been unified with Transjordan since 1950 to form a new country called “Jordan”
- all Jews living in the 'West Bank' having been driven out in 1948 whilst its then Arabs-only remaining population had become Jordanian citizens electing their own representatives to the Jordanian parliament
- The PLO was not claiming regional sovereignty in either the “West Bank in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan” or “on the Gaza Strip” - its activities then being “on the national popular level in the liberational, organizational, political and financial fields”

Hamas did not exist – its founding not occurring until 1988.

Successful negotiations to turn back the political clock existing at 5 June 1967 with changes between Israel andEgypt and Jordan – with whom Israel has had signed peace treaties since 1979 and 1994 respectively – backed by the PLO and Hamas, chaired by the UN Secretary-General could keep the future possibility of the two-state solution alive.

Such negotiations could also open up a variety of other solutions to end the Arab-Jewish conflict including:
- Gaza-Egypt: confederation or unification
- 'West Bank'-Jordan: confederation or
- reunification of such areas of the West Bank with Jordan as is agreed between Israel and Jordan.

The Security Council should heed Wennesland’s advice and use its influence to make these negotiations happen.

Talking is always preferable to fighting.

European Union Quietly Suspends Funding to Palestinian NGOs, Months After Criticizing Israel Over Terror Designation
“We are asking for answers from the Israeli government, and we have not yet received convincing answers. … We need proof of these claims.”

This was the reaction of the European Union’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs, Josep Borrell, in response to Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz’s decision in October 2021 to designate six Palestinian non-governmental organizations (NGOs) as terror groups due to their ties to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP).

The PFLP is well-known for perpetrating endless terrorist atrocities over the decades, and is blacklisted by, among others, the United States and the EU.

Borrell’s remarks – made during a closed-door Ad Hoc Liaison Committee Meeting, which is the international donor group for the Palestinian Authority (PA) – followed a chorus of criticism levied at Israel, including accusations that the government was trying to “muzzle human rights monitoring” and “punish” its detractors.

Quizzed about the Israeli decision at a press briefing, US State Department spokesman Ned Price questioned Israel’s move, and contradicted Jerusalem’s assertion that the Biden administration had been forewarned about the designations.

“We believe respect for human rights, fundamental freedoms, and a strong civil society are critically important to responsible and responsive governance,” Price said.

And in a typically hyperbolic fashion, the United Nations, which announced plans to fund one of the Palestinian NGOs this year, branded the designations a “frontal attack on the Palestinian human rights movement, and on human rights everywhere,” while claiming that such actions are “not what a democracy adhering to well-accepted human rights and humanitarian standards would do.”
Dore Gold: Israel-Turkey reconciliation is important, but won't be easy
Two events are influencing Israeli-Turkish relations in the period ahead. First, since he came into office, President Isaac Herzog appears to be seeking to advance a thaw in the relations between Israel and Turkey. There have been at least three telephone conversations between President Erdogan and his Israeli counterpart. The conversations between the two presidents led to speculation that Herzog would be visiting Turkey in the not-to-distant future.

It should be recalled that since 2008, there has been a steady deterioration in the relations of the two countries, after the IDF entered the Gaza Strip during Operation Cast Lead, against Hamas.

What first demonstrated the change in Turkey’s attitude was the rhetorical exchange between Erdogan and President Shimon Peres at Davos in 2009 when the Turkish president stormed off the stage amid an exchange of shouting. Months later, a Turkish government-backed foundation, known as the IHH, dispatched a flotilla to break the naval blockade of Gaza. Israeli naval commandos boarded the ships including the lead boat, the Mavi Marmara. A UN report concluded that Israel’s blockade of Gaza was legal but that did not alter the downwards trend in Israeli-Turkish relations.

Israel tried to reverse this trend through reconciliation talks with Turkey and negotiations over Israeli compensation for Turkish citizens that died in the Israel raid. In 2016, both states signed the reconciliation deal through their foreign ministries.

The hardest issue they faced was the insistence of Turkey to leave open the Hamas office in Istanbul though Turkey committed itself to not allow from its territory any terror attack on Israel. (In 2014, the head of the Hamas office, Saleh al-Arouri, admitted that a Hamas attack in which three Israeli teenagers were kidnapped and killed, was ordered by him, when he was on Turkish soil.) Israel got the Turks to evict Arouri, but other Hamas members remained. Hamas may be defined as an illegal organization in Egypt, Saudi Arabia and in the UAE, but glaringly not in Turkey.

In the last few weeks, a second development might accelerate an Israeli-Turkish reconciliation. The decision of the Biden administration to remove its support for the undersea pipeline connecting Israeli and Cypriot gas in the Mediterranean to Europe through Greece and Italy, came as a disappointment for those who invested in this project.

10 US states adopt IHRA definition of antisemitism on Holocaust Remembrance Day
Ten US states announced on Wednesday that they are adopting the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) working definition of antisemitism. The announcement came as the world marked International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

Alabama, Arkansas, Idaho, Nevada, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Utah, West Virginia and Wyoming all issued proclamations on Wednesday. The Commonwealth of Virginia issued an executive order.

The IHRA defines antisemitism as “a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.”

“The use of this definition of antisemitism, although it is not to be taken as an exhaustive definition, will increase awareness and understanding of the parameters of contemporary anti-Jewish discrimination in certain circumscribed areas,” some of the proclamations read.

“This wave of executive statements and actions shows that our leaders are taking seriously the need to acknowledge the IHRA definition,” said Pastor John Hagee, founder and chairman of Christians United For Israel (CUFI). “One cannot defeat that which they are unwilling to define, and from Washington to the state capitals, the IHRA definition is being acknowledged and appropriately utilized. In the wake of increasing acts of antisemitism, staying silent is not an option, and we are grateful to governors across the country who are standing up and speaking out on this vital issue. Over the next year, we will work with our partners to advance similar measures and do everything in our power to stem the rising tide of antisemitism that is sweeping across our country.”
UK Government to make Holocaust records open to public for first time
The Government is set to make all records related to the Holocaust open to the public for the first time.

Guernsey and Jersey Governments have also agreed to make their records on the Holocaust publicly available.

The announcement came yesterday, on Holocaust Memorial Day, and the move will provide the public with a far greater resource for research and study purposes. The records, which include 787 books in the St. Lambrecht collection, will be transferred to London’s Wiener Holocaust Library by the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO).

The Rt Hon Lord Pickles, Prime Minister’s Special Envoy for post-Holocaust issues, said: “I am grateful for the full and friendly cooperation of the governments of Guernsey and Jersey. I also thank the diligence of the FCDO staff for their recent work on the St. Lambrecht historic book collection.”

“There can be no better place to keep the collection than the Wiener Holocaust Library,” he added.

Lord Pickles, an Honorary Patron of Campaign Against Antisemitism, has devoted himself to fighting antisemitism throughout his political career. He has been instrumental in securing the widespread adoption of the International Definition of Antisemitism.
Jenrick tells MPs of ‘Jewish Zionist wife’ death threat letter
Ex-Cabinet Minister Robert Jenrick has revealed he recently received a letter telling him to “teach his ‘Jewish Zionist wife’ to ‘put out fires'” – adding the sender had “intended to burn our house down and cremate our children.”

Opening Thursday’s Holocaust Memorial Debate in Westminster Jenrick gave the personal insight into modern day anti-Jewish hatred as he spoke in the House of Commons.

At the end of a debate in which 40 MPs across all parties spoke, Jenrick said the Jewish prayer – Oseh shalom bimromav – telling parliamentarians he was reciting it “in honour of the six million souls who perished in the Holocaust.”

In an emotional speech he told MPs: “Some of us here have been on the receiving end of antisemitism—I know the Member for Barking (Dame Margaret Hodge) has on many occasions.

“I recently received a letter telling me to teach my “Jewish Zionist wife” to “put out fires”, as they intended to burn our house down and cremate our children.”

The former Communities Secretary began the three-hour long debate, because, he revealed, its original sponsor, Dame Margaret Hodge was at home recovering from Covid.

The MP for Newark, who is married to an Israeli, and whose children are brought up as Jews, added:” We use this day to fulfil a solemn obligation, an obligation of remembrance: to never allow the memory of those who died in the holocaust to be forgotten by anyone anywhere in the world. ”

“Today, the 77th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, we remember a dark stain on human history, the greatest evil perpetrated by man against man in the long catalogue of human crimes.

Why It Matters That Support for Israel Among Young Evangelicals Is Falling
Since the founding of the modern state of Israel in 1948, American evangelical Protestants have been among its strongest and most loyal supporters. But support for Israel among younger evangelicals now appears to be declining. That trend is worth watching and understanding, not only because of what it might signal about the future of American evangelicalism but also because of what it could portend for American politics and international relations more broadly.

Evangelicals’ affinity for Israel can be traced back to intertwined theological, historical, and political roots. First and foremost, evangelicals believe that God has an eternal covenant with the Jewish people and gave the land of Israel to them. A significant number of evangelicals also believe the Jewish state’s modern rebirth is the fulfillment of Biblical prophecy; it is also seen as an event leading to the second coming of Christ.

There is also a historical affinity between Christians and Israel. There are obviously significant theological differences between Christianity and Judaism, most especially on the divinity of Jesus, but there are also deep, common ties rooted in faith, religious text, and land. Christians and Jews are, in a sense, spiritual and religious cousins.

Because of Christianity’s own awful complicity in anti-Semitism over the millennia—“people bearing the name of Christ had spent centuries demonizing the Jewish people and shedding Jewish blood,” in the words of Robert W. Nicholson, president of the Philos Project—for some Christians there has been something redemptive in supporting the modern state of Israel, particularly in the aftermath of the Shoah. (One of the heartening developments in modern history is the enormous progress we’ve seen in vanquishing from many parts of Christianity “the world’s oldest hatred,” anti-Semitism.)

Polls from the last two decades illustrate how these theological, historical, and political concerns are bound together. In various Pew surveys from 2003 to 2006, for example, evangelicals by large margins said that they sympathize with Israel and that U.S. policy should favor Israel, and reported that their beliefs were shaped by their understanding of Biblical prophecy and the conviction that God gave Israel to the Jews.
The Israel Guys: THIS ATTACK SHOULD NOT Be Labeled “Settler Violence”
So called “settler violence” is in the news again, but this time, the story is real. A group of Jewish residents from the community of Givat Ronen in Samaria attacked Arabs from the nearby town of Burin, along with left-wing Jewish activists who were there to help them plant trees. Violence is always wrong, and these perpetrators will be dealt with to the furthest extent of the law.

However, should this story be labeled as “settler violence” or simply crime? Find out in today’s program.

The other question is why does the world ignore the Arab terrorism that happens on a near weekly basis while focusing on the occasional Jewish act of violence? Just a few days after this violent act happened, there was an attempted shooting, a ramming, and a car bombing. Why does no one care about that?

PA hasn't removed hateful content from textbooks, producing worse content
The Palestinian Authority (PA) has reneged on an agreement with the EU to revise its academic curriculums in 2021 and have instead promoted new academic materials that feature hateful language and violent imagery, a January 2022 report by The Institute for Monitoring Peace and Tolerance in School Education (IMPACT-se) discovered.

Despite a roadmap created in tandem with the European Union to ensure new textbooks produced in 2021 would be free of hate – an initiative started following the publication of an EU funded study on Palestinian textbooks that discovered rampant antisemitism and violent references – the PA has not removed the troubling content from its textbooks, which are used to educate public school children in PA-administered regions.

"Faced with a clear call by the EU for them to create new textbooks free of hate and antisemitism, the PA simply reprinted the old ones, then produced thousands of pages of new teaching material with content worse than the textbooks themselves," said IMPACT-se CEO Marcus Sheff. "The EU was apparently unaware of any of this."

While neglecting their promise to edit the textbooks, the PA produced thousands of pages of new material – much of it directly propagating violence and overt antisemitism. For instance, some materials teach of the “characteristics” of Jews who are devious and treacherous and Israelis, who are described as “Satan’s aide.”

MEMRI: Gulf States Furious At Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad Over Expressions Of Support For Houthis
Following reports about heavy loss of life in January 21, 2022 airstrikes by the Saudi-led Arab coalition against the Iran-backed Houthi movement in Yemen,[1] the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) held a mass rally in the Gaza Strip. At the rally participants held up pictures of Houthi movement leader 'Abd Al-Malik Al-Houthi and of other leaders of the Iran-led resistance axis, such as Hizbullah secretary-general Hassan Nasrallah and Iranian General Qassem Soleimani, who was assassinated by the U.S.[2] In his speech at the rally, PIJ political bureau member Khaled Al-Batsh slammed the Saudi-led coalition, accusing it of perpetrating "massacres" and "murdering women, children and unarmed civilians" in the service of the U.S. and Israel. He added that "the Arab armies have abandoned Palestine and now their role is to protect the thrones [of the leaders] from the fury of the peoples."[3] An official PIJ statement harshly condemned the "aggression" of the Arab coalition and of the Arab regimes "that have tied their fate to the American-Zionist policy in the region."[4]

It should be mentioned that no Hamas leaders were seen at the rally, but since this movement controls the Gaza Strip, the rally was probably held with its approval.

January 21 PIJ rally in Gaza: Participants hold up pictures of PIJ leaders, alongside pictures of resistance axis leaders: Houthi leader 'Abd Al-Malik Al-Houthi, Hizbullah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah, assassinated Iranian General Qassem Soleimani, and assassinated Hizbullah commander 'Imad Mughniyah (Source:, January 23, 2021)

The same day, Hamas political bureau member Mahmoud Al-Zahhar made similar statements to the Lebanese channel Al-Mayadin, saying that "the Gulf regimes that are attacking Yemen will pay a price for their policy," and that "the Saudi coalition wants to appease the West and the Zionist entity."[5]

The expressions of support for the Houthis at the Gaza rally, and the statements of Hamas official Al-Zahhar, rekindled the anger in the Gulf against Hamas. Articles in the Saudi and Emirati press and posts on social media accused Hamas of treachery and ingratitude for turning its back on the Arabs in general and the Gulf states in particular, and of serving Iran. One Saudi journalist even called to stop all aid to the Palestinians, who have "committed every possible [transgression] against the [Saudi] kingdom."

On January 23, 2022, apparently in order to appease the anger in the Gulf, Hamas issued a press release renouncing the blunt remarks voiced against the Gulf states and stressing that they "do not reflect our position and our policy, which is known and unchanging, of refraining from interfering in the internal affairs of [Arab] countries." The statement stressed that Hamas is interested in maintaining "balanced" relations with all Arab and Islamic elements, hinting at its close relations with Iran, the Houthis' patron. [6]

Netflix's first Arabic film sparks outcry in Egypt where critics call for it to be banned for 'promoting homosexuality' and 'destroying family values'
Netflix's first Arabic film has sparked an outcry in Egypt where critics are calling for it to be banned for 'promoting homosexuality' and 'destroying family values.'

'Ashab wala Aaz' - one of countless remakes of the Italian comedy-drama 'Perfetti Sconosciutti' (Perfect Strangers) - features renowned actors from Lebanon, Egypt and Jordan, including Egyptian star Mona Zaki.

The movie is about a group of friends meeting for dinner and deciding to make the night more interesting by agreeing to share every text message, email and phone call received with the rest of the group.

As events unfold, the game reveals shocking truths about members of the group as it touches on topics from adultery and premarital sex to homosexuality, all widely considered taboos in Egypt.

The film, which was released on January 20, immediately shot up to the most-watched list in Egypt, but has simultaneously sparked a huge backlash against the explicit topics of the group's conversations.
MEMRI: How A New JCPOA Will Turbocharge Lebanon's Destruction
One of the cruelest aspects of the Syrian Civil War was the ethnic cleansing. Every side did it, purging populations of the wrong ethnic or religious group from regions they controlled (Turkey did it over Kurdish majority areas like Afrin, populating it with Sunni Arabs who had themselves been pushed out by the Assad regime elsewhere). The Assad regime was the biggest driver of demographic change on the ground, pushing people out of some areas, millions of them fleeing the country. Assad was aided in this by his allies Russia, Iran, and the Lebanese terrorist group Hezbollah. This demographic change continues in conquered areas of Syria as Iran and Hezbollah seek to promote Shia Islam among the Sunni population while also settling foreign militiamen in key areas.

The same demographic push happened in Iraq and was done also through both violence and coercion. The strategic Jurf al-Sakhar (now renamed Jurf al-Nasr by the conquerors) region south of Baghdad was cleansed of its Sunni Arab population (now languishing in IDP camps elsewhere)[1] by Iranian-controlled Iraqi militias who keep it as a closed military zone. These militias also seek to take over towns in the historically Christian and Yazidi Nineveh Plain area in Northern Iraq. And absentee owners from the wrong religion or ethnic group regularly risk losing their property in Mosul or Baghdad to politically connected criminal networks.

In Syria and Iraq, the ethnic cleansing happened under cover of war. But in Lebanon there is a silent, slow-motion ethnic cleansing happening before our eyes, driven by the economic crisis and benefitting Hezbollah, the best funded (with hard currency from Iran) faction in Lebanon while its local rivals are beggared. Such an operation will only accelerate should a new JCPOA nuclear deal be agreed to in Vienna between the United States and Iran. Ahead of any such deal, Iran and its proxies are already benefiting financially by decreased American pressure on the regime by the Biden Administration.[2] And Hezbollah is not merely just another Iranian-supported militia, like those deadly local groups in Iraq and Syria. It is a strategic tool of Iran incorporated deeply into the IRGC's long reach, an equal partner in Iran's ambitious regional project.[3]

Fresh dollars from the nuclear deal will line Hezbollah's coffers and will not only go for salaries and weapons and political influence, but also for real estate, as the group seeks to expand Shia-dominated areas of Lebanon, ideally geographically connecting the mostly Shia South to the group's South Beirut stronghold and to Shia populations in current Christian majority areas like Batroun. Hezbollah's state within a state will become a literal, physical project on the ground, displacing Christian, Druze, and Sunni Muslims getting in the way.[4]

A Failure to Explain Iran’s Threats to Israel
If you are an Israeli, you see the regional threats from Iran and its proxy forces very clearly.

When Israelis are forced to run into bomb shelters with their children because of Hamas rocket attacks from Gaza, reality and the lessons of history become clearly related. When Israelis look north to Lebanon and see Iran’s proxy Hezbollah armed with more than 130,000 rockets and missiles, and they see Iran’s efforts to arm proxy forces in Syria with precision-guided missiles, they see a dangerous reality that few American journalists even attempt to explain.

History has taught the Jewish people to take threats to their annihilation very seriously. In a 2007 speech on Holocaust Remembrance Day, the late Tommy Lapid, a Holocaust survivor and father of Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, warned:
The civilized world advises us to be compliant, to compromise, and to take risks for the sake of giving peace a chance. And we ask the civilized world … what will you do if we take those risks, and place our trust in you, and then, something goes wrong? If the other side doesn’t behave as it’s expected to, but instead rains fire and brimstone down on us, and epidemics and poisons, and perhaps even nuclear weapons? What will you do then? Tell us: sorry, we were wrong? Will you send us bandages? Open orphanages for the children who survive? Pray for the eternal welfare of our immortal souls?

When the West decides to take the words “Never Again” as seriously as Israelis do, then there will be hope that Iran’s leaders will be held accountable to a higher standard. Not only will the world then refuse to tolerate their threats to genocide against the Jewish state, but it will become unacceptable for Iran to develop the means to commit genocide through their support for terrorists and pursuit of nuclear weapons.

Unfortunately, I am not hopeful about the ability of the international community to learn and implement the lessons of history. As Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said, “Of course, we prefer to act in international cooperation, but if necessary, we will act alone. We will defend ourselves by ourselves.”
The Post-Post-JCPOA World
Washington was and is stuck. Whatever political consensus we had about the Islamic Republic cracked during Obama’s presidency. We could see it coming with Bill Clinton, when his administration—actually most of the Washington foreign-policy establishment—poorly analyzed what was going to happen in Iran when Mohammad Khatami, a wonkish, Westernized cleric with a big smile, became president in 1997 and his May 23rd movement briefly dominated the Islamic Republic’s intellectual life. Many thought Thermidor had arrived. Alas, it hadn’t. Ardent believers in the Islamic revolution, led by Khamenei, hit back. Civil society—the space that the regime gives Iranians to indulge their enormous capacity for joie-de-vivre—shrank. It’s contracted much further. The regime has hardened, not softened, as the distance between rulers and ruled grows.

Today it’s not clear that Iran analysis really matters much in how the Biden administration has formulated its approach to Khamenei’s nuclear ambitions. With Obama, it didn’t really matter much either. But the president really did believe, at least early on, that his personal charisma could transform the 30-year enmity—progressives tend to call deep ideological and cultural hatred between nations and peoples “misunderstandings” or “miscommunications.” He mirror-imaged his self-perception into Middle Eastern arms control. And lots of folks in D.C. thought Rouhani, a founding father of the Islamic Republic’s police state, would as president somehow create a new, less antagonistic modus vivendi between Washington and Tehran. With Khamenei and his mini-me president, Ebrahim Raisi, at the helm, it’s probably impossible for the Biden administration to conjure up a promising, “moderate” Iranian counterpart. Republicans can be stupid and unnuanced about the Islamic Republic; the crudeness with which some of them can talk about Islam could make a European Islamophobe blush. But the American right has done better in appreciating what the supreme leader and his men have tried to make crystal clear: They zealously hate us.

Really only one question remains now: Will the Israelis strike? Excluding the outside chance that the Iranian people might rise up again and terminally convulse the Islamic Republic, only Israeli air raids, might, just possibly, upset Khamenei’s nuclear plans. The clerical regime has displayed impressive tenacity and ingenuity (the decision to back the construction of a clandestine nuclear site in Syria was an especially bold move, which the Israelis successfully countered by bombing it in 2007). We should always be able to admire our enemies when they play a weak hand well. Even without the nuclear achievement, Khamenei ought to be considered the most accomplished post-WWII dictator in the Middle East. Add on the bomb, and he could rightfully look upon Ruhollah Khomeini’s massive mausoleum, and, like Justinian within the Hagia Sophia remembering Solomon’s Temple, he could proudly say:

“I have surpassed thee.”
Iran's state TV hacker calls 'death to Khamenei'
Iran's state broadcaster IRIB was hacked for 10 seconds on Thursday, state media reported, as the country prepares to mark the anniversary of its 1979 Islamic Revolution.

"During a period of 10 seconds, the faces and voices of hypocrites appeared on (our) Channel One," IRIB said, a phrase Iran's clerical rulers use to refer to exiled opposition group People’s Mujahideen Organisation of Iran (PMOI).

The PMOI - also known as the Mujahideen Khalq Organisation (MKO) - presents itself as an alternative to Iran's theocracy and is the main faction within the exiled opposition umbrella organization, the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI).

During the hack, pictures of MKO leaders Maryam and Masoud Rajavi appeared on state TV and a man's voice could be heard chanting "Salute to Rajavi, death to (Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali) Khamenei!," according to videos posted on social media.
Six rockets hit Baghdad airport, damaging disused civilian plane
Six rockets were fired Friday at the Iraqi capital’s airport, causing damage but no casualties, security sources said, the latest in a string of attacks the US blames on Iran-linked militias.

The rockets hit Baghdad International Airport’s runways and parking areas, one of the sources said.

“One civilian plane has been hit and damaged,” the source, based at the interior ministry, said.

A second security source confirmed the attack consisted of six rockets that fell around civil installations at the airport, damaging a stationary plane.

A third source identified the plane as a Boeing 767 belonging to the state-owned Iraqi Airways, noting that it was not in service and was undergoing repairs.

The attack was not immediately claimed.

'My dream is Iranian judokas at World Championships in Israel'
Over the last few years, judo has become one of the most successful sports in Israel. At almost every competition it succeeds in bringing athletes to the podium, dozens of clubs with thousands of children have been established across the country, and in the recent campaigns at the Olympic Games in Rio and in Tokyo, it preserved the tradition of Olympic medals.

Quite a bit of this can be credited to the President of the Israel Judo Association Moshe Ponte, who joined the association at the start of 2012, at the height of its collapse. Ponte succeeded in rehabilitating the image of the sport, stabilizing it financially and improving it professionally with the promotion of Oren Smadja and Shany Hershko as national coaches. Under his management, the judokas have participated in the European and World Championships, the Grand Prix, and the Grand Slam, and even made history by participating in competitions in the Gulf states while flying the Israeli flag, long before anyone had thought of the Abraham Accords.

Now, following the 2020 Tokyo campaign and at the start of the journey to Paris 2024, Ponte (65), who was Smadja's coach when he won an Olympic medal at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, sits down for an exclusive and unrestrained interview with Israel Hayom.

"Speaking truthfully, I expected more at Tokyo," Ponte begins. "I am satisfied with everything that happened at the Olympic Games. We succeeded in winning a medal in the team competition, but there were things that didn't work like they were supposed to. We've learned lessons – and we'll fix it."

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