Wednesday, February 02, 2022

02/02 Links Pt1: Amnesty International Wants to End the Jewish State; Amnesty report affirms PLO's 'apartheid' strategy; UAE proceeding with planned $10b. Israel investments

From Ian:

Melanie Phillips: The Amnesty International hate group
Amnesty International has produced a report that claims Israel is an “apartheid” state. This follows similar diatribes by other NGOs obsessively promoting the delegitimisation and destruction of Israel.

Their strategy is to shift from their usual fare of false allegations about Israel’s oppression of the Palestinian Arabs in the disputed territories to false allegations about Israel’s oppression of Israel’s Arab citizens.

Libelling Israel as an “apartheid state” is the unconscionable agenda of the UN Human Rights Council commission of inquiry, about which I wrote here, which is working hand-in-glove with NGOs in a veritable axis of evil determined to bring about Israel’s destruction.

The accusation of Israeli apartheid is risible, and anyone with a functioning brain can see at a glance that Amnesty has produced a report as ludicrous as it is malevolent.

It’s ludicrous to claim apartheid is enforced against the Palestinian Arabs living in the disputed territories of the “West Bank” — because they aren’t even citizens of Israel.

It’s ludicrous to claim apartheid is enforced against Israel’s Arab citizens because they have full civil and religious rights. An Arab Islamist party, for heaven’s sake, holds the balance of power in Israel’s ruling coalition. An Arab judge sent a previous Israeli president to jail. Amnesty falsely claims:
Israel maintains Jewish domination over the Palestinian economy through the exclusion and intentional neglect of Palestinian communities inside Israel.

But as Elder of Zyon points out:
Yet Israel's largest Arab-majority city, Nazareth, is a high tech hub, hosting R&D centres from Amdocs, Microsoft, Broadcom and Salesforce. Nazareth hosts over 70 startups. Thousands of Arabs work in technology and the number is skyrocketing.

If Israel intends to have Jewish dominance over the Arab economy by neglecting Arab communities, then why does it allow so many major companies to open up in Nazareth?

Why indeed. And as this report observes, Arab Israeli superstars are making strides in culture, sports, medicine, environment, fashion, diplomacy, education and technology.

Richard Kemp: Amnesty International Wants to End the Jewish State
Unfortunately for the inveterate peace-processors and their followers, the Arab world has moved on from their own opposition to Israel. They see the country for what it is: a source of stability and prosperity in the region. They understand the dangers of continuing Palestinian intransigence and animosity and have denied them a veto on progress — a veto that Amnesty and its fellow Israel rejectionists want to see reinstated.

This report will also provoke increased violence, abuse and boycotts against Jews in Israel and Jews who support Israel in the diaspora, in an era where antisemitic attacks are already at a high point and on the rise. That may not be Amnesty's aim in producing this twisted document, but they cannot be so blind as to fail to see its bloody consequences, which have played out over decades following similar distorted reports, debates, resolutions and media fabrications.

The definition of antisemitism by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) includes: "Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a state of Israel is a racist endeavor". The British government has signed up to the IHRA definition. Amnesty is based in the UK and the UK police should now investigate it for spreading these grievous antisemitic lies.

Amnesty's Fall: Understanding the NGO's True Agenda
Amnesty International has suffered the same fall. In April 2018, Amnesty's Secretary-General called Israel's democratically-elected government "rogue." In 2010, the head of its Finland branch called Israel a "scum state." Amnesty's UK Campaign Manager has likened Israel to ISIS and been condemned for his attacks on Jewish Members of Parliament.

In 2015, Amnesty UK voted down a motion to campaign against antisemitism amid deadly acts against Jews in Europe. The organization claimed it did not support campaigns with "a single focus," dubious indeed given its anti-Islamophobia campaigns and obsessive pursuit of Israel.

The former head of Amnesty's gender unit, Gita Sahgal, was suspended from the organization and eventually forced out after she criticized Amnesty's partnership with the controversial British group, CAGE, which campaigns for the release of those detained in the war on terror. Moazzam Begg, CAGE's director of outreach has said that British, American and Australian troops were "the bad guys" and that the Taliban "should be given the right to celebrate" its conquest of Afghanistan.

Then there's the researchers Amnesty hires to write its reports. Amnesty hired Deborah Hyams as its "Israel, Occupied Palestinian Territories" researcher despite Hyams' earlier record of participating in protests alongside local activists and acting as a "human shield" against Israeli soldiers. Another senior Amnesty hire, Saleh Hijazi, previously worked for the Palestinian Authority and was the listed contact for a local NGO whose slogan is "We are Intifada!" Amnesty's research consultant, Hind Khoudary publicly declared she wanted Israel "gone."

Any of these associations should have disqualified these individuals from ever touching anything concerning Israel. Instead, Amnesty prizes and defends them as assets.

The former U.S. diplomat Daniel Moynihan once observed that the most democratic states suffer the worst accusations of human rights abuses because their transparency makes them so easy to see, report and exploit. They pay for their openness. To defer to Robert Bernstein's wisdom once more, only by returning to their "founding mission and the spirit of humility" can these organizations again serve as a moral force.

Until then, they have no moral authority to comment.
Debate: Is Amnesty right in accusing Israel of 'apartheid'?
Samer Sinijlawi, Fatah Activist & Hillel Neuer, Executive Director from UN Watch debate on Middle East Now with anchor Laura Cellier about the latest on Amnesty International declaring Israel an apartheid state.

Arsen Ostrovsky debates Amnesty International over their Israel 'apartheid' Report
My debate on i24 TV with Phil Luther, Middle East and North Africa Research and Advocacy Director at Amnesty International, regarding Amnesty's 'apartheid' report against Israel (1st Feb, 2022)

'More than 200 pages of false report,' says Foreign Ministry spokesperson
Israel's foreign ministry official talks Amnesty International report.

'This is as inclusive as you can get,' says Lior Hayat.

Interview with Lior Hayat, Spokesperson of the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Amnesty report affirms PLO's 'apartheid' strategy
As early as 1961, Ahmad Shukairy, the PLO's first chairman, a former Saudi ambassador to the United Nations, declared to the UN General Assembly that Israel was practicing the "apartheid of South Africa." He also "Nazified" Israel, by accusing it of embodying Adolph "Eichmann in a state."

Amnesty's report parallels Shukairy's denunciations of Israel, which preceded Israel's so-called "occupation" of the West Bank by half a dozen years. In both cases, it's Israel's reestablishment in 1948, not its surprise victory in the 1967 Six-Day War over Arab marauders and unexpected winning of Jerusalem and historic Judea and Samaria from Jordan, Gaza from Egypt and the Golan Heights from Syria, that's at the root of the delegitimization and defamation.

Yasser Arafat, Shukairy's successor as PLO chief, would continue the assault on the fragile, practically indefensible, Jewish State. He internationalized Israel's criminalization, likening it to apartheid South Africa.

In his infamous 1974 UN "gun and holster" address, Arafat compared Zionism to apartheid and referred to them as the remaining evils of the 20th century. He and his Soviet sponsors successfully mobilized Third World and non-aligned countries to pass UNGA Resolution 3379, "Zionism is Racism," demonizing the notion of Jewish self-determination a mere three decades after the Nazi genocide of six million Jews.

The Amnesty document's cancellation of Israel's legitimacy mirrors the 1975 UN resolution, which constituted a key part of the PLO's Marxist-Leninist "long war" strategy. The Soviet-backed and -directed disinformation campaign sought to isolate and undermine Israel as a "colonialist and imperialist" implant in the Middle East.

Arafat skillfully and deceptively branded Israel as a racist Western power, uprooting its identity as an indigenous Near Eastern civilization, in order to coalesce the Third World and nonaligned countries, and specifically African nations. By that act, he planted the seed of the "racialization" of Israel as a white-supremacist entity that has borne fruit in today's Western discourse.

He successfully fused Israel with apartheid South Africa, around whose condemnation and isolation the international community coalesced. The language, intent and much of the content in the Amnesty report reflect the PLO's revolutionary strategy, based on its 1968 charter and later on its 1974 "plan of stages."

Germany rejects Amnesty’s description of Israel as an apartheid state
Germany said on Wednesday it rejects the use of the term “apartheid” to describe Israel, a day after Amnesty International report accused the Jewish state of discriminatory practices amounting to apartheid both within its internationally recognized borders and in the Palestinian territories.

“We reject expressions like apartheid or a one-sided focusing of criticism on Israel. That is not helpful to solving the conflict in the Middle East,” Reuters quoted Foreign Ministry spokesperson Christopher Burger as saying in a news conference.

His comments followed similar criticism by US officials.

US Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides rejected the report, calling its central accusation “absurd.”

State Department spokesman Ned Price said the US does not generally comment on reports by outside groups, but it rejects the view that Israel’s actions constitute apartheid.

Israel Advocacy Movement: Stop giving money to Amnesty International
This is why you shouldn't support Amnesty International if you care about human rights. #SHAMnesty

Apartheid? The boot is on the other foot
As Amnesty International publishes its report smearing Israel as ‘apartheid’ in order to compare it to the old racist regime in South Africa, we reproduce an article from 2013 that reflects on the irony at the campaign’s heart: much of society under Muslim domination was built on the exploitation of women, Jews and Christians and blacks. Today the Arab world is almost judenrein. The Jews have since found freedom in Israel, and the Abraham Accords have helped to demolish old prejudices.

Anyone who knows anything about Israel will tell you that the comparison is invidious and malicious. Israeli law does not discriminate against Arab citizens. Of course there is – there must be – plenty of room for improvement, but show me one liberal democracy where minorities do not claim to experience discrimination and prejudice.

Not only is the Israel Apartheid campaign a monumental lie of gobsmacking chutzpah, but the boot is on the Arab foot. You only have to witness the way that Arab host countries treat their Palestinians, who are denied citizenship. And not only Palestinians – Kuwait has 300,000 Bedoun residents denied citizenship and the right to vote. Thousands of children born in Arab countries are deprived of citizenship merely because their parents were not citizens. Immigrants from South Asia with no rights whatsoever help keep countries like Dubai, Saudi Arabia and the Emirates running.

Those who berate the West for its orientalism towards the Third World, quoting the late Edward Said‘s eponymous book, ignore the fact that much of society under Muslim domination was built on the exploitation of women, Jews (and Christians) and blacks. Not only are all Arab countries strong contenders in the Apartheid Oscars, but Saudi Arabia would win hands down. At the bottom of its obscene pecking order are women, non-Muslims and slaves.

British media outlets omit reason why Amnesty is accused of antisemitism
Why is Amnesty being accused of antisemitism? Readers of those publications would never know, as no explanation was provided. So, many would likely conclude that it was a change without substance, reinforcing the smear that Jews cry antisemitism to stifle criticism of Israel.

Interestingly, the one exception was an article in the Telegraph by James Rothwell (“Israel labels Amnesty International ‘anti-Semitic’ over ‘apartheid’ report, Jan. 31) which opens thusly:
Israel’s government has accused Amnesty International of anti-Semitism over a forthcoming report which will claim that Palestinians live under apartheid.

Lior Haiat, a spokesman for Israel’s foreign ministry, branded the report a “collection of lies” which sought to “deny the right of existence of the state of Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people.”

“This is a double standard, demonising Israel in order to delegitimise the existence of the state of Israel. Those are the components of modern anti-semitism,” he said. “We have no other choice but to say that this whole report is anti-Semitic.”

This is extremely important context. Haiat is correct that Amnesty doesn’t just accuse Israel of “apartheid”, but, in language throughout the lengthy report, suggests that a Jewish state within any borders is intrinsically racist.

Let’s recall the IHRA Working Definition of antisemitism includes the following as an example of antisemitism:
Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor.

First, in the original wording of the report, Amnesty accused Israel of being an apartheid state since 1948, the state announced independence.

Though, evidently due to criticism, they slightly amended one of the sentences in question, other sections of the report use that same apartheid start date, charging that, “since its establishment in 1948, Israel has pursued a policy of establishing and maintaining a Jewish demographic hegemony…”. This indicates that the very idea of a Jewish majority state is a manifestation of apartheid, as opposed to any particular polices towards the Palestinians that the state has adopted over the years.

There’s more evidence that this is indeed their view.

Israeli Defense Minister Gantz Arrives in Bahrain for Unprecedented Visit
Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz landed in Bahrain on Wednesday in the first such visit by an Israeli defense minister to the Gulf country, the ministry said Wednesday.

Israel and Bahrain normalized relations in September 2020 as part of the Abraham Accords brokered by the US.

Gantz was greeted by Bahraini counterpart Abdulla bin Hasan Al Nuaimi, and is expected to meet Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa to sign an agreement on defense cooperation, according to Israeli media.

In another significant development, Gantz’s plane flew through Saudi airspace in order to reach Bahrain. The visit also marks the first time an Israeli Air Force plane has officially landed in the Gulf country, Gantz’s office said.

The Israeli defense chief’s visit comes amid heightened tensions in the Gulf, after the Iran-supported Houthi terrorist group in Yemen launched a rocket attack on the UAE earlier this week during a visit by Israeli President Isaac Herzog.
UAE proceeding with planned $10b. Israel investments
The biggest news from Israeli President Isaac Herzog's visit to the United Arab Emirates was not to do with diplomacy or defense but rather the huge sums that Abu Dhabi plans to invest in Israel.

Sources close to the matter have told Globes that UAE Crown Prince Mohamed bin Zayed has decided to unfreeze the $10 billion in investments in Israeli companies that he promised former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The UAE's large sovereign funds will divide the investments between them, including the ADIA Fund and the Mubadala Fund, although the first fund that will enter the Israeli market is the ADG (Abu Dhabi Growth) Fund, part of the ADQ Group. This fund plans investing $200 million in 2022 in Israeli companies, and a similar sum each year over 10 years.

A senior source in the UAE told Globes that Abu Dhabi has been waiting patiently for the Israeli political scene to stabilize before renewing the process of fulfilling bin Zayed's promise. Herzog's visit, personal, diplomatic but not political, meant that he was the right person at the right time to officially start the investment process.

ADG Fund chairman Faris Mohammed Al Mazrouei met with several members of the small Israeli delegation that accompanied President Herzog. At meetings in Abu Dhabi, the Israelis and Emiratis spoke about the mechanisms for the investment and how organizations like the Manufacturers Association of Israel and the Israel Export Institute would help direct the investments.
The Trump-Netanyahu achievements are under attack
The presidential visit signals to the UAE that Israel is steadfast in its commitment. Barely a week has gone by since the current government took office without a visit by some Israeli lawmaker to the Gulf state.

The US' conciliatory approach, which enabled Russian aggression in Ukraine, is also the cause for tensions in the Middle East. Just as in the case of the Houthis, Washington no longer opposes the International Monetary Fund's five-billion-dollar loan to Iran.

Similarly, last year, Secretary of State Antony Blinken removed the sanctions previously imposed by presidents Obama and Trump on Nord Stream 2, the gas pipeline between Russia and Germany running along the Baltic seabed, and its chief executive Matthias Warnig. Such actions are perceived by leaders – Russian President Vladimir Putin and Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi – as an incentive to continue further demands, as well as aggression.

Seeing that the US cannot focus on two hot spots at the same time, tensions in the Middle East are likely to rise. However, it must be noted that despite talks of improving ties with Egypt – presidential visits or even active diplomacy in Cairo are far from being actualized.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan should direct his signals of seeking improved ties with Israel to Herzog. A meeting between then woudl be a most-welcome development , but one that Israel should not be too eager to arrange. Perhaps, it is best Israel give Greece and Cyprus the same reassurance it gives the UAE.
Israel's COVID death toll nears 9,000 as concerns rise over Omicron subvariant
The coronavirus infection rate decreased slightly in the past 24 hours and currently stands at 26.15%, according to Health Ministry data published on Wednesday morning. Altogether, 230,715 Israelis were screened for the virus on Tuesday, of whom 60,329 tested positive.

The reproduction rate, which refers to the number of people each confirmed carrier infects, also decreased slightly and now stands at 0.91. Any value below 1 means that the infection is subsiding.

There are 435,189 active cases in the country with 2,763 patients hospitalized. Of those, 1,085 are in serious condition – 316 are critically ill, 260 are on ventilators and 17 are connected to ECMO machines. Currently, 91,239 Israelis are in quarantine, of whom 6,644 are healthcare personnel, including 914 doctors and 2,199 nurses.

Thus far, 647,831 Israelis have been vaccinated with four doses, 4,443,628 with three, 6,096,034 with two, and 6,691,819 have received one shot.

Israel has reported 2,987,977 COVID cases, including 8,926 deaths, since the outbreak of the pandemic in March 2020.

Ministry data also showed that several Israelis who recovered after contracting the Omicron variant went on to get infected with its subvariant BA.2. As such, experts fear that the antibodies created after the Omicron infection do not protect one against its mutation. Similar data was also reported in countries worldwide.
FBI admits it acquired NSO's Pegasus spyware in 2019 - report
The Federal Bureau of Investigation acquired Israeli tech company NSO Group's Pegasus spyware for $9 million in 2019, the US agency confirmed to UK news outlet The Guardian on Wednesday.

But Pegasus was never used in any FBI investigation, the bureau claimed, adding that it "procured a limited license for product testing and evaluation only."

According to the report, the deal struck between the FBI and NSO was a one-year test project worth around $5 million. Despite "not using it at all... like, not even switching it on," according to a source, the FBI renewed the contract for another year, bringing the deal up to $9 million.

The deal was agreed upon following a "long process" of disagreements on how much control NSO Group would retain over its software, a source told The Guardian. The FBI reportedly took issue with NSO's policy of keeping sensors on its technology in order to be alerted if it was moved by a government client and to keep track of its physical location.
Military Court Convicts Hamas Cell Commander for 2019 Soldier-Student’s Murder
An Israeli military court on Monday convicted a Hamas cell leader for the murder of Israeli teen Dvir Sorek in 2019.

In its decision, the court accepted the prosecution’s contention that Ahmad Asafra, who led the cell that carried out the attack but was not actually present when the crime was committed, was responsible for intentionally causing Sorek’s death. That charge is equivalent to murder in the military court.

Asafra was also convicted of two other charges of attempting to cause intentional death, as well as a series of security offenses, according to an IDF statement. The court has not yet sentenced him.

Yusef Zohar, another cell member, was convicted of a number of security offenses and sentenced to life imprisonment plus 15 years. Zohar, too was not present when the murder was committed.

These latest convictions bring the total number of Palestinians convicted for the attack to four. In December, Qassem and Nasir Asafra, who are cousins, were sentenced to life imprisonment for Sorek’s murder. Qassem Asafra was also charged with the attempted murder of two Israelis in a 2011 Beersheva terrorist attack, for which he was not apprehended at the time.

Sorek was only 18 at the time of his death. He was enrolled in a hesder yeshiva program, which combines army service with Torah study. He was off-duty and attacked after he alighted from a bus close to the Migdal Oz yeshiva.
Arab Caught with Treasure Trove of Archeological Artifacts
A police operation to confiscate illegal weapons in Arab localities in northern Israel led to the exposure of a treasure trove of apparently stolen archeological artifacts.

Border Police troops operating on Wednesday with police detectives in the Arab town of Abu Snan in the Galilee to locate weapons searched the home of a suspect.

During the search in the yard of the house, a small bag containing hundreds of ancient coins was found hidden under a rock. Later, a number of ancient sculptures were seized in a nearby warehouse.

The suspect, a local resident in his 30s, was arrested and the findings were transferred for investigation to the Israel Antiquities Authority.

Felons committing antiquities-related offenses can face up to five years in prison under Israeli law.

Help Combat Hamas Terrorism: Join HonestReporting Campaign to Expose Entities Helping Gaza’s Rulers Hide Reported $500 Million
HonestReporting recently published, “As Media Berate Israel, Hamas Reportedly Hiding Enough Funds to Fully Rebuild Gaza Strip,” which amplified an exposĂ© on Hamas’ secret foreign investment portfolio reportedly worth some $500 million.

According to documents obtained from Western intelligence sources, Gaza’s ruling faction — deemed a terror group in its entirety by the United States, the United Kingdom, the European Union, Canada, Israel and Japan — holds interests in at least 40 international companies.

Soon after we took action, the apparent revelation was cited in several European outlets, prompting Belgian MP Kathleen Depoorter to submit questions to the government about how development aid was being spent in the Gaza Strip. According to the World Bank, the alleged $500 million Hamas has stashed away could be used to repair all damages in Gaza from last May’s 11-day conflict the terrorist group initiated with Israel, as well as offset any resulting economic losses.

Indeed, Forbes Israel years ago described Hamas as the world’s third-richest terror group, after the Taliban and Iranian-backed Hezbollah.

Now, the plot has thickened.

The semi-official Saudi newspaper Okaz reported that Hamas’ financial portfolio suffered a “severe blow” after London-based financial institution Lloyd’s three months ago warned some of its members against doing any business with the terror group.
PMW: What does supporting “Palestinian reconciliation” really mean?
The two Palestinian groups - Fatah and Hamas - which dominate Palestinian society, have constantly been at loggerheads. Hamas publicly advocates for Israel's destruction and openly uses terror as a means to forward its goal. Fatah exercises political pragmatism. To the international community Fatah claims to have rejected terror, while to its own people it honors terrorists, rewards them financially, and celebrates the murder of Israelis. To the international community Fatah claims to have accepted Israel's existence, but to its own people and children it regularly reminds them that its goal is elimination of Israel.

When people and organizations call for “Palestinian reconciliation”, what they are really saying is that even though Hamas openly seeks Israel's destruction and openly brags about its murderous terror, this should not prevent it from being a legitimate partner within the Palestinian Authority, and thereby open the door for its acceptance as a legitimate political actor within the international community.

While it is well known that Hamas, an internationally designated terror organization, controls the Gaza Strip, what is less publicized is the fact that the group enjoys substantial popular support in Judea and Samaria/the “West Bank” where its terrorists carry out thousands of terror attacks every year. To celebrate its terror and to mark the New Year, Hamas published a flier boasting of the number terror attacks carried out by the organization in the Judea and Samaria in 2021.

According to the flier, in 2021 Hamas terrorists carried out “four times” the number of terror attacks carried out by its terrorists in 2020. Of the 10,850 “resistance operations” - the Palestinian euphemism for acts of terror - 441 were “quality operations” apparently including “191 shootings”, “62 stabbings and car rammings” and “55 [incidents of] planting and detonating explosives.” The flier also noted that Hamas terrorists participated in “4,100 [cases of] throwing rocks and firebombs” and “4,700 confrontations and stopping the settlers”:
“We salute all the noble heroes,” says Abbas advisor about imprisoned terrorists and murderers

PA: Jewish presence at the Temple Mount is a “break in,” the “alleged Temple” is a “myth”

Iran Weeks Away From Having Fuel To Power Atomic Bomb, State Department Warns
Iran is weeks away from having the fuel needed to power an atomic weapon, according to the State Department, which says that negotiations over a revamped nuclear deal will conclude in the coming weeks—even if the parties fail to reach a deal.

Iran will have enough fissile material enriched to weapons-grade capacity in "weeks, not months," a senior State Department official told reporters on Monday following the conclusion of another round of indirect talks with Iran and world powers in Vienna.

Following 10 months of negotiations, the State Department says diplomacy will cease in the coming weeks whether Iran takes a deal or not. This is because the Biden administration assesses that Iran’s nuclear program will have become so advanced that reentering the 2015 nuclear accord will provide no benefits to U.S. and global national security. In the years since President Donald Trump withdrew from the deal, Iran has enriched uranium, the key component in a bomb, to extremely high levels of purity. It also has booted international nuclear inspectors from the country and ramped up its installation of advanced nuclear centrifuges.

"We are in the final stretch because, as we’ve said now for some time, this can’t go on forever because of Iran’s nuclear advances," the senior State Department official said. "This is not a prediction. It’s not a threat. It’s not an artificial deadline. It’s just a requirement that we’ve conveyed indirectly to Iran and to all our [international] partners for some time, which is that given the pace of Iran’s advances, its nuclear advances, we only have a handful of weeks left to get a deal, after which point it will unfortunately be no longer possible to return to the [deal] and to recapture the nonproliferation benefits that the deal provided for us."

The United States has made clear to the Iranians and other world powers involved in the talks—including China and Russia—that the "final moment" for diplomacy is fast approaching.