Saturday, February 05, 2022

02/05 Links: Amnesty, the Media, and Waving Narratives in the Air; US waives sanctions on Iran’s civil atomic program in bid to advance nuke talks

From Ian:

The apartheid libel is a nuclear weapon
The Amnesty International report released this week seeks to harness the diplomatic equivalent of a nuclear weapon against the State of Israel: the apartheid libel.

The accusation is a lie, without any foundation in truth. It is a desecration of the memory of the victims of the real apartheid, and it is a cynical abuse of the term in the cause of another form of bigotry – antisemitism. But its immorality and falsehood make it no less dangerous.

The intent of those who apply the apartheid label to Israel is the same as the Iranian regime: to destroy the Jewish state. They are merely using another weapon – equally lethal.

I say this having grown up in South Africa through the 1980s, experiencing the effects of global sanctions against the apartheid government. It was a noble campaign to bring the evil National Party regime to its knees and cause the demise of the injustice of a real apartheid system. And it was devastatingly successful.

It made being a South African citizen shameful. It completely broke the will of white South Africans to continue the apartheid policies. The economic sanctions hurt the pockets of the people, while the symbolically powerful sporting and cultural boycotts made white South Africans feel like pariahs. International travel with a South African passport was like walking around with a badge of shame.

The intention behind this Amnesty International report, like all those who falsely accuse Israel of apartheid, is to destroy the Jewish state by breaking the resolve of its brave citizens by making them ashamed of their country, reluctant to serve in its army or pay its taxes; instead looking to emigrate to avoid the disgrace and pain of sanctions and international ostracism.
Amnesty, the Media, and Waving Narratives in the Air
Anyone who actually managed to read through Amnesty’s 280-page report accusing Israel of the crime of apartheid will tell you that it is not particularly well-written or convincing. It’s a confusing, disorganized mess that would make any self-respecting lawyer want to abandon the practice of law, lest they be a part of a professional industry that has been so degraded by such amateurish rubbish.

But Amnesty knows almost no one will actually read the report.

As law professor Avi Bell explained regarding Human Rights Watch’s report in 2021 (but which equally applies to Amnesty’s report this week), “the length of the report is an important part of HRW’s strategy of marketing its propaganda as ‘research.’”

Amnesty is counting on lazy journalists and politicians to pick up the report and wave it around, picking out a random quote a staffer found that suggests Israel is a racist endeavor. They also know too few journalists these days are willing and able to perform serious journalism and ask the tough questions (with very notable exceptions such as Lazar Berman’s outstanding interview of two top Amnesty officials).

As a consequence of Amnesty’s deliberate exploitation of media bias and unprofessionalism, too many are hearing the false, slanderous narratives of “Israeli apartheid” instead of the actual reality on the ground, in which the Arabs of Jerusalem prefer Israeli rule to Palestinian rule.

Those who would support the truth, and those who recognize the creeping danger of the mainstreaming of antisemitism being fueled by this dynamic, must be prepared to push back. There have already been many outstanding responses to Amnesty’s libels, such as those of my colleagues at CAMERA as well as many other lawyers and researchers. There is also good journalism out there, such as The Algemeiner’s coverage of the poll of Arab Jerusalemites. It’s time to start picking up these articles and responses and start waving them back.

CAMERA: Amnesty International’s Big Lie About Israel

BICOM Briefing | Amnesty International and “Apartheid”
In response to the new Amnesty International report on Israel and “Apartheid”, BICOM has published a short briefing explaining how the report presents a one-sided account of a complex conflict, ignores more hopeful developments between Israel, its Arab citizens and the Palestinians, and damages local and regional hopes of building peace and advancing a solution between Israel and the Palestinians. Click on the link below to read the full briefing. Download PDF

Abraham Accords: The gift that keeps on giving
It seems that cooperation with Bahrain – located 140 miles from Iran – is beneficial for Israel in several ways. And although it is hard to imagine Manama will allow Jerusalem to operate its ships on Bahraini soil anytime soon, signing a security memorandum of understanding and gathering intelligence from its territory certainly are. Bahrain, in turn, will be exposed to military technological capabilities unlike any it has ever seen before, and receive protection against the Iranian threat.

Gantz's visit will also resonate across the Middle East, where conflict on the Temple Mount could impact what is happening in Iran. Iran strives to exert its influence, and sometimes power, on Arab countries that closely neighbor Israel. All of a sudden, Israel behaves the same way and arrives at Iran's doorstep. So Tehran's response may include warnings and threats to the countries of the regions, perhaps even action.

The Biden administration has mostly withdrawn from the region militarily, but it continues its diplomatic work in the region in all areas. Washington is pressed to present some kind of achievement ahead of November's elections to try and preserve the Democratic majority in both houses, with the remaining two years of Biden's presidency bound to be challenging.

One such important achievement could be the signing of the Iran nuclear deal. Not for nothing has the US organized a large-scale naval exercise from the Fifth Fleet that includes 60 ships, which the Israeli navy will soon join too.

It is to pressure Iran to sign the agreement. This is an obvious American interest, and we sometimes serve as extras in this production. Either way, Gantz's visit to Manama provides fertile ground for further cooperation between Bahrain and the Fifth Fleet. This connection is vital for Israel's security and the source of a major headache for Iran.
Hebrew lessons in high demand in Gulf in wake of Abraham Accords
Yosef Bugnum el-Hamali, a resident of Abu Dhabi, remembers the specific moment when he heard about the signing of the Abraham Accords, and understood that the human connection embodied in the new agreement with Israel lay, before everything, in learning the language of his Jewish neighbors living in the Gulf states. He then jumped at the opportunity to learn Hebrew: "Less than a fortnight after the agreement," he recalls, "I was happy to find a private teacher, a fluent Hebrew-speaking Egyptian, who had learned [the language] while working in Egyptian tourism."

Next, he registered for a private school in Tel Aviv that teaches online Hebrew classes via Zoom, "and I realized that there were a number of other students from the UAE. It's a very special feeling." Since then, el-Hamali (48), has been practicing the language every day, and for a long time, almost daily, he has been uploading pictures of exercises he has written in Hebrew.

"Hebrew is an ancient and interesting language, and of course, it's a Semitic language like Arabic," he says, "but when I started studying, I was still very surprised by the level of similarities between them. You need to pay attention to the changing meanings when you move a note of punctuation on the letter that's pronounced in the sentence – it can be dramatic."

And what about an exercise that includes a conversation in Hebrew with Israelis? "One of the reasons that I wanted to learn Hebrew was that I noticed that, when speaking with an Israeli in Hebrew, the dialogue and the dynamic become more harmonious. It's possible to speak with ease very quickly, and we feel the closeness that politics had destroyed for us for many years. I began learning about Judaism, and as expected the communication becomes much closer when we cross the language barrier."
Seth Frantzman: Beijing Olympics serve as venue for Middle East leaders to meet
Videos and reports circulating online show that the Olympics in Beijing have also been a platform for meetings between various leaders from the Middle East who are attending.

Among the leaders from the region who are attending are key figures from Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia is a major trading partner with China, as are the other Gulf states. Until recently there were strong tensions between Qatar and Egypt, as well as between Qatar and Saudi Arabia, but China appears to be a venue where these states can meet.

Egypt Today reported that “President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi met with Emir of Qatar Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, on the sidelines of the opening ceremony of the 24th Winter Olympics Beijing on Friday. President Sisi and the Emir of Qatar, along with other Arab leaders, are visiting Beijing for participation in the opening ceremony of the 24th Winter Olympics upon the Chinese President’s invitation.”

The leaders had met in August 2021 to push for reconciliation. “On June 15, 2021, President Sisi sent an invitation to Prince Tamim to visit Egypt at the earliest opportunity, according to a statement by the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The invitation was sent by Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry in Doha,” Egypt Today said.

Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, also attended the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics in Beijing on Friday, according to The National, a UAE newspaper.

"I was honored to attend the spectacular opening ceremony of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing," he said in a tweet. “I wish the organizers and competitors every success for the Games, which embody the power of sport to promote understanding and friendship among the people of the world."
Coups, COVID and Row Over Israel Test African Leaders at Summit
Leaders gathered at an African Union (AU) summit called on Saturday for the continent to have a bigger role on the international stage amid signs the bloc is struggling to forge a coordinated response to challenges from coups to COVID-19.

The AU, formed 20 years ago to foster regional cooperation, has taken little decisive action in the face of six coups or attempted coups in Africa over the past 18 months, and the power grabs were high on the summit agenda.

While the bloc did move to suspend Burkina Faso, Mali and Sudan following military takeovers, it is unclear whether the ban has had any effect on the countries’ new leaders.

AU Commission Chair Moussa Faki Mahamat told leaders at the opening ceremony that the security situation in Africa required the bloc to take a new approach and called for “more active inter-African solidarity”.

Differences between members over the bloc’s relationship with Israel broke into the open at the ceremony.

Faki defended his decision last year to unilaterally accept Israel’s request for observer status at the AU, a step that bolsters Israeli ties with the organization.

South Africa, where the ruling party strongly backs the Palestinian cause, has criticized that move.

Along with Nigeria, Algeria and a Southern African regional bloc, South Africa is pushing for Israel’s status to be revoked, according to an internal memo prepared for the summit and seen by Reuters.

A ‘Palestine-firster’ scandal comes to the US Congress
Chehade reportedly secured Newman’s agreement to control her positions on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict entirely. Arguably, that wasn’t such a big ask, given that Newman had sponsored multiple bills in favor of a Palestinian Arab state and, last September, was one of only eight Democratic legislators to vote against a bill authorizing $1 billion for Israel’s Iron Dome anti-missile system. Moreover, a visit to her website reveals just one topic under the issues tab: “Israel-Palestine.”

Nonetheless, according to the communications discovered by the Daily Beast, Chehade clearly wasn’t leaving anything to chance, demanding Newman’s agreement on a range of policy issues. This would mean opposing all legislation involving military aid to Israel, supporting legislation on Palestinian Arab statehood and traveling to the region on “fact-finding” missions whose itinerary would be entirely set by Chehade.

Chehade also demanded that Newman boycott Israeli and Jewish organizations, revealing himself in the process to be an eliminationist anti-Zionist who is opposed to Israel’s very existence. “At no point will Newman accept partial or complete funding for congressional delegations from the [Jewish National Fund], any organization affiliated with the Israeli government, or any organization that embraces Israeli’s Zionist or colonial project,” he wrote.

At no stage did Newman give any sense of being troubled by the use of federal funds to reach a private agreement with a Palestinian Arab advocate that would have provided him with a well-paid job and political influence—the source of Ethics Committee’s concern. Instead, she responded to Chehade’s email by saying, “Most of it looks good. Couple of concerns—mostly phraseology.”

Newman has dismissed the investigation into her professional relationship with Chehade as a “partisan witch hunt.” She is also poised to lose her congressional seat following redistricting in Illinois, which means that she will have to face off later this year against a legislator from her own party, Rep. Sean Casten. It shouldn’t come as shock, therefore, if the progressive “Squad” of House Democrats loses at least one member in 2022.

Even if Newman does disappear from Capitol Hill, the lessons from her dubious arrangement with Chehade need to be absorbed. It’s painfully obvious that no American interest is served by the adoption of anti-Israel positions on the part of an elected representative at the behest of an outside adviser who calls the shots. Newman and Chehade can fairly be called “Palestine-Firsters,” in that for both of them, the Palestinian cause takes precedence over all other considerations. Other legislators in the House should not make the same mistake.
Pro-Israel Democrat PAC Announces First Slate of 2022 Endorsements
The endorsements were made due to their support for strengthening the US-Israeli relationship, supporting military aid to Israel without preconditions, and opposition to the BDS movement while working with the Biden administration to advance the Democratic agenda, according to a DMFI news release.

“DMFI PAC was proud to have played a pivotal role in ensuring the success of dozens of pro-Israel Democrats in 2020 and in 2021 special elections across the country — election cycles that proved being pro-Israel is good politics, as well as good policy,” said DMFI PAC President Mark Mellman in the release, adding that “2022 is another critically important election year with several strong pro-Israel champions facing challengers hellbent on using the US-Israel alliance to divide Democrats when the party most requires unity to defend our slim House and Senate majorities.”

A few of the candidates running against DMFI endorsed candidates have taken positions openly critical of Israel and in favor of BDS.

According to the release, DMFI PAC plans to make additional endorsements as states complete redistricting, and candidates make their final decisions of whether and where to run for election.
COVID-19: Israel sees highest number of serious cases since start of pandemic
Israel recorded the highest number of serious COVID-19 cases since the start of the pandemic over the weekend, with 1,213 people reported to be in serious condition. The previous record was 1,193 serious cases on January 17, 2021.

A total of 37,977 new COVID-19 cases were recorded in Israel on Friday, according to a Saturday evening Health Ministry update, bringing the total number of active cases in Israel to 370,798.

The 1,213 serious cases include 270 intubated patients. Of the 148,988 tests taken, both PCR and antigen, there was a positive return rate of 25.5%.

Of some 5,800 people currently hospitalized with COVID-19, some 84% are over the age of 60. The haredi (ultra-Orthodox) sector comprised 8% of all serious and critical cases, while the Arab sector comprised 20%. The remainder are from the general population.

The R rate remains relatively steady at 0.88 and has been declining since mid-January.
Israeli study offers strongest proof yet of vitamin D’s power to fight COVID
Israel scientists say they have gathered the most convincing evidence to date that increased vitamin D levels can help COVID-19 patients reduce the risk of serious illness or death.

Researchers from Bar Ilan University and the Galilee Medical Center say that the vitamin has such a strong impact on disease severity that they can predict how people would fare if infected based on nothing more than their ages and vitamin D levels.

Lacking vitamin D significantly increases danger levels, they concluded in newly peer-reviewed research published Thursday in the journal PLOS One.

The study is based on research conducted during Israel’s first two waves of the virus, before vaccines were widely available, and doctors emphasized that vitamin supplements were not a substitute for vaccines, but rather a way to keep immunity levels from falling.

Vitamin D deficiency is endemic across the Middle East, including in Israel, where nearly four in five people are low on the vitamin, according to one study from 2011. By taking supplements before infection, though, the researchers in the new Israeli study found that patients could avoid the worst effects of the disease.

“We found it remarkable, and striking, to see the difference in the chances of becoming a severe patient when you are lacking in vitamin D compared to when you’re not,” said Dr. Amiel Dror, a Galilee Medical Center physician and Bar Ilan researcher who was part of the team behind the study.
Israeli Army Simulates Northern War as Hezbollah ‘Precision’ Missile Threat Looms
On a Sunday morning in January, Lt. Ilay Levy, squad commander in an elite Israeli paratrooper unit, drove to the Golan Heights as if he was called up for war with Lebanon’s Hezbollah.

Levy was part of a four-day drill in Israel’s wooded, hilly north, allowing troops to practice fighting in the terrain they would face in combat and to test their readiness for a potential escalation with the Iran-backed terrorist group.

“[We] simulated fighting as if we were at war with Lebanon,” Levy told The Algemeiner in a recent interview. “[It] was quite difficult and hard because of the cold and harsh weather conditions and a lack of sleep, which challenged the strength of the soldiers and improved our readiness against the enemy.”

The drill involved combining advanced means of observation with tanks, drones, and artillery, in scenarios focused on fighting terrorist organizations in the northern theater.

“The army is becoming more and more technological,” Levy remarked. “There are many new technologies such as drones and computerized tools for navigation which help us a lot during the fighting, and which we didn’t have before. So we put a lot of focus on training with technological means.”

The drill also sought to specifically strengthen the “resilience” of the battalion by improving the mental and physical capabilities, as well as combat fitness, of the soldiers, the Israel Defense Forces said.

Levy said that one of the challenges paratroopers face is integrating with different forces to fight in unison.
Border Police troops come under fire near Jenin; vehicle damaged, with no injuries
A police vehicle was damaged in a drive-by shooting attack in the northern West Bank on Saturday evening, law enforcement officials said.

An off-road vehicle with several Palestinian gunmen inside drove near Border Police officers conducting “routine security activity” near the Palestinian city of Jenin and opened fire, a police spokesperson said.

Officers returned fire, but the gunmen fled the scene, police said.

Police said no injuries were caused, but the officers’ vehicle was damaged by the gunfire.

Police and military forces began to scan the area.
World Council of Churches Acknowledges Palestinian Violence Against Christians in West Bank
Credit where credit is due.

The World Council of Churches, which has a spotty history when it comes to dealing with the underlying causes of the Arab-Israeli conflict in the Middle East and, more specifically, problems in Palestinian society that hinder the prospects of peace in the Holy Land, has done a good thing.

It has issued a statement calling on the Palestinian Authority to rein in violence against Christians in the West Bank. It doesn’t specifically declare that the perpetrators of said violence are Palestinians, but given the context, it’s clear that this in fact the case.

Interestingly enough, the WCC cites a well-known Zionist website, IsraellyCool, as one of its sources of information.

This is frankly astounding.

The WCC did these things in a statement issued on Feb. 3, 2022 titled, “WCC expresses concern about violence against Christians in Palestinian Authority areas.” Citing numerous sources, the statement issued by Rev. Prof. Dr. Ioan Sauca, the organization’s acting General Secretary, details a number of troubling attacks on Christians in the West Bank and calls on the Palestinian Authority “to ensure justice and dignity for all citizens.”

The WCC cites a Jan. 24, 2022 attack on Father Justinus, of Jacob’s Well Monastery, Nablus by unknown assailants and the Jan. 28, 2022 attack on Daoud and Daher Nassar, proprietors of the Tent of Nations. To document the attack on the Nassars, the WCC cited an article by IsraellyCool available here. The IsraellyCool article states explicitly, “The attackers were almost certainly [P]alestinian Muslims, since they came from the village of Nahalin.”

Sauca “called on the Palestinian Authority to uphold the law, prosecute the perpetrators, and take steps to ensure that no such attacks occur in the future.”
Amid uproar, PLO poised to endorse Abbas loyalists to key posts
The Palestinian Central Council (PCC), the second highest decision-making body of the PLO, is scheduled to convene in Ramallah on Sunday amid unprecedented criticism and calls for boycotting the session.

Three PLO factions, including the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, announced their intention to boycott the meeting, warning that it would deepen divisions among the Palestinians and reinforce the Ramallah-based leadership’s “hegemony” over major decision-making bodies.

The PFLP called on the Palestinian leadership to call off the gathering and to commit to reforming the PLO and ending the division between the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Palestinian political analysts said over the weekend that the main goal of the PCC meeting is to fill vacancies in the PLO and its legislative body, the Palestinian National Council (PNC), with officials closely associated with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

The PCC, the analysts said, is expected to approve the appointment of Hussein al-Sheikh, head of the General Authority of Civil Affairs, as member and secretary-general of the PLO Executive Committee, a job held by the late Saeb Erekat until his death in late 2020.

The Central Council is also expected to approve the appointment of a new member of the PLO Executive Committee to replace Hanan Ashrawi, who resigned in 2020 after accusing the Palestinian leadership of marginalizing and excluding the PLO from decision-making.

It was not clear on Saturday who would replace Ashrawi, who announced on Saturday that she has decided to boycott the meeting.
Seth Frantzman: Is Syria-Turkey border a safe haven for ISIS leaders?
ISIS maintains a presence not only in Idlib, where its two leaders were found but also in Turkey. In addition, ISIS recently staged a large attack on an SDF-run prison in Syria. The battles left numerous casualties, probably in the hundreds. That battle was followed by Turkey launching widespread airstrikes in Syria and Iraq, targeting areas like Sinjar where Yazidi victims of ISIS live. Turkish-backed extremists also attacked Tel Tamir, an area where Christian minorities live in an SDF-controlled area of eastern Syria. Bizarrely, the raid on the ISIS leader came just days after the ISIS prison break took place. ISIS fighters had surrendered in Hasaka to US-backed SDF forces on January 26. On Wednesday, February 2, the raid took place to kill the ISIS leader.

The timing is strange. The prison break, the Turkish airstrikes against anti-ISIS forces and then the raid. We may never know how all this interplay works. The US does not want to hint at Turkey’s problematic role in backing extremists in Syria and giving a safe haven to extremists in Idlib. This safe haven has enabled ISIS leaders to move in next door to Turkey. These ISIS leaders are from Iraq and yet they fear living in Iraq and parts of Syria where the SDF and Syrian regime are present. The only place they seem to feel safe is near Turkey’s border - yet the two US raids show they are not completely safe. How Turkish intelligence hasn’t noted their presence either means Turkey is not paying attention, or it is playing a role in what is happening.

The house Baghdadi lived in is barely 20km from the house where his successor was found. It’s a forty-minute drive, but would be much faster if one went as the crow flies because Turkey’s border juts into the area between Barisha and Atmeh. In short, these two ISIS leaders lived as close as possible to Turkey’s key border crossing with Syria, without actually moving to Turkey. If they had lived any close they would have had to cross the border. And this is an active border crossing where extremist groups have received assistance in the past.

It’s clear the ISIS leaders chose this for a reason. Officials don’t want to say what they suspect may be happening. Even reports like the one at CNN didn’t want to mention the complexities of the border or HTS or what else is going on in this area, such as the ethnic cleansing of nearby Afrin. However, the presence of the ISIS leaders here cannot be seen except in the context of this reality. ISIS committed genocide against minorities, such as Yazidis, Shi’ites and Christians. It is no coincidence that when groups like Ahrar al-Sharqiya, backed by Turkey, rampaged through Afrin, kidnapping women, persecuting minorities and engaging in crimes that were so heinous the US sanctioned the group in July 2021.

This forms part of the context as to why ISIS felt comfortable in this area - with Afrin cleansed of opposition and minorities and Turkey’s bases nearby, it was a perfect setting for ISIS to set up camp. That the new leader of ISIS who came on the scene after Baghdadi’s demise choose to live close to where the US found Baghdadi, showed he was not concerned. Now he is dead and it is unclear if more ISIS leaders will be found in this area, or if they will transit the border or through Afrin and Idlib to some other area.
New York Times Coverage of Iran Talks Shows Paper Can’t Be Trusted on Topic
The New York Times itself published a headline on March 15, 2016 — before Trump had even been elected, let alone exited the nuclear deal — that said, “Israel Calls on UN to Punish Iran for Missile Tests, Saying It Violated Nuclear Pact.” So by the definition of the Israelis, at least — who are the ones Iran is planning to kill with the nuclear weapons — Iran, not the US, first violated the pact. President Trump couldn’t truthfully certify to Congress that Iran was in compliance with the deal; as the Trump administration said in a White House statement explaining the American withdrawal, the original deal “did not include a strong enough mechanism for inspections and verification.”

The Times reports that a restored Iran nuclear deal “would not halt Tehran’s support for terrorist groups or its proxy forces, which have stirred unrest across the Middle East, as some Democrats and nearly all Republicans have demanded.” This is the latest in a series of recent examples where the paper’s writing and editing is so bad that it’s not clear whether the problem is bias or incompetence. What are the Democrats and Republicans demanding? That the deal halt the support? Or not halt it? Or that the proxy forces stir unrest? Probably what the Times is trying to communicate is that a restored deal won’t meet congressional demands that Iran cease support for terrorist groups. But “not halt” understates the failure of a renewed deal in that regard. The problem isn’t merely that the deal wouldn’t halt such activities, but that it would subsidize them with $700 billion in sanctions relief. That money will pay terrorists to kill Jews.

Anyway, be warned. The Times had to be shamed into eventually canceling the luxury “Times Journeys” tours it was operating to Iran with Times-journalist tour-guides accompanying participants who paid prices up to $135,000. A regular Times op-ed contributor is facing federal criminal charges as a paid Iranian foreign agent, a fact that the paper hasn’t yet deigned to disclose to the newspaper’s readers. In those circumstances, you’d think the news reporters and editors would bend over backward to take care that their coverage was accurate rather than tilted. Instead, news articles reinforce the overall impression that the Times can’t be trusted on anything having to do with Iran.
Iran ‘set to explode’ while Biden unfreezes $29 billion for regime
An activist hack organization has revealed a highly sensitive Iran Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps document that asserts Iranian “society is in a state of explosion” because of the crippling sanctions imposed on the nation due to its illicit nuclear program.

The US government news organization Radio Farda obtained the document from Edalat-e Ali (Ali’s Justice), the whistleblower entity, that has also secured confidential documents and video footage about the torture of Iranian prisoners, wrote Radio Farda.

According to Radio Farda’s Golnaz Esfandiari, who authored the exclusive article, “the document covers a meeting with IRGC’s intelligence wing and quotes an official named “Mohammadi” saying that Iran’s “society is in a state of explosion.”

Mohammadi added that “social discontent has risen by 300% in the past year.”

Radio Farda said it could not verify the authenticity of the document beyond the sourcing of Ali’s Justice.
US waives sanctions on Iran’s civil atomic program in bid to advance nuke talks
The Biden administration on Friday restored some sanctions relief to Iran’s atomic program as talks aimed at salvaging the languishing 2015 nuclear deal enter a critical phase.

As US negotiators head back to Vienna for what could be a make-or-break session, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken signed several sanctions waivers related to Iran’s civilian nuclear activities. The move reverses the Trump administration’s decision to rescind them.

The waivers are intended to entice Iran to return to compliance with the 2015 deal that it has been violating since former president Donald Trump withdrew from the agreement in 2018 and re-imposed US sanctions. Iran says it is not respecting the terms of the deal because the US pulled out of it first. Iran has demanded the restoration of all sanctions relief it was promised under the deal to return to compliance.

Friday’s move lifts the sanctions threat against foreign countries and companies from Russia, China and Europe that had been cooperating with non-military parts of Iran’s nuclear program under the terms of the 2015 deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA.

The Trump administration had ended the so-called “civ-nuke” waivers in May 2020 as part of its “maximum pressure” campaign against Iran that began when Trump withdrew the US from the deal in 2018, complaining that it was the worst diplomatic agreement ever negotiated and gave Iran a pathway to developing the bomb.

As a presidential candidate, Joe Biden made a US return to the nuclear deal a priority, and his administration has pursued that goal but there has been little progress toward that end since he took office a year ago. Administration officials said the waivers were being restored to help push the Vienna negotiations forward.

GOP Demands Biden Iran Envoy Testify Before Congress
A group of Republican foreign policy leaders are demanding the Biden administration Iran envoy Robert Malley appear before Congress to testify about his efforts to revive the 2015 nuclear accord, according to a copy of the request sent to the State Department on Friday and obtained by the Washington Free Beacon.

Malley, who was appointed last year to spearhead negotiations with Iran, has not appeared before Congress since taking the job, though Republicans on the House Foreign Affairs Committee have asked many times to be briefed on the matter. Malley faced pushback on Capitol Hill when he was first appointed to the job, with lawmakers citing his past anti-Israel writings and efforts in 2008 to negotiate with the terror group Hamas, which saw him fired from President Barack Obama’s campaign.

With the Biden administration expected to announce a deal with Iran in the coming weeks, Malley is under pressure to answer questions before the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Malley "has yet to appear before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs for a public hearing to update Congress on nuclear talks with the regime and other important topics, such as American hostages that remain held in Iran, the regime’s ongoing regional aggression, and its destabilizing missile program," wrote the nine GOP lawmakers, led by Rep. Claudia Tenney (R., N.Y.).

The request for this briefing comes amid reports that "the U.S. negotiating team under Malley’s leadership is in complete disarray," according to the lawmakers, who cite the recent firing of a State Department official who advocated a tougher line on Iran in the talks. It also is becoming increasingly clear that Iran’s demands for full-scale sanctions relief will be accommodated by Malley and his team.

"Mr. Malley is forcing out those who disagree with him. With the recent departure of the deputy special envoy for Iran, Richard Nephew, who was reportedly forced out for advocating a tougher posture against the regime, it is time for Mr. Malley to appear before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs to answer important questions," the lawmakers wrote, adding that Trump administration's Iran envoy Brian Hook repeatedly briefed Congress during his tenure in the position.
Eve Barlow: Whoopi Goldberg’s Ignorance About The Holocaust Is What Happens When Intersectionality Rots People’s Brains
If there was a list of the most treacherous libels that exist about Jews in the modern day, this is the grand lie that would top it. We saw it dominate media during the outbreak of a war between Israel and Hamas last May. The war led to a spike in antisemitic attacks in states all over the country, perpetrated by antisemites who weren’t attacking Zionists, but Jews.

Goldberg’s absurd comments come only a week after the internationally observed Holocaust Memorial Day. That’s a day set aside for non-Jews to contemplate the idea of “Never again.” Jews have their own calendar date to remember the memories of those who died; it’s called Yom HaShoah and occurs in the Hebrew calendar in the spring.

A subject of grave frustration for Jewish journalists and advocates every year is the way the Holocaust has been universalized. This increased de-Jewification of the Holocaust occurs every time another celebrity or media pundit recklessly compares something “bad” to the Holocaust, when it has no relation to the events masterminded by Nazi Germany. Whether it’s anti-vaxxers comparing mask mandates to Jews having to wear yellow stars, or PETA comparing farming to concentration camps, these comparisons are trivializing, dehumanizing, and dangerous.

With fewer survivors around to tell their stories, it’s imperative that those with responsibility and platform speak on this unambiguously anti-Jewish event with expertise. If they cannot do that, they should not speak at all.

The Holocaust was not, as Goldberg put it, about “man’s inhumanity to man.” It was about man’s genocide of Jews. It was not a universal lesson, although it has use as such. The Holocaust was a uniquely antisemitic atrocity. While, yes, it wound up taking the lives of those in other communities, it began as an exercise in racial-ethnic cleansing of the Jewish people.

Watching a panel on “The View” containing no Jews discuss an event that is carried by most every living Jew alive today, and do so with absolutely no knowledge but with shocking confidence and entitlement, shouldn’t be explained away as a blip. This is a sign of a far bigger problem.

Historical analysis of left-wing British antisemitism puts Corbyn crisis in context
He correctly identifies that much Left antisemitism today is political antisemitism, in contrast to the historical racist antisemitism promulgated by the far Right, a distinction I have also noted elsewhere.

But it, nevertheless, remains a form of bigotry that should be rejected by all progressives who claim to believe in universal fairness and equality. Randall urges genuinely internationalist Marxists to directly challenge and confront manifestations of Left antisemitism using strategies of public debate, polemic and community education.

One minor shortcoming of this text is Randall’s repeated argument for aligning the struggle against Left antisemitism with pro-Palestinian solidarity activism. This is problematic for three reasons. Firstly, modern antisemitism including forms of Left antisemitism long predated the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, as Randall himself discusses.

Secondly, although some contemporary Left antisemitism is linked to anti-Zionist fundamentalist perspectives, equally many of the most common themes of Left antisemitism – ie conspiracy theories accusing Jews of global control of finance, politics and the media – have nothing to do with real events in the Middle East.

Thirdly, there is no reason why progressives should display unqualified solidarity with Palestinian nationalism or any other nationalist movement. Rather, all nationalisms should be judged on their merits. In the case of Israel and the Palestinians, this means supporting the moderates and opposing the extremists on both sides.

It should involve solidarity with those Palestinians who support a negotiated two-state solution with Israel, but equally (as Randall implicitly acknowledges) zero tolerance for Islamist fundamentalists such as Hamas who seek to replace Israel with a theocratic Arab state of Greater Palestine.

These minor quibbles aside, this text by a committed socialist should be effective in educating all open-minded sections of the Left on the necessity for combatting antisemitism, whether in its reactionary or progressive guises.
Priti Patel accuses London Mayor Sadiq Khan of failing to tackle anti-Semitism
Sadiq Khan has been accused by the Home Secretary of “ignoring” a spate of “chilling” anti-Semitic attacks which have “terrorised communities”.

Last week, as Jewish communities marked Holocaust Memorial Day (HMD), a wave of assaults and attacks prompted faith leaders and Cabinet ministers to accused the London Mayor of not doing enough to tackle anti-Semitism.

Two strictly Orthodox Jewish men were punched to the ground and had to be treated in hospital on the eve of HMD in an assault that was caught on CCTV. However, the Jewish Chronicle reported that this was just one of a string of incidents in recent days including reports of another charedi man being assaulted, a boy being spat at, and a mob shouting at synagogue-goers: "Yiddos go home."

It was also claimed that a family’s windows were reportedly smashed and people driving past a synagogue shouted: "Free Palestine".

The reports have prompted members of London’s Jewish community to claim that their pleas for more street patrols and quicker response times in Stamford Hill, north London, where there is a large ultra-Orthodox Jewish community, have gone unanswered.

Writing in Friday’s Jewish Chronicle, Priti Patel accused Mr Khan of failing to “tackle the anti-Semitism that blights the capital and leaves too many families living in fear”.

She said: “Over the last week we have witnessed scenes of shocking harassment, violence, and abuse of Orthodox Jews in Stamford Hill, Hackney.
Why a Texas Court Ruling on Israel Boycott Was No Victory for CAIR
Indeed, authors and proponents of anti-BDS laws have always emphasized that anti-BDS laws are designed to target business conduct, not speech itself. While language like Texas’s can be found in many state laws, it has never been applied in the way the judge interpreted it.

However, the Constitution does not protect commercial conduct, even if it has some ideological meaning. Obviously, no anti-discrimination laws would be constitutional if a company could just say they were “boycotting” gay individuals because they disagree with the policies they pursue. The Supreme Court’s 2006 decision in Rumsfeld v. FAIR asserted this very point when it held that the government may withhold federal funding from universities that opt to boycott military recruiters. In short, the First Amendment is designed to safeguard speech, not conduct, regardless of the motives for the conduct.

Judge Hanen’s opinion, by asserting the constitutionality of the very heart of the Texas’ anti-BDS statute, hardly furnishes CAIR with a lasting legal victory. Instead, it provides states with a robust reminder that the core of such laws is constitutionally sound.

CAIR’s effort to paint their recent court fight as a resounding win is dishonest, but mild compared to their generally unpleasant history.

Just two months ago, the Texas CAIR chapter was raising a defense fund for Aafia Siddiqi, a woman currently serving an 86-year sentence for shooting at U.S. service members in Afghanistan. If the name rings a bell, it is because the Coleyville synagogue attacker, like CAIR, also demanded her release. Siddiqi was known as a rabid antisemite who requested that the jurors in her trial be genetically tested to ensure a non-Jewish jury.

Given these activities, it should come as no surprise that CAIR’s founders are two individuals from the Islamic Association of Palestine (IAP), an offshoot of the terrorist organization Hamas. Advocating in defense of the BDS movement — a movement whose current leader openly supports terrorism against Jews and peddles antisemitic conspiracy theories — is undoubtedly befitting of such an organization.
Biden Said to Continue Delay of New Title VI Protections for Jewish College Students
A delay over new guidance at the US Department of Education that would help protect Jewish college students from discrimination is set to continue through December of this year, according to a report by eJewish Philanthropy.

In December 2019, former President Donald Trump issued an Executive Order on Combating Antisemitism that directed the Department’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) to apply Title VI of the Civil Rights Act (1964) to complaints of discrimination against Jews and base them on the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) Working Definition of Antisemitism.

The Department of Education initially pledged to issue new regulations based on the order in September 2020, but later said it would happen in January 2021. After President Joe Biden was sworn in on January 20, the administration embraced the IHRA working definition, but has since postponed action on the order to December 2022, eJP reported — leading to speculation around whether it objects to the order’s treatment of antisemitic criticism of Israel.

The delay, the outlet said, is especially discernible considering recent OCR inquiries of antisemitism at several colleges and universities and a rise in antisemitism at schools across the country.

On Thursday, a legal advocacy group revealed that the OCR is investigating complaints of a hostile environment for Jewish students at a master’s program at Brooklyn College, where they were allegedly pressured to identify as white and thus be excluded from discussions about social justice.

The office is also is investigating the placing of Jewish Stanford University faculty and staff in segregated discussion groups for white participants, against their objections.

Leaders representing Jewish advocacy groups across the country told eJP that they are hopeful that the Biden administration will act soon.
Duke University Student Government Adopts Leading Definition of Antisemitism
The Duke Student Government (DSG) has adopted the leading definition of antisemitism, a campus newspaper reported Thursday, months after the body drew national outrage when it denied recognition to a pro-Israel student group.

“The hostage situation on January 15, 2022 at the Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville, Texas, is further evidence that the Duke Student Government must take a timely stand in solidarity with the Jewish community and condemn global antisemitism,” the Wednesday resolution said. “The Duke Student Government supports the use of the [International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance] Working Definition of Antisemitism as an educational tool to define and condemn antisemitism in its various forms.”

The DSG also resolved to “committing to ongoing efforts in solidarity and collaboration with Duke students and student groups” to prevent antisemitic harassment and discrimination. It cited several antisemitic incidents on campus, as well as a 2019 civil rights complaint over the Duke-UNC Consortium for Middle East Studies’ conference on Gaza that featured a rap performance flagged for the performer’s antisemitic lyrics.

“Given the sheer prevalence of antisemitism, globally and across-campus in the United States, we feel that it is necessary for Duke Student Government to take a timely stand,” DSG Senator and sophomore Nicole Rosenzweig, who co-sponsored the resolution, told The Duke Chronicle yesterday.

In November, recognition of new Students Supporting Israel (SSI) chapter on campus was vetoed by the DSG, over a social media post responding to a student critic of the group’s activity.
Chicago pro-Palestinian student group: Don't take 's****y Zionist classes'
The University of Chicago Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) chapter told students in an Instagram post that they should avoid taking "S****y Zionist classes” last week.

The anti-Israel post also declared, "Support the Palestine movement for liberation by boycotting classes on Israel or those taught by Israeli fellows."

The post states that students attending classes discussing Israel or who are taught by Israeli fellows are "participating in a propaganda campaign that creates complicity in the continuation of Israel's occupation of Palestine."

Rabbi Abraham Cooper, the associate dean of the Jewish human rights organization the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles told The Jerusalem Post on Friday that the “University of Chicago has for decades been a top tier institution of higher learning, a place where world-class faculty and students debated and contributed the issues of the day impacting on all Americans. Reading these calls for boycotts on classes on Israel and fellow students from the Jewish State is something we experienced in Nazi Germany and Stalinist Russia.”

The University of Chicago spokesperson told Fox News Digital: "The University of Chicago is committed to support the wellbeing of all members of our community, to welcome people of all backgrounds, and to provide an environment for faculty and students to engage freely and openly on a wide range of issues. These values compel our steadfast opposition to discrimination, including rejection of antisemitism, anti-Palestinian bias, and other forms of bias that are incompatible with our commitment to diversity and inclusion."

Unfazed by Threats From Radicals, French Imam Calls for Liberation of Islam From ‘Islamism’
A Muslim imam known in France for his efforts to advance interfaith dialogue with Jews and Christians this week sounded a stark warning about the dangers of radical Islam as the country heads for presidential elections later this year.

Islamism was a “global evil” that “hates the light” and “endangers modern society,” Imam Hassen Chalgoumi observed in an television interview on Wednesday.

The imam of Drancy, a suburb of Paris, Chalgoumi accused Islamist ideologues of having taken his faith “hostage.”

“When we criticize Islamism, we liberate Islam, we liberate the Muslim world, and not only in France,” declared Chalgoumi during the interview on the BFMTV network.

Last month, Chalgoumi made headlines in France after he gave an emotional TV interview recounting the harassment he and his family have been subjected to by Muslim radicals.

He said the harassment dated back to 2005, when he called for the commemoration of the Holocaust to be respected.

“I made a solemn appeal to respect the memory of the Holocaust, to also think about what people did to their fellow human beings, the consequences of racism, hatred, antisemitism … But unfortunately, my words were misunderstood. Two days later, they ransacked my house,” Chalgoumi said on the France 2 network on Jan. 27.

The imam said in the same interview that he had received “death threats in the name of a cause that has nothing to do with [my words] — the Palestinian cause, in the name of an ideology of hatred, perhaps against Israeli policy, or out of actual antisemitism.” In addition to threatening phone calls and letters, Chalgoumi’s house has been attacked and his car torched.
Comedian Jimmy Carr under fire for 'abhorrent' anti-Roma Holocaust joke
British comedian Jimmy Carr has come under fire for a Holocaust joke aimed at Romani people which he made during his new Netflix comedy special, His Dark Material.

The comedy special first aired on Christmas Day but the specific clip referring to the Holocaust gained widespread attention after a clip was shared on social media on Friday afternoon, The Guardian reported.

When people talk about the Holocaust, they talk about the tragedy and horror of 6 million Jewish lives being lost to the Nazi war machine," said Carr to a laughing audience. "But they never mention the thousands of G****s that were killed by the Nazis. No one ever wants to talk about that, because no one ever wants to talk about the positives.”

Several British anti-hate groups including the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust and Hope Not Hate have responded to Carr's quip, condemning him for joking about the persecution of the Roma and Sinti people, who were targeted for total extermination alongside Jews by the Nazis.

Historians estimate that between 220,000 - 500,000 Roma and Sinti people were killed by the Nazis during the Holocaust, roughly 50% of their total population in Europe at the time.
3 arrested for Florida neo-Nazi attack on Jewish student
Three people have been arrested days after a Jewish passerby was attacked by a group of self-proclaimed neo-Nazis who yelled antisemitic slogans outside a central Florida shopping plaza over the weekend, authorities said Friday.

Group leader Burt Colucci, 45, and Joshua Terrell, 46, are each charged with battery with a hate crime enhancement, while Jason Brown, 47, is charged with grand theft, according to the Orange County Sheriff’s Office. All three are members of the National Socialist Movement, one of the nation’s largest neo-Nazi groups, officials said.

More than a dozen demonstrators, wearing Nazi garb, protested at an intersection near the University of Central Florida on Saturday and waved a swastika flag from a highway overpass on Sunday.

During Saturday’s demonstration, some participants got into a fight with a passerby who confronted the group, but no arrests were made at the time.

University of Central Florida student David Newstat, who is Jewish, told WOFL-TV that he had driven by the group and denounced their hatred, prompting one of the neo-Nazis to spit on him as others surrounded his car.

AppleTV+ Reveals First Look of Glenn Close in Season 2 of Israeli Thriller ‘Tehran’ Premiering in Spring
Close, a two-time Emmy Award winner and Academy Award nominee, joins the show’s cast as Marjan Montazeri, a British woman living in Tehran. The show’s eight-part second season will premiere globally on May 6 with two episodes, followed by new episodes every Friday night until June 17.

“Tehran” follows a Mossad agent who goes deep undercover on a mission in Tehran that places her and everyone around her in danger. Niv Sultan returns as Mossad agent Tamar Rabinyan, and the show also stars Shaun Toub and Shervin Alenabi.

The Israeli spy series is created by “Fauda” writer Moshe Zonder, Dana Eden and Maor Kohn, and directed by Daniel Syrkin. It debuted on Israel’s Kan television channel in June 2020 before premiering globally on Apple TV+ in September of that year.

“Tehran” won best drama at the 2021 Emmy Awards in November and in her acceptance speech, Eden said the show “is not only an espionage series. It’s all about understanding the human behind your enemy and we’re doing it every day on our set.”

The show’s executive producer added, “We’re now filming our second season and we work with Iranian actors from all over the world, Iranian refugees that just fled the current regime in Iran, and we work in collaboration, through love, and actually we found out that we have a lot in common. So I think it gives a hope for the future, and I hope that we can walk together, the Iranians and the Israelis, in Jerusalem and in Tehran, as friends and not as enemies.”
The Key to the Crime
When my great-grandmother was murdered a century ago in Winnipeg’s ‘Hebrew Colony,’ police had suspects and a motive: antisemitism. But the only physical clue they could find left them baffled.

My great-grandmother Sarah immigrated to North America from Russia in 1906, fleeing both a wave of antisemitic pogroms and a spurned lover who’d sworn revenge on her. She came to Winnipeg, and married my great-grandfather David Feinstein, himself a recent arrival from Russia. They were poor at first, living close to the railyards in the city’s North End, where most Jewish immigrants had settled.

Within just a few years, though, things had begun to turn around. My great-grandfather had started a successful cattle-dealing business with his brothers, and eventually David and Sarah—and their four children—moved into a bigger house on a quieter street. They became well respected members of the growing Jewish community, and they could even indulge in a few luxuries: fur coats, jewelry, a live-in nanny. Things were looking good for the family—until one night, when everything they built came crashing down.

Sarah Feinstein was murdered in Winnipeg’s North End in the early hours of Friday, August 1, 1913. She was shot through the temple while she slept. Her baby Anne lay in the crib next to the bed, while her 2-year-old daughter Fanny was curled up next to her mother—still asleep after the fatal shot, her nightgown soaking with blood. Her older children—Harry, nearly 6, and my grandmother Ethel, who was 3—were in the next room, with their nanny Victoria Komanowska.

It took me years to discover all the details of Sarah’s murder, which bore little resemblance to the legends that had circulated in my family for decades. But even after I found out the basic facts by digging through official documents and newspaper archives—the brutal murder of a young Russian immigrant in the neighborhood that Winnipeg’s journalists called the “Hebrew Colony” made headlines in English and Yiddish papers across Canada, from Montreal to Vancouver—I still didn’t know who was responsible for what the city’s Yiddish weekly Der Keneder Yid called a “horrific tragedy.”

Nobody else did, either. It was Winnipeg’s only unsolved murder that year.

Police and journalists had a pair of likely suspects almost immediately: Mary Manastaka, who previously worked for the Feinsteins, had spouted antisemitic bile at Sarah, shouting that Russia had gotten rid of its Jews, and Canada should do the same; Sarah had pushed her off her veranda during one of these tirades, and Mary had sworn revenge. She and her boyfriend Stefan Kushowsky, a railyard worker nearby in the city’s North End, were named as prime suspects within hours of the murder on Friday morning.

But by Sunday, they had both been cleared and released from police custody, and investigators had to come up with a new theory of the crime.