Friday, April 29, 2022

04/29 Links Pt1: Phillips: The betrayal over the Iranian bomb; Glick: No one to talk to in Washington; Airbrushing Jews out of Jerusalem

From Ian:

Melanie Phillips: The betrayal over the Iranian bomb
As a State Department report observed last week: “Serious concerns remained outstanding regarding possible undeclared nuclear material and activities in Iran,” and noted that the Islamic Republic had “not fully cooperated with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) which is trying to investigate possible secret nuclear activity at four sites around the country”.

Moreover, as Andrea Stricker and Anthony Ruggiero write for the Foundation for the Defence of Democracies: “The Biden administration has failed at each quarterly IAEA Board of Governors meeting to recommend that the body censure Iran for its restrictions on IAEA monitoring, non-cooperation with a separate IAEA investigation into Tehran’s undeclared nuclear activities, and flagrant nuclear escalations — the majority of which have occurred on the Biden administration’s watch”.

Now the Israelis are talking to the Biden team about a “Plan B” following the likely collapse of a deal. But the awful logic of the team’s approach is that the United States won’t move on from the 2015 agreement but will treat it as a kind of zombie deal—neither dead nor alive.

As Behnam Ben Taleblu of the Foundation for the Defence of Democracies told Benny Avni of The New York Sun, the more likely outcome is “a ‘plan C’: not announce that the talks have collapsed, but also not revert to pressure” on Iran.

The big lie about the Obama-Biden courtship of Iran is that this was intended to prevent it from getting the bomb. It wasn’t. It was to conceal what the United States had decided was inevitable — an Iranian nuclear weapon — because it intended to do nothing to stop it.

So does Israel have its own plan? We can only hope.
Caroline B. Glick: No one to talk to in Washington
In summary, both the content of the nuclear deal that Biden seeks to achieve and the administration's permissive responses to illicit Iranian nuclear and terror operations make clear that Biden's true object is to facilitate Iran's acquisition of nuclear weapons and hegemonic power, even at the expense of US allies, strategic interests and national security.

This returns us to Tuesday's report that the Biden administration may be ready to pull the plug on nuclear negotiations and on achieving a new deal to limit Iran's nuclear operations. While it is clear that Biden's desired diplomatic end state is to get a new nuclear agreement with Iran that may extend Iran's nuclear breakout time from a few weeks to four to six months at the outside, it's possible that the administration may be willing to see Iran become a nuclear breakout state outside an agreement. While this is clearly not Biden's preferred outcome, Biden and his advisors may believe that it could be politically advantageous for them going into the midterm elections in November.

If Iran crosses the nuclear threshold outside the confines of a nuclear deal, Biden and his advisors may believe that they will be able to blame Trump for the outcome. Since taking office, despite the fact that Iran only began to significantly stepped up its nuclear operations after he was elected, and mainly since he entered office, Biden and his advisors have been insisting that Trump is responsible for Iran's actions. According to their reasoning, if the US had remained in the nuclear deal, Iran would not have begun breaching its commitments to restrain its nuclear behavior.

As for Israel, the Bennett-Lapid-Gantz government gives the impression that Israel's leaders think Biden's rhetoric is more important than his actual policies. Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and his partners like Biden's attacks against Trump because those attacks are aligned with their own attacks on former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Almost every day since forming their government last May, Bennett, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid and their colleagues have insisted that had Netanyahu not proved to Trump that Iran was breaching the 2015 deal and that the Iranians had lied to the Americans about their intentions, Trump wouldn't have abandoned Obama's nuclear deal and Iran wouldn't be weeks from nuclear breakout.

Although reports of sabotage of Iranian nuclear and drone installations still pop up from time to time, the volume of reports has dropped precipitously since last May. Upon entering office, the Bennett-Lapid government promised the US total transparency in Israel's operations in Iran. The implication was that Bennett and Lapid were giving the administration veto power over Israel's operations.

With the precipitous drop in offensive activities against Iran's nuclear installations, the Iranians now feel free to expend less effort protecting their nuclear installations and more time using them to develop nuclear weapons.

Without effective inspections on Iran's nuclear and missile sites, it is hard to know just where Iran stands in terms of moving from breakout capacity to an actual nuclear arsenal. Israel estimates it will take Iran a year or two to move from where it ostensibly stands today on the brink of independent capacity to develop and deploy nuclear weapons to actually possessing deployable nuclear weapons.

Despite the uncertainly about when precisely Iran will become a nuclear power, what is absolutely certain is that so long as the Biden administration remains in power, Israel's leaders' faith in Washington endangers its existential interests.
MEMRI: Iran Speaks Bluntly – And We Should Listen Carefully
In an op-ed published in Hebrew on April 15, 2022 by the Israeli daily Haaretz,[1] MEMRI Iran Media Studies director Ayelet Savyon and Israeli Knesset Member Ze'ev B. Begin, formerly a Senior Fellow at MEMRI, discussed the recent surge in tough talk by the Iranian leadership , including open mention of Iran's view of nuclear weapons as an essential element of its national security.

The following is the English version of the op-ed.
As the talks between Iran and the countries that are party to the 2015 JCPOA nuclear deal advance, clearer positions than ever are being voiced in Iran. In light of the U.S. demand for restrictions on Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) activity in the Middle East as a condition for lifting the sanctions on Iran, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei is now presenting a rejectionist position.

In a March 10 speech to Iran's Assembly of Experts, he explained: "Imagine us having no involvement in the issues of the region, just so a certain superpower does not get upset, and so it will not engage in nit-picking against us. Our involvement in regional issues is our strategic depth. It is a means of strengthening the regime, and a form of military power. Why should we lose it, when we can and should have it?"[2]

In the same speech, Khamenei openly described Iran's development of nuclear capabilities as part of its "arms of power": "The nuclear issue is a scientific issue. It is about scientific progress and our future technology. Soon – it will not take long, just a few years – we will need the product of this nuclear energy, and in full scale.

"People are talking about [the need for] making concessions to America or to others in order to become immune to the sanctions. This means severing this arm of our policy and [giving up] this bargaining chip, so that, God forbid, they won't slap us with sanctions if we display toughness. I believe that these [compromises] are mistakes. If, over the years, the people who want to chop off some of those arms of power had been given permission to do so, our country would be facing great danger today."

Some in Iran have learned a lesson in this vein from the Russian attack on Ukraine. Iranian Passive Defense Organization head Gen. Gholamreza Jalali said on March 6: "One of [Ukraine's] mistakes was that although it is one of the world's nuclear powers, it transferred all its nuclear facilities and capabilities to Europe in exchange for European security and support." Iranian Majlis (parliament) member Mohammad Ka'ab Amir was even clearer; he said on February 26: "Ukraine is an example from which the supporters of the West and the East must learn. We must insist on the nuclear rights of the Iranian people, while preserving [our] national authority and honor, so Iran will be strong, with nuclear and military might."[3]

A Badly Needed New Approach to Quelling the Violence
Lastly, one might thank President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority for the half-hearted condemnation he deigned to issue in the wake of the recent terror attacks after repeated requests by the U.S., but this isn’t enough. The PA played a major role in incitement to demonstrate on the Temple Mount, spreading fabricated claims that Israel is seeking to change the status quo there. The PLO Executive Committee, Fatah’s Central Committee and the Palestinian government are expected to issue clear statements of condemnation, in keeping with the commitments they undertook in the Oslo Accords. Failing to meet this demand, Israel could apply pressure by suspending some programs in the long list of those designed to improve the economic situation in the West Bank. The PA must also be required—as the U.S. makes it plain in every conversation with PA officials—to commit to discontinue paying monthly salaries, welfare allocations and other subsidies to people arrested from now on for engagement in terrorism. Naturally, a move like this is bound to heighten tensions, but challenging a culture sanctifying violence will never come without risks.

A principled policy aimed at changing the bloody rules of the game should have been enacted years ago, but it isn’t too late to do so now. We may yet discover that there is broader international support for this demand than we imagine. A decision to adopt this course of action will indeed temporarily ratchet up tensions and invite crises, but what exactly are we waiting for?

Allowed to proceed in the current mode, the combination of Qatar, Hamas and the PA is guaranteed to cause an expansion of the cycle of brutal violence inflicting pain on both Jews and Arabs. If the U.S. truly aspires to achieve a settlement of the Middle East conflict, it cannot turn a blind eye to those seeking to obstruct further progress by igniting cycles of terror and counterterror.

A good first step would be to persuade Jordan, Egypt, the Emirates, Morocco and others to denounce the Palestinians’ violation of the sanctity of al-Aqsa in return for a clear Israeli commitment to maintaining the status quo. There’s no time like the present to get started in the right direction—better now than waiting around to find out what might happen during next year’s Ramadan.
When Israel is portrayed as the loser, our enemies begin to imagine victory
Israel endured a great loss over the last week or so.

No, it was not inflicted on the battlefield. No Palestinian group or terrorist organization is any match for the might of the IDF and Israel’s other security forces. Israel suffered a fair amount of humiliation, at least in the eyes of its enemies, in the way it handled the Temple Mount.

The Temple Mount for most Israelis, including its decision-makers, is a non-issue. Very little think or consider its symbolic, national or religious nature. Not so for the Palestinians, for whom it is the central rallying call for both their national and rejectionist aspirations.

While they have been fighting a war of violent rejectionism against Jewish sovereignty for well over 100 years and have never won a battle, there is one place where Israel’s sovereignty, authority and control is circumspect, to say the least.

Israel’s historic queasiness expressing its sovereignty and control over the Temple Mount began exactly at the moment of ultimate victory. In 1967, Israeli forces had almost miraculously pushed back combined Arab forces on all of its fronts, including the well regarded and disciplined Royal Jordanian Army in Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria.

When the paratroopers liberated the on June 7 and Lt. Gen. Mordechai “Motta” Gur uttered those immortal words “The Temple Mount is in our hands,” others were climbing onto the golden roof of the Dome of the Rock proudly hoisting an Israeli flag.

This event, inconceivable today, was what victorious armies had done through the millennia. When an army conquers territory, especially liberates land it sees as past of its ancestral and indigenous homeland, it raises its flag.

The raised flag has many aspects. It is a rallying call for a people, a sign of victory for those who fought and a sign of defeat to those who were vanquished. Nonetheless, a short time after the flag was raised it was demanded to be removed by Defense Minister Moshe Dayan who was witnessing the scene from a nearby hill. Dayan, like our leaders today, were worried that this singular act of demonstrative sovereignty, would set the region and the wider Muslim world on fire.
Airbrushing Jews out of Jerusalem
As Jews last week celebrated Passover and Muslims observed Ramadan, violent images were broadcast of Palestinian thugs vandalizing the Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem, and hurling Molotov cocktails and stones on the Temple Mount and at Jews praying at the Western Wall below.

The motivation behind the Arab rage? Initially, false rumors were promoted that settlers were planning to make animal sacrifices, a claim that Ofir Gendelman, spokesperson to the Arab media in the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office, stressed was false. They had, in fact, been promoted by Hamas for the express purpose of inciting terror.

That spurious charge against Israelis was merely a new variant of the long-standing accusation made against Jews by Arabs that dastardly Jews were plotting to destroy the sacred Al-Aqsa mosque, a baseless but recurring charge that is often referred to as the “Al-Aqsa is in danger” libel. In fact, as early as the 1920s, when Amin al-Husseini—the Nazi-loving Grand Mufti of Jerusalem—rallied Muslims with accusations that Jews intended to destroy the mosque and rebuild the Jewish Temple, Arabs have attempted to ignore and obscure any Jewish connection to the site and have sought to “liberate” purported Muslim holy places from the grip of the occupying Zionists.

While the current round of violence was predictably blamed on Israel, it was neither random nor pointless, and had both a strategic and tactical purpose—to degrade the Jewish claim to Jerusalem and all of Palestine by erasing Jewish identity, history and religious significance, and by Islamicizing the entire site through physical and spiritual control.

This was the precise purpose behind the 2016 effort by the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) vote to approve a resolution stripping the Temple Mount and Western Wall of its Jewish identity, and elevating a Muslim claim to this site central to Judaism. The hallucinatory and willfully delusional vote from Jew-hating nations in the thralls of Palestinianism was not surprising, given the U.N.’s promiscuous bias and historical inversions when assessing the perceived shortcomings of Israel.

The contortions of history and delusionary fables inherent in the UNESCO resolution are, of course, shared with Palestinian leadership, as evidenced by comments made at the time on official Palestinian Authority television by Mahmoud Al-Habbash, P.A. leader Mahmoud Abbas’s adviser on religious and Islamic affairs. “Jerusalem is occupied Palestinian land. Jerusalem is the property of the Palestinians,” he said. “ … UNESCO’s resolution confirms … that Jerusalem and the Al-Aqsa mosque in particular, and the Al-Buraq Wall and the Al-Buraq plaza, are purely Islamic and Palestinian assets, and no one has the right to be our partner in that. No one has the right. We are the owners, and we have the right to it.”

Obama Ambassador Charged With Illegal Lobbying For Middle East Country
Richard Olson, a former U.S. ambassador to Pakistan under the Obama administration, was hit with criminal charges related to lobbying for the Qatari government and failing to disclose his activities to the U.S. government, according to court documents filed in March.

Olson, who served as Ambassador to Pakistan from October 2012 to November 2015 and as Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan from November 2015 to November 2016, is charged with illegally lobbying on behalf of the Qatari government. Olson allegedly worked to further the country’s interests less than one year after he left his position as ambassador, in violation of federal law, and failed to disclose when a foreign lobbyist spent thousands on his travel expenses, according to court documents.

Olson allegedly received monthly $20,000 checks from a Pakistani-American lobbyist beginning in December 2016 after the two had multiple meetings during Olson’s tenure as a U.S. ambassador and special representative, according to the documents.

Prosecutors accused Olson of violating the “revolving door” prohibition on certain U.S. officials working as lobbyists for the first year after leaving a government job, and of knowingly filing false paperwork with the Office of Government Ethics by failing to disclose the lobbyist paying his travel expenses.
Chelsea Handler Endorses Terrorist Lawyer for Congress
Liberal comedian Chelsea Handler on Thursday endorsed for Congress an anti-Israel activist who served as a lawyer for Palestinian terrorists.

"Let's get some new politicians elected," Handler tweeted, sharing a link to a Huwaida Arraf campaign video. Arraf, who launched her campaign in November, has defended terrorists who in 2010 imported weapons and military equipment for Hamas to the Gaza Strip. Arraf was also on the legal team that fought for citizenship rights for Rasmea Odeh, who orchestrated a 1969 Jerusalem bombing that killed two Jewish college students.

Handler, whose Netflix show Chelsea was canned after two seasons, is among a group of celebrities who saw a brief rise in popularity during the Trump administration. She promised to leave the United States if Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton lost in 2016 but instead turned her enthusiasm to liberal political commentary and candidate boosting. She backed Wisconsin Democrat Randy Bryce, then-House Speaker Paul Ryan's (R.) opponent, in the 2018 midterms.

But Handler's enthusiasm has often outpaced her knowledge. She has casually suggested abolishing the First Amendment to protect people from racist humor—despite having dabbled in racist humor herself. When interviewing Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.) for her show, she struggled to understand the nuances of electoral politics.

Arraf is challenging incumbent Rep. Lisa McClain (R., Mich.), who told the Washington Free Beacon in 2021 the last thing the country needs is another "Squad" member.
Blake Masters’ provocations reach back to his college days
Blake Masters, a leading candidate in Arizona’s Republican Senate primary, has gained national prominence thanks in part to a series of defiantly controversial online ads in which he has brandished a menacing short-barreled rifle, argued that “psychopaths are running the country” and pushed the false election narrative that former President Donald Trump “won in 2020.”

The self-proclaimed “anti-progressive” seems to revel in such starkly worded provocations. Since launching his campaign last July, he has also described Lee Kuan Yew, the founder of modern Singapore who was seen as an authoritarian if visionary leader, as one of his favorite historical figures, and — more recently — expressed admiration for the Unabomber’s anti-tech manifesto.

Even as his actual positions remain somewhat hard to decipher, Masters, a 35-year-old venture capitalist and Peter Thiel protégé, has quickly staked a claim as one of the most high-profile figures in a nascent but growing coalition of populist right-wing ideologues affiliated with the so-called “national conservative” movement.

The political newcomer has long espoused divisive views that, however authentic, seem designed to stir outrage. In fact, a tendentious essay written when Masters was a 19-year-old undergraduate student at Stanford University — recently unearthed by Jewish Insider — may provide insight into his thinking as well as a possible throughline from his college years to today.

In 2006, Masters penned an article for an obscure libertarian publication in which he referenced a “poignant quotation” from Nazi leader Hermann Goering, while citing a noted conspiracy theorist who has suggested that an infamous antisemitic tract “accurately” describes “much of what is happening in our world.”

The essay was published on the eponymous website of a controversial libertarian author and think tank leader named Lew Rockwell, who is alleged to have ghostwritten a series of bigoted newsletters for former Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) in the late 1980s and early ’90s. The site, founded in 1999, describes itself as “anti-state,” “anti-war” and “pro-market.”
"Supreme Court Rejects Peace Now Petition Against New Jewish Neighborhood in Old Hebron"
Israel’s Supreme Court on Thursday rejected the appeal of Peace Now and the Hebron Municipality against a construction plan for a new Jewish neighborhood in the Old City of Hebron.

The neighborhood, Hezekiah Quarter, whose construction has already begun, will include 31 housing units. The court’s rejection of the appeal removes the final legal objection to the construction of the Jewish neighborhood, concluding a series of failed petitions that were filed against it and thrown out.

Thursday’s decision will likely impact the approval of construction in another Jewish neighborhood, in the wholesale market of Hebron, whose land was owned by Jews before 1948. Under Jordanian occupation, the authorities leased the wholesale market’s land to the Hebron municipality which in turn leased it to local merchants who developed a wholesale market there. In 1994, those stores were closed for security reasons and Hebron merchants established a spacious alternative market in the Arab section of ​​the city.

After seven years in which the market stood desolate, several Jewish families entered the place and set up small residential units there. After they had been issued an eviction order, a compromise was formulated in 2006, according to which the Jewish families would vacate the place, and in return, the state would allow other Jewish families to rent the property. But the implementation of the agreement was blocked by then-Deputy Attorney General Malkiel Blass, who intervened and ruled that the protected housing rights of the Hebron municipality could not be revoked, and the only way out was to “keep it closed, the way it was for seven years until they invaded the property.”

In August 2007, the Absentee Property Commissioner ordered the demolition of the apartments that had been built by Jews in the wholesale market, which effectively returned the abandoned and destroyed property to the original Jewish owners.
Renewed Clashes at Temple Mount on Last Friday of Ramadan
Violent clashes broke out between Palestinians and Israeli police at Jerusalem’s Temple Mount on the last Friday of Ramadan, the latest unrest during the Muslim faith’s holiest month.

The unrest was triggered when dozens of Palestinian demonstrators started to throw rocks and launch fireworks toward the Western Wall – located beneath the Temple Mount – which prompted police to enter the compound to disperse the crowds, The Times of Israel reported.

Masked men waved the flag of Hamas, the governing terror group of Gaza, chanting, “We’ll sacrifice our lives for al-Aqsa,” police said.

According to the Palestinian Red Crescent, over 40 people were wounded at the flashpoint site, while protestors barricaded themselves in the al-Aqsa Mosque.

The last Friday of Ramadan, called “Alvida Jumma” or “Friday of Farewell,” carries heavy significance for Muslims across the world, with some regarding it as one of the holiest days of the year.

It is also known among Palestinians as Quds Day — initiated by Iran in 1979 as a day of solidarity against Israel and Zionism.

Tens of thousands of worshipers were expected to attend Friday prayers at the mosque complex, and Israeli police increased deployment in Jerusalem ahead of the holy day.
BBC presenter promotes ‘two versions’ of events on Temple Mount
Husain failed to question Zomlot’s reference to “74 years” or to point out to listeners that Temple Mount came under Israeli control 55 years ago. Neither did that reference to 74 years prompt her to enquire what exactly he meant by “the rest of Palestine”. Instead Husain thought it relevant to ask Zomlot about Israeli politics. Zomlot pointed out that he does not speak on behalf of the Ra’am party.
Husain: “No, I wondered what your view is as the head of the Palestinian mission.”

Zomlot: “I think this government, this Israeli government, is a very lethal one…eh…very futile so far. They have been publicly – the prime minister Bennett – against the two-state solution. He has been publicly against the negotiations. He say that from day one that he’s pro-settlement: the illegal settlements very well identified by the international community.”

Husain: “Well you say they’re illegal but they didn’t – unlike in Mr Netanyahu’s time – they didn’t bar Palestinians from coming into Jerusalem in this period as previous governments have done.”

Zomlot’s falsehoods continued uninterrupted:
Zomlot: “Hold it. And the amount of illegal colonies and settlements have been approved under this government is…is rocketing. They exercise the same policy but they have a different voice. They try to spin it in a different way. No we don’t see any real change in their exercise. The only change we see is that they are public about the colonisation of the rest of historic Palestine, that is the West Bank and East Jerusalem. They are public in their endorsement of some Kahanist and very extreme elements. This has one of the most extreme elements of the Israeli political spectrum in history. However they have some other groups and we leave it to the other groups to decide if they want to be part of this absolute travesty.”

With no effort made to challenge Zomlot’s plethora of false claims regarding the current Israeli government, Husain closed the interview there.

The BBC has more than enough experience with Husam Zomlot to know that any interview with him will include a barrage of lies and distortions which should be questioned and clarified on the spot. However, as we once again see in this interview, all too often Zomlot is allowed to promote his propaganda from BBC platforms with no meaningful challenge from BBC presenters who are apparently unperturbed by the fact that their efforts to promote “two versions” of a story result in audiences being fed gross misinformation.
Channel 4 News avoids journalism in report on al-Aqsa violence
Serious journalists covering the violence at Temple Mount/Al-Aqsa on April 15th – that is, journalists who sees their role as objectively reporting the “Who, What, When Where, and Why” – could only come to one conclusion: The violence began when Palestinian extremists – incited by Hamas, who falsely cited “Zionist threats to invade the Al-Aqsa Mosque” – began, before dawn, preparing for, and then engaging in, rioting.

Palestinians later barricaded themselves inside the mosque and hurled stones and fireworks toward officers.

Israeli police responded to the rioting only after the conclusion of morning prayers at the mosque. This, we have demonsrated, can easily be corroborated by contemporaneous reports and videos circulated on the morning in question.

After police arrested rioters and restored peace to the area, the site was re-opened, enabling more than 50,000 Muslim worshipers to return to the mosque for Ramadan prayers

We highlighted the word “responded” (in “police responded”) above because some media outlets which covered the incident blurred the sequence of events, or even implicitly suggested that the police instigated the violence. This includes Channel 4 News, which aired the following report by presenter Keme Nzerem:

There’s so much misinformation and deception. But, to highlight one especially egregious part, note that, at 50 seconds into the video, viewers are told the following about how the violence occurred:
“Shortly after dawn and, potentially in breach of international law, Israeli police had entered and then fought with worshipers inside [the mosque]. Israel says they entered to remove stones and rocks they’ve been told had been stockpiled by youths to throw at security forces”.

First, police didn’t fight with “worshipers”. They fought with violent rioters.

And, Israel didn’t just “say” they entered the mosque to remove stones and rocks stockpiled by youths to throw at security forces. There are videos proving that Palestinians were stockpiling rocks before dawn, and other videos showing them hurling these rocks, along with fireworks and both police and Jews praying at the nearby Western Wall.

At Lebanon multi-religious conference, calls to repeal ban on contacts with Israelis
At a multi-religious conference in Lebanon last week backed by the Christian Maronite patriarch, speakers pushed for the country to adopt a neutral foreign policy — and even broached the taboo subject of normalization with Israel.

The conference, titled “On Reclaiming Neutrality in Lebanon,” was held on Saturday in the central Lebanese town of Harissa under the auspices of Maronite Patriarch Bechara Al-Ra’i. The top cleric’s representative, like other participants, urged the country to leave the Iran-dominated regional axis and assume a more neutral foreign policy stance, which they insisted was essential to Lebanese identity.

“What is required now is not to introduce the idea of neutrality into the Lebanese system, but to restore the neutrality that the Lebanese have lost due to their increasing foreign affiliations,” said Samir Mazloum, the patriarch’s representative at the gathering.

Although Lebanon has large Sunni Muslim and Christian communities, the country’s politics have largely drifted under the influence of Shiite-majority Iran. Hezbollah, the Shiite Muslim terror group, dominates Lebanese politics; the group is avowedly committed to Israel’s destruction.

“We are now a party to other peoples’ wars, though we want to wage peace. We are now a home to preachers of hate, though we want to spread love,” said Toni Nissi, a Christian speaker who opened the conference.

Maronite Christian politicians, such as President Michel Aoun, have maintained alliances with Hezbollah. But Maronite Patriarch Al-Ra’i has pursued a different vision in recent years, criticizing the terror group for its involvement in the Syrian Civil War.
Marking al-Quds Day, Iran general vows support for anyone ‘ready to fight’ Israel
Thousands of Iranians marched in rallies in the capital Tehran on Friday to mark Jerusalem Day, with Iran’s leaders and top generals railing against Israel and evoking the Jewish state’s destruction. It was the first time such marches were held since before the coronavirus pandemic.

Iran has been marking the day, the last Friday of the Muslim holy fasting month of Ramadan, since the start of its 1979 Islamic Revolution led by the late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. It is also known as al-Quds Day, after the Arabic name for Jerusalem. Iran claims it is an occasion to express support for the Palestinians.

Demonstrators chanted the “death to Israel,” and “death to America,” slogans that have become tradition in mass rallies in Iran since its revolution. Demonstrators also set fire to American, British and Israeli flags.

State TV later showed a variety of ballistic missiles on display at the rally, which it described as “Israel hitters.”

Iran’s hardline president Ebrahim Raisi addressed the rallies, praising Palestinian protesters who have regularly clashed with Israeli police and troops recently in Jerusalem and the West Bank as the vanguard of anti-Israel resistance.

“This great movement that we are witnessing today in the form of protests is a symbol of the solidarity of the Muslim people that will lead to the destruction of the Zionist regime,” he said, according to state-run outlet ISNA.

Iran does not recognize Israel and supports Hamas and Hezbollah, terror groups that like Tehran call for the Jewish state’s destruction. Israel views Iran as its top enemy in the Middle East.
Iran Moves Centrifuge-Parts Workshop Underground at Natanz, IAEA Says
Iran’s new workshop at Natanz for making parts for centrifuges, machines that enrich uranium, has been set up underground, UN nuclear watchdog chief Rafael Grossi said on Thursday, a move apparently aimed at protecting it from possible attacks.

The workshop uses machines from a now-closed facility at Karaj that suffered what Tehran says was a sabotage attack by Israel. The workshop can make parts essential to advanced centrifuges that are among the most efficient in Iran’s enrichment program.

The International Atomic Energy Agency informed its member states two weeks ago that Iran had moved the machines to Natanz without specifying where at the sprawling site, which includes the underground Fuel Enrichment Plant where Iran has thousands of centrifuges operating.

Grossi told a news conference the workshop had been set up in “one of the halls” of the FEP. Diplomats say the plant is roughly three floors below ground, possibly to protect it from potential air strikes.

Until now Iran has used the FEP only for enrichment. It is the one facility where the 2015 nuclear deal with major powers allows Iran to produce enriched uranium, but only with its first-generation IR-1 centrifuges, which are far less efficient than Iran’s more advanced models.

“They said that it is ready to operate,” the IAEA’s chief inspector, Massimo Aparo, said of the workshop.

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