Monday, May 02, 2022

05/02 Links Pt1: How Muslims Changed the Status Quo on the Temple Mount; Netherlands rejects Amnesty report accusing Israel of apartheid; Russian FM: So what if Zelensky’s Jewish, so was Hitler

From Ian:

JCPA: How Muslims Changed the Status Quo on the Temple Mount
The status quo on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, as formulated by Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Dayan in 1967, no longer exists. In the 55 years since the Six-Day War, changes in the status quo have greatly improved the Muslims' hold on the Temple Mount.

Muslims have inaugurated four new mosques on the Temple Mount since 1967: the Dome of the Rock, which originally was not built as a mosque; the El-Marwani Mosque, located underground in Solomon's Stables; the "Ancient Al-Aqsa" Mosque, established in 1998 under the existing upper mosque; and the Gate of Mercy prayer area, set up and turned into a mosque in 2019.

The establishment of additional mosques on the mount stemmed from a new definition of the Temple Mount compound by the Muslims, who began to refer to all of the area as "Al-Aqsa" and to regard the entire mount as one great mosque. Until the Six-Day War, the compound as a whole was called "Al-Haram al-Sharif" (the Holy and Noble Place), and was defined differently from the Al-Aqsa Mosque.

In the first decade after the Six-Day War, Jews were allowed to enter the mount through the Chain Gate and the Cotton Merchants' Gate, but today can only enter through the Mughrabi Gate. For two decades, Jews were allowed to visit for more hours of the day and at all parts of the mount, even the interior of the mosques. Today, Jews' visits to the mount are much more limited in time and in the areas permitted.

While displaying flags is prohibited on the Temple Mount, in practice, the only flag not displayed there is Israel's. Palestinian Authority, PLO, Hamas, and Hizb al-Tahrir flags can often be seen, while a small Israeli flag on the desk of an officer at the Temple Mount police station had to be removed following Muslim protest.

After a succession of changes to the status quo by the Muslim side, a change was also made on the Jewish side. For several years, on the eastern flank of the Temple Mount, with the permission and surveillance of the police, Jews have been praying in a "nondemonstrative" manner, without prayer shawls or prayer books.
MEMRI: Jordanian Senator And Former Media Affairs Minister: Extremists Promote Violence In Al-Aqsa Mosque And Temple Mount To Push For Military Confrontation And Score Political Points; For All Its Shortcomings, Peace With Israel Is 100 Times Better Than War
In reaction to the recent tension in Al-Aqsa Mosque, the Jordanian government leveled baseless allegations against Israel's "continuous steps to change the historical and legal status quo in Al-Aqsa Mosque" despite Israel's repeated reiterations of its commitment to protecting the freedom of worship for Jews, Christians, and Muslims.

On April 17, 2022, the Jordanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs issues a statement[1] saying that Israel's attempts to "impose the temporal and spatial division of Al-Aqsa Mosque" represent "a dangerous escalation and a condemned breach of the international law." The statement also noted that Israel bears "full responsibility for the dangerous repercussions of this escalation that undermines all efforts to maintain the comprehensive ceasefire and avoid more violence that threatens peace and security" and stressed that "Al Aqsa Mosque is a place of worship for Muslims alone and that the Jordan-run Jerusalem Awqaf and Aqsa Affairs Department has the exclusive authority to supervise the holy site's affairs and manage entries."

The statement by Jordan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs came a day after 76 members of the Jordanian parliament signed a petition[2] urging their government to cut diplomatic ties with Israel, shut down the Israeli Embassy, expel the Israeli ambassador, and suspend bilateral agreements with Israel. According to, the petition stressed that "Resorting to condemnation and disapproval of what is taking place in Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa Mosque is an option that no longer matches the interest of Jordan or the aspirations and sentiments of the people of Jordan and most certainly does not match the sacrifices of those stationed at the front lines of Al-Quds [Jerusalem] and Al-Aqsa Mosque." The petition then saluted the people of Al-Quds "who have remained steadfast against the terrorist forces of the occupation and its actions..." the petition also urged the government to intervene at "a highest level to ensure the release of the imprisoned and kidnapped young men of Al-Quds [Jerusalem] who are taking part in Ribat [guard duty] and who are defending the dignity of the ummah [members of which were arrested] in Al-Aqsa Mosque."

Meanwhile, in an unusual article, Jordanian Senator Muhammad Hussein Al-Momani who is also former Jordanian minister of media affairs and former government spokesman, condemned[3] "the extremists" for promoting violence to score political points and push for military confrontation with Israel. In the article, which was titled "Temple Mount During Every Ramadan" and was published in the Jordanian daily Alghad, the writer condemned those who criticize Jordan's official position on the recent tension saying it is an "advanced position, highly truthful, strong and nationalist" and described those criticizing it as "unfair and ungrateful."

The following are translated excerpts from the article.
"The pre-Ramadan efforts to ensure calm are relatively in place despite recent events, but no one can guarantee that the situation will remain calm because Ramadan and its last ten days are yet to come and the Jewish holidays are still ongoing."
Prosecutors to Charge Jerusalem Muslim Cleric for Incitement to Terrorism
The Israel Police announced on Sunday that it has completed the investigation of a Jerusalem Muslim cleric who was arrested on April 22 on suspicion of incitement to terrorism.

The cleric is due to be charged by state prosecutors on Tuesday, police said.

The 56-year-old cleric from Beit Hanina in eastern Jerusalem delivered a speech on the Temple Mount in which he stated that “the liberation of the Al Aqsa Mosque will only happen through weapons and force,” according to police.

Following his arrest, the suspect was questioned by Jerusalem Police District’s Central Unit and a court extended his custody on multiple occasions.

Meanwhile, police said, the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court agreed on Sunday to a police request to extend by three days the custody of a Muslim cleric from Lod, who was arrested on Saturday on suspicion of incitement to violence in a speech that was recorded and distributed on social media networks.

“The Israel Police will continue to work with the other law enforcement agencies to investigation and deal, in an uncompromising manner, with anyone who exploits their public and religious position to incite to terrorism, violence and disturbances against public order illegally,” said police.

Daniel Greenfield: Biden Warns Israel Against 'Freedom of Worship'
The Biden administration has announced that its titular head will be visiting Israel within a few months. Biden’s last high profile visit to the Jewish State in 2010 ended with him staging a diplomatic incident and refusing to leave his hotel room for an hour to attend an event with Netanyahu. The Israelis have little reason to be optimistic about this Biden expedition.

After Muslim rioters disrupted Passover by engaging in violence at the Temple Mount, the holiest site in Judaism, the administration urged "all sides to excercise restraint, avoid provocative actions and rhetoric, and preserve the historic status quo on the Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount." The “provocation action” in this case is Jewish prayer.

It’s 2022 and the White House is warning Jews that their prayers are “provocative”.

The “historic status quo” Biden demands that Jews comply with exists only because Muslim conquest deprived non-Muslim minorities, especially Jews, of the right to pray at their holy sites. That’s like telling black people riding buses in Alabama to accept the “historic status quo” or urging Ukraine to accept a “historic status quo” in which it was ruled by Moscow.

Or suggesting that Washington D.C. should take orders from Queen Elizabeth.

Behind the scenes, the Biden administration and its officials have been warning the Israeli government to stop talking about "freedom of worship" and defer to Islamic supremacism.

As one reporter described, "cognizant of how talk of 'freedom of worship' can be interpreted, US officials have sought to push Israel to avoid using the phrase and instead focus solely on affirming their commitment to the status quo at Jerusalem's holy sites."
Fleur Hassan Nahoum: Christians Are Safe and Thriving in Jerusalem
On the day before Christmas Eve, I stood in the Jaffa Gate of the Old City of Jerusalem with Issa Kassissieh, a Christian Arab and Jerusalem's only Santa Claus, to give out Christmas trees, as the Jerusalem municipality has done for a decade. The city also outfitted streets with Christmas decorations. On Easter Sunday, Jerusalem's Christian denominations celebrated peacefully as they do every year.

Over the past seven years, in particular, unprecedented resources have been channeled into the Old City and eastern Jerusalem to close the social gaps and to herald a new era of equal opportunity. The City of Jerusalem and its police authorities are completely engaged in protecting Christian residents, and any reported acts of intolerance are acted upon quickly and decisively.

Israel is the only country in the Middle East where the Christian population is growing. Figures from the Israel Democracy Institute show that 84% of Christians are satisfied with their lives in this country; as an example, the most educated women in Israel are from the Christian community. In tragic contrast, the numbers living under the Palestinian Authority are dwindling. In the 27 years the PA has controlled Bethlehem, the Christian population has shrunk from 80% to 12%.
Netherlands rejects Amnesty report accusing Israel of apartheid
The government of the Netherlands has rejected Amnesty International’s report accusing Israel of apartheid against the Palestinians, Dutch Foreign Minister Wopke Hoekstra has said.

“The cabinet does not agree with Amnesty’s conclusion that there is apartheid in Israel or the territories occupied by Israel,” Hoekstra wrote on Friday to a group of legislators asking the government to respond to the report.

“Apartheid is a specific legal term and a serious international crime, and it is up to a judge to judge whether this is the case,” the Dutch foreign minister wrote. “In light of the above, the cabinet also rejects the recommendations made by Amnesty in the report.”

Hoekstra pointed out that Germany, the US and the UK rejected the report, as well, and said that calling Israel an apartheid state does not help resolve the conflict and reach a two-state solution.

“The Israeli branch of Amnesty International – which has generally been critical of its own government and Israeli policy toward the Palestinians – has also distanced itself from the report in question, as it would be counterproductive and would not improve the situation on the ground,” he added.

The MPs writing to Hoekstra also asked the Dutch government to respond to Israel’s decision to declare six Palestinian NGOs terrorist groups, and a group of pro-Israel MPs sent a counter letter asking why the Netherlands continues to vote against Israel at the UN despite committing to do otherwise. Hoekstra wrote his letter in response to all of them.

With regard to the terrorist designation for the NGOs, Hoekstra wrote that the Netherlands “has not yet reached a conclusion on the information on the basis of which the Israeli decision was taken with regard to the six NGOs.”
Russian foreign minister: So what if Zelensky’s Jewish, so was Hitler
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says Ukraine can have Nazis, even though its president is Jewish, since, he claims, Adolf Hitler had Jewish ancestry.

“The fact that Zelensky is Jewish does not negate the Nazi elements in Ukraine. I believe that Hitler also had Jewish blood,” Lavrov said in an interview with Italian news channel Zona Bianca.

Russia has claimed it aims to “denazify” Ukraine. Russian forces have slaughtered civilians and destroyed cities during their invasion, in what Ukrainian leaders, including Zelensky, have called a genocide and compared to the Holocaust.

Israel Blasts ‘Outrageous’ Russian Claim That Hitler Had Jewish Blood: ‘Lowest Level’ of Antisemitism
Israel’s Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum chairman Dani Dayan condemned Lavrov’s remarks as “absurd, delusional, dangerous and deserving of condemnation.”

“Lavrov is propagating the inversion of the Holocaust — turning the victims into the criminals on the basis of promoting a completely unfounded claim that Hitler was of Jewish descent,” Dayan stated. “Equally serious is calling the Ukrainians in general, and Zelensky in particular, Nazis. This, among other things, is a complete distortion of the history and an affront to the victims of Nazism.”

The Russian diplomat’s comments also drew outrage from European diplomatic officials and Jewish community leaders, with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba accusing Lavrov of exposing “the deeply-rooted antisemitism of the Russian elites.”

“His heinous remarks (…) more broadly demonstrate that today’s Russia is full of hatred towards other nations,” Kuleba tweeted.

Ruth Dureghello, head of Rome’s Jewish community, said Lavrov’s remarks “rewrite history in a similar way to the Protocols of the Elders of Zion — the foundation of modern antisemitic literature created in Tsarist Russia.”

She also harshly criticized Italy’s Rete 4 television channel and Lavrov’s interviewer for leaving the foreign minister’s assertions unchallenged.

“This is not acceptable and cannot be passed over in silence,” Dureghello demanded. ” If history is allowed to be completely distorted, the result will be a weakened democracy without the antibodies necessary to protect itself.”
Bennett to Lavrov: Stop using Holocaust as political battering ram
In his most explicit condemnation of a Russian official since the war on Ukraine began, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett spoke out against Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s claim that Hitler was part Jewish.

Asked in an interview with Italy’s Rete 4 on Sunday how Russia could be “denazifying” Ukraine if its president Volodymyr Zelensky is Jewish, Lavrov said: "When they say 'What sort of nazification is this if we are Jews', well I think that Hitler also had Jewish origins, so it means nothing.”

"For a long time now we've been hearing the wise Jewish people say that the biggest antisemites are the Jews themselves," he added.

Bennett said on Monday that “lies like these are meant to blame the Jews themselves for the most terrible crimes in history, which were committed against them, and thus free the oppressors of the Jews from their responsibility.”

“As I’ve already said, no war today is the Holocaust nor is it like the Holocaust,” Bennett stated. “The use of the Holocaust of the Jewish people as a political battering ram must be stopped immediately."

Ukraine FM responds to Lavrov: ‘He can’t hide the deeply rooted antisemitism’
Ukraine Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba on Monday lashed out at his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, for saying Nazi leader Adolf Hitler “had Jewish blood” and that Jews are among the worst antisemites.

“This is the perverted logic of the Russian elite,” Kuleba said in a video statement sent to the Kan public broadcaster.

“Even Minister Lavrov, who knows what diplomacy is, cannot hide anymore the deeply rooted antisemitism — the antisemitism that is deeply rooted into Russian elites.”

“Let’s admit the fact that Russians hate other nations. They believe in the supremacy of their own nation over others, and this is why this regime must be stopped in its aggressive plans and actions,” he added.

Lavrov made the remarks during an interview with Italian television, in which he claimed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s Jewishness did not undercut Russia’s claims that its invasion of Ukraine was meant to “denazify” the country.
Al-Haq Sponsors PFLP-affiliated Palestinian’s Speech to the UN Human Rights Council
On March 25, 2022, the Palestinian NGO Al-Haq, brought a PFLP-affiliated individual to appear before the UN Human Rights Council (HRC). Al-Haq was designated as a terror organization by the Israeli Ministry of Defense on October 26, 2021, which identified it as a part of “a network of organizations” operating “on behalf of the ‘Popular Front’,”).

Al-Haq presented an oral statement under the HRC’s Agenda Item 4 on human rights situations, “highlighting the ongoing and increasing suppression of Palestinian resistance in Beita village…” According to Al-Haq, the statement “was delivered by Mr. Said Hamayel, father of Mohammad Hamayel, 16, who was killed by the Israeli occupying forces on 11 June 2021 in the context of a peaceful protest against settlement expansion,” near the West Bank village of Beita.

During his statement, Hamayel claimed that “My family’s struggle with the Israeli occupation started when I was two years old. They killed my father, my brother and my sister…I was arrested and wounded [by the Israeli occupying authorities].” PFLP statement and Beita riots

Undisclosed to the HRC, the PFLP embraced both Mohammad and Said in a statement following Mohammad’s death, labelling them both “comrade[s]” in the internationally designated terrorist organization and producing an official mourning poster to honor Mohammad.1 The PFLP also noted that Said had been previously arrested.

Additionally, the Al-Haq statement downplays the violent nature of the clashes during which Mohammad was shot.

Beita has repeatedly been the site of riots during which Palestinians have lobbed explosive devices, hurled stones, burned tires, and shoot fireworks at Israeli forces, including during the clashes in which Mohammed Hamayel took part.
‘Shabbat, the Jews are sleeping, let’s play’: Group arrested running wild in kibbutz
A group of young men from the northern town of Acre were arrested for rioting after they rode horse-drawn carriages through a kibbutz on Saturday afternoon, churning up grass lawns as they shouted and played loud music.

The group filmed themselves riding through Kfar Masaryk, located south of Acre, shouting and playing loud music as they drove across lawns.

“Shabbat, the Jews are sleeping, let’s play!” one of the men can be heard saying in the video.

“Why don’t the police like us?…Why do the police detain us and bully us?” one of the men says in the clip, whose audio is at times unclear.

A security guard chased the group out of the kibbutz, the Ynet news site reported.

Police arrived on the kibbutz when the group had already left, and opened an investigation.

They later announced that five “rioters,” aged around 20, were arrested.
Jewish man given 5-year sentence for assaulting Arab during 2021 Gaza war
A Jewish Israeli man was sentenced on Monday to five years in prison for taking part in the brutal mob assault of an Arab man in Herzliya during last May’s fighting in Gaza.

The Tel Aviv District Court also ordered Yaakov Atenau, who was convicted of intentional and racially motivated vehicular damage and bodily assault with aggravating intent, to pay NIS 5,000 in compensation.

According to the indictment, on the night of the attack on May 12, 2021, Atenau and his friends were in Bat Yam, where a violent demonstration of Jewish extremists was taking place. Jewish-Arab ethnically motivated violence was tearing through the country at the time, particularly in mixed cities, against the backdrop of the Gaza war between Israel and Hamas.

Atenau and his friends then drove from Bat Yam to the Sidna Ali Mosque in nearby Herzliya. They headed out with equipment for an assault, including batons, hammers, knives and gasoline. The group of Jewish extremists numbered roughly 15.

Upon arrival at the mosque parking lot, they identified Ghassan Haj Yahya, an Arab Israeli resident of Taibe, who was eating the Ramadan fast-breaking meal in his car. The suspects waited for a parked police car to drive away before converging on Yahya’s vehicle, shouting “Arab!” the indictment said.

They then began pelting and hitting him with stones, spraying his face with pepper spray and stabbing him in the shoulder.

Yahya required hospitalization due to the injuries sustained in the attack.
Teen girl charged with terrorist act over stabbing of Haifa man
Prosecutors on Monday filed charges against a teenage girl for stabbing an Israeli man in Haifa last month amid a spate of terror attacks.

The 15-year-old was arrested after stabbing and moderately wounding the man on April 15. Police have said her father had alerted authorities of her intentions shortly before the attack.

The minor, whose name is barred from publication, was charged with a terrorist act of aggravated sabotage and possessing a knife for racist motives.

According to the indictment, the teen took an increasing interest in religion and the Temple Mount ahead of the attack, which came hours after Palestinians and police clashed at the Jerusalem holy site.

It also noted that she had heard the same morning that a Palestinian she corresponded with had died of wounds sustained while trying to attack Israeli security forces in Jenin. A report last week identified the Palestinian as her boyfriend.

Hamas' Gaza-Last Strategy
Hamas is not only responding to Israeli policies designed to shape its behavior. It is to Hamas’ benefit to shift the battle from Gaza to Jerusalem, the West Bank, the Galilee, and other Israeli locales. Hamas needs time to recover from Israel’s bombardment of its infrastructure and positions a year ago, and also does not want to put Gaza’s reconstruction and economic upswing at risk. Fighting in Gaza is also politically risky for Hamas; on the one hand, there is often a rally-around-the-flag effect that leads to an uptick in Hamas’ popularity immediately following confrontations with Israel, but on the other hand, there is a tipping point at which Palestinians in Gaza will despair of a Hamas approach that leaves them in a permanent state of economic depression and surrounded by rubble. Confronting Israel elsewhere—particularly if an Israeli response in Gaza will only come if the confrontation is initiated from Gaza—is a safer proposition that also does not impact Hamas’ core position. It echoes George W. Bush’s maxim of fighting over there so as not to face them over here. From Hamas’ perspective, better to risk setting Jerusalem or southern Lebanon on fire than to risk the same in Gaza.

Hamas is also not making a calculus with only Israel in mind. While Hamas controls Gaza, it has long had ambitions to take over the West Bank as well and will do what it can to destabilize the Palestinian Authority. If Hamas is able to provoke an uprising or a slew of security incidents in the West Bank, it puts the PA back on its heels and erodes the PA’s position even further to Hamas’ benefit. Any increase in Hamas’ influence on the Haram al-Sharif also comes at the PA’s and Jordan’s expense, and tasking Hamas activists with throwing stones and small incendiaries is a low-cost way of showing strength without putting Gaza at risk. The surprise isn’t that Hamas is maintaining quiet in Gaza while ramping up its activities elsewhere, but why it did not make this pivot so definitively earlier.

It is no coincidence that Saleh al-Arouri, the deputy Hamas chief who has long been in charge of Hamas operations in the West Bank, recently assumed responsibility for Hamas activity in Jerusalem and is also reportedly in charge of the Hamas teams in Lebanon. It signals an increasing focus on expanding Hamas’ geographical presence and doing so in a more guerilla fashion, as opposed to operations from Gaza that over time have increasingly come to resemble conventional warfare where Hamas fires rockets from its side of the fence and hunkers down underground awaiting the inevitable Israeli response. Certainly while it is rebuilding and retooling in its own territory, we should expect Hamas activity to largely be taking place in the areas beyond its direct control and where a coordinated Israeli response is more difficult to carry out.

The Israel-Hamas equation over the past decade has become predictable and routinized. If Hamas is indeed pivoting, Israeli policy will have to pivot as well. Aside from the IDF and Shin Bet doing what they can to disrupt Hamas efforts in Jerusalem, the West Bank, Lebanon, and elsewhere, it may also mean creating a link that has been severed between Gaza and everywhere else. If Hamas is counting on keeping the Gaza front relatively quiet and stable by initiating chaos in other places, Israel may need to rethink its strategy of treating Gaza as a wholly separate entity and begin to treat Hamas and its actions in a more holistic way.
200,000 Muslims attend Eid prayers at Al-Aqsa compound — Waqf
Some 200,000 Muslims attended Eid al-Fitr holiday prayers at the Al-Aqsa Mosque to cap off the Ramadan holy month on Monday afternoon, according to the Islamic Waqf.

“There were more worshipers than we’ve seen for Eid al-Fitr prayers in many years,” Sheikh Omar al-Kiswani, the holy site’s chief imam, said in a phone call.

Eid al-Fitr marks the end of Ramadan, a month of fasting, prayer and reflection observed by Muslims worldwide. For Palestinian Muslims, worship at the Al-Aqsa Mosque — the third-holiest site in Islam — is a central part of the festival. Jews revere the same hilltop as the Temple Mount, the holiest site in their tradition.

In recent years, Ramadan has often been marked by clashes and high tension between Israel and the Palestinians.

The Temple Mount has emerged as an incendiary battleground; last May, violence between Palestinians and Israeli forces at the sacred site helped spark a war between Israel and Hamas terrorists.

The Israeli army eased some restrictions on movement for West Bank Palestinians in advance of this year’s holiday to allow women, children and some men to pray at Al-Aqsa without permits. But the policy had returned to the status quo as of Monday, a Defense Ministry spokesperson said.
Hamas hangs huge Eid al-Fitr sign in Temple Mount compound
In a brazen move, Hamas operatives on Monday hoisted a massive sign in the Temple Mount compound, with an Eid al-Fitr message to the Palestinian residents of east Jerusalem.

Against the backdrop of the image of an Izzadin al-Qassam Brigades terrorist carrying what appears to be a rocket launcher, Gaza's rulers say, "Hamas offers the Arab and Islamic nation best Eid al-Fitr wishes."

"Over the last 10 days, Hamas has de facto occupied the Temple Mount compound, while the government refrains from any sovereign security action on the Temple Mount," criticized Maor Zemach, head of the Lach Yerushalayim ("For You, Jerusalem") advocacy group that seeks to safeguard Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem.

"Ten days of the oblivious government allowing these demonstrations, incitement and encouragement of terrorism against the State of Israel. As we all know, incitement to terrorism leads to violence."

The Temple Mount compound in east Jerusalem houses the Al-Aqsa Mosque, the third holiest site to Islam after Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia.

MEMRI: Yemeni Academic: Allah Transformed Jews into Apes, Pigs; They Are the Filthiest of Allah’s Creatures
Yemeni university professor Dr. Abd Al-Wadud Muqasher said in an April 26, 2022 show that aired on Al-Masirah TV (Houthis – Yemen) that the Muslims' conflict with the Jews is religious and existential and not a conflict over borders. He elaborated that according to the Quran, the Jews are the “filthiest and most evil human beings” and were transformed into apes and pigs by Allah. In addition, Dr. Muqasher said that the Muslims must exterminate the Jews and that every Muslim must fight in order to liberate Palestine and Jerusalem from their filth. Dr. Muqasher also cited Adolf Hitler and Mein Kampf, and accused the Jews of spreading AIDS, cancer, and immorality throughout Egypt after the Camp David Accords.

The MEMRI Lantos Project exposes anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial in the Middle East region and Middle Eastern communities in the West with the aim of supporting legislation and educating media and the general public.

11 Years of War in Syria: Situation Assessment
After 11 years of civil war, Syria is divided, subject to the influence of foreign forces, and suffering from a severe economic and humanitarian crisis. The Assad regime remains obligated to Iran and does not intend to break off relations with it, even in order to return to the Arab world and obtain essential economic aid. Moreover, Iran is expected to increase its influence in Syria as Russia's involvement is cut back due to the war in Ukraine.

However, Assad will try to limit the presence and military visibility of Iran in his country in order to avoid paying the price of Israeli attacks. Israel must therefore continue working to block Iranian entrenchment in Syria and the military threat that it poses - and in order to provide Assad with grounds and leverage to remove Iran from Syrian territory. This means a continuation of the aerial attacks, while retaining the mechanism of coordination with Russia, and improving the efforts to achieve more meaningful and long-term influence.

In this framework, Israel should work on building special ties with potential local allies, in particular the Kurds in the northeast of the country and the Druze in the south.
MEMRI: Egyptian Journalists Respond To Criticism Of Ramadan Television Shows Condemning ISIS: The Shows Are Important; The Problem Is ISIS, Not Television Series About It
Like every year during the month of Ramadan, Arab television stations have been airing new drama series that are avidly watched throughout the Arab world.[1] Two of these series, both of them dealing with the terrorist organization ISIS, sparked controversy in Egypt, especially the series Bi-Tulou' Al-Rouh,[2] about a woman whose husband forces her to join ISIS with him and who tries in vain to escape. This series sparked outrage already in March, before it began airing, after a poster for it was circulated, showing the characters in ISIS garb. Some, including Egyptian clerics, objected to the series on the grounds that it associates Islam with terrorism. For example, Al-Azhar scholar 'Abdullah Rushdy tweeted: "Arthouse [television series] that present religious people as terrorists will not manage to combat terrorism as much as they have managed to disgust viewers who fear harm to their religion. Can't you present the veil and the beard in their pure form, as they are worn by most of the Muslims in the world?!'[3] Egyptian preacher Muhammad Al-Sawi tweeted against the creators of the series: "Don’t these artists have any other issue [to deal with] excerpt terror, beards and veils? Has it escape your notice that America killed one million Vietnamese? Is there no series about Israel and its terrorism?...”[4] Much of the criticism was directed at actresses Elham Shahin and Menna Shalaby, who play the leading women characters in the series, especially at the former, who wears a headband bearing the shahada (the Islamic proclamation of faith), which many regarded as an insult to Islam.

In response to the criticism, the series writer, Muhammad Hisham 'Obeya, stressed that discussing ISIS does not constitute an insult to Islam, saying: "ISIS is a multinational extremist organization. Does anyone want to support it?... We, [the series] creators, decided to take a stance against it. The series does not insult Islam in any way. Art is incapable of harming religion." He added: "The series explores the reasons for the rise of ISIS and for its success in the Arab countries, in an attempt to understand the characteristics of this organization, which can be called all kinds of things, but not Islamic."[5] Actress Elham Shahin, who plays a commander of ISIS woman fighters in the series, expressed puzzlement about the public's reaction to it. Speaking on an Egyptian television program, she said that the public is apparently afraid to face the facts, and added: "The part [I play] in the series reveals the true face of the ISIS operatives; when you watch it you will understand. These people [i.e., ISIS] take you very far away from religion."[6]

The other series that sparked controversy in Egypt was The Returnees, directed by Ahmad Jallal. Based on true stories, it deals with young Egyptians who returned to their homeland after joining ISIS and with the efforts of the security forces to capture them before they carry out attacks.[7] One scene in the series shows a young ISIS member who murders his father. Among the claims made against the series was that it is not realistic.

Following the criticism against the two shows and the attacks on some of the actors who appear in them, Egyptian journalists came to the defense of the shows, and rejected the claim that they associate Islam, or Arab societies, with ISIS. They called on those who criticize them to condemn ISIS instead of television dramas that deal with it. One journalist also questioned the claim that ISIS has nothing to do with Islam, and asked why, if this is the case, the Sheikh of Al-Azhar, Ahmad Al-Tayeb, refused to proclaim that ISIS is heretical.[8] Another journalist decried the infringement on freedom of artistic expression.

The following are translated excerpts from some of these articles.
Egyptian Journalist Tawfik Hamid: Those Criticizing The Series About ISIS Should Be Criticizing The Organization Instead

In an article on the website, Egyptian thinker Tawfik Hamid, who in his youth was a member of the Islamist Gama'a Al-Islamiya organization and today lectures in the West against fundamentalist Islam, came out against those who criticized the series Bi-Tulou’ Al-Rouh for associating Islam with terrorism. He asked why the critics did not condemn ISIS itself in real time, and why the Sheikh of Al-Azhar refused to proclaim ISIS heretical. He wrote: "Several weeks before the marathon of Ramadan television series began, many people on social media [started] circulating posters for some of the dramas that were scheduled to air during this honorable month, including the series Bi-Tulou’'Al-Rouh. Actress Elham Shahin [who stars in the series] was brutally criticized, [because] some considered the series an affront to Islam.

"One of the main reasons for the controversy was that the series heroines, [played by] Elham Shahin and Menna Shalaby, wear the black clothes typical of the 'mujahidat' [women fighters] of the Islamic State organization, known as ISIS. The attack on Elham Shahin was more severe because she also wore a scarf bearing the shahada [the Islamic declaration of faith] proclaiming the oneness of God [i.e., the verse 'There is no god but Allah and Muhammad is His Messenger], and some saw this as a grave insult to Islam.
Iran nuclear deal near death, but West not ready to pull plug
Western officials have largely lost hope the Iran nuclear deal can be resurrected, sources familiar with the matter said, forcing them to weigh how to limit Iran's atomic program even as Russia's invasion of Ukraine has divided the big powers.

While they have not completely given up on the pact, under which Iran restrained its nuclear program in return for relief from economic sanctions, there is a growing belief it may be beyond salvation.

"They are not yanking the IV out of the patient's arm … but I sense little expectation that there is a positive way forward," said one source, who like others quoted spoke on condition of anonymity because of the issue's sensitivity.

Four Western diplomats echoed the sentiment that the deal - which Iran struck with Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States in 2015 but which then-U.S. President Donald Trump abandoned in 2018 - is withering away.

The pact appeared on the brink of revival in early March when the European Union, which coordinates the talks, invited ministers to Vienna to seal the deal. But talks were thrown into disarray over last-minute Russian demands and whether Washington might remove the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) from its Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) list.

The IRGC controls elite armed and intelligence forces that Washington accuses of a global terrorist campaign. Tehran's demand to remove it from the list is opposed by many U.S. lawmakers, who see it as a terrorist entity despite Iranian denials.

The Russian demands appear to have been finessed but the IRGC designation has not, with the impending Nov. 8 U.S. mid-term elections making it hard for U.S. President Joe Biden to buck domestic opposition to remove it.
Iran used fake Facebook profile to gather intel on targets in Israel – Shin Bet
The Shin Bet security agency announced Monday that it uncovered an Iranian operation that tried to recruit Israeli civilians to collect information on targets in Israel.

The alleged Iranian operators used a fake Facebook profile under the name “Sara Puppi,” who was presented as a young Jewish woman with connections and business in Israel, according to the agency.

The profile had thousands of friends, mostly Israelis. After a connection was established, conversations would continue over WhatsApp, the Shin Bet said.

According to the Shin Bet, Puppi asked Shin Bet officers pretending to be dupes to locate information about Israelis who were of interest to Iranian intelligence, as well as Arab diplomats and businessmen in Israel, in return for thousands of dollars in payment. Additionally, the operatives “examined the willingness” of the Israelis to harm the targets, the Shin Bet said.

The agency said the operators of the profile also used emotional and romantic manipulation to get the information they were seeking.

In addition, the Iranian operators asked Israelis to place an “inciting” banner on billboards against Russian President Vladimir Putin, “with the aim of harming Israel-Russia relations,” the Shin Bet said.

PreOccupiedTerritory: Omar, Tlaib Offer Tehran To Shelter Centrifuges In Their Basements (satire)
Two prominent members of Congress suggested new possibilities in the ongoing tensions over Iran’s nuclear weapons program today by proffering portions of their respective residences in Minnesota and Michigan to the Islamic Republic for purposes of protecting the crucial pieces of nuclear technology from attack.

Representatives Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) and Ilhan Omar (D-MN) announced Monday that the leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran need not take the trouble to excavate and construct new, secure facilities for the centrifuges and other equipment critical to the manufacture of atomic weapons to minimize the danger of American or Israeli attacks compromising the weapons program, because the two Congresswomen have allocated safe storage space in their own homes, in the subterraneous levels of those structures, for the same purpose.

“I believe we have arrived at a credible compromise position that satisfies the demands of all parties to the current set of disagreements,” stated Tlaib. “Iran gets a secure location to pursue its peaceful weapons program, where foreign military operations will not reach it. The U.S. removes the materials and processes of concern from Iran. Win-win.”

“Israel won’t dare attack a facility on American soil,” added Omar. “I mean, some people might shout about the USS Liberty or 9/11, and I don’t want to deny them their truth, but we all know no arrangement can be perfect. This is probably the best we can hope for. I encourage the president and Ayatollah Alu Khamenei to embrace our proposal to resolve the outstanding issues.”

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