Wednesday, May 04, 2022

05/04 Links Pt1: Gantz to Bereaved Families: ‘You Paid the Price for Our Existence’; The UN Is Living in a Fantasy World; Palestinian Zero-Sum Mentality

From Ian:

Amb. Danny Danon: Remembering Israel's Fallen Soldiers
On Remembrance Day for Israel's Fallen Soldiers on May 3-4, the country unites. The nation stands together to cherish the memory of the brave men and women who gave their lives to fight for and secure their nation's future. Every loss of a soldier tears a hole in the hearts of all the people of Israel. Each one is publicly reported with an extensive description of the circumstances. In addition to these fallen servicemen and women, each year dozens of wounded fighters pass away as a result of their injuries.

While serving as a reservist, my late father, Joseph Danon, was badly wounded in a battle with terrorists in the Jordan Valley when he was just 29. After a lengthy hospitalization and numerous complex surgeries, the start of his never-ending rehabilitation process began.

I was privileged to know a large number of severely injured IDF fighters. I will always remember that, despite the heavy price they paid as a result of their horrific injuries, their love for the State of Israel only grew and their belief in the righteousness of our nation's path was never undermined. May their memories be a blessing.
Gantz to Bereaved Families: ‘You Paid the Price for Our Existence’
On Wednesday morning, Israel’s Defense Minister Benny Gantz held a speech at the name reading ceremony on Mount Herzl in Jerusalem, commemorating Israel’s fallen soldiers.

Gantz commenced the ceremony by mentioning all IDF soldiers killed this year.

“As public leaders, we have a responsibility to set aside disputes related to bereavement and Yom Hazikaron (Israel’s Memorial Day), and simply embrace and remember the fallen. Israeli society deserves one issue that we will all treat reverently,” he stated.

He added that the “massive” price paid by those left behind and the Israeli society is also “our driving force to continue to live, to do good, to repair, to come together, to preserve camaraderie and mutual responsibility,” he said, ending his speech by thanking the bereaved families.

“[You] are the ones who paid the price for our resistance and existence. We will embrace them in our hearts, and thus we will protect Israeli society, heritage, memory, and unity.”

Israel’s Memorial Day officially began at 8 pm Tuesday night with the sound of the siren for one minute, followed by a ceremony at the Western Wall in Jerusalem’s Old City.

Israel’s Memorial Day Starts With Moment of Silence, Western Wall Ceremony
Israel’s Memorial Day, Yom HaZikaron, officially began at 8 pm Tuesday night with the sound of the siren for one minute followed by a ceremony at the Western Wall in Jerusalem’s Old City.

The national holiday honors fallen soldiers and victims of terrorism a day before celebrating Independence Day, which this year is the Jewish state’s 74th.

President Isaac Herzog in a speech at the Western Wall Plaza echoed remarks made earlier in the day by Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, with both leaders calling for unity.

“Our sons and daughters, who fell in defense of our state, fought together and fell together,” Herzog said.

“They did not ask, nor did anyone ask them, who was right-wing and who was left-wing. Who was religious. Who was secular. Who was Jewish and who was not Jewish. Nor did grief pose these questions, to them or to you. They fell as Israelis, defending Israel.”

“In cemeteries, arguments fall silent,” Herzog continued. “Between the headstones, not a sound. A silence that demands that we fulfill, together, their single dying wish: the resurrection of Israel. The building of Israel. United, consolidated, responsible for each other.”

Gil Troy: Israel’s Memorial Day
Most Israelis agree not only about what to do on Yom HaZikaron, but what not to do as well. Few have been able to stomach suggestions for joint Israeli-Palestinian memorial services. There may be other days on the calendar when this is perfectly appropriate, but on the country’s Memorial Day, it would disrespect the victims of the ongoing ideological war that rejects Israel’s right to exist. It would overlook the many Palestinian celebrations that still predictably follow the terrorist murders of innocent Israeli civilians.

Dedicating this day to Israel’s losses alone is not all that different from the many northerners who would refuse to honor the Confederate dead on America’s Memorial Day, regardless of individual cases of gallantry, or the Ukrainians who won’t be saluting deceased Russian soldiers anytime soon, whether or not those soldiers personally supported Vladimir Putin’s war. At Seder, Jews lament Egyptian losses by spilling 10 drops from their four cups of wine. That modest tribute is proportional, acknowledging the enemy’s humanity. But mixing Memorial Days would be an act of communal spinelessness masquerading as bigheartedness.

This, then, is the most compelling lesson that Israel’s Yom HaZikaron might be able to teach Americans. Just as individuals cannot function without some level of self-esteem, a people cannot function without communal pride. And a democracy’s civil religion needs sacred moments that mute partisanship by consecrating shared memory. The contemporary effort to deny the basic goodness of America and to denigrate its many accomplishments is self-defeating. It turns every holiday into a battlefield, every ritual into a symbol of oppression rather than an opportunity to reflect, mourn, and celebrate.

Israelis’ collective sorrow-to-joy ritual doesn’t put an end to any of the country’s political battles. But it does provide a welcome break—and much-needed patriotic perspective.
HonestReporting: 'Take Care of This Country': Israel Commemorates Those Who Made the Ultimate Sacrifice
Israel today is marking Yom HaZikaron, the Memorial Day for Israel's Fallen Soldiers and Victims of Hostile Acts. When the siren sounded at 8 PM Tuesday night and again at 11 AM Wednesday morning, the entire country came to a standstill and people remembered those who made the ultimate sacrifice.

At sundown, when Yom HaZikaron concludes and flags are again flying at full staff, Independence Day celebrations will kick off across Israel. There's a reason why Yom HaZikaron and Yom HaAtzmaut are observed back-to-back: Israel owes its very existence to those who gave their lives.

This is as true today as it was in 1948.

Michal Herzog: Israel's fallen heroines
My favorite stories from when I was a kid were the ones my dad used to tell me right before bedtime. The stories about the Palmach - the elite fighting force of the Jewish community during the British Mandate.

These stories featured Zahara Levitov, a Palmach fighter and Israel's first female pilot who fell in the War of Independence when she was 20 years old.

Every year, on the eve of Israel's Memorial Day, as the flag is lowered to half-mast, I drift in my thoughts and in my heart back to those stories and to Zahara Levitov - was my childhood hero.

Not only was Levitov the first female pilot in the Israeli Air Force, but she also participated in Palmach's operation named Night of the Bridges in 1946, when 11 bridges connecting Israeli territory to its neighbors were destroyed in order to prevent the British soldiers from receiving supplies.

I had the chance to grow up on a heroic story that centers around a female hero. Just like Sarah Aaronsohn, who led an underground movement against the Ottoman rulers, and Hannah Szenes, who returned to Europe to fight the Nazis. We had all heard about these women as children.

But in my family, the story of Levitov hit a little too close to home. My late father Shaul Afeq was also a member of the Palmach and also took part in the Night of the Bridges operation.

My father, who later became a colonel in the IDF, died about a year and a half ago. But, until his last day he held an appreciation for his sister in arms Levitov, and for the bravery of those who completed that heroic operation.
Israel reflects on heavy cost of sovereignty on Memorial Day
Interview with Ron Ben Yishai, commentator on military and national security for Ynet, and Amir Oren, security analyst at Haaretz, on Israel's Memorial Day (Yom HaZikaron).

Yom HaZikaron officially began at 8 pm Tuesday night with the sound of the siren for one minute followed by a ceremony at the Western Wall in Jerusalem's Old City.

The national holiday honors fallen soldiers and victims of terrorism a day before celebrating Independence Day, which this year is the Jewish state's 74th.

Israel should add Diaspora terror casualties to list of fallen
During the Shabbat morning prayers, a terrorist entered the "Tree of Life Community" synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. "All Jews must die," he shouted in English, killing 11 worshipers. Four years earlier, during the morning prayers, two terrorists entered the Bnei Torah synagogue in Har Nof in Jerusalem. "Allah is Great," he shouted in Arabic and murdered six worshipers. The list is lengthy and painful. The attack at the kosher Jewish supermarket in Paris and the attack at a supermarket in Kiryat Yovel in Jerusalem. The bombing of the "Goldenberg" Jewish restaurant in Paris and the bombing attack of the "Matza" restaurant in Haifa.

Terrorism does not distinguish between blood according to the color of the passport. Through the rifle of the Muslim terrorist who murdered seven people in Toulouse, three of them children, there was no "French Jew," only a "Jew." If he could reach any of us, in Israel or around the globe, he would not be lazy and wouldn’t hesitate to shoot us all. The enemy is the same enemy, the war is the same war, the Jew is the same Jew. So why do the victims of antisemitism across the globe not find a place in Israeli memory?

Norma Rabinovich, a Mexican Jew, who was killed in a terrorist attack at a Chabad house in Mumbai, is not counted as a murdered victim. The five Israeli citizens murdered with her are. Norma was scheduled to make aliya a few days after the attack. Relatives of the 85 people killed in the attack on a Jewish building in Argentina in 1994 will not be recognized by the National Insurance Institute as bereaved families if they immigrate to Israel. And I am not talking about a pension or monetary reward. It is enough just to be recognized for their loss and pain.

These fallen were murdered for the same degrading purpose that will never be achieved: to remove us from the face of the earth. Their lives were cut short just because they were Jews. In 1963, the Day of Remembrance for IDF Martyrs was regulated by law. In 1980, the victims of the underground, the Mossad and the Prison Guard Service were added. In 1998, civilians who were victims of terror were added. It is time to address the victims of antisemitism, our Jewish brethren, as well.
50 years since the hijacking of Sabena Flight 571 to Israel
A day before the Black September Organization’s hijacking of Sabena Flight 571 from Brussels via Vienna to Lod on May 8, 1972, Capt. Reginald Levy called his daughter, Linda, who worked as a flight attendant for British Caledonian at the time. He told her that he was flying to Tel Aviv with her mother, Dora, on his 50th birthday and had booked a table “at a lovely restaurant near the Dan Hotel” to celebrate.

After Levy’s family heard about the hijack, they gathered in their Brussels home – Linda, 26, her 15-year-old sister and her two brothers, the older one with his wife and their three-year-old daughter. “It really turned our lives upside down,” Linda recalls. “We knew nothing about Israel and the Palestinian conflict. I remember going to the local shop to get the papers and was shocked that life was going on as normal. I kept thinking: Don’t they know what we’re going through?”

Twenty minutes after takeoff from Vienna, two male terrorists armed with pistols and grenades broke into the cockpit, while their comrades – two women carrying plastic explosives – remained in the cabin. Levy managed to relay a message to Israel requesting help and after landing conveyed the hijackers’ demand to Israeli officials for a Palestinian prisoner release.

“We weren’t worried about dad because we knew he could handle it,” Linda says. “He was a professional who flew in the RAF. But, we were all worried about mum. They had been on the plane for over 24 hours and it must have been so hard for her.”

A day later, in what was dubbed Operation Isotope, a team of 16 Sayeret Matkal commandos led by Ehud Barak – including Benjamin Netanyahu and Danny Yatom – approached the plane disguised as mechanics in white overalls, stormed it and within minutes shot dead the two male hijackers, captured the two female hijackers and rescued the 90 passengers. A pregnant passenger wounded in the exchange of fire later died of her injuries.
First Druze Jewish Agency envoy to the US spoke about Israel's fallen soldiers
About 1,200 Jews from across North America gathered together to commemorate Yom Hazikaron in Cleveland, Ohio at “JPro22: Going Places Together, in partnership with Jewish Federations of North America,” a conference for Jewish communal professionals from around North America.

Senior Shlicha to Washington DC of the Jewish Agency for Israel Gadeer Kamal Mreeh - the first senior Druze envoy of the Jewish Agency - spoke about the unique relationship between the Druze and Jewish populations in Israel and the deep commitment of her community to the defense of the country.

“I believe that today more than ever, our fallen soldiers want us to live together, not just to die together. They want us to see the beauty and to face the complexity," said Mreeh. "They want us to build a better future together and strengthen our social resilience, shared society and our Israeli identity. They want us to seek unity, close the gap, create bridges and build trust. They want us to talk with each other, not about each other.”

On Wednesday morning, a group of conference-goers will take part in a “Ratzim Lezichram” run to commemorate Israel’s fallen soldiers and victims of terror attacks. The run is being organized by conference participants from Israel.

Itay Margalit, Community Shaliach of the Jewish Agency for Israel at the Jewish Federation of Cleveland, will speak about memory and the experience of Yom Hazikaron in Israel. Participants will also have the option to read stories of Israelis who were killed during service before they begin the run.
Arab-Israeli victim of terror becomes symbol of coexistence

In First, Israeli Embassy in UAE Honors Fallen Soldiers, Terror Victims on Memorial Day
For the first time, Israel held a ceremony to commemorate its fallen soldiers and victims of terror in an Arab country on Tuesday evening, as the Jewish nation marked the somber start of Yom HaZikaron.

The proceedings took place in Hebrew at the Israeli Embassy in Abu Dhabi and were led by Jerusalem’s ambassador to the United Arab Emirates, Amir Hayek. They included the Yizkor and El Maleh Rahamim prayers for the departed, as well as the Jewish mourner’s Kaddish.

“Here, in Abu Dhabi, we will bow our heads and honor those who in their deaths willed us life,” Hayek stated at the ceremony. “From here, vow to take care of a better future for the coming generations — a future in which no nation will lift a sword against another nation, and no more war will be learned.”

“From here, from Abu Dhabi, we will continue to remember the fallen. We will continue to accompany the wounded and the bereaved families,” he said.

Hayek was appointed as Israel’s first ambassador to the UAE last year, after Jerusalem in 2020 agreed to normalize diplomatic ties with several Arab countries under the Abraham Accords, with American help.

Amid clashes between Israeli police and Palestinian rioters around Jerusalem’s Temple Mount and the al-Aqsa Mosque during the holy Islamic month of Ramadan, Hayek was summoned by the UAE last month to hear its condemnation over the increasing violence. Earlier in April, Israel and the UAE finalized talks for a free trade agreement to boost bilateral commercial relations.
How British and American Elites Failed to Stop the Jewish State
At the United Nations, the Soviet puppet states made increasingly forceful statements denouncing British imperialism and endorsing Zionism. Polish representative Alfred Fiderkiewicz, an Auschwitz survivor, made a particularly eloquent case for Jewish statehood. During and after partition, communists in Western and Eastern Europe attempted to use the widespread sympathy for Jews as a tool to legitimate their own causes. In July 1948, communist Florimond Bonté proclaimed in the French National Assembly “the Greek partisan, the soldier in the Chinese popular army, the Spanish combatant, the democrats in Vietnam, the Indonesian patriots, the Hindu resistant are all comrades [compagnons] of the battle waged by the soldiers of the Haganah.”

The U.N. vote for partition legitimated the Jewish state for many American holdouts and emboldened the liberals, whose ideas for ending the fighting horrified the U.S. national security establishment. The New York Times editorial board announced before the vote that it “would stand ready to accept any favorable U.N. solution,” and star columnist Arthur Krock concurred with what he saw as “world opinion.” When the Jews were losing in March 1948, Eleanor Roosevelt protested the State Department’s unwillingness to endorse a U.N. peacekeeping mission in Palestine over fears that the Soviets would contribute troops. The CIA and military were already worried that they had alienated the Arabs and that the communists would take advantage of any unrest that occurred; to America’s spooks and generals, this must have sounded like madness. Herf notes the irony that these intelligence and defense departments, which were busy propping up social democratic parties in Western Europe to counter the communist parties there, did not seriously consider doing the same in Israel.

After the Arab states invaded, the Soviets continued to point to Palestine as evidence for the criminality of American and British imperialism. The Americans and British were growing increasingly alarmed as the Soviets blockaded Berlin, Soviet client states flooded the combat zone with weapons, and the French communists staged a massive strike, so they scrambled to stop the fighting, preserve the moderate Arabs’ military capabilities, and keep the Soviets out of the region. While managing this complex situation, Truman also had to win reelection, which led him to publicly overrule the State Department and his British allies at times. By January 1949, Egypt’s army faced encirclement and destruction, and only then did the Americans and British force the parties into a lasting cease-fire.

At the end of the war, Ben-Gurion adopted five principles to guide Israeli foreign policy. Among them was “friendship with all peace-loving states, especially in the United States of America and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.” But the Soviet Union was on the cusp of falling into the anti-Zionism, and often outright antisemitism, that distinguished its Cold War foreign policy, and the Americans were cooler toward Israel than Ben-Gurion would have preferred. Israel’s closest ally at the time was in fact France: The social democrats came out on top of the labor unrest, and for the next two decades the two countries enjoyed a close security partnership. It took Britain several years to develop a strategic relationship with Israel, and the Americans lagged further behind.

The early years of the Cold War were a dizzyingly complex period, and even the most capable statesmen struggled to keep all the different interlocking dynamics in their heads at once. Key American and British leaders lost sight of important on-the-ground realities during this time and their foreign policies suffered as a result. As the United States enters into a geopolitical struggle of indeterminate duration once again, readers will benefit from studying this period carefully.
Palestinian Zero-Sum Mentality
The Mufti laid down a pattern of behavior in the 1920’s that has been followed to this day. It shuns compromise and operates on intimidation, and murder of anyone who has transgressed. During British Mandatory times, Arab moderates were liquidated by the Mufti’s goons. It has solidified the extremists that still set the tone in the Palestinian society, even among Israeli-Arabs. Israeli-Arab parliamentary (Knesset) representatives are virtually all anti-Israel extremists who openly and defiantly stand in solidarity with Palestinian terrorists. Increasingly though, ordinary Israeli-Arabs are integrating into Israeli society and are rejecting the extremism of their leaders. The majority of Israeli-Arabs, and Jerusalem Palestinians with Israeli identity cards, prefer to live in Israel rather than under the PA.

Ban Ki-moon stated that, “The outline of an end to the conflict is clear. We know them well. They are laid out in United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions, the Madrid principles, including land for peace, the road map, and existing agreements between the parties…”

Ban Ki-moon was clearly pandering to the Islamic bloc in the UN when he invoked the Saudi 2002 “peace plan,” which echoed the Palestinian demand of the “return of the Palestinian refugees.” He should have known better than make his moral equivalency statements. Israel did make good on the UNSC resolution 242 calling for land for peace. Israel returned the entire Sinai Peninsula to Egypt, including its oil wells, and demolished established Jewish communities. Israel did the same with Jordan; it traded land for peace.

Once Arafat’s PLO took over negotiations with Israel following the Madrid process, there was never a chance for peace. Just like his distant relative, the Mufti, he used intimidation and terror to squash any possibility for a peaceful compromise and a two-state solution. The weakness of the current Abbas-led PA has increased the influence of the Islamist terror group Hamas in Gaza, and their jihadist partners; the Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

As long as the legacy of the Mufti, Haj Amin al-Husseini prevails among Palestinians, and the zero-sum mentality coupled with intimidation, terror, and murder guides Palestinian leadership, there will not be peace or a two-state solution.
The UN Is Living in a Fantasy World
The once-noble UN, formed in 1945 to be the very imprimatur of humane global order, is in fact often biased, ideological and actively obstructive of the pursuit of international justice - with subsets of its 193 member states clubbing together to advance all manner of malign interests. All in the name of peace and human rights, naturally.

Although the UN helped bring Israel into being in 1947, since the 1970s, strong anti-Israel alliances within the UN have produced volleys of resolutions designed to isolate, undermine and harm the Jewish state, checked solely by America's vetoes at the Security Council. Moreover, the world's many anti-Semitic countries are free to gang up on Israel year after year.

The UN is home to the permanent Division for Palestinian Rights of the Secretariat, the Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices in the Territories, and the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People.
Pinsker Centre Podcast: Ep. 19 - International Organisations - Beleaguered and Biased?
In this episode of People Talk… Politics, Maria, Mackenzie, and Joe, discuss how Israel is treated by international organisations. They put forward the evidence for these bodies having double standards towards Israel compared to other members of international institutions.

The policy fellows also assess the International Criminal Court and the UN Human Rights Council’s ability to hold perpetrators of crimes to account, and explain the evidence of bias in the UN General Assembly and UN Relief and Works Agency.
David Singer: Fueling Jew hatred on the Temple Mount
Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman al Safadi - standing alongside Arab League chief Ahmed Aboul Gheit after an emergency Arab League meeting in Amman stated:

"Our demands are clear that Al-Aqsa and Haram al Sharif in all its area is a sole place of worship for Muslims,"

Aboul Gheit reportedly said Israel was violating a centuries-old policy according to which non-Muslims may visit the Al-Aqsa compound, Islam's third most sacred site after Mecca and Medina, but not pray there.

The briefing to the UN Security Council by Tor Wennesland, Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, was equally disturbing.

“... on 21 April, Jordan convened a ministerial of the Arab League to discuss tensions at the Holy Sites. The Committee issued a statement following the meeting calling for “the respect of the legal and historic status quo.”

The legal status quo grants freedom of access for Jews and Christians worldwide to the Temple Mount which the rioters were preventing.

The historic status quo involves the continuation of Islam’s century’s old practice - agreed to by Israel since 1967 in the hope of helping end the Arab-Israel conflict –that now requires Jews to not mutter one syllable in prayer and pray silently whilst on the Temple Mount – Judaism’s holiest site, sans prayerbooks.

Wennesland amazingly told the Security Council:
“I welcome statements by senior Israeli officials reiterating Israel’s commitment to upholding the status quo and ensuring that only Muslims would be allowed to pray on the Holy Esplanade.”

The UN’s abject surrender in not specifically demanding that Jordan ensure freedom of access for all people to the Temple Mount under the Jordan-Israel Peace Treaty is deplorable

That the UN should welcome the continuation of an ancient Islamic supremacist practice excluding non-Muslims praying on the Temple Mount represents the endorsement of a policy that in today’s world smacks of racism and apartheid deserving of condemnation.

The Temple Mount is Judaism's most holy site, not its third most holy site.

Jew-hatred is a corrosive human condition that remains incurable and abominable.

PMW: Palestinian teens seek death for Palestine following the PA’s calls
While Israel today mourns its fallen soldiers and those killed in terror attacks, teenagers in the PA are announcing their desire to bring about their own deaths as Martyrs for Allah– in an attack against Israelis.

Encouraged by the PA’s endorsement of terror, praise for terrorists, and calls for “popular resistance” - the PA euphemism for terror - Palestinian teens have expressed how they actively seek a violent Martyrdom-death confronting Israel, “defending Palestine.”

The father of 17-year-old Shukat Abed, who was recently killed while participating in violent riots in Kafr Dan north of Jenin, told official PA TV at his son’s funeral that his son had expressed his wish to become a “Martyr.” A few days before his death, Shukat Abed had argued that since he and his cousins were so many in number, “one of them needed to be a Martyr.” He had notified his mother that she should “wrap him in shrouds,” and when taking a selfie, he indicated that the family would use the photo when he would soon die as a Martyr:
Father of Shukat Abed: “My wife told me two days ago: “He [Shukat Abed] said: ‘Listen mom, you need to wrap me in shrouds. Me and my cousins together are 10, 15, or 20 [people]. One of us needs to be a Martyr.’” His mother told him: ‘I don’t want to wrap you in shrouds.’ He told her: ‘By Allah, you will wrap me in shrouds.’ This conversation was two days ago, I swear. Yesterday evening… he [Shukat Abed] held his phone, took a selfie, and said: ‘Tomorrow you will enlarge this photo.’” (i.e., since he planned to become a Martyr.)

[Official PA TV News, April 15, 2022]

Official PA TV broadcast this as part of a report on the funeral of 17-year-old Shukat Abed.

Another teenager vowed to “fight until the last Palestinian child [in the village] dies!” His father was killed while participating in violent riots against Israeli forces in Beita:

Teenager vows: “We will fight until the last Palestinian child [in the village] dies!”

IMF Report: PA, Gaza Economy in Dire Condition as Political & Security Situation ‘Remains Fraught’
The International Monetary Fund last week issued a report on the economic situation in the “West Bank and Gaza,” suggesting “the Palestinian economy is enduring a fiscal crisis and the economic outlook is dire.”

The report, available for downloading here, says that repeated political and security shocks, and the combination of the COVID-19 pandemic and spending priorities, have driven deficits in the PA and Gaza to unprecedented levels.

“With limited financing options, the authorities have accumulated large domestic arrears. Public debt (including arrears) increased from 34.5% of GDP in 2019 to 49.3% of GDP in 2021.”

The report points out that “the fiscal challenges are largely structural in nature. Under unchanged policies, the economic outlook is dire with debt on an unsustainable path and per capita GDP projected to decline. This is against the backdrop of already persistently high unemployment and poverty, particularly in Gaza.”

“Unemployment has stayed stubbornly high and poverty worsened, with Gaza suffering disproportionately,” according to the IMF report. “At the end of 2021, the unemployment rate stood at 24%. It improved to 13% in the West Bank, but remained very high in Gaza, at 45%, reflecting the [May] 2021 conflict [with Israel] and existing restrictions on the movement of people and goods. Extremely high unemployment in Gaza is closely associated with high and increasing poverty, with the World Bank estimating that almost 60% of the Gazan population lives below the poverty line.”

Disclosure Reveals Highest Echelon of Turkish Government Involved with Criminal and Terrorist Networks
Both al-Qadi and his nephew as well Erdoğan's son were leading suspects in an investigation into corruption pursued by prosecutors in Istanbul and were the subjects of detention warrants issued on December 25, 2013 by the prosecutors. However, Erdoğan stepped in, illegally preventing the execution of the warrants by ordering the police to ignore the prosecutor's orders. After the removal of the prosecutors and police chiefs who were involved in the investigation, Erdoğan managed to whitewash the crimes of his associates.

In addition to business deals conducted with the help of Erdoğan's abuse of authority, al-Qadi family members and their associates had also pursued a secret Muslim Brotherhood agenda with respect to Egypt and Syria. Al-Qadi had secretly met with both Erdoğan and Turkish intelligence chief Fidan multiple times on his visits to Turkey. During some of his trips to Turkey, al-Qadi was still under UN and US sanctions, and he was supposed to be denied entry to Turkey. Yet Erdoğan sent his own bodyguard to pick him at the airport and to make sure he was allowed to enter with no paper trail.

One of the intercepted conversations featured the voices of President Erdoğan, who was prime minister at the time, and his son Bilal, suggesting the two had attempted to hide large amounts of cash in their family home after the corruption investigation was made public in December 2013. The recording was leaked to YouTube in 2014.

In another incident that took place at the end of October 2013, Ömer Sertbaş, a chief adviser to former Transportation, Maritime Affairs and Communications Minister Binali Yıldırım, found out that his telephone was under surveillance as part of an investigation by the İstanbul Police Department's Financial Crimes Unit. Sertbaş had been put under surveillance as part of an investigation into bid-rigging by the İstanbul Public Prosecutor's Office, and prosecutors alleged that Yıldırım had received kickbacks from a number of businessmen.

The disclosure of the intercepted secure phone conversations not only embarrassed the Erdoğan government publicly but also exposed how it was deeply involved with criminal outfits and terrorist networks. In response the Erdoğan government retaliated against officials at TIB and TÜBİTAK as well as members of the police and the judiciary who had simply done their job under the law and complied with court orders on the wiretapping of suspects. Starting in 2014, many officials were summarily and arbitrarily dismissed for exposing the Erdoğan government's dirty dealings and were jailed on fabricated charges.
State Department Report Glosses Over Assad’s Narco-Trafficking Wealth
In a congressionally mandated report issued last week, the State Department made a single passing reference to drug trafficking as a source of wealth for the family of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad. The report’s errors and omissions reflect the Biden administration’s lack of interest in the robust enforcement of sanctions on the Assad regime, especially those authorized by the bipartisan Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act of 2019.

Since taking office, the Biden administration has sanctioned only two sets of Syrian regime targets, none of them economically significant. In contrast, the previous administration issued new sets of designations each month for seven consecutive months after the law went into effect in June 2020. Congress made the application of Caesar Act sanctions mandatory, so the slow pace of designations suggests the Biden administration is refusing to shoulder its legal responsibilities.

To spur the Biden administration’s enforcement of the Caesar Act and related sanctions, Congress included a provision in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for the current fiscal year that requires the secretary of state to submit a public report “on the estimated net worth and known sources of income of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his family members.” The provision specified that the report should address income “from corrupt or illicit activities.”

Yet rather than using this as an opportunity to reinvigorate the enforcement of sanctions against the Assad regime and its financiers, the Biden administration downplayed the problem by issuing a report that barely covers the information available in the public domain. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the report’s cursory treatment of narcotics production and trafficking networks in Syria and Lebanon, whose growth has been explosive.
MEMRI: On International Qods Day, Instituted By The Iranian Regime, Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Hizbullah And Other Iran Allies Call For Jihad Against Israel, Threaten Regional War
As they do every year, Iran and its allies marked International Qods Day ("Roz-e Qods" in Persian) on the last Friday of Ramadan – which this year occurred on April 29 – with events in Iran, in several Arab countries and online. At these events, leaders of the Iran-led resistance axis – including officials of Hizbullah, Hamas, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), the Houthi movement in Yemen, and the Iran-backed militias in Iraq – called for continued jihad against "the temporary entity" Israel and for the liberation of Palestine as part of a regional war involving all components of the resistance axis, which they referred to as the "Jerusalem axis." The events included conferences, rallies and processions in Tehran, in Hizbullah's stronghold in Beirut and in Gaza. Furthermore, a Hamas delegation headed by a member of the movement's political bureau, Khalil Al-Hayya, and by Hamas official Osama Hamdan visited Iran and attended the main Qods Day rally in Tehran. The delegation also met with Iranian officials, including the commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), Gen. Hossein Salami, and thanked them for Iran's support of the Palestinians.[1]

Another event, which took place on April 26, 2022, was the "Jerusalem Podium" online conference, at which political leaders of the main Iran-backed terror organizations in the region delivered speeches, including the head of Hamas' political bureau, Isma'il Haniya; PIJ secretary-general Ziad Al-Nakhaleh; the deputy secretary-general of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), Abu Ahmad Fouad; the secretary-general of the Popular Front – General Command, Tallal Naji; Hizbullah secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah; an official of the Iraqi Popular Mobilization Units (PMU),[2] Hadi Al-'Amiri, and the leader of the Houthi movement in Yemen, 'Abd Al-Malik Al-Houthi. The conference was also attended by clerics from East Jerusalem, including former Jerusalem Mufti and current Al-Aqsa Mosque preacher Sheikh Ekrima Sabri and the Archbishop of Sebastia from the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem, 'Atallah Hanna, who called to continue defending Jerusalem from what they termed Israel's aggression against it.

In their speeches at the Qods Day events, which this year occurred amid a wave of terror attacks in Israel and violent clashes between Palestinians and the Israeli security forces in Jerusalem and in the Al-Aqsa compound, the leaders of the resistance axis praised the attacks and their perpetrators, and called on the Palestinians to continue their jihad and armed resistance against Israel. The Palestinian people, they said, has understood that its goals will only be achieved through jihad and armed struggle, and that this action must continue until Al-Aqsa, Jerusalem and all of Palestine are liberated and the right of return is realized. They repeatedly stressed that Israel is a temporary entity that will be defeated and eliminated by the Muslims. An especially belligerent speech was delivered by the head of Hamas' political bureau in Gaza, Yahya Al-Sinwar, who threatened that thousands of synagogues around the world would be desecrated if Israel continued to desecrate Al-Aqsa. He called on Palestinians to carry out lone wolf attacks and on Israeli Arabs to prepare their guns, cleavers, axes, and knives for the defense of the Al-Aqsa Mosque and Jerusalem.[3]

Another recurring motif in the speeches was that the resistance axis is united in its commitment to the causes of Jerusalem and Palestine, and that all its components are preparing for a joint regional war against Israel. For example, the spokesman of the PIJ military wing, Abu Hamza, said that "the arena of the coming campaign will transcend the borders of Palestine" and that "all the components and arms of the resistance axis will turn the enemy entity [Israel] into one big conflagration." Hizbullah secretary-general Hassan Nasrallah likewise underscored that there is a broad regional axis committed to the defense of Jerusalem, and that Hizbullah is "on the front line of the confrontation," along with the Palestinians. Another Hizbullah official, Nabil Qaouq, said that "the resistance axis has become an army of a million [fighters] for the liberation of Jerusalem, and it is preparing every day for the great campaign." PMU official Hadi Al-'Amiri stressed that the Iraqi resistance has undertaken the task of liberating Jerusalem, and that this is an integral part of its efforts to liberate Iraq from American control.

Iran set to execute jailed doctor accused of spying for Israel
A Swedish-Iranian academic convicted of spying for Israel is set to be executed in Iran later this month, a news agency in the Islamic republic reported on Wednesday.

Ahmadreza Djalali, formerly based in Stockholm where he worked at the Karolinska Institute, a medical university, was invited to a conference at Tehran University in April 2016, where he was subsequently detained.

He was sentenced to death in 2017 after being found guilty of passing information about two Iranian nuclear scientists to the Mossad that led to their assassinations.

In a voice recording made in jail, then later posted on YouTube, Djalali claimed that he was coerced by interrogators into confessing wrongdoing, Voice of America reported.

Citing informed sources, ISNA news agency said on Wednesday that his death sentence would be carried out by May 21.

Djalali was granted Swedish citizenship while in detention in February 2018, a few months after Iran’s supreme court confirmed the death sentence.
Iranians chant ‘Death to Palestine’ to protest Islamic Republic
Iranians chanted "Death to Palestine" in protests over the last few days, triggering a range of reactions and analyses by experts on the Islamic Republic of Iran in light of the unusual event.

“Iranian people in Sirjan chanting: Death to Palestine! It shows the absurd ideology of the theocratic regime & terrorist Shia mullahs in Tehran which supports the #Terrorists against Israel! Iranian people are supporting #Peace & have no problem with #Israel or the #USA at all,” Erfan Fard, a counter-terrorism expert focused on Iran, tweeted on May 1.

“Personally, I have no information regarding the exact date and place of the protest in the video," Fard added in a second tweet.

The video sparked reactions from other Iran experts. Iranian-American journalist, Karmel Melamed, said: “This is an old protest video... but still accurately portrays the sentiments of many people in Iran today.”

"Iranians chanting ‘Death to Palestine’, in #Iran. Why? It's one way to: 1- criticize the regime's expensive and unpopular anti- #Israel policies, which have isolated Iran and its economy. 2- criticize the ruling regime, many of whose members are vocal #Palestine supporters,” Israeli analyst Meir Javedanfar tweeted.

”Iranians chanting ‘Death to Palestine’-because they are sick & tired of the Regime stealing the peoples’ resources to fund terror proxies #Hamas, #Hezbollah & Palestinian Islamic Jihad via @EQfard," Ellie Cohanim, the first Iranian-born official who worked for the US state department tweeted.

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