Monday, June 06, 2022

From Ian:

David Singer: UN and PLO are the cause of journalist Akleh's death
CNN at least used the word “suggests” rather than “establishes”.

Not so Al Jazeera which headlined its report:
“Shireen Abu Akleh: Al Jazeera reporter killed by Israeli forces”

A later statement from Al Jazeera indicated it had not resiled from its unproven claim:
“In addition to the killing of Shireen Abu Akleh by the Israeli Occupation Forces outside Jenin refugee camp in the West Bank on May 11, 2022, the case file will also include the Israeli bombing and total destruction of Al Jazeera’s office in Gaza in May 2021, as well as the continuous incitements and attacks on its journalists operating in the occupied Palestinian territories”.

No mention was made of Israel’s claim that the Gazan building housing Al Jazeera: "contained military assets belonging to Hamas military intelligence,"

The Jenin refugee camp should have been closed after it came under the PLO’s administration in 1995 with its 14000 occupants being resettled in Jenin or other 'West Bank' Arab towns and villages.

The UN has never called for Jenin Camp’s closure –despite UNRWA labelling it as experiencing:“one of the highest rates of unemployment and poverty among the 19 West Bank refugee camps.”

Nor does the UN question why those 19 refugee camps are open today – being located in the territory of Areas A and B – called Palestine by that body and a non-member observer state of the UN.

The UN keeps repeating its mantra for a two-state solution- which Trump’s plan provides for – but refuses to call on the PLO to negotiate with Israel on the final contours of Trump’s proposed new State.

Instead the UN continues to take note of the quarterly reports prepared by Tor Wennesland - United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process – detailing the cycle of violence that peace negotiations could have helped prevent.

The UN and the PLO have a lot to answer for the bullet that killed Shireen Abu Akleh.


House letter calls for ‘independent investigation’ of Abu Akleh death
A group of House lawmakers is set to send a letter on Friday calling for an “independent investigation” of the killing of Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh and urging the Palestinian Authority to turn over evidence to assist the inquiry.

Twenty-four House members — 14 Democrats and 10 Republicans — have signed onto the letter, organized by Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ) and obtained by Jewish Insider, to Secretary of State Tony Blinken encouraging him to take steps to facilitate an independent inquiry into the Al Jazeera reporter’s death.

“The Palestinian Authority was quick to ‘reject and refuse the participation of any Israelis in this kind of investigation,’” the letter reads, citing an Al Jazeera report. “Without access to the bullet that the Israelis have requested as part of an independent investigation, it is impossible to determine all the facts. This obstinate position serves no one, and will preclude any final determination of responsibility. One-sided releases of information will not get us closer to the truth.”

The letter adds that “Recent sensationalist media accounts of the incident have not served the cause of truth. Only an independent investigation can resolve this situation, and provide solace to the families and all parties.”

Abu Akleh was killed in the West Bank town of Jenin during a raid by Israeli Defense Forces. The PA has accused Israel of intentionally killing Abu Akleh. Her employer, Al Jazeera, blamed Israel and has urged the International Criminal Court to investigate.

Israel has said Abu Akleh’s death occurred during an exchange of fire between Israeli forces and Palestinian militants and that it cannot conclusively determine who the shooter was without the provision of the bullet that killed the reporter, which the PA has withheld.

“We urge you to ask the Palestinian Authority to provide access to the forensic evidence in Abu Akleh’s death for an independent investigation, so that all parties can reach a definitive conclusion about the events leading to her death, and hold all parties accountable,” the letter reads.


Joe Truzman: Understanding the Militant Groups Behind the Violence in the West Bank
Katibat Jenin and Katibat Nablus are led by Palestinian Islamic Jihad while Hizam al-Nar is headed by Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades.

Hamas, The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, and The Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine are active in these formations but play a smaller role. While all of these groups have their own political movements and so-called military wings, they operate under the Katibat and Hizam al-Nar organizations as a single unit to combat IDF operations.

A similar model has been employed in Gaza with the joint operations room of the Palestinian factions. Approximately a dozen militant organizations operate under the Hamas-led operations room umbrella during times of conflict against Israel.

Evidence of the new formations was highlighted in a recent VICE News segment in May. At the beginning of the video, four of the previously mentioned organizations can be seen conducting a training operation in Jenin. VICE News did not specifically mention the name of these groups, however, FDD’s Long War Journal identified them by the bandanas worn by the fighters.

While clashes in the West Bank with militant groups have clearly been on the rise for more than a year, the IDF has yet to publicly acknowledge the new and aggressive approach the nascent organizations have undertaken against them. It’s unclear if this is due to not wanting to publicly reveal the significant escalation in the West Bank by Palestinian factions or an unwillingness to credit the groups for organizing a somewhat effective method of so-called resistance operations against the Israeli military.
Jonathan Tobin: Jews have bigger problems than a fake nose on an actor's face
More to the point, imagining anti-Semitism in films or even political commentary when there is none intended, as is obviously the case with Cooper's Bernstein biopic, doesn't make the Jews more secure.

It's not just that anti-Semitism spread by Islamist regimes and terrorist groups, left-wing anti-Zionists, black nationalists and right-wing extremists is more important than a movie about Leonard Bernstein.

In recent years, we've seen hyper-sensitivity about criticisms of controversial Jewish persons like leftist billionaire George Soros turned into a weapon to be used against anyone who has the temerity to point out that the hedge-fund operator/philanthropist is seeking to use his wealth to transform American politics and Israel for the worst. Soros is someone who does attempt to pull the strings on the American justice system by electing district attorneys who pledge not to prosecute criminals. If he didn't have a Jewish background, no one would think twice about portrayals of his actions as those of a puppeteer. But since he's Jewish, that's considered beyond the pale by those who don't care about the way he funds those who hate the Jewish state.

Anti-Semitism is a virus that won't be cured by treating Jews like Soros, who deserve to be criticized for both Jewish and non-Jewish reasons, as untouchable. Nor will it be ameliorated by those who think the solution is for movie producers to insist that Jewish characters are portrayed by handsome matinee idols without makeup intended to make them look more authentic.

It's time for Jews to stop coping with the "white privilege" canard by seeking to carve out their own protected intersectional niche. They need to worry less about the noses on actors and valid critiques of controversial Jews, and more about those who are actually spreading hate and seeking to delegitimize Jewish rights in the name of the same woke ideology others are vainly mimicking with their absurd claims of "Jew face."
Biden's trip postponement indicates Bennett government's instability
No one, it’s safe to assume, fell out of their chair on Friday when it was first reported that US President Joe Biden would be postponing his first trip to Israel as president.

Biden was originally slated to come at the end of the month, after attending G7 and NATO summits in Europe. But then, Israel’s political problems intervened, the government of Prime Minister Naftali Bennett seemed to be hanging by gossamer threads, and it was clear to all that this was not the most opportune political moment for a presidential visit.

Let’s say for a second that the government falls between now and the end of the month – not something that necessarily stretches the imagination – then what use would it be for Biden to meet a lame-duck Israeli prime minister?

Biden, for his domestic political interests, would hope that his trip to Israel would yield some concrete result on something – be it widening the Abraham Accords, jump-starting the Palestinian track, or reaching some kind of understanding with Israel about Iran.

But what chance would there be for any of that happening during a meeting with one man (Bennett) who might be out of office at the end of June, and another man – Foreign Minister and alternate prime minister Yair Lapid – who may never make it to the top of the pyramid, at least not in the current Knesset.

Neither Biden nor his advisers gave any explanation for the postponement. This led to a wide range of speculation. Some said that it was indeed a result of the precarious political situation in Israel. Others said that additional time was needed to put together a meeting in Riyadh with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman – remember, Biden said before the last elections he would treat Saudi leaders like the “pariah that they are.” And still, others attributed the postponement to the spate of mass shootings in the US and the worsening economic situation there.
WSJ: Saudi Arabia Engaging in ‘Serious Talks’ with Israel
Saudi Arabia is engaging in “serious talks” with Israel about establishing business ties and strengthening security coordination, the Wall Street Journal reported Monday.

The Arab Gulf state has so far held out from joining its neighbors in formalizing diplomatic relations with the Jewish state, citing progress on the Palestinian issue.

However, according to the report, the administration of US President Joe Biden is actively mediating between Jerusalem and Riyadh to normalize ties at a later stage.

Saudi neighbors the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain in 2020 signed the Abraham Accords with Israel in a deal brokered by the United States under then-president Donald Trump. Morocco and Sudan later joined the pact.

According to the Wall Street Journal report, the conservative Islamic kingdom “senses a shift” in its public toward establishing official relations with the Jewish state.
Arab Gulf states sanction IRGC, Hezbollah financiers, proxies
The Terrorist Financing Targeting Center (TFTC), consisting of six Gulf states, issued sanctions against a number of individuals, entities and groups affiliated with the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps' Quds Force, Hezbollah and the Saraya al-Ashtar and Saraya al-Mukhtar groups.

The TFTC includes Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

The sanctions targeted Ali Qasir, Meghdad Amini and Morteza Hashemi, members of two networks directed by and supporting the Quds Force and Hezbollah. The networks allow the Quds Force to cover up its involvement in selling Iranian oil, according to a statement by the US Treasury Department.

Qasir, Amini and Hashemi also launder money for Hezbollah officials and front companies. Amini and Qasir are in charge of a network of nearly 20 people and front companies in multiple countries that works to move and sell tens of millions of dollars worth of gold, electronics and foreign currency for the IRGC and its proxies.

Hashemi, meanwhile, runs a number of companies based out of Hong Kong and mainland China and uses his access to the international financial system to launder large sums of money for the Quds Force and Hezbollah. Citizens of the People's Republic of China established bank accounts and served as straw owners for Hashemi's companies. They also purchased dual-use products from the US for Iran on Hashemi's behalf.

Pro-IRGC groups in Bahrain sanctioned
Saraya al-Mukhtar and Saraya al-Ashtar, two IRGC-affiliated groups based in Bahrain, were also designated by the TFTC on Monday.

Saraya al-Mukhtar reportedly receives financial and logistic support from the IRGC. According to the US Treasury, the group's self-described goal is to "pave the way for Iran to exert greater influence in Bahrain and beyond." The group has also plotted attacks against US personnel in Bahrain and offered cash for the assassination of Bahraini officials.
UAE free-trade deal not only first with Arab country, but fastest in Israel’s history
It was the fastest free-trade agreement negotiated in Israel’s history. Signed on May 31 in Dubai between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, it comes only two years after they signed a historic pact establishing diplomatic relations and is a milestone in Israel’s acceptance into the region.

The agreement will remove tariffs on 96% of goods between the two countries on everything from food to jewelry to medical equipment. Other benefits include protection of intellectual property and, new to free-trade agreements, a promise to find ways for small- and medium-sized businesses to profit from “commercial opportunities granted by the agreement.”

“Where there is a will, there is a way,” Ohad Cohen, head of the Foreign Trade Administration at Israel’s Ministry of Economy, told JNS. “We both realized that we want to do this and that we shouldn’t waste time on needless negotiations.”

“The fact that both governments clearly say doing business with each other is kosher will definitely encourage businesses from both countries,” he continued. “Under the agreement, we’ve set up what we call a joint committee mechanism to solve problems. So if there is an issue, we have a mechanism through which we can discuss it with each other.”

Cohen led the trade negotiations for the Israeli side—something he normally delegates to deputies—but took the reins in order to speed up the process. “I had a very good partner on the other side,” he said, crediting his UAE counterpart, Juma Al Kait, assistant undersecretary of Foreign Trade Affairs at the UAE’s Ministry of Economy.
Australia’s new prime minister not expected to reverse policy on Israel
To reverse long-standing policy which holds Israel to be an important ally of Australia would be a “peculiar departure,” he added.

“While some within the government and the wider party will be agitating for a shift in voting patterns at the United Nations or for morally and legally untenable policies like the unilateral recognition of a Palestinian state, any such moves would side-track the government from its policy priorities and would undermine the government’s credibility,” said Ryvchin.

Arsen Ostrovsky, an Israeli-Australian commentator on Middle East foreign affairs, told JNS that some degree of cooling in the Australia-Israel relationship was likely to be expected because Morrison’s support for the Jewish state had been uncommonly strong.

“There is a quintessential Australian word, ‘mateship,’ which connotes a deep friendship, rooted in loyalty, respect and solidarity. Israel truly could not have asked for a better ‘mate’ or ally than the previous Morrison-led government, which really set the gold standard in support of the Jewish state, both in word and deed. This was evident no more so than at the United Nations and in respect of Israel’s right to self-defense against Palestinian terror groups,” he said.

“Although Israel has been fortunate to have enjoyed relatively strong bipartisan support in Australia over many years,” added Ostrovsky, there could be “a gradual cooling down in the unwavering degree of support we have become accustomed to.”

Emphasizing that the Australian Labor Party “is certainly not Jeremy Corbyn’s Labor Party,” and “while there is solid support for Israel at the top level,” there will “likely be considerable pressure to water this down in the rank and file,” said Ostrovsky.

One of the first tests for the new Albanese-led government, he said, “will be the upcoming Navi Pillay-led U.N. Commission of Inquiry, which is set to shortly release a damning report against Israel. Prime Minister Morrison’s government was unequivocal in standing by Israel in the face of the systematic bias and unfair singling out of Israel at the United Nations. I would hope that Prime Minister Albanese continues this policy.”


Tlaib, Ocasio-Cortez, McCollum target Israeli eligibility for Visa Waiver Program
Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) is soliciting signatures from House colleagues on a letter arguing against Israel’s inclusion in the Visa Waiver Program.

In the letter, which was obtained by JI, the Michigan congresswoman pushes back on ongoing talks between Israel and the Biden administration over the program, which allows foreign citizens to enter the U.S. for 90 days without applying for a visa. Israel has long sought to be included in the VWP, but has not hit the required benchmarks, such as a low visa rejection rate.

Tlaib alleged that Israel’s “discriminatory policies” make it ineligible for inclusion in the Visa Waiver Program.

“The Administration’s continued work to include Israel in the VWP is deeply troubling given that Israel appears to be, as the Institute for Middle East Understanding notes, patently ineligible due to its flagrant discrimination against Palestinian, MENA, Muslim and pro-Palestinian American citizens at its points of entry,” Tlaib wrote in a cover note to colleagues soliciting signatures for the letter, which was obtained by Jewish Insider.

Department of Homeland Security Under Secretary for Policy Rob Silvers told JI in December that the administration has “no timelines” for Israel’s admission and Israel will “have to meet all the requirements for program participation,” but said the issue is a “high priority.”

The congressional letter, addressed to Secretary of State Tony Blinken and Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas, has been co-signed by Reps. Betty McCollum (D-MN) and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), according to a memo obtained by JI. It is open for additional signatures until the close of business on Monday.

The letter argues that new Israeli procedures published in February “represent a clear Israeli intention to restrict the entry of certain American travelers seeking entry to the occupied West Bank.” This “disparate treatment is particularly perplexing” in light of Israel’s efforts to join the VWP, the letter reads.


Israel could lose legal control in West Bank if settlement bill falls
The fate of Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s governing coalition may hang in the balance on Monday over Knesset vote on a directive giving Israel legal jurisdiction over settlers living in the West Bank, which has been approved every five years since 1967.

Right-wing members of the opposition have pledged to vote against the bill as part of a push to bring down Bennett’s government.

Yesha Council head David Elhayani, of the coalition’s New Hope Party, has warned that failure to pass the bill will create “absolute chaos” for Israelis living in Judea and Samaria.

If the first reading of the bill is not passed on Monday, it could still be passed the following Monday. Failure to pass it by the end of June could bring civilian life in the settlements to a grinding halt.

Israeli police would not be able to operate in Area C of the West Bank, where all the settlements are located and which is under Israeli military and civilian rule.

The more than 450,000 Israelis who live there would be stripped of rights that allow them to operate as if they live within the borders of sovereign Israel. This could include access to state health insurance, the ability to be drafted into the army and the renewal of driver’s licenses.

As of Sunday night it was not clear that the bill had support even within the coalition. Ra’am (United Arab List) and rebel MKs Ghaida Rinawie Zoabi and Idit Silman may end up deciding how to vote at the last minute, which will make it very hard to know if there is a majority to pass the bill.

Ra’am leaders met on Sunday night to consider how to vote. Party leader Mansour Abbas is in favor of it and is trying to persuade other MKs in Ra’am and Rinawie Zoabi to vote for it in order to keep the coalition together.

Justice Minister Gideon Sa’ar has warned of political consequences if the bill is not passed. Sa’ar told confidants in the coalition that his threat would not apply if the bill is blocked by Silman.
Palestinian Authority Awards $150M to Families of Terrorists Prompting Push for Taylor Force Follow-Up
More than $150 million – that's what the Palestinian Authority paid to the families of terrorists in 2020. Their "Pay to Slay" policy is still in force, using your American tax dollars to fund terror campaigns.

In 2018, Congress passed the Taylor Force Act to cut off certain economic aid to the Palestinians to stop the practice of rewarding terrorism. Now, more legislation is needed to finish the task.

Taylor Force's family is hoping Congress can go a step further to try and end those payments.

Not a day goes by when Stuart Force doesn't think about his son Taylor who was taken from the world six years ago. "Probably more like an hour goes by that we don't miss Taylor. There will always be an emptiness," said Force.

Taylor Force was a U.S. Army veteran murdered by a Palestinian terrorist in Israel in 2016. His family made it their mission to end the Palestinian Authority's so-called "Pay to Slay" policy, where the PA pays stipends to the families of the terrorists who commit the crimes.

"It's sad to say, but the same countries that are hell-bent on destroying the United States, destroying Israel, have no problem using U.S. dollars to fund their terror campaigns," said Stuart Force.

Despite the Taylor Force Act, hundreds of millions of dollars are still being paid out. Force's family is now asking for a new bill, the Taylor Force Martyr Prevention Act, to help complete their mission of ending the payments. The bill targets banks in the Middle East that are facilitating the payments.

Congressman Doug Lamborn is sponsoring the bill in the House.

"The Palestinian Authority has made it very clear that their intention is to keep these payments going, so what we're trying to go is go after the financial institutions that prop up the Palestinian Authority and try to take away their ability to make this happen. We take away their ability to have corresponding accounts in the United States," said Rep. Lamborn (R-CO).

"Our approach from the original Taylor Force Act was to keep the United States taxpayer from sending money to the Palestinians, and they use that to fund their terrorist program. It bothers me and we'll do anything we can to stop them from doing it," said Stuart Force.
Controversy in Gaza over how much ‘axis of resistance’ helps Palestinian war effort
Three weeks ago, the Israel Defense Forces began “Chariots of Fire,” its largest training exercise in decades. The four-week drill simulates a multifront and multidimensional war against Israel’s enemies in the air, at sea, on land and on the cyber front. Sources on the ground say the Axis of Resistance alliance may become the most important factor on the political scene.

Ibrahim Ibrash, professor of political science at Azhar University and a former culture minister, believes that the reports of the Axis’ strength and power are inflated.

“There is a great exaggeration, made by media outlets such as Al Jazeera, in estimating the Axis of Resistance’s support of the Palestinian factions and of their capacities as well,” he said.

“If it’s true [the claims of strength], then why didn’t the parties to the Axis of Resistance defend themselves when they were targeted by Israel many times?” Ibrash asked.

“The real question here is, when all red lines have been crossed, when will this Axis of Resistance react? Israel assassinated senior top officials in Iran, Syria and Lebanon, yet no response has been made. Israel is occupying the entire Palestinian land, declared Jerusalem its capital; Israeli settlers are constantly storming Al-Aqsa Mosque, illegal Israeli settlement, oppression and demolition of Palestinian homes continue until this very moment. When will they act? What are they waiting for?” he said.

According to Ibrash, Palestinians, mainly the Jerusalemites, are the ones actually defending Palestine and Jerusalem, and not the Axis of Resistance.

Ibrahim al-Madhoun, the director of the Turkey-based Association for Palestine Communicators and Media (FIMED), believes that the level of coordination and communication among the parties in the Axis of Resistance, “especially between Hamas and Hezbollah, is increasingly growing.”
Two Palestinian Terrorism Suspects Arrested In Tel Aviv
Border Police and the Shin Bet internal security service have arrested two Palestinians who entered Israel illegally and are suspected of planning to engage in terrorist activities.

The two Palestinians residing in Nablus were apprehended in the south of Tel Aviv, during a joint operation by the armed forces and the internal intelligence services carried out on Monday morning.

Both men were taken for questioning by the Shin Bet to clarify the circumstances of their entry into Israel.

Israeli forces have stepped up counter-terrorism operations since the recent wave of attacks, several of which were committed by Palestinians who entered Israel illegally.

The ongoing military incursions into Palestinian villages and cities in the West Bank is dubbed “Break the Wave.”
Break the Wave: Two Palestinians Arrested in Israeli Operations
Two Palestinians were arrested on Friday night during Israeli counter-terrorism operations in the West Bank, the Israeli army said.

Israel Defense Forces (IDF) soldiers conducted a raid in Bethlehem where they detained a resident suspected of involvement in terrorist activities. IDF troops also seized weapons during the Bethlehem operation.

Friday night’s military activity in the West Bank is part of the Israeli army’s ongoing “Break the Wave” operation in response to a series of deadly terrorist attacks in recent months in Israel.

Another suspect was arrested in the Palestinian village of Jaba’ on suspicion that they aided in illegal border crossings from the West Bank into Israel.

During the Jaba’ operation, IDF forces encountered violent rioters who threw stones, explosive devices and Molotov cocktails at soldiers.
Israel Arrests Four Palestinian Fishermen off Gaza Coast
Israel arrested four Palestinian fishermen off the Mediterranean coast of Gaza on Saturday, Palestinian and Israeli sources said.

The Israeli military said it apprehended four suspects after two Palestinian vessels strayed from the designated fishing zone in the northern Gaza Strip, “violating security restrictions.” The navy fired at the boats when they failed to respond to instructions to halt, it added.

The secretary of the Gaza fishermen’s syndicate, Nizar Ayyash, told Reuters there were at least three Israeli attacks on Gaza fishermen on Saturday — all within the permitted fishing area.

In one of the incidents, he said, Israeli forces fired rubber bullets at a boat, wounding two of the four people aboard who were later hospitalized. In another, they seized a small boat after detaining the two fishermen on board, he added.

“We have recorded several violations against fishermen within the permitted fishing zone in the past weeks,” said Ayyash.

Fishing is one of the biggest industries in the coastal enclave, home to some 2.3 million Palestinians.


France’s Macron Speaks with PA’s Abbas over West Bank Violence
French President Emmanuel Macron spoke with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Saturday and expressed his “concern” over the “deteriorating situation” in the West Bank.

Macron also spoke of his “availability” to help negotiate a “lasting peace” in the region, according to a statement from Macron’s office.

The French President “deplored the continuation of the (Israeli) settlement policy and reminded Abbas of France’s unwavering commitment to respect the legitimate rights of Palestinians.”

Israel’s army intensified its arrest operations in the West Bank following a series of terrorist attacks on Israeli towns that left 19 people dead.

The raids sparked clashes with armed Palestinian groups, in which 30 Palestinians, including an Al Jazeera journalist, were killed.

Macron sent his condolences for the death of Shireen Abu Akleh during his conversation with Abbas and recalled the “importance for France that all the light is made on the circumstances of his death.”

He expressed his “readiness” to contain any escalation and promote the resumption of negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians “with a view to achieving a just and lasting peace in the region.”
French-Palestinian lawyer held for alleged terror links jailed for 3 more months
A French-Palestinian lawyer will spend at least three more months detained without charge under a controversial Israeli practice, court documents show.

Israeli authorities overnight Sunday-Monday extended the detention of Salah Hamouri, 37, under what is known as administrative detention, according to the documents.

The practice allows suspects to be detained for renewable periods of up to six months.

An Israeli military court sentenced Hamouri to administrative detention in March. It accused him of being a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), and said he “endangers security in the region.”

Hamouri, who holds French citizenship, denies being a member of the PFLP.

The PFLP has been implicated in multiple fatal attacks on Israelis and is considered by Israel, the United States and the European Union to be a terror group.

The military court documents, sent to Hamouri’s lawyers and seen by AFP, say that his administrative detention has been extended to September 5.
Rumors about Abbas’s health resurface amid talk of PA succession battle
Rumors about Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s state of health re-emerged on Saturday night, suggesting an escalating battle over his succession that has been raging in Ramallah the past few weeks.

Abbas, 86, has been criticized for promoting his close confidant, Hussein al-Sheikh, to the key post of Secretary-General of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), the number two slot in the Palestinian hierarchy, previously held by Saeb Erekat, who died in November 2020.

Sheikh, 61, is a senior official with the ruling Fatah faction and head of the Palestinian Authority’s General Authority of Civil Affairs.

In recent months, he has been considered a leading candidate to succeed Abbas, mainly because he is one of his most trusted aides.

Is Abbas's health in danger?

The latest rumors began circulating after a report on Twitter by the BBC in Arabic claimed that Sheikh has been entrusted with some of Abbas’s substantial duties due to his health condition.

But Sheikh was the first to vehemently deny the report. “There is no truth to the yellow journalism news circulating about the health of President Abbas, and he is in good health and is on the top of his work as usual,” he wrote on Twitter. “What is being circulated is an attempt at tampering with the internal Palestinian situation.”


Hamas as Tehran's Agent
Since the late 1980s, the Islamic Republic of Iran has been plying the Hamas terrorist group with cash and weapons while also teaching it how to be self-sufficient.

With hundreds of millions of dollars from Tehran pouring into its coffers, Hamas has evolved into the foremost Palestinian terror organization, capable of hitting Israel's main population centers and strategic infrastructure.

As of March 2022, according to a senior Israeli intelligence official, Hamas received $80 million annually from Iran.

Hamas engineers are also studying precision guided munition technology in Iran to learn how to target Israel more accurately in future wars.
Hamas Operatives Granted Turkish Citizenship, Assumed Turkish Names to Avoid Global Scrutiny
Trade registry data for a Turkish real estate company recently sanctioned by the US Treasury shows that a Jordanian Hamas financier acquired Turkish nationality and changed his name to a Turkish one, most likely to avoid scrutiny and to facilitate easy travel.

Hisham Yunis Qafisheh, who played an important role in the transfer of Hamas funds and managed several companies on behalf of the militant organization, is listed as one of the board members of Turkish real estate investment firm Trend Gayrimenkul Yatırım Ortaklığı A.Ş.

When the company was first established in 2006, three years after Recep Tayyip Erdoğan came to power in Turkey, it had a different name: Anda Gayrimenkul Geliştirme ve İnşaat, a limited liability company involved in construction and property development.

Qafisheh was one of two partners who owned the company, according to multiple documents reviewed by Nordic Monitor. In the first application for registering the business, he submitted papers to show his Jordanian citizenship for ID verification and declared his address as Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. The other partner was a man named Saleh Mabrouk O. Mangoush, a Saudi national, who also listed the same address in Jeddah as the place he maintains a permanent residence.


Ha'aretz: "Iran's Strategic Goal in Lebanon Has Been Achieved"
Interview with Brig.-Gen. (ret.) Dr. Shimon Shapira by Amos Harel

The generally accepted view holds that Hizbullah arose as an authentic Lebanese response to the Israeli invasion in 1982, which had actually targeted the Palestinians. A different view is held by Brig.-Gen. (ret.) Dr. Shimon Shapira, who tells Ha'aretz that the decision to establish Hizbullah was in fact made in Tehran, three years before the outbreak of the Lebanon War.

As a young officer in Military Intelligence, Shapira visited Lebanon half a year before the 1982 war, during secret talks held by the Mossad and the Phalangists. A year after the war's outbreak, he was assigned to coordinate the Shi'ite desk in the Lebanon branch of the MI research division. In 1989, he established the Iranian branch in MI. Shapira, 70, is currently a senior research fellow at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.

"In 1979, in Iran after the revolution, a decision was made by the leadership of the Revolutionary Council under Ayatollah Khomeini," he explains, "to export the revolution to the Arab and Muslim realms. The Iranian conception was: 'We will establish Islamic movements around the world that will recognize the principle of loyalty to the spiritual leader in Iran.' To get things going, Iran needed a country where there was a large Shi'ite community and where Iranian activity could be undertaken. Lebanon fit the bill....The Israeli invasion of Lebanon did not trigger [Hizbullah's] establishment."

"Iran forged a new Shi'ite-Islamic society in Lebanon, whose loyalty is to the supreme leader in Tehran. It also built a military arm that has caused Israel to be apprehensive....Around 2013-2014...they began talking about conquering the Galilee."

"In 2018, it turned out that some of their plans entailed a surprise attack that would take place in the future via six offensive tunnels the organization had dug in the course of years under the Lebanese border, and which were only then detected by the IDF....We must ask ourselves whether there are more tunnels. Their military force is a kind of Iranian corps that is stationed in Lebanon."

"An enthusiastic attempt is being made by the Americans to find moderate Shi'ites and even to inject funds to organize them in Lebanon. At the same time, they are trying to strengthen the Lebanese army. But it won't be a pro-American army. That's naive. The army in Lebanon understands that power lies with Hizbullah and they will not act against it."

"Lebanon has become a failed state, in which the state institutions have ceased to function....Iran's strategic goal was achieved: Hizbullah has taken control of the Lebanese state through its legal institutions."
Seth Fratzman: Why is Lebanon threatening Israel now?
Lebanon’s political leadership is threatening Israel, claiming that any Israeli activity in disputed areas offshore could lead to some kind of “action.” Lebanon has no conceivable way to really confront Israel, so the threats appear to be giving cover for Hezbollah to potentially attack Israel or attack an Israeli gas platform off the coast.

Lebanon’s political leadership is threatening Israel, claiming that any Israeli activity in disputed areas offshore could lead to some kind of “action.”

Lebanon has no conceivable way to really confront Israel, so the threats appear to be giving cover for Hezbollah to potentially attack Israel or attack an Israeli gas platform off the coast.

The reports coincide with Al-Mayadeen News claiming that Israel fears the “possibility” of Hezbollah targeting gas operations linked to the Karish project. Mayadeen is sympathetic to Iran and Hezbollah, claiming that Israel is preparing to secure the waters off the coast near Lebanon using ships and underwater defenses, as well as the naval version of Iron Dome. KAN News also reported on the issue.

Meanwhile, according to a story from Alliance News published at London South East, “Energean PLC on Monday confirmed its floating production storage and offloading unit has arrived on location in Israel for its Karish project.”

The report said the London-based oil and gas company “said its FPSO unit was transported by two tugs from the Sembcorp Marine’s Admiralty Yard in Singapore in a 35-day long journey.”
Iran crossing nuke uranium enrichment threshold 'cannot be avoided' - IAEA
Not only has Iran failed to reduce concerns about its violations of the nuclear nonproliferation safeguards agreement, it also will eventually cross the uranium enrichment threshold, International Atomic Energy Agency Director-General Rafael Grossi said Monday.

“Having a significant quantity [crossing the uranium enrichment threshold] does not mean having a bomb,” he said, adding twice that “this idea of crossing the line, it’s going to happen. They are very close,” and “it cannot be avoided.”

Questioned further if this meant the situation could not be salvaged, Grossi backtracked some and said: “Iran can stop through negotiations, or they themselves can decide to slow down” unilaterally.

Even after crossing the uranium weaponization threshold, which Tehran could do very quickly, he said, it would need to master detonation and delivery, which could take six months to two years, before being able to mount a nuclear warhead upon a missile.

Explaining the Islamic Republic’s failure to address its past nuclear violations, Grossi said it had continued its refusal to provide answers about uranium traces found at three undeclared nuclear sites.

“Iran has not provided explanations that are technically credible in relation to the agency’s findings at [the] three undeclared locations in Iran,” he said. “Nor has Iran informed the agency of the current location, or locations, of the nuclear material and/or of the equipment contaminated with nuclear material that was moved from Turquzabad in 2018.”

Grossi made his statement to the IAEA’s Board of Governors, which at the urging of the US, France, Great Britain and Germany may censure the Islamic Republic for the first time since June 2020 and only the second time since 2012.
PodCast Amb. Ron Dermer and Dr. Michael Makovsky: The Latest U.S. Intelligence Leak: Is America Trying to Curtail Israel's Freedom of Operation?
A U.S. intelligence official told the New York Times that Israel was behind the killing of Iranian Revolutionary Guards Col. Hassan Sayad Khodayari in Tehran, who was responsible for executing cross-border attacks on Israelis and Jews. Israel has denied involvement in the killing. But why did the leak occur?

This wouldn't be the first leak that came from U.S. intelligence officials. They are trying to distance themselves from Israel, to put the blame on Israel and keep the U.S. out of it. For the U.S. to think that they are going to stabilize the situation by distancing themselves from Israel not only endangers Israeli citizens and officials but it also actually makes the chance of an attack much higher.

This is also a message to Israel that the U.S. disagrees with the action that was taken. Essentially, what that means is they are trying to curtail Israel's freedom of operation. This was one of the concerns of the past, that should a nuclear deal be signed, the U.S. would immediately try to restrict Israel's freedom of operation. If they did a deal with Iran, and everybody starts applauding, then Israel will find itself as the skunk at the post-Iran-deal garden party.

Israel will continue to do these operations which we have to do against Iran in Syria or other places, but the U.S. may try to handcuff Israel through leaks like this or in other ways to prevent us from acting. This happened in the past.

After the deal in 2015, rather than stand with Israel and fight Iran in different areas around the region as was promised at the time - to push back against Iranian aggression - that didn't happen. There was almost no pushback. You remember the humiliation of the captured U.S. sailors. Everything was done to avoid confrontation.
Four Iranians killed in less than a month - coincidence?
Target #4: Ayoob Entezari
Then, on May 31, Iranian aerospace scientist Ayoob Entezari died in a hospital in the central province of Yazd after he was allegedly poisoned at a dinner he attended. The man who hosted the dinner reportedly fled Iran shortly afterward.

Entezari, who held a PhD in mechanical and aerospace engineering from Tehran’s Sharif University, was reportedly involved in Iran’s missile and drone industry. According to Iran International, Yazd’s governor-general’s office said that Entezari was a martyr, a turn used to describe those who have died while in the line of duty.

Israel has been blamed for many deaths in Iran including nuclear scientists, among them Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, who many referred to as the “father” of Iran’s nuclear weapons project, who was assassinated in November 2020.

However, it is hard to fathom that the mysterious deaths of IRGC Quds Force officers all serving in the same elite unit and an engineer and a senior scientist involved in aerospace engineering are a coincidence.

All cases appear to be a clear change in targets in Israel’s war-between-wars campaign (MABAM) that aims to prevent the Islamic Republic from acquiring a nuclear weapon, to prevent Iran’s entrenchment in Syria and to bring an end to its hostility.
After Israeli warning, Thailand said to be on high alert for potential Iranian spies
Thai police are reportedly on high alert over the potential presence of Iranian spies in the southeastern Asian country, as Israel warns that Tehran could be targeting its citizens abroad as part of a revenge plot.

According to a report in the Bangkok Post, as well as other local media outlets, the Royal Thai Police issued a “secret order” to police officers nationwide to be on the lookout for “Iranian spies,” citing the arrest of an Iranian national in Indonesia last year suspected of plotting attacks.

The newspaper cited a police source saying that Thai security agencies are closely monitoring the movement of Iranian nationals who are believed to be operating as spies in Thailand. Thailand is a popular tourist destination for Israeli travelers, in particular among fresh veterans of the Israel Defense Forces who often take off for several months.

Last week Israel issued a rare direct warning to Israelis traveling or planning to travel to Turkey that they could be targeted by Iranian operatives seeking to avenge the recent assassination of a senior officer in the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

In an unusual move, the National Security Council explicitly identified “Iranian terrorist operatives” as being the source of the threat to Israelis in Turkey and nearby countries.

Channel 12 news reported on Sunday that Israel is considering expanding the travel warning to additional countries amid concerns of an Iranian revenge attack.

Iran has a history of attacking or attempting to attack Israelis traveling abroad. The assassinated officer in the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, Col. Hassan Sayyad Khodaei, had reportedly help plan attacks against Israelis and Jews worldwide, including a series of 2012 attempted bombings of Israeli envoys.


General Mills refutes claims by BDS movement that it is boycotting Israel
Days after the Minnesota-based food-manufacturing conglomerate announced it had sold its stake in an operation based at a Jerusalem plant, General Mills released a statement emphasizing that the decision was all business, and no politics.

The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which seeks to isolate and delegitimize Israel, had targeted General Mills’ operations at the Atarot industrial zone plant for years, and claimed earlier in the week that their activist pressure had led to General Mills’ divestment.

“We have made clear the global business strategy that drove this decision. Any claims by others taking credit for this decision are false,” read a statement from General Mills, which since 2002 had manufactured Pillsbury products in Jerusalem, in a joint operation with Israeli investment group Bodan Holdings. “We continue to sell our products in Israel and look forward to continuing to serve Israeli consumers with our other brands,” the statement added.

General Mills, which also markets a number of other recognizable brands such as Betty Crocker, Yoplait, along with cereals like Cheerios and Lucky Charms, sold off its European dough business last year. The company characterized that move and its Jerusalem decision as part of a new business strategy “to reshape the company’s portfolio for sustainable, profitable growth by increasing its focus on advantaged global platforms.”


Narrow and shallow BBC reporting on Jerusalem Day
Listeners to BBC Radio 4’s ‘Midnight News’ on May 30th heard the following short report:
Newsreader: “Officials say 70,000 Israelis have joined an annual flag march through Jerusalem’s Old City, some of them taunting Palestinians as they passed through the Muslim quarter. Palestinians responded by hurling objects from rooftops. Reports suggest that more than 70 people were injured. Our Middle East correspondent Yolande Knell followed the march.”

Knell: “[recording singing] For the huge crowd of young, nationalist Israelis here, Jerusalem Day – marking Israel’s capture of the eastern part of the city and its religious sites in the 1967 Middle East war – is always a time to celebrate. For Palestinians – who want East Jerusalem as the capital for their hoped-for future state – it’s a cause of anger and resentment. Adding to the feelings on both sides today was a decision by the Israeli authorities to allow the flag march to continue on its traditional route, entering the Old City through the main gate to the Muslim quarter. Last year Jerusalem Day was a trigger for a devastating eleven-day conflict between Israel and militants in Gaza.”


Unsurprisingly, that portrayal is similar to the BBC’s written account of the same story in that it fails to clarify that Jerusalem Day celebrates the reunification of the city and completely erases the obviously relevant topic of the 19-year illegal Jordanian occupation of parts of Jerusalem.

The last two sentences of Knell’s report clearly place the onus exclusively on Israel, blaming heightened “feelings” on “a decision by the Israeli authorities” concerning a route that is no different than usual and describing the annual event as “a trigger” for a war that in fact began when Hamas chose to fire missiles at Israel’s capital, while erasing the fact that the flag march was cancelled last year.

Absent from Knell’s report – and all other BBC coverage of Jerusalem Day – is the issue of opportunistic Palestinian incitement to violence ahead of Jerusalem Day 2022. A week before the event, Hamas’ Ismail Haniyeh was already issuing threats from Qatar.
South African press council expels Jewish newspaper for criticizing BDS cartoon
The Press Council of South Africa expelled the South African Jewish Report after it refused to comply with decisions from PCSA Chair of Appeals Judge Bernard Ngoepe and the Acting Ombud.

According to PoliticsWeb, this follows a dispute that arose when the Report reported the opinions of two antisemitism experts who criticized a cartoon with an offensive caricature of a Jewish man stuffing money into his mouth, and the opinions were overruled by the acting press ombud without any opportunities to appeal the decision.

The cartoon had been posted by the South Africa Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Coalition on its Facebook page.

"The SA Jewish Report appealed the ruling by Acting Ombud Johan Retief in the complaint, SA BDS Coalition and GIWUSA v SA Jewish Report, but their application for leave to appeal was dismissed by Judge Ngoepe," PCSA chair Judge Phillip Levinsohn said regarding the council's decision.
Bulgaria's tsar a Nazi-collaborator, not hero, new book reveals
Many believe that Bulgaria, like Denmark, saved its Jews from the Nazi death camps. The book The Stolen Narrative of the Bulgarian Jews and the Holocaust (Rowman and Littlefield) by Jacky Comforty, together with Martha Aladjem Bloomfield, tells a different story.

It is a narrative that recalls Bulgaria’s alliance with Hitler to regain territory in Thrace and Macedonia, lost during the Second Balkan War of 1913.

In March 1941, Bulgaria joined the Axis powers and allowed the German army to cross its frontiers to attack Greece and Yugoslavia. A few weeks later, Bulgaria occupied Western Thrace and Eastern Macedonia – and its armed forces oversaw the delivery of 11,343 Jews to the Gestapo in Vienna, who then transported them to death camps in Treblinka. The Bulgarian king, Boris III, had refused to listen to the pleas of Charles Redhart, a diplomat of neutral Switzerland, to stop the deportations. The Bulgarians also assisted in the German occupation of Serbia, in which nearly 20,000 Jews lost their lives.

Martha Bloomfield is an oral historian who writes about minorities, immigrants and the homeless. Jacky Comforty, a documentary filmmaker, however, is the son of Bulgarian Jews who bore witness to those terrible years, survived and reached the United States. For both the authors, this story is personal.
Teen from Staten Island indicted for antisemitic attack in Williamsburg, Brooklyn
Logan Jones was indicted for assaulting a Jewish man in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn borough, District Attorney Eric Gonzalez announced on Thursday.

The 18-year-old, who is originally from Staten Island, walked to a synagogue wearing hasidic clothing when he committed the attack. The crime took place at the beginning of April when a group of a few people including Jones kicked and started punching the victim in the face. They fled the scene after the victim's wife asked a witness to call the police.

Charges and Injuries
Jones is charged with third-degree assault as a hate crime, third-degree menacing as a hate crime, third-degree menacing, third-degree attempted assault as a hate crime, third-degree attempted assault and second-degree harassment. His bail was set at $30,000.

“Without warning or provocation, this defendant allegedly assaulted an innocent man simply because of his Jewish faith," Gonzalez said. "Crimes that target individuals because of their religion, race, ethnicity, gender, or sexual orientation are a threat to everything we stand for here in Brooklyn. We will now seek to hold the defendant accountable.”
France: Four neo-Nazis arrested for planning 'Jew hunt' during soccer match
Four neo-Nazi men in France's Alsace region were indicted for possessing and trafficking an "impressive" amount of weapons that were intended for use against Jews, prosecutor Edwige Roux-Morizot said on Friday.

The men, aged between 45-53, were affiliated with far-right neo-Nazi groups and had intended on "hunting Jews" during a soccer match in Strasbourg, she said.

During the arrest, French police seized 18 legal and 23 illegal guns and some 120,000 bullets, as well as neo-Nazi literature, the prosecutor said.

The men were "well integrated into society," Roux-Morizot said, according to the BBC. They were arrested before they managed to carry out the attack.

French Jews feel unsafe
In a poll conducted by the American Jewish Committee (AJC) in February, a wide majority of France's Jewish population agree that antisemitism is widespread in France and on the rise, with most Jews and the general public agreeing that it is a major concern in French society.

Reports of antisemitic incidents in France increased by 75% in 2021, according to the Jewish Community Security Service, the French Jewish community’s main watchdog group.
Israeli Firms and Tourists Are Piling into Morocco
For decades Israel was Morocco's shadowy secret. Business between the two went through intermediaries, often Jewish-Moroccan exiles in Paris and intelligence agents.

Syrian tanks captured by Israel ended up in Morocco. Israelis helped fortify the wall that Morocco built to keep guerrillas out of Western Sahara.

Now, Israeli tourists are flocking in. Morocco expects 200,000 this year, up fourfold since the accord, with ten direct flights a week.

Some Israelis come to rediscover family roots, since 700,000 Israelis are of Moroccan origin.

Trade delegations are piling in, too. "There's such high interest, it's crazy," says an Israeli diplomat.

Israel Aerospace Industries is building two plants to manufacture drones and may even install a missile-defense system.
Israelis sue Paramount over 'Top Gun: Maverick'
The family of the Israeli author whose article inspired the 1986 Tom Cruise movie Top Gun on Monday sued Paramount Pictures for copyright infringement over this year's blockbuster sequel Top Gun: Maverick.

According to a complaint filed in Los Angeles federal court, the Paramount Global unit failed to reacquire the rights to Ehud Yonay's 1983 article "Top Guns" from his family before releasing the "derivative" sequel.

Shosh Yonay and Yuval Yonay, who live in Israel and are respectively Ehud's widow and son, said Paramount deliberately ignored that the copyright reverted to them in January 2020, "thumbing its nose" at federal copyright law.

Paramount said in a statement: "These claims are without merit, and we will defend ourselves vigorously."

The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages, including some profits from Top Gun: Maverick, and to block Paramount from distributing the movie or further sequels.
Israeli taekwondo athlete snubbed by Egyptian competitor
Olympic medalist in tawkwondo Avishag Semberg was defeated Sunday in the Roma 2022 World Taekwondo Grand Prix after losing to Croatian opponent Bruna Duvancic 1:0.

But the real story in Semberg's Grand Prix came at the end of her first match against Sami al-Husseini of Egypt, who left the mat without bowing or shaking Semberg's hand.

Semberg, 20, competes in the under-49 kg. (108 lbs.) category. In her first two rounds, she easily defeated her opponents. Tawkwondo matches traditionally end with the competitors bowing to each other and shaking hands, a ceremony al-Husseini skipped.

Just two weeks ago, Semberg won the silver medal in the European Championships.

This was not the first time that Egyptian competitors have refused to shake hands with Israelis. At the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, judoka Islam el-Shahabi refused to shake hands with Israel's Ori Sasson, and was welcomed as a hero upon returning home.


The 1967 Six Day War: Why it matters
Today, there are those who wish to rewrite history.

They want the world to believe there was once a Palestinian state. There was not.

They want the world to believe there were fixed borders between that state and Israel. There was only an armistice line between Israel and the Jordanian-controlled West Bank and eastern Jerusalem.

They want the world to believe the 1967 war was a bellicose act by Israel. It was an act of self-defense in the face of blood-curdling threats to vanquish the Jewish state, not to mention the maritime blockade of the Straits of Tiran, the abrupt withdrawal of UN peacekeeping forces, and the redeployment of Egyptian and Syrian troops. All wars have consequences. This one was no exception. But the aggressors have failed to take responsibility for the actions they instigated.

They want the world to believe post-1967 Israeli settlement-building is the key obstacle to peacemaking. The Six Day War is proof positive that the core issue has always been whether the Palestinians, and the larger Arab world, accept the Jewish people’s millennia-long presence in the region and right to a state of their own. If so, all other contentious issues, however difficult, have possible solutions. But, alas, if not, all bets are off.

And they want the world to believe the Arab world had nothing against Jews per se, only Israel, yet trampled with abandon on sites of sacred meaning to the Jewish people, not to mention driving out their Jewish communities in one country after another, including in my wife’s native Libya.

In other words, when it comes to this conflict, dismissing the past as if it were a minor irritant at best, irrelevant at worst, won’t work.

Can history move forward? Absolutely. Israel’s peace treaties with Egypt in 1979 and Jordan in 1994, and its more recent normalization agreements with the UAE, Bahrain, Morocco, and Sudan, powerfully prove the point.

At the same time, though, the lessons of the Six Day War illustrate just how tough and tortuous the path can be — and are sobering reminders that, yes, history does matter.






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