Saturday, June 18, 2022

From Ian:

Biden’s Mideast peace problem? He lives in the past
U.S. President Joe Biden’s first visit to the Middle East next month will include stops in Israel and the West Bank. It is notable that in the White House press statement listing the issues Biden plans to raise with his Israeli and Palestinian counterparts, the word “peace” does not appear.

This is not because Biden is uninterested in advancing peace between Israelis and Palestinians, as some media outlets have implied.

On the contrary, Biden has taken a series of steps to elevate the Palestinian leadership over the last 17 months, including restoring the U.S. aid that former President Donald Trump halted. On June 9, just last week, the Biden administration opened a new “Office of Palestinian Affairs” in Jerusalem, three years after the Trump administration closed the Palestinian consulate in Jerusalem.

The opening of the office is not only a reversal of Trump administration policy but also an explicit rejection of the Israeli government’s opposition to the current administration’s earlier plan to reopen the Palestinian consulate in Jerusalem.

It is an ironic coincidence that, on the same day that the Biden administration announced its decision to open the Office of Palestinian Affairs, two Palestinians were indicted for their role in a deadly ax attack in the town of Elad in which they killed three Israelis and wounded several others.

Biden’s failures in the Middle East are markedly different from those in other parts of the world. His disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan, which emboldened Russian President Vladimir Putin to invade Ukraine, and his repeated gaffes regarding Taiwan, among other difficult moments over the last 17 months, all stem from carelessness and a lack of engagement.

But his Middle East policy fails in a different way. It is a systematic kind of engagement in the worst possible manner. In effect, Biden is pursuing a new “appease” process characterized by the single-minded elevation of the Palestinian leadership while not holding them accountable for incentivizing violence against Israel and disregarding Israel’s expressed concerns.
How Israel is using gas exports to boost its diplomatic standing
In the talks with the Europeans, it became clear that that without an alternative gas supply, Europe will need to return to burning coal, a move that would be bad for Europe and bad for the climate.

“The Israeli gas market is young,” Schillat said. “Tamar is just a decade old, Leviathan has been producing gas for two-and-a-half years and Karish has yet to connect to the pipe.

“This is an advantage since our industry can grow and we have a lot of projects to increase capacity,” he added.

In the short term, Israel is already moving ahead with plans to build a third pipeline that can transport gas to Egypt via Nitzana. Currently, gas is moved to Egypt through two pipes – one underwater and one, above ground, via a depot in Jordan.

The third pipe will enable Israel to up its capacity. Once in Egypt, the gas will be liquefied at two different LNG facilities, loaded onto cargo ships and then sent to Europe where it can be converted back into gas and used for electricity.

In the longer term, other options are being reviewed from FLNG facilities near the gas rigs to a massive pipeline that would transport the gas to Europe, directly from the Mediterranean. Talks are ongoing between the government and commercial companies on these different proposals.

“The capacity is going to increase in a big way and we can double what we are exporting already within the next four years,” a government source explained.

But here is the catch – this is infrastructure, big infrastructure and that takes time to build and get working. What Israel decides today will only become available within a matter of years. In the meantime, winter is around the corner for Europe and energy needs will dramatically grow.

There is an opportunity that Israel has. Hopefully, it will not miss it.
Israel must expel the EU’s antisemitic diplomat
Not only is Von Burgsdorff’s libelous rant insulting to every Israeli, and especially to the families of victims of Palestinian terror, but it is also a strong terror motivator. While Palestinian terror is promoted directly by PA figures who incite hate and murder along with the PA’s rewarding and honoring terrorists, terror is also promoted when Palestinians feel they have international support to kill. When Von Burgsdorff, a senior diplomat, says in effect that the gruesome murders of Israelis who were chopped to death with axes in front of their children was “not surprising,” the diplomat can become a terror multiplier. Worse still, coming from a diplomat who represents the EU, he is probably even more influential than the PA religious figure who recently prayed on official PA TV, “Allah, delight us with the extermination of the evil Jews.”

Palestinians calling to kill Israelis is part of the background hum in the PA, but a diplomat who blames the butchering of Israelis by Palestinians on Israeli behavior is a strong booster shot for terror in the region. If even only one Palestinian’s motivation to kill Israelis is aroused or strengthened by the knowledge that the EU understands his plight and motivation, the diplomat will be morally responsible for the consequences of the terror.

Von Burgsdorff’s statement in the name of the EU that Israel’s behavior causes Palestinian terror is no different in essence than Abbas saying European Jewry’s behavior brought centuries of massacres. They are all saying that killing Jews and Israelis, whether thousands in Israel or millions in Europe, is an act of self-defense.

If the EU wants to have any standing in Israel, it must immediately recall Von Burgsdorff, condemn his irresponsible speech and replace him with someone who does not support terror justifying Antisemitism. If the EU refuses to bring him back, Israel must demand that Germany recall its diplomat; if neither acts properly, the Israeli government must do what any government that respects the lives of its citizens would do: Put him on the next plane to Brussels or Berlin.

Israel must not allow any diplomat to remain in the region who echoes PA hate speech by blaming Jewish victims for their own murders. Von Burgsdorff must go.

Appeal to Preserve Jewish-African Heritage Signed by International Leaders in Morocco
An appeal to advance cooperation across Africa in preserving Jewish-African heritage was signed by African and international Jewish leaders this week in Morocco.

The “Call of Rabat” appeal pushes for recognition by individuals, civil society groups, and governments of the long history of Jewish life in Africa, while emphasizing preservation and accessibility for Jewish historical sites.

“I am happy to announce from Rabat, the 2022 Capital of African Culture, that a call is going out on this day to Africa and all the world to preserve African Jewish heritage,” said El Mehdi Boudra, founder and president of the Mimouna Association, a Moroccan NGO that partnered with the American Sephardi Federation (ASF) to organize the conference, which was held from June 13-15 under the theme “Past, Present and Future.”

The “Call to Rabat” was signed by Malcolm Hoenlein, vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations; Minister of Cabo Verdean Communities Jorge Santos; Tunisia’s former Minister of Tourism René Trabelsi; Serge Berdugo, secretary general of the Council of Moroccan Jewish Communities; Shaun Zagnoev, president of the South African Jewish Board of Deputies; Magda Haroun, president of Cairo’s Jewish community; professor Ephraim Isaac, founder of Ethiopia’s Peace & Development Center; ASF Executive Director Jason Guberman; and Boudra.

“We recognize the importance of the Jewish heritage that exists in our country, Cape Verde, at every level… I truly hope this Conference will shed light and … promote unity, solidarity, and cooperation in the world,” said Santos.
Israel: ‘Concrete’ threats of Iranian attack on Israelis in Istanbul this weekend
Senior Israeli officials warned Friday that there were “concrete” threats that Iran was trying to carry out a terror attack on Israelis in Istanbul over the weekend and urged all citizens to leave Turkey immediately.

The warnings from the political and security officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, come after a week in which Israel has urged its citizens in Turkey to immediately return home, and issued its highest possible security warning for Istanbul, over concerns that Iranian agents are planning to kill or kidnap Israelis.

The warnings came amid unverified reports in the press that Israeli and Turkish intelligence had together already thwarted several planned attacks by a broad network of Iranian agents, nabbing some of the suspects.

Israeli officials sharpened the warnings on Friday, saying that they believed that Iran had set in motion efforts to carry out wide-ranging attacks over the weekend, especially in Istanbul, and had ordered cells of Iranians and local Turkish recruits to target Israelis anywhere they could “at any cost.”

They warned that any Israeli could be targeted in any place — in hotels, restaurants and other places of entertainment — urging anyone who could to “immediately leave Istanbul.”

Those who could not leave were told to lock themselves in their hotel rooms and reduce showing signs that they were Israeli.

There are currently believed to be some 2,000 Israelis in Turkey.
‘Biased Investigations’: Israel Reiterates Call For Palestinian Authorities to Hand Over Bullet That Killed Al Jazeera Journalist
Israel on Friday reiterated its call to the Palestinian Authority to hand over the bullet that killed Shireen Abu Akleh to determine culpability amid publications of “biased investigations” into the death of Al Jazeera journalist in recent days.

“The Palestinian Authority cooperates with Israel on investigations from time to time,” the IDF said in a statement. “The Palestinians’ refusal to transfer the bullet and hold a joint investigation with American representation is telling of their motives.”

The 51-year-old Palestinian-American journalist was fatally shot in Jenin, in the West Bank, on May 11, while covering IDF counterterrorism operations that followed a deadly string of terror attacks in Israel. Since the tragic incident, the Palestinian Authority has refused requests by Israel to hold a joint probe and hand over the bullet found in Abu Akleh’s body, hindering an Israeli ballistics investigation, the IDF has said.

In the aftermath of the incident, Palestinian leaders quickly accused Israeli forces of killing Abu Akleh, while Israel reiterated that it remains unclear whether she was shot by inadvertent Israeli or Palestinian fire during a gun-battle.

On Thursday, Al Jazeera published photos of what it claimed was the bullet that struck and killed the Palestinian journalist. Citing ballistic and forensic experts, the network alleged that the featured green-tipped bullet is used in an M4 rifle and of a calibre used by Israeli forces.

Palestinian Rocket Fire Draws Israeli Air Strikes in Gaza
Palestinian militants fired a rocket toward a city in southern Israel on Saturday, drawing Israeli air strikes, the Israeli military said, after months of relative calm in the area.

There were no immediate reports of casualties in Gaza or Israel, which intercepted the rocket that was launched toward the city of Ashkelon, setting off air raid sirens and sending residents to bomb shelters.

Israel said Hamas, the Islamist militant group which controls Gaza, fired the rocket.

“In response to the rocket attack, Israel Defense Forces aircraft struck a number of Hamas terror targets in the Gaza Strip,” the Israeli military said in a statement.

A spokesperson for Hamas’s political wing, Hazem Qassem, declined to comment on the Israeli allegation and referred Reuters to the group’s military wing which did not immediately comment.

The Israel-Gaza frontier has been relatively calm since May 2021, when Israel and Palestinian militants fought an 11-day war.

Although Saturday’s cross-border fire did not appear to signal a wider escalation, violence has risen in the West Bank and in Israel in recent months.

Israel freezes move to allow in 2,000 more Gaza workers after rocket attack
Israel froze a move that would expand the quota of work permits for Gazan Palestinians to 14,000 on Saturday, after terrorists in the coastal enclave launched a rocket toward southern Israel.

Israel’s military liaison to the Palestinians, widely known by its acronym COGAT, had announced Thursday that an additional 2,000 permits would be added to the quota.

But following a rocket attack in the pre-dawn hours of Saturday, Defense Minister Benny Gantz decided to freeze the move, COGAT said in a statement on Saturday night.

“The Hamas terror group bears responsibility for everything that is done in and emanates from the Gaza Strip towards the State of Israel, and it will bear the consequences,” the statement said.

The rocket was intercepted by the Iron Dome air defense system, and the Israel Defense Forces struck several Hamas sites in response.

The Defense Ministry has signed off on a tentative plan to eventually raise the number of Gaza permits to 20,000, a dramatic and unprecedented increase. In mid-2021, just 7,000 Palestinians had permits to work or trade in Israel.
Palestinian activists ban ‘LGBT party’ in Ramallah
"Don't test our patience"
The leader of the group, Yaman Jarrar, is the son of prominent Hamas preacher and YouTube figure Sheikh Bassam Jarrar, who is famous for his “prophecy” that Israel will cease to exist in 2022.

In the video, Yaman is heard telling people at the center: “There’s a guy called Bashar Murad who’s supposed to hold a party here today. Bashar Murad is gay. This person is banned from holding a concert. He does not represent us or any of our free people. We came here to advise you in a respectful manner. We are talking to you in a nice way; don’t test our patience. Anyone who dares to harm our religion will be crossing a redline.”

Jarrar later published a post on Facebook in which he explained why he and his friends decided to prevent the concert from taking place in Ramallah.

“While the young men of Jenin are sacrificing their lives for the beloved homeland, a suspicious group tried to hold a gay party in Ramallah,” he wrote, referring to the killing of three Palestinian gunmen by the IDF in Jenin last week. “A group of young men who care about their religion and homeland went to the place of the concert and informed the suspicious party’s organizers of the need to evacuate the place and respect the blood of the martyrs.”

Jarrar said that he and his friends were “surprised when some of the gay people mocked our religion and threw trash and stones at us while we were preforming the evening prayer in front of the center.”

PA banned LGBTQ activities
In 2019, the Palestinian Authority banned members of the LGBTQ community from carrying out any activities in the West Bank.

The ban came after the grassroots group Al-Qaws for Sexual & Gender Diversity in Palestinian Society was planning to hold a meeting for its members in the city of Nablus.

PA Police spokesperson Luay Zreikat said that such activities are “harmful to the values and ideals of Palestinian society.” He accused unnamed “dubious parties” of working to “create discord and harm civic peace in Palestinian society.”

Social Engineering in the Name of Iran’s Islamic Revolution
Most often the goal is to get valuable information from the target and assessments about how he sees the situation in Iran. The same researcher is often showered with praise and seduced by an original idea that often goes “against Iran,” such as “how to destroy Iran from within.”

The approach usually is signed under the name of the same person without his phone number (for fear that the target will call the same person and understand that he was tricked). But as one of the authors recently experienced, Iran-linked operatives are now even leaving phone numbers.

Those who are at the receiving end of such Iranian entreaties should take the following steps: doubt any email they receive regarding possible collaboration, especially when emails are sent from a user’s private address (e.g., via Gmail) and not the institutional domain; doubly verify that the sender is real – through other social media platforms or by calling his/her employer; never provide personal details or open links you receive from this source; and be cautious in the information you make accessible about yourself on social media platforms.

Contrary to popular belief, most of Iran’s successful cyberattacks were not because of its technological capabilities, but because of the very extensive use it makes of social engineering tools. Today there are good technical solutions that can protect companies and people from hacking in the cyber dimension. However, it is very difficult to influence the human factor with these approaches, especially when the email seems credible, the offer to cooperate is so flattering, and it corresponds with the subject’s desire to demonstrate the knowledge he has and share it with others.

This makes the human factor the weakest link in the chain. This is not a new pattern of action, but there has been an acceleration in its use. The higher the awareness of the relevant parties, the more difficult it will be for Iran in its intelligence missions.

In a broad sense, there is a need to increase information sharing between the social networks and state intelligence agencies. This cooperation in the Iranian context can help block those profiles. The phenomenon cannot be prevented, but it can certainly be reduced considerably. Awareness of Iranian behavior in the cyber realm is the best way to counter their practices.

Small Heath councillor apologies after posting historic 'anti-semitic messages' on Facebook
A statement, issued on her new Facebook account, said: "In recent days historic social media posts of mine have come to light. I take full responsibility for them, I recognise that they are utterly unacceptable and I apologise unreservedly for them. I am also sorry for the harm they have caused, especially to the Jewish community.

"Since joining the Labour Party, my opinion on many issues have changed and these historic posts reflect ignorant views that I no longer hold."

She added: "I will be undertaking further awareness training and I look forward to meeting with the Jewish communities of Birmingham to discuss what more we can do to stamp out anti-semitism in our city.

"There is no place for racism or discrimination in our society and I remain committed to serving all the people of Small Heath, who put their trust in me at the elections last year."

The messages were posted to friends from Ms Bano's previous Facebook account as far back as 2014. In one, the account replies to someone asking for views on not paying the TV licence fee and seemingly criticises Veolia, the city council-appointed waste collectors. At that time the council contractor had come under fire publicly over its waste management work in Israeli settlements in Palestine.

The future councillor's account had replied: "Even our rubbish is given to the zionist. The government is destroying our souls, we can't even get rid of rubbish without feeling guilty! Veoli (sic) is a zionist supporter! It is sickening to b in a country that u call (sic) your own; but your leader is sympathetic to the evil dogs."

In another message from 2014, Ms Bano's account replies about a Jewish Chronicle article on former Labour leader Ed Milliband. The account commented: "Brothers most of UK is run by zionist, even the site we are commenting on is run by a jew! Weather (sic) he is a zionist or not I dnt know."
British Columbia Adopts IHRA Definition of Antisemitism
The Canadian province of British Columbia adopted the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism on Wednesday.

According to the Jewish News Syndicate, British Columbia Premier John Horgan announced the news in a letter to the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA), located in Vancouver.

“To effectively combat one of the world’s oldest forms of hatred, we must first clearly identify it,” Premier Horgan wrote in a letter to Nicolas Slobinsky, an official with the CIJA. “In this light, we see the IHRA definition as an important non-legally binding educational tool to help us determine what is and what is not antisemitic, which allows us to work toward a society that is better for all British Columbians.”

In reply, Slobinsky commended Horgan and the provincial government for demonstrating “great leadership”

“As a member of Canada’s vibrant Jewish minority, CIJA is encouraged that the IHRA definition will be used by the British Columbia government,” Slobinsky said.

British Columbia is now one of over 850 governmental and non-governmental organizations, including 25 states in the US and over 200 local governing bodies in the United Kingdom, to adopt the IHRA definition of antisemitism since 2016. It is also the latest Canadian province to take the step, following Ontario, Quebec, and New Brunswick.
The long-lost Adolf Eichmann recordings shown in new documentary
In the last two years, film producer Kobi Sitt has been constantly preoccupied with the story of Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann, who was hanged in Israel on May 31, 1962, after being convicted of committing crimes against humanity. The international trial was held in Jerusalem’s Binyenei Ha’uma building and was the only time in Israel’s history that a person was sentenced to death.

While working on this documentary, The Devil’s Confession: The Lost Eichmann Tapes, Sitt made use of long-lost interview recordings that had never been heard. In the recordings, Eichmann is heard describing the war crimes he’d carried out during World War II.

The recordings were made in 1957 by Dutch Nazi journalist Willem Sassen in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where Eichmann was hiding out. These recordings are now finally being made public in the documentary he created with Yariv Mozer, which was screened last week at the recent DocAviv Festival.

“Getting a hold of these recordings was an amazing surprise,” Sitt explains. “I felt I had to find these recordings, that they had significance for the history of the Jewish people. I approached film producer Yariv Mozer, since I loved the film he made about David Ben-Gurion, and I suggested that he join me on my journey of creating a film based on the recordings and the story they tell.

“Mozer contacted Lucas Weinbir, our researcher in Berlin, who reached out to the German archive where the recordings had been located.

“Right after I told Yariv about the recordings, he turned to me and said, ‘Kobi, you don’t understand what you have here.’ But I did understand, and that is how we set out on a two-year journey during which we didn’t get much sleep. This is especially exciting, since this is the first time people all over the world will be hearing these recordings.”

According to Sitt, he and Mozer went through all 67 of the reels of recordings that have excellent sound quality, and decided which sections they would use in the documentary. This was also the first time that anyone translated the recordings into English and Hebrew in an organized fashion,” Sitt continues.
Cleveland police officer investigated for antisemitic social media posts
A Cleveland police officer who was named the department’s 2019 officer of the year and received a distinguished service medal has been identified for antisemitic posts on his social media accounts prior to his tenure as a police officer.

Sgt. Jennifer Ciaccia, senior public information officer for the Cleveland Division of Police, said June 17 that the matter was being investigated.

“The Division of Police is aware of this matter and it has been referred to the internal affairs unit for investigation,” Ciaccia wrote in an email to the Cleveland Jewish News.

The CJN reached out to Quran by Facebook and text message June 17 and did not receive an immediate response.

Antisemitic and anti-Zionist posts traced to Ismail Quran’s social media accounts were identified by Canary Mission and publicized in a June 16 news release from the organization.

James Pasch, regional director of the Anti-Defamation League in Cleveland, called the online statements "if accurate, horrific and antisemitic."

He told the CJN June 17, "If the allegations are accurate, we would expect the Cleveland Police Department to handle those allegations appropriately. And at ADL, we'll also look into the online statements."

He said the investigation to determine accuracy is the first step.

Quran, who was hired as a Cleveland police officer in 2018, posted a tweet in 2014 under the handle iSH NYC, @ish_1988, reading “F*** that Jew” July 14, 2014 and included an image of Adolf Hitler with the caption reading, “Let me salute to Hitler the Great. He said ‘I would have killed all the Jews in the world, but I kept some around to show why I killed them,’” according to Canary Mission. (h/t Max Mendelbaum)

Film Tells of Bosnian Muslims and Jews Saving One Another in Wars
In a traditional Muslim house in the old quarter of Sarajevo, a film has revived two different periods of war during which Bosnian Muslims saved Jews from Nazis and then 50 years later Jews rescued Muslims from Bosnia’s besieged capital.

Sabina Vajraca, a US-based film director who herself was a refugee from Bosnia’s 1990s war, says she wants her short film to remind the world of the goodness of ordinary people during times of conflict in Europe and the Middle East.

In May, Vajraca’s script won the Holocaust Film Contest held by the Claims Conference, the Jewish organization which secures compensation for Holocaust survivors.

“Evil keeps coming back over and over and wars keep happen over and over and the whole message of this film is that when such an event happens, will you remember your humanity and save others or will you become small and fearful and only think of yourself,” Vajraca said in an interview with Reuters.

The film “Sevap/Mitzvah” (A Good Deed) is based on the true story of Muslim woman Zejneba Hardaga and her family who hid the Jewish Kabiljo family at their home, risking their own lives, and helped them escape Nazi-occupied Sarajevo in the 1940s and then move to Israel.

The Hardagas were recognized as Righteous Among the Nations by the Israeli Holocaust museum Yad Vashem, based on testimony provided by the Kabiljo family. The honorific is awarded to non-Jews who helped Jews escape persecution in the Holocaust.

Fifty years later, during the 1992-95 siege of Sarajevo by separatist Bosnian Serb forces, the Jewish community helped the Hardagas leave Sarajevo using fake Jewish identity cards and the Kabiljo family secured them a refuge in Israel.
Star of David Ring Among Hundreds of Mobster-Owned Items Set for Auction
A trove of items owned by some of the most notorious figures in 20th century organized crime in America, some of whom were Jewish, will be up for auction in August in Beverly Hills, California, and online.

The rare historic collection of items is owned by Jay Bloom, founder of the Las Vegas Mob Experience at the Tropicana Hotel and Casino. The items will be auctioned by Julien’s Auctions on August 28 and feature hundreds of personal artifacts from some of America’s most infamous gangsters and crime family members, including Ben “Bugsy” Siegel, Meyer “The Little Man” Lansky, Tony “The Ant” Spilotro, Sam “MoMo” Giancana, Charlie “Lucky” Luciano and “Scarface” Al Capone.

Black Spartan boxing gloves belonging to Jewish Los Angeles-based crime boss Mickey Cohen are expected to be auctioned for $10,000–$20,000, while his gold and diamond Star of David ring is expected to fetch for $800–$1,200.

One item for sale that was owned by Lansky, a mob accountant and key figure in the American mobster scene, is a Medal of Freedom ($40,000–$60,000) that he was presented in a secret ceremony by President Harry S. Truman in 1945. Lansky was given the honor for his work with the Sicilian mob to provide information to the US about the location of Nazi forces during World War II, called “Operation Husky.”

Lansky’s inscribed copy of a Passover Haggadah is expected to sell for $2,000–$3,000. Also up for sale is a 1948 love letter sent by Lansky to his second wife, Thelma ‘Teddy’ Schwartz; a set of four hand-written notebooks that have been dubbed “The Lansky Diaries”; his colorful bowtie collection; and a monogrammed oak cane that was given to Lansky as a gift from Luciano. The cane, which has a gold top that has “ML” carved into it, is expected to sell for $5,000–$7,000.
Israeli gymnast, national team win gold medals at European Championships
Israeli rhythmic gymnast Daria Atamanov won a gold medal at the 2022 European Championships, held in Tel Aviv on Saturday.

Later in the day, Israel’s rhythmic gymnastics team took the gold in the group all-around category, with a total score of 69.950. The team narrowly defeated Italy’s team, which finished with 69.650. Azerbaijan came third with 65.400.

The 16-year-old Atamanov defeated her Bulgarian competitor Boryana Kaleyn to take home the all-around title, with a total score of 136.900.

The category included performances using hoops, clubs, ribbons, and balls.

“I’m in a bit of shock. It’s exciting, it’s fun,” Atamanov told reporters after the win.

Asked about reaching the podium, she said: “You don’t think about it during the competition. You just think about each exercise individually, and then when you finish everything you think about it.”

Rhythmic gymnastics is one of Israel’s stronger sports. Atamanov has won several medals in recent years, and is seen as a potential successor to Linoy Ashram, who recently retired after bringing home a gold medal from the Tokyo Olympics last year.

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