Monday, June 20, 2022

06/20 Links Pt1: Gantz: Israel building regional air defense alliance under US; Ruthie Blum: The Workings of the Palestinian Propaganda Machine; Israel to allow LGBT Palestinians granted temporary asylum to work

From Ian:

Gantz: Israel building regional air defense alliance under US
Israel is building a US-sponsored regional air defense alliance, the Israeli defense minister said on Monday, adding that the apparatus has already foiled attempted Iranian attacks and could be boosted by President Joe Biden's visit next month.

Drawing closer in recent years to US-aligned Arab states which share their concerns over Iran, Israel has offered them defense cooperation. They have been publicly reticent on the idea.

Unveiling what he dubbed the "Middle East Air Defense Alliance" in a briefing to Israeli lawmakers, Defense Minister Benny Gantz said such cooperation is already underway.

"Over the past year I have been leading an extensive program, together with my partners at the Pentagon and in the US administration, that will strengthen the cooperation between Israel and countries in the region," he said, according to an official transcript.

"This program is already operative and has already enabled the successful interception of Iranian attempts to attack Israel and other countries."

The transcript did not name partner countries nor give further details on the thwarted attacks. Iran, Israel's arch-foe and a regional rival of Arab powers, says any military actions it takes are defensive.

"Over the past year I have been leading an extensive program, together with my partners at the Pentagon and in the US administration, that will strengthen the cooperation between Israel and countries in the region."
Defense Minister Benny Gantz

"I hope that we will take another step forward in this aspect (of regional cooperation) during President Biden’s important visit," Gantz added.
Corruption in the Palestinian Authority
According to Fadi Elsalameen, an adjunct senior fellow at the American Security Project, "The Palestinian Authority is a burden on the Palestinian population. Almost 84% believe the PA is corrupt."

"We've spent almost $40 billion inside the Palestinian territories since 1993, and there's very little to show for that money. But we do have very wealthy politicians."

"Most of the economic sector is monopolized by politicians who are directly linked to the president."

"The majority of the Palestinian economy depends on labor in Israel....You need a permit to enter Israel to work, which is provided for free by the Israelis. But you have to pay the corrupt Palestinian official, who's now the minister of civil affairs, $500 a month to maintain your permit."
Ruthie Blum: The Workings of the Palestinian Propaganda Machine
The good news, along with the fake, is twofold. First, not everyone is buying or selling the presumption of Zionist guilt. In contrast to the reflexive hostility of their radical colleagues in Congress, a bipartisan group of 25 representatives gave Israel the benefit of the doubt in its own letter to Blinken.

“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,” stated the letter, spearheaded by New Jersey Democrat Josh Gottheimer and sent on May 4.

And second, the Internet platforms enabling the rapid dissemination of demonization also allow for swift rebuttal. The scores of talented tweeters sharing valuable information to counter the lies and offer solace to like-minded, lonely followers deserve kudos for their labors.

Actress and author Noa Tishby, Israel’s first-ever Special Envoy for Combating Anti-Semitism and Delegitimization, is a prime example. In a TikTok video that went viral within minutes of its release, the brunette bombshell gave an explosive exposé of enemy indoctrination relating to Abu Akleh.

“Here are some facts you may not know,” she begins her brief clip. “The International Federation of Journalists … conducted a report about the number of death cases of journalists in war zones between 1990 and 2020. According to the report, 2,658 journalists have been killed in that period of time. Three hundred forty were killed in Iraq, 178 in Mexico, 160 in the Philippines, 138 in Pakistan, and 116 in India. Twelve of the cases were Al Jazeera journalists. Seven of them were killed in Syria, two in Iraq, one in Yemen, one in Libya, and one case from last week.”

She goes on: “Each one of these deaths is horrific, but you can’t name the other 2,657 journalists. You can only name the one [who] was killed in clashes between Palestinian terrorists and the Israeli army. In any of the other deaths, we did not see such vitriol, hateful, horrific reactions and rhetoric as we’ve seen by the international community, social media, celebrities, and the United Nations towards Israel.”

This, she concludes, “is what we call a double standard… and it’s purely rooted in sometimes subconscious anti-Semitism, anti-Jewish racism. So, please, just think about that for a minute, as well. Okay? And rest in peace, Shireen.”

In a sphere dominated by those who jump on any excuse to delegitimize Israel, Tishby and her allies are engaged in a Sisyphean battle. She realizes that even if the IDF is ultimately exonerated in the Abu Akleh saga, the PA and its sophists won’t cease exploiting the episode until the next one comes along.

Ex-Trump Envoy David Friedman: ‘Israel Never Had a Home in the State Department’
Israel has never had a home in the U.S. State Department and diplomats dispatched there are generally “Arabists” who don’t bother to understand the Jewish state, former U.S. envoy to Israel David Friedman told Breitbart News in an exclusive interview.

“The State Department has historically not been hospitable to the state of Israel or its supporters,” Friedman said.

Israel finds itself in the State Department’s bureau of near eastern affairs, the former envoy explained, which is comprised of Middle Eastern countries that are more often than not hostile to it, adding, “Israel is only one Jewish state and it finds itself in a bureau in a state department with other countries that historically have been anti-Israel.”

U.S. diplomats serve in places like Egypt or northern Africa, or, in the old days, Damascus, and after three or four years in those countries they are transferred to Israel, he explained.

“They’re all Arabists and they come to Israel and find the environment different from what they’re used to and they don’t really take the time to understand it or appreciate it,” Friedman told Breitbart.

In his memoir, Sledgehammer: How Breaking with the Past Brought Peace to the Middle East, Friedman reveals how he was told to tone down his Jewishness by State Department officials.

He also reveals how he was at loggerheads with some of Trump’s senior appointees about pro-Israel measures, including National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster and then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who both opposed fulfilling a campaign promise to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem.

When it emerged that Friedman wanted to make a stop at the Western Wall, the holiest site in Judaism, after arriving in Israel, he was warned by his colleagues at the State Department, “Mr. Ambassador, don’t be so Jewish.”

Friedman cites one senior official as saying: “Don’t be so Jewish. You represent the United States of America. Tone down the Judaism in your work.”

A senior staffer at the State Department told then-U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman in 2017, “Don’t be so Jewish.”
Russia using Israel to distract world from Ukraine, analysts say
Russia is attempting to draw attention away from its ongoing war in Ukraine by stirring up a crisis with Israel on the international stage, Israeli analysts believe.

Moscow is set to put forth a proposal for a UN Security Council resolution condemning Israel for its recent alleged attack on Damascus International Airport, Israeli officials told the KAN News on Sunday. The strike caused serious damage to the airport and put it out of commission for days.

The draft proposal blames the attack on Israel and says that it undermines regional stability and goes against international law, according to Kan. Though the resolution is unlikely to pass, some analysts say that the move could mark a significant deterioration in Russia-Israel ties.

“There is no turning back from that,” Zvi Magen, a research fellow at the Institute for National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University, who was Israel’s ambassador to Ukraine from 1993 to 1997 and ambassador to Russia from 1998 to 1999, told The Media Line.

In addition to turning to the UNSC, the Kremlin also publicly criticized Israel last week over the strike and summoned Israel’s ambassador to Russia, Alexander Ben Zvi, for further clarifications.

“Since the start of the war [in Ukraine] there have been more and more incidents where Russia complains about Israel and takes ‘unfriendly’ steps,” Magen said. “I think the main reason is to ignite a crisis here in the Middle East by pushing Israel to respond or by kindling a commotion on the international stage. The goal is to bring the world’s attention away from Ukraine.”

Magen was referring to a series of recent public incidents in which the Kremlin has publicly criticized Israel.

Last week, Russia said that it was “deeply concerned” about an Israeli court ruling that sided with Ateret Cohanim – a group that promotes Jewish residency in east Jerusalem – over its purchase of a Jerusalem property from the Greek Orthodox Church. The organization bought three buildings from the church in a secret controversial purchase in 2004, but the church claimed the properties were acquired illegally and without its permission.
Ukraine's embassy slams Israel for not treating wounded Ukrainian troops
Treating wounded Ukrainian soldiers
The Ukrainian ambassador expressed disappointment that Israel did not meet its obligations regarding the treatment of the wounded, nor did it transfer the full supply of vests and helmets it promised. He said that disappointment led to the campaign.

Ukraine claimed that Israel has promised to fly wounded Ukrainians for treatment in the country and has refused to do so, according to N12.

The issue of treating Ukrainian soldiers in the Israeli health system has risen in recent months in discussions between the two countries.

Ukrainian Health Minister Viktor Liashko raised the issue with his Israeli counterpart Nitzan Horowitz, who did not reject the request and said the issue would be examined.

About a month ago a political source told Ynet that Israel is ready to accept wounded from Ukraine, including soldiers. No Ukrainian soldiers have come to Israel for medical treatment, however.

Violating diplomatic norms
Government officials did not appreciate the Sunday social media campaign, stating that it is a move that crosses diplomatic norms, according to which a foreign diplomatic mission does not criticize the government in the host country.

"The way this campaign was presented is unacceptable. There is a way to forward requests and it is not customary for a foreign ambassador to criticize the country where he is a guest," a political source told Ynet.

Even before the campaign, the Ukrainian Ambassador to Israel Yevgen Kornichuk lashed out at the government two weeks ago at a press conference, saying that "we are asking Israel to accept former soldiers whose limbs were amputated to fit them with prosthetics- and this request is being delayed. There is nothing more humanitarian than that."

"Although here the war is rarely covered in the media anymore - it still continues in full force and the end is not near at all. The government in Jerusalem must consider the moral aspect and decide whether it will join the right side like other democracies in the world," Korinchuk said.

"While Russia is slaughtering our citizens, Israel remains in its "comfort zone" and refrains from providing Ukraine with minimal defensive assistance," Kornichuk said, referring to Ukrainian requests from Israel for Iron Dome and Israeli weapon platforms.

"Just as residents of Israel are being shot by Hamas - we must protect our citizens - women, children and men from the shelling that is being carried out," he added.

Israel heading to elections, Knesset to disband, Lapid to become prime minister
Israel will head to its fifth election in three-and-a-half years, after Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Alternate Prime Minister Yair Lapid gave up Monday on their efforts to stabilize the coalition.

In a joint statement, Bennett and Lapid said that that they will bring a bill to dissolve the Knesset to a vote next Monday. This means that elections will likely be held in October.

Sources close to Bennett said the duo's goal was to initiate an election on their own terms and not be forced out by opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu.

According to the coalition agreement, Lapid will become caretaker prime minister until the election and until the new government comes into power.

"Once approved, the rotation will be performed in an orderly manner. Prime Minister Bennett is now talking to party leaders," the statement read.

There is still a chance that Netanyahu will succeed in forming an alternate government within the current Knesset. This would happen if members of the coalition - from New Hope and Yamina - switch sides and join Netanyahu's right-wing bloc.
Israel has stopped Iranian attacks in Turkey, suspects nabbed - Bennett
Israel and Turkey have already stopped several attempts by Iran-backed terrorists to attack Israelis, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said Monday.

“The operational efforts with the Turkish security forces have borne fruit,” he said in a press briefing. “In recent days, in a joint Israeli-Turkish effort, we thwarted a number of terrorist attempts, and numerous terrorists were arrested on Turkish ground.”
“In recent days, in a joint Israeli-Turkish effort, we thwarted a number of terrorist attempts and numerous terrorists were arrested on Turkish ground.”
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett

Bennett said Israel and Turkey were working together very closely to stop Iran’s attempt to harm Israelis and Jews. He thanked Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for his efforts.

His remarks came as the National Security Council maintained its highest-level warning against Israelis visiting Turkey, especially Istanbul, in light of attempts by Iran to kill or kidnap Israeli civilians.

“We are continuing to work together with the goal of bringing the situation in Turkey and Israeli tourism back to normal,” Bennett said. “We have to finish the counterterrorism operations.”

Israel will “continue to expose Iran’s true face,” he said, adding that there will be consequences for anyone who tries to hurt Israelis.

“The days in which [Iran] funded terrorism, equips terrorists, trains and sends them and is left unscathed are over,” Bennett said. “Now, the one sending [terrorists] pays. We will go anywhere we need to.”

Regarding Iran’s nuclear program, he said: “The central goal of [US President Joe Biden’s] visit [to Israel next month] is to lock down a clear shared plan of action... to stop Iran from becoming a nuclear power.”
Palestinian gets 23 years in prison for 2018 terror stabbing of girl in Afula
A Palestinian man was sentenced on Monday to 23 years in prison for a 2018 terror attack in which he attempted to murder an Israeli teenager.

The Nazareth District Court also ordered Nour al-Din Shinawi to pay NIS 250,000 in compensation to Shuva Malka.

Malka, then an 18-year-old from the northern city of Migdal Ha’emek, was on her way to a matriculation examination in civics when she was stabbed at a bus stop in the northern town of Afula.

She managed to reach a local coffee shop, where she collapsed and was rushed to the hospital in critical condition. She has since recovered. Shinawi was captured after a brief manhunt and police chase.

According to the charges, Shinawi, from the West Bank city of Jenin, had entered Israel in March 2018 as part of a tour and then remained in the country illegally.

He worked in construction in the northern town of Nof Hagalil and nearby communities, and at a certain point decided to carry out a stabbing attack on a religious Jew or soldier. He obtained two knives for that purpose.

Shinawi told investigators that Malka, dressed in religious garb, looked like a “settler” to him and so he decided to attack her. He approached her from behind and stabbed her nine times in her upper body. Believing he had killed her, he then fled the scene.

Prosecutors further said that when Shinawi realized he was being chased by police, he planned to stab and kill an officer with his knife. However, when he turned toward police with the knife in his hand, he was shot in the leg and arrested.
Iranian cyberattack may be behind false rocket warning sirens in Jerusalem
False rocket warning sirens that were activated across parts of both Jerusalem and Eilat on Sunday evening may have been caused by a cyberattack, the Israel National Cyber Directorate (INCD) confirmed on Monday morning.

During the evening on Sunday, rocket sirens sounded in Eilat and across several Jerusalem neighborhoods including Talpiot, Katamon and Beit Hakerem for almost an hour. The reason was said to be a system malfunction by the IDF, although the cause of it was unknown.

However, on Monday morning, Army Radio reported that the INCD suspected that a cyberattack was behind the system malfunction, which they then confirmed shortly after the initial report was published.

According to unconfirmed reports in Hebrew media, the cyberattack is thought to be of Iranian origin.

The directorate suspects that the attack was directed against the municipal siren systems rather than through the IDF Home Front Command alert system, which is how the attackers managed to activate the alarms.

The relevant authorities were instructed to take preventative measures against the threat.
IDF Outlines New Strategy to Protect Gaza Border
The IDF Southern Command outlined its strategy to secure the Gaza border in a briefing on Thursday.

The IDF estimates that a surprise Hamas attack could begin with a land incursion of special guerilla forces through attack tunnels, some of which have been dug to within dozens of feet from the new barrier wall.

Hamas itself has deployed its fighters along the barrier to prevent Gazans from leaving. Most of the Palestinians who have been apprehended by the IDF as they attempted to cross the border were transferred to Hamas in a quiet agreement on the ground.

The IDF has learned from past incidents and has implemented technology that would alert forces when an Israeli vehicle is exposed to cross-border fire.
PA demands Israel hand over rifle that may have killed journalist Abu Akleh
Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh demanded on Sunday that Israel turn over a rifle suspected to have been involved in the killing of Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh to the Palestinian Authority.

“We demand that they hand over the rifle that assassinated Shireen Abu Akleh,” Shtayyeh said at a ceremony marking 40 days to the journalist’s death under disputed circumstances in Jenin.

While both Israel and the PA are conducting separate investigations into Abu Akleh’s shooting death, ballistic analysis matching bullet and gun is likely the sole definitive way to prove whether an Israeli soldier killed Abu Akleh.

Israeli military officials have said that they have identified a gun that could have fired the shot that killed Abu Akleh, but that confirmation would require ballistic analysis to match the gun to the bullet. Ramallah has refused Israeli calls to hold a joint investigation or turn over the bullet to Israel.

“We refused a joint investigation, because those who fabricated the history of a people, stealing land and homeland, can fabricate a narrative. We do not trust them,” Shtayyeh said.
NYT probe: Abu Akleh ‘most likely’ killed by IDF, but no indication she was targeted
Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh was “most likely” killed by an Israeli soldier, the New York Times said Monday, as it reported the conclusion of its month-long investigation into the contested death of the Al Jazeera reporter.

But the NYT investigation also said there was no indication of the veteran Al Jazeera correspondent being personally targeted. A Palestinian Authority probe has said that an Israeli soldier deliberately shot Abu Akleh dead, a claim rejected by Israel as blatantly false.

Abu Akleh was shot and killed on May 11 during clashes between IDF troops and Palestinian gunmen, while she was covering an Israeli army operation in Jenin in the West Bank. The Jenin raid was one of a series of IDF West Bank operations in response to a wave of terror attacks against Israel that killed 19 people in the weeks before.

As IDF troops moved to arrest terror suspects, a fierce gun battle broke out with Palestinian gunmen and Abu Akleh was fatally hit.

The Times said it reconstructed the moments before and after the fatal incident using video gleaned from bystanders, journalists and security cameras. It also interviewed seven witnesses, obtained audio analysis from experts, and its reporters visited the location of Abu Akleh’s death on four occasions. The Times also said it took into consideration the Israeli military’s account of what happened.

In its report, the Times cited evidence that it said indicated that there were no armed Palestinians near Abu Akleh when she was shot.

According to the Times, two minutes passed between the last gunshots from the raging battle and the burst of 13 bullets that killed Abu Akleh, which can be heard in amateur video recorded by Jenin resident Sleem Awad. The sound of the shots were also picked up by Abu Akleh’s cameraman.

The IDF has said that if a soldier had mistakenly shot her, it was the unintended result of trying to hit a Palestinian gunman nearby.

“The Times found no evidence that the person who fired recognized Ms. Abu Akleh and targeted her personally,” according to the report. “The Times was unable to determine whether the shooter saw that she and her colleagues were wearing protective vests emblazoned with the word Press.”
Indy journo reveals his bias in report on Abu Akleh evidence
An article in the Independent by their international correspondent Borzou Daragahi (“Made in America, fired in the West Bank: The bullet that killed Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh”, June 18) avoids even the pretense of objectivity in reporting on claims by the Qatari government mouthpiece Al Jazeera:
Al Jazeera is airing an image of what it describes as the American-made bullet that killed its longtime Palestinian reporter Shireen Abu Akleh in the occupied West Bank last month.

The pan-Arab broadcaster said the bullet was a 5.56mm round shot by an M4 rifle often used by Israeli armed forces. The bullet was “designed and manufactured” in the United States, Al Jazeera reported.

It cited a former Jordanian major general, Fayez al-Dwairi, as claiming it was the type of munition “used by the Israeli army”.

However, the Indy journalist curiously omits the fact that, as Associated Press reported in a story about the same Al Jazeera story, “the Israeli military says Palestinian militants use the same ammunition”.
MSNBC’s Ayman Mohyeldin Hides the Facts
During Ayman Mohyeldin Reports on Sunday, June 19, host Mohyeldin covered Al Jazeera’s “analysis” of an image of the alleged bullet that killed the journalist Shireen Abu Akleh.

Citing unnamed “ballistic and forensic experts who spoke to Al Jazeera,” Mohyeldin states, “The bullet is the same caliber used by Israeli forces,” and that “it came from an M4 rifle.”

Palestinian terrorist organizations also possess M4 rifles and use the same caliber bullets. As pointed out by Joe Truzman, a research analyst at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies think tank, just last month the Israeli Defense Forces foiled an attempt to smuggle the same caliber bullet into the West Bank.

By omitting that the same caliber bullet is used by Palestinian groups, Mohyeldin creates a false impression that the evidence points conclusively to the bullet having been fired by Israeli forces. In fact, the evidence cited adds no new clarity as to who may have fired the bullet.

Mohyeldin also directly inserts his partisanship into his report, arguing that the Palestinian Authority has refused to engage in a joint investigation with Israel “for understandable reasons.”

This statement is rather curious when viewed alongside the fact that the Palestinian Authority’s own “investigation” claimed the bullet that killed Abu Akleh was fired by a Ruger Mini-14 semiautomatic rifle, not an M4 rifle as Mohyeldin suggests, citing Al Jazeera.

Israel to allow LGBT Palestinians granted temporary asylum to work
LGBT Palestinians fleeing persecution in the West Bank will be allowed to work in the country, ending years being allowed to reside in Israel but little else, the Israeli government told the High Court on Sunday night.

The restrictions placed LGBT Palestinians in a highly precarious situation, driving many to work illegally under exploitative conditions or to prostitution.

“They had no access to work, to health care, to welfare services. And so what we’d see over time is that their situation would deteriorate. These are people who already arrive here traumatized, after being attacked and persecuted,” said Naama Sabato, a social worker at the Agudah rights group.

The change in policy followed a joint petition by several rights groups, including Physicians for Human Rights – Israel, the HIAS refugee rights nonprofit, and the Agudah.

Although LGBT Palestinians have become more outspoken in recent years, gay rights remain controversial in conservative, religious Palestinian society. Palestinians who come out can face societal rejection or abuse — or, in the worst case, life-threatening danger.

A gay West Bank Palestinian who testified before the Knesset on Tuesday described how his family had tried to kill him after they learned of his sexual orientation.

“I just want to live a normal life, but I can’t do that without healthcare, a bank account or an official identity card,” said the Palestinian, who requested anonymity.

Scholar who equated Palestinians to Europeans triggers backlash
A Kuwaiti scholar created a firestorm on Arab social media after claiming that Palestinians can be compared to Europeans.

Speaking with Al-Qabas, Dr Abdullah Al Nafisi said the Palestinians are "modern" and "know how to live", saying there are similar to Europeans.

"The Palestinian people are a European and civilized people. They do not have [tribal] loyalties, and you cannot laugh at them like the Bedouin of the Arabian Peninsula," he said.

Al-Nafisi has long been a critic of the normalization process with Israel, which in 2020 saw four Arab countries (including some founded by Bedouin tribes) sign peace deals with Israel, and is considered a Hamas sympathizer.

His most recent comments led to a torrent of comments on social media in Gulf countries, with many calling to strip him of his academic titles and citizenship. Many added that being Bedouin is a badge of honor for Gulf states and should not be considered a humiliation.
PMW: There is no Israeli organ theft - top PA forensic medicine official refutes PA libel
A top PA official in forensic medicine recently refuted the PA libel that Israel steals organs from dead terrorist prisoners and dead terrorists – so-called “Martyrs”:
Official PA TV host: “Our guest is Dr. Ashraf Al-Qadi, Acting Director-General of the [PA] Ministry of Justice’s Forensic Medicine Administration… One of the known doctors in Israel revealed that organs are being stolen from the Martyrs held in refrigerators in Israel (sic.).”

Acting Director-General of the PA Ministry of Justice’s Forensic Medicine Administration Dr. Ashraf Al-Qadi: “Of course, all the Martyrs we have checked and seen, none of them had any theft of their organs. I don’t know about the Martyrs from before, whom we did not check as a Palestinian side or authority.”

Text on screen: “Growing pain in the hearts of the Martyrs’ relatives – and bodies held in the occupation’s [morgue] refrigerators whose fate is unknown”
[Official PA TV, Good Morning Jerusalem, March 11, 2022]

Despite the explicit refutation by this PA official, the PA’s libel is thriving. Earlier this month, Spokesman of the Fatah Commission of Prisoners’ Affairs Nashat Al-Wahidi repeated the false claim that Israeli organ traders and staff at medical faculties “steal organs” from dead prisoners:
Spokesman of the Fatah Commission of Prisoners’ Affairs Nashat Al-Wahidi: “The bodies [of dead prisoners] are kept under very humiliating conditions for the bodies, whether it be the Israeli market traders stealing organs from these bodies [or] the Israeli medical faculties stealing these bodies.”

Official PA TV host: “Right.”
[Official PA TV, The Supreme Authority, June 6, 2022]

Asking for Too Much: Will Hezbollah Prevent a Reasonable Compromise in the Lebanon-Israel Maritime Dispute?
Hochstein’s willingness to return to Lebanon – despite Hezbollah’s openly anti-Semitic taunt that the country’s fate will not be in the hands of Hochstein “or any other Stein” – may indicate that he hopes to find a more receptive ear following the results of the election in May, which weakened Hezbollah and its allies.

The election demonstrated how the economy is now the main issue on the minds of many Lebanese.

Once again, however, the fisherman’s wife is at work: Hezbollah leader Hasan Nasrallah saw fit to insinuate that Lebanon (i.e., Hezbollah) has the means to prevent Energean, whose Israeli offshoot wholly owns the Karish and Tanin fields, from operating the Singapore-built Floating Production Storage and Offloading ship which has recently passed through the Suez Canal.

A careful reading of Nasrallah’s words indicates that he is not unaware of the hopes in Lebanon that energy extraction may help save the country from financial collapse.

Therefore, he leaves open the prospect of using violence “only” if the negotiations – which will take place – fail to produce a satisfactory result. But the rhetoric that absurdly refers to the Karish-Tanin area as a Lebanese claim is bound to narrow the government’s options for a workable compromise at the negotiating table.

It should be made clear to the Lebanese leadership and people that such tactics will only consign their already bankrupt country to further misery. Israel’s willingness to compromise has been demonstrated, and rightly so.

It makes sense to offer Lebanon a real and workable stake in developing their gas fields. Israel has no interest in Lebanese economic collapse. Yet there is a limit beyond which no Israeli government can retreat in the face of ever more arrogant demands.

Choosing conflict will not deter the corporations which already have an established presence in Israel. It will, however, frighten away all who may still consider the prospect of investing in Lebanon’s gas fields. The voices of those in Lebanon who understand this need to prevail if the country is to have a chance of climbing out of the abyss.

Tehran relinquishes demand IRGC be removed from US terror blacklist
Tehran has announced its willingness to relinquish its demand the Revolutionary Guards be removed from Washington's terrorism blacklist. This is according to a report by the Qatar-aligned Middle East Eye news site that quoted a source from the Islamic Republic.

The Revolutionary Guards' removal from the blacklist was one of the most contentious issues to recently arise in indirect talks between the US and Iran to restore the nuclear deal.

The source told the London-based site that in return, Iran was demanding the US rescind sanctions on the Revolutionary Guards' economic arm, Khatam-al Anbiya Central Headquarters. Washington has yet to issue an official statement on the report and did not respond to a request for comment from Middle East Eye.

Within the framework of the Iranian proposal, messages were also relayed on confidence-building measures in the form of additional potential concessions on the part of Iran, according to a report by Channel 12 News.

Iran is weighing an American request for Tehran to issue a public statement saying it would refrain from targeting senior US officials. According to the report, the move would come as a confidence-building measure.

One anonymous Iranian expert told Western media outlets such a move would be a major concession on the part of the country's President Ebrahim Raisi, who has publicly declared his intention of striking those responsible for the assassination of the former Quds Force commander Qassem Soleimani. "To publicly declare an avoidance of harming US officials past and present is a very difficult step for Raisi's conservative government."

Despite the waning prospects of reviving the Iranian nuclear deal, a United States official told Saudi media on Sunday that there was still potential to bring Washington and Tehran back into full compliance with the agreement.
Iran's housing costs give insight to regime's internal fights - analysis
Rental prices in Iran have risen dramatically in recent years, Iran’s pro-regime Tasnim News Agency recently reported.

According to recent statistics published by the deputy minister of housing and construction, rental costs in Tehran have increased by about 880% since 1990 until this May, Tasnim’s economic correspondent wrote. Even though successive Iranian governments attempted to institute price controls, apparently this hasn’t worked.

The article by Tasnim likely reveals just the tip of the iceberg in terms of how bad things have gotten. Iran is suffering from inflation and a variety of economic problems, as are other countries. The economy has been harmed by the pandemic and supply-chain problems. Sanctions that are in place and the mismanaged economy mean the Islamic Republic is already vulnerable.

Tehran also wastes money on military programs, leaving the people to suffer and resulting in many protests. The recent collapse of a building in Abadan also led to mass protests.

The article seeks to blame the previous Iranian government for the problems. This is how state media can critique the government without critiquing the government – by pretending to blame “previous” administrations. But the evidence is clear. Rents increased 50% last winter in general and 51% in Tehran, while many cities also saw double-digit increases, the report said.
Iranian engineer's death at military site attributed to 'industrial sabotage'
The death of an Iranian Defense Ministry engineer in May 2021 was the result of "industrial sabotage" at a military site in Parchin near the capital Tehran, an Iranian Revolutionary Guards commander was quoted on Monday as saying.

In his comments to the semi-official Entekhab news agency, the commander, Hassani Ahangar, did not say who was believed to be behind the sabotage.

"The martyr from the Ministry of Defense was himself not the target but was affected by an act of industrial sabotage. We must prevent such threats with artificial intelligence methods," Ahangar was quoted by the agency as saying.

"Engineer Ehsan Ghadbeigi was martyred and one of his colleagues was injured in an accident that took place in one of the Ministry of Defence's research units at the Parchin area on May 25 (2021)," Entekhab added.

Parchin is a sensitive military site housing several industrial and research units, where Western security services believe Iran carried out tests related to nuclear bomb detonations more than a decade ago.

Iran denies Western accusations that it is trying to build an atomic bomb and says its nuclear program is solely for peaceful purposes.
Oberlin's Iranian Prof Boasted of His Utility to Tehran
When students return to Oberlin College in Ohio in early September, some of them will be taking classes from religion professor Mohammad Jafar Mahallati, who has been accused of helping to cover up a mass-murder while serving as a diplomat for the Islamic Republic of Iran in the late 1980s.

Oberlin administrators have accepted Mahallati's denials, but they now have more to consider than his guilt or innocence in the alleged coverup. In light of his ties to the Islamic Republic of Iran, they have good reason to question his real agenda at Oberlin. Is he using his position at the school to promote peace and friendship and an honest understanding of Islam, or is he a shill for the Iranian regime?

One piece of evidence Oberlin administrators will have to consider in their assessment of Mahallati's career is a letter he sent to the Iranian parliament in 2018 defending himself against charges of disloyalty leveled at him by hardliners in the Iranian regime. In a letter obtained by FWI, Mahallati emphasized his loyalty and utility to the Islamic Republic of Iran. Writing in Persian to the Iranian parliament, Mahallati told a very different story from the one he tells in English to the Oberlin community, portraying himself as a peacemaker.

Mahallati penned the letter in response to the Iranian parliament listing him as a dual national who posed a national security threat. To lend credence to this accusation, his critics reported that he had been arrested by the regime in the late 1980's upon his return after his term as a diplomat at the United Nations had ended.

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