Wednesday, June 29, 2022

From Ian:

‘Selling Without Discrimination’: Unilever, Ben & Jerry’s Israel Reach Agreement to End West Bank Boycott
Unilever on Wednesday announced the divestment of its Ben & Jerry’s interests in Israel to its local licensee, allowing the ice cream maker’s products to be sold throughout Israel a year after its controversial move to end sales in eastern Jerusalem and in the West Bank.

The decision follows a months-long legal dispute between Unilever, the parent company of Ben & Jerry’s, and Avi Zinger, owner of American Quality Products Ltd. and the current licensee of the ice cream maker in Israel.

Last July, the independent Ben & Jerry’s’ board resolved not to renew a licensing deal with its Israeli partner at the end of 2022, saying it was “inconsistent” with its values to sell products in “the Occupied Palestinian Territory.”

Zinger thanked Unilever for resolving the issue and for the “strong and principled stand it has taken against the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.”

“There is no place for discrimination in the commercial sale of ice cream,” stated Zinger. “It has always been important to me to ensure that all customers — no matter their identity — are free to enjoy Ben & Jerry’s ice cream.”

According to the deal, Zinger will be Israel’s exclusive producer and distributor of Ben & Jerry’s and sell the ice cream under its Hebrew and Arabic names throughout Israel and the West Bank.

Major Victory Against BDS: Avi Zinger’s Legal Team Blocks Ben & Jerry’s Boycott of Israel
Avi Zinger, Ben & Jerry’s Israeli licensee, has settled the federal lawsuit filed on his behalf by the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law and co-counsel, following Ben & Jerry’s refusal to renew Zinger’s 34-year-old license to manufacture and sell Ben & Jerry’s ice cream.

The settlement prevents Ben & Jerry’s from boycotting Israel and ensures that Zinger will continue selling Ben & Jerry’s ice cream throughout Israel and Judea and Samaria without interruption. The settlement signals a major defeat for the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement which had pressured Ben & Jerry’s to stop all Ben & Jerry’s sales in Judea and Samaria and eastern Jerusalem.

In March, Brandeis Center client American Quality Products (AQP), Zinger’s company, sued Unilever and its subsidiary, Ben & Jerry’s, for unlawfully terminating its multi-decade business relationship to boycott Israel. The lawsuit requested the U.S. federal court deem Unilever’s termination illegal, enabling AQP to continue selling Ben & Jerry’s products throughout Israel. Today, Unilever and AQP announced an agreement that resolves the legal dispute and defeats BDS efforts to keep the premium ice cream out of Israel. Under the agreement, Zinger and AQP will continue to manufacture and sell Ben & Jerry’s ice cream products to all customers in all parts of Israel, Judea and Samaria, and Gaza. Unilever has sold its Ben & Jerry’s business interests in Israel to Zinger to enable him to continue selling the same Ben & Jerry’s ice cream consumers have been enjoying for 35 years with its Hebrew and Arabic name.

“I thank Unilever for resolving this matter and for the strong and principled stand it has taken against the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement. There is no place for discrimination in the commercial sale of ice cream. It has always been important to me to ensure that all customers – no matter their identity – are free to enjoy Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. BDS lost. I now have the right to sell Ben & Jerry’s using its Hebrew and Arabic name to all our Israeli and Arab customers throughout Israel and Judea and Samaria – forever. This is a victory for those who seek cooperation and coexistence, and a resounding defeat for discrimination. It is particularly significant for those who have stood united against BDS,” stated Zinger.

“On behalf of myself and my employees, I am grateful for the support we received from Israeli Knesset members across the political spectrum; from the Foreign Ministry under the leadership of Foreign Minister Yair Lapid; for the efforts of governors and state attorneys general from numerous states in the United States who initiated severe sanctions in response to the boycott; and for the individuals and Jewish organizations from around the world who on their own initiative spoke out against BDS and contributed to this successful resolution. Thank you also to Alyza Lewin and her team from the Brandeis Center, Marc Zell, and Nathan Lewin, who worked tirelessly to help me. It is the support we received from all corners of the globe that made this resolution possible. I am grateful to once again be able to focus on what I do best – making high-quality premium ice cream for all to enjoy,” added Zinger.

Facing Illinois blacklist, Morningstar commits to resolving anti-Israel biases
Morningstar, Inc., the Chicago-based financial services firm that came under fire earlier this month for providing analytical tools that were found to have a bias against Israel, committed to addressing concerns that the company harbors anti-Israel attitudes at an Illinois investing board meeting last week, according to two individuals present.

In last Tuesday’s meeting, the Committee on Israel Boycott Restrictions subdivision of the Illinois Investment Policy Board (IIPB) voted not to place Morningstar on the state’s “prohibited investment list,” subject to the firm’s implementing of recommendations put forth in a report published by the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) and a separate independent report commissioned by Morningstar and conducted by New York City-based law firm White & Case LLP.

The unanimous vote cleared Morningstar from penalty under an Illinois law requiring the state pension fund to divest from firms that support the Boycott Divestment Sanctions (BDS) movement targeting Israel.

The concerns raised in the two reports focus on Sustainalytics, a Morningstar subsidiary firm that rates companies based on Environmental and Social Governance (ESG) criteria, metrics that have recently become popular among investors who desire to understand companies’ social impact.

Critics assert that Sustainalytics unfairly targets Israeli companies in its ratings and that it supports the BDS movement.

The White & Case recommendations focus on transparency, internal consistency and addressing conflicts of interest. The FDD proposals go further, calling for ending Morningstar’s reliance on reporting from “anti-Israel sources” in addition to a request that Morningstar “address [the] unfair policy of punishing businesses just for operating in Israel.”

Morningstar did not acknowledge that the board vote was conditional on responding to the FDD-recommended reforms, and told Jewish Insider, “ultimately, the IIPB voted not to place Morningstar on the Prohibited Investment List.”

The Israeli Moment
If Jerusalem does strike, and the nuclear sites are destroyed, it is conceivable that the Abraham Accords could gain momentum. Saudi Arabia no longer has a position of religious pre-eminence among Sunni states; the Al-Saud no longer feed the faith as generously as they once did. The Saudi Wahhabi ulema are on a fairly tight leash; it’s by no means clear that MBS’s actions—in this case, recognizing Israel—would reverberate in Jerusalem’s favor among Sunnis. It might help; it might not matter much; it might give Iran a propaganda victory on the margins. (Tehran’s vast slaughter of Sunni Syrians has probably permanently damaged the clerical regime’s capacity to rally Muslims against Saudi Arabia and other Sunni rulers seen as too servile to the West.) The Palestinian cause has become tiring in much of the Muslim world, but it still has, depending on the country, some traction.

Antisemitism among Muslims, as the historian Bernard Lewis noted, has been a top-down affair (the elites drove its spread). If that is still the case, then having MBS and others in the Saudi royal family take a less hostile attitude toward Jews might diminish the pestilence. But antisemitism in the Middle East has been stoked relentlessly since the 1930s, first by Europeans, then pan-Arabists and Arab nationalists, and finally by fundamentalists. It’s a very hard thing to gauge, but it’s not unlikely that antisemitism there has now become systemic, in other words, a popular passion, perhaps even tied to the faith. If this is so, a softer Saudi line, assuming it doesn’t reverse if Israel proves unable or unwilling to counter Iranian pressure on the kingdom, may not matter strategically. If the Sunni Arab view of the Jewish state is transactional, then Israel’s standing revolves around Israeli actions. A first strike against the clerical regime’s nuclear ambitions is surely what will determine Jerusalem’s utility.

Like the Arab littoral states of the Persian Gulf, Israel has been an enormous beneficiary of American hegemony: It hasn’t had to think hard much beyond its immediate neighbors. Saddam Hussein, because of his love affair with weapons of mass destruction and other advanced armaments, and his willingness to subvention terrorists, got Israel’s attention. The Islamic Republic has been there lurking since 1979, trying to support whoever, on both the Shiite and Sunni sides, could kill Jews. But with both Iraq and Iran, America blocked or eliminated the worst of it.

That age is evanescing. A very small, inexpensive, but strategically important outpost of American power in eastern Syria, the At-Tanf garrison, along the highway from Iraq to the Levant, ought to be easily secured by Washington. It denies the Iranian theocracy a major roadway to the Mediterranean, making it much more difficult and costly for Tehran to supply its allies and significantly easing Israel’s concerns about medium- and long-range missiles entering Syria and Lebanon. And yet Trump wanted to close the base (he was repeatedly foiled by his own staff). If a new Iran nuclear deal happened, it’s certainly conceivable Biden might shut it down. If American servicemen started dying there, even internationalist Democrats and Republicans might not see compelling reasons for the garrison. If At-Tanf remains open in five years, it’ll be a small miracle.

In other words, the Middle East may soon be without a great Western power willing to intervene—a situation that hasn’t existed since Napoleon took his sojourn in Egypt. Israel isn’t probably at great risk if it avoids deploying its strength far beyond its borders. It is and will remain the most powerful nuclear state in the region. In its struggle against a nuclearizing Islamic Republic, if it chooses to default to MAD, Jerusalem’s strategic advantages certainly wouldn’t collapse, perhaps not even seriously degrade provided Israel is willing to risk a nuclear exchange to thwart the clerical regime on the ground. But if the United States isn’t there for the Sunni Gulf countries, and Israel chooses not to defend them, then it could get interesting quickly.

A nuclear-armed Iranian elite may become more aggressive, taking greater risks even with its (currently) limited conventional capacity. Without the U.S. Navy to guarantee Gulf security and stiffen the already wobbly Saudi spine, Iranian intervention on Bahrain—envision a Shiite “liberation” that might well be welcomed by the numerous Bahraini Shiites, who have been brutally treated by the ruling Sunni Khalifa family (and utterly ignored by the United States)—is perfectly conceivable. The Saudis driving the Iranians out is much harder to imagine. The increase in the price of oil alone could well make such an invasion attractive to Tehran.

If the Iranians go nuclear following Israeli inaction and the Gulf states, seeing the prevailing Persian winds, curtail their dealings with Jerusalem, setting in motion again Zion’s isolation, Israelis could shrug it off. Israel has long lived with such ostracism. But it would, nonetheless, be a bad turn of events. Iranian expansionism wreaks havoc wherever it gains traction, searching for ideological, credal, and ethnic fault lines. Iran’s own sharp internal divisions have unquestionably made the clerical regime sensitive to and clever about such stress. All of Israel’s Arab neighbors in Asia are riven with fractures that could easily expand. It would be a biting irony if the fears—revolutionary Persian Shiism and a retrenching America—that have finally brought many Sunni Arabs closer to the Jewish state ultimately drove Sunni Arabs closer to Iran. Wicked ironies aren’t, of course, uncommon in the Middle East.
Libyan Jew tells Pope that Jews driven from Arab countries were refugees
Libyan-born David Gerbi used an audience with Pope Francis at the Vatican to deplore the fact that Jews who had been driven out of Libyan and the Arab world had not been recognised as refugees. Report in Moked, the newsletter of the Italian-Jewish community:

“Never remain silent in the face of injustice. For the wind to change, on the contrary, it is essential to denounce, act, mobilize. Work for a different future.”

This is the message that the Sephardi Chief Rabbi of Argentina Isaac Sacca shared with Pope Francis during a private audience in the Vatican which was attended by Argentinian and Brazilian Jewish representatives. This was an occasion, in the context of an intense exchange of ideas, to present the variety of philanthropic activities in support of children’s rights and assistance to less developed countries sponsored by Rav Sacca.

David Gerbi was also part of the Jewish delegation. Gerbi, president of the ASTREL association, has in recent months promoted many initiatives dedicated to the Jews of Libya, their history and culture (most recently at the Beth El Temple in Rome ). With the Pope Gerbi addressed the failure to recognize the “refugee ” status of those who lived through the pain of exile from Libya and the rest of the Arab world. He has collected to-date several dozen testimonies of Libyan Jews on the trauma of ’67 and its aftermath.

“We are forgotten refugees, ” he wrote recently, “because we have not made enough noise. Our silence derives from the fact that we have invested the time, energy and effort to rebuild our life in an honest way and without disturbing anyone “. “But now”, he says, “it’s time to let us to be heard.”
IDF stopped hackers from hitting US power plants - Unit 8200 official
The deputy chief of IDF Unit 8200, “Col. U.,” on Wednesday said that his intelligence agency warned the United States of attempts to hack the country's power plants in time to thwart the cyberattack.

Although this was not the first time these warnings to the US have been made public, it was the first time a Unit 8200 official had discussed sensitive cyber intelligence in public.

The most well-known example was Israel’s 2017 warning to the US about Russia’s Kaspersky antivirus software being used as a way to backdoor spy on them or plant malware.

Col. U. recalled that an “adversary [Iran] attacked water facilities in Israel. We saw this attacker attempting to poison the water in an attempt to claim human lives. We mitigated that threat far ahead.

“Another adversary attacked Israel [and in the process of stopping the cyberattack,] we also found that they were attempting to target US power plants as well,” he said. “This was the first indication of this attack. It enabled preventing this threat through tight collaboration with our fantastic American partners.”

In 2020, then-energy minister Yuval Steinitz revealed an attempted cyberattack on Israel’s energy sector, which was thwarted.
Elliott Abrams: The Partisan Gap in Support for Israel Seems Permanent
That latter finding is striking: more Democrats and those who lean Democratic express a favorable view of Palestinians than of Israelis.

Other polls have found the same thing. A May 2021 Economist/YouGov poll by Kathy Frankovic found this:
[A]lthough 22% of Democrats regard protecting Israel as "very important” U.S. goal overall, fully 61% of Republicans do so. In the longstanding conflict between Israel and the Palestinians….Three in five Republicans (61%) say their sympathies lie with Israel, while Democrats are more likely to say they sympathize with both sides (35%) than support either Israel (16%) or the Palestinians (23%). Only 5% of Republicans say their sympathies lie more with the Palestinians.

A separate May 2021 poll by Quinnipiac College asked “From what you know about the situation in the Middle East, do your sympathies lie more with Israelis or more with the Palestinians?” The poll found that among Republicans, 74 percent said their sympathy lay with Israelis and only 8 percent with the Palestinians. But among Democrats, 43 percent said Palestinians and only 22 percent with Israelis.

This is a change over time, as the Washington Post reported about a February 2021 poll by Gallup:
A decade ago, by margins of about 2-to-1, Democrats said their sympathies were more with Israelis than with Palestinian Arabs. Polling in February showed Democrats now closely divided, with 42 percent saying their sympathies were with Israelis and 39 percent citing the Palestinian Arabs. That compares with a 79 percent to 11 percent split in favor of Israelis among Republicans.

In each poll the numbers differ but the conclusion is the same: Republicans are significantly more supportive than Democrats of Israel, while Democrats are now more sympathetic to Palestinians. Whether this is good or bad news depends, of course, on one’s own views of the Middle East and one’s own partisan leanings. But it is certainly a message to pro-Israel Democrats, and to the pro-Israel community, that whatever is being done to maintain—or better, to recover—Democratic support for Israel is not working.
Ex-NYC mayor Bill de Blasio says he no longer supports AIPAC
Former New York City mayor Bill de Blasio said he no longer supports the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) and would not accept the pro-Israel lobby’s endorsement, if offered, in his run for a Congress seat in the city’s newly created District 10.

The district stretches from de Blasio’s home in Park Slope to Lower Manhattan and includes a chunk of Borough Park with its large ultra-Orthodox Jewish population.

According to a report Monday in the New York Jewish Week, de Blasio said AIPAC has changed in a way he found “unacceptable,” and indicated that he was not seeking the organization’s endorsement.

The former NYC mayor made the comments during a virtual candidate forum last week on AIPAC campaign spending. Asked if he supports the organization, de Blasio said, “No, I don’t,” according to the report.

“I am not seeking their endorsement and would not accept it even if it were offered,” he added.

He cited last year’s major upset for Nina Turner, a former state senator and a leading progressive, who lost a Democratic primary in Cleveland to a candidate who was partly backed by AIPAC’s affiliated PAC and other groups.

“She’s an incredibly important progressive leader,” de Blasio said, according to the New York Jewish Week. “I thought the attack on her was not only horribly unjustified, it deprived our nation of someone who could have been a huge difference maker in terms of our progressive movement.”

NGO suggests PA worried over role in reporter's death
Israeli civil rights group Shurat Hadin has recently filed a complaint with the International Criminal Court against Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas for being criminally responsible for the death of Al-Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh.

The reporter was killed on May 11 during a clash between the Israel Defense Forces and armed Palestinians in the Jenin area, and according to the NGO Abbas's refusal to cooperate with Israel in the investigation could be because it may cast the Palestinians in a negative light.

Abu Akleh's death has led to various investigations, most of which blamed Israel, although the IDF insists that no conclusion can be made until the bullet – held by the PA – is submitted for ballistics analysis.

Israel's requests to submit the bullet have so far been rejected outright including as part a joint investigation with the United States acting as an observer.

Shurat Hadin alleged that the PA refuses to surrender the bullet because such an investigation would likely reveal that Abu Akleh was killed by Palestinian gunmen, not IDF soldiers. It stressed the involvement of the notorious Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, which is part of the Palestine Liberation Organization that Abbas leads.

The complaint also revealed that in the months preceding the tragic shooting incident, the IDF withdrew from the Jenin refugee camp at the request of Abbas, who said Palestinian security forces would assert control over the area.
Arabs Shocked That Hamas Hostage is Israeli Muslim Arab
Most of the comments online are mocking Hamas. Some address the “real” value of Hisham al-Sayed, while others criticize the poor timing of Hamas’ announcement. All in all, one can say that most Palestinians didn’t show their support for Hamas and its announcement on social media and that it even backfired on the organization.

Attached are a few translated examples of such comments I happened to stumble upon while browsing various social media platforms:
1. Turns out that all this time he was an Arab? And even a Muslim?
2. So he’s one of us? Not one of them?
3. Indumie (a popular instant noodle brand similar to ramen, which was served to Gilad Shalit) is bad for you…
4. I think it’s just Covid.
5. Poor Hisham, came to Gaza during a difficult financial situation. Gilad Shalit had BBQs and watermelons. The situation is complicated now…
6. Let’s start a social media campaign هشام لازم يتعلج – We need to make sure Hisham receives the proper medical treatment (an analogy to the Palestinian social media campaigns for sick Palestinian prisoners in Israeli prisons).
7. What happened? Did he start a hunger strike? When are there prisoner visits?
8. Hamas missed the timing of the announcement – Israel has a transitional government right now.
9. No one seems to be looking for him.
10. This is what happens when you eat too many chicken wings.
11. They made us look like fools…
12. Israelis on social media are probably making fun of Hamas’ announcement as much as we are.
13. As long as his name is Hisham a-Sayed (as in an Arabic name – Abu Ali) if we’ll manage to get a bicycle in exchange for him this will be considered an achievement.

MEMRI: Palestinian Journalist: The Arab And Muslim World Is Mired In Backwardness, Light Years Behind The World's Rapid Development
In his February 2, 2022 column in the Palestinian daily Al-Ayyam, journalist 'Abd Al-Ghani Salameh contrasted the scientific breakthroughs taking place in the world today with the situation of the Arab and Muslim world, which he said is mired in backwardness, chaos and internal strife, stemming from an obsolete thinking and hostility towards the West. If this situation persists, he said, the Arab peoples may find themselves in danger of extinction.

The following are translated excerpts from his article:[1]
"Over the last two decades, scientists have made great strides in all areas. Some [of the developments] changed our lives completely, while others brought about a smaller change, but all of them had a significant impact on the future of humanity, laying the foundations for a completely new era and a historic turning point. Just as the steam engine launched the Industrial Revolution and the discovery of electricity led to the invention of countless apparatuses, the internet launched the era of the information and media revolution.

"The achievements of this [20-year] period, a very short time in the life of humanity, are even more important than the achievements of the previous eras. Their significance lies in their potential to bring change, just like the earlier inventions and discoveries…

"The following is a summary of the most important achievements [of the last two decades]. The most significant, and also the most expensive, was the establishment of the European Organization for Nuclear Research, CERN, on the border between Switzerland and France, built through the most extensive international scientific cooperation since [the construction of] the international space station. [Housing] the world's largest particle accelerator, 27 km long, it is meant to provide a better understanding of the emergence of the cosmos by simulating the Big Bang…
PMW: PA celebrates “political victory” over EU
The European Union’s recent announcement that it will be renewing its aid to the PA means that the EU is accepting that the PA continues to reward terror and continues its antisemitic, hate-filled school curriculum, according to the Palestinian Authority Minister of Public Works and Building Muhammad Ziyara. According to the PA, this “political victory” over the EU is more important that the financial aid:
Official PA TV host: “Lately it was announced that [the EU money] will be released and that the EU will resume its funding to the Palestinian government. What is your response?”

PA Minister of Public Works and Building Muhammad Ziyara: “This [EU funding] is more of a political victory than a financial achievement. The challenge was that we would relinquish our rights, our positions, and our principles, both on the issue of our duty (i.e., reward payments) towards the families of the Martyrs and the prisoners, and also towards the Palestinian curricula and the Palestinian narrative.”

[Official PA TV, Talk of the Hour, June 16, 2022]

Upon the signing of the EU funding agreement, PA PM Muhammad Shtayyeh confirmed this message stressing that the EU funding comes “without conditions”:
“We thank the EU and its states. This agreement is important, because it was completed without conditions.”

[Facebook page of PA Prime Minister Muhammad Shtayyeh, June 22, 2022]

The official PA news agency also stressed there are “no conditions” to the funding:

Top Fatah official: “Jesus the son of Mary is Palestinian”
Fatah Central Committee member Abbas Zaki: “[Whoever] sold himself to the Zionist movement knows that Jesus the son of Mary is Palestinian.” [YouTube channel of Al-Mayadeen (Lebanon), May 28, 2022]

Abbas Zaki also serves as Fatah Commissioner for Arab and China Relations.

PA Poll: Support Drops for PLO, 2-State Solution, Rises for Armed Intifada
A June 28 public opinion poll issued by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PSR) found a “significant drop in support for Fatah and its leadership and a similar drop in support for the two-state solution and the one democratic state, accompanied by a rise in support for a return to an armed intifada and a majority support for the recent armed attacks inside Israel.” However, the same poll also found that “about two-thirds view positively ‘confidence building’ measures and the largest percentage of West Bankers is opposed to armed attacks.”

In other words, PA Arab’s opinion continues to be extremely bi-polar, and, as usual, a majority there wants peace with Israel as well as the complete annihilation of Israel.

The PSR survey results for the second quarter of 2022 show a “significant change in the domestic balance of power in favor of Hamas and its leadership, only three months after Fatah had managed to restore some of the popularity it had lost in the aftermath of the April 2021 cancellation of the legislative and presidential elections, the May 2021 war between Hamas and Israel, and the killing of the opposition figure Nizar Banat at the hands of the Palestinian security services.”

At this point, according to the PSR survey, Hamas and Fatah enjoy “almost the same level of public support, with the gap narrowing to one percentage point in favor of Hamas after it was six points in favor of Fatah in March 2022.”

The gap in popularity between the head of Fatah, Mahmoud Abbas, and the head of Hamas, Ismail Haniyeh, has now reached 22 points in favor of Haniyeh after it had been only 16 points three months ago. And more than three-quarters of the public demand Abbas’ resignation, while less than one-fifth of the public supports him.

Regarding PA-Israeli relations, the PSR survey results indicate a significant decline in support for the two-state solution, and a “significant increase––70%––in the belief that a two-state solution is no longer feasible or practical due to settlement expansion. But there’s also a significant decline in PA Arabs’ support for a one-state solution with equal rights for Jews and Arabs. Meanwhile, a clear majority supports a return to an armed uprising, inspired by the recent shootings inside Israel by Arabs who did not belong to any known terror groups. There’s a gap, however, between PA and Gaza Arabs on this point, with most Gazans supporting sporadic killings of Jews and the majority of PA Arabs opposing it.

PreOccupiedTerritory: US Envoy To Ramallah Marks End Of Pride Month With Joint Throw-Gays-Off-Roof Ceremony (satire)
The Biden administration’s senior representative to the Palestinian Authority spent this morning in the company of his official hosts observing the final workday of the thirty-day span to celebrate non-cis-normative sexualities, the local flavor of which involves binding and blindfolding a person rumored to exhibit such sexuality, taking him or her to the topmost level of a tall building, and pushing him or her over the side.

Hugh Sfulidyit, the White House envoy to Mahmoud Abbas’s government, observed the close of Pride Month in the de facto Palestinian capital by attending a throw-a-gay-man-off-the-roof ceremony, which according to local custom can occur any day of the year, but often waits for special occasions. Three accused homosexuals participated in the vertical portion of the event, as several dozen other participants cheered on the proceedings and offered physical assistance whenever the principal figures in the event appeared to lose heart. The ceremony took place before the end of June because no official or government activity occurs on Fridays under the Islamic sensibilities that govern Palestinian official affairs.

“It’s fascinating to see how international phenomena take on local flavor,” remarked a visibly-moved Sfulidyit. “Going into this job, I wouldn’t even have been able to tell you Palestinians observe Pride at all. I’ve learned so much about Palestinian culture in the three months I’ve been stationed here, and I hope to facilitate American-Palestinian relations on these lines for a long time yet.” Sfulidyit’s appointment extends to November 2023, pending a decision by the Biden diplomatic team whether to move its official delegation to the Palestinians back to Jerusalem to demonstrate a retreat from the previous administration’s acceptance of the entire city as Israel’s capital.

Israel Accuses Hezbollah of Trying to Hack UN Lebanon Peacekeepers
Israel accused the Iranian-backed Lebanese militia Hezbollah on Wednesday of conducting a cyber operation designed to disrupt a UN peacekeeping mission on the border between the countries, and threatened harsh Israeli retaliation against enemy hackers.

The allegation — to which there was no immediate response from Hezbollah or Tehran — came as Israeli-Iranian tensions soar.

In what he termed a first public disclosure of the incident, Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz said “Iranian security institutions in cooperation with Hezbollah (recently) launched a cyber operation with the aim of stealing materials about UNIFIL activities and deployment in the area, for Hezbollah’s use.”

“This is yet another direct attack by Iran and Hezbollah on Lebanese citizens and on Lebanon’s stability,” he told a cyber conference at Tel Aviv University, without elaborating.

UNIFIL said it was the first it had heard of the attacks.

“UNIFIL and the UN take cybersecurity very seriously and have robust measures in place to protect our data. We are aware of media reports of comments by the Israeli defense minister today but we have not received any direct information on the alleged incident,” its media office told Reuters.
Iran reportedly arrests an IRGC general on charges of spying for Israel
A senior general in Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corp was secretly arrested earlier this month for allegedly spying for Israel, according to a report published Wednesday by The New York Times.

Citing officials with close ties to the IRGC speaking on condition of anonymity, the report said the arrest of Brig.-Gen. Ali Nasiri marked a growing level of distrust among the country’s senior leadership partly attributed to Israel’s alleged recent operations in the country.

Nasiri served as a senior commander in the IRGC Protection of Information Unit, The New York Times reported.

His arrest came about two months after a few dozen security officials involved in Iran’s missile program were arrested for allegedly leaking classified information to Israel, the newspaper said.

Reportedly arrested sometime in early June, Nasiri’s arrest came shortly before the replacement of the IRGC’s intelligence chief Hossein Taeb.

Taeb, who held the position for more than 12 years, had been tasked with exposing Israel’s spy network in Iran, an unnamed adviser to the Iranian government and an individual affiliated with the IRGC both told the Times.
Disgraced IRGC Officer Tells NYT: Israel Seriously Undermined our Most Powerful Intelligence
Hossein Taeb, an Iranian Shia cleric who used to be head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ intelligence organization until he was removed from his position last week, on Wednesday told the NY Times that Israel has decimated his organization’s intelligence capabilities (Israel’s Spies Have Hit Iran Hard. In Tehran, Some Big Names Paid the Price.).

Speaking on the phone from Tehran to Times reporters Farnaz Fassihi and Ronen Bergman, Taeb, 59, once one of the most feared men in Iran, said “the security breaches inside Iran and the vast scope of operations by Israel have really undermined our most powerful intelligence organization. The strength of our security has always been the bedrock of the Islamic Republic and it has been damaged in the past year.”

Under Taeb’s command, the Basij force, one of the five forces of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, was very active in suppressing protest over the stolen 2009 Iranian presidential elections. The Basiji soldiers murdered dozens of protesters on the streets and in prison.

Taeb has frequently cautioned Iranians that the United States was “hiring agents and mercenaries in an effort to continue its plots for a soft overthrow of the Islamic Republic.” In 2022, Taeb and his family members were sanctioned by the US Department of States for his involvement in human rights violations in Iran.
The Biden Admin Just Made It Easier for Terrorists To Enter the United States
The Biden administration altered federal law to make it easier for individuals who have worked with designated terrorist groups to legally enter the United States.

The State and Homeland Security Departments last week amended federal immigration laws to allow foreigners who provided "insignificant material support" to designated terror groups to receive "immigration benefits or other status," according to the policy published in the Federal Register but not formally announced by the administration. Examples of individuals who would fall into the new category, according to the announcement, include individuals who provided "humanitarian assistance" or "routine commercial transactions" to terror groups.

The policy shift is fueling concerns that the Biden administration wants to make it easier for individuals who work with or for Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), the country's paramilitary fighting force that has killed hundreds of Americans, to enter the country. Notice of the change came several days before the Biden administration and hardline Iranian government resumed talks aimed at securing a revamped version of the 2015 nuclear deal.

A State Department spokesman said the law was amended to help vulnerable Afghans, who might have inadvertently worked with terror groups, gain refuge in the United States following the Biden administration's bungled withdrawal that left the Taliban in power. Lawmakers and former U.S. officials, however, say the new regulations are so broadly written that they would apply to organizations like al Qaeda and the IRGC. The policy change is also raising red flags as U.S. officials, including former secretary of state Mike Pompeo, face credible death threats from Iran.

The rule does not specifically mention Afghanistan but is written to cover all U.S.-designated foreign terrorist organizations, such as the IRGC and al Qaeda, experts told the Free Beacon. The Taliban is not designated as a foreign terrorist organization, leaving lawmakers and former U.S. officials concerned the changes extend far beyond vulnerable Afghans and cover those tied to some of the globe's most violent terror groups.
‘The Zionist Regime Will Fleece Them’: US Religious Freedom Commission Condemns Iranian ‘Blood Libel’ Cartoon
The Biden Administration’s special envoy to Iran is being urged to raise the Tehran regime’s antisemitic incitement at talks in Qatar aimed at salvaging the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran, the US and five other world powers.

In a statement posted to Twitter, the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) — a federal government entity — called on US Envoy Rob Malley to challenge his Iranian interlocutors over a coarsely antisemitic cartoon published on the website of the regime’s “Supreme Leader,” Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, last Friday.

The image shows a man’s arm connected to a series of intravenous tubes that carry blood from a bowl shaped in the Star of David. Worms are depicted swimming in the blood while the man’s arm is wrapped in a keffiyeh, a traditional Palestinian scarf.

Addressing Malley, USCIRF Commissioner Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum urged the envoy to “raise Iran’s systematic antisemitism directly with Iran’s negotiators in Doha this week.”

Kleinbaum condemned the image as a “grotesque antisemitic cartoon depicting the blood libel” — the ancient false accusation that Jews use the blood of non-Jews in their religious rituals as well as acting like “leeches” in economic and business matters.
Egypt warns Iran not to target Israelis on its soil -report
Egypt has warned Iran nto to target Israelis on its soil, reported the UK-based publication Al-Araby Al-Jadeed.

Citing Egyptian sources, the report said that Egyptian intelligence officials recently met with their Iranian counterparts and warned them that any attempt to carry out attacks against Israelis in the country would harm ties between Cairo and Tehran.

According to the source, “the Iranian side assured Egyptian officials that Iran is keen not to harm the state of peace with Egypt” and that “Israeli allegations about attempts to target Israeli tourists in third countries is a lie.”

The meetings between the Egyptians and Iranians reportedly saw officials discuss security ties and other regional issues, including the high tensions between Israel and Iran following the recent killings of senior Revolutionary Guard commanders and scientists.

According to the report, Egyptian officials said that, in the past, Cairo has “refused” to engage in any military activity or enter into any alliances directed against Iran, which it considers “futile,” but any attempt by Iran to attack Israelis in the country might lead to a policy change.

But, the source added, “Cairo, despite its current economic crisis, does not want to be a card in the hands of any Gulf party to pressure Tehran.”
Saudi Academic: Islamic World Does Not Contribute Anything Because We Cling Tightly to Our Heritage
Saudi academic Dr. Marzouq Bin Tinbak said in a May 20, 2022 show on Al-Arabiya Network (Saudi Arabia) that the Islamic world does not contribute anything to civilization and progress today because it has recoiled from and rejected modernity and because it clings too closely to its heritage. He said that in contrast, some countries have managed to simultaneously conform to the novelty of Western civilization while preserving their heritage. In addition, Dr. Bin Tinbak said that traditional Islamic thought was appropriate for past eras, but that today's modern world requires new fatwas and new ijtihad (religious reasoning).

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Elder of Ziyon - حـكـيـم صـهـيـون

This blog may be a labor of love for me, but it takes a lot of effort, time and money. For over 14 years and 30,000 articles I have been providing accurate, original news that would have remained unnoticed. I've written hundreds of scoops and sometimes my reporting ends up making a real difference. I appreciate any donations you can give to keep this blog going.


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