Wednesday, August 03, 2022

From Ian:

Khaled Abu Toameh: Palestinians Commit Suicide as Their Leaders Live in Hotels and Villas
Many residents of the Gaza Strip undoubtedly regret the day they voted for Hamas in the 2006 Palestinian parliamentary election.

The last protest, which took place in 2017 under the slogan "We Want to Live!", was brutally crushed by Hamas's security forces and armed militias.

"In all countries of the world, you pay taxes for the services that the state provides you, except for us. In return, there are no hospitals, no education, no electricity, no water, no public utilities, not even rodent control." — Khalil Talmas, Gaza Strip resident, Facebook, July 27, 2022.

"'We Want to Live!'... is a cry of pain from the depths of a crushed and exhausted Palestinian people. It is a cry against taxes, extortion, repression and corruption." — Anas Al-Jazzar, Twitter, July 28, 2022.

Other Palestinians said that the current protest was directed not only against Hamas, but also against the Palestinian Authority government in the West Bank....

These Palestinians pointed out the corrupt leaders of Hamas and the Palestinian Authority and their family members are leading comfortable lives in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and in five-star hotels and big villas in Qatar and Turkey, while most people were living in poverty and unemployment and misery.
U.N. body determines Palestinian Authority condones torture and ill-treatment against civilians
Last week, the United Nations Committee against Torture (CAT) — a subsidiary of the U.N. Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) — convened in Geneva to investigate, for the first time, instances of torture and ill-treatment carried out or condoned by the Palestinian Authority (PA).

After the completion of the hearings, CAT released its findings on Friday in a 15-page set of concluding observations, in which the committee determined that the PA is liable for the torture and ill-treatment of Palestinian civilians, and set forth recommendations as to how the PA can better ensure their well-being.

The committee’s recommendations include: categorizing torture — which is currently considered a misdemeanor — as a felony; banning unlawful and torturous detentions; and creating a domestic commission to investigate any allegations of torture and ill-treatment. CAT also recommended the PA implement policies to democratize the Palestinian system of government, including safeguarding free speech.

In preparation for the hearings, CAT, which holds broad powers to probe incidents of torture and cruel treatment, reviewed a report submitted by the PA, as well as alternative reports submitted by a dozen American, Palestinian and Israeli NGOs, including Human Rights Watch, the Palestinian Coalition Against Torture, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s Clinic on International Human Rights and others.

Felice Gaer, former vice-chair of CAT and director of the American Jewish Committee’s Jacob Blaustein Center for the Advancement of Human Rights, told Jewish Insider, “One of the most important things a review can do is to raise cases because it clarifies government policy, and also causes the state to pay special attention to those cases thereafter.”

David May, a research analyst at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, suggested to Jewish Insider that the PA has used the international body as a way to put more pressure on Israel. “When the Palestinians joined all the various [human rights] bodies […] starting in 2014, the goal was twofold,” he said. “One, to establish themselves as a state to try to gain international recognition without having the instruments of statehood — so, to essentially be granted statehood by the U.N., even though it doesn’t really exist on the ground — and the second part was to put the screws on Israel.”

Col. Kemp: The killing of al-Zawahiri is a triumph of US intelligence but a failure of Biden's foreign policy
Zawahri’s presence in Kabul is a clear indicator that there are other senior terrorists there and we know there are many lower level, but also highly dangerous, Al Qaeda operatives in the country. We should be doing all we can to eliminate them, before they get to the stage of launching attacks against the West, which remains Al Qaeda’s goal. The overwhelming majority, or perhaps all, of these terrorists will not have the priority that was afforded to Zawahiri.

Nor can remote tools like electronic surveillance and drones fill every gap in the extensive capability that was removed when the withdrawal was completed. Opportunities for human intelligence collection and special forces operations, which will sometimes be the only way to identify and strike some targets, have now been severely curtailed.

There is also the question of Biden’s tolerance levels for airstrikes against terrorists. During the decision-making process on taking out Zawahiri, he was reportedly concerned about how the strike might affect US relations with the Taliban. How likely is he to authorise further operations against lesser figures whose names are unknown to the US electorate but still represent a real threat? Let us not forget that he blasted President Trump for authorising the killing of Iranian terrorist supremo Qasem Soleimani, casting it as a ‘dangerous escalation’.

The operation against Zawahiri has reminded us how much danger we face from the Taliban since the West’s withdrawal. Even those who didn’t recognise it before can now see clearly that this is not just a regime committed to brutalising the Afghan population, but prepared to shelter threats to our populations too. As they continue to cooperate with Al Qaeda they will also be willing to cooperate with other jihadist groups who want to attack the West, including the Islamic State, despite their current differences. The fact that this killing even took place shows the folly of the idea that the US could detach itself from the region.

Noah Rothman: Zawahiri Death Reveals the New al-Qaeda State
It is tempting to believe that the Biden administration was playing a cynical game when its members claimed that the Taliban would somehow serve as our partners in peace. A more terrifying prospect may be that the Biden White House genuinely (and naïvely) believed they would.

The revelation that America still maintains the capability to strike terrorist elements inside Afghanistan is heartening. We’re going to need it. “The reconstruction of al-Qaeda’s homeland attack capability will happen quickly, in less than a year, if the U.S. does not collect the intelligence and take the military action to prevent it,” former CIA Director Mike Morell warned last year. The Taliban is “going to continue to support al-Qaeda,” his predecessor, Leon Panetta, agreed. It won’t be long before “they will plan additional attacks on our country, as well as elsewhere.”

The neutralization of Osama bin Laden’s aging successor will do little to disrupt al-Qaeda’s decentralized structure. What’s more, Zawahiri’s presence in the heart of Taliban-led Afghanistan confirms—if any confirmation was needed—that the Taliban is the organization’s willing partner. We have no reason to believe the terror group has given up its goal of executing spectacular attacks inside the West, and it now has a new base of operations from which to once again project power abroad.

Americans should celebrate the righteous retribution delivered to al-Qaeda’s leader. The planning and tactical acumen that went into this operation are reassuring. But it is also confirmation that al-Qaeda has a state again, and America’s mission in Afghanistan is far from over.
What Zawahiri’s Death Means for al-Qaeda and Its Branches
Although Syria did not work out well for Zawahiri, all of AQ’s branches outside that theater remained loyal to him and the AQ cause even amid the spread of IS. To be sure, some of these branches—such as al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent—have faced severe challenges. Yet other branches—particularly in Somalia (al-Shabab) and Mali (Jamaat Nusrat al-Islam wal-Muslimin, or JNIM)—have major upside today and continue to lodge victories against local governments.

Regarding who will succeed Zawahiri, the UN’s most recent report on AQ noted that the leaders of al-Shabab and JNIM were potentially in line to take his place if he were to die. Yet moving AQ’s global leadership from its historical roots in the AfPak region to Africa would be unprecedented. Other potential candidates include two old guard AQ members: Saif al-Adel and Abd al-Rahman al-Maghrebi, Zawahiri’s son-in-law. Both of them are currently based in Iran, however, so naming either as the next AQ emir could create internal legitimacy issues.

Another possibility is promoting a young, charismatic, but relatively unknown leader with whom potential recruits could connect in a way Zawahiri never did. AQ continues to compete with IS for followers and recruits, so finding a dynamic new leader will likely be a priority.

At the end of the day, however, Zawahiri’s death is unlikely to have a significant impact on the operational capabilities of AQ or its branches. He was not believed to be running the organization’s daily affairs, only broad strategic decisionmaking. In many ways, AQ figures in the AfPak region have not “moved” the movement for a while. In the past decade, much of AQ’s relevance has been based on the fortunes of branches abroad, first in Yemen and Syria, and later in Somalia and Mali. Thus, regardless of who is chosen as the next leader, the movement’s future will be determined by battles far from the streets of Kabul where Zawahiri was killed. Questions will surely be asked about the stability of AQ’s core until a successor is named, but in the meantime the network’s most potent arms will keep threatening and destabilizing wide swaths of Africa.

As for Zawahiri’s leadership legacy, one cannot escape the fact that AQ has been steadily devolving from the unipolar leader of the global jihadist movement since he took over. Despite the major threat posed by certain affiliates abroad, AQ lost its two strongest branches in the heart of the Arab world under his watch—IS and HTS—and is now weaker on the world stage.
Does Biden’s Israel Visit Signal New U.S. Resolve in the Middle East
Lapid Helped the Palestinians Evade Responsibility
The Palestinian issue was pushed to the sidelines of the visit, partly due to Biden’s understanding that there is no chance of promoting a peace process under the current conditions. The shooting of rockets from Gaza at Israel right after Biden left Israel was obviously an expression of Palestinian frustration (and a challenge to the Palestinian Authority). But precisely because of this, the image of the Palestinians as the eternal victims, unable to achieve their strategic demands, has sharpened.

The Israeli gestures towards the Palestinians were intended to appease both Mahmoud Abbas and Biden. The promises of American aid were made without any quid-pro-quo on the part of the Palestinians. Israel is taking security risks by allowing Palestinian construction in sensitive areas and making 4G technology available to Palestinian cellular communications to please the U.S. administration. In turn, these steps may give the Palestinian side the feeling that their continued resistance and intransigence are paying off. Their evidence: the Israelis and the Americans tolerate the heinous Palestinian practice of paying salaries to terrorists and perpetuate the refugee problem through the continued aid to UNRWA, even though the organization continues to incite Palestinian youth against Israel through its school curricula.

“Two States” Versus “Two States for Two Peoples”
Once again, the Palestinians’ role in perpetuating the conflict and the struggle against Zionism are being ignored. Lapid missed an opportunity to stress Palestinian responsibility for the impasse when he was asked at the joint press conference about his position on the two-state solution. Instead of clarifying the difference between “two states” and “two states for two peoples” (one of which is the Jewish people) and emphasizing the security needs of the State of Israel, Lapid satisfied himself with a short answer in which he expressed support in principle to the two states solution. Biden, on the other hand, in the statement after meeting with Mahmoud Abbas, used the term “two states for two peoples” and insisted that both have deep roots in this country. (Other elements of the formula presented by Biden are problematic for Israel.)

In conclusion, the possibility of positive change is developing in the regional context. However, suppose it is delayed or does not materialize due to the obstacles Biden faces regionally and domestically. In that case, chances will increase that factors (such as Iran) challenging the current regional order and the position of the United States will try to promote the order they want, thus exacerbating the risks to Israel and regional stability.
'Realists' were wrong on Russia and they are wrong on Palestine - opinion
Foreign policy realists have recently found a new panacea to the world’s problems, let aggressive and autocratic nations win. This idea was well encapsulated in a tweet by Harvard Professor Steven Pinker, when he suggested: “A bold idea: NATO offers to withdraw nukes from Europe (militarily useless, ineffective deterrents as we’ve just seen and recklessly dangerous) in return for ending the invasion. Putin gets a win, which costs us nothing worth having.”

A more sophisticated version was enunciated by French President Emmanuel Macron a few weeks ago when he declared: “We must not humiliate Russia.” The bottom line to this vacuous strategy is to ensure that the more bellicose a nation is the more it must be appeased with something akin to a victory.

It is precisely this line of thinking that has surrounded the endless Western concessions to Iran during the lead-up to the signing of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, otherwise known as the Iran nuclear deal, signed in 2015. Nevertheless, this line of thinking rarely seems to extend to Israel’s conflict with the Palestinians.

Despite Israel agreeing to continually cede land and assets, the rapacious hunger of the Palestinians egged on by many in the West for more is rarely satiated. The very same realists have never said that Israel must be allowed to win or not be humiliated. On the contrary, Israel is constantly and consistently held back by voices in the West who prevent Palestinian violent rejectionism from being defeated.
The State Department Elite Don’t Understand the Middle East
According to the late professor John Kenneth Galbraith, “the notion of conventional wisdom … is commonly understood as knowledge that is accepted within a certain community or among the general public. … [They] tend to hold on to opinions and ideas that fit with their established worldviews. Accordingly, conventional wisdom provides an obstacle for the acceptance of new knowledge or novel and original thinking.”

He goes on, saying, “[t]o its adherents, conventional wisdom provides comfortable padding against inconvenient truths and the complexities of reality. … The enemy of conventional wisdom is not ideas but the march of events [evidence] … The fatal blow to conventional wisdom comes when conventional ideas fail signally to deal with some contingency to which obsolescence has made them palpably inapplicable.… The concept of conventional wisdom accentuated the difference between established truths – fundamentally out-of-touch with contemporary challenges — and new knowledge…”

Yale University’s Harlan Krumholz adds: “In science, what seems obvious may not be true, and what is accepted as conventional wisdom, may sometimes be based on flawed assumptions.”

The US State Department’s policy-making has been at odds with Middle East reality (evidence), elevating conventional wisdom over the inconvenient truths.

For example, Foggy Bottom’s conventional wisdom has assumed that some actors in the Arab/Muslim Middle East (e.g., Iran’s ayatollahs) could be induced into peaceful coexistence and the abandonment of a deeply-rooted religious-ideological vision by substantial economic benefits, despite the Middle East’s 1,400-year-old track record.

Contrary to the State Department’s conventional wisdom, Middle East terrorism has not been driven by despair and frustration, but has been driven — since the 7th century – by historic, religious, and fanatic visions.

Contrary to the State Department’s approach, the Middle East considers a posture of deterrence and the military option — not the diplomatic option — as the key factor of responsible national security policy. Moreover, the Middle East does not tolerate — and severely punishes — hesitancy, concessions, retreats, and appeasement, which it perceives as weakness.
Trump wanted to scrap peace plan unless Abbas approved - Kushner
Former US president Donald Trump nearly shelved his peace plan for Israel and the Palestinians at the last minute because the latter did not support it, contrary to what was presented as the plan’s unique logic, former White House senior advisor Jared Kushner wrote in a book set to be published later this month.

Kushner and then-ambassador to Israel David Friedman walked Trump through the parts of the plan and their expected reactions to it for over an hour. Kushner pointed out that the plan has the support of Netanyahu and now-Defense Minister Benny Gantz, his rival, though they were running in a contentious election.

Trump asked if the Israelis and the Palestinians agreed to the plan, and Kushner said no.

“I have a lot of issues going on right now,” Trump said, according to Kushner. “And this is not my top priority. I don’t want to do anything if Abbas says no. Set up a call with him. I’ll be able to tell by his tone if there’s a chance. Otherwise, let’s wait to release the plan at a later date and not waste our time.”

Trump only wanted to proceed with Abbas’s approval even though Kushner explained that the logic of the deal was “heads you win, tails they lose,” as he called it, in that, if the Palestinians agreed, that would be “a huge win,” but in the much more likely scenario that they did not, “the Arab world will see that the Palestinians are unwilling to even come to the table to consider a plan with real compromises, including a path to a Palestinian state, and they will likely be more open to normalizing relations with Israel.”
Jpost Editorial: Could the Abraham Accords indicate a new start for Jordan and Israel?
No longer enemies
However, to a large extent, Jordanian citizens haven’t internalized the fact that they are no longer enemies of Israel. When Israeli prime ministers or foreign ministers visit King Abdullah, Jordan keeps the meetings shrouded in as low-profile a manner as possible.

That’s what makes last week’s visit by Prime Minister Yair Lapid to Amman to meet with the monarch and this week’s cabinet announcement of developing Jordan Gate, a shared industrial zone with Jordan, so significant.

The idea of a joint industrial zone was first raised in peace talks between Israel and Jordan. The plan includes an already constructed bridge between the Jordanian and Israeli sides of the park. The government plans to establish medium-term and long-term plans for attracting business to the industrial zone, which is near Kibbutz Tirat Tzvi.

“Twenty-eight years after making peace with Jordan, we are taking our good neighborly relations another step forward. This is a breakthrough that will greatly contribute to developing and strengthening the area,” said Lapid.

He continued, “This is an initiative that will bring employment to both countries, will advance our diplomatic and economic relations and will deepen the peace and friendship between the two countries. It will allow Israeli and Jordanian entrepreneurs and businesspeople to communicate directly. It will create shared initiatives for trade, technology and local industry.”

Regional Cooperation Minister Esawi Frej added the kicker, a lesson learned from the Abraham Accords: “We are now taking a step toward peace between citizens, not just between the countries, but between the nations. Peace between us is incomplete without economic and civil cooperation that allows the citizens of the countries to enjoy its fruit,” he said.

In order for Jordan to slowly drag its peace agreement out of the shadows and into the open, it needs to show some benefits to its people. The park is a small but significant step toward that aim. Perhaps that’s why when Abdullah met with Lapid last week, it was an official visit with photographs allowed, instead of the usual clandestine summits that have taken place in the past.

Alan M. Dershowitz: Is the Jewish Democratic Council Really Jewish - or Just Democrats?
This organization -- the Jewish Democratic Council -- is misnamed. It recruits members and solicits money based on false advertising. It promotes itself as comprised of pro-Israel Jews. But the reality is that its leadership consists mainly of progressive Democrats who just happen to be Jewish. For them Israel, Iran and anti-Semitism are peripheral issues.

That is increasingly true of many Democratic Jewish voters who prioritize other concerns over Israel, over the growing threat of anti-Semitism from the hard left and hard right, and over other issues that directly affect the Jewish people.

[T]hey obviously do not want to hear the perspective of this Jewish Democrat, because the organization is more united behind social policy issues -- abortion, gun control, the environment and the Supreme Court -- than they are about Israel. I was told by two people who attended the event that the word "Israel" was never even mentioned....

I shake my head in frustration at why so many left-wing Jewish Democrats are willing to abandon Israel and continue to vote blindly for their grandparents' Democratic Party without demanding that it marginalize its anti-Israel extremists.

We have no loyalty to the current Democrat Party, just as many of its most prominent officials seem to have no loyalty to so many of their Jewish supporters. We certainly should have no loyalty to organizations such as the Jewish Democratic Council that hides its true priorities behind the misleading label "Jewish." There is nothing Jewish about their agenda, which is to elect Democrats regardless of their views on issues of direct concern to the Jewish community and Israel.
Poll: Over a quarter of Democrats feel Biden administration too supportive of Israel
New US polling has found over a quarter of Democrats feel the party’s policies are overly supportive of Israel.

The University of Maryland Critical Issues Poll asked respondents a range of questions covering topics such as US policy on Israel and the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

The poll found that 57 percent of respondents did not know the position of the US administration on Israel. Of those who did express an opinion, 26% of Democrats felt that government policy was more skewed towards Israel than their own views, only 3% felt the policy was overly favorable toward Palestinians, and 15% said policies matched their views.

Meanwhile, 44% of Republicans felt the Biden administration leaned more toward Palestinians than their own views, while 9% felt it leaned more toward Israel.

The poll also sought to gauge attitudes relating to the controversial BDS movement. Respondents were asked whether they had a view on BDS, and if so, what was it.

Thirty-four percent of all respondents said they didn’t know what BDS was, while 18% said they were neither for nor against the movement. Of those with a clear opinion, 20% were supportive and 28% were opposed.
AIPAC-backed Stevens ousts Levin in race seen as bellwether on US-Israel politics
A Jewish political dynasty’s four-decade run in Congress has come to an end after Rep. Andy Levin conceded to Rep. Haley Stevens in Michigan’s 11th congressional district Tuesday.

Stevens’ decisive win concluded a bank-busting primary that attracted more than $4 million in pro-Israel outside spending to a face-off between two incumbents in the Detroit suburbs.

“She ran a strong campaign,” Levin told his supporters. “My hat’s off to her.” He pledged to support Stevens in the general election.

In his concession speech, Levin did not mention the role that spending by the political action committee founded this year by AIPAC, the pro-Israel lobby, played in his loss. But he did mention that Stevens’ supporters outspent his own by a factor of five to one, thanks to “outside money.”

Stevens drew significant support from a PAC founded to support women candidates and was seen as favored from the beginning because of the new district’s map. But with nearly half of the outside spending coming from AIPAC’s PAC, United Democracy Project, the race also emerged as a battleground over US-Israel politics — made more poignant as AIPAC backed the non-Jewish candidate over the Jewish one.
Pro-Israel candidate wins Michigan House primary
The pro-Israel wing of the Democratic Party has won a victory, with Rep. Haley Stevens from Michigan's 11th district winning a hotly-contested primary race against Andy Levin on Tuesday night.

Stevens, who is not Jewish, enjoyed support from the local Jewish community as well as AIPAC and the Democratic Majority for Israel, eventually winning some 60% of the vote.

Levin, who has spoken against Israel in recent years, was backed by progressive groups like JStreet, as well as by Sen. Bernie Sanders and Rep. Rashida Tlaib.

A Detroit woman who preferred to remain anonymous told Israel Hayom at a victory party for Stevens: "I'm a Reform, liberal Jews, but I was ashamed of the positions Andy Levin tool on Israel. That's why I'm here. He talked about Israel in an unacceptable way."

Stevens herself spoke to Israel Hayom after the election and expressed her commitment to the Jewish community.
Michigan Democratic primary becomes testing ground for Israel support

PreOccupiedTerritory: Normal Political Activity Sinister When Jews Do It (satire)
Lobbying, fundraising, campaigning, letter-writing, advertising, and diplomatic protocol, and related behaviors constitute healthy, proper courses of action if the parties engaging the activity involve anyone from the vast majority of humanity, but once people of Hebraic persuasion feature in them, those behaviors change character automatically and become threatening, subversive, and dark, according to observers.

Analysis of media reports and analysis indicates that attempting to sway elected officials and decision-makers in favor of one’s position forms the lifeblood of democratic and international political communication – unless Jews are the ones doing it, in which case it menaces the very fabric of free society and represents borderline, if not outright, treason.

The phenomenon emerged, for example, earlier this year when The New York Times attributed Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s change of her “nay” position, on funding for Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense systems to a “present” vote, to “influential rabbis and lobbyists,” while similar language appeared nowhere to describe any other legislators’ activities or voting considerations. The episode represents but the latest in which standard political activity by Jews, or activity congruent with Israeli interests, earns portrayal not as standard political behavior but as dangerous, seditious manipulation of the government.

Thus, the America-Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the largest pro-Israel lobbying group in the US, even though it consists entirely of US citizens who see the two countries’ interests as congruent, garners descriptions as an “arm of a foreign government.” No such descriptions appear in the nation’s media regarding lobbying activities on behalf of other nations or governments, many of which spend much more than AIPAC, or even than the Israeli government itself does on such persuasion efforts – and whose connection to their lobbyists takes a more direct and specific form than the general “pro-Israel” orientation of AIPAC’s bipartisan domestic constituency.

Israel signs contract to build embassy in Morocco
Israel’s Ambassador to Morocco David Govrin signed a construction contract on Tuesday for building a headquarters for a permanent Israeli embassy in Morocco.

“I am very happy to share with you this photo, which witnesses one of the historical moments I lived with my team, as the construction contract for the headquarters of the permanent Israeli embassy in Morocco was signed,” he wrote on Twitter.

“With this, we will begin, God willing, a new era in which we will consolidate our distinguished relations with Morocco,” added the ambassador.

According to Ynet, the construction will cost $4 million and be built on the same property where Israel had a presence before it was abandoned in 2000, when diplomatic relations were severed.

Last year, Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid visited Morocco as the first Israeli foreign minister to visit the country since 2003. During the trip, he inaugurated the Israeli Liaison Office in Rabat and pledged that Israel and Morocco would both open embassies in each country.

Bring our boys home: Families of Israeli captives in Gaza march toward border
Correspondent Ariel Oseran joins the families and their supporters on their march, as they call on the Israeli government to secure the return of the bodies of Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul, which were captured by Hamas 8 years ago, at the end of the 2014 Gaza operation

The Israel Guys: More INSANITY From the Palestinian Government
Israel Arrested an Islamic Jihad terror leader this past Monday. Religious Zionism and Otzma Yehudit are nearing an agreement on a joint run for the upcoming elections. The Palestinian Authority is raising the salaries of the four terrorists who bombed the Hebrew University in 2002. Prime Minister Yair Lapid is calling on the UN to disband the UN Human Rights Council’s Commission of Inquiry after all three members made some very anti-semitic statements.

Jordanian athlete refuses to compete against Israeli peer
A Jordanian athlete withdrew from a taekwondo championship in Bulgaria to avoid facing an opponent from Israel, reported Middle East Monitor.

Maysir Al-Dahamsheh, a member of the Jordanian women’s junior taekwondo team, made the move on Sunday after reaching the finals of the World Taekwondo Cadet Championships, which were held in late July.

Her withdrawal comes two months after Jordanian national fencing player Eyas Al-Zamer withdrew from the World Juniors Fencing Championship in the United Arab Emirates, where he was scheduled to play against an Israeli athlete.

A Jordanian national table-tennis player did the same last summer at the World Para Table Tennis Championships in Slovenia by withdrawing from the competition to avoid playing against an Israeli opponent.
Al Jazeera Puts Terror Teen Front and Center in Mangled Report of IDF Raid to Capture Palestinian Islamic Jihad Commander
While Al Jazeera acknowledges al-Saadi’s senior role in the Islamic Jihad, the reader is offered no further details of this organization’s unpalatable history. For example, we are not told that PIJ is banned by the entire Western world, or that it has perpetrated numerous terrorist atrocities against innocent Israelis, including the Maxim restaurant suicide bombing which killed 22; the June 2002 Meggido junction suicide attack which killed 17, and the 2006 Tel Aviv shawarma restaurant bombing which left 11 dead.

To its credit, Al Jazeera does make clear that Jenin is a hub of terrorism, although this is rather ambiguously described as “armed resistance in the city’s refugee camp, where the armed wings of the PIJ and the ruling Fatah party are active.”

The piece then reminds readers that it was at another raid in Jenin that Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh was shot dead in May.

Lest we forget that just hours after the Jerusalem-born reporter was shot dead and while in possession of just a handful of witness statements, Al Jazeera felt it had more than enough factual evidence to release a statement accusing Israel of “blatant murder” during what it described as the assassination of Abu Akleh in “cold blood.”

This assertion, which was promptly broadcast around the world by numerous other media outlets, was later proven false when an independent investigation by the United States concluded that while she was likely shot by an Israeli soldier during a gunfight with Palestinian militants, she had not been deliberately targeted.

It appears, then, that Al Jazeera has an unfortunate habit of twisting the truth when it comes to its Israeli reportage.

Perhaps it is time for other news outlets to take the publication’s “news” stories with a pinch of salt before parroting them wholesale.
AP Touches Up Bio For “Our Heroic Martyr”
According to Islamic Jihad, 17-year-old Dherar al-Kafrini, killed during an Israeli arrest raid in Jenin last night, is one of their own. “Our heroic martyr,” as the Palestinian terrorist organization put it.

For Associated Press, that makes al-Kafrini a prime candidate for a biographical touch up.

The leading news agency, which promises “world-class content,” has an enduring habit of airbrushing out the terror affiliation of Palestinian fatalities.

Thus, multiple Associated Press captions today about al-Kafrini’s funeral all ignore the fact that Islamic Jihad identified him as one of its fighters. The only biographical information that the news agency provides about al-Kafrini is that he was 17.

“Bring stories to life,” exults AP, even as it buries the inconvenient facts about Palestinian casualties in the proverbial coffin. A sampling of today’s problematic captions follows. Some of the photos show Al-Kafrini’s body decked out with PIJ’s logo, a visual affirmation of the affiliation which AP steadfastly ignores. The first image below is designated as an “APTOPIX,” granting it greater visibility.
MEMRI: Prisoner Serving Eight Life Sentences Writes In Palestinian Authority Daily: Weapons Training At Fatah Summer Camps Is An Important National Activity
In an article that appeared in the Palestinian Authority (PA) daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida on August 1, 2022, Osama Al-Ashqar, a prisoner serving eight life sentences plus fifty years in an Israeli prison, defended a summer camp operated this year by Fatah in the West Bank that offered weapons and combat training for children and teens. The camp was held in the town of Beita near Nablus. In the article, published in response to a report about the camp on Israel's state-owned television channel,[1] Al-Ashqar wrote that summer camps of this sort are an important national activity which lays the groundwork for the Palestinian national edifice and shapes the minds of the young generation. He called the Israeli television report incitement against any attempt to implement the idea of the liberation of Palestine.

It should be noted that Al-Ashqar, who was a member of the Fatah military wing, the Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, was convicted of involvement in the 2002 Fatah shooting attacks in Kibbutz Metzer and in the Hermesh settlement, in which eight Israelis were killed. Despite his being a prisoner, his articles are occasionally published in the PA Al-Hayat Al-Jadida daily.

The following are translated excerpts from Al-Ashqar's article: [2]
"Israel's Channel 11, 'Kan,' broadcast a detailed investigative report about what it described as 'the wave of Palestinian hatred.' The reporter [Nurit Yohanan], who composed the item, claimed that there is an extensive incitement [campaign aimed at] planting violence and hatred in the minds of young Palestinians… by establishing summer camps in which tens of thousands of these young people participate. What was presented [in the report] demonstrates that nothing escapes the Zionist propaganda machines and their long arms of incitement. They closely follow everything that happens in Palestinian society, trying with all their might and in every way to influence the inclinations of the Palestinian people. [They do this] by many means, but chiefly by means of incitement, which is their typical approach to everything Palestinian. They never miss an opportunity to change the Palestinians' way of handling the core issues of the Palestinian narrative. Over many decades of continuous media struggle, Israel has directed all its ammunition against any Palestinian content geared towards implementing the idea of the Palestinian liberation – from the elementary school curriculum, to the children's programs on Palestinian TV, to the summer camps operated by the Supreme Council for Youth and Sports.

"The effort to raise a generation that is aware and capable, [a generation that] understands the importance of the historic moment and is imbued with national culture, is tantamount to laying the groundwork and the operative foundation for the Palestinian national edifice – [an edifice] that all the Zionist circles understand will arise only on the ruins of their settlement enterprise [i.e. their state]. Therefore, it behooves us to continue the advanced activity that the Supreme Council for Youth and Sports has launched, and to build upon it in numerous and varied ways, since we now understand the paramount importance of this genuine national activity. The future is shaped in the minds of these young boys and girls, who are the assets of this homeland and its true strategic treasure. The occupation understands this well, and [therefore] strives with all its might and in every way to create a [Palestinian] generation that lacks any sense of belonging and is disconnected from the plight of its people, [a generation] which is distracted and incapable of exercising its right to demand freedom and independence and to rid itself of this settlement-[building] occupation.

Now’s not the time to settle the maritime dispute with Lebanon
While Israel has repeatedly expressed that it wants to reach an agreement on the maritime border between the countries, two truths need to be clearly stated: one, as long as a terrorist organization is behind the wheel on the Lebanese side, no agreements can be trusted or taken seriously by Israel or the international community; and two, if Israel does intend to enter negotiations in the current state of affairs, a transitional government in Israel cannot by any means make serious long-term decisions or concessions.

This is not necessarily a new reality: Lebanon has refused to reach agreements with Israel for many years despite the enormous economic potential, under both Democrat and Republican US leadership, at the expense of the Lebanese economy and the continued suffering of its citizens. It was only recently that Hezbollah and the Lebanese government realized that they must enter some kind of negotiations with Israel, seeing that Israel had already begun to extract gas in its EEZ, coupled with rising domestic pressure in Lebanon over the rampant corruption and mishandling of government funds. Time, as well as excuses, simply ran out.

Lebanese civilians deserve to enjoy the benefits of their rich coast, just like Israel does. And regardless of the situation with Israel, Lebanon cannot even secure steps to explore natural gas off the undisputed areas of its EEZ. The power struggle between the Lebanese state and Hezbollah as well as Lebanon’s inability to provide assurances for potential international investors hinder its capacity to make serious moves on this front. Without Lebanon’s ability to explore for gas, all that is left is for Hezbollah to intimidate Israel and the international community over the Karish gas field located in the undisputed waters of the Israeli EEZ. The Lebanese claim that the maritime border between Israel and Lebanon crosses this field. Experts and satellite photos determine this is not the case. It’ll be better for Lebanon to focus on exploring its own coast for gas rather than trying to reap the benefits of a successful Israeli exploration in Israeli territory.

Furthermore, after repeatedly releasing threats and videos claiming Hezbollah has the means to strike Israeli off-shore installations at will, one should ask: who benefits from Hezbollah’s bullying rhetoric? It is certainly not the Lebanese economy, nor its struggling civilians. Israel might be hindered, but it will continue exploring its EEZ regardless, protected by one of the strongest navies in the Middle East. So other than a show of force that helps no one, what is the purpose of these tactics? It seems that dealing in terrorism has made Hezbollah seniors forget how to use any tool other than intimidation, and it shows.
Tehran, the Day After
So would an Israeli or American strike convulse Iran’s political system? The nuclear-weapons program has become the third pillar of Khamenei’s theocracy (the other two being anti-Americanism and the veil). If the Israelis, whom the regime asperses as Zionists ready for extinction, can badly damage the nuclear program, the regime will lose face. Iranian VIPs, especially within the Revolutionary Guards, have said repeatedly that the Israelis wouldn’t dare strike the nation’s atomic sites. This confidence has surely diminished since Israel started assassinating scientists and officials, including IRGC personnel, and periodically sabotaging nuclear-related equipment. If the Israelis do dare and succeed, it will be a stunning blow. It’s one thing to have the “Great Satan,” a superpower, lay waste your program; it’s another thing entirely to have the “Little Satan” do it.

And military defeats can be deadly for dictatorships. Historically, there’s nothing deadlier. If an Israeli or American strike led to a larger war — and there are good reasons to believe that Iran would be nervous about replying in an escalatory conventional manner after the U.S. Navy intervened (terrorism is a much more likely response) — then the possibility of adverse internal repercussions would increase. While there is no guarantee that an Israeli or American raid would cause sufficient shock to produce a convulsive — let alone fatal — internal backlash against Khamenei and the Guards, there is a chance it would start a process that might. Nothing else on the horizon offers Israel or America better odds of creating considerable turbulence quickly within the system.

It’s certain that the revolution-loyal left, right, and center (these Western terms don’t really capture how the Iranian ruling elite divides itself) would rise in umbrage against any Zionist aggression. But the West exaggerates the Iranian reflex to rally around the flag after an Israeli or American strike. Iranians aren’t automatons. Compared with Arabs and Turks, who lack an ancient cosmopolitan culture reinforcing their modern identity, Iranians don’t have a jagged and brittle patriotism. They are an old and sophisticated people quite capable of holding multiple hatreds concurrently. The massive, pro-democracy Green Movement in 2009, which for days shook the streets of Tehran, and nationwide demonstrations in 2017 and 2019, which again convulsed the ruling elite and led to wicked police-state repression, are upwellings of over 40 years of ire at theocracy. This won’t go away because Israel bombs Iran’s nuclear sites.

The notion that the Iranian ruling class would somehow benefit from a resurgent nationalism caused by an external attack ignores the decades the mullahs have spent denouncing nationalism as another noxious Western imposition on the Middle East. In particular, Khamenei is leery of Iranian nationalism and how it might thwart the Islamic project. “The enemies of Islam and Muslims want the Islamic ummah to be disunited,” he avers. “They create ethnic discord. They promote radical nationalism in different countries. They divide Muslims into groups and label them as Persians, Arabs, Turks, Pakistanis, Shia and Sunni.” Iran’s theocrats have insisted that the legitimacy of the Islamic Republic is predicated on its divine ordinance rather than on notions of Persian nationalism. In what is undoubtedly a self-defeating move, the clerical regime has done much to untether itself from one of the most powerful forces in modern politics.
Iran’s Raisi Plans to Address UN in New York Despite US Sanctions
Iran’s ultraconservative President Ebrahim Raisi plans to travel to New York for the United Nations General Assembly next month despite US sanctions against him, the government’s spokesman said on Tuesday.

“The preliminary planning has been done for the president’s attendance at the UN General Assembly session,” Ali Bahadori-Jahromi told a weekly press briefing.

Raisi, who has been under US sanctions since November 2019 for “complicity in serious human rights violations,” missed last year’s General Assembly because of the COVID-19 pandemic. A pre-recorded video of his address was played to the meeting instead.

When Washington added his name to its blacklist of Iranian officials, Raisi was still judiciary chief. He became president in June 2021.

Washington accuses him of playing a leading role in mass executions of detained leftists in 1988 while he was chief prosecutor of the Tehran revolutionary court.
MEMRI: Shift In Iranian Regime Statements On Nuclear Weapons: Regime Spokesmen Talk Openly About Them, Aiming For Western Acquiescence To Iran As A Nuclear Threshold State
Recently, there has been a noticeable shift in statements by Iranian regime spokesmen on the issue of acquiring nuclear weapons, with the aim of gaining Western recognition of Iran as a nuclear threshold state. While these spokesmen once vehemently denied any intention to obtain nuclear weapons, basing this on Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei's alleged "nuclear fatwa" (that does not exist at all – see Appendix II) banning nuclear weapons, today they are increasingly declaring that Iran has the technical capability to produce nuclear weapons. The most recent declaration of this kind came on August 1, 2022 from Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) director Mohammad Eslami. He said that Iran "has the technical capability to produce an atom bomb but such a plan is not on the agenda."[1]

Moreover, Iranian spokesmen are describing a situation in which producing nuclear weapons would be a defensive response to an attack on Iran, or in which they would officially constitute compensation for repeated U.S. violations of the 2015 JCPOA nuclear agreement. "Violation" here means the U.S.'s 2018 withdrawal from the JCPOA or what Iran claims is the U.S.'s failure to meet its economic obligations to Iran.

Tehran's depiction of itself as a victim who is being forced to respond to alleged Western aggression also allows it to cling to the nonexistent "nuclear fatwa" and to claim that it had never wanted to obtain nuclear weapons and that doing so is only a response to Western aggression. In this way, Iran seeks to advance towards its strategic goal of being upgraded to "nuclear threshold" status and beyond. Gaining the status of a legitimate nuclear threshold state capable of producing a nuclear bomb within a short time will allow Tehran to reach a nuclear balance of terror in the Middle East. In the view of the Islamic revolutionary regime of Iran, such a scenario would assure its continued existence, and would stop any attempt by the West to restrict the range of Iran's ballistic missiles and its expansion in the region.[2]

Tehran is taking advantage of the deadlock in the nuclear talks in Vienna to establish legitimacy for its status as a recognized nuclear threshold state, and therefore it is insisting on its unreasonable demands of the U.S., including forcing all subsequent U.S. administrations to follow the policy of its predecessors or the lifting of all U.S. sanctions on Iran, including those unconnected to the JCPOA and related matters such as sponsorship of terrorism and human rights violations – that is, sanctions on Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC).[3]

In effect, what Iran is trying to do is to leverage the JCPOA, which was aimed at guaranteeing that it will not obtain nuclear weapons, in order to justify its entitlement to possess nuclear weapons.
Iran nuclear program ‘moving ahead very, very fast,’ IAEA head warns
The director of the International Atomic Energy Agency said on Tuesday that Iran’s nuclear program was advancing rapidly, and that “good words” from Iran were not sufficient to satisfy inspectors.

“They have a very ambitious nuclear program that needs to be verified in the appropriate way,” he said, according to Reuters. The program was growing in “ambition and capacity” and “moving ahead very, very fast,” he added.

Speaking in response to a question about the IAEA’s role in monitoring a revived nuclear agreement with Iran, Grossi said, “When it comes to nuclear, good words will not do it.” What is needed, he continued, is transparency and compliance.

“We are ready and I hope they will be as well,” he added, according to the report.

On Monday, the Iranian Atomic Energy Organization head Mohammad Eslami said that Iran already possesses the technical capability to produce an atomic bomb, but has no intention of doing so, according to the report.

Saudi cleric calls to 'annihilate the plundering' Jews
Antisemitic sentiments in Saudi Arabia have been present for much of the past century, so can a new conciliatory discourse replace it?

Hussein Aboubakr Mansour, Project Director at the Endowment for Middle East Truth in Washington DC says it will take a long time, but with continued efforts by Saudi elites, the friendlier approach to Jews and Israel may take hold.

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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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