Monday, October 31, 2022

From Ian:

NGO Monitor: The UN Commission of Inquiry’s Second Report: The Continued Assault on Israel
Failure to Address Commissioners’ Antisemitism

In issuing its second report, the members of the COI ignored the numerous condemnations of the antisemitic statements they had made since the COI began.

In June 2022, speaking before the UN Human Rights Council, Commissioner Chris Sidoti appeared to trivialize the International Holocaust Remembrance Association (IHRA) consensus-building definition of antisemitism by dismissing it as “the definition of antisemitism promoted by the government of Israel, and its GONGOS.” He contended that “accusations of antisemitism are thrown around like rice at a wedding,” and claims that such accusations “legitimize” antisemitism.

In July 2022, Commissioner Miloon Kothari also made antisemitic comments on a podcast, claiming that the “Jewish lobby” controls social media and questioned whether Israel should have UN membership. In a letter to UNHRC President Federico Villegas, Pillay refused to condemn Kothari’s remarks, stating his comments “have deliberately been taken out of context…[and] deliberately misquoted.”

Dozens of countries, as well as UN Special Rapporteur Ahmed Shaheed, and HRC President Federico Villegas condemned these remarks. (Read NGO Monitor’s letter to United Nations Human Rights Council President Federico Villegas calling on him to initiate an assessment of the UNHRC’s Commission of Inquiry on Israel for violations of the mandate and UN codes of conduct as well as NGO Monitor’s joint letter to the UNHRC President calling for the removal of the Commissioners due to their antisemitic biases. NGO Monitor has also thoroughly documented the Commissioners’ prior anti-Israel biases and their links to Palestinian NGOs in detailed reports.)

Nevertheless, no punitive action was taken against the COI or its commissioners, and the COI report made no mention of the controversy. As a result, following the presentation of the report, many countries, including Albania, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Federated States of Micronesia, Germany, Guatemala, Hungary, Liberia, Marshall Islands, Palau, Republic of Nauru, and the United States, again condemned the antisemitism exhibited by the Commissioners. Many of these countries also denounced the inaction of the United Nations to repudiate these statements or remove the Commissioners from their positions.

Once again, Navi Pillay ignored this glaring criticism, and made several false and dismissive statements in response to the State remarks. Pillay falsely claimed, “This has been dealt fully by the President of the Human Rights Council, who is the proper authority to clear up criticism of the mandate and clear up criticism of those he selected for appointment as commissioners. So I do encourage you to look at the President’s website on that.” To date, the President has taken no action. Pillay also rejected claims of antisemitism, stating that “I’m 81 years old now, and this is a very first time I’ve been accused of antisemitism. In my own country, that will not be received well because everybody knows the role I played, and similarly with the other two commissioners. So let me make absolutely clear, we are not antisemitic.” These remarks represented yet another attempt by Pillay to whitewash the clear antisemitism expressed by the Commissioners and to absolve herself and the COI from taking the necessary concrete steps to address the deep-seated problems.
At the United Nations, Israel Becomes the Outlaw when Palestinians Reject Peace
First and foremost, the COI claim relies on ignoring that Israel has, in fact, repeatedly tried to end the occupation. Nowhere in the COI report is there any mention of the repeated offers of statehood made by Israel, including in 2000 at Camp David, and then the even more generous 2008 offer by then Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.

How does one square these offers with the claim that Israel has “no intention of ending the occupation?” How does one square Israel’s agreement to the Oslo Accords, which gave a Palestinian entity autonomy over parts of the West Bank for the first time ever in history, with this charge? Any serious legal inquiry would have to account for and overcome these facts to come to the conclusion that the COI reached .

Second, the claim relies on ignoring all the instances when Israel gave up land for peace, and even gave up land in the hopes of reaching peace. Far from Israelis being “covetous aliens” and Israel being an “acquisitive occupier,” as Lynk claimed while using openly antisemitic tropes in his final report, the Jewish state has repeatedly traded land captured in defensive wars back to states like Egypt and Jordan in exchange for lasting peace. As Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid’s recent statement at the UN General Assembly demonstrated, that is still Israel’s desire when it comes to the Palestinians, too. No amount of baseless, conspiratorial assertions by the COI that Israel only “uphold[s] the appearance of agreement” — with a two-state solution as part of a duplicitous strategy — can overcome this history.

This is particularly evident when considering Israel’s unilateral withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, which the COI only acknowledges to the extent necessary to absurdly accuse Israel of still “occupying” the territory. To admit that Israel completely uprooted not just its military, but also thousands of Israeli residents of Gaza, would require also acknowledging that many of the policies that the COI claims are designed to make Israeli occupation in the West Bank “permanent” are, in fact, quite capable of being overcome, just as they were in Gaza.

Third, and perhaps most telling, is that the claim relies on ignoring Palestinian rejectionism and maximalist demands. The entire narrative crafted by the likes of the COI members is that Israel alone bears responsibility. The fact that Israel prevailed in repeated wars of survival against invading Arab armies and decades of terror attacks that began long before the “occupation” started in 1967, does not square with the COI’s portrayal of pure Palestinian innocence and absolute Israeli malevolence. The COI has to conceal that the conflict persists in large part due to Palestinian rejectionism and refusal to accept the existence of a Jewish state in any part of the Land of Israel.

That is also why Palestinian leaders openly bragging about rejecting peace offers must go unmentioned, as with Mahmoud Abbas’ demand that “not a single Israeli” will be allowed to be part of a Palestinian state. It is why the COI cannot acknowledge that the Palestinian Authority (PA) arrests and tortures Palestinians for participating in peace workshops. It is why Hamas is rarely if ever mentioned — and no acknowledgement is made of its violent, antisemitic, and openly genocidal charter. The fact that the PA tells its people that the Palestine Liberation Organization’s Charter still calls for Israel’s destruction must also remain hidden.
Stephen Daisley: Sunak should acknowledge Jerusalem as Israel’s capital
Under Jordanian occupation, Jews were expelled from eastern Jerusalem and their synagogues burned, but under Israeli authority there are provisions to facilitate freedom of worship. This set-up is not particularly loveable. Jews are banned from praying on Temple Mount, the holiest site in Judaism, while Muslims are free to pray there. There are tensions. Clashes are not unknown. But on the whole it works.

The UK’s policy, one shared by the overwhelming majority of countries, is to deny recognition to this uneasy but enduring arrangement. We pretend that Jerusalem is not the capital of Israel because we fear doing otherwise would concede that international law, or at least the dominant reading of it, has failed as a conceptual framework in the most scrutinised conflict of modern times. We wish to see a viable Palestinian state in Judea and Samaria, Gaza and eastern Jerusalem and fret that acknowledging Israel’s capital would prejudice or hinder that.

This is an error born of a paradox. Mindful of its history in Palestine, Britain wishes to be uninvolved in the conflict but uninvolved in a way that aggrandises its status in the region. By withholding recognition of Jerusalem, we tell ourselves, the UK is advancing the cause of peace. Without wishing to sound like one of those ‘Britain is crap, ackshually’ historians, we are seriously overstating our swing in this part of the world. The Palestinian conflict with Israel will end when the Palestinians accept their own state alongside the Jewish state. Nothing we say or do is likely to influence them either way. This is their conflict, not ours.

Those of us who advocate recognition tend to do so in political, historical, moral, legal and, yes, emotional terms. But there is also a realist case. Under these terms, recognising Jerusalem is not about what Israel or the Palestinians want. It is about what the UK considers its foreign policy ought to be. What is in our interests? Some might argue that it is in our interests to be scrupulously even-handed and leave well enough alone. Even if that were true, the fact is that we are not neutral at present. Even as it refuses to acknowledge Israeli sovereignty in any part of Jerusalem, the UK government defines East Jerusalem as part of the ‘Occupied Palestinian Territories’. So our position is not one of balance or non-intervention. We have intervened in the conflict to say that East Jerusalem belongs to the Palestinians and West Jerusalem is up for debate.

US strong-arms allies into recognizing Iranian “equities”
On October 26, Amos Hochstein headed back to Lebanon for the “signing ceremony” for the maritime boundary deal Team Biden succeeded in imposing on Israel. Reflecting the farcical nature of what was bizarrely advertised in some quarters as a “normalization” deal between Israel and an Iranian vassal, the “ceremony” consisted of the two sides separately signing and depositing the agreement with the US representative.

Although the Lapid government had hyped a “joint” signing ceremony as something “very important,” the ridiculousness of the non-spectacle is fitting. The “government of Lebanon” and its “sovereign leadership” that supposedly concluded the agreement with Israel have the same relation to reality as the high council of elves and wizards from Lord of the Rings does to political power in Northumbria. Instead, they’re fictional characters that can serve certain very limited public functions while dressed up in appropriate costumes. For instance, it behooved the Israeli lame duck government to say that it had signed a deal with “the government of Lebanon,” and that this process actually “weakened” Hezbollah.

In reality, the Lapid government was as much a prop as its Lebanese counterpart on a stage on which the two principal actors were in fact the United States and Iran, as represented by Hezbollah. It’s been clear for months that Washington has been negotiating with the terror group through trusted Hezbollah cutouts like Abbas Ibrahim, head of the Directorate of General Security. The Biden administration’s framing of the deal therefore emphatically identifies it as an extension of its broader Iran policy, whose effect is to strengthen Hezbollah through its Iranian patron.

On the day the agreement was announced, two senior administration officials briefed reporters on it on a background call. Before discussing the deal itself, a White House official began by explaining how it is to be understood by situating it within the administration’s vision for the region: “a more stable, prosperous, integrated region.”

“Regional integration” is the administration’s key technical term of the moment. It describes an aspect of former president Barack Obama’s Realignment doctrine, which posits that US allies need to stabilize and prop up— “integrate”—Iran and its so-called regional equities, and cease any measures that might weaken the Iranian order.

Hence, when the White House official proceeded to provide examples of the “integrated” region the administration envisions, all three involved Iranian holdings: Iraq, Yemen, and finally, Lebanon, where the maritime deal was said to “manifest” the hoped-for integration. The US role is to maneuver America’s allies so as to ensure that these existing Iranian spheres become more stable, prosperous, and integrated—under the thumb of Iran, of course.

Biden must stop the UN inquisition against Israel
The CoI’s 28-page report is “sprinkled with a series of highlighted quotations from Palestinians in Hebron,” writes Bayefsky. “One contains a blood libel about Jews arriving in Palestinian homes in the middle of the night and threatening to burn the human beings inside. Another claims that Jews are child molesters intent on feeling the breasts of Palestinian girls.”

As Carly Gammill, director of the SWU Center for Combating Antisemitism, put it: “Israel is even somehow responsible for the violence that Palestinian men choose to perpetrate against Palestinian women. Do Navi Pillay and her fellow commissioners also blame the honor killings and second-class citizenship of Palestinian women on Israelis? And why stop there? By the Commission’s logic, it would also need to blame Israel for these same tragic conditions in other Middle East countries, like Saudi Arabia and Iran.”

The CoI has called for Israel to immediately withdraw from the West Bank, while making no demands of the Palestinians. Indeed, notably absent from the report is any mention of Hamas, rockets or terrorism.

“The inquisitors advocate that Israelis be hunted down, prosecuted and jailed for crimes against humanity,” writes Bayefsky. “They couldn’t name a single Palestinian crime worth prosecuting.”

“The shameless prejudice exhibited in the report is shocking,” she adds, “even by U.N. standards. The Summary brazenly announces that it is only about ‘the human rights implications for Palestinians.’”

Apparently, the HRC believes that Jews aren’t worthy of human rights.

Former President Donald Trump withdrew from the HRC in 2018, largely due to its systemic discrimination against Israel. Biden rejoined last year and continues to provide significant funding for the U.N. and the HRC. In June, Senators Tim Scott (R-S.C.) and Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.) introduced the Commission of Inquiry Elimination Act to withhold the HRC’s U.S. funding because of the council’s “blatant bias against Israel.” Funding would be withheld until the Secretary of State certifies that the HRC has abolished its CoI.

Biden’s words of support for Israel are appreciated, but they are not enough. It’s time for the president to support a bipartisan initiative that ensures there will be consequences for the HRC’s and the CoI’s anti-Semitism. Anyone who believes in justice must urge him to do so.

“Today, it’s no longer politically correct to blame Jews for all the world’s problems, so anti-Semites adapt,” said Ambassador Erdan. “Rather than burning Jews at the stake, anti-Semites burn the Jewish state at the stake. This is exactly what [the U.N.] constantly does.”

Mr. President, it’s time for you to act and show the world that this inquisition will not stand.
When an anti-Israeli UN official denies any bias
After being called an antisemite for her UN commission's savage, one-sided attacks on Israel, Navi Pillay protested that "I am 81 years old, and this is the first time I've ever been accused of antisemitism."

Pillay, now chairperson of the United Nations Human Rights Council's "Commission of Inquiry on the Occupied Palestinian Territory, Including East Jerusalem and Israel," has no reason to be shocked at the accusation. She's lived a long history of antisemitic, anti-Israel activism, as chairperson of both the UNHRC itself and of her latest star chamber, dedicated solely to prosecuting Israel. The recent Commission of Inquiry (COI) report blames the Palestinian-Israel conflict entirely on the Jewish state. The report does not mention Hamas's unprovoked terror attacks on Israel, tens of thousands of missiles rained down on Israeli civilians, or the Palestinians' refusal to accept numerous Israeli peace offers over decades.

Accusing Israel of human rights abuses using outright lies and half-truths is brutally unfair. But UN Watch Executive Director Hillel Neuer states flatly that the COI report is guilty of "shameless bias … it's antisemitic." Indeed, the very name of Pillay's commission confirms its verdict will be biased: To call the disputed region of Judea and Samaria (aka the "West Bank") Occupied Palestinian Territory prejudges peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.

There is, of course, no such legal entity as "the Palestinian Territories." There are only disputed territories in the region that the Palestinians and Israel have agreed in the Oslo Accords to jointly and severally govern. Israel has every legal right to administrative and security control in large parts of Judea and Samaria. The COI fully disregards these legal agreements.

According to the COI report, Jews also have no historical rights to a presence in Judea and Samaria. The report ignores Jewish presence in its ancient biblical homeland for thousands of years until 1948, when Jordan ethnically cleansed it of all Jews. When Israel defeated Jordan in the 1967 Six-Day War, it recovered this territory. Though the Palestinians have never owned or controlled any land in the region, the COI now magically grants it to them.

What's Behind Israel's Reluctance to Share Iron Dome With Ukraine?
Two weeks ago, Kyiv formally requested that Jerusalem share its missile-defense systems—including the vaunted Iron Dome—citing evidence that Russia plans to use increasing numbers of rockets and drones against the Ukrainian population. Bradley Bowman explains why Israel has thus far declined the request:
In August, Palestinian Islamic Jihad fired some 600 rockets and mortars toward population centers in Israel. But those attacks paled in comparison to what Israel confronted in May 2021. During that conflict, Hamas fired around 4,360 rockets from Gaza toward Israel. In both instances, casualties in Israel would have been significant if it were not for the role of Iron Dome.

Worse still, Hizballah, Tehran’s terror proxy in Lebanon, has about 150,000 surface-to-surface rockets and missiles and an estimated 2,000 unmanned aerial vehicles. Most of the rockets and missiles are relatively rudimentary systems. A small but growing number of them, however, are precision-guided munitions, which are more effective in hitting their desired targets, requiring a greater expenditure of missile interceptors.

That combination of a growing quantity and increasing capability is a genuine nightmare for Israel. Indeed, if Hizballah were to launch an estimated 1,500 rockets and missiles per day, existing Israeli missile defenses could be overwhelmed. Despite efforts to build additional missile-defense capability and capacity, Israel has a long way to go before it has enough missile defenses to deal with a war of this magnitude.

To make matters worse, some in Israel worry Russia could capture an Iron Dome system sent to Ukraine and then provide the system and its information to Iran. Tehran and its terror proxies would undoubtedly then use the information to develop capabilities to circumvent Iron Dome’s defenses, reducing its effectiveness and increasing the ability of Hizballah, Hamas, and Palestinian Islamic Jihad to kill Israelis in future conflicts.

As for those in the U.S. that have criticized Israel for its reticence to send its technology to the Ukrainians, Bowman notes that the “United States itself has not provided the Patriot air- and missile-defense system to Ukraine.”

Bahrain minister to ‘Post’: Time to move accords from politics to business
Bahrain’s minister of industry and commerce has said that the country is ready to move the Abraham Accords from a government initiative to a partnership between people.

“We firmly believe that the success of the Abraham Accords will be celebrated in economic prosperity,” Minister Zayed Bin Rashid Al Zayani told the Jerusalem Post on Sunday. “The right people to promote that prosperity, and to sustain it, are in the private sector.

“We have laid the groundwork and opened the door,” he continued. “Now it is the challenge of the private sector in Israel and Bahrain to create these opportunities.”

Al Zayani is in Israel this week on a five-day economic mission with 52 members of Bahrain’s business community. The delegation is the largest official economic delegation since the signing of the Abraham Accords in September 2020.

The mission aims to deepen economic ties between the countries and strengthen bilateral trade. The group met with President Isaac Herzog, Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman and Economy Minister Orna Barbivay. On Sunday, two memoranda of understanding were signed between economic organizations from Bahrain and Israel in the fields of trade and fintech at a day-long conference in Tel Aviv.

Al Zayani recalled how at the beginning of 2019 he was called to join the task force that planned the Peace to Prosperity workshop in Manama in June of that year.

“The aim was to bring Israelis, Arabs - including Palestinians - together with the oversight of the US administration and to promote joint projects and economic prosperity,” Al Zayani said. “My first reaction was, ‘Wow, this is something new.’ But it was a positive reaction and within a few months, we went from planning to executing. It was a good conference, and we believe that it planted the seeds for the Abraham Accords.”
Bahrain's Minister of Industry & Commerce speaks to i24NEWS
His Excellency Zayed bin Rashid Al Zayani joins Laura to talk about Bahrain's optimism surrounding relations with Israel, and his hopes for continued growing ties after upcoming elections in Israel.

Azerbaijan, key ally on Iran's border, eyes Israel embassy after 30 years
President Isaac Herzog wrote a letter in honor of 30 years of relations between Israel and Azerbaijan earlier this year, and invited President Ilham Aliyev to visit Israel and open an embassy.

"As we mark this significant landmark in our relations, I hope to see us fulfill an additional milestone, in the opening of the Azerbaijan Embassy in Israel," Herzog wrote.

"I would like to reiterate my invitation to Your Excellency to visit Israel during this upcoming year, so we may jointly inaugurate your new embassy," Herzog wrote.

Azerbaijan has trade and tourism offices in Israel, but has yet to open an embassy, partly due to not wanting to alienate other Muslim-majority states or to provoke Iran, but the Abraham Accords and rapprochement between Israel and Turkey – in which Aliyev was involved - have made that less of a problem for Baku.

Israel has had an embassy in Baku since 1993.

Israel and Azerbaijan have a close defense relationship. Israel has supplied drones to Baku, which were used in the war against Armenia, according to foreign reports. The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute found that 69% of Azerbaijan's arms imports in 2016-2020 came from Israel, which is 17% of Israel's arms exports in that period.

Iran and Azerbaijan share a 420-mile border, and there has long been speculation that Israel has launched covert operations in Iran from Azerbaijan. Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian accused Israel of having "established its presence in several regions of Azerbaijan," which Baku denied.

Soon after, Iran staged a military drill with thousands of soldiers along the border with Azerbaijan. Aliyev responded by having himself photographed with Israeli Harop kamikaze drones, which are produced in his country. Iran has held further military drills near its border with Azerbaijan in recent weeks.

About 40% of the petroleum imported to Israel comes from Azerbaijan.

Fresh Uproar over Palestinian President "Governing by Decree"
An Oct. 28 decision by PA President Mahmoud Abbas to form a Supreme Judicial Council headed by himself has caused anger among Palestinian human rights institutions and opposition political parties. Human rights experts said Abbas was exploiting the absence of the Palestinian Legislative Council to dish out legislation that served the interests of influential groups both within the PA and businesses. The president's decision has angered Palestinian citizens, many of whom have responded with criticism on social media.

Ali Al-Sartawi, former Palestinian minister of justice and currently a professor of law at An-Najah University in Nablus, said the country was in a state of legislative chaos with new laws being issued almost every week.
Khaled Abu Toameh: Palestinians: Why Are Attacks on Christians Being Ignored?
"Did you see ever a Christian attacked a Mosk [sic] in Christian majority towns in Middle East? Off course No. This shows difference of culture, faith, respect & recognition we hold" — Shadi Khalloul, prominent Christian rights advocate, Twitter, October 29, 2022.

As in previous instances, the Palestinian Authority has failed to take real measures to punish those who attack Christians or Christian holy sites in the Bethlehem area.

The attacks by Muslims on Christians are often ignored by the international community and media, who seem to speak out only when they can find a way to blame Israel.

Another disturbing situation is that the leaders of the Christian community in the West Bank are reluctant to hold the Palestinian Authority and their Muslim neighbors responsible for the attacks. They are afraid of retribution and prefer to toe the official line of holding Israel solely responsible for the misery of the Christian minority.

Sadly, it is safe to assume that the plight of the Palestinian Christians will only intensify in light of the silence of the international community and the all-too-justified fear of retaliation burdening their own leaders.
PMW: $306,972 and university degrees – rewards in prison to Hamas terrorist involved in suicide bombing that murdered 23 terrorists salaries and degrees
Do you know what a Palestinian terrorist who aided a suicide bomber who murdered 23 people received in prison? A generous salary and university degrees!

As Palestinian Media Watch has documented, the PA rewards imprisoned terrorists financially with monthly salaries from the day of arrest. In addition, the PA grants imprisoned terrorists several benefits, among them the possibility to earn university degrees. This is done in cooperation with the PA Ministry of Education and several Palestinian universities.

One imprisoned terrorist who has benefited from both is Hamas member Majdi Za’atri, who is serving 23 life sentences for transporting a suicide bomber to the bus the bomber chose for his attack and where he ultimately murdered 23, including children and babies, in 2003. Za’atri’s father proudly listed the degrees his murderer son has or will obtain while in prison:
Official PA TV host: We will talk about the dreams and ambitions of Majdi Za’atri (i.e., terrorist, involved in murder of 23)… He took advantage of the years in the occupation’s prisons. Has he obtained any certificates inside prison? …

Barakat Za’atri, father of terrorist Majdi Za’atri: “Allah be praised, he obtained a matriculation exam certificate, and after three years obtained a bachelor’s degree in social work. Now he is registered for a master’s degree, Almighty Allah willing, and within a year he will have a master’s degree.”

[Official PA TV, Good Morning Jerusalem, Sept. 23, 2022]

In addition to free education for his involvement in the murder of 23 people, Za’atri has received a steady salary according to the PA’s “Pay-for-Slay” program. By the end of December 2022 the PA will have paid him $306,972 (1,081,800 shekels):

Za’atri and the suicide bomber, Raed Misk, had two accomplices, Nassim Za’atri and Abdallah Sharabati, who are also in prison. As the PA also pays allowances to the families of dead terrorists – the “Martyrs” – PMW has been able to calculate the accumulative sum the PA has paid to the three living terrorist prisoners and the family of the dead suicide bomber. With salaries steadily rising with the time spent in prison, and including additions for wives and children, and bonuses for being residents of Jerusalem, the amount the PA has paid the four terrorists comes to at least $945,574 - 3,340,600 shekels!

Analysis: The Lions’ Den and the Future of Militant Activity in the West Bank
Future Militant Activity in the West Bank
It appears that recent Israeli military operations have affected TLD activity in the West Bank. The last officially claimed attack was on Oct. 19 when the group said it targeted IDF soldiers patrolling near Mount Gerizim.

Asked by FDD’s Long War Journal whether the IDF believed Israeli security operations against TLD was having a substantial affect, an Israeli military official answered in the affirmative.

The lack of operations claimed by TLD is a positive sign for the Israeli military, but it is too soon to predict how the elimination and surrender of senior members will translate on the ground. While attacks against IDF troops and Israeli settlements may decrease in the West Bank, it’s reasonable to believe the uptick in militant-led violence since last year will not subside with the possible demise of TLD.

Organizations that spearheaded the violence in the West Bank remain present. Palestinian Islamic Jihad, al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades continue to claim attacks. In one example, Katibat Jenin (PIJ) claimed a shooting attack on the northern West Bank settlement of Shaked earlier today.

Lastly, it is important to note there is a trend of copycat groups emerging in the West Bank with no apparent affiliation to established militant organizations. Some of these organizations have produced evidence supporting claims of attacks on Israeli targets. For example, previously unknown groups such as Saqour al-Quds (recently underwent a rebranding) and Saraya al-Sayyad have published statements and video purportedly showing attacks on Israeli targets. Though it is unlikely these groups will become a persistent threat in the West Bank.

MEMRI: Afghan Taliban Spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid Meets With Hamas Leader Ismail Haniyeh In Turkey, Says: 'We Are Proud Of You, Your Resistance, Steadfastness, And Efforts; You Have Dealt A Blow To The Israeli Occupation Regime'
Zabihullah Mujahid, the spokesman of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA, i.e., the Afghan Taliban), met with Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh during a recent visit to Turkey and assured support to the Palestinian resistance against Israel, according to a Dari-language report by an Afghan news agency.[1]

The Afghan Taliban delegation led by Zabihullah Mujahid met with Ismail Haniyeh and other Hamas leaders in Istanbul, where leaders of the Taliban and Hamas attended a conference of Islamic religious scholars, the report by Payam Aftab news agency noted.

Zabihullah Mujahid, who is also the deputy information minister, posted on Twitter a photo of him and his delegation meeting with members of the Hamas delegation led by Ismail Haniyeh and said that the two sides discussed the current situations in Palestine and Afghanistan.

Zabihullah Mujahid said that Palestine was the issue of the entire Muslim Ummah, according to the report, adding that the meeting between the Afghan Taliban and Hamas leaders comes weeks after Israeli media reported that the Taliban officials have favored the establishment of diplomatic relations between Afghanistan and Israel.

In September 2022, Dr. M. Naeem Wardak, spokesman of the Afghan Taliban's Political Office in Doha, was asked by an Al-Jazeera journalist if the Taliban could hold "Dialogue with everybody with no exceptions? Even with Israel?" To this question, Dr. Wardak responded, "What problem do we have with Israel?" However, soon the Taliban diluted their statement under pressure from Hamas.[2]

This response of the Taliban's Doha-based spokesman was interpreted, most probably prematurely, to mean that the IEA, which has yet to be recognized by the UN or any country, is moving in the direction of normalizing relations with Israel in a bold and desperate move aimed at gaining legitimacy and diplomatic recognition.

According to Zabihullah Mujahid's Twitter account, which seems to be managed by a team, the Hamas and Palestinian delegations discussed, during their Istanbul meeting, the current situations in Palestine and Afghanistan in detail and "the Afghan representatives described the Palestine issue as the issue of the entire Muslim world and assured support to the Palestinian cause."[3]

FDD: Maximum Support for the Iranian People: A New Strategy
Finally, the administration should move to isolate the Islamic Republic politically by pushing for its removal from, or censure in, international organizations, while also pressuring allies to sever or downgrade their bilateral diplomatic relations.

Pressure Iran Diplomatically. European nations have recalled their ambassadors from Tehran a handful of times over the past four decades. The recent string of demarches and statements by American allies against the Islamic Republic is therefore welcome, but more can be done, such as the recent statement of joint condemnation featuring female foreign ministers from 12 states. The Biden administration should further instruct all U.S. delegations to walk out of any international meeting where an Iranian representative is speaking. In light of the brutal killing of Mahsa Amini, as well as many other brave young female protestors, such as the 23-year-old social media influencer Hadis Najafi and the 16-year-old Nika Shahkarami, the United States should pressure relevant countries to remove Iran from the 45-member Commission on the Status of Women at the United Nations while at the same time consider bringing rights violations resolutions to the attention of other UN bodies such as the Human Rights Council or the General Assembly.

Condemn Iran within International Organizations. The United States should pressure the International Telecommunications Union to issue condemnations of Iran for its violations of international telecommunications laws. America should encourage European broadcasting authorities — such as the Conseil Supérieur de l’Audiovisuel in France and the Swedish Press and Broadcasting Authority — to direct audiovisual regulators to revoke the IRIB’s licenses to operate. OfCom, the United Kingdom’s audiovisual regulator, revoked Press TV’s license in 2012 for its broadcasts of forced confessions.

Snap Back Sanctions at the UN. At any time, any original participant in the JCPOA can send a letter to the UN Security Council alleging that Iran is in significant non-performance of its commitment under the deal, triggering a 30-day clock until all prior UN Security Council resolutions return to force. The United Kingdom, France, and Germany began this course of action in January 2020, but never completed the process for snapping back sanctions at the UN Security Council. The Trump administration attempted a unilateral snapback at the UN Security Council in August 2020, citing U.S. rights under UN Security Council Resolution 2231, but other members of the Council opposed the move. The Biden administration withdrew the U.S. snapback notification in early 2021. Washington should now restore it.

With anti-regime protests across Iran moving past the 40th day point, Washington desperately needs a strategy to better stand with the Iranian people who continue demonstrating, as well as to bring coherence toward its overall Iran policy. The above vectors of support to the people and punitive measures against the regime can begin to do precisely that.
US and EU: Supporting Iranians demanding freedom is not a luxury
We should not leave today’s protestors in any doubt that we stand with them against their brutal oppressors. What started as a movement in support of Amini — with many brave Iranian women and girls publicly cutting their hair in solidarity and burning their headscarves — has morphed into a far larger push against the regime. It now involves all sections of Iran, geographically and socially.

This means the United States should be seeking all practical and peaceful means of helping the Iranian people. Together with allies, the United States should do more to enable broadcasting into Iran. We should try to ensure that information gets through — despite censorship and regime efforts to block access — working through Radio Farda (run by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty), Voice of America and other nations’ broadcasters and with private radio and television stations. We should be sure that our own government-supported stations are adequately financed and staffed and send a clear message in support of the fundamental rights of the Iranian people.

We should seek ways to reach the population through smartphone satellite technology to ensure internet access, especially as the regime seeks to control it. Given the centrality of the internet as a provider of information, we should be seeking to advance this technology as rapidly as possible.

The Iranian people need to know we are unambiguously with them in their pursuit of freedom and against the stifling regime that has threatened them and the globe for more than four decades. Just as the Ukrainian people must know that we are behind them.

And we cannot forget the lesson of Iran: support for a people demanding freedom is not a luxury. The goals of U.S. foreign policy in Iran will only be achieved when that hated regime is replaced by a government that reflects the Iranian people’s desire for peace, freedom and prosperity.
Fmr. Jordanian Ambassador to Iran: Iran Infiltrates Countries, Establishes Sleeper Cells
In an October 21, 2022, interview on Al-Arabiya Network, former Jordanian ambassador to Iran Bassam Al-Omoush spoke about relations between Jordan and Iran. He said that Iran’s modus operandi is to infiltrate other countries and establish pro-Iranian sleeper cells in them. Al-Omoush also said that there have been clashes between Jordan and Iranian military forces along Jordan’s border and that Iran openly produces Captagon and other drugs and attempts to flood Jordan with them. In addition, he said that the Iranian regime is corrupt and that the Iranian people deserve to be much wealthier than they are, particularly because Iran is rich in natural resources. Moreover, he criticized the Iranian government for spending so much of its people’s money on supporting foreign groups. For more about Bassam Al-Omoush, see MEMRI TV Clips Nos. 9841, 6301, and 4666.

IRGC Commander-in-Chief: The Anti-Regime Protests Are a Sinister Western, Israeli, Saudi Plot
IRGC Commander-in-Chief General Hossein Salami said at a funeral held for IRGC members who were killed in a recent terrorist shooting in Shiraz, Iran that the current anti-regime protests are part of a “sinister plot” advanced by American and Zionist thinktanks. He said that the protesters are under Western, Saudi, and Israeli influence even if they have not been in direct contact with these parties, and he explained that foreign media outlets are “forcing” the protestors to rise up against their own society. He warned the ”outdated” American, Israeli, British, and Saudi regimes that Iran will take revenge against them through their youth, and he said that the freedoms promised by the West are immoral. In addition, he warned the protestors in Iran that they must not “exploit” the restraint shown by the Iranian regime. The funeral was aired on Channel 1 (Iran).

MEMRI: Saudi, Emirati Press: Hypocrite West Is Outraged When Iranian Drones Are Deployed In Ukraine, But Ignores Them In Middle East
Following reports that Russia is using Iranian-made drones to attack targets in Ukraine, articles in the Saudi and Emirati press accused the West of hypocrisy and of employing a double standard in the context of Iran's aggression. The U.S. and Europe, say the articles, have for years been ignoring the Iranian drones launched by the Houthis against Saudi Arabia and the UAE, and tolerating Iran's destructive actions in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and Yemen. But now, when the Iranian drones are threatening Ukraine and Europe as a whole, the West has come responded forcefully against Iran and imposed new sanctions on it. The articles stress that the West is now paying the price of its naïve approach to Iran and disregard of Iran's crimes. The Biden and Obama administrations and the European countries , they say, ignored Iran's military and technological buildup, and the actions of its militias and the crimes it committed against the Syrian people, with Russian support. This essentially emboldened Iran to continue harming the countries of the region, and to come to Russia's aid in its war against Ukraine and against NATO.

The "Western world" ignores "the Iranian drones targeting the Arab world," but is shocked when they are used "against the West" (Al-Iqtisadiyya, Saudi Arabia, October 27, 2022)

The following are translated excerpts from some of these articles.

Senior Saudi journalist Tarek Al-Homayed wrote in the Al-Sharq Al-Awsat daily that it is the West's disregard of Iran's crimes, and of the Iranian drones that target the countries in the Middle East, that emboldened Iran to provide Russia with the drones that now threaten Europe. He added that confronting the Iranian threat will not be possible unless the U.S. maintains sound relations with Saudi Arabia and other regional countries. Such action also requires the formulation of an overall plan for dealing with Iran, he said. The following are excerpts from the English version of his article, published in Al-Sharq Al-Awsat's English edition.[1]

"I prefer to be candid in my political commentary, to call a spade a spade. When it comes to Iran’s destructive actions in the region and across the world, we have to call it how it is. For this reason, I have to say that Iranian interference in the Ukraine war by supplying Russia with drones is an Iranian attack on NATO countries.

"Yes, just as it has targeted and is targeting our region, Iran is now targeting Europe. Iranian drones were used to attack oil processing facilities at Abqaiq in 2019, and these are the same drones that the Houthis have deployed against Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

"The Popular Mobilization Forces and Asaib Ahl al-Haq use these same drones in Iraq, and Hezbollah uses them to strike Israel. These drones are not new, but Europe and the United States have only recently woken up to them because Iranian drones are now hitting NATO countries [sic].

"Thus, it is the silence of the US and Europe, especially the endless mistakes that Americans keep making in the way they deal with Iran, [that] has emboldened Iran to attack European countries, NATO in particular…

New Zealand PM calls to expel Iran from U.N. Women’s Rights Commission
UN Watch saluted New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern for calling today to expel Iran from the U.N.’s top women’s right body, and urged her to initiate the process immediately by introducing a draft resolution prepared by UN Watch.

New Zealand this year became one of the 54 members of the UN Economic and Social Council, which in 2021 shamefully elected the Iranian regime to the Commission on the Status of Women.

As a member of ECOSOC, New Zealand can and should introduce a resolution to remove Iran’s regime.

Although Prime Minister Ardern said today that “the starting point will be engagement with the UN Secretary-General,” his office has made clear repeatedly that he has no involvement on elections of countries to UN bodies, and that this is exclusively a matter for member states.

Foreign oil tanker seized by IRGC in Persian Gulf
A foreign oil tanker carrying over 11 million liters of diesel fuel was seized by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) in the Strait of Hormuz on Monday, according to Iranian media.

21 crew members on the oil tanker were arrested and referred to the judicial system, according to IRGC General Abbas Gholamshahi.

The general claimed that the tanker was used by an organized smuggling gang and collected the fuel from light vessels.

"This offending oil tanker was under the observation of intelligent intelligence and after the complete delivery of the smuggled fuel from the vessels, it was seized by the brave men of the 1st Naval District of the IRGC," said Gholamshahi.

The nationality of the owners of the seized tanker was not mentioned in the report.
EU examines classifying Iran Revolutionary Guards as terrorists - Germany
Germany and the European Union are examining whether to classify Iran's Revolutionary Guards as a terrorist organization, Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said on Sunday.

"I made it clear last week that we will launch another package of sanctions, that we will examine how we can also list the Revolutionary Guards as a terrorist organization," Baerbock said in an interview with ARD broadcaster on Sunday.

Her comments come after the head of the Revolutionary Guards warned protesters that Saturday would be their last day of taking to the streets, in a sign that security forces may intensify their already fierce crackdown on widespread unrest.

Germany last week said it was tightening entry restrictions on Iran beyond an already announced EU sanctions package.

Baebock also said there were currently no negotiations about the nuclear agreement between Iran and the West.

Pro-Palestinian, pro-Iran Lula retakes Brazil’s presidency -analysis
Jerusalem lost a friend in Brasilia this week, when President Jair Bolsonaro, an enthusiastic Israel supporter, lost to former president Luis Inacio Lula da Silva, who is vocally pro-Palestinian and nurtured ties between Brazil and Iran.

Da Silva, who is often just called “Lula,” became the first Brazilian president to visit Israel in 2010, but the trip was marked with controversy.

Lula's support for Palestinians
The year was the 150th anniversary of Zionist visionary Theodor Herzl’s birth, and the Foreign Ministry added a visit to his grave to the protocol for visiting foreign dignitaries. Then-vice president of the US Joe Biden laid a wreath on Herzl’s grave weeks before da Silva’s visit, but the Brazilian president refused to do so. Israel’s foreign minister at the time, Avigdor Liberman, refused to meet with da Silva due to the breach of protocol.

Then, da Silva donned a keffiyeh on his shoulders and laid a wreath at the tomb of Palestinian leader and arch-terrorist Yasser Arafat in Ramallah.

Concurrent media reports said that da Silva sought to meet with Hamas representatives, as well, which he thought would encourage peace and reconciliation. However, the meeting did not come to be.

Later in 2010, Brazil recognized a Palestinian state, setting off a wave of such recognitions in South Africa.

Da Silva continues to support unilateral Palestinian statehood, including Ramallah’s bid for to become a UN member. In June of this year, he wore a keffiyeh at an event and said "Palestinians deserve our full attention and solidarity.”

PreOccupiedTerritory: Regime That Harbored Nazi War Criminals Likes To Compare Israel To Nazis (satire)
A regime still officially at war with the Jewish State since the latter’s establishment in 1948 has shown a fondness for analogies that place that Jewish State in the role of the genocidal fascists that controlled Germany before wand during World War II, and has also provided shelter to, and received both training and advice from, actual German commanders responsible for genocide.

Syrian President Basher Assad, like his father Hafez before him, follows the common anti-Israel rhetorical tactic of invoking Nazi Germany’s treatment of Jews to describe Israel’s behavior toward Palestinians. Syrian President Basher Assad, like his father Hafez before him, has displayed Nazi-level brutality against his own people, in addition to harboring the likes of Austrian-born SS Captain Alois Brunner, who oversaw the deportation to death and concentration camps of almost 130,000 Jews from Italy, Slovakia, France, and elsewhere; few survived. Syria’s regime also engages in frequent Holocaust denial or minimization despite invoking the Holocaust as the example of ultimate evil.

The elder Assad’s massacre of tens of thousands of insurgents and civilians at Hama in 1982 recalled Wehrmacht tactics in response to insurgent activity in occupied countries, while both elder and younger Assads have toed the general pro-Palestinian line of accusing Israel of ethnic cleansing that somehow has increased the Palestinian population tenfold since Israel’s establishment. The world Jewish population has yet to reach its pre-Holocaust level in a similar timeframe.

Brunner’s term as head of the Drancy internment camp in France – mostly a way-station before the Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination facility in Poland – featured torture or summary execution for the most minor offenses; survivors spoke of bullet holes and blood stains covering the walls of his commandant office. Similar methods have found a home in Tadmor Prison, in the Syrian city of Palmyra, where inmates undergo physical and psychological torment that would delight Brunner if the victims were Jews. The regime that runs the prison regular accuses Israel of torturing Palestinians, with scant evidence, while it also tortures and kills Palestinians in its own facilities all over Syria.

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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 19 years and 40,000 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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