Monday, November 21, 2022

From Ian:

Qatar’s farcical World Cup begins
Even before the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar kicked off, the tournament already had a hero: the former captain of the Iranian national team, Ali Daei.

Now retired and working as a coach, Daei is without question the greatest footballer Iran has ever produced, playing at senior level both in his home country and in Germany. Daei was even the world’s top international goal scorer until last year, when his haul of 109 goals was pipped by a certain Cristiano Ronaldo. Adored in Iran, he made 149 appearances for the men’s national team, including the World Cup tournaments of 1998 and 2006.

Daei is also a devout Muslim who once turned down a lucrative offer to appear in a beer ad in Germany on the grounds that the consumption of alcohol is proscribed by his faith. But as with many Iranians, in Daei’s case, belief in the religious tenets of Islam does not necessarily translate into support for the Islamic Republic that has ruled with an iron fist since 1979.

Last week, circumventing the restrictions imposed on internet access by the Iranian regime amid historic protests against its continued rule, Daei told his 10.6 million followers on Instagram that he had turned down an invitation to attend the competition from its Qatari hosts and FIFA, world soccer’s governing body.

Daei cited the protests that have convulsed Iran as the reason for his staying away from Qatar. He wanted, he told his followers, to “be by your side in my homeland and express my sympathy with all the families who have lost loved ones these days.” This was in keeping with Daei’s previous statements, such as his message to the regime declaring, “instead of suppression, violence, arrests and accusing the people of Iran of being rioters, solve their problems.” Daei also put his neck on the line last month when he publicly challenged the regime’s claim that a young female protestor in his hometown of Ardabil had died of a pre-existing medical condition, and not at the hands of police officers.

Daei’s announcement might be taken as evidence of the old observation that there are things in life more important than soccer. But in soccer-mad Iran, what happens with the national team both on and off the field frequently takes on a political significance unknown among those teams coming from democratic countries.

Iran’s World Cup appearances are invariably an opportunity for Iranians living outside their homeland to express their patriotism while loudly opposing the ayatollahs. In Qatar, they may even be joined in those protests by the players, who have been told by coach Carlos Queiroz that they are “free to protest as they would if they were from any other country as long as it conforms with the World Cup regulations and is in the spirit of the game.”

Certainly, that is a prospect which worries the Iranian regime. Speaking to the players as they were paraded in front of him before departing for Qatar, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi told them, “Some don’t want to see the success and victory of Iranian youth and wish to disturb your focus. Be very vigilant on this.” As much as that might sound like advice, it is in fact a threat – and given that the regime has murdered nearly 400 people and arrested more than 15,000 since the protests began in September, it is a threat that should be taken seriously.

The regime is taking all the measures it can to ensure that mass sessions of soccer watching don’t become the occasion for additional protests. To that end, they can count on their allies in Qatar, an obscenely wealthy Gulf emirate that thumbed its nose at the Abraham Accords with Israel some of its neighbors signed up to, and which continues to back the Hamas terrorist organization in Gaza.
Khaled Abu Toameh: Qatar's Double Game: Funding Islamists While Pretending to Be America's Ally
Hamas leaders [who have relocated to Doha]... are using Qatar as a base for calling for the destruction of Israel. Yet this does not seem to bother the rulers of Qatar or its allies in the West, including the US.

This is the same Qatar whose leaders claim that they condemn all acts of terrorism and violent extremism.

It is disquieting, to say the least, that a county that hosts the leadership of a Palestinian group that carried out thousands of terror attacks against Israel is talking about Qatar's desire to help eliminate terrorism and extremism.

It is also disquieting that Qatar... continues to pour millions of dollars into the Gaza Strip, thereby emboldening Hamas, whose leaders and charter champion violence and call for the destruction of Israel.

Haniyeh is not the only Hamas leader living under the patronage of Qatar. Several other Hamas leaders, including Khaled Mashaal, Hussam Badran, Izzat al-Risheq and Sami Khater, have also been welcomed to move their offices and homes to the Gulf state.

In addition to hosting the Hamas leaders and their families, Qatar has been providing millions of dollars to Palestinians in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.... [T]he Qatari aid indirectly helps Hamas to hold on to power. Qatar's beneficence exempts Hamas from its responsibilities towards the Palestinians living under its rule in the Gaza Strip and allows the terror group instead to direct its resources and energies towards building tunnels to attack Israel and manufacturing weapons, including rockets, in preparation for their next war to try to destroy Israel.

The Hamas leaders have often been criticized by Palestinians and other Arabs for leading comfortable lives in Qatar while calling on their people in the Gaza Strip to continue the jihad (holy war) against Israel.

Qatar, however, evidently cares nothing about the interests of ordinary Palestinians, such as boosting their economy and improving their living conditions. What it cares about is embracing the leaders of Hamas to make Qatar appear to the Arabs and Muslims as the main supporter of the Palestinian "resistance" – a euphemism for the "armed struggle" against Israel.
JPost Editorial: International scrutiny toward Qatar hosting World Cup
These games are as much about Qatar’s standing as an influential player in the Arab world and global affairs as they are about international football. Qatar has already put a great amount of money into foreign clubs and interests. Furthermore, the state-owned Al Jazeera has a tremendous impact on the Arab world and beyond. There are also questions regarding Al Jazeera’s role in Qatar winning the bid to host the tournament having reportedly offered FIFA vast sums of money ahead of the vote.

Al Jazeera’s broadcasts and stance are particularly pertinent in Israel’s case following the death of American-Palestinian reporter Shireen Abu Akleh in Jenin in May, as Palestinian terrorists clashed with IDF forces. The FBI last week said it would begin its own probes into the incident even though thorough Israeli investigations had concluded that she was likely killed accidentally by an IDF soldier during the exchange of fire.

From Israel’s viewpoint there are also heightened sensitivities due to Qatar’s financial support of Hamas’s regime in Gaza (although Israel has permitted the influx of funds as humanitarian aid.) In addition, Qatar maintains cordial relations with Iran, whose support of terrorism and human rights abuses are evident.

The slogan of this year’s World Cup is “Now is all.” The mantra seems to be an attempt to focus on the moment and put the criticisms to one side.

We respectfully suggest going beyond the “here and now.” It would be wrong to ignore the human rights issues and Qatar’s double game when it comes to support for terrorists.

Yet, the World Cup in Qatar could also be an opportunity for the small state to prove that this international mega-event was not simply “sportswashing.” It can significantly improve its treatment of migrant workers and gays, for example, without compromising its Muslim religious values.

Especially when it comes to the relationship with Israel, having hosted Israeli fans and media and permitted direct flights from Tel Aviv, Qatar could put its best foot forward and go a stage further.

Israel’s role in the Middle East has changed significantly since the signing of the Abraham Accords in 2020. Israel has had quiet ties with Qatar and even established an economic interest office in Doha in 1996 but it was closed during the Second Intifada in 2000.

Moving beyond the “Now is all” to official ties between Qatar and Israel would be a win-win situation and a fitting step to take when the World Cup is over.

Former U.S. Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Eliot Engel: Time for the UN to Stop Funding Hate Groups
Israel has been subjected for many years to unfair, microscopic attention over its actions and relationship with the Palestinians, subjected to a standard that no other country in the world has had to endure.

It is now clear that the criticism is not about particular issues but about Israel's very existence.

Two UN institutions were created in the wake of the 1975 General Assembly resolution which characterized Zionism as a form of racism: the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People (CEIRPP) and the Division for Palestinian Rights (DPR).

While the resolution was repealed in 1991, the two institutions that have served to implement its message continue to operate, engaged in a year-round effort to undermine and delegitimize Israel - all in the name of the international community.

If UN members are interested in contributing toward ending the conflict, they should stop supporting the anti-Israel propaganda apparatus of the CEIRPP and DPR that makes peace impossible to achieve.
Hezbollah transporting hundreds of chemical weapons to Lebanon - report
Hizbullah is storing hundreds of missiles carrying a toxic chemical payload at a warehouse in Al Qusayr, near the Lebanese-Syrian border, the Saudi Al-Hadath news reported on Sunday.

110 Fajr missiles and over 300 Fateh missiles are all carrying the toxic chemical thionyl chloride.

Sources said experts from North Korea injected the toxic chemicals into the missiles under the supervision of Iranian chemical weapons expert Qassem Abdullah Massoudyan.

The missiles are to be moved to the Bint Jbeil area in southern Lebanon near a base belonging to UNIFIL.
Seth Frantzman: Elbit's micro-suicide drone swarms can hunt enemies in urban combat
A new drone from Israel’s Elbit Systems called Lanius combines a number of technologies that put it at the forefront of how drones are transforming war.

At the same time, reports about the drone may raise questions about how this technology may make war more controversial as “robots” play a larger role in it.

The more armies and defense companies invest in new technology that enables combat to take place remotely — without soldiers interacting with civilians, for instance — the more it seems like “robot wars.”

Elbit Systems has said that Lanius is “part of the Legion-X robotic and autonomous combat solution.” Elbit is one of Israel’s three largest defense companies and is at the forefront of defense technology.

Its website says the drone “is a highly maneuverable and versatile drone-based loitering munition designed for short-range operation in the urban environment.”

The drone can scout and map buildings, flying around small corridors and through doorways. This means it can help a user find “points of interest for possible threats, detecting, classifying and syncing to Elbit Systems’ Legion-X solutions. Lanius can carry lethal or non-lethal payloads, capable of performing a broad spectrum of mission profiles for special forces, military, law enforcement, and HLS.”
IDF investigating suspected botched car bombing near West Bank military post
A Palestinian car exploded near a military post in the northern West Bank on Sunday night in what security forces are investigating as a suspected bombing attempt.

Palestinian media reported late Sunday that a car exploded at Kufeirat junction, several hundred meters from an Israel Defense Forces pillbox-style watchtower near the settlement of Mevo Dotan.

Videos from the scene showed the burning car exploding. The blaze was extinguished by Palestinians.

Later, troops found three gas cylinders in and next to the vehicle, as well as wires possibly intended to have been used to remotely set off the explosion, the Kan public broadcaster reported.

A flag of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine terror group was also found in the area, according to the IDF’s initial probe of the incident, cited by Kan.

Last December, a Palestinian driver rammed his car into an army jeep and a military post near Mevo Dotan, before it burst into flames.

Palestinian Foreign Minister in hot water for visit to Berlin's Holocaust memorial
The Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki and the Palestinian ambassador to Germany visited the Holocaust memorial in Berlin, where the Foreign Minister reflected on the 'heinous crime' of the Holocaust.

Our Middle East correspondent Ariel Oseran says the visit, which went under the radar for several days, is now sparking backlash from Palestinians.

PMW: PA, make up your mind: Was dead teen an innocent “Martyr” or heroic “Jihad fighter”? Is a dead teen an innocent “Martyr” or heroic “Jihad fighter”?
On the occasion of the UN's World Children's Day yesterday, here's a story about a Palestinian child:

Two weeks ago, a Palestinian boy died when explosives he attempted to use to attack Israeli civilians exploded prematurely. He was only 15 years old.

Now his death serves two contradictory PA messages:
His death is used to repeat the PA libel that Israeli soldiers deliberately target and murder Palestinians, particularly innocent children.
His death is used to glorify him as a “Jihad fighter” - a teen “Martyr” - to encourage more Palestinian teen-terror and Martyrdom-death.

Responding to “the death as a Martyr of young 15-year-old Mahdi Hashash,” Chairman of the Palestinian legislature (Palestinian National Council) Rawhi Fattouh repeated the PA libel, saying the boy’s death was a manifestation of Israeli soldiers’ “desire for murder”:
“The occupation’s crimes and assassinations, whose pace is increasing, express the desire for murder and crime among its forces, which receive orders from the political echelon to kill as many Palestinians as possible and to cause damage to their property.”

[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Nov. 10, 2022]

On the other hand, Hashash’s death – and the terror he was involved in when he died - are described as heroic “resistance.” Calling Hashash “our Jihad fighter Martyr,” Fatah’s military wing, the Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades, emphasized that “the blood of the Martyrs” – like the blood of the 15-year-old – will “illuminate the path of honor, resistance, and liberation”:
“The Al-Aqsa [Martyrs’] Brigades said: ‘While announcing the death of our Jihad fighter Martyr, we emphasize that the blood of the Martyrs will continue to illuminate the path of honor, the path of resistance, and the path of liberation of the land and holy sites for the Jihad fighters and for the resistance members.’”

[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Nov. 10, 2022]
AP Amends Captions, Adding Palestinian Killed By Troops Had Attacked Soldier
The fact that Shuman attacked and wounded a soldier, hitting him in the face with a hammer, was widely reported at the time, including by the AP itself. On Sept. 8, AP reported (“Palestinian teen shot dead after wounding Israeli soldier“:
Israeli forces shot and killed a Palestinian teenager in the occupied West Bank on Thursday after the military said he hit a soldier in the face with a hammer. . . .

The military said the soldier was lightly wounded during the confrontation in the West Bank. It said the Palestinian was carrying a hammer as well as a knife, and circulated pictures of both. The Palestinian Health Ministry identified the deceased as Haitham Mubarak, 17. It did not provide any further information.

As reported by the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, Shuham was a Fatah operative, and the organization issued a bulletin upon his death claiming him as “our heroic shahid” (at left).

Following CAMERA’s communication with AP, editors today amended the captions to include the fact that Shuham wounded a soldier with a hammer. The amended captions, under the prominent heading “ADDITION ISRAEL PALESTINIANS” now state:
CAPTION ADDITION – ADDS COMMENT FROM ISRAELI ARMY – Mourners carry the body of Palestinian Haitham Shuman, 17 years old, into the family home in the West Bank city of Beitunia, Saturday, Nov. 19, 2022. The Palestinian Health Ministry said that Israeli forces shot and killed Haitham near the village of Beitin, in the occupied West Bank on Sept. 8, 2022 and detained his body. Israel released the body last Friday. The Israeli army said Shuman attacked a soldier with a hammer before he was shot and killed. (AP Photo/Nasser Nasser)

CAMERA commends the news agency for adding this essential information.
Telegraph buries news of deadly Palestinian terror attack
The following day, the Telegraph’s Middle East correspondent James Rothwell published an article on a totally unrelated topic (Wife of Israel’s far-Right figurehead poses with pistol alongside first lady, Nov.15). Buried within the piece, seven paragraphs down, was this:
It is not unusual for settlers to carry firearms, which they say are necessary to defend themselves from Palestinian attackers. On Tuesday, three Israelis were killed in a Palestinian stabbing and car-ramming attack near the West Bank settlement of Ariel.

That was the only sentence devoted the the deadly incident in Ariel the day before. Evidently, Rothwell decided that a politician’s wife carrying a pistol was more newsworthy than a Palestinian terror attack which killed three, leaving 11 children fatherless.

Yesterday, Rothwell published another Israel-related article (“Benjamin Netanyahu agrees to legalise illegal West Bank outposts in coalition talks”, Nov. 20). And, eleven paragraphs down, the journalist again made only passing mention of the deadly attack.

Palestinians have expressed fears that legalizing outposts will embolden the settler movement and lead to more attacks by settlers on them and their land.

It may also increase the risk of Palestinian attacks on settlements, such as the car-ramming and stabbing attack earlier this week in the settlement of Ariel that killed three Israelis.

In contrast to the Telegraph’s two buried sentences on the Ariel attack, even the Guardian published a stand-alone article on the incident (“Palestinian man kills two Israelis in West Bank settlement”, Nov. 15). The Independent and Daily Mail published articles on the attack as well.

It’s been an especially deadly year for Israel, with twenty-nine Israelis murdered by Palestinian terrorists thus far – the highest annual number killed since 2015.
BBC News blames fatal Gaza fires on counter-terrorism measures
As we all too often have cause to note on these pages, the long-running power shortages in the Gaza Strip are not the result of Israeli or Egyptian counter-terrorism measures.

In 2017 the BBC Jerusalem bureau’s Yolande Knell was able to produce accurate reports on the background to that chronic issue in which she explained that:
“Behind the crisis is an escalating political power struggle between the Islamist group, Hamas, and the Palestinian Authority (PA), dominated by the rival Fatah movement.”

That has not however prevented the BBC from continuing to promote the myth that power shortages in the Gaza Strip are the fault of “the blockade” while avoiding the relevant issue of what this report euphemistically describes as “internal Palestinian political disputes”.

In fact, not only is the diesel fuel needed to run the inadequate Gaza power plant transported into the Strip via Israel, but Israel also supplies the Gaza Strip with around 125mw via ten power lines. The supply of electricity from Egypt appears to have halted in recent years.

As we see, Abu Alouf and Wright’s report nevertheless promotes false linkage between “deadly fires” and “the blockade”.

That editorial decision became all the more remarkable three days after the incident when the Gaza Strip’s attorney general suggested that the fire that is the subject matter of this particular report was caused by “a party trick involving gasoline“.

IDF intel chief: Iran to soon start enriching uranium to weapons-grade, but unlikely to dash to a bomb
Iran will soon begin enriching at least a “symbolic” amount of uranium to 90%, although it is unlikely make a dash for the bomb, IDF Military Intelligence Directorate chief Maj. Gen. Aharon Haliva said on Monday.

Speaking at conference organized by the Institute for National Security Studies, Haliva warned that Tehran had made “significant progress” on its nuclear program, and that the international community would soon face its “greatest test” in preventing the Islamic Republic from obtaining the bomb.

Haliva also revealed that Iran has considered launching a terrorist attack at the World Cup soccer tournament, which began on Sunday, but is concerned that such a move would negatively impact on host nation Qatar.

Furthermore, the Iranian regime currently is not, in his estimation, at risk of being overthrown, despite ongoing protests in the country, international sanctions and growing anger over its military support for Russia in the war in Ukraine.
IAEA: Iran Installs 1,740 New Advanced Centrifuges
According to the International Atomic Energy Agency's (IAEA) quarterly report on Iran of November 10, 2022, since the last IAEA report, the quantity of installed advanced centrifuges at the Natanz Fuel Enrichment Plant has surged with 1,740 new IR-2m and IR-4 centrifuges, making the current installed capacity over 50% larger than it was in August. This reduces the time Iran would need to break out and produce enough weapon-grade uranium for nuclear weapons. This increase erodes further the value of a revived nuclear deal.

Iran's breakout time remains at zero because it has more than enough 60%-enriched uranium to directly fashion a nuclear explosive. Iran could produce enough 90%-enriched uranium for a nuclear weapon within a few weeks utilizing only a few advanced centrifuge cascades. Iran can now produce enough 90%-enriched uranium for four nuclear weapons in one month and make enough for a fifth weapon within the following month.

The IAEA concludes that "Iran's decision to remove all of the Agency's equipment previously installed in Iran for surveillance and monitoring activities in relation to the JCPOA has also had detrimental implications for the Agency's ability to provide assurance of the peaceful nature of Iran's nuclear program."

Iranian World Cup Squad Declines to Sing National Anthem, Backing Protests
Iran‘s World Cup soccer team declined to sing their national anthem before their opening match against England on Monday after many fans back home accused the squad of siding with a violent state crackdown on persistent popular unrest.

Protests demanding the fall of the ruling Shi’ite Muslim theocracy have gripped Iran since the death two months ago of young woman Mahsa Amini after her arrest for flouting the strict Islamic dress code.

Dozens of Iranian public figures, athletes and artists have displayed solidarity with the protesters – but not the national soccer team, until Monday’s match when all team members remained silent when the national anthem was played.

Iranian state television did not show the players lined up for the anthem before the match got under way in Qatar, just across the Gulf from their homeland.

The Iranian squad could not avoid being overshadowed by the anti-government unrest that has rattled Iran‘s Shi’ite Muslim theocracy, while other World Cup teams were squarely focused on their tactics on the pitch.

Ahead of the match, no Iranian player had voiced support for the demonstrations by compatriots from all walks of life, one of the most sustained challenges to the cleric elite since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

Why isn't the England football team protesting about playing Iran?
One might compare to the protests if England were to face Israel in a match. Almost guaranteed would have been showy displays of solidarity with the Palestinians and, in the media, reminders of Israel’s “apartheid” cruelty and alleged violations of international law. Knees and all sorts would be flung all over the shop as the world used any such match as an opportunity to condemn the Jewish state.

It is therefore a neat illustration of the way both antisemitism – and misogyny – often operate: subtly, by implication and by negation. In failing to inspire anything like the noisy protests a match with Israel would, or indeed a match that begged the performance of showy anti-racist sentiment, football and the world following it is showing tacit acceptance for a country with appalling human rights and rhetoric towards Jews.

Where the former is concerned, Iran is in a different universe of bad compared to Israel – as its vicious treatment of girls and women shows. Certainly, the relative apathy to the most horrendous systemic and decades-long abuse of girls and women takes on a ghoulish glare next to the comparative vim shown after a black man in Minneapolis was killed by American police, and that would certainly be shown towards the only country in the Middle East that actually respects human rights.

As a Jewish spectator, I find it hard to avoid the fact that our team is expressing tacit acceptance of a country whose leadership consistently vows to wipe Israel and the Jews off the face of the earth. Perhaps it doesn’t help that there are no Jewish footballers in the Premier League.

But if the team were as serious about all forms of racist prejudice as their keen knee-taking suggests, one might imagine there’d be some comment about the regime’s murderous antisemitism as well. Alas not: the Jewish exception is in as full play as ever.

PreOccupiedTerritory: Iranian Women Should Shut Up And Take It by Linda Sarsour (satire)
Bad-faith critics have seized on my understated response to events in the Islamic Republic in the last month-plus, depicting my alleged silence in the face of the unrest there as an endorsement of repression of women. I am here to set the record straight, regardless of my own stance on the necessity or propriety of the hijab: I say now, to my sisters in Iran, stop protesting and cover your hair. The Ayatollahs know better than you what’s good for you and for society.

Here in the West, the #MeToo movement gave many the wrong idea that the ideals of empowerment, independence, and safety from toxic masculinity have universal application, even in societies with more… traditional assumptions. Not so! The women of Iran must put back on their hijab, get back into the home, and not leave without escort from an authorized adult male. Who knows what moral disasters might result if the women of Iran follow in the cultural footsteps of their Western sisters? They must realize the precious role that hijab represents.

I urge my sisters and colleagues on this side of the ocean, and my progressive allies in Europe, not to draw false parallels between the women’s cause here and the women’s cause under political Islam. It’s OK when Islam relegates women to a weaker, dependent role, because that’s healthy. It protects, ennobles, and dignifies women. But you cannot make that claim about the West – when Western societies do it, it’s misogynist and wrong. I hope I have made the distinction clear.

Buy the EoZ book, PROTOCOLS: Exposing Modern Antisemitism  today at Amazon!

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This blog may be a labor of love for me, but it takes a lot of effort, time and money. For over 18 years and 38,000 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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