Monday, February 06, 2023

From Ian:

Seth Frantzman: How Israel's experience with search and rescue can help Turkey - explainer
Israel has decades of experience in providing aid in the wake of earthquakes and natural disasters. It has provided support after earthquakes in Greece in 1953, in Mexico in 1985, and in Armenia, Greece and Turkey in the 1990s. More recently, Israel has also provided aid in India, Sri Lanka, Haiti, Nepal and Mexico.

One of the reasons that Israel is equipped to help in these disaster situations is because it has experts in search and rescue due to its own long experience having to deal with threats of conflict and natural disasters, including possible earthquakes.

The Jerusalem Post has, in the past, interviewed a number of members of Israelis who were involved in search and rescue efforts over the years, including members of Israel’s Home Front Command’s search and rescue unit. That report was published in 2021 in an article in the Post's Magazine called 'Saving Lives: Israel's search and rescue teams on frontlines worldwide.' Here are some key takeaways from that article and what it may mean for today's efforts in Turkey.

Israeli rescue efforts in Haiti
Israel assisted efforts after the massive earthquake in Haiti in 2020 after a large percentage of the city of Port au-Prince were either destroyed or damaged in the quake. This meant that any team arriving not only had to go around the destroyed area to search for survivors under collapsed buildings but that they also had to assist the high number of newly homeless and displaced people.

One key issue for those responding from international delegations is that there are opportunities for shared work, such as between experienced teams from the US, Israel and other places.

Key points learned from Haiti were the need to have information on the ground and locals who can assist. Having the necessary speed to set up a field hospital or other facilities is important, as is getting the right permissions, coordination and equipment. During the mission in Haiti, Israel established an operation on a soccer field near the airport.

Israel assisted more than a thousand patients in Haiti. An article in the New England Journal of Medicine based on Israel’s experience there noted that “the government of Israel dispatched a military task force consisting of 230 people: 109 support and rescue personnel from the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Home Front Command and 121 medical personnel from the IDF Medical Corps Field Hospital. The force's primary mission was to establish a field hospital in Haiti.”
Over 2,300 killed as 7.8 magnitude earthquake rips through Turkey, Syria
A massive 7.8-magnitude earthquake centered in southern Turkey killed more than 2,300 people combined in that country and Syria early on Monday, toppling buildings and causing shockwaves felt across the region, including Cyprus, Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan, Iraq and Israel.

Emergency medical services in Turkey and Syria said that the death toll was expected to rise in both countries as hundreds of people potentially remained trapped under collapsed structures.

The quake struck just after 4 a.m. local time, 23 kilometers (14.3 miles) east of Nurdagi, Gaziantep Province, at a depth of 17.9 kilometers (11.1 miles), and was followed just over 10 minutes later by a 6.7 magnitude aftershock, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

Just before 1 p.m. local time another powerful 7.5 magnitude quake struck 4 kilometers (2.5 miles) southeast of Ekinözü, Turkey, at a depth of 10 kilometers (6.2 miles), said the USGS.

Israelis reported feeling both tremors in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and throughout the North.

“On behalf of all citizens of Israel, I send condolences to the citizens of Turkey at this difficult time following the earthquake that struck our region. At the request of the Turkish government, I have instructed all the authorities to immediately prepare for the provision of medical and search and rescue assistance,” said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday.

“A request was also received to do this for the many who were injured in the earthquake in Syria,” added the premier, and therefore he “instructed that this be done as well.”
Operation Olive Branch: IDF launches rescue op after deadly Turkey earthquake
In the coming hours, 150 IDF rescue personnel will take off to Turkey to assist with the earthquake disaster response as part of Operation Olive Branch.

IDF Home Front Command foreign rescue chief Col. Golan Voch told a briefing of military reporters on Monday night, “We are ready to leave in the coming hours. We are a special small rescue staff of 150 specialists.”

But he said, “This is not the first Home Front Command foreign rescue mission. This is the thirty-first mission in 40 years.”

"A great opportunity to help our neighbors"
“We have the great opportunity to help our neighbors after hundreds of them were killed and thousands have been injured. This is a great disaster. We also have not experienced anything like this [recently] - the last big earthquake was 13 years ago. We will do everything we can to save Turkish citizens,” said Voch.

Next, Voch said, “Our intelligence has selected three locations where we can optimize our assistance.” All three locations are four hours or less from the airport.

Further, he said, “Our intelligence knows how to carry out excellent work and when we land [in Turkey], it will be clearer which areas we are servicing.”

The IDF colonel stated, “We are defined as an international search and rescue advisory group. Our size is viewed as significant. We are made up of one-third intelligence and logistics and two-thirds specialists in rescue, medical attention and engineering – so we have an operational focus.”

Asked if the IDF would set up a field hospital, Voch responded that the IDF could do so, but that so far the rescue team that is being sent is exactly what Turkey requested.

Massive earthquake in Turkey shakes eastern Mediterranean region

Syria appeals to Israel for help via Russia following devastating earthquake
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime sent Israel a “near unprecedented” appeal for aid following the severe earthquake that hit the country on Monday.

Israel received the request through Russia.

The 7.8-magnitude earthquake centered in southern Turkey killed more than 2,300 people, according to the latest numbers. Of those, at least 771 dead and more than 1,000 injured were in Syria. In the areas under the control of Assad’s regime, 371 deaths were reported.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu confirmed that Israel will help Syria, as well as Turkey.

“I have instructed to send, at the request of the Turkish government, rescue teams and medical aid…. Since a request was also received for many victims of the earthquake in Syria, I have instructed that [aid for them to be extended] as well,” Netanyahu said.

The prime minister noted that Israel helps in emergency situations across the world, and would certainly act similarly in its own region.

The aid that will be transferred to Syria will be in the form of humanitarian supplies such as medicine, tents and blankets. However, unlike with Turkey, where two aid delegations will be sent, no delegation will enter Syrian territory.

The IDF sent a 150-strong delegation to Turkey, including regular and reserve troops who specialize in providing emergency rescue services. The delegation, which was slated to arrive in Turkey Monday night, is being headed by Col. (res.) Golan Vach, commander of the IDF National Rescue Unit.
In first, Israel poised to officially partake in Syrian relief efforts following deadly quake
A powerful 7.8 magnitude earthquake hit southern Turkey and northern Syria early Monday, toppling hundreds of buildings and killing at least 1500 people. Hundreds were still believed to be trapped under rubble, and the toll was expected to rise as rescue workers searched mounds of wreckage in cities and towns across the area.

Hours after the enormity of the situation became clear, Israel's Foreign Ministry said it was prepared to aid Turkey. Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said Israel's security forces were ready to provide any assistance needed and Foreign Minister Eli Cohen said a swift aid program was being prepared. Israeli search and rescue teams, including the experience IDF Homefront Command units, are already undertaking the necessary steps to arrive in the affected area.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he "ordered to send, at the request of the Turkish government, rescue teams, and medical aid," adding that the rescuers will also operate in Syria "in light of requests made there." A diplomatic official confirmed that a "request from the Syrian side" has been made, paving the way for Israel's assistance, although the official did not make it clear who in Syria was in contact with Israel, and whether they represent the regime in Damascus or rebel-held areas. Regardless, if an Israeli rescue mission arrives there, it will have been the first time Israel operates publicly on Syrian soil in such a context.

President Isaac Herzog also issued a statement sending his condolences to Turkey's people. "On behalf of the Israeli people, I am deeply saddened by the enormous disaster that has befallen Türkiye following last night's earthquake. My condolences to President Erdoğan and the Turkish people for the loss of life and destruction of livelihoods," he tweeted. "The State of Israel always stands ready to assist in every way possible. Our hearts are with the grieving families and the Turkish people at this painful moment."

The EU and the UN also made a request to Israeli authorities. Currently, officials are working on figuring out the exact needs of the Turkish authorities, with a small relief team being dispatched as an advance contingent.

In Israel, while no injuries or fatalities were reported, people clearly felt the quake along the coast. Residents from Haifa in the north all the way down to Tel Aviv and Ashdod said the walls of their homes were clearly shaking.

"We were asleep but then the dog barked," Noam Amir, who lives in Kfar Yonah just north of Tel Aviv, said. "Usually, her barking means someone is at the door, but just after she had woken us up, the entire building started to move. It lasted a good few moments, long enough for me to understand that this is an earthquake, wake up my wife and kids, and then rush them to the safe rooms."

On both sides of the border, residents jolted out of sleep by the pre-dawn quake rushed outside on a cold, rainy and snowy winter night, as buildings were flattened and strong aftershocks continued.
Israel to provide Syria with blankets, tents, medicine after earthquake - report
Israel will deliver blankets, tents, and medicine to Syria, Israel's KAN news reported on Monday afternoon, according to a discussion that took place earlier among the political echelon.

This news follows a deadly earthquake in Turkey and Syria overnight in which at least 2,400 people were killed and thousands more were injured.

A senior IDF official denied any government intention to send aid to Syria.

Syria's request was relayed via Russia to Israel's National Security Council. According to an Israeli senior official, if a request is made of Israel to receive Syrian wounded and provide medical care, it will be approved.

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant has instructed the IDF and the Defense Ministry to immediately prepare to provide emergency aid through the Home Front Command's international rescue units, he said in a statement on Monday morning.

"The security forces are ready to offer whatever assistance is required," he said. "The security system has gained a lot of experience over the years in dealing with disaster areas."
Syria in state of catastrophe after devastating earthquake

Ben-Dror Yemini: There Are No Two Sides Here
No, there are no "two sides." There is no "cycle of violence." There is a Palestinian side, which is pro-Iranian or jihadist, which has no interest in reconciliation and in peace, but rather in the destruction of the Jewish state. The mythical leader of the Arabs of Palestine was a Nazi Islamist, the Mufti, Haj Amin al-Husseini, who preached the extermination of Jews. Hamas and Jihad are his successors. There is another side; the side of the Jews who were persecuted in almost every country in the world, fled or were expelled, from Europe or from Arab countries. They established a state. Throughout the years, the Jews have repeatedly extended a hand for peace, with a willingness to make far-reaching concessions. The outstretched hand was repeatedly rejected.

When the Americans killed the leader of al-Qaeda, Osama bin Laden, no one condemned "both sides." When the American army was mobilized to defeat al-Qaeda and ISIS, no one said that "the cycle of violence should be stopped."

All the violence belongs to the side that supports terrorism, that educates its children to hatred, that identifies with messages of anti-Semitism and racism.

Those who prefer Jihad over peace and reconciliation - they are the problem, even if they are portrayed as the weak side. Those who prefer rockets to welfare - they are the problem.

A few days ago there was a suicide terror attack in a mosque in Peshawar, Pakistan. Muslims murdered over 100 Muslims. The real enemy of the Muslims and the Palestinians is terrorism, Jihad and Hamas, and not those who fight them.
America First Legal Suing Biden Administration for ‘Enabling’ Palestinian Terror
In light of recent terror attacks in Israel, including the deadliest one in over a decade, conservative law group America First Legal (AFL) is demanding President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s State Department end the “enabling” of Palestinian terrorism.

America First Legal (AFL), a conservative group founded by former President Donald Trump adviser Stephen Miller which aims to fight against “lawless executive actions and the Radical Left,” is pushing to hold President Biden accountable for his financing of Palestinian terrorism.

In December, Rep. Ronny Jackson (R-TX) announced his filing of a lawsuit against the current administration “to stop them from breaking the law,” after then-President Donald Trump signed the Taylor Force Act into law.

The Act, named for an Army veteran killed by a Palestinian terrorist while visiting Israel in 2016, seeks to prevent tax dollars from financing terrorism by prohibiting U.S. aid to the Palestinian Authority (PA) while it continues to pay stipends to Palestinian terrorists in Israeli prisons and families of the deceased.

Slamming the president’s “failed foreign policy,” Jackson accused Biden of “actively stabbing our greatest ally in the back,” noting that Democrats are “ecstatic” over the betrayal of the Jewish State.
This reform will end limitless power for unelected elites
Have a hundred thousand people ever come out to protest against something they think you’re responsible for? Well, I’ve got that going for me.

It’s been widely reported in the Israeli press that the somewhat contentious judicial reforms now being discussed in Israel’s Knesset – and drawing daily rebukes from various professional guilds – are entirely the work of the Kohelet Policy Forum, a staunchly pro-liberty Zionist think tank of which I am founder and chairman.

Kohelet has indeed been researching the issue of Israeli judicial reform for more than a decade and officials have frequently consulted with us and listened carefully to our recommendations, but, as much as my parents would like to believe that I secretly run the country, politicians (sometimes) politely hear me out and then do what they think is right. Ultimately, the credit and the responsibility is theirs.

But of course, we at Kohelet do support the need for serious and urgent judicial reform. In this essay, I’ll explain why, review the current governmental proposals, and consider which points are crucial and which could be modified to achieve better balance.

We seek to promote the freedom of all individuals and all communities, of whatever religion, ethnicity, sexual identity, or other affiliation. The best mechanism for achieving this goal is representative democracy, with appropriate checks and balances among the branches of government.

But what are the appropriate checks and balances among the executive, the legislature and the judiciary? The relationship between the executive and the legislature varies widely across countries with different systems of government. Our concern here is with the checks and balances between the judiciary, on the one hand, and the executive and legislature, on the other.

Reforms to Israel’s Judiciary Must Be Carefully Calibrated
The central topic of debate in Israel now is the new coalition government’s proposed reforms of the nation’s judiciary and unwritten constitution. Peter Berkowitz agrees that reform is necessary, but that “the proper scope and pace of reform, however, are open to debate and must be carefully calibrated.”

In particular, Berkowitz argues, to preserve political cohesiveness, substantial changes to the structure of the Israeli regime must earn support that extends beyond these partisan divisions.

In a deft analysis of the conservative spirit in Israel, bestselling author Micah Goodman warns in the Hebrew language newspaper Makor Rishon that unintended consequences flowing from the constitutional counterrevolution are likely to intensify political instability. When a center-left coalition returns to power, Goodman points out, it may well repeal through a simple majority vote the major changes Netanyahu’s right-wing coalition seeks to enact. Or it may use the legislature’s expanded powers, say, to ram through laws that impair the religious liberty of the ultra-Orthodox. Either way, in a torn nation, constitutional counterrevolution amplifies division.

Conservatives make a compelling case that balance must be restored to the separation of powers in Israel. A prudent concern for the need to harmonize Israel’s free, democratic, and Jewish character counsels deliberation in the pursuit of necessary constitutional reform.
South Africa Battles to Keep Israel Out of African Union Summit
While Israel was granted observer status in 2021, it's unlikely to be allowed to attend the African Union (AU) annual summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, this month. South Africa has reportedly threatened the AU Commission chairperson, Chad's Moussa Faki Mahamat, not to dare let Israel in. At the 2020 summit, the AU appointed a seven-country committee to deliberate the issue of Israel's status. This committee has never met.

Benji Shulman, director of public policy at the South African Zionist Federation (SAZF), said, "The SAZF calls on the African National Congress government to end its campaign against Israel's observer status in the AU as its participation continues to benefit the continent in a number of innovative ways." Shulman cited several recent projects to help communities across South Africa and Africa with solar energy, water, and technology, and noted that 46 of the 55 states in Africa have diplomatic relations with Israel. "Logically, Israel's entry into the organization is simply an extension of what's happening at the bilateral level."

Terence Corrigan, project manager at the Institute of Race Relations, said, "Israel's advances on the continent have been remarkable, and the doubtful value of anchoring a Middle East policy on this intractable conflict hasn't been lost on many African states. South Africa has no influence over the conflict but only stands to deprive itself of whatever benefits engagement might bring."
Ousting Ilhan Omar cause for reflection, not celebration
Last month, the Pew Research Center released its report on the religious composition of the 118th Congress. Among its findings is that despite the share of Americans identifying as Jewish remaining steady at 2%, Jews represent approximately 6% of congressional lawmakers. Among the over two dozen Jewish House members, only two, Ohio’s Max Miller and Jared Kutsoff from Tennessee, are Republicans.

These numbers represent a marked increase from the early 1960s, when Jewish participation in Congress was less than 2%. I’m always struck by the chatter in synagogue sanctuaries and at life-cycle events extolling pride at the overwhelming representation of Jews in government circles. While some pause for fulfillment is warranted, the rush to prioritize religious identity over legislative policy discounts the shifting political winds.

On Thursday, in a party-line vote of 218-211, the Republican-led House approved a resolution introduced by Rep. Miller calling for the removal of antisemitic congresswoman Ilhan Omar (D-MN) from the House Foreign Affairs Committee (HFAC). The delegation of Jewish Democrats, all of whom voted to preserve Omar’s seat on the HFAC, missed a crucial opportunity to stem the authority of a dangerous political figure and blunt the spread of antisemitism within the Democrat party.

The challenges celebrating the political rise of American Jewry
Moreover, their reluctance to favor expelling Omar, whose Jew-hating diatribes consist of repeatedly libeling Israel and invoking dual-loyalty tropes, highlights the challenges associated with celebrating the political rise of American Jewry.

In her piece “A Tale of Five Blinkens” in Commentary magazine (February 2021), author Ruth Wisse delineates the Jewish generational phenomenon undermining issues critical to Jewish identity. Wisse writes about Maurice Blinken, grandfather to current US Secretary of State Antony Blinken. Maurice came to New York from Russia as a child and founded the American Palestine Institute.

Israel captures terror cell behind attempted mass shooting near Jericho
Israeli security forces on Sunday night arrested the terrorist cell responsible for an attempted mass shooting at a restaurant near Jericho last month, according to the Israel Defense Forces.

Israeli forces came under fire during the arrest raid in Aqbat Jaber, a refugee camp just south of Jericho, and returned fire, killing an unspecified number of gunmen, the IDF said in a statement.

It was the second raid in as many days, after Israeli forces failed to locate the cell during an operation on Saturday. Israeli forces came under fire during Saturday’s operation as well, and several Palestinian gunmen were neutralized, according to the statement. Eighteen suspects were detained for questioning, six of whom were arrested.

On Jan. 28, two armed men armed with an assault rifle and bulletproof vests approached the Me Casa Restaurant near the Israeli town of Vered Yericho, but managed to fire only a single shot before their weapon jammed, the IDF said.

The IDF, in conjunction with the Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet), launched a manhunt, tracking the terrorists to Aqbat Jaber, which lies just to the north of Vered Yericho, where they were believed to be hiding with the help of local residents and family members, and planning additional attacks.

MEMRI: International Union Of Muslim Clerics (IUMS) Member: The Jerusalem Terrorist Who Killed Seven Civilians Is A 'Hero' And A 'Role Model'; The Quran Explicitly Calls To Wage Jihad For The Sake Of Allah
Egyptian scholar Dr. 'Atiyya 'Adlan, a member of the International Union of Muslim Clerics (IUMS), which is backed by Qatar and Turkey, published an article on the union's website in which he praised Kahairi 'Alqam, the perpetrator of the January 27, 2023 shooting in Jerusalem in which seven Israeli civilians were killed. 'Adlan, who was the head of the Egyptian Salafi party Al-Islah during the Muslim Brotherhood rule in Egypt, congratulated 'Alqam for becoming a martyr and congratulated the 72 virgins who would marry him in Paradise. 'Alqam is not a terrorist but "a hero who presented a model of Palestinian resistance and of resistance against any occupation," he stated, and added that the Islamic nation needs many more like him.

'Adlan also slammed the Arab and Muslim countries that had condemned the shooting and called it an act of terror against civilians. The Israeli "settlers", he wrote, "who came from all over the world to settle on Muslim land under the protection of an army," are not innocent civilians, and neither their lives nor their property are protected according to the Islamic shari'a. He concluded by stressing that the Quran explicitly calls to wage jihad for the sake of Allah and by urging the Muslims to support the jihad fighters.

The following are translated excerpts from his article: [1]
"Who are the terrorists and who are the innocent civilians?... The media mouthpieces and the loud political mouths of the Zionist entity howled and moaned, as usual, and started applying cheap [terms] with abandon, calling the Palestinian resistance 'terrorism'! Since political whoring is one of their entrenched characteristics, they defined the usurping settlers as innocent civilians… The truth is that I am not surprised by this impudence or by [the conduct of] the pro-Zionist politicians in the West, which is hostile to Islam and the Muslims. But I was bewildered by the Arab and Islamic countries that condemned [the shooting], calling it terrorism and describing it as cruel aggression against civilians.

"Is this terror? Are these civilians?! What innocent civilians are you talking about? Those who were brought from all over the world to settle on Muslim land under the protection of an army – are they innocent civilians? Are those who stole the land and expelled its residents innocent civilians? [Are you claiming that] the usurping occupiers who are attacking the sanctities [of Islam] are innocent civilians, while those who are justly defending their rights are terrorists and extremists? What yardstick are you applying? Have you forgotten that [even] getting the Israelis to withdraw to the 1967 borders is an unattainable dream, although a return to the 1948 borders is the very least [the Palestinians] are entitled to, and a basic principle of justice? Have you forgotten that every settlement is built upon the ruins of Palestinian ancestral homes[?]…
Israel's neo-Nazism doesn’t stop at the borders of Palestine, but also threatens international peace

Palestinians create backup Facebook pages to “confront” “Facebook’s policy” against terror promotion

MEMRI: Islamic Religious Scholars From Palestine, Egypt, Sudan, Libya Meet With Afghan Taliban Government Leaders, Applaud 'Victory Of Jihadi Struggle Of Afghans'
A delegation of Islamic religious scholars from Palestine and other Muslim countries traveled to Afghanistan in January 2023 and met with senior officials from the Afghan Taliban government, including Interior Minister Sirajuddin Haqqani, who is on the FBI's Most Wanted list, deputy prime ministers, and others, according to Afghan newspapers and social media posts.[1]

The Islamic religious scholars from Egypt, Sudan, Libya, and Palestine included Mohammad Sagheer, Dr. Abdul Hayee Yusuf, Sheikh Sami Al-Saadi, Sheikh Dr. Mohammad Abdul Karim, Sheikh Maher Salem, and Sheikh Nawab Al-Takrori.

The scholars presented a model of Al-Aqsa Mosque to Sirajuddin Haqqani, who is on the FBI's Most Wanted list.

On January 6, 2023, the Islamic scholars called on the Interior Minister Sirajuddin Haqqani and lauded "the victory of jihadi struggle of Afghans" calling it a surprising epic, state-run Bakhtar News Agency (BNA) reported.[2] According to the Pashtu-language report, the Islamic scholars expressed their full support for the Taliban government in Afghanistan, saying this support was their Islamic responsibility.[3]

According to the report, Sirajuddin Haqqani, the chief of the Taliban's Haqqani Network, which has been responsible for major terror attacks on the U.S. Embassy and other NATO targets in Afghanistan, stressed unity in the Muslim world and termed unity, obedience, and honesty as the basic causes of the victory of the struggle against the U.S. and NATO forces.[4]

Islamic scholars meet with Deputy Prime Minister Abdul Ghani Baradar
Sirajuddin Haqqani thanked the religious scholars for their support and urged them to inform their respective countries and the world of the sufferings of Afghanistan so that everyone could support Afghanistan according to their capacity. During the meeting, the visiting Islamic scholars presented a replica of Al-Aqsa Mosque to the Taliban interior minister.[5]

On January 7, the delegation of scholars called on Minister For Martyrs' Affairs Mullah Abdul Majeed Akhund. Mullah Abdul Majeed Akhund urged the members of the visiting delegation to convey the voice of "this innocent segment" to the world.[6]

The delegation of Islamic scholars from Egypt, Sudan, Libya, and Palestine met and discussed education-related matters the same day with the Taliban Higher Education Minister Sheikh Nida Mohammad Nadeem, who has completely banned women from colleges and universities.[7]
How Israel Is Using Digital Diplomacy in Iran
Social media users engaged with Farsi-language digital content generated by Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs last year 450 million times - 93% were in Iran. Israel's digital diplomacy team maintains channels in more than 50 languages which reach 2 billion people each year.

The woman behind our Israel in Persian accounts on Twitter and Instagram escaped Iran as a teenager and moved to Israel where she lives today. Persian food, holidays and Farsi are core components of her identity and Iranians following @IsraelinPersian can see themselves in the content she produces. In October 2022, the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs conducted a poll inside Iran which revealed that over 70% expressed positive sentiments towards Israel.

Since the beginning of the demonstrations in September, the Israel in Persian account has evolved into an unlikely voice for the Iranian people. Content today focuses on the beatings, executions and violations perpetrated by the regime. Since the beginning of the protests, Israel's Persian-language Instagram followers surged from 400,000 to 1.1 million in the last year, while Twitter numbers rose nearly 15%.

Iranian Wrestler Defects after Backing Protests
Wrestler Mohammad Namjoo-Motlagh has represented Iran on the local and international stage, where he won medals for his homeland.

But the 26-year-old is now seeking asylum in Germany after being threatened by the Iranian authorities over his support for the ongoing anti-regime protests that have rocked the Islamic republic.

The authorities have waged a brutal crackdown on the nationwide demonstrations that erupted in September, the biggest threat to the Islamic regime in years, killing hundreds of people and arresting thousands of others.

Namjoo-Motlagh, who did not reveal how he left Iran and traveled to Europe, is the latest athlete to seek refuge in the West after failing afoul of the clerical establishment.

In an interview with RFE/RL's Radio Farda, Namjoo-Motlagh said he faced "constant threats and psychological pressure" from the Iran Wrestling Federation and other state bodies.

Iranian Protest Song ‘Baraye’ Wins Best Song For Social Change at 2023 Grammy Awards
Iranian singer-songwriter Shervin Hajipour won the Special Merit Award for Best Song For Social Change at the 2023 Grammy Awards on Sunday night for his song Baraye, which has become the unofficial anthem for the anti-government protests in Iran that started following the death of Mahsa Amini.

The new Special Merit Award, introduced this year by the Recording Academy, was presented by First Lady Jill Biden, who said “a song can unite, inspire and ultimately change the world.” She added that Baraye is “a powerful and poetic call for freedom and women’s rights.”

Baraye was originally released on Hajipour’s Instagram page in September — after Amini, 22, died while in the custody of Iran’s morality police for not wearing a proper headscarf — and was viewed more than 40 million times in less that two days.

Hajipour, 25, was arrested in Iran shortly after Baraye gained popularity among protesters in Iran.

The artist — who made it to the final round of Iran’s version of American Idol before being eliminated — is currently out of prison on bail and awaiting trial on charges that can carry up to six years in prison. He is reportedly banned from leaving the country and was thus unable to attend the Grammys.

“He was arrested but this song continues to resonate around the world with its powerful theme: women, life, freedom,” Biden said. “Congratulations Shervin, and thank you for your song.”

PreOccupiedTerritory: Iran Urges Turks, Syrians Die Rather Than Accept Earthquake Aid From Israel (satire)
Leaders of the Islamic Republic reacted to this morning’s deadly tremor along the Syrian-Turkish border by admonishing the thousands of injured, homeless, and displaced victims not to allow materials or personnel from the Jewish State into their areas in an international relief effort, the official FARS news agency announced today.

A spokesman for Ayatollah Ali Khamenei urged those affected by the 7.8-magnitude quake early Monday to reject aid from “the Zionist entity,” lest, by accepting it, the disaster victims grant legitimacy to Jewish sovereignty in the ancestral Jewish homeland. Rather, the spokesman suggested, the tens of thousands of victims must suffer and die.

“The torturous experience of starving, bleeding out, succumbing to infection, dehydrating, suffocating, freezing, or otherwise suffering from this earthquake is nothing compared to Palestine and Al Quds,” pronounced Yusufer Forarhejemeni, a senior aide to Khamenei. “The official death toll is already approaching a thousand, with the injured and displaced in the tens of thousands – it would be a powerful statement of Islamic solidarity for the victims of this disaster to show they still think of Palestine even in their lowest moments.”

Israel offered to extend aid to both Türkiye and Syria Monday, the latter a rare overture to an enemy state. Syria and Israel have officially been at war since 1948, and Syria does not recognize Israel. However, the hardest-hit areas of Syria lie outside proper control from Damascus, the result of a decade-old uprising and civil war in the Syrian Arab Republic that Türkiye and other aspiring regional and global powers, including Iran and Russia, have exploited to gain or maintain a foothold in the country. It remains unclear how the regime of Basher Assad in Damascus will handle the crisis or Israel’s offer; dozens of countries and organizations have offered help.

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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 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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