Thursday, March 02, 2023

From Ian:

Melanie Phillips: The real threat to Israeli democracy
Universalism deems the nation to be inherently exclusive, bigoted and oppressive. National laws therefore need to be subordinate to universal principles.

When universal human rights law was created, some lawyers warned that such laws, not being anchored in any national jurisdiction, could pose a potential risk to justice.

The warning was ignored. But that is precisely why human rights law has been weaponized against Israel.

It’s why human rights NGOs have been able to position themselves as the conscience of the world, even while they maliciously defame Israelis as human rights offenders and excuse the Palestinian Arabs’ genocidal attacks.

It’s why the U.N. Human Rights Council disproportionately and unjustly targets Israel while sanitizing tyrannical regimes—some of which are even members of the council.

It’s why the Palestinian Arabs can foment vexatious actions against Israel in the International Court of Justice or the International Criminal Court.

Human rights culture has created “lawfare” against Israel, against justice and against democracy. It has transformed judges from custodians of the rule of law into perpetrators of rule by lawyers.

The threat to democracy in Israel isn’t coming from the Netanyahu government, but from the thousands in the streets. Ultimately, it’s an attack on the very idea of a nation state governed by the consent of the majority expressed through democratic laws.

That’s why it’s no surprise that these protests are being backed by the New Israel Fund, whose current attempt to bring Israel’s government down is of a piece with its relentless undermining of Israel itself.

And it’s why this battle is, in fact, the third such war over the idea of the nation in the West.

The first was Britain’s vote in 2016 to leave the European Union, when the British people voted for national independence and democracy against universalism.

The second was the election later that year of U.S. President Donald Trump, when Americans voted to restore American exceptionalism against those who sought to undermine their nation.

Now the third such convulsion has erupted on Israel’s streets as universalism challenges democracy once again, and turns language, truth and reason upside down.
Israel can't let debate drown out the red alert sirens - opinion
The current public debate in Israel is more polarized than ever before. As Jews and proud supporters of Israel, to see such turmoil in the world's only Jewish state is painful. We are extremely anxious by the way in which Israel's enemies are crowing, arming themselves with every criticism and rejoicing in our public disagreements.

As Israel's brothers and sisters abroad we make one request as non-citizens: let our disagreements strengthen us, not divide us. Respectful debate has always been our strength, from the days of the Talmud onward. But division and disunity has always been our downfall, from time immemorial.

Today, external challenges remain. Iran continues its march toward nuclear weapons while continuing its malevolent activities across the region. A further threat is the increase in Palestinian terror on Israel's streets. During our recent mission to Israel, we were all issued a timely reminder of the threats we face, as the red alert sounded and more rockets from Gaza targeted Israeli civilians.

Another increasingly deadly threat is antisemitism. The global rise of Jew-hatred is increasingly prevalent in the U.S. and Europe, on the street, on campus, and online. These threats should not only bind us together but also remind us why Israel is so important as a safe haven for all Jews.

We believe in the resilience of Israeli democracy and know that it will be able to deal with the challenges it faces. But however fervent the debate, we cannot afford to be distracted from the threat we all face. We cannot allow the debate to drown out the perpetual red alert.
Stop subsidizing the murder of Americans, Mr. President
One of those Palestinians whom the U.S. State Department keeps telling us wants a two-state solution murdered yet another Israeli, this time an American citizen. Elan Ganeles, a 27-year-old in town to attend a friend’s wedding, was shot dead by a Palestinian terrorist on a highway between Jericho and the Dead Sea.

I’m not sure how many people are aware of the number of American victims of Palestinian terror. Since 1970, at least 80 Americans have been killed and 87 wounded in Israel and the disputed territories. During that time, nearly 2,300 Israelis were murdered.

Remember the Oslo Accords, which were supposed to usher in an era of peace? You know, the agreement predicated on Yasser Arafat’s recognition of Israel and commitment to renounce “the use of terrorism and other acts of violence.”

Since Oslo, more than 1,600 Israelis have been slain. Of those, 71 have been American citizens. Another 81 have been injured. The fatalities include men, women and children as young as three months.

Mr. President, you are subsidizing these killers.
Rep. Ronny Jackson on U.S. Victim of Palestinian Terror: ‘More Blood on President Biden’s Hands’
Following the murder of an Israeli-American by Palestinian terrorists earlier this week, Texas Rep. Ronny Jackson (R-TX) blasted the Biden administration, arguing that the president had “more blood” on his hands owing to his foreign policies.

In an exclusive statement to Breitbart News on Wednesday, Jackson slammed the president for his role in funding Palestinian terrorists.

“Another heartbreaking tragedy took place and there is more blood on President Biden’s hands after Elan Ganeles, an Israeli-American citizen, was murdered by radical Palestinian terrorists in Israel,” he said.

Ganeles, a 27-year-old Columbia University graduate from West Hartford, Connecticut, was killed in a terror attack in Israel on Monday, after Palestinian terrorists opened fire at his vehicle.

While the “highly disturbing act of terrorism should be an issue of concern for every American official,” Jackson stated, the Biden administration “continues to put American interests last.”

“Since his inauguration, President Biden has signed off on more than half a billion dollars in aid to the Palestinian Authority which gets funneled to terrorists, a direct violation of the Taylor Force Act,” he added.

The Taylor Force Act, which was signed into law by former President Donald Trump, was named for an Army veteran killed by a Palestinian terrorist while visiting Israel in 2016.

Guardian 'explainer' of Israel-Palestinian conflict is as bad as you'd expect
A Guardian video “explainer” featuring Jerusalem correspondent Bethan McKernan (“Why the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is so complicated – video explainer”, March 1) is as bad as we suspected it would be.

First, we’ll begin with the errors and distortions.

McKernan tells viewers that all the goal of all the Palestinian factions in the West Bank and Gaza is merely to end the occupation, failing to note that some of those factions – such as Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad – want Israel “to end”, and reject right of a Jewish state to exist within any borders.

She refers to Hamas merely as an Islamist Movement, without noting that both its military and political wings are proscribed as terrorist groups by the British government and much of the West.

She claims that since most east Jerusalem Palestinians don’t have full Israeli citizenship, they face hardships accessing services, which is highly misleading. Such Palestinians who are permanent residents of Israel have most of the privileges that citizens have: the right to healthcare and other social benefits, the right to travel anywhere in Israel or the West Bank and the right to vote in municipal elections.

She says that Palestinians in Gaza have “the rawest deal”. Yet, while noting the difficulties faced by the population there, omitted is any mention of the hardship of living under totalitarian Hamas rule.
Guardian op-ed calls terrorists who murder Israelis 'political prisoners'
A Guardian op-ed characterised Palestinian terrorists who’ve murdered Israeli citizens as “political prisoners”. The piece (“Israeli settlers on the rampage isn’t a shock – it’s daily life for Palestinians in the West Bank”, Feb. 28) was written by Nimer Sultany, a reader in public law at Soas University of London and an Arab citizen of Israel.

Here’s the relevant sentence:
A recent example of this is the Israeli parliament’s enactment of a law, with an overwhelming majority, that empowers the interior minister to revoke the Israeli citizenship or residency status of political prisoners convicted of terror offences who receive financial aid from the Palestinian Authority.

The most widely accepted definition of “political prisoners” refers to those who detention “has been imposed in violation of one of the fundamental guarantees…in the European Convention on Human Rights and its Protocols (ECHR), in particular freedom of thought, conscience and religion, freedom of expression and information, freedom of assembly and association“.

Murdering Israeli civilians – which many of the terrorists in question are in prison for – is obviously not one of the human rights protected by the ECHR.

Elsewhere in the op-ed, the extremism of the Guardian contributor – who previously took to Twitter to defend comparisons between Israel and Nazi Germany – is evident. Though his piece is putatively about the settler violence in Huwara earlier this week, he also used the opportunity provided him by Guardian editors to demonise Israel with lies and distortions.

First, Sultany, employing the deceitful tactic used by such propagandists, blurs the distinction between Arab/Palestinian citizens of Israel and Palestinians governed by Hamas and the PA, when he writes that “Israel rules over all Palestinians between the river and the sea, does not grant them equal rights and denies millions of them the right to vote”.

This is of course absurd, as Israel doesn’t “rule” over Palestinians in Gaza, and most West Bank Palestinians are governed by the Palestinian Authority – neither of which, it should be noted, has held an election in 17 years. Further, is Sultany seriously suggesting that justice demands Palestinians in Gaza being granted the right to vote in Israeli elections?
Issa Calls on Biden To Suspend Funding to Gaza Charity After Free Beacon Report
Rep. Darrell Issa (R., Calif.) is calling on the Biden administration to suspend funding to an anti-Israel Gaza-based charity and turn over records related to the grant, following a Washington Free Beacon report that found the group works with terrorists.

Issa in a letter sent to Secretary of State Antony Blinken raised concerns about the $41,000 State Department grant, which "was made despite repeated inflammatory remarks on the international stage, and confirmed allegations of repeated, long-standing ties to Hamas."

The letter comes days after the Free Beacon reported that the State Department provided funding in September to Fares Al-Arab, a Gaza-based charity, to carry out an English-language training program for Palestinian journalists.

Fares Al-Arab worked with the Hamas government as recently as 2021 on a housing project. The charity also gave a media award to a radio network run by the Islamic Jihad Movement, honored a self-described journalist who belonged to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, hosted a press freedom event that featured a spokesman for Islamic Jihad, and co-led a human rights training course with a convicted terrorist, the Free Beacon first reported. The group has also blasted Israel as an "apartheid" regime, supports boycott campaigns against the Jewish state, and signed on to a petition that calls on the United Nations to "uncover the terrorist face" of Israel.

Fares Al-Arab told the Free Beacon that its work with terrorists is in the past and that "the group's views on Israel will not be a part of the media training program."

Issa wrote in his letter to Blinken that the group "has previously been noted to maintain historical ties and 'bilateral relations' with Hamas," which is "designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization" under U.S. law.

The congressman said this designation raises questions about whether the group "would have been eligible for the grant."

"This award must immediately be suspended pending a full and thorough review of these accusations," he added.
Any Two-State Solution Requires the Disempowerment of Hamas
Hamas regarded the Oslo Accords of 1993 as a total betrayal of the Palestinian cause. It seeks to remove Israel through armed struggle and terror, and occupy all the land "from the river to the sea." Hamas has consistently opposed a two-state solution, since one of the two states would be Israel.

World opinion fails to take account of the realities of championing a two-state solution. Any PA leader signing up to a two-state deal would be regarded as a traitor to the Palestinian cause, which is why no Palestinian leader has done so.

Even if the PA could be induced to sign such a deal, Hamas and the 40% of the Palestinian population in Gaza would never come on board. There is an uncomfortable truth that the U.S. and all genuine supporters of the two-state solution must eventually face up to. An essential prerequisite to any two-state solution would have to be the disempowerment of Hamas.
Frontrunner for Scottish leadership met with senior Hamas member
Humza Yousaf, the favorite to become Scotland’s first minister, met with a former senior Hamas commander, the U.K’s Jewish Chronicle reported Thursday.

Yousaf, 37, currently Scottish health secretary for the Scottish National Party, arranged the high-level meeting with Hamas leader Mohammad Sawalha, whose nom de guerre is Abu Obada.

Yousaf, then 22, was working as a parliamentary assistant for Scotland’s first Muslim Scottish member of Parliament, Bashir Ahmad. At the same time, Yousef, along with his cousin Osama Saeed, was running the Scottish Islamic Foundation (SIF).

Sawalha’s history was public knowledge, the Jewish news site reported. The BBC in 2006 identified him as having “masterminded much of Hamas’ political and military strategy.”

Before emigrating to the U.K., Sawalha was Hamas’s “military” chief in Judea and Samaria.

Nevertheless, a meeting took place with a Scottish National Party cabinet minister and government officials at the Scottish Parliament in 2008.

Sawalha attended the meeting at Holyrood, a palace used for state occasions, as a representative of Islam Expo, an event funded by a £2 million grant from Qatar and held in London in 2006 and 2008.

Attending the expos run by Sawalha were Sheikh Qazi Hussain Ahmed, a Pakistani politician who had praised the Taliban as “just and honorable men,” and Jenny Tonge, then a Liberal Democrat member of the British Parliament, who said the U.S. Jewish lobby was “making all political parties obey the will of Israel.”
Feds arrest Michigan man who plotted to kill Jewish elected officials
The FBI coordinated with local authorities in mid-February to arrest a heavily armed man who had threatened to kill all Jewish elected officials in Michigan on social media, according to a recently unsealed criminal case.

The man appears to have been a former employee of the University of Michigan.

Jack Eugene Carpenter III, a resident of Tipton, Michigan, had tweeted on Feb. 17 that he was “heading back to Michigan now threatening to carry out the punishment of death to anyone that is jewish in the Michigan govt if they don’t leave, or confess,” according to the FBI’s affidavit. There are several prominent Jewish elected officials in the state, including Attorney General Dana Nessel, US Rep. Elissa Slotkin and a handful of state senators and representatives.

Suspect charged with transmitting threat across state lines
Carpenter has been charged with transmitting an interstate threat, for which he could receive up to five years in federal prison, and is being held without bail in a federal court in Detroit, according to local reports. He was in Texas when he made the tweets, the FBI said.

On a Twitter account the FBI linked to Carpenter, he claimed to be a former employee of the University of Michigan who “was fired for refusing to take experimental medication,” apparently referring to the COVID-19 vaccine. The University of Michigan has more than 6,500 Jewish students, according to Hillel International.

“Probable cause exists that” Carpenter’s Twitter account “made threats to cause injury and death to Jewish members of the Michigan government,” FBI Special Agent Sean Nicol wrote in the Feb. 18 affidavit.
Caroline Glick: What the Battle Over Judicial Reform in Israel Is Really About
Herzog's proposal involved fewer limits on the Court's powers than the government's proposal. But his intervention was important—indeed, it was decisive—for three main reasons.

First, Herzog's proposal is predicated on both recognition and opposition to the fact that today, Israel's Supreme Court has no checks on its power whatsoever. To restore and safeguard Israel's democracy, the Israeli Supreme Court must cease to operate as a self-perpetuating judicial oligarchy.

Second, Herzog's proposal recognizes the fundamental legitimacy of the political Right. Knesset opposition leader Yair Lapid and his partners have so far refused to follow suit; as far as they are concerned, the Israeli people's vote last fall to restore Netanyahu to power was no more than an arbitrary moment, and far less legitimate than the unmoving positions of the nation's ruling elite.

Finally, Herzog's intervention gave cover to leftist politicians and luminaries who, like him, are willing to work with the Netanyahu government to reach a workable compromise on legal reform. Despite public denials by various opposition politicians, following Herzog's speech, prominent leftists have been meeting behind the scenes with Justice Minister Yariv Levin, Chairman of Knesset Law, Constitution, and Justice Committee Simcha Rothman, and their advisors, in order to bridge differences.

And those differences are not all that large. Nearly every single leading politician on the Left—including Lapid himself—has put forward a program of judicial reform similar to the Netanyahu government's plan. Back in 1994, Herzog's father, then-President Chaim Herzog, also called for constraining judicial power.

At the end of the day, the fight over judicial reform in Israel isn't about judicial reform at all. It is about the radical Left, and its refusal to accept the validity of democratic outcomes when its side loses. The Netanyahu government will win because, despite the fact that the radicals have taken over the leftist ecosystem, enough old-left Zionists are still around to work with their counterparts on the Zionist Right and cut a deal.
Sara Netanyahu Freed by Police after Protesters Trap Her in Hair Salon
Sara Netanyahu, the wife of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, had to be rescued by hundreds of police on Wednesday night after being trapped for hours by anti-judicial reform protesters in Tel Aviv.

The incident began when protesters identified Sara Netanyahu entering a hair salon. Thousands of protesters converged on the scene, shouting “she won’t be allowed to leave the barber shop” and “shame.”

Police first blocked the entrance to the hair salon the premier’s wife was in to prevent protesters from entering, while mounted officers were called to the scene to reinforce the perimeter. Clashes broke out between the protesters and police.

Security forces were able to extract her from the site at around 11 p.m.

While the incident was still ongoing, Prime Minister Netanyahu condemned the protesters on Twitter: “The anarchistic activists under the leadership of [opposition leader Yair] Lapid continue to cross red lines. They are currently harassing and threatening my wife in Tel Aviv. I call on Lapid and the opposition to stop this immediately and condemn this shameful, unprecedented act.”

Breaking with Netanyahu, ex-US envoy Friedman pushes back against judicial overhaul
Former US president Donald Trump’s ambassador to Israel David Friedman has joined the long list of critics against the plan by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government to overhaul the judiciary.

During an on-stage interview at a confab organized by the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations last week, Friedman — who is one of Netanyahu’s most ardent backers in the Republican party — took particular issue with the coalition’s legislative effort to allow the Knesset to override decisions made by the Supreme Court. “That to me is offensive to my idea of how courts should work,” he said.

Friedman went even further in his criticism during a private session held at another conference organized by a pair of conservative think tanks last week.

The event featured a speech by Religious Zionism MK Simcha Rothman, the chair of the Knesset’s Constitution Law and Justice Committee and one of the overhaul’s key architects. Rothman sought to convince those in the room of the legitimacy of the government’s proposals, arguing that they would make Israel’s judicial system more similar to that of the US.

At one point, Friedman raised his hand to speak and used the opportunity to rebut Rothman’s claim, according to the Axios news site which first reported on the comments Wednesday.

“You compare this to the US, but it doesn’t work like that in our system,” he told Rothman to applause from dozens in the room.
PM Netanyahu addresses Israeli public amid civil unrest
Prime Minister Netanyahu addresses the public after a 'national day of disruption,' and unprecedented protests in Tel Aviv. i24NEWS correspondents in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem bring us the latest from the ground.

Plus, former IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. (Res.) Dan Halutz joins us in studio. An outspoken voice in the protest movement, he defends the Israeli reservists who say they will refuse their voluntary service.

i24NEWS talks judicial reform with Likud MK Danny Danon
Likud MK Danny Dannon says the scenes from protests in Tel Aviv are 'unacceptable' and that he is open to discussion with the opposition amid nationwide civil unrest over the proposed judicial overhaul

Palestinian Terror Claims an American Victim
Elan Ganeles was one of three civilians killed by jihadists this week. The editors of the New York Sun comment:
The funeral . . . in Israel of Elan Ganeles is a moment to reflect on the intimacy in which America and Israel—and our city—are linked. An American graduate of Columbia University, Ganeles, a native of Connecticut, according to wire and other reports, was killed [on Monday] by terrorists who shot him at close range. The terrorists then burned their car and fled on foot to Jericho, which is governed by the Palestinian Authority.

Ganeles had attended the Hebrew Academy at West Hartford and was graduated from the Hebrew High School of New England. While a student at Columbia, according to the wires and other reports, he worked as a geospatial analyst at the university’s Center for International Earth Science. He’d served in the IDF for two years and was living at Manhattan. He’d returned to Israel for a friend’s wedding, only to be shot while in a car.

Yet we note that the murder has received scant coverage in the press, whose focus has fallen away from the human dimension of the terror attacks in Israel.

Thousands attended Ganeles’s funeral in the city of Ra’anana, many if not most of whom had not known him personally.
UN holds 3rd Security Council meeting as West Bank tension boil over
Loay Al-Shareef joins Col. (Res.) Grisha Yakubovich to break down Israeli-Palestinian violence in the West Bank and international calls for an end it.

The Israel Guys: We Went Inside the Palestinian Village of Huwarrah
We drove into the location of Sunday’s terror attack in the Palestinian village of Huwarah to show you what really happened. Did the Israeli “settlers” burn the village to the ground? Was this a pogrom, like the media is saying it was? (Joshua did get a rock thrown at his car. . .)

Find out the truth on today’s adventure show, as we take you right to the spot where everything went down!

US prods Netanyahu to condemn Smotrich ‘incitement’ after call to wipe out Huwara
The US on Wednesday said Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich’s call to “wipe out” the Palestinian town of Huwara “amounts to incitement to violence” and urged Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to disavow the comments by his senior coalition partner, the latest member of his cabinet to grapple with Washington.

“These comments were irresponsible. They were repugnant. They were disgusting,” US State Department spokesman Price said, upon being asked about Smotrich’s comments during a press briefing. “Just as we condemn Palestinian incitement to violence, we condemn these provocative remarks that also amount to incitement to violence.”

Smotrich told a panel discussion earlier in the day that “I think the village of Huwara needs to be wiped out. I think the State of Israel should do it.” The comments came amid an outpouring of shock and horror in Israel and abroad after hundreds of settlers ransacked the Palestinian town of Huwara and surrounding villages Sunday night, setting dozens of buildings and vehicles on fire, in revenge for a terror attack in which Israeli brothers driving through the town were gunned down hours earlier. One Palestinian man was killed and hundreds more were injured during the rampage, which Israel’s top general in the West Bank referred to as a “pogrom.”

The US condemnation pointed to a further escalation of frustration in Washington with Israel days after the Biden administration expressed its outrage over the deadly rioting, and called on Israel to prosecute the perpetrators and compensate the dozens of Palestinians whose property was destroyed.

“We call on Prime Minister Netanyahu and other senior Israeli officials to publicly and clearly reject and disavow these comments,” Price added Wednesday. As of the end of the day, no member of the Israeli cabinet had done so.
Smotrich clarifies call to ‘wipe out’ Huwara, says state must exact ‘heavy price’ for terrorism
Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich clarified on Wednesday remarks he made calling for the Palestinian village of Huwara to be “wiped out” in response to a deadly terrorist attack that killed two Israelis on Sunday.

“To avoid any doubt, I did not intend to suggest erasing the village of Huwara; rather, to act in a focused manner against the terrorists and supporters of terrorism within it, and to exact a heavy price from them in order to restore security to the residents of the area,” tweeted Smotrich.

During a panel discussion earlier on Wednesday, Smotrich had said that Huwara “needs to be wiped out,” adding, “I think the State of Israel should do this and not—God forbid—private citizens.”

In response, U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price described the remarks as “disgusting,” and called on Israel’s government to repudiate them.

“I want to be very clear about this. These comments were irresponsible. They were repugnant. They were disgusting,” said Price. “And just as we condemn Palestinian incitement to violence, we condemn these provocative remarks that also amount to incitement to violence,” he added. “We call on Prime Minister [Benjamin] Netanyahu and other senior Israeli officials to publicly and clearly reject and disavow these comments,” said Price.

5 Druze charged with kidnapping Palestinians in revenge for teen’s body-snatching
Five Druze Israeli men were charged on Thursday with kidnapping three Palestinian laborers in November in a revenge attack, after the body of a Druze Israeli teen was snatched by terrorists from a hospital in the West Bank.

According to a joint statement by the Shin Bet security agency and Israel Police, the five men from the northern Druze town of Yarka were detained in the months since the incident, and were accused of kidnapping, assaulting, and threatening the three Palestinians at gunpoint, as the body of Tiran Fero was being held in Jenin.

The statement named the suspects as Ali Fathi Atallah, 20, Kareem Yousef Salim Atallah, 23, Wal Fahri Muhammed Atallah, 21, and two unnamed men who were minors at the time of the incident.

The alleged attack occurred in the early morning hours of November 24, shortly before the body of Fero, from the Druze-majority town of Daliyat al-Karmel, was returned to his family.

The kidnapping of Fero infuriated the Druze community in Israel. Several members of the community on social media threatened that if Fero’s body was not returned quickly, they would attempt to enter Jenin and retrieve it themselves.

According to law enforcement officials, the five decided to carry out the kidnapping after hearing about Fero.

US condemns Abbas’s call for Palestinian forces to ‘confront’ Israeli military
The United States took Palestinian Authority chief Mahmoud Abbas to task on Wednesday for calling on his security forces to confront Israeli military personnel conducting counter-terrorism raids in Judea and Samaria.

“We call on the Palestinian Authority, including President Abbas, to clearly condemn terrorism against Israelis and terrorism in all its forms,” said U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price. “The Palestinian Authority and Israel should be leaning into security cooperation with each other at such a time. That is in the interests of both Palestinians and Israelis. It’s very consistent with what the parties agreed to at Aqaba,” he added.

The comments came after a P.A. official, Azzam al-Ahmad, was quoted by Israeli media as saying: “It’s not a secret that President Abbas instructed the Palestinian security forces not to hesitate to confront the occupation army [IDF] and the herds of settlers if they continue with the incursions on our land.

“We stress the importance of the national resistance,” added al-Ahmad.

Price was referring to Sunday’s security meeting in Aqaba, Jordan, during which Israel and the P.A. affirmed the need to “commit to de-escalation on the ground.”

Abbas’ advisor: The Western Wall is exclusively Islamic - according to Allah
PA Supreme Shari’ah Judge Mahmoud Al-Habbash: “Islam is truth that is indivisible… The rights are indivisible – Give me 60% or 70% of my rights, and tell me: ‘That’s it, that’s yours, take it.’ Perhaps temporarily, yes. [But] strategically, no! … Our rights are non-negotiable. They want to negotiate over Jerusalem and the Al-Aqsa Mosque – then by Allah, it is better [to be dead] in the belly of the earth than to be on its surface... There is no negotiation on one millimeter of the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque, including the Al-Buraq Wall (i.e., the Western Wall of the Temple Mount), which is an exclusive permanent Islamic waqf according to Allah's decree… This is our right, and whoever fights us over our right is an oppressor, and it is a duty to resist (i.e., fight) the oppressors.” [Official PA TV, Jan. 20, 2023]

Mahmoud Al-Habbash also serves as Chairman of the Supreme Council for Shari'ah Justice and PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas’ Advisor on Religious Affairs and Islamic Relations.

The Al-Buraq Wall – Islam's Prophet Muhammad is said to have ridden during his Night Journey from Mecca to "al aqsa mosque", i.e., "the farthest mosque" (Quran, Sura 17), and there tied his miraculous flying steed named Al-Buraq to a "stone" or a "rock." (Jami` at-Tirmidhi, Book 47, Hadith 3424). In the 1920's, Arab Mufti Haj Amin Al-Husseini decided to identify the Western Wall of the Temple in Jerusalem as that "rock" or "stone," and since then Muslims refer to the Western Wall as the "Al-Buraq Wall."

A waqf is an inalienable religious endowment in Islamic law. Palestinians define all of Israel as waqf, and thereby Israel exists on Islamic holy land. Palestinian leaders have explained that under Islamic law Muslims are commanded to free the waqf from non-Muslims.

The sermon was broadcast from a mosque in Ramallah.

MEMRI: Gaza Conference Attended By Senior Hamas Officials Glorifies 'Abdullah 'Azzam, Mentor Of Al-Qaeda Founder Osama Bin Laden, Urges Teaching His Ideology And Writings
On November 24, 2022, the Palestinian Clerics Association, which is identified with Hamas, held a conference in Gaza to mark the 33rd anniversary of the death of Palestinian terrorist 'Abdullah 'Azzam. A member of the Muslim Brotherhood, 'Azzam started his military career in Jordan in the late 1960s as the commander of armed groups that carried out terror against Israel. Subsequently he became a major ideologue of global jihad and the mentor of Al-Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden.

The opening session of the conference was attended by Hamas officials, among them Mahmoud Al-Zahhar, a member of Hamas' political bureau. In addition, Hamas political bureau chief Ismai'l Haniya addressed the conference in a recorded speech that was aired on Hamas' Al-Aqsa TV and was shown at the conference. In his speech Haniya glorified 'Abdullah 'Azzam, describing him as "a knight of jihad and resistance against the enemies of Allah," whom Allah had honored with martyrdom, the "the greatest goal that a man seeks." Haniya also noted that, in its early days, the Hamas military wing, the 'Izz Al-Din Al-Qassam Brigades, was known as the 'Abdullah 'Azzam Brigades.[1] 'Abdullah 'Azzam's son Huthaifa, who resides in Jordan, also addressed the conference, praising his father's commitment to jihad.[2]

At the conclusion of the conference the participants released a closing statement which recognizes Azzam's great influence on the founding of Hamas. The statement stresses his love of jihad fighting and quotes him as saying, "Jihad is the path of shari'a [i.e. the path prescribed by Islamic law], which the Islamic nation must adopt and adhere to in order to liberate the lands that were stolen by the enemies and especially [the lands of] Palestine." The statement also includes a list of recommendations for commemorating 'Azzam, instilling his ideology in the younger generation and teaching his writings.

This is not the first time that senior Hamas officials and others identified with Hamas have praised senior members of Al-Qaeda. [3]

Lebanese supermarkets begin marking prices in US dollars as local currency tanks
Supermarkets in Lebanon started pricing items in US dollars on Wednesday instead of the nose-diving local currency, after a government announcement allowing the practice in a country heavily reliant on imports.

Since late 2019, Lebanon has been facing a dramatic economic crisis that has seen poverty rates climb to reach more than 80 percent of the population, according to the United Nations.

The local currency, now officially pegged at 15,000 to the greenback, was trading Wednesday at almost 90,000 to the dollar, compared to 60,000 in late January.

An AFP photographer said a large supermarket chain in Beirut had begun displaying prices in dollars on Wednesday, while the exchange rate of 89,000 pounds was displayed on a screen at the entrance.

Domestically produced fruit and vegetables were still priced in the local currency.
MEMRI TV Videos: Lebanese Academic: War Is Still A Main Possibility If U.S. Does Not Stop Impoverishing Our People
Hizbullah-affiliated Lebanese academic Sadek Al-Naboulsi said in a February 22, 2023 show on Al-Jadded TV (Lebanon) that “striking with iron and fire” is the only way to “deter” Israel, the U.S., and their “minions” and that Hizbullah is ready to wage war if the U.S. continues its “exaggerated measures” which are impoverishing the Lebanese people. He said that Hizbullah must “use fire” against those who ”believe that a happy and comfortable life is limited to nations that normalize their relations with Israel.”

Iran's Nuclear Endgame Warrants a Change in U.S. Strategy
Inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency have discovered that Iran had enriched uranium to a level just shy of weapons-grade. This revelation underscores the need for a new U.S. and European policy toward Iran. Washington and its partners need to activate the "snapback" mechanism of the 2015 Iran deal (JCPOA), and governments must heighten their efforts to deter Iran through credible threats of military force.

The steps Tehran has taken look like preparations to quickly build nuclear weapons. Iran has: expanded its stockpile of enriched uranium, put more centrifuges in operation, enhanced the efficiency of its centrifuges, increased the number of enrichment sites, experimented with enriching to high levels in a single step rather than multiple steps, transferred high-enriched uranium to a site in Isfahan capable of turning uranium hexafluoride gas into metal (a key step in weapons manufacture), and obstructed nuclear inspectors.

Iran's enrichment to 84% serves as a trial balloon to determine how the U.S., Europe, and Israel will react to it crossing the weapons-grade threshold. Tehran will undoubtedly be watching whether these states are ready to act or looking for excuses to avoid doing so, and whether their response is coordinated or marked by infighting. Whatever its intentions, Tehran may have unwittingly done the U.S. and its partners a favor with its latest move: dispelling the illusory notion that the nuclear issue could be "parked."

The Iranian regime must be disabused of any notion that it now has a window of impunity for producing nuclear weapons. The U.S. and the E3 should exercise the JCPOA's snapback provision on international sanctions to send a powerful diplomatic message that they are unified. At the same time, the U.S. should provide Israel with the materiel it requires to act independently against Iran - for example, tanker aircraft for aerial refueling - with advance U.S.-Israel agreement on the triggers for attacking nuclear sites with said equipment.
America Should Follow Israel's Lead on Iran
For years, Iran's missiles and drones have terrorized the Middle East and, more recently, Ukraine. With its attacks on multiple Iranian military interests, Israel appears to be the only country consistently and proactively countering Tehran's threats to regional and global security. Since 2015, Israel has launched over 400 airstrikes to degrade the capabilities of Iran and its partner militias and prevent Tehran from proliferating precision weaponry. These include 350 in Syria, over 50 in Lebanon, four in Iran, and one in Iraq. Moreover, Israel is the only country now hindering the flow of Iranian drones into Russia's hands.

In the two years since President Biden took office, there have been 80 attacks on U.S. troops or contractors in Iraq and Syria, with Iranian-backed groups firing 170 rockets and launching 60 drones. Yet the U.S. has launched only three rounds of airstrikes on Iranian-backed militias in Iraq and Syria.

Working with Israel, the U.S. should publicly adopt a policy similar to Israel's to deter and thwart Iranian attacks and weapons proliferation by using consistent, preemptive military force. The U.S. should expedite the delivery of KC-46A aircraft refueling tankers to Israel that would be critical should it become necessary for Israel to strike Iran's nuclear facilities. The Pentagon should also replenish its war reserve stockpile in Israel to preposition the precision-guided munitions that Israel would need in a full-scale war with Iran and Hizbullah.

The U.S. should be closely partnering with Israel to degrade Iranian capabilities more broadly. Israel has developed a model for directly combating Iranian aggression that America should firmly endorse.

Congress Calls for Sanctions on Iran's Parliament
A bipartisan coalition in Congress is pressuring the Biden administration to sanction nearly all of Iran’s parliament amid the government’s crackdown on anti-regime protesters.

Out of 290 members of Iran’s parliament, 227 should be sanctioned for providing the legal framework for Tehran’s security forces to murder, torture, and imprison dissidents who have been protesting across Iran for months, according to a group of 26 representatives and senators from both parties.

"The Islamic Republic of Iran lacks democratic legitimacy, and the members of its parliament are not true democratic representatives of the Iranian people," the lawmakers, led by Rep. Claudia Tenney (R., N.Y.) and Sen. Marco Rubio (R., Fla.), wrote in a letter sent Wednesday to the State and Treasury Departments. "We urge you to take further actions—and encourage international partners to join us—to impose much clearer costs on the Iranian regime for the execution of protesters."

The letter is a sign that lawmakers from both parties are frustrated with the Biden administration’s response to the anti-regime protest movement, which began in September of last year and threatens to topple Iran’s clerical ruling regime. While the Biden administration has issued sanctions in response to the protest movement, it also has kept the door open to diplomacy with Tehran over the 2015 nuclear deal.

"We strongly encourage the Departments of State and the Treasury to levy further sanctions against Iranian officials and institutions involved in this brutal campaign of intimidation and extermination," the lawmakers wrote.
Israel slams dangerous docking of two Iranian warships in Brazil
Israel warned Brazil that it was dangerous to allow two Iranian warships to dock in Rio de Janeiro, noting that their presence in the southern Atlantic Ocean was a "dangerous and regretful development.”

“It is still not too late to order the ships to leave the port," the Foreign Ministry stated Thursday in a sharply worded statement.

The ships are part of the Iranian navy which works with the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps fleet, which is a designated terror entity by the United States, the Foreign Ministry said.

The Biden administration had specifically issued sanctions against the ships and their geographical location in Latin America places them just one continent away from the US shores.

US State Department spokesman Ned Price said Wednesday that the Biden administration wanted to make sure that the “IRGC – that Iran more broadly is not able to acquire a foothold, is not able to take advantage of others in this hemisphere."
British navy seizes Iranian boat carrying missiles, parts for Yemen rebels
The British navy seized anti-tank missiles and fins for ballistic missile assemblies during a raid on a small boat heading from Iran likely to Yemen, authorities said Thursday, the latest such seizure in the Gulf of Oman.

The seizure by the Royal Navy comes after other seizures by French and US forces in the region as Western powers increase their pressure on Iran, as it now enriches uranium closer than ever to weapons-grade levels. It also comes as regional and international powers try to find an end to the yearslong war gripping Yemen, the Arab world’s poorest country, and as Iran arms Russia in its war on Ukraine.

The raid took place Feb. 23 after an American aircraft detected a small boat heading from Iran, with a helicopter from the Royal Navy frigate HMS Lancaster giving chase to the vessel, the British Defense Ministry said. The boat tried to reenter Iranian territorial water, but was stopped before it could.

Inside the boat, British troops found Russian 9M133 Kornet anti-tank guided missiles, known in Iran as “Dehlavieh,” the US Navy’s Mideast-based 5th Fleet and the British navy said. Those weapons have been seen in other seizures suspected to be from Iran and bound for Yemen.

Also on board were small fins that the US Navy identified as jet vanes for medium-range ballistic missiles. Iranian components have helped build a missile arsenal for Yemen’s Houthi rebels, who have held the country’s capital, Sanaa, since 2014.
Iran-run school exposed by JC referred to extremism unit
The London school whose children sang in an Iranian propaganda video that alluded to a myth about massacring Jews has been referred to the Department for Education (DfE) Counter-Extremism Division, the JC has learnt.

It follows a damning report on the school published last month by education watchdog Ofsted that rated it as “inadequate”, adding that its safeguarding policies and practice were “not effective”.

The JC revealed in November that children at the Islamic Republic of Iran Primary School in northwest London, a short walk from numerous synagogues, had been filmed singing a propaganda song called Hello Commander.

In the film, they pledged to join a mythical band of 313 warriors in an apocalyptic conflict against the infidels, when, according to the Iranian regime’s ideology, a great leader known as the Mahdi will return to Earth after a 1,200-year absence and Israel will be obliterated and Jews killed.

The song has been highly praised by Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. His government owns the school and it is understood that most of its 110 pupils are the children of Iranian diplomats and regime officials.

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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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