Sunday, March 12, 2023

03/12 Links: Who are the winners and losers in Iran-Saudi ties?; The ignorance of Gary Lineker; Nablus governor, PA security chiefs offer condolences to family of Huwara terrorist

From Ian:

Saudi deal with Iran worries Israel, shakes up Middle East
In Israel, bitterly divided and gripped by mass protests over plans by Netanyahu's far-right government to overhaul the judiciary, politicians seized on the rapprochement between the kingdom and Israel's archenemy as an opportunity to criticize Netanyahu, accusing him of focusing on his personal agenda at the expense of Israel's international relations.

Yair Lapid, the former prime minister and head of Israel's opposition, denounced the agreement between Riyadh and Tehran as "a full and dangerous failure of the Israeli government's foreign policy."

"This is what happens when you deal with legal madness all day instead of doing the job with Iran and strengthening relations with the US," he wrote on Twitter. Even Yuli Edelstein from Netanyahu's Likud party blamed Israel's "power struggles and head-butting" for distracting the country from its more pressing threats.

Another opposition lawmaker, Gideon Saar, mocked Netanyahu's goal of formal ties with the kingdom. "Netanyahu promised peace with Saudi Arabia," he wrote on social media. "In the end (Saudi Arabia) did it … with Iran."

Netanyahu, on an official visit to Italy, declined a request for comment and issued no statement on the matter. But quotes to Israeli media by an anonymous senior official in the delegation sought to put blame on the previous government that ruled for a year and a half before Netanyahu returned to office. "It happened because of the impression that Israel and the US were weak," said the senior official.

Despite the fallout for Netanyahu's reputation, experts doubted a detente would harm Israel. Saudi Arabia and Iran will remain regional rivals, even if they open embassies in each other's capitals, said Guzansky. And like the UAE, Saudi Arabia could deepen relations with Israel even while maintaining a transactional relationship with Iran.

"The low-key arrangement that the Saudis have with Israel will continue," said Umar Karim, an expert on Saudi politics at the University of Birmingham, noting that the Israeli occupation of the West Bank remained more of a barrier to Saudi recognition than differences over Iran. "The Saudi leadership is engaging in more than one way to secure its national security."
Seth Frantzman: Who are the winners and losers in Iran-Saudi ties?
China has clearly sought to expand its relationships in the region, and the decision by Iran and Saudi Arabia to work with China on normalization with each other is part of China becoming a diplomatic broker in the region.

Though this is a win for China, it was also a natural country to host this final step. Iran and Saudi Arabia already held talks in Baghdad about reconciliation, talks that began in 2021 and continued off-and-on with some stalls in 2022. Overall, the trajectory was clear.

Saudi Arabia had also reconciled with Qatar early in 2021, and it was rumored to be considering closer ties with Israel, a slow process that began back in 2015. The train was on the tracks for Saudi-Iran ties, all it needed was a bit of a push – which China gave

Does Israel lose out?
The potential for better Israel-Saudi ties have been a constant issue of speculation. Days before the Saudi-Iran deal was announced, there were reports in the Wall Street Journal and New York Times about Riyadh seeking security pledges from Washington as part of some kind of upgrade of ties with Israel.

Clearly, Saudi Arabia has been working on multiple policy tracks: China, Russia, the US and potentially Israel, all part of Riyadh’s new positioning of a more complex independent policy.

It’s unlikely that Iran ties will necessarily impact Israel negatively. Saudi Arabia has interests in Yemen and Lebanon, as well as in Syria and Iraq. In many ways, Saudi Arabia’s interests dovetail with Israel’s in terms of stability and not wanting Iran’s militias or proxies running these countries.

The Gulf in general is moving to reconcile with Syria, which can reduce chaos in the region. The era of war that defined the period after the Arab Spring, and the era of conflict that began decades ago with the rise of extremists, appears to be coming to some kind of a close.

The shifts in the Gulf are important for this to happen. Extremist groups have, one-by-one, been ejected by most Gulf states, except in Qatar. There is less funding for these groups; al-Qaeda and ISIS have been mostly defeated.

Stability and state-to-state relations are part of the new era. This is underpinned by big country politics and also deals that Israel has played a role in such as the Negev Summit, I2U2 and the Abraham Accords. Iran-Saudi ties can be viewed as part of that larger process of diplomacy.

As such, Israel might not lose out. Saudi Arabia can now articulate its concerns to Iran through diplomacy, rather than being at loggerheads. Countries tend to listen more than they have a way to speak and engage with one another, rather than portraying each other as enemies. New ties could reduce the Iranian threats.
IAF fighter jets, refuelers hold air drill with US forces, thought to focus on Iran
Israeli fighter jets and refueler aircraft on Sunday began a two-week air drill with the US Air Force at an airbase in Nevada, a joint activity thought to be focused on Iran, with officials saying the exercises would include long-range flights and simulate strikes in unfamiliar enemy territory.

The seven F-35I fighter jets and two Boeing 707 refueling planes of the Israeli Air Force had been arriving at Nellis Air Force Base since Wednesday, ahead of the drill, known as Red Flag 23-2.

In a statement Sunday, the Israel Defense Forces said the exercises would include a “strategic strike in the depth,” an apparent reference to a potential strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities.

Additionally, the air drills would simulate “achieving aerial superiority in the region, joint aerial strikes, area defense, interception of enemy aircraft, low-altitude flights and striking in an unfamiliar area with an abundance of anti-aircraft defenses.”

During the drill, the IAF refueler planes were to refuel American fighter jets, and Israeli fighter jets were to refuel from an American Boeing KC-46, of which Israel has ordered four and is expected to receive the first in 2025.

For Israel, the KC-46 aircraft are seen as necessary to conduct potential major strikes against targets in Iran, some 2,000 kilometers (1,200 miles) from Israel and far outside the normal flight range of Israeli jets.

Netanyahu: Opposition is interested in anarchy not democracy
Opposition to judicial reform is just an excuse to back anarchy over democracy, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday, as protests against his government’s overhaul plan continued into their tenth week.

“The reform is just an excuse,” Netanyahu said as he urged opposition politicians to hold talks with the coalition about the plan, which critics have warned will weaken the country’s democracy.

“The fact that for two whole months, the opposition has not responded to our repeated calls for talks, ‘roves that what interests the opposition is not the reform, but the creation of anarchy and the overthrow of the elected government.”

“I hope that there will be sincere, honest, patriotic people who care about the country, who are willing to talk,” Netanyahu said.

But he clarified, the government received a mandate from the public and it plans to fulfill it. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu leads a weekly cabinet meeting, March 12, 2023. (credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST) Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu leads a weekly cabinet meeting, March 12, 2023. (credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)

Opposition leader MK Yair Lapid said the offer for talks had not been genuine, as he attacked Netanyahu, stating that for him, “lying is like breathing.”

If Netanyahu, “‘offered negotiations, why do [Constitution, Law and Justice Committee chairman Simcha] Rothman and [Justice Minister Yariv] Levin continue to race with the legislation towards a coup d’├ętat?,” Lapid asked.
Ex-Federal Reserve chair Bernanke warns judicial overhaul may cause ‘tremendous damage’
Former US Federal Reserve chair Ben Bernanke warns of economic fallout from the government’s plans for upending the judiciary.

In comments to Channel 13 news, Bernanke says that as a small economy, Israel is dependent upon internal trade and investment “to grow and prosper.”

Bernanke, who last year won a Nobel Prize in economics, adds that the proposed changes will cause “tremendous damage to security of foreign investors, trading partners and Israeli entrepreneurs as a result of the sudden institutional changes that will increase uncertainty, create legal and political risks and endanger the rights of minorities.”

“To ensure that Israel’s extraordinary success continues, it must move slowly and build broad consensus regarding any significant change in the judicial system or in its system of government,” he says.

With the remarks, Bernanke joins an extended list of internationally renowned economists who have warned against the far-reaching changes to the judicial system.

Security forces’ immunity bill paused after AG warns of potential prosecution abroad
A sweeping proposal to grant Israeli security forces immunity from prosecution for their actions during operations was paused Sunday, after the attorney general warned that the bill would expose troops to foreign prosecution and pose grave dangers for the relationship between the Israeli public and law enforcement.

The bill, backed by far-right Otzma Yehudit MK Zvika Fogel, a former Israel Defense Forces general, was slated to come before a government panel later in the day to determine the coalition’s support for the measure. After Baharav-Miara issued her opinion, the bill was shelved until next week.

“This proposal significantly impedes the duty to investigate suspicions of illegal or improper use of force, a duty that is part of the protection of the rule of law and human rights in the State of Israel,” she cautioned.

Critics have warned that the legislation could expose security personnel to prosecution abroad, including at the International Criminal Court in the Hague, if the global community no longer considers Israel to have a reasonable internal justice system for dealing with accusations.

The debate over Fogel’s bill comes as the coalition is controversially pushing to upend judicial checks on political power, a separate move that critics also caution could make security personnel and politicians vulnerable to international prosecution, if Israeli rule of law is perceived to be undermined.

Julie Burchill: The ignorance of Gary Lineker
When I was a girl, footballers had a somewhat limited vocabulary. That wasn’t to say that they were seen as inferior to wordy types – on the contrary, like blind piano-tuners, they were seen as accessing a higher level of excellence in one specific realm which we Normals had no chance of achieving. Thus when they spoke of being over the moon/sick as a parrot, we accepted that their brains were in their feet and happily indulged them. Even when humble hometown heroes were succeeded by flashy feet-for-hire mercenaries from Best to Gascoigne, who were worshipped like deities, their fans wouldn’t have given tuppence for their opinions on any burning moral issues of the day, which was just as well as these idols were linked by a tendency to beat up women. Even now it’s a rare season that doesn’t see a footballer accused of rape.

When taking the knee was all the rage, was anything done to pay similar respect to the victims of femicide? Not once. But then, those who embrace the brotherhood of man often believe that this gives them a free pass to insult women, as the Ghandi of sport, Gary Lineker, was accused of last year when his response to the Lionesses historic victory was a creepy Tweet which referred to brassieres. Lineker subsequently deleted it, acknowledging the reference would likely be lost on those who hadn’t seen the game. Maybe it’s a good thing that Lineker hasn’t led the charge for women’s rights, as anything he touches with his cheese-and-oniony hands tends to end up smelling none too sweet.

He trivialised the very real evil of racism a while back when, in an interview with Jake Humphrey, he pretty much claimed to be non-white, saying that as a youngster he had endured ‘pretty much racist abuse… without being good at sport, life would have been very different for me… I think I would have been bullied at school, I was kind of marginally that way anyway because I was this tiny geeky kid, with darkish skin and I had pretty much racist abuse although I’m not, I’m as English as they come.’

Of course, if a man can be a woman at will, then Gary can certainly be black but with this statement – so hideously insulting to actual victims of racism – his preposterousness was established once and for all. Now he’s said something equally offensive, claiming that the language used about stopping economic migration to this country is in some way equivalent to ‘Germany in the 30s’. Yes, it’s our old friend ‘Everyone I don’t like is literally Hitler’, last used this offensively when India Knight wrote of being born in Brussels in a post-Brexit Britain ‘I now have a letter from the Home Office that I carry about on my phone, in case I need to show it to someone, like a Jew in late 1930s Berlin.’

Lineker is a long-time Israel-basher – he has tweeted about arrests in the West Bank and lamented the killing of a Palestinian man who was later revealed to be a member of Hamas – which makes these comparisons even more revolting than they otherwise might be. His ignorance shines through, too. The Jews so viciously persecuted in 1930s Germany were citizens of that country – not migrants without documentation coming from a safe country. When you bring up Nazism in a discussion about immigration, you are – even unwittingly – continuing to spread the lie that the Jews of Europe had no right to be there. And not only is saying ‘They’re just like the Nazis’ about anyone who isn’t literally committing genocide a vile affront to everyone who suffered or died at the hands of the actual Nazis, as a rhetorical flourish it carries about as much weight as ‘I know you are but what am I?’
Shame on you, Holocaust survivor tells Lineker over asylum policy tweet
A founding trustee of the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust (HMDT) is among a number of prominent Jews to hit out at ex-footballer and BBC pundit Gary Lineker over his tweet comparing the language being used to talk about UK’s asylum plans to 1930s Germany.

Holocaust survivor Agnes Grunwald-Spier MBE has said the Match of the Day host “should be ashamed” for his tweet on Wednesday in which he referred to the language used by Home Secretary Suella Braverman to set out her asylum plans as “beyond awful” and “not dissimilar to that used by Germany in the 1930s.”

Responding to Lineker on Twitter, Grunwald-Spier, who has also been a member of the Board of Deputies of British Jews for 15 years, said: “What is beyond awful is your comment about the Nazis. I suggest you read my book ‘Who Betrayed the Jews?’ and find out what the Nazis really did.

“When you read all 600+ pages you may be entitled to comment on the Nazis. I was a baby in the Budapest Ghetto – shame on you.”

She later added: “I will continue to speak up for the six million Jews murdered by the Nazis – those poor souls have no voice but mine. You should be ashamed. Read my books and learn what the Nazis really did.”

Born in Budapest in 1944, Grunwald-Spier has written a number of books on the Holocaust, including “Women’s Experience in the Holocaust”, and “The Other Schindlers”. She was awarded an MBE in the 2016 New Year Honours List for her work with HMDT and for “services to Holocaust awareness”.

Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer, who is Jewish, said Lineker’s comments were “disappointing and inappropriate”, adding it was important for the BBC “to retain impartiality if it is to retain the trust of the public who pay the license fee.”
BBC accused of 'sidestepping' complaint on Lineker tweet about West Bank death
A group of lawyers have accused the BBC of failing to address a complaint about a tweet made by the sports presenter Gary Lineker last year mourning the death of a Palestinian footballer claimed by Hamas as a "martyr fighter".

The leading football pundit has been at the centre of raging controversy over the last few days following his recent criticism on social media of the government’s asylum policy.

In December, the Match of the Day presenter lamented the death of a member of a West Bank Palestinian football club, Ahmed Daraghmeh, who was killed in a clash with Israeli soldiers in Nablus.

Mr Lineker tweeted, “How awful” and reposted a tweet that had accused Israeli forces of taking Daragmeh’s life “treacherously".

It emerged that he had been killed during an attack on Jews who had been visiting the reputed site of Joseph’s tomb.

On its Arabic website, the terrorist group Hamas referred to Daraghmeh as a mujahid, meaning fighter or warrior.

In a post on its website, UKLFI said the BBC had “sidestepped” a complaint made by its chief executive, Jonathan Turner, about the tweet - contrasting it with the recent action taken by the BBC over Mr Lineker's tweet on refugees.

Mr Lineker “did not apologise for or correct the misleading information in his tweet [about the Nablus incident] even though it was drawn to his attention,” UKLFI stated.

Israel security news: Airstrike in Syria, shootout in West Bank
Syria accuses Israel of carrying out an airstrike in the northwest of the country early Sunday.

In the West Bank, 3 Palestinians affiliated with the Lions' Den terror group were killed in a shootout after they shot at an IDF post.

Plus, an update on the condition of the 3 Israelis wounded in a terror attack on Tel Aviv's Dizengoff Street on Thursday evening.

Dr. Jacques Neriah, former deputy head of assessment of Israeli military intelligence joins us in studio to break down all the security news.

3 Lions’ Den Terror Group Members Killed in Shootout with Israeli Soldiers
A Golani patrol neutralized three terrorists near the West Bank city of Nablus after they fired at an Israeli military position, the army said in a statement on Sunday morning.

“Tonight (Sunday) a number of armed men fired at a force that was in a military position near the Jit junction in the Samaria Brigade. A Golani patrol force, which carried out proactive activity in the area, responded by shooting at the armed men,” the army spokesperson’s statement said.

“Three gunmen were neutralized during the exchange of fire and another gunman turned himself in and was arrested. The fighters confiscated three M-16 rifles, a pistol and cartridges that were in the possession of the terrorists,” it added.

The arrested suspect was handed over for further investigation by the security forces. The Israeli military later added that a fourth suspect turned himself in afterward. The suspect has also been arrested and taken for questioning. There were no casualties among Israeli forces.

The Lions’ Den terror group released a statement claiming the gunmen as members, saying “The blood shed from Nablus to Jenin, passing through every inch of Palestine, only increases our determination to continue the path of victory and liberation.”

PMW: Friday’s shooter in Tel Aviv is “Martyr,” attack is “operation” in PA and Fatah terminology
Thursday evening on Dizengoff Street in the heart of Tel Aviv, 23-year-old terrorist and Hamas member Mutaz Al-Khawaja opened fire and shot and wounded 3 Israelis, two of them severely. The terrorist then shot at Israeli police officers who shot and killed him. Two of the three victims are still in critical condition.

Following the attack, the official PA daily called the attacker a “Martyr” – the highest achievable status in Islam - and referred to the attack as a “shooting operation.” PA Chairman Abbas’ Fatah Movement called Israelis fleeing the attack “settlers,” thereby defining Tel Aviv as “occupied” and all of Israel as “Palestine”:
Headline: “The death as a Martyr of a young person and the wounding of 3 Israelis in a shooting operation in Tel Aviv”

“Three Israelis were wounded at different levels of severity yesterday evening, Thursday [March 9, 2023], in a shooting operation carried out on Dizengoff Street in Tel Aviv, while the one who carried it out died as a Martyr…

Local sources and Arab media outlets noted that the one who carried out the operation is Martyr Mutaz Al-Khawaja (i.e., terrorist, wounded 3) from the village of Ni’lin west of Ramallah, who is a released prisoner.”
[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, March 10, 2023]

The image shows text with the logo of Fatah-run Awdah TV above it.
Posted text: “Chaos and the fleeing of the settlers after a shooting on Dizengoff Street in Tel Aviv and reports of killed people

Text on image: “The occupation’s media: Chaos and the fleeing of the settlers after a shooting on Dizengoff Street in Tel Aviv and reports of killed people”
[Fatah Commission of Information and Culture, Facebook page, March 9, 2023]

Wife of murderer of 2: “He wanted to meet Allah, and Allah wanted to meet him”
Wife of murderer of 2: “He wanted to meet Allah, and Allah wanted to meet him… I congratulate myself for my husband’s Martyrdom”

Wife of terrorist murderer Abd Al-Fattah Kharousha: “Praise Allah Master of the Universe, Allah gave [Abd Al-Fattah Kharousha] honor. He achieved Martyrdom. He wanted to meet Allah, and Allah wanted to meet him, praise Allah Master of the Universe. I congratulate myself for my husband’s Martyrdom.”
[Official PA TV, March 7, 2023]

Abd Al-Fattah Kharousha – Palestinian terrorist and Hamas member who shot and murdered Israeli brothers Yagel and Hallel Yaniv, aged 19 and 21 respectively, while they were driving on a main road through Hawara, near Nablus in the West Bank, on Feb. 26, 2023. The terrorist fled the scene, and when Israeli forces located him in Jenin on March 7, 2023, he resisted arrest, initiating an exchange of fire in which he was shot and killed. In the exchange of fire, which included terrorists shooting from within an ambulance, 3 Israeli soldiers were wounded, while an additional 5 terrorists were killed.

“We love death like our enemies love life” – speaker at funeral of terrorists
An unidentified speaker is giving a speech at the funeral of terrorist Muhammad Awad Abu Kafya in Beit Ijza village, northwest of Jerusalem.

Unidentified speaker: “This people will not be defeated. A people in which a mother accompanies her Martyr son with sounds of joy will never be defeated. A people in which a child who is like a lofty mountain waits impatiently to become a young man so that he will be able to take revenge for his Martyr father will never be defeated. We love death like our enemies love life.”
[Official PA TV, March 8, 2023]

The unidentified speaker made this statement at the funeral of terrorist Muhammad Awad Abu Kafya:

Muhammad Awad Abu Kafya – Palestinian terrorist who wounded an Israeli police officer by accelerating and ramming his car into a police car near Havat Gilad, in the Nablus area, on Sept. 24, 2022. An Israeli soldier shot and killed him in self defense.

Nablus governor, PA security chiefs offer condolences to family of Huwara terrorist
The Palestinian Authority Governor of Nablus and commanders of the Palestinian security forces on Friday visited the home of Abdel Fattah Kharousheh, the Hamas terrorist responsible for the shooting attack in which brothers Hillel and Yagel Yaniv were killed.

Kharousheh, 49, a resident of Askar Refugee Camp near Nablus, was killed by the Israeli security forces during a raid last week on Jenin Refugee Camp, where he had been hiding since the attack in the town of Hawara south of Nablus. Kharousheh was released from Israeli prisons four months ago. He had previously also been arrested by the PA security forces as part of a crackdown on Hamas members in the West Bank.

A statement by the Nablus Governorate said Governor Ibrahim Ramadan, accompanied by commanders of the security forces and the secretary-general of the ruling Fatah faction visited the family to offer condolences over “the martyrdom of Abdel Fattah Kharousheh.”

Appointed by the PA president, the governors are responsible for the security forces and the supervision of all government agencies in their governorates.

Do PA officials frequently interact with Hamas militants?
The rare visit by senior PA officials to the home of a Hamas militant came in the aftermath of a clash between Palestinian security officers and mourners during the funeral of Kharousheh, which took place in Nablus. The visit is seen as an attempt to placate the Palestinian public after the incident during the funeral.

Palestinians said several PA security officers fired tear gas canisters towards a group of men who were carrying the body of Kharousheh outside a local hospital. As a result, the body, draped in a Hamas flag, fell to the ground, drawing strong condemnations from many Palestinians.

Iran boasts of overcoming US pressure, increasing naval power
Iran’s head of the IRGC Hossein Salami said this week that Iran has overcome US-led sanctions and that the more pressure it is subjected to, the more Iran will eventually “respond” to this pressure. He made the reference during a speech that was reported in Iranian pro-regime media.

Among his several points was that Iran has become stronger despite the sanctions imposed on it. He claims that years of sanctions made Iran invest in its satellite program and energy infrastructure and large construction projects. We sent all kinds of satellites into the sky,” he said.

The report comes as Iran has also put out an extensive report about the operations of its naval vessels. Iran is seeking to send its naval vessels on longer voyages. The report mentions attempts by Iran to confront both the US and Israel over the last several years and it also talks about ties with Russia, and confrontations with pirates.

Iranian ships arrive in Brazil
According to USNI news in late February, two Iranian ships were able to arrive in Rio de Janeiro after having waited for permission in the Atlantic Ocean.

“According to photos from ship spotters, the Iranian surface group passed the Fortress of Santa Cruz on Sunday. Photos from Reuters show Dena docked at the Wharf of Gamboa general cargo terminal on Tuesday. The government of newly-elected Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva gave permission for IRIS Makran and IRIS Dena to dock in the country shortly after returning from a state visit to Washington, D.C,” the report said.
Full scope of poison attacks against Iranian schoolgirls revealed
Poison gas attacks on schoolgirls in Iran have shocked the world for months, from with the first reports in November, at the height of the protests against the regime triggered by the death of a young woman in the custody of its morality police.

Sources inside and out of Iran have provided The Media Line with a true picture of the extent of the incidents, including the names of many of the schools singled out for attack, the exact dates on which many of the attacks took place and the number of people affected.

The sources include The New Iran, a not-for-profit grassroots political organization established in 2010, where several of its founders have been working together against the Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI) since 2003, and involved in the fight, inside and out of the country.

Iranian schoolgirls poisoned all over the country
More than 1,000 schoolgirls at more than 26 schools in 25 of Iran’s 31 provinces have now been hit by the poison gas since the first attacks in the city of Qom in November, when 15 schools were targeted. The victims reported a smell akin to rotten oranges, followed by nausea, headaches, and finally shortness of breath left them urgently seeking medical attention.

The list of schools targeted that was provided to The Media Line covers the period from when the attacks began in November 2022 to the end of February 2023. The attacks are spread across the country, some affecting just a handful of people and others more than one hundred. The institutions targeted include both primary and secondary schools and attacks have occurred with increasing frequency, often in more than one location on the same day.

Attacks have been reported in schools for girls in many major cities, and Tehran, Ardabil, Isfahan, Shahin Shahr, Karaj and Kermanshah were even all targeted on the same day.
McGill University's deep ties with Iran's murderous regime
While some academic institutions, such as the University of Freiburg in Germany, have pulled the plug on their affiliation with Iranian universities that urge the destruction of Israel, McGill University in Montreal continues to mainstream lethal antisemitism through its partnership with Tehran University.

Making matters worse is the Iranian regime’s ongoing imprisonment of McGill alumnus Niloufar Bayani. Jan. 24 was the fifth anniversary of her incarceration.

McGill University’s Institute of Islamic Studies is now in a position to deliver a crystal-clear message — that it will no longer partner with an institution controlled by a regime that arrested Bayani and actively seeks the destruction of the world’s largest Jewish community in the State of Israel — by closing its branch in Tehran.

Tehran University, which is home to the Institute of Islamic Studies’ Tehran Branch, has a history of hosting speakers and hiring professors promoting the destruction of the State of Israel and other acts of violence.

The Iranian cleric Hojjatoleslam Mohammad Javad Haj Ali Akbari announced on Al-Quds Day in 2022 on the campus of Tehran University that, “There won’t be any place for the Zionist regime in the world future.”

Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the founder of the Islamic Republic of Iran, launched Al-Quds Day in 1979 as a protest against Israel’s right to exist. Al-Quds Day demonstrations blanket Iranian cities and, in a revolutionary expression of genocidal antisemitism, call for the total elimination of the Jewish state.

The International Quran News Agency, a regime-controlled news website, also published a report about a 2008 conference at Tehran University titled, “The rise of Islam, Destruction of Israel.”

BBC News website airbrushing of PIJ and Hamas
Despite the BBC Jerusalem bureau’s Tom Bateman being aware of that terror attack and the Hamas connection, no coverage whatsoever has appeared on the BBC News website to date.

Later on March 9th an IED was discovered on a bus in the town of Beitar Illit.

“Israeli forces on Thursday night searched for a suspected terrorist they believed had infiltrated the settlement of Beitar Illit and planted a makeshift bomb on a bus.

A “terrorist infiltration” alert sounded in the settlement after the suspected improvised explosive device was discovered.

Residents were ordered by the military’s Home Front Command to remain in their homes and lock their doors and windows until further notice. The restrictions were lifted at 7 a.m. on Friday.”

Remarkably, the story of a town with over 60,000 residents being put under lockdown overnight as security forces searched for a terrorist did not receive any BBC News website coverage.

Readers may recall that just ten days previously the BBC News website had published a backgrounder in which it purported to explain “Why is Israel-Palestinian violence surging?”. As we noted, the word Hamas (and also Palestinian Islamic Jihad) does not appear in that backgrounder. The BBC however continues to airbrush those Iranian backed proscribed terrorist organisations from the portrayals of “Israel-Palestinian violence” that it provides to its audiences.
CBC Sympathetically Portrays Palestinian Terrorist As Victim
On Friday, March 10, a Palestinian terrorist entered an Israeli settlement armed with knives and explosive devices and was shot and killed by an Israeli settler in self-defense according to the Israeli military.

According to the IDF, the armed Palestinian slipped into a farm near the settlement of Karnei Shomron and was fatally shot by an Israeli settler overseeing the land.

In covering this incident and the increase in violence between Israelis and Palestinians, CBC reporter Chris Brown led his CBC National report on March 10 with an interview of the terrorist’s father, which drew sympathy to his dead son and which implicitly cast doubt as to whether the Palestinian was intent on carrying out a terror attack.

Reporter Chris Brown: “In the occupied west bank, violence is surging and in the village of Saniriya, people woke up to learn that 21-year-old Abel Karim al-Sheikh is the latest victim, shot to death by an Israeli settler.”

Father of Palestinian terrorist, Badaie al-Sheikh (emphasis added): “They claim that he has tried to attack the settlers, but to tell you the truth, we are subject to harassment and all kinds of provocations from settlers over there.”

Tel Aviv startup rolls out new advanced AI language model to rival OpenAI
Israel’s AI21 Labs, a natural language processing (NLP) company, on Thursday unveiled its next-generation language model which is customizable to specific tasks and which the startup says allows developers and businesses to build text-based applications in a number of languages, faster and at a fraction of the cost.

AI21 Labs, which has a vision to make artificial intelligence a thought partner to humans, released its new Jurassic-2 family language model featuring advanced instruction following capabilities and up to 30% faster response times compared to its Jurassic-1 version. In addition, with Jurassic-2, the language model is available in more languages, including Spanish, French, German, Portuguese, Italian and Dutch.

NLP is the ability of a computer program to understand human language by speech and by text. With the recent hype over OpenAI’s ChatGPT, a so-called large language model that uses deep learning to spit out human-like text, other startups such as AI21 Labs co-founded by Prof. Amnon Shashua, who is also the co-founder of Mobileye (an Intel company), have been quick to come out with competing AI models.

Similar to Jurassic-1 introduced in 2021, the Jurassic-2 language model will be available through AI21 Studio, an NLP developer platform, for developers to build text-based applications like virtual assistants, chatbots, text simplification, content moderation, and creative writing. The model can be used to answer questions, rewrite an essay, summarize text or write a poem. The startup has more than 35,000 developers registered to the AI21 Studio platform.

“We have 1000s of applications that are supported by Jurassic and hundreds of commercial engagements, and we expect this to grow dramatically,” AI21 Labs co-CEO and co-founder Ori Goshen told The Times of Israel. “We are now really introducing an alternative to OpenAI and our uniqueness factor is related to the second thing we are introducing, which is task-specific language models.”
Oldest near-complete Hebrew Bible to be displayed at Tel Aviv museum
The oldest near-complete edition of the Hebrew Bible, a manuscript from a millennium ago, will be on display on March 23-29 at the ANU—Museum of the Jewish People in Tel Aviv, the museum announced on Sunday.

The Codex Sassoon—which was shown to the public only once before, four decades ago—will then be displayed in Dallas, Los Angeles and New York before being auctioned at Sotheby’s in New York on May 16. It is expected to fetch an estimated $30 million-$50 million, making it potentially the most expensive book or historical document ever to be sold at auction.

In 2021, the auction house sold a first printing of the U.S. Constitution for $43 million, setting a record for that category.

Dating from the late ninth to early 10th century C.E., the Codex Sassoon—named after a former owner, British collector David Solomon Sassoon (1880-1942)—is the earliest, most complete known copy of the Hebrew Bible. The only similarly ancient manuscript ever discovered is the Aleppo Codex, which dates from 930 C.E. but is missing roughly 40% of its pages.

The Codex Sassoon, which comes from around that same period, is more complete, with all 24 books of the Hebrew Bible present. Fifteen leaves are missing and many more are partially missing.

Carbon dating arranged by the current owner confirmed the Codex Sassoon is of a similar age to that of the Aleppo Codex but “significantly more complete,” according to the auction house. The manuscript, which measures about 12 by 14 inches and weighs 26 pounds, is housed in an early 20th-century nondescript brown leather binding.

The earliest known Hebrew biblical manuscripts are the Dead Sea Scrolls—which were discovered in caves between 1946 and 1956, and date from the third century BCE to the first century C.E.
Creating a new Middle East via Holocaust education
Sharaka NGO is bringing together representatives of Israel's newest allies to act as ambassadors for the new era of peace.

One of their latest initiatives involves breaking the taboo around Holocaust education. Our correspondent Sarah Chlala brings us more.

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