Tuesday, March 14, 2023

From Ian:

EU action in Palestinian conflict encourages terror, Israel tells Italy
Italy must help sway the European Union to stop activities related to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that encourage violence, Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen told his Italian counterpart Antonio Tajani when they met in Jerusalem on Monday night.

“I asked my friend .. Tajani to act to prevent European intervention in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, as such activity often encourages incitement and terrorism,” Cohen said.

It was a reference to the EU support, including by Italy, of Palestinian development in Area C, a section of the West Bank that the EU believes will be part of the boundaries of a future Palestinian state. Most politicians in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government hold that it should be part of Israel’s final borders.

EU activity in Area C has sparked tension between the European bloc and Israel.

Neither politician mentioned a push by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu when he was in Italy last week to sway Rome to recognize Jerusalem as its capital.

Cohen also asked Tajani to help sway the EU to avoid attempts to influence internal Israeli politics.

It was a veiled reference to the turmoil surrounding the government's push for judicial reform. The EU is concerned that the overhaul plan could weaken Israeli democracy.

Italian FM shares concerns regarding escalating tensions
Tajani said he was worried by the escalating Israeli-Palestinian violence. He condemned any terror attack, such as those in which Israelis were killed.

Italy, he said, is ready to advance any initiative that would bring Israeli and Palestinians back to the negotiating table to make peace.

The Italian minister later met in Ramallah with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who stressed the importance of halting "unilateral actions and adherence to signed agreements [with Israel]."

He also met with PA Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh, who called on Italy to recognize the Palestinian state and pressure Israel to abide by the signed agreements with the Palestinians.
Josep Borrel: EU high representative for foreign affairs: Honesty can advance peace in the middle east - opinion
Too many people are dying every week in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories, and millions are living in fear and hopelessness. The world’s response has been too many statements and too little action. That must change. We in the European Union and the wider international community need to do more.

We know that people around the world expect us to stand and work for peace, justice and international law everywhere. But to act successfully we first must be honest with each other and ourselves.

Being honest means acknowledging that extremism is rising on both sides. Indiscriminate attacks and violence are taking many Israeli lives. Violence on the part of Israeli settlers in the West Bank is increasingly threatening Palestinian lives and livelihoods – almost always with impunity.

Moreover, Israeli military operations frequently cause civilian Palestinian deaths, often without effective accountability; illegal settlements are expanding on occupied land; and the delicate status quo concerning holy sites is eroding. While Israelis can rely on a strong state and army, Palestinians have no such recourse.

This vast inequality in the ability to control one’s destiny is visible at every roadside checkpoint. All these facts are obstacles to peace.

To be sure, different actors within Europe often react differently to events in the region. But this does not prevent the EU from acting.

We have all been alarmed by recent developments, and we all share the same ultimate goal: to see a safe, secure, globally recognized State of Israel live in peace alongside a safe, secure, globally recognized state of Palestine. This solution would allow both sides to enjoy freedom, prosperity and peaceful relations with their neighbors.

Our own interests are also at stake. We want peace because ending the conflict would be much better for international security. We want peace because we acknowledge the right of both Israel and Palestine to exist, and because we stand for the principle of international law everywhere.
War in Europe and Peace in the Middle East Heralds Economic Opportunity for Israel
The confluence of the war in Ukraine, Israel’s extraction of offshore natural gas, and the improvement of Jerusalem’s ties with Turkey and several Arab countries is bringing new possibilities for the Jewish state, as Elai Rettig explains:

Ever since the discovery of major offshore gas deposits in 2009 and 2010, Israel has been struggling to secure major export deals to Europe. . . . Israel has yet to find buyers for about two-thirds of the gas it has earmarked for export and has seen its bidding rounds for new gas exploration licenses repeatedly fail.

This could change following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which caused a major price hike for imported gas in Europe and a new desire among EU policymakers to secure non-Russian gas supplies even at higher cost, especially liquified natural gas (LNG). . . . Israeli and regional investors are hopeful that LNG will be the next chapter for the eastern Mediterranean gas export market, ridding it of the geopolitics of pipelines.

In addition to raising natural-gas prices, the war in Ukraine is causing a major shift in global oil-transit routes, putting the eastern Mediterranean, and particularly Israel, right in the middle. . . . This reconfiguration of global oil routes can reignite and even expand Israel’s role as a transit and storage destination for Europe-bound oil.

Finally, Europe’s energy challenges are creating a major push towards alternative energy solutions in both Europe and the Arab Gulf states, offering Israel a major role as a leader in clean-tech innovation. On the European side, while the energy crisis is causing a rise in demand for oil, gas, and coal in the short term, it is also encouraging further investment in solar, wind, and even nuclear alternatives to increase independence from Russian imports over the longer term. . . . An additional market for Israeli innovation can be found in the Arab Gulf states as they look for solutions to decrease domestic demand for oil and gas through alternative energy systems.

A Columbia Student Was Murdered, Again, And the Silence is Deafening
As a Columbia alumna, I am appalled by the university’s silence in the face of the brutal murder of one of its brightest young alumni by a malevolent geopolitical force. Elan Ganeles of West Hartford, Connecticut, was the kind of remarkable young man who took full advantage of his educational opportunities at our renowned ivy league institution, pursuing double majors in both Sustainable Development and Neuroscience and Behavior. Not only that, he found time to be an active participant in campus activities, including Tamid, a student group focused on Israeli business, as well as Jewish learning programs. One friend remembered him as the sweet boy with a great sense of humor who enjoyed playing the saxophone. A poignant statement from Columbia/Barnard Hillel said: “We will miss his wry humor and thoughtful manner of discussing challenging or controversial topics.”

It’s worth recalling these beautiful moments from Elan’s life because all of his promise and potential was brutally cut short last month when, at the young age of 27, he was cruelly shot to death by two Palestinian terrorists. Elan, a Connecticut resident, had been visiting Israel for a friend’s wedding near the Dead Sea. He was driving on the Route 90 Highway near ancient Jericho when two men pulled up to his car and indiscriminately opened fire. After killing Elan, the terrorists continued to shoot at two other cars on the highway before setting their own car on fire and fleeing on foot to Jericho.

Columbia’s administration has been too tepid by half in condemning this outrage. An email sent to General Studies students on February 28 by Dean Lisa Rosen-Metsch recognized with “profound sadness” that Elan “was killed by a gunman in a terror attack just outside Jericho yesterday.” However, nowhere did she discuss the greatest tragedy of all: that Elan’s killers and those who directed them can expect to receive a stipend greater than the average Palestinian monthly salary from the Palestinian Authority (PA) Martyrs Fund, often termed “pay-for-slay.” It is believed that the PA’s direct payments to terrorists in the year 2016 totaled an astonishing $300 million USD. This is truly incredible, considering that the PA rules the impoverished West Bank largely based on foreign aid and that it struggles to pay public employees. Nevertheless, PA President Mahmoud Abbas has been clear that maintaining the Martyrs Fund is a top priority for him, saying: “Even if I will have to leave my position, I will not compromise on the salary (rawatib) of a Martyr (Shahid) or a prisoner[.]”

Columbia has a long and mixed history with its Jewish students, moving from discrimination to warm acceptance. In the 1920s and 1930s, Columbia maintained a special satellite college in Brooklyn, Seth Low Junior College, which, according to the Columbia Spectator was “fundamentally a place where Columbia would send Jewish applicants.” In more recent decades, however, Jewish inclusion has soared at Columbia, to the point that Barnard College has a higher percentage of Jewish students than all but four colleges: Yeshiva University, Jewish Theological Seminary, American Jewish University, and Brandeis University — all of which have Jewish missions. Columbia/Barnard Hillel reports that the colleges have a combined enrollment of 1,500 Jewish Students, about 22.3% of the total. Columbia features a kosher cafe and a kosher meal plan, and minyanim for Jewish religious services three times daily. Columbia’s Institute for Israel and Jewish Studies is renowned as Columbia University’s center for the academic study and discussion of Jewish life, history, and culture. Yet in the age of the new antisemitism, at least one alumna, Jaimie Kreitman, who was a graduate student at Columbia University in the 1980s, filed a complaint against the university describing what she describes as “hostility and toxicity” from her professors and classmates because of her Jewish background. Today, the watchdog StopAntisemitism gives Columbia a failing grade in opposing antisemitism on campus; the university, however, has responded by providing robust resources for students who confront antisemitic speech or activity.

For many Americans, pay-for-slay became impossible to ignore after the shocking murder of Taylor Force of Lubbock, Texas, a former US Army officer who was studying at Vanderbilt University after completing successful tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan. Force was visiting Israel with a tour group from Vanderbilt’s graduate management program when he was stabbed to death in a terror attack that left ten others wounded in an old section of Tel Aviv. After the family of Force’s killer began to receive Martyrs Fund stipends, the United States Congress enacted the Taylor Force Act in 2018, cutting off aid to the PA unless these payments are halted. Following the murder of Elan Ganeles, US Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas plans to refile legislation to strengthen existing legislation by restricting foreign banks from facilitating Martyrs Fund payments to terrorists or providing services to the terror group Hamas from doing business in the US or with US dollars.

This isn’t even the first time this has happened to a Columbia student. In 1996, Barnard College alumna Sara Duker was murdered alongside her boyfriend, JTS graduate student Matthew Eisenfeld, and 24 other innocent people when a Palestinian suicide bomber blew up their commuter bus in Jerusalem. The terrorist who coordinated the attack, Hassan Salameh, is believed to have received up to $300,000 in “martyr payments” from the Palestinian Authority.

Jonathan Tobin: Demonizing Kohelet won’t silence calls for judicial reform
In the midst of a national convulsion in which opponents of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are willing to stop at nothing in their campaign to prevent the government from enacting judicial reform, the assault on the offices of the Kohelet Policy Forum last week barely rated a mention in the news. Indeed, compared to blocking highways, refusing military duty and efforts by some in the worlds of high-tech and finance to try to hold the Jewish state’s economy hostage to their opposition to the proposed legislation, putting barbed wire in front of the door to a think tank in order to prevent scholars from getting to their desks doesn’t amount to much.

Yet the attempt on the part of some supporters of the opposition to storm Kohelet’s Jerusalem headquarters, as well as a similar demonstration in New York City outside the offices of the Tikvah Fund—a philanthropic and educational organization that funds efforts to promote Jewish ideas in both Israel and the United States via groups like Kohelet—are nonetheless important to understanding the nature of the controversy. Indeed, it’s hard to think of anything else that better summarizes the debate that seems to be tearing the country apart.

On the one hand are proponents of legislation who are arguing about ideas concerning the rule of law and the way an out-of-control Supreme Court has seized power and exercised it in an arbitrary fashion. Kohelet has been the driving force behind the effort to promote reform of an unaccountable judiciary that has arrogated to itself authority that goes far beyond what’s held by any other legal system in a Western democracy.

On the other is a political movement that is driven not by a belief that former Chief Justice Aharon Barak’s judicial revolution that Kohelet decries was right. Rather, it has taken to the streets driven by a belief that the current prime minister and government that won a majority in the Knesset in an election held four months ago is illegitimate and shouldn’t be allowed to exercise power.
1,000 authors, academics ask Germany to cancel Netanyahu visit
Around 1,000 Israeli writers, academics, and authors have penned a letter to the German and British ambassadors in Israel, calling on them to rescind the invitations issued to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu by their respective countries.

Among the signatories are professors and academics from various Israeli institutions, including the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, the Weizmann Institute of Science, the Shenkar College of Engineering and Design, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv University.

"The State of Israel is now in the most acute crisis, the worst in its history, in an accelerated and dangerous process of turning [Israel] from a prosperous democracy into a theocratic dictatorship," read the letter shared on Twitter by Israeli author Ilan Sheinfeld.

The future of artistic freedom in Israel
"The destructive move is led by the Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, who is accused of bribery, fraud and breach of trust, who, in order to escape the threat of judgment, conspired together with anti-Zionist, fundamentalist and Christian elements, who promote racist, homophobic and anti-democratic agendas, and with Jewish terrorists convicted against the State of Israel and against all its citizens, both those in Israel and those around the world."

The letter continued, criticizing the judicial reform legislation currently being passed in Knesset, and alleging that "advancing the override clause, changing the status of the Basic Law on Human Dignity and Freedom...will also lead to a fatal violation of civil and individual rights in Israel, including the right to freedom of literary and artistic expression, and the elimination of the freedom of Israeli writers and artists.
Injured father of sons killed in Jerusalem car-ramming visits cemetery
The injured father of two sons killed in a terrorist car-ramming in Jerusalem last month left the hospital on Monday for the first time since the attack, and immediately visited the graves of his children.

Avraham Paley visited the resting place of his sons Yaakov Yisrael, 5, and Asher Menachem, 7, who were killed when a terrorist rammed his car into a crowd at a bus stop in the Ramot neighborhood of the Israeli capital on Feb. 10.

Paley, 42, was seriously injured in the attack and only learned of the death of his sons when he regained consciousness nearly three weeks later.

He went straight to the Har Hamenuhot cemetery in Jerusalem on Monday after leaving Hadassah Medical Center in Ein Kerem, arriving via ambulance and using a wheelchair. Video taken at the gravesites shows Paley weeping while seemingly attempting to recite the traditional Jewish mourner’s prayer.

Before being discharged, Paley thanked the staff who took care of him “with devotion from the moment I arrived at Hadassah, both in the intensive care unit and the surgical department.

“I thank everyone for accompanying me during these difficult moments,” he said.

Twenty-year-old Alter Shlomo Lederman was also killed in the Feb. 10 attack committed by Hussein Karaka, 31, an Arab Israeli resident of the Issawiya neighborhood in eastern Jerusalem.

Beitar Illit mayor calls to kick Arab-Israelis, Palestinians out of buses
Beitar Illit Mayor Meir Rubenstein on Monday controversially ordered to deny entry into all buses in the West Bank settlement for Arab passengers, including those carrying Israeli ID badges.

"I turned to [Transportation Minister] Miri Regev to stop this phenomenon of Palestinians getting on buses, avoiding checkpoints," he told Radio Kol Hai on Sunday, adding that he told local security companies to carry out checks on buses entering the settlement.

"At night, they throw stones at us," the mayor lamented. "During the day, some residents go out and support them financially." Rubenstein was interviewed following the arrest of a suspect who placed an explosive device on a bus in the settlement along with four who may have aided him in an overnight raid of the West Bank village of Battir on Saturday.

Security forces also confiscated a vehicle suspected of being used in the placing of the device, according to a joint statement by the IDF, Shin Bet and Israel Police.
The Israel Guys: 3 Injured in Shooting Attack in Tel Aviv
250,000 Protesters took to the streets Saturday night to protest Israel’s Judicial Reforms. The question is, do they have any idea of what they are protesting against, or are they blindly following the agenda of the radical left. Last Thursday, A terrorist traveled to the heart of Tel Aviv and opened fire on a restaurant, injuring three Israelis.

Who controls the Palestinian street?
A heated debate between Maurice Hirsch, head of legal strategies for Palestinian Media Watch, and Samer Sinijlawi, chairman of the Jerusalem Development Fund, over who is responsible for keeping tensions high in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

UN Teachers Call To Murder Jews, Reveals New Report
Teachers and schools at the UN agency that runs education and social services for Palestinians regularly call to murder Jews, and create teaching materials that glorify terrorism, encourage martyrdom, demonize Israelis and incite antisemitism, reveals a new report by two independent research and monitoring groups.

The joint report, to be presented today in a meeting at the U.S. Congress as it considers new legislation in the House and the Senate to cut funding for UNRWA, uncovers 47 new cases of incitement by UNRWA staff, in breach of the agency’s stated policies of zero tolerance for racism, discrimination or antisemitism in its schools and educational materials.

The report is a joint publication by United Nations Watch, an independent non-governmental human rights organization, and the Institute for Monitoring Peace and Cultural Tolerance in School Education (IMPACT-se), an international research and policy institute that analyzes school curricula through UNESCO-defined standards of peace and tolerance.

The institutional teaching materials created by UNRWA’s own education departments and staff include over 300 pages of content labeled for use between 2021-2023, obtained from at least five separate and freely available open-source platforms, spanning grades 5, 6, 7 and 9 across 10 verified UNRWA schools.

The material carries UNRWA’s logo and the names of its schools and lists contributing UNRWA staff. They include school principals, vice principals, educational experts and teachers, who are all signed off on the violent and antisemitic content.

These materials have been kept off UNRWA’s new Digital Learning Platform which UNRWA claims is the sole source of learning materials self-produced by UNRWA. Yet they were distributed to hundreds of students through various platforms and channels, and taught in classrooms.

The report captures evidence taken from inside UNRWA classrooms, showing the teaching of these materials, and revealing how UNRWA’s own content directs students to study specific hateful passages in Palestinian textbooks — which the organization claims teachers are told to skip.

The report identifies 133 UNRWA educators and staff who were found to promote hate and violence on social media, and an additional 82 UNRWA teachers and other staff affiliated with over 30 UNRWA schools involved in drafting, supervising, approving, printing, and distributing hateful content to students. The hatred is systemic at UNRWA, and its internal self-auditing mechanisms are not fit for purpose, alleges the report.

Fatah threatens Israel they won’t stop terror: For every Martyr, there will be “revenge”

Terrorist prisoners with academic degrees function as teachers in prison

“Make sounds of joy, O bullet” - Students at Palestinian university in EU’s ERASMUS program chant

Fatah official calls for terror: “Our resistance members need to strike the Zionist depth”

Fatah libel: “Israel is bombing areas in the entire Arab world”

After the Iran Deal
There is one more way the United States can help stop Iran’s nuclear ambitions—and the rest of the regime’s malevolence. The current Iranian government may never agree to forfeit its nuclear program or stop fueling conflicts across the world. But the Iranian demonstrators have made it clear they want a democratic government focused on the needs of its people rather than on adventurism abroad. Such a government would almost certainly be far less interested in acquiring nuclear weapons or promoting insurgencies, so Washington should do what it can to help the protesters achieve their aims.

To be sure, there are serious limits to Washington’s power. The United States has only the most tangential reach into the halls of power in Iran and holds little sway in the streets. The future of Iran will ultimately depend on Iranians themselves. But U.S. policymakers can work with allies and partners to ensure that the international community shines a spotlight on the heroic efforts of Iranian protesters, exposes Tehran’s repression, and finds ways to hold the Iranian government accountable by working closely with a fact-finding mission established by the UN in November to investigate the crackdown and by pressing partners around the world to downgrade diplomatic relations with Tehran.

The United States can also assist the Iranian people by expanding their access to information and communications. The Biden administration has already stepped up its engagement with technology companies to help Iranians communicate with one another and with the outside world. It should also work with service providers to create and distribute, with U.S. government funding where necessary, a wider array of communications tools and to expand Iranians’ access to virtual private networks that can keep them connected to the open Internet. Washington can similarly help by investing in Persian-language broadcasting capabilities to erode the regime’s media monopoly.

Supporting the protesters does not mean the United States should close off all avenues of engagement with Iran, as some activists have suggested. Nor should walking away from the JCPOA foreclose any diplomatic contact. The Biden administration should keep talking with Iran about discrete issues on which the two countries can achieve some traction, including by continuing quiet efforts to free dual and foreign nationals held by Tehran as hostages. The United States should also do nothing to discourage the ongoing discussions between Iran and its Gulf neighbors. It is unlikely that these talks will lead to anything other than a cold peace, but the direct diplomacy might help prevent any friction from escalating into a crisis.

Ultimately, preventing crises may be the best the United States can do at this moment. For the foreseeable future, there are no transformative solutions that the West can invent or impose on Iran, and the country will remain a profound and unpredictable threat to regional stability, U.S. interests, and its own citizenry. The protests should give the world hope: for the first time in a generation, the theocracy appears to be in jeopardy. But until the regime falls, there will be no silver bullets to stop Iran’s bad behavior.
Iran, China and the Panama Canal: Is the US Being Encircled?
Iran and China are on the move again. Last Friday, to the apparent surprise of the Biden Administration, China asserted its influence in the Middle East by entering the vacuum created by US President Joe Biden, and brokering a deal between Iran and its threatened neighbor, Saudi Arabia, which Biden had vowed to make a "pariah," and "end the sale of material" to it. The Saudis heard.

Iran, meanwhile, has not been shy about its mission to "export the revolution" to the Western hemisphere. Most recently, in February, two Iranian warships docked in Brazil, under its recently elected socialist President Luis Inácio Lula da Silva. From there, the ships will reportedly proceed to the Panama Canal, already controlled at both ends by Iran's newish ally -- the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

The Chinese Communist Party officially declared a "people's war" on the US on May 14, 2019, in flagship news[paper, the People's Daily, as well as before that, on January 29, 2017, even if the US was not listening.

Iran has high praise for da Silva. He has refused to join the US-led sanctions regime against Tehran, and has stated repeatedly that Iran has the right to develop peaceful nuclear programs and that the Islamic Republic should be taken at its word until proven otherwise by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). According to the IAEA, however, Iran seems to have been cheating the "whole time."

Now according to reports, Iran is just days away from being able to create its nuclear bombs, just as the 2015 JCPOA "nuclear deal" allowed it to do, anyway. The Biden Administration, like the Obama Administration, is most likely just trying to avoid having Iran going full nuclear "on my watch," as Obama let slip in 2015.

In a visible challenge to US dominance in the Western Hemisphere, the Iranian ships will proceed to the Panama Canal, at both ends of which sits -- China.

"It's no secret that China has been pouring resources into South America this century, chipping away at the United States' historic dominance." — Buenos Aires Times, February 18, 2022.

Is the US being encircled?
After Iran rapprochement, are Saudi-Israel ties an even more distant dream?

What does Saudi-Iran reconciliation mean for the future of the Middle East?
Is the Saudi Arabia-Iran rapprochement good for the region and bring greater security, or does it strengthen Iran's standing? Should hopes of Saudi Arabia joining the Abraham Accords be put on ice, and what does it mean for Israel? And what about the broker of the deal: China?

All these questions and more are discussed by our panelists Jason Greenblatt, a former advisor to former President Trump and a key player in the building of the Abraham Accords, and Abdulla Aljenaid, a geopolitical analyst in Bahrain.

Iran’s Theocracy Has Bred Secularization
During the Iranian revolution of 1979, the deep-seated religious feeling of an overwhelmingly traditional and pious population was a major factor in Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s success in establishing an Islamic state. But paradoxically, the effect of totalitarian theocratic rule has been a growing hostility toward religion—the consequences of which are apparent in the ongoing anti-hijab protests. Shay Khatiri argues that these results should be a lesson to anyone who believes that religious coercion can help restore traditional morality and social cohesion:

The reaction against Islam has also turned Iranians away from what American conservatives call family values. The fertility rate is 1.7, below replacement. Fewer people are getting married each day. Instead of traditional religion, the growing nihilism among younger Iranians has made pagan ideals popular. Just for a couple of examples, orgiastic sex parties are popular, and the public attitude toward out-of-wedlock birth is in transition from openness to celebration, both expressions of “the Western openness” of Iranian minds.

In sum, trends American conservatives worry about as signs of a declining civilization are being embraced by increasingly secular Iran as a demonstration of their “open-mindedness” against “rotten” religious mentality. The logic is as follows: whatever Islam stands for is bad, and so the opposite must be good. The integration of Islam and government has meant that Iranians associate the religion with totalitarianism. They don’t just see Islam in its political form as problematic, but rather Islam in itself.

[It is true that] many of America’s contemporary problems are partially the result of the decline in religious practice. The hope for religious revival is a noble one, but using the heavy hand of the state is the best way to accelerate, not reverse, current trends toward secularism. In Iran, religion became the ideology of a failing and oppressive state. Therefore, Iranians want to punish the mosque because it is a symbol of tyranny.

The late Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks articulated why politics and religion cannot be integrated: in politics, compromise is a necessity, while in religion it’s a sin. The integration of politics and religion in Iran has led to absolutism in government and compromises in the mosque, making the former tyrannical and the latter corrupt and hypocritical, ultimately making both unpopular and unjust.
MEMRI: 'National Decision' Declaration On Iran's Islamic Revolution Day: 'We Warn The European Countries Not To Make An Historic Mistake By Declaring The IRGC Terrorist – Because We [Would] See This As A Declaration Of War On The Iranian Nation; In Such A Case, They Will Be Forced To Meet The IRGC At Strategic Straits And In Difficult Regions'
The Iranian regime mouthpiece Kayhan published, on February 12, 2023, the text of the "National Decision" declaration that was read out at the end of the Islamic Revolution Day march in Tehran the previous day. The declaration was featured on the front page, next to coverage of the marches across the country.

Kayhan wrote: "Yesterday, 44 years after the victory of the Islamic Revolution, the people took to the streets chanting 'Death to America' more gloriously than ever, and showed more clearly than before that they love [Supreme] Leader [Ali Khamenei] and the revolution."

The National Decision declaration glorified the Quran and the two leaders of Iran's Islamic Revolution – Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the founder of the revolution, and his successor Ali Khamenei, Iran's Supreme Leader. Both of them, it said, had restored the grandeur of Islam as rightful leader of humanity, a task undertaken by Iran. It reiterated absolute acceptance of Khamenei's leadership, and his many acts of grace in the face of those participating in the widescale civil protests against him and his regime in the past months. Emphasizing hostility towards the "Satanic front" - i.e. the West, led by the U.S. – and its culture and liberal values, particularly with regard to women, it expressed support for the resistance front's struggle against Israel and against the Arab countries that are Iran's rivals, and for "strengthening Iran's strategic depth." The National Decision also included a warning to the European countries not to designate Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) as a terrorist organization, and threatened the West with operations in "strategic straits" and other regions.
FDD: U.S., Iran May Be Negotiating Payoff for American Hostages
Paying for Hostages Leads to More Hostage-Taking
In 2015, the Obama administration negotiated a similar scheme alongside the nuclear deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, sending Iran $400 million — the first installment of a $1.7 billion payment — at the same time that Tehran released four Americans. The result was more hostages taken by Iran, including Baquer Namazi, Xiyue Wang, Morad Tahbaz, and Emad Shargi. If $1.7 billion encouraged the regime to take additional hostages, $7 billion will guarantee much more hostage-taking to come.

Misleading Claims About Humanitarian Uses for the $7 Billion
The Biden administration reportedly may claim that the agreement will allow access to the $7 billion only for the purchase of food, medicine, or other humanitarian purposes, stated NBC News. But given the fungibility of money, such sanctions relief would likely amount to budget support for a regime running low on cash. Notably, the accounts in South Korea are tied to the Central Bank of Iran and the National Iranian Oil Company, both of which are subject to U.S. terrorism sanctions for financing the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Quds Force.

Gold Star Families Eye $7 Billion for Terror Judgements
Last year, more than 1,000 U.S. military veterans and Gold Star family members sent a letter to President Biden urging him to deny Iran access to frozen funds until Tehran first pays federal court judgments awarded to American victims of Iran-sponsored terrorism. Releasing the $7 billion in South Korean-based accounts could deny those victims the ability to one day collect their judgements.
U.S. Says No Deal with Iran Over American Hostages
The Biden administration is working to secure the release of several Americans wrongfully detained in Iran but called Iranian reports over the weekend that a hostage agreement had been reached an "especially cruel lie."

"Claims by Iranian officials that we have reached a deal for the release of the U.S. citizens wrongfully held by Iran are false," a White House National Security Council spokesman told the Washington Free Beacon on Monday. State Department spokesman Ned Price added in a statement provided to the Free Beacon that reports of a "deal regarding the exchange of prisoners has been reached are another especially cruel lie that only adds to the suffering of their families."

The administration acknowledged that negotiations over these hostages are ongoing, though officials would not provide a firm status update. When asked about the diplomatic contours of a potential deal, a State Department official declined, telling the Free Beacon, "We will not go into the details of any diplomatic efforts underway; as you can imagine, such discussions are sensitive and highly consequential for the U.S. citizens who have been wrongfully detained."

Iranian foreign minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian fanned the flames over a potential deal during the weekend, when he claimed the United States and Tehran are close to inking a "prisoner swap" that could give Iran access to some $7 billion in currently frozen funds. The Obama administration struck a similar deal in 2015 that saw Iran receive $400 million in hard cash as part of a $1.7 billion total payment. Much of that money was spent bolstering Iran’s military.

The White House National Security Council accused Iran’s foreign minister of peddling falsehoods.

"Unfortunately, Iranian officials will not hesitate to make things up, and the latest cruel claim will cause more heartache for the families of Siamak Namazi, Emad Shargi, and Morad Tahbaz," the official said. "We call on Iran to release our citizens without delay."

Iranian Actress Wears Gown to 2023 Oscars Showing Solidarity With Iranian Protesters and ‘Women, Life, Freedom’ Movement
Iranian actress Shohreh Aghdashloo wore a floor-length gown to the 2023 Academy Awards on Sunday night that shared a message in support of anti-government protesters in Iran who are fighting for human rights.

The custom-made black and white sleeveless silk gown, by New York-based designer Christian Siriano, had a black silk-taffeta overskirt embroidered on one side with the words “Women, Life, Freedom,” which has become the unofficial slogan of protests in Iran that started after the September death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Kurdish woman who died while in the custody of Iran’s morality police. Opposite the slogan on Aghdashloo’s overskirt were the names of Amini and two other Iranian women who were murdered in September 2022 for participating in the anti-government protests — Hajar Abbasi, 70, and Nika Shakarami, 16.

The actress, who was nominated in 2004 for her supporting role in House of Sand and Fog, explained the gown in an Instagram post, saying it supports the three victims “who were among the first women whose lives ended far too early in the hope of freedom after 44 years of oppression and religious tyranny under the Islamic Republic.”

She said she wanted to collaborate with Siriano on a special dress for the 95th Academy Awards because the designer “has long championed women and marginalized communities, and has spoken up for causes he believes in, and has fought for what he believes is right.” She then thanked Siriano for his “creative vision and for lending your voice to support the people of Iran.”

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Elder of Ziyon - حـكـيـم صـهـيـون

This blog may be a labor of love for me, but it takes a lot of effort, time and money. For over 19 years and 40,000 articles I have been providing accurate, original news that would have remained unnoticed. I've written hundreds of scoops and sometimes my reporting ends up making a real difference. I appreciate any donations you can give to keep this blog going.


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