Wednesday, March 15, 2023

03/15 Links Pt1: Palestinians see US aid as ‘opportunity to promote terrorism’; Terrorist from Lebanon carried out northern Israel highway bombing; German police investigating IRGC ties to synagogue shooting

From Ian:

PMW: Should the PA pay monthly salaries to teachers or terrorists?
The teachers in the Palestinian Authority are striking because the PA is not paying their full wages and has reneged on promises it made to them in 2022. As a result, according to different reports, over a million Palestinian children have not had school since the strike started on 5th of February, 2023.

Instead of paying the salaries of the teachers, the PA prioritizes to pay hundreds of millions of shekels to terrorists. As Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas says, time after time: “Even if I’m left with one penny, I’ll pay it to the families of the Martyrs, to the prisoners, and to the wounded.”

Referring to the strike, Muwaffaq Matar, Fatah Revolutionary Council member and regular columnist for the official PA daily summarized the PA approach – Blame Israel!

According to Matar, the teachers’ strike is due to the implementation of the Israeli Anti Pay-for-Slay law, the law that penalizes the PA for paying huge monthly cash rewards to terrorists:
“The wheels of educational life are put on strike now and then, under the headline of ‘the right to strike’ or abstaining from providing services to the citizens for particular periods of time until the realization of material (monetary) demands [parentheses in source]. This is even though everyone knows that all the public sector ([PA] government) employees [parentheses in source] are suffering as a result of how the occupation authorities are stealing the Palestinian tax money, which is the backbone of the PA government employees’ salaries, and as a result of the deduction of hundreds of millions of [Israeli] shekels in order to dissuade the national Palestinian leadership from providing allowances to the prisoners and the Martyrs’ relatives.”
[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Feb. 14, 2023]

Trying to present a positive spin, Matar then added that hardships were caused out of the Abbas’ “loyalty” to the terrorists:
“Out of loyalty to them, [PA] President Mahmoud Abbas has promised that their allowances will be at the top of the table of allowances and salaries, until the last [Jordanian] dinar in the treasury of the PA and the PLO.”
[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Feb. 14, 2023]

Palestinians see US aid as ‘opportunity to promote terrorism’
An Israeli nonprofit that studies Palestinian society has found a troubling possible linkage between U.S. aid to the Palestinian Authority and the scope of terrorist attacks against Israelis.

Palestinian Media Watch released a study this week that analyzed statistics taken from periodic reports published by the U.S. Congressional Research Service, from 2011 (the year the nonprofit exposed the P.A.’s terror-rewarding pay-for-slay policy) through 2022.

It found that when aid to the P.A. dropped, such as during the Trump administration, attacks against Israelis also decreased. However, when such aid was high, such as during the Obama and Biden administrations, more Israelis were killed.

There are three sources of U.S. aid to the P.A.: the Economic Support Fund, the Bureau of International Narcotics Control and Law Enforcement Affairs, and U.S. aid to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).

Between 2009 and 2017, the Obama administration provided the P.A. with $6.4 billion in aid. In that time, 140 Israelis and foreigners residing in Israel were killed in terrorist attacks, an average of 17.5 a year.

Over the next four years, the Trump administration gradually decreased aid to the Palestinians to as little as $670 million. Within that time period, 42 Israelis and foreigners were killed in Palestinian terrorist attacks, an average of 10.5 people a year.

Since the Biden administration took office in January 2021, the P.A. has received a billion dollars in aid. In that time, 46 Israelis and foreigners have been killed, an average of 23 a year. In January and February this year, when U.S. aid to the P.A. continued unabated, 14 Israelis and foreigners were killed in Palestinian terrorist attacks.

Maurice Hirsch, head of Legal Strategies at Palestinian Media Watch, said, “The correlation is also annual. In a year when extensive economic aid to the Palestinians flows, the number of attacks increases, and vice versa. The Palestinians interpret American support, as far as it is expressed in financial aid, as approval for terrorism and the murder of Israelis.

“U.S. support is ostensibly dedicated to promoting peace, but in practice, the Palestinians see its support as an opportunity to promote terrorism. While U.S. aid to the Palestinians flows freely, Palestinian terrorists feel empowered and kill Israelis. Only when the U.S. demonstrates moral clarity and stops the aid, the Palestinians will understand that terrorism does not pay,” he said.
‘There Are Still Some People You Need to Burn’: UN Teachers in Gaza Praise Terrorists, Hitler on Social Media, New Report Says
Teachers and staff working at Palestinian schools funded by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) regularly incite antisemitism, terrorism, and hate on social media, according to a new report released Tuesday by Impact-se and UN Watch, two nonprofits that research educational content in the Palestinian Territories.

The report, titled “UNRWA Education: Reform or Regression,” cited over 200 examples of UNRWA teachers promoting hateful content on social media, including a Syrian math teacher’s praising a March 2022 terrorist attack in Israel that claimed four lives, a Lebanese teacher’s calling the architect of several attacks a “martyr” and “noblest of souls,” and a Syrian UNRWA employee’s sharing on social media a photograph of Hitler, which she captioned, “there are still some people you need to burn.”

The problem exists alongside incitement in UNRWA school curriculum, the report continued, showing photographs of a school in Gaza teaching students that Dalal Mughrabi, who coordinated in 1978 the Coastal Road Massacre, which killed 38 Israelis, including thirteen children, is a “hero” and “the fighting leader.”

It also cited an UNRWA textbook used in the Al-Maghazi Middle School for Boys in Gaza that contains fictional stories of Israelis murdering Palestinians. In what Impact-se and UN Watch described as a “graphic text,” a Palestinian boy watches a “fountain of blood bursting” from his father’s chest after he is shot by an IDF officer for “being late to shore.” Fifth graders at Al-Maghazi are also taught that martyrdom and jihad represent “the most important meanings of life.”

The Algemeiner asked UNRWA to comment on the report’s findings, but it did not immediately respond.

The agency, established by the United Nations in 1949, according to its website, has a “zero tolerance” policy on “hate speech and incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence” and has repeatedly denied claims to the contrary. It receives over a billion dollars from donor states across the world, with the United States and the European Union (EU) alone contributing $511.5 million in 2021, a sum that, lawmakers across the Atlantic have said, is essentially awarded without any guarantee that UNRWA will expunge antisemitism in its curricula and bring its schools in line with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s standards.

Israel Blocks EU’s Foreign Chief from Visiting over Critical Comments – Report
Israel’s Foreign Ministry reportedly blocked the European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell from visiting the country due to his recent critical comments about Israel.

Borrell, who has recently expressed interest in visiting Israel and the West Bank, on Tuesday voiced concerns over the Israeli government’s planned judicial reform. Last week, he also published an article in which he compared Israeli settler attacks in the West Bank to Palestinian terrorist attacks against Israelis. In addition, Borrell criticized Israeli military operations that “frequently cause civilian Palestinian deaths, often without effective accountability” and “illegal settlements” that are “expanding on occupied land.”

“There’s no reason to reward him (Borrell) for his conduct,” an official in the foreign ministry was quoted as saying by Hebrew media.

The move comes after Borrell on Tuesday addressed the European Parliament during a special session on “the deterioration of democracy in Israel” amid the ongoing protests against the judicial overhaul. He underlined that the EU would not interfere in internal Israeli politics, but “is fully empowered to discuss these dynamics and to understand what happens there with respect to our perception of values and interests in the region.”

Israel’s Foreign Minister on Tuesday had a phone conversation with Borrell, where he condemned both his comments and the EU session.
US needs ‘serious negotiators’ to normalize Israel-Saudi ties, experts say
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s request that the United States provide the Sunni Gulf country with ironclad security guarantees and civilian nuclear aid in exchange for normalizing relations with Israel is casting a new light on Washington’s ability to secure a tangible Mideast foreign policy victory.

Critics of U.S. President Joe Biden’s Middle East policy see a lack of focus on advancing the negotiations between Saudi Arabia and Israel.

Richard Grenell, who served as Acting Director of U.S. Intelligence during the Trump administration, told JNS, “We should continue talking to Saudi Arabia about normalizing relations with Israel. I would hope the Biden administration is exploring every possible conversation. While these can be difficult conversations sometimes, there should be an urgency to peace talks. It is concerning that the State Department doesn’t have serious negotiators at the top. In fact, the White House is clearly shoving Secretary [of State Antony] Blinken aside, so they must realize he isn’t up to the job.”

Michael Rubin, a Middle East expert at the American Enterprise Institute, told JNS that “what makes Biden’s team more irrational is that there is precedent for what Riyadh asks. In 2004, George W. Bush proposed a Global Nuclear Energy Partnership to help countries like Saudi Arabia tap nuclear technology for energy production in a controlled, more proliferation-proof way. Riyadh isn’t asking for something new; it is asking for something that was on the table two decades ago.”

Rubin, who has written extensively about American negotiations in the Mideast, added, “As for security guarantees, wasn’t it Hillary Clinton who once offered to extend a nuclear umbrella across the region should Iran go nuclear? Once again, we’ve got to stop throwing our allies under the bus. Why the White House would expect Saudi Arabia to answer any of its calls when Biden, Blinken, and [National Security Advisor Jake] Sullivan treat the kingdom the way their vegan friends treat meat is beyond me.”

According to critics like Mike Doran, a senior fellow at the Washington D.C.-based Hudson Institute, the Obama administration favored a policy that sought to create a new Mideast paradigm, pivoting the United States toward the Shi’ite Islamic Republic of Iran at the expense of traditional U.S. Sunni allies such as Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.
Do Saudi-Iranian ties signal a power shift in the Middle East?
Loay Al-Shareef, Behnam Ben Taleblu, and Nadav Tamir discuss Saudi-Iranian ties and what this spells for a rapidly changing Middle East.

DeSantis’ Ukraine flip alarms pro-Israel Republicans
DeSantis’ comments on Ukraine were criticized by several leading Republican senators Tuesday, in a rare break with a likely presidential candidate from their own party.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), offering perhaps the most forceful denunciation of the Florida governor’s stance, likened DeSantis to the British prime minister whose appeasement of Adolf Hitler helped precipitate World War II. “The Neville Chamberlain approach to aggression never ends well,” Graham said in an interview with The New York Times on Tuesday. “This is an attempt by Putin to rewrite the map of Europe by force of arms.”

Among other traditionally oriented Republicans who publicly spoke out against DeSantis on Tuesday were Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), John Cornyn (R-TX), Roger Wicker (R-MS) and Mitt Romney (R-UT). “I believe it’s in the national interest for us to honor our word,” Romney, who argued that DeSantis’ approach is not reflective of the GOP overall, said in a brief interview with JI. “We made a commitment to Ukraine that we would assure their sovereignty, and that’s what we’re doing.”

Rich Goldberg, a Republican campaign strategist and former Hill staffer who co-hosts JI’s weekly podcast, believes the governor “has clearly made a political calculation that leaning into the isolationist message on Ukraine is helpful to his path,” he wrote in an email to JI on Tuesday. “Whether that signals a wider embrace of isolationist views or a siloed decision on Ukraine based on the polling remains to be seen.”

“This is still the same governor pushing hawkish policies on confronting China, combatting Iran, defending Israel and putting pressure on both Cuba and Venezuela,” Goldberg said. “Is he a born-again Tucker Carlson ideologue or just a politician looking to win a primary with GOP polling on Ukraine moving in the wrong direction? Jury’s out.”
The Caroline Glick Show: This is what Netanyahu needs to do
The growing lawlessness of the Leftist rioters and the increased cowardice of the IDF and police in the face of their aggressive rejection of the voter’s will in the November 1 elections are pushing the country further and further into crisis.

Meanwhile, internationally, a new Saudi-Iranian pact has been brokered by the Chinese further eroding American power in the Middle East and dashing hopes of further Abraham accords between Israel and Arab countries. The Biden administration’s praise of the deal and its soft policies toward Chinese aggression leave Israel in a troubling spot on the world stage.

Faced with a nuclear-pending Iran and strife and division at home, what should PM Netanyahu do? How can he show leadership during this crucial time?

On this week’s “Caroline Glick” show, Caroline Glick is joined by former leftist kibbutznik, Israeli journalist and columnist for Makor Rishon Amnon Lord to discuss.

Israel-Gulf ties not dead, envoy to Bahrain says following Iran-Saudi deal
Reports of the death of Israeli-Gulf ties as a result of the announcement Friday of a renewal of Saudi-Iranian relations are greatly exaggerated, Israeli Ambassador to Bahrain Eitan Na’eh indicated on Tuesday.

“I don’t know what the future will bring. I know what I’m told, and I know what I see,” he told journalists at press briefing at Start-Up Nation Central’s “Connect2Innovate” conference in Bahrain. “I am not yet ready to start eulogizing Israel-Gulf relations.”

On the contrary, he said, the fact that 530 Bahraini businesspeople – along with a government minister and senior government officials – are taking part in the conference and meeting some 60 Israeli businesspeople and officials indicates an interest in moving Bahrain’s ties with Israel forward.

“They could have used any excuse not to come,” he said. “I see what I see.”

Na’eh said everyone would do well to wait and see if the establishment of Iranian-Saudi ties even comes to fruition.
US Embassy In Israel Refuses Passports To Newborn Americans, Leaving Parents Stranded In Israel
The US embassy in Jerusalem has provided deteriorating services for US citizens in Israel ever since the onset of coronavirus, but recently the situation has become outrageous, as American citizens seeking to leave Israel and return to the US cannot even register their newborn babies for passports.

The embassy’s website enables people by appointment to register for emergency passports which would enable them to fly back, but when people arrived with their newborns this week, they were refused entry into the embassy. The embassy employees claimed that the “rules had changed” and that people without documented US citizenship would not be able to receive emergency passports. This move effectively strands US citizens in Israel for Pesach, since they cannot register their babies at the embassy according to the new rules.

One embassy official told a young couple seeking to register their infant that “there are too many Americans.” When the US citizens tried to argue with them, they threatened to call security unless the citizens walked away. Other employees also acted rudely towards applicants, who were left to wait but didn’t receive passports.

Oneof those mistreated said that, “We are American citizens and have the legal right to be helped. I asked to speak to a supervisor and was told to get lost. Our experience at the embassy leaves me wondering: what advantage does being American give me?”

Another person who was withheld a passport complained that “My child has the legal right to an American passport. If American embassies don’t uphold the law and honor their word, we’re in trouble. We had a legitimately scheduled appointment, yet we were treated like criminals.”

Terrorist crossed border from Lebanon with suicide belt, planted explosive - IDF
A roadside bomb that severely wounded a motorist in northern Israel earlier this week was planted by a terrorist who infiltrated the country from Lebanon, security forces revealed on Wednesday.

The perpetrator was killed by Israeli forces while attempting to return to Lebanon, according to authorities.

The Israel Defense Forces has not yet named who it believes dispatched the terrorist, but it is not ruling out Hezbollah.

On Monday, Shareef ad-Din, 21, from the Israeli Arab town of Salem, was wounded when the explosive device detonated around 6 a.m. The bomb was planted behind a barrier by the side of the road near the Megiddo Junction, some 18 miles southeast of Haifa.

The Megiddo Junction is located 37 miles from the Lebanese border, though traveling by roads would extend the journey by a further 12.5 miles.

An urgent investigation into the incident was opened, led by the Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet).

The initial inquiry found that the explosive device was of a design unusual to the area and not seen commonly in Judea and Samaria, said the IDF.

After the blast, the IDF, Shin Bet and Israel Police began a joint manhunt in an effort to catch the terrorist, including the establishment of roadblocks in northern Israel.

A vehicle was stopped at a checkpoint near the village of Ya’ara containing a suspect who was equipped with a suicide bomb vest and a rifle. Israeli security forces shot and killed him.

One possibility being examined is that the terrorist was driven to Megiddo from the border area; a man suspected of acting as his driver is under arrest.

Security sources believe the suspect likely planned to carry out an additional attack before possibly seeking to return to Lebanon.
Defense officials discuss roadside blast in northern Israel
Defense Minister Yoav Gallant held a security assessment to discuss 'recent incidents,' in light of a roadside bombing that occurred at the Megiddo junction in which a 20-year-old Israeli Arab man was seriously injured. Details of the incident remain under a court gag order.

Security analyst Raphael Jerusalmy discusses what may be the circumstances of the incident, and what Israeli security officials are looking for.

The Israel Guys: We Drove Through the PALESTINIAN VILLAGE of Huwarrah | *Real-Time Footage
The media has a weird obsession with hating Jews. It’s almost like a cult. Even when two Jewish boys are murdered, point blank, execution style, the media only lasted about five hours before pouncing on a weak story built on propaganda and lies that claimed that hundreds of violent settlers descended on the town where their brothers were killed and committed pogroms similar to the Holocaust.

Less than two weeks after the terrorist attack that left Hallel and Yagel Yaniv dead, we went back to the Arab village of Huwarrah to survey the exact damage that was done to the town by the supposed “pogroms” committed by “violent settlers”. Today’s program is EYE-OPENING.

Woman Whose Two Sons Died in Jerusalem Terror Attack Gives Birth
Devorah Paley, whose two young sons were killed in a terrorist attack last month in Jerusalem’s Ramot neighborhood, gave birth to a boy overnight Tuesday at Hadassah Medical Center Mount Scopus.

Avraham Paley, who was seriously wounded in the attack, was by his wife’s side while she was in labor. The child is the Paley family’s tenth.

Yaakov Yisrael Paley, 5, and Asher Menachem Paley, 7, were killed on Feb. 10 when Hussein Karaka, 31, an Arab Israeli resident of the Issawiya neighborhood in eastern Jerusalem, smashed his car into a bus stop.

Avraham Paley, 42, was recently released from Hadassah Ein Kerem Medical Center after spending two weeks in a coma. He learned of the death of his sons when he regained consciousness. Upon leaving the hospital on Monday, he immediately visited his sons’ graves in the city’s Har HaMenuchot cemetery, arriving via ambulance and using a wheelchair.

“Sweethearts, I didn’t have time to say goodbye to you. I want to say thank you. What joy you had in learning, what sweetness, what joy of life,” he said at the cemetery.

Palestinians building neighborhood for terrorists in Samaria
A luxurious neighborhood for Palestinian terrorists is being built on a mountain in Samaria.

The residential neighborhood will feature 100 detached homes (“villas” in local parlance) exclusively for Palestinians who served at least five years in Israeli prisons for terrorism-related offenses, Channel 12 reported.

The site is northeast of Ramallah in Area B of Judea and Samaria, which makes up about 22% of the territory under the terms of the Oslo Accords. Area B is under Palestinian Authority civil control and Israeli security control.

Behind the project is the Al Karma Corporation for Housing Prisoners association, whose members are Palestinian terrorists who have served in Israeli prisons and their family members. According to the report, the executive committee includes Abla Sa’adat, the wife of Ahmad Sa’adat, the secretary-general of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. Also on the executive committee is Naim El Sharif, the father of Hamas terrorist Imad El Sharif.

The area of the neighborhood near the terrorist hotbed of Silwad and in the heart of a triangle of three Israeli communities—Ofra, Ateret and Shiloh—has seen numerous attacks in recent years. It overlooks Route 60, the main north-south highway of Judea and Samaria, and is near the British Police Junction, where a Palestinian sniper in 2002 killed seven Israeli soldiers and three civilians, and wounded six others, at an IDF checkpoint.

“Unfortunately, the general security concept led by the senior officers does not match the threats. The task of curbing terrorism is much greater than the pursuit of weapons and includes an iron hand against the perpetrators of terrorism in the Palestinian Authority. The opposite path is to allow the perpetrators of terrorism to establish a neighborhood and expand,” said Israel Gantz, chairman of the Binyamin Regional Council.
Palestinians throw animal carcasses into graves at biblical site
The ancient town of Sebastia, one of the major archaeological sites of the Holy Land which served as the capital of the Kingdom of Israel nearly three millennia ago, has been damaged by Palestinian road construction, Israeli officials said Tuesday.

The destruction at the site highlights the lawlessness in the area and the need for the preservation, upkeep and safeguarding of Israeli archaeological sites in Palestinian-controlled areas after decades of neglect, damage and disrepair.

The site, which has been repeatedly vandalized in the past, is located outside Nablus, near the Arab town of Sebastia, which carried out the work. Over the last three decades, it has fallen under conflicting Israeli and Palestinian jurisdiction as stipulated by the Oslo Accords.

The damage to the site was made public by Shomrim Al Hanetzach (Protecting Eternity), an NGO that seeks to preserve Jewish heritage sites in Judea and Samaria. It discovered that a road had been paved in the heart of the archaeological site, said Moshe Gutman, the group’s chairman.

During the construction work, a wall dating back to the Herodian times (37 BCE-73 CE) was destroyed and burial caves dating back to the Second Temple period (586 BCE-70 CE) were smashed, looted and obliterated, he said.
Security Tensions Rise Ahead of Ramadan as Hamas Issues Threats
As Israeli-Palestinian tensions remain high on the ground, the attempts to keep levels of violence down.

Two-and-a-half weeks after the Aqaba summit in Jordan, which did not succeed in reducing the hostility between the sides, another summit involving Israelis and Palestinians may take place next week in Egypt. Once again, the talks will be backed by the United States, whose Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin was in the region last week.

“We had a very frank and candid discussion among friends about the need to de-escalate and lower tensions and to restore calm, especially before the holidays of Passover and Ramadan,” Austin said.

The envoys attending—and those hosting—may all have good intentions, but on the ground things are far from promising to say the least.

“The number of militants is increasing and the enemy should know that the killing and violence they are doing against our people will only increase the number of fighters,” a Palestinian fighter in the West Bank city of Jenin said.

Hamas, which opposes any meetings with Israel, has been very successful at inciting violence in the West Bank and is now hinting that the Gaza front may soon ignite as well. In a rare interview, the deputy commander of the Hamas military wing in Gaza, Marwan Issa, said that any change in the status quo on Jerusalem’s flashpoint Temple Mount will shake the entire region and Gaza will not remain quiet.

“We will protect our people with all our might, when direct intervention on our part is required,” he said.
Hamas warns Israel against 'violations' during Ramadan
As the Muslim month of Ramadan approaches, Hamas terrorist group sends a message to Israel regarding its policies on Al-Aqsa Mosque, implemented during this time.

While the message wasn't a direct threat, it talks about the joint resistance between the Palestinian factions and their response to Israel's policies, if implemented.

Mother of dead teen terrorist: “He desired to die as a Martyr… Allah chose him”
Official PA TV reporter: “Tell us a bit about Walid [Nassar] (i.e., terrorist). How was he, what were his wishes, what would he always tell you?”

Mother of terrorist Walid Nassar: “For a long time he desired to die as a Martyr. He told me: ‘Master of the Universe, [let] me be a Martyr,’ and I would tell him: ‘My son, stay with me.’.. . That’s it, Allah be praised, Allah chose him… My wish was that he would complete high school matriculation. He would say: ‘There’s something more important than high school matriculation, let me die as a Martyr.’ I said: ‘Stay, complete high school matriculation,’ but Allah chose him for Himself.”
[Official PA TV, Palestine This Morning, March 9, 2023]

Walid Nassar – 14-year-old Palestinian terrorist who participated in a gun battle initiated by terrorists in Jenin on March 7, 2023, when Israeli soldiers attempted to arrest terrorist Abd Al-Fattah Kharousha, who murdered 2 Israeli brothers. Nassar, Kharousha, and 5 other terrorists died in the gun battle. After his death, Nassar's mother explained that "for a long time he desired to die as a Martyr," and that he had told her: "There is something more important than high school matriculation, let me die as a Martyr."

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 6 terrorists were killed.

PreOccupiedTerritory: Group That Glorifies Child-Murder, Child Soldiers, Targeting Civilians, Lynches, Hijacking, Bus-Bombs, Wants You To Think They’re The Good Guys (satire)
One side in a multi-generational ethnic and political conflict that has not only engaged in brutal, cynical war crimes even against its own people, but proclaimed praise for the participants in those atrocities and has proudly associated with the most repressive, murderous regimes in modern history, hopes that you will see their behavior as a moral positive and worthy of support.

In addition to: allying openly with the Nazis; accepting Soviet arms, funding and training; aiming to kill as many Jews as possible by whatever means, especially women and children; recruiting minors and putting them into combat; using civilians as human shields; hijacking airliners; murdering innocents; firing rockets indiscriminately into civilian areas; and threatening genocide of their enemies, among other heinous acts, Palestinian Arabs and their supporters express not regret that such actions take place, but gratification, and offer both honor and financial reward for those who pursue them, as well as for their families – and then expect others to view them with sympathy and consider them the good guys in the conflict with Israel.

“We glorify Hitler, wave the Hakenkreuz, deny Jewish history, seek to massacre everyone who stands in the way of ethnically cleansing the Jews, firebomb kindergartens, embed our military positions among homes and schools, and prefer our own people’s suffering to the thought of Israel being seen in a positive light – please side with us,” the Palestinian message seems to say.
JCPA: The Illusion of a Lebanese State
Hizbullah also has its share of setbacks in this chaotic atmosphere where everyone is fighting everyone. At the end of February 2023, the United States succeeded in putting its hands on one of Hizbullah’s financiers, Mohammad Ibrahim Bazzi, in Bucharest and is in the process of extradition. In addition, the U.S. State Department has offered a reward of up to 10 million dollars for information leading to the disruption of the financial mechanisms of Hizbullah.21 This development occurred when there was growing criticism in Lebanon of Hizbullah’s bank, “Al-Qard al-Hassan” (AQAH)” which continues to expand with no control at all from the Central Bank of Lebanon, while the judges concentrate on investigating “legal banks.”

AQAH was registered as a social organization in 1987 at the Ministry of Interior. Today, it is the long financial arm of the “resistance,” with more than 1.9 million people as its clientele who benefit from its services, such as the distribution of almost 4 billion dollars in loans. AQAH has developed from a social organization into a huge financial institution that functions without being registered at the Central Bank of Lebanon. Branches are opening, and ATMs are being installed in almost all of Lebanon. AQAH offers its clientele loans at exceptionally low interest to be reimbursed over long periods, but the primary mission of the” bank” is to finance Hizbullah’s open and covert activities. AQAH has 31 branches all over Lebanon, 15 in Beirut, 10 in South Lebanon, and six in the Bekaa valley — with 500 employees.22

Aware of the American sanctions against Hizbullah, AQAH has no accounts in Lebanese or foreign banks and does not invest in Lebanon or abroad. The only link is with Iran. However, from time to time, the United States penetrates Lebanese banks to discover illegal activities conducted with Hizbullah. Such was the case in 2019 with the “Jammal Trust Bank,” which offered services to Hizbullah’s executive council and the Martyrs Foundation.

At this junction in time, Lebanon is in chaos. The revelations about the monies stolen, transferred, and disappeared fuel the Lebanese’s anger, despair, and dissatisfaction. The plunging Lebanese pound, which has lost more than 90% of its value since October 2019, the galloping inflation, and the deeper poverty combined with the lack of any alternative translate to many that Lebanon as a state is no more. The dollarization of the economy is moving fast. All prices in supermarkets and other commercial entities are displayed in dollars. Electricity is almost inexistent. Hospitalization costs are out of reach. Teachers have no money to fill their gas tanks and cannot reach the schools where they teach. A third of Lebanon’s students in the public sector and a third of the teachers have not seen schools for the last two months. Medicines are brought individually from visitors from abroad or bought at pharmacies selling Iranian or Syrian-made dubious medication. In this dire reality, the Lebanese, aware of the profound differences between the different political camps, have lost hope of seeing a solution soon.

The ones that survive are those who receive remittances from abroad. All the rest have become dependent on the state for their physical survival. Without the estimated 8 billion dollars a year injected into Lebanon by the Lebanese diaspora, Lebanon would cease to exist.

In diplomatic black eye for Washington, China reshuffles Middle East deck
There, through a mix of deft diplomacy and economic investments, the PRC has begun to erect what some observers have termed an “emerging Middle Eastern kingdom.” It has also capitalized on America’s receding regional footprint, as successive administrations prioritized other world regions (such as Asia) and topics, such as climate change, over serious Middle Eastern policy. Now, the Saudi-Iranian deal has cemented the PRC as a central player in the region’s political and security dynamics, eclipsing the traditional arbiter of Mideast affairs — the United States.

The deal reflects Riyadh’s tilt away from Washington.

Over the past two years, the Biden administration has assumed an activist and decidedly unfriendly stance toward the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. In contrast to its predecessor, the Biden White House has made a point of hammering Riyadh and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on issues such as human rights and accountability, effectively lighting U.S.-Saudi relations on fire in the process.

The new, more confrontational American policy has had the effect of nudging Saudi Arabia — already questioning the more than 75-year partnership — away from the U.S. and toward partners like China (which has taken a much more laissez-faire approach to the Kingdom’s political dynamics). The Iranian-Saudi deal represents a culmination of this drift and moves the Saudis squarely into Beijing’s orbit.

The agreement is a potential blow to the Abraham Accords.

The normalization agreements between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Morocco (as well as Sudan) midwifed by the Trump administration in its waning days in office ushered in a new era in Middle Eastern politics.

Some 2½ years on, the dynamics unleashed by those deals are flourishing, manifested in deepening economic cooperation, stepped-up tourism, and burgeoning social and cultural contacts among the parties. The expectation has always been that, over time, other countries would jump aboard the unfolding normalization wave as well, with Saudi Arabia widely believed to be the most likely to do so. (In fact, in recent days, the Kingdom had informed the United States of its requirements — including security guarantees and assistance for its nuclear program – to make peace with Israel.)

Now, the likelihood of this happening is at least somewhat more tenuous since Saudi Arabia’s new partner, the Islamic Republic, actively opposes the accords and Israel’s strengthened role in the region. Israeli officials understand as much; the new agreement signals the “collapse of the regional defense wall” against Iran that had been painstakingly erected by Jerusalem in recent years, former Defense Minister Benny Gantz has lamented.

As for America, the Biden administration is putting on a brave face and has “welcomed” the agreement as a step toward greater regional stability. But, against the backdrop of growing “great power competition” between the U.S. and the PRC, not to mention the Biden administration’s lackluster Mideast policy, it’s hard to see the new deal as anything other than a diplomatic black eye for Washington.
The Perplexing Iran Policy of the EU
One major fault line in the Iranian opposition is whether the Iran they seek will be a centralized state or a confederate one. Around 50% of the population does not belong to the Farsi ethnicity.

Recently, a coalition of monarchists, activists, and celebrities has mistakenly been understood as the significant coalescing of the Iranian opposition forming around Reza Pahlavi.13 However, this has been rejected by almost all other opposition movements.14 In light of this development, it could be a more productive approach to encourage the whole spectrum of opposition to find common ground around a compromise on the future of Iran and an effective transition plan. Even inside Iran, there is a growing sense that this kind of cooperation is necessary, as seen in the recently published statement of 20 Iranian (underground) civil society organizations.15 This declaration apparently has been endorsed by Republican parties and could become part of a broader political gathering of the Iranian opposition. All those who see Iran as a threat must encourage the opposition to take steps in a direction that will include all categories of their political landscape.

Ideally, a broad and inclusive opposition coalition could achieve the same status as the Belarus opposition, who opened their March 1 “democratic mission of Belarus” in Brussels with the official support of the Belgian government. A similarly united Iranian opposition would be able to have a serious impact on the ground in Iran as it would unite movements in Iran and the diaspora for the common cause.

This development would make the case that the current EU policy has failed in terms of results and that a better option is possible.

The key to changing EU policy on Iran is to reassess the audience that needs to be reached and adjust the message accordingly. This means that there is a need to differentiate the various layers of decision-making. Those critical of the JCPOA need to align their message with the needs and values of the first and most important layer of EU democracy. This effort needs to be coupled with a new engagement with the whole spectrum of the Iranian opposition.

The general public of citizens of EU Member States and their elected MPs should be seen as the audience as they are on the receiving end of the ultimate outcomes of the JCPOA policy. They have the right to understand the connection between this policy and the migration it created and will create. Simultaneously, the citizens of Iran, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and Yemen need an end to oppression and war.

Ultimately, the refugee from Syria and the citizen from Germany are on the same side and deserve an EU policy that prioritizes this reality.
Biological terror in Iranian schools
Nobody in Iran trusts officials and religious fundamentalist figures who are opposed to girls' education to find the perpetrators. Op-ed. In Iran, alarmingly, the second Auschwitz is at work, done by the hands of regime thugs and the criminal mullahs. All the world is still reeling from hearing the news.

It goes without saying that the crime sent shock waves through the country itself. A week after the initial dismissal by Iran’s theocracy, Iran rattled over the poisoning, which had noxious fumes wafting into girls' classrooms. Sluggishly, officials began taking the claims and multiple stories seriously.

Mullah terror entity stormtroopers brutally attacked the Iranian mothers of poisoned schoolgirls. The Iranian schools gassing is a form of biological attack on girls and the world is watching. These serial biochemical attacks in the homeland are carried out by religious extremists and followers of Khomeinism.

The facts: Since November, hundreds of mostly female students, across the country, were seriously poisoned in different cities, leading to the death of numerous innocent students. As well, hundreds of unconscious students were hospitalized horrifically. They are fighting for life and experiencing significant health issues.

Since the emergence of the terrorist mullah’s regime in Iran on 1979, the thugs of IRGC and MOIS have threatened all opponents to have their brains blown out.

These days, under the license of Shi'ite mullahs, a different crime against humanity is in progress. Some radical thugs are deliberately attempting to target and shut down girls’ schools. The number of such horrendous incidents has picked up precipitously.

The fact of the matter is that there is growing alarm in Iran. This tragedy and abhorrent act are worse than similar ones among terrorist groups such as Al Qaeda, Boko haram, ISIS, Al-Shabaab and so on.

Now, in the terrorist regime, hundreds of schoolgirls fall sick in Iran with respiratory, cardiac issues, dizziness and fatigue, and neurological symptoms.
German police investigating IRGC ties to synagogue shooting
After a century-old synagogue in Germany was struck by two bullets last November, news reports connected it to the shooting at a synagogue in Halle three years earlier that had been perpetrated by a far-right German extremist.

But authorities have linked the Essen shooting to a different kind of perpetrator: Ramin Yektaparast, allegedly a biker gang leader wanted on suspicion of murder in Germany who now lives in Iran and is suspected of directing antisemitic attacks from the country.

German intelligence officials revealed in December that they believed the Essen shooting and two other synagogue attacks at the same time had ties to Iran.

Last week, The Washington Post quoted anonymous German and U.S. intelligence sources who named Yektarapast as a suspect, and as an alleged asset of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps. The United States considers the Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organization, though Germany does not.

Yektarapast reportedly fled from Germany to Iran in 2021 after being suspected of the grisly murder of a fellow member of the Hells Angels gang. Involving criminals in terrorism plots is part of Iran’s playbook, a former U.S. counterterrorism official told the Washington Post.

Matthew Levitt, a fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, said Iranian agents have seen high-level assassination plans foiled and now are turning to “softer” targets in their efforts to sow terror and harm their country’s enemies.

“That’s when the plots targeting Jews come into play,” Levitt said.

Iranians launch night protests as Persian New Year nears
Mariam Memarsadeghi breaks down the rallies that are gathering at nightfall in Iran as the country prepares to celebrate the Zoroastrian New Year, Nowruz.

British Jews 'favoured over Muslims', says David Miller
Disgraced Bristol University professor David Miller claimed this week that British Jews are “inserted at a much higher level economically” than Muslims, which is why there is so much support for Israel in the British government.

The former academic, who was sacked by Bristol University in 2021, was speaking on Iran's state-owned Press TV while on his first visit to the capital, Tehran, where he accepted an award for his show on the same network.

Addressing university students in Tehran, Miller blamed the US and Israeli governments for stoking the protests that erupted across Iran following the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, killed by the authorities for wearing her hijab “improperly”.

During a studio interview with Press TV, Miller was asked if a “Muslim lobby” or a “Palestinian lobby” would “make the kind of waves that the Israeli lobby makes, whether we’re talking about the US or the UK?”

He replied: “What gives the Zionist lobby that extra power is the way in which Jews in the society are inserted at a much higher level economically.”

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