Tuesday, July 25, 2023

From Ian:

Lahav Harkov: Security concerns could bring Israel's summer of discontent to an end
There is no doubt that the judicial issue and related protests are a huge story whose outcome has the potential to have a massive influence on every Israeli.

That being said, there's a tendency in the Israeli media to behave as though it is the only thing happening in the country.

Elyashiv Reichner is a columnist in religious-Zionist publications who writes about life in Israel's periphery, the areas far from the wealthy coastal area or the Tel Aviv-Jerusalem corridor that get little media attention when they're not under attack.

Last week, on one of the big "days of disruption", Reichner, who lives in Yerucham in the Negev, had to drive to Israel's north. None of the roads on his way were blocked, and at most, there were a few handfuls of people waving flags at the sides of the street.

"Life mostly flowed as usual," Reichner wrote in the right-wing Makor Rishon weekly. "Facing the relative peace in the periphery, I asked myself: What better reflects reality? Are the mass protests in [Tel Aviv] the real view of Israel today, or maybe the quiet that I found in the last two weeks in Ma'alot, in the Golan Heights, in Lod, in Beersheba and in Yerucham more authentically express Israel of summer 2023?"

Though I live in central Israel, I have asked myself this question as well, feeling a sharp dissonance between my work and my life, which has gone on as normal. My husband takes our kids to camp in the morning and goes to his high-tech job almost entirely unimpeded by protests, despite getting off the train in central Tel Aviv. I go to appointments, pick up the kids in the afternoon, make them dinner and read them bedtime stories – on the same day as reading and writing about it being a day of disruption.

I'm sure that some will say most Israelis are being dangerously complacent by continuing their life as normal while the country is transformed into fascist dictatorship.

Reichner, for his part, wrote: "This is not a call to ignore and certainly not for apathy... We must listen to the protest, but at the same time, we can wonder if we've lost all proportions and the relative routine in the periphery at this time is what actually better reflects the appropriate treatment of these events."

He suggested to his friends who oppose the reform to take a deep breath, step away from social media and get out of central Israel.

The same recommendation goes for the government’s supporters. Having eaten their salad, as Ben-Gvir put it, it won't hurt to take the Knesset’s lengthy recess to go on a diet and forgo the other courses. They now have more than two months to consider if the cost of full-scale judicial reform outweighs its benefits. Perhaps some, like Defence Minister Yoav Gallant, will have greater success convincing Netanyahu to reach a hand out to the other side of the escalator. If for nothing else, then for Israel’s security.
Melanie Phillips: The real coup against Israel's democracy
Got that? Spotted the difference with Israel? These were all coups against a tyrannical regime. They were insurrections mounted to wrestle freedom and the rule of law away from regimes which suppress them. Yet Melman is using this argument to justify an insurrection against Israel’s democratically elected government.

That isn’t a coup to protect democracy. It’s a coup to destroy democracy.

Moreover, the claim that the measure passed today abolishing the “reasonableness” criterion in judicial review will usher in a dictatorship doesn’t hold water. As Israel Kasnett reported on JNS.org, legal experts such as law professor Avi Bell and the lawyers at the Kohelet Forum argue that the Supreme Court’s criterion of “reasonableness” , developed after 1993 in a judicial power grab to counter the rise of the democratically elected Likud party, is not anchored in any legal principle and has been used to give the judges powers to strike down laws and ministerial actions unprecedented anywhere else in the democratic world.

As for the claim that abolishing this “reasonableness” criterion will remove Israeli ministers from judicial scrutiny, the Kohelet Forum says this is ridiculous. Kasnett writes: Kohelet also emphasised that contrary to popular belief, the annulment of the reasonableness criteria as proposed by the bill “will not prevent judicial review or lead to a violation of human rights. Most of the main review grounds in administrative law will remain… Repealing reasonableness grounds will demand of the court that it review decisions based on sound legal grounds, and not on the judges’ opposing world-views or preferences, and will leave value decisions to the elected officials”.

Bell observed:
“With the high court and official legal establishment acting in open contempt of the elected legislature and executive, and in open rebellion against any attempt to return legal limits to their power, Israel is already in a constitutional crisis. One can only hope they will come to their senses.”

Alas, it looks like they are not. For those opposing reforms such the one passed today, their inescapable position is that they want to have rule by unelected and unaccountable judges rather than rule by democratically elected politicians they despise. For such opponents, the argument that the proper way to deal with such despised politicians is through the ballot box no longer has any validity. Their claim that they are defending democracy is bogus and Orwellian. They want representative democracy replaced by unbridled judicial power — and the power of the streets, enforced by the military.

We owe Ha’aretz a debt of gratitude for tearing aside at least one of the veils of obfuscation to call this crisis out for what it is — a military coup.
Ignore President Biden, Here’s What Is Really Happening In Israel
The system is so insane that not only can the court lord over the legislative branch without explanation, but it can remove ministers and elected officials at will. The attorney general is empowered to bar officials — even the prime minister — from participating in national debates. This is not, by any real standard, “democratic” governance. It is illiberal.

Perhaps there is no good way to balance what is effectively two branches of the Israeli government. It’s a complicated issue. Reforms are no panacea. Some aspects make more sense than others. But judicial reform is hardly a new idea, and reforms are not being “rushed.” They have been debated within Israeli politics for decades, with numerous moderate legal voices proposing changes over that time. In many ways, the freak-out reminds me of the American left’s alarmism over tax cuts and net neutrality. It is largely a political effort to undermine Netanyahu.

The Associated Press, however, stresses that the protests in Israel are a “grassroots” effort as if this imbues a mob with a moral high ground or the authority to dictate government policy. In truth, many of the marches — and threats to shut down Israeli society — are organized by Israel’s biggest and most powerful unions and egged on by foreigners. If the prime minister lets these protestors blackmail him, he might as well resign right now. It’s going to incentivize anarchy.

As of now, protestors from both sides are out on the streets. And so far, they haven’t engaged in the defenestration of their opponents or any violence. The debate is an illustration of a “democracy” working, not one sliding into tyranny.

Yet, every time Israel has a contentious internal debate, concern-trolls like Tom Friedman emerge to lament the coming end of Israeli democracy. You will notice that according to the media, legislative proposals, domestic or foreign, are only “divisive” and “deeply contentious” when conservatives support them. The reality is that virtually everything we do in politics is “divisive” and “deeply contentious.” That’s why politics exists. And in Israel, the time of day is a deeply contentious issue.

Moreover, for the left, “democracy” can mean hyper-majoritarianism or judicial tyranny. Whatever works. Depends on the day. What am I saying? Democrats will argue that limiting judicial supremacy in Israel is an attack on “democracy” while at the same time claiming SCOTUS is engaged in judicial supremacy for showing deference to the Constitution and handing back issues like abortion to voters. Calvinball all the way down.

Of course, the Israeli Supreme Court was packed with right-wingers instead of left-wingers, American media, the Democratic Party, and the protestors would be on the reform side. None of this has anything to do with governing principles or justice or norms or “democracy.” Like those destroying the American judiciary at home, it’s about power.

The Israeli right is also about power. I’m not naïve. But right now, the reforms they support are far better aligned with the norms of a functioning “democracy” than the ones in place. That’s something a person reading headlines in the American press might not know.

Michael Oren: A tale of two Israels
Intellectually, I knew where I stood, and called for a freezing the legislative process and continuing the multi-partisan negotiations for a compromise. I feared for the precedents created by politicizing the army, the medical and business communities, and the Histadrut. I felt for those Israelis unable to get to work because of the demonstrations. I fretted over whether any of our leaders, coalition and opposition alike, could compromise with losing the support of their constituents and the respect of foreign allies. Most of all, though, I suffered over the sight of this precious country being ripped asunder by the two Israels.

I remained torn between them, tormented by the thought that they no longer shared a common lexicon much less a unified vision for our future. Both arrogated the role of democracy’s defenders and both accused the other of mounting a coup. My sole consolation lay in the belief that, at the end of the day, we are all still Israelis, still part of one people with a shared destiny and a memory of our painful past. We all remembered Tisha B’Av.

Then came that selfie. Instead of displaying humility, instead of addressing the demonstrators and saying, “Though we fervidly disagree, we both acted out of love for our country, and that love must always bind us,” the coalition members rejoiced. Rather than recalling the Jews who killed Jews inside Jerusalem while the Romans surrounded it — and the déjà vu of Israelis battling Israelis while Iran encircles us with missiles and nuclear arms — the government exulted in victory.

Though I will remain at some level trapped between those two Israels, the image of that selfie continues to haunt me. Will those religiously observant MKs fast, as is customary, on Tisha B’Av, I wonder? Will they read the Book of Lamentations, “The joy of our hearts has ceased, dancing has turned into mourning”? Or will we look back in sadness, generations from now, and ask ourselves, as our ancestors did 2,500 years ago, “Eicha” — How?
Israeli minister demands AG open probe into Barak’s ‘coup d’etat’
Israeli Transport Minister Miri Regev sent a letter to Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara calling for an investigation to be opened against former Prime Minister Ehud Barak and Forum 555 for allegedly inciting a coup d’état.

Regev cited a video clip circulating on social media that “shows without any shadow of a doubt that beginning in March 2020, former officials began concocting a plan for a coup d’état and civil disobedience, with detailed and careful planning.”

“We have been seeing the attempt to implement it in recent days,” she added.

The plan included “falsely presenting a danger to democracy with funding and investments totaling millions of shekels, leading to the point of no return—a civil war—as [Barak] begs them [opponents of judicial reform] to create clashes with the police, saying, ‘The more clashes there are with the police, the more it will grow stronger,'” said Regev.

Public Diplomacy Minister Galit Distel Atbaryan on Friday exposed in a Twitter post what she claimed was Barak‘s plan to bring down the government, describing an interview with Barak from 2020 to Forum 555, a group of retired Israel Air Force pilots and navigators.

The plan, she said, included deliberately inflaming the civilian population, creating a false representation of a danger to democracy, and bankrolling protests, including purchasing flags.
Judicial overhaul threatens to tear Israel apart
Uri Zaki, Jeremy Saltan and Douglas Altabef debate the judicial legislation and protests in Israel.

US calls judicial reform vote 'unfortunate'; Opposition to challenge law in court
The Biden administration considers it "unfortunate" that the Israeli parliament ratified part of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's contested judicial overhaul plan on Monday, a White House National Security Council spokesperson said.

"We believe that for major democratic changes, you need to work for consensus," the US official said. "We urge Israeli leaders to work toward a consensus-based approach through political dialogue."

"It's a sad day," Opposition leader Yair Lapid said after the vote. "This is not a victory for the Coalition. This is the destruction of Israeli democracy."

In Monday's vote, lawmakers approved a measure that prevents judges from striking down government decisions on the basis that they are "unreasonable."

With the Opposition out of the hall, the measure passed by a 64-0 margin.

UK urges Israel to 'avoid division' over controversial judicial overhaul
The UK has voiced concerns over the Israeli government plan to overhaul the country's judicial system.

The Foreign Office urged Israel's leadership to "build consensus and avoid division".

It comes as the Israeli Parliament approved the first major law in the plan which would weaken the country's supreme court.

But protests against prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government worsened on Monday night and into Tuesday.

Hundreds of thousands of people fanned out in Tel Aviv overnight, burning tires, setting off fireworks and waving national flags.

In central Jerusalem, police mounted on horses unleashed water cannons and a foul-smelling spray at protesters, arresting nearly 40 people.

Biden Threatens Bibi: End Reforms Or Else Thomas Friedman Writes More Op-Eds (satire)
Washington: Israel-American relations are in deep crisis today with news that President Biden made explicit threats to Prime Minister Netanyahu: either call off judicial reforms or Thomas Friedman will continue writing his Opinion pieces about the situation. Mr. Friedman, famous pundit and taxi cab whisperer, has written a series of increasingly bizarre columns about the situation in Israel. Sources close to the White House were able to provide a partial transcript of the tense phone call.

Bibi: Hello?
Biden: Hey Bibi man, you gotta call off this Malarkey. This…. Come on, man.
(20 Second of Silence)
Bibi: What’s going on?
Biden: You want another Thomas Friedman Op-Ed? Because this is how you get another Thomas Friedman Op-Ed.
Bibi: Joe, be reasonable.
Biden: Corn Pop was a Bad Dude. But if you don’t back off this court stuff, we’re giving the Green Light to Friedman. Two Op-Eds a week, baby. We’re going to pay for all of his taxi rides for the next month. How do you like them, umm, what do you call them… them apples?

News of Biden’s hard line tactics shocked Washington insiders, who noted that Biden and Netanyahu have 40 years of history together. Yet Israelis were just as equally shocked at the news. Ramat Gan housewife Orit C. shared her views on the development while she waited on line with her kids at the Tel Aviv Namal McDonalds.

“Friedman’s dumb articles haunt me.” Orit explained. “It’s like he’s a ghost. A Scary Boomer Ghost. Who won’t leave.“
Protest group pays for all-black front-page ads in major Israeli newspapers
Several Israeli newspapers published an entirely black front page on Tuesday morning, following the passing of the Law to Cancel the Reasonableness Standard on Monday afternoon.

The pages were paid advertisements by the Israeli Hi-Tech Protest movement, a group containing representatives from hi-tech companies including CEOs, venture capital investors, self-employed entrepreneurs, and regular hi-tech employees. The ads read, “A black day for Israeli Democracy” in small white text at the bottom of the page. In the small text at the top was the word “Advertisement.”

Although all the newspapers involved – Yediot Aharonot, Calcalist, Israel Hayom, and Haaretz – disclosed the advertisement at the top of the page, some readers claimed that the text was too small and was not clear enough that the all-black front page was paid for.

The protest group itself posted on Twitter openly claiming the advertisement on Tuesday morning, saying: “They got us! We tried so hard to hide our logo, [it’s on] Page 2 of the newspaper.”

The Knesset passed the bill to cancel the reasonableness standard into law on Monday, marking the first part of the government’s contentious judicial reform to pass into law after six months of fierce public debate and negotiations on a possible compromise that continued until the last minute.

Hezbollah chief gloats: Israel had its ‘worst day,’ is on ‘path to disappearance’
The head of the Hezbollah terror group gloated that Israel was on the “path to disappearance” as chaotic demonstrations by opposition activists protesting the passage of the first judicial overhaul law wracked the nation on Monday.

“Israel was once thought of as a regional power that can’t be beaten, and regional countries accepted its threat as a fact that can’t be removed,” Hassan Nasrallah said in a televised address marking the seventh day of Muharram, the first month of the Islamic calendar, days ahead of the major Shiite festival of Ashura, according to media reports.

He added that “its trust, awareness and self-confidence have deteriorated into the crisis it is experiencing today.”

Nasrallah, whose own country has been mired in years of devastating political bedlam and has seen its own spasms of protests, branded Monday Israel’s “worst” day since the state’s creation.

“This day, in particular, is the worst day in the history of the entity, as some of its people say. This is what puts it on the path to collapse, fragmentation and disappearance, God willing,” he said.

Exclusive: Israel rebukes Jordan over restrictions on religious Jews
Foreign Minister Eli Cohen has recently sent an official démarche to Jordan in protest of the kingdom's treatment of religious Jewish tourists, Israel Hayom has exclusively learned.

The letter of protestation comes on the heels of a troubling incident some two weeks ago in the Yitzhak Rabin Crossing north of Eilat when 150 Haredi Jews were essentially imprisoned for 48 hours upon entering the Jordanian side. According to their version of events, the Jordanian security officials insisted that they cut their traditional sidelocks. The official reason cited by the guards was that it was safer for tourists not to be visibly Jewish while traveling.

Israel has rejected that claim and as a result, Cohen has taken the usual step of issuing the rebuke letter, sending it to the Jordanian Embassy in Tel Aviv. In the letter, he writes that it is not the first time religious Jews are asked to take such discriminatory steps.

The Jordanian restrictions of this nature have been documented for several years now, and it includes a prohibition on having Jews publicly wear kippot or bring Jewish scripture, prayer shawls, and phylacteries, as well as kosher food. In his letter, Cohen said that while Israel appreciates the Jordanian desire to ensure the Israelis' security, it is inconceivable that this would result in having them not enter Jordan or force them to dispose of Jewish artifacts. He called on the Jordanian side to end this policy and offered to conduct dialogue to find a solution.

"It is just beyond the pale that Israelis would be discriminated against in the border crossing and denied entry just because they are religious Jews," Cohen said. "The peace between Israel and Jordan is important for both countries. We will engage the embassy in Israel and the Jordanian authorities so that we can find a solution for thousands of Israelis who want to visit Jordan but cannot currently do so just because they carry various items. We are taking many diplomatic steps to resolve this issue."
Illegal Palestinian construction on biblical site prompts rare Israel action
Over the past several days, Staff Officer for Archeology (SOA) inspectors within the Civil Administration carried out enforcement operations in the Tel Aroma archaeological site in Samaria, located in Area B, which is under Palestinian civilian control. This is a relatively rare operation since, up until several months ago, the Civil Administration refrained from enforcing violations of archaeological sites not located in Area C, which is in full Israeli control.

"Tel Aroma" is a biblical site mentioned in the Book of Judges and a Hasmonean fortress city. It overlooks the Itamar Ridge and has been suffering from extensive destruction of its archaeology. Among other incidents, it was discovered that a Hasmonean fortification wall with a unique Herodian addition of decorated stones was stolen. About a year ago, Israel Hayom revealed that the Palestinian Authority planned to build a Palestinian heritage site and a mosque commemorating the shahids (martyrs) at the location. This plan was considered "terrorism aimed at harming Jewish history" by Yossi Dagan, head of the Shomron Regional Council.

The "Shomrim al Hanetzach" (Preserving the Eternal) organization says that last week, the Civil Administration personnel confiscated an excavator used at the site to pave an illegal road while destroying archaeological finds. As a result of the excavator's confiscation, the violations were stopped.

The Civil Administration has recently changed its policy and began operating in Area B as well, where violations of antiquities laws and archaeological site destruction occur. Several months ago, Israel Hayom reported that the Civil Administration operated in the Khirbet Turpin ruins, also located in Area B. At the beginning of this month, SOA personnel operated in Khirbet Turpin again, confiscating four vehicles and arresting looters at the scene.

"We welcome the new trend," Moshe Gutman, chairman of Preserving the Eternal, noted. He said, "The State of Israel has understood that it is also responsible for heritage sites located in Area B. The policy change that began in Khirbet Turpin is spreading throughout Judea and Samaria, led by the political echelon. We hope to see more and more effective enforcement operations such as these. The heritage belongs to us all."
3 Palestinian gunmen killed by IDF when attacking Samaritan community near Nablus
Three Palestinian gunmen, claimed as members of the Hamas terror group, were killed by Israeli forces while attempting to attack a small Samaritan community in the northern West Bank on Tuesday morning, the military said.

The exchange of fire took place in the Mount Gerizim area, just south of Nablus, and close to the Jewish settlement of Har Bracha. The area is home to a tiny community of Samaritans, known as Shomronim in Hebrew.

According to the Israel Defense Forces, a car with the three gunmen arrived in the area, and two got out and opened fire at troops of the 603rd Combat Engineering Battalion who were guarding an army post at the entrance gate to the Samaritan community.

The IDF said the troops “engaged and neutralized” the gunmen. According to Palestinian media reports, the three were killed.

The Palestinian Authority health ministry said it was notified of the men’s deaths, indicating their bodies were being held by Israeli authorities.

The ministry later named them as Noureddine Tayseer al-Ardah, 32, Montaser Bahjat Ali Salameh, 33, and Saad Maher al-Kharraz, 43.

The military wing of the Hamas terror group later claimed responsibility for the attack, saying the slain gunmen were members.

PreOccupiedTerritory: Israeli Operation That Killed Only Armed Men Invoked To Prove Indiscriminate IDF Murder Of Civilians (satire)
A military incursion into this lawless Palestinian city several weeks ago resulted in the combat deaths of a dozen Palestinian men with weapons and the destruction or confiscation of significant caches of ammunition and explosives – and not a single death among the city’s noncombatants, a statistic that anti-Israel activists and propagandists have cited in support of the claim that Israel engages in the wanton killing of innocents.

Observers and analysts noted over the last few weeks that the initial narratives surrounding the IDF’s operation, narratives that focused on allegedly wanton destruction, or unsubstantiated accusations of Israeli brutality, eventually faded when Israeli military sources released documentation and video of the operation and debunked many of the claims. Unable to produce evidence of Israel targeting civilians, since none died, the activists shifted to calling armed men as old as their thirties “youths,” hoping to capitalize on Western credulity and exploit Western sensibilities against harming children, sensibilities that the Palestinians do not share, having trained and armed teenagers to shoot at or bomb Jews, knowing the consequences of such actions.

Unable to find wrenching videos or photos of suffering Palestinians in Jenin – and having run low on such material from, for example, Syria, Africa, or Ukraine to repurpose and relabel as “Palestine” – the propagandists have decided to simply assert the opposite of what the evidence does show, observers note.
IDF says no threat after Hezbollah members seen patrolling on northern border
Members of the Lebanese Hezbollah terror group were filmed carrying out a patrol on Israel’s border while fitted with military gear, in what appeared to be a violation of a United Nations resolution, the Israeli military said Tuesday.

Israel Defense Forces troops filmed the camouflaged Hezbollah members walking along the border near the northern Israeli town of Dovev last week. The troops did not engage the patrol, and on Tuesday footage of the close encounter leaked.

“During routine activity last week, the IDF recorded Hezbollah operatives moving in Lebanese territory near the border fence,” the military said in response to a query on the matter.

The IDF downplayed the incident, saying the operatives did not cross the so-called Blue Line border demarcation and were under surveillance the entire time.

“If they had crossed [the Blue Line], the forces would have acted accordingly,” the IDF said.

United Nations Security Council Resolution 1701, which ended a month-long war in 2006, bars armed groups aside from the official Lebanese military and peacekeeping United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon from operating south of Lebanon’s Litani River.

PMW: PA depicts Israelis/Jews as animals
Depicting Israelis and Jews as animals is one of the Palestinian Authority's practices in its cartoons. The depiction of Israel as a crocodile has appeared a few times recently in the official PA daily. In the above cartoon Israel – the crocodile with an Israeli flag on its snout - is opening its jaws to reveal rows of houses with red roofs characteristic of Jewish towns in Judea and Samaria. [Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, July 20, 2023]

Last month, the PA daily printed this cartoon below, also showing Israel as a crocodile, this time with fangs protruding from its mouth with Stars of David on them, and houses with red roofs on its head and back.

Text on cartoon in English and Arabic: “Settlement”
[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, June 15, 2023]

The crocodile image is not new. Palestinian Media Watch has documented similar cartoons in the past like this one of a crocodile closing its jaws on buildings that have an Israeli security wall in front of them:

Text on cartoon in English and Arabic: “State of Palestine”
[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, July 5, 2021]

PMW documented a cartoon 20 years ago in which a crocodile with a Star of David is swallowing up a Palestinian man:
[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Oct. 9, 2003]

For over almost 3 decades PMW has exposed the PA’s demonization and animalization of Israel in cartoons and images. Other repeating comparisons include Israel as a poisonous snake, a shark, a scorpion, a black raven killing the dove of peace, and even as COVID.
Abbas’ advisor: Allah will destroy Israel before its 80th year
PA Supreme Shari’ah Judge Mahmoud Al-Habbash: “The cause of Palestine and the struggle in Palestine is the greatest existential struggle, and the global struggle that is taking place here. It began in the West, where the idea ripened to invent Israel, to invent a state of Jews, a state for the Jews. An invention – this never existed in history… Allah has written, “I will surely overcome, I and My messengers” [Quran 58:21, Sahih International translation]. Do not doubt that we will triumph. We are certain that we will triumph, and we are certain that Palestine will be liberated in its entirety, all of Palestine. By the way, they [the Jews] also know this for a certainty. Therefore, we have heard [Israeli PM] Netanyahu say that he wishes that Israel will reach its 80th year. He has doubt, and we are certain [it will not].”
[Official PA TV, July 7, 2023]

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

PA summer camp skit: "Israelis" attack Palestinian kneeling in prayer
The video shows children participating in the PA summer camps.
Girl 1: “In your opinion, what are we learning in our summer camps?” …
Girl 2: “In the national education corner, we get to know our land’s prisoners, its history, and its holy sites. The most important thing is that you remember that our Martyrs are moons and not numbers.”

Summer camp participants enact a play in which “Israeli soldiers” with “guns” attack a Palestinian kneeling in prayer.

Children hold signs with the names of terrorist “Martyrs” written on them, including 2 murderers:
“Martyr Baha Al-Awawdeh” (i.e., terrorist)
“Martyr Omar Abu Laila” (i.e., terrorist who murdered 2)
“Martyr Muhammad Al-Faqih” (i.e., terrorist who murdered 1)
[PLO Supreme Council for Youth and Sports, Facebook page, July 12, 2023]

Children taught to see themselves as Martyrs in PA summer camps
Children participating in PA summer camps in the Gaza Strip are taught to honor past terrorist “Martyrs” and to envision themselves as “Martyrs.” In a procession, children held signs that read: “I am Martyr number,” followed by a different number for each child.

PA summer camp sports instruction board member Mirfat Al-Baitar: “We came to participate in launching the summer camps named ‘Moons and Not Numbers,’ which are dedicated to the Martyrs’ bodies that are being held by the Israeli occupation. For the sports event we picked the name of Nasser Abu Hmeid (i.e., terrorist, responsible for murder of 7), because he is the latest Martyr of medical neglect in the occupation’s prisons, and his body is still being held by the occupation.” [Official PA TV, Palestine This Morning, July 15, 2023]

Nasser Abu Hmeid - Palestinian terrorist responsible for the murder of 7 Israelis, and a commander of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades (Fatah's military wing) in Ramallah. : Those murdered: Eli Cohen in a shooting attack in central Israel on Dec. 21, 2000; Husband and wife Binyamin and Talia Kahane in a drive-by shooting attack near Ofra, north of Jerusalem, on Dec. 31, 2000; Gadi Rejwan in a shooting attack in the Jerusalem on Feb. 27, 2002; and Yosef Habi, Eli Dahan, and Police Officer Sergeant-Major Salim Barakat in an attack at the Seafood Market and Mifgash Hasteak restaurants in Tel Aviv on March 5, 2002. Abu Hmeid who was serving 7 life sentences, was diagnosed with lung cancer in August 2021 and died on Dec. 20, 2022.

Kids in PA summer camps taught to see terrorists as “moons”
Text on screen: “Who are you, pioneer?”

The video shows children participating in the PLO Supreme Council for Youth and Sports summer camps speaking
Girl: “My sister is Martyr Mai Afaneh (i.e., terrorist)”
Boy 1: “My friend is heroic Martyr Fayez Damdoum (i.e., terrorist).”
Boy 2: “I am the friend of Martyr Fayez Damdoum, who died as a Martyr on Oct. 1, 2022.”
Boy 3: “Martyr Yamen Jaffal and Martyr Nassim Abu Roumi (i.e., terrorists) are my friends.”

Text on screen: “And who are our Martyrs?”
The children repeat the same line one after the other:
Children: “Our Martyrs are moons and not numbers”
[PLO Supreme Council for Youth and Sports, Facebook page, July 17, 2023]

MEMRI: Syrian Social Media Users Mock School Exam That Included Question On How Syria Can Win Back The Golan Heights From Israel
In the recent years, Syria's school exams have received much attention in the local media due to reports about widespread cheating and about power outages or lack of heating in the schools during the exams. This year such reports appeared as well, but what especially caught the attention of the media was one of the questions on a ninth grade social studies exam. The question asked the pupils "to propose ways to recapture the occupied Syrian Golan" from "the Zionist enemy."

The question was widely shared on social media and evoked sarcastic responses from Syrians, including both supporters and opponents of the regime. The following are some of these responses.

The Exam Should Have Asked How To Win Back The Rest Of Syria From The Foreign Forces That Are Occupying It
Some social media users were amused by the fact that the question about recapturing the Golan was posed to ninth graders. User Yousuf Shakir, from Al-Suwayda in southern Syria, wrote: "The grown-ups don't know the answer, so how can junior high school students [know it]?"[1] "Fuad Al-Dimashqi" remarked, "They are unable to find a solution, so they decided to consult the ninth graders."[2] "Dharar bu Madhar" asked, "Where is the wise Syrian leadership?"[3] and others commented that the author of the exam was probably just as stumped by the question as the ninth graders were.[4]

Other users commented on the fact that this question was posed to the students when Syria itself is divided between the forces of Russia, Iran, Turkey and the U.S. "Mdean Alm" from Al-Suwayda wrote: "They should have [asked] how to win back Syria [itself] from the occupation, not the Golan."[5] "Abu Bahaa Al-Mu'ad" wrote in a similar vein: "And the rest of Syria, how will we win it back?"[6]

The Assad Family Sold The Golan To Israel
Some responders took the opportunity to slam the Syrian regime's policy vis-à-vis Israel. Many wrote sarcastically that the way to recapture the Golan was to "reserve the right to respond," echoing the statements issued by the regime in response to attacks on Syrian territory attributed to Israel. "'Abdallah 'Abdo" from Aleppo wrote: "Reserving the right to respond is the best way to win back the occupied lands, for what was taken by force will only be restored by reserving the right to respond."[7]

Many regime opponents reiterated an old claim, that Syrian president Hafez Al-Assad, the father of the current president, had sold the Golan to Israel.[8] A user on the anti-regime Twitter page "Syrian Center for Investigation of Crimes" wrote: "A ninth grade social sciences exam composed by Assad's criminal gang included a question on how to liberate the occupied Golan. Dear students, you will know the answer if you realize that the [dead and] buried Hafez Al-Assad sold the Golan in exchange for a 50 million dollar check, which he deposited in a Swiss bank before selling out the entire country."[9]

JCPA: Iran’s Growing Cyber Influence Operations Must be Confronted
Conclusions and Recommendations:
Given these emerging and increasingly effective influence strategies, the Israeli government should convene a committee of experts and practitioners to develop a comprehensive defense-against-influence strategy to mitigate their impact on its citizens.

Education should be a core component of such a strategy. Identifying influence operations is like a muscle that needs to be trained and strengthened. Therefore, the government should create a publicly accessible online platform with carefully tailored curricula to increase the Israeli public’s digital literacy, where they can learn about the existence of malign foreign influence and ways to identify it.

Moreover, since Israel and the United States are the primary targets of Iranian influence operations, the two allies should work together by sharing knowledge and alerting one another of influence campaigns that target one another. This cooperation can be done through a framework consisting of the proposed Israeli committee and the FMIC.

The United States and Israeli governments must understand that while election interference and disinformation are threats that need confronting, other under-scrutinized influence strategies must also be addressed. The American and Israeli people must not be exploited as pawns in covert political warfare.
Bolivia facing questions over shadowy defense pact with Iran
The Argentine government and members of Bolivia’s opposition demanded answers Monday following the sealing of an opaque defense agreement between Iran and Bolivia that raised concerns in South America’s Southern Cone that it could be a way for Tehran to boost its influence in the region.

The deal reached last week has particularly raised concerns in Argentina, where prosecutors have long alleged that Iranian officials were behind the 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish community center in Buenos Aires that killed 85 people. Iran has denied any involvement in the attack.

Argentina’s Foreign Ministry sent a note to the Bolivian embassy in Buenos Aires on Monday “requesting information about the scope of the discussions and possible agreements reached during the official visit of (Bolivian Defense) Minister Edmundo Novillo to the Islamic Republic of Iran,” an official at Argentina’s Foreign Ministry said, requesting anonymity because they were not authorized to speak on the record.

The note from Argentina’s diplomatic headquarters came on the same day as members of Bolivia’s opposition submitted a written request to the government demanding information about the scope of the agreement sealed July 20.

“The defense minister must explain the agreement and why it has been signed with a country that has complications on the international stage when Bolivia is supposed to be pacifist according to its constitution,” Gustavo Aliaga, a Bolivian opposition lawmaker who is the secretary of the Defense and Armed Forces Committee in the Chamber of Deputies, told The Associated Press.

Iranian Defense Minister Mohammad Reza Ashtiani signed the defense and security memorandum of understanding with Novillo in Tehran, according to a report from Iran’s state-run news agency IRNA.

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Elder of Ziyon - حـكـيـم صـهـيـون

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