Saturday, September 02, 2023

From Ian:

Zionism is a model for indigenous people
“Forget the Jews for a while and focus on your own backyard.”

This unsolicited morsel of advice left me taken aback. I had just spent two weeks at Oxford attending a course on Critical Contemporary Antisemitism by the Institute for the Study of Global Antisemitism and Policy. Such a rebuke gave me cause for reflection. Why should an indigenous person from distant New Zealand care about what happens to Jews in the Middle East and elsewhere?

Oft-cited is the phrase “Jews are the canary in the coal mine”. In other words, rising antisemitism is an unmistakable sign that society is in deep trouble.

Antisemitism globally is displaying an alarming upward trend, a trend that is coincidental with – likely lubricated and accelerated by – increasing polarization within Western-style democracies. As is painfully obvious, the latter is a phenomenon from which Israel is not exempt.

Antisemitic incidents in the US reached their highest level last year since the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) began such records in 1979.

A 2021 survey on antisemitism in my own nation found that 63% of New Zealanders held at least one antisemitic view and some 6% held nine or more antisemitic views (based on 18 questions posed to expose antisemitic ideas.)

Further, antisemitism emerges from a bewildering range of divergent worldviews. If this means society is indeed desperately ill, perhaps we should all care about the Jews?

Another reason for my concern over Jewish issues is that there are many “in my backyard” who seem to think it’s noble to attack and demonize Israel. As a Christian, I cannot ignore nearly 2,000 years of persecution of Jews perpetrated in the name of Christ. While I can’t be held responsible for such attitudes and actions, it naturally and properly creates for me a deeply rooted connection to the issue.

Viewing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through a settler colonialist lens
Many New Zealanders view Israel through the lens of our own settler colonialist history: the Jews, like the British, are seen as white European colonizers; the Palestinians, as akin to my own people, the indigenous Māori.

SUCH IS the narrative. But like so many narratives, it lacks even a passing resemblance to the facts of history.

The British were complete strangers to the land of Aotearoa New Zealand. In contrast, for the Jewish people, Israel is the ancestral homeland. It was here that a distinctive indigenous Jewish culture, language and religion began to develop more than 3,000 years ago. And despite multiple dispersions, there has always been a residual Jewish presence in the land; for Jews in the Diaspora, an inextinguishable longing for the land. Thus, as an indigenous person, it’s most natural for me to recognize in the Jewish experience and history the markers of indigeneity.

Of course, Arabs are indigenous too – to Arabia. They came to Palestine (so named by the Romans as an act of cultural erasure) many centuries later.

One of presenters at Oxford remarked that Zionism is about reclaiming the land. “We walk the land. We know every stone – we know the land”. (Yossi Shain, ISGAP 2023) This is very much an indigenous trait. The recovery of the Hebrew language is also an inspiration to other indigenous peoples seeking to revive their language.

Moreover, while many critical race theorists insist on defining Jews as white, with all the attendant oppressor class guilt associated with whiteness, Jews generally do not identify themselves as such. Indeed, only two generations ago Jews were hunted down and murdered by the millions, in large measure because they were not white.
The Land of Israel is ours, apply sovereignty and heal Oslo's damages
He writes that “In the Oslo process Israel recognized the PLO as per its self-definition, namely, “the representative of the Palestinian people,” while the PLO did not recognize Israel as a Jewish democratic state, as per its self-definition. Israel merely accepted the PLO’s recognition of Israel’s “right to exist in peace and security.” Even also notes: “Violence proved to be part of the Palestinian strategy and was intended to exert pressure on Israel.” The more terrorism has increased, the more Israeli support for the Oslo Accords has decreased.

NOW WE are dealing with new agreements. Peace agreements with Arab states, currently being discussed, come at the price of sovereignty. Interestingly, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Morocco are able to turn a blind eye to Jewish construction in Judea and Samaria but are unwilling to accept sovereignty. The reason is that the Arabs understand the value of the land, and they understand that when Israel imposes sovereignty over the areas of Judea, Samaria, and the Jordan Valley, it will finally determine that this is our land.

We are at a critical juncture in time. International pressure is growing, the youth do not remember Operation Defensive Shield and the reasons we staged it; and in the meantime, we are losing thousands of acres in Judea and Samaria to illegal Arab take-overs and are “partners” in the establishment of a de facto Palestinian state.

We are in the middle of a national emergency. The damage that the Oslo architects caused is tremendous. Israel must urgently return to the path of Zionism and build major cities and industrial zones in Judea, Samaria, and the Jordan Valley, to spread out the Jewish population eastward and officially ensure massive aliyah from all over the world and security on all our borders.

First and foremost, the eastern border must urgently be secured through the application of sovereignty over the Jordan Valley, restoring governability and deterrence. There is broad consensus regarding the Jordan Valley from Yigal Allon, through Yitzhak Rabin, Benny Gantz, and many others who are concerned about the future of our land from across the entire political spectrum.

We call on the prime minister to step up and apply sovereignty, as this is the appropriate response to remedy the enormous damages of the Oslo Accords.
Why the Palestinian Arabs continue their war against Israel
Despite offers of statehood ever since the Oslo Accords in 1993 and 1995, amplified by then-PMs Ehud Barak and, even more by Ehud Olmert, Palestinian Arab leaders have consistently refused to recognize Israel’s right to exist. The question is, why? They insist that all of what was “Palestine” belongs to them, and that Israel must be destroyed; it’s explicit in the PLO Covenant and the Hamas Charter. Still, logically they could take whatever Israel offered, and do whatever they wanted later.

The answer is provided by Henry Kissinger’s perspective of the war in Vietnam.

"The North Vietnamese and Vietcong, fighting in their own country, needed merely to keep in being forces sufficiently strong to dominate the population after the United States tired of the war. We fought a military war; our opponents fought a political one. We sought physical attrition, our opponents aimed for our psychological exhaustion. In the process we lost sight of one of the cardinal maxims of guerrilla war: the guerrilla wins if he does not lose. The conventional army loses if it does not win. "

That is the strategy of the PLO, Hamas, and Jihadists. As they see it, they are in a war of attrition which requires constant terrorism and no compromises.As long as Israel does not destroy them -- and instead negotiates with them -- they see this as wining. And, they continue to receive support.

Israeli Arab political parties, despite their alliance with the Muslim Brotherhood, decided to become members of the Knesset not only for financial rewards, but to support Israeli concessions in the Oslo Accords, and to legitimize the arch terrorist, Yasser Arafat. Although criticized by Hamas, the PLO argued that they should take advantage of every opportunity to consolidate power as a tactical move, while continuing to support terrorism and promote anti-Semitism as a strategy.

In their view, the Arab population in Israel will increase and will become more powerful and influential in Israeli politics and society. They will continue to demand “ending the occupation of Palestine,” removing Jewish communities in the “West Bank” (“settlements”) as “illegal according to international law,” their “rights to self-determination” as a sovereign state, the two-state-solution,” (2SS), and the “Right of Return” (to Israel) for Arabs in UNRWA facilities in Lebanon, Syria, and Israel. The PA/PLO continues its “pay-for-slay” policy, and all of this is supported by America, Canada, the EU and UN agencies, and others around the world.

Almost 50 years after forgotten Kiryat Shmona massacre, a new film seeks to remind us
In the blink of an eye, Yossi Chitrit lost his wife and three of his children.

Close to 50 years later, he sobs as he recalls standing outside his apartment building, knowing that terrorists had stormed inside and opened fire on anyone they came across.

On that day in April 1974, three terrorists crossed the border from Lebanon into Israel, walked into a building in Kiryat Shmona and ultimately killed 18 people inside. In the decades that have followed, the horrific massacre has largely faded from the public consciousness, with many unaware that the terror attack ever happened and little national remembrance.

A new film titled “A Haunted Home” (“The House in Kiryat Shmona” in Hebrew) seeks to restore the incident in public memory and explore why it ended up forgotten. The movie, which premiered at the Jerusalem Film Festival in July, will air on Sunday in Israel on the HOT cable network.

Co-created by Lisa Peretz, Robby Elmaliah and Ilanit Baumann, and co-directed by Peretz and Elmaliah, the movie revisits the painful events of 1974 and examines the deep trauma it left behind on residents of the northern border city, which less than a year earlier had been terrorized by hundreds of rockets fired during the Yom Kippur War.

“It was an open wound, but it wasn’t spoken about,” Elmaliah told The Times of Israel in a recent interview. “The people who experienced it, the eyewitnesses, distanced themselves from the building, from the trauma.”

Piecing together archival footage with testimony from survivors and bereaved family members and some illustrations, the film deftly draws viewers into the heartbreaking story. Arguably the most painful recounting comes from Iris Chitrit, who was 9 years old during the attack, in which her mother and all three of her siblings were killed.

She recalled how she hid behind a closet door with her 4-year-old brother, holding onto his hand, as she heard the gunmen shooting the rest of her family. “There was a moment of silence and Motti pulled away from my hand,” she said. “And then I heard another volley of bullets… I wasn’t holding him tightly. Not tightly enough, apparently.”

Elmaliah said once they tracked down the bereaved family members — all of whom left the city following the massacre — not all were willing to speak about their experiences.

“Not everyone wanted to take part in the film,” he said. “It was very hard for them, how it brought them right back.” But for some of the survivors, he added, “it was very important to them to do this movie — for them it was coming full circle.”
Belgian minister: Israelis are 'wiping Palestinian villages off the map'

Hamas and the Palestinian Authority celebrate the comments

In a press statement, Hamas official Basem Naim said that these remarks are “in line with the facts about the situation in Palestine that are confirmed in UN reports.”

The European Union, of which Belgium is a member, classified Hamas as a terrorist organization.

The Palestinian Authority’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates also welcomed the statements made by Gennez in a statement. They stated that “fully consistent with international law and resolutions of international legitimacy and support the two-state solution and the principles of human rights,” according to WAFA.

The Palestinian Ministry continued by condemning Israeli official’s reactions to Gennez’ comments.

Israeli officials’ reactions to Gennez's comments
Israel’s ambassador to Belgium and Luxembourg, Idit Rosenzweig-Abu condemned Gennez’ comments on X (formerly known as Twitter), writing: “Yesterday I was shocked to read the libelous and defamatory accusation made by @carogennez in her interview in @demorgen Today the Embassy has issued an official letter of protest to Minister Gennez and to @BelgiumMFA. The Belgian ambassador in Israel was summoned to the MFA for reprimand and required to provide explanations.”

The Israel Guys: Urgent Security Update from Israel! Four Terrorist Attacks in the Last 24 Hours
There have been three terror attacks here in Israel in the last couple of day We’re going to break them all down for you here on the show. Crazy stuff going on!

Why are Eritreans rioting against their regime in Israel?
Over 100 people have been injured during riots in South Tel Aviv after the Eritrean Embassy attempted to hold an event at a local venue.

Protesters claim they had contacted police numerous times to try and prevent the embassy from holding the event.

Fighting broke out between pro-government and anti-government protesters as well as the police, Saturday afternoon.

Eritreans complain of tracking, dispute on refugee status
Anti-government protesters have long complained about the embassy's attempts to monitor and track refugees from Eritrea.

Ongoing disputes with the Israeli government over refugee and asylum status have also been cited by protesters as part of the rationale for the riots.

Eritrean Embassy effects
Last week, the Swiss newspaper St. Galler Tagblatt reported that the Eritrean Embassy had been sending spies disguised as refugees to extort money from refugees.

The paper reported on multiple stories of people who had fled the country being tracked down and threatened to pay back "debts" or "taxes" they owed back home.

One woman, who fled with her young daughter, was sent a picture of her daughter on the way to school tagged with the phrase "we know everything. You have debts in your country!” This is related to the "diaspora tax" levied on citizens living abroad.
Netanyahu looks to deport Eritreans after hundreds hurt in Tel Aviv riot
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will convene a ministerial task force on Sunday to look into Saturday's riots in Tel Aviv by Eritrean asylum seekers, the Prime Minister's Office said.

The statement, which referred to the rioters as illegal residents, noted that the task force would look into implementing steps against the rioters, including deportation.

Hundreds of police officers and refugees were injured as protests in Tel Aviv by Eritrean asylum seekers against the East African nation's regime turned violent, Israel Police and local hospitals reported.

At least 160 people were injured in total, eight in a serious condition, 13 in moderate, and 93 sustaining light injuries. Almost 50 police officers were also injured, most suffering from bruises and other injuries caused by stone-throwing, police confirmed.

Sheba Medical Center declared a mass casualty incident, as 29 injured individuals were brought to the hospital. Among them, 22 were in stable condition and two were in critical condition and received treatment in the intensive care unit. One of them is unconscious and intubated, Sheba said.

Another 13 victims arrived at Shamir Medical Center, including four in stable condition and one in moderate condition. At Wolfson Medical Center, 26 people were admitted, among them nine police officers, all of whom were in light condition. Beilinson Medical Center admitted 20 injured, including three with serious injuries.

Sourasky Medical Center was reporting 38 injured, among them 12 in serious condition, while eight arrived at Sharon Medical Center, all with light injuries.

Smotrich: High Court is 'solely responsible' for Eritrean riot in Tel Aviv
Political leaders came out against the riots in Tel Aviv on Saturday by Eritrean migrants against their country’s government, including attacks against the current governing coalition’s handling of the situation.

“What happened today in the streets of Tel Aviv is not a legitimate protest, but severe violence. Justice must be meted out to the perpetrators, order must be restored, and lessons must be learned from the latest incident and the overall damage to governance under the current government,” said National Unity leader MK Benny Gantz on Saturday evening.

Opposition head Yair Lapid added that “the right-wing government fully promised that it would handle the immigration crisis. As usual with them, the situation only got worse and the chaos is raging. We handled it quietly, without statements large, in recognition of the complexity of the subject.

“This government is not functioning.”

During Saturday’s protests outside the Eritrean embassy at least 160 people were injured, eight in a serious condition, 13 in moderate, and 93 sustaining light injuries. Almost 50 police officers were also injured, most suffering from bruises and other injuries caused by stone-throwing, police confirmed.

“I am about to propose a bill to eliminate illegal migrants. The proposal will include a clause against High Court intervention,” said Likud MK Boaz Bismuth.

"In the Saturday riots, which were only the promo for what awaits us if we do not return the infiltrators to their countries of origin, there is only one responsible: the High Court. For years we have been warning, for years the High Court has prevented any action that would allow the infiltrators to be returned to their homes. That is precisely why we are leading the reforms in the judicial system that will allow elected officials to make decisions and carry them out for the citizens of Israel, their safety and security," Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich said on Saturday night.

Jordan is behind recent shakeups in the PA, experts say
Rumors of imminent changes within the Palestinian Authority government continue to swirl, despite official denials from Ramallah.

News of a possible cabinet reshuffle is neither "new" nor "news," an official in Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh's office told The Media Line.

"The prime minister is continuing with his schedule and it is business as usual," the aide said. "We know that the president wants to make changes. Mr Shtayyeh has offered his resignation in the past but it was declined, so until we hear the news officially, we will go on as usual."

Earlier this month, PA President Mahmoud Abbas fired 12 provincial governors in the West Bank and Gaza Strip in what many say is part of an "overhaul" in personnel in the political and security structure. The shakeup continued some days later with the announcement of the retirement of 35 of his foreign envoys, all of them over the age of 65.

Experts believe the dismissals are an attempt to promote newer leadership and quell increasing domestic, regional, and international criticism of the PA.

Ramallah-based political analyst Esmat Mansour told The Media Line that Abbas’s visit to Jordan contributed to the speed with which he carried out the firings.

“It is not possible for the president to ignore Arab advice, as well as international demands, out of fear for the future and fate of the PA,” Mansour said.

Analysts say the Palestinian leadership is scrambling to appease regional players while satisfying the disgruntled Palestinian street, which sees the PA as ineffective, incompetent, and a tool in the hands of Israel.

MEMRI: Pan-Arab Nationalists, Islamists Strongly Criticize Organizers And Supporters Of The 'Egyptians Not Arabs' Campaign, Accusing Them Of Fostering Divisions Among Arabs And Promoting Western Agendas
On August 3, 2023, Kmt Boutique, a printing service shop self-described as "the first Egyptian nationalist brand dedicated to promoting the Egyptian identity," made an announcement that it was introducing new t-shirts celebrating figures, characters, and the Hieroglyphic script of ancient Egyptian civilization. Some of these shirts featured the statement "Egyptians not Arabs." Within a few days, this statement evolved into a trending hashtag, sparking a fervent debate between proponents of the campaign and those who opposed it, including pan-Arab Nationalists and Islamists.

In their critique of the campaign against Egyptian nationalism, pan-Arab Nationalists and Islamists accuse the campaign's organizers of exacerbating divisions among Arabs, rejecting Islam, and advancing foreign agendas. They even ridiculed the campaign organizers for using the Arabic alphabet instead of the ancient Egyptian language.

However, supporters of the campaign, like Egypt-Awareness, which identifies itself as "the pulse of the Egyptian Nationalist Stream," clarified that Egyptian nationalism transcends religious or ideological affiliations. They emphasized that "language, as a singular standard, does not dictate the identities of peoples. Therefore, considering the people of West Africa as French solely because of their native language, French, is implausible." They further asserted that Egyptian nationalism is disconnected from fascism, isolationism, racism, animosity toward other peoples, or any other unsubstantiated and recurrent accusations.

This report will review the criticisms leveled by Pan-Arab Nationalists and Islamists against the campaign organizers and supporters, while also highlighting the responses and counterarguments presented by Egyptian nationalists and the campaign supporters.

While condemning the campaign and using on the platform X, formerly called Twitter, the hashtag "Egyptians not Arabs," Syrian jihadi cleric Abu Yahya Al-Shami wrote on August 21, 2023: "An ignorant claim written by a detached opportunist in the Arabic language. Following Lebanon's claim of Phoenician heritage, Morocco's claim of Amazigh heritage, and Turkey's claim of Turkish heritage, along with the war waged against the Arabic language, in Egypt, the claim of Coptic or Egyptian Pharaonic heritage has emerged."[1]

In a subsequent post, Al-Shami further claimed that the goal of the campaign "is not to reject or fight Arab nationalism, but rather Islam and its timeless language," stating: "How can a Muslim be content with denying Arabic, not taking pride in it, despite it being the language of the Quran? Unless they are estranged, following what the devils dictate. And perhaps this person is of Arab origin yet remains unaware of their heritage. Arabs have spread from China to Andalusia and are among the most prolific nations in terms of reproduction."[2]
Druze protests expose the Assad regime's Achilles' heel
Large-scale protests against the regime of President Bashar Assad have entered their second week in southern Syria. The protests originated in – and are focused on – the majority Druze province of Sweida. However, other parts of the country have also witnessed protests and strikes.

Among these areas is Deraa province, which adjoins Sweida, and where the original demonstrations that sparked the Syrian civil war took place in early 2011. Rallies have also taken place in Jarama, areas of Idlib Province, neighborhoods of eastern Aleppo, and in the coastal Latakia Province, host to a large Alawi population – and often considered the heartland and cradle of Assad’s rule.

In Sweida, the demonstrations are focused on Karamah Square in Sweida City, the capital of the province. According to the pro-opposition Syria TV, the protesters have closed down the Ba’ath Party headquarters in the city, along with a number of other state institutions. The channel reported that partial roadblocks have been set up in a number of areas of the province, including Majadel, Shahba, Mardak, al-Hawya, and Arman.

How have protests returned to Syria?
Protesters have chanted well-known slogans associated with the early period of the Syrian uprising, such as “The people demand the downfall of the regime,” and “The Syrian people are one.” Other slogans raised at Karamah Square – according to opposition sources – include “Against the dominance of Iran and its allies,” and “A political solution is more than just a constitutional Committee.” The latter slogan refers to the moribund diplomatic process regarding the Syrian conflict.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, also opposition-linked but with an established record of reliability, reported on August 25 that more than 4,000 people from across Sweida province took part in demonstrations in recent days.
Seth Frantzman: Druze protests in Syria stokes solidarity in Lebanon, Israel
Two weeks of protests in southern Syria by the Druze minority in the city and district of Suwayda have led to discussions by members of the community in Israel and Lebanon about solidarity for those in Syria.

The protests in Syria are momentous and come after many years where the minority community has suffered in southern Syria. While the Druze did not mostly join or support the Syrian rebellion, they also faced complex challenges from the Syrian regime. The regime has often threatened to unleash extremists against them. ISIS attacks are one example.

While the Syrian regime has now returned to normalization with much of the region, the regime still faces internal crisis. It doesn’t control eastern or northern Syria. Druze in Suwayda complain of many issues, including economic problems. Protests have been ongoing for two weeks and they are considered some of the largest protests against the regime in Suwayda since 2011.

The protests have included chants against the Assad regime. Now that protesters appear to be directing more anger at the regime, rather than just protests regarding various issues, such as fuel costs, there are concerns that the regime may resort to violence or enable attacks by extremists.

The protests continue in Suwayda and may spread to other areas. The Syrian regime has weak control over some areas such as Dara’a and areas near Suwayda.

Druze in Syria have been at the center of this complexity in the past.

During the early years of the Syrian Civil War, the regime relied on Druze for support and there were Druze officers in the regime’s army that played a key role. Attacks by extremists against Druze also led communities to feel that the Syrian rebellion might turn on them. In the town of Khader near the Golan for instance the regime was able to control the Druze town while rebels controlled nearby areas. This led to controversy in Druze areas in the Golan.

Iranian Regime's Mullahs Pocketing Billions Thanks to the Biden Administration
The Biden administration continues to ratchet up its appeasement policies with the ruling mullahs probably to revive the disastrous nuclear deal which would pave the way for the Islamist regime of Iran legally to have as many nuclear weapons as it likes; lift sanctions against the theocratic regime; strengthen the ruling mullahs with additional billions of dollars -- for terrorism, nuclear weapons, the missiles to deliver them, "exporting the Revolution", and suppressing their own people -- and allow them to rejoin the global financial system and enhance their legitimacy on the global stage.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced last month that America "will continue to enforce all of our sanctions" and "will continue to push back on Iran's destabilizing activities in the region and beyond."

That just is not accurate. Sanctions are not being enforced: Iran's oil export is booming and has surged above two million barrels a day. The ruling mullahs are now producing ever more oil and selling it at levels close to the pre-sanctions era to countries such as China, which desperately needs it, while the Biden administration has effectively cut off US oil exploration.

"Although we have some other incomes," former President Hassan Rouhani previously acknowledged, "the only revenue that can keep the country going is the oil money." –, November 19, 2019.

Instead of enforcing sanctions, the Biden administration has been issuing waivers, making the sanctions appear to be simply cosmetic.

"At least $16 billion has now been made available to Iran without any congressional input—and more might be on the way. Another $6.7 billion is reportedly moving to Iran via the International Monetary Fund Special Drawing Rights... and reportedly ... another $3 billion of regime assets frozen in Tokyo. India and China...." – Richard Goldberg, former White House security official,, August 15, 2023.

The regime will most likely use the funds to further arm and assist Russia in its invasion of Ukraine; brutalize its own citizens; undermine US national security interests; fund its terrorist and militia groups across the Middle East and expand more deeply into Latin America.

"Of course the Biden administration lied that they wouldn't waive sanctions on Iran just days before they did so. They know that by allowing money to pour into Iran, they are not only endangering the safety and security of Americans but also undermining everything they claim to believe about defeating Putin. They say that Iran is a terror sponsor and Russia's top military backer, but appeasing Iran and getting back into a nuclear deal with the Ayatollah is more important to them. They are funding both sides of the Ukraine war." – US Senator Ted Cruz,, March 24, 2023.

By appeasing and giving billions of dollars to the ruling mullahs of Iran, and by turning a blind eye to enforcing sanctions against their expansionist regime, the Biden administration is directly contributing to Iran's brutal crackdown on its population, its sponsorship of terrorism worldwide, its delivery of weapons to Russia to use against Ukraine, and its escalating threat not only to Europe and the Middle East, but urgently, in Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua, to America and America's national interests.

Justice Department Reportedly Looking Into Iran Ties of Salman Rushdie’s Stabber
The U.S. Attorney’s Office is reportedly investigating whether the man accused of stabbing British author Salman Rushdie last year had ties to an Iranian terrorist group.

Hadi Matar was arrested on August 12, 2022, for allegedly stabbing Rushdie, the award-winning author whose 1988 novel The Satanic Verses earned him a fatwa from Iran, on stage at a Chautauqua Institution festival in New York. The media largely portrayed Matar as a "lone wolf," but federal prosecutors have launched a broader investigation into the son of Lebanese immigrants' possible ties to Hezbollah, an Islamist militant group, or the Iranian regime, according to Chautauqua County’s district attorney Jason Schmidt, whose office is prosecuting Matar's case. Matar pleaded not guilty to charges of assault and attempted murder and will stand trial early next year.

The broadened investigation, which Schmidt told Semafor was "outside my paygrade," may have political implications for President Joe Biden's Iran nuclear deal, which analysts have said will bring Tehran even "closer to the nuclear threshold."

"I do think it does have political considerations and recognizing, for instance, that the Biden government is trying to negotiate with Iran now to kind of bring them back into a nuclear treaty," Schmidt said. "I understand that there’s a lot of considerations here that, you know, that are way outside my paygrade."

At the time of his arrest, Matar was carrying a fake driver's license displaying the name of a top Hezbollah commander. According to his mother, Matar visited his father in Lebanon in 2018 and "came back a totally changed person, deeply religious in the Shiite Muslim faith, and a supporter of Iran’s Islamic revolution." Federal prosecutors are investigating whether the Iranian-backed militia Hezbollah trained or radicalized Matar during that trip, according to Semafor.
Seth Frantzman: Iran warns enemies amid arrival of Russian Yak-130 training fighter jet
Iranian pro-government and government media say that the country is now operating the advanced Yak-130 training aircraft from Russia. The Yak-130 is designed to prepare Iranian pilots to fly advanced aircraft, such as 4th generation fighter jets. Iran has been seeking to acquire Russian aircraft for years to bolster its air force. It is not clear yet if this new arrival will mean that the much sort-after Iran-Russia Su-35 deal will be completed.

Images of the Yak-130 were released on Tasnim media, a pro-regime outlet with close ties to the IRGC.

The aircraft was developed in Russia and is used as a training jet for combat aircraft. Reports say it could help pilots to learn to fly the Su-35 or Su-57. This would mean a significant upgrade for Iran’s air force, which mostly consists of older aircraft, some dating from the 1960s and 1970s.

The technological advancement of the Yak-130
Pictures of the Yak-130 training fighter have been published in Iran, which show that this plane has been handed over to the Air Force, Iranian media reported. Pilots are expected to be able to learn from the trainer how to use various modern equipment on aircraft, such as HUD display and also fire control and weapon systems, the reports continued.

The Yak-130 has a radar with the ability to identify numerous targets at the same time and enable interception at ranges of 60km. In the field of navigation, this aircraft is equipped with GLONASS and GPS. GLONASS is similar to GPS used in Russia.

The Yak has been used in various capacities since 2011 and reports say it is used in Algeria, Vietnam, Bangladesh, Belarus, Myanmar and Syria, which have either ordered or used this aircraft.

UN rights group: Iranian hijab bill constitutes ‘gender apartheid’
A draft law in Iran ordering new penalties for women not wearing a headscarf in public could amount to “gender apartheid,” UN rights experts warned Friday.

Since the Islamic revolution of 1979, women in Iran have had to cover their hair and neck in public, with offenders facing fines or prison terms of up to two months.

A growing number of women have been defying the law and appearing bareheaded, especially since nationwide protests sparked by the death in custody last year of 22-year-old Iranian Kurd Mahsa Amini, arrested for allegedly violating the law.

Iran’s conservatives, who dominate the country’s parliament and leadership, have passionately defended the dress code.

In May, the judiciary and the government proposed a “Support for the Culture of Hijab and Chastity” bill, urging far stiffer penalties for non-compliance.

The bill raises fines and includes other penalties such as the temporary confiscation of a woman’s vehicle.

“The draft law could be described as a form of gender apartheid,” eight UN rights experts said in a statement.

“The authorities appear to be governing through systemic discrimination with the intention of suppressing women and girls into total submission.”

A Swiss university is hiring its next Jewish studies professor. Jews need not apply.
A public university in Switzerland is looking for its next Jewish studies professor, and one requirement on the job posting has drawn scrutiny from local Jews: all applicants to the position must be Catholic.

The opening, for a professor of Judaic studies and theology, is currently listed at the Faculty of Theology at the University of Lucerne, an hour south of Zurich.

Even though the university is public, that academic department is officially affiliated with the Catholic Church — which prohibits non-Catholic professors from teaching “doctrinal” courses such as philosophy, liturgy, scripture, Catholic theology and fundamental theology. That includes teaching about non-Christian religions such as Judaism. Non-Catholic professors may be invited as guest lecturers or visiting professors.

The Jewish studies and theology professor would be responsible for teaching and research related to Judaic studies, as well as leading the Institute for Jewish-Christian Research, according to the job posting.

Alfred Bodenheimer, who worked at the University of Lucerne from 1997 to 2003 in a Jewish teaching and research position, said the prohibition of non-Catholics hampered his career there.

“It seems to be the case that it simply doesn’t fit into our times anymore — that you say someone who teaches Jewish studies cannot be anyone else but a Catholic,” Bodenheimer, who now teaches at the University of Basel, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

“I really saw that as a Jewish person at this university, I would always be something like a subaltern, with no chance to have more possibilities, influence and so on,” he added. “I became aware of the fact that this whole situation was very asymmetric, that I as a Jew would always be not on the same stage as my Catholic boss.”

Like Lucerne, the University of Basel is a public university. But its theology department is Protestant, rather than affiliated with the Catholic Church. In total, Switzerland has 12 public universities, at least two of which have Catholic Church-affiliated theology departments.
Berkeley AEPi shellfish dump wasn’t antisemitic vandalism, police and fraternity say
Police investigating shellfish that were dumped on the grounds of the Jewish fraternity at the University of California, Berkeley, say they are no longer treating the vandalism as a potential hate crime.

Alpha Epsilon Pi had said it interpreted the strewn shellfish as an “act of antisemitic vandalism” because shellfish are barred by Jewish dietary laws. But the fraternity, university and local police since learned that AEPi’s house wasn’t the only target, they all confirmed.

“The Berkeley Police Department has determined that a hate crime did not occur,” Jessica Perry, a Berkeley police public information officer, said in an email on Thursday. “We confirmed that multiple fraternities had shellfish dumped in their yards on the early morning of August 26th. We want to reiterate that our department did not take this investigation lightly and confirmed through further investigation that the involved students did, in fact, not target Alpha Epsilon Pi.”

The incident began before 1 a.m. on August 26, the first Shabbat of the school year, when a fraternity brother noticed a half-dozen people with a bucket approach the house, Jadon Gershon-Friedberg, a UC Berkeley senior and AEPi chapter president who lives in the fraternity house, said earlier this week.

He and other fraternity members immediately checked around neighboring fraternity houses early Saturday to see whether shellfish had been dumped outside other fraternity houses. They concluded at the time that their house was the only target.

Gershon-Friedberg did not respond to requests for comment after the revelation that vandalism had taken place at multiple locations.

The Berkeley chapter of AEPi expressed relief in a statement but said the incident had left Jewish Berkeley students with concern.
Labour counts the cost of Corbyn
He may have lost the Labour whip, but Jeremy Corbyn’s shadow still looms over the party’s finances. Following the leak of the Forde report into antisemitism in the party, the Labour party launched legal action against five ex-staffers thought to be the source of the leak, including Corbyn’s former chief of staff, Karie Murphy and Alistair Campbell negative image, Seamus Milne. So far that’s netted legal costs of £500,000 but, according to the Guardian, the final bill could cost £4 million – money earmarked for Labour’s Election war chest.

The trouble for Labour is that despite the mounting costs and the enlistment of a KC and independent investigator to unmask the source of the leak, the ‘chatty rat’ remains elusive. Little wonder then, that a pro-Starmer NEC member has called the case ‘a monumental waste of members’ and affiliates’ money’ and a ‘pointless political vendetta.’ Add in the row over Corbyn’s deselection in Islington North and the prospect of the former Leader running against his old party, and you have a very expensive hangover for Labour’s flirtation with the marrow grower from North London.

Talk about suffering from long Corbyn…

Meta’s handling of ‘SpongeBob’ Holocaust denial post taken up by Oversight Board
Meta’s Oversight Board is scrutinizing a post featuring a “SpongeBob SquarePants” character, in what could be a landmark case for how its platforms Facebook and Instagram moderate Holocaust denial.

The board, which issues non-binding rulings on the company’s moderation decisions, announced on Thursday that it has taken up a case involving the company’s response to complaints about a meme posted in September 2020.

In the meme, the character Squidward appears next to a speech bubble with neo-Nazi talking points disputing the Holocaust, under the title “Fun Facts About The Holocaust.” The anonymous user behind the post, who has about 9,000 followers, appears to have borrowed a popular meme template known as “Fun Facts With Squidward.” The post falsely stated that the Holocaust couldn’t have happened because the infrastructure for carrying out the genocide was not built until after World War II, among other lies and distortions.

Users complained about the post both before and after the company enacted a ban on Holocaust denial in October 2020, the month after the post went up. But Meta had rejected all of their complaints, saying that the post did not violate community standards on hate speech.

In a statement responding to the Oversight Board’s announcement, the company said it had erred and has now removed the post, which had been viewed by about 1,000 people. Fewer than 1,000 had “liked” it, the company said.

The Oversight Board will investigate why the post stayed up for so long. Its decision to take up the case means the board attaches significance to the criticism that existing rules and practices do not adequately address the wide range of forms in which antisemitism and Holocaust denial appear on Meta’s platforms.

Portugal says nearly 21,000 Israelis applied for citizenship last year
Portuguese authorities said Israelis applied for citizenship in Portugal more than any other foreign group, even though few choose to actually live in the country.

The number of Israelis seeking a Portuguese passport through a 2015 law passed for the descendants of Jews expelled during the Inquisition reached 20,975 in 2022, according to statistics from the Portuguese Immigration and Border Service (SEF).

That exceeded the 18,591 applicants from Brazil, whose population is over 20 times larger than Israel’s and has longstanding cultural ties to Portugal, including a shared language.

Israelis were also the largest group in 2021, when 21,263 people applied.

The surge of Israeli applicants began after Portugal passed its “law of return” in 2015, allowing the descendants of Portuguese Sephardic Jews who were affected by the 16th-century Inquisition to apply for nationality. The Portuguese government has announced plans to end this policy in December 2023, saying its purpose of reparation will be “fulfilled.”

The policy was plagued by scandal last year amid allegations of fraud and corruption in the Jewish Community of Porto, one of two Jewish authorities — alongside Lisbon’s community — that was certified to vet applications. The Porto community came under fire for approving the citizenship of Roman Abramovich, a Russian-Jewish billionaire who made his fortune in Russia’s energy sector and has been called a close ally of Vladimir Putin, although he has denied being part of the Russian president’s inner circle.
Temple Mount, Other Sacred Jewish Landmarks Make List of 100 Holiest Places on Earth
Patheos, a leading online forum for discussing religion and spirituality, has included seven Jewish sites in its ranking of “The 100 Most Holy Places on Earth” — giving the number one spot to Jerusalem’s Temple Mount.

The top-ranked holy landmark is revered by followers of Judaism and Christianity because Solomon’s Temple, Zerubbabel’s Temple, and Herod’s Temple were all located on the same site. It is also the location where the Jewish biblical figure Abraham tried to sacrifice his son Isaac to God. The Temple Mount is sacred in the Islamic faith for being the site of the Dome of the Rock, which is one of Islam’s holiest sites, in addition to the Al-Aqsa Mosque.

The Temple Mount attracts five million visitors a year, according to Patheos, but non-Muslims are not allowed to enter the Dome of the Rock or the mosque.

Mount Sinai in the Sinai Peninsula — the hilltop where Jews, Christians, and Muslims believe that the Biblical figure Moses communicated with God — is at number three on the list compiled by Patheos, and the Mount of Olives comes in at number six. Some of the most important figures in Israeli and Jewish history are buried in the Jewish cemetery on the Mount of Olives, and many Jews believe that the Messiah will enter Jerusalem through the holy site. It is estimated that over two million people visit the Mount of Olives every year, Patheos noted.

Jerusalem’s Western Wall ranked number 10 on the list and has 12 million visitors a year. Known as the Kotel in Hebrew, it is what remains of the retaining wall that once supported the western side of the Temple Mount where the Jewish temple once stood. The wall dates back to around 19 BCE and is sacred to Jews.

Another Jerusalem location, Mount Zion — considered sacred by both Christians and Jews — comes in at number 38 on the list. It was the city that King David conquered in the 10th century BCE, and the site includes a sarcophagus used as a memorial for the Jewish leader. It is also identified as a location of the grave of Mary, the mother of Jesus, and on Mount Zion is the location of the Last Supper. Mount Zion has five million annual visitors.

At number 63 is the Spanish Synagogue in Prague, the Czech Republic. Completed in 1868, the Ashkenazi conservative Jewish congregation gets it name from its architectural style and serves now as mostly a museum.

Finishing off the list at number 100 is El Ghriba Synagogue — also known as Djerba Synagogue — in Tunisia. The Orthodox Jewish temple is the oldest Jewish house of worship in the country and the only synagogue on the Tunisian island of Djerba that has its own Torah scroll. It is believed that El Ghriba Synagogue has also incorporated in it a door and building stone from Solomon’s Temple, which was completely destroyed in 586 BCE. Jews make an annual pilgrimage to the Tunisian synagogue on the holiday of Lag B’Omer.

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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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