Friday, September 22, 2023

From Ian:

Melanie Phillips: The moral bankruptcy of the world
A pair of events this week graphically illustrated a striking symmetry in the moral bankruptcy of the United Nations, a global body ostensibly dedicated to peace and justice.

The UN General Assembly gave a platform to Iran’s president Ebrahim Raisi, whose terrorist regime has been in a state of self-declared war against the free world for more than four decades.

Raisi promptly used this platform to threaten to murder US officials in revenge for the 2020 assassination of Qassem Soleimani, head of the Quds Force of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).

Yet while rolling out the red carpet for this tyrant, security officials frog-marched Israel’s Ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan out of the hall. He was already in the process of walking out after holding up a sign reading “Iranian women deserve freedom now” with a picture of Mahsa Amini, the 22-year-old woman who died in the custody of Iran’s “morality police” after being arrested for not wearing her hijab in the prescribed manner.

Erdan was detained by security officials for several minutes outside the chamber before being released. He protested: “It should not be possible for a vile murderer who calls for the destruction of Israel to be given a platform here at the UN.”

Not only did the UN grant a genocidal monster like Raisi the status of a world statesman, but it treated the ambassador of the country that Raisi’s regime aims to wipe off the map like a criminal.

This fits the UN’s long record of sanitising, condoning or promoting human rights abusers while singling out democratic Israel for a campaign of harassment and demonisation.

Given the Iranian regime’s record in jailing and torturing dissidents, hanging homosexuals, oppressing women and killing untold thousands of protesters, it is beyond belief that in November Iran is to chair the UN Human Rights Council’s Social Forum.

The embattled Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy had it absolutely right when he told the UN Security Council this week,: “Humankind no longer pins its hopes on the UN.” He pointed out that as a result of Russia’s membership on the Council which gives it veto power on binding resolutions, the UN is impotent in the face of aggression.

Raisi used his UN platform to gloat over the world’s inability to restrain Iran. He taunted America over its powerlessness in the world, claimed that the hegemony of the west is “over” and declared that the sanctions policy has “failed” and the Iranian nation has “won”.

Although this stomach-turning spectacle was staged by the UN, the real responsibility for it rests with the Biden administration which has fallen over itself to appease, fund and empower Tehran.
How the UN disgraced itself once again
As a platform intended to promote international cooperation, peace and human rights, the United Nations bears significant responsibility. However, to those who closely follow the organization, it is clear that the UN has a consistent bias against Israel that undermines its credibility and ability to foster global harmony.

This bias was thrust into the spotlight once again on Sept. 20 when Israel's Ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan peacefully protested a speech by Iran's President Ebrahim Raisi. During the speech, Erdan held up a picture of Mahsa Amini, an innocent Iranian woman murdered by Iran's "morality police" for allegedly wearing a hijab improperly. Amini's death set off a wave of protests against Raisi's theocratic regime.

After Erdan's protest, he attempted to leave the hall. The UN Police promptly put their hands on him and physically escorted him out. The UN should be ashamed of itself.

This appalling event is a teachable moment, an opportunity to revisit the UN's record of open hostility towards Israel.

First, there is the UN's disproportionate focus on Israel's actions compared to those of other nations. The UN's obsession with passing resolutions condemning Israel, often by an overwhelming majority, while turning a blind eye to other nations with far more egregious records, is deeply troubling. While criticism of Israel is certainly valid when warranted, the disproportionate attention it receives suggests a political agenda at work.

The United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) is a notorious example of such bias. Since its inception, the UNHRC has adopted more resolutions condemning Israel than any other country in the world. At the same time, critics have pointed out that the UNHRC has failed to adequately address severe human rights violations in countries such as China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea. This inconsistency raises questions about the UN's commitment to impartiality and its ability to address global human rights abuses effectively.

In UN speech, Netanyahu threatens Iran with ‘credible nuclear threat’
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appeared to threaten Tehran with nuclear weapons in his Sept. 22 address at the U.N. General Assembly.

“Iran must face a credible, nuclear threat. As long as I am prime minister of Israel, I will do everything in my power to prevent Iran from getting nuclear weapons,” Netanyahu said on Friday morning in New York City.

A senior adviser to the prime minister told JNS that the original text of the speech called for “a credible military threat” against Iran’s nuclear program.

“It was misread as a credible nuclear threat,” the adviser told JNS. “The prime minister stands by the original text of the speech.”

‘A new Middle East’

In his remarks, Netanyahu said that the “tyrants of Tehran” have been nothing but a curse since he last addressed the UNGA in 2018. But the Islamic Republic has also been an unintentional blessing.

“The common threat of Iran has brought Israel and many Arab states closer than ever before, in a friendship that I have not seen in my lifetime,” he said.

Netanyahu described the biblical story of Moses separating the Israelites between two mountains, with Mount Gerizim associated with blessings and Mount Ebal with curses. He held up a map of the Middle East and a red pen and noted that he had demonstrated the Iranian threat to the region using the same props in 2018.

That curse had become a blessing, as Israel has normalized agreements with much of the Arab world, creating “a new Middle East,” he said.

Netanyahu noted that the “so-called experts” had been pessimistic about normalization between Israel and the Arab world.

“They were based on one false idea—that unless we first concluded a peace agreement with the Palestinians, no other Arab state would normalize its relations with Israel,” he said. Netanyahu UNGA red markerIsraeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses the United Nations General Assembly on Sept. 22, 2023. Credit: UNGA/screenshot.

“I have long sought to make peace with the Palestinians, but I also believe that we must not give the Palestinians a veto over new peace treaties with Arab states. The Palestinians could greatly benefit from a broader peace,” he added. “They should be part of that process, but they should not have a veto over the process.”

Full text: Netanyahu’s address at the United Nations

JPost Editorial: Is an Israel-US defense pact in the Jewish state's best interests?
An idea that has been kicking around since the early 1950s is enjoying a renaissance due to talk of a grand US-Saudi-Israel deal: a US-Israel mutual defense treaty.

The Saudis, in their quest for security assurances from the US as a condition for normalizing ties with Israel, are reportedly keen on a mutual defense treaty with the US themselves.

Since the Saudis want this, there is now talk of Washington signing a similar pact with Jerusalem. Indeed, this issue has reportedly been discussed extensively between senior Israeli and US officials in recent weeks.

Although the idea of a defense pact that would obligate the US to come to Israel’s defense in case of an existential threat is enticing, it is something Jerusalem needs to consider very carefully because, along with the advantages, there are also drawbacks.

The pros and cons of an Israel-US defense pact
First, let us address the benefits.

The most obvious benefit of such a pact is its message to Iran and other enemies of the Jewish state. As Senator Lindsey Graham, who has been pushing this idea for years, said in 2019, the message is simple: “If you are intending to destroy Israel, you have to go through us, and it will not turn out well for you.”

The second significant benefit is that it locks US commitments to Israel into a permanent framework. If such a treaty is ratified by a Senate supermajority, then it will make no difference whether the US president and administration are pro- or anti-Israel; the US will be treaty-bound to uphold Israel’s security.

What could possibly be wrong with that?

Well, for starters, such a treaty could potentially reduce Israel’s freedom of action, as such a pact would mean that Israel would need US permission to act militarily since such action could entangle its new defense partner – the US. Paradoxically, a deal intended to deter Israel’s enemies by bolstering deterrence and broadcasting that the US has Israel’s back could actually diminish deterrence by tying Israel’s hands.

Such a pact could seriously restrain Israel when it comes to Iran. An alliance with the US might be seen as an alternative to independent Israeli action, raising questions as to why Jerusalem should act on its own if the US is committed to coming to its defense.

Secondly, entering such a pact could lead to a reduction in the military assistance that the US provides Israel, which includes $3.8 billion in military aid annually, along with extensive research and development cooperation. Critics may argue that if Washington is treaty-bound to defend Israel, there’s less need to provide billions of dollars in military assistance.

Thirdly, the commitment to come to one another’s defense would go both ways, potentially drawing Israel into conflicts that would imperil Israel’s relations with various key countries and undermine other Israeli interests, including the well-being of Jewish communities.

Finally, such a pact conflicts with a key Zionist principle that goes to the core of Israel’s identity: self-reliance against any threat. Throughout its history, Israel has never asked foreign powers to fight its wars; it has only requested the equipment needed to defend itself, by itself. It has never wanted foreign fighters to fight on its behalf.
The Pinsker Centre PodCast: US - Israel Relations
In this episode of People Talk...Politics, our policy fellows Alex, David and Lucy compare the Trump and Biden Administrations' approaches to relations with Israel, discuss how Israel's stance on the Ukraine war may affect the US-Israeli partnership and evaluate the impact the judicial reform will have on US-Israel relations. They point out that Israel is looking beyond the US and the West and is building new security and military cooperations with countries like Turkey and India.

Seth Frantzman: How Oslo, Abraham Accords shaped Israel's place in the Middle East
IN THE region, a different wind was blowing. When ISIS was defeated and groups like the Muslim Brotherhood were largely banned, a new era began. It began quietly at first, and then with some articles suggesting that an Arab-Israeli alliance could emerge in the region.

The UAE ambassador to Washington published a piece in Yediot Aharonot, Israel’s largest daily. Two Israeli defense companies and a company in the UAE announced an agreement. Humanitarian flights began, during COVID. Then came the Abraham Accords, pushed along by the Trump administration and key figures such as Jared Kushner and ambassador David Friedman, and leaders in the Gulf, such as Mohammed bin Zayed.

When the Abraham Accords were signed, I welcomed the opportunity to take a direct flight to Dubai. There, I covered the first Israeli companies to participate openly at a cyber conference, and other firsts. Diplomats, businesspeople, online influencers, and a huge cavalcade rushed to Dubai in the early excitement. Initial hopes led to a more banal reality. Israelis were told not to rush things. But unlike the Oslo process, where rushing led to disaster, this time things turned out well.

For some, the Abraham Accords have meant that the Palestinian issue can be neglected. But others think the situation must be addressed. “Today, the essential task is to maintain the prevailing ‘two nations reality,’” said Hirschfeld. “Oslo is not totally dead, but the Abraham Accords are alive.”

The challenge facing the peace process has also seen several interlinked hurdles. One is for the two sides to move toward peace and not conflict. Another is the need for infrastructure and investment in the Palestinian areas. The Abraham Accords may present a unique opportunity to move forward.

“The Palestinians could not give Israel what we need: security and normal relations with the Arab world. Accordingly, I argued that after concluding a Palestinian Self-Government Agreement, it would be necessary to create a Middle East Security Organization and a Middle East Community of Water, Energy, and Tourism; today, I would say ‘Trade’ instead of ‘Tourism,’” Hirschfeld said.

Today, we have progressed toward more Middle East regional initiatives. Whether it is the new G20 corridor, or I2U2, or the Negev Forum, there are many promising new groups and forums emerging. Countries in the region are pursuing diplomacy with each other after many years of chaos in Libya, Syria, and Yemen; even Saudi tensions with Iran and Turkey have eased.

Exclusive JNS Analysis - Netanyahu at the UN: Meetings with Biden, Musk; Saudi normalization & more
JNS CEO/Jerusalem Bureau Chief Alex Traiman and Senior Contributing Editor Caroline Glick give you a complete rundown and in-depth analysis of the multiple storylines taking place simultaneously as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu holds a series of diplomatic meetings in the U.S. during the United Nations General Assembly.

- Netanyahu's meeting with U.S. President Joe Biden
- Netanyahu's meeting with Elon Musk
- Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman's interview on Fox
- Ehud Barak's interview on CBS
- Mahmoud Abbas's speech to the UN
- Iran's race toward nuclear weapons
- Anti-Netanyahu protests and pro-Netanyahu rallies
- The role of media

David Friedman: If the Price of Peace is Negating Our Heritage, It’s NOT Worth It | Top Story
Former US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman talks about his new movie "Route 60: The Biblical Highway" and the sacrifice that Israel should NOT make for the sake of peace.

JNS Editor-in-chief Jonathan Tobin and Amb. David Friedman discuss
- the importance of looking beyond the headlines and focusing on the biblical heritage in Israel
- the correctness, but 'ineptness' and 'failure' of the judicial reform rollout in Israel
- Trump indictments and what they mean for America

Netanyahu Defeats His Enemies...Again | The Caroline Glick Show In Focus
"60 Minutes" glorifies the opposition, the opposition says Israel kills children, and Netanyahu shows us what he is made of on his visit to the US.

Caroline Glick discusses on her In Focus
- "60 Minutes" coverage of the current judicial reform protests
- How Netanyahu outmaneuvered his detractors and opposition
- The left's greater agenda of "ending the occupation"

Israeli, Saudi officials held secret meeting on normalization - report
The report also stated that Saudi will get a U.S. offer for a nuclear facility as part of deal, and that the proposed site would be guarded by American forces

Government officials from Israel and Saudi Arabia met in secret recently to discuss a potential normalization agreement between the two countries, according to a report from Israeli public broadcaster Kan on Thursday evening.

The specific details of the meeting have not been made public.

Saudi Arabia will get a U.S. offer for a nuclear facility as part of an agreement, the report stated, and that the proposed nuclear site would be guarded by American forces.

The report of the secret meeting by Israeli and Saudi officials comes at the same time that Washington is reportedly considering twin defense treaties with Saudi Arabia and Israel as part of an effort to get its Middle East allies to formally recognize each other and normalize relations, according to U.S. media.

According to Bloomberg, the administration of U.S. President Joe Biden believes this initiative would bring about Israeli-Saudi normalization, with a treaty so comprehensive that it would require Congressional approval.

Earlier this week, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed confidence in the possibility of establishing a "historic peace" with Saudi Arabia during a discussion with Biden on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.
Schanzer: ‘Israel and Saudi have already normalized’
Having watched Mohammed bin Salman’s recent interview when the Saudi Crown Prince told FOX News that peace with Israel is “getting closer every day,” coupled with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Friday-morning address to the U.N. General Assembly, Jonathan Schanzer decided to “go out on a limb.”

“Israel and Saudi have already normalized. When the formal agreement comes is anyone’s guess,” wrote Schanzer, senior vice president for research at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

“It will be a thrill to see. But that signing ceremony matters less when ties are already deep and maturing,” he wrote.

Netanyahu’s talk at the United Nations was reportedly carried live on Saudi television—the first time that has occurred with an address by an Israeli prime minister.

“I believe that we are at the cusp of an even more dramatic breakthrough: an historic peace with Saudi Arabia,” Netanyahu said at the United Nations.

'Six or seven' Muslim nations to make peace with Israel after Saudis - FM
Six or seven Muslim nations will join Saudi Arabia in making peace with Israel following the conclusion of the long-sought normalization deal with the Saudis, Foreign Minister Eli Cohen revealed in an interview with KAN News on Friday afternoon.

Speaking directly after Netanyahu's speech at the UN General Assembly in which he heralded the dawn of a "new Middle East," Cohen said that "it's important to restate what the prime minister said, peace with Saudi Arabia is also peace between Jews and the Muslim world.

"Six or seven nations from Africa and Asia will join the peace deal with the Saudis," Cohen said.

"I'm telling you, I have met with several officials from Muslim nations with which Israel does not share formal ties."
It is Egypt that needs Israeli natural gas
Explaining the new Egypt-Israel agreement, Energy Minister Israel Katz, said gas exports to Egypt, currently about 5 billion cubic meters (bcm) per annum, will be increased by 3.5 bcm per annum over 11 years. Israel also intends to expand production from Tamar by 60% from 2026.

“This step will increase the state’s revenue and strengthen diplomatic ties between Israel and Egypt,” said Katz.The arrangement is far from the liking of some public figures in Israel. Some public advocacy groups have warned that Israel could suffer gas shortages as domestic demand rises, and have raised the prospect of environmental damage from heightened offshore activity.

In June, Yogev Gardos, Israel’s budget director, said there was an “immediate need for the examination” of export policy. Israel should urgently review how much natural gas the country should export, he said, to make sure it keeps enough for itself. In fact, back in 2013, Israel set limits on how much could be sold abroad, earmarking around 60% of reserves for domestic use.

Israel is expected to roughly double its gas output over the coming years, and in a letter to the director-general of the Energy Ministry, Gardos said exporting too much “could endanger Israel’s energy security” and lead to higher electricity prices.

Katz responded to the letter in a robust Twitter post: “Decisions on the gas sector take into account broad policy considerations, such as Israel’s standing, and the one who will make the decisions is me – the minister elected by the people. Not the professional echelon.”

He could afford to respond straight from the shoulder, for he already knew that Israel’s fourth offshore bidding round, launched in December 2022, had been an outstanding success. Four groups of companies, adding up to a total of nine companies – five of which were new to the Israeli market – had bid to explore for additional offshore natural gas fields in Israeli waters.

The three major Israel fields currently in production – Tamar, Leviathan, and Karish – have total estimated reserves of 1,000 bcm. Four more fields have already been discovered, and are awaiting exploitation – Zeus, Athena, Hermes, and Kallan – which, taken together, amount to an estimated further 108 bcm of natural gas. With the forthcoming exploration now in the pipeline, Israel’s future, both as regards to satisfying its own gas needs and as a remunerative gas exporting nation, seems assured.

Congo, Paraguay pledge Jerusalem embassies in NY talks with Netanyahu
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu secured pledges from both the Congo and Paraguay to open embassies in Jerusalem during his weeklong visit to the United States. "We've just had very productive talks with the president of Congo, and we agreed that Israel will open an embassy in Kinshasa and Congo will move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem,” Netanyahu and Congolese President Felix Tshisekedi said in a joint statement they released on Thursday.

“These are two good announcements and I think they reflect our common desire to upgrade our relations,” they said.The two men met on the sidelines of the high-level portion of the opening session of the 78th UN General Assembly.Israel is pressing its allies to relocate their embassies to Jerusalem to shore up the city’s standing as the capital of the Jewish state. Most countries have refused to recognize that Jerusalem is the country’s capital.

Why is the move to Jerusalem a big deal?
The Palestinians claim east Jerusalem is the capital of a future Palestinian state. Many countries, however, refuse to even recognize that west Jerusalem is within sovereign Israel. To date, only five countries have opened Jerusalem embassies: the United States, Honduras, Guatemala, Kosovo and Papa New Guinea.

In August Foreign Minister Eli Cohen secured a pledge from Paraguay to reopen its Jerusalem embassy. It had already placed its embassy in Jerusalem after the US lead in relocating its embassy to Jerusalem in 2017.It then closed the embassy and relocated it to Tel Aviv, a move that caused Israel to close its embassy in the country’s capital of Asuncion. Paraguayan President Santiago Peรฑa confirmed that his country would return its embassy to Jerusalem by the end of the year in a meeting he held with Netanyahu on Tuesday. Israel in turn will reopen its embassy in Asuncion.

Seth Frantzman: Israeli Jewish woman remains kidnapped in Iraq as Iraqi PM at UNGA
Six months ago, on March 21, US-based researcher Elizabeth Tsurkov, the daughter of Soviet political prisoners and a dual Israeli and Russian citizen, was kidnapped in Iraq. The kidnapping of the Princeton doctoral student was reported by the Prime Minister’s Office only in July, which announced that she was being held hostage by the Iraqi Shi’ite militia Kataib Hezbollah. In September Amnesty International and other organizations called for her release.

In response to questions from the Jerusalem Post, former Soviet prisoner Natan Sharansky said “the Iraqi government has to feel it is their responsibility because, after all the organization that kidnapped her is a part of the government. ” Sharansky, imprisoned on spy charges for nine years and more recently a minister and chair of the Jewish Agency, is familiar with the kidnapping of Tsurkov. “Together with her father I spent a lot of years in Soviet prison. In my book Fear No Evil about the prison you can read a lot about him. Her father and mother were political prisoners in the Soviet Union from a very young age.”

Now their daughter is being held in Iraq. “To the best of our knowledge - she is alive,” he said. “The Iraqi government is responsible. The Iraqi government receives much financial assistance from America. Liza [Tsurkov] came for research from Princeton University and was very positive toward the people of Iraq and the Muslim world in general. It is legitimate and natural to expect the US administration to exploit their relations with the Iraqi government.”

Iraqi Prime Minister Shia’ al-Sudani is discussing US-Iraq relations at the Council on Foreign Relations on Thursday in New York City in the context of the United Nations General Assembly meeting. The Iraqi leader’s presence has been spotlighted because of the Tsurkov affair.

PBS (the Public Broadcasting Service) hosted a discussion about Tsurkov last week, noting she has been missing for six months. “She was conducting research for her doctoral degree in Baghdad when she was believed to have been kidnapped by an Iraqi militia. Amna Nawaz spoke with her sister, Emma Tsurkov, about efforts to bring her home.”

Sudani has not addressed calls for Baghdad to find and release Tsurkov, but met with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg in New York this week and invited him to visit Iraq, in appreciation for “NATO’s support in the fight against ISIS, military training, advice, and capacity building,” according to a statement posted on social media by Iraq’s government. Sudani has also met with White House Coordinator for the Middle East and North Africa Brett Mcgurk on the sidelines of the 78th session of the UN General Assembly.

House Foreign Affairs Committee to hear about efficacy of Taylor Force Act
The U.S. House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Middle East, North Africa and Central Asia will consider testimony on stopping Palestinian efforts to murder Jews.

A hearing set for Sept. 27 titled “No Incentives for Terrorism: U.S. Implementation of the Taylor Force Act [TFA] and Efforts to Stop ‘Pay to Slay’” will take place at 10 a.m. in Room 210 of the House Visitor’s Center, available on a live webcast.

Speakers will include Elliott Abrams, who previously served as deputy assistant to the president and deputy national security advisor; Jonathan Schanzer, senior vice president for research at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies; and Michael Koplow, chief policy officer at Israel Policy Forum.

The pay-for-slay policy associated with the Palestinian Authority, led by its leader Mahmoud Abbas, incentivizes terrorism by financially rewarding those who attack Jews, and if killed in the process, fiscally rewarding their families.

“This hearing is important because the administration has been continuously deviating from the spirit of the TFA, ultimately forcing aid to the P.A. as a condition of a Saudi peace deal,” Sander Gerber, a fellow and board member of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, told JNS. “It’s a total end run around that act: The U.S. can’t give money to the P.A., so force the Saudis.”

Gerberg pointed out that implementation of the Taylor Force Act requires annual reports to Congress regarding where “pay for slay” stands, but the U.S. State Department “submits it with a classified annex to prevent distribution.”

US Announces $73 Million in Additional Funding for UN’s Palestinian Refugee Agency
In an announcement at a meeting convened to address the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield, representing the United States, revealed a commitment of more than $73 million in additional funding.

The funding is expected to facilitate the provision of food to vulnerable families, extend health care services to children and expectant mothers, and enhance educational opportunities for students.

Thomas-Greenfield expressed appreciation for those who generously supported the UNRWA flash appeal during the summer, highlighting the critical role of such contributions in times of crisis.

“I want to thank those who have generously supported the UNRWA flash appeal during the summer. And I want to strongly encourage member states to join us in providing additional funding to UNRWA. Too often, countries voice their support for UNRWA without backing up their words with action. That needs to change.”

In 2023, the United States has already contributed over $296 million to UNRWA, with the Biden administration having provided nearly $1 billion since 2021.

The UN uniquely classifies Palestinians, and no other people, as refugees at birth — even if they never fled persecution. Critics have expressed concern about UNRWA promoting antisemitism and financing affiliates of terrorist groups.

Still, Thomas-Greenfield urged other member states to follow suit and make the necessary financial commitments to ensure UNRWA’s sustained operations through the remainder of the year.

The last Jew of Yemen is being tortured by the Houthis and must be saved
As Jews around the world prepare for Yom Kippur, the last known Jew in Yemen will be forced to observe the holy day alone in an Islamist dungeon.

For the past seven years, Levi Marhabi has been held hostage by the ruthless and fanatical Houthi rebels who control large swathes of Yemen.

He is in poor health, and it is time for world Jewry to sound the alarm and press the international community to take action to bring about his release.

According to the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), a bipartisan federal government agency, Marhabi was arrested by Houthi forces in March 2016. He was accused of helping some of his fellow Yemeni Jews to take a family Torah scroll out of the country and was sentenced on March 13, 2018, to three years and six months in prison. The following year, a Yemeni appeals court ordered that he be set free, but Houthi officials ignored the ruling and continue to hold him.

According to the USCIRF’s database of religious prisoners of conscience, “Marhabi lives in inhumane prison conditions, where his health continues to deteriorate. He reportedly suffers from kidney and lung issues and has lost all his teeth from being tortured repeatedly.” Other reports indicate that he may be partially paralyzed as well.

Marhabi is the last known living heir in Yemen to a once-vibrant Jewish community that dates back at least 2,000 years and possibly traces its origins to biblical times.

CNN Omits Context & Distorts the Facts on Recent Violence in Israel
A CNN article on a series of violent events in Israel over the last couple of days is another unfortunate demonstration of media outlets omitting important context. In Kareem Khadder, Hadas Gold, and Ibrahim Dahman’s September 20 article, “Six Palestinians killed by Israeli military in three separate incidents over 24 hours,” the journalists irresponsibly omit the involvement of Palestinian terror groups and their use of religious buildings for military purposes.

The article begins by stating, “Six Palestinians have been killed and dozens injured by Israeli military fire in three separate incidents…” The next sentence reiterates: “Four people were killed…as a result of a Tuesday evening Israeli military incursion into the Jenin refugee camp…” Yet not once does the article mention that all four of those Palestinian fatalities have been claimed by either Hamas or Palestinian Islamic Jihad, both U.S.-designated terrorist organizations.

Later in the article, the authors reference a “video [which] appeared to show a mosque minaret in the camp taking direct fire.” They omit that the same video also clearly shows a Molotov cocktail being thrown from the minaret.

The first omission leaves readers without the context that Israel was not shooting random Palestinians, but rather was engaged in a gunfight with terrorists. The second omission conceals from readers that those terrorists were exploiting a religious building for military purposes and instead gave the decontextualized impression that Israeli forces were firing on a mosque for no reason. This is plainly biased and deficient reporting.

The article goes on to make an absurd description of another one of the violent events. According to CNN:
Separately in Gaza, on Tuesday afternoon, one Palestinian man was killed and several others injured by Israeli fire across the Gaza border fence during regular protests being held along the border for the past week, where demonstrators throw explosive devices, burn tires, and sometimes shoot weapons at Israeli forces on the other side.

It is plainly inaccurate, and frankly absurd, to describe those who “throw explosive devices” and “shoot weapons” as “demonstrators” engaged in a “protest.”

FDD: Motorbike-Riding Terrorists Killed in Strike Near Golan
Latest Developments
Two terrorists were killed in a southern Syrian village near the Golan Heights on September 21, in what Lebanese and Palestinian reports alleged was an Israeli airstrike. The two, whose names and affiliations were not immediately published, were riding a motorbike when it was hit by an explosion at Beit Jin, some 10 kilometers east of the Israeli Golan town of Majdal Shams.

Lebanese and Palestinian sources quoted in several media reports described the two as “operatives” with possible links to West Bank terrorism. Israeli officials declined to comment. Elsewhere on the Golan, Israeli tanks shelled two structures that the Syrian army had set up in violation of the countries’ 1974 disengagement agreement following the Yom Kippur War.

Expert Analysis
“While the details are still murky, this incident would appear to be the latest in Israel’s interdiction of Iranian-sponsored terrorism on the Golan. That the fatalities may have been involved in Palestinian terrorism in the West Bank would attest to Tehran’s efforts to orchestrate multi-front hostilities against Israel.” — Mark Dubowitz, FDD CEO

“With Iranian help, Assad weathered the calamitous civil war and is growing re-assertive in areas of Syria still under his control. However, the Assad regime is in no condition to fight a war with Israel. In provoking the Jewish state, Assad is carrying out the will of his Iranian patron against Syrian interests. Given the tripwire tensions, Israel must be vigilant against any new Syrian deployments — certainly those that breach the Golan buffer zone and could serve as cover for attacks.” — Enia Krivine, Senior Director of FDD’s Israel Program and National Security Network

“Syria’s blatant disregard of the 1974 disengagement agreement is evident. Additionally, the presence of Hezbollah in the area — along with its frequent use of Syrian military infrastructure to plan assaults on Israeli targets in the Golan Heights — strengthens the justification for Israel’s constant vigilance of the demilitarized zone.” — Joe Truzman, Research Analyst at FDD’s Long War Journa
Israeli security guard wounded in Jerusalem terror stabbing
A security guard at Givat HaMivtar light rail station was stabbed in a terror attack in French Hill, Jerusalem on Thursday night.

The security guard was lightly injured and was transferred to Hadassah-University Medical Center, on Jerusalem’s Mount Scopus. The light rail was non-operational between Ammunition Hill station and Mount Herzl station in both directions for around an hour.

United Hatzalah volunteer EMT Moshe Arevlich, who was one of the first responders at the scene, said, "I treated one person for a stab wound and stopped the bleeding. After he was stabilized at the scene, he was transported by ambulance to the hospital while fully conscious. At the time of transport, he was in light condition."

Terrorist seriously injured
The terrorist has been named as Daoud Atiya, a 19-year-old resident of east Jerusalem. Atiya reportedly shared content inciting terrorism and support for the Lion's Den terrorist group on social media, saying "We will win or die as martyrs."

The terrorist was shot. Israeli media reported that he was seriously injured and arrested by police on the spot.

"The circumstances of the case are under investigation and more details will be provided later," Israel Police said.

IDF strikes targets in Gaza amid border riots, incendiary balloons
The IDF struck three Hamas military outposts in the Gaza Strip on Friday afternoon after fires broke out along the Gaza border by what security forces said were incendiary balloons, not seen launched from the Gaza Strip in over two years.

The strikes were carried out using an unmanned aerial vehicle, the military said. A military tank also struck another Hamas post where shots were previously fired at Israeli forces along the border.

Incendiary balloons from Gaza
Six firefighting teams were deployed to two different areas in the Ben Shemen area near the Mitkan Adam IDF base in order to prevent the fire from spreading to the base, according to the Ayalon Regional Fire Brigade. Two planes were also deployed to help put out the fires.

It is suspected that incendiary balloons from Gaza started the fire. In 2018, the KKL-JNF statement said, a fire broke out in the exact same place at the outset of a string of incendiary balloon fires.

The last time incendiary balloons caused a fire in the region was in September 2021.

Otzma Yehudit MK Almog Cohen, a vocal advocate for the residents of the Negev region, called on Defense Minister Yoav Gallant to take action in a Friday afternoon statement.

"I call on [Gallant] to react with an iron fist against these terrorists," he wrote. "I will not accept a situation in which the territories surrounding Gaza and the Negev become scorched land, the back yard of the State of Israel. The law should be applied equally in Tel Aviv and on the Gaza border."

'Target Tehran': Who is winning the Iran-Israel war? - review
Moreover, what began as the war of spooks and geeks, which is the book’s focus, is also raging as a war of terrorism, which Iran feeds through Hamas and Hezbollah, and as a guerrilla war that the Israel Air Force is waging on Iranian outposts and plants mainly in Syria, especially since 2018’s Operation House of Cards.

Such is the diverse, extensive, and protracted war, which raises a question that the book, rightly, answers only implicitly: Who is winning?

PARALLEL TO the war’s clandestine and military fronts sprawls a third arena, diplomacy, in which Israel acts on two levels: the governmental and the public.

On the governmental level, Israel has worked closely with the US and other allies, most notably contributing to the assassination of Revolutionary Guards Commander Qasem Soleimani, as the book scoops.

Less famously, but even more importantly, in 2008 prime minister Ehud Olmert and his defense minister, Ehud Barak, presented to George Bush a plan to attack Iran’s nuclear installations, an idea that Bush vetoed, the authors reveal.

On the public level, the Mossad’s daring theft of Iran’s nuclear archive in 2018 was conceived with the express purpose of swaying world opinion. “We need not only to convince the world that Iran lied about its nuclear weapons program – we need to show the world,” Netanyahu told former Mossad head Yossi Cohen in a conversation recounted in the book.

Dramatic though such tales are, they dwarf in comparison to how the Iranian-Israeli war has impacted the Arab-Israeli conflict.

As the book argues convincingly, and in fact insinuates already in its subtitle, Iran’s regional bullying created the sense of a common threat that produced peace agreements between Israel and two Arab Gulf states, a steadily progressing thaw with Saudi Arabia, and elaborate military cooperation between the three and the Jewish state.

Added up, this is the Khomeini Revolution’s most improbable result, and one of the most spectacular shots in the foot ever fired in the history of strategic aggression.

Just how the direct confrontation between Tehran and Jerusalem unfolds in upcoming years is anyone’s guess, but the Arab-Israeli rapprochement it triggered can already be declared a major victory for the very Zionist project which is the ayatollahs’ obsession, and the target of their bomb.

Target Tehran: How Israel Is Using Sabotage, Cyberwarfare, Assassination – and Secret Diplomacy – to Stop a Nuclear Iran and Create a New Middle EastBy Yonah Jeremy Bob and Ilan EvyatarSimon and Schuster, 2023368 pages, $28.99

Activists to expose European companies with links to Tehran
Hundreds of European companies are to be 'outed' over their links to Iran in a bid to shame them into cutting ties.

A pressure group, United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI), has embarked on a campaign to persuade hundreds of businesses to sever links with Iran and will hold events in European capitals to publicly name companies that do business in the country.

UANI said that research had led to the identification of 2,500 businesses around the world, suspected of having involvement with Iran, with hundreds in Europe. They will publish their names if they do not receive satisfactory answers.

The companies have been contacted to seek “clarification” about their dealings in the country.

The pressure group has chosen Sweden, which has at least two citizens being held by Iran, to launch its campaign.

Its launch will be held at Sweden’s parliament, and UANI says it hopes the project will represent a significant "push-back" against Tehran's tactic of hostage- taking.

The Swedes being held are Johan Floderus, an EU diplomat jailed for more than 500 days, and Ahmadreza Djalali who is facing the death sentence.

Swedish-Iranian MP Alireza Akhondi, who sits on the UANI advisory board, said the campaign seeks to achieve the same effect caused by pressure exerted on companies to leave Russia and stop engaging with its businesses.

“The big difference with Russia is that almost everything was public and we knew which companies were engaged with Russia,” the Centre Party politician told The National.

“In the Iranian case, it’s much more difficult because Iran has built up a network of shell companies to get around sanctions.”

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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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