Tuesday, March 14, 2017

From Ian:

Arab Factions Praise Jordanian Terrorist for Killing Israeli Schoolgirls
After his release from prison on Saturday, Muslim Brotherhood and Palestinian factions praised a Jordanian terrorist who shot and killed seven Israeli schoolgirls and injured six others in 1997.
“The Islamic resistance movement Hamas hails the Arab hero Ahmed Daqamseh on his release and gaining his freedom. We greet his noble struggle, his historic steadfastness and his heroic positions on Jerusalem and Palestine and the Resistance of the Palestinian people,” a Hamas press statement said, as translated by the Investigative Project on Terrorism.
Following his release, Daqamseh said that Israelis were “human garbage vomited into our midst by the world’s nations,” and called for the death of Israelis “whether by burning or by burying,” in comments translated by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI).
The Muslim Brotherhood’s political wing in Jordan also rejoiced at Daqamseh’s release.
“The [Islamic Action] Party greets the people of Jordan and the family of the hero Ahmed Damaqseh on his release from prison after his sentence, and welcomes his return to practice his national role alongside the free men of this nation in construction and achievement,” according to a translation of an Islamic Action Party statement.
Even the “moderate” Palestinian Fatah Party glorified the Jordanian terrorist, and justified the murder of Israeli schoolchildren.
“It may be noted that the soldier Daqamseh opened fire on the group of girls because they made fun of him during his prayers, according to his testimony at the time,” a Fatah statement said.

Obama's Legacy, a Nuclear Iran?
Sadly, the American public remained largely oblivious to these blunders as the administration's echo chamber strategy proved extremely effective with most pundits—except a few very notable exceptions—expressing unmitigated support for the JCPOA in line with administration talking points and positions. The arms control and nonproliferation community, which should have been at the forefront of the debate, pointing out all the deal's weaknesses and potential pitfalls, was in the main uncritically lured by the administration's propaganda. On a broader level, Obama's heavy-handed delegitimization of any and all criticism and his aggressive pushing of the deal in Congress have left domestic political scars, including among Democrats, that add to the president's dismal Iranian legacy.
Obama's only achievement lies in kicking the nuclear can down the road to future administrations. But he created a reality in which it will be far more difficult to stop Iran down that road. With its nuclear program legitimized by the JCPOA, Tehran is much better poised to forge ahead at a time of its choosing. For contrary to Obama's emphatic statements, the JCPOA does not end Tehran's nuclear ambitions, nor has it lived up to the president's hope of ushering in a new era in U.S.-Iranian relations.
The challenge for the Trump administration is to try to reverse some of these negative trends. In making the best of a bad situation, the preferred route at this point—after Tehran has already pocketed billions of dollars—would be neither to renounce the deal nor try to renegotiate it but, rather, to enforce it strictly as well as strengthen its provisions. Much can be achieved by reversing the Obama administration's approach to Iran—recognizing Tehran's overt hostility to U.S. interests and responding with firm determination to its provocations beyond the direct context of the JCPOA.
These, however, are but general guidelines for future U.S. policy on this issue. After the damage wrought by the Obama administration, the road ahead will be strewn with difficulties, and there are no shortcuts or magic solutions for redressing the situation.
Do Supporters of Palestine Accept Indiscriminate Murder?
Last week he received in his Ramallah office the family of Muhammad Al-Jallad, who was shot to death while trying to carry out a stabbing. Abbas also met a 14-year-old, Osama Zaidat, who was wounded while attempting to stab civilians. In a widely circulated photograph, Abbas appears to be embracing Osama.
Abbas says that freeing the prisoners convicted by Israel is a major priority for him. At a conference in December he said, “We remember the martyrs, the wounded and the prisoners and their record. We salute our brave prisoners and respect them. We will not forget our fighting comrades.” So official Palestine stands firmly behind erratic, indiscriminate homicide.
In the 1990s Yasser Arafat, the founder of the Palestine Liberation Organization, began providing educational benefits for convicted terrorists to help them find work after their release from jail. Eventually rehabilitation expanded so that the Palestinian Agency paid the convicts generous regular salaries. A recent article in The Jerusalem Post said, “Ironically, what started out two decades ago under the pretense of a PA program to rehabilitate Palestinians convicted of violence against Israelis has become an incentive program for committing acts of terrorism.”
Many of those who admire the Palestinians from a distance must imagine them as likeable victims, people just campaigning for the rights they believe they deserve. But the true story is much more complicated.



Carlos the Jackal regrets not killing ‘people I should have’
Once the world’s most-wanted fugitive and a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, the man known as “Carlos the Jackal” appeared in a French court Monday for a deadly 1974 attack on a Paris shopping arcade, a trial that victims’ families awaited for decades.
The Venezuelan-born Ilich Ramirez Sanchez is accused of throwing a hand grenade from a mezzanine restaurant onto a shopping area in the French capital’s Latin Quarter. Two people were killed and 34 injured at the trendy Drugstore Publicis.
Known worldwide as Carlos, the 67-year-old is already serving a life sentence in France for a series of murders and attacks he has been convicted of perpetrating or organizing in the country on behalf the PFLP or communist revolution in the 1970s and ’80s.
As the trial opened Monday, Carlos denounced it as a “gross manipulation of justice” 42 years after the attack. He has denied involvement and pleaded innocent.
The back and forth between him and a panel of judges provided some answers not usually heard from a criminal suspect asserting innocence.
Asked to state his profession, Carlos called himself a “professional revolutionary,” and said “I’m doing fine” in prison — after more than 20 years behind bars.
At one point, the presiding judge asked him whether he had any regrets.
“Yes, I have regrets — because I’m kindhearted — that I did not kill people I should have killed,” Carlos answered.
Melanie Phillips: A parable for our times
To be sure, the Persians were not the Jews’ historic enemies. Modern Iranians are in general civilised, cultured people benignly disposed towards Jews and others in the world. They are themselves being oppressed and terrorised by the fanatical Islamic regime which has ruled Iran so cruelly since 1979.
But Jarif’s outburst contains a remarkable admission. As an amazed Professor Eugene Kontorovich noted in another tweet, Jarif appears to have acknowledged the Nazi Holocaust of the Jews. Considering that his regime constantly pumps out the most deranged expressions of Holocaust denial, one is tempted to conclude that the lesson of Purim about turning the tables on an evil intention is pertinent even today.
No less pertinent is the enduring lesson of what Mordecai says to Esther in order to encourage her to plead for the Jews before the king. When Esther demurs on the grounds that the king will kill her if she approaches him, Mordecai says: “Do not think in your heart that you will escape in the king’s house any more than all the other Jews. For if you remain silent at all at this time, relief and deliverance will come to the Jews from elsewhere; but you and your father’s house will perish; and who knows whether you haven’t come to royal estate for such a time as this?”
Today the world is in a state of denial about the threat from the Iranian regime. Too many, including too many Jews, prefer to take the path of least resistance, to pretend that the threat isn’t as great as it really is, that the Iranians are all talk but don’t really mean it when they threaten the Jews with genocide.
It is surely not President Trump who most resembles Ahasuerus but the western world in general, which is weak and venal and ignorant and all too prepared to believe the falsehoods of its enemies while disregarding the real threats, not only to its friends but to itself. Who is the present-day Esther or Mordecai who will open its eyes to reality?
Trump Adviser Jason Greenblatt, Netanyahu Emerge From 5-Hour Meeting With Statement on Commitment to Achieving Sustainable Peace Agreement
A five hour meeting between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US President Donald Trump's advisor Jason Greenblatt ended Monday evening with a statement pledging commitment to finding a true, sustainable peace agreement and the need to improve living conditions in the Palestinian Authority.
According to a statement put out by the Prime Minister's Office, the two affirmed the joint commitment of the US and Israel to advancing a “true, sustainable peace between Israel and the Palestinians that will strengthen Israel's security and stability in the region.”
Greenblatt, who arrived earlier on Monday, is scheduled to meet PA President Mahmoud Abbas on Tuesday during his first foray into the thick of Israeli-Palestinian diplomacy.
According to the statement, Netanyahu said that he believed that under Trump's leadership it will be possible to promote peace between Israel and all its neighbors, including the Palestinians, and that he anticipates working closely with Trump on this issue.
The statement said that Greenblatt reaffirmed Trump’s commitment to Israel's security and to helping the two sides reach peace through direct negotiations. The statement said that the two men discussed the issue of settlement construction “in the hope of coming up with a formula that will lead to the goal of peace and security.”
David Horovitz: Advice for Trump’s would-be peacemaker
Dear Mr. Greenblatt, I wish you only success as you set out on your bid to pave a path to progress on the Israeli-Palestinian front. You may be as surprised to be here as we all are to see you. And I’ve no idea how much authority you actually have, or what is supposed to happen when you head back home from the region. You may not know either.
But since this has not hitherto been your prime preoccupation, and since you are the first official dispatched here by the new president for the purpose of peacemaking, allow me to offer some insights, from the perspective of an Israeli who has unhappily watched well-intentioned efforts at peacemaking fail time and again over the years.
The Israeli mainstream wants to separate from the Palestinians, not necessarily out of any particular love of our neighbors, but out of simple self-interest. This is the only country on earth with a Jewish majority. And we insist that it remain a democracy. Since there are today almost as many non-Jews as Jews between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River, we need to separate from many of the Palestinians or risk losing our Jewish state or our democracy. We emphatically assert a historic right to the disputed West Bank, the biblical Judea and Samaria, but exercising that right risks dooming Jewish-democratic Israel, so we recognize the imperative to compromise with the millions of Palestinians who also have rights in this land.
Plenty of us also believe it is bad for them and corrosive for us to be running the lives of the Palestinians, to the reduced extent that we still do. (Israel does not control day-to-day life in the West Bank cities.) Most of us Israelis, for this reason too, are baffled by calls from some on the political right to annex much or all of the West Bank. Why would we choose to have millions of hostile Palestinians forced to live under our rule?
We also tend to think time is working against us. Demographers argue among themselves, and many of us argue with the demographers, but the general consensus is that, come back in a few decades, and the Jews will be outnumbered between the river and the sea. There is thus an urgency for separation.
OSLO Architect: Time to hold serious, but quiet, talks between Abbas and Benjamin Netanyahu
Jason Greenblatt, US President Donald Trump’s special representative for international negotiations, arrived in Israel this week for meetings with Israeli and Palestinian officials during which he plans to discuss the possibility of holding an international or regional conference, which – with the help of the Americans – would lead to talks between the two sides.
Convening such a conference, however, would be a grave mistake. The role of special representative for international negotiations is not to organize events like the one that took place in Annapolis 10 years ago or the many others that never achieved their goals. The objective of this position is, rather, to identify what the real situation is, to ascertain the readiness of both sides to reach an agreement, and to relay this information to the president. If Washington sees that there is a basis for holding talks, then it would be best to hold said talks initially and quietly in the US, so that neither side would have to set preconditions and unrealistic end goals even before they sit down together.
What’s important now is to hold serious talks between the two leaders who really matter: Benjamin Netanyahu and Mahmoud Abbas. They need to be asked tough questions, try to understand how much leeway they really have, and then decide whether Israel has a true partner in Ramallah and the PLO a true partner in Jerusalem. After all, both sides claim that they have no partner, and the world seems to agree with them.
For the moment, Netanyahu is not willing to make the concessions that would be necessary to reach a permanent agreement, and neither is Abbas capable of including the Gaza Strip in such an agreement. Both leaders speak about the importance of reaching such an agreement, both speak about the importance of reaching it now, and both of them know that it will not happen.
JCPA:" Trump’s Envoy Visits an Anxious Ramallah
President Trump’s special envoy, Jason Greenblatt, arrived in Israel on March 13, 2017, to meet Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and to sound them out on restarting peace negotiations.
His visit to Abbas’ presidential office, the Muqata’a, comes amidst growing tension in Ramallah and even uncertainty about the very future of the Palestinian Authority.
The following report is based on conversations with senior Palestinian officials on the eve of the meetings in Jerusalem and Ramallah. The senior officials explained the main concerns currently facing the Palestinian leadership.
On the international level, sources in Ramallah fear that the United States and Russia are planning to draw new Sykes-Picot boundaries (Britain and France first drew the Middle East borders in 1916), and Palestinian leaders are determined that Palestine be included in any new map. That is why they are so keen to collect as many commitments for a Palestinian state as possible, especially from pivotal states in Europe, the United States, and Russia.
President Trump’s telephone call on March 10, 2017, to Abbas was so critical for the Palestinians because they had perceived indifference from the new administration on the Palestinian issue, and they fear being excluded in the post-Sykes-Picot plans.
PreOccupiedTerritory: Proctologists Find Heads Of Remaining Two-State Solution Advocates (satire)
Dr. Hedda Pizass, Chief of Proctology at Rambam, told reporters that examination of two-state solution advocates had revealed solid objects lodged in the rectums of the patients in question, and that various imaging technologies were brought to bear to determine that the objects were the same patients’ heads. Dr. Pizass noted that the diagnosis serves to explain various important aspects of the patients’ continued insistence on the relevance of the two-state model despite myriad indications that it would bring neither peace nor prosperity to both societies.
“In medicine, diagnosticians generally favor identifying a single cause for multiple symptoms,” she explained. “Here. we have a compelling single factor behind the patients’ evident inability to perceive reality as it is vis-à-vis Israeli-Palestinian relations, and the capacity for Palestinian society to accept the existence of a Jewish State.”
The primary plane on which the presence of the patients’ heads up their rectums clarifies the pathology of the situation involves the patients’ adherence to a view of Palestinian commitment to achieving peace that ignores the ongoing incitement in official Palestinian media and educational materials, such that only a patient’s head being lodged in the backside would allow him or her to see a Palestinian state living in peace alongside a Jewish Israel.
“The ears are located in the head, and the location of that cranium within the anus would effectively block the patient from hearing the dehumanization and delegitimization of Jewish sovereignty so prevalent in Palestinian media,” she continued. “Similarly, since the eyes are located in the same head, having the head stuck in beyond the anal sphincter essentially blinds the patient from seeing the Palestinian social, print, and broadcast media that incite to violence against Jews and undermine any assumptions that Palestinian society might be ready to coexist with Israel.”
Dr. Pizass cautioned that while no cure for the condition is known to be 100% effective, some patients have found relief contorting themselves to rationalize the inconsistencies that do somehow penetrate the rectal cavity. “Tying oneself in knots may provide some temporary relief, but in the long term it causes severe and irreversible damage to the body’s credibility system, leaving it open to sudden collapse upon encountering facts it cannot assimilate,” she noted.
Analysis: Palestinian issue puts Jordanian-Israeli peace on ice
A banner of Ahmad Daqamseh, the Jordanian soldier convicted of killing seven Israeli schoolgirls twenty years ago, hangs high above a street in the northern Jordanian city of Irbid. It welcomes him home upon his release from prison and lauds him as “the lion of the [Jordan] Valley” for his murders.
Such displays and similar Facebook posts offer fresh evidence of the unpopularity among Jordanians of Amman’s peace with Israel, signed in 1994. Government ties, though kept at low volume, are close.
Last year, Jordan signed a 15 year gas purchasing agreement with Israel valued at $10 billion.
The two countries have worked out arrangements for Jordanians to work in hotels in Eilat. And most significantly there is close security cooperation, including Israel proffering help in fighting ISIS.
But at the popular level, the peace is ice cold, without contact between the peoples and without cultural exchange.
Palestinian President Desperately Working on Excuse to Not Visit Trump (satire)
Palestinian President and PLO leader Mahmoud Abbas is, according to aides, desperately trying to think of a good excuse not to visit Washington. He received the invitation during his first phone call with President Trump this week.
An aide commented, “Of course on the call he had to act all excited but after he put the receiver down he was all like ‘what the f#$k are we going to do now?’ We all watched Bibi’s visit and we really don’t want to go through that awkward handshake stuff. Plus, exactly how many states does the President think we all want? One, two, fifty-eight? There’s a suspicion here that he might be confusing ‘states’ with ‘Trump Resorts’, and if there’s one thing that would not improve Gaza it’s a Trump Casino.”
“To be honest we were expecting to be included in the travel ban. Those Yemeni bastards always catching a break.”
U.N. rights chief discovers antisemitism—only concerning USA
UN Watch's Hillel Neuer takes the floor:
"Mr. President, we applaud the High Commissioner’s recognition that rising antisemitism is a human rights issue worthy of the attention of world leaders, and of the UN.
While he spoke only about the United States, we hope that the High Commissioner’s words mark a turning point in the approach of the U.N., and of his human rights office.
Because to date, Mr. President, in face of the most shocking antisemitic acts of our time, in face of the European reality where Jewish school children in nearby France require thousands of soldiers in full combat gear to protect their lives, what has been the response of the High Commissioner, and his office?
For the most part, their response has been silence."


Former UN Staffer It's Imperative US Cuts Ties With United Nations
"As a former United Nations staffer and invitee to UN University, I have been repeatedly asked if the United States should cut ties with the UN and what the future relationship between the U.S. and UN should be. Without hesitation my answer is yes: the U.S. should back away from the UN. We should replace the UN with an international organization that is actually worthy of being funded by American taxes and is in action-not just words-aligned with American values of freedom, liberty, justice and equality for all.
I envision a new international organization that delivers what former President Woodrow Wilson, who founded the forerunner of the UN (League of Nations), wanted for Americans. Wilson wanted America to be part of a group of peace loving and civilized nations with a high standard of morality. This does not exist in the current environment, where I've found evidence that UN staff practice racism, sexism, sexual exploitation and abuse, corruption, block sustainable development efficiency and are unfair to Americans...
[A]fter experiencing UN corruption and racism firsthand, and then researching the UN's repeated unethical practices, I realized the real UN is profoundly different from the excellent public image it has projected for 72 years. Some UN staff go to great lengths and will stop at nothing-including lawlessness-to maintain their public image. Some manipulate data and prevent reports from reaching the media and ambassadors at the General Assembly and Security Council. For example, UN staff hid an extremely important 2013 independent expert evaluation of sexual exploitation and abuse report based on experts visiting UN peacekeeping missions in Democratic Republic of Congo, Haiti, Liberia and South Sudan. Aids Free World received a copy of this highly critical report of UN staff in New York. But a profoundly different report (A/69/779) was provided to the ambassadors-one that depicted the UN as great peaceful warriors abolishing sexual exploitation and abuse...
The only option is for the U.S. to back down from the United Nations and replace it with an organization that is transparent, fair, and delivers in action peace, justice and equality for all..."
UN's top women's rights body opens with Iran overseeing all complaints of violations of women's rights
The UN's top women's rights body, the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), opened its annual session in New York today with Iran serving in a key position. Iran is not only one of 45 elected member states of CSW, it is also a member of an exclusive group of five states that are charged with handling complaints of violations of women's rights from all over the world. The group is formally called the CSW "Working Group on Communications."
The election took place on the final day of the 2016 annual session of CSW, March 24, 2016, but was somehow omitted from the UN press release covering the meeting. Iran's appointment is mentioned, however, in the documentation for the 2017 CSW session. Here is the announcement in UN-eze:
"In accordance with Economic and Social Council resolution 2009/16, the Commission appoints five of its members to serve a two-year term on the Working Group on Communications on the Status of Women, established in accordance with Economic and Social Council resolution 1983/27. At the 1st meeting of its sixty-first session, the Commission appointed Belarus, Iran (Islamic Republic of), Liberia and Uruguay as members of the Working Group on Communications for the sixty-first session. In the absence of a nomination from the Western European and other States, the Commission had postponed the election of the remaining member of the Working Group on Communications to a later date..."
No mention was made of Iran's abysmal treatment of its own women or the additional danger posed by Iranian oversight to any woman who has or would want to complain to the UN of her government's treatment.
Hillel Neuer Calls Out Sweden During UNHRC Report on Iran, U.N. Expert Responds


Gaza doctor sues Israel over 2009 shelling that killed 3 daughters
A Gazan doctor who lost three daughters to IDF shelling during 2009’s Operation Cast Lead is suing the state of Israel in a bid to obtain an acknowledgement, an apology and reparations for the deadly fire.
Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish’s daughters and a niece were killed when a tank shell struck his Gaza home in the waning days of Israel’s 2008-9 war with Hamas. The Israeli shelling occurred as Abuelaish, a longtime advocate for coexistence with Israel, was speaking with then-Channel 10 reporter Shlomi Eldar on a live broadcast. He found out his daughters had been killed during the broadcast, with Israeli viewers listening as he cried out into his phone.
He moved to Canada soon after the war and is now a Canadian citizen.
His lawsuit, brought before the Beersheba District Court, alleges that there was no military rationale for targeting his home, making the shelling a war crime. No fighting was taking place in its vicinity and no Hamas fighters were located nearby, his suit claims.
According to Channel 10, state attorneys responded to the suit by saying that it was not IDF fire that struck Abuelaish’s home. If the Channel 10 report is correct, the state’s defense appears to contradict the findings of an internal military inquiry that found the shelling was carried out by the IDF, and that his home was targeted by mistake.
Iran Recruits Iraqis to Fight for the Golan Heights
An offshoot of the Iraqi branch of Hizballah, the Harakat al-Nujaba militia has fought against Islamic State in Iraq and in support of the Assad regime in Syria—always operating directly under the command of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). The militia recently announced the formation of a “Golan Liberation Brigade.” Amir Toumaj explains what this might portend:
While it is not uncommon for entities to name themselves after areas they aim to “liberate,” the militia’s spokesman has said that the unit could assist the Syrian regime in taking the Golan Heights. . . . [But first, the] unit would likely participate in an offensive to capture territory from the Syrian opposition in the part of the Golan still controlled by Syria before moving on to the much taller order of dislodging the Israelis across the border. This week’s announcement reflects Tehran’s priorities in southern Syria since finally taking the fiercely contested city of Aleppo late last year. . . . [R]eaffirming an ideological commitment to fighting Israel signals defiance to a global audience amid a reportedly converging American-Arab-Israeli military alliance against Tehran. . . . Harakat al-Nujaba also released a video promoting the Golan unit that showed fighters marching in columns and carrying a banner reading, “Israel will be destroyed.”. . .
The combined forces of the Syrian regime and the IRGC-led militias are no match for the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), and this disparity is expected to hold for the foreseeable future. Israel could also adopt a more proactive approach in Syria to foil IRGC encroachment in the Golan, for example by coordinating with Syrian rebels positioned in the area. The Syrian Golan’s flat geography furthermore denies the IRGC suitable terrain to replicate the southern-Lebanon model of concealing rocket launch sites dispersed across a widespread area, making it easier for the IDF to search and destroy weapons systems. For years, the IDF has been fortifying positions in the rocky plateau of Golan to face greater capabilities than the IRGC and its allies can muster.
Police shutter Palestinian office said to track land sales to Jews
Police on Monday shut down an office in East Jerusalem allegedly used by the Palestinian Authority to monitor land sales to Jews by Palestinians.
In a statement, police said that the office in the Beit Hanina neighborhood compiled the names of East Jerusalem residents suspected of selling their properties to Jews. The office operated on behalf of the Palestinian security services in Ramallah, according to police.
The East Jerusalem facility, which operated under the guise of a geographical consulting office called the Arab Studies Society, compiled a database of Palestinian landowners in East Jerusalem and tracked changes on the ground, police said.
Police arrested Khalil Tafakji, a cartographer heading the Mapping and Geographic Information Systems Department of the Arab Studies Society. Tafakji also heads the Maps and Survey Department at Jerusalem’s Orient House, which operated as the Palestinian Liberation Organization’s headquarters in the city until the building was shuttered by Israel in 2000.
Reporter with new public broadcaster lauds terrorist
A reporter with Israel's new public broadcaster has sparked controversy by praising the actions of a Palestinian terrorist on social media.
According to a Channel 20 report, Samah Wattad retweeted a photo of Basel al-Araj, a terrorist killed by security forces on March 3, with the caption: "The intellectual is the first to fight and never gives up."
The photo and caption were originally posted by Palestinian Information Center, a news website based in the Gaza Strip.
Lambasted by other Twitter users for the post, Wattad tried to downplay the controversy, saying "retweeting on Twitter doesn't necessarily mean agreeing with the content of the tweet."
The new Israel Public Broadcast Corporation, known as Kan, was scheduled to begin broadcasting on Jan. 1, but this has been postponed to early April.
Wattad, 24, from Jat, an Arab town near Haifa, is among the youngest reporters recruited by the fledgling broadcaster and works on its Arab desk. She previously worked as an editor for the Arabic news website Shof.
PMW: Abbas appoints Antisemitic PA TV host as dean of Gaza Al-Azhar schools
Last week, Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas emphasized his endorsement of the Antisemitic host of the weekly PA TV program This is Our Religion, Imad Hamato, when he received him at his headquarters in Ramallah. Abbas appointed him as head of Gaza’s Al-Azhar institutes a few months ago.
Palestinian Media Watch has documented Hamato’s Antisemitism, which has included this teaching:
"Humanity will never live in comfort as long as the Jews are causing devastating corruption throughout the land. Humanity will never live in peace or fortune or tranquility as long as they are corrupting the land. An old man told me: If a fish in the sea fights with another fish, I am sure the Jews are behind it."
[Official PA TV, Feb. 27, 2015 and Feb. 25, 2016]
Hamato was appointed by Abbas in October 2016 as dean of the Al-Azhar institutes, a system of schools that prepare students for studies at the Al-Azhar University in Gaza.
At the recent meeting with Abbas, Hamato emphasized that the institutes under his leadership “are committed to... the moderate message of Islam.” In response, Abbas stressed “his full support of the Al-Azhar institutes and praised their large role in conveying the correct message of Islam.” [WAFA, official PA news agency, March 6, 2017]
Palestinians Protest PA Decision to Try Those Who Planned to Murder Israelis
Palestinian police violently suppressed a demonstration on Sunday afternoon in Ramallah in the occupied West Bank, after locals gathered in protest of a case against slain activist Basel al-Araj and five other Palestinians who were imprisoned alongside him last year by the Palestinian Authority (PA).
There were also reports of clashes erupting between Palestinian security forces and demonstrators in the Bethlehem-area Duheisha refugee camp on Sunday evening following a similar protest.
Several protesters were detained in Ramallah, and at least 11 were injured -- including Mahmoud al-Araj, Basel's father --- in the clashes on Sunday afternoon. Police assaulted journalists and prevented them from covering the event, while some reported that their equipment had been broken.
Mahmoud al-Araj was hospitalized, and told reporters that he would launch a hunger strike if all Palestinians detained during the march were not immediately released. Six protesters who had been detained were then released, among them prominent Islamic Jihad member Khader Adnan.
PA forces were heavily deployed in the area, suppressing the demonstration with tear gas and beating protesters with batons.
PFLP to boycott municipal elections in the West Bank
The Palestinian Front for the Liberation of Palestine announced on Monday that it will boycott upcoming municipal elections slated to take place in the West Bank in May, two days after Palestinian Authority security forces violently cracked down on a demonstration in front a courthouse in Ramallah.
The PLFP said that it made the decision to boycott the elections in protest of the PA leadership’s “insufficient” response to its security forces’ violent crackdown on the demonstration.
PA Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah on Monday formed an investigative committee into the PA security forces’ crackdown on the demonstration and vowed to hold law violators accountable.
The PFLP joins Hamas and Islamic Jihad in boycotting the municipal elections.
How Hamas is winning hearts and minds in Europe
At the end of February, in Istanbul, the Palestinians Abroad Conference convened with the purported goal of promoting global support for the Palestinians. Its actual purpose was to bolster the status of Hamas in the international arena.
Many of the organizers of the conference, which was attended by thousands of Arabs and Palestinians from all over the world, are of Palestinian origin. But to those who closely followed what happened in Istanbul, it became clear that many of the organizers and attendees had something else in common: they are known to have been members — for decades — of Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated networks all over Europe.
This was not the first conference of its kind. Many like it have taken place in recent years. Many of the same faces are present — including current and past members of the Muslim Brotherhood, at a more or less official level, and current and past members of Hamas.
Their shared goal is to promote international legitimacy for Hamas — in Europe, Africa, the Middle East (of course) and even in Latin America — in a bid to challenge the PLO’s international standing as the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people.
Hamas, in this way, is slowly but surely establishing a global infrastructure of supporters who are providing not only encouragement and legitimacy, but also quite a bit of financial assistance.
Tracing the outlines of this infrastructure lends some surprising insights. For example, Britain turns out to be hosting more of this semi-official activity by Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood than any other country in Europe.
Russia digs its tentacles further into the Middle East
Russian President Vladimir Putin has been busy in the Middle East this month. On March 9 he met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The next day he met Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and on March 14 Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov met Libyan general Khalifa Haftar’s envoy in Moscow.
Since Libya fell into civil conflict after 2011, Haftar has emerged as the most powerful leader in eastern Libya. Reports have emerged that Russia has sent special forces to Egypt, eyeing a Libya role. The decisions by Russia represent an increase of its influence in the region. The Kremlin is already the key powerbroker in Syria, so what is Moscow up to in Libya?
The Russian Foreign Minister, according to an article published by RIA Novosti, says it is only supporting an “inclusive dialogue” in Libya that will lead to a “stable arrangement, designed to bring the country out of a prolonged political crisis.” Russia recently hosted a delegation from the Government of National Accord (GNA), the UN recognized government of Libya that is stronger in the west of the country.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov also met the Chairman of the Presidential Council of the GNA Fayez al-Sarraj in September of last year. At the time, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs underscored “its commitment to Libya’s independence, unity and territorial integrity, as well as the need to involve representatives of the major political groups, tribes and country’s regions in the formation of the national unity government.” Translation: Include General Haftar and his supporters in Benghazi and Tobruk.
Russia Deploys Special Forces in Egypt, Eyes Libya Role
Russia appears to have deployed special forces to an airbase in western Egypt near the border with Libya in recent days, U.S., Egyptian and diplomatic sources say, a move that would add to U.S. concerns about Moscow's deepening role in Libya.
The U.S. and diplomatic officials said any such Russian deployment might be part of a bid to support Libyan military commander Khalifa Haftar, who suffered a setback with an attack on March 3 by the Benghazi Defence Brigades (BDB) on oil ports controlled by his forces.
The U.S. officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the United States has observed what appeared to be Russian special operations forces and drones at Sidi Barrani, about 60 miles (100 km) from the Egypt-Libya border.
Egyptian security sources offered more detail, describing a 22-member Russian special forces unit, but declined to discuss its mission. They added that Russia also used another Egyptian base farther east in Marsa Matrouh in early February.
The apparent Russian deployments have not been previously reported.
Iran sets up underground rocket factories in Lebanon — report
Iran has established rocket factories in Lebanon that are under the full control of the Hezbollah terror group, a top Iranian general told a Kuwaiti newspaper.
Citing one of the deputy heads of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, the al-Jarida newspaper reported Monday that Iran in recent months has established factories for manufacturing both rockets and firearms in Lebanon.
The newspaper did not say which of IRGC chief Maj. Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari’s deputies made the assertion.
The report came just days after Iran’s Defense Minister Hossein Dehghan, a former brigadier general in the IRGC, said Hezbollah is now capable of producing rockets that can hit any part of Israel. Dehghan offered no details of the new capabilities.
The new factories, said to be located underground, have reportedly been in operation for the past three months.
Iran Sentences American Citizen, Wife to Death for “Holding Mixed Parties” With Alcohol
A dual American-Iranian citizen and his wife have been sentenced to death by an Iranian court after being convicted of founding a “cult” and “holding mixed parties” that involved serving alcohol, the Financial Times reported Sunday.
Tehran prosecutor-general Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi said in a statement on Sunday that the case “is related to a woman and man who provided alcoholic drinks, and encouraged corruption and debauchery by holding mixed parties.” Dolatabadi claimed that the man had stored 4,000 liters of alcoholic beverages in his home, in violation of Iranian law.
Though the couple has not been named, it is believed that they are owners of a Tehran art gallery who were arrested last July. They are reported to be members of the Zoroastrians religion, who under Iranian law are allowed to have alcohol for private purposes but forbidden from sharing it with Muslims.
The statement also noted that the coupled had allegedly been “exhibiting and selling obscene images at [their] gallery,” and that they had founded “a new cult.”
Iran blocks Waze app for being Israeli-made
Authorities in Iran have temporarily blocked people from using the navigation app Waze because it was developed in Israel.
In a report publicized by the Iranian news agency FARS, it was stated that a final permanent decision regarding the use of the program will be made soon. As of now, the app is unavailable for download, and the actual use of the program is being blocked by the government.
According to reports in Iran, the app was blocked for use this week by the Iranian “Committee for Determining Offensive Content”. Sources say that a use of an app with an Israeli background “raised concerns.”
Waze was bought by Google back in 2013 in what was defined as the most expensive application acquisition in history. The deal was valued at $1.1 billion. It is stated by its CEO and senior Google executive Noam Bardin that the app is widely used among Iranian drivers.
Whilst Iranians have access to the internet, the country operates on a highly censored “Halal Intranet,” with many external websites including social media networks such as Facebook and Twitter inaccessible.




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