Tag Archives: Israel

Gaza pauses in its ferocity and deadly clashes to bury its dead terrorists

Top stories of the day following Israel’s anniversary celebration:

1. Palestinians in Gaza spent the day burying their dead for now. Hamas’s calls for further marches on the border petered out as a mere 400 Palestinians showed up. Nevertheless, the IDF remained braced for Naqba Day violence to spread to the West Bank.

Shortly before this roundup was published, the IDF announced that 24 of the 60 Palestinians killed were terrorists from Hamas or Islamic Jihad. The army also released details about how it prevented a mass border breach.

2. Israel threatens to resume targeted killings of Hamas leaders if riots continue.

3. Palestinians managed to trash their side of the Kerem Shalom border crossing. It’s the third time they destroyed equipment and infrastructure at the crossing where Israel transfers food, fuel, medicine and humanitarian aid to the Strip. (Who gains? Hamas.)

By the way, Palestinians refused to allow 14 trucks carrying food and diapers to enter Gaza today, the Times of Israel reports. (Medical supplies were allowed through.) The Times notes, “It was not immediately clear why the border officials, who are employed by the Palestinian Authority, would not accept the shipments.”

4. Does the Media Really Understand the Gaza Violence? Thanks to the media, Gaza violence was always likely to be a win-win situation for Hamas. HonestReporting addressed a number of issues not raised in this roundup and the critique is must-read.

5. Your No-Hype Guide To The US Embassy Move To Jerusalem: Lost in the media hoopla over the US embassy move is a solid discussion of the law and history shaping this historic moment. HonestReporting’s Daniel Pomerantz explains in The Federalist.

6. Is the US Embassy Move Legal?: Israel must be treated according to the same legal standards as every other country on earth.

Israel and the Palestinians

• Israeli and US officials inaugurated the US embassy in Jerusalem. President Donald Trump addressed the gathering by a video link. Take your pick of Times of Israel or Haaretz coverage. Outside, police clashed with Israeli Arab MKs protesting the move.

• IDF called yesterday’s Palestinian violence unprecedented, as an estimated 35,000-50,000 Gazans clashed with soldiers and tried to breach the border. Military officials told Israeli media that “Hamas deployed 12 separate terror “cells” to try to breach the border at different spots,” and that they were unable to kidnap or kill any soldiers.

• Talk is cheap, but I wonder if sparking a new intifada in the West Bank was the Hamas end game all along.

 

• The New York Times and Washington Post both noted this point about the Hamas’ drive for casualties:

But the protests appeared to have a more violent edge than in previous weeks. Some young men brought knives and fence cutters. At a gathering point east of Gaza City, organizers urged protestors over loudspeakers to burst through the fence, telling them Israeli soldiers were fleeing their positions, even as they were reinforcing them.

• The New York Times snippet on Palestinian injury figures made my antennae twitch:

A spokesman for the Israeli Defense Forces, Lt. Colonel Jonathan Conricus, cast doubt on the casualty numbers from the Hamas-controlled Health Ministry; he said a large number of those listed as injured had suffered only tear-gas inhalation.

That may be true. According to the Health Ministry, live fire accounted for 1,204 injuries, bullet fragments caused 133 injuries and 837 injuries were attributed to gas. The breakdown did not account for the remaining injuries.

• A Palestinian baby died of tear gas inhalation because, well, who doesn’t bring the little ones to violent clashes? [Update: Just after this roundup was published, a Gaza doctor said the baby, Layla Ghandour had a pre-existing medical condition and may not have died because of tear gas]. Associated Press quoted Hamas-affiliated Gaza health officials that six of the Palestinians killed by gunshots were minors. Indeed, this description from a New York Times dispatch says a lot about the gulf between Israeli and Palestinian society:

At the rear of the protest area, Aseel Nasser, a determined 12-year-old girl, stood her ground. Facing a video camera operated by her brother, she recited a poem that extolled the virtues of jihad against Zionists. She was undeterred by the risks, explained her father, Khalil Nassar, 46, an education ministry official, who had brought her along. “It would be a great honor to be martyred by the occupation,” he said.

The Los Angeles Times also noted one family’s unsuccessful efforts to keep their daughter from going to the clashes. But where did Shireen learn to talk like this?

Terrified for their daughter’s safety, Shireen Nusralla’s parents locked her in her room Monday so she would not go to the protests. But the 30-year-old woman said she sneaked out through a window.

“I’m not afraid,” she declared as she walked toward a camp east of Gaza City, carrying a large Palestinian flag. “My dream is to get martyred or to kidnap an Israeli soldier.”

Commentary

• Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai weighs in on the embassy move, also insisting that Israel only has one capital, and it is Jerusalem.

In all my years as mayor, I have made it clear to every distinguished ambassador that we will provide him and his team with the best service to make them feel at home here, but that I am first and foremost an Israeli who is offended by the fact that his country refuses to recognize my country’s capital—Jerusalem—as Israel’s capital city.

What would the Italians say if the State of Israel decided that Milan rather than Rome was the capital of the boot-shaped country and placed its embassy there?

Ron Huldai, mayor of Tel Aviv
• The Wall St. Journal (click via Twitter) nailed the first paragraph of its staff-ed.

Violence marred the transfer of the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv on Monday, but the ceremony was more excuse than cause. The Palestinians from Hamas who protested along the Gaza border with Israel were continuing their eternal war against the existence of the Jewish state more than they care about where America puts its diplomats.

 

[From an article published by HonestReporting.com]

 

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As always, posted for your edification and enlightenment by

NORM ‘n’ AL, Minneapolis
normal@usa1usa.com
612.239.0970

 

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Palestinians have an excellent opportunity for peace in Jerusalem…but what will they do with it?

For decades now, Palestinians have interpreted Israeli concessions and gestures as signs of weakness.

This fact is important to bear this in mind as the US administration prepares to launch its plan for peace in the Middle East, which President Donald Trump has referred to as the “deal of the century.”

A report in the Israeli daily Ma’ariv on May 4th claimed that the “deal of the century” calls for placing four Arab neighborhoods in Jerusalem under the control of the Palestinian Authority. The four neighborhoods, according to the report, are Jabal Mukaber, Essawiyeh, Shu’fat and Abu Dis. Ma’ariv wrote that the details of the US peace plan were presented to Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman during his visit to Washington last week:

“The principles of the peace plan, which were presented to Liberman, include, among other things, large-scale and significant concessions on the part of Israel… the US expects Israel to accept the plan and to come to terms with what the Israelis perceive as painful concessions.”

If true, the reported concessions that Israel is being asked to make as part of the US administration’s “deal of the century” will not be perceived by the Palestinians as a sign that Israel seeks peace. As the past has proven, they will be viewed by the Palestinians as a form of retreat and capitulation.

The Palestinian Authority would be happy to assume control over the four Arab neighborhoods in Jerusalem. As far as the PA is concerned, the more territory it is handed by Israel, the better. Territory in Jerusalem is especially welcome as it would give the Palestinian Authority a foothold in the city. A foothold, that is, for much, much more.

The four neighborhoods are only a few miles away from the Knesset, the Prime Minister’s Office and other symbols of Israeli sovereignty. Thus, Palestinian sovereignty over the four neighborhoods is of symbolic importance. Make no mistake: the Palestinians will see their presence in the four neighborhoods as the first step towards the redivision of Jerusalem.

The Palestinians will say that these Israeli concessions are not enough. They will demand that Israel hand them control over all 28 Arab neighborhoods and villages that are located within the boundaries of the Jerusalem Municipality and are under Israeli sovereignty. In other words, the handing over of the four communities will only whet the Palestinians’ appetite and drive them to demand more. The Palestinians will argue that Israel has now created a precedent that needs to be followed by further concessions.

Here, it is worth noting that the Palestinian Authority is demanding sovereignty over all of east Jerusalem, including the Old City and the Western Wall. For them, the Old City and all the holy sites in Jerusalem belong to the Palestinians and should all be under Palestinian sovereignty. They will take the four neighborhoods, but that will just be the beginning. Even worse, the Palestinians are likely to use the four neighborhoods as launching pads to carry out terror attacks against Israel to “liberate the rest of Jerusalem.”

Let us consider what happened in 2005, when Israel unilaterally withdrew from the Gaza Strip after evicting more than 8,000 Jews from their homes and destroying more than 20 settlements.

Even today, it is hard to find a single Palestinian who regards the Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip as an indication that Israel wants peace. On the contrary. The Israeli “disengagement” from the Gaza Strip was misinterpreted by the Palestinians as a retreat in the face of suicide bombings and rocket attacks.

For the Palestinians, the Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip was perceived as a capitulation that emboldened Hamas and other terror groups. These groups took credit for “driving the Jews out of the Gaza Strip” through terrorism.

If shooting Israelis worked and drove the Israelis to retreat, good: Keep doing it!

It is no wonder, then, that Hamas won the Palestinian parliamentary election a few months later. Hamas ran in the January 2006 election on a platform that boasted that it had forced Israel to “flee” the Gaza Strip through suicide and rocket attacks.

Back then, Palestinians in the Gaza Strip said: “This is wonderful, we have killed 1,000 Jews in four years and these Jews run away from the Gaza Strip, so we need to continue shooting at them. Today, they run away from the Gaza Strip. Tomorrow they will run away from Ashkelon, then from Ashdod, then from Tel Aviv, and from there to the sea, and we will achieve our goal of eliminating Israel.”

Needless to say, Hamas and its supporters continued to launch attacks against Israel after the Israeli withdrawal to the international border. They truly believed that the Israeli “disengagement” was nothing but surrender in the face of violence.

The talk now about an Israeli withdrawal from parts of Jerusalem will bring us back to the Gaza Strip scenario.

First, no Palestinian will see such a step as a positive gesture on the part of Israel.

Second, why would anyone think that these neighborhoods will not fall into the hands of Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad in the future?

That is exactly what happened in 2005, when Israel handed the Gaza Strip over to the Palestinian Authority, which later ran away, and handed it over to Hamas.

The timing of the proposed Israeli concessions is also highly problematic. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and his Ramallah-based government and associates are currently engaged in an unprecedented campaign of incitement against Israel.

They are continuing to spread venomous lies about Israel and incite their people to hate and violence. They are continuing to reward terrorists and their families for killing and maiming Jews. They are continuing to deny any Jewish history and connection to the land, and they are doing their utmost to delegitimize and demonize Jews.

Any Israeli concessions, particularly at this stage, will be interpreted by the Palestinians as a reward to Mahmoud Abbas and his crowd, who are not being required to give Israel anything in return.

Hardly a day passes without Abbas reminding us that he is not a partner for any peace agreement with Israel. Is it wise to reward Abbas now that he has exposed his true anti-Semitism? Is it appropriate to give Abbas a foothold in Jerusalem after he recently claimed that it was, according to him, the Jews’ behavior, and not anti-Semitism, that caused the Holocaust?

Is it appropriate and helpful to reward Abbas at a time when he is refusing to stop payments to Palestinian terrorists and their families?

Moreover, is it appropriate and helpful to reward Abbas and his Palestinian Authority at a time when they are continuing to incite their people against the US administration and its Jewish advisors, Jason Greenblatt, David Friedman and Jared Kushner? Does the Palestinian Authority deserve to be rewarded for its daily incitement against US Ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley?

There is a saying in Arabic: “They spit in his face but he calls it rain.”

Haven’t the Palestinians already dismissed President Trump’s plan as a “conspiracy aimed at liquidating the Palestinian cause and national rights?” Why should the Trump administration give Abbas gifts at a time when he and his friends are boycotting US officials?

The Trump administration needs to understand that the Palestinians view the US as an enemy, not as a friend. Giving Abbas control over four Arab neighborhoods in Jerusalem will not advance the cause of peace.

No Palestinian will take to the streets to express gratitude to Israel. Instead, they will take to the streets to intensify their terror attacks on Israel in the hope of extracting further concessions.

Abbas has proven that he is no different than his predecessor, Yasser Arafat. Like Arafat, he too does not recognize Jews’ right to the land, any land. Just look at any current map of “Palestine”: it is an exact duplicate of the map of Israel, but with the names of some cities changed.

Abbas does not aim for control over some areas just in Jerusalem. For Abbas, as for Arafat, Israel is one big settlement that needs to be removed. For him, in his own words, Israel is a “colonial project” that he claims has nothing to do with Judaism. For him, the Jews are nothing more than the greedy moneylenders, parodied in caricatures, who brought the Holocaust on themselves.

Is this a man who deserves to be rewarded? Is this a man who deserves to be brought into Jerusalem? Abbas, and not Israel, ought to be asked for concessions. He should stop denying and distorting Jewish history, he should stop rewarding Jew-killers; he should stop preaching hate to his people. That is the best path to peace.

 

[From an article written by Bassam Tawil for The Gatestone Institute.  Bassam Tawil is a Muslim based in the Middle East.]

 

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NORM ‘n’ AL, Minneapolis
normal@usa1usa.com
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President of Turkey now threatens to wipe out the Jews

Turkey's president threatens to wipe out the JewsObama has praised Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan as “a man of action” and one of the five world leaders with whom he had the strongest bond. President Trump met with him at the White House last spring.

And certainly Erdogan has tried to portray himself to Western leaders as a pragmatist with whom they can work.

But at a convention of his ruling party Sunday, Erdogan invoked a Muslim hadith — a collection of the accounts and sayings of Muhammad — that made clear his view of Jews and the state of Israel, according to dissident Turkish journalist Abdullah Bozkurt, the Investigative Project on Terrorism reported.

“Those who think they own Jerusalem better know that tomorrow they won’t be able to hide behind trees,” Erdogan said, according to Bozkurt.

That statement essentially is an affirmation of a prophecy that all Jews will one day be destroyed, the journalist said.

Bozkurt explained Erdogan was making “a veiled threat of killing each and every Jew with a shocking reference to apocalyptic prophecy of tree story.”

The Turkish leader was responding to President Trump’s decision last week to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and to begin the process of moving the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Bozkurt said anti-Semitism has always been in the background in Turkish society, but this marks the first time Turkey’s head of government has publicly added fuel to it.

Last year, Erdogan shut down Bozkurt’s former newspaper, Today’s Zaman, which had Turkey’s largest circulation, IPT noted.

The full hadith that Erdogan referenced says:

The last hour would not come unless the Muslims will fight against the Jews and the Muslims would kill them until the Jews would hide themselves behind a stone or a tree and a stone or a tree would say: Muslim, or the servant of Allah, there is a Jew behind me; come and kill him; but the tree Gharqad would not say, for it is the tree of the Jews.

Erdogan invoked the hadith during a Justice and Development Party gathering Sunday in which he also accused Israel of being a terrorist state.

Turkey, under Erdogan, has harbored and funded Hamas terrorists, provided covert support to ISIS and other jihadists in Syria, and bombed civilians belonging to his own Kurdish minority, IPT said.

IPT pointed out that the Turkish Youth Foundation, run by Erdogan’s son, Bilal, participated in anti-Israel and anti-U.S. rallies calling on Muslims to unite against Trump’s Jerusalem announcement.

On Friday, protesters in Istanbul chanted “Jerusalem is ours and will remain so!” along with “Down with America” and “Down with Israel.”

In May, as WND reported, Erdogan watched his security officials beat protesters outside Turkey’s embassy in Washington. Members of his security team also clashed with demonstrators in 2016 outside the Brookings Institution in Washington, where he was giving a speech.  Brookings issued a statement at the time saying the security team “behaved unacceptably — they roughed up protesters outside the building and tried to drag away ‘undesired’ journalists, an approach typical of the Russians or Chinese.”

WND reported many geopolitical analysts are concerned the NATO nation, once regarded as a potential member of the European Union, is being systematically transformed into an anti-Western power. Fifteen years into his rule, Erdogan is abandoning the secular tradition of the founder of modern Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, in favor of Islamic nationalism.

In April, Erdogan declared victory in a referendum to grant him sweeping powers in a vote opponents charged was marred by irregularities.

The measure, with 51.5 percent of the vote, replaced Turkey’s parliamentary system with an all-powerful presidency and abolished the office of prime minister.

A week before his visit to the U.S., Erdogan urged Muslims to swarm the Temple Mount to act as a counter to the “insult” of “occupied Jerusalem.”

He called Israel a “racist and discriminatory” state that is reminiscent of apartheid in South Africa.

Erdogan also met with Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah to work on “unifying efforts to protect Jerusalem against attempts of Judaization,” the independent Palestinian Maan news agency reported.

In December 2016, as WND reported, hacked emails released by WikiLeaks showed Erdogan’s son-in-law was tied to the company accused of importing oil from ISIS. Russian Deputy Defense Minister Anatoly Antonov previously told journalists in Moscow that Erdogan and his family were “involved” in ISIS’ illegal oil trade and personally benefiting from it.

Turkey also has been accused of training ISIS fighters and of providing direct support to ISIS.

‘Strong’ relationship

At the White House in May, President Trump and Erdogan described the relationship between the two countries as strong but avoided the differences over strategies for confronting ISIS in northern Syria.

The previous week, the Trump administration decided to supply heavy weapons to Syrian Kurdish rebel militias, the YPG, fighting ISIS. Turkey is in an ongoing battle with Kurdish separatists in its southeast.

The Turkish embassy claims the protesters at the embassy Tuesday were affiliated with the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), the leading Kurdish separatist group, which has been banned in Turkey.

Pastor Andrew BrunsonThe case of Pastor Andrew Brunson, who has been imprisoned in Turkey without formal charges since October 2016, was brought up three times during Trump’s meeting with Erdogan, twice by Trump and once by Vice President Mike Pence, CBN reported.

A former member of Turkey’s Parliament who has advocated for Brunson’s release, Aykan Erdemir, told CBN that Brunson, improbably accused of “membership in an armed terrorist organization,” is now “a pawn, kind of a trump card in Erdogan’s hand.  There’s absolutely no rule of law, no due process in that case, it’s a completely bogus case. Anyone who has looked at the case knows that these are trumped up charges,” he said.

 

[From an article published by WND]

 

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NORM ‘n’ AL, Minneapolis
normal@usa1usa.com
612.239.0970

 

 

 

 

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Palestinian Authority tells UN it is responsible for ending Israeli “occupation,” also demands apology (and compensation) from Britain for 1917 Balfour Declaration

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Wednesday told the United Nations that Israel is not a peace partner, and said its “colonial occupation” of the West Bank and East Jerusalem was breeding incitement and violence in the region.

In an address to the General Assembly, Abbas said the international community was responsible for putting an end to Israeli policies that “incite religious tensions and could lead to a violent religious conflict.”

“We are entrusted and you are entrusted to end apartheid in Palestine,” Abbas said in a nearly 45-minute speech.”Can the world accept an apartheid regime in the 21st century?”

Still no truth or honor from Abbas“Has the international community surrendered to the fact that Israel is a country above the law?” he asked. “The continuation of the occupation is a disgrace for the international community.”

“There is no place left for the state of Palestine and this is not acceptable,” he said.

“The two-state solution is in jeopardy,” he said, warning, “We cannot as Palestinians stand still in the face of this threat.”

“Our choice is the two-state solution on the 1967 borders,” Abbas said, “and we will grant every chance for the efforts being undertaken by President Donald Trump and the Quartet and international community as a whole to achieve a historic agreement that brings the two-state solution to reality, enabling the state of Palestine with its capital East Jerusalem to live in peace and security side by side with Israel.”

The Quartet refers to the grouping of the United States, Russia, the United Nations and the European Union guiding the Middle East peace process.

Abbas said that failing the re-establishment of talks, he would continue to seek recognition of Palestinian statehood outside the framework of a peace process — a posture Israel has rejected repeatedly as sabotaging chances for peace.  In a first for a Palestinian president since the launch of the Oslo peace process in 1993, however, Abbas also suggested that the Palestinians might, in the face of the collapse of hopes for two states, agitate for full rights in a single state.

Likening Israel’s control of the West Bank to a “one-state reality,” Abbas warned that in the failure of a two-state solution, “neither you, nor we, will have any other choice but to continue the struggle and demand full, equal rights for all inhabitants of historic Palestine. This is not a threat, but a warning of the realities before us as a result of ongoing Israeli policies that are gravely undermining the two-state solution.”

Abbas said withdrawing the Israeli presence from the West Bank and East Jerusalem, by contrast, would be a blow to Palestinian terror groups, which continue to call for the use of violence as a strategy of resistance.

Abbas went on to urge the British government to correct the “historic injustice” it inflicted on the Palestinian people by issuing the Balfour Declaration in 1917, a document that espoused London’s support for a Jewish homeland in Palestine.  The PA president criticized the United Kingdom for marking the 100th anniversary of the declaration, and demanded compensation.

Abbas also told the Assembly that Israel’s refusal to recognize a state of Palestine along the 1967 lines “put into question” its commitment to the Oslo peace accords signed in 1993.

“We recognize the state of Israel on the 1967 borders, but Israel’s refusal to recognize these borders has put into question the mutual recognition of the agreement signed in Oslo,” he said.

Afterwards, Israel’s UN ambassador slammed Abbas for his remarks, saying they “spread falsehoods” that “encourage hate.”

“Today’s lies and excuses have proven once again that the Palestinian leadership is a serial evader of peace,” Ambassador Danny Danon said in a statement.

Earlier on Wednesday, Abbas met with US President Donald Trump and, in a markedly more conciliatory tone than his UN General Assembly speech, expressed optimism of the US administration’s efforts to broker “the deal of a century” between the Palestinians and Israel.

Abbas said the 20-plus meetings PA officials have held with US officials since Trump took office in January “gives us the assurance and the confidence that we are on the verge of real peace.”

Trump, in response, told the Palestinian leader that “we have a pretty good shot — maybe the best shot ever” at achieving peace in the entire Middle East. “I certainly will devote everything within my heart and within my soul to get that deal made.”

“Israel is working very hard toward the same goal, and I must tell you, Saudi Arabia and many of the different nations are working also hard,” Trump told Abbas. “So we’ll see if we can put it together. Who knows? Stranger things have happened.

Trump, who has made resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict one of the “highest priorities” of his presidency, failed to mention the decades-long dispute in his address to the UN a day earlier.

During his speech, Trump trashed the deal to curb Iran’s nuclear program and dubbed North Korean leader Kim Jong-un a “rocket man” on a “suicide mission.”  Also on Tuesday, Trump met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and told the Israeli leader that a regional peace deal would be a “fantastic achievement” and that “we are giving it an absolute go.”

In his own remarks to the General Assembly, Netanyahu said that Israel was ready for peace with Palestinians and the rest of the Arab world. However, his commitment to the principle of “two states for two peoples,” expressed last year, was absent from his speech.  Netanyahu later hailed Trump’s remarks as the most “courageous speech” he had ever heard at the world body.

 

[From an article published by The Times of Israel]

 

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As always, posted for your edification and enlightenment by

NORM ‘n’ AL, Minneapolis
normal@usa1usa.com
612.239.0970

 

 

 

 

 

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Israel celebrates 69th anniversary of its independence while the UN continues to condemn the Mideast’s only democracy for its “occupation” of the only country it has ever known

“Palestinians hemorrhaging support for their continued anti-Israel resolutions”

As Israel celebrated its 69th Independence Day on Tuesday,  UNESCO — the cultural arm of the United Nations — voted by a 22-10 margin (with 23 abstentions and three absences) to approve a resolution that condemned what it called Israel’s “illegal” presence in Jerusalem.
However, the number of “yes” votes was down from similar past resolutions — a development one watchdog group viewed as progress.
“Israel lost the vote today, but it did score a moral victory by winning more votes than ever before, including from leading democratic members like the US, Britain, Germany, Italy, and the Netherlands,” Hillel Neuer — executive director of the Geneva-based UN Watch NGO -told The Algemeiner.
“The Palestinians at UNESCO are hemorrhaging support for their ritual anti-Israel resolutions: last April they had 33 yes votes, then in October it was down to 24, and today it’s down to 22.
And once again, India — an increasingly important friend of Israel — has voted to abstain, showing that its recent break from decades of lockstep voting with the Arab states is now a fixed policy.”
The resolution passed on Tuesday stated that “all legislative and administrative measures and actions taken by Israel, the occupying Power, which have altered or purport to alter the character and status of the Holy City of Jerusalem, and in particular the ‘basic law’ on Jerusalem, are null and void and must be rescinded forthwith.”
Holy sites outside Jerusalem were also included in the resolution. Two shrines sacred to Jews — the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron and Rachel’s Tomb in Bethlehem — were defined by the resolution as the “two Palestinian sites of Al-Haram Al-Ibrahimi/Tomb of the Patriarchs in Al-Khalil/Hebron and the Bilal Ibn Rabah Mosque/Rachel’s Tomb in Bethlehem.” Both, the resolution said, “are an integral part of the Occupied Palestinian Territory.”
The resolution also “deplored” what it described as “the continuous Israeli closure of the Gaza Strip, which harmfully affects the free and sustained movement of personnel, students and humanitarian relief items.”
Israeli officials were likely to be pleased with the list of countries that either abstained from the vote or opposed the resolution.
Abstentions included Albania — which has a Muslim majority — and four African states with whom Israel now enjoys revived relations: Ghana, Guinea, Kenya and Uganda.
The US voted against the resolution, as did key European nations like France, Germany, Greece, Lithuania and the Netherlands.
There was a similar lack of consensus among the Latin American delegates.
Paraguay voted against, while Argentina — an ally of Iran before current President Mauricio Macri defeated incumbent Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner in the November 2015 election — also abstained.
Other abstentions included the Dominican Republic and El Salvador. Brazil was the only Latin American country to vote “yes.”
Arab and Muslim states, among them Qatar and Iran — both of whom have extensive financial and political ties with the Palestinian terrorist organization Hamas — voted overwhelmingly in favor.
Israeli Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon condemned the passage of the resolution, which was entitled “Occupied Palestine.”
“This biased and blatantly deceitful decision, and the attempts to dispute the connection between Israel and Jerusalem, will not change the simple fact that this city is the historic and eternal capital of the Jewish people,” Danon said. “Israel will not stand silently by in the face of this shameful resolution.”
Earlier on Tuesday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said at the International Bible Contest in his nation’s capital, “There is no other people in the world for whom Jerusalem is as holy and important as for the Jewish people, even though a meeting will take place at UNESCO today that will try to deny this historical truth.”
[From an article published by PROPHECY NEWS WATCH]
NORM ‘n’ AL Note:  How do you suppose you and all your country’s citizens would feel if the UN continually told you (and the rest of the world) that you were illegally occupying YOUR country?  Israel has thousands of years of well-documented history behind it and the land it calls home, but that seems to make no difference at all to the UN.  Why does the USA continue to support this rogue and ruthless organization?  Maybe we should tell the UN that we think it is illegally occupying all of its New York buildings and give them 90 days to vacate.  Think that might wake them up?
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NORM ‘n’ AL, Minneapolis
normal@usa1usa.com
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The winds of war are blowing on Israel’s borders

Winds of war surround Israel

On Sunday, an Israeli fighter jet entered Syrian airspace and reportedly bombed a vehicle traveling from Damascus to Quneitra, a town situated in the Golan Heights near the border with Israel. One person was killed.

According to Al-Mayadeen, a Lebanese news media service, the attack killed Yasser Hussein Asayeed, a member of a militia group allied with the Syrian government. Sunday’s air strike was the second military incursion into Syrian territory in three days and is evidence of the mounting tension between Israel and its northern neighbor.

On Friday, Israeli jets entered Syria and carried out an attack on a convoy transporting weapons to Hezbollah. During the attack, Syria launched surface-to-air rockets at the Israeli jets. Israel responded by firing its Arrow interceptor missile at the rockets.

Meanwhile, on Saturday, Israel’s Air Force struck two separate Hamas strongholds in the Gaza Strip. The strikes were in response to a Hamas rocket attack on Ashkelon earlier in the day. Another rocket attack from Gaza occurred on Thursday.

These attacks have many in Israel worried that war is imminent. “The winds of war are blowing on Israel’s borders,” wrote Alex Fishman earlier this week. He continued:

The Israeli strike in Syria, the Russian and Syrian responses, and the flare-up in Gaza are bringing Israel one step closer to a military collision. The relative calm along the borders in recent years, which has become a symbol of security stability and deterrence, is gradually wearing out.

The recent attacks are a sign of two important developments. First, as Fishman noted, Israel is establishing red lines with Russia, which in recent years has significantly improved its strategic position in the region.

The weekend events in the north indicate that Israel is striking in Syria not only to curb the Iranian arms convoys to Hezbollah, but also to demonstrate its presence in Syria and make it clear, especially to the Russians, that there will be no agreement in Syria without Israel’s input.

Second, some believe this level of aggression from Israel is a sure sign that it is concerned about the presence of Iran in Syria and Lebanon, and that Tehran via its proxies might even be close to launching an attack. There is evidence, as this article from the Jewish Press explained, that Iran’s strategic and military position in Syria and Lebanon has improved in recent weeks and months.

First, the Iran-sponsored Shia fighters in Syria, who 10 days ago announced the formation of a “Golan Liberation Brigade,” have done more than merely talk. Additional Iraqi Shia fighters have reportedly been deployed to Damascus (never a haunt of the Iran-sponsored force; they’ve been in Aleppo and Idlib Province) and have made public shows of military power there.

Meanwhile, in Lebanon, “Hezbollah has reportedly made a separate threat to begin raining ‘long-range missiles’ down on Israel from the Qalamoun Mountains north of Damascus.” There are also signs that cooperation is increasing between Hezbollah and the Lebanese Armed Forces. On February 12, Lebanese President Michael Aoun implied during a visit to Egypt that Lebanon needs Hezbollah and its weapons as a “complement” to Lebanon’s military. “The resistance’s [Hezbollah] arms are not contrary to the state project; otherwise we could have not tolerated it. It is an essential part of Lebanon’s defense,” he stated (emphasis added).

This statement would not have come as a surprise to Israel. Nevertheless, together with the other developments, it was a timely reminder that Lebanon, like Syria, is essentially a hostile state with little interest in protecting the Jewish state from Iran and its terrorist proxies.

It is impossible to know if Israel is about to go to war in Syria, Lebanon, or anywhere else. But in the larger sense, these events are troubling indicators of an approaching conflict of greater intensity.

Watch Jerusalem closely watches events in this part of the world because of the biblical prophecies describing how conflict here, especially in Jerusalem, will trigger a wider conflagration.

 

[From an article by Brad MacDonald for WATCH JERUSALEM]

 

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As always, posted for your edification and enlightenment by

NORM ‘n’ AL, Minneapolis
normal@usa1usa.com
612.239.0970

 

 

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Trump’s travel ban addressed real problems, but now we need to get it packaged correctly

Last week, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit upheld a nationwide temporary injunction on President Trump’s executive order relating to refugees and visas from seven Muslim-majority countries. The White House says it will not take the case to the Supreme Court, but is rather drafting a version of the executive order that administration officials believe will get past the courts. Perhaps. The unhappy reality is that the 9th Circuit Court’s decision and much of the debate surrounding the executive order partake not of logic and reason but rather issue from a form of politicized hysteria and judicial arrogance.

The 9th Circuit Court argued that “The Government has pointed to no evidence that any alien from any of the countries [Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Yemen] named in the Order has perpetrated a terrorist attack in the United States.”

The language is precise but the intention is false. “Alien” refers to an individual who is not a U.S. citizen, or U.S. national, or permanent resident alien, also known as a green-card holder. In 2011, two Iraqi nationals admitted as refugees, i.e. “aliens,” affiliated with al Qaeda and who fought against U.S. troops in Iraq, were arrested in Bowling Green, Kentucky for plotting terrorist attacks in the United States, but did not manage to “perpetrate” one.

U.S dual-nationals, not aliens, from the seven states, as well as permanent resident aliens, have been involved in successful terrorist attacks and plots against the United States. Among others:

Abdul Razak Artan, a Somali refugee, and permanent resident alien, used his car and a knife to attack fellow students at the Ohio State University in December, 2016 before he was shot to death by police.

Anwar al-Awlaki was an American-born dual national with Yemeni citizenship who, according to Michael Leiter, former director of the National Counterterrorism Center, had a “direct operational role” in the “underwear bomber” plot against a Detroit-bound plane with 289 passengers aboard. Awlaki may also have played a part in the Fort Hood attack, which left 13 dead, and another 30 wounded. Awlaki was killed in a 2011 drone attack ordered by President Barack Obama.

Mansour Arbabsiar, a naturalized American citizen who was also an Iranian national, plotted together with the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps to kill the Saudi ambassador to the United States in a Washington, D.C. restaurant. The operation would have likely resulted in mass casualties in the nation’s capital. In September 2013, Arbabsiar was sentenced to 25 years in prison.

It’s clear that nationals from the seven countries have waged, supported, or plotted terrorist attacks on American soil, but the point of the executive order isn’t to punish for past incidents, or else Saudi Arabia, for instance, would be included on the list due to the number of Saudi nationals involved in the 9/11 attacks. The point rather is to protect against future attacks. The reason those seven countries are listed is because they are either state sponsors of terror (Iran, Sudan, Syria), or have dysfunctional central governments or none at all (Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Yemen), which make it more difficult to vet visa applicants with their home country.

Let’s widen the focus some. As I say, the purpose of the executive order is not to punish but to prevent future attacks in the United States. To show that the executive order is a bad mistake, the burden is on those who mean to show there is no evidence that nationals from the seven states have perpetrated acts of terror anywhere—like, for instance, in Europe.

German authorities have stopped a number of terrorist attacks plotted by Syrian refugees affiliated with ISIS, including an attack on a major transportation hub. In July 2016, a Syrian refugee killed a woman with a machete near Stuttgart. The same month, a Syrian asylum seeker blew himself up at a musical festival, injuring 15 people.

Clearly the vast majority of Muslim refugees mean to escape violence, not carry it with them to Europe. But ISIS has used the refugee crisis to disguise their operators and seed European networks. According to a Washington Post report from April 2016, “over the past six months, more than three dozen suspected militants who impersonated migrants have been arrested or died while planning or carrying out acts of terrorism.” Most notorious among them were members of the cell that waged multiple terrorist attacks in Paris in November 2015 that killed 137 and injured nearly 400. This, including an attack on the Bataclan music hall that killed 90, was only the most dramatic and violent of ISIS-inspired or ISIS-directed operations that have taken place in Europe since 2014. These include the Charlie Hebdo and Hyper Cacher attacks that killed 17, and the truck attack in Nice in July 2016 that killed 86 people, including 10 children, and injured 434.

And it’s not just ISIS that’s sending murderers to Europe among the refugees. Militiamen from Iranian-backed Iraqi Shia groups have relocated to the continent, as have war criminals who fought on behalf of Syrian despot Bashar al-Assad. Indeed, Iraq, Syria, and Iran have a long history of exploiting terror networks in Europe, especially in France. In other words, the problem is not simply that some bad people among the migrants are targeting Europe for terror attacks, but that Middle Eastern states are likely to infiltrate the refugee stream with operatives. Thus, states will not only continue their regional conflict with Europeans in the crossfire, but will also be able to shape European policy through blackmail. If you don’t want your charming cities blown up, and your citizens’ blood spilled in the streets, you better do as we say.

Was it a good idea for Europe to open its doors so widely to the problems that have turned the Middle East into a nightmare? Is Europe a better, more diverse place for admitting the sociopathic murderers who fought to defend Assad? What is the upside of importing the region’s issues, its wars and bloody conflicts? America has some portion of that experience. As former FBI director Robert Mueller told Congress in 2011 that among areas of “threat within the United States … relates to individuals going to Somalia to fight with al Shabab.” Indeed there’s a pipeline from Minnesota to Mogadishu that feeds the ranks of al Shabab, an al Qaeda affiliate, and now, NPR reported, ISIS.

There is no doubt that like the Somali community in Minnesota, the vast majority of Syrian asylum seekers, and visa applicants from the seven states listed, are decent and peaceful people who just want a chance to live, prosper, and raise their families outside a war zone. But the reason that America’s experience of the refugee crisis is different from Europe’s to date is largely because compared to the estimated one million-plus Syrian refugees now seeking asylum in Europe, America has received only a small fraction.

Since the Syrian conflict began in 2011, the United States has admitted around 15,000 refugees—a little more than 2,000 until 2016, when the Obama administration opened the doors to 12,500 Syrian refugees. Given the small number of refugees the United States has admitted as compared to how many Europe has, the burden of proof is on those seeking to show that Europe’s experience is irrelevant to American national security.

Why wouldn’t the odds of ISIS members or Assad militiamen sneaking into the United States increase as the number of refugees increases? The screening process is deeply flawed. As one former Obama administration official working on the refugee vetting process told the Washington Post, it’s difficult to “determine something as basic as an applicant’s criminal history.” He continued: “We do the best with what we have… We talk to people about what their criminal histories are, and we hear about that. That’s pretty much where we are.”

That was in 2015. But in the last two years the vetting process has been fixed and all the holes patched—that’s what various experts and officials opposed to Trump’s executive order seem to be arguing. “The executive order reads,” one former U.S. official toldMother Jones, “as if the stringent measures that have been put in place over the past 15 years to screen refugees don’t exist.”

The time span of fifteen years is meant to point back to 9/11, but the reality is that while they are better now, there are still dangerous problems, noted by lawmakers and law enforcement officials, as recently as December. After the Ohio State attack, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Sen. Charles Grassley wrote to the Department of Homeland Security that the assailant’s family should have been vetted more carefully before they were granted refugee status.

After the Bowling Green case, U.S. officials admitted to problems with a screening process that let through two Iraqi terrorists. “This case demonstrates specific gaps that were present in the screening process that was in place in the beginning of the [Obama] administration,” one Department of Homeland Security Official told ABC News. “Once the administration became aware of these gaps, it took immediate steps to fill them. Today our vetting process considers a far broader range of information than it did in past years.”

It’s unfair to demand perfection from the agencies that protect American citizens, but they realize better than anyone that the vetting process is worse than imperfect. As FBI director James Comey told Congress in November 2015, “a number of people who were of serious concern” slipped through the screening of Iraq War refugees, including the two arrested on terrorism-related charges. “There’s no doubt,” said Comey, “that was the product of a less than excellent vetting.”

The Iraqis were caught because their fingerprints matched those collected by American troops in Iraq. The United States doesn’t have those capabilities in, say, Syria or Iran, nor do we have a relationship with the security services of those two State Department-designated state sponsors of terror that would allow American agencies to rely on the information they might provide. According to Comey, it’s not going to get much better regarding Syrian refugees. “If we don’t know much about somebody, there won’t be anything in our data,” the FBI director told Congress. “I can’t sit here and offer anybody an absolute assurance that there’s no risk associated with this.”

That’s an honest assessment from an honorable public servant. Unfortunately, much of the expert commentary of late is not. Consider, for instance, why many terrorism experts and former officials argue that the executive order won’t help protect Americans at home. Some specialists, like Jessica Stern, tell us that in fact the executive order is “likely to make us less safe.” The EO, said Paul Pillar, a former official at the CIA’s Counterterrorism Center, “is not targeted at where the threat is, and the anti-Islam message that it sends is more likely to make America less safe.” How does it make America less safe? Former CIA analyst Nada Bakos explains that, “All it does is help [Islamic State] recruiting.” Yes, agrees ex-FBI agent Ali Soufan, “ISIS members and ISIS leaders, at least in their propaganda, have been calling President Trump and his ban and his recent policies a godsend.”

That those experts and former officials opposed to the executive order contend that suspending visas to Syrian refugees indefinitely and temporarily suspending issuing visas to nationals from seven states will turn some Muslims into terrorists seems to me counterproductive reasoning, to say the least. There are only two logical conclusions to be drawn from this argument—either the United States should impose a permanent and total ban of Muslims until the region stops producing quantities of young men who will kill others if they don’t get their way; or ISIS is entitled to a say in drafting America’s national security and policies.

Both are absurd, and the latter is suicidal. For instance, Hezbollah and Hamas both have narratives, too, with Israel at the center of their paranoid and gruesome worldviews. Should the United States stiff-arm Israel so as not to play into the Hezbollah and Hamas narrative? What happens in the aftermath of a terror attack on America? Should we then tailor our policies to suit the demands of terrorists lest they strike again? How about if ISIS won’t stop killing Americans until America admits numbers of refugees that are acceptable to ISIS?

You don’t get it, say the experts. We’re not trying to appease terrorists; we’re making war on them and Trump’s executive order is making it harder for us to work with regional partners, like the Iraqis. Fine, let the Iraqis throw out American troops. If the central government in Baghdad thinks it can tackle ISIS on its own, without American arms, training, special operations and air support, then we should pack up and go home. But they can’t, which is why it would be self-defeating to stop working with the United States.

The United States is campaigning against ISIS in order to assist states either incapable of doing it themselves, or unwilling to. Further, it keeps the organization on the defensive in the region so that it doesn’t wage attacks here at home. So, let’s suppose that Trump has every intention of keeping his promise to wage a massive campaign against ISIS. In response, ISIS will do everything it can to stop that operation, and take revenge, by attacking targets in the American homeland. Will ISIS try to sneak its operatives into the refugee stream? Have they done so already? The answer to both questions, based on the group’s behavior in Europe, is very likely. A Bataclan-like assault will be the least of it. Trump would be criminally irresponsible if he didn’t do everything in his power to reduce the chances of that effort being successful.

Barack Obama fought ISIS, albeit half-heartedly, for similar reasons. The fact that ISIS has turned a large swath of the Syrian desert into a caliphate is a tragedy for many Syrians and Iraqis, but has little bearing on American interests. However, he understood that a major ISIS attack on the United States would prove catastrophic for a presidency. Al Qaeda’s September 11, 2001 attacks consumed George W. Bush’s two terms in office, during which he waged two inconclusive wars in the Middle East. Obama didn’t want the same, and to cover as many bases as possible, he also kept out Syrian refugees, until 2016 when they were just about to become someone else’s problem.

It can hardly come as a surprise that Trump also wants to avoid a major terrorist attack on his watch, which happens to fit neatly with the description of the job the American public hired him for—to keep Americans safe. Thus the White House has reason to believe it can draft policies intended to protect the welfare of American citizens. Trump was elected to the presidency, and the courts were not. The idea that politically appointed judges are licensed and qualified to make decisions that have both national security and political implications is preposterous, without precedent in American law and practice, and dangerous.

Americans are entitled to an honest debate about immigration, the executive order, Syrian refugees, and how we might best balance our national security interests with humanitarian concern for the welfare of others as well as our wish to make our society better and stronger by welcoming those from around the world who share our most fundamental convictions as Americans. Would, for instance, those Syrian immigrants in flight from a mass murderer, and driven by industry, love of family, and love of their new country, make America a finer country? Do those Somali families whose sons go to Africa to wage war on behalf of an al Qaeda affiliate before returning to the Midwest make us a better nation?

We’re owed that debate. We voted for that much at least. The courts have no legal right, no prerogative to take it from us.

[By Lee Smith, writing for THE WEEKLY STANDARD]

 

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As always, posted for your edification and enlightenment by

NORM ‘n’ AL, Minneapolis
normal@usa1usa.com
612.239.0970

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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