Palestine Rejects Israel’s Decision to Expand Gun Permits Eligibility

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

Middle East

Palestine Rejects Israel’s Decision to Expand Gun Permits Eligibility

Ramallah– Israeli Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan decided to expand gun permit eligibility in the occupied territories, creating additional concern among Palestinian officials amid fears of rising executions of Palestinians.

Erdan has claimed the decision is necessary for the security forces to be able to respond immediately to terrorist operations. The new gun license eligibility extends to include all former Israeli soldiers entitling them to carry a firearm.

Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates condemned the decision to expand gun permits, saying such a step represents a serious escalation by Israeli occupation forces regarding field executions policy which enables Israeli elements to shoot Palestinian people based on weak allegations.

The statement added that the decision reflects extremism, racism and hatred of Israeli society and its political and security leadership. It is the result of the wide incitement campaign carried out by the extremist right wing ruling party.

Israel Hayom newspaper said Erdan intends to confront attacks carried out by Palestinians since October 2015, when al-Quds Intifada was first launched.

The newspaper explained that the minister also wanted security forces to quickly respond in the event of a terror attack.

“I decided to switch to a balancing policy. It’s a matter of public interest: When a trained and armed individual is at the scene of a terror attack, we can see the difference. This saves human lives,” Erdan declared.

Over the past two years, a rising number of Israelis have rushed to official institutions to issue gun permits.

The Palestinian ministry held the Israeli government led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu fully responsible for the decision and its disastrous consequences.

It called on human rights organizations to consider such a dangerous decision and to take serious action to uncover and denounce this policy which leads to deadly acts against the Palestinian people.

The statement condemned the silence of the international community and UN organizations regarding the occupation’s crimes, adding it represents a cover for more Israeli escalatory acts, enabling the occupation authorities to violate international human rights laws.

Netanyahu says Israel will not tolerate Iranians on northern border

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

In New York, Netanyahu says Israel will not tolerate Iranians on northern border

Prime minister indicates main message of upcoming UN speech will focus on Tehran’s efforts to establish base in Syria

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gestures during a presser with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto (out of frame), at the Los Pinos Residence in Mexico City, on September 14, 2017. (AFP/ Alfredo ESTRELLA)

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gestures during a presser with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto (out of frame), at the Los Pinos Residence in Mexico City, on September 14, 2017. (AFP/ Alfredo ESTRELLA)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the main message of his upcoming speech at the United Nations for the annual gathering of world leaders at the 72nd session of the General Assembly would be that Israel would not tolerate an Iranian presence on its northern border with Syria, now in its seventh year of a brutal civil war.

Speaking to reporters from his hotel in New York on Friday, after wrapping up a historic trip to Latin America, Netanyahu said that the central message will be that “Israel will not tolerate an Iranian military presence on our northern borders. An [Iranian] military presence endangers not just us, but also our Arab neighbors.”

He added that Israel was “obligated to act against this.” These days, he added — in an apparent reference to previous Israeli military intervention in Syria and Lebanon — “Israel, and what it says, is taken seriously. That’s how it should be.”

Netanyahu hosted Shabbat dinner at the hotel.

He is due to address the UN on September 19 and meet with US President Donald Trump a day earlier.

The meeting will be the two leaders’ fourth together since Trump assumed office. The two met once in February when the Israeli premier visited the White House, and twice in May when the American president traveled to the region, which included a two-day stop in Israel and the Palestinian territories.

Trump too is slated to address UNGA on September 19.

Netanyahu’s remarks on Iran came a day after a senior Israeli official denied reports that Russia rebuffed Jerusalem’s demand to ensure that Iranian forces and Iran-backed Shiite militants not be allowed to operate within 60-80 kilometers of the Syrian frontier with Israel in the Golan Heights.

The demand was initially raised by Israel in July, when negotiations were underway for a ceasefire deal in southern Syria between President Bashar Assad and Syrian rebels, under the auspices of Washington and Moscow.

Last month, Netanyahu met Russian President Vladimir Putin in the Black Sea resort of Sochi to discuss the entrenchment of Iran and Iranian-backed forces in Syria, and to present Israel’s position.

“Israel is satisfied with the talks in Sochi,” the official said Thursday, insisting on anonymity.

According to reports Thursday on Israel’s Channel 2 television and the Haaretz newspaper, Russia rejected Netanyahu’s plea. Instead, the reports claimed, Moscow committed only to keeping Iranian forces five kilometers from the Golan Heights frontier.

Israel had wanted a buffer zone of between 60 and 80 kilometers from the border on the Golan Heights, and has been repeatedly warning against Iran’s military ambitions in the area, Tehran’s bid to establish a territorial “corridor” all the way to the Mediterranean, and an increased Iranian presence on Israel’s northern border, according to the reports.

Netanyahu opposed the ceasefire deal, putting him publicly at odds with US President Donald Trump, since it did not sufficiently address Israel’s security needs.

Israeli intelligence expects the Iranians to try to establish a military and intelligence presence closer to the border to allow for the opening of a second front against Israel in the event of another conflagration between the Jewish state and the Iranian-backed Hezbollah terror organization in Lebanon, Haaretz said.

It said Iran plows around $800 million per year into Hezbollah and additional hundreds of millions into the Assad regime in Syria, Shi’ite militias fighting in Syria and Iraq, and Shi’ite Houthi insurgents in Yemen. (It also supports the Hamas and Islamic Jihad terror organizations in the Gaza Strip to the tune of $70 million annually.)

Israel sees attempts by Iran, Syria and Hezbollah to improve the latter’s missile accuracy as a major threat.

A week ago, Israeli warplanes allegedly struck the Syrian military’s Scientific Studies and Research Center (CERS) facility near Masyaf, in the northwestern Hama province, damaging several buildings and killing two Syrian soldiers.

Western officials have long associated the CERS facility with the production of precision missiles, as well as chemical weapons.

Satellite image of a CERS facility near Masyaf reportedly hit by an Israeli airstrike overnight Wednesday, September 7, 2017 (screen capture: Google Earth)

Over the past five years, Israel has carried out dozens of airstrikes within Syria, hitting convoys of weapons bound for Hezbollah, as well as weapons storage facilities.

It rarely acknowledges specific attacks. Last week’s operation was reported by foreign media.

On his trip to Latin America, Netanyahu has stressed the dangers posed by Iran through its quest for nuclear weapons, its involvement in conflicts across the region, and support for terrorism.

The Iranians “have a terror machine that encompasses the entire world, operating terror cells in many continents,” he said in Argentina on Tuesday. “In the case of Iran, it’s not only merely terror but the quest for nuclear weapons that concerns us and should concern the entire international community. We understand the danger of a rogue nation having atomic bombs.”

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Some dismay as Trump holds very brief call with Jewish leaders, takes no queries

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL) (Trump without a doubt is the ‘Fraud In Chief’)(trs)

 

Some dismay as Trump holds very brief call with Jewish leaders, takes no queries

Previous such calls featured discussion, tended to last 45 minutes or more; this one-way conversation went on for roughly eight

Photograph released by the White House of President Donald Trump on a call to US Jewish leaders for the New Year, September 15, 2017 (White House)

Photograph released by the White House of President Donald Trump on a call to US Jewish leaders for the New Year, September 15, 2017 (White House)

WASHINGTON (JTA) — The debate has gone on for weeks among rabbis and Jewish leaders: If President Donald Trump does not formally renounce white supremacists, is it still worth engaging in a conversation with him?

This was on much of the Jewish community’s mind since Aug. 23, when the leaders of three religious streams — Reconstructionist, Reform and Conservative — said they would not organize the annual pre-Rosh Hashanah call with the president, which the rabbinical groups had instituted at the start of the Obama administration. That call, principally for clergy, was aimed at helping to shape High Holidays.

But earlier this week, the White House said it would hold a call with Jewish leaders — one that would be in line with the calls and meetings that Jewish leaders have had with the sitting president since the Eisenhower era. It would be initiated by the White House, not the rabbis, and both lay and religious leaders would be invited.

On Friday, Trump delivered his holiday greetings in a conference call with Jewish leaders that barely lasted eight minutes. He took no questions. By contrast, calls and meetings with past presidents have included exchanges — sometimes tough — and generally lasted at least 45 minutes.

Some of the participants expressed disappointment after having done public battle with the Reform, Reconstructionist and Conservative movements over whether one should engage Trump in conversation in the wake of his equivocations over white supremacists.

“Everyone would look less stupid if he had just put it on YouTube,” one said, encapsulating the one-way direction of the “conversation.”

Not invited to join Friday’s call were the Reform and Reconstructionist movements. The Conservative movement did receive an invitation but Rabbi Julie Schonfeld, the CEO of its Rabbinical Assembly, declined to participate.

All the participants who spoke to JTA asked not to be identified because the call was off the record, although the White House released a transcript Friday afternoon.

Rabbi Avi Shafran, the director of public affairs for Agudath Israel, an ultra-Orthodox group, had argued in a Forward op-ed Thursday that the rabbis who had opted out of the call with the president were missing an opportunity to raise the painful issue of the white supremacists and neo-Nazis who marched last month in Charlottesville, which culminated in an attack by an alleged white supremacist that killed one counterprotester and wounded at least 20 others.

Hundreds of white nationalists, neo-Nazis and members of the ‘alt-right’ march down East Market Street toward Emancipation Park during the Unite the Right rally August 12, 2017 in Charlottesville, Virginia. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

“There is a difference between respectfully asking a president to clarify that he does not equate proponents of white supremacism with protesters against the same and, however one might feel about him, publicly and starkly insulting our nation’s duly elected national leader,” he said.

In the end, there were no surprises. Trump covered the standard range of issues in these calls and did not depart from the script.

Anti-Semitism and bias: “We forcefully condemn those who seek to incite anti-Semitism, or to spread any form of slander and hate — and I will ensure we protect Jewish communities, and all communities, that face threats to their safety,” he said.

Israel: “The United States will always support Israel not only because of the vital security partnership between our two nations, but because of the shared values between our two peoples,” he said.

Trump noted that his ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, was making a priority of keeping international bodies from singling out Israel for criticism.

“I can tell you on a personal basis, and I just left Israel recently, I love Israel,” he said.

Peace: “This next New Year also offers a new opportunity to seek peace between the Israelis and Palestinians, and I am very hopeful that we will see significant progress before the end of the year,” the president said. “Ambassador David Friedman, Jared [Kushner], Jason [Greenblatt], and the rest of my team are working very hard to achieve a peace agreement. I think it’s something that actually could happen.” Friedman is the ambassador to Israel, Kushner is his son-in-law and a top adviser, and Greenblatt is his top international negotiator.

Kushner, an observant Jew, opened the call by introducing the president, saying his father-in-law “takes great pride in having a Jewish daughter and Jewish grandchildren.” Ivanka Trump, Jared’s wife, is also a top adviser to her father. Trump closed the call by saying he and his wife, Melania, are wishing all “a sweet, healthy and peaceful new year.”

The controversy surrounding the call began last month, when the Reform, Reconstructionist and Conservative movements cast their decision to cancel the call — an outcome of Trump’s equivocation after the Charlottesville violence, when he said “many sides” were to blame for the violence, and that there were “very fine people” among both the white supremacists and the counterprotesters.

US President Donald Trump speaks about the ongoing situation in Charlottesville, Virginia, at Trump National Golf Club, Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017, in Bedminster, New Jersey. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

“The president’s words have given succor to those who advocate anti-Semitism, racism, and xenophobia,” the joint statement said.

On Thursday, Trump again insisted that there was blame on both sides.

Those who participated in the call said that even absent a question-and-answer period, it was still better to be on the call than not.

“These are rabbis whose foremost cause should be the Jewish people and Israel,” said Morton Klein, the president of the Zionist Organization of America.

Klein, who was on the call, noted that he participated in similar calls and meetings with Obama, even though he rarely agreed with him.

“Why stupidly insult the president, who we need for those issues?” he asked.

Rabbi Jonah Dov Pesner, director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, said in an email to JTA that because he was not on the call, he had no comment on what was said.

But, he wrote, “We stand by our decision to not host a High Holy Days call with the President this year. We are disappointed that the President continues to draw a false equivalency between white supremacists and counter-demonstrators in Charlottesville.”

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Israeli Jets Reportedly Launch Strikes On Syrian Military Facility

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

Israeli jets reportedly launch strikes on Syrian military facility

Syria: Israeli jets strike Syrian facility

(CNN)Israeli jets fired missiles at a military facility in Syria on Thursday, killing two army personnel, the Syrian army claimed.

The strikes caused material damage near Masyaf in the northwestern part of Syria near the Lebanese border, according to the Syrian army, which told state media that the missiles were fired from Lebanese airspace at 2:42 a.m. local time.
The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) refused to comment.
The London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) describes the site as a scientific research facility and a short- and medium-range missile depot.
Former Israeli National Security Advisor Yaakov Amidror said the site was one of the Syrian regime’s centers of military research and development, which had produced missiles and, in the past, chemical weapons.
The strike marks a new level of alleged Israeli involvement in Syria since the civil war began six years ago, according to Amidror, who served as National Security Advisor between 2011 and 2013.
“It is the first time the target … is a formal Syrian facility; not just a warehouse, but a center of research and development and [production],” he said.
In its report, Syria’s state-run SANA news agency quotes Syria’s military accusing Israel of propping up ISIS’s “morale,” and linking the reported strike with recent military wins over the terror group in the strategic Syrian town of Deir Ezzor.
“This aggression comes in a desperate attempt to raise the collapsed morale of the ISIS terrorists after the sweeping victories achieved by the Syrian Arab Army against terrorism at more than one front, and it affirms the direct support provided by the Israeli entity to the ISIS and other terrorist organizations,” the Syrian army said in a statement to SANA.

‘Dozens’ of strikes

Syria: What Israel sees

Syria: What Israel sees02:41
Israel has consistently said it is not taking sides in Syria’s civil war.
Even so, Israel has conducted “dozens” of strikes inside Syrian borders since 2011, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu admitted last year. Additionally, Israel has treated thousands of Syrians wounded in the country’s civil war, including rebel fighters.
Israel has repeatedly said there are red lines in Syria which prompt it to act. These include preventing Hezbollah, a key ally of the Syrian regime and an Iranian proxy, from getting its hands on advanced weaponry, and preventing Iran from establishing a permanent presence in Syria.
“[This strike] is within the framework of the [red lines] policy, but it is another level of interfering,” Amidror said.
Addressing the threat posed by Iran in Syria, Israel’s Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman has said that Israel “reserves complete freedom of action [to protect] the security of Israeli citizens.”

Thousands of troops to stage mock war with Hezbollah in largest drill in years

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

DF’S GOAL IN DRILL: ‘VANQUISH’ HEZBOLLAH

Thousands of troops to stage mock war with Hezbollah in largest drill in years

Tens of thousands of soldiers as well as ships and aircraft will take part in 10-day exercise from Tuesday; army says timing unconnected to current Iran tensions

Tens of thousands of Israeli soldiers will stage a mock 10-day war against the Hezbollah terrorist group in northern Israel beginning Tuesday, marking the IDF’s largest exercise in nearly 20 years, the army announced Monday, amid tensions over growing Iranian influence in Syria and Lebanon.

The drill, known as “the Light of the Grain,” or “Or Hadagan” in Hebrew, will start at daybreak Tuesday and end on September 14, the military said. The war games will include naval ships, drones, helicopters and fighter jets taking part.

Tens of thousands of soldiers, including thousands of reservists, will take part in the exercise, which is being run by the IDF’s Northern Corps and its commander Maj. Gen. Tamir Hyman, along with the head of the Northern Command, Maj. Gen. Yoel Strick, and the head of the IDF’s General Staff Corps, Maj. Gen. Yossi Bachar, an army official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The exercise will simulate a conflict with Hezbollah that starts with a sudden, small attack and develops into full-scale war. The official said the military’s goal in the drill will be to “vanquish” the terrorist group.

Hezbollah, with its suspected arsenal of over 100,000 rockets and thousands of fighters, is seen by the IDF as its central threat. The Iran-backed terrorist group is therefore the standard by which the army measures its preparedness.

Israeli officials have raised alarms in recent months over increased Hezbollah activity in southern Lebanon, as well as plans for an Iranian missile factory to supply the terror group with more accurate rockets. They have also expressed misgivings over a ceasefire in southern Syria that they say allows Iran to establish a foothold along Israel’s northern border.

However, the military stressed the exercise was planned in advance and was not connected to Iran’s or Hezbollah’s current activities in the region.

A map showing the type of full-scale attack by the Hezbollah terrorist group that the army will simulate during its ‘Light of the Grain’ exercise, the army’s largest in 20 years, on September 4, 2017. (Israel Defense Forces)

The navy and air force will also take part in the drill, as well as the military’s cyber units, which for the first time in a large-scale exercise will simulate the “cyber arena,” both actively engaging in electronic warfare and defending its networks.

The exercise was named for Meir Dagan, a former head of the Mossad intelligence service and former commander of the Northern Corps, who died last year.

The head of the IDF Northern Command, Maj. Gen. Yoel Strick, speaks to senior officers ahead of the ‘Light of the Grain’ exercise, the army’s largest in 20 years, on September 4, 2017. (Israel Defense Forces)

They will be fighting against soldiers pretending to be Hezbollah terrorists, using “flags and enemy uniforms, fake weapons, fake explosive belts and more,” the army official said.

The costumes and props are part of a new army program known as “Red Containers,” which the officer said is a “breakthrough” for military simulation.

According to the official, this will be the “most significant” exercise in the history of the IDF Teleprocessing Corps, which is responsible for military communications, as the technological unit will “become the central headquarters” for directing the various units and branches of the military.

The IDF prepares for the ‘Light of the Grain’ exercise, the army’s largest in 20 years, on September 4, 2017. (Israel Defense Forces)

The number of reservists taking part in the drill is also “unprecedented,” the army officer said.

“The purpose of the large call-up of reservists is to prepare the reserve force for war in the northern arena and to adapt it to the changes and developing threats of recent years,” the official said.

The army also used the exercise to test a new contact system and ensure that it will work if needed in the future, the officer added.

For most units taking part in the exercise, including IDF Military Intelligence, it will be their largest in nearly 20 years, since a 1998 exercise known as “Gates of the Sky,” or “Shaare Shamayim.”

As part of the exercise, the regional divisions in the area will guard the communities in the north, carry out patrols, collect intelligence and build earthenware berms, the official said.

The IDF’s elite Yahalom combat engineering units will take part in the exercise, practicing disarming bombs, crossing waterways, uncovering hidden weapons caches and fighting in the types of tunnels that Hezbollah is believed to have dug in Lebanon.

The IDF prepares for the ‘Light of the Grain’ exercise, the army’s largest in 20 years, on September 4, 2017. (Israel Defense Forces)

The Artillery Corps and Combat Intelligence Corps will also use their respective drones in order to assist commanders on the ground, the official said.

In addition, the IDF Home Front Command will practice its “Safe Distance” plan, in which civilian populations along the Lebanese border will be evacuated farther south in order to keep them out of harm’s way, as the military believes that in a future conflict Hezbollah would try to send fighters to attack northern Israeli communities and their inhabitants.

“The decision to carry out the transfer of communities will be made at the political level, with the intention of preserving the safety of the citizens of the State of Israel,” the military official said.

The officer would not specify which communities would be evacuated during the exercise.

The IDF prepares for the ‘Light of the Grain’ exercise, the army’s largest in 20 years, on September 4, 2017. (Israel Defense Forces)

As the exercise will deal not only with offensive fighting, but also home front defense, the army will work alongside civilian emergency services, like the Israel Police, the Fire and Rescue Authority and the Magen David Adom ambulance service.

In addition to the dozens of ground forces brigades taking part, the military will also deploy aircraft and naval ships to the drill.

An Israel navy ship fires a Harpoon sea-to-sea missile at a decommissioned boat during an exercise on July 5, 2016. (Israel Defense Forces)

The navy will practice a number of scenarios that it expects will occur in war-time. Submarines, gun boats and patrol vessels will take part in the exercise, as will naval units on shore that monitor the coast for potential infiltration.

A naval officer, speaking on condition of anonymity, told The Times of Israel that the military fears Hezbollah will attempt to enter the country from the sea, using either ships, small submersibles, or scuba diving. The Iran-backed terrorist group is also believed to possess the Russian Yakhont missile, an advanced anti-ship weapon.

The air force, meanwhile, will practice bombing runs and close air support, as well as supplying troops on the ground with materiel and sending back intelligence so that ground forces can “maneuver on the front and behind enemy lines,” the army official said.

This will be the first large-scale exercise since the air force’s Hermes 900 unmanned aerial vehicle was declared operational last week.

A test of the David’s Sling missile defense system (Defense Ministry)

In addition, the air force’s Aerial Defense Command will have its mettle tested, as the military expects thousands of rockets, missiles and mortars to rain down on Israel in a future conflict with Hezbollah. During the drill, the air force will operate its Iron Dome, Patriot, Arrow and David’s Sling systems, the official said.

Approximately 40 senior officers will monitor the exercise in order to assess the army’s capabilities, the officer said.

It took the military more than six months to prepare the “Light of the Grain” drill and the plans for it were personally approved by IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot.

The 10-day exercise will in many ways serve as an answer to the difficulties faced by the military during the 2006 Second Lebanon War. The campaign saw intelligence failures and a breakdown in communication between different branches of the military. As such, information gathering and intra-army cooperation are two central aspects of “the Light of Grain.”

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Netanyahu rips UN, says Iran turning Lebanon, Syria into war fronts against Israel

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

Greeting Guterres, Netanyahu rips UN, says Iran turning Lebanon, Syria into war fronts against Israel

With secretary general by his side, PM accuses United Nations of bias against Israel and of allowing Iran to build missile sites and Hezbollah to smuggle arms

 August 28, 2017, 4:08 pm 13

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) welcoming UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres to the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem, August 28, 2017.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) welcoming UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres to the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem, August 28, 2017. (GPO)

AP — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu greeted visiting UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Monday with blistering criticism of the international body’s treatment of Israel and accused it of failing to prevent arms from being smuggled to Lebanon’s Shiite Hezbollah terror group.

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Netanyahu also claimed that Iran is building sites in Syria and Lebanon for the manufacture of “precision-guided missiles,” with the aim of deploying them against Israel.

Both Hezbollah fighters and Iran have backed President Bashar Assad’s government forces in the civil war that has ravaged Syria.

“Iran is busy turning Syria into a base of military entrenchment, and it wants to use Syria and Lebanon as warfronts against its declared goal to eradicate Israel,” Netanyahu said. “This is something Israel cannot accept. This is something the UN should not accept.”

The Israeli leader offered no specifics to support his allegations.

Guterres arrived on Sunday for a three-day visit to the region, his first since taking office at the beginning of the year. His meetings with Israeli and Palestinian leaders are aimed at encouraging the resumption of peace talks.

Speaking at a joint press conference with the UN chief, Netanyahu criticized the United Nations, saying that it fails to check Palestinian hate speech, “absurdly denies” Jewish connections to Jerusalem and has not stopped arms from reaching Hezbollah in Lebanon.

He was referring to a recent UN cultural agency resolution about Jerusalem that angered Israel, which said it diminishes Jewish ties to the city. Israel also criticized the UN peacekeeping force in Lebanon, or UNIFIL, for being, according to Israel, soft on Iranian-backed Hezbollah forces in the border area.

Guterres vowed that he will “do everything in my capacity” to ensure UNIFIL fulfills its obligations. The UN peacekeeping force’s mandate is up for renewal at the end of the month and Israel is pressing for the force to have an increased presence to better monitor and prevent what Israel says is Hezbollah building up its weapons.

“I understand the security concerns of Israel and I repeat that the idea or the intention or the will to destroy the state of Israel is something totally unacceptable from my perspective,” the UN chief said.

Earlier, President Reuven Rivlin called on Guterres to curb what he described as “the discrimination against Israel” in some UN institutions.

President Reuven RIvlin (R) with UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres at the President's Residence in Jerusalem, August 28, 2017. (Mark Neiman/GPO)

President Reuven RIvlin (R) with UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem, August 28, 2017. (Mark Neiman/GPO)

Guterres, in turn, stressed his commitment to impartiality in “treating all states equally.” He said those who call for Israel’s destruction peddle in a “form of modern anti-Semitism” — though he also said he doesn’t always agree with the country’s policies.

During a visit to the Holocaust memorial before meeting Israeli leaders, he warned that anti-Semitism remains “alive and well” in today’s world and vowed to combat all forms of racism and bigotry.

“I believe that the horror of the Holocaust should be such that anti-Semitism should now be dead forever,” he said, adding how he was shocked “to listen to the chant of a group of neo-Nazis in a developed country in the world, chanting ‘blood and soil’, the slogan of the Nazis.”

Guterres will meet Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah on Tuesday in the West Bank. He is scheduled to visit Gaza on Wednesday.

UN chief in Jerusalem: Calls for Israel’s destruction Are ‘Modern Anti-Semitism’

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

UN chief in Jerusalem: Calls for Israel’s destruction are ‘modern anti-Semitism’

In meeting with President Rivlin, Antonio Guterres says international body will treat Jewish state with ‘impartiality’

 August 28, 2017, 12:33 pm 9

United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres talks to the press after his visit to the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial museum in Jerusalem on August 28, 2017. (AFP Photo/Menahem Kahana)

United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres talks to the press after his visit to the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial museum in Jerusalem on August 28, 2017. (AFP Photo/Menahem Kahana)

United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres said Monday that calling for Israel’s destruction is a “form of modern anti-Semitism” and said he would treat Israel with “impartiality” amid vocal complaints by Israeli officials that the world body is biased against the Jewish state.

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“I do believe that in particular when you mention those who call for the destruction of the State of Israel that that is a form of modern anti-Semitism,” Guterres told President Reuven Rivlin at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem.

“But you also understand that I sometimes disagree with positions of the Government of Israel or any other government, and that is absolutely normal in a society where many of your citizens have exactly the same expressions of opinions,” he added.

“We will always be very frank in the dialogue with the State of Israel in trying to find ways for peace to be possible in this region, but we will always be very committed to make sure anti-Semitism doesn’t prevail and that equality in the treatment of all states is fully respected.”

United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres (C) and Israeli Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon (R) visit the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial Museum on August 28, 2017. (AFP Photo/Menahem Kahana)

United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres (C) and Israeli Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon (R) visit the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial Museum on August 28, 2017. (AFP Photo/Menahem Kahana)

Guterres, who was greeted upon his arrival Sunday with complaints from Israeli officials of the UN’s “anti-Israel bias,” said under his leadership the international body will treat Israel with “impartiality,” as he said it does with every country.

“I want to express to you, Mr. President, that you can be fully confident that in my role as Secretary General, and in relation to the functions of the secretariat that I am supposed to meet, I am very keen in stressing the values of the Charter, and the very important value of the Charter, impartiality,” he told Rivlin.

“And impartiality means treating all states equally, and I am totally committed to that in my action and in everything I can do for the organization I lead.”

The secretary general also mentioned his trip to the Yad Vashem Memorial Holocaust museum earlier Monday and mentioned his home country Portugal’s own history of anti-Semitism in the 16th century.

“Yad Vashem is there to remind us that we need to be in the first line in fighting against antisemitism, but first of all fighting against all other forms of bigotry, be it racism, xenophobia, even anti-Muslim hatred, to promote understanding and to promote dialogue,” he said.

In his remarks at Yad Vashem, Guterres said he was “shocked” by the anti-Semitic and Nazi chants at the violent white supremacist rally earlier this month in Charlottesville, Virginia, and also warned that anti-Semitism is “alive and well.”

“I was shocked a few [days] ago to listen to the chant of a group of neo Nazis in developed country in the world chanting ‘blood and soil’ – [a] slogan of the Nazis. That is a dramatic demonstration that it is our duty to do everything possible and as Secretary General of the United Nations I fully assume that commitment to do everything possible to fight anti-Semitism in all its expressions,” he said.

“As I said I’m truly committed to fight anti-Semitism, as to fight racism, xenophobia, anti-Muslim hatred and all other forms of bigotry that unfortunately we are not yet able to make our world free of.”

In his remarks, Rivlin called on Guterres “to work to end the discrimination against Israel” at the UN, while also thanking him for “brave leadership” on the issue.

“This targeting of Israel, this singling out of the world’s only Jewish state, and even actions and statements that threaten to destroy Israel are unacceptable, and should come at a price. No member state in the UN should be allowed to behave like that,” the president said.

“We appreciate your brave leadership regarding the discrimination against Israel. We hope that working together, we can create a more productive partnership between Israel and the UN, for the sake of our region, and for the sake of all humanity.”

President Reuven Rivlin (R) and UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres speak to the press prior to their meeting at the President's Residence in Jerusalem on August 28, 2017. (AFP Photo/Gali Tibbon)

President Reuven Rivlin (R) and UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres speak to the press prior to their meeting at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem on August 28, 2017. (AFP Photo/Gali Tibbon)

Guterres arrived in Israel Sunday evening for a three-day visit that will include meetings with senior Israeli officials in Jerusalem and Palestinian officials in the West Bank, as well as a stop in the Gaza Strip, where the UN runs a major Palestinian aid program.

Stephane Dujarric, the spokesperson for the UN chief, said that the purpose of his trip was “to engage directly with Israeli and Palestinian people and their leaders” about “finding a long overdue peaceful resolution to the conflict.”

Guterres is set to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu later Monday.

On Sunday, Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely announced that Israel will discuss two key issues with the UN head during the visit: ending “anti-Israel bias” at the 193-nation organization, and changing the mandate of its peacekeeping mission in Lebanon, known as UNIFIL.

“We are seeking a dramatic change in the way the UN treats Israel. It’s time to place the issue squarely on the table and address it head-on,” Hotovely said, threatening funding cuts for the body if changes were not implemented.

The trip came as the UN Security Council is debating renewing the mandate of UNIFIL’s peacekeepers for another year, with a vote expected on August 30.

UN envoy Nikki Haley and Israeli Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon on the Lebanese border, June 8, 2017. (David Azagury/US Embassy Tel Aviv)

UN envoy Nikki Haley and Israeli Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon on the Lebanese border, June 8, 2017. (David Azagury/US Embassy Tel Aviv)

The US ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, has blasted the commander of UNIFIL, Irish Maj. Gen. Michael Beary, accusing him of turning a blind eye to Hezbollah weapons smuggling.

Pointing to Haley’s comments, Hotovely said that “if the UN does not drastically change its behavior it will lose both support and funding” from Israel and other countries.

“It’s no longer just us threatening this,” she said. “The US position has changed. Led by Nikki Haley, they have made clear that they will not tolerate bias against us and will no longer be giving an open check.”

Guterres’s spokesman Dujarric has said in the past that the UN secretary general has “full confidence in (UNIFIL’s commander’s) work.”

Raoul Wootliff and agencies contributed to this report.

Iran Warns It Only Needs 5 Days To Have ‘The Bomb’

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran’s atomic chief warned Tuesday the Islamic Republic needs only five days to ramp up its uranium enrichment to 20 percent, a level at which the material could be used for a nuclear weapon.

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The comments by Ali Akbar Salehi to Iranian state television come as US President Donald Trump repeatedly has threatened to renegotiate or walk away from the 2015 nuclear deal.

Salehi’s warning, along with recent comments by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, show Iran is willing to push back against Trump while still acknowledging they want to keep the deal, which lifted crippling economic sanctions on the country.

“If there is a plan for a reaction and a challenge, we will definitely surprise them,” said Salehi, who also serves as one of Rouhani’s vice presidents. “If we make the determination, we are able to resume 20 percent-enrichment in at most five days.”

He added: “Definitely, we are not interested in such a thing happening. We have not achieved the deal easily to let it go easily. We are committed to the deal and we are loyal to it.”

Iran gave up the majority of its stockpile of 20-percent enriched uranium as part of the nuclear deal it struck with world powers, including Trump’s predecessor, president Barack Obama. The accord, which lifted sanctions on Iran, currently caps the Islamic Republic uranium enrichment at 5 percent.

File photo of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad visiting the uranium enrichment facility at Natanz in 2008. (photo credit: AP/Iranian President's office, File)

Former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad visiting the uranium enrichment facility at Natanz in 2008. (photo credit: AP/Iranian President’s office, File)

While Iran long has maintained its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes, uranium enriched to 20 percent and above can be used in nuclear bombs. Iran processed its stockpile of near 20 percent uranium into a lower enrichment, turned some into fuel plates to power a research reactor and shipped the rest to Russia as part of the deal.

The Obama administration and most independent experts said at the time of the deal that Iran would need at least a year after abandoning the deal to have enough nuclear material to build a bomb. Before the deal was struck, they said the timeframe for Iran to “break out” toward a bomb was a couple of months.

While the economic benefits of the deal have yet to reach the average Iranian, airlines in the country have signed deals for billions of dollars of aircraft from Airbus and Boeing. Car manufacturers and others have swept into the Iranian market as well as the country has boosted its oil sales. Abandoning the deal would put those economic gains in jeopardy.

Rouhani, a moderate cleric within Iran’s theocratically overseen government, warned last week that it could ramp up its nuclear program and quickly achieve a more advanced level if the US continues “threats and sanctions” against his country.

Rouhani’s comments were sparked by Trump signing a sanctions bill imposing mandatory penalties on people involved in Iran’s ballistic missile program and anyone who does business with them. The US legislation also applies terrorism sanctions to Iran’s Revolutionary Guard and enforces an existing arms embargo.

Palestinian Propaganda Is Infiltrating US Public Schools

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE ALGEMEINER NEWS ORG.)

 

AUGUST 7, 2017 10:24 AM

Palestinian Propaganda Is Infiltrating US Public Schools

avatarby Miriam F. Elman

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. Photo: Screenshot.

Six years ago, a teenager in Newton, Massachusetts — Shiri Pagliuso — asked her father if it was true that Israel tortures and murders women activists in the Palestinian resistance movement.

Then a high school freshman, Shiri had learned the information from her textbook — the Arab World Studies Notebook, a 540-page volume so riddled with unabashed bias that it had garnered a scathing 30-page report from the American Jewish Committee (AJC).

Back in 2011, Shiri’s father — Tony Pagliuso — wasn’t yet aware of the AJC’s report. But he knew outright propaganda when he saw it.

He contacted his daughter’s teacher, the head of the high school’s history department, the principal, and eventually the superintendents — who all defended the Arab World Studies Notebook as essential for sharpening critical thinking skills. They also praised the book for providing a “balanced perspective” and an “Arab point of view.”

AUGUST 14, 2017 2:04 PM
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Pagliuso realized that he was being stonewalled, which got him thinking: If he looked at Shiri’s other course materials, what other dreadful stuff would he find?

Determined to expose the extent of the problem, a bitter multi-year battle ensued that pitted Pagliuso — who was soon joined by a group of other parents and Newton residents — against a shockingly hostile school district.

Together, the parents and residents fought to get school officials to acknowledge their legitimate concerns, provide access to all the curriculum materials as required by law, and to pull the Arab World Studies Notebook and other academically unsuitable materials.

Now, in a new study by CAMERA (the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America), researcher Steven Stotsky carefully traces how these partisan materials — many with scant scholarly value — seeped into a nationally prominent public school system.

The 108 page monograph, Indoctrinating Our Youth: How a U.S. Public School Curriculum Skews the Arab-Israeli Conflict and Islam, is the most comprehensive analysis to date of the Newton curriculum controversy.

Piecing together local media coverage, transcripts of school committee meetings and multiple interviews, Stotsky recounts the key events, including the run-around that Pagliuso and the ad-hoc group of concerned parents and residents got from school administrators.

Several chapters are also devoted to a thorough analysis of World History course materials, which the school district was ultimately forced to disclose in 2014 via a court order.

As Stotsky describes, the curriculum included materials rife with erroneous information, such as a radically doctored translation of the Hamas charter, and a handout identifying Tel Aviv as the capital of Israel — and Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine.

Photocopies of PLO-produced propaganda maps downloaded from the Internet — and used by the school district — provided falsehoods about Israel’s “theft” of “Palestinian land.” Other textbook chapters and outdated Internet timelines omitted key historical and contextual information, like Israel’s many far-reaching offers of peace, and the hate-filled rhetoric and incitement that saturates Palestinian discourse.

And a lot of the materials glossed over controversial topics.

Stotsky’s report demonstrates how the religious components of the Israeli-Arab conflict were concealed from students, including the fact that for many Arabs, the conflict is a holy war — with Jews seen as infidel interlopers on sacred Islamic lands.

Course materials about Islamic history also downplayed negative societal practices. Woefully simplistic expositions and misleadingly rosy texts portrayed Muslim conquerors as tolerant toward their subjects, and presented embellished descriptions of the status of women in many Muslim-majority societies. The inferior status and often precarious situation of non-Muslims under Islamic rule wasn’t presented at all.

Stotsky relates how one textbook (Early Islam) even preposterously asserted that Muslim rulers were “especially liberal with the Jews and Christians” — as if they had equal rights and opportunities, and were free from discrimination.

In short, Indoctrinating Our Youth is a deep-dive into what went so very wrong in Newton, and Stotsky is right to come down hard on headstrong school administrators and an uncooperative elected school body.

These individuals created a bewildering degree of obstruction that exacerbated the controversy and made a timely removal of the problematic materials difficult. There’s some indication that local Jewish organizations –including the JCRC and, at least initially, the local chapter of the Anti-Defamation League — were also less than helpful to the parents than they might otherwise have been.

Still, the teachers shouldn’t be let off the hook.

After all, they chose the curricula materials in the first place, and were inexcusably dismissive of the parents. (In an interview, Pagliuso admits that had Shiri’s 9th grade history teacher been more responsive to his concerns about the Arab World Studies Notebook passage, he probably wouldn’t have pursued the curriculum issue any further).

School officials repeatedly intoned that “we trust our teachers.” Yet they were unable to properly evaluate the noticeable biases contained in the course materials, especially those downloaded from sketchy, non-authoritative Internet sources and provided to them free of charge by virulently anti-Israel, BDS-affiliated faculty members at Harvard University’s Middle East Outreach Center.

This brings me to the CAMERA monograph’s most sobering insight about how anti-Israel and pro-Islamist propaganda is working its way out of higher education, and into US public schools.

The process often starts with federally-funded university centers for Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies, many of which have also been generously supported for years by multi-million dollar gifts from Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Arab states, and are top-heavy with faculty at the forefront of the anti-Israel movement, and who favor anti-Western perspectives.

In Newton, as Stotsky documents, Harvard’s center had an outsized influence on high school educators. But these gown-to-town collaborations are well-established in other places, and in some cases, they’re likely having a similar disastrous impact on the public school curriculum.

How many people are aware that pushing vehemently anti-Israel and pro-Islamist materials into K-12 educational programming is now the BDS movement’s new frontier? It’s hard to say, but most Jewish American organizations have yet to take up the issue as a matter of major concern.

Indoctrinating Our Youth is a warning that this problem can no longer be ignored. What happened in Newton was especially appalling, but it’s really just another instance of a trend that’s already well underway in public schools, where students are increasingly “learning” from textbooks and supplemental readings that are horribly slanted against Israel, and in some instances, even by classroom lectures and lesson plans that traffic in blatant antisemitic tropes.

For years high schoolers in Newton, Massachusetts, were taught a tale of Jewish-inflicted misery. But then they got lucky. A discerning classmate flagged a troubling reading assignment, and her stalwart dad was willing to raise hell. Will the rest of America’s school kids be as fortunate?

Note: an earlier, separate version of this article was featured in Legal Insurrection on July 23, 2017. To access it, click here.

Miriam F. Elman is an Associate Professor of Political Science and the Robert D. McClure Professor of Teaching Excellence at the Maxwell School of Citizenship & Public Affairs, Syracuse University. Follow her on Twitter @MiriamElman.  

“Russia Has Never Denied Israels Rights To Jerusalem, The Temple Mount Or The Western Wall”

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE JERUSALEM POST)    (THIS IS A RE-POST FROM 11-06-2016 HAS ANYTHING REALLY CHANGED)

Moscow has never denied Israel’s rights to Jerusalem, the Temple Mount or the Western Wall, Russian Prime Minister Dimitry Medvedev said in advance of his visit to the Jewish state later this week.

“These rights are clear and it would be absurd to deny them,” he told Channel 2 anchorwoman Yonit Levy.

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He spoke warmly of Russia’s ties with Israel, despite Moscow’s votes against the Jewish state at the United Nations and its delivery of the S-300 missiles to Iran.


Benjamin Netanyahu Dimitry Medvedev. (Photo credit: RIA NOVOSTI / REUTERS)

Levy quizzed him about those controversial issues as well as his support for Syrian President Basher Assad and charges that his country had intervened in the US elections.

How does Russia explain its support of the UNESCO vote “to disregard the historic connection between the Jewish people and the Temple Mount in Jerusalem,” Levy asked Medvedev.

The issue had been blown out of proportion, he responded speaking in Russian, with a Hebrew translation by Channel 2.

There have been some ten votes by UNESCO Boards and Committees on such Jerusalem resolutions, Medvedev said.

“There is nothing new here,” he said, as he dismissed the significance of UNESCO texts that refer to the Temple Mount solely by its Muslim name of Al Haram Al Sharif.

“Our country has never denied the rights of Israel or the Jewish people to Jerusalem, the Temple Mount or the Western Wall,” Medvedev said.

“Therefore there is no need to politicize this decision,” Medvedev said, adding that such resolutions, were “not directed against Israel.”

Similarly, he said, there was nothing contradictory in Russia’s sale and shipment of the advanced S-300 advanced surface to air missile defense system to Iran.

Israel had opposed such sales because they significantly upgrade Iran’s ability to defend its nuclear sites against any attacks. It is particularly concerned because it does not believe that the Iran deal, put in place in 2015, will limit Tehran’s capacity to develop nuclear weapons.

Medvedev told Channel 2 that prior to the Iran deal, Russia respected the sanctions against Tehran and refrained from delivering the S-300. Now that the deal is in place and the sanctions were lifted, there was no reason not to complete the sale, he said.

Moving over to Syria, he referred to President Bashar Assad as the country’s only legitimate leader and added that Israel’s leadership preferred his rule to the prospect of a divided country under terrorist leadership.

“I know him (Assad) personally. There are those who love him and those who don’t. At present Assad is the only legitimate authority operating in Syria. Any regime change would have to occur legitimately,” Medvedev said.

“I remember that during my meetings with Israeli leaders, they told me they were not completely for Assad, but that there has to be someone in charge of the situation, rather than an uncontrolled break up of the country into enclaves ruled by terrorists,” Medvedev said.

Middle East terrorism, he said, is threatening his country from within.

“There are thousands of Russians fighting on behalf of ISIS and other Islamic Jihadist groups,” Medvedev said. “When they return they are experienced murders and terrorists. After their time fighting in Syria we don’t want them to organize something similar [within Russia],” he said.

Levy asked how the presence of the Russian air force in Syria impacted Israel’s ability to prevent the flow of weapons to Hezbollah.

Medvedev said that it was operating from the assumption that “all sides would not take steps to aggravate the conflict.”

With regard to the United States, he charged that it had not kept its commitments in Syria and that the relationship between Washington and Moscow was at a very low point.

Medvedev chuckled when Levy asked him if Russia had interfered with the US elections.

He quoted Russian President Vladimir Putin, when he stated that “the United States is not a banana republic.”

The US, he said, was a large and strong country and could not be influenced in that way. “It doesn’t matter who will be elected, but what policy they will execute,” he said.

“Its clear [that either candidate] will act in the best national interest of the US,” Medvedev said.

He called Republican candidate Donald Trump brilliant and said he had never met him. Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, he said, was professional and known to him from the times he met with her when she was US Secretary of State from 2009-2012.

Russia expects to have a “normal” and “productive” relationship with whichever of the two candidates wins the White House, Medvedev said.

With regard to the Russian initiative to hold a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority Presdient Mahmoud Abbas, Medvedev said that Moscow was not looking to replace the United States or anyone else when it comes to the peace process.

On the other hand, he said, there are very discouraging signs with regard to that conflict and there have been no advancements to speak of on the Israeli-Palestinian track over the last few years.

“It’s very sad,” he said.

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