Geert Wilders Falls Short In Election, As Wary Dutch Scatter Their Votes

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE NEW YORK TIMES)

Geert Wilders, a Rising Anti-Muslim Voice

This is Geert Wilders, a far-right Dutch politician with aspirations to be the next prime minister of the Netherlands. He has compared the Quran to “Mein Kampf” and has called Moroccans “scum.”

By AINARA TIEFENTHÄLER on Publish Date March 13, 2017.  

THE HAGUE — The far-right politician Geert Wilders fell short of expectations in Dutch elections on Wednesday, gaining seats but failing to persuade a decisive portion of voters to back his extreme positions on barring Muslim immigrants and jettisoning the European Union, according to early results and exit polls.

The results were immediately cheered by pro-European politicians who hoped that they could help stall some of the momentum of the populist, anti-European Union and anti-Muslim forces Mr. Wilders has come to symbolize, and which have threatened to fracture the bloc.

Voters, who turned out in record numbers, nonetheless rewarded right and center-right parties that had co-opted parts of his hard-line message, including that of the incumbent prime minister, Mark Rutte. Some parties that challenged the establishment from the left made significant gains.

The Dutch vote was closely watched as a harbinger of potential trends in a year of important European elections, including in France in just weeks, and later in Germany and possibly Italy. Many of the Dutch parties that prevailed favor the European Union — a rare glimmer of hope at a time when populist forces have created an existential crisis for the bloc and Britain prepares for its withdrawal, or “Brexit.”

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“Today was a celebration of democracy, we saw rows of people queuing to cast their vote, all over the Netherlands — how long has it been since we’ve seen that?” Mr. Rutte said.

Alexander Pechtold, the leader of Democrats 66, which appeared to have won the most votes of any left-leaning party, struck a similar note underscoring the vote as a victory against a populist extremist.

“During this election campaign, the whole world was watching us,” Mr. Pechtold said. “They were looking at Europe to see if this continent would follow the call of the populists, but it has now become clear that call stopped here in the Netherlands.”

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Right-wing parties have been achieving electoral success in a growing number of nations.

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According to an unofficial tally compiled by the Dutch Broadcasting Foundation, the country’s public broadcaster, the People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy was likely to capture 33 of the 150 seats in Parliament — a loss of seven seats, but still far more than any other party.

Mr. Wilders’s Party for Freedom was expected to finish second, with 20 seats (an increase of eight); and the right-leaning Christian Democratic Appeal and the left-leaning Democrats 66 were tied for third, with 19 each, the broadcaster reported.

In the Netherlands, the results betrayed a lingering distrust of turning over the reins of power to the far right, even as its message dominated the campaign and was likely to influence policies in the new government.

Yet there are limits to how much the Netherlands, one of Europe’s most socially liberal countries, will be a reliable predictor for Europe’s other important elections this year, including next month’s presidential elections in France.

Mark Bovens, a political scientist at Utrecht University, noted that Mr. Wilders and other right-wing parties, despite their gains, did not drastically cross traditional thresholds.

“The nationalist parties have won seats, compared to 2012 — Wilders’s party has gained seats, as has a new party, the Forum for Democracy — but their electorate is stable, it has not grown,” Mr. Bovens said.

Mr. Bovens pointed out that an earlier populist movement led by the right-wing politician Pim Fortuyn had won 26 seats in 2002, and that Mr. Wilders’s won 24 seats in 2010. If Mr. Wilders’s party rises to 20 seats, as the early returns seemed to indicate, it will still be lower than the previous high-water marks.

“And some of the traditional parties have moved in a more nationalistic direction, taking a bit of wind out of his sails,” he said. “You see the same strategy in Germany.”

The German governing coalition led by Chancellor Angela Merkel, which is facing a stiff election challenge of its own this year, was clearly buoyed by the Dutch result, its foreign ministry sending a warmly enthusiastic message via Twitter.

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“The Netherlands, after Brexit, after the American elections, said ‘Whoa’ to the wrong kind of populism,” said Mark Rutte, the Dutch prime minister, speaking to an enthusiastic crowd. CreditCarl Court/Getty Images

“Large majority of Dutch voters have rejected anti-European populists. That’s good news. We need you for a strong #Europe!” it read.

In the Netherlands’s extremely fractured system of proportional representation — 28 parties ran and 13 are likely to have positions in the 150-seat lower house of Parliament — the results were, not atypically, something of a dog’s breakfast.

Mr. Rutte’s party lost seats, even as it came out on top, and will need to join forces with several others in order to wield power. Virtually all parties said they would not work with Mr. Wilders in a coalition — so toxic he remains — though his positions are likely to infuse parliamentary debate.

“Rutte has not seen the last of me yet!” Mr. Wilders wrote on Twitter, and indeed his anti-immigrant message, which dominated much of the campaign, was not likely to go away.

It came into particularly sharp relief on the eve of the election, when Turkey’s foreign minister sought to enter the Netherlands to rally support among Turks in Rotterdam for a referendum to increase the power of the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Dutch officials refused him landing rights.

Mr. Wilders, who has seemed to relish being called the “Dutch Donald Trump,” has been so extreme that some appear to have thought twice about supporting him.

He has called for banning the Quran because he compares it to Hitler’s work “Mein Kampf,” which the Netherlands banned, and for closing mosques and Islamic cultural centers and schools.

Election turnout was high, with polling places seeing a steady stream of voters from early morning until the polls closed at 9 p.m. Of the 12.9 million Dutch citizens eligible to cast ballots, more than 80 percent voted.

Some polling places ran out of ballots and called for additional ones to be delivered. There were so many candidates listed that the ballots were as voluminous as bath towels and had to be folded many times over to fit into the ballot box.

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Supporters of the Green Party reacted in The Hague on Wednesday.CreditRobin Van Lonkhuijsen/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The percentage of the vote that a party receives translates into the number of seats it will get in Parliament. If a party gets 10 percent of the total votes, it gets 10 percent of seats in the 150-seat Parliament, given to its first 15 candidates listed on the ballot.

The election was a success for the left-leaning Green Party, led by 30-year-old Jesse Klaver, a relative political newcomer, whose leadership at least tripled the party’s seats, making it the fifth-place finisher and potentially a part of the government.

Mr. Klaver ran specifically on an anti-populist platform and worked hard to turn out first-time voters.

“In these elections there was an overwhelming attention from the foreign press, which is understandable because Brexit happened and Trump was elected, and because France, Germany and maybe Italy will be holding elections,” Mr. Klaver said. “They asked us: Will populism break through in the Netherlands?”

The crowd shouted: “No.”

“That is the answer that we have for the whole of Europe: Populism did not break through,” Mr. Klaver said.

Another striking development was the first-time election of former Labor Party members, all three of Turkish background, who formed a new party, Denk (which means “think”). It will be the only ethnic party in the Dutch Parliament and is a reminder that Turks are the largest immigrant community in the Netherlands. There are roughly 400,000 first, second, or third-generation Turkish immigrants in the nation.

The big loser was the center-left Labor Party, which was expected to drop from being the second largest party in Parliament, with 38 seats and a position as Mr. Rutte’s coalition partner. The party was expected to win only nine seats.

In past elections the impact of extremist right-leaning parties has been largely blunted by a political system that for more than a century has resulted in governance by coalition.

This year’s election may give the Netherlands its most fragmented government in history. Some political analysts believe it could take weeks or months to form a government and that the governing coalition will be fragile.

In Belgium, which has a similar political system as the Netherlands, it famously took nearly a year and a half after inconclusive elections in June 2010 to form a government.

This Is A Great Article About Czech WW-2 History Filled With Excellent Information

 

(THIS ARTICLE IS ONE THAT I FOUND AT ‘RADIO PRAHA’ (PRAGUE)

MINES, SAND AND HEAT – CZECHS DEFENDING TOBRUK

This week the world war veteran and former Radio Prague chief editor Bedřich Utitz died. In the fight against Hitlerdeutschland was Utitz among other things in Tobruk deployed. The defense of this desert fortress in western Libya against the Afrikakorps of Erwin Rommel plays an important role in Czech historiography. There, an infantry brigade with soldiers from Czechoslovakia was deployed for the first time in World War II. In the following more about these soladts and the battle for Tobruk.

Jindřich Marek (Photo: Prokop Havel, Archives of Czech Rundfunk)spring 1941. The Italians and Germans are always trying to take Tobruk. It is the Italians themselves, who built the fortress with several defenses.Almost eight months, the Allies successfully defy the attacks. But why is this Tobruk so important in the Second World War? Jindřich Marek is a journalist and historian:

“It was important because the Germans wanted to penetrate to the Suez Canal and then to the oil in Iraq, Azerbaijan and other places. Erwin Rommel, the commander of the German and Italian armed forces in North Africa, quickly reached Suez, but the division in Tobruk was stuck in his throat. The port was important for the supply of the troops. That the Allies could defend the fortress caused him great problems. And so it became an important battlefield from a neighboring site. “

Tobruk (Photo: Public Domain) Tobruk (Photo: Public Domain)Tobruk is at this time the only deep sea port between Tripoli and Alexandria. As a colonial power, Italy built a protective belt around the city before the war. It is long, 50 km long, with shelters, trenches and machine-gun positions. In September 1940, Italy began an attack on Egypt under British protection. But the ending for the troops of Mussolini ends with a disaster. The Allies can drive the Italians far back to Libya and occupy, among others, Tobruk. Then the British army got into a dilemma at the beginning of 1941, because it wants to help the Greeks fight the Italians.

“There were two variants: either to continue the offensive in North Africa or to withdraw some of the Australian and New Zealand troops to Greece. It was then probably a mistake that the forces in North Africa were weakened. For the British had no success in Greece, and not in North Africa, “ says historian Marek.

Erwin Rommel (Photo: Bundesarchiv, Bild 101I-785-0287-08 / CC-BY-SA 3.0)It is Erwin Rommel, who makes a kind of Blitzkrieg in the desert. The German propaganda celebrates the advance, but Tobruk simply does not want to fall. As this fortress becomes more and more important, the British form volunteers from other countries. Thus also Hitler’s opponents from the German-occupied “Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia” as well as Slovakia.

From icy Russia to the desert

The Czechs and Slovaks arrive on Haifa in today’s Israel, where the unity is to come. Jan Perl, as a 16-year-old youth, fled to Poland and fought there against the Wehrmacht, but was then captured by the Red Army. At the time, there is the German-Soviet non-aggression pact. Perl is lucky that he does not come to a camp in Siberia. Instead, in 1941 he was given the opportunity to join the Czechoslovakian brigade in the Middle East. The journey takes the train to the Black Sea port of Odessa. Then by ship to Istanbul and to the south of Turkey. A few years ago, Jan Perl described his story in the Czech Republic’s domestic broadcasts:

Jan Perl (Photo: Archivpost bellum)“I remember that we waited in the port of Mersin for other Czechs and Slovaks from Russia. But I do not know how many we were ultimately when we were shipped to Haifa. There we joined the eighth British army of Marshal Montgomery and received uniforms. It was unbelievably hot, because the desert wind Chamsin drove temperatures to 50 degrees. When we started off in Russia, the thermometer showed minus 30 degrees. It was exactly May 1, 1941. A few days later, we were sent to the army of Colonel Klapálek to Alexandria in Egypt. There we were to guard a British camp with German war prisoners. “

The Czechoslovakian brigade is colorful. The core is formed by soldiers who want to fight in France. Added to this are other refugees from the Protectorate, including many Jews whose goal is Palestine. And to the end, as Jan Perl, the participants of the unsuccessful struggle in Poland, which are freed from the Soviet internment, are. Most of them need an educated military training. They get it in Alexandria. Stanislav Hnělička, who died in November, also remembered his commitment to North Africa some time ago:

Stanislav Hnělička (Photo: Barbora Němcová) Stanislav Hnělička (Photo: Barbora Němcová)“The training period was very hard. We were given every second night to guard Italian and German war prisoners. So one day so training, the second we had free. But from the evening we had to push guard. We did not get out of the camp at all. “

Parts of the Czechoslovakian Brigade are then deployed for the first time in Syria and Lebanon. In October 1941 the allies of Hitler were defeated there. And so Klapálek’s troops are shipped from Alexandria to Tobruk. Historian Jindřich Marek:

“On October 21, the bulk of the brigade was brought to Tobruk on two torpedobots.There were 634 men who went ashore at night. “

On gum ishes through the minefields

Tobruk is surrounded by four Italian divisions and a German one. The Czechs and Slovaks are grouped together with a Polish unit. In the siege situation, security is first and foremost pushed. In the night, they always fail to the enemy line. One of them is Ladislav Snídal, then 26 years old. He died already in 2001, but an interview with him is in the archive of the Rundfunks:

Czech troop at Tobruk (Photo: Public Domain) Czech troops at Tobruk (Photo: Public Domain) “Five or six soldiers were selected and specially equipped for exploring. They got shoes with rubber soles and a jute cover for the helmet. The equipment had to be lashed, so that no sound could be heard. As weapons, one had a Tommy Gun, the forerunner of the machine gun, and grenades. The commander also had a pistol. So we sneaked away. We had to go through several mining fields. And then we simply overheard the enemy to get our information. “

The German propaganda designates the defenders of Tobruk contemptuously as “Desert Rats”, that is, Wüstenratten. They turn the tables and make their mark. In contrast to the actual wizards, however, they suffer from the permanent lack of water. This is rationed to one liter per day and man:

Tobruk (Photo: Public Domain) Tobruk (Photo: Public Domain) “Many soldiers had skin diseases because they could not wash. We got scurvy because we did not have enough fresh to eat. And there were also mental illnesses. Some had problems to be separated from the family as long as they had not seen their home. And there was the burden of staying in the bunkers or on the front line, where you could enter a mine at any moment. “

For the Czechs and the Slovaks, the situation is still a burden for another reason: their states are not official war soldiers.

“It was clear to us that in the event of a defeat there would not have been a war for us. This was different for the Poles in unit. We also had fear about our relatives. We swore, therefore, that we should never be taken prisoner. We did not know how we had managed this in an emergency. But that was the decision “ , says Stanislav Hnělička.

Tobruk is finally free

Karel Klapálek (Photo: ČT24) Karel Klapálek (Photo: ČT24) But fortunately it does not happen. On November 21, 1941, it was possible to break the siege ring for the first time. A few days later, a corridor to the British troops was built in Egypt. At the beginning of December Rommel withdrew his troops, and Tobruk is free – after 230 days of siege. The 11th Czechoslovak infantry brigade is still on the ground until April 1942 and is attacked several times. But the war has not yet come to an end. The Klápalek brigade is trained for air defense and again in Tobruk in 1943.

In May of the year, Rommel’s troops surrender, and the Czechoslovakian unit is shipped to Great Britain. There, Klapálek and his people are honored with high military orders, but the brigade is dissolved. As a result, the soldiers are fighting against Hitler at different warships.

After the war they were also honored in the liberated Czechoslovakia. But when the Communists took over the power, the propaganda of the heroes quickly made alleged collaborators with the class enemy. Many of them go to jail. The full rehabilitation takes place only after the political turn of 1989.

Public Transportation Nice, Côte d’Azur French Riviera

Source: Public Transportation Nice, Côte d’Azur French Riviera    THIS ARTICLE IS FROM THE BLOG SITE OF MS. PENNEY VANDERBILT—PLEASE CHECK OUT HER SITE IF YOU LIKE TRAINS AND OR TRAVEL OR ARE A FAN OF TRANSPORTATION LOGISTICS.

Fury Rises in France Over Accusations Police Beat and Raped a Black Man

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE NEW YORK TIMES)

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The remains of a car on Tuesday after it was burned the night before by protesters in Aulnay-sous-Bois, north of Paris. CreditAlex Turnball/Associated Press

PARIS — Youths set cars and trash bins ablaze and vandalized buildings in suburbs around Paris on Wednesday, venting rage for the fourth straight day over accusations that police officers had beaten and raped a young black man they arrested last week.

The police have used tear gas several times over the four days to disperse angry crowds, and in one instance officers fired live rounds into the air as warning shots, a rare occurrence in France. Five people were convicted on Wednesday evening of “ambushing” police forces. But there have also been peaceful marches in and around Paris to protest the arrest, and the violent unrest has waned.

The unrest has not approached the scale of violence that shook France for weeks in 2005. But even so, it reflects persistent tensions between the police and residents in suburbs where people from immigrant backgrounds are often concentrated and where unemployment is high, especially among young people.

The arrest last Thursday took place in one such suburb, Aulnay-sous-Bois, which is not far from where the 2005 trouble started: Clichy-sous-Bois, where two teenagers died fleeing the police. Youths in the area complain about frequent racial profiling by the police, who in turn cite the difficulties and dangers they face working in hostile neighborhoods.

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A similar case in August, when Adama Traoré, a 24-year-old black man, died of asphyxiation in custody after fleeing a police identification check, set off days of violent clashes in another town north of Paris, Beaumont-sur-Oise.
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President François Hollande on Tuesday with the 22-year-old man whose arrest last week ignited the protests.CreditArnaud Journois/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

In a sign that the authorities were eager to defuse this week’s unrest, President François Hollande paid a hospital visit on Tuesday to the 22-year-old man whose arrest ignited the protests. In video filmed by the newspaper Le Parisien, Mr. Hollande said the young man was known by the local authorities for his “exemplary conduct.”

“The judiciary has taken up the matter; it must be trusted,” Mr. Hollande said, adding that it would “ensure that the truth is known.”

The young man and his family have urged protesters to avoid violence.

Police officers arrested him as they were checking the identification of a dozen young men they suspected of dealing drugs; there is security camera footage of part of the encounter. Speaking to the BFM TV news channel in the days that followed, the young man said that the police officers had insulted and hit him and that one of them “took his baton and shoved it into my buttocks.”

The man was hospitalized with serious injuries to his rectum and bruises on his face and skull.

The four officers, all in their 20s and 30s, were suspended and placed under formal investigation, but were not detained. All four were charged with assault, and one was charged with rape.

Advocacy groups say the authorities have been slow to prosecute police officers accused of using excessive violence. According to a report published by one group last year, 63 people were injured and 26 died from police violence in France from 2005 to 2015, but only seven officers were convicted in those cases.

France’s defender of rights, an independent ombudsman whose office monitors civil and human rights, has also opened an investigation of the episode last week.

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Demonstrators marched on Monday in the streets of Aulnay-sous-Bois. CreditMilos Krivokapic/Associated Press

The defender’s office and civil rights groups have complained for years that the police conduct ID checks without keeping records to show whether they were done for “objective and verifiable reasons.” In a recent study, the defender’s office found that the probability of being stopped by the police for an ID check was 20 times as high for young men who were “perceived as black or Arab” as it was for the general population. Advocates have called for making the police more accountable, and are angry that the Socialist government has dropped one promised measure, to have officers issue receipts when they check IDs.

Luc Poignant, a police union spokesman, said that it had become difficult for officers to work effectively in neighborhoods where they no longer have normal day-to-day interactions with residents. “When we go back there, it’s felt as an intrusion,” he said.

Still, he said, if the investigation finds that the four officers involved in the arrest last week deliberately did what they are accused of, they have no place on the police force. The officers have said that the young man’s injuries were accidental.

Bruno Beschizza, the right-wing mayor of Aulnay-sous-Bois, told France Info radio on Wednesday that it was crucial to “rebuild trust” between residents and the police, in light of what he called a “serious, intolerable, unacceptable act.” Mr. Beschizza, a former police officer and police union representative, said he would install more security cameras around his city.

The arrest last week and the unrest in the days since comes at a time when tensions have also been rising between the police and the government.

Thousands of officers protested across the country in October after two officers were seriously burned by firebombs in Viry-Châtillon, a struggling suburb south of Paris. A bill introduced after that episode to give officers more leeway to use firearms in self-defense was discussed in Parliament on Wednesday.

Police unions have repeatedly called for increased police budgets and have complained of difficult working conditions, especially when dealing with protests or with terrorist attacks.

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Israel: 100 Years Since The Balfour Declaration: British And International Decision To Restore Jewish Homeland And To Reestablish The Land To Israel

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF ‘ICEJ’ NEWS)

A CENTURY TO CELEBRATE

Marking 100 Years since Balfour

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28 Nov 2016 (All day)

In the new year of 2017, we will pass several important milestones for Christians who support Israel. For instance, it has been 500 years since the start of the Protestant Reformation in October 1517, when Christians could read the Bible in their common languages once again and rediscovered that God still had plans for the Jewish people back in their ancient homeland. Meanwhile, it has been 100 years since the Balfour Declaration of November 1917 committed Great Britain to establishing a Jewish national home in Palestine. Finally, we will mark fifty years since the city of Jerusalem was reunited under Israeli rule during the Six-Day War of June 1967.

The anniversary of Balfour is especially significant for the state of Israel and her Christian friends. The Balfour Declaration, issued on the 2nd of November 1917, is a key document in modern Israel’s legal chain of title to the land. From this decree by the British cabinet flowed a series of international decisions to restore the Jewish nation, including the San Remo Conference of 1920, the League of Nation’s mandate over Palestine in 1922, the UN Partition Plan of 1947, Israel’s own Declaration of Independence in May 1948, and Israel’s admittance into the United Nations one year later.

The Balfour Declaration was the crowning achievement of the “Restorationist” movement in Great Britain. As early as the 1700s, leading Christian figures in England had advocated for a return of the Jews to the Land of Israel according to the divine promises of Scripture. This movement featured such noted clergymen as Charles and John Wesley, Charles H. Spurgeon, and Bishop Ryle of Liverpool, as well as prominent government leaders like William Wilberforce, Lord Palmerston and Lord Shaftesbury. As a result of their preaching and activism, restorationist had already become the prevailing view even within the Anglican Church by the time the Jewish Zionist movement was launched by Theodor Herzl in 1897.

When it became clear during World War I that Britain and its allies would be able to free the Middle East from Ottoman rule, the government of David Lloyd George recognized it as a historic moment to assist the Jewish Zionists in regaining their homeland. Six of the nine members of his war cabinet, including Foreign Secretary, Arthur James Balfour, were openly professing Christian Zionists and they seized the opportunity to issue the modern equivalent of the ancient decree by King Cyrus for Jews to return and rebuild their nation. Because of this solemn commitment, which came to be known as the Balfour Declaration, Britain was granted a mandate to help create a Jewish nation in the liberated province of Palestine.

So, we have much reason to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration this year. This coming November the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem will be sponsoring events and joining with Jewish and Christian friends to commemorate Balfour, including observances in London and Jerusalem.
Yet, not everyone will be hailing the centenary of the Balfour Declaration this year. In fact, Palestinian leaders will be using their internationally funded PR machinery to assail this “criminal injustice” against their people. They are demanding that Britain apologize for Balfour and are even threatening to bring a lawsuit against the United Kingdom for all the damages caused to the Palestinians ever since. Yet such moves would be untenable and even counterproductive.

The reason is that these actions against Israel would actually undermine the claims to statehood of numerous Arab nations in the region.
Britain’s motivations behind the Balfour Declaration have always been a subject of debate. Some say it was meant to win Jewish favour during the war, or to repay Zionist leader Chaim Weizmann for his valuable contributions to the war effort. Others say it was a gesture of remorse for centuries of Christian anti-Semitism, or simply an act of British expansionism.

The truth is that Balfour was a valid and noble expression of Christian sympathy for a just cause. It also was part of a series of decisions made by the victorious powers during and after the war to create trusteeship in the Middle East and elsewhere as a way of nation-building and granting self-determination to the native people’s of liberated lands. So, Balfour actually is a pivotal marker for the closing of the age of colonialism, a self-imposed end by the Western nations themselves.

One of the architects of this mandate strategy was Jan Smuts, an avowed Christian Zionist. Until that time, the European powers would have just claimed the vacated Ottoman territories of the Middle East as part of their own empires. But Smuts and others felt it was time to let native people’s rule over their own lands and that the role of Western nations was just to assist them on the way to independence. This new approach was inspired in part by American president Woodrow Wilson and his fourteen points for spreading democracy and securing the peace in the post-war era. But, Smuts also described the mandate system as a “sacred trust” meant to free various lands and people’s from foreign rule.

Thus, Britain was granted a temporary mandate in Palestine and Iraq, while France was to oversee nation-building in Lebanon and Syria. In fact every Arab nation in the Middle East today can trace its legal claim to independence back to some of the same documents and decisions which created modern Israel. This was not a case of creating a Jewish state out of nothing. The Jews, like the Arabs, were viewed as indigenous to the region and thus entitled to reconstitute their ancient nation. So, to undermine Israel’s legal chain of title by assailing the Balfour Declaration would also call into question the claims to sovereignty of all its surrounding Arab neighbors. That is not something the Palestinians should really be pursuing.

The Balfour Declaration of 2nd of November 1917 was a letter signed by Lord Balfour which conveyed to British Jewish community leader Baron Walter Rothschild the cabinet’s decision to support the Zionist cause. It stated:

“His Majesty’s government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavors to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.”

Iran’s Violations of Arms Embargo to Be Discussed by UN Security Council

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

 

Iran’s Violations of Arms Embargo to Be Discussed by Security Council

United Nations Security Council. Reuters

New York- Few days after former Secretary-general of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon expressed his concern regarding the fact that Tehran might have violated an arms embargo by supplying weapons and missiles to Lebanese Shi’ite group so-called Hezbollah, the topic is set to be discussed by the council on January 18.

The second bi-annual report, due to be discussed by the 15-member council, also cited an accusation by France that an arms shipment seized in the northern Indian Ocean in March was from Iran and likely bound for Somalia or Yemen.

Regardless that the session was aimed at following the implementation of U.N. resolution 2231, which endorsed the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, Reuters confirmed on Monday that the report submitted every six months by U.N. chief included U.N. concern from Iran violating an arms embargo.

According to Reuters, the report was submitted to the Security Council on Dec. 30 by Ban Ki-moon before he was succeeded by Antonio Guterres on Jan. 1.

It came just weeks before U.S. President-elect Donald Trump, who has threatened to either scrap the nuclear agreement or seek a better deal, takes office.

“In a televised speech broadcast by Al Manar TV on 24 June 2016, Hassan Nasrallah, the Secretary-General of Hezbollah, stated that the budget of Hezbollah, its salaries, expenses, weapons and missiles all came from the Islamic Republic of Iran,” Ban wrote in the report.

“I am very concerned by this statement, which suggests that transfers of arms and related materiel from the Islamic Republic of Iran to Hezbollah may have been undertaken contrary to a Security Council resolution,” Ban said.

Most U.N. sanctions were lifted a year ago under a deal Iran made with Britain, France, Germany, China, Russia, the United States and the European Union to curb its nuclear program.

However, Iran is still subject to an arms embargo and other restrictions, which are not technically part of the nuclear agreement.

Meanwhile, U.N. Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Iran Asma Jahangir expressed deep concerns over the continuous detention of human rights defenders in the country, who, she said “have been tried on the basis of vaguely defined offences and heavily sentenced following trials marred with due process violations.”

Raising alarm over the health of several prisoners of conscience in Iran, who have been on a prolonged hunger strike contesting the legality of their detention, the U.N. expert on the human rights situation there urged the authorities to “immediately and unconditionally” release all those who have been arbitrarily arrested, detained and prosecuted for exercising their rights.

Two of at least eight protesting prisoners of conscience have been on hunger strike since October last year.

One of the two ended his strike last week after his wife, Golrokh Ebrahimi Iraee, a human rights defender, was granted bail.

Another protester – Mohammed Ali Taheri – started his strike on 28 September.

However, his whereabouts have been unknown since his reported transfer to Baghiatollah Military Hospital in October.

Furthermore, at least one of the protesters – Arash Sadeghi, another human rights defender – is being denied transfer to specialized medical facilities despite his critical health condition and is reportedly kept in his cell.

“I call on the Iranian authorities to ensure that Sadeghi has access, as a matter of utmost priority, to specialized health care in a hospital outside prison, in compliance with international human rights standards and medical ethics in particular the principles of informed consent,” said Jahangir.

In The Name Of God We Kill You And Your Families!—Really, In The Name Of God?

 

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF NPR NEWS)

Dozens Dead In Multiple ISIS Bombings Across Baghdad

Bystanders inspect the scene after a car bomb explosion at a crowded outdoor market in the Iraqi capital’s eastern district of Sadr City on Monday.

Karim Kadim/AP

Dozens are dead in Baghdad after bombs were detonated across the city on Monday. ISIS has claimed responsibility for the bombings.

The death toll from the attacks is still climbing.

NPR’s Alice Fordham reported on the bombings, telling our Newscast Unit:

The first attack came in Sadr City on the edge of Baghdad, still reeling from a bombing on Saturday. The bomber pretended to be recruiting casual laborers for the day, so those killed were mainly poor manual workers. The next ones came at roughly the same time near two hospitals in the city, followed by three bombs in the poor Shaab area of the city.

The BBC reported that at least 35 people were killed and at least 61 injured by the blast in Sadr City, which is a “predominantly Shia Muslim” neighborhood. The BBC wrote: “The Sunni jihadist group Islamic State said it had carried out the attack, which ‘targeted a gathering of Shia.’ ”

Reuters reported that “nine of the victims were women in a passing minibus.” The news service wrote: “Their charred bodies were visible inside the burnt-out remains of the vehicle. Blood stained the ground nearby.”

The attacks followed other bombings in the city on Saturday, which killed 28 people, according to the BBC. Reuters wrote also wrote that “an attack near the southern city of Najaf on Sunday left seven policemen dead.”

Monday’s attacks coincide with an Iraq visit by French President Francois Hollande. Hollande gave a press conference with Iraqi prime minister Haider al Abadi, vowing to defeat ISIS.

“The terrorists will attempt to attack civilians in order to make up for their losses, but we assure the Iraqi people and the world that we are able to end terrorism and shorten its life,” Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said, according to the BBC.

The ISIS bombings come as Iraqi security forces continue their offensive to push the self-proclaimed caliphate from the country. The U.S.-supported offensive was launched in mid-October, as the Two-Way reported, and has recaptured part of the city of Mosul, the terrorist group’s last major stronghold in Iraq.

According to Reuters, “Abadi has said the group will be driven out of the country by April.”

Israeli ministers approve ‘Facebook bill’ to restrict online ‘incitement’

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE PALESTINIAN NEWS PAPER MA’AN)

 

Israeli ministers approve ‘Facebook bill’ to restrict online ‘incitement’

DEC. 27, 2016 5:38 P.M. (UPDATED: DEC. 29, 2016 1:21 P.M.)

Picture of the homepage of Facebook website. (AFP Photo / Juan Mabromata)

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Israel advanced the so-called “Facebook bill” that would allow Israeli officials to force the social media giant to remove certain content through a court order if there are suspicions of “incitement.” after an Israeli ministerial committee approved the bill on Sunday.

According to the Israeli media outlet the Times of Israel, the bill, proposed by Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked — members of right-wing Israeli parties Jewish Home and Likud respectively — would “only be invoked in cases of suspected incitement, where there is a real possibility that the material in question endangers the public or national security.”
Despite Facebook complying with 95 percent of the Israeli government’s removal requests in recent months, members of Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, have consistently expressed their indignation that Facebook has not taken enough action to remove content inciting “acts of terror against Jews.”
The Times of Israel reported that Erdan said on Sunday that France, Germany, and other European countries already have adopted similar legislation. However, critics have accused the Israeli government of utilizing “terrorism” discourse in order to justify and further entrench the Israeli military’s half-century occupation of the West Bank and near decade-long siege of the Gaza Strip.
Erdan also defended the bill’s application to Palestinians living in the occupied Palestinian territory, using the Israeli term “Judea and Samaria,” and underscored his concerns that Facebook did not recognize Israeli military control over the West Bank.
“If someone writes something problematic and they live in Judea and Samaria, [Facebook] won’t cooperate with us and they say it’s outside of Israel and therefore they can’t cooperate,” the Times of Israel reported Erdan as saying.
In recent months, Israel has detained scores of Palestinians for social media activity, alleging that a wave of unrest that first swept the occupied Palestinian territory last October was encouraged largely by “incitement.” The violence has left 245 Palestinians killed by Israeli forces and settlers, as well as some 34 Israelis killed by Palestinians.
Palestinians have instead pointed chiefly to the frustration and despair brought on by Israel’s decades-long military occupation of the Palestinian territory and the absence of a political horizon as reasons for the rise of unrest.
Israel has responded to the perceived threat of social media incitement by blaming Facebook for not doing more to censor posts promoting “terrorism” against Israelis.
Following a series of deadly incidents, Erdan reportedly said that Facebook chairman and cofounder Mark Zuckerberg had “blood on his hands” for not adequately cooperating with Israel to remove content.
In July, an Israeli lawyer filed a $1 billion lawsuit against Facebook Inc., claiming that the social media platform allowed members of the Palestinian resistance movement Hamas to plan and carry out attacks against Americans and Israelis.Commenting on the suit against them, Facebook referenced its community standards, and highlighted its ‘report’ tool, which allows and encourages Facebook users to flag content that they deem as encouraging violence, direct threats, terrorism or hate speech.
Facebook also cited its track record regarding incitement, referencing a case in March when the company took down a page promoting a Palestinian uprising against Israel because it made “direct calls for violence,” in violation of company policies.
In September, Erdan and Shaked met with Facebook executives to discuss the matter, reportedly looking to having the terms “intifada,” “Nazis,” “stabbings,” “shahid” (martyr), and “death to Jews,” censored as incitement against the state of Israel.
Shaked and Erdan also allegedly included the phrase “death to Arabs” — a slogan often heard in protests and mobs of extremist Israelis — saying that it too, led to incitement in general.
In response to incitement claims against Palestinians, PLO Secretary-General Saeb Erekat condemned the current Israeli government for its failure to “entrench a culture of peace and coexistence within Israeli society” in July, holding Israel responsible for incitement, saying “official Israeli discourse entrenches hatred, racism, and discriminatory attitudes against Palestinians. The discourse is only further entrenched by the institutional protection that is given to those who commit or incite violence against Palestinians.”
Shaked herself has used Facebook in the past to advocate for the killing of the mothers of slain Palestinians, referring to them as ‘snakes.’
“They should follow their sons. Nothing would be more just. They should go as should the physical houses in which they raised the snakes. Otherwise more little snakes are raised,” she wrote on the social media platform in the summer of 2014, just one day before a group of Israeli settlers attacked, beat, and burned alive Muhammad Abu Khdeir, a Palestinian teenager from occupied East Jerusalem

Greece’s Ambassador To Brazil Murdered By His Wife’s Lover

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

(CNN) Police contend Greece’s ambassador to Brazil was killed by his wife’s lover — a military police officer — and the widow is being questioned in the crime, Brazil’s state-run Agencia Brasil news agency reported Saturday.

Chief Evaristo Pontes, a police investigator in the Baixada Fluminense state, said Friday that Sergio Gomes Moreira Filho claimed he killed the ambassador in self-defense and then recruited his cousin to help dispose of the body, Agencia Brasil News reported.
Ambassador Kyriakos Amiridis, 59, had been missing since Monday, Pontes said. A burned car with Amiridis’ charred body inside was found in Nova Iguaçu, a town outside Rio de Janeiro, on Thursday, he said.
“He (Moreira) says he got into a physical fight with the ambassador, and he had no choice other than to hit the ambassador and kill him,” Pontes said. “He says he was in desperation and didn’t know what to do, given what had happened, so he asked a cousin for help and they went to make the ambassador’s body disappear.”
Greek ambassador to Brazil Kyriakos Amiridis.

Besides Moreira, the ambassador’s widow, Francoise De Souza Oliveira, and the officer’s cousin, Eduardo Moreira de Melo, are also being questioned, Pontes said.
Pontes said investigators think Oliveira ordered the killing. No charges have been filed.
“She only told us that her lover — let’s call him that — the military policeman, was the author of the crime, executed this crime against her husband,” Pontes said. “She denies taking part.”
Agencia Brasil reported the officer killed Amiridis inside the ambassador’s home in Nova Iguaçu. The officer and his cousin wrapped the body in carpet and put it inside a car, Agencia Brasil reported.
Pontes said the cousin told police Moreira offered “to pay him 80,000 reals (about $24,574) 30 days after the crime, a period after which they thought there wouldn’t be any more problems.”
“All are under temporary arrest for 30 days for the ambassador’s death,” Pontes said. ” As we said before, this was a tragic, cowardly act.”
Amiridis had lived in Brasilia, the capital, since being appointed ambassador in January but usually spent holidays in the house outside Rio, where he was consul-general from 2001 to 2004, Agencia Brasil said.
The news agency said Oliveira was Brazilian.
Speaking to reporters outside the police station, Francisco Oliveira, the widow’s brother, said the couple “did not fight,” reported Agence France-Presse (AFP).
“For me it’s like a dream,” said Rosangela Oliveira, her mother. “I’ll wake up and nothing will have happened.”
Brazilian President Michel Temer’s office issued this statement: “In this moment of pain and sorrow, I offer, on behalf of the Brazilians, my condolences and solidarity to the government and people of Greece, in particular to the families and people close to Ambassador Amiridis.”
The statement says Brazilian authorities will investigate the incident thoroughly.
“The Brazilian government reaffirms its willingness to collaborate actively with the Greek side, as it has done from the beginning,” the statement said.
Greece’s Foreign Ministry issued a statement expressing its “deepest sorrow” at the death of Amiridis.
“The late diplomat served at the Permanent Mission of Greece to the EU, at the General Consulates in Rio de Janeiro and Rotterdam and at the Greek Embassy in Belgrade during the first phase of the war in Yugoslavia,” the statement said.

French President Hollande Says French Values Must Be Defended In Cold War Climate

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF BLOOMBERG NEWS)

Hollande Says France Must Defend Values in Cold War Climate

December 31, 2016, 3:03 PM EST
  • Outgoing French president sees democracy, freedom at risk
  • Final New Year’s address targets National Front’s Le Pen

French President Francois Hollande tells the French they have values to defend in the context of a new Cold War — a reference to both geopolitics and the country’s looming presidential election.

“There are moments in history when everything can be toppled. We are living through one of those periods,” Hollande said in a televised speech from Paris. “Democracy, freedom, Europe and even peace — all of these things have become vulnerable, reversible. We saw it with Brexit and with the U.S. election in November.”

Hollande, who came to power in May 2012, bowed out of France’s 2017 presidential race earlier this month, meaning today’s New Year’s eve address to the nation will be his last as head of state. The Socialist leader insisted to French voters that they have a responsibility on the global stage when they cast their ballots.

“France is open to the world, it is European,” Hollande said. “It is not possible to imagine our country crouching behind walls, reduced to its domestic self, returning to a national currency and increasingly discriminating based on peoples’ origins. It would no longer be France. That is what is at stake.”

Those remarks directly targeted the policies of National Front leader Marine Le Pen, who is committed to pulling France out of the euro, increasing restrictions on immigration, as well as putting up tariff barriers.

“Our main enemy is our doubt. You must have confidence in yourselves,” Hollande said.

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