Tuesday, February 21, 2017

From Ian:

CAMERA: Analyzing Palestinian Propaganda on CNN: Rashid Khalidi on "Fareed Zakaria GPS"
On Feb. 12, 2017, Columbia University professor Rashid Khalidi was invited onto CNN's global affairs program hosted by Fareed Zakaria (Fareed Zakaria GPS) to defend and justify the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel. This followed an interview on the same program a week earlier with French philosopher Bernard-Henri Lévy where he charged the BDS campaign with being "an anti-Semitic campaign" which "takes its roots a long time ago, 60 years ago, in the fringes of dying Nazism." Lévy's words so enraged Khalidi and other proponents of the anti-Israel campaign that Khalidi complained to the host, then appeared himself on the show the following week.
Khalidi, an experienced propagandist, used classic propaganda tactics (name-calling, transfer/association, glittering generalities, logical fallacy, bandwagon, plain folks, and card stacking, as described by the The Institute for Propaganda Analysis) to defend BDS, and to delegitimize Jewish sovereignty over Jerusalem, much as he had done several weeks earlier on WBEZ's Worldview.
Fareed Zakaria, with a history of skewing the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, helped Khalidi along, not only providing him with an unfettered platform to disseminate his misinformation, but having photos and drawings televised to illustrate Khalidi's deceptive analogies, and in the case of Jerusalem, disseminating some half truths of his own.
Here are the facts on BDS and Jerusalem, followed by an analysis of the propaganda disseminated on Zakaria's CNN program.

IsraellyCool: Australian PM Malcolm Turnbull Rips UN And BDS
Following my previous post on The Australian editorial against recognition of a Palestinian state comes further positive signs from Australia – from none other than Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, who has condemned the UN and BDS.
Malcolm Turnbull has strongly condemned the UN, accusing it of a prejudiced attack against Israel over a Security Council resolution that accused the Israeli ­government of violating inter­national law with its settlement activity.
On the eve of a historic visit by Benjamin Netanyahu, who ­arrives in Sydney today as the first sitting Israeli leader to visit Australia, the Prime Minister also charged those who promoted or supported a boycott campaign with a deplorable attempt to ­­­de-legitimise the Jewish state.
In an exclusive commentary article published in The Australian today, Mr Turnbull denounces the UN for what he claims is bias, citing 20 resolutions ­between 2014 and 2015 that are critical of Israel when only a ­single resolution had been issued on the Syrian war.
While Mr Turnbull has been critical in the past of anti-Israeli resolutions, rarely has he been so forceful in his language. “My government will not support one-sided resolutions criticising Israel of the kind recently adopted by the Security Council and we ­deplore the boycott campaigns designed to delegitimise the Jewish state,” Mr Turnbull writes.
PMW: Kids jump for Jihad at European-funded dance competition
Like many western cultural centers, the Yafa Cultural Center in Nablus recently hosted a folk dance competition for youth. But unlike their western counterparts, children at this competition danced to calls for violence and waltzed to words of war:
“We replaced bracelets with weapons
We attacked the despicable [Zionists]...
Jihad is needed
Pull the trigger.”

The Yafa Cultural Center, which receives funding from the German development agency GIZ, Norway, and the European Union, recently posted to its website photos from the first Yafa Folk Dance Competition. The gold prize winner danced to the song Pull the Trigger. The following is a longer excerpt from the song's lyrics:
“The Zionists coveted [our] homeland,
compounding damage and enmity
But the popular revolution awaits [them]
The orchard called us to the struggle
We replaced bracelets with weapons
We attacked the despicable [Zionists]
We do not want [internal] strife or disputes
While this invading enemy is on the battlefield
This is the day that Jihad is needed
Pull the trigger.
We shall redeem Jerusalem, Nablus and the country.”

This song was previously broadcast on PA TV in 2010.

  • Tuesday, February 21, 2017
  • Elder of Ziyon


A few weeks ago there was news that Hamas was using social engineering techniques to fool IDF soldiers into downloading malicious software on their phones by pretending to be European women.

It turns out that the software is more sophisticated than previously thought, but still possible that  Hamas could have possibly done.

Security firm Kaspersky, working with the IDF, analyzed the malware.

Israel HaYom reports:
The cybersecurity company engaged by the Israel Defense Forces to help crack the Hamas 'honey trap'  plot exposed last month has released a report about the security breach that includes new information. Hamas operatives had used fake social media profiles of alluring young women in order to entice IDF soldiers into downloading malware onto their mobile devices that would allow Hamas to collect information.

According to the report by Kaspersky Lab, released Thursday, the cyber attack is still in its initial stages and apparently ongoing. The report noted that the Hamas operatives behind the cyber plot were focusing mainly on soldiers and officers serving in and around the Gaza Strip, and that over 100 soldiers of various ranks had fallen prey to the attack, which turned the soldiers' personal Android mobile phones into spy machines for Hamas. The report said that the malware soldiers were tricked into downloading gave Hamas access to information about location, conversations, correspondence and also access to the devices' microphones and cameras. The attackers also managed to send out updates to the malware that increased their abilities to manipulate the users' smartphones.

The report said that after a victim was identified on Facebook, a fictitious profile of a young woman would tempt him into downloading a fake app granting the attackers user access. One version of the malware package included an invite to a fake YouTube app, while others offered fake messaging apps. Once the user downloaded one of the apps, the malware code would be installed on the device. One malware pack titled WhatsApp Update has been identified as having the ability to both execute commands on demand and conduct automatic data mining activity. Most of the data mining took place while the soldiers were using a wireless Internet connection.
I find it interesting that the IDF is cooperating with Kspersky. Kaspersky is widely believed to be close to Russian intelligence.





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I can’t believe it’s been twenty years.

I remember it like it was yesterday. It’s not the day itself I remember, just one vivid scene that forever changed me.

I was in 10th grade. Recess. Suddenly the school sound system was broadcasting the news.

They never did that. Sometimes they played music. Usually it was used just to sound the recess bell. Never the news.

Israeli schools are loud. Israelis in general are loud, boisterous, passionate, excitable… Younger Israelis are generally noisier than grown-ups. Israeli schools, because they are made from concrete and don’t have carpeting or furniture that absorbs sound, can be extremely noisy during recess.

Not this time.

There was dead silence. The moment the news began every student froze on the spot. A silent scattering of statues, everyone was listening intently to the report.

I had moved to Israel the year before. At first, I didn’t understand what was happening. I didn’t catch the beginning of the news flash.

And then I heard the names.

Name after name after name. Oh, my God. A wave of horror swept over me. When will the list stop? How many names will they read?

Everyone was utterly silent. Listening.

73 names.

There had been a terrible helicopter crash. Two IDF troop-carrying helicopters collided mid-air, causing them to crash and kill all the soldiers who had been on-board. 73 soldiers died in the blink of an eye.

I was the outsider, looking in on something I couldn’t completely comprehend. I didn’t have a brother, friend or father in the army. Everyone else did.

I was listening to news that was happening to people I did not know. Everyone else was petrified, listening, praying not to hear the name of someone they knew and loved. 

No one moved until the list was completed. Near the end of the recitation one girl burst in to tears and ran to the school’s pay-phone (no one had cell phones then, it was 1997). I remember watching her crying in to the phone and not knowing what to do with myself. What could I do?

That was the moment I understood the interconnectivity of Israelis. There is a bond unlike anywhere else in the world. Everyone knows someone who knows someone. If in America there are six degrees of separation, in Israel there are three (at most). Often this is a good thing. At other times, it is painful beyond belief.

In Israel, there is no such thing as someone else’s pain. It always comes back to us, it’s always connected.  

This is what it means to be a family.

That moment, 20 years ago, changed my life. In my childhood, in America, I learned the image of the “rugged individual.” I didn’t truly understand the idea of belonging to a Nation. Until that moment I understood with my head but not with my heart.

The idea of “E pluribus unum” became real to me only after living in Israel.

We are the many who have gathered from the four corners of the earth to live our oneness. One family, each member strikingly different from the other but all connected by an unbreakable bond. 

This is Israel.
***************
These are the names of the soldiers who died in the 1997 helicopter disaster.

73 families ripped apart. Parents who grew older without their children, watching the friends of their children grow up and create families where they are left with only memories. Siblings missing their brother. Friends missing that special person who understood them so well. Women who had to find other men to love… Each death is not the death of one but the death of a world. 

Lt. Shai Abukasis, 22, of Mikhmoret
Sgt. Itai Adler, 19, of Ra'anana
St.-Sgt. Avraham Afner, 21, of Kiryat Tiv'on
St.-Sgt. Idan Alper, 20, of Bat Yam
St.-Sgt. Avner Alter, 20, of Ashdot Ya'akov Ihud
St.-Sgt. Yonatan Amadi, 20, of Ma'ale Adumim
Sgt. 1st Cl. Saguy Arazi, 22, of Kfar Yona
St.-Sgt. Ran Arman, 20, of Ra'anana
St.-Sgt. Emil Azoulai, 20, of Ashkelon
Lt. Alon Babayan, 21, of Givat Ze'ev
St.-Sgt. Rafi Balalti, 20, of Migdal HaEmek
1st Sgt. Hussein Bashir, 28, of Beit Zarzir
St.-Sgt. Nir Ben-Haim, 20, of Yifat
Lt. Kobi Ben-Shem, 20, of Ramat HaSharon
Lt. Saguy Berkovitz, 21, of Alfei Menashe
1st Sgt. Maj. Paul Bivas, 26, of Ashdod
Lt. Dotan Cohen, 21, of Hadera
Maj. Yirmi Cohen, 23, of Rosh Ha'ayin
St.-Sgt. Assaf Dahan, 19, of Jerusalem
Maj. (Res.) Yasys Eden, 44, of Ramat HaSharon
Lt. Gil Eisen, 21, of Ness Ziona
Sgt. Noam Etzioni, 20, of Megadim
Sgt. Menachem Feldman, 20, of Haifa
Sgt. Moleto Gideon, 21, of Lod
Sgt. Avishai Gidron, 19, of Kiryat Motzkin
Sgt. 1st Cl. Tamir Glazer, 24, of Holon
St.-Sgt. Aviv Golan, 24, of Beit Yosef
Sgt. Tomer Goldberg, 19, of Dishon
St.-Sgt. Aviv Gonen, 20, of Petah Tikva
St.-Sgt. Micha Gottlieb, 20, of Tel Aviv
Maj. Ronen Halfon, 35, of Tiberias
Sgt. Alejandro Hoffman, 19, of Misgav Am
Maj. Yisrael Hushni, 34, of Tel Aviv
St.-Sgt. Shahar Kasus, 20, of Alfei Menashe
St.-Sgt. Michael Katz, 20, of Mitzpe Netofa
Sgt. Fadi Kazamel, 19, of Beit Jann
Sgt. Tomer Kedar, 21, of Negba
St.-Sgt. Tom Kita'in, 20, of Neve Shalom
St.-Sgt. Ilan Lanchitski, 20, of Haifa
Lt. Dvir Lanir, 21, of Moledet
Capt. Avishai Levy, 27, of Tel Aviv
St.-Sgt. Shilo Levy, 21, Karnei Shomron
St.-Sgt. Nadav Lishinski, 20, of Sde Avraham
Sgt. 1st Cl. Eitan Maman, 25, of Beersheba
Sgt. 1st Cl. Gal Meisels, 24, of Kiryat Ata
Sgt. Yaakov Melamed, 20, of Petah Tikva
Capt. Dr. Vadim Melnick, 34, of Safed
Sgt. Vladislav Michaelov, 22, Tel Aviv
Sgt. Idan Minker, 20, of Nir Yitzhak
St.-Sgt. Gilad Mishaiker, 20, of Jerusalem
St.-Sgt. Gilad Moshel, 20, of Tel Aviv
Lt.-Col. Moshe Mualem, 31, of Beersheba
St.-Sgt. Haran Eliezer Parnas, 20, Herzliya
Lt. Eren Hai Peretz, 21, of Deganya Alef
Sgt. Vitali Pesahov, 19, of Acre
Cpl. Shlomo Pizuati, 19, of Tiberias
Sgt. Gidon Posner, 22, of Tel Aviv
Capt. Dr. Vitaly Radinsky, 33, of Or Akiva
Sgt. 1st Cl. Kamal Rahal, 27, of Beit Zarzir
Sgt. Shahar Rosenberg, 19, of Ness Ziona
St.-Sgt. Assaf Rotenberg, 20, of Tel Aviv
Sgt. Moshe Saban, 19, of Hod HaSharon
Lt. Nir Schreibman, 20 of Kfar Saba
St.-Sgt. Itamar Shai, 20, of Jerusalem
St.-Sgt. Omer Shalit, 19, of Jerusalem
Sgt. Yiftach Shlapobersky, 20, Hod HaSharon
St.-Sgt. Gil Sharabi, 20, of Rehovot
St.-Sgt. Tsafrir Sharoni, 22, of Netanya
St.-Sgt. Tsafrir Shoval, 22, of Bar'am
Lt. Erez Shtark, 21, of Kiryat Ata
St.-Sgt. Assaf Siboni, 20, Nir Am
Sgt. Yaron Tsofiof, 20, of Tel Aviv

Sgt. Dani Zahavi, 19, of Haifa  



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From Ian:

The Impossible Deal: Establishing a Peaceful Palestinian-Arab State
Similarly, as Netanyahu explained in 2009 during his speech at Bar-Ilan University, any Palestinian-Arab state needs to be “demilitarized” – meaning that it cannot have an army, control its airspace, forge military pacts with the likes of Hezbollah and Iran, and import weapons, and must be subject to strong measures to prevent weapons smuggling. The PA opposes all of these Israeli security requirements.
Still another irreconcilable issue is that because a Palestinian state deal asks Israel to give up irreversible tangibles (i.e., land) for intangible peace promises, Israel needs partners who keep their promises. But the PA broke its repeated Oslo and other agreements to combat and stop inciting terror, collect illegal weapons, outlaw terrorist groups and preserve and provide Jews access to Jewish holy sites in PA territory.
Finally, the PA’s unrelenting goal is to destroy and replace all of Israel with a Palestinian-Arab state that no Jews can step foot in. This goal is clearly laid out in the PA ruling party Fatah Charter and in PA President Abbas’ speeches condemning the Israeli “occupation” since 1948 – and in the PA maps, stationery, official emblems, stamps, media and atlases showing all of Israel as Palestine. The PA leadership assures its people that any concessions it obtains are “stages” towards their final goal of destroying the Jewish state. Additionally, the PA is politically aligned with Hamas, whose charter calls for Israel’s destruction and the murder of every Jew.
Israel cannot agree to commit suicide – or give the PA a stronger base for advancing the Palestinian-Arab “struggle” for Israel’s total annihilation.
Caroline Glick: Senator Menendez and the Pollard effect
During his meeting with Trump, Netanyahu chose not to bring up Pollard and Pollard’s scandalous parole terms. Instead, Netanyahu sufficed with discussing Pollard’s plight at his meeting with Vice President Mike Pence. According to media reports, the two men agreed that Ambassador Ron Dermer will work with the administration on the issue. What that means was left open to interpretation.
Given the devastating role the Pollard affair has played in US-Israel relations, it is understandable that Netanyahu wouldn’t want to bring up Pollard at his first meeting with Trump. Who wants to bring up unpleasant subjects when you’re trying to build a new relationship with a new US president?
But while understandable, Netanyahu’s decision to minimize his discussions of Pollard’s plight and then delegate the issue to his ambassador was the wrong way to build that relationship.
Every day Pollard is subjected to prejudicial treatment by the US justice system is another day that the US is officially persecuting an American Jew, not because he breached his oath to protect US secrets, but because he did so as a Jew.
And as Menendez’s bigotry toward Friedman made clear, every day that this continues is a day when it is acceptable to slander loyal American Jews simply because they passionately support Israel. Every day that Pollard languishes under effective house arrest is another day when it is acceptable to question the good intentions of America’s greatest ally in the Middle East.
In other words, to rebuild its alliance with the US, Israel needs more than a warm embrace at the White House. It needs to receive Pollard at Ben Gurion Airport.
Shmuley Boteach: Cory Booker Condemned David Friedman While Giving Iran a Pass
And for too long, our ambassadors have blamed Israel for the ongoing dispute with the Palestinians rather than acknowledge that the obstacle to peace is the Palestinians’ refusal to accept the idea of a Jewish state coexisting next to a Palestinian state.
J Street has every right to its harsh opinions about Israel. But sitting in the comfort of homes 6,000 miles away may not give them the same perspective as Israelis who face threats of genocide from Hamas to the West, Hezbollah to the North and Iran to the East. J Street does not believe Jews have a legitimate claim to Judea and Samaria or the right to live in all of their homeland. The group is also out of step with Congress and mainstream Jews who support moving the US embassy and recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
Prodded by J Street, Friedman has been challenged about his past support for Jews in the community of Beit El. The world may villainize the families there as settlers, but in my view, they have every right to live in the land of Israel.
The Palestinians have been offered the possibility of statehood no fewer than seven times going back to 1937, and missed every opportunity because of their refusal to accept a Jewish state.
While Democrats have united in opposition to Trump’s cabinet nominations, support for Israel has always been bipartisan — because Republicans and Democrats recognize that Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East, the only reliable US ally in the region and a nation that shares American values and interests. President Obama undermined that bipartisan tradition, which is why staunch Democratic supporters of Israel like Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York, Ben Cardin of Maryland and Robert Menendez of New Jersey had the wisdom to vote against the Iran nuclear deal.
Cory supported the deal. He had that right. But he must show consistency. If you’re going to criticize an ambassador-designate, then at least condemn the Iranian regime that has pledged death to America, and its foremost ally, Israel.




[T]he reintegration of the refugees into the economic life of the Near East, either by repatriation or resettlement, is essential in preparation for the timewhen international assistance is no longer available, and for the realization ofconditions of peace and stability in the areaUnited Nations General Assembly Resolution 393 (V), December 2, 1950
The goal and purpose of UNRWA is simple and straightforward -- if not immensely challenging: to either repatriate Palestine refugees into what is now Israel or to resettle them elsewhere, while recognizing the obvious reality that there will come a time "when international assistance is no longer available."

Yet here we are, 67 years later. Those Palestine refugees have not been either repatriated nor resettled.

And that international assistance? Lo and behold: its being offered and provided. So what happened to the whole purpose of UNRWA?

It changed.

First of all -- in case you didn't get the memo -- UNRWA is no longer dedicating its resources towards reintegrating those Palestine refugees. Just ask the people who should know:
  • Peter Hansen, former commissioner-general of UNRWA: "The agency's mandate has repeatedly been refined andshaped by other General Assembly resolutions, which have allowed it to shift itsfocus from reintegration efforts in its early years to human development projects through to this very day."
Basically, there was an admission that UNRWA failed in its mandate to find hosts for the Palestine refugees. But instead of replacing UNRWA with an agency that would deal with the new reality, UNRWA just replaced its mandate instead.It was able to do this because of its much-vaunted flexibility.In his article, The Mandate of UNRWA at Sixty Lance Bartholomeusz writes
As stated at the outset, in broad terms, UNRWA's "mandate" means what the Agency may or must do. We have seen that UNRWA's mandate is rarely expressed in terms of what UNRWA may not do. Even though the language used in some resolutions such as "directs", "instructs", "essential", and "necessary" might indicate a compulsory nature, considering the context - in particular that UNRWA is almost entirely voluntarily funded and its actual income has generally fallen far short of budgeted income - most of the Agency's operational mandate can be seen to be permissive, albeit strongly encouraged in parts....For almost sixty years, in response to developments in the region, the General Assembly has mandated the Agency to engage in a rich and evolving variety of activities, for many purposes and for several classes of beneficiaries. The Assembly has provided UNRWA with a flexible mandate designed to facilitate, rather than restrict, the Agency's ability to act as and when the Commissioner-General [of UNRWA], in consultation with the Advisory Commission as appropriate, sees fit. [emphasis added]
So, according to Bartholomeusz:
  • Its mandate gives UNRWA a lot of leeway.
  • Even when the language implies a "compulsory" obligation for UNRWA, most of the "operational mandate" is actually "permissive" (read: optional).
  • UNRWA's mandate is "rich" and "flexible"
  • UNRWA's Commissioner-General and the Advisory Commission are the final arbiter of what UNRWA's mandate actually is.
How has UNRWA exercised this flexibility?According to UN General Assembly Resolution 302, part of the UNRWA mandate is for "direct relief and works programmes." Yet 10 years later, the incoming UNRWA directorJohn Davis suggested a new focus, which emphasized a shift to education:
  • providing general education, both elementary and secondary
  • teaching vocational skills, and awarding university scholarships
  • offering small loans and grants to individual refugees who have skills and want to become self-employed
The new focus allowed UNRWA to increase from 64 schools, with 800 teachers instructing 41,000 students in 1950 -- to 699 schools, with 19,217 instructors and 486,754 students in the 2011-2012 school year.For all the good this may have done over the years, there are major concerns over the abuse this has led to, as documented by UN Watch in its latest report Poisoning Palestinian Children: A Report UNRWA teachers' incitement to jihadist terrorism and antisemitism:
This report exposes more than 40 Facebook pages operated by school teachers, principals, and other employees of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), which incite to terrorism or antisemitism. The report is divided by region, and includes UNRWA staffers in Lebanon, Jordan, Gaza and Syria. These cases are additional to the 30 cases of incitement revealed at the end of 2015 by UN Watch.The examples of incitement in this report include UNRWA teachers and staffers celebrating the terrorist kidnapping of Israeli teenagers, cheering rockets being fired at Israeli civilian centers, endorsing various forms of violence, erasing Israel from the map, praising Hitler and posting his photo, and posting overtly antisemitic videos, caricatures, and statements.
The results of this report were summarized in a video:

The report and video point to the growing problem of the unchecked influence that Palestinian Arabs have on the very agency that is supposed to be aiding them. In an email correspondence, Dr. Alexander Joffe, who has written extensively on various aspects of UNRWA, expanded on this issue and the growing threat it poses:
UNRWA basically shifted its entire operation towards education by the end of the1950s, ending any hopes of repatriation or resettlement. It then rode the anti-colonialism wave at the UN through the 1960s and 1970s (which saw the growth of the UN's immense pro-Palestinian infrastructure) and by the 1980s had become a full service health and welfare provider. But during the 1990s, especially the Oslo years, the concept of promoting Palestinian 'rights' and 'protections' grew, partially in response to Oslo and also as part of the global trend towards casting all claims in terms of legalisms and human rights. This advocacy role makes UNRWA a kind of competitor to the PA or at least a shadow foreign ministry. In short, the organization adapts to changing conditions. Because it is basically run by and for Palestinians (we've called this an example of 'regulatory capture') it reacts to its own needs, those of the Palestinian street which it serves and cultivates, especially through the educational system, and to changes in the rhetorical ecosystem of international organizations. Its promotion of the 'right of return' is a recent adaptation from the last decade or so. And everything it does is against the background of 'financial emergency,' which has been its stock response since the 1950s.
Currently, UNRWA is still remaking itself. In line with the advocacy role that Dr. Joffe describes, as early as 2007 UNRWA described itself in a report, UNRWA in 2006, as
a global advocate for the protection and care of Palestine refugees. In circumstances of humanitarian crisis and armed conflict, the Agency's emergency interventions - as well as its presence - serve as tangible symbols of the international community's concern, helping to create a stable environment. [emphasis added]
This is a far cry from the temporary agency with a mandate to help Palestine refugees resettle.The claim that UNRWA protects as well as cares for the refugees seems something of a stretch. In 2002, when US Representative Tom Lantos complained to then-UN Secretary General Kofi Annan that "UNRWA officials have not only failed to prevent their camps from becoming centers of terrorist activity, but have also failed to report these developments to you," Annan responded:
the United Nations has no responsibility for security matters in refugee camps, or indeed anywhere else in the occupied territory
UNRWA will have to make up its mind just how global -- or how limited -- their protection is going to be, and who they intend to protect from whom.Just how UNRWA intends to be a stable influence when it assumes a responsibilitythat overlaps with the Palestinian Authority on the one hand, while it encourages antisemitism on the other, remains to be seen.

And if it can't -- no problem.UNRWA can always remake its mandate.




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  • Tuesday, February 21, 2017
  • Elder of Ziyon
Human Rights Watch is not known for praising the human rights of any country. Which makes this tweet and article on their site all the more jarring:






The more you read in the article, the worse it gets:

 The apparent decision by Iranian authorities to allow women to attend the Kish Island Open volleyball tournament is a positive, if small, step in the right direction, Human Rights Watch said today. Recent media reports said that female spectators will be allowed to attend the four-day beach volleyball competition, from February 15 through 18, 2017. Women had been barred from attending volleyball tournaments under a 2012 decree, in violation of international rules.

“From now on women can watch beach volleyball matches in Kish if they observe Islamic rules,” said Kasra Ghafouri, acting director of Iran’s Beach Volleyball Organization.
 The Kish Island Open is a premier international men’s tournament organized by the International Volleyball Federation (FIVB) as part of the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour. Women were not allowed to attend the first Kish Island Open, in February 2016, in spite of previous assurances to the FIVB by Iranian officials, prompting renewed calls for reform and a reversal of the discriminatory 2012 ban.
HRW has no idea what specific restrictions the women must be under to "observe Islamic rules." No cheering? No standing? Watching the game on an old black and white TV in the bowels of the stadium? We don't know, and neither does HRW, even as it is lavish in its praise.

Worse, this policy is one time for one tournament in one sport. Iran didn't suddenly say that women can attend sporting events; it was responding to pressure for one event only. There has been no change in Iran's no-women policy altogether; this is the exception, not the rule.

And HRW celebrates.

The reason that HRW chooses to compliment Iran for its ultra-progressive position of possibly allowing women to attend a single tournament in a single sport  one time is because HRW believes that, unlike Western countries, Iran will be more amenable to human rights issues if they are treated with kid gloves. After all,  it was reported this weekend:
"Iran doesn't respond well to threats," Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif told the Munich Security Conference, an annual gathering of top diplomats and defense officials. "We don't respond well to coercion. We don't respond well to sanctions, but we respond very well to mutual respect. We respond very well to arrangements to reach mutually acceptable scenarios."
HRW is afraid that Iran might give back this huge concession if they criticize the country for doing too little, too late.

But the fact is that the only reason Iran did as little as it did in allowing women to attend this tournament is exactly because of pressure and threats - the FIVB threatened to drop the tournament altogether days before it was to start unless Iran followed its rules.

HRW has the calculus exactly backwards. Iran is susceptible to pressure because Iran is sensitive to being shamed. Iran cares more about how it appears than how it acts. This is honor/shame in action. The ones who scream the most about how awful it is if they are humiliated are the ones who are the most frightened of being humiliated - and the ones who respond to pressure. The shame culture only pretends to accept others' ideas of what is right and wrong when it is forced to.

Human Rights Watch learned the exact wrong lesson from this volleyball incident. Instead of using the same tactics to build on to the next win, it caved and pretended that it can lay off the pressure for now because Iran is showing signs of acting 0.01% normally.

Which is, when you think of it, the exact same logic that drove the P5+1 to give in to Iranian demands as well.




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  • Tuesday, February 21, 2017
  • Elder of Ziyon


Palestinian civil society leaders are lamenting the fact that their "popular resistance" movements are not attracting much support within Palestinian society.

According to a new article in Ma'an, the number of participants in the weekly protests in Bil'in have gone down. Also, foreign activists are having a harder time coming to the area because of Israeli restrictions.

Palestinian National Initiative leader Mustafa Barghouti says, "Popular Resistance needs a strong push to awaken again, Recently, its weakness is evident in recent activities, and we need to find how viable it is to awaken this option.

Barghouti noted that the amount of money pouring in to help the "popular resistance" in a way weakens and spoils it,  saying that they do not need material support, but the active participation of people.

Walid Assaf, head of a group that opposed the security barrier, acknowledged that everyone is falling short in supporting the popular resistance.

Observers believe that the "knife intifada" that erupted in late 2015 also hurt the "popular resistance" movement because Palestinians were more enthusiastic over using more violent options.

The photos accompanying the article show the more entertaining "popular resistance" activities, which make it fairly obvious that most Palestinians don't want to look like clowns just to get some extra media exposure.

The weekly Bil'in protests definitely seem to have lost their steam. While last Friday's attracted hundreds as the 12th anniversary of the protests, in recent months the weekly events have been attracting only a couple dozen lethargic people (and some enthusiastic fire-burners and slingshotters) as this video from January shows.









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Monday, February 20, 2017

From Ian:

NGO Monitor: The need to regulate the lucrative ‘war crimes’ industry
Israeli military and political officials are also subject to campaigns seeking to criminalize counter-terrorism. In 2010, Judge Richard Goldstone acknowledged that an inquiry into the 2008-2009 Gaza conflict that he chaired under the auspices of the United Nations Human Rights Council, was based on invented allegations. After putting his name on a 500-page report that recycled rumors and unverified “testimony,” Goldstone wrote that there was no evidence to support claims of deliberate killing. His reputation and career were destroyed.
Goldstone’s bogus report, like the UK scandal, was the product of the lucrative and well-funded “war crimes” industry, led by dozens of powerful non-governmental organizations (NGOs) claiming to promote human rights. Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch (HRW) are among the main culprits. Founded to campaign for political prisoners, neither had any knowledge of the complexities of counter-terrorism when they reinvented themselves as experts on war crimes and interpreters of the law of armed conflict.
This agenda is the basis for large grants from government officials and private foundations, and also fits the radical anti-Western and anti-democratic ideologies of NGO leaders. The ranks of Amnesty, HRW and the numerous local groups that focus on the Arab-Israel conflict are filled with individuals who fervently believe that the world is divided automatically into colonialists and “victims,” with the democratic West as the former, and everyone else as the latter. NGO “research reports,” often based on rumors or lies, as in the case of the UK soldiers in Iraq, are taken at face value. Since few journalists and government officials understand international humanitarian law, and even fewer are able to verify any of the “war crimes” claims related to anti-terror operations in Iraq, Afghanistan, Gaza, and elsewhere, the NGO version of events is generally repeated without challenge.
In order to prevent abuses, the leaders of the “war crimes” industry, and government funds they receive, must be subject to much closer regulation and oversight. Journalists have the professional obligation to independently examine evidence before giving the allegations and reports credence. Similarly, diplomats and members of parliaments would be well advised to examine the accusations closely, and ensure that international legal structures, created for exceptional cases of bringing murderous dictators to justice, are not exploited and trivialized.
New wave of bomb threats at Jewish centers across US
At least 10 Jewish community centers across the United States were targeted with bomb threats on Monday, for the fourth time in five weeks.
The threats have been called in to JCCs across the country, according to Paul Goldenberg, the director of Secure Community Network — an affiliate of the Jewish Federations of North America that advises Jewish groups and institutions on security.
News reports indicated that threats were received by JCCs in St. Paul, Minnesota; Houston, Texas; Milwaukee, Wisconsin and Birmingham, Alabama.
The threats were called in on Monday morning. It is not known if they were live calls or recorded.
Israel's Public Relations: The Problem and the Solution
It is worth noting that the Jewish State was effectively created through the efforts of the countries of the world in San Remo and Geneva years prior to the Holocaust.
Jerusalem, except for fewer than 200 years in the 11th and 12th Centuries, when it was the capital of a short-lived Crusader State, has only been a capital city under Jewish rule. At other times since the Roman conquest it was not even considered by Muslims, or anyone else, a provincial city of consequence.
In the War of 1948-49, Jordan illegally seized Jerusalem, ethnically cleansed its Jewish inhabitants, destroyed all the synagogues and on top of the ancient sacred Jewish cemetery on the Mount of Olives, after taking ancient Jewish headstones to use as the floor of latrines, Jordan built a hotel.
The aggression by Egypt, Syria and Jordan in June 1967 was overturned by Israel. Israel liberated Jerusalem, took control of the Golan Heights, from which Syrians had been shooting down at Israeli farmers, and entered the West Bank, which was under illegal Jordanian occupation.
Anti-Apartheid movements in South Africa wanted equal political and other democratic rights for all -- irrespective of race -- but never advocated the destruction of South Africa.

  • Monday, February 20, 2017
  • Elder of Ziyon
Residents of Israeli Arab towns like Umm al-Fahm and Tira are upset.

Israeli police acted like police do in every democracy and visited the schools to tell the children about their jobs and foster understanding.

They even handed out coloring books with friendly police officers:


Parents of the students are complaining, according to Arab Israeli news site Arab48.

The distribution of the coloring books "sparked outrage among parents," where they said they would refuse acceding to these "twisted methods carried out by the police to spruce up their image among students in primary schools specifically targeted to attract students to the profession of the police."

Principals are banding together to repulse what they are calling, seriously, "militarization of schools."

The article notes that this is also an attempt to impose "Israelization" on the younger generations, with the police claiming that they serve the people.

One parent leader complained that he felt that Israel, which recently decided to allocated 15 billion shekels to Arab education, is insisting that some of this money goes towards normalization projects like these - to make Arabs feel more Israeli. Which, of course, they are. He wants the billions of shekels with no strings as to how to spend them.

People claim - with some justification, unfortunately - that Israel treats its Arabs like second-class citizens. Yet here is an example of what happens when Israel tries to treat Arab students exactly the same as Jewish students.

You can't have it both ways. Any Arabs who want to be accepted as equals in Israeli society need to accept  that they have responsibilities as well. And if they refuse the responsibilities, they cannot claim the benefits.

I believe that there are plenty of Israeli Arabs who understand this, but their voices are muted by the ones who scream about how awful it is that Israelis try to improve rocky relations between Arab youth and police.








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The pro-Israel community has long struggled against media coverage that distorts or misrepresents facts. While these efforts are often dismissed as partisan “hasbara” designed to make Israel look better than it deserves, fact-checking has become rather fashionable during the divisive US election campaign that ended – to the surprise and shock of the unsuspecting mainstream media – with Donald Trump’s victory. Yet, in these times of Trump, fact-checking is usually employed to discredit the new US administration and its supporters. I don’t really have a problem with this, but at the same time, I can’t help noticing that what is now widely called “the resistance” to the Trump administration is hardly ever thought worthy of fact-checking, no matter how bizarre the claims and “narratives” are that emanate from associated groups or individuals.

A recent Washington Post article on Linda Sarsour is a good case in point: it’s an amazing puff piece that presents Sarsour as “one of the highest-profile Muslim American activists in the country” who is bravely enduring “an onslaught of personal attacks through social media and conservative news outlets.” According to the paper’s “reporter” Michael Alison Chandler, the ambitious Sarsour – who once wanted to become “the first hijabi mayor of New York City” and who now plans to write a book and is even contemplating “a possible bid for Congress” –  is being smeared by “critics [who] have attempted to tie her to terrorist groups, called her anti-Semitic and accused her of infiltrating the liberal movement.”

Needless to say, the people who vilify poor Linda Sarsour so unfairly in turn richly deserve to be vilified by Sarsour and her supporters. Thus, Chandler allows Sarsour to airily dismiss a vile tweet she posted in 2011 fantasizing about Brigitte Gabriel and Ayaan Hirsi Ali “asking 4 an a$$ whippin’” and expressing the “wish” to “take their vaginas away” because “they don’t deserve to be women.” All Sarsour has to do now is to shrug off her vicious outburst as “stupid” and to dismiss it as simply a reflection of her being “a brash New Yorker.” An open threat against Brigitte Gabriel also posted by Sarsour remained unmentioned; likewise, her declaration that “White women” were regrettably slow to understand “that we do not need to be saved by them” was politely ignored now that Sarsour so obviously enjoys the fawning praise heaped on her by a whole lot of “White women.” And it is surely safer to admire Sarsour, given that she recently asked her fans to pray in support of her and then re-tweeted one of the heartfelt prayers: “#IPrayForLinda May God fortify her and strike down her enemies where they stand.”



While Washington Post readers weren’t told anything about fervent prayers to “strike down” Linda Sarsour’s “enemies,” they did learn that Sarsour regards Gabriel and Hirsi Ali as “notorious Islamophobes who are working for the right wing” and that the Southern Poverty Law Center largely agrees with Sarsour’s views, considering her a victim of bigoted efforts to vilify American Muslims.
Since obviously only truly terrible people would criticize Sarsour, the Washington Post’s Chandler apparently saw no reason to explain that “many” of Sarsour’s “accusers” suspect her of advocating Sharia because she posted several tweets extolling the supposed virtues of Islamic Sharia law. And even though a Snopes article published almost two weeks before Chandler’s piece shows that Sarsour avoided a direct answer to the question if she would ever “vote for Sharia Law in the United States,” Sarsour is simply allowed to claim that “she does not think sharia law should supplant American laws.” Washington Post readers are assured that just “like many other U.S. Muslims,” Sarsour supposedly regards Sharia only “as a guide” for her “private religious practice:” “I don’t eat pork […] “I don’t drink alcohol. I pray five times a day.” Later on Sarsour acknowledges that “[t]here are Muslims and regimes that oppress women,” but she immediately adds: “I believe that my religion is an empowering religion […] I wear hijab by choice.”

Of course, Sarsour can wear her hijab by choice only because she is living in a country that is not governed by Sharia law. In countries where Sharia law is enforced, not even feminist Swedish politicians dare to choose not to wear a hijab. And in countries where Sharia law is enforced, even non-Muslims don’t have necessarily the choice to eat pork, while Muslims who might fancy a drink risk heavy lashing or even a death sentence.

Sarsour may regard Sharia law only “as a guide” for her “private religious practice,” but she knows full well that in countries where it is enforced, it results in horrendous oppression and human rights violations. So why not hold Sarsour to her own standards: since she believes that “silence makes you complicit,” she should be expected to speak out about the enforced social conformity and the cruelty that result when Sharia is actually the law of the land.

Yet, Sarsour has even claimed that “shariah law is reasonable and once u read into the details it makes a lot of sense.”




Since Sarsour often emphasizes her Palestinian identity, it is noteworthy that the Palestinians are also very positive about Sharia. The graphic below, based on surveys by Pew, illustrates what Sharia means for Palestinians – maybe the next “reporter” tempted to write a puff piece on Sarsour can ask her if she considers this “reasonable”?



I could also think of several questions that reporters who are eager to show a skeptical public that the media can be trusted to report impartially could ask Linda Sarsour.
Sarsour has suggested that America is a nation built on “Genocide & slavery,” a comment she later claimed was “in response to a bigot who told me Islam is evil.” So what does Sarsour think about the countless horrors perpetrated in the wars of conquest that spread Islam far beyond its birthplace on the Arabian Peninsula? And what about the fact that Sharia law justifies slavery, in particular the enslavement of prisoners taken in jihad?



Sarsour has also opined that “Nothing is creepier than Zionism.” In other words, as far as Sarsour is concerned, nothing is creepier than the Jewish people’s right to self-determination. Given Sarsours’s frequent emphasis on her Palestinians identity and the fact that she has relatives and family friends who were (or still are) serving lengthy prison sentences in Israel – likely for involvement in terrorist activity –, and given that her brother-in-law was reportedly serving a 12-year sentence because he was “accused of being an activist in the Hamas,” it would be interesting to know how Sarsour feels about Hamas: is the Islamist terror group, with its notorious genocidal fascist charter, a lot less “creepy” than Zionism?



There also has been some speculation about Sarsour’s potential family connections to the known Hamas supporters Salah and Jamil Sarsour – perhaps an enterprising reporter could clear up if there is anything to these speculations?

Moreover, since Linda Sarsour has skillfully used her family to shape her public image, it is certainly legitimate to ask some related questions. So we know that her brother-in-law was sentenced to prison in Israel as a Hamas member or supporter; we also know that in 2004, “her Palestinian husband, after seven years in America, faced deportation proceedings.” Was her husband also suspected of being a Hamas supporter or member, and was he actually deported from the US?

If Sarsour’s husband had spent seven years in America by 2004, he arrived there in 1997. Sarsour, who was born in 1980, was then 17 years old, and we know from an Al Jazeera profile of her that, “At 17, still in high school, she had an arranged marriage and began wearing hijab.” This means that she “had” – or perhaps was forced into – an arranged marriage with a Palestinian who had just arrived in the US. We also know from a 2005 article (archived here) that Sarsour “met her future husband when he paid her family a visit with his extended family in tow and a $10,000 dowry.” The article identifies Sarsour’s husband as Maher Judh from the West Bank town of El-bireh and says that he works in a grocery store in Brooklyn, indicating that he was apparently not deported in 2004.

In the 2005 article, Sarsour describes her family as a “traditional Muslim family whose conservative ways were less a result of religion, but more about maintaining a good standing in the community.” She also seems to see nothing wrong with her arranged marriage at 17, telling the reporter back then: “I am 25 years old, married with three kids, and I was married in an arranged marriage, and that happened right here in Brooklyn […] People always say, ‘What! Most people don’t get married until they are 30,’ and I say ‘not my people.’”

So apparently, Sarsour felt at the time that it re-affirmed her Palestinian identity to get married so young in an arranged marriage. She also seems to have no misgivings about the fact – which she relates in the Al Jazeera profile – that her parents sent her to a terrible high school and deprived her of the chance to attend a program for gifted students because she “was the first [child of seven] in the family” and for her parents, “it wasn’t about better. It was about proximity to the house.” However, as noted in a glowing New York Times profile from 2015, Sarsour “grew up helping her mother babysit and shop.”

A girl growing up in America at the end of the 20th century being denied educational advancement by her parents, who instead use her as a babysitter for her six siblings and then marry her off at the earliest possible time would presumably be regarded by most of Sarsour’s feminist admirers as a very tragic case. As much as I disagree with Sarsour’s politics, I think one can only admire her for the tenaciousness with which she avoided her apparent destiny of a life restricted to being an obedient wife who would bear her husband children and perhaps eventually find some sort of low-level job. At the same time, I think Sarsour has good reason to “sometimes … feel duplicitous” because of what she reportedly called “her internal quest to prove she can be both progressive and traditional.”


The Washington Post identifies the author of the puff piece on Sarsour as a “reporter” who “writes about families, gender and religion.” Sarsour is certainly a fascinating person to write about for someone focusing on these issues – pity that Michael Alison Chandler took the easy way out and chose to simply add to the growing list of tributes that are ultimately only slightly more sophisticated versions of the “prayer” Sarsour liked so much: “#IPrayForLinda May God fortify her and strike down her enemies where they stand.”  



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From Ian:

PMW: PA wipes Israel off the map PA and Fatah leaders disseminate map of "Palestine" denying Israel's existence.(19/02/2017)
At his joint press conference with President Trump last Wednesday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated:
"The Palestinians must recognize the Jewish state. They have to stop calling for Israel's destruction. They have to stop educating their people for Israel's destruction." [White House website]
Indeed, far from educating its people towards a two-state solution, the Palestinian Authority leadership encourages its people to anticipate a future in which Israel no longer exists. In every context, the PA's map of "Palestine" completely erases Israel from the map.
Palestinian Media Watch has found maps of "Palestine" in school books, on honorary plaques, in ministerial offices and on sculptures in public places.
Below are several recent examples of PA leaders with such plaques:
Melanie Phillips: Hope for a real solution No wonder Europe's dismayed
The Palestinians’ strategy therefore lies in ruins. In Gaza, an even harder Hamas hard man has now come to power who doubtless will redouble efforts to rain down missiles upon Israeli citizens. Mahmoud Abbas’s Palestinian Authority thought it was so clever in pretending, by contrast, to have clean hands by adopting the diplomatic route to destroy Israel – courtesy of the UN and with a nod and a wink from the Obama administration. Now they are staring at a UN which itself is suddenly all too aware that its own hate-mongering, extermination-conniving party may finally be over.
Moreover, developments in the region mean that the Palestinians suddenly find themselves friendless in the Arab world. Their usefulness as the devilish threat to be cynically brandished in order to protect Arab rulers against the fury of their own enslaved populations has come to an abrupt end. Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states, now engaged in a fight to the death against Iran, are building an alliance with none other than the State of Israel; and now also with America.
Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister, Adel al Jubeir, today accused Iran of being ”the single main sponsor of terrorism in the world”. He went on: “We look forward to working with the Trump administration on all issues. I believe progress can be made in the Arab Israel conflict, if there is a will to do so. We know what the settlement looks like, if there is just the political will to do so. And my country stands ready with other Arab countries to work to see how we can promote that.”
Of course there can be no illusions about Saudi Arabia, the primary source of Sunni Islamic radicalisation and the principal exporter of jihadi Islamism around the world. And the previous Saudi peace initiative was an elephant trap. Nevertheless, between these tectonic regional shifts and the hurricane in the White House, the Middle East log-jam has been smashed. There is accordingly now more hope for a just and realistic solution to the Arab war against Israel than there has ever been.
No wonder Europe is so dismayed.
IsraellyCool: Private Palestinian Land #FakeNews
If Hitler gave the Eiffel Tower to Eichmann and his son showed up claiming it, would you call it “Private German Land”?
It seems the combined might of all the anti-Israel NGOs financed by such bodies as J-Street, the New Israel Fund (NIF) and the various anti-Israel arms of the European Union and the UN have all got one central talking point to delegitimise the perfectly natural building of Jewish homes, schools, businesses and other signs of progress in the Jewish heartlands of Judea and Samaria.
Their favourite term is “private Palestinian land”.
Most of what the radical left and the left wing Israeli Courts call “Private Palestinian Land” comes from deeds handed out by the King of Jordan during his illegal occupation from 1949 to 1967. He would gift parcels of land to anyone who’d take it and then demand land taxes! Most never walked on or developed their land and few paid the taxes. It is land claims like these that form the bedrock of the lawfare efforts by anti-Israel NGOs such as the one which resulted in the residents of Amona being thrown out of their homes.
It’s not a perfect analogy, none is, but if Hitler had handed out bits of Paris to his friends and their children showed up today and claimed them, calling them “private German land” would make just as much sense.

  • Monday, February 20, 2017
  • Elder of Ziyon
The latest statistics from the Action Group for Palestinians from Syria say:

- At least 3,443 Palestinians, including 455 women, were killed in war-torn Syria.
- 1,164 Palestinian refugees, including 83 women, are incarcerated in Syrian government lock-ups.
- Yarmouk refugee camp has been blockaded by the Syrian regime army and Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine - General Command (PFLP-GC) for 1,339 days in a row.
- 190 Palestinians died of undernourishment and medical neglect in the blockaded Yarmouk Camp.
- Over 79,000 Palestinian Syrian refugees fled to Europe until mid 2016.
- 31,000 Palestinians from Syria are housed in Lebanon.
- 17,000 Palestinians from Syria are taking refuge in Jordan.
- 6,000 Palestinian-Syrian refugees are sheltered in Egypt.
- 8,000 Palestinian-Syrian refugees are taking shelter in Turkey.
- 1,000 Palestinian-Syrian refugees are sheltered in the blockaded Gaza Strip. 

Of course, the media (as well as Arab media) reports very little about Palestinian victims in Syria. One of the reasons is that a Palestinian group, the PFLP-GC, is actively starving the Palestinians in Yarmouk! In fact they have fought anti-Assad Palestinian forces over the years

Of the 79,000 Syrians of Palestinian descent who have made it to Europe, I'm nearly certain that none of them have been taken off the UNRWA rolls. We already know that about 200,000 Palestinians from Lebanon have left, many to Europe, and UNRWA still counts them as "registered refugees."

I have seen a few articles about Syrian Palestinians fleeing to Gaza, but I am still not sure how they got in. A few smuggled themselves in through tunnels during Morsi's reign in Egypt, but certainly not a thousand. Perhaps when Egypt briefly opened the Rafah crossing in those days they came in from Egypt.

The numbers of Palestinians who fled to Jordan have stayed pretty static for the past couple of years. Apparently Jordan is not accepting more Palestinians from Syria.



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This blog may be a labor of love for me, but it takes a lot of effort, time and money. For over 12 years and over 25,000 articles I have been providing accurate, original news that would have remained unnoticed. I've written hundreds of scoops and sometimes my reporting ends up making a real difference. I appreciate any donations you can give to keep this blog going.

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