Shiva Asar B’Tammuz 5776 – time for an antisemitism update

Artist’s impression of the Roman assault on Jerusalem on 17th Tammuz

Religious Jews the world over are marking the fast of 17th of Tammuz today (since the 17th fell on Shabbat, the fast has been deferred to today, the 18th). The fast day, from sunrise to sunset, marks the start of a three-week mourning period culminating in the fast of Tisha B’Av. These three weeks (Between the Straits – בין המיצרים in Hebrew) are a time during which we observe increasingly stringent mourning rituals until the 25-hour fast of Tisha B’Av itself, and are often noted for the tragedies that have befallen us in this period.

From the Chabad website:

The fast actually commemorates five tragic events that occurred on this date:

  1. Moses broke the tablets when he saw the Jewish people worshipping the Golden Calf.
  2. During the Babylonian siege of Jerusalem, the Jews were forced to cease offering the daily sacrifices due to the lack of sheep.
  3. Apostomos burned the holy Torah.1
  4. An idol was placed in the Holy Temple.2
  5. The walls of Jerusalem were breached by the Romans, in 69 CE, after a lengthy siege. (Three weeks later, after the Jews put up a valiant struggle, the Romans destroyed the second Holy Temple on the 9th of Av.)
    The Jerusalem Talmud maintains that this is also the date when the Babylonians breached the walls of Jerusalem on their way to destroying the first Temple.

Despite the fact that the Jewish people have re-established their own homeland in Israel, we are still not fully out of the Exile. The Temple is still not rebuilt, we barely retain any sovereignty in Judea and Samaria and the Old City of Jerusalem, particularly on the Temple Mount, threats against the State of Israel abound all around us on all our borders, and antisemitism has been rearing its ugly head around the world.

In suitably apt timing, the already discredited UK National Union of Students stripped Jewish students of their right, to choose their own representative on an anti-fascism council. This should come as no surprise as the NUS is headed by headed by the execrable Malia Bouattia:

The National Union of Students has voted to remove the right of Jewish students to choose their representative on the union’s Anti-Racism and Anti-Fascism Committee. In previous years, the Jewish student representative bodies (representing around 8,500 registered Jewish students) were consulted and had a say in choosing the Jewish representative on the committee. That is no longer the case, and now the decision will be solely that of NUS’s National Executive Committee and its President Malia Bouattia. Indeed it was Bouattia who approved the amendment, using her casting vote.

Malia Bouattia, antisemitic head of the NUS

Given Malia Bouattia’s track record on Jewish matters, it may not come as a surprise that it was her casting vote that condemned the Jewish student body to lose the right to choose its representative in the NUS campaign against racism and fascism.

The Union of Jewish Students has condemned the decision, saying that this just another example of “Jews being pushed out of university life”.

This is another instance of the welfare of Jewish students being deliberately ignored, and voices of Jewish students being shunned. Furthermore, by replacing the Jewish students’ representative with an unendorsed committee member, there is a clear risk that the perpetrators of antisemitism will feel protected.

And like peas in a pod, where one antisemite goes, the other is sure to follow. Thus we find the repulsive Jihad Jenny Tonge blaming Israel for the rise of Jihadist extremism and demanding (!) that the Jews condemn Israel:

Baroness Tonge, who was forced to resign from the Liberal Democrat Party in the House of Lords over antisemitic remarks in 2012, has once again tried to hold Jews to account for ‘crimes’ she perceives Israel to have committed.

Jihad Jenny Tonge

Speaking in the House of Lords today, Baroness Tonge blamed Israel for the rise of extreme Islamism and ISIS. She then went on to say that Israel did not deserve the support of British Jews, but that Jews nonetheless had a special responsibility to stop the Israeli government “destroying…the Middle East and the wider world”.

Tonge also claimed that Palestinian terrorist groups have a “justified grudge” against Israel, effectively defending the terrorism that is aimed at Jewish people in Israel and around the world by Hamas, Islamic Jihad and other terrorist organisations.

The Campaign Against Antisemitism suggests you write to the leader of the Liberal Democrat Party, Tim Farron MP, at tim.farron@libdems.org.uk to register your complaint. Don’t hold your breath waiting for an apology from Jihad Jenny though.

Even sports are not immune to antisemitism as Muslim extremists are threatening to attack Israeli athletes, along with other Westerners, at the upcoming Rio Olympic Games:

The Foreign Desk reported that a list of directives published on social media advises jihadis to target American, British, French and Israeli athletes, saying “One small knife attack against Americans/Israelis in these places will have bigger media effect than any other attacks anywhere else insha Allah,” meaning “If Allah wills.”

Israeli athletes are further singled out.

“From among the worst enemies, the most famous enemies for general Muslims is to attack Israelis. As general Muslims all agree to it and it causes more popularity for the Mujahideen among the Muslims,” the jihadis said on social media.

These threats are eerily familiar, coming on the heels of a terror attack (whether by “just” a “regular” crazy or a terrorist remains to be clarified) in Munich in which nine Germans, including four children, were shot dead.  This attack took place very near the site of the murderous Palestinian terrorist attack on the Israeli Olympic athletes at the Munich Olympics in 1972 in which 11 Israeli athletes were massacred.

It is strange how the wheel of history has turned. And as always, a warning to the world: what starts with the Jews never ends with the Jews.

And now, for a palate cleanser, and as a reminder of the Jewish connection to Israel and Jerusalem, so relevant to today’s date (via an Aish.com facebook video), here is a wonderful video by Stanley Goldfoot, An Open Letter to the World from Jerusalem, setting out the facts and our history with no holds barred.

The website Israel Seen gives us a short bio of Stanley Goldfoot in its introduction:

In 2006, at the age of 92, Stanley Goldfoot passed away. Stanley Goldfoot was born in Johannesburg, South Africa. In 1932, at the age of 18, he headed for Palestine where he joined a HaShomer HaTzair kibbutz. After the rebirth of the Jewish State of Israel his main goal, which he eventually realized, was to establish a Zionist English newspaper, “The Times of Israel.” In the first issue of “The Times of Israel”, in 1969, Goldfoot wrote his famous “Letter to the World from Jerusalem.” The article is still remarkably relevant, so I thought I’d share it with you.  It’s the thoughts of only one man but, as I read it, it occurred to me that, in many ways, it represents  the pleas of an entire nation – a people with one small desire: “to be a free people in our land”.

You can read the full text at the link. Enjoy the video – and share it!

And on a similar note:

Posted in Antisemitism, Judaism, Terrorism | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Good News Friday

This week has passed so quickly and before I’ve looked round it’s time for another Good News Friday installment.

First, an astonishing story of self-sacrifice in more ways than one: a Haredi woman from New York lost 34 kg in order to be able to donate a kidney – to a stranger!

For most, the notion of serving as a living donor – that is offering one’s internal organs to those in need – is a daunting prospect; a sacrifice few would make unless absolutely required by a loved one.

Hindy Messinger, kidney donor

But one Brooklyn woman not only took the plunge, she literally reshaped her life to qualify as a donor – all to give up one of her kidneys to a total stranger.

Hindy Messinger, a 41-year old mother of three and grandmother of two from Borough Park spent five years preparing herself to meet the requirements to serve as a living donor, including losing 75 pounds (34 kilograms).

“The whole time I was losing weight, my thoughts were to give a kidney,” said Messinger.

“Six months after I lost my weight I called Cornell [Medical Center]. ‘So I’m gonna be able to donate a kidney now? Will I be able to donate a kidney?’ They said ‘no, not yet.’ I wanted to donate a kidney already. This is why I’m doing this.”

She had originally wanted to donate to her cousin, but after this became unnecessary she decided to go ahead and donate her kidney to a stranger.

Five years later, however, Messinger fulfilled the requirements to donate, even though her cousin no longer required the donation. Instead, she gave her kidney to Barry Bichler, a man she had never met before the operation.

I am in awe of Hindy’s motivation, her persistence, and her pure self-sacrifice in order to save a life. As our Rabbis have said, a person who saves one life is as if he saved a whole world. and indeed Hindy Messinger has saved both the life of the recipient as well as her own by regaining her own health. And she has made a huge Kiddush Hashem in the world as well. Kol hakavod is too weak a term to use here. I wish her and the recipient continued good health into the future, and may we all learn from her example.

Moving now into the diplomatic field, Israel and the African nation of Guinea renewed ties after a disconnect of 4 decades:

After almost five decades, Israel on Wednesday renewed diplomatic relations with the Republic of Guinea, a small, overwhelmingly Muslim country in West Africa that cut ties with the Jewish state in 1967.

Foreign Ministry director-general Dore Gold signs a deal to restore diplomatic ties with Guinea on July 20, 2016 (Foreign Ministry)

“This is an important closing of a circle,” Gold said, noting that it has been nearly 50 years since the government in Conakry cut ties with Israel.

“The number of countries on the African continent that still haven’t [re-established ties with Israel] is steadily decreasing, and we’re hopeful that soon this number will not exist anymore,” Gold said. “Israel is calling on the countries that still haven’t renewed diplomatic relations to follow in Guinea’s footsteps so that we can work together to the benefit of all peoples in the region.”

This is excellent news, hopefully to be followed by the renewal of ties with yet more African nations. Kol hakavod to all the diplomats and politicians involved in these renewed relations, including PM Netanyahu who has made relations with Africa one of his declared aims. May these revived connections lead to more peace and security for the entire region.

Another visiting diplomat this week was the Paraguayan President, who was praised for his steadfast support for Israel:

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu welcomed Paraguayan President Horacio Cartes to Jerusalem on Tuesday, calling him a close friend who defended Israel “in difficult circumstances.”

Paraguayan President Horacio Cartes meets PM Binyamin Netanyahu

Cartes, the first Paraguayan leader to visit Israel, regretted that the trip did not take place earlier as the two countries were “so close” and “friendly,” but indicated that it was an opportunity to catch up on lost time.

During Operation Protective Edge two years ago, Paraguay stood apart from other Latin American countries in its refusal to condemn Israel, The Jerusalem Post explained. Some other Latin American countries sharply criticized Israel in its war against Hamas, with Brazil, Peru, Chile, El Salvador, and Ecuador even withdrawing their ambassadors in protest.

However, Paraguay has consistently either abstained or voted in favor of Israel in international forums since Cartes was elected president in 2013.

Netanyahu said the relationship reflects both Cartes’ attitude towards Israel and the historical parallels between the two nations. Both Israel and Paraguay are “small countries surrounded by a lot of big countries, not always on the friendliest terms,” Netanyahu observed. Cartes noted that Paraguay voted for Israel to “become a state in May 14 of 1948.” He added that, coincidentally, “the independence of our country Paraguay .. is May 14 too, but in 1811.”

Following his recent historic trip to Africa, Netanyahu expressed an interest in working with Paraguay to expand Israel’s “relationship with the countries of Latin America.”

A huge kol hakavod to President Cartes on his unstinting support for Israel, no easy thing and not to be taken for granted in international forums today. May this visit be the harbinger of many more from South America.

And from diplomacy we move now to one of my favourite subjects: Aliya. This week saw the arrival of over 200 new immigrants from the United States and the largest French aliya flight of this summer, also with 200 immigrants.

The French olim were welcomed by Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky who said:

“Each aliya reminds me of my own aliya; each aliya is the closing of a huge circle,” said the Soviet-born former refusenik, who made his own aliya in 1986 after nine years of imprisonment.

“We all know there is a future for French Jews in Israel, while there is a discussion over whether they have a future in France,” he told the olim. “You all made a giant step today in building a more secure future for your children.”

Indeed, many of those fresh off the plane gave that as the reason for the move to Israel.

“We decided to come to Israel for the children,” Anthony Marek of Paris told the Post.

The American olim meanwhile expressed their huge emotions on their arrival in Israel:

Noah Lawrence, 29, originally from Massachusetts, said Israel had always had a hold on him.

“I always wanted to live in a Jewish national culture, and I just discovered it over the years,” he said. “One of the early stops on that journey was when I was an intern for The Jerusalem Post… and Baruch Hashem, God brought me back.”

When asked why he decided to move to Israel, Lawrence replied, saying “it’s like asking how you fell in love with someone. It’s hard to even say.”

It is words like these which make living in Israel, with all the difficulties and dangers involved, so worthwhile.

Bruchim haba’im – Welcome! – to all the new olim. May your absorption be easy, may your future life here be successful and I wish you every success and happiness in your new life in Israel.

batmitzvah2And finally, yesterday we celebrated the Batmitzvah of our granddaughter Hodaya. It was a lovely evening, with good food, speeches, video clips and dancing. It was a very exciting and moving occasion for all of us: for us as her grandparents, for my parents and in-laws who had the privilege of seeing their great-granddaughter celebrate, and of course for Hodaya’s parents, her other grandparents, her siblings, and the entire community.

We wish Hodaya all the blessings that can be bestowed on a Batmitzvah girl: that she should grow in her faith and mitzvot; that she should enjoy continued success in school, good health, happiness, and success in all that she does.

Mazal Tov! 

And with these happy thoughts I wish Shabbat Shalom to all my readers.

Posted in Family, International relations, Israel news | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

The craven West empowers Iran in violating the nuclear deal

It’s been a while since I last wrote about Iran and its deceitful ways in violating the conditions of the notorious JCPOA, aka the Iran deal, while the West, particularly the Americans, has been looking the other way. In fact the West has deliberately been turning a blind eye to some of Iran’s violations, whether out of fear (of Iranian sponsored terrorism) or greed (Iran provides a huge market for exports and business) and this in the end led Iran to go one step too far, even for the craven western allies.

Last week Iran held its ninth ballistic missile test, causing NATO to “express concern” at their violation of a UN Security Council Resolution  (I’m sure that will have them quaking in their boots):

Iran test-fired a new kind of ballistic missile using North Korean technology on the night of July 11-12, Fox News reported on Friday, citing multiple intelligence officials. The latest test, the ninth Iran carried out since it reached a nuclear deal with global powers last year, was held two days before the one-year anniversary of the deal’s announcement.

Radius covered by Iran’s latest missiles

The missile was fired from the city of Saman in western Iran and was a modified version of North Korea’s Musudan ballistic missile, which has a range of 2,500 miles — putting nearly all of the Middle East (including Israel) and much of mainland Europe within reach.

Iran’s continued ballistic missile tests are being carried out in defiance of United Nations Security Council Resolution 2231, which codified last year’s nuclear deal and calls on Iran “not to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using such ballistic missile technology.” The resolution also says that Iran must abide by previous Security Council resolutions, which placed restrictions on ballistic missile work until 2023.

NATO leaders said in a joint communique last week that they were “seriously concerned by the development of Iran’s ballistic missile programme and continuing missile tests that are inconsistent with [Resolution] 2231.” Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qassemi replied on Monday that NATO’s statement was “a repetition of past baseless allegations.”

So how well have those sanctions actually been working? Not so brilliantly:

“Iran’s behavior hasn’t significantly changed as a result of the nuclear agreement,” Gen. Joseph Votel, the Baghdad-based chief of United States Central Command, told Fox News on Thursday. “They continue to pursue malign activities, and they continue to foment instability in areas where we need stability so I remain concerned about that continued behavior.”

In fact 15 Senators from the Democrat Party who supported the Iran deal are now criticising the Iranian inspection procedures:

Fifteen Democratic senators who originally supported the nuclear deal with Iran have written a letter to President Barack Obama criticizing the deal’s inspection procedures, Politico reported Friday.

The group, led by Sen. Gary Peters (D-Mich.), called on Obama to pressure the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which performs inspections on suspected Iranian nuclear sites, to release more information from its inspections. Currently, the IAEA does not publicly disclose critical details like the size of Iran’s uranium stocks or how many centrifuges it is operating, instead simply announcing whether Iran is, overall, in compliance with its obligations.

“Providing additional situational awareness of Iran’s nuclear program is vital for the long-term health of this agreement,” the letter read. “We urge [the Obama] administration to ensure that the IAEA releases all relevant technical information so that we may continue to make our own judgments about the status of Iran’s nuclear program.”

The letter also criticized the inspections regime for not providing detailed updates on Iran’s Fordow facility, a key site for Iranian nuclear weapons research.

So where is that apology to Binyamin Netanyahu after he was excoriated for opposing the deal?  I am sure that will be conveniently forgotten by American politicians, particularly the Democrats, but we Israelis have a long memory.

A new scandal emerged this week as a secret document was exposed, revealing that key constraints on Iran will last no longer than 10 years, bringing them much nearer to building a nuclear bomb. Honest Reporting explains:

According to a document seen by the Associated Press, “key restrictions” imposed on Iran’s nuclear program by last year’s accord “will start to ease years before the 15-year accord expires, advancing Tehran’s ability to build a bomb even before the end of the pact.”

Israeli officials told the Times of Israel that this add-on document would allow Tehran to “produce fuel for many bombs in a very short time.”

It says that as of January 2027 — 11 years after the deal was implemented — Iran will start replacing its mainstay centrifuges with thousands of advanced machines.

Centrifuges churn out uranium to levels that can range from use as reactor fuel and for medical and research purposes to much higher levels for the core of a nuclear warhead. From year 11 to 13, says the document, Iran will install centrifuges up to five times as efficient as the 5,060 machines it is now restricted to using.

Those new models will number less than those being used now, ranging between 2,500 and 3,500, depending on their efficiency, according to the document. But because they are more effective, they will allow Iran to enrich at more than twice the rate it is doing now.

The US State Dept. denied the existence of any secret add-on documents while Tehran defended the provision as “a matter of pride.” Who to believe?

I know who I believe, and it’s not the Americans. Their record has been abysmal on anything connected with Iran and they have given us no reason to rethink our scepticism now.

Iran’s heavy water plant in Araq

For example US officials confirmed that $8.6 million of taxpayer money was used to buy Iranian heavy water, ostensibly to get it out of Iranian hands. But as we all know, money is fungible. Moreover, if Iran was not supposed to have nuclear materials, that heavy water ought to have been confiscated, not bought with US taxpayer dollars!

Heavy water can be used in certain reactors to breed plutonium from natural uranium. The nuclear deal limits Iran to 130 metric tons of heavy water, and allows Iran to sell it to other countries under certain conditions. But after Iran created more heavy water than it anticipated, it transferred 50 metric tons of the material to Oman in anticipation of selling some of it to the United States — a maneuver allowing Iran to maintain its compliance with the deal by limiting the heavy water in the country. But the transfer of heavy water to a third country without a sale is not specifically approved by the nuclear deal.

The newly revealed timeline for the deal is reportedly raising concerns in Capitol Hill. Lawmakers have already voiced opposition to doing nuclear-related business with Iran, and have criticized the Obama administration for failing to provide them with specific details on the sale.

“The confirmation of this late April date is likely to anger lawmakers who were denied details of the deal because the Energy Department told them several months ago that key details surrounding the deal had not yet been firmed up,” one legislative adviser told the Free Beacon.

“The Obama administration’s deal with the Mullahs in Tehran to purchase heavy water demonstrates a disturbing, potentially illegal, willingness of the administration to subsidize Iran’s nuclear program,” said Rep. Mike Pompeo (R – Kan.). “This purchase allows the Iranians to offload previously unsellable product and it destigmatizes the act of doing business in Iran.”

If the Obama Administration is lying to its own people, how much more so is it lying to the rest of the world!

We are now at the stage where a newly empowered Iran is celebrating and threatening in equal measure. In the wake of the secret letter mentioned above, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif triumphantly declared that Iran will be able to restore full enrichment after 10 years:

Iran’s foreign minister called his country’s ability to restore its uranium enrichment program after the tenth year of the nuclear deal it reached with world powers last year a “matter of pride,” the Associated Press reported Tuesday. Mohammad Javad Zarif’s comments came in response to a report published Monday by the AP about a secret add-on to the Iran deal, which reduces Iran’s breakout time to a nuclear device.

Zarif, who also served as Iran’s top nuclear negotiator, said the previously confidential document that his country filed with the International Atomic Energy Agency was crafted by “negotiators and industry experts.” The secret side-deal — revealed to the AP by a diplomat who worked on issues related to Iran’s nuclear program for over a decade, and confirmed by another diplomat possessing the same document — has raised further questions about the nuclear accord’s ability to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear bomb over the next 15 years.

Meanwhile, as if it has not received enough concessions, Iran continues to threaten the West if it does not uphold the nuclear deal – the very deal that they themselves are violating!

Iranian officials issued new threats against the West on Wednesday, warning that failure to uphold the nuclear deal will result in harsh consequences, Iranian state media reported.

According to Larijani, “disruptive moves” by the UN and the US, coupled with what he claimed to be America’s disloyalty to the year-old Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), are sufficient cause for Tehran to take defiant measures.

Also on Wednesday, the commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari, announced that Iran will hold various war games across the country, which will last through the end of the year, Fars reported. The war games are intended to flex Iran’s military muscles and test its advanced missile systems, the IRGC commander said.

“This year, we have so many exercises that I can’t remember their exact number,” Jafari said. “God willing, these drills will be staged to enhance readiness for burying the enemy in the Persian Gulf waters and annihilating them on the Iranian soil.”

“We will not cancel any drills and will improve them and make them more frequent,” he said.

In March, the IRGC carried out a ballistic-missile exercise, launching missiles capable of carrying a nuclear payload. The move was widely condemned and seen as a violation of Security Council Resolution 2231, which implements the JCPOA.

And here you see the craven West at work again:

Western officials claimed that the launch did not violate the core terms of the nuclear deal.

Unbelievable!

Iranian threats are not extended merely over nations, but towards individuals too. The family of a British-Iranian woman arrested on trumped-up charges is being blackmailed by Iran in order to secure her release:

The family of a British-Iranian woman who was arrested in Tehran earlier this year was told to pressure the British government “to reach an agreement” in order to close her case before trial, Reuters reported on Tuesday.

[Photo: Free Nazanin Campaign]

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who was visiting family in Iran with her toddler, was detained at Tehran’s airport in April, separated from her child, and charged with the “design and implementation of cyber and media projects to cause the soft toppling of the Islamic Republic,” the state-run IRNA news agency reported. Her husband, Richard Ratcliffe, called the charges “preposterous.” Ratcliffe told Reuters that his wife was told by an interrogator in late June that her case would be closed if some sort of deal was made with the British government. Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s mother was reportedly told when visiting her daughter at the notorious Evin prison that the deal involved some sort of “exchange.”

Iran does not recognized dual citizenship, so dual nationals like Zaghar-Ratcliffe are denied access to the embassies of their second nationality. The British Foreign Office has raised Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s case with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif, but officials have not been allowed to visit her.

Iran has a long record with such hostage-taking, as the article reports:

In Why Does Iran Keep Taking American Hostages?, published in the September 2015 issue of The Tower Magazine, Iran expert Ali Alfoneh described the regime’s hostage-taking as “a perfectly normal procedure and political practice in the Islamic Republic. That has been the case since the first day of the revolution and continues until today.”

Pictures of the 85 victims of the AMIA bombing in Argentina 22 years ago

Iranian finger-prints have still not led to any serious convictions or even indictments in the bombing of the AMIA Jewish center in Buenos Aires almost exactly 22 years ago, which caused the death of 85 people, and also the murder of Argentinian-Jewish investigator Alberto Nisman who was examining the case. Israel Hayom reports that Argentinian Jews are calling for justice 22 years later:

“We ask the head of the AMIA Bombing Investigation Unit Mario Cimadevilla and Justice Minister German Garavano that the case be a state priority. We know they have been in their posts for a short time, but we also know that we who are here have been calling for justice for 22 years, holding onto the sad reality that there is not even one detainee. But we will continue to ask for justice — do not forget that — we will continue to ask for justice,” Saieg said.

Prosecutors have accused Iranian officials of being behind the bombing, but no one has been convicted in the attack, which many Argentines believe has come to symbolize an inept and corrupt justice system.

A “truth commission” deal with Iran was denounced by Israel and world Jewish groups, who called it a diplomatic win for Tehran that offered no benefit to Argentina. The deal, which was struck down by a federal court, would have let Iran review Argentina’s investigation into the bombing.

During the ceremony, some also called for answers in the mysterious death of the leading prosecutor investigating the case. Alberto Nisman was found dead in his apartment on Jan. 18, 2015 with a .22-caliber pistol by his side, one day before he was due to present his case to Argentina’s Congress.

Nisman was scheduled to present allegations that then-President Cristina Fernandez orchestrated a secret deal to cover up Iranian officials’ alleged role in the attack. Fernandez denied the allegations, and judges later threw out the case.

In 2006, an official Argentine government report prepared by Nisman identified Iranian and Hezbollah figures as responsible for the attack. Interpol issued red notices for the capture of six suspects, including Ahmad Vahidi, a former Iranian Defense Minister.

Iran is literally getting away with murder, as well as hostage-taking, blackmail and terrorism. And the craven West together with corrupt politicians and officials, are enabling and empowering it all. For shame!

Posted in Defence and Military, International relations, Iran | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Breaking the Silence – exposed for their lies

I previously posted about the lies of Breaking the Silence and their treasonous activities in “fishing” for classified information for their own nefarious purposes.  Now Israel’s Channel 10 TV, itself a bastion of leftist  bias, has aired an investigative report on the organization which Matan Katzman, founder of the My Truth organization dedicated to debunking BtS’s lies, praises as comprehensive and meticulous:

Last Tuesday, the award-winning investigative Channel 10 TV show, HaMakor (The Source), aired an hour-long report on Breaking the Silence (BTS), an Israeli NGO which has come under sustained criticism over the last year. The report was comprehensive, meticulous and I highly recommend watching it in order to truly understand how Breaking the Silence works. Although the reporters’ sympathy towards the work of Breaking the Silence and their importance in Israeli society was clear (as one of the reporters, Itay Yarom openly mentioned on his personal Facebook page), the report raises a number of indisputable conclusions regarding Breaking the Silence:

A substantial number of Breaking the Silence testimonies are not true or are distorted

The report shattered the most powerful card BTS has: Its credibility. Two myths regarding Breaking the Silence were ‘busted’ in an indisputable manner:

The first myth Breaking the Silence likes to propagate is that “none of our testimonies have ever been refuted”. For over a decade since being founded, BTS has declined to disclose its sources. However, HaMakor reporters were given unprecedented access to the “Holy Grail”, BTS’s testimony sources. What the investigative team found deserves to be noted by anyone taking an interest in the moral state of the IDF – the report explicitly stated that Breaking the Silence publishes inaccurate and false testimonies.

Screenshot from Channel 10 TV: Graph showing the number of untruths in Breaking the Silence reports

The second myth that Breaking the Silences attempts to sell is that Breaking the Silence testimonies are cross-referenced with two sources. The reporters found that in several testimonies there is no evidence of two sources. Even Raviv Drucker, the journalist who established HaMakor and is known for his left wing leanings, could not hide his disappointment at the poor level of investigation in BTS’s work. In response, Breaking the Silence’s CEO Yuli Novak responded that “we are not an investigative body and we do not claim to be one”. This is quite disturbing, as Breaking the Silence testimonies were widely used in the work of official international investigative bodies such as the UN Independent Commission of Inquiry on the 2014 Gaza Conflict (which released the so called ”Schabas” report on Gaza). Testimonies provided by Breaking the Silence appeared 32 times in the UN report’s footnotes.

In its early stages, why did Breaking the Silence turn to audiences outside of Israel?

Breaking the Silence claims to stimulate public debate in Israel and expose the Israeli public to the reality of everyday life in the West Bank. If so, of what relevance is their work overseas?

When asked why they turn to non Israeli audiences they answer that “The Occupation is not an internal Israeli Issue and should be discussed overseas”.

In fact, in 2004, a few months after the organization was founded, two of four Breaking the Silence founders left the organization after it began to appeal to non-Jewish audiences overseas. When one of the HaMakor reporters asked one of the founders why he left, the latter, replied: “when you speak abroad, the money comes with it… There was a dependency between going abroad and the budget of the. … I guess what stood before their eyes was that with more money they could create a larger effect”.

Read Katzman’s whole article. I’m sure your blood will be boiling at the end.

Gidon Shaviv of CAMERA, writing in UK Media Watch, also comments on the Channel 10 report, concluding:

In an Op-Ed in the Israeli Walla news site, Goren and Rom argued that while they did not think BtS was intentionally lying, the organization’s vetting process was “superficial and not strict enough.” In their opinion, BtS would be more credible were it present the soldiers’ accounts as testimonies for the public to debate and raw material for journalists to investigate, as opposed to verified actual events.

Matan Katzman’s conclusion was more pertinent in my opinion:

To be clear, if Breaking the Silence wants us to take its testimonies seriously, it’s time it steps up its investigative work and reliability. Until then, it should be described for what it is — propaganda.

Posted in Boycotts and BDS, Defence and Military, Incitement, Lawfare and Delegitimization | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

A win and a loss in Israeli counter-terrorism

Yesterday Israel saw two dramatic terror incidents either thwarted or failed – both of which ended without incident but which had huge potential for disaster.

The first incident was an attempted bombing of the Jerusalem Light Rail. The Times of Israel reported the drama as it unfolded:

Police in downtown Jerusalem on Sunday morning arrested a man who was carrying explosives in his backpack.

The suspect, identified as a West Bank Palestinian, was detained near the light rail stop on Jaffa Road after he raised the suspicion of a security guard.

Jerusalem Light Rail

Police said the man was standing “behind the stop, with a bag in his hand.” When the guard asked to examine the contents of the bag, he noticed a bomb and called police.

Sappers were promptly deployed to the scene and the road was closed off, along with the adjacent King George Street.

Police said the man was found to be carrying “a number of pipe bombs” and had been arrested and taken in for questioning. A later police statement said that sappers disarmed “three pipe bombs wired together.” Mobile phones and knives were also in the backpack.

A video from the scene showed police pointing their guns at the suspect, who lay on the ground near the train stop. A second clip showed sappers strip-searching him, apparently for explosives.

Here the security guard explains how he spotted the suspect (Hebrew only):

You can read the English translation of the guard’s words here:

“As I’m watching the entrance to the train, I saw a man wearing a hat, glasses, a knapsack on his back, leaning on the wall and he’s scanning the train station left and right.

I approached the man, and questioned him, I said something wasn’t right.

I asked him to put down his knapsack.

He refused.

I immediately spun the man around, using reasonable force, I placed him against the wall, and checked him.

I took the knapsack off him, and saw a small bag inside. I lifted the bag up and saw the bomb.

I immediately knocked him down onto the ground.

Truly a hero.

The Roths at This Ongoing War made the very relevant remark that:

Assuming he’s convicted, this morning’s thwarted human bomb starts earning Rewards for Terror cash from the Palestinian Authority via its malevolent, ever-so-slightly-disguised prisoner payments authority. The funding all comes from European and American foreign aid to the Palestinian Authority, as government officials of all the relevant countries know well – but in large measure deny.

As for the man in underwear in the photo above, today’s would-be human bomb, his financial future, and that of his dependents, is suddenly secure.

And on the other hand,

The alert security guy, by the way, is an Israeli Druze.

Which just goes to show that there is always another way. The Arab residents of Israel do indeed have moral agency and are perfectly capable of making the right choices. They do not have to turn to terrorism because “there is no other alternative”. If a Druze Israeli can choose to become a security guard and then thwart a catastrophic terror attack, there is no reason why a Palestinian cannot make the choice to not become such a terrorist in the first place.

Kol hakavod to the security guard who deserves all honour, and indeed a medal of valour for his vigilance and bravery.

Later on in the day however, Israel had less than spectacular success in trying to shoot down a drone that entered Israeli airspace from Syria, missing no less than 3 times!:

As well as the two Patriot surface-to-air missiles that were officially announced and clearly visible in the sky, a military official told Channel 2 television that a third attempt came from an air-to-air missile fired by an Israeli fighter jet.

According to the IDF, the origin of the drone wasn’t clear, but the army is trying to ascertain whether it had been sent by the Lebanon-based Hezbollah terror group, which is currently fighting alongside the forces of Syrian President Bashar Assad, Channel 2 television reported.

The army believes that the UAV was Russian-made, Channel 2 said.

Hezbollah-linked Lebanese fighter Anes al-Naqqash claimed on Twitter on Sunday that the drone had indeed been sent by his Shiite terror group, and said it had just begun photographing army maneuvers in the Golan when it was shot at and turned back. The tweet was flagged by Yossi Mansharof, an expert from the Ezri Center at the University of Haifa, who tracks Hezbollah movements.

The launches triggered air raid alarms across northern Israel. No rockets were known to have been fired into Israeli territory, however.

Israel has shot down drone and fighter aircraft that have flown near the border with Syria in the Golan Heights several times in recent years. The IDF downed a drone in August 2014 and a Syrian fighter aircraft in September of the same year.

Thank G-d there were no injuries and no damage caused by the drone – besides, that is, any photos that it might have managed to take before being shot at. However the failure of the IDF and IAF to shoot down the drone requires a thorough investigation. Was it merely incompetence, or was the drone equipped with some kind of stealth or other getaway technology? We cannot afford more failures like this.

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Attempted coup in Turkey – implications and aftermath

In the last 48 hours or so the world has gone madder than ever. Following the ISIS-inspired terrorist atrocity in Nice, we watched in shock and amazement as an attempted coup in Turkey unfolded (see the timeline at the link) – and collapsed – in front of our eyes, with a resultant death toll of around 300, and thousands of military personnel and judges (!) arrested.  Most unusually for a coup, Turkish President Erdogan called on the Turkish people to take to the streets to oppose the coup – via a Face Time phone call!

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan calls for counter-protests via Face Time

I won’t go over all the details here; you are sure to have heard or read about the failed coup in your news outlets. I just want to bring some interesting insights to your attention.

Since I’m in Israel, the most obvious angle for me is “is this good for the Jews?”, or more precisely in today’s circumstances, as the JPost puts it, “will the failed coup delay Israel-Turkey normalization?“, particularly since the ink has barely dried on the agreement  renewing ties between the two countries:

The Foreign Ministry issued a statement on Shabbat – something that it rarely does – that read: “Israel respects the democratic process in Turkey and looks forward to the continuation of the reconciliation process between Turkey and Israel.”

And that statement sums up Israel’s position succinctly: this is a domestic Turkish issue, and however the process plays out, Jerusalem’s hope is that the countries can go back to having normal relations – because it is in the interest of both countries to do so.

One of the points of business that is supposed to be moving forward in the coming days is the deal with Israel.

Turkey’s interest in rapprochement with Israel have not changed as a result of the attempted coup: Ankara will still want to improve its diplomatic position in the region; it will still want to cooperate with Israel on security and intelligence matters as much as possible; and it will still want to send supplies to Gaza and build a desalination plant and hospital there.

Israel’s interest in the accord have also not changed: Jerusalem still wants an open dialogue with Ankara on matters of critical interest regarding what is happening in Syria; it still wants to put an end to Turkish efforts to thwart Israeli inroads in international forums, such as NATO; and it still wants to be able to export gas to Europe through Turkey.

None of that has changed. The developments that took place inside Turkey were divorced from Turkey’s foreign policy, and have to do with fundamental domestic Turkish issues.

The question now is what type of Turkey will emerge. But whatever materializes, Israel’s position will remain the same: it wants normalized relations with one of the largest, most significant countries in the region.

The Times of Israel wonders at the timing of the coup – what pushed the putsch precisely now?:

In recent years, critics, foreign governments and Turkish citizens have expressed concerns about a steady decline into authoritarianism under Erdogan.

Although he won much praise in the first few years after becoming prime minister in 2003, since becoming Turkey’s first directly elected president in August 2014 Erdogan has been accused of dictatorial ambitions.

Erdogan wants to change Turkey’s constitution, which was installed in 1980 following the last successful military coup, to adopt an American-style presidential system which would give him greater power.

According to Aykan Erdemir, senior fellow at Foundation for Defense of Democracies in Washington, the coup was a result of many factors including the military’s fear of the new system.

He explained that the reasons for the coup included “one of the latest developments [that] has been the bill redesigning the high courts as well as Erdogan’s refusal to be impartial.”

Why did the coup fail?

For Sinan Ulgen, director of the Edam think tank and visiting scholar at Carnegie Europe, this was not a coup by the full army as in previous cases, but undertaken by a clique who themselves held top general Hulusi Akar hostage.

“This was beyond the chain of command — a relatively small group in the army, who even hijacked the military top brass.

“It was not an operation designed by the army and it showed. Without the full support of the army, they lacked the assets and capabilities.”

This time the country put on more of a show of solidarity, with even the three opposition parties in parliament swiftly condemning the attempted putsch.

Political parties do not have “fond memories” of the previous coup d’etats given their bitter experiences under military rulers, said Erdemir.

Ulgen added: “When people realized it did not have backing of the army, it was easier to be against the coup.”

Indeed the sheer odds stacked against the coup spawned conspiracy theories with the hashtag #Darbedegiltiyatro (It’s not a coup it’s theater) trending on Twitter.

Natalie Martin, politics and international relations lecturer at Nottingham Trent University in Britain, said it appeared “almost meant to fail,” something which created suspicions.

“It is entirely possible it’s a false flag coup,” she said.

Consensus or crackdown?

Erdogan, a consummate political tactician, will sense the failed coup has created opportunities to tighten his control over Turkey but faces a critical choice.

“He can build on the fact that all parties got behind him and build an era of consensus or he can use this as an opportunity to consolidate his one-man rule,” said Erdemir.

The conspiracy theory that the coup was a false flag operation is floated by Fethullah Gullen himself, the man that Erdogan accused of orchestrating the attempted overthrow, and now living in exile in America:

A US-based Turkish cleric accused of plotting a coup to overthrow the Ankara government has claimed President Recep Erdogan staged the rebellion himself to justify a major clampdown on opposition forces. 

Fethullah Gullen

Fethullah Gulen, who was a former key ally of Erdogan has been blamed by the politician of using his contacts to develop a ‘parallel structure’ to overthrow the state.

In a statement, Gulen said he condemned, ‘in the strongest terms, the attempted military coup in Turkey.’

He said: ‘Government should be won through a process of free and fair elections, not force,” he said. “I pray to God for Turkey, for Turkish citizens, and for all those currently in Turkey that this situation is resolved peacefully and quickly.’

Gulen sharply rejected any responsibility: ‘As someone who suffered under multiple military coups during the past five decades, it is especially insulting to be accused of having any link to such an attempt. I categorically deny such accusations.’

In an incredibly rare interview, Gulen said he would never return to Turkey because he would fear being ‘persecuted and harassed’.

Putting the coup into some kind of order for us, here is veteran journalist Tim Marshall on Sky News:

And as a finale to this rather confusing story, here is a selection of tweets which shed light on different aspects and implications of the attempted coup and the surrounding incidents:

Here we have the Divine Intervention angle:

For now, things seem to be settling back down again in Turkey, for better or for worse one cannot say as yet. The number of arrested has risen to over 6,000 as Erdogan considers the death penalty for the putschists, while Israel-Turkey ties are holding as Turkey expressed its appreciation for Israel’s support. (I have to admit that leaves a bad taste in my mouth, but I suppose it is for the good of the country so I will have to swallow that “appreciation”. It doesn’t mean I have to like it though).

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