Friday, June 17, 2016

Palestinian Children of Graft

Tareq Abbas, son of Mahmoud Abbas

Yasser Abbas, son of Mahmoud Abbas. 
Yasser was named after...well you know that already

Abbas' Sons Must Be Excellent Busienssmen - Clayton Swisher

Tareq Abbas, the son of the Palestinian Authority president, is said to own villas in Amman, Jordan, and a rooftop pad in Beirut, Lebanon. And according to official British Land Registry records from 2012, Tareq registered a $1.5 million luxury flat in Merchant Square East, a high-end London development. Tareq's flat has stayed largely unoccupied since he bought it, which seems to indicate that he does not need the rental income.

The president's eldest son, Yasser, made his fortune from the monopoly sale of U.S.-made cigarettes in the PA. 

Their financial blessings are merely the result of being "Grade A businessmen," Yasser once remarked.
(Al Jazeera)

Palestinians Safer than Muslims Anywhere in MidEast - Sean Durns

Bassem Eid, a veteran Palestinian Arab human rights activist,noted that the PA has received "billions in aid" from the international community, including the U.S., but the authority has "failed to create jobs for Palestinians." He called corruption among the Palestinian leadership "big and wide." "If you ask Palestinians who Abbas represents, they would say himself, 'his wife and two sons.'"

Eid added that if a Palestinian state were to come into being, the current state of Palestinian politics in Gaza and the West Bank would suggest that such a state would be repressive and undemocratic. Eid pointed out that "as a Muslim, as an Arab," he is safer in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict than anywhere else in the Middle East. 

Ramallah house of Palestinian businessman Mohamed Abdel-Hadi

Anarchy Returns to the West Bank - Khaled Abu Toameh

A quick chat with young Palestinians, including Fatah members, in any refugee camp in the West Bank will reveal that the PA seems as much the enemy as Israel. They speak of the PA as a corrupt and incompetent body that is managed by "mafia leaders." Many activists believe it is only a matter of time before Palestinians launch an intifada against the PA.

Hassan Abu Ayyash, a Fatah activist from the Al-Amari camp near Ramallah, said the PA leadership is "getting hundreds of millions of dollars from the international community and distributing them among themselves and their sons. Look at all the big buildings and fancy restaurants and bars in Ramallah. Where do they get all the money to purchase expensive cars?" 
(Gatestone Institute)

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Reflections on Orlando

Wolf Dens, Not Lone Wolves - Joseph Ax 

A Reuters review of the 90 Islamic State court cases brought by the Department of Justice since 2014 found that 3/4 of those charged were not isolated individuals but rather part of a group of 2-10 co-conspirators who met in person to discuss their plans.

Even the isolated individuals were almost always in contact with other sympathizers, whether via text message, email or networking websites. Fewer than 10 cases involved someone acting entirely alone.      

Islamic State: Inspiring Attacks Abroad - Greg Miller

In its early expansion phase, the Islamic State called on Muslims across the world to join its ranks in Syria, to take part in the historic restoration of the caliphate. Now, Islamic State spokesman Abu Muhammad al-Adnani said in a recording issued May 21, don't bother coming to Syria because "the smallest action you do in their heartland is better and more enduring to us than what you would do if you were with us." Those inside the caliphate's borders "wish we were in your place to punish the crusaders day and night."

The devastation in Orlando represents a danger that many U.S. counterterrorism officials warn will be harder to contain than the Islamic State's aspirations for an extremist haven in the Middle East. CIA Director John Brennan told al-Arabiya just days before the shooting in Orlando, "Countries around the world are having to be concerned about the potential for individuals or groups of individuals to act on their own, without the direct contact with organized terrorists or groups." The shooting in Orlando is the deadliest example to date of the terrorism model Brennan described.

Counterterrorism experts believe that the Islamic State may only be in the early stages of demonstrating its ability to incite a kind of violence that doesn't require penetrating the post-9/11 defenses of the U.S. 
(Washington Post)

Welcome to Israel's Reality - David French

America is slowly moving into Israel's security reality - the dilemma where external power projection leads to domestic discord and international condemnation, while a purely defensive strategy allows terrorists to recruit, re-arm, and inspire a new wave of jihadists. Israel's answer is a permanent defensive struggle punctuated by periodic bursts of offensive activity - all of which help keep life in Israel livable and peaceful for the vast majority of its citizens, but at great cost.

Americans hate the notion that there are no good answers to jihad. Something has to work. But reality is showing us what a permanent struggle looks like.
Here's the bottom line - in the absence of an effective offense, our defensive challenge will grow more difficult. But because there is no way to [fully] eradicate jihadist theology from Islam, defense will always be necessary.

Welcome to the permanent war. Israel's been here for a while
(National Review)

Lessons of Orlando - Thomas L. Friedman

[W]e're just waiting around for the next Paris, Brussels, San Bernardino or Orlando.

And the only thing that can stop them is from the inside: a meaningful mass movement by Muslim governments, clergymen and citizens to delegitimize this behavior
(New York Times)

For the official ISIS video celebrating the Orlando attack, click HERE


The Media's Apologetic Coverage of Islamic Terror - Tarek Fatah

The question is this: Should we fear Islamophobia or Islamofascism?
In the meantime, a jihadist newspaper in Pakistan carried this as its front-page headline: "Afghan youth roasts 50 Americans."
[The Toronto Sun]

Orlando Shooting Shows How ISIS Calls the Shots - Robert Pape

ISIS is creating a new role for itself as the producer of terror who attracts the right cast, provides a rough draft of the script, and ensures publicity after the fact.

That Omar Mateen was able to gather the necessary tactical knowledge to carry out this complicated act of terror shows that inspired attacks can now be as deadly as directed ones, and that the online reach of ISIS is a true game changer. ISIS has found a way to bring the fight to us.
The writer is director of the University of Chicago Project on Security and Terrorism. 
(Boston Globe)

Monday, June 13, 2016

Jihad & A Disney-like Illusion

Jihad in Orlando - Editorial

A young American Muslim pledging allegiance to Islamic State is now responsible for the largest mass shooting in U.S. history. 

Can we finally drop the illusion that the jihadist fires that burn in the Middle East don't pose an urgent and deadly threat to the American homeland? The killer was heard shouting "allahu Akbar" (God is great) as he fired away.
[T]he only real solution is to destroy Islamic State in its havens abroad so young Muslims around the world won't see it as the vanguard of the future. 
(Wall Street Journal)


How Many Bodies Will it Take? - Phyllis Chesler, PhD

How many bodies will it take for Americans, especially the intelligentsia, including the feminists, including gay people, including our elected officials, before they understand that we: (the West, America, Jews, Christians, Hindus, Muslim and ex-Muslim dissidents) have a very real enemy? It is radical Islam or Islamism, and it is not going away anytime soon.

Clearly, more than 3,000 bodies on 9/11 were not enough. Clearly, the many millions of Muslims murdered by Muslim Jihadists have not been enough. Will the murder of 49 gay Americans finally be “enough?” Somehow I doubt it but I certainly hope so.

How many deaths before we become effective in identifying potential Jihadists? Within our borders? Arriving as refugees and immigrants? How many deaths before we are willing to use the word “Muslim terrorist” without fearing we will be demonized for doing so?

The gay websites are more focused on general “hate” against gays and gun control than they are focused on the nature and the danger of radical Islam. The gay communities have been willing to march against Israel—but never against Jihad?

Long ago, Natan Sharansky asked me if I thought I could “turn the feminists, the leftists, the gays around.” I told him that I doubted it, but that I would try. Will these 49 dead and 53 wounded start that “turning?” We shall see.
[FrontPage Magazine]

Orlando Shooter Scouted Disney World in Search for Targets
- Pervaiz Shallwani

Omar Mateen had visited Walt Disney World while he was searching for targets, two officials said.  
(Wall Street Journal)

DHS Report: Don't Offend Muslims - Douglas Ernst

A report by the Homeland Security Advisory Council released days before the Islamic terror attack in Orlando, Florida, stressed the importance of combating extremism by avoiding terms that might offend Muslims.

A HSAC subcommittee first created by DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson in 2015 published its report on June 9.
Some instructions found in the report include:

  • Officials should not use the word “jihad.”
  • Officials should not use the word “sharia.”
  • Officials should not use the word “takfir,” which is done when one Muslim accuses another of apostasy.
  • Officials are instructed to “reject religiously-charged terminology and problematic positioning by using plain meaning American English.”
[Washington Times]
For the official ISIS video celebrating the Orlando attack, click HERE

Friday, June 10, 2016


A most significant news item is being missed by almost all news services. Saudi Arabia has condemned this week's terror attack in Tel Aviv! Headlines should be blaring: 
The ramifications of this should not be underestimated.


Palestinians in the West Bank and east Jerusalem took to the streets to celebrate the terrorist shooting in Tel Aviv on Wednesday night that left four Israelis dead. Dozens of Palestinians gathered at Damascus Gate in the Old City of Jerusalem, singing and cheering. In the West Bank city of Tulkarm, young men distributed candies to the local drivers, while in the Dheisheh refugee camp in Bethlehem dozens of Palestinians participated in a march praising the attack. Palestinians also expressed their joy on social media networks.
In contrast, the official Saudi media strongly denounced the Tel Aviv attack. The Saudi TV channel al-Arabiya referred to the people injured in the attack as "victims," and not as "settlers," as most Arab outlets usually refer to Israelis. Dahham al-Enazi, a member of the Saudi Journalists Association, tweeted: "The Tel Aviv attack is terror and thuggery. Our solidarity and support for the Palestinian people does not mean that we accept the killing of innocents and civilians. We would like to extend our condolences to the families of the victims."  
(Jerusalem Post)

Egyptian journalist Bothaina Kamel, who tried unsuccessfully to compete in Egypt's 2011 presidential elections, condemned Wednesday's terror attack in Tel Aviv in a series of tweets.

Kamel called the action of the two Palestinian gunmen who killed four Israelis at a restaurant a crime and wrote: "What's heroic about entering a restaurant and shooting people who are dining there?"

Thursday, June 09, 2016

Warm MidEast Peace: The New Regional Order

Egyptians Begin to Envision Warmer Relations with Israel
- Ofir Winter

  • A string of statements by current and former senior Egyptian state and military officials and independent publicists have appeared recently in the Egyptian press, calling for a reassessment, under certain conditions, of the traditional reservations regarding the "temperature" of the country's relations with Israel.
  • Egypt's openness to eventual "warm" peace with Israel emerges in a new geopolitical context. Normalization is no longer presented only as bait aimed at Israel but rather reflects Egypt's genuine interests and those of other Arab countries in creating a "new regional order" that will include broader and more open cooperative efforts with Israel for the sake of security stability and economic welfare in the region.
  • "Warm" peace with Israel during the current period is actually meant to fill the vacuum left by the reduction of U.S. involvement in the region. It aims at establishing a new regional axis in which Egypt, the Gulf states, and Israel will join forces.
  • May Azzam, who published a series of articles in al-Masry al-Youm under the title "Are the Arabs Ready for Warm Peace?," noted that the Palestinian problem no longer heads the Arab public agenda; an Israeli withdrawal from the Golan Heights is not currently a relevant prospect, in light of the war in Syria; and the "resistance" organizations of Hizbullah and Hamas are considered by some Arab states to be outcast terrorist groups.
  • According to Azzam, "most of the Arab governments already do not regard Israel as their most bitter enemy and rank other countries ahead of it on the hostility and hatred scale." She pointed to the Egyptian necessity for promoting "a turnover in the principles on which we were educated and that became part of our fundamental concepts."
  • Another columnist in al-Masry al-Youm, writing under the pseudonym "Newton," stated that after decades of living side-by-side with Israel, the time has come for Egypt to update its "operative program" to enable it to reap the fruits of peace between the two countries. In his view, the new security understandings between Egypt and Israel regarding the deployment of forces in the Sinai Peninsula have proven "the existence of mutual trust and the coordination that serves the interests of both countries."
  • (Institute for National Security Studies)


    Arab Peace Initiative Is Negotiable, Saudi Arabia and Jordan Say
    - Pinhas Inbari 

    At a meeting in Amman, Jordanian King Abdullah told Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas that Saudi Arabia wants to make changes in the Arab Peace Initiative so that Israel could accept it, Palestinian sources said. 
    (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

    Tuesday, June 07, 2016

    Exploding the Palestinian Narrative

    Who Are Palestinian Arabs? - Yoram Ettinger

    Contrary to conventional wisdom, most Arabs in British Mandate Palestine - and most of the 320,000 1948 Arab refugees - were migrant workers and descendants of 1831-1947 Muslim immigrants from across the Arab world.

    Thus, between 1880 and 1919, Haifa's Arab population surged from 6,000 to 80,000, mostly due to migrant workers.

    The eruption of World War II accelerated the demand for Arab manpower by the British Mandate's military and its civilian authorities.  Arab migrant workers were imported by the Ottoman Empire, and then by the British Mandate, to work on major civilian and military infrastructure projects.

    Legal and illegal Arab migrants were also attracted by economic growth generated by the Jewish community starting in 1882.

    Th[e] unusual Arab/Muslim demographic diversity is evidenced by popular Israeli Arab family names, which are a derivative of their countries of origin: Al-Masri (Egypt), Al-Obeidi (Sudan), Al-Lubnani (Lebanon), Halabi (Syria), Al-Mughrabi (Morocco), Al-Djazair (Algeria), Al-Yamani (Yemen), Al-Afghani (Afghanistan), Al-Hindi (India), Al-Hijazi (Saudi Arabia), Al-Baghdadi (Iraq), Bushnak (Bosnia), Khamis (Bahrain), Turki (Turkey), etc.

    Thus, Arabs have not been in the Land of Israel from time immemorial; no Palestinian people was ever robbed of its land; and most of the initial Arab refugees were created by the 1948 Arab invasion of Israel and their own collaboration with the invasion.
    [Israel Hayom]

    Thursday, June 02, 2016

    VideoBite: It's the Jihad Stupid

    One of the most poignant videos in recent memory. 
    Connects the jihad dots well. 
    - Daniel Douek 
    Top Islamic State commander in Sinai Shadi al-Menii met with Hamas officials in Gaza to discuss cooperation, Israel's Channel 2 reported.

    Al-Menii fled to Gaza in May 2015 after his organization attacked an Egyptian military base and killed a soldier.  Al-Menii's branch of ISIS in Sinai helped Hamas smuggle arms into the strip via tunnels in return for sophisticated weapons. 
    (Times of Israel)

    Dalai Lama on Refugees

    Dalai Lama: Europe Has Let In 'Too Many' Refugees -

    The Dalai Lama thinks Europe has let in "too many" refugees. The Tibetan spiritual leader said that "we feel the misery" of each individual refugee and that humans have a "responsibility to help" — but that there are "too many" who have been accepted in Europe.

    "Europe, for example Germany, cannot become an Arab country. Germany is Germany," he laughed in an interview published Tuesday with Germany's Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper. "There are so many."

    The Dalai Lama said that "from a moral standpoint" he thinks refugees should "only be accommodated temporarily" — with the goal of them returning home to rebuild their countries.
    Germany took in over 1 million refugees last year from war-torn countries such as Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan over the past year.
    [NBC News]

    Bernard Lewis on Iran

     To celebrate the 100th birthday of Dr. Bernard Lewis, the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs posted this excellent video from 2009

    Tuesday, May 31, 2016

    Israel & Saudi Arabia Continue Public Flirting

    Surprise Move: Netanyahu will Negotiate based on Saudi Peace Initiative
    - Gil Hoffman

    Israel is prepared to hold peace talks based on the Arab Peace Initiative, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu surprisingly declared just moments after new Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman took the oath of office, ending a month-long saga over which party would join Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government.

    “I remain committed to making peace with the Palestinians and with all our neighbors,” Netanyahu said in a press conference following the swearing- in ceremony. “The Arab peace initiative includes positive elements that can help revive constructive negotiations with the Palestinians."

    “We are willing to negotiate with the Arab states revisions to that initiative so that it reflects the dramatic changes in the region since 2002, but maintains the agreed goal of two states for two peoples.”

    The controversial Arab Peace Initiative – long rejected by Jerusalem and also known as the Saudi Initiative – calls for normalizing relations between Arab countries and Israel, in exchange for a complete withdrawal by Israel to pre-1967 lines and a solution to the Palestinian refugee problem.

    The Jerusalem Post has learned that Likud MK Tzachi Hanegbi, who was sworn in as minister-without-portfolio in the Prime Minister’s Office and will deal with foreign affairs and defense issues, will be involved in new regional diplomatic initiatives Netanyahu intends to advance in coming weeks. He is the Likud’s most dovish minister.

    Netanyahu also praised Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi’s offer to advance peace and security in the region. Liberman, who has been critical of Egypt in the past, said he agreed with Netanyahu’s statements, including about the Arab peace plan and reiterated Yisrael Beytenu’s long-standing support for a two-state solution.

    [Jerusalem Post]

    Normalization Would Be A 'Stab in the Back'

    Hazem Abu Shanab, a senior member of Fatah's Revolutionary Council, added that normalization of relations between Israel and Arab states at this time would be a "stab in the back" for the Palestinians.
    (Egypt Independent)
    Note: for context, please consider viewing a prior post HERE


    Saudi Arabia Expands Its Anti-Iran Strategy - Angus McDowall

    Under King Salman, Saudi Arabia is expanding its confrontation with Iran to Africa, Asia and Latin America, no longer relying on Western allies to smother Tehran's ambitions outside the Arab world. The Saudis are using Muslim networks to push states into cutting off contacts with Iran, including by creating an Islamic Coalition against terrorism last November.
    Some African countries have followed many Arab League states in recent months in cutting diplomatic ties with Iran. In January, Sudan cut off ties with Tehran, followed by Djibouti and Somalia. 

    Palestinian Activist Complains: Official Arab Normalization with Israel Has Reached Critical Proportions

    BDS activist Omar Barghouti told the Lebanese channel Palestine Today TV on April 10: 

    "Unfortunately, the official Arab and even Palestinian normalization [with Israel] is on the rise. We hold the official Palestinian circles primarily responsible for this, because they are the gateway to Arab-Israeli normalization. If official Palestinian normalization had not reached this level, nobody would have dared to host Israeli delegations in Saudi Arabia, sports delegations in Qatar, trade delegations in the UAE, and delegations in Bahrain, Morocco, and so on. Official Arab normalization has reached critical proportions." 

    Islamic Fear of Zionism Is Irrational - Adnan Oktar

    When the Arab-Muslim world recognizes Israel's right to exist as an independent and sovereign state, the century-long bloodshed will cease. Moreover, once the Arab world decides to acknowledge Israel as a neighbor, it can focus on developing the well-being of the Palestinian people, and of the other Arab peoples doing far less well than the Palestinians, too.
    (Jerusalem Post)

    Friday, May 27, 2016

    Son of Hamas Addresses Jewish Audience


    A controversial and moving 19 minute talk by Mosab Hassan Yousef,
    a son of a Hamas leader turned Arab Zionist
    Mosab Hassan Yousef – the “Green Prince” – who worked as an Israeli spy, said “the Jewish nation is dear to me and when I see nations fighting against the Jewish people it hurts me.”
    Speaking at The Jerusalem Post’s annual conference in New York, Yousef noted that at one point he was working for and being paid by Israel, the US, the PA and Hamas, all at the same time.

    Yousef, the son of West Bank Hamas leader Sheikh Hassan Yousef, helped the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) thwart attacks from 1997 to 2007. He later went on to write an autobiography published in 2010 titled Son of Hamas.

    He converted to Christianity and fled to the US where he was granted political asylum.
    [Jerusalem Post]

    Thursday, May 26, 2016

    Digital Profiling: Radical Solution to Identifying Terrorists

    Israeli Start-Up Claims It Can Identify Terrorists by Looking at Their Face
    - Simon Tomlinson

    Faception, an Israeli start-up, says its technology can spot character traits that are undetectable to the naked eye, and can identify terrorists, pedophiles and ace poker players simply by looking at their face.

    The company claims its software classified 9 of the 11 Paris massacre jihadists as terrorists from their facial features. Shai Gilboa, Faception chief executive, said the firm has developed a database of 15 classifiers which are used to determine personality traits with 80% accuracy. 
    (Daily Mail-UK)

    Israeli Start-Up Says It Can Out Secrets by Analyzing Faces
    - Matt McFarland

    At a recent poker tournament, Faception predicted which four players out of the 50 amateurs would be the best by analyzing their photos. Two of those four were among the event's three finalists. 

    (Washington Post)

    Monday, May 23, 2016

    Laughing at ISIS

    An excellent satirical mocking of ISIS
    Humor and ISIS - A.J. Caschetta
    To date, the best example of satire targeting the Islamic State came from one particularly brave Kurdish comedy group in a skit that aired on KurdSat TV in 2014.

    The musical skit features five comedians with fake beards and Islamic State regalia pretending to be Islamic State fighters, singing their anthem and strumming their Kalashnikovs like guitars. The song parodies the Islamic State with acerbic wit in the tradition of Pope and Fielding, portraying its members as hypocrites who "strive for jihad and sex." The "brainless" Islamic State members sing "We are bearded, dirty and filthy," "Our leader is called qaqa," and "We hate the smell of nice mint." The group's atavism is mocked with "We bring history to the present" and "we scare women and children."

    Not only does their parody make Westerners laugh but it also targets prospective Islamic State recruits.

    The song's choral refrain is one of the most trenchant insults in the history of satire: "We are ISIS. We are ISIS. / We milk the goat even if it's male."

    Using humor against the Islamic State and all variants of Islamism is worth trying.
    [The Sun-Sentinel]

    Friday, May 20, 2016

    What Starts in Israel, Spreads to the West

    from INSPIRE Magazine

    Al-Qaeda magazine calls for stabbing attacks in US

    An online magazine published by Al-Qaeda’s main affiliate urges stabbing attacks on Americans, following the wave of incidents in Israel. It also says damage to US economy could be inflicted via killings of businessmen and entrepreneurs in their homes. 
    The article titled ‘O Knife Revolution, Head Towards America’ published in the Inspire magazine invites “zealous Muslims in America who clearly see their Muslim brothers in Palestine being tortured” to carry out terrorist attacks on the American soil, as quoted by Vocativ.

    The magazine says it is the “duty” of each Muslim to “spread this revolt to the throats of Americans in their very own homes.”

    Israel has seen a surge in street violence since October with ‘stabbing attacks’ claiming 28 lives. At the same time, security forces killed 133 Palestinians who they said were assailants, according to Reuters.

    The article also calls for “professional assassinations” and “home assassinations” of renowned American businessmen and entrepreneurs.

    Thursday, May 19, 2016

    The Future of MidEast Peace Lies with Arab Partners

    For MidEast Peace, Look to Israel's Arab Partners - John Hannah
    • It's virtually impossible to imagine Israel and the Palestinians conducting fruitful negotiations under the current circumstances. Mistrust is at an all-time high. Gaps on the core issues are wide. Talks have been in deep freeze for over two years. For months on end, young Palestinians have targeted innocent Israelis in a wave of random stabbings.
    • The Palestinian leadership seems weaker, more divided, and more paralyzed than ever, utterly incapable of taking on the compromises that even the most generous peace offer would require.
    • If outside intervention to impose a deal rewards the Palestinians' refusal to negotiate, what incentive would they have to return to the table, rather than merely sit back and wait for even greater international pressure to be brought on Israel?
    • President Obama might more productively direct his energies during his waning months in office to the slightly more auspicious diplomatic ground of Israel's thickening links with a handful of key Arab states.
    • Unfortunately, Israeli officials complain that the U.S. remains far too focused on the Palestinian issue, while missing entirely the historic opportunity to advance relations between Israel and the Arab states. That's the real peace process play that America should be pursuing.

      The writer is a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.
    (Foreign Policy)


    Arab States Willing to Amend 2002 Saudi Peace Initiative
    - Daniel Siryoti

    [A] Channel 10 report said Arab countries have indicated that some of the clauses in the Saudi initiative [were] open to negotiation include demands that Israel withdraw from the Golan Heights and grant Palestinian refugees a "right of return."  

    (Israel Hayom)

    Israel, Egypt Nearing Compromise - David Wainer

    Israel may agree to settle for half of the $1.73 billion fine Egypt was ordered to pay it so talks on exporting Israeli offshore gas there can go ahead, people familiar with the negotiations said. Payments would be spread over 14 years. An international arbitration court in December ordered Egypt to pay Israel damages for violating a contract to supply Israel Electric with Egyptian gas.

    Israel's willingness to compromise on the fine reflects the tight cooperation between the countries since Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi became Egypt's defense minister in 2012, then president in 2014. Egypt exported natural gas to Israel until it canceled the agreement in 2012 as its wells became depleted and the pipeline carrying it came under repeated sabotage. 

    A Note of Optimism for Israel's Future - Yossi Melman

    Iran's Sunni Arab enemies have turned to Israel, which is reaching out with secret military and intelligence deals to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
    The writer was a senior correspondent for 27 years on national security, intelligence and strategic issues at the Israeli daily Ha'aretz.

    (Jerusalem Post)

    Monday, May 16, 2016

    Obama Stretching His Red Line Again: More Use of Chemical Weapons

    Can Assad Keep Crossing the "Red Line"? - David Ignatius

    The Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz, apparently relying on a government source, reported May 2 that Assad's forces used sarin gas last month against Islamic State fighters after they attacked two Syrian air force bases east of Damascus.

    Stockpiles of this deadly gas were supposed to have been removed from Syria in 2014.

    "With the continuation of fighting in Syria, it is reasonable to assume that the regime won't hesitate to use these weapons again, especially after already having done so...without any reaction," an Israeli source told me.

    Are Obama and Putin ready to tolerate a situation in which the use of chemical weapons is seen as "normal," despite a Russian-American agreement that they should be banned?
    (Washington Post)

    Thursday, May 12, 2016

    Kurdish Independence Coming

    ‘This is our 1948’: Kurds close relationship with Jews and Israel
    -Seth Frantzman

    “Do you know why we like Israel?” “The help in the 1960s, when Israel supported Kurdish resistance?” I wondered.

    “That is a tiny reason,” said the major.

    “We had Jews in this region, in our communities and we say ‘blood is blood’ and it is something you cannot abandon. We have gone through the same things, both suffered a lot.”

    He pointed out that the Jewish people had suffered up until the foundation of Israel. “We have many of the same enemies around us and we are struggling for our state.”

    Elements of this story appeared in most conversations I had in Kurdistan, in northern Iraq, last year. Some men claimed to have Jewish cousins. They were eager to show photos of Jewish houses in Aqrah, where some peshmerga we met were from. In Amadiya there were stories of “holy Jewish graves” from times of old. In the town of Alqosh there is the grave of the Jewish prophet Nahum, which some Jewish groups have shown interest in helping preserve and encourage visits to.

    Hussein Yazdanpana, the leader of an Iranian Kurdish party that is in exile in Iraqi Kurdistan and has been fighting Islamic State, is enthusiastic about Kurdish-Jewish ties. Meeting him at a frontline observation post west of Kirkuk city, he spoke about the Holocaust and the shared suffering of Jews and Kurds as well as common values such as freedom and democracy.

    “I look forward to good relations with Israel and the Jewish people in which we fight terrorism together in this region.”

    In meeting throughout Kurdistan, the constant refrain is that the Kurds are today living in their [hoped for] independen[ce] year.

    While other nations in the world gained independence long ago, such as Israel in 1948, the Kurdish nation of 30 million is divided between Iran, Iraq, Turkey and Syria. In Iraq they are closest to a functioning independence state, running their own affairs with an autonomous government. In Iran they suffer under the Persian-speaking and Shi’a dominated regime. In Turkey, although Kurds have representation in parliament, the Turkish government has been fighting a war with Kurdish communist guerrillas from the PKK party since last year. Cities are under curfew and thousands have died.

    In Syria, the Kurdish areas have come under the control of the YPG, a left-leaning movement that has been the main force fighting ISIS. The Kurdish area of Syria has suffered greatly, with cities like Kobani in ruins and although it wants an autonomous, federal structure after the war, no one is supporting its desires.

    This mutual interest between Israel and Kurdistan is unique in the region.

    In many countries, such as Morocco or Egypt, even depicting Jewish history in the country is seen as controversial.

    In contrast, in Erbil you can buy books in Kurdish about Golda Meir and about the history of Kurdish Jews.

    In the Kurdish regions of Iraq, much of the talk today is about a referendum and eventual independence. The war with Islamic State is grinding on and Kurds have successfully pushed back the extremists and gained key allies, not only among Western powers, but also in Turkey and Saudi Arabia, countries usually hostile to Kurdish interests.

    Israel, which has had a close clandestine relationship with Kurdish groups that dates to the 1960s, has generally been supportive of Kurdish rights. In January, Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked expressed support for Kurdish independence.

    In a 2014 speech to the Institute for National Security Studies Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that Kurdistan was “worthy of statehood.” All of these developments in the last years point to an enduring bond between two Middle Eastern peoples that is growing and can be cultivated.

    [Jerusalem Post]

    Tuesday, May 03, 2016

    Muslim on Muslim Anti-Semitism

    Mehdi Hasan critiques UK Muslim community

    Anti-Semitism Infects the British Muslim Community - Mehdi Hasan

    There are thousands of mild-mannered and well-integrated British Muslims who harbor deeply anti-Semitic views. It pains me to admit this but anti-Semitism isn't just tolerated in some sections of the British Muslim community; it's routine and commonplace. It's our dirty little secret.

    I can't keep count of the number of Muslims I have come across - from close friends and relatives to perfect strangers - for whom weird and wacky anti-Semitic conspiracy theories are the default explanation.

    It is sheer hypocrisy for Muslims to complain of Islamophobia, and yet ignore the rampant anti-Semitism in our own backyard
    (New Statesman-UK)

    Monday, May 02, 2016

    Preventing Jewish Prayer

    Palestinians try to demolish part of Joseph's Tomb in October 2000.
    AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis

    Why Deny Jews the Right to Pray? - Jonathan S. Tobin

    In the West Bank city of Nablus, Arabs rioted on Thursday. Were they complaining about Jewish settlements or the lack of a Palestinian state? No. Their issue was the fact that a group of Jews had entered the city, and as is their right under agreements concluded with the Palestinian Authority, sought to pray at the Tomb of Joseph, an ancient Jewish site of worship.

    Palestinians threw rocks and burned tires. But Israeli troops defended the pilgrims and, thanks to the army’s efforts to prevent injuries on either side, no Palestinians were reported hurt. This wasn’t the first time Palestinians sought to prevent Jews from praying at the tomb. There was a similar incident in February. Prior to that, the tomb and the synagogue that encompasses it were burned last October as well as in 2000 in a bloody riot at the start of the second intifada.

    Why can’t the Palestinians accept the site of Jews praying at an ancient site? It has nothing to do with arguments about borders, settlements or statehood. It’s the same reason they treat Jewish prayer on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount — the holiest site in Judaism — to be a declaration of war on Islam. It’s a function of a narrative in which the presence of Jews in any part of the country is seen as offensive and a challenge to national pride. It’s also the reason why the Palestinians and their allies managed to get UNESCO to pass a resolution that denied any connection between the Temple Mount and the Western Wall and Judaism or the Jewish people.

    As Yossi Klein Halevi noted in an insightful article published last week in the Los Angeles Times, the whole point of this campaign is to deny Jews not only a state but also the right to their own history and faith. [Their] purpose [is to] deny Jews rights in Jerusalem, Nablus or anywhere in the holy land, [and] to erase the entire Jewish story.

    They do it because only by denying the narrative of Jewish history that validates the rights of Jews to sovereignty in their ancient homeland can you achieve their goal of delegitimizing the modern state of Israel. If you accomplish that goal, you can not only convince a credulous world that a democratic Jewish majority nation is an “apartheid state,” but also deny Jews self-defense and allow hate-driven terrorists to be glorified as heroes and martyrs fighting for human rights.

    One doesn’t have to agree with Jewish settlements or even think it wise for Jews to want to pray on the Temple Mount or even at a shrine inside an Arab city like Nablus to understand that defending those rights involves more than just religious issues or the desires of some to act in a manner that some think is provocative.

    The current Palestinian campaign of hate has its origins in canards about Jews harming Muslim holy sites but what is at stake is not a question of defending mosques but denying the Jewish connection to Jerusalem or any spot in Israel as well as the West Bank.

    Liberals who sympathize with Israel wish that Jews would stop praying in Nablus and shut up about the Temple Mount, just as they would like to see West Bank settlements removed. But the Palestinian goal isn’t different rules for prayer at holy places or even a state with a border that might conform to the pre-June 1967 reality when Jews were denied the right to pray at the Western Wall. It is, as both Hamas and PA leader Mahmoud Abbas have both said, reversing the “occupation” that began in 1948, not 1967.

    Keeping the peace in Jerusalem and Nablus is a serious problem and Israeli authorities are working to do just that even if it means adhering to rules that discriminate against Jews like the prayer ban Israel enforces on the Temple Mount.

    But as the UNESCO vote and the Nablus riots remind us, the issue isn’t where Jews may pray. It’s whether Jews have any rights at all. And that is a fight from which all decent persons who claim to oppose anti-Semitism should not shrink from.
    [Commentary Magazine]

    Wednesday, April 20, 2016

    Biden Shows Teeth Toward Israel

    Biden's Assault on Israel - Elliott Abrams

    On the same day that a bomb injured 21 people in a bus in Jerusalem, Vice President Joe Biden addressed J Street with a rhetorical attack on the government of Israel. President Obama is about to join a GCC summit in Saudi Arabia. Does Biden really think the Arabs pay no attention to how we treat our closest friends and allies? Does he not know that they will read all of this and wonder when they will be getting the same treatment?

    Then there are the facts. How do you get to "systematic" expansion of settlements when Netanyahu has been constraining many aspects of settlement growth? And why is Biden not familiar with the history of his own administration's peace efforts? As Dennis Ross made clear in his most recent book, Doomed to Succeed, Netanyahu was in fact ready to take significant political risks to meet American requests - and Abbas was not. 
    The writer, a senior fellow at CFR, was a U.S. deputy national security advisor. 
    (Council on Foreign Relations)

    The U.S. and Saudi Arabia No Longer See Anything the Same Way 
    - Ray Takeyh

    As President Obama traveled to Saudi Arabia, the latest developments in the Iran nuclear deal are not anything the Tehran-phobic Saudis want to talk about. Obama has expressed a vague desire that Iran and Saudi Arabia should "share the neighborhood" without saying how he hopes that will be accomplished.

    As the U.S. grows more energy independent and Saudi oil becomes less relevant, the lure of petroleum is increasingly not enough to sustain an alliance always built on a shaky foundation.

    Changing the occupant of the White House early next year will not substantially alter America's policies. Obama reflects a mood of disenchantment with the Middle East within the Democratic party, while Republican front-runners denounce expansive visions for transforming the political culture of the Middle East and implanting democratic regimes in the heart of the Arab world. U.S. politicians on both sides are tired of expending precious resources to stabilize a region coming undone. 
    The writer, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, was senior advisor on Iran at the U.S. State Department. 

    Thursday, April 14, 2016

    Glick on Settlements

    This excellent 4 minute video gets to the heart of the problem in the Arab-Israeli conflict

    Brussels Bomber: Israel Was The Target

    Mohamed Abrini [far right] was captured and is talking

    Brussels Terrorists Planned to Attack Travelers Flying to Israel 

    Mohamed Abrini [pictured above, on right], who was captured last week after appearing in video footage at Brussels airport walking alongside two suicide bombers, said that his accomplices had planned to attack travelers who were flying to Israel, the U.S. and Russia, French BFM TV reported.  
    (Jerusalem Post)