Monday, November 27, 2017

Pinch Me: Am I Really Seeing This?

Tel Aviv City Hall Lit in Colors of Egyptian Flag in Solidarity with Mosque Victims 

The Egyptian flag lit up the facade of the Tel Aviv municipality building Friday evening, hours after terrorists attacked a crowded mosque in the Sinai Peninsula, killing at least 235 people.

The building has been illuminated in the colors of various flags following other international terror attacks, but the gesture has only been made towards an Arab country (also Egypt) once before: in May, when 29 Christian Copts were killed in a deadly shooting attack near Cairo.

Friday’s attack targeted a mosque frequented by Sufis, members of Islam’s mystical movement, in the north Sinai town of Bir al-Abd. Islamic militants, including the local affiliate of the Islamic State group, consider Sufis heretics because of their less literal interpretations of the faith.
(Times of Israel)

Friday, November 24, 2017

Pinch Me: Am I Really Hearing This?

 Kuwaiti writer Abdullah Al-Hadlaq said that Israel was an independent and legitimate sovereign state and that there was no occupation, but instead, "a people returning to its promised land." 

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Arab Miracle

Saudi Arabia's Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir arrives at the Arab League Foreign Ministers meeting in Cairo, Egypt, November 19, 2017. (photo credit:REUTERS/AMR ABDALLAH DALSH)

Arab League Condemns Iran, Calls Hizbullah a Terrorist Group 
- Zaid Sabah and Lin Noueihed

The Arab League accused Iran of destabilizing the region and condemned Iranian-backed Hizbullah as a terrorist organization at a foreign ministers' meeting in Cairo. "Iran is aiming to control many of the Arab capitals," said Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit. 

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Saudi Miracles

Grand Mufti Abdul Aziz Al-Sheikh shocked listeners with a pro-Jewish statement

Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia Abdul Aziz Al-Sheikh, responding to a question on television, said that fighting against Israel was inappropriate and that Hamas was a "terror organization."
Israeli Communications Minister Ayoub Kara wrote on his official Twitter account: "We congratulate Abdul Aziz Al-Sheikh, the Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia as well as the head of Ulema (Islamic scholars), for his fatwa forbidding the fight against the Jews and forbidding to kill them. I invite the mufti to visit Israel; he will be welcomed with a high level of respect."  

Israel for the first time co-sponsored a Saudi resolution at the UN Human Rights Council against the Assad regime in Syria, alongside the U.S., France and Germany. 

The measure passed 108 to 17 with 58 abstentions. The Syrian ambassador congratulated his Saudi counterpart for the fact Israel had joined the list of co-sponsors, saying it was a demonstration of the secret alliance between the two countries.
(Ynet News)


On Recent Saudi Reforms: Interview with Dr. Daniel Pipes 

All signs point to Mohammad bin Salman, the effective ruler of Saudi Arabia, being very serious about basic changes. So, I see this as a real reform

I expect [Mohammad bin Salman] wants to abandon Islamism altogether. I can imagine Saudi Arabia becoming a center of moderate Islam; stranger things have occurred.

The country's future is open, for the first time since the 1920s. I simply do not know enough to predict its course with confidence.
[International Policy Digest]

Former Saudi Minister: Violence Against Israel is "Un-Islamic"

Former Saudi Justice Minister Muhammad Bin abdel-Kareem Aleissa said, "Any act of violence or terrorism that tries to hide behind religion has no justification whatsoever, not even in Israel," the Israeli newspaper Maariv reported. 

Aleissa was appointed last year as the secretary-general of the Muslim World League, and is reportedly close to Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman. 
(Al-Araby Al-Jadeed-UK)

Saudi TV Host Calls to Allow Israeli Teams to Compete in World Tournaments 
- Anthony Harwood

Saudi Arabian TV host Waleed Al-Faraj, speaking on MBC, the Arab world's most popular channel, called for Israeli teams to be allowed to compete in sports tournaments after seven Israeli chess players submitted visa requests to play in a tournament in Riyadh next month. 

Al-Faraj said it was time for Saudi Arabia to throw open its sports competitions to everyone, whatever their country of origin. 
The writer is a former foreign editor of the Daily Mail (UK). 
(Jerusalem Post)

Monday, November 13, 2017

Palestinian Delusional Syndrome

Lt. Hiroo Onoda, sword in hand, walks out of the jungle on Lubang Island on March 11, 1974, almost 29 years after the Japanese surrender.

Why Palestinian Delusions Persist - Daniel Pipes, PhD 

In 1974, Second Lt. Hiroo Onoda of the Imperial Japanese Army was still fighting for his emperor, hiding in a Philippine jungle. He had rejected many attempts to inform him of Japan's surrender 29 years earlier. During those long years, he senselessly murdered about one Filipino and injured three others per year. Only a concerted effort by his former commander finally convinced Onoda that the emperor had accepted defeat in 1945 and therefore he too must lay down arms.
The Palestinians of the West Bank and Gaza are Onoda writ large. They formally acknowledged defeat by Israel 24 years ago, when Yasir Arafat stood on the White House lawn and recognized "the right of the State of Israel to exist in peace and security." Trouble was, Arafat himself did not sincerely offer this act of surrender and most Palestinians rejected it.

Accordingly, the war continues, with Palestinians emulating that grizzled, vicious Japanese soldier: they too battle on for a failed cause, murder senselessly, and ignore repeated calls to surrender. Just as Onoda insisted on believing in a divine emperor, Palestinians inhabit a fantasy world in which, for example, Jesus was a Palestinian, Jerusalem was always exclusively Islamic, and Israel is the new Crusader state on the verge of collapse.

How do Palestinians ignore reality and persist in these illusions? Due to three main factors: Islamic doctrine, international succor, and the wariness of the Israeli security services. (The Israeli Left was once a major factor but it barely counts anymore.)
Israel's security services, which usually have the last word on policy, resist any steps that could possibly provoke Palestinian violence. "Things now are about as good as possible," they imply, "so please stay away with any hare-brained ideas about our getting tougher."
This reluctance explains why Jerusalem tolerates massive illegal housing, releases murderers from prison, provides water and electricity to Palestinians at advantageous terms, and urges international donors not just to subsidize the Palestinian Authority but to fund mega-projects of Israeli devising (such as an artificial island off Gaza). Contrarily, Israel's wizened security types nix any initiative that deprives the Palestinians of funds, punishes them more severely, or infringes on their existing prerogatives (such as control of the Temple Mount).

Palestinian delusion results, then, from a toxic mix of Islamic doctrine, international succor, and Israeli timidity.
[Israel Hayom]

Monday, November 06, 2017

Three Dimensional Chess: Iran, Lebanon & Saudi Arabia Dance

Saad Hariri resigns during visit to Saudi Arabia

Lebanese Prime Minister Resigns Citing Iranian Meddling

Lebanon's Prime Minister Saad Hariri announced his resignation on Saturday and implicitly blamed Iran and its ally, Hizbullah, for his decision.

He said he suspected there were covert plans to target his life. Hariri said Iran planted "disorder and destruction" in the country and meddled in the internal issues of Lebanon as well as other Arab countries. Referring to Hizbullah, Hariri said, "Iran's arm...has managed to impose a fait accompli on Lebanon through the power of its weapons....They have built a state within a state." 
(Al Jazeera

Yemen's Houthis Fire Missile at Saudi Capital Riyadh - Tim Lister 

Yemeni rebels on Saturday targeted an airport in Saudi Arabia's capital with a ballistic missile, Yemen's Houthi-controlled Defense Ministry claimed.

But the missile was intercepted by a Patriot missile over Riyadh, the Saudi Ministry of Defense said.

President Trump accused Iran of being responsible for the missile attack intercepted in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on Saturday.
(The Week)

A cold war between Saudi Arabia and Iran, fought with proxies, is sharply escalating as the two powers jockey to shape a Middle East regional order devoid of Islamic State.
(Wall Street Journal)


- Dov Zakheim

It is said of Donald Trump that he has undermined America’s credibility with its allies. That may be the case in Europe, and perhaps in parts of Asia, though not in Japan or India. But it is certainly not the case in the Middle East

Relations with Israel are better than they have been since the day former President Barack Obama took office. The same can be said of U.S. relations with both Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates or, for that matter, Bahrain and Morocco. The force that unites them all is Iran, whose support for instability throughout the region received a financial fillip from the Iran nuclear deal.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman may or may not be a true reformer. His record on that score is not unequivocal. But he is determined to halt the expansion of Iranian influence, which now really does manifest itself as the Shiite crescent...

[T]here is little doubt that he has authorized ever closer relations with the Israelis, who view the Iranian threat exactly as he does. And the crown prince is not the only one Jared Kushner has been speaking to: Trump has given his son-in-law overall leadership on the peace process between Israel and the Arabs, and he is reportedly a welcome guest in Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office.

[H]ow far will Washington, or more precisely, the White House, go to back up the Saudis if their confrontation with Iran gets hot? With this president, this crown prince, and the current prime minister of Israel, anything is possible.
[Foreign Policy]

Is the Saudi Throne Shaking? - Col. Dr. Jacques Neriah 

It remains to be seen whether Mohammed Bin Salman will succeed in his quest to remodel Saudi Arabia, or will inexperience and hasty decisions destabilize Saudi Arabia.
The writer, a special analyst for the Middle East at the Jerusalem Center, was Deputy Head for Assessment of Israeli Military Intelligence. 

(Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

Muslim Zionist: A Growing Breed

This short video highlights a growing trend of moderate Muslims embracing Zionism

Friday, November 03, 2017

Islamists Losing Support

Is this man leading the real Arab Spring? 
Prince Salman

Secularism Surges in the Arab World
According to pollster Arab Barometer, voters who backed Islamists after the Arab spring in 2011 have grown disillusioned and changed their minds.

In Egypt, support for imposing sharia (Islamic law) fell from 84% in 2011 to 34% in 2016.

In Lebanon and Morocco, only half as many Muslims listen to recitals of the Koran today, compared with 2011.

The most remarkable, albeit nascent, transformation is in ultra-conservative Saudi Arabia, where Muhammad bin Salman [pictured], the young crown prince, has curbed the religious police, sacked thousands of imams, and launched a new Center for Moderation to censor "fake and extremist texts."

At the same time, in places such as Algeria, Jordan and the Palestinian territories, polls show that support for sharia and sympathy for Islamist movements is high and growing


Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is curbing the power of Saudi Arabia's religious establishment as part of his drive to impose his control on the kingdom and press for a more open brand of Islam. Dozens of hard-line clerics have been detained, while others were designated to speak publicly about respect for other religions.
If the changes take hold, they could mean a historic reordering of the Saudi state by diminishing the role of hard-line clerics in shaping policy. "Most of the Wahhabi clerics are not happy with what is happening, but preserving the alliance with the monarchy is what matters most. They have much more to lose by protesting," said Stephane Lacroix, a scholar of political Islam at Sciences Po, the Paris Institute of Political Studies.
(New York Times)

Saudi Arabia's heir to the throne is overseeing an unprecedented wave of arrests of dozens of the country's most powerful princes, military officers, influential businessmen and government ministers - some potential rivals or critics of the crown prince now consolidating his power. Among those taken into custody overnight Saturday in an anti-corruption sweep were billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, one of the world's richest men, as well as two of the late King Abdullah's sons.
(AP-New York Times)

The "purge" by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) of numerous members of the royal family, as well as current and former ministers and prominent businessmen, on charges of corruption is not about removing political rivals who threatened his position, but rather about sending a message to political and economic elites that their entitlement to extreme wealth and privilege, and their impunity, is coming to an end. With the exception of Minister of the National Guard Prince Mutaib bin Abdallah, the detainee list is made up entirely of individuals who had no capacity to challenge MBS' succession. Nor did Prince Mutaib, despite leading the national guard, pose a political threat to the Crown Prince.

Given the relatively young age of the new Crown Prince, his appointment last June naturally alienated many of MBS' older cousins, and even some uncles, who suddenly found themselves politically marginalized. But alienation does not mean that these princes possess the power to threaten the throne or to determine the succession. No royal maintains an independent constituency among the population at large that they can galvanize against the monarchy.

King Salman and MBS have chosen to go the populist route by appealing to the Saudi public, and specifically to the youth, rather than seeking to placate the many "losers" by lavishing them with money (a tactic widely used in the past that was highly unpopular with the Saudi public and that has become increasingly unaffordable). Now there will be no paying-off of discontented princes in exchange for their loyalty and acquiescence. 
(Arabia Foundation)

The Iranian danger alone likely won't be enough to openly bring Saudi Arabia and Israel closer together. Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman is working on fortifying his inheritance, and it's unlikely that he wants to expose himself to Arab criticism, especially Iranian, over his "betrayal of the Palestinian people." 

A positive Israeli response to the American initiative, once it is formed, might convince him to take the risk.
Dr. Oded Eran, a senior research fellow at the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS), served as head of Israel's negotiations team with the Palestinians in 1999-2000. 
(Ynet News)

The Birthplace of Car Ramming Attacks: IGNORED

Israel has served as the jihad's research and development site

New York City

Ramming Attacks Were Pioneered by Palestinians - Liel Leibovitz 

The sort of ramming attack we witnessed in Manhattan on Tuesday was first used against Israelis by Palestinian terrorists.
The first such attack occurred on Feb. 18, 1987, against an IDF force in the West Bank, wounding two soldiers. [Then on] Nov. 30, 1989, a car driven by a Palestinian terrorist killed Avigdor Dahari, who operated a food stand just outside of Gaza.

[Another attack in] 2001 left eight Israelis dead and 21 wounded, and another in 2008 killed three and wounded 36.

In January 2017, a Palestinian truck driver rammed his vehicle into a crowd of Israeli soldiers at a popular Jerusalem tourist spot, killing four people and wounding 17.

(Tablet-Fox News)

ISIS Murders Have Their Genesis in Yasser Arafat - Philippe Assouline 

After doing so with suicide bombings in the '90s, Palestinian Jihadists invented, tested and made ever more lethal truck terrorism, stabbing rampages and mass shootings of Israelis. 
Palestinians saw that those indiscriminate and savage murders didn’t backfire politically or trigger any meaningful Western outrage.
If terrorism is rewarded or even explained away when it targets Israeli innocents, the same terrorism will then spread to Europe, Canada, India, and the U.S.
It has to become taboo to target any civilians, for any professed cause, at any time. 
(Los Angeles Jewish Journal)