Wednesday, March 22, 2017

“Egypt, Iraq, Syria, Algeria: Where are your Jews?” Viral Video: Hillel Neuer tells U.N. where real apartheid is — room goes silent

GENEVA, March 22, 2017 — When the U.N. human rights council met on Monday under its permanent targeting Israel, Arab states echoed the now-deleted U.N. report by Richard Falk accusing Israel of “apartheid.”

After the PLO, Qatar, Syria, Sudan, Saudi Arabia and other Arab regimes hurled epithets at at the Jewish state, UN Watch executive director Hillel Neuer took the floor, asking, “Algeria, where are your Jews?” Click here for video.
Since it was posted last night on Facebook, the video has gone viral, receiving 630,000 views and counting. Click here to share on Facebook.
U.N Human Rights Council
Agenda Item Targeting Israel
March 20, 2017 
PLO: “Israel has used the worst kinds of abuse, ethnic cleansing and imposing a regime of apartheid.”

 “Israel continues to exercise apartheid in Palestine, which constitutes a crime against humanity.”

 “Violence and terrorism are being exercised against the Palestinian people.”

 “Violations including building of apartheid walls… to legitimize theft of land and to Judaize Jerusalem.”

 “The separation wall is an example of the apartheid policy practiced by Israel.”

Saudi Arabia:
 “Israel’s practices of discrimination and extremism…”
UN Watch (Executive Director Hillel Neuer): Mr. President, let me begin by putting the following on the record: Everything we just heard — from the world’s worst abusers of human rights, of women’s rights, of freedom of religion, of the press, of assembly, of speech — is absolutely false; and, indeed, Orwellian.
Today’s report does not consider Israelis to be deserving of human rights — consistent with the approach of this council, where today’s notorious agenda item against Israel completely ignores their human rights.
Over the weekend, President Abbas announced he was giving his highest medal to Rima Khalaf, who resigned from the Economic and Social Commission of Western Asia, a Beirut-based UN agency of 18 Arab states, after Secretary General Guterres rightly instructed her to remove an absurd report which accused Israel of “apartheid.”
Mr. President, why is Mr. Abbas celebrating a report written by the notorious Richard Falk, after his own Palestinian Mission here, tried in 2010, to remove Mr. Falk on the basis that he was “a partisan of Hamas,” as we know from WikiLeaks?
The accusation against Israel is absurd. Israel’s 1.5 million Arabs…
[Interruption with objections by Palestinians, Egypt, and Pakistan.]
President gives UN Watch back the floor.

Thank you, Mr. President.
Israel’s 1.5 million Arabs, whatever challenges they face, enjoy full rights to vote and to be elected in the Knesset, they work as doctors and lawyers, they serve on the Supreme Court.
Now I’d like to ask the members of that commission, that commissioned that report, the Arab states from which we just heard. Egypt, Iraq, and the others:
How many Jews live in your countries? How many Jews lived in Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco?
Once upon a time, the Middle East was full of Jews.
Algeria had 140,000 Jews. Algeria, where are your Jews?
Egypt used to have 75,000 Jews. Where are your Jews?
Syria, you had tens of thousands of Jews. Where are your Jews?
Iraq, you had over 135,000 Jews. Where are your Jews?
Mr. President, where is the apartheid?
Why is there a U.N. commission on the Middle East that does not include Israel? From the 1960s and the ‘70s they refuse to include Israel. Where is the apartheid, Mr. President?
Mr. President, why are we meeting today on an agenda item singling out only one state, the Jewish state, for targeting.
Where is the apartheid, Mr. President?
UNHRC chamber goes silent.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Hamas Again Caught Exploiting Charities to Fund Terror

With a list of potential recipients, the Turkish Cooperation and Development Agency (TIKA) authorized the release of financial aid for needy Palestinians. The money is supposed to support humanitarian projects to improve the livelihoods of Gaza's residents to purchase food and basic necessities. Instead, a lot of the money was diverted to buy weapons and train terrorists to kill Israelis.
This is Hamas' financial modus operandi.
Israeli authorities arrested TIKA's leader in Gaza last month for funneling money to Hamas' military wing, Israel's domestic security agency announced on Tuesday.
Muhammad Murtaja
The Israelis say Hamas recruited TIKA's Gaza branch head Muhammad Murtaja in 2008. The following year, he enlisted in Hamas' military wing while maintaining his role as deputy director of Turkey's IHH Humanitarian Relief Foundation in Gaza. Several states, including Israel, designate IHH as a terrorist organization – a group that encourages and finances violence against the Jewish state. Murtaja allegedly helped Hamas finance construction of offensive tunnels, and obtain weapons and explosives. He was involved in terrorist training and even hid Hamas grenades and weapons in his home.
"The investigation showed that Murtaja deceived TİKA by misusing the organization's resources and funds, which were intended for substantial humanitarian projects in the Gaza Strip, by diverting them to Hamas's military wing. This fraud was carried out in collusion with the senior ranks of Hamas in Gaza, headed by Ismail Haniyeh," Israeli Government Press Office statement said, adding that Murtaja sought "information that would improve the accuracy of Hamas rockets being launched at Israel."
Senior Hamas officials gave Murtaja the names of Hamas terrorists and their family members to be listed as poor Palestinians who required financial assistance. Murtaja would then give the names to his TIKA superiors, who would authorize the release of "benefits and stipends." The Hamas operative successfully diverted "millions of shekels" for terrorist activities during the 2014 Israel-Hamas war and beyond.
In one example, members of Hamas' military wing received TIKA food packages intended for Gaza's civilians.
"Hamas prospers at the expense of the residents of the Strip and uses donations meant for them to finance terror," said Major Gen. Yoav Mordechai, Israel's coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories. "How long will the world and the Gazan people ignore this?"
Shin Bet also announced that Turkey's IHH Humanitarian Relief Foundation directly financed Hamas terrorism. Israeli authorities accused the coordinator of IHH's Gaza office, Mehmet Kaya, of providing "Hamas leaders Ismail Haniyeh and Raad Saad cash from Turkey that was earmarked for the Hamas military wing."
Some of the IHH money helped buy weapons and build a training facility for Hamas naval commandos.
These two separate episodes show how Hamas exploits charities worldwide to finance its terrorist infrastructure at the expense of needy civilians. The terrorist group repeatedly demonstrates that it prioritizes its fight against Israel over the well-being of its own citizens and societal development.
Last year, Shin Bet revealed that Hamas diverted "tens of millions of dollars" from World Vision, a U.S.-based Christian charity, to rebuild its terrorist infrastructure.
The terrorist group reportedly siphoned 60 percent of the charity's resources in Gaza to reconstruct Hamas' tunnel network and military installations, in addition to buying weapons intended to kill Israelis. This amount translated to roughly $7.2 million each year.
The alleged scheme involved Hamas operatives, posing as World Vision employees, filing fake proposals for World Vision-financed projects in Gaza, before laundering the cash to Hamas and its military wing.
For example, a Hamas operative launched an initiative to build greenhouses to hide terrorist tunnel sites, while a proposed project intended to help Gaza's fishermen ended up using the money to improve Hamas' naval capabilities. Since the end of the 2014 summer war in Gaza, Hamas continues to rebuild its elite forces – including its naval commando unit – dedicated to infiltrating into Israel to carry out terrorist attacks.
Hamas terrorists also falsely listed their children as injured to collect money intended to help children in Gaza who were actually wounded. Tens of thousands of dollars from the charity's finances were also used to buy weapons in the Sinai during ousted Egyptian president Muhammad Morsi's reign. World Vision is still independently investigating to confirm whether Israel's allegations are credible.
On Monday, Israel enabled the transfer of roughly $82 million dollars in cash to Gaza, primarily from Gulf States and the European Union. The money is meant to cover the salaries of about 50,000 Palestinian Authority employees in the Gaza Strip. Based on these latest developments, however, Hamas operatives could try to siphon some of the money to finance their terrorist efforts against Israel.

World Shrugs as Hizballah Prepares Massive Civilian Deaths

Hizballah leader Hassan Nasrallah recently warned Israel that his Iran-backed terror group could attack targets producing mass Israeli casualties, including a huge ammonia storage tank in Haifa, and a nuclear reactor in Dimona.
Also last month, Tower Magazine reported that, since the beginning of the Syrian civil war, Iran provided Hizballah with a vast supply of "game-changing," state-of-the art weapons, despite Israel's occasional airstrikes against weapons convoys.
In a future conflict, Hizballah has the capacity to fire 1,500 rockets into Israel each day, overwhelming Israel's missile defense systems. Should such a scenario materialize, Israel will be forced to respond with unprecedented firepower to defend its own civilians.
Hizballah's advanced weapons and the systems needed to launch them reportedly are embedded across a staggering 10,000 locations in the heart of more than 200 civilian towns and villages. The Israeli military has openly warned about this Hizballah war crime and the grave threats it poses to both sides, but that alarm generated almost no attention from the global media, the United Nations, or other international institutions.
Like the terror group Hamas, Hizballah knows that civilian deaths at the hands of Israel are a strategic asset, because they produce diplomatic pressure to limit Israel's military response. Hizballah reportedly went so far as offering reduced-price housing to Shiite families who allowed the terrorist group to store rocket launchers in their homes.
But if the global media, the UN, human rights organizations, and other international institutions predictably pounce on Israel after it causes civilian casualties, why are they doing nothing to prevent them? Hizballah's very presence in southern Lebanon is a flagrant violation of United Nations Security Council resolution 1701, which called for the area to be a zone "free of any armed personnel, assets and weapons" other than the Lebanese military and the U.N. Interim Forces in Lebanon (UNIFIL).
The resolution also required Hizballah to be disarmed, but the terror group today has an arsenal that rivals that of most armies. Hizballah possesses an estimated 140,000 missiles and rockets, and reportedly now can manufacture advanced weapons in underground factories that are impervious to aerial attack.
"Israel must stress again and again, before it happens, that these villages [storing Hizballah weapons] have become military posts, and are therefore legitimate targets," said Yoram Schweitzer, senior research fellow at Israel's Institute for National Security Studies (INSS).
Meir Litvak, director of Tel Aviv University's Alliance Center for Iranian Studies, agrees, adding that global attention would "expose Hizballah's hypocrisy in its cynical use of civilians as... human shields."
Even a concerted campaign to showcase Hizballah's war preparation is unlikely to change things, said Eyal Zisser, a senior research fellow at the Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies. Hizballah exploits the fact that "the international community is too busy and...weak to do something about it," Zisser said. All of "these talks and reports have no meaning. See what is happening in Syria."
Israel has targeted Hizballah-bound weapons caches in Syria twice during the past week. Syria responded last Friday by firing a missile carrying 200 kilograms of explosives, which Israel successfully intercepted.
If Hizballah provokes a war, Israel can legitimately attack civilian areas storing Hizballah arms if the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) first attempts to warn the targeted civilians to leave those areas, Litvak said. But "it will certainly be very difficult and will look bad on TV."
While Sunni Arab states are generally united against the Shiite Iranian-Hizballah axis, Litvak, Zisser, and Schweitzer all agreed that Israel could hope for no more than silent support from them when the missiles fly.
Indeed, the "Sunni Arab street" is likely to be inflamed by the images of civilian death and destruction caused by Israel that international media will inevitably broadcast, further limiting support for Israel from Iran's Sunni state foes.
Rather perversely, the Lebanese government has embraced the very terrorist organization that could cause hundreds of thousands of Lebanese civilian deaths by converting residential areas into war zones. "As long as Israel occupies land and covets the natural resources of Lebanon, and as long as the Lebanese military lacks the power to stand up to Israel, [Hizballah's] arms are essential, in that they complement the actions of the army and do not contradict them," President Michel Aoun told Egyptian television last month. Hizballah, he said, "has a complementary role to the Lebanese army."
Aoun's declaration means that Lebanon "takes full responsibility for all of Hizballah's actions, including against Israel, and for their consequences to Lebanon and its entire population, even though the Lebanese government has little ability to actually control the organization's decisions or policy," said INSS Senior Research Fellow Assaf Orion.
MK Naftali Bennett, a veteran of Israel's 2006 war with Hizballah, believes that Lebanon's official acceptance of Hizballah and its policy of embedding military assets inside residential areas removes any constraints on Israeli targeting of civilian areas. "The Lebanese institutions, its infrastructure, airport, power stations, traffic junctions, Lebanese Army bases – they should all be legitimate targets if a war breaks out," he said. "That's what we should already be saying to them and the world now."
In a future war, Hizballah is certain to try bombarding Israeli civilian communities with missile barrages. Israel, in response, will have to target missile launchers and weapons caches surrounded by Lebanese civilians.
But it need not be so. Global attention on Hizballah's abuses by journalists and diplomats could lead to international pressure that ultimately reduces or even prevents civilian deaths.
Those truly concerned about civilians do not have a difficult case to make. Hizballah has shown a callous disregard for innocent life in Syria.
It helped the Syrian regime violently suppress largely peaceful protests that preceded the Syrian civil war in 2011. Last April, Hizballah and Syrian army troops reportedly killed civilians attempting to flee the Sunni-populated town of Madaya, near the Lebanese border. In 2008, its fighters seized control of several West Beirut neighborhoods and killed innocent civilians after the Lebanese government moved to shut down Hizballah's telecommunication network.
Hizballah terrorism has claimed civilian lives for decades, including a 1994 suicide bombing at Argentina's main Jewish center that killed 85 people . As the IDF notes, "Since 1982, hundreds of innocent civilians have lost their lives and thousands more have been injured thanks to Hizballah."
If world powers and the international media genuinely care about avoiding civilian casualties, they should be loudly condemning Hizballah's ongoing efforts – in flagrant violation of a UN resolution – to cause massive civilian death and destruction in Lebanon's next war with Israel.
Noah Beck is the author of The Last Israelis, an apocalyptic novel about Iranian nukes and other geopolitical issues in the Middle East.

Hoenlein: Middle Eastern Leaders Relieved to See Obama Go, Want US to Take Tougher Line Against Iran

Middle Eastern leaders are looking for the Trump administration to re-engage with the region and take a tougher line against Iran, a top American Jewish official told The Algemeiner this week.
Malcolm Hoenlein — the executive vice chairman and CEO of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations — recently returned to the US from a trip that included stops in Israel, Egypt, Morocco and Cyprus. “What we heard in all the countries was a sense of relief over the change of administrations and anticipation about what the new administration will be, who will be in it, what they will do and how they will govern,” he said. “There is a feeling that America is back in the game. But there is also some anxiety and uncertainty.”
Israeli officials, according to Hoenlein, are “hopeful” about President Donald Trump.
“They all recognize that it’s still early, but the relationship between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the president at their meeting [in February] was good,” Hoenlein said. “Ambassador Nikki Haley has been very strong at the UN responding to attacks on Israel. And the president also protected aid to Israel in the face of major budget cuts.”
Israel’s major worries at the moment, Hoenlein stated, are the ongoing conflict in Syria and instability in Jordan.
“If there is a ceasefire in Syria, will Iran have a permanent place there?” Hoenlein asked.
Another issue bothering Israeli officials is “what is happening in Lebanon and, even more so, the incursions and encroachments in the Golan area by Hezbollah and Iran-backed militia groups who are today very active and have gotten closer to the area. They are a threat to both Jordan and Israel, and the region. I think the prime minister has sent a message to keep them away or Israel is going to react.”
Hoenlein made sure to praise UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres for recently speaking out against Hezbollah.
“There was an incredible statement by the secretary-general which got very little attention but was very important,” Hoenlein said. “He condemned Hezbollah’s activities in Lebanon and said they were a violation of Security Council Resolution 1701 that was adopted after the Second Lebanon War. It was a very tough statement citing their weapons buildup as a further violation and criticized the encroachment on Lebanese sovereignty.”
Reports that the Islamic Republic is seeking to build a military base at the Syrian port of Latakia on the Mediterranean Sea should “be of concern to everybody,” Hoenlein said, noting that such a facility could be used as a launching point for further subversive Iranian activities in the region.
Hoenlein hypothesized that the Iranian Navy’s harassment of the USS Invincible — an American surveillance vessel — in the Strait of Hormuz earlier this month was connected with missile tests conducted by the Tehran regime.
“I think that the reason the Iranians were playing havoc with our ship was because it’s able to monitor missile launches,” he said. “And I think they were trying to deflect it away from finding out about additional launches they were engaged in. At a time when they’re trying to put on a show of being moderates, the Iranians are anything but that.”
Regarding Trump’s initial forays into Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking — including diplomatic envoy Jason Greenblatt’s Middle East trip this past week — Hoenlein noted, “We don’t know the substance yet, but President Trump has said he’s interested in making a deal. How it’s different [from the past], we will only find out as the process unfolds. In the past, we have seen some people become obsessed with the deal in and of itself. It has to be rooted in the reality on the ground and discreet negotiations.”
“I don’t think Jason Greenblatt, or others in the administration, including the president, are going to do anything detrimental to Israel,” Hoenlein continued. “I don’t want to see tensions arise between them [the US and Israeli governments] because of expectations that may not be fulfilled. And they [the Trump administration] are likely to be frustrated, like everyone else, by [Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud] Abbas, but at least they can tell the world, ‘We tried.’ Netanyahu has always said that he’s ready to talk and the US could do a lot to incentivize the parties.”
“I think, most of all, they want to talk about things like economic development programs — which everybody agrees could be done now and build the basis for any kind of future discussions,” he went on to say. “By this, you build people’s vested interest in negotiating an agreement and avoiding further violence or disruptions.”
Asked about a potential regional approach to resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict — an idea touted by Trump and Netanyahu at their joint White House press conference in February — Hoenlein replied. “I heard in various places in the Middle East over the past months during my travels, leaders would like to see the Palestinian issue resolved. It’s not necessarily a top priority, [but] it’s certainly an annoyance. They say that it’s something that excites the street. The Palestinians yell ‘Al-Aqsa is under siege’ and people go crazy. Middle East leaders want this issue over, because, as one put it, they see it as an obstacle to expanding their ties more openly with Israel. They feel it contributes to instability in the region and [serves as] a rallying point for extremists.”
Turning to the Trump administration’s relationship with the US Jewish community, Hoenlein said, “It is very early as the administration settles in and they still haven’t filled most of the posts. So it’s hard to judge them and make assessments. And it’s still too early to see the details of the policies in many areas. But I do think that on the key issues of Jewish security in the US, the Department of Homeland Security, FBI and others have been responsive. They’ve reached out to the community. There have been meetings, assistance and public statements.”
Most noteworthy, Hoenlein pointed out, was Trump’s condemnation at the start of his Feb. 28 address to a joint session of Congress of the recent upsurge of antisemitic incidents across the country.
“You have to give the president credit,” he said.
On the spate of bomb threats that have targeted Jewish community centers over the past few months, Hoenlein stated, “Some top officials have said that it’s a single person who is doing this. The likelihood is that this is going to continue for a while, because of the atmosphere that has been created — the tensions that were exacerbated, but not caused, by the election. We saw this trend well before the election.”
Hoenlein said he was largely satisfied with the governmental response, at both the federal and local levels, to the threats faced by American Jews. However, he added, “increased funds are needed for security and educational programs at our synagogues, schools and other institutions.”
“Maybe it will wake up the community,” he said. “Raising security awareness is something we’ve been trying for a long time, led by our Secure Community Network (SCN) operation. What is now being done is not enough. Our schools and institutions are still largely unprotected and more has to be done. Some measures do not cost a lot of money and some require funding. France and Britain gave very large grants to their Jewish communities to improve security and we need to do the same.”
“The community has to make security a greater priority,” Hoenlein concluded. “For example, when budgets are made, security is left for last. Now it must be first.”
(c) 2017 The Algemeiner Journal

PMW: Mahmoud Abbas: "The reason for all of the disasters" in the world is the "occupation" Abbas believes Israel's entire existence is an "occupation" - since being established in 1948 Itamar Marcus and Nan Jacques Zilberdik

In a recent speech, Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas stated that the Israeli “occupation” is the reason for all disasters in the world:


“The international community is becoming more and more convinced that the occupation of the Palestinian state by Israel is the reason for all the disasters that the region and the world are suffering from...”
[Official PA TV, March 12, 2017]
Abbas’ statement echoes the antisemitic teachings of a religious scholar on official PA TV, Imad Hamato, who Abbas has also endorsed by
appointing him dean of a system of schools. Palestinian Media Watch reported on a lesson in Islam where Hamato taught that the Jews are the reason for all of humanity’s problems:
"Humanity will never live in comfort as long as the Jews are causing devastating corruption throughout the land. Humanity will never live in peace or fortune or tranquility as long as they are corrupting the land. An old man told me: If a fish in the sea fights with another fish, I am sure the Jews are behind it."
[Official PA TV, Feb. 27, 2015 and Feb. 25, 2016]
In another interview, Abbas recently clarified what he means by Israeli "occupation" - saying it has lasted “70 years” - i.e., since Israel was established in 1948.
“I told him [US President Donald Trump] that we hope that he will find a solution to the Palestinian issue after 70 years of occupation that will be based on two states, a Palestinian state that will live in security and peace alongside the State of Israel."
[Al-Watan, (Qatar), March 16, 2017]
Again Abbas is showing that he does not recognize Israel in any borders. The entire
Palestinian Media Watch has shown that the PA and Fatah routinely present all of Israel as "Palestine" and all of Israel as an “occupation”.  
PA and Fatah leaders and media also often voice the libel that Israel/the Jews are responsible for crises in the world and world terror
The following are longer excerpts of Abbas’ statements:
Speech by Abbas at the celebration of the formulation of the Public Service Ethics Code

PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas: “The international community is becoming more and more convinced that the occupation of the Palestinian state by Israel is the reason for all the disasters that the region and the world are suffering from, and that without a just solution to the Palestinian issue in accordance with the two-state solution - which is included in the Arab Peace Initiative - and the relevant resolutions of the [UN] Security Council, neither peace, nor security, nor stability will be achieved, and the region will remain exposed to very difficult possibilities, especially in light of the growth of the phenomenon of terror and extremism, which we condemn and are fighting against with all of our strength.”
[Official PA TV, March 12, 2017]
Excerpt of interview with Abbas:

[Q:] "We will begin with the main event, and that is the phone conversation that American President Donald Trump had with you, and your important meeting with his Special Representative for International Negotiations Jason Greenblatt. What was said in your first conversation with the US president, and did his conversation constitute a plan to eliminate the Palestinian cause, and not to resolve it?"
[PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas:] "This was the first time I spoke with Trump. He told me at the beginning of the conversation that he has heard much about me and he wants to invite me to visit the White House. I told him that I am ready to come at any time that suits him, and the conversation, which was not long but which was warm, ended. I told him that we hope that he will find a solution to the Palestinian issue after 70 years of occupation that will be based on two states, a Palestinian state that will live in security and peace alongside the State of Israel."
[Al-Watan, (Qatar), March 16, 2017

MEMRI: Hamas Official Mahmoud Al-Zahhar: The Quran Tells Us to Drive the Jews Out of Palestine in Its Entirety

Mahmoud Al-Zahhar, one of Hamas's leaders in Gaza, said that "removing the Jews from the land they occupied in 1948 is an immutable principle" appearing in the Quran, and said: "Our position is: Palestine in its entirety, and not a grain of soil less." Speaking on Al-Aqsa TV on March 8, Al-Zahhar advised Hamas and the Islamic Jihad never to mention the 1967 borders, as "this becomes like part of a joint plan."

Mahmoud Al-Zahhar: "Allah says (in the Quran): 'And drive them out from wherever they have driven you out.' How do the linguists interpret the word 'from'? The Quran talks about driving you out 'from where they have driven you out.' From where did the Jews drives us out? From within the 1967 borders or the 1948 borders? From within the 1948 borders. So you should drive them out from within the 1948 borders, like they drove you out. Hence, removing the Jews from the land they occupied in 1948 is an immutable principle, because it appears in the Book of Allah. 'Drive them out from wherever they have driven you out.' So in light of this verse, we say that our dispute with the Palestinian factions that talk about the 1967 borders is one pertaining to faith. On this issue, we base ourselves upon our religion, while you do not.


"(The Quran says:) 'They will enter the mosque as they entered it the first time.' Entering the mosque means entering the capital, and entering the capital means liberating Palestine in its entirety, and the implementation of the decree: 'Drive them out from wherever they have driven you out.'


"Let me advise our brothers and sisters from the Islamic movement – from Hamas and Islamic Jihad – never to use the term '1967 (borders).' When the 1967 borders are mentioned, and then we make certain exceptions, saying, 'so long as we don't relinquish...' and so on, this becomes like part of a joint plan. We have liberated Gaza, part of Palestine, but I am not prepared to accept just Gaza, and later... Our position is: Palestine in its entirety, and not a grain of soil less. (The Quran says:) 'Kill them wherever you may find them' – Allah did not define the 1967 borders or the 1948 borders. We will fight them wherever we can – on the ground, underground, and if we have airplanes, we will fight them from the skies."

Monday, March 20, 2017

David Friedman testified at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on his nomination to be U.S. ambassador to Israel.


10 Things You Didn't Know About David Friedman; The lawyer has been a friend and adviser to President Donald Trump for more than a decade.

FILE - In this Feb. 16, 2017, file photo, U.S. Ambassador Israel-designate David Friedman testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington at his confirmation hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. The committee narrowly approved Friedman's nomination, Thursday, March 9, 2017. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)
1. David Friedman was born and raised in North Woodmere, New York. His father, Morris Friedman, was the rabbi of Temple Hillel, a conservative synagogue in North Woodmere, and he led the New York Board of Rabbis. Friedman's mother taught high school English.
2. An Orthodox Jew, Friedman speaks Hebrew, and his bar mitzvah took place at the Western Wall in Jerusalem, among the holiest Jewish sites in Israel.
3. Friedman earned his bachelor's degree from Columbia University and in 1981, he graduated from the New York University School of Law. He has worked at Kasowitz Benson Torres & Friedman LLP, where he is a partner, since 1994.
4. A New York attorney, Friedman represented President Donald Trump in bankruptcy cases involving his Atlantic City casinos, and Friedman says he has been a friend of the president since 2005.
5. Friedman advised President Trump during the campaign on Israel policy. As ambassador to Israel, Friedman would be the top-ranking U.S. official in the country, responsible for relaying and helping craft policy between the two governments.
6. Matt Brooks, the executive director of the Republican Jewish Coalition, praised Friedman's appointment as "a powerful signal to the Jewish community" that the U.S. intends to strengthen ties with Israel.
7. However, five former U.S. ambassadors to Israel questioned Friedman's appointment in February, writing that he has "extreme, radical positions" on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; he has been dismissive of the possibility of a two-state resolution in the past but has been more open to the idea recently.
8. Friedman is president of a fundraising group for a yeshiva settlement in the West Bank, where the international community generally considers such settlements illegal. However, Friedman has been outspoken in his assertion that settlements in the West Bank are not an obstacle to peace.
9. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted 12-9 in March to advance Friedman to a final vote in the full Senate. In his initial hearing in February, he apologized for past comments: "The inflammatory rhetoric that accompanied the presidential campaign is entirely over, and if I am confirmed, you can expect my comments to be careful and measured."
10. Friedman has an apartment in Jerusalem, where he spends some Jewish holidays with his wife, Tammy, and their children and grandchildren. He has said he will live in Jerusalem if confirmed as ambassador, though the American embassy in Israel currently sits in Tel Aviv.

Friday, March 17, 2017

TIMES OF ISRAEL: Donald Trump stuns the Middle East by sending an honest brokerDespite administration’s unprecedented pledge of allegiance to Netanyahu, Jason Greenblatt’s carefully calibrated visit shows US peace bid will take all sides into account

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (right) meets with Jason Greenblatt, the US president's assistant and special representative for international negotiations, at Abbas's office in the West Bank city of Ramallah, March 14, 2017. (WAFA)
Something unusual happened on the White House’s homepage the day after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met US President Donald Trump for the first time in the Oval Office.
Netanyahu was still in Washington on the evening of February 16 when, between 9:30 and 10 p.m., a new link appeared at the bottom of the site, under the category “Get Involved,” together with items in support of “empowering female leaders,” Trump’s plan to boost employment, and his nominee for the Supreme Court, Neil Gorsuch.
Entitled “President Trump Stands With Israel,” the new link led to a page on which the leader of the free world declares, with no further explanation, that he “stands in solidarity with Israel to reaffirm the unbreakable bond between our two nations and to promote security and prosperity for all.”
The page invites users to sign up with their names and email addresses to show that they stand “with President Trump and Prime Minister Netanyahu.”
While the president’s friendship with Netanyahu is no secret, having this item permanently placed on the White House homepage — it’s still there as of this writing, a month after Netanyahu’s visit — is exceedingly surprising. No other foreign country, let alone a single politician from a foreign country, has been given this honor.
And yet, after nearly a full week during which his special representative for international negotiations, Jason Dov Greenblatt, toured the region in a bid to revive the stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace process, one cannot help getting the impression that in the months ahead, Washington will not unconditionally side with Jerusalem on all matters relating to the conflict. Greenblatt’s schedule, interactions and comments plainly signal a genuine attempt to take Ramallah’s concerns into consideration as well.
Assistant to the President and Special Representative for International Negotiations, Jason Greenblatt meets Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem, March 13, 2017. (Matty Stern/US Embassy Tel Aviv)
Assistant to the President and Special Representative for International Negotiations, Jason Greenblatt (left) meets Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem, March 13, 2017. (Matty Stern/US Embassy Tel Aviv)
The envoy’s four-day visit, eight hours of which he spent in two sessions sitting in the Prime Minister’s Office, demonstrates quite clearly that Trump does not intend to be Netanyahu’s yes-man.
According to people who spoke with Greenblatt, his boss — who prides himself on having mastered the “art of the deal” — is determined to reach an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement. Trump himself “expressed his strong desire to achieve a comprehensive, just, and lasting settlement to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” in a statement after he met Wednesday with Saudi Arabia’s Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. And Greenblatt worked exceedingly hard to be perceived by the players he met in Israel, the West Bank and Jordan as an honest broker.

The art of diplomacy

The lawyer-turned-diplomat did not only meet Netanyahu’s counterpart, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, but also Jordan’s King Abdullah, another important regional stakeholder whose views on the conflict are not exactly congruent with those of the Israeli leader.
While Greenblatt’s sessions with Abbas and Abdullah were much shorter than the two meetings with Netanyahu, officials in Ramallah were uncharacteristically optimistic after their contacts. Abbas, who Trump had last Friday invited to the White House, declared after his talks with Greenblatt that a “historic” peace deal was possible. “The mood is good,” one Palestinian official said with succinct enthusiasm in a private conversation.
In a unprecedented move for US officials, Greenblatt met Thursday with the heads of the Yesha Council, the settlement movement’s most important advocacy group. But he also spoke to young Palestinians in Bethlehem and at the Jalazoun refugee camp near Ramallah “to understand their daily experiences.” He met Palestinian high-tech entrepreneurs and a “cross section of folks from Gaza,” as he wrote on his busy Twitter account. The Gazans gave him “hope we can find solutions to humanitarian challenges while meeting Israel’s security needs,” he noted.
Greenblatt on Thursday also hosted a rare interfaith summit of the Council of Religious Institutions in the Holy Land, which was attended by both Israeli chief rabbis and the chief justice of the PA’s Sharia court.
Jason Greenblatt (center, in gray), the US administration’s special envoy for international negotiations, with members of the Council of Religious Institutions in the Holy Land at a gathering at the US Consulate-General in Jerusalem, March 16, 2017 (courtesy US Embassy Tel Aviv)
Jason Greenblatt (center, in gray), the US administration’s special envoy for international negotiations, with members of the Council of Religious Institutions in the Holy Land at a gathering at the US Consulate-General in Jerusalem, March 16, 2017 (courtesy US Embassy Tel Aviv)
On Wednesday night, Greenblatt, an observant Jew, visited the Old City’s Yeshivat Hakotel, a Talmudical seminary located in what the international community calls illegally occupied territory, and waxed on Twitter over the stunning “view of the heart of ancient Jerusalem.”
But if you thought that his Orthodoxy and his past as a student in a West Bank yeshiva had caught up with him, Greenblatt then tweeted that following his visit to the yeshiva he walked five minutes “to the home of a new Palestinian friend and saw the same sacred site, from a different angle.”
Visited Yeshivat HaKotel tonight in the Old City, with a view of the heart of ancient Jerusalem
Then walked 5 minutes to the home of a new Palestinian friend and saw the same sacred site, from a different angle
Some Israelis wondered why Greenblatt had chosen not to wear his customary big, black kippa during his diplomatic meetings. (He remained bareheaded even during the interfaith meeting, only putting on his kippa afterwards for the group photo.) He wanted to appear statesmanlike and not give the impression that he was biased in favor of Jewish Israelis, pundits surmised. But Greenblatt at no point hid his strong Jewish identity. At a stopover in Frankfurt before arriving, he tweeted a photo of his siddur, prayer shawl and phylacteries, indicating that he was about to “[p]ray for peace.”
On Thursday evening, as he wrapped up a visit he called “extremely positive,” he thanked Netanyahu and his staff for helping him make a minyan — the required forum of ten Jewish men — so he could say the Kaddish prayer in memory of his late mother.

Friendly, positive tweets

Like his boss, Greenblatt tweeted frequently. Very much unlike his boss, his tweets were well-crafted messages of peace — friendly, positive and balanced. “I was extremely fortunate to meet some incredible Israelis and Palestinians on my trip. Thank you all for your perspectives!” he wrote as he headed toward Ben Gurion Airport.
If Netanyahu thought Trump would easily give him green light to build wherever he wants, he has to think again.
People who spoke to Greenblatt said his mission was to listen and not necessarily to convey elaborate policy proposals. In contrast to the Obama administration — which had a very clear vision of how a solution to the conflict should look from day one — the Trump White House currently appears interested in fully understanding where everyone is at before formulating a coherent Middle East policy.
During his February 15 press conference with Netanyahu, the president said whatever solution both parties want would be fine with him, be it a one-state or a two-state solution. It seems a safe assessment that many of Greenblatt’s interlocutors here argued passionately for the need for a Palestinian state.
Benjamin Netanyahu, second left, and Donald Trump, second right, meeting in the Oval Office with their wives Sara Netanyahu, right and Melania Trump, left on February 15, 2017. (Raphael Ahren/ Times of Israel)
Benjamin Netanyahu, second left, and Donald Trump, second right, meeting in the Oval Office with their wives Sara Netanyahu, right and Melania Trump, left on February 15, 2017. (Raphael Ahren/ Times of Israel)
And it is in this context that the envoy’s unfinished negotiations with Netanyahu over settlement expansions should be seen. The White House has so far refrained from endorsing a two-state solution, but the fact that Netanyahu in two lengthy meetings did not manage to convince Greenblatt to give him free rein in the West Bank indicates that the Trump administration is determined to keep the prospect of Palestinian statehood alive.
Netanyahu publicly promised to build a new settlement for the recently evicted residents of the illegal Amona outpost, and vowed to reach an agreed-upon policy with the administration regarding settlement construction, but no such deal was done by the time the US envoy flew back to Washington. When this reporter tweeted on Thursday evening that Greenblatt’s second powwow with Netanyahu had ended without concrete results, the US envoy replied that “complex matters are not black and white and require significant time and attention to review and resolve.”
Dear @jdgreenblatt45, you had 8 hours to discuss the issue with the PM and still no agreement. With all due respect, glass seems half-empty
@RaphaelAhren Raphael complex matters are not black and white and require significant time and attention to review and resolve.
According to various sources, significant gaps remain between the two sides. If Netanyahu thought Trump would give him the green light to build wherever he wants, he has to think again.

Some Israeli politicians and pundits surmised on Friday that Netanyahu started missing Barack Obama this week. In the past, he could always blame the former president’s perceived anti-Israel attitude when pressured by his right-wing rivals over the slow pace of settlement constructions. With Trump, who etched his friendship to Netanyahu onto the White House website, this is no longer possible.