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Post  Admin on Fri 05 Jun 2015, 5:36 pm

French Telecom Giant Cuts Ties With Israeli Subsidiary
Israel Daily News Stream1 day ago
Today’s Top Stories
1. The French telecom giant, Orange, severed ties with its Israeli subsidiary after CEO Stephane Richard provoked a firestorm by saying he’d cut ties with Israel “tomorrow” if not for the huge penalties that would be incurred.

Israeli officials demanded the French government denounce Richard’s boycott call. Partner Communications Ltd, which operates Orange’s Israeli franchise, is weighing legal action. Partner’s owner, Haim Saban spoke out, while employees in Rosh HaAyin turned Orange blue and white.
See HonestReporting’s take: Orange CEO: We’d Leave Israel “Tomorrow.”
2. YNet: The Israeli Air Force hit three Hamas targets in Gaza in response to overnight rocket fire. Three Palestinian rockets landed in open areas causing no injuries or damage.
Ron Ben-Yishai and Avi Issacharoff explain an Israel-Hamas-Salafist triangle of sorts. Only in Israel, right? Issacharoff writes:
The Salafis threatened to respond within 48 hours to the killing of one of their prominent activists by Hamas security forces. While one may have thought that the Salafi retaliation would target Hamas headquarters or positions in the Strip, now it is clear that the preferred response is rocket fire at Israel. Even the jihadi groups have realized that Hamas’s main priority right now is to keep the peace.
Ironically, Israel in recent months has been the main lifeline for the Hamas regime in the Strip. Moreover, the Jewish state is virtually the only regional and global player keen on keeping Hamas in power.
3. IDF source: “We’ll evacuate more than a million civilians in south Lebanon within 24 hours before proceeding to strike thousands of Hezbollah targets in some 240 villages and built-up regions.”

News breaks fast. Get HonestReporting alerts by e-mail 
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Israel and the Palestinians
• If Paris doesn’t handle L’affaire Orange carefully, it’ll waste political capital with Israel by the time French diplomats present a Mideast peace initiative to the UN later this year. That’s what came to mind when I saw this tweet by the French ambassador to the US, Gerard Araud.

Gerard Araud
• Worth reading: Professor William Jacobson visits the Negev Bedouins to get a first-hand look at problems both “real and imagined.”
The heart of the conflict is Israel’s attempt to bring organization to the Negev population, including utility services, building codes and education to the Bedouin spread out in hundreds of locations in rundown tents and shacks. A nomadic or semi-nomadic lifestyle is incompatible with a modern state, particularly in such confined space . . .
There is an element of exploitation at two levels. First, tents sometimes are pitched with the knowledge of where a road is planned, in the hope that the government will pay extra. Also, false claims sometimes are made as to how long a home or group of homes have been in a location. We passed one solo hilltop tent/shack, and the official explained that the family rotates having someone stay there; they claim that they have been there for years, but he has satellite images showing that they were not there even a month ago.
Second, international organizations exploit situation to organize protests . . .
• Irish Times journalist Michael Jansen wins today’s Lead Screed, tying together quotes from various Palestinian personalities and left-wing Israeli activist Jeff Halper. It’s the first of a three-part series, so stay tuned for more headlines and chestnuts like these:

Irish Times
He argues Palestinians do not face South African-style apartheid but “warehousing”, the situation of inmates in US prisons, locked away and excluded from society.
• YNet takes a closer look at how Israeli banks, real-estate companies, security firms, hi-tech products, and agriculture are impacted by BDS.

• An umbrella group representing 113 UK universities distanced itself from the National Union of Students vote to align itself with the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS). This is from the statement of Universities UK.
Given the reported perception in Israel that UK universities support an academic boycott, the board of Universities UK wishes to confirm its previously stated position that it is firmly opposed to any academic boycott of Israeli universities. The board also confirms its view that all universities must uphold, in the interests of free expression of ideas, the fundamental right of academics to question national and international policies.
Around the World
• Washington Post reporter Lally Weymouth discussed Mideast issues with Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon.

• With Qatar spending $200 billion on stadiums, roads, real estate, and infrastructure for the 2022 World Cup, the Wall St. Journal reports that the country’s banking, construction, and tourism sectors are at risk if it loses the tournament and investor confidence.
• Tony Blair to fight anti-Semitism and religious extremism in Europe. Blair laid out his plans in a Times of London op-ed co-written with European Jewish Congress chief Moshe Kantor. More background and links at the Daily Telegraph.
• The French town of La Seyne-sur-Mer voted to name a street after Yasser Arafat. The town already has a street named after Yitzhak Rabin.
• Spanish police arrested a woman who uploaded a number of videos calling for the maiming and “extermination” of Jews and Zionists.
• Tweet of the day goes to Anshel Pfeffer:

• Campus anti-Semitism has been decades in the making. Daryl Deino shares his perspective as a long-time California teacher:
Many educators will claim that although they are against Zionism, they are not necessarily anti-Semitic. There are blurred lines here, especially when the same educators revise history and teach students that Israel is similar to Nazi Germany in many ways. This is why millennials have contributed so much to Jew-hatred. It’s all based on lies they learned in their classrooms.
• On the fifth anniversary of the Mavi Marmara, Turkish journalist Burak Bekdil ponders what “Turkey’s flotilla” was really about.

By discreetly encouraging the flotilla, and possibly calculating its aftermath, the Turkish government aimed at two things: boosting then Prime Minister [now president] Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s popularity on the Arab Street and consolidating his votes among Turkey’s conservative masses. The first aim has dramatically failed, except in the Palestinian territories and Qatar; but the second has been achieved.
• I’m also reading:

– Dan Margalit: Anti-Semitism rejoices over boycotts
– Josh Mitnick: Sports as a new BDS arena
– Aaron David Miller: The Obama-Netanyahu wars continue
– Khaled Abu Toameh: Who is blocking Palestinian elections?
– Gregory Gause: Why isn’t there an anti-Iran alliance?
– Karl Vick: You really can’t tell your terrorists without a scorecard

Featured image: CC BY-NC-SA flickr/Ed Yourdon with additions by HonestReporting; Cambridge CC BY-NC-ND flickr/King’s College, Cambridge

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Post  Admin on Wed 03 Jun 2015, 11:25 pm

Jordan Clamors for Palestinian Soccer Chief’s Head
Israel Daily News Stream11 hours ago
Today’s Top Stories
1. Jordanians are clamoring for Jibril Rajoub’s head amid claims the Palestinian soccer chief voted for Sepp Blatter instead of Jordanian Prince Ali Bin al-Hussein for the position of FIFA president. Many Jordanians are calling for Rajoub to be banned from the country and his Jordanian citizenship revoked. Rajoub says he voted for Prince Ali. That’s the background behind Mahmoud Abbas’s damage-control visit to Amman yesterday.

Blatter resigned four days after being re-elected. FIFA will choose a new president sometime in the next 6-9 months. Prince Ali is expected to toss his hat in the ring.
2. President Obama’s interview on Israeli Channel 2 aired last night. The president insisted to reporter Ilana Dayan that sanctions and military action were only “temporary” solutions for Iranian nukes. Obama was also quite critical of Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu on the peace process.
Watch the video or read the transcript, and take your pick of Times of Israel or YNet coverage.
3. Britain’s National Union of Students voted to align itself with the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel, and also boycott Israeli companies. See Jewish Chronicle coverage.
4. Filmmaker: Islamic State is Closer to Israel than People Realize: Israeli film maker Itai Anghel documented ISIS and lived to tell about it.
Israel and the Palestinians
• Israeli academics fear they’re being subjected to an unofficial “latent” boycott by their peers. Here’s what they told Haaretz:

These signs include turning down invitations to attend conferences held in Israel, ignoring requests to write recommendation letters for Israeli scholars seeking promotions, and rejecting submissions from Israeli scholars in peer-reviewed journals. Hostility toward Israel is not typically cited as the reason, but Israeli university leaders say the growing incidence of such cases has them worried.
• Britain and France aren’t participating in this year’s Israel defense expo in Tel Aviv. The Jerusalem Post doesn’t attribute this to any formal boycott, just a “climate.”

In the days and weeks leading up to this year’s exhibition, a number of companies were denied permission to participate in the Tel Aviv show by the governments of France, Britain, the Scandinavian countries, and other western European nations. One Spanish defense firm will present its wares in a booth but under a different name so as not to risk economic ties with nations that have boycotted Israel.
“There are companies that have no desire to attach their names to the expo and to be seen selling offensive weapons to Israel,” a defense official told The Jerusalem Post’s Hebrew-language sister publication Ma’ariv Hashavua.
• It’s been one year (on the Hebrew calendar) since Israeli teenagers Eyal Yifrah, Naftali Fraenkel, and Gil-ad Shaer were kidnapped and brutally murdered by Palestinians. One million people around the world are marking the anniversary with a Day of Unity. See also the Jerusalem Post and YNet, who talked to the parents.

• BBC Radio 4 presenter Sarah Montague’s interview with Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon breached impartiality rules as not challenging enough, according to a provisional BBC ruling. Meanwhile, we’re still trying to hold Tim Willcox accountable.
• Haaretz: The PA is launching a new TV station for Israeli Arabs. The station, F48 (short for Falastin 1948), will be controlled by the PA and is due to broadcast for the first time on June 18, to coincide with the start of Ramadan.
• Nice CNN interview with The head of the civil department at Israel’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) about Gaza reconstruction. Col. Grisha Yakubovich is Israel’s point man on food, construction material, and humanitarian aid going into the strip.
• Dutch travel warning cautions travelers about “sometimes violent” stone-throwing Jewish “colonists.”
Taj Mahal• India’s media gave Prime Minister Narendra Modi a thumbs up for announcing plans to visit Israel (date to be determined).

Reactions include a Business Standard staff-ed, and Hindustan Times assistant editor Viju Cherian, who explains the mistake of “hyphenating Israel-Palestine relations.” Last, but not least, Professor Harsh V. Pant weighed in:
If Arab nations, such as Jordan, have been able to keep their traditional ties with Palestine intact while building a new relationship with Israel, there is no reason for India not to take a similar route, which might give it more room for diplomatic manoeuvring.
• I’m also reading:

– David Horovitz: No, Mr. President, you don’t fully understand our fears
– Dan Margalit: Obama’s unanswered questions
– Ron Kampeas: Where the Obama-Netanyahu relationship went wrong
– Mati Wagner: Does Obama not see that Jew hatred distorts Iran’s view of reality?

Featured image: CC BY flickr/Mark Bray with additions by HonestReporting; Taj Mahal CC BY flickr/Abe Bingham;

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Post  Admin on Tue 02 Jun 2015, 5:19 pm

Israeli Airstrike in Eastern Lebanon?
Israel Daily News Stream4 hours ago
Today’s Top Stories
1. As this roundup went to press, there were conflicting reports of an alleged Israeli airstrike in eastern Lebanon, near the Syrian border. It’s not yet clear what may have been targeted or if there were casualties.

2. Syrian Druze could flee to Israel as Assad may abandon them to ISIS. Israeli Druze activists told government officials and the Jerusalem Post that the ISIS threat to their co-religionists in southern Syria is now “existential.” For more on the IDF assessment of the Syrian situation, see Haaretz.
3. A cyberattack tied to Hezbollah ups the ante for Israel’s digital defenses:
The malware discovered is more advanced than most and signals a high degree of technical ability among the militant group, he says. This is the first time Hezbollah has been tied to a major cyberattack.
4. HR Radio: Time Correction, Battling the BBC, and Weymouth’s Double Standards: The Washington Post’s Lally Weymouth interviews an Israeli and a Palestinian official, but makes clear whose view she thinks is more reasonable. HonestReporting’s Yarden Frankl also discusses a new petition demanding BBC accountability. Click below to hear the full interview on the Voice of Israel.
Israel and the Palestinians
• Gaza’s ISIS supporters warned Hamas to end its crackdown on them, though no specific consequence was threatened, reports AP. Later in the day saw reports that Hamas killed a Salafist supporter of ISIS. I’d like to say “pass the popcorn,” but when Palestinians fight like this, someone eventually has to demonstrate his jihadi machismo by firing rockets at Israel.

• Israel slammed the UN for granting accredited NGO status to a Hamas front organization. Reuters and AFP picked up on the story.
• Der Spiegel was accused of manufacturing a German-Israeli diplomatic crisis. I added links to the German language sites referred to in the Jerusalem Post:
Spiegel alleged that Israel denied Steinmeier’s plane permission to fly through its airspace during a trip to the Middle East in May because he snubbed a visit to Israel.
“Spiegel’s contention is astonishing, because at that time it was already known that Steinmeier would be coming to Israel in two weeks to receive an honorary doctorate at Hebrew University, “ wrote Ulrich Sahm, a prominent German journalist in the German-language website Israelnetz.

• Haaretz updates the latest on the European drive to label settlement products.
• The Times of Israel takes a closer look at New Zealand’s foray into Mideast diplomacy.
• Professor William Jacobson of Legal Insurrection visited Sderot.
Around the World
• Iran’s stockpile of nuclear fuel grew 20 percent during the course of 18 months of international negotiations. According to the New York Times, nobody’s sure how how or why, but one thing is clear: The disclosure is a serious headache for President Obama:

In essence, the administration will have to convince Congress and America’s allies that Iran will shrink its stockpile by 96 percent in a matter of months after a deal is signed, even while it continues to produce new material and has demonstrated little success in reducing its current stockpile.
• President Obama to Israeli media: There’s no military solution to stop Iran. The full interview airs tonight.

• According to Iranian estimates, it would take 50,000 troops to save Bashar Assad. If sent, their task would be to ensure that Syria’s coastal region isn’t cut off from Damascus.
• A Belgian cop faces dismissal after writing on Facebook how he’d “kill each and every Jew.”
• George Galloway says he wants to be London mayor to rally support for Palestinian cause.
• Worth reading: Foreign Policy picked Jeffrey Goldberg’s brain about Obama, Israel, Iran and the peace process.

But I also worry that he is unrealistic about aspects of the Iran deal, for a number of reasons — the way they will spend their money, his belief that his negotiators are dealing with rational people — rational in the way that you and I think of rationality — and so on.
On Gulf issues, the hardest swallow is that he appeared to be warning Saudi Arabia of the consequences associated with gearing-up its own nuclear program, but he’s attempting to strike a deal with Iran that allows it, in essence, to maintain the infrastructure of a nuclear program. In other words, an ally is being treated more harshly, in this one way, than an adversary. Of course, his answer to this is that Saudi Arabia has America behind it, so it doesn’t need a nuclear program. Still, the optics are strange, and the unhappiness of certain Arab leaders is understandable.
By the way, Goldberg posted a critique of Obama’s understanding of Israel by former IDF general and intelligence expert Yossi Kuperwasser.

rupees• Elliott Abrams on BDS and Israel’s burgeoning business ties with India and China:
The perils for Israel in the hostility shown by many Europeans, and from the BDS movement, are real, but they should not crowd out understanding of the rest of the picture. While the American ‘pivot to Asia’ is largely illusory, Israel’s own is real–and successful. Often more attention is directed at critical actions toward Israel by nations such as Ireland, population 4.6 million, than to Israel’s developing political and economic relations with the world’s two most populous countries. One might even wonder who is growing more isolated–Israel or its most hostile critics?
• I’m also reading:

– Benny Avni: Obama’s nuke deal will leave Iran funding even more terror.
– Jennifer Rubin: The concessions to Iran keep on coming
– Professor Abraham Miller: The common core of BDS and campus anti-Semitism.
– Yoaz Hendel: BDS is an asymmetric war for world opinion
– Dore Gold: The Gaza War 2014: The war Israel didn’t want and the disaster it averted.
– Colum Lynch: Behind scenes, US shields Israel at UN
– Omer Dostri: Hezbollah’s indirect war on Israel

Featured image: CC BY-NC flickr/Ben Raynal with additions by HonestReporting; Goldberg via YouTube/Face the Nation on CBS; rupees CC BY-NC-ND flickr/sangboo nam;

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Post  Admin on Mon 01 Jun 2015, 6:04 pm

What Reassurances Did the US Give the PA?
Israel Daily News Stream6 hours ago

Today’s Top Stories
1. Hamas continues cracking down hard on ISIS supporters. But if ISIS popularity continues to rise in Gaza, it could make for some interesting bedfellows, according to the Financial Times (click via Google News).

Some regional analysts now speculate that, were Isis’s influence to expand further in Gaza or Egypt’s adjoining Sinai peninsula, Hamas could end up forging a common cause — openly or otherwise — with either Israel or Egypt, whose military government it also despises.
“There might be indirect and undeclared co-operation between Hamas and Egypt, and between Hamas and Israel,” Yoram Schweitzer of Tel Aviv’s Institute for National Security Studies wrote in a paper about Isis in Gaza published last week.

2. The Washington Post‘s Lally Weymouth interviewed PA Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah. She pressed Hamdallah on Palestinian precondition for peace talks.
I’d like know more about the reassurances Hamdallah says the US gave the PA  about resuming peace talks after an Iranian nuclear deal is reached.
3. A Hamas-affiliated journalist writing in a Hamas-affiliated newspaper called on the group to hold negotiations with Israel. According to the Jerusalem Post:
He said that Hamas could negotiate with Israel over specific issues concerning the Gaza Strip without making political concessions, such as recognizing Israel’s right to exist.
Al-Sawwaf made the call in an article published in the Hamas-affiliated online newspaper Al-Resalah. The article is entitled, “Why should there be no negotiations?”
It was the first time that a leading journalist with close ties to Hamas had come out in favor of negotiations with Israel.

Israel and the Palestinians
• Palestinian activists got into tiff with New York Times correspondent Jodi Rudoren. Describing the BDS movement, Rudoren correctly wrote:

The founding document of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement includes a reference to Palestinian refugees’ right to return to their homes inside Israel proper, and some of its leaders call for a single state between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River. Most Israeli Jews, as well as many outside experts, see either such a one-state solution or the return of all refugees and their descendants as a demographic death warrant for Israel as a Jewish state, which is how it was founded in 1948.
You can see sturm und drang on Twitter after one Palestinian journalist didn’t quote Rudoren accurately . . .

• India announced that Prime Minister Narendra Modri will visit Israel in the near future. No date has been specified, but it will be the first visit by an Indian head of state to Israel. The Hindustan Times suggests the trip might take place in November, while the Times of India wrote:
Modi’s visit to Israel is almost a foregone conclusion. There aren’t many world leaders he refers to as “my friend”, which is a regular prefix he uses for Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu.
• Germany’s foreign minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, wrapped up talks in Jerusalem with Israeli officials. He’s continuing on to Gaza, though he won’t be meeting with anyone from Hamas. Both Israel and Hamas denied that Steinmeier is mediating a deal to release Palestinian prisoners for the bodies of IDF soldiers killed during Operation Protective Edge.
• CNN: Israel’s Knesset includes more women than ever before.
• Things that make me go hmmmm: It looks like IDF guidelines will crack down on social media but ease up on marijuana.
Around the World
• Times of Israel: Disgraced FIFA executive Jack Warner, who already blamed “Zionism” for the soccer scandal, was now called out for using fake news in his defense. After discovering that The Onion was a satirical web site and that the 2015 Summer World Cup  doesn’t exist, Warner removed the video from his YouTube channel and replaced it with an Onion-free version. Warner wasn’t fast enough: Other bloggers saved and re-posted the original video.

By the way, Zionists South Africa confirmed paying Warner $10 million in 2008, two years before hosting the 2010 World Cup.
• Light earthquake hits town near Iran’s Bushehr nuclear plant
• B’Tselem’s executive director, Haggai El-Ad, got op-ed space in the New York Times to discuss voting rights for Israelis and Palestinians in the West Bank.

The hole in El-Ad’s argument is that Palestinians do have voting rights, and the reason they’re not holding elections is because Hamas and Fatah remain at loggerheads. That’s an internal Palestinian problem, of course, but it’s so much easier to blame Israel:
To be sure, after the Oslo accords were signed in 1993, Palestinians in the occupied territories got to cast ballots for some institutions of their own. But Palestinian independence never came to pass, and the interim partial autonomy established in its stead underscored how “temporariness” is abused while ultimate control remains with Israel.
• Even if Bashar Assad is toppled, Hezbollah’s too entrenched in Lebanon to be dragged down too, argues Yoav Stern.

• According to Johns Hopkins University’s Dr. Christina Lin, China may be a more constructive broker for Mideast peace than the west.
• Tweet of the Day, courtesy Eugene Kontorovich
• Here’s what else I’m reading today . . .

– Smadar Perry: When the political game reaches the soccer field
– Ben-Dror Yemini: BDS is a threat to Israel’s very existence
– Tony Badran: Obama will even defend anti-Semitism to spin his Iran deal
– Daniel Gordis: Israel’s president sings a different tune
– Seth Frantzman: Success and pitfalls of Palestinian anti-normalization
– Yossi Klein Halevi: Navigating existential divides
– Professor Efraim Inbar: The European peace offensive
– Faisal Abbas: Is it called ‘terrorism’ or ‘violent extremism’?

Featured image: CC BY-NC flickr/Gregor Gruber with additions by HonestReporting; Hamdallah CC BY-SA Wikimedia Commons; Modi CC BY-SA flickr/Narendra Modi;

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Post  Admin on Sun 31 May 2015, 3:34 pm

Palestinians Drop Bid to Kick Israel Out of World Soccer
Israel Daily News Stream3 hours ago
Today’s Top Stories
1. The Palestinians dropped their bid to kick Israel out of international soccer. Haaretz describes the compromise that was reached with International Federation of Association Football (FIFA) executives:

Then, the Congress passed an amended version of the Palestinian proposal, which called for the formation of a committee to look into freedom of movement of Palestinian soccer players. The committee would also look at Israeli racism and the status of Israeli league teams based in the West Bank.
More on the fallout below.

2. Pope Francis: “anyone who does not recognize the Jewish people and the State of Israel — and their right to exist — is guilty of anti-Semitism.” The Times of Israel has background on the Pope’s comments to Portuguese-Jewish journalist Henrique Cymerman.
The pope got thumbs-ups from Jonathan Tobin and a New York Daily News staff-ed.
3. Cypriot police busted a Hezbollah operative with nearly two tons of ammonium nitrate in his Larnaca home.
Security sources in Israel say they believe the apartment in which the suspect was captured was an explosive- materials storeroom that belonged to Hezbollah and was supposed to constitute an outlet for carrying out a large-scale series of terrorist attacks across Europe against Jewish, Israeli and Western targets.
This has Benjamin Weinthal asking if Europe will now fully ban Hezbollah.

4. “Modern and Hip”: Journalist expresses surprise that “modern and hip” cabinet minister has a differing opinion on the peace process.
Israel and the Palestinians
• Diplomats to YNet: With the FIFA fight over for now, Israel’s next battle will be over the Olympics.

• Palestinian soccer chief Jibril Rajoub is under fire back home and on social media.
Many Palestinians fear that dropping the bid will also set a precedent and lead to international pressure to withdraw other appeals to the international community.
• Israel gave a green light to a number of Qatari-funded Gaza reconstruction projects.
• The Olympia Food Co-Op lost its protection from lawsuits over its boycott of Israeli products. The JTA and Legal Insurrection explain how it unfolded and what it means.
• Whatever happened to the Palestinian parliament building that went up in the eastern Jerusalem neighborhood of Abu Dis?
• Terrific New York Times piece on Israel’s pioneering conservation of water. Reporter Isabel Kershner looks at the Jewish state’s water recycling, desalination, and other technologies making water use more efficient.
Israel has, in the meantime, become the world leader in recycling and reusing wastewater for agriculture. It treats 86 percent of its domestic wastewater and recycles it for agricultural use — about 55 percent of the total water used for agriculture. Spain is second to Israel, recycling 17 percent of its effluent, while the United States recycles just 1 percent, according to Water Authority data.
Around the World
• World powers said to agree on ‘snapback’ sanctions mechanism

• Businessmen unable to wait for international sanctions on Iran to end are already beating a path to Persia, scouting out opportunities and lining up partners. But all the wheeling and dealing could pose problems for the White House. The Washington Times explains why:
The enthusiasm for deals could prove a political headache for the Obama administration, which has insisted that current sanctions could quickly “snap back” into effect if Tehran was caught cheating on its pledge not to seek a nuclear weapon and to allow international inspections. The more deals that are struck in the wake of a deal, the more difficult it will be to cut them off later on, critics of the deal have argued.
• Judging from Arab reports picked up by YNet, Russia’s abandoning Bashar Assad.

• If you haven’t seen it yet, here’s a video of Professor Robert Wistrich’s last public appearance before he died of a heart attack last week. Wistrich, the world’s foremost authority on anti-Semitism, addressed the biennial Global Forum for Combating Anti-Semitism.
Robert Wistrich addresses Global Forum for Combating Antisemitism

• Egypt has only opened the Rafah border crossing to Gaza for five days all year, though 10 Palestinians have died at the crossing waiting to return to their homes. Had these people died stranded at the Israel-Gaza border, the foreign press would’ve been all over the story, writes Khaled Abu Toameh:

Egypt’s continued closure of the Rafah terminal has failed to attract the attention of many Western journalists covering the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Some of the journalists say they are unable to report about the plight of the Palestinian travellers stranded on the Egyptian side of the border because the Egyptian authorities will not allow them to reach the area. Other journalists find it easier to cover the story from the Israeli side, which allows them to put the onus of the blockade on Israel.
• Jonathan Tobin points out that the core disputes between Israel and Palestinian soccer executives were resolved before the FIFA meeting. So why did Jibril Rajoub keep pushing for Israel’s ouster until it was clear he didn’t have enough votes?
Every time Israel makes a concession, whether by setting up the Palestinian Authority under the Oslo Accords, offering statehood as it first did in 2000 or withdrawing from all of Gaza, it not only gets no credit. Israel’s willingness to be compromise only seems to generate more hostility from its foes and their foreign cheerleaders.
The problems of athletes was only a pretext for another straightforward effort to ostracize the Jewish state and stemmed from a political culture that regards the war on Zionism to be indistinguishable from the assertion of Palestinian identity.
• I’m also reading:

– Boaz Bismuth: No red card for Israel
– Melanie Phillips: Israel’s foreign ministry moves to be right
– Jeff Robbins: Hamas quashes reasons for hope
– Jonathan Spyer: Hezbollah deepens its involvement in Syria

• For a sense of what the other side’s saying, see Hebrew University’s radical anti-Zionist professor, David Shulman, and his take on Breaking the Silence, at the New York Review of Books.

Featured image: CC BY flickr/Official GDC with additions by HonestReporting; CC BY-NC-ND flickr/Janie Easterman; soccer ball CC BY flickr/Raul Hernandez Gonzalez

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Post  Admin on Thu 28 May 2015, 10:05 pm

Will FIFA Scandal Undermine Palestinians?
Israel Daily News Stream8 hours ago

Today’s Top Stories
1. The corruption scandal in FIFA (I liked how Vox explained this complicated story), punctuated by the arrest of seven high-level officials, will probably kill Palestinian efforts to kick Israel out of international soccer. The Jerusalem Post explains why:

Suspending the Jewish state from international play would have rocked world soccer’s boat, inviting allegations of anti-Semitism and double standards. Israel, to say the least, likely would not have gone quietly into the night.
Now, with FIFA’s boat already rocking, member states will probably be loath to pile one controversy on another. FIFA President Sepp Blatter, already opposed to Israel’s suspension (he met last week with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas) is probably looking to avoid two crises on his hands at once.
Palestinians quoted by Time insisted that the scandal won’t wreck their plans, but the Times of Israel suggests PA soccer chief Jibril Rajoub may be softening. Tomorrow’s vote could be delayed as soccer officials go into crisis mode.

As Palestinians hijack soccer to score political goals against Israel, the New York Times becomes a cheerleader. See HonestReporting’s latest critique: New York Times Deserves a Red Card.
2. Is Qatar paying countries to support Palestinians in FIFA vote?
“The corruption affair calls into question FIFA’s credibility,” diplomatic sources said on Wednesday.
“If indeed the allegations are true, and countries did pay to buy votes on hosting the World Cup, who can guarantee us that votes on the bid to suspend Israel are not being bought? We suspect that Qatar, about whom claims are circulating that it paid in order to host the 2022 World Cup, is now paying countries to vote in favor of the Palestinians.”

3. Tony Blair is resigning after representing the Quartet (the US, UN, EU, and Russia) in the Mideast for eight years. He was primarily tasked with helping the Palestinian economy and institutions prepare for statehood:

Western diplomatic sources said that two factors within the Quartet had pushed Blair to resign. The first was the feeling that he work was ineffective and that he had lost credibility in the region. The second was criticism in the international community that his activity as an emissary of the Quartet was contrary to his business interests with some governments in the Middle East. Obama administration officials also said in the past that Blair was no longer an asset.
Israel and the Palestinians
• One of the disgraced FIFA executives suggests Zionists have a hand in the scandal. In a 1,400-word letter to the Trinidad Guardian, FIFA’s ex-vice president Jack Warner wrote:

I will talk about the racism that is within FIFA. I will talk about the levels of religious discrimination which I sought to correct. I will talk about the Zionism, which probably is the most important reason why this acrid attack on Bin Hammam and me was mounted. These are just some of the issues of which I will speak as it relates to the FIFA.
• Former US envoy Dennis Ross had some strong criticisms of President Obama’s handling of Mideast peace talks. The Jerusalem Post picked up on his comments to the Voice of Israel.

• President Reuven Rivlin made some waves for saying he’s open to negotiating with Hamas.
“It is really not important to me with whom I speak, but rather about what we are speaking. I have no aversion to holding negotiations with anyone who is prepared to negotiate. The question is what do they want to negotiate about. If they want to negotiate my very existence, then I would not negotiate with them,” the president said, when asked specifically about talks with Hamas.
• French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius will visit the Mideast in June to push the peace process. AFP/Times of Israel coverage.

Iranian Atomic Urgency
atom• Iranian dissidents detailed to Reuters how North Korea is helping Iran develop nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles.

• With the Iranian trial of Washington Post correspondent Jason Rezaian underway behind closed doors, the New York Times rounds up a list of other foreigners — including several journalists — detained in Iran
• Wendy Sherman, the chief US negotiator in the Iranian nuclear talks, announced that she’ll step down shortly after the talks’ June 30 deadline. The New York Times lays out the significance:
With her departure, all the top officials who have negotiated with Iran over those two years will have left the administration, leaving questions about who will coordinate the complex process of carrying out a deal if one is struck by the deadline.
Around the World
• Vienna landlord orders Jewish tenant to remove Israeli flag and mezuzah or face eviction.

• Anti-Semitism in Malmo reveals flaws in Sweden‘s immigration system
• A Hungarian university’s decision to make Holocaust education mandatory for all students is a first of its kind initiative in Europe.
• Al Pacino pulls out of “Nazi play” in Denmark over author’s support for Hitler.
• Anti-Semitic fliers left in Chevy Chase, Maryland, driveways.
• Nepalese see Israel as source of inspiration.
• Ambassador Samantha Power, a Pulitzer Prize winning ex-journalist, called on the UN to protect journalists in conflict zones as Russia portrays itself as victim
NYTicon• Your daily dose of idiocy, courtesy a New York Times staff-ed on the secret trial of the Washington Post’s Jason Rezaian:

The best hope for a resolution might be the personal intervention of Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Surely he recognizes that the case against Mr. Rezaian and his wife has been a travesty from the start.
• A New York Daily News staff-ed weighs in on Amnesty International’s report on Hamas killing and torturing Palestinians.

• Here’s what else I’m reading:
– Sam Kiley: Blair unlikely to be missed
– Elias Groll: After eight years and few wins, Blair steps down
– Rabbi David Wolpe: Why boycotting Israel is a bad idea
– Clifford May: Anti-Semitism: the longest hatred
– Gary Rosenblatt: Signs of growing disconnect between U.S. Jews and Israel

• Last, but not least, Fisk’s being Fisk, again.

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Post  Admin on Thu 28 May 2015, 9:55 am

Amnesty International Slams Hamas Executions
Today’s Top Stories
1. Amnesty International released a report (summary or full report) on Hamas torture and executions during last year’s Gaza war. According to the report Hamas used Operation Protective Edge as a cover to settle scores with rivals.

Many of these unlawful killings were publicly billed as attacks against people assisting Israel during the July and August 2014 conflict as part of an operation, codenamed “Strangling Necks”, to target “collaborators”. However, in reality, at least 16 of those executed had been in Hamas custody since before the conflict broke out. Many had been awaiting the outcome of their trials when they were taken away from prison and summarily executed.
Hamas forces also abducted, tortured or attacked members and supporters of Fatah, their main rival political organization within Gaza, including former members of the Palestinian Authority security forces.
Not a single person has been held accountable for the crimes committed by Hamas forces against Palestinians during the 2014 conflict, indicating that these crimes were either ordered or condoned by the authorities.
Quite a few news services picked up on this. Strongest coverage was from the Associated Press and Daily Mail. But I’m glad the BBC, New York Times, and The Guardian, among others, gave the story the attention it deserved.

2. The Israeli Air Force struck terror targets in Gaza after Palestinians fired a rocket at Israel, which landed in the Ashdod area last night. The Times of Israel reports that the rocket fire “was the result of an internal dispute inside the Islamic Jihad terror group, which has included kidnappings of people in northern Gaza.” Hamas told YNet the people responsible for the attack were arrested.
No Israelis were injured, though the Jerusalem Post reports a 15 year-old girl was hospitalized after suffering a panic attack. Classes were cancelled today at 14 Ashdod schools lacking fortified rooms. Other city schools had classes as usual.
Meanwhile, Time magazine’s headline fail is the latest example of the phenomenon we call “It All Started When Israel Fired Back.”
3. ISIS and Palestinian forces are fighting again as the jihadis try to retake positions in the Yarmouk refugee camp. Around 18,000 Palestinians remain in the camp, located in southern Damascus. AFP coverage.
4. Imprisoned Soldier or Free Speech Martyr? Why did the Daily Telegraph portray an IDF soldier imprisoned for breaking army regulations as a free speech martyr?
5. Some Straight Talk About the BDS: When it comes to the goals of BDS, the only people who are confused are the ones in denial.
Israel and the Palestinians
• Europe’s soccer body, UEFA, will reportedly oppose Palestinian bid to oust Israel from FIFA, reports Haaretz.

• YNet takes a closer look at how politics is leaving Israel’s Foreign Ministry stripped of powers. In most countries, diplomacy and P.R. is overseen by a foreign minister who delegates responsibility for various tasks and brings consistency to various efforts.
As an Israeli, I can’t help but be concerned about turf wars, budgeting mishaps, and issues falling through the cracks. YNet’s infographic will help you keep track of who’s doing what from which ministry.
Mideast Matters
• AP: Washington and Moscow are reportedly closing in on a formula for snapback sanctions that can quickly be reimposed if Iran violates a nuclear agreement.

• French diplomats quoted by Reuters say that an Iranian nuclear deal isn’t likely to be reached by the June 30 deadline. But Iranian envoys say the negotiating deadline could be extended.
• IAEA chief Yukiya Amano to AFP: Military site inspections must be part of Iran deal
• How an ayatollah’s daughter came to preach peace between Israel and Iran
• Rate of executions doubles in Saudi Arabia.
Around the World
• Fed up with anti-Semitism, Turkey’s Jews feel a pull to Spain. Why Spain?

Rafi is one of thousands of Sephardic Jews in Turkey who trace their ancestry to Spain and are now applying for Spanish citizenship in anticipation of a parliamentary bill expected to pass this month in Madrid that would grant nationality to the Jews who were expelled in 1492, during the Inquisition.
Most are seeking visa-free travel within Europe and an opportunity to escape what they see as rising anti-Semitism in Turkey. But many are taken with the idea of reversing the trek their ancestors took centuries ago as they escaped persecution in Spain and settled in the more tolerant environs of the Ottoman Empire.

• Israeli consul in Budapest called a ‘dirty Jew’
• A Dutch high school text book says Jewish militias murdered Arabs during Israel’s War of Independence.
Teenager Barak Gorani, who describes himself as an Israeli patriot, complained to his teacher about the book. The teacher agreed that the text was riddled with historical errors, but that she was required to teach it because the Education Ministry required it.
• The BBC spends £2,500 a week buying copies of The Guardian – that’s the equivalent of 900 licence fees a year. (Related reading: How Your Tax Money Funds Media Groupthink)

• UCLA’s Professor Saree Makdisi claims (in a Los Angeles Times op-ed) that Jewish efforts to define anti-Semitism are really aimed at stifling academic debate. Memo to Makdisi: Israel-haters using the tactics of intimidation go beyond academic debate.

• I’m also reading
– Giora Eiland: How to postpone the third Lebanon war
– Raphael Ahren: Can Dore Gold make Israeli diplomacy relevant again?
– Lyn Julius: The demons of the Farhud pogrom are with us still

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Post  Admin on Tue 26 May 2015, 5:58 pm

Netanyahu Offers to Discuss Borders
Israel Daily News Stream4 hours ago
Today’s Top Stories
1. Haaretz: Prime Minister Netanyahu told the EU’s Federica Mogherini he wants to resume peace talks, with an eye to “reach understandings on the borders of settlement blocs that Israel would annex under any peace agreement.”

An Israeli source briefed on Netanyahu’s meeting with Federica Mogherini last Wednesday said the prime minister explained that in this way, it would be clear what parts of the West Bank Israel could continue building in.
Later in the day, the PLO rejected the prime minister’s proposal, but I’m not convinced this is the end of the story.

2. In an interview with Jeffrey Goldberg, President Obama insisted that the Washington must be able to criticize Israel if the US is to defend it in international forums. The President also attacked Benyamin Netanyahu’s election day comments, and defended his Iranian nuclear diplomacy.
The interview was in advance of Obama’s Jewish Heritage Month speech at Washington’s Adas Israel synagogue (video or transcript).
Obama’s remarks stirred a lot of online discussion. See below for the commentary.

3. The Times of Israel and YNet picked up on Hezbollah showing off one of its tunnels to a Lebanese reporter. The Party of God claims they’re meant for firing rockets, not infiltrating Israel. Mitch Ginsburg‘s not impressed, saying Hezbollah’s trying to distract the Lebanese public from its wholesale murder of Syrians:
This is the context in which one should view a series of recent IDF briefings — to Israeli TV, the New York Times and others — regarding the damage to Lebanon and its citizens if Hezbollah triggers a war. If Hezbollah, with which Israel fought a bitter war in 2006, sparks another conflict, Israel’s air force chief Amir Eshel told Israel’s Channel 10 last month, “Lebanon will go through an experience whose dimensions it cannot imagine.”
4. Why is BDS Afraid of the State Department? Criticizing Israeli policy isn’t anti-Semitic. But calling it a Nazi state is more than just criticism. BDS must grasp the difference.

5. HR Radio: Green Lines, Jewish Hands, Terror Tunnels: Yarden Frankl discusses HonestReporting’s plans to appeal a BBC ruling whitewashing Tim Willcox, a Newsweek error, and why Hezbollah tunnels are in the news. Click below to hear the full interview on Voice of Israel.
Israel and the Palestinians

• Israel HaYom: Because of the Knesset’s one-seat majority, MKs can’t afford to miss any votes. While “zero-absences” ought to make for good government, it also means MKs are also unable to represent Israel in international forums.

Here is another story. The Parliamentary Assembly of the Union for the Mediterranean convened in Lisbon, Portugal, earlier this month to discuss immigration and refugee issues. When representatives from Arab states raised the Palestinian issue, there was no Israeli delegate to fend off their proposals. As a result, Israel was dealt a blow, and the assembly adopted a resolution that criticized Israel’s human rights record. Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein was supposed to be there but he was a no-show (he had to preside over the Knesset vote to expand the number of cabinet ministers). His replacement, former Israeli ambassador to the U.S. and Kulanu MK Michael Oren, was told he was prohibited from leaving because his presence in Israel was essential.
“Had Israel sent a representative, the resolution could have been torpedoed, or watered down at the very least,” a Foreign Ministry official lamented this week. An internal memo in the ministry said that “the MKs’ absence had the effect of silencing Israel.”

• Israel’s top diplomat, Tzipi Hotovely, instructed envoys to making the case for Israel to emphasize rights to the land, not just security needs. Meanwhile, former ambassador Dore Gold was appointed director general of the foreign ministry.
The Times of Israel took a closer look at what that means for Israeli diplomacy and for Hotovely.
• Oil rich Gulf States aren’t ponying up on their $2 billion pledge to reconstruct. The International Business Times had clearest coverage of figures released by the World Bank. Turkey was one of the countries named and shamed.
• Foreign Affairs takes a closer look at the crisis of Palestinian succession. After Abbas, an abyss.
Abbas has been leading the Palestinian Authority for a decade now, nearly equal in time to Arafat. In this period, Abbas has ensured that no new leaders would come to the fore as realistic successors. This might have made for good politics locally, allowing him to consolidate control over a potentially fractious polity. But as a national strategy, it could be ruinous for Palestinians as a whole. The Palestinian Authority cannot afford a leadership crisis if Abbas were to leave office, it finds itself divided between Gaza and the West Bank, hamstrung by a moribund peace process, and facing growing discontent in the streets and refugee camps.
• Ahead of next year’s Rio games, the International Olympic Committee is making a gesture to Israel and the families of the Munich massacre victims. JNS coverage.

• The problem of UK tax money going to imprisoned Palestinian terrorists and their family through PA stipends caught the attention of the Daily Express.
• The Washington Post visited Ofra, where Israel Harel is celebrating the settlement’s 40th anniversary.
• What took Turkish investigators so long?
Daily Zaman

Iranian Atomic Urgency
• Israel thanked the US, Britain, and Canada for blocking a controversial UN nuclear disarmament document. Proposed at a Non-Proliferation Treaty conference, the document sought to make the Mideast a nuclear-free zone by setting a deadline for Israel and other states to disarm their atomic stockpiles. Yossi Melman explains why the move gives Israel “five years of grace.”

• According to media reports, the Saudis rejected an Israeli offer to supply the kingdom with Iron Dome technology. Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen have fired rockets at Saudi border towns. One Saudi child was killed and three other kids were injured in a Friday rocket attack. Times of Israel/AP coverage.
• The Jerusalem Post updates the latest on Russia’s sale of S-300 missiles to Iran.
• The trial of Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian begins today in Tehran — and it’s closed to the public.
Jon Williams
Mideast Matters
• Since mid-March, Syrian doctors and civil defense personnel have documented 35 chlorine attacks by the Assad regime. The Guardian writes:

“Most of the targeting is of civilian areas, and most of the injured are women and children,” Tennari said. “It’s almost daily now.”
• An Egyptian journalist took to the streets of Cairo streets dressed as Jew to see what would happen. There were unpleasant moments, but it wasn’t as bad as reporters who recently walked the streets of Paris and Bradford.

• Gaza terrorists share their tunnel expertise with Syrian rebels
• Egypt has destroyed 521 tunnels in the last six months.
• Syria’s state-run satellite TV station went off the air, with Damascus blaming “enemy countries” for interference.
• Meet an Israeli doctor saving Syrian lives and limbs
• Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was sentenced to eight months in prison for taking $150,000 bribes from US businessman Morris Talansky. Last year, Olmert was sentenced to six years for corruption in the separate”Holyland affair.”
Question is, Will Olmert serve the full time?
Around the World
• Anti-Semitism prompts Jews of Scotland to leave.

• Are Belgium‘s Jews any safer now?
• Israeli companies account for 10 percent of the world’s cyber technology sales.
• Reactions to Obama’s interview and speech:

– Bret Stephens: The rational ayatollah hypothesis (click via Google News)
– Eli Lake: Obama cares too much about Israel
– Boaz Bismuth: In Obama’s Middle East there’s only one problem — Netanyahu
– Jonathan Tobin: Iran gives Obama a lesson in negotiating
– Chemi Shalev: I represent American Jewish values better than Netanyahu
– David Bernstein: Obama is nostalgic for “white” Israel
– Omri Ceren: Obama, Israel and “Jewish values”
– Yair Rosenberg: Denying Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish homeland is anti-Semitic

• Col. Richard Kemp, the former commander of British forces in Afghanistan, addressed (see video or transcript) “the amoral revolution in Western values, and its impact on Israel.” He has some choice words for the media corps, but one snippet doesn’t do justice to his criticisms. Col. Kemp expanded on his views in an Israel HaYom interview.
• Should Israel accept Obama’s Iran payoff? Jonathan Tobin offers four reasons Jerusalem should decline Washington’s 1.9 billion arms sale.
• Illinois congressman Peter Roskam weighs in on Congress fighting the anti-Israel boycott, divestment and sanctions movement (BDS) in a Wall St. Journal op-ed. Click via Google News.
• I’m also reading:
– David Horovitz: Netanyahu and the boiling frog
– Amos Harel: Israel may soon be faced with post-Assad Syria
– Benjamin Pogrund: Israel has many injustices. But it is not an apartheid state
– Yossi Beilin: Could football precipitate a political tsunami?
– Ted Lapkin: Replacing Israel with one Arab-Jewish state is lunacy (via Google News)
– New York Post (staff-ed): The disgraceful drive to kick Israel out of FIFA
– Abdulrahman Al-Rashed: Nasrallah’s morons and traitors
– Michael Totten: The Muslim Brotherhood takes off its mask
– Elliott Abrams: Syria’s chemical warfare continues, unpunished

Featured image: CC BY-NC flickr/Smadar Shilo-Marcus with modifications by HonestReporting; Gold CC BY-SA Wikimedia Commons/EinGedi2; Hotovely via Wikimedia Commons/Eman; Olmert via YouTube/euronews;

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Post  Admin on Thu 21 May 2015, 4:38 pm

New Palestinian Fighting Force Emerges in Syria
Israel Daily News Stream3 hours ago
Today’s Top Stories
1. A Palestinian force fighting alongside Hezbollah in Syria is emerging as a new player. MEMRI introduces us to the “Galilee Forces” and why should Israel take note.

The reports on the Galilee Forces joining the fighting in Al-Qalamoun alongside Hizbullah and the Syrian regime appeared alongside reports in the Arab press that linked the present fighting in that area to a future battle between Hizbullah and Israel in the Galilee. Senior Hizbullah official Hashem Safi Al-Din declared that “the resistance can replicate its newly acquired experience from the Al-Qalamoun mountains and Syria in the Galilee.”

Paris2. France is seeking an 18-month deadline for Israel-Palestinian peace talks. According to YNet, the Paris initiative, among other things, calls on the Palestinians to recognize Israel as a Jewish state.

It won’t be presented to the UN Security Council before June 30, which is the deadline for Iranian nuclear talks.
The plan stipulates the formation of a Palestinian state in the pre-1967 lines, with swaps of mutually agreed upon lands similar in size, while taking into account Israel’s security needs . . .
If a two-state solution is not reached by the end of the 18 months of talks, France will announce it is officially recognizing the State of Palestine.
3. The State Dept. and Pentagon approved a $1.9 billion weapons sale to Israel meant to ease Jerusalem’s concerns about the Iranian nuclear talks. YNet reports the deal will include more than 700 bunker buster bombs, 3,000 Hellfire missiles for the air force’s helicopters, and hundreds of other precision guided missiles. The sale still requires Congressional approval.

4. BBC’s Internal Complaints Process “Not Fit For Purpose”: The Beeb’s editorial complaints unit just put the finishing touches on a complete whitewash of Tim Willcox.
Israel and the Palestinians
 Iran stops cash flow to Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Tehran’s piqued that the Gaza-based terror group didn’t issue a statement in support of Houthi rebels in Yemen. A cash crunch has left PIJ unable to pay salaries for the last four months, tsk.

• FIFA chief’s Mideast peace bid fell apart as Palestinians insisted on continuing to push for Israel’s ouster from international soccer. Meanwhile, Jibril Rajoub discussed his efforts to suspend Israel from FIFA with the Times of Israel.
WHO• The UN’s World Health Organization singled out Israel the world’s worst violator of health rights. UN Watch‘s Hillel Neuer explains:
The resolution, which adopted two reports heaping blame upon Israel for allegedly violating the health rights of both the Palestinians and Druze residents of the Golan, was the 2015 assembly’s only treatment of a specific country situation.
There was no debate on the health of the Yemeni people now under indiscriminate Saudi bombardment, no mention at all of the 1,850 Yemenis killed, the 7,394 wounded, and the 545,000 displaced, many of whom are desperate to find food.
• If you’re trying to make sense of yesterday’s confusion over a separate buses plan for Palestinians (it was shot down hours after it was announced), NPR discussed what happened with Jerusalem Post reporter Lahav Harkov.

• The EU’s Federica Mogherini was in Ramallah to talk about talks with PA officials.
• Oh no, Guardian!
• Israel’s national judo team was detained at Morocco’s airport after authorities refused to allow armed Israeli bodyguards to accompany the team to the annual World Judo Masters event this weekend.

Mideast Matters
• The Free Syrian Army has thwarted ISIS bids to reach the Israeli border, reports YNet.

• Israel fears Obama will stop hiding its nuclear “secret”
• Israel says it won’t pay a $1.1 billion judgment to Iran. A Swiss court ordered the Eilat Ashkelon Pipeline Company to pay off commitments predating 1979 Iranian Revolution.
• A video of Syrian airman dropping barrel bombs contradicts Bashar Assad’s denials. The Daily Telegraph explains:
The footage, obtained by al-Jazeera, appears to have been shot on a mobile phone inside a Syrian helicopter. These raids have become so frequent that the airmen behave as if they are following a mundane routine. They laugh and joke as they prime the weapons for use against their fellow Syrians.

• ISIS seized the ancient Syrian city of Palmyra. Will the UNESCO World Heritage site famous for its Roman ruins and archaeological treasures be demolished? See also Michael Weiss in The Daily Beast.

• The Jerusalem Post published what turns out to be Professor Robert Wistrich’s last column. Wistrich, The world’s foremost expert on anti-Semitism, died of a heart attack on Tuesday. According to Wistrich, “Today’s anti-Semitism is a product of a new civic religion that could be termed “Palestinianism.””

Third, we must recognize much more clearly than before that since 1975 (with the passing of the scandalous UN resolution condemning Zionism as racism) hatred of Israel has increasingly mutated into the chief vector for the “new” anti-Semitism.
By libeling the Jewish state as “racist,” “Nazi,” “apartheid” and founded from its inception on “ethnic cleansing,” its enemies have turned Zionism into a synonym for criminality and a term of pure opprobrium.
Hence, every Jew (or non- Jew) who supports the totally “illegitimate” or immoral “Zionist entity” is thereby complicit in a cosmic evil.
• Jonathan Schanzer‘s take on US arms sales to Israel and the Gulf states:

Jonathan Schanzer
• Erin Gloria Ryan of Jezebel takes a closer look at the litany of Al Jazeera America’s woes.
• I’m also reading:
– Karni Eldad: A settler’s view on separation of Jews from Arabs in W. Bank
– Ben-Dror Yemini: Israel scored an own goal in segregated buses decision
– Yakub Halabi: If Israelis and Saudis would only speak in one voice
– Ben Sales: Racism in Israeli soccer?
– Dore Gold: UN failure in southern Lebanon will lead to future civilian casualties

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Post  Admin on Wed 20 May 2015, 6:04 pm

Can FIFA Boss Defuse Israel-Palestinian Tensions?
Israel Daily News Stream4 hours ago

Today’s Top Stories
1. FIFA chairman Sepp Blatter is visiting Jerusalem and Ramallah to defuse Palestinian efforts to kick Israel out of international soccer. Blatter reiterated his opposition to any sanctions, and even suggested a peace match. More background at the JTA and Los Angeles Times.

One particular point of friction where the Palestinians think they have the upper hand: five Israeli teams that play in settlements.
Tom Rayner
2. A Palestinian driver rammed his car into a group of Israeli police officers in eastern Jerusalem near the Mount of Olives, injuring two. YNet reports the driver was shot and killed when he tried to reverse his car over one of the injured officers.
3. Prime Minister Netanyahu suspended a controversial pilot program banning Palestinian workers from buses used by Jews in the West Bank. The move came hours after Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon approved the plan for security reasons, which prompted fierce criticism from Palestinians and Israelis alike.
4. Newsweek Mangles the Green Line: HonestReporting gets the correction after Newsweek fudges the history of the Green Line.

5. HR Radio: An Inciting Angel and Missing Trees: The New York Times doesn’t believe that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas incites to violence, saying Israel only “claims” he does. And what happened to all those olive trees that CNN says were chopped down and “seized” by Israeli settlers? Click below to hear Yarden Frankl’s interview on the Voice of Israel.
Israel and the Palestinians
• Former British soccer executive Simon Johnson is helping Israel avoid being kicked out of FIFA. Johnson discussed the issue with the Jerusalem Post:

In the long history of FIFA, through many international political disputes, the FIFA Congress had, he believed, never voted to suspend a member association, he said.
“During the Balkan conflict, the Afghan and Iraq wars, the Somalia conflict, the civil wars in Sudan and in the current conflict between Russia and Ukraine, FIFA has kept itself above politics and has not taken steps that might favor one side or another in a political conflict.”
Johnson told FIFA and other leading international soccer authority figures that if, in those circumstances, it were to debate and vote to suspend the IFA, having not done so in respect of any other member association, FIFA would be unfairly discriminating against the State of Israel.
• Sky News looks at the history of Israeli soccer in international competition.

Sky News
• The Israeli cabinet approved a five-year plan to upgrade infrastructure and archaeological activity at the Western Wall. AP coverage.
• YNet got a sneak peek at the IDF’s latest non-lethal ammunition for crowd control.
Around the World
• One year after the terror attack at the Jewish museum of Brussels, AFP looks at European Jewish fears of Islamic radicalism.

“The threat of jihadist attacks in Europe is not limited to the Jewish community,” European Jewish Congress chief Moshe Kantor told AFP.
Islamist extremists see European democracy and freedom as their primary enemy. However, Jews remain on the frontlines,” he added . . .
He said fear is beginning to drive members of the 40,000 Jewish community to leave Belgium, adding he knows three families who will leave for Israel over the summer.

• “Unofficial” US-Israel contacts discuss boosting military aid if/when an Iranian nuclear deal is signed. According to Haaretz:
This is in light of the continued defense risk perceived coming from Iran, as well as huge arms deals between the Washington and the Gulf states. The United States is likely to provide Israel with, among other things, more F-35 combat aircraft and another battery of a missile interception system.
• Professor Robert Wistrich, the world’s foremost experts on anti-Semitism, died of a heart attack. Wistrich, who taught at Hebrew University, was in Rome to address the Italian senate on European anti-Semitism. He was 70. See obits at the Times of Israel and Jerusalem Post.

• Iranian artist goes on trial for cartoon mocking draft legislation.
• Worth reading: Natan Sharansky on the BDS movement’s campus efforts:

The danger of movements like BDS is not in the economic damage they could do to Israel; rather, it is in their ability to intimidate anyone who is ready to show sympathy to the Jewish state, an interest in traveling to it, or even a readiness to acknowledge his or her own Jewishness. In this environment, the majority of Jewish students very often becomes a silent majority. While it might seem encouraging, then, that on a representative campus 200 students will attend an Israel-related event organized by one of our fellows, while only 100 participate in BDS’s “Anti-Apartheid Week,” it is far less encouraging when one recalls that the same campus houses roughly 6,000 Jewish students, so many of whom simply choose not to get involved.
Many studies and focus groups have shown that even Jews who are sympathetic toward Israel and feel positively about their own Jewishness choose to be silent in order not to defy mainstream opinion, damage their career, or take up what seems to be a losing cause. To change the atmosphere, then, Israel’s sympathizers have to shift gears, from playing defense to launching a confident offense. They have to take back the banner of human rights and liberalism, and not permit this rhetoric to be misused by those who are defending some of the world’s most reactionary forces.
• President Obama’s trying to leverage “other people’s armies” to deal with Iran. David Rothkopf examines the risks and benefits of the US “letting its friends and enemies slug it out.”

At its best, it is a sound idea that recognizes the limits of American power, the often thankless, frustrating experience of being the world’s policeman, and the reasonable expectation that other nations should clean up their own messes.
But the idea is not without its own limitations. There are multiple deep risks associated with defaulting to this approach. They include the inability to influence outcomes so that they advance or protect vital U.S. interests, the problems associated with having allied armies inadequate to tackling the problem at hand trying and then failing to achieve a goal that might have been achievable with greater U.S. involvement, and the danger of being forced by expediency to support or align ourselves with bad actors, thus making matters materially worse for us and our allies.
• Here’s what else I’m reading today:

– Jonathan Schanzer: The next Gaza war that nobody wants
– Varda Muhlbauer: The BDS boomerang effect in Israel
– Arsen Ostrovsky: The not-so-new anti-Semitism in Europe
– Ron Kampeas: Will Vatican’s Palestine reference impact Jewish-Catholic ties?
– Clifford May: The summit that wasn’t
– Michael Burleigh: The BBC must go on a crash diet to survive

Featured image: CC BY-NC-SA flickr/patrickdevries2003 with additions by HonestReporting; Brussels CC BY-NC-ND flickr/Juan Rubiano; Sharansky CC BY-ND flickr/Jewish Agency for Israel;

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Post  Admin on Tue 19 May 2015, 4:59 pm

New Israeli Cabinet Sworn In
Israel Daily News Stream3 hours ago

Today’s Top Stories
1. According to Mideast media reports, Israeli and Arab diplomats from undisclosed Sunni states met in Jordan:

The report alleged that several Arab diplomats said that countries in the region should be preparing for a new reality as the United States’ influence on regional security begins to retreat.
They also were quoted as saying that Sunni countries in the Middle East are interested in cooperating with Israel on security issues.
2. The new Israeli cabinet was sworn in today. Silvan Shalom was tapped as  Israel’s peace negotiator. The Tunisian-born Shalom, a former foreign minister, will also be in charge of strategic dialogue with the US and serve as Minister of Interior.

Confused? Join the club and check out Ruth Eglash’s take on some unusual cabinet portfolio combos, including the five ministries Bibi’s holding for himself. Netanyahu stops short of creating a Ministry of Magic.
3. The Illinois state legislature voted to divest itself from the boycotters of Israel. In a nutshell, the State Journal-Register explains that Illinois would be barred from investing in companies that boycott Israel, but those companies would still be eligible for government contracts. Governor Bruce Rauner already tweeted his support.
Illinois already has laws banning investment with companies friendly with Sudan and Iran. Illinois had a similar policy with South Africa during apartheid.
4. CNN and the Dubious Journalism of Assertion: If Don Melvin isn’t vetting his sources, fact-checking his stories, or being transparent with readers, what use is he to CNN? Or to us?
Israel and the Palestinians
• AP corrects the record after facing criticism about the way it handled a papal comment to Mahmoud Abbas.

In a story May 16 about Pope Francis meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, The Associated Press erroneously omitted two words when quoting the pope. Francis told Abbas “you are a bit an angel of peace,” not “you are an angel of peace.” The original Italian quote was, “Lei e un po un angelo della pace.”
The controversial quote also caught the attention of the New York Times.

• Hamas security forces assaulted and arrested a Palestinian reporter covering a Turkish official’s visit to Gaza. Judging from Maan News, Hamas wanted to send journos a message Muhammed Fayyad, who works for Al Jazeera, was in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Federica Mogherini
• The European Union’s top diplomat, Federica Mogherini, wants the EU to have a greater role in nudging, resuscitating, pushing, Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. Reuters notes that Europe has a lot of leverage as Israel’s biggest trading partner, but member states are divided on the Mideast.
• Reuters: Israel detained a Canadian-Jordanian man allegedly linked to Hamas.
• Nice AP story on Gazans getting medical treatment in Israel. It would’ve been apropos, though, to acknowledge some instances where Palestinians used medical permits to carry out terror attacks.
Around the World
• Reuters: Israel says Iran violated international sanctions by purchasing aircraft, and hinted at lax US enforcement. The Financial Times (click via Google News) elaborated on the aircraft sale that may have involved front companies connected to the Iranian Revolutionary Guards.

• A US appeals court allowed YouTube to show “Innocence of Muslims,” a low-budget film about Mohammed that led to deadly riots in the Mideast and Africa in 2012. Take your pick of Los Angeles Times or Hollywood Reporter coverage, Contrary to what you may have read at the time, the film was not funded by Israelis.
• Despite Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s bluster, the Turkish government is reportedly pressuring an Istanbul court to drop its Mavi Marmara case. Last year, arrest warrants were issued for senior IDF officials involved in the naval intercept, but Ankara never pressed for Interpol Red Notices.
The latest allegation suggests that the Turkish government regards the ongoing case as a block to normalization of ties between Turkey and Israel. Sources told Today’s Zaman told that O.K. interrupted a meeting of Mavi Marmara judges and told them to drop the case. He reportedly said there is an instructive from the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government and judges should close the case.
• I’m used to Akiva Eldar covering and commenting on the news, not being the news like this. I hope he has speedy recovery.

• Truly bizarre:
Canadian editor: Some of the nicest people I ever met are Nazis
• Part of Lithuania’s power grid coated in Jewish tombstones.
• Eugene Kontorovich on US legislatures mulling anti-BDS bills:

The trade amendments do not take any definite action against boycotters. But they clearly establish that in the eyes of America, the BDS is not like the civil rights protests, as its supporters love to claim, but rather more like the anti-Jewish boycotts so common in Europe in the 20th century, and in the Arab world until this day. Indeed, two state legislatures have in recent weeks passed resolutions saying just that.
BDS-economic-boycotts-fail-770x400 (1)

• As the head of the Palestine Football Association, Jibril Rajoub is spearheading efforts to get Israel kicked out of soccer’s world organization, FIFA. It doesn’t surprise me that The Guardian gave him a soapbox.
• Mudar Zahran, a Jordanian-Palestinian journalist, explains why Israel is vital to the US and Arabs.
Let’s not get confused here — we Arabs are most likely going to keep hating Israel and Jews for decades to come. Still, we may have reached the point where we publicly admit that Israel is a better partner than our so-called Muslim brothers in Iran, Syria or elsewhere.
After all, a strong Israel has never threatened us without a provocation, while Iran is burning up Syria, dismembering Lebanon and destabilizing Bahrain. Iran would also be threatening Saudi Arabia from Yemen, were it not for the tough and pragmatic Saudi deputy crown prince, Mohammad bin Salman, who decided to lead the fight on Iran’s militias there.
An Iranian expansion into Arab states would destroy us Arabs and severely damage American interests and national security. Israel is now the only sane regional power capable of stopping Iran. Iran knows this and thus has limited its harassment of both Arabs and the U.S.
If Israel were to disappear tomorrow, Iran would be in Jordan, Bahrain and even Kuwait the next morning.
• Here’s what else I’m reading today:

– Irwin Cotler: Laundering anti-Semitism through universal public values
– Nadav Shelef: Which borders will states fight for?
– Jennifer Rubin: So why has Obama been hammering Israel for so long?
– Sean Savage: Meet the new neighborhood terrorists in Gaza
– Brig.-Gen. (res.) Yossi Kuperwasser: The lessons of the Syrian chemical weapons discovery
– Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (staff-ed): Papal recognition: Francis boosts the cause of Palestinian statehood

Featured image: CC BY flickr/GotCredit with additions by HonestReporting; CNN CC BY flickr/Charles Atkeison with additions by HonestReporting; Mogherini CC BY-NC-ND flickr/European External Action Service; dollar sign CC BY-NC-SA flickr/Jared Rodriguez/Truthout

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Post  Admin on Mon 18 May 2015, 4:43 pm

Why Did Qatar Arrest a BBC News Crew?
Israel Daily News Stream50 mins ago
Today’s Top Stories
1. Reuters: Tehran is already anticipating oil sales once sanctions are lifted. What will Iran’s re-emergence in the world market mean for OPEC and oil prices?

2. Qatar arrested a BBC News crew investigating the treatment of migrant laborers in Qatar building stadiums for the 2022 World Cup. Odder still, the four-man team led by correspondent Mark Lobel was invited by the Qatari prime minister’s office for an official tour. The group was released after two days. FIFA’s investigating too.
3. Despite Israel’s best efforts to resolve the Bedouin issue, the Associated Press, egged on by Haaretz, is still determined to treat this as a simplistic story of discrimination. Ben-Dror Yemini disagrees.
4. CNN Journalism Goes to the Dogs: Un-named Palestinian sources and unverified reports make for messy journalism.
5. Media, Not Pope, Dub Abbas an “Angel of Peace”: No absolution for reporters violating one of journalism’s cardinal rules.
Israel and the Palestinians
• The Times of Israel takes the pulse of Bethlehem. With unemployment rampant, will the city become a tinderbox of intifada? Or will people just up and leave for opportunities elsewhere?

• Jerusalem Post: Israel intercepted 40 diving suits that were being smuggled into Gaza.
Around the World
• An Arab separatist group in Iran’s Ahvaz region attacked a government building, either killing or injuring two guards. Ahvaz, located in western Iran, is an ethnically Arab-populated area. The Arab Struggle Movement for the Liberation of Ahvaz (ASMLA) claimed responsibility. Details and background at NOW Lebanon.

• Is Hezbollah already looking to profit off Syria’s post-civil war reconstruction? That seems the only plausible explanation for a controversial $200 million cement factory being built in the Bekaa Valley near the Syrian border. Opponents say health and environmental issues are being ignored.
• Reversing herself in the face of criticism, the mayor of the Greek town of Kavala said a Holocaust memorial will be dedicated soon.” The Greek port city was under pro-Nazi Bulgarian occupation when its 1,800 Jews were deported to the Treblinka concentration camp in March, 1943.
• Could an Israeli-Saudi rapprochement mitigate, or even spoil, the US-Iranian detente? Writing at Foreign Affairs, Gabriel Scheinmann looks at how Anwar Sadat broke Egypt out of the Soviet orbit and made peace with Israel, drawing his own conclusions for today.

• It’s time to give Israel the means to take out Iranian nukes, such as bunker buster bombs, argue two US Congressmen in a New York Post op-ed.
The transfer of [Massive Ordnance Penetrators] would not by itself resolve the Iranian nuclear question. Nor would it lessen the need for any deal to ensure that Iran has no technical path to a nuclear weapon. But it would enable the United States to negotiate from a position of strength  and remain in a position of strength long after the negotiations.
• Robert Fisk chews over a Canadian initiative to ban BDS under existing hate laws.

• I’m also reading:
– Karni Eldad: Jerusalem: Not as united as we wanted, but undivisible
– Yossi Beilin: Obama reverts to failed ideas to solve Mideast conflict
– Abdulrahman Al-Rashed: Should Egypt execute Mursi and Brotherhood elite?

Featured image: CC BY-SA flickr/Tom Woodward with additions by HonestReporting; angel CC BY-NC-SA flickr/Jared Rodriguez/Truthout with modifications by HonestReporting; Begin/Sadat via Israel GPO/Ya’acov Sa’ar

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Post  Admin on Sun 17 May 2015, 5:04 pm

Jerusalem Day Clashes Break Out
Israel Daily News Stream5 hours ago
Today’s Top Stories
*** Breaking News *** After this roundup was published, clashes broke out between Palestinians and Israeli police ahead of a a traditional Jerusalem Day march. One police officer was reported injured near the Old City’s Damascus Gate. More at the Jerusalem PostYNet, and Times of Israel.

Jerusalem Day marks the anniversary of the city’s re-unification during the Six-Day War.
* * *
1. Mahmoud Abbas laid out his latest pre-conditions for renewing peace talks:
According to Israel Radio on Friday, Abbas called for the halt of all settlement construction in the West Bank and for the immediate release of Palestinians that were imprisoned before the Oslo Accords who were supposed to be released in 2014.
The Palestinian leader demanded that the talks be held for a minimum of a year, during which the two sides will agree on a specific timetable for an Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank that is to be completed by 2017.
2. An Egyptian court sentenced ex-president Mohammed Morsi to death for his involvement in a mass prison breakout. File this under Calvinball in Cairo.

3. More than 60 people were injured, including many women and children, by a blast in a Hamas training camp. The Jerusalem Post writes:
The reason for the blast is unknown, as well as to why so many children were inside a military-style base.
Hamas has been openly recruiting children for months.

4. Jerusalem: The Media Myth of Two Cities: In honor of Yom Yerushalayim (Jerusalem Day), revisit our video showing the reality of Israel’s capital today and how the history of Jerusalem did not start in 1967.
Israel and the Palestinians
• Who’s who in the new Israeli government. And YNet introduces us to Israel’s top diplomat, Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely.

Hotovely’s appointment and the lack of a minister to lead the Foreign Ministry indicates most of all that the prime minister believes this term will not include negotiations with the Palestinians, but rather more confrontations on the international stage.
This is why he wanted Hotovely, the religious-Zionist sector’s princess, who is known for her sharp tongue, her belief in the right-wing’s way, and her eloquent English. Netanyahu thought that at this time, it would be better to appoint to the Foreign Ministry a religious Zionist woman who believes in the historical bond connecting the people of Israel with the land of Israel, and opposes the concession of lands.
• Worth reading: Matti Friedman‘s look at Jerusalem. He lays out quite a few of the city’s day-to-day nuances and contradictions that usually escape the attention of the foreign press corps.

• Thank you, ladies and gentlemen of The Economist for this two-bit commentary inserted into your news. Hamas overthrew the PA in Gaza in 2007. The last time the Palestinians had national elections (January, 2006 for the Palestinian parliament), “Grillz” was at the top of the music charts, Justin Verlander and Hanley Ramirez were about to start spring training for their rookie-of-the-year seasons, and Prince William was in officers’ school at the Sandhurst Royal Military Academy.
The legitimately elected men of Hamas are hardly Jeffersonian democrats, but they have long clashed with local Salafists, ultra-radical Muslims who believe Hamas is both too liberal and too soft on Israel.
• FIFA president Sepp Blatter said Palestinian efforts to kick Israel out of the international soccer organization are the biggest challenge he faces, as Israel has not violated any rules.
Blatter said that if the Palestine proposal was approved, other nations could use football to air political grievances.
“This could open the doors, where would we go? We want to be in sport and not in politics, we could set a very dangerous precedent,” he told reporters at FIFA headquarters.
See The Media Line for more on the larger diplomatic storm which Israel is at the center of.

• EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini to visit Israel and PA on Wednesday.
• Covering death of settler leader Rabbi Moshe Levinger, AFP doesn’t acknowledge Jewish communities in Hebron and other West Bank towns. At least Associated Press noted the background:
A year after Israel captured the West Bank from Jordan in the 1967 war, Levinger led the first settlers to Hebron, where Jews had lived for centuries until Arab riots drove most of them out in 1929.
• Jerusalem plans to brand itself separately from rest of Israel to boost tourism
YBY• The silly accusation of Israeli pinkwashing (what’s pinkwashing?) is raising a ruckus at the Vancouver Queer Film Festival. The controversy all began when a local gay Jewish group placed an ad in the festival’s guidebook last year featuring an Israeli flag and a rainbow flag with a Jewish star.
The JTA and Canadian Jewish News report that film festival organizers have now opted to ban “overt expressions of nationalism” for its upcoming festival in August.
Lerner also said that under the revised policies, Israeli films could only be included in the festival if they sought to create “critical dialogues about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the Israeli occupation,” the Shalom Life news website reported.
Mideast Matters
• The Wall St. Journal (via Google News) updates the latest on President Obama’s efforts to sell his nuclear diplomacy to skeptical Arab leaders.

• The US was informed months ago that chemical weapons monitors found traces of sarin and VX nerve agents in Syria. According to Josh Rogin and Eli Lake of Bloomberg News:
The discovery set off a months-long debate inside the administration about how to respond. President Obama is said to have not yet decided. Meanwhile, a coalition of rebel groups on the ground has been attacking the area around the facility, raising the danger that the chemical weapons could fall into the hands of the rebels, many of whom are linked to Islamic extremists.
• Has the US lost its Mideast allies over Iran?
• Breitbart picked up on a Brazilian report detailing Hezbollah’s lucrative income from drugs and weapons trafficking, and money laundering in Latin America. The dirty deeds generate $60-100 million a year for Hezbollah, with help from Iranian cultural centers and sympathetic governments in Cuba and Venezuela.
• Hezbollah arranged a press tour so reporters could see areas of the Qalamoun range in western Syria captured from rebels. The New York Times was in on the junket.
Around the World
• In Kevala, Greece, authorities sought removal of Star of David from Holocaust monument unveiling
• Khalif Mitchell, the Montreal Alouettes’ defensive tackle, issued a joint statement with Bnai Brith Canada and the Canadian Football League Players Association after the athlete was fined for posting Holocaust-denying videos on Twitters.

Mitchell’s agent told the Montreal Gazette his client was “this close” to getting kicked off the team, and explained how Mitchell’s formulating a plan to be involved in anti-racism initiatives in the Montreal community.
• JTA: Anti-Semitic vandalism struck a number of European Jewish sites in the last few days, including Vienna’s Sigmund Freud Museum, the offices of a Polish anti-Semitism watchdog, and a Jewish cemetery in the northern French town of Lille.
• Noah Klieger on Pope Francis calling Mahmoud Abbas an “angel of peace.”

If Francis really understood some of what is happening in our region, he could have, for example, asked the “angel of peace” from Ramallah why is it that over the years almost all the Christians have escaped-emigrated from the territories controlled by the Palestinians, while in Israel hundreds of thousands of Christians live peacefully and enjoy full freedom of religion.
• My classmate was run over by a terrorist in Israel.

• Memo to the Palestinian ambassador to Ireland: If you can get “statehood” through world-wide recognition, what’s left to negotiate with Israel?
• I’m also reading:
– Prof. Abraham Miller: Vatican will not protect Christians by recognizing Palestine
– Dror Eydar: An open letter to the Pope
– New York Times(staff-ed): The Vatican and the Palestinians
– David Goldman: How could the world have gotten Israel so wrong?
– William Jacobson: Israel preps media battlefield for next Hezbollah war
– Rolene Marks: Something’s rotten in the state of South Africa
– Michael Totten: The Mideast nuclear arms race is on
– Francine Prose: Writing from a war zone doesn’t make you Anne Frank

Featured image: CC BY-NC-SA flickr/Stefan Georgi with additions by HonestReporting

For more, see yesterday’s Israel Daily News Stream and join the IDNS on Facebook.

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Post  Admin on Thu 14 May 2015, 11:19 pm

Russia Nixes Snapback Sanctions on Iran
Israel Daily News Stream9 hours ago
Today’s Top Stories
1. The Vatican made news by signing a treaty with the Palestinians governing the Holy See’s activities and legal status in the PA. News services, however, spun the story as the Vatican recognizing the state of Palestine. Fortunately, Washington Post reporter William Booth went against the grain, pointing out that the Vatican recognized Palestine in 2012 (which Catholic media knew all along). Indeed, Yair Rosenberg blames AP for the confusion.

So, if the Vatican didn’t just officially recognize Palestine, but instead did so years ago, what actually happened here?
Simply put, the AP got the story wrong and caused a cascade of similarly sloppy coverage before other outlets had a chance to follow up. Given the AP’s centrality in international reporting, this chain reaction is not surprising . . .
The real story here, then, is not that the Vatican just officially recognized Palestine. It’s that the Vatican has been talking about the state of Palestine for years—and certain media outlets just noticed today.

2. From Reuters:
The Czech Republic blocked an attempted purchase by Iran this year of a large shipment of sensitive technology useable for nuclear enrichment after false documentation raised suspicions, U.N. experts and Western sources said.
The incident could add to Western concerns about whether Tehran can be trusted to adhere to a nuclear deal being negotiated with world powers under which it would curb sensitive nuclear work in exchange for sanctions relief.

3. Russia just undermined a key White House argument for the emerging Iranian nuclear deal. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin told Bloomberg News that Moscow rejects automatic “snapback” sanctions if Iran is caught cheating. Keep in mind Russia has veto power in the UN Security Council.
“There can be no automaticity, none whatsoever” in reimposing UN sanctions if Iran violates the terms of an agreement to curb its nuclear program, Russia’s UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin told Bloomberg News on Wednesday. He didn’t elaborate.
While the Obama administration maintains that Russia agreed “in principle” to the need for a sanctions “snapback” mechanism if Iran fails to comply with the agreement now being negotiated in final form, the Russian government has offered no corroboration.

4. BDS Battles Taking Toll on Jewish Students: Journalist touring US campuses finds Israel losing the battle for legitimacy.
Israel and the Palestinians
• A Palestinian rammed a car into Israelis at the entrance to Alon Shvut, injuring four teenagers. The driver is now in police custody. Times of Israel coverage.

• Reuters and the Associated Press picked up on the IDF’s warnings about Hezbollah placing military sites in Lebanese villages. The latter writes:
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity under military guidelines, said an estimated 200 villages have been turned into “military strongholds.”
One photo showed the village of Muhaybib, with a population of around 1,000 people and 90 buildings, of which more than a third had been marked as Hezbollah assets. In the larger village of Shaqra, with some 4,000 people, Israeli intelligence identified Hezbollah targets in around 400 out of some 1,200 buildings.
The army refused to allow publication of the images.
If war breaks out and Hezbollah fires missiles at Israel, these buildings will be targeted by Israel’s air force, the official said, adding that Israel would give civilians time to evacuate.

• Israeli-French talks deteriorate over Paris peace initiative at UN.
• What to make of this?
Turkish gov’t ignores 2014 court request to seek Interpol Red Notice for Israeli officers
• Israel’s domestic politics makes my head hurt. I just can’t keep up with the musical chairs game of cabinet appointments.
Mideast Matters
• Ahead of the Camp David summit, the Los Angeles Times reports the White House is “carefully” lowering expectations.

But Obama appears to have run up against the constraints of his policy of limited U.S. engagement in the Middle East. If he wants to yield responsibility to the gulf states for their own security, their leaders have signaled, he’ll have to live with the decisions they make. And they have shown recently that their priorities diverge from the president’s.
• The Saudis vowed (again) to match Iranian nuclear capability

• The Guardian: The Syrian intelligence chief reportedly arrested for plotting a coup against Bashar Assad turned up at a meeting with Assad and a visiting Iranian official. He was even in a photograph published in Sana, Syria’s state-run news agency.
Around the World
• Montreal man scrubs away anti-Semitism

• Government funds $500,000 security wall for Melbourne Jewish center
• The Columbia Journalism Review looks at why nobody’s covering Yemen. There’s no reliable way for journalists to enter the country, and limited electricity and internet infrastructure make citizen journalism almost impossible. Ironically, it was a a tweet about the black hole of information that got a lot of attention when Saudi coalition airstrikes began in March.
• By not cooperating with the International Criminal Court’s preliminary investigation of Operation Protective Edge, Israel’s playing a very high-stakes game of chicken. Yonah Bob explains:

Israel’s only plays if Bensouda opens a full criminal investigation without its cooperation, is an appeal to the ICC judges that she overreached her powers in recognizing Palestine or a diplomatic push to discredit or indirectly pressure her office into dropping the issue before indictments.
All of this signals that Israel may be passing up a case to stake its big fight on complementarity, or the idea that its own investigations are reasonable enough that Bensouda cannot initiate a full criminal investigation or get involved at all.
• I’m also reading:

– Yitzhak Eldan: Anti-Semitism in a liberal disguise
– Ben Cohen: Yarmouk and the failure of Palestinian solidarity
– Khaled Abu Toameh: Palestinians’ anti-peace campaign
– Jonathan Tobin: Congress must draw the line on BDS
– Dr. Edy Cohen: No solution for Palestinian refugees without justice for Jewish refugees
– New York Daily News (staff-ed): Vatican recognition of Palestine will have lamentable consequences

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Post  Admin on Wed 13 May 2015, 1:32 pm

Hassan Nasrallah Hospitalized in Beirut?
Israel Daily News Stream20 mins ago

Today’s Top Stories
1. The IDF gave the New York Times an exclusive look at what it knows about Hezbollah’s latest human shield deployments. We’re talking about infantry and anti-tank positions, arms depots, rocket launching sites, signs of underground tunnels, and a command post all located in just one village. Now multiply that by many more villages dotting southern Lebanon.

Effectively, the Israelis are warning that in the event of another conflict with Hezbollah, many Lebanese civilians will probably be killed, and that it should not be considered Israel’s fault . . .
Zooming out over a wider section of southern Lebanon, the Israeli military says the number of potential targets for Israel in and around villages runs into the thousands.
Israeli military officials said they were publicizing the Hezbollah buildup to put the problem on the international agenda in case there is another conflict — and to possibly decrease the chances of one breaking out.
Nasrallah2. Syrian rebels claim that Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah suffered either a minor heart attack or a stroke, and is currently hospitalized in Beirut. Nobody has confirmed anything so far, but you can imagine the rumors flying around. The Jerusalem Post and YNet distill what the Arab reports are saying.

3. Could Bashar Assad and his inner circle be indicted for war crimes and crimes against humanity on the basis of official documents smuggled out of Syria? Investigators say yes.
4. Follow HonestReporting’s Fighting BDS (new on Twitter!) to learn more about the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement and fight the delegitimization of Israel. The conversation’s at @FightingBDS.
Israel and the Palestinians
• I can understand Israel refusing to cooperate with an International Criminal Court investigation that doesn’t want to legitimize. But I’m scratching my head at ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda’s comments to AP that the Palestinians aren’t cooperating with the activity they initiated.

Fatou Bensouda said in an interview with The Associated Press that she hasn’t received any information yet from either side regarding last summer’s Gaza war and urged Israel and the Palestinians to provide information to her . . .
Bensouda said she has already received information “from others regarding the preliminary examination,” but refused to elaborate except to say that her office is also collecting information from confidential sources, identified groups and individuals and open sources.
• Human rights under PA and Hamas rule has worsened, according to one Palestinian group’s annual report picked up by AP.

• West Bank electricity grid to be connected to Jordan; the three-year project is expected to cost $100 million.
• Former EU officials are calling for greater pressure on Israel to resume peace talks with the Palestinians. YNet saw a copy of the letter, which also casts doubt the US role as mediator.
Mideast Matters
• Ahead of this week’s Camp David “summit” with jittery Gulf states, President Obama discussed the summit, Iran, and — of course — the Israeli-Palestinian peace process with Asharq al-Awsat.

• The Wall St. Journal (click via Google News) introduces us to Ahmad al-Assaad, who is trying to steer Lebanese children away from Hezbollah’s influence.
• It’s bad enough that Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) and Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) co-sponsored a Holocaust Remembrance Day event to attack Israel at the University of Pittsburgh last month. What’s worse is that the administration allowed students to earn credits by participating. Mort Klein and Susan Tuchman called out the university in a Pittsburgh Tribune-Review op-ed.

Pitt qualified the event for OCC — Outside the Classroom Curriculum — credit. Students who earn OCC credit get “an edge,” according to Pitt’s website, including such “tangible perks” as the enhancement of their academic records, entry to an “Honorary Society” and eligibility for substantial monetary grants.
How Pitt would permit this event to qualify for OCC credit is truly astonishing. The SJP has a long and well-documented history of demonizing Israel and calling for the destruction of the Jewish state — actions that our own government recognizes as anti-Semitic.
Related reading: Remember, Don’t Repurpose, the Holocaust

stethoscope• I’m baffled by the British Medical Journal publishing a defense of The Lancet against an open letter signed by nearly 400 physicians and scientists, among them five Nobel laureates. They accused The Lancet of being politicized against Israel, publishing false information, and lacking transparency, among other things.
The defense doesn’t address the substance of the letter’s charges — it became clearer when I saw the BMJ’s footnote disclosing the author’s backgrounds. I added the links:
[Dr. John S. Yudkin] is a member of the steering group of the Lancet Palestine Health Alliance and a signatory of Jews for Justice for Palestinians . . . [Dr Jennifer Leaning] is a collaborator of the Lancet Palestine Health Alliance and was a member of the steering group for the 2009 Lancet series on the health status and health services in the cooupied Palestinian Territory . . .  She was a member of the independent fact finding mission into Operation Protective Edge coordinated by Physicians for Human Rights—Israel.
• Question of the day, posed by the Wall St. Journal (click via Google News), in response to the discovery of Syrian chemical weapons, despite a 2013 US-Russia deal that was supposed to get rid of them:

If the world won’t respond to evidence of cheating by a minor state like Syria, why should anyone believe it would act against cheaters in Iran?
Last word for now goes to Michael Kelley:
 Here’s what else I’m reading today . . .

– Ambassador Lars Faaborg-Andersen: Boycott? What boycott?
– Philip Gordon: The myth of a “better” Iran deal
– Washington Post (staff-ed): Obama’s lonely Gulf summit

Featured image: CC BY-NC-SA flickr/Alvaro A. Novo with additions by HonestReporting; Nasrallah via YouTube/Sayed Hasan; stethoscope CC BY-SA flickr/Lucas Hayas

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Post  Admin on Tue 12 May 2015, 8:43 pm

Islamic Charity Gives Iran a Gaza Foothold
Israel Daily News Stream6 hours ago
Today’s Top Stories
1. Nepal was hit by another 7.3 magnitude earthquake this morning, strong enough to be felt in parts of India and Bangladesh. As this roundup was published, at least 60 people were reported killed, and 1,000 injured. Israel may send another aid team to the stricken Himalayan nation; 133 Israelis have taken shelter in Kathmandu’s Chabad House.

On a related note, check out Diary of an IDF Rescuer.
Canada2. Is the Canadian government’s going to fight the BDS movement by invoking hate crime laws? There’s a lot of discussion sparked by Neil Macdonald’s CBC report.
The government’s intention was made clear in a response to inquiries from CBC News about statements by federal ministers of a “zero tolerance” approach to groups participating in a loose coalition called Boycott, Divest and Sanction (BDS), which was begun in 2006 at the request of Palestinian non-governmental organizations.
Asked to explain what zero tolerance means, and what is being done to enforce it, a spokesperson for Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney replied, four days later, with a detailed list of Canada’s updated hate laws, noting that Canada has one of the most comprehensive sets of such laws “anywhere in the world.”
But officials in Ottawa denied Macdonald’s report:

“This story is inaccurate and ridiculous. These laws have been on the books for many years and have not changed,” said the spokesman for Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney. “We won’t dignify this bizarre conspiracy theory with further comment.”
That said, the minister’s office refused to say unequivocally the government would never apply Canada’s hate laws to people who encourage, plan or take part in boycotts.
The CBC released its email exchange with Public Safety Canada spokesperson Josee Sirois. You’ll have to judge this one for yourself.

3. The Iranians are getting a foothold in Gaza: Beholden to Tehran, Hamas is allowing a Shiite group to operate in Sunni Gaza.
A-Sabrin runs several Shiite charity organizations, which benefit from full Iranian support and encourage the spread of Shiite Islam.
The presence of such a movement in the Gaza Strip is unheard-of, as is the fact that the Sunni Hamas movement – apparently due to the financial support it receives from Shiite Iran — has been tolerating its presence.
4. Disgusting Exploitation of a Disabled Palestinian Child: After a Gaza child’s life was saved by Israeli medics, an award-winning journalist used a photo to disingenuously claim the boy’s injuries were the result of Israeli atrocities.

5. Fighting Anti-Semitism in the Media: HonestReporting will be at the 5th Global Forum for Combating Antisemitism, presenting on anti-Semitism in the media.
6. HR Radio: Photo Abuse, Damaging Headlines, and Anonymous Sources: Yarden Frankl reviews this week’s media coverage of Israel. Click below to hear the Voice of Israel interview.
Israel and the Palestinians
• The New York Times takes the pulse of Bir Zeit University, where Hamas-affiliated candidates overwhelmingly won student elections.

• The Netherlands regrets cutting the pension of a 90 year-old Dutch Holocaust survivor because she lives in a West Bank settlement.
• With small shifts, Israel eases restrictions on some Palestinians, reports NPR.
Mideast Matters
• Mahan Air, an Iranian airliner, managed to acquire new air craft despite international sanctions. Is Mahan owned by the Revolutionary Guards? Is it ferrying weapons to Syria and Yemen? Were European companies hoodwinked by front companies? Both Eli Lake and the Financial Times (click via Google News) took closer looks.

• Iranian nuclear talks resume in Vienna.
• A Mideast nuclear weapons ban proposal is stumbling over UN politics, Reuters reports.
• CNN visited injured Syrians being treated in Israel’s Ziv Hospital.
• Kids — possibly thousands of them — have joined the fighting in Yemen’s civil war. According to the Washington Post, money and regular meals are difficult for poverty-stricken parents to turn down.
Many are between the ages of 13 and 16, the groups say. Experts cite worsening poverty in the Arabian Peninsula country as a major reason children are joining armed groups.
The child soldiers are found in nearly every faction battling in Yemen. According to some estimates, boys younger than 18 form nearly a third of the Houthi rebel force’s approximately 25,000 fighters.
• Egyptian-Canadian journalist Mohamed Fahmy is suing Al-Jazeera, claiming the network failed to protect him. Fahmy, along with Peter Greste and Baher Mohammed, were arrested in December, 2013. CNN writes:

According to his attorneys, Fahmy accuses the network of “epic negligence” by misinforming him about its legal status in Egypt and airing his reports on its Egyptian channel Jazeera Mubashir Masr, which was banned by an Egyptian court for alleged biased reporting favoring the Muslim Brotherhood . . .
Fahmy expanded that on Monday, stating that during his imprisonment, he learned that the network had been supplying cameras to Muslim Brotherhood members and sympathizers and using their footage without sourcing. “This is not journalism, this is propaganda,” Fahmy said.
• Tweet of the Day: Avi Mayer, in response to this report on civilian deaths in Yemen.

Avi Mayer
• Journalist Seymour Hersh is in the news for up-ending the White House’s story on Osama Bin Laden’s death.  There’s a lot to digest in his report, published in the London Review of Books. Fortunately, Mashable condensed the revelations and rounded up key responses — including NBC News corroborating one of Hersh’s tidbits.
Around the World
• Anti-Semitic attacks in Germany rose 25 percent in 2014.

A November poll in Germany showed that one in four Germans equated Israel’s policies toward Palestinians with Nazi Germany’s treatment of Jews during WWII. Survey results showed a spike in negative views toward Jews and Israel between June and September, during the conflict between Israel and Hamas in Gaza.
Saudi soldiers
Saudi special forces, April 2015

• Gilad Sharon argues why it’s in Israel’s interest to see Bashar Assad toppled (it would be a crippling blow to Hezbollah and Iran, and it would ease pressure on Israel to return the Golan). But what about ISIS taking over Syria?
Islamic State – unlike Assad and unlike Hezbollah – is the enemy of an international coalition that is fighting the organization; thus Israel wouldn’t have to face this new threat alone.
But Zalman Shoval urges Israelis caution: Beware the pan-Arab army.

• Breaking the Silence bids to (immorally?) place IDF, Hamas on level field.
• Snippet of the day: Eugene Kontorovich on the tale of two blockades: Gaza and Yemen
One also wonders whether the Yemen blockade, which by Oxfam’s description of it has turned it into what one would elsewhere call “the world’s largest open air prison” will manage to get half the international attention as the Gaza one.
• Other commentary I’m reading today:

– Ben-Dror Yemini: Using Bedouin issue as an anti-Israel propaganda tool
– Jonathan Tobin: Why the snub? Saudis know Obama replaced them with Iran
– Ariel Ben Solomon: Gulf states’ behavior against Obama unlikely to pay off
– Marni Soupcoff: BDS as “hate crime”: Do we believe in free speech or not?
– Washington Post (staff-ed): Israel’s fragile government
– Abdullah Bozkurt: Turkish Islamists exploit Palestine
– Moshe Zimmermann: Israeli-German golden jubilee; a tale of asymmetry

Featured image: CC BY flickrSilecyra with additions by HonestReporting; CC BY-SA flickr/RicLaf; soldiers CC BY-SA Wikimedia Commons/Alhadramy Alkendy;

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Post  Admin on Mon 11 May 2015, 10:46 pm

New Gaza Flotilla Underway
Israel Daily News Stream8 hours ago
Today’s Top Stories
1. Bashar Assad reportedly placed his intelligence chief under house arrest on suspicion he was planning a coup, according to the Daily Telegraph. As battlefield losses pile up, Assad’s inner circle is reportedly divided by Iran’s creeping takeover of the battles.

Was spy chief Ali Mamlouk looking to bring back Bashar Assad’s exiled uncle, Rifaat Assad?
2. Gulf state monarchs are snubbing President Obama’s upcoming Camp David summit. The president is expected to offer the six members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) arms sales and a defense agreement. Four of the GCC states, including Saudi Arabia, are sending lower-ranking representatives. More at the Wall St. Journal (click via Google News) and CBS News.
Senior Arab officials involved in organizing the meeting said not enough progress had been made in narrowing differences with Washington on issues like Iran and Syria to make the Saudi ruler’s trip worth it.
3. A new flotilla hoping to break the Gaza blockade is underway as a trawler, “Marianne of Gothenburg,” left Sweden. Two other vessels will meet up with the Marianne en route. Israel has blockaded Gaza since Hamas took over the strip in 2006. Egypt has also tightened its blockade of Gaza while fighting jihadists in Sinai. Times of Israel coverage.
4. Misleading and Accusatory Headline in The Times: Did the evil Israeli regime silence a dissident or persecute human rights activists?
Israel and the Mideast
• A 19 year-old Israeli was stabbed near a checkpoint by Maale Adumim. The victim, was moderately injured. That’s all YNet reports for now.

• Iran’s funneling money to the West Bank to buy influence with the PA.
The only thing that is clear is that Tehran, through its renewed support for Hamas and its coordination with the PA to fund payments to the families of “martyrs” in the West Bank, is seeking a key position of influence in the Palestinian territories. So far, in the West Bank at least, the sums involved have been relatively modest, but as Iran is itself infused with tens of billions of dollars in imminent sanctions relief, there is no telling what the scale of its future role may be.
• Israel’s purchasing four German-made Saar class missile boats to protect offshore gas sites. According to the Times of Israel, they’ll be delivered over the next five years

• Reuters: Weapons inspectors found undeclared sarin and VX traces in Syria.
• Saudi King Salman is pursuing a more active foreign policy to confront rising rivalries with both Iran and ISIS. According to the New York Times, this is fueled by frustration with the US and risks escalating tensions with Tehran.
• JTA: Two Spanish language news networks (the Iranian-run HispanTV and Venezuela’s national public TV channel, Telesur) claim that Israel’s humanitarian aid mission to Nepal was a cover for baby trafficking.
• Palestinians recently marked the 10th anniversary of the Mahmoud Abbas presidency that expired six years ago. Sean Savage examines the “political and economic muck” Abbas has left the Palestinians mired in.

• Is the Camp David summit a marketing tool for the Iran deal?
• A staff-ed in the New York Daily News blasts the BDS movement and its sore reaction to a defeat at New York City’s Park Slope Food Coop.

The BDS brigades seek to delegitimize Israel as punishment for the sin of existing.
• What else I’m reading today . . .

– Jonathan Marks: Anti-Israel course is a campus farce
– Danny Rubinstein: The Salafist “nuisance” in Gaza
– Doyle McManus: What the Persian Gulf states want: Iran kept at bay
– Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (staff-ed): UN Watch: Predictable anti-Israel bias

Featured image: CC BY-NC-SA flickr/Stefan Georgi via flickr with additions by HonestReporting; missile boats CC BY-NC flickr/Israel Defense Forces;

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Post  Admin on Mon 11 May 2015, 1:50 pm

Britain’s Pro-Israel PM Re-Elected
Israel Daily News Stream23 hours ago
Today’s Top Stories
1. David Cameron was re-elected Prime Minister of Great Britain by a surprisingly wide margin. George Galloway, the UK’s best-known anti-Israel politician, was voted out of Parliament by his Bradford constituency. He’s already in trouble for using his parliamentary aid for personal business and for a tweet that violated election laws.

2. Here’s a by the numbers look at Israel’s relief efforts in Nepal. An IDF search and rescue team is returning, as is the field hospital (source: Jerusalem Post).
10: days the field hospital was in operation
150: field hospital staff
60: beds
1,600: patients treated
85: operations performed
8: babies delivered
332: buildings scanned by Israelis for stability
605: Israeli safety courses given to Nepalese
7,900: Nepalese death toll
519,000: homes damaged or destroyed
3 million: Nepalese living in tents
$2 billion: cost of reconstruction’s “first stage”

3. The US Senate votes 98-1 for Congressional Iran review. The bill is expected to pass a House of Representatives vote next week, the Washington Post reports.
If the House and the Senate passed resolutions disapproving of the Iran deal, including overcoming a possible presidential veto, then Obama would be forced to leave in place those congressionally mandated sanctions.
4. The Latest Jewish Dilemma on Campus: Jews on both sides of the aisle are forced to choose between Israel and alliances with minority student groups.
Israel and the Palestinians
• Reuters looks at Hamas-Fatah divisions and what they mean for the Palestinians:

The impact of the stand-off is widespread, but in two areas it is particularly problematic: it is stalling rebuilding in Gaza after the war and it is undermining democratic legitimacy, with the last Palestinian elections held nearly a decade ago.
• The Palestinians are pushing to put Israel on a UN list of child absuers, but agreeing to pursue dialogue regarding their efforts to suspend Israel from world soccer.

However, FIFA did not say whether the Palestine association (PFA) had agreed to drop a proposal for a vote at the FIFA Congress later this month to suspend Israel from international football.
• Israeli soldiers who served in Gaza are rebuffing Breaking the Silence’s collection of “testimonies” alleging IDF human rights violations in Gaza. They “flooded” Shai Levy with their own accounts contradicting Breaking the Silence. Elder of Ziyon translated Levy’s Hebrew article. See Gerald Steinberg’s response to BtS in the Sydney Morning Herald.

• Saudi Arabia cancelled a contract with a Portuguese company that flew one of its empty jumbo jets to (gasp!) Israel for repairs.
• The New York Times takes a closer look at how US campus debates over Israel are driving a wedge between Jews and other minorities.
Mideast Matters
• The Saudis are considering nuclear weapons to offset Iran, reports the Wall St. Journal (click via Google News).

• After Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif told Charlie Rose (full interview), “We do no jail people for their opinions,” Iranian activists took to social media begging to differ. Radio Free Europe rounded up some of the online reactions. Here’s the key outtake.
• According to Syrian rebels, 40 Hezbollah fighters were killed on Friday night, including a high-level commander.
• Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi rebels accepted a 5-day truce.
• The US put an Al Jazeera journalist on terrorism watch list. Ahmad Muaffaq Zaidan, the network’s Islamabad bureau chief, denies being part of Al Qaida or the Muslim Brotherhood. Details at The Independent.
Around the World
• Four Copenhagen busses were found torched while a fifth was sprayed with anti-Israel graffiti. According to the BBC, the attack may be linked to the bus company’s recent refusal to run advertisements promoting a boycott of Israeli goods.

• Danish intelligence chief steps down over failure to avert anti-Semitic attack:
His resignation came hours before the publication of a police report that revealed it took almost four hours from the moment gunman Omar El-Hussein shot dead a filmmaker outside a cultural center, until police were deployed outside Copenhagen’s main synagogue, where a Jewish man, Dan Uzan, who was securing a bat mitzvah celebration, was later killed.
• Quote of the day:

“The way we want to live our lives is no longer possible.”
Jonathan Fischer, vice president of the Danish Jewish community, on anti-Semitism and the government’s response to it.

• Britain’s Archbishop of Canterbury calls on Christians to fight “horrendous” violence against Jews.
• The Sunday Times Magazine (of London) looks at the attitudes of UK Jewry on the question of staying in Britain or moving to Israel.
• The New York Times room for debate section tackles the question: Can the U.S. Make Peace With Netanyahu’s New Government? Weighing in are Jonathan Schanzer, Ehud Eiran, Anne-Marie Slaughter, Zaha Hassan, and Omar Barghouti.

• For more on what others are saying about the new Israeli government, check out, David Horovitz, Nahum Barnea, Dan Margalit, Anshel Pfeffer, Shmuel Rosner, Jonathan Tobin, David Ignatius, Fareed Zakaria, plus staff-eds in the Irish Times and Financial Times (click via Google News).
Free and democratic elections are the last thing the Palestinians need now. Such elections would only pave the way for a Hamas takeover of the Palestinian Authority and plunge the region into chaos and violence. As long as Abbas’s Fatah faction is not seen as a better alternative to Hamas, it would be too risky to ask Palestinians to head to the ballot boxes. Instead of pressuring the Palestinians to hold new elections, world leaders should be demanding accountability and transparency from the PA.
They should also be urging the Palestinian Authority to pave the way for the emergence of new leaders and get rid of all the corrupt old-guard representatives who have been in power for decades. Finally, the international community should be urging the PA to stop its campaign to delegitimize and isolate Israel, which drives more Palestinians into the open arms of Hamas and other radical groups, who assume that if the Israelis are as terrible as they are told, they might as well join the group dedicated to killing them rather than to discussing peace.
• A Bowdoin College student referendum on boycotting Israel lost because the pro-Palestinian “absolutism” was too much for the progressive student body. Yet Students for Justice in Palestine spun the results as a victory. William Jacobson explains why:

That argument, that a loss is a win, is common when SJP loses divestment motions in student government. As long as the topic of campus discussion is how bad Israel is, the anti-Israel movement considers the experience worth the effort, because the goal is not to pass resolutions, although it’s a plus if that outcome it achieved. The goal is to raise a generation of opinion leaders who hate Israel.
So from SJP’s point of view, the fact that 200 Bowdoin students voted for the full academic and cultural boycott of Israel is a win. Those 200 can fill plenty of academic-tenure tracks, newsrooms, NGOs, and government agencies. And they will.
• The comparisons made by today’s burning question are apt:

 HONEST REPORTING Defending Israel from Media Bias plz read REGULAR UPDATES - Page 21 Washington-Post
• I’m also reading:
– Noah Pollak: A reset button for Israel?
– Yoram Ettinger: Iran and suspension of disbelief
– Elliott Abrams: Reminders about Iran
– Eugene Kontorovich: Release of ship by Iran is really a ransom
– Jerusalem Post (staff-ed): Anti-Semitism in Argentina
– New York Times (staff-ed): Beyond the Iran nuclear deal

Featured image: CC BY flickr/A? with additions by HonestReporting; Nepal CC BY-NC flickr/Israel Defense Forces; Copenhagen CC BY flickr/Thomas Rousing; Mashaal via YouTube/Face the Nation on CBS; Abbas CC BY-NC-ND flickr/Cabinet Office

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Post  Admin on Thu 07 May 2015, 5:52 pm

Netanyahu Achieves Last Gasp Coalition
Israel Daily News Stream6 hours ago
Today’s Top Stories
Naftali Bennett: A big winner in coalition negotiations.

1. Israel finally has a new government but the new coalition was only agreed with under two hours remaining before the deadline. By making concessions to Naftali Bennett’s Jewish Home party, PM Netanyahu reached 61 out of the 120 seat Knesset, giving the coalition government a razor-thin majority of just one.
The new coalition, while in theory dominated by Likud’s 30 seats, made significant deals with the center-right Kulanu, the ultra-orthodox Shas and UTJ as well as the right-wing Jewish Home. It appears, however, that Netanyahu is keeping the Foreign Ministry in his pocket as a possible incentive to bring the opposition Zionist Union into an expanded national unity government later.
According to The Times of Israel:
Netanyahu was understood to have capitulated to the demands of the Orthodox-nationalist Jewish Home, the final recalcitrant coalition partner, and agreed to appoint Bennett as education minister, MK Ayelet Shaked as justice minister, and another Jewish Home member, Uri Ariel, as agriculture minister.
Shaked, 39, has only been in politics for two years. Netanyahu and Bennett were negotiating Wednesday over the scope of her authority in the job. Shaked will also have a seat in the key decision-making security cabinet, by virtue of being justice minister.
Netanyahu is likely to appoint several senior Likud colleagues to the security cabinet too, to offset their unhappiness at missing out on top cabinet posts, and to ensure that the security cabinet supports him on key decisions.
Predictably, chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat slammed the new government. It “will be one of war which will be against peace and stability in our region,” he told AFP.

AP has list of challenges facing new government while Financial Review (via Reuters) has a list of the most controversial legislative proposals from the new government.
See below for more commentary and reaction.
2. So much for the much-touted destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons. NY Times reports:
Two years after President Bashar al-Assad agreed to dismantle Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile, there is mounting evidence that his government is flouting international law to drop jerry-built chlorine bombs on insurgent-held areas. Lately, the pace of the bombardments in contested areas like Idlib Province has picked up, rescue workers say, as government forces have faced new threats from insurgents.
3. Haaretz reports that Israeli defense officials assume the terrorist cell that intended to place an explosive charge on the Israeli-Syrian border in the Golan Heights 10 days ago was operated by Samir Kuntar, who was working on instructions from Iran.

The incident, in which four militants were killed, took place less than 48 hours after an air strike attributed to Israel had destroyed weapons that were supposed to be handed over to Hezbollah.
Despite the proximity of the events, Israel believes that Iran had operated the terrorist cell, rather than Hezbollah. Israel also believes that the air strike in April was not connected to the attempt to plant explosives on the Israel-Syria border.
Israeli officials believe the terrorist cell’s activity near the border fence could be part of Kuntar’s attempt to reinstate the terror network he had set up in the Golan Heights.

Israel and the Palestinians
• Is Hamas digging a possible attack tunnel beneath a Gaza border kibbutz? The residents of Nirim think so and the IDF is going to investigate.

• Just what is a Saudi aircraft doing on the tarmac of Ben-Gurion Airport?

• The Egyptian military Wednesday shot dead three Palestinian gunmen who infiltrated through a smuggling tunnel in the Sinai town of Rafah on the border with Gaza, security officials said.
• Lawyers representing the widow of late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat on Wednesday denounced a French decision to close a murder inquiry into his 2004 death and vowed to ensure the investigation continued.
Around the World
• Iran has released a Marshall Islands-flagged container ship and its crew which were seized last week in one of the world’s major oil shipping lanes, the official IRNA news agency reported.

• Syrian president Bashar al-Assad has acknowledged that his regime is suffering military defeats, amid reports of splits and defections within his core supporters.
aljazeeraamerica• Just what is going on at Al-Jazeera America? Following allegations of sexism and anti-Semitism in the workplace, CEO Ehab Al Shihabi has been fired. It seems, however, that he has, in fact, been demoted and replaced by a new CEO. More at the Daily Beast.
• A British theater has publicly apologized for boycotting a Jewish film festival during the 2014 Gaza war.
• Haviv Rettig Gur comments on the new coalition:

Netanyahu did better at the ballot box than any ruling party since the 2003 election, but can’t seem to translate an electoral victory into strong governance. The question that now looms over the political system is, why?
At the immediate tactical level, it’s clear that the most significant factor in Netanyahu’s embarrassment was Zionist Union leader Isaac Herzog. It’s an open secret, already acknowledged by Likud officials, that Netanyahu turned to Herzog in recent days (and informally, weeks) in the hopes of piecing together a truly impregnable and effective coalition of as many as 77 seats (Likud, Zionist Union, Kulanu and the ultra-Orthodox parties).
Herzog said no, leaving Netanyahu with only one route to the premiership, a rightist-Orthodox 67-seat coalition. Then Yisrael Beytenu’s Avigdor Liberman dramatically bowed out of that coalition on Monday, taking his six seats with him and bringing Netanyahu’s best-case scenario down to the minimum required to form a government, 61 seats. With just two days left, Netanyahu had no choice but to acquiesce to nearly every demand made by Jewish Home, which held the last eight seats the prime minister needed to reach 61.
• Times of Israel editor David Horovitz isn’t impressed:

If Netanyahu had known how this would all play out — if he had foreseen the humiliating reality of Wednesday, May 6, when he found himself reduced to imploring Naftali Bennett to help him muster a wafer-thin majority — would he have put himself through all this? Would he have put the country through this whole election nightmare? Would he have dissolved his previous diverse coalition more than two years early, only to return with a smaller, narrower, potentially far more problematic one?
I greatly doubt it.
One thing is for certain: The coalition whose construction he breathlessly announced to President Reuven Rivlin on Wednesday night is not the “better, more stable… broad-based government” that he rightly told us we deserve.
• Sima Kadmon echoes similar sentiments:

Even a particularly wild imagination wouldn’t have been able to come up with such an ironic script, in which the prime minister – who was on the top of the world only six weeks ago and was certain that he would be able to put together his government with his hands tied behind his back – comes to the president at the very last moment, breathless, with a narrow coalition in which all the ingredients – including his friends in the Likud – despise him, while he, on the other hand, can’t tolerate them. …
What happened here in the past six weeks, and how a crushing election victory turned into a farce which Israel had yet to see, will be discussed for many years to come. How did negotiations with parties that had no other alternative end in a way which is worse than what any fresh intern at a law firm would have been able to come up with.
• The Washington Post contends:

The government will back Netanyahu’s position that the accord pushed by the Obama administration to restrain Iran’s nuclear ambitions is “a bad deal.”
The coalition, too, is composed of members unlikely to press for resumption of peace talks with the Palestinians, talks that consumed U.S. Secretary of State John F. Kerry for nine months last year until they collapsed in a round of bitter recriminations.
“This is not the government that will be able to bridge the gap between Israel and America and Europe,” said Reuven Hazan, a top political scientist at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
“They will also be unified in their stand that they don’t trust the Palestinians and don’t want to make concessions to them,” he said.
• Following the shooting attack on a Texas community center hosting a Mohammed cartoon exhibition, Pamela Gellar’s case that the art display was a case of free speech is challenged by the NY Times, which called it hate speech:

Some of those who draw cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad may earnestly believe that they are striking a blow for freedom of expression, though it is hard to see how that goal is advanced by inflicting deliberate anguish on millions of devout Muslims who have nothing to do with terrorism. As for the Garland event, to pretend that it was motivated by anything other than hate is simply hogwash.

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Post  Admin on Thu 07 May 2015, 7:07 am

Israeli Airstrike on Sudan?
Israel Daily News Stream17 hours ago

Today’s Top Stories
1. Did Israel launch an air strike on Sudan overnight? Something attacked an unspecified military target near Khartoum. While the Sudanese army claims it downed an Israeli drone north of Khartoum, Israel hasn’t commented. YNet coverage suffices.

Israel has attacked Sudanese arms facilities and convoys in the past, destroying weapons destined for Hamas.
2. Making the sausage: As today’s roundup went to press, the Israeli media reported that Benyamin Netanyahu and Naftali Bennett reached a coalition agreement ahead of tonight’s deadline. It means the Knesset will be run by a one-seat majority. Haaretz explains the significance of the midnight deadline you’ve been hearing about:
But the coalition agreements don’t actually have to be signed by midnight; it’s enough for Netanyahu to inform President Reuven Rivlin that he has the necessary 61 votes. He then has a week to actually present his government to the Knesset.

3. The New York Times takes a closer look at the PA’s unpaid electricity bills to Israel. It’s a complicated, uh, power struggle.

The Israelis and the Palestinian Authority cannot agree on the amount of energy consumed, how bills should be calculated or how payments should be collected . . .
The World Bank estimated in November that Palestinians had failed to pay for 58 percent of the power they used in 2013, up from 37 percent in 2010.
About 40 percent of the power debt is from Gaza . . . The World Bank says that Hamas collects payments from Gaza’s 1.8 million residents but refuses to hand the money over to the Palestinian Authority because of its rivalry with Mr. Abbas and his Fatah party.

Israel and the Palestinians
• French judges wrapped up their investigation of Yasser Arafat’s death and passed along the dossier to prosecutors. Even if there’s evidence of foul play — a big if — there may be no one to prosecute. AFP explains:

The prosecutor now has three months to prepare his submissions on whether to dismiss the case or put it forward to court.
In the meantime interested parties can produce written depositions. However if, as is currently the case, there is no defendant’s name attached to the proceedings, the case is likely to be dismissed.
Asa Kasher
Professor Asa Kasher

• Thumbs up to one French paper for the most original fresh quote of an Israeli reaction to the latest allegations from Breaking the Silence. Here’s the European Jewish Press‘ translation of the key snippet from Le Figaro.
Asked by French daily Le Figaro to comment the Bts report, Israeli philosopher Asa Kasher, who drafted the Code of Ethics of the Israeli army but has campaignedfor its flexibility, declared: “No state has the duty to guarantee the same security for enemy civilians as to its own population.”
• The California Community Colleges system shot down a resolution supporting divestment from Israel. It’s significant because the CCC, as it describes itself, ‘is “the largest system of higher education in the nation, with 2.1 million students attending 112 colleges.”
• Post script on an issue of anti-Semitism at UCLA: The coalition of student organization that questioned Rachel Beyda’s fitness for a leadership position solely because she’s Jewish was voted out of government.
• It’s not often we see Big Media shine a spotlight on Palestinian governance. Today, the Christian Science Monitor looked at Mahmoud Abbas’ mandate to lead, while The Media Line reported on a new Hamas import tax that grumbling Gaza merchants say will increase hardship.
South China Morning Post• HonestReporting got a nice shout-out from Hong Kong. South China Morning Post columnist Alex Lo picked up on our fight against reporters referring to Tel Aviv as Israel’s capital.
He cited our successful battle with The Guardian and the British Press Complaints Commission back in 2012. Just a few days ago, HonestReporting secured a Sky News correction over the same problem. I can relate to Lo’s exasperation.
Around the World
• The Saudi city of Najran was shelled from Yemen. The Saudis blame pro-Iranian Houthi rebels.

The attack was the first significant offensive against a Saudi city since a Saudi-led campaign of airstrikes began in March . . .
Footage broadcast on state television from the city showed debris-strewn streets, destroyed cars and a blackened room in a building where one of the munitions hit.

• Hezbollah supporters explained to NOW Lebanon how and why teens come to fight for the organization.
• Hezbollah, Nusra square off for rematch
Around the World
• Czech anti-Semitism rose 200 percent in 2014.

“It is clear that the Czech Republic’s Jewish community becomes a target of anti-Semitism in relation to the situation in the Middle East,” the chair of the Jewish community of Prague, Jan Munk, said in a statement. “Czech Jews are perceived by some groups as envoys of the State of Israel and are blamed for its political decisions.”
• Ahead of tomorrow’s UK elections, Politico’s Ben Judah visited Bradford to see what it’s like to be A Jew in George Galloway Country.
• As this roundup went to press, Or Asraf was due to be laid to rest in Lahavim, his Negev hometown. The 22-year-old was the sole Israeli fatality of Nepal’s earthquake. The death toll from last week’s earthquake rose to 7,500.
• Anti-Semitism on US campuses is on the rise. Ruth Wisse asks where it comes and if it can be stopped.

At any rate, the basic truth is this: Israel and the United States, unlovingly paired by their Islamist enemies as the Little Satan and the Big Satan, are prime targets of the same antagonists. It remains to be seen, then, whether the rise of anti-Semitism in America—itself an extension of the Arab- and Muslim-led war against Israel and the Jewish people—will fatally penetrate America’s thick constitutional culture, in which some of us still place our trust.
Universities are the obvious place to begin investigating that question.
• Daniel Gordis and Steven Cook weigh in on the bizarre criticism of Israel’s humanitarian aid to Nepal.

• More commentary I’m reading:
– Ron Ben-Yishai: A battle of wits on the northern border
– Ahmed Charai: The perils of non-engagement in the Mideast
– Arif Tekdal: Turkish-Israeli relations hurt by hate speech, not Mavi Marmara

Featured image: CC BY-NC flickr/Mo Riza via flickr with additions by HonestReporting; Knesset CC BY-SA flickr/Edmund Gall; Kasher CC BY Wikimedia Commons/David Shay;

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Post  Admin on Tue 05 May 2015, 4:37 pm

Israeli Coalition Talks Go Down to the Wire
Israel Daily News Stream3 hours ago
Today’s Top Stories
1. Hamas and the Salafists are duking it out in Gaza. I’m not clear on the chronological order of events here, but here’s what’s going on in Gaza:

– A bombing outside the Hamas security headquarters (a perimeter wall was damaged).
– An ISIS threat of “dire consequences” if Hamas doesn’t release a detained Salafist sheikh.
– Hamas demolishing a Salafist mosque.

Foreign Policy ties it all together, suggesting that the rivalry is spilling over from the Yarmouk refugee camp. Or are they competing for Gaza too?
2. Making the sausage: As Wednesday evening’s deadline for a governing coalition looms, Israeli politics is shifting into overdrive. Likud already had coalition agreements with Kulanu and United Torah Judaism (see YNet for the contents of their agreements), while Shas signed on yesterday.
Avigdor Lieberman resigned as foreign minister, saying he’ll take the Yisrael Beiteinu party into opposition. That leaves HaBayit HaYehudi’s Naftali Bennett, who may try leverage himself for control of the foreign ministry or other concessions.
Shas urged Yitzhak Herzog to bring the Zionist Union and its 24 seats in for a unity government but “Buji” isn’t budging.
Assuming Bennett joins the coalition, Likud would have a razor-thin 61-seat coalition, which Haaretz says would be sworn in Monday. If Benyamin Netanyahu is unable to form a coalition, President Reuven Rivlin will task Herzog with building a government. As things go down to the wire, last word for now goes to Chemi Shalev.
3. In the wake of allegations of anti-Semitism, anti-Americanism, and gender bias against Al Jazeera America, a third executive resigned. Mary McGinnis was AJAM’s senior vice president of news gathering, a very high level position. According to Dominic Patten, more resignations may be coming. Is AJAM in turmoil? The allegations surfaced in a $15 million lawsuit by ex-employee Matthew Luke.
Luke claims Mahmud made remarks including, “whoever supports Israel should die a fiery death in hell.” The suit also alleges that Mahmud exhibited “overt misogynistic behavior,” including removing female employees from projects and excluding women from certain emails and meetings.
The network’s interim CEO, Ehab Al Shihabi, called the charges “absurd.”

4. Breaking the Silence: A Middleman For Anonymous Sources: Breaking the Silence’s report doesn’t meet accepted standards that journalists themselves apply to their own reports.
5. Is it Time for a New Law of War? Which side has the advantage – terrorists firing rockets behind human shields or armies trying to stop them?
6. HR Radio: The BBC’s Guerin Defense and Jimmy Carter’s Praise for Hamas: Yarden Frankl discusses the BBC and its woeful response to complaints when its reporter claimed there was no evidence of Hamas using human shields. Click below to hear the whole interview on the Voice of Israel.
Israel and the Palestinians
• Lauryn Hill cancelled her show in Rishon LeZion. The BDS movement campaigned vigorously on social media to get the R&B singer to back out. The Grammy Award-winning singer wrote on her website that she called off the gig because she wasn’t able to schedule another appearance in Ramallah:

I’ve wanted very much to bring our live performance to this part of the world, but also to be a presence supporting justice and peace. It is very important to me that my presence or message not be misconstrued, or a source of alienation to either my Israeli or my Palestinian fans.
Whatever you make of her statement, she didn’t endorse the boycott movement. As Avi Mayer points out:

• Fatah accuses Hamas of seeking Saudi role in Palestinian affairs.
Last week, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh appealed to Saudi Arabia to replace Egypt as the main mediator between the Islamist movement and Fatah.
Saudi Arabia’s new monarch has reportedly indicated his desire to improve the kingdom’s ties with Hamas, which has been largely isolated by the Arab world and is seeking urgent financial support.
George Galloway
George Galloway

• Did UK public money support George Galloway’s work for Viva Palestina? That’s what a former Galloway is claiming: The Times of London writes:
A former aide to George Galloway claims that she spent just a quarter of her time on his parliamentary duties.
Aisha Ali-Khan says she was kept busy running errands, buying his underpants, helping with his wedding arrangements and working for his political and charitable interests.
She has lodged an official complaint alleging that he paid her public money to pursue his private agenda during her working day. She said that she spent most of her time working for his Respect party, for the Viva Palestina charity and doing chores for him.
Mideast Matters
• In their efforts to take over the Yarmouk refugee camp, ISIS and the Nusra Front are borrowing a page from Hamas-style “resistance.” A commander of one of the armed Palestinian groups fighting the Islamists told Foreign Policy:

The Palestinian group’s enemies, evidently, have adopted the same strategies. In a video Daham filmed just days ago, he shows the entrance to a tunnel he says was dug out by the Islamic State and Nusra. Seconds later, a Katyusha 107 mm rocket with more than 100 pounds of explosives wrapped around it was fired from the fifth floor of the neighboring building into the hole, bringing down rubble around it.
“They’ve built tunnels, which they learned from Hamas,” said Daham. “Who taught Hamas and even Hezbollah how to build tunnels back in the day? We did.”
• People are only bothered when things like fertilizer destined for Gaza are held up by Israel.

Fertilizer, also suited for bombs, flows to ISIS territory from Turkey
• Imagine the outrage if Israel did this:
Major hospital in Aleppo shuts because of bombing
• Rafael Medoff says the Palestinians should learn from Baltimore mom Toya Graham, who became famous for slapping her son after catching him throwing rocks during recent riots. Medoff was reacting to a New York Times report about Israel arresting two Palestinian kids (ages seven and 12) for, uh, throwing stones in eastern Jerusalem.

The contrast between the mother in Baltimore and the relatives in Jerusalem could not be more striking.
The Baltimore Riot Mom saw her son throwing rocks, and she responded by pulling him away from the rioting mob, slapping him, and administering a thorough tongue-lashing. She made it unmistakably clear to her son that his behavior and was immoral and unacceptable, and that she, as his parent, would not tolerate it.
The Jerusalem Riot Relatives saw their grandson and nephew throwing rocks, and they responded by denouncing the authorities for arresting him. The grandfather and uncle did not exhibit an ounce of sympathy for the innocent bus passengers who could have been maimed, or even murdered, by the rocks that their boy threw.
When Palestinian kids throw stones, the New York Times called it a “a rite of passage.”

Toya Graham
Palestinian mothers could learn from the “Baltimore riot mom,” Toya Graham.

• Experts at a Shurat HaDin conference on the laws of war discussed how to combat terror groups that use human shields. Unfortunately, the media’s part of the problem.
Col. Richard Kemp, former commander of British forces in Afghanistan, told a legal conference that the Western media have encouraged terrorists to use human shields in war by focusing attention on civilian casualties in such a way that Western military forces were effectively deterred from responding to terrorist attacks. He suggested that legal doctrines might need to be adjusted in order to remove the operational advantage human shields provide terrorists . . .
Later in the day, Prof. Geoffrey Corn of the South Texas College of Law disagreed, saying that the international law was flexible enough as it is currently understood, and that it does not need to be changed. Rather, he said the problem was that the doctrine of proportionality had been distorted in public debate, and had become a way for critics to undermine military tactics. He said that lawyers had “hijacked” the original doctrine, which had been meant to prevent truly “excessive” force.
Retired IDF chief of staff Benny Gantz described to the conference how Hezbollah and Hamas use civilian areas to cover their tracks and what it means for the IDF.

• For more commentary, see:
– Jennifer Rubin: Obama is again driving a wedge between allies
– Elie Barnavi: The UK elections and the Jewish question
– Rob Swift: What a would a new UK prime minister mean for Israel?
– Barcin Yinanc: Will Turkey learn to live with the bitter truth of the Mideast conflict?
– Hussain Abdul-Hussain: The Iran you see is not the Iran you get

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Post  Admin on Mon 04 May 2015, 6:16 pm

Soldiers’ “Testimonies” Break Credibility, Not Silence
Israel Daily News Stream5 hours ago

Today’s Top Stories
1. A few papers picked up on Breaking the Silence’s 240 page collection of soldiers’ testimonies about last year’s Gaza war. But not complaining to superiors about ethical issues — rather anonymously slinging mud about unverifiable incidents — breaks credibility, not silence. This Washington Post snippet aptly sums up what you need to know.

The Israeli Defense Forces spokesman declined to respond to details in the report, saying Breaking the Silence refuses share information with the IDF “in a manner which would allow a proper response, and if required, investigation,” and ” indicates that contrary to their claims this organization does not act with the intention of correcting any wrongdoings they allegedly uncovered.”
The soldiers who testified received guarantees of anonymity from Breaking the Silence.
Aside from the International Business Times, which got a fresh quote from the IDF, I didn’t see much skepticism in other papers. The testimonies served as today’s unquestioned affirmation of Israeli guilt in The Guardian, Daily Telegraph, Sydney Morning Herald, The Independent (links one and two), Financial Times (click via Google News), and the London Review of Books (by radical left-wing Israeli Professor Neve Gordon).

2. YNet: In the face of BDS pressure on social media, Lauryn Hill, the American R&B and hip hop singer, is seriously considering cancelling an upcoming Israel concert. Hill is scheduled to perform in Rishon Lezion this week:
The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Movement has been urging Hill to boycott Israel for the past month. Last week, pro-Palestinian activists posted a video edited to the sounds Hill’s performance of “Killing me Softly” as part of her former band The Fugees, which shows her alongside IDF soldiers in the territories and compares Israel to an apartheid state.
3. Memo to the Gaza Salafists tortured by Hamas: The world’s only outraged when Israel is accused of torturing you. Unfortunately, raising awareness of human rights violations by Hamas or the PA ruins longstanding narratives of Israel as Public Enemy No. 1,  as Khaled Abu Toameh points out.
4. “Might Have Been Better Worded”: The BBC offers the weakest excuse for botched journalism.
5. Correcting the Record: Tel Aviv Is Not Israel’s Capital: When Sky News labeled Tel Aviv as Israel’s capital, HonestReporting stepped in.
Israel and the Palestinians
• Security guards shot a suspected Palestinian terrorist at a Jerusalem’s light rail today. YNet coverage.

• Two UN peacekeepers in the Golan were injured by Syrian mortars today. The Jerusalem Post reports that the IDF believes the shells were errant fire from Syrian civil war fighting.
• From the Times of Israel:
The mortar round that killed four-year-old Daniel Tragerman on the second to last day of the war in and around Gaza last summer was fired from a United Nations installation, Lt. Gen. (res) Benny Gantz, the commander of the army during the 50-day war, said on Monday.
• Worth watching: Scott Pelley of 60 Minutes looked at the effects of the Gaza war on Israeli and Palestinian children.

Around the World
• The body of Or Asraf was extracted from a Nepalese mountainside by a search and rescue team accompanied by Asraf’s army buddies. See Israel HaYom coverage.

• Iran stepping up covert activities in Latin America?
• Dallas police killed two gunmen who opened fire on a controversial Mohammed art conference. A security guard was injured. More at the Dallas Morning News.
• The Times of Israel notes an Israeli angle to the big question of what name will be given to Prince William and Princess Kate’s new daughter. Alice is popular among British bookies, and would stir Israeli interest too.
The newborn’s great-great-grandmother, Princess Alice of Battenberg, is buried in Jerusalem, and was recognized by Israel’s Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial as a “Righteous Among the Nations” and by the British government as a “Hero of the Holocaust.”
During the Nazi occupation of Greece, Alice hid a Jewish woman and two of her children from the Nazis.
No name was announced when this roundup was published.

Prince William and Princess Catherine with new baby; Princess Alice of Battenberg is the newborn’s great-great grandmother
• It’s in Israel’s interest to just let Gaza collapse on Hamas. There’s no other way to dislodge it from power, argues Danny Rubinstein.

• More of today’s commentary:
– Alex Fishman: Israel’s up to its neck in Syria
– Michael Curtis: UN guilt and Hamas war crimes
– Jonathan Marks: When students vote on Israel’s demise
– Gary Rosenblatt: Israel, the canary in the coal mine
– Reuven Berko: Noose tightens around Bashar Assad

Featured image: CC BY-NC flickr/European Journalism Observatory with additions by HonestReporting; Hill CC BY flickr/The Come Up Show; royal family via YouTube/CNN; Princess Alice via Wikimedia Commons;

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Post  Admin on Sun 03 May 2015, 9:56 pm

US to Sacrifice Israel’s Qualitative Military Edge for Iran Deal?
Israel Daily News Stream6 hours ago

Today’s Top Stories
1. Might the White House sacrifice Israel’s qualitative military edge for the sake of achieving a nuclear deal with Iran?

According to the Wall St. Journal (via Google News), the White House may offer “loose” defense pacts and increased arms sales to the Gulf states for their support of a nuclear deal. Gulf state leaders are due in Washington for a summit on the matter with President Obama this month. The Journal writes:
The Persian Gulf countries say they need more drones, surveillance equipment and missile-defense systems to combat an Iranian regime they see as committed to becoming the region’s dominant power. The Gulf states also want upgraded fighter jets to contain the Iranian challenge, particularly the advanced F-35, known as the Joint Strike Fighter . . .
The challenge Mr. Obama faces at Camp David is to assuage growing fears among those Sunni countries that want military superiority over Shiite-dominated Iran, while not undermining longtime U.S. security guarantees to Israel.
Current law mandates that the U.S. uphold Israel’s qualitative military edge over its neighbors.
The New York Times adds

Defense analysts say that with the balance of power in the Middle East in flux, that could change. One possibility would be to wait three years after delivering the F-35 to Israel and then approve it for sale to the United Arab Emirates — the Arab ally most likely to get the first chance to buy the stealth fighter — which would give Israel a three-year head start.
2. Damascus reportedly gave important Alawite families 48 hours to leave Damascus for Latakia. Rebels are threatening to ancestral Alawite lands along the Syrian coast that — in a last ditch scenario — would form an Alawite rump state. It’s all hands on deck. The Jerusalem Post picked up on Arab media reports. It’s all hands on deck.
On Friday, sources belonging to rebel groups boasted that their battles against the Syrian army were taking place in the highlands of Jabal al-Akrad, a range that includes some of the highest peaks in Syria.
A commander of the Ahrar al-Sham, a faction belonging to the rebel coalition fighting Assad’s forces, claimed that “the capture of the peaks would put the Alawite villages in our firing range,” communities that include Qardaha, the hometown of the Assad dynasty. On Friday, sources belonging to rebel groups boasted that their battles against the Syrian army were taking place in the highlands of Jabal al-Akrad, a range that includes some of the highest peaks in Syria.

3.  As the Nepal death toll passed 7,000, the search for Or Asraf came to a grim end as searchers found the 22-year-old Israeli’s body on a mountainside. Due to difficult terrain and weather, efforts to retrieve the body will begin tomorrow. Asraf was the only Israeli fatality in Nepal.
Israel also announced it would adopt a Nepalese village to rehabilitate. One member of the IDF rescue mission, Dr. Ariel Bar, shared his observations of the crisis
Israel and the Palestinians
• Fulvio Martusciello, the EU’s “Israel-relations czar” demanded better controls and accountability on EU aid to the Palestinians. According to the JTA, Martusciello cited an EU audit  slamming wasted aid money to the PA, a nonbinding resolution raising concerns about money laundering and terrorism financing, and the PA’s “salary payments” to families of terrorists jailed in Israel.

• In a Haaretz interview, ICC chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said low-ranking IDF soldiers, as well as Palestinians, could be prosecuted for war crimes.
• The Palestinians are still pushing to get Israel kicked out of FIFA, international soccer’s governing body. According to Reuters, the Palestinians are confident they’ll get the necessary three-quarter majority of FIFA’s members.
• Hamas announced one of it’s people died in a tunnel collapse near the Israel-Gaza border.
• The Indiana General Assembly became the second state legislature to pass a bill formally opposing the boycott, divestment, and sanctions campaign (BDS) against Israel. Resolution 74 follows a similar move by Tennessee lawmakers.
• Coming attractions for this summer: ‘Freedom Flotilla III’ to embark for Gaza.
• The Government Press Office is giving the 50 new Knesset members training in how to address the media and more effectively represent Israel. YNet coverage.
Mideast Matters
• The US Navy’s now escorting cargo ships near Iran. More at CNN.

• Boycott of Iranian goods gains Arab traction
• It appears that ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi suffered a severe spinal injury in a US more than two months ago. Media reports say the organization’s new leader is former physics professor Abed al-Rachman Mustapha (a.k.a. Abu Alaa al-Afri).
• NOW Lebanon: After seeing what ISIS did with the advanced weapons taken from the Iraqi army, Hezbollah’s keen to get its hands on Bashar Assad’s rockets before ISIS does.
• ISIS slaughtered 300 Yazidi captives in Iraq.
Around the World
• Ukrainian aliyah tripled the first quarter of 2015.

• CNN’s chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, has raised issues of ethical journalism. Gupta, a neurosurgeon and journalist, was filmed performing emergency medical procedures on Nepalese earthquake victims.
In one video, Gupta says he was asked to help operate on an eight-year-old girl. In another video, he resuscitated a woman in a helicopter going into cardiac arrest. He certainly deserves praise for saving lives, but was it proper to keep the cameras filming? Should CNN have aired the footage?
• Two young Paris Jews were attacked by mob of 40 people.
• A memorial plaque for Ilan Halimi, a  French Jew who was kidnapped, tortured, and brutally murdered in 2006, was found desecrated.
• Looking at the possible outcomes of the British elections, Melanie Phillips is underwhelmed by what the results will mean for Israel and UK Jews.

In short, the UK’s election alternatives on Israel would seem to be between decent but ignorant and thus incoherent on the one hand, and poisonous, existentially agonized and lethal on the other.
• Judith Bergmann wonders about the hypocrisy of European consumers too socially conscious to purchase Israeli produce.

While nothing on earth makes their blood pressure soar quite so much as encountering Israeli produce in their local supermarket, they happily stuff themselves with Iranian dates and pomegranates, Egyptian carrots and green beans and Turkish cherries and grapes. They dress themselves in cheap clothes produced by overexploited, underpaid children working under slave-like conditions in Bangladesh and Pakistan, and they do not give it a second thought if young women on death row in China sewed their jeans, as long as they get their money’s worth. If North Korea produced anything other than grief and nuclear weapons, they would rush to consume its produce, as well.
• More commentary to ponder.

– New York Post: UN report outlines how Hamas used kids as human shields (staff-ed)
– Professor Eyal Zisser: Hezbollah is raising its head
– Elder of Ziyon: Why doesn’t anyone compare Baltimore to Hamas police?
– Amir Taheri: Why Iran can’t deliver what Obama hopes
– Michael Totten: The Iranian leader’s bizarre Twitter feed
– Aaron David Miller: Is Assad finished, for real, this time?
– Michael Crowley: Iran’s dire Strait

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Post  Admin on Thu 30 Apr 2015, 7:27 pm

Hezbollah Mourns Child Soldier
Today’s Top Stories
1. Britain disclosed to the UN that Iran has an illicit nuclear procurement network linked to a pair of blacklisted firms. That’s according to documents seen by 

The existence of such a network could add to Western concerns over whether Tehran can be trusted to adhere to a nuclear deal due by June 30 in which it would agree to restrict sensitive nuclear work in exchange for sanctions relief.
2. A US-Israel anti-tunnel project got initial approval by Congress. According to Globes:

The joint R&D financing project will be on the same lines as the US-Israeli project for the development of anti-missile systems.
3. Hezbollah mourns child soldier: Mashhur Fahd Shamseddine, reported to be 15 years-old, may have been killed in an Israeli air strike a few days ago, but Arabic reports cited by NOW Lebanon paint conflicting pictures. How many other junior jihadists have died for Hezbollah?

Israel and the Palestinians
• Jimmy Carter cancelled plans to visit Hamas leaders in Gaza today, then visit Mahmoud Abbas. The ex-president’s visit was on behalf The Elders, a group of former world leaders working for peace and human rights. No reason for the cancellation was given. Associated Press coverage.

• Reuters picked up on Hamas police breaking up a Gaza youth rally calling for national unity and reconstruction.
• The University of California-Riverside is giving chick peas a chance: The Los Angeles Times reports that after initially caving in to demands by Students for Justice in Palestine to remove an Israeli brand of hummus from campus, UCR officials reversed their decision and are bringing it back.
That would be deja vu for Wesleyan University and SJP.
LA Times
• Shira Klein, who was injured by a Palestinian who deliberately plowed his car into a Jerusalem bus stop, was released from the hospital. YNet says the 24-year-old said she plans to spend time resting and rehabbing before returning to her studies for a Master’s degree in psychology. Shalom Yochai Sharki was killed in that attack.
Around the World
• In Nepal, the death toll climbed to 5,500. On its first day of activity, the IDF field hospital in Kathmandu treated 100 people and delivered a baby. The search continued for Or Asraf, the only Israeli unaccounted for in Nepal. Asraf’s father and army buddies flew to Nepal to look for the 22-year-old Or. More on the search for Asraf at the Times of Israel and YNet.

• It’s not just Palestinian supporters hijacking the Baltimore riots for their own purposes. MEMRI found that ISIS supporters on Twitter are using the #BaltimoreRiots hashtag to urge attacks against policemen and put their own spin on race issues. Here’s one tweet MEMRI screengrabbed before it was removed.
Abu Tawbah
• Assad’s army is utterly crumbling. According to the New York Times, its due to pro-regime families refusing to send their sons to fight, dwindling foreign currency reserves, and tensions between local soldiers and Hezbollah imports.
• Can you imagine what would hit the fan if this reaction to the Baltimore riots came from the mayor of Jerusalem instead of the mayor of Ankara? Hurriyet explains:
“Come on blonde, answer now,” Ankara Mayor Melih Gökçek said in a tweet early April 29. The tweet also included an image from the recent riots in Baltimore, as well as the photo of Marie Harf and a caption that reads: “Where are you stupid blonde, who accused Turkish police of using disproportionate force?”

• Yakub Halabi urges Israel to establish a security zone in southwestern Syria, to protect Druze and other minorities trapped between the Assad regime and ISIS. It’s a moral duty,

This security zone should be founded on the same model as the “Security Belt” that Israel established in southern Lebanon up until the year 2000. Based on this model, Israel would occupy the area and establish an army composed of local citizens who would protect it. This zone should mainly constitute a refuge for Syrians who are fleeing the fighting, but are blocked from either entering neighboring countries or seeking shelter in Europe . . .
Israel’s humanitarian intervention is not purely humanitarian, however. The potential liquidation of these minorities means that Israel would lose its best sub-state allies in the Middle East. These minorities have always been the gatekeepers of secularism and modernity in the Arab/Muslim world.
Featured image: CC BY-NC flickr/Einstraus with additions CC BY Lauren Michell Rabaino and HonestReporting

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Post  Admin on Wed 29 Apr 2015, 2:44 pm

Al-Jazeera America Executives Resign Amid Anti-Semitism Lawsuit
Israel Daily News Streamabout 1 hour ago
Today’s Top Stories
1. The White House is nudging France to hold off on measures in the UN to restart Mideast peace talks. According to Foreign Policy, this “reflects concern over the potential political perils of pursuing dual initiatives that are deeply unpopular with Israel and its supporters in the U.S. Congress.”

The American pitch for a delay, which has not previously been reported, comes just weeks after French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius announced that he would push in a matter of “weeks” for a new U.N. “parameters” resolution that would set a fixed timetable for negotiating a political settlement to the Israeli-Palestinian dispute.
But U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has appealed to his French counterpart to put the decision off until at least after the deadline for Iran talks wraps up at the end of June, or possibly even later, after the administration has secured congressional support for the deal, according to diplomatic sources.

2. A former employee of Al Jazeera America is suing the network, alleging anti-Semitism, anti-Americanism, and gender bias. Two Al Jazeera America executives resigned but the key figure at the eye of the storm denied everything in an email to Washington Post.
3. The death toll from the Nepal earthquake passed 5,000 as aid efforts continued.
The Jerusalem Post reported that Israel is still searching for Or Asraf, the only Israeli still unaccounted for. 40 other Israels whose locations were known haven’t been reached yet. According to the Times of Israel, Israeli officials hope to finish extricating everyone by the end of today.
YNet adds that “around 70 Israelis who arrived in Kathmandu earlier in the week decided not to evacuate on the state-funded El Al flight.” More at Haaretz.
Israel and the Palestinians
• According to Israeli press reports, Hamas military commander Mohammed Deif has returned to active duty. Deif has survived a number of IDF assassination attempts — most recently an airstrike during Operation Protective Edge which it is believed critically injured the terror mastermind.

And related Israeli reports say Deif had planned a large-scale terror attack during last year’s Gaza war, only to have the attack vetoed by Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal.
• AFP: Gaza youths demonstrating for reconstruction and national unity were beaten by Hamas policemen.
• Whoda thought Mohammed Dahlan — the rival to Mahmoud Abbas — was capable of this?
• So much for spinning Bashar Assad as the protector of the Palestinians:

Damascus cancels meeting with PLO over Yarmouk crisis.
• The US put three Hezbollah operatives on a special “terror watch list.” Two are responsible for the 2012 bombing of a bus full of Israeli tourists in Burgas, Bulgaria which killed six people. The third was involved in a terror plot in Thailand. More at the Times of Israel.
Around the World
• In Yemen, Saudi-led aircraft destroyed the runway of Sanaa airport to prevent an Iranian plane from landing. Taking out the runway complicates the delivery of humanitarian aid. According to Reuters:

Brigadier General Ahmed Asseri, spokesman for the Saudi-led coalition, told Reuters that the airport was bombed after an Iranian aircraft refused to coordinate with the coalition and the pilot ignored orders to turn back.
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef

• Saudi King Salman appointed his nephew, Mohammed bin Nayef as crown prince. Nayef currently serves as the kingdom’s “counter-terror tsar” and interior minister. The Guardian notes that Nayef is the first of generation to reach this standing: all of the country’s kings till now were sons of the kingdom’s founder, King Abdulaziz al-Saud.
In 2011, Nayef sued The Independent for slander after Robert Fisk incorrectly wrote that the prince gave police orders to fire on unarmed protesters during the early days of the Arab Spring. The paper published a correction and paid substantial damages.
• Thank you NPR, for reminding us of something so obvious, we take it for granted. Baltimorons who injure cops, start fires, loot stores, or vandalize property are not “protesters.” They are rioters. Words matter. Keep this in mind next time there’s a debate about Palestinian activists vs. Palestinian terrorists.
• Berlin police apologized for making soccer fans remove an Israeli flag.
• Thumbs up to Facebook for taking action against a Russian anti-Semitic slur:
Facebook has taken down dozens of pages containing a Russian-language phrase that combines a Ukrainian pejorative for “Jew” with the name of a nationalist whose troops murdered Jews.
• Iran seized a cargo ship in the Straits of Hormuz. The Maersk Tigris is owned by a Danish company and flagged to the Marshall Islands. More on the story at Bloomberg News.

• Haviv Rettig Gur‘s fed up with people tying together Israel’s humanitarian aid to Nepal with the Palestinian conflict.

The IDF doesn’t go to Nepal to avoid the Palestinian issue. It goes because Israelis have honed emergency medicine into an art form, and because the IDF has never quite shed its founding culture of adventurousness, and, above all, because there are people out there who desperately need help.
• Tweet of the day from David Hazony:

David Hazony
• It wasn’t major news in Israel that the government refused to allow South Africa’s Minister of Higher Education, Blade Nzimande, into the country to meet his Palestinian counterpart in Ramallah. While South African Jews oppose the ban, Ben Levitas, of the South African Zionist Federation, got op-ed space in the Pretoria News to argue in favor of the snub.
• For more commentary, see
– Khaled Abu Toameh: The Palestinians the media doesn’t talk about
– Emmanuel Navon: How Israel appoints judges is none of the EU’s business
– Eliezer Marom: Israeli strike to thwart arms to Hezbollah worth the risks
– Alex Ryvchen: Activists corrupt free speech in defense of Jake Lynch
– Kai Bird: The ghosts that haunt an Iran accord
– Wall St. Journal: The pirates of Tehran (staff-ed, via Google News)

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