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December 7, 2016 / 7 Kislev, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘Iran’

Iranians Caught With Fake Israeli Passports

Thursday, October 13th, 2016

Israeli intelligence agencies were updated during Yom Kippur that three Iranian citizens were caught in Italy with fake Israeli passports.

They were deported via Serbia to Turkey, according to a report Wednesday night broadcast on Israel’s Channel 2 television news.

Security agencies are investigating the history of the trio to see whether any of the three have carried out terror attacks against Israeli targets in the international arena.

Hana Levi Julian

New Report Claims Missing IDF Officer Ron Arad Died Shortly After Being Captured

Tuesday, October 11th, 2016

IDF Intelligence and the Mossad have submitted to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu two separate reports regarding the fate of the missing Air Force navigator Ron Arad, Channel 2 News reported Monday night. According to the reports, based on an extensive examination of the entire body of information regarding the missing airman, including new information that appeared over the past two years, Arad died after his first few years in captivity.

Lieutenant Colonel Ron Arad, born in 1958, has been officially classified as missing in action since October 16, 1986, when he and pilot Yishai Aviram were on a mission to attack PLO targets near Sidon, Lebanon. A bomb dropped by their F-4 plane exploded prematurely, causing damage to the aircraft and forcing both crewmen to eject. Aviram was located by an Israeli Cobra and escaped by clinging to one of its landing skids as it flew away under heavy enemy fire. Arad was captured by the Lebanese movement Amal.

Arad was brought to Beirut where he was held by then-head of security of Amal, Mustafa Dirani. Amal chief Nabih Berri announced that he was holding Arad, and proposed an exchange for Shiite and Lebanese prisoners held in Israel.

In 1987, three letters in Arad’s handwriting and two photos of a bearded Arad were received, proving he was still alive. The Israeli government negotiated for his release, but talks failed in 1988. From that point on no credible information about Arad has been received, while many unsubstantiated claims of his whereabouts are still being made.

Israeli commandos captured Hezbollah member Abdel Karim Obeid in 1989, and Mustafa Dirani in 1994,  and interrogated both of them about Arad’s fate. Dirani reportedly disclosed that in May 1988 Arad was turned over first to a Hezbollah unit and then to Iranian Revolutionary Guards, who may have taken him to Iran. Obeid and Dirani were released in 2004 as part of a prisoner exchange.

The IDF wanted to declare Arad as a fallen soldier whose burial-place is unknown, based on information funneled from Iran through a German source. But the navigator’s family rejected the idea, refusing to accept anything other than hard evidence. Several committees that examined the information regarding Arad have concluded the chances that he is alive are miniscule, but were not able to offer a conclusive statement.

The Israeli government has spent millions on the search for Arad, and offered a $10 million reward to anyone who could provide reliable new information. The family is no longer pressuring the military to keep up the search for their loved one, and the Born Free association that had been set up to look for Arad was dissolved back in 2012.

JNi.Media

Trump in 2nd Debate: Aleppo Has Already Fallen

Monday, October 10th, 2016

Focusing, as we always do, on the Jewish-Israeli niche of presidential politics, we paid great attention Sunday night to the exchange between candidates Trump and Clinton on the situation in Syria. In general, both debaters agreed the situation was tough, and neither was eager to get into specific solutions. What stood out for us was the statement by Donald Trump that the battle of Aleppo between the US-backed rebels and the coalition of Assad, the Russians, Iran and Hezbollah will go to the pro-Assad forces.

Martha Raddatz (ABC News) asked Trump: “What do you think will happen if [Aleppo] falls?” Which Trump answered, “I think that it basically has fallen. OK? It basically has fallen.”

It should be noted that on Saturday in the UN Security Council Russia vetoed a French resolution calling for an immediate halt to its air strikes on east Aleppo, where reportedly hundreds of civilians are being killed, including many children. The Russian delegation, accusing the rest of the council of “Russophobia,” watched many council members walk off as the Russians were giving the floor to an envoy of the Assad regime. The Russians are fast running out of friends over this campaign — except, apparently, for Trump, who described Allepo as collateral damage of the effort to destroy the real enemy of the US in the Middle East — ISIS.

“I don’t like Assad at all, but Assad is killing ISIS,” Trump said during Sunday night’s debate. “Russia is killing ISIS. And Iran is killing ISIS. And those three have now lined up because of our weak foreign policy.”

Raddatz pointed Trump’s attention to the fact that not only the entire Western world objects to what the Russians have been doing in Syria, but his own running mate, Mike Pence, had said a week ago, that the “provocations by Russia need to be met with American strength and that if Russia continues to be involved in air strikes along with the Syrian government forces of Assad, the United States of America should be prepared to use military force to strike the military targets of the Assad regime.”

Trump, who had praised Pence’s debate performance, came right out and said, “OK, he and I haven’t spoken, and I disagree. I disagree.”

Raddatz: “You disagree with your running mate?”

Trump: “I think you have to knock out ISIS. Right now, Syria is fighting ISIS. We have people that want to fight both at the same time. But Syria is no longer Syria. Syria is Russia and it’s Iran, who [Clinton] made strong and Kerry and Obama made into a very powerful nation and a very rich nation, very, very quickly, very, very quickly.

“I believe we have to get ISIS. We have to worry about ISIS before we can get too much more involved. She had a chance to do something with Syria. They had a chance. And that was the line. And she didn’t.”

To delineate Trump’s foreign policy point on Aleppo from all of the above, the defeat of ISIS justifies permitting Russia, Iran, the Assad regime and its Hezbollah satellite to recapture all of Syria and turn it into their permanent base, with all the ramifications for Lebanon, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Iraq, and, of course, Israel.

A debate then ensued between Raddatz, who as her network’s Chief Global Affairs Correspondent is probably familiar with the issue, and Trump, over the need for secrecy before attacking a target like the oil rich city of Mosul in Iraq. “The biggest problem I have with the stupidity of our foreign policy, we have Mosul,” Trump argued. “They think a lot of the ISIS leaders are in Mosul. So we have announcements coming out of Washington and coming out of Iraq, we will be attacking Mosul in three weeks or four weeks.”

“Well, all of these bad leaders from ISIS are leaving Mosul,” he continued. “Why can’t they do it quietly? Why can’t they do the attack, make it a sneak attack, and after the attack is made, inform the American public that we’ve knocked out the leaders, we’ve had a tremendous success? People leave. Why do they have to say we’re going to be attacking Mosul within the next four to six weeks, which is what they’re saying? How stupid is our country?”

Raddatz suggested, “There are sometimes reasons the military does that. Psychological warfare.”

Trump retorted, “I can’t think of any. I can’t think of any. And I’m pretty good at it.”

Raddatz: “It might be to help get civilians out.”

Perhaps. Trump could also be correct in pointing out that the US campaign in Iraq has remained as undisciplined and as badly coordinated as it has been since the 2003 invasion, under two different administrations.

Hillary Clinton sounded as hapless as the Obama Administration when she said the Russians don’t care about ISIS, and are instead “interested in keeping Assad in power.” As remedy, she proposed: “…when I was secretary of state, I advocated and I advocate today a no-fly zone and safe zones. We need some leverage with the Russians, because they are not going to come to the negotiating table for a diplomatic resolution, unless there is some leverage over them. And we have to work more closely with our partners and allies on the ground.”

Of course, there’s no way the US and its allies would be able to enforce a no-fly zone on the Russian air force, short of starting WW3, which is why Clinton sounded hollow when she declared, “I’ve stood up to Russia. I’ve taken on Putin and others, and I would do that as president.” And she sounded even less realistic when she warned, “…I do support the effort to investigate for crimes, war crimes committed by the Syrians and the Russians and try to hold them accountable.”

Hillary Clinton then committed a blunder that could haunt her in the future should she be elected president, when she suggested, “There are a lot of very important planning going on, and some of it is to signal to the Sunnis in the area, as well as Kurdish Peshmerga fighters, that we all need to be in this. And that takes a lot of planning and preparation. … I would also consider arming the Kurds. The Kurds have been our best partners in Syria, as well as Iraq. And I know there’s a lot of concern about that in some circles, but I think they should have the equipment they need so that Kurdish and Arab fighters on the ground are the principal way that we take Raqqa after pushing ISIS out of Iraq.”

That’s not something an American president should say if he or she wish to elicit Turkey’s support in the Syrian campaign. Proposing to arm the Kurds sounds about as bad to Ankara as the idea of the US arming Hamas would be received in Jerusalem. That would be one of those cases where Clinton would be well advised to have one policy for public consumption and another for insiders.

You probably noticed we did not deal at all with the Trump tapes or the Clinton emails, because everyone else in the media are offering a wealth of information on those. We only tried to point out that when it comes to one of Israel’s most burning issues, the escalation of the war north of its border, neither candidate has offered a particularly convincing formula, and Clinton actually declared she would definitely keep US ground troops out of the Syrian civil war.

We should note with satisfaction that Israel was not mentioned even once in the debate and neither was the two-state solution or Jewish settlements. Thankfully, both candidates are too clever to step on that landmine.

JNi.Media

EJC: European Parliament Report on Relations With Iran ‘A Massive Missed Opportunity’

Friday, October 7th, 2016

The European Jewish Congress expressed deep disappointment on Thursday with the European Parliament’s passage of a strategy towards Iran after the signing of the JCPOA, the nuclear agreement.

“This road map is an important opportunity to link improved cooperation and relations with Iran on its behavior in the region, notably its assistance to the brutal and bloody Assad regime, and its unrepentant support for terrorist groups like Hamas and Hezbollah which continue to target and massacre innocent civilians,” Dr. Moshe Kantor, President of the EJC, said.

“Additionally, we would expect the European Parliament to make plain that denying the Holocaust while calling for another, against the State of Israel, would be a red line for empowering relations.”

Compiled by Richard Howitt, a member of the European Union’s legislative arm for Britain’s Labour Party, the report on “EU strategy towards Iran after the nuclear agreement” was passed on Thursday by the Committee on Foreign Affairs in Brussels.

“Iran is playing an extremely negative role in the region and beyond and it seems a little absurd to be rewarding the Iranian regime at this time,” Kantor said.

“Europe has a lot of bargaining chips to ensure a less recalcitrant Iran and it is giving them away up front.

“This document barely criticizes one of the worst abusers of human rights and terrorist supporting regimes anywhere in the world.”

Hana Levi Julian

In VP Debate Pence Fails to Score Resounding Blow on Iran Deal

Wednesday, October 5th, 2016

In Tuesday night’s debate between Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine (D) and Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (R), most of the pundits early on scored a slight win for Trump’s VP, mostly because he was much more restrained than Trump had been in his bout with Hillary Clinton a week earlier, and did not let Kaine go under his skin. One pundit even joked how presidential this guy Pence is, I wonder who’s going to be his VP pick. But while Pence held his own for 90 minutes, although he left all of his opponent’s challenges on Trump’s scandals and questionable statements unanswered, he let Kaine get away with at least one terrible lie: that the nuclear deal carved in part by Clinton as the former Secretary of State removed the Iranian nuclear threat.

This point should probably be scored as a win for the Democrat, because it’s one issue about which the consensus is wide and clear among many Democrats, as well as the bulk of the media: the much celebrated deal was forced on Congress by massive political trickery and outright lies, led to the release of an estimated $150 billion to the world’s largest perpetrator of terrorism, and freed Iran to start working on its nuclear weapon in as little as five years.

Overall, the debate veered to the Iran deal four times, and Gov. Pence was not able to turn any of them into a decisive knockout, or even a win on points.

When Sen. Kaine asked, “Do you know that Iran was racing toward a nuclear weapon and Russia was expanding its stockpile? … [Sec. Clinton] worked a tough negotiation with nations around the world to eliminate the Iranian nuclear weapons program without firing a shot.

Pence responded, astonished, “Eliminate the Iranian nuclear weapons program?”

Kaine came back, “Absolutely, without firing a shot.”

Pence let that statement stand and was dragged instead into a debate over who was responsible for the US withdrawal from Iraq. Advantage Kaine on the Iran deal.

Later on, the moderator, Elaine Quijano (CBS), asked Kiane, “Has the terrorist threat increased or decreased?” To which he responded, among other things, “The terrorist threat has decreased in some ways because an Iranian nuclear weapons program has been stopped.”

Kaine continued with an avalanche of points about why Clinton was a better leader to deal with terrorism, repeating ad nauseam that Donald Trump is an admirer of Vladimir Putin and other world tyrants.

When his turn came to respond, Pence first waded through a sluggish attack on Clinton’s responsibility for ISIS, which is not easy to prove, and only towards the end he reached what should have been his money shot, saying, “And a reference to the Iranian deal, the Iranian deal that Hillary Clinton initiated, $150 billion to the radical mullahs in Iran.”

Kaine said, “Stopping a nuclear weapons program without firing a shot?”

Pence then retorted, “You didn’t stop the nuclear weapons program.”

Kaine said, “Yes, we did.”

Pence was then cut off after blurting, “You essentially…” by Kaine, who actually said, “Even the Israeli military says it stopped.”

Pence, instead of pausing to challenge that misleading half-truth, made a weak statement lacking in specificity, that the deal “guaranteed that Iran will someday become a nuclear power, because there’s no limitations once the period of time of the treaty comes off.”

A little later on, Kaine said, again essentially unchallenged, “Hillary Clinton is the secretary of state who knows how to build alliances. She built the sanctions regime around the world that stopped the Iranian nuclear weapons program. And that’s what an intelligence surge means. Better skill and capacity, but also better alliances.”

Had Pence been better versed with the history of the Iran deal, he could have done a lot with this generalized statement, including, perhaps, mentioning the fact that by the Obama Administration submitted the nuclear deal for Congressional approval, it had already been implemented by all its “allies,” so that a continued US embargo would not have mattered — Iran’s revolutionary regime had already been legitimized by the world powers.

Pence then missed his last opportunity to score big on the Iran deal, when he opened, “But let me go back to this Iran thing. I mean, he keeps saying that [the deal] Hillary Clinton started [with the Iranians] prevented Iran from getting a nuclear weapon.”

Kaine quickly interrupted: “That’s what the Israeli [chief] of staff is saying right now.”

Pence said, quite correctly, “Well, that’s not what — that’s not what Israel thinks.”

Kaine announced triumphantly, “Gadi Eizenkot, you can go check it.”

For the record, in January 2016, IDF Chief of Staff Lieut. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot said the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) between Iran and six world powers was “significantly changing the vector that Iran has been on.” But in that same speech, and in many assessments that followed, Eizenkot and other Israeli generals have been warning against “many dangers as well as opportunities” created by the accord.

And on the day after that much quoted Eizenkot speech, a mini diplomatic crisis erupted when Israel’s Defense Ministry issued a statement comparing President Obama with British Premier Neville Chamberlain, who signed the 1938 Munich agreement with Adolph Hitler, basically abandoning the free democratic state of Czechoslovakia. But Gov. Pence probably did not bone up on that part, as can bee seen from his weak response, “You wouldn’t necessarily know that,” regarding Eizenkot’s supposed blessings for the Iran deal.

Kaine challenged him, saying, “Go to the tape.”

Pence then had enough of his wits about him to recall a talking point, when he said, “I know you boycotted Prime Minister Netanyahu’s speech when he came before the Congress.”

Kaine did not deny the charge, but said, apologetically, “No, I visited him in his office. I visited him in his office.”

Pence then, finally, pounced on him, saying, “You boycotted the speech.” Except that instead of marshalling the facts to expose the Iran deal for all its dangerous failures, Pence delivered a weak jab: “The point is, what this Iran — so-called Iran deal did was essentially guarantee — I mean, when I was in Congress, I fought hard on a bipartisan basis with Republican and Democrat members to move forward the toughest sanctions, literally, in the history of the United States, against Iran.”

Which Kaine, quick on his feet, responded to, saying, “And then Hillary used them to get a deal.”

Pence would not let his opponent have the last word, though, repeating, “We were bringing them to heel, but the goal was always that we would only lift the sanctions if Iran permanently renounced their nuclear ambitions. […] Elaine, let me finish a sentence. They have not renounced their nuclear ambitions. And when the deal’s period runs out, there’s no limitation on them obtaining weapons. […] And the fact that they got $1.7 billion in a ransom payment… is astonishing to the American people.”

That was the sum total of Gov. Pence’s effort, which could have revived a very sore, anti-Obama sentiment among undecided American voters, especially Jewish voters who at this point are second only to African Americans in their commitment to the Clinton camp. Perhaps Presidential Candidate Trump would be able to articulate a forceful argument in Sunday’s debate. It would require an intimate familiarity with the details of the deal, as well as with the range of violations of a variety of UN resolutions on the part of Iran. Can Donald Trump do it? If he wants to become president, he really should.

JNi.Media

Police Hold Billionaire Lauder for Questioning over Netanyahu Investigation

Tuesday, October 4th, 2016

Jewish American billionaire Ronald Lauder was detained briefly for questioning by police last week, when he arrived in Israel to attend former president Shimon Peres’ funeral, Israel’s Channel 2 News reported Tuesday night. Lauder was questioned about his relationship with the Netanyahu family.

The president of the World Jewish Congress was detained by investigators from Police Lahav 433 special unit after arriving in Israel. According to Lauder, he told police the move was “disrespectful.” He said, “I’m arriving here from a memorial service for the massacre in Babi Yar, and going to the funeral of a good friend, with whom I’ve partnered in political endeavors — and you’re detaining me.”

In the end, according to Lauder, he reached an agreement with police that in the coming few days either the Lahav 433 investigators would come to see him in New York, or he would show up in Israel prepared to give a full testimony. Lauder said he promised to answer all the questions honestly and openly, to help police get the truth.

According to Channel 2, the attempt to interrogate Lauder suggests police are sitting on solid suspicions against the prime minister and his family members, most notably his wife, Sara, since the permission to detain a foreign dignitary of Lauder’s stature likely required the consent of AG Avihai Mandelblit.

Back in April 2011, Sara Netanyahu told Israel’s Channel 10 about Lauder: “He used to be our friend, he no longer is. He flew us around and hosted us more than anyone who is mentioned in [that year’s investigation], and his name is not even in [that year’s report].”

Lauder has been critical of Prime Minister Netanyahu’s policy regarding the Iran nuclear deal.

Back in September, Channel 2 News ran a report saying Netanyahu is being investigated on an alleged attempt to solicit a bribe. But the individuals police suspected of being the target of the PM’s solicitation, including Israeli born US businessman Ari Harow did not provide incriminating information.

JNi.Media

Lessons from 5776, Optimism for 5777

Sunday, October 2nd, 2016

As we take our leave from 5776, I would sum it up as the year that Israel discovered the correct paradigm for dealing with her adversaries.

In previous years, many believed Israel’s military superiority allowed and even obliged her to take “risks for peace.” Others believed that propping up the economies of Israel’s neighbors until they were on par with her own, while giving up land, would bring peace.

But in 5776, Israel discovered that the secret for a relatively peaceful status quo comes not from creating economic parity, giving away land or taking risks, but rather by creating economic dependence, along with the application of Israel’s military superiority.

It should be made clear that a peaceful status quo is a separate discussion from what Israel’s long term vision for the region should be — whether that solution be Israel applying phased or full sovereignty over all of Israel’s territories, a confederation with Jordan, or some other ideas not yet tested or considered.

It’s been repeatedly noted that only one of the terror attacks by PA Arabs in this recent terror wave was executed by an individual with an Israeli work permit.

Israelis have learned that no matter how much their neighbors may hate them (and by the way, not all of Israel’s neighbors close and far hate Israel), or how much incitement they absorb from Palestinian Authority TV and the Islamic preachers, their families and villages depend on the money they make from Israelis, and all of them, save one, would not dare risk that.

Which is why the Palestinian Authority tried its best to force these Arab workers to stop working in the settlements, and why it failed. (PA Arabs make three times more working for Israelis than they do working in the Palestinian Authority.)

Incidentally, Israel would probably help the future stability of Judea and Samaria by announcing it will guarantee PA police salaries should the Palestinian Authority collapse under the weight of its own incompetence and corruption or Abbas’ retirement or death.

There’s very little that creates more loyalty than a paycheck paid on time.

Despite the roadblocks set up by Israel’s High Court, 5776 concluded with Jordan signing a $10 billion gas deal with Israel, which a Jordanian official said will save Jordan $600 million a year. It’s a deal that might very well tie Jordan’s economic stability to Israel for the next 15 years, along with the fresh water that Israel provides them.

Besides natural gas, Turkey, Greece, various Arab countries, some African states, India, Russia and China are looking to purchase or enter business partnerships with Israel, to acquire Israeli technology, military experience and equipment, fresh water solutions, solar energy, agricultural know-how or simply gain access to Israeli projects.

As these countries and others become more reliant on what Israel has to offer, there will be a gradual, visible change in their public attitudes, voting in international forums, and policies towards Israel, as Prime Minister Netanyahu pointed out in his speech last month before the UN General Assembly.

On the military side, this past year, the IDF finally resumed its function in actively preventing terrorism, rather than restricting itself to a reactive mode. IDF soldiers have been raiding the hornet nests in the Palestinian Authority every night, to confiscate illegal weapons and ammunition, uncover weapons factories and erode the terror networks of Hamas, the PLO, and the various Islamic Jihadi groups which expanded operations under former defense ministers Ehud Barak and Moshe Ya’alon. And, surprisingly, these IDF actions hardly provoke any international condemnation, save for criticism from Haaretz.

It was also the year Israel has actively taken on BDS, and began to beat it down, state after US state.

Obviously, all was not rosy this past year.

Thanks to the Iran deal, a revitalized Islamic Iran has been expanding its terror operations. But as Iran and their client Hezbollah try to establish terror bases on Israel’s Golan Heights’ border, Syrian Rebels are fighting those Iranian and Hezbollah terrorists on the Golan — the same rebels who are reportedly receiving much-needed medical aid from Israel.

There has been an upswing in Israeli Arabs participating in terror attacks and joining ISIS due to Islamic radicalization, incitement and propaganda, but Israel is already learning how to deal with them.

Hamas is still destroying Gaza as it continues to prepare for another round of fighting with Israel.

In the spring of 5777, Israel will celebrate 50 years since the liberation of our ancient lands of Judea, Samaria and eastern Jerusalem from the illegal Jordanian occupation. Expect the usual NGOs (under new names and old) and Israel haters to foment their venomous propaganda, and also expect fewer and fewer people, everywhere in the world, to pay attention.

There’s concern over Obama’s anticipated November surprise at the UN.

And, of course, there will be the new challenges that either candidate for US president will present to Israel.

At the JewishPress.com we believe we have reason to be optimistic.

Israel has made significant positive changes this past year, with strategic, long term ideas being implemented, already with noticeable results. 5777 will bring challenges, even difficult ones, but we believe Israel is ready for them.

Shana Tova – Have a sweet new year.

Stephen Leavitt

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/lessons-from-5776-optimism-for-5777/2016/10/02/

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