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July 27, 2016 / 21 Tammuz, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘Middle East’

Netanyahu Tells Soldiers Israel is ‘Island of Stability’ in Middle East

Tuesday, May 3rd, 2016

“It’s nearly two years since Operation Protective Edge” and it’s the quietest it’s ever been since Hamas took control of the region in 2007, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told troops Tuesday during an unannounced visit with IDF soldiers stationed along the northern Gaza border.

Netanyahu had gone with top defense officials to inspect the site of a large terror tunnel leading from Gaza into Israel that was discovered last month. It was intended for use by Hamas’s elite Nukhba commandos during a strategic attack on Israeli communities by the border.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu inspects a terror tunnel leading from Gaza under the border deep into Israeli territory.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu inspects a terror tunnel leading from Gaza under the border deep into Israeli territory.

“Tomorrow is Holocaust Remembrance Day; 70 years ago, we were like a leaf in the wind with no defense force, helpless as they massacred us, slaughtered us. Today we have a country and we have an army – we have the ability to defend ourselves,” Netanyahu said. “What motivates me is to secure the future of Israel in its land, because for the Jewish People there is no future without our land.”

He pointed out that elsewhere in the region things are not nearly as calm. “We are in the eye of the storm, I want you to know this,” he said. “ A half million people have been murdered around us in Syria, which is collapsing. Iraq has collapsed, neither of them – actually – still exist. Yemen collapsed, Libya collapsed.”

Israel is an “island of stability,” he said.

But a few hours after the prime minister left the area, Gaza terrorists opened fire at IDF soldiers and vehicles operating near the Gaza Belt community of Nahal Oz, close to the security fence along Gaza’s northern border. No soldiers were injured in the attack; however, at least one military vehicle was damaged.

According to the IDF Spokesperson, soldiers from the Engineering Corps were doing routine maintenance on the security fence at the time of the attack. They were working on a section of the fence near the Gaza City neighborhood of Shujaya – the location of one of the toughest battles fought by the IDF against Hamas during Operation Protective Edge.

Hana Levi Julian

British Labour MP Naz Shah Suspended Over Anti-Semitic Posts

Thursday, April 28th, 2016

British Labour MP Naz Shah has discovered a “heartfelt” apology is not enough to get her off the hook for anti-Semitism, even in the UK, even three times repeated.

The Bradford West parliamentarian was ‘outed’ by the Guido Fawkes political website for serious anti-Israel and anti-Semitic Facebook posts she made two years ago.

In a statement she read this week in the British House of Commons, she offered a “profound apology” which she then also posted on Twitter. Shah said that she “made these posts at the height of the Gaza conflict in 2014, when emotions were running high around the Middle East conflict. But that is not excuse for the oofense I have given, for which I unreservedly apologize.”

Labour Party Jeremy Corbyn, who has caught more than a few critical comments himself in recent weeks for the rising anti-Semitism in his party, warned her about the “offensive and unacceptable posts.”

The Board of Deputies of British Jews said the comments were “simply appalling” and called for an urgent meeting “for clarification of her views on Israel and the UK Jewish community.”

Prime Minister David Cameron, a Conservative Party member, simply called for her suspension.

“Jeremy Corbyn and Naz Shah have mutually agreed that she is administratively suspended from the Labour Party by the general secretary. Pending investigation, she is unable to take part in any party activity and the whip is removed,” said a Labour Party statement that followed.

But being unable to take part in any party activities did not indicate whether in fact Shah would ultimately be allowed to remain as a Member of Parliament.

Minutes before the Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs), Corbyn had issued a statement defending Shah, saying that her social media posts were made before she became a lawmaker.

“Naz has issued a fulsome apology,” he said. “She does not hold these views and accepts she was completely wrong to have made these posts. The Labour Party is implacably opposed to anti-Semitism and all forms of racism.”

Perhaps, but individual members of the party, more than a few, are not – and the number of those who feel free to express those views is rising, particularly under the leadership of Mr. Corbyn. His own brother, Piers, took aim at Jewish Labour MP Louise Ellman — and brother Jeremy defended his right to do so. At the time, Ellman had called for Labour to clamp down on anti-Semitism in the party – but Piers Corbyn called her remarks “absurd” and said, “Zionists can’t cope with anyone supporting rights for Palestine.”

Nevertheless, there were Labour Party MPs who called for Shah’s suspension, including MP Lisa Nandy. Labour MP Kate Hoey told the BBC that Shah should resign “right away” from the Home Affairs Select Committee, which is tasked with investigating the rising anti-Semitism in Britain.

Prominent British politician Lord (Michael Abraham, Baron) Levy recently sounded the alarm that anti-Semitism is rising in the Labour Party itself, and not in the UK in general, and has threatened to leave the fold if something is not done to stem the tide. A son of observant Jewish parents, Lord Levy warned that Corbyn is presiding over what appears to be a resurgence in the party’s acceptance of anti-Semitism.

Hana Levi Julian

Labour MP ‘Outed’ Over Anti-Semitic Posts on Facebook

Tuesday, April 26th, 2016

British Labour MP Naz Shah resigned Tuesday from her unpaid post as an aide after a virulently anti-Israel post and one that was plain anti-Semitic, both written on Facebook in 2014, were highlighted this week on the Guido Fawkes political website.

She apologized publicly Tuesday (April 26) on Twitter for both.

She was careful, however, not to resign from her position on the parliament’s Home Affairs Select Committee – which is set to investigate rising anti-Semitism in Britain.

Anti-Zionist Facebook post shared and highlighted in 2014 by Muslim British Labour MP Naz Shah.

The first offensive post was displayed within the context of an article on the Guido Fawkes political website that explained Shah had “argued Israel should be ‘relocated’ to America and praised the ‘transportation costs’ of deporting Israeli Jews out of the Middle East.” (italics courtesy of Guido Fawkes site) “As these stories go, it is at the more controversial end of the scale…” the writer noted.

Shah had shared a graphic showing an outline of the State of Israel, superimposed on to a map of the United States with the headline “Solution for Israel-Palestine Conflict – Relocate Israel into United States.” The graphic adds:

• “America has plenty of land to accommodate a 51st state;
• The transportation cost will be less than 3 years of defense spending; Palestinians will get their land and life back;
• Middle East will again be peaceful without foreign interference;
• Oil prices will go down, inflation will go down, whole world will be happy.”

Shah added a comment to the graphic: “Problem solved and save u bank charges for 3 billion pounds you transfer yearly.” In the comments section she wrote: “Only problem with that is Israel would need to return all the land and farms it has stolen and give the Palestinians rights which is not possible.” She then added: “Therefore I will tweet Barack Obama and David Cameron and put this idea to them? Save them pocket money?”

All of her 2014 Facebook posts have since been deleted, prompting one to wonder just what else she had opined during that year in which Israel had been forced into another defensive counter terror war with Hamas in Gaza.

For example, Shah had also posted a link on Facebook to a newspaper poll asking whether Israel had committed war crimes, urging her constituents to vote “yes.” Her post screamed in capital letters, “URGENT ACTION… WILL TAKE TEN SECONDS (link) The Jews are rallying to the poll at the bottom and there is now 87% disagreeing and 13% agreeing. CLICK “YES” I AGREE WITH JOHN PRESCOTT THAT ISRAEL IS COMMITTING WAR CRIMES.” FORWARD ON TO ALL CONTACTS RIGHT NOW.”

As the Guido Fawkes site noted, she had also tweeted a link to a blog post comparing Zionism to Al Qaeda, and accusing Zionists of “grooming” Jews to “exert political influence at the highest levels of public office.”

Shah, who is Muslim, was elected to the British parliament the next year, in 2015.  She defeated incumbent George Galloway, who had declared his district off-limits to all Israelis, including tourists.

As she stepped down Tuesday from her unpaid position as Parliamentary Private Secretary to shadow chancellor John McDonnell, the virulently anti-Israel post and a another deeply anti-Semitic one were both made public.

It was the British Jewish Chronicle who had published that second post, reporting that in August 2014, Shah had tweeted the link to a blog called ‘Walk Together.’

On that blog an article entitled “Colonization, Israel, Palestinian resistance and…”, claimed Zionism was “like Al Qaeda.” This was the article that claimed Zionism is used to “groom” Jews to “exert political influence at the highest levels of public office.”

When the Home Affairs Select Committee publishes its report on its investigation into Britain’s rising anti-Semitism, the findings should be most illuminating.

Perhaps the committee members can begin with a mirror as an initial exercise.

A Labour MP said earlier this month the party is starting to look as if it doesn’t care about prejudice against Jewish people.

“We have now got a problem where too many of our Jewish members and people out there in the country think the Labour Party is apathetic to anti-Semitism,” said MP Wes Streeting.

Former Labour parliamentary candidate Vicki Kirby was suspended twice last month over tweets in which she called Hitler a “Zionist God” and said Jews have “big noses.”

Prominent British politician Lord Michael Abraham Levy sounded the alarm in March that anti-Semitism is rising in the Labour Party. Levy has threatened to leave the fold if something is not done to stem the tide.

The Jewish peer has been a chief fundraiser for Labour, and is a longtime friend of former Labour Prime Minister Tony Blair.

Hana Levi Julian

Spokesman Says US Committed to Returning Golan Heights to Syrians — No Matter Which Syrians

Tuesday, April 19th, 2016

One of the minor victories of Israeli rightwing pundits has been fueled by the gruesome holocaust taking place over the past five years in Israel’s northern neighbor, Syria. Back in April 2008, then Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert agrees to fully withdraw from the Golan Heights in return for peace with Syria. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad confirmed Olmert’s remarks at the time that Jerusalem and Damascus were holding talks through a third-party in an attempt to resume the negotiations between the two countries.

“There are efforts exerted in this direction,” Assad told reporters. “This is nothing new, and we have discussed this in the past.” Assad added that “Syria takes every opportunity to express its willingness to establish just and comprehensive peace in accordance with the international decisions… The criterion for the acceptance of any negotiations is that they will be held seriously and that there will be a commitment to implement the UN resolutions, particularly as the Israeli side knows very well what is acceptable and unacceptable by the Syrian side.”

What was acceptable to the Syrian ruler back then was a complete return of every last inch of the Golan Heights to Syrian control, removal of every last Jew and Jewish property from the area, and a return to the 1967 borders, when Syrian snipers ruled the lives of Israeli farmers along the eastern shores of the Kinneret.

Imagine, a long string of Israeli columnists, bloggers, Facebookers and Tweeters have been saying, if Israel had indeed returned to the 1967 border just before the scum of the Middle East — Sunni rebels, Hezbollah, Al Qaeda, ISIS, and Syrian chemical warfare operators were to crowd the basalt hills overlooking Tiberias — where would we be today?

It’s a winning argument, open and shut, other than Gideon Levi and a couple other useful idiots there really is no Israeli who would ever entertain returning the Golan Heights.

But at Foggy Bottom, where life behaves according to more sublime rules than the Jewish aspiration to stay alive, no lessons have been learned regarding the wisdom of returning Syrian murderers of whatever ilk to the hills above the Kinneret.

It began during the State Dept. Monday press briefing this week. Spokesman John Kirby was asked about the official US recognition of Syria. Essentially, the reporter wanted to know, if the US is so invested in ousting President Bashar al-Assad as a prerequisite for ending the civil war in Syria, why does it still recognize him as the legitimate sovereign of that tortured land?

The reporter asked (redacted): “Legally and diplomatically you only recognize Syria, as you have in the past. In fact, you still issue press briefings in the name of the US Embassy in Syria and so on. From time to time I see that you recognize the government of the Arab Syrian Republic. You have not recognized anyone else as exercising any kind of authority or any kind of sovereignty over any territory of Syria.

Kirby: I’m not sure I understand your question.

Reporter: My question is very simple. Do you recognize any other entity in Syria to have sovereignty over that territory?

Kirby: We recognize that there is a Syrian Government in place. We also recognize that it’s led by a dictator who continues to barrel bomb and gas his people. And the government that’s in place right now, led by Bashar al-Assad, can’t be part of the long-term future of Syria, which is why we’re doing this entire political process to begin with. It’s why so many nations have come together to try to resolve the civil war and the conflict there so that people can have a government in place that they’ve actually had a voice in putting there and that is responsive and responsible for them.

David Israel

Hezbollah Sabotages French Effort to Advance Lebanese Presidential Elections, Unrest to Continue

Sunday, April 17th, 2016

French President Francois Hollande is wrapping up a two-day visit to Lebanon where he did his best to convince leaderless lawmakers to move ahead towards presidential elections, with little visible success. Hollande’s next stop on his Middle East tour is Egypt and Jordan.

The Iranian-backed Hezbollah terrorist group cancelled a meeting between Shi’ite representatives and visiting French President Francois Hollande in Beirut on Sunday. Kuwaiti newspaper Al Seyassah quoted Lebanese ministerial sources as saying a minister from the terror group’s political wing, Lebanese MP Mohammed Ra’ad, was slated to meet Sunday with Hollande.

The French president was in Beirut Saturday and Sunday. Lebanon has been without a president since 2014. Internecine conflicts are rising in the country due to the raging civil war in Syria and the expanding threat of the Da’esh (ISIS) terror group flowing over their common border.

The unrest in both Syria and Lebanon has prompted Israeli defense officials to beef up its military troops along the border with both countries.

“I want to visit Beirut again when there is a president in Lebanon but the issue lies in the hand of Lebanese lawmakers … who should resolve the deadlock and elect a head of state,” Hollande said Saturday following talks with Lebanese parliament speaker Nabih Berri and Prime Minister Tammam Salam.

The country has been without a leader nearly two years, in part because Hezbollah keeps boycotting the parliamentary process that leads to the presidential elections.

Hollande is expected to reiterate France’s support for the Lebanese army, according to Yalibnan. Saudi Arabia suspended a $3 billion military grant to Lebanon earlier this year. Lebanon is home to more than a million Syrian refugees, the equivalent of a quarter the country’s population of 4.5 million. There are also nearly 400,000 Arabs who migrated to the country when they fled their homes during wars with Israel. They are still held at arms’ length as refugees in 12 camps after moving to the country after more than half a century.

The French leader was also scheduled to travel Sunday to an informal Syrian refugee camp in Lebanon’s eastern Beka’a Valley to speak to families who will be resettled in France.

Hana Levi Julian

‘The US is Preventing Israel From Joining Sunni Coalition’ Says Government Official

Monday, February 8th, 2016

By Michael Zeff/TPS

Jerusalem (TPS) – Deputy Minister of Regional Cooperation Ayoob Kara revealed at the Jerusalem Conference on Monday, February 2 that the Israeli government has an interest in pursuing a closer relationship with Sunni states and that Russia is linked to the existential threats against Israel.

The Jerusalem Conference is organized annually by Arutz Sheva, a network affiliated with the religious conservative right wing. The conference tackles political, economic, social, and religious issues in Israel.

The opening panel of the conference featured Deputy Minister Kara as the official representative and voice of the Likud party and the Israeli government.

“The existential threat to Israel does not come from the Islamic State or Sunni Muslims,” Kara declared to the panel. “The existential threat to Israel and the Jews is Shiite; it is Iran, which is backed now and has been backed for a long time by Russia.”

Although Kara blamed Russia, he did not spare the United States from criticism as well, claiming that the US is preventing Israel from making connections with moderate Muslim states.

“The best course of action for Israel to face the Iranian threat as well as that of the Islamic State is through cooperation with the moderate Sunni nations. We need to join a coalition with Saudi Arabia, but it seems that the US does not want that to happen,” elaborated the deputy minister.

These comments raised a few eyebrows and generated some surprised whispers from both the crowd and other members of the panel, which included local media personalities and rabbis.

Deputy Minister Kara later toned down the nature of his comments in an interview with Tazpit Press Service (TPS).

“I did not mean to say that the US is actively and willfully preventing a closer relationship between Israel and Saudi Arabia,” Kara told TPS.

“But the US is ignoring and not helping with steps to bring our countries together, and I think this in itself is a method of preventing Israel from joining the Saudi coalition,” explained Kara.

Deputy Minister Kara confirmed to TPS that Israel shares geopolitical and security interests with the moderate Sunni states and that both sides are seeking to develop strategic and financial cooperation and connections .

“I had a meeting yesterday with Prime Minister Netanyahu and Director-General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Dore Gold and we are working on opening direct channels to Saudi Arabia and to pursue a normalization of relations with other Muslim states,” Kara said.

TPS / Tazpit News Agency

Iranian Government Humiliates U.S. After Freeing Sailors

Thursday, January 14th, 2016

Iran kept its promise and released the U.S. Navy sailors with their two small boats back into the Persian Gulf late Wednesday, but not before snapping a wealth of images and probably scrutinizing the vessels right down to the last bolt.

Tehran made certain to get as much mileage as possible from the unexpected windfall of the boats that drifted Tuesday a scant mile (two kilometers, 1.2 miles) into its territorial waters.

Seizing both, Tehran’s Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif assured U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry that the crews of a lone female and nine male sailors would be released “promptly.”

But they were held for 24 hours on Farsi Island in the Persian Gulf – home to a base of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps — for as long as could reasonably be managed without an international public relations disaster. Although Iran does not usually concern itself with public relations, this time it was important.

After all, Iran is on track for “implementation day” shortly — the day when the economic sanctions against the Islamic Republic are to be lifted. On that day billions of dollars are to start flowing again into its coffers, and oil can once again begin flowing in the other direction, towards its still-loyal European customers.

Meanwhile, the IRGC technicians had plenty of time to examine previously inaccessible American technology and equipment, photograph it from every angle and probably sample it as well. Perhaps some tinkering? Anything taken? These are questions that will only be answered once the sailors are safely back to base and debriefed, and engineers can go over the equipment.

The sailors were also filmed in humiliating circumstances, on their knees with hands behind their heads — good footage for reminding folks on the home front and abroad who’s the boss on the high seas, and at home, when it counts.

That footage and those snaps are now being released to the Iranian and global public. The images will also jog the memories of anyone old enough to remember the days of the 1979 Islamic Revolution, those who watched the coverage of the American Embassy hostages in Tehran.

The message is crystal clear:  If you choose to sail into Persian Gulf waters, beware. We await you, and at any opportunity we will pounce. This is an area under our complete control. Enter at your own risk.

The lack of response by Washington when a Middle East nation violates UN Security Council resolutions – like the test of a ballistic missile by Iran last October – is an invitation to an escalation at some point down the line.

More to the point, the message to Tehran when its Navy fires a rocket almost directly at an American military vessel — as it did last month — and life continues with “business as usual” is one that is dangerous and very unwise.

In the Middle East, a non-response is perceived as weakness, vulnerability and availability for more of the same. For those who look to the U.S. as an ally, this is a very bad message indeed.

Hana Levi Julian

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/iranian-government-humiliates-u-s-after-freeing-sailors/2016/01/14/

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