Through Jerusalem, Trump has changed the world
We don’t know what world leaders whisper about him, but love him or hate him, they know that President Trump has returned America to its standing as the world’s colossus.
At the economic forum in Davos, Switzerland, Trump faces what are known as the elites, who never liked him much. But in Trump they’ll be facing the Lion in the room.
America once again strides the global stage and It started Wednesday, December 6, 2017, when from the White House, Trump announced the following: “I have determined that it is time to officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.” Since that moment, that big shining moment, nothing has been the same.
In reaction to those words – sweetness to lovers of Liberty and Zion, bitterness to the others — tyrannies (like North Korea and Iran) trembled, alliances (between the European Union and the Palestinian Authority) were shattered, and more of our enemies went scattering for refuge among think-alike regimes, or anyone who would take them in from the cold.
They did not believe he would do it…but he did…with no thought to their “feelings.” They’d gotten so used to Obama, that imposter from Kenya, a weakling, a Quisling, that it came as a shock to find that here was a man. Here was a man who kept his word. Here was a man of action. Here was a man of honor. Here was a man who could not be played.
If he could do something so courageous to some, so outrageous to others – what else would he do, and to whom?
Trump’s Jerusalem bequest upended thousands of years of global politics. No wonder they were scared.
‘Trump burst the Palestinians’ bubble’
President Donald Trump “burst the Palestinian Arabs’ bubble”, Middle East expert and regular Arutz Sheva contributor Dr. Mordechai Kedar said on Thursday.
“The Palestinians are very disappointed because they built an entire house of cards by claiming they will get a Palestinian state. Who will give them such a thing? Nobody. They dream about the ‘return’ of the ‘Palestinian refugees’ not to ‘Palestine’ but to the same villages in which they lived in Tel Aviv, in Netanya. These are all pipe dreams, and now Trump came and took out the Jerusalem card from the building, as well as card with the issue of the refugees which they kept alive for 70 years, and now the whole thing is shattered to pieces,” said Kedar.
“They’ve lost all direction, they have no idea what to do now, because they have no agenda. Everything in which they believed turned out to be nothing.”
“This frustration,” he opined, “will bring about the end of the Palestinian Authority.”
Asked if the current situation could cause Palestinian Arabs to carry out more terrorist attacks, Kedar said, “Terrorists never need another reason [to carry out attacks]. The mere fact that we Jews have a state made us a target. They don’t really need Trump to encourage them to wage terror against us. We suffered terror during the 1990s and during the 2000s without Trump. Trump is only a fig leaf to cover the real motivation to wipe us all out from this country.”
“I support the move of not only the American embassy but of all embassies to Jerusalem because this will contribute to peace. When our neighbors – Palestinians, Arabs, Muslims – understand that they’ve lost the fight against us, peace will come,” Kedar declared.
Melanie Phillips: Trump, Brexit and diaspora Jews
Britain is the historic crucible of political freedom and tolerance; America is the greatest champion of those values in the world. Only by loving Britain and America will their people love Israel, the nation whose ancient culture gave Britain and America their foundational values.
Anti-Semitism never goes away. All such extremism erupts, however, not when people feel confident in their shared culture but when they feel it’s being taken away from them. That’s why Britain and Europe are witnessing the emergence of rampant anti-Semitism and the rise of some truly neo-fascist groups. And of course, the EU itself is deeply hostile to Israel.
The left’s animus against Israel goes hand-in-hand with its disdain for the idea of the nation. This is surely at root why Orthodox Jews support Trump: because Orthodox Jews identify as a nation.
As a result, they not only love Israel, but they also love America. They realize that both are under attack from the left, and they realize that Trump offers perhaps the only chance America has of surviving as recognizably itself.
British Jews labor under a different difficulty: their knowledge that British society thinks identifying as a Jewish nation is incompatible with loyalty to Britain.
Britain’s failure to grasp its deep connection to the Jewish people is one reason why the U.K. is in such deep civilizational trouble. Trump, by contrast, has joined up the dots and reaffirmed the spiritual bond between America and the Jews.
That’s the only way the West will be saved—and illustrates why, despite his manifold failings, Trump is probably the only person who can do it.
Maher Defends Jerusalem Decision: When You Win Wars You Take Land, Palestine A “Coiled Snake”
On the Friday edition of his show Real Time, HBO host Bill Maher defended President Trump’s decision to acknowledge Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, giving legitimacy to the country’s claim to the city. Maher said while he understands there will be repercussions, when you win wars you get land.
“I hate to agree with Donald Trump, but it doesn’t happen often, but I do. I don’t know why Israel — it has been their capital since 1949, it is where their government is. They’ve won all the wars thrown against them. I don’t understand why they don’t get to have their capital where they want,” he said.
“When you win a war you don’t get to take the other side’s land,” newly-minted New York Times columnist Michelle Goldberg said.
“Actually, you do,” Maher responded.
“Especially because they were attacked. I mean the country was divided, which they were okay with. They were attacked more than once and they took land in those wars that they won and there has been peace offers on the table ever since to give part of that land back,” he added.
Maher asked why is it always up to Israel to come up with a two-state solution, and when they do it is rejected and blamed for making it “impossible.” He said what is making a two-state solution impossible is the “perpetually hostile,” “coiled snake” that is Palestinian leadership.
Aaron David Miller: What Mike Pence Just Did in Jerusalem
Boy, when I’m wrong on the Middle East, I’m really wrong.
Almost from the beginning of the Trump administration, I predicted with the certainty of a believer that within a year, Donald Trump and Benjamin Netanyahu would be annoying the hell out of one another.
My logic was based on the simple proposition that two big and prickly egos can hardly occupy the same space at the same time—and who are two bigger egos than Trump and Netanyahu? And there were other factors, including an Israeli right wing eager to push Netanyahu ever rightward and the prime minister’s preternatural tendency to overdo things. All that, I figured, would sooner rather than later create a great deal of tension between America’s new president and Israel’s canniest political survivor, and make Trumpland an inhospitable place for Netanyahu’s politics and policies.
By the end of 2017 and the president’s announcement declaring Jerusalem the capital of the state of Israel—a decision largely explained by Trump’s need to cater to the Republican base and his lack of respect for foreign policy elites—I should have gotten the message there would be no train wreck coming.
Just watch the vice president’s recent trip to Israel—a mutual lovefest like nothing I’ve ever seen in some 40 years of watching American leaders interact with their often irascible Israeli counterparts. Mike Pence’s trip was less important for what it accomplished than what it reflected and represented: Under Trump: the U.S.-Israel relationship has undergone a transition from a valued special relationship to one that’s seemingly exclusive. The need for “no daylight” between the U.S. and Israel used to be a talking point wielded by staunchly pro-Israeli supporters against Democratic and Republican presidents alike; Trump has turned it into official policy, and many foreign policy hands worry that the U.S. interest is being lost in the process. (h/t Elder of Lobby)
Experts disagree on cause of widening partisan gap on Israel support
The Pew poll, released Tuesday, shows that partisan polarization around the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is starker than ever in the United States. While 79 percent of Republicans sympathize more with Israel than with the Palestinians, that number is only 27 percent for Democrats. Twenty-five percent of Democrats sympathized more with the Palestinians, while only nine percent of Republicans did. Overall, 46 percent of Americans sympathize more with Israel, and 19 percent with the Palestinians.
Since 2001, the share of Republicans who sympathize with Israel has increased 29 percentage points, from 50 percent to 79 percent, says Pew. Over the same period, the share of Democrats sympathizing more with Israel has declined 11 points, from 38 percent to 27 percent.
As recently as two years ago, 43 percent of Democrats sympathized more with Israel. And the drop for Israel this year is especially steep among liberal Democrats: 35 percent said they sympathized more with the Palestinians — nearly double the 19 percent who sympathize more with Israel.
The worriers see this as another crack in the bipartisan support that Israel has long enjoyed in the United States.
“The numbers are worrying for anyone like me that cares about the US-Israel relationship,” Dennis Ross, a former American peace negotiator for presidents of both parties, wrote in an email to JTA. “Israel has been and must remain not a Democratic or Republican issue but an American issue. That is a challenge now, especially with the attitudes of the progressive side of the Democratic Party, the alienation of the majority of the Jewish community from the Trump administration, and the administration’s strong symbolic support for Israel.”
The trend, according to one theory, was exacerbated by eight years of feuding between President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, which, according to whom you ask, showed either that Democrats couldn’t be trusted on Israel or that Netanyahu stumbled in associating Israel so closely with the Republican side.
The Curse of Victimhood
Earlier this month, Mahmoud Abbas called together a meeting of the PLO’s Central Council, and delivered a speech marked more by its rancor than by its accuracy. For well over two hours Abbas ranted against a whole range of characters, both historical and contemporary, whom he blamed for the dire situation of his people.
According to Abbas, the trouble all began with Oliver Cromwell, who “staged a coup against [King Charles I of Great Britain] and became the head of a republic.” According to Abbas, it was Cromwell who “came up with the idea of transferring the Jews from Europe to the Middle East … because they wanted this region to become an outpost to protect the interests and the convoys coming from Europe to the East.” According to this twisted narrative, Jews were the expedient pawns of colonialist expansion.
Next up on the blame list was Napoleon Bonaparte, who, in Abbas’ alternative universe, had declared that “a Jewish state must be established in Palestine,” and was only thwarted in this aspiration when he “failed at the walls of Acre,” — a victory that Abbas claimed for the Palestinians, even though no such national entity appeared until the second half of the 20th century.
This fantasy thesis, popular among anti-Zionist pseudo-historians, is based on a French newspaper report of May 1799, which claimed that Napoleon had invited “all the Jews of Asia and Africa to gather under his flag in order to re-establish the ancient Jerusalem.” Most respectable historians dismiss this as a wartime rumor, and even those who take the report seriously consider it a tactical gesture by Napoleon, who hoped that such a declaration would help tip the Battle of Acre in his favor. In short, no serious academic believes that Napoleon was a proto-Zionist.
‘Oslo Accords are dead,’ Abbas tells Israeli left-wing leader
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas told Meretz party leader Zehava Galon Friday that “the Oslo Accords are dead,” Channel 10 news reported.
Abbas, speaking with Galon to express condolences on the death of her father, said US President Donald Trump had, in several past conversations, “promised a good deal to [resolve] the conflict, and then came this unfortunate surprise, which we cannot accept.”
Palestinians froze their ties with Washington, and said they would not accept the administration as a peace broker, following Trump’s December 6 recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. The US has reacted to the boycott by threatening to withhold hundreds of millions of dollars it provides in aid.
Galon recounted that Abbas told her: “We are prepared for negotiations, and we never intended to leave the talks, but regrettably no one is offering us talks, especially not the Americans, who now wish to punish us.”
He added, she said, that “The Oslo Accords are dead, and even though Israel has not lived up to its obligations, we have so far not halted security cooperation. We are waiting to see if there can be negotiations under fair mediators.”
But he stressed that that term no longer applied to the US, and expressed hope that Europe, the Middle East Quartet (which includes the US) and Arabic countries could come together to provide such mediation.
Trump, Pence effigies hanged and burned in video on Palestinian TV station
Palestinian television on Saturday aired a video of Palestinians carrying out a mock-execution of US President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence.
Effigies of the US leaders were hanged and then burned in a street in the Aida refugee camp north of Bethlehem.
Palestinians froze their ties with Washington following Trump’s December 6 recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. The US has reacted to the boycott by freezing payments worth $ 100 million to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) earlier this month, and the White House and Congress are threatening to further cut aid to the Palestinians.
Wattan TV said the action was intended as a “rejection” by protesters of US cuts to UNRWA. Wattan is an independent TV station based in Ramallah.
Before the “execution” protesters held up Palestinian flags and various placards, including one with pictures of Trump, Pence and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, all with ‘X’ marks on them. Above them was written: “Zionism = Nazism = fascism. USA = ISIS = terror.”
EXCLUSIVE – Fatah Official Claims Arab Countries Trying to Establish New Palestinian Leadership
Arab countries recently made contact with prominent personalities and Palestinian officials who live in Jerusalem with the goal of changing the Palestinian leadership to one that would accept the Trump administration’s Mideast peace deal, an official from Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah party claims.
The countries made the contact “in order to build a Palestinian leadership in Jerusalem prepared to accept the American suggestion for compromise over Jerusalem like accepting the town of Abu Dis next to Jerusalem as the capital of a Palestinian state,” Fatah’s representative in charge of Jerusalem, Hatem Abdelkader (pictured), claimed to Breitbart Jerusalem.
“We warned all of these individuals not to cooperate with this initiative when we learned that they had been contacted,” said Abdelkader.
The Palestinian official refused to say which Arab countries allegedly tried to establish an alternative Palestinian leadership in Jerusalem, but Palestinian sources in the city claimed that they are Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
The Palestinians declared a general strike in Jerusalem on Tuesday in protest of U.S. Vice President Mike Pence’s visit to the Western Wall.
According to Abdelkader, “Pence is Trump’s deputy and we believe that under their leadership the U.S. has lost its ability to be the sponsor and mediator for the peace process. The U.S. under Pence and [Donald] Trump has gone from sponsor to active collaborator with one of the sides in negotiations – and I mean Israel of course – and as such they are no longer worthy of cooperation from us.
“There is no more credibility with the U.S. Jerusalem is one of the issues in a final agreement and when the Americans prematurely give Jerusalem to Israel as its capital, that means that they have interfered with negotiations and decided on the results of one of the most complicated issues if not the most.”
Abdelkader failed to mention the Palestinian Authority walked away from numerous U.S.-brokered peace talks over the past 17 years, with statehood offers that included a Palestinian capital in Jerusalem.
TV report: Israel now wants Trump to reject Palestinian ‘right of return’
A day after US President Donald Trump declared that he had taken the vexed issue of Jerusalem’s fate “off the table” for peace negotiations, Israel’s next goal is to have the US similarly make plain that it rejects demands for a so-called “right of return” of millions of Palestinians to Israel, a TV report said Friday.
Quoting what it said were diplomats who are following the process, Hadashot TV news said that now that Trump has declared Jerusalem to be Israel’s capital, “the assessment is that the next step will be to remove the ‘right of return’” from the list of final status issues to be resolved.
After that is done, the TV report said, Trump will present the “proposal for peace” that he spoke of on Thursday — a proposal, the Hadashot TV reporter remarked, that might better be described “perhaps as the Netanyahu plan” since it is expected to meet many of the Israeli prime minister’s demands.
The Palestinian Authority has been boycotting the Trump administration since December 6, when Trump formally recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and said he would move the US embassy to the holy city from Tel Aviv. In that address, the president said the boundaries of Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem would still have to be negotiated by the two sides, and thereby did not negate Palestinian claims to East Jerusalem. Sitting with Benjamin Netanyahu in Davos on Thursday, however, Trump said: “We took Jerusalem off the table, so we don’t have to talk about it anymore.” He added, turning to Netanyahu, “You won one point, and you’ll give up some other points later on in the negotiation.”
USAID chief: ‘No decisions made’ on cutting Palestinian aid
The administrator of the US Agency for International Development said Friday that the Trump administration had not yet made decisions regarding cuts in humanitarian aid to Palestinians.
“This process is ongoing, and no funding decisions have been made. As the President said, the United States expects the Palestinian leadership to work with us,” USAID’s Mark Green told The Times of Israel on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
“While I have not spoken directly to the President about this issue, my teams at USAID remains in close consultation with the White House and Department of State on this issue,” he said.
Earlier, Green said the Trump administration had not consulted with his office regarding plans to cut the funding to the Palestinians, but later clarified to The Times of Israel that he had “misspoken.”
Less than 24 hours earlier, US President Donald Trump suggested that Washington’s aid to the Palestinians — over 40% of which goes toward USAID projects — was on the chopping block following the angry reaction from Ramallah to his decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital last month.
Obama: I gave Israel more military aid than anyone
Former U.S. President Barack Obama this week addressed a Reform synagogue in New York City, telling the audience that he would joke with his staff that he was “basically a liberal Jew.”
In the speech, which was held at Temple Emanu-El on the Upper East Side this past Wednesday, the former president insisted he was not anti-Israel, telling the audience his administration gave Israel more military aid than any other previous administration.
“It is not a subject for dispute,” Obama said in comments quoted by The Daily Mail.
The former president also defended his decision not to veto UN Security Council Resolution 2334, which condemned Israeli construction in Judea and Samaria, and which was approved in December of 2016, weeks before he left office.
Obama said he allowed the resolution to go forward because “the pace of [Israeli] settlement construction skyrocketed making it almost impossible to make any kind of Palestinian state.”
“Voting against the resolution would have damaged our credibility on affirming human rights only when it’s convenient not when it has to do with ourselves and our friends,” Obama further claimed, according to The Daily Mail.
While Israeli officials criticized Obama for choosing to abstain and allowing the resolution to pass, the former president insisted in the past that his actions did not trigger a significant crisis in relations with Israel.
In his comments at the synagogue, Obama opined that domestic politics in the U.S. makes it hard to speak truths about Israel.
Slovenian president doubts country will recognize ‘Palestine’
Slovenia’s president cast doubt on Friday on his country recognizing “Palestine” as a state in the near future, days after the foreign minister had talked up the chances of such a move.
President Borut Pahor’s office said in a statement to AFP that he would only back the recognition of a Palestinian state “in circumstances that would contribute to the solution of its bilateral issues with Israel but not to the worsening of relations”.
The statement added that for the moment, “those circumstances (contributing to a solution) are not in place”.
Foreign Minister Karl Erjavec had said on Monday he hoped Slovenia would officially recognize a state of “Palestine” in March or April and that this would “strengthen Palestine’s negotiation in the Middle East peace process”.
Erjavec’s comments came a day after senior officials in Jerusalem told Israel’s Channel 10 News that Slovenia is expected to recognize the “state of Palestine” in the coming weeks and that three other European countries are considering the same move.
Slovenia would be only the second of the EU’s 28 member states to recognize Palestine while a member of the EU. Sweden did so in 2014.
Report: Iran Asked Hamas to Establish Presence on Golan Heights
Iran has ordered Hamas to establish a base of operations on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights from which to fire rockets, Israeli media reported on Tuesday.
According to the report in the daily Maariv, seeing impending victory in the Syrian civil war, Iran told Hamas to maintain a military force on the northern front in the Golan Heights region to contribute to the military effort if a conflict erupts in the north.
An Arab intelligence source has confirmed to Breitbart Jerusalem that Iran did indeed ask Hamas to join Iran and its allies in Syria.
The source noted that on a military level, Hamas’ contribution isn’t critical due to the presence of Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guard as well as forces from Hezbollah and other groups allied with the Syrian regime. “But there is an Iranian attempt here to tell Hamas that if they want to get out of the difficult financial crisis haunting the organization, Iran expects Hamas to be completely bound to Iranian interests and Iranian needs in the region,” he said. “The economic crisis in Iran isn’t affecting Iranian policy but Hamas’ financial crisis is likely to force the group to give in to Iran’s orders.”
“Iran needs a Sunni player at its side that is openly present in its axis. Hamas can fulfill this role and the Iranians are focusing their efforts on it. They don’t really need Hamas’ rockets, they don’t need a few dozen Hamas fighters, they need Sunni legitimization that Hamas can give Iran and its allies in Syria,” concluded the source.
Palestinian security forces uncover 12 roadside bombs in West Bank
Palestinian security forces on Saturday uncovered and dismantled at least 12 roadside bombs on a road connecting two Palestinian villages near the city of Tulkarem in the West Bank.
A Palestinian driver noticed suspicious objects on the road, located in the West Bank’s Area A which is under full security control of the Palestinian Authority, and alerted PA security forces, a source with the security forces told Israeli news site Ynet.
Members of the security forces’ engineering department scrambled to the scene and found 12 improvised explosive devices placed into the road, the source said, each weighing between 20 and 30 kilograms. The source added it appears the bombs were there for some time.
The road is mainly used by Palestinian civilians although Israeli military vehicles have been spotted on it, said the PA source.
UK Parliament Passes Resolution Deeming Hezbollah in Its Entirety a Terrorist Organization
Members of Parliament on Thursday supported a non-binding resolution in the House of Commons to proscribe Hezbollah as a terrorist organization under UK terrorism legislation.
There was widespread support for the move to proscribe the political wing of Hezbollah. Currently, only the military wing is defined as a terrorist organization in UK law. The full text of the resolution said: “This House believes that Hezbollah is a terrorist organisation driven by an antisemitic ideology that seeks the destruction of Israel; notes that Hezbollah declares itself to be one organisation without distinguishable political or military wings; is concerned that the military wing of that organisation is proscribed, but its political wing is not; and calls on the Government to include Hezbollah in its entirety on the list of proscribed organisations.”
During the debate, Labour MP Joan Ryan, who proposed the motion, said: “Hezbollah is a terrorist organisation, driven by antisemitic ideology, which seeks the destruction of Israel. It has wreaked death and destruction throughout the middle east, aiding and abetting the Assad regime’s butchery in Syria and helping to drive Iran’s expansionism throughout the region. It makes no distinction between its political and military wings, and nor should the British Government.”
Iran has fired 23 ballistic missiles since start of 2015 nuclear deal, explosive report shows
Iran has aggressively pursued its ballistic missile program since agreeing to the 2015 nuclear deal, regularly launching nuclear-capable missiles in what critics consider a violation of the spirit of the deal, according to a report obtained by Fox News.
The report shows Iran has fired some 23 missiles since signing the deal, as many as 16 of them nuclear-capable. The controversial deal reached with the Obama administration did not include a ban on missiles, and Iran and European signatories to the agreement stress international inspectors have certified Iran in compliance.
But critics say the robust missile program shows the Islamic republic is bent on intimidating its enemies and preparing for the day when it can do so with the ultimate weapon of mass destruction.
“Out of all the ballistic missiles Iran fired in 2017, only four or five missiles can be considered nuclear-capable. In 2016, Iran fired 10 to 11 missiles than can be considered nuclear-capable,” according to a report by the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. “It is highly likely that the administration’s threat intimidated Tehran, altering its flight-testing calculus.”
The report also cites an Iranian outlet quoting Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as it complained of testing delays over concerns of a potential response by the United States.
American UN Envoy Nikki Haley to Press Iran Missile Threat on Security Council Delegation Visit to Washington
The US ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, is to head a delegation of Security Council diplomats visiting Washington, DC on Monday, as part of a continued push by the Trump administration to emphasize its concerns about Iran’s supply of missiles to proxies in the Middle East.
The US Mission to the UN said on Friday that Haley would lead the diplomats on a tour of the Iranian weaponry supplied to the Shi’a Islamist Houthi militias in Yemen. The weapons were first unveiled in December by the Pentagon at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling, near the nation’s capital.
The diplomats will also hold a lunch meeting with President Donald Trump on Monday, before accompanying National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster to the US Holocaust Memorial Museum’s exhibition on crimes against humanity committed during the war in Syria.
The weapons that the diplomats will view were originally provided to the US by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Saudi-led forces, which back the Yemeni government, have been fighting the Shi’a Houthi movement in Yemen’s civil war, now entering its third year.
“These are Iranian made, these are Iranian sent, and these were Iranian given,” Haley said at the time of the weapons’ unveiling, which included the remains of a Qiam-1 ballistic missile built by the Tehran regime using a North Korean prototype.
Khamenei Orders Transfer of Billions From Rainy Day Fund to Military
Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei ordered that $ 2.5 billion should be transferred from the nation’s reserve fund and to its military, continuing a trend that has been ongoing since the nuclear deal was implemented two years ago, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty/ (RFE/RL) reported Thursday.
The decision to increase the military budget comes in the wake of demonstrations across Iran spurred by economic concerns, especially military spending in conflicts across the Middle East. According to Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, described the demonstrations as being driven “by price hikes but also word of a draft government budget that earmarked major funding for religious institutions and the clerically dominated country’s armed forces.”
Anger against the regime was heightened earlier this month when the government unveiled a golden ship engraved the Koran, prompting criticism on social media for failing to address economic problems while producing an expensive object of art.
A study in June 2016 determined that Iran’s economy would grow at a rate of 4% a year over the next five years driven by the ending of sanctions as part of the nuclear deal. But rather than spending the infusion of billions of dollars into the economy on domestic needs, the money has been going to boost Iran’s military spending, which increased 90% from 2016 to 2017. Last year, Iran’s parliament voted to designate $ 7.4 billion of Iran’s defense budget to the IRGC, marking a 24% increase in spending on the powerful institution.
Anti-Israel Campus Groups Plot to Defame Jewish State Ahead of Holocaust Memorial Day
Anti-Israel campus groups have launched a campaign to defame the Jewish state and compel universities to adopt blacklists of Israel and of American companies that do business in Israel as part of a virulently anti-Semitic campaign known as Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions, or BDS, according to sources monitoring the situation.
As spring semester ramps up at most American universities, a coalition of anti-Israel activists known for denying the Holocaust and promoting anti-Semitic materials is demanding that university endowments and pension systems divest from Israel-linked U.S. companies. They accuse Israel of war crimes, and have condemned the Trump administration’s recent recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
President Donald Trump’s announcement has roiled pro-Palestinian activists and galvanized anti-Israel agents on U.S. college campuses who are working to forward boycott measures and force their student governments to sign off on what observers have described as a series of vulgar, anti-Semitic resolutions.
The effort, which comes ahead of International Holocaust Remembrance Day, is being spearheaded by Students for Justice in Palestine, or SJP, an anti-Israel student organization that has emerged as one of the most prominent promoters of anti-Semitic materials and other efforts targeting Jewish students.
Ohio State Student Government Passes Anti-Israel Boycott Measure
The Undergraduate Student Government at Ohio State University has come under sharp criticism for a rushed, irregular secret ballot vote Wednesday night that rammed through a resolution in support of an anti-Israel boycott.
A six-hour long meeting culminated in a half-hour of rapid-fire amendments to the “Resolution to Establish a Committee to Investigate OSU’s Investments in Companies Complicit in Human Rights Violations.”
As the USG was being expelled from the room at midnight, two secret ballot votes were quickly cast within minutes—the first attempt returned more ballots than senators present—and it was announced that the motion calling for the University Senate to create an ad-hoc committee to review OSU investments in companies complicit in human rights abuses had passed.
USG chair and vice president Sophie Chang refused to state how many senators voted in favor of the motion. (Chang said the official breakdown would be included in the minutes, which will be published on the USG website.)
Max Littman, who served as an alternate senator for an absent representative, called Wednesday’s meeting “one of the most confusing USG sessions I’ve been in.”
“I firmly believe many senators voted without knowing exactly what was stricken, and what was left in at the end of the night,” said Littman. “There was only a few minutes of discussion about each amendment, and I still don’t know what some of them were talking about.”
Exclusive: PayPal closes account of French BDS organization
PayPal closed its account with one of France’s most powerful boycott Israel organizations — The Association France-Palestine Solidarité (AFPS) — The Jerusalem Post learned on Friday.
As part of the Post’s investigative series into funding streams for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) organizations targeting Israel, it contacted PayPal on Tuesday regarding AFPS’s account with the US-owned e-commerce company.
The Post asked: Is the AFPS account with PayPal in violation of France’s anti-discrimination law? Is the AFPS account with PayPal in violation of the company’s anti-hate policy?
France has one of the most robust anti-BDS laws – the Lellouche Law – in Europe that bans discrimination based on national origin. Paul Furia, a spokesman for the French foreign ministry, told the Post that ” I can’t comment specifically on AFPS PayPal account neither speak on behalf of the company to tell you whether or not the account should be cancelled.”
“However, I want to recall that calling to boycott of Israel is indeed illegal in France,” he continued. “Several decisions of the highest criminal court (Cour de Cassation) confirmed that calling to boycott breaks the law and constitutes an ‘[incitement] to discrimination or hate based on national origin or religion.'”
Former U. Maryland Professor Files Federal Discrimination Charge Against College of Education
A former professor at the University of Maryland has filed a federal charge of discrimination against the College of Education, alleging that her termination from the institution was retaliation by her superiors for her extramural pro-Israel advocacy.
Melissa Landa initiated the investigation Tuesday with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, cross-filing with the Maryland Commission on Human Relations, after an internal Title IX investigation completed in November found no evidence that university officials discriminated against Landa on the basis of political affiliation, religion, or national origin.
In her filing, Landa cited a string of incidents running through 2016 and 2017, leading to her termination last summer. She alleged that she was discriminated against based on her religion, political affiliation, and gender identity.
She claimed repeated confrontations erupted across a two-year period with the chair and associate chair department of Teaching and Learning, Policy and Leadership, Francine Hultgren and John O’Flahavan, over Landa’s pro-Israel, anti-boycott activities and her taking time off to observe religious holidays.
How New Orleans Almost Got Duped Into Endorsing BDS
Did you hear the one about the major US city that accidentally endorsed a possible boycott against Israel? On January 11th, the New Orleans City Council passed a resolution that called on the city government to “protect, respect, and fulfill the full range of inherent human rights for all, as set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and numerous other international human rights instruments,” milquetoast and bureaucratic language that made no specific mention of Israel and effectively masked the legislation’s actual intent. The resolution asked the city government to consider “the creation of a process to review direct investments and contracts for inclusion on, or removal from, the City’s list of corporate securities and contractual partners.” This call for a mechanism to end unspecified city investments and contracts was reportedly “drafted by the New Orleans Palestine Solidarity Committee,” according to JTA. On January 26th, the City Council unanimously repealed the resolution, as protesters chanted and sang from an adjacent hallway.
Credit to New Orleans Palestine solidarity activists: It’s impossible to ignore the humor of an entire legislative body being duped into weighing in on a far-away international conflict without their consciously even realizing it. The resolution itself was so remote from the actual intents and beliefs of the New Orleans City Council that the chamber had no apparent idea of what it was really voting for, and reversed itself as soon as the origins and intentions of the resolution were exposed. Getting one over on an entire municipal government for a city of 400,000 people is an impressive accomplishment and reflects a mastery of the democratic process that even a Naftali Bennett fan probably couldn’t help but admire.
On the other hand, this success resulted from a cheap sleight of hand: Again, the City Council didn’t know that they were voting for a stealth Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions-movement (BDS) resolution. With Israel’s economy, foreign trade, and international relations expanding in recent years, the BDS movement has had to satisfy itself with such Potemkin successes of dubious long-term importance. In a time when nearly half of US states have some kind of anti-BDS law on the books, the movement’s victories have been limited to non-binding campus votes, furtive procedural maneuvers, and pressure campaigns aimed at people who are uninvolved with the conflict’s politics or distant from any actual political power .
Melanie Phillips: What’s the problem with the new head of anti-extremism She’s too anti-extremism
The British government has appointed a lead commissioner for the new Commission for Countering Extremism. She is Sara Khan, a British Muslim human rights activist and the chief executive of Inspire, an organisation she founded in 2008 to fight extremism and gender inequality.
The decision to set up this commission followed the Manchester bombing, one of five terror attacks in Britain in 2017. The commission’s remit is to identify and challenge all forms of extremism, advise ministers on anti-extremist policies and promote “pluralistic British values”.
Sara Khan has a track record of promoting social justice and harmony in the face of those who would destroy them. She encourages Muslim integration into British society. She says Muslims should obey the same laws as everyone else and has called for honesty among Muslims about hateful ideologies and intolerant practices amongst their number. Her opposition to the government’s badly flawed counter-extremism bill, meanwhile, showed that she’s no government patsy.
Sara Khan would therefore seem to be an excellent choice to advise the government on countering extremism. Her views couldn’t possibly be considered controversial except by extremists and their apologists.
So what’s the reaction of numerous supposedly moderate British Muslim organisations and individuals? Horror!
The problem seems to be that she has supported the government’s Prevent programme. Prevent is designed to counter Islamic extremism. It would therefore seem somewhat appropriate for the newly designated anti-extremism commissioner to have expressed support for the government’s anti-Islamic extremism programme, no?
No! A number of Muslim organisations are calling for her to be sacked and saying they won’t work with her.
Congratulations to Sara Khan
The chorus of disapproval and contempt which greeted the appointment of Sara Khan as the new Commissioner for Countering Extremism was perhaps, sadly, predictable.
The skewed coverage of her appointment in the mainstream media was really outrageous, and very well covered in this article.
Frustratingly it is of course impossible to express support for this excellent appointment without offering fuel to her opponents, given most of them are unlikely to be any keener on Harry’s Place than they are on Sara Khan. One of her critics for example, noted meaningfully that the appointment had the support of Quilliam, the Henry Jackson Society and the National Secular Society.
Of course some Muslims welcome the appointment, but it’s still genuinely dispiriting to reflect that someone who has always seemed to me measured, reasonable, constructive, very actively opposed to the far right, and very clear in her focus on Islamism, not Islam, should be seen as beyond the pale. (By contrast, while I like Maajid Nawaz, I can at least see why he might put people’s backs up.)
World remembers Holocaust amid signs of rising hatred
Elderly survivors were gathering Saturday at the former Auschwitz death camp and political leaders warned that the Nazi genocide must continue to serve as a warning as the world marked International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
In Warsaw, Poland, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson paid his respects in a solemn ceremony at a memorial to the Jews who died revolting against German forces in the doomed Warsaw Ghetto Uprising of 1943.
Tillerson trailed two uniformed Polish military officers and readjusted a wreath underneath the monument, a hulking structure located in what was once the Warsaw Ghetto.
The head of Warsaw’s Jewish community read a prayer and Tillerson made brief remarks about the importance of not forgetting the horrors of the Holocaust.
“On this occasion it reminds us that we can never, we can never, be indifferent to the face of evil,” Tillerson said.
Trump: We remember the brutal murder of six million Jews
U.S. President Donald Trump on Friday condemned the murder of six million Jews during the Holocaust, in a statement on International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
“Tomorrow marks the 73rd anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the Nazi death and concentration camp in Poland. We take this opportunity to recall the Nazis’ systematic persecution and brutal murder of six million Jewish people. In their death camps and under their inhuman rule, the Nazis also enslaved and killed millions of Slavs, Roma, gays, people with disabilities, priests and religious leaders, and others who courageously opposed their brutal regime,” said Trump.
“Our Nation is indebted to the Holocaust’s survivors. Despite the trauma they carry with them, they continue to educate us by sharing their experiences, strength, wisdom, and generosity of spirit to advance respect for human rights. Although they are aging and their numbers are slowly dwindling, their stories remain with us, giving us the strength to combat intolerance, including anti-Semitism and all other forms of bigotry and discrimination,” he continued.
“Every generation must learn and apply the lessons of the Holocaust to prevent new horrors against humanity from occurring. As I have said: ‘We will stamp out prejudice. We will condemn hatred. We will bear witness, and we will act.’”
“In this spirit, we must join together across our nations and with people of goodwill around the world to eliminate prejudice and promote more just societies. We must remain vigilant to protect the fundamental rights and inherent dignity of every human being,” the president said.
“On International Holocaust Remembrance Day, we acknowledge this dark stain on human history and vow to never let it happen again,” Trump’s statement concluded.
One third of American Holocaust survivors live in poverty, aid group says
One-third of Holocaust survivors in the United States continue to live at or below the poverty line, according to an aid organization.
The Blue Card, which provides financial assistance to survivors, reported the statistic ahead of International Holocaust Remembrance Day on Saturday. Last year, the same proportion of survivors were at or below the poverty line, according to CNN.
The 2018 report also said that 61 percent of the 100,000 survivors in the United States live on less than $ 23,000 a year, or double the poverty line. The median income for individuals in the US was about $ 31,000 in 2016.
Blue Card said it sees requests for aid grow 20 percent annually. Three quarters of the approximately 3,000 survivors the group aids are older than 75, and saw a 10 percent increase this year in aid requests for survivors battling cancer.
“For those senior citizens that survived the atrocities of the Holocaust, many are struggling to make ends meet in the face of a growing number of medical issues, the rising cost of living and challenges navigating the health system,” said Blue Card Executive Director Masha Pearl. “The time to help is now.”
Merkel: Ongoing need to protect Jewish institutions ‘a disgrace’
German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned of rising anti-Semitism in her country on International Holocaust Remembrance Day, calling the need to protect Jewish buildings “a disgrace.”
It is important to remember the millions of Holocaust victims because recently, “anti-Semitism, racism, and the hatred of others are more relevant,” Merkel said in her weekly podcast on Saturday.
She said that schools, which already teach about the country’s Nazi past, need to work harder at that, especially so immigrant students from Arab countries will not “exercise anti-Semitism.”
She called it “incomprehensible and a disgrace that no Jewish institution can exist without police security —whether it is a school, a kindergarten, or a synagogue.”
The chancellor also reaffirmed her support of creating the position of anti-Semitism commissioner in the next German government, if her party can finalize tortuous negotiations to forge a coalition.
The commissioner would be appointed to counter growing hate speech against Jews and Israel in German from both its home-grown far-right and some recent migrants in the Muslim community.
Israeli flags were burned in Berlin in December to protest the US decision to recognise Jerusalem as the Israeli capital.
Like Jeremy Corbyn, UK chief rabbi also didn’t mention Jews in Holocaust remarks
Both the chief rabbi of Britain and the leader of its Labour Party omitted any direct reference to Jewish victims or anti-Semitism from statements they made just ahead of International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis’ address Friday on the BBC was greeted by respectful silence. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s statement, meanwhile, touched off a cascade of condemnations that above all demonstrated again that when it comes to the genocide, context is everything.
Coming at a low point in the relationship between British Jews and the party that used to be their political home, the brouhaha this week ahead of Saturday’s memorial day echoed the controversy that erupted in the United States over last year’s commemoration when President Donald Trump was widely condemned for leaving the Jews out of his Holocaust memorial statement.
Large segments of American Jewry, suspicious of Trump and his “America First” nationalism, were outraged, although even institutions like the Israel Defense Forces have used similar formulations in their official proclamations.
While Corbyn’s statement recalls the “millions who died, the millions displaced and cruel hurt their descendants have suffered,” it does not mention Jews by name.
The Campaign Against Anti-Semitism group called on Corbyn, a left-wing politician who has been accused of tolerating and whitewashing his party’s anti-Semitism problem, to apologize for writing a statement that “outrageously omits Jews and anti-Semitism.”
Polish lawmakers vote to outlaw references to ‘Polish death camps’
The lower house of the Polish parliament approved a bill Friday that proscribes prison time for defaming the Polish nation by using phrases such as “Polish death camps” to refer to the killing sites Nazi Germany operated in occupied Poland during World War II.
The bill passed Friday is a response to cases in recent years of foreign media using “Polish death camps” to describe Auschwitz and other Nazi-run camps.
Many major news organizations are sensitive to the issue and ban the language, but it nonetheless crops up in foreign media and statements by public officials. Former US President Barack Obama used it in 2012, prompting outrage in Poland.
Many Poles fear such phrasing makes some people, especially younger generations, incorrectly conclude that Poles had a role in running the camps.
The legislation calls for prison sentences of up to three years. It still needs approval from Poland’s Senate and president.
PM slams ‘absurd’ Polish bill, says ‘the Holocaust cannot be denied’
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Saturday called for an urgent meeting between Israeli diplomats in Poland and Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki to express his “strong opposition” to a bill passed on Friday by the lower house of the Polish parliament criminalizing statements suggesting Poland was responsible for crimes and atrocities committed by Nazi Germany on its soil during the Holocaust.
In a Hebrew post on social media on Saturday evening, Netanyahu called the Polish bill “absurd” and said “history cannot be re-written.”
“The Holocaust cannot be denied,” Netanyahu wrote, adding that he instructed the Israeli embassy in Poland to “meet tonight with the Polish prime minister to relay my firm stance against this bill.”
The deputy Polish ambassador to Israel was summoned to the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs for talks on Sunday, the ministry said. The Polish ambassador is currently not in the country.
The new bill prescribes prison time for allegedly defaming the “Polish nation” by using phrases such as “Polish death camps” to refer to the killing sites Nazi Germany operated in occupied Poland during World War II. The bill is a response to cases in recent years of foreign media using “Polish death camps” to describe Auschwitz and other Nazi-run camps.
Netanyahu’s statement came on the heels of a heated exchange over the bill between Yesh Atid Chairman Yair Lapid, a member of the Israeli opposition, and the Polish embassy in Israel.
Lapid, the son of a Holocaust survivor, took to Twitter on Saturday to slam the bill, characterizing it as an effort to rewrite history. (h/t Elder of Lobby)
Holocaust hero honored 75 years after dramatic rescue of fellow Jews from Nazis
Seventy-five years after he helped a group of over 1,000 Jews fleeing Italian-occupied France, 98-year-old Jewish-Italian Enzo Cavaglion was honored in his hometown of Cuneo on Sunday.
Cavaglion was presented with the Jewish Rescuers Citation by B’nai Brith World Center-Jerusalem and the Committee to Recognize the Heroism of Jews who Rescued Fellow Jews During the Holocaust at his residence, surrounded by family and friends.
He still lives in the same village from which he helped organize the 1943 rescue effort.
“Enzo was really moved by the award,” said Alan Schneider, director of B’nai Brith World Center-Jerusalem, who attended the presentation.
“He’s 98 years old — frail in body, but his mind is sharp, and it was an opportunity for him to remember those awful days when he assisted these 1,000 Jews who escaped over the Maritime Alps from France into Italy,” Schneider said.
The Jewish Rescuers Citation was established in 2011 to help correct the common misconception that Jews didn’t significantly help rescue other Jews during the Holocaust.
At this Holocaust museum, you can speak with holograms of survivors
In an otherwise darkened theater, viewers gasped when they saw what appeared to be a seated 83-year-old man wearing a light green button-down shirt and khaki pants.
Aaron Elster of Chicago seemed to be answering questions about his unbelievable escape from the Sokolov ghetto in Poland as a 10-year-old. Elster was forced to hide in a dark, filthy attic for two years during World War II.
“Why didn’t your sisters run away with you [from the ghetto]?” asked Suri Johnson, 11, of Wisconsin. A docent repeated the question into a microphone.
“It was an impossibility,” Elster responded. “There were hundreds of people guarded by Ukrainian soldiers with rifles… There was no way they could have run. I crawled behind the people on my stomach. They didn’t see me.”
The testimony was remarkable, moving. But Elster wasn’t in the room. Instead the audience was interacting with a holographic image of the Holocaust survivor that was created two years before.
The Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center, located in this suburb about 15 miles north of Chicago, is the first to permanently showcase the New Dimensions in Testimony oral history project, which has created holographic images from extensive interviews of 15 Holocaust survivors shown on rotation. Seven of the survivors are from Chicago.
I Am One of Them – We Remember
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