November 15, 2018

Farrakhan Leads Chants of ‘Death to America,’ ‘Death to Israel’ in Iran

Nation of Islam leader and anti-Semite Louis Farrakhan led chants of “Death to America” and “Death to Israel” while in Iran over the weekend.

Farrakhan was critical of the Trump administration’s re-imposition of sanctions against Iran in a speech at Tehran University, calling it a “big mistake.” He also told Iran, “If you don’t work to end the division inside Iran, you will not survive the sanctions,” with “the division” being a likely reference to the anti-regime protests in Iran.

Toward the end of his speech, Farrakhan began leading chants of “Death to America” and “Death to Israel” in Farsi:

In a meeting with Iranian Expediency Council Secretary Mohsen Rezaei, Farrakhan said, “I understand how the enemies have plotted against the Iranian people and I would like to stay alongside you to stop their plots.”

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach tweeted in response:

Farrakhan also praised the Iranian regime in a 2016 visit to the country, where he said, “I would hope that at this later stage, where you are now coming out from under sanctions—sanctions that were designed by the West to destroy the revolutionary spirit of the Iranian people, and cause the Iranian people to rise up against their government. But thanks to Allah, the people of Iran stood firmly with their leadership. And the sanctions only caused Iran to look deep within itself. And now those sanctions are being lifted, but Iran is stronger, Iran is wiser, Iran is more influential.”

Farrakhan has also praised Iran’s terror proxy, Hezbollah, as “freedom fighters.”

The Nation of Islam leader has connections to various Democrats, most notably Deputy Democratic National Committee (DNC) chairman Rep. Keith Ellison (Minn.), and has been praised by leaders of the Women’s March. The Women’s March had not responded to the Journal’s request for comment at publication time.

UPDATE: The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has published a blog post about Farrakhan’s Iran visit that can be read here.

Iran Engaged in Fake News Campaign on Facebook

Photo from Max Pixel.

Facebook has announced that they have removed several pages, accounts and groups connected to Iran that they say promulgated disinformation of United States politics leading up to the upcoming midterm elections.

Nathaniel Gleicher, Facebook’s head of cybersecurity policy, stated that Facebook has taken down 82 pages, accounts and groups that engaged in “inauthentic behavior,” which included posts “about politically charged topics such as race relations, opposition to the President, and immigration.”

Examples of such posts included a fake Time magazine cover of President Trump that stated, “The worst, most hated president in American history!” as well as a photo of UK Labour Party Leader Jeremy Corbyn attributing the following quote to him: “The idea that somehow or other you can deal with all the problems in the world by banning a religious group from entering the U.S.A. is offensive and absurd.”

While Gleicher said they could tie some of the removed accounts, groups and pages to Iran’s state media, they could not establish a concrete connection between them and the Iranian government.

“Free and fair elections are the heart of every democracy and we’re committed to doing everything we can to prevent misuse of Facebook at this critical time for our country,” Gleicher said.

Ben Nimmo of The Atlantic Research Council’s Digital Lab said that the propaganda disseminated from the Iranian accounts resembled “left-leaning Americans to amplify divisions over politically charged issues in the U.S.” and they followed a similar playbook that the Russians used in the 2016 elections, according to USA Today.

Facebook also removed accounts for spreading Iranian disinformation in August. There was some overlap between those accounts and the ones removed in October.

Report: Iran Ramping Up Missile Shipments to Hezbollah

FILE PHOTO: Iranian President Hassan Rouhani listens during a news conference at the United Nations General Assembly in New York, September 26, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan Mcdermid/File Photo

Iran is ramping up its shipment of missiles to its Shia terror proxy, Hezbollah, according to a new report from Fox News.

The report states that a recent flight from Tehran to Beirut is believed to have provided Hezbollah with a stash of weapons, including a GPS device that converts rockets into precision-guided missiles.

The shipment was provided at one of Hezbollah’s secret sites in Beirut, an issue that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu touched upon in his recent United Nations speech. Netanyahu highlighted Hezbollah’s secret weapon caches as evidence that the Shia terror proxy is using Beirut’s civilians as human shields.

Israel has conducted more than 200 strikes in Syria since 2017 targeting Iran’s shipments to Hezbollah, the report states.

Israel intelligence has been worrying that Hezbollah’s growing arsenal of weaponry could lead to a conflict between the two that would be bloodier than the 2006 Israel-Hezbollah war.

U.S. Rescinds Parts of Two Treaties to Avoid U.N. Court Actions

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and White House national security adviser John Bolton attend the "Global Call to Action on the World Drug Problem" event at the United Nations in New York, U.S., September 24, 2018. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

The Trump administration announced that they had rescinded parts of two treaties on Wednesday, stating that it was necessary to protect their sovereignty from the United Nation’s International Court of Justice (ICJ).

The first treaty was the 1955 Treaty of Amity with Iran, which the ICJ cited as basis for the United States to stop its sanctions on the Iranian regime that hinder humanitarian goods and services from entering the country.

“This is a decision frankly that is 39 years overdue,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told reporters.

Pompeo also argued that Iran was “abusing the ICJ for political and propaganda purposes” and that Iran should utilize its resources for humanitarian efforts rather than funneling it toward terror throughout the Middle East.

“Those are dollars the Iranian leadership is squandering,” Pompeo said. “They could be providing humanitarian assistance to their own people but have chosen a different path.”

White House National Security Adviser John Bolton told reporters on Wednesday that the United States would also be exiting from an amendment to the Vienna Convention, which the Palestinians are using to challenge the United States’ Jerusalem embassy move. He added that the United States will be reviewing other international agreements as well.

“The United States will not sit idly by as baseless politicized claims are brought against us,” Bolton said.

Bolton Tells Reporter That ‘Palestine’ Isn’t A State

U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton answers a question from a reporter about how he refers to Palestine during a news conference in the White House briefing room in Washington, U.S., October 3, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

John Bolton, President Trump’s national security adviser, declared that “Palestine” is not a state in an exchange with a reporter on Wednesday.

The reporter asked Bolton during a press briefing if it was “productive” for him to refer to “Palestine” as a “so-called state.” Bolton interjected that it was “accurate” to call it that.

“It’s not a state now,” Bolton said. “It does not meet the customary international law test of statehood. It doesn’t control defined boundaries. It doesn’t fulfill the normal functions of government.”

Bolton added, “It could become a state, as the president said, but that requires diplomatic negotiations with Israel and others. So calling it the ‘so-called State of Palestine’ defines exactly what it has been, a position the United States government has pursued uniformly since 1988 when the Palestinian Authority declared itself as the State of Palestine.”

Bolton also noted that both Republican and Democrat administrations have been against the United Nations recognizing “Palestine” as a state.

Additionally, Bolton stated that Iran has “pursued a policy of hostility toward the United States:

Iran Launches Missiles Against ISIS in Syria While Threatening U.S. and Israel

FILE PHOTO: Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif attends a meeting of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Foreign Ministers Council in Istanbul, Turkey, December 13, 2017. REUTERS/Arif Hudaverdi Yaman/Pool/File Photo

Iran launched six medium-range ballistic missiles into Syria on Oct. 1 at ISIS targets in what it said was retaliation for their role in a recent attack at a military parade last month in Iran. The missile attack reportedly killed and wounded several militants.

Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh, who heads the Iranian Revolutionary Guard’s aerospace division, told an Iranian news agency, “Terrorists used bullets in Ahvaz. We answered them with missiles.”

The United States said that no members of the U.S.-backed coalition in Syria was harmed in the missile strikes. The missiles were emblazoned with the slogans “Down with USA,” “Down with Israel,” and “Down with House of Saud [Saudi Arabia].”

On Sept. 22, four gunmen opened fire on an Iranian military parade in Ahvaz, resulted in at least 25 dead, eight of whom were members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. Both ISIS and the Ahvaz National Resistance, an anti-government militia, claimed responsibility for the attack.

Iran blamed the United States, Israel and Saudi Arabia for the military parade attack. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that the Oct. 1 missile strikes showed that it was “ridiculous” for Iran to think that Israel was behind the attack.

“The fact that ‘Death to Israel’ was written on the missiles launched at Syria proves everything,” Netanyahu said.

Israel Says IAEA Failed to Act After Being Notified of Iranian Nuclear Site

FILE PHOTO: International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Yukiya Amano waits for the start of a board of governors meeting at the IAEA headquarters in Vienna, Austria June 4, 2018. REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger/File Photo

A senior Israeli official told Israel’s Channel 10 that Israel told the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) about the Iranian nuclear site that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu revealed at the United Nations on Thursday, but the agency failed to act.

The official added that the IAEA had no idea what was going on at the site, and when they didn’t take any action, the Israeli government decided the best course of action was to reveal the site to the public in Netanyahu’s U.N. speech.

“We wanted to wake up the world and pressure the IAEA to act against the suspected facilities in Iran,” the official said.

Israel also told the United States about the nuclear site. The United States joined Israel in calling for the IAEA to investigate the site, although a U.S. intelligence official told Reuters that it was “somewhat misleading” to call it a nuclear site.

“We have known about this facility for some time, and it’s full of file cabinets and paper, not aluminum tubes for centrifuges, and second, so far as anyone knows, there is nothing in it that would allow Iran to break out of the JCPOA [the Iran nuclear deal] any faster than it otherwise could,” the official said.

A different U.S. official said that the facility stored records of Iran’s nuclear program.

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif told an Iranian news agency on Friday that Netanyahu is a “liar who would not stop lying.”

The IAEA has yet to react to Netanyahu’s speech.

In U.N. Speech, Netanyahu Reveals Second Iranian Nuclear Site

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters in New York, U.S., September 27, 2018. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

In his Thursday speech before the United Nations General Assembly, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu revealed another secret Iran nuclear facility as well as proof that Hezbollah’s been using civilians as human shields.

The second site, which Netanyahu provided photographic evidence of, is located in Tehran. The Israeli prime minister stated that since Israel exposed one nuclear site in Tehran in May, Iran has been scrambling to cover-up the existence of the second site:

Now, countries with satellite capabilities may notice some increased activity on Maher Alley in the days and weeks ahead. The people they’ll see scurrying back and forth are Iranian officials desperately trying to finish the job of cleaning up that site. Because, you see, since we raided the atomic archive, they’ve been busy cleaning out the atomic warehouse.

Just last month, they removed 15 kilograms of radioactive material. You know what they did with it? They had 15 kilograms of radioactive material, they had to get it out of the site, so they took it out and they spread it around Tehran in an effort to hide the evidence. The endangered residents of Tehran may want to know that they can get a Geiger counter on Amazon for only $29.99. As of today that’s just 4 million Iranian rials, but we’ll get to that later. I’ll talk about the Iranian economy in a minute. They took this radioactive material and spread it around Tehran.

Now, the Iranian officials cleaning out that site still have a lot of work to do because they’ve had at least, at least 15 ship containers, they’re gigantic, 15 ship containers full of nuclear related equipment and material stored there. Now, since each of those containers can hold 20 tons of material, this means that this site contains as much as 300 tons, 300 tons of nuclear related equipment and material.

Netanyahu added, “The reason Iran didn’t destroy its atomic archive and its atomic warehouse is because it hasn’t abandoned its goal to develop nuclear weapons. In fact, it planned to use both of these sites in a few years when the time would be right to break out to the atom bomb.”

Netanyahu called Yukiya Amano, who heads the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), to investigate the site. Netanyahu proceeded to issue a warning to the regime in Tehran:

Israel knows what you’re doing, and Israel knows where you’re doing it. Israel will never let a regime that calls for our destruction to develop nuclear weapons. Not now, not in 10 years, not ever.

And Israel will do whatever it must do to defend itself against Iran’s aggression. We will continue to act against you in Syria. We will act against you in Lebanon. We will act against you in Iraq. We will act against you whenever and wherever we must act to defend our state and defend our people.

Later in the speech, Netanyahu provided photographic evidence of Hezbollah, Iran’s terror proxy, placing three missile sites nearby the international airport in Beirut, evidence they are “deliberately using the innocent people of Beirut as human shields.”

“I also have a message for Hezbollah today: Israel knows, Israel also knows what you’re doing,” Netanyahu said. “Israel knows where you’re doing it. And Israel will not let you get away with it.”

Additionally, Netanyahu criticized the United Nations for accusing Israel of “apartheid” and “ethnic cleansing” of the Palestinians.

“It’s the same old anti-Semitism with a brand-new face. That’s all it is,” Netanyahu said. ”Once, it was the Jewish people that were slandered and held to a different standard. Today, it’s the Jewish state that is slandered and held to a different standard.”

Netanyahu concluded his speech with a defense of the Jewish state as the sole “vibrant democracy” in a sea of tyranny in the Middle East.

“In Israel, whether you are a Jew or an Arab, a Christian or a Muslim, a Druze or a Bedouin, or anything else, your individual rights are exactly the same, and they will always remain the same,” Netanyahu said. “…In the Middle East, where women are often treated as property, minorities are persecuted, gays are hanged, Israel stands out as a shining example of freedom and progress.”

“Ladies and gentlemen, I could not be more proud to represent my country Israel.”

Read the full transcript of Netanyahu’s speech here.

Trump Speaks to U.N., Slams Iran for Creating ‘Chaos, Death and Disruption’

U.S. President Donald Trump sips Diet Coke from his wine glass after a toast as he sits beside Italy's Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte during a luncheon for world leaders at the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, U.S., September 25, 2018. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

President Trump slammed the Iranian regime for creating “chaos, death and disruption” in his Tuesday speech before the United Nations General Assembly.

Trump began the speech by stating that his “administration has accomplished more than almost any administration in the history of our country,” prompting laughter from the assembly.

“I did not expect that reaction,” Trump responded. “That is OK.”

Trump proceeded to tout his administration’s efforts to stand up “for America and the American people, and we are also standing up for the world”:

We are also standing up for our citizens and for peace- loving people everywhere. We believe that when nations respect the rights of their neighbors and defend the interests of their people, they can better work together to secure the blessings of safety, prosperity, and peace. Each of us here today is the emissary of a distinct culture, a rich history, and a people bound together by ties of memory, tradition, and the values that make our homelands like nowhere else on Earth.

That is why America will always choose independence and cooperation over global governance, and I honor the right of every nation in this room to pursue its own customs, beliefs and traditions. The United States will not tell you how to live, work, or worship. We only ask that you honor our sovereignty in return.

On North Korea, Trump highlighted the dismantling of facilities, releasing of hostages and return of the deceased soldiers as progress, but added that sanctions on North Korea would remain until full denuclearization occurs.

Trump eventually turned to Iran:

Iran’s leaders sew chaos, death and disruption. They do not respect their neighbors, borders, or the sovereign rights of nations. Instead, they plunder the nation’s resources to enrich themselves and to spread mayhem across the Middle East and far beyond. The Iranian people are rightly outraged that their leaders have embezzled billions of dollars from the treasury, seized valuable portions and looted the religious endowments to line their own pockets and to send their proxies to wage war. Iran’s neighbors have paid a heavy toll for the agenda of aggression and expansion.

Trump added that this was why he decided to exit from the Iran nuclear deal and re-impose sanctions on Iran.

We cannot allow the world’s leading sponsor of terrorism to possess the planet’s most dangerous weapons. We cannot allow a regime that chants “Death to America” and threatens Israel with annihilation,” Trumps said. “They cannot possess the means to deliver a nuclear warhead to any city on Earth, we just cannot do it. We ask all nations to isolate Iran’s regime as long as its aggression continues and we ask all nations to support Iran’s people as they struggle to reclaim their religious and righteous destiny.”

Trump also touted the Jerusalem embassy move and leaving the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC).

“I spoke before this body last year and warned that the UN’s Human Rights Council had become a grave embarrassment to this institution,” Trump said. “Shielding egregious human rights abusers while bashing America and its many friends.”

Trump added that the UNHRC had made no effort to reform itself, prompting the United States’ exit from the council until reform occurs.

The president also said that the United States would be holding the U.N. accountable by refusing to “pay more than 25 percent of the U.N. peacekeeping budget.”

Read the full transcript of the speech here.

Iran Blames U.S., Israel for Attack on Military Parade

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani departs after speaking at the Nelson Mandela Peace Summit during the 73rd United Nations General Assembly in New York, U.S., September 24, 2018. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

The Iranian regime is blaming the United States, Israel and Saudi Arabia for an attack on a military parade over the weekend.

On Saturday, four gunmen opened fire on a military parade in Ahvaz, a city in southwest Iran, killing 25 people. At least eight of the deceased were members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, others included a disabled war veteran and a 4-year-old girl, according to the BBC.

Iran’s intelligence ministry announced on Monday that 22 people were arrested in connection to Saturday’s attack; Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Sunday that the attack was levied by a group supported by a Gulf Arab state that is allied with the United States, Israel and Saudi Arabia.

“The small puppet countries in the region are backed by America, and the U.S. is provoking them and giving them the necessary capabilities,” Rouhani said.

Gen. Hossein Salami, the acting commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, said at the funeral for the deceased that the United States, Israel and Saudi Arabia “will face the repercussions.”

We warn all of those behind the story, we will take revenge,” Salami said.

The United States has denied that they were behind the attack.

He [Rouhani] can blame us all he wants,” United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley said on CNN. “The thing he’s got to do is look in the mirror.”

Two groups have claimed responsibility for the attack: ISIS and the Ahvaz National Resistance, an anti-government organization that is aiming for Iran’s Khuzestan province to be its own state.

Pompeo Warns Iran Not to Attack U.S. Through Terror Proxies

Screenshot from YouTube.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned Iran not to attack the United States through its terror proxies in a Sept. 21 interview with CNN.

When asked about Iran and the recent attack on the U.S. embassy in Iraq, Pompeo said Iran has been “the world’s largest state sponsor of terror for quite some time,” pointing to Hezbollah, the Houthis in Yemen and the Shia militias in Iraq as examples of Iranian proxies.

“We have told the Islamic Republic of Iran that using a proxy force to attack an American interest will not prevent us from responding against the prime actor,” Pompeo said. “That is, we will not let Iran get away with using a proxy force to attack an American interest. Iran will be held accountable for those incidents.”

When Pompeo was asked if that using military action against Iran, Pompeo replied, “If they’re responsible for the arming and training of these militias, we’re gonna go to the source.”

Mortars were fired at the U.S. embassy in Baghdad on Sept. 7 and on Sept. 8 rockets were launched at the U.S. consulate in Basra; no damages or injuries were reported in either case. The United States has blamed the attacks on Iranian-backed Shia militias.

State Department: Iran Still Harbors Al-Qaeda Terrorists

FILE PHOTO: A gas flare on an oil production platform in the Soroush oil fields is seen alongside an Iranian flag in the Persian Gulf, Iran, July 25, 2005. REUTERS/Raheb Homavandi/File Photo/File Photo

The State Department noted in its annual Country Reports on Terrorism (CRT) report that Iran is continuing to harbor senior al-Qaeda terrorists and serve as a “core facilitation pipeline” for the terror group’s activities.

The CRT report’s section on Iran mentions this in the section’s concluding paragraph:

Iran remained unwilling to bring to justice senior al-Qa’ida (AQ) members residing in Iran and has refused to publicly identify the members in its custody. Iran has allowed AQ facilitators to operate a core facilitation pipeline through Iran since at least 2009, enabling AQ to move funds and fighters to South Asia and Syria.

According to the Foundation for Defense Democracies’ Long War Journal, several Treasury and State Department reports have said similar things about al-Qaeda and Iran, dating as far back as 2008. But as the Journal has reported, al-Qaeda and Iran’s relationship dates as far as back as 1991, when Iran offered to provide al-Qaeda with as much weaponry, funding and training as it needs.

The Journal also reported, “Iran allowed the 9/11 terrorists to slip through its country and into the United States before the deadly terror attack occurred.”

Long War Journal has described the Iran-al-Qaeda relationship as “curious”:

The two sides have openly fought one another in Syria and Yemen. Iran also detained a number of al Qaeda leaders and family members for years after the 9/11 attacks. This led al Qaeda to agitate for their release. Al Qaeda considers the expansion of Iranian influence throughout the Middle East to be pernicious. And al Qaeda’s leaders regularly frame their Sunni jihad as a counterweight to Iran’s Shiite designs.

Still, unlike the Islamic State, al Qaeda has not conducted a direct terrorist attack inside Iran, as this would cause problems for its facilitators. According to the US government, these same operatives have managed al Qaeda’s “core pipeline” inside Iran for years.

The CRT report also notes that Iran is funding Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP).

The Trump administration has been cracking on down on the Iranian regime of late with sanctions that are causing Iran’s crude oil exports to severely decline.

Netanyahu Warns Hezbollah Will Receive a ‘Crushing Blow’ If They Confront Israel

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu looks out a train window as he participates in a test-run of the new high-speed train between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, near Lod, Israel September 20, 2018. REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah that Israel will crush the terror group if they dare use their missiles against the Jewish state.

Nasrallah said in a Wednesday speech that Israel’s airstrikes in Syria to prevent Hezbollah from obtaining missiles had failed, as the terror group “possesses precision missiles and non-precision and weapons capabilities.”

“If Israel imposes a war on Lebanon, Israel will face a destiny and reality it didn’t expect any day,” Nasrallah said.

Netanyahu responded to Nasrallah on Thursday that those words are “coming from the same man who, after 2006, said that if he knew what the Israeli response would have been to the kidnapping of three of our soldiers, he would have thought twice whether to do it.”

“Today I recommend he think not twice, but 20 times,” Netanyahu said. “Because if he confronts us, he will receive a crushing blow he can’t even imagine.”

Hezbollah’s current missile arsenal is at approximately 130,000, a marked increase from the 15,000 they had during the 2006 Israel-Hezbollah war.

The Iranian terror proxy has also been increasing its cooperation with Lebanon’s military, the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF), which receives funds from the United States.

John Kerry Admits to Meeting Iran Leaders During Trump Presidency

Screenshot from Twitter.

Former Secretary of State John Kerry, who is promoting his new memoir, admitted on Wednesday that he has met with the Iranians multiple times during Donald Trump’s presidency, although he denied that he was doing so to save the Iran nuclear deal.

In May, prior to Trump’s decision to leave the Iran deal, the Journal reported that Kerry met with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif and other foreign leaders to salvage the deal. Kerry told conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt on Wednesday that he met with Zarif a few times.

“I met with him [Zarif] at a conference in Norway,” Kerry said. “I think I saw him in a conference in Munich at the World Economic Forum. So I’ve probably seen him three or four times.”

Hewitt followed up by asking Kerry if he was coaching Zarif on preserving the Iran deal, which Kerry denied.

“You know, that’s not how it works,” Kerry said. “What I have done is tried to elicit from him what Iran might be willing to do in order to change the dynamic in the Middle East for the better. You know, how does one resolve Yemen? What do you do to try to get peace in Syria? I mean, those are the things that really are preoccupying, because those are the impediments to people, to Iran’s ability to convince people that it’s ready to embrace something different.”

Kerry added, “I’ve been very blunt to Foreign Minister Zarif, and told him look, you guys need to recognize that the world does not appreciate what’s happening with missiles, what’s happening with Hezbollah, what’s happening with Yemen. You’re supporting you know, an ongoing struggle there. They say they’re prepared to negotiate and to resolve these issues. But the administration’s taken a very different tack.”

Kerry also said that he thought Trump should have stayed in the Iran deal, arguing that under the deal “you have China, Russia, these other countries with you in the effort to leverage this different behavior from Iran rather than unilaterally pulling out and isolating yourself and making it much more difficult to sit down with any Iranian.”

Later in the day, Kerry was asked by Fox News’ Dana Perino if he told the Iranians to simply hold out until 2020, when Trump could be voted out of office. Kerry replied with a chuckle, “I think everybody in the world is sitting around talking about waiting out President Trump,” but he said that was in regard to other matters, not the Iran deal.

“When I met with the Iranians, the policies of the United States was still to be in the Iran deal because the president had not decided and not pulled out,” Kerry said. “Secondly, every former secretary of state continues to meet with foreign leaders, goes to security conferences, goes around the world. We all do that, and we have conversations with people about the state of affairs in the world in order to understand them. We don’t negotiate. We are not involved in interfering with policy.”

According to the Jerusalem Post, Kerry allegedly told Hussein Agha, who is described as a “close associate” to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, that Abbas should not make any concessions to Trump in a peace agreement until 2020, as Kerry argued that Trump would be out of office by then. Kerry also said he was “seriously considering running for president in 2020,” per the Jerusalem Post report. When CBS News asked Kerry if he was going to run for president in 2020, he didn’t rule it out.

Trump Touts Jerusalem Embassy, Nixing Iran Deal in Rosh Hashanah Call

REUTERS/Leah Millis

President Trump addressed American Jewish leaders in a Rosh Hashanah conference call on Thursday, where he touted his decision to move the United States embassy to Jerusalem as well as to exit from the Iran nuclear deal.

According to a transcript of the call provided by the Times of Israel, Trump said that he has a “personal” connection to the Jewish faith.

“I am the very proud father of a Jewish daughter, Ivanka, and my son-in-law, who I’m very proud of also — I will say that very loudly — Jared [Kushner], and my several Jewish grandchildren, namely three beautiful Jewish grandchildren that I love,” Trump said.

Trump then rattled off moves his administration has made as accomplishments: the Jerusalem embassy, leaving the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) and deporting a former Nazi concentration camp guard.

“We’re also deeply honored to be joined by several Holocaust survivors. It is a true privilege to be graced by your presence,” Trump said. “And it marks the 5,779th in the Jewish calendar, so we renew our pledge to confront anti-Semitism and hatred in all of its forms.”

U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman then provided a brief update on the Jerusalem embassy, highlighting that the second phase of construction would be completed by June 2019 and that the embassy has already become “a major tourist site.”

“I’m there almost every day, and people just pull up their cars to the front of the embassy, they get out, they take pictures,” Friedman said. “I’ve seen some people praying there. I’ve actually seen many people crying there. Many Cabinet members have come to visit. Many members of Congress have come to visit. I urge all of you to please come to visit.”

Legal scholar Alan Dershowitz then asked Trump if he was “optimistic” about forging a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians. Trump said he was, pointing out that the embassy move has now been taken off the table and that zeroing out funding to Palestinian leaders has given the U.S. leverage in a deal.

“I really do believe we’re going to make a deal, Alan,” Trump said. “I hope so. It would be a great thing to do.”

Former Sen. Norm Coleman then asked the president on what the next steps are in regards to Iran after exiting the nuclear deal. Trump responded by saying that exiting the deal has “had a tremendously positive impact”:

I will tell you that if you look at Iran now, when I — if you go a day before I took over — I don’t want to say the same day — the day before I took over as President, Iran — it was not a question of how big and how strong they were; it was a question of when will they take over the entire Middle East. And that probably includes Israel, in the mind of a lot of people.

And if you look at them today, they’re not looking at the Mediterranean any longer. They’re not looking at places that they were going to routinely take over. And I think Israel feels a lot safer than they’ve felt in many, many years.

Iran is fighting for their own survival. They’ve got demonstrations in every city. This is far worse than it was years ago when President Obama could’ve maybe crushed Iran if all they needed was a positive statement — the people that were demonstrating. Well, these demonstrations are larger, but they’re more widespread. They’re all over the country.

So Iran is no longer the same country. I would imagine that they’ll be calling in the not-too-distant future to try and make a deal. If we can make a real deal, we’ll do it. If they don’t call, that’s okay too. Eventually, they’re going to have no choice. But we’ll see what happens.

Read the full transcript of the call here.

New Photos Show Iran Building Missile Factory in Syria

Screenshot from Twitter.

A batch of new satellite photos show that Iran is in the process of building a new missile factory in Syria, at a time when European countries and Iran are attempting to save the Iran nuclear deal.

Here are the photos:

According to the Times of Israel (TOI), the factory is producing surface-to-surface missiles and appears similarly built to Iran’s nuclear and missiles facility in Parchin.

The TOI report goes onto note that Israel has been targeting such Iranian facilities in Syria of late in airstrikes, but this one hasn’t been struck because there is a Russian air defense missile system nearby.

Iran has rebuffed Israel and the United States’ calls to leave Syria; Russia has stated that they are unable to force Iran out of the region.

These photos come as, according to the Washington Free Beacon, European Union (EU) countries recently gave Iran $21 million to counteract the United States’ re-imposed sanctions on Iran after President Trump exited from the Iran nuclear deal.

State Department official Brian Hook told the Free Beacon, “The Iranian people face very real economic pressures caused by their government’s corruption, mismanagement, and deep investment in terrorism and foreign conflicts. The United States and the European Union should be working together instead to find lasting solutions that truly support Iran’s people and end the regime’s threats to regional and global stability.”

Saudi Minister Applauds Israel for Allowing Muslims to Perform Hajj

Screenshot from Twitter.

Saudi Minister of Islamic Affairs Abdullatif Bin Abdulaziz Al-Sheikh praised Israel on August 23 for allowing Muslims to go on their Hajj pilgrimage, stating that it makes the Jewish state better than other Muslim countries.

In a Saudi television clip, Al-Sheikh says, “What has surprised us is that the state of Israel has, from what we know of it, has not banned Muslim pilgrims from coming to the [Saudi] Kingdom to take part in their religious obligation, however, one of the countries, as we know or have been told, has banned pilgrims from visiting the House of Allah.”

“This is a catastrophic fail for anyone who has done this, for no one can be banned from Hajj and no one can be banned for worshipping Allah,” Al-Sheikh continued.

In July 2017, Israel sought to establish direct flights for Israeli Muslims to take from Israel to Saudi Arabia in order to help them with their Hajj pilgrimage, as otherwise they would have had to take a bus for 1,000 miles to make the pilgrimage.

Iran, an enemy of both Saudi Arabia and Israel, is one Muslim country that bans its Muslim citizens of making Hajj. Qatar has reportedly banned Muslims from making Hajj recently, however Qatar disputes that report, claiming that Saudi Arabia is preventing Qataris from the making the pilgrimage. The Saudis responded by accusing Qatar of politicizing the Hajj.

The Hajj is a pilgrimage to Mecca, a religious obligation for Muslims to make at least once in their lives.

Trump Re-imposes Sanctions on Iran

REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/File Photo

President Trump announced on August 6 that he is re-imposing sanctions on Iran following the United States’ exit from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.

The sanctions, which were initially lifted under the deal, center on the auto industry and any instance of Iran buying U.S. dollars. A second round of sanctions will occur in November, focusing on Iran’s oil industry, which is the lifeblood of their economy.

“These are the most biting sanctions ever imposed, and in November they ratchet up to yet another level,” Trump tweeted. “Anyone doing business with Iran will NOT be doing business with the United States. I am asking for WORLD PEACE, nothing less!”

The American Jewish Committee (AJC) praised the sanctions in a statement.

“Iran is the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism,” the statement read. “It has propped up the Syrian regime and participated in crimes against humanity in Syria. It continues to arm Hezbollah and support Hamas. It calls for Israel’s destruction and seeks ways to achieve that goal. It undermines Yemen and threatens our Gulf Arab partners. It plots attacks in Europe. It tramples on the human rights of its own people, beginning with women, LGBTQ individuals, and religious minorities. The list goes on and on.”

The statement concluded by saying, “Iran must know that Washington is determined to send a powerful message that its aggressive, bellicose behavior must change dramatically, or else it faces serious economic consequences. Yesterday’s U.S. decision should make that abundantly clear.”

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani responded to the sanctions by stating that the Iranian regime is open to dialogue with the United States, but only if it agrees to “compensation to the Iranian nation from 1953 until now,” referencing the ouster of Iranian Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh.

However, the European Union (EU) is threatening to sanction businesses that stop conducting business in Iran due to Trump’s sanctions, as the EU is attempting to salvage the Iran deal.

The sanctions come amidst a tenuous time for the Iranian regime that is dealing economic calamity and intensifying protests against the regime.

Trump Offers to Hold Talks With Iran

REUTERS/Mary F. Calvert

President Trump signaled a willingness to hold talks with the Iranian regime without preconditions, but Iran has rebuffed the suggestion.

In a joint press conference with Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte on July 30, Trump said, “If they [Iran] want to meet, I’ll meet any time they want.”

“Good for the country, good for them, good for us and good for the world,” Trump said. “No preconditions. If they want to meet, I’ll meet.”

Iranian Foreign Minister Bahram Qasemi, however, said that the regime would not meet with Trump due to the Trump administration’s use of “sanctions and pressure” against the regime. Kamal Kharrazi, who heads Iran’s Strategic Council of Foreign Relations, said that Iran “sees no value” in meeting with the Trump administration.

“Trump should first make up for his withdrawal from the nuclear deal and show that he respects his predecessors’ commitments and international law,” Kharrazi said.

An Israeli diplomatic source told the Times of Israel on July 31 that “senior American officials” told him that despite Trump’s statements, “There is no change in its tough policies toward Iran.”

Buttressing that claim is Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s comment on Trump’s remarks.

“If the Iranians demonstrate a commitment to make fundamental changes in how they treat their own people, reduce their malign behavior, can agree that it’s worthwhile to enter into a nuclear agreement that actually prevents proliferation, then the president said he’s prepared to sit down and have the conversation with them,” Pompeo said in a July 30 interview on CNBC’s “Morning Bell.”

Trump and Iran Trade Barbs Over Twitter

REUTERS/Carlos Barria

President Trump and the Iranian regime have been trading barbs with each other over Twitter, with one warning the other not to a start war.

It began with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani issuing a threat on July 22 to Trump to “not play with the lion’s tail” for his policies against the Iranian regime.

“America should know that peace with Iran is the mother of all peace, and war with Iran is the mother of all wars,” Rouhani said.

This prompted Trump to respond in a July 23 tweet in all caps, “NEVER, EVER THREATEN THE UNITED STATES AGAIN OR YOU WILL SUFFER CONSEQUENCES THE LIKES OF WHICH FEW THROUGHOUT HISTORY HAVE EVER SUFFERED BEFORE. WE ARE NO LONGER A COUNTRY THAT WILL STAND FOR YOUR DEMENTED WORDS OF VIOLENCE & DEATH. BE CAUTIOUS!”

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif responded with a tweet that read, “COLOR US UNIMPRESSED.”

“The world heard even harsher bluster a few months ago,” Zarif tweeted, referring to Trump’s “Fire and Fury” tweet toward North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un. “And Iranians have heard them —albeit more civilized ones—for 40 yrs. We’ve been around for millennia & seen fall of empires, incl our own, which lasted more than the life of some countries. BE CAUTIOUS!”

At a July 24 speech in front of the Veterans for Foreign Wars, Trump said that he’s “ready to make a real deal, not the deal that was by the previous administration” with Iran.

Rob Long: Hollywood Writer Talks Trump

Award-winning Hollywood showrunner Rob Long talks about happiness, craziness and, of course, Donald Trump.

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Check out this episode!

On His Birthday, Ayatollah Khamenei Calls for Israel’s Destruction

REUTERS/Morteza Nikoubazl//File Photo

July 16 was Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s birthday. He celebrated it by calling for Israel’s destruction on Twitter.

Khamenei began the four-tweet thread by stating that the “satanic and vicious” deal that the Trump administration has planned for the Israel-Palestinian conflict “will never happen.”

“The turbulent dream that Al-Quds would be given to the Zionists will never come true,” Khamenei wrote. “The Palestinian nation will stand against it and Muslim nations will back the Palestinian nation, never letting that happen.”

The supreme leader added, “By God’s grace, the Palestinian nation will certainly gain victory over the enemies and will witness the day when the fabricated Zionist regime will be eradicated.”

Such rhetoric is not new for Khamenei; on June 3 he tweeted, “#Israel is a malignant cancerous tumor” that must be “removed and eradicated.”

Khamenei’s tweets come as the Iranian regime is struggling with ongoing protests opposing the regime. The Trump administration re-imposed sanctions on the regime following the United States’ exit from the Iran nuclear deal. The Iranian regime has signaled that they will increase their uranium enrichment if talks falter with the Europeans to save the deal.

Iranian General Blames Israel for Drought

Screenshot from Twitter.

Iranian Brigadier General Gholam Reza Jalali is blaming Israel for Iran’s water shortage, claiming that the Jewish state is stealing clouds from Iran.

Seriously.

According to the Times of Israel, Jalali said in a July 2 press conference, “Israel and another country in the region have joint teams which work to ensure clouds entering Iranian skies are unable to release rain. On top of that, we are facing the issue of cloud and snow theft.”

However, Ahad Vazife, who leads Iran’s meteorological service, acknowledged the obvious reality that “it is not possible for a country to steal snow or clouds.”

“Iran has suffered a prolonged drought, and this is a global trend that does not apply only to Iran,” Vazife said. “Raising such questions not only does not solve any of our problems, but will deter us from finding the right solutions.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has previously offered to share Israeli technology with Iran to alleviate the water shortage. He blamed the Iranian regime for depriving its people of much-needed water.

Meanwhile, the Iranian regime has been struggling to deal with ongoing protests stemming from the dearth of water and an ailing economy. The U.S. and Israel are working to capitalize on the protests and strongarming the regime in Tehran into reining in its nuclear capabilities.

Report: Obama Admin Gave Iran License to U.S. Financial System

REUTERS/Hassan Abdallah/File Photo

A new investigation conducted by the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations has found that the Obama administration granted a permit that gave the Iranian regime access to the United States financial system.

According to the Associated Press (AP), Iran yearned to convert $5.7 million held up in an Omani bank to dollars and then to euros. They were also complaining that despite the lifting of sanctions under the Iran deal, there were still enough sanctions on the regime that discouraged investment in the country.

The Obama administration had promised that Iran would never have access to the U.S. financial system, so they quietly gave a license that allowed Iran to use two American banks to convert that money.

However, the banks declined to participate out of fear that doing so would harm their reputations.

“Issuing the license was not illegal,” the report states. “Still, it went above and beyond what the Obama administration was required to do under the terms of the nuclear agreement, in which the U.S. and world powers gave Iran billions of dollars in sanctions relief in exchange for curbing its nuclear program.”

Former Obama administration officials argued to the AP that the move “adhered to the spirt of the deal” and that the license did not necessarily grant Iran access to the entire U.S. financial system.

However, Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) told the AP, “The Obama administration misled the American people and Congress because they were desperate to get a deal with Iran.”

The AP report is the latest controversy to stem from the Iran deal; others include reports that the Obama administration inhibited law enforcement’s efforts to crack down on Hezbollah, Iran’s terror proxy, in order to achieve their desired deal and the administration gave pallets of cash to the regime in exchange for hostages.

President Trump announced in May that the U.S. would be exiting from the deal. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s Supreme Leader, recently announced that Iran has completed a new enrichment centrifuge.

Ayatollah Khamenei Tweets That Israel Is A ‘Cancerous Tumor.’ Israel Claps Back

REUTERS/Morteza Nikoubazl/File Photo

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei called Israel a “cancerous tumor” on Twitter, prompting Israel to clap back with a gif from “Mean Girls.”

On June 3, Khamenei tweeted, “Our stance against Israel is the same stance we have always taken. #Israel is a malignant cancerous tumor in the West Asian region that has to be removed and eradicated: it is possible and it will happen.”

The Israeli embassy in the United States responded with only this:

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also addressed Khamenei’s tweet.

“Just yesterday, Iran’s leader said again that Israel is a cancer that has to be and will be eradicated,” Netanyahu said. “It’s amazing that in the 21st century, somebody talks about destroying Israel. It means destroying another six million plus Jews. This is what we face.”

Khamenei’s tweet was issued in response to the violence ongoing at the Gaza border, where a well-known female medic was shot and killed by Israeli gunfire. The IDF is investigating the matter.

Netanyahu Hammers Iranian Regime for Inhibiting Country’s Silicon Valley Potential

Heidi Levine/Pool via REUTERS

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu released a new video on May 31 criticizing the Iranian regime for inhibiting the country’s Silicon Valley-esque potential.

Netanyahu began his video by declaring that the Iranian people are “among the most gifted and successful people in the world.”

“In Silicon Valley, entrepreneurs of Iranian heritage are among the founders and CEOs of Uber, Ebay, Dropbox, and many other outstanding companies,” Netanyahu said.

And yet, Iran is an impoverished nation thanks to the regime in Tehran.

“Iran’s dictators plunder the country’s wealth. Isn’t it a shame that Iran doesn’t invest in its people?” Netanyahu said. “Instead, they divert tens of billions of dollars to their nuclear program, to the spread of terror around the world, to their aggression throughout the Middle East. Meanwhile, the Iranian people are the ones that suffer.”

Netanyahu concluded the video by stating that hopes that the day will come where the Iranian people “don’t need to go there to build the most successful companies in the world.”

“Imagine Iranian and Israeli entrepreneurs working together, in Iran and Israel, for the betterment of all humanity,” Netanyahu said. “That’s my hope. That is my vision. And that can be our future.”

The full video can be seen below:

H/T: Times of Israel

Pompeo Threatens Iran With Harsher Sanctions

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo delivers remarks on the Trump administration's Iran policy at the Heritage Foundation in Washington, U.S. May 21, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo threatened the Iranian regime with harsher sanctions should they fail to comply with the United States’ set of demands.

In a speech at The Heritage Foundation, Pompeo explained that they were going to call on Iran to end their ballistic missile program, allow the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to have access to all of their nuclear developments sites and end their support of terrorists like Hezbollah and the Houthi rebels in Yemen.

Should Iran fail to acquiesce to these demands, they will face additional sanctions.

“Iran will be forced to make a choice: either fight to keep its economy off life support at home or keep squandering precious wealth on fights abroad,” Pompeo said. “It will not have the resources to do both.”

Pompeo also warned Iran that they would face “bigger problems” if they restart their nuclear program and made it clear that the U.S. would not accept Iranian aggression in the Middle East.

“We will ensure freedom of navigation on the waters in the region,” Pompeo declared. “We will work to prevent and counteract any Iranian malign cyber activity. We will track down Iranian operatives and their Hezbollah proxies operating around the world and crush them.”

Pompeo told the Iranian people that the U.S. stands with them.

“Is this what you want your country to be known for? For being a co-conspirator with Hezbollah, Hamas, the Taliban, and Al Qaeda?” Pompeo said. “The United States believes you deserve better.”

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani was not pleased with Pompeo’s speech.

“Who are you to decide for Iran and the world? The world today does not accept America to decide for the world, as countries are independent… that era is over…” Rouhani told Iranian state media. “We will continue our path with the support of our nation.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, on the other hand, praised Pompeo’s speech at an event celebrating Paraguay moving their embassy to Jerusalem.

“No enrichment, tough sanctions and Iran should get out of Syria,” Netanyahu said. “We believe that it’s only policy that can ultimately guarantee peace. We call on all countries to follow America’s lead here.”

Letters to the Editor: Reviving Judaism, Middle East and Diaspora

Reviving Judaism

For 30-plus years, the Conservative movement has not seriously addressed why younger Jews have left this branch and its philosophy.

As writer Steven Windmueller assesses the situation, one of his ways is to build from the bottom (“Reinventing Liberal Judaism,” May 11). I did this in the Philadelphia area 30 years ago, but the elders did not support it.

In less than nine months, we grew a 30-ish crowd from 10 to 60, including their families.

This is the only way to introduce Judaism to those who resist and to listen to the younger population so that the institution provides for their needs.

Baby boomers must give way to the needs of the millennials or Conservative Judaism will not be viable in the near future (10 years).

Warren J. Potash, Moorpark


Insight Into Torah Portion

I would like to thank the Journal for publishing Rabbi Jonathan Sacks’ Table for Five commentary in the Journal’s May 11 issue. It provides deep insight into the parsha. However, the rabbi goes much further, enunciating simply and clearly God’s role and rights as the creator of the universe and in consequence, linking core principles of Judaism to these rights. It is, for me, an unforgettable “teaching moment,” beautiful in its simplicity, clarity and importance.

Hopefully, the Journal will provide more of Sacks’ commentaries and insights in the future. Table for Five is one avenue to accomplish this, but I am sure the Journal has others. We need them.

Edward Gomperts, Glendale


Complex Issues in the Mideast

I read the May 4 edition of the Jewish Journal with great interest. As a non-Jew, I was happy to read the Leon Wieseltier view that “the merit of a view owes nothing to the biography of the individual who holds it” (“Should American Jews Criticize Israel?”).

So here goes. I read in Rick Richman’s story (“The Second and Third Israeli Miracles”) that the Palestinian Arabs have rejected six offers of a state. My question is: How many of these offers would have stopped settlement in the West Bank and dismantled the settlements and removed the settlers?

And the other question: Suppose California were occupied by, say, Mexicans. How many Californians would have supported the “offer of a state” that would leave more than half a million Mexican settlers in hilltop strongholds and withheld a slew of powers over the economy, security and policing?

Christopher Ward via email

When Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu revealed Iranian duplicity with respect to Iran’s nuclear program, he was preaching to the converted. This is much ado about nothing, since the P5+1 took Iranian mendacity into strict account when fashioning the inspection regime that is part of the Iran nuclear deal.

The nuclear agreement with Iran that slows its development of atomic weapons is a bad accord for many reasons. President Donald Trump is right to force the issue now. He does not need a primer on Iran and its penchant for lying. The president has decided it is better to scrap the agreement altogether and re-impose sanctions, or try to amend the agreement as our allies prefer.

Brian J. Goldenfeld, Woodland Hills

I would strongly encourage journalists to emulate the unflinchingly centrist style of Michael Berenbaum’s recent column (“Pity Mahmoud Abbas,” May 11). Most who criticize the Israeli government’s approach to the conflict with Palestinians tend to forget or ignore just how awful and intransigently anti-Semitic the leadership is on the other side. And most who decry the wrongs of Abbas or other Palestinian leaders tend to forget or ignore the suffering of the very people they lead.

If only we could stop being so one-sided in our rhetoric and attitudes, we might lessen the number of people so brainwashed by the “left” that they forsake the need to defend Israel from her truest enemies, or so brainwashed by the “right” that they forsake the need to prevent Israel from emulating said enemies.

Michael Feldman, Los Angeles

I am very confused. It feels like if I support Israel’s existence, then I am supposed to be pro-current administration (i.e., President Donald Trump), which I definitely am not! But if I support peace and freedom for everyone in the Middle East, I am supposed to do that by opposing the “occupation” of the West Bank and by supporting activities and groups that all lead to Hamas — a group defined as working to destroy the Jewish state.

All my left-wing friends support “anti-Zionism,” which translates to pro-Hamas, but they insist that they like Jews and will defend the rights of Jews. My right-wing friends (yes, I have some) support the idea of a Jewish homeland but they support many other things that I find odious.

Strange bedfellows, no? I want to find a place in the middle. I think maybe we should move the homeland to Antarctica but someone will surely accuse us of oppressing the penguins.

Lynne Bronstein, Van Nuys

Notwithstanding his fighting words in a recent mosque sermon that Tel Aviv and Haifa will be totally destroyed by the Islamic Republic of Iran, Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami should sit down and shut up. Israel’s air force did serious damage to Iranian military installations in Syria last week in retaliation for Iran’s Revolutionary Guard assault, seemingly launched against the advice of Russia and their Syrian hosts, when it fired 20 rockets at Israel.

Sadly, the murderous threats emanating from imams in mosques all over the world, that Israel/America/Jews must be destroyed, have a “blowback” effect in making Muslims who are innocent of such hatred look like extremists. One might hope that the moderates would be able to suppress those imams who preach hatred from their pulpits.

Maybe they’re too afraid, or worse, maybe they don’t want to. It’s difficult to know which, but also easy to feel compelled to defend against vile religious leaders who can’t seem to be shut down by those who wail about Islamophobia.

Desmond Tuck, San Mateo


Less Shouting, More Listening

I read on the Journal website “Pro-Palestinian Protesters Attempt to Shut Down Israeli Speakers and Fail” by Aaron Bandler, and I agree totally with the reporter. I believe that the Palestinians’ chanting was unacceptable. I think it was great of UC Irvine’s Students Supporting Israel to point out that they would show their perspective and not keep silent. Also, they said that they will continue to make the voices of the pro-Israeli students heard. That shows peace, not hate, which is what the world needs.

Eliyaou Eshaghian, Tarzana


Israelis in the Diaspora

This is another in a long line of letters disputing wild, unsourced journalistic estimates of Israelis living in the Diaspora, which Danielle Berrin has repeated as “more than 1 million” (“Wandering Israelis,”  April 13).

The most trusted demographic estimate done by Pew Research in 2010 was 230,000 Jewish emigrants from Israel living in other countries, with the most, 110,000 in the U.S. This aligns with my 1982 published estimates for Israeli emigrants in the U.S. and about my estimate of 25,000 living in and around Los Angeles.

Fun fact: Using Berrin’s source data from the Israel Central Bureau of Statistics of about 2.2 million flying abroad in a six-month period, and the U.S. nonimmigrant Israeli entry estimates for roughly the same period, fewer than 1 in 10 Israeli tourist flyers eventually landed in the U.S. As we are all learning, visiting or immigrating to the U.S. is a pain.

While the Los Angeles Israeli community has become much more organized, now raising tens of millions of dollars yearly through the Israeli-American Council (IAC), in the 36 years since a realistic estimate of numbers has been published, I have not found any evidence that the number of Israelis has changed substantially from being about 1/20th of the Los Angeles Jewish community.

Pini Herman, Beverly Grove

(This letter originally appeared in the April 20 edition.)

Berrin responds: Pini Herman asserts that my column includes “wild, unsourced journalistic estimates” regarding the number of Israelis living in the Diaspora. This is untrue. While it is difficult to estimate the exact number of Israelis living in the Diaspora for a variety of reasons, the upward trend is clear. Estimates from Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics, the Israeli Ministry of Immigrant Absorption, the prime minister’s office and a Pew Study suggest the number could be as low 300,000 and as high as 1 million. Just last week, Newsweek reported that from 2006 to 2016, more than 87,000 Israelis became U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents, according to data from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. This is up from 66,000 from the previous decade. For a long time now, rumors of a so-called Israeli “brain drain” have permeated public discourse. In 2011, Foreign Policy ran a story headlined “The Million Missing Israelis.” Last August, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency wondered, “Can Israel bring home its million U.S. expats?” Many of these articles examine the ways the Israeli government has tried to stanch the brain drain by enticing the best and brightest Israelis back home, sometimes through ad campaigns or initiatives like the 2011 I-CORE program, a $360 million initiative to lure Israeli scholars back to Israeli universities. According to Newsweek, “Results were so underwhelming that the program was ended after three years.”

None of these facts is wild or unsourced; we ought to pay attention to the trend suggested by even inexact statistics.


CORRECTIONS

A story about the death of Rabbi Aaron Panken (“Remembering Rabbi Aaron Panken,” May 11) mistakenly reported the date of the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion New York ordination ceremony as May 7, two days after Panken’s death. The ceremony was held May 6, one day after his death.

An item in the May 11 edition of Movers & Shakers incorrectly identified Tanya Waldman as the co-director of Witness Theater: Voices of History. Her name is Talya Waldman. Also, a photo caption accompanying the May 1 Israel Bonds luncheon mistakenly identified Marlene Kreitenberg as Ruth Low.

A headline on a Q-and-A with Rabba Sara Hurwitz failed to include her honorific (“An Orthodox Woman in the Time of #Metoo,” May 11). The Journal regrets the oversight.

White House Urges Qatar to End Support of Iran’s Terror Proxies

President Donald Trump meets with the Emir of Qatar during their bilateral meeting, Sunday, May 21, 2017, at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)

The Trump administration reportedly urged Qatar on May 12 to cease supporting Iran’s terror proxies after email unveiled ties between the two.

The Telegraph is reporting that they have seen emails between Qatari officials and the likes of Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah and Iranian Quds Force leader Qasem Solemani as being warm. Included in these emails are ransom payments from Qatar to Shia militias in Iraq to release members of Qatar’s royal family.

“What these emails show is that a number of senior Qatari government officials have developed cordial relations with senior figures in Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, as well as a number of Iranian-sponsored terrorist organizations,” a senior US security official told the Telegraph. “At a time when the US government is trying to persuade Iran to end its support for terror groups in the Middle East, we do not believe it is helpful that Qatar continues to have ties with such organizations.”

The emails reflect the growing ties between Iran and Qatar, driven by trade relations as Qatar’s relations with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have soured.

The Trump administration calling for Qatar to end such ties is among their latest efforts to put economic pressure on the regime in Tehran after President Trump announced the United States’ exit from the Iran nuclear deal. On May 15, the administration announced that they would be slapping Iran’s central bank with sanctions for being used as a vehicle to funnel funds between Iran’s Revolutionary Guards and Hezbollah.

“It is appalling, but not surprising, that Iran’s senior-most banking official would conspire with the IRGC-QF to facilitate funding of terror groups like Hezbollah, and it undermines any credibility he could claim in protecting the integrity of the institution as a central bank governor,” Treasury Secretary Mnuchin said in a statement.  “The United States will not permit Iran’s increasingly brazen abuse of the international financial system. The global community must remain vigilant against Iran’s deceptive efforts to provide financial support to its terrorist proxies.”

If the Trump administration can find a way to end Qatar’s funding of Iran’s terror proxies as well as its ties with Iran in general, it would help them in cracking down on Iran’s financial support of terrorism.

 

Iranian President Claims He Doesn’t Want ‘New Tensions’ After Getting Decimated by Israel

Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani reportedly doesn’t want “new tensions” after his country’s military bases were decimated by Israel on the evening of May 9.

According to Agence France-Presse (AFP), Rouhani made that statement to German Chancellor Angela Merkel in a phone call. However, the AFP report also notes that Allaeddine Boroujerdi, chairman of Iran’s parliamentary committee on foreign affairs issued a veiled threat toward Israel for “playing a dangerous game.”

Israel fired missiles into Syria after Iran’s Quds Force launched 20 missiles toward Israel, four of which were intercepted by the Iron Dome. No Israeli casualties occurred from Iran’s missiles, but Israel want to send a message that such strikes would not be tolerated.

According to Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, most of Iran’s military sites were destroyed by Israeli’s retaliatory strikes.

“If we get rain, you will get a flood,” Lieberman declared. “We will not let Iran use Syria as a base to attack us from.”

There were reportedly 23 fighters killed in Israel’s strikes against Iran in Syria

The United States, Britain and Germany all condemned Iran for their missile strikes against Israel. The United Nations has called for calm, but has not directly condemned Iran for their missile strikes.

“The international community must not stand idly by while a tyrannical regime attacks a sovereign nation and continues to threaten the very existence of a member-state of the United Nations,” Israeli Ambassador to the U.N. Danny Danon wrote in a letter to U.N. Chief Antonio Guterres.

Regardless of if the international community stands with Israel or not, Rouhani’s words suggest that Iran now understands that it will face the full fire and fury of Israel if they dare attack the Jewish state again.