January 16, 2019

Iran Has Reportedly Been Holding a U.S. Veteran Hostage Since July

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 has been holding a United States veteran hostage since July, according to media reports.

The imprisoned American, 46-year-old Navy veteran Michael White, had been visiting his girlfriend in Iran in July and never returned home. White’s mother, Joanne, told The New York Times that the State Department had told her three weeks prior that her son was being held hostage.

“I’m very worried about his health,” Joanne told CBS News. “He just got over cancer and I’m worried about his condition. It’s very scary to me.”

White had been undergoing chemotherapy and radiation treatment for a neck tumor. He also has asthma.

Ivar Farhadi, a cyberactivist who had been serving in prison at the same time as White, told CBS that “White was suffering psychologically and was being held in a ward with dangerous criminals.”

A State Department official told The New York Times in an email, “We are aware of reports of the detention of a U.S. citizen in Iran. We have no higher priority than the safety and security of U.S. citizens abroad. Due to privacy considerations, we have no additional information to provide at this time.”

White is one of four American hostages currently being held in Iran. According to CBS, sources have told them “that Iran is holding the Americans to try to extract concessions such as those received in a deal reached with President Obama,” an apparent reference to the $1.7 billion the Obama administration sent to Iran in exchange for the release of five American hostages.

Iran Meets with Palestinian Islamic Jihad Leaders

REUTERS/Morteza Nikoubazl//File Photo

The Iranian regime met with leaders of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) terrorist organization in Tehran on Monday, where the PIJ terrorists reportedly bragged about their ability to unleash “thousands of missiles” against Israel.

Iran’s Press TV reported that the meeting included Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and PIJ Secretary General Ziad al-Nakhala. Islamic Jihad reportedly told the Iranian leaders that they and Hamas were in a prime position to launch attacks against Israel.

Iran also reportedly signaled that they and Hezbollah “will support the Palestinians in the next conflict,” indicating “a threat of launching a multi-front war against Israel,” according to the Jerusalem Post.

Khamenei also praised PIJ for what he saw as the weakening of Israel.

“During the previous two wars, the Zionist regime called for truce after 22 days on one occasion and eight days on another, but in the latest confrontation it requested a ceasefire after only 48 hours,” Khamenei said. “This means the Zionist regime has been brought to its knees.”

A senior congressional official told the Washington Free Beacon, “Iran is finding every new way to attack Israel and interfere with America’s efforts to bolster our Israeli allies.”

“One day it’s Hezbollah attack tunnels. Another day it’s drones from Syria,” the official said. “Today it’s apparently Palestinian attack tunnels. The only way this stops is if the U.S. Treasury Department and Congress finally drain them of resources.”

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) tweeted in response that he is leading an effort to crack down on Iran’s finances:

The meeting came after President Trump announced that the United States will be completely withdrawing its forces from Syria.

Q&A: The Iranian Regime Crackdowns on Christians

With the Iranian regime recently arresting 100 Christians in Iran for supposedly proselyting Muslims into Christianity, I had the chance to sit down and chat with Frank Nikabkht, an Iranian American Jewish activist on the status of Christians and other religious minorities still living in Iran. Nikabkht, who heads the L.A.-based Committee for Minority Rights in Iran, discussed the war the Iranian regime’s radical leadership has been undertaking against new converts to Christianity in recent years — as the popularity for the faith has grown among people who are disillusioned with radical Shiite Islam sanctioned by the state.

My 2016 interview with Nikbakht shed light on how the Iranian regime at that time had launched a successful campaign of severely restricting the celebration of Christmas and arrested those operating underground churches. This year he elaborated on how Christian Iranians who were born Christian and did not convert are facing growing persecution at the hands of the Iranian regime.

Jewish Journal: I understand 100 Christians were recently arrested in Iran, what is the current status of Christians in Iran?

Frank Nikabkht: As you may know, Iranian Islamic laws consider Christianity as a tolerated religion and recognize its followers as third class citizens, after Shiite and Sunni Muslims, with limited rights. However, what some may not know is that even this “privilege” is limited to certain ethnic Iranians who happen to be Christians such as Armenians and Assyrians, who have lived in Iran for thousands of years and whose populations have dwindled to about 20 percent since the establishment of the Islamic Republic and its constant pressures and discrimination against minorities. Christianity itself however, as a faith or belief is not accepted from any other Iranian. If a Muslim converts to Christianity, the official punishment — following the Islamic Shari’ah — is death due to apostasy. Dozens of Christian converts or missionaries were assassinated and executed in the early years of the Islamic revolution, while hundreds have been imprisoned and thousands threatened into exile ever since. Executions and assassinations have been rare, in order to  protect the “compassionate image” of the Islamic regime.

JJ: The Iranian regime in recent years has been cracking down on underground churches in Iran where former Muslims have converted to Christianity. How has the regime been able to do this effectively?

FN: According to a recent Iranian Revolutionary Guard affiliated paper, the Iranian authorities have been successful in “penetrating” and demolishing Christian evangelist gatherings by planting undercover agents within them, leading to their imprisonment and disbanding their activities, as if in espionage rings or criminal networks. My research in the past decades had shown that even the few legal Churches available to non-ethnic Christians — mainly attended by Jews and other minorities to Christianity — were forced to have a list of members which would be checked against the people entering those churches by Islamic intelligence ministry agents at the door. Non-ethnic Christians are also intimidated and investigated when going to government offices, to make sure they aren’t Muslim converts to Christianity.

JJ: Why has there been such a strong attraction by younger Muslims to embrace Christianity?

FN: Christians in Iran claim that their numbers have increased to huge numbers. These claims are believable, since millions of young Muslims in Iran have been trying to find alternative beliefs to their harsh imposed Islamist ideology of the ruling Iranian regime. Life has been made difficult for people originally born Christian in Iran. Even the legal and operating Christian cemetery in Eastern Tehran has been shut down for several years, and Christians have reported that they had to go into the adjacent Jewish cemetery and throw their flower bouquets over the walls, just to commemorate their deceased on the other side. Burials are therefore a major problem for non-ethnic Christians.

JJ: Why does the Iranian regime see Christianity and the underground evangelical churches as such a threat to them?

Historically, the gradual elimination of all other religions in lands conquered by Islam, has been a goal. Converting Muslims to another religion is a crime punishable by death according to the existing Iranian laws. At this time, because of mass dissatisfaction with the extremist Muslim clergy in power in Iran, conversion to other religions such as Christianity, Bahaiism and Zoroastrianism, as well as to Sufi sects within Islam, has become common and is turning into a serious matter threatening the monopoly of the Mullahs over people’s deepest convictions.

JJ: Why don’t the major European or Russian leaders who forged the 2015 Iran Deal, and are doing tremendous business with the Iran regime, speak out about the regime’s crack down on Christianity and new Christian converts?

FN: Obviously, human rights violations are not a concern of the European powers, while submission to Islamic laws is a trend even in their own countries. I personally remember however, that during the Clinton presidency, the U.S. State Department, while defending other Iranian minorities, excluded evangelical Christians whom they considered as trouble makers in Islamic countries, from American protection.

JJ: What kind of campaign of awareness would you like to see from the American evangelical community to support the plight of Christians and new Christian converts in Iran?

FN: Spreading the news of Christian persecution is of primary importance. Comparing this inhuman behavior to Western countries’ tolerance of other religions is also very important because the younger generations here might not know about the prevalence of brutal suppression of alternative thinking in Islamic countries.

U.N. Calls Out Iran’s Human Rights Abuses in Resolution

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

A majority of the United Nations General Assembly voted in favor of a resolution that called out the Iranian regime for its various human rights abuses on Monday, by a vote of 84 in favor and 30 against.

The resolution denounces Iran’s “ongoing severe limitations and restrictions on the right to freedom of thought, conscience, religion or belief, restrictions on the establishment of places of worship, attacks against places of worship and burial and other human rights violations, including but not limited to harassment, intimidation, persecution, arbitrary arrests and detention, denial of access to education and incitement to hatred that leads to violence against persons belonging to recognized and unrecognized religious minorities.”

Iran was also condemned for its “alarmingly high” rate of executions – especially over “drug-related crimes – as well as its frequent use of “arbitrary detention.”

Hillel Neuer of U.N. Watch has the breakdown of countries that voted for and against the resolution:

“The death in detention last week of Vahid Sayadi Nasiri, imprisoned for Facebook posts critical of Tehran’s rulers, only underscores the urgent need for the international community to hold Iran accountable for its human rights abuses,” Neuer said in a statement. “Today the world sent a strong message to the fanatical regime, and that must continue.”

Neuer added, “We call upon the international community to use the occasion of this resolution to redouble its condemnation of Iran’s escalating abuse of the human rights of all its citizens, and to demand a change.”

Northern Shield Explainer: Israel’s Operation on the Lebanese Border

Lebanon's Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah speaks via a screen during a protest in Beirut's southern suburbs, Lebanon December 11, 2017. REUTERS/Aziz Taher

On Tuesday morning, Israel woke up to a new reality. The IDF announced that it started an operation on the northern border. The following 5 comments will tell you briefly everything you need to understand about it.

  1. What

Explaining the operation and its goals is simple. Israel identified underground tunnels dug by Hezbollah that penetrate into Israeli territory. Such tunnels could allow Hezbollah to move men and ammunition to launch an attack within Israel. The IDF aims to destroy these tunnels. For years, it gathered intelligence about them, for months, it prepared an operation to damage them. The time has come. Note that (“for now”, IDF spokesman words) the operation is taking place within Israel’s territory.

  1. When

Yesterday, Prime Minister Netanyahu informed Secretary of State Pompeo about the coming operation when they met in Brussels. But the timing is more about meeting certain essential technical objectives before an operation could be launched. Remember that the IDF proved in Gaza, not long ago, that its ability to identify, locate and destroy tunnels is much improved. The developing technology and knowhow enabled the northern operation.

  1. Why

There’s no great mystery with the why. Israel cannot allow attack tunnels to penetrate its territory.

  1. World

There is regional context to the operation. There are changes in Syria, including a Russian attempt to stabilize the state by limiting the action of both Iran and Israel. For Iran, this means less focus on Syria and more on Lebanon. In recent weeks there was a growing wave of Israeli warnings to Lebanon – reminding the government in Beirut of its responsibility to prevent hostile action against Israel from Lebanese territory. Even before these warnings, Prime Minister Netanyahu exposed new sites for building rockets in Lebanon in his speech to the UN Assembly.

Exposing the tunnels will make Israel’s claims (that the Lebanese government does not control its own territory) even more credible. In other words: Israel is losing patience and is signaling to the world (the US, France, Arab countries) that the quiet in Lebanon is misleading.

  1. War

Is this a prelude to war?

The operation is on the Israeli side. This means that Israel does not aim to initiate a war.

Will Hezbollah initiate a war? Will Iran?

For Hezbollah it makes little sense, as war could present Israel with an opportunity to deal with some of the other concerns it has about Lebanon – namely, to deal with Hezbollah projects and assets. For Iran, the calculation is more complicated. The Iranian regime is under pressure and might look for ways to stir the waters, and possibly turn itself from being seen as a problem (Iran destabilizes the region) to being seen as a possible solution (talking to Iran is the only way to stop a war).

Then again, Iran is under pressure and might not want to give its rivals a pretext to strike.

The Road To Middle East Peace Starts with Regime Change in Iran

In recent weeks we have witnessed yet another round of deadly horrific rocket attacks by Hamas terrorists in the Gaza Strip against innocent Israeli civilian cities nearly. A Christian Zionist friend of mine contacted with a sense of hopelessness and worry about Israel’s future security and almost inability to fight back against the Hamas terror group which has embedded itself among Gaza’s innocent civilian population. My response to him was simple…  the ultimate solution to the current wars waged against Israel and moderate Arab countries in the region is the demise of the Iranian regime. The current regime of the ayatollahs is perhaps the largest financier of Hamas, Hezbollah and other terrorist groups targeting Israel and the Arab world today. The regime not only provides billions of dollars in free cash to these terrorists, but also arms them with advanced weaponry and rockets. When this heinous regime is overthrown in Iran today, so will these key terrorist groups be greatly weakened or possibly destroyed forever.

While the current Trump administration and previous U.S. administrations for the last 40 years have refused to carry out a policy of regime change in Iran, the ayatollahs in that country have only strengthened in power. They have continued their nefarious terrorist actions against Israel and the rest of the Arab world. Earlier this year, Sigal Mandelker, the U.S. Treasury under-secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, stated in a speech that Iran provides upwards of $700 million a year to their Shiite terrorist organization Hezbollah, which is based in Southern Lebanon.  Likewise earlier this year, out-going Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Gadi Eizenkot also reported that Iran spends a combined $100 million per year supporting Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad in Gaza.

One is left wondering what would happen to these terrorist groups if the Islamic Republic of Iran no longer existed and billions of dollars would not be funneled to them? No doubt, the Hamas grip of power in Gaza would collapse and their ability to launch rockets into civilian Israeli cities would stop. Perhaps with a weakened Hamas or a Gaza without Hamas, a more moderate Palestinian regime could take control of that area and even negotiate a lasting peace with Israel instead of seeking constant war and destruction? Perhaps Hezbollah would be driven out of their stronghold in Southern Lebanon by moderate Lebanese groups and eventually collapse without the backing of their parent country, Iran.  Perhaps the Shiite terrorists who control parts of Yemen would cease to exist without funding and weapons from the Iranian regime. Even to a mere child, it is obvious that without the money and military backing of the ayatollahs in Iran, a great deal of the terrorism and conflict in the Middle East would significantly be reduced. Therefore in my humble opinion, the road to peace in the Middle East is largely possible if there is regime change in Iran.

A new free, secular, democratically elected government in Iran which is not corrupt and answers to the people of Iran, would perhaps become a beacon of peace in the Middle East instead of a source of instability in the region. Today we hear Iran’s majority young population protesting in the streets of the country chanting “Not Gaza, No Lebanon, My life is only to be sacrificed for Iran”. This proves that Iran’s population has no taste for funding terrorist groups and would prefer to use the country’s oil and gas revenues to improve their own living conditions. Regime change in Iran today could crush the Iranian-back terrorist groups and encourage moderate Arab forces in the region to encourage Palestinians to make a real compromising peace with Israel. Today much of the Arab world’s leaders do not see Israel as their enemy but rather their friend in light of the Iranian regime’s threat to their stability. It seems as if Arab leaders and many Arab intellectuals want some sort of resolution to the conflict with the Palestinians, in an effort to enjoy the economic benefits of trade with a technology powerhouse like Israel. What stands in their way? Iran’s funding of terrorist groups that continue to perpetuate the conflict with Israel.

Many on the political left in America and much of Europe disapprove of regime change in Iran because they believe they can do business with the ayatollahs in Iran and the regime is not a threat to the Middle East. They claim that regime change in Iran is not a path to be taken because “the world” should not interfere with the internal affairs of other countries. Some on the political left and in Europe even claim that regime change in Iran means a violent military overthrow of the ayatollahs in Iran. This is NOT my interpretation of regime change in Iran! The U.S., Europe and the entire free world must bring tremendous economic pressure on the current Iranian regime to expedite its collapse from within. The ayatollahs in their radical revolutionary guard corps must be weakened financially to the point where they have no means to neither operate in Iran against their own population nor fund terrorism in the Middle East. Economic suffocation of the Iranian regime and its thugs will embolden forces of democracy in Iran to internally overthrow their radical Islamic oppressors without any interference from outside governments or sources. Today, the Trump administration refuses to carry out a policy of regime change in Iran. However the administration has rightly taken steps to increase sanctions and economic pressure on the Iranian regime. Yet more of such steps are still needed to push the ayatollahs to brink of collapse financially. Just as the Soviet Union collapsed from within due to dire economic conditions applied to them by America and the West, so too must the radical Islamic Iranian regime collapse from within due to dire economic conditions.

The ultimate overthrow of this radical Islamic regime in Iran is the ONLY path to helping to bring about peace in the Middle East because without the ayatollahs in power in Tehran, their many terrorist proxies in the region cease to exist. Today Iran is a major stumbling block to stability in the Middle East and when it is removed from the equation, the possibilities for Middle East peace and prosperity are endless. The only thing we need now are bold and courageous leaders in America and the western world who are willing to carry out steps that will lead to the ultimate collapse of this Iranian regime.

As An Iranian American, I Support More Sanctions on the Iranian Regime …

Earlier this month the Trump administration announced a new round of heavier economic sanctions on the Iranian regime’s sale of oil and other major exports that generate tremendous revenue for the ayatollahs. This move was long overdue and in my opinion it was an incredible great first step in helping to bring about the final demise of this evil regime.

I was nearly two years old when my family was forced to flee Iran after the Islamic revolution that engulfed that country and America has been my home since then. I love America for offering my family a safe haven and economic opportunities to live better lives in freedom. I have even more love and respect for my fellow Ashkenazi co-religionists who over the decades have not only shown my family kindness but welcomed my Iranian Jewish community into the larger American Jewish society.  However I have had serious disagreements with many of my Ashkenazi friends on the proper foreign policy steps the U.S. must take when it comes with Iran. Sadly many in the Ashkenazi community have never experienced the very deep rooted Shiite Islamic form of anti-Semitism and the pure evil of this radical Islamic regime in Iran firsthand as my Iranian Jewish community have experienced. While I certainly do not speak for all Iranian American Jews, I feel compelled to share why many in my community are so strongly supportive of the new additional sanctions the current Trump administration is imposing on the demonic Iranian regime this month. Just as President Regan so correctly labeled the Soviet Union as an “evil empire” that had to be destroyed, so must we today bring about the destruction of radical evil Iranian empire.

 

AS JEWS WHO WERE FORCED OUT OF IRAN, WE CANNOT FORGET

In 1979 when the revolution was sparked in Iran, we Jews were among the first victims of the new radical Islamic regime’s reign of terror and extreme anti-Semitism. Not only was our community leader, Habib Elghanian executed on false charges of spying for Israel by the radical regime, but the majority of our families were forced to flee the country out of fear for our lives as a result of Elghanian’s killing. The radical Islamic regime of the ayatollahs in Iran labeled us Jews as “najes” or “religiously impure infidels” and immediately enacted horrific laws that essentially turned our community into third class citizens who had to be humiliated because as Jews we were inferior to Muslims. The regime also imprisoned, tortured and even executed many innocent Jews in Iran who had no political ties just for the purpose of forcibly confiscating our properties, businesses and other assets. Sometimes the regime’s thugs threatened our lives and the lives of our loved ones to force us to sell our assets at near bargain prices or to flee the country altogether and abandon our homes and assets. Many of our Jewish families as a result were forced to escape from Iran illegally through border crossings via Pakistan or Turkey where our lives were at risk because we were being smuggled out by common criminals. Essentially our lives were turned upside down when this radical Islamic regime came to power in Iran and uprooted our 2,700 year presence in that country. I beg you to listen to our stories of peril at the hands of this regime and heed our warnings about its diabolic intentions for the entire world!

 

SANCTIONS ARE THE BEST WAY TO AVOID WAR

If left unchecked and uncontrolled, the Iranian regime today will plunge the entire Middle East and eventually the world into massive war or prolonged bloody conflict. As we have so clearly seen, the Iranian regime without sanctions, poured billions of dollars into their hegemonic conflicts in Yemen, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon.  The Iranian regime through proxy terrorist groups has attacked Israel and Saudi Arabia countless times in recent years will money they have earned by selling oil, natural gas and other natural resources. New biting sanctions on the Iranian regime and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard will help cut off or reduce the flow of funds to these forces of evil that are fully funding conflicts throughout the Middle East. Money has been the lifeline of survival for the Iranian regime’s expansionist campaigns in the region. Now with their funds now cut off or reduced with new sanctions, the Middle East and the world will avoid war or major conflicts that were being advanced by the Iranian regime.

 

OBAMA & DEMOCRATS APPEASEMENT POLICY FAILED

After the infamous 2015 “Iran Deal” the Obama administration and European countries signed with the Iranian regime, the ayatollahs and their thugs were given sanctions relief and billions of dollars in cold hard cash for free. Former President Obama, his negotiating team and many Democrats in Congress wrongly thought that appeasing the evil Iranian regime with billions of dollars and new trade deals, would help tone down their anti-Israel rhetoric and curb their appetite for aggression against Israel and the Arab world. These were all false hopes and a failed policy because as soon as sanctions were lifted on the Iranian regime and they were given billions in free cash by Obama, the Iranian regime expanded its hegemonic conquests of Yemen, Iraq, Syria and funneled that cash to its terrorist proxies of Hamas and Hezbollah. Instead of toning down their ambitious actions, the Obama policy of appeasing the Iranian ayatollahs backfired and emboldened them to increase their evil actions in the Middle East. The Iranian regime now has control of parts of Yemen, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon because it was given a lifeline of survival by the Obama administration.

 

THE PEOPLE OF IRAN DESERVE BETTER

For nearly 40 years the innocent freedom-loving people of Iran have been held hostage by this evil nefarious radical Islamic regime. They have been lie to, tortured, raped, imprisoned, gagged from having any freedom and had their entire country’s wealth stolen from them for the purposes of advancing war and terrorism in the Middle East. The thugs of the Iranian regime have made life a living hell for the people of Iran, the majority of who are young and intelligent people that want freedom, democracy and better living standards. Filmmakers, journalists, bloggers, artists, student opposition protestors, labor union leaders and LGBT have been killed, imprisoned and tortured regularly. Iran under the ayatollahs reign of terror has the second highest rate of executions in the world behind China! Instead of funneling billions in petro-dollars into improving the infrastructure of Iran, reducing food shortages, reducing poverty, reducing unemployment, the Iranian regime has only enriched the lives of its own thugs and leadership. Inflation is now in double digits, the cost of living in skyrocketing, there is widespread famine and drought in many parts of Iran because of the Iranian regime has done nothing to improve the situation for the people of the country. Their brutal totalitarian dictatorship has done nothing to better the lives of people in Iran and it’s high time for change in the country’s leadership. Tougher and increased sanctions on the Iranian regime and its brutal thugs will loosen their grip of power in the country and emboldened the average people in Iran to rise up and overthrow their dictatorship. The good people of Iran deserve better lives and freedom–  sanctions are an effective means by which the U.S. and the world can help them achieve that all important goal.

 

SANCTIONS LIKE CHEMOTHERAPY, BOTH NECESSARY TO KILL ANY CANCER

Apologists for the Iranian regime living in America and leftist have been whining about new U.S. sanctions hurting the people of Iran and doing nothing to stop the Iranian regime. These are lies and more lies that they spew! Sanctions have been directed at key players in the Iranian regime’s leadership, the Iranian Revolution Guard Corps, as well as the various front businesses both use to funnel money for their nefarious actions around the world. Sanctions have no doubt a painful impact on the Iranian population, but they are a necessary evil just like chemotherapy is essential to fight and kill off any cancer in the human body. The regime in Iran is without a doubt a demonic cancer feeding off the wealth of that nation and spreading its evil to the rest of the Middle East. Sanctions, just like chemotherapy will cut off or greatly reduce the lifeline for the regime to survive and continue its reign of terror. Without billions of dollars in their pockets, the ayatollahs and their thugs in Iran will have little or no ability to carry out their terrorism in that region or threaten the world with nuclear weapons.

 

MIDDLE EAST PEACE HAS A GREATER CHANCE OF SUCCESS

Any Middle East expert will tell you that the vast majority of terrorism in the Middle East and the perpetuation of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict are largely due to funding coming from the Iranian regime. The Iranian regime every year pours billions of dollars into the pockets of terrorist groups such as Hamas, Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad and other radical Shiite terrorists in Yemen. The Iranian regime also arms these terror groups with expensive arms, weaponry and advanced rockets. If and when the Iranian regime collapses, the lifeline of funding and armaments to these terrorist groups throughout the Middle East will stop. Without funding these terror groups will be forced to disband or will be destroyed militarily. As a result, with Iran and its terror groups out of the picture, more moderate voices for a peace in the region may have a fighting chance to make a peace deal possible between Arabs and Israelis.

 

WE DON’T NEED A SECOND HOLOCAUST FOR THE JEWS!

Many of my Ashkenazi friends on the left are always saying “Never Again” every year during the Holocaust memorial days or when issues of Nazi atrocities arise. I am often baffled at why they remain so silent and do not apply this same motto when it comes to the Iranian regime today? The regime of the ayatollahs in Iran for the last 40 years has constantly called for the annihilation of the Jewish state and its population. This is without a doubt a call for a second genocide against the Jewish people! After six million of our brethren were slaughtered at the hands of the Nazis we cannot and must permit any force on this planet to attempt a second genocide against us. When the Iranian regime’s leadership says it wants to “wipe Israel off the map” or that “Israel is a cancerous tumor that must be removed”, it is very clearly saying it wants a second Holocaust against Jews. This is something we cannot permit and must stand against at all costs. Sanctions will for sure cut off or greatly reduce the Iranian regime’s financial potential for a nuclear weapons war against Israel and the Jewish people.

 

So to you my Ashkenazi brothers and sisters, I implore you to support the current U.S. administration’s policy to crush this Iranian regime through painful economic sanctions. The survival of our people on this planet depends on the current Iranian regime being de-fanged and or to help bring about the regime’s collapse from within due to tremendous crippling economic pressures. Please hear our voices as the Iranian Jews who were first to experience the demonic evil of this Iranian regime and heed our warning before it is too late. This regime in Iran must go and the best way to bring about its expeditious demise is through more economic sanctions. These sanctions will not only protect the Middle East from a catastrophic regional war brought about by the Iranian regime, but will likely permanently cut off the Iranian regime’s ability from trying to wipe Israel and all world Jewry off the face of the earth.

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.

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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.