July 15, 2019

Trump Called Off Iran Strikes

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo stands by in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, U.S., June 20, 2019. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

President Donald Trump announced in a series of tweets on June 21 that he called off strikes against Iran at the last second because he wanted to avoid collateral damage.

Trump explained in the tweets that the Pentagon was “cocked and loaded” to strike Iran, but he decided to back off when he was told that the strikes would result in 150 dead. Trump added that he was “in no hurry” to take military action against Iran since his administration’s sanctions against Iran are crippling the regime.

Trump told NBC’s Chuck Todd that his generals didn’t immediately have the details on collateral damage from the strikes available when he asked for it.

A Trump administration official told Reuters that the strikes would have targeted Iranian radars and missile batteries, among others. The official also said that the administration urged the Iranians in a message through Oman to come to the negotiating table or else face strikes.

Tensions have been escalating between the United States and Iran, as highlighted by the recent attacks against oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman and Iran shooting down an unmanned U.S. drone on Thursday. A senior Republican source on Capitol Hill told CNN, “Historically we have seen what happens when the US issues red lines and then fails to enforce them. Failing to take action could be far more dangerous in the long run.”

Bloomberg national security columnist Eli Lake noted in a June 20 Op-ed that among the U.S.’s options include authorizing strikes against Iranian commanders throughout the Middle East or against Iran’s naval facilities; the U.S. could also engage in cyberwarfare against Iran as a method of deterrence.

American Enterprise Institute scholar Michael Rubin argued that the Iranian regime could be on its last legs given the country’s languishing economy under the sanctions and the regime leaders getting older. The regime is unpopular inside Iran, but Rubin warned that the country’s civilians are “fiercely nationalistic,” which the Trump administration should keep in mind going forward.

“It is essential to maintain the pressure on Iran without playing into the hands of a regime that may want conflict,” Rubin wrote. “Let’s hope President Donald Trump is wise enough to allow his ‘maximum pressure campaign’ to work without giving authorities in Tehran either a diplomatic out or resorting to military force that will backfire in the long-term.”

Trump Admin Tells Congress of Iran, Al-Qaeda Ties

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 Trump administration is briefing members of Congress of the ties between Iran and al-Qaeda, The New York Times reports.

According to the Times, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and members of the Department of Defense are making the claims, arguing that the relationship between Iran and al-Qaeda goes back as far right after the 9/11 terror attacks.

“There is no doubt there is a connection,” Pompeo said in an April congressional hearing. “Period. Full stop.”

Pompeo also alleged in a June 13 press conference that Iran was behind a suicide bombing earlier in the month in Afghanistan that killed four Americans; the Taliban has claimed responsibility for the attack, according to the Times.

The Times report cites various government officials and lawmakers who are skeptical of the Trump administration’s claim and believe that they are laying the foundation for war with Iran under the 2001 authorization use for military force against al-Qaeda in light of escalating tensions between the United States and Iran.

“They are looking to bootstrap an argument to allow the president to do what he likes without coming to Congress, and they feel the 2001 authorization will allow them to go to war with Iran,” Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) told the Times.

In September, the State Department’s annual Country Reports on Terrorism stated that Iran continues to harbor al-Qaeda terrorists and provides “a core facilitation pipeline” for al-Qaeda to utilize. In 2017, CIA documents stated that Iran and al-Qaeda have had a working relationship since 1991, with Iran providing the Sunni terror group with resources to conduct its terrorism, even allowing al-Qaeda to utilize Hezbollah training camps. The documents also stated that Iran allowed the al-Qaeda members behind the 9/11 terror attacks to have safe passage through Iran and into the United States.

Congressional Members Introduce Bill Leveraging Lebanon to Crack Down on Hezbollah

Photo from Wikipedia.

Members of both Houses of Congress introduced a bill on Tuesday that would put pressure on the Lebanese military to curb Hezbollah’s presence in the Middle East.

According to a press release from Sen. Ted Cruz’s (R-Tex.) office, Cruz, along with Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-ND) and Reps. Lee Zeldin (R-N.Y.) and Elaine Luria (D-Va.) brought forth the Countering Hezbollah in Lebanon’s Military Act of 2019. Under the bill, the Lebanese government has to prove that the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) are cracking down on Hezbollah, or else 20 percent of United States military assistance will be withheld from the Lebanese government.

Cruz said in a statement that the United Nations passed a resolution in 2018 requiring the LAF to disarm Hezbollah, and that the proposed bill is an enforcement mechanism of that resolution.

“It’s time to take the next step and reassess the assistance we provide if Iran continues to exert influence on the LAF directly or through Hezbollah,” Cruz said.

Zeldin similarly said in a statement that “Hezbollah has overwhelming political and military influence in Lebanon that presents an imminent geostrategic threat to Israel.” He added that the United States provides more than $1.7 billion to “the LAF as it reportedly takes resources from this flagrant terrorist organization and Iranian puppet. The United States must fight against Iranian influence and stand with our nation’s greatest ally – Israel.”

Luria also said in a statement, “We should continue to exert pressure on governments that partner with terrorist groups and threaten our ally Israel. Having visited the border of Israel and Lebanon, I recognize the gravity of this situation and I urge Congress to swiftly pass our bill to curb Hezbollah’s presence and impact.”

Retired Lt. Gens. John Bednarek and Richard Natonski argued in a February RealClearDefense Op-ed that Hezbollah has increased its influence over the LAF since the terror group took control of the Lebanese parliament in 2018; Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah has praised the LAF and Lebanese President Michael Aoun praised Hezbollah.

“Perhaps the best example of this relationship came in recent months, amid Israel’s discovery of Hezbollah’s attack tunnels dug in violation of Resolution 1701. Despite being tasked with enforcing this resolution, LAF soldiers aimed their weapons at Israeli units neutralizing the tunnels – not at Hezbollah,” Bednarek and Natonski argued. “The failure of the LAF and U.N. peacekeepers to prevent Hezbollah’s rearmament highlights the challenges Israel will face in the next war on its northern border. Dangerous as the tunnels would be, the main threat is Hezbollah’s rocket and missile arsenal which has advanced by an order of magnitude since the last war – all under the radar of the U.N. and LAF.”

Israel destroyed six of these tunnels; the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon concluded in April that at least three of the tunnels violated the 2006 ceasefire agreement between Hezbollah and Israel.

Education Department Investigating Qatari Funding of Two Universities

Photo from Wikipedia.

The Department of Education (ED) is investigating Qatari and other foreign sources of funding to Georgetown University and Texas A&M University, according to the Associated Press (AP).

The ED sent letters to the aforementioned universities on June 13 alleging that neither university has fully disclosed their funding from Qatar, China, Russia and Saudi Arabia. According to the AP, the Qatar Foundation, a nonprofit with connections to the Qatari government, provided $33 million to Georgetown in 2018 and $6.1 million to Texas A&M in 2018, the entirety of Texas A&M’s foreign funding. Georgetown received $36 million in foreign funding in 2018.

Overall, Georgetown has received more than $415 million in foreign funding since 2012 and Texas A&M has received $285 million since 2014.

The AP report notes that U.S. colleges and universities are required by law to report all foreign sources of funding of $250,000 or more; if Georgetown and Texas A&M did not fully disclose these foreign sources of funding, they “could face legal action and financial penalties,” per the AP.

Both universities told the AP that they are cooperating with the investigation and they take such matters seriously.

Security Studies Group Senior Vice President David Reaboi wrote in the cover story for the Journal’s May 24 issue that Qatar funnels money toward American universities to garner support for the Qatari regime. The Qatar Foundation, which Reaboi describes as being “like Al Jazeera” in how it’s used for the Qataris “to project soft power,” provided “hundreds of millions of dollars” to Georgetown, Texas A&M, Cornell, Northwestern, Carnegie Mellon and Virginia Commonwealth University.

“Qatar’s adventurism greatly imperils the security of Israel as well as the United States,” Reaboi wrote. “The emirate undermines the stability of its Arab neighbors, especially Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates; it promotes Islamists in vulnerable, Western-open societies; and it diplomatically and financially supports violent terrorist groups such as Hamas, al-Qaida and the Taliban.”

Report: 30 Pro-BDS Organizations’ Financial Accounts Closed Over Ties to Terrorism

Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

A new report from the Israeli Ministry of Strategic Affairs revealed that the financial accounts for 30 pro-Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) organizations have been closed since 2017 due to their ties to terrorism.

The Jerusalem Post reports that 10 of these organizations were in the United States and 20 were in Europe. One example was Samidoun, an organization that aims to free Palestinians from Israeli prisons, having their PayPal, Donorbox and Plaid accounts shut down over their reported ties to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) terror group. Al-Haq, a Ramallah-based non-governmental organization (NGO) that claims to be a human rights watchdog on both sides of the Israel-Palestinian conflict, similarly had their credit cards canceled over their reported ties to the PFLP.

Additionally, Interpal, an organization that purportedly provides financial aid to impoverished Palestinians, had myriad credit cards canceled and fundraising accounts shut down due to the organization’s reported ties to Hamas.

“For years, boycott promoters have disguised themselves as ‘human rights activists’, managing to raise tens of millions of euros from Western countries and citizens who thought they were contributing to causes supporting justice and equality,” Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan said in a statement. “Over time though, we have revealed that the supposed ‘human rights’ NGOs are in reality, filled with anti-Semitic operatives with deep ties to terrorist groups fixated on destroying the State of Israel. As a result of our actions, countries and financial institutions are now distancing themselves from these organizations.”

A February report from the Israeli Ministry of Strategic Affairs and a June 2018 Tablet exposé document the various pro-BDS organizations that have ties to terror groups like Hamas, the PFLP and Islamic Jihad.

David Reaboi Discusses Qatar and Terrorism

Photo courtesy of David Reaboi.

David Reaboi, senior vice president of the Security Studies Group, discussed Qatar and terrorism in front of around 50 people at the Beverly Hills Hotel on May 25.

Reaboi spoke after Shabbat morning services were held by the Beverly Hills Jewish Community Synagogue in the Sunset Ballroom, highlighting his cover story in the May 24 edition of the Journal.

“Today there is no more important bankroller of the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas than Qatar,” Reaboi said, adding that Qatar is “savvy when it comes to information warfare” as well as lobbying for favorable policies in Washington, D.C. Reaboi cited the ongoing civil war in Yemen as an example of this.

“We think that Saudi Arabia is indiscriminately bombing schoolchildren in Yemen. What they [the media] don’t tell us is that the Iran-backed Houthi” rebels want their own Hezbollah-like state, Reaboi said, arguing that Qatar supports the Houthis due to Doha’s warm ties with Tehran.

Reaboi said that the Senate’s block on $2 billion in arms sales to Saudi Arabia since April 2018 is an example of Qatar’s effective lobbying in D.C. He argued that “the most pro-Qatar, anti-Saudi politicians come out of South Carolina” due to the establishment of Barzan Aeronautical, a subsidiary of the Qatari-run Barzan Holdings defense industry, in South Carolina in March 2018.

“Suddenly [Senator] Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) goes from being very good on this stuff to being very bad on this stuff,” Reaboi said, adding that even former United States Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley is “terrible” on Qatari issues.

The only Republican senator who is good on matters relating to Qatar is Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.), Reaboi argued, pointing out that Cruz sponsored the Muslim Brotherhood Terrorist Designation Act of 2017.

“He’s got a very good staff and he’s very right on this,” Reaboi said.

He also said that Qatar’s lobbying in D.C. has been “empowered by lobbyists in the Jewish community.” When an audience member asked Reaboi for names during the Question-and-Answer session, Reaboi listed attorney Alan Dershowitz and Zionist Organization of American President Morton Klein as examples. Reaboi added that Dershowitz visited Doha in January 2018, and then “immediately upon his return writes a piece [in The Hill] calling Qatar the ‘Israel of the Middle East.’” Reaboi said Dershowitz’s Op-ed was essentially a “paid advertisement” for Qatar since Dershowitz admitted that he was invited by the Qatari royal family to visit the country.

Another audience member asked Reaboi why Israel sometimes encourages Qatar to give money to Hamas; Reaboi responded that members of the Israeli Foreign Ministry Foreign Ministry argue that Qatar needs to fund Hamas since the implosion of the Gaza Strip would result in bigger problems for Israel, Reaboi said. The problem with this line of thinking, Reaboi said, is that Qatar’s funding of Hamas enables Hamas to fund pro-Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) causes.

He later explained how the media helps promulgate Qatari talking points, citing Nathan Thrall’s March 28 New York Times article about the BDS movement and the Jewish community. Reaboi wrote in his cover story, “Thrall painted a bleak picture of Israeli atrocities and echoed age-old themes of untoward Jewish influence in America’s ‘paper of record.’” Reaboi argued in his speech that the Times never disclosed that Thrall is the director of the International Crisis Group’s (ICG) Arab-Israeli project; stating that the ICG is “40 percent funded by the Qataris.”

Reaboi also pointed out that CNN frequently has on British journalist Mehdi Hasan, a presenter on the Qatari-run Al Jazeera English, to discuss “every possible subject… no one says, “Hey this guy is being paid by the Qatari government.’”

In response to an audience question about the growing political divide in the U.S., Reaboi argued that the Democrats are moving “further and further left” and that “Qatar takes advantage of this” by using Al Jazeera English to discuss “woke” progressive issues while Al Jazeera Arabic does “absurd anti-Israel videos about the Holocaust and the usual crazy stuff… it’s an operation. It’s something that’s thought out.”

Have We Become Numb to Terrorism?

A girl holds candles at a memorial for the victims of Sri Lanka’s serial bomb blasts. Photo by Mohsin Raza/Reuters

Recently, an unimaginable tragedy befell a country and left the world shocked and dumbfounded. How, people demanded, could this have happened? 

We thought about all that was lost. And some took to their phones to reassure their social media circles that our horror couldn’t be captured by a 280-character tweet.

We were worried. We were outraged. And we were selective.

I’m referring to the social media reaction after the fire at Paris’ Notre Dame Cathedral on April 15. Although, come to think of it, there were apparently recent incidents involving churches and hotels in Sri Lanka, too. 

In a digital age when we can no longer gauge friends’ or neighbors’ values and priorities because we might not often see one another, we’ve taken to social media to peek inside the minds of those who share with us the same country, city or, in some cases, the same home or even the same bedroom. What they post, we assume, is what they value. What horrifies them, we reckon, points to a certain order of priorities. 

A cursory scroll through my friends’ recent social media activity highlights that there were those who posted that they were “devastated” over a church fire in Paris but posted no views about the three churches that were destroyed by fires on March 26, April 2 and April 4 in Louisiana. 

And then, there were those who were so enraged by the Louisiana fires that they posted several calls to action every day, but wrote not a word about the April 21 attacks at churches and hotels in Sri Lanka, which, as of press time, had left at least 321 dead and more than 500 injured. 

Sri Lankan officials believe Islamists carried out the attacks from a small, radicalized group called National Thowheeth Jama’ath, with the aid of international terror groups. 

I asked a friend who is well-versed in matters of racism, and who recently had returned from a local cultural equity summit, why more people didn’t express outrage over the Easter Sunday attacks. “To put it bluntly,” he said, “the victims were brown Catholics. Had they been white Catholics who were murdered in European churches on Easter, the world would be singing a different tune.”

All people have priorities, and choose who will receive our praise and our outrage. 

I have deeply-feminist friends who share disturbing stories about misogynists, although they’re more apt to post those stories if the misogynist involved is somehow affiliated with President Donald Trump’s administration. I understand that this is their fight, although I’ve long wished that some of those same friends would share stories about gross violations of women’s rights in Arab countries. 

“When we tune out terror, the perpetrators pay a price because we inevitably begin to normalize what they hope will stand out as new and shocking. Still, our seeming numbness comes at a high price, because once we begin to tune out, we disengage.”

Last month, an outspoken feminist whom I’ve known for over a decade shared my Facebook post about Nasrin Sotoudeh, an Iranian women’s rights attorney who was arrested and sentenced to 38 years in prison and 148 lashes. That seems to be one’s fate in Iran today for defending women who remove their mandatory headscarves in public.

I know people who share stories that disparage Democrats at every turn but ignore any reprehensible behavior on the part of the GOP; friends who conveyed horror after the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting but were silent after the New Zealand mosque shootings; and friends who won’t stop posting pictures of heartbreakingly caged calves, little fuzzy chicks and anything else for which I miserably overpay at the local kosher butcher. Those users are expressing their values and priorities through every picture, statement, video or meme they post. 

I don’t post much about feminist issues, dirty politicians or caged animals; I post about Iran, because as a Jew born in post-revolutionary Iran and redeemed in the United States, Iran ranks high on my list of priorities, as does Israel, anti-Semitism and anything related to which ayatollah has put his foot in his mouth again.

Am I being unfair, ignorant and narrow-minded in defining how much people care about tragic incidents based solely on the metric of what they post? Absolutely. Yet I believe that what people post serves as a metaphoric loudspeaker in the town square, where we ordinarily would have expressed our outrage and demanded change. 

A woman reacts during a mass burial of victims at a cemetery near St. Sebastian Church in Negombo, Sri Lanka.
Photo by Athit Perawongmetha/Reuters

Last week, one would have thought that the world was coming to a fast, fiery end, given all of the horrified posts about Notre Dame. It was indeed a disaster but I wonder if it’s it simply easier to care about French Gothic architecture that reminds someone of their first trip to Paris than wander down a path of human suffering, including images of  grief-stricken mothers throwing themselves over the coffins of their slaughtered children in Sri Lanka. 

In light of such unfathomable pain, a selfie from 2007 in front of Notre Dame is no doubt an easier image to process — for the person posting it and its viewers. If, as terrorism expert Brian Michael Jenkins observed in the 1970s, “terrorism is theater,” some of us have begun to leave the program during intermission, while others don’t even bother to show up at all.

It’s no secret that we’ve become inured to terrorism, and during the past few years, we can thank ISIS (or what was once ISIS) with its seemingly random targeting of innocents and its habit of taking credit for every terror act regardless of actual involvement — for hammering the last nail in the coffin of our numbness.

On Oct. 31, 2017, a 29-year-old man who was inspired by the terror group rammed a rented truck into pedestrians and cyclists along the Hudson River in New York City, killing eight people and injuring 11 others. Officials called it the deadliest terrorist attack in New York City since Sept. 11, 2001.

The day after the attack, Amarnath Amarasingam, a Canadian extremism researcher, and Colin P. Clarke, an adjunct senior political scientist at RAND, wrote an article on Slate.com titled “Terrorism Fatigue,” where they asserted that ISIS had lost its most precious political asset: the ability to terrify. 

“By continually staking claim to big and small terrorist attacks, regardless of target selection or casualty count, ISIS has attempted to instill a sense of omnipresent and unpredictable danger. And in the process, terrorism fatigue may be setting in around the world,” they wrote.

When we tune out terror, the perpetrators pay a price because we inevitably begin to normalize what they hope will stand out as new and shocking. Still, our seeming numbness comes at a high price, because after we begin to tune out, we disengage. Or, as Amarasingam and Clarke observed, we reach a point where terror attacks “make the outrageous seem relatively normal. People become numb to the violence. As the once-shocking violence becomes normalized, they are no longer able to muster the requisite outrage or compassion to respond.”

In his forthcoming book, “The Dark Side of Empathy,” Fritz Breithaupt, director of the Experiential Humanities Lab at Indiana University, argues that the more we empathize with one group or one cause over another, the more we risk becoming polarized and eventually deaf to the voices and needs of others. 

In an April 12 interview with NPR, Breithaupt said, “Sometimes we commit atrocities not out of a failure of empathy but rather as a direct consequence of successful, even overly successful, empathy.”

The problem with empathy, according to Breithaupt, is that it’s an ambiguous “riddle” that can fuel extraordinary good deeds, but also can trigger violence and dysfunction. Even terrorists, he argues, exhibit some form of empathy, because they identify with what they see as the plight of a certain group and often will do whatever it takes to fight on behalf of that group’s perceived suffering. 

“It’s no secret that we’ve become inured to terrorism, and in the past few years we can thank ISIS (or what was once ISIS) with its seemingly random targeting of innocents and its habit of taking credit for every terror act regardless of actual involvement.”

Even when we’re taught to empathize with both sides in a conflict, we still exhibit certain loyalties. In the early 2000s, educators in Northern Ireland attempted to instill empathy in Catholic and Protestant schoolchildren through a curriculum that taught both sides of the conflict. The only problem was that after some time, the children heard both narratives and identified with the one that belonged to them. 

Our response to conflict, including terrorism, is complex and dynamic. Consider, for example, that another danger to our seeming numbness is that it doesn’t merely involve the global realm of unaffected spectators, but it may also have an effect on a state’s security apparatus. 

Two days after the attacks in Sri Lanka, The New York Times reported the country’s security forces “were warned at least 10 days before the bombings that the militant group was planning attacks against churches, but apparently took no action against it, indicating a catastrophic intelligence failure.” 

According to The Wall Street Journal, the U.S. and India warned Sri Lanka of possible Easter attacks weeks before. It will be nearly impossible to prove to what extent, if any, these warnings were not heeded, but that doesn’t mean that this isn’t a question worth asking, and asking again. The theater show of terror and numbness is apparently set to play indefinitely.

I experienced my own form of numbness to the horror in Sri Lanka, mostly because the attacks occurred on the second day of Passover, during which I refrained from the use of phones and computers as I do every Shabbat. By the time I turned on my phone on the night of April 21, I was already half a day late in processing the horror. 

The same thing happened at the Tree of Life Shooting in Pittsburgh last October, which took place over Shabbat. I was devastated by the killing of 11 people, but also frustrated that I was so late to the game and unable to participate in a certain collective shock and sadness. I didn’t want to be the last to know.

In responding to news of horror, terror and death, I wanted to ensure that I still thought, communicated and behaved with the notion that I’m alive.


Tabby Refael is a Los Angeles-based writer.  

U.S. Counterterrorism Coordinator Leading Delegation to Israel

State Department Counterterrorism Coordinator Nathan Sales announcing rewards for the capture of two Hezbollah leaders during a press briefing, Oct. 10, 2017. (Screenshot from C-Span)

JERUSALEM (JTA) — The U.S. Coordinator for Counterrorism will lead a delegation to Jerusalem.

Nathan Sales will arrive in Israel on Tuesday for the annual meeting of the U.S.-Israel Joint Counterterrorism Group, the State Department announced on Monday.

It is the State Department’s longest-running strategic counterterrorism dialogue, the statement said.

“The United States and Israel will discuss the shared terrorist threats facing our two countries, including from Iran and Lebanese Hezbollah, and develop strategies for bolstering collaboration and cooperation in these critical areas,” the statement said.

Meanwhile U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton met on Monday with the head of Israel’s National Security Council, Meir Ben-Shabbat, to discuss their “shared commitment to countering Iranian malign activity & other destabilizing actors in the Middle East and around the world,” Bolton said in a tweet on Sunday.

Bolton visited Israel in January, after President Donald Trump announced the withdrawal of American troops from Syria, to reassure Israel of U.S. support for Israeli strikes on Iranian targets in Syria.

Palestinian Man Shot Dead by Father of Teen He Allegedly Tried to Stab in a Car

Screenshot from Twitter.

JERUSALEM (JTA) — A Palestinian man was shot and killed by the father of a teenage girl he allegedly tried to stab in a car near a West Bank checkpoint where traffic was at a standstill.

The man was brandishing a knife when he pulled open the passenger door of the vehicle on Route 60 near the Hawara checkpoint, south of Nablus, on Wednesday morning. The father was driving his daughter to high school. They are residents of the West Bank settlement of Elon Moreh, according to reports.

The would-be stabber was taken by ambulance to an Israeli hospital, where he was declared dead. He was identified by the Palestinian media as Muhammad Abed al-Fattah, 23, a resident of the northern West Bank district of Salfit.

Who Will Rise Up for Me Against Evildoers; Who Will Stand Up for Me Against Workers of Violence? 

Reflections for Parshat Zachor after the massacre of Muslim worshippers in New Zealand

When I heard of the horrific terror attack in New Zealand, the pain of the Pittsburgh massacre came back to me. I immediately reached out to our friend Mahomad Khan, who joined us for solidarity services in the aftermath of the Pittsburgh Massacre, to express my shock, horror, and condolences. I reached out to the Consul General of Azerbaijan who has formed such as strong bond with the Jewish community. They are both in mourning. Jewish groups across the world have condemned the violence and offered condolences. 

Chief Rabbi Mirvis of the UK expressed it this way, “There can be few acts of greater evil than the massacre of peaceful people at prayer. The attacks in New Zealand were terrorism of the most despicable kind, callously planned & motivated by the scourge of islamophobia. The victims & their families are in our hearts & our prayers.”

I recently spoke in shul about our response to hate and violence against Jews, and while this attack wasn’t physically against Jews, it might have well been against Jews. It could easily have been, as the murderous evildoers behind these killings hate Jews, Muslims, people of color, and anyone else. 

Let’s never forget that God “will not forsake His people, nor will He desert His inheritance.”

God has put battling evil in our hands as a test.

Missiles falling on Tel Aviv, and thank God no one hurt and those responsible held accountable.

More anti-semitic flyers in OC, and more condemnations.

More politicians accusing Jews of dual loyalty and many more people pushing back and calling out the antisemitism.

Attacks and vandalism against Jewish institutions and police and communities in an uproar.

As King David asked, “Who will rise up for me against evildoers; who will stand up for me against workers of violence?”

Dearest friends, God did not go through the trouble of sticking with the Jewish people for 3,500 years for us to abandon God’s ways now. God needs us to be Divine Ambassadors on Earth. God needs us to be his Angels here to help build a world of justice and righteousness. When we fulfill God’s work here, we become earthly Angles.

King David asks, “How long will the wicked, O Lord, how long will the wicked rejoice?” Until righteousness will return to the Earth.

And how can we, small Jewish people that we are have any impact on the world?

We are a “light unto the nations” and we have the capacity to bring light into the darkness of this world. We have the Torah to guide us, and our courage and stiff-necked stubbornness to never give up.

Why is Israel hated more than any other country on earth? Because there is so much holiness there, so much goodness, so much to offer the world.

On the Shabbat after the massacre in Christchurch, we read Parshat Zachor, which describes how Amalek tried to destroy the Jewish people as they travelled through the desert. We re-read this passage every year on the Shabbat Before Purim, because Haman is a descendant of Amalek, and to remind us of the mitzvah to eradicate Amalek’s evil from the world. The terrorists in New Zealand are part of the resurgence of Amalek in the world. 

Don’t give way to fear and hate. Don’t let the evil of Amalek enter our hearts or minds. Act wisely and justly and walk in God’s ways and let us pray that we see an outpouring of goodness within our community radiating out into the world, an end to this spiritual exile, and age of teshuva, redemption and righteousness.


Rabbi Yonah Bookstein is co-founder and spiritual leader of Pico Shul in Los Angeles.

Letter to New Zealand Killer: 31 Million Minutes

Screenshot from Twitter.

I don’t know you, but I hope this letter finds its way to you.

I understand you’re 28 years old. Let’s assume you live another 60 years. There are 1,440 minutes in a day, 10,800 minutes in a week, 525,000 minutes in a year. Over 60 years, that adds up to more than 31 million minutes.

So, while you sit in prison over these next 60 years, you will have a full 31 million minutes to reflect on the 17 minutes of destruction you inflicted on innocent worshippers.

It’s important you use those minutes well. I have a few suggestions.

First, stop thinking about becoming famous. It’s obvious from news reports that you were hoping to generate some attention for yourself with your horrific act. Evidently, you couldn’t find anyone to publish your manifesto or anything else you wrote. So you found some guns and some easy victims and the whole world noticed you.

Those 15 minutes of fame will flame out before you know it. That smile you flashed in the courtroom will be long gone. Very soon, you will be languishing in anonymity and solitude, with 31 million minutes facing you.

Second, as much as you may want it, I won’t address you as part of a group. That would give you too much status, too much cover. You might see yourself as some glorious white supremacist warrior, but I see you simply as a terrorist, and a coward.

A coward can come in any color, ethnicity, nationality or religion. A coward is naked, with no mask or excuse.

A coward can come in any color, ethnicity, nationality or religion. A coward is naked, with no mask or excuse. I won’t refer to your victims as part of a group, either. That may give you a hint of warped justification. The 50 worshippers you are charged with killing, and those who were maimed, were, above all, innocent human beings who were victims of your cowardice.

You knew they were unarmed; you knew they couldn’t fight back. That’s why you’re a coward.

Third, now that we have fame and labels out of the way, I have a suggestion for how you can spend the bulk of your 31 million minutes: Think of the human lives you extinguished.

Think of Haji Daoud Nabi, a 71-year-old man with a noble face who loved to spend time with his grandson. That noble face is no longer.

Think of Khursheed Alam — you killed his brother and the brother’s son. Alam said that losing his brother and nephew was like “cutting your limb off.” Think of all the limbs and organs and hearts you cut off.

Think of Ali, who was praying with his brother and father when you started shooting. The father is now in an induced coma after being shot in the back to protect his sons.

Think of Sayyad Milne, 14 years old, who wanted to be a soccer player when he grew up, but who met your bullets before he had his chance.

Think of Khaled Mustafa, a refugee from the war in Syria, who thought he had found refuge in New Zealand, but who met your bullets in that very refuge.

Think of Hosne Ara, whom you killed while she was frantically looking for her husband, who uses a wheelchair. The husband survived. Now, he also will have plenty of time to reflect on the loss you inflicted on him.

Those 15 minutes of fame will flame out before you know it… Very soon, you will be languishing in anonymity and solitude, with 31 million minutes facing you.

Think of Abdullahi Dirie, age 4, who was worshipping with his father and four brothers when your bullets found him. “You cannot imagine how I feel,” one of his family members said.

Can you begin to imagine how family members feel?

I hope you will be given information on all those who were slain and maimed, as well as those who will never stop grieving.

I hope you will think seriously about each one.

I hope you will look at their photos, hear their stories, remember their names.

Maybe, after a few million minutes of such reflection, or even earlier, you may be moved to release a statement acknowledging that you are a coward who committed a dastardly act, that your heart and soul are irreparably broken, and that you understand if none of the surviving victims and family members can ever forgive you.

That will make you famous again.

Sincerely,

A writer in Los Angeles

Iran, PA Among Those Standing With Embattled Venezuelan President

Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

Iran, the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Hezbollah are among those who are standing with embattled Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro as the United States insists that his presidency is illegitimate.

On Wednesday, Juan Guaido, president of the Venezuelan National Assembly and the opposition leader to Maduro, invoked a constitutional amendment to assume the title of interim president, arguing that Maduro usurped power through an illegitimate election.

“I swear to assume all the powers of the presidency to secure an end to the usurpation,” Guaido said.

Guaido has reportedly been working with the Trump administration on a peaceful method to transition Maduro out of power.

Maduro has indicated that he will not relinquish power, accusing the United States of orchestrating a coup against him. Iran is among those echoing Maduro’s line.

“Iran supports the government and people of Venezuela against any sort of foreign intervention and any illegitimate and illegal action such as attempt to make a coup d’etat,” Iran’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Thursday morning.

The PA’s foreign ministry also announced their solidarity with the Maduro regime:

Hezbollah, Iran’s Shia terrorist group based in Lebanon, did as well:

Russia has been sending war planes to Venezuela as sign of support for Maduro. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo denounced the move in a tweet:

After the U.S. announced that it was recognizing Guaido as the legitimate president of Venezuela, several other countries followed suit, including Canada and Brazil:

The Venezuelan military has announced its support for Maduro, however Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), who has been working with the Trump administration on the matter, is insisting that it is just the generals who are standing with Maduro:

According to the Jewish Policy Center (JPC), Maduro and his predecessor, Hugo Chavez, have a “long history of collaboration with Iran, including sanctions evasion, terror finance, and ideological subversion.”

“During the presidencies of Hugo Chávez and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Caracas was a key facilitator of Tehran’s sanctions-busting efforts,” the JPC report states. “The two regimes established business ventures and financial institutions in Venezuela, which they used to launder Iranian money, procure technology, and bribe senior Venezuelan officials.”

The report adds that Hezbollah has also been working with the Chavez and Maduro regimes, having “used South America as a base” money laundering in order to finance its terror activities.

The JPC went on to explain how Venezuela’s alliance with Iran and Hezbollah stems from the Venezuelan economy being plagued by hyperinflation, prompting the Venezuelan government to turn their worthless currency into counterfeit U.S. dollars through Iran and Hezbollah’s help.

“Suffering from a self-inflicted economic disaster, Venezuela is running out of foreign currency reserves. Turning worthless currency into greenbacks helps address that problem,” the report states. “Hezbollah gets a hefty commission for the job and gains political leverage in Venezuela in exchange for its help. Iran, as the key facilitator of the Venezuela-Hezbollah connection, favors the injection of billions of counterfeit greenbacks into the global economy because such a step is damaging to the U.S. financial system.”

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.

Congress Passes Bill Sanctioning Terror Groups Who Use Civilians As Human Shields

FILE PHOTO: A man holds a Hezbollah flag at Meis al-Jabal village in south Lebanon, December 9, 2018. REUTERS/Aziz Taher/File Photo

Congress passed a bill on Wednesday that would sanction terror groups like Hezbollah for using civilians as human shields.

The bill, titled the Sanctioning the Use of Civilians as Defenseless Shields Act, specifically condemns Hamas and Hezbollah for their use of civilians as human shields.

“Throughout the 2006 conflict with the State of Israel, Hezbollah forces utilized human shields to protect themselves from counterattacks by Israeli forces, including storing weapons inside civilian homes and firing rockets from inside populated civilian areas,” the bill states. “Hezbollah has rearmed to include an arsenal of over 150,000 missiles, and other destabilizing weapons provided by the Syrian and Iranian governments, which are concealed in Shiite villages in southern Lebanon, often beneath civilian infrastructure.”

The bill later adds, “It shall be the policy of the United States to consider the use of human shields by Hezbollah as a gross violation of internationally recognized human rights, to officially and publicly condemn the use of innocent civilians as human shields by Hezbollah, and to take effective action against those that engage in the grave breach of international law through the use of human shields.”

Hamas is also listed as a terror group that will be sanctioned under the bill.

The bill, which passed with bipartisan support, was originally passed by the House of Representatives in October 2017. A year later, the Senate sent back a revised bill back to the House and tacked on some amendments. The final bill passed the House on Thursday.

AIPAC, one of the key groups lobbying for the bill, praised Congress for taking “legislative action against this heinous practice” in a statement.

“The importance of this legislation is underscored by the recent discovery of Hezbollah terror tunnels into Israel that originated under the cover of civilian houses in Lebanon,” AIPAC said. “And just weeks ago – using the cover of civilian populations in Gaza – Hamas fired more than 500 rockets at communities across southern Israel.”

Christians United for Israel (CUFI), which was also involved in lobbying for the bill, also hailed the passage of the bill.

“Those who use human shields are the worst kind of cowards,” CUFI founder and chairman Pastor John Hagee said in a statement. “The practitioners of this monstrous practice hide behind the skirts of women and the bodies of children in order to attack neighboring innocent civilians.”

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) tweeted:

The bill will now be sent to President Trump’s desk.

A Shameful Jewish Silence at the U.N.

“Do not stand idly by” is a popular mantra of Jewish activists who fight injustice. Whether the injustice is genocide in Sudan or child migrants separated from their parents or Israel undermining its democracy, these activists know how to make themselves heard.

But last week, when it came time to condemn terrorism in a high-profile vote, Jewish activists fell largely silent.

There were no online petitions or demonstrations in front of the United Nations in support of a resolution to denounce the terrorist group Hamas. As expected, the General Assembly rejected a U.S.-sponsored resolution that called for an end to violence, encouraged intra-Palestinian reconciliation, and condemned terrorism.

“Over the years, the U.N. has voted to condemn Israel over 500 times . . . and not one single resolution condemning Hamas,” U.S. ambassador Nikki Haley said in response. “That, more than anything else, is a condemnation of the United Nations itself.”

“The United Nations’ sorry record on Israel and terrorism is an issue that should unite the Jews, as well as anyone who cares about justice.”

To add insult to injury, as David May wrote in National Review Online (NRO), “The U.N. indicated that Jews’ praying at the Western Wall is more worthy of condemnation than Hamas’s lobbing rockets indiscriminately at Israeli civilians,” as the General Assembly passed another resolution calling for “an end to ‘Israel’s occupation . . . including of East Jerusalem,’ the location of Judaism’s holiest shrine.”

The fact that the U.N. is a cesspool of anti-Israel sentiment, virtually immune to any activism, is no reason not to protest. When the cause is worth it, Jewish activists have no problem fighting against the odds.

We saw them do just that a few months ago when eight Jewish organizations — T’ruah (the rabbinic call for human rights), the New Israel Fund, J-Street, Ameinu, Americans for Peace Now, the National Council of Jewish Women, Partners for Progressive Israel and the Union for Reform Judaism — rose up to protest Israel’s new Nation-State law.

They published an online “pledge” encouraging people to confront those who voted for the law: “Sixty-two members of Knesset voted to approve the Nation-State Law, which denigrates minorities within Israel, as well as Jews outside of Israel,” the statement read. “Take the pledge to hold these MKs to account for their vote, which threatens democracy and equality in Israel, by demanding answers from them.”

The pledge, which followed months of active protests and public condemnation, provided a list of the MKs and suggested five tough questions for them to answer.

It makes you wonder: Why can’t these warriors of justice do the same against Hamas and the United Nations? If speaking truth to power makes sense for Israel, why doesn’t it make sense for the horribly biased U.N.?

I looked on the websites of the eight Jewish groups that protested the Nation-State law and couldn’t find one statement or press release in support of the anti-terror resolution. Why is that?

“If speaking truth to power makes sense for Israel, why doesn’t it make sense for the horribly biased U.N.?”

If their answer is, “It’s not our mission,” my response is, “Why not?”

After all, Jewish activists take special pride in standing up against discrimination and injustice. If the pathological anti-Israel bias at the U.N. doesn’t qualify as discrimination and injustice, nothing does.

And if the mission is the “search for peace,” anti-Israel bias undermines that goal.

As May writes, “By continuously condemning Israel and encouraging Palestinian maximalist demands, the U.N. harms prospects for peace. It only makes matters worse by giving terrorists such as Hamas a free pass. [The UNGA resolution] was a major test for the United Nations in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, and it failed miserably.”

The U.N. does not deserve a free pass when it appeases terror groups while singling out Israel for special condemnation. If this injustice is a stain on the U.N., it’s also a stain on Jewish activists who stand idly by.

There are so many divisions in the Jewish community when it comes to Israel, we ought to pounce when we find an issue we can all agree on. The United Nations’ sorry record on Israel is an issue that should unite the Jews, as well as anyone who cares about justice.

So, here’s my simple question for Jewish activists who love to pounce on injustice: Why aren’t you pouncing on the U.N.?

Israel, Hamas Reportedly Agree to Truce

Residents of southern Israel protest against their government’s decision to hold fire in Gaza in response to a similar decision by Palestinian militants, in Sderot, Israel November 13, 2018, REUTERS/ Amir Cohen

Israel and Hamas have reportedly agreed to an Egyptian-mediated truce after Hamas launched hundreds of rockets toward southern Israel on Nov. 12.

According to the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), Hamas and Islamic Jihad launched more than 460 rockets into southern Israel, resulting in at least 108 Israelis wounded. Israel with 160 airstrikes against Hamas and Islamic Jihad.

The Times of Israel (TOI) reports that Egypt led the ceasefire talks; Qatar, Norway and the United Nations also contributed.

“Israel maintains its right to act,” a senior Israeli official told TOI. “Requests from Hamas for a ceasefire came through four different mediators. Israel responded that the events on the ground will decide [if a ceasefire will go into effect].”

Hamas hailed the ceasefire as a bulwark against “Zionist aggression.”

“Our rockets have pounded Israel and sent a clear message: Bomb for bomb, blood for blood,” Hamas official Ismail declared. “If you attack Gaza and our people, Hamas rockets will find you everywhere, in Haifa, Jaffa, Ashkelon and Ashdod.”

The ceasefire has been roundly criticized by Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, Education Minister Naftali Bennett, Environmental Protection Minister Ze’ev Elkin and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, as well as the Zionist Union and Yesh Atid parties.

Residents of southern Israel communities are protesting the ceasefire, arguing that the repeated use of ceasefire agreements enable Hamas to continue to launch rockets into their communities.

Petition Calls on UCLA to Cancel NSJP Conference

Photo from Flickr.

A recent petition started by Stop Anti-Semitism website is calling on UCLA to cancel the upcoming National Students for Justice in Palestine (NSJP) on Nov. 16-18 and already has tens of thousands of signatures.

The petition, titled “Help prevent the next Pittsburgh – tell UCLA to cancel SJP’s annual hate conference!”, notes that SJP founder Hatem Bazian has uttered “horrific anti-Semitic and violence-inciting statements,” such as calling for an “intifada” in the United States and that “there are large number of Zionists who were engaged with Nazi Germany.”

The petition also highlighted various anti-Semitic statements from SJP members:

Additionally, the petition points out that SJP has heaped praise upon convicted terrorists Rasmea Odeh and Leila Khaled and has ties to terror groups such as Hamas, Hezbollah and Islamic Jihad.

“Because of SJP’s closed-door policy of not allowing any non-SJP students to attend the Conference, UCLA is essentially allowing SJP to continue spewing their messages of violence, Anti-Semitism, and support of known terrorists,” the petition states.

The petition proceeds to call on UCLA to cancel the conference.

“If not canceled, we call to hold UCLA accountable by investigating it for violation of anti-discrimination laws, its own policies against discrimination as were adopted by the UC Regents, and violation of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, or national origin (including Anti-Semitism) for federally assisted programs and activities!” the petition concludes.

As of publication time, there were more than 16,000 signatures to the petition.

UCLA issued a cease-and-desist letter to NSJP on Wednesday evening to stop using the UCLA Bruin Bear in their logo by Monday, or else the university could shut down the conference.

National SJP to Use UCLA Bruin Playing With Palestinian Kite As Conference Logo

Screenshot from Twitter.

National Students for Justice Palestine (NSJP) unveiled their logo on Oct. 27 for their upcoming conference at UCLA: the UCLA Bruin playing with a Palestinian kite.

Below is the logo, which can be seen on NSJP’s website:

 

 

 

Simon Wiesenthal Center Associate Dean Rabbi Abraham Cooper told the Journal in a phone interview that the logo is “poking their finger at the eye of the UCLA administration and the UCLA community” by “co-opting the UCLA Bruin icon.”

“What does the Palestinian kite stand for today?” Cooper said. “It’s not going out with peace kites from Japan. It’s setting aloft arson terrorist kites to burn down crops and forests as they’ve done in southern Israel.”

Cooper added that Palestinian terrorists have been using explosives disguised as children’s toys in order to lure Israeli children into touching it and having it blow up in their faces.

“If this doesn’t wake up the UCLA administration to cancel the event at UCLA, then they’re going to have to deal with the consequences that the UCLA Bruin has now been hijacked by people who want to destroy Israel and are pro-terrorist,” Cooper said.

The university and NSJP have not responded to the Journal’s request for comment.

The conference is scheduled to take place on Nov. 16-18.

PayPal Stops Providing Services to UK Charity Over Alleged Ties to Terrorism

Photo from Pixabay.

PayPal has stopped providing services to the British Charity War on Want over the charity’s alleged ties to Palestinian terrorism.

According to a press release from The Lawfare Project, UK Lawyers for Israel (UKFI) informed PayPal about War on Want’s alleged ties to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), prompting PayPal to block people from using its platform to provide donations to the War on Want.

In September, both The Lawfare Project and UKFI filed a complaint against the War on Want for it’s alleged ties to the PFLP, as detailed here. The complaint also alleged that War on Want frequently promulgates “false propaganda against Israel that misleads donors and other members of the public, stokes hatred of Israel and Jews, and encourages anti-Semitism.”

“I am pleased that PayPal has responded to the evidence it has now seen regarding War on Want’s alleged association with groups linked to terrorism and has ceased to assist War on Want in obtaining donations,” Caroline Turner, director of UKFI, said in a statement. “I hope that the Charity Commission will now look carefully at War on Want’s activities and associations.”

Brooke Goldstein, executive director of The Lawfare Project, said in a statement, “PayPal has taken a stand against the use of its platform by groups allegedly connected to terror groups. The Lawfare Project has called on the Charity Commission to follow suit and engage with the detailed complaint we submitted against War on Want.”

Neither PayPal nor the War on Want could be immediately reached for comment.

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.

New Report Highlights SJP’s Ties to Terror

Photo from Wikipedia.

A new report from the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs (JCPA), which has been obtained by the Journal, highlights some of Students for Justice in Palestine’s (SJP) reported ties to Islamic terror groups.

The JCPA report notes that the National SJP organization was established in 2010 by American Muslims for Palestine (AMP), the U.S. Palestinian Community Network (USPCN) at the 2010 World Social Forum; AMP is chaired by Hatem Bazian, who is also the founder of SJP. Bazian has called for an “Intifada” in the United States and has referred to Israel as the “slave master.”

Additionally, at least a couple of AMP’s board leaders have ties to the Holy Land Foundation, an organization that was convicted in 2008 for providing material support to Hamas, the report notes.

Similarly, the USPCN’s founders include people who worked for the Islamic Association for Palestine (IAP), which was one of the groups listed as an unindicted co-conspirator in the Holy Land Foundation trial, according to the report. At their conferences, the USPCN has hosted Raed Salah, who heads the Northern Islamic Movement in Israel, an organization that is affiliated with Hamas.

The 2010 forum was sponsored by the Boycott National Committee; the organization’s ties to terror can be seen here.

National SJP has also provided a platform at their conferences for Rasmea Odeh, who was convicted by an Israeli court for a 1969 Jerusalem supermarket bombing that killed two students, as well as Khader Adnan, a leader of Islamic Jihad, which is designated as a terror organization by the U.S. State Department, per the report.

The report also notes that SJP has been involved in a number of incidents on college campuses throughout the country, including members of UC Irvine’s SJP getting arrested “for violent verbal disruptions of a presentation by Dr. Michael Oren, former Israeli ambassador to the United States” in 2010, according to the report. Another example of a SJP incident occurred in 2013, when SJP’s Northeastern crashed a Holocaust remembrance event with chants of “Free Free Palestine!”

National SJP is scheduled to host their annual conference at UCLA on Nov. 16-18.

Read the full report here.

Eight-Year-Old Palestinian Threw Knife at Israeli Soldiers

Screenshot from Twitter.

An 8-year-old Palestinian boy threw a knife at Israeli soldiers on Thursday, according to the Jerusalem Post.

The boy shouted something before throwing the “large knife” toward soldiers at a West Bank community nearby Route 443, the Post reported. The boy escaped to a nearby Palestinian village.

No soldiers were injured from the boy’s stabbing attempt.

Michael Dickson, the executive director of StandWithUs, tweeted that such the stabbing attempt is the result of incitement and indoctrination from the Palestinian Authority:

Palestinian textbooks have encouraged Palestinian “martyrdom…in clashes against Israelis.”

The Post noted that Palestinian media is claiming “that the knife might have been planted on the boy by Israel.” Palestinian Media Watch has a compilation of cartoons from the Palestinian Authority’s official newspaper that depict Israeli soldiers planting knives on Palestinian children after killing them.

At Least Three Palestinians Dead in Latest Gaza Riots

Screenshot from Twitter.

Hamas-led riots at the Israel-Gaza border on Friday resulted in at least three Palestinians dead and 124 injured, according to the Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry.

However, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) announced in a tweet that “10 armed terrorists” breached the border fence, but the IDF stopped them and then launched retaliatory strikes against Hamas:

According to the Times of Israel, one of the Palestinians that breached the fence threw a grenade, but no Israeli soldiers were injured in the riots.

Additionally, Ynet News reported that there were at least seven fires that were ignited from the incendiary balloons that were launched, but they all appear to have been doused out.

Twenty-thousand Palestinians participated in the riot.

Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman tweeted a warning to Hamas, who are believed to have been escalating the riots as talks of a long-term ceasefire agreement between Israel and Hamas have deteriorated.

“We got through the High Holy Days just as we had planned, without a war erupting and while exacting a heavy price from the rioters on the Gaza border,” Lieberman wrote. “But the holidays are now behind us, and I tell the heads of Hamas: ‘Take that into account.'”

Hamas responded by saying, “These are empty words against the Palestinian will to break the blockade on Gaza. The March of Return will intensify. Our people pay no attention to this broken record of the Zionist leadership”

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.

United States to Shut Down PLO’s D.C. Office

REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman

The Trump administration announced on Tuesday that they would be shutting down the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO)’s office in Washington, D.C., the latest in a series of steps taken by the administration to crack down on the Palestinian Authority.

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said they were making this move because “ the PLO has not taken steps to advance the start of direct and meaningful negotiations with Israel.”

“To the contrary, PLO leadership has condemned a US peace plan they have not yet seen and refused to engage with the US government with respect to peace efforts and otherwise,” Nauert said. “As such, and reflecting congressional concerns, the administration has decided that the PLO office in Washington will close at this point.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu applauded the move in a statement.

“Israel supports these actions that are meant to make it clear to the Palestinians that refusing to negotiate and attacking Israel in international forums will not bring about peace,” Netanyahu said.

According to the Times of Israel, Abbas is furious with the decision and will say “some very undiplomatic things” against Trump at the United Nations General Assembly.

Palestinian Authority officials told Israel’s Channel 10 that Trump is “an enemy of the Palestinian people and an enemy of peace.”

“The American president is encouraging terror and extremism with his policies that could lead to violence in the region, which will explode in the faces of Israel and the US,” the officials said.

According to Jewish Virtual Library, the PLO was initially formed in 1964 with the stated goal of the destruction of Israel and Zionism through violent means. The group has committed numerous acts of terror, including the hijacking of the Achille Lauro cruise ship in 1985. The terrorists murdered a Jewish man, Leon Klinghoffer, who was confined to a wheelchair during the hijacking.

Even though the PLO renounced terrorism in 1993, former PLO chairman Yasser Arafat incited intifadas against Israelis, as has Abbas, Arafat’s successor.

Complaint Filed Against UK Charity Over Ties to Terrorism

Screenshot from Facebook.

The Lawfare Project and UK Lawyers for Israel filed a complaint on Wednesday against a British charity over its ties to terrorism and its anti-Israel activism.

The complaint states that the charity, War on Want, bills itself as a social justice organization that works to ameliorate poverty and inequality and fight for human rights, yet it has ties to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), which has been designated as a terror group by various Western countries.

The War on Want partners with various NGOs that have ties to the PFLP, such as Addameer, which has many various PFLP members. The War on Want has worked with Addameer in boycotting G4S, which has provided goods and services to Israeli prisons; they have also promoted a campaign advocated for the release of terrorists from Israeli prisons.

Additionally, the War on Want names Al Haq, which says it has been “Defending Human rights in Palestine since 1979,” as a partner of the organization in a booklet; Al Haq’s general director, Shawan Jabarin, is a part of PFLP leadership. Al Haq also champions the Palestinian Authority’s “pay-to-slay” policy of paying terrorists and their families to murder Israelis.

The War on Want also partners with the Palestinian BDS [Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions] Committee, an umbrella organization for various entities with ties to a myriad of a Palestinian terror groups, including Hamas, the PFLP and Islamic Jihad.

The complaint also argues that War on Want’s frequent activism against Israel through its promotion of the BDS movement – such as its campaign for Israeli Apartheid Week at British universities – is political activism with no connection to its stated charitable goals, noting that poverty in Gaza and the West Bank has improved “since Israel imposed various controls following Gaza’s takeover by the Hamas terrorist organization.”

The last point mentioned in the complaint is that the War on Want disseminates “misleading” information on the Israel/Palestinian complaint, including false statements about Israeli prisons being mired in “poor conditions” and referring to Palestinian terrorists as “political prisoners.”

“War on Want produces and disseminates false propaganda against Israel that misleads donors and other members of the public, stokes hatred of Israel and Jews, and encourages anti-Semitism, contrary to the public benefit,” the complaint concludes.

According to NGO Monitor, the War on Want faced a complaint from Jewish Human Rights Watch in 2016 due to its ties to terror and anti-Israel activism “that has no bearings on the object of charity.” The War on Want has frequently accused Israel of “ethnic cleansing” and “war crimes” and advocates for Britain to cease arm sales to Israel.

Corbyn’s Danger: Coddling of Terrorists, Not Only Anti-Semites

Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

Not a day goes by without headlines in the British media that detail the scourge of anti-Semitism in the Labour Party. But a deeper look at the behavior of the party’s controversial leader reveals an even more severe problem, one that would shake to its core the country’s bilateral relations with the United States  – as well as the war on terrorism.

Extreme left-winger Jeremy Corbyn was elected as Labour leader in September 2015. Half a year later, the first significant accusations of anti-Semitism in the party surfaced when Alex Chalmers, co-chair of the Oxford University Labour Club (OULC), resigned because club members made anti-Semitic remarks. It also became widely known that Corbyn had, in earlier years, been a frequent supporter of terrorists and terrorism movements. Furthermore, he supported and associated with Holocaust distorters, including Paul Eisen, also an extreme anti-Israel inciter.

Labour’s National Executive Committee (NEC) limited publication to the summary of OULC anti-Semitism investigator Baroness Royal’s report. Additional disclosures about anti-Semitic remarks by elected representatives led Corbyn to appoint an investigator, Shami Chakrabarti, who was unfamiliar with the issue. Her report, published on June 30, 2016, was unfocused and superficial. Soon, word got out that Corbyn had offered Chakrabarti a membership in the House of Lords. She then became Baroness Chakrabarti.

Regular disclosures about anti-Semitic statements by elected Labour representatives continued. Corbyn repeatedly promised that he would fight anti-Semitism in the party, but he did nothing. All the while, several Jewish Labour parliamentarians received thousands of hate letters and other threats. One of them, MP Ruth Smeeth, arrived the party’s annual conference in September 2016 with a bodyguard in tow. At the meeting, Corbyn’s associates managed to obtain control of the NEC.

In April 2018, most Jewish Labour MP’s spoke in the House of Commons about the harassment they underwent. A non-Jewish MP John Mann – long involved in the battle against anti-Semitism – mentioned a rape threat against his wife. She also received a dead bird courtesy of a Labour extremist. Unprecedented actions by British Jewish leaders included a street protest in March 2018. A subsequent meeting of two Jewish leaders with Corbyn produced no results.

The conflict intensified when the NEC recently accepted a diluted version of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition (IHRA) of anti-Semitism. The latter is commonly subject to discussion before approval. These expressions of institutionalized anti-Semitism are odious and threatening to British Jewry, but it is Corbyn’s long-term embrace of terrorists that should concern all democratic leaders and anyone committed to Western values.

Corbyn’s public friendship with terrorists – mainly Arab but also of the Irish Republican Army – dates back decades. In 2009, he invited members of Hamas and Hezbollah to the House of Commons and called them “his friends.”  On another occasion, Corbyn called Hamas “his brothers.” In November 2012, he hosted a meeting in parliament with Musa Abu Maria, a member of banned terrorist group Palestinian Islamic Jihad.  

The Daily Mail recently exposed that, in 2014, Corbyn stood with a wreath next to the graves of several perpetrators of the Black September murders, which claimed 11 Israeli athletes during the 1972 Munich Olympics. He also once shared a platform with Black September terrorist and hijacker Leila Khaled.

It is also settled fact that terrorist supporters were among important financiers of his 2015 election campaign to become Labour leader. These included Dr. Ibrahim Hamami, a columnist for an official Hamas journal. Dr. Hamami gave Corbyn £2000.

Tedd Honderich, a retired professor at London’s University College, contributed £5000 to Corbyn’s campaign. This academic has publicly stated that Palestinians have a moral right to blow up Jews. He even encouraged them to do so by saying, “to claim a moral right on behalf of the Palestinians on their terrorism is to say that they are right to engage in it, that it is permissible if not obligatory.” Honderich has repeated such statements frequently.

According to Electoral Commission returns, previous donations to Mr. Corbyn included a gift of £2,821 from Interpal, a British charity that the U.S. designated as a terrorist organization, in 2013, due to its alleged ties to Hamas. A donation of £1,300 to Corbyn came from the Palestinian Return Centre. This organization has, in the past, faced accusations of being “Hamas’s organisational branch in Europe.”

Meanwhile, as the United States and many other Western governments are battling international and domestic terrorism mainly from Muslim perpetrators, the governing Conservative British government has great difficulty in developing a viable policy in the Brexit negotiations with the European Union. As a result, Labour has a realistic chance to win the next parliamentary elections that could take place earlier than the scheduled date in 2022. A Corbyn-led U.K. could present the introduction of a big Trojan horse into their own ranks.

Corbyn’s Labour Party has now belatedly adopted the IHRA’s full definition of anti-Semitism but attached a rider allowing for continuing criticism of Israel. If this move represents the beginning of dealing with anti-Semites and anti-Semitism within the party, including anti-Semites masquerading as anti-Zionists, then the Party can begin to write a new chapter. The fact that criticism of Israel and Palestinian issue were added to the adoption could be used to subvert the agreement by those who hate the Jewish state, home to the world’s largest Jewish community.

British Jewry cannot afford to suffer the normalization of anti-Semitism in a government charged with protecting all of its citizens, and the world cannot afford to lose one of the strongest and most stalwart fighters of terrorism. The time has come for the U.S. to voice strong disapproval of a major party leader who is manifestly unfit to lead a great democracy. And to those people of England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland who support Labour, we have one message: You are better than this.


Rabbi Abraham Cooper is the associate dean, director Global Social Action Agenda at the Simon Wiesenthal Center

Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld is a prolific author and expert on European anti-Semitism. He is the former chairman of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.

Palestinian Girl Who Slapped Israeli Soldier ‘Proud’ of Hezbollah Leader’s Praise

Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

Sixteen-year-old Ahed Tamimi, the Palestinian girl who has made headlines after being imprisoned for eight months for slapping an Israeli soldier, said she is “proud” of being praised by Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah.

A clip from Lebanese television and translated by MEMRI (Middle East Media Research Institute) begins with Nasrallah saying that Tamimi was “brave and courageous.”

“This is a girl that confronts Israeli soldiers and slaps them,” Nasrallah said before a crowd.

The clip then turns to Tamimi, who called Nasrallah “honorable” and thanked him for his support.

“His words boosted our morale – not just my morale but the morale of many people, because I represent the people,” Tamimi said, adding that Nasrallah’s words provided “support of the entire Palestinian people.”

Tamimi then said she “salutes” Nasrallah.

“We all support him and are proud of him,” Tamimi said.

Nasrallah has a record of anti-Semitic invectives, which includes him saying, “If we searched the entire world for a person more cowardly, despicable, weak and feeble in psyche, mind, ideology and religion, we would not find anyone like the Jew.” He has also said, “If they (Jews) all gather in Israel, it will save us the trouble of going after them worldwide.”

According to Jewish Virtual Library, Nasrallah has taken Hezbollah into “a more extremist line against Israel and the US” since he took over the terror group in 1991, pointing to his decision to have Hezbollah kidnap Israeli soldiers and then launch rockets into Israel in 2006, which resulted in the Second Israel-Lebanon War.

H/T: Times of Israel

Sen. Cory Booker Takes Picture With Anti-Israel Group’s Sign, Claims He Didn’t Read the Sign

Screenshot from Twitter.

Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), who is widely seen as a potential 2020 presidential candidate, took a picture with an anti-Israel organization’s sign. He later claimed he didn’t read the sign.

Booker took the picture at the yearly progressive Netroots Nation conference and held a sign that read, “From Palestine to Mexico, All the Walls Have Got to Go”:

 

The U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights invented the aforementioned pro-Palestinian slogan; standing next to Booker on his left is Leah Muskin-Pirret, the U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights’ government associate.

Jeff Giertz, a spokesperson for Booker, told Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA) that Booker didn’t know the sign was anti-Israel in nature.

“He didn’t have time to read the sign, and from his cursory glance he thought it was talking about Mexico and didn’t realize it had anything to do with Israel,” Giertz said. “He hopes for a day when there will be no need for security barriers in the State of Israel, but while active terrorist organizations threaten the safety of the people living in Israel, security barriers are unfortunate but necessary to protect human lives.”

Booker has previously spoken at pro-Israel groups, however his support for the Iran nuclear deal and his vote against the Taylor Force Act in 2017 have put him at odds with some in the pro-Israel community.

The U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights, according to a Tablet exposé, is the “American umbrella group of the BDS [Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions] movement” and has funneled its money toward Islamic terror groups like Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP).

The U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights has also celebrated convicted terrorist Rasmea Odeh: