Sunday, February 25, 2018

  • Sunday, February 25, 2018
  • Elder of Ziyon
In a new mailing from J-Street, Jeremy Ben Ami waxes poetic over Mahmoud Abbas' "peace plan" of giving up nothing and demanding everything be handed to him on a silver platter:

Last week, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas made an important speech to the UN Security Council.

Abbas laid out explicit support for the two-state solution and put forward a serious proposal for how to get there.
Of course, if Ben Ami had been paying attention, Abbas was not showing the slightest willingness to make any hard decisions for peace - as he and his predecessor have adamantly refused to do so for over twenty years.

But then Ben-Ami goes into complete fantasyland:
So it’s stunning when you realize that, today, of the three, the Palestinians are the only party willing to publicly endorse the goal of two states for two peoples.
This is a breathtaking lie.

Never has Abbas recognized Israel as a Jewish state, and he never will. He certainly didn't do so in his speech. Without that, there are no "two states for two peoples."

This has been what Israel has insisted upon since Camp David. The very expression "two states for two peoples" is Israeli. Israel has never stopped endorsing it. The phrase is mentioned numerous times on Israel's Foreign Ministry website, today.

Sometimes, Palestinians and apologists for their double talk like Jeremy Ben Ami will claim that Palestinians do accept two states for two people - but when they say that they mean the "Israeli" people, not the Jewish. people. That is almost certainly what Ben Ami meant - and he is knowingly deceiving his readers who do not realize the depth of his hate for Israel as a Jewish state.

But actual people who care about actual peace know that he is throwing dust in their eyes with this lie.

After all, J-Street itself is against Israel being recognized as the Jewish state. They knowingly obscure their "two states" demand by saying things like this:

J-Street does not say that Jews have the right to self determination, but "Israelis." Which makes no sense, since there was no "Israeli" people before 1948 - so whose self-determination was realized with the rebirth of the state of Israel?

There is no daylight between the official Palestinian position stated to the world and J-Street. It is not pro-Israel in any sense.

And people who believe that all peoples have the  right to self determination but not Jews, which seems to be J-Street's position, are antisemitic.

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From Ian:

Cheering Netanyahu says US embassy move will have ‘long-term implications’
The US decision to relocate its embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem will have “long-term implications,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday, reiterating his praise of the announcement and thanking US President Donald Trump for the “historic” move planned for Israel’s 70th Independence Day anniversary in May.

“This is a great moment for the citizens of Israel and a historic moment for the State of Israel,” Netanyahu told his ministers at the weekly cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem. “All the citizens of Israel will celebrate it together. It has long-term implications and great historic significance.”

Repeating comments he made in a Saturday night video praising the US announcement, Netanyahu thanked the Trump for the planned move, whose timing was announced Friday, following the US president’s declaration in December recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

“I want to thank President Trump, on behalf of the entire government and the entire people, for both your leadership and friendship. President Trump you are a great friend to the State of Israel. We thank you,” Netanyahu said.

Netanyahu is expected to invite Trump to Israel in May to inaugurate the new US embassy, Hadashot TV news reported on Saturday.

The US State Department notified Congress on Friday that the Jerusalem embassy would open in May to coincide with the 70th anniversary of Israel declaring independence, speeding up the process by converting a building currently housing consular services into the embassy.

The State Department confirmed the timing of the move.

Why is the U.S. speeding up its Jerusalem embassy move?
When Tillerson made his comments about 2020 and beyond, he was thinking of what it would mean to relocate an entire, permanent embassy, which is a huge production that entails having to find a site, negotiate terms, provide security, and build the building.

When it indeed appeared that this would take years, other eyes started to look into the matter, including those of Friedman, and other scenarios were evaluated, one of which was to do the move in stages.

The logic behind this was that if the decision was already made, then it should be implemented as quickly as possible. The idea was also that Trump, having made the decision against the advice of most of the world, should reap the political benefits and see it happen by at least the end of his first term.

But why wait that long? What is gained by waiting that long? If security is a concern, then the existing complex in Arnona – one of the most secure sites in Jerusalem – provides a solution. And what better time to do it then to have it coincide with the 70th Independence Day.

According to this explanation that the decision was based primarily on logistical considerations, the decision to make the move now is just the result of looking at the options and realize that it is possible to make the move much earlier – if done in stages – than originally anticipated.

  • Sunday, February 25, 2018
  • Elder of Ziyon
Over the past month a new slick social media campaign has popped up called #SaveGaza, on Twitter and Facebook. The initiative has already managed to produce quite a few press events with statistics about how bad things are in Gaza, all blaming Israel.

Its inaugural event was described this way in Al Bawaba (English):

The Gaza Strip has officially become a “disaster zone," the Charity Coalition, an umbrella organization for Islamic charity groups, said Thursday.

“We therefore announce the launch of the Safe Gaza Initiative with a view to meeting the basic needs of Gaza’s two million inhabitants,” coalition coordinator Ahmad al-Kurd said at a press conference in Gaza City.

Al-Kurd called on Arab and Muslim relief agencies, along with international aid organizations, to take immediate steps aimed at “rescuing Gazans from the steadily deteriorating conditions they face."
There was a demonstration organized by the same group with disabled Gazans holding up signs in Arabic and English asking where their rights are for food, water and treatment.

Today, the same group, using bogus statistics, claimed that Israel's "siege" of Gaza has claimed 1000 lives so far. They come up with this number by counting people who have died waiting for PA approval for medical treatment outside Gaza, by counting people who have died in fires started by dangerous kerosene and wood heaters and candles (blaming Israel for lack of power, which is false,) and by counting 350 people who supposedly died while looking for jobs.

Ahmad al-Kurd, in the press conference, is begging for help from the world to help the poor Gazans dying from the "siege."

"We are launching a loud cry today for the whole world to save Gaza from these catastrophic circumstances," he said. "How many victims must die?"

What is not being reported is that Ahmad al Kurd is a senior Hamas official and his "charities" are all Hamas fronts, designated as such by the US government, back in 2007.

The U.S. Department of the Treasury today designated the Al-Salah Society, one of the largest and best-funded Hamas charitable organizations in the Palestinian territories.  Al-Salah Society's director, Ahmad Al-Kurd, was also designated today.

"Hamas has used the Al-Salah Society, as it has many other charitable fronts, to finance its terrorist agenda," said Adam Szubin, Director of Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC).  "Today's action alerts the world to the true nature of Al-Salah and cuts it off from the U.S. financial system."

The Al-Salah Society supported Hamas-affiliated combatants during the first Intifada and recruited and indoctrinated youth to support Hamas's activities.  It also financed commercial stores, kindergartens, and the purchase of land for Hamas.  One of the most senior Gaza-based Hamas leaders and founders, Ismail Abu Shanab, openly identified the Al-Salah Society as "one of the three Islamic charities that form Hamas' welfare arm."  The Al-Salah Society has received substantial funding from Persian Gulf countries, including at least hundreds of thousands of dollars from Kuwaiti donors.

The Al-Salah Society is directed by Ahmad Al-Kurd, a recognized high-ranking Hamas leader in Gaza.  Al-Kurd's affiliation with Hamas goes back over a decade.  During the first Intifada, Al-Kurd served as a Hamas Shura Council member in Gaza.  As of late 2003, Al-Kurd was allegedly the top Hamas leader in Deir Al-Balah, Gaza.  Since mid-2005, he has served as the mayor of Deir Al-Balah, elected as a Hamas candidate.

The Al-Salah Society has employed a number of Hamas military wing members.  In late 2002, an official of the Al-Salah Society in Gaza was the principal leader of a Hamas military wing structure in the Al-Maghazi refugee camp in Gaza.  The founder and former director of the Al-Salah Society's Al-Maghazi branch reportedly also operated as a member of the Hamas military wing structure in Al-Maghazi, participated in weapons deals, and served as a liaison to the rest of the Hamas structure in Al-Maghazi.  At least four other Hamas military wing members in the Al-Maghazi refugee camp in Gaza were tied to the Al-Salah Society.

The Al-Salah Society was included on a list of suspected Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad-affiliated NGOs whose accounts were frozen by the Palestinian Authority as of late August 2003.  After freezing the bank accounts, PA officials confirmed that the Al-Salah Society was a front for Hamas.

The new coalition of Hamas front groups is much savvier, making sure that their videos are in English and using the disabled and children to tug at heartstrings.

In fact, much of the money raised is going to build rockets and tunnels.

The #SaveGaza hashtag is becoming more and more popular; it is unclear whether the groups using it are aware that they are promoting a terror group.

Hamas is in worse financial shape lately since it lost its funding from most Gulf countries. This "Charity Coalition" is an extremely cynical use of charity to raise funds to kill Israelis.

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  • Sunday, February 25, 2018
  • Elder of Ziyon

Over the weekend, the the head of the Qatar National Committee for the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip, Mohammed Al-Emadi, criticized PA president Mahmoud Abbas over his collective punishment of Gazans to pressure Hamas, which includes withholding medicines, fuel and salaries.

Al Emadi told reporters, "I've said to President Abbas before: You are the president of the Palestinian people in full, give something to your children, leave the politics aside and do not give anything to Hamas or anything else; just give something to your people."

He warned that the humanitarian situation in Gaza is on the verge of "total collapse...where the citizens have no one to help them.. There is a government that does not fulfill its duty, ... and only the people pay the price."

"We told Israel that the situation in Gaza is intolerable. You have to find a solution to this. You have the key and you are the jailers. There is also blame for the Palestinian Authority and blame for Egypt, which does not open the Rafah crossing," he said.

The head of the Fatah media office Mounir Jagoub responded that "Qatar's statements themselves deny the human character, and reflect incomprehensible positions that are abusive to the Palestinian leadership."

Jagoub continued, "Al-Emadi's political statements before the news agencies against Brother Abu Mazen is an attempt to exploit the tragic situation in Gaza, disguising what we offer our people there under our duty of support as we share with them money and medicine. " He called on Al-Emadi to "retreat from his positions, which are consistent with the campaigns aimed at perpetuating division and spreading division among our people."

Qatar has been boycotted by other Gulf states for its refusal to cut ties with Iran, and the country has been on a charm offensive centered on right wing American Jewish leaders, who have surprisingly allowed themselves to be used in this cynical way to provide cover for the country.

Qatar has been trying for years to position itself as an honest broker in the Middle East, talking with anyone - including Israel - presumably to increase its own prestige as a power player. And it has done the same in Gaza, cooperating with Hamas in providing aid to Gazans.

And yet, the impression I've gotten from watching its actions in Gaza is that despite its political ambitions and its current setbacks, Qatar is the only Arab country that seems to care about actual Gazans and their welfare. Much of its help has been towards purely humanitarian projects - housing, medicine and the like. It is true that when Hamas had full control over Gaza, Qatar's funding made it easier for Hamas to abdicate its own responsibility as the de facto government there, and instead put its money into building a terror infrastructure. Still, Qatar's willingness to put hundreds of millions into Gaza has shows that the other Arab nations' pro-Palestinian rhetoric is hollow.

Hamas is willing to use Gazans as human shields. The PA is willing to hurt them in its attempt to retake Gaza. Egypt has nothing against Gazans themselves but it will not risk its own security just to help them out. Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf states consider Hamas to be the enemy both because of its Muslim Brotherhood origins and its friendliness with Iran, so they only  pay lip service to  Gaza.

Qatar is no paradigm of morality, but it seems to care more about Gaza than the rest of the Palestinians themselves do, let alone the rest of the Arab world and the many supposedly "pro-Palestinian" NGOs that will never say a word against anyone besides Israel.

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  • Sunday, February 25, 2018
  • Elder of Ziyon
A completely false "history " of Jerusalem, written by an Egyptian academic in 2016, is receiving rave reviews in Arabic media since it claims that the Arabs built the city and Jews have no claim whatsoever.

Dr. Qasem Abdu Kassem is the head of the History Department, at Zagazig University.   "Jerusalem ... History and a Civilizational Identity - Jerusalem tells its story", is not meant to be read by scholars, though - it is propaganda meant to be read by Arabs in the form of an "autobiography" of Jerusalem.

Extended quotes from the book are written in two separate reviews published since the US announcement of moving the embassy.

The very beginning exposes the lies that underlie the book:

I am not a normal city like all the cities in this world: I have been a holy city since my birth.....
I was born when my family built me: the Jebusite Arabs who had migrated from the Arabian Peninsula with the Canaanites in the fifth millennium BC. ...
There is no evidence that pre-Israelite Jerusalem was a holy city when it was founded, although there is some  Biblical evidence that it had achieved that status in Abraham's time.

There is no evidence that the Jebusites (or any of the Canaanites) are Arabs who migrated from the Arabian Peninsula.

The book goes on to claim that the Israelites were Bedouin nomads for hundreds of years:

For one reason or another, the Jews fled from Egypt to Sinai and lived in the [Sinai] peninsula for a period of time. The period was called "Taha" because they were wandering in the Sinai ...
       After the departure of the Israelites from Egypt, the Prophet Moses did not know me, and I did not know him: he never reached Palestine. Moses' journey in the Sinai with the Israelites was not easy at all; they lived on the peninsula, which was the "land of tranquility" for them for hundreds of years: they worshiped the [golden] calf without God, and resisted Moses, peace be upon him. They only reached Palestine after three hundred years or more. They lived the hard-boiled Bedouin life that made them forget the stable urban life they knew in Egypt. And so their generations were then nomads ...
This is obvious anti-Israel propaganda, written by a respected historian (who had previously written many more academically-oriented books about Egypt's history) as a popular history of Jerusalem.

It seems likely that variants of this fiction are being taught to children, today.

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Saturday, February 24, 2018

From Ian:

Father of Taylor Force, US Business Student and Military Vet Murdered in Palestinian Stabbing Attack: We Are Not Suckers
Stuart Force — the father of the late Taylor Force, the American business student and military veteran who was murdered in a stabbing attack in Israel in 2016 — spoke on Friday at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) near Washington, DC, and called on the Senate to approve a pending piece of legislation, named for his son, that would cut off US government funding of the Palestinian Authority if it continues to pay monetary rewards to terrorists and their families.

“The Palestinian Authority leadership tells the world that these payments are simply social welfare payments,” Stuart Force said. “But we aren’t suckers. We know that these are US taxpayer dollars being used to incentivize and fund terror.”

“It has been emotionally distressing to relive the loss of our son over the past two years,” Force told the crowd at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center. “But we have come to realize there are so many more good people in the world than there are evil ones. The evil ones seem to get all the attention, online and in the media. The good people of the world deserve better. Passing the Taylor Force Act and stopping the terror funding is a great place to start the process.”

“The House [of Representatives] has passed its version of the act,” Force explained. “The next step is to allocate floor time on the Senate, pass its version, reconcile the two, and send it to President Trump for his signature.”

“This is not a partisan issue, this is an anti-terrorism issue,” Force went on to say. “This is a right versus wrong issue. We look forward to being in the Senate gallery when the act passes with unanimous, bipartisan, support, and we can fist bump, hug, and cry, like we did in the House gallery.”
Bret Stephens: Don’t Count Bibi Out — Yet
If you follow the news from Israel, you might surmise that Benjamin Netanyahu’s days as prime minister are numbered. The police recommend that he be charged on multiple counts of bribery, fraud and breach of trust. Fresh charges may yet be brought in additional investigations. A former top aide to Netanyahu agreed this week to serve as a witness against him. Press reports suggest a man clinging to power.

Don’t be so sure. If an election were held tomorrow, Bibi — as Netanyahu is universally known in Israel — and his Likud party would likely win, according to recent polls. Roughly half of Israelis think the prime minister should quit, but that’s down from 60 percent in December. Netanyahu has no intention of resigning, even if the attorney general chooses to indict him. The Likud rank-and-file remain loyal to their leader. His coalition partners may detest him, but for now they see greater political advantage in a wounded prime minister than in a fresh one.

Besides, Bibi has been, for Israelis, a pretty good prime minister. Some indicators:

Economy: Since Netanyahu returned to power in 2009, the economy has grown by nearly 30 percent in constant dollars — nearly twice the growth rate of Germany or the United States. Some 3.6 million tourists visited Israel in 2017, a record for the Jewish state. On Monday, Israel announced a $15 billion dollar deal to export natural gas to Egypt from its huge offshore fields.

Diplomacy: Netanyahu’s personal ties to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi are exceptionally close, as they are with Japan’s Shinzo Abe. Israel’s relations with African countries and the Arab world are the best they’ve been in decades; reaction in Riyadh and Cairo to the Trump administration’s decision to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem amounted to a shrug. Netanyahu’s 2015 speech to Congress opposing the Iran deal, billed as an affront to the Obama administration, turned out to be an inspiration for Israel’s neighbors. And Netanyahu’s arguments against the deal now prevail in the current White House. (h/t Elder of Lobby)
Palestinian ex-terrorist deported from US invited to speak in Amsterdam
Right-wing Dutch lawmakers have protested a far-left group’s invitation of a Palestinian ex-terrorist who was deported from the United States to speak in the Dutch capital.

Machiel de Graaf and Gidi Markuszower of the Party for Freedom expressed opposition to Rasmea Odeh’s planned visit in a query they submitted Thursday to Justice and Security Minister Ferdinand Grapperhaus.

“Do you agree that a convicted terrorist and immigration fraudster has nothing to look for in the Netherlands? If not, why not?” the lawmakers wrote, adding: “Are you prepared to deny her entrance? If not, why?”

In the Netherlands, lawmakers use parliamentary queries to draw the media’s attention to issues and direct scrutiny of the actions of the ministers queried, who have up to three weeks to reply.

Odeh was invited to the Netherlands by Anakbayan-Europe, a Filipino communist group, and another fringe left organization called Revolutionary Unity.

Friday, February 23, 2018

From Ian:

Human Rights Groups Refused to Help 52 Arab Victims of Palestinian Authority Torture
A group of 52 Arabs, residents of the Palestinian Authority, who needed costly medical evaluations in order to apply for compensations following a court ruling finding the PA guilty of torturing them, turned to fifteen different human rights organizations for support but were rejected by 13 of them, Israel Hayom reported Friday.

Out of the 15 NGOs, only Physicians for Human Rights and the Committee for the Prevention of Torture offered assisted the applicants. The rest refused to help or ignored the pleas. The Yesh Din organization expressed their “feelings of anger and pain,” but explained that they cannot help because they only “represent victims of violations when they are harmed by Israeli authorities or Israeli citizens.”

Another NGO, Adalah, stated they “only help the Palestinian who are suing the State of Israel.”

Amnesty International said that their organization “does not have the professional tools to address the needs of these refugees.”

Good to know.

Last August, Judge Moshe Drori of the Jerusalem District Court ruled that the Palestinian Authority is responsible for the murder, abduction, imprisonment, torture and rape of 52 Arabs who are citizens of Israel or the PA. The verdict on these cases—dating back to the years 1995-2002—described torture that included electric shocks; castration; prolonged hanging by the legs with the prisoner’s head down; pouring boiling plastic on prisoners’ bodies; pulling teeth and nails; sleep deprivation and food deprivation; as well as murder and rape of family members.
Amnesty report claims Israel ‘kills,’ ‘tortures’ Palestinian children
The recent Amnesty International Report on the state of human rights in 159 countries and territories during 2017 claims Israel is “killing” and “torturing” Palestinian children with impunity.

Its critique of Israel is more extensive and critical than those of known bastions of human rights violations, including Syria, Iraq, and Yemen.

“June marked 50 years since Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian Territories and the start of the 11th year of its illegal blockade of the Gaza Strip, subjecting approximately 2 million inhabitants to collective punishment and a growing humanitarian crisis,” the report begins.

“Israeli forces unlawfully killed Palestinian civilians, including children... Torture and other ill-treatment of detainees, including children, remained pervasive and was committed with impunity,” it continues.

In its “Unlawful Killings” section, the document claims Israeli soldiers, police and security guards killed at least 75 Palestinians, later noting that “some of those killed were shot while attacking Israelis or suspected of intending an attack.”

“Many, including children, were shot and unlawfully killed while posing no immediate threat to life,” the reports states.

The “Excessive Use of Force” section claims that Israeli forces killed at least 20 Palestinians and wounded thousands while being attacked during riots.

“Many protesters threw rocks or other projectiles, but were posing no threat to the lives of well-protected Israeli soldiers when they were shot,” it states.
Ellison on Farrakhan Meeting: ‘There’s No Relationship,’ I’m a ‘Fierce Opponent of Anti-Semitism’ (not satire)
Rep. Keith Ellison (D., Minn.) said Thursday he had no relationship with Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, saying he had always been a "fierce opponent of anti-Semitism."

Ellison, the vice-chair of the Democratic National Committee and a Muslim, attended a private dinner in 2013 with Farrakhan, an outspoken racist and anti-Semite who espouses conspiracy theories about Jews and whites, and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.

CNN host Wolf Blitzer recapped the saga, pointing out Ellison said in 2016 that his relationship with Farrakhan ended long ago.

"What exactly is your relationship with Farrakhan?" Blitzer asked.

"No relationship," Ellison said. "My political opponents keep pushing this out there in order to try to smear and distract from the key issues, but there's no relationship, Wolf. I have a clear record. I have always fought for equal rights for all people. I will continue to do so. I have always denounced and been a fierce opponent of anti-Semitism, from whatever source. I'll continue to do so."

  • Friday, February 23, 2018
  • Elder of Ziyon

From AP:
Two Trump administration officials say the new U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem will open in May to coincide with the 70th anniversary of Israel declaring independence.

The officials say Congress is being notified of the impending move on Friday. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson signed off on the security plan for the new embassy on Thursday.

The officials weren't authorized to discuss the plan publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.

A ribbon-cutting is being planned for mid-May, they said. Israel proclaimed independence on May 14, 1948.

A May opening would mark a significant acceleration. Vice President Mike Pence had said previously the embassy would open by the end of 2019, and Tillerson had said it could take years.

Initially, the embassy will consist of just a few offices inside an existing U.S. facility in Jerusalem. Opening a full-fledged embassy will likely cost hundreds of millions of dollars.

The Trump administration is considering an offer from Republican mega-donor Sheldon Adelson to pay for at least part of the new embassy.
Israel's Independence Day this year comes out (according to the Hebrew calendar and adjustments to avoid Sabbath violations) on April 19, not May 14.

But "Nakba Day" is celebrated every year on May 15th.

I guess if the Palestinians are going to act upset at the fact of Israel's existence on Nakba Day, they might as well add another reason and be upset at the fact that Jerusalem is Israel's capital as well.

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From Ian:

US ‘to move embassy to Jerusalem on May 14’ — day of independence declaration
The US is planning to officially move its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem on May 14, 2018 — the 70th anniversary of Israel’s declaration of independence, as well as Washington’s recognition of the Jewish state — Channel 10 and Hadashot news reported Friday.

According to Hadashot the embassy will officially announce the plans later in the day. The report was confirmed to Channel 10 by high-ranking Israeli officials.

The Times of Israel has not confirmed the report.

US officials had previously said the move could take many more months, and perhaps years.

Earlier Friday four US officials told The Associated Press that the Trump administration was considering an offer from Republican mega-donor Sheldon Adelson to pay for at least part of the new embassy.

Lawyers at the State Department are looking into the legality of accepting private donations to cover some or all of the embassy costs, the administration officials said. The discussions are occurring as the new embassy clears its final bureaucratic hurdles.

On Thursday, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson ended weeks of delay by signing off on a security plan for moving the embassy from Tel Aviv to the holy city, according to the officials, who weren’t authorized to discuss the issue publicly and demanded anonymity.

Sheldon Adelson offers to help pay for US Jerusalem embassy — report
The Trump administration is considering an offer from Republican mega-donor Sheldon Adelson to pay for at least part of a new US embassy in Jerusalem, four US officials told The Associated Press.

Lawyers at the State Department are looking into the legality of accepting private donations to cover some or all of the embassy costs, the administration officials said. The discussions are occurring as the new embassy clears its final bureaucratic hurdles. On Thursday, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson ended weeks of delay by signing off on a security plan for moving the embassy from Tel Aviv to the holy city, according to the officials, who weren’t authorized to discuss the issue publicly and demanded anonymity.

In one possible scenario, the administration would solicit contributions not only from Adelson but potentially from other donors in the evangelical and American Jewish communities, too. One official said Adelson, a Las Vegas casino magnate and staunch supporter of Israel, had offered to pay the difference between the total cost — expected to run into the hundreds of millions of dollars — and what the administration is able to raise.

Under any circumstance, letting private citizens cover the costs of an official government building would mark a significant departure from historical US practice. In the Jerusalem case, it would add yet another layer of controversy to Trump’s politically charged decision to move the embassy, given Adelson’s longstanding affiliation with right-wing Israeli politics.
Hotovely: '10 more countries in talks to move embassies to Jerusalem'
Israel is currently holding talks with 10 different nations over the possible relocation of their embassies from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely revealed Thursday.

Following President Donald Trump’s December 6th announcement that he had ordered the US State Department to begin work transferring the US mission to Israel from Tel Aviv to the Israeli capital, just one other country, Guatemala, followed suit.

Later that month, however, Hotovely hinted that other countries may also be interested in transferring their embassies.

On Thursday, Hotovely told American Jewish leaders that Israel is currently engaged in talks with 10 different countries regarding the relocation of their embassies.

Speaking with members of the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations, currently visiting Israel as part of their annual leadership mission to Israel, Hotovely briefed leaders on the progress made towards securing the embassy relocations.

"We are in a dialogue with over ten countries to transfer their embassies to our capital, Jerusalem," said Hotovely.

"We want to see at least another 10 countries that will transfer their embassies to Jerusalem after the US in the coming years."

Latest in the never-ending series....

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  • Friday, February 23, 2018
  • Elder of Ziyon

A tweet from Amnesty USA's pro-Palestinian account:

Over the past year, all of the problems in Gaza came from the infighting between the PA and Hamas. And Amnesty knows it. In the "Palestine" section of its latest annual report, it dispassionately mentions some of what has happened in 2017:

The Palestinian government based in Ramallah imposed several punitive measures against Gaza in a bid to pressure the Hamas administration to give up control of Gaza. These measures impeded the civilian population’s access to medical care, essential services including water and electricity, and education. This contributed to violations of the rights to health, an adequate standard of living, and education.

In May, the West Bank authorities informed Israel that they would cover only 70% of the monthly cost of Israeli electricity supplies to Gaza due to Hamas’ failure to reimburse them. As a result, access to electricity in Gaza was reduced from an average of eight hours per day to between two to four hours per day.

According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, in March the West Bank authorities suspended the payments for transfers of people in need of medical treatment outside Gaza, delaying the referrals of some 1,400 patients. NGOs reported that procedural delays resulted in the deaths of several patients, including babies. The UN reported delays in the transfer of essential medicines and medical supplies to hospitals in Gaza, affecting patients’ long-term health.
But when Amnesty's report discusses Israel and Gaza, the language is much stronger in placing blame:

Israel’s illegal air, land and sea blockade of the Gaza Strip entered its 11th year, continuing the long-standing restrictions on the movement of people and goods into and from the area, collectively punishing Gaza’s entire population. Combined with Egypt’s almost total closure of the Rafah border crossing, and the West Bank authorities’ punitive measures, Israel’s blockade triggered a humanitarian crisis with electricity cuts reducing access to electricity from an average of eight hours per day down to as little as two to four hours, affecting clean water and sanitation and diminishing health service access, and rendering Gaza increasingly “unlivable” according to the UN. ... Many patients with life-threatening illnesses were unable to access treatment outside Gaza due to Israeli restrictions and delays by West Bank authorities in processing referrals.
Amnesty downplays any Arab responsibility for the Gaza crisis and chooses to only castigate Israel with words like "illegal" and "collective punishment" and "humanitarian crisis" and making Gaza "unlivable." (There is nothing illegal in Israel's enforcing a national border with Gaza, nor with its naval blockade, as even the UN admits. But Amnesty flatly labels Israeli actions to protect its borders "illegal" twice in this document.)

Israel doesn't restrict fuel shipments. The PA does.

Israel doesn't restrict medicines in Gaza. The PA does.

Israel doesn't restrict electricity. The PA does.

Israel doesn't restrict patients getting medical care without specific security reasons. The PA does.

But Amnesty doesn't use any language against the PA that indicates any moral issues with its actions. Only Israel.

Which is what the tweet shows quite convincingly.

Amnesty isn't attacking and singling out Israel out of ignorance. It is doing it out of deep seated hate.

Incidentally, its Israel section of its report is longer than its entry on Syria. Because Amnesty's priorities are quite obvious.

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  • Friday, February 23, 2018
  • Elder of Ziyon
Dervish protest on February 19th that turned violent

This report from Iranian mouthpiece PressTV needs to be read between the lines:

Iranian mourners have held a funeral ceremony for the police forces who lost their lives in a recent wave of attacks by members of a Dervish cult in northern Tehran.

The attacks took place overnight on Monday during an unauthorized gathering by the so-called Gonabadi Dervishes near a police station, during which they engaged in clashes with ordinary people and police forces, according to officials.

During the clashes, an attacker ploughed a bus through a group of policemen, killing three of them.

Two members of the Basij volunteer force also lost their lives in separate car-ramming and stabbing attacks at the site. A funeral ceremony was also held for the pair on Wednesday.

Speaking at the Thursday funeral, the Iranian interior minister said the deadly riots in northern Tehran were yet another plot designed by enemies to put pressure on Iran.

“Over the past months, we have witnessed a host of pressure tactics in various areas...which are indicative of hostilities by the US and the Zionist regime,” Rahmani Fazli said, adding, “We are well aware of their plots.”

The Iranian police chief also addressed the crowd of mourners, vowing that law enforcement forces will give a firm response to any group seeking to disrupt public order and security.

“We do not at allow any cult, group or political movement to endanger security, and we will decisively deal with them,” Ashtari added.

More than 300 people, among them the drivers of the bus and the car as well as the main elements behind the incident, had been arrested.

In a statement on Wednesday, the Dervish cult strongly condemned the attacks, calling for the perpetrators of acts of violence to be brought to justice.
The Gonabadi Dervishes are a Sufi group which has been persecuted by Iran for decades, but there is hardly any information about this. A good description of their persecutions comes from, of all places, Canada's Immigration and Refugee Board, as help to determine if this group can be considered potential political refugees:

Radio Free Europe gives a synopsis:
The Nematollahi Gonabadi order is Iran's largest Sufi order, with members across the country, including in major cities like Tehran and Isfahan. Like most Iranians, they are followers of Shi'a Islam. They pray five times a day and fast during the month of Ramadan. Their rituals include reading spiritual poetry.

The Gonabadi dervishes view Sufism as a way of life through which one can find God. They strongly oppose the use of drugs and preach tolerance. Perhaps more crucially in the current context, they believe that religion and politics should be separated.

Their leader or "pole" is 90-year-old Paris-educated lawyer Nurali Tabandeh, who defended several political prisoners before and after the 1979 revolution. Dervishes have said that Tabandeh's safety is their "red line."

In recent weeks, dozens of dervishes have staged a sit-in outside Tabandeh's residence in northern Tehran to protect him. They say they became concerned after at least one occasion in which plainclothes agents, believed to be affiliated with security organs, swarmed his street, with clashes ensuing.

Iran's clerical establishment has long opposed any group that it regards as a threat to its monopoly on religion.

Dervishes say their growing popularity is the reason behind the state pressure they face. They claim to have between 2 million and 5 million members in Iran and abroad. They say their tight-knit community also concerns Iranian authorities.

Some conservative clerics have called the Sufis a danger to Islam. Ayatollah Hossein Nuri Hamedani, a high-ranking cleric in Qom, said in 2006 that by not engaging in politics, Sufis weaken Islam. Hard-liners have also accused the dervishes of being used by foreign powers to create discord within Iranian society.

In 2007, a letter was published by a group describing themselves as seminarians of Qom in which the signatories warned of the "dangers" of Sufism and called on authorities to deal with it "more firmly." They added that the "Hizbullah nation of Iran" is ready to cooperate and assist officials.

Amnesty International says the persecution of dervishes increased after an October 2010 speech by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, who denounced "newly created circles of false mysticism."

Sufis, who believe one can reach a direct union with God, and Orthodox Muslims have long been at odds in Iran. The tensions have worsened since the creation of the Islamic republic as state tolerance for Sufis has decreased.

What Kind Of Pressure Have They Faced?

Dervishes have complained of state pressure and harassment for years.

Some of their houses of worship have been destroyed in past years, while hundreds of members have been detained and more than a dozen have been sentenced to prison terms, lashes, or internal exile.

In 2006, a Sufi house of worship was destroyed in Qom and 1,000 dervishes were detained following clashes that reportedly left 100 injured. Authorities claimed the Sufis had illegally turned a presidential building into a center of worship and had refused to vacate it.
There is a systematic oppression and demonization of a Muslim group in Iran that has millions of members - and the media essentially ignores it.

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