How Petra Nemcova Could Have Obtained Another Million For Her Happy Hearts Fund
The very attractive Petra Nemcova apparently agreed to donate $500,000 to the Clinton Global Initiative, run by and for the three beady-eyed members of the Clinton family who, as Tom Lehrer noted of the Old Dope Peddler, are "doing well by doing good." She did this in order to have the smooth-voiced charmer Bill Clinton appear on-stage at her own charity's fund-raising event, the charity in question being the Happy Hearts Fund, which has something to do with the victims of that famous tsunami of a decade ago.
There was a missed opportunity here. Instead of paying Clinton, in this indirect foundation-fashion, to appear, she might have agreed that if, instead of demanding a donation from Nemcova to the Clinton Global Initiative, it would be the Clinton Global Initiative that would make a donation to her Happy Hearts Foundation of the agreed-upon $500,000, she would make the two-backed beast with him that very night, or on any night of his choosing, depending on what was in their respective agenda-books. Nemcova could in this fashion have come out ahead by extra million (the $500,000 she did not have to donate, the $500,000 she received) for those poor kids she cares so much about, Clinton would have been very happy (one more thing not to tell the grandkids about), and a good time could be had by all. Or doesn't she care enough about those poor kids just to lie back and think of Hradcany Castle?
Why don't people think of these possibilities at the right time? Why is it always a case, not exactly of staircase wit, but of staircase solutions? Why didn't Bill Clinton think of it himself? Perhaps he did. And perhaps the you-scratch-my-back-and-I'll-scratch-yours behavior of the founders of these vanity foundations led to a decision by the two principals to keep secret -- oh people are so judgmental, aren't they? -- a clause that specified a piquant little lagniappe for the endlessly greedy, but also limitlessly ithyphallic, cheat and charmer, William Jefferson Clinton.
Bomb Threat at FIFA Headquarters Ahead of Anti-Israel Vote
Anti-Israel activists are likely to be behind a bomb threat made against FIFA's conference today. The JTA reports that a bomb threat closely coincided with a highly vocal anti-Israel demonstration outside the building, as well as the actions of an infiltrator (or perhaps more, according toanother report by RTE) who disrputed Sepp Blatter's speech, suggesting perhaps an effort to intimidate those casting a vote on whether Israel be expelled from FIFA:
A pro-Palestinian demonstrator was forcibly removed from the congress of FIFA, the world soccer federation, which is set to vote on suspending Israel as a member.
The female demonstrator, who waved a Palestinian flag while chanting slogans, was removed from the Zurich venue hosting the congress on Friday morning after she interrupted the speech of FIFA president Sepp Blatter. He asked security to remove her, the Dutch De Telegraaf daily reported. Shortly thereafter, the hotel hosting the congress was partially evacuated due to a bomb threat, which turned out to be false. The people who reported the threat to police did not say whether it was connected to the scheduled vote on Israel.
On the agenda for the 65th congress of FIFA, a 209-member body, is a Palestinian bid to have Israel suspend. The Palestinian soccer association filed it, citing alleged discrimination and restriction imposed on its players and members by Israel. […]
Blatter opposes the motion to suspend Israel and visited Israel and the Palestinian Authority earlier this month to hammer out a compromise that would avoid a vote. According to the Guardian, Israel agreed to some concessions but is refusing to comply with a Palestinian demand that the Israel soccer association boot five teams from West Bank settlements.
During our NER interview with University of California- Irvine alumna and former Anteaters for Israel leader, Ms. Reut Cohen, we asked her about her Jewish family background and their experience that brought them to Israel. What follows is an excerpt from the interview.
Jerry Gordon: What is your Jewish family background?
Reut Cohen: My family is Sephardic/Mizrahi, with deep ties to Israel. Both of my parents were born in Israel. Their parents are from the wider Middle East and North Africa. In my case, I was born in Israel, but pretty much raised in the United States. To me, the United States and Israel are a bit like a mother and a father. I have profound ties and deep commitment to both countries. At the same time, I am also highly aware of my ancestry, as a Jew of predominately Middle Eastern and North African origin (with some Italian and a bit of Ashkenazi and Ethiopian DNA sprinkled in for good measure).
My father’s family lived in Iraq. They were Jews and lived among other Jews, but identified as Iraqis and were proud to be Iraqis. After all, Jews had such a long presence in Iraq.
It didn’t matter how much they loved their country – many of our loved ones were killed. I like to think I come from a line of strong people. Three members of my father’s family went to fight with the Allies during WWII because they were reading reports about what was happening to fellow Jews in Europe. They never came back.
For the Jews who remained in Iraq, life quickly spiraled out of control as Arab nationalist fervor took hold.
Haj Amin al-Husseini, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem and one of the initial members of the Muslim Brotherhood, became a Nazi agent after meeting Adolf Eichmann, an architect of the Holocaust, in 1937. With Nazi funds, al-Husseini organized the 1936-39 Arab Revolt in the Palestine Mandate. In 1941, the mufti orchestrated a short-lived, Nazi-backed generals' coup in Iraq. The coup was followed by the Farhud, a vicious pogrom.
It's an event that is indelibly imprinted in the consciousness of Iraq's Jews. The Mufti obtained Adolf Hitler's assurance in November 1941 that, after dealing with the Jews of Europe, Hitler would treat the Jews of the Middle East similarly. In a two-day period, mobs rampaged in Baghdad and other Iraqi cities. At least 150 Jews were killed and more than 2,000 injured; some 900 Jewish homes were destroyed and looted; and hundreds of Jewish-owned shops were robbed and destroyed. My older family members recall witnessing how soldiers pulled small children away from their parents and ripped the arms off young girls to steal their bracelets; pregnant women were raped and their stomachs cut open.
My grandfather rescued his little brother when the violence began. My great-grandfather claimed to be a Muslim when Iraqi troops stormed their home. That was how he saved himself and his daughters, including my grandmother. Many of his neighbors weren't so lucky. Eventually, when being a Jew was practically criminalized, my father's family escaped to Israel with only the clothes on their backs – their belongings confiscated.
From 1949-52, more than 130,000 Jews left Iraq for Israel. Over the next couple of decades, almost all of the rest would follow, even though they initially thought they could stay.
One event that served as a catalyst to leave occurred Jan. 27, 1969. Baghdad Radio called upon Iraqis to “come and enjoy the feast” during grisly public hangings of 14 men, 11 of them Jews. Some 500,000 men, women and children danced past the scaffolds where the bodies of the hanged Jews swung; the mob chanted “Death to Israel” and “Death to all traitors.” Baghdad Radio ignored worldwide outrage by declaring: “We hanged spies, but the Jews crucified Christ.”
The last airlift of Iraqi Jews was in 2006. Rabbi Emad Levy, Baghdad's last rabbi, was last to leave. He described life there as “living in a prison.”
It’s with a heavy heart to see reports of what ethnic minorities are going through in these countries today. From the Christians to the Kurds to the Yazidis. And, let us not forget, peace-loving Muslims as well. May God help them.
It was the same thing in Syria and Algeria – modern Arab states in which I also have roots. In fact, in Syria, it was arguably worse because the persecution spread over a long period of time for those Jews who couldn’t get out. My grandmother did. She paid a Druze with some gold left to her by her deceased mother and came to Israel when it was still part of the Mandate. She was just 16 years old. And she was terrified, but left without recourse. She left the same year that Syria declared independence – 1946.
Attacks against Jews and their property were regular occurrences. They often culminated in bloody pogroms. A pogrom in 1947, for example, left all Aleppo Jewish-owned shops and synagogues in ruins. The Jews were declared "enemies of the government." Thousands of Jews fled that year, despite the Syrian government’s threats of imprisonment and murder against all those who dared to try to escape. As they escaped, local Muslims and authorities seized Jewish homes and properties. There would be nothing to go back to, though some tried (and failed) to go back in order to sell off assets.
Not everyone was so lucky.
Our family members experienced torture at the hands of Hafez al-Assad’s regime. My mother’s cousins were stuck in Damascus until the 1990s. I was far too young to comprehend it at the time, but today I understand that before they were freed, they had been prisoners in their country. They could be arrested on a whim and tortured. One male relative was tortured for years, accused of crimes against the government.
One female cousin never got out of Damascus. We don’t know what became of her.
And, in Algeria, it was expected that angry Arabs would take their frustrations out on Algerian Jews. There is a common thread here. North African Jewry also experienced concentration camps during WWII. In Libya, at the time an Italian colony, thousands of Jews experienced labor camps and concentration camps. Close to 600 died in these camps from hunger and disease. Special concentration camp for Jews has been established in Vichy-controlled Morocco. The Jews of Algeria were French citizens at the time, but were stripped of their rights, required to wear a mark identifying their religion, and subjected to admission quotas, even in primary schools. In Morocco, anti-Jewish laws were less rigorously enforced. However, Jews had civil rights but were not citizens of France. When the German army entered Tunisia together with a SS unit, they were tasked with applying anti-Jewish policy. Tunisia’s Jews were saved because in early 1943, military developments forced the Germans to retreat.
Jews of North Africa were far luckier than those in Europe, but the end goal was identical – to annihilate the Jewish people.
My family is indigenous to the Middle East. They are from communities that struggled. Many immigrated to a new country, expecting a land of milk and honey, but finding a miserably poor, new country created from the spoils of the Turkish Empire. Many of these people lived in transit camps for years. They helped to build a country that was poor and barely habitable. They were refugees with a plight that has gone largely unnoticed. But don’t think for a minute that they didn’t talk about what they went through. We just have to listen to them – especially now, when time is running out and so many within my grandparents’ generation are slowly passing away.
Thank you, Jerry, for taking an interest in this subject. It’s dear to my heart, especially now that all of my grandparents have passed away (prematurely). I promise, for their memories, never to shy away from sharing their experiences. It’s what they would have wanted.
College Commencement Season Makes You Think Of Only One Thing
It's Huxley College, with its ineffable President and faculty members, deliberately eliciting the same response -- hilarity -- that most, or almost all, or possibly even all, college commencements in these United States unwittingly do today.
Reut Cohen: Evidence of Islamic Antisemitism at the University of California at Irvine
In our NER June article, “How One Southern California Jewish Federation undermines Student Zionism at a State University, “a former Anteater for Israel (AFI) leader and UCI alumna, Reut Cohen discussed the abuses of her and other AFI members by members of the Muslim Students Union. However, Muslim extremist speakers who spoke during MSU-sponsored Israel Apartheid Awareness weeks provided the evidence. What follows is an excerpt from an NER interview with Ms. Cohen providing evidence and context for what she witnessed during her undergraduate career as an AFI leader.
Jerry Gordon: Under your leadership at AFI what actions occurred during what was Israel Apartheid Awareness week (IAAEW), now renamed Anti-Zionism Week, sponsored by the Muslim Student Union and Students for Justice in Palestine?
Reut Cohen: Speakers ranged from Amir Abdel Malik Ali to Ward Churchill. As you can probably gather, a lot of defrocked academics and radicals serve as MSU/SJP speakers.
Abdul Alim Musa and Amir Abdel Malik Ali, two radical imams, are no strangers to UC Irvine where they regularly spread their seething hatred of America, Israel and Jews on behalf of the Muslim Student Union. These speakers are involved with the As-Sabiqun movement which aims for Islamic revivalism and enabling Islam to take "complete control of ... the lives of all human beings on Earth.”
It may be worth noting that two days before 9/11 -- at a Sept. 9, 2001 fundraiser at UC Irvine on behalf of the cop-killer Jamil Al-Amin -- Musa said: “Imam Jamil coined a phrase, and that phrase meant this: ‘If you don't give us justice. If you don't give us equality. If you don't give us our share of America. If you don't stay out of our way and leave us alone, we’re gonna burn America down.”
During a May 9, 2007 “Islamic Revival” event at UC Irvine Musa discussed his belief that the U.S. carried out the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon:
When you hear about some bomber that blew up the World Trade Center or blew up this or blew up that, I'm telling you brothers and sisters, that is your CIA. That is your government blowing up people, blaming it on us … Didn't Adolf Hitler burn the Reichstag, blame it on the people and he became the Fuhrer and what happened? He could suspend civil liberties. And he could wipe out and he could war against all of his enemies. That's what Adolf Hitler did, isn't that right? He burned the Reichstag himself.... They blew up the World Trade Center, blamed it on us, and then come out with the PATRIOT Act and all these criminal laws. Right?
At the same event, Musa said:
Who ran the slave trade … who funded [it]? You’ll study and you will find out: the Jews … It was the Jewish bankers … in Vienna, with pockets full of money, funding and insuring, that’s who did it…. you can’t tell us about no holocaust. Between the African Americans and the Native Americans, everybody else’s stuff was [supposedly] small potatoes [according to Jews].
Some notable quotes from Malik-Ali moments during my UCI student days:
The enemies of Islam know that when we come back to power we’re gonna check ’em.
Stay conscious and ask Allah to raise the Muslims and give us victory over the disbeliever.
When it’s all over, the only one standing is gonna be us [Muslims].
Sooner or later, today’s Muslim students will be the parents of Muslim children. And they should be militants.
Neo-cons are all Zionist Jews.
Israelis ought to return to Germany, to Poland, to Russia. The Germans should hook y’all up. You [Israelis] should go back to Germany.
In America, you’re mostly fighting with your tongue, but you should also learn how to fight with the sword.
The group these gentlemen are involved with is outrageous. Founded in the early 1990s by Imam Abdul Alim Musa, As-Sabiqun (whose name means “The Vanguard” in Arabic) is a Sunni endeavor that seeks, through “an organized Islamic movement,” to establish Islam “as a complete way of life in America” -- “in total, complete, and uncompromised service of Allah.”
On July 4, 1994, As-Sabiqun enumerated its major organizational objectives in a document that stated, most notably:
We resolve to work with other communities (movements) … toward the end of harnessing the power of Muslims and their resources for the purpose of reestablishing the system of governance known as Khilafah, or the Caliphate, patterned after the leadership exemplified by Prophet Muhammad.
We resolve to utilize all the tools of Islam to develop an analysis and plan of action to totally and completely obliterate the hold of jahiliyyah [spiritual ignorance] and enable Islam to take complete control of our lives, and ultimately, the lives of all human beings on Earth.
We resolve to shape the ideas, beliefs, and moral viewpoints of the people into an Islamic mold. Toward this end we will … develop the comprehensive educational system that is necessary to inform, inspire, and direct the society toward Islamic revolution (or evolution).
We resolve to make Islam a living force by challenging and breaking the hold of social and political forces seeking to suppress and destroy Islam.
As-Sabiqun’s major ideological influences include the writings and crusades of Malcolm X, Maulana Mawdudi, Shaikh ‘Uthman dan Fodio, Sayyid Qutb, Kalim Siddiqui, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, and Muslim Brotherhood founder Hasan al-Banna.
Though As-Sabiqun is a Sunni entity, it has publicly voiced support for such Shi’a movements and organizations as the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran and the Lebanon-based terrorist group Hezbollah. According to Abdul Alim Musa, Muslims today ought not to engage in the "counter-productive" habit of focusing on the differences between Sunni and Shi’a Islam; rather, they should aim to unite in their struggle against non-Muslims."
The story of the Indian-American winners at this year's, last year's, the year before last and the year before that (und so weiter) here. It's an outlet and a sweet focus of attention on the part of young immigrant strivers.
One question immediately comes to some minds: But where are the similarly striving children of immigrant Chinese? To which a moment's thought provides the answer: some of those Chinese immigrants are still learning English, while the strivers among the Indian-American immigrants already have English.
But I have a different question. Why are all (judging by the names)of the Indian-American winners who are Hindus (or possibly, in some cases, Christian or Jain) or "of Hindu background"? I don't see a single name that suggests Islam to me. The educated Muslims (all those engineers and doctors we hear so much about for the supposed "ease" with which they integrate into American society, an attempt to suggest that under American conditions -- as opposed to those in Europe -- Muslim immigrants are far from being immiscible) who arrive from the subcontinent or England, surely speak English just as educated Hindus do. Is it possible that the indifference to anything outside of Islam, an indifference that Islam itself encourages or even inculcates, has something to do with this paucity or possible absence of Muslim spelling-bee-ers?
Question for study and discussion.
Meanwhile, just see if you can spell "naprapathy." And if you get that right, try "pseudocusis," then "moxibustion," then "geheimrat," then -- oh gosh, under the circumstances, this will be too easy -- "satyagraha."
Bikers to Hold Draw Mohammed Contest at Phoenix Mosque During Friday Prayers
Let the predictable Muslim victimization narrative begin. No doubt the police will be there to protect the mosque and harass the bikers. This protest is called Freedom of Speech Rally Round II.
On Friday, May 29, 2015, a group of bikers in Arizona plan to host an anti-Islam demonstration outside of the Islamic Community Center in Phoenix. Dubbed as “Freedom of Speech Rally Round 2,” a reference to American blogger Pamela Geller’s ‘Draw Muhammad’ cartoon contest in Garland, Texas earlier this month, the event, organized on Facebook, is described as a “response to the recent attack in Texas where 2 armed terrorists with ties to ISIS, attempted to kill a bunch of people.”
Prior to gathering outside of the mosque, the motorcyclists say they’ll meet in a nearby Denny’s parking lot, where they’ll have a “Muhammad cartoon contest.” They plan to take the images of Islam’s prophet to the Islamic Community Center at 6:15 that evening — a time when the Muslim community is expected to gather inside.
The rally’s organizer, Jon Ritzheimer, has called on the group to “to utilize there [sic] second amendment right at this event just incase our first amendment comes under the much anticipated attack.” He warns on the event’s Facebook page that the mosque is “a known place that the 2 terrorist [sic] frequented.” The would-be ambushers of Pamela Geller’s event in Garland are said to have worshiped there.
As of this morning, 660 people had signed up to attend the Phoenix rally.
Is the State Department Taking Seriously Reports of North Korea-Iranian Nuclear Cooperation?
North Korean Sohae Missile Launch site, November 2012
At today’s State Department Daily Press Briefing, spokesperson Jeff Rathke was asked by Matt Lee, AP White House correspondent about reports by the Paris-based Iranian dissident group, the National Council of Resistance in Iran (NCRI) about alleged North Korean meetings in Iran alleging discussions over nuclear program cooperation an ICBM developments. Reuters reported the NCRI group allegation that:
Citing information from sources inside Iran, including within Iran's Revolutionary Guards Corps, the Paris-based NCRI said a seven-person North Korean Defense Ministry team was in Iran during the last week of April. This was the third time in 2015 that North Koreans had been to Iran and a nine-person delegation was due to return in June, it said.
"The delegates included nuclear experts, nuclear warhead experts and experts in various elements of ballistic missiles including guidance systems," the NCRI said.
In response to AP’s Lee question Rathke said, “We are taking these allegations very seriously” citing various UN Security Council Resolutions sanctioning the proliferation behavior of the DPRK. That led Lee and other correspondents to inquire whether this would impact the current P5+1 negotiations in Vienna seeking to conclude a comprehensive Joint Plan of Action by June 30th. We posted yesterday that France’s Foreign Minister demanding that Iran agree to UN IAEA inspectors be given full access to military facilities for verification of prior developments.
Watch this C-SPAN video clip on the exchanges between State Department Jeff Rathke and AP’s Lee and other reporters at today’s Press Briefing:
The Reuters report gave indications of previous unverified reports about such cooperation between the DPRK and Iran:
The NCRI said the North Korean delegation was taken secretly to the Imam Khomenei complex, a site east of Tehran controlled by the Defense Ministry. It gave detailed accounts of locations and who the officials met.
It said the delegation dealt with the Center for Research and Design of New Aerospace Technology, a unit of nuclear weaponization research, and a planning center called the Organization of Defensive Innovation and Research, which is under U.S. sanctions.
Reuters could not independently verify the allegations.
"Tehran has shown no interest in giving up its drive to nuclear weapons. The weaponization program is continuing and they have not slowed down the process," NCRI spokesman Shahin Gobadi said.
U.N. watchdog the IAEA, which for years has investigated alleged nuclear arms research by Tehran, declined to comment. North Korean officials were not available for comment.
Several Western officials said they were not aware of a North Korean delegation traveling to Iran recently.
A Western diplomat said there had been proven military cooperation between Iran and North Korea in the past.
North Korean and Iranian officials meet in the course of general diplomacy. On April 23, Kim Yong Nam, North Korea’s ceremonial head of state and Iran's president held a rare meeting on the sidelines of the Asian-African summit in Jakarta.
My colleague Ilana Freedman and this writer have reported on Iranian and DPRK on both nuclear and ICBM developments and nuclear tests in NER and Iconoclast posts. In a March 2014, NER, article, “Has Iran Developed Nuclear Weapons in North Korea”, we cited Freedman reporting:
According to my sources, Iran began moving its bomb manufacturing operations from Iran to North Korea in December 2012. Two facilities near Nyongbyon in North Pyongan province, some 50 miles north of Pyongyang, have become a new center for Iran’s nuclear arms program.
Over the last year, Iran has been secretly supplying raw materials to the reactor at Nyongbyon for the production of plutonium. At a second facility, located about fifteen miles north and with a code name that translates to ‘Thunder God Mountain’, nuclear warheads are being assembled and integrated with MIRV platforms. MIRVs are offensive ballistic missile systems that can support multiple warheads, each of which can be aimed at an independent target, but are all launched by a single booster rocket. Approximately 250-300 Iranian scientists are now reported to be in North Korea, along with a small cadre of IRGC personnel to provide for their security.
According to the reports, the Iranian-North Korean collaboration has already produced the first batch of fourteen nuclear warheads. A dedicated fleet of Iranian cargo aircraft, a combination of 747′s and Antonov heavy-lifters, which has been ferrying personnel and materials back and forth between Iran and North Korea, is in place to bring the assembled warheads back to Iran.
In a June 2014, Iconoclast post, “Does Iran/ North Korean Nuclear & ICBM Development Preclude A P5+1 Agreement?” we cited a Wall Street Journal report by Claudia Rosett, journalist in residence at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, , Iran Could Outsource Its Nuclear –Weapons Program to North Korea. Rosett commented:
The pieces have long been in place for nuclear collaboration between the two countries. North Korea and Iran are close allies, drawn together by decades of weapons deals and mutual hatred of America and its freedoms. Weapons-hungry Iran has oil; oil-hungry North Korea makes weapons. North Korea has been supplying increasingly sophisticated missiles and missile technology to Iran since the 1980s, when North Korea hosted visits by Hasan Rouhani (now Iran's president) and Ali Khamenei (Iran's supreme leader since the death of Ayatollah Khomeini in 1989).
Rosett in the WSJ op ed lays out the case for what the NER article demonstrated was a plausible means of evading sanctions. The evidence for that we noted was North Korean/ Iranian cooperation with Assad’s Syria creating a plutonium reactor on the Euphrates at Al Kibar destroyed by Israel’s Air Force in September 2007. We drew attention to Iranian/ North Korean joint development of large rocket boosters sufficient to loft nuclear MIRV warheads and the likelihood that Iran might have that capability within a few years. In June 2014, The Algemeinerreported an Iranian official announcing that it possessed a 5,000 kilometer (approximately 3,125 miles) range missile that could hit the strategic base of Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean:
“In the event of a mistake on the part of the United States, their bases in Bahrain and (Diego) Garcia will not be safe from Iranian missiles,” said an Iranian Revolutionary Guard adviser to Iranian leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Majatba Dhualnuri.
In an April 15, 2015, Iconoclast post, “Obama Administration Knew of Illegal North Korea Missile Technology Transfers to Iran During Talks” we reported:
Bill Gertz has a blockbuster expose in today’s Washington Free Beacon of something we have been hammering away for years: the technology transfer of missile and nuclear technology between North Korea and the Iran, “North Korea Transfers Missile Goods to Iran During Nuclear Talks.” The stunning disclosure was that US intelligence has known about the illegal transfer in violation of UN arms sanctions, as apparently did the Obama Administration. You recall the statement that Undersecretary of State Wendy Sherman made before a Senate hearing in early 2014. Sherman said, “that if Iran can’t get the bomb then its ballistic missiles would be irrelevant.”
Gertz went on to report:
Since September more than two shipments of missile parts have been monitored by U.S. intelligence agencies as they transited from North Korea to Iran, said officials familiar with intelligence reports who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Details of the arms shipments were included in President Obama’s daily intelligence briefings and officials suggested information about the transfers was kept secret from the United Nations, which is in charge of monitoring sanctions violations.
While the CIA declined to comment on these allegations claiming classified information, others, Gertz queried said that “such transfers were covered by the Missile Technology Control Regime, a voluntary agreement among 34 nations that limits transfers of missiles and components of systems with ranges of greater than 186 miles.”
One official said the transfers between North Korea and Iran included large diameter engines, which could be used for a future Iranian long-range missile system.
The compilation of these reports and today's exchange at the State Department Press Briefing clearly raises the ante as to why in one reporter’s query, ‘our negotiators” haven’t simply asked Foreign Minister Zarif in Vienna is there such cooperation going on, backed up by the intelligence reports cited by Gertz and others? Our suspicion is that French Foreign Minister Fabius has better feed on Iranian nuclear and ICBM developments than our CIA. Or more likely is the Obama West Wing suggesting not to believe those lying reports in the President's Daily Intelligence Briefing? After all, President Obama, Secretary Kerry and Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman want nothing to stand in the way of an agreement with Iran, even it means evading the truth. Stay tuned for developments.
March Of Lycee Students In Support Of Freedom Of Expression
A student in a lycee wrote, last January, in support of Charlie-Hebdo. For his pains he received seven death threats from Muslims, some of those missives apparently containing -- ah! le bon billet de Castres! had nothing in common with them -- bullets by way of additional Muslim menace. Now there's been a rally, in support of this student who now must study at home, by fellow lyceens.
Great business news from Israel this week. Israel has become a veritable cyber ware super power. According to Ha’aretz, sales of computer and network security technology reached more than $6 billion in 2014, accounting for 10% of the global $60 billion market place. The other great news was the resignation on Monday, May 25th of Dr. David Gilo, head of the independent Israel Antitrust Authority. In his statement Gilo said:
My decision is a result of a number of considerations, most importantly the report that the cabinet, particularly the Prime Minister's Office, the Ministry of Finance, and the Ministry of National Infrastructure, Energy, and Water Resources, will do everything they can to push forward the currently emerging structure in the natural gas sector. I am convinced that such a structure will not lead to competition in this important market, and could possibly detract from the independence of the Antitrust Authority, a matter of public importance, and harm its ability to carry out unilateral measures
He had single handedly brought to a halt the development of Israel’s important off shore gas fields by the Israel-US partnership, Delek Group Ltd. (TASE: DLEKG) and Houston based Noble Energy , Inc. (NBL-NYSE) . The partnership had put up $6 billion in risk capital to develop the country’s offshore gas fields, achieving energy security, creating a potential wealth producing export market. Gilo stopped development of the giant Leviathan field in December 2014 when he reneged on a compromise deal reached earlier last year involving selling two existing smaller fields developed by the partners offshore in the country’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). While he resigned on Monday, May 25th, he won’t be departing until the end of August, 2015. Allegedly that would give him time to clean up his other consumerist initiatives. However, many believe based on his statement his real agenda was to take pot shots at the compromise plan being floated by the Ministries of Finance, Energy and Infrastructure, backed by Prime Minister Netanyahu for good and sound national security reasons. A legal opinion from the State’s attorney General provided authority for the government to develop and conclude the proposed agreement with the development partners. According to Globes, Israel Business, the compromise plan:
Requires Delek Group, Ltd. to sell all of its holdings in the Tamar natural gas reservoir within six years. Noble Energy, Delek Group's partner will be required to reduce its holdings in Tamar from 36% to 25%, and will be barred from marketing gas from the Leviathan reservoir to Israel. At the same time, the agreement leaves Noble Energy with control of both reservoirs as the company operating them.
As we have written in both NER articles and Iconoclast posts Gilo was seeking to do the impossible. To create competition by forcing the sale of one of the two major fields, the Tamar, hoping to induce foreign competitors to make investments for the completion of the giant Leviathan gas field and thereby lowering energy prices through competition. Problem with that misguided view was there were few if any takers. Further, it put into jeopardy signed agreements for delivery of gas from the existing Tamar field with the Palestinian Authority, Egypt and Jordan. Moreover the government killed a potential minority investment by Australian energy development firm, Woodside, PTY for development of LNG from the Leviathan field and delivery to the Asian market. As a result, Nobel is presently working with the Republic of Cyprus to develop an LNG processing and distribution complex to link up with the Republic’s Aphrodite offshore gas field adjacent to that of Israel’s Leviathan.
In the run up to the March 17th, Knesset elections, it was apparent that Gilo was grandstanding perhaps hoping that the Zionist Union opposition might win. If that occurred he could pursue his consent decree proposal accusing the partners of being a monopoly in violation of Israeli basic law. Instead, Gilo and entourage took off for a junket to Holland to see how the Netherlands handled their off shore gas fields development.
It quickly became apparent that the Netanyahu government was not going to abide by this high handed patently political move by Gilo. At stake is more than $76 billion in potential tax revenues that might be used to offset burdensome national and other social program expenditures .
Prior to Gilo’s resignation, the Netanyahu government reached out to Professor Eitan Sheshinski at Hebrew University who had developed the original tax plan in 2010 to produce revenues from oil and gas developments both onshore and offshore. Sheshinski was appointed as adviser to Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz, who he had worked with in the development of the original tax plan. He suggested in a Globes Israel Business interview that liquidation of the Tamar field ownership would not lower prices. Additionally he said that Gilo’s original intent of controlling prices was unproductive. Sheshinski was cited by Globes saying:
All in all, today's price is reasonable by the standards of Europe, and certainly at the level of the Far East. The price of gas in Europe is $8-10 per energy unit, and is about $15 in the Far East. Delek Drilling Limited Partnership (TASE: DEDR.L) and Avner Oil and Gas LP (TASE: AVNR.L) today reported that the average gas price in Israel in the first quarter of 2015 was $5.45 per energy unit.
Sheshinski also asserted that controls over natural gas prices might do more harm than good. "Controls give a lot of authority to a bureaucratic system, and experience does not justify optimism," he said, adding, "I don't see how the regulator in Israel can adapt himself to the many changes occurring worldwide in gas prices. You have to keep this as far as possible from the bureaucratic and political system."
Globesnoted the Finance Ministry’s compromise proposal for ‘soft pricing’:
The state proposed that the price of gas in future contracts be a weighted average of gas prices in the contracts that have already been signed in Israel.
Sheshinski’s assessment of the Gilo’s objective , liquidating the monopoly, that a duopoly would enhance price competition was wrongheaded:
Both global experience and economic theory explicitly state that anyone who thinks that a duopoly will cause perfect competition is wrong. In this matter, you also can rely on our experience in Israel. In a duopoly, the controlling shareholders have a common interest… some claim that a duopoly's prices are even worse than those of a monopoly.
He went on to address the current international markets impacted by a spike in US oil and gas fracking production:
In my opinion, the goal is to ensure that gas prices in Israel are not different from those prevailing in similar countries around the world. A revolution is now taking place in global energy prices. The US is becoming the world's biggest oil producer, and both oil and gas prices are on a downtrend. In my opinion, this trend will continue, and our goal should be not to pay more than the reasonable prices of countries in a similar situation with respect to gas reservoirs.
Another expert who happened to be in Eilat, Israel at an international conference this week was a law partner from the Washington, DC firm of Greenberg Traurig, Global Energy & Infrastructure Practice co-chairman, Kenneth Minesinger, “legal advisor of the Alaska state government in its negotiations with the oil and gas companies.” Minesinger had these comments in a Globes interview:
I've been advising the Alaskan government how to negotiate with the gas companies for decades. Like in Israel, two major reservoirs were discovered in Alaska: Prudhoe Bay and Point Thomson. The population there is small, and the gas industry is controlled by three companies.
Both Alaska and Israel are now trying to find out how to negotiate with the gas companies in a way that will safeguard the interests of the state and its residents, together with the gas companies' interests.
I think that it's necessary to act quickly in order to ensure development of the Leviathan reservoir, but hasty action motivated by panic isn't the right way. What's involved is an agreement that will ensure Israel hundreds of billions of shekels in revenue over the years, and serious consideration and the necessary time must therefore be devoted to this matter. In contrast to Alaska, the development project for the Leviathan reservoir is simple, but it is still difficult for an inexperienced country like Israel.
Minesinger pointed out that long term contracts must include development of a network of adequately sized pipelines connecting fields that are developed. Further, he suggested that pricing in such agreements should be formulaic and not based on a fixed single point basis. To overcome suspicions that developing companies might earn excessive profits Minesinger suggested distribution of profit sharing checks to Israel’s citizens akin to what Alaska presently does. He has also proposed to Alaska possible consideration of a state owned gas company.
The final comment on this week’s developments in the wake of the resignation of IAA head, Gilo, came in a Globes op ed from Norman Bailey, former Reagan national security aide and Haifa University policy expert, citing lessons learned:
The resignation of Prof. Gilo as head of the Antitrust Authority is undoubtedly good news. His reneging last December on the agreement he had made with the natural gas companies Noble, Delek and Ratio the preceding March had thrown the whole development of Israel’s offshore natural gas resources into confusion. The matter had already been badly handled by the government, which had driven out the Australian company Woodside, and Gilo’s retraction had put at risk the economic, financial and geo-political benefits of the gas discoveries. The government, after an unacceptable earlier draft, finally crafted a new, acceptable proposal over Gilo’s objections, which prompted his resignation. The lessons to be learned here are twofold: regulation is necessary but should not dominate at the expense of other relevant considerations; and agreements made should be honored, unless circumstances change fundamentally, which was not the case. Israel as a magnet for investment has been preserved.
We await announcement of an acceptable compromise plan to the parties involved to end this episode once again illustrating that rule of law must reflect economic market realities.
The Dalai Lama, A Long-Time Apologist For Islam, Can't Understand Aung San Suu Kyi
The Dalai Lama has a history of one-way dialogues with Muslims, in which he keeps saying the same thing: don't judge Muslims by a violent and unrepresentative (how does he know they are "unrepresentative"? what does he know about the texts, tenets, attitudes, atmospherics of Islam?) minority, and so on.
And over the past two years, qua Buddhist, and just yesterday, he has presumed to preach to Aung San Suu Kyi about the so-called "Rohingyas" (the Muslim Bengalis who, beginning in the period of British Burma and British India, drifted into Burma) and to "deplore" -- how happy the New York Times must have been to report this -- what he, and of course all right-thinking people, find to be her strange silence. But her silence is not strange, but admirable. She has said to the Dalai Lama, he complains, that things "are not so simple," that they are "more complicated" than he thinks.
What everyone is missing is that Aung San Suu Kyi is a very intelligent, strong-willed lady. And she will not be stampeded into what the herd demands of her -- that she "denounce the Burmese monks" for their "mistreatment of the Rohingyas." Her late husband, Dr. Michael Aris, taught at Oxford. He was a friend and colleague of the Professor of Sanskrit at Oxford, Ernst Gombrich's son Richard. And Richard Gombrich's son was also a friend of the late David McCutchion, whose field of special study were the temples and art of Bengal. And it was David McCutchion who saw what Muslims had done to Buddhists and Buddhist monuments, temples, stelae, statuary, in Bengal; it was David McCutchion who expressed the wish that Pakistan had never existed.
Aung San Suu Kyi doesn't need any lessons either from the Dali Lama, or from the editors of The New York Times, about Burma and the "Rohingyas." She knows something about them. And that distinguishes her from the undifferentiated mass or herd that is supposed to speak for the "international community" (as in "the international community deplores the behavior of the Burmese government toward the Rohingyas.")
She may ultimately succumb to such pressure but for now, she is standing firm, secure in her superior knowledge. She is, for this withstanding, to be admired and praised and, whenever possible, emulated.
The "Rohingyas" -- that's the name the Muslims from Bengal (that is, both West Bengal, and Bangladesh), who had a lot to do with first installing Bengalis in northern Burma, and then, after the British left, they continued to drift in -- are not part of this distinctive Burmese culture. They bring with them, they cling to as their sole identity, they defend and wish to promote, if they can, Islam. Burma, Burmese culture, so wedded to Buddhism, means nothing to them and they have no interest in the monuments or artifacts of Burmese culture.
The surprisingly informative Wikipedia entry on the "Rohingyas" quotes scholars such as Professor Andrew Selth, who support the Burmese contention that these people are self-named Bengali Muslims:
"Jacques P. Leider states that in precolonial sources, the term Rohingya, in the form of Rooinga appears only once in a text written by Francis Buchanan-Hamilton. In his 1799 article “A Comparative Vocabulary of Some of the Languages Spoken in the Burma Empire,” Hamilton stated: "I shall now add three dialects, spoken in the Burma Empire, but evidently derived from the language of the Hindu nation. The first is that spoken by the Mohammedans, who have long settled in Arakan, and who call themselves Rooinga, or natives of Arakan."
After riots in 2012, academic authors used the term Rohingya to refer to the Muslim community in northern Rakhine. Professor Andrew Selth of Griffith University for example, uses "Rohingya" but states "These are Bengali Muslims who live in Arakan State...most Rohingyas arrived with the British colonialists in the 19th and 20th centuries."Among the overseas Rohingya community, the term has been gaining popularity since the 1990s, though a considerable portion of Muslims in northern Rakhine are unfamiliar with the term and prefer to use alternatives.
Now about that Burmese culture that the monks, frightened at the spectacle of what the demographic explosion of Muslims wherever they have been let in has meant for the indigenous non-Muslims, are so concerned to protect -- for there is only one Burma -- here's something that I just ran across, for example, at a website about paper-making:
"Also on display is this paper made painstakingly from bamboo fiber with incredibly long preparation times. The paper is so specialized that the common person will never see this paper or know of its existence.
The wall text provided describes this incredible process:
This special bamboo paper is made for the process of beating bold into gold leaf. In Burma, the thin strips of gold are beaten by hand until they become so thin that the gold becomes translucent. The fold is beaten on a very strong substrate, which is the bamboo paper. A sandwich of paper, gold, paper, gold, etc. is made covered in deer skin, and then pounded with a 9 pound hammer for hours.
The lengthy and curious process of making the bamboo paper begins with retting the bamboo strips in lime for 3-6 years! Next it is boiled for 24 hours! Then it is beaten for 15 days! After a few more steps, the paper is finally made and it takes 20 minutes to make one sheet. The sheet is next cut into small squares, and then burnished with pointed sticks on a convex metal plate until the paper becomes translucent. This steps takes place underground. Finally the paper is sent to the goldbeating house where a thin piece of gold is placed on each sheet until a packet is made of about 600 sheets of paper interleaved with gold. Next it is beaten into gold leaf.
The only people that ever see this truly incredible paper are the people that work in the goldbeating house!
Should the Burmese be expected to accept this business of the "Rohingya people" -- so akin to that of the "Palestinian people" in its propagandistic value and essential emptiness -- in order to satisfy the likes of the Malaysian writer Thaw An, who may be of Chinese descent (he studied in Taiwan) but has become, in this matter, more Malaysian than the Malays -- or is he simply a Muslim Malay, determined to ignore the rights and claims of the indigenous people of Burma?
A senior female commander from Islamic State has told Sky News she has no doubt that three London teenagers who crossed into Syria in February were groomed by a team of social media experts in Raqqa.
The woman, who calls herself Um Asmah and who defected from IS just days ago, was the first person to contact foreign girls crossing the border. Her job was to introduce the new recruits to life under Islamic State's strict and brutal regime.
In her first interview, she says she was surprised by how young and naive Shamima Begum, Kadiza Sultana and Amira Abase were.
The 22-year-old says it was clear that while the girls were happy, they were unprepared for living life permanently veiled. One of the girls revealed her face to a driver and was immediately reprimanded and lectured on etiquette.
Um Asmah, whose relatives are senior IS commanders, says she delivered the girls to a base in Raqqa where they are now undergoing a four-month training regime for "special missions". Foreign fighters are taught to fight and oversee missions in Syria and Iraq - but with a specific plan, now revealed for the first time, to travel back to Europe and carry out attacks there.
Speaking in a secret location in Turkey, she says it is possible fighters are already being trained in Europe, but she confirmed most of the training was in Syria.
She says she is unsure where the girls are now, but doubts they have been married off to IS fighters "unless they wanted to". Asked if the girls will be allowed to return home, she said they will "never" go home and are more likely to "die in Iraq or Syria".
Sky News has obtained exclusive pictures inside the headquarters of the IS propaganda and grooming machine - an internet cafe where IS foreign fighters work shifts coordinated to timezones around the world where they have influence over specific nationalities.
Um Asmah says IS has a well-structured grooming system that can psychologically target vulnerable youngsters like the three British girls. "IS have the ability to manipulate the minds of young people. If they can convince foreigners, it is even easier to convince Arabs and Syrians.They have freedom and everything is available - they have no need to come to Syria but they do."
The woman says the girls are special to IS, but are not stars as they have plenty more girls from around the world - with more joining every month.
The fate of the three London girls has already been decided by the terror group, she says: "Everything is already decided for you and you cannot evade it or refuse it. You cannot have a mind of your own, you have to follow their orders."
In Yemen, The State Department Did What It Should To Prevent Visa Fraud
Here is an article by Tim Arango in The New York Times, on the supposed anguish of "Yemeni-Americans" who have had difficulties with holding onto their passports, or using them for travelling back and forth to Yemen, because of what is claimed to be, apparently, unwarranted mistrust by consular officials.
But the mistrust is not unwarranted. The article itself refers to the long and wide history of fraud in the obtaining of visas by people -- sous-entendu Muslims -- in the Middle East. . The article might have gone into details about the size of the fraud -- the false names given, sometimes in order to establish a phony family connection (the phony family reunification business, especially with Somalis, has been exposed through DNA testing but little done to send back the fake family members who managed to get themselves admitted), sometimes to hide a connection to groups or movements that American officials rightly worry about, sometimes to be able to get a passport in a false name that will be even easier, at a later date, to pass on, for money, to another person, by using the equivalent of "John Smith," which, given the handful of Muslim names, is not hard.
Note the photograph of Mohamed's sweet-faced grandchildren, playing -- what possible harm could come from them, or from their done-wrong-by grandpa -- those little girls whose inner Islam has not yet taken effect and transformed them into potential dangers to the people and the government of the United States, for the ideology of Islam and its effect on the minds of its adherents does not come out in such photographs, and besides, they are still children, and people -- grandpas, grandchildren -- are the same the whole world over.
And do not fail to note the last sentence, the one where "Mohamed" ringingly declares, as Tariq Ramadan does, as so many Muslims do, with an air of triumphant fanality, that "we are here, we are a mountain, we are part of the American landscape, we cannot be moved." How do you feel when you read that last sentence?
Oh, and one more thing. "Mohamed" claims he was "coerced" into "acknowledging" the fraud on his original visa application. But the article nowhere says, and "Mohamed" nowhere claims, that he did not, in fact, lie on his original visa application. In other words, he did lie, and the whole story is about someone who doesn't like the fact that the American government caused him to acknowledge that fraud.
That indignation at being forced to own up to his fraud, the State Department's recognition that the whole visa and greencard problem, not only in Yemen, but in all the Muslim lands, is rife with fraud (and this is true for all Western governments), the way in which his tale is told to evoke sympathy but should leave the intelligent reader cold, that Ramzi Kassem, the American Muslim eager to exploit the American legal system (so different from what the adherents of Shari'a admire), and who flings about a phrase -- "extrajudicial punishment" -- which is ordinarily used for executions -- grotesquely appling it to the attempt by American officials to enforce the government's immigration laws and regulations, the employment of the word "Asian" to hide the fact that it is not "Asians" but "Muslims" who are the object of such great solicitousness on the part of some organizations pretending to have other interests, and the frightening triumphalism of the Yemeni, who managed to obtain his American citizenship through means that the American government says broke the law -- "In this country now,” he said, “we’re like a mountain that’s part of the landscape, and there’s no way anyone can uproot us.”" -- these are what the reader will find, unless he is prepared to drop a ready tear on behalf of all of these complaining Yemenis, or "Yemeni-Americans," stay in the mind.
The story of the Baghdad mass-killingsof Jews is told here.
The story of how Jewish volunteers, including David Raziel, Jabotinsky's likely successor, came to Iraq and took on the most dangerous missions the British could give them, and managed to prevent the oilfields from falling into enemy hands -- Raziel was killed in the mission -- still needs to be told, as do many other such acts by Jewish volunteers, all over the Middle East, to whom the British entrusted such tasks but, after the war, never mentioned what had been done, and by whom.
Foreign aid scandal: UK money is 'STILL going to convicted Palestinian terrorists'
The Palestinian Authority (PA) has taken around £130million in foreign aid from the Department for International Development over the past five years.
The public cash is being used to help it fund its estimated £84million annual wage bill for convicted terrorists locked up in Israel, according to campaigners.
Palestinian Media Watch (PMW) claims that Britain may have been “intentionally misled” by the PA which last year claimed to have stopped the controversial payments but was later discovered to be channelling the cash through another political group.
MPs today called for the Government to suspend all aid to the PA until payments to convicted terrorists cease.
In a joint statement, Tory MPs Guto Bebb, James Morris and Andrew Percy said: “British taxpayers will be appalled to discover that the Palestinian Authority is handing their hard-earned money to convicted Palestinian terrorists.
“The PA should be strongly condemned for deceiving well-intentioned donor countries into thinking that it had ended this shocking practice.
An Analysis of Media Narratives on Present Circumstances in Gaza
Robert Shortt, Gaza, Prime Time, May 7, 2015 (RTE Screen-grab).
Ireland’s principle broadcasting institution, RTE, ran a series of news reports by journalist Robert Shortt, which are concerned with the current troubles that the people of Gaza face, in the aftermath of ‘Operation Protective Edge’, last year’s war between Israel and several terrorist groups based in Gaza.
Shortt’s reportage echoes many of the recent accounts of the situation in Gaza found in the mainstream media. His reports form the basis of this article’s broader thematic rebuttal of current media coverage.
The most substantive report, ‘Inside Gaza’, was broadcast on ‘Prime Time’, RTE’s premium current affairs programme, on May 7th 2015 (RTE incorrectly posts the date as May 8th). The segment begins at 9:57 in RTE’s Internet Player.
The report is introduced by David McCullagh, who accepted United Nations “estimates” of the civilian death toll, without mention of their true source — Hamas, which often used distorted figures for propaganda in the past.
“Last year Hamas and Israel fought a 50 day war in the Gaza strip. It was the third conflict in six years and the deadliest. The UN estimates that on the Israeli side 67 soldiers and four civilians were killed. On the Palestinian side, over 2,200 people were killed, including over 1,500 civilians, of whom 551 were children. Now many are warning that tensions are rising once again.”
Zaitoun Elementary School, 'New Crisis in Gaza', RTE News, May 9, 2015 (Screen-grab)
On the UN report: ‘attacking’ schools?
Shortt’s 11 and a half minute report highlights the suffering of children during and after the 2014 conflict. For example, he stated:
“Last July, Mara, her ten siblings, father, and mother, then heavily pregnant, fled the bombing of their home to find shelter in this UN school. Over a thousand people are still crammed into the classrooms of Zeitoun Elementary. Seven such centres were attacked by Israeli forces during the war causing 44 deaths, and 227 injuries.”
Shortt’s claim relates to the damage of seven schools studied in a UN Board of Inquiry report — its summary findings were issued on the 27th April. Shortt’s claim that Israel “attacked” seven UN schools is not credible. The report notes that one school (appertaining to ‘Incident (g)’ in the study) was not being used as a shelter, and the road outside another school (‘Incident (f)’) was struck, rather than the school itself. Moreover, the word ‘attack’ suggests an overt intentional wish to strike these UN civilian installations, which the UN report, although prejudicial in its own right, does not itself ascribe to Israeli actions.
Despite the specificity of the report, Shortt failed to properly identify the school in question. It may be an ‘United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East’ (UNRWA) school in Zeitoun (also spelt Zaitoun), called the ‘Shahada Al-Manar Elementary’, a site from which Hamas was identified to have fired weaponry, or ‘Zeitoun Preparatory Girls “B” School’. The UN report blames the IDF for a stray “projectile” striking the roof of the latter school, whilst stating that “militant activity was also noted” (Point D, 35) some hours earlier in the area, and that no IDF activity can be explicitly tied to the single strike. Therefore, to describe the school as having been “attacked” is misleading.
Shortt’s subsequent news report, discussed below, appears to reference the same building visually, but a sign identifies it as “Zaitoun Elementary Boys “B” School”, which was not one of the schools featured in the UN report, albeit related to the girls school of the same name. Shortt further remarks:
“Last week the UN dismissed Israeli claims that Hamas rockets were found in schools used as shelters but it admitted rockets were found in empty schools.”
Israel did not claim rockets had been found in schools actively used as shelters. Broad Israeli claims related to the use of active school shelters by terrorist groups, to launch attacks. Such claims were latterly disputed by witness testimony in the report but the conditions of the testimony can be deemed problematic with some justification, given potential conflicts of interest with the parties collecting it. Moreover, the word ‘dismissal’ is an undue and misleading description of the UN report’s findings. The UN report looked specifically at a small number of instances, namely those that involved UNRWA property (see Point 5 of the report), rather than provide an actual overview of the conflict:
“In its report, the Board noted that it was not within its terms of reference to address the wider aspects of the conflict in Gaza, its causes or the situation affecting the civilian populations of Gaza and Israel in the period before “Operation Protective Edge” was launched. Its task was limited to considering the ten incidents identified in its terms of reference.”
Furthermore it should be noted that inactive schools were not merely acknowledged to have been used for the storage of weaponry. Two of the three referenced sites were also used to fire against the IDF. Shortt’s report focuses on the area of Jabalia. The UN report notes an interesting event in relation to one of the area's local schools: it “was highly likely that an unidentified Palestinian armed group could have used the school premises to launch attacks on or around 14 July” (point 70) but Shortt does not appear to deem it necessary to mention such mitigating circumstance.
Shortt makes similarly misleading claims in an article on RTE’s site, which comes across as an apologia for the use of schools:
“Israel claims Hamas used school shelters to store rockets. But a report last week from the UN found the schools where rockets were located were empty and not the shelters where hundreds gathered only to come under attack once more.”
The UN report noted that the three schools in question were at summer recess so it is possible they could have been used if the war began at a slightly earlier date. They are designated civilian structures, so it is still a highly problematic matter to use them in war. Shortt et al. wish to dismiss the import of such unprecedented findings but they represent just a surface glimpse of long-established behaviour, e.g. from 2009:
‘United Nations Humanitarian Affairs Chief John Holmes told the UN Security Council, “The reckless and cynical use of civilian installations by Hamas and indiscriminate firing of rockets against civilian populations are clear violations of international humanitarian law.”’
The UN report’s findings add further credence to the long-expressed view that terror groups use human shields in civilian areas. The report only addressed three structures. An increasing number of international journalists have acknowledged that Hamas use human shields, while Ghazi Hamad, a representative of Hamas, grudgingly admitted they fired from civilian areas during the war, while civilians would have been resident.
It is time for the likes of Shortt, et al, to stop making excuses, whilst subtly inferring that Israel targets civilians intentionally, as per his claim (quoted above) that civilians were twice attacked by Israel.
The report mentions the failure of promised donations to materialise, but fundamentally blames the present problems on the blockade, with Siobhan Powell, of (UNRWA) echoing the notion. Shortt says:
“Israel imposed a blockade on Gaza after a violent split between Palestinians in 2007. Hamas has ruled Gaza since.”
It is not wholly accurate to describe Israel’s action as a ‘blockade’, other than with respect to its maritime activity, which cut off access to the sea beyond a six nautical mile zone, due to efforts to smuggle weaponry into Gaza. A blockade tends to be defined as “The isolation of a nation, area, city, or harbor by hostile ships or forces in order to prevent the entrance and exit of traffic and commerce.” UNRWA however notes that “Israel allows most goods into the Gaza Strip except for items it defines as “dual-use” materials which could have a military purpose.”
Israel allows some Gazan produce to be exported internationally, through its borders, and has assisted farmers in recent years with a variety of projects. Export levels remain small but have shown signs of increasing in the aftermath of the 2014 war, a situation that looks set to continue by addressing security issues.
Israel’s actions over land would be more correctly defined as a partial type of ‘embargo’, a forceful diplomatic measure adopted by some nations to limit its interaction with a given territory. Israel and the Palestinian Authority signed the Agreement on Movement & Access, allowing for free access of people and goods into Israel. However, after the 2006 elections, Hamas refused to recognise Israel’s right to exist or to curtail its violence, which led to the EU and the Quartet suspending assistance arrangements in Gaza. Hamas would then enter into a state of revolt by violently throwing off the legal structures of the Palestinian Authority in 2007, the interim arrangement toward forging of a new Arab state, with it concomitant security arrangements.
“In accordance with the agreements between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, entry by foreign vessels to this zone is prohibited. Israeli Notice 6/2008”
The embargo and naval blockade grew out of a worsening scenario with a belligerent seizing absolute control in a coup. As such it was and continues to be a justified measure, as the Palmer Report accepts.
Shortt on steel and cement
The limited reconstruction of Gaza should be blamed on Hamas and the international community for not ensuring that construction materials are utilised for their intended purpose. Shortt thinks differently:
“Rebuilding after a war is a huge task. Rebuilding after three wars in six years is a monumental task. Add to that a blockade and a temporary cease-fire, and it’s leading to frustration and a simmering sense of anger, which is stretching hope of return to any sort of a normal life here in Gaza to its limits.”
The destruction to some neighbourhoods nearer the Gaza border with Israel is considerable. The zones of conflict were limited however, so it is somewhat misleading to present all of Gaza as being in a near-complete state of destruction, and to present the entire enclave as being in need of reconstruction thrice-over, when there were substantive efforts to rebuild previously. In 2010 Israel significantly eased the embargo, allowing Gaza’s infrastructure to be improved, yielding results that were at times unexpected, given common perceptions of quality of life in the Strip. In 2013 Israel further eased restrictions on construction materials, until these materials were repeatedly found to have been exploited by Hamas for building terror-tunnels into Israel itself.
Shortt then presents, as an unsubstantiated claim, the notion that Hamas is using building materials to construct new tunnels to conduct assaults, when it is in fact rather more than just a mere accusation:
“Israel accuses it [Hamas] of continuing to use cement and steel to rebuild tunnels to launch attacks into its territory.”
The programme segment then leads to an apologia from a representative of Hamas. Dr. Hamad Ghazy, Hamas’ Deputy Foreign Minister, who, after indirectly justifying such acts as a defence, stated:
“We want to take precautions to prevent any possible aggression against our people, but ah we gave promises that all the building materials that come to Gaza go to people who need it. Hamas will not interfere.”
Despite the contradictory message, purposefully aimed at Western audiences, Hamas’ leaders have loudly pledged Hamas’ wish to build new tunnels, and rearm. Recent reports attest to an unpleasant reality that Hamas is intensifying its tunnel-building efforts, with the use of greater mechanisation.
Dual-use cement imports had been curtailed, due to its military usage. However, tens of thousands of tons of other building materials had been transported into the Gaza Strip since the end of the 2014 war, and Israel has in another respect liberalised the import of cement. UNRWA itself notes:
“Construction materials defined as dual-use are only permitted to enter for approved projects by international organizations and, since mid-October 2014, under the Gaza Reconstruction Mechanism (GRM), an agreement between the governments of Israel and Palestine, for private sector use. The GRM, to which UNRWA is not a party, allows for private sector imports, and hence for shelter self-help for large scale reconstruction which was not possible prior to the establishment of the GRM”
In another news report, entitled ‘New Crisis in Gaza’, broadcast on the RTE’s 6.1 (6 o’clock) and 9 PM news programmes, and otherwise repeated cyclically on the broadcaster’s ‘News Now’ channel, Robert Shortt states:
“In Gaza they call concrete ‘grey gold’. Building materials are in such short supply that people are literally taking sledge hammers to the remnants of buildings here, to extract the steel rods and break down the concrete rubble, in order to use it again.”
“The dull thud of sledgehammers can be heard as people break up collapsed concrete floors. Donkeys pull carts piled with twisted steel rods literally torn from the wreckage. Such is the shortage of building materials, Gazans are recycling everything they can use.”
Cement factory representative, 'New Crisis in Gaza', RTE News, May 9, 2015 (Screen-grab)
Shortt presents this story as if individual Arab-Palestinians are remoulding rubble with their bare hands. However, there is in fact an established localised industry recycling steel bars and concrete. Shortt indeed does mention a “concrete factory was destroyed during the war and rebuilt at a cost of four million Euro” but does not tie the point to the recycling of concrete.
To quote one pro-Palestinian source critical of Israel:
“Abu Ali Daloul is one of the main traders of recycled iron bars in Gaza. He bought tons of the iron bars removed from the rubble of the recent war. He fixes the bars and prepares them to be used again for construction purposes.
The concrete rubble are transported to stone breaking workshops in order to be turned into pebbles for use on road paving projects. Abu Lebda is a stone breading [sic] workshop which recycles concrete rubble and provides brick manufacturers with pebbles to make bricks with
Malaka concrete bricks factory brings the pebbles from Abu Lebda’s stone breaking workshop and puts the amounts in its stores hoping the cement to pass through the crossings to be able to produce bricks suffecient to rebuild Gaza.”
Moreover, the recycling of steel and concrete building materials has become commonplace the world over, for environmental reasons. Shortt, however, would sooner have the viewer believe that this is a remarkable, near-unprecedented phenomenon!
An anti-Israel NGO, called Gisha, reported in January that quite substantive amounts of concrete had entered Gaza since the end of Operation Protective Edge, but very little has been used to rebuild Gazan homes, despite the fact that Gaza’s residents are entitled to free building materials if their homes are damaged. The materials were in fact sold to Hamas, and requisitioned by Hamas.
Dr. Mona el-Farra
In the Prime Time report, Shortt proceeds to discuss the more personal effects of the embargo upon Dr. Mona el-Farra, a leading member of a highly partisan NGO called the ‘Middle East Children’s Alliance’ (MECA):
“But the blockade goes deeper. Gazans cannot travel freely across their borders. Dr. Mona el-Farra was prevented from travelling to Ireland in March to speak at a conference.”
The conference in question was organised by SIPTU in Dublin. SIPTU, Ireland’s largest trade union, has long pushed for a strong anti-Israel agenda, and supports a boycott. Some made a fuss of her non-attendance at the time. Sinn Féin-IRA leader, Gerry Adams, took up el-Farra’s cause with the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Charlie Flanagan, but the conference, far from advocating a fair just solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict, actually promoted a boycott of Israel, and a one-state solution, which would destroy the self-determination of the Jewish People, in a region that is otherwise Judenrein.
Therefore, it was no surprise that el-Farra proceeded to blame Israel for not letting her travel through its borders. She suggested it was because her voice is ‘loud’. However, neither she nor the programme makers noted that both Egypt and Israel denied her passage from Gaza, nor that both states have a right to control their borders, particularly when belligerent groups lie in wait beyond these barriers!
It should be noted that the Palestinian Authority constitutes the body responsible for the issuance of Gaza’s passports, as established in the Interim agreement with Israel. It is left unsaid in Shortt’s report, but Hamas has accused its Fatah/PLO rivals of frustrating the efforts of academics and campaigners to travel from the Gaza Strip, since 2008.
For the children?
Notably, Robert Shortt’s reports focused to a significant extent on the welfare of children. He states:
“Its against this backdrop of continuing violence and confrontational politics that children like Mara attempt to grow up.”
Like many Gazan children, she has seen the horrors of war. Psychological support has helped her re-adjust.”
“Dr El Farra was prevented from travelling to Ireland in March to speak at a conference on Gaza. Her main concern is the impact of the conflict on the children of Gaza.”
Dr. el-Farra comments further on the predicament of Gaza’s children, who suffer the effects of war:
“The direct impact is the children don’t sleep well at night, having nightmares. Different sorts of phobias. Some of them lost speech. Some of them are afraid of dark nights or back to bedwetting again.
Some cannot focus at school. They became very irritable and they cannot focus at school. And this of course has another effect which is social problems. Have restless children, quarrelous, aggressive children.
There’s no life at the moment in Gaza. You are coming as visitor but I live here, and I go everyday to the refugee camp areas, and I can see the frustration on peoples faces and souls and minds.
My concern is the youth. They will start looking for radical solutions, getting involved with more radical Islamist groups like ISIS”
In this context, Israel’s influence on Gaza, through embargo and war, is blamed for these disturbing behavioural traits. Oddly however, neither el-Farra, or the programme makers, mentioned the extent to which Hamas radicalises Gaza’s children, with thousands of youngsters going to training camps. Even some Gaza-based anti-Israel NGOs are objecting to Hamas’ use of children in this way:
“local human rights groups are accusing Hamas of exploiting children for political purposes.
“We are not disputing the right of an occupied people to resist, but it must be done by adults, not children,” one human rights activist told AFP, speaking on condition of anonymity.
“The camps are making young people aggressive instead of educating them and teaching them to abide by the law,” the activist said.”
Thus, problematic unsocial behaviour in children can equally be attributed to radicalisation. Hamas and other Arab-Palestinian factions have engaged in such behaviour, which is illegal under international law. The issue is far from recent, e.g. with the use of children in the First Arab Revolt of 1936.
Despite el-Farra’s/MECA’s professed wish to see the welfare of Arab-Palestinian children improve, the vocal defence of terrorism, and use of children for emotive conflict propaganda, may explain why they turn a blind eye to the abuse of children on their very doorstep, an abuse that even has expression in Gaza’s media. “Every Muslim mother must nurse her children on hatred of the sons of Zion” is one of Hamas’ many statements on the desired outcome of parenting.
Schools have long been a source of radicalisation in the Arab-Palestinian territories. Even children attending UNRWA’s own putatively civilian schools can experience the force of radicalisation. The headmaster of Zeitoun Elementary Boys school openly celebrates genocide and massacre. Shortt visited the school but seemingly such behaviour didn’t deserve mention!
El-Farra frets about the possibility of Islamic State becoming popular in Gaza. While the Western media presents ISIS in justifiably strong terms, due to its extraordinary bloodlust, Hamas’ speech is notably more extreme with respect to its advocacy of the genocide of all Jews, leading to the distinct possibility that the Sunni group’s bloodlust is only impeded by arguably the most sophisticated counter-terror force in the world.
Does responsibility lie with Arab-Palestinian rule?
Shortt’s coverage suggests Israel treats Gazans worse today than say a year ago. Arguably the opposite is the case. Shortt failed to report on various developments. For example, Israel facilitates the mass transit of construction materials into Gaza. Israel is doubling the water delivery to Gaza, after a crisis due to illegal drilling in the Strip’s coastal aquifer. Israel is also helping to increase the supply of electricity in the region, and may have indirectly engaged in discussions with Hamas, to construct a pipeline going from the Jewish State to Gaza to reinforce the electricity supply.
It is of course stating the obvious to say there are very limited opportunities for the people of Gaza, and that many are likely to feel a deep sense of despair. However, although conditions are extremely challenging after the damage caused by war, further Israeli initiatives, for business and reconstruction, were initiated during the latter months of 2014.
Shortt focuses on Israel’s blameworthiness for the present circumstances blighting the Gaza Strip, but what of Hamas and the Palestinian Authority themselves? The viewer only hears mention of “dysfunctional Palestinian politics”. Perhaps he hints at a topic that goes beyond Hamas’ rejectionist stances. He may refer to factionalism and corruption but viewers are not advised even though it relates strongly to the topic at hand. Is blameworthiness attributable to non-Jews of less interest to the viewer?
It is acknowledged that political factionalism has played abidingly negative role on conditions in Gaza from the very outset.
Other than previously mentioned issues, such as the dispute over passport issuance, there have been continued disagreements between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority over the payment of trans-state energy bills, which has resulted in power cuts of up to 18 hours per day. Such a measure would have a profoundly destructive impact on any economy. Likewise, the PA is believed to be intentionally slowing the payment of wages to State employees in Gaza, which constitute a substantive source of revenue to the localised economy. Lack of pay for many months has led to protests. There have been reports that Hamas is imposing another tax on imports, the monies from stressed private sectors will go into the pockets of long-unpaid members of Hamas.
Hamas have claimed that the Palestinian Authority demanded control of 50% of the monies pledged by international donors, to aid reconstruction in Gaza, whilst also stating that they rebuffed an Israeli offer to lift the embargo, and open up Gaza’s territory for shipping and air travel, in return for a long term truce. Both Fatah/PA and Hamas have of course their own agendas in attempting to commandeer billions of dollars in promised international aid.
Shortt on facts?
As we have seen, Shortt’s capacity to place blame on Israel was achieved due to significant omissions of basic fact inconvenient to his narrative. Shortt closed his Prime Time report with these troubling sentiments:
“Gaza is hemmed in by the sea and Israel. Its people are caught between dysfunctional Palestinian politics and the constant threat of war. The tide of violence breaks regularly here. Summer is coming. People fear what it may bring.”
Tellingly, Shortt made no mention of the fact that Israel’s embargo and maritime blockade is made in partnership with Egypt. This is a normative approach for the media, which largely ignores Egypt’s crucial role. Egypt has long appreciated the threat that Hamas poses to its security, as a military faction of the long proscribed Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood. Whilst the Arab nation did temporarily allow access through its borders, Egypt’s policy had broadly been harsher than that of Israel, giving little assistance at all.
Be that as it may, conditions for the people of Gaza are harsh. Siobhan Powell of UNRWA stated:
“There are no jobs so people can’t provide food for their families. It’s why we have such a dependency on assistance.”
Such a claim is an exaggeration, with the employment rate of Gaza largely remaining at 55% in recent years. Beyond the hyperbole, it is one of the highest rates in the world. The international community, including UNRWA, et al, blame Israel for such circumstance. And yet, in Israel’s defence, it does foster assistance programmes, continues to provide water and electricity (sometimes at its own peril), and supplies the assistance that keeps Gaza fed, the fuel to provide comfort and transport, and the materials to at least tentatively rebuild.
Shortt’s closing statement illustrates the problem with these normative media narratives — they flatly refuse to place any meaningful blame at Hamas’ door. Any sensible evaluation would surely conclude that when Israel withdrew from Gaza, Hamas, via the electorate’s assistance, took the opportunity to perpetuate conflict. Israel had to act to cut off a lethal belligerent operating freely on one of its borders.
The international community decry the wars with Hamas, and they decry the suffering of the populace. A highly vocal number claim that Israel should release Gaza from its embargo, and somehow peace will be found! All such a strategy will do is give Hamas carte blanche to wage a greater scale of war. As a result, Gaza’s civilians and the Israeli populace near Gaza’s border, will suffer all the more. There is no option for peace, other than Gaza being rid of Hamas, but the common ideological blind spot, which Shortt appears to suffer from, has to blame Israel for not only for its own legitimate defensible actions, but for the pain Hamas visits on the populace that voted it in on a mandate of continued strife.
“We shall not rest until our entire holy land is liberated … To the Zionists we promise that tomorrow all of Palestine will become hell for you” (Memri)
Is it Game Over for the P5+1 Deal with Iran’s Nukes?
Negotiators of Iran and six world powers face each other at a table in the historic basement of Palais Coburg hotel in Vienna April 24, 2015.
Reuters has two reports on negotiating hiccups possibly forestalling conclusion of the P5+1 deal with Iran and its nuclear program. One report indicates another possible extension of the ‘final agreement’ deadline beyond June 30th . A related re port reveals a stiffening position of France, that there will be no deal unless full access is provided to military facilities. As we have heard previously, that is verboten according to Iran’s Supreme Ruler. Thus, are we witnessing the a denouement or simply kicking the can down the road. Either way, President Obama’s legacy of an opening to Iran may be slipping from his grasp. Doubtless that may bring up short those EU and US companies poised to partake tens of billions in development deals under discussion with Islamic Republic should economic sanctions be lifted under the proposed P5+1 deal. If the diplomatic deal is cratering, it leaves the question of whether this a momentary speed bump or a finality? If the latter what options would the US and especially Israel have to deter Iran’s quest for nuclear hegemony?
On the matter of a possible delay in the P5+1 deadline, Reuters noted:
A self-imposed deadline of June 30 for Iran and six major powers to reach a final nuclear deal to resolve a decade-long standoff may be extended, Iran's state TV reported.
France's ambassador to the United States, Gerard Araud, said on Tuesday that the deal was not likely by June 30 because technical details would remain to be agreed.
"The deadline might be extended and the talks might continue after the June 30 (deadline)," Iranian senior nuclear negotiator Abbas Araqchi was quoted as saying.
"We are not bound to a specific time. We want a good deal that covers our demands."
Ambassador Araud said it could take a few weeks of July to complete the technical annexes that are envisaged under an agreement if one can be reached.
Iran and the six powers resumed talks in Vienna on Wednesday to bridge gaps still remaining in their negotiating positions ahead of the deadline.
"The meetings on deputy negotiators level take place in the context of the E3/EU +3's diplomatic efforts towards a negotiated, comprehensive solution to the Iranian nuclear issue," the EU said in a statement.
Once, France’s redoubtable Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius exhibited toughness in these negotiations by going public with a demand that could be a deal killer:. Reuters reported:
France's foreign minister said on Wednesday his country would not back any nuclear deal with Iran unless it provided full access to all installations, including military sites.
"France will not accept (a deal) if it is not clear that inspections can be done at all Iranian installations, including military sites," Laurent Fabius told lawmakers .
Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei last week ruled out international inspection of Iran's military sites or access to nuclear scientists under any nuclear agreement. Iran's military leaders echoed his remarks.
Fabius said he wanted other countries negotiating with Iran in the framework of the so-called P5+1 - also including Britain, China, Germany, Russia and the United States - to adopt France's position.
"'Yes' to an agreement, but not to an agreement that will enable Iran to have the atomic bomb. That is the position of France which is independent and peaceful."
However, it would be premature to exhibit schaden freude until a possible declaration occurs. The P5+1 side is stacked with cunning appeasers intent on cutting any deal that allows them to achieve economic bounty from development deals, while Iran gets away with an unverifiable and "very bad deal", as Israeli PM Netanyahu and many GOP members of Congress have said innumerable times. They may have their limited opportunity to vote on a deal under the recently passed bi-parrisan INARA, leaving President Obama to trump their possible negative vote with a veto. But first let's see if a final agreement is in the offing sometime in July or later. Stay tuned for developments.
Aren't you thinking about how different was the reaction of the "international community" to the constrained, carefully-targetted bombing by the Israelis in the Gaza campaign, when many times an attack would be called off if civilians were spotted. It was indignation, outrage, fury, horror.
For months the Saudis have been bombing at will, the richest Arab country destroying so much of the poorest. And the Houthis are not people who pose the kind of threat to Saudi Arabia that Hamas posed to Israel; they pose no real threat at all. The Saudis just don't like them increasing their power in parts of Yemen, and don't care,of course, that it is only the Houthis who are prepared to attack Al Qaeda. The Saudis don't care about Al Qaeda, because Al Qaeda is focussed on the West, not the Al-Saud. Saudi and other Arab warplanes, knowing the Houthis have no way to fight bac, bomb at will, every day, wherever they feel like it. They bomb military installations, but also bomb civilians. They don't care. They aren't about to call off any bombing runs. They'd just as soon destroy as many of the Shi'a in Yemen as they can. Why? It cannot be argued that the miserable Yemeni quasi-state, whether controlled by the Houthis or not, could be a threat to Saudi Arabia, the largest arms buyer in the world, with hundreds of billions of dollars in weaponry, and the American government apparently permanently in its pocket.
But why is there no protest in the "international community" ? Where even do you find a palpable sense of unease at Saudi behavior and attitudes?