Archive for December 10, 2017

After Anti-Israel Rally, Swedish Synagogue was Firebombed

December 10, 2017

After Anti-Israel Rally, Swedish Synagogue was Firebombed, The Point (FrontPage Magazine), Daniel Greenfield, December 10, 2017

If only it wasn’t for Trump, I’m sure he would be dancing the hora and discussing how much he loves Jewish and not smashing Jewish store windows. We should never hold anti-Semites responsible for anti-Semitic violence. Instead we must blame Jews and their supporters for causing it by refusing to die. Just ask J Street, JVP, If Not Now and the rest of the gang.

***************************************

Don’t worry, firebombing a synagogue is anti-Zionist. Not anti-Semitic. Just ask the National Socialists. Or the plain old Socialists. Or the Islamofascists.

Pro-Palestinian Arab demonstrators on Saturday night threw a firebomb at a synagogue in Gothenburg, Sweden, local media reported.

According to the report, about 20 Muslim protesters who were demonstrating against U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel are responsible for the attack.

The attack took place as Jewish students were holding a party inside the synagogue. A firefighter who was called to the scene told a Swedish news site that a fire had broken out between parked vehicles in a car park outside the synagogue.

Dvir Maoz, a representative of the World Bnei Akiva movement in Gothenburg, who witnessed the incident, said, “It happened at 10:18 p.m. Sweden time. There was a youth party inside at the time. Before the party I sat in the lobby with one of the security guards, we talked a little bit and as we were talking, I saw fire, so I told the security guards that a firebomb had been thrown at the building. They called the police. The youths were scared. This was the first time they had experienced any form of terrorism so close to them.”

“The police came, they cleaned the place, and they checked to make sure that everything is in order. The parents came and took the children home. There were a few children who were very stressed. One of them told me that he was feeling very unsafe. Another told me casually that because he has a very Jewish name, it causes Arabs in his school to curse him, harass him and spit on him. It’s very hard for him,” continued Maoz.

“I live ten minutes away. Relatively close. At the same time, I cannot say that we feel an increase in anti-Semitism every day,” he concluded.

Clearly, it’s Trump’s fault.

On Thursday, a man wearing a Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) flag smashed the windows of the kosher HaCarmel restaurant, which is located in a heavily-Jewish part of Amsterdam.

The suspect smashed the window and kicked down the restaurant’s doors before police officers who were on the scene arrested him.

If only it wasn’t for Trump, I’m sure he would be dancing the hora and discussing how much he loves Jewish and not smashing Jewish store windows. We should never hold anti-Semites responsible for anti-Semitic violence. Instead we must blame Jews and their supporters for causing it by refusing to die. Just ask J Street, JVP, If Not Now and the rest of the gang.

IDF uncovers and destroys another Palestinian terror tunnel 

December 10, 2017

Source: IDF uncovers and destroys another Palestinian terror tunnel – DEBKAfile

Another Palestinian terror tunnel was discovered by Israeli forces and blown up Sunday Dec. 10. It ran from Khan Younes in the southern Gaza Strip, penetrating several hundred meters inside Israel from the Gazan border, DEBKAfile’s military sources report.

The tunnel had its exit in the middle of Israeli farmland just one kilometer from Kibbutzim Nirim and Ein Hashlosha. IDF watchers had kept track of the tunnel’s constriction for some months. This is why the IDF declared several parts of the border region off-limits and boosted the military presence there.

On Sunday, in the wake of the Hamas rocket attack on Israeli civilian locations Friday night, the decision was taken to neutralize it. The technical means of destruction ran deep inside the tunnel under Palestinian territory. The soldiers ascertained that it was empty of Hamas builders.

They found it to be fully equipped for terrorist operations, with walls of reinforced concrete and communications gear.
The OC of the IDF’s southern command Maj. Gen. Eyal Zamir warned Hamas Sunday that by violating Israeli security and escalating violent tension, it is putting its own Gaza citizens in harm’s way. The tunnels Palestinian terror groups are digging from Gaza are a violation of Israel territory, he said, and will be death traps for those who build them. “We possess a broad range of overt and covert capabilities” for foiling these subterranean threats against our country, he said. The Southern Command is ready, every tunnel will be destroyed and we shall not hesitate to do what is necessary to protect our citizens and the people living next door to the Gaza Strip.”

The Palestinian terrorist tunnel destroyed as it ran into Israel was the second in recent weeks. The first, belonging to the Jihadi Islami was blown up on Oct. 30, before it could be used, leaving 19 Jihad and Hamas activists dead.

Elevated Christmas threat to Americans from returning Islamic State jihadis

December 10, 2017

Elevated Christmas threat to Americans from returning Islamic State jihadis, Jihad Watch

(But Jihadists like to celebrate Christmas too.

Don’t be Islamophobic.– DM)

 

The United States is gripped by an “elevated threat” as the Christmas holiday approaches posed by homegrown violent extremists seeking to carry out “stray dog attacks” on behalf of the Islamic State warned a top U.S. national security official.

Robin Taylor also blamed the threat on the “pressure the U.S.-led coalition and their allies are applying on the jihadist organization in the Middle East.”

Kudos to the coalition. Jihadists everywhere are a global menace. The more success they have, the more emboldened they become. This is why appeasement never works with jihadists.

But the US and other allied forces should have long ago anticipated their return and taken aggressive measures to track them and prosecute them. Unfortunately this did not happen.

Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau referred to returning Islamic State jihadis as “foreign terrorist travelers” who are traumatized. He plans to give them “reintegration support,” an impossible venture funded by taxpayers. In Britain, ISIS fighters will “be offered taxpayer funded council homes and counselling to stop them attacking the UK,’” thus putting them “to the top of council house waiting lists and offered counselling.”

Western notions of reintegration and counseling for mujahideen are highly unrealistic. They’re proposed by leaders to appear as if something is being done. It was also reported by Jihad Watch that returning Islamic State fighters were planning attacks on Christmas holiday travelers to Trinidad, a country that was reported to have the highest ISIS recruitment in the Western hemisphere.  Jihad Watch covered the threat to holiday travelers, which was cited by Minister of National Security, Edmund Dillon, at a recent Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Counter-Terrorism Strategy conference, of twenty Caribbean countries, according to the Trinidad Express.

Trinidad Member of Parliament Rodney Charles levied a criticism to Trinidad’s Prime Minister Keith Rowley that generally applies to Western leaders:

This government has no clue as to who left T&T for Syria, when they left, how many left, what are their connections back home, how they were recruited, who financed their travels, where our jihadists went, which battles they fought, what military skills they now possess, who died, who were captured, when will survivors return, and what we will do with them upon their arrival.

“Where are our plans Dr. Rowley? Stop the blame game and start working,” Charles said.

Western citizens everywhere remain in grave danger from these returning “stray dog jihadists,” and our leaders are at a loss to deal with them.

“Christmas Menace: U.S. Facing ‘Elevated Threat’ from Homegrown ‘Stray Dog’ Jihadists”, Edwin Mora, Breitbart, December 8, 2017:

WASHINGTON, DC — The United States is gripped by an “elevated threat” as the Christmas holiday approaches posed by homegrown violent extremists (HVEs) seeking to carry out “stray dog attacks” on behalf of the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL), warned a top U.S. national security official.

ISIS has been able to retain its ability online to mobilize “HVE lone offenders attacks” against the United States even as its so-called caliphate in Iraq and Syria “collapses,” Robin Taylor, a top intelligence official at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), told the Senate Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs Committee during a hearing Wednesday.

Lora Shiao, the acting director for intelligence at the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC), a component of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), further declared that despite the losses the group has suffered in Iraq and Syria, its social media reach remains “unprecedented.”

On Wednesday, Shiao told the Senate panel while testifying alongside Taylor:

We do not think battlefield losses alone will be sufficient to degrade its terrorism capabilities. As we have seen, the group has launched attacks in periods when it held large swaths of territory and when under significant pressure from the defeat-ISIS campaign.

In addition to its efforts to conduct external attacks from its safe havens in Iraq and Syria, ISIS’s capacity to reach sympathizers around the world through its robust social media capability is unprecedented and gives the group access to large numbers of HVEs.

The online menace posed by ISIS remains persistent, stressed Taylor, the acting deputy undersecretary for intelligence operations at the DHS office of intelligence and analysis, telling lawmakers:

ISIS members continue to attempt to recruit and radicalize to violence Homegrown Violent Extremists (HVEs) through social media. The reach and popularity of social media has enabled HVEs to connect more easily with terrorist organizations, such as ISIS.

We assess there is currently an elevated threat of HVE lone offender attacks by ISIS sympathizers, which is especially concerning because mobilized lone offenders present law enforcement with limited opportunities to detect and disrupt their plots.

Mark Mitchell, the Pentagon’s acting assistant secretary of defense for special operations/low-intensity conflict who also testified, said that ISIS would likely increase its reliance on its online capabilities as it continues to lose on the battlefield.

In his written testimony, Mitchell stated:

As ISIS loses territory in Iraq and Syria, its operations will become more distributed and more reliant on virtual connections. Their terrorist cadres will migrate to other safe havens where they can direct and enable attacks against the United States, our allies and partners, and our global interests.

They will also continue to radicalize vulnerable individuals and inspire them to conduct “lone wolf” (or “stray dog”) attacks. We will continue to see ISIS and al-Qa’ida threats to our homeland, as well as our allies and partners, from locations in Afghanistan, the Middle East, Africa, Southeast Asia, and the Balkan States, among other locations.

The DHS official proclaimed that the al-Qaeda (AQ) terrorist threat still grips the United States more than 16 years after America’s war on terror began in response to the September 11, 2001, attacks.

Taylor revealed in his written testimony:

Core AQ and its affiliates remain a major concern for DHS. Despite the deaths of many AQ senior leaders, the group and its affiliates maintain the intent, and, in some cases, the capability to facilitate and conduct attacks against U.S. citizens and facilities. The group and its affiliates have also demonstrated that capability to adjust tactics, techniques and procedures for targeting the West.

Despite the near collapse of the so-called ISIS caliphate in Iraq and Syria, the threat posed by the terrorist group is “evolving” as the jihadist organization desperately tries to maintain its strength and influence, noted Taylor, telling Senators:

ISIS fighters’ battlefield experience in Syria and Iraq have armed it with advanced capabilities that most terrorist groups do not have. Even as the so-called “caliphate” collapses, ISIS fighters retain their toxic ideology and a will to fight. We remain concerned that foreign fighters from the U.S. or elsewhere who have traveled to Syria and Iraq and radicalized to violence will ultimately return to the U.S. or their home country to conduct attacks…..

Newsflash: Jerusalem Not on Fire!

December 10, 2017

Newsflash: Jerusalem Not on Fire!, Gatestone InstituteBassam Tawil, December 10, 2017

(Please see also, Palestinian protests won’t swell into mass resistance so long as Arab rulers and Iran see no gain. — DM)

“More journalists than protesters…” — Björn Stritzel, German journalist.

Protests against Israel and the US are not uncommon on the streets of Ramallah, Hebron and Bethlehem. But for the “war correspondents,” there is nothing more exciting than standing behind burning tires and stone throwers and reporting from the heart of the “clashes.” Such scenes make the journalists look as if they are in the middle of a battlefield and are risking their lives to bring the story home to their viewers. They might even receive an award for their “courageous” reporting from danger zones!

Jerusalem is tense, and has long been so, because the Palestinians have not yet managed to come to terms with Israel’s right to exist. That is the real story. The Palestinians rage and rage for only one reason: because Israel exists. Put that in a story and publish it.

The Palestinians declared a three-day-long “rage” spree over US President Donald Trump’s announcement recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Thus far, however, it seems that the real anger is showing up in the international media, not on the Palestinian street.

Question: How many foreign journalists does it take to cover the Palestinian reaction to Trump’s announcement? Answer: As many as the Israel-Palestinian-conflict-obsessed-West can manage to send.

The massive presence of the international media in Jerusalem and the West Bank has taken even the Palestinians by surprise. Since Trump’s announcement on December 6, dozens of additional journalists and camera crews have converged on Israel to cover “the big story.”

The American Colony Hotel in Jerusalem, once a favorite haunt of international reporters, is once again packed with journalists from around the world.

Some of these reporters, including those working for American networks, have been flown in from their working posts in London, Paris, Cairo and New York to cover what many of them are already calling the “New Palestinian Intifada.” But is it really a new intifada, or is it simply wishful thinking on the part of the swarm of Palestinian and foreign reporters?

In the past few days, we have seen wild exaggeration in the media as to what is really happening in and around the Old City of Jerusalem. What is evident, however, is that the number of journalists and photographers covering the protests in the city has thus far exceeded the number of Palestinian protesters.

Let us start with Friday, December 8, the final day of the announced Palestinian “rage.” The Palestinian Authority, Hamas and other Palestinian groups told us to expect mass rallies and protests after Friday prayers at the Al-Aqsa mosque compound. So did the reporters.

By early morning, at least six television production trucks were stationed in the small parking lot outside the Damascus Gate, the main entrance to the Old City of Jerusalem. The trucks belonged to various television stations were presumably brought there to film live broadcasts of the anticipated mass protests. Another 70-80 journalists and photographers were waiting, some impatiently, for the Muslim worshippers to finish their prayers and start their protests against President Trump’s announcement.

What we got in the end was a small and peaceful protest of some 40 Palestinians, who chanted slogans against Israel, the US and Arab leaders — including Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas, who was dubbed a “traitor” and “Israeli spy.”

Björn Stritzel, an honest and brave German journalist, tweeted from the scene: “More journalists than protesters after Friday prayers.”

The media frenzy was echoed by several other reporters. “Three days of ‘rage’ have passed since Trump’s Jerusalem declaration and Armageddon hasn’t arrived,” remarked journalist Oren Kessler. “One is loath to make predictions of continued calm in the region, but thus far the doomsday prophecies have not materialized.”

French journalist Piotr Smolar, who also waited for the “big” protest, wrote: “Dozens and dozens of journalists at Damascus gate, where nothing has happened until now.”

Joe Dyke, a reporter with Agence France Press (AFP), tweeted this photo showing more journalists than protesters at Damascus Gate. He wrote: “Small Palestinian protest at Damascus Gate in Jerusalem broken up by the Israeli police. They seemed to object to a picture of Trump as a toilet.”

Dyke later reported that he had “just walked through Jerusalem’s Old City and the situation is very calm. More police on streets but no issues as yet. Tourists milling about.”

The following day, Saturday December 9, we witnessed a repetition of the same scenario in Jerusalem. The city was relatively quiet, but the presence of journalists and photographers loomed large. At noon, a small group of Palestinians (25-30) staged a protest on the main business thoroughfare of east Jerusalem, Salah Eddin Street, while chanting slogans against Israel and the US.

Here is how the journalist Seth Frantzman of The Jerusalem Post, who was at the scene, described the situation: “There are more people with cameras here than anyone clashing (with police) at the moment.”

Frantzman later had this to say about the “clash”: “There are as many media and onlookers taking photos here as there are youth and police waiting for the clashes.”

There are nearly 300,000 Arabs living in Jerusalem, and the truth is that the vast majority did not take part in any of the small protests, which were staged deliberately as a show for the dozens of journalists who converged on the city. In fact, there were more protesters on the streets of Berlin, Cairo, Valencia (Spain) and Istanbul than in Jerusalem itself. With the exception of the two incidents at Damascus Gate and Salah Eddin Street, the remaining 28 Arab neighborhoods of Jerusalem were mostly quiet, with nothing dramatic happening.

The bored journalists were forced to don their helmets and bullet-proof vests and head to the West Bank, in the hope of capturing scenes of the “New Intifada.” What they found in the West Bank, however, was not unusual: minor “clashes” between stone throwers and Israeli soldiers occur almost every day.

Protests against Israel and the US are not uncommon on the streets of Ramallah, Hebron and Bethlehem. But for the “war correspondents,” there is nothing more exciting than standing behind burning tires and stone throwers and reporting from the heart of the “clashes.” Such scenes make the journalists look as if they are in the middle of a battlefield and are risking their lives to bring the story home to their viewers. They might even receive an award for their “courageous” reporting from danger zones!

That is what happens when you are afraid to go to Yemen, Libya, Syria or Iraq to cover the real bloodshed.

Let us be frank. The large number of journalists dispatched to Israel expected — even hoped — that Trump’s announcement would trigger a new Palestinian intifada.

This way, the media could blame Trump for “igniting violence,” instigating instability and “derailing” the peace process. It is all about media-based Trump-hatred. Of course, it is also about media-based Israel-hatred, searching for any excuse to blame the Jews for the “suffering” of the Palestinians. The journalists, however, will not let those pesky facts get in their way; they continue to report as if Jerusalem is engulfed in flames. The reality on the ground, though, is far from that.

A Palestinian man uses a slingshot to hurl stones at Israeli border police near Ramallah, on December 9, 2017. (Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)

  • “More journalists than protesters…” — Björn Stritzel, German journalist.
  • Protests against Israel and the US are not uncommon on the streets of Ramallah, Hebron and Bethlehem. But for the “war correspondents,” there is nothing more exciting than standing behind burning tires and stone throwers and reporting from the heart of the “clashes.” Such scenes make the journalists look as if they are in the middle of a battlefield and are risking their lives to bring the story home to their viewers. They might even receive an award for their “courageous” reporting from danger zones!
  • Jerusalem is tense, and has long been so, because the Palestinians have not yet managed to come to terms with Israel’s right to exist. That is the real story. The Palestinians rage and rage for only one reason: because Israel exists. Put that in a story and publish it.

The Palestinians declared a three-day-long “rage” spree over US President Donald Trump’s announcement recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Thus far, however, it seems that the real anger is showing up in the international media, not on the Palestinian street.

Question: How many foreign journalists does it take to cover the Palestinian reaction to Trump’s announcement? Answer: As many as the Israel-Palestinian-conflict-obsessed-West can manage to send.

The massive presence of the international media in Jerusalem and the West Bank has taken even the Palestinians by surprise. Since Trump’s announcement on December 6, dozens of additional journalists and camera crews have converged on Israel to cover “the big story.”

The American Colony Hotel in Jerusalem, once a favorite haunt of international reporters, is once again packed with journalists from around the world.

Some of these reporters, including those working for American networks, have been flown in from their working posts in London, Paris, Cairo and New York to cover what many of them are already calling the “New Palestinian Intifada.” But is it really a new intifada, or is it simply wishful thinking on the part of the swarm of Palestinian and foreign reporters?

In the past few days, we have seen wild exaggeration in the media as to what is really happening in and around the Old City of Jerusalem. What is evident, however, is that the number of journalists and photographers covering the protests in the city has thus far exceeded the number of Palestinian protesters.

Let us start with Friday, December 8, the final day of the announced Palestinian “rage.” The Palestinian Authority, Hamas and other Palestinian groups told us to expect mass rallies and protests after Friday prayers at the Al-Aqsa mosque compound. So did the reporters.

By early morning, at least six television production trucks were stationed in the small parking lot outside the Damascus Gate, the main entrance to the Old City of Jerusalem. The trucks belonged to various television stations were presumably brought there to film live broadcasts of the anticipated mass protests. Another 70-80 journalists and photographers were waiting, some impatiently, for the Muslim worshippers to finish their prayers and start their protests against President Trump’s announcement.

What we got in the end was a small and peaceful protest of some 40 Palestinians, who chanted slogans against Israel, the US and Arab leaders — including Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas, who was dubbed a “traitor” and “Israeli spy.”

Björn Stritzel, an honest and brave German journalist, tweeted from the scene: “More journalists than protesters after Friday prayers.”

The media frenzy was echoed by several other reporters. “Three days of ‘rage’ have passed since Trump’s Jerusalem declaration and Armageddon hasn’t arrived,” remarked journalist Oren Kessler. “One is loath to make predictions of continued calm in the region, but thus far the doomsday prophecies have not materialized.”

French journalist Piotr Smolar, who also waited for the “big” protest, wrote: “Dozens and dozens of journalists at Damascus gate, where nothing has happened until now.”

Joe Dyke, a reporter with Agence France Press (AFP), tweeted this photo showing more journalists than protesters at Damascus Gate. He wrote: “Small Palestinian protest at Damascus Gate in Jerusalem broken up by the Israeli police. They seemed to object to a picture of Trump as a toilet.”

Dyke later reported that he had “just walked through Jerusalem’s Old City and the situation is very calm. More police on streets but no issues as yet. Tourists milling about.”

The following day, Saturday December 9, we witnessed a repetition of the same scenario in Jerusalem. The city was relatively quiet, but the presence of journalists and photographers loomed large. At noon, a small group of Palestinians (25-30) staged a protest on the main business thoroughfare of east Jerusalem, Salah Eddin Street, while chanting slogans against Israel and the US.

Here is how the journalist Seth Frantzman of The Jerusalem Post, who was at the scene, described the situation: “There are more people with cameras here than anyone clashing (with police) at the moment.”

Frantzman later had this to say about the “clash”: “There are as many media and onlookers taking photos here as there are youth and police waiting for the clashes.”

There are nearly 300,000 Arabs living in Jerusalem, and the truth is that the vast majority did not take part in any of the small protests, which were staged deliberately as a show for the dozens of journalists who converged on the city. In fact, there were more protesters on the streets of Berlin, Cairo, Valencia (Spain) and Istanbul than in Jerusalem itself. With the exception of the two incidents at Damascus Gate and Salah Eddin Street, the remaining 28 Arab neighborhoods of Jerusalem were mostly quiet, with nothing dramatic happening.

The bored journalists were forced to don their helmets and bullet-proof vests and head to the West Bank, in the hope of capturing scenes of the “New Intifada.” What they found in the West Bank, however, was not unusual: minor “clashes” between stone throwers and Israeli soldiers occur almost every day.

Protests against Israel and the US are not uncommon on the streets of Ramallah, Hebron and Bethlehem. But for the “war correspondents,” there is nothing more exciting than standing behind burning tires and stone throwers and reporting from the heart of the “clashes.” Such scenes make the journalists look as if they are in the middle of a battlefield and are risking their lives to bring the story home to their viewers. They might even receive an award for their “courageous” reporting from danger zones!

That is what happens when you are afraid to go to Yemen, Libya, Syria or Iraq to cover the real bloodshed.

Let us be frank. The large number of journalists dispatched to Israel expected — even hoped — that Trump’s announcement would trigger a new Palestinian intifada.

This way, the media could blame Trump for “igniting violence,” instigating instability and “derailing” the peace process. It is all about media-based Trump-hatred. Of course, it is also about media-based Israel-hatred, searching for any excuse to blame the Jews for the “suffering” of the Palestinians. The journalists, however, will not let those pesky facts get in their way; they continue to report as if Jerusalem is engulfed in flames. The reality on the ground, though, is far from that.

Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Sends Formal Message To US Military: Leave Syria Or Else

December 10, 2017

Submitted by Elijah Magnier, Middle East based chief international war correspondent for Al Rai Media

Well informed sources have said the commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corp Brigadier General Haj Qassem Soleimani sent a formal verbal message, via Russia, to the head of the US forces command in Syria, advising him to pull out all US forces to the last soldier “or the doors of hell will open up”.

“My message to the US military command: when the battle against ISIS will end, no American soldier will be tolerated in Syria. I advise you to leave by your own will or you will be forced to it,” said Soleimani to a Russian officer. Soleimani asked the Russian officer to make known the Iranian intentions towards the US: that they will be considered as forces of occupation if these decide to stay in northeast Syria where Kurds and Arab tribes cohabit together.


Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps-Quds Force commander Qassem Soleimani in Aleppo province in 2015. Image source: Iraqi Shiite militia Harakat al Nujaba via Long War Journal

The Russians are not necessarily against the US presence and can adapt to this after defining the demarcation lines to avoid any clash, but Iran has a clear position and has decided not to abandon the Syrian President alone to face the US forces, if these stay behind.

Soleimani’s message to the US clearly indicated the promise of ‘surprise measures’ against the US:  “You shall face soldiers and forces you have not experienced before in Syria and you will leave the country sooner or later.”

Russia conveyed to the US that Iran will stay in Syria as long as President Assad desires, and he insists on liberating the entire territory from all forces without exception. Russia confirmed to the US its intention to refrain from offering any air support to Iran and its allies in the case of attacks on US forces. From the Russian perspective, the Iran-US dispute is not its concern nor on its agenda.

CIA Director Mike Pompeo said last week that he had sent a letter to Soleimani expressing his concern about Iran’s intention to attack American interests and “will hold Soleimani and Iran accountable for any attack in Iraq.”

Mohammad Mohammadi Golpayegani, a senior aid to the Grand Ayatollah Ali Khamenei confirmed Pompeo’s attempt to send a letter but said  “Soleimani refused to read it or to take it because he has nothing further to add.”

Sources in the area believe it is not unlikely that Kurdish groups – operating in al-Hasaka (Syria’s northeastern province) and who are faithful to the government of Damascus – are willing to spearhead attacks against the US forces. Many of these groups remained loyal to Syria: they reject any occupation forces on its land or the partition of the country.

Meanwhile, Al-Hasaka 2018 is being widely compared to 1983 Beirut where hundreds of US Marines and French paratroopers were killed following double suicide attacks by Islamists in the Lebanese civil war. The multinational forces became hostile rather than peacekeepers and were pushed to hastily exit Lebanon as a consequence of this attack. The future could well mirror these past events.

TRUMP’S GREAT AND INGENIOUS GIFTS

December 10, 2017
BY CAROLINE B. GLICK
 DECEMBER 7, 2017 22:19

Turning his back on the legacy of president Barack Obama, Trump beats a new path in American-Israeli relations.

US President Donald Trump, flanked by Vice President Mike Pence, delivers remarks recognizing Jerusa

With his recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital on Wednesday, US President Donald Trump gave a Hanukka gift to the Jewish people. But he also gave a Christmas gift to the American people.

Trump’s gift to Israel is not merely that 68 years after Israel declared Jerusalem its capital, the US finally recognized Israel’s capital.

In his declaration, Trump said, “Israel has made its capital in the city of Jerusalem, the capital the Jewish people established in ancient times.”

By stating this simple truth, Trump fully rejected the anti-Israel legacy of his predecessor Barack Obama.

In his speech in Cairo in 2009, Obama intimated that Israel’s legitimacy is rooted in the Holocaust, rather than in the Jewish nation’s millennial attachment to the Land of Israel. Whereas the Balfour Declaration and the League of Nations Mandate rooted the Jewish people’s sovereign rights to the Land of Israel in its 3,500-year relationship with it, Obama said that Israel is nothing more than a refugee camp located in an inconvenient area. In so doing, he gave credence to the anti-Israel slander that Israel is a colonialist power.

By asserting the real basis for Israel’s legitimacy, Trump made clear that the Jewish people is indigenous to the Land of Israel. He also made it US policy to view Israel’s right to exist, like its right to its capital city, as unconditional.

Trump’s extraordinary gift to Israel was an act of political and moral courage. It was also a stroke of strategic brilliance.

To understand why it was both courageous and wise, consider the political, institutional and geopolitical contexts in which Trump acted.

Politically, Trump made his declaration in a poisonous political environment at home.

The Democrats responded to Trump’s victory last year over Hillary Clinton by seeking to delegitimize his victory. To this end, they chose to oppose everything that he says and does.

And so, despite their long-held and recently voiced support for US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, leading Democratic senators including New Jersey’s Cory Booker and California’s Diane Feinstein condemned Trump’s declaration.
The Democrats’ rejection of Trump’s move was an astounding act of hypocrisy. But it was also predictable.

Trump had to know the Democrats would oppose him. And he also had to know that in their opposition, they would empower US allies in Europe and the Arab world to publicly condemn his move in a manner they would be loath to do if the Democrats supported him. And still, despite this sure knowledge, Trump took action.

And it wasn’t only the Democrats, the Europeans and the Arabs Trump willingly opposed. His chief opposition came from within his own government.

Since 1949, the State Department has driven US policy on Israel and on the Middle East as a whole. And since 1949, the State Department’s Israel policy has refused to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Even worse, it worked to undermine any international support for Israel’s sovereign rights to Jerusalem.

For instance, a 1962 State Department memo to then-president John F. Kennedy’s national security adviser McGeorge Bundy laid out the law on Jerusalem.

The memo told Bundy that not only did the State Department oppose Israel’s decision to make Jerusalem its capital. It detailed the efforts the State Department had made over more than a decade to lobby every government that opened diplomatic ties with Israel not to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and not to locate its embassy in Jerusalem.

Over the years, various presidents have taken issue with the State Department’s policy toward Israel. These disputes have been informed both by genuine disagreement with Foggy Bottom’s institutional hostility toward Israel and by political concerns. The American people have been supportive of Israel, and that support has only grown over the years.

But despite their genuine disputes and political concerns, no president who opposed State Department hostility toward Israel seized control over US Israel policy from the State Department.

That is, no one did until Trump did.

On Wednesday, in a very public way, Trump wrested control over US policy toward Israel generally, and Jerusalem specifically, from the State Department. The consequences of Trump’s seizure of the reins over US Middle East policy are enormous, and entirely positive for the US itself. Indeed, two in particular are great gifts to the American people.

In his declaration, Trump said, “Today we finally acknowledge the obvious. That Jerusalem is Israel’s capital. This is nothing more or less than a recognition of reality. It is also the right thing to do. It’s something that has to be done.”

Under State Department control for 68 years, US foreign policy relating to Israel specifically and the Middle East as a whole was made in deliberate defiance of reality. In the case of Jerusalem, rather than recognize the plain fact that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital city, the State Department insisted on pretending that Israel has no capital. This position was a central component of an overall US Middle East policy that the State Department similarly based on a defiant rejection of observable reality.

So it happened that for decades the US ignored the multiple, systemic pathologies of the Arab and Islamic world and opted instead to predicate its policies on the false assumption that the problems of the Middle East are rooted in Israel’s refusal to sufficiently appease the Arab world.

By rejecting the State Department’s position on Jerusalem, and by noting that its position is rooted in a rejection of reality, Trump initiated a new course for US Middle East policy rooted in reality for the first time in three generations.

The salutary implications of a reality-based policy for America are as self-evident as the fact that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital.
This brings us to the second positive advantage America gained from Trump’s Jerusalem declaration.

Over the span of decades, a US president’s power to determine foreign policy was measured by two things: the amount of daylight between White House statements and traditional State Department positions, and the disparity between US foreign policy positions and the positions of Western European governments and the EU. The greater the distance between White House positions and those of the State Department and Europe, the more power the president held over US foreign policy.

The only exception to this rule was Obama. Like the State Department, and like Europe, Obama’s foreign policy was predicated on the need for the US to appease its enemies at the expense of its allies – first and foremost Israel. It was also based on the State Department’s long-held assumption that the US should align its policies with Europe. Given his convictions, Obama could advance his agenda in harmony with the State Department.

During Obama’s tenure, US allies and enemies alike were conditioned to believe that the US would not challenge them and that the State Department controlled US foreign policy. The Europeans came to believe that despite their military and economic dependence on the US, it was the US that had to take their policies into account when it fashioned its foreign policies – and not the other way around. This was certainly the case in the Middle East where Obama eagerly joined them in appeasing Iran and turning the screws on Israel.

As for America’s enemies, Obama and his State Department made it clear to the North Koreans and Iranians that American threats were a joke. The US would do nothing to seriously challenge them. And in the interests of appeasing them, the US was willing to sell out all of its allies.

With this track record, it was clear that Trump would need to take dramatic action to show US allies and enemies alike that the rules of the game had changed in Washington.

Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem did the job.

By recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in defiance of Europe and the Arabs and in the course of wresting control of Middle East policy from the State Department, Trump showed US allies and enemies alike that he is in charge. And he is willing to act even when doing so provokes US enemies to threaten retaliation, when he believes that his action advances US interests.

Trump’s move wasn’t merely strategically brilliant. It was also a political masterstroke.

Consider the liberal Union for Reform Judaism’s contradictory responses to his recognition of Jerusalem. In the lead-up to Trump’s declaration, URJ President Rick Jacobs condemned Trump’s anticipated move which he claimed would harm chances for peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

Jacobs’s statement – which was supported by key groups within the Reform movement – effectively divorced Reform Judaism from Zionism. By giving the PLO a veto over Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem, Jacobs said that the Reform movement thinks PLO claims to Jerusalem are stronger than Jewish claims.

This self-evidently anti-Zionist position apparently didn’t go down well with the Reform rank and file. Because less than 24 hours after Trump gave his speech, the URJ issued a new statement praising Trump’s move.

And the URJ leaders aren’t the only ones with egg on their face.

Trump risked political support in the opinion polls by deepening US support for Israel in the face of strident opposition from the Democrats, the State Department, the media, the Europeans and the Arabs because he believed it was the right thing to do.
And as it works out, it was also an astute, if incredibly gutsy political move.

By standing up to the Democrats who just months ago called for him to take the very actions he took, but now opposed them because it was Trump adopting them, Trump exposed the likes of Booker and Feinstein as hypocritical opportunists. At the same time, he took ownership of a policy of supporting Israel that enjoys broad and deep public support.

To sum up then, by recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, Trump made clear that US support for Israel is not conditioned on anything. Israel, the Jewish state, is supported by the US because it deserves US support as an allied democracy.

Trump strengthened himself against his political opponents by taking ownership of a deeply popular foreign policy position.
He took control of US foreign policy from a State Department that opposes his policies. He made reality, rather than the defiance of reality, the foundation of US Middle East policy.

He put US allies and enemies on notice that he is calling the shots in US foreign policy. And he took a large step toward restoring US credibility as a superpower.

Oh, and he accomplished all of these things without spending a dime.

For his gift to Israel, Trump now enters the pantheon of Israel’s friends in the annals of Jewish history.

For his gifts to America he has taken his place among the most astute American statesmen.

And for his political and economic mastery, he enters the ranks of the geniuses of American political history.

www.CarolineGlick.com

Good News from Israel

December 10, 2017

(This post is part of my Good News Friday posts that I publish every Friday, bringing good news from Israel to counteract all the gloom and doom that dominates the news cycle nowadays, and to shine a positive light on the Middle East’s only democracy. — anneinpt.)

Good News Friday | Anne’s Opinions, 8th December 2017

It’s been a very exciting week this week, and it’s a great feeling to close the week with another Good News Friday installment.

Besides the actual news of Trump’s speech recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, the timing should be noted too. The speech took place just a day after the 69th anniversary of Israel’s first Prime Minister David Ben Gurion’s announcement of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel – 5th December 1949.

Chabadniks (Lubavitcher Hassidim) will assure us that the timing was perfect for another reason. The speech took place on 19th Kislev, the date that the original Lubavitcher Rebbe was released from the Tsar’s prison, and from that year on, the date is a great festival for Chabad.

But it’s not only Donald Trump who vocally supports Israel. Listen to this amazing speech by Vice President Mike Pence at the 70th anniversary of Resolution 181:

Brian of London describes Pence’s speech and quotes the highlights:

You can watch the whole speech above, but here are the most important passages:

We gather today on the eve of a historic anniversary to celebrate what happened here, in this very hall, 70 years ago when the United Nations declared to the modern world an ancient truth, that the Jewish people have a natural, irrevocable right to an independent state in their ancestral and eternal homeland. (Applause.)

So in May 1947, less than two years after its inception, the United Nations formed the Special Commission on Palestine to propose paths forward for that region.

And on November 29, 1947 — 70 years ago tomorrow — the General Assembly gathered in this great hall and passed Resolution 181, calling for creation of the Jewish State of Israel. (Applause.)

Now to be clear: Israel needed no resolution to exist, for Israel’s right to exist is self-evident and timeless.

Nor did that resolution create the State of Israel. For Israel was born of the sweat and the sacrifice of the Jewish pioneers who risked everything to reclaim their beloved lands, with — in those well remembered words — “with a plow in one hand and a rifle in another.”

They turned the desert into a garden, scarcity into plenty, and an age-old dream into a reality. And their striving and their sacrifice laid the foundation for what took place in this hall 70 years ago.

And only six months later, the Jewish State of Israel was born — answering the ancient question first asked by the prophet Isaiah: “Can a country be born in one day, can a nation be born in a moment?”

It happened when on May 14, 1948, Israel declared “the natural right of Jewish people to be the masters of their own fate, like all other nations, in their own sovereign state.” (Applause.)

While Israel was built by human hands, it’s impossible not to see the hand of heaven leading its people, writing their history in the restoration of this ancient people to their land of their birth.

In fact, the God of Abraham told His people, “Even if you have been banished to the most distant land under the heavens, from there I will gather you and bring you back to the land which your fathers possessed.”

The quoting of prophet Isaiah is fantastic. If you want to understand how important that passage of Isaiah is relating to the rebuilding of Israel, Rabbi Lord Sacks wrote an extensive commentary. We’d expect nothing less from such a deeply religious mensch as Mike Pence, so it stands out dramatically as different from pretty much everything we’ve seen for almost a decade coming out of the USA.

Read the rest of the article – it’s excellent.

Turning now to a completely different subject, the following story demonstrates Israel’s care and concern for its neighbours in the entire region, even for its enemies, which Trump and Pence described so well (and which the antisemites deny or twist the facts about).

The IDF has expanded its medical facilities for Syrian civilians caught up in the civil war and has now equipped a maternity hospital over the Syrian border:

The Israel Defense Forces has equipped a new maternity clinic over the border in Syria, as part of its Operation Good Neighbor instituted a year and a half ago to provide medical, infrastructural and civilian aid to Syrian victims of the ongoing civil war.

An Israeli soldier cradling a child at the Israeli field hospital near the Syrian border. Photo courtesy of IDF Spokesman’s Office

The hospital reportedly was opened in November in response to an urgent request from Syrian doctors who saw that many women could not get to the existing maternity hospital due to the difficult conditions.

The clinic is staffed entirely by Syrian healthcare workers using equipment donated by the Israelis. More than 200 pregnant women so far have sought medical care at the new clinic, and 30 women have given birth there.

“We took a decision not just to sit on the fence and see people slaughtered and suffering every day – we decided to help them. And we understand that it might change their feeling about Israel a little bit – that we are not Satan,” the IDF commander of Operation Good Neighbor told The Jerusalem Post.

The IDF’s Mazor Ladach field hospital for Syrians includes a playroom and provides hot meals, hygiene products and medicine to take home. Photo courtesy of IDF Spokesman’s Office

Last September, the IDF set up a secure field hospital, Mazor Ladach (literally, Bandaging Those in Need) on an unused Israeli military post in the southern Golan Heights. The Israeli staff has cared for hundreds of Syrians already, according to the Operation Good Neighbor commander.

Mazor Ladach includes a playroom and also provides hot meals. “A Syrian mother who comes with her children leaves the clinic with healthier children and an aid kit from the State of Israel that includes food, basic hygiene products, and medicine,” wrote the commander on the IDF’s official blog.

In addition, over the past five years an estimated 4,000 wounded Syrians have been transported to Israeli hospitals for treatment.

I am so proud of our crazy little country! Kol hakavod is to mild a term to salute the IDF and its medical teams as well as the government authorities who worked towards providing this urgent medical care for the civilians of our enemies. Hopefully these actions will change attitudes (they are already) and make new friends out of our potential enemies.

And one more item from Israel’s medical sector. An extraordinary story of Mark Lewis, a British Jew who was suffering from multiple sclerosis (MS) and underwent successful stem cell treatment in Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem has been made into a UK Channel 4 TV documentary.

A prominent Jewish lawyer has taken part in a ground-breaking clinical trial at Israel’s Hadassah hospital that offers treatment which could finally offer a “miraculous” cure for the 2.5 million sufferers of multiple-sclerosis.

Mark Lewis — best known as the media lawyer who took on Rupert Murdoch over the newspaper phone-hacking scandal — is one of 48 patients to have participated in the revolutionary year-long trial at the internationally renowned hospital in Jerusalem.

At the Israeli hospital, Mr Lewis was injected with stem cells derived from his own bone marrow, directly into the spinal fluid.

Speaking to the JC before a Channel 4 documentary this week about his treatment, he said he had benefited immediately afterwards from “a miraculous 60 per cent improvement in my condition”.

He added: “Within minutes I had feeling and movement back that I had not had for years.”

“The Herzl quote they speak about a lot in Israel sums it up,” he said. “ ‘If you will it, it is no dream’.”

Watch this fantastic clip about Mark Lewis’ treatment and results:

Mr. Lewis’ observations about Israeli society are heart-warming, and it is great that they will receive a wide audience:

Mr Lewis praised the pioneering Israeli technology used by the multi-faith medical team at the university hospital at Ein Kerem. “The trial is the complete antithesis to BDS,” he said. “It is Israeli technology treating everybody with a team that has no concept of religion, nationality or whatever.

“It is purely about helping people, whoever and whatever they are — no matter what god they do or do not believe in.”

Mr Lewis said the sense of unity among the medical team was striking. “The leading professor was born in Greece and is Christian but is now an Israeli citizen. There was a Muslim doctor, there was someone from the former Soviet Union and there was a specialist who is the sister of someone known to be an Israeli ‘settler’.

“But all I noticed was this real sense of everybody pulling together to try and crack this thing.”

Research into the treatment’s efficacy for MS patients began at the Hadassah in 2007. It was one of the first experiments in which advances in stem cell treatments were applied to neurological diseases.

By a stroke of luck, Mr Lewis was holidaying in Israel nine years later when he heard from a friend that the hospital was seeking patients for the full-time trial.

Since being diagnosed with MS, Mr Lewis’s symptoms have grown progressively worse and he feared he would have to give up work within a few years. His life expectancy was put at just 65 years.

Mr Lewis said the first thing he did on flying out to Israel to begin the trial was to visit the Kotel to say prayers.

As to the treatment itself:

The treatment is extremely painful for the patient. In order to be injected directly into the spinal fluid doctors insert the needle, which is four inches long, between the patient’s vertebrae.

“I cannot describe to you the pain,” Mr Lewis said. “That injection took about one hour and 20 minutes — I thought I was going to faint.”

The patient’s own bone-marrow stem cells are first extracted, then enhanced and then injected into the spinal cord.

Each patient then undergoes monthly neurological evaluations including MRI scans and techniques to detect neuro-regeneration.

In addition, electrophysiological and visual tests are performed of patients’ brains with up to five complete neuro-cognitive evaluations performed for each patient.

Professor Karussis Dimitrios, Hadassah’s internationally renowned neuroimmunologist, will then write a report on the results allowing other medical facilities around the world to use the findings.

Mr Lewis says that some of the initial positive responses to the treatment have now began to fade and he believes another shot of injections would bring similar benefits.

“Think of it in the same way as if you were suffering from diabetes. You wouldn’t just be given one insulin shot and then told you were finished being treated.

“The treatment was over a year ago now – and I am ready for another shot. But that may never happen of course. It depends on the final results of the trial and the goodwill of the hospital.”

Kol hakavod to Professor Karussis Dimitrios and the entire research team at Hadassah Hospital for discovering and implementing this treatment. May Mark Lewis have a full and speedy recovery, refuah shlema, and may all the other countless sufferers of MS benefit from this treatment too.

On this optimistic note, I wish you all Shabbat Shalom. This week we celebrate the first days of Chanukah, so I wish you all Happy Chanukah, חג אורים שמח as well!