Archive for March 8, 2019

Women’s Day 2019 

March 8, 2019

Women in the IDF serve side-by-side and even command their male counterparts. Let’s take this #IWD2019 to remind ourselves that they’re no different.

 

 

Syrian Kurds want secure border strip, reject Turkish “safe zone” 

March 8, 2019

Source: Syrian Kurds want secure border strip, reject Turkish “safe zone” – Middle East – Jerusalem Post

The Kurdish-led authorities reject the idea of a big “safe zone” because it would envelop Syrian towns and cities that are located right at the border.

BY REUTERS
 MARCH 8, 2019 14:34
Syrian Kurds want secure border strip, reject Turkish "safe zone"

 QAMISHLI – The Kurdish-led authorities in northern Syria want a multinational force to deploy at the Turkish border and reject the creation of a large “safe zone” that Turkey hopes to control, a Kurdish politician told Reuters.

Fawza Youssef said the Kurdish-led authorities have proposed their idea in talks with U.S. officials while stressing the need for continued joint efforts against Islamic State, which is on the brink of losing its last enclave in eastern Syria.

The proposal for a deployment at the border aims to counter Turkey’s demand for a “safe zone” under its control – an idea that is out of the question for the main Syrian Kurdish groups that fear Turkish plans to attack their region.
The question of security arrangements for northern Syria has been brought into focus by the looming territorial defeat of Islamic State in parts of Syria where the United States and its allies have deployed to battle the jihadists.
The Kurdish-led authorities, the main U.S. partner in Syria, were left scrambling for a strategy to protect their region from Turkey in December when President Donald Trump abruptly declared his intention to withdraw all U.S. forces.
Since then, the U.S. has partially reversed that decision and will keep 200 troops in Syria to join what is expected to be a total commitment of about 800 to 1,500 troops from European allies to set up and observe a safe zone in the northeast.
Turkey considers the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia to be a terrorist group indistinguishable from the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) which has fought an insurgency inside Turkey since the 1980s.
Ankara, which already controls a chunk of northwestern Syria, has repeatedly threatened to attack the northeast. But the U.S. presence has frustrated its plans.
The Kurdish-led authorities reject the idea of a big “safe zone” because it would envelop Syrian towns and cities that are located right at the border, Youssef said. Instead, they are proposing arrangements for a “border strip.”
“This border strip – we do not call it a safe zone – must guarantee security for both sides with international peacekeeping forces, we believe this would be a moderate solution,” she told Reuters in an interview in Qamishli.
“This is our view. There are meetings between American officials and the Turks in recent days too. We don’t know what was discussed or what happened, but so far we have proposed this issue in this form,” she said.
“The main point we focus on in this matter is that our areas are (already) safe zones.”
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Wednesday his government could not accept anyone but Turkey taking control of the safe zone.
Youssef said a multinational force at the border “can be a guarantor for both sides, for the Turkish side and for ours.” “In the first place, we are the ones suffering from threats, not the Turkish side,” she said.
The prospect of the U.S. withdrawal prompted the Kurdish-led administration to seek new talks with Damascus with the aim of striking a political deal that would safeguard their autonomy and provide security guarantees against any Turkish attack.
Youssef indicated there had been no progress.
“Before any of this happened, we have several initiatives to try to reach a settlement over administrative, political, cultural and other affairs with the regime. So far, the regime has not been responsive with any positive step,” she said.

 

Why is a known racist backing Somalian-born Ilhan Omar? 

March 8, 2019

Source: Why is a known racist backing Somalian-born Ilhan Omar? – American Politics – Jerusalem Post

David Duke tweeted, “Ilhan Omar is NOW the most important Member of the US Congress!” with an edited picture of Rep. Omar with a smiling heart eyed emoji next to her face.

BY JERUSALEM POST STAFF
 MARCH 8, 2019 05:57
Why is a known racist backing Somalian-born Ilhan Omar?

On Thursday, David Duke named Omar “the most important member of US Congress” in a tweet and then sent readers back to his website where he has a recorded hour-long and overtly antisemitic show.

During the show, he does not specifically mention Omar, but he does justify euthanasia killings of Jews by the Nazis, charges the United States with having “unleashed Jewish power,” and attacks “Jewish elite control over media.”
Duke tweeted, “Dr Duke & Eric Striker: By Defiance to Z.O.G. Ilhan Omar is NOW the most important Member of the US Congress!” with an edited picture of Rep. Omar with a smiling heart eyed emoji next to her face.
Z.O.G. stands for Zionist Occupation Government, an antisemitic conspiracy theory.
This is not the first time that Duke has defended Omar. Back in early February, when she first brought controversy upon herself for tweeting that politicians are pro-Israel because they are paid to be by AIPAC, Duke publicly backed her, as well.
Late Thursday, the US House of Representatives passed new legislation condemning “antisemitism, Islamophobia, racism and other forms of bigotry,” with Omar’s support.

 

Why is a known racist backing Somalian-born Ilhan Omar? 

March 8, 2019

Source: Why is a known racist backing Somalian-born Ilhan Omar? – American Politics – Jerusalem Post

David Duke tweeted, “Ilhan Omar is NOW the most important Member of the US Congress!” with an edited picture of Rep. Omar with a smiling heart eyed emoji next to her face.

BY JERUSALEM POST STAFF
 MARCH 8, 2019 05:57
Why is a known racist backing Somalian-born Ilhan Omar?

On Thursday, David Duke named Omar “the most important member of US Congress” in a tweet and then sent readers back to his website where he has a recorded hour-long and overtly antisemitic show.

During the show, he does not specifically mention Omar, but he does justify euthanasia killings of Jews by the Nazis, charges the United States with having “unleashed Jewish power,” and attacks “Jewish elite control over media.”
Duke tweeted, “Dr Duke & Eric Striker: By Defiance to Z.O.G. Ilhan Omar is NOW the most important Member of the US Congress!” with an edited picture of Rep. Omar with a smiling heart eyed emoji next to her face.
Z.O.G. stands for Zionist Occupation Government, an antisemitic conspiracy theory.
This is not the first time that Duke has defended Omar. Back in early February, when she first brought controversy upon herself for tweeting that politicians are pro-Israel because they are paid to be by AIPAC, Duke publicly backed her, as well.
Late Thursday, the US House of Representatives passed new legislation condemning “antisemitism, Islamophobia, racism and other forms of bigotry,” with Omar’s support.

US general says Islamic State a ‘serious generational problem’ 

March 8, 2019

Source: US general says Islamic State a ‘serious generational problem’ – Israel Hayom

“What we are seeing now is not the surrender of ISIS as an organization but a calculated decision to preserve … their capabilities,” says Gen. Joseph Votel • Insurgents going underground in remote areas, “waiting for the right time to resurge,” he adds.

Associated Press and Israel Hayom Staff // published on 08/03/2019
   
U.S. Central Command Commander Gen. Joseph Votel testifies before the House Armed Services Committee, Thursday 


Even as Islamic State militants are losing the last of their territory in Syria, the militants who remain are unbroken and radicalized, and represent a “serious generational problem,” the top U.S. commander for the Mideast said Thursday.

Gen. Joseph Votel told the House Armed Services Committee that unless the extremist group and its ideology are handled properly, ISIS will sow the seeds of future violent extremism.

“What we are seeing now is not the surrender of ISIS as an organization but a calculated decision to preserve the safety of their families and preservation of their capabilities,” said Votel, adding that the insurgents are going to ground in remote areas, “waiting for the right time to resurge.”

Votel’s assessment provides a reality check to U.S. President Donald Trump’s repeated assertion in recent weeks that ISIS has been defeated and lost 100% of its “caliphate,” which once covered a vast territory straddling Syria and Iraq.

Votel said ISIS now holds less than a single square mile, a retreat that he called “a monumental military accomplishment.” But he said the fight against ISIS and violent extremism is far from over.

A stubborn group of militants has kept that sliver of land in the Middle Euphrates River Valley for weeks, and many militants have escaped and scattered to other areas of the country where they are now in hiding.

In time, said Votel, ISIS will emerge more as an insurgency, and the group will focus on smaller, low-level attacks, assassinations and other violence that could disrupt efforts to bring stability to the country. The U.S. and its allies, he said, will have to keep up the pressure on the group and continue to train and advise the Syrian Democratic Forces and other partners on the ground.

Lawmakers peppered Votel with questions about Trump’s sudden decision to withdraw from Syria – which was abruptly announced in a tweet. Votel and Katie Wheelbarger, the acting assistant defense secretary for international affairs, said they did speak with coalition allies around the globe after the tweet to reassure them that the U.S. wasn’t pulling out immediately.

Since then, Trump has agreed to keep about 400 U.S. troops in the country, including 200 in northeastern Syria and another 200 in al-Tanf in southern Syria. Votel said the key goal continues to be the defeat of ISIS.

“What seems to be driving the withdrawal is the president’s split-second decision to send out a tweet saying we’re going to get out of Syria,” said Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash., the panel’s chairman. “The argument we want to make is that what’s driving our military decisions is military necessity.”

Votel said there is no pressure on him right now to meet a specific withdrawal date, and he said the U.S. is “making sure that we protect our forces, that we don’t withdraw in a manner that increases the risk to our forces going through this.”

House members also expressed deep concern about any potential for U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan and the ongoing peace negotiations between the U.S. and the Taliban. Zalmay Khalilzad, the U.S. envoy leading the talks, has said there have been slow, steady steps forward in the meetings in Doha.

Votel was asked if the conditions in Afghanistan, where the Taliban continues to wage attacks against Afghan and coalition forces, are ripe for a U.S. withdrawal. He answered that “the political conditions where we are in the reconciliation right now don’t merit that.”

Lawmakers said that while they agree with the idea of negotiations for peace, they are not willing to trust the Taliban and believe the group and its al-Qaida links remain a threat to America.

The Taliban provided safe haven for al-Qaida terrorists who planned and orchestrated the Sept. 11, 2001 attack on the U.S.

 

Lebanon warns against using Israeli pipeline in disputed waters 

March 8, 2019

Source: Lebanon warns against using Israeli pipeline in disputed waters – Israel Hayom

Planned EastMed gas pipeline from Israel to Europe must not violate Lebanon’s maritime borders, “especially when it comes to any eventual attempt from Israel to encroach” on Lebanon’s jurisdiction,” Lebanese FM tells U.N., EU, Cyprus, Italy and Greece.

Reuters and Israel Hayom Staff // published on 08/03/2019
   
Lebanon’s Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil 


Lebanon on Thursday warned its Mediterranean neighbors that a planned EastMed gas pipeline from Israel to the European Union must not be allowed to violate its maritime borders.

Beirut has an unresolved maritime border dispute with Israel –  which it regards as an enemy country – over a sea area of about 860 square kilometers (330 square miles) extending along the edge of three of Lebanon’s southern energy blocks.

Israel is hoping to enlist several European countries in the construction of a 2,000-kilometer (1,200-mile) pipeline linking vast eastern Mediterranean gas resources to Europe through Cyprus, Greece and Italy at a cost of $7 billion.

Lebanon’s foreign minister, Gebran Bassil, said he had written to U.N. Secretary General António Guterres, EU foreign policy head Federica Mogherini and the foreign ministers of Cyprus, Greece and Italy to request that the pipeline does not infringe on Lebanon’s rights within what it claims as its exclusive economic zone.

In a copy of the letter sent to Greece’s foreign ministry seen by Reuters, Bassil said Lebanon would not allow its sovereignty to be breached, “especially when it comes to any eventual attempt from Israel to encroach on Lebanon’s sovereign rights and jurisdiction over its EEZ.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday said that U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will visit Israel within the next few days to help with its plan to export natural gas to Europe.

“In a few days, the leaders of Cyprus and Greece will come here, together with … Pompeo, to advance a gas pipeline from Israel to Europe via these countries,” Netanyahu said.

Pompeo on Monday said his visit to the region will also include a stop in Beirut and Kuwait.

Lebanon last year licensed a consortium of Italy’s Eni, France’s Total and Russia’s Novatek to carry out the country’s first offshore energy exploration in two blocks. One of the blocks, Block 9, contains waters disputed with Israel.

Lebanese leaders have repeatedly warned Israel not to encroach on its offshore oil and gas reserves.

A number of big gas fields have been discovered in the eastern Mediterranean Levant Basin since 2009. However, the region lacks significant oil and gas infrastructure and political relations between the countries – including Cyprus, Greece, Egypt, Israel, Lebanon and Syria – are strained on a number of fronts.

In January, eastern Mediterranean countries, including Israel, agreed in Cairo to set up a forum to create a regional gas market, cut infrastructure costs and offer competitive prices. Lebanon and Turkey did not participate in the meeting, nor did war-torn Syria.

Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz, who attended the forum, said at the time that Israel will begin exporting natural gas to Egypt in a few months’ time.

Steinitz said Israeli exports to Egypt were expected to reach 7 billion cubic meters annually over 10 years. About half the exports were expected to be used for Egypt’s domestic market and half to be liquefied for re-export, he said.

 

Democrats failing on anti-Semitism

March 8, 2019

Source: Democrats failing on anti-Semitism – Israel Hayom

Jonathan S. Tobin

Back in November, I wrote that the election of radicals like Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York), Ilhan Omar (D-Minnesota) and Rashida Tlaib (D-Michigan) wouldn’t have much impact on the U.S.-Israel relationship. I reasoned that the trio of newly elected radicals would be backbenchers without power or influence, while the Democratic leadership of the House remained solidly pro-Israel and friends of the Jewish community.

But as the events of the last week have shown, I was wrong about that, especially in thinking that Democrats would speak out specifically against anti-Semitism if a member of their caucus acted as Omar has done.

Yet now that it has happened, I wouldn’t be surprised if their faithful Jewish Democratic supporters simply shrug it off.

The Democratic Party as a whole is shifting to the left. But with the bulk of Democrats, especially officeholders, still reliably pro-Israel, there could be no comparison between it and Britain’s Labour Party, which under the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn has been captured by anti-Semitic radicals.

But while the Democrats are not yet the moral equivalent of Labour, there can no longer be any doubt that AOC, Omar and Tlaib are far from powerless. Indeed, they have not only intimidated the Democratic leadership but also demonstrated their ability to rally much of the party, including leading presidential candidates, around the cause of defending Omar from facing any consequences for her anti-Semitic hate. This feat calls into question not only the future of a bipartisan consensus on behalf of Israel but also the future of the Democratic Party as a political home for centrist Americans.

But above and beyond the political implications of Omar’s evading consequences for her spreading of hate, this should shock American Jews out of any remaining complacency they might have had about the willingness of the Democrats to stand with them against anti-Jewish bias.

What may be even more depressing is that most of American Jewry won’t take any of this seriously or draw any conclusions about it. That’s because history has taught us that liberal Jews will do nothing to hold the Democrats accountable for their shocking failure.

Omar had twice before issued anti-Semitic statements, one of which she had been forced to apologize for by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the Democratic leadership. But her apology and disingenuous claim that she was unaware of the meaning of the anti-Semitic tropes about Jews controlling the world or attempting to buy off members of Congress were meaningless. Last week, she doubled down on her hate by spouting off about supporters of Israel being guilty of dual loyalty, another classic anti-Semitic trope.

Yet when some demanded action, what the Democrats did was worse than inaction. Much of the House Democratic caucus revolted at the idea of a resolution condemning anti-Semitism, even if it didn’t name Omar. They embraced Omar’s claim that she was the victim in this drama. Omar had singled out “Jewish colleagues” as being guilty of targeting her and Tlaib – another serial purveyor of anti-Semitism – for discrimination because they were Muslims. Three of the leading Democratic candidates for president – Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren – supported these claims when, while condemning anti-Semitism out of one side of their mouths, they also defended Omar and opposed any specific condemnation of her hate.

House Democrats backed down in the face of support for Omar from much of the party. Pelosi, who knew very well how insincere Omar’s previous apology had been, exonerated her of any intentional anti-Semitism. Democrats ignored the fact that as supporters of an anti-Semitic BDS movement, there was no doubt that the hate espoused by Omar and Tlaib was intentional and purposeful. The claim that their goal was to start a conversation about U.S. foreign policy or to speak up for Palestinian human rights is a blatant lie. As BDS supporters, their goal is Israel’s destruction and to delegitimize its Jewish supporters, not to merely initiate a debate about the peace process. The claim that supporters of Israel are guilty of Islamophobia is another brazen falsehood.

Equally disingenuous is the claim that the right is as guilty of anti-Semitism as the left. The claims that U.S. President Donald Trump and Republican members of Congress are also guilty of anti-Semitism are bogus. There is simply no comparison to what the Democrats are enabling and even supporting from Omar and anything that GOP officeholders have done or said with respect to anti-Semitism.

The resolution that did pass was a joke. It not only avoided mentioning Omar but was also turned into a laundry list of every conceivable sort of hatred (with the sole exception of bias against Catholics and evangelical Christians that has been demonstrated by many liberal Democrats in recent years). It was the moral equivalent of the response to the Black Lives Matter movement by some, who spoke instead of all lives mattering – a stand that most Democrats had condemned.

AOC and her leftist pals are setting the agenda for Democrats. This will have a genuine impact on the 2020 presidential race, which has already appeared to show that Democrats have been shifting to the left, and make it easier for attacks on Israel and Jews to become part of the campaign.

This ought to horrify the majority of American Jews who remain loyal supporters of the Democrats. But don’t expect many of them to take action or do anything to hold their party accountable. In this hyper-partisan era, most liberal Jews are more interested in defeating Trump than in confronting anti-Semitism.

Facing the truth about the state of the Democratic Party would force them to choose between their partisan interests and defense of the Jewish community. And that is not a choice that most American Jews are prepared to make, even if means supporting a party that treats anti-Semites and their enablers as rock stars. Along with the direction of a Democratic Party that just took another step towards being Corbynized, that is the sorriest aspect of this dismal chapter of American Jewish history.

This article is reprinted with permission from JNS.org.

Jonathan S. Tobin is editor in chief of JNS – Jewish News Syndicate. Twitter @jonathans_tobin.